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OMG food!

I bought and made so much food this weekend.

First, there was the farmers’ market out by my parents’, which I had to go to because I’d bought very promising looking butter there last weekend, but found it had gone off, when I tried it as soon as I got home. So I took it back in hopes of swapping for fresher butter, but they hadn’t made any this past week – so I swapped for two butternut squash, instead. And I bought a 4 pound sweet roasting squash on impulse.

And then I bought stuff for the Roman cooking workshop. And some broccoli rabe that looked gorgeous. And what’s a couple (or 7) beets for a buck?

So then I met up with my parents so we could try breakfast at an “authentic British pub”. And, yes, they had sourced the right kind of bacon and there was both black and white pudding. And beans from a can. But the eggs were standard tasteless American eggs and there was no grilled tomato… and the tea was only halfway in between the two countries’. I may sound a little down on it, but that’s less because of the quality of the food and more because the entire breakfast run had only one waitress, so the food wasn’t quite as hot as it could have been.

And then my parents wanted to go to a large, indoor farmers’ market. And there was a gorgeous, large, pristine, beautiful head of cauliflower. Locally picked. And some huge white mushrooms picked locally the day before. And we split 3 dozen eggs (I only took one of them) from happy, pasture raised chickens (with flavor!).

And then… just to tempt me further, they wanted to stop and show me their new fancy supermarket, which was very much like a small, off-brand whole foods. I bought an environment-friendly dish soap so that I can finally declare the Dr. Bronner’s experiment a failure. And then I binged on comforting grains – two kinds of oatmeal and some barley. Also, for you doubters of the corporate benefits of social media – I totally impulse bought an unnecessary jar of salsa because I enjoy following the guy’s twitter feed.

Then I went home.


I had completely run out of frozen leftovers for lunch, so last week I had made some desperate bulk quantities of dinner food:

  • leftover pasta salad suddenly turned into dinners
  • mexican-ish rice with chicken and beans
  • macaroni with (homemade) pesto, chicken, and zucchini

You don’t want recipes for those, do you?

This week – There was the Roman Cooking workshop.

We made a pork loin roast boiled in salt water and bay leaves (now I’ve heard of brining, but there was no mention of roasting this meat or any cooking method other than boiling. So I left it in until it started to shred, but I pulled it out then because it was already quite salty. It makes an okay sandwich with mayonnaise (almost tasting like canned chicken). But this morning I started a pot of red beans on the stove, and I used the pork with no additional salt for the beans.

And then we make the barley stew with pork – it turned out almost like risotto, and despite only having two people come to the workshop, there were no leftovers. I might need to make it again soon.

The mushrooms were very tasty (as almost always) and made a great companion to the barley.

Because it wasn’t entirely clear whether the cabbage was to be made with fresh cilantro or dried coriander seeds, I did each half differently – there was a preference for the coriander, but neither one was really exciting, and I do have a lot of leftovers for those. I’ll need to think of a way to repurpose it into something that will freeze.

The fried carrots in wine and fish sauce smelled like ass – fishy ass – while cooking, but ended up tasty enough that I didn’t get to try the finish product.

And then I was pretty much done, especially with only having two people over. SO I handed over the book, and let them select the last recipe. And sweet egg cakes were chosen. Well, it was 4 eggs to 1/2 a pint of milk (with an ounce of oil) to be cooked in a shallow pan (I don’t have the recipe in front of me for the specifics, but it was distinctly not supposed to be custard because that was the recipe above). Because the mixture was so thin and I happened to have a brand new nonstick skillet, I suggested that we could pour many thin layers and treat them as crepes. While not a single one was removed as a flat sheet, we kind of had to bundle it together into a central pile to move it successfully. Oh, and then it’s dressed with honey and black pepper before serving – and it is some tasty! Well chosen!


And then after they left on Sunday, I made two more dinners that I could pack up for lunches:

  • >Smitten Kitchen’s pasta with Cauliflower, walnuts, and feta – for which I did substitute regular pasta for whole wheat because I have boxes sitting around that I’m using up before I buy more pasta – and I’m not 100% sure that either the walnuts or the feta will take well to freezing, but the recipe was too tempting to pass up. I did taste a small portion that was didn’t fit evenly into the containers, and it was amazing fresh. I’d almost forgotten the few drops of lemon juice and vinegar (apple cider), but they really brought the flavors together.
  • gobhi bharta – inspired by the recipe in my favorite Indian cookbook, but then I took a left turn with the seasonings when I saw an opportunity to use up more of my mother’s extraneous Penzey’s spice mixes – so I used Rogan Josh seasoning, with sumac instead or pomegranate powder for tartness, and some extra hot pepper. The recipe also called for mustard seeds, so I toasted them in a little bit of my mustard oil I keep meaning to experiment with more. For all of that, it still wasn’t particularly strongly flavored, and it might have been a mistake to put up with rice, but I’d started making it when I started cooking, and I didn’t want to have to think up another use for it.

And then this morning I made one more: pasta with stuff

First, I cooked down a diced purple onion, 2 large mushrooms having been diced, and a bunch of (homemade) turkey meatballs I have in my freezer. Once everything was softer and the meatballs were browner, I splashed some sweet red wine in the pan.

As soon as the pan was dry again, I added 2 small-medium zucchini and some cauliflower (all diced small). Cook cook cook. As soon as it started to soften, I poured in 1/3 cup pasta sauce from a jar. Stir, cook, cook. And then I added macaroni (the pasta box in front, not my first choice of shape) and another 1/3 cup of sauce. And then I took it up into containers. Would be good with cheese.

Oh, and I also did laundry this morning.

And then I pondered whether I wanted to make another set of lunches or whether I wanted to start turning over dirt for restructuring the flower bed out back. And I decided to take a nap, instead.

Now I want soup, and tea, and hot chocolate. And another nap.

I think I’m going to use the remaining stock to make risotto to use up all the surplus mushrooms, so I need to also put on more stock so I can make soup with some of these winter squashes.

I also need to make the brussel sprout and beef stir fry before the bussel sprouts go off.

And I need to figure out something to do with the beautiful broccoli rabe before it starts to taste like nail varnish remover, like the last few bunches I bought did because I didn’t use them right away.

Anyone want to come over for random dinners at 10pm this week?

Brainstorming – roman cooking recipes

Okay, so here’s a tentative list of dishes I could make for the Roman Cooking Workshop I’m hosting on October 25.

All recipes are from the Flower and Rosenbaum translation of Apicius.

liber VIII Tetrapus; I in apro; 2 aliter in apro
Boar, another method

boil the boar in sea-water* with sprigs of laurel until it is tender. Take off the skin. Serve with salt, mustard, and vinegar.

*Cato (De Agricultura, 106) gives
directions for the treatment of sea-water: “Take 6 gallons of sea-water from the deep sea, where no fresh-water comes in. Pound 1.5 lb of salt, put it in, and stir with a stick until a boiled hen’s egg will float on it, then stop mixing. Add 12 pints old wine,

So I’ve made carnitas, but I’ve never brined a pork roast. I have had great success with using pork loins in carnitas even though they have less fat than the recommended recipe. But, if I’m going to cook off most of the water for maximum flavor and shred-ability, I probably want to cut back on the salt and just make a mild saline solution to put the bay leaves in. Since I already have a pork loin in my freezer, this recipe will definitely be made.

liber VII Polyteles; xv fungi farnei vel boleti; 6 boletos aliter
Mushrooms, another method

Chop the stalks, place in a new shallow pan, having added pepper, lovage, and a little honey. Blend with liquamen, add a little oil. [Cook.]

For those just turning in, liquamen is a salty fermented fish sauce.

I’d need to buy mushrooms, and since I have nothing planned for the caps, we might as well make this out of whole mushrooms.

liber IV Pandecter; iii minutal de piscibus vel isiis; 6. minutal ex praecoques
fricasse with apricots

Put in the saucepan oil, liquamen, wine, chop in dry shallot, add diced shoulder of pork cooked previously. When all this is cooked pound pepper, cumin, dried mint, and dill, moisten with honey, liquamen, passum, a little vinegar, and some of the cooking-liquor; mix well. Add the stoned apricots. Bring to the boil, and let it boil until done. Crumble pastry to bind. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.

I’d use dried apricots, but all of the wet cooking should do well by them. And I just happen to have diced shoulder of pork cooked previously already sitting in my freezer. I’ll have to see if there is any mint left growing. I do not think I have dill.

liber IV Pandecter; ii patinae piscium holerum pomorum; 37. patina de cydoneis
patina of quinces

stew quinces with leeks in honey, liquamen, oil, and defrutum and serve; or boil with [just a little water and then very slowly in] honey.

If I can find quinces at the farmers’ market this weekend, I am totally trying this.

liber IV Pandecter; ii patinae piscium holerum pomorum; 2. aliter patina versatilis
translated as turnover. *sceptical face*

toast pine kernels and chopped nuts, pound with honey, pepper, liquamen, milk, and eggs. [cook in] a little oil

I have a lot of pine nuts in my freezer. And I have pecans and almonds (and maybe some walnuts). I’d have to buy milk.

liber III Cepuros; XXI Caroetae seu Pastinacae; 1. Caroetae frectae and 2. Aliter caroetas
Fried carrots and Another method

fried carrots – serve with a mixture of wine and liquamen
another method – [serve raw?] with salt, pure oil, and vinegar

I’d need to buy fresh carrots, and since none of the recipes in the section mentioned pasnips specifically, I could probably use a mixture of the two for the cooked one. For the second one, I’m thinking of shredding the raw carrots.

liber III Cepuros; ix cymas et cauliculos; 2. aliter
Another method

Boil and halve the cabbages, mince the tender parts of the leaves with coriander, onion, cumin, pepper, passum or caroenum, and a little oil

Since you are boiling it whole, I’m thinking more like blanching would be best.

Chicken Marsala-ish

So I had a hankering for Chicken Marsala… but no marsala wine. But that’s not the sort of thing I let stop me.

I looked up several recipes for chicken marsala and them left them all at work and tried to recreate the plan from memory.

Also, I did not see the need to buy marsala. After all, if you need fortified wine, what could be better than Manischewitz?

So I glugged a bunch of oil into a pan and fried thinly sliced chicken, which had been dredged in lightly seasoned flour.

Then, about halfway through, I realised that I should have sauteed in less oil so that it would make a nice gravy base.

So after the frying was done and the chicken was draining on paper towels, I pulled out another large pan and scooped up as much of the floury dregs from the bottom as I could and used that to fry onion and mushrooms.

(note: It was useful here to cook up three breast instead of the two I really needed because it was impossible not to sneak hot fried chicken breast bits while fiddling with the rest)

Once the mushrooms had cooked to the point where they released oil back out, I dabbed some up with a paper towel. Then the chicken went back in and I glugged a bunch of Manischewitz over all… And added the garlic (3 large cloves, chopped). Lots of pepper, salt, and a good bit of powdered thyme went in – with a dash of worcestershire sauce and a drop of browning sauce.

More cooking.

And then [redacted] lobbied for a splash of milk (ended up being light cream) to loosen things up a little more.

We ate it over mashed potatoes with cooked spinach and garlic on the side – very tasty. (very rich, too)

Carrot and Ginger Soup & Mediterranean Lemon Chicken

I made two tasty things this weekend, and I don’t think I have posted these recipes before. Both were inspired by fairly different dishes at restaurants.

Carrot and Ginger Soup
based on the Carrot and Ginger Soup at the Hershey Hotel buffet lunch… their soup was smooth and creamy and the sort of thing where the directions tell you after cooking to put everything through a processor and strain it. I so don’t understand why people think it is such a good idea to transfer boiling hot soup through several different containers and processes, so this one all went into a Cuisinart (because the kitchen I was using had one!) before being added to the soup.

Step 1: Soak a cube of Knorr’s vegetable bouillon in 2 cups of hot water. (Or have real stock available, but we didn’t at the time.)

Step 2: Melt butter in stockpot (minimum of 2oz, but feel free to add a lot more). Chop 2 medium onions in Cuisinart and 1 clove of garlic (only 1 because I don’t think the original soup had any, but I found myself unable to make savoury food without any garlic). Dump onions into pot and rinse the Cuisinart.

Step 3: Peel carrots (7? A bagful? A bunch o’carrots) and put them in the processor (ETA: in retrospect, it would be better to precess the carrots after. There were tiny grainy bits (that weren’t a bit deal but could be improved) in the final product). Peel ginger (1.5-2 inches), slice it against the grain to break up the fibers, and put that in the processor. Dump into the pot. Stir around to just fry it all in fat a bit and then add the stock/bouillon.

Step 4: peel half a normal-sized sweet potato (or one small one), put it in the processor, and then add it to the soup for smoothness. Peel, process, and add one apple, too.

Step 5: Let cook covered until there is no resistance on your tongue.

Step 6: Reduce heat, and finish off with whole milk and/or cream until it looks sexy to you.


Mediterranean Lemon Chicken
inspired by those Moroccan nine-course dinner places with belly dancers… usually one course is really sexy chicken, and this is the closest I can get to the flavour.

Garlic – as much as will – a minimum of 3 pods, but one of those large jars of peeled garlic cloves will be very useful here
3-5 lemons
chicken parts
white wine
(olive oil)
8-10 olives (not in vinegar, not in cans, and not in jars either – go somewhere with a fancy olive bar and look for wrinkly black olives in oil that smell dark and musky – they should add a nice flavour to the chicken without making it olivey)
optional fresh herbs (rosemary works well, and you only get to pick one herb and stick with it for the dish)

Choose a casserole dish that will fit your chicken pieces laid out flat – and deep enough to hold juices.

Cover the bottom of the casserole dish with peeled garlic cloves. No, that’s not enough, I said *cover* the bottom – 1 solid layer.

Put chicken in dish. If you are using both dark and white meat, but the white meat to the center and the dark meat around the outside (and, I have a theory that if you are doing both, the dark meat should be pulled from the fridge and the breasts from the freezer, but I haven’t tested that theory yet).

Scatter olives evenly among the meat.

Slice the lemons into slices of any thickness, leaving the ends chunky. cover the surface with lemon slices and put the ends around the edges of the dish.

If you want, take some herbs, still on the stems, and just lay them over the chicken and tuck them under some of the lemon slices.

Add a little white wine to give it some juice as it starts cooking, but no more than will cover the layer of garlic.

If your meat is predominantly white meat, then drizzle some olive oil over the top as well.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake until it is cooked. If you have all thighs, then you might need to check it halfway through and see how the level of liquid is doing… you might need to drain some. After it is cooked though, uncover it, and let it go a few more minutes to get some color.

Furthermore, these dishes have been given the AprilKat seal of approval.

Greekish Eggplant

This was a thought experiment. I can’t remember whether I actually made this.

Greek-ish Eggplant (not served at moot)

2 medium eggplants, trimmed, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon salt
2 medium-size red bell peppers
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1-2 canned tomatoes
3/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

(maybe olives, but in a removable format)

Dice eggplant.

Roast peppers. Peel and seed peppers; cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips and set aside.

Heat 6 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until light golden, about 10 minutes. Mix in garlic. Add eggplant, tomatoes, half of parsley, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon pepper, sugar, oregano, and cumin. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Add bell peppers and olives; cook uncovered 10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Chill. Rewarm before continuing.)

Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.