Monday, November 27, 2006

Sunday: Thanksgiving dinner

Andrea and I managed to convince some friends and coworkers to come over for Turkeyday on Sunday, so I was able to do a reasonably full production (stove problems aside, but that's a different story).

Things we made:

  1. Squash soup (Hokkaido squash instead of butternut since I didn't find any nice looking butternuts at the market on Saturday; this is a nice squash because the skin is thin enough that you don't have to peel it when making a pureed soup... a great tip from the woman at the market)
  2. Roast turkey (the usual, stuffed with apples, onions, and some celery greens)
  3. Stuffing (mushrooms, onions, celery, garlic, sage, thyme, using a good loaf of lightly sour bread [Ruchbrot])
  4. Gravy
  5. Mashed potatoes
  6. Sweet potatoes (cooked in the pan, a la Cooks Illustrated)
  7. Glazed carrots
  8. Roasted green beans (just like last year)
  9. Beet salad (roasted beets marinated in sherry vinegar then tossed with olive oil)
  10. Green salad (of course!)
  11. Oranges with cream cheese (JPFF)
  12. Caramelized walnut tart (FStoS, this thing is too sweet for me, but people who like sweets gave it high marks)
Oven problems aside, things went quite well.

Saturday Vegetables (Salsify!)

Again, Saturday was mostly spent prepping for Thanksgiving on Sunday, so dinner was mostly a matter of "wow, look at all these veggies we need to get out of the fridge!" We had bratkartoffeln, brussels sprouts sauteed with bacon, and some salsify.

The brussels sprouts dish (brown some lardons, toss in some halved brussels sprouts, saute covered over medium heat until nicely browned and fully cooked) was really good. It's hard to believe that I used to not like these things.

Salsify (Schwarzwurzel in German) was completely new to me; I picked some up because it's in all the shops and I wanted to give it a try. It is weird stuff. First of all it was unbelievable dirty. I soaked it and changed the water and scrubbed it and changed the water and soaked and scrubbed it and changed the water and it was still dirty when I peeled it. Secondly it releases some kind of sticky sap when peeled that is rather difficult to get rid of. I'm pretty sure the sap turns red when exposed to air, but it may have just picked up something else. Once the prep work was done, I cut the roots into bite-sized pieces and boiled them in salted acidulated water (per a suggestion from Bittman) until they started to get a bit tender. I drained the pieces and tossed them with some butter before serving. The roots didn't have much flavor (beyond butter and salt), but the texture was quite good. I wonder if a slower cooking/sauteeing would help with the flavor.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A lazy Thursday evening

We're in the middle of Thanksgiving prep (Sunday is Turkeyday for us), so I didn't want to make anything too involved last night. I ended up doing a Gary Danko (by way of Mark Bittman) recipe for baked chicken with a mustard and herbed bread crumb crust. I also roasted some romanesco on the side.

The chicken recipe is quite good, though I think it would benefit from a longer cooking time in a lower oven. It's using chicken thighs and legs, which I think are better when they're long cooked, but the bread crumbs would burn at 400. So maybe 45 minutes at 350 or 375 would be better.

The roasted romanesco was really good. I don't know if this particular head was extra flavorful or if it's just magically compatible with roasting, but it was *good*.

The wine was a sparkler from Alsace: Baron de Schiélé Crémant d'Alsace. This was, I think, our first crémant d'Alsace, so I have no points of comparison, but this was a nice middle point between the lightness of a prosecco and what Andrea describes as the oiliness of champagne.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Monday Night: Leftover meatloaf + veggies

To go with the leftover meatloaf (mmm, leftover meatloaf) last night I did some sauteed broccoli and a salad made from roasted yellow turnips and sauteed carrots, tossed with sherry vinegar and olive oil.

Very nice

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Saturday: Boeuf Bourguignon

It looks like it's been a while since I made this. It doesn't seem that long, maybe google's indexing of blogs isn't all that good. ;-)

I took the basic recipe from BittmanWorld and didn't really muck around with it other than to reduce the sauce a bit at the end (after removing the meat and veggies), thicken it with potato starch, and then add a slug of wine just before serving. That last bit of wine really makes a nice difference in the dish. For the beef I used "siedfleisch", which looked a lot like brisket to me (not that I'm an expert in identifying cuts of meat, but it did look like brisket). Whatever cut it may be, it's perfect for stewing. This was definitely happy-making food. Too bad we don't have that many leftovers!

As a side I made oven-roasted potatoes. We also had bread and a green salad.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Friday Night: Meatloaf and braised endive

Andrea's parents are visiting this weekend, and I wanted to make something "American" for them last night, so meatloaf it was.

For the meatloaf I used 1 kg of mixed pork and beef, about 2oog of bacon (finely chopped), onion, garlic, 2 eggs, salt, black pepper, sweet paprika, and enough bread crumbs to make things not too wet. Before baking, I topped it with a thin layer of ketchup (of course!). It took 20 minutes longer to cook than I thought it would, but this was still a very nice meatloaf. I'm really looking forward to the sandwiches!

As a side I braised some belgian endive in vegetable boullion (after browning the cut side). This was good, but I think I used too much liquid... it'd be better to use a minimal amount (pan-steamed instead of braised or something).

We ate the meatloaf and endive with a big green salad and some good bread.

An aside: it occured to me that meatloaf is pretty much the same as pate de compagne.

Thursday Night: Pork Shanks and Bratkartoffeln

Thurday I knew what I wanted to make for a sauce (canned tomatoes, leeks, garlic, sherry vinegar, chilis, paprika, walnuts), but I didn't have any set ideas about protein. While perusing the possibilties at the Coop, I noticed pork shanks (Schweinshaxe) that had been cut cross wise about 2cm thick instead of being left whole. This was too good to pass up: manageable sized pieces of pork leg still on the bone.

The preparation was standard: After browning the shanks, I added the leeks and garlic and cooked them for a few minutes until they started to soften. Then I added the chili and paprika, ground coriander, and ground cumin and cooked another minute or two. Then the vinegar, tomatoes, and some stock (boullion). After about 45 minutes of cooking the pork was fork-tender and I added a squeeze of lemon juice. We ate the shanks topped with the sauce and some toasted walnuts. Very, very good. It would have been even better topped with some fresh parsley and chives (must start kitchen garden!), but it was damn nice as it was.

I also made a nice batch of bratkartoffeln and the requisite green salad.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tuesday: Quiche and Walnut Soup

This was the quiche-making that I postponed on Saturday due to insufficient powers of concentration. The filling was diced bacon and thinly sliced leek (pre-cooked, both of them), raclette cheese, and 3 eggs+1 cup milk. The crust was the usual one from Bittman. I think the crust was a bit too wet, plus I cut it too precisely, so it shrunk more than I'd have liked. This meant not as much filling in the quiche as planned. Still, it was a nice quiche.

To go along with this, I made a walnut soup recipe that I found in Le Menu. It's a good soup, basically a thin potato-leek soup with added walnuts, but I think it could use a bit more walnut than what the recipe calls for.

Naturally we also had a green salad.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sunday Night: Beans and Pork and Veal

This was a recipe from How to Cook Meat. The original recipe calls for veal riblets, which I wasn't able to find, so I just used stew meat. I also didn't manage to locate any white beans on Saturday afternoon, so borlotti beans it was. Whatever the substitutions, the dish was excellent.

As a side, I made some hartweizen and we had a salad to go with it all.

I now have a powerful craving for more meat and bean dishes... oh yes I do.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Saturday Risotto

I had originally planned a quiche for last night, but that would have required more mental focus than I was able to bring to bear (it's been a while since I did quiche, so I was concerned about getting the crust right). I made mushroom risotto instead.

Risotto details: I used a "stock" made from sulz, boullion, and the strained soaking water from some dried porcinis. As vegetables I used finely diced yellow carrot, minced shallot, and chopped rehydrated porcinis. I used a bit of white wine to offset the richness of the sulz, and stirred in some butter at the end. The result was very fine.

As a side I sauteed some halved brussel sprouts in olive oil. There was plenty of time, so I got them quite well browned. A couple minutes before serving, I tossed in a bit of balsamico. The vinegar was a very nice touch.

There was also the requisite green salad.

Wine: L'Ariete Valsangiacomo 2004 Merlot del Ticino; this was nice, but not as appealing as the l'Orchidee that we tasted last weekend.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thursday Night Gratin

Last night I made a gratin using the leftover root vegetables from earlier in the week. As veggies I used turnip, yellow carrot, and orange carrot. I also added some diced smoked bacon and used light cream (halbrahm) with a piece of boullion cube dissolved in it for sauce. After baking at 150C for about 45 minutes with foil on top, I topped the gratin with a good layer of raclette cheese , cranked the heat to 185, and continued baking (no foil) until the cheese was bubbly and brown.

As a side we had sauteed brussel sprouts, bread, and a green salad.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Monday Night: Roasted Winter Vegetables; Saucisson Vaudoise

I loaded up on winter vegetables at the market on Saturday, so last night I prepared the first batch as roasted vegetables. I included leek, parsnip, turnip, and orange and yellow carrots, diced them medium (1-2 cm), and roasted them with thyme, rosemary, ground coriander, white and black pepper, sea salt, and olive oil.

Here's the "before" picture:

To go along with this, I stewed some savoy cabbage with onions and a dry white wine. 10 minutes before serving, I topped this with some slices of saucisson vaudoise and let them steam until cooked.

We ate the roasted vegetables topped with fresh parsley, and the cabbage topped with the sausage. Very good food... I like winter food a lot.

There was a green salad on the side.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sunday Night: Coniglio alla panna

For the main course here I mostly followed a recipe from Le Menu. It's been a while since I put a proper recipe up, so here's what I did for our two servings:

rabbit; 500g on the bone or about 300g when boned; cut into bite-size pieces
1 carrot, cut into chunks
leek greens
clarified butter (bratbutter)
1 dl dry white wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme
4 needles fresh rosemary (I tend to use rosemary sparingly)
1 bay leaf
fresh marjoram

Make a quick stock by simmering the bones, carrot, and leek with a bit of salt in about 1.5 dl water for an hour. Strain the stock and set it aside.

Brown the rabbit pieces well in clarified butter. Remove the rabbit from the pan and deglaze with white wine. Add back the rabbit, the rosemary, bay, and thyme, a pinch of salt, a grind of pepper, and about 1 dl of stock.
Simmer, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, until the rabbit starts to get tender.
(At this point yesterday we turned off the heat and went hiking. I resumed when we got home. Since this is a stew/braise, this pause is actually good).
Add some cream (a couple Tbs) to give the sauce some body, stir in a bit of fresh marjoram, and adjust seasonings.
If you're serving this without noodles or rice (as we did yesterday), thicken the sauce with a bit of potato starch.

As sides I stewed some escarole and wirsing (savoy cabbage) in olive oil with chopped onion (I refer to this as the "Alice Waters method" since she uses it so frequently in CPV). I also roasted some small yellow potatoes.

This was all very good food. Boning the rabbit was a bit of a pain in the ass -- they may "taste like chicken" (not really), but their anatomy sure is different -- but I'm sure that is something I'll be able to solve with practice. In principle, by using boullion or pre-made stock, the rabbit could be a good weekday dish.

Of course we had a green salad as well.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Basel Weinmesse

Yesterday we visited the Basel Weinmesse and tried some quite nice stuff (we also tried some complete swill, but that was quasi-inevitable).

Particularly interesting things, listed here just to have them recorded somewhere.

South African (imported by Savinis in Muttenz):

  • Pinotage: L'Avenir, Kanonkop; We liked both, L'Avenir more
  • Syrah/Shiraz: Lievland, Rudera; We liked both
  • Bordeauz blends: Welgemeend, Meerlust (Rubicon); neither of us much cared for Welgemeend (I'm sure they meant well), the Rubicon has potential, but it's not there yet.
Spanish (importer Dovinasol in Zurich):
  • Ramon Bilbao 1995 Riserva Rioja - I found this absolutely fascinating. It reminds me of the 1993 Zin that we picked up in Russian River this spring. Maybe it's just the fascination of older wine.
  • Ochoa 1998 Riserva Navarrao - less interesting
  • Negra Barbara Fores 2002 Terra Alta
  • Clos Socarrat 2003 Riserva Priorat
Ticino Merlot (from Vini Le Orchidee)
  • Le Orchidee, 2004 Merlot: lovely wine, very lovely
  • Sensazione, 2004 Merlot: Similar grapes, but they spent 7 months in a mixture of new and old oak barrels. This seemed somehow closed, but maybe has some potential in the future. I'm not sure if it makes sense that putting the wine in oak would make it more closed.
  • Purpuratum, 2004 Merlot: "old-vine" (25 year) grapes, 12 months in new oak. Both of us thought this was overpoweringly oaky.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Friday Night: Beans and Escarole

The basic recipe from this is the beans and escarole thing I've made before. The variations are due to what was in the house. Instead of cannelini beans (which I could have found), I used Riesenbohnen. We had some leftover ham from last week's macaroni and cheese that I also threw in. Instead of crushed chili pepper I used a mixture of pimenton and sweet paprika. I also did a good drizzle of olive oil just before serving.

We ate this with a nice crusty bread, a green salad, and a bottle of Spanish red wine.

A week of leftovers

Between the leftover mac and cheese and the remainders of the stir fry, I didn't do much cooking all week. Along the way I did make some chinese barbecued pork (from BittmanWorld) and a bit of broccoli and cabbage stir fried with oyster sauce.