Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Few Lovelies

I'm a few days late finishing up How to Eat. Woops. I lost track of the month. Oh well. I got two Charlie-Approved meat dishes out of it, so the extra few days were worth it.

The Chicken Patties (pg 439) from the "Feeding Babies and Small Children" section did not come out remotely how I expected them to, which is probably a good thing. I thought it would be a version of a cafeteria chicken patty, which, I'm ashamed to admit, I always loved. I'd probably think it was vile if I tasted one now, but in third grade, those things were awesome.
Nigella's starts with blitzing boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the food processor. She says you can substitute ground turkey, so I did, because it's easier, and I had a pound in the freezer from my handy local good-to-the-animals meat farm. Mix it up with pork sausage, nutmeg, bread crumbs, and parsley, make patties, and fry in a bit of oil. I used the whole package of ground breakfast sausage, because I wasn't sure how much the required two links would equate to. So, these tasted like breakfast sausage, which is to say that they were delicious. I made slider-sized patties, and Charlie gobbled his right up. Which reminds me, I have to throw the leftovers in the freezer so that I don't burn him out on them.

Conclusion: Liked it, and Charlie Approved.

One thing I've learned from this month with Nigella is that, under specific circumstances, Charlie will eat a drumstick. If I put the drumstick on his plate with the rest of his dinner, he won't touch it. However, if he climbs on Matt's lap--not mine, only Matt's--and Matt tries to take a bite of his own drumstick, Charlie will take and eat that one. Perhaps not the best etiquette, but we're just happy to see protein going into him. With this in mind, I made The Tenderest Chicken (pg 315). Chicken pieces marinate for 8+ hours in buttermilk, soy sauce, garlic, and mustard. When you're ready to cook, you wipe them down, then brush them with melted butter mixed with olive oil, salt, and pepper. It just tastes like roast chicken, and it was, indeed, quite tender. I poured the leftover butter solution on fresh brussel sprouts and roasted them in the stove with the drumsticks. Best brussel sprouts ever.

Conclusion: Liked it, and Charlie Approved. I'm not the hugest drumstick fan, but I'll be making them regularly, since boy-o will eat them.

Twice this week, I re-tested the Yogurt (pg 46) from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, paying much closer attention to the temperature of the milk. I'm now certain that, the first time I tried this, I let my milk cool too much before stirring in the bit of live-culture yogurt. These two times, after an overnight rest in the oven, I opened the oven door in the morning, and voila! Yogurt. Warm yogurt, but yogurt nonetheless. I was reprimanded throughout childhood every time I left the milk carton on the counter, so I do psychologically grimace at the thought of letting it sit all night, but it's worth it. The flavor is nicer, without that sharp edge that can be in store-bought plain yogurt, plus, I'm no longer beholden to Fage. Even using organic milk, it's cheaper to make my own than buy Fage. I haven't actually strained the yogurt to make Greek-style yet, but I will.
Conclusion: Love it. It's simple, it's cheaper than store-bought, it tastes good, and I find myself eating more of it because I made it.

I ran out of peanut butter, so I made Reese's recipe. All you do is blitz peanuts and a bit of peanut oil in the food processor until you have the texture you want. Jennifer says to make it thinner than you think it needs to be, because it will firm up in the fridge. This was true. My one qualm is that she says homemade peanut butter is 80 percent the price of Jif. Maybe peanuts are just expensive in Texas, but my jar of peanuts cost nearly the same as the natural peanut butter I usually buy. A huge Costco-sized box of peanuts would be cheaper, I'd think, but the only container I could find was not.
Conclusion: Liked it, but I doubt I'll make it regularly. It costs the same here, so it's not worth the added step of pulsing it myself.

Lastly, Matt and I had date night last night, in which our friend took Charlie away for hours, and we cooked awesome filet mignon and mashed potatoes, drank wine, etc. Fun times. I planned to make creme brulee for dessert, but forgot to add the ingredients to Matt's grocery list, so I couldn't. Searching for a similar replacement that wouldn't require another trip to the store, I landed on Vanilla Cup Custard from Dorie Greenspan's Baking. All it needs is milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and some almond extract. Easy. Unfortunately, this tasted very eggy. Neither one of us was impressed, and Charlie only picked at his. We kept thinking up fruit sauces that would mask the egginess, which doesn't speak well of the custard's flavor.

Conclusion: Just okay.


  1. Wow. An 8-hour buttermilk soak? Sounds like Martha Stewart's version of fried chicken. She soaks the pieces for 24 hours, I believe.

    1. I actually wound up soaking them overnight, b/c the timing just worked out better for me. Now I want fried chicken. Nom nom nom!