kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
I haven't done a huge amount of cooking, because on Tuesday it's my turn to host the potluck and Buffy watch, and I've been trying to get my place ready. Yesterday I thought I'd give my kitchen a quick clean, believing that it was fairly clean already. But once I started cleaning attentively, my views on the subject . . . adapted, and so there was wiping down of cupboards and cleaning under the stovetop and washing the windowsills and scrubbing the floor on my hands and knees (luckily it's a small kitchen, because ouch). I'd never realized how many little dirt-trapping crevices and nooks my kitchen possessed, and I badly want to know what fool thought it was a good idea to install cupboard doors with lots of paneling detail--sort of like this, but a much cheaper, uglier imitation--instead of nice flat ones that would wipe clean easily.

Anyway, let's talk about food.

Something I've cooked recently: The lavender shortbread and lemon-lavender posset I mentioned last week were a big hit at the potluck. The posset in particular is exquisite; I decided to strain out the lavender rather than leave it in, and the result was gorgeously creamy and smooth. I found the lavender shortbread a teensy bit dry--the dough was dry, but I was hoping it would be all right after baking--so next time I'll use a little less flour. I live in a very dry climate, so the recipe might work fine elsewhere. By the way, the recipe will easily serve eight, rather than the four to six that Hollywood specifies, and I say that as someone who loves rich things and usually scorns tiny portions.

Yesterday after cleaning the kitchen I did my best to dirty it again by making one of my favorites, pasta with a sausage and tomato sauce. The sauce is basically: brown some hot Italian pork sausage links in olive oil, set aside, use the oil to cook an onion chopped fairly small, when the onions are pretty well cooked add some finely chopped garlic and cook just until the garlic is fragrant. Then add a big tin of tomatoes--I usually buy tinned whole tomatoes and cut them up myself--a bay leaf and any other herbs you like, return the sausages to the pan and simmer for about half an hour. Yesterday I gussied it up a little bit by adding two diced peppers, one red and one yellow, to the onion, and adding some wine to the cooked vegetable mixture and cooking it down before adding the tomatoes. I rarely use wine in cooking because I rarely have wine around, but a couple of weeks ago I impulse-bought a bottle of wine, didn't like it enough to drink it all, and so I froze it in ice cube trays. It's a useful trick for all those annoying recipes that call for half a cup of wine.

This morning I made another loaf of beer bread because (a) I really liked the last one, and (b) I still had a couple of bottles of Smithwick's that are probably too old now to drink with pleasure but are perfectly good to cook with. I used this recipe again as a base, but altered it a lot to make cornbread. I used 2 cups of medium stoneground cornmeal from Bob's Red Mill and 1 cup of bread flour, and I added about 4 ounces of grated cheese, roughly 3/4 cup of leftover corn kernels that were cooked with green chiles and a little cream, and about three tablespoons of additional green chiles (roasted and chopped, from a jar). I reduced the salt a little because of the cheese, and as before I stirred about 3 tablespoons of the melted butter into the batter and brushed 1 tablespoon on top before popping the pan in the oven. The resulting cornbread is seriously, seriously good. It's got a beautiful moist texture and a strong corn flavor, with sweetness from the corn kernels and honey and a bit of kick from the chiles.


Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: For the Tuesday potluck I'm going to make a potato-and-spinach curry from Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries--it's a nice easy one with panch phoron and coconut milk, and I'm going to buy some supermarket naan to serve it with. And I've got to buy some gin for g&t's, because I told everyone I had gin and someone else agreed to bring the mixers, and then it turned out I didn't have nearly as much gin left as I thought.


Something I vaguely intend to cook someday: No idea. The weather's supposed to turn hotter again after a blessedly cool weekend (by which I mean, high temps of about 80F/26.6C rather than 95F/35C). I don't want to cook. I want a beautiful man to bring me delicious salads and perfectly ripe fruit, and preferably to fan me while I eat them.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
Something I've cooked recently: Lots of salads. Earlier in the week I made a bulgur wheat salad with peppers (capsicums), cucumber, tomatoes, green onion, chickpeas, and feta, dressed with olive oil and lemon, which I took to a potluck-and-Buffy-watch with friends. Over the weekend I made a version of this sugar snap pea salad with sesame-miso dressing from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. I changed a few things, because it seems I always do. I didn't have Napa cabbage so I used a couple of small cucumbers, and I didn't cut the vegetables small, partly out of laziness and partly because the dressing was so thick and rich that I thought it might overwhelm finely cut veggies. So I left the peas whole, sliced the cucumbers on the bias into nice ovals, and cut the radishes into fourths. It's a very tasty salad, though if I make it again I'll probably use one green onion instead of the three called for (and I like green onion). The dressing is delicious and I love it with the snap peas; Napa cabbage probably would have been better than the cucumbers.

I also made my favorite potato salad with blue cheese and bacon. I can't remember if I've ever said how this is made, so here goes. Boil some potatoes cut into chunks (red-skinned potatoes are best because they hold their shape, although this week I used a mixture of red-skinned and yellow potatoes). Meanwhile, cut some bacon crosswise into strips and fry until crisp, and make a dressing by combining roughly equal amounts of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt*, mashing in as much strongly flavored blue cheese as you like, adding a tiny sprinkle of garlic powder and a few drops of cider vinegar, and then adding in some finely sliced green onions/spring onions/scallions. Once the potatoes are done, drain them and let them cool in the colander for a few minutes until they're warm but not hot, then combine with the dressing and top with crispy bacon pieces. It is delicious. The bacon isn't essential to the recipe, if you don't care to eat bacon, but oddly enough the green onions are. I've had it without and it just seems stodgy. If you hate green onions, though, you could try substituting something else fresh, bright, and preferably pungent: lots of parsley, or some peppery greens like arugula or watercress, or even some grated radish. (*I use half yogurt purely for taste reasons, because I find all-mayonnaise dressings overwhelming and I like the yogurty tang, but you could certainly use all mayo if you prefer.)

Today the weather was relatively cool, an interval between two hot spells, so this morning on impulse I made a loaf of this beer bread. I used Smithwick's for the beer, used 1 cup whole wheat flour and 2 cups bread flour, and mixed most of the butter into the dough, reserving about a tablespoon to grease the pan and go over the top of the dough. It made a very nice, flavorful bread.

Today I also put together the dough for some lavender shortbread biscuits I'm going to bring to this week's Buffy watch.


Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: For the Buffy watch I'm going to make some hummus with cooked chickpeas I have in the freezer, and a lemon and lavender posset to go with the shortbread, from this recipe by Paul Hollywood. I'm a little worried about the shortbread dough, because it was very crumbly when I made it and I couldn't form it into a cylinder even after adding a few drops of cream. Maybe it'll be better after a day's refrigeration, and if not I'll just pat it into a round and cut it into wedges.

Apart from that, my plan is more salads, and bread and cheese and maybe pasta, because it's going to be stinking hot. Oh, and ice cream. I've been avoiding store-bought sweets, but only within reason, and ice-cream deprivation in this weather is unreasonable. Mm, I want ice cream now.


Something I have vague plans to cook someday: Ugh, too hot. If the monsoon starts (yes, we have a monsoon season here in semi-desert New Mexico) the afternoon rains will cool things off and maybe I'll feel like cooking again.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
1) Something you've cooked recently: This has been the week of the Great Chain of Leftovers. Last Sunday I made a meatloaf, which I ate in sandwiches and so on throughout the week. But on Friday there was still a pretty big hunk of it left and it needed to be used right away. That, plus my strong and unseasonable craving for pasta e fagiole (inspired by a TV commercial, of all things) led to an untraditional, even Frankenstein-ish but tasty hybrid dish.

What I did )

Yesterday, finding myself in possession of a lot of nectarines and raspberries (both were on sale cheap), I made Peach Melba Squares, substituting 4 small nectarines for the peaches. I also used a lot more raspberries than called for, because I found a few moldy ones in the container and thought I'd better use up all the rest immediately. The result was that the cake is . . . let's call it very moist, shall we? I made a couple of other small changes: I let the melted butter brown a bit, because I'd seen a recipe for a brown butter nectarine cake and I thought the nuttiness of the brown butter would enhance the almonds. And I sprinkled a little bit of extra ground almonds over the top because I didn't have flaked almonds. Plus I didn't add the icing sugar at the end, because I found the cake sweet enough already. It is a very tasty cake, if perhaps a bit too buttery for me. The slightly tart fruit keeps it from being too cloying.


Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: No concrete plans. I'm going to a friend's house on Tuesday for a potluck-and-Buffy-watch, so I need to think of something to bring. I've got some cooked chickpeas in the freezer so I might do some homemade hummus with pita bread, plus a melon salad. Bringing hummus is lazy, maybe, but I feel like its being homemade should let me off the hook? Plus, it's been hot and everyone will probably want salad-y things. Will think about it some more, anyway.


Something I vaguely intend to cook someday: It's been so hot--yesterday the temp topped out at 91F/32.7C--that I'm losing the urge to cook even summery things. I think the future holds a lot of salads--grain salads and cooked vegetable salads as well as the raw kind--and pasta, with the occasional lazy lapse into hot dogs or boxed macaroni and cheese.


2) I watched all three series of Shetland over the last week and a half. I wouldn't call it great TV, but I liked the characters a lot and the scenery-porn was excellent (though I was sad to find out that a lot of the series is filmed on mainland Scotland rather than on the Shetland islands). The mystery plots were ho-hum, but at least not full of sickening, "shocking" details like some modern mysteries. There was a canonical queer relationship for a recurring character, plus some unexpected slashiness for the male protagonist. And a plot development in S3 that at first seemed gratuitous and fail-y turned out to be handled well and meaningfully.

Apparently there's going to be an S4, and I'm looking forward to it. I've started reading one of the books the series is based on, but so far I like the TV show better.


3) Last night, having finished Shetland and being in the mood for some light relief, I looked for Netflix movies with Alan Rickman and found The Gambit, a caper comedy with Alan Rickman and Colin Firth and Tom Courtenay, written and directed by the Coen Brothers. Got to be a great movie, right? Alas, it was so terrible that after about 20 minutes I gave up. The jokes were dumb, hackneyed, and often imbued with stereotypes (repressed Brits, freewheeling American) and the actors looked painfully aware that they were in a bad movie. I looked up some reviews and found a tendency to blame the awfulness on Cameron Diaz, playing the above-mentioned freewheeling American, but she was no worse than anything else in the movie (though unlike the other actors, she didn't seem embarrassed so it was impossible to feel sorry for her).
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
Something I've cooked recently: It's been a hard week for me personally, not to mention the general state of the world, so I've been in the mood for comfort food. Midweek I had hamburgers, and yesterday I cooked a potato gattó, a dish from Naples that originated while the French ruled there (the name is borrowed from the French gâteau). It's very much like an Italian version of a cheese-and-potato pie.

How I made it )

I also made some chicken stock yesterday, via the cheat I always use when I don't have a lot of bones--I simmered the bones in a quart of decent commercial chicken broth plus enough water to cover. I also added a beef bone I had in the freezer, and it contributed a much more complex flavor.

This morning, to finally do something with the chocolate in my pantry that needed using before the summer heat fully sets in, I made some thick chocolate ganache--the kind you use for truffles--and stuck it in the freezer to await inspiration and/or cravings.


Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: I'm going to make a meatloaf today, continuing the comfort-food theme. I've got roughly equal parts beef and pork, and I'll give it Mediterranean flavors with some smoked paprika, some chopped olives, and some oven-candied tomatoes as well as anything else I think of.

Like the gattó, this is rather wintry cooking even though it's too warm here for me to be enthusiastic about using the oven. But there will be lovely leftovers, plus it lets me use up a lot of meat from the freezer.

Also today I intend to roast the apricots I bought on sale a few days ago. The oven again, but at least the prep will be very simple--just a buttered pan and some honey drizzled over the fruit, I think.


Something I vaguely intend to cook someday: all the Mediterranean-y summery things. I need to cut down on spending, so I expect there'll be a lot of zucchini and other cheap plentiful veg, and beans and pasta.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
Something I've cooked recently: I finally got around to making the potato salad with anchovies and olives that I kept mentioning. It's delicious and as simple as can be: boil some waxy potatoes until tender, dress them with anchovy vinaigrette, add a few olives (pitted and chopped if you like, or whole) and maybe some parsley. I made the vinaigrette with one 2-ounce tin of anchovies (drained), a medium-sized minced shallot, a clove of minced garlic, a generous teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a substantial amount of olive oil (maybe 3/4 cup?), and red wine vinegar until it tasted right. There was of course quite a lot of vinaigrette left over, which I used during the week on various salads. It turns out that arugula with anchovy vinaigrette is fantastic. Keep the vinaigrette refrigerated and use it up within a week, though, because oil + raw garlic + storage can equal botulism.

Also last week I finished the last steps for the pickled cherries. The process is that you soak the cherries overnight in vinegar, then add spices and sugar to the vinegar and boil it and then soak the cherries in it at room temperature for three days, then boil the liquid yet again and pack it and the cherries into sterilized jars and refrigerate for at least a month. The leftover vinegar solution tasted really good, so I'm optimistic. If they taste good in a month I'll post the recipe.

I've started using the brandied cherries that I made a week or so ago. I can report that they are delicious with chocolate ice cream. You can also make a tasty spritzer by putting a few cherries and a good glug of the brandy into the bottom of a tall glass and topping it off with a 12 oz can of cherry-flavored unsweetened sparkling water. Lime flavored would probably be good too. ETA: No, definitely use cherry flavored.

Today I made a farro salad with roasted vegetables and arugula. I roasted a bag of mini-peppers, cored and quartered lengthwise, and a thickly sliced large onion in some olive oil at 400 F until everything was tender and sweet and just slightly charred at the edges. While the vegetables roasted and cooled I cooked about a cup and a half of farro in lots of boiling water--the same way you'd cook pasta--and drained it when it was tender but chewy. I added two minced cloves of garlic and the juice of a lemon to the hot farro, then mixed in the veg and let it cool down to room temperature. At that point I added a nice bunch of roughly chopped arugula and a few finely chopped mint leaves along with just a splash of oil, and then mixed in a couple of ounces of crumbled feta. The result is both pretty and delicious, though if you like lemon as much as I do you might want to use two, and don't forget to add the zest as well. Here, have a picture. )


Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: I've got chickpeas in the slow cooker, some to become hummus and some to be frozen for future use as who knows what? And later today I'm going to cook Amalfi-style zucchini/courgettes based on Marcella Hazan's recipe. It's basically fried zucchini dressed with garlic, wine vinegar, and mint. Hazan's recipe calls for the zucchini slices to almost deep-fry in a lot of oil, but I'm going to saute them in olive oil instead, because I have never had a good experience deep-frying at home and anyway I feel, with apologies to the doyenne of Italian cooking for Anglophone audiences, that they'll taste better that way.

I also have a hami melon I bought on sale. Depending on how it tastes I may eat it plain or dress it up a bit with lime juice, honey, and yet more mint. Actually the dressed-up option is extremely tempting regardless, because I recently bought some Turkish honey from Trader Joe's and it is so good that I went back and bought a second bottle just in case TJ's suddenly stops carrying it, as is their wont with many of my favorite products.


Something I vaguely plan to cook someday: I have no immediate plans to bake, because my freezer is still crammed with rhubarb coffee cake, orange and almond polenta cake, and half a recipe of uncooked dough for digestive biscuits. And yet I am longing to bake J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies, and now-ish is the time to do it so I can use up my chocolate before the weather gets too hot. Otherwise I seem to have switched into summer eating mode. I've got little multicolored tomatoes that aren't bad for out of season, and some ricotta to eat them with, and various salady things, and tons of pasta because whenever I see decent pasta on sale I buy multiple packages. I still have a piece of Spanish-style chorizo to use in something, and some calf's liver in the freezer, and chicken bones that should go into stock, and etc. etc. I want to try as much as possible to just do vegetables + pantry and freezer supplies for a while.

I would quite like to eat some Indian food, but cooking it is so labor-intensive that I don't know if a mere craving is sufficient motivation. Hopefully one of these days I'll have a weekend where I want to cook elaborate things, as opposed to one where I want to cook easy things and then watch cooking shows on Netflix and YouTube.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
Something I've cooked recently: The digestive biscuits I baked last Sunday turned out well, despite my having to substitute rolled oats (porridge oats) for the medium oats called for, because medium oats are not to be found in the US or at least not by me. I think the biscuits are a bit too sweet to eat with cheese as F-W suggests, but they're tasty with Nutella on top (what wouldn't be?) and best, in my opinion, eaten plain with a cup of milky spiced chai.

I decided to start a second batch of pickled cherries, because I made the first batch using the last of a bottle of unfiltered cider vinegar, and while the pickling liquid tastes fine it looks rather murky. So I bought more cherries, and since the supermarket only sells them in big bags I had the perfect amount left over to make a clafoutis this morning. I make clafoutis fairly regularly (meaning, once or twice a year) but I think this is the first time I've actually made the traditional version, with cherries. The cherries in a classic clafoutis are not pitted, which suited me fine as I don't have a pitter and am much too lazy to do it by hand. It does make me wonder how the French handle the etiquette of spitting out the cherry pits.

A few days ago I got a sudden, tremendous craving for red meat, and the universe obliged me by letting me find an enormous two-inch-thick rib steak at the supermarket, heavily discounted as it was near its sell-by date. I've often had trouble cooking steak correctly, for some reason, but I seared it in a very hot pan for two minutes per side, then finished it in a moderate oven, and it was perfect. I used some of the leftovers in a steak sandwich the next day, will add the rest of the meat to a salad today with romaine lettuce and blue cheese, and the bone is in my freezer awaiting the next time I make stock. It's probably ridiculous to even mention cooking something as simple as a steak, but I'm really pleased that I managed to get it a lovely pink all the way through, right on the cusp between rare and medium rare, neither raw in the middle nor (to my taste) overdone. It's clearly the thickness of the steak that makes the difference; it's hard to find thick steaks without paying top dollar, but I'll keep an eye out for them from now on.


Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: I don't have any concrete plans. I've got a bag of those nice miniature bell peppers and I kind of want to stuff them, but I'm still mulling over the stuffing. I want to use the last of a hunk of Spanish-style chorizo I bought a while back, but I'm undecided between rice and bread crumbs for the starchy bit. I should also--separately--make the potato salad with anchovies and olives that I didn't make last weekend, to use the potatoes before they go bad. (Though actually, uncooked mini peppers stuffed with that potato salad sound like they might be rather good . . . I do intend to make normal, cooked stuffed peppers this time, but it's an idea for the future.)


Something I'm vaguely thinking about cooking someday: Everything, as usual. It occurred to me today that the pickled cherries might be fantastic with duck, but that's probably an autumn dish. I am actually really longing for seasonal things; next week I should try to get myself to the farmers' market and see what's available and whether I can afford any of it.


One final and somewhat food-related note: [personal profile] st_aurafina told me that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, he of the digestive biscuits, has cooking shows, and now I've been binge-watching Escape to River Cottage and fantasizing about an idyllic little place in the country with a stream and a garden and some pigs. Of course it's the kind of simple life that actually requires a good deal of money, at least at the start, and then a lot of hard labor to maintain. But a boy can dream. The thought of being really alone, of being able to go for a walk and not see anyone, appeals increasingly, especially now that with the internet you can still have access to entertainment, shopping, and human contact when you want it with people you actually like. I've lived all my adult life in one city or another, and there's a lot I love about cities, but I grew up deep in the country and I've been realizing, over the last few years, that it formed me more than I knew at the time.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
Cherries are on sale at the supermarket, so I bought a nice bagful today and have made brandied cherries (using this recipe but with the spices from this recipe). The rest of the cherries are soaking overnight in vinegar, to be turned into pickled cherries tomorrow. I did eat a few of them fresh, as well, but mostly I wanted to do things with them.

I feel like a domestic god, although it was all very easy, actually.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
Something I've cooked recently: Inspired by the rhubarb challenge at [community profile] weekly_food_challenge, I bought some rhubarb and used it to bake this big crumb coffee cake. For once I mostly followed the recipe, apart from substituting plain yogurt for the sour cream and a few high-altitude adjustments. It is completely delicious, as you might expect from anything with that much butter in it.

It's not a glamorous-looking cake and I'm not a good photographer, but have a pic anyway:

under the cut )

The coffee cake only used half my rhubarb--I bought a lot because I originally planned to make jam with it, but then I discovered that the jam recipe required pectin and I was too lazy to go out and buy some. I didn't want to make another sweet thing, so I decided to use rhubarb as a vegetable. Some thinking about what would be enhanced by rhubarb's sourness quickly led me to curry, specifically a red lentil curry. I couldn't find a recipe that really suited me, so I improvised. I cooked it this morning and ate it for breakfast, because I'm like that.

Here's what I did )

Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: Today I definitely intend to make a batch of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's digestive biscuits--I meant to do this last weekend but didn't get around to it. (The recipe sounds great, but I admit to also being attracted by his name, which is so quintessentially upper-class-English that I keep picturing him as a young Hugh Grant.) And I'll probably make some potato salad with anchovies and olives from Marcella Hazan's recipe. Three different cuisines in one day, why not?


Something I vaguely plan to cook eventually: Not much. I have a lot of salad fixings, and some frozen tamales that I bought on clearance for super-cheap and which are taking up a lot of freezer space. So the plan for the week is tamales and salads. And I shouldn't need to bake again for ages, since I've still got a ton of last week's orange, almond, and polenta cake in the freezer as well as yesterday's coffee cake, and soon there will be biscuits as well. Although I do have some chocolate that needs using up . . .
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
A couple of people were curious about the polenta, almond, and orange cake I was making today, so let me say that the taste is delicious. It's got a gloriously orange-y flavor, deep yet bright, with just a hint of spice from the coriander.

I basically followed this recipe, with a couple of tweaks. First, I boiled the orange (a Valencia) for about two hours instead of using it raw. That's the standard practice in most cakes that include a whole orange; it supposedly eliminates some of the bitterness from the pith. I also removed about half the peel before putting the orange in the food processor. With some of the peel, I scraped off as much of the bitter pith as I could and put the zesty part back in, but the rest I just discarded. This was also to reduce bitterness.

I also used less sugar, about 1 2/3 cups.

Finally, I soaked the hot cake in a citrus syrup made with the zest and juice of one lemon, the zest and juice of one large Valencia orange, and a couple of tablespoons of confectioners' sugar aka icing sugar. I boiled this mixture until it started to become syrupy, then spooned it gently over the cake. (In my last post I said I would put cardamom in the syrup, omitting the optional coriander in the cake, but then I thought about the flavor of olive oil and decided that coriander was better after all. So that went into the cake and I didn't put spices into the syrup.)

The recipe doesn't specify a kind of polenta, but for heaven's sake use a fine grind! I used coarse, and the result is a tad . . . crunchy. Still tastes great, but I'm glad I wasn't planning to bring it to a party or something.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
Something I've cooked recently: Last weekend I mentioned I was going to oven-roast some tomatoes. They turned out great; I used Lynn Rossetto Kasper's recipe for what she calls oven-candied tomatoes. I cut down the olive oil considerably, to no discernible harm, though next time I'll line the baking trays with aluminum foil because there was quite a lot of baked-on juice. Kasper says to use only the best summer tomatoes, but I used hothouse Campari tomatoes that happened to be on sale, and they were delicious. Admittedly they were, for hothouse tomatoes, pretty good to start with, but you don't have to hold out for perfect tomatoes. In fact, I think it would be a waste to do this with perfect summer tomatoes unless you grow them yourself and have tons; it makes more sense to me as a method for improving out-of-season tomatoes.

I have used some of the candied tomatoes in pasta with olive oil and garlic, and some more in a bread and tomato salad (a variety of grape and cherry tomatoes cut in half, a few pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped, three or four of the oven-candied tomato halves roughly chopped, olive oil, a little red wine vinegar, and some bite-sized pieces of French bread toasted with olive oil and garlic until crisp).

I've also been eating a lot of fresh tomatoes, since my supermarket keeps putting nice cherry and grape tomatoes on sale. Currently they're a ridiculously cheap $1 per pint. I've discovered that ricotta cheese, while loathesome in lasagne, is extremely good if drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with black pepper, and eaten uncooked along with tomatoes.


Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: At the moment I'm boiling an orange to use in an orange, almond, and polenta cake. I couldn't find a recipe that included all the features I wanted: mostly almond meal and polenta with little or no wheat flour, olive oil instead of butter, and a syrup added to the cake after baking. So I'm improvising a bit. My main recipe is this one, but with the orange boiled instead of ground up raw. I'll make a little syrup with orange juice and some cardamom pods and hope that adding it doesn't turn the cake to mush.

For dinner, I'm going to cook a Spanish-style rice dish that I dare not call paella, since not only will it include chorizo but I'm planning to bake it rather than cook it on the stovetop. Anyway, it'll have chorizo, some fresh sausage, chicken, ham, some of the oven-candied tomatoes, red and green bell pepper (capsicum), onion, some zucchini/courgettes, and probably some olives.

At some point, but probably not until next weekend. I'm going to bake plain digestive biscuits to eat with some of the Nutella I bought because it was on sale. (As you can see, a lot of my cooking/baking starts with "I bought this thing on sale, so now what do I do?")


Something I have vague plans to cook eventually: I bought yet more dandelion greens, which will need using soon; I could make a bacon-dressed salad of them but I'm not sure that's what I want. I might just have them with pasta. I want to make hummus at some point, too. But mostly I want to eat as many tomatoes as possible while they're still on sale.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
Something I've cooked recently: This is stretching the definition of "recently," but I wanted to give a bit more detail about the potato, cheese, and greens pie I mentioned in my last food post, since it turned out quite well.

It was based on this recipe by Paul Hollywood, but with a few modifications. I used only butter in the crust, since that's what I had, and I only used 113 grams (1 US stick of butter) rather than the 150 called for. I didn't want to thaw out a second stick of butter, and it seemed to me that the dish was pretty rich already. It worked fine, and also, because I baked the pie in a deeper, narrower dish than the original recipe called for, I only used a little more than half the pastry (the rest is in the freezer awaiting its destiny). In the pie itself, I used a mix of cheeses--cheddar, Cantal, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and feta--because I thought that would be more interesting, and also because British-style mature cheddar is hard to find in the US and expensive. I also added a big bunch of dandelion greens, blanched, squeezed, and chopped fairly finely. Be sure to squeeze all the water out of the blanched greens, and maybe cut back the milk a little; I wasn't as careful as I should have been and the filling was a bit runny as a result.

The pie was very tasty. The greens add earthiness and texture, and make the pie pretty much a meal in itself.

Since then I haven't done a ton of cooking, as I've been trying to use up some of the leftovers in my freezer. Today, though, I made something that turned out well, probably better than it deserved to, so I'll talk about that.

Mung Bean Stew with Grains, Greens, and Beef )

Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: Well, I bought some pears the other day and in a little while I'm going to make a pear crisp with almonds and toasted sugar. I also want to make an almond-and-polenta cake with orange, but probably not until next weekend. I have some tomatoes that I want to slow-roast in the oven for pasta sauce or something. I'll probably roast them once the pear crisp is out of the oven, but I'm very full from the stew so I doubt I'll actually use them until tomorrow or later.


Something I vaguely want to cook eventually: It's all a bit vague. The recent cold snap has made me crave stews, soups, polenta, beans, and sausage, but it's going to warm up again soon, so who knows? I definitely want to use a lot of pantry staples, though, because they're accumulating.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
By 10 am I had pastry made and chilling in the fridge for the potato, cheese, onion and greens pie I'm making, and my bread almost ready to go in the oven. I feel all diligent and accomplished.

I got a really good rise in the bread, and nice oven spring, good color, etc. Here it is just out of the oven: Picture )

For once I think I got it to the right internal temperature so it won't be underbaked in the middle--it's a huge loaf, so that can be tricky--and it did that crust-crackling thing when taken out of the oven, which is also a good sign.

/bread bragging

Well, maybe not, because if it turns out right I may post another picture once it's cut.

Yes, I am enjoying all the things I can do with my new phone.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
The sort-of pavlova. Taken on my phone, in bad light, so please be forgiving!

picture here )

That's a meringue/pavlova shell topped with a mixture of lemon curd and whipped cream, topped with raspberries, topped with more whipped cream. I whipped the smallest quantity of cream that seemed feasible, and I still feel like I've eaten a week's worth. (There are worse fates.)


ETA: AAAAARGH, huge image, trying to fix that now.

ETA2: Okay, I've made it much smaller, though also blurrier.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
Today has been my day to try new recipes and screw them up. *sigh*

I wanted to finally make some mini-pavlovas; the last time I meant to, I didn't get around to it right away and then left the egg whites in the fridge for a couple of days and was not sure of their safety. So today I whipped up the egg white mixture, spooned it out into circles, put them in the oven . . . and then discovered that I had forgotten to add the necessary cornstarch (cornflour) that makes them marshmallowy pavlovas instead of crunchy meringues. Also, the sugar didn't dissolve properly, so they'll be grainy. They'll probably still be usable--if I can't make pavlova, I'll make Eton Mess--and next time I'll know what to do to get it right, but it's still frustrating.

Incidentally, I used the toasted sugar that I made a while back in the meringues, and even in the uncooked mix the caramel flavor was absolutely lovely. I just have to whirr the sugar around in the food processor next time, to make it finer.

With the leftover egg yolks, I decided to make some creme patissiere. It turns out that a crucial thing about creme patissiere, which my recipe didn't tell me, is that you boil it. Not for long, but it has to boil or it won't thicken enough. I of course didn't boil mine, because what idiot boils an egg custard? So now I have a perfectly nice pouring custard that is not creme patissiere.

I had been planning to make a version of Paul Hollywood's Potato, Onion, and Cheese pie today, adding some dandelion greens to the original recipe and substituting feta cheese for some of the cheddar. But since this seems to be the day of baking fail, I will wait for tomorrow, when I'll also bake the bread I started today.

In other recent cooking, I sauteed the rapini from last week with some garlic, then added it to pasta along with goats' milk ricotta (it was on sale, and I thought "oh, why not?") and just a little cream to bind it all together, since the ricotta's texture was more curdy than creamy. It was quite nice.

The black radishes that I bought on an experimental whim were, to my taste, not very good. The flavor isn't much different from ordinary radishes, perhaps a bit spicier, but they are dense and chewy rather than crunchy. I found them unpleasant to eat and ended up guiltily throwing a couple of them away. Supposedly you can cook and mash them but when I've cooked daikon I haven't loved it, so I didn't bother.

This isn't quite cooking, but the other day I, a former confirmed salad hater and then more of a lettuce-hater, voluntarily made and ate a salad of just lettuce. I had bought a nice little variety pack of interesting lettuces, and I had also bought some walnut oil; these two things seemed meant for each other and I thought any other guests at the party would be too many. So, lettuce, walnut oil, and lemon. It was pretty good. I wouldn't want one every day (well, maybe a little one as a side dish, but since salads involve some time consuming washing and spinning dry of lettuce, when I make one I tend to make a big one), but pretty good.
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
Something I've cooked recently: I've been eating a lot of meals that are basically bread + cheese + salad. One salad I've made recently is cooked fresh fava beans, lightly cooked asparagus, and thinly sliced radishes, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and some grated lemon zest. I got the idea of combining favas and radishes from one of Yotam Ottolenghi's recipes; the asparagus was my own addition and tasted very good. The salad is best slightly warm or at room temperature

Today, however, I roasted a chicken, having bought a nice air-chilled chicken on sale yesterday. All very simple--I rubbed the chicken with some olive oil and salt, stuck it in a pan on top of fingerling potatoes and some wedges of fennel, and roasted it, back side up for the first half hour and then the normal way for the rest of the time. I've actually never eaten fennel before, and I wasn't sure I'd like it but I did.

The reason for the unusual presence of fennel in my kitchen is that I had a coupon from Whole Foods for 50% off fresh produce. So I went there yesterday and shopped my little heart out. I had intended to buy some lovely expensive mushrooms, but I wasn't impressed with what I found, so instead I bought a bulb of fennel, some rapini, a bag of fingerling potatoes, some golden beets, a butter lettuce, some black radishes (another thing I've never eaten before), a big container of mixed cherry tomatoes, and a truly ridiculous quantity of muscat grapes, which I am eating like a mad grape-eating fiend. They're the closest to scuppernongs (which I have eaten twice, years ago when I lived in Washington DC, and have longed for ever since) that I've found, and I am trying not to think about the carbon footprint caused by them having been flown in from Chile.


Something I have concrete plans to cook soon: Tomorrow or Sunday I'm going to make a sort of fancy pot pie with the leftover chicken, dried porcinis, and cream, topped with a super-flaky pastry crust made from the scraps I have left over from the asparagus and smoked salmon pie I made a few weeks ago.

I'm going to make yet another fava bean salad (I have a bag of frozen favas--the fresh ones are too troublesome and expensive for me, and I don't think they taste that much better), this time with the black radishes and the fronds from the fennel. I need to do something with the beets as well, but I haven't decided what yet. I'll probably have the rapini with pasta; if I'm feeling energetic and practical I'll cook the rapini with some garlic and then stick it in the freezer for a day when I'm definitely not feeling energetic.

Tomorrow I also plan to make scones, because I have strawberry jam languishing in the fridge and lemon curd in the freezer.


Something I'm vaguely thinking about making someday: Mostly I just crave vegetables and berries. And pickles and preserves, because I've been looking through my cookbooks on this topic and wanting to make half the recipes. Preserved lemons, anyone? Pickled cherries? Homemade kimchi? Rhubarb and apricot jam infused with Earl Grey tea? Of course it's too early in the year for most of this, but I'm keeping my eye out for rhubarb.



Addendum: in news from the sugar front, discussion of dietary choices )
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
Something I've cooked recently: Yesterday I finally cooked the soup with rice and chicken livers that I wanted to cook weeks ago. Being me, I didn't follow Marcella Hazan's recipe but adapted it for my own purposes. What I did )

When I went shopping on Thursday I impulse-bought some dandelion greens, which I've never eaten before. Today I blanched some for about a minute in boiling water to reduce the bitterness, drained them, then cooked them in olive oil and garlic and ate them with some of the fava bean and potato puree that I cooked a while ago and have been keeping in the freezer. I put the greens in the bottom of a shallow pasta bowl and poured the puree over them. That was my breakfast* this morning, actually, and it was yummy.

*"Breakfast foods" are not usually my preferred breakfast foods. I like bacon and eggs, and I like pancakes and that sort of thing, but not all the time. So when I have leisure for a cooked breakfast it's often some kind of food more associated with lunch or dinner. Yesterday for breakfast I had tacos, though I suppose they were "breakfast tacos" (are breakfast tacos and burritos a thing outside of the southwestern US?) since the filling was scrambled eggs.


Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: I still have a lot of dandelion greens left, so later today I plan to make a salad of dandelion greens and spinach with a hot bacon dressing. There will probably still be some dandelion greens left after that, but I have no plans yet for the remainder.

I'm going to cook a lot of bacon at once and use the remainder for a potato salad with blue cheese and bacon that is one of my favorite foods ever.

I'm also, probably tomorrow, going to cook the stir-fried ground pork and greens with fermented bean curd that I mentioned in my last food post. I suppose I could add the dandelion greens to that, although I do have a big bunch of Chinese mustard greens I bought specifically for the purpose.

Yes, I am on a bit of a greens kick.


Something I'm vaguely thinking about cooking eventually: Dunno. I should look through my cookbooks. The weather here has been changeable, which makes it hard to know what I'll want to eat in the future. Not much more than a week ago we had high temperatures close to 80 F (26.6 C); in the past week it's been much colder and has snowed overnight several times. Anyway, I have so much food in the pantry that I should probably try to minimize shopping for the next couple of weeks and use some of what I already have.

I've been wanting to bake a cake but I still have uneaten treats from the last time I baked. Mmm, I think I'll have a slice of cranberry/dried cherry cake.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
Something I've cooked recently: Today I made an asparagus and smoked salmon tart. I couldn't find a recipe that was exactly what I wanted, so I improvised. Here's what I did )

I bought some raclette cheese on sale recently, so I've had raclette, or at least raclette adopted for a single person without a fireplace, twice. The first time I went fairly traditional, boiling some new potatoes, then topping them with shredded raclette and broiling until the cheese was all melted and oozy. The second time, I sort of made my own version of chile cheese fries--I cut some baking potatoes into wedges, coated them with oil, salt, and smoked paprika and roasted them until crisp outside and soft inside, and then covered a big mound of them with raclette and broiled.


Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: No concrete plans. I need to keep using an opened jar of fermented bean curd I have in the fridge, so I may make this recipe for bean curd with Chinese cabbage and ground pork, or something similar. The weather has been ridiculously warm here for March, so I mostly feel interested in salads and pastas and such.


Something I vaguely plan to cook someday: Oh, everything, as usual. I've been craving seafood, which is a problem because while I love eating it, I really don't love cooking it. Shrimp would be helpful for this, since you can get them conveniently frozen and pre-peeled, but since I've heard about shrimp farms ruining the environment and literally using slave labor, I haven't wanted to buy shrimp. Anybody know of US brands that are okay to buy?
kindkit: A blurred, ominious image of Hannibal Lecter under a tree. (Hannibal: Hannibal red)
I'm actually posting this on Friday for a change!

Something I've cooked recently: I finally got around to cooking the quails. It's just as well I didn't go to the expense and effort of the sweetbread stuffing, because after about four bites, my fun new issue with meat textures kicked in. So the quails ended up in the stock pot along with a few stray bones I had in the freezer--chicken, pork, rude person. I had intended to make an Italian soup with rice, peas, and chicken livers, but then chicken livers were not to be had, so I cooked some rice in the stock and finished it in an old-fashioned French way with cream and a beaten egg. It was nice enough, but the cream rather overpowered the flavor of the lovely stock.

I also made a vaguely salade niçoise type thing with romaine lettuce, tuna, cooked potatoes, cooked green beans, tomatoes, and cucumber with an anchovy vinaigrette. One especially nice thing about this is that it keeps, so I got two dinner portions and two sandwiches for work out of it (to make the sandwich, stuff as much salad as you can into a hollowed-out section of baguette and drizzle on a little extra vinaigrette).

And, continuing this unexpected French theme, I cooked a vaguely cassoulet type thing. I took about a pound and a half of dried white beans (soaked overnight) and put them in an earthenware baking dish along with two carrots, two ribs of celery, and one large onion all cut into big chunks, plus about eight peeled garlic cloves. To that I added about a pound and a half of country style pork ribs on the bone (large pieces of fat removed), a bay leaf, a little salt, about a tablespoon of duck fat drizzled over, and enough water to cover the beans and most of the meat. I cooked it, covered, in a very low oven (about 225 F or 107 C) for a couple of hours, then added two supposedly French-style garlic sausages, whole, and two cut-up smoked garlicky and peppery sausages and cooked it for another couple of hours, removing as many of the vegetables as I could fish out after about an hour. I'd intended to add some kale and beet greens at this point but there wasn't room. Anyway, it turned out very nice; the beans were beautifully tender and the cooking liquid had lots of flavor. The pork ribs also come out tender and falling off the bone, but still with good flavor in the meat, so people without my texture issues might want to pull the meat into pieces and return it to the dish.


Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: Today, I bake! Naturally, the consequence of my sugar-reduction decision (which is, I can have any sweet things I bake or cook myself, but no soda and, as much as I can manage, no storebought cakes, cookies, candy bars, etc.) is that I'm going to bake a lemon-glazed loaf cake with dried cranberries and cherries. Er, and some brownies. Not just any brownies, mind you, but Aztec Gold Brownies, which are the best brownies I've ever made or eaten and possibly the best brownies in the world. I mean, if I'm trying to eat less sugar, I'd better make sure it's quality sugar, right?


Something I'm vaguely thinking about cooking someday: Everything? So many recipes, so little time. It's been unseasonably warm here, which has got me craving spring and summer things instead of the hearty pies I'd been meaning to bake all winter. Hmm, maybe an asparagus tart?

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kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)
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