coraa: (food love)
The cooking took a stupidly long time*, but I have finally worked out a vegetarian vegetable broth recipe I like—and with it, a vegetarian French onion soup recipe with good flavor. Yay!

* - Admittedly, most of the stupidly long time was making the vegetable broth, which could be made in large batches and then frozen in the future.
coraa: (food love)
I have a pumpkin, a butternut squash, and two celebration squash (similar in flavor to acorn squash, a little bit smoother- and harder-fleshed). I ought to do something with them.

I have already made squash soup and pumpkin chili, and have them in the freezer for later, so would prefer not to repeat. (Although if you have a squash-based soup that's different than the usual "mildly spiced, mildly creamy pureed soup" type, that would be welcome.)

What do you like to do with winter squash?
coraa: (tasty science)
On Tuesday, I made roast duck with apple glaze for [livejournal.com profile] jmpava and [livejournal.com profile] bellwethr. The method was cobbled together from several recipes I found in Cook's Illustrated or online (and thank you for all of you who provided links!).

It came out quite nicely: crispy rendered skin, nice moist meat. The breast does wind up well-done rather than medium rare, but that was an acceptable trade off for the excellent skin.

It's not a particularly complicated recipe, but it does require a deep roasting pan that is stove-safe, and a bit of time.

At the end of this, you will have a roast duck's worth of duck meat, plus rendered duck fat, plus a quart or so of duck stock.

Roast Duck with Apple Glaze )

I remembered that I was going to get pictures about ten minutes after we finished devouring the bird, so no pictures. But it was quite good!
coraa: (cooking)
I decided not to call this 'pasta e fagioli' because I basically took the idea of 'pasta with beans' and did what I wanted with it.

It's also not properly a recipe because, frankly, the amounts and ingredients don't matter all that much. So I wrote it up in a 'if you have some of this, throw it in, and if you have some of that, throw it in, and then cook it until it smells good' way.

I made this "meat-light" (one slice of bacon for flavor), but it could be easily made meatless, and I included adjustments if you want to go that way. I'm pretty sure, if you do it vegetarian, it's also vegan.

Pasta with Fresh Beans )

onigiri

Aug. 22nd, 2010 10:37 pm
coraa: (cooking)
I'm thinking that it'd be nice to pack a lunch and go eat at the lake tomorrow, so I'm thinking of making onigiri (rice balls). They're pretty easy, quick, a good use of random filling ingredients, transportable, and a bit more interesting than sandwiches (which we love, but eat at least a couple of times a week).

For fillings, I was thinking:

* fish, either tuna or smoked salmon
* ume (pickled plum)
* pickled ginger
* leftover konbu-mushroom relish
* bonito flakes, wakame and soy sauce

What's your favorite onigiri filling? Or, if you're not familiar with onigiri, what would you put in a rice ball?
coraa: (cooking)
This is what I made for dinner tonight. It was a Saturday dinner for a guest, and so it's got some of the "stupidly complex" about some of the steps, but, eh.

The dutch oven chicken is adapted from a Cook's Illustrated recipe, as is the salad. The watermelon is a fairly standard recipe, but the direct inspiration was from Vegetarian Times.

The tomato and etc. salad is vegetarian but not vegan; the minted watermelon is vegan.

Dutch Oven Lemon-Garlic Chicken )

Tomato, Cucumber and Etc. Salad )

Minted Watermelon )
coraa: (food love)
This is one of those recipes where there's no good reason to make it except that spending a little time messing around in the kitchen sounds fun. That said, if messing around in the kitchen sounds fun, this makes some really very tasty fresh lemony ricotta, and the active time is pretty short. It's also not too difficult, and it's a cheesemaking process that requires no specialized equipment (and no rennet or bacterial cultures), although you do need some cheesecloth or muslin or a clean non-fuzzy dishtowel.

This makes a couple of cups of ricotta, ish, but you can scale it up just fine.

fresh lemon ricotta )

I'm serving mine crumbled over a fresh tomato and cucumber salad, and if there's any left, I'll drizzle it with honey and serve it alongside the watermelon for dessert.
coraa: (more food love)
...well, fresh except for the roasted red peppers. And no cooking required except for the pasta itself.

Vegetarian; vegan if you leave off the cheese.

Summer pasta sauce )
coraa: (more food love)
I've gotten enough energy that cooking now seems like a fun way to de-stress again rather than too much effort to bother with. Here's dinner tonight:

* Beef marinated in homemade seasoned soy sauce (banno-joyu) and broiled
* Carrots, bell peppers and green beans with ponzu
* Quick pickles
* Kombu and mushroom relish
* Miso soup
* Rice
coraa: (food love)
Two summer dishes, both of which tasted good and were well-received by the boy (especially the salad, which he loooooooooooved).

The salad was made of:
  • Butter lettuce
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Halved cherry tomatoes
  • Quartered red cherries
  • Lightly pickled spring onions
  • Radishes
  • Smoked chicken
  • Toasted walnuts
  • Grilled asparagus, chilled
  • Lemon-based vinaigrette (lemongrette?)
(Prepared like a salad: everything cut or torn into bite-sized pieces and washed well, dried well so that the dressing would stick, then tossed with the vinaigrette and served immediately to prevent it getting soggy.)

The soup was made of:
  • Homemade vegetable broth (chicken broth would also work)
  • A medium onion
  • A celery stalk
  • A couple of cloves of garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • A white potato
  • A head of kale
  • A can of diced tomatoes
  • Two baby zucchini
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Fresh thyme
(Prepared in fairly standard soup fashion: sautee the aromatics with the salt and pepper until the onion is soft; add the liquid; add the kale, potato, and tomatoes; when the potatoes are almost soft, add the zucchini and cherry tomatoes; when the zucchini is palatably soft, add the lemon juice and thyme and serve.)
coraa: (food love)
This is probably the best roast or grilled whole chicken I've ever made, and that was a first, experimental run. I can't wait to try it again and fine tune, but... delicious.

The boy approved, too. (In fact, we picked the chicken carcass totally clean. Like vultures. Vultures who appreciate fruitwood smoke.)

This recipe has no quantities, because I was experimenting and did not keep track. It does have the method, though. (In brief: chicken brined in a flavorful brine, basted in a lemon-olive-oil-shallot sauce, then slowly grilled with soaked wood chips for smoke.)

The method is largely copped from Cooks Illustrated.

Gas Grill-Smoked Lemon-Thyme Chicken )
coraa: (cooking)
Dinner tonight! This was inspired by the fact that a) I had some nice chicken breasts, b) I hadn't used the sous vide in a while, and c) the spinach really, really needed using before it got sad.

Poached Chicken with Mushroom and Spinach Orichette )
coraa: (food love)
I just cooked my second dish out of Mary Anne Mohanraj's A Taste of Serendib, a Sri Lankan cookbook. The first was spicy chicken curry, which was very good indeed; this time I made a carrot and green bean curry (except, given the time of year, I swapped in lengths of asparagus for green beans). (I suppose technically it's the third dish, since I also made a sweet onion sambol.)

I knew basically nothing about Sri Lankan cooking before picking up the cookbook, and I'm enjoying it very much. The first thing I notice is the onions: these recipes use a lot of onions. I cook with onions quite frequently and even so I looked at the giant pile of chopped onions each of those dishes asked for with some trepidation. But they cook down and cook down, until the softened onions (golden and translucent and just slightly sweet, but not brown) become the main component of the sauce. And since the spices get cooked with the onions, as the spices release their flavors those flavors mingle with the juices of the onions and develop a lot of complexity.

Anyway. Delicious! I will definitely be cooking more from this book—perhaps the spicy beef and potato curry next.
coraa: (food love)
So last night I made glazed chicken (glazed with an apple cider, maple syrup and smoked paprika mixture), rice, roasted beets, and broiled asparagus.

I'll make linguini with sweet potatoes tonight, and salmon tomorrow. Or possibly the other way around, but I think linguini tonight makes sense.

Recipes, for the interested. )
coraa: (tasty science)
Cooks Illustrated is a magazine for, well, cooks. It's difficult to describe, because there are a hundred cooking magazines, and Cooks Illustrated isn't like any of them. And I am totally not an objective person to talk about it, because I love it unreasonably.

First thing: Cooks Illustrated doesn't have any advertisements. This results in a somewhat higher per-issue price than other cooking magazines... but it also means that their reviews of ingredients and kitchen tools are pretty reliable. While I don't always agree with their opinions on what makes for a good can of diced tomatoes or brand of whole-wheat spaghetti, I often do; and I have not once been disappointed by a gadget I bought based on their review.

But the biggest draw of this or any cooking magazine is the recipes, and this is where I think my geeky friends would be particularly impressed. Cooks Illustrated takes a recipe or topic (pot roast! inexpensive steaks! marinated tomato salad! spaghetti carbonara! chewy brownies!) and researches and tests it exhaustively. They make dozens, or sometimes hundreds, of variations, controlling for one element while modifying another. If you keep all other ingredients constant, is it better to include tomato juice in your pot roast braising sauce, or not? Should you roast the garlic before you include it, or leave it raw? What about vegetables? Does adding carrots and celery to the braise improve it, or water it down? They try each variant and report on the effects, in addition to providing their final, best-variant recipe.

It's an impressive magazine, because there's evidence of long testing and experimentation for each of the score of recipes in each issue. And so it's a great magazine for people like me who don't follow recipes strictly. For instance, I just made a butterflied-and-roasted herbed chicken recipe... and I made a lot of adjustments to the recipe: thyme instead of tarragon, shallots instead of chives, four times the lemon because I really like lemon, and so on. And it still came out beautifully, because the long article describing all their trials and errors gave me a good idea of what techniques to use when cooking the chicken and making the pan sauce... and so I was able to execute it well despite having meddled with half the ingredients.

Anyway. If you like cooking, and have an analytical mind, I highly recommend Cooks Illustrated. I've found it to be a delightful read, and worth its price for sure in terms of what I've learned and applied to my cooking.

(I should add that it may not be a great value for vegetarians, since it does lean more toward meat-based main dishes. But it might be worth picking up a few newsstand issues and seeing what you think.)
coraa: (cooking)
The boy and I really like macaroni and cheese as a staple easy dinner—it's warm, filling, and comforting, and even if one or both of us is feeling ill or finicky it's usually on the list of things that are okay to eat. The problem is that while it's not hard to make from scratch, it's not the fastest thing in the world.

A few days ago, I was planning to make it for dinner, and it occurred to me to make extra and freeze it, since it's no harder to make twelve servings of macaroni and cheese than it is to make four. I was trying to figure out the best way to do it (make a big batch in a pan and then slice it up? freeze it in a big block and then chisel off pieces? what?) when it occurred to me that I could make it in a muffin tin and have individual macaroni and cheese servings ready for whenever, that I could warm up for a quickie dinner or the boy could warm up on his own when I'm not around.

This worked far better than I would have expected! I decanted the frozen blobs from their muffin tins today, and they're now in the freezer. I'm including the method I used under the cut, in case you want to try this yourself.

Single-Serving Prepare-Ahead Macaroni and Cheese )

I'm also experimenting with making steel-cut oatmeal in the rice cooker. If it comes out nicely, that will solve my steel-cut oatmeal dilemma. (The dilemma, in short: it takes longer to make than I want to spend in the morning. But if I can use the delay function on my rice cooker to get it to start my oatmeal automatically at 7am....) Will report back on how that works!

EDIT: The oats cooked up with a beautiful texture, but an odd, bitter flavor. On a hunch, I sniffed the can of uncooked oats; same odd aroma. I think I've had these too long and they've started to go rancid. Oh well. Will call the cooking method a success and buy a new tin of oats!
coraa: (cooking)
Last fancy meal before travel... (Although I hope to make some of the Washoku New Year's dishes with [livejournal.com profile] rowr.)

Tonight, I'm sous vide-ing salmon to the 'rare-medium-rare' temperature of 110F, in the hopes of getting something between cooked and sashimi.

First I brined the salmon in a 10 percent salt solution for 10 minutes. (Well, no, that's a lie; first I sliced the skin off the salmon.) Then I drained and rinsed the salmon and sealed it in a sous vide bag with a drop of soy sauce and a generous pinch of grated pickled ginger, and put it in the sous vide machine at 110F.

Then I started a batch of sushi rice in the rice cooker. Yum.

Then I sliced up an acorn squash into chunks, reserving the seeds, and made a miso glaze for it. I combined red miso, ginger, sake, and rice wine vinegar with a little honey, tossed it with the squash, and baked it.

I also toasted the squash seeds in a little oil and salt.

Finally, I crisped the skin I'd removed from the salmon in a little oil. (OMG salmon skin. I had no idea. It's got the same crunch-savory thing going on as chicken skin.)

The final dish will be a bowl of warm sushi rice, mixed with wakame sushi and chopped acorn squash seeds, topped with miso-glazed acorn squash on one side and sous vide-ed gingery salmon on the other, and sprinkled with crumbled crisped salmon skin.

With apples poached in ginger sake for dessert.

I'll post pics!
coraa: (cooking)
This month's Washoku Warriors meal was a variety of miso-based dishes. We technically only had to make a couple of things, but I went a little, uh, overboard. :D

From Food 2009


The dishes I made were:

Goma Miso (Creamy Sesame-Miso Sauce)
Aka Neri Miso (Pungent Red Miso Sauce)
Shiso Miso (Herb Miso)
Shira Ae (Creamy Tofu Sauce)
Saikyo Yaki (Miso-Marinated Broiled Fish)
Hakuto No Dengaku (Poached Peaches in Lemon-Ginger Miso Sauce)

...along with raw or blanched chilled vegetables, rice, homemade tsukemono (pickles) and homemade pickled ginger.

Details and more pictures behind the cut )
coraa: (food love)
This isn't a recipe so much as a list of ingredients. It's one of those things that really shouldn't be attempted except with fresh summer tomatoes. (There are a whole bunch of tomato sauces that can be made in winter. This just isn't one of them.) But right now, when the tomatoes are ripe and available and perfect, it's really good. (Assuming you like fresh tomatoes.)

It's also dead easy, and requires almost no actual cooking (just the pasta itself), so it's great if you're feeling lazy and/or the kitchen is really hot.

Pasta and Tomatoes )

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