Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

First we were going to be in the Netherlands for Thanksgiving. Then Oscar ended up with an abrasion on his cornea. We postponed our trip, then cancelled it. Meanwhile, planning a Thanksgiving dinner here didn't get along very far. Instead, I defrosted some slices of Tandoori-Style Roast Turkey Breast for our turkey bit.  As go-withs there were two old favorites, Indian Mashed Potatoes (Q&E, p90) and Tangy Green Beans with Ajwain and Ginger (SpiceKitch, p38), along with the last bit of tamarind chutney from the freezer. The green beans were some brought to us by a neighbor when their garden overflowed, very Thanksgiving-like. We served this with a bottle of the gold-prize-winning St Sornin rosé La Fenêtre. And there was a pumpkin pie for dessert. That's all, folks.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Fresh Way with Salmon

The Eating Well Rush Hour Cookbook
Editors of Eating Well
Eating Well Books (1994)
ISBN 1884943063

Somewhere (where?) I saw this book recommended then bought myself a second-hand copy since I frequently like recipes from Eating Well magazine. The book is organized into seasonal menus. When Ed asked for salmon for dinner, I found this nice menu, with Salmon on a Bed of Lentils (p207), Spinach & Citrus Salad (p208), and Cranberry-Pear Clafouti (p208),  planned it for the evening after shopping.

The whole menu takes about an hour to prepare and comes with a handy timetable for getting it all done. For this particular menu, you aren't rushed, but there are no "blank spaces" where you can have a rest or set the table. Nothing hectic, you just keep at it, step after step.

The lentil and salmon dish is rather French; I've made something very similar from a French cookbook. It's very simple to prepare. You sauté some shallots and garlic; add some chicken stock, lentils, a clove-studded onion, thyme, and S&P; simmer till the lentils are about 10 minutes from being done. Then add finely chopped turnip and carrot and cook till these are done. Finally put the salmon on top, steam-poach for a few minutes, and serve.

The go-with salad is also very nice. I might do this again with arugla/rocket/rucola, which would be just as good. Along with the greens, there are red onion slices that have been soaked in water to soften the taste, sections of red grapefruit, and a dressing of grapefruit juice, olive oil, grainy mustard, honey, and garlic.

And we finished off with a lovely clafoutis, using a winter pear and some cranberries, both roasted with some sugar before assembling the clafoutis. I did cut the sugar back on this recipe, using only 1/4 cup (rather than 1/3 cup) with the roasting fruit and two tablespoons (rather than 1/4cup) in the clafoutis batter.

Judging by this menu, this is a promising book, one I need to spend a bit more time with in the near future.

This post is shared with November's Cook Your Books challenge at Kitchen Flavors.

Monday, November 25, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/25-Nov-13: Dinner was Penne with Wild Mushrooms, Asparagus, and Pancetta (EAT-L), sort of. Used mushroom-flavored, chanterelle-shaped pasta. Used a sliced dried ham from the freezer instead of pancetta (not as fat). In the end it seemed dry, so I stirred in some pyramid goat cheese rather than add more oil. Good enough it was. Then a salad.

Tuesday/26-Nov-13: We were sitting around this afternoon quietly doing our things. Snap! Caught a little mouse behind the stove. Think it might be a juvenile, it was so small. Ed let it go down the broken brick road, quite a way from the house.

Dinner was Grilled Chicken Pasta with Chipotle Cream (web), sort of. Served over mashed potatoes instead of pasta, although, in retrospect, polenta would be better. Made more or less a whole recipe, which should serve 4-6, and we ate it all. Although Ed had trouble finishing his double portion. Used all the chipotles, unseeded, and it was nice and hot. Making a half recipe for two, over polenta would probably be fine. Roasted the last of the asparagus and some broccoli for a side. Split a Magnum classic for dessert.

Life without the internet is pretty weird, You don't realize how often you go to look up something up. And read mail. And check the weather and the news and ...

Wednesday/27-Nov-13: Yogurt on overday. Shopping today.

Ed asked for salmon, so that's what he got. I made a winter menu, "A Fresh Way with Salmon," from RushHour, p207, and posted it for Cook Your Books. If I don't feel like baking a pumpkin pie tomorrow, we'll have more of the clafoutis for our Thanksgiving dessert.

Thursday/28-Nov-13: Made two batches of Tart Dough (Tenth, p256). The first batch went for pumpkin pie, right from the Libby's label. The second went into the freezer.

Our Thanksgiving dinner was Indian-themed, since that the only turkey what was in the freezer. Pretty good it was.

Friday/29-Nov-13: For breakfast, we had some clafoutis, egg, milk, and fruit, can't be bad, right?

Pasta for dinner, yay! The sauce was a half dose of Pasta con Verdura (Top100Pasta, p64) made with tagliatelle cut from Whole Wheat Pasta (Fancy, p77). I made half of a dish that should serve four, but we will get three servings from it. Or, more likely, a side dish for two. Didn't follow Kennedy's instructions for making the pasta, but did it the way I usually do now, mixing by hand. Cut it at 5, which made a tasty, chewy pasta. Thought I'd make a salad, too, but there was more than enough food without it. And we finished off the very yummy pumpkin pie from yesterday.

Saturday/30-Nov-13: Went to a movie tonight. In the afternoon, we had leftover enchiladas and rice, followed by a salad.

Sunday/1-Dec-13: Yogurt on overday.

Meat night tonight, working on clearing out the freezer. Did, more or less, a menu from MJFamily: The Best Roast Pork, Ecuardor-Style (p127), Garlicky Cranberry Chutney (p127), Asparagus and Green Beans with Sesame Seeds (p128), and Rice and Potato Casserole (p128). The pork was yummy and really easy to do; definitely a keeper. For the chutney, I embroidered on the remains of last year's Thanksgiving cranberry sauce, yes, it's been hanging around the fridge all that long. Not bad, either. For the veg, I used frozen asparagus, which are pretty blah and needing to be used up, along with frozen yellow haricots verts (that makes no sense, does it?) from our neighbor's bounty. This dish was OK, but not wonderful. The rice and potato dish was OK. For afters we each had a mini Magnum.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 IHCC/COOKBOOKS: yes (once posted, plus others), #2 VEG/FISH: 2
This month: #3 PASTA: yes for November; no for December, #4 BREAD: no for November and December

Monday, November 18, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/18-Nov-13: Yogurt on overday.

Dinner was Grilled Chicken Legs with Pomegranate Molasses (web). Easy-peasy and not at all bad. For the two of us, I used four thighs. The recipe called for six legs, and I was too late reading that it meant whole leg joints rather than just the leg part. So I've got a lot of the marinade in the freezer for another time. Served with Orzo with Tomatoes, Feta, and Olives (HowTo, p238) and some steamed broccoli finished off with garlic and red pepper flakes. Then we finished off the clafoutis for dessert. That was supposed to serve six, but ended up serving four. Oink.

Tuesday/19-Nov-13: I had lunch out with my drawing friends. Ed had leftovers for dinner while I munched carrot sticks and cherry tomatoes. Then we had a bit of cheese and Ed had an ice cream bar. That's all folks.

Wednesday/20-Nov-13: Shopping today. Shitakes, they had! And another odd little mushroom I've never seen before, but resisted buying.

DInner was Fried Fish Steaks (Q&E, p67) using lieu noir (in English, saithe or coley, does that help?) that was today's special. Very easy and quite good. I did a better-than-usual job of frying without getting the food too greasy. To munch while the rest of dinner was getting ready, there were some Spicy Cucumber Wedges (MJ1, p172). With the fish there was Rice with Peas (MJ1, p149); this is a really good recipe but make a *lot*. I made a quarter recipe of what should serve six and we had substantial piles of rice on our plates. And then there were Fried Aubergine Slices (MJ1, p99) that I broiled, using no oil, instead of frying. These were not bad, if a bit dry. For dessert we had two of the vanilla puddings I bought off the sale counter with a close expiry day. These still  have four days to go, so I'm not sure why they were there.

Thursday/21-Nov-13: Yogurt on overday.

Worked on the freezer backlog tonight. Cooked a pound of (blue) hominy in the liquid left from cooking carnitas. Saved out 3 cups of the hominy to freeze, then added some cooked pork and three cubes of chiptole-soaking liquid from the freezer. Voila! Pozole!

Some recipes have you soak the hominy before cooking. Others just have you cook it. I soaked this time, the first time I've tried that. Can't say I noticed any difference. This isn't the kind of thing you're cooking with attention; it just simmers away on the back burner till you're ready to deal with it. Think I won't bother with the soak again.

Friday/22-Nov-13: Dinner was Chicken with Herbed Dumplings (CastIron, p68; cookbooker). It's a recipe that serves six, so I made a third of the main recipe and a half of the dumpling recipe. Very tasty, but short on liquid. I made a salad as a go-with, but we thought this was a one-dish meal. Had some mini-magnums for dessert; these seem to have better chocolate than the classic ones these days.

Saturday/23-Nov-13: Picked the chicken carcass and made up some stock with that and other bits from the freezer. And deseeded and cut up the coeur de boeuf tomatoes I got on Wednesday and cooked them down. Tomorrow I'll finish them both up, freezing stock and tomato sauce.

Off plan for dinner. Made Fettuccine with Gorgonzola (30MinPasta, p50; cookbooker), using up the bit of Fourme d'Ambert in the fridge. Good stuff it was, if not low-fat. Then last night's salad.

Looks like we have a mouse in the kitchen again. Seems to have gotten into a packet of semolina. They wouldn't be so bad if they didn't walk around pooping. Poop, poop, poop. Have set the trap, raisin-baited, tonight.

Sunday/23-Nov-13: Yogurt on overday.

Froze up the tomato sauce today. Put of the chicken stock till tomorrow.

No mouse in the trap and no new mouse poop found this morning. But this afternoon Oscar seemed to be very interested in something behind the stove ... a mouse? A couple of hours later, Sophie actually caught a mouse in the kitchen when Ed pulled out some logs to light the fire. She played with it for a while before Ed managed to get it from her to take outside. It probably didn't survive.

For dinner there was a very loose interpretation of Chicken and Avocado Enchiladas in Creamy Avocado Sauce (web). This included salsa verde, not. No tomatillos to be found here and the canned ones taste tinny, so I don't buy them. I read a suggestion that  you could substitute with green tomatoes and some lime juice. The greenest tomato I could find was kind of yellow-orange, so I used that instead. Actually it wasn't too bad. Ended up making eight enchiladas, so we'll have two dinners of it. Made some Spanish rice, too, using part of the tomato sauce I just made. Then the last of the ice cream and frozen raspberries for dessert.

Hmm... I've used cookbooks this week, but can't really say that any of them are seldom-used. Guess I didn't manage that goal. I almost made pasta this week, but that doesn't count.

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

Sunday, November 10, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/11-Nov-13: We went to the remembrance day ceremony this morning and were supposed to go to the lunch after, but didn't feel like it.

Dinner was sautéed duck breasts with Marsala WIne Pan Sauce (HowTo, p160), which is about as simple as you can get. Deglaze with some marsala, stir in a lump of butter, and Bob's your uncle, so to speak. Served with orzo with parsley and lemon and (roasted) Asparagus with Mustard Sauce (web). The sauce was good, although plenteous. I'll use the leftovers for a salad dressing. For dessert a dab of ice cream topped with some defrosted raspberries and a small slog of crême de framboise.

Tuesday/12-Nov-13: Yogurt on overday.

Leftovers tonight, the broccoli tart. followed by a salad. And then some cheese for afters.

Wednesday/13-Nov-13: Shopping today.

Working on cleaning out the freezer inventory (oh, it does want defrosting), I made Baked Pasta With Sausage, Mushrooms and Mascarpone (web; cookbooker). My (homemade) Italian sausage from the freezer was only 2/3 what was required, so I reduced the recipe that much. Good, it was, and we have one serving left. Then a big salad. For dessert, some squares of nice chocolate.

Thursday/14-Nov-13: Dinner was a half dose of Pasta con la Zucca alla Napoletana (web), using up that end of the butternut squash and a dab left from the canned pumpkin. Interesting recipe in the the pasta is cooked right in the sauce, rather than separately. Pretty good it was, especially with a dose of parmesan. Then a salad. Then we split a Magnum Classic.

Yogurt on overnight.

Friday/15-Nov-13: Lunch out for Ed's birthday. Absolutely no need for further food today.

Saturday/16-Nov-13: Dinner was a halfish version of Pizza aux Poires, Épinards, et Gorgonzola (VPQ), pizza with pears, spinach, and gorgonzola. It was surprisingly good. I used a store-bought pizza crust, turned out to be a cracker crust, while I prefer a more substantial crust. Rather than sautéing fresh spinach, I defrosted some leaf spinach and picked the big stems out; this was fine. A short 300g of gorgonzola and two pears. Layered: gorgonzola, spinach, gorgonzola, thin pear slices (that had been tossed with a bit of lemon juice), and pine nuts. Ed asked to have this again on a proper pizza crust. Also would be good as a pannekoek perhaps.

Sunday/17-Nov-13: Defrosted the chest freezer today. Don't know why I don't like defrosting. Such a chore. At least my spreadsheet is up-to-date now.

Tonight we ate, more or less, Fast Roast Chicken (Cookwise, p402). I set the chicken, stuffed with rosemary and lemon pieces, on some chunks of potato, carrot, and parsnip. The oven didn't seem to get to the required temperature (500F). Not sure if the problem is the oven or the thermometer I'm using. The chickie was nicely done in about an hour. Not especially fast. Neverthesless, it was good. Then we ate a bit of cheese. And then some Apple Berry Clafouti (MC 2BTried) to help use up the sack of local apples I bought. Since Cookwise is a seldom used cookbook, I could have taken a pic and posted about it, but didn't feel like it. Enjoyed the eating, though.

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

Monday, November 4, 2013

This week in the kitchen

Monday/4-Nov-13: Dinner was Zucchini and Butternut Squash Soup (MC 2BTried). A so-so soup that improved with the addition of some good hot sauce. Then a bit of cheese. Then we split a Magnum Classic.

Tuesday/5-Nov-13: Dinner was sort of a halfish dose of Scallop & Pepper Tacos (EW/jun13; web). Tasty, but I think they would have been even better over polenta. Then there was a salad of the remaining spinach, along with a sort of bacon dressing. For dessert, a toasted waffle with some mango chunks and a dab of vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday/6-Nov-13: Shopping today. Thus, fish for dinner. The main was Nina Simonds's Broiled Halibut with Miso Glaze (Essential, p413). As suggested, I served with String Beans with Ginger and Garlic (Essential, p260); these were pretty good and easy to make. And some plain basmati rice. For dessert, there was Coconut Rice Pudding with Lime Syrup (Essential, p846; cookbooker).

Yogurt on overnight.

Thursday/7-Nov-13: For dinner, I made the Zucchini and Feta Gratin (MC), but with broccoli, which turned out very good. Think I'm going to write this up with my changes and call it my recipe. Served with a big salad. And then some cookies for dessert.

Friday/8-Nov-13: Used most of the neck of my butternut squash to make Butternut Squash Ribbons with Spinach Tagliatelle (web), well, really with basil tagliatelle, since that was the only green sort to be found. Quite nice, although the recipe was a bit weird. Maybe you can buy already sautéed mushrooms in the US? Then a salad. Then some cheese.

Saturday/9-Nov-13: Ed's Montbron choir had a concert this evening. We had pizza afterwards. Nothing happened in the kitchen, beyond some cleaining today.

Sunday/10-Nov-13: Made a Pumpkin Roll (MC) today to take to a party this evening, then didn't feel like going. Hope I'm not getting sick. Ed went and had a nice time. For dinner I had some corn tortillas with thinly sliced onion, tomato, and cheese, using up the ends of two bits.

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