Monday, October 30, 2006

Sunday Night: Macaroni and Cheese

Yesterday started off as a rainy fall Sunday, and that gave me a powerful craving for macaroni and cheese. The rain went away, but my craving did not; so last night we had comfort food.

I used about 400g of elbow macaroni and 100g of cubed smoked ham along with a sauce made from 2Tbs flour, 2 Tbs butter, 1 c milk, 150g quark, 200 g Gruyere, white and black pepper, and cayenne. I topped the casserole with a mixture of grated Gruyere, breadcrumbs (paniermehl), and olive oil.

In addition to this very very good version of mac and cheese, we had a green salad.

Nothing else was required. :-)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Saturday's Stirfry

Last night had a Chinese focus: stir fry and some vegetables braised in oyster sauce.
For the stir fry I used : chicken breast marinated in soy sauce, xiao xing wine, and garlic; broccoli; red pepper; scallions; rehydrated black mushrooms and shitakes. I made a bit of sauce with hoisin and some more xiao xing.

The braised vegetable idea is from BittmanWorld, and I used orange carrots, yellow carrots (Pfälzer) and cabbage. After sauteeing them quickly in peanut oil, I added a oyster sauce and a bit of water and simmered until just tender. This really brought out the sweetness in the veggies.

We ate this all over rice.

Restaurant mini-reviews

Restaurant Der Vierte König: Interesting combination of wine shop and restaurant. They have a "whatever you don't drink from your bottle of wine, we'll rebottle for you for you to take home" policy that has the interesting addendum that you only pay the wine shop price for the leftovers. We didn't test that out though. Nice selection of game on the menu, and I was very happy with my Gemse (chamois) Gulasch. Andrea liked her spaetzli pfanne with wild mushrooms. Since we were with company, we didn't do the usual plate swap, so there are no second opinions. Our wine, a Blauburgunder from Graubunden, was acceptable.

Johann: Very modern setting, good service, very "California" influenced (e.g. fusion) food. We did the "surprise us" three course + amuse bouche meal and ended up with some very nice food. The amuse bouche was venison terrine with apples served with a ginger sauce. Starter: seared tuna crusted with black sesame and served with a quick-pickled cucumber salad. Main: some kind of sea bass, sauteed and served on a bed of lentils and root vegetables. Dessert: "Saffron poached pears" with white chocolate mousse. The wine pairings suggested by our waiter (a Riesling from the Mösel with the starter and a "Monica" from Sardinia) were reasonable matches. This place was a bit more expensive than our usual going out fare, but it was mighty good.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday Night: Spaghetti with caramelized onion and chicken

After getting back from two days of hiking, there was no way I was going to make anything involved. So we picked up half a roasted chicken at Coop and I used that.

I started by caramelizing a couple of thinly sliced onions with butter and olive oil (time consuming, but not labor intensive), I finished these with a splash of balsamico. I picked the roasted chicken and chopped it into bite-sized piecs, then nuked the pieces to heat them up. We at the chicken and onions over spaghetti topped with some grated sbrinz.

Of course we had a green salad.

Gack! Behind behind!

We were hiking this weekend, so there's nothing really new from the weekend, but I'm a couple of updates short from last week.

Thursday night we had a bean gratin, made with green and wax beans, smoked bacon, and cream, and then topped with gruyere.

And then on Friday I did pan-fried minute steaks with a garlic-parsley-olive oil dressing, caramelized Pfaelzer (yellow carrots), and steamed romanesco.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sunday dinner: Blanquette de Veau

I knew I wanted to make a stew, roast, or braise for dinner yesterday, so I browsed through BittmanWorld looking for a likely candidate. The recipe for blanquette de veau jumped out at me because it uses veal, which we hadn't done for a bit, and also because it includes parsnips, which we had in the fridge from last week's soup. Aside from making a half recipe and doubling the vegetable content (e.g. I used a full recipe's worth of onions, parsnips, and carrots and a half recipe's worth of veal and sauce), I pretty much stuck to the recipe.

We ate the blanquette over rice.

The results were very good. Maybe more yellow in color than white (Bourdain says it needs to be completely white), but still mighty tasty.

As a side we had brussels sprouts sauteed in olive oil. No green salad because we weren't organized enough to get the lettuce cleaned on time to make one.

Sunday Lunch: Hot and Sour soup

I've got a massive head cold, so yesterday for lunch I wanted a spicy soup to help clear my sinuses. Hot and sour soup popped into my head and BittmanWorld provided a recipe. I made a vegetarian version (only tofu) and skipped the dried lotus blossoms (well, I forgot to put them on the shopping list, so we didn't buy any).

It was a nice lunch.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Wednesday: Asian

Our main course last night was lemongrass-steamed chicken from BittmanWorld, which we ate with a green papaya salad (green papaya, shallot, chili, garlic, lime, cilantro, sugar, fish sauce) and some rice.

The chicken was pretty subtle (more Japanese than SE Asian), but very tasty.

The wine was a 2004 Buess Maispracher Riesling/Sylvaner. It's quite a nice wine, but it didn't have the acidity to stand up to the meal; I should have gotten a straight riesling.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Monday Night: Pea soup with parsnips

It's getting cool, so it's soup time again. I'm very excited!

Last night I made a soup by sauteing minced onion and garlic until translucent, adding some diced parsnip (1cm dice) and cooking for a couple more minutes, then adding yellow split peas, bouillon (4x the volume of the peas), sliced smoked sausage (St. Gallen) and some pepper. I cooked it for about an hour, until the peas were gone but the parsnip pieces were still around.

This screamed for some herbs de Provence, which we didn't have, but it was mighty good anyway.

We ate it with bread (sourdough rye), and a green salad.

Thursday Dinner: Pressure Cooker Pork Roast

err, damn, behind again.

For this quick-ish braise I browned a pork roast, deglazed with onions and garlic, added red wine (malbec), canned tomatoes, chopped bell pepper, bouillion, rosemary, and some savory. Once getting up to pressure, I let it go for 20 minutes. After removing the roast, I picked out the rosemary and savory stems and then pureed the sauce with the stick blender.

I didn't use the ideal roast, so the meat itself was a bit dry, but everything tasted great.

We ate this with a green salad.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Tuesday Dinner: Beans, Bacon, and Pears

This is a North German recipe I found in Le Menu this month.
The basic idea is to boil some slab bacon for a bit, cook green beans (with savory) in the water the bacon cooked in for 40 minutes, add halved pears to the mix 15 minutes before it's done, then add the bacon back at the end to heat it back up.

We ate this fantastic dish (the combination sounds odd at first, but think about it for a second and you'll see...) with the remains of the wild mushroom risotto.

and a green salad.

Wine: Abadia Retuerta 2001 Sardon de Duera

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Monday: Wild-mushroom Risotto and Trout

At the market on Saturday we picked up 200 g of mixed wild mushrooms (I'm way too ignorant to even begin to name all the types beyond chantarelles and wood ear). So last night I did a risotto using those. I used 1.5 cups rice (carnaroli), 1 cup white wine (Mauritsons Sauv Blanc), three minced shallots, all the mushrooms (cooked in butter first), and chicken stock (bouillion).

To accompany the rice, I grabbed a couple of trout (lachsforellen) filets which I sauteed in butter and olive oil and served topped with fresh walnuts sauteed in the same pan.

To serve I topped the fish with chives and the risotto with parsley.

The risotto was quite good but the farmed trout just wasn't that interesting.

We also had a green salad and more of the Mauritsons as our wine.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Saturday Dessert: Quark and grapes

Yeah, we don't often do dessert, but this recipe from La Menu just sounded too good to pass up. Plus it's not really dessert'y.

I mixed 3/4 fett quark and rahm quark 1:1, then added a small amount of sugar and a spritz of lime. To this I added some flavorful green grapes that I cut in half and seeded.

We ate it like that and were quite pleased.

Saturday: Eggplant thing

We picked some nice eggplants up at the market and I used them to make this invention, inspired by moussaka.

2 small eggplants, 2 cm dice
3 medium onions, 1 cm dice
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 long red peppers, 2 cm dice
3 bay leaves
300 gm ground meat (beef and pork this time)
1/2 boullion cube
black pepper
potato starch
2 Tbs creme fraiche
olive oil
grated Gruyere

Salt the eggplant cubes and let them sit in a strainer for an hour. Rinse them well, then ring them out a bit.

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until they start to soften. Add the pepper and cook until soft. Transfer to a bowl and add the bay leaves.
Brown the ground beef, then add to the onions and garlic.
Saute the eggplant pieces in olive oil until they are nicely browned and softened. Pour off excess fat, then add the meat and onion mixture. Add the bouillion cube, paprika, a pinch of cayenne, a couple good grind of pepper, and some water. Simmer for a couple of minutes then thicken with the potato starch. Adjust consistency/quantity of sauce.
Stir in the creme fraiche, then transfer to a baking dish. Top with Gruyere and bake at 200C until nicely bubbly and browned.

We ate this with some cooked hartweizen and a green salad.

Wine: Domaines Barons de Rothschild 2003 Los Vacos Grande Reserve Cabenert Sauvignon. This is the second bottle we've had of this very nice Chilean wine (I guess I forgot to record the first).

long time no post

last week I was in a seminar that ran all day and included dinner, so there was no cooking until Saturday.