Saturday, February 25, 2012

Leftover Braised Pork and Mashed Potatoes

Friday 24 February
The third consecutive day of leftovers, but each was so different and so good, that we were more happy than not.
This third run of the cider-braised and thoroughly-pulled pork now had onions, apples, and turnips in its rich sauce, so all we had to do was reheat it with a touch more (fizzier still) apple cider, and add a pinch of allspice to emphasize its meatiness.  It went well with creamy mashed yukon golds.

Leftover Jambalaya

Thursday 23 February
There was plenty left for a second meal, including the three thighs from a very odd chicken.

Leftover Venison Chili

Wednesday 22 February
Juiced it up with more coriander, cumin, and Chimayo chile flakes.  We forgot the splash of red wine vinegar, but it was just fine.

Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya

Tuesday 21 February
Tonight was Mardi Gras, so the Tulane alumnus and the woman who never met a parade she didn't like put on their beads, brought out the Queen Ida and Neville Brothers albums, and gingerly two-stepped across the floor (our record player skips if we're too bouncy). 

Dora, of course, was eager to get her share of beads too.
Just for a change, we decided to make a chicken Jambalaya.  Wikipedia says that Creole jambalaya has tomatoes and Cajun jambalaya doesn't.  There are as many recipes out there as there are cooks, but Emiril does the most straightforward, and it's Cajun.
Of course we edited a bit...okay, a lot.  We used garlic as well as the Cajun triad of onion, celery, and bell pepper; added thyme with the other spices; and used one hot and one mild andouille, plus diced Schad's ham as additional tasso.  We left our 7 chicken thighs with bone and skin on, for extra flavor.  We don't mind knifework, or licking our fingers.
We cut the rice to a third (1 cup raw), because it was way too much for just two of us.  We treated it like risotto, toasting the grains and then adding liquid, but the result didn't cook evenly, and some grains remained opaque even until it overcooked at 45 minutes; the end result was sort of gluey, though tasty.  We looked up various fixes, and next time we will hold back the rice until the liquid we pour in for it is at a boil.  Also, everyone agrees that after the established cook time is over, you should let the jambalaya stand for 20 minutes.

Nonetheless, it tasted like the real thing, insofar as there is one.
Laissons les bons temps rouler!

Braised Pork with Turnips

Monday 20 February
Threw some diced garden turnips and another diced apple into the pot of leftover cider-braised pulled pork from Friday.  Boosted it with a little more cider (now still fizzier, and liable to puff out its jug unless vented), cider vinegar, and salt.
A savory mess. 

Amol India, Clifton

Sunday 19 February
Our neighborhood has three Indian restaurants within a distance of one block.  Which to choose for an informal arrival dinner with a job candidate?  Kathleen eliminated Indian Tadka as an even more tired buffet than usual, and we eliminated Ambar India as tasting more like Ohio than India.  So we went to Amol India, where dinner is fresh-made instead of buffet.  They bill it as Northern Indian cuisine, though we think the people are Gujarati, and the dishes are pretty standard across Indian restaurants abroad. 
We began with an appetizer platter of assorted pakoras, samosas, papadam, and other savory fried things.  Our mains were Lamb Do Piaza ("double onions"), actually onions and bell peppers in curried tomato sauce, and sweet Chicken Makhani, which is like Tikka Masala but with more butter.  We had a garlic and an onion naan, as well as plenty of rice to soak up the sauces.  And of course a big beer each (Taj Mahal and Flying Horse) to cool the palate.

Spicy Drumsticks with Collards

Saturday 18 February
Bare's meats in Findlay Market supplied a 5-pound bag of chicken quarters, taken from a minimum of 3 1/2 chickens.  We broke them up and saved the thighs for Mardi Gras Jambalaya, so tonight we coated the drumsticks in our nephew-in-law's original Broken Trail Spicy barbeque sauce and baked them in the oven.
We also gathered and tore up some fresh collards from the garden, parboiled them for 5 minutes, and at dinner time cooked them in quasi-Southern style, with a pinch of red pepper flakes, a douse of cider vinegar, and some shreds of Schad's ham.  Winter collards are much gentler than those picked in season, and we're happy to have them to accompany the Texas chicken.

Cider Braised Pork with Onions and Apples

Friday 17 February
We got a pork shoulder at Bigg's that was too big to freeze whole, so we cut it into a 2-pound and a 4-pound piece and froze the smaller one for a future stew. 
Usually a pork shoulder or "Boston butt" would inspire us to cook Barbara's Big Ol' Buttbut this time we spotted an intriguing and even simpler recipe for braising it in apple cider with caramelized onions and apples.  And after all, we still had over a quart of local cider left from making Chimayo Cocktails for Jon and Lois' visit, and it was beginning to ferment.  The 3/4 cup specified by the recipe wasn't enough, though; we added something like 2 cups, and it was fine.  On advice of the reviewers, we saved 2 onions to slice and add when there were still two hours to go: the caramelized onions almost melt away, and the onions you add raw are not less savory and tender when they've cooked for two hours.  We also threw in a diced apple and a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar an hour before, which made it nicely sweet and sour.
This reminds us of the recipe we used one Thanksgiving at Mom's house when there were no more turkeys in the supermarked and we had to tote a pork shoulder back to the formerly-kosher home.  I think we braised it with pears.  That was luscious, and this was too.

Crab and Asparagus Fettucine

Thursday 16 February
We had half the can of crab from last Thursday, we had fresh asparagus, we had cream.  Our first thought was to just combine the three in a pasta sauce, but then we saw Jamie Oliver's take on a creamless sauce, and liked his use of thin shavings of asparagus, which seems to be the thing to do these days.
Of course, we had to monkey with the recipe a bit. We didn't like the combination of crab and fennel seed, so we seasoned with fresh thyme; and as we don't like our vegetables absolutely raw, we added the asparagus to boil along with the pasta for the last 2-3 minutes according to thickness.
The final dish was so fresh-tasting and springlike we were glad we didn't use any cream.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Short Hiatus

Wednesday 15 February
Holt had to go out to dinner with a job candidate, so Barbara had a bowl of our chili and a bottle of beer at home.  Oh well, it's only one day.

Osso Buco with Blood Orange and Asparagus

Tuesday 14 February
We needed to cook something special for Valentine's Day, so after browsing what the Findlay Market butchers had on offer, we went for a pair of enormous pale veal shanks from Eckerlin's.

Such beauties deserve the best, and though we've worked with Marcella Hazan's recipe beforethis time we went with Lidia Bastianich's piquant and surprising recipe.  It's tomato-less but for a squirt of paste, but gets loads of flavor from its aromatics, including orange peel and cloves in the braise and orange zest over the finished dish.

One thing: the ingredient list in the web recipe doesn't include carrots, but there plainly are some, as they get sautéed with the onions and celery.  And we didn't bother to halve or tie up the shanks; they may look better, but it doesn't affect the flavor, which remains magnificent. 
We happened to have a blood orange, so after it supplied the peel and zest, we sliced it for a garnish, along with some roasted asparagus on the side. 

It's not the most prepossessing dish, but it's love on a plate.  Especially when followed up with Graeter's peach ice cream and a tiny heart-shaped scone for dessert.

Meatloaf and Grilled Romaine with Bacon Dressing

Monday 13 February
This was the third meal we got out of last Wednesday's giant meatenloafer, at the canonical serving size of two slices each.  With all that repetition, you need to vary the side dish, so we went with a grilled romaine salad. 
We usually do that as a Caesar, but this time, we found a dressing that would do well on the meatloaf as well: bacon balsamic vinaigrette with a sprinkle of blue cheese.
It's nice how you can get something as healthy and boring as a head of romaine lettuce to be as fatty, bacony, sweet, and salty as this.

Tuna en Papillote

Sunday 12 February
After meatloaf and chili, it was time to get back to some fish.
Again no fennel available, so we substituted sliced red onion; and we used green Spanish olives and capers instead of black Moroccans.  Surprisingly, considering the olives etc., it needed salt, and was a mite overdone; with tuna, you need to have a rare center, so 20 mins. may be too much.  Nonetheless, a very tasty dish.

Venison Chili

Saturday 11 February
This chili slow-cooked and perfumed the house all day. 
No bell pepper this time around, and we added some chile drizzle from last Saturday as well as some flaked medium Chimayo chile to give the pot some heat.  Another change: we put the spiced meat and onions right into the crockpot as soon as the beans were tender, but held the crushed tomatoes back until the last hour or so; they cooked down just fine in the time they were given.
A big bowl of this, and a couple of slices of Holt's fresh-baked bran bread, and we were happy.

Meatloaf and Champagne

Friday 10 February
Tonight we toasted good deeds by deans in Piper-Sonoma Brut.  Then we sat down to abundant plates of leftover meatloaf, nuked and topped with fried onions and ketchup, plus a pillowy heap of mashed potatoes with garlic, cream and butter.
Okay, so champagne and meatloaf is not the best combination.  But when you want to celebrate, you go with the best you've got.

Crabcakes and Daikon-Carrot Slaw

Thursday 9 February
We try to keep a can of lump crabmeat in the fridge, so that Holt can make a batch of his masterly crabcakes at a moment's notice.
This time they had no bell pepper, and we served them with a nice refrigerator pickle, the daikon and carrot slaw we had previously tossed with sliced apples.
So quick, so satisfying.

Meatloaf and Roast Root Vedge

Wednesday 8 February
Today Barbara tried to duplicate her recent Best Meatloaf Ever.
Unfortunately there were no crackers around (and I recall them as Ritz, not saltines as I said previously), so instead I ground up crumbs from slices of Holt's bran bread, and whipped them up as the panade along with the eggs and all the seasoning mixture in the robot-coupe. 
It wasn't as wonderful this time as last time.  Maybe the secret was the crackers all along!  We'll continue to tweak until we find out.
In the meantime, we cut up some of our garden turnips, some kennebec potatoes, and lotsa parsnips, tossed them in olive oil and salt, and set them roasting around the vasty meat log, basting in its juices.  We served the pretty-good meatloaf with lashings of ketchup, Holt's cornichons, and my sour tomatoes.

Pork and Porcini (Reprise) with Polenta

Tuesday 7 February
Marcella Hazan recommends that her pork and porcini stew be served with polenta, though when we made it for Jon and Lois we were so already so full of delicious appetizers that more starch was unnecessary.  For the leftovers, however, we needed a bed. 
Luckily we had some local stoneground polenta from the nice girl from Carriage House Farm at Northside Farmers' Market.
We made the polenta according to guidelines in the beautiful Chez Panisse book that Andi and Joel sent for Holt's birthday (thanks, A&J!).  Just a quarter teaspoon salt and a quarter cup of cornmeal whisked into a cup of boiling broth per person (in our case, half broth half water, and doubled for the two of us).  Then turned down the heat to low and assiduously stirred with a wooden spoon for 20-30 minutes.  It rested for 10 minutes, then got a big lump of butter stirred in, and the porky, savory stew poured over.

Chiles Rellenos with Guacamole

Monday 6 February
Okay, so poblanos are out of season, but there were some nice green ones at Findlay Market last week.  We did chiles rellenos according to our usual method: roasted, peeled, stuffed with cheese, breaded, and fried. 
This time, though, we tried roasting the peppers without rinsing in water; they did taste smokier and more concentrated, but were harder to clean.  The filling was grated monty jack, plus the leftover goat cheeses from the weekend.  On the side, we had simple guacamole with garden cilantro.  Hey, it's Albuquerque on the Ohio!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Chicken and Curry

Sunday 5 February
Started the day with a big lazy brunch: mimosas, Bare's homemade bulk sausage in fried hand-patties, and waffles with Canadian maple syrup.  We tried to put off Lois and Jon's leaving for as long as we could (with the help of an afternoon walk and a chatty neighbor), but eventually they did have to leave in time to catch the Superbowl at home.
After an indulgent weekend, our dinner was the bare (leftover) essentials: chicken legs and thighs from Wednesday, reheated in leftover sweet potato curry from Monday.  And we couldn't care less about the Superbowl.

Southwestern Ravioli and Blood Orange/Fennel Salad

Saturday 4 February
When we're having a leisurely Saturday dinner with friends, we like to do something that's fun to work on while we drink and chat.  In this case, our designated project was the corn and chorizo ravioli with goat cheese sauce and chile drizzle, from the Southwest Tastes cookbook.
We started with a toast to the nice people at the University of Queensland (ta, mates!) in Gruet Albuquerque sparkler; and we drank from the clever label-able glasses made by Melanie as our Christmas present. (thanks, Melanie - they work beautifully!)

We also snacked on yesterday's cheeses, crackers, and Byzantine antipasto olives from Dean's Mediterranean store.
When the Gruet ran out, we made another pitcher of Chimayo cocktails.  All very New Mexican.
For the dinner, we had already made up a batch of cinnamon chorizo and frozen it, so all it needed was to be defrosted and broken up a bit.  Holt and John did the kneading and rolling of the handmade corn pasta, and the filling of the ravioli.  The chile drizzle was just some powdered Chimayo kiln-dried chile, loosened with a little hot water.  The ravioli boiled up tender and succulent, drenched in a simple white goat cheese cream and spiced up with that vivid red drizzle.

As a palate cleanser afterward, we had some mandoline-shaved fresh fennel tossed with a white balsamic vinaigrette, and topped with blood orange slices.
This time, dessert was Holt's biscotti and Graeter's coconut-chip ice cream, plus a little shot of Old Weller bourbon on the side.
A perfect end to a Saturday of cooking and conversation.

Pork and Porcini Stew for Lois and Jon

Friday 3 February
Jon and Lois came for a weekend visit.  They are great cooks themselves, so we love to serve them big, flavorful food.  But first, for a big flavorful drink after their 3-hour drive, we served them Chimayo cocktails.  We had these at Rancho de Chimayo last June, and we loved them enough to get a box of Demarara sugar to coat the rims of our Nogales glass goblets for them.
It's easier if you make Chimayo cocktails (or anything else) by the pitcher, so here are the measurements for 8 gobletsful.
2 cups unfiltered apple cider (ours was local, from Findlay Market)
1 cup tequila, preferably gold (add a little extra)
1/4 cup crème de cassis
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 1/2 lemons)
Ice cubes, as needed
Demarara sugar
Unpeeled apple slices, for an optional garnish
Stir up in a pitcher the cider, tequila, crème de cassis, and lemon juice.  Put a couple of Tablespoons of Demarara sugar into a little plate.  Take out 4 goblets, run the lemon rinds around the rims, and dip upside-down into the plate of sugar, until the rims are coated with sparkle.  When guests arrive, fill the goblets halfway with ice. Pour the drink into the glasses, garnish each with an apple slice if you want, and serve.  Keep a swizzler in the pitcher and ice in the freezer to refresh as necessary.
Of course, One Must Have Snacks to keep body and soul together during chat-time before dinner.  So Holt made a batch of olive oil bread rolls, from his favorite Carol Fields recipe, substituting a little bran for some of the flour, and rolling them small for quick baking.  As it happens, they came out of the oven as soon as Lois and Jon arrived.  With the rolls we laid out a cheese plate of manchego, brie, gorgonzola, cheveron, and 6 oz. more goat cheese whizzed up with some garlic, arugula, and a little olive oil.  Oh and a little smoked salmon didn't hurt.
We like to have a big stoo for arrival night; it only gets better the longer it cooks.  This one was Marcella Hazan's pork and porcini, beefed up with an extra pound of chopped portobello mushrooms.  It made a delicious splodge on top of more little rolls. 

And we had some beautiful wines: J&L's Rhone red, Domaine Jaume Vinsobres Altitude 420; and our beloved Niagara wine, Megalomaniac Sonofabitch pinot noir 2006.
Dessert was Lois' triple ginger cookies (did she make them according to Fee's favorite recipe?), served with Graeter's peach ice cream - our favorite, saved from the summer for special friends.

Broccoli-Anchovy Pasta

Thursday 2 February
This recipe is a winter favorite, though we haven't made it for a long time.  We don't normally think of broccoli, but this time it jumped into our market bag.
And of course, Dora jumped into its bag.

Roast Chicken with Leftover Vedge

Wednesday 1 February
Lately we've been doing roast chicken in the Thomas Keller way, very plain.  Results have been quite good, but not the crispy wonder we were expecting.  So this time we decided to tart it up a little, mixing butter with chopped fresh rosemary and working it under the skin of the breasts and legs.
We roasted the three-pound bird at 450º on convect, which really speeds up the process.  And guess what - the skin got much crispier than it was under the Keller process, with bubbles of butter underneath.  It only took 45 minutes to get to 160º internal temperature, but you should let it go on regular bake at 350º for about 10 minutes more, to make sure that the interior is good and done, and of course let it rest on its cutting board under a tent of foil for 10 minutes as well.
We served the breasts with various vedge we had left over: German potato salad, and turnip gratin.  That warm, homey feeling is more than cleaning out the fridge.  It's about rich, buttery, rosemary-fragrant and crisp-skinned chicken dinner.

Ribeye Steak and Turnip Gratin

Tuesday 31 January
Haven't had red meat for a while, so rolled out a boneless Angus ribeye to panfry.  As a counterpoint, and because we had a bountiful batch of garden turnips from yesterday, we decided to bake a turnip gratin.
Instead of doing the whole pan-fry routine, we just loaded the neaps into a well-greased pyrex casserole and threw it in a 350º oven for the full time.  It was fine, but we miss the caramelization that the frying can bring, so we'll go back to the old way from now on.

Curried Lentils With Sweet Potatoes and Collards

Monday 30 January
We loved the chicken curry with sweet potatoes we had last Friday, and there was even a jar of the vedge left over.  Then by chance, we spotted a similar recipe, more veggie-style, on the web.  So we figured we'd put the two together.  The recipe was for six, so we halved it, and of course, monkeyed with it in various ways. 
It was almost 60º out in the garden, but there were only a few sprigs of swiss chard sheltering under the leaves.  Barbara spared them and picked a small mess of collards, and even dug up a basket of turnips and got a few of their greens. 

Since both collards and turnip greens are stronger than chard, we parboiled them for about 5 minutes.  Sautéed a chopped half onion in oil until translucent, then stirred in 2 cloves of minced garlic and an equal amount of minced ginger for a minute.  Then 1 tsp. curry powder went in to toast for a minute more. 
Poured in 2 cups turkey broth (frozen from Christmas), a peeled and diced 1-lb. sweet potato, and a scant cup of lentils, plus a kaffir lime leaf we had hanging around in the freezer (the recipe said bay, but this was better).  Brought it to a gentle boil, covered, and simmered, checking every 15 minutes, until it was almost tender (for us, 45 minutes - they were old lentils).  Then tossed in chopped collards and let it go another 15 minutes until really tender. 
When all was done, we stirred in a ramekin of ravioli-filling we'd had sitting around, plus the leftover sauce from the Tet chicken.  Tasted and added a little salt, then stirred in the zest and juice of 1 lime, 5 little chopped scallions, and a handful of cilantro leaves.
We could make sweet potato curry a real habit!

Penne with Salami, Zucchini, and Cream

Sunday 29 January
One of our old faves.