Monday, July 29, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/29-Jul-13: Working on our blueberry surplus, I made some Blueberry Scones (MC) this afternoon. Pretty good, they are.

The hot weather may be gone for a while, but there are still cantaloupe to use up. Tonight's dinner was Melon, Zucchini, and Pancetta Salad (PatSalads, p22). Pretty good it was too. I had only mâche and arugula, too much probably; the bitterness of a bit of frisée would probably have been nice. No honeydew melon, just a charentaise melon, which is similar to cantaloupe. Quite a nice salad. For afters, we ate a bit of goat cheese.

Tuesday/30-Jul-13: Pasta night. Made Dilly Pasta (PastaMach, p72) with Shrimp Dill Sauce (PastaMach, p135). The pasta had dried dill in it, but not much added flavor. The sauce was so-so, not one to do again.

Wednesday/31-Jul-13: Shopping today. Not very big in volume, but lots of money involved.

Dinner was Salmon & Avocado Salad (PatSalads, p80). I liked it, but Ed thought there was too much balsamic in the sauce. Which was interesting because there was none. I was thinking the sauce (mirin and soy) went very well with the smoked salmon, while he thought it overpowered it. I thought it would be a nice starter, in smaller portions, for an Asian-ish meal.

Thursday/1-Aug-13: Ed's Montbron choir had a picnic today, so I was up (relatively) early to prepare our food. First there was Cantaloupe Soup (Picnic, p25), which was tasting good up to the point of adding the balsamic vinegar. That changed the color and didn't enhance the flavor. For the main, there was some old favorites, Spicy Grilled Peppered Lamb Skewers (BigFlav, p142) along with the recommended Green Grape-Parsley Relish (BigFlav, p77) and potato salad à la Joy of Cooking, requested by Ed. Yesterday while shopping, I noticed cheesecake in the fresh cheese section and bought us a chunk for dessert. Yum.

Friday/2-Aug-13: Yogurt on overday.

The blueberry harvest is in full swing, so lots to use up. Dinner was Chicken & Blueberry Pasta Salad (web), a surprising combination, chicken breasts, pasta, feta, and blueberries, but it worked well. A simple salad to follow, then cheese, trying to use up what we didn't eat with Jody and Steve. After dinner we picked another pint or so of blueberries. There will be another batch to pick, but may not as much.

Saturday/3-Aug-13: Made up some Vinegary Barbecue Sauce (Everlasting, p193) for tomorrow's dinner. Finger-licking good.

Dinner was Pasta with Summer Vegetables in a Spicy Peanut Sauce (MC 2BTried). Not as spicy as advertised. Not bad altogether. Then some crêmes brulées from the freezer for dessert.

Sunday/4-Aug-13: Tonight we had sort of pulled pork sandwiches, some cooked pork from the freezer that soaked overnight in the Vinegary Barbecue Sauce, got reheated, and served in ciabattas. Now, that's a really good sauce, sweet and sour and spicy. Served with Mama's Garlic Coleslaw (MC, HandyBook) and some Oven Roasted Corn that was supposed to be amazing, but wasn't really.

Yogurt on overnight.            

Progress on goals
This week: #1 IHCC/COOKBOOKS: yes, #2 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #3 PASTA: yes for July, no for August, #4 BREAD: no for July, no for August

Monday, July 22, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/22-Jul-13: A busy day today. Tosca & Mike arrived in the area today, and came with Patrice & Wim to dinner.

Before they arrived, I made Nigella Lawson's Watermelon, Feta, and Black Olive Salad (MC, web). Started to make Jaffrey's zucchini salad with feta, but replanned when I realized that would be two feta salads. Duh. I did a bit of searching and made Shaved Zucchini Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts (web) instead. I knew it looked familiar and indeed I made it last summer. Finished off the sauce for Orange Sriracha Chicken (web). We moved the dining table outside to eat.

We had a bottle of champagne (a gift to Ed from his Montbron choir friends) to start, along with various sausages, olives, and cornichons.

Then we had the grilled chicken, along with some extra sausages, and the two salads. All were hits.

Then we had an opulent cheese platter, followed by the apricot tart and Fresh Apricot Ice Cream (Scoop, p76), which was also a keeper.

Tuesday/23-Jul-13: Yogurt on overday.

A Groupon dinner a La Ribaudière, so nothing happened in the kitchen.

Wednesday/24-Jul-13: Yogurt on overday.

Dinner out with Jody and Steve, Tosca and Mike, and Patrice and Wim. Not much else in the kitchen today.

Thursday/25-Jul-13: Lunch in La Roche after some shopping, then shopping while Jody and Steve packed, then dinner at a marché des producteurs.

Friday/26-Jul-13: Omelets with a mushroom, lardon, and chipotle flake filling this morning to see Jody and Steve on their way.

For dinner we had the rest of Jody's lamb stew augmented with some potatoes.

Saturday/27-Jul-13: Dinner was Warm Broccoli and Potato Salad (MDSalads, p15). While I was making this, we munched on the watermelon from Monday evening; that held up surprisingly well. Some double chocolate mini magnums for dessert.

Picked about a pint of blueberries and one zucchini this evening.

Sunday/28-Jul-13: Yogurt on overday.

This was cleaning out the fridge night, not that the fridge got cleaned out, but at least I made a dent. We had an odd lot of dishes including:

  • Corn on the cob I bought on Thursday.
  • Zucchini hummus (web) using the year's first zucchini. This is essentially hummus with zucchini replacing the chickpeas; pretty good. Serve with carrot and red bell pepper sticks for dipping.
  • A made-up dish using the already boiled potatoes from the fridge, along with a couple of small, newly boiled ones from the sack, topped with some sautéed shallots, slices of the last of the bbq'd sausages, and some slices of chaource, then baked for a while. Pretty darn good for practically no work. Ed added some slices of blue cheese (fourme d'Ambert) at the table, while I ate my extra cheese on a slice of stale bread.
  • The shaved zucchini salad from Monday. A surprise to me that it didn't keep very well. I think it was the mint that added a strange, sharp taste, especially to the zukes. 
No post for Ottolenghi this week or last, neither have I cooked from a seldom used cookbook. Maybe next week I'll get back in the groove. Only one vegetarian meal, no pasta or bread yet in July. Not doing very well here!

Went to bring in the laundry this evening (mostly mattress pads) and found them covered with little bugs like mini ladybugs. The pad under the hazelnut tree was especially covered.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 IHCC/COOKBOOKS: no, #2 VEG/FISH: 1
This month: #3 PASTA: no, #4 BREAD: no

Monday, July 15, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/15-Jul-13: Clean-out-the-fridge day. Corn on the cob that I got at Intermarché last Friday. Sautéed shallot, garlic, red bell pepper, zucchini (the last of the broccoli was moldy). Provence herbs. Served over brown rice. A bit blah in taste, but the last of the Fourme d'Ambert helped. Double chocolate mini magnums for a dog walk, looking for Sophie.

Tuesday/16-Jul-13: Yogurt on overday.

Off to Roc de Boeuf for lovely dinner this evening. Now I need to try to find recipes for the terrine of beef tongue that Ed had as a starter and the pastilla d'agneau that I had as a main.

Wednesday/17-Jul-13: We met Jody and Steve for dinner at a restaurant in Chabanais this evening, them coming from Barcelona and we coming from home. After a nice meal we lead them home.

Buchwheat Bread (BigGerman, p38) on overnight.

Thursday/18-Jul-13: Yogurt on overday.

Shopped today.

Dinner: Started with melon, some of the Serrano ham Jody and Steve brought from Spain, and a slog of pineau. At the store, got some saumon crepinettes for our evening meal, what turned out to be a fish pâté topped with salmon, wrapped in crepin, caul fat, to hold it together. Barbecuing didn't seem to work, so I put them in a hot skillet to cook. Only to discover they really were cooked, just no browning or grill marks. Turned out to be pretty good. We grilled a bunch of veg as a go-with (yellow and red bell peppers, big shroom, eggplant quartered lengthwise). For after, we ate lots of bits of cheese.

Friday/19-Jul-13: Jody did most of the work, and I finished up some of Fatima's Apricot Jam. 6-1/2 AH jars worth of what looks to be a bit runny jam. Tastes good though.

Dinner started with Cold Beetroot with Cream (Pomiane, p180), an old favorite. Then there was Roast Easter Lam with White Wine (ClassItal, p408), a tasty way to do a lamb's shoulder. This was accompanied by Golden Potato and Porcini Gratin (web), a not bad substitute for Sliced Potatoes Baked with Porcini and Fresh Cultivated Mushrooms, Riviera Style (ClassItal, p522), which I'd have made if I'd had any fresh mushrooms. We finished up quickly and went to try to see badgers emerging from their sett in a nearby wood. No luck there.

Yogurt on overnight.

Saturday/20-Jul-13: Walked 8k at a randonnée nocturne this evening, so not much happened in the kitchen.

Sunday/21-Jul-13: Started ice cream for tomorrow. Started chicken marinating for tomorrow.

For dinner Ed bbq'd the brochettes and sausage we bought earlier in the week. I made some Broccoli e Zucchini in Insalata (VegCarluccio, p53) again. Steve sautéed some chanterelles we found at the grocery store. Boiled up the corn on the cob we got earlier in the week.

After dinner, we put together an apricot tart for tomorrow. Have finally used up all the apricots; quite a few were already spoiled.

Yogurt on overnight.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 IHCC/COOKBOOKS: no, #2 VEG/FISH: 1
This month: #3 PASTA: no, #4 BREAD: no

Sunday, July 14, 2013

IHCC: Fruitfull!

It's fruit for Ottolenghi this week. And, of course, there are lots of fruity things to be made. But I finally settled on some White Chocolate and Cranberry Biscuits—that's Cookies to us Amurricans—from Ottolenghi (p225). Ed says he doesn't like white chocolate, but he liked these cookies. The dried cranberries were sold by a Canadian choir touring the area a while ago.

These are fairly easy to make as cookies go and were the sort of crispy, chewy combination that we both like.

Stir together four, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, and set aside with some along with some rolled oats. Measure some white chocolate (chips if you have them) and some dried cranberries into another bowl

Cream some butter, vanilla, white sugar, and brown sugar in largish bowl (the biggest of the regular 3-bowl Pyrex set is big enough). Stir in the flour mixture and oatmeal. Then stir in the chocolate and cranberries. Don't overmix.

Chilling the batter for a bit helps with the shaping. Set balls between the size of an olive and a walnut on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and pop them in the oven for 10 minutes. Ten minutes was just perfect for the top shelf but a bit short for the bottom shelf.

Result? About three and a half dozen of some really more-ish cookies. Very bad for the diet for those of us with little self-control.

Visit this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs to see what fruity things people have been serving up!

Monday, July 8, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/8-Jul-13: A winner dinner tonight, Chicken Noodle Salad (Ji Shi Liang Mein) (web). This is from a book from a BBC TV series I haven't seen. Yummy stuff. Easy. Double chocolate mini-magnums for dessert.

Tuesday/9-Jul-13: Yogurt on overday.

It was clear-out-the-fridge night tonight. I grilled some eggplant, broccoli (parboiled first), red bell pepper, onion, and zucchini. Made up a batch of hummus and warmed some pita breads. Quite tasty.

Buckwheat Cornmeal Bread (BigGerman, p38) in the ABM overnight. First time for this one.

Wednesday/10-Jul-13: The bread was really high, over the top of the pan. Thus, really light textured. Very unexpected to me. Ed really likes it; I think it's OK but nothing special.

Shopping today.

Dinner was Olive Crusted Cod in Foil (web) with haddock instead of cod. Really yummy. Any thickish fish would do. Might package fillets individually; if not, cut through zucchini ribbons before lifting fish out to serve. Served with Oven-Fried Potatoes with Oregano and Lemon - Patates Lemonata (O&C, p280), This is a really nice way to do potatoes; worth doing again. Double chocolate mini magnums for after. (Boring, eh?)

Ordered a dishwasher this evening, yes, on-line, from the shop where we got the stove and the freezer.

Thursday/11-Jul-13: Dinner was a half dose of Spicy Eggplant Salad (PatSalads, p28; cookbooker). Good stuff, but might try grilling the eggplant rather than frying, to reduce the oil and leave it with more texture. Then some vanilla ice cream with dark little cherries freshly picked.

Friday/12-Jul-13: Yogurt on overday.

Lino, Bart, and grown-up girls, Juul and Jelka, friends from the Netherlands, had dinner with us. They're staying in Montembouef overnight on their way south to meet family for a vacation. We had a lovely evening. Sipped prosecco while munching nuts, olives, and a little terrine de lapin. Slices of charentais melon with a splash of pineau for a starter. A repeat of Chicken Noodle Salad (Ji Shi Liang Mein) (web) for the main; this time made with eggy, "fresh" fettucine from the grocery, but no cilantro. Then some cheese (St Felicien, Picotin goat cheese, Fourme d'Ambert). As we sat to eat the main, I started some crème fraîche ice cream freezing (more or less from a recipe on the web). We ate this with cherries Ed picked in the afternoon.

Saturday/13-Jul-13: Dinner was a half dose of Tuna & Roast Veggie Salad (PatSalads, p80). Yum. Double chocolate mini-magnums for dessert.

Sunday/14-Jul-13: Made some Authentic French Bread in the ABM today. Too late for breakfast, but in time for a late lunch.

Bad food day today for me. At lunch I nibbled some of the chorizo meant for tomorrow night's dinner. Later made some cookies for IHCC. First I had to eat the leftover bit of white chocolate, since Ed doesn't like it. Then the cookies were so more-ish that I ate many more than I should have and felt sorry for the sugar overdose later. So much for dieting.

After eating cookies, neither of us were especially hungry. So tonight's planned dinner goes to tomorrow and we had a bit salad for dinner. Ed had more cookies for dessert, but I brushed my teeth before temptation had a chance.

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

Sunday, July 7, 2013

IHCC: Paint the town red!

This week is the turn for red food, which brings to mind all kinds of possibilities. After making a short list, I settled on Chilled Red Pepper Soup with Soured Cream from Ottolenghi (p94) and came up a winner.

Start by sautéing a coarsely chopped onion along with some minced sage. While the onion softens, chop some red bell peppers (two for the half recipe I made). A small part is chopped in 1.5cm dice and set aside to be added at the end. (I thought this was too large and chopped this bit quite fine; somewhere in between would be best, I think.) The rest of the bell peppers get chopped coarsely and added to the onions, along with some salt, bay leaves, ground cumin, sugar, and red pepper flakes. (A pinch of red pepper flakes was good for my half recipe; two pinches would be nice for a whole recipe.) After this softens a bit, chicken or vegetable stock is added, the mixture brought to a simmer, then covered and cooked on low for about 15 minutes, until the veggies are soft.

Remove the bay leaf and purée the veggies with a staff mixer in the pot or transfer to a regular blender. Let the mixture cool a bit, stir in some diced celery, the reserved bell pepper, lemon zest, and minced garlic. Let the mixture cool to room temp, then refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Take the soup from the fridge half an hour before you're ready to serve. Stir, adjust the seasoning, divide among serving bowls, sprinkle with chopped parsley and basil, and top with a collop of sour cream. Ottolenghi suggest finishing with a drizzle of olive oil, but I skipped this.

The stick of celery I bought to make this dish disappeared into another meal earlier in the week, so I used some dried celery leaves instead of the celery. With bigger chunks of bell pepper and celery bits of the same size, this would be quite a crunchy soup. That might be nice, but I can also see that having a completely smooth soup might also be nice.

Crunchy or not, the result was quite tasty. It would be a good company dish since it could easily be made the day before and finishing takes a very short time. I can easily imagine sipping this soup while food on the grill gets ready to eat.

In general, I've not been very pleased with Ottolenghi's recipe writing style. Simple steps are often over-explained while more difficult things are skipped over. Sometimes prep steps are not given in the most efficient order. (In addition, I find font used in this book particularly difficult to read. I'm trying to avoid developing an antipathy to the book because I have made some good things from it.) This particular recipe, though, is quite well explained. The steps are in the proper order so that you can work from it sequentially without having to plan ahead yourself for the following steps.

Visit this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs to see what yummy, red things other IHCCers have cooked up this week.

Monday, July 1, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/1-Jul-13: Got yesterday's bread in the oven before going off to the dentist and Ed finished it up. This is really yummy bread. Even with the reduced water, though, it's still a bit of a puddle bread. It would form a sort of ball this time, but that ball spread as far as it could. I did follow someone's advice on  cookbooker and let it do it's final rise on parchment paper in a cast iron skillet. Still had to peel and scrape the dough from the paper to get it in the pot for cooking.

Made a half dose of Quick Curried Crab Cakes (web). These were pretty tasty, if a trifle salty. Served with Herbed Fava Beans (web; cookbooker) and the old favorite Spicy Cucumber Wedges (MJ1, p172). The favas were a real hit. The recipe is simple, which is nice since favas are a bit of a pain; it's just a vinaigrette with minced garlic, fennels seeds, and dried thyme. Fennel is not a favorite around here, but it was perfect with the favas. For dessert we split a slice of flan I bought at the boulanger.

Tuesday/2-Jul-13: Yogurt on overday.

Dinner was some grilled merguez (another store, another brand, still too salty), plus some pasta and Broccoli e Zucchini in Insalata (VegCarluccio, p53). This turned out to be a super salad. Boil some broccoli bits and some zucchini "batons"; cool them; toss with a vinaigrette of equal amounts of olive oil and lemon juice with minced garlic and S&P. Amazingly good for very simple, but that's often the way with Italian cooking.

Have been thinking seriously about dropping the Ottolenghi thing, since I'm not all that enamored of his recipes and I'm trying to cut back my computer time. But then, I planned a recipe in for this week, so who knows?

Wednesday/3-Jul-13: Shopping today. For dinner, I smerged some recipes for spaghetti with smoked salmon and capers, with lemon zest and juice, garlic and red pepper flakes. Easy and yummy, if a trifle too much lemon juice this time. Then a big salad. Then some vanilla ice cream with raspberries from the garden.

Thursday/4-Jul-13: We were up at Chez Cisseen all day, helping to get the New Look underway. I forgot to defrost chicken thighs for the planned dinner this morning, so ended up making up something. Took some chicken broth, ham slices, and hominy from the freezer. Sautéed an onion and some garlic and a mole adobo mix. Added some broth, the ham and hominy, and simmered for a while till all was defrosted. Spicy yummy. Added the extra broth to the leftover stew/chili, so we'll have the rest thinned down in a couple of days. Some double chocolate mini magnums for afters.

Friday/5-Jul-13: Looking doubtful I'll get a post for Ottolenghi up this week, so the broccoli and zucchini from VegCarluccio will be my cookbook. Almost made that again tonight.

Defrosted the chicken thighs tonight, planning to bbq them, but Ed missed the boat for starting the fire. So I broiled them, first rubbing with the last of some (homemade) no-salt Cajun rub and a dab of olive oil. Accompanied by some grilled aubergine slices and some potato salad, vaguely following Joy of Cooking's recipe with vinaigrette. Some raspberries fresh from the garden with the end of the vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Yogurt on overnight.

Saturday/6-Jul-13: Dinner was an Vegetables in Yogurt Sauce (MC 2BTried), which was quite good, served over rice. I think this was supposed to be a side dish (6 servings), but I made the whole thing as a vegetarian main. The sauce is yogurt and sour cream, with curry spices, but nothing hot, which it could have used actually. Made a nice dinner, especially with a dose of Geeta's Lime & Chilli Chutney applied. For dessert we ate wild strawberries and raspberries from the garden.

Sunday/7-Jul-13: The kitchen cabinets left of the stove and left and right of the sink are back in place, mostly re-loaded. Having a think about rearranging some things, so all is not back in place yet. But it is nice to have most things where they belong.

Had our main meal early today, since we went to a concert in the evening. Started with a red soup for IHCC (cookbooker), followed by Spicy Chicken Livers (web) over split pita breads for the main. This was one of those recipe that was odd enough for me to want to try it. I'm glad I did, but I don't have to make it again. Chicken livers are tossed with barbecue spice (not having access to Spar's bbq spice, I smerged several recipes for this) and sautéed. Then onions and garlic are sautéed in the same pan, sliced mushrooms are added, then some chopped tomato. Since I used fresh, seeded tomatoes, I added a little chicken stock for liquid. Finally a big lump of a hot fruit chutney (whoever knows what Spar's might be like?) is added. Served over pita, rather than Spar's foccacia.

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