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Archive for the ‘amateur’ Category
Tuesday, May 21st, 2013
My son said, “I don’t like cabbage.” I said, “It’s not cabbage, it’s slaw.”
I like traditional cole slaw but can only eat so much of it. I don’t like cooked cabbage. I’ve been getting cabbage from my CSA so I’ve been experimenting. When I decided to make chicken with the honey-soy glaze I found a while back I decided to make a chinese cabbage salad.
We all loved it, my son had 2 helpings and I had the leftovers the next day for lunch and it was even better!
- 5T Usukuchi soy sauce
- 3T Seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1 inch ginger, grated
- 2T sesame oil
- 1/4 c canola oil
- 2c cabbage, shredded
- 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
Toss everything together in a bowl or bag and let it sit for at least an hour. Strain off the liquid and eat!
Friday, March 8th, 2013
My husband isn’t a fan of chewing meat off a bone. He was out of town so I thought I’d try out making ribs. I’d never made them before since I too wasn’t a fan of gnawing on bones, but I got over it. My son recently discovered he like chicken wings because you only get a little meat at a time…apparently cutting smaller pieces of non-bony meat isn’t an option for him. So I figured he’d like eating ribs for that reason.
I don’t really like barbecue sauce. I think it’s the ketchupy taste, not sure. I just knew I wasn’t going to make goopy ribs. I wanted a dry rub. The rub I use on rack of lamb is so good I thought I’d just do that. I got the lamb recipe from Epicurious and always have cumin, cocoa and coffee around. I rubbed that on the ribs and put them in the fridge. About an hour before I wanted to put them in the oven I took them out of the fridge to bring them up to room temperature.
I put them in a 375° oven for 40 minutes, took them out, brought the oven up to 450° and put them back in for 15 minutes, turning them over once. The rub was really good for me but I think I should have put some butter on them for the last 15 minutes like I do with the lamb. I forgot about that and it really helps the rub not be so dry. The ribs were perfectly cooked though. Juicy and delicious!!
Friday, March 1st, 2013
I thought this recipe from Cooking.com’s newsletter looked tasty, kid-friendly and easy. Well, this was a miss. The broth had too much sugar in it. I made the rookie mistake of not tasting the broth before cooking the chicken in it (or even before ladling it into the bowls). I ate it but it wasn’t great. I added soy sauce to it but it was still cloyingly sweet.
As a side project, inspired by Brooke’s misstep in the Top Chef finale when she served chicken wings, I thought they looked really good. I never, ever cook the chicken wings. I think there’s too little meat to warrant attention. But for the rice bowl I only needed the breast meat, I froze the legs for later and I will make stock from the back. That left these little wings. I was only cooking for my son and I last night so I cut off the wing tips, cut each wing into two pieces and had 4 little bits to cook up for the two of us.
I went to Epicurious to figure out how I wanted to do these and found this great and easy marinade for a honey-soy glaze. Too bad I only had 2 wings to work with! These were sooooo much better than the rice bowl and we only got two little pieces each!
I will start saving my wings and make this one again. Finally, something that makes them worth keeping!
Thursday, February 28th, 2013
Hey, I didn’t say all the inspirations would be for dinner. I got a Cooking.com newsletter that had a blueberry pancake recipe and I thought, “Sure! Why not?” I usually make waffles. I prefer them actually. But the whole point of this newsletter exercise is to change things up a bit.
My eight-year-old helped me mix everything up and ate about a pound of frozen blueberries in the process! But they were great. He had two servings (of 3 pancakes each!) and my husband and I both had our single servings like non-growing kids.
Unlike all the other recipes, I don’t think I changed anything in this one because this is like baking…and we all know how I feel about baking. The measuring is important! My son measured it all out because he likes that part. I just cooked ‘em when that was all done. My skillet doesn’t heat evenly so they got a little darker than desired but that didn’t stop us from finishing every one of them!
I used frozen blueberries in the pancakes and fresh as a garnish. I’d make these again.
Friday, February 22nd, 2013
I’ve got a cold. I just got mostly over the flu and got walloped with head congestion. Blargh. So, I want soup. Lots of soup. It just so happened that Food and Wine’s newsletter yesterday had soup! Italian Wedding Soup to be exact.
I got my frozen chicken backs from my freezer and got the stock going on the stove around noon. Simmer simmer simmer. I didn’t change a whole lot in the recipe…well, I left out the cheese since I hate cheese. I added some minced garlic to the meatballs because, well, I like garlic! I put a cup of orzo rather than 1/4 cup. Oh, and I used dried Umbrian chickpeas rather than canned because they’re soooo much better! I pressure cooked them for 35 minutes in my new, nifty Breville Fast/Slow Cooker. Miracles of science, I tell you! The beans cooked perfectly.
I brought the chicken stock up to a boil, added the orzo. It takes 8 minutes so I added the meatballs at the same time since they’d take 8-10. With 5 minutes left I added the chickpeas and the spinach. Oh, and salt! I undersalted everything a little bit, I had to add it at the table.
I had it again for lunch today and, although the orzo does get a little mushy after being reheated, it’s good as leftovers!
Friday, February 22nd, 2013
I haven’t made Indian food in ages. When my son begs for mac-n-cheese…yes, my child who gobbles up raw oysters, serrano ham and ramen still begs for the one “kid” food he likes…I make him that and make something for my husband and I that I know my kid won’t like. Usually Indian food.
I had just-caught petrale sole from my Seafood CSA. It was 6pm and I had no plan for dinner. I got out the fish and stared at it for a while. I wandered to the pantry and stared into it too. Potatoes…I have potatoes. I could make french fries for…what…fish and chips? No. CURRY!
I have this Penzey’s ready-made curry powder that I rarely ever use. It’s not really old, it doesn’t taste like dust or anything yet, it’s just not what I reach for first. But it’s really quite good!
I cut up the potatoes and tossed them with olive oil, added some sliced shallots then added curry powder, cayenne and coriander seeds. Those went in the oven at 400° for about 45 minutes. Why do potatoes take soooo long?!?!?
For the fish, I drenched the fillets in egg yolk then dredged them in curry cashews. I don’t know if your store’s bulk section carries these but they are like crack. Curry cashews. Best snack ever. Simple. Awesome. I put a cup or 2 of them in the food processor and made curry cashew crumbs. After crusting the fish with the cashews I put it in a cast iron pan over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes per side or so. Long enough to cook the fish through but not burn the cashews. If the cashews start cooking too fast, lower the heat!
While those were cooking I took a cup or 2 of plain yogurt and added a tablespoon of coriander powder and 2 tablespoons of cumin plus some salt and some cayenne. And I diced a cucumber because I always want cucumber for the cooling of the spice with Indian food!
When everything was cooked I served it up with a spoonful of mango pickles (I prefer lime or lemon pickles but we’re all out!).
I just about licked my plate clean, this turned out exactly like I envisioned it.
Sunday, February 3rd, 2013
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed.
3 large shallots (equivalent to the amount a medium onion would give you)
2 cloves garlic
6 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup pancetta
4 slices bacon
Lemon juice (one lemon)
Finely mince or food-processor the shallots and garlic. Saute in butter with the pancetta until starting to brown on the edges. Deglaze with a few tablespoons of white wine. Add potatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are soft.
Puree. Thin with chicken stock if needed. Whisk in lemon juice.
Top with creme fraiche and/or bacon.
Even though, aside from the bacon on top, there’s no cream or much fat in this dish, it’s really really rich. I think as a whole big bowl, it may be a bit much but would be good as an appetizer in a shot glass for a nice dinner.
Thursday, January 31st, 2013
My newest adventure is actually grabbing a recipe from one of the bazillion newsletters I get each day and cooking something from it for dinner that night. One night in and I’m already improvising of course. I never follow recipes! The first recipe was from the Epicurious newsletter: Rigatoni with Spicy Calabrese-Style Pork Ragù
The first thing I changed about this recipe is the simmer-for-4-hours bit. I didn’t have 4 hours. The second thing was I only had a pound of sausage and no ground pork. I did say “inspiration” right? Oh, and no carrots. I food-processed the onion, celery, garlic and chili flakes. Meanwhile I browned the sausage until it was almost cooked through. I took out the sausage and put the pureed veggies into the pan and cooked all the liquid off of those until the edges started getting toasty.
Then I added the sausage back in, tossed it with the puree and added 2 cans of tomatoes that I pureed in the food processor and one can diced. I like some chunks in my sauce sometimes. I put that on low and let it simmer until it was thick.
I didn’t have any rigatoni…seriously, I didn’t go to the store for this one! I ran with what I had! I had farfalle so I cooked that until it was 1 minute from done then I put the pasta in the pan with the sauce and let it cook the last minute in the sauce.
I learned that trick from Molto Mario years ago! It’s the only way to have pasta. It integrates all the flavors and keeps the pasta from becoming a clump under the sauce.
In the end it only took about 45 minutes for the whole process. I’m sure it would have been far richer and wonderful with 4 hours of simmering and more pork. I’ll try that sometime. This was a lot like a typical go-to pasta dish I make a lot without a recipe but the trick I liked was food-processoring the veg. It integrated the flavors into the meat and tomatoes much more quickly I think.
I thought I’d do a second day of newsletter recipes tonight but all the newsletters were Superbowl themed and I was not interested in quesadillas or chili so the next adventure will have to wait until next week when “ball” season is done.
Thursday, January 10th, 2013
We had a bit of a hectic schedule. It was the first day back to school for my son after the winter break. I was back to work at his school as well after not working for 3 ½ months since my husband’s motorcycle accident and I stayed home as a 24-7 nurse. I raced home from the day at school, prepped the chicken, tossed it in the marinade then put it in the fridge so we could head out to my son’s drum lessons.
We ran back into the house at 5:30 and I got started. I was planning on barbecuing but it was cold out and I didn’t want to spend time outside! So I grabbed my cast iron skillet and turned on the oven.
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
2 cups white wine
1 red onion, sliced
1 T whole grain mustard
1 lemon, sliced
2 cups israeli couscous
2 cups chicken stock
½ cup pine nuts
Put all the ingredients into a ziploc and marinate for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 400?.
Remove from marinade (reserve it for later in the recipe), salt, and sear skin side down in a hot (preferably cast iron) pan until skin is brown and crispy. Turn the chicken over. Top with the red onions from the marinade. Put in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Meanwhile, put 2 cups of israeli couscous in a pot with 2 cups chicken stock and ½ a cup of the marinade liquid. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 10 minutes until tender. Stir in toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley.
The timing should work out perfectly if you let your chicken rest for about 5 minutes. Serve the chicken atop the couscous and enjoy!!
Friday, January 4th, 2013
We had Christmas at about 5 different houses this year. Bouncing from family to friends and back again. We wanted to have Christmas day at our own house though. So since we’d already made the rounds, we extended and invite out to any friends who didn’t have a place to go on Christmas…Christmas Orphans. We had a couple of people take us up on the offer and I decided, since it was a small group, to make something a tad fancy: Rack of lamb.
I made the recipe that I love but can’t take credit for, I didn’t make up the amazing combination of cocoa, cumin and coffee that’s in the dry rub. I honestly would never have put those together. But it is so good and is the only way I make lamb now.
Alongside the lamb I served a simple salad of fennel, satsumas and pomegranates in a pomegranate-lemon-shallot dressing.
The lamb turned out perfectly. I had gone to Whole Foods assuming I’d be picking up lamb imported from New Zealand since it’s winter. Turns out there’s a northern California rancher raising lamb year-round now so I got locally raised, grass-fed lamb. I was pleasantly surprised.
I hadn’t planned dessert but my eight year old jumped in and scooped up some Mission Hill Creamery Salted Caramel ice cream and topped it with some chocolate-covered pralines we made for gift bags. Not bad for no planning huh?!
The day after Christmas we went to our friends’ place for their annual Boxing Day party, had a lovely time, and came home with a bag of porcini from their “back yard.” Most were dryers, one was a griller. Perfect, firm, white, awesome.
We mostly struck out on our Thanksgiving foraging trip so this was a treat.
I’m finally coming up for air after the crazy holiday season. Just when I get back to the real world we’ll be leaving for the Cayman Cookout again this year. Our once-in-a-lifetime crazy trip is happening again. I can’t wait. I’ll be reporting live as much as I can!