Sunday, December 12, 2010

December Decadence

We got invited to the 11th iteration of a party entitled "December Decadence." Attendees were asked do whatever was decadent to them. Dress up, dress down; bring chocolate or chips and dip... Do what you want, but whatever you do, indulge yourself.

I decided to indulge myself in a little cocktail history.

Champagne (California sparkling wine, actually) and Jamaica rum (Appleton Estates):

Making Rocky Mountain Punch

Lemon slices:

Making Rocky Mountain Punch


Making Rocky Mountain Punch

...and you end up with Rocky Mountain Punch, a recipe from Jerry Thomas' 1862 Bonvivant's Companion.

Rocky Mountain Punch

Notice I also froze my own giant ice blocks to fit in the jar. #cocktailnerd, anyone?

As the spigot jar was empty in a number of hours, I'll call this venture a success. If I did it again, I would mix the rum, maraschino, and sugar, and macerate the lemon slices first, then add the sparkling wine; as it ws, my stirring made the champagne go a little flat. Either way, it was fun to build the punch in front of everyone; I think more people tried it than might have otherwise because they got to see me make it.

Here's the recipe for Rocky Mountain Punch as written in the book; try it out at a party this season!

Rocky Mountain Punch

For a mixed party of twenty
From a recipe in the possession of Major James Foster
This delicious punch is composed as follows:

Five bottles of champagne
One quart of Jamaice rum
One pint of maraschino
Six lemons, sliced
Sugar to taste

Mix the above ingredients in a large punch bowl, then place in the center of the bowl a large square block of ice, ornamented with rock candy, loaf sugar, sliced lemons or oranges, and fruits in season. This is a splendid punch for New Year's Day.

Friday, December 3, 2010

How was your Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving dinner

With all the leftovers finally gone, I thought I'd look back a week to how I spent my Thanksgiving. And by "how I spent my Thanksgiving," I mean "what I cooked for Thanksgiving."

I think Thanksgiving could easily be my favorite holiday, because it glorifies my two main hobbies: cooking and dining. An annual excuse to cook a large meal to share with friends and family? Yes, please!

This year, I made the same cranberry sauce with orange peel and brussels sprouts with lemon and poppyseeds that I've made the past two years; these dishes are easily becoming traditions. But when it came to the turkey, I wanted to try something different.

The past two years, I've cooked Thanksgiving dinner for four people and chose to roast a turkey breast, rather than a whole bird. It's the right amount of meat and you don't have to worry about overcooking it while waiting on the dark meat. It worked well, but I wanted to be able to try something new this year. And besides, I'm a dark meat girl.

Enter Mark Bittman's braised turkey thighs. With pancetta, cherry tomatoes, and olives, what didn't sound good about this dish?

Braised turkey thighs provencal
The answer is, "Nothing."

Braised dark meat, exotic accompaniments--I was all over this. And I even used some Punt e mes in my cooking liquid. Unfortunately, the recipe isn't especially carefully written, and I didn't really know how long it would take to cook, especially at 200 degrees.

Long story short: two hours later, the meat still wasn't cooked through. I put the dish back in the oven at our hosts' house, but the temperature was higher and some of the meat dried out. I enjoyed the porky vegetables, but ended up not enjoying the turkey itself that much. Everyone else seemed to like it, though.

Braised turkey thighs provencal
At least it looked nice.

I also made pumpkin pie. This was my first time making a pie crust from scratch. It was successful enough to encourage me to try again (but not so successful for me to consider quitting while I'm ahead). I followed both pie dough and filling recipes from Smitten Kitchen--this pumpkin pie filling is really amazing.

Pumpkin pie
Topped with maple-bourbon cream sauce, by the way.

And next year? Well, I'm obviously planning to make the cranberry sauce and brussels sprouts. But when it comes to turkey, I want to try something different again--next year, I want to skip the turkey altogether.

No, I'm not going vegetarian. But I've added myself to the ranks of those who just don't find turkey that appealing. We cook it once a year, which consequently means that we don't really get to practice it. It takes a long time, it's more food than we really need, and the taste just doesn't make it worth it for me.

If we want poultry, really flavorful roast chicken is dead simple. But why not brisket, or ribs? I even saw a tweet from someone who was making porchetta. Seriously, why not?

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jasper's Rum Punch

I've got a couple posts in the works, including a Thanksgiving post, but in the meantime, here are a few words about a drink I enjoyed the day after Thanksgiving.

Jasper's Rum Punch
There ain't no Coca Cola in that glass.

In July I purchased a bottle of Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum, and used it for making stronger-than-usual Hemingway Daiquiris on the 4th. Since then, however, it's just been sitting on my bar. Given its high alcohol content, Wray & Nephew is often used in combination with other rums in relatively complex tiki drinks, and I hadn't found any recipes that convinced me to buy the necessary ingredients.

While enjoying a cocktail or two at Comstock Saloon last week, my friend behind the bar passed over a copy of Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. We started flipping through and I came across "Jasper's Rum Punch," a drink made with equal parts Wray & Nephew and something called "Jasper's secret mix."

The secret mix, detailed at the top of the page, consists of the following, stirred together and bottled:

  • juice of 12 limes
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 ounces Angostura Bitters
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg, grated

With the exception of the 12 limes (I needed a few more), I had all those things at home! And if you're reading this blog you're probably familiar with my affection for Angostura. This had to be done.

So, on the day after Thanksgiving, I juiced 12 limes and avoided grating my knuckles along with the nutmeg, and combined those with the sugar and bitters, and then stuck it in the fridge. A few hours later, I combined 1.5 ounces each of the mix and Wray & Nephew in a glass with cracked ice.

Jasper's Rum Punch is really delicious. You really can't go wrong with Angostura and freshly grated nutmeg, and the spices make it both island-y and appropriate for the holidays. I'd be interested to try it with turbinado sugar, but regular white sugar was perfectly good.

A word to the wise: the ice really is necessary. At 126 proof, this rum really packs a punch, and while the flavors are pretty balanced, this drink does have the power to knock you off your feet. Enough ice crushed so that it will melt sooner than later may allow you to retain your dignity.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Happy Birthday, Andrew!

Monkey cake!

I did not end up making my husband (then fiancé) a birthday cake last year, so I made up for it this year with a two-layer banana cake with chocolate butter cream, decorated like a monkey (featured on Smitten Kitchen). I don't think I've made and decorated a layer cake since my second year of college, when I made a Ms. Pacman cake for a friend.

The monkey cake was a success, served at the birthday party alongside those wonderful enchiladas sencillas and cabbage slaw that I've made before--the two pans of enchiladas disappeared in an instant. We're still working our way through the cake.

Monkey cake!
There is much less than this much cake left.

The party happened after Andrew's actually birthday. On the day itself I made lasagna, with San Marzano tomatoes, Harley Farms goat ricotta, mild Italian sausage, and half a package of frozen spinach that's been hanging around for awhile. The recipe is from Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook, and I remember my mom making it when I was a kid; the original recipe was vegetarian (my favorite part is the dash of nutmeg in the ricotta-spinach filling), but I was pleased with this compromise: the spinach I wanted and the meat the birthday boy wanted.


For dessert a surprise: rice pudding! To make it extra surprising, I added shaved dark chocolate and some garam masala. The flavors were perfect, but the chocolate made the pudding a little thick, and it basically solidified in the fridge. Next time, I'll use cocoa instead of chocolate.

Chocolate-garam masala rice pudding

Happy birthday, Andrew! I hope it was a good one.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I love brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts, bacon, beans, and balsamic

They're a fairly notorious vegetable. As a child, I knew that my father liked them but that I wasn't supposed to; I don't remember eating them often and I don't remember how I felt about eating them when I did.

It wasn't until much later, after I had already decided to question any food aversion I'd previously had and just try everything, that I came to love brussels sprouts.

While I did try pan roasted them, to good effect, during college, the love affair didn't really blossom until a couple years ago, my first Thanksgiving in Texas and first Thanksgiving when I would be cooking the entire meal myself (if only for four people). I was looking for a good green side dish and found the perfect one: hashed brussels sprouts with white wine, lemon, and poppy seeds:

Hashed brussels sprouts

I had never heard of, never thought to slice up brussels sprouts, but slice them up I did. After briefly sauteeing some garlic in olive oil, the sprouts are added to the pan along with lemon juice and white wine. Cook only long enough to soften the sprouts and turn them bright green, then remove from the heat and stir in a generous amount of poppy seeds. Season with salt and serve.

(This dish is doubly good for Thanksgiving because it cooks so quickly!)

I love the bright green color of the sprouts, the bright, fresh flavor of the lemon juice, the fact that the sprouts stay a little crunchy, and the added texture of the poppy seeds.

Since that dish, sauteeing or stir-frying brussels sprouts has been my favorite way to prepare them--it's fast and delicious and allows to incorporate a variety of flavors, depending on what you're feeling like.

Tonight's dinner (see the photo at the top of the post) is an excellent example, inspired by the brussels sprouts with lentils and prosciutto from The Stone Soup. I started by chopping up a bunch of bacon and frying it up in my Le Creuset french oven. Once it was mostly cooked, I added 8 or 9 brussels sprouts, ends chopped off, cut in half, then sliced into thirds. I allowed these to brown with the bacon, stirring occasionally, until they were tender but not too soft. Then I added a drained can of cannellini beans and stirred everything around until the beans were warmed through. I turned off the heat and added about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. After plating, I topped the dish off with some crumbled feta cheese that we bought yesterday on our tour of Harley Farms Goat Dairy (goats! cheese! awesomeness!).

These ladies have nothing to do with brussels sprouts.

If you think you don't like brussels sprouts, I urge you to give one of these recipes a try, and see if my favorite mini cabbages can't rock your world.

Some recipes I am looking forward to trying:

Monday, October 11, 2010

What I cooked this week, Episode 17

I've had a couple realizations recently.

The first is that I should really give these posts more interesting names. It's been cool to track the number of week that I've been meeting my goal of doing a lot of cooking and cooking new things, but "Episode 17" is not especially compelling as a title.

The second realization is that I'm probably going to start having a lot of repeat dishes. Looking back on this series, I'm pretty proud of myself for the variety I've had, a mixture of old favorites of mine (but new to the blog) and new things I've tried for the first time. And while I intend to keep trying new things, items from the past few months are going to cycle back in, and while I might have something new to say, I also might not.

So, going forward I think I will limit myself to posting about things that are new, either to me or the blog, or that are at least new experiences (including new experiences with old dishes). Maybe this will inspire me to actually write more tutorials, rather than just listing what I've done. However it goes, my third realization was that I've done a good job of showing myself that I can in fact fit a good deal of cooking into my regular routine, and it's a solid part of my routine now, which was the ultimate point.

All that said:

Episode 17, October 4-October 10

Beet risotto
Beet risotto

An old favorite. I remember asking my then-fiancé, "Do you like beets?" And he didn't know, so I made risotto with beets and it was declared a success. While it is certainly tasty, the best part about this dish is probably that the beets dye the rice a brilliant magenta. It's fun with spinach or beet greens tossed in as well.

Chicken-apple-fontina puff pastry
Chicken apple tart

This was a dinner-for-one, using up a bunch of leftovers: leftover puff pastry and apples from last week's tarts; leftover shredded chicken from the tikka masala; leftover fontina cheese from mac n cheese a couple weeks ago. I added some grated nutmeg for a little zest. This was tasty, but would have been better if the apples were sweeter and juicier.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Chicken braised with garlic

Actually 20-25 cloves of garlic in this case, since I made a halfish batch. Another favorite of mine, this recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen. You brown skin-on, bone-in chicken, then add whole garlic cloves, wine, and chicken stock (I used my homemade stock) and braise the chicken and garlic until the chicken is cooked through. Unfortunately, this attempt at this dish did not turn out as well as previous attempts; as you can see the garlic got a little burned, as opposed to caramelized. Still, it results in really juicy chicken.

Curried chicken salad
Curried chicken salad

Another meal to use up leftovers: the rest of the shredded chicken, plus almonds and dried cranberries that were just lying around, and some diced apple went into this salad. The dressing is mayonnaise + plain yogurt + curry powder. Unfortunately, I ran out of curry powder before I had added as much as I would have liked.

Four-ingredient flourless chocolate cake
Four-ingredient flourless chocolate cake

The Stone Soup is to thank for this recipe, an amazingly simple dessert that takes relatively little work. The little bit of work you need to do is whip an egg white, and if you're willing to get your mixer dirty (I wasn't at the time) then even that isn't really a chore. My cakes did not turn out as prettily as Jules', but they were very tasty, especially thanks to the 82% cacao chocolate bar I used.

Corn chowder with chilies
Corn chowder with chilies

Fresh corn is still showing up at the farmers' market, and it's getting cheaper and cheaper, so I was excited to try this Pioneer Woman recipe for corn chowder. The special ingredient is canned chilies, a combination of hatch green and chilpotle in adobo. A word of warning: the chilpotles are pretty potent; I only put in two and that was plenty of spice for my slightly-spice-averse husband (luckily he enjoyed the chowder enough to work through the heat!). The other awesome ingredient: bacon. I made a full batch of this chowder and look forward to working my way through the leftovers.

Orange Julius
Orange Julius

Partly to counter the heat in the chowder, and partly because I couldn't get it out of my head after seeing the recipe, I decided to make orange julius to go with dinner (also, the colors coordinate so well!). I actually would have liked it to have a little stronger orange flavor, but even so it was delicious.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What I cooked this week, Episode 16

I was sick all week. Sick as a dog, you might say. Plus I was getting up at 6 most mornings for work. Consequently? Not much cooking. However, I did my best to make up for it on Sunday and prepare something that really counted.

Episode 16, September 27-October 3

Chicken Tikka Masala and cabbage stir-fried with cumin, fennel, and sesame seeds
Chicken tikka masala and green cabbage stir-fried with cumin, fennel, and sesame seeds

I have a couple voluminous Indian cookbooks in my collection, and up until last Sunday I had made just a single recipe from either of them (paneer, from 660 Curries). I had browsed through both it and Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking but allowed myself to be intimidated by the long lists of spices. For shame.

I've built up my spice collection since then, and when I was looking for something to accompany Jeters' recipe for Chicken Tikka Malasa (perhaps my husband's favorite dish ever), I decided up this recipe for stir-fried cabbage. It gets cooked up with onions that caramelize, some garam masala, cayenne, and lemon, and whole cumin, fennel, and sesame seeds. I really liked the texture the whole seeds added to the final dish, and the surprise bursts of fennel.

The tikka masala was quite nice. I used ground fenugreek seed instead of dried leaves, and I'd be interested in acquiring some to see what the difference is; I also added some salt and black pepper. We'll definitely make it again!

Puff pastry apple tart
Apple tart

Man, is store-bought puff pastry the cheater-iest thing in the world, or what? Even more so than last week's pot pie, this apple tart is a cinch to throw together. Following directions from the Pioneer Woman, I sliced up a teeny gala apple from the farmers' market, tossed the slices with brown sugar and lemon juice, and layered them on top of two squares of puff pastry. Into the oven for a bit and voila! I've made this with peaches before, too. I'm sure a homemade flaky pastry crust would be twice as delicious, but this is a nice, rather elegant-looking dessert that requires basically no effort at all.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What I cooked this week, Episode 15

Good thing I got a lot of cooking done early last week, because by the end of the week I found myself in the clutches of a horrible cold. Still struggling to get free, in fact; I don't expect to have much to post next week.

Episode 15, September 20-September 26

Baked mac n cheese
Baked mac n cheese

This was a week of comfort food (perhaps I felt the cold coming on?), starting with baked mac n cheese. Whole wheat spirals, Niman Ranch bacon, and cheese sauce made from leftover Point Reyes blue cheese and fontina, topped with Vella Dry Jack. I have to say, I quite liked the blue cheese flavor and will definitely consider it for future baked macs.

Enchiladas sencillas with chicken
Enchiladas sencillas, take 2

You may remember these enchiladas from Episode 12. Well, guess what? They are still delicious. I used poblano and jalapeño peppers in the sauce this time, instead of serranos, and I think Andrew appreciated the toned-down heat (and I loved the flavor from the poblanos). We put extra cheese on top this time, too. I think these enchiladas are a real keeper; I can make them without following the recipe now, and they've been popular with everyone who's had a taste.

Chicken pot pie with creme fraiche
Chicken pot pie

This is a recipe from Epicurious that I've made a couple times in the past. It's nice's kind of cheat-y. You use creme fraiche to thicken the filling and make it creamy, and you put a layer of (yes, store-bought) puff pastry over the top instead of making a pie crust. Whatever. I like the recipe because the filling is really adaptable. I had cilantro, so I used that instead of the majoram, and I swapped out the carrots for poblanos, to go with the cilantro. I added extra bacon to make up for having a little too-little chicken. Not counting the pan you bake it in, it only takes one pot to make it. What are you waiting for?

Breakfast tacos
Breakfast tacos!

The morning I acknowledge that yes, I really was sicksicksick, I made breakfast tacos to console myself. Even my deadened taste buds appreciated the combination of fresh guacamole, bacon, and cheesy eggs in a warm corn tortilla.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What I cooked this week, Episode 14

I took so long getting around to putting this post up that I'm making it a double--here's what I made in the past two weeks.

If I had been neglecting my kitchen recently, I've definitely made up for it by now.

Episode 14, September 6-September 19

Egg salad
Egg salad

Let's start out simply, with the egg salad I've been making since I was a kid: mayonnaise, honey mustard, dill, salt and pepper. My honey mustard of choice is Jack Daniels, but right now we've got Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Honey Spice on hand.

Mixed greens with blue cheese, blueberries, and walnuts
Blueberry, blue cheese, walnut salad with bacon-balsamic dressing

Labor day was warm here in San Francisco, so we decided to keep dinner light: a green salad with Point Reyes blue cheese, blue berries, and walnuts; I made a bacon-balsamic dressing.

Mixed greens with egg, blue cheese, walnuts, and mustard dressing
Salad remix

I remixed this salad for lunch the next day: same greens, same cheese, same walnuts, but with hardboiled egg and mustard-vinaigrette. Have I mentioned how much I love making my own salad dressings? I will never buy bottled dressing again.

Pizza with chevre, roasted chinese eggplant, proscuitto, heirloom tomatoes, and mozzarella

After eying heirloom tomatoes all summer, I decided to showcase some on this pizza. I used soft chevre as the base, then laid down roasted chinese eggplant, prosciutto, tomatoes, and a little mozzarella. Homemade crust, as always--by the way, I ran out of flour halfway through making the dough and had the run to the store. I ran out of flour the last time I made pizza, too. Seems like I should just put flour on my grocery list whenever I plan to make it.

Pickled grapes
Pickled grapes

Pickled grapes

I know--weird, right? But delicious! I'd had my eye on this Smitten Kitchen recipe since it was first posted, and when grapes started showing up at the farmers' markets I saw my opportunity. The grapes pickle in a brine of champagne vinegar, sugar, black peppercorns, brown mustard seeds, and cinnamon stick; I let them go for about a day and a half. I know, I know, it sounds weird, but if you are intrigued at all I highly suggest that you make these for a unique and delicious treat!

Oven spareribs and fresh corn casserole
Ribs 'n corn

One of the husband's favorites, Smitten Kitchen's spareribs, paired with a Pioneer Woman corn casserole that I've been wanting to make for ages. Both were quite tasty, though I need to remember that the ribs take SIX hours, not four.

Corny cheesy eggs
Corny cheesy eggs

I used up the leftover corn casserole by mixing it into some eggs, along with a generous amount of mozzarella, left over the pizza. Hooray for using up leftover ingredients!

Risotto with atichoke hearts, proscuitto, and homemade chicken stock
Risotto with artichoke hearts and prosciutto

Speaking of using leftover ingredients, I also had some prosciutto leftover from the pizza. Into a risotto it went, along with some artichoke hearts and chicken I made from my last farmers' market chicken.

At this point in the week, I decided that I had a great deal of pickled grapes, and while eating them by themselves just straight out of the jar was fine, the next best option would be to have...

...a wine and cheese party!
Cheese and wine shindig!

All of the food and wine was from California: fennel salami made locally, grapes, strawberries, and tamari-glazed almonds from neighborhood farmers' markets, Vella Dry Jack, Nicasio Square, and Humboldt Fog cheeses, and even the crackers, since I made them from scratch:

Cream crackers
Cream crackers

This is a recipe of Mark Bittman's that I followed the last time we had a wine and cheese shindig, and it's beautiful: the dough is easy to roll out thin, and assuming you roll it thin enough and remember to prick the dough before baking (sorry, batch #1!), they turn out amazingly. This variation uses cream as the liquid, and a large amount of butter as the fat. Mmmm. They're more like pastry than crackers you might think of, and not necessarily the best for serving with cheese, since they are a little soft. But no one seemed to mind.

Onion panade
Onion panade

This is undoubtedly the least visually-appealing dish I have made in a long time. Luckily, it makes up for it being tasty. This recipe from The Stone Soup is basically french onion soup in bread pudding form--tons of browned onions, piled together with chunks of bread and cheese, soaked in chicken broth (I used my homemade stuff) and then baked until warm and melty. As I said, ugly, but tasty.

Pickled strawberries
Pickled strawberries

I reused the bring from the grapes for some strawberries. While they're not bad, I think strawberry pickles would be better with balsamic vinegar as the base and a different seasoning mix.

Linguine with tomato pesto
Linguini with tomato pesto and sausage

I really wanted to make this tomato-almond pesto recipe from Smitten Kitchen, but I already had pine nuts and walnuts at home so just used those instead of buying almonds specifically for the purpose. While I still want to try to almond version sometime, this variation turned out well on top of some fresh linguine (store bought--I can't imagine making linguine at home without a pasta roller) with some Niman Ranch sausages for extra protein.

Tofu scramble
Tofu scramble with roasted red peppers, smoken pimenton, onion, and tomato paste

A visiting vegan friend provided me with the perfect excuse to try The Stone Soup's tofu scramble, guaranteed to please veggie- and meat-lovers alike. As a committed omnivore, I found it delightful, and I'm pleased say my carnivorous other half enjoyed it as well. The tofu is joined by roasted red peppers (from a jar), tomato paste, and smoked paprika, and we added half a diced onion; we served it over a bed of spinach with some shredded basil (left over from the pesto) on top. This was really, really good, and armed with the knowledge that "scrambling" tofu is the best way to get it to soak up lots of flavor, I look forward to adding tofu to my regular protein line-up.

Monday, September 6, 2010

What I cooked this week, Episode 13

Another light week--travel and preparing for travel tend to have that effect.

Episode 13, August 30-September 5

Blueberry mini muffins
Blueberry mini muffins

I wanted to make this blueberry muffin recipe from Smitten Kitchen with blueberries from the farmers' market, but its yield of 9 or 10 large muffins sounded like too many for Andrew and I to eat but not enough for him to take to work and share. So, I adapted the recipe for mini muffins by using mini muffin tins (duh) and reducing the baking time to 15-20 minutes. I probably could have left them in for a little longer than I did to get them browner. This resulted in around 40 minis--plenty for sharing!

Bacon green beans with tomato, and mashed Yukon Gold potatoes
Bacon with green beans and tomatoes and mashed yukon gold potatoes

Why yes, I DID use enough bacon in this dish for it to be the main protein of the meal! I cut the bacon into pieces, fried it up, then cooked the green beans in the same pan, adding a little chicken stock and covering. Once they were done, I added the bacon back in as well as some chopped Roma tomato. For the potatoes, I boiled then mashed four small Yukon Golds from the farmers' market, then added unsalted butter, creme fraiche, milk, chopped shallot, and salt and pepper. This meal was delicious.

Grilled salmon and grilled watermelon and tomato salad with basil
Grilled salmon and grilled watermelon and tomato salad

While visiting my parents, I took advantage of the fact that they have a grill to try something I've been wanting to make since I first had it at a dinner in Houston: grilled watermelon. I followed a recipe from NYTimes for a watermelon and tomato salad with fresh basil (we used basil from my mother's garden). Our grill was not as hot as it needed to be, but with a little extra time we pretty much got what I was looking for--the heat transforms the texture of the watermelon so that it is no longer mealy, but sort of meaty and smooth. Will definitely try again, and I recommend it!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What I cooked this week, Episode 12

Well, I made up for the previous week by cooking up a storm this time. Best news of the week? There is an awesome farmers' on Wednesdays that's larger and closer to my apartment than the one I go to on Sundays! Unfortunately it only runs through October, so I need to make the most of it!

Episode 12, August 23-August 29

Chicken stuffed with chevre and sage and pan-grilled corn
Goat cheese chicken, pan-grilled corn, and peaches

I've been making this chicken recipe since my first year of college: pound some chicken breast thin, spread with goat cheese that's been mixed with herbs, roll up the chicken, bread it, and bake it. I used crushed TLC 7 grain crackers for the crust this time, and we could have use more of them (hence the patchy effect), but the chicken was still delicious. The corn I "grilled" in my La Creuset dutch oven in a bunch of butter, which was fabulous. We enjoyed fresh peaches and some out of season grapefruit on the side.

Corn-zucchini-lentil stir fry
Corn and zucchini "stir fry" with lentils

We had a cob of corn leftover from the previous dinner. I cut the kernels off the cob and sautéed them in bacon fat with some zucchini. I added half a can of lentils at the end, to give the dish some protein, and topped with some cayenne pepper. Not a bad lunch.

Chicken enchiladas with red sauce and red cabbage slaw

I can always tell when my husband really enjoys something I've cooked because it's the only time he eats more than I do. It was true with the ribs a few weeks back, and it was true with these enchiladas.

Enchiladas - a cross-section

My mother recently gifted me two cookbooks by Diana Kennedy, who is probably the leading expert on Mexican regional cuisine. All the recipes sound wonderful, but some of them are a little intimidating, so these "enchiladas sencillas" sounded like a great way to get my feet wet ("sencillo" means "simple"). The sauce is tomatoes, serranos, and garlic with creme fraiche; the enchiladas are filled with shredded chicken and diced onion; and it all gets topped off with a little cheese (veggies and chicken and from farmers' markets). MAN these were delicious, and true to their name they were pretty easy to make. The slaw is red cabbage, carrots, scallions, and cilantro, with an olive oil-lime-garlic-mustard dressing. Crunchy!

Lamb-bulgur burgers with feta and pan fried brussels sprouts
Lamb-bulgar burgers

Inspired by last week's chicken burgers, I decided to make naked burgers again, this time with some ground lamb I bought at the Wednesday farmers' market. I used a Mark Bittman recipe as a starting point and bulked up the patties with bulgur, since I had a bunch left from the tagine. I also added a bit of crumbled feta to the patty mix. Next time, I'll skip the bulgur, but they were pretty good. I have a couple extras in the freezer. The brussels sprouts were from the Sunday market.
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Chicken quesadilla

I had tortillas, chicken, and cheese leftover from the enchiladas, so I made myself a quesadilla for lunch. I added some canned hatch chiles that I had in the cupboard.

Breakfast tacos
Breakfast tacos

To use up the last of the tortillas I purchased, we had breakfast tacos for a weekend lunch. I made scrambled eggs with creme fraiche and cooked some bacon. We piled these onto the tortillas with some cilantro and store-bought mango-peach salsa. (No egg scare for us--we buy local small production eggs at the market!)

Eggplant ricotta and garlic bread
Eggplant ricotta and garlic bread

This dish would be more accurately titled "Ricotta eggplant" as it ended up a little heavy on the ricotta side. Imagine lasagna, except that instead of noodles you have slices of tomato and roasted eggplant. Pretty good, but I didn't use enough oil on the eggplant slices when they went in he oven so they were a little dry. The garlic bread, on the other hand, was surperb. I used a baguette I purchased from the bakery stall at the market and prepared it the way I learned to make garlic bread in elementary school:

1. Slice the bread almost all the way through but leave the slices attached.
2. Melt butter with minced garlic.
3. Spoon garlic butter in between the slices and pour over the top.
4. Wrap in tin foil and bake briefly.
5. Unwrap, tear off slices, and enjoy!