27 June 2008

Stewed Lima Beans with Tomatoes on Brown Rice

I'm very in love with Lima beans right now - they're so tasty! The flavour is fantastic and I love the texture and they're just delicious. This looks a bit unappetizing (so says my brother in law), but it was really very good.

The slight bitterness of the Lima beans sits really nicely against the sweet tomatoes and the licorice-hint of fennel seeds. I stirred it up with the brown rice and it was a big ugly mess of great tasting good.

22 June 2008

Sticky Lemon Chicken with Champ

So this - the sticky lemon chicken and the champ - comes from a Gordon Ramsay cookbook, Fast Food. I've made a couple things from this book and it's all been good, which makes me happy. The chicken wasn't terribly lemony, it tasted a bit more of sweet soy sauce, but it was still quite delicious. I think if (or when) I make it again, I'll use less soy sauce and add some extra lemon juice or lemon zest to add some more lemon flavour to the dish.

The champ - mashed potatoes with green onions - was pretty tasty too. I'm not really a big fan of mashed potatoes, but they're a favourite with the other two people at my house, so I made it and I'm happy I did because it was good, even if I wouldn't want to eat it once a week or anything.

I meant to make grilled asparagus to serve with this, but I sort of ran out of time because I didn't think to prep it before I got half way into making everything else. So my brother in law made some extra garlicky Caesar salad and I thawed some frozen peas to have alongside.

I said in the blurb on flickr that I'm so full I could puke, which is nearly true, even though I didn't eat everything from the picture. One of the things I need to learn with photography is how to better plate foods so that I wouldn't feel like I have to fill up the whole plate just so that it shows well. (I don't like when there are weird gaps of plate showing through. For instance, I had to pour extra peas into the middle so that there wasn't a big red space between the chicken and the salad.) Sometimes I'll kind of plate everything to one edge of the plate and then crop out as much of the excess as I can, but if I do that, it seems really dependant on the angle, so that I don't wind up having to crop out bits that I like, which are surrounded by too much empty plate.

I guess I could just take pictures like some people that are focused really closely on one element or another, but I don't know the settings on my camera well enough to fiddle around with that, and have mostly chicken showing with just a slight blur of green and white vegetables behind it. Or whatever. Hm.

Tagliatelle with Walnut and Sage Browned Butter

Okay, so I'm determined to get myself caught up, and this will do it, until I cook something new for dinner tonight. This was last night's dinner - something quick and easy before going to work. And really delicious.

The recipe for this, which came from Jack Bishop's A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen, says that it's very rich, and best served with a big salad to balance the richness, but I used Quark rather than Marscapone (for the dollop of white stuff, which I stirred in once the photo was taken), and I think that kept it from being too rich. It was just lovely. (And even with a bit less than one serving, I was too full to eat a salad alongside.)

I think I maybe didn't let the butter brown long enough, because it wasn't a very present taste, but it's possible that the tanginess of the quark covered up some of the flavour. At any rate, tangy Quark notwithstanding, the pasta had a really delicate and light flavour. The sage wasn't too overwhelming, which was the one thing I'd worried about, and the toasted walnuts were fantastic. (I'm not a particular fan of walnuts, as I don't like the texture.)

Spinach-stuffed Steak with Barley Pilaf

I was convinced that I'd posted a photo of this at some point in the past - this is the second time I've made it - but I can't find any entry for it, so I suppose I made it before I started this blog. At any rate, I think this photo is a much better one, since I so badly overcooked the steak the last time that it kind of looked like and had the mouthfeel of shoe leather. I kind of rolled it up the last time, though, and it looked prettier cut than this did.

At any rate, this is just a butterflied piece of some sort of steak, stuffed with sautéed spinach and onion, with a lot of spices, and then put in the oven until cooked through. I don't insist on having well-done steak anymore (I used to; I have a thing about raw and raw-ish meat), but this one was, and it was just perfect, not dry at all.

The barley... I call a pilaf, just because I don't know what else to call it. It's really just cooked barley with some herbs and onion. Barley makes a nice alternative to rice, sometimes. It's got a bit more of a bite to it, like al dente pasta, but the same sort of neutral flavour that makes a good backdrop to pretty much anything.

21 June 2008

Caciocavollo-stuffed Burger with Peas and Fries

I'm quite a few days behind in updating because I keep taking pictures and then think they're not worth the bother of posting. I'm not really sure about this one, but here it is anyway.

This is supposed to be an Italian burger, made with ground beef and Italian sausage and served with tomato sauce and melted cheese on top, but I got distracted and stuffed it with cheese instead and forgot about the tomato sauce, which is still in the fridge, and couldn't be bothered to buy fresh sausage, since I only needed a couple ounces rather than a whole package. And yes.

It was still pretty tasty, even without all the extras.

16 June 2008

Cavatappi with Lemon Quark and Lima Beans

This probably isn't the best looking dinner I've ever made, but it tasted far too good for me to care. It's the best thing I've had to eat in ages (except for the other best things I've had recently, but).

This is a variation on a recipe from Jack Bishop's A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen. His version is fava beans with lemon ricotta and rigatoni. But let's face it: no way am I going to shell fava beans (assuming I ever see them anywhere, though if they're the same as broad beans I have seen them at the market) and cavatappi is my favourite pasta shape, really. And I had quark in the fridge and don't particularly care for ricotta. (It's the mouthfeel. It bothers me.)

The quark mixture is just quark with cut up butter, lemon zest, salt and pepper in it. Once the pasta is cooked, you put the hot pasta into a bowl with the quark, and stir it around to coat. Then you add the (cooked) lima beans, check for seasoning, adjust to taste, and eat. So, so good.

The pile of spinach is basically just a pile of spinach, but it's also got a bit of lemon juice, some salt, and a drizzle of olive oil on it. So it's not quite so boring as it looks.

12 June 2008

Cinnamon-Lemon Pork with Stuffed Pimento and Spanish Rice

I made Spanish food today, from my Tapas cookbook, though I kind of changed it up a bit so it's not so much tapas as it would have been. (And also, I made rice from a packet. Also not really part of the tapas family, I don't think.)

The pork chop was meant to be the a nicer sounding "Miniature Pork Brochettes" but I couldn't see the sense in cubing it and putting it on skewers when I was only doing it for myself. It worked as well, I imagine, leaving it in one piece, anyway. And tasted as good.

I had to make my own Ras El-hanut, which is the spice blend used on these, as I couldn't find it at any of the local stores (I need to find a Middle Eastern store somewhere, I guess). The ingredients for a proper ras el-hanut are as hard to find as the pre-made blend - it's meant to have rosebuds, lavender, galangal, nigella, cassia, and a whole host of other things I CAN find in a regular grocery store - so I used (again) an easy recipe that I found online some time ago. The flavour of the cinnamon is what stands out most in that variation, and it tasted really nice with the lemon juice that makes up the bulk of the liquid in the marinade.

Apparently the recipe is Arab in origin, and so this would generally be done on lamb, rather than pork (outside of Spain, anyway), and if I weren't scared of cooking lamb, I'd try that some time in the future. (I've got a terror of ruining lamb, since it's so expensive.)

The stuffed pimento was... amazingly good. I used quark for the cheese in the stuffing, since the recipe only asked for a 'curd cheese' and I wasn't really sure what to use. I think a ricotta would probably work as well, but I don't like the texture of ricotta, so I decided to try out quark instead. This particular quark, which is made in Canada, was a lot healthier than ricotta, anyway, and didn't have a grainy texture and was thicker than low-fat ricotta, so I'm glad I decided to try it out. The quark was flavoured with a bit of lemon juice, salt and pepper, garlic, and diced mint and parsley.

At any rate, I liked all of this a lot, so I'm definitely keeping the recipes in mind for the future. (I could take or leave the rice, but that's generally how I feel about rice from a package anyway.) Definitely food I'd cook for someone else, if I were ever cooking for more than just me and my sister/bro-in-law. (Who don't like peppers anyway.)

11 June 2008

Turkey-stuffed Tomatoes with Broccolini

I've been sitting here watching the cursor blinking for the last five minutes while I tried to think of what to say, but I've got nothing.

It tasted good. Really, this is just a turkey burger cooked inside a tomato, served alongside some spicy sweet broccolini.

I wish I'd scraped some of the fatty bits off before I took the photos, rather than after. I didn't even really notice them until I went to eat, but they look as gross in a picture as in real life. Ah well, at least it tasted good, even if it doesn't look so great.

Earlier today I made banana muffins. I was going to make banana bread, but I wanted chocolate in it, and my sister doesn't like chocolate, so I ended up splitting the batter more or less in half and doing the muffin thing instead. They're a tiny bit dry, but I think I probably overcooked them a little. (I had to guess at the amount of time they'd need to cook.)

I used to work in a bakery and made many many banana loaves while I was there. It was quite strange to be working with 2 bananas, rather than 20 pounds of bananas. The recipe I usually used was for 12 pounds of nearly everything - sugar, flour, bananas (but it took close to 20 because of the weight of the skins) - and made something like 35 or 36 loaves.

Braised Beef with Tomato Gravy and Vegetables

We cooked family dinner again last Sunday, I've just been lazy about getting the photo up.

My sister had the difficult job of heating the frozen vegetables, my brother in law made the mashed potatoes, and I made the roast, which was not roasted, but braised. The braising liquid is actually the same as I use in my beef and mushroom stew.

08 June 2008

Pork with Balsamic-Basil Macerated Strawberries, Parmesan Risotto and Tomato with Caciocavollo

This photo is a few days old now, as I made this dinner on Thursday, but it was a busy weekend, so I haven't really had time to update. I need to now though because I have something new from today to update with, though I haven't edited the photo yet, and I plan to make something new tomorrow, so that'll be another update, if I manage to get it all done.

So this. This is a pork dish that sounded so interesting to me the first time I saw the recipe. It's a Rachael Ray recipe that she calls Columbus's Chops or something along those lines because the recipe is a take on a recipe that goes back to the 1400s.

Like all Rachael Ray's foods, it was quick and easy to make - the sliced strawberries sit in a balsamic vinegar bath with some torn up basil while you cook the pork, and then you mound them on top of the meat and eat. Easy as anything. It tasted really wonderful as well - I wasn't totally sold on the idea of strawberries on pork, but pork does really well with other fruits, so it's not surprising really that strawberries work as well. And then, too, the balsamic vinegar somehow pulls out the most amazing sweetness from the berries. It's like eating a whole different sort of fruit.

The risotto, I'm only minorly ashamed to admit, came from a box. Lundberg has a couple 25 minute risottos and this is my favourite of the two I've tried. It's probably a bit heavy go with something as delicate and lovely as the strawberries and pork, but I didn't have any other white rice, so I made it anyway.

And finally, the tomatoes and cheese. Another very simple side dish - just sliced tomatoes with a little salt on them, layered with sliced smoked Caciocavollo cheese, then topped with fresh grated black pepper and a quick drizzle of olive oil. The cheese is amazing with just a hint of pepper and oil.

02 June 2008

Balsamic-glazed Pork Chops with Vegetable Pilaf

Okay, this could have been a really gorgeous dinner, but then I made a kindersuprise-coloured pilaf (instead of the much lovelier sounding "Argula-Basil Pilaf" the pork recipe suggested), over-reduced my glaze to almost a paste, and served it with some... rustic sliced vegetables instead of... I don't know, piling it up 3 inches tall, pork atop rice with spears of asparagus fanned out behind it.

Tasted good, though.

The pilaf is just a lot of cut-up vegetables that I needed to use - red pepper, a single lonely carrot, some red onion I didn't want to toss out, and peas from the freezer - cooked in with the rice. It was impossibly easy and very tasty, if a bit low brow with its bright colours. And of course the cucumber and tomato is my favourite vegetable side.

The pork recipe was remarkably simple, and quick, but I shouldn't be surprised by that since the recipe came from a Rachael Ray cookbook. I did over-reduce my glaze, but it tasted wonderful, even with dried herbs in place of fresh and the cheapest of balsamic vinegars (sorry, I just can't afford any... $80/100ml vinegar). Probably the tastiness was due in large part to the dab of butter you add at the end. It was all shiny and sticky and lovely and worth making again in the future.

This, by the way, is my 175th entry here. Which is a little scary to think of, somehow, that what started as a way to kind of trade photos with a friend has turned into something this big. (Not big in the blogosphere, just in my life, but I enjoy it, anyway.)

01 June 2008

I didn't cook this: Spicy Grilled Chicken

My brother in law cooked most of dinner tonight - spicy barbecue chicken (which is grilled, not bbq'd I know) and bbq baked potatoes. I haven't really got much to say about either, except that they were really delicious, even though I peeled all the (flavourful) skin off my chicken.

I did cook some of this: the vegetables were my contribution to dinner, but I think I've shown these before, not too long ago. It's just skewered red pepper, mushrooms, zucchini and tomatoes, with lemon juice, olive oil, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Easy, but really good. (I think anyway. I don't know if anyone else liked it so much, other than the mushrooms.)

I can't remember if I've photographed anything on these plates before, but they do make a sort of... busy background for a photo.