Friday, December 12, 2014

FFwD: Beef and Dried Apricot Dutch Oven

Okay, so today's French Fridays with Dorie recipe is supposed to be Lamb and Dried Apricot Tagine. I knew I wasn't going to find the cut of lamb Dorie specifies, but I thought I could get my hands on some ground lamb, and use all the same ingredients, but treat it like Indian keema recipes that I've made. However, I couldn't find lamb. I grabbed ground beef, because I've made the aforementioned keema recipe with beef before, and it turned out fine. Not as good as lamb, but not bad. I had no idea if beef would work with the predominant flavors of this recipe--coriander and apricot. I'd planned to get back to the store this week to try and find some pork or veal to stew instead, but it didn't happen, so I returned to my ground beef plan.

It worked out fine. I'm 100% certain that it would be better as a lamb stew, per the recipe, but I really wanted to do something, to stick to the schedule. Once I fall behind, I stay behind.
I have no strong feelings about this recipe. Its biggest draw is that CHARLIE ATE IT. Well, he ate the meat and the rice. Good enough for me. I was shocked. After dinner, he found a stray coriander seed on my counter. He has a thing about seeds. He'll spit out an entire piece of fruit if he gets a seed in his mouth, and refuse to take another bite. I don't get it. He asked why I had a  seed on the counter. I told him it was in the meat--the meat that he liked. He said, "Oh, so you took this disgusting thing and made it yummy." Sure. I guess. Kid brains are weird. Ha!

My one gripe was that I could have broken up the coriander seeds more. I would prefer a rough grind, rather than "broken", in the future. I don't like chewing on the seeds. Maybe Charlie's on to something after all.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pioneer Woman: Turkey Tetrazzini

I landed on Turkey Tetrazzini, one of Ree's suggestions for your Thanksgiving leftovers, because I had a little bit of turkey left. I bought a rotisserie chicken to supplement it. Good thing I did, because when I opened the bag of turkey, it didn't smell quite right. We'd been working on it for over a week, so I guess it hit its boundary. Tossed it and used the chicken. Crisis averted.

Butter and garlic and mushrooms and wine, cream cheese and olives and bacon and cheese, all mixed with pasta. While I cooked, I'd periodically hear Matt yell, "That smells SO good," from the living room, where he was watching Rudolph with Charlie. He was right. It did smell so good.

I tasted it before I popped it in the oven, and started to laugh. It tasted like my Grandma's "tuna slop", only with chicken instead of tuna, and with ingredients I can pronounce and identify. I don't say that as a criticism. I love Tuna Slop. I much prefer to make a version that doesn't involve Velveeta or a can of cream of mushroom soup, if I can help it, though. I also added finely chopped broccoli, just to give it a bit more veg.
This is worth making, whether you have leftover turkey or not. It was cozy and comforting and delicious. Even Charlie ate it! He picked all the peas out, but I expected that, as he has never in his life eaten a pea. He ate the chicken, mushrooms, and broccoli without seeming to notice them, though. Woohoo!

This makes a massive amount of food. Once again, I forgot that Ree says it serves 12. I probably could have cut the recipe in half. We'll finish up the leftovers for dinner tonight. I'm not sick of it yet, though Matt may be, because he's also been bringing portions to work for lunch. I'll give him a breather before I make it again. 

Conclusion: Liked it.

Friday, December 5, 2014

FFwD: Tartine de Viande des Grisons

Tartine de Viande des Grisons is a long and mysterious name for a simple tartine that the French Fridays with Dorie crew made this week. Bread? Check! Butter? Check! Bresaola? Check! Walnuts (or in my case, toasted almond slices)? Check! Olive oil? Check! That's it.

The deep red color of bresaola has often caught my attention at the supermarket here in Napoli, but I was never really tempted to buy it. I find the color off-putting. It's just SO red. I'm happy to have found this recipe, though, because it turns out to be delicious!

This is one of those recipes that tastes better than its individual parts seem to warrant. The butter, oil, and toasted nuts really pull the toast and meat together into one delicious bite of food.
Matt got home late from work the other day, so I put a tartine together for him while his soup re-heated. Instead of eating any soup, he turned the rest of the (sizeable) loaf of sourdough bread into tartines and devoured them all. Needless to say, we loved this. I thought it would be good, but I didn't anticipate how good!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thanksgiving with Pioneer Woman

I've made a bunch of recipes from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays. Most of them are from the Thanksgiving section, but not all of them are.

First up, Drop Biscuits (pg 346, the Christmas section). I brought these over to a friend's house a few week's ago. She made soup and mulled wine. I made biscuits and dessert. I've had a hit-or-miss relationship with biscuits in the past. I always blame my failures on my Yankee-dom. These Drop Biscuits are simple to make (put the ingredients in the food processor. Whir. Scoop spoonfuls on to a baking sheet. Bake.) and turned out to be delicious. I need to make biscuits more often.
Conclusion: Loved them.

Matt and I haven't been overly impressed with our Thanksgiving stuffing for the past few years, so we decided to mix it up this year and use Ree's Basic Thanksgiving Dressing (pg 258). This uses three types of bread: cornbread, Italian bread, and ciabatta, and a host of standard stuffing flavors: celery, onion, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and basil. She uses dried herbs. In the future, I'd like to try it with fresh herbs. I think this was a good starting point. I felt it needed a bit more flavor, but I'm not totally sure what to do to it. I liked that the cornbread practically turned to breadcrumbs and coated all the other breads. There was a lot of different texture.

Conclusion: Liked it, but it needs some fiddling. We didn't salt it enough this time. Needs more oomph.

For the dressing, I made Ree's recipe for Skillet Cornbread (pg 268). This was easy to make, and it worked fine in the dressing, but I don't like it on its own. The cornbread is VERY salty and gritty. This may be why Matt undersalted the dressing--I warned him that the cornbread was salty. I like sweet, wet cornbread. This was the opposite. Different strokes for different folks.
Conclusion: Disliked, but it worked fine for the dressing.

I almost forgot about the Giblet Gravy. Matt is the Bird-meister, so he made the gravy. I was uninvolved, so I have no input regarding the process. All I can say is that it was deeeeeeelicious. I can never be without it again.

Conclusion: Loved it. 

I'm roasting a chicken tonight to use up our leftover dressing. For a side, I decided to try Ree's Cranberry Sauce (pg 256). This was a last-minute decision, and so I don't have the orange zest and juice that I'm supposed to. I threw in a splash of mandarinetto instead. Figured it couldn't hurt. I normally make a basic cranberry sauce with sugar, orange zest, and juice. The difference here is that, instead of sugar, Ree uses a cup of maple syrup.

I'm torn about what to think. I love the smokey maple flavor that the syrup gives to the sauce, but it's too sweet. It's possible that the orange zest and juice might have cut the sweetness a bit. I'm not sure. I may continue to play with this, cutting back on the amount of syrup used until the balance tips over a bit in favor of cranberry tartness. It's cranberry sauce. I want to taste the cranberry!

Conclusion: Liked it, but it needs tweaking.