Sunday, February 28, 2010


Sunday: Mushroom Bourguignon with Pappardelle

I sometimes wonder if I completely fail as a foodie because I can't pronounce French words. At all. You don't even want to hear my attempt to say the name of this dish.

Anyway, it's a good "bridge" meal. Here in Seattle we are well on our way to spring (I was able to use fresh chives and parsley from my own tiny garden!), but it's still quite brisk at night. This mushroom bourguignon isn't as rich and heavy as the beef version, but it's not exactly a dish that screams "springtime!" either. What it is, though, is delicious. Highly, highly recommended.

One note - Deb suggests this as a simple weeknight dinner, which it's not. It took more than an hour and a half, start-to-finish. Part of that may have been the cremini mushrooms I used, since I'm sure they required more prep time than portobellos would have. However, I used frozen pearl onions, so I didn't need to spend the extra time peeling all those wee alliums. Much of the time is hands-off, so it's not really a very intensive dish, but if I had to make it after work I would resort to frozen dumplings. YMMV.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Not much cooking going on around here - I had some (very minor, I swear!) surgery and the recovery's had me not eating much, and not cooking at all.

Victor did make some tasty things as I was starting to feel better, though - this Southern Pulled Brisket recipe (with home-made hamburger buns & quick pickles, because I have the best husband ever) and also some Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup, using some of our extra-special lentils from Big John's PFI. Neither of us remembers what kind of lentils he used, except that they were the yellow-ish ones, and they fell apart just as red lentils normally do. Anyway, it was all delish, and just what I needed to get myself feeling more like myself again.

Friday, February 19, 2010

just can't stop jammin'

Even though I promised myself I'd focus mainly on pickles for the can jam, there's a recipe for sweet carrot preserves in one of my cookbooks that I've wanted to try for some time. I only made one minor modification - I used half a vanilla bean, too, because what I had in mind has more richness than the recipe looked like it would have. It's a very small batch recipe, so I think I might experiment with it some more in the future - I think next time I might use brown sugar instead of the white, as I'm picturing a very rich and flavorful jam. This batch was almost there, but not quite.

Angel's Hair
adapted from Sensational Preserves

  • 10 oz carrots, peeled and grated to yield about 1 1/2 C
  • 1 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 large lemon
  • 3 white cardamom pods, split
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split
In a medium sauce pan, mix the carrots and sugar together. Add the cardamom and vanilla bean. Cut the lemon peel into thin strips, squeeze the juice from the lemon, and put both the peel and the juice into the pot, too.

Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, then boil for 10 minutes or so until very thick. Skim with a slotted spoon.

Spoon the jam into warm, clean, dry jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

yield: about 1 half-pint jar

Sunday, February 14, 2010

your house will smell amazing!

Although this year I've resolved to "put up" more pickles and whole fruits, I still have a lot of jams and sweet preserves from last year (and a few from the year before that, truth be told). I'm trying to use them in new ways. One I hadn't really thought of previously is in baking, but when I saw this recipe for Marmalade Gingerbread, I knew the Lemon-Ginger Marmalade I canned last winter would be perfect for it.

I brought a loaf with me to the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat (which I've gone to every year I've been in Washington); the gingerbread was a hit with my knitting buddies.

Marmalade Gingerbread
adapted from Sensational Preserves

  • 1 1/4 C dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 C skim milk
  • 1/2 C butter, melted
  • 1/2 C unsweetened applesauce *
  • 2/3 C marmalade (any kind - each will be a bit different, obviously, but all should work, including store-bought) *
  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 7 pieces preserved ginger in syrup, chopped *
  • 2/3 C plump raisins
Preheat oven to 310F. Prepare two loaf pans (I use baking spray with flour) and set aside.

Mix the milk and sugar together until sugar is dissolved. Add melted butter, marmalade, and applesauce, stirring until marmalade dissolves. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients together and form a well in the center. Mix the marmalade mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring to make a smooth batter. Stir in the eggs. Stir in the chopped ginger and raisins.

Pour into your prepared pans and bake for 60-90 minutes, until risen and firm to the touch in the center. Leave to cool in the pan.

Store in an airtight container. From the recipe's headnotes: "This gingerbread is best kept for a couple of days before being eaten."

makes 2 full-sized loaves

* If you have some home-canned versions of these, this would be a great recipe to use them in.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

from the freezer

Thursday: braised chicken; oven-roasted russet potatoes

I have some kind of weird hyper-sensitivity to potato skins, so I've had to give up eating them. I miss them, and am always looking for ways to "dress up" my poor naked potatoes. I ran across this simple method for improving oven-roasted potatoes, and immediately made plans to make them that way for dinner. They were great! Next time I think I'll toss them with more oil (I added a glug before I shook them in the pan after parboiling) and I think I'll cook 'em at 425F rather than 450F.

The chicken (frozen leftovers from an earlier dinner) was a lovely "sauce" for the potatoes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

winter in the PNW curry

Wednesday: Red Curry with Winter Veggies; brown rice

This recipe ended up being a lot more work than I initially thought it would. I made some changes to cut down on that, and am changing the order of preparation around a bit so that it's easier to have everything ready to go at the right moment. Beyond that, I feel like, if I'm going to put this much time into making a curry, I should probably make the curry paste from scratch. Live and learn. It was tasty, though not amazing.

Red Curry with Winter Veggies
adapted from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen
time, start to finish: about 1 hour

  • 1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1 carton firm tofu in water, drained, patted dry, and cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 C water
  • 2 tsp Thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 C chopped cilantro, plus some sprigs for garnish
  • 2 tsp peanut oil
  • salt
  • 2-3 tsp soy sauce
  • 6 large shallots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • sugar
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • small handful roasted peanuts, chopped
Steam sweet potatoes & kale until the potatoes are softened (10-20 minutes over boiling water, or about 10 minutes in the microwave).

Meanwhile, cook the tofu: heat a large nonstick skilled over medium heat with a little cooking spray in the pan. Let them sit for about 5 minutes without moving them, then turn them over (I do this one at a time carefully using my fingers - YMMV). Cook for another 2 minutes or so, until they're starting to look like a lot of the water has been cooked out. Turn again, and cook for another minute. The sides that have been cooked should be golden brown. Sprinkle salt and soy sauce over them, and cook for another few minutes until the soy sauce is pretty well evaporated and the tofu cubes have a soy sauce glaze.

In a large saute pan, heat the coconut milk, water, and curry paste. Whisk the mixture to fully break up the curry paste. Once it's come to a simmer, stir in the (drained) sweet potatoes and kale, the chopped cilantro, and the tofu cubes. Continue to simmer over low heat while you prepare the shallots.

Wipe out your nonstick pan and heat it again over medium-high heat. Heat the peanut oil and add the shallots. Sprinkle with a little salt and sugar and caramelize them slightly (about 8-10 minutes). When caramelized, mix into the simmering curry.

Serve over rice, with lime wedges, a bit more cilantro, and more salt and/or sugar, to taste.

serves 4

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

catching up

I'm back from Boston, where I spent my time whipping up a variety of freezable meals, had a fantastic meal at Hungry Mother, and generally had a lovely time.

Cooking has been a bit light around here, and will continue to be so for a while. I'm finishing the writing on my doctoral thesis, and much as I'd love to escape to the kitchen, I need to focus on that for a while. Here's what we've been up to food-wise this week:

Sunday: Plumped Ginger-Caramel Shrimp; brown jasmine rice

This is, so far, the only shrimp recipe I've used. Eating seafood is a relatively new thing for me, and I still am somewhat hesitant to cook it. This was my second time making it, and it was (again) delicious. I made a 1/3 recipe:

Plumped Ginger-Caramel Shrimp
adapted from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper

for the brine:
  • 1/2 C kosher salt
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1/3 C medium-hot chile powder
  • 2 qts water (warm if using frozen shrimp, cold if using fresh)
  • 1 1/2 lb shrimp (in or out of their shells)
In a medium bowl, mix together the non-shrimp brine ingredients. Add the shrimp, and let stand for 20 minutes while you chop the other ingredients (at room temp for frozen shrimp, and in the fridge for fresh).

for the saute:
  • 4 large garlic cloves, grated
  • 4" piece ginger, peeled and grated (you could mince both this & the garlic, but I like to use my microplane on 'em)
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • a sprinkle of salt
  • 4 tsp sugar
After they've been brining for 20 minutes, drain the shrimp. Peel them if necessary and pat them dry. Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic, ginger, pepper, and salt. Cook for about a minute, stirring to let all the aromatics come into contact with the hot oil. Add the sugar and keep cooking until the garlic is pale gold - the line between slightly darkened and burnt is a fine one in this dish, so be watchful. Drop in the shrimp and stir for another 2 minutes or so, until the shrimp are turning pink and are barely firm.
serves 4, very generously

The brown rice was partly a chance to play with my new toy - a rice maker that will cook it! Our old Zojirushi was wonderful, but basically couldn't cope with brown rice. The new one is smaller (we just got a 3C, since I found a fabulous deal on that size), but still makes enough rice for 4 people. Or for the two of us, plus enough leftovers for fried rice the next day:

Monday: Ginger Fried Rice with a Fried Egg

Victor made this - it was amazingly good and didn't seem to take too long. Definitely an addition to our regular rotation, since it has a lot of room for improvisation, but the crispy bits of garlic and ginger really take this particular version beyond most fried rice recipes. For this time, though, he just made the recipe as detailed on Smitten Kitchen.

Friday, February 5, 2010