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.

No comments:

Post a Comment