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So far, that bland chicken pot pie has been the only recipe from Real Simple that has steered me wrong. (If I do it again, I’ll swap out the carrots, thyme and most of the peas for cilantro and chili, and make a New Mexico version). Tonight I made their
Flank steak with artichoke/pepper/bread salad. Both parts of this were excellent and they went well together. It all cooked (and in the case od the flank steak, rested) really fast – I did some quick web research and apparently resting after cooking helps meat stay much juicier. The only change I made to the flank steak was to put it in a plastic bag with marinade as it was thawing. I don’t remember the details, but there was olive oil, sliced garlic, balsamic and a bit of white vinegar, and probably something or other sweet. The only downside to the recipes is that I think flank steak has lost its status as a good cheap meal. Our local supermarket charged me over $13 for a pound and a half of it, and as Ted pointed out, you can get a decent steak for that. Then again, I don’t want to eat steak every night, and this was a good change.

Friday we’ll be closing on our new place and on Saturday everything in the world is being delivered there. (Well, it seems that way – fridge, washer, dryer, all of the furniture that isn’t backordered, and the rug). SO Friday we’ll probably do take out, though if the crockpot, or Dutch oven shown up in one of our boxes, I might make chlli Saturday. That leaves me with tomorrow, which I think will involve roasted chicken breasts, maybe with roasted new potatoes, and golden-crusted Brussels Sprouts. I do like that recipe – I’m still not altogether sure I like Brussels sprouts, but cheese saves everything.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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Actually, that title is untrue; I am the chief cook and Ted is the bottlewasher. Since I’m at home now, I have taken on the cooking, shopping and housekeeping duties. (Previously we split the cooking and we’ve had a housekeeping service for the last fifteen years of so.) It has some odd side effects; for instance, this morning I didn’t start work on my book (research, today) until 11AM and it felt like I was goofing off, but in that time I cleaned both bathrooms, mopped the kitchen floor, and worked out. That shouldn’t count as slacking!

Anyway, I’ve been doing a lot more elaborate cooking, since i’ve had time to do it and shop for ingredients. I’ve created a page for dinners we’ve had (at least, the ones that are worthy of note) and ideas for things to make in the future. You can see it there in the left sidebar of my main site. When recipes are online I’ve added a link, and I’ve noted changes I made. This is intended mostly for me, to remember what worked and to keep notes, but if anyone else is interested, it’s there. Questions and suggestions are welcome (for instance, I didn’t link to a chili recipe because it’s something I’ve been making for years, but I can give one if wanted).

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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SInce it looks like we’ll be setting up yet another kitchen, the following is mostly for me but may be useful to others. It is entirely idiosynratic. “Need” is stuff it really bothers me not to have; “want” is helpful. I’d be very interested in hearing what others would add or subtract.

Small skillet (for melting butter, or if you need to brown a few mushrooms or onions)
Good skillet with lid (mine is Le Creuset Dutch oven / stoofpot, 28cm / 11″ and it’s perfect – it doesn’t have a teflon finish, but things don’t stick much and it cleans easily)
Small pot (1 liter or so)
Large heavy soup pot (I have a Le Creuset 24 cm here and a 3l aluminum one in the US; I much prefer the former)
glass baking pan (for brownies, casseroles, etc)
glass bowl (can be used as mixing bowl but also can have casseroles baked in it, also for serving popcorn or vegetables)
2nd glass or metal bowl (for mixing batter, or serving popcorn)
popcorn popper (the kind with a built-in stirrer; you can pop good popcorn in a pot but you tend to ruin the pot in the process. What can I say, we eat a lot of popcorn.)
broiling pan
roasting pan (can just be the broiling pan minus broiling top)

Utensils / appliances:
Strainer (currently I have a collapsible rubber collander, a large perforated scoop and a splatter guard / screen that can be used for straining; if I had to choose just one, it would be the collander)
soup ladle
non-melting soft spatula (the one I use most has a small bulge that keeps the spoon part off the counter)
good chef’s knife
serrated knife (for tomatoes and crusty bread – prefer a small one for the former nad a large non-pointy one for the latter, but they could be combined)
tea strainer
large cutting board
beer bottle opener
Wood skewers (for testing baking, also for skewering shrimp or any other small thing to be grilled)
wine stoppers (preferably with a vacuum puller thingy)
coffee maker (I only drink decaf as an occasional thing, but Ted likes to be able to have it; could be a drip one, a French press or a Keurig-type)
measuring cup (English and metric, since I’ve been known to use both)
measuring spoons (I mean, basically I need a convenient way to measure anything from 1/4 tsp to 2 cups)
plastic containers, various sizes (for leftovers, though ziploc bags substitue in a pinch
plastic wrap
aluminum foil
wooden spoon
potato masher (I don’t use this or the baster often, but when you need one there are no good substitutes)

Serving / Eating
at least 4 dinner plates, pref. 6
at least 4 soup bowls, pref. 6
at least 4 water glasses, pref. 6
4 wineglasses
serving spoon
salad servers (using a regular fork and spoon doesn’t work well
sharp grater (I like the Pampered Chef ones)
silverware for 4, pref. 6
small ramekin (melting butter in the microwave, serving oil for dipping bread in, etc)
water bottles (I use these for rowing and erging, but also just while sitting around the house – I dehydrate easily)

electric kettle
smaller soup pot (I have a smaller Le Creuset Dutch oven and I use it for anything that doesn’t really need the big one)
blender (nice for things like Daiquiris or breakfast protein shakes; I can live without one but it means living without the things it makes)
small cutting board (easier to wash than the big one, if you don’t need the space
utility knife
champagne flutes
foil cutter (for wine bottles – you can use a knife but it doesn’t work that well)
jar opener (rubber)
large Dutch oven (I don’t have one but would like one big enough to roast a chicken or make large quantities of soup)
electric mixer
rolling pin (you can use a wine bottle as a substitute)
crockpot (you can use a Dutch oven as a substitute but a crockpot heats lower and more evenly)
food processor
garlic press or macerator (faster than mincing)
pizza stone (absorbs / radiates heat and evens out oven temps even when you aren’t making pizza)
glass pie dish (good for pies, layer dips and any shallow casserole)
silicone cover (for warming foods in the microwave without having them explose and make a mess)
tube pan (some cakes require one, including the Jewish Apple Cake I’ve meen making or helping make since I was tall enough to peel apples into the sink)
baking sheet (for cookies and underlying things that might overflow, though foil works for the latter; but pizza stone can stand in for one)
kitchen scale (actually I use this for yarn more than for cooking, but just now I used one to check the butter and oil for a Dutch brownie mix)
roasting rack (a want rather than a need because in a pinch you can use the broiler top or else sit the turkey on top of celery stalks and onions)

It’s not unlikely that I’ll remember ten more things later and update this post.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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That was actually pretty darn tasty. Pan-fried salmon (because we came back from Lisbon on Tuesday afternoon, and thus were actually not at work for once on Market Day) with sesame-soy drizzle (because, I am happy to report, Mark Bittman is much better on cooking than he is on baking) with a tomato-mozzarella salad (we’ll miss pearl mozzarella when we return to the US, though I’m sure that, like most things, it’s available there somewhere) and stir-fried snow-peas (having the frying pan very hot from the salmon meant they cooked in about 60 seconds) with lemon-pepper and herb blends on them. Of course, it would have been even nicer if our poor excuses for appliances didn’t take about twice as long to cook the salmon as they should have. It’s supposed to be about 6 minutes in the pan and another 3 on the broiler, but it was more like 10-12 in the an until they were cooked halfway through and maybe 6-8 under the combi’s broiler. (I wasn’t in a hurry, but hotter cooking gives those crispy edges I like.) I was very happy that even though the pan frying doesn’t involve any oil or other added fats, the salmon skin didn’t stick to my pan at all.

Yesterday was chili, because I had time to make it, and tomorrow will be rib night with the other American expats and visitors. (Actually, ribs are too fatty for me but I enjoy the company and the restaurant also has hamburgers that almost taste right.)

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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For being the first time with a new recipe, this was a raving success. I will write it down as I cooked it, with comments and things i want to try next time in parentheses. This is a good winter meal, and a good dish to cook on a quiet Sunday and have once or twice during the week. It would be very easy to multiply into a bigger batch, if you have a large enough pot.

~3 T vegetable oil
1 lb stew beef, diced into 3/4″ cubes (This being the Netherlands, I used ‘succade’. Any cheap, not too lean beef ought to work. I did trim off some of the excessive hard fat. If you live with a meat-lover, as I do, 1 1/2 pound might be better.)
1 t Hungarian paprika (I bought spicy paprika – not sweet – in Budapest. Normal AMerican varieties ought to work, but the spicy ones are probably better. You could also try mixing in a bit of smoked paprika, if you have any.)
6 cups beef or chicken broth (I confess I used bouillon cubes in water, 2/3 beef and 1/3 chicken
red wine vinegar (or red wine)
(1 small can tomato paste)
2 med onions, chopped
3 carrots, sliced into discs
4 medium potatoes, cubed
1 large tomato, roughly diced
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1/2 t caraway seeds (not having any, I skipped this. Tastes fine without, more authentic with.)
1 bay leaf
dile, thyme, oregano, salt & pepper to taste

1 eggs
1 c flour
~ 1/3 water
(this made an extremely sticky, elastic dough – perfect texture, but more and smaller dumplings would have been better. Next time I might try 2 eggs, more water and only slightly more flour)

Heat the oil in a 5 quart/liter stock pot or Dutch oven over medium Heat. Brown beef cubes on all sides, then remove onto a plate with a slotted spoon. Sprinkle the beef with lots of paprika. Saute the onion in the remaining oil/beef fat until soft but not brown. Remove on top of the beef, season with more paprika. (By the time the onions were done, most of the beef fat was gone or dried. Next time I may deglaze the pot with red wine (dd a little wine, scrape beef bits from bottom of pot) instead of adding vinegar in next step.) Add broth to pot, bring to simmer, add seasoned beef and onions plus a slosh of vinegar or wine (stir in tomato paste now if you’re using it). Simmer over low heat for two hours until the beef is tender. Add in vegetables and herbs about 30 minutes before serving.

As soon as they’re in, beat egg, add flour, salt and water and add bits of dough into the soup by teaspoonfuls (or preferably smaller). Simmer about 20 minutes more, until potatoes are soft and dumplings are done.


Further comments:
This was probably the most successful soup / stew I’ve made with Dutch beef. I finally got it tender – I had two friend-tested recipes for goulash that resulted in chunks of beef instead of soup, but based on previous experience I was pretty sure the beef they sell here wouldn’t soften unless it was submerged in liquid. The recipe I began with (same basic quantities except that I added a few things and got the dumplings from a different recipe) said this serves 6; it made about 2 meals for the two of us. Ted eats a lot but not *that* much, so four dinners or 6-8 first courses seems about right – he did comment that having the dumplings in made it the soup filling enough to be a meal for him. Ours wasn’t too far off the kind we had in Budapest; theirs was redder and more oily – possibly due to using paprika paste instead of powder. Next time I’d use more paprika (mine sifted out fairly slowly from the container) and maybe add some tomato paste as noted above. Of course homemade beef broth would be better than instantAlso, if I’d been smarter I’d have bought some crusty bread when I went shopping yesterday (one problem with Dutch stores being closed on Sundays is not having fresh bread with Sunday meals, which is when I tend to do my more serious cooking).

Another possibility instead of dumplings: they sell this stuff here called “tarly“, which is basically grains of wheat, cooked up like rice; that would be a good substitute for the dumplings.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.


Jun. 29th, 2011 05:38 pm
dichroic: (oar asterisk)

LA asked for my jambalaya recipe; as long as I was writing it out, I figured other people might want it too. Like lots of traditional forms of cooking, I think jambalaya evolved as a way to use up every bit of your leftovers, and to make a bit of meat go a long way, so it’s a very flexible recipe. Here is is, with what I used last night and the things I’d have added if I’d had them on hand.


1 – 2 breasts of chicken, raw and diced
1/2 – 1 lb of raw peeled shrimp (I like shrimp, so I prefer to go toward the generous end of that – if they’re large, cut them in pieces)
sausage, sliced (In the US we used to make jambalaya from a box, and we’d use smoked turkey sausage – 1/2-1 pack of that is about right, again depending on your preferences. Here I use rookworst – smoked sausage – and I assume it’s pork. Kielbasa works OK, too. Don’t forget to peel it if yours came with a skin.)
1 bell pepper, diced
1-2 onions, diced
1-2 sticks celery, sliced (this time I had no peppers and only one onion, so I used 3 big stalks of celery)
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 chile peppers, diced (optional – I remove the seeds so it’s not painfully hot)
2 cups chicken broth (I’ve used bouillon cubes + water, these last couple times – works fine but if you have real broth use that)
1-2 cups rice (I used 2 c on this last batch)
2 medium tomatoes or a bunch of cherry tomatoes, diced
about a half can of tomato sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Cajun seasoning
Tabasco (optional, and I didn’t use it this time because I had chile peppers and cayenne)
salt (optional, and not needed if you use commercial bouillon and Cajun seasoning)
black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, oregano, herbes de Provence, thyme, whatever herbs you like
olive oil (if you have it; if not use vegetable oil)

All that chopping is the longest part of this recipe! Saute the chicken in oil until cooked through; saute the onions, green pepper, celery and garlic in oil until soft. If you don’t feel like dirtying two pans, you can do one batch after the other; it won’t matter. Add water to the broth until you have a bit more than twice the volume of your rice. Dump the chicken, the veggies and everything else into a big soup pot or Dutch oven – you don’t have to precook the shrimp and of course the sausage pretty much comes already cooked. Use the amounts of herbs and spice that seem right to you, but be reasonably generous – and figure the Cajun seasoning and cayenne depending on how much spice your household likes. Stir it all together and cover. Cook on medium-low heat until the rice has absorbed all the liquid, stirring occasionally. Add more water if it seems to need it. Stir and serve with crusty bread or garlic bread.

The vegetarian sausage we had this time (I think the brand is VEGA) really wasn’t bad aside from being softer than I’d prefer. If I wanted to make a vegetarian version I’d use that and up the quantities of vegetables. I don’t know what other veggies would work well in this: scallions for sure (I use those if I have them) and probably shallots; not sure if diced leeks or eggplant would work but they might.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.


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