Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Recycling, the foodie way.

I picked up a rotisserie chicken and some asparagus...ok, a lot of asparagus for dinner, for yesterday.  I also realized that all I needed to make chocolate chip cookies was baking soda, so I bought that, too.

The chicken will be recycled tonight into yellow rice with sausage and chicken.  The carcass will make soup tomorrow.  The asparagus will go into a frittata with bacon on Thursday.

I love doing that, I feel so...thrifty!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Thomas Keller is a /GOD/, I tell you!

I'm sorry, I don't have pictures for this one.

So.  My sister bought me the Ad Hoc At Home cookbook, as I think I've mentioned, and I already knew that the Roasted Chicken on Root Vegetables recipe is heaven

Today was the turn to try the Leek Bread Pudding.  It's a savory bread pudding that he intends as a side dish.

Oh, did I mess with this recipe.  To start with, I didn't measure anything beyond the cream, milk and technically, the eggs.  I did slice the brioche bread into cubes and toast them...for half the time called for.  (I might go for the full 20 minutes, next time.)  I diced up half a pound of bacon, and browned that up, then pulled it out.  (Using good bacon means not a lot of fat gets rendered, just the right amount for the three leeks I used.)  I sauteed the leeks in the bacon fat, roasted the asparagus (which was already cut into chunks,) for 20 minutes with some truffle oil and kosher salt.  I chopped up the leftover chicken from the earlier recipe.  I made up the custard, and then realized that there was not enough liquid (my own fault, I deliberately shorted it,) and fixed that.  And then I put it together in a dutch oven: a layer of bread cubes.  Some chicken, some bacon, some asparagus, some of the leeks.  The rest of the bread cubes, the rest of the chicken, bacon, asparagus, leeks.  The custard.

Then I shoved it in the oven.  Then I came back, an hour later, to find that the oven was...off.  I burst into tears, turned it on, and an hour and a half later, found that it was PERFECTION.  It was so good, I nearly cried again.  Tadlet ate some of it and decided he didn't like it.  My SO ate some and said it was 'ok, but didn't knock his socks off.'  My roommate ate some and proclaimed it AWESOME, and could she have more, please.  There's about half of it left, I made a lot.

This stuff came out light, fluffy, savory, tasting lightly of the thyme I put in and not at all of the marjoram that I noticed.  It was just barely salty enough, between the bacon and the actual salt I added.  The brioche gave it enough sweetness to offset the bacon.  The chicken gave it a nice meaty texture and let me pretend that it was a balanced meal, between the chicken and the asparagus.  I added the last layer as leeks and those got lovely and crunchy.

It ended up being a lot of work, so this one won't be done too often.  I'd like to have a proper casserole dish to put it in, too, because I used the large pot that I make my mashed potatoes in, and it filled it most of the way.  Half the amount would make one /hell/ of a stuffing for a turkey, if you took out the chicken and possibly added some kind of fruit, instead.

And several days later, my sister's tried it and her reaction was so visceral that she turned beet red.  Sometimes, you manage to pull off the Platonic ideal of something.  This one certainly had a shining moment.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A good day.

In fact, this was a series of good days.

To begin with, I bought a set of Harmony interchangeable needles from Knitpicks.com.  I love these things immeasurably: I prefer wooden needles, they don't hurt my hands.  And these are just beautiful, all colorful and laminated.  And I am knitting Knitty: Convertible on the size 6s, in a laceweight red silk yarn that makes my heart sing, it's EXACTLY the color red of the silk blouse I used to own, a bright, in your face red that lets you know, there's no other color it could be.  It's red.

HOWEVER.  Much to my dismay, one of the layers on one of the needles started to come off, just enough to snag the yarn at every stitch.  Knitpicks sent me a new set of size 6 tips!  I finished up a section and a half in one day, it made me sincerely happy.  Thank you, Knitpicks!

Then, there was dinner, last night.  It was Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc At Home cookbook.  I should likely wait until fall to do this one again, my root vegetables, which are usually so insanely good as to make a person cry, just weren't that wonderful.  Or I'll skip the parsnips.  I'm not sure.  Dessert, however, was a brainwave.  Because I used to read the French Laundry At Home blog, all the time, until it ended, and now I read her Alinea at Home blog.  But Carol Blymire did a roasted pineapple entry, one that intrigued me.  And I had a whole, fresh pineapple from the grocery store, already peeled and cored.  So I sliced it in half, lengthwise, and into half-rings, the other way, dotted it with butter, sprinkled on vanilla extract, in generous amounts, and lots of brown sugar, then baked it. 

And then ate a lot of it.  And want to make it again, now, it was better than it had any right to be.  It was sweet, tart, buttery, vanilla-y, and reminded me of the topping of a pineapple upside-down cake without the too-sweet cake.  I can't wait to make it again!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Let's try this again.

So, another blog, The Cupcake Project, made me decide that I truly needed to try making this. It's not really fair, given that I keep deciding to cut down on sweets and start exercising, then I find something that I MUST make. This time, it was dulce de leche.

All you do is buy sweetened, condensed milk. Take the labels off. Put the unopened cans in your crock pot and make sure they're submerged in water. Set the crock pot to low. Go do other things. (For me, it was buying some strawberry plants at Home Depot, getting my sister's birthday present at Teavana, and some cleaning, not in that order. I have one of those Topsy Turvy upside down strawberry planters, that I'm itching to try. It's springtime in the Pacific Northwest, which means it's time for me to start killing some perfectly good herbs, (rosemary, lavender, and peppermint,) and try my hand at strawberries.)

Well, I did that. I took the first can out, and I opened it up. It...ejaculated, all over the wall, one line of dulce de leche coming out and splashing. I wish I could have filmed that, it was hilarious.

Then I tried it. If I were a guy, I might have imitated the can, it was that good.

I tried a spoonful with a few crystals of kosher salt and almost cried. We topped some Samoa Ice Cream with it. That made my fiance and son very happy. I actually preferred it with a bit of salt, and plain. We've got a little less than half a can left, plus the one I put back in the crock pot, because I want a darker caramel flavor. And I've been informed that if I made homemade cheesecake to go with this, sex would become unnecessary. I don't think that's much of an incentive to make the two at the same time!