Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Browned or franconia potatoes (p. 297) and Spicy seafood stew (p. 100)

I had a bunch of new potatoes from dad's garden and decided to utilize them in TJOC recipes. I never buy new potatoes because they seem oddly expensive for baby potatoes and I don't think they are worth the increased cost. Getting them for free out of the garden though is perfect.

Because they had recently been dug up, I scrubbed the heck out of them--and they changed color! I am easily amused by things like that.

I thought that Browned or franconia potatoes (p. 297) sounded really good. I boiled the potatoes until they were almost done. I then melted a little butter into some vegetable oil (a perfect use for my small Le Crueset skillet--the skillet you use needs to be ovenproof).

The potatoes were added and the skilled was covered and popped in the oven.

The potatoes were cooked for twenty minutes. The recipe says to turn them occasionally which was scary and dangerous because it was a hot cast iron full of boiling oil.

I wasn't very impressed. The potatoes were good but potatoes are almost always good. They weren't anything special and they were a lot of work and took a lot of time. Has anyone had franconian potatoes before? Is this what they were supposed to be like? The intro to the recipe in TJOC would have you think they are on every menu like French fries.

I found some shrimp and cod on sale at the grocery store and thought that Spicy seafood stew (p. 100) would be perfect. I really hate wrestling my ancient slow cooker out of the cupboard so once it's out, I expect to make several slow-cooker recipes. My mom always makes fun of me because I don't like using a slow cooker. I really hate leaving the slow cooker on while I'm not in the house--I'm very paranoid that it's going to burn the house down. Because of that, the slow cooker is essentially useless--anything I can do in a slow cooker I can do on a stove top (or I could do it even faster by using a pressure cooker).

The recipe starts like so many of TJOC's recipes--sauteing onion, celery, garlic, and a jalapeno in some olive oil.

That mixture was dumped into the slow cooker along with a big can of tomatoes, some bottled clam juice (Josh gave me a really strange look when I added that to the cart), some red wine, a little oregano (from mom's garden), and red pepper flakes.

A pound of cod and a half pound of shrimp was added after the tomato mixture was cooked for four hours. Just a bit more cooking and the stew was done!

The stew was really really good. It was tomato-y and spicy (although not too spicy). It actually reminded me of cioppino. The cod and shrimp was flavorful, which is a surprise because fish usually gets bland in the slow cooker. I think the clam juice really rounded out the flavor (although it's a really bizarre ingredient). If you are looking for clam juice in your grocery store, it's probably around the tuna/sardines/canned clams.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Steamed summer squash (p. 307)

The last time I updated the TJOC index, I noticed that I hadn't officially made Steamed summer squash (p. 307), even though I steam summer squash regularly all season. I don't think there is an easier way to make summer squash, although I don't typically dice it (I just slice because it's simpler).

The recipe couldn't be easier--take summer squash, dice it, and steam until tender.

Delicious and easy! My summer squash was from my dad's garden and it was particularly good.

Easy post! Short and sweet :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Blogroll questions #1

I am part of a blogging group where they give you a topic a week and you are supposed to write about it. I've been part of the group for about five weeks and managed to never answer a single one of the questions so I'm doing it all at once. This will also placate the people who say I don't write enough about myself on the blog :)

I have AT LEAST four more blogs to post and they will be backdated to when they actually happened, so make sure to check back and check back blogs!

What's the farthest you have traveled for food? Did you fly across the country just so you could have the perfect bowl of clam chowder? Did you cross the state line just for a scoop of ice cream? What was it, how far did you travel, and was it worth it?

I've traveled several hours for fondue with friends and it was absolutely worth it. I've never traveled specifically for food with no other reason (no friends, no other reason to visit) but it's definitely made me choose one location over another (New Orleans over Miami for example) because I like the food better.

Write about what you eat when you're alone. Is it any different from what you eat when you have friends over, or even when you're eating with your s/o or kids? Why is that?

No, not really. I eat the same thing when Josh is around as when he isn't. The only difference is that when I'm by myself I will sometimes forget to eat. My favorite two foods to make for myself are potatoes sauteed with a TON of garlic in olive oil and tortilla soup. I like to make those particularly for myself because I don't like to share them :) When friends are around, we tend to go out to eat, although several of them (Rachel and Erin, I'm talking to you!) have taken to cooking with me when we visit, which I LOVE.

What were you doing on March 25, 2008?

I don't really remember but I think that was when I went on my Hong Kong/Taiwan/China trip for work. It was absolutely excellent. I particularly loved Taiwan and would travel there again in a second. It was beautiful with lots of trees and mountains, the people were nice, the food was great, and it was amazingly inexpensive after Hong Kong and Japan.

Looking back: What were you doing one week ago, one month ago, one year ago, and 10 years ago?

One week ago: I was in New Orleans. I LOVE New Orleans. I have so much fun there and the food is absolutely delicious. It's easily my favorite place in the US.

One month ago: I was in Montreal. I liked Montreal but I found it frustrating--I actually found it easier to get around in Tokyo than in Montreal--there was definitely more English around and I don't speak French.

One year ago: I was at the Iowa State Fair and I had just returned from two months in Tokyo. Talk about a giant difference!

Ten years ago: I had just graduated high school and was getting ready to go start Iowa State University. It was incredibly exciting and incredibly scary. I always knew I wanted to go to college but it was my first big move and none of my friends were coming with.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Red beans and rice (p. 256)

As all regular TJOTJOC readers know, I absolutely love New Orleans. It's easily my favorite city in the US. I like everything about it--the people are interesting, the bars are intimate and fun (assuming you aren't on Bourbon street), the food is amazing, and there are places with interesting historical significance everywhere you turn. So it seemed to be the absolute perfect place to have my bachelorette party! My bridesmaids all met me down there for a weekend of fun. I went down a couple of days early because one of my very best friends since sixth grade also lives in NOLA. Erin has been consistently supportive of TJOTJOC since it's inception and proposed that we make a New Orleans recipe out of TJOC while I was down there--a perfect idea!

(I also gifted her with a copy for her birthday and it was very rewarding to give TJOC to someone who loves it as much as I do).

We settled on Red beans and rice (p. 256) partially because it's my very favorite New Orleans dish and I order it obsessively while I'm down there. I really loved being able to get authentic andouille too--if I made the dish in Fort Collins I would have had to use Kielbasa which is totally different.

In a stockpot we combined water, ham hocks, celery, onions, bell peppers, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, pepper, and ground red pepper. We also included a little of my dad's incredibly incredibly hot pepper powder mix (if you want some, send me an email, I'm sure he would be willing to part with some more).

It was cooked for about an hour and then the ham hock was removed. The beans (quick soaked) were added and the concoction was cooked for another hour.

The ham was shredded off the bone--this is Erin shredding. (I'm sorry I cut off your head in this picture! Next time I come, we will take a better picture with us and the food)

The meat from the ham hocks, along with a pound of smoked andouille sausage (sliced diagonally), was added back to the red beans.

The red beans were then ladled onto rice:

So how was it? Absolutely delicious. And very very authentic tasting. I know what you all are thinking--how would Jessica the Iowan/Coloradoan know authentic New Orleans cuisine? Well, I wouldn't. But Erin and her boyfriend Jian (a native!) would--and they both said it was excellent. I'm sometimes critical of the authenticity of TJOC's ethnic or regional recipes but this one was really good and I'm now very hopeful for their gumbo and jambalaya recipes.

The bachelorette party went extremely well and was incredibly fun! I can't wait to get back to the Big Easy.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pasta primavera (p. 327)

Pasta primavera (p. 327) is a dish that I like but never order and have never made. I'm not sure why I've never made it--I think it's because every recipe I've ever spotted for it seems to require a very specific mix of vegetables that I don't have on hand. TJOC is much more flexible in it's vegetable requirements and (basically) just required what you have on hand. And I had a terrific cache of fresh vegetables from my dad.

I cooked zucchini and green beans in some salted water and then fished them out with a sieve and rinsed them under cold water (to stop them from cooking further). The vegetables weren't drained so that the hot water could but used to cook the spaghetti, which was a time-efficient step.

An onion and a couple carrots were then cooked in a olive oil and butter. The cooked squash and beans were added, along with some peas.

Heavy cream was stirred in to the vegetables:

The pasta, along with Parmesan cheese, was stirred in after the cream reduced and thickened.

How was it? Pretty good! I actually really enjoyed it and it fried up absolutely perfectly--in fact I think it was better the next day. Now that I realize you can make pasta primavera with any vegetables, I'll be sure to make it again, espacially when people have given me fresh vegetables. I also am happy to have it in my repotoire in case I ever have a vegetarian dinner guest, since it seems to be the go-to vegetarian meal for banquets.

Sauteed summer squash (p. 308) and Montreal

I'm amazingly behind in my blog, yet again. It's been an eventful summer! Between June and August, I went to Chicago, Des Moines, Montreal, New Orleans, and Fayetteville--I've been super busy.

When I was in Montreal I went with my father to an amazing deli for lunch. I had never had a terrine before and always thought they seemed really retro (and not in a cool way). We happened to be in Montreal for Bastille Day (I didn't really think I should be celebrating something as horrific and bloody as the French Revolution, but when in Rome...) and were served a TERRIFIC cheese and meat platter with a truly delicious terrine. My TJOC only has one terrine recipe (and it's chocolate), which really surprised me. At times I think that TJOC seems much more retro than it actually is.

I also decided to eat the famous Canadian poutine. Poutine is ubiquitous across Canada and is even sold in fast food restaurants. It's an absolutely bizarre concoction. French fries, topped with cheese curds and brown gravy. And it's delicious.

Back to TJOC, I made Sauteed summer squash (p. 308) out of some yellow squash that dad gave me from his giant garden. I love summer squash even though my father tried his damnedest to make me hate it--at dad's house in the summer, most dinners consisted of pork, summer squash, green beans, and beets.

The recipe was easy--I cooked some onion (also from dad's garden) in a little butter, then added diced squash and a little salt and pepper. TJOC states that it should only take six minutes but it took my squash about a half hour to cook (par for the course, I think just about everything in TJOC takes much longer to cook than it should).

How was it? Very tasty. The squash was soft without being soggy and had a nice crispy buttery outside. It's a perfect choice for anyone who has an overproducing garden. And I could eat a LOT of summer squash before being sick of it.