Monday, May 25, 2015

This week in the kitchen

Monday/25-May-15: Used the amarone wine we bought in NL a couple of years ago to make Pot Roast of Beef Braised in Amarone Wine (ClassItal, p395). Pretty good pot roast, although the chunk of meat I got (what was it?) didn't have much marbling, so the meat was a trifle dry, if tasty. Served with Sautéed Broccoli with Olive Oil and Garlic (ClassItal, p477), which is pretty much how I make it if I go beyond steaming. And some polenta. We started with some ostrich rillettes and duck pâté from jars, drinking a bottle of Monbazillac that Bill got last week. It's surprising to me how a sweet white wine goes with this kind of thing. For after, there was cheese. I'm full.

Tuesday/26-May-15: Terry came to dinner this evening. For our apèro, we worked on the ostrich and duck pâtés along with a pâté de campagne fait à maison from the butcher. For a starter we had charentaise melon with pineau. For the main there was Grilled Pork Chops with Green Apple-Chipotle Salsa (BigFlav, p156; cookbooker). The salsa was really scrumptious. All-Purpose Rice and Beans (BigFlav, p262) as a go-with. Store-bought tarts for dessert, two gateaux basques and two pear-almond tartlettes.

Wednesday/27-May-15: We had lunch out with Bill before taking him to the train station then going on to shopping. Only some fruit and a few munchies for dinner,

Thursday/28-May-15: This morning the balloon guy called. It will be too windy tomorrow so our trip is postponed.

I didn't buy fish yesterday, since I'd had both salmon and lieu noir for lunch. Instead we had two kip filets done up as a half dose of Chicken in a Cream Parmesan and Sundried Tomato Sauce (web), seriouly yummy, with trio rice on the side. Then a big salad. For after we finished off two bits of cheese.

Friday/29-May-15: Caribbean night tonight. There was a half recipe of Camarones a la Criolla—Shrimp in Spicy Tomato Sauce (TLCarib, p24) served with rice and Concombres en Salade—Cucumber Salad (TLCarib, p24).The shrimp dish was easy and tasty, not divine but quite good enough. The cuke salad is very similar to one I make from a Thai cookbook, but with lime juice instead of white vinegar. Spicy!

For after there was Bolo di Rum—Rum Cake (TLCarib, p109) with vanilla ice cream. I've made this cake before. It seemed to me to taste more of lime this time, but maybe I misremember. I used the cuisinart for all the mixing, which make it really easy. We both like the gritty cornmeal texture with the soft cake. I used only 3/4cup of sugar (sucre de canne).

Saturday/30-May-15: Dinner was Kaye's Shrimp-Stuffed Eggplant (MC), which is a recipe from somewhere that I've modified enough to call my own. Served with brown rice and a little carrot salad with lemon vinaigrette.

Sunday/31-May-15: Leftover night. Some black bean and smoked sausage soup from the freezer mixed with leftover black beans and rice from Tuesday, with an ice cube of chile-soaking liquid tossed in for extra flavor. Very yummy. That was all.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 UNUSED: no; #3 GRAINS: yes; #4 VEG/FISH: 2
This month: #5 PASTA: no; #6 BREAD: no; #7 FotW: yes for May

Monday, May 18, 2015

This week in the kitchen

Monday/18-May-15: Bill arrived today and we had dinner out. Nothing in the kitchen today.

Tuesday/19-May-15: Dinner was A Simple Mediterranean Spice-Roasted Chicken (Raising, p74), another goodie from this book. Gayler suggested a couscous stuffing for the chickie; I used whole wheat couscous and served it as a side. Along with Eggplant Zaalouk (Morocco, p93), which was okay, not as good as other salads from this book.

Wednesday/20-May-15: Lunch out, then shopping today. Our dinner, very late, was carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, cheese, and an eclair each.

Thursday/21-May-15: Unexpectedly had a Famous Author for dinner tonight. This was what I'd planned, just with an extra person and the claufoutis. We had nibbles with pineau. Then Barbaietole al Burro e Parmesan—Beetroot with Butter and Parmesan (VegCarlu, p38). Not bad, interesting to have butter where I'd expect olive oil, especially in an Italian recipe. Stretched three people's worth of beets to serve four. Then there was Roast Pork Loin with Lemon, Garlic and Thyme, which was a very nice recipe from the now defunct magazine, The Herb Companion. Plus some roast potatoes that turned out especially good. Then some cheese. Then some clafoutis. Yesterday, I bought a kilo of cherries, just starting into season, thinking we could nibble them over several days, but used them for a clafoutis, which is really a quick and tasty dessert, whatever the fruit. Then coffee, then waved him goodbye, till Thanksgiving possibly.

Friday/22-May-15: Dinner in Limoges this evening, before a concert. Nothing in the kitchen today.

Saturday/23-May-15: Out most of today, so I put Jamie Oliver's Spiced Shoulder of Lamb (web) in the oven to cook on low, being reading about when we got home. Pretty good it was. (The recipe is from a Jamie magazine, so you'd think that it would be one his site, but it's apparently not. Boo.) Served with Green Peas in a Creamy Sauce (MJ@Home, p87) and Turmeric Rice (MJ@Home, p100). Finished off the clafoutis for after.

Had yogurt on overday, but it failed to set. Can't figure this out. I am using a different brand of UHT milk, but it worked a couple of times. How could that be the problem? Very puzzling. Not to mention irritating that there's no yogurt for breakfast.

And did I mention the bees? They have been appearing frequently in the house, mostly in the kitchen. Yesterday Ed noticed a swarm at the corner of the house. Seems like they're trying to settle in the chimney to the wood burner. Many are dying by the time they get out. Keeping the window over the sink open at least lets them get away.

Sunday/24-May-15: Ed closed the kitchen window as we went out this morning. On our return, an amazing number of bees were there trying to get out. We're keeping a fire going trying to convince them to go elsewhere.

Ate out. Nothing in the kitchen today.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 UNUSED: yes; #3 GRAINS: yes; #4 VEG/FISH: 0
This month: #5 PASTA: no; #6 BREAD: no; #7 FotW: no for May

Monday, May 11, 2015

This week in the kitchen

Monday/11-May-15: The plumber came this morning to fix the water heater, which should solve the leaking/dripping problem and reduce our water usage, which went up in the last year.

Really didn't feel like making what I'd planned for tonight's dinner, or even cooking. So I made Mushroom Risotto from a "mix" that I won recently as part of gourmet basket. (Still have to add broth and stir stir stir, but no chopping.) That and a salad and the rest of the butterscotch pudding.

No ants in the kitchen today. Fingers crossed this plague is over. Instead we have bees getting into the hosue somewhere.

Tuesday/12-May-15: Dinner was Mormon Split-Pea Soup (TLWest, p19), about a 2/3 recipe with all the meatballs because that's all the split peas I had. A pretty good split pea soup. Mini magnums for after.

No ants or bees today.

Wednesday/13-May-15: Shopping today. Can't figure out why we're spending so much on food this year, but we're well on the way to setting a record.

Our main was Pepper-Grilled Swordfish with Preserve Lemon Oil and Wilted Chard (Raising, p43; cookbooker). First time I've used this book and my, my was this good! A sauce of (seeded) tomatoes, garlic, chili flakes, preserved lemon, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Served on a bed of chard, well, there was no chard this week, so I used spinach instead. As go-withs there were oven-fried sweet potatoes and haricots verts. The sweet potatoes were tossed with cornstarch before tossing with olive oil and some of the Moroccan spice mix Jody&Steve brought us. The potatoes were crisp when they first came from the oven, but soggy, as sweet potatoes tend to be, when we sat at table. The fish recipe said not to use the pulp of the preserved lemons, so I chopped that up and tossed with the green beans; that was a really nice touch. Altogether a very good dinner. For after we had some store-bought riz au lait, a new brand for us, very good.

Thursday/14-May-15: Yogurt on overday, with a new starter. Seems to have worked okay.

Wanted an easy dinner tonight, so I defrost what I thought was crayfish in a sauce. No sauce, but looked like they'd been frozen in a block of water. As suggested, I made a sauce of tomatoes (five of them, peeled, seeded, minced) and cream. Added some home-made cajun rub. Needed something. Added some oregano. Needed something. Added some piment d'Esplette. Turned out pretty good. Served the sauce over polenta, then we peeled the crawdads and added them on top. Not bad, if more work than expected. Then a simple salad, feta, watnuts, croutons. Then the last two riz au lait.

Friday/15-May-15: Ants are back, eating on the pears sitting in a basket on the kitchen counter. Sigh.

Finally did something from Japan. Dinner started with Toriwasa—Chicken and Parsley with Horseradish Sauce (TLJapan, p30). Pretty good it was, but lots of improvising required.   I thought I had a little bottle of sake stashed away. It's either very well-stashed or non-existent. After a bit of research, I used dry vermouth instead. Opened my tin of wasabi powder to find it covered in mold. Used some ancient horseradish powder instead. I should horizontally slice chicken breast into paper-thin slices? Uh, no. I did some fairly thin vertical slices, then made shreds, more or less. I wonder what kind of green would be used in Japan instead of flat-leaf parsley? Besides the chicken slicing, all was easy to do and the result pretty tasty. (That's a rice bowl, not a big as it looks.)

Our main was Asian-Style Frittata (MW@Home, p295). A bit of red pepper flakes didn't hurt. Some ice cream and strawberries for dessert.

Saturday/16-May-15: Went off to a fête du pain in the early afternoon, but could find no trace of it. Stopped at Intermarché to buy some bread, and some hanging baskets from the lady across the street.

Ha, went to cook dinner and discovered that the pork chops should have marinated a long while, maybe overnight, and that they would cook an hour. Pork chops? Quick replan brought us Pork Chops with Red Pepper Grits (MC, CL) which is fast and good. Have made it quite a few times now. As a side there was Karhai Broccoli (MJ@Home, p148), which I really ought to make more often. It's very easy and tasty and takes minimal attention for the last bit.

Sunday/17-May-15: Yogurt on overday. The new starter seems to have done the trick. Knock wood.

Lunch with friends today. Where I learnt that we're not the only ones having ant problems this year. Nothing further happened in the kitchen today.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: yes; #2 UNUSED: yes; #3 GRAINS: yes; #4 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #5 PASTA: no; #6 BREAD: no; #7 FotW: yes for March/April; no for May

Monday, May 4, 2015

This week in the kitchen

Monday/4-May-15: Didn't feel like eating or making what I'd planned for tonight and had some asparagus (nearing the end of the season) to use up. Used these to make a half recipe of Asparagus with Aubergine Mayonnaise (webcookbooker), which was pretty good. This was a go-with for Pork medallions with Olive-Caper Sauce (MC; web, originally from CL). Instead of pork tenderloin, this time I used varkensfiletlapjes, whatever those might be in English (boneless pork chops?), pavés du porc in French. Pretty good. Mixed the extra sauce with the leftover mayo to salt it up a bit. This might appear on ham sandwiches in the next days. For afters we had store-bought tartelettes of chocolate and pistachio; not bad.

Tuesday/5-May-15: Kind of a made-up dinner. Used one of Jody's spice mixes, this one was mole dulce, to make a sort of stewy thing with four chicken thighs, some of the xmas limas from the freezer, a small can of corn, and the rest of the chicken stock I recently defrosted. Was okay, nothing special. Made a salad with avocado and tomato that was okay. Made some tortillas, but not enough to satisfy either of us.

Wednesday/6-May-15: We're having an ant invasion. For days there have been one or two or three most anywhere you look, upstairs, downstairs, anywhere. This morning there were a zillion on the counter and wall over the dishwasher. They seem to be just milling around and after an hour or so of my squashing and washing them down the drain, they disappeared. This evening they appeared on the Ivar shelves, a bit worrisome because there is Food there. They did find the lazy susan with honey and such, but that didn't really seem to be their focus. Again after a couple of hours, they're gone. A puzzle. What will tomorrow bring?

Shopping today.

Dinner was mostly unimpressive. The main was Onion-Crusted Sole with Anchovy Butter (MoreFast, p80), using lieu noir since there was no sole and that looked better than panga or some such. I was attracted to this recipe since it uses canned fried onions, which was something Fatima (my French French cooking teacher) liked to use. They were supposed to be crumbled in the food processor, but I used the staff mixer instead. They turned rather to butter rather than crumbs. Made just a bit of the anchovy butter; it was okay. My experience with battering fish and other such stuff is that it works better to dip in flour before the egg and then the crunchy topping, so I did this. Managed to burn the topping a bit, too bad. Definitely so-so. Used up some mushrooms making a kind of quinoa pilaf that was okay, but nothing special. Improved by a squirt of lemon. The best bit was Broccoli Salad with Yellow Peppers, Pine Nuts, and Cranberries (I got this from a Nava Atlas newsletter, but found it here). Definitely a keeper this one. The Sesame-Ginger Dressing is vaguely Oriental, but not assertively so. This would be a good pot-luck salad. Very pretty with the green broccoli. yellow bell pepper, and dried cranberries. Some squares of chocolate for after.

Thursday/7-May-15: Yogurt on overday.

Off to the Caucasus for dinner, half recipes of all. There was Skewered Pork with Pomegranate Syrup (TLRus, p63). This could have been barbecued, but Ed (who's coming done with a cold) didn't want the smoke. For sides there were Rice Pilaf with Dried Fruit and Nuts (TLRus, p68) and String Beans in Sour Cream and Tomato Sauce (TLRus, p40). The pilaf has no added salt, and (surprise!) it didn't need any extra at the table. It was recommended as a side for the pork, and was a good accompaniment. Might be nice with long-grain brown rice. The beans were good, although this is a more complicated veg side than I usually serve.

Many fewer ants today, although they turn up in odd places, one in a pile of ironing to be done, another just appeared on the kitchen table as we were eating lunch.

Friday/8-May-15: We both forgot to put up the yogurt last night. This morning it was separated again, the whole batch pretty worthless. Saved my last jar to try again tonight.

Tired of being sick and coughy. Really don't feel like cooking, or doing much else.

Dinner was a half recipe of Eggs Blindfolded over Garlic-Cheddar Grits (web). Really good and satisfying, comfort-food like. Interesting way to cook the eggs, start frying them, then throw in some ice cubes and cover to finish off by poaching, sort of. Then a big clean-out-the-fridge salad.

If we saw any ants today it was just one or two. I don't get it.

Saturday/9-May-15: The ants are back, the occasional one in odd places, but a lot on the sweet shelf. I discovered a sack of powdered sugar whose ziplock wasn't completely closed. Sealed that and tossed it with ants inside. They're also interested in a jar of molasses sitting in a plastic dish. That kind of thing is always gooey on the outside, so dish and jar are being washed this evening. Those seem, knock wood, to be the only interesting things on the shelf.

Dinner was Tofu, Asparagus, and Red Pepper Stir-fry with Quinoa (web; cookbooker), tasty enough if not quite right. Then some Butterscotch Pudding (MC 2BTried), which wasn't bad.

Sunday/10-May-15: More ants today.

For breakfast, I made Ned and Crescent's Favorite Multigrain Pancakes (Gospels, p205). Really good stuff. I made a whole batch, so have another breakfast of pancakes in the freezer. Next time, maybe I should make up a double batch of the dry ingredients (using dried buttermilk), so I just have to add egg and water before cooking.

Crockpot dinner tonight, ready and waiting when we returned from Ed's choir performance. I made a half recipe of Easy Crock Pot Moroccan Chicken, Chickpea, and Apricot Tagine (web). Made it with thighs instead of kip filets. There was lots of food; it would have served 3 easily, and maybe even four as it should have. Served over whole wheat couscous, along with Roasted Carrots with Preserved Lemon, Cumin, and Cinnamon (web). Had a carrot deficit for some reason, only a quarter of the carrots with half the spices. Good, and worth trying again.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: yes; #2 UNUSED: yes; #3 GRAINS: yes; #4 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #5 PASTA: no; #6 BREAD: no; #7 FotW: no for April; no for May