Friday, December 30, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Bistecca alla Fiorentina

One more dish from Time-Life Foods of the World: The Cooking of Italy this month. Tonight's main course was Bisstecca alla Fiorentina—Broiled Marinated Steak (p69). We had this dish when we visited Lucca last year. (Yes, we had it in Lucca, not in Florence.)

This is basically a broiled chunk of beef, that's been marinated in a brew of olive oil, wine vinegar, parsley, garlic, and oregano. It should be a substantial chunk of beef, 2.5-3 pounds of T-bone, porterhouse, or sirloin steak, 1" thick, for four people. I bought two small, thickly cut chunks of beef for two people, not even a pound. Because my broiler pan got used earlier in the day and the clean-up crew hadn't yet taken care of that, I heated up a grill pan, and grilled the meat on that. Four minutes on one side and two-ish minutes on the other gave steaks not quite medium (a bit too done for me, but Ed liked it).

This is probably about as inauthentic a version of Bistecca all Fiorentina as you could get, but it tasted quite nice nevertheless.

December at Cookbook Countdown means folks can cook from books they've used during the year, or start with a new one. Why don't you choose a cookbook from your shelf and join in?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Polenta Pasticciata—Polenta with Cream and Mushrooms

More from Time-Life Foods of the World: The Cooking of Italy. Tonight's main course was Polenta Pasticciata—Polenta with Cream and Mushrooms (p22). For polenta lovers, this dish really falls in the realm of Comfort Food. The recipe is says it serves six, but it's unclear if this meant as a main dish or as a side dish. I served a half recipe as the main course for dinner, followed by a salad. We finished our portions, but thought it could have served 3 easily.

Early in the day, make the required amount of polenta and spread it in an 8" by 16" baking dish or sheet. (I used a 8" by 8" square dish for my half recipe.) Put this in fridge to set.

Make a bechamel (bescimella) sauce with butter, flour, milk, and cream. When this is thick, season with salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan. Meanwhile, sauté some sliced mushrooms. I used about half and half pleurote gris/oesterzwammen/oyster mushrooms and shiitakes.

Now cut the slab of polenta in half. The larger size would be cut in half, giving two 8" by 8" squares. I cut my 8" square on the diagonal. Put one of the pieces in a casserole dish; top with half the mushrooms, then half the bechamel. Put the remaining bit on polenta on that, add the remaining mushrooms and bechamel. Top with a bit more grated Parmesan, then bake for 375F for 25-30 minutes. Cut into pieces are serve at once. Yum, a very pleasing dish. Even though it was very good, we thought it might be quite nice with some lardons (or chopped bacon, perhaps) sautéed with the mushrooms.

December at Cookbook Countdown means folks can cook from books they've used during the year, or start with a new one. Why don't you choose a cookbook from your shelf and join in?

Monday, December 26, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Scaloppine al Marsala&Pere Ripene

More from Time-Life Foods of the World: The Cooking of Italy. Tonight's main course included Scallopine al Marsala—Sautéed Veal Scallops with Marsala Sauce (p65) and the Broccoli alla Romana—Broccoli Braised with White Wine (p35) that I've made before. For dessert, there were Pere Ripiene—Pears Stuffed with Gorgonzola Cheese (p89).

Veal Marsala is a classic dish and quite simple to make. The scallops are salt-and-peppered, dredged in flour then sautéed briefly in a mix of butter and olive oil. When they are brown, they're put aside; the fat is drained from the pan, which is then deglazed with dry marsala and chicken stock. The scallops are returned to the pan, then simmered in the sauce over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Put the scallops on hot plates or a platter, then boil the remaining sauce down until it's syrupy. Finish off with some soft butter, pour over the scallops, and serve. We don't have veal often, and this is a a favorite sort of way to do it.

The Gorgonzola Pears were good, but not a big hit. I really think I'd rather have slices of the fresh fruit with a chunk of cheese on the plate. For this dish, you peel the pears, then half them, hollow them out, and rub with lemon juice inside and out. (You are instructed to leave the stem on one of the halves, but one of my pears was a bit soft on the end, so I decapitated both of them.) The filling is a  mixture of Gorgonzola and butter. Stuff that in the hollows, put the halves back together, then roll in crushed walnuts (or pistachios or pine nuts). Chill, then serve.

December at Cookbook Countdown means folks can cook from books they've used during the year, or start with a new one. Why don't you choose a cookbook from your shelf and join in?

This week in the kitchen

Monday/26-Dec-16: Picked the leftover chicken, then froze the bones and the meat.

Didn't really feel like a fancy meal today, but we had one anyway. For a starter there was the terrine de pigenneau (squab) that we got at the marché de noël. Put a bit of arugula on the plate, topped with a vinaigrette, then some dried cranberries and walnut pieces. This was all very good. The main was veal marsala, broccoli alla romana, and the last of some nettle pasta I bought at a marché gourmand. Dessert was pears with gorgonzola. All tasted good.

Tuesday/27-Dec-16: Early dinner with a mix of leftovers. Shepherd's pie, the cauliflower curry, and a dab of orzo. The shepherd's pie held up quite well. And a slice of raspberry bûche to end it all.

Wednesday/28-Dec-16: Shopping today. Still disliking new Leclerc arrangement/design. Such a mess.

Dinner was unexpectedly good. I made a halfish recipes of Down by the Sea (Wraps, p61). The filling was lots of onions, softened in olive oil, then simmered with lemon juice, champagne vinegar (not—regular white wine vinegar did the job), and dried tarragon. This is mixed with chunks of grilled swordfish, chopped arugula, and chopped black olives. Wrapped in lavash tonight because there were some to use up. Very yummy.

Thursday/29-Dec-16: Dinner was a kind of polenta lasagna from Time-Life. Very delicious. Served with a salad. That was enough.

Friday/30-Dec-16: In the afternoon, I roasted some eggplants to use tomorrow.

Friends invited us for apèros this afternoon, so we had are rather small dinner. There was an Italian steak accompanied by some peas with shallots and some crozets mixed garlic butter-olive oil. That was all.

Saturday/31-Dec-16: Spend most of the day in the kitchen today.
  • Started yogurt, thinking I might use much of what's in the fridge to make tzatziki (but didn't in the end).
  • Used the roasted eggplants to make Baba Ghanoush (WofE, p334) for serving with veggies this evening.
  • Started the rabbit dish for tomorrow's meal. Left it in nature's refrigerator overnight.
  • For lunch, sautéed some onion, garlic, and leftover shiitakes, plopped this on slices of bread, topped with some blue cheese, and toasted to melt the cheese. Yum.
  • Stuffed two mini peppers in the fridge with a little filling of cream cheese, chives, onion flakes, black pepper.
Dinner was a half recipe of Scallop Sauce with Olive Oil, Garlic, and Hot Pepper (ClassicItal, p185). I've made this before on new year's eve. It's good. Then a salad. 

For our late-night munchies with had the baba ghanoush with carrots, cukes, and radishes, along with the stuffed mini pepper. Looked like a lot, but we ate all of the veggies; didn't quite finish the dip.

Sunday/1-Jan-16: Dinner was delicious. Rabbit Ragu with Pappardelle (Essential, p352). Made a full recipe and froze about half. Served over some wide tagliatelle, home-made!, but not wide enough to call it pappardelle. Then a salad. That was all

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #3 PASTA: no for December; yes for January; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: yes for November/December

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas dinner 2016

Terrine de Saumon Fumé à Avocat Crème

Grilled Filet Mignon de Daim
Haricots Verts in Walnut Oil
Mushroom and Pea Orzo Risotto

ChantetBlanet St Emilion 2014

Raspberry Bûche de Noël

Not the cheeriest of holiday seasons, of course, but any excuse for a nice meal. Ed gathered green things from the neighborhood for the flower arrangement. (Look, he found holly berries. When I looked on Wednesday, I went to the bottom of our property and turned right. None to be found. He turned left, and there they were. Oh well.)

Smoked salmon is very much a French tradition for the holiday season. With nothing particular in mind, I found a package of two slices of smoked wild salmon. I lined two little dishes with the salmon, then made a filling of avocado, cream cheese, crème fraîche, dried dill (being too lazy to chop the stuff in the freezer), and frozen chives (potted chives being much past their prime). Chilled those overnight. Served with some avocado slices. Very tasty.

Originally I intended to do a Time-Life Italian dish for our main course, but at the marché de Noël last weekend, we found some filet mignon de daim (fallow deer). This corresponds to the filet mignon de porc (varkenshaas in Dutch, pork loin in English?). I marinated this for a couple of hours in my usual, easy meat marinade, and wrapped the pieces in bacon slices before cooking on a hot cast iron skillet after reading in Larousse that the filet mignon should be larded. Very tender and very tasty. Served with Haricots Verts in Walnut Oil (Lunch, p216), which I've made many times. And then there was, loosely, a half recipe of Mushroom and Pea Orzo Risotto (web), made with shiitakes rather than white button mushroom and chicken stock rather than vegetable broth. Also good.

For dessert there was Raspberry Bûche de Noël (web). This was very tasty, but not the easier jelly-roll sort of thing to make. There seemed to be not quite enough cake batter and it was quite fussy with the spreading. Tasty enough, but not pretty. The filling (fromage blanc and marscapone) was scrumptious. The whole thing was very good, if not very pretty.

Altogether a nice dinner.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Riso al Limone & Broccoli alla Romana

This month and year, I'm finishing off my three-year project of reading and cooking from the Time-Life Foods of the World series. The last book is Time-Life Foods of the World: The Cooking of Italy. Several dishes are on the plan for the rest of this month.

Tonight I roasted a chicken. For sides, I made half recipes of Riso al Limone (p20) and Broccoli alla Romana (p35). Both of these were fairly easy, tasty, and likely to be made again.

For the Riso al Limone, you start by boiling arborio rice (or one of its relatives) in ample water. The book asks for six quarts of water for one cup of rice. When the rice is done, after about 15 minutes, drain it. Then melt butter in a flameproof casserole. (I used the same pan I cooked the rice in and served in a warmed bowl). Stir in the rice, then stir in beaten eggs that have been mixed with grated Parmesan and lemon juice. (The recipe asked three eggs for the whole recipe; I used one egg for my half recipe. It was plenty rich.) Cook this for several minutes, then serve while the rice is still creamy. Very nice.

This book asks for "imported Italian rice" for all the rice recipes. This is perfect for risottos and such, but I'm not really sure if it's needed for this dish. I'll try it with long-grain rice next time. It might even be good with brown rice.

The Broccoli all Romana was also very good. You start by infusing some olive oil with finely chopped garlic. Add broccoli florets and stir to coat till they're glistening. Add white wine, salt, and some freshly ground black pepper. Cooking this uncovered for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Then cover and simmer for another 15 minutes until the broccoli is tender. Remove the broccoli to a bowl or platter. Boil down the liquid if there's too much, then pour it over the broccoli.

December at Cookbook Countdown means folks can cook from books they've used during the year, or start with a new one. Why don't you choose a cookbook from your shelf and join in?

Monday, December 19, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/19-Dec-16: Christmas this week, feeling distinctly unholidayish. The situation in the US is sad beyond comprehension.

Dinner was a halfish recipe of Curried Cauliflower Soup (web). Distinctly boring, helped by a liberal application of sriracha. Glad I didn't make a whole recipe. Now I have a half of a cauliflower to do something with.

Tuesday/20-Dec-16: Finally getting onto the Time-Life Cooking of Italy book tonight. For the main, I very vaguely followed Ruhlman's Perfect Roasted Chicken (Twenty, p249). Instead of roasting it whole, I spatchcocked the bird, browned it skin-side down, then lined the cast iron pan with thick slices of onion and lemon, plopped the chickie skin-side up on those, and weighted it with another cast iron pan. Tasty birdie. There were Italian rice and broccoli for sides, both good.

Wednesday/21-Dec-16: Shopping today. Wanted chicken livers for our tweede kerstdag meal. None to be found. Leclerc's philosophy seems to be that you can have any two of livers, hearts, or gizzards. Today, livers were on the out. But there were lots of turkeys, those making frequent appearances at French xmas dinners.

We had a solstice dinner with friends tonight. We took the cheese platter. Nothing happened in the kitchen.

Thursday/22-Dec-16: Ed asked for a salad for dinner, so I made the one I'd planned for the night before xmas. That was Avocat au Magret Fumé (VPG), sort of. Basically a regular sort of salad with slices of magret and avocado. Good. Then we ate much of the cheese we brought home.

Yogurt on overnight.

Friday/23-Dec-16: Used the smashed potatoes leftover from last Sunday to make some Shepherd's Pie loosely based on Alton Brown's recipe (web) and using ground beef rather than ground lamb. Pretty good it was. Some mini magnums for after.

Saturday/24-Dec-16: Busy today, but little accomplished. I didn't get as much done for tomorrow's dinner as I meant to. Oh well. Discovered I'd neglected to get fromage blanc for the bûche, so made a dash to Spar for that. Made up some little smoked salmon terrine thingies, lined with salmon, filled with cream cheese, avocado, dill, and chives. Just recall that I meant to put a dab of crème fraîche in there, but that didn't happen. Also made up some English Muffin Bread (BigGerman, p15) in the bread machine. The machine had a hard time getting going, but got the job done in the end. Of course, I realized later that I meant to make the Authentic French Bread from the same book. Might do some of that tomorrow.

Used up the cauliflower to make Cauliflower, Red Lentil, and Potato Curry (web). Served over rice. It was ok, but nothing special.

Sunday/25-Dec-16: Our Christmas meal got its own post.

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

Monday, December 12, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/12-Dec-16: Oops, neglected to notice that tonight's main course needed to marinate a while. So tonight's dinner was tomorrow's plan. That was Broccoli, White Bean, and Cheddar Soup, one that I got from EAT-L quite a while ago. For starters, I used some of my frozen artichoke bottoms, topped with a green tapenade and little goat cheese, under the grill. Good stuff. Then the soup, which was easy, a bit thick and good with a slog of hot sauce. Then some bits of tourteau fromagé that I got on sale last week. Rest of soup into the freezer.

Tuesday/13-Dec-16: Dinner was very tasty. The main was a halfish recipe of Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma (web), made with skinless, but not boneless, thighs. Cooked them atop thick slices of red onion, rather than quarters. Really tasty. Served with couscous, rehydrated in chicken stock and topped with the roasted onion slices. I made a salad very loosely based on Shalada Braniya (Moroccan Eggplant Salad) (web). I cut the eggplant into fingers, tossed with a tiny bit of oil and a Moroccan spice mix, then broiled. Unfortunately, I let the second side go a bit too long, so had to cut off some burnt bits. But it was tasty. No dessert for me, since I had lunch out today. A mini Magnum for Ed.

Wednesday/14-Dec-16: Rushed this morning to finish the meal plan and list, then shopping today.

Used the last of the Thanksgiving cranberries to make some Quick and Easy Cranberry Jam (web). We'll see how this tomorrow.

Dinner was Tamarind Fish (web). This was pretty good, although the tamarind taste was pretty muted. I wonder if it should be 1 tablespoon, rather than 1 teaspoon? Made a lot. As recommended, served with Bok Choy in Coconut Milk (web). What I had was chard rather than bok choy, but they're the same family and look rather alike, so I made do, bok choy not being often found at Leclerc. This was a really good taste combination. The two dishes together were more than we could eat. Store-bought desserts, chestnut pudding.

Yogurt on overnight.

Thursday/15-Dec-16: Dinner was Saag Chicken (web), which was good enough considering how easy it was. Served over rice. I finished the last of my Lime Pickle. Now I can get one out of the freezer to see if that helped soften the rind. Served over rice. For dessert, thee was Caramelized Cardamom Apples with Pistachio Cream (Q&E, p122). Good stuff.

Friday/16-Dec-16: Had a Groupon meal for lunch today. Indian it was. That makes three Indian dinners in a row. Good thing we Indian food.

Popcorn and a movie for dinner.

Saturday/17-Dec-16: Pizza after Ed's choir concert this evening. Nothing much happened in the kitchen today.

Sunday/18-Dec-16: Went to the Chassenon foire de noël today. Got a slice of a terrine of pigeanneau (squab, or baby pigeon) for a starter for our xmas dinner. Bought some filet mignons of daim (fallow deer), thinking about tweede kerstdag, but Ed wants that for xmas. Plan change. Actually, having a bit of a time getting inspired for cooking from the Time-Life Italian book, which I expected would be a really good one.

Lazy dinner. Beef slices in onion sauce from the freezer. Served with a whole lot of smashed potatoes, using up what was in the potato drawer, and some steamed broccoli.

Yogurt on overnight.
Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 2
This month: #3 PASTA: no; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: no for November/December

Monday, December 5, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/5-Dec-16: Dinner was Pasta with Sardines (Everlasting, p185), which was easy and wasn't bad at all, considering I'm not overly fond of the strong taste of sardines. Then a salad. And we had mini magnums for dessert, Ed a classic, me a white.

Tuesday/6-Dec-16: Off to the vet this a.m. for Oscar's shots. Blood tests revealed failing kidneys (not unusual in 9yo). We have medicine and special food for him now.

For dinner, I turned the turkey chili sort of thing I made last week into a tamale pie, adding chopped black olive to the chili and using the cornmeal mush part from Tamale Pie (OldLaurel, p299). Served with a salad of avocado, tomato, shallot, lime juice, and cilantro. Pretty good, and especially good on the tamale pie. No dessert needed.

Wednesday/7-Dec-16: Shopping today, really late.

Dinner was Roasted Salmon with Thyme and Honey-Mustard Glaze (web). Pretty good even though I forgot and used plain Dijon mustard rather than "country Dijon", which I'm sure would have been better. The recipe calls for the fish to be cooked at 450F for 26 minutes? Twenty-six? That's more than twice too long. Yuck. Served with some boiled potatoes (rattes) and Pan-Grilled Zucchini (MJ@Home, p173), which I did under the broiler, with the rack in the lower position. Go the timing exactly right, not that I noted the time, but they were perfect. Some store-bought "rice cakes with caramel" for dessert. Yum.

Yogurt on overnight.

Thursday/8-Dec-16: Small chats with Sydney and Jody today. Leftover tamale pie for dinner, along with salad of avaocao, tomato, shallot, lime juice, cilantro, etc. No dessert needed.

Friday/9-Dec-16: Quick dinner tonight, but tasty: One Pot Parmesan Pasta (web). The pasta was kind of cooked risotto-style, with liquid being added by the ladleful along the way. A neat idea, but the cooking time for the pasta is way off; mine was ready about 12-13 minutes, where the recipe ask 18-20! Could add mushrooms, or other veggies to the mix. Served with a salad. A square of chocolate for after.

Saturday/10-Dec-16: We had our main meal early today, so we could go to a movie. We had Butternut Squash Tarte Tatin (web), which was pretty good, but I'm not sure what was gained by turning it upside down so the pastry was on the bottom when it was served. I've put the leftovers in pastry-side up. Then a big salad. I rolled out the extra pastry and lined a small tart dish. Then made a filling of a chopped up apple, some cinnamon and cardamon and a spoonful of brown sugar. Served with a dollop of crème fraîche. Not bad at all.

Sunday/11-Dec-16: Went to a couple of xmas markets today. Didn't buy anything. Lot of nice Stuff to buy, but we don't need any more Stuff. I'm trying to get rid of it!

Dinner was Pastasotto et Se Boulettes de Boeuf à la Moutarde Amora (VPG, web). Except this originally came from an Amora mustard ad, but I got it from VPG. Sh, don't tell, I used Maille Dijon instead of Amora. By sheer coincidence, this is the second pasta-cooked-in-a-risotto-fashion meal I've made this week. Pretty good, except that salt was nowhere an ingredient and it was needed. (I don't add salt to my chicken stock.) The meatballs were especially. Mustard, herbes de Provence, dried parsley flakes, one egg, and some chapelure (bread crumbs). (It was supposed to be two egg yolks, but I didn't want to deal with yet more extra whites, so I used a whole egg. Worked fine.)

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 4
This month: #3 PASTA: no; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: no for November/December

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Turkey Hash and Lacy-Edged Batty Cakes

Thanksgiving has passed and company has gone home. Time for one more meal from Time-Life Foods of the World American Cooking: Southern Style. We had Turkey Hash  (p14) with Lacy-Edged Batty Cakes (p14). These apparently go together to make a traditional Kentucky Derby breakfast.

I made half recipes of the hash and the batty cakes. The hash says it serves 6. The half recipe easily served two for dinner; three might have been a stretch unless accompanied by a big salad or some such.

To make the turkey hash, first sauté some onion and green bell pepper. When those are soft, add some sliced mushrooms; I used shiitakes, since that's what I had in the fridge. When the liquid from the shrooms has evaporated, stir in some flour, then some stock. (I used chicken stock from the freezer, since I haven't made my turkey stock yet.) When the stock boils and thickens slightly, stir in some turkey meat (I picked a selection of light and dark meat from my turkey carcass), chopped parsley, Worcestershire sauce, and salt. If it seems too dry, you can stir in spoonfuls of cream, but I didn't think this was necessary. Nothing fancy here, but plain good food.

The batty cakes are cornmeal pancakes. I can't say these were really successful, but they were certainly good enough to to serve as a base for the hash.

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their November cookbook. Why don't you choose a cookbook from your shelf and join in?

This week in the kitchen

Monday/28-Nov-16: Cut some meat off the turkey for tonight's turkey hash, and for Thanksgiving Round 3 that we'll have on Wednesday. Cooked up the extra Sweet Potato-Carrot Puff to serve with the hash. That was all.

Tuesday/29-Nov-16: Shopping today.

Dinner was Papillote de Cabillaud au Curry et Citron (VPG, web). That's paper-wrapped cod with curry and lemon. So-so. The cod was laid on a bed of thin lemon slices, which were nasty to eat. Preserved lemon would have been better. The combination of curry powder, aniseseed, and coriander seed was nice, though. Served with trio rice and some steamed green bean. Some yummy store-bought chocolate custards for dessert.

Wednesday/30-Nov-16: Picked the turkey and started stock. Froze up three batches of turkey meat. Saved the juicey bits at the bottom of the pan to make more gravy for Thanksgiving Round 3 dinner tonight.

Thursday/1-Dec-16: Boiled up the stock again. Used some for dinner. Will boil again and freeze it up tomorrow.

Used the leftover bit of canned pumpkin purée to make Sharon Frye's Pumpkin Roll (MC). This always looks like you've done something special when it's actually quite easy. And tasty too.

A clean-out-the-freezer dinner using lots of odds and ends: beans, turkey, etc. Made a kind of chili thing. It was okay. Will try to do something to spice it up for the leftovers. Made Ed some Cornbread (Joy, p578) as a go-with.

Friday/2-Dec-16: We ate dinner out before a concert tonight, so not much happened in the kitchen. If I'd thought, we could have had our main meal earlier and not wasted eating out at a so-so, but convenient place.

Yogurt on overnight.

Saturday/3-Dec-16: Froze up 17cups of turkey stock this afternoon.

Dinner was, sort of, Cilantro-Lime Shrimp Pasta (web) using frozen cooked shrimp. Pretty good it was. And a salad.

Sunday/4-Dec-16: Put lamb steaks on to marinate this morning, using the Best Steak Marinade in Existence (web). Grilled the steaks. They were exceptionally yummy. Served with Lemon Parmesan Crusted Brussels Sprouts (web). This was good, but used three bowls to make something not better than my usual way of roasting them. And then some mushroom-flavored pasta with garlic butter.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 2
This month: #3 PASTA: no; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: no for November/December

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

relish tray
Kaye's Pickled Green Beans
Spiced Marinated Mushrooms
carrot sticks
mixed olives

Marinated Roasted Brussels Sprouts 
with Rucola

Roast Turkey
Sweet Potato-Carrot Puff
Chef Paul Prudhomme's Cornbread Dressing
Cranberry-Port Relish
sliced baguettes


Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

Another fairly light Thanksgiving  this year. For guests, we had Tina and Albia from Ed's Montbron choir, and Bill, who's visiting. Bill asked for a proper turkey, so that's what we had. I neglected to take any photos of the food, but here is Ed carving the turkey.

For the relish tray, I made with my Pickled Green Beans (MC) and Spiced Marinated Mushrooms (MC). Served with with carrot sticks and store-bought mixed olives.

For a starter there was Marinated Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Rucola. I used the marinade as the vinaigrette for the rucola. This is really two recipes smerged together. If I can ever run Mastercook again (hoping a new motherboard for the Cube someday lets it start up), I'll enter what I do as a single recipe. This is becoming another standard.

As go-withs there were my old standards, Sweet Potato-Carrot Puff (MC) and Chef Paul Prudhomme's Cornbread Dressing (MC). A double-dose of the puff overfilled my oval casserole, so we have a bit extra of that, still to be cooked. I used a 300g package of gesiers/gizzards for the dressing.

And, of course, there again was Cranberry-Port Relish (MC), a recipe that came from VT originally, but I've reduced the sugar. It's a really tasty and simple-to-make cranberry sauce. So much better than the canned stuff. All eaten but a spoonful, the first time that's happened. And some pretty good gravy made with chicken stock.

For bread there was a sliced baguette, but not much of that got eaten.

The five of us had two bottles of Beaujolais, one Brouilly and the other Fleurie, both 2012. In the past we've liked Fleurie, but tonight the Brouilly was the hit.

And, finally, there was some Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake (web), which was a Thanksgiving first, and delicious.

Monday, November 21, 2016

This week in the ktichen

Monday/21-Nov-16: Lunch out today. Fruit for dinner.

Started some chicken stock. Made cornbread. Put chicken on to dry-brine for tomorrow.

Tuesday/22-Nov-16: Stopping today. Still a mess at Leclerc. Where is stuff? Ed and I both picked up packaged veggies, not seeing the loose kind. Then he spied what he was after on another aisle, and there was mine too. Loose (vrac) and packaged versions of the same veggie not together. Still haven't found the little section that used to be at the end of the flours that had yeast and baking powder and other such baking needs, all hung in small packets. And nine things on my list were not present. Maybe the first time I've ever noticed that there were no limes at all to be had. They haven't had the feta I like for at least two weeks, maybe three. Very annoying experience. Definitely considering moving primary shopping elsewhere

Froze up the stock.

Dinner was, sort of, Cajun Dry-Brined Roast Chicken Inspired by Zuni Café (web). I used the rub, but spatchcocked the chicken and cooked in a cast iron skillet, pressed in the oven. Quite yummy it was, and the three of us ate it all.

The method is basically this: Apply rub/seasoning to spatchcocked chicken and let it rest in the fridge overnight. Oven to 400F. Add a bit of oil to hot skillet and brown the chicken for 5 minutes, skin-side down. Turn the chicken over and top with another heavy skillet. Into the oven for 40-45minutes. Perfect.

Served with polenta and Baked Eggplant Slices (TooMany, p114), which wasn't as good as usual. I suspect something to do with the mayonnaise I used, Maille, which was the first non-canola/rapeseed oil mayo I found. (I've got another from a health food store.)

Bill had an ice cream bar for dessert. Ed and I had nothing.

Wednesday/23-Nov-16: Lots of Thanksgiving cooking today.

Used up the rest of the lamb for dinner to make Lamb in Spiced Gravy (30MinCook, p179). Yummy, served over rice. Vanilla ice cream with crème de cacao for dessert.

Thursday/24-Nov-16: Bill requested a proper roast turkey for Thanksgiving, so that's what we had. I asked the butcher for 4kg; came home with 5.2kg. When I went to pick it up this morning, the butcher asked if I wanted him to truss it. I said Well, ok. He took a ginormous needle threaded with string and ran it through the turkey side to side, through one wing, the body, and out on the other side, then back and tied off.

Then he tucked the “ankles” together, went through one drumstick and out the other, then back.

Not any kind of bird trussing I’ve ever seen, but very sturdy.

Planned on cooking the turkey in the right oven, but it wouldn't get up to temperature. We were about an hour late for dinner, after I finally realized it wasn't heating and then got the left one heated up. Now I'm thinking that's why the cheesecake took so long to cook last night, that the oven was never quite hot enough. Started the puff and the dressing in the right oven, but moved them to the left one when I took the turkey out. All came out okay in the end, just late.

Friday/25-Nov-16: Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner. We've finished half the turkey now. The cranberry sauce was pretty well wiped out, so I made another dose of Cranberry-Port Relish (MC).

Put a pork loin on to brine for tomorrow's dinner.

Saturday/26-Nov-16: We hit a couple of marchés de noël today, and came away with some xmas gifts—in support of a worthwhile charity, even better.

For dinner there was Chile-Brined Roasted Pork Loin (web), which turned out quite good. Served with some steam/sautéed potatoes and canned corn (there being no corn on the cob at the grocery this afternoon). Finished off the pumpkin swirl cheesecake for dessert.

Yogurt on overnight.

Sunday/27-Nov-16: Lunch with Bill before the train. Nothing further happened in the kitchen.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 0
This month: #3 PASTA: no; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: no for November/December

Monday, November 14, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/14-Nov-16: Dinner was One-Pot Chicken with Orzo and Dill (web). (That isn't the recipe I followed, which was sized for two, but it's the same one sized for one; I can't find the one I used and no URL on the printout.) Instead of using skinless, boneless chicken thighs, I used a 200g packet of chicken "oysters" that I bought last week. It was good, and so easy. Then a salad. Some chocolate squares for after.

Tuesday/15-Nov-16: Lunch out for Ed's birthday today; nothing happened in the kitchen. After lunch we did a bunch of errands. Stopped by Audilab to have my malfunctioning hearing aid fixed. Went by the jeweler to pick up Ed's ring; the guy had fixed the break but reassembled the pieces incorrectly so it couldn't be put together. Did our grocery shopping. Stopped by the vet to pick up worming pills for the cats. Stopped by the butcher's to order our Thanksgiving turkey. Whew. Put all the groceries up.

Wednesday/16-Nov-16: Thought about thanksgiving meal today. Think it's mostly going to be a boring same-old. same-old menu.

Make Cranberry-Port Relish (MC) and Kaye's Pickled Green Beans (MC) for the day.

Dinner was Feta and Herb Crusted Salmon (web), which turned out to be really easy and tasty. Accompanied by some buckwheat crozets and Simple Oven-Rosated Corn on the Cob (web). Turned out to be a pretty good way to cook corn on the cob.

Thursday/17-Nov-16: Defrosted the big freezer today. Found a missing chicken, and found lots of things I'd neglected to mark off the freezer list. And then OpenOffice got in one of its "moods" and refused to save the file. Grr... This is a problem that's been on-going in multiple versions for more than five years and it's still not fixed. Major pain. Maybe it's time to invest in Microsoft Office???

Dinner was Greek Pasta (Desperation, p162; cookbooker). The recipe says it serves four, maybe as a side; two of us ate more-or-less the whole thing. Good stuff. That was all.

Friday/18-Nov-16: Dinner was, sort of, Beef Kofta (web). Didn't have any Penzey's Turkish Seasoning, so google and I made something up. Good, although the cooking time was a bit off. It said 15-20 minutes under the grill; after 15 minutes, the tops with closer to charcoal than we like. Served with some pita breads and a little sauce made of yogurt, minced garlic, and salt; also Herby Cucumber Salad (CL/jun12; web). Pretty good salad. No dessert needed.

Saturday/19-Nov-16: More cleaning today. And flu shot. Roasted the beet I bought on Tuesday.

Dinner was some pumpkin soup from the freezer.

Sunday/20-Nov-16: Ed went to a mens' only choir practice today, then I picked Bill up at the train station. Came home and started Nigel Slater's Slow-Roast Lamb (Diaries, p62); such a nice, easy recipe. Went off to pick Ed up and have a cup of tea at Cath and Doug's. As go-withs, we had Clothilde Dusoulier's Perfect Roasted Potatoes (web, although this is new and I've been using this recipe for years), which we really good, and used the beet I roasted yesterday to make Cold Beetroot with Cream (Pomiane, p180), always good. For dessert we had some chocolate-raspberry tarts from the boulanger; the filling was yummy, the pastry less so.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #3 PASTA: no; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: yes for October/November, no for November/December

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Shrimp Pilau

It was dinner from Time-Life Foods of the World American Cooking: Southern Style once again tonight. We had Shrimp Pilau (p29). Can't say I ever thought of this kind of dish as especially southern, but here it is.

Instead of fresh or canned tomatoes, I used some of the "purée" that I froze up from our summer crop. And I used lardons, which is easily available in France and always in the freezer, for the bacon bits. The lardons yielded only about a teaspoon of fat (European pigs seem to be much leaner than US ones), so I added another bit of olive oil before sautéing a pile of chopped onions. When the onions were soft, I added the rice, already rinsed, and stirred till it was well-coated with the oil. Then I added chicken stock (also from the freezer), along with Worcestershire sauce (the real one, carefully measured), ground mace, cayenne, and salt. (I added somewhat less salt than asked, and we found it it fine at the table. This is a bit surprising since I don't salt my chicken stock when I make it. So the recipe might be a bit salty.) This mixture is brought to a boil, then covered and baked at 350F for 30 minutes. Then the shrimp and bacon bits are stirred, covered, and baked another ten minutes. Out of the oven, the pot sits another ten minutes. Serve, sprinkled with chopped parsley, and enjoy!

The recipe says it should serve 4-6. I made a half recipe and we have at least one more full serving leftover, or maybe two smaller servings for lunch.

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their November cookbook. Why don't you choose a cookbook from your shelf and join in?

Monday, November 7, 2016

This week in the ktichen

Monday/7-Nov-16: Tonight we had Chicken Thighs in Cream Sauce (web), which was pretty good, although there was too much liquid; I thickened the sauce with a bit of potato starch. Served with steamed broccoli.

Realized I didn't have a dinner planned for tomorrow evening. Oops. Have defrosted something.

Tuesday/8-Nov-16: Tonight there was leftover Acquacotta from the freezer, with an egg each poached in the simmering soup. It was good. And filling.

Wednesday/9-Nov-16: Pizza out after Ed's choir concert today. Nothing happened in the kitchen.

Thursday/10-Nov-16: Ed went to choir practice today, and I went shopping. Not all that much to get since we're eating out a lot in the next days. Although not tomorrow, since that date has been postponed.

Dinner was Judy Heuman's Indian Fried Fish, collected from Facebook. We had cod, coated with a mixture of besan (gram flour) and garlic black pepper. groun cumin, turmeric, salt, water, and oil. Not the prettiest dish ever (most of the batter fell off), but tasty. Served with plain basmati rice and Pan-Grilled Zucchini (MJ@Home, p373). For dessert we had some store-boughten flan. Yum.

Friday/11-Nov-16: Remembrance day in France. We went to our local ceremony, only to discover they held it earlier than usual so that many people could go to the ceremony in Montbron. After having our celebratory hot chocolate, we went on to Montbron, to find that ceremony was already finished. They unveiled a new monument for victims of the Indochinese and North African wars.

Our lunch with friends today got cancelled, so I made Barley Risotto with Mushroom, Zucchini and Peas (web). This was supposed to serve four; two of us ate it all. Might serve three. I made a salad, but we were full of risotto; saved it for tomorrow. Some fruit in the evening.

Saturday/12-Nov-16: Dinner tonight was a shrimp pilau from Time-Life. (The shrimp were supposed to be wild, but almost all of them had eaten a substantial meal before they were killed. I've never seen so much stomach goo.) Yesterday's salad was still good.

Sunday/13-Nov-16: Had lunch out today. No need for further food.

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

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Maryland Fried Chicken with Cream Gravy

Another dinner from Time-Life Foods of the World American Cooking: Southern Style. Tonight we continued the Southern fried food tradition with Maryland Fried Chicken with Cream Gravy (p38).

Poor Ed, who really loves fried chicken, has lived with me for more than forty years and never had good fried chicken at home. I've never been able to make it properly. Until tonight. I think in the past I've been afraid of using so much oil, and probably I didn't wait until it was good and hot before slipping the chicken bits in. But here it is, simple as can be. About an inch of oil, almost at the smoke point, chicken thighs dried, salted, and peppered, then dipped in flour and slipped skin-side-down into the hot oil. The recipe says to cook them for about 12 minutes, turning frequently; I thought it took a bit longer for them to get nicely golden. 

As you get the pieces cooked, put them on a paper-towel lines plate and into a very low oven to stay warm while you make the cream gravy. Sorry, I served the gravy over mashed potatoes, not over the chicken.

My mother and her mother before always made fried chicken with cream gravy. They did not come from Maryland. How did this tradition end up in Kansas, I wonder?

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their November cookbook. Why don't you choose a cookbook from your shelf and join in?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Crab Cakes

Another dinner from Time-Life Foods of the World American Cooking: Southern Style tonight. We had Crab Cakes (p35), with Tartar Sauce (p77), which is based on Mrs. Marston's Sauce Mahonaise (p75).

Crab cakes. My step-mother's sister (my step-aunt?) makes wonderful Maryland crab cakes. When we've visited, one of the highlights is helping to pick over the crab before she makes them. My Time-Life crab cakes were good, but not in the same category of good.

The crab cakes are made with mayo (I used yogurt), dry mustard, cayenne, Tabasco, salt , ground white pepper, chopped parsley, and crumbs. I used canned crabmeat since I haven't found packages of fresh meat like you can get in the US. I made little cakes, ending up with only seven instead of the projected eight. They were quite small, so maybe I didn't have enough crabmeat. These are chilled, then deep-fried in 3" of oil. (I had only about 1", but it seemed to work fine.)

The recipe suggests serving with Tartar Sauce. Before I could make that I needed to make Mrs. Marston's Sauce Mahonaise. If I'd had any mayo in house, I could have used that, but I've recently discovered that all the store-bought mayos which are easily available are based on canola oil (aka rapeseed oil). I've never been a big mayo fan, but have noticed lately that I like it even less. Even Hellman's tastes off to me. Canola oil is taking over. While we were visiting in the Netherlands I found sound Hellman's Olive Oil Mayo, but even that has canola oil as the first ingredient. Next time I'm at a health food store, I'll look for some without canola oil, but meanwhile we are mayo-less. Thus, Mrs. Marston's. Which started out quite well, turning into a very thick mayo. But I have trouble with the drop-by-drop addition of oil and it soon turned too thin and separated. So, as advised, I started with a new yolk and then added my separated mess. Same problem. When I had enough volume for the tartar sauce, I stopped making "mayo" and made the sauce. It then held together pretty well, and was very tasty. Unfortunately, I forgot to put a dollop on the plates for the pictures.

This tartar sauce wanted tarragon vinegar (which I thought I had, but didn't, so added white wine vinegar plus a pinch of tarragon leaves), dry mustard, cayenne, salt, chopped cornichons, chopped shallot, chopped chives, chopped parsley, and chopped capers, all mixed with the mayo. A very good tartar sauce.

Mrs. Marston's Sauce Mahonaise includes the yolk of a hard-boiled egg as well as raw egg yolks, plus dry mustard, a pinch of cayenne, and lemon juice or vinegar. One day I'll be able to make mayonnaise consistently, but this wasn't the day. The home-made stuff is so much better than anything out of a jar.

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their November cookbook. Why don't you choose a cookbook from your shelf and join in?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Hominy Grits Soufflé

This month I'm back to my cookbook series project. I'll be cooking from Time-Life Foods of the World American Cooking: Southern Style. This book was a really enjoyable read and I've marked lots of recipes to try. The author, Eugene Walter, was a born Southerner, who seems to have alway been food-aware. He returned to the US from his home in Italy, to make a food tour of the Southern states.

Breakfast-for-dinner, that's a thing, right? Tonight we had Hominy Grits Soufflé (p13). I've never had this before, and loved it. The corny taste of the grits and their gritty texture against the smooth of the soufflé really appealed to me. On the other hand, my DH thought the dish was blah, and gave it some zip with Tabasco.

As soufflés go, this one was pretty easy to make. First you cook up some grits. When these are done, you beat in some butter (I think I omitted this), bacon fat, egg yolks, and some freshly ground black pepper. Then you whip the corresponding egg whites till they form stiff peaks, fold them into the grits mixture, and tump the mixture into a casserole. (A bit of Southern-speak there.) Top with some bread crumbs and bake at 350F for 45 minutes.  Coming out of the oven, it was a proper puffy soufflé, then promptly collapsed in the middle as they do.

The recipe said it served four to six. We ate the whole recipe with a salad as dinner for two. I expect it would make a nice breakfast dish for four. (Six would be a stretch.)

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their November cookbook. Why don't you choose a cookbook from your shelf and join in?

Monday, October 31, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/31-Oct-16: Homemade yogurt for breakfast today. Happy face!

Used leftovers from the other night to make Warm Broccoli and Potato Salad (MDSalads, p15) for lunch. There was enough of it we didn't feel like eating dinner. I planned to make a meal from the current Time-Life book, but didn't feel like doing anything further. Replan necessary.

Made some Herb Salt (Art, p172).

Tuesday/1-Nov-16: Lunch out today. Nothing happened in the kitchen.

Wednesday/2-Nov-16: Because we were out most of yesterday, I didn't get the meal plan and list made for shopping today. Instead, I made the Time-Life meal that I originally planned for Monday. Then we went off to a movie.

Thursday/3-Nov-16: Since Ed's choir practice would run long today and he had errands to run afterwards, we decided to postpone shopping till tomorrow. We had Time-Life crab cakes for dinner along with canned corn and trio rice. Squares of chocolate for dessert.

Friday/4-Nov-16: We finally got to shopping today, and even that was late. Friday afternoon is not the best of times.

Dinner was Panko-Crusted Baked Salmon (web), made in the oven this time as it should be. Quite good it was. Served with steamed broccoli topped with lemon juice, and a kind of pilaf with shallots and some sliced (impulse-bought) shiitakes. All was good. Chocolate squares and a Pogo walk for dessert.

Saturday/5-Nov-16: Today my bike, which has been sitting on flat tires in the far shed since we moved here, went off to one of the refugées who were moved from Calais to Montbron. A bit sad to see it go, but glad it will be used.

For dinner, I used a recipe from a recipe for Chicken Satay Marinade from an EAT-L friend to make, yes, Chicken Satay with two kip filets. I cut these into four strips each and marinated them a good long while, then skewered them and grilled under the broiler. Should have made some peanut sauce to go with it, but it was still good. Served with Coconut Rice (30MinInd, p100) and a Thai-ish cucumber salad vaguely following a recipe from the web. All was good.

Sunday/6-Nov-16: Yippee! Ed had fried chicken for dinner tonight! Served with some garlic mashed potatoes for the gravy and some peas and carrots. We were full, no dessert needed.

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

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Tuxedo Chicken

Tonight we had Tuxedo Chicken (p152), another one-dish main from Desperation Dinners. We had a little salad afterwards, but that wasn't really necessary.

This is a satisfying pasta dish, very similar to what I might make for a "brainless dinner." Melt some butter in a skillet and add some chopped onion. When the onion bits are a bit soft, add some skinless, boneless chicken breast halves that have been cut into strips. Stir these until they're no longer pink. Meanwhile cook the broccoli. The authors suggest microwaving; I cooked it in the pasta water. Remove the chicken from the pan. Stir in some sour cream (low-fat, not) into the pan*, then add some grainy mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder. (I used the Worcestershire sauce that was called White Wine Worcestershire when it first came out. Since the idea of wine seemed to offend many Americans, it's was relabelled as Chicken Worcestershire, or something like that. Same ingredients. It has a less assertive taste that the original sauce.) When the sauce begins to get a bit thick, stir in the chicken and broccoli. Meanwhile, boil up some pasta. (The authors suggest farfalle (bowties); I used malfalda corta, which I think looks like mini-lasagnas if your image of lasagna noodles includes curly edges.) Serve the pasta topped with the sauce. Enjoy.

*I now see that I was supposed to add some half-and-half too. We didn't miss this at all. There was plenty of sauce.

This wasn't a fantastic dish, but satisfying. If I were to do it again, I'd use some soft goat cheese instead of the sour cream. We've really come to like Chavroux (known to us as pyramid cheese because of the box it comes in) in dishes like this. Or on scrambled eggs. And other things.

Note: This recipe has a Time-Saver side-bar which suggests that when you're boiling a large quantity of water, you can put some in your big pot and the rest in another pot. When they're both at the boiling, carefully pour the contents of the smaller pot into the big one. Maybe saves a bit of time, but it seems like too much trouble.

Well, after using this book quite a bit, I'm beginning to think it may be going onto the recycle stack. I love the name, and enjoy the writing style and presentation, but the recipes are pretty ordinary as a whole. And, for me, there is too much reliance on prepared things like already sliced veggies that I don't have access to and probably wouldn't use if I did. There are a few good recipes here, e.g., Bob's Famous Fish (p279) (and this one, perhaps, with a bit of tweaking), but for the most part there's nothing that special here. If it stays on the shelf, it will be for affection rather than utility.

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their October cookbook. If you've got books on your shelf wanting to be used, why don't you choose one and join in?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Harvest Pork Chops

We're back from our visit to the Netherlands and I'll finish out the month with more from Desperation Dinners. Tonight there was Harvest Pork Chops (p70), a one-dish skillet dinner.

This dish is fairly quick to make, but you are pretty busy the whole time. You start by making rice with diluted chicken stock as the liquid. I used regular white rice rather than "instant". (Not sure what you gain by using instant here.) While that's happening, you melt some butter in a skillet and add some thick half-moon slices of onion. When those are starting to soften, you add (boneless) pork chops and brown them on one side. (The boneless chops I found were really half-chops, so we had two bits each.) Meanwhile, you slice up a cored apple and mix more chicken stock with apple juice, white wine, or water (I used the wine), brown sugar, mustard, and cider vinegar. These are added to the skillet with some cabbage coleslaw mix. (That not being available, I sliced up an equivalent amount of Chinese cabbage.) This mixture cooks, covered, until the pork chops are more or less done. Then some cornstarch and water is added to thicken the sauce. It was all very tasty, but a bit of your basic beige dinner. A proper coleslaw mix might have had more eye appeal.

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their October cookbook. If you've got books on your shelf wanting to be used, why don't you choose one and join in?

Monday, October 24, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/24-Oct-16 through Thursday/27-Oct-16: We were away all of this time and hope nothing happened in the kitchen.

Friday/28-Oct-16: Arrived home today. Had planned to stop for pizza, but that didn't work. Instead I made the Artichoke Spaghetti (Art, p59) variation with tuna. Good and fairly easy, except for being pestered by one annoying cat.

Saturday/29-Oct-16: I did a quick shopping today, to get us back on schedule for Wednesday shopping.

Dinner was a one-dish meal of pork chops. Not remembering that this was a one-dish meal, I also made some steam-sautéed potatoes (which were yummy) and some broccoli. We tasted the potatoes to verify how good they were, and I'll make a broccoli-potato salad for lunch tomorrow. We were stuffed, so no dessert was needed.

Back in business—yogurt on overnight!

Sunday/30-Oct-16: Desperation chicken for dinner tonight, along with a salad. This week they had small (100g) packages of mixed lettuces, which made for a better size, not such a giant salad. For dessert, I warmed some of the free poffertjes from Albert Heijn, five each, and we had them with powdered sugar.

The gas ran out as the pasta finished. Before Thanksgiving, hooray!

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 1
This month: #3 PASTA: no; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: no for October/November

Monday, October 17, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/17-Oct-16 through Sunday/23-Oct-16: We were away all week. Nothing happened in the kitchen that I know of.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: —
This month: #3 PASTA: no; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: no for October/November

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Pasta with Salmon Cream

Tonight there was Pasta with Salmon Cream (p163) from Desperation Dinners. Nothing too special, but kind of your basic creamy pasta dish. Quite tasty and easy to assemble.

I used fettuccine as instructed, but I expect penne or cascarelli would be just as good. You start by sautéing a finely chopped onion. When that's soft, add some frozen green peas (optional, but I prefer them), grated Parmesan, half-and-half, frozen lemon juice concentrate (I used juice straight from the lemon), minced garlic (mine was freshly chopped rather than from a jar), crushed red pepper, and dill leaves. Cook gently till the sauce thickens. With planning your fettuccine will be ready and you can stir in the smoked salmon and some yogurt or sour cream (I used crème fraîche). I didn't cook the salmon at all, but stirred the sauce, salmon, and crème fraîche into the just-drained pasta. Very tasty. A nice dinner with a salad.

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their October cookbook. If you've got books on your shelf wanting to be used, why don't you choose one and join in?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Flake Baked Chicken

More crushed corn flakes from Desperation Dinners tonight with Flake Baked Chicken (p266).  And this is where the flattened chicken that I did a couple of nights ago came from. Oh well.

Flatten the chicken by putting in between waxed paper and beating it with a rolling pin. Put it on a baking sheet and coat the top with mayonnaise. Make a topping of crushed (corn or wheat) flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Bake at 475F for 15 minutes until the crumbs are brown.

I decided to do this under the broiler, which was a bad decision. The crumbs were black within 10 minutes, so I scraped them off and let the chicken cook a bit longer.

In the oven, rather than in the broiler, this is another pretty good way to do chicken. The mayo adds a nice moisture without adding much taste. (We're not big mayo people here.) The corn flakes add some crunch. You could add your favorite spice to give the topping a bit more character. 

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their October cookbook. If you've got books on your shelf wanting to be used, why don't you choose one and join in?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Golden Fried Fillets and Orzo with Mushrooms and Sun-Dired Tomatoes

Tonight's Desperation Dinner was Golden Fried Fillets (p275) served with Orzo with Mushrooms and Sun-Dried Tomatoes (p323).

Lieu noir (saithe or pollack) was on special today, so that was the fish-of-the-day. In this recipe, the fish is coated with crushed cereal flakes (I used corn flakes) mixed with flour and Old Bay seasoning, then sautéed in butter. (I used a mixture of butter and olive oil. We found it a bit bland, maybe because my Old Bay is ancient. This dish was okay, but would be better with a zingier flavoring, like the cajun mixture from my previous Desperation Dinner.

The orzo was quite good. My husband has a "thing" for orzo, so I'm always looking for a new way to serve it. This recipe asked for already-sliced mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes to be microwaved in a bit of water before stirring into the drained orzo with some Parmesan. I sliced my own mushrooms (pleurotes, oesterzwammen, oyster mushrooms) and used oven-dried tomatoes from the freezer. No microwave, so I sautéed them briefly in a bit of olive oil. I put some extra Parmesan on top

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their October cookbook. If you've got books on your shelf wanting to be used, why don't you choose one and join in?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Smokin' Cajun Chicken

Tonight's Desperation Dinner was Smokin' Cajun Chicken (p264). If you've already made up the Super Seasoning Mix, this is a meal that goes together lickety-split. Even if you haven't, it's still quick.

The spice mix is paprika (I used smoked paprika), garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, black pepper, cayenne, basil, and oregano. Once the mix is made, you put it into a ziploc bag and then add the skinless, boneless chicken breasts halves (much easier in Dutch, kip filets). Or, as I did, you put the mixture onto a shallow plate and press the kip filets into the mixture. Mis-remembering the recipe, I also flattened my kip filets by putting them between waxed paper and whapping them with a rolling pin before coating with the spice mixture. The chicken is then quickly cooked in butter, several minutes on each side, until done. I made a quick pan sauce by deglazing the pan with some chicken stock (sh! it was from a cube) and adding a dab more butter.

This is actually kind of a kind of a standard fast dinner here. Flatten some kip filets, spice them up as you want, and sauté quickly till done. The pan sauce is a nice finishing gesture.

Since I was cooking only half the number of kip filets, I made only half the spice mixture. Actually it would be worthwhile making double the amount shown, so you have this available for another quick and tasty meal.

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their October cookbook. If you've got books on your shelf wanting to be used, why don't you choose one and join in?

Monday, October 10, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/10-Oct-16: Dinner was a halfish recipe of Moroccan Missile (Wraps, p87; cookbooker). Used lavash, rather than flour tortillas for the first round. Don't think the coucous was really needed. After two round, we were full.

Tuesday/11-Oct-16: Chicken for dinner, plus garlic mashed potatoes and a big salad. That was all.

Wednesday/12-Oct-16: Shopping today. Fish and orzo for dinner, along with steamed broccoli. That was all.

Thursday/13-Oct-16: Chicken for dinner again. Served with Baked Eggplant Slices (TooMany, p114), which is a very old favorite, and the last bit of some multi-colored pasta shells, tossed with shallot, garlic, the rest of the mushrooms I bought for yesterday's orzo, and chopped parsley. For a salad, we had Cold Beetroot with Cream (Pomiane, p180), another old favorite. That's all there was.

Yogurt on overninght.

Friday/15-Oct-16: Dinner was Baked Beef Curry (MJ@Home, p139), which was pretty easy to put together, and tasty to eat. Served with rice, and then some Pan-Grilled Zucchini (MJ@Home, p173) again. This time I sprayed my zucchini slices with olive oil before cooking them under the broiler. This worked super well. That was all.

Saturday/15-Oct-16: Lunch out today for our anniversary. Nothing further happened in the kitchen, but I did get a lot of ironing done.

Sunday/16-Oct-16: Salmon pasta for dinner, followed by a big salad. It was good and I was full. Ed had a mini magnum after, I had nothing extra.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG:  no; #2 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #3 PASTA: no; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: no for Oct/Nov

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Garlic-Roasted Salmon

This is kind of a pause month for my Time-Life Foods of the World project, so I needed to choose another book for October. Given that this month has little time and attention for serious cooking, I thought I might exercise one of my "quick dinner" books. I decided I really didn't need to keep around the first book I looked at—I copied one recipe and have put the book in the recycle box. A second book still leaves me a bit iffy; I'll have a closer look at this one before long, when I might copy more than one recipe before recycling it. I ended up choosing Desperation Dinners, by Beverly Mills and Alica Ross.

I've actually cooked just a bit from this book in the past and have a couple of favorites. But beyond those, I've hardly turned a page. It suits this month to concentrate on fast and easy dishes.

It was shopping day today, so we had fresh fish. Tonight it was Garlic-RoastedSalmon (p282). This is, as promised, really simple and really fast. Your bits of fish are topped with minced garlic and bottled minced ginger. Rather than mincing or using from a jar, I used my microplane to grate both garlic and ginger. I sprayed my fish with olive oil, then mixed the garlic and ginger together and spread the mixture on the fish. The recipe asks to cook the fish in a 500F oven, but my no-longer-so-new stove has a separate (gas) broiler and I used that instead. This dish could hardly be simpler and was very yummy.

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their October cookbook. If you've got books on your shelf wanting to be used, why don't you choose one and join in?

Monday, October 3, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/3-Oct-16: Put up the latest batch of tomato purée. Now a brief pause before picking more.

Hamburger time tonight. Ed was supposed to barbecue this evening, but he hurt his back falling off a ladder and didn't feel like it, so I grilled them on the stove. Very lean ground beef mixed with a shot of soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, and a dash of cayenne. Pretty good, although I cooked them a bit long. Served with the leftover lentil salad, still good. Also grilled a zucchini cut in thick slices and sprinkled with a Moroccan spice mix, with a sauce of crème fraîche and minced garlic. Mini magnums for after.

Tuesday/4-Oct-16: Dinner was Fattoush—Levantine Bread Salad (PatSalads, p72). Picked two tomatoes from the potager to use. Instead of pita breads, I used some lavash. I rather like that and have bought it twice now. I see I forgot to add the cucumber, but it was still a yummy salad. Some bit of cooked meat (chicken?) might be nice too, or maybe feta.

For dessert, there was Apple Crisp (BeatThis, p13; cookbooker). Having had a look through this book, I'm going to put it in the recycle box. Too many recipes using canned soup, etc. But I saw this and gave it a try. I made it with frozen raspberries and grannies, half and half. Very good, with a splash of cream. Have put the recipe in my HandyBook, since a quick and easy sort of dessert is always useful.

Wednesday/5-Oct-16: Shopping today. The enlargement mess and noise continues to be very unpleasant.

I bought a bit of blue cheese today (St Agur) just for a lark, and, as we returned home, I noticed lots of ripe figs on our neighbor's tree. I went and picked four for us. For a starter, I halved these lengthwise, crumbled a bit of blue cheese and dribbled a bit of honey onto each, popped them in the oven for a few minutes, then served topped with chopped walnuts. Yum. Even Ed liked them.

Our main was salmon (cookbooker) from my latest book for Cookbook Countdown. Served with some trio rice. Followed by a simple salad. We didn't feel a need for dessert (but we did have some square of chocolate later). We might finish the apple-raspberry crisp for breakfast tomorrow.

My attempts at making a yummy fig jam haven't been very successful. We're currently eating a really good fig-walnut jam that I picked up at a market somewhere. I'm tempted to pick a basketful and try again. We might have some of last year's walnuts still in the freezer. (It looks like this year will be a pretty poor crop unfortunately.)

Yogurt on overnight.

Thursday/6-Oct-16: Ed has asked for more beefy things, so tonight there was boudin noir again. Not really beefy, but high in protein for his hemoglobin.

During the day I made up some Carrot and Ginger Quickie Pickle (MC; Scraps, p82; web).

We had Black Pudding in Pastry with Mustard Sauce (Diaries2, p146), kind of sausage rolls, but with black puddings. The recipe asks morcilla, which I have seen at Leclerc, but not this week, so I got regular boudin noir, locally made. I used a package of four squares of pâte feuilleté, rolling two square out to a rectangle that enclosed the boudins on a bed of onions. Pretty good, but doesn't need to be made again. Served with some steamed broccoli, and some apple chunks that I sautéed in the onion pan. Also made some Radish and Sour Cream Salad (TLMidEast, p87), but we were too full to eat it.

Friday/7-Oct-16: Picked some more tomatoes today, just enough for dinner and a few extra. Finally made Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter (ClassItal, p152). Had an idea to serve it with fresh pasta, but didn't have time in the end, and she doesn't recommend it, except for potato gnocchi, which I definitely wouldn't make. I neglected to peel the tomatoes, which was a shame, so I buzzed them a bit (not quite enough) with my stick blender. Looks chef-boyardee-ish, but tastes much better. Froze half for later use.

Saturday/8-Oct-16: Had our main meal early today so we can go out this evening. We had West Indies Salmon Cakes (MC; web). Yummy and three more frozen for another meal. Served with turmeric rice, loosely based on something from the web, the Carrot and Ginger Quickie Pickle that I made earlier in the week, and Pan-Grilled Zucchini (MJ@Home, p173). All yummy. Had some mini magnums for dessert.

Sunday/9-Oct-16: Home late last night, and up late this morning. We went to a concert in the afternoon. I had planned to cook dinner, but really didn't feel like it. So we went out for pizza instead.

Yogurt on overnight.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 4
This month: #3 PASTA: no; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: no for Oct/Nov