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Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Monday, March 28, 2005

Dill-Cucumber Sauce

A couple of years ago, I had a dill-cucumber sauce at Central Market's restaurant. It was a daily special, salmon with the sauce served over greens. Right after that, I tried several times to recreate it, using different cookbooks and online searching. I guess I finally gave up.

This is close. Very close. I love it. It's not on epicurious yet, so I hope I remember to paste a link when it is. The recipe says to use the food processor. I just made it by hand. Simple.
  • Salmon with Dill-Cucumber Sauce (Bon Appetit, April 2005) over Mixed Greens

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Sour Cream Waffles

Pork Cracklins will always be first in my heart, but another food web log (flog) that I read is 101 Cookbooks. I saw this recipe there.

The batter is thick, fluffy and bubbly. The waffles have a nice crisp crust and light interior. The first bite I had straight out of the waffle iron tasted too "eggy" to me. A few minutes later, with nice grade B maple syrup from the bulk department at Central Market, the waffles were out of this world. No butter on top, but sheesh who needs it, with a STICK of it in the batter in addition to the sour cream. Not for the low-fat dieter, but nice for a special occasion. It's so rare that I am home on a Sunday morning that cooking a leisurely breakfast seems like a real treat.

I've started adding Amazon.com links to the cookbooks I refer to on here. I noticed that a used copy of this one is only $2.55. I've had very good success ordering used books from Amazon. Often they aren't "used" at all; they're seconds or overstocks or such.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Grilled Shrimp with Mango Salsa

I stopped at Central Market today to see what kind of fish they have. I have a favorite fish monger named Mario, and asked him, if halibut is in season again, why hasn't the price gone down. He said actually it's cheaper out of season because they catch it in season and freeze it. Hmph. Also he said the price of everything just went up too, because fuel (shipping) prices are so high.

So I bought some huge shrimp and the stuff to make mango salsa. I had a red pepper in the refrigerator that was past it's prime but fine to use. And I got a very fragrant mango. Oh, and I've really been craving the Arroz Verde, and thought that would go with it too.

CM was giving out samples of Miles of Chocolate. I've read several articles about it, but this was the first time I'd had a chance to try it. I thought Gary would really like it, so I bought a small piece and some raspberries to make a puree.

Monday, March 21, 2005


We needed an apres' ski snack, so I earlier today I made Sheri's guacamole so that it would be ready to go. Jay made margaritas. OMG. What a combo.

Cherry Turnovers

I made Cherry Turnovers for the Cubhouse. A couple were eaten as dessert with ice cream, but mostly people wanted them for breakfast. I don't really use a recipe anymore. They are refrigerated pie crust, cut into quarters, with egg wash, cherry pie filling and turbinado sugar.
  • Cherry Turnovers

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Grilled Halibut with Creamy Guacamole Sauce

I liked this, in fact, I licked my plate, but it isn't my favorite way to have halibut. I love another recipe that Sheri and I first made together and that I have made several times since. I also love halibut with mango salsa over a citrus dressed salad. That's what I wish I'd made tonight.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Hot Cocoa

We are meeting some friends in at their new condo in Utah. I thought it would be nice to take some hot cocoa mix, because people like "instant" and the kind you get in little packets is full of partially hydrogenated oils and other nasty things.

I found several recipes for hot cocoa mix using powdered dry milk. I used Sanalac, but suppose you could use nonfat like Carnation. Gary doesn't think this is quite sweet enough. I like it a lot, but I'm not a hot cocoa connoisseur, so who's to say. Maybe add a little more sugar?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Mushroom-Dusted Tuna

I've been wanting Andrea Immer's new book, and finally bought it. I haven't finished reading it, but so far it's wonderful. I love the way it's organized. And there are so many recipes and wine pairings that I want to try! The only reason I'm starting with this one is that Central Market had some absolutely lovely yellow-fin.

The recipe says to use your food processor to turn the dried porcini into dust. Part of mine turned into dust, but some pieces just flew endlessly around the bowl. So I resorted to the old fashioned mortar and pestle.

Gary seemed skeptical. Until he tasted it. OMG, this is WONDERFUL! It doesn't really qualify as "everyday", because it's a fairly expensive menu and it takes awhile. But it was fine for a Sunday night.

It is delicious. Absolutely delicious. Although I wish I hadn't made the noodles because they were just filler.
  • Mushroom-Dusted Tuna with Black Bean-Hoisin Sauce (Everday Dining with Wine, p. 151)
  • Soba Noodles
  • Sauteed Baby Bok Choy
  • 2002 Chateau St. Jean Pinot Noir (Sonoma County)

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Butternut Squash and Sage Orzo

A nice dinner, just for myself tonight. Which is probably just as well, as lately I have been carrying on a torrid affair with the Herbs de Provence from Central Market's bulk department. Tonight I patted it onto a skinless, boneless chicken breast and seared it to play protein to my yummy starch centerpiece.

Another complete meal that I could make from things already on hand. I love that! Even though I had to use pretty much the last remaining sage in my lame herb garden. But it was well worth it! ooohh, I got to use my new cleaver on the squash! Most excellent. Nice and heavy. Wacked right through that son of a gun. I had everything prepped and ready to go when I got back from my bike ride. Didn't take any time at all to put it all together.

Eek. Another Bon Appetit recipe.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Chicken Piccata

Quick and Delicious. Definitely. Quick is the key to boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Overcooked=dry and lifeless. High heat and a couple of minutes on each side = delicious.

I had everything prepped and ready to go. Too bad Gary fell asleep in the 15-ish minute it took for me to put it all together. Oh well. At least I didn't eat his share. I wanted to. But I refrigerated it. Maybe lunch tomorrow?

The photo shows it with whipped potatoes. But pasta is such a perfect match. The sauce was lick-able. I love that I have nice gelatinous homemade chicken broth in the freezer. It gives the sauce such nice body. Something you really can't get from canned chicken broth. Don't let that stop you though, if canned is all you have.
  • Chicken Piccata with Fried Capers (Fine Cooking #56, p. 82C)
  • Angel Hair Pasta
  • Steamed Broccoli
  • 2003 Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, NZ)

Monday, March 07, 2005

Spinach & Basil Salad

The title of the magazine article is "Spinach Salad Gets a Flavor Makeover: New flavors and textures perk up a classic salad". It has a lot of steps, but if you follow the directions, it's not hard at all.

Gary is like Mikey; he'll eat anything. But I could tell he didn't really care for it. Especially the texture of the broiled tomatoes. Me? I thought this salad was awesome! The candied walnuts are scary good! When (if?) I do this again, though, I'll be adding more than a pinch of cayenne to them. Maybe two pinches? Three?
  • Spinach & Basil Salad with Tomatoes, Candied Walnuts & Warm Bacon Dresssing (Fine Cooking #70, pp. 54-55)
  • Sourdough Bread with Sauteed Garlic Butter (Fine Cooking #43, pp. 48-49)

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Herb Salad with Societe Roquefort

A trip to Central Market without a list. After a long run. That is so dangerous.

I've cooked a lot of pork tenderloin and this might be the best pork tenderloin I've ever made. I'm serious. And the salad was extraordinarily good. The only thing I should have done differently tonight would have been to add a bit of chipotle to the potatoes. Yeah, well. It was still an all-around excellent dinner.
  • Pork Tenderloin with Honey, Mustard & Rosemary (Fine Cooking #14, p. 30)
  • Puree of Yukon Gold & Sweet Potatoes
  • Herb Salad with Societe Roquefort, Fuji Apple, & Honey-Toasted Pecans
  • 2001 A. Rafanelli Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County)

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Pescado de Veracruz

Fish in the style of Veracruz (Mexico) is often red snapper, but can really be pretty much anything you like. I bought swordfish, which is excellent, but not something I'd do very often. For one thing, the FDA and the EPA have mercury advisories for children and women of childbearing age, but all of us should limit our consumption of very large fish, because they have increasingly high levels of mercury in them. Also, if you care about the environment, overfishing and bycatch, then swordfish currently rates "Be Careful" on the National Audobon Society's seafood lover's guide. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program, swordfish is a better choice than fish on their "avoid" list, but still has concerns. Check the lists often, because they change. You can print little cards to carry in your wallet when you're at the store or ordering in a restaurant.

The sauce is what gives Pescado de Veracruz its style and flavor. Tomatoes, onion, garlic, chiles, olives (green and/or ripe), and capers. I often use a cheating method that Dottie the fish demonstrator at Central Market taught me. I buy a small container of CM Salsa Fresca. It's very similar to the salsa fresca at Chuys. Then I add capers and olives and let the fish simmer in it until it's done.

Traditionally, Pescado de Veracruz would be served over rice, with beans on the side. But you know, we have this "thang" going on with garlic bread.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Perfect Flan

I'm not a big sweets eater. I mostly make sweets for other people. However, this has to be one of the best desserts ever.

Ouch. Vanilla beans are going for $5.99 each at Central Market right now. That's quite a bit more than the last time I bought one.

These need to be made at least one day ahead, because the caramel (which hardens immediately after you pour it into the ramekins) softens overnight and becomes a lovely puddle of sauce when you tip out the custard. To get hardened caramel off your saucepan or utensils, use boiling water. Works like a charm.

The person who invented silicone potholders deserves a Nobel prize. Fetching anything out of a water bath used to be like asking to get burned. No more. Reach right in, my friend.

On another note, it is oddly disturbing to me that I prefer Gourmet, but I seem to cook more from Bon Appetit. Whatever. This really is the "perfect" flan.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Pasta Shells with Chicken, Mushrooms & Capers

Another excellent recipe from Fine Cooking. Speaking of which, I realized today that many of the FC recipes that I've posted on here are on the Fine Cooking website. I've gone back and inserted some links in previous entries, but you might just want to check out their site.

While I'm on the subject of Fine Cooking magazine, it's all Sheri's fault. I've had a subscription for a couple of years (due to her influence!), and then over the holidays she surprised me with a huge bunch of back issues. Now I'm hooked on Ebay, scooping up the few that I don't have. Not many more to go, and I'll have a complete set.