Monday, January 25, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/25-Jan-16: Busy in the kitchen all afternoon. Made the pastry for our dinner quiche (with chopped rosemary). While I was at it, I made some Tart Dough (Tenth, p256) for the freezer. Then I made some Ricotta Pound Cake (MC). This is yummy, but the cooking time is wrong and I'm making a 2/3 recipe to use a single bakje of ricotta; I need to figure out the proper cooking time, then write this up as a new recipe, with the the proportions I'm using. If I ever get Mastercook or some replacement working again.

Dinner was Cauliflower, Chevre, and Onion Quiche (web), which was quite good, although I suspect it had too much Gruyère. (It calls for 225g, about 2 cups; I used most of a 250g block, but I'm sure it was closer to 3 cups.) And the goat cheese was not noticeable. I cut the tart into sixths, rather than fourths, and served with a very plain salad, using up the beet dressing.

Tuesday/26-Jan-16: Dinner was Chicken with Lemongrass, Thai Style (web); this was easy and pretty good. (I used the bit of curry powder.) Served with rice and Broccoli in Oyster Sauce (Delightful, p58). The broccoli was good, but didn't really go with the chicken dish, even though they're both Thai. Oh well. For dessert I defrosted some mixed berries and served them over chunk of ricotta pound cake with a toefje of whipped cream, using up the can we got for the holidays.

Started a potful of chicken stock.

Wednesday/27-Jan-16: Froze up lots of chicken stock.

Dinner was from the freezer. A bit of Indian-ish chickpea stew, thickened a bit more, made into kind of samosas with the last two squares of pâte feuillitée. And some curried split pea soup. The gas ran out, and the new bottle didn't work very well. Maybe the regulator needs to be replaced. Sigh. We finished off with mini Magnums.

Thursday/28-Jan-16: Yay, worked on the backlog today! Decided on a weird, non-consistent sort of organization (for desserts), but one that I think will work for me. Sorting today, with some trashing. Will make another pass through for serious trashing.

Dinner was leftover quiche, with a salad. And Mixed-Berry Dutch Baby (web) for dessert. I used mixed berries, not just raspberries and blackberries. Had some trouble getting the oven to temp; the right one takes a long time before it decides to starting heating serious.

Yogurt on overnight.

Friday/29-Jan-16: Dutch baby for breakfast. Shopping today. For the first time, there were bakjes of sliced onion, carrots, etc. A bid sad, since this is first step on the path to less home-cooked food.

Dinner was Pasta met Broccoli en Zalm in Romige Sauce (web). This was okay, but nothing special. I picked up a package of salmon trout, rather than salmon; don't think it made that much difference. Dutch baby for dessert.

Saturday/30-Jan-16: Early dinner so we can go out late, but the weather is so miserable it looks like we may stay home. We had a half dose of Creamy Pea & Chicken Stew (web). It was pretty good, although I forgot to add the Gruyère at the end. The timings are a bit odd: by the time the cauliflower was cooked, the peas were overcooked. The white cauliflower and the white bits of chicken breast looked remarkably the same, so sometimes you bit into something unexpected. Might be better with thigh meat, or pork, or lamb. Meant to served over brown rice but forgot, so we just had it plain. Then a big salad.

Sunday/31-Jan-16: Dinner was (sort of ) Slow Cooker Creamy Pumpkin Soup (web). Didn't use the slow cooker, but simmered on the stove till everything was done enough to whizz with the staff blender. Didn't use 29oz of pumpkin purée, but just over 2# of winter squash, peeled and chunked. Since this wasn't a purée, I used used a bit more squash than asked and added less of the stock. It was good stuff.

The gas is working better now. Ed thinks he blew into it, adding moisture, which has worked it's way out. No sign of our kitchen mouse.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: yes!; #2 VEG/FISH: 5
This month: #3 PASTA: yes; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: no for Jan/Feb

Monday, January 18, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/18-Jan-16: Pizza tonight. Bottom up: pyramid goat cheese, pizza sauce from jarred roasted bell pepper, grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini, grilled mushrooms, grilled broccoli, chopped black olives, capers, mozzarella. It was good.

Yogurt on overnight.

Tuesday/19-Jan-16: Dinner out tonight. Nothing happened in the kitchen.

Wednesday/20-Jan-16: Shopping today. At one end of the cooler with desserts, I noticed some lumps of ready-made bread dough, for loafs, pizza, etc. Full of chemicals. Does anybody actually buy these things?

Dinner was some cod, dipped in seasoned flour and sautéed, with Lemon-Caper Pan Sauce (HowTo, p167), some orzo, and some steamed snijbonen. For dessert there were some store-bought chocolate puddings. Easy, nice.

Thursday/21-Jan-16: Used my last bit of frozen chicken stock to make some improvised broccoli soup for lunch. I really need to get making some more stock now.

Dinner was Pork Chops in Mustard Sauce (MC). Served with smashed potatoes and Cold Beetroot with Cream (Pomiane, p180). All good stuff. No dessert.

Haven't found a trace of our kitchen mouse. Wondering where she's gotten off to.

Yogurt on overnight.

Friday/22-Jan-16: An easy day today. Leftover enchiladas and rice for dinner, with a new batch of guacamole. C'est tout.

Still not sign of our kitchen mouse. A puzzle.

Saturday/23-Jan-16: We have an overabundance of red onions, since I seem to have bought them two weeks in a row when that wasn't needed. So I made a jar of Kaye's Pickled Red Onions (MC), using some very strong white vinegar diluted with cider vinegar. We'll see how they turn out.

Dinner was Chèvre-Tomato Pasta (BeardPasta, p150; cookbooker), which is based on Light Tomato Sauce (BeardPasta, p73; cookbooker) with some chèvre and Tabasco added. Although there was way too much sauce, it was still tasty. Served with a salad, using some of the dressing from Thursday's beets.

Sunday/24-Jan-16: Leftover pizza for dinner. Nothing else happened in the kitchen.

Had the intention to work on the recipe backlog today, but didn't get to it. The dining table was such a mess that clearing and sorting that took a lot of time.

Ed's got the wall behind the sink tiled. What remains are the bits left of the stove and at the end of the peninsula. However E's worried if we got enough of the trim tiles. He thinks they will be hard to cut and we may not have enough extras. Fingers crossed.

Yogurt on overnight.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 4
This month: #3 PASTA: yes; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: no for Jan/Feb

Monday, January 11, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/11-Jan-16: Tasty dinner tonight. I steamed some eggs to hard-boil them (setting the time, but forgetting to press Start, it's amazing I got them right), then made Hard-Boiled Eggs in a Spicy Cream Sauce (MJ1, p84). Accompanied by Gujerati-Style Green Beans (MJ1, p102) made with snijbonen (whatever they may be called in English), since haricots verts didn't look good this week, and Simple Buttery Rice with Onion (MJ1, p140). The egg dish was made without tomato paste, but was still extra yummy.

Tuesday/12-Jan-16: Late change of dinner plans. Dinner turned out to be Prawn, Leek & Lemon Risotto (web). Sort of. I didn't bake it, but made it on the stovetop like a regular risotto. Interesting thing about this recipe is that no wine is added. Instead, fresh lemon juice is stirred in to start things off; then more is added to finish it off. Ed thought it was a trifle too lemony.

Went to inventory some drugstore stuff prior to making an order and discovered that we seem to have had a mouse in the bathroom chewing labels. I've just recently cleaned that cabinet, so it must have happened recently. At the same time, Ed discovered mouse activity in the kitchen on the cookie shelf. The Figalous are okay; this time it's the chocolate-covered cornflake piles that were attached. We've got a live trap set tonight.

Yogurt on overnight.

Wednesday/13-Jan-16: Ed set the live trap in the bathroom. The mouse (assuming there's only one in the house) was busy in the kitchen last night. Trap has been moved now. Don't understand why the cats aren't interested. Guessing it might be one Oscar brought in. The bathroom is one of the places he likes to carry his prey to finish them off. Maybe one escaped.

Shopping today. Dinner was Salmon with Anchovy-Garlic Butter (web), which was quite yummy. The anchovy flavor goes away, leaving a delicious bit of sauce. Served with polenta and steam broccoli.

Thursday/14-Jan-16: Oops, went to put the goat on to marinate for tonight's dinner and realized that I goat the forequarter out of the freezer instead of the hindquarter. (I think I marked the hindquarter off the freezer list too. A roasted forequarter, no sure how that's going to work.

So, we had Roasted Goat with Mountain Herbs and Potatoes (O&C, p395) for dinner. Turned out pretty darn good. The hindquarter would have had more and better meat on it, but the forequarter was fine. The meat was easy to shred after cooking. I was out of the room and didn't hear the timer, so it might have gone slightly over an hour. But it was good. Followed by a big salad (with feta, of course, to go with the Greek goat). Followed by a concert in Limoges.

Friday/15-Jan-16: Ed says he noticed Sophie being interested in the shelf where I keep the dried fruit. Thought I'd better give it a look. Pulled out the box with the dried fruit. Apparently woke up a cute little mouse (female?) who scooted down between shelves and disappeared behind the shopping boxes. I cleaned off that shelf good. Doesn't look like she got into the fruit, but seems to have explored the basket with spices, chiles, etc. All boxed up, but lots of poop. Ed might put some peanut butter on the bait for tonight. Sure would like to take it off far far away from my kitchen.

Cooked chicken for enchiladas, but didn't feel like eating or assembling them. Picked the goat bones (and froze them up, waiting for me to cook the other quarter). Made up a hash sort of thing with onion, garlic, potatoes, broccoli, and goat, sauced with some Tikka Massala from the fridge. Not bad. Peaches with a toefje whipped cream from a can (too sweet!) for dessert.

Yogurt on overnight.

Saturday/16-Jan-16: Peg&Jim sent us some tortillas for xmas, so it was back to the Great West tonight for Enchiladas de Jocoque—Tortillas Filled with Chicken and Sour Cream (TLWest, p124). Served with Mama's Spanish rice and some guacamole. The enchiladas were okay, a bit bland, nothing special. No pimiento, so used some roasted yellow and red bell peppers from a jar. Used Greek olives, were probably the bland American black olives would have been better. One cup of stock and three cups of sour cream (crème fraîche, but I won't tell) made way too much sauce and it was too thin. I think it might have been better to reduce the stock to 1/2 cup (instead of 1 cup) and add to only two cups of sour cream. Then add only about 3/4 cup of this mixture to the chicken for stuffing.



Sunday/17-Jan-16: Scratched the falafel itch with some Crockpot Falalels (web). They weren't bad, although I'm not sure what the crockpot added. Better, I think, would be just to make them up, put them on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven. Served with lettuce and tomato and the falafel version of Tahini Dipping Sauce (WofE, p359). The crockpot recipe is rather similar to Jaffrey's recipe in WofE, spice-wise, except that Jaffrey starts with a cup of dried chickpeas that have been soaked for 24 hours, the chopped up in the food processor. Maybe I should try this next. There's also a hand-written not to bake "in oven for 20min@375F, loosen from pan & shake during baking." Might be healthier and easier than frying.

The kitchen mouse is still around. Last night she (I think it's a she) found the Figalous, a favorite of a previous mouse.

Progress on tiling continues. Much of the wall behind the sink is done; missing the bit in at the far right and the bits on the wall above the level of the window floor. And the trim. Steady progress.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 4
This month: #3 PASTA: yes; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: no for January/February

Monday, January 4, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/4-Jan-16: Lots of work today getting the blogs up-to-date and ready to publish to take advantage of the new year discount. Whew. And glad that's done.

Dinner was a half recipe of Smoky and Spicy Yogurt Marinated Chicken Kebabs (web; cookbooker). A trifle salty, but still good stuff. Should have been done on the grill, but I used the broiler instead. Served with steamed broccoli, topped with a bit of lemon juice, some trio rice, and a grated carrot salad. For dessert, we finished off the Bailey's Chocolate from new year's eve.

Tuesday/5-Jan-16: Busy day today, and dinner in Limoges. Nothing happened in the kitchen.

Wednesday/6-Jan-16: Re-collected a recipe from Eating Well, so we had Chile-Lime Veggie Noodles (web) for a second time. Liked it better this time, even though though I was out of limes and used a lemon instead. Fast and easy.

Thursday/7-Jan-16: For lunch we had the rest of the meat for the Malaysian Curry Puffs in sandwiches. Extra yummy. Onto the the Do-Me-Again list. The leftover Urab salad also held up well.

Shopping today. Bought a few things for the refugees, then came home and cleaned out cupboards. Might have to shop on the weekend to stock back up on flour, sugar, beans, tuna, UHT milk for yogurt, etc. Tomorrow I'll go help sort stuff for refugees, I think in Syria, and will deliver our box of food which will go to Dunkirk next week.

Dinner was an Easy Curry (web). Red curry paste, carrots, coconut milk, and more all blended up as a sauce with chunks of salmon. This was good, but I'll try it again with shrimp. Served over basmati rice with Karhai Broccoli (MJ@Home, p148), which didn't quite go, but was good enough.

Friday/8-Jan-16: I went with a friend to to help sort clothes and other stuff for a container going to Syria on Monday. Seemed like easy work, but I'm pooped now at the end of the day.

Dinner was simple, cêpe-filled pasta à la panna followed by a salad. Tasty and satisfying.

Saturday/9-Jan-16: Yes, fresh pasta at last! Cut as tagliatelle with the sauce from Pappardelle with Creamy Smoked Salmon, Caper, and Dill Sauce (web). The sauce is made with a bit of tomato paste, a bit surprising to me with the smoked salmon. (I bought that thinking of new year's eve, but we had so much to eat already, I never got it out.) The sauce is good, easy, and fast. Then a salad. Then we split an espresso midi magnum. (Turns out they have three sizes, the classic, the mini, and an in-between sort that's unlabelled.)

Sunday/10-Jan-16: Dinner was a halfish version of Eric Ripert's Spice-Crusted Duck Breast with Cumin-Scented Carrots (web). I had no star anise to grind and used aiguilletes rather than a whole breast half, but it was still good. The carrots were good too. Served with Clotilde Dusoulier's Perfect Roasted Potatoes (web), which is an old favorite.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 4
This month: #3 PASTA: yes; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: no for January/February

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Kitchen goals old and new

Kitchen goals for 2015

Another year where I haven't been cooking as much. Maybe this is a trend as I get older? Still enjoy tasty food though.
  • Backlog — Started out pretty good with this, but ended up terribly. This really needs some focus. I could take the approach of tossing everything, but there are some goodies hidden in those piles. I have made progress on my bedside stack of recipes. Occasionally I pickup up a handful and either toss or get them them filed into the "system".
  • Unused —I managed this about half the time and more in the first half of the year than the last half. Should do better. 
  • Grains — I did surprisingly well on this without, I have to say, paying it much attention.
  • Veg/Fish — We averaged just over 3.4 vegetarian or fishy meals a week. Slightly up from last year.
  • Pasta — I've done abysmally here, making pasta only four times this year. It's not that it's hard to make, but it costs time and energy. And I don't enjoy the clean-up after. But do enjoy the eating thereof. 
  • Bread — And I seem to have made (non-ABM) bread only once. Boo.
  • FotW — Plodding along with this. Have had to adjust the schedule several times, but still working at it. Both the reading and the cooking have been fun. It's just my general cooking lethargy that slows me down.
Not the most successfulf of years altogether.

Kitchen goals for 2016

For the next year, I need to cut back and be less ambitious, i.e., more realistic, with my goals. Working in general on reducing our Stuff, I need to focus seriously on clearing out my backlog of collected recipes. If I can't make some progress this year, next year I need to start tossing them fairly indiscriminately. Counting the number of times I've made vegetarian or fish meals is good; it would be nice to get the number back up a bit. I'd really like to get back to making pasta regularly, and get started making bread regularly. Should be finishing my trip through Foods of the World in 2016. Think I'll keep with the those goals but drop the grains goal (since I did ok but not good) without any real focus at all; and the unused cookbooks goal,which I can get back to when Foods of the World is complete. So we're left with:
  1. Backlog — Spend at least one hour each week on reducing my recipe clipping backlog and working out how this can be contained. Stacks and notebooks all over the house (living, dining, bedroom, office, anyplace else) should be reduced to a single, maintainable, usable system. My weekly menu planning routine should include reference to the backlog.
  2. Veg/fish meals — Cook at least three vegetarian or fish meals per week. Should be easy. 
  3. Pasta — Start making pasta at least once a month again. 
  4. Bread — Make real bread (non-ABM) once a month. (Shh! I also want to get back with the Craftsy bread course I started, but want to sneak up on it.)
  5. Foods of the World — Should finish this project in 2016. I've adjusted the schedule so there's a month and a half for each remaining book, with no overlap. Hope that helps with the "down" periods that seem to happen in August and towards the end of the year. extends for six weeks, so I need to be sure to count in the proper month.