Saturday, August 25, 2012

Oeufs en Cassolette Dijonnaise

I was looking for something quick for this Vendredis, since I’m coming down to the wire getting school stuff together – our homeschool year starts up Monday. Eggs to the rescue. I had chosen this particular dish because I wanted to use The Cuisine of the Rose , which covers in particular the cuisine of Burgundy and Lyonnais, and because it just had a classic set of ingredients – shallots, mustard, cream, white wine, and that lovely anise-y fresh tarragon.

005 My little pie bird is in there just because I like him and he keeps me company
Some notes here about duck eggs: I hadn’t thought this through, and when I went to the stove I switched to chicken eggs, which we happened to have in the house, fortunately. Usually we don’t, but the Patriarch sometimes uses our duck eggs for bartering-for-fish purposes, highly approved in this kitchen :-). Duck eggs are fresh and flavorful and useful for almost everything, but we’ve noticed that in a boiling situation they’re just strange. Size comparison to chicken eggs (the store chicken eggs are size “large” and are the brown ones):

We have Welsh Harlequin ducks, four of them, who provide us with over 2 dozen eggs a week. This breed theoretically doesn’t lay colored eggs, but as you can see, we sometimes get a green or blue-ish one, which is fun.
The shallots/wine/cream/tarragon/mustard is cooked over low heat for about ten minutes, the eggs are poached, the sauce is spooned over the top, fresh minced parsley sprinkled over all, and dinner is served. Not enough for my menfolk at ALL so they grabbed sandwiches, but surprisingly filling for the rest of us (doesn’t look like enough at all, does it?)

I think this would make a lovely luncheon dish, and this is what the cookbook author Mireille Johnston recommended. I’d like to try other flavorways she has with eggs, so you might see the general dish again.

Notes from a Quiet Day

So, if, hypothetically speaking, you were alone for three days while your family went to the beach, and your daughter had left you a whole casserole of gluten free cheese and tuna penne, and you had sour cream and truffle salt right there, do you suppose you could resist it?

No, me either. I’m not getting on my hypothetical scale.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cuban Picadillo

Near the end of my niece’s stay, we had a crazy day where everyone was tremendously productive, but nobody had a moment to think about dinner. It wasn’t my night to cook, so wasn’t on my radar, but when the situation became clear, I remembered how easy and fun it had been to have the Argentinean picadillo. How fun would it be to try another flavor profile? My niece is sensitive to corn, so she joined Sophia and I in eating hers on big romaine leaves. Again as I was opening this book, I marveled at the set up of it; love how there are basic recipe instructions with pictures, followed by a chart of various combinations you can use to change the recipe up.

So, from the book Cooking Know-How , we made this Cuban-style picadillo, which used dried mango (looks like corn kernels in my pic), green olives, cilantro, and cumin along with more standard elements. I had to run out to the store for a couple of these ingredients, and wasn’t able to find green olives that weren’t stuffed with something. Thankfully found a jar where the olives were stuffed with garlic and just cut a step (chopping garlic) out of the recipe.


My niece enjoyed the dish very much – love the blog anonymity!


Like any good homeschooling mama, I made them all find Cuba on the globe first and I put on a Pandora station called “Cuban Music”. Here they are being all exuberant about the great flavor combo:


And don’t worry sis: those blue corn chips were for the others :-)


Sweet Potato & Carrot Pancakes, Beet & Quinoa Tabouli

Lots of color here! A crazy running day, and feeling worse and worse before my iron infusions began. I corralled Clara to help in the kitchen. Apparently trying to wear the library’s copy of La Tartine Gourmande to shreds, I chose two more dishes. The sweet potato and carrot pancakes were similar to any zucchini pancake or potato pancake we’ve had, but were very sweet due to the nature of the vegetables. My niece was visiting, and I was thinking it would be a child-friendly-veg dish. It did not disappoint – well, not in the rate at which it disappeared, but they did fall apart quite badly no matter how we adjusted the heat. Still. We figured, “who cares, since they’re delicious?”


The quinoa tabouli was amazing, although frankly it looked a little bit like raw ground beef visually. The combination of earthy beets and feta cheese in this salad is brilliant. Again we substituted cashews for pinenuts; Clara pan-roasted them, and little cherry tomatoes are added for a pop of juicy.


Both excellent dishes. Definite make-agains.


Gluten Free Gnocchi with Truffled Pesto Sauce

I’d been wanting to try gnocchi for some time, but after my last disastrous attempt at a gluten free pasta inspired by a blog post, I was a wee reluctant. “One more try” I told myself. Thankfully this one was successful! This blogger had a post in which she made the truffle sauce with truffle oil, and used another blogger’s gnocchi recipe. Side note: does it irritate anyone else when the recipe says, “gluten free all-purpose flour” and doesn’t specify? Not every dish will work with whatever flour blend. And I’m going to continue that trend because I had a daughter make up a gluten free all purpose blend for MY gnocchi and not only do I not know what she used, I can’t even remember which daughter it was!

I have read that truffle oil doesn’t actually contain any truffle. It is a chemical concoction made to taste like truffles. So I opted instead to buy this truffle salt: Fusion Black Truffle Sea Salt from Amazon. Wow. That was amazing. I’m sprinkling it on everything since we made this dish, as the truffles will lose flavor potency after awhile, but gosh it elevates the mundane. Because Clara is allergic to pine nuts, we subbed cashews.

The gnocchi recipe called for fingerling potatoes, which weren’t in our markets yet, but Costco did have a bag of multicolored small potatoes. These get boiled briefly, then peeled and mashed:


After this, the eggs, GF flour, and parmesan are incorporated to make a dough. I found the hard way that it is imperative to have every little lump mashed.


When the dough is ready, long ropes are rolled


I love how the purple potatoes make these look like blueberry pasta!

The ropes are cut into small pillows, which are supposed to be indented with a fork, but I didn’t realize that, so mine are un-dented. They are then boiled briefly, plated, and sauced.


It was divine. Sophia actually cried. What I would like to do is get really fast at this. It was another 10 pm dinner, and I had Gareth and Clara helping me peel the tiny potatoes while Sophia made the fresh pesto. We all agreed it was worth every moment, and it seems simple enough with practice. Such good food!

Lemon Honey Chicken with Tomatoes & Haricot Verts

Why I don’t just buy a copy of La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life is a mystery at this point. I’m sure hogging a library copy, eh? This one was very good, too. Although it is going to look pretty simple on this webpage, the flavor combination was new to all of us and very, very good. A dish that sort of slowed the world down and took us somewhere else while we ate.

I couldn’t find haricot verts and so used regular beans, but they were quite fresh. The author called for zebra tomatoes, which were so not available here. But again, at least fresh ripe tomatoes are available at this time of year. I’ve got glorious oregano still in my herb bed, although sadly had to buy fresh parsley as that’s all gone.

The chicken is marinated first, just for 30 minutes, then the dish is oven-done. The combination of the beans and kalamata olives and herbs with the chicken was pretty outrageously good.

She does have a similar recipe on her blog if you’d like to try it. She doesn’t specify olives there – black kalamata olives were perfect, and you might like trying a tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley, as well. The blog version also is missing 3 minced garlic cloves! Quelle horreur!


Awaiting a starch:


Such a good book.


Chicken Breast Marinated in Herbs & Spices, Layered with Zucchini

My husband is quite – how shall we say – understated in his reaction to most food. He’ll gamely give it a try before he douses it in hot sauce. It used to hurt my feelings way back when, but that was so many years ago now; if he says, “It’s fine” I know that’s about par for the course.

Imagine my complete shock when he came home from work last week, having tried this dish via leftovers, and said, “What was that chicken? It was delicious”. I didn’t even know he knew that word! I about fell out of bed and asked him to repeat it, and he kind of went on (well, as close as he’ll ever get) about how delicious it was. And from an Italian cookbook. Like a miracle, that.

This one is from Marcella Cucina and actually calls for turkey breast, which would be nummy too, but chicken breast was what I had. Nigel had been given a ginormous zucchini from someone at work, so I put my visiting sister to work slicing that, and we both began assembling the dish. Clara ended up finishing the whole thing, however, when sister and I put on the chauffer hat to do a series of errands.


The real key to the success of this dish is the blend of herbs in the marinade, I think. It was very good and will be made again here for sure.


Ha. I Did it Again.


I’m officially using the green excuse button:

Lymphoma ribbon 

Yeah, it’s been rough actually. I’ve gone back on nausea meds, and fortunately the oncologist has ordered another round of IV iron transfusions. I’ll be posting a bunch of catch-up meals all in one day – these days I’m pretty proud of myself just getting dinner on the table!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Ceiling Needed Painting

Or at least, for me to finish off the paint job I’d started far too long ago. We have guests coming next week, always a good motivator! So I asked our chef emeritus to step in for me tonight, and she gently pointed out that the “Marcella Monday” recipe was supposed to marinade “for at least 24 hours” and that Wednesday’s dish might be a better choice. Oops.

So yes, tonight we had “Chicken and Cashew Nut Curry”, from Nigella Fresh again. Clara was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it went together. We do a LOT of curry here, always have, but we’ve always done the Jamaican style curries of the Patriarch and only recently have we played around a bit with curries from elsewhere. Tonight’s, I think, was more like Nigella-playing-in-the-kitchen, but it worked nicely. Clara dislikes cilantro (she says it smells like wet diapers!) and didn’t add it to hers, but the rest of us had cilantro along with our cashews, beans, and chicken. It was nice – fresh tasting, a pretty summery dish. Called out for fruit for dessert, which we did, although I also imagine a sorbet would be lovely.


Two dishes into it, I’m calling the style of this cookbook uncomplicated, fresh, summery food with novel enough ideas that they’re worth trying. I’m super glad to have found it at Goodwill the other day, and will be remaking this one when we’re in a rush.

Thank you to Clara for stepping in – the ceiling is finally finished !


Sunday, August 5, 2012

What was I Thinking Doing Salmon and Lime Again?

You’d think, when choosing new menu items, I would’ve remembered the recent lime-laden salmon debacle . . . but no, I was all, “Doesn’t that recipe look good?”

Good thing it was good. Not spectacular, but both solid and quick! I recently scored a couple of Nigella Lawson books at a thrift store, which was quite the exciting moment as I’ve never seen a Nigella in the wild ;-). This one I almost passed by. My edition is called “Forever Summer” but the US edition is this one: Nigella Fresh . Nothing grabbed my attention as I flipped through it. But then a quick look-up on the phone, and I noted the insight from an Amazon reviewer that Nigella’s books in general are carb-heavy, but that this one is more useable on a low carb diet. Hmmmm.

So this is her “Marinated Salmon with Capers and Gherkins”. Quick little marinade in lime, oil, salt, pepper. The salmon was supposed to be cut very thin and eaten raw, but we weren’t quite that brave. The Patriarch oh-so-carefully sliced the fish lovely thin:


Then kinda forgot to be delicate in the pan, so it broke up. OH well. The marinade was poured on the fish, then capers, sliced baby gherkins, and chives sprinkled on top. Nigella suggested pumpernickel bread as an accompaniment, which would’ve been good. Also a herb-y dill based bread would have been nice. We had some olive bread, so our gluten-eaters had that.
This went together really quickly! The capers and gherkins toned down the lime for us, which is kind of odd when you think about it.  


New Menu




Lost Week . . . a Reconstruct

So . . . wow. Last week the score was something like, lymphoma 7, Kimberly 0. I didn’t even get the menu up on the chalkboard, although it was jotted on our paper menu on the fridge.

Someone was cleaning the kitchen and tossed that paper menu in the recycling, too! But here’s what I remember, jogged by the pics from my camera:

When last I blogged, it was a Wild Card Wednesday, and a delicious one, too. Next up was a “Fennel-Flavored Squash Soup” and “Thyme-Roasted Chicken”. These were both from The Food and Flavors of Haute Provence by Georgeann Brennan. That was a very challenging day, and Nigel offered to make dinner. I took him up on it, so he did the chicken but not the soup. No picture even, but the recipe was just salting and peppering a whole chicken, rubbing with olive oil, and stuffing the cavity with fresh garden thyme before roasting. Very very simple, good for when one is directing a son in cooking. He made potatoes to go alongside, and we called it good.

Littlest guy had a birthday, so we skipped our regular “Sugar Saturday”. In fact, we skipped two of ‘em. I made him birthday cupcakes, but didn’t use our regular cupcake book and the whole thing was so hilariously bad. The idea was this: vanilla cupcakes, strawberry buttercream frosting, spider web on the top with a candle to blow out. He doesn’t actually have any safe/allowed foods to make a cake at all – this is just for the candle to blow out, then someone else eats the cake. Does that seem cruel? It’s actually their choice – the little girls have always wanted us to make cakes on their birthdays that they can’t eat. Well, the frosting sort of liquidified, the candle fell over into the “web”; yikes.


From the 30th of July through the 3rd of August . . . that’s a week I just vaguely remember. There aren’t pictures from Monday or Friday. I went back on Zofran for the nausea, and it makes me so loopy and forgetful! Thankfully I did get a couple of pictures from Wednesday, because it was good and also pretty easy.

The recipe was “Chicken Paprikás” from Staff Meals from Chanterelle . The recipe called for both hot and sweet paprika, and I only had sweet paprika. I think to have both would be yet more delicious. This recipe starts with caramelizing onions and garlic, then pan-browning a cut-up whole chicken, then cooking over time in paprika, tomato, spices, and adding sour cream in at the end.


Other than that . . . I don’t remember! I’m going to try to not lose a week again. But sometimes the lymphoma doesn’t play fair.