Monday, February 26, 2007

Sunday Tagine

I made this same chicken and chickpea tagine with vanilla a couple of years ago from a Minimalist column. Now it's in BittmanWorld. Same as last time I deviated from the recipe by browning the chicken first and deglazing the pan with the onions. I also toasted the cumin and coriander first, then ground them by hand. Since it was Sunday, I started early and let the tagine cook all day over very low heat. Boning the chicken was not required by that point... stirring to pot was enough to strip the meat from the bones. :-)

To add some brightness to the final dish, I made a drizzling sauce with some lemon juice, good olive oil, and cayenne pepper.

We ate the tagine with brown rice and a big green salad.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Saturday: Chili and Cornbread

Since it hasn't been cold, we haven't been doing the usual gamut of winter stews; so it's been almost a year since the last time I made chili. Somehow cornbread has also fallen through the cracks; I haven't done that for the same amount of time. Last night that changed.

For the chili I used ground beef, smoked ham, and a bit of salami as meats. I spiced it with toasted cumin, coriander, paprika, a couple cloves, and a pinch of cinnamon. For heat I added ground pasilla chile and dried chile de arbol and chile negro.

I made the standard cornbread recipe, using medium polenta as my cornmeal.

I also did a cabbage salad using some fresh sauerkraut, lemon juice, and cilantro.

Wine: Château Musar 1998. This is the big brother of the cuvee we had the week before last. I have to say that at least yesterday I didn't like it as much as the lower-priced version. Maybe the big wine needed more time, but yesterday it was very one-dimensional (oaky) and reminded me of some of my less favorite Valley of the Moon wines. We'll see what today brings.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Nanorestaurant Review: Restaurant Kelim (Basel)

One smiley face (only one because of the relatively high price/creativity ratio).

  • Food: Very good oriental/mediterranean food, high-quality ingredients.
  • Service: Just fine.
  • Atmosphere: It's nice enough now, but it'll be great in the summer when you can sit outside.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wednesday Asian

Last night's main course was sesame-crusted fish (seelachs) with ginger butter sauce (from the recipe box). I added a bit of mirin to the sauce to give it some sweetness and to harmonize a bit with the side: broccoli braised in dashi, soy, lemon, mirin, and sake and then topped with a sauce made from light miso, lemon, and water. We also had Asian rice.

very good food.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tuesday Night Schnitzel

Veal was on sale at the Coop, so we had a close approximation to Wienerschnitzel last night.
I pounded out the veal; seasoned it; breaded it with flour then egg then fresh bread crumbs; sauteed it in butter; and served it with a lemon wedge.

We also had oven-roasted potatoes and some more stewed zucchini (with a bit of herbs de provence this time).

Good food!

Wine: Penfold's 2004 "Rawson's Retreat" Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine isn't bad, but I would have preferred a pure shiraz; I didn't really need the taste of stems in my plushy fruity.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sunday Night: Lamb and Cannelloni

This meal was the result of two influences:

  1. An inexplicable, but irresistable desire on my part for cannelloni
  2. Nice pieces of lamb loin being on sale at the Coop
I chose the basic cannelloni from FStoS: filled with potatoes and arugula because I really enjoyed that last time we had it.

For the lamb I opted for the very simple approach of seasoning it liberally with salt and pepper and then searing it in a cast-iron pan slicked with peanut oil for a couple of minutes per side.

As a side I tossed some zucchini planks in a pan with olive oil, covered it, and cooked it a medium heat until the zucchini was very soft.

This was some serious happy-making food. I can't wait for the leftovers tonight.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Saturday: Indian

It had been a while since we made Indian food, so that's what I did last night.

I made a cauliflower sambar recipe from Dakshin and chicken vindaloo using the recipe in BittmanWorld. The cauliflower sambar was very good, as expected. The vindaloo was disappointing, which surprises me considering the source. First the sauce was way too thin (not user error, there's no way it could have been thick given that it contained only vinegar); this I solved with a bit of potato starch. Still the sauce lacked oomph and wasn't well rounded. Ah well...

Wine: Los Vascos 2005 Chardonnay. This Chilean chardonnay made by a French company is nice and bright and has not a hint of oak or butter. yay!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Saturday Lunch: Quick Pasta Sauce

We had some egg yolks in the fridge that really needed to be used, so I made this pasta:

Brown some 5mm dice smoked ham in butter. Add minced shallot. Add the garlic clove you boiled with the pasta and mash it. Add the pasta (fusilli). Add some egg yolks scrambled with milk, a grind of black pepper, and a sprinkle of cayenne. Stir in some chopped tarragon. Eat and smile.

The ham/tarragon combination was a random idea based on the contents of the fridge. It's quite nice.

Nanorestaurant Review: Erlkönig (Basel)

Two smiley faces.

  • Food: There were a couple of small problems, but it was overall very good. The idea of serving the sides (a potato/carrot gratin and some winter vegetables) family style is a nice one.
  • Service: Just fine: they were there and friendly when we needed them.
  • Atmsophere: It feels like you have to walk through an industrial wasteland to get to the building, but once you're inside it's all gemütlich with high ceilings and wood paneled walls.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Thursday: White Beans with Ham

There were still some unprepared beans leftover from the batch I cooked last weekend; last night I finished those off.

2 big cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 onion, fine dice
3 cups cooked white beans, with liquid
200 gm smoked ham (this was actually Rippli, from the rib region), cut into bite-sized pieces
bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, black pepper
good olive oil and parsley for serving

Cook the garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat until it starts to brown. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes.
Add the beans, ham, and herbs and mix. Add enough liquid that things are almost covered.
Cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, until the beans start to melt and everything is hot.
Serve topped with fresh parsley and some good olive oil.

Very, very good foood.

We ate this with sauteed cauliflower and a big green salad.

Wine: Château Musar 2003 Cuvée Reservée. I wanted to try the cheaper version of a Musar wine before moving to the higher end. This is a very interesting bottle of wine on its own; I can't wait to try the real Château Musar.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tuesday Night: "meatloaf"

Last night we tried the meatloaf I made with the "crust" from the consommé. I sliced the pieces fairly thickly then browned them on both sides in peanut oil. At the end I melted a bit of Erquel cheese over each pieces. This wasn't particularly interesting. The experiment, though not a failure, certainly is not raving success.

We also had some braised red cabbage and a big green salad.

Wine: Kanonkop 2003 Kadette; this wasn't spectacular, but it had enough of those darker pinotage notes to be enjoyable.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sunday Dinner : Spaghetti with Pears

Another recipe from Le Menu. My big deviation here was to use tomato paste and some cayenne instead of curry paste. On reading the recipe, the curry paste seemed a bit too fusion-y for my tastes. Now that I've tried it, I can imagine it being ok... but my way worked nicely too.

300 g mixed ground beef and pork
clarified butter
1 Tbs flour
1 med. onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, mashed then minced
3 pears, cored, 1cm dice
1-2 Tbs tomato paste
beef boullion

Lightly brown the meat in the butter. Sprinkle over the flour and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add the pear and cook for a couple minutes. Add tomato paste, a sprinkle of cayenne, and enough beef boullion to make a bit of a sauce. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings and serve over spaghetti.

This is the third savory pear dish I've made from Le Menu. I'm still having the same stupid reaction each time: I imagine the flavor and it seems good, then I make it and my reaction is "this is weird, ooooo, it's goooooood." I should learn.

Sunday Consommé

Trying to make consommé has been on my culinary todo list for a while. Yesterday (and Saturday) I checked off that item. :-)

I followed the recipe/instructions in Techniques almost completely.

Saturday I made 3 l of beef stock from 1kg of bones, one onion, and some spices. After skimming the fat today, I combined it with 1 kg ground beef, 6 egg whites, a chopped leek, a chopped carrot, a can of tomatoes, chopped celery, parsley, tarragon, and some other spices. I brought this mess to a boil over high heat (stirring frequently), then let it simmer for an hour without stirring. After resting for 30 minutes, I ladled off the stock and strained it through a cloth.

The resulting broth is completely clear and an intense gold/amber color.

We ate the consommé as a starter with a bit of minced shallot added. It's very rich and has a flavor that's subtle, but deep.

This stuff took a long time to make, but it's not a massive amount of work and the results are impressive. It's easy to imagine doing it again for a dinner party or something.

Following a suggestion in Techniques, I made a meatloaf/terrine using the "crust" from the clarification. I added a couple egg yolks, some bread crumbs, and a big spoon of grainy mustard. I put this mass in a loaf pan, covered it with foil, weighted it down, and baked it at 160c for an hour. After cooling I removed the weights, wrapped it in plastic, and stuck it in the fridge. We'll see what the verdict on this is when we eat it later this week.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Saturday: Beans and Escarole

Yesterday I soaked some white kidney beans, cooked them, and then made escarole and beans. I used smoked bacon, piri-piri chilies, sweet paprika, and leeks instead of onion.

I think this is one of my favorite foods.

We also had a green salad.

Wine: Los Vascos 2003 Grande Reserve Cab

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Nanorestaurant Review: Zum Isaak (Basel)

The Kornhaus does this better.

  • Food: well prepared and good, but not hugely exciting
  • Service: bad, he was slow and forgetful. Doing stuff like bringing my aperitif after the apps came out is pretty much unforgivable.
  • Atmosphere: the nonsmoking room was quite nice and fairly quiet (in completely contrast to the main room, which was a zoo!)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Thursday Night: Sauerkraut

I had more elaborate plans for last night, but then after a long day at work I wanted to do something basic. So I made a pan of sauerkraut (from the market) with onions, bacon, potato, and celery root seasoned with juniper berry, bay leaf, parsley, white wine, and a bit of chicken boullion. We had bratwurst and a green salad with that.

Not fancy or elaborate, but good good good.

Wine: Baron de Hoën Beblenheim 2005 Gewürztraminer. This would probably be a great pair with a curry.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wednesday Leftovers and Baked Apples

To go along with the leftover mashed potatoes, veal, and mushrooms from Tuesday, I sauteed some chard stems in olive oil and butter. We also had a big green salad.

For dessert I baked a couple of Boskoop apples that I got at the market on Saturday. After coring the apples, I filled them with layers of crushed walnuts, raisins, butter, and honey, then baked them at 160C for about 45 minutes.

The results were pretty and very good:

Boskoops are great apples for this because they're tart and they get very "melty" on being baked.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Tuesday Night: Veal with Mushrooms

Saturday I bought a couple of very nice looking veal steaks at the butcher and set them in the back of the fridge to age a bit. Last night was the time to actually prepare them.

I adapted a recipe from How to Cook Meat for broiled veal chops with mushrooms, bacon, and sherry to what I had on hand. So I didn't coat the steaks with garlic, oil, and oregano before broiling them (I put the garlic in the sauce) and I used a mixture of brown mushrooms and dried porcinis. I broiled the steaks in my cast iron skillet, following an idea from Bittman.

To go with the steaks, I made mashed potatoes (remembering to use the food mill this time, which makes damn nice mashed potatoes) and brussels sprouts sauteed in butter.

And we a had a green salad.

Wine: McLaren 2001 Linchpin Shiraz

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sunday Soup

We got up to watch the stupor bowl last night (boring mismatch, but not with enough score differential to stop watching... the worst kind), and we wanted to have something to eat while watching, so earlier in the day I made some soup.

I browned a two chicken legs and two thighs, toasted some cumin and coriander, added onion and garlic, stock, a spoonful of mole paste, and some polenta to add body. After cooking for a good couple of hours, I let it sit until we were ready to eat at midnight. Just before serving I added a squeeze of lemon to each bowl and a shot of hot sauce.

good stuff!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Another batch of granola

This time the mixture is:
5c oats
1c soy flakes
1c coconut
50g ground almond
75g each sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, flax seeds
1/2c + 1Tbs honey (more or less)
200g raisins

Saturday Apero

Before eating the fondue, we wanted to have some "Apero" snacks.

We had a sheet of puff pastry from earlier in the week and Andrea had the great idea to use that to make little snacks. When we were down in Provence one day we got a box of mixed savory things wrapped in puff pastry; this provided the inspiration.

I did three different fillings:

  1. Smoked bacon cut into thick lardons and cooked crisp
  2. Sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil), cut into strips and wrapped in fresh basil
  3. Fresh sauerkraut, cooked briefly with white wine, juniper berries, and a bit of bacon rind.
To make the snacks I cut the pastry into strips, then put a small quantity of filling on the strip, rolled it up, and cut it.

I baked the finished snacks on parchment at 180C until they were nicely browned.

These were very good, somewhat elegant/fancy, and not a huge amount of work.

stupidly I neglected to take pictures.

Saturday Fondue

Last night we had a couple friends over and made fondue (we have to do this every so often or they'll toss us out of Switzerland). I followed the recipe from Le Menu pretty exactly since I hadn't made fondue "from scratch" before.

Here's the recipe, including the cheese mixture we used:
1 clove garlic
800g grated cheese (400g Gruyere mild, 400g Tilsiter rot)
4 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbs lemon juice
350ml white wine (Mont sur Rolle "Le Charmeur" Chasselas)
1 shot glass Kirsch
black pepper

Rub the garlic clove around in the caquelon. Mix the cheese with the cornstarch. Put the caquelon on the stovetop over medium heat. Add the cheese, lemon juice, and wine. Heat, stirring vigorously and frequently, until the cheese melts and everything integrates. Add a grind of black pepper and some nutmeg. Add the kirsch and mix well.

gooooooood food


  1. For bread we used a loaf of Buurebrot (crusty half-white farmer's bread)
  2. I'm amazed by the amount of liquid that goes in this, but the viscosity was definitely right. I guess the cornstarch helps hold it all together
  3. This quantity is nominally for 4 people, and we did eat it all, but it was a lot of food.
I also made a big green salad with frisee and bitter greens; that was a good counter to the richness of the cheese.

We also had a bottle of Pride Mountain Viognier with the apero (mmmmmmmmm apricots) and we drank an Alsatian bubbly (Crémant d'Alsace AC Baron de Schiélé brut) with the fondue. The bubbly was a good pairing.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Nanorestaurant Review: Kornhaus (Basel)

two smiley faces

  • Food: creative, carefully prepared, very good
  • Service: very good
  • Atmosphere: good

Friday, February 02, 2007

Thursday Night: Pasta with Peas, Ham, and Cream

Andrea suggested that we ought to use up the last of the unprocessed spinach pasta from our lasagna the weekend before last. I wanted to use up the remaining ham from Wednesday's pears on puff pastry. The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of ham and pasta is: mix it with peas and serve it with cream; so that's what I did.

1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic minced
olive oil
2 dl cream
4 slices cooked ham, cut into thin strips
the rest of the bag of frozen peas (200g?)
2 Tbs coarsely chopped fresh basil

Cook the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt in olive oil over medium heat until the onion becomes transluscent.
Add the cream and a grind of pepper and bring to a gentle boil.
Add the ham and 1Tbs basil; cook for a while until the cream reduces enough to be a nice sauce.
Meanwhile cook the peas in salted water until they're tender.
Add the peas and the remaining Tbs of basil to the sauce, stir well and serve over pasta, topped with parmesan.

For pasta I rolled out the last of the spinach pasta and then cut it into linguine.

This dish is sooooo nice. It's comfort food.

On the side we had the requisite green salad.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Wednesday: Pears on Puff Pastry

Ok, stupid name, but this is a dish from Le Menu and the direct translation from German "Pear Blinds", sounds even worse to me. The dish is super simple: on top of a piece of puff pastry (Blätterteig) you layer a piece of ham, a slice of raclette cheese, and a sliced pear half. You season the thing, brush the pear half with melted butter, then bake until it's brown and bubbly.

The dish is both very pretty:
and very good. This will certainly be made again.

We also had a big green salad.