Friday, April 10, 2015

FFWD Salmon (Not) Tartare

I probably mentioned this last year, but despite not being very observant I do keep some semblance of Passover.  I don't change dishes or anything, but I do avoid a long list of foods for the full eight days.  I failed to plan ahead and make the waffles and cream before Passover started, so now I'm waiting until after Passover to make those.  Luckily, the salmon tartare was completely Passover friendly.  I wasn't in the mood for tartare this week (read: I wasn't in the mood to make Charlotte a separate dinner), so I decided to improvise.  I roasted the salmon with olive oil, salt, and pepper in a hot oven per the instructions in the roasted salmon with lentils recipe (I think it was 12 min at 475).  Since the oven was hot, I roasted asparagus as well.  I was too lazy to follow the precise instructions, but I used all of the remaining ingredients to make an avocado and tomato salad/salsa/relish(?) to go over the fish.  It was really delicious.  I was unsure about mint with avocado, but I thought the flavors were excellent, and Dorie's method for roasting fish worked perfectly.  I may try the tartare sometime, but this was so good I may not.  I served this with the matzoh I made for TWD (definitely not Kosher for Passover, but really, really good) and some cheeses.  A delicious, easy weeknight dinner.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

CCC March

(I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get these pictures rotated properly.  They look correct before I upload them, but then somehow the uploading rotates them, and once they're uploaded I can't seem to rotate them back.  Anyway...)

I think I'm basically caught up with all of the recipes we have made, so I decided to take it easy this month.  We're just starting to see asparagus here--it isn't local, that's still a while away, but at least it's from the US--and so I decided to use it atop the Asparagus Pizza.  We were so busy eating that I forgot to take pictures, so here's a picture of the leftovers I brought for lunch at my desk.  This is becoming a family favorite--Charlotte enjoyed it too.  I imagine I'll make it again before asparagus season runs out.

I just finished mixing the Pea and Mint Ice Cream.  It's chilling in the fridge to prepare for churning.  I'll try to post an addendum with a better review once I actually taste it.  I did want to say that I've made both ice creams now, and I really find the custard recipe in this book difficult.  Both times it's curdled long before even starting to get thick.  This means I end up settling for a runny custard, which turns into very ice-y ice cream.  I'm not very good at making custard, and certainly take full responsibility for my struggles, but I have had better luck with other custard recipes.  I'll probably go back to those in the future.

I'm looking forward to getting back in the swing of things next month.  We're finally starting to see some spring produce!

FFWD Next-Day Beef Salad

I was tempted to skip this one since I don't eat beef, but the other ingredients sounded excellent to me so I decided to try it with chicken.  I roasted some bone-in chicken breasts the day before, so all I had to do was chop up the chicken and other ingredients and assemble.  Served over arugula, and with cheese and crackers alongside, I thought this made an excellent weeknight dinner.  I loved the combination of salty (olives and cornichons) and sweet (apple and red pepper) with the chicken.  I also used both kinds of mustard and thought that was a must (at least for this mustard-loving cook).  Only Charlotte was not a fan.  She choose to eat her chicken plain.  Oh well.  More salad for us!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

FFWD Côte d’Azur Cure-all Soup, Chicken Marengo, and Chicken Couscous

This week I have three recipes to post about.  The only one I still need to make up is the cabbage bundles.  I'm still on the fence about what to do with those.  It will definitely need to be creative.  I made the cure-all soup for dinner one night this week, along with cucumber, avocado, and cheese sandwiches.  Paul and Charlotte both really loved this soup.  I liked it, but did find it very rich.  One issue that I have with parmesan cheese is that one cup can be a totally different amount depending on how you grate the cheese.  I grated it in my food processor, so one cup was an awful lot of cheese.  I have a feeling I would have enjoyed the soup more of I had cut down on the cheese.  I really wish more recipes would give weight measurements for those types of ingredients.

I don't eat red meat, so I decided to use chicken in the veal marengo.  It was a work day, so I followed Diane's lead and cooked this in the slow cooker.  First I chopped the potatoes and put them in the bottom.  I followed them with about half a bag of frozen pearl onions (so much easier than peeling!).  Then, I coated the meat (three bone-in and skin-on chicken breast halves) in flour and browned it in a skillet.  Once the chicken was brown, I added it to the slow cooker.  In the same pan I melted the butter, cooked the onion for five minutes, and added the rest of the ingredients for the sauce.  I scraped all of the brown bits from the pan, and added it all to the slow cooker along with the herbs.  (I was too lazy for a bouquet garni, so they just got thrown in.)  I cooked it for 10 hours on low, and came home to a warm dinner.  I just had to steam some broccoli to go alongside.  Every time I use my slow cooker I wonder why I don't use it more often.

Last, the Chicken Couscous.  I really thought I already wrote this up, but I can't seem to find it.  I feel like I'm losing my mind.  We enjoyed this one a lot.  Perfect comfort food for a cold winter night, and not too complicated. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

CCC February

What can I say?  I'm almost two days late posting.  I apologize.  It's been a crazy few weeks around here.  Big changes at work, a sick kid, etc., etc...Anyway, the good news is that I really enjoyed all of the recipes this month.  I would happily make any of them again.  They were hard to rank, but I gave it a shot just for fun.

#1) Magic Bread dough 

I've made the magic bread dough as a base for pizza many times, but this was my first time making flatbreads.  Brilliant!  In the past I've made flatbreads in the oven.  Between the placing and the re-arranging and the multiple batches and the screaming hot oven I always manage to burn myself--usually multiple times.  The stove top was a revelation.  These were so much easier.  And Charlotte was excited because she thought we were having pancakes.

#2) Cheesey peasy puff turnover

I feel like a broken record, but I think that puff pastry is the answer to most cooking questions.  This was quick, easy, and delicious.  I loved the peas and cheddar combination, but I imagine spinach and feta, sundried tomato and goat cheese, and a host of other things would also be delicious.  The only problem?  I think the three of us could have eaten twice as much.

#3) Potato Rösti 

I am no stranger to potato pancakes, making potato latkes at least once a year, but I've never par-cooked the potatoes before.  Another brilliant idea.  It's generally to get crispy outsides but soft insides with potato pancakes.  These were perfect!

#4) Refried beans foldover

When we were first together Paul thought he hated refried beans. I think that's because he had never had homemade ones before.  Now he loves them.  I used some home cooked beans that I happened to have in the freezer, and these came together quiet quickly.  I loved the idea of halving and grating a tomato directly into the pan.  So much easier than peeling!

#5) Winter stir-fry with Chinese five-spice  

With the help of my food processor to shred everything, this was a relatively quick weeknight dinner.  While I made this, Paul made the grapefruit and avocado salad.  To give her something to do, we put some broken bits of dried pasta in a pot and asked Charlotte to "cook" pasta.  She loves to "cook,"  She had lots of fun stirring, and then adding "salt" to the pasta.  (I should probably be more concerned about how much she loves to add salt to everything!)  This kept her entertained for at least a few minutes while we managed to get the dinner on the table.  I definitely liked this pasta, but I bumped it in my rankings because Paul absolutely loved it, and he's not generally a fan of Chinese food.  It's nice to have a quick, Chinese-like option that he actually enjoys.

#6) Baba ganoush 

I think I would have rated this even higher if I had served it with some of the delicious homemade flatbread.  Unfortunately I didn't plan very well, and we just ate this with spoons.  The flavor was still great.  I loved the idea of broiling the eggplants.  It was easy, and gave the whole dish such a great smokey flavor.

#7) Avocado and ruby grapefruit with chilli 

This was delicious, but dropped in my rankings just because I've had very similar salads so many times before.  Citrus and avocado are a great combination.  Definitely to be repeated often.

#8) Roasted squash and shallots with merguez chickpeas 

This really was a great month.  This dish fell in my ranking, but it was definitely one that I enjoyed and would make again.  I soaked and cooked the chickpeas ahead of time, and chopped the squash before I went to work in the morning.  After I got home I threw the squash in the oven, and set to finishing the chickpeas and making a side dish.  This wasn't quite quick enough for a typical weeknight, but it was good.

#9)Celeriac with apple, raisins and parsley 

I'm going to attribute this one to user error.  I was too lazy to get out my mandoline and tried to cut the celery root by hand, and it really needed to be finer.  The big pieces were kind of awkward to chew, and didn't soften very much in the dressing.

#10) Roasted beetroot soup with horseradish cream

I forgot to take a picture!  I liked the soup, but the horseradish cream was definitely the take-away here for me.  It could spice up a lot of dishes.

Friday, February 27, 2015

FFWD Riviera Fish Soup

I don't know what to say about this soup.  On the one hand, the flavor really was great.  On the other hand, it was absolutely painful to push through a food mill, and then throw away, a 28 dollar red snapper.  I would have felt much better about this soup if my store had an inexpensive bin of "fish for soup," the way Dorie described.  In hindsight, I probably should have just skipped the food mill and served the soup with chunks of fish (although I'm not sure what I would have done with the skin and bones in that scenario).  I served this with salad, shrimp dumplings, salmon (was supposed to be for Charlotte, but we all shared), bread and quick-aoli (I was too tired to make my own, so I added lemon juice and garlic to store bought mayonnaise).  Paul was still hungry after.  Again, with a whole red snapper I was expecting more of a meal.  This soup felt like a delicious starter.  I'll be very curious to see what everyone else thought of the dish.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

TWD BCM Pink Grapefruit Tart

After seeing some of your photos, I'm almost embarrassed to show mine.  I'm definitely not going to win any awards for my decorating ability.  Luckily, the placement of the grapefruit segments in a pretty pattern does not affect the taste of the dessert and the taste of this dessert was excellent.  Was it worth the work or the calories?  I'm not sure.  I made this over a couple of days.  Luckily, Paul had made and frozen extra tart dough, so for the crust all I had to do was defrost, roll, freeze in pan, and bake.  On that same day I also made the almond-lemon cream and the grapefruit cremeux.  On the second day I segmented the grapefruits, and baked and assembled the tart.

Let me just start by saying that Paul's tart crust (from the Tartine book) was amazing--it's like puff pastry it's so buttery--and I absolutely loved the grapefruit cremeux.  Grapefruit is a favorite for me, and I thought Dorie balanced the sweet and tart flavors perfectly.  The almond-lemon cream?  I was unimpressed.  It was fine, but I barely noticed it with all of the other flavors going on.  It has done a nice job of protecting the shell--it's been in the fridge for a few days now and is still nice and crisp--so maybe that's reason enough for making it.  I'm glad I made this once, but in the future I could see myself making the grapefruit cremeux to serve in bowls and skipping the rest of the steps.

I try to avoid gelatin, so I substituted agar agar in the cremeux.  I totally guessed at the amount and the instructions, but it seemed to work perfectly.  In case anyone's interested, I used two tablespoons of agar agar.  I increased the amount of grapefruit juice by a few tablespoons (to account for the water used to soak the gelatin), and added the agar agar to the pan directly with the grapefruit juice.  I know agar agar sets up pretty quickly when it cools, so I also skipped letting the cremeux sit for 5 minutes before adding the butter.  I added the cremeux to the blender, and started adding butter and blending immediately.  As soon as it was all incorporated, I pored the cremeux into a bowl.  When it cooled, I covered it with plastic wrap and placed it in the fridge.  By the next day it was VERY thick and creamy.  It reached the perfect texture once whisked.