Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Smoked Fish Occasion

Friday 12 September

It was a hard week, so we deserved something special for Friday night.  We made it what the Sosinskys call a smoked fish occasion, the base of which was a half-recipe of Noonie's famous latkes.
We dressed them up with slices of lox, dabs of golden whitefish caviar, some capers, minced red onions, plus dollops of drained yogurt. 

That, and a couple of glasses of chardonnay, gave us new life for the weekend.

Stir-Fried Beef and Zucchini

Thursday 11 September
We got some cut-rate chuck steak at Kroger's, so sliced it up and marinated it with soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sugar, and black pepper for a stir-fry. 
We chopped up two bunches of scallions (saving the greens for the end), a green banana pepper and a red jalapeno, and a chunk of minced ginger, and began the stir-fry in that order.  We then added our main vegetable, three zucchini sliced into thick half-moons with an extra cut almost (but not quite) through the center - that's what you do with cucumbers for stir-fries as well.
We set aside the vegetables, and stir-fried the beef with a big clove of garlic, minced; then put the vedge back in, re-heated, and spiced it up with a big glugg of oyster sauce.  At the end, sprinkled with the minced scallion tops, a drizzle of sesame oil, and served.


The beef was still a little tough, so we either need to cut it thinner, or cook it only a minute or two until rare.  But the flavors were well balanced, which is pretty good, especially for this kind of seat-of-the-pants Chinese.

AAUP at TUC, and Red Feather Kitchen

Wednesday 10 September
This was one of those odd days when Barbara went one way (to her AAUP Associates Council meeting) and Holt went another (to a talk, and then out to dinner with the speaker).
Barbara's meeting was at Tangeman, UC's student center; it was catered by their staff, and chosen by nice Anne at the AAUP office.  There was a huge layout: Mexican chicken soup (the tortillas were like matzo balls), green salad, fresh fruit salad, marinated vegetables, fettuccine with pesto sauce for the vegetarians, baked halibut with lemon pepper sauce for the piscivores, grilled chicken with tomato, bacon, and caper cream sauce for the meatatarians, rosemary roasted potatoes, roasted mixed eggplant, squash, onion and red pepper; and for dessert, some cookies and brownies with your choice of coffee/tea/decaf/iced tea.  
It was abundant, and the Associates dove in, chowing down throughout the meeting.  Since Barbara had asked Anne to supply them with tupperware, most of the food was either eaten or taken home; Barbara took hers home, and nuked and ate it there.
Holt, on the other hand, was taken out to a new place in Oakley, the Red Feather Kitchen.  They bill themselves as a "scratch kitchen," but that is hardly a standout; we usually don't go anyplace where the food might be frozen and nuked (like T.G.I. Friday's or the Montgomery Inn - and we have our doubts about TUC, but that's not a choice we can make).
The Red Feather supplied Holt with a trio of Wellfleet oysters, and then a nicely-grilled hangar steak with roasted vegetables and chimichurri sauce.  
It would have been a fine experience, but as the evening drew on, the waiters plainly thought that the party was lingering past their bedtime.  They not only cleared the plates of all the party except Holt (quite the faux pas), but took the bread basket away - at which point Holt rebelled, asked for more bread, and then took his good sweet time mopping his plate.  
The food seems good, but the Red Feather waitstaff need to be sent to the re-education camp before we dine there again.

Eggplant, Tomato, and Onion Gratin

Tuesday 9 September
The Chez Panisse Vegetables book calls this a gratin, but the recipe contains no cheese.  That's just crazy, so we corrected it.
Eggplant, Tomato, and Onion (Real, Genuine) Gratin
3 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
leaves from 2-3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf

3 medium Asian eggplants (we used 6 little white ones, which need to be peeled, cause their skin is tough)
3 ripe tomatoes
salt and pepper
ca. 1 cup grated cheese
breadcrumbs
Sweat the onions and garlic in oil for 5 minutes until soft, with the thyme, bay, and salt and pepper. 
Peel and slice the eggplants into quarter-inch rounds, and the tomatoes slightly thicker. 
Grease a baking dish, and preheat the oven to 400º.
Spread the onions on the bottom of the baking dish, and cover with overlapping rows of alternate tomato and eggplant slices (we actually did a bottom layer of eggplant, topped by a layer of tomato).  Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little oil.
Cover and bake until eggplant is soft, which was about an hour (sounds of hunger rumbles here).   

Then we said, "cheese, please!" and added grated ricotta salata and parmesan and a sprinkle of breadcrumbs to the top, with a droozle of oil on top of that.  We uncovered the dish and baked for 15 minutes more to brown the top.

This tasted good and made a full meal for two, but we were ravenous by the time it was ready.  Next time, we'll save time and roast the eggplant rounds on a baking sheet until softened, top each with a slice of tomato and a mound of cheese, and toast them into individual eggplant parmegianas.

Last of the Leftovers

Monday 8 September

This was really the clean out the fridge day - kale crisps (Jacques Pépin bakes them at 250º, and doesn't let them brown), a single sausage patty, curried chicken salad made out of the chicken we'd made broth from on Saturday, and two teeny crab and corn and potato cakes from Friday.

GBLTs

Sunday 7 September
Last time we made our gender friendly GLBTs, it was with guacamole. 
This time, the G in GBLT (the arrangement of initials is as indeterminate as gender) is for Goat cheese.
We combined some smoky bacon we bought in bulk from Kroger's, Holt's Italian bran bread, a good spread of goat cheese, lettuce and arugula from the garden, and heirloom tomatoes from the farmers' market.

To top it off, the weather was so cool and crisp we ate outdoors on the patio, with a friendly NZ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.