Monday, February 27, 2006

oops, I forgot

Looks like I forgot to record Saturday night:
I used the second red snapper fillet to make quick-braised fish with black bean sauce (from BittmanWorld). To go with that we also had some wok-steamed broccoli with oyster sauce.

Sunday's Food

Yesterday I ended up cooking for all three meals.

Breakfast was crepes with ham and gruyere.

Lunch was rice topped with garlic shrimp (with loads of paprika), green onion, and diced tomatoes.

Dinner was a big pot of chili (with ground beef and chorizo), kidney beans, and corn bread.

It was a very happy day. :-)

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Friday Night Asian

Yesterday I picked up a couple of skin-on red snapper fillets along with the head and bones from the snapper (since the fish place normally doesn't have skin-on fillets, the guy had to fillet the fish for me, so I figured I might as ask for the rest of the fish too).

I used the bones and head to make a quick stock that I'll have to figure out a use for.

With the fillets, I did a Southeast Asian dish of sauteed fish with chili and tomatoes, from BittmanWorld. As an accompaniment, I made broccoli with crispy ginger using the same approach I used for the asparagus from Wednesday night, though I pre-steamed the broccoli a bit. Of course we also had rice.

Both dishes turned out well. The snapper was nicely fresh and was complemented by the spicy/salty/sweet tomato sauce/relish. The broccoli was pretty much guaranteed to be good because broccoli and browned butter are such a good combination.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Wednesday Leftovers

We are out of asparagus, so last night to go with the remaining roasted alliums and mashed potatoes I made up a batch of glazed carrots.
We started with mushroom soup and had a green salad with the rest of the food.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Wednesday: Mashed potatoes, roasted alliums, sauteed asparagus

We stocked up on alliums at this weekend's farmers market with the intention of doing roasted alliums at some point this week. Last night was the night.

I roasted scallions, leeks, shallots, yellow and red onions, and garlic and topped them with the chive oil suggested in FStoS. As a starch, I made a batch of mashed potatoes with mustard and vermouth (also from FStoS). Ooo boy was that a great combo.

On Tuesday, I saw a recipe in a cookbook from Greens for asparagus sauteed with crispy ginger that sounded really good, so last night I did something similar:

ginger, smallest julienne you can get
thick asparagus, bottom part of the stalks peeled, cut into 2" pieces on the bias

Heat some butter over medium-high heat until it froths. Add the ginger and cook, stirring gently, until the ginger starts to crisp up.
Add the asparagus and a pinch of salt and stir gently. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the asparagus color deepens.
Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan, and cook until the asparagus is just about done.
Remove the cover, crank the heat to high, and cook until any moisture has been driven off.
Serve immediately.

This is *good*. I've been amazed all week about the sweetness in this asparagus, and this recipe really brings it out. Now I'm really tempted to try the slow-baked asparagus from Wolfert's The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, but since that takes two hours it'll have to wait for a weekend.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Tuesday's leftovers

Last night we finished off the last of the pork roasted in milk (with rice because the spaetzle were finished on Monday), more sauteed asperagus (with thinly sliced scallions this time), and a green salad.

We started with the mushroom soup from Bourdain, which I enriched with some mixed dried mushrooms. Mmmm, mushroom veloute with sherry.

Another thing I forgot from this weekend

Friday night we went to Trattoria Buon Gusto in Menlo Park. I had walked past this place a couple of times and thought it looked promising. It wasn't.


  1. Our apps weren't bad.
  2. The service wasn't awful, though it wasn't particularly good either.
  3. The wine list is reasonably priced.
  4. The veal marsala was uninteresting: the veal had zero flavor and the sauce was just boring.
  5. The gnocchi, supposedly a specialty of the house, were *terrible*. They were gummy and some were undercooked enough to still taste like raw flour.
We should have just gone to La Strada.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Aparagus on the Side

This week there were a couple stands at the farmers market that had asparagus. It seems freakishly early to me, so I asked one of the farmers. He's in the Salinas valley and said it's pretty normal to be getting asparagus now and that he'll have it through June(!). I guess this is one of the bonuses of going to the year-round market: since Palo Alto's market doesn't open for a while yet, we'd be missing out on weeks of asparagus.

Two added bonuses are that this particular farmer does organic asparagus and brings thick stalks to market. Too many people around here demand grass-like stalks of asparagus.

Andrea and I now have explicit plans to load up on asparagus every week and eat it until we're sick of it.

Last night I did asparagus sauteed with shallots from JPFF to go along with leftover pork braised in milk. All I have to say about that is: yum!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sunday's Cooking

We started the day with overnight waffles, which are always good.

For dinner I used a BittmanWorld recipe and cooked a pork sirloin roast in milk with garlic and rosemary. I served that next to spaeztle (made from a BittmanWorld recipe and formed with the food mill). We started with a tomato-fennel soup from Bourdain.


  1. Making the spaetzle with the food mill is one hell of a lot easier than using the spaetzle maker.
  2. Pork cooked in milk is sooooooo good.
  3. I put too much tomato in the soup, so the fennel wasn't as strong as I might have liked, but it was still quite nice.
  4. Pork cooked in milk is so very good.

Catching up from the weekend

On Saturday we went to a tamale-making party at some friends' house. I made a pot of pinto beans and a "pressure salad" (see below) to bring. mmmm, tamales!

Pressure salad is my newly made up, geeky term for a salad made from vegetables transformed by osmotic and physical pressure:

1 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
4 good-sized carrots, thinly sliced (with the ceramic slicer)
copious salt
Cilantro, optional

Put the cabbage in a large bowl, add a goodly amount of salt (1/4 cup or so), and toss well to make sure it's well coated. Put a plate on top of the cabbage and as much weight as you can on the plate (I used about 30 pounds). Put the carrots in a separate bowl, salt them liberally, toss well, and let them sit.
Every 30 minutes: drain any liquid that's collected around the cabbage, toss it a bit, then replace the weight. Drain the carrots.
Keep this up for at least an hour, preferably two.
Rinse the cabbage and carrots very well and press out as much water as you can by hand. Put them both back in the large bowl and re-apply the weight.
Let things stand for about 15 minutes, then drain again. Repeat once.
Do a final wringing out by hand and then transfer everything into the bowl you'll serve in.
Add the dressing (below) and cilantro and serve.

Cumin-orange dressing

1 cup orange juice
1 Tbs cumin seeds
1/4-1/2 cup neutral oil
~1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 tsp each sweet paprika and chipotle powder
salt, black pepper

Over medium-high heat reduce the OJ to about 1/4 cup. Meanwhile, toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan until they are aromatic, transfer to a bowl.
Add the OJ and an equal amount of oil to the bowl along with a couple Tbs of lime juice and a good pinch of salt.
Whisk together and taste for acid/sweet balance. Add more oil or lime if you need to.
Whisk in the paprika and chipotle, a good grind of pepper, and adjust the salt level. Be careful with the salt because the cabbage and carrots will still be pretty salty.

[Update: I originally forgot to post why exactly someone should want to do all this pressing and waiting. The reason is quite simple: the result of this is a cabbage salad with an absolutely fantastic texture. The cabbage ends up being tender-crisp in a way that you just can't get any other way without waiting a loooong time.]

Friday, February 17, 2006

Thursday: Curried Pumpkin Soup, Spaghetti with Shrimp

I wanted soup and spaghetti last night, so soup and spaghetti I made.

We had a bag of already prepped CSA pumpkin in the freezer that I used to make the soup. My idea was to follow the butternut squash soup with chestnuts recipe from FStoS, but the pumpkin wasn't rich enough to stand up to that. So I added some butter, lemon, and curry powder and made a curried pumpkin soup instead. It wasn't great, but it was certainly worth eating.

The pasta and shrimp course was an invention, based on well-established principles:

2 Tbs good olive oil
1/2 cup good bread crumbs
3 shallots, diced
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 good pinch chili flakes
1/2 pound shelled large shrimp
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup dry, fruity white wine (e.g. CA Sauvignon Blanc)
chopped fresh parsley, as garnish
salt and pepper

Toast the breadcrumbs in the 2Tbs of oil until they start to smell toasty. Pour into a bowl.
Wipe out the pan, then add the remaining oil, the shallots, the chili flakes, and a pinch of salt.
Cook over medium heat until the shallots start to soften.
Increase the heat to medium high and add the shrimp. Cook on one side until the shrimp are pink, turn them.
Stir in the wine and lemon zest and let things cook until the wine has mostly evaporated.
Stir in half the breadcrumbs and however much pasta water you need to get the consistency you want (it shouldn't be wet). Adjust seasonings.
Serve over spaghetti, topped with parsley and more breadcrumbs.

This was very tasty. I had intended to add some lemon juice as well, but I forgot to do so. The wine (Mauritson's Sauvignon Blanc) was citrusy and acidic enough that this was no problem at all. :-)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Leftover leftovers

We've been eating osso bucco, risotto, and potato gratin and I haven't been doing much cooking aside from quickie side dishes like roasted cauliflower and sauteed greens and glazed carrots. Glazed carrots combined with sauteed arugula rabe turned out to be a very nice combination. :-)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Sunday's Bread

After a long hiatus, I made a loaf of bread yesterday. Something went a bit screwy with the dough, which took forever to wake up (slow yeast?), but the final loaf came out looking great.

I used a different seed mixture this time: 90 gm millet, 50 gm flax, 60 gm sesame; we'll see how that turned out when I cut into the bread.

Memo to myself

When you reach into the fridge to pull out the applebutter for your morning toast, be sure that you actually get the jar of applebutter. If you get the jar of spicy miso paste (which is about the same color and texture) instead, it's going to be a very rude surprise.

Andrea, compassionate sort that she is, helped by trying to conceal her laughter.

Sunday's Gratin

I more or less followed the procedure from our last gratin, but I added the diced ham to the milk/cream mixture while it was heating (to soften the ham a bit and distribute the salt a bit more evenly), and skipped the breadcrumbs this time. I was a bit more systematic about quantity this time too: I used 1.5 lbs of potato and 2 cups liquid (1 each of cream and milk); this is a good ratio.

The ham idea worked nicely, the breadcrumbs should not be skipped.

To accompany the gratin, I sauteed some diced zucchini with some arugula rabe (!) that we found at the farmers market this week. We also had the ubiquitous green salad.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Saturday's Braise

Yesterday was a high stock-demand day, so I made 5-6 quarts of chicken stock in the afternoon.

Last night I made osso bucco using the shanks from our cow. I followed the recipe in BittmanWorld pretty much without modification (using chicken stock).

To accompany the beef I made risotto al limone (also from BittmanWorld). I haven't had risotto with lemon before, it's a really nice combination. We also had some steamed broccoli.

I really liked the beef, but I think the risotto kind of stole the show. Holy crap is that good.

Some notes:

  1. I only used the juice of half a lemon in the risotto; a full lemon's worth just seemed too much.
  2. I used a California sauvignon blanc (Mauritsons, which is quite nice) as the white wine for the risotto. This was *very* good; the various citrus notes of the wine come through super clearly. I'm going to have to try this again with a normal (no lemon) risotto.
  3. I'm now about 85% certain that I don't really care for marrow. I'm sure that I'll try it again, but it's just too fatty for me.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Thursday's Leftovers

To go with the leftover rillettes on Thursday night, I roasted some cauliflower and made a batch of pan-glazed carrots.

Note to future self: I added some tomato paste (leftover from the pork and beans) to the remaining vegetable soup. That's good stuff.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Wednesday Dessert: Salty Butterscotch Custard

This was a rare mid-week dessert for us, but we both had sweets cravings. I used the standard salty butterscotch pudding recipe, but baked it in a standard gratin dish (too many ramekins were filled with rillettes).


  1. Baking the pudding/custard in a gratin dish takes a looooong time.
  2. I forgot to add the salt while the custard was in the bowl, so I added it in the dish and then stirred that. I would have figured that my initial stirring and the natural diffusion of salt in a hot liquid would have equalized concentrations, but that was wrong. There are spots towards the bottom of the custard that are too salty. Damn. I guess the diffusion constant of salt ions in custard liquid is low... odd.
Still, aside from the extra-salty bits, this is a delicious custard.

Wednesday Night: Rillettes

Cati loaned me her copy of Charcuterie so that I could flip through it and drool at all the wonderful things. Looking through the book provided the push that I needed to make a batch of rillettes (I'd been thinking of doing this since reading the recipe in Bourdain).

I made a fraction of the full quantity using about 3/4 of a pound of pork shoulder left over from this weekend's baked beans. Of course there was no way I was going to make veal stock during the week, so I made some chicken stock instead. Otherwise I basically followed the recipe.

The results are excellent. Since this recipe isn't actually that much work (it's more a matter of time), I will almost definitely be doing this again in the not to distant future.

To accompany our rillettes we had broccolini sauteed with garlic and chili flakes, vegetable soup, quick-pickled daikon, cornichons, toasted bread, and a green salad.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Tuesday: Instant Vegetable Soup

I made a bunch of chicken stock Monday night in order to be able to try making rillettes (we're trying these tonight, so more on them tomorrow). To use the huge amount of stock I had left over from this process as well as some of the older vegetables from the fridge, last night I made quick veggie soup. The veggies I used were: japanese leeks, red onion, enoki mushrooms, shredded zucchini, shredded yellow turnip, and shredded carrot. I also through in a bit of minced country ham (for flavor), some lemon zest, and orzo.

We topped this with fresh parsley and parmesan and ate it with bread and big green salad. yum.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Monday Japanese

Last night I made some Gingery Ground Chicken (from Washoku) which we had donburi-style with leftover braised hijiki, fiery daikon peel, some flash-sauteed radish greens (seasoned with rice vinegar, soy, and mirin), and pickled ginger. We also broiled the last of the block of tofu with miso sauces and ate that on the side.

The chicken is a great 10-15 minute weekday recipe to serve on rice.

Unrelated to the above: I also made a big pot of chicken stock; that's for tonight/tomorrow.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Superbowl Sunday: Pork and Beans

Two years ago I made pork and beans on Superbowl Sunday based on a Bittman recipe in the NYT (it's behind the paywall now, the article is from Jan 28, 2004). Since then I've made the recipe, with modifications, a couple of times. Even without New England in the game, it still seemed appropriate yesterday.

2 cups great northern beans, sorted, washed, and soaked overnight
1.5 lbs pork shoulder butt, extra fat trimmed, 1" dice
1/2 lb slab bacon, cut into lardons
2 medium yellow onions, medium dice
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 Tbs molasses
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs dijon mustard
1 Tbs brown sugar
2 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Render the bacon in a large oven-safe pot over medium heat until it's nicely browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Brown the pork butt in the bacon fat. Use a bit of salt and some pepper to season the meat while browning, but be careful with the salt (it interferes with the beans cooking). When the pork is browned, remove from the pot and reserve. If there's more than a Tbs or so of fat in left in pan, remove the extra now.
Add the onions and garlic and use them to deglaze the pan; cook until they are soft. If the pan isn't fully deglazed, add a bit of stock and finish that. Then add the rest of the ingredients, including a couple of good grinds of pepper, and get everything well mixed. Add back the pork and bacon. Add as much water as is required to get everything covered.
Cover the pot and put it in the oven. After an hour, remove the lid and give the beans a stir.
Cook, stirring every half hour or so, until the beans are tender. This will take about another 2 hours. If the liquid level starts to get too low during the cooking, add a bit more water (not too much though, unless you want soupy beans).
Remove the pot from the oven and adjust seasonings; it'll need salt.

Saturday: Japanese

Last week I got a copy of Elizabeth Andoh's Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen in order to learn more about making (and eating) Japanese food. Yesterday Cati took me to a good Japanese supermarket down in Mountain View so I could stock up on staples. And then yesterday afternoon and evening I cooked. And cooked. And cooked. :-)

Things that I made, with brief comments:

  1. Salt broiled fish. I used ling cod for this because the fillets looked pretty good and had nice bits of skin still attached (finding skin-on fillets of anything other than salmon is a bit time PITA). This wasn't the best choice of fish for this dish, as the ling cod was a bit too mild to be served so plain.
  2. Miso soup with enoki mushrooms. I liked this, but I think I added too much miso. Also, next time I will use something other than white miso, which was a bit too sweet in this application.
  3. Broiled tofu with two sauces: leek miso, and spicy red miso. This was really, really good. The tofu was super fresh and had a great, gentle flavor.
  4. Soy-braised hijiki with carrots. Different, and good.
  5. Pickled carrot threads. this was an improv to use up the rest of the carrot from the hijiki. I sliced it lengthwise with the ceramic slicer, then julienned the slices to get long threads. After salting for about half an hour, rinsing, and squeezing, I sprinkled them with rice vinegar and mirin. Nice.
  6. Daikon peel sauteed with soy sauce and sake, with hot pepper. This is a variant Andoh suggests of a recipe for "Fiery Parsnips"; it's excellent.
  7. Rice, of course.
  8. Pickled ginger (purchased, not made)
It's going to take me a while to get my brain around this cuisine, but it is seeming possible.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Wednesday Night: Split pea soup and cornbread

Andrea suggested a hearty soup for dinner last night, and we still have loads of country ham, so I made a big pot of split pea soup with ham. I used a hybrid of a recipe in Bittman and one in JPT by adding a good tsp or so of herbs de provence to the soup as it cooked. For some reason herbs de provence and peas are tightly linked in my head; they just go together.

Bittman suggests leaving the carrots in fairly large pieces, but he is wrong about that. The carrots in split pea soup want to be diced to about 1/4" (or maybe a bit smaller).

I also made a pan of cornbread using the standard recipe, zucchini sauteed in a bit of butter, and a green salad. It was a very nice, very green meal. :-)

I have no point here, I just feel like saying "Bittman/Pepin chimera".