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.