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Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

New Best Recipe – muffins

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

I made cranberry muffins by substituting cranberries for blueberries in the recipe from the New Best Recipe cookbook. I should have added some extra sugar, because the muffins were rather sour and “plain” as Brian called them. The batter was super thick – more like wet dough. They are nice and moist, though, which has been a challenge with other muffin recipes.

America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook – Chicken Tikka Masala

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

We made Chicken Tikka Masala last week. It was good. I screwed up the rice, big time. I tried to cut the cooking time and ended up with mush. The curry was very mild, and I think next time I would add some more spice, but the overall flavor was ok. It is not like what we get at our favorite restaurant, but it was reasonable. Cooking the yogurt covered chicken under the broiler gave a really moist result. Next time we will use Penzey’s Maharaja curry powder instead of their Garam Masala. The garam masala was a little sweet or something – not my favorite for this dish.


Friday, November 26th, 2010

I made 2 batches (4 medium-small loaves) of rosemary bread for turkey day.  I did a trial run a week in advance, and wasn’t overly impressed.  I vowed to try again with real bread flour, letting the bread and water sit for 15 min before kneading (autolyse), more rosemary, higher temp, and as much steam as I could create in the oven.  The second attempt went a lot better.

I also made this recipe for sweet potatoes with maple syrup, brown sugar, and pecans. It was excellent, but next time I think I will reduce the maple syrup first. There was a lot of water in the bottom that leaked out during transport.

Skillet Chicken, Broccoli, and Ziti

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

I got a new America’s Test Kitchen cookbook for my birthday that supposedly has all of the recipes from the show.  I was excited to try the Skillet Chicken, Broccoli, and Ziti recipe because I’m trying to find more dinners that include vegetables that are fairly simple for weeknight dinners.  This was perfect!

I left out the sun dried tomatoes because I am not particularly fond of them.  I would recommend adding more red pepper flakes and definitely tasting for salt.  I ended up adding more of both on my plate at the table, but Brian left his mostly alone.  We also used Parmesan because I prefer it to Asiago.  I used frozen broccoli florets because I’m lazy.  We found that cooking them for 5 minutes with the lid on (the longer side of what the recipe specifies) was enough to get them close to tender, and the final cooking time with the chicken and cream was enough to make them completely tender.  The only drawback to the frozen broccoli was less of the buds and more of the stem of the broccoli.  We also found that cooking the ziti as directed on the box is good.  The recipe specifies 12-15 minutes at a boil, but the box said 9 for al dente.  We followed the box and I’m glad we did.  I think the extra few minutes may have driven the pasta over the line to mushy.

Use a large, deep skillet with a lid.  We used a shallow skillet last night and just barely contained it all.  I believe the recipe says it is 4 servings.  I would consider it a very generous 2 servings or a standard 3 servings.  If you rounded it out with bread and salad it might be 4, but that might defeat my goal of keeping it all simple for 2 people.

My only minor reservation about this was that the sauce didn’t seem very rich, but it is supposed to be a weeknight thing, so I suppose it’s good to keep it moderately healthy and not dump in a bunch more cream and butter.

I will definitely do this one again!

What do I do with all these tomatoes?

Monday, August 9th, 2010

We were (or maybe I should say “I was”) a little overzealous with the tomatoes this year. I kind of didn’t expect them to do as well as they did. I have 4 Early Girl plants, 4 Roma plants, and 4 Supersteak plants. All of them are cranking out tomatoes. So what am I going to do with them all? Well – I’ll give them away if I can. But I’m also going to eat them. I don’t have plans to can, but maybe I’ll freeze some sauce. Meanwhile we’re having salad with tomatoes, tomato salad, bruschetta, and tomato tart.

What’s cookin’ this weekend?

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

I have an abundance of tomatoes.  The early girls are still going strong.  The romas are ripening full steam, and the Supersteaks are just starting to ripen. I have to stay on top of the situation and pick the tomatoes just as they turn orange or the ground squirrels will eat my tomatoes. The squirrels seem to like them when they’re orange-red, but not when they’re still orange-green. Every couple of days I go out to pick more tomatoes:

I’m trying to work tomatoes into our dinners this week: bruschetta, tomatoes on burgers, BLTs. I’ll probably make another batch of the yummy macaroni salad with hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, and onion that I made last week with the first of the tomatoes.

I’ve also been wanting to try another custard-style ice cream. As I posted about earlier, I have been wondering why my ice cream leaves a chalky coating on the spoon and coats the inside of my mouth. High butterfat, apparently. I found a recipe for chocolate custard using half and half as the only dairy, so I decided to give that a try. So far, so good. Out of the machine it does not have the coating, so we’ll see what it does after it freezes for a while. It DOES taste strongly of cocoa powder, which is the majority of the chocolate in this ice cream. It’s good, but I’m still searching for my favorite chocolate ice cream recipe.

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Monday, July 19th, 2010

After dinner tonight, I suddenly realized that I have no time to do anything this week.  I have two rehearsals for a musical, hopefully concerts on the square, and then it will be Friday.  There is no time in the evenings to make pasta salad or chocolate ice cream or go for a walk or water my garden.  I’m going to be hard pressed to stay on top of the tomato situation before the ground squirrels eat them all.

I did a little violin practice this evening and went up to bed, but then realized there’s no way in hell I’m going to get up early to accomplish anything.  I’m MUCH better off just doing it now.  So I let Brian sleep and I went downstairs to make pasta salad with those yummy tomatoes I picked this weekend.  I’m also catching up on some email and planning some other music-related stuff.  I needed to make the pasta salad so I can eat it for the next few days while I’m too busy to cook any meals and before the tomatoes went bad.

I think this is a good plan.  I am not a morning person at all.  Every morning is a struggle.  I think it’s always been that way (unless I take Excedrin for a headache right before bed.  That seems to help me wake up somehow.)

Ice Cream

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

One thing that bothers me about the ice cream I make at home is that it covers the spoon and my mouth with a weird coating. I’ve been reading some forums to see if I can improve. Here’s a link to the most useful forum post I found on Chowhound.

  • Find recipes with less heavy cream (more half and half), and possibly fewer egg yolks
  • Churn for less time, 10-20 minutes max, pouring into freezer container when it is still milkshake texture (contrary to what I might believe)
  • Cook custard bases to 175 max, immediately cool, and keep stirring until cool

When I made honey ginger ice cream a few days ago I didn’t know how far to cook the custard.  “Until it coats a spoon” has always struck me as the stupidest instruction ever – but maybe if you’re a REAL cook you know what that means.  I will be interested to try a custard ice cream again with a thermometer.  The honey ginger ice cream was the first custard-based (French style) ice cream I’ve tried.  The results were ok, but I hope I can eliminate the weird mouth coating thing.

I will also toss in the chopped candied ginger at the end if I ever make this recipe again.  I used this recipe as my base, and substituted 1/2 (liquid) cup honey for the 3/4 cup sugar. I think I might use half honey and half sugar next time – the honey was a bit overpowering. I think the candied ginger lost its candied sugar exterior when I mixed it with the cold cream and hot custard mixture.

Swedish Meatballs, again

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

We decided to make Swedish Meatballs (Cook’s Illustrated recipe) as a dinner, with egg noodles. When I’ve made them in the past it has been as appetizers for a party, kept in a crock pot, so I’ve doubled the sauce. I doubled the sauce this time too, but it was too soupy. Next time I should either not double the sauce, or monkey with the overall water content somehow (less chicken stock?).

Easter: deviled eggs and lemon poppyseed bread

Monday, April 5th, 2010

This year for Easter we made deviled eggs and lemon poppyseed bread. I boiled eggs and dumped them in a bowl of ice water. Some of them cracked on the way in, which I think helped loosen up the shells. I still had less than 50% that didn’t come out easily. I used the immersion blender’s mini food processor attachment to mince up the egg yolks and mix in mayo, mustard, salt, and vinegar. I piped the filling with a star tip (Brian declares they were the fanciest deviled eggs he’s ever seen) and sprinkled them with paprika. I should get a smaller shaker for the paprika – it got all over everything.

Brian did the lemon bread with minimal help from me. I think we might have slightly undercooked it, but it was still good. We basted the glaze on in several layers this year, and it helped build up a thicker glaze layer.

Along with ham, two types of beans, potato casserole, and lemon meringue pie at Brian’s family’s house, we are well fed. And we were sent home with leftovers to keep us well fed for a while.