Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Five-Alarm Lentil Soup

The Sriracha Cookbook
Randy Clemens
Ten Speed Press (2011)
ISBN 1607740036

For our first day back from a week's vacation, I planned a nice vegetarian soup for dinner, which turned out to be a good thing, since the weather has turned frigid. I collected the recipe from a recipe list, but noticed that it's actually from The Sriracha Cookbook, a not-too-old book that I started reading and then put away, I think because company was coming and I wanted to tidy up my stacks of books. On the basis of this soup, I think I need to resume my perusal.

This is an easy soup to assemble. You start by sautéing chopped red onions and carrots in a bit of olive oil. Then you stir in a pile of minced garlic, some smoked paprika, ground cumin, bay leaves, tomato paste, and 3/4 cup of Sriracha—all good tastes. When it smells nice, you stir in a can of stewed tomatoes (I used deseeded "sauce" from the freezer). Then add a pound of red lentils and 2 liters of vegetable stock (I cheated and used the stuff from a cube since there wasn't enough in the freezer.) Simmer till the lentils are soft, salt and pepper to taste, toss the bay leaves, and serve. Yum!

Yes, I could have wiped the edge of the bowl before taking the picture, but we were hungry!

This post is linked to this week's Cookbook Sundays.

Monday, January 30, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/30-Jan-12: We drove home from the Netherlands today. Nothing happened in the kitchen, but I did remember to defrost some lunch meat.

Tuesday/31-Jan-12: Quick shopping trip today to refill the fridge. Trying to eat lots of stuff from the freezer this week.

Rather late, but soup for dinner: Five-Alarm Lentil Soup (Sriracha, p59). Good stuff, especially on a cold night. For dessert, a pair of store-bought crèmes brulées with raspberries. Also good stuff.

Yogurt on overnight.

Wednesday/1-Feb-12: Another late dinner. Hope this isn't going back to the late dinner rut. Using up some of the pork from the freezer, there was Stewed Pork with Porcini Mushrooms and Juniper (ClassicItal, p424), served over soft polenta. Used the end of the jar of polenta from the freezer, so have some extra to grill in the coming days. Then a salad. Then a bit of some cheese. Then some chocolates.

Thursday/2-Feb-12: Not quite so late tonight, thank goodness, but still not early. Didn't feel like messing with the chicken that's defrosted in the fridge waiting to roast, so I made Serpents de dinde au sésame (Marmiton newsletter); that's turkey fingers to you and me, with the breading batter made from buckwheat flour with curry and ginger powders. Not bad, but don't need to make it again. Served with steamed broccoli and trio rice. Another bit of cheese (these are from a sampler box of an imitation Boursin—not as good as the real thing). And some more chocolates.

Friday/3-Feb-12: Sunny today, but cold, cold, cold. For dinner the chicken got roasted as Lemon Roast Chicken with Herb Potatoes (SeriousEats). My chicken was a bit smaller than asked, but it still cooked the whole time and the inside of the thighs was just barely done. (One wonders why need yet another roast chicken recipe. This was much the same as others. The chickie was propped up by three halved onions. Two lemons were squeezed over it and the used halves popped inside. Surrounded by potatoes tossed with olive oil and herbs.) As a side (besides the potatoes), I roasted a bunch of Brussels sprouts; the extra ones are marinating for a repeat of that recipe.

While the chickie was roasting, I made Banana Bread (CC1, p553), my favorite banana bread recipe. Used sucre de canne for the sugar, and buzzed all in the food processor. Yum.

Saturday/4-Feb-12: Given the forecast snow for tomorrow and continued sub-0C weather, we did a bit more shopping today to have milk, bread, and more fresh veg on hand in case we can't go out for a few days.

Pizza tonight. (I wonder if that counts as bread?) Some of my faux pizza sauce (made from jarred roasted red peppers) on the bottom, mozzarella, grilled zucchini and eggplant slices, the rest of a jar of black olives, pitted and chopped, and goat cheese on top. Not the best crust I've ever made (same recipe, though), but quite tasty altogether. Dessert was store-bought vanilla-flavored fromage frais.

Sunday/5-Feb-12: Lacking room in the proper fridge, I put the remnants of the roast chicken in the outdoor refrigerator the other night, not thinking that it was really an outdoor freezer. Brought it in to pick the meat and realized that wasn't going to happen, so back out it went for later attention. Found two and a half bird carcasses in the freezers (chest and fridge), so making up a bucket of stock with those. Stock will spend the night outside, too, for finishing up tomorrow.

Dinner was Fusilli with Cabbage and Tomato (PastaHarv, p63). Made a whole dose and froze half. Surprisingly good.

Yogurt on overnight.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes, #2 BREAD: no, #3 SOUP: yes, #4 MIDDAY: no, #5 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #6 PASTA: January, yes; February, no

Monday, January 23, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/23-Jan-12-Sunday/29-Jan-12: We were in the Netherlands, or on the way there. The kitchen was empty.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: —, #2 BREAD: —, #3 SOUP: —, #4 MIDDAY: —, #5 VEG/FISH: —
This month: #6 PASTA: yes

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gemelli with Mushrooms and Tomato

Pasta Harvest
Janet Fletcher
Chronicle Books (1995)
ISBN 0811805670

This book has been hanging around for a while, and I can't remember what provoked me to buy it. I have another book by Fletcher, but don't recall that I've used it much either, and I don't remember which I got first. The premise of this book is promising, pasta dishes using veggies fresh from your garden. But for some reason it's stayed out of the day-to-day loop of cookbooks that are in active use. I'm thinking now that's situation needs to be remedied. (There is a problem with this book: does it get shelved with pasta books or does it get shelved with vegetable books? Hard call. These sections don't sit next to each other either.)

In the headnote for this recipe, Fletcher mentions that there are two kinds of gemelli available, those with an S-shaped profile and those that look like two spaghetti strands twisted together. This is the first time I've seen anyone else remark on this difference, which has always bothered me. Two shapes with one name. DeCecco's cascareccia, which is S-shapped gemelli by another name, has become one of my favorite pasta shapes since I discovered it. It really holds a sauce well. I don't think the double-stranded version works quite as well.

There was a box of mushrooms lurking in the fridge wanting to be used and lots of tomato sauce from last year's harvest waiting in the freezer, so this looked like the perfect recipe to be tried soon. You start by sautéing pancetta, rosemary, and lots of garlic in some olive oil. When the pancetta is getting crisp, add strained canned tomatoes. (Many of the recipes in this book have you straining canned tomatoes to get the seeds out. Since my DH seems to be allergic to the seeds, I removed the seeds before I froze up lots of tomato sauce this summer.)

In another skillet sauté mushrooms seasoned with salt and pepper until all the liquid has evaporated. Then add the tomato sauce, or vice versa, and stir in some chopped parsley.

Cook the pasta, add the sauce, stir in some grated Parmesan, and thin with a bit of pasta water if needed. Serve sprinkled with more Parmesan. Enjoy!

Any kind of mushroom could be used with this. Shiitakes, some kind of wild mushroom, or a mix of cultivated and wild, all would be good. Lardons or bacon could be used for the pancetta, which does add a nice depth to the sauce flavors. I made the full recipe and froze half the sauce to use for a quick dinner sometime.

This post is linked to this week's Cookbook Sundays.

Monday, January 16, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/16-Jan-12: A made-up dinner, largely from the freezer today. Last night I soaked some black beans, then cooked them up during the day (running out of gas along the way). Added some "juice" from cooking chicken for tacos, some cooked chicken, a small can of corn, and some cornmeal to thicken it all a bit. Not bad at all. Accompanied by a small salad from an avocado and an oven-dried tomato with some spices. And some Double-Boiler Bread Pudding, using several odd ends of breads, for dessert.

Yogurt and English Muffin Bread (BigGerman, p15) on overnight.

Tuesday/17-Jan-12: It seems like our days of freezing nights may be close to over, so I defrosted the chest freezer this morning while it was still cold outside. This meant getting my freezer inventory up-to-date and definitively removing most of the MIAs. It also meant adding some things that either never got added or were accidentally removed. Including two large chunks of pork. Going to be eating more meat in the next weeks, since there's quite a lot needing to be used.

One thing I realized as I was repacking the freezer is that I've got a lot of tomato sauce in there that's not really getting used. When we discovered Ed had a problem with tomatoes, I had a hard time finding anything to cook without them, but now I just don't think of them. Have to make an effort to start using this stuff.

Found a 2BTried recipe in Mastercook for dinner to use the broccoli in the fridge. Then I thought I'd replace the chicken with shrimp. While things were happening I whizzed up the rest of a jar of roasted red bell peppers in the fridge and made some (no tomato) pizza sauce to freeze. Then I looked at all the stuff that was getting ready to cook and though a bit of "pizza sauce" was just what it needed. About the only thing in common with the recipe I started with was garlic and broccoli. Wasn't bad though. Finished off the bread pudding for dessert.

Wednesday/18-Jan-12: From a recipe found in the forums at Jamie Oliver's site, I made Traditional Bacon and Cabbage with Mustard Sauce, using a small "bacon" joint that Sally brought me from the UK. Bacon, maybe in the sense of Canadian bacon, a small boneless ham. First it was boiled, then baked. The boiling juice was used to make the creamy mustard sauce and to steam the cabbage shreds. The rest is in the freezer now, to make some kind of soup. Probably not the healthiest of dinners, high fat and high salt, but tasty. Reminded me of a Dutch stamppot, with all the bits separate instead of mashed together.

Thursday/19-Jan-12: Finally made some apple butter this morning. Bought the apples a while ago and some of them looked like they had been kicked around a bit.

Leftovers for dinner, the chili-bean-chicken soup/stew thing. And some salad.

Friday/20-Jan-12: Dinner was a half recipe of Salmon with Red Wine-Morel Sauce (EW, web; cookbooker). Good stuff. Served with orzo. Then a big salad. Then some cake that I bought at a boulangerie today, walnut maybe?

Yogurt on overnight.

Saturday/21-Jan-12: Dinner at the soirée énoisage. Nothing happening in our kitchen.

Sunday/22-Jan-12: Starting an attack on the tomato sauce in the freezer, tonight's dinner was Gemelli with Mushrooms and Tomato (PastaHarv, p101), followed by a big salad. I made all the sauce and froze half. Yum. The sauce is full of pancetta, so it's not really vegetarian.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes, #2 BREAD: yes, #3 SOUP: yes, #4 MIDDAY: no, #5 VEG/FISH: 2
This month: #6 PASTA: yes

Sunday, January 15, 2012

From-Scratch Buckwheat Noodles

The Grains Cookbook
Bert Greene
Workman Publishing Company (1988)
ISBN 0894806122

The Leftover Queen's Buckwheat Noodles with Mushrooms and Sour Cream was on the menu for tonight. The recipe calls for soba noodles and I hadn't been able to find them at the grocery store for the last several weeks, so I decided to make the buckwheat noodles myself. (Buckwheat flour is readily available, being used to make crêpes throughout the lenten season.) I searched through many of my books that might have a recipe for these, and settled on the recipe for From-Scratch Buckwheat Noodles from Bert Greene's The Grains Cookbook. This is a book I've had a while, and enjoy browsing, but have used only once so far.

Since I was serving only two of us, I made a half recipe of the noodles. Elsewhere, I read that buckwheat noodles are typically three parts buckwheat flour to one part white flour, so I used that ratio in my cut-back recipe (3/4 cup buckwheat flour and 1/4 cup tipo 00 flour), rather than half buckwheat flour that Greene prescribes.

As Greene suggests, I mixed the dough in the food processor, although I really don't see the problem with mixing by hand. When I started making pasta myself, I did use the processor for the mixing, but I've stopped as I've gotten more experience. There are so many bits of the processor to be washed, whereas if you mix by hand, there's just a big bowl and maybe a fork to get things started. Either way you're going to get doughy hands.

Also, using the processor, I've never had the dough come together in a ball all by itself as Greene and others report. I usually have to dump it out and make a ball. If I then put it back in the processor, it stays together and cleans the sides as it should.

Using my cut-back recipe, I should have needed no more than 1-1/2 tablespoons of water. I added about twice that, and it could have used a bit more.

Nevertheless, the noodles were very tasty and I'd definitely do this again when the earthy kind of taste that buckwheat adds is appropriate.

This post is linked to this week's Cookbook Sundays. This is my second Cookbook Sundays post for this week, one that not really planned, since it came from needing to make a substitute in a planned meal.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Curried Roasted Squash Soup

The Roasted Vegetable
Andrea Chesman
Harvard Common Press (2002)
ISBN 1558321691

This book was a gift from a friend way back when roasted veggies started to become trendy. It's the place I store all the roasted vegetable articles I save. I pick it up occasionally when I have a glut of some veg needing to be used, but never seem to find anything that catches my eye. Strangely, Chesman completely ignores cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc., which is amazing to me since this family really takes well to roasting.

I'm also working through a sack of butternut squash, overflow from a friend's garden, so Curried Roasted Squash Soup here looked like a good bet. Butternut squash is really not my favorite—heresy, I know. Especially in a soup, I don't like the texture and I don't like the sweet taste. That said, this really wasn't a bad soup at all. And it's really simple to make using a staff mixer rather than a blender.

You start by roasting the squash. I did this earlier in the day, since we were out for the afternoon. The roasting could even be done the night before, I expect, then the soup would be quite quick to finish off.

When you're ready to make the soup, sauté some curry powder, minced ginger, cumin seeds, and red pepper flakes. When these are smelling really nice, add a lot of minced garlic. When the garlic softens, in a minute or two, add chicken or vegetable broth and the flesh of the roasted squash. Use your staff mixer to purée the squash (or do this in your regular blender in two or more batches). Stir in coconut milk and a goodly slog of lime juice, and heat until hot. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. The recipe calls for chopped cilantro to be stirred in just before serving. That's out of season right now, but I think it would be a nice addition.

My squash was a bit small (2#9oz vs the 3-4# asked in the recipe), but I used all the ingredients for flavor. Also, I probably doubled the amount of broth to make a thinner consistency. Result: a nice soup for a cold evening.

This post is linked to this week's Cookbook Sundays.

Monday, January 9, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/9-Jan-12: Because we went to a movie this evening, we had our main meal at midday (yay!). We had most of the leftover carrot clafoutis and a big salad. Ed chopped up our usually lunchtime fruit and added a handful of broken walnuts. I tossed in some dried cranberries for color and added a squirt of lime juice. Good stuff.

Stopped at the boulangerie in Massignac on the way to a movie in Limgoes; picked up a pain ordinaire and a small, plain Three Kings cake—still in the shops even though Three Kings' Day has past.

Tuesday/10-Jan-12: Dinner was Chipotle Meatballs (from the web; cookbooker), served over polenta. Have 6 meatballs left for another meal (into the freezer). Followed by a salad. Then a slice of the Three Kings cake I bought yesterday. Where does the luck go when you find the charm on cutting into it? The crown was too small for either of us.

Wednesday/11-Jan-12: Tonight was one of those dinners where you spend a bit of time on prep and then everything gets done in ten minutes at the end. For a main, there was Saumon mariné à l'indienne (from the web; cookbooker), a French interpretation of Indian food, which was better than expected. Accompanied by about a half recipe of Cabbage with Peas (MJ1, p105) and of Potatoes with Sesame Seeds (MJ1, p114). The cabbage should have served two, but I've got another serving in the fridge; maybe for an Indian-biased cabbage slaw? Finished off the Three Kings cake. Good thing that's a once-a-year treat.

Thursday/12-Jan-12: Lunch at Lèsignac today, so nothing much happened in the kitchen this evening. The meal was steak-frites, good, but not our usual sort of thing. One of the bowls in which the frites were served was from the same pattern as our "new" salad plates and soup plates from the charity shop!

Friday/13-Jan-12: Dinner was Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Walnuts (KnowHow, p383), the first of the tagines I've made from this book. (Only one preserved lemon left. Do I make more, I wonder?) Served it as a stew, rather than over rice. Very tasty. We already had birthday cake next door before hand, so it was kind of a backwards dinner.

Yogurt on overnight.

Saturday/14-Jan-12: Dinner was Curried Roasted Squash Soup (RoastedVeg, p83; cookbooker). Butternut squash isn't my favorite, but this wasn't bad. And a salad for after. Simple dinner.

Sunday/15-Jan-12: Sunday morning, nobody wanted to go to the boulanger yesterday afternoon or this morning. Buckwheat Bread (BigGerman, p38) in the ABM.

Continuing with the buckwheat theme, there was Buckwheat Noodles with Mushrooms and Sour Cream (web, cookbooker) for dinner. No soba noodles to be found in the shops, so I made buckwheat noodles instead, very loosely following From-Scratch Buckwheat Noodles (GreeneGrains, p74; cookbooker). Then a salad. Then some chevre.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes, #2 BREAD: yes, #3 SOUP: yes, #4 MIDDAY: yes, #5 VEG/FISH: 4
This month: #6 PASTA: yes

Friday, January 6, 2012

Clafoutis aux Carottes

Mes petites recettes magiques au curcuma
Pascale de Lomas
Leduc (year?)
ISBN 2848994495

This little book was a bit of an impulse buy. There's a whole series of Mes Petites Recettes Magiques books available at the grocery store, but I managed to limit myself to just this one that stars turmeric. It was a fun read, stretching mon pauvre français, and I used quite a few stickies on such a small book. Previously I tried a vinaigrette (lemon, oil, S&P, turmeric, and a pinch of sugar). This time I opted for something a little more substantial.

A clafoutis is usually known as a dessert with fresh fruit (classically cherries, but most any fruit that's not too soggy can be used) cooked in kind of a pancake batter. This version, with carrots, can be served as a side dish or as a dish on its own, accompanied by a salad.

The recipes in this book are limited to one per page, so that means the instructions are sometimes less thorough that you might like. Given that you're already comfortable in the kitchen (and all French people are, aren't they?), this really isn't a problem. More annoying is that the ingredients are not given in the order used, but in an apparently random order. This is an annoying problem I see frequently in both French and Dutch recipes.

The carrot clafoutis uses oignons primeurs, which are young onions, looking like green onions with a bulb. Those weren't in the shop, so I used shallots instead, minced, then sautéed in olive oil and drained on a paper towel. Eggs are beaten and milk added, little by little, until it's all well mixed. Then salt, pepper, turmeric, basil, and piment d'Esplette are added. Flour is sprinkled in, then grated carrots and the onions are stirred in. The mixture is put into a buttered dish and baked for 35 minutes. Well, for me it took longer than that, but I often find that eggy-custardy things take longer than stated. My oven's at the right temperature, but it was still at least 45 minutes till this was done through. You can see where I poked it quite a bit in the middle to encourage it to finish cooking.

Having served this clafoutis as a side dish, I think it would be better by itself, either in small wedges as a starter or bigger wedges as a main, accompanied by a nice salad.

This recipe suggest using turnips or parsnips in place of the carrots, but these would make for a pretty monotone dish, while the orange bits make it quite pretty.

This post is linked to next week's Cookbook Sundays. (I'm at the late end of this week and Sue's in New Zealand, so I'm taken advantage of that to leap ahead here.)

Carl Goh's Zucchini Bread

Beard on Bread
James Beard
Knopf (1973)
ISBN 0394473450

Now, Beard on Bread is a book I've had a very long time. It was possibly the first book on bread that I bought, over well thirty years ago. I was surprised to see that I've actually made a recipe from it, a loaf of Basic White Bread, but my notes are undated, so that only means it was a long while ago. Thumbing through the book recently, I came upon this zucchini bread, and since I've got lots of shredded zucchini in the freezer needing to be used. I thought this would make a nice snack.

Like most quick breads this was easy to assemble—that's the point of quick breads, isn't it? I set the oven to heating, then broke up a cupful of walnuts. Beat the eggs then added the sugar (sucre de canne instead of white sugar, and only 3/4 of what was asked), oil, zucchini, and vanilla. Stirred together the dry ingredients and added those. Finally added the walnuts and into the pans for an hour in the oven. Result, a very nice zucchini bread. Ed especially liked that the crust was a bit crispier that other such breads I've made. Maybe this is because the fat is vegetable oil rather than butter. I don't really have a "standard" zucchini bread, but this is one that will get added into the group I use.

This post is linked to this week's Cookbook Sundays.

Monday, January 2, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/2-Jan-12: Finished off the last bit of bread, rather stale, for breakfast. Popped some Authentic French Bread (Magic) into the bread maker. This might count for this week's bread, even though is a moldy-oldy one.

Dinner was a half-dose of Risotto con Gamberi e Acetosa—Wild Sorrel and Prawn Risotto (WildCarluccio, p20), with sorrel bought on impulse last week. I really do need to widen my sorrel vocabulary, since this is a bit oft-repeated now. It's awfully good though. Then a bit of the St. Maure I bought for new year's eve that we didn't touch.

Yogurt on overnight.

Tuesday/3-Jan-12: Leftovers tonight, the potato casserole with smoked sausage. And a salad. And the rest of the St. Maure for afters. Leftovers are nice.

Wednesday/4-Jan-12: Shopping this afternoon. (On the way, we were treated to the sight of a hunting male hen harrier/blauwe kuikendief/marsh hawk. :-)

Dinner was a half dose of Roasted Salmon with Cranberry-Mustard Sauce (epicurious), a very nice way to use up that leftover holiday cranberry sauce. Accompanied by some roasted brussels sprouts (hanging around in the crisper since xmas) and broccoli, and some trio rice. Nice dinner.

Thursday/5-Jan-12: Dreary rainy day today. More leftovers tonight, the leek-bread casserole. (The last bit may turn up as a side tomorrow.) And salad.

Friday/6-Jan-12: Using some of the shredded zucchini from the freezer, this morning I made Carl Goh's Zucchini Bread (BeardBread, p169) for Cookbook Sundays.

For dinner, I made Pie's Succulent Spicy Pork Chops (MC), spice-rubbed pork chops topped with garlic-parsley-lemon butter, an old favorite. Accompanied by the last of the leek-bread casserole and Clafoutis aux Carrotes (PRMTurmeric, p100), also for Cookbook Sundays. All were good, but none went together very well, kind of a mismatched dinner. The carrots would be good with chicken or fish we decided, or as a main course with a salad.

Yogurt on overnight.

Saturday/7-Jan-12: Munching on the zucchini bread throughout the day. Pretty good, this one.

Dinner was a half dose of Aubergine & Chickpea Curry with Tumeric (soon to be MC), a recipe that appeared recently in one of the expat magazines around here. Turns out it's from a cookbook published by a local person. On the strength of this recipe, I've ordered the book.

Sunday/8-Jan-12: Dinner was Lamb and Potato Curry (web), a kind of stewy curry. Edible but not especially good; not a keeper. A dose of lime pickle livened it up. Served with Spicy Cucumber Wedges (MJ1, p172), a nice quick side dish/salad.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes, #2 BREAD: yes, #3 SOUP: yes, #4 MIDDAY: no, #5 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #6 PASTA: no