kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
2017-06-25 10:55 am
Entry tags:

recipe weekend

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)
2017-06-18 07:28 pm
Entry tags:

recipe weekend

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)
2017-06-11 10:59 am

recipe weekend; also TV and movies and stuff

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)
2017-06-04 11:58 am
Entry tags:

recipe weekend

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)
2017-05-27 12:53 pm
Entry tags:

recipe weekend

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)
2017-05-20 11:45 am
Entry tags:

recipe weekend

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)
2017-05-14 10:52 am
Entry tags:

recipe weekend

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: A blurred, ominious image of Hannibal Lecter under a tree. (Hannibal: Hannibal red)
2017-03-10 01:26 pm
Entry tags:

recipe Friday

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?
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
2014-10-27 06:07 pm
Entry tags:

recipe Friday (on Monday)

On Thursday I accidentally cooked a pot roast. The accidental part was that I had originally intended to cook beef rendang, but then at the last second I found that I didn't have enough lemongrass. Nor did I have the time or energy to go out and buy more lemongrass, but the beef had been thawing in the fridge for a couple of days and needed to be cooked, so I improvised a pot roast based on what I had around (i.e. an onion, a stick of celery, some dried shiitake mushrooms, a few fragments of dried porcini mushrooms I found while looking for the shiitakes, and some sherry). So on Thursday I ate pot roast with mashed potatoes, then on one of the intervening days had some leftover pot roast over pasta, and tonight I made a sort of cottage pie with the remaining pot roast topped with the leftover potatoes. I was amused to realize it was in fact the same meal as on Thursday, only upside down. (But for some reason the pie tasted better than the original pot roast + potatoes. Maybe it's true that stews and braises get better--within reason--after they've been around a while?)

I still want to make beef rendang, but now I have no beef. I'll need to wait for beef chuck to go on sale again, I guess. Or beef short ribs, if I'm incredibly lucky. It's a dish I've wanted to try for years, in part because, while I love the idea of braised beef, I have seldom loved the thing itself. But to my taste it's very hard to go wrong with coconut milk and spices.

Speaking of braised beef, a while back I picked up some beef cheeks on sale. They're in the freezer, and I'm thinking of cooking them for Thanksgiving. Anyone have ideas for how to cook them that are more exciting than the usual "stew them in wine or beer" sort of thing? (I don't think they're suitable for beef rendang because they require v.v. long cooking.)

In other cooking news, I think I might try baking an apple pie on my next days off.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
2014-10-03 05:17 pm
Entry tags:

recipe Friday

I spent a lot of my weekend (i.e. Wednesday and Thursday) cooking. I roasted a chicken on Wednesday and made chicken stock from the backbone--which I had cut out to roast the chicken flat--the giblets, and a bunch of accumulated chicken bones in the freezer, all simmered in a mixture of water and some commercial chicken broth. If I'd had meaty pieces of chicken I'd have left the commercial broth out, but with just bones I didn't think there'd be enough flavor otherwise.

Some of the chicken stock is in my freezer; I used the rest on Thursday to make a minestrone-ish soup. Here's what I did under the cut )

Also yesterday, I baked a flourless chocolate orange cake using Nigella Lawson's recipe. It's basically her clementine cake with some cocoa added. I also added a couple of ounces of melted dark chocolate, because cocoa is not chocolate and I wanted the cake to be chocolate. And since I don't have an 8 inch springform pan I used a 10 inch one and baked it for about 10 minutes less time. The result is very nice, chocolatey without being overwhelming and orangey without the bitter edge of the plain clementine cake. It does have that slightly crumbly/grainy texture of cakes made with almond meal and no flour; for me this is a feature not a bug, but not everyone agrees. (The linked recipe gives quantities in grams: US equivalents are 2 cups almond meal, 1 1/4 cups sugar, and 1/2 cup cocoa.) Oh, and don't do what I did and ignore the bit about lining the bottom of the pan (with baking parchment or silpat): the cake will indeed stick to a buttered nonstick springform pan.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
2014-06-14 01:06 pm
Entry tags:

recipe Friday: Saturday addendum

Today I cooked the pork and kimchi stir-fry I mentioned before. SO GOOD. I've never used gochujang before, but now I want it in everything.

A few notes: I halved the recipe, although I probably used about a cup of kimchi, in part because I like kimchi and in part because the original recipe calls for such a large amount of meat to a small amount of kimchi that I do wonder if it's been adapted a little for western tastes. Oh, and I ended up using a whole onion even in the halved recipe because I hate using half an onion. (The problem is the other half. No matter how well you wrap it, it will tend to be stinky and will also dry out quickly. And I can't just throw away perfectly good food.) I omitted the bell pepper and jalapenos.

I used pork loin because that's what I had around (but I'll bet it's even better with pork belly). Because pork loin cooks fast, I changed the order of the steps. I cooked the onion first on fairly high heat until it had softened and was barely beginning to brown, then added the pork, then the kimchi when the pork seemed about half cooked, and the carrot and green onion in the last minute of cooking.

And I am eating the delicious result, along with recipe and a cucumber salad dressed with rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar, as I type this. It's spicy but by no means too spicy for my taste (and I used the full amount of gochujang, plus extra kimchi as I said). The chiles are balanced by the rice, of course, and by the complexity of the sauce which has sweet and tart flavors as well. Seriously, this is the best thing I've eaten in quite a while.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
2014-06-13 05:50 pm
Entry tags:

recipe Friday

I haven't cooked anything of huge interest since last time, but yesterday, inspired by The Guardian's discussion of a proper cream tea and by strawberries being on sale for 98 cents a pound, I made the closest American equivalent of a scone with cream and jam: strawberry shortcake.

I modified this recipe for lemon shortcakes with strawberries a bit. I halved the recipe, first of all. Then, because I read somewhere (perhaps the Joy of Cooking?) that a bit of orange complements and heightens the flavor of strawberries, I used orange zest in the shortcakes instead of lemon zest.

As for the berries, I sliced my pound of strawberries about five hours beforehand, added a couple of teaspoons of sugar, a few gratings of orange zest, and a teaspoon or two or fresh orange juice, stirred and let the berries macerate in the fridge. Then while the biscuits were still slightly warm from the oven, I assembled in the obvious way--a split biscuit topped with strawberries and whipped cream. Result: yum. The strawberries, being the usual supermarket berries, could perhaps have used a bit more sugar, but the orange definitely improved them. And the shortcakes were gorgeous. I, er, may have ended up eating two servings in place of dinner.

I should note, though, that both yesterday and tonight (because there were strawberries and shortcakes left over) I failed at whipping cream, of all things. Yesterday I tried making it in the food processor (with a chilled bowl and blade) and ended up with only slightly thickened cream despite two minutes or more of processing time. I concluded that it just wasn't possible to whip cream that way, but the internet tells me otherwise. Tonight, with a chilled eggbeater and bowl, the result was equally runny. So I think the problem must be my cream; I just checked the label and noticed that it doesn't say "whipping cream" or even "heavy cream," just "cream." So probably it has too little fat to whip properly. Who knew? (Possibly every cook who isn't me?) I was also trying to whip quite a small amount, which I'm sure didn't help. Anyway, it was still tasty despite the failure of the cream to be properly light, thick, and luscious.

Speaking of which, The Guardian's cream tea forum has made me crave clotted cream. Om nom nom. But I will resist, because $6 for a tiny little jar is not on. I wonder if it's possible to make it oneself?
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
2014-06-06 04:41 pm
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recipe Friday

Something I've cooked recently: Lack of cash means I'm relying on things I had on hand. This can have the pleasant side-effect of making me cook more creatively. Today I improvised a tagine-ish chicken dish.

click here to read more )

I hadn't meant to bake because it's been hot here, but then I needed bread, so yesterday I baked a loaf of the four-grain pot boule I like, which also handily used up the last of my bread flour.

While I was at it, I made some peanut butter and chocolate chip brownies. Recipe under the cut is from the Bon Appetit Cookbook, ed. Barbara Fairchild, 2006.

Recipe )

So now in my freezer I have a bunch of brownies, plus about a quarter of the orange cake from the other week, and a few brownies and a bit of orange cake in the fridge for more immediate consumption. The downside of baking for one is that you really have to stick to recipes that can be frozen and stored (a full-sized cake filled with whipped cream and fresh fruit, say, would just go to waste) but the upside is that you end up with a freezer full of tasty sweet things to be eaten as the mood strikes you.


Something I have definite plans to cook in the near future: Not until after payday, but I want to try this pork and kimchi stir-fry soon, since I have 3/4 of a jar of kimchi that's a little too fermented to eat raw (for my taste) and therefore is perfect to cook with. Last week I used some of the kimchi in an improvised stir-fried rice noodle dish, and it was very tasty.


Something I'm idly thinking about cooking someday: It's a little early yet but I'm craving summer foods like sweet corn and, if I can manage to get some, good tomatoes. And peaches. The peaches here are seldom good enough to eat raw, in my opinion, but they make a perfectly nice clafouti or cobbler. Oh, and I'm in the mood (again) for potato salad with blue cheese and bacon, which is the most delicious thing in the universe and which I might eat with bratwurst, since I've been craving something hotdoggy. (Basic recipe for the potato salad: Cut some bacon into small pieces and fry it up until crisp, then set the pieces aside. Cut some red potatoes into bite-sized pieces and boil until tender. While they're boiling, mash up some room temperature creamy blue cheese with a bit of mayonnaise and yogurt. Slice some green onions thinly. When the potatoes are done, drain them and leave them in the colander until they're lukewarm, not hot. Stir them into the blue cheese mix and sprinkle in the green onions and bacon pieces.)
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
2014-05-30 04:24 pm
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recipe Friday

I've been reading a ton of Stargate: Atlantis (McShep) and Captain American fic lately. I've had an intense craving for m/m but without the complications of reading fic in fandoms I know well and/or care about. Trouble is, satisfying that craving has given me massive cravings for certain foods, because apparently SGA in particular is a very food-centric fandom. Among the things I badly want are:

Coffee (both fandoms)
Meatloaf and mashed potatoes (SGA)
Pizza (both)
Hot dogs (Captain America; consider all puns as read but discarded in favor of literal hot dogs)

And thinking about hot dogs has given me the worst urge to go to an A&W. Any other US-ians have fond memories of the place? When I was little, going to A&W was a rare and quite special treat; the town where we did our shopping had a drive-in and we went maybe once a year? I never liked eating in the car, but I did like the root beer, onion rings, and coney dogs. *chews on knuckles, which taste like none of the above* I haven't eaten at an A&W in probably over thirty years, but the internet tells me there's one about forty-five miles away. My very tight budget currently precludes a trip (and in fact precludes all of my cravings until payday, much too distant), but damn I want to go. Though probably the only result would be ruining a rosy childhood memory with a grim reality.

The weather here has finally turned summery after a chilly spring (less than two weeks ago it was snowing; yesterday the high temp was 86 F or 30 C), so I've switched over to warm-weather mode. I probably won't bake bread again for ages unless we get a cold snap; I did cook some congee the other day but only because my stomach wasn't feeling happy. I'm more in the mood for vegetable-y dishes, so yesterday I made a vaguely tabbouleh thing.

Tabboul-ish )

In other cooking news, the remainder of the boiled orange cake (a lot of it is in my freezer), which has been in a covered pan on my counter for over a week now as I nibble at it, is still moist. It's almost frightening.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
2014-05-23 05:33 pm
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recipe Friday

Yesterday I finally baked the boiled-orange cake I've been wanting to try. I used Nigella Lawson's clementine cake recipe, more or less, and although I made a ridiculous number of modifications it turned out very nice.

First of all, instead of clementines (out of season here and not to be had in the market) I used two valencia oranges, and therefore used the slightly larger amount of sugar recommended in the note at the end of the recipe.

Next, I was worried about those six eggs. I like eggs, but I don't like sweet things that taste of eggs, and six eggs sounded like a formula for an orange-flavored omelette. So I used four eggs, and as a substitute for the other two, I used about 6 tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of water. Honestly, given all the moisture from the oranges, I think the cake would have been fine with just four eggs and four tablespoons of oil.

Finally, as I don't own a springform pan of the right size, I used an 8x8 inch (21x21 cm) square glass pan. Because glass pans tend to form a heavy crust, I set the oven at 325 F rather than 375 and cooked for . . . oh, probably almost an hour and a half. When I took the cake out, the skewer was still not coming out clean from the center, but the edges of the cake were browning and pulling away from the pan, so I didn't want to wait longer.

With all those changes it shouldn't have worked, but it did. The result is a gorgeously moist, gorgeously orange-tasting cake. It's fairly heavy and crumbly-textured because it uses almond meal instead of flour, but I'm developing a real fondness for that style of rustic cake. This is in part because I live up in the mountains, and altitude (plus my lack of either a mixer or the strength of arm and character needed to beat together butter and sugar for long periods of time) makes light, delicate cakes difficult to produce. So I'm making a virtue of necessity, but it's a tasty virtue. Both the orange cake and the lemon-almond-polenta cake I made some time back have the power to make delicate cakes seem insipid.

I should note that the cake does have a little bit of a bitter edge to it, like marmalade. But fortunately not as bitter as marmalade, which would have been too much for me. Next time I make this--and it's a cake I definitely plan to make repeatedly--I might try the clementines or some other kind of tangerine, since they have thinner peels and less of the bitter pith.

In other cooking news, I managed to snag some frozen fava beans at Trader Joe's, yay! I've never seen favas there before, and since I've also never seen favas at any local supermarket (except the fresh ones that are a pain in the ass), I was thrilled. So the other night I made some polenta, which I cooked in a new way, by baking. Now that I know that you can just chuck some polenta meal and water in a pan and stick it in the oven for 45 minutes, instead of standing by the stovetop and stirring and anxiously watching in case it scorches for 45 minutes, I will be eating more polenta. Anyway, to accompany the polenta I diced a small (about 2 ounces) Spanish-style chorizo and cooked it in olive oil along with a shallot, then added some favas, bits of sun-dried tomato, and a little chicken stock and simmered for five minutes or so, until the stock was mostly evaporated. I topped the polenta with the fava mixture, grated some Asiago over the whole thing, and enjoyed very much. It was an oddly wintery meal considering it's spring here, but the weather has been pretty cool and I love polenta.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
2014-05-02 02:23 pm
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recipe Friday

Are people still doing Recipe Friday? Regardless, it's Friday and I wanted to post about cooking.

I haven't been doing a lot of elaborate cooking lately, because I'm still getting used to my new work schedule (up at 4 am every day to be at work at 6 am). Also, as the weather warms up I mostly lose the urge for stews, etc. and get more in the mood for pasta and noodle dishes and such simpler things.

1) One of Nigella Lawson's books mentioned that the best thing to do with storebought gnocchi is not to boil them, which makes them gluey, but to pan-fry them. She is so right. Panfried in oil (or clarified butter if you like) they become golden, crisp on the outside, and generally gorgeous. They work best, I think, with sauces that are fairly dry and chunky, not too buttery or oily but full of strong flavors. Most recently I made a sauce by frying about 2 ounces of diced Spanish-style chorizo and a diced shallot in some olive oil, then added a couple cloves of minced garlic, then a partially-drained 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes. I simmered that until the flavors had melded and the sauce was fairly dry, then topped the gnocchi with some sauce and some grated Asiago cheese.

There was leftover sauce, which was lovely the next morning as the base for baked eggs. I put a couple of tablespoons of sauce apiece into 2 small oiled ramekins, added an egg to each, baked until the white was solid and ate happily with bread.

2) I've finally found a bread book that has most of the characteristics I want. Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza gives its recipes by weight (in grams, no less), explains each step and technique thoroughly, offers multiple types of recipe (same-day breads, overnight no-knead breads, breads with pre-ferments such as poolish and biga, and levain/sourdough breads), uses the technique of baking in a Dutch oven (so no futzing around with baking stones or spraying water into your oven, which doesn't work well and can damage the oven), and uses the stretch-and-fold method for developing the gluten rather than extensive kneading. The only thing missing, I think, is delayed first fermentation (i.e. refrigerating the dough immediately after mixing, which allows enzymatic development that creates more flavor) but that's easy enough to insert into the recipes. Oh, and I wish his recipes were scaled for one loaf rather than two--in theory you can halve the recipe, but then you start getting yeast quantities of .2 grams aka a scant 1/16 of a teaspoon, which is tricky to measure.

Yesterday I baked Forkish's White Bread with Poolish, the most basic of the poolish recipes, and had very encouraging success. The poolish, which is basically a very wet starter dough that ferments overnight and then forms the basis of the final dough, creates flavors similar to those No-Knead Bread develops, but the final dough is not quite as hydrated as no-knead bread and therefore easier to work with. I got a better rise with this dough than I've gotten with no-knead bread, which is so slack that it tends to lose gas.

I made one of the two loaves in the "fendu" shape, in which the dough is divided down the middle with a dowel into two lobes just barely attached. But then I forgot to sprinkle flour in the division to keep the lobes apart, and after baking I discovered that a round fendu loaf in which the two parts have mostly fused together again . . . looks a lot like an ass. (Note for Brits and others: backside, not donkey.) Ass-shaped bread! The mind boggles with marketing possibilities.

I'm not sure whether to try making biga (another starter, less wet than poolish) next or jump straight into levain breads. Perhaps levain, because it won't be too many more weeks before it'll be so hot here that I won't really want to bake.

3) Today after work I cooked poha, an Indian dish of beaten rice cooked with spices and vegetables (the rice itself is also called poha). The linked recipe is basically the one I followed, although I parboiled the potato dice until tender, used more mustard seed and 3 chiles, and added some frozen peas at the same time I added the beaten rice. Yum. It's extremely similar to upma made with sooji, which I also like, but a little easier to make; it's also fluffier-textured and uses less oil/ghee. Three cups of poha makes a big batch, so I have some tasty breakfasts to look forward to. (Yes, I do like spicy things for breakfast. And I much prefer savory breakfast foods to sweet ones, although I love sweets the rest of the time.)
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
2014-03-07 02:24 pm
Entry tags:

pizza update

I thought I'd post the results of Project Pizza right away rather than waiting for the next Recipe Friday, partly because I want to note all this while it's fresh in my mind and partly because I thought you might be curious.

My overall reaction is: yum. This makes good pizza, with all the ingredients very flavorful and distinct. I wasn't even using top-of-the-line ingredients, just supermarket-brand canned tomatoes, supermarket-made bulk Italian sausage, and whole milk mozzarella from Trader Joe's. It makes me wonder how poor-quality the ingredients in typical commercial pizza must be.

Anyway, now for my notes.

1) I added two cloves of finely-chopped garlic to the tomatoes (note that I was halving the recipe), which makes for a very garlicky result. Fine with me, as I like garlic.

2) The browned, crumbled, drained bulk sausage worked fine.

3) Drain the tomatoes well. Really really well. I had a bit of a problem, once the pizza was sliced, with tomato juice soaking into the crust.

4) When I was shaping the crust, the dough tended to spring back and it was hard to form the little walls at the edge, even after 2+ rests. This created a further problem, in that while the dough was resting, it was also rising. So when I put it the crust into the oven to blind bake it for 10 minutes, I got OMG oven spring and had to poke the crust lots and lots with a fork to get the inside to lie flat so I could put the toppings on. Next time less yeast (I did use less than the recipe calls for, because of the altitude, but I'll cut it down further next time) and I might try [personal profile] executrix's suggestion of putting some semolina in the dough to make it more cooperative.

5) The crust didn't come out quite as crisp and brown as it should have, even though I ended up baking it for considerably longer than the 25 minutes the recipe suggests. I should have baked it at 450 F (partly because of the altitude, again, and partly because of my oven). Also, next time I'll blind bake the crust in the lower third of the oven as I did today, but then raise the rack to the center for baking the topped pizza so that the top browns better.

6) No doubt I'd get better results with a real pizza pan instead of a springform, because the springform is very thin, which isn't conducive to browning and crispness. Most things you bake in a springform pan, you don't want to brown or develop a crisp crust. On the other hand, using the springform does make it simple to transfer the pizza from the pan to the rack. I'm glad I didn't try to make the pizza in a 9x13 baking pan, which was my original plan before I thought of the springform. I'd never have gotten it out in one piece to cool.

7) I should also mention that I used Asiago-style cheese (from Trader Joe's and quite inexpensive) rather than Parmigiano for the cheese topping. In my case it was a matter of my budget not stretching to Parmigiano right now, but actually I think the Asiago may be a better choice. Parmigiano has subtle, rounded, nuanced flavors that would get lost in a pizza, whereas the Asiago is brasher and more pizza-y. Using Parmigiano-Reggiano here would be a waste of money, I think.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
2014-03-07 09:46 am
Entry tags:

recipe Friday

Yesterday was payday, and to celebrate not being flat broke, I bought a kitchen scale. I've been wanting one for ages. Now I can cook/bake from recipes that specify weights (as most non-US recipes do) rather than volume, without having to do ridiculous things like try and convert grams to cups. (I have done that once, successfully, to make a fruitcake, but it's full of potential problems and makes for nervous baking.) Having a scale also means I can bake bread properly by weighing my ingredients. Yay!


Something I cooked recently: Last night I finally baked the Lemon Polenta Cake I've been talking about for weeks. It was extremely easy--I put the whole thing together in the food processor, on the grounds that a cake with no wheat flour in it can't be over-mixed--and produced a delicious cake. The almond meal and polenta give the cake enough presence to stand up to the intense lemon syrup, unlike the lemon loaf cake I tried a couple of weeks back where the cake itself was sort of insipid. The finished lemon polenta cake is extremely moist (almost falling apart), extremely flavorful, and extremely extremely rich. Possibly a little too rich for my taste; I think I'll cut down the butter next time. Something about the moist richness and the dense crumbly texture reminds me of baklava, which is a good thing as I love baklava but I hate using phyllo pastry, because no matter what I do it immediately becomes dry and shatters. Anyway, another thing I'm loving about the cake is that it promises a lot of variability, since both the syrup and the batter could be spiced or flavored in many ways: lime or orange zest and syrup, grated ginger and a ginger-infused simple syrup, a lemon-basil or lemon-rosemary syrup, cardamom and saffron syrup, etc.


Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: Pizza! Using this recipe, except that I'm going to using uncased sausage, browned and drained, rather than sliced sausage links. The dough is rising now; I'm going to use half the dough, freezing the other half for later, and bake it in a 10 inch springform pan. This because not only don't I own a 14 inch pizza pan, but one probably wouldn't fit in my oven. And yes, I've done the math; a 10 inch pan is almost exactly half the area of a 14 inch pan. I'm excited about this project because I've never made my own pizza dough before, and also because this recipe allows me to have lots of toppings and cheesy goodness, whereas most homemade pizza recipes strive for an authentically Italian-style pizza with a thin crust and a distinctly ascetic touch with the toppings. These pizzas are no doubt excellent, but I grew up with American pizza and I want my cheese.

I'm not baking yeast bread this week, because bread and pizza dough was more than I wanted to tackle. Later on today I'll throw together a loaf of soda bread, which is easy and fast, so that I'll have something for breakfast and lunches.


Something I'm idly thinking about cooking someday: While grocery shopping yesterday I bought some split peas, so I'll be making split pea soup with those and the remaining ham hock in my fridge. That's probably the last of the really wintery things I'll be cooking for a while, because the weather here is definitely turning springlike. Speaking of which, asparagus continues to be on sale for 98 cents a pound, so I've got more of that to use in a pasta dish or a stir-fry or something. I need to try to reset my mind to spring and summer cooking.


ETA: I may possibly have made myself a Bloody Mary using the juice drained off of the tomatoes for the pizza. Vodka before noon: why not?
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
2014-02-28 08:08 am
Entry tags:

recipe Friday

Something I've cooked recently: I haven't done a lot of cooking over the last week because I've had a cold. Not a bad cold, but my energy levels have still taken a hit, and I'm not a terrifically energetic person to start with. Mostly I've relied on leftovers and bread.

Last Friday, when the cold was just starting, I did bake a lemon syrup loaf cake from a recipe in Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess. It's not bad but something about it doesn't quite work for me. The cake is fairly eggy, and I have weird issues with egginess. I like eggs themselves, but I don't want things like cakes and breads to taste of eggs. And there's something about the combination of the quite eggy cake with the very lemony syrup that puts me off. I like the syrup but I want to try it on a different cake.

Last week's semolina bread experiment turned out okay but not great, as the bread was pretty dense. My semolina has been in the cupboard a while (how long? I'm not sure) which no doubt didn't help the texture or the flavor.


Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: Today I'm going to make some chicken soup, which as we all know magically conquers the cold virus. It'll be a vaguely Mexican-style soup using the rest of the dried posole I had on hand, plus tomatoes, chiles, green beans, zucchini/courgettes, maybe a potato, lots of garlic, and some cilantro at the end. If you're thinking "that's more of a stew" you're right. I like a soup with presence; I don't bother cooking thin delicate brothy things.

And I'm going back to first principles with this week's bread. I'll be baking Jim Lahey's basic no-knead bread (although using Lahey's later, modified recipe that calls for a little less water) because I want to remind myself what the texture of that bread is like, and then in the coming weeks I'll see if I can keep that texture as much as possible while using more interesting flours and combinations of flours. Essentially I want to see if I can merge the best aspects of Lahey's bread with the best aspects of Nancy Baggett's Kneadlessly Simple breads, and then start developing more variations. I did add a stage to Lahey's recipe: I mixed the dough yesterday morning and let it pre-ferment in the fridge for about 10 hours before removing it to the counter for the first rise. I think the pre-fermentation is largely responsible for the superior flavor of Baggett's breads, whereas the larger quantity of water and the higher oven temperature are probably behind the better texture of Lahey's. Yes, it seems I am planning to do science for GREAT BAKING JUSTICE.


Something I idly plan to cook someday: I'm still longing for the lemon-polenta-almond cake and the semolina-cardamom-rosewater cake I've been talking about. I think that, considering I live at a high altitude, don't have a great oven, and don't own a mixer, I'll have more success with cakes like those that are supposed to be flatter and denser rather than with American-style light layer cakes. Also, the flavors are so much more interesting.
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
2014-02-21 12:50 pm
Entry tags:

recipe Friday

Something I've cooked recently: Yesterday I made a big delicious pot of red beans and rice. I didn't use a recipe, but under the cut is a recipe-ish description of what I did. Click here )

Last week's bread (County Fair White Bread) was not a huge success. It wasn't bad by any means, but the flavor was a bit boring. Partly that's because it uses white flour only, but that can't be the only reason, because the white bread pot loaf recipe from the same book gives more flavorful results. I think the other part of the problem was that, because eggs are added after the long first rise, more flour has to be added then too, which means that there's quite a bit of flour in the final product that hasn't gone through the pre-fermentation and first rise and so doesn't taste like anything but flour. The bread did remind me of the homemade white yeast bread of my childhood, which I loved at the time. But back then I was comparing the flavor to cheap supermarket white bread, while now I'm comparing it to slow-risen multigrain breads; my standards have changed.

I'm starting to think that it's actually more difficult to make soft sandwich-style breads at home than it is to make crusty European-style breads. Supermarket breads use all kinds of funky additives to create a loaf that is soft but can be sliced thin and will hold together well, but so far no recipe I've tried has done this. I can either make soft, light sandwich loaves that tend to fall apart, or dense sandwich loaves that can be sliced more thinly and will hold together. Maybe I should try a rye or whole wheat loaf that's supposed to be dense.


Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: Later today I will cook a potato, sausage, and corn soup using the rest of the Polish sausage. Mmm, soup.

This week's bread is currently engaged in its second rise. It's an experiment: I modified this four-grain bread recipe by replacing 1 1/4 cups of the bread flour with semolina. Hopefully it will work. It's behaving a little differently than the usual recipe does; its gluten didn't develop as well in the first rise so I kneaded it a bit before starting the second rise.

And I'm finally going to bake the lemon loaf cake I've been wanting for ages (not the lemon polenta cake, but a simpler recipe that doesn't call for almond meal). I'm going to start that as soon as I'm done with this post, in fact.


Something I idly plan to cook someday: For the next week I mostly plan to use my accumulated leftovers, although I did buy some asparagus (on sale for $1 a pound) that needs using. Tomorrow I'm going to cook some in a Thai-ish stir fry with some pork loin, and the rest I'll probably use in a pasta on Sunday. I think I have a cold coming on, so I may not feel much like cooking anyway and will be glad to have things in the freezer that only need warming up.

In more distant plans, I have one ham hock left that should be used in something (split pea soup, maybe? suggestions welcome). And I want to try this cardamom semolina cake with rosewater. I actually have all the ingredients on hand, because pantry, but I want to bake the lemon cake first.