Sunday, January 16, 2011

January 15 - 20

I don't usually include weekend meals on this list (because, frankly, how much can one say about take-out pad thai?) but we had a lovely Saturday night dinner that we made ourselves, so I wanted to share. And also, the rest of the week's plan...

So, another fun Christmas present: A beeeeeautiful, white, solid, tough, KitchenAid stand mixer. I've coveted one from afar for so so long. We've used it three times now, twice for making pizza dough. And it makes very good pizza dough. I've been avoiding making my own dough since our breadmaker finally bit the dust -- I tried mixing it in the Cuisinart, but the consistency was never good. And I'm not a patient kneader. But I'm in love with this dough hook. The dough is easy, and only takes an hour to be ready to bake (which was WAY faster than the stuff the breadmaker would do):

About 2 1/4 tsp. yeast, mixed with a cup of warm water and stirred until it dissolves.
Add 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp olive oil, and 2 1/2 cups of flour (I mix white with whole wheat).
Mix in the mixer for about 5 minutes (speed 2), adjusting flour or water to get the consistency right. Put in a greased bowl, spray top of dough ball with cooking spray, and cover to let rise (about an hour). Flatten (I'm still trying to toss it in the air like pizza guys, but I'm afraid I'll drop it or rip it) and lay out on a baking stone. Top (we used pizza sauce, red onion, marinated red pepper, mushrooms, pesto chicken sausage, some leftover asparagus, mozzerella) and bake at 450 for 15 - 25 minutes.

Lamb shank and Cranberry bean soup (from Chez Panisse Cooking):

In olive oil, on low heat, slowly brown a lamb shank (ours is about a pound). The recipe says to cook it for 30 minutes, but it also calls for about two and a half pounds, so I think this whole meal will be more about "guessing" than "measuring".

Remove shank, pour off fat, then add some more olive oil to the pan and brown diced carrots, onions, and celery. (Again, measurements will be sort of random -- sorry, Alice Waters -- probably about 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1 celery stalk.)

In a little cheesecloth square that I'll tie into a bag, put about 1/4 cup of peeled garlic, 2 bay leaves, 2 sprigs parsley, some thyme, and tie up. Add it to the pot, along with a can of tomatoes, a tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and about 4 - 6 cups of water. Put the shank back in, and bring to a gentle boil, uncovered. The recipe says to let this cook for 2 hours. We'll see. Meanwhile, cook about a cup of shell beans (I'm using cranberry beans). When the lamb seems done, remove from pot, let cool, and remove meat. Turn the heat up on the soup to let it bubble gently for 15 minutes. Skim fat and orange-ish foam. Add meat back to the soup. Drain beans, add them to the soup.

Serve with a gremolata (mix chopped parsley, 1 very finely chopped garlic clove, and lemon zest) on top.

Got another new cookbook recently: The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen. We're trying some pasta from it tonight (though I can't promise the meal will stay vegan -- I imagine some grated Parmesan cheese might show up)...

Penne with Porcini Mushroom Sauce

Soak an ounce of dried mushrooms in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Chop the mushrooms after, but strain and keep the water.

Saute (in olive oil) a chopped onion, a bit of oregano, basil, and sage. Add 8 oz chopped fresh mushrooms, dried mushrooms, and 2 chopped cloves of garlic. Cook for a few minutes, then add the mushroom soaking liquid, a can of tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, a tiny pinch of sugar, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Put it all together!

I'm wanting grilled salmon. It might snow. So we'll grill, if the weather is okay, or probably broil, if it's too yucky.

Runner's World had a recipe for brussels sprouts that we'll try for a side: (2 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp grainy mustard, salt: whisk together, slice sprouts in half, toss with the sauce, roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes)

Beef stew (from the freezer: we froze leftovers in individual portions, so we'll use some of that today)

Potato-spinach soup (another Runner's World recipe -- lots of good stuff this month!)

Saute a chopped onion, add 4 c broth, a box of frozen spinach, a chopped potato, a teaspoon cumin, salt, and pepper. Simmer until potato is tender. Puree in a blender or with a stick blender. Add lemon juice and half a cup of plain Greek yogurt.

Have a good week! Stay warm!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

January 9 - 13

Phil is to thank for me keeping my cookbook-using resolution on week 2 of this attempt to cook more from cookbooks. Without his perusal, and finding of Sunday's dinner recipe, I'd be off the resolution train already! But he was looking through Scots Cooking, by Sue Lawrence -- I bought it during our second trip to Scotland -- and found this recipe:

Roast Venison with Raspberry Sauce
(The real recipe is for black currant sauce -- but it gets that flavor mainly from 3 teaspoons of black currant jelly, and I didn't want to spend eight dollars on a jar of jelly that I might not use unless we made this recipe again -- and my mom gave us some lovely homemade raspberry jam, so we're using that instead.)

Melt 2 oz butter and 2 tsp jam in a pan. Add the venison roast (about 3 lbs) and brown in the butter/jam mixture. Season with salt and pepper, then put it in the oven at 425 degrees. Cook between 12 - 15 minutes per pound (so 36 - 45 minutes, if you have a 3 pound roast) -- closer to the 12 minute side for rare, closer to the 15 minute side for medium-rare. Take it out, cover with foil, and let rest for about 20 minutes.

Pour off most of the fat from the pan, then put it on the stovetop. Add 3 tablespoons red wine, 2 tablespoons sweet vinegar (the recipe suggests black currant or raspberry vinegar, but I think we'll use balsamic) and scrape up all the bits from the pan and bring to a boil. Add a teaspoon of jam and about 10 oz of hot beef stock and some thyme and simmer until it's a nice consistency.

We'll have boiled little redskin potatoes and peas with this. And bread.

Breakfast for dinner:
Banana and peanut butter pancakes
Scrambled eggs

The halibut recipe from last Thursday -- we never had it. Both of us ended up having surprise meetings that night, so we pushed it back to this Tuesday.

Roasted cauliflower

Another copy from last week, but this one I actually tried:

I absolutely loved, loved, loved this. I used a sweet potato instead of a baking potato, and added some mushrooms and tomatoes to the spinach viniagrette saute, and it was fa-a-a-a-a-abulous. So I'm doing it again.

Pasta (probably whole grain fettucine) with artichokes, shrimp, spinach, and pesto: That's the basic recipe. Cook some pasta. In another pan, saute artichokes, shrimp, spinach. I'll probably add some onion, because I love onions. Some pesto at the end, when I add the pasta to the saute mixture. A little bit of the pasta water to help make a thick sauce, then simmer it all together in my big pan for a minute or so. Mmmmmmm.

Have a good week!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

After two weeks of flailing around, dinner-wise, it's time to get back to a bit of a plan. Not that a banana and some candy canes can't make a perfectly lovely dinner, but enough's enough. I got lots of fun cooking-y-type stuff for Christmas, and I'm sure I'll show some of it when I get around to it. But I've spent the morning with some cookbooks and cooking magazines, and I think I'm ready to be ambitious and plan again. And a New Year's resolution (I just came up with it about half an hour ago) I'll try this year is to actually cook from more of my cookbooks. I love to read them and dream, but when it comes to choosing actual recipes, I fall back on whatever cooking magazine just arrived, or I'll search back in this blog for an old recipe. So I'm trying to actually use some of my gorgeous cookbooks. We'll see how I do!

It's going to be a combination lazy/busy day -- we're staying close to home, but we plan to put away decorations, get ducks in a row before the big work week hits, etc. So easy dinner:

Vegetable and beef soup: I don't have a recipe for this, but this is what I'm thinking I'll do: Brown a beef soup bone. Remove it. Saute some sliced onion, garlic, carrot, celery, parsnip, mushrooms (not all at once, but add one at a time). Add the soup bone again. Add a can of stewed tomatoes, some water to cover everything over, and boil. After it boils, reduce it to a simmer and let it go. At some point, add some diced potatoes. A little while before it's done, add some frozen peas. I'll season along the way with salt and pepper, perhaps add a bay leaf. This might also need some red wine or Worcestershire sauce. Remove bone at the end, pull off any meat that's still attached to it, and stir it into soup.

We'll have salad and baguette with this.

This is from one of my lovely new Christmas gifts: Nigella Kitchen, by Nigella Lawson:

Sunshine Soup (Roast two yellow bell peppers in the oven with a bit of oil, set aside. Bring a quart of veggie broth to a boil, add about 3 1/2 cups of frozen corn, let simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove about 1 cup of the corn. Add peppers to pan, use stick blender to mix it all in, add cup of corn back to soup. Season with salt and pepper.)

Salad and bread too!

This is from an older cookbook, that I love to read but have been a bit intimidated by: Adventures of an Italian Food Lover by Faith Heller Willinger.

Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches: Grate some fontina cheese, mix with an egg yolk and some pepper. Spread the mixture on bread, top with a slice of ham, then other slice of bread. Brush bread with olive oil and grill.

Stewed peppers with balsamic vinegar: In a large pot, add a chopped onion, 2 chopped cloves of garlic, and a chopped carrot with some olive oil. Cook until onions are soft. Add 2 - 3 sliced red bell peppers, half a cup of tomato pulp (chopped, peeled and seeded tomato), a bit of parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for up to 20 minutes, adding some water if it gets dry. Put in a serving dish and cool for a bit. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.


Roasted cauliflower

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