Monday, February 24, 2014

This week in the kitchen

Monday/24-Feb-14 - Tuesday/25-Feb-14: Travelling home from the Netherlands. The kitchen was empty.

Wednesday/26-Feb-14: Grocery shopping today; I made the list before we left. This week's sales have an American theme, with squares of sliced cheese like Kraft American, ready made hamburgers and hot dogs, and English muffins made in the UK. We bought a package of those, but passed by the other stuff.

Dinner was Afsha Mumtaz's Dry Masala Fish (Sookhi Macchi) (100Curries, p43), using cod that was on special today rather than a whole fish. Not bad, if not a favorite. Served with a short third recipe  Moghlai Spinach (TasteIndia, p36) (finishing off a sack of frozen spinach) and Simple Buttery Rice with Onion (MJ1, p149). Second time I've made this spinach; it's pretty good. The rice is an old favorite.

For dessert we had some store-bought salty caramel custards. I tripped up the step from the kitchen while carrying them to the table—ouch! Two bruised shins and very sore first joint on my left pinky. Sigh. The custards survived and were good.

Thursday/27-Feb-14: Yogurt on overday, during which time there was a power cut. Simple-minded yogurt maker machine doesn't remember it has been on when this happens and simple-minded people forgot that it needed attention. Not sure how this batch, with a new starter, will turn out.

Dinner was a half dose of Tagliolini with Prawns (Shrimp) and Zucchini (Courgette) (TopItal, p13) with, yes, homemade pasta. Tagliolini seems to be a "round" version of tagliatelle, however that would work. I used my fettuccine cutters and rolled only to 5, so it was fairly thick, nice and chewy. Then a salad. Then some mini magnums for after.

Friday/28-Feb-14: The English muffins were pretty blah. They had the taste and texture of plain white bread, in flat circles. What did I expect anyway?

Dinner was Moroccan chicken with olives from the freezer over couscous. As go-withs, I made half doses of Spicy Carrot Salad (MedLight, p114) and Tunisian Zucchini Salad (MedLight, p117). Both of these I've made before. We were full.

Saturday/1-Mar-14: Another Time-Life dinner, Arroz con Pollo (TLS&P, p59), followed by a salad, and then Natillas (TLS&P, p90) for dessert.

Put chickpeas and salt cod on to soak for tomorrow's dinner.

Sunday/2-Mar-14: Yogurt on overday.

Another Spain & Portugal dinner. There was Potaje de Vigilia (TLS&P, p6) from Spain, served with Broa (TLS&P, p83) from Portugal. The soup, traditionally served on Good Friday, is with made with salt cod, spinach, and chickpeas. Had 500g of chickpeas (instead of 1lb) and 360g of salt cod (instead of 1/2lb). Pretty good and lots for the freezer.

A long time ago Raymond Sokolov wrote an article on salt cod for his column in Natural History. That's one of the ones I'm sorry I neglected to save. Salt cod is a food that been used for hundreds of years all around the Atlantic. Mark Kurlansky has written a book about cod that's been on my read-me shelf for a long time.

The broa recipe attracted me when I first read through this recipe book, but I decided I didn't want to mess with zapping a chunk of my small portion of cornmeal (aka polenta) in a blender. But, when I was catching up on "exotic" shopping while we were in the Netherlands, I noticed a sack of fine-grain cornmeal next to my regular polenta. Aha, I said and added that to my overflowing shopping cart with the idea of trying this bread. The bread is about half and half cornmeal and regular flour, the highest percentage of cornmeal I've seen in a yeast-risen bread. Even though the grind is very fine, it still felt rather gritty to me while kneading. Generally an easy bread to made. Ed liked it a lot.

Another two of the natillas for dessert.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes; #2 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #3 PASTA: yes for February, no for March; #4 FotW: yes for February, no for March; #5 BREAD: none for February; 1 for March(!)

Monday, February 17, 2014

This week in the kitchen

Monday/17-Feb-14 - Sunday/23-Mon-14: We were in the Netherlands. The kitchen was empty.

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

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Quintet of Cuisines: Brik bil Anchouwa

Tonight was brik night. There are recipes for three different fillings given, anchovies (or tuna, for the faint-of-fish), lamb, and chicken. We've had both chicken and lamb recently, so we opted for the tuna version.

The filling for all versions is easy to assemble and is briefly cooked before using. The fishy version has anchovies or tuna, finely chopped onions and parsley, lots of capers, and freshly ground black pepper. These are mixed then briefly fried. Actually, I expect that, as with a quiche or a crèpe, you could use most anything you've got around needing to be used up to fill a brik.

Having read the instructions for making malsouqua, the sheets of pastry used to make the brik, I figured the store-bought sheets were going to work just fine. Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco were all French colonies at one time, so, even out here in the country, sheets of brick/brique/brik (I've seen all versions in recipes) are available in the cooler next to filo, pâte brisée, pâte feuilletée, and pizza.

In the photo, my hand is under the paper that the sheet rests on. I've peeled the edge of the pastry so you might be able to get an idea of how thin they are.

The store-bought brik sheets are about 12" in diameter. I'd already started heating the oil in the smaller pan asked, when I realized how big they were, so I quickly changed to a bigger pan. After peeling the pastry sheet from its paper, you add the filling, make a dent in that, and top with an egg. A small egg, please, since a big one would swamp the works. Then into a skillet to fry in olive oil.

These are the filled briks frying in what was probably not quite enough oil. The first one, on the left, is a bit messy, since I'd neglected to remove it from its supporting paper before filling, and it tore on the bottom as I tried to get it free. Given that these sheets are at least 2" in diameter bigger than the one's you'd make following the instructions in the book (should you really want to do that), they're probably a bit underfilled. 

Two minutes on each side, then onto the plate for serving. Not so pretty, but very tasty.

This week in the kitchen

Monday/10-Feb-14: Another dinner from TLQuint. For a main we had brik. For a salad there was Slata Mechouia—Roasted-Tomato-and-Pepper Salad (TLQuint, p102), which I liked, but Ed wasn't especially fond of. The bell pepper roasting instructions for last week's salad were better. For dessert, there was more Impossible Pie.

Tuesday/11-Feb-14: In the morning I made some Zucchini and Feta Salad (WorldVeg, p640) to take to a DORSOB get-together.

Defrosted some cooked lamb and smerged two recipes to use up the leftover brick. Sautéed onions, lamb, pine nuts, dried apricots, cinnamon, coriander, and parsley, then stirred in some yogurt; wrapped it all in brick and popped in the over to brown. Not bad, not great. Plus some steamed broccoli. Plus some leftover Zucchini and Feta Salad. We split a magnum classic for dessert.

Wednesday/12-Feb-14: Yogurt on overday. Sometimes it turns off properly sometimes not. Today was a good day.

First dinner from TLS&P today, Merluza a la Gallega—Poached Hake with Potatoes and Tomato Sauce (TLS&P, p21). Used smoked paprika instead of plain. Pretty good, nothing special. A side of steamed haricots verts, which went especially well with the tomato sauce.

Thursday/13-Feb-14: Woke this morning to find that the wind had ripped the tar paper off the roof of the shed. Argh.

Dinner was a half dose of Island Chicken Bites (web), which was easy and pretty tasty. Think it's meant a toothpick food with drinks, but was nice as chunks on the plate; might be good to flatten a kip filet a bit and broil that too. As a go-with there was some Black Beans and Rice (web) and some steamed broccoli. And some mini-magnums for after.

Friday/14-Feb-14: Valentine's day lunch at a very nice restaurant. Nothing happened in the kitchen

Saturday/15-Feb-14 - Sunday/16-Feb14: On our way to Amsterdam; nothing happening in our kitchen. We hope.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes, #2 VEG/FISH: 2
This month: #3 PASTA: no, #4 FotW: yes, #5 BREAD: 0

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Quintet of Cuisines: Banitsa

Banista is a traditional Bulgarian dish, usually made for Christmas or New Year's Eve, when they might contain a little token like the fêve in a French Three Kings' Cake. With filo replacing a hand-made dough, these are actually quite easy to make, with the preparation larged finished while the oven is heating.

Field was served a special, S-shaped banista. More common, judging by the images you find searching, is for the rolls of filled filo to be coiled into a springform pan, the resulting "pie" cut into wedges for serving. I made a half recipe since I had a limited amount of feta and filo, so I thought that wouldn't work for me, although I was probably wrong.

Feta comes in 200g packets, so I was a bit short on this for making a half recipe. Being in a lazy mood, I decided to zap the feta, yogurt, and egg in the food processor rather than crumbling, forcing through a sieve, and beating vigorously with a spoon. Meanwhile I dug out my pastry bag and assembled it with a 1/4" tip (rather than 1/3" as requested) since that's the biggest I have. The food processor was probably a mistake, though, since the filling was more pourable than pipable.

But I proceeded. I laid out each rectangle, buttered, folded, spooned what was probably about two tablespoons along the long edges, rolled, and formed into a figure eight. My half recipe made nine rolls, where eight would have been expected. My packet of filo had ten sheets, so I buttered and folded the last one, sprinkling with a bit of cinnamon-and-sugar mix that needed using up.

Twenty minutes in the oven and they were lovely and crispy. The cinnamon square looks a bit burnt, but wasn't really.

These were a nice accompaniment for soup-for-dinner. They'd also be nice finger food for drinks or on a buffer. We rather liked the rather tidy (for filo) single serving shape.

This week in the kitchen

Monday/3-Feb-14: Dinner was Curried Zucchini Soup from the freezer, made with some of the summer bounty. As an accompaniment, I made banista (TLQuint, p6) a savory filo pastry filled with a feta-yogurt-egg mixture.

Tuesday/4-Feb-14: Had a day out with my drawing group today—shopping, not drawing. In the morning, I cranked up the crockpot and started a half recipe of Chicken and Chickpea Tagine (web), a half recipe with all the spices. Served with couscous and some roasted broccoli tossed with Moroccan spice (homemade for something or other). All pretty good.

Yogurt on overnight. Hoping it shuts off properly.

Wednesday/5-Feb-14: Yogurt was fine. Hope the business with not turning off consistently was a momentary aberration. Shopping today.

Dinner was (sort of) Schol uit de Oven (TLQuint, p35); that's plaice from the oven. There was schol last week, but not this week. I used panga instead, probably slight larger, so I cooked a bit longer. No Gouda; used Parmesan instead. This would probably work with any thin fish fillet. Or any thick fillet if you didn't fold it. Ed didn't like the bacon especially. Served with Dusolier's Perfect Roast Potatoes and some steamed broccoli. For dessert we had some yummy cheesecake I bought at the cheese counter.

Thursday/6-Mon-14: I had lunch out today. (Ed was supposed to come, but stayed home sickly.) For dinner he had two big bowls of Curried Zucchini Soup, and I had one smaller one. I saw from my notes that I added 50% to the curry powder; it's ok as is, but could take a bit more. Soup needed salt, but that's normal for the way I cook.

Friday/7-Feb-14: Dinner was El Labm el M'qali (Morocco)—Lamb with Lemons and Olives (TLQuint, p62), served over couscous. I used store-bought preserved lemons, since I don't have any home-made ones available. Good, but I think I would make thin slices of the lemon quarters rather than leaving them in big chunks. Fairly easy to make, although boning the lamb is a bit time-consuming. For a salad, I made Kiopoolu (Bulgaria)—Eggplant and Pepper Spread (TLQuint, p104), which was a pretty good salady sort of thing.

Saturday/8-Feb-14: Yogurt on overday.

Meant to make pasta for dinner, but did a bunch of "stuff" instead. So it was a half recipe of Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Asparagus (web) with linguine. Used up the end of the Toupargel frozen asparagus, which worked fairly well. Tasty stuff. Then a big salad. Then a dab of ice cream with our hazelnut chocolate squares.

Sunday/9-Feb-14: There's a new version of the old Impossible Pie recipe going around this week, although it looks a bit suspect to me. I can handle more butter and less sugar, especially the sugar part), but no baking powder or salt makes me wonder if it will work. I made one today with the baking powder. Still tasty. Like the reduced sugar.

Dinner was Thai Red Curry (web). Now that I look at the page again, I think it was meant to be served as a mug of soup. Otherwise, I can't imagine how it would served 12. I used only one carrot (instead of two), one zucchini instead of two (but these are bigger than the typical US ones), more green beans, and no baby corn; all this woudl be just short of a whole recipe. Served over rice. We might have had three or stretched to four servings. Easy, good, but nothing special. Kind of an old hippie veggie stir-fry, but with red curry paste and coconut milk. As a side, there was a half dose of Cucumber Salad (Delightful, p51) made with less sugar that asked; good stuff. Then Impossible Pie. We're full.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes #2 VEG/FISH: 4
This month: #3 PASTA: no, #4 FotW: no for SP, #5 BREAD: 0