Monday, February 29, 2016

CCC February

The second month of 2016 and I have already failed in my plan.  I was thinking that if I just chose one recipe each month I'd have a better chance of posting on time.  There were just too many tempting recipes this month!  I ended up making 5, but now my post is late.  To start, I had an absolutely enormous blue hubbard squash that I wanted to use.  (That's a 13 by 18 inch half sheet pan, and after I had already used 1/4 of the squash.)  Again, I didn't have the patience for attempting to cut the skin off, so I just baked the whole thing for a couple of hours until it was soft.  I scooped out some of the inside and mixed it with the rest of the ingredients for the squash layer in the Squash and Fennel Lasagna.  (The rest got pureed and frozen in 2 cup bags.)  

The lasagna was a perfect part of our Friday night dinner.  I really enjoyed it, but found the proportions to be a bit off for my taste.  I found myself wishing there were one or two more layers of pasta.

Next, I made the DIY "Pot" Noodles.  This was a fun one to do with Charlotte.  She sat next to me while I prepared the vegetables, and loved putting small handfuls of vegetables into her own little pot.  Much to my surprise, she even ate the noodles and some of the vegetables once these were ready!  We'll definitely be making these again soon.

I've been trying to bake bread once a week.  I'm really in to this book.  I decided that the toastie filling would be perfect on top of some fresh baked bread.  Charlotte wouldn't touch it, preferring the bread plain, but I loved the Apple and Blue Vinny Toastie.  Paul seemed to like it too.  I enjoyed the blue cheese, but will definitely try this with other cheeses as well.  This was a delicious dinner with some simple white bean soup.

I'm home from work on Fridays and so I've been doing more cooking then.  That likely means a lot of Friday night photos to come.  Since Charlotte was born we've been pretty committed to doing a little Shabbat ceremony with candles, grape juice, and challah.  Last Friday I made the Swede Potato Pasties.  Or rather, my mom and I made the pasties.  My mom comes over to help out on Friday afternoons.  I was holding Miriam and so she asked what she could do to help.  I asked her to roast the beets and prep the broccoli for dinner, because I was planning on making the pasties later.  Before I knew it I smelled onion cooking.  I was confused, so I came into the kitchen to investigate.  My mom had read the pastie recipe, was worried that the vegetables wouldn't actually cook in the oven, so had decided to prep them and saute them on the stove to soften first.  I was a little bit annoyed that I wouldn't have a chance to see if the recipe worked as written, but very grateful that my mom had done all of the hard work for me!  I just made the rough puff pastry (LOVE this recipe), stuffed the pasties, and baked them off.  These were delicious.  I'm hoping somebody else tried the recipe as written.  My mom and I are both very curious to see if it worked.

Last, this Friday we had the Sweet Potato and Peanut Gratin for dinner.  I love sweet potatoes and I love cream, so I was expecting to enjoy this one.  I was not disappointed.  Paul ate it without complaining, but I noticed that he pushed most of the peanut butter layer to the side.  I guess he didn't enjoy that addition!

Overall, February is the month where I'm really starting to feel tired of winter vegetables, but it's still too early around here for spring ones.  I'm so glad this book--and this group--gave me so many new, delicious ideas for winter vegetables!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

TWD BCM Panna Cotta and Teacakes

My dad absolutely prefers chocolate desserts to all other desserts.  He doesn't really see the point of "wasting" the calories unless there is chocolate involved.  My mom, on the other hand, isn't really a big fan of chocolate.  She much prefers fruit desserts.  This means that at family gatherings we normally have at least two desserts.  Unfortunately for my waistline, I am in neither camp.  I love chocolate desserts, fruit desserts, nut desserts, vanilla desserts...I could go on.  I'm just a fan of sweets :-)  It being February, though, I was very excited to see two chocolate desserts on the menu.  I made the panna cotta for Valentine's day and the teacakes the following week.  For the panna cotta I substituted four tablespoons agar agar for the gelatin.  Much to my shock it worked perfectly.  It was a little bit too firm, if anything, but I loved the texture.  For the teacakes I followed the recipe exactly, but split it into 6 dishes instead of 4 (my cups were 4 oz instead of 6) and decreased the baking time by a couple of minutes to compensate.  Everything was delicious and relatively quick!  These may become Valentine's day traditions.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

CCC January 2016

I was hoping to make more of the recipes, but at least I got my Squash and Walnut Toastie made.  Luckily, this recipe was hard to ruin.  I had some sort of squash that's been sitting on my counter since we got it at CSA pick-up in November.  It was a dark orange and about the size of an acorn squash, but not a pumpkin.  The skin seemed hard to cut and I was busy, so I just threw it in the oven and turned the oven to 350.  I meant to just let the squash soften enough so I could cut into it, and then cut it into chunks and take off the skin and roast it.  Except I totally forgot it was in the oven until a couple of hours later when the whole house smelled like squash.  I opened the oven and the squash had totally collapsed.  By then I was busy with something else, so I let the squash cool, wrapped it in aluminum foil, and put it in the fridge where I forgot about it again.  A few days later I found it.  I opened it up, cut it in half, and messily took off the skin and separated the flesh from the seeds and stringy part.  I used a fork to separate the flesh into chunks, and used it in this recipe.  I had just made some (delicious) rosemary olive bread, so instead of making toasts I put this out on the table to spread on the bread.  It was delicious. We also had some marinated white beans and some smoked trout rilettes to go on the bread.  Everything was good but the squash was my favorite.  Even Paul enjoyed it, and he is not a fan of squash.  Only Charlotte wouldn't touch it.  This made an excellent dinner with some kale, zucchini, and cheeses.  I love this cookbook.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

TWD BCM Carrot Cake and Lemon Squares

Apparently in my several months blogging hiatus I forgot how this works.  I totally forgot to take a picture of the carrot cake.  For the lemon squares I remembered just before eating the last available one.  (I kept 8 out and hid the rest in the freezer.)  Oh well!  One thing I didn't forget is how much I love baking.  Something about the sleep-deprivation of having an infant makes me crave sugar even more than usual, so I was eager to get back to this group as quickly as possible.  My goal right now is just to make one recipe a month, but these were both relatively easy so here they are.  On Christmas Day we were served an amazing, American style carrot cake with decadent cream cheese frosting.  The French one was much easier to put together, seemed healthier (at least I'll tell myself that), and was delicious in its own right.  However, in a contest I'd choose the American style one any day!  When I first read that the lemon squares contained 4.5 stick of butter I planned on skipping them.  A couple of weeks later I changed my mind.  They were delicious (what wouldn't be with that much butter?), but I still think I prefer my mom's lemon bars with the confectioners sugar on top.  The crisp topping was nice, but for me it took away from the true lemon flavor.