Sunday, April 30, 2006

Saturday Night Grilling

Yesterday we fired up the grill for the first time this year. I chose to start slow, so I can be sure I haven't forgotten how it works. ;-)

Dinner was grilled sausages (the remainders from the charcuterie night), grilled leeks, guacamole, and fried plantains with chipotle salsa. Notes:

  1. The only plantains we could find yesterday were overly ripe for this dish, so the fried plantains were a bit too sweet and the texture wasn't right. Still, fried plantains with chipotle salsa are just sooooo good.
  2. The leeks really took on a nice smoke flavor; they could have used a bit of sauce (maybe either a vinaigrette with sherry vinegar or a mayonnaise? perhaps a tarragon mayonnaise?), but there were already enough disparate flavors on our plates. Still, this is something to remember for the future: grilled leeks good.
  3. The garlic sausages grilled up really nicely.

Wine: David Bruce 2002 Paso Robles Petit Syrah; This would have been a bit too intense for non-grilled food, but it went nicely with this meal.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Wednesday Night

It was a busy week, so I'm having to catch up.
To go along with the leftover beans and ham from Tuesday, on Wednesday I made asparagus sauteed with chorizo, almonds, and croutons (from JPFF); and a potato-turnip-carrot gratin (from CPV, but I added the carrots).

The asparagus dish was excellent. The gratin had excellent flavor, but was waaay too soupy. I'm guessing I didn't pack the veggies tightly enough in the baking dish.

The wine was a bottle of Bastardo.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tuesday: Pork and Beans

This was a pretty simple dish made by cooking a bunch of garlic and diced onion in olive oil until soft and adding some stock, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, a couple sprigs of thyme[CSA], and some cubes of smoked ham that we browned in a separate pan. After cooking for 5-10 minutes, I added two cans of drained white beans, mixed gently, covered the pan and simmered for another 10 minutes or so to meld the flavors. Simple and delicious.

As sides I did asparagus sauteed with shallots (a la JPFF) and broccoli [CSA] that I pan steamed with a bit of olive oil and preserved lemon peel. Both were very good.

Of course we had a green salad.

Wine: the last of the Marques de Cacera Rioja.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Sunday Night: Snapper and Potato Patties

I've been saying for the past couple weeks that I should make the potato-crusted fish fillet dish from FStoS but somehow never getting around to it. Then we had a dish at Kaygetsu with ice fish pieces mixed with shredded potato, formed into small patties, and deep fried; that reinforced the need for fish and potato.

So yesterday we picked up a snapper fillet from the fish guy at the farmers market and I made:

Snapper and Potato Patties

3/4 pound snapper fillet, cut into 1/4" strips
4 medium yukon gold potatoes, shredded
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 egg, beaten
salt, pepper, cayenne

Wrap the shredded potato in a kitchen towl and twist out as much moisture as possible, then place in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix gently, but well.
Form into small, reasonably flat patties, and saute in olive oil until nicely browned on each side.
Serve hot.

The fish was quite good. It would have been even better if it were deep fried, but that was a pain in the ass I wasn't willing to take on.

As sides, I made broccoli [CSA] sauteed with ginger threads and butter; and mashed golden turnips [CSA] (peel, dice, microwave until soft, mash, add a bit of cream, salt, and white pepper). And we had a green salad.

Wine: Marques de Cacera Rioja, 2002

Saturday Charcuterie

Last night we did the big charcuterie evening over at Cati and Jons. We had rillettes and pate from last weekend, some duck confit that I made this week, and three types of sausage (red wine and garlic, hot italian, and sweet italian) that Cati made. To go along with that there was potatoes roasted in duck fat (with thyme and rosemary), a green salad, bread, a beautiful cheese plate, sauteed asparagus, and copious wine.

Since there wasn't enough other food, Cati made a couple of very nice cakes for dessert.

The charcuterie all turned out pretty well:

  1. the rillettes were undersalted and a bit subtle in this company
  2. the pate was ugly until Andrea decorated it, but it tasted fabulous
  3. it's hard to go wrong with duck legs cooked in duck fat; I didn't get the crispy skin I wanted, but that was no huge tragedy.
  4. Andrea and I both *really* liked the garlic sausage. The italians sausages were good, but they didn't compete with the garlic. I'm kind of curious to see if my opinions there change after the sausages have a bit of time for flavors to meld.

The specific wines I remember are:
  1. Prosecco from AG Ferrari
  2. a white bordeaux that was nice, but a massive change of gears from the prosecco
  3. a malbec
  4. a zinfandel
  5. a CDP (1999 Quartz)
  6. a sauternes
but I think that list isn't complete and I should ask Cati for more details.

Friday Night Pasta

For Friday's dinner I chopped up some broccoli rabe and green onion [both CSA] and sauteed them with some crushed garlic cloves, a couple dried cayenne peppers. We ate this quickie sauce over spaghetti.

For a side I did caramelized carrots with cream. That stuff is just soooo good.

Naturally we had a green salad with this.

Wine was the remaining McManis Cab.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Microreview: Kaygetsu in Menlo Park

Last night Andrea and I went to Kaygetsu and did their kaiseki dinner with sake pairings.

Other than some minor blips in the service (unfortunate given the price tag on the meal), it was a very, very nice experience. The food was absolutely beautiful and excellent, and the sake pairings were most interesting. We don't really know sake at all, so it was fun to try the different styles.

Oh, and did I mention that the food was excellent? :-)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Wednesday Night: Veggie Fest

Yesterday we got a new CSA box, so I needed to finish out older veggies and start using up the new ones. Here's what we had:

  1. Cremini mushrooms diced and sauteed with finely chopped Spanish chorizo, shallots, and fresh thyme [CSA]. Served on thin pieces of toast, drizzled with truffle oil.
  2. Red cabbage [CSA] braised in stock and orange juice
  3. Diced butternut squash and carrots (both [CSA]), roasted with olive oil, whole cumin, and ground coriander. Served with a sauce made from chipotles, lime juice, thinly sliced scallion, and minced garlic.
  4. Green salad
The wine was McManis 2004 cab, which complemented the food pretty well. Particularly for an $8 bottle of wine.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tuesday Night: Quickie Pasta Sauce + Braised Broccoli

Last night I used up the last of the roasted chicken making a quick pasta sauce with copious olive oil, chopped garlic, sliced leek, diced chicken, a bit of crushed red pepper, stock (from making rillettes), and finely diced preserved lemon peel. I reduced the sauce a lot to concentrate the flavors and added the lemon peel at the very end. This went very nicely over spaghetti, topped with some fresh parsley, parmesan, and drizzle of good olive oil.

As sides I braised the last of the stalky broccoli from the farmers market in a bit of stock and Andrea made a chopped salad with persian cucumber, red pepper, avocado, and spanish radish.

The wine was Mauritson's 2003 Sauvignon Blanc.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Monday Dinner: Leftovers + Braised Broccoli

Last night we had leftover roasted chicken with preserved lemon and stuck pot rice. To go along with the leftovers, I braised some broccoli (the stalky thin kind from the farmers market) with leeks in a combination of stock (the stock used for making rillettes over the weekend) and cream. We also had a green salad.

Not that we're frequently going to have stock with quite as much flavor as that stuff, but this was still an awfully good side.

I'm going to try and remember to start recording our wines along with the food: last night we drank Mauritson's 2003 sauvignon blanc. This was a much better choice than the Ridge 2001 Santa Cruz Mountains blend (bordeaux) that we drank with the chicken on Saturday, but then that was just silly.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sunday: pre-charcuterie and Joe's special

Yesterday we did some preparation with Jon and Cati for a planned charcuterie meal for next weekend. We made a batch each of rillettes and pate de compagne, and started the cure for some duck confit. For all this we followed recipes from Cati's book Charcuterie. No real report so far on how these things turned out, since they aren't done yet, but preliminary indications are that the rillettes and pate taste pretty good. :-)

For dinner I made a pan of Joe's Special using dino kale Cati brought from her garden and Cati made a batch of braised veggies (baby artichokes, carrots, onion, asparagus, bacon) and a big salad. It's hard to go too wrong with either Joe's Special or the braised veggies, and we didn't.

Saturday: Roasted Chicken with Preserved Lemons, Rice with Potato Crust

The preserved lemons I started back in March had officially pickled for long enough, so I did a roasted chicken on Saturday using one. I took the pulp and rubbed most of it under the skin of the breast and thighs, then rubbed the rest of the pulp and put one quarter of the rind in the body cavity. We ate the bird with diced rind from the rest of the lemon and a sauce made from pan juices deglazed with some vermouth. The chicken was very good - the lemons have a really nice flavor that complements the chicken pretty well. I'm not sure that it would be worth the wait of doing preserved lemons just for this dish, but it certainly is nice if you just happen to have some.

To go along with the chicken, I also made a Bittman recipe from earlier in the year for rice with a potato crust. I'd been thinking of making this for a couple of weeks and it was a good excuse to use up some CSA fennel. The rice turned out great, but next time I think we shouldn't cut the potatoes with the ceramic slicer: the slices were just too thin for the dish.

Naturally we had a green salad to accompany.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Thursday: Stirfry

Last night I made kung pao chicken from the recipe in BittmanWorld (no peanuts though). This is pretty quick, simple, and very good. I served the chicken over rice (of course).

As a side, I made a "chopped salad" of diced daikon, carrot, spanish radish, scallion, and red pepper that I salted for a while (not the red pepper) then dressed with sesame oil and xiao-xing wine and served on leaf lettuce.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Wednesday Leftovers

Last night's dinner was leftover Japanese food from Tuesday. The fried fish crisped up nicely in the toaster oven.

Because there was a bit less food (no more broiled tofu), I also made a bit of miso soup with the remaining dashi, scallions, and the barley-mushroom miso.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Tuesday: Japanese

Last night I made a few things out of Washoku:

  1. Broiled tofu with miso sauces (spicy red miso and leek miso)
  2. Simmered daikon on citrus miso
  3. Carrots and yam cake in creamy tofu sauce
  4. Fried halibut
To add some dark green to the plate I also did a quick pickle with japanese cucumbers sliced on a bias using the ceramic slicer. After salting the cucumber for about 20 minutes, I rinsed it, squeezed it out, and tossed it with some ponzu sauce, mirin, and rice vinegar. I served the pickles topped with a drop of sesame oil.

Of course we also had rice.

This meal was a beautiful plate and a fabulous demonstration of "things you can do with soy". It was also very tasty.

Monday: Resuscitating Hollandaise and Heavy Cream Salvation

Monday night I attempted to reheat the remaining hollandaise from Sunday. After allowing the sauce to come to room temp, I microwaved it for 10 seconds and got back to a nicely liquid and correct consistency. Then I got greedy and tried to actually get the sauce warm by nuking it for another 10 seconds -- that broke the sauce. Doh! After adding a bit of heavy cream and whisking vigorously, I got the sauce back together. It wasn't warm and it was no longer technically hollandaise, but it still went nicely with some sauteed asparagus.

I had found some 12-count shrimp at the fish place, so I roasted those in a cast iron skillet and served them with a spicy orange sauce (Saute minced onion, and garlic in olive oil until transluscent; add some crushed red pepper, tomato juice, and and orange juice and reduce until the sauce is thick; add some orange zest just before serving).

I also added some onion and canned tomatoes to the rest of Sunday's brown rice, tossed it in a gratin dish, topped with gruyere, and baked it until the cheese was browned.

Oh yeah, and we had a green salad.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Hollandaise Sunday

The idea of making hollandaise has been kicking around in my head for a while now, but somehow the time never seemed right. When we were visiting my parents, we all went out to dinner at The Warehouse and I ordered trout Orleans, which includes hollandaise. So, since that reminded me that I should make it and since both artichokes and asparagus are in season, last night I made hollandaise.

I followed the recipe (halved) from Techniques (2 egg yolks, 1 Tbs water, 4 oz butter, salt, white pepper, and cayenne; cooked on the stovetop) and ended up with a very nice sauce that we ate with steamed artichokes[CSA] and pan-steamed asparagus. To go along with that we had some brown basmati rice, a bit of roast pork (I did a sirloin roast coated with a spice rub I found in the cabinet... I'm not sure what I used it for originally, but the combination of cloves and paprika went really well on the roast pork), and a green salad.

A couple notes:

  1. The hollandaise was good, but I think I prefer a bit of acidity in my sauces. I guess I could try using lemon juice in the hollandaise or make a bearnaise instead next time.
  2. I'm very curious to see if the "slow microwave" reheating trick works on hollandaise; it seems like it ought to be more stable than beurre blanc, so I would guess that it should.
  3. Eating a bunch of artichoke with the meal led to some funny moments where "inappropriate" things tasted really sweet. The most disturbing of these for me was a bite of salad consisting mostly of spanish black radish that ended up being sweet and hot (radish hot). "This dessert is clearing my sinuses!"

Saturday Night: Healthy vegetables... and rice pudding!

For dinner on Saturday we started with a bowl of green garlic soup. The main course was baked vegetables: I baked broccoli[CSA], onions, and potatoes (sprinkled with salt, pepper, ground coriander and cumin, and sweet paprika) at 300 for about an hour, until the potatoes were cooked. As a sauce I made an improv tomato vinaigrette (canned tomato with a bit of juice, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, garlic, chives, sugar, salt, pepper, sweet paprika, cayenne, olive oil). Of course we had a green salad with that.

As dessert I made a batch of rice pudding following the arroz con leche recipe from Latin American Table. That was good stuff when we ate it warm, just after it finished cooking. It was even better after resting for a night.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Friday Night: Schnitzel with different veggies

We did another batch of Wienerschnitzel last night to finish off the pork I bought for Thursday. To go along with it I did a chard [CSA] gratin from a recipe in CPV and some sweet and sour braised red cabbage [CSA]. To add some color/texture contrast to the cabbage, I diced an orange carrot [CSA], sauteed it a bit in olive oil, and used that to top the cabbage:
(what was that about a slippery slope?)

Everything was quite good. That chard gratin recipe yields something that's very creamy and flavorful. I will definitely keep the basic technique in mind in the future.

Slipping down the slope

This is a test of trying to include a picture in a post.

I'm not really sure that I want to start walking down this particular slippery slope, but I was so pleased with those carrots from yesterday that I wanted to put up something.

Caramelized Carrots with Cream

Since we get nice carrots (not the standard kind that you see at the grocery store) at the farmers' market and in our CSA box, I've been cooking them a lot lately. Some of the braised carrot recipes have been really good; this one, though time consuming, is sublime:

Clean, but don't peel, some good carrots (I used a mix of yellow and orange types), and cut them into 1 cm thick slices.
Put the carrot slices in a single layer in a lightly oiled baking dish, sprinkle them with a bit of salt, and bake at 300 degrees for 45-60 minutes. They'll shrink a lot and caramelize. Don't let them burn.
Transfer the carrots to a smaller baking dish, sprinkle with some freshly ground white pepper (white pepper is super carrot friendly), and pour in enough cream to almost cover the carrots. Put back in the oven, turn it to 375, and bake until the cream is mostly gone.
Serve hot.

The results aren't particularly pretty, but they are goooooood.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Thursday Night: Wienerschnitzel and assorted veggies

We got a CSA box on Wednesday and last night we started working on eating our way through it. :-)

To get things started I made a big pot of green garlic [CSA] soup following a recipe from CPV (a new cookbook). That is one fine soup, and not just because it's full of butter.

The main dish was Wienerschnitzel made with pork instead of veal. I pounded out halved loin chops; seasoned them with salt, pepper, and cayenne; breaded them with flour, egg, then bread crumbs; fried them quickly in butter; and served them with lemon wedges. Very tasty.

Veggie sides were long-cooked broccoli (also from a CPV recipe) and caramelized carrots with cream (I made this up, see the next post). Both the broccoli and carrots were [CSA]. The broccoli was good, but not great. The carrots were *amazing*.

We also had a [CSA] green salad.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Catching up... again

We were travelling last week, so I didn't do any cooking.

On Friday night I made dinner at my parents' place for us, my parents, and Holly and Kristen.
I (really I should say "we", because Kristen did most of the grill work) made a big grilled vegetable salad with baby arugula, parsley, and romaine lettuce as the greens and grilled bell peppers (red, green, and yellow), anaheim chilis, fennel, and red onion. We also grilled some pork chops, shrimp (shell-on, skewered), and a couple pieces of ocean perch. As a sauce/salad dressing, I made a vinaigrette with olive oil, sherry vinegar, garlic, honey, and some parsley.

It made for some good eating.

Since getting back we've been working our way through some leftover ragu from the freezer (over penne on Monday night and over riced potatoes last night). Last night I did some braised carrots [CSA] with chicken stock, butter, and garlic to go along with the meat and potatoes. mmm, braised carrots.