Monday, March 29, 2010

This week in the kitchen

Monday/29-Mar-10: Started dinner with an old favorite, Curried Green Pea Soup (TooMany, p155); that was our veg. For the main it was Butterflied Roast Chicken with Chile-Cinnamon Rub (MC) accompanied by Clotilde Dusolier's Perfect Roasted Potatoes (MC). Another recipe I found for butterflied chicken directed you to remove the breast bone from the inside by cutting away the membrane, then prying out the bone with two fingers. I tried this, but couldn't get the bone to come easily free, so I just turned it over and flattened as usual. I should have turned it over and tried again, When I cut the chickie into pieces the breastbone was completely free.

Tuesday/30-Mar-10: Anticipating that I wouldn't feel much like cooking after talking with the elder care lawyer, I defrosted the West Indian Salmon Patties (MC) from 28cooks. These were as good as the first time. This is definitely a keeper recipe. For a side, I very vaguely followed the recipe for Hot Jamaican Rice (MC/2BTried). Will probably write this one up as a keeper with tonight's additions and changes.

Wednesday/31-Mar-10: Made another round of Apple-Plum Butter (MC) this morning, using six of the small apples from the cheap sack and four yellow plum; added some cardamom too.

For dinner there was Louisiana Grilled Shrimp (MC) and the leftover Hot Jamaican Rice and some steamed broccoli with garlic and chipotle flakes. Ed really likes the rice, so I need to write up the changes I made and save it.

Thursday/1-Apr-10: For dinner there was Eggplant Steak with Chickpeas, Roasted Red Peppers, Feta, and Olives(MC), an easy and fast old favorite. Very easy with the new broiler/grill. :-) There's leftover of the chickpea salad part to fill out another meal. The dressing for this is quite good. In the absence of any pitas in the house, I warmed some store-bought naans, which weren't too bad. Can't believe easter is coming right up. It should be a week away.

Friday/2-Apr-10: Ordered our freezer today; it will be delivered tomorrow morning! Now I need to find baskets to hold the contents to be. Missed the market yesterday; shopped today. Got salmon for tomorrow's dinner, lamb for easter, and some pork for chili next week.

Dinner was Cheesy Backed Shells and Broccoli, another disappointing Real Simple recipe. (I've unsubscribed from their newsletter now; think I also need to remove it from Google reader.) It was ok, but really nothing special at all. Make a nice salad as a second course, including the last bit of the roquefort still hanging around in the fridge.

Saturday/3-Apr-10: Dinner was Salmon Steaks with Lemon-Mustard Sauce (MC) with some nice salmon filets under the grill, accompanied by orzo and some haricots verts. Started with the leftover chickpea salad from Thursday. Finished up with some "roses", dark-chocolate-covered corn flakes. Goodness they were good.

Sunday/4-Apr-10: Easter dinner got its own post. I also picked the chicken, froze the meat, and started some broth that I'll use for chili next week. Need to get busy moving things from the freezer in the fridge to the big new freezer now living in the bathroom.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spaghetti with Carbonara Sauce

Cooking Italy Assignment
Spaghetti with Carbonara Sauce, p202

Ah, one of our favorite pasta dishes. This is so simple to make, we really ought to do it more often.

Hazan's recipe called for 20 ounces of spaghetti for six servings. This might work as part of a multi-course Italian dinner or as a side dish, but is pretty skimpy for a main course. Serving it for two, I used about six ounces of spaghetti with half the sauce. This didn't seem like an excessive amount of sauce.

Instead of pancetta I used almost the last bit of the dried ham I got on sale before the holidays, and cut it into thick strips as Hazan directed. It's a bit salty, but it was good in the dish. An unexpected aspect of this recipe is simmering the sautéed pancetta in white wine before adding it to the spaghetti.

The egg and cheeses (no Romano to be found, so I used only Parmean), ground pepper, and chopped parsley were mixed in the serving bowl, which I had first warmed a bit, since our room temperature is quite cool (especially since we'd been away from the house and the heating was off). The drained spaghetti is added to this bowl and tossed to coat with the egg-cheese mixture. Then the reheated pancetta is tossed with the spaghetti. Easy-peasy. And delicious.

Rather late with dinner, I got this plated just in time for Earth Hour. We ate our spaghetti and salad by candlelight.

Monday, March 15, 2010

This week in the kitchen

Monday/15-Mar-10: The buckwheat bread was again a hit. Such a good brown bread. Breakfast and lunch.

This week we're in clearing-out-the-fridge- mode, prior to our NL trip. For dinner there was Gratin d'Aubergines (MedSeed, p55). I made about a third recipe. My aubergine was quite small, so I added a courgette. Made a nice mixture. Then there was a big salad, followed by the last of the Petit Livarot. We ate all of this cheese in three sittings, maybe a bit much.

Tuesday/16-Mar-10: Finished off the buckwheat bread for breakfast. Picked the chicken and made stock. Froze some of the meat and save a bit out for dinner. Had in mind to made a chicken something for dinner with shrooms and broccoli needing to be used up, but found a Stirfry in Curry Sauce on 28cooks (soon to be MC) and made that instead. For dessert there was Bill's Slow Food Filled Apples (MC), tasty, although the apples weren't quite as done as they might have been. Baked apples seem like real home-style food. I can't quite imagine them in a restaurant. Ed's thinks they're not southern at all.

Wednesday/17-Mar-10: Worked a lot in the garden today. Started out thinking I'd make to make a chicken chowder sort of thing for dinner, but then Pour-Cousin Paella (Secrets, p249) came to mind, so I made that up instead. Used up the rest of a sack of small frozen shrimp, plus some of the dried ham that's still hanging around. Added a good squirt of harissa while it was cooking, which barely added any heat. Ended up adding chipotle tabasco at the table, which made it really good. For a starter, I tossed Cooking Italy's leeks and artichokes with a bit of vinaigrette and served with a half Little Gem each. This was better than the first night, we both thought. For dessert, I mixed up the last bit of ricotta with some cocoa and powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla extract. Good and rich.

Thursday/18-Mar-10: We had lunch at La Bellone today, so had our usual fruit and sandwich and crossword for dinner. I got the chicken stock ready for the freezer and whizzed up some faux pizza sauce. Pizza when we return. Tomorrow we're off to the Netherlands for a week of R&R.

Saturday/27-Mar-10: Dinner by candlelight for Earth Hour tonight. Spaghetti with Carbonara Sauce for Cooking Italy tonight, followed by a big salad. St Felicien for afters.

Sunday/28-Mar-10: Started the day thinking I'd roast a chicken by didn't feel like it in the end. Instead I made (more or less) a quarter recipe of Cooking Light's Spinach Pie with Goat Cheese, Raisins, and Pine Nuts, using up an open package of phyllo and the rest of the frozen spinach. It was pretty good, but nothing very special. Served with a big salad. Some scholiertjes for dessert.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Roast Chicken with Lemons; Braised Artichokes and Leeks

Cooking Italy Assignment
Roast Chicken with Lemon, p327
Braised Artichokes and Leeks, p452

I've made this recipe before, but it's well past time to roast another chicken, since there's no more stock in the freezer, so here we go again. It's basically just a salt and peppered chicken with two lemons inside. Ordinarily I might do one lemon and accompanied by onion, but the more lemons the merrier I guess. A good quality chick makes it better, or course. So here's this week's chickie all trussed up and nowhere to go (but the oven):

I'm clearly not an expert at this trussing business, but it works OK.

Although I didn't write any notes on this recipe the previous time, I seem to remember that the chicken wasn't done in the expected time. I wrote this off as problems with the old oven which, being thermostat-less, was never the best in the world. This guy got roasted in my shiny new oven, but still took longer than the advertised time, but the chickie weighed in at 1.6kg, which is just over 4# so maybe I didn't allow quite enough time.

While the chick was roasting, I made the braised artichokes and leeks dish, which we found quite disappointing. Two vegetables we like, turned to blah. First you cook the leeks till they're done, then you add the chokes and cook another 30 minutes. Yum, overcooked leeks. And altogether it was your basic monotone dish without much eye appeal. (I'll try the cold leftovers with a vinaigrette later this week and see if that might help.)

The chick was quite attractive when it came from the oven, and tasted good to boot. Tomorrow the carcass will start its transformation into stock.

The turning and temperature change make this a bit of a fussy roast chicken (30 minutes breast down 30 minutes breast up, raise the temperature for another 30 minutes), but it came out well for all the busy-ness.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Radicchio and Warm Bean Salad

Cooking Italy Assignment
Radicchio and Warm Bean Salad, p556

This is an assignment I found a bit dubious, since neither of us a big fans of bitter salad greens. But I had the rest of the beans I used for the embongoné frozen and needed a light, fast meal, so thought I'd give this a try. Not having seen radicchio around, even in a salad melange, I opted for the option using Belgian endive, the ubiquitous Dutch witlof, not a favorite veg. (I know it can be edible but I've pretty much given up trying to do it myself.)

The beans were already cooked, so it was only a matter of warming them up. My beans were Colorado River Beans that looked at bit like mini-borlotti. Hazan says you could also use cannellini.

The endives were sliced, soaked in the salad spinner, and spun dry. I started by cutting off a "thin slice" from the ends as instructed, but ended up removing a lot of solid disks from the soaking strips. Next time I'll be more aggressive with the first slice.

I tossed the dried strips of witlof with a bit olive oil and a slog of red wine vinegar, divided them between our plates, and topped with the warm beans. I didn't toss the beans with the oil and vinegar since it seemed a bit superfluous and not as attractive on the plate. That's bean juice, not vinaigrette, lingering at the edges of the plate.

The result was surprisingly good. It wanted a good grinding of black pepper and some big pinches of sea salt , but was a tasty and satisfying dinner. The full recipe was a nice main course for two. It would probably even be fine with some good quality canned beans too. And, having seen this on a plate, I think the radicchio would be prettier with cannellini beans, while the endive looks best with the darker borlotti beans.

Monday, March 8, 2010

This week in the kitchen

Monday/8-Mar-10: Trying to make a dent in the stock of buckwheat flour, I made Buckwheat Bread (BigGerman, p38). It's good, a tasty and dense brown bread. Yum!

A fast and easy dinner tonight, before going off to the gardening club. It was Radicchio and Warm Bean Salad (ClassicItal, p556). Not radicchio to be found in our local shops, so I used witlof as suggested; the beans were the frozen leftovers from January's embogoné. Kind of a strange idea, but worked OK. Then we ate the rest of yesterday's upside down cake.

Tuesday/9-Mar-10: The new stove (is it Blanche or the White Elephant?) arrived this afternoon. They were missing parts to connect to the gas, so had to return to the store for this. It was 18.30 when it was all ready. I'm coming down with the yucky cold that Ed's just starting to get over and didn't really fell like cooking. Too bad.

So, it was a quick dinner. Cornmeal and Spice-Crusted Scallops (MC), with some steamed broccoli with garlic and red pepper flakes sauteed in oil and some pasta. That's all folks.

Wednesday/10-Mar-10: Out of bread and we missed the mobile boulanger, so I made some of our old standardAuthentic French Bread (Magic, p22) on Rapid Bake, where it's especially good. This is the only bread recipe I know out of my head.

In the evening we went to at pub quiz at Chez Ciseen, so no cooking. Before we went out I started two kip filets to marinate with a half recipe of Moroccan Chicken Kabobs (MC).

Thursday/11-Mar-10: Skipped the market, but went shopping at LeClerc about noon. After lunch I turned on the ovens, grill, and exhaust fan and let them go for a long hour. Lots of smoke came out of the grill.

Then I broiled an eggplant for a halfish recipe of Grilled Eggplant Salad with Yogurt Dressing (H2CEV, p65). This turned out really yummy. Made basmati rice (1/2 cup, too much); cooking this on the low-low front burner didn't seem to work. It seems like the lowest temp on a medium back burner is sufficient. Need to play with this some more. Put the chicken onto soaked sticks and grilled it. All was good. We finished off a bit of soft goat cheese for afters. Fun playing with the new stove. I wonder how long before it feels natural?

Friday/12-Mar-10: Late lunch and chips after, so I wasn't very hungry in the evening. Dinner was Zalm in Filodeeg, an old Allerhande clipping. Thought I had some fresh/frozen dill in the freezer, but I must have tossed what was left when I defrosted; so had to use dried dill instead. The salmon was topped with a blah ricotta-dill mixture, maybe needed more dill and maybe some lemon zest and juice to liven it up. It was OK, but not worth keeping. Served withLeek Salad with Yogurt-Cheese Sauce (MC) and some boiled potatoes that worked pretty well.

My baking sheet/jelly roll pan only fits sideways in the oven, so it doesn't block circulation in the back. The temperature seemed to be very even. The phyllo packets were evenly browned. Hooray! Having a bit of trouble cooking on the top of the stove because I'm so used to turning the burners down to their lowest, which was pretty high on the old stove. Low on the new stove is really low. Hooray! And it looks like the ovens will go really low, so I'm going to need to make some pavlovas or something similar to make use of the low temps. Where are all those recipes I've been avoiding for the last year?

Saturday/13-Mar-10: There was supposed to be a Cooking Italy chicken tonight, but it got late quite early and I didn't feel much like it. So it was a clean out the fridge veggie stir-fry over brown rice, topped with some Mimelot. After had a bit of Petit Livarot, which was quite nice, and some flan d'abricot from the boulanger this morning.

Sunday/14-Mar-10: Tonight was Cooking Italy's Roast Chicken with Lemon (ClassicItal, p327) with Braised Artichokes and Leeks (ClassicItal, p452) and Dusolier's roast potatoes (in goose fat). The chicken was good; the artichokes and leeks were boring; maybe a vinaigrette will liven up the leftovers. Meant to make Bill's ricotta-stuffed baked apples for dessert, but that will have to wait for another day. More Petit Livarot for afters.

Didn't make it to the boulanger today, so I started some more Buckwheat Bread (BigGerman, p38) for tomorrow's breakfast and possibly lunch.

Monday, March 1, 2010

This week in the kitchen

Monday/1-Mar-10: We forgot to go by the boulanger yesterday, so I made some Rapid cycle English Muffin Bread this morning so we'd have some for lunch. For dinner I grillpanned some merguez de volaille and mashed some sweet potatoes, followed by a salad of mâche. The last of our chocolate truffles (discounted xmas candy) for dessert.

Tuesday/2-Mar-10: Made more Apple-Plum Butter (MC) this morning, with Sainte Germaine apples and some Santa Rosa (?) plums. Added 1/2 tsp cardamom and reduced nutmeg to 1/4 tsp. We'll see how that goes it a while.

Dinner was an improvised pasta using pancetta and mushrooms that needed to be used up. Pretty good. Followed by a salad with Not Your Mother's Green Beans (MW@Home, p82) over mâche. For dessert we each had a little prune muffin sort of thing from a package we bought on sale a couple of weeks ago.

Nobody went to the boulanger, so I made some Whole Wheat 1 bread (BigGerman, P20).

Wednesday/3-Mar-10: The bread turned out pretty good, high and nice texture. Made nice sandwiches too.

Ate the leftover cauliflower-leek non-patties for dinner, along with some leftover onion relish (which wasn't as good on repeat) and a dab of leftover Laura's Garlicky Lemon, Feta, and Couscous Salad. Made another little sauce with a bit of feta, yogurt, cucumber, and garlic, and some of our old favorite Carrot and Onion Salad (MJ1, p171). Used the mandolin to cut the carrots; this was fine.

Thursday/4-Mar-10: Went to the butcher this morning to buy 1 grosse tranche de gigot d'agneau. He cut me off a slice, then we both agreed that it was a bit small for two, so he cut another. In retrospect, Ed and I, not being big meat-eaters, would have done fine with the single slice; now we're stuffed, if pleasantly so. Used them to make Tranche de Gigot d'Agneau Grillée à la Diable (Vie Practique Gourmand, now MC). The go-with was Clothilde Dusolier's Perfect Roasted Potatoes again, this time with goose fat, as suggested by Nigella Lawson, although not nearly as much as she would have you use. (I think her roasted potatoes are actually deep fried in the oven.) For a starter with had Cold Beetroot with Cream (Pomiane, p180; MC), an old favorite. For dessert, I made a half recipe of SmittenKitchen'sCaramel Pudding (now MC); good it was and just the right amount (1/2 cup).

Friday/5-Mar-10: Dinner was and old recipe, Potato and Green Bean Salad (MC), using up the, yes, potatoes and green beans. Some of the cheese from the market (didn't get it's name) and the rest of the Caramel Pudding for afters.

Saturday/6-Mar-10: This afternoon I used some of the leftover smashed sweet potatoes to make Sweet Potato Bread (BigGerman, p59). We'll see how this is tomorrow morning.

For dinner, there was Spicy Cajun Shrimp (MW@Home, p255), an old favorite. A bit on the spicy side, maybe because I forgot the add the liquid (wine, lemon juice, white wine worcestershire) which might have toned it done a bit. No wonder there wasn't much soppy! It was edible nevertheless. Followed by a salad with a bit of Pomiane's beet dressing. And a bit of cheese.

Sunday/7-Mar-10: The sweet potato bread for breakfast was quite good.

Went to the chilly vide grenier in Chasseneuil this morning and then shopped just before Ecomarché closed. They were out of lots of stuff. No free-range chickens, only some scrawny factory things; limp chard. A bad week for Cooking Italy. Maybe next week we can go to Géant in Angolême to get the chard.

Before dinner I made an Upside Down Cake (MC) with peaches, which served as dessert. For dinner we had an Omelette with Sautéed Aubergine and Goat Cheese from Delicious mag. Not finding any hard goat cheese, I crumbled half a log. Good, but not sure if it's worth keeping. The recipe called for halved or quartered Little Gem lettuce heads, oiled and cooked on the grill pan. That was interesting, although I can't say I'd do it again.