Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Monday Leftovers: Spaghetti and Meatballs

mmm.... pure leftovery goodness.

Monday, December 20, 2004

It was a quiet weekend

The only real cooking I did this weekend was a gratin for Jon and Cati's potluck and wine tasting.

The gratin itself (potatoes, spinach, mushrooms, garlic, and shallots) turned out really well, if a bit wet. Pre-cooking the potatoes a bit in the milk/cream is a goooood trick.

Friday, December 17, 2004

leftovers! leftovers!

Last night I chopped up the remaining rump roast and some broccoli, mixed that with the leftover rice and onions, and baked the whole thing.

I didn't get the crust I wanted on the bottom/sides, but it still tasted pretty good.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Tuesday Night: Rice Cooked with Onions

This is a Bittman recipe from a couple of weeks ago. I made it without the pork or shrimp and with turmeric instead of saffron (because I stupidly forgot to buy saffron on Sunday). We had the rice with leftover rump roast.

This turned out really well and it marks the first time that I can say that I've definitively tasted turmeric, which normally is in with a ton of other spices. The flavor is nice, but subtle. The basic dish is definitey one to be made again.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Sunday bread: yeast is amazing

I did my standard seeded bread, but ended up making it with only 1/4 tsp of yeast (that's all we had). The resulting loaf took forever to rise, but it ended up being just fine.

1/4 tsp yeast. That's all.


Sunday Dinner: Beef Rump Roast

I picked up a nice rump roast at Dittmers on Saturday and wanted to test out a new spice rub (the uncreatively named "Meat Rub" from FStoS), so last night was a rump roast, served with chestnuts.

I didn't do anything fancy, just applied the rub with salt and pepper and let the roast sit for a couple hours, then browned it on all sides and roasted it with onions, garlic, baby carrots, and some slices of meyer lemon. The flavors ended up being really good, but the roast itself is unfortunately tough. Next time I do this cut, I'll braise it.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Overheard Conversations....

One Whole Foods employee explaining to the other why the truffles they sell are so expensive. It seems that neither of them was aware that what they are selling (Oregon Truffles) are not, in fact, real truffles and that WF seems to have marked them up about %500 compared to what is available on the web.

I wonder about the purchasers of these things... they would have to have enough disposable income to pay $50 for an ounce of "truffle", and be stupid enough to not realize that they are not actually buying the kind of truffles that should cost $50 an ounce. I guess there is no shortage of such folks in this area.

[long rant about people buying stuff solely because of the name averted]

Thursday Dinner: Spaghetti with Chicken, Spinach and Mushrooms

This is a recipe from The South American Table. When I read the recipe, it sounded more Italian than South American. Still, it sounded good enough to make (plus I haven't made nearly enough stuff out of this cookbook yet).

After preparing the sauce, it looks more Indian (Asian Indian) than Italian. :-)

But, it tasted good (particularly when sprinkled with a bit of pimenton), and was quick enough to be a good weeknight meal. This would also be a very good way to use up leftover poultry.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


I finally remembered to translate this recipe, which is from Andrea's mother. It's a german recipe, so you'll need a kitchen scale.

10 egg yolks
200 g powdered sugar
250 ml heavy cream (I used a pint, which is a bit short, but it worked ok)
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used Trader Joes "Vanilla Paste", because I like the way the flecks of bean look in the finished Eierlikör)
150 ml grain alcohol or 500 ml brandy

Force the egg yolks through a fine sieve, then combine with the sugar and beat until foamy.
Add the cream and beat until you're happy with the thickness. (See notes 3 and 4)
Stir in the alcohol, pour into a bottle, and let it sit for at least a few days before drinking.

Random notes:

  1. Bacardi 151 will probably work well in place of the grain alcohol
  2. Unless you're a complete masochist, use an electric mixer.
  3. You have a reasonable degree of control over the final thickness based on how much you beat the cream
  4. The original recipe calls for you to put the bowl in a pot of warm water over very low heat while beating in the cream and then to transfer it to a bowl of cold water and stir for a bit before adding the alcohol. We couldn't figure out the reasoning behind these steps and they seemed like a pain in the ass, so we skipped them.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Tuesday Night Leftovers

Last night was leftover pork braised in milk, served with salads and some quickie Bratkartoffeln (made from the shards of the shaped potatoes from Saturday).

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Monday Dessert: Blackberry cobbler

Dinner was leftover pork braised in milk, served with mashed sweet potatoes (last uncooked sweet potato from turkeyday) and salad.

Dessert was a blackberry cobbler I made because we found cheap blackberries at WF ($1.50 a package, wow). It's goofy to have blackberries at this time of year, but there they were... and they were even pretty good.

Anyway, here's what I did with them. The topping recipe is adapted from Bittman's Apple Crisp topping, the filling is an improvisation. The result is very nice.

Blackberry Cobbler

the filling:
4 cups blackberries
1/4-1/2 c. white sugar
juice of one lemon (I used a meyer lemon)
1 tsp cornstarch
the topping:
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 c. rolled oats
1/4 c. almonds
4 oz butter, cut into 8 pieces

Preheat the oven to 375.
Make the filling: put the berries in a lightly-buttered 8 inch glass pan. Sprinkle the sugar, corn starch (I used a sieve for this), and lemon juice over the berries and gently fold together.
Make the topping: add the butter, brown sugar, flour, and almonds to a food processor. Pulse on high until the butter is incorporated but things are still rough. Add the oats and pulse a few times to mix them through (Not too much! The oats should stay intact!).
Sprinkle the topping over the berries and press down lightly.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the topping is nice and brown and the filling is bubbly.
Allow to cool for a bit, then serve warm, with ice cream.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Sunday Dessert: Moravian Ginger Snaps

Cati made these at their last wine tasting and they were fantastic.
Using the recipe from Cati (taken from the La Brea cookbook), Andrea made a batch last night. mmmmm, loads of ginger.

What could be wrong with a recipe that calls for 3 Tbs of ground ginger and 2 Tbs of grated fresh ginger? :-)

Sunday Night: Spaghetti and Meatballs

On Saturday I developed a meatball craving as we were heading to the store to get stuff for the pork braised in milk. Andrea liked the idea, so yesterday we had spaghetti and meatballs.

Long Simmered Tomato Sauce
2 pints canned tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion, diced
5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
a "bouquet garni" made of 1 spring each rosemary and oregano, 3 springs thyme, and 2 springs sage
4 bay leaves
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
~1 cup red wine
~1 cup chicken stock
salt and black pepper to taste

Cook the onion and garlic in a couple Tbs of olive oil until they start to brown, add everything else and bring to a light boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for some hours (yesterday this went for ~6 hours). Fish out the bouquet garni and bay leaves and then puree with a hand blender. Adjust the seasonings and serve.
This makes a bit over a quart of sauce.

2 lbs ground meat (I used 1 lb of buffalo and 1 lb of pork)
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, finely diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1/2 c. good bread crumbs
1 sprig each worth of rosemary and sage leaves, finely chopped
1/4 c. parsely, finely chopped
salt and black pepper to taste

Saute the onion for a couple of minutes to soften it, then mix everything together in a big bowl.
This recipe makes 24 golf-ball sized meatballs.

To finish the meatballs, brown them well on all sides, then simmer in some sauce for 10-15 minutes. Serve over spaghetti with some coarsely chopped parsley and a bit of microplaned lemon zest (I used Meyer lemons, because that's what we have).

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Saturday night: more Bourdain

Last night I made a couple new things from Bourdain. I don't have the book with me at the machine and I'm too lazy to go downstairs and get it, so I won't get the names right.

The main course was pork braised in milk. The sauce was really nice, but the pork roast itself was pretty flavorless. I think this could be pretty easily solved with a different cut of pork. Top-loin roast isn't exactly a flavor bomb.

As a side I did pan roasted/glazed potatoes. This is the dish where you're supposed to carve the potatoes into little football/zeppelin shapes. I'm pretty sure I remember a funny Julie/Julia Project post about this, but my two minutes of searching didn't turn it up. Anyway, I didn't get the potatoes the right shape, but they were more-or-less uniform in size, which is the point. Things turned out pretty well, but there are a couple of things I would change:

  1. If using butter next time, be sure to let it finish frothing, so there's no water left in there when adding the potatoes.
  2. Even though covering the pan to cook the potatoes seems like a bright idea, it's not. It prevents the formation of the glaze.
Apropos nothing: using the new 10 inch skillet, I am now able to do the food flip maneuver. This is enormously entertaining. Now I just have to keep myself (and Andrea) convinced that it's actually useful. :-)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Wednesday Night: Curried Chicken Chunks in Coconut Milk

The primary recipe is from FStoS, we served it with sticky rice and stir-fried greens (chard). This turned out to be damn tasty, but a couple of comments are in order:

  1. Steaming Japanese sweet rice (instead of the usual prep method) doesn't net much, but it does take a lot longer.
  2. The cheapo coconut milk we bought last time isn't nearly as nice as the more expensive kind that's in the cans that look the same.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Tuesday Night: Grilled Cheese and Soup

Grilled cheese sandwiches with reheated butternut squash soup, mmmmm.

I simmered the soup with the chestnuts in it for about 30 minutes before serving and the chestnuts softened up quite nicely. I guess I just wasn't patient enough when I originally glazed them (though the recipe did say ~20 minutes total).

I definitely need to get more chestnuts while Whole Foods still has them on sale.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Sunday Dessert: Stewed Dried Fruit

I had a craving for something like this, but last time I tried something similar I used too many different kinds of fruit/the wrong kinds of fruit and the results were less than pleasing. This time I simplified:

Dried prunes, sliced
Dried berries (I have a package with a mixture of dried cherries, strawberries, cranberries, and blueberries)
Frozen peaches, chopped
ground cinnamon
fresh ginger, minced
Apple juice

Combine the fruit and spices in a bowl. Get the apple juice hot and pour it in. Add enough hot water to cover the fuit.
Allow things to sit for an hour or so, then bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes.
Serve over ice cream.

Sunday Night Dinner: Leftover Turkey with Mole Sauce

We had this Sunday night and served it with blackeyed peas and rice and a salad.

I threw the mole together Sunday morning and then let it sit for the rest of the day so that the flavors could meld. It's easy to assemble, but the part where you toast the chilis will fill your house with tear gas... you have been warned. :-)

The Mole
1 package each dried Pasilla, Guajillo, New Mexico, and Chipotle chilis
2 Tbs each cumin, coriander
3 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
1-2 tsp ground oregano
2 Tbs each sweetened hot chocolate, unsweetened cocoa
manteca de color (a few Tbs)

Toast the chilis in a dry skillet in batches, then remove the stems and seeds. Toss the chilis in 1/2-1 cup of hot water, cover and let sit, stirring occasionally, until they are soft.
Toast the seeds and cinnamon in a dry skillet, then transfer to a blender and blend until powdered.
Add the rehydrated chilis and soaking water, the manteca and enough additional water to allow the blender to work. You want a thick paste.
Add the oregano, chocolate, and cocoa and stir well.
Allow the mole to stand for a while so the flavors can blend.

The Mole Sauce
1/2 c. mole
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, medium dice
1/2 c. red wine
2 Tbs dark soy sauce
Chicken stock

Combine the first five ingredients in a sauce pan and add enough of the stock to make a thick sauce. Cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes.

Leftover Turkey in Mole Sauce
Add chunks of leftover turkey to the mole sauce and cook over medium-low heat until the turkey is warmed through. Stir in a couple Tbs of sour cream and serve immediately.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Saturday Night: Thai Ginger Pork

Andrea requested something Asian, so here we go. :-)

The recipe was derived from the gai pad khing recipe in the Thai cookbook ("Muoi Khuntilanont's Thai Kitchen", http://www.makantime.com/muoi.htm is the best URL I can find for this now, it's been stable for a few years and isn't formatted too badly), but I used pork "sirloin" instead of chicken. The only real change I made was to freshen things up by adding a slug of microplane-grated ginger to each bowl just before serving.

Friday Night: Soup and Salad

It seemed like a good idea to have something relatively light that wasn't turkey on Friday, so we did soup and salad.

For the soup, I used up the last of the butternut squash that I had frozen and made Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Glazed Chestnuts (from FStoS). Instead of using creme fraiche, I used up the last of the buttermilk I had in the fridge. I'll have to try this recipe sometime "the right way", but the buttermilk was definitely a nice touch (and had the advantage of keeping things from getting out-of-control rich). The chestnuts were really tasty, and a nice touch, but they didn't really get tender like they were supposed to. Ah well...

Thanksgiving Wrapup

Most everything turned out really well. A couple of notes/things to remember:

  1. When using someone else's oven, be way more careful about monitoring that things are cooking evenly.
  2. The America's Test Kitchen trick of cooking the sweet potatoes mostly in their own liquid works really well and produces really tasty mashed sweet potatoes.
  3. Steve and Dianna's idea of buying a bunch of disposable storage containers before Thanksgiving and then sending everyone home with leftovers is really clever.
  4. I should make stuffing more often... it's good. Of course, I say this every thanksgiving.
Something to try in the future: the basic mushroom stuffing thing could probably be a main dish. Add pieces of pre-cooked turkey or chicken before baking.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Crazy Green Vegetable Soup

I made this to use up a bunch of vegetables that we got from Cati and Jon's CSA box this week. It really is an insane shade of green.

Stock (I used a mixture of ham and chicken stock)
Soup celery
Collard greens, chopped
Diced root vegetables (I used: carrots, baby turnips, parsnips, and potatoes)
Minced garlic
Diced, peeled eggplant

Simmer the soup celery for a while in the stock, until you're happy with the smell and flavor.
Add the collards and simmer until they are reasonably tender. Puree the stock; it'll now be that crazy green color.
Add the diced root vegetables and garlic. Simmer until the vegetables start getting tender, then add the eggplant. Simmer until done.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

More Thanksgiving Prep

Before the sink clogged, I made:

  1. the mushroom stock for the bread stuffing
  2. another batch of cornbread for the cornbread stuffing. Letting the oil get really hot does make a difference. This stuff (with the high cornmeal content) will work well for stuffing, but for eating on its own, I definitely prefer my usual cornbread recipe.
  3. a pot of stock from the ham bone (the country ham is finally finished!) to use in some vegetable soup I'm going to make tonight in order to use up CSA vegetables from Cati and Jon.

Thanksgiving Plumbing Curse

Last year it was the toilets at my sister's house... this year it's the kitchen drain at my house.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Sunday Dinner

Beef Bourguignon (recipe from Bourdain, with an extra slug of wine added at the end to liven things up) and boiled potatoes.

The one downside to this was that our house smelled like both beef stew and chocolate cookies. It was pretty weird to walk through.

Sunday's Prep Fest

I spent a lot of Sunday doing advance prep for Thanksgiving. Aside from getting most of the shopping done I:

  1. Made the Parker House Rolls and froze them (they need a couple of minutes of baking to finish anyway).
  2. Made some cornbread for the cornbread stuffing. I used the Bittman cornbread recipe since it has a higher ratio of cornmeal to flour, but the cornbread turned out... odd. I need to make another batch anyway in order to have a sufficient quantity, so I'm going to make sure that the weirdness isn't due to the oil temperature. We'll see
  3. Made a batch of Eierlikor to test out Andrea's mother's recipe.
  4. Andrea made the first big batch of Plätzchen to use up the egg whites and start getting ready for the holidays.


For Kurt and Cheryl's party on Saturday, I planned to make baba-ganouj with roasted red pepper. Then I got a bit over-enthusiastic with the hand blender and I ended up with something that tasted great, but that was way over-homogenized. One might even say "whipped".

1 eggplant
1 red pepper
3 cloves garlic
juice from one lemon
extra virgin olive oil to taste
cayenne, black pepper, ground cumin and salt to taste

Poke the eggplant a few times with a fork so that it doesn't explode, then put the eggplant and red pepper under the broiler (or near the top of a very hot oven). Turn every couple of minutes until they are nicely blackened. If the eggplant gets blacked before it's soft, transfer it to the oven to cook a bit longer. Put the pepper in a paper bag for a couple of minutes when you take it out (to steam), then peel, seed, and finely dice it. Peel and chop the eggplant.
While things are roasting, convert the garlic into paste, then transfer to a bowl and add the lemon juice, a couple Tbs olive oil, and the spices. Mix well.
Add the diced pepper and eggplant to the bowl and mix well. At this point you can mash the eggplant (to get what I regard as the proper texture), or homogenize the hell out of with a hand blender or food processor to get something with a texture more like mayo.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Chicken stir-fried with ketchup (Thursday dinner)

This is a Bittman recipe from the NYT. I served it with japanese sticky rice and steamed broccolli.

This bears some resemblance to sweet and sour chicken, but with a definite ketchup flavor. I thought the dish was great, particularly after I slathered it in sriracha, but Andrea had mixed feelings about it; that probably means more lunch leftovers for me! :-)

Random Vegetable Soup

I made this on Wednesday night to use up some vegetables that were in the fridge. And because I really liked that creamy mushroom soup from this weekend. And because it's nice to have soup on cold nights. It's multi-purpose soup!

2 Tbs butter
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 roasted acorn squash, scraped out of the peel
2 mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup country ham (that was the last of it... really!), fine dice
3 cups chicken stock (I had 1 cup of dark stock in the fridge, the other 2 cups are light)
1 splash (1/4 cup?) white wine
1 splash heavy cream
salt and pepper to tasted

Cook the butter in a pan large enough to hold the soup over medium-high heat until it foams. Add the onions and garlic, along with a big pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally for a couple of minutes, then add the mushrooms and half of the red peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, for until the onion is translucent and the mushrooms start to brown (~5 minutes). Add the stock and squash, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Puree the mixture (I used the hand blender), then add the wine, the remaining red pepper, and the ham. Let this simmer for about 5 minutes, then stir in the cream, adjust seasoning, and serve.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Sunday Quickie

Since we were still feeling bloated from all the great food at brunch, last night was not the usual Sunday cooking fest. I just threw together a mexican-influenced thing with leftover roast pork shoulder, country ham, red pepper, onion, garlic, chilies and a sauce made from red wine vinegar, chix stock and ketchup. Served over rice with lots of hot sauce. mmm, simple and good.

Mmmmmmonkey Bread

I've been wanting to make the "Monkey Bread" recipe in the Bread Bible for a while now, but never had the appropriate occasion (enough people at a brunch/breakfast activity). Yesterday Jon and Cati had brunch with eight people, so I got my chance! And it was GOOD!

If you follow the timing in the recipe, there's pretty much no way you're going to have monkey bread any earlier than the middle of the afternoon. Since I think this is a breakfast dish, that's too bad. Also, the timing information at the beginning of the recipe is wildly misleading -- it takes at least two hours longer to make than what's listed up front -- so you can't draw any conclusions from that. My solution was to start the sponge on Saturday morning and let that mature until last afternoon, when I made the dough and did the first rise. The second rise was in the fridge overnight (I punched it down before going to bed). In the morning I warmed the dough up for an hour and then assembled the bread. Even starting at 7:00, the bread still wasn't ready until 11:00 or 11:30, but some of that was due to our cool kitchen (and some because it took me ~45 minutes to assemble the thing).

Still, the results, gooey with caramel and rum raisins and loaded with toasted pecans and butter was insanely good. I'll definitely do it again next time I get a chance.


Whole Foods has beef stock in a box that isn't half bad. It's not super salty and it actually tastes like beef. I started from there. I've never cooked with demi-glace, so I can't say how close this is to the real thing. There's definitely no gelatin in this and I figure that the flavor is pretty far off from the real stuff, but this still turned out to be damn good:

1 quart beef stock
1 cup red wine
1 chopped shallot

Heat the stock in a wide saucepan almost to a boil, then reduce the heat and hold it at a very light simmer.
Throw the wine and shallot in another pan over medium-high heat. Reduce down to 1/4 cup or less, then add to the stock.
Allow the stock to reduce until you have 1/2-1/4 cup, then strain.
That's it.

New cookbook in the mix/Saturday night meal

Thursday night I got a copy of Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook. It looks like it's going to be one of those good ones.

Saturday I made "Mushroom Soup" and "Steak au Poivre" from the new book and they were both really, really good. This amazing sense of well-being came over me as I was eating. mmmm, the power of good food.

A couple of quick notes:

1) I used the hand blender on the mushroom soup. I figured there was no chance it would work on the onion slices and big pieces of mushroom. I was wrong. Boy was it cool to not have to deal with using a blender on the soup.

2) Even with my pseudo-demi-glace (see next post), the steak au poivre was mind-blowingly good. I do want to try the whole veal stock thing at some point, but it's nice to know that I can create something good using stock from a box.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Quickie Pasta Sauce (Survival cooking)

After going to Anthony Bourdain's book signing thing last night, we wanted something quick and easy. There is still country ham in the fridge and we've got tons of canned tomatoes, so here's what I did.

This takes <20 minutes start to plate.

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 c. country ham, diced
1/2 c. dry red wine
2 c. canned tomatoes + juice
1 c. frozen peas
salt, black pepper and pimenton to taste
coarsely chopped italian parsley

While the oil is heating in a pan, chop garlic. Toss the garlic into the hot oil and chop onion, stirring the garlic every once in a while until it's starting to brown. Add the onion to the pan and cook for a minute or two. Add the ham and cook for another minute.
Now is a good time to start the pasta water.
Add the wine to the pan and scrape up anything that might have stuck the pan. Reduce over high heat until the wine is basically gone. Add the tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the tomatoes have broken down and/or the pasta is done. Adjust the seasonings and serve with a liberal sprinkling (maybe a Tbs or more per serving) of parley and a bit of grated hard cheese (parmesan or romano or whatever).

Thursday, November 11, 2004

mmm, leftovers

yep, no cooking at all so far this week. Hopefully tonight.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Kitchen tool recommendation

I got one of these hand blenders a couple of weeks ago and I'm really happy with it.

Aside from the base functionality, the little chopper (mini-food processor thing) is great. The ice crusher leaves something to be desired, but my blender works ok for that.

Habanero-Lime Salsa

I haven't actually tried this yet, but I wanted to get the recipe in before I forget the ingredients. This recipe is intended to be used as a topping for something else, I sure as hell wouldn't want to put this on chips.

4 habaneros, seeded
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 white onion, coarsely chopped
juice of two limes
1 tsp salt

Chop habaneros and garlic as finely as possible in a food processor. Add the onion and process more. Add the lime and salt and process longer. Throw everything in a bowl in the fridge for a while to "blend".

Chicken with Two Vinegars

Andrea, ever my enabler, convinced me that it'd be ok to go ahead and make chicken with two vinegars last night. So I did.

This is adapted from a Lucian Truscott recipe in the NYT a couple of years ago. Last night we had it with home-made pasta (cut into random sheets, like rags).

4 chicken breasts, skin on, bone in
3 Tbs olive oil
4 Tbs butter
1/4 c. each of red wine and champagne vinegars
4 shallots, finely chopped
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 c. chicken stock
6 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 c. heavy cream

Cut the chicken breasts in half and salt and pepper them liberally.
Heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet until the butter froths. Add the chicken skin-side down and brown all sides. Remove the chicken from the pan and pour out all but 1 Tbs of the fat.
Add the vinegars and deglaze the pan. Add the shallots and cook until they are transluscent. Add the white wine and bring to a boil. Throw the chicken in, along with juices from the plate, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan.
Add tomatoes and stock and simmer until the tomatoes break down. Add heavy cream and reduce heat to low. Once the sauce boils, add the chicken pieces and allow them to simmer for a few minutes (turning frequently), until they are warm and coated with the sauce.

Serve with pasta or rice.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

We need more eaters

Andrea and I don't eat enough. :-)

My original plan was that today I'd make Chicken with Two Vinegars -- which I've been wanting to make for a couple of weeks now, but something always comes up -- but there is now such an enormous quantity of leftovers in the fridge that I can't, in good conscience, do it. So Chicken with Two Vinegars gets pushed again.


This was originally going to be my usual lime and cumin cabbage salad. Then I realized that there was still a bunch of leftover sour-cream dressing from the bitter greens earlier in the week. So I made up a coleslaw recipe.

Finely shred a head of white cabbage. Throw in a large bowl with 2 cups white vinegar and 1/2 cup salt. Put a plate on top of the cabbage and add enough water to the bowl to cover the cabbage. Weight the plate (so that it continues to hold everything down) and let everything sit like that for 3-5 hours, until the cabbage starts to get tender

Drain the liquid, wring out the cabbage by hand (take a double handful and squeeze out the liquid), and toss it in a bowl. Mix the leftover sour-cream dressing ~1:1 with mayo and add enough to the cabbage to make yourself happy. Toss well (this is most easily done with your hands), and serve.

Corn Flan

For this I followed a recipe from Bittman. The results were mixed. The custard itself is really nice, and the flavor is great, but the thing is way too loose. I think that there ended up being way too much liquid in the recipe relative to the amount of egg.

This can probably be solved by measuring the corn-milk recipe after it's been strained and adjusting everything to a standard custard proportion, whatever the hell that may be. :-)

Simple Pintos

1 1/2 cups dried pinto beans, picked through and rinsed.
pork fat (salt pork or bacon or fat from country ham... guess what I used)
1 tsp salt
Water to cover well

Throw everything in a pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for ~2 hours, until the beans are tender.

I normally add a bunch of other stuff to beans when I make them, but I forced myself to not do so this time. The results are really, really good. The ham fat really adds a great flavor to the beans.

Spicy Roasted Pork

4 lb pork shoulder roast (bone in)
For the marinade:
6 habaneros, seeded
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
Juice of 4 limes
1/2 c. orange juice
1/4 c. kosher salt
1/4 c. sugar
For roasting:
freshly ground black pepper
pasilla chile powder
chipotle chile powder
coarsely ground cumin
coarsely ground coriander
sweet paprika
manteca de color

Make the marinade: Throw the peppers and garlic in a food processor and process until very finely chopped. Add the onion and process more until finely chopped. Add the juices, salt, and sugar and pulse a few times to blend.
Marinate the roast: Put the pork and marinade in suitable container (I used a 1 gallon zip-loc bag) and let it sit for at least 4-6 hours. Turn it every once in a while and make sure that the roast is nicely covered in marinadey goodness.
Bake it: Preheat the oven to 350. Pull the roast out of the marinade and put it in a baking pan (preferably non-stick). Drizzle with a tablespoon or so of manteca de color. Sprinkly liberally with the other spices. Press the spices in. Flip the roast and repeat that process. Strain the remaining marinade and throw the pulp in the bottom of the pan (the liquid is too salty for my tastes, so I discard it... if you think it's ok, then skip the straining and add everything). Put the pan in the oven and bake for 3-4 hours (determine done-ness with a fork test). Check on the roast every half hour or so and spoon some of the liquid from the bottom of the pan over the roast. Add some water to the pan if it's getting dry.
Serve in slices, topped with a bit of the pan juices. Serve with tortillas, avocados, chopped 'tro and lime.

This didn't end up being as hot as I was hoping for, so for leftovers I'm going to supplement it with chopped habaneros with 'tro in lime juice.

Satuday's Cooking Extravaganza

After such a depressing week, the only thing to do was to do a bunch of cooking over the weekend.

A quasi-Mexican theme seemed reasonable, so I did: roasted pork, pintos, corn flan, and coleslaw.

I guess I'll do separate posts for each of those.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Sufferin' Survival Succotash!

I made this on Wednesday night to go along with leftover shepherd's pie. Of course it's got country ham in it. There are no lima beans, because I'm not so big on lima beans.

I had forgotten how good things like this can be.

~ 1 cup frozen peas
~ 1 cup frozen corn
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cubed country ham
~1/2 cup chicken stock
1-2 Tbs butter
salt, pepper and pimenton to taste

Throw everything except the butter in a pan, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the pepper and onion is soft (5-10 minutes). Add the butter and adjust the seasonings.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Election results comfort food

Jon and Cati came over to receive the bad news...

Dinner was: Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potato Crust (from How to Cook Meat). I deviated a bit from the recipe and used half buffalo and half beef. I also put worcestershire sauce in the compound butter instead of A1 because I didn't want to end up with yet another bottle of sauce in the 'fridge door. It's a safe substitution anyway.

The salad was Bitter Greens with Sour Cream Dressing, from a Bittman column a few months ago. Here's a crappy link I found.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Sunday dinner

Sauteed mushrooms (chantarelles, shitake, and tree oysters, with a bit of dried porcini) served with hard polenta that I topped with mushroom syrup. This is pretty much a repeat of a dish from Sept. 29.


Made this at Jon and Cati's wine tasting thing on Saturday.

1 pint lemon sorbetto
4 Tbs vodka (ice cold)
1 c. cold Prosecco
4 Tbs whipping cream

Mash the sorbetto up in a metal bowl and whisk in the vodka. Whisk in the prosecco and cream, then throw the whole thing back in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to thicken up a bit.

This didn't end up being as thick as the stuff we had in Venice, but that can probably be remedied by cutting back on the prosecco. More experimentation will be required!

addendum to Sunday

Dessert was Bolzano Apple Cake, from a Scott Carsberg recipe in the NYT.

This was really good, but not particularly cakey. I'm not sure if I messed something off or if it's supposed to have a custardy texture. Still, it is delicious.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Wednesday Survival Cooking

Quick Chicken Casserole

1 can chicken (15oz I think)
1 cup frozen peas
1 can cream of chicken soup
4 cloves garlic, minced (I used garlic pickled in sherry)
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
enough milk to make it a sauce
salt, pepper and pimenton/cayenne to taste

Throw the sauce on some noodles, top with cheese and sunflower seeds. Bake at 400 until bubbly and brown.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Tuesday Dinner

This started with a dry-fried szechuan string bean recipe from the NYT a while ago. I used long beans from the farmers market and added some cubed country ham (of course!). Oh, and I used five-spice powder instead of szechuan pepper corns, because (a) you can't get them here, and (b) I was a jackass and didn't get a couple of bags when I saw them at the market in Provence.

I served it with short-grain rice (made in the rice cooker instead of using Bittman's recipe; this isn't as good, but it's way quicker).

Since things looked pretty dry, I also threw together a quick sauce for the rice made with: chinese black beans, oyster sauce, garlic, dried thai chilis, sherry, chicken stock, dried ginger (no fresh ginger in the house), and some sambal oelek. This ended up being way too salty, duh. Next time I think I'll try soaking the black beans first or something.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Chicken and Chickpea Tagine

The recipe is from a Minimalist column from March, and it's fantastic.

My only real modification was to brown the chicken thighs (and "deglaze" with the onions) at the beginning.

Served it with couscous, flash fried Mizuna (like mustard greens), and a quick salad from celery, parsley and red pepper with a lemon juice/olive oil dressing.

Self-roasted Coffee

Cati and Jon actually did this, not me, but I wanted to add a link here so that I can find it later. They've been getting green coffee beans from Sweet Marias and playing around with roasting it at home. The results are pretty damn good and they give you great control over the resulting coffee.

For me though, I think that way lies madness. :-)

Coffee Brick

Yesterday morning I attempted to make the Yeasted Coffee Cake recipe from Bittman. Things didn't so much work, so we ended up with Coffee Brick instead of Coffee Cake.

One guess as to how to fix thing next time is to heat the milk about and dissolve the yeast in it before adding it to the dry ingredients. I think that pre-mixing all the dry stuff and then adding the very small amount of milk required causes problems for the yeast beasties. But then, another part of the reason may have been that I did a half recipe and could have screwed up halving something.

Still, it tastes good.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

about that rendered fat...

So it turns out that if you chop the fat from a good country ham into small pieces and render it, you get some ferociously good cracklings.

Imagine that.

I'll probably spend the next 3 days coming up with excuses to render more ham fat. :-)

Thursday Dinner (Survival Cooking)

We had some leftover tomatoes in the fridge from the giant tomato canning operation, as well as a big chunk of country ham (from my parents; this is going to be showing up in food for a while yet), so I threw this together:

cubed country ham (about a cup)
canned tomatoes (about 1.5 cups)
6 canned chipotles
half an onion, medium dice
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
frozen corn (1 - 1.5 cups)
1/2 c. red wine
ground cumin
ground coriander

cook the onions, garlic, and spices for a bit in rendered ham fat. Add everything else and simmer it for a while (until the rice is done).

Serve with sour cream over rice.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Pressure Cooker++

Last night I made "Yellow Split Pea and Frankfurter Soup" (N. Lawson in the NYT) for dinner. It's pretty much a standard split pea soup recipe, so it needs to simmer for a bit over an hour. I really didn't feel like waiting that long, so I made the soup in my pressure cooker.

Ten minutes later it was done (well, ten minutes after coming to a boil). And it was good.

Split pea soup in about 30 minutes, including prep work... what could be better than that?

The one thing I'd do differently is add an additional cup of water (on top of the four cups of stock) before starting the cooking.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Getting organized

I had been collecting found recipes (mostly from the NYT) on a bunch of pieces of paper (4-5 recipes/sheet). This made finding things kind of a pain in the ass.

Sunday I got a bunch of 4x6 index cards and glued one recipe to each index card. It took a few hours, but the afternoon football game was boring anyway. Now I've got a bunch of color-coded cards in a convenient plastic box (it even has a lip on the top so that I can prop up the card holding a recipe while I'm using it... very nice, very nice).

I'm sure that in a couple months I'll discover that my color-coding scheme is stupid, but for now things are looking rosy. :-)

Monday, October 18, 2004

Sunday Dinner

It's a Bittman-inspired, Indian themed meal. :-)

Chickpea Raita (derived from an old Minimalist recipe)

Roasted Chickpeas (from Bittman): I let these spend some extra time in the oven (with the heat turned off) to get them good and crunchy. The results are really excellent.

Chicken in onion/yogurt sauce (this week's Minimalist recipe): mmm, chicken cooked in a big mess of caramelized onions and yogurt... what could be better than that?

I served the chicken with leftover curried pasta from last night, but it would be just as good with rice.

Saturday Dinner

I finally deployed the new pasta maker and did Curried Pasta (from FStoS). Once I figured out to use plenty of extra flour, I really got a big kick out of the whole pasta making thing. I did, of course, get flour all over the kitchen, but that's not the end of the world. Drying the noodles (linguine) on our laundry rack worked, but it would be nice to find some solution that allows the half-dried noodles to be removed without breaking them (either that or I should make the noodles longer so that they can be nice and long after they are broken).

I served the pasta with a sauce of peas, garlic, cubed country ham and butter/cream. The basic sauce recipe is from the Williams and Sonoma Pasta cookbook (gift from the parents), but I added the ham (also a gift from the parents!). I'm sure this recipe is good without it, but almost anything is better when you add some country ham. :-)

With this we had sauteed vegetables (eggplant, turnip, mushroom, onion, garlic) and a salad.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Pickle update


and the brine makes really good salad dressing.

Further catching up stuff

Tuesday dinner was risotto with peas and mushrooms (fresh creminis and powdered porcinis). I added a goodly amount of white wine to the risotto (1 cup at the beginning and 1/2 cup as it was about done), that was really good.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Friday Dinner

Butternut Spaetzle baked with cheese. Recipe from FStoS.

Thursday Dinner

For this I followed Andrea's recipe, but we tried using smoked salmon fins from the farmer's market fish guy on part of the sheet.
The salmon bit turned out a bit disappointing because the sweetness of the salmon didn't contrast enough with the onions... the salty bacon is definitely better.

Why look, I fell behind

Parents are in town, so I'm behind...

A series of "catch-up" posts to follow.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Monday's Dessert

Dinner was leftover chili and cornbread (and will be for a while).

Dessert was Poached Pears with Chocolate Sauce (from FStoS, but I added more cocoa to the sauce to make it a bit more bitter)
I haven't done poached pears before, so this was a learning experience. I apparently don't have a pot that's really appropriate for poaching pears (it needs to be narrow and high), so I had to constantly turn the pears to make sure everything was being poached. This means you need to poach for longer (which I did, but not longer enough), and that things don't poach evenly (the narrow part of the pear is immersed constantly).

The things still tasted awfully good.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Pickles update

They aren't quite done yet, but they already taste pretty damn good.

And the smell of the brine is just fantastic (which, of course, makes the waiting even harder).

Sunday's Bread

Standard Multigrain Bread

Bread Bible's hearth bread +
use 2 tsp kosher salt (instead of 1 1/2 tsp salt)
60 g millet
40 g flax
60 g sesame
60 g sunflower

Sponge is allowed to rise overnight at room temp.
Seeds are toasted before adding them.

Sunday's Dinner

A big pot of chili.
Served with cornbread (Big Flavors recipe + 1c. frozen corn kernels).

Ingredients (as I remember them):
1 lb buffalo, 1/2 lb beef, 1/2 lb lamb
1 "oil can" Fosters
~2 c chix stock
1/4-1/2 c. cider vinegar
~1/4 c. soy sauce
1 big can whole tomatoes
6 jalapenos
5 dried chipotles
2 green peppers
2 red onions
1 head garlic
ground pasilla chile (a couple Tbs)
ground new mexican chile (~1 Tbs)
adobo from canned chipotles
cumin (a couple Tbs)
freshly ground coriander
5 bay leaves
mexican oregano
unsweetened cocoa (~1 Tbs)

Saturday's Lesson

If you're gonna make caramelized apples, be sure that you start the caramel in a pan that's big enough so that you can stir the apples after you add them. Having to switch pans mid-stream leads to a big mess.

I ended up having to add too much cream (in order to dissolve the mess), but the result was still mighty tasty.

mmm... Apple-flavored caramel sauce...

Friday, October 01, 2004

Thursday Night

Chicken thighs steamed with the coconut chutney from Wednesday's Minimalist column (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/29/dining/291MREX.html). I put the (boneless, skinless) thighs on a piece of banana leaf, topped with the chutney, wrapped up the banana leaf, and then wrapped the whole thing in aluminum foil. Steamed them in a bamboo steamer for 40-45 minutes.

Served with basmati rice and curried daal.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Tuesday Night's Dinner

Hard Polenta (Bittman's Recipe I with 3.5c water and 1c medium polenta) topped with sauteed mushrooms (chantarelles, oysters, shitake, and cremini sauteed following the first recipe in From Simple to Spectacular) and a bit of mushroom syrup (from FStoS's mushroom bruschetta recipe).

Served with some leftover tomato confit from Sunday and a salad with tomato "vinaigrette" (Blend a tomato, a couple cloves roasted garlic, salt, and pepper. With the blender running slowly drizzle in some EV olive oil until happy with the texture/quantity.).

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The waiting is killlling me

Many recipes from Quick Pickles yield things that take a few days to reach maximum flavor, but you can always try them right away to get an idea of how they're gonna taste.

These damn fermented pickles have to ferment (imagine that) before they taste like anything. So I just have to WAIT and WAIT and WAIT...

Monday, September 27, 2004

Sunday's Food

Don't really know what to call this, but it was a layered thing with: tomato confit, tapenade, whipped ricotta cheese. Topped with a bit of fresh basil.
Tomato confit recipe from From Simple to Spectacular; tapenade made with 6 nicoise olives, 1 clove roasted garlic and 1/2 tsp of balsamic vinegar.

This was inspired by the "Gateau Froid de Brousse, Tapenade, Tomato" that Andrea had at Le Jardin de Manon in Arles.

Braised Halibut Provencal (From Simple to Spectacular, replace capers with nicoise olives)

Tangelo Creme Brulee (add 1 tsp tangelo zest to a half recipe of the creme brulee in From Simple to Spectacular and drop the vanilla, strain the custard into the dishes).
This was inspired by the mandarine infused creme brulee that Andrea got at Le Moutardier in Avignon. I think the proportions here were about right.

Other things:
Started a batch of "real" (i.e. fermented) dill pickles based on the "Kick-ass barrel pickle" recipe in Quick Pickles. I haven't done this before, so it'll be interesting to see how it turns out.