Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chicken Salad with Yogurt

Cool & Fresh
Culinary Notebooks series
McRae Publishing Ltd (2011)
ISBN 9788860983312 

This book is brand-new to me, a gift from a friend, who said it's full of tasty salads. It's not available at Amazon (don't they have all books?), so she sent me a copy instead. And, indeed, it seems to be full of lots of appealing dinner salads.

Our weather turned unexpectedly very hot today, and I didn't feel like standing around to make pasta in the sticky heat, so I grabbed this book to see what what could be conjured up from ingredients on hand. On the perpetual use-up-the-oldest-stuff-in-the freezer quest, I defrosted some roast chicken meat rather than skinless, boneless, chicken breast halves. Instead of marinating and grilling the raw meat, I just cut up the cooked meat and let that sit in the marinade (olive oil, lime juice, and S&P). While that's sitting, I whisked up the dressing of mayo, yogurt, more lime juice, and a dab of honey. The recipe called for wedges of iceberg lettuce on the plate, but I used a sack of mixed greens instead. Top the greens with thin strips of lengthwise-cut cucumber and the chicken, then drizzle with the dressing.

All-in-all a nice summery salad, fast and pretty tasty. It's perfect for using up leftovers, although I'm sure freshly grilled chicken would be great. I think I might add a pinch of cayenne or a drop or two of Tabasco to the dressing, just to give it that bit of zing.

This post is linked to this week's Cookbook Sundays

Monday, June 25, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/25-Jun-12: Yogurt on overday. Authentic French Bread (Magic, p22) on overmorning,

Defrosted shrimp for Shrimp with Sorrel Sauce, but when I got ready to cook, I discovered that the sorrel had turned to oozy mush in the few days since we shopped. Weird and unpleasant. Last minute change to Shrimp with Lemon-Saffron Rice (web), loosely interpreted. Kind of so-so, but the rice was pretty good. Then some Pavé Normand, a new cheese for us, ok, but nothing special. Then a dog walk, followed by cocoa custards.

Tuesday/26-Jun-12: Started some Bread Machine Bagels (web) in the late afternoon, so that they were finishing up right when I was starting dinner. I didn't get the hole big enough (next time!), but they taste and chew just like bagels ought.

Dinner was halfish verison of Royal Chicken Cooked in Yogurt (web), which I see is a Madhur Jaffrey recipe. Served with Tangy Green Beas with Ajwain and Ginger (SpiceKitch, p38), an old favorite. (I really need to enlarge my repetoire of colorful side dishes!) Cooked the beans in the bagel water—why not? Also Aromatic Yellow Rice (MJ1, p153), a lovely and tasty rice side dish. Made a quarter of the recipe that's supposed to served six, and it was still a lot of rice for two. For dessert we had bagels, just plain old bagels, still warm from the oven.

Wednesday/27-Jun-12: Weather turned extremely hot today so I opted for a salad that involved no cooking. Defrosted some roast chicken bits and made a half dose of Chicken Salad with Yogurt (PatSalads, p102). This was a nice hot weather salad. Finished off the cocoa custards.

Yogurt on overnight.

Thursday/28-Jun-12: Another hot day, perhaps a trifle cooler than yesterday. Shopping.

Dinner was a third recipe of White Fish Stew (web), which was good, especially after a good shot of Tabasco. Don't think the recipe was meant as a main course, though, since the portions would be pretty small. Followed by a salad, then the rest of the Pavé Normand, then a double chocolate mini Magnum.

Friday/29-Jun-12: An easy-peasy pasta dish, a half dose of Fettuccine with Preserved Lemon and Roasted Garlic (Essential, p355). Well, it was tagliatelle instead of fettuccine, but I won't tell if you dont. Very simple, very taste. Would be a good side dish also, when you need the lemony taste. Then a big salad. Then the last of the Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream.

Saturday/30-Jun-12: Off to our local fête this evening. Nothing happened in the kitchen.

Sunday/1-Jul-12: Dinner was a half-dose of A Moley (Curried Turkey Hash) (Essential, 452). Well, a half dose with all the spices still made a pretty bland dish. Served with peas and shallots which were quite good mixed with the curry. Served over rice.

Yogurt on overnight.

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

Monday, June 18, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/18-Jun-12: Work on the terrace started today. It will be nice when it's done. We hope.

Dinner was Easy Eggplant Casserole (EAT-L). It was easy and tasty, even though I didn't peel the eggplant (why bother?). It was supposed to serve four, but those are pretty skimpy servings. Ed wanted more. Served with some peas and shallots, followed by a big salad. No afters.

Tuesday/19-Jun-12: Peeled the fava beans, then made a half recipe of Orecchiette with Fava Beans and Prosciutto (PastaHarv, p54). Pretty good stuff. Then a big salad with a lettuce from the garden. For dessert I toasted the last of the pound cake-ish mini-muffins and served with some (defrosted) mixed berries and a dab of cream. Pretty good too.

Wednesday/20-Jun-12: In the afternoon, I made An Incredible Date-Nut Bread (Essential, p661). Incredible I wouldn't call it, but it wasn't bad. I cut back the sugar to about three quarters of what was asked; next time I think I'd use sucre de canne instead of white sugar.

In the evening we went to a Marché aux Producteurs du Pays in La Rochefoucauld, a market of local food producers. There are a series of these held throughout the summer in market towns. We bought some lamb steaks and took them to where they were grilling meat. (Note for future: bring steak knives unless you plan to eat sausages.) For a starter we found grilled goat cheese wrapped in bacon. Then some plates of salad (crudités) and a barquette of frites with the lamb. And an ice cream cone for dessert. I had plain vanilla, while Ed had vanilla-cognac.

Thursday/21-Jun-12: Off to get our gravel and order tiles for the terrace this morning, then to do our shopping. Buying lots of stuff to send Jim for his Big Ride.

Dinner was Smoked Turkey and Wild Rice Salad (MC), a nice summer salad. Well, summer's here even if it's not really summer weather. Had some of the Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream made with fromage blance for dessert. My, my, that's good stuff!

Friday/22-Jun-12: Yogurt on overday. Sure I've missed recording some yogurt-making of late, since I seem to be making yog on alternate days.

Major work on the terrace is sort of finished. The tiles will be delivered next week and we'll put them in place. Next is a foundation for the garden shed (a kit) where we'll store, under cover, our wood and wood pellets.

Dinner started with an insalata caprese, complete with basil leaves from the garden. Unfortunately the tomates weren't the best we've bought lately, although they were very pretty. The main was Salmon Cakes with Yogurt Chipotle Sauce (Essential, p413; cookbooker), a recipe that didn't work as expected, but tasted quite good anyhow. Then, more of the Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream.

Saturday/23-Jun-12: Went to a birthday bbq tonight, and then to a  movie, so nothing much happened in the kitchen.

Sunday/24-Jun-12: Dinner was a half recipe (sort of) Curry Scallops & Cilantro Rice (web; cookbooker). Accompanied by a half dose Carrot and Onion Salad (MJ1, p171). Then some Baked Cocoa Custard (MC 2BTried), a recipe which will be kept, simply because it's easy and good enough and I liked baked custards.

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

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tandoori Halibut and Alu Dum (Smothered Potatoes)

The Bombay Cafe
Neela Paniz
Ten Speed Press (1998)
ISBN 0898159350
Indian Cookery
Dharamijt Singh
Penguin (1971)
It's two-for-the-price-of-on for this dinner.

Shopping today meant it was fish night, and to head the meal I picked up The Bombay Cafe, a book that's fairly new to me, although it's been around for a while. It came well-recommended, but somehow has never really caught my fancy.

For one of the sides, I choose a dish from Indian Cookery, which is another quite new-to-me, if secondhand, book, one that I've not used before. It's rather old-fashioned, but probably represents Indian food as prepared in the UK before it became trendy elsewhere.

There was no halibut to be found at the shop, so I used a chunk of cod, cut into two pieces, for the fish. The recipe is simple as can be. The fish is first marinated in a blended mixture of yogurt, fresh ginger, garam masala, ground coriander, cayenne, turmeric, and vegetable oil. (It didn't seem to me that the oil added anything to the flavor or process, so I think I'll leave that out next time.) After 20 minutes or so marinating, the fish is grilled or broiled. That's all there is to it.

The potatoes were prepared in what was to me a new way of doing Indian-style potatoes. They are first boiled until about three-quarters done, then pricked with a fork and rubbed with a paste made of yogurt, turmeric, garam masala, and salt. Bay leaves are cooked in butter (I used ghee), dried chilies added, then a pinch of sugar. Finally the potatoes are stirred in along with minced parsley (I used cilantro, expecting that the parlsley was a 70s substitute for the real thing). The pan is covered, then put in a moderate oven for 25 minutes to finish cooking the potatoes. The yogurt mixture makes a kind of dry crust on the potatoes.

I served these with Spiced Green Beans, a recipe I've made before from Indian Light Cookery (which is a well-used cookbook, so doesn't count here).

We found the whole meal delicious. All bits will likely be made again, and maybe as they're written: as I was clearing up after the meal, I found that I'd gotten out my jar of amchoor, rather than garam masala, so the flavors of the fish and potatoes were not quite as the authors intended—still good, though!

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

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

365 Ways to Cook Pasta
Marie Simmons
HarperCollins Publishers (1988)
ISBN 0060186631

This is a book that's been around for quite a while. I use it fairly often, but have't made anything new from it recently. It's a plain, rather homely, book that offers quite good cooking. It covers a wide variety of pasta dishes, the recipes are good, and the instructions are clear. It's actually on the shortlist for my Desert Island Cookbooks list as possibly the only pasta cookbook I would bring. (Judging by another of the "365" cookbooks that I have, I think the whole series is surprisingly good.)  When the week's menu plan got thrown into disarray, I picked this up for a look and stopped at the first recipe, Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, whore's spaghetti, supposedly named because it makes a fast snack between clients. Well maybe.

Like many good pasta sauces, you start by softening garlic in olive oil. Then stir in canned tomatoes (I used some purée of deseeded tomatoes that I froze last summer), chopped black olive, capers, dried red pepper, oregano, and coarsely ground black pepper. Simmer that for a while, till the sauce thickens. Then stir in some chopped anchovies (these disappear and add only a complexity to the overall taste, nothing fishy) and some chopped flat-leaf parsley (of which there was none in the kitchen, so I used the curly kind instead). Simmer the sauce a bit longer bit, salt to taste, serve over spaghetti, and enjoy. 

This post is linked to this week's Cookbook Sunday

Monday, June 11, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/11-Jun-12: We watched the France-England football match at Barbara and David's, and filled up on munchies. When we got home, I made a salad and that's what we had for dinner.

Tuesday/12-Jun-12: Dinner from the freezer again—the sauce for Gemelli with Mushrooms and Tomato, but with mushroom-flavored pasta that are shaped like chanterelles. Then a big salad.

Wednesday/13-Jun-12: Oops, no shopping today as planned, so it's more eating from the freezer. Tonight was Lamb with Black Peppercorns (web), with smashed potatoes and sautéed Shredded Zucchini (MW@Home, p87). Then we finished off the Strawberry Yogurt Freeze.

Thursday/14-Jun-12: French toast for breakfast with the stale ends of two bits of bread. Then some Authentic French Bread (Magic, p22, but out of head) in the bread machine.

Still haven't made it shopping, so off piste for tonight's dinner, which we ate outside, this first time we've been able to do this since the end of March. There was a yummy, half dose of Spaghetti alla Puttanesca (365Pasta, p7), followed by a salad, then some mixed berries over Strawberry Sorbet, which was also pretty darn good.

Friday/15-Jun-12: Whew, finally made it shopping today. Dinner was Tandoori Halibut (Bombay, p179), a halfish recipe, using cod, since there was no halibut to be found. This was accompanied by Alu Dum (Smothered Potatoes) (Singh, p175) and Spiced Green Beans (IndLight, p174). All in all, a very tasty meal, although afterwards I noticed that I'd gotten out my jar of amchoor, rather than garam masala, so bother the fish and the potatoes were not quite as intended. Double chocolate mini-Magnums for afters.

Saturday/16-Jun-12: Finished off the Five-Alarm Lentil Soup for lunch. That help up pretty well.

Dinner was a half recipe of Red Onion and Goat Cheese Pancake (web). The "pancake" itself was quite nice, but the balsamic-honey syrup to go with it was yicky, and not really needed. Then a bit of salad. Then some tasty tomme de Savoie, which was a special offer this week.

Sunday/17-Jun-12: Dinner al fresco for the third night in a row, an ordinary spring/summer/fall occurrence that has been very rare this year. The main was was Quiche aux Fonds d'Artichaut (Quiche with Artichoke Bottoms) (VPQ). Simple and good. The quiche custard contains cornstarch, which is a new-to-me and interesting variation. In fact the custard seemed to set quite well. Most custardy things I make seem to need to cook much longer that the recipe to get set. Something about my magnetism in the kitchen, I guess. Followed by a big salad. Then the last of the Strawberry Sorbet. Yum

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

Friday, June 8, 2012

Stir-Fried Lamb with Garlic and Basil

Ken Hom's Quick Wok: The Fastest Food in the East
Ken Hom
Headline Book Publishing (2001)
ISBN 0747276005

After a couple of months with no activity on my use-my-unused-cookbooks project, I'm back at it again. It's not that I've not been using my cookbooks, I do freqeuently, but it's been the old regulars rather than the unused ones.

This book is a fairly recent acquisition and I haven't really read it. I found this at a charity book sale and thought it might be worth a look. A quick perusal has already led to several stickies, so it looks like it deserves more attention. I have cooked a lot from Ken Hom's Hot Wok and a bit from his Easy Family Recipes from a Chinese-American Childhood; I have an active dislike for his Asian Vegetarian Feast, since this supposedly vegetarian book insists that you use chicken stock, making nonsense of its title. Two out of three, not bad.

Tonight's dinner certainly lived up the to "quick" promise. Thin slices of lamb sit for 20 minutes in a marinade of light soy sauce, shaoxing wine, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Then they're fried in the wok (a skillet would work fine, of course), and fried some more after a lot of sliced garlic is added, and fried just a bit longer after adding some basil and cilantro leaves. All very quickly done and on the table so fast, I forgot to take a picture till I was halfway through eating. And very tasty it was.

This post is linked to this week's Cookbook Sunday

Monday, June 4, 2012

This week in the kitchen

Monday/4-Jun-12: Ed worked to install the new exhaust fan over the stove today, and out for a quiz this evening, so nothing happening in the kitchen.

Tuesday/5-Jun-12: The new exhaust fan is in! The stove is brightly lit now and any the dirty bits are very visible. There's a button you can press to turn the fan off after 10 minutes. Might be a nice feature.

Dinner was Broccoli, Leek, and Blue Cheese Pie (web). Very tasty it was. It was supposed to have a top crust. Mine had kind of a cap, but wasn't completely covered, since a package of puff pastry (pâte feuilleté) covered a round pie plate without enough to spare for a proper lid. So it wasn't very pretty, but it was tasty. Then a salad. Then some double chocolate mini-Magnums.

Wednesday/6-Jun-12: Shopping today. Impulse buy was two kilos of apricots to make jam. Did I really need to do that, I wonder?

Dinner was Easy Crumbly, Mustardly Salmon (web), which was good, although I didn't do the bit about searing the bottom, just put the fish under the broiler. Served with trio rice and the rest of the asparagus. For dessert there was Tarte au Fromage Blanc et aux Fruits Rouges (VPG). I'd just seen the recipe this morning and bought what I needed at the shop. Yum!

Thursday/7-Jun-12: Working on Barbara's strawberries, I started Rosy Strawberry Preserves (FJCanning, p294). These have to sit 24 hours before being finished off. The headnote for this recipe says:
Cook a batch daily while getting lunch during the strawberry season
Right. This only made a small dent, so I also made Strawberry Sorbet (Scoop, p128). There's still another quart of this batch of strawberries left, and they gave us more still today.

Dinner was Stir-Fried Lamb with Garlic and Basil (QuickWok, p92), pretty tasty. Served over rice with some haricots verts tossed with sesame oil. Then we finished off the pavé affinée. Then we had slices of the tart (which was supposed to serve four, but I'm thinking eight would have been fine; we're making six unless we stretch out the next bits). Then we had some truffles. Oink.

Yogurt on overnight.

Friday/8-Jun-12: Quiz and dinner tonight, so nothing much happened in the kitchen except for making another batch of Strawberry Balsamic Jam (web), without the pepper, since that didn't seem to add all that much. Meanwhile Barbara brought still more strawberries.

Saturday/9-Jun-12: Trying to use up strawberries today. (Apricots tomorrow). Made a batch of  Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream (Scoop, p90), using the rest of some fromage blanc for the heavy cream. Tasted pretty good.

Found an interesting jam recipe that doesn't require cooking (except for dissolving pectin in water), so made "Best-Ever" (Frozen) Jam (PuttingBy, p294). Not exactly a catchy name, is it? I freeze most of the jam I make (in lieu of proper canning), so that part is not a big deal. The no-cooking part is nice, though. Finger licking after filling jars tasted fine.

Made the "broth" for Strawberry Sorbet (Scoop, p128). Will freeze it tomorrow after the freezer bucket has re-frozen. Yay! No strawberries in the house.

For lunch we finished the Broccoli, Leek, and Blue Cheese Pie. For dinner we had Five-Alarm Lentil Soup from the freezer.

Sunday/10-Jun-12: Today was apricot jam day, using my old French teacher's recipe, except there were no almost slivers to be found. Froze up the Strawberry Sorbet for the freezer.

Dinner was West Indian Salmon Patties from the freezer, with some grilled eggplant slices and some trio rice. Followed by some Strawberry Frozen Yogurt.

Buckwheat Bread (BigGerman, p38) on overnight.

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