Monday, April 28, 2008

Another cookbook - The Flexitarian Table

This is the cookbook of the month on Chowhound for May. I looked at it at Borders and despite the sort of lame title, I really love the concept so I picked it up. Basically the premise is that you can prepare a nice seasonal meal that will satisfy both meat eaters and vegetarians or even vegans at the same time. Many of the menus have one sauce or preparation style that can be used with 2 different proteins, meat or not meat. There are also some nice sounding all vegetarian meals. Those of you who know my family must be thinking, "Yeah, right, they don't eat tofu & stuff". But, yes we do! I am still not too sure about tempeh & seitan, or some of the more exotic grain dishes, but I may have to give them a try after some early results with this book.
The first thing I tried, after reading several posts about the dish on Chowhound, was the Tofu with Lemon/Soy/White Wine & Butter Sauce & the Striped Bass with Lemon/White Wine & Butter Sauce. I made these on 2 nights in the same week since it is just the 3 of us, and served both with white rice. The tofu was served with stir fried vegetables, the fish with steamed green beans. The quinoa recipe in the menu suggestion will be tried later, I need to stock up on my exotic grains, hehe.

The verdict in both cases was "wow" from both the husband and the 9 year old, so I will definitely be making these again. In both cases the sauces were light but very flavorful, great to scoop on top of the steamed jasmine rice. I actually used halibut instead of the striped bass for the fish recipe, and used extra firm tofu instead of firm.
Stay tuned for more from this book as I explore it!

Quick Pork Medallions

Pork tenderloin is a staple here. I usually pick one up at Trader Joe's once or twice a month. Here's something new, from Gourmet 2007, crispy pork medallions with creamy caper sauce. It's here on Epicurious.
Slice the tenderloin into nice thick medallions, flour/egg/breadcrumb them
, then fry until golden. Finish off in a 350 oven until cooked through. Serve with a very yummy caper sauce - yogurt (I used the thick Greek kind), mayo, capers, parsley and pepper. We had the leftovers of the sauce as an alternative to aioli the next night with lamb. Definitely "a keeper".

Crusty Bread Revisited

Using this method, I made this great loaf pictured here. It is adapted from "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day", which is about to be added to my wish list - what a great loaf! The dough definitely improves over a few days in the fridge.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I did it again.

Quite a bit of buzz around Peter Berley's The Flexitarian Table. It is in line for cookbook of the month, and there are some promising sounding things in it. Now, I love meat and bacon and all that, but we also do enjoy tofu (we had fresh silken tofu custard in Japan, oh wow) so I thought this might be an interesting book. I picked it up at Borders and could not resist, so there will be some upcoming adventures with this book, first up will likely be tofu cooked with butter, garlic & wine. Stay tuned!

A nice spin on Jambalaya

We like jambalaya. Spicy sausage, rice, veggies, hot sauce to taste - what's not to love in a quick weeknight meal. We have even been known to use Zatarain's packaged version. I clipped this recipe from the March Food & Wine, and gave it a whirl. Chicken andouille,

, the usual holy trinity plus some garlic

, chicken stock & water, plus jasmine rice.

After it all simmers, stir in about 1/2 lb of crabmeat and let warm. Served with hot sauce on the side and a Caesar salad, all we were missing was some Abita beer (we had Spaten instead).

Easy and good!

Dinner & Dessert

I made this nice ham steak with bourbon sauce from Epicurious last week. The first time I did it I flamed the bourbon - the flame shot up to nearly the ceiling! This time I just reduced it in the pan instead. I couldn't tell the difference (except the fact that the cat did not run full speed out of the kitchen this time), so don't flame it unless you are brave. The best part of this dinner though was the dessert - roasted banana ice cream from The Perfect Scoop (see my previous post). Bananas are roasted with brown sugar and butter, then blended with sugar, milk, vanilla & lemon juice. Chilled and run through the ice cream maker, super easy - no custard to worry about. I almost forgot to take a picture - it tastes like creamy banana bread.
Next up hopefully fresh strawberry-sour cream ice cream with super local berries!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I baked! A dessert even!

I made this Chocolate Macadamia Nut Tart from Food & Wine. It was very easy, but for some reason never really "set" for me. It tasted good but didn't come out of the dish in nice slices. Instead it was more like pudding. It tasted great though, so I had no complaints. I just wanted it to be prettier on the plates.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Something new.. yes a cookbook

I couldn't really pass up 40% off at Borders, and since I have a little stack of yet unread books that I have been very slowly working on (I am missing my hourlong train commute for just this reason!), I figured I would buy a cookbook. Yes, I know I already have too many, but I don't have one that is ALL ABOUT ICE CREAM!!

I have already found about 10 to try to make in my Cuisinart ice cream maker. Tiramisu...tin roof...creme fraiche...roquefort honey... I may have to spring for the extra freezing bowl!

David Lebovitz, the writer of this book, also has a very entertaining blog that he writes from Paris.

I am looking forward to warmer weather so that I can start making lots of ice cream.

A night at home for a change....

After what seems like a long time, we finally had a night at home - no baseball practice, no game, no dinner plans or company. After Friday night's pretty "meh" and unphotogenic chicken thighs in soy sauce & rice vinegar (adapted from Bittman's "How To Cook Everything") and a very busy weekend at the little league game followed by carne asada and the Chivas USA home opener, I made a nice bistro style dinner - Pork chops a la charcutiere from Bourdain's Les Halles book, green beans, and the worlds best roasted potatoes (roasted in duck fat!!) from the March 2005 issue of BBC Good Food. Brought that one back from a trip to England and always use that method for potatoes. I really think that this time is the first time that the sauce has been really "right". Although he calls for a really strong dark chicken stock, I just used my standard home-made stock just reduced down a bit. I haven't yet gotten as particular as to make a white or dark chicken stock, and am still on the quest for veal bones, so just have regular stocks (chicken & beef) in the freezer. The 9 year old cleaned his plate, who would have thought that pork chops and little pickles (cornichons) would work so well!! Also want to add that a Zaca Mesa syrah picked up at Costco went well with this. We are also members of their wine shipment club, they do some great Rhone stuff especially Roussanne.