Thursday, January 28, 2010

Embogoné—Cranberry Beans, Sage, and Rosemary Sauce

Cooking Italy Assignment
Embogoné—Cranberry Beans, Sage, and Rosemary Sauce, p198

Well, now, that was rat tasty, and just right for a wintery evening's meal.

Cranberry beans, I've often wondered exactly what they are, turn out to be borlotti beans, the same ones I've been getting canned for years. No dry or fresh ones to be found here, so I used some Colorado River Beans that were part of a Christmas gift package.

Cooked they look like mini-borlotti beans:

I had a pound of beans, which was 2-1/2 cups, more than the 1-1/2 needed for the recipe. I went ahead and cooked them all up, resulting in 5 cups in total, and have frozen a good 2 cups in bean juice for another time.

The recipe asks for the bean sauce to be served with pappardelle. Interesting that the pappardelle I'm used to seeing are quite a bit wider and longer than the 1" by 6" lengths that Hazan suggests. I didn't feel like hand-cutting noodles this evening, I so used my 1/2" wide cutter and kept the pieces rather short. Next time, I'll make them even shorter, though, and might even consider hand cutting them. I rolled to only 6, since we both prefer this thickness, and that extra texture is nice with the beans. And I used my old pasta recipe (1 cup flour, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus enough water to make a nice dough), since it's just enough for dinner for two.

Although there were only two of us, I made the entire sauce recipe. We'll have the rest another night soon, with either packaged pasta or hand-cut pappardelle, depending on my mood and energy. I didn't mix the pasta and sauce as instructed, just put them on the plate, topped with Parmesan.

If you were using boxed pasta and canned beans, this would be quite a fast and easy dinner. Start the water for the pasta; chop chop a bit for the pancetta, onions, and herbs; start the sauce; cook the pasta; and there's a hearty and tasty meal.

Monday, January 25, 2010

This week in the kitchen

Monday/25-Jan-10: No one wanted to go to the boulanger yesterday, and last night I forgot to make bread yesterday, so we were breadless today. Opened a new package of oatmeal this morning for breakfast, and it turned out to be the "real" kind that needs to cook for 30 minutes!

For lunch, I made a ... stew? ... with the bit of leftover lardon from the fridge, 3 turkey sausages, the last (hooray!) of the spinach gnocchi, and a cup of frozen evaporated milk. Wasn't half bad.

For dinner there were turkeys scallops with a pan sauce of chicken broth and balsamic vinegar. And smashed sweet potatoes mad from the last ones we had. And a big salad. Cleaning out the fridge for shopping tomorrow.

Tuesday/26-Jan-10: Shopping today, at Leclerc for a change. Noticed Vie Pratique Gourmand on sale there; so much for my theory that this is a store-related magazine. Bought two filets of sabre (scabbardfish), long skinny things, and made Fish Curry with Broccoli and Carrots (MC). Easy and fast.

Wednesday/27-Jan-10: The fridge temp got turned up accidentally. Our morning yogurt was almost icy. And the lettuce and cucumber in the crisper were frozen.

Put chicken on to marinate for Yassa au Poulet (MC) in the morning. This is a recipe I've made before, adapted from at least two versions; supposedly the national dish of Senegal. Good stuff. Served with rice and Carrot and Onion Salad(MJ1, p171), which is an old favorite.

Put the beans for tomorrow's pasta dish on to soak.

Thursday/28-Jan-10: Cold, sleet, and slippery roads this morning, so I didn't make it to the market. For lunch we had the second round of the Melissa-inspired shrimp pizza. To use the oven even more (this gas tank has got to be empty soon!) and heat up the kitchen, I made Beaujolais Buttermilk Coffee Cake (soon to be MC) recently discussed in the Cooking Italy group. It was good.

Cooking Italy tonight, Embogoné, a tasty and hearty bean sauce with pasta. Cooked all of Jody's beans, so we'll have a second dinner of the sauce plus I've got a good 2 cups in the freezer now.

As we were upstairs shutting down for the night, we heard a crash, the sound of glass breaking, downstairs. In the kitchen we found an innocent-faced Sophie with the coffee cake, upside down on the floor, relatively intact because of waxed paper below (now above) and plastic wrap above (now below). But the glass casserole in which it baked was shattered. Shattered, not just broken. And we'd eaten only two pieces out of the cake. :-( Ed says I have to make it again.

Friday/29-Jan-10: This evening we took ourselves to La Bellone for dinner.

Saturday/30-Jan-10: Snow this morning. In the afternoon, I made Cranberry-Apple Bread (MC), using cranberries and keeping the kitchen warm. Then some shopping.

For dinner there was a half recipe of Penne with Red Pepper Sauce and Broccoli (MC, VegPlanet, p290), well, it was cavatappi, not penne. And a salad of mâche. And some cheese Pisé du Lot, which was new for us and we didn't especially like. And the Cranberry-Apple Bread finally.

Sunday/31-Jan-10: Leftover Yassa au Poulet for dinner with polenta. Had a round zuccchini to be used. For the stuffing I sautéed half a red onion, then added garlic, the chopped innards of the squash, some chopped mushroom, and some pine nuts. Filled the squash halves and put them on to steam while the polenta and chicken got done; topped them with a bit of feta as they were served. Ed said the squash was a keeper recipe. What recipe? For afters, we finished off the Pisé du Lot and had more Cranberry-Apple bread.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Broccoli and Anchovy Sauce over Orecchietti

Cooking Italy Assignment
Broccoli and Anchovy Sauce, p173

This is another fairly quick pasta sauce, similar to what I might make on an ordinary cooking night. Broccoli and Pasta Somehow is often on the menu here. I used store-bought orecchietti (this being one of my favorite pasta shapes right now), but might make them by hand another time.

The idea of anchovy sauce can be off-putting for those of us who find anchovies pretty disgusting. But in recent years, I've frequently found that they add a nice, un-anchovy-like flavor when mixed into other things, e.g. a sauce like this or a little bread stuffing I've used with a rack of lamb and for artichokes.

I didn't search out the salt-packed anchovies that Hazan prefers. I suspect that needs a fancier fish-monger than my grocery store provides. I'll probably do this eventually, because I'd like to try this dish the way it orter-be. Instead I used curled up anchovies from the freezer. (I did note that Hazan says you can curl them up and store them in olive oil. Next time I'll try this.) The frozen ones were rather strong smelling as they began to cook, but the odor goes away before long (with the help of the exhaust fan).

I've done the "melting" business before, but always directly over a low heat, not over a pan of simmering water like this. I lifted my broccoli out of its water and used that pan and already simmering water for the "double boiler" effect.

When the anchovies have "melted", there are no longer any big pieces visible in the pan.

With the broccoli cooked and the anchovy sauce at this point, you can set everything aside, which makes this a nice prepare-ahead meal. When you're ready to eat, warm the anchovy sauce and stir in the broccoli and some chopped red chili.

Once this has warmed through, it's tossed with the drained pasta and grated cheese. (Oops, I forgot to get a hard sheep cheese to substitute for romano, so just used extra parmigiano-reggiano.) And serve 'er up. Yum!

Monday, January 18, 2010

This week in the kitchen

Monday/18-Jan-10: For lunch we had sandwiches with the leftover chickpea croquettes, a bit dry, but tasted fine.

Started tonight's dinner with Lemony Carrot Salad with Dill (soon to be MC), a surprise hit, since I hadn't really expected the dill to work so well with the carrot. Starting to use up the cranberries (impulse buy), there was Cranberry Chicken accompanied by Escalloped Potatoes.

Looked through 31Dec-13Jan issue of Vie Practique Gourmand. (This mag seems to be related to the Intermarche chain, since I've never seen it for sale elsewhere. It's not a swank cooking magazine, but down-to-earth and practical.) The theme of this issue was using up your holiday leftovers. None of the recipes explicitly call for leftovers, but you can infer what French homes are eating for the holidays from the ingredients. Their point is not just to reheat your leftovers, but transform them into new dishes. There are terrines (a really interesting one of lentils and salmon), soups, flans, tarts, soufflés, casseroles, pastas, all sorts of things to use up the fish (fresh and smoked), cheese, foie gras (!), etc., that didn't getting eaten by your family and guests. There's also a nice little article on varying your vinaigrette, making it "light," fruity, creamy, etc.

Every issue of VPG has a feature on seasonable foods you'll find in the shops, as well as two weeks of menu plans (three-course cooked meals for lunch and dinner) with many recipes included. I love looking through this section. I'm still trying to figure out what makes an entrée/starter vs a plat/main. I still struggle with the timing of getting the starter and the main on the table in sequence without a big gap in time; having a starter seems to limit your main course to things that don't need lots of last-minuter preparation. Hmm ... maybe this is one of the qualifications of the starter. I do need to study this a bit.

Tuesday/19-Jan-10: Shopping day again. I came up with about ten main courses for the next week. It's just not possible to eat so many dinners.

Tonight's dinner was a modified version of Tilapia Corn Chowder, with perche de nil rather than tilapia. A nice soup. Cranapple Crisp (MC) for dessert; we'll be eating this for several nights to come. It's good.

Shopping turned up the 14-27Jan issue of Vie Practique Gourmand. This issue's theme is crêpes. I'd already noticed that crêpes seem to be an "in" thing right now. Is there a crêpe season? All the shops have ads for crêpe pans, crêpe makers, prepared crêpes, etc. There's an article about arranging a Mexican soirée, but no sources for food. (My Dutch source seems to have died, so I'm looking for something here.)

Wednesday/20-Jan-10: Started with Lemony Carrot Salad with Dill (MC) again; it was still yummy. The main was Soufflé à l'Aubergine (OtherHalf, p131), accompanied by a side of brown rice. The recipe says it serves four as a main with one large eggplant. This seems hard to believe since it's a pretty light-weight filling, i.e., a bit of onion and garlic sautéed with the innards of the roasted eggplant, then two egg whites beaten and folded in. Tasted fine, but not sure I'd do it again. Finished the bit of tomme aftwards, plus another helping of Cranapple Crisp. I've been reading through The Other Half of the Egg in the last week or so. I noticed lots of the recipes seemed very French. Then I noticed Jacques Pépin is one of the authors. I've had this book forever; I think it must have been a BOMC purchase. I'd never realized this before!

This sprang to mind today, so I thought I'd share this quote from Edouard de Pomiane's introduction to French Cooking in Ten Minutes, originally published in 1930:

The first thing you must do when you get home, before you take off your coat, is to go to the kitchen and light the stove. It will have to be a gas stove [as opposed to a coal-burning one; electric stoves weren't available at the time], because otherwise you'll never be able to cook in ten minutes.

Next fill a pot large enough to hold a quart of water. Put it on the fire, cover it, and bring it to a boil. What's the water for? I don't know, but it's bound to be good for something, whether in preparing your meal or just making coffee. If you're planning to deep fry anything, put a pot half filled with lard or cooing oil on another burner.

All this should be done immediately, because the time necessary to heat the water or fat shouldn't count in the ten minutes it takes to cook your meal. Now that everything's started, you can take off your coat and start cooking.

Dr. de Pomiane was a "scientific" teacher of cooking in the first half of the twentieth century, a celebrity chef of his time, with his own radio show. He wrote a number of cookbooks, at least two of which have been translated into English. He writes as if he's talking to you. The style is completely charming and very evocative of the time in which it was written. I don't think I've actually cooked anything from this book (I do use his Cooking with Pomiane), but I love to pick this one up for a good read.

Thursday/21-Jan-10: A fairly simple Cooking Italy dinner tonight, Broccoli and Anchovy Sauce over Orecchiette. This was followed by a nice, big salad with beets and avocado. Later we ate the rest of the Cranapple Crisp while we watched another episode of Civilisation.

Friday/22-Jan-10: Today was Leftover Day. For lunch, I warmed up some small scallops in the leftover ancho sauce and served over rice. The sauce wasn't as good left over as it was on the first night. For dinner, added some sliced ham to the scalloped potatoes; that was pretty good for no effort. A big salad to go with it.

In the afternoon we went and bought a new stove. They offered a price more than €400 less than previous quoted, and we say Yes please. It will be white rather than a color, but a color would have cost what we saved. It will be 4-5 weeks before we see it.

Saturday/23-Jan-10: Movie this afternoon and leftovers again this evening. Warmed the carrot-leek tart and served it with a big salad. Good as leftovers too.

Sunday/24-Jan-10: Tonight I made a shrimp pizza, with Melissa's recent post as inspiration. I mixed a pyramid of goat cheese with the results of roasting a head of garlic and spread this on as the "base." Topped with 400g gambas sauvage, deheaded and peeled, some chopped parsley, and some grated cheese (an odd mix of mozzarella, parmesan, and gruyère). Not bad at all.

Didn't get the Ebogoné started today—something to do tomorrow, for Tuesday's dinner.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tortine alle Carote e Porri

Cooking Italy Assignment
Tortine alle Carote e Porri, La Cucina Italiana, Nov-09

This carrot and leek tart is the January bonus for Cooking Italy. I've been wanting to make the chard tart, one of November's assignments, but the chard in the shops hasn't looked very good of late. So I chose this instead.

The foundation for this tart is a crust that includes almonds. Since I had a sack of ground almonds sitting around (whatever did I buy that for?), I used that rather than grinding almonds. And I followed closer to Judith Jones' instructions for tart dough from The Tenth Muse, than to the instructions here. (I get consistently good dough following Jones' instructions, so I'm not included to do things very differently.) I put the flour, ground almonds, salt, and cold butter into the food processor and pulsed for 15 alligators. Then added the yolks and ice water and pulsed for 10 alligators. Voila!

The rest of the tart is quite easy to prepare, although it takes a bit of clock time. My carrots took about 10 minutes longer to cook than the recipe suggested. And it only took one leek to make 2 cups sliced. The leeks are sautéed till soft. The carrots are boiled with an herb bundle (flat-leaf parsley, thyme, and marjoram), puréed, then added to egg yolks and grated Parmesan. (I wonder why the recipe calls for the purée to be whisked into the cheese and yolks, rather than adding those into the food processor, which is already dirty? A few pulses and you've saved the clean-up crew a bowl and a whisk. Next time ...)

The dough is rolled out and pressed into the bottom of a buttered and crumbed spring-form pan. My pan was about 8-1/2", rather than 9" and it was fine. I think the smaller 8" one would have worked also. Top with the leeks, then the carrot purée, decorate with some reserved carrot coins, sprinkle on more cheese, and in the oven. My oven was having a hot day (350F being its minimum temperature when it's in a good mood), but the tart was not overdone after 40 minutes.

Although it tasted fine, the crust seemed a bit damp on top near the filling. In retrospect, I think I might pop it into the oven for 5 minutes before filling it. After baking, the tart held together well, so the slices were quite attractive on the plate. I like the idea of making individual tarts of this, but can't imagine that I'd get very much use out of individual tart pans, so find the larger tart more practical.

Monday, January 11, 2010

This week in the kitchen

Monday/11-Jan-10: Amazing - the raviolis didn't freeze overnight outside. They're certainly well-refrigerated, though, so we'll have them tomorrow night for dinner. Tonight we had Creamy Shells with Broccoli and Ham (MC), using a bit more of the dried ham, and a salad. A chunk of some cheap St. Maure for afters.

Tuesday/12-Jan-10: Threw together some chicken soup for lunch, nice on a cold day.

For dinner it was sweet potato ravioli, round 2. Sunday evening, I put them outside to freeze, but they didn't, in spite of sub-freezing temps. So we just considered them well refrigerated and had them tonight. Made a sauce with butter and olive oil, with garlic and sage and pine nuts. Still not wonderful, but edible. Big salad, some goat cheese, and then someChocolate Loaf Cake (MC).

Wednesday/13-Jan-10: Shopped this morning, radish leaf soup for lunch. Bought some fish and made a dish with Hitomi's yellow curry paste, very loosely following the recipe on the label, and added some peas for color. (Some kousebanden would have been nice. Must add those to our garden list.) Served with Cucumber Salad (Delightful, p51), which is always good, although quite hot tonight. Chocolate cake after.

Thursday/14-Jan-10: Didn't make it to the market today, drip, drip, drip. Intended to make the carrot-leek tart from Cooking Italy, but didn't get started till too late. Instead I warmed up the leftover leek and potato tart and we had that (yummy) with a nice salad of mâche. Finished off the chocolate cake for dessert.

Got a huge stack of magazine today from AccessUSA; two months' worth since they neglected to include magazines in last month's package. Really need to start working through my stack of food magazines. After dinner this evening, I dashed through last June's issue of Guide Cuisine and saved a recipe for a salad with lentils, radishes, black olives, rrbps, and feta with a bit of lettuce and vinaigrette. Sounds like a nice summer salad. Also looked at the Sept/Oct issue of Cook's Illustrated. There's a nice sounding Austrian Potato Salad that I added to my favorites. And a thing about foolproof vinaigrette that doesn't separate, using a dab of mayo. Maybe. I don't really obsess on the fact that my vinaigrette sometimes separates. A bit on making your own vanilla extract looks interesting, since this is something I have to bring from the US; favorite. And a blurb about making your own ricotta, which isn't available on the site.

Now, we can't have another leek tart tomorrow night. Wonder what we'll eat?

Friday/15-Jan-10: Today we went off to look at stoves. Very depressing. The ones I like are going to be pushing €4,000 or more. Looks like compromise is in order. Sigh.

Dinner was Chickpea Croquettes with Greek Salad Topping (Vegetarian Times mag, oct09). The croquettes as pictured look more like patties, and certainly that's what the instructions are telling you. They're supposed to be cooked with almost no oil, but that hardly works. Quite tasty, but a bit of a mess. We both thought it would be better to make smaller bits, no bigger than a cork and deep-fry them. But they you've got finger food rather than dinner. Steamed broccoli with lemon juice on the side. And a bit of chabichou for after.

Saturday/16-Jan-10: Another day of procrastinating about the carrot-leek tart. Really have to get that started tomorrow morning. Dinner was Shrimp in Mild Chile Sauce (MC), followed by a salad of mâche, followed by a bit of tomme de something. Good, it was.

Sunday/17-Jan-10: A busy afternoon in the kitchen. After making the crust for the carrot-leek tart, I made some pâte brisée for the freezer, some Cajun spice mix, and a jar of apple-apricot butter (first time with apricots).

Dinner was the Tortine alle Carote e Porri for Cooking Italy. While that was in the oven, we munched some pâte on bread. The tart was accompanied by some vinaigrette-dressed lettuce. Afterwards we finished off the chabichou.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cappellacci—Ravioli Filled with Sweet Potatoes

Cooking Italy Assignment
Cappellacci—Ravioli Filled with Sweet Potatoes, p212

Well, I've done it, I've made ravioli again after a previous, um, disappointing attempt. Things went along better than the last time, but I can't say I was that happy with it.

This is a classic filling from Emilia-Romagna, says Hazan, "furtively sweet," but since the required pumpkin (winter squash) is not available in the US, she suggests using sweet potatoes instead. These are baked, then mixed with crushed amaretti, proscuitto, egg yolk, Parmesan, parsley, and nutmeg for the filling.

The instructions for baking the sweet potatoes seem quite fussy, first 20 minutes at 450F, then 40 minutes at 400F. Then you slice the sweet potatoes open and let them dry in the oven, now turned off. It doesn't seem to me that the change in baking temperature accomplishes much useful. Letting the opened sweet potatoes dry in the oven was an interesting idea, though.

When I went to get the box of amaretti from my "stash," I realized that they weren't regular amaretti, but amaretti virgiana, a softer, larger version of the real thing. Since it tasted rather amaretti-like, I plopped a single one into the pan with the sweet potatoes when they were drying, to dry it out a bit. After this, it crushed in the mortar quite easily.

With no proper Italian proscuitto available, I used a local dried ham that I bought on impulse a few weeks ago when it was on sale.

I rolled my pasta sheets to 7 again, just because I can do it now, but wonder if stopping on 6 would have been better. Also, I didn't consistently make sheets that were at least 4" wide, so my raviolis were a bit oblong rather than square. Nevertheless, they sealed up nicely and stayed closed when they boiled, so I was pleased with that.

The recipe should have made 140 2"-square cappellacci. I had maybe 80, mostly about 1"x2". I wasn't compulsive enough to count those babies one by ones, but estimated rows and columns. There were a lot. I cooked about half of them and put the other half outside to freeze overnight.

I served them a la panna, warmed in cream after being boiled. Topped with Parmesan, this is a really simple and quick way to serve filled pasta that I often use if I find something interesting in the shops.

So, followed by a salad, this was our dinner. Definitely better than the last ravioli that I made, although neither of us really cared for the filling. The proper pumpkin may be be "furtively" sweet, but there's nothing furtive about sweet potatoes. There has to be another winter squash that would work in this situation. We thought acorn squash might be the thing. (I haven't actually seen one of those since we moved to Europe, too bad, and we're planning to plant them when we get our potager going.) These have a more complex taste and are less hit-you-over-the-head sweet.

There was quite a bit of filling left over. I stirred in another bit of chopped ham and froze it. I'll use this to stuff something in the next months, maybe more raviolis using the machine attachement to make smaller, tidier raviolis.

Monday, January 4, 2010

This week in the kitchen

Monday/4-Jan-10: This morning I finished off the mustard. I'll use it for a sauce for tonight's pork chops. First impression? I really don't like Guinness all that much, so I shouldn't expect to like this mustard, should I? But, it was easy to make. If I can find a source for mustard seeds here, it's definitely an idea to play around with. In smaller quantities, since this is almost a liter/quart of mustard!

Spicy Guinness Mustard
– 1 12-oz bottle Guinness Extra Stout
– 2 cups brown mustard seeds (10 oz)
– 1 cup red wine vinegar
– 1 tbl kosher salt
– 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
– 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/4 tsp ground cloves
– 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
– 1/4 tsp ground allspice

Combine ingredients in a nonreactive mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1-2 days so that the mustard seeds soften and the flavors meld.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor and process, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, until the seeds are coarsely ground and the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a jar and cover.

Refrigerate overnight and use immediately or refrigerate for up to 6 months. (The flavor of the mustard with mellow as the condiment ages.)

Yield: 3-1/2 cups
Kaye's notes:
  • The recipe is a magazine clipping from what I thought was an English magazine, but I see it uses US spelling, so I don't have a clue where it's from.
  • I used a 33cl bottle of Guinness, about 12 oz.
  • 10 oz of mustard seeds was about 1-3/4 cups. The mustard still seemed a bit runny at the end, so 2 full cups might be better.

For dinner I sautéed some pork chops and made a sauce with chicken broth from the freezer, créme fraîche, and Guinness mustard. Not bad. Accompanied by Rosemary Roasted Potatoes & Goat Cheese (MC) and a salad with cuke, beet, avocado, and onion topped with a vinaigrette. A good combination, but the vinaigrette should have had lemon instead of vinegar (a lemonette?). More fig flan for dessert.

Tuesday/5-Jan-10: Went to make chicken stock this morning, with the remains of the tandoori chicken, only to discover that it was a bit fuzzy and smelled really bad. Have to roast another chicken soon, so we can have stock.

For dinner we had Shrimp-Stuffed Eggplant (MC), well, loosely that recipe, I've never really followed it exactly. Turned out surprisingly good, even with an eggplant nearing its use-by date. Served with trio rice this time, not having thought to start brown rice early enough. Finished up with a bit of the nice camembert we've been eating on.

Wednesday/6-Jan-10: Had trouble keeping my cooking list for the next week down to manageable level. There are simply too many wonderful things to make and not enough time. Shopped, and will probably skip the market yet again tomorrow since the roads probably won't be too good that direction.

Tonight I made a 2/3 recipe of Stir-Fried Garlic Pork (HotWok, p102), easy and delicious. Accompanied by Sesame Green Beans (now MC) and rice. More fig flan (now bring us your figgy pudding?) for dessert and still one more round to go.

Thursday/7-Jan-10: We had Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken (MC), with Coriander Layered Potatoes (MC) to use the last bit of cilantro I bought at the holidays, and Roasted Carrots with Cardamom Butter (now MC). And finished off the fig flan at last, good to the last drop! Had problems with an overfilled oven, so everything took longer to cook than expected. (One day we'll have a proper stove.) But all tasted good, and tomorrow I can make chicken stock to refill the freezer.

Friday/8-Jan-10: Didn't feel much like cooking today. The stock didn't get made. Didn't put the beans on to soak last night, so the Cooking Italy beans didn't get made. Oh well. Dinner turned out to be a variation on Farfalline "haute couture" with shrimps, scallops, and leek sauce, a recipe that I collected recently. Should have had squid ink pasta (ha!); none in house, and certainly none in the shops round here. Tri-color penne was pretty enough. Might do this again with some changes. The leek sauce was pretty bland, and cooled off (it's cold in the kitchen!) quite a bit before serving. The recipe has cayenne added to the shrimp and scallops, which just accented the blandness of the leeks. Think I'd stir them all together, warm it up, correct seasoning, and then plonk it on top of the just-plated pasta. Save some of the shrimp and scallops to top it all off with. This was followed by a big salad. Then we finished off the last bit of camembert while watching another episode of Civilization.

Saturday/9-Jan-10: Started some chicken stock this afternoon; set it outside to cool. Will remove the fat, strain, and freeze it up tomorrow morning. For dinner, there was Leek and Potato Tart with Thyme (MDTarts, p30) using pâte brisée from the freezer. The crust was delicious, but I really don't have the hang of making it pretty. Homely, but yummy. Started with some salad and the last of the foie gras with magret. Oink! No room for dessert. Walked the dog in the snow instead.

Sunday/10-Jan-10: Finished off the chicken stock this morning. Froze quite a bit and put some in the fridge, since the freezer's getting full. No getting to the boulanger today with icy roads all around. Baked a loaf of bread and took it to the Boulesteix and have another loaf going for us overnight.

For lunch I heated the leftover sauce from the roast chicken with the last bit of cream from an open box and added some frozen chicken bits. Toasted some old bread in the oven which was heating up for the sweet potatoes. Oh boy, said Ed, S-O-S. Tasted awfully good on a cold afternoon.

Dinner was the Ravioli filled with Sweet Potatoes from Cooking Italy, accompanied by a simple salad of mâche with an Italian vinaigrette (no Dijon mustard). The ravioli required a pair of amaretti. When I got my box from my stash, I discovered that they were not true amaretti, but amaretti virgiana, which are larger and softer. I looked through lots of my Italian cookbooks and online to find information about the difference between these soft amaretti and the regular ones. I didn't find much of use, but I ran across this recipe in Pellegrino Artusi's Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well:

193. Amaretti Fritti (Fried Macaroons)

Take 20 small macaroons, soak them briefly in rum or cognac, but do not let them become too soft. Dip them in the batter described in recipe 156—the amounts given there should do for our purposes here. Then fry in lard, butter or olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with confectioners' sugar and serve hot.

This is not the kind of desert [sic] to send you into raptures and make you ask for more, but it will do in a pinch.

The last sentence makes all the search time worthwhile!

Coming soon, use-it-up, ideas, etc.
  • leftover leek/potato tart
  • buckwheat gallettes with chevre & gruyère (start using the buckwheat flour bought in error)
  • pizzocheri, p478 BittVeg
  • something stuffed with leftover sweet potato ravioli filling
  • James mentioned Thai pineapple fried rice with scallops; sounds interesting; to be investigated
  • spinach gnocchi as side dish (only one more batch to go!)
  • something with yellow curry paste Hitomi sent
  • chickpea (besan) dumplings in yogurt sauce (using recipes from Sahni and others)
  • something to use up Angela's soy milk