Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I promise I will catch up!

I am behind on posting--I have several to post (and backdate--I'll delete this post when I do it). I have my preliminary exams for my PhD's starting on Monday and I'm a stressed out, nervous wreck. I will update when I'm finished with my exams, I promise! Don't give up on me!

UPDATE--I'm not going to delete this blog because I really like the comments. I'm in the midst of catching up :) Keep checking back!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Shredded pork tacos (p. 189) and Macleid's rockcastle chili (p. 513)

I'm getting caught up on postings!

Since I had made pulled pork, it seemed really logical to make Shredded pork tacos (p. 189). This is one of the stupidly easy recipes in TJOC--a tortilla, some pulled pork, a little sour cream, some avocado, and it's done.

It's amazing that something so simple can be so delicious! The pork and avocado combination was tasty. And it's a great use of pulled pork when you are starting to get sick of bbq.

I decided to knock another recipe off of the randomized list and make Macleid's rockcastle chili (p. 513). The recipe is has a lot of steps and ingredients but isn't particularly difficult. First, bacon was cooked, then removed from the pan. A pound and a half of beef, a lot of garlic, some onion, and a bottle of dark beer were briefly cooked in a pan and then removed to a Dutch oven. Make sure it's a big one because this recipe produces a LOT of chili.

I used a local beer (although I don't remember the brand). Cans of tomatoes, kidney beans, Northern beans, and pinto beans were added to the mix, along with some ancho chile powder, ground cumin, black pepper, and another bottle of beer.

This seemed like an awful lot of beer for chili, but I figured, what the heck do I know. And this chili wasn't looking great for Josh--he really hates beans.

The chili was simmered for about three hours and it was done!

How was it? It's hard to objectively say. The experience was bad and it took Josh and I (who are apparently idiots) a couple bowls to realize that the chili wasn't the problem--our crackers were horribly bitter and awful. I think there was too much beer in the recipe too and if I was to make it again, I probably would only use one bottle and the rest water or tomato juice.

I'm not a huge chili fan (I feel like a terrible American by saying that!) so I'm probably not the best judge. But between the strangeness of this recipe and Josh's hatred of beans in chili, I doubt I'll be making this recipe again (although I do like ground beef better than chunks in chili).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chicken or turkey meatballs (p. 445) and Tuscan bread and tomato soup (pappa al pomadoro) (p. 132)

Most people know that I don't tend to like poultry-based versions of foods that are typically red meat (ie turkey bacon, chicken burgers, etc.). So I wasn't particularly excited about Chicken or turkey meatballs (p. 445). I picked turkey over chicken because chicken always seems so bland. Ideally, I adore a pork/beef/veal mixture for meatballs.

The recipe was easy enough. I sauteed some onions and a little garlic in olive oil. That was mixed with turkey, an egg, Parmesan, a little milk and breadcrumbs, tomato paste, basil, salt and pepper. And then on to the fun part! I mixed it with my hands.

Although, I must say, it looks a bit ick at this point.

The meat is then balled up and rolled in a little bit of cornmeal (these were difficult pictures to take! I was constantly washing my hands). They were pretty soft until they started to cook and hold together.

The meatballs were cooked in a bit of olive oil until they were brown. TJOC says this will take ten minutes but it took considerably longer (like always).

Eventually they were done and nice and brown.

They were DELICIOUS!! Wow were they good. In fact, they were far better than TJOC's beef version (although not as good as my Italian grandmother's meatballs). I am salivating just thinking about the meatballs--wow, were they (unexpectedly) good. The meatballs are essentially the turkey loaf balled up so I'm now excited about the meatloaf!

I needed something quick to go along with meatballs and decided on the Tuscan bread and tomato soup (pappa al pomadoro) (p. 132). The recipe looks extremely long but is pretty easy. An onion was sauteed in some olive oil, garlic and basil was added to it, and a big can of tomatoes (drained and chopped) was dumped in.

Two cups of chicken stock and some salt and pepper were added and then the concoction was poured over some stale bread (or, in this case, some toasted bread).

From this:

To this:

Easy and tasty, although it would be better with fresh garden tomatoes. I wish I had a garden (and a gardener to go with it--I really hate weeding). We have an extremely limited farmer's market, too, which makes me miss Des Moines. Do they have decent farmer's markets in your neck of the woods? You might notice that I'm asking a lot of questions at the end of these posts but I'd like to know other people's thoughts :)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Bolognese sauce (p. 564)

First off, Duchess in a dinosaur costume. Why? Do you really need a reason to dress a small dog up in costumes? I don't.

I've mentioned before that I am less excited about TJOC recipes for which I already have a terrific standby on hand. Bolognese sauce (p. 564) is one of these recipes. I have an AWESOME Bolognese sauce recipe already and I feel no need for another. And I LOVE Bolognese sauce--I ate as much as possible when I was in Italy.

But, cookthrough bloggers can't be choosers.

The recipe started promisingly--render bacon in some olive oil.

It seemed like an awful lot of oil but what do I know?

Next step, I added minced carrot, celery, and onion (there have been plenty PLENTY of pictures of this step on TJOTJOC already). I then added some ground beef and stirred in a little chicken stock, white whine, and tomato paste.

I'll be honest, I didn't like the looks of this sauce. I know Bolognese sauce is a far less tomato-y sauce than most but this particular sauce was really pushing it for me. Plus, it only had beef in it! My sauce always has a beef/pork/veal mixture. But I slowly added a cup and a half of milk, like the recipe required.

It cooked for about two hours. This is not the recipe to make if you want something to eat quickly--the sauce took at least three hours and then requireed time to cool.

How was it? To be honest, I thought it was gross. Way too much beef and it had a weird fatty flavor/texture. My Bolognese sauce is way better--way way better. I won't be making this recipe again. I don't have that many other stock recipes (I've made the bread pudding, lasagna, chocolate chip cookies, and meat sauce recipes already with varied results) but I've been dreading rice pudding. I LOVE my rice pudding recipe--it is absolutely amazing. I should probably just make it and get it out of the way. Do you have any stock recipes? Do you stick to it or try new versions?

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Egg noodles with garlic and bread crumbs (p. 330)

I needed something very quick because I had been very busy. I usually look in the pasta chapter when I need something fast. Egg noodles with garlic and bread crumbs (p. 330) seemed to fit the bill. I melted a stick of butter, then added some garlic and a cup of bread crumbs. It was a LOT of breadcrumbs--an inappropriate amount of bread crumbs, I thought.

Eventually the bread crumbs brown and a little parsley is stirred in.

At this point, a pound (a pound?? Why didn't I cut this recipe down??) of egg noodles were added.

How was it? It tasted like it looked--like egg noodles covered in bread crumbs. Not my thing. I think this recipe goes in the "no thank you" pile. I wonder how the authors came up with some of these recipes and I imagine it went like this:

"Hmm...I'm so hungry but all my food spontaneously combusted except for a bag of egg noodles, some stale bread, and a stick of butter. And gophers dug up my entire garden--except for my garlic. Maybe I can combine it all--tada! Into the book it goes!"

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