Monday, March 26, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/26-Mar-12: First bbq tonight, not very successful. Used the marinade from Bottle o' Beer Chicken Thighs (Weber, p199) to marinate a spatchcocked chicken. Ed had the fire too hot so the skin was burnt black as can be and the meat was tough. Won't bother to pick the bones, and will put everything except the black skin into the stockpot. Then there was Spicy Potato Salad (MC), a rather forgettable recipe. Think I'll delete it from MC. But the dessert was good, ice cream with (thawed) frozen raspberries.

Looks like Sophie will spend the night out tonight, very worrying. Ed left the new cat flap opened outwards, so she went out again after having a small bite to eat. We're having problems getting her properly fed, since Oscar wants to eat everything. If he ate everything he wants, he'd have to be called Snowball.

Yogurt on overnight.

Tuesday/27-Mar-12: Whew, Sophie came in in the night, having figured out how the cat flaps work.

Made Authentic French Bread (out of head) today with the stone-ground bread flour. Brown but tasty.

Dinner was more or less Turkey Black Bean Tamale Pie (MC), a favorite. Used pintade from the freezer. And a salad. Ate outside although it was getting a bit cool. Crescent moon and Venus visible before the sun really set.

Wednesday/28-Mar-12: Grocery shopping today.

Dinner was Spicy Grilled Peppered Lamb Skewers (BigFlav, p142). Accompanied by Green Grape-Parsley Relish (BigFlav, p77), except with purple grapes, because that's all there was the grocery. Green grapes are definitely prettier, but don't really find a taste difference. Stuffed some globe zucchinis with a bit of rice and some leftover black beans. The end of some goat cheese for afters.

Thursday/29-Mar-12: Nice dinner tonight, but poor planning, since it finished up too late for me to get to line dancing. Made up for it by doing a load of ironing.

For our main, we had Fish Masala (web), with basmati rice and Oven Roasted Cauliflower with Turmeric and Ginger (web). For after, I made a Ginger Panna Cotta with Mango (MC), scaled back to the amount of evaporated milk I had needing to be used and served with the last of the frozen mango and frozen raspberries

Friday/30-Mar-12: We took Lesley and Toby out for a meal today to thank them for all their work with Sophie and Oscar. Nothing much happened in our kitchen, except for yogurt on overday.

After we got back from lunch Ed discovered that Sophie had a big open sore on her tail, plus some smaller ones. Off to the vet. She stayed overnight so they could anesthesize her to shave her tail and clean up the sores.

Not looking good for pasta for March, since that's not on the plan for tomorrow. Maybe need to reconsider. And won't get anything published for an unused cookbook either, since Sue will be closing the linky for this week's version tomorrow before I'm ready.

Saturday/31-Mar-12: Ed picked Sophie up this morning. She was goofy as can be, stumbling, unable to focus, etc. We think that when we took Oscar in for his first checkup, they recorded his weight on her record and gave her an extra 1.5kg of anesthesia.

Made some smokey flavored chicken stock from the rest of the bbq bones.

Had the idea to make some pasta today, but ended up spending a lot of time with Sophie, so was short on time. Went with the planned Salade de Quinoa au Thon (PRMTurmeric, p73). Used a package of pre-cooked quinoa, first time I've used such a thing; awfully handy, but not sure I approve. My radishes had to be tossed, so I substituted cuke. The whole thing was edible but boring.

Made some of Mama's Healthy Cookies, 5 dozen too big. Should have made them smaller.

Sunday/1-Apr-12: Sophie's back to herself this morning, and she's insistent that she wants to go out. Little does she know she'll be ten days inside! Maybe more togetherness than Oscar will appreciate.

For dinner we finished off the leftover tamale pie, along with some fresh guacamole. Then finished off the Ginger Panna Cotta with some defrosted mixed fruit.

Having run into a cilantro bonanza at the store this week, I chopped a bunch and froze one tablespoons in ice cubes, used some in the guacamole, made some Cilantro Zucchini Hummus (also using a lot of shredded zucchini from the freezer), and still have a bit left.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes, but not posted, #2 BREAD: yes, #3 SOUP: no, #4 MIDDAY: yes, #5 VEG/FISH: 2
This month: #6 PASTA: no for March :-(, no for April

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Anne's Anodyne Liniment Cake

The Book Lover's Cookbook
Shaunda Kennedy Wenger and Janet Kay Jensen
Ballantine Books (2003)
ISBN 0345465008

This was probably the last cookbook I bought before we left the Netherlands. I found it at a local bookstore and it said it needed to come home with me. I resisted at first but finally went back to buy it. As a result, it moved with us and didn't end up in storage for six months. It's a lovely book; each quote from a book is followed by a recipe related to that book. I've used it at least once, but for the last couple of years, it's been sitting on the shelf unattended.

I haven't made a proper dessert in the last days, so tonight I thought I'd try Anne's Anodyne Liniment Cake from Anne of the Green Gables. (That's a book I've never actually read, but heard recently on the BBC iPlayer.) The woman who provided the recipe for the cookbook is the granddaughter of the author.

As I frequently do, I did all the cake mixing in my cuisinart and baked it in my 9"x13" pan, rather than two 9" round cakepans. But something wasn't quite right. The cake rose very high on the outside edges, mostly along the long edges, rather than the short ones. After a very short cooling it came away from the sides of the pan.

For an icing, I used the Creamy Butter Frosting recipe that's printed with the cake recipe. Definitely wouldn't do this bit again. Much too sweet and I added only about 2/3 of the sugar required. A nice cream cheese icing, not too sweet, as we prefer, would be better. Or maybe a chocolate icing to contrast with the vanilla cake. This time, since the whole cake looked a bit sad, we thought we'd top it off with some hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles, for those whose Dutch is rusty).

The cake actually tasted pretty good, but the texture was more like a thick, fluffy pancake. I'm not sure what caused the strange rising and texture , but wonder about the amount of baking powder. One tablespoon was called for, where I'd expect no more than 1-1/2 teaspoons (a half tablespoon). It also seemed to me that there wasn't enough batter for two 9" pans. If there were less leavening, I think the cake might work fine in a 9" square pan. I'll try this again in a few weeks.

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

Monday, March 19, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/19-Mar-12: Yogurt on overday. Further not much happening in the kitchen. Went out shopping and ordered a new exhaust fan that better fits the size of the stove. We need to make the exhaust hole before the outside walls are rendered (stuccoed) next month.

Dinner was the last of the lasagna with a salad. Then we shared half of a Petit Camembert.

Tuesday/20-Mar-12: Before dinner tonight, I made Anne's Anodyne Liniment Cake (BookLovers, p230), the Green Gables cake that was mistakenly made with liniment rather than vanilla. I've got a "pork belly" defrosting since yesterday, but it wasn't ready in time to marinate for a couple of house then cook slow for several hours. So that will have to happen tomorrow. Tonight there was Curried Penne with Shrimp (MC), with some peas added for vegetable matter. I've got a similar recipe that includes peas, but couldn't be bothered to find it. Then we ate the rest of the Petit Camembert, followed by a slice of Liniment Cake.

Wednesday/21-Mar-12: Shopping today. By the time we got back it was a rush to get the Jamie Oliver's Roasted Pork Belly (some issue of Jamie) in the oven. Long cooking time meant it came out at 8pm, too late to be eating. But we ate it. Will pick lots of meat off tomorrow and discard the crackling and fat.

And some Puréed Broccoli (H2CEV, p389), the first time I've puréed something like that. It's OK, would be a better idea with leftovers, rather that starting with a fresh bit of veg.

Also some of Clothilde's Dusolier's Perfect Roasted Potatoes. Didn't feel like any dessert at all.

Thursday/22-Mar-12: Dinner was Haddock with a Green Pepper Sauce (MC), using more green peppers. Didn't like the green peppers in the sauce last time; didn't like them this time. Think I'll toss this recipe. For the rest it was good enough. Reheated the small dish of Scalloped Potatoes that I made last Sunday with the extra thinly sliced potatoes; that was good. Roasted some haricots verts with olive oil and lemon pepper; those were good. Some of the liniment cake for dessert; weird stuff but tasty.

Friday/23-Mar-12: Made up some of Hazan's Homemade Sausage (30MinPasta, p161; MC) today. Then dinner out at a quiz. That was about it.

Have given up on Cook the Books this time. Read the book, but can't get motivated to cook it. Would have to be this weekend, but it just won't happen.

Yesterday I knocked a small (glass) lamp off the table behind the sofa and broke the base. Today I pulled over the reading lamp in the living room and broke the glass shade. Tomorrow the light over the dining table has better watch out! Ed cleverly noticed that the top of the small lamp could be used to replace the reading lamp's shade. It's not perfect, but it will do till we find a proper replacement.

Saturday/24-Mar-12: Dinner was a half dose of Tagliatelle with Smashed Peas, Sausage, and Ricotta Cheese (web), using some of my newly made sausage. Pretty good stuff, fast and easy.

Sunday/25-Mar-12: Went to a concert at 17.00 today, so had our main meal at lunch: Thai Curried Noodles with Broccoli and Tofu (web). Easy, fast, and not bad at all. When we got back from the concert, we had a salad and then some goat cheese and crackers.

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

Monday, March 12, 2012

White Lasagna with Roasted Vegetables

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

This book has been hanging around the shelves quite a while, and has always put me off a bit because it has no information or recipes using the brassica family. My experience is that broccoli, cauliflower, and relations roast up especially well, so it's odd not to find them here.

This is my second outing with this book, and a very successful one. We both really liked this lasagna. It's a pretty standard white lasagna, with roast veggies as the filling: red bell peppers, eggplant, fennel, leek. In the end, I thought some mushrooms would have been an nice addition; DH thought that some black olives would have been nice.

While the veggies roast, you make up a panful of a garlic-scented bechamel sauce, adding a goodly slog of white wine and some chopped fennel leaves at the end.

To fill the pan, you start with a bit of the sauce. Then, three times, you layer 1/4 of the lasagna noodles, 1/2 cup sauce, 1/3 of the roasted veggies, and 1/2 cups Parmesan. Top it all off by a final layer of noodles, the rest of the sauce, and another 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Bake covered at 350F for 30 minutes, then for another 10-15 minutes uncovered. (My lasagna took a bit longer uncovered to get a nice bit of browning.) Let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.

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

This week in the kitchen

Monday/12-Mar-12: Today's excitement has been the new cat in the house; we've brought Oscar home. Didn't feel all that much like cooking, so made lasagna, as if that were a no-work dinner. Actually lasagna's not hard at all, just time-consuming. This was White Lasagna with Roasted Vegetables (RoastedVeg, p178; cookbooker). Served with a simple, big salad of mesclun, and that was dinner. As I serving the salad, I noticed a bit clod of dirt/mud on my plate and then noticed that the vinaigrette was a bit, um, muddy colored. Ed took a taste and found it all too gritty. So we plopped the lettuce back in the salad spinner and gave it a good wash. Made a new vinaigrette and started again.

Tuesday/13-Mar-12: For dinner, I did a very loose interpretation Dinde Mangue Paprika Allégée (Light Turkey-Mango-Paprika), a French recipe from the web. And quite good it was, if not reproducible. Followed by a nice salad of mâche with shredded beets.

Authentic French Bread (out of head) on overnight.

Wednesday/14-Mar-12: Well, now, that was a surprise. The bread is brown instead of white. I used the Type 65 (bread) flour that I bought on the open mill day. It looks white, but the bread is definitely brown. And good.

Shopped today. No basil to buy, but they did have sorrel. Not that we need it, but it came home with us anyway.

Dinner started with the big coeur de boeuf tomato I bought last week and now lovely ripe, with slices of mozzarella and a sprinkling of chopped chives. Then there was Haddock with Green Pepper Sauce (MC), with cod instead of haddock, because that's what there was. I made a half recipe, but all the sauce—tasty but too much; the rest will appear later. Plus a side of Ed's favorite, orzo. And followed by grilled grapefruit halves. My, my, those Ruby Red grapefruits I bought last week are seriously good, very juicy. Sprinkled with brown sugar and a slog of kirsch, then under the broiler for a while. I thought the sugar might caramelize, but it melted as soon as it touched the juicy flesh. Nevermind.

Yogurt on overnight.

Thursday/15-Mar-12: Today's expected lunch out didn't come off, and what I first picked to make for dinner didn't work because the cupboard was bear of coconut milk. How did that happen? Instead, an old fallback, Artichoke Spaghetti (Art, p59), with some roasted red bell peppers from a jar needing to be used up tossed in. Then a very plain salad.

Friday/16-Mar-12: Steak-frites with Sally and Mike and Eric in Lèsignac. Only fruit in the evening.

Saturday/17-Mar-12: We had our main meal at midday today, since we went to a movie in the early evening. (After which, since neither of us were feeling peppy, we didn't join friends at a local Irish bar for a St. Pat's day celebration.) Lunch was Salad with Smoked Chicken and Peas (MC) followed by a square each of lasagna, which kept quite well.

Sunday/18-Mar-12: Dinner was Potato-Crusted Chicken with Olives and Red Wine Sauce, a recipe hanging around for quite a while in my 2BTried MasterCookbook. It was good too, although wrapping the chicken breasts in potato didn't work as it ought to have. Stacked on top and under was more like it. Served with broccoli and the sauce left from Wednesday's fish, a good combination, as expected

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

Monday, March 5, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/5-Mar-12: Another noontime quiz today. We didn't do quite as bad as last time, but still not good. The substitute quiz setter is very Brit-centric, and downright wrong on some of the science questions, so it's been less fun of late.

Made some Apple-Plum Butter (MC), this time with plums, since we're almost out.

Since we had a big meal at noon, we weren't very hungry. I made a big salad of mâche and we called it dinner.

Tuesday/6-Mar-12: I bought a couple of cauliflowers on sale last week. The first one appeared tonight as Perciatelli with Cauliflower, Tomato, Sausage, and Pine Nuts (PastaHarv, p65), well, it wasn't perciatelli (or bucatini), but De Cecco's Ziti, which is fatter, long, and unwieldy. Made a whole dose of the sauce, so half went in the freezer to appear with another shape at a later date. Called it a one-dish meal, and that was it.

Wednesday/7-Mar-12: Shopped this afternoon, trying to get back on a weekday schedule, rather than weekends. (Working people, don't you just hate Little Old People who totter through the shops on the weekend when they could go any day of the week? We try to be good and stay out of the way.) Not much to get really. Ruby Red grapefruits were on sale two for 94 eurocents; I'd been thinking about them lately (how I could get some from Texas?), but will make do with two from Florida.

It was clean-out-the-fridge time for dinner. I roasted Brussels sprouts, half of the last of the the two-for-€2 cauliflowers from last weekend, broccoli, carrots, haricots verts, and snow peas. Served over brown rice, topped with a bit of feta. All yum. Have a bit of veg and rice left for ... a salad perhaps.

Hmm...still no bread on the plan. Also no unused cookbook dish (for new period starting Saturday). Might need to replan. This is all hard work without the netbook. New one has arrived, but I don't feel like dealing with it.

Thursday/8-Mar-12: Dinner was Lime-Marinated Grilled Shrimp (web, soon to be MC), a really simple and tasty way to to shrimp—marinate some shrimp for a half hour or so in lime juice, lime zest, S&P, cayenne, and olive oil (I added some chipotle powder); then skewer them and grill 2-3 minutes per side. Served with polenta, with a dash of cayenne added. Followed by a nice salad.

Yogurt on overnight.

Friday/9-Mar-12: Made Elizabeth Bard's Split Pea Soup (web) for dinner, interesting because it included fennel. Can't say it was wonderful, but definitely edible. Have some of the ham left and will add a sausage from the freezer for the leftovers. For afters we had some Mothais à Feuilleté, goat cheese from the Poitou-Charentes that is ripened on a chestnut leaf and is quite good.

Saturday/10-Mar-12: New netbook is a bust. Forgot about the French keyboard. Back to Amazon with it. Meanwhile Ed's installed a new hard drive in the old one, but we have no way to load an operating system. Getting behind on iPlayer too. :-(

Dinner was Lamb Cutlets with Chilli and Black Olives (web, soon to be MC; cookbooker). Served with Clothilde Dusolier's Perfect Roasted Potatoes (HandyBook) and a salad made from the leftover brown rice and roasted veg. For dessert there was Apple Frangipane Tart (MC, and old recipe from CLmag).

Oh dear, still no bread this week. Have a bread machine bagel recipe I've been meaning to try, but haven't gotten there yet.

Sunday/11-Mar-12: Today's walk had more food involved than we expected, so I recombobbled dinner plans. Made some Gingery Cauliflower Soup (Q&E, p11); we ate some and I froze the rest. Finished off the bit of Mothais, although I can't say more food was really required.

Put on some Buttermilk-Walnut Wheat Bread (BHGBread, p17) for overnight, without the walnuts, since I was too lazy to break them up and toast them. French buttermilk, or what I think is buttermilk, doesn't seem to be homogenized, so it pours out kind of lumpy. Works ok in cooking though. Used the bread flour from the mill. Didn't have any gluten, so hope that's enough.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes (posted last week), #2 BREAD: yes, at the last minute, #3 SOUP: yes, #4 MIDDAY: yes, #5 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #6 PASTA: no

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tagliatelle with Chicken Livers

Antonio Carluccio Cooks Pasta
Antonio Carluccio
BBC Books (1999)
ISBN 0563384557

Carluccio's chocolate pasta not being my favorite pasta ever, I thought I'd give this book another try with my monthly fresh pasta. This recipe called for fresh tagliatelle, so I made that in the early afternoon, then prepared the sauce for dinner.

Chicken livers are not my favorite food, but the DH loves them, so I try to indulge him occasionally. But I have to say, even I liked the results. What's more, this has to be one of the cheapest dinners I've ever made. The chicken livers cost less than one euro. Pasta, how much does less than 1-1/2 cups flour and two eggs cost? The rest of the ingredients are pantry staples of minimal cost.

For two, start by finely slicing a small onion and sautéing gently in oil until softened. While that's cooking, sliver 150g of chicken livers. Add them to the onion, along with 2 bay leaves, and sauté gently over low heat for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the liver cooks, prepare one little bowl with 1-1/2 tablespoons of sherry (I used 2 tablespoons, since a lot evaporates and I was cutting back the recipe) and a grind of nutmeg, and another with 1 tablespoon of tomato purée and 1 tablespoon chicken stock (or water).

Drop the fresh pasta into boiling water, then stir the sherry/nutmeg into the livers and let simmer for a minute or so. Then stir in the tomato purée and stock; maybe you'll need some extra stock or water to give a nice consistency. Taste and add salt and pepper as you like. Remove the bay leaves and serve over the drained pasta, topped with lots of freshly grated Parmesan.

The fresh tagliatelle was delicious with this, but I don't see why a dried pasta wouldn't be perfectly good. And why not a shaped pasta like gemelli/cascareccia or butterflies?

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