Sunday, October 30, 2011

FFWD Stuffed Pumpkin

Just out of the oven
This post is going to be quick.  It's been a crazy week and I'm already late for French Fridays with Dorie.  I LOVE this recipe.  I found it online a couple of years ago (probably right when the book came out), read through it, thought it sounded amazing, was very scared by the amount of heavy cream (not to mention bread and cheese!), but quickly got over the fear and made the recipe :-).  I've made it at least once since then - loved it both times - so I was very excited when I saw it chosen for the recipe of the week.  I don't think Paul loves it quite as much as I do (although he does seem to like it) so I was thrilled to have an excuse to make it again. 
Lidded pumpkin
I used turkey bacon (I don't eat read meat) but otherwise followed the recipe pretty exactly.  I had some extra filling so I baked it in a ramekin on the side - I just couldn't bear to let it go to waste!  I served it in slices which I thought looked great visually, although next time I might stir it up as Dorie suggests, I'd like to see how it tastes that way.

Slice of stuffed pumpkin

Friday, October 21, 2011

FFWD Pissaladiere + Daikon

We got home from our Portland trip around 6 on Sunday night, so this wasn't the greatest week for cooking.  I tried to get the pissaladiere started right away, but soon realized that the egg needed to be at room temperature (seems to be my favorite thing to forget!) so I left it on the counter while I went to the grocery store.  I started the pissaladiere when I got home, and finished it just before going to sleep.  I tasted it when warm, but then sliced the rest (I also forgot to take the photo before I started slicing!) and saved it in the fridge.  We've eaten it for a couple of meals this week.  What can I say?  I just don't like anchovies very much.  I want to learn to like them - they seem to be so trendy right now - but I'm having a hard time.  I used to avoid them completely, but then last spring I spent some time tracking down a can of anchovies packed in salt (it was for a Marcella Hazan recipe that I wanted to make for Paul's birthday, and she's very exacting about ingredients) and realized that I actually liked the flavor they gave certain dishes, as long as they were chopped finely enough that I couldn't quite tell they were there.

So anyway, against my better judgement I decided to be brave and follow the recipe exactly (this might also be related to my annoying obsession with following rules).  I put anchovies both in the onion mixture, and on the top.  The first day I was eating this I wasn't paying enough attention and bit into one of the whole anchovies.  Wow!  They are really strong.  I liked the other components of this dish a lot, though.  The crust is nice (I like the richness the egg adds), I love olives, and you just can't go wrong with caramelized onions.  Overall it definitely wasn't my favorite dish, but I would consider making it again.  If I did, I would cut the anchovies in the onion filling in half and leave them off the top completely.  

This week was also challenging because when I got home Sunday night I had 3 daikon radishes from my CSA waiting for me!  Daikons aren't our favorite, but I always try to find ways to use them up, but this week was just too much.

Three daikons
The largest one weighed in at 4.5 pounds, and was more than a foot long.  I used one of the small ones for potato-daikon pancakes, which we actually enjoyed.  Anything with fried potatoes is good in my book, and the small amount of added daikon is subtle and adds a nice, peppery flavor.  (I used this recipe:  But I gave in to Paul's demand and donated the largest daikon to the compost bin (after saving the greens to add to a braise).  I already have plenty of pickled daikon in my fridge from previous CSA baskets, and couldn't think of anything else creative to do with it.  Does anybody have any good daikon recipes?  I've been using - and loving - the site but even with all of the cookbooks I own I don't seem to have nearly enough recipes for daikon!

Paul with the daikon

Friday, October 14, 2011

FFWD Buckwheat Blini

I’m on vacation this week, but I made the blini last week and hopefully (if I can figure out the delayed post feature on blogger!) I’ll still be able to participate in FFWD this week.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever had blini before; I’ve definitely never made them.  I have made - and really enjoyed - buckwheat crepes so I had a good feeling that I’d like the flavor of these.  We rarely have the time or energy for fancy appetizers in our house, though, so I decided to serve these alongside another appetizer (Sara Moulton’s jalapeno mini-quiches) and some braised greens and call it dinner.

Monday night dinner

These seemed pretty time consuming for a weeknight, so I started them on the weekend.  On Saturday I put the batter together and let it rise in the fridge overnight.  On Sunday I let the batter warm up for a while, and then started to fry the blini.  Did anybody else’s batter have the consistency of Silly Putty?  I’ve never made anything with that consistency before and I was pretty worried, but I just kept going.  We have a griddle now (yay wedding presents) which makes frying big batches of things go much faster, but I’m still learning to regulate the temperature and had some trouble with these.  My first batch took way too long so I turned the heat up, but I guess I turned it up too much because the next batch was sort of burned.  Oh well, I just served them upside down!  I do need to get better at this, though.

More blini

Anyway, I refrigerated the cooked blini so that on Monday night all I had to do was warm them up and top them.  (Are blinis supposed to be warm?  I wasn’t sure.  I tasted them cold and didn’t like them, but wasn’t sure if they were actually supposed to be warm, or just at room temperature.)   We had them with smoked salmon and creme fraiche and really liked them (I didn’t spring for the caviar).  We had a bunch left over - I was surprised that the recipe said it only served 6 as an appetizer, we both ate it for dinner and lunch the next day as essentially our main course and still had leftovers - so I served them for breakfast on my birthday topped with creme fraiche and mango.  I liked them this way too.  I think I just really like the buckwheat flavor.  (I, coincidentally, was actually served regular blini the following night, and didn’t like it nearly as much without the buckwheat.)  

Friday, October 7, 2011

FFWD Olive-Olive Cornish Hens

We’re leaving tomorrow for a 10 day trip to visit Paul’s family in Oregon.  This week was also my birthday (30!) so we ate out more than usual.  All this to say that I had a lot of cooking to do on Sunday.  I wanted to use up our CSA vegetables, make the FFWD recipes for this week and next, and also make some cookies as a thank you to the friend who got us the Wilco tickets.

Apple pie for my birthday

As soon as I finished watching the Redskins game (and watching Dallas lose to Detroit!) I headed to the kitchen to get started.  I made the cookie dough, finished making the blini (which I’ll write about next week), made jalapeno mini quiches and greens to serve with the blini, pickled a bunch of jalapenos (the jalapenos at our CSA did great this year), and roasted a butternut squash to make soup.  I also roped Paul into grilling a bunch of vegetables to make wraps for lunches this week.  

After that was finished it was time to move on to the FFWD recipe.  I really loved this recipe.  I made my own tapenade and I still had everything ready to go in the time it took the oven to preheat, and the hens came out really well.  I usually try not to eat the skin, but it was so crispy and had such good flavor that it was hard to stop.  The meat also came out very moist, and it was all so easy.  When I make this again I think I will use more of the tapenade, though, I could barely tell it was there.

Black olive tapenade

The cornish hens at my grocery store were very small (I’ve never really eaten them before, were everybody’s hens small?).  When I checked out the cashier actually looked at my two hens and said she hoped I didn’t have a lot of people to feed!  It was only my husband and I, but I wanted to have leftovers for lunch the next day so I knew I’d need substantial side dishes to stretch the meal.  I decided to serve the hens with arugula salad with tomatoes and homemade ranch dressing, a grilled pepper salad with cheese, and some Potatonik.  

Hens out of the oven

The tomatoes are the last from Paul’s garden and the ranch dressing really needed to get used up before we leave for vacation.  Our CSA gave us tons of green peppers this summer, and the green pepper salad is my new favorite way to use them up.  I don’t really like raw green peppers, but once they’ve been grilled until their black, steamed/peeled, and tossed with good cheese and balsamic I really like them.  The Potatonik is a new recipe for me.  I got the recipe from George Greenstein’s Secrets of a Jewish Baker and really enjoyed it.  It’s more similar to a potato latke than to a bread, but I thought it complemented our meal very nicely.  All in all, I was very pleased with how the dinner came out.  We had leftover flip over plum cake (from Dorie’s Baking book) for dessert.  It was a nice way to end the weekend.  

Dinner plate

Dinner with leftovers for lunch

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Deconstructed BLT with Eggs

I love to cook and I love to read cookbooks.  I am also a somewhat-obsessive planner, organizer, and list maker.  Every Saturday I sit down with a stack of cookbooks and plan meals for my husband (Paul) and I for the entire week.  I don’t always stick to the schedule (things come up!), but I do enjoy making it.  I also love hosting and planning dinner parties, but those happen with much less frequency.  

I started this blog on a whim.  Paul showed me an article about Tuesdays with Dorie, which I used as an excuse to buy her Baking book, but that group was closed so I decided to use that as an excuse to buy Around My French Table and join the French Fridays with Dorie group.  I am starting this blog to document my attempts to keep up with that group, as well as to document other cooking projects.

I do most of my cooking on Sundays.  I’ll generally block out a few hours to cook something for dinner that I wouldn’t have time for during the week, and also to start some of the dinners for the week.  I knew I wanted to bake the bread for this recipe (since I discovered Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread I barely ever buy bread anymore), so I got the dough started on Saturday.  Sunday morning Paul woke up earlier than I did so he started the second rise (thank you, Paul) and I finished up the bread when I woke up.
Basic No Knead Bread
I started cooking pretty early this Sunday because we had Wilco tickets at night.  I roasted, chopped, and froze a bunch of green peppers that we got from the CSA and had to use up.  Then I cooked dinner for one night this week, using up CSA turnips (with their greens) and pak choi in a Deborah Madison recipe (a mash of potatoes, turnips, and goat cheese, smothered with greens cooked with well-browned onions).  

After that was finished, I started the Deconstructed BLT with Eggs recipe.  I immediately realized that I had forgotten to take the egg out (I always forget!  and mayonnaise really doesn’t work unless the egg is at room temperature), so I got that out before getting started.  I hard boiled the eggs using Sara Moulton’s method (cover with water, bring to boil over medium heat, take off heat, cover, let sit 13 minutes, into ice bath).  They come out perfect that way every time.  No grey ring and never over-cooked.  

Home Made Mayonnaise
 After that the recipe came together easily, and we both really enjoyed it.   I like any salad as long as it’s covered in bacon (I use turkey bacon), eggs, and croutons!  The homemade mayonnaise was also a great addition. I really prefer the consistency to what I buy in the jar, although I do still use purchased mayonnaise most of the time.

Deconstructed BLT with Eggs

Paul didn’t think it was quite filling enough for dinner, so next time I might add another side or some soup or something, but we just ate ice cream (home made malted milk from David Lebovitz’s the Perfect Scoop!) so that worked out perfectly for us.

Our Dinner
   I even enjoyed it for lunch the next day.

In containers and ready for lunch