Thursday

TWENTY-NINE : ROASTED PARSNIPS & SWEET POTATOES W/ CAPER VINAIGRETTE

PLENTY
DECEMBER 13 2012

TWENTY-NINE : ROASTED PARSNIPS & SWEET POTATOES W/ CAPER VINAIGRETTE

Hello dear reader! I find I have been suffering a lack of enthusiasm for this blog the last few months and you may have noticed a looooonnnngg stretch without a post. During this downtime, I have made a few dishes from Plenty but simply failed to write up my experiences. I am determined to get back on track! So in the next few days I will try to catch up. Don't worry... there are only a few recipes to discuss so I won't be filling up your inbox or flooding your facebook feed. But bear with me as I drag us back to 2012 for a few days.


TWENTY-EIGHT : STUFFED ONIONS

PLENTY
NOVEMBER 22 2012

TWENTY-EIGHT : STUFFED ONIONS

As anyone who knows me can attest, I have no problem spending hours or even days on a ridiculously complicated recipe with 87 steps and 41 ingredients. Case in point, the insane Peking Duck recipe from Lucky Peach, fully described here by another crazy person willing to go the distance. But, there has to be some kind of payoff for all the invested effort and time. Unfortunately, some of Mr. O's recipes ask me to put myself through the ringer but just don't deliver. One example is this ridiculous herbed rice which had more steps than I even care to recount yet tasted like rice with lots of herbs stirred in. These stuffed onions are another example of wasted effort as I will explain.

Tuesday

TWENTY-SEVEN : QUINOA SALAD W/ DRIED PERSIAN LIME

PLENTY
NOVEMBER 20 2012

TWENTY-SEVEN : QUINOA SALAD W/ DRIED PERSIAN LIME

It is extremely dangerous for me to shop at Barbur World Foods. I go in to buy bread and come out with za'atar or preserved lemon or aleppo pepper. And I usually have no plan or even idea of how to use these items. In fact, these dried Persian limes have been sitting in my cupboard for years, completely untouched. Until now!




I was thrilled to find that one of Mr. O's recipes features dried Persian limes and I can't wait to use them. He is right in saying that turning these suckers into powder is "difficult to achieve because the limes are rock hard". As I'm breaking them into pieces to stuff into the coffee/spice grinder, I actually give myself a "dried-lime cut"... which is worse than a paper cut because the edges are all jagged and tangy. But it will all be worth it!




Now comes some sweet potato vs yam confusion. I bought said sweet potatoes which, once peeled, reveal themselves to be basically white. But Mr O's photos show a dark orange vegetable tossed in the salad. I think he used yams! Or different, orange-colored sweet potatoes? Aaaah... I'm so confused! The orange ones would look prettier... but I think they basically taste the same so oh well.






It's a pretty good salad. The dried lime powder ads a nice floral note and complements the earthy quinoa. Not sure why it has rice and quinoa... but still tasty! I'll have to research some more ways to use those dried limes cause I've still got most of the bag left.

Sunday

TWENTY-SIX : SMOKY FRITATTA

PLENTY
NOVEMBER 18 2012

TWENTY-SIX : SMOKY FRITATTA




Doesn't that look good?!? Bubbly cheese, crispy around the edges. Warm and comforting. We were a bit wild last night and this looks like exactly what I need to shake it off and start a new day. First I need a bloody mary and then let's get cookin'!

Wednesday

TWENTY-FIVE : EGG, SPINACH AND PECORINO PIZZA

PLENTY
NOVEMBER 14 2012

TWENTY-FIVE : EGG, SPINACH AND PECORINO PIZZA

PIZZA PARTY! One of my favorite things is pizza and I love inviting friends over and trying fun, new topping combinations. The hardest part has always been the crust, though. Over the years, I've tried a bunch of recipes but had yet to find one that makes really airy, bubbly, "artisan" crust. I had one that made pretty darn good crust but it took kneading and multiple rises and two or three days in the fridge to make it work. Based on these past experiences with pizza crust recipes, I had a feeling that Mr. O's pizza dough would be fine, but not epic. And I want EPIC! So I chose to follow a "no knead" recipe instead... and man am I glad I did!

This crust is amazing... and so easy! I used "Jim Lahey's No Knead Pizza Dough" recipe from Serious Eats for fantastic results. I would say it's a bit of a stretch (pun intended) to make 4 pizzas from this recipe. They end up rather small. So, I would amend this recipe to say it makes 4 small or 3 medium pizzas.


"no-knead" dough. amazing!



Friday

TWENTY-THREE & TWENTY-FOUR : HAM PARTY!

PLENTY
NOVEMBER 02 2012

TWENTY-THREE : EGGPLANT CROQUETTES
TWENTY-FOUR : QUINOA & GRILLED SOURDOUGH SALAD

It's Friday night and I'm cooking up a ham the size of my head! The big boy, slathered in a mix of jalapeno jelly and whole-grain mustard, has been slowly baking for the last couple of hours and requires little attention. So I can focus on the other dishes while keeping an eye on the Blazer game. I'm planning to greet my dinner guests with hot, crispy eggplant croquettes then serve the ham with mashed potatoes, sauteed kale, Mr. O's Quinoa & Grilled Sourdough Salad and lots o' wine.

The croquettes worry me because I never deep-fry at home. Don't get me wrong, I really, really love fried foods, but I just know I'll run into trouble... grease splatters, left-over oil to deal with, realizing how easy it is and eating everything breaded and fried from now on. But tonight, it's on! First I need to blacken the eggplant but the broiler isn't really getting the job done so I transfer them out to the grill. The recipe calls for "4 medium eggplant"; I had two small ones from the garden and bulked them up with another three from the store.


garden eggplants in the front

Thursday

TWENTY-TWO : CHICKPEA SAUTÉ WITH GREEK YOGURT

PLENTY
NOVEMBER 01 2012

TWENTY-TWO : CHICKPEA SAUTÉ WITH GREEK YOGURT

Here is a really simple and quite tasty recipe that works great as a side dish, as I did today, or could be a main meal over rice. I used it to complement some green chicken marsala with garden-fresh potato. In fact, along with the potato in the marsala, the carrot and chard from the sauté were also from the garden (yay!).

Luckily I had some cooked chickpeas stashed in the freezer so I didn't have to a: deal with that step or b: used canned chickpeas. Plus, I've been trying to make myself use stuff from the freezer because I have trouble throwing anything away and so the freezer is nearly overflowing.


beautiful rainbow chard




Saturday

TWENTY-ONE : SURPRISE TATIN

PLENTY
OCTOBER 27 2012

TWENTY-ONE : SURPRISE TATIN

I had to look this up, but a tatin is "a caramelized tart that is baked with pastry on top and then inverted for serving". Sounds complicated! And it kind of is although turned out to be way, way easier to deal with than I expected.

First important thing to point out is that some of the potato in this tatin came from our garden! Sometime this spring, I pushed a couple sprouting red potatoes into the ground and they magically transformed into seven potatoes, some of them huge!



garden potatoes!

Sunday

TWENTY : HERB-STUFFED TOMATOES

PLENTY
OCTOBER 21 2012

TWENTY : HERB-STUFFED TOMATOES

TOMATOES! I have so many tomatoes! What to do with them? There's no possible way to eat them all before they go bad. Especially since I don't really like fresh tomatoes. I know most people think raw tomatoes are sweet and luscious, but I find them rather bitter and most of the big, beefy ones have an off-putting ammonia aroma. I do enjoy the occasional BLT and, admittedly, did enthusiastically devour Mr. O's Marinated Mozzarella & Tomato salad last month. But mostly I prefer my tomatoes cooked and could slurp down tomato soups or pasta sauce all day long. I mean I seriously still dream about Frankie's slow-simmered Sunday Sauce and will undoubtedly be making another big batch sometime this winter.


tomato overload! still figuring out what to do with the green ones. pickles, perhaps?



Wednesday

NINETEEN : BARLEY & POMEGRANATE SALAD

PLENTY
OCTOBER 3 2012

NINETEEN : BARLEY & POMEGRANATE SALAD

Be honest... do any of you actually buy pomegranates? Despite their tastiness, I never do because they are so darn frustrating to eat! But Mr. O has changed everything with his surprisingly effective (and really quite fun) method of extracting the seeds safely from the intricate membranes. Simply halve the pomegranate, hold it in your palm, cut side down, over a bowl and whack the crap out of it. And the seeds immediately start cascading through your fingers and into the waiting bowl. Had a frustrating day at work? Maybe you need to seed some pomegranates to get out that aggression!


WHACK!



Tuesday

EIGHTEEN : SWEET CORN POLENTA WITH EGGPLANT SAUCE

PLENTY
SEPTEMBER 25 2012

EIGHTEEN : SWEET CORN POLENTA WITH EGGPLANT SAUCE

We grew corn this year, for the very first time, and it was insanely good. Our little square of rustling stalks were waaaay above our knees by the 4th of July, the most ambitious plants reaching up to tickle my chin. But we worried they wouldn't produce since we only had 12 plants (three rows of four) and corn is "open-wind pollinated and needs neighboring corn plants for good formulation of well-filled ears of corn". Our concerns, it turned out, were unfounded and the cobs grew fat and sweet. One day, we suddenly realized the corn was ripe and we should be eating it. So I pulled a few cobs off the plants, took three steps and dropped them right onto the grill to cook. So good! Sweet, earthy and amazingly fresh.


Sunday

SEVENTEEN : MARINATED BUFFALO MOZZARELLA AND TOMATO

PLENTY
SEPTEMBER 19 2012

SEVENTEEN : MARINATED BUFFALO MOZZARELLA AND TOMATO

We all are familiar with this equation: summer = tomatoes = caprese salad

Mr. O takes this classic combination of soft mozzarella, ripe tomato and fresh basil to a new level by massaging the mozzarella with a pungent, basil-laced marinade before serving. I usually don't spring for the more expansive buffalo mozzarella, but am truly glad I did this time. It has an amazing softness and richness. And serving it alongside a just-picked tomato still warm from the afternoon sun makes this dish hard to beat. All it needs is some crusty bread to soak up all the lovely juices. Could be a meal in itself!


chiffonade of basil

Tuesday

SIXTEEN : GREEN GAZPACHO

PLENTY
SEPTEMBER 18 2012

SIXTEEN : GREEN GAZPACHO

It's that time of year again when the tomatoes are popping and evenings are still warm enough to make a me crave a cool and refreshing dinner. Perfect time for gazpacho! But wait, this green gazpacho doesn't even have tomatoes in it. Is it still gazpacho? I guess so since Wikipedia tells me there are "many modern variations of gazpacho, often in different colors and omitting the tomatoes and bread in favor of... cucumbers, parsley... and other ingredients." Well, at least this will give me the chance to use up some of those cucs taking over the crisper drawer.


Wednesday

FIFTEEN : TOMATO PARTY

PLENTY
SEPTEMBER 12 2012

FIFTEEN : TOMATO PARTY

It's a par-tay in the hizzle and everyone's invited! Yep, even you green tomato. And two kinds of couscous are on the guest list. Now, somebody turn up those bangin' beats while I get to work!

 Mr. O wants to keep this party interesting by including tomatoes in various states of cooked-ness "to maximize the 'tomatoey' effect with diverse flavors and textures". I like this idea as tomatoes offer such different profiles when raw vs roasted vs dried. I am also going to take him up on his offer to "choose whatever tomato selection you can get" instead of sticking exactly to those listed in the recipe.

I recently dried a bunch of cherry tomatoes so those are definitely going in. And I think I'll roast some of the Early Girls while keeping the Green Zebras and San Marzanos raw. Good plan!


garden fresh!

Early Girls sliced and ready to roast with a sprinkle of sugar

"roasting" tomatoes on the grill


First hurdle... my darn oven is broken. So I'll improvise by "roasting" tomatoes in foil on the grill. Seems to be working fine, just hope they don't burn. Now to the couscouses (or couscoui?). I didn't really want to deal with finding Sardinian fregola so opted for the Israeli couscous as the second version. Each are cooked separately and left to cool. 

Supposedly this recipe makes 4 servings... but this is turning out to be a whole lot of couscous. Again Mr. O's proportions seems to be wack-o! Oh well. Tomatoes are roasted and time to toss everything together. Combine the couscouses with all varieties of tomato and chopped herbs. The juices from the tomatoes contribute the only dressing on the salad, which worries me a little. But, one bite reveals their offering to be more than enough flavor and moisture. 




I really, really like the textural interest created by the two couscous varieties. And the tomato flavor is pronounced without taking over everything, allowing the herbs to sing. My biggest complaint is with the roasted tomatoes. They are so huge (Mr. O simply having me quarter them before roasting) and make for a gloppy bite when one of them is forked up. Next time, I would probably seed and roughly chop them then saute lightly until just caramelized before stirring into the salad.

Overall yummy though! Good thing I like it as I'll be eating left-overs for a while...

Thursday

FOURTEEN : ZUCCHINI & HAZELNUT SALAD

PLENTY
AUGUST 30 2012

FOURTEEN : ZUCCHINI & HAZELNUT SALAD

ZUCCHINI!!! I love you and I hate you at the same time! How many ways can we eat thee without going insane? How about grilled in a lovely salad w/ basil and toasted hazelnuts. OKAY!

garden basil!

garden zucchini!

Tuesday

THIRTEEN : POACHED BABY VEGETABLES WITH CAPER MAYONNAISE

PLENTY
AUGUST 21 2012

THIRTEEN : POACHED BABY VEGETABLES WITH CAPER MAYONNAISE

It's one billion degrees out today and I've decided I have to, I just HAVE TO, poach some baby veggies for dinner tonight. Why exactly, I'm not sure. But it's been decided so that's what I'm gonna do. Luckily, our BBQ also has a burner so I can do the hot work outside instead of steaming up the already steamy house. Tonight's baby veg includes haricot verts, mini zucchini, tiny turnips, itsy radishes and teeny carrots. All from the garden except the verts... yessssss!


baby carrots from the garden



TWELVE : CUCUMBER SALAD WITH SMASHED GARLIC & GINGER

PLENTY
AUGUST 7 2012

TWELVE : CUCUMBER SALAD WITH SMASHED GARLIC & GINGER

I've had to be pretty darn creative this year to keep up with all the cucumbers bursting out of the garden. Other than simply tossing in a salad or dipping into hummus, I've snuck lemon cucumber into a fruit salad and have an ongoing fridge pickle laced with mustard seed and sliced onion. Then there's the jar of Bubbies pickle brine that I started filling with my own little pickling cucs and my first attempt at homemade kimchi featuring paper thin slices of the larger Sultan cucs and radish. Next I'm thinking some kind of chutney and I can't wait for my tomatoes to catch up so we can keep cool on hot days with fresh gazpacho.






Sunday

ELEVEN : SPICY MOROCCAN CARROT SALAD

PLENTY
JULY 29 2012

ELEVEN : SPICY MOROCCAN CARROT SALAD

"I didn't think I'd like the carrot salad, but it's really good. Did you try this salad? It's actually really, really good!" ~ overheard at a potluck BBQ

Do you want to amaze people you just met and make lots and lots of new friends? Just bring Spicy Moroccan Carrot Salad to every event you attend. It is sure to impress!


which carrots are homegrown?

I would have to agree with my anonymous critic that this salad is very delicious. It wraps the lightly crunch carrot slices in a rich, aromatic blend of spices that complements their sweet earthiness. And today's version was made with 50% homegrown carrots! Our gnarly tubers have roots only a mother could love, but they still taste delicious.


TEN : GREEN PANCAKES WITH LIME BUTTER

PLENTY
JULY 29 2012

TEN : GREEN PANCAKES WITH LIME BUTTER




It is important to point out right up front that I do not like pancakes. Just thinking about them makes me shudder. Doughy bites, slimy with butter, slowly dissolving in maple syrup. Ugh. But here I am, making and eating pancakes. It's all for you, dear reader! As I work, I'm trying hard to convinced myself that Mr. O's colorful interpretation will transcend the spongy mattresses found in on breakfast plates around the country and awaken me to a whole new flapjack world.

NINE : STEAMED RICE WITH HERBS

PLENTY
JULY 22 2012

NINE : STEAMED RICE WITH HERBS (OR, ACTUALLY, HERBS WITH RICE)

Have you ever wondered how to make perfectly nice rice into a huge pain in the behind? Hint: it involves triple the time, quadruple the steps, quintuple the dishes to wash and a potato.


dinner tonight : lovely & simply salmon with pain-in-the-behind rice


According to Mr. O, this "very particular" method is all worth it for the "incredibly light and fluffy steamed rice" that will amaze and delight us. But, after going through the whole process, I'm not really convinced it's all worth the hassle. Don't get me wrong, that rice was niiiiice. But dang!


Wednesday

EIGHT : ASPARAGUS MIMOSA

PLENTY
JULY 04 2012

EIGHT : ASPARAGUS MIMOSA

So... I didn't do this recipe exactly correct. I was gonna, I swear, but then something in my brain convinced me it would be better chopped up as a crostini for the BBQ, so that's what I did. I still think it counts since it most definitely tasted just the same.




This is one easy recipe. Just boil asparagus until tender then dress with a mix of grated hard-boiled egg, capers, olive oil and salt. As a side dish, they would look lovely next to a juicy, flame-broiled steak or a nice wedge of salmon. But today, they were diced and served on toasted crostini. Still yummers! Asparagus and egg go together like peas and carrots.


SEVEN : CHARD & SAFFRON OMELETTES

PLENTY
JULY 04 2012

SEVEN : CHARD & SAFFRON OMELETTES

It's may only be Wednesday, but it's a holiday! Which means no work and plenty of leisure time to enjoy a yummy breakfast in the backyard instead of boring old peanut butter toast at my desk. These chard omelettes had been on my mind since first flipping through the book; they just look so lovely! And the saffron element intrigues me quite a bit.




I plucked some radiant chard straight from the garden which then simmered gently with potato and saffron until soft and luscious. Stir in garlic and lemon juice and, with a dash of salt & pepper, the filling is complete.

SIX : WARM GLASS NOODLES & EDAMAME

PLENTY
JUNE 27 2012

SIX : WARM GLASS NOODLES & EDAMAME

I came thiiiiis close to swapping the edamame in this dish for some of the fresh snow peas that are popping in the garden. But, as said edamame had already been acquired and was waiting in the crisper, I stuck to my guns and followed the recipe. Plus, I appear to have the wrong type of noodles (nooooo!) so am already in danger of completely messing up this salad. But, onwards and upwards!





Thursday

FIVE : GREEN BEAN SALAD WITH A SURPISE TWIST

PLENTY
JUNE 14 2012

FIVE : GREEN BEAN SALAD WITH MUSTARD SEED AND TARRAGON

Three beans combine to perfection in this fresh, crunchy salad. My contribution tonight comes in the form of the plump, just-picked snap peas. Pea harvest is winding down as the days heat up so I'm trying to take full advantage of every last delicious pod.




This salad is a snap to throw together. Trimming and blanching the peas proves to be the most time consuming chore and even that goes pretty quick. Each pea gets it's own spa treatment before being all tossed with an aromatic oil swimming with just-popped whole spices. A little red onion, fresh garlic, lemon zest, tarragon and chopped swiss chard round it out.


THREE & FOUR : TWO-COURSE AL FRESCO DINNER

PLENTY
JUNE 14 2012

THREE : ASPARAGUS VICHYSSOISE
FOUR : CARAMELIZED ENDIVE WITH GRUYERE

On warm summery evenings, nothing makes me happier than a simple, healthy dinner leisurely enjoyed in the fading sunlight while the pets frolic and a gentle breeze rustles the growing garden. My drive home from work flies by as I dream of the hot grill, fresh green salad and glass of wine in my future. More often than not, my schemes necessitate a stop at New Seasons to turn them into a reality. Today I saw fish, whole, charred and crispy, served with a simple side. Maybe even multiple courses... start with a refreshing cold soup, perhaps.


Tuesday

TWO : MIXED BEANS WITH MANY SPICES

PLENTY
JUNE 12 2012

Husband ~ "What's for dinner tonight, dear?"
Wife ~ "Just whipping up some mixed beans with many spices."
Husband (perplexed) ~ "Huh?"
Wife (pointing to recipe) ~ "See... Mixed Beans with Many Spices!"
Husband (more perplexed) ~ "Like curry?"
Wife (uncertain) ~ "Um... I think so... Here! Have a margarita!"

Turns out it is like curry... very much like curry. I mean how could it not be with cumin, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, clove and black pepper? Not sure why Mr. O insists on calling it "mixed spices". Guess he didn't want to incite anger in the segment of the population that takes curry accuracy very seriously. Anyway, whatever you call it, it is tasty.


flowering pea plants


Friday

ONE : AVOCADO, QUINOA AND FAVA BEAN SALAD

PLENTY
JUNE 01 2012




I love growing radishes. With almost zero time or effort, they transform a barren patch of rain-soaked mud into a leafy and productive garden. As soon as their first little leaves peek out of still cold soil, my green thumb shakes off the long, dreary winter and begins to glow with anticipation of the bountiful season to come. It is finally spring!


THIRTY-EIGHT & THIRTY-NINE : FROZEN DINNERS AND A FRESH START

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
JUNE 01 2012

THIRTY-EIGHT : BLACK BEAN CHILLI WITH AVOCADO SALSA
THIRTY-NINE : VEGETARIAN MOUSSAKA

It's a very strange thing to lose one's mojo. Mine has been elusive for a few months now and, although I know why it has now departed, I'm not sure exactly how to get it back. It lurks around corners, almost within reach, but as soon as I catch it's eye my mind drifts off and I lose focus. "Oh well", I shrug. It has become so much easier these days to think of nothing rather than that which occupies my mind entirely. So I sit in the backyard, avoiding all thought, and instead watch the little finches gorge themselves on thistle seed.

But as spring swings into summer and my garden offers up the first few radishes, I'm reminded again of what I'm missing. So how best to lure it back? The answer is pretty clear. Start doing again what I love to do... garden, cook and share it all with my friends.

THIRTY-EIGHT : LIME AND MANGO ICE CREAM

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
APRIL 27 2012

THIRTY-EIGHT : LIME AND MANGO ICE CREAM
 
You probably think you got the best of me, don't you, April. Getting all hot and sunny last weekend and twisting my thoughts until I truly believed summer was here and rainy days were behind us. I got caught up in your little mind game and though, "hey, I think I'll make ice cream!" Okay, you got me.

But, you know what? The ice cream is actually really damn good. And your 2012 appearance has just about ended. So suck on that while we slurp down yummy, fruity homemade ice cream. Yes! I win!


Wednesday

THIRTY-SIX & THIRTY-SEVEN : COD WITH TAPENADE & ROASTED ROOTS

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
APRIL 24 2012

THIRTY-SIX : ROASTED FISH TOPPED WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATO TAPENADE
THIRTY-SEVEN : ROASTED ROOTS WITH HERBS

The sunny weather over the weekend put me in the mood for a light, fresh meal and fish seemed like just the ticket. I know I've had my challenges cooking fish in the past, but this being a roasted dish, I was feeling more confident. It's usually the pan-frying that puts me all in a tizzy.




As a bonus, both recipes require "little or no attention"... yes! And I get to turn the oven to it's highest setting. Things about to get hot in here! Just gotta chop the roots then toss them with herbs, garlic and olive oil. Then into the screaming hot oven to sizzle for 35 minutes. Ah, I'll just pop outside and check on the garden.

Friday

THIRTY-FIVE : MOROCCAN BAKED CHICKEN

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
APRIL 19 2012

THIRTY-FIVE : MOROCCAN BAKED CHICKEN WITH CHICKPEAS AND RICE
 
This dish incorporates some of my absolute favorite flavors. Chickpeas, olives, big chunks of lemon all in a rich, saffron-laced broth. I am so ready for this one! Plus, it's a one-pot meal which makes clean-up a snap-and-a-half.

Of course it starts with browning the meat (le, sigh). The chicken skin needs to be nice and crispy before bathing in the fabulous broth so I get to work. I am loving my splatter screen more and more with each Delia's recipe. While the chicken sizzles, I toast and grind the spices and give the pre-soaked chickpeas their final 20 minute simmer.


oh saffron, how I love thee!

Tuesday

THIRTY-ONE - THIRTY-FOUR : BEANCAKES, CARAMELIZED FENNEL AND CITRUS PUDDING

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
APRIL 14 2012

THIRTY-ONE : SAUTEED CARAMELISED FENNEL
THIRTY-TWO : MASHED BLACK-EYED BEANCAKES WITH GINGER ONION MARMALADE
THIRTY-THREE : GINGER ONION MARMALADE
THIRTY-FOUR : HOT CITRUS PUDDING

Me: "Dang, everything on my plate is brown and looks the same." Hubby: "That's how you know it's authentic English food!"


bean cake on the left - caramelized fennel on the right

Thankfully our first bites quickly reveal the two items to offer vastly different taste, texture and experience.

Monday

THIRTY : STEAK AU POIVRE IN RED WINE

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
MARCH 29 2012

TWENTY-EIGHT : BRAISED STEAK AU POIVRE IN RED WINE
 
I am well versed in basic kitchen arithmetic : beef + onions + red wine + 2 hours = one amazing dinner. I don't need Delia to teach me that. But, maybe I do need her stern glare that prevents me from skipping the hated step of browning the meat. And then, again, to sweet talk me into adding an obscene quantity of black pepper to the pot. Both of these conspired to take our au poivre to the next level.


crushing peppercorns

Thursday

TWENTY-EIGHT & TWENTY-NINE : CRUSTED FISH IN ROMESCO W/ BAKED CELERY

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
MARCH 29 2012

TWENTY-EIGHT : PARMESAN-COATED FISH WITH WALNUT ROMESCO SAUCE
TWENTY-NINE : CELERY BAKED IN VINAIGRETTE WITH PANCETTA & SHALLOTS
 
Why, oh why am I so darn bad at cooking fish?!? I can't understand it. Am I using the wrong pan? Is the pan not hot enough? Do I need a fancy fish spatula? I was determined not to mess up the fillets for dinner tonight. "I can do this! Just use lots of butter and get the pan super hot." Fish into the pan with a reassuring sizzle. Okay, lets turn these babies. AAARRRGGHHH!!! It's all sticking and falling apart and I start panicking and... ugly, ugly, ugly.

Tuesday

TWENTY-FIVE - TWENTY-SEVEN : LEMONY CHICKEN W/ LENTILS & ROASTED PARSNIPS

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
MARCH 26 2012

TWENTY-FIVE : GRILLED CHICKEN WITH LEMON, GARLIC & ROSEMARY OVER LENTILS
TWENTY-SIX : PARSNIPS WITH A MUSTARD & MAPLE GLAZE
TWENTY-SEVEN : CHICKEN GIBLET STOCK
 
Dinner tonight featured a monster of a chicken, raised by a friend, that had been hogging space in the freezer for far too long. The very well-endowed roaster contributed two of the largest chicken breasts I have ever seen; each literally the length of my forearm! All I needed tonight was the breast meat, so I cut up the rest for a future recipe and turned the bones into a lovely, rich stock. Perfect!


Wednesday

TWENTY-FOUR : COLCANNON POTATOES

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
MARCH 20 2012

TWENTY-FOUR : COLCANNON POTATOES
 
Hmm... what goes really well with left-over corned beef? How about mashed potatoes with sauteed cabbage and green onions stirred in! Ya!!




A stroke of genius inspires me to boil the potatoes in the corned beef broth (sorry, recipe) and infuse them with fabulous flavor.

Tuesday

TWENTY-THREE : STEAMED TREACLE SPONGE PUDDING

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
MARCH 18 2012

TWENTY-THREE : STEAMED TREACLE SPONGE PUDDING
 
Steamed treacle pudding.. have you any idea!?! I sure didn't. How about the fact that "pudding" is actually cake. And Delia assumed I am blithely steaming puddings every holiday and therefore failed to mention exactly how to steam a pudding and what that even means. So I turned to my friend internet for more guidance and discovered it is basically a sponge cake cooked in a steam bath for hours and I should be able to rig up a steaming contraption fairly easily from my various pots and bowls. So, here goes!


Thursday

TWENTY-THREE : TRIPLE TOMATO "RISOTTO"

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
MARCH 14 2012

TWENTY-TWO : ROASTED AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO RISOTTO
 
Risotto is hard, right? It shackles you to the stove for 25 - 30 minutes of continual stirring and brothing and stirring and brothing, right? Wrong! Turns out, after just a few minutes of sauteing, I can stick everything in the oven and ignore it for 35 minutes and suddenly have risotto! Well... kind of risotto. More like baked rice. Which is good, but lacks that all important sauciness and texture contrast of risotto. The rice was flavorful, ooey-gooey and I ate it up, but calling it risotto is a bit of a stretch. Maybe I'm splitting hairs here, but I can so I will.


Tuesday

TWENTY-TWO : ICED APPLE SOUFFLE

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
MARCH 12 2012

TWENTY-ONE : ICED APPLE SOUFFLE WITH CARAMELISED APPLE
 
Reading through this recipe, I was initially perplexed as to how this could possibly be classified as a soufflé. Isn't a soufflé a stressful baked dish made light as air by folding in whipped egg whites and served immediately out of the oven before it deflates and everything is ruined? Apparently, that is only half true. According to a random internet dictionary, a soufflé can be defined as such:
soufflé [ˈsuːfleɪ]
n
1. a very light fluffy dish made with egg yolks and stiffly beaten egg whites combined with cheese, fish, etc.
2. a similar sweet or savoury cold dish, set with gelatine
While tonight's soufflés have no gelatine, they are fluffed with stiffly beaten egg whites and fall soundly in the category of a sweet cold dish. So fine, Delia, I accept that this is a soufflé.


Monday

TWENTY-ONE : OXTAIL BRAISED IN GUINNESS

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
MARCH 2 2012

TWENTY-ONE : OXTAIL BRAISED IN GUINNESS WITH CANNELLINI BEANS
 
Braised oxtail, another exercise in browning a strange, tough cut of meat before slowly and lovingly braising it for hours and hours in a flavorful (and often alcoholic) liquid. I am becoming very familiar with this technique as I cook my way through the Winter Collection. Admittedly, slow braised meat kills it during a cold, rainy evening. So we are eating it up! And, I do enjoy trying new flavors and stewing cuts such as oxtail, a first for me.


Tuesday

NINETEEN & TWENTY : VENISON SAUSAGES BRAISED IN RED WINE

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
FEBRUARY 27 2012

NINETEEN : VENISON SAUSAGES BRAISED IN RED WINE
TWENTY : PERFECT MASHED POTATOES

Today was the kind of day that required a warm, delicious, comforting dinner. And what's more delicious than sausages, onions and bacon slowly braised in red wine. Not much!


together these make magic!


First brown the sausages then remove from pan and saute the bacon and onions. Smelling good! Add all the seasoning, sausages and red wine to the pan and gently simmer 30 minutes. I simmered mine a bit too gently so gave it an extra 15 minutes at this stage.

Sunday

EIGHTEEN : PRAWN COCKTAIL 2000

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
FEBRUARY 25 2012

EIGHTEEN : PRAWN COCKTAIL 2000 

(Please read the following in a robotic monotone voice:)
 
It is the year 2000. Welcome new millennium. I will celebrate with a prawn cocktail served in a martini glass. How fashion forward and futuristic this prawn cocktail looks in it's fancy stemmed serving glass. Oooh. La. La.

(You may now return to your normal inner monologue... unless you're enjoying the robot voice and want to continue)


SEVENTEEN : FETA, OLIVE AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO SCONES

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
FEBRUARY 19 2012

SEVENTEEN : FETA, OLIVE AND SUN-DRIED TOMATO SCONES


scone o'clock!


Good morning, scone! You perfect, compact, savory little breakfast nugget. Salty, cheesy, yummy.... and so easy. I want to eat you all but that would well exceed my daily sodium intake, thanks to all the salty, salty feta, olives and sun-dried tomatoes packed into each little guy. Oooh! These would be even better (and saltier) with crumbled bacon. Maybe next time...

Saturday

FIFTEEN & SIXTEEN : ROAST CHICKEN W/ CRISPY POTATOES

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
FEBRUARY 17 2012

FIFTEEN : TRADITIONAL ROAST CHICKEN WITH CRANBERRY, SAGE AND BALSAMIC SAUCE
SIXTEEN : PERFECT ROAST POTATOES

It's clear that Delia is very, very concerned that my roasted chicken might come out dry and embarrass me in front of my husband, our guests and the entire world. Which is why I will be packing a pork-based stuffing under the skin and in the cavity, liberally rubbing the whole chicken with butter and THEN layering on slices of bacon. Finally, as if all that's not enough, I'm supposed to baste it three times with pan drippings while roasting. After all that, there is no way the white meat can be anything but juicy!


Friday

THIRTEEN & FOURTEEN : CHICKPEA-CORIANDER SOUP WITH CROUTONS

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
FEBRUARY 16 2012

THIRTEEN : CHICKPEA, CHILLI AND CORIANDER SOUP
FOURTEEN : PARMESAN CROUTONS

"I stand before you ashamed yet undeniably guilty of soup-icide. My only excuse is that I was led astray by the persuasive influence of one Delia Smith. She sweet-talked me and made me believe, albeit hesitantly, that the chickpeas would be better off in the blender, processed until fine and smooth. I did as asked and am now filled with regret." ~ Day, 15 minutes ago

The opening paragraph above was composed while tonight's soup was in it's final 30 minute simmer. I'd been tasting it all along and thought it bland, liquidy, meh. And I have always found pureed soups to be lacking any real qualities other than a strong similarity to baby food. (Except the turnip velouté at Beast, which rendered me speechless). Then, I had my first bite of the finished soup in all it's glory. And immediately realized I would be completely rescinding every word in the above paragraph. I only leave it in this post to illustrate how first impressions should not always be trusted.


Wednesday

TWELVE : MARMALADE BREAD AND BUTTER PUDDING

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
FEBRUARY 14 2012

TWELVE : CHUNKY MARMALADE BREAD AND BUTTER PUDDING

There's nothing much to say about this very simple dessert, except... it may have just revolutionized breakfast and reminded me exactly why I'm doing this project. Yep, that's all :)

Seems like the perfect quick, weeknight dessert. All I gotta do is make little butter and marmalade sandwiches. Then quarter them, stack them in a baking dish with squares of candied orange peel and fresh orange zest and cover with a quick custard that bakes into fluffy, creaminess.


spread butter and Seville orange marmalade on ciabatta slices

Sunday

ELEVEN : FALLEN CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE WITH ARMAGNAC PRUNES

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
FEBRUARY 11 2012

ELEVEN : FALLEN CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE WITH ARMAGNAC PRUNES

Here I am again, for the third time in my life (and all within the last month) watching a bowlful of butter and dark chocolate slowly melt into glossy swirls. I'm watching and worrying to myself that I will miss the moment when the egg whites are peaking softly and will accidentally whip them to death. And how will I know when the egg yolks are ribboning perfectly?!? I just know I'm gonna screw this all up.


chocolate and butter become one


And I still can't quite convince myself there is really any point to making this stupid souffle which I don't even want to eat. I am going to a party, so hopefully someone there will be in the mood for a shot of sugar straight into their veins.


TEN : BUCKWHEAT BLINIS W/ SMOKED SALMON

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
FEBRUARY 11 2012

TEN : BUCKWHEAT BLINIS W/ SMOKED SALMON, CREME FRAICHE AND DILL
 



Blini, blini, blini. They just look so cute and innocent sitting there. As if they were no trouble at all to make. Well, don't let their crispy edges and adorable miniature size fool you. These babies really make you work for every bite.


Friday

NINE : MEATBALLS IN GOULASH SAUCE

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
FEBRUARY 10 2012

NINE : MEATBALLS IN GOULASH SAUCE

You ready goulash meatballs? You think you can out-meatball the Frankies? You know you're facing some tough competition here. Those handball-sized hunks of beefy heaven are probably the best meatballs of my entire life. Yep, I said it. Best. Ever. So, show me what you got!

Ooh, very interesting. You're gonna add some ground pork to the mix. Now, I can definitely appreciate the flavor enhancement and fatty joy you get from the pork. In fact, I was always surprised the Frankies' meatballs were all beef. But, will it be enough?

Wait, now you're throwing in chopped peppers and onions? Cheater! Oh yeah... there aren't actually any meatball rules so you can do what you want. Do I really have to very finely chop them? I'm feelin' kinda lazy...


Monday

SEVEN & EIGHT : CHOCOLATE OVERLOAD

Delia Smith's Winter Collection
FEBRUARY 05 2012

SEVEN : CHOCOLATE BREAD AND BUTTER PUDDING
EIGHT : FOUR NUT CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

So far I've learned that it's pretty darn easy to make really rich, super ooey-gooey decadent desserts. The only problem is that no one will actually eat them. I sure won't (born without a sweet tooth) and hubby doesn't care much for chocolate. And if I take it to work or to a party, the overall response is something akin to anger or annoyance... "Wow, that looks really good. How dare you bring it here and tempt me with your delicious dessert! I'm trying to eat healthy and lose a few pounds! Don't you even care?!?"



Thursday

FIVE & SIX : CIDER VINEGAR BRAISED PORK W/ ROASTED SWEDES


Delia Smith's Winter Collection
FEBRUARY 01 2012

FIVE : PORK BRAISED IN CIDER VINEGAR SAUCE
SIX : ROASTED SWEDE WITH PARMESAN

You know, Delia, I understand that browning meat before braising or stewing gives the whole dish tons more flavor. But it's such a hassle! Are you really gonna make me do it for every slow-cooked dish (of which there are many)?? It can add a whole hour to the meal prep, which means we don't even eat until after 8pm sometimes. Like last night. When I had to brown the pork a cubes "a few at a time" (aaarrrgghh!) and then brown the shallots "on all sides to a nice glossy caramel colour". All this work did result in some lovely fond on the bottom of the pot. And, as we all know, fond = flavor! So fine, I forgive you.


hello, shallot... lookin' glossy!




fond = flavor!



Monday

FOUR : DEEP LEMON TART


Delia Smith's Winter Collection
JANUARY 30 2012

FOUR : DEEP LEMON TART

The custard in this tart is so impossibly light it all but disappears on the tongue, leaving only the essence of lemon filling your senses. Like eating the lemon's very soul.




While there are quite a few steps in this recipe, nothing about it is all that difficult.
Web Analytics