dichroic: (oar asterisk)

You know what’s really frustrating, in that “good problem to have” kind of way? When you’ve made a really amazing dinner, and have no idea why. Herewith, an analysis of the components.

  • Flatiron steak: we have these all the time – for some reason, they’re a lot cheaper than flank steaks where we live, though when visiting family in Philadelphia I’ve found flank sakes as reasonably priced there as they were when Mom served them to us. This one might have been a little thicker than usual, because it was a perfect mix of charred on the outside with (pink on the end parts I eat, red in the middle for Ted who likes his steaks medium rare). I usually cook this for 8 minutes on one side, 5 on the other, but gave this one a little extra time until the thermometer said it was done. We let it ‘rest’ 5:00 or so
  • Grilled endive: I had this once on ausiness trip to Toledo – not my favorite city, but I did like this restaurant, which I think was the Registry Bistro. I’ve made this at home once before, but this time was much better – I just cut the endive in halves, made a cut in the base as most recipes instruct, drizzled them with oive oil and salt, and put them on the grill for a few minutes less than the meat – maybe 5′ and 3′.
  • When I had bruschetta for yesterday’s dinner there was some tomato mixture left over, so I topped the endive with it.
  • Then we had bread, from the easiest recipe ever (recipe makes dough for four or so loaves, you pull off a chunk and bake it when you want some) and some olive oil with herbs, pepper and salt to dip it into.
  • And finally, some not too fancy wine we picked up during my birthday weekend in McMinnville: Three Wines Remy’s Red, which was redolent of cherries and balsamic, is reasonably priced, and went so well with this meal that we’re wondering if we should head back to McMinnville and buy a case of it. Tasty stuff, and might be very interesting to age a few years.

So, no idea why this dinner combined so well, but yum. Timely, too: today I took Ted in for his first colonoscopy (just because we’ve hit the age where theey start perpetuating such indignities on us) so after a day on a liquid diet and various other unpleasantries, he needed a good dinner. Tomorrow: shrimp etouffee.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

Last night’s dinner was so tasty that I wanted to write it up. These are not proper shrimp po’boys; proper ones have the shrimp breaded and fried, and the remoulade sauce is much more complicated. However, these are easier to make at home for one or two people, mostly involved stuff I had on hand (I just had to buy the bread) and are extremely tasty with a real Cajun flavor. Quantities given are for one sandwich; it would be easy to double or triple.

small baguette (I used half of what the local fancy supermarket calls a mini French baguette), sliced in half for a sandwich
about 6 medium shrimp per sandwich – big enough to be satisfying to bite into, small enough to fit on the bread
small tomato
Lettuce (I used red-leaf, that being what I had)
Cajun seasoning
Cooking oil

Hasty Remoulade sauce approximation
mayonnaise – about 2 heaping Tbsp
pickle juice
Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced or crushed

In a small bowl, mix the mayo with around 1/2tsp pickle juice, a dash of Tabasco, a sploosh of Worcestershire sauce and the garlic. Stir and set aside. Heat a bit of oil in a saute pan. Meanwhile, toss the shrimp with a generous amount of Cajun seasoning. Saute the shrimp until pink all the way through; while they’re cooking, slice the tomato and cut the lettuce into ribbons. Toast the bread (I just put it under the broiler for a couple minutes). Spoon the remoulade sauce onto both halves of the bread. Line up the shrimp on the bottom half, top with the lettuce and tomato.

THIs time it was actually possible to eat the sandwich as a sandwich; other times I’ve had to use a knife and fork. It probably depends most on the relative sizes of bread and shrimp. But I cooked nearly half a pound of shrimp, and cut up too much lettuce and tomato (as i always do) so whatever didn’t fit on the sandwich I ate as a salad. It was awfully good.

Tonight Ted had his third work dinner in a row (apparently the snow we’re having didn’t make them cancel it, silly people) so I had bangers and mash, if that’s the proper term for andouille sausage and mashed potatoes made with garlic and sour cream. This may actually be the first time in my life I’ve used up an entire container of sour cream without having any of it go bad (excepting times when I bought the container and used it all in a single recipe).

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

Sorted into what they used to call “heads” in old sermons (gratuitous L.M. Montgomery reference there) so I don’t just meander confusingly.

I. Rowing and such
My shoulder has been bothering me this week, to the point where I didn’t erg Wednesday or yesterday. Nothing really wrong, I don’t think, just a strain that hurts enough that it seemed smart to rest it. This is not good, partly because of that race coming up next month, and partly because my blood pressure seems to be up lately and the only thing I know to fix that is to lose a few pounds (literally a few, just 5 or so seems to help). At least it wasn’t raining yesterday afternoon, so since I couldn’t row I got in a couple miles’ walk.

II. Yarn Crawl
Tomorrow is the Rose City Yarn Crawl! Or rather, it runs from yesterday through Sunday, but tomorrow is the day I’m going on it. I really, really don’t need more yarn – what I need is time to knit the yarn I have – but I enjoyed it last year, and the LYS is once again fielding a limo to visit several of the participating stores. It’s a bit expensive to ride along ($80) but I’m considering it as a birthday treat.

III. Birthday
Next weekend for my actual birthday (well, the day after) we’re going to spend a three-day wine weekend in Dundee, a town a little south of here where you can’t throw a stone without hitting a grapevine. I’ve been wanting to go for a while, so asked to make it this year’s birthday trip. There will be much wine tasted and probably some great food as well.

IV. Parallax and poetry
There is a really cool parallax effect I see when rowing on our lake, and I’ve been trying to get it into a poem, but it’s resisting with all claws out like a cat being put into a carrier. (Actually, our current cats are more cooperative.) I tend to row fairly close to the shore, especially in cold weather, because it feels safer. There’s a park on the far side of the lake, with some fairly tall trees near the water’s edge. When I’m close to them, the trees are all I see; as I paddle further away from shore, of course the trees sink into the distance – but magically a mountain rises up behind them. Close in it’s hidden by the trees and some low hills, but from further out you can see that the mountain is way higher than the trees. There is a fairly obvious analogy in this for daily life, too, about the big things being hidden by near-term petty concerns, but it might be too didactic to add that to the poem.

V. On a foodie note – cod is still not my favorite fish, but I can recommend this recipe for it with mustard-caper sauce. What a pleasant change, to try a new recipe that only takes about 15 minutes and very little effort to make. Ted suggested that the sauce might also be good on asparagus, as well as other white fish. One warning: that recipe is from Real Simple, who have an annoying habit of giving instructions for a whole dinner at once, with ingredients and instructions for each thing all muddled up together. The Bibb lettuce, red onion and cucumbers are for a salad on the side and are not part of the fish recipe. (We had Brussels sprouts with it instead, that being what I wanted to use up). On the other hand, the spaghetti squah we had the night before will not be repeated – it’s clear that winter squashes in all forms are not welcome in my household. Though I may serve this tomato sauce with gremolata again, only over actual pasta. I used a mix of canned and fresh tomatoes, but it would be better with fresh ones only – maybe Roma ones for cooking and an heirloom one on top.

VI. Knitting
I cast on another project last night, bringing my total WiPs to four. Annoyed at myself for this. I know lots of people enjoy having many projects in work at once. That’s great if it’s what you like, just not for me. I try to keep not more than two in work, because I like finishing things – I get tired of a project when it’s been in work too long. I don’t really seem to have that much time to knit – or don’t focus on it when I do – so having too many projects going just drags everything out.

Currently I’ve got 1) a lightweight sweater (Cecchetti) that has the body and one sleeve done, second sleeve barely started. The body on this went nice and fast, sleeves seem to be taking for-freaking-ever. Also, I put it aside with the advent of cooler weather, because it’s more of a summer sweater. Unfortunately I think the sleeves may end up a little tight. 2) a Dr. Who tie for my brother Hitchhiker necktie). Speaking of taking forever! I thought I’d knock this out in a week for his December birthday, but here it is March and it’s only 36” done. I’m into the narrower part, so it’s going faster now, but moss stitch is an unfortunate combination of slow to knit and boring. 3) Another, heavier sweater (Wisteria) – this one has the body done and I’m into the cabling at the bottom of the first sleeve. I’m still loving this one and would be happy to spend all my knitting time on it, but it has gotten too bulky to carry around to knitting outings or on travel, so that does justify one other project. Also, I’m sad that it won’t be done in time to wear this winter, because it’s beautiful. And 4) a shawl I cast on a few days ago, for no good reason but the desire to do something different. (All Things Oregon). I don’t know why. This is part of a local MKAL and it just looked like fun. Also, I’m doing it in rustic brown and beige yarns, so it will be different from any other shawl I own, while still going well with some colors I wear. At least the clues only come out every two weeks, so I’m hoping it won’t be too hard to keep up with.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

While writing about the pot roast I forgot to mention my other adventures for the weekend: On Saturday I made apple/pear fruit leather, and we visited a couple of local wineries.

The fruit leather was basically the Best Thing Ever: easy to make, uses up a lot of those apples and pears we keep getting from the CSA, and very tasty. First I made applesauce (well, apple & pear sauce), which is ridiculously simple by itself: peel and cut up 4-5 pieces of fruit, boil with with some water, sugar and cinnamon for half an hour or so, and mash it up. To make the leather, spread it out on a silicone baking mat and bake at 170F for six hours or so. I basically screwed everything up; I cooked the sauce for an hour and a half, after managing *not* to turn off the stove before starting a workout, so there was no extra liquid left and the fruit had a few blackened bits. This made it harder to spread out in a thin layer; it remains to be seen if being less liquidy made for better fruit leather texture. Then the oven decided it doesn’t like staying on for a long time at low temperature – it had the same problem Sunday while trying to cook the pot roast at 225F for 3 hours. Seems like the gas doesn’t always relight when it tries to – fortunately the gas does NOT keep flowing when this happens – and then the oven doesn’t realize it needs to be warmer so it doesn’t try again. But neither of those issues spoiled the taste any. We went out to the wineries, the oven was barely warm when we came back, so I turned it back on and gave it another hour.

The wineries were interesting too.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

Ted did something this weekend that he rarely does: requested a specific dinner (pot roast) because he wanted something that would go well with some of the Abacela wines we wanted to taste head to head. You can see the wine discussion over at Avontuur but I wanted to talk some more about the pot roast here.

The All-American pot roast recipe from The Food Lab (TFL) is astonishingly good, but it’s also kind f a pain in the ass to cook. Before I tried that, though, I thought I had my pot roast dialed in with the one from The Pioneer Woman (TPW), which is very good and is considerably less trouble. So today I tried to heterodyne the two; I browned the meat before the vegetables (TFL), and got the carrots well browned (TFL), which allowed me to add in a slurry of tomato paste, soy sauce and grated garlic (TFL, but they also call for marmite and anchovies) and some flour (TFL). On the other hand I used only a cup or two of wine rather than a whole bottle (TPW) plus chicken stock rather than beef (TFL), did not add gelatin to my stock (as TFL calls for), and most of all, ate it when it was done instead of keeping it for a day or more as TFL prescribes. I tried cooking it in the oven (TFL) but gave up and put it on top of the stove (TPW) when my oven didn’t seem to be maintaining temperature.

TFL calls for the addition of carrots, chopped onions and potatoes; TPW for carrots and halved onions with mashed potatoes on the side. I added carrots, chopped onions, parsnips and turnips.

Verdict: I am not convinced that the addition of the tomato/garlic slurry made much difference; mostly it came out tasting like a TPW pot roast – good, but not stellar. We have enough left over to have for another dinner; after it’s been int he fridge for a day or two I’ll discard the fats that rise to the top, which I think will improve it, but I’m not sure if it will make that much difference flavorwise. I think it’s useful to have both recipes handy: one simpler and good, the other more work intensive and great.

The parsnips and turnips were definitely a good addition, though: more subtle flavors and textural differences added to the pot roast base.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (oar asterisk)

The two wines of this weekend.

Also some notes about why and whether to hold a wine in your mouth for 30 seconds while tasting – warning, it can be unpleasant!

Tonight we had roasted cabbage and beets with our steaks, as well as some bread baked for a dough we forgot and left here at the lake house after Christmas. Conclusions: roasted cabbage is ok as a way to use up cabbage, but not worth buying it to make specially; and even though the recipe I use for bread is fine when you keep the dough for a week or even two, three weeks is definitely pushing it.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

dichroic: (Default)
Not-very good steak; burned fried potatoes; mushrooms fried in butter; salad; burned garlic bread.

None of it was really my fault; I'm adjusting to new ingredients and new equipment, and Ted was supposed to be watching the garlic bread. And the steak was what the supermarket sells (I didn't buy a steak when was at the butcher because I already had these.) Also everything took forever too cook and then seemed to burn very quickly (it didn't help that it took me a while to realize that every time you open the oven you have to hit the Start button again.

Not my fault, but I don't think I get any good wife points for this dinner* :(

At least the wine was good.

*No, it's not like Ted expects it, and in fact he does about half the cooking. It's just that when you cook for someone, especially when he's visiting in *your* house, you want it to be tasty.
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- An occupational hazard of iPod-shuffled songs: apparently " 'Til Then" makes me cry now. (From the musical 1776, taken from the letters of John and Abigail Adams, a couple who knew something about job-related separations. )

- If you liked Flora Segunda and Flora's Dare, you may like James Kennedy's The Order of Odd-Fish. What the two have in common is scrappy young heroines, whimsy, and world-building of a place like nothing you've read before (the two worlds are sufficiently different from each other that it's accurate to say that even after you've read one.)

- Wow, Lord Dunsany really sucks as an exercise audiobook - that's not a criticism of quality, just of fitness for a peculiar purpose. I was about to say that Cat Valente's work would be terrible for working out to for the same reason, until I remembered The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland which would actually work pretty well. I think what I need for distraction is compelling plot; in Dunsany's Book of Wonder, for instance, the plot of the first story is "centaur kidnaps bride"; all the rest is just scene-setting. I suppose.

- Speaking of books I've recently listened to while working out, Little Lord Fauntleroy is much better than it gets credit for being. In contrast to The Secret Garden, The Lost Prince or even A Little Princess, Little Lord Fauntleroy is actually a funny book, and I'm pretty sure all the humor is intentional. And yeah, he's described as a beautiful child in red trousers (or velvet suits for dress-up) with long hair, but he's a little boy - seven at the oldest in the story. I think Burnett gets a bad rap because she was so cordially hated by all the twelve-year-old boys forced into Fauntleroy suits by doting mothers.

- Even though I didn't read anything mentioned here on it, the Kindle is still the Best Thing Ever for an immigrant whose books are mostly either in storage or in transit. Other than e-books, I now have about two linear feet of books here, and several of those are things like an English-Dutch dictionary or guidebooks to Amsterdam and Brussels rather than, y'know, reading books.

- And outside the literary world, cooking beef in a Dutch oven for about 5 hours with about 1.5 cups of liquid (1/2 c. water and 1/2 c. of wine to start, more water added for the last 2 hours when I added potatoes and carrots) didn't quite work. The beef was fork-tender but dry; I think I need either fattier beef, more liquid, or a lower cooking temperature.


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April 2019

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