Monday, February 13, 2017

This week in the kitchen

Monday/13-Feb-17: Dinner was Mille-feuille de Romanesco et de Saumon (web). I realized after serving that this was meant to be an entrée rather than the main dish. Oops. Then a plain salad, croutons only. Then a little dessert using up the last two squares of pâte feuilleté, filled with apple, créme fraîche, dried cranberries, almond powder, etc. Pretty tasty with a bit of cream on top.

Tuesday/14-Feb-17: Read through an issue of C&V this morning. Best issue in a quite a while. Maybe it's too bad I let my subscription lapse.

Valentine's lunch out today. Nothing further happened in the kitchen, except a bowl of popcorn.

Wednesday/15-Feb-17: Shopping today.

Dinner was Pan-Fried Salmon with Gnocchi (web), which was interesting but not great. Ed liked the fried gnocchi, something I don't usually do. Then a salad. We were full.

Yogurt on overnight. (Should have made it last night, but I was too lazy.)

Thursday/16-Feb-17: Early meal today. We had Eggplant with Yogurt Sauce (MC). Thick eggplant slices are brushed with lemon juice and oil, then grilled. This has a yummy sauce of yogurt, feta, finely chopped onion, mint leaves, and garlic, lemon juice, and cayenne. All served in pitas. Accompanied by Crushed Spiced Carrot Salad (Morocco, p78).

Friday/17-Feb-17: Dinner was Pork Chops with Hot Garlic Sauce (MC). I was lazy and used powdered ginger and garlic, but it was still good. I used some trio rice, the leftover romanesco, and some broccoli to make a go-with salad, which was pretty good.

Yogurt on overnight.

Saturday/18-Feb-17: This morning we found that one of our charming cats left us the remains of a mouse head just outside our bedroom door. Found in the night, I suppose.

Back to the pressure cooker for dinner. We had Lamb with Cardamom (Q&E, p30; cookbooker) over plain basmati rice, along with Carrot and Onion Salad (MJ1, p171). I made a full dose of the lamb and we managed to eat all of its deliciousness even though that was a bit of a stretch.

I'm making a little mini-project of cooking all of the pressure cooker recipes from Q&E. Have three or four recipes more to go now. Thought briefly about doing this for Cookbook Countdown, but really don't feel like I have the time right now. Why do I feel so busy?

Sunday/19-Feb-17: The cascareccia mouse seems to have disappeared, but today I found traces of the latest mouse, now deceased. This one had a liking for our cantuccini-like cookies, ones from Provence instead of Italy. Looks like I'll have to do a thorough clean of two banks of Ivar shelving tomorrow.

Dinner was a half recipe of Lemony Chicken Saltimboca (CL/nov12, web). This was very easy and very tasty. Served with Clotilde Dusoulier's Perfect Roasted Potatoes (HandyBook; web), an old favorite, and Roasted Green Beans with Walnuts and Rosemary (VT; web), which was quite good with very little effort.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #3 PASTA: yes; #4 BREAD: no

Monday, February 6, 2017

This week in the kitchen

Monday/6-Feb-17: Leftover cheese enchiladas and Spanish rice for dinner, with some new guacamole. We're full.

Tuesday/7-Feb-17: Earlyish main meal today. A half recipe of Mushroom Pot Pies (web). Pretty good they were, but needed a bit of something, maybe garlic, to give the sauce a bit more oomph. And a salad. That was all.

Wednesday/8-Feb-17: Fresh pasta for our main meal. I made Mustard Pasta (PastaMach, p82; cookbooker). Maybe my flour was old or dry. I used the optional teaspoon of olive oil and still needed to add a second egg to make a dough that could be kneaded. The recommended sauce was Scarborough Tomato Sauce (PastaMach, p146; cookbooker)—think parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. The sauce was good, but the taste overwhelmed the subtler taste of the pasta. Then a salad. And some mini magnums for dessert.

Thursday/9-Feb-17: Shopping day today.

Dinner was a half a recipe of Fettuccine al Tonno e Panna allo Zafferano (ClassPasta, p92), fettuccine with tuna and a saffron cream sauce. It was so-so. Would have been better to cook the tuna separately and serve slices on the pasta. Then a salad. Made a double-boiler bread pudding with the end of a bread that went stale quickly. Stirred in some chocolate chips just to see. Not something to do again. Won't stop us from eating it, of course.

Friday/10-Feb-17: A confusing day today. I was supposed to start a crockpot dinner in the afternoon, but didn't get to it. Changed to something else, then discovered I'd neglected to buy a major ingredient. Back to the crockpot dinner, but without the crockpot. We had Slow Cooker Chicken & Mushroom Soup (web), made in the Dutch oven. (Thought briefly about the pressure cooker, but didn't dare.) Made about a 2/3 recipe with my 500g of mushrooms. Add crème fraîche rather than cream at the end. Quite tasty. We ate it all. Then more of the bread pudding.

Prepared the dry brine that I'll put on a chicken tomorrow to roast on Sunday.

Saturday/11-Feb-17: Started yogurt early, then went to the doctor's walk-in hours (prescription renewal, no big deal) early-ish today, getting there just after 9am. Usually it's not very crowded on Saturdays. Today it was jam-packed. We got out after noon. Sigh.

Dry brined a chicken for tomorrow's meal.

Dinner was a halish recipe of Lentilles Vertes, Chou Romanesco et Saucisse (VPG). (This version is the same except that they use broccoli instead of the romanesco.) The chipolatas (sausages) that I used came from a vendor at one of last summer's marché des producteurs. Excellent they were. I used four for the two of us instead of two. The dish was good enough, but rather boring. It needed some sauce, maybe a dab of chicken stock with some mustard would have been good. Then we finished off the bread pudding.

Sunday/12-Feb-17: Unhappy day. Discovered this morning that Ed washed my expensive (worth every penny) chicken shears in the dishwasher last night. How many times have I told him that those don't go in the dishwasher?

Today's chickie was dry-brined with a southeast Asia flavor. As I've done before, I spatchcocked the chicken, browned it skin-side down, turned it and put another heavy skillet on top, then roasted for 45 minutes at 400F. Tasty thing. Served with plain rice and Thai-Style Green Beans (web). The green beans were old, but the dish still tasted pretty good.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 5
This month: #3 PASTA: yes; #4 BREAD: no

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Chaco Chicken Chili

One last night with Pat Dailey's The Best Pressure Cooker Cookbook Ever. Tonight we had Chaco Chicken Chili (p75). The headnote suggests it can be make with leftover turkey, and Thanksgiving turkey from the freezer did the job.

Start by soaking a mixture of beans overnight. I used kidney and black beans because that's about all I found that would do. Sauté a chopped onion, two minced garlic cloves, and a couple of jalapeños (shh, mine were red instead of green). Then add a diced red bell pepper (in this case, mine was green), chili powder, ground cumin, and dried oregano. Stir for a minute, then add a can of diced tomatoes, a 12-oz bottle of beer, chopped cooked chicken or turkey, and the drain beans. (The recipe also called for some brown sugar, but I quailed at the idea of adding sugar to a chili.)

Close 'er up, bring to pressure, and cook for 15 minutes at pressure. Longer would have been better, since some of the beans were still a bit crunchy; not inedible mind you, but not the soft texture that that should have been. Taste and season with salt and cayenne. Chopped cilantro can be stirred in at serving time, but there was none at the store last week.

I come from the no-tomato school of chili-making, but this was a pretty darn good in spite of that.

I've learned a lot about cooking with my new pressure cooker in the last month and still have some recipes to try. I never did find a quick dessert, but that may be a fairly vain quest. We've especially enjoyed some of the stew-y things, like this chili and Madhur Jaffrey's recipes, where so much time is saved. We weren't too pleased with the bone-in chicken dishes. Some of them had very nice sauces, but the meat texture and flavor left a bit to be desired. Of all the books I looked at, I think Pat Dailey's The Best Pressure Cooker Cookbook Ever. and Victoria Wise's Pressure Cooker Gourmet will be the ones that stay on the shelf.

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Now let's see what February brings. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Smothered Beef

Back to Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking for tonight's dinner. Our main dish was Smothered Lamb (or Pork or Beef) (p31). This is one of the few main dishes from this book that I've not yet made. Tonight I did the beef version using the pressure cooker.

This dish can be make with lamb, pork, or beef. I chose beef because we don't eat that much, and it's easy to find at the grocery. Cubes of beef for bourguignon (I think they're shoulder) are available with the pre-cut meat, so I don't have to ask at the counter. (As are cubes of pork shoulder. But there's nothing similar for lamb.)

Preparation starts by mixing the beef cubes in a large bowl with an onion, some ginger, a tomato, some cilantro (all finely chopped), a pair of green chilies cut into fine rings, ground turmeric, garam masala, ground cumin, yogurt, tomato paste, and salt. Then heat some oil in the pressure cooker and sauté four finely chopped cloves of garlic till golden. Stir in the seasoned meat*. Close the pressure cooker and cook at pressure for twenty minutes for beef. (Lamb and pork cook for only fifteen minutes.) Reduce the pressure quickly, remove the lid, and cook uncovered until the sauce is thick, stirring occasionally. Add lots of freshly ground black pepper, stir, and serve.

* Jaffrey has you add a half cup of water if you're cooking without the pressure cooker. I was worried about the lack of liquid, so I added a slog (maybe a short half a cup) of water. I ended up boiling that off at the end, so I expect I worried for nothing.

Cooked without the pressure cooker, this would have taken an hour and half. Again, we were impressed by such a delicious dish in such a short time.

(That's Jaffrey's Stir-Fried Cabbage with Fennel Seeds (p88) on the side.)

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?

This week in the kitchen

Monday/30-Jan-17: Dinner was Indian beef from the pressure cooker and Stir-Fried Green Cabbage with Fennel Seeds (Q&E, p88). I burnt the onions a bit for the cabbage dish, but we took those out and it was still good.

Putting stuff up in the Ivar shelves, I discovered we have another mouse friend. This one seems to like cascareccia pasta. I have a box and a cellophane sack of these, but neither seems to have an opening, so this is puzzling. Set a trap.

Tuesday/31-Jan-17: No sign of mouse friend this morning.

Off to finally get a haircut today. Very unhappy with result. Might be six months before there's enough hair to cut again, if I don't die of pneumonia in the meantime.

Dinner chili from the pressure cooker.

Wednesday/1-Feb-17: No shopping today, probably not tomorrow either. We had a clear-out-the-fridge dinner, kind of my standard, pasta with broccoli, the unused bit of cooked turkey, some roasted red bell pepper strips, some chopped black olives, all made into a sauce with pyramid goat cheese. Pretty good. Mini magnums for after.

Thursday/2-Feb-17: Horrible haircut. First time in public, ugh.

Dinner was cheese enchiladas with Mama's Spanish rice and my guacamole. Nothing else needed. (When I made the meal plan today, I forgot about leftovers. Have to make a quick adjustment in the morning before we go shopping.)

Friday/3-Feb-17: Finally did our shopping today.

Dinner was half recipes of Kerala-Style Fried Fish (30MinInd, p65), Spiced Beets (30MinInd, p88), and Coconut Rice (30MinInd, p100). The fish was merlan (whiting, perhaps) instead of flounder. Very tasty marinade/topping of puréed onion, garlic, ground coriander, cayenne, pepper, lemon juice, salt (a trifle too much), and grapeseed oil. Then dredged in flour and fried. Wasn't very pretty, but was delicious. The beets and rice we've had several times already. All were delicious. Then some store-bought pots de crème, also very good.

Saturday/4-Feb-17: Wild storm last night with very high winds. We were without electricity for over three hours, and for about 10 minutes some time later. Internet didn't come back till 21:30. Went early to the doctor this morning for walk-in visits, but he wasn’t there; no notice on door. Luckily I have another week of med left; I thought I had only a couple of days.

Early main meal today, partly to avoid the possibility of needing to cook in the dark. We had Pork Soup with Hominy and Peppers (HowTo, p43), which is a variation on a supper soup. For the spice I used Chris’s fancy chili powder. Kind of blah we thought. Fixed at the table with chipotle tabasco. Some individual Haagden-Dasz ice cream cups for after.

Sunday/5-Feb-17: I'd planned to make pasta today when Ed got home, but he had leftover soup for lunch and didn't feel like that. So we had a big salad instead (very big, because they only had very big sacks at the shop this week) and that was our meal.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #3 PASTA: yes for January, no for February; #4 BREAD: no for January, no for February

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Carrot Bisque with Vodka and Chervil

Dinner again from The Pressure Cooker Gourmet, by Victoria Wise. Today we had Carrot Bisque with Vodka and Chervil (p31). This, I think, is the kind of thing the pressure cooker excels at.

Start by sautéing a finely chopped onion in some butter. Then add four large, peeled and coarsely chopped carrots, some arborio rice, salt, freshly ground pepper*, chicken stock (Thanksgiving turkey stock again), and water. Close up the pressure cooker, bring to pressure over high head, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for five minutes. Then turn off the heat and let the pan sit for ten minutes before releasing the remaining pressure. Letting food continue to cook while the pan sits off the heat is a new technique for me; I've seen in a couple of recipes lately.

* When I made this today, I was sure the recipe said black pepper, and that's what I used since the black pepper grinder always at hand. The only criticism I had of the finished soup was that the black flecks were too visible. Now I read again and see it actually says "freshly ground pepper, preferably white." It would be good if I could learn to overcome my expectations and read properly!

Purée the soup, then stir in a tablespoon of vodka and a tablespoon of chopped chervil. That's all there is to it. The soup was so simple, it's really hard to believe how good it was.

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Quick Chicken with Garlic, Tarragon, and Red Wine

For today's pressure cooker meal, I turned to The Pressure Cooker Gourmet, by Victoria Wise.

Wise says that variations on this recipe appeared in her second cookbook and in her microwave cookbook. For this book, she turned it into a pressure cooker recipe. And it's decidedly a winner, so quick and easy it can be on the table within fifteen minutes.

You start by heating oil in the pressure cooker. Then you add boneless chicken thighs, salt and pepper them, and toss in the oil. (My thighs were skinless also; I used about 250g/8.8oz for two people, a half recipe.) Then you add a bunch of big garlic cloves halved, tarragon (dried or fresh), and one cup of red wine*. Close the pressure cooker and bring to pressure over high heat, about two minutes. (I see now that I misread this and cooked it for two minutes after coming to pressure; the dish did not suffer.) Then lower the heat to medium and cook two more minutes. Then remove from the heat and let it sit for two more minutes. Now release the pressure. Put the thighs on a serving platter (I put them directly onto the plates), then reduce the juices over hight heat for 2 minutes. Swirl in a chunk of butter and pour the sauce over the thighs.

* Because I was making a half recipe, this should have been a half cup of red wine. But the minimum amount of liquid in the pressure cooker is one cup. So I used the full amount and we had leftover sauce at the end.

This sounds so simple, but it was extra delicious. The only thing I might do is mash the garlic cloves to make the sauce smooth. Those melting soft half cloves were really nice.

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?