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Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Monday, August 20, 2007

Olive Bread & Roasted Vegetable Spread

In this kind of heat, only morons turn on their ovens to roast vegetables and bake bread. Ergo, I am a very happy moron.

I made a tiny little loaf of Olive Bread from Small Batch Baking and half recipe of Roasted Vegetable Spread ala Alton Brown. Both are very good, and together they would make a nice appetizer for a dinner party. Or just nice to munch on while enjoying a glass of wine.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Summer Wheatberry Salad

My desire for summer salad entrees continues. Tonight's is a most excellent recommendation from my friend Sheri over at Pork Cracklins: Summer Wheatberry Salad from Fine Cooking #28. Oh look! It's another John Ash recipe! And I love it!

I bought soft wheatberries from the bulk department at Central Market. I eyeballed exactly one cup, just like I eyeballed exactly 13 ounces of butter yesterday. It's true! The instructions were to cook them until they were "pleasantly chewy, which may take anywhere from 50 and 90 minues. Afraid of overcooking them to the point of mushy, I tested: no, not close... Tested: uh uh, need more time... Tested: umm, getting there? What exactly does "pleasantly chewy feel like?... Tested: oh! they're ready!

The cooled wheatberries get tossed with scallions, roasted red (I used yellow) peppers, capers, quartered artichoke hearts and cherry tomatoes, capers, basil, sliced almonds, and a fairly basic garlicky vinaigrette. It's served on a bed of lettuce. Gorgeous colors. I love this salad. It's delicious!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Lemon Poppyseed Poundcake

A few weeks ago, my friend Julia from Kosher-Style Pork Cracklins came over to keep me company and cheer me up. She also loaned me her copy of Rose Levy Beranbaum's classic book, The Cake Bible. Oh where to begin? I would love to bake them all!

At the birthday party we went to last weekend, there were 3 cakes, one for each decade. The best of all was a lemon poppyseed layer cake with lemon frosting. The hostess was kind enough to send some home with us, but it didn't last long and I immediately knew what I would offer to bake for Gary's bridge party tonight.

Rose's is a poundcake, soaked in lemon syrup. It's fabulous. Destined to be a repeat.

Spinach & Orzo Salad

Many of my runner/triathlete friends want pasta when we travel out of town for races, and sometimes they choose Macaroni Grill. I guess it's a fairly safe choice for a chain restaurant, and I am very much a "go with the flow" person. I always order the Chicken Florentine Salad, and a little searching around on the internet got me pretty close to replicating it. I can't say I measured accurately and you could certainly leave something out, say if you don't like olives or capers or whatever. It's an excellent summer dinner salad. Wish I'd taken a photo; it's beautiful. Here's a guideline:

Roasted Garlic & Lemon Vinaigrette
2 T. red wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 T. honey
1/2 tsp salt
a couple cloves of roasted garlic
3 oz. mild olive oil

Spinach & Orzo Salad
Several big handfuls of baby spinach, cut into chiffonade
small handful of radicchio, cut into chiffonade
a spoonful or two of toasted pine nuts
a couple of sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
a spoonful of capers, drained
small handful of kalamata olives, sliced
orzo pasta, cooked and chilled

Toss all that into a bowl. Decide how much you will eat today and how much you will save for tomorrow's lunch. Decide before you put on the dressing, so that you can store the leftovers separately.

Top with shaved Parmesan and a grilled chicken breast, sliced at an angle.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Celery, Cabbage & Carrot Salad with Shrimp & Curry Dressing

I love to read cookbooks. I put little post-it flags on recipes that look good. Then I put the book on the shelf and forget about it. When it's time to shop or plan a meal, I can never think of anything.

I've had Cooking One on One for a while now and never cooked a darn thing from it, despite thinking that everything in it sounded wonderful. I first remember hearing of John Ash when he was a guest on Cooking Live with Sara Moulton. I miss that show.

Last week, someone on the Fine Cooking discussion board mentioned making this salad, and I thought it sounded like a perfect dinner in this hot weather we're having right now.

And it was. Perfect.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

We went to a birthday party Saturday night and came home with yummy leftovers. I decided to send the container back with cookies in it.

I check My Little Kitchen every week, and since I haven't baked lately from Maida Heatter's Cookies, it was tempting to poke around and find something that Cathy's cookie testers had rated highly. Then again, baking this morning was a last minute decision, and not wanting to go to the store for special ingredients, I was limited in my recipe making choices. I decided to go with David Leibovitz's adaptation of Nick Malgieri's version of lower-fat Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, simply because I had everything I needed. The only thing I did to further the adaptation process was to plump the raisins in hot water before adding them to the dough. I think David and Nick would be proud.

Aferward, as I tidied up the kitchen and put away my baking supplies, I realized I did have some chocolate afterall. Anything chocolate is usually more popular than anything not, but I'm sending these anyway.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Blueberry Lemon Cream Tarts

Texas blueberries are ok, but Michigan blueberries are the best! I can eat an embarrassing number of them, straight out of hand, no adornment necessary. But Gary loves fruit tarts, so I made these Blueberry Lemon Cream Tarts, based on this recipe from Gourmet Magazine. A couple of recommendations: rather than use their recipe for graham cracker crust, use the one on the box. Also, I thought the filling needed more "punch" from the lemon, so I added a little bit of lemon extract. Go easy on it, because if you use too much, it will have an alcoholic/chemical taste, and the liquid will affect the texture of the filling.

Other things I have made lately:
Mediterranean Spice Rubbed Salmon and Cherry Tomato Salsa with Capers & Green Olives from Fine Cooking #79. It's the second or third time I've made it and it is excellent. In fact, that is a particularly good issue of Fine Cooking. I just checked the website and it isn't listed as an available back issue! Wow, lots of people must have thought it was good.

From another back issue, Fine Cooking #62, Saturday evening I made Chicken Roulades with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, another favorite that we have had many times. I always serve it with very simply dressed salad greens. Love this dinner!

From the current issue (#87), I've made the Corn Saute with Canadian Bacon, Potatoes & Peppers. I loved it. I couldn't tell if Gary did or not. I used some of Mr. Enstone's homegrown tomatoes and basil to make the No-Cook Tomato Sauce, as well as pesto. One day, Julia and I had a lovely lunch of pesto on farfalle with those fresh tomatoes sliced on the side. The Grilled Five-Spice Chicken Thighs were very good. I'd like to made the other thigh recipes from that same article. Also high on my to-do list is Grilled Goat Cheese Crostini with Roasted Red Peppers. I adore goat cheese.