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Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Monday, January 31, 2005

Roasted Chicken

Giving the Zuni method a try on my own, without Sheri to coach me. This time I used sage. I love this method for roasting chicken. It is so moist! The delicate sage flavor was really, really good.

These are my favorite green beans in the whole world. Slender and crisp-tender. I blanch them for 4 minutes and then immediately put them in ice water. Dry them off and they can be parked until dinner time. Then, right before eating, I give them a quick saute in tarragon butter and add salt and black pepper.

For the butternut squash, I just slice it into moons and toss it with some olive oil, salt and pepper. I let it roast part way, then add some whole garlic cloves. I like the super-caramelized pieces (bottom right corner) and there weren't enough of those!!
  • Sage Roasted Chicken
  • Haricots verts with tarragon butter
  • Roasted garlic and butternut squash

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Fusilli with Fresh Spinach & Ricotta

It was a toss up between this and Fettucine with Creamy Sage Sauce on the same page of the magazine. This won out so that I could use the last of the spinach that Sheri and I got at Boggy Creek Farm. It would be awesome to always use fresh, organic produce. But, alas, I do not. And I could just kick myself for not getting over there early yesterday. Click on "seasonal report" to see what they have right now.

This pasta is another Lydia Bastianich recipe. I tend to like her food. What I love about Gary is that he will eat anything I cook and be truly appreciative of it! But I suspect this is more of an Amy-dish, than a Gary-dish. Why I am making it in the dead of winter is beyond me, as it would be absolutely perfect in summer time.

I planned on having an Italian white, but Central Market had a huge display of the Monkey Bay, and I already know I like it, so I got a bottle. Not a perfect match, but good enough.

The camera's batteries were dead, dammit. And I burned the hell out of my tongue testing the pasta :-)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Pan-Seared Cod with Creamy Fennel Ragout

I made this again. I probably repeat recipes more than I should, instead of trying new ones. But sometimes I get so brain-dead and I just want to cook and I just want to eat something I know will be yummy. This is.

I used cod this time. The only deviation from the recipe is that I used some (1T) of Pernod to deglaze the pan after browning the fennel. The only reason I did is that I tend to accumulate liqueurs that I only use once. Like the kirsch for fondue. I won't use that again until Sheri visits. (Would you hurry up already???)

I bought Pernod for shrimp bisque at Christmas, so I wanted a way to use it again. I should have written a little story about it then, but I didn't, so I will now. When Gary, Eric and I went to Paris, we particularly enjoyed one bistro where the waiter, Corentan, gave us a LOT of attention. He recommended that Gary have a traditional aperitif of Ricard', which is just another brand name of Pernod. That is some serious stuff, if you dare drink it straight up. I admit, when Eric and I bought it for the bisque, he thought we should taste it again, and our reaction was the same as it was in Paris. As an ingredient in a recipe, however, it is yummy.

I can fully understand that some people don't care for Viognier. It has a definite flowery aroma. However, in its defense, it is a perfect match with fennel. And I adore fennel.

Cookie Update

I baked 3 cookies from the frozen dough. I think they look prettier; they seem to hold their shape better. However, that could also mean that yesterday after I chilled the dough, I let it get too warm before I actually baked them.

I baked the frozen dough for 11 minutes, rotating the pan after 8. They looked done, but the inside was too gooey. Back into the oven for 2 minutes. At first I thought they may still have been bit underdone. But as they cooled, I think I've decided that they're just nice and chewy. Still figuring this part out, apparently. I may try thawing some next time.

These are for Jay & Julia. I ate the 3rd one. Scientific research, you understand.

Friday, January 28, 2005


I saw a picture in my new cookbook and it looked so good that it made me want to make it. What aggravates me is that I should have consulted Marcella Hazan.

I loved the delicate flavor of the sage in the filling. And the bechamel was nice. Until I baked it. Then it separated. Something gave off liquid, but I don't know what. The veal? And the filling needed more salt, something I wouldn't have known unless I'd cooked a sneak mini-bit, as Sara Moulton would have told me to do. Bah. Not a recipe I'd use again, even though it didn't keep either of us from eating our fair shares.

The wine had a wet, leaky cork. Gary said he'd drink something else. I said I was pouring it anyway. It was soft and just right with veal and cream. Even to Gary. It was a 1990, released in 2000 that Gary picked up at Steve's, a locally owned liquor store where he and Steve have made nicey-nice.

If the salad in my photo looks wilted, it's because it's leftovers that I photographed after dinner :-)
  • Cannelloni with Veal and Fresh Herbs (Cook It Right, Anne Willan, p. 185)
  • Arugula and romanita tomatoes with balsamic vinegar
  • Rubesco Riserva Monicchio, 1990 (Sangiovese and Canaiolo)

The Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie

My second favorite food geek in the world is Alton Brown. (Who's the first you might ask? Puhleez... If you have to ask, you don't deserve to know.) In one episode of Good Eats, he explores the differences between three main types of chocolate chip cookies: The Thin, The Puffy, and The Chewy.

Gary is a thin guy; I myself am a chewy girl. Chewy requires bread flour, melted butter, much higher ratio of brown to white sugar, and leaving out one of the egg whites. This is a soft dough, which needs to be chilled before shaping with an ice cream scoop. The chilling time adds to the prep time listed on the recipe.

This recipe says a #20 scoop, which is 2 1/2 ounces. The version I read in the newspaper article about AB said a 1 oz. scoop. My photo shows 1 oz and they are pretty big. Also, the yield says 2 1/2 dozen with that #20 scoop, but I got 28 cookies (which would presumably be smaller and therefore yield more. ) Just letting you know.

I'm experimenting with baking some of the cookies, and freezing the remaining dough in balls. Will let you know how those turn out, too.

One minute less in the oven, and I'd have said they were perfect.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

I wanted a meal I could cook on Wednesday to eat on Thursday. Then I had to find a recipe. I always say I don't cook enough out of this book, considering how much I love it. So now's the time.

Funny, it turned rainy and cold, so soup was a good choice. This recipe is nice. Nothing fancy-schmancy, just comforting Cream of Tomato Soup.

I would have never looked twice at this bread, except that a couple of months ago, there was a demo station at Central Market where the lady was making these sandwiches. Of course I had to try one and YUM! they are delicious. I've made them several times since then.
  • Cream of Tomato Soup (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Deborah Madison, p. 217)
  • Grilled Wisconsin Mammoth Cheddar on CM Rosemary, Cheddar, Buckwheat Onion Bread

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Mole Party

My dear friend Sheri suggested that we make mole together. Sounded fun to me. I thought we should have a party and invite Sheri's Live Journal friends from Austin, most of whom she hasn't met in person.

Alas, how little I knew about the mole-making process. This is not a meal to be undertaken by the solo cook or the faint of heart. Meticulous notes and step-by-step photographs can be found on Pork Cracklins.

However time-consuming it may have been, those were hours spent with Sheri that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. Being able to share the end result with good friends made it even more rewarding. A special meal with special people: Sheri, Gary, Shayla, Jay & Julia, Cam, Ginny & Jack, Patricia, Adam, Vicki, Cheryl, Richelle & Cary, and Julie.
  • Mole Poblano (Fine Cooking #23, p. 60-65)
  • Arroz Verde (Fine Cooking #35, p. 45)
  • Black Beans
  • Tortillas
  • Chips, Guacamole & Salsa
  • Margaritas
  • Cinnamon-Hot Fudge sundaes

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad

Sheri has had the Zuni Cafe cookbook for a quite a while, but didn't make the roasted chicken, because, come on, it's just roasted chicken. Then she made it, and absolutely raved about it. It's not "just" roasted chicken. So, of course, I wanted her to show me how to do it.

She's right. Between this and the FC butterflied chicken technique, there is no reason to roast a chicken any other way. Even if you were making chicken with a pan sauce and some potatoes, this is thetechnique to use.

I wish I'd taken a picture of the plated chicken with the bread salad, because it was beautiful. And delicious. It's tossed with the pan drippings and it is definitely the sort of thing that you can't keep from picking at with your fingers.
  • Zuni Roast Chicken with Bread Salad (The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, p. 342)
  • Renwood 2001 Grandpere Zinfandel (Amador County, California)

Friday, January 21, 2005


You would not believe how my friend Sheri spoils me. She brings (and mails) me gifts that are so perfect. One of my gifts yesterday was The Cheese Lover's Cookbook & Guide by Paula Lambert, who is from Dallas.

Sheri and I have a relatively new (but very important) tradition of making fondue together. What better indulgence while we slave over the 3-day process of authentic Mexican mole for our party on Sunday?

The last time we made it, we used a recipe from Fondue by Rick Rogers. We decided to make Paula Lambert's and compare. We used her alternate recipe, which is very, very similar to Rick Rogers', a combination of Gruyere, Emmentaler, and Appenzell. The kirsch, by the way, is not all optional, despite anything that Heidi might tell you.

It was delicious. Hello? How could melted cheese be anything other than delicious?!?! This time we got the all important crust as our reward for finishing it off. Oh my. The only thing I can imagine that would have made it better would be if Cheryl had been here too.
  • Cheese Fondue (The Cheese Lover's Cookbook & Guide, Paula Lambert, p. 233)

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Dinner with Sheri

There is nothing I like more than cooking with my friend Sheri. Today we wandered through Central Market, picking up ingredients for our party on Sunday, and also for the Saturday dinner we are making. They had the most gorgeous heads of cauliflower! Huge and completely unblemished with outer leaves attached. We had to get one.

We still hadn't decided what to make for tonight's dinner, so we used the old fall-back plan, Fine Cooking. Several things in the most recent issue sounded good, but we didn't have it with us. So we thumbed through theirs.

I knew Sheri must be exhausted from her early a.m. flight, so I instructed her to go upstairs and rest. I unloaded the groceries and began prep. I'm her sous-chef! Boy was she hot when she got up. "You started cooking without me!!" "No, no, I was just getting it ready for you!"

We opened the Rosenblum to have a glass while we were cooking. It was a happy memory from my trip last February to visit her. After dinner, Gary opened the Rafanelli.
  • Seared Flank Steak with Shallot-Mustard Sauce (Fine Cooking #70, p. 82c)
  • Oven-Roasted Cauliflower
  • Sweet Potato Fries with Chipotle
  • Rosenblum 2000 Rustridge Zinfandel
  • A Rafanelli 2001 Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley)

Saturday, January 15, 2005


I have some arugula that is past the salad stage, slightly wilted, but not bad, and suddenly I remembered this recipe. The first time I made it was with Sheri on my trip there last February and I made it a couple of times after that. It's delicious. I think that either the fennel should be sliced thinner, or that it should go in before the red onion.

The salmon was perfectly done. I left it in the oven for 3 minutes. The recipe said "2 min. for medium rare; 4 min. for medium well."
  • Fennel & Red Onion with Arugula (Fine Cooking #62)
  • Sear-Roasted Salmon with Tarragon Butter (Fine Cooking #31)

Friday, January 14, 2005

Roasted Salmon

I was hooked on this for a while, for nights when Gary is gone, but I want a nice dinner. I had forgotten about it. I love it. I pile on the herbs, probably a tablespoon each of tarragon, chives and parsley. I don't add cream to the cauliflower and I like to use the immersion blender to puree it.

Classic Dinner Rolls

Just practicing. I'm scared of shaping rolls. And it was just as hard as I thought. The only bread-making class I've ever taken was with Roger Mollet, and I like his shaping technique better. 16 dinner rolls and I never did get a hang of the the FC method. I definitely need a kitchen scale, too.
  • Classic Dinner Rolls (Fine Cooking #41)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


It's going to turn cold, so I decided to make chili to have over the weekend. I usually try to make things like chili and stew a day or two before I plan to eat them. I've made this recipe before, and we love it, but I alter it a little.

It is becoming a big pet peeve of mine that there is no way to let Epicurious know when they post a typo. I originally made this recipe from the actual Bon Appetit magazine, and I am almost positive that it did not call for 1/2 cup chili powder. However, I don't have the magazine any longer to confirm that. There is a similar typo on the recipe for shrimp bisque that I made at Christmas. And I know for a fact that the online version for that is incorrect. Oh. And the picture accompanying the chili recipe is meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans. Hello?

My changes for the chili are to use a cup of stout, 3 cups of broth, 1 T. ancho chile powder, 2 tsp. chipotle chile powder, 1/2 t. cumin, and 6 disks of frozen chipotle puree. As it simmers, I will adjust whatever needs adjusting. I'm thinking it could still take more heat.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Pan-fried Corvina with Remoulade

I really wanted to cook dinner but I was tired from three (3!) workouts and it would have been late. So I made a quick trip to Central Market for some inspiration. Dotty was in the prep stage, darn it, but she had CM-prepared remoulade and it made me think of the last time she made the Corvina. So I jumped on it. I noticed that last time it was spelled Corvin-o and this time it is Corvin-a. I googled both but I'm not sure which is considered more correct.

This time I dusted it with flour and dipped in egg wash before I breaded it with 1/2 panko and 1/2 sassy pepper seasoning. I don't think I floured and egged it last time?

It's pretty common for me to serve fish on top of salad and that's all I did this time. Mixed greens from CM bulk, and grape tomatoes. The remoulade (which I can't even take credit for) is so good!
  • Pan-fried Corvina with Mixed Greens and Remoulade

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Pork Medallions

Obviously the reason I clipped the recipe is that I thought it sounded good. But as I was cooking it, I started getting less and less enthusiastic about it. I wish I had pounded the medallions and my first few tastes of the sauce disappointed me. Alas, the finishing touch is scraping up the fond and adding the chives and the tarragon. Made all the difference in the world.

The roasted fennel and shallots were good, but I would have finished it by roasting the blanched beans during the last stir.

I made the soup in December and froze some of it. When I first made it, I used my immersion blender and it wasn't as smooth as I wanted it. This time, pureed it in the blender-blender and thought it was wonderful.

Did Sheri give this wine to us? It was a very nice match with dinner.
[edit: Later, I read a comment on epicurious suggesting to puree 1/2 of the mustard-chive sauce. I think that would be a very good idea.]

Monday, January 03, 2005

Portobello Mushrooms with Pappardelle

Except that I used fettucine, because I wanted to use fresh pasta but I didn't want to make it myself and that's what I could get. It's not quite as wide as pappardelle, but close enough.

Fellow-foodie Cheryl recommended this recipe. I love this it. I love everything I've ever made from this cookbook. I wish I would remember to cook from it more often.
  • Portobello Mushrooms with Fettucine (Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone, Deborah Madison, p. 458)
  • Sourdough bread with Sauteed Garlic Butter (Fine Cooking #43, p. 49)
  • Arugula & grape tomatoes with balsamic vinegar