Monday, March 28, 2011

Success and Failure

I wanted to be somewhat festive for St. Patrick's Day, so I did a little cabbage with caraway. I had previously used caraway in an Irish soda bread. I thought I liked it. I thought it smelled good. But in this cabbage dish ... with a little apple and a little cider vinegar ... it was disgusting. Disgusting. It smelled awful and tasted worse. I spit out my first (and last) bite. I mean, look at it. It doesn't even look good. I did a terrible thing to that beautiful cabbage. I regret it.

Josh liked it, though. But he pretty much has to because if he complains at all, he gets in trouble.

And the pork was dry and overcooked. I know, the crust looks amazing - homemade breadcrumbs, even. You absolutely must brine pork chops. I didn't. What was I thinking?
And then I made this. Gorgeous, right? Delicious as well.

Funny how maligned potatoes are in the anti-carb culture we have going here. These humble tubers can be so sublime, so I will keep potatoes in my diet. Thank you. What was I reading? Perhaps The Omnivore's Dilemma - chronicling the rise of the American food culture as referring to food items as their type. For example: Don't eat too many simple carbs; you should eat more protein. Just eat food, how about?

Potato Galette
2.5 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and sliced 1/8 in. thick
5T butter, melted
1 T cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1.5 tsp. fresh rosemary (optional) (I used thyme)

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat to 450. Place sliced potatoes in a large bowl covered with cold water. Swirl to remove excess starch, drain in colander, then drain on towels.

2. Whisk 4T butter, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and herbs in a large bowl. Add potatoes and toss well. Place remaining 1T melted butter in 10-in. nonstick and overproof skillet and swirl to coat. Place one potato slice in the center of the pan, then layer the potatoes decoratively. After the first 1-2 layers, dump the rest of the potatoes in carefully and spread in an even layer.

3. Place skillet over med-high heat and cook until potatoes are sizzling and beginning to turn translucent at the edges, about 5 minutes. Spray a square of foil with nonstick spray and place it, sprayed side down, on top of potatoes. Take a cake pan and press on the galette. Add pie weights to the pan and press again. Place skillet in the over and bake for 20 minutes.

4. Remove cake pan and foil from skillet. Continue to cook galette until potatoes are tender, 20-25 minutes longer. Return skillet to the stovetop over medium heat and cook, gently shaking to release galette from pan, 2-3 minutes.

5. Off the heat, place a cutting board over the skillet to flip the galette out.

Friday, March 25, 2011


This lasagne, or the photo thereof, makes me think of styling food. And the fact that I don't. There is a blog that I like, called Tarelette, and the author is a food stylist. She put up a video of a styling session - props, alternate shots, the works. It was so interesting and awesome ... and time-consuming. I snap a few photos right before Josh and I dig in, so I won't be styling any time soon.

This lasagne is the best ever. I think it turned me into a white-over-red sauce gal. I'm not sure if people pick sides, but they should. That's some chard and mushrooms and couple of bell peppers thrown in for fun. I accidently used rice noodles, but they were really good, so I might make those my go-to lasagne noodle. I discovered that I should undercook the noodles by a couple of minutes in order to get the right texture with the lasagne. I've taken to undercook all of my pasta, actually, since I notice that it makes it too the plate perfectly al dente that way.

Since it is a white lasagne, I had to make a bechamel. I have been thinking this whole time that I am bechamel-challenged because of an utter fiasco with mac and cheese a few years ago. I have since discovered that I am a veritable bechamel genius and what I cannot figure out is the addition of cheese to make a cheese sauce. Phew. Mystery solved. I didn't have to add cheese to this masterpiece, thank goodness.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Valentine's Day

Since my postings this year have been nothing if not erratic, sporadic, and ... nomadic, I give you my Valentine's Day feast! I roasted broccoli and green beans - you simply must roast green beans if you never have! Wonderful. I mashed up some celeriac and potato with cream and butter; and the star of the show was chicken breast with mushroom sauce. The sauce was really good.
When I was a girl - actually this continued into college years - my father gave us Valentine's Day bags full of candy and trinkets. It made my sister and I feel special and loved every February 14th, while simultaneously setting a standard for the future men in our lives. As an adult, after some disappointing Valentine's days with disappointing boyfriends, I think I have learned that I have to cultivate that feeling instead of expecting it to arrive from elsewhere. So I planned a special meal and made a special dessert for my valentine. Then I got on the phone with my sister and made a pact to send each other things every V-day to recapture that childhood sensation that we both miss.

I did not end up making Valentine cookies for the neighborhood, as I thought I would way back on December. Did I really think I would? I was just glowing from all the neighborhood connections I made while I dropped off my sugary Christmas creations.

I would like to celebrate Valentine's Day at the end of April, the way I recall the Catalans doing in Barcelona. It was April, right? I'll look it up. Anyway, it was el Dia de San Jorge (Jordi) and girls got flowers while boys got books. I would rather have a book, actually. So I think that I shall make a San Jordi feast this year - after I look up the date - and work in the garden and read a book.

I'll send my sister some flowers and a book too. Won't that be nice.

Supreme of Chicken, adapted a bit from Jacques Pepin's Fast Food My Way
2T butter
1-2 T olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup minced shallots
1 cup diced white mushrooms
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 T ketchup
1/2 cup water

JP says to cook the breasts in the oven at 180 degrees for 10-30 minutes. Mine were raw after 20 minutes, so I cooked them in a skillet with the olive oil instead. Also, his recipe uses four breasts, but I like a lot of mushroom sauce, so I used two and kept the same amount of sauce.

Remove the breasts and add 1T butter and the shallots, cooking over medium-low heat for about one minute. Add the mushrooms and stir, then leave them alone so that the water is released after a few minutes. When the mushrooms are sitting in their own juices, turn the heat to medium-high until most of the juices evaporate and the mushrooms caramelize. Add the vinegar and ketchup and continue to cook for one minute, scraping up the bits. Add the water and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the remaining 1T butter, and stir to incorporate. Serve over chicken.

JP serves this with sauteed corn and peas, seasoned with salt and pepper, butter and chives, I liked my celeriac and broccoli.