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. :-)