Saturday, December 25, 2010

Shrimp tempura (p. 388)

I essentially make Shrimp tempura (p. 388) every year for Christmas Eve, I refused to make it again and not count it as "TJOTJOC made".

In our Italian-American household, Christmas Eve is meat-free. I think it's sort of a "Feast of the Seven Fishes" holdover, just with fewer types of fish. Christmas tends to be a Thanksgiving style meal (turkey or ham, sweet potatoes, mashed poatoes, etc.) while Christmas Eve has a pasta with a squid/crab/lobster sauce, fried shrimp/calamari/cauliflower, stuffed calamari, etc. It's one of my favorite meals of the year. Several years ago, the frying related jobs became my duty and I always use TJOC's tempura batter.

I peeled and cleaned the shrimp, leaving the tails. I dipped the shrimp in the batter, carefully placed them in the fryer, cooked them for a few minutes and drained them. Make sure all of your shellfish are as dry as possible--otherwise the oil will spit and it's really dangerous. I also recommend an apron.

The shrimp are on the left side of the picture:

Delicious, as always! I love this batter. It's light, crisp, and doesn't overwhelm the shellfish. If I had a deep-fryer that was less of a hassle to wrestle out of the cabinet, I would make these far more often.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Panfried or Lyonnaise potatoes (p. 297)

I am almost finished with the TJOC potato options but mom had a bag of Yukon gold (my favorites!) new potatoes. Perfect time to make Panfried or Lyonnaise potatoes (p. 297)!

In one skillet, I cooked onion slices in butter:

I boiled potatoes and then sliced them (I chose against peeling them). I sauteed them in a skillet with butter:

When both the potatoes and onions were done, I combined them.

DELICIOUS! It's amazing how something so simple can be so great.

I will come clean--until fairly recently I didn't like onions. I decided that it was something I really needed to get over because there are onions in essentially everything. I have made terrific progress on changing my tastes in the meantime--I am now fine with cooked onions, just not raw onions.

The onions are cooked to almost crispy but were nice and sweet. The potatoes were crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside. I will make this again--no question (but I'm going to add garlic). Cheap ingredients, easy, and delicious--the food trifecta.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Roasted garlic dressing (p. 575)

I decided to make salad dressing and Roasted garlic dressing (p. 575) sounded pretty damn delicious.

I roasted a head of garlic and some shallots with a little olive oil. They went from this:

To this:

Doesn't that look amazingly tasty? I combined them (obviously after peeling the garlic) with olive oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, thyme, rosemary, and bit of salt and pepper and blended in the small food processor:

I added olive oil while running the blender (yes, I switched from a little food processor to a blender, making two appliances dirty):

How was it? It was certainly simple. I love roasted garlic, shallots, Dijon mustard, pretty much every ingredient in this salad dressing. But something about it just didn't work for me. It was oddly sweet and didn't have much garlic flavor (bizarre for how much garlic was in the recipe). I probably won't make it again--it was pretty boring and TJOC has much, much better and more flavorful salad dressing recipes.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Vegetable stock (p. 119)

I know from experience that whatever vegetables I leave in the refrigerator when I leave Josh for a couple weeks will be liquefied and disgusting by the time I get back. For some reason, it never occurs to him to look for vegetables and/or throw them out. I have accepted this about him and now try to use all vegetables before I leave. I thought that Vegetable stock (p. 119) would be a good use for the veggies I had on hand so I could use them before I left for Iowa.

I cooked onion, celery, carrots, turnips (I had turnips!), salt, bouquet garni, pepper, and red pepper in a little butter until softened (no parsnips, I used an extra carrot):

I added cold water to cover:

And cooked for a couple hours:

I strained out all the veggies and I had vegetable stock! It was really good. The stock had a nice, complex flavor and the sweetness of the carrots was nicely balanced by the turnips and onion. I particularly liked the mild spiciness that the pepper added. Of course, there isn't a whole lot to say about stock. So I will do what I do when I have almost nothing to say:

A vegetable stock haiku
Veggie-table stock
Sort of boring, control the salt
Great ingredient

Obviously, this recipe would be vegan if you used vegetable oil rather than butter.
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sauerbraten (p. 478) and Potato dumplings (kartoffelklosse) (p. 335)

I stumbled upon a boneless beef roast for a decent price at the grocery store and thought I would make Sauerbraten (p. 478). Josh loves of Germany and I thought he would enjoy eating a (TJOC-version of a ) German meal.

I heated white vinegar, water, onion, bay leaves, peppercorn, and sugar in a pot:

I poured the marinade over the beef in a casserole dish and popped it in the refrigerator, where it sat, getting turned occasionally, for 4 days.

After the fourth day, I drained the marinade off of the meat, and browned the meat in a little vegetable oil. I then cooked it like beef pot roast. When the meat became "tender" (honestly, I didn't think it ever got particularly tender), I sprinkled brown sugar on top of the meat (it was less a "sprinkle" and more a "slather".

I cooked the meat for about ten minutes more and then removed the meat to a container (not a platter, we weren't doing anything fancy for dinner):

I was left with this:

I wanted to thicken the gravy but I didn't want it to be lumpy, so I added a little of the cooking liquid to the flour and then mixed it in:

I added sour cream to the gravy. And it was done! I sliced meat, poured gravy on the top, and put it on top of some riced potatoes (fortunately, I had some potatoes left over after the potato dumpling debacle that follows):

I didn't like it.

I didn't like it at all.

It's very possible I just don't like sauerbraten. I don't know--I've never had it before. It was certainly sour. I REALLY disliked the sweet sugary gravy and the meat was still tough. I won't be making this recipe again. Josh thought it was less horrible than I did but he didn't think it was very good either. For those of you who have eaten sauerbraten before, what is it supposed to be like?

I thought that I should make Potato dumplings (kartoffelklosse) (p. 335) to go with the sauerbraten since TJOC insists it's traditional. The recipe looked fairly simple, even though I'd never made dumplings before.

I boiled potatoes and riced them in to a bowl. I added two eggs (make sure the potatoes are cold at this point or you will end up with potatoes with chunks of cooked egg sprinkled throughout), flour, and salt:

I formed them in to balls and then dropped them in boiling water.

They totally disintegrated. Honestly, this is what was left of my potato dumplings:

While re-reading the "About Dumplings" section (or, perhaps, reading it for the first time), I now notice that it says not to let the water boil but simply keep the water at a light simmer. I'm pretty sure that was my main problem. I really can't judge this recipe since it was a complete disaster. I should probably try it again (we will see, I'm not very motivated to make it again, and I'm counting it off the list). If someone wants to do a guest post using this recipe, I would totally be up for it.

This brings to mind a question--When a recipe fails, probably due to something I did, should I still count it off or should I have to make it again? I would love to know your opinion on this.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Pork shoulder with mustard and rosemary sauce (p. 99)

I'm not big on using the slow-cooker. I have an irrational fear of burning down the house and I don't like to leave appliances, especially heated appliances, plugged in while I'm gone (I honestly don't see why most people think it's okay to leave the slow-cooker plugged in but not a coffee pot or curling iron). Because of this fear, I am unwilling to leave the house when the slow cooker is on, which means I tend to run it overnight. This causes my food to be ready first thing in the morning, exactly when I don't feel like packaging it up and putting it away. Thus, I don't use my slow cooker very frequently.

Rachel had told me that Pork shoulder with mustard and rosemary sauce (p. 99) was delicious, so I had been looking forward to making it for some time. Unfortunately, meat is rather expensive in Colorado and a bone-in pork shoulder was going to run me about $20 or so, which seemed unreasonable. I was looking through the sale section at the grocery store and spotted a six and a half pound bone-in picnic shoulder for $5. FIVE DOLLARS! Perfect.

Searing my pork shoulder was challenging--none of my pots or pans was really big enough and it was challenging to get in or out.

When I removed the pork, I added an onion, a carrot, and garlic to the pan:

I then added chicken broth, dry white wine, and rosemary to the veggies:

I poured it over the pork and set the slow cooker. TJOC says to cook it for 5 or 6 hours.

I cooked mine overnight, so it was much more like 10-12 hours:

It was a good sign that it was almost impossible to get out of the slow cooker--it was literally* falling off the bone. I drained off the cooking liquid and put the pork in a casserole dish that would fit in the refrigerator.

I melted a half stick of butter and then added a little flour and cooked for a couple minutes:

I whisked in the cooking liquid from the slow cooker and added some Dijon mustard:

Poured the gravy over some pork, all on egg noodles:

This pork dish was DELICIOUS. It was incredibly good. The mustard lent a delicious tang, the gravy was some of the best I've ever had. I could sit and drink a cup of the gravy, as disgusting as that sounds. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender. And it was perfect on egg noodles. Plus, if you don't have an irrational fear of burning down the house, it would be incredibly easy. It makes a TON of food too--TJOC says eight to ten servings but I think that's low--but it won't be a problem because you will want to eat it all anyway.

In fact, it was so good, that Josh, who never thinks to put anything in the freezer, made sure to freeze the leftovers before he left for Christmas.

*As those of you who know me in real life know, the misuse of the word "literally" is my absolutely biggest pet peeve. Your head did not "literally" explode because you saw something that made you mad. It metaphorically exploded. You are not "literally" the only person in the world. And so on. It is literally my biggest pet peeve and metaphorically makes me murderous when I hear it.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Quick turkey tetrazzini (p. 96)

I'm not sure why I decided to make Quick turkey tetrazzini (p. 96) (see a theme over the last couple of days?). We had plenty of food and I was leaving for Iowa and then Florida in a week (so I didn't need much in the way of food in the house). I liked the (not quick) turkey tetrazzini that I made a couple of months ago.

This quick recipe pretty much substitutes Cream of Mushroom soup for making the sauce from scratch.

I mixed the cream of mushroom soup and chicken together. I then mixed in the cooked noodles:

It all went in a buttered dish, with Parmesan cheese over the top:

The casserole was popped in the oven:

Tasty! In fact, I think it was better than the longer version--it was certainly no worse. I like the crunchy topping and think it would be even better with breadcrumbs too. Next time I make this, I might add some cheese to the noodle mixture, I think it would make it more interesting (it's a rather bland recipe). It's amazing how simply switching spaghetti out for elbow macaroni makes this dish so much more appealing to me.

I think this casserole would be absolutely perfect for bringing over for a family who may have just had a new baby or something like that. It's bland enough that I think most children would like it but interesting enough that the parents would like it too. Plus, it's comfort food. Pure comfort food.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Brownies cockaigne (p. 762)

Disclaimer: I don't like brownies. I'm probably the only person in the US who doesn't like brownies. So it's a real mystery why I decided to make Brownies cockaigne (p. 762) when there are so many tastier looking cookies in the chapter. This recipe has appeared in every edition of TJOC since the original 1931 edition (one of only 9 recipes to be in every edition, I think).

I melted butter and baker's chocolate in a small saucepan, then let it cool down completely (TJOC threatens utter disaster if the chocolate doesn't cool completely).

I beat eggs and salt in a bowl until foamy:

I beat in sugar and vanilla, then added the cooled chocolate:

I mixed the chocolate into the sugar mixture with a couple strokes, then added a cup of flour until just combined. TJOC mentioned that if I wanted the brownies to be cakey, I should make the brownies in a 9x9 pan rather than a 13x9 pan, which I did.

I cooked the brownies for about 30 minutes but they weren't done. So I cooked them a little longer. I finally took them out and they looked like this:

Very odd. The top was as hard as a rock and the inside wasn't completely cooked. It was like the top was a cookie and the inside was molten. The brownies were good heated up and with ice cream but, even then, I can't say it was even a decent brownie, much less the best I've ever had. Maybe I needed the bigger pan because of the altitude?

I'm not sure why this particular disaster occurred. Does anyone know what happened?

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Coddled eggs (p. 194) and Pumpkin soup (p. 129)

Coddled eggs (p. 194) have never looked that delicious to me. I'm not a big fan of eggs (straight eggs--I love eggs as a component) and I particularly don't like soft eggs, like coddled eggs.

I brought water to a boil over high heat:

I cracked an egg in to a little bowl:

And slowly poured the egg in the water:

I had leftover hash browns from Snooze, which I thought would be the perfect base for my coddled egg. If you ever happen to be in Fort Collins, Colorado, I really recommend getting breakfast at Snooze--it's absolutely delicious and one of my favorite places in town.

Josh ate the egg and said it was good. The yolk was runny and the white seemed more softthan it is with a fried egg (which makes sense, there is a big difference in how proteins cook in water or without it). Do people commonly eat coddled eggs? I've never known people to say they love coddled eggs but it hasn't really came up in conversation before.

I've been looking forward to knocking Pumpkin soup (p. 129) off the list for quite a while. I tried to make it several times but it turns out that pumpkin is a seasonal food and isn't sold before about October. I couldn't find it in my regular grocery store after Thanksgiving either! Fortunately, Whole Foods still had a big pyramid of cans.

I cooked onions and celery in butter until soft. I then added pumpkin, chicken stock, heavy cream, brown sugar, ginger, and salt and pepper and heated it through:

I was not impressed at all with this soup. For one thing, it seemed like it needed to be blended at the end (I did not like the little chunks of celery and onion). It also seemed overly thin, which I didn't like. I thought the flavor was very bland and I can't see bothering to make it again, especially when I really liked the butternut squash soup much better.

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