Monday, March 31, 2014

This week in the kitchen

Monday/31-Mar-14: Nothing happened in our kitchen. We spent a Groupon night that included a delicious meal at a chateau near Perigueux. While we were ordering they brought us a covered dish of truffles to sniff and offered us a sliver on several menu choices for an an extra €10. No, thank you, we said.

Tuesday/1-Apr-14: Back home. Shopping.

Dinner was Émince de saumon au cidre et au safran (web), that's salmon chunks in a cider-saffron sauce; there's also cream in the sauce and it's served over pasta, but you'd never guess from the name. Ok. The plate was supposed to be trimmed with slices of peach and cucumber. No peaches to be found, so I used some mango slices from the freezer. The mango worked; the cuke was weird. Actually not a bad dish, although next time, I'd forget the cuke and stir the mango into the sauce at the end. That was enough for dinner.

Wednesday/2-Apr-14: Started the first yogurt with the new yogurt maker this morning. The machine is the same but different. They have you make the yogurt without the lids on the jars, not sure why, and there's a second level where the lids side while the yogurt is cooking. Instead of a knob to set the time, there's an electronic gadget to choose the number of hours, and it counts backward, so you know, more or less, how much time is left. Also it beeps when it's done, another nice feature. We'll see.

It was some pretty good clear-out-the-freezer chili tonight, with an odd bit of Hazan's Italian sausage, black beans, and blue hominy, along with a couple of ice cubes of chili-soaking liquid. And a dab of guacamole on the side. For dessert there were pots of store-bought riz-au-lait.

Thursday/3-Apr-14: This morning's yogurt was about as good as the new starter that I used. A new brand of yogurt, which wasn't my favorite.

Dinner was Harissa Quinoa with Shrimp and Chickpeas (web; cookbooker), which was tasty, but not really successful. And a salad.. Then we were full.

Friday/4-Apr-14: A dinner to start off Nigel Slater at IHCC and work on the freezer inventory tonight. Lamb Sirloin Chops with Yogurt and Mint (RealFast, p240), Fragrant Brown Basmati Rice (RealFast p203). a cucumber salad with white wine vinegar and chopped dill (as recommended), and some broccoli with a squeeze of lemon juice and a grind of pepper flakes.

Saturday/5-Apr-14: Yogurt on overday. Still had a bakje (unexpired) of a better yogurt, so used that as the starter. Not sure why the lids can't be on while the yogurt is cooking. There's even more condensation in this one.

At dinner, our main was Sliced Pork with Tiger Sauce (Kuo, p330). (Hard to believe this is the first time I've reference Kuo here. Goes to show I haven't been cooking much Chinese food since we moved.) This recipe is the closest thing I've found to some Thai "Tiger Cries" that we used to get in Houston many many years ago, only with pork instead of beef. Served this with Stir-Fried Spiced Cabbage (TLChina, p34) and plain rice.

Sunday/6-Apr-14: Tonight's dinner was Linguine with Smoked Trout and Basil (XSpecCP, p101; cookbooker). Really has nothing to do with a crockpot. The sauce is kept warm for serving in the crock. Ho hum. I just tossed it with the linguine and served it right away. Good it was, though. Then a salad. And that was all.

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

Monday, March 24, 2014

This week in the kitchen

Monday/24-Mar-14: Bumped into a recipe for Tuna Melt during the morning and made that for lunch. Toast your bun, lay on a slice of tomato, top with a nice tuna salad, grate or slice some cheese on top, and plop in the oven till the cheese melts. Not for everyday, but nice.

In the afternoon I made some Zucchini-Lemon Muffins (MC), working on the zucchini backlog in the freezer.

For dinner, I went back to the Time-Life Quintet book. There was Dulma—Zucchini Stuffed with Lamb and Rice (TLQuint, p85) served with Salatit Batata—Potato Salad with Caraway (TLQuint, p101), both from Tunisia. Ground lamb has to be homemade and I had some cooked lamb in the freezer waiting to be used, so I ground that up with the onion, eggs, parsley, mint, and other spices. Made good use of the food processor here, where the 1970-ish instructions had you kneading and beating the filling.

A good filling, and I've got lots leftover. I'll get some brik or filo tomorrow and stuff some samosa-like things for baking. The potatoes were good too.

Then a simple salad, rocket and mâche with a dab of dressing. For afters, there was a dab of ice cream with a muffin.

Tuesday/25-Mar-14: Yogurt on overday.

Shopping today. There were fêves from Spain today; the season has moved northward from Morocco. I resisted, but it was hard. Did get some French strawberries, the first seen I've seen this year, today.

I've added a page with the Nigel Slater schedule for I Heart Cooking Clubs. With the Foods of the World thing going on, I'm not sure how much I'll be able to participate, but I do like him, so will try. I've gotten lazy about making separate posts for meals in the last couple of months, so will have to get back in the groove.

I've also added a page with a list of zucchini recipes I've tried in the last year. I hope this might make meal planning easier when the next garden bounty starts to appear. Might add separate pages for other veggies (eggplant?) if those explode in the garden.

Dinner was Mustard-Coated Salmon (web; cookbooker), along with some steamed broccoli (topped up with a bitter butter with garlic and red pepper flakes) and trio rice. For after there was the last waffle from the freezer topped with ice cream and, yes, strawberries. Good, it all was.

After ten hours, some of the yogurt pots were still runny. Think that it's not heating evenly across the bottom. Broke down and ordered a new one, same brand, newer model.

Wednesday/26-Mar-14: Wrapped the leftover lamb in filo and baked some samosas. Now in the freezer for another meal or snack or two or three.

Dinner was Curried Fried Rice (MW@Home, p226). I used the last of my Thai red curry sauce for the curry sauce; had the amount asked, but could have used more. This is a fried rice with tomatoes and spinach. Pretty good, if a bit off course. We ate more or less the whole recipe, so no dessert needed.

Thursday/27-Mar-14: Dinner was Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin (web). I had about a third of the meat, but used half of the rub; did cut the sugar back even further. Easy and good. Served with smashed sweet potato and some peas for a colorful plate. While we were eating, the ice cream maker made up some Crème Fraîche Ice Cream (MC) for after. Then off to line dancing for me.

Friday/28-Mar-14: Off to Limoges for dinner and a concert this evening. Nothing much happened in the kitchen. Running out of yogurt. Hope the new one comes tomorrow, please Amazon.

Saturday/29-Mar-14: No yogurt maker today. Only one yogurt left. Will buy more starter next week.

For dinner there was Stir-Fried Rice Stick Noodles with Shrimp and Vegetables (p47, TLChina). My shrimp were too big, so I quartered them rather than just halving them. The instructions said to soak the noodles for five minutes in cold water. After more time than that, they weren't very soft at all, so I drained and poured some hot water over them. But for only a few minutes so there were still a bit chewy. Instructions badly presented. Quite quick to make. Tasty, and improved with a bit of sambal.

Sunday/30-Mar-14: A really late start to the day with the time change. We ate lunch about 4pm (lamb-filled samosas from the freezer; they were good), and didn't really feel like a bit dinner. So made a salad similar to the pasta dinner I'd planned, a small can of tuna, some oven-dried tomatoes from the freezer, slivers of Parmesan. Pretty good it was. We split a magnum classic for dessert.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 COOKBOOKS: yes?; #2 VEG/FISH: 4
This month: #3 PASTA: yes; #4 FotW: yes; #5 BREAD: 1

Monday, March 17, 2014

This week in the kitchen

Monday/17-Mar-14: Scratching an itch, tonight was Tamale Pie (OldLaurel, p299; NewLaurel, p307). Real comfort food. And some guacamole. Finished off by some double chocolate mini-magnums.

Tuesday/18-Mar-14: Shopping today. Picked the half chicken in the fridge and started some chicken stock after we got home.

Dinner was a half recipe of Baked Fish, Greek Style (Ackart, p24); have made this a couple of times, easy and good. This time I used oven-dried tomatoes from the freezer for the sauce. Worked fine. As a go-with there was Zucchini Parmesan Crisps (web), which is definitely a keeper. I bought a kilo of rattes today, which is a small potato and about the only potato available in small packages. Scrubbed up some of these, chunked in two or three, and boiled them up. Tossed with a bitter butter, some parsley, and lots of black pepper. Good stuff. For after, I had two more stuffed figs with a bit of port, while Ed had a pain torsade. (Two in the package; I had mine as an afternoon snack.) It's a twisted bread filled with chocolate chip-like bits, not too sweet.

Wednesday/19-Mar-14: Made some vegetable stock from MDSoups today, but left the lid ajar apparently when I went off to do something else and it ran dry. So ended up using vegetable stock for a cube for Quinoa Vegetable Soup (Vegpress, p50). Miscounted how many celery sticks I needed to buy, so there were all used in the burnt stock and none were available for the soup. Oh well. Used red quinoa, since that's what I have needing to be used. Pretty good soup, especially with a good dose of hot sauce at the table. For afters we finished off the stuffed figs and the old bottle of port and opened the new bottle of port. The old bottle is better we decided. (In NL the various kinds of port are labelled with the age. It's usually a good idea to buy the oldest you can afford. Here, there's no labelling like this, so it's a guess to find one you like.)

Half the soup into the freezer. We have lots of meals there needing to be eaten.

Thursday/20-Mar-14: Yogurt on overday. Used a new starter again since the last one didn't seem to be "taking." This could, of course, be a problem with the yogurt maker which has been behaving undependably, but we'll see.

Finished off the chicken stock and froze it up. It does make one a bit nervous pouring hot stuff into tupperware when they won't tell you what kind of plastic they use.

Observation: If I were ever to have a flat tummy, my jeans would falls off, since my bum is too flat to hold them up.

Dinner was two kip filets worth of Chicken Cafrael (web), more or less this recipe, but when I searched a bit, I found that most recipes used tamarind for the sour taste rather than white wine vinegar, so I did that. Nice tastes, and worth a bit more investigation to find a somewhat more authentic recipe perhaps. For a side there was a half recipe of Cauliflower, Peas. and Potatoes (TasteIndia, p114; cookbooker), using chou romanesco, rather than plain old cauliflower, since there was none of that at the shops. Weird stuff, but makes a pretty dish. More colorful than cauliflower would have been. (Cauliflower is apparently not very popular in this part of France; often when they have it, it's not especially nice. Lately they've been having the romanesco version more often.) Then there was Simple Buttery Rice (which was from MJ1, but I do it from my head usually). We split a magnum classic for after.

Friday/21-Mar-14: Dinner was loosely based on Creamy Garlicky Seafood Marinara (web), very loosely. For the veg, I used up the romanesco, added some broccoli and a julienned carrot. For the seafood there was the end of some small frozen shrimp, along some scallops. Cutting a recipe for cream of X soup way back, I made a sauce with (among other things) dried milk powder, cornstarch, chicken bouillon powder, onion granules, etc. Added water and some crème fraîche. Served all over pasta. Wasn't bad at all. We pigged out on some Lu Scholiertjes afterwards.

Saturday/22-Mar-14: Party tonight, given by our cat spa owners who have sold out and gave a final party this evening. I made a big bowl of guacamole. That was all that happened in the kitchen today.

Sunday/23-Mar-14: After finishing off the guacamole we brought home for lunch, neither of us felt much like eating, so I made a big salad and that was dinner. Finished off by mini magnums.

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

Monday, March 10, 2014

This week in the kitchen

Monday/10-Mar-14: Dinner was Ervilhas Guisadas à Portuguêsa—Peas Portuguese (TLS&P, p69). I used only half the butter for sautéing the onion. Served the last bit of Jody's harberno pasta on the side. All was good. We split a magnum classic for after. (I had about a third; Ed was happy to have more.)

Tuesday/11-Mar-14: Shopping today.

Haven't made a dessert in a while. Found the recipe for Pear-Almond Upside Down Cake (VC4E, p704) on the way to the grocery and bought the required two pears. Made dinner while this was in the oven.

Dinner was Pesce con Funghi Porcini—White Fish Fillets with Ceps (TopItal, p83); no cêpes (wrong season, isn't it?) so used shiitakes. This was pretty good and easy. I used the odd bits of shrooms and a shallot to make a kind of trio rice pilaf. And then there was (sort of) Broccoletti in Padella—Broccoli with Garlic and Chilli Pepper (TopItal, p55). Followed by too much upside down cake. I cut it in eighths, but should have done it in sixths. We ate a quarter, then Ed wanted more, so we ate another quarter. I had small pieces both time, but still.

Wednesday/12-Mar-14: Made a half recipe (i.e., only one chicken) of Garlic Roast Chicken (MC) for dinner. Put it in the oven about 18.30 and used the turn-off feature of the oven to turn it off at the proper time. We went to the "election information" evening that lasted till 20.00. Tiring. Came home and ate the chicken and veg right out of the roasting pan. Almost finished the upside down cake; just a bit left for breakfast.

Yogurt on overnight.

Thursday/13-Mar-14: Expecting to be tuckered out from line dancing this evening, I planned Slow Cooker Pork Paprikash (web; cookbooker) for dinner. Line dancing was cancelled, so the plan was for naught. Served the paprikash over a full dose (probably the first time ever) of Spaetzle (MW@Home, p203); this is part of a recipe for Cauliflower Paprikash. The pork paprikash was good and we have another dinner in the freezer. Ate some carrot sticks for a veg. No dessert. (I bought this pork on sale, 1.8kg of sauté, which seems to be chunks of shoulder. Usually I divide it up into smaller bits, but this time I didn't so we'll have to repeat a pork dinner soon.)

Friday/14-Mar-14: Dinner was Chile-Lime Veggie Noodles (web). OK, but neither of us really liked it. We split a magnum classic for afters.

Saturday/15-Mar-14: Used up the rest of the pork tonight with Pork in a Mustard Spice Mix (100Curries, p99). When I read through the recipe I somehow missed that it needed to simmer for an hour. Oops. But I remembered that in Q&E, Jaffrey gives the option of pressure cooking (to be quick) or simmering. So I got out the pressure cooker and away we went. The organic tomatoes I bought were really blah, so the dish might have had more flavor they had been better, but it was pretty darn good as it was. For a side there was a half recipe of Spiced Broccoli and Tomatoes (IndLight, p175). This wanted plum tomatoes, which are summer things. I have some oven-dried plum tomatoes in the freezer, so used them instead. Pretty good, this was. Served with rice. And a waffle with mixed berries (from the freezer) topped with crème fraîche for dessert.

Sunday/16-Mar-14: Yogurt on overday.

Have some green beans that don't like like they'll get used in the next days, so I made a small batch of Kaye's Pickled Green Beans (MC). This is sort of my own recipe, smerged from a couple of others. I like; Ed doesn't. (He's not a big pickle eater.)

Made some Figos Recheados—Dried Figs Stuffed with Almonds and Chocolate (TLS&P, p103) from Portugal. One day too late with these, but hadn't had time to make them. They're stuffed with a mixture of ground almonds and shredded chocolate. There are actually two fig "candy" recipes given, both say they are traditionally served after dinner accompanied by glasses of port. I've tried one of mine, and, yes, I think that would be a good combination. Our bottle of port is so old, though, I wonder if it's drinkable? Will check it out this evening. I suspect either of these fig things would be a nice little go-with for after dinner of afternoon coffee. Pretty easy to make too.

The yogurt, which should have gone off at 22.30, was off about 17.00. Don't know when or why that happened. Guess it might be time to break down and get a new yogurt maker. Now, do I get another Moulinex so I can use the same jars? Or do I get another brand that has eight jars per liter, which is a better amount for breakfast

Dinner was a pasta fantasy using up bits of broccoli, shiitakes, and zucchini, along with some tomato sauce from the freezer. Then a bit salad. Then some port with stuffed figs. The port (tawny) is still drinkable. The figs are a good go-with.

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

Monday, March 3, 2014

This week in the kitchen

Monday/3-Mar-14: Didn't much feel like cooking today, so I defrosted some merguez de volaille (bird sausages), made a bit of potato salad with lots of leftover bits, and steamed some broccoli. Had the last two natillas for after.

Tuesday/4-Mar-14: Out of milk, so we did our shopping today instead of tomorrow. The store was relatively empty and the shelves largely stocked, so we may change to Tuesdays. There were hogs' heads in the meat department today.

Dinner was Saumon Écossais aux Spaghettis et aux Câpres (VPG). Twas supposed to have big capers, but I haven't found any of those here. Small ones are just as good no doubt. Then a salad. Then a bit of Delice de Poitou, a cheese from our xmas dinner that we especially liked. This is the first time I've seen it since then.

Set pork marinating for tomorrow's dinner.

Wednesday/5-Mar-14: Yogurt on overday. Used a new starter again, since the last batch didn't seem to be "cooked" properly; i.e., it was still pretty runny. Maybe I miscalculated the stop time. Today's batch seems OK, even though there was, yet again, a power blip that caused the machine to turn off.

Sunshine today and I just happened to have planned a meal that was really meant to be grilled, so Ed cranked the bbq up. We ate inside, of course, since it really wasn't that warm out by dinnertime. We had Honey-Lime Pork Tenderlion (web), which was easy and good, but the two of us ate what was meant for four people. Thank you, pig. Served with some smashed sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli.

Thursday/6-Mar-14: Line dancing this afternoon, then off to the doctor's open hours to renew a prescription. Two hours later I emerged. Didn't feel like cooking what was on the plan, so got some comté-basil fagottini from the freezer and made a salad. We split a magnum classic for after.

Friday/7-Mar-14: Made some Butternut Squash Gnocchi (web) this evening. We ate a fourth of it, and I'll freeze the remaining in batches. Can't say it was a success; I just don't have the gnocchi technique. Then a salad. That was all.

Saturday/8-Mar-14: We had Barbara and Shirley for a simple dinner before going out for a loto evening. Two kinds of zucchini soup from the freezer were accompanied by a Tortilla de Patate (TLS&P, p67).

We didn't win anything at the loto, but Barbara won a jambon sec and gave it to us. Wonder what we'll do with that?

Sunday/9-Mar-14: Yogurt on overday.

Off to a concert this evening with pizza for dinner afterwards.

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

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Cooking of Spain and Portugal: Arroz con Pollo

Another meal from The Cooking of Spain and Portugal. Starting with Arroz con Pollo—Chicken with Saffron Rice and Peas. This is a one-dish meal, simple to make and quite tasty, if not highly spiced.  I served this with salad.

I made some changes to accomodate our kitchen:
  • Used one kilo of chicken thighs rather than cutting up a chicken, since we like thighs. This was a new brand and there were only seven thighs, five biggish ones and two smallish ones. If you used a whole chicken, it would be  best to cut it into eight smaller pieces rather than four big ones.
  • Used olive oil rather than lard.
  • Used 100g lardons instead of 4 ounces of salt pork.

I used lardons nature (rather than fumé) and regular paprika (rather than the hot or smoked kind). I think I might try smoked lardons and paprika when I make this again.

Annoyingly, the stove ran out of gas in the middle of browning the chicken pieces, but that was only a delay not a real problem.

The recipe calls for "1-1/2 cups raw medium or long-grain regular-milled rice or imported short-grain rice". I found that as clear as nothing, and used basmati rice since that's the only long-grain rice I have in-house. What a strange ingredient listing!

Although this is a not spicy dish, like we usually enjoy, it was quite tasty and looked pretty in the pot. The recipe serves four as it says; we will have a second dinner for two.

For dessert there was Natillas—Soft Custard from Portugal. This is a nice custard, made with cinnamon rather than vanilla as the flavoring. It wasn't too sweet, as can happen with American recipes. For the ladyfingers, I had to break into my stash that I save for make tiramisu, so I might have to made a reduced version of that one of these days.

This indeed made six servings, not big (about 3/4 cup each), but just the right amount to top off the meal.