Friday, January 30, 2009

Thursday Fondue

Andrea's parents were visiting last night, so we did a fondue. Quantities this time: 650g cheese (600g would have been fine), 300ml white wine, 1tsp corn starch, one jigger kirschwasser.

mmm, fondue.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wednesday: winter minestrone soup, gnocchi gratin, endive salad

Three dishes that ended up working well together.

The winter minestrone soup was a simple one from Le Menu: cook a finely chopped onion with a minced clove of garlic and a pinch of salt in some butter until the onion softens and the garlic has smoothened out. Add a carrot cut into matchsticks and some savoy cabbage cut into bite size pieces and cook another couple of minutes. Add chicken stock, bring to a simmer, and cook for 5-10 minutes. Add salt if needed, then add some pasta and simmer until the pasta is done. Two minutes before serving, add some kidney beans.

The gratin was inspired by another Le Menu recipe (for Kugeli Gratin), but was heavily adapted: Cut a whole chicken breast into bite-size pieces. Brown these well on one side in some peanut oil and then set aside. Pour some olive oil in a gratin dish and then add 500g of gnocchi in a single layer. Add the chicken and some finely diced smoked bacon. Combine some tomato sauce with a bit of water, some vegetable boullion, a bit of hot paprika, and some black pepper and pour over the gratin. Top with grated sharp cheese and bake at 210C for 15-20 minutes, or until it looks done.

Our salad was from CPV: cress, belgian endive, and apple with a vinaigrette from mustard, lemon juice, white balsamico, and olive oil.

Good food!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sunday Spanish

A couple recipes from La Cucina de Mama: veal stewed with porcini mushrooms and nuts and then baked rice. To go with them I did radicchio cooked with carrots, garlic, hot pepper, red wine vinegar, and a pinch of sugar.

Really, really good food.

Ah, yes, green salad.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Nanrestaurant Review: Kratfwerk (Grenzach-Wyhlen)

We tried this on Saturday night with a couple friends. One smiley face.

  • Food: Good, but neither great nor particularly inspiring
  • Atmosphere: Very nice combination of relaxed and white table cloth
  • Service: Friendly and good

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday: Tuna casserole

This was Andrea's contribution to the pool of "let's do something easy" ideas.

I did my standard preparation: mix tuna with minced onion, garlic, mustard, and mayo; stir that into some mostly-cooked elbow macaroni along with some milk (and a bit of frischkase, because it was there), pour into an oiled dish and then top with grated cheese (gruyere). I did an extra layer of grated cheese mixed with raclette spice and bread crumbs to ensure crunch. This got baked until it was done.

We ate this with a green salad

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday: Schnibbelbohnen

Schnibbelbohnen are green beans that have been thinly sliced lengthwise and then fermented like sauerkraut. I hadn't cooked with them before, but they seemed straightforward enough.

Cook a diced onion in rapeseed oil until it softens. Add rinsed and drained Schnibbelbohnen, a splash of water, top with a saucisson vaudoise, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with the sliced sausage.

To accompany this we had rice and some zucchini cooked with olive oil, garlic, and thyme.

Very nice food, definitely inspiring enough to try a "real" Schnibbelbohnen recipe.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sunday: Chicken with root vegetables and port

My original idea was to use up the port butter leftover from last weekend by doing chicken cooked with port butter. As I went along though, the idea evolved based on the contents of the fridge. So I guess this is cuisine de kühlschrank.

Cut a small chicken into serving pieces, skin them, and brown them in clarified butter. Set the chicken pieces aside, pour out the clarified butter and cook a minced onion, a diced parsnip, and a diced carrot in the same pan with a bit of port butter and a pinch of salt until the onion is cooked. Sprinkle over some flour, and stir for a couple minutes. Reduce the heat and add some port wine and water. Add back the chicken thighs and legs along with a couple sprigs of thyme, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Add the breast pieces and simmer another 15 minutes. Add additional port butter and adjust seasonings.

We ate this with oven-roasted potatoes and a green salad.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Friday : Roasted squash soup, frikadelle

We had a butternut squash in the fridge that was screaming to be used. So I did roasted squash soup: peel the squash and cut it into chunks. Roast them at 180C with a bit of neutral oil until they are soft and lightly browned. Combine the squash with a diced onion, a couple minced garlic cloves, and some chicken stock. Simmer until the onion is cooked, then puree. Adjust seasonings and serve with curry oil (neutral oil, freshly crushed black mustard seeds, curry powder).

As other components I did frikadelle (mixed ground meat, minced shallot, salt, and pepper) and some sauerkraut. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday: Glazed chickpeas, red cabbage

A pretty straightforward weekday meal: Lightly brown a couple cloves of thinly sliced garlic in olive oil. Add a diced onion and a good pinch of salt and cook a couple of minutes. Add a couple cups of drained chickpeas, a couple tsp of sweet paprika, a tsp of cumin seeds, a good grind of pepper, and a cup or so of chicken stock. Cook over medium high heat until the stock has mostly evaporated. Add some diced dried ham and cook another minute or so until the ham has heated through. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, topped with chives.

For the cabbage: cook chopped red cabbage in rapeseed oil with a pinch of salt until it is about cooked. Add a Tbs of jam (I used mixed berry), a Tbs or two of cider vinegar, and a grind of white pepper and let cook another minute or so. Adjust for salt, sweet, and sour and then serve.

There was also the requisite green salad. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday: Celery-root soup, Kaseschnitte

On our way down from the mountains this weekend we stopped at a kaserei and picked up a wedge of quite nice cheese. After waffling for a bit, I decided to do a Kaseschnitte with it. Not having done this before, I used a recipe from the Le Menu archive.

It's simple: lightly brown some baguette slices in a bit of clarified butter. Put them in a single layer in a baking dish and sprinkle a bit with some white wine. Mix 200g cheese with one egg, a splash of cream, 50ml (or so) of white wine, and a good grind of black pepper. If desired, add a bit of freshly ground nutmeg. Top the bread slices with the cheese mix. Broil until everything is warmed through and the cheese is nice and bubbly brown.

To go along with the Kaseschnitte, I also did a celery-root soup from Le Menu: toast 50g of oatmeal for a minute or so in butter. Add a diced celery root. Cook another couple minutes. Add 1l water and a bit of veggie bouillon. Cover and simmer until the celery is soft, then puree. Adjust seasonings and then serve with a of cream and some chives.

Aside: both these dishes are not only very good, they are mostly rule-of-five compliant (without me needing to play games with definitions).

Of course there was a green salad with this.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sunday: Chicken tagine with vanilla and chickpeas

I've made this Bittman recipe a couple of times and it's always been good. This time I didn't brown the chicken first and I did the tagine in the slow cooker: On Saturday I cooked the beans (most of the way at least), then I tossed then with all the other ingredients in the slow cooker and let it go overnight. Yesterday morning I shut the heat off and let the tagine stand all day (it never hurts a stew to wait). 

When we got back from our hike last night I just had to reheat the stew and we could eat the wonderful food.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Saturday Lunch : sauteed chicken breast with ham and parmesan

Following a link from Bitten, I ended up watching the video of Bittman with Jamie Oliver. The dish looked quite nice and we had a couple chicken breasts in the house anyway from stock making, so I gave it a try.

Take a chicken breast, season it on the "wet" side with salt and pepper. Top with some fresh thyme leaves, a good sprinkling of parmesan, and then thinly sliced dried ham (parma or something similar). Pound it out to be thin and even and then cook it, starting ham-side down, in some olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the other side, flip after a couple minutes, cook the other side for a couple of minutes, then serve with bread, drizzled with olive oil.

Quick, simple, and quite good.

Saturday: Slow-cooked pork chop with port butter

This is one from the Niedergaren cookbook, originally for pork medallions, but adapted since chops were on sale.

Mix together 1Tbs grainy mustard, 1Tbs neutral oil, 2Tbs ruby port, and some salt and pepper. Marinate a couple pork chops in this for a few hours. Preheat the oven, with a plate in it, to 80C. 
While the chops are marinating, make the port butter: reduce 5cl ruby port and pinch of sugar to a syrup. Cool briefly and then whip into 50g room temperature butter along with a pinch of salt. Roll up in plastic wrap and put in the fridge to set it up.
Remove the chops from the marinade, brush off extra marinade and brown well on both sides over high heat. Insert a thermometer in one chop and then place them in the oven. Cook until the interior temperature is 63C. Serve with the port butter.

We ate this with a mixture of carrots and parsnips that I cut into chunks and steamed and then drizzled with a vinaigrette (olive oil, sour-cherry vinegar, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper).

As a starch side we had rice pilaf (onion, carrot, parsnip, rice+wildrice) left over from Friday (made to go with the leftover ground meat).

Of course there was also a green salad.

This was nice food, but I have to admit that I don't think the Niedergaren method (at least not the way I did it) is ideal for bone-in pork chops.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

This is what happens

I should know better than to play games with myself. This morning I formalized my "rule of five" simplified cooking idea. This evening I'm trying to wiggle around it.

For tonight's meal I slowly cooked garlic, carrots, celery, and onion with ground meat (pork and beef) and a big pinch of salt until the meat was no longer pink. To this I added black pepper, sliced dried chipotles and some ground pasilla chili. After stirring well I mixed in some creme fraiche and a bit of water. This cooked, covered over low heat, for an hour before we ate it.

As a side I steamed some potatoes, drained them, and crushed them lightly with some coarse salt and butter.

Great food, but clearly violating the five-ingredient rule, right? There are 8 ingredients above. But! (here's where the games start) The carrots, celery, onion combination is mirepoix. So really I only used garlic, mirepoix, ground meat, chipotle, pasilla, and creme fraiche. Only 6 ingredients! I was thinking of doing it as the "rule of six" anyway! Really! 

Anyway, there were other things I almost added (cumin, coriander, mexican oregano, paprika, bouillon, soy sauce, etc.) but I skipped because of the game, so there was at least some simplification.

Of course we had a green salad.

Leaving stuff out : the rule of five

Inspired by the simplicity of fettucine alfredo, and remembering the amazing tomato-butter pasta sauce, I'm going to try a new game: for as long as my enthusiasm lasts, I'm going to focus on making dishes that include five or fewer ingredients. I'll leave salt, pepper, cooking fat (i.e. olive oil or butter to cook in do not count, butter to mount a sauce or olive oil drizzled over at the end do), and water (but not stock) out of the count.

Tuesday: Fettucine Alfredo

A recent Splendid Table recipe got me thinking about/craving fettucine alfredo. Last night I did Hazan's version (more or less the same, but with a bit less butter and the inclusion of nutmeg) to satisfy that craving. What great food.

To go with the pasta I did beets with vinaigrette (cut peeled beets into chunks, steam them until cooked, toss with a vinaigrette made from garlic, rosemary, olive oil, white balsamico, serve topped with fleur de sel) and broccoli sauteed with garlic and chili.

Of course we also had a big green salad.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Sunday Dessert: Coconut-mango sorbet

A dessert improv driven by the mango we picked up yesterday and the leftover coconut milk from the rendang.

My original plan was to just do mango slices with coconut creme, but that didn't seem right since we wouldn't have sticky rice with it. Instead I took half the mango and pureed it very well with the 200ml of thick coconut milk, a pinch of salt, most of the juice of a lime, and 4cl of rum. This went into the freezer. The remaining mango half I sliced, drizzled with the remaining lime, and put in the fridge. I stirred the sorbet mixture every 20 minutes until my patience ran out (it was more of a mousse texture than sorbet) and then served it garnished with mango slices and sprinkled with brown sugar.

Very nice stuff. 

Sunday: Asian

Since we didn't get a biokiste last week, we don't have a big pile of veggies to work through, so Andrea requested we do some Asian.

One dish was beef rendang, following the recipe from BittmanWorld. The results were good, but not as good as I was hoping for. Part of the problem was that the cut of beef I used (mager Siedfleisch) didn't attain the "shreddy" texture I was hoping for after 2+ hours of cooking. The final result also wasn't as dry as I was expecting, but that was probably user error. Ah well.

The vegetable dish was going to be a stir fry, but the Asian market had a pretty thin selection of appealing fresh vegetables, pretty much only the okra looked reasonable, so I ended up doing a dish playing with textures:
Rinse and drain some canned straw mushrooms, cut them in half, and then cook them, cut-side down, over medium-high heat with a bit of peanut oil until they have shrunken some and the flat sides are browned. Set the mushrooms aside.
Slice okra into pieces 1cm long, toss them with salt and corn starch, and then cook in peanut oil over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Add some minced garlic and ginger, a spoonful of chili-bean sauce, a splash each of black vinegar and xiao xing wine, a bit of water, the mushrooms, and some quartered water chestnuts. Toss well and heat until the mushrooms and chestnuts are warmed through.
My goal - three very different textures - was achieved, and the flavor combination was a good one. I ought to do more with okra.

We ate both the above with jasmine rice. 

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Old drink recipes part 2

Translated from a German book on drinks from 1974: Punsch, Bowlen, Grogs.

Break up a 500g sugar cone (or 500g of sugar cubes). Combine 1 Tbs each of raisins, chopped seeded dates, candied fruit, and chopped dried fruit in a sieve and top with the sugar. Pour over 2dl of warm high-proof rum and ignite. Let the melted sugar drip into a pot. Pour over 1l of freshly brewed, strong black tea, 2l of white wine, and the juice of two lemons and two oranges. Bring just about to a simmer and serve.
Honey Glühwein
Combine one bottle of red wine with 2dl water, 150g honey (preferably orange blossom honey), and  1 cinnamon stick. Heat to just below boiling, fish out the cinnamon stick, and serve in warmed glasses garnished with lemon slices.

Stick three unsprayed oranges with two cloves each and then heat in a covered pan with a bit of water (so they don't stick) until the oranges are brown and brittle. Remove the cloves, cut the oranges into eighths, sprinkle them with 4 Tbs of sugar (to taste), pour over 3 bottles of red wine, and heat to just below boiling.

Old drink recipes part 1

Translated from a German book on punches from 1961: 70 Bowlen für Kenner.

Cucumber Punch 1
Peel a small fresh cucumber and cut it lengthwise almost to the stem lengthwise into six strips. Put the cucumber into a high jar and pour in a large glass each of white port and brandy, a small glass of curacao, two cloves, and a bit of cinnamon and then fill the rest of the way with warm water. To serve: combine two bottles light red wine with two bottles light white and a glass of sparkling wine. Add cucumber extract to taste and thin with mineral water if desired.

Cucumber Punch 2
Pour three bottles of red wine into a bowl, add a peeled cucumber, and chill until the cucumber is soaked through with wine. Press out the cucumber and pour the liquid back in through a sieve. To serve add two small glasses of Maraschino.

Ginger Punch
Combine two bottles of light white wine, a half bottle of port, the juice of two lemons, and ginger juice to taste. Cool in ice. Add a bottle of sparkling wine before serving.

Cold Duck
Put sugar cubes between lemon slices and let the pull out some juice. Add the sugar cubes (without the lemon) to a punch bowl and add white wine, a bottle of sparkling wine, and a glass of burgundy.

Saturday: Apple-ham Pfannkuchen

A random inspiration I had on the train ride back from Wallis. The base pfannkuchen recipe is from Andrea's father.

Beat 4 eggs together with 4dl milk and a good pinch of salt. Add sufficient flour to get a batter with the right texture (I should have weighed this, but I didn't). Let batter rest 10 minutes. Melt some butter over medium heat in a non-stick pan then ladle in a thin layer of batter. Let this firm up a bit then sprinkle with finely diced ham. Top the ham with a layer of thinly sliced apples. Ladle over more batter. Cover and let cook until the bottom is browned and the top is pretty much dry. Remove to a plate. Melt some more butter in the pan and add back the pancake (flipped, of course). Let cook a while longer, until the bottom is browned. 
Serve with creme fraiche.

There are all kinds of ways this could be improved (bacon instead of ham, caramelizing the apples a bit first, refining the batter consistency, etc.), but it was still quite nice.

We ate this with a big green salad.

New Years Catchup

Cooking in our holiday flat in Finnu (Wallis):

Saturday (27 Dec) Dinner: Black beans with ham
Into the pressure cooker: diced ham, sliced leek, chopped garlic, dried black beans, veggie bouillon, hot and sweet paprikas, cumin, coriander, black pepper, bay leaves, sufficient water.
Cook until done (30-45 minutes maybe when one gets it right with the pressure cooker).
Serve with brown rice.

Monday (29 Dec) Dinner: Choucroute
Cook a couple sliced leeks in a bit of olive oil until they soften. Rinse and drain 1kg raw sauerkraut. Mix into the leeks along with 10 lightly crushed juniper berries, 3 bay leaves, a grind of coriander, a good grind of black pepper, 250ml of Gewurztraminer. Nestle in some salted bacon, cut into pieces. Top with a smoked "Schufeli". Bake at 175 for 1.5 hours. Remove the Schufeli and set aside to keep warm. Bake another hour. Meanwhile boil some raclette potatoes in their skins, then peel them. Add more liquid to the sauerkraut if needed. Top with the schufeli, the potatoes, and four wienerli. Cover and bake another 30 minutes so that everything is warmed through. Put the meat and potatoes in a serving dish. Stir another good splash of gewurztraminer into the sauerkraut. 
Serve with cornichons and mustard.

Wednesday (31 Dec) Fondue
Celebrated the New Year with a nice fondue. With it we had a green salad.

Thursday (1 Jan) Raclette
No black-eyed peas and greens; instead we did a raclette. On the table: potatoes, cheese, ham, mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers. We also had a green salad and a quick pickle I did by salting thinly sliced radish (the big black-skinned type) then adding a bit of thinly sliced bell pepper and zucchini for color and tossing the whole thing with olive oil.

Friday (2 Jan) Ueberbackene Reste, a.k.a. Garbage Gratin
The priority on our last night in the flat was to eat everything we didn't want to have to carry back with us or throw away; a perfect time for a garbage gratin.

The ingredients were: thinly sliced potatoes, Pfaelzer, and leeks; sliced wienerli; diced ham; a sauce made from milk heated for a while with minced garlic, bay leaf, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. After baking, covered, for 30 minutes at 175C, I topped it with grated fondue cheese and then put it back in the oven, uncovered, until the cheese was bubbly and browned.