Thursday, September 22, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Braised Chicken in Tomato and Cinnamon Sauce

Tonight's entry from Time-Life Foods of the World: Middle Eastern Cooking was Kota Kapama—Braised Chicken in Tomato and Cinnamon Sauce (p55) from Greece. I had planned to make a dessert to go with this, but after spending the afternoon deseeding something like 5 kilos of tomatoes from the potager, I didn't feel like doing anything besides the main course.

Having three chicken thighs, I made about a third recipe by weight. (For some reason, they've started packaging Label Rouge—free-range—chicken thighs three to a package rather than four. Very annoying.) The chicken is browned in butter and olive oil, then set aside. Most of the fat is removed from the skillet, and onions are garlic are added to the remaining bit. When they are soft, some tomatoes that have been peeled, seeded, and chopped (I saved two out of the batch I was working on for this), along with a bit of tomato paste, chicken stock, and a cinnamon stick are stirred in. The browned chicken is returned to the skillet, covered and simmered for 30 minutes.

This dish is typically served with any kind of pasta (I used tagliatelle), accompanied by freshly grated kefalotiri or Parmesan. Tonight it was Parmesan. One day I'm going to find some kefalotiri in a shop or market and buy a chunk to try.

I was specially intrigued by the tomato sauce with cinnamon, which seemed to me an unusual combination. Neither of us could taste the cinnamon in the finished dish, though, so that was a bit disappointing.


 Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their September cookbook. And if you've got books on your shelf wanting to be used, why don't you choose one and join in?

Monday, September 19, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/19-Sep-16: We collected almost 3kg of tomatoes today. I need to get busy seeding and cooking them down. Just don't know when that's going to happen.

Worked on the meal plan today, including replanning today and tomorrow. Had another Middle Eastern dish on the plan for tonight, but didn't feel like going up to get the recipe book. Instead I picked the remains of the roast chicken and made Chopped Greek Salad with Chicken (web). This would have been nice if we were still having hot weather. Really, it's just a fancy salad like I might made ordinarily, with some cooked chicken thrown in. More mihallabiyya for dessert.

After dinner I put the lamb that should have been tonight's dinner on to marinate for tomorrow night's (non Middle Eastern) dinner.

Tuesday/20-Sep-16: What a day. While I had my bi-monthly ear appointment, Ed went to the Toyota dealer to order a part. But they were closed. When he returned, we missed each other (he came in an unusual entrance), so he sat 20 minutes in the doctor's waiting room, while I sat 20 minutes in the hospital lobby. Shopped at a health food store and at Grand Frais. Then to Toyota again to order the part. Then to the shop where the muffler was repaired, but it's had a mysterious rattle since then, which is worse when it's hot, and very annoying. Although we demonstrated it to one person, it was later unreproducable, so this is unresolved. Home at last.

Dinner was Lamb Kebabs with Mint (MJ@Home, p116). Ed grilled these on the bbq; they were yummy. Served with Green Peas in a Creamy Sauce (Q&E, p87) and Spicy, Sour Potatoes with Cumin and Amchoor (SpiceKitch, p50). Both of these are old favorites. We were stuffed, although we did manage to find space for some squares of dark chocolate, with hazelnuts for me and almonds for Ed.

Yogurt on overnight.

Wednesday/21-Sep-16: Shopping today. Shopped alone again, while Ed was off getting the contrôle technique for the car.

Dinner was, sort of, Pan-Roasted Cod with Chorizo Vinaigrette (Twenty, p254). I made the Chorizo Vinaigrette (Twenty, p213), but I didn't do the pan roasting, which involved lots of oil, but just sprayed on a bit of oil and broiled the cod bits. The dressing was quite good, though, and will probably come around as a pasta sauce in the next days, maybe for lunch. Served with polenta and a bit of Mama's Garlic Coleslaw (HandyBook). We finished off the mihallabiyya for dessert.

Thursday/22-Sep-16: Today's fun task was deseeding about 5kg of tomatoes from the potager. Whew. Have left them overnight. I'll buzz them up tomorrow and freeze them.

Dinner was Braised Chicken in Tomato and Cinnamon Sauce, served with tagliatelle. Some squares of chocolate for dessert.

Friday/23-Sep-16: Put up lots more tomato today.

Dinner was Penne with Red Pepper Pesto for Two (Pesto Calabrese) (web). Almost. No penne in house, so I used cascareccia; no big deal. But I neglected to set aside a third of the bell pepper strips, so all of them were sautéed, meaning there were no uncooked bits to purée into the sauce. The sauce was fine, but might have been even better if I'd done it right. Then a simple salad (feta and the last of the croutons in the freezer). Then some ice creams from the freezer. I'm stuffed.

Saturday/24-Sep-16: Ed brought in 14 pounds (more than 6kg) of tomatoes yesterday. Time to start working on the next batch soon.

Dinner was a half recipe of Butter-Poached Shrimp with Grits (Twenty, p141; web; cookbooker). Made the grits with chicken stock. They were tasty, but not very pretty to look at. Maybe I used a pan a bit too large for the butter-poaching business. I didn't find these any better than the regular sort of sautéing I might do. Then a big salad. Some squares of chocolate for after.

Yogurt on overnight.

Sunday/25-Sep-16: Movie this afternoon. We took Pogo on a walk down by the potager this afternoon. There's another big batch of tomatoes ready to pick. And some eggplants too.

Odds and ends from the fridge for dinner: the Indian peas and potatoes from Tuesday; the chorizo vinaigrette from Wednesday served over pasta; a newly made bit of the Israeli radish salad we liked so well.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: yes/no; #2 VEG/FISH: 4
This month: #3 PASTA: no; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: yes for Aug/Sep

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Cabbage Salad and Cold Rice-Flour Dessert

Tonight there was a side and a dessert from Time-Life Foods of the World: Middle Eastern Cooking. We had Salatet Malfoof—Cabbage Salad (p10) from the Arab States to accompany a Sicilian marinated steak and Mihallabiyya—Cold Rice-Flour Dessert (p104) from Egypt.

I made the Mihallabiyya in the morning, so it would be chilled for dinner. I used cornstarch as suggested, since I had no rice flour and was too lazy to grind some up. I looked this dish up on the web and found that this recipe is typical, although it can be rice flour, a rice flour and cornstarch combination, or just cornstarch to thicken. More typically, though, it seems to be flavored with orange flower or rose water, rather than vanilla and cinnamon. This one has a topping of chopped pistachios and currants, as well as cinnamon, which I mixed with the nuts and fruit. Quite tasty and easy to make.


To go with our steak, I made the Cabbage Salad as a go-with, and here we have another excellent salad from this book. The recipe calls for two cups of shredded cabbage to serve four. I had two cups to serve two, with only half the dressing, and we could have eaten a bit more. The shredded cabbage is tossed with a dressing of garlic, salt, lemon juice, olive oil, then topped with some pomegranate seeds for serving.


 Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their September cookbook. And if you've got books on your shelf wanting to be used, why don't you choose one and join in?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Baked Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice

For the day's roast chicken, I made a side dish from Time-Life Foods of the World: Middle Eastern Cooking. That was Domates Yemite me Rizi—Baked Tomatoes Stuffed with Rice (p82), from Greece.

The stuffed tomatoes are supposed to be eaten at room temperature. This would make them a good buffet kind of food if people are sitting down to eat. They'd be fine to make ahead.

Rice is half-cooked and drained. (I used basmati, but it might be nice to use a brown rice and cook it just a bit longer here.) The tomatoes are hollowed out, salted, and turned over to drain. The innards are chopped for use in the filling. Minced onion is sautéed, then the rice, tomato pulp, some tomato purée, parsley (oops, I forgot to by parsley and last week's bunch didn't last, so I used the frozen stuff), mint, garlic, oregano, and S&P are all stirred in. Rather than defrosting two cups of my frozen tomato purée for the less than half cup needed for a half recipe, I used a small amount of uncooked purée with a bit of tomato paste, both from the freezer.

This mixture is cooked till it's fairly dry, then stuffed in the tomato shells. Some reserved tomato purée is poured around the tomatoes and all is baked for 20 minutes at 350F. (I had no leftover purée, so I buzzed up a fresh tomato and called that purée.) Result: A tasty side dish for a roast chicken.


 Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their September cookbook. And if you've got books on your shelf wanting to be used, why don't you choose one and join in?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Coucou Bademjan and Borani

We've eaten from Iran tonight, another dinner from Time-Life Foods of the World: Middle Eastern Cooking. I made Coucou Bademjan—Thick Eggplant-and-Egg Pancake (p72) and Borani—Cold Spinach and Yoghurt Salad (p86), which was the suggested side dish, both from Iran.

A coucou is a kind of frittata-like thing. In this case, you first brown some onion slices and set those aside. Then you cook some cubes of peeled eggplant with water, turmeric, with salt and freshly ground black pepper, returning the onion slices to the pan for the last bit of cooking and evaporating the water. This mixture is set aside to cool, then combined with four eggs. The eggy mixture is added to a pan, cooked, then turned out onto a plate (this didn't go all that well tonight), and slid back into the pan to cook more.

The spinach salad suggested as a go-with was a bit hit. I used frozen spinach, rather than fresh, to make a half recipe. I thawed what was needed, squeezed it dry, and chopped it fine. To this is added some lemon juice, a bit of grated onion, salt and freshly ground pepper, yogurt, and some sliced mint. Simple to assemble and very tasty.

The picture is a bit of a dark picture because the lamp over the dining table has gone awry. The bulb is okay, but there's a problem lurking between the switch and the lamp that will be discovered tomorrow. The flash pictures looked really boring, so this is hand-held, lighted by a floor lamp with a bit of help from a candle.


 Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their September cookbook. And if you've got books on your shelf wanting to be used, why don't you choose one and join in?

Monday, September 12, 2016

This week in the kitchen

Monday/12-Sep-16: Busy in the kitchen today. Reheated yesterday's chicken stock, strained it all, and froze four 2-cup tupperwares.

Didn't weigh them, but I seeded probably 3kg of tomatoes from the potager. Ed brought in almost 2.5kg yesterday and there were already quite a few here. Simmered those for a good long while, puréed them, simmered a bit more, and finally put 4 2-cup ziplocs in the freezer.

For lunch I made two Oeufs Cocottes Tandoori (VPG, web). Simple and quite nice. Some (store-bought) tandoori paste is stirred into cream (about 1/4cup per person). This is divided between small dishes (cocotte), topped with eggs, and popped into a 400F oven in a bain marie for 10-12 minutes. Ed really liked this.

Didn't really feel like cooking after being on my feet for so long. We had a salad for dinner (no tomatoes!), followed by the last of the crème fraîche ice cream.

Tuesday/13-Sep-16: Lunch out today with Victor and John, followed by visit to the glove factory in St Junien. No evening meal needed. Big storm came through. Lightning threat meant we had to shut down internet. Big blow meant we had to undo the top of the pergola.

Wednesday/14-Sep-16: Big blow last evening, but just a bit of rain here. In Cognac they had two weeks' worth in an hour. Result: floods. Yes. that's what happens when a lot of rain falls and the ground is dry as a rock. We had very little rain and very little damage.

Shopping today. Leclerc continues on their expansion. It's loud and everything is hard to find.

Dinner was Seared Salmon in Dill Avodaise Sauce (web). Not sure why the fancy name; it's just avocado with lemon juice and fresh dill. I cooked the salmon under the broiler. Good stuff. Served with trio rice and some havicots verts. For dessert, some of the Faure cake we bought yesterday.

Yogurt on overnight. Not sure I bought the right starter. Can't remember the one we like best. We'll see.

Thursday/15-Sep-16: Ate out for my birthday, and visited a winery. Nothing happened in the kitchen.

Friday/16-Sep-16: We had an interesting lunch today, but I seem to have lost the recipe clipping on the way upstairs. A pizza sort of thing, with squares of lavash as the base. I saw these at the store Wednesday and picked them up as an impulse buy. More or less following the recipe, each piece is spread with soft goat cheese (yay for pyramid cheese!), sprinkled with za'atar, sprayed with olive oil, then topped with a mixture of slice, oven-dried tomatoes (from the freezer) and finely chopped red onions. All under the broiler for about five minutes. Yum.

Another Middle Eastern dinner tonight a frittata sort of thing plus a yummy spinach side dish. Ed opened a bottle of Juliénas for dinner, saying we didn't have to finish it, but of course we did. So I'm feeling a bit tipsy. The wine was very good.

Saturday/17-Sep-16: This was a day for roasting a chicken. I made Perfect Roasted Chicken (Twenty, p249). This is the same as Thomas Kellerman's recipe that goes around sometimes. A very good chicken. The trick is to dry it very well, liberally sprinkle with coarse salt, then cook at a high temperature. I put this one on a bed of potato chunks, that turned out to be quite delicious. Served with stuffed tomatoes.

Yogurt on overnight. Back in the saddle. The starter is fine.

Sunday/18-Sep-16: Ed finished bits of painting in the kitchen, around the window and other bits that needed touching up. The window surround remains white for the light in winter. Now the question is whether to paint the wood (inside of window, now blue on the outside, and door) and what color?

Dinner was Simple Sicilian-Style Grilled Steak (web), made with bavettes. Quite tasty it was. Served with a pasta that I think was labelled Israeli couscous when bought (anyhow, quite large balls of pasta), with a Middle Eastern cabbage salad, followed by a custard for dessert.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 2
This month: #3 PASTA: no; #4 BREAD: no; #5 FotW: yes for Aug/Sep

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Cookbook Countdown: Braised Lamb and Eggplant

Another dinner from Time-Life Foods of the World: Middle Eastern Cooking. Tonight there was Khoresh Bademjan—Braised Lamb and Eggplant (p35) from Iran.

This is a very tasty dish; there's no heat from chilies, but it's well flavored with onion, turmeric, lemon juice, and pomegranate syrup (aka molasses).

To make a half recipe, I needed about 350g of lamb in 2" (5cm) cubes. At the grocery, there was nothing suitable in the pre-packaged meat cooler (unless I wanted to deal with a whole leg or shoulder or lamb), so I went to the butcher counter and asked the cute young thing wielding the knife for what I wanted. He proceeded to cut cubes, about twice the weight I needed, leading me to think he's quite new to the butchery business. (Our local butcher can magically cut almost exactly the weight you ask.) I went away quite please with my 350g, which turned out to be only four chunks of meat.

This recipe has you peel the eggplant, cut it into long wedges, and soak the strips in salted water. (The recipe has you fastidiously turn the strips with a spoon to moisten them thoroughly with the brine. I just used my hands.) While the eggplant soaks, you brown some onion slices, then remove them to a plate. Next you brown the eggplant strips, drained and dried, and set those aside. Finally you brown the lamb cubes. When those are nicely colored, you add some beef stock (or water), tomato paste, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Then add the browned onions, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.

Next, the eggplant strips get placed on top of the lamb with some slices of tomato. Lemon juice and pomegranate molasses are added, and the whole thing is covered and simmered another 45 minutes.

This dish is traditionally accompanied by chelo, a rice dish topped with raw egg yolks. I meant to make this, but neglected to calculate in 2 hours for soaking the rice before it's cooked. So it was just plain rice basmati tonight.


I made the Radish and Sour Cream Salad (p87) again tonight, this time with only 1/3 cup sour cream (crème fraîche) for the sauce. I suspect only 1/4 cup would be fine, meaning that measurement should be reduced by half for a whole recipe. An excellent salad.

Stop by Cookbook Countdown to see what other folks are making from their September cookbook. And if you've got books on your shelf wanting to be used, why don't you choose one and join in?