31 May 2008

Rotini with Broccoli and Caciocavollo

I don't really know why I've been eating so much pasta lately, but I found that recipe that needed Caciocavollo cheese (for the last pasta photo - Fettuccine alle Noci) and bought it and now I've got a whole lump of that cheese to use up. It's a smoked cheese, so it's got a nice smoky tasty, and it's quite stringy and lovely when it gets all melty, like the perfect pizza cheese. (Hm, maybe pizza next?) I should have lifted up a fork-full of the pasta for the photo, so it wouldn't look just like pasta in white sauce instead of pasta with tons of stringy delicious cheese.

(The recipe came from here, though I used a fair bit less cheese than it asked for.)

I'm going to update this little blurb on Sunday when I'm home from work - just wanted to get this up before I leave. And I don't know that eating pasta twice in a week is "eating so much pasta lately" but I don't generally eat a lot of it, I don't think.

29 May 2008

Fettucine alle Noci

This is a Mario Batali recipe, which I found here. I didn't really change the recipe much, though I used less pasta, less oil, less red pepper flakes (1 tablespoon? really?) and probably less cheese. (Unintentionally on the cheese, I just couldn't find a big grater and got tired of using the palm sized one with tiny holes.)

I wish that I'd had fresh parsley to use in this because it's regrettably beige looking and some fresher looking green bits would have been welcome. I did use dried, but the bits of it are so small they almost disappear in the picture.

Actually, I find this a sort of messy picture, in the sense that you can't really distinguish one thing from another. I mean, the pasta looks like pasta and the green bits are obviously parsley, but it doesn't really look like walnuts and you can't really see the stringy melted cheese. The powdery white stuff is the bread crumbs you're instructed to sprinkle over at the end, but I think I could do without that taste-wise and appearance-wise.

I thought it tasted nice, but not so spectacular that I'd be likely to serve it to anyone else or even maybe to make it again.

27 May 2008

Spicy Peach Glazed Chicken with Roasted Rosemary Potatoes and Sautéed

Yet another dinner from Sandi Richard's The Dinner Fix. At some point I'll run out of things to cook from that book and you'll get to stop reading about it. On the whole, the book has been worth whatever I paid. (Which wasn't a lot, I don't think, though I can't really remember.) There are some things I don't like about the book: her sides are generally boring and rotate through three or four items and she relies a bit too heavily on certain condiments that I'm not likely to use again (and thus don't want to buy). But on the whole, worth it.

Anyway, this chicken dish was... simple. You dredge the chicken in herbed flour, then cook it in a touch of oil for 20 minutes (flipping at half time). Next coat it the peach glaze (made of peach jam, barbecue sauce, and soy sauce) before returning to the oven for a while. It was remarkably tasty, for something so simple. The peach added just a touch of sweetness, less than I was expecting really, and the barbecue sauce added a nice spicy flavour.

I do think I'll make this again sometime, though maybe I won't bother putting flour on the chicken, and maybe I'll barbecue it instead. Hmm.

The rest of my dinner was MY old standbys (her suggestions were plain rice and mixed peas and corn) - roasted potatoes with rosemary and sautéed broccoli with a bit of crushed red pepper for some heat.

25 May 2008

Cauliflower Leek and Chicken Soup with Rosemary-Parmesan Crackers

I made my own crackers today. And my own soup.

The soup - cauliflower, leek and chicken - was quite nice. Pleasantly oniony, with lots of cauliflower and chicken and a tiny hint of lemon. (I don't generally like lemon in chicken soup, but I cut down the amount the recipe asked for and liked it here.) This was the first time I'd used leeks, and I quite liked them, but I was annoyed to throw so much of them away. What's the sense in so much (inedible?) greenery?

The crackers were nice too, but the the texture was a little bit off. I think they had too much cheese and not enough flour, so they didn't get that sort of flaky texture. Or maybe I over-worked it. I don't know. (I don't think I did, since I barely did anything with it at all - just stirred it until it made a ball and then rolled it into logs, chilled it, sliced it and baked it.) Maybe I used the wrong sort of cheese. They were meant to have Asiago, but I had a nice Parmesan (can't spell it the proper way off-hand...) so I used that instead and maybe it was the wrong hardness or something. Anyway, they do still taste pretty good, even if they've got the wrong mouthfeel for a cracker.

I really hate that black bowl. It's actually my sister's but it's the only bowl we've got that's shallow enough for photographing soups when you want all the chunky bits to show up. (The rest of the bowls you mostly get to see broth and little hints of what's inside.) It always looks dirty in pictures, though, even when it's clean and it catches the light in all the worst ways and broth looks dirty with that black underneath it, rather than just like pale broth.

20 May 2008

Spicy Meatball Sandwich

By the time I had dinner cooked tonight, I wasn't terribly hungry anymore, but I dutifully ate my dinner anyway and it was very good, even though I wasn't very enthused about eating it. (I have issues about wasting food and didn't want to throw it away, though I do do that sometimes.)

The sauce on the meatballs wasn't meant to be a teriyaki sauce, but it sort of reminded me of one, and I think it would have been really tasty with some pineapple. It was made mostly of ketchup and sweet chili sauce, with some Worcestershire, mustard,... and some other things I can't recall. The meatballs themselves had celery seed in them, of which there was a bit too much for my taste, but would be easy to cut back on in the future. The red onion was really nice with the meatballs, but definitely some pineapple too, if I try this again.

This recipe was another from Sandi Richard's The Dinner Fix - I'm determined to try all the recipes from the book that I can stand. (So... eliminating most of the seafood, some of the big roast type dinners and a few that just look gross.) Most of what I plan to make this week will be from this book, and then I'll keep picking away at it after that - I've mainly got fish recipes left and fish is rarely a top choice for me when I'm thinking about what to cook.

(By the way... check out the new plate!)

Fettucine Carbonara

I cooked a couple of times while I was on holiday, but I kept forgetting to take pictures, so it's been a while since the last update. Mostly I just made barbecue. Actually, that's all I made. Barbecue sausages and barbecue burgers and barbecue... what my mom calls hobo packages and... I'm certain there were other things as well, but I can't think of what just now. It was barbecue weather all week, so that's all I did.

I've even done barbecue since I got home, but a barbecued sausage with barbecued corn and a bit of salad isn't really that interesting to look at. And so.

This is maybe not so interesting either - just a plate of pasta - but I'm pleased with myself for having made it, and it was quite delicious. This was another of the recipes from Sandi Richard's The Dinner Fix. It was, happily, quite easy to cut down to one serving and happily quite easy to make.

I very rarely cook bacon. It's not that I don't like the taste, though I often find it far too salty, but I just don't like it well enough to bother with it. And I always, always burn it. Except this time! One day when I was watching some show or other on the Food Network, the host suggested cooking lardons in a little bit of water so that you can cook them through without overcooking them. Probably there is some other way to manage crisping bacon without turning it to charcoal, but this worked for me.

My only real difficulty is that I turned the sauce a little too high for a little too long and I wound up with slightly scrambled egg in my sauce. But I don't think it's too noticeable in the picture.

Anyway, I don't do cream sauces all that often. Or pasta all that often. But I can see myself making this again someday.

12 May 2008

Lemon-Thyme Chicken with Lemony Grilled Vegetables

I'm over in Saskatchewan for a week visiting with friends and family, so I don't know how much cooking I'll be doing this week, but tonight I cooked for everyone. I was going to make a stew recipe I found online, but it was so nice outside today that I decided to barbecue instead. (Or grill, really.)

I didn't really have a recipe for either part of this meal, but it was easily enough to make something up. The chicken... I made a lemon-thyme butter, which I smeared under the skin and used to baste as I was cooking. (It was just lemon zest, thyme leaves, garlic, salt and pepper in the butter.) It didn't have quite a strong enough thyme taste, but it was really moist, tasty chicken. I think I'd definitely make that again.

And the vegetables... it was basically the same flavours, but the lemon was really the strongest taste. I had the vegetables on skewers, and drizzled over a dressing made of lemon juice, olive oil, crushed garlic, thyme leaves, salt and pepper. After they were grilled, I gave them another shot of lemon juice just to perk the flavour up a bit.

So good.

07 May 2008

Fennel Chicken Pilaf

This is my take on this recipe. I didn't change anything ingredient-wise (except to use chicken breasts), but I cooked it entirely on the stove top (because there was cleaner in the oven), shortened the cooking time and only made half. Half was still enough to serve probably 3-4 people. (And I used chives as a garnish because I have them and might as well use them.)

This was pleasant tasting - there is a tiny hint of that fennel licorice taste, but mostly only when you bite through one of the seeds - but not quite interesting enough to move beyond pleasant. I think it could stand to have something else added to perk it up a bit, though I'm not quite sure what. I don't know what tastes go well with fennel seed, but I felt like it could have used something a little bit spicy.

Drop a note if you've got any suggestions. I don't know if I'd make this again, but I like the idea of it enough (and the execution - it was quite easy) that if I could make it into something a little more to my taste, then I'd probably keep picking at the recipe until I could be happier with it.

05 May 2008

Topless Steak Sandwich with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions

Okay, it's just that I burned the top because I wasn't paying attention. (I ate it with the top anyway, but it looked bad in the picture. It was over-toasted not charcoal.)

A take on a Rachel Ray recipe. But with less of everything but the mushrooms (which I added) and some improvisation. (She really, really has the hugest meals ever. It must take a lot of calories to run that personality, but seriously. This sandwich twice over would be one of hers.)

The long version of tonight's dinner is that originally I was going to make beef barley soup with mushrooms. And then I didn't feel like soup, so I was going to make a stir-fry because the ingredients are pretty much the same, just with rice instead of barley, and less cooking liquid. (And more soy sauce. And different spices. And al dente vegetables.) But then I didn't feel like making a stir-fry, so I had to find something different, and I found a recipe for a steak sandwich in the one RR cookbook I own, 365: No Repeats.

It's a little bit spicy, with lots of hot sauce and peppercorn grill spice on the meat, and the onions are a little bit sweet and the mushrooms I just added because they would go bad if I left them in the fridge much longer and I don't think you can really go wrong with mushrooms and steak. And then crunchy toasted bread and melty cheese, which is always good, though I wish I'd had something with a bit stronger of a flavour. (A cheese with peppercorns would have been really good. Or Guinness cheddar.) I think strips of roasted red pepper would be really good, too, if I make this again. Oh, and maybe a spicy mustard. Hm.


02 May 2008

Baked Pork with Piquant Sauce

The pork and sauce is a recipe I found Gordon Ramsay's new cookbook Fast Food, which contains a number of recipes from his show The F Word (which is one of my favourite cooking shows, and is probably the only one of Ramsay's NOT shown on the Food Network in Canada). So I have two recommendations here before I even get to the food.

The first is the tv show. (I downloaded it. Sorry Channel4 - sell the show to the Food Network Canada and I wouldn't have to go about watching it that way.) There are three seasons so far, and each has followed the same basic pattern. The restaurant, The F Word, serves one three course meal per week that anyone could cook at home, usually cooked by an amateur brigade of cooks. Most of the episodes have either a little blurb from someone else about unusual food items (horse milk, for instance) or about outrageous food related things (an example: the amount of meat in sausages, and what counts as meat). I'm not quite sure why it's so compelling to me, but it really is. (Even without his usual vitriol, though that's present as well.) I hope another season is out soon, because I do enjoy it a lot.

The cookbook is both a hit and a miss. It's quite beautiful, full of a lot of pictures and meals that look and sound amazing. Everything looks quite easy to make, which is part of the point, and is probably the only thing that got me to buy the book instead of just flipping through it. (Nothing worse than buying a cookbook and discovering you'll never use it because you just know you'll never be deep-frying poached eggs or whatever.)

The miss... I live in Canada, not Britain, and it's remarkable how different the common foods are. There are so many things I either won't be able to make or would have to start substituting ingredients for. Another miss (for me) is that there are so many fish/seafood recipes. I'm willing to try the fish recipes, if I can find the types of fish he requests, but there is a lot I've never heard of or seen here. (Porgy, hake,...) And finally... a few of the recipes are a little bit... lame. Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, for example, which seems a bit too standard to be worth including.

At any rate, this pork dish was really delicious. The sauce - made of mushrooms, red pepper, onion, hot pepper, and canned diced tomato - was really fantastic and went well with the pork, which was fairly plain. (Salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary on top, with a bit of olive oil.)

The broccoli is just steamed, so a bit boring but I wish I'd bought more because it was so good that I want to eat it again tomorrow. (But sautéed, maybe, with some red pepper flakes.) The rice came from a local curry restaurant and it tastes amazing and I wish I could figure out exactly how to make it for myself. (It's got fennel seeds in it, I can tell that much, but otherwise, I don't know.) Indian rice probably wasn't the best match for this, but the fennel, at least, was quite nice with the sauce, so it wasn't as bad a combination as it might have been. (Mostly I just didn't want to cook my own, and my brother in law happened to be ordering butter chicken, so I had him pick up rice as well.)

Anyway, I'm fairly certain I'll make this again. It made far too much food, but there are leftovers for tomorrow, so I'm happy about that.