Monday, September 27, 2010

2010.09.23 - Roast Pork with Raspberry Sauce, Leeks, Savory Monkey Bread

This meal used up the last of the raspberries that I picked this summer that I had in my freezer.  I guess I'm in for a long raspberry-less winter! 

Roast Pork with Raspberry Sauce

The pork was fairly good, if a little bland.  I used Penzeys' "Sandwich Sprinkle" blend instead of ground sage.  Next time I would figure out a way to make this in the crockpot.  The raspberry sauce was delicious, although I would use a bit less sugar next time.

Leeks Vinaigrette

I hate mustard, but can generally tolerate some dijon in vinaigrettes.  This was one of those situations -- the dressing for the leeks was good.  Next time I would cut off the leek roots after cooking - it would make it easier to eat and serve.  A had some texture issues with this, but J really liked it.

Savory Monkey Bread

As soon as I saw this recipe, I had to make it.  I have fond memories of making traditional monkey bread in home ec class in the 7th grade.  I had several issues with this recipe, although the end result turned out very good.  I prefer bread recipes that give a lot more instruction about why you are doing each rest, what the dough volume should do during each rest, and more clues about the expected texture in each part of the process.  I particularly don't like bread recipes that don't give an exact temperature for heated liquids when you are dealing with yeast.  I muddled through the best I could and thought it would be a complete disaster given how sticky my dough seemed (I added about an extra half cup of flour in with the whole wheat flour addition and the dough still wouldn't form a smooth ball), but it was a much better consistency after the second rise.  The process of covering each dough ball in the herb butter mixture was very messy.  In the future, I think I would make this more like traditional monkey bread where you cover the balls in dry seasonings and then just pour melted butter over the top.  I think I would also use the dough recipe from no knead pull apart bread instead.

2010.09.16 - Syrian Meatballs, Homemade Pita, Cucumber Salad, Honeydew Sorbet

Another project when you have a lot of free time is making your own pita bread.  My pitas turned out great, and the fillings equally so!  The meal was topped off with a refreshing dessert.

Syrian Meatballs with Parsley Dip

I read about Syrian beef kebabs in "The Butcher and the Vegetarian" and figured if they were the favorite meat recipe of a former vegetarian, then I should try them out!  I don't have a grill or metal kebab skewers, so I decided to make them into meatballs and bake them in the oven at 350 for 18-20 minutes.  I bet they would taste even better on the grill, but they were still very good.  A very unique flavor - I don't often have cinnamon and allspice with my meat!  I made these with beef for the dinner, and again with turkey a few days later -- the turkey ones were equally good so I'd stick with the healthier ground meat in the future.  I had an overgrowth of parsley on my balcony, so I searched for recipes that would use up a lot of it - this yogurt-based sauce did the trick. 

Pita bread and gluten free pita bread 

Making homemade pitas was time consuming but worth it!  The gluten ones puffed up amazingly well for the most part and were very delicious.  The gf ones did not pop up as well, but J took the leftovers home and reported that they puffed up a lot when she heated them up again.  The gf ones tasted more like whole wheat pitas because of the flours used -- I thought they were ok.  I think I may just not like sorghum flour.  Both kinds of pita made ample pockets or wraps for the delicious fillings.

Lemony Cucumber Salad

This was a simple romaine, cucumber, lemon vinaigrette salad that added crunch and lightness to the meatball pita sandwiches.

Honeydew Sorbet

This sorbet was easy to make and very refreshing.  It took about 15 minutes in the ice cream maker before it started to come together and really look like sorbet (trust me, I was very worried). 

2010.09.09 - Lemon Chicken, Vegetable Tian, Profiteroles

I found a copy of Ina Garten's "Barefoot in Paris" at the used bookstore, so decided to have another meal entirely out of one of her cookbooks.

Lemon Chicken with Croutons

I thought this chicken was good, but not lemony enough.  I used split chicken breast instead of a whole chicken because that's what I had on hand.  I used Udi's gluten free white sandwich bread for the croutons, and they turned out pretty good.

Vegetable Tian

This was very good day of, but I got really tired of the leftovers the next day -- not sure why. 

Profiteroles with gluten free pate a choux, creme fraiche ice cream

I used Ina's chocolate ganache recipe, but made a gf pate a choux for the cream puffs and filled them with Snoqualmie Gourmet's creme fraiche ice cream (very good).  The gf cream puffs tasted good, but the texture was nothing like non-gf pate a choux I've made before.  They didn't puff up as much and weren't as crispy.

2010.08.26 - An ambitious menu, including Dr. Pepper Ribs

Being unemployed provides a lot more free time to cook.  I took full advantage of this with a very time consuming and ultimately delicious menu. 

Country Ribs with Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce

I had my eye on this recipe for a while, and when country ribs went on sale, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try them out.  I did them in the oven because I do not have a grill (side note: how many continuous hours of cooking would a propane grill actually work -- 5-7 hours on a grill seems insane).  I even broke one of my cardinal rules and left the house while the oven was on because they had to cook for so long!  The ribs turned out to be fall off the bone tender, fairly well shellacked with the sauce, and delicious.  The Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce was very good.

Nectarine and Tomato Salad

This salad was supposed to use peaches, but my produce provider was all out so I used nectarines.  It was good, but watery.

Lemony Potato Salad

I used greek yogurt instead of mayo, per usual.  I like the flavor of this potato salad a lot.  That salad is supposed to accompany sweet tea ribs, which is on my list to make someday!

Gluten Free Berry Cake

This cake was delicious!  I used frozen berries I had picked myself.  The batter ended up making a nice crispy, sugary crust.  Definitely serve with whipped cream.

Mint and Lime Iced Tea

This was delicious.  After reading the comments, I used only 1 cup of sugar instead of 1.5 and that was definitely for the best - I may use only a half cup in the future. 

Watermelon Lemonade

This was pretty good, but I liked the iced tea better.  I was too lazy to strain the watermelon puree, so it was a little grainy for a drink.

2010.08.19 - BLTs, Pea Soup, FroYo

Ina Garten (the "Barefoot Contessa") is one of my favorite sources of recipes.  All of her recipes feed a crowd and always work every time.  I am also envious of her amazing house in the Hamptons :)  I bought myself the "Barefoot Contessa at Home" cookbook and wanted to make an entire meal out of it. 

California BLTs with Honey White Bread

I thought the bread was lacking a little something - maybe salt.  It wasn't as light and airy as I was hoping, and I didn't taste the sweetness from the honey at all.  It was serviceable, but nothing more.

I don't like avocados, but wanted to give them another try.  After making these sandwiches, I have confirmed I don't like them.  Texture issues :)  I prepared both regular and turkey bacon -- I wasn't a fan of the turkey bacon that night, but the next day I made some more and cooked the strips to be crispier and it was much better.  Turkey bacon lesson learned -- make sure it is REALLY done.

Pea Soup (served cold)

I used frozen peas because where in the world do you find fresh peas to buy?  I actually ended up preferring this soup warm instead of cold.  I thought it was ok, others seemed to like it more than I did.

Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

This was a pretty poor excuse for frozen yogurt -- a very chalky texture.  Maybe it's the brand of yogurt I used?

2010.08.12 - Breakfast for Dinner

Every couple months, I like to do breakfast for dinner.  I still don't think I've come across a perfect combination -- I haven't gotten down the secrets for making pancakes or eggs for a crowd without being in the kitchen the whole time.  The hunt continues for the perfect menu when you want your breakfast food after work instead of before.

Oven Scrambled Eggs

I hated these eggs.  I don't know if I overcooked them or what, but I thought they were rubbery and not seasoned well.  I wouldn't make eggs this way again.

Creme Brulee French Toast with gluten free challah and raspberry curd

This is a fun idea that I thought turned out really well.  Once again, I thought the gf bread tasted a little off.  However, I love challah bread so much (and have made an excellent homemade one from the Macrina Bakery cookbook) that I'm not sure a gf version can compare.  Again, the quest continues.  The raspberry curd was amazing and I would eat it by the spoonful if socially acceptable (I may have done this after my guests left, no one will ever know!)

2010.08.05 - Chicken, Tomato and Corn Pie, Smores

The tomato and corn pie was a revelation.  We couldn't get enough of it!

Honey Lime Roast Chicken

There was nothing really special about this chicken.  I couldn't really taste the honey or lime.  I always forget that I prefer marinated chickens because I don't eat the skin so flavors that are just basted get lost with the skin when eating! 

Tomato and Corn Pie

So, so, so, so good.  I subbed greek yogurt for the mayo and it turned out fine.  The biscuit-like pie crust was delicious and I want to use it in a lot more things!  Tomatoes and corn are my favorite summer produce, and they were delicious together.  It was a little more time consuming than I would like for an everyday meal, but it is totally and completely worth the work and I should have made this many more times this summer :(

Oven Baked Smores

The only way to go when you don't have a fire at your house :)

2010.07.29 - Pulled Pork, Corn, a Summery Salad

Pulled pork is always an extreme crowd favorite.  It is one of the few foods that A can't control himself when eating!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

This is my go-to pulled pork recipe.  Few things are easier and it is always delicious.   

Caramelized Corn with Mint

No matter how many times I do it, I always marvel about using mint in a savory recipe.  Even though it is a relative of basil and used in many kinds of savory dishes, my mind still puts mint in the dessert category.  Taking advantage of  my prolific mint plant out on my balcony, I decided to make this corn dish.  It was pretty good, but I think I prefer NYT's brown butter corn recipe.

Watermelon, Cucumber, Tomato Salad

This was delicious AND I served it in a hollowed out watermelon shell.  Very fancy!  Nothing is more refreshing than watermelon.

2010.07.22 - Tuna and Bean Salad, Scalloped Tomatoes

I felt I had overloaded people with chicken for too many weeks, so it was time for a change.  Tuna was on sale, so tuna it was!

Tuna and Bean Salad

I like tuna, but hate mayonnaise, so I have a couple standard preparations to make dry canned tuna "wet" without using the devil's condiment.  One method is greek yogurt (it is yummier than it sounds!) and another is mashed white beans and lemon juice.  This recipe uses the latter.  I've made this version many times - it is delicious.  I love the crunch of the celery (I omit the olives and onion and double up on celery) and the fresh parsley taste. 

Scalloped Tomatoes made with gluten free bread

These scalloped tomatoes were awesome.  The only thing that would have made them better was a different bread -- this gf bread just tasted funny to me.  I have managed pretty well with gf desserts, but still have not been able to make a gf bread that makes me happy.  There was just something off about the taste (not inedible or bad, just odd) and definitely didn't taste like "real" bread.  The quest continues...

2010.07.15 - Thai Style Chicken, Mango Slaw, Ice Cream Sundaes

Smitten Kitchen is one of my favorite food blogs.  Deb has a way of making food that I would never normally consider eating sound so delectable that I have to try it.  That led to this adventurous (for me!) meal.

Thai Style Chicken Legs

I don't prefer dark meat, but these chicken thighs were delicious, although maybe a little too fatty/greasy "mouthfeel" for my tastes.  The marinade was a little sour, but oddly good.  The sweet chili sauce was a great accompaniment, although a little spicy for me! 

Mango Slaw

I inaugurated my mandoline for this salad - it was a very messy time of chopping and slicing!  No matter how well I tried to drain, this slaw ended up pretty watery, but it was still very delicious.

Ice Cream Sundaes
- Roasted Banana Ice Cream
- Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream
- Chocolate Ganache

I had leftover ice creams from a different dinner party and leftover ganache in the freezer from a different Thursday dinner, so I put them all together for a sundae bar!  I got the ice cream recipes out of my copy of David Lebovitz's "The Perfect Scoop" -- what an amazing dessert "cook"book.  The banana ice cream was addictive and made my house smell amazing when I was roasting the bananas for it.  I would also use the banana preparation as dessert topping without even turning it into ice cream, or maybe even over oatmeal for a fancy breakfast...

2010.07.01 - Chili...?

Being a delinquent blogger, I am writing this post months after the dinner occurred.  However, for some reason, I can't find the email menu that shows what I made!  Electronic evidence from around the date suggests that I made chili, so let's go with that :)  It was probably my favorite chili recipe from Smitten Kitchen - three bean chili.

2010.06.24 - Homemade Pasta, Chicken Milanese, Pavlova

P & M bought me the pasta maker attachment for the KitchenAid mixer for my birthday, and I finally got around to trying it out!  It took a while to get a hang of it, perhaps compounded by the fact I was making gluten free pasta, but in the end it looked and tasted like the real thing.

Zucchini, Cherry Tomato, Fresh Ricotta Pasta
Gluten Free Pasta

The gf pasta ended up tasting very much like the real thing, except possibly a little bit slimier.  It was difficult to keep it from falling apart in the pasta maker, but I was eventually able to get the dough long enough to make fettuccine.  The vegetable "sauce" for the pasta was delicious.  This was the first time I had made my own cheese - it was surprisingly simple, but the small yield of cheese to a large amount of milk was a little shocking!  I thought it was a much better texture than store bought ricotta - not grainy at all.

Chicken Milanese

I wanted a protein to go with the pasta -- these were just basic chicken cutlets, nothing special.

Pavlova with Berry Sauce

I didn't use the berry sauces directed in the recipe -- just searched for some simple strawberry and blueberry sauces to use up frozen berries that I had.  The pavlova was excellent - just right chewy meringue texture.  I love the combination of meringue with whipped cream and fruit sauce!  I used a protractor to make sure the meringue ended up a perfect circle :)