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 jalapeƱo 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 because...it'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!