Posts Tagged ‘chicken’

So it is the time of birthdays among my friends.

One weekend there was a joint birthday party for three of my friends, and one of them received three beautiful blocks of cookware grade Himalayan salt from a boyfriend.

if google+ displays the pictures, this is an assembly of all three blocks, two small and one large

(Oh, yes, there is a possibility of photos on this post! That’s because my friend took pictures and posted them to Google+. Is there aren’t photos, blame google for not displaying them. Wooo!)

The next weekend, for my birthday, we cooked on salt.

salt block on a big, sexy gas range

So I’d spent all of the past year pondering the Charcutepalooza challenges, participating in one, and looking all over the D’Artagnan catalogue to use the challenge’s discount code. And all year, no purchases from them. I sigh over the missed discount.

But that meant that when it was time to grill meat, I was ready. What’s more, I was grilling meat with someone who only eats fowl or swine for meat. But that was perfect since the one thing I’d really been pining after in the D’Artagnan catalogue was the wild boar.

And since I wanted the most forgiving cut possible, I went with the wild boar tenderloin. And then just to hedge my bets, I also selected a chicken sausage.

the styrofoam shipping container with the wild boar and chicken sausage all propped up and looking eager to be cooked

We started with the wild boar, and we sliced it into three thicknesses – thin (about 2-3mm), medium (4-6mm) , and thick (10-15mm).

one intact tenderloin, and below it the one we were slicing into the thicknesses

We started with the thin ones – and they were delightful. All salty on the outside, but with the salt taste very distinctly on the outside. The people who rarely eat red meat thought it tasted like steak. I thought the wild boar had a delightful funk of liver. But there wasn’t any flavor I’d call gamey. And they just melted on the tongue delightfully. Sadly, thought, the block had not yet reached a temperature to give the meat a good sear.

meat. cooking on salt. it's kind of beige in the picture.

The middle thickness was not as pleasing. It ended up being a bit chewy. But then once it cooled, it developed a graininess that made it tender again.

By the thickest ones, we were getting a lovely caramelization while still retaining the juicy center. Also, we threw some asparagus on the salt, too.
just what the text says

Of everything we made, the asparagus was the most delicious! The outside could blister while the inside still hadn’t lost its crisp. The saltiness was perfect, and it needed no other seasoning.

Oh, right – other seasoning. We also tried some thick boar slices rubbed in Penzey’s Galena Street rub. Meh. Not only did the rub already contain salt (so not necessary with this cooking method – imparts mild saltiness, my ass (luckily, I love salt)), but also the pepper and paprika powders were not happy with the high heat and turned a little bitter. Don’t get me wrong – I still ate the meat and loved it, just not as much as the plain slices.

You can also see that we’re building up meat residue on the salt block. If we’d cooked much longer, it could have grown a bit off putting. Here’s what it looked like scraping the salt down after we’d finished with the boar.

Ewww meat crud

And then we moved on to chicken sausages, sliced mushrooms, and slices of onions (a brilliant last minute addition). Slicing the sausages into rounds proved to be a mistake because that was just too salty. But grilling intact ones was delicious. Even more delicious was wrapping them in dinner rolls and adding mushrooms and onions and a bit of mustard and calling it a hot dog.

foreground: sausage sandwich. My friend has also added ketchup, but I'm trying not to judge her for that. background: chicken sausages and mushroom slices grilling on the salt block

The mushroom slices were more exciting that expected. We didn’t cook them to a point where the were releasing a lot of liquid, but the outside got firm while the inside puffed a bit, and it was like biting into a tiny mushroom pillow.

And the onions were beautiful grilled onion slices, pulling up the meat juices from the previous grillings.

And then there were birthday cupcakes. (Using Nigella Lawson’s Victoria Sponge Cake recipe from How to Be a Domestic Goddess, topped with King Arthur Flour’s lemon pastry filling whisked with whipped cream). Not only a good dessert, but they also made a good breakfast the next day.

a while cooking rack full of cupcakes, with one special chosen one bearing a lit birthday candle

I have some wonderful friends.

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There’s a charcuterie challenge, #charcutepalooza, going on in the food blog community, and it has been a lovely source of inspiration. So I figured by the end of April that I’d toss my hat into the ring, too. (See – my name is even on the list) I want to be a cool kid!

Only I’m not so good with deadlines, you see.

And while I loved the premise for the May challenge (grinding), and I loved the detailed directions (seriously, those directions are clear, thorough, and a work of art), and I even had a couple pounds of extra lamb fat I’d cut out of the shoulder roasts for Passover – despite all that, May 15th came and went with no meat having been ground.

I’d ordered the Kitchenaid grinding and sausage stuffing attachments, but I’d ordered them in my pseudonym and was unable to convince the post office to actually give them to me. After a month of trying to retrieve them, they went back to the suppliers and I hadn’t the fortitude to try again (they were just sitting there three blocks away – totally out of reach). And I hadn’t made it back down to South Street to acquire more meat. And it ended up being a month of fairly tight finances (did I mention my sink exploded in April?).

But then! May 28th came, and meat was ground. But not the meat painstakingly explained in the directions. No, a totally different meat. No so good with directions, either. I’m sure you haven’t noticed, though.

See – my friend, Lulu, has plans to attend Pennsic (as do I). And we are interested in trying this baking bread in a dutch oven with a camp fire (and coals) thing. I have high hopes.

So she just bought her dutch oven, and we decided that the very first thing she should cook in it should be a pound of bacon, rapidly followed by a batch of biscuits! My friend Geeksdoitbetter offered up potatoes for home fries. And I said, “Erm… well, I’ve got this breafast sausage recipe, and they say it can work in a food processor… what do you have in the land of meat?” Turned out to be chicken. The game is on!



Chicken Breakfast Sausage

Snag 1 package (1.75lbs) of skinless, boneless chicken thighs from your friend’s freezer… (would that one could get the skin and fat without the bones, but I wasn’t purchasing the meat, so I wasn’t going to be picky).

Thaw over about 30 hours in the refrigerator – it should still be a bit crinkly with ice crystals around the edges, but cutting is no problem.

Cut it up into a dice. The instructions said 1 inch cubes, but I felt it worth being more cautious and went with a half inch dice.

Then I put it into a gallon freezer bag, smoothed it out into a thin flat layer, and popped it into the freezer and went to work.

La la la – end of work

Into a sturdy food processor, I added half of the chicken meat (having wiggled the bag a bit and separated the cubes), many generous shakes (not weighed, could have been more generous) of rubbed sage, some thyme, fresh ground black pepper, powdered garlic, table salt, and about a quarter cup of minced fresh parsley.

And it was horrifying to first turn on! It shook the counter as if it were a clothes washer with an unbalanced load. It was loud. And it clearly wasn’t right.

But I persisted. And I also walked away for a little bit to chat with friends. And then fairly soon, maybe 20 minutes later, it turned perfect. Still mostly frozen, and yet thawed enough to be easy to cut. The blades with through the meat, and it was perfect! Pop it open and make sure the bottom circulates with the top, grind again, and it’s looking like sausage!

Now I was worried about the lack of additional fat, so at the last minute I pulled out of the freezer my container of schmaltz. And I scooped small chunks into the food processor until I’d added between 1/8 and 1/4 cup. Process some more until they are broken up into rice-sized pieces.

And then I shaped and cooked up a test patty. And once that received acclaim, I made and cooked the rest – some of them were even made into biscuit sandwiches (which is really the best fate a sausage patty can hope for).

The second batch ended up with even more parsley… and there’s a delicate balance between freshness and some green, and your entire patty taking on a green tinge. Just saying. Also, I seemed to have been less generous with the spices the second time around and should not have been.

My friends loved them. Ecstatic. I thought they were a little bland.

But the three of us ate almost the entire package of meat, leaving over bacon, even though there were also potatoes and biscuits and filling things. I have a standing request to make them again.

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Growing up, Passover was one of 2.5 Jewish holidays my family would celebrate.

My uncle, while he was alive, was a strong presence leading the seder with charisma and a mischievous delight in tradition. After his death, my aunt was more thoughtful and pursued discussion and commentary. Passover was the time of year I spoke most openly about Judaism at my public school, taking in butter, matzoh, and salt, and sharing with my classmates. In college I learned even more about it during that one year I was dating someone more observant than I (and she has since gone on to become a rabbi). The first time I got drunk was at Passover, and I’ll still argue passionately in favor of the richness of the cheap, sweet, syrupy Passover wines of my youth (and have so argued on this blog).

It’s a holiday that has a strong emphasis on food. On problematic food. On being rushed and hurried and fleeing servitude so that bread could not rise. It’s a holiday of learning rules through food and exploring the Jewish way of reasoning from text to law through centuries of debate and logic. It’s about learning logical discourse and boolean algebra through food. And unlike my approach to gluten free cooking (bread? Whatever – let’s eat rice! And all sorts of things are fun without wheat!), this holiday requires that you deal with the matzoh. It’s not enough to eat leavened bread, but it is also required encouraged that you partake of the food that is problematic. And that leads to creativity and weirdness and often some rather dry and tasteless food.

But you know me, and creativity and weirdness are favorites of mine. I love this holiday, but I’ve never cooked for it before. I love this holiday, but I’ve never hosted it before. But now I have a house.

And I had a friend who pinged me and mentioned that she really, really liked matzoh and could there be acquiring of it? And I took that question and replied, “Well, I guess I could host Passover.”

So I invited some friends…

And had 21 RSVPs. Including my parents, jews and non-jews, the proudly child free and three children, people who keep kosher and people who only vaguely know that ham and cheese sandwiches are problematic, vegetarians and people who refuse to eat vegetables, and also the neighbor who has taken to asking for food from me (and her boyfriend).

From them, there were the following contributions: My mother made her signature chopped liver and brought a fruit bowl; Lulu brought coconut macaroons; Redwizz brought his secret family recipe charoset; another friend offered stuffed mushrooms and spinach kugel (but they ended up canceling); and my boss kindly dropped off her leftovers from the first night’s seder she hosted. All the rest was up to me. I did end up at the last minute get some amazing help from Geeksdoitbetter and Carrie, and the seder would not have gone nearly as well without their (especially Geeksdoitbetter’s) help.

Appetizers

mystery dip
So my boss’s husband makes a vegan mushroom/artichoke mousse mold thing to offer vegetarians instead of gefilte fish. I plan to get his recipe. But also included with their leftovers were little matzoh sticks, so I knew there had to be dip! This was my mother’s job. It was rapidly determined that either cream cheese or sour cream would be likely to overwhelm the delicate flavor of the mousse, so it was thinned with mayonnaise. Then, because it was dip, the flavor needed to be boosted a bit, so she added oregano, hot pepper, black pepper, and salt. The result was pretty tasty but not perfect.

chopped liver with little matzoh crackers

(not included were the pitted dates I split up the side and stuffed walnut quarters into. I was going to toss them in the over with honey, salt, and pepper, according to an ancient roman recipe, until just warm enough to be soft and pliable. Instead, a few were nibbled just stuffed.)

Seder

Charoset Okay, so my family’s recipe is hand cut apples with crumbled walnuts, cinnamon, and red wine. Redwizz’s family recipe is apples, dates, orange juice, almonds, and cinnamon, mixed in a food processor until it looks like mortar. Oddly, they don’t taste all that different, and his is easier to eat on matzoh (as well as being acceptable to those who do not imbibe).

First Course

I gave the diners a choice among potatoes (roasted leftovers from my boss – and surprisingly tasty), hard boiled eggs (using these directions from Coconut and Lime with great results), and gefilte fish from a can.

Second Course

Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls and/or Noodles – I make stock all the time. I make flavorful stock! And I had a bag of vegetable ends in desperate need of a round of stock making. What is more, when I was out in the Italian Market questing for chicken fat (which can not be found there!), I happened to be in line behind someone buying a quantity of chicken wings and asking for the tips to be thrown away, so I managed to acquire them for free. But I was using a larger pot than I’m used to, and even though I increased the amount of vegetables and spices accordingly, it still tasted like water after hours of cooking. Like water! So I ended up getting a (small) whole chicken just for the stock. And then it had flavor! But that was surprisingly stressful.

The matzoh balls were also a little scary. I was sure I could do it, but I kept being sure I could do it later and procrastinating it farther and farther off. Until Carrie showed up and offered to help, and I managed to talk her into making them even though she’d never seen nor tasted them before. I gave her all of the directions I’d accumulated from my grandmother (who made amazing ones) – use the recipe on the matzoh meal box and don’t handle them much) and set her to it. And they turned out a little dense, but they floated and were tasty

The noodles were storebought and standard. I’m glad I didn’t make them too far ahead because by the time the meal was over and we went to clean the pot they had turned into a gelatinous mess.

Main Course

I decided to go with both dairy and meat options (just nothing mixed) and let people choose their own adventures. I had also planned several parve/vegan dishes, but those (accidentally, I swear) ended up being the ones cut from the menu once it was clear there was plenty food.

Meat

Mark Bittman’s Braised Lamb with Horseradish and Parsley

I love that this dish incorporates food mentioned as historically relevant in the service, and I love that it’s braised – eliminating the holiday’s tendency toward dry meats. The lamb shoulder was sourced from Esposito’s, and they were willing to remove the bone and package it separately for me. They also had special seder plate lamb bone sections, but since I was already buying a lamb bone, I just went with the shoulder piece. I bought three shoulders – two in the 3 pound range and 1 in the 5 pound range. And there was a lot of painstaking trimming of fat from that cut that I’m not sure was necessary, but the end product was succulent and beautiful.

Right, so the first step was taking all of the bones, roasting them, and them adding them to a pot with some vegetables to make stock (and then cleaning them and roasting the three prettiest for the seder plate).

Then I took the huge dutch oven my mother bought me as a housewarming present (my first one of my own! At the time I wasn’t sure I’d use one that big, but I’ve already used it a lot) and browned the lamb cubes in batches, sprinkling with salt and pepper. Even with the olive oil, the lamb still stuck a bit – and I suspect it might have released if I’d waited for a proper sear, but I could not resist stirring the meat a good bit.

When I was on the last batch for browning and it was looking just about done, I added the slivered garlic and let that cook for a bit together. Then in went a glug of manischewitz concord grape (the recipe allows for white wine, but I love cooking with the manischewitz too much) and the lamb stock. And then the rest of the meat… which possibly should have gone in before the stock because I had to be very careful not to splash.

And I simmered the lamb for several hours and then didn’t add the peeled fresh horseradish (because I was scared and it was incredibly tasty without) until the last half hour of cooking, overnight, and the reheating on the day, but it didn’t end up changing the flavor much at all.

I almost forgot the parsley sauce, and few people used it – but I made it thick, with just a minimal amount of oil and vinegar (done by sight, so I have no measurements for you). It was delicious, and I’ve enjoyed using it up at leftovers – stirred into sour cream dip for chips and mixed in with egg salad)

Lemon Thyme Chicken

I feel a bit bad about this one. It has been so long since I’ve paid money for meat, that I’d planned to only spend money on ethical meat. And there I was at the farmers market staring at the $14/pound meat when this was already the most expensive meal I’d ever made and I’d been buying tables and chairs and a sink! And I walked away (after buying 4 dozen eggs) and bought cheap meat at the grocery store, where I bought enough thighs and breast meat to feed everyone for about $14. Next year I’ll do better.

Right, so step one was to peel and thickly slice an onion or two and to lay them in the bottom of the casserole dish (this adds moisture and keeps the meat from cooking to the dish, making cleanup easier).

Then I took a jar of pre-peeled garlic and shook enough into the dish to give more even coverage for the bottom – it doesn’t have to be perfect. And I tossed in about 10 oil-cured black olives to round out the flavor.

I arranged the chicken so that the thighs (with skin and fat) were around the outside and the breasts (skinless and cut into thigh-sized pieces, so three pieces per half) were filling in the center.

On top of that came freshly cut thyme (on the stem) and roughly-cut chunks of lemon. I usually make this dish with rosemary, so I used too little thyme to affect the chicken as much as I wanted, so in future I’d recommend really piling the stems on or/and also dusting with powdered thyme.

If you have more of the breast meat, you can also add a swig of wine and start the cooking process with aluminum foil over to keep it from drying. There were enough thighs (roughly half the meat) in this batch that no additional liquid was needed and it was fine uncovered. It went into the 350F oven right before we started reading, so let’s say it cooked for an hour and a half. I have, however, accidentally overcooked this dish by as much as an hour and had no ill effects or drying of the meat.

Dairy

Kale and Feta Matzoh Pie

This recipe was inspired by Gourmet’s Spinach and Matzoh Pie, but I was already supposed to have someone bringing spinach kugel and I love the more bitter greens. Really, this recipe was begging for some kale!

I bought three spring tops of curly kale from Landisdale Farm at the farmers market. The day before, I shredded the kale and cooked it down with a pinch of salt (so that I’d have more room in my refrigerator).

The next day, I assembled the lasagnas.

I mixed up a pound of fresh farmers cheese (from mexico, featured in my local supermarket… tasted like try, crumbly sour cream with a bit more culturing), 2 cups whole milk, 3 eggs, freshly ground nutmeg, and some salt and pepper, in a bowl with a fork. It was fine, even without the blender.

And I ended up with two casserole dishes almost exactly the size of a piece of matzoh, so I used one to soak the pieces in the 2 cups of the mixture while assembling in the other… and then just laid the rest of the pieces on top to assemble the second one. There didn’t seem to be any difference between the dish that had been oiled and the one that hadn’t when it came time to serve.

Then I finely diced an onion and reheated the cooked kale, squeezing out the moisture as I went. I also minced and threw in about a quarter cup of fresh dill.

Once the moisture was mostly evaporated, I stirred the kale into the remaining egg/dairy mixture and crumbled in a good half of the pound of feta I’d bought from my local halal.

Then I assembled: matzoh, filling, matzoh, filling, matzoh – matzoh, filling, matzoh, filling, matzoh. And I had just enough filling left to put a very thin layer on the top of both – perfection. And I crumbled almost all of the rest of the feta on top (let’s say 3 ounces per dish).

This was baked ahead and served only slightly warmed. It was delicious! I love the body of the kale in this, and I can’t image spinach being nearly as good.

It even freezes and reheats well! I love this dish! Such a success.

Greens and Quinoa Pie

This was my very first time tackling quinoa. I know that’s delinquent of me, but still. The grains were smaller than I expected, and there was no way they were going to be cooperative in a strainer for rinsing and draining – so I soaked them. Only then the toasting process was unfortunate, and I had to give up on that step. Perhaps toasting them dry and then soaking them next time.

So I cooked 3/4 of a cup of quinoa (because I’d eyeballed the amount and had no use for a quarter of a cup, so I went ahead and cooked it all) and set it aside until I was ready to deal with making the dish.

In my largest skillet, I cooked the romaine and some other lettuce-y head that was pale and spiky (but not frissee) and bitter enough to be related to chicory. Then I tossed them into a strainer in the sink and squeezed them occasionally as guests started trickling in and milling about the kitchen.

The last thing I did before settling people into the dining room to start the seder was to assemble the skillet of cooked onions, green onions, dill, cooked quinoa, and squeezed cut up lettuces.

Once we started taking turns reading the story of Passover, I sneaked back a couple times into the kitchen (and hid the afikomen) to get it cooked, the three eggs beaten and added, and the cheese – the remaining 2 ounces of feta and the last of the stichelton from my cheese tasting. And then I popped it into the 350F oven (in the skillet, not juggling the whole transfer to a pie plate) to finish cooking evenly.

It turned out pretty tasty, froze well, and received praise from the one guest who claimed to love quinoa. While filling and sturdy, I’m not sure it was exceptional enough to make next year.

Golden Gratin – Yam & Apricot Casserole (could have been vegan)

There is no good reason why this dish isn’t parve and vegan! No good reason! But for some reason the recipe is made for it to be meat, and there’s a tendency among the commenters to make it dairy, too. Having made it, I say that it would lose nothing from being vegan.

So you peel your orange-fleshed sweet potatoes or yams and cut them into chunks.

Then you make a base syrup out of apricot nectar (I was planning up substitute orange juice, but my coop just happened to have a bottle of apricot nectar across from the check out – and I just used the one bottle, which was less than 4 cups, but whatever)… and then the recipe calls for a cup of chicken broth. Why, recipe? Why? I happened to have a quart jar of oolong tea hanging out, so that was a perfect substitution. Other substitution options would be orange juice, white grape juice, water, or vegetable stock.

The recipe then called for 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted pareve margarine. I used 3 Tablespoons of butter because I don’t believe in margarine. Honestly? I could have skipped the butter entirely, and that might have improved the dish.

Then 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots. I had bought Turkish Apricots from nuttyguys.com on a Groupon without a purpose a while back, and they went into this. Geeksdoitbetter cut them into quarters (and she peeled the yams and washed the kale and did all kinds of things to make this dinner go).

So the apricots cook with the nectar and tea with some cinnamon and black pepper and then you add the yams and cover and cook until the yams are fork tender. At this point, I put them up until the next day.

I was careful to keep the chunks of sweet potato intact in the repackaging so they’d still be individual pieces the next day, and they were delicious.

On the next round, when I served the leftovers a few days later, I mashed them into a smooth yamy puree and topped them with a crumble topping of 1/4 cup rolled oats (not kosher for passover), 1/4 cup matzoh meal, 1/8 cup matzoh flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and as much olive oil and neccessary to get it the right amount of crumbly. Baked for 40 minutes, and it was de-light-ful. Well, it was a (potentially vegan, and it would have been fine) sweet potato casserole with a crumble topping – what’s not to love?

Parve / Vegan dishes

Asparagus

The Soup Vixen helped me acquire half a flat of asparagus from the Italian Market. I was going to roast them right before serving… and that didn’t happen. So now I have a pickling and canning project. Woo!

Dandelion Greens

Come on – what says bitter greens and spring time so much as dandelions? These were (again last minute, so didn’t happen) going to be quick sauteed with olive oil and vast quantities of garlic.

Carrot Casserole

These were going to be cut into coins in the food processor and baked with a little liquid (probably vegetable stock) and some za’atar seasoning. This was the first recipe to be abandoned because I found the golden gratin, but I still bought the carrots

Savory Red Pepper and Onion Matzo Brei (not vegan)

Also would have been tasty, but was a dish that sounded best made last minute.

Dessert

Coconut Macaroons

My friend has a quest to find the perfect coconut macaroon recipe, so I made doe eyes at her for many of them for Passover. And it worked – she made 4 batches.

Only there was an error in the handing down of the familial coconut macaroon recipe, and this try called for 2 egg whites per package of coconut (instead of the 1 called for by the condensed milk people)… and that made the recipe harder for her than it should have been. Apparently the extra egg pools out into eggy feet around the base of each macaroon, and she had to tear them off individually. (also, her dishwasher broke mid macaroon making)

That said, the macaroons were soft and sinfully delicious and way better that the dusty, dry ones from the boss’s Passover leftovers. I brought the leftover macaroons to work, and there was so much praise!

My friend, however, is still looking for an even more perfect recipe. The condensed milk flavor was more noticeable than she wanted and there was the egg issue, but the ease of the recipe was a big plus.

Walnut-Date Torte

Whooo! So my stand mixer is also new so me, so this was my first time whipping egg whites. It was amazing. It was a miracle that I didn’t eat the sugar/whipped egg white mixture with a spoon. I can see meringues in my future. Pavlovas with summer fruit.

Right, so the walnut stuffed date appetizers (which didn’t happen) and the dates for this cake were prepped at the same time. I just took my measuring cup and every time the date was dry or not pretty or didn’t split easily, it was cut into bits (quarters the long way, and then 4-5 slices down the length). I ended up with slightly over a cup and a half from that method, which was exactly what the recipe called for. Then I added the half a cup of boiling water and let it sit to hydrate.

For the walnuts, I just learned that the way that entry is written explicitly means you measure the 1 1/2 cups of walnuts, then toast them, and then chop them. Done!

And then I got out the food processor my sister got me (which I absolutely did not steal from KitchenMage) as a housewarming to chop the walnuts with 1/4 cup light brown sugar until finely ground. Then the recipe calls for 2/3 cup matzoh meal, but I’d misread the recipe before shopping and also bought matzoh flour for just this recipe, so I was determined to use it! So in went 1/3 cup matzoh meal and 1/3 cup matzoh flour, 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, and a pinch of salt.

Instead of orange zest, I just happened to have some orange peel soaking in water in my fridge awaiting accumulating enough to candy… so I minced up an eighth of a cup of blanched, soaking (so much milder than fresh) orange peel and added it to the dates. I really liked this change.

I beat the egg whites until the looked like they were thinking about peaks, and then I started slowly adding the remaining 1/2 cup white sugar. And the volume didn’t increase as much as I was expecting, so I might have beat slightly longer than requested, but they were holding stiff, glossy peaks and looking lovely when I did stop. They made that lovely crinkly sound when you fold into them.

But first – the 4 yolks get mixed into the dates and orange peel. First the dates were added to the egg whites and folded in, and then the nuts and flour were folded in. This was seriously one of the most delicious cake batters ever! (And I’m a devoted batter eater. I find the batter is almost always significantly tastier than the end product, and this was no exception).

I had enough batter for two medium (8″?) pie plates. It baked at 350F for 40 minutes until a toothpick came out clean (I didn’t notice the springing away from the edge of the pan phenomenon), and I served it in the pan.

It was okay and definitely decent on the first day.

By the second day, however, it was nice! You should definitely make this 1-3 days ahead. You know what was also nice? Drizzling it with cointreau! It’s in the good fruitcake family, and it does well being treated that way.

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9
Aug

3 salads in 36 hours!

   Posted by: Livia    in Recipe, salad

I’ve been thinking about BLTs ever since I ran across this BLT on a food blog.

And while I did stop by the supermarket and feel up the avocados, none of them were ripe enough to use tonight.

BLT inspired.

hot bit (part 1)
made bacon (I only had one slice thawed, so that’s all of the bacon. Just set it off to drain on paper towels for a bit)

cold bits
spring mix
2 scallions
1/4 – 1/2 yellow onion, sliced very thinly
2 small tomatoes (from my mother’s garden), quartered and sliced thinly
1.5 ounces of chevre

hot bit (part 2)
2 ounces leftover chicken breast, sliced (I ended up heating this under the broiler since I was also roasting veggies, but it could be cooked in residual bacon fat, if some were drained and wiped out)

Dressing
Grey Poupon
balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Manischewitz
1/4 tsp soy sauce

~*~

So there was bacon in that salad. And there are breakfast burritos. And so I was thinking, “Hey – there could be a breakfast salad.”

Breakfast Salad

hot bit (part 1)
boil 1 potato and 1 egg

hot bit (part 2)
make bacon (1.5 slices)

cold bit
spring mix
finely sliced onion
finely sliced tomato
finely sliced hot pepper

hot bit (unification)
slice potato & toss with 1 tsp olive oil and some salt
slice hard boiled egg
crumble bacon over top right before eating

dressing
leftover from the BLT salad

verdict – both the potato and the egg was a bit much. Either one could have been left off with no ill effect. But, hey, I’ve never made a breakfast salad before. :)

~*~

I’d been cobbling together odds and ends of my mismatched collection of condiments, and I spied my jar of blueberry jelly – as yet unmolested in my salad making adventures. So I started planning a blueberry salad. Now this one is weird, but trust me, it was tasty. I wasn’t even starving when I ate it, and it was still tasty.

Blueberry Salas

I started with the
dressing
3 Tablespoons of blueberry preserves
1/4 cup of white balsamic vinegar
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/4 tsp chinese mustard
3/4 tsp coriander chutney
1/2″ finely minced fresh ginger
a generous amount of ground cinnamon

and then I sliced
1 bosc pear into the dressing because I figured that blueberries wouldn’t provide enough body on their own, but I was worried about them softening/discoloring, so I let them sit in the vinegary dressing for a bit before adding them to the salad

cold bits
spring mix
1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise, and then into thin slices
1/4 onion, sliced thinly
1.5 ounces of chevre
about 1/2 a cup of blueberries

Add dressing

hot bit
dry toasted 1/3 cup of walnut pieces on the stove
Once they were all warm and toasty, I tossed them in a jar with some cinnamon
And then sprinkled most of them on the salad

All in all, it was every bit as awesome as I’d hoped.

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6
Aug

I like salads

   Posted by: Livia    in non-vegetarian, Recipe, salad, vegetarian

Okay, so I haven’t been giving you all recipes for salads, but let me tell you that I am loving them. I am a salad god. Or something like that. But I’ve been making a lot of salads lately, and they’ve all been pretty awesome… so now I’ll try to reconstruct them from (dubious) memory and my sketchy notes:

8/8/08
Cold Bit
spring mix
small bits of broccoli tops
1 Tbsp pickled ginger, patted dry
(would have also been good with some napa cabbage shreds here)

Hot Bit
thinly sliced baby carrots
thinly sliced purple onion
thinly slices garlic
thinly sliced broccoli stem
stir fried in 1/2 tsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp sesame oil, and San-J Szechuan sauce

Dressing
1/2 tsp chinese mustard (mixed up according to the directions on the bottle)
1 tsp black pepper sauce
juice of half a lime
1 tsp buckwheat honey
1/2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp black vinegar

~*~

8/1/08
Hot Bit (part 1)
cooked up one slice of bacon on the stove, set it in a paper towel, and drained the fat from the pan

Cold Bit
spring mix
1 diced jalepeno pepper
2 Tbsp blue cheese crumbles (oddly, this was a bit too much cheese – just 1 Tbsp for a more balanced flavor)
sun dried tomatoes
broccoli
grind of pepper

Hot Bit (part 2)
in same pan, cook:
sliced red onion
3 ounces of sliced leftover chicken breast

Dressing
juice of half a lime
2/3 tsp black pepper sauce
1/4 tsp buckwheat honey
5 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Grey Poupon mustard
1 tsp Manischewitz concord grape

~*~

7/26/08
Cold Bit
spring mix
baby carrots, sliced thinly on an angle
1 tomato, quartered and then sliced thinly
3 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, sliced

Dressing
salvaged bits from very, very ripe apricots
1 diced jalepeno pepper
2 finely sliced shallots
3 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
lime zest
(let the above sit a while, thinking they might become salsa… then realise the apricots have completely liquefied and should be salad dressing)
2 tsp Grey Poupon mustard
juice of 1 lime (already missing some zest)

~*~

7/7/08
Cold Bits
spring mix
salmon jerky (from Alaska)
thinly sliced red onion
1/2 avocado, sliced (and the rest eaten with a spoon and some more of the dressing – it was perfect)

Hot Bits
slight handful of slivered almonds, toasted

Dressing
juice of 1/2 lime
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp lime brown sugar (brown sugar with lime zest in it – lime bit optional)
1 tsp Grey Poupon mustard
1 Tbsp soy sauce
grate of nutmeg
pinch of chipotle

~*~

7/4/08
Cold Bits
spring mix!
a few baby carrots, sliced in half and then thinly lengthwise
2 scallions, sliced thinly into rounds
1/4 cup roasted red pepper, sliced roughly against the grain
1/4 cup sliced dried tomatoes

Hot Bits
2 Tbsp fried leeks
3 oz thinly sliced beef

Dressing
1 tsp tamarind-lime-honey sauce
1 tsp Grey Poupon mustard
4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
dash of 5 spice powder

~*~

6/26/08
Cold Bits
spring mix
several baby carrots, sliced thinly on an angle
1 very ripe banana, cut in half lengthwise, and then sliced
sections cut out from 1 orange

Hot Bits
4 oz leftover pork (having been cubed braised in taco seasoning and orange juice)

Dressing
5 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp tamarind-lime-honey sauce
2 tsp wildflower honey
1 tsp Grey Poupon mustard

Topping
1/4 cup roasted salted cashews
2 scallions, cut in rounds, but on a slight angle

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8
Jul

dinner?

   Posted by: Livia    in Food, lists

What should I have for dinner? I have a lot of points left (24, if that means anything to you), so I can be a little luxurious…

But I have kale.

And a bunch of collard greens so young and tender they are almost like spinach.

And I have some turkey meatballs (or I could thaw some turkey sausage fairly quickly).

Or chicken breasts are on sale this week.

And that’s looking a lot like my dinner Monday and not very extravagant…

so offer me some new ways to season or prepare my kale, so that it will be an indulgence. (Though no dairy-based dishes because I would need to buy most of that special, and I’m about to go out of town for two weeks).

(Dairy in the house includes cheddar, cream cheese, and parmesan)

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18
May

Fowl Chili

   Posted by: Livia    in Recipe, soup

I just made (what I thought was) a tasty chili.

Fowl Chili

Soak 1 cup of cow peas (because I had them hanging around my pantry from an experimental purchase – feel free to use kidney or some such)

In soup pot – saute 1 diced onion, 5 cloves coarsely minced garlic, and a dozen diced baby carrots in a little olive oil. Once it’s almost translucent, add 2-3 teaspoons of ground cumin and cook a couple more minutes.

Add the drained peas. And at this point, I added some duck stock because that’s what I had made most recently. Feel free to use chicken stock. Ummm… about 10 cups… well, as much as my pot would hold.

I also added 1 link of turkey sausage (frozen) and one chicken breast (frozen). Then I left that over medium heat while I ran a couple very quick errands. When I came back, I pulled out the mostly-cooked breast, sliced t, and then returned it to the pot.

At the point I added herbs: a few sprigs of fresh fennel, fresh marjoram, and fresh savory – all minced. 2 teaspoons of ground oregano, 2 teaspoons of Penzey’s chili powder (which ended up making it plenty hot because I let the soup cook a long time), 2 generous (but not quite heaping) teaspoons of regular paprika, just a pea-sized amount of smoked paprika, and a pinch of sugar.

I added some leftover dark meat from a roast chicken. And once it was thorought ly cooked and not going to crumble, I sliced the turkey sausage.

I finished the soup off with a teaspoon of flour mixed with lukewarm water (shaken together in a jam jar is the easiest way) – this thickens slightly, but it also really makes the taste smoother.

I had originally planned to add a can of tomatoes, but the soup was very tasty without, so I didn’t mess with it.

Served with fresh bread and a large dollop of sour cream to cut the heat.

(It ended up cooking for 10 hours)

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19
Feb

Have another food list – Mexican Corn Soup

   Posted by: Livia    in Food, lists, Recipe, soup

food I have
Produce
1 grapefruit
oranges
2 tomatoes (1 urgent)
3 roasted bell peppers
2-3 bell peppers (yellow & red)
broccoli
mixed small lettuces

Dairy
3/4 container of sour cream
1% milk
1/2 pint heavy cream
goat cheese

Starch
1/3 loaf of brown bread (ETA: just heels left)
1/2 round of pumpernickel
small amount of leftover white rice

Protein
carnitas
some leftover cooked chicken (from the breasts marinated in peaches & cowboy rub)

Miscellaneous
some prepared enchiladas that need to be baked
sauce to go with them

meals
Tuesday, February 19 *done*
take 1 link of turkey sausage from freezer to thaw.
take container of small cut pork from freezer to thaw (with black bean & pepper sauce?)
put enchiladas into the freezer
Make a sandwich with chicken leftovers, tomato, and lettuce (and goat cheese?)

Wednesday, February 20 *done*
make a “bread pudding” with some of the pumpernickel bread, eggs, cream, cheese, tomato, and grilled turkey sausage with onions and peppers. Possibly bacon, too. With a little side salad, of course.
*freeze some of this for lunches*

Thursday, February 21 *done*
stir fry of pork, broccoli, onion, and peppers over rice.

Friday, February 22
leftover rice needs to be used up. So do carnitas. Would it be sacrilege to dump them together with cream of chicken soup? Probably. So it would be slightly more respectable to… make burritos! with lots of cheese and sour cream – and maybe a zucchini. And all the rest of the lettuce.

plus bonus recipe – Mexican corn soup
Oh, and I almost forgot to give you the recipe for the soup I made the other day.

If you remember, I had some stock with tomato paste mixed in (let’s say a 3-4 cups of stock with 1/2 a little can of paste).

I also had some liquid I had drained out of the carnitas at the very last minute because I didn’t have the nerve to see what happened to my cooking pot, if I let the pork get completely dry. This was only about 1 cup of lovely pork/citrus/spices essence.

So I went looking in my Mexican cookbook, and found a recipe for corn soup I could use as a starting point.

So I boiled the stock/tomato paste mixture for 20 minutes to kill any bacteria.

Then I combined in a blender:

  • 1 onion, cooked down in some of the fat skimmed from the pork liquid (there wasn’t much, really – I was using pork loin instead of the fattier cuts the carnitas recipe recommends) and then seasoned with paprika
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 tomatoes, peeled and seeded
  • enough stock to make everything juicy and blending smoothly

In a saucepan, I think combined:

  • everything from the blender
  • the rest of the stock
  • salt & pepper

If I were following the recipe, I would now add 1/2 a cup (a whole cup? I don’t remember) of heavy cream. But since most of this would be going into the refrigerator and getting reheated, I decided to add the cream right before serving. And then I found that lumps of sour cream were more satisfying than cream.

I also considered adding chicken at that time, but I ended up also just adding cut up chicken to the bowls while reheating so that I could have the option to swap in carnitas instead of chicken (though I never for around to trying that). It was also a good soup without meat.

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23
Jan

Chicken stock and swine flesh

   Posted by: Livia    in Food, lists, non-vegetarian, Recipe

I think I might be back to eating food like normal. Woo!

And since I have more energy, I am getting back into the swing of cooking.

This morning I threw together some ingredients that were starting to worry me (roast chicken leftovers, tail end of a jar of salsa) with a rice mix and cooked then thoroughly. Then I tossed in a can of kidney beans and a can of corn. Those were all packed up into containers for lunches.

Yesterday, I started a pot of chicken stock. This morning I finished it and strained it into containers.

Tonight (or tomorrow morning), I shall cut the pork loin in my fridge into 2 roasts and a pile of chunks. Then it and some of the stock will either go toward goulash or carnitas. I have all of the ingredients for both except for the (optional) orange for the zest in the carnitas recipe.

Maybe soon I’ll go buy some vegetables. Hmmm – I should check the few remaining vegetables in my fridge for whether they need to go in the compost pile or whether they’ll still be good for eating.

Shopping List
orange(s)
lettuce
tomato(es), if tasty smelling
limes
bread
milk

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11
Dec

food list

   Posted by: Livia    in Food, lists

I had people over at my house this weekend, so now I have a weird set of food to figure out.

Produce
collard greens (possibly getting too old)
4 apples
potatoes
1 pomegranate
jalepeno peppers
lemons
1 aging lime
grape tomatoes
4 winter Roma tomatoes
innards of a roasted acorn squash

dairy
whole milk
tzatziki sauce
onion dip
sour cream (unopened, so that’ll keep)
scallion cream cheese
1/2 a round of goat cheese brie

meat
2 packages chicken breasts
chicken/duck stock
2 dozen eggs (they were cute little pullet eggs)

bread
homemade pita chips of awesome
leftover potato chips
peppermint oreos
crackers

miscellaneous
hummus
eggplant dip of awesome
tasty herbed mayonnaise
half an opened can of tahini
2 containers of indian stuff I can’t identify

Can I turn this stuff into food?

– So the eggplant dip – there’s a lot pint of it. It was a whole eggplant, roasted, and then pureed with spices. I don’t think I want to eat it as dip. So I have some cubes of roasted lamb in the freezer. And I was thinking egg noodles with that… but now I’m thinking mashed potatoes and shepherd’s pie. Possibly there should be mushrooms in that dish.

– Chicken breasts. With pomegranate? And lemon? If I roast chicken breasts with pomegranate in my white casserole dishes, will they stain? Is there anything else from this list that can go in that dish? Yes to a jalepeno pepper. No to tomatoes. Maybes to the apples, the acorn squash, and the collard greens.

– Hummus and/or tahini. Given that I will not be frying up falafel, what else is hummus good for? Right – pita chips.

– apples and goat cheese… salad?

– pesto risotto (using the stock!) with roasted grape tomatoes. I’d need to buy parmesan cheese.

– chicken raft

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