Friday, May 17, 2013
I've been doing a lot of cooking and freezing lately. I seem to have completely missed the nesting instinct that should be inspiring cleaning and organizing at this point (poor Paul keeps thinking it's going to set in any day now), but I have definitely been inspired to prepare food for us to eat for the next month or so. I know this is irrational--my mom is close by and definitely won't let us starve--but I do feel more "prepared" knowing that at least we have some good food in the freezer. Anyway, the point of all of this is that when deciding which recipe to make for Food Revolution Day, my main criteria was something that could be made quickly for dinner. I had already spent enough time on my feet cooking, and just wanted something quick and easy. The first thing that popped into my head was this Deconstructed BLT and Eggs. It was actually the first recipe I made when I joined FFWD, and I remembered enjoying it. Moreover, Paul's arugula is growing excellently and I've been looking for ways to use it up. I made the hard boiled eggs earlier in the week (I use Sara Moulton's method and usually have better luck not getting the gray ring around the yolk, I'm not sure what happened this time) and the rest of the recipe came together in a snap. I used turkey bacon so I think it's a reasonably healthy dinner entree (at least that's what I'll tell myself), and one that we both enjoyed.
As far as revolutions go, I have never been very politically active, but this is definitely one that I can see myself getting behind. What we put in our bodies has a profound affect on both our own health, and the health of the planet. Cooking at home is a major part of this, and I'm glad that public awareness of all of its benefits is growing.
Friday, May 10, 2013
I wasn't sure what to expect from this one, but it seemed easy enough and I had all of the ingredients on hand, so I was happy to give it a go. One thing I never understand about French toast recipes--and this one is no exception--is why they suggest that the bread be soaked for such a short amount of time. Maybe my bread is harder than most people's (isn't the point to use stale bread?), but I never get enough flavor or the consistency that I like unless I soak for a while. For some reason, though, when making this I followed the recipe instead of trusting my instincts. The result? I absolutely love the custard layer, but think the bread part is only "ok". It is a little hard and doesn't have quite enough flavor for my taste. However, custard is one of my all-time favorite foods, so I've definitely been enjoying this one. This is an incredibly exciting time in my life, but also a huge, scary, transition into the unknown, and for me custard is the ultimate comfort food.
Monday, May 6, 2013
I'm trying to learn to be just a little bit more flexible (Paul, Mom, anybody else who's reading this, you can stop laughing now!), and my cooking seems like a good place to start. I'd much prefer to follow directions exactly, but getting rhubarb and baby cake pans was going to be expensive and kind of a pain, so I decided to make do with what I had. Paul is growing rhubarb, but we had a very cold March and the rhubarb doesn't get much sun anyway, so it's nowhere near ready yet. I read in the paper that rhubarb isn't even available at the farmer's market yet, and at Whole Foods it was $7.99/lb. I did, however, have a bag of frozen figs from our tree that I've been meaning to use up. The suggestion in the recipe head-notes that this could be made with any fruit gave me the confidence to substitute figs. Although I'd love to buy baby cake pans (and now that I'm thinking about it I might actually have some in the basement somewhere) they weren't readily available, but I do have a nice cast iron skillet so I decided to follow the instructions for one big cake instead. Once that was decided, the rest of the recipe was easy. The most annoying part--by far--was nicely arranging all of my fig halves, only to realize (stupid me!) that when you're making an upside down cake you have to start with the pretty side down. Oh well. Flipping them all over wasn't actually that bad. Once that was settled, the batter came together in no time. I really like upside down cakes--they're pretty and so much easier than having to frost a cake--and this is definitely one that I'll make again. Maybe when our rhubarb is ready!
Friday, May 3, 2013
I substituted asparagus for the mushrooms, mascarpone for the heavy cream, and simmered my eggs until the yolks were firm, so I'm not sure if I'm allowed to comment on this recipe, but we definitely enjoyed our dinner! When this recipe got picked I was a bit disappointed--mushrooms are one of the few things that I really don't eat and I've been avoiding poached eggs during my pregnancy--but I decided to "play along" as best I could. I can't get enough asparagus this time of year, I literally think I buy two bunches of it every week, and I love how it goes with eggs, so I decided to substitute it for the mushrooms. With some defrosted leftover Challah from my freezer, I thought this would be a quick and easy weeknight dinner. I think the longest part of the recipe was bringing the water for the eggs up to a boil! I was finishing up the asparagus when I noticed my heavy cream had gone rancid. I wasn't sure what would happen, but I had some mascarpone in the fridge that I had been meaning to use up, so I added a few big spoonfuls of that instead. I'm not sure how close it was to what Dorie intended, but it made a nice creamy filling. Also, for the second week in a row we thought Dorie's serving sizes were not big enough. (Although maybe the fact that I'm 8 months pregnant and hungry all of them time has something to do with it?) I only used one piece of bread each, but made the entire rest of the recipe and served it to the two of us for dinner along with a simple arugula salad. This was an enjoyable, satisfying dinner that still left us room for Upside Down Cake!
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
The good news is that with these recipes posted, the last thing I have to catch up on is croissants. The bad news is that the croissants take 3 days, and that I'm due in 5 weeks and will most likely be behind again very soon...Anyway, I was not the least bit happy with my Boca Negra! You can barely tell from the awful photo I took, but it didn't set at all. After baking it for the recommended time it seemed done (based on the top) so I flipped it out of the pan as per the recipe. Well, it looked like a puddle and didn't hold it's shape at all. So, Paul helped me flip it back into the pan and I baked it again for a long time. (I don't remember how long, but it was at least an additional 30 minutes). Again, when I pulled it out it seemed done. Again, when I flipped it over it didn't hold together. At this point I was sick of all of the flipping so I decided to serve it as a pudding. It tasted good, but I was completely annoyed by the recipe at this point. It did set up in the fridge--to the consistency of fudge--but never felt at all like a cake (even a flour-less cake). It was a fun Passover-friendly recipe to try, but definitely not one that I'll be making again.
The Rustic Potato Loaves, on the other hand, were absolutely excellent. I followed the recipe exactly, except for subbing out half whole wheat flour for the AP, and was thrilled with how they came out. I was worried they were too small when I was putting them in the oven--I don't think I've ever seen a bread recipe with such short rises--but they rose beautifully in the oven. I normally make No Knead bread at home and we love it as an accompaniment for meals--it's great for dipping--but this might be the perfect sandwich bread. I was able to cut nice big slices and it stayed fresh for days. It had a nice flavor, but was definitely neutral enough to go with anything. This is definitely one that I'll be making again.
Friday, April 26, 2013
I probably should have read through the ingredients more carefully and really tried to imagine these when I was planning my menu for the week. I trusted Dorie when she said that this made eight main course servings, and only needed a salad as an accompaniment. I was talking to my mom when I was making them and she also didn't think they sounded like a main course. She asked if I was serving them alongside grilled fish, which actually would have been a good idea. I told my mom the book said they were a main course and I was sticking to it. After Paul had a couple of bites, I had to start reading aloud the part of the book that insisted these were a main course. I told him they were called farcous in French, and he made some terrible joke about someone playing a "farce on you." He also asked where the sauce was, so I read him aloud the part that specifically said a sauce might be a good idea if you were serving these as an hors d'oeuvre, but made no mention of a sauce if you were serving these as a main course.
Well, we didn't think these were substantial enough for a main course, and we also thought they definitely needed a sauce or something. They tasted fine, but weren't anything special and we were both pretty hungry afterward. This recipe also touched on one of my culinary pet peeves. I am happy to "add salt and pepper to taste" when it's something that I'm willing to taste, but I can't stand when recipes for things you really don't want to taste raw--like hamburgers or pancakes--call for adding salt to taste. I had no clue how much to add, and didn't want to taste the raw batter to find out. I ended up putting what seemed like a lot (I didn't really measure but it was probably at least a teaspoon), and these tasted totally flat to me. Paul said they weren't that bad, but they definitely could have used more salt. These weren't too hard to make and would be a perfectly fine side dish, but I really doubt I'll be pulling out this recipe again. Oh well, at least I liked everything else we made in April...On to May!
Friday, April 19, 2013
When I read through this recipe I was annoyed. I love serving simple fish and greens dinners, but this one just sounded like a pain. With only 10 oz of fish I didn't think it would possibly be enough for four servings, and the sheer number of steps and components was overwhelming. I described it to Paul as "very French," and not in a good way. But, one of the main points of doing FFWD for me is trying recipes that I might not otherwise, so I decided to pair it with potatoes and another vegetable (hoping that would be substantial enough) and give it a go. When I went shopping the store didn't have any cod, but did have gorgeous Alaskan halibut that was still a fortune at $5 off. I debated using such a nice fish for what was essentially a puree, but decided to just go for it. Other than that, I followed the recipe pretty carefully, except for substituting some arugula that Paul grew for half of the spinach. (I'm still not quite clear on how Paul has so much fully grown arugula and mustard greens already. I think it's been growing since last summer but I know that doesn't make a lot of sense. This is clearly why I'm not a gardener...) I was cursing the recipe again when it was after 9 o'clock and I was still cooking, but not after the first bite. This was really, really good! In some ways it reminded me of gefilte fish (not the flavor, but just because it's also made from chopped and poached fish), but I love gefilte fish so that isn't a bad thing. Maybe it was all of the cream, maybe it was the halibut, maybe it was the combination, but the flavor and texture was just excellent. Almost light and airy. I thought the peppery arugula and tomato sauces were nice complements. The extra sauce also made an excellent dip for my steamed artichoke. I need to figure out a way to start putting Sunday dinner on the table a couple of hours earlier, but even though we were exhausted we really enjoyed this one.