Tuesday, December 20, 2005


In Germany for the holidays.

I'll try to do some updates, but it's going to be super slow until the new year.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Thursday Night: Southeast Asian

We had a friend over for dinner last night and I wanted to do something nice, but it had to be makeable in not much more than an hour. Aside from the soaking time for the cabbage, this meal fits that description:

App: Dungeness crabmeat mixed with a bit of lemon juice, black pepper, and sesame oil; served with thinly sliced scallions and diced mango with butter lettuce leaves to roll it up.

Salad: Shredded green cabbage and diced carrots; dressed with lime, lemongrass, ginger, toasted cumin and coriander seeds, sesame oil, canola oil. I soaked the cabbage in brine for a few hours first to soften it up. This could have used some 'tro, but we somehow didn't have any in the house.

Main course: Halibut steaks browned in the pan, then braised in a fish-sauce caramel with minced lemon grass, scallions, garlic, and loads of black pepper. Served with sticky rice.

This all came off rather well. :-)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Wednesday Night: Sambar and Rice

This was just the standard Sambar recipe from Dakshin, made with the last of the drumstick that we had in the freezer. What an odd vegetable that is. :-)

As always with recipes from that book, it was very good and left our house very aromatic.

Cauliflower Cleaning Tip

We've been eating leftover braised chicken and some cauliflower we picked up at the farmer's market and the roasted.

The problem with organic cauliflower is that it's frequently full of bugs. Sure, they're organic bugs, but it's still kind of gross. The trick I've come up with for cleaning cauliflower is this: cut it into pieces, drop the pieces into hot (like from the tap) salted water. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then rinse and brush the pieces. This seemed to work pretty well.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Hachiya Persimmons

On a whim, we got a few hachiya persimmons at the farmers market yesterday. I've only had them less than perfectly ripe (and thus deadly astringent) before, so this was a bit of a leap of faith for me. Boy was I rewarded. These things are like aromatic fruit pudding barely constrained by the skin. mmmm

I'm tempted to take the remaining one and toss it in the freezer for an hour or so to see if we end up with persimmon granita; but then I guess you'd lose the beautiful melty quality. hmmm.

Sunday Night: Braised Chicken with Root Vegetables

Last week's Minimalist column had this recipe for browned and braised whole chicken surrounded by root vegetables and a light cream sauce. That was totally irresistible sounding, so last night it was braised chicken all around. :-)

I followed the recipe pretty closely, though I couldn't resist a couple minor modifications:

2 Tbs butter
1 small (3 pound) chicken, trimmed
2 onions, sliced
2 large carrots (I used French carrots), 1/2" dice
1 large parsnip, 1/2" dice
8 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
2 large yukon gold potatoes, peeled, 3/4-1" dice
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup cream (I actually use 1/2 heavy cream, 1/2 milk)
1 bay leaf
1 sprig each thyme and lemon thyme
fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the chicken, breast-side down in the butter in a pan large enough to hold everything with a lid on it (my 12" everyday pan worked fine), sprinkling with salt and pepper. Flip the chicken and brown the other side, season it as you go.
Remove the chicken from the pan, pour out some of the fat, and add the onions, carrots, parsnips, and garlic. Cook until the onions start to take on some color, about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and mix well. Add the liquids and herbs (I included a bit of parsley as well), bring to a boil, lower the heat to get a simmer, cover and simmer until the chicken is done, 45 minutes or so.
Remove the chicken and vegetables, raise the heat and reduce the sauce a bit. Thicken with potato starch if you want, and adjust seasonings.

I actually forgot the garlic last night, but the dish was still awfully good.

We ate this with rice, lima beans, and a green salad.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Saturday Night: Westlake Fish Soup

We had a big lunch of leftover hobo pack, so dinner was more moderate: Westlake Fish Soup (from BittmanWorld, using tilapia as the fish) and a big green salad.

The soup was excellent: it's amazing the depth of flavor you can get from browned shallots, soy sauce, and some ground pepper (black and white).

Friday, December 02, 2005

Thursday Hobo Packs; Sauteed Broccoli Stems

The hobo packs were the sausage-and-potato kind from JPFF. We made this once before with an inappropriate sausage substitution. This time, using just mild italian sausage and polish-style sausage from Draegers, the results were much more satisfying.

To go along with the meat and potatoes, I steamed the broccoli stems we had leftover from the puree a couple nights ago and then sauteed them with some good olive oil and a splash of vermouth. I didn't really taste the vermouth, but the sauteed brccoli sure was good. :-)

To accompany came baguette and green salad.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Tuesday's Improv: Pasta and meatballs; Broccoli puree with beurre noisette

This started with the broccoli, which I picked up at the farmers market on Sunday. Pasta was a natural thing to have with it, particularly since there were still some sweet peppers left from our last CSA box. I added meatballs because there was a small amount of ground turkey in the freezer. So pretty much this is a "emptying the fridge" meal.

For the meatballs I mixed about 1/2 pound ground turkey with 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 thinly sliced scallions, sweet and smoked paprikas, and salt and pepper. I made the meatballs small (1" in diameter), and browned them in olive oil before adding them to the sauce at the last minute.

The sauce was a standard improv tomato sauce: onion, browned garlic, sweet peppers, red wine, tomatoes. Simple and good.

The broccoli recipe is from JPFF and I've made it before. This time I did use less broccoli, as I should. :-)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Sunday Night Korean

Sunday night we had kalbi jim (Korean braised short ribs, using ribs from our cow) and kimchi, both from recipes in BittmanWorld. I didn't plan particularly well, so I had to make a couple of substitutions when I made the marinade for the ribs on Saturday (an extra shallot for the scallions, a mixture of white wine and xiaoxing wine for the sake).

The kimchi, which we made with a mixture of napa cabbage and daikon radish, turned out great. The ribs were also very tasty, but somehow seemed "unfocused" in their flavor (to the extent that makes sense). This probably is because of the substitutions; the only thing for it is to try the recipe again and do it right. Soon! :-)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Thanksgiving redux

Karen and Jamshid hosted the big event and I helped cook. Stuff I made:

  1. Parkerhouse rolls: didn't turn out as well as those from last year.
  2. Baked sweet potatoes: baked in the skin, then peeled and reheated with butter at the last minute. This is a great way to get excellently concentrated flavor.
  3. Mushroom stuffing: I used one "sweet" batard and one sour batard for this. The sour component was a bit too potent and could be dropped or further diluted, but otherwise I thought this turned out well. There were complaints about there being either too many or too strongly flavored mushrooms. I used cremini instead of button mushrooms, which may be partially responsible? Worth keeping in mind for the future.
  4. Squash-leek soup with delicata squash. Similar to the one I made when Christina was visiting.
  5. Roasted green beans: salt the beans and cook them in a single layer at 425 for 10 minutes, flip them and roast another 10 minutes. They are shriveled and delicious and can bemicrowaved at the last minute to reheat.
  6. Gravy
The food overall was just right. :-)

Friday: Devilled porkchops; Bratkartoffeln; lima beans

I had a porkchop craving yesterday, so I made this "devilled porkchops" recipe from BittmanWorld. The only realy variation I did was to let the chops sit for a while after covering them with the mustard. We ate them on a bed of frisee (we got a nice head of frisee at last week's farmers markte), topped with a pan sauce.

For the potatoes, I diced them large (1" dice, or thereabouts), put them in cold water and brought it to a gently boil over medium heat. The idea was to end up with potatoes that were barely cooked (even a bit raw in the middle) and not all beat up so that they held together in the pan frying. This worked. :-)

We had lima beans as a side because I wanted to show Andrea what lima beans are.

This was good food.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Wednesday: Pasta with vegetable sauce

We needed to use up some remaining CSA vegetables, so last night I improv'ed a pasta sauce:

eggplant, 1 cm dice, about 2 cups (salted, rinsed, and drained if necessary)
orange peppers, small dice, about 1 cup
1/2 large red onion, small dice
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 anchovy
olive oil
chicken stock
salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper
1 Tbs butter
finely chopped parsley to top

Heat a couple Tbs olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add the anchovy. Cook, stirring, until the anchovy breaks down. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the onion and half the pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for another couple minutes until things start to soften. Add the eggplant and a pinch of red pepper and cook for another couple minutes. Add a bit of stock (1/4 cup or so), cover and let simmer until the eggplant is soft. Add more stock if necessary to keep it from getting dry. Add the remaining pepper and cook for another couple minutes. Stir in the butter and adjust seasonings.
If needed, thin with some pasta water before serving. Top with the parsley.

This sauce, served atop penne, made a nice dinner with a green salad on the side.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Black-eyed peas and collard greens

I originally was going to make the black-eyed peas and have the collards on the side, but I decided to just go for the whole beans-and-greens thing. That was a good idea:

1 cup dried black-eyed peas
1/2 red onion, medium dice
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2-4 oz smoked ham, cubed (I used the butts from a Niman Ranch "black forest ham", and that was good...)
1 bunch collard greens chopped (This was whatever size bunch we got from our CSA box, I think it was probably 1/2 pound)
neutral oil
extra chicken stock
salt and pepper

Pick through and rinse the black-eyed peas, then transfer them to a pot with a lid. Add water to cover by about 1/2 inch. Bring to a boil covered, then turn off the heat and let the beans soak for 4-6 hours.
Add the onion, garlic, and ham and bring to a gentle boil, covered. Add more water (or stock) if needed.
When the beans start to get tender, flash fry the greens in the oil and then add to the beans along with however much stock you need to make sure everything is covered.
Continue to simmer until the beans and greens are tender (about 20-30 minutes).
Adjust seasonings and serve.


  1. mmmm, beans and greens
  2. smoked ham hock would also work in this
  3. evidence on the plate seems to indicate that this might appreciate a hit of lemon juice. Vinegar would be more traditional, but lemon juice seems to go as well.

Tuesday Randomness

Last night we had a very colorful, very random mix of primarily vegetables on our plates:

  1. the remaining roasted pumpkin from Sunday
  2. brussels sprouts sauteed with garlic, lemon, and bread crumbs (from Bittman)
  3. black-eyed peas with collard greens[CSA] and ham (next post)
Though there's some argument for the brussels sprouts and the beans and greens to go next to each other (particularly that lemon), these didn't really go together. But they were all individually good, so there ya go.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sunday: Apple Butter

This was an idea Andrea and I had for a food gift for Christmas. I hadn't done apple butter before, so this was an adventure/learning experience. For proportions and basic technique I used the recipe in The Joy of Cooking.

The first time I tested this (much smaller quantity), I used a sweet apple and was not real pleased with how the apple butter turned out (it also didn't help that I added the optional lemon zest and had the inspiration of adding a bit of molasses: those two overpowered everything else and you couldn't taste apple at all). This time we picked out a mixture of granny smith and mutsu apples; I think the tartness of the apples really improves the apple butter.

Start with a goodly quantity of apples (about 5 pounds). Wash them, quarter them, and remove the cores and stems. Then throw them in a large pot with enough water to cover the bottom by about 1/4 inch, cover the pot, and let it simmer (low heat) until the apples get soft - an hour or more. Run the apples through a food mill (fine mesh) into a second, ovensafe, pot. Measure the pulp.
Add the spices: for about 5 cups of pulp, I added 2 cups of sugar, 4 cinnamon sticks, 6 cloves, and 6 allspice berries (crushed with the side of a knife).
Put the pot, uncovered, in a 275 degree oven for a good, long time, maybe 4 hours, maybe longer. Take it out every once in a while and give it a stir. (Theoretically, you can do this step in a crockpot too, but we don't have a crockpot.)
The apple butter is done when it seems appropriately thick and the color has changed to a nice caramel brown.
We then canned the apple butter in 8 oz jars (20 minutes in the canner).
We ended up with 6 jars, which isn't enough, so we'll be doing this again next weekend. :-)

Sunday Night Chinese

Last night we made a couple Chinese dishes from BittmanWorld: "shrimp with cabbage and black beans" and "chinese greens with oyster sauce" (though instead of greens we used broccolini from the farmers market). Both turned out nicely, though the shrimp would have benefited from a bit of cornstarch to thicken the sauce.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Saturday: Allium-Potato Soup

For dinner last night I adapted the "Garlic Soup" recipe from JPT to use up some alliums we had lying around. The primary stars in this very assertive soup are the leeks [CSA] and garlic:

4 leeks, including part of the green, sliced
8 cloves garlic, chopped
6 cloves braised garlic
1 large yellow onion, medium dice
1 pound starchy potatoes, peeled, medium dice
2 Tbs butter
4 Tbs olive oil from braising garlic
1 quart chicken stock
2 cups milk
2 cups water
Salt and white pepper
heavy cream, optional

Add the butter and oil to a soup pot over medium-high heat until the butter foams. Add the leeks, sprinkle with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften, 3-4 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and starts to take on a bit of color, about 10 minutes. Add the potato and cook, stirring frequently, for a couple of minutes.
Add the stock, milk, water, and some white pepper (maybe 1/2 tsp) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer until the potato pieces are cooked, 15-20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and homogenize thoroughly.
Return the (low) heat, taste for seasonings, and add a bit of heavy cream if the soup tastes too thin.
Serve with grind of black pepper and, optionally, some chives (we didn't have chives last night or I would have done this).

To accompany the soup, we had also had some good bread and a "Deconstructed Salad":
- Green leaf lettuce [CSA], ripped into bite-size pieces, dressed with salt, good olive oil, balsamico
- Threaded watermelon radish [CSA], lightly salted
- Threaded cucumber, lightly salted
- Roasted pumpkin chunks [CSA], dressed with salt, black pepper, good olive oil, fresh parsley [CSA], and a small amount of rice vinegar.
(Threaded = sliced using either a peeler or the ceramic slicer, then cut cross-wise into threads)
Each of the veggies was in a distinct pile on the plate, which made a nice arrangement.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Thursday night: Escarole and white bean soup

We had escarole from the CSA box, and this Bittman column from back in October was still in the back of my head, so last night we had soup:

1/4 cup olive oil
4 strips bacon, cut into small strips (lardons)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 dried cayenne peppers, sliced
1 good-sized head of escarole, cut into chunks
1 20 oz jar of white (cannellini) beans, drained
3 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
good olive oil for drizzling
Big croutons and parmesan cheese for serving.

Brown the bacon pieces in a pot over medium heat in the olive oil, then remove them from the pot. Add half of the garlic and all of the cayenne and saute for a minute or so. Add the escarole and a pinch of salt and saute for another minute or so, until it's coated with oil. Add the stock and beans, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the escarole is tender. Add back the bacon and the reserved garlic, let cook another minute or so.
Serve drizzled with the oil and topped with croutons and parmesan.

This was just excellent. Something (escarole and/or beans) leached a bunch of starch into the stock, making it nice and thick (mmm, unctuous), and the mild bitterness of the escarole plays off really well against the creaminess of the white beans. To complete dinner we had a green salad from the CSA box.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Microreview: Mike's Cafe in Menlo Park

This is the place that took over the old "Late for the Train" spot a while ago.

I went to Mike's for lunch today and was not even remotely impressed. They're borderline white tablecloth in terms of atmosphere, but the service was sloooooow and the food was both overpriced and dull.

I had fish and chips ($10.95) which was a few pieces of nicely breaded red snapper piled on some tired romaine lettuce and about 8 steak fries. The fish had a nice crust, but to call it flavorless is to give it far too much credit; this stuff seemed to destroy the flavor of the things around it on the plate. The fries were warm (not hot) and mushy inside.

Maybe they were having a bad day, but I won't find out, because I won't be going back.

I guess I miss Late for the Train.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Tuesday's Leftovers

In order to finish off the last of the sherry-braised beef from Sunday, last night I threw it into a pot with a jar of tomatoes, let it simmer for a bit, then served it over spaghetti with lemon zest, minced parsley, and a bit of grated manchego. It was spicy, Spanish-influenced, spag bol! We somehow didn't have much in the house in the way of vegetables, so to accompany that we had some glazed baby carrots.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Sherry-braised beef

This idea came about because I really wanted to make beef rendang yesterday but that wouldn't fit into the Spanish theme of the rest of the food. So I decided to improvise something like rendang but with Spanish flavors. This is what I came up with.

2 lb beef chuck roast, cut into 1-2 inch cubes/rectangles
2 heaping tsp smoked paprika
2 heaping tsp sweet paprika
2 heaping tsp ground cumin
1 cup dry sherry
salt and black pepper
olive oil

Combine the beef with the spices, 3/4 cup of sherry, and a healthy hit of salt and pepper. Let stand for a couple hours.
Heat some olive oil in a heavy skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat.
Add the beef chunks, letting excess marinade drip back into the bowl, and brown well. Do this in stages so that the pan doesn't get too crowded. Watch the heat level so the spices don't burn.
When the beef pieces are nicely browned, transfer them to a nonstick pan with a lid that will hold them in a single layer.
Deglaze the skillet with the remaining 1/4 cup of sherry, then pour this over the beef chunks in the other pan. Pour the marinade left in the bowl over the beef.
Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 2-3 hours, until the liquid is absorbed and the beef is fork tender. If the pan is dry before the beef is done, add a bit of stock.

This stuff was *good*. Using meat from our cow probably helped, but I'm sure "normal" beef probably would also have been excellent.

Roasted pepper timbale with garlic vinaigrette

This was an improvisation that came about because we had loads of extra peppers from the farmers market and we were roasting pimentos anyway. I used several different varieties of smaller peppers (red, green, yellow, orange, none of them bell peppers), roasted them in the broiler, and then peeled them by hand (not using water). This doesn't taste any better than it would if you just dressed the peppers with the vinaigrette, but it sure does look nice. :-)

To make the timbale:
3/4 cup roasted pepper strips
salt, pepper
parsley leaves

Mix the pepper strips with some salt, pepper, and a squirt of lemon.
Oil the inside of a 6 oz ramekin, line it with plastic wrap. and oil the inside of the wrap with good olive oil.
Arrange some parsley leaves nicely on the bottom of the lined ramekin.
Pack in the pepper strips and fold the plastic wrap over the top.
Put the ramekin in the fridge with a weight on top of it for an hour or so.
Gently demold the timbale onto a plate, remove the plastic wrap, surround it with vinaigrette, serve.

Garlic vinaigrette (quantities here are very approximate):

1 Tbs lemon juice
2-3 Tbs braising oil from making braised garlic
1 anchovy fillet
2 Tbs water
1 tsp balsamico
1 Tbs parsley leaves
salt and pepper

Combine the lemon juice, anchovy, parsley, and oil in a minichop with some pepper. Blend well to form an emulsion. Add the water. Blend well. Add the balsamico and blend well. Adjust seasonings.
This emulsion seemed pretty stable last night.

Sunday Tapas Madness

Yesterday friends came over and I made a series of "small plate" things:

  1. Sauteed almonds (BittmanWorld)
  2. Roasted pimentos rolled around iberico cheese
  3. Almond meatballs (BittmanWorld, but I used ground turkey and rolled the meatballs in bread crumbs instead of flour)
  4. Roasted pepper timbales with garlic vinaigrette (see subsequent post)
  5. Mushrooms with Sherry (BittmanWorld)
  6. Garlic shrimp ("My favorite shrimp" from Bittman)
  7. White beans with chorizo and braised garlic
  8. Yellow rice (BittmanWorld)
  9. Oranges with pickled onions (quick pickled with salt, lime, and fresh OJ)
  10. Sherry-braised beef (see subsequent post)
Jon and Cati also brought a big green salad with celery root and an orange dressing.

Doing tapas is a fantabulous way to get to make loads of things at once. Hoo boy did we eat well. :-)

Saturday's Home fries

I did home fries for breakfast on Saturday and there a couple things I should take note of:

  1. I wrung out the shredded potatoes using a towel (trick from making Reibekuchen), which really helps keep the moisture down.
  2. I didn't use any flour or egg or other binder, just shredded potatoes, onions, and salt and pepper. Proportions: two good sized baking potatoes to one small yellow onion.
Aside from the usual difficulties that accompany shallow frying instead of deep frying, these turned out really well.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Thursday night: Southeast Asian Chicken Saute

This was the second way of the "Southeast Asian chicken two ways" from BittmanWorld. I used bone-in chicken thighs and added some minced lemongrass to the spice mixture.
I also flash fried some collard greens [CSA] with spring onions and a bit of rice vinegar.

We accompanied these two delights with sticky rice and a green salad. I do love that caramel/fish sauce component of Vietnamese food, oh yes I do.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Wednesday Night: Steak with Mushrooms, Sauteed Vegetables

We've been building up to needing to make a batch of sauteed vegetables for a while -- to help empty some of the CSA stuff out of the fridge. Last night was the night.
Approximate quantities: 4 strips bacon, 1 leek, 1 delicata squash, 4 "french" carrots, 1 1/2 turnips (one yellow, 1/2 red-top; this ends up being about 2 cups diced turnip), 2 cups diced eggplant, 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig marjoram (dried), 2 Tbs chopped frozen basil.
I served the vegetables drizzled with good olive oil and with a spoon of parsley/garlic (overly strong parsley/garlic... whoa).

To go with the vegetables, I sauteed the last of the chateaubriand (used in the pho). I salted and peppered the steak liberally, sauteed it in about a Tbs of butter until all sides were nicely browned, then transferred to the 300 degree toaster oven. To make a sauce I deglazed with a chopped shallot and about 1/2 cup of red wine, reduced the wine heavily, added about a cup of chopped oyster mushrooms, cooked until they were soft, added a bit more wine and another dab of butter.

We also had a green salad. Everything was most excellent, though the vegetables could have used a bit of potato to tame those turnips.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tuesday Night: Cookies

I couldn't just do nothing last night, so I made a batch of cookies. :-)

I made a half batch of "The World's Best Cookies" from San Francisco a la Carte (get the recipe using Amazon's amazing "Search Inside the Book" feature).

Though they have a goofy name, these are really nice cookies: they keep a long time, have a good variety of flavors, and aren't overly sweet. Needless to say, I don't do the "sprinkle the finished cookies with sugar" thing.

leftover leftovers!

The downside of all that cooking on the weekend is that we end up with so many leftovers that there's no cooking during the week.

Damn tasty leftovers though.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Sunday's Roast

Last night I made two things from BittmanWorld -- pork stuffed with prunes and apricots, and braised red cabbage [CSA] with apples [CSA]-- as well as a batch of mashed potatoes with turnips.

For the two Bittman things I pretty much followed the recipes in the book, aside from using a "ribeye" roast of pork. For the potatoes I used a 2:1 ratio of yukon gold potatoes [CSA] to turnip; I cooked the turnips by dicing and roasting them to prevent them from getting soggy.

We were both very happy with the food.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Saturday Night: Pho

When I flipped through BittmanWorld the first time and saw a pho recipe, there wasn't much doubt that I'd have to give it a try. Since it's definitely a weekend prep, and Andrea was very enthusiastic, we made this yesterday.

I pretty much followed the recipe, though I used "beef knuckles" from Draegers (some piece of leg bone with a substantial chunk of meat still attached) instead of plain bones and chateaubriand instead of sirloin.

This recipe is really simple, it's just time consuming and is certainly a form of torture as the whole house fills with the smell of star anise, cloves, and ginger. But the results are certainly worth it: Pho is just soooo good.


  1. The beef knuckles are meaty enough that I would have been fine leaving the chuck out of the recipe entirely. They have a great flavor and enough connective tissue that they'd probably make a really good roast or braise on their own... Something to remember now that we're in roasting and braising season. :-)
  2. Even though we pre-heated the bowls (we pretty much always warm plates and bowls these days, it's great), and used boiling broth, there was enough cold stuff in the bowls that the soup wasn't as hot as we liked. So we tossed the finished bowls in the microwave for a minute after assembling them. It would be better to do this before adding the thinly sliced beef and herbs.
  3. I resisted the temptation to add lemongrass to the broth, because I thought it might overpower the other ingredients. That was probably the right decision, because the broth is fairly subtle (at least by my standards), but I'd still like to try adding some lemongrass at some point.

New Cookbook

Last week I found out about the publication of Mark Bittman's new Best Recipes in the World. It's a stupid name -- it reminds me too much of the America's Test Kitchen titles -- but how could I possible resist a new Bittman book? Particularly one with loads of recipes from places other than France, Italy, and the US? The answer to that is pretty easy: I couldn't.

After paging through most of the book, I'm very happy with it.

I'm sure to be using this book frequently, so it's getting a new abbreviation: BittmanWorld. Now I just have to go through my box of index cards and throw out all those Minimalist recipes that are in there. :-)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Note to my future self about beurre blanc

It seems that beurre blanc, or whatever it is that I make when I try to make beurre blanc, isn't half so fragile as I believed.

I made a batch on Sunday night and it's been sitting, covered, at room temp since then. When we've wanted to use it, we just throw it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds and then whisk it a bit. The sauce comes right back together and tastes fine. I'm sure that I would notice some difference if I were a super taster, but I'm not, so I don't.

This is just fabulous for Andrea and I: we both like beurre blanc a lot, but it's a bit too much of a hassle to make for a single dish. Plus making only two servings is pretty much impossible. So being able to make a half recipe from Techniques and eat it over the course of a couple meals is most excellent.

Thursday night steaks

I fried up a couple of "tenderized round steaks" from our cow last night for dinner. To go along with them I made a quick sauce from: chopped parsley [CSA], chopped garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, a teeny bit of balsamico, toasted cumin seeds, sweet paprika, salt, and pepper.

As sides we had some roasted golden beet (from Wednesday), steamed broccoli [CSA] with beurre blanc (from Sunday), and a green salad[CSA].

For dessert we made an apple galette using the leftover (frozen) crust from Saturday's quiche.


  1. Beurre blanc isn't quite as perfect a match fro broccoli as beurre noisette, but it was still quite good.
  2. The beets -- dressed with white balsamico, good olive oil, salt, and pepper -- continue to be enjoyable. Yay
  3. The steaks were very flavorful, but not so tender. No big surprise there and I'd much rather have it that way than the other way around!
  4. Unsurprisingly given how well the crust on the quiche turned out, the galette was really, really good. This is a great use of that leftover blob of crust that I always end up with I make quiche.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Wednesday Night: Winter Vegetable Soup

Last night we made some progress on using up stuff from two CSA boxes (last week and this week). I improvised a soup from leeks, delicata squash, carrots, onions, garlic, and chicken stock. I also roasted some golden beets and we had a green salad with some julienned watermelon radish.

The soup was fabulous. Surprisingly, the beets didn't taste too much like dirt, so Andrea and I both liked them; I guess maybe we only really dislike red beets.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Tuesday Night Curry

Last night I did a Thai red curry with shrimp, eggplant, and fresh shitake mushrooms. We were going to make a red cabbage salad, but we forgot. doh! Luckily there was plenty of delicious curry.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Monday Night: Farmers Market Treats

At Sunday's farmers market we picked up some nice looking artichokes and chantarelles. That pretty much set last night's menu: Steamed Artichokes with Beurre Blanc and Sauteed Chantarelles on Polenta.

I kept the chantarelle prep simple: I just sauteed the sliced mushrooms in olive oil with a bit of fresh thyme, some salt, and a small splash of balsamico. I drizzled the final dish with some black truffle oil and a sprinkle of chopped parsley before serving.

We also had a salad with mixed greens from our CSA box and some arugula from the farmers market.

For dessert I made a raspberry gratin (from JPFF).

Monday, October 31, 2005

Sunday Dinner Party

Jon and Cati did a petite sirah tasting last night followed by dinner. I brought a chicken-squash stew (from Big Flavors), served in a pumpkin, and a big pan of cornbread. For the stew, which ended up really nice, recipe deviations were:

  1. I used chicken thighs instead of a cut up whole chicken. I boned the thighs and diced the meat after it was finished cooking so that the stew was easier to eat.
  2. I used self-canned tomatoes instead of fresh ones.
  3. I replace 1 Tbs of the cayenne with 1 tsp of smoked paprika; I thought the flavor of the paprika would work well and I didn't want to blow peoples' heads off too quickly.
  4. I didn't add the lemon juice to the stew, but put it in a pitcher on the table for people to add on their own. I was afraid that the lemon would not go well with the wine, so I wanted to offer people the choice.
For future reference: I think this actually was a good pairing with the bigger petite sirahs we tried.

Saturday Night Quiche

I realized that it had been quite a while since I made a quiche, and quiche is good, so Saturday that's what I did.
As usual I used the crust recipe from Bittman, replacing 1 Tbs of cold water with cider vinegar.
The egg-base for the filling was also from Bittman (6 eggs, 2 cups milk). I also added some cubed bacon, spinach [CSA], minced onion, and smoked paprika.

To accompany the quiche, which was excellent, we had some broccoli sauteed with garlic in butter, topped with minced shallots.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Thursday Leftovers

To go along with the leftover steak au poivre from Wednesday night, we made a quickie pasta sauce using some sauteed eggplant [CSA] and the leftover tomato sauce from the weekend. We also had a green salad.
mmm, leftovers

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wednesday Night: Steak au Poivre

I made this from the recipe in Bourdain using the piece of ribeye (from our cow) that's been aging in the fridge since Monday. The aging definitely helped some in improving the flavor of the meat, but we still weren't thrilled with it. The sauce was, as expected, delicious.

We had the steak with leftover gratin from Tuesday and some sauteed spinach.

Tuesday Night Gratin

er, I'm a bit behind on this one. On Tuesday night I made another potato-celery root gratin, this time sticking more or less to the potato gratin recipe in How to Cook Meat (well, I added sauteed onions and bacon).

This turned out very well: getting the quantities right and pre-boiling the potatoes in the milk/cream mixture actually really helps (imagine that!). The one problem is that the pre-boiling technique precludes getting nice layers in the gratin dish. Oh well.

We had the gratin with the leftover ribeye with parsley/sherry sauce and figs from Monday night.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Monday night: steak and leftovers

Last night I made the entree we had originally planned for Sunday: "pan-seared delmonico steakwith parsley-sherry sauce and roasted figs", from How to Cook Meat, using one of the ribeyes from our cow. The dish was good, but Andrea and I were kind of disappointed by the flavor of the steak itself -- it just wasn't as good as some of the other cuts we've had. The other half of that package of beef is drying in the fridge, so we'll see if that makes a difference tomorrow.

To accompany the steak, we had leftover rice pilaf (from stuffing squash on Saturday) and potato-celery root gratin along with a green salad.

An aside: though it's not as nice while entertaining, it certainly is convenient to be able to close the kitchen door when doing pan-seared steaks!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Sunday Night: Gratin and Salad

After yesterday's hike I didn't have the energy/motivation to make the full dinner I had planned, so we just made a gratin with potato [CSA], celery root, onion, shallots, bacon, and Emmenthaler. To accompany that we had a big green salad. It's nice to have cooler weather so that we can start having more gratins and stews. :-)

Dessert was black mission figs poached (briefly) in a mixture of water, port and campari with a pinch of cayenne and black pepper (sauce recipe from JPT). I thickened this with cornstarch and we ate it over vanilla ice cream. I think the sauce could do with a bit more sweet, but this was still a very interesting dessert.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Stuffed Acorn Squash

This is a random idea that had been kicking around in my head for a while; last night we put it to the test.

1 acorn squash, halved and de-seeded
1/2 cup brown basmati rice
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 onion, fine dice
1/2 cup diced red cabbage
1/2 cup diced shitake mushrooms
1/4 cup dry white wine
10 raw almonds, slivered
salt and black pepper
olive oil

Cook the brown rice in the chicken stock with a pinch of salt.
Put the squash halves split-side up in a baking dish, season them with salt and pepper and drizzle on some olive oil. Bake at 400 until they start to get soft, 30-40 minutes.
Get a Tbs of olive oil hot in a pan and add the onion. Cook for a couple minutes, until the onion starts to soften. Add the cabbage and cook for another few minutes, until it starts to soften. Add the shitakes and cook until they give up their moisture and start to brown, another couple minutes. Add the wine and let it reduce by about half. Add the cooked rice and mix well. Cook for another couple of minutes until the liquid is gone. Adjust seasonings.
Stuff the squash halves with the pilaf and top with almond slivers.
Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes, until the top is crunchy and the almonds start to take on some color.

These were really nice. I have to pat myself on the back a little bit for the balance of the dish: with the acidity of the wine playing off against the sweetness of the squash and the almonds complementing the nuttiness of the rice.

Garlicky Reduced Tomato Sauce

The idea for this sauce came from Marcella Hazan's "Tomato Sauce with Butter" recipe, though I gave up the wonderful clarity and simplicity of that recipe. I'm not sure I'd want to use this on pasta, though it might work on something really rustic (like "rags").

1 16oz jar tomatoes
1/2-1 cup red wine
8 cloves of garlic, very coarsely chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients to a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook at a gentle boil until the tomatoes have broken down and the volume is reduced by half or more, 45 minutes to an hour. Stir occasionally (more frequently towards the end) to prevent it from burning to the bottom of the pan.
Homogenize with a stick blender; this will also emulsify the sauce and beat in some air, so the color will lighten up a lot.
Adjust seasonings and serve.

Saturday Overview

Yesterday was a pretty busy kitchen day, so I'll do an overview post and then follow with a couple recipes.

Things I made that weren't dinner:

  1. a loaf of bread: I used the hearth bread recipe this time to add some variety. We haven't tried any yet, but it looks awfully good
  2. a pot of beef stock: this still needs to be reduced some; I'll take care of that today
  3. a batch of "fiery pumpkin seeds" using the seeds from Andrea's Halloween pumpkin. The recipe for these is from Bittman, though I used a mixture of new mexican and pasilla chile powders
For dinner I sauteed the remaining mahi mahi fillets and served them on top of a garlic-laden reduced tomato sauce (recipe to follow). Our side dishes were creamed spinach (from Bittman) and stuffed acorn squash (recipe to follow). This was another wonderful meal.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Thursday night: Fish Tacos

To go with these we had oven-browned potatoes, pintos, and the leftover red cabbage with cilantro-lime vinaigrette from Wednesday night.

1/2 lb mahi mahi fillet, cut into 1/2" thick planks
flour (about 1/8 cup)
salt, cayenne, paprika, black pepper
oil for frying
shredded red cabbage, soaked in brine for a couple of hours then wrung out
1 canned chipotle, minced
2 Tbs sour cream
1 Tbs heavy cream
cilantro leaves
flour tortillas
lemon wedges

Start by making a sauce from the chipotle, sour cream, and cream. You want to add enough cream so that it's pourable. Add salt to taste.
Put the flour on a plate and season it well with the salt, cayenne, paprika, and pepper.
Heat about 1/4" of oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot, dredge the fish pieces through the flour, shake off any excess, and add to the pan.
Cook the fish for 2-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown, then drain on paper towels.
Assemble a taco by placing a couple pieces of fish in a tortilla, squirting on a bit of lemon, topping it with cabbage and cilantro, and then drizzling on some sauce.

These were damn good. It's probably worth trying a real batter for this at some point, I can imagine the results would also be quite nice.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Wednesday Leftovers

To go with the leftover curried squash soup, I made a salad of shredded red cabbage soaked in brine for a while, and julienned radish [both are CSA]. The dressing was a vinaigrette/mayonaise made with cilantro, garlic, lime juice, egg yolk, canola oil.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Tuesday Night: Butternut Squash Soup

We had a butternut squash (missing seeds, weird!) from last week's CSA box and some good chicken stock in the fridge, so butternut squash soup was bound to happen; last night it did. I used the Curried Squash Soup recipe from FStoS, but I used masaman curry paste instead of yellow curry paste (that's what we had in the fridge) and didn't add the lime until the soup went in the bowl.

Whoever came up with the "fusion" idea of combining butter with southeast asian stuff should be given the Nobel food prize.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Sunday Night Skewers

Last night we had wine and apps with some friends. To go with the Zinfandel they were serving, we made lamb kebabs from License to Grill. The lamb was marinaded in parsley, mint, garlic, and lemon zest then grilled on skewers with red pepper, onion, and fresh figs. To play contrast, there's a quince-ginger chutney on the side. mmm, grilled lamb and figs with chutney.

Saturday Catchup

For lunch on Saturday I made onion sandwiches from JPT and a improv'ed chicken soup with tomatoes and a bit of chorizo. After eating a raw-onion sandwich, the soup was a nice change. :-)

Later in the day I managed to cut the crap out myself while dicing an onion and not paying sufficient attention to what I was doing. Andrea ended up suffering more from this than I did, because she then had to take over the prep work for dinner while I moved into a supervisory role. heh

For dinner we went "bistro" and had three dishes from FStoS: roast tomatoes stuffed with greens (with verbena ricotta cheese instead of goat cheese), mashed potatoes with Dijon mustard and vermouth topped with crispy shallots, and pan-fried steaks ("tenderized round steaks" from our cow) with red-wine and garlic sauce. That was good food.

Dessert was absolutely not required.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Wednesday Night: Sauteed Vegetables, Tomato-Pasta Gratin

We got a new CSA box, so last night we needed to finish out the stuff left from previous boxes and get a start on this one. Sauteed vegetables is always a good way to use up a ton of stuff quickly, so that was one of last night's dishes. I kept trying to figure out a way to get cheese involved in the meal (mashed potatoes with cheese? polenta with cheese?) and finally realized that what I wanted was macaroni and cheese.

The mix for the sauteed vegetables was: bacon, carrots [CSA], onions, eggplant [CSA], potato [CSA], dandelion greens. For serving, I topped it with a mixture of minced parsley [CSA], minced garlic, and grated lemon peel to liven things up a bit.

To make the pasta gratin, I started with a sauce veloute (butter, flour, chicken stock) and added white wine (what do you call a sauce veloute with wine?), cayenne, and grated Emmenthaler and Romano cheeses. I poured this over some mostly-cooked farfalle mixed with diced San Marzano tomatoes [CSA] in a grated dish. After topping with a bread crumb/minced garlic/olive oil mixture, I baked it at 400 until brown and crunchy.

To go with this goodness we had a bit of leftover chicken and another apple galette, made with the second half of Sunday night's dough, for dessert.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Tuesday Night: Leftover Chicken, Braised Red Cabbage, Pea Pod Soup

We're going to be eating leftover roast chicken all week. :-)

Last night I sauteed some chunks of chicken in a bit of olive oil and served them with the leftover pan sauce. To go with that I made sweet and sour braised cabbage using the half head of red cabbage leftover from Saturday. The star was the pea pod soup, made from a recipe in JPT using the pods from Sunday's peas and enriched with a bit of cream.

The sharp, assertive cabbage complemented the subtle, creamy soup really nicely. This was a pleasant surprise because I was a little worried that the cabbage would overwhelm the soup.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sunday Dessert: Apple galette

We (Andrea did most of the work) followed the recipe for a country apple tart in JPT, but used braeburn apples instead of golden delicious. We ate the tart with a dollop of sour cream thinned with heavy cream and were very, very happy. This isn't a particularly sweet or rich dessert, so it was just perfect for yesterday.

Sunday: Tomatoes stuffed with lemon-verbena cheese and tapenade

The last time we made something like this was back when I started this blog. The idea was to reproduce a dish that Andrea had eaten when we were in Provence, and it worked pretty well. We didn't manage to flavor the cheese (brousse) with lemon verbena like it was in Arles, but the app was still damn tasty.

When we saw some lemon verbena at a stand at the Ferry Building farmers' market up in the city on Saturday I knew it was time to make this again.

To start with, I made a half batch of ricotta cheese using a very useful recipe I found back in May. While the milk was heating (in a double boiler this time!), I added about half a cup of loosely packed lemon verbena leaves. I left the herbs in until the milk was close to done, then skimmed them out with a slotted spoon. This lent the milk a great verbena flavor. After making the cheese and draining it very well (I wanted something drier than typical ricotta), I got a cheese with a mild lemon verbena flavor. Clearly a lot of the flavor went with the whey, so it wouldn't have hurt to add more verbena and/or to steep it longer. Still, the cheese is really nice as it stands; and no burnt flavor this time. Double boiler++.

Yesterday was too busy to make tomato confit, so I hollowed out the tomatoes and filled them with a bit of tapenade (6 olives nicoise, one clove minced garlic, 1/2 minced anchovie, balsamico) and cheese, baked them at 425 for about 20 minutes, and let them cool down almost to room temp. I topped each one with another blob of tapenade, a basil leaf, and the top of the tomato and served them on a tomato jus (the tomato guts, pureed and strained, with a drop or two of Tabasco and some salt).

These were beautiful and very tasty.

Sunday Cooking Fest

Yesterday was Vietnamese, today was more French/Mediterranean. We started with roasted tomatoes filled with tapenade and lemon-verbena ricotta cheese (recipe to follow) as an app, then for dinner had roasted chicken, fresh peas with pearl onions and lettuce, and roasted potatoes. We'll be having an apple galette for dessert if we are ever hungry again... the galette is sitting in the kitchen waiting to be eaten.

This was a great meal. Some notes:

  1. For the chicken I made a paste of garlic, parsley, cumin, sweet paprika, pimenton, salt and black pepper. I rubbed this in the cavity and under the breast skin. I stuffed the chicken with onions and put more onion in the pan. To make a sauce I deglazed the pan with white wine, strained the sauce into a clean saucepan and thickened with potato starch. The pan drippings didn't need to be defatted as I had already removed a lot of the larger fat deposits for the potatoes.
  2. We roasted the potatoes in the body fat from the chicken, which I removed from the bird before cooking and rendered down. Andrea seasoned the diced potatoes (1/2" dice) with salt, pepper, sweet paprika, and cumin.
  3. The pea recipe is from JPT, and it's great.

Sunday Bread

This morning I made a loaf of the flaxseed bread so that we have good sandwich possibilities this week.

Saturday Vietnamese

I started this menu with the desire to make "Grilled Skirt Steak with Vietnamese 'Chimichurri'" from a Bittman column a few weeks ago. Then, since I was starting with Vietnamese, I figured I might as well stay there, so I accompanied the skirt steak with two Bittman adaptations of dishes from Charles Phan: "Jicama Salad with Grapefruit" and "Bok Choy with Shitakes". We also made up a batch of sticky rice to soak up the various sauces.

We didn't end up finding any grapefruit at the market, so I substituted valencia oranges in the salad recipe without making things taste bad. :-)

I hardly need to say this, but: mmmm, Vietnamese food.

Saturday breakfast: waffles

Yesterday's breakfast (and today's!) was yeasted waffles. We topped them with plum jam and the last of the leftover cherries from last weekend.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Plum jam experiment

We had some nice prune plums that were starting to get too soft, so last night I tried a jam experiment (really it was a Pfluemli experiment, but there's little chance that would work). I put the pitted plums in a pan with a bit of water, some sugar, a couple cloves, a couple lightly crushed allspice berries, and a bit of cinnamon.

I simmered this covered for about an hour, until the plums were pretty broken down. Then I ran it through the food mill (fine mesh), put it back on the stove, and added some liquid pectin and a bit of lemon juice.

After getting it back to a simmer. I removed it from the heat, transferred to a yogurt container, let it cool to room temp, and then tossed it in the fridge.

This morning it's not as thick as I'd like -- more time cooking with the lid off is probably wise -- but the jam does have a nice flavor.

This is no Pfluemli, but it'll work well on cereal.

Thursday Leftovers

Our main course for last night was split peas and ham from deep in the freezer. To accompany this, I roasted some eggplants [CSA] with garlic and shallots and we had a green salad. I drizzled balsamico over the eggplant on serving to give it a bit of acidity.

We had some pickled turnips on the side - these are now done and they taste great. The liquid also proves to be a good base for salad dressing.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Tuesday Pickles

We got turnips in last week's CSA box, and we're out of pickles, so I opted to make turnip pickles last night. I am pickling them in gin and citrus (following a Quick Pickles) recipe, using mainly small (< 2 inch) turnips.

Now there's that damn waiting for the pickles to finish. Damn waiting.

Tuesday Night Indian

It had been a while since I had made Indian food and were both kind of craving something different after all the Sauerbraten of the past few days, so last night I made a couple recipes out of Dakshin: Lemon Rasam and Eggplant Rasavangy (using CSA eggplant). This was the first rasam I had done from that cookbook and we were both very happy with it. It's nice to have something "thin" to follow a richer curry (though due to some logistical errors on my part, we actually had the rasam first). The rasavangy was a repeat, an awfully good repeat.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Monday: Leftover Sauerbraten, roasted cauliflower, flash-fried greens

To go with some leftover sauerbraten, we roasted up a head of CSA cauliflower, made a green salad, and flash-fried some turnip greens with bacon and cider vinegar.

mmm, greens with bacon and vinegar. :-)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Saturday Night: Oktoberfest Dinner

Well Oktoberfest may have already happened, but we used it as the theme for a dinner party last night anyway. The menu was:

  1. Starters: Weisswurst (from Dittmers) with sweet mustard; Reibekuchen with apple sauce
  2. Mains: Sauerbraten, Kartoffelknoedel, green beans, green salad with sour-cream dressing (from a Bittman column a long time ago).
  3. Dessert: Reisfladen with sour cherry sauce and sour cream.
  1. I somehow managed to burst the wurst. I guess I should have poked them with a fork a few times before boiling them. Ah well, they still tasted good, though I really prefer a good grilled Thueringer.
  2. The Reibekuchen recipe is from my Niederrhein cookbook. We once again used the pre-cook, hold in a 250 degree oven, refresh in hot pan trick and that worked great. The food-processed apple sauce was also more pleasing.
  3. The Sauerbraten recipe is from How to Cook Meat, but I used an eye of round roast and subbed a mixture of red wine and cider vinegar for the balsamico they call for. I also used more tomatoes (two pint cans), allowed the roast to cool in the sauce for a bit before skimming, and homogenized the sauce with the stick blender after skimming.
  4. For the Knoedel I started from the potato dumpling recipe in How to Cook Meat, but I replaced some of the flour with bread crumbs and used way less flour than the recipe called for anyway. I prefer the lighter, more tender Knoedel you get with less flour. To make dinner go more smoothly, I par-boiled the dumplings in batches for 7-8 minutes early in the day and then tossed them back in the stock (chicken + beef + water) in group for 5 or 6 minutes just before serving. I garnished the bowl with a healthy bit of chives.
  5. The Reisfladen were made on Thursday.
  6. To make the topping for the Reisfladen, I reduced the syrup from two jars of sour cherries, with a bit of sugar (a few Tbs). To thicken the sauce I used a couple Tbs of corn starch. As a final "enrichment" I also added a bit of brandy.
I think overall the meal was a great success. It's definite that our kitchen looks like a bomb went off in it, and that's always a good sign. :-)

Friday, September 30, 2005

Thursday Night: Reisfladen success

We haven't tasted this yet, but based on the last experiment I'm confident the flavor will be ok. The texture and color are excellent. Here's the final recipe, which makes two Reisfladen:

Rice Filling:
200 g short-grain rice (I used Japanese sweet rice)
800 g milk
1 pinch salt
150 g sugar
2 tsp vanilla paste
grated zest of one lemon
4 egg yolks
3 egg whites

Combine the rice with the milk and salt and cook, uncovered, over medium to medium-low heat for 25-30 minutes, until the mixture is fairly thick and the rice is tender.
Remove from the heat and mix in the sugar.
In a separate bowl mix the vanilla, lemon zest, and egg yolks.
When the rice mixture has cooled some (and you're not worried about it scrambling the eggs), pour it into the bowl with the egg mixture and mix well.
Let cool completely to room temp.
When ready to use: beat the egg whites to firm peaks then fold them into the rice mixture.

Yeast Crust:
300 g all purpose flour
60 g butter
2 Tbs sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp active dry yeast
125 g milk, lukewarm
2 eggs, beaten

Cut the butter into pieces and pulse it with about half the flour in a food processor until it is well integrated.
Transfer all the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the middle.
Into the well add and mix well: the yeast, a good pinch of sugar, a bit of milk. Stir in a bit of the flour from the edge of the well and wait 5-10 minutes, until you see signs of yeast activity.
Sprinkle the salt and the rest of the sugar around the outside of the well.
Add the remaining milk and the eggs to the well and mix everything together using the standard "bread making with a well" technique.
Mix in enough additional flour to make the contents of the bowl a stick dough instead of a thick batter, then turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface.
Work the dough, adding flour to enable you to do so, for about five minutes, until it's nice and satiny.
Form a ball, put in a bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled (it took about 30-40 minutes last night).

Assembling the Reisfladen:

You want to build these in a tart pan with a removable bottom.

Divide the dough into two pieces. For each of the two Reisfladen:
Roll the dough circle out until it's quite thin and 2-3 inches larger than the tart pan. Transfer it to the floured tart pan, gently press it down on the side and smooth the bottom, pinch around the sides, and use the rolling pin along the edge of the pan to cut the dough to size. You'll have leftover dough.
Transfer the tart pan to a baking sheet and fill it with half of the rice mixture.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until the crust and top are nicely browned and there's not much jiggle left in the middle.
Remove from the rim of the tart pan, let the Reisfladen cool on a rack, then store in the fridge.
Serve cool.

We're going to top these with sour cherries and a sauce made from the syrup they're packed in, but the Reisfladen are also good on their own.

Thursday Dinner: An excuse to use up the beurre blanc

We still had a good portion of beurre blanc left over from Wednesday, so I kind of structured last night's menu to use it up.
We had: Pan-seared sole fillets and steamed potatoes ("Pommes Anglaise" from JPT: cut yukon gold potatoes into 1.5" pieces, put them in an oiled bamboo steamer and steam for 20-25 minutes) sprinkled with minced shallots and chopped parsley [CSA], served with the beurre blanc; braised carrots; a leftover artichoke; and turnip greens [CSA] flash-fried with pimentos [CSA] and garlic.

The dessert was Andrea's idea: I rolled out the leftover dough from the reisfladen (next post), stuffed it into ramekins, sprinkled it with a bit of sugar, and then baked it. The yeast dough expands too much for these to be effective cups, but they make kind of flower shapes. We filled them with macerated strawberries [CSA] and topped them with a bit of sour cream.


  1. I saved the beurre blanc by storing it at room temp (covered with plastic), gently microwaving it (40 seconds at 40% power), and then vigorously whisking back in the small amount that broke. This turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be and the sauce didn't particularly suffer for it. The flavor was still excellent.
  2. Beurre blanc goes very well with both sauteed fish and potatoes, no big surprise there.
  3. Steamed potatoes are really nice. They hold their shape much better than boiled potatoes (which get all beat up while being boiled), seem more robust to overcooking, don't take much longer, and taste excellent. I am definitely going to be repeating this.
  4. Braised carrots: we had a leftover "french carrot" (very fat, stubby carrot) from last weekend's farmers market that I wanted to use up. I cut it into 1/2" planks; sauteed them briefly in a bit of butter; added a good pinch of sugar, salt, black pepper, and a bit of stock; covered the pan and simmered for 15-20 minutes, until the carrots were tender.
  5. I was initially afraid that fish + potatoes + a white sauce would lead to a dull-looking plate, but adding the carrots and sauteed greens with pimentos jazzed things up a lot.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Wednesday leftovers + braised cabbage, sauteed mushrooms, artichokes with beurre blanc

To accompany the leftover sausage and lentils from Sunday night, I did another round of sweet-sour braised cabbage and sauteed the last of the mushrooms from the risotto. I also steamed a couple artichokes (last things from last week's CSA box) and made a beurre blanc to accompany them.

I tried to make beurre blanc a while ago (more than a year, since it's not in my blog archives), but I winged the recipe and, surprise surprise, it didn't emulsify. This time I used the recipe from Techniques and it worked just fine. It's obvious to me why this sauce is a classic: it's wonderful. Paired with very flavorful artichokes it was even more wonderful.

For the hell of it, here's the recipe. This makes 2-3 dinner-sized portions or enough for 4 artichokes, we have leftovers that I'm going to try and salvage tonight.

1 shallot, very thinly sliced
1/3 cup water
2 Tbs white wine vinegar
a pinch of freshly fine ground white pepper
a good pinch of salt
1 Tbs heavy cream
6 oz good unsalted butter (I used Plugra), cut into 12 pieces

Put all the ingredients except the cream and butter in a small stainless steel pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 25 minutes, adding more water if it starts to look dry.
Strain the sauce into a cup, pressing everything out of the shallots, wipe out the cooking pan, and pour the liquid back into the pan.
If you have more than about 3 tablespoons of liquid left: add the cream and a couple pieces of butter, raise the heat to high, and boil for a bit to drive off some liquid. Allow the pan to cool for a few minutes.
Otherwise: add the cream.
Put the pan, which should be lukewarm, back over very low heat and whisk in the butter one piece at a time. Whisk thoroughly! Whisk until your arm hurts!
Stop adding butter when you're happy with the consistency of the sauce. If you need to add more than 6 oz, go for it!
Taste and adjust salt.
Serve the sauce immediately or let it stand in a warm place (near the stove, perhaps) until ready to serve. It'll hold as long as it doesn't get too hot or cool enough for the butter to start to set.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tuesday: Reisfladen Test 2

Last night's trial started with this recipe, which can be found in English in a somewhat elaborated form here.

This is getting closer to my hazy memory of what a Reisfladen is supposed to be.

There are still some problems with the recipe though:

  1. The baking temperature (425) is too high; this doesn't allow the filling to cook fully before the crust starts to get overly browned.
  2. The crust, as I made it last night, is too thick.
  3. The crust could be a bit richer, I think it wants a bit more butter added to it.

Tuesday Night Leftovers

We still had some veggies from last week's CSA box left, so to go with the leftover halibut and risotto, I made sweet and sour braised cabbage (complements the sweet and sour of the halibut) and sauteed broccoli (again using stalkier pieces of broccoli).

For the cabbage, makes 2 servings:

1/4 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
2 shallots, small dice
olive oil
crushed red pepper, salt
chicken stock
1 good pinch or two of sugar
1-2 Tbs red wine vinegar

Get the oil really hot in a pan you can cover. Add the shallots and saute for a minute or two, until they start to soften.
Add the cabbage, crushed red pepper to taste, and a good pinch of salt and saute a few minutes, until the cabbage starts to brown.
Add about 1/4 cup chicken stock, cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and let simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more stock if things start to look really dry, until the cabbage is soft.
Remove the cover and allow any liquid left in the pan to boil off.
Add some sugar and vinegar, mix well, taste, and adjust the balance until you're happy with it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Monday: Reisfladen Test 1

This was a test, we're trying to find a good Aachener Reisfladen recipe for next weekend. After some web searching, I arbitrarily decided to try out this particular recipe last night.

That was a mistake. The recipe has at least one typo/mistake in it and includes a major typo for the baking temperature: there is no earthly way that this thing is supposed to bake at 250 C (480 F) for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes the crust was starting to head toward burnt.

The resulting basic dessert tasted ok, but we won't be using this as the recipe for this weekend.

Monday Night: Sicilian Halibut, Mushroom Risotto, Broccoli and Beurre Noisette

We picked up halibut at the MP farmers market on Sunday, so we made this last night and let the leftovers from Sunday sit a night. :-)

The fish recipe is from the Splendid Table's "Weeknight Kitchen" newsletter and makes a really nice sweet-sour sauce for the fish. Next time I make this, I should remember to not exactly follow the recipe and to sear the fish before adding the onions to the pan. The presence of the onions (and their moisture) prevents the fish from taking a good sear.

The mushroom risotto was a normal prep, I used mushrooms and onions as flavorings and followed the "quick, but not as creamy, risotto" technique of adding most of the stock up front and cooking with the cover on for 10-15 minutes. For logistical reasons, I actually made the risotto to this point ahead of time and set it aside, then I did the final stock addition and stirring 10 minutes before serving time.

The broccoli was my standard recipe: steamed broccoli [CSA] with beurre noisette. mmmm, browned butter.

We added a green salad to go with all this goodness and were very happy.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Sunday Dinner: Lentils, Homemade Sausage, Reibekuchen

This menu started as a way to simultaneously use up some of the smoked sausage we had left in the fridge and to test a recipe for reibekuchen. Since the leftover sausage was actually chorizo, not smoked sausage, and since TJ's didn't have any non-Italian sausage without "olives" I ended up making my own sausage. So the dual-purpose meal turned into a single-purpose meal... at least it wasn't completely without purpose. :-)

Here are notes for the components:

For the sausage I started with a recipe from JPT (for lentils with sausage and cabbage), but I used ground turkey instead of pork (TJ's didn't have any decent looking pork). I started with 10 whole allspice berries and ground them in a mortar and pestle with the fennel seeds, otherwise I pretty much followed the sausage recipe. This made some really nice sausages.

I did a standard lentil prep with black lentils (Indian dal, someday I need to remember to get lentils du Puy) and starting from a mirepoix. For garlic I used the remainder of the braised garlic from last week (4-5 cloves) and added 2 cloves of garlic paste just before the lentils were done. I added a couple leaves of sage to the herb mixture.

The Reibekuchen recipe is from my Niederrhein cookbook. Some notes:

  1. Wringing out the shredded potatoes is a good trick to remember for other stuff.
  2. Making a quarter recipe produced 6 hand-sized reibekuchen. That's 2 servings (maybe 2.5).
  3. I used about 1/4 of a medium-sized yellow onion in the recipe.
  4. Pre-cooking the reibekuchen, holding them at 250 degrees, and then "refreshing them" in a hot pan for a couple of minutes before serving seems to work pretty well.
  5. TJ's chunky applesauce tastes good, but it's a bit too chunky. Maybe a quick whir in the food processor will get it right?
  6. mmmm, Reibekuchen.
To accompany all this goodness we had a green salad with romaine, dandelion greens, and pimento from the CSA box topped with a lemon vinaigrette.

Sunday: Pork Roast for Sandwiches

To go along with the bread for the rest of the week, I did a pork roast yesterday. Starting with a "ribeye roast" from Draegers, I coated it with a mixture of salt, black pepper, and B&vG spice rub. I tied the roast up, browned it on all sides in olive oil, then roasted it at 375 for 30 minutes (turning every 10 minutes). I then spooned a couple Tbs of balsamico over the roast and let it continue roasting for another 10 minutes or so (until the internal temp was 150), turning ever couple minutes. After letting the roast rest for 15 minutes, I thinly sliced half of it for sandwiches and froze the rest for next week.

Preliminary tasting indicates that we have a winner. :-)

Sunday Baking: Flaxseed Bread

I did a bunch of cooking on Sunday, so I'll try and keep things in order.

First things first: I started with a loaf of flaxseed bread, but unlike last time, we actually had rye flour in the house yesterday, so I followed the recipe.

I said it last time, I'll repeat: this is a really nice recipe for sandwich bread.

Saturday Breakfast: Eggs and Biscuits

Woof, I'm behind again. Saturday I didn't do much cooking aside from breakfast, where I scrambled some eggs with tomato, red pepper, onion, and bacon and served them topped with grated Emmenthaler beside biscuits ("Emergency Drop Biscuits" from Bittman).

mmm, biscuits

Friday, September 23, 2005

Thursday night leftovers

Last night was the same as Wednesday night, but we supplemented with a bit of sauteed broccoli using some of the stalkier (more broccolini-like) bits from the CSA box. I sauteed them using braising oil from the garlic.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Wednesday Night: Pork Chops with Caramelized Alliums; Braised Cabbage

This week's Bittman column, with its recipe for Garlic Braised in Olive Oil, was one of those that made me say "oh yeah! I'm making that!". I had been planning pork chops with some kind of intensely flavored sauce anyway and this just fit right in. The thought of roasted garlic got me thinking about caramelized onions, and we had some tomatoes from CSA, so here's what I did for the sauce, this makes about four servings:

1 medium onion, sliced thinly
olive oil
10 cloves oil-braised garlic plus some of the braising oil.
4 San Marzano tomatoes [CSA], diced
2 dried cayenne peppers, sliced
salt and black pepper

Cover the bottom of a pan with olive oil, put it over medium heat, add the onion, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is nicely caramelized, about 30 minutes.
Put a couple Tbs of the garlic braising oil in another small pan with the tomatoes and cayenne, add a bit of salt, and cook over medium-high heat, uncovered, until the tomatoes break down, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and onions, reduce the heat, and simmer for a couple more minutes. Smash the garlic cloves up a bit with the spoon as you stir.
Adjust seasonings.

For the pork, sprinkle boneless loin chops with salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar and let them sit for about 30 minutes. Then saute them in a bit of olive oil in a hot cast iron skillet for about 5 minutes per side (until nicely browned). Let them sit for five minutes before serving topped with the sauce.

For the braised cabbage:

1/2 a head of green cabbage [CSA], shredded
olive oil
8 juniper berries, lightly crushed
1 Tbs ketchup
1 Tbs cider vinegar
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt and black pepper

Heat some oil in a large pan over high heat and add the cabbage along with a good pinch of salt. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes until the cabbage starts to brown. Add the juniper berries, ketchup, vinegar, and stock, cover and reduce the heat. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the cabbage is tender. Adjust seasonings.

To go with this, Andrea made a green salad with romaine, dandelion greens, and pimento from the CSA box and a couple tomatoes from the back yard.

This was some really, really good food. The sauce was a delight, starting with the tomato flavor, blending into caramelized onion, then finishing with roasted garlic. mmmm. One potential future addition is a bit of balsamic vinegar (and maybe a pinch of sugar to rebalance things).

For dessert we did macerated strawberries [CSA], with some lightly whipped cream and, for me, a splash of grappa.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Microreview: Cafe Silan

Last night we ate at Cafe Silan, a Kurdish and Mediterranean place in downtown Menlo Park. We split a combination platter of cold apps as a starter and had two of the hot starters (hevir u gost and zarzewat) along with a halep kebob for our main dish. Aside from an inappropriate wine choice I made (a bottle of Chianti that just didn't go with most of the food), we were really happy with the food and the restaurant in general.

We will be going back.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Monday Night Leftovers

Last night we had pasta with porcini sauce (frozen leftovers from the big italian meal). Andrea made a salad of mixed tomatoes and red onion to accompany. mmmm, tomatoes and red onions with olive oil.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Backpacking food

We went backpacking from Thursday to Sunday, so the cooking has been strictly limited. I needed to plan meals that were light, compact (everything had to go in a bear canister), quick to prepare, and that could, ideally, be made in a single pot. The dinners were:

  1. Angel hair pasta with meat sauce: I made the base meat sauce at home and added some Knorr dried tomato basil soup at camp.
  2. Garlic mashed potatoes with bacon and green peppercorn sauce: Using diced slab bacon from Dittmers, powdered garlic mashed potatoes, and Knorr green peppercorn sauce.
  3. Cheddar potato soup with sausage: Using a smoked/dried sausage (I think it was Bauernwurst) from Dittmers and a powdered cheddar potato soup.
The first two of these meals were perfectly acceptable, the third is not to be repeated -- even for camping food it wasn't really acceptable.

One random note to my future self: the plastic peanut butter jars from Whole Foods are not really altitude safe. We ended up with peanut oil all over the bottom of the bear can after driving from the Bay Area to Mammoth Lakes.

Some other notes for the future:
  1. Quick oats with raisins and powdered milk is a good backpacking breakfast, use standard oatmeal servings: 1/2 cup oats, a pinch of salt, a handful of raisins, 1/3 cup powdered milk. Pre-portion to that point, then add a bit less than 1 cup of boiling water per serving when serving.
  2. Andrea and I always bring too many Clif bars. Sure, they aren't heavy, but we don't end up eating more than one a day between the two of us.
  3. TJ's trail mix with dried pineapple and cherries is good.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Tuesday Survival Cooking

We were getting ready for a backpacking trip last night, so there wasn't much motivation to go shopping, so dinner came out of the freezer. I did broiled shrimp; a succotash made from green beans, pearl onions, baby peas, sweet corn, diced bacon, sweet paprika, and dark chicken stock; and some leftover brown rice sauteed in rendered chicken fat and allowed to form a crust.

For a 20 minute assembly using no fresh ingredients, this wasn't half bad.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Canning Tomatoes

Last year I seem to have stupidly neglected to post the times/quantities for the tomatoes we canned. So when we did more yesterday I went with a educated guess (via collaboration with Cati).
Here are the details:
We processed 1 flat (supposedly 15 pounds) of san marzano tomatoes, this made a bit more than 12 pints.
After picking out any moldy or overly soft tomatoes, we scored the end of each tomato, boiled them for 30 seconds (six at a time), then transferred them to cold water. We then peeled the tomatoes, removed the stem bit, and transferred them to a large pot.
Put the pot, covered, over medium high heat for about 10 minutes to start to break down the bottom layer of tomatoes.
Transfer tomatoes into clean, boiled pint jars.
Pour in enough juice from the bottom of the pot to fill any air gaps, leave 1/2 inch of head space.
Add 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/2 tsp bottled lemon juice to each jar.
Wipe the rims carefully, close the jars, and boil in the canner for 35 minutes.

Hopefully these turn out as well as last year's batch (we did 2 flats last year and still have some left) did.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sunday Baking

It had been a while, but yesterday I made some bread. I felt like doing something different, so I didn't make the usual multi-grain hearth bread. This time I followed the "Flaxseed Loaf" recipe from The Bread Bible, with the one variation of using whole wheat flour in place of the rye (since we didn't have any rye flour in the house).

The resulting loaf of bread, baked in a loaf pan instead of free form, is really good. I need to start making bread on a regular basis again... it's just too nice to have fresh bread in the house.

Sunday Night: French Onion Soup; leeks and artichokes vinaigrette

I had been slowly developing a strong need for French onion soup; since it's cooled down enough to make stock, yesterday I was able to satisfy that need. I followed the same procedure as usual: onion soup recipe from Bourdain using dark chicken stock from FStoS. The only real variation is that I used Emmenthaler cheese instead of Gruyere and made the soup in our new "French onion soup bowls".

To go with the soup, I poached some leeks and braised the remaining baby artichokes and served them with sauce gribiche. The sauce recipe is also from Bourdain, but I don't agree with the way he assembles the sauce (just mixing everything together). His way may be "correct", but it seemed like this sauce should be emulsified, so I did this:

Put the yolk of a hard boiled egg in the minichop with 1 Tbs capers, 1 Tbs red wine vinegar, and 1 Tbs canola oil. Blend until homogeneous. Add 3 additional Tbs oil and blend until everything is nicely emulsified. Pour this emulsion into a bowl with the finely chopped egg white, 2 finely chopped pickles, and a tsp or so of minced parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings using white pepper.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Saturday Night: Something Asian, forgot the rice

Andrea's suggestion for dinner was "something Asian, with rice", so we picked out this menu from my box of NYT recipes. The planned menu was: Dry Fried Green Beans; Sesame-Crusted Snapper with Ginger-Butter Sauce; Scallion Pancakes; Rice. Of course, in the frenzy of cooking, I forgot to actually make rice. Luckily we still had plenty of food and the scallion pancakes worked to soak up the sauce from the fish.

Notes about individual items:

  1. I've tried to make this style of green beans before, but I guess I never let them cook long enough -- they don't get that shriveled look until after about 5 minutes in the wok.
  2. The scallion pancakes were excellent; I think they'll become regular accompaniments to Asian food.
  3. I don't really need to say anything about the fish because how could the combination of fresh snapper, sesame, soy, butter, and ginger be anything other than excellent?
There was more than the usual amount of smiling at the table; even if I did forget the rice.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Wednesday Leftovers

To go along with the leftover coq au vin and gnocchi from Tuesday, I sauteed some baby artichokes we picked up at TJs. To prep the artichokes, I cut off the stem and the top half, then trimmed around the outside to remove the tough parts of the leaves. I sauteed the trimmed artichokes roughly following a recipe from Bittman, though I substituted basil for tarragon and added a bit of white vinegar.

The results were good, but I think I'd like a sauce that has a bit more body to it... maybe I'll attempt a beurre blanc for the remaining artichokes. My previous attempt at a beurre blanc didn't work, so it'd be interesting to try again.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Tuesday Night: Coq au Vin, Gnocchi

After a weekend of travel, I wanted to do a bit of "real" cooking last night, so I made these two recipes from one of the meals in New Home Cooking. I substituted a mixture of dried Italian mushrooms (from TJs) for the dried shitakes in the original chicken recipe and used a kosher chicken.

The gnocchi technique -- tossing them with crunchy breadcrumbs after the initial cooking -- is cool; it's nice to have a bit of crunch. Making the gnocchi themselves was a bit of a pain; the JPT gnocchi method, which pipes them from a pastry bag, seems like a better approach.

As a vegetable we steamed some green and wax beans [CSA] and then tossed them with extra breadcrumbs from the gnocchi.

Despite being a "fancy dinner", this still only took a bit over an hour to prepare; that's certainly under my weeknight pain threshold, particularly considering how good it was.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Thursday night: Polenta with Sauteed Vegetables and Pistou; Beans with Shallots and Bacon

My original plan for last night was to make a risotto with CSA fennel, but somehow we didn't have any arborio rice in the house (outrageous!); so risotto wasn't going to happen. So I improv'ed this polenta with vegetables dish:

For the polenta: Bring 6 cups of water to a boil, slowly whisk in 1 1/2 cups of polenta and a big pinch of salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, for about 10-15 minutes, until the polenta is creamy and tastes done. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand until ready to serve. [Note: This makes a lot of polenta, I should have made 2/3 as much.]

For the veggies:
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped
1 bulb fennel [CSA], coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
3 very small eggplant [CSA], 1 cm dice, (about 2 cups)
4 plum tomatoes [CSA], medium dice
olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
marjoram [CSA], rosemary
salt, pepper, crushed red pepper to taste

Heat a Tbs or so of olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the garlic and cook until it turns golden. Add the onions and cook for a minute or two. Add the fennel and cook another minute or two. Add the eggplant, tomatoes, wine, marjoram, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Mix well, reduce heat to medium, cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes, until the veggies start to soften. Remove the cover, add crushed red pepper, and let simmer another 5 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit. Adjust seasonings.

For the pistou:
1 cup basil leaves [CSA], loosely packed
2 small cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2-4 Tbs good olive oil

Put the garlic in a minichop with about 2 Tbs of oil. Process until the garlic is a paste. Add the basil and a good pinch of salt and pulse until finely chopped. Add more oil if needed.

To serve:
Spread some polenta on a warmed plate, top with grated Parmesan cheese, top with vegetables, top with pistou, drizzle with good olive oil.

For the beans: steam some fresh beans (we used both green and wax beans from the CSA) for 5-7 minutes, until they're deeply colored. Refresh them in cold water until ready to use.
Render some finely diced bacon, then add thinly sliced shallots and cook for a couple minutes until the shallots start to caramelize. Add the beans, a bit of butter, and salt and pepper to taste and saute for a few minutes. Serve immediately.

This meal was really, really good. There was much smiling around the table.

For dessert we had CSA strawberries with a bit of sugar and cream.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Wedesday Night: Blackbean and Corn Salad

We had some blackbeans in the fridge leftover from the weekend, so to go with the leftover steak from Tuesday, last night I made blackbean and sweet corn salad:

15 oz canned black beans, drained
kernels from 2 ears of sweet corn
1/4 red onion, medium dice
5 plum tomatoes [CSA], large dice
1/2 cup salsa (I used the chile morita salsa from WF)
2-4 Tbs hot sauce (I used Valentina)
juice of one lime
2 Tbs olive oil
salt, black pepper, ground cumin and coriander to taste

Combine everything and serve with chips (I fried a couple of corn tortillas and cut them into chips). It'd be even better with some 'tro, but we didn't have that.

This was an excellent partner to the leftover steak and, served on a bed of lettuce with a bit of cheese, could probably work as a main dish on its own.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Tuesday Night Grilling

I fired up the grill last night and made a trio of improvisations: Flatiron steak "escabeche", grilled eggplant salad, and grilled bananas with raspberry coulis and sour cream.

For the steak: marinate a flatiron (from our cow) in red wine vinegar, chipotle, garlic, salt, and freshly ground cumin, coriander, and black pepper for an hour or so, then grill it over a high fire until medium rare. After letting it rest for 5 minutes, slice it thin across the grain and put it back in the dish with the marinade. Add chopped cilantro and some lime juice, mix well, and serve.

For the salad: slice the eggplant lengthwise into pieces about 1 cm thick. Brush with oil and grill over a medium-hot fire until nicely browned and somewhat softened (don't turn it into mush). Coarsely dice the grilled pieces and mix them with diced tomatoes, minced red onion, fresh parsley, white balsamico, good olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temp.

We accompanied the steak and salad with a green salad and some corn on the cob.

For dessert: Slice two bananas in half, grill them flesh-side down over a medium fire for a couple minutes, then turn them over and move them to a cooler section of the grill. Let them stay there for 5-10 minutes, until they soften and the skin is black. Remove from the grill and let them cool. To serve, remove the peels, arrange two halves on each plate, spoon over raspberry coulis, put a blob of sour cream in the center, and sprinkle a bit of sugar over the top.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Sunday's Random Breakfast

We had egg whites leftover from making Saturday's creme brulee, so I came up with this egg-white-only version of huevos rancheros:

Cook some chopped bacon in a pan over medium heat until it's browned.
Add some chopped onion and cook a couple minutes until it starts to soften.
Add some cooked black beans and corn kernels (I cut these off an ear leftover from Saturday) and cook for a minute or two.
Beat the egg whites a bit to break them down, then add them to the pan and mix into the other stuff. Cover and cook until it starts to set up.
Add grated cheese, mix well, and cover again.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the egg whites are set.
Serve with corn tortillas, salsa, and sour cream.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Saturday Dessert: Tangelo Creme Brulee with Raspberry Coulis

I did a different recipe for the creme brulee than last time I made this (which was the first post on this blog... wow): I followed the creme brulee recipe in Bittman this time and used the zest from an entire tangelo. Somehow the Bittman recipe ends up with a lot of air in the custard, which just isn't right. So I'll switch back to the FStoS recipe next time.

I served the custards on top of the raspberry coulis (frozen raspberries macerated with a bit of sugar, then pressed through a strainer). Unfortunately, I neglected to think about the fact that I was going to be demolding the custards when I took them out of the oven, so they weren't really set hard enough to maintain their shape. Oh well, that's easy to fix. Demolding a creme brulee does, inevitably, result in the sugar crust being under the custard, but it's kind of fun to find that hidden crunchy bit while eating. :-)

Still, foam and shape issues aside, the custards tasted great and the coulis was an excellent contrast (color, flavor, and creaminess).

Saturday Dinner: Veal Fricassee, Brussels Sprouts, Corn on the Cob

The veal recipe (from JPT) is one that called to me on Saturday morning when I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Other than using smaller cubes of veal (maybe 1 inch instead of 2), I basically followed the recipe. Aside: for the bouquet garni I used parsley stems, bay leaves, thyme, lemon thyme, and some marjoram. The resulting stew is wonderfully thick, with a great density of herb flavor/smell.

We picked up the brussels sprouts because we saw them at the market when we bought the corn, and both Andrea and I were curious to see if we could do something good with them. I followed the recipe in Bittman for braised brussels sprouts with lemon juice and parsley and we were both pretty happy with them. I still don't think I'll be buying frozen brussels sprouts anytime soon, but I would certainly cook with fresh ones again.

For the corn we just did basic boiled corn on the cob... mmmm, fresh sweet corn with butter, salt, and pepper.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Thursday night: Fried Okra and White Beans with Chorizo

The okra was simplicity itself: Toss 1 cm okra slices in corn meal, shake off the excess, fry in peanut oil, salt while draining on newspaper, serve with a ketchup/hot sauce mixture. mmm, crunchy okra goodness.

The white beans dish was a "let's throw together stuff from the panty" special. White beans are fabulous things to have in the pantry. :-)

A green salad rounded it all out.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Wednesday Night: Chicken with Tomato-Pepper Relish

This meal was two parts of a menu from New Home Cooking.

Sauteed Chicken Breasts:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp finely chopped fresh sage
juice of one lemon
1 Tbs good olive oil
salt and pepper

Combine the ingredients and set aside to marinate while you make the relish:

16 oz jar tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 colored bell pepper, coarse dice
1/2 red onion, minced
1 tsp good olive oil
crushed red chilli to taste

Combine all ingredients in a nonstick pan and cook over medium-high heat until the peppers soften and the relish is thick, 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Put the chicken breasts in the pan and saute for 5-6 minutes per side, until they are nicely browned. Transfer to a plate.

Put the relish back in the pan for a couple minutes, until warmed through. Top the chicken breasts with the relish and a couple sauteed sage leaves.

We ate the chicken with orzo (1/2 cup orzo, cooked and sauteed with 2 Tbs butter, 1 Tbs chopped fresh sage, and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese) and a green salad dressed with a vinaigrette made with the juice from the canned tomatoes. mmm, using everything. :-)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Tuesday Night Leftovers

Last night I cooked up the last of the fish fingers from Monday night and served it with leftover brown rice, the last of the artichokes, and a quick stir fry of bok choy [CSA], purple pepper [CSA], onion and garlic.

I think the fish fingers are even better after spending a night in the fridge, but I don't have a rational reason for why that would be the case.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Monday Night: Fish Sticks and Artichokes

This was a repeat of the fish stick recipe from earlier this month. To accompany the fish, we had steamed artichokes [CSA] with lemon butter, brown rice, and a salad.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Sunday's Random Bits

On Friday we had dinner at the Slanted Door with some friends, one of whom ordered a Campari and soda. This reminded me that we've been talking about making the Venetian cocktail that I remember being called, phonetically, "spritza bitta", but that actually seems to be called "spriss". Whatever, yesterday we picked up the makings and got all Venetian. :-)

The proportions I used for each drink were: 1 oz. Campari, 4 oz prosecco, 4 oz sparkling water, 1 olive. The smell and taste of this drink remind me powerfully of Venice, which is certainly not a bad thing.

To go with the second round of appertifs, I made a variant on the "Sweet Cheese Medley" recipe from JPFF, with feta, pecorino romano, cheddar, and mozzarella cheeses, pine nuts (instead of pumpkin seeds), chopped prunes (instead of raisins), lime juice, honey, black pepper, and sweet paprika. We ate this on sliced baguette with great gusto. :-)

Weekend Waffles

This weekend I tried a modification of the standard overnight yeasted waffles recipe: I replaced half the milk with buttermilk and only used 5 Tbs of butter instead of the normal 8.

My fears that the bacteria in the buttermilk would compete favorably with the yeast and prevent things from rising were unfounded: the texture of the waffles was just fine.

Overall, I think the reduction in the amount of butter was not a win (imagine that), but the addition of buttermilk added a nice tang to the waffles. So for the future: Using up leftover buttermilk in waffles is just fine, skimping on the butter is not! :-)

To Remember for Later: Caprespacho

Since tomato + basil + mozzarella + olive oil (caprese) is so good, and since gazpacho often contains tomato, basil, and olive oil, adding small cubes of mozzarella to a bowl of gazpacho is theoretically delicious.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Saturday Night Grilling

This meal was driven by a couple of things. Yesterday we finally managed to make it to the Palo Alto farmers' market (Saturday's have been way too busy this summer) and pick up some salmon and snapper. This week's CSA box had a bunch of plum-type tomatoes that were kind of taunting me to come up with a plan for them. Since the salmon was destined for the grill (I would have done the slow-cooking thing, but we had friends over for dinner and the timing wasn't going to work for that), I figured I'd throw the tomatoes on the grill too and make a grilled tomato gazpacho.

I did the grilling using the "charcoal + log" method (put an almond log across the coals after pouring them out of the chimney), which was just great for this. Having the open flame was very useful for the tomatoes and starting the salmon and then the smokiness after covering the grill flavored and colored the salmon beautifully.

So we ended up having grilled tomato gazpacho with grilled tortillas, grilled salmon with ginger jam, and a green salad with a vinaigrette with a hint of sesame oil.

Grilled Tomato Gazpacho:
8 big plum tomatoes, halved
1 big cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 red onion, diced and rinsed with cold water
1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped
chicken stock
good olive oil
sweet paprika
salt and pepper
sour cream for serving

Combine the cucumber and onion with some salt, mix well, and let stand while you do everything else. I actually let this stand for a couple hours, but I don't think that's necessary.

Grind some pepper over the cut side of the tomatoes and put them skin-side down on a very hot grill. Let the tomatoes sit until the skin starts to blacken, then gently move them to a cooler part of the grill until they soften.

Drain whatever liquid has come off the cukes and onion, then transfer them to a blender. Add some of the tomatoes and enough chicken stock to allow the blender to work. Blend until homogeneous but not smooth (you want some texture), then transfer to a serving bowl. Add most of the rest of the tomatoes to the blender (with enough stock) and blend until homogeneous (again, not too smooth) , then add to the serving bowl. Put the last bit of tomato in the blender along with a good slug of olive oil -- I eyeballed it, but I'd guess I put in 1/2 a cup -- and blend until it's emulsified (this time it'll be smooth), then mix with the rest of the stuff in the bowl.

Stir in balsamico to taste (several tablespoons), basil, pimenton, paprika, and black pepper. Adjust seasonings.

Serve at room temp with sour cream and some grilled tortillas.

For the grilled salmon:
Coat the flesh side of a nice fillet with salt and a mixture of coarsely ground cumin, white pepper, and black pepper.
Put the fish skin-side down on a very hot grill for 5-7 minutes, then very carefully move it to a cooler part of the grill. If it looks like the skin is sticking to the grill when you try to move it, let things cook another couple of minutes.
Cover the grill and cook the fish until it's done (10-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet and heat of the grill).
Remove the fish from the grill, let it stand for a couple of minutes, remove the skin (which is probably going to be a bit too burned to eat), and serve with ginger jam.

A couple of useful tips here:

  1. Moving the fish may cause a flare up; don't cover the grill until any sooty black smoke (from burning fish oil) finishes.
  2. If you're using a log (or something that's going to produce smoke), let the fish cook five minutes or so on the cooler part of the grill before covering it. This will help prevent the fish from picking up too much smoke, which would be overpowering.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Thursday night stirfy

We got a bunch of bok choy in the CSA box, so a stirfry was pretty much mandatory. For the veggies we used bok choy, red pepper, onion, mushroom, cilantro, and garlic. We also added a bit of chopped shrimp. The sauce was more or less equal quantities of hoisin, oyster sauce, black beans, ketchup, and chicken stock. Just before serving I stirred in some freshly ground Szechwan peppercorns and chopped cilantro.

The range in our new apartment can definitely pump out more heat than the old one, which is excellent for stirfrys. Lucky for us that we can close the door to the kitchen -- things did get a bit smoky. :-)

The sauce worked out well, these ingredients and proportions are a good set; it helps that I didn't oversauce the thing (maybe 1 Tbs of each component). I think I added a bit too much Szechwan peppercorn, because my mouth was tingly for a few minutes after eating. But that's not such a terrible thing.