Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mac & Cheese

Forgive the kiddie plate, but it seemed rather appropriate to plate this on one, since it seems to be a staple food item for children.

That’s right, it is an old standard and one of my all time favs! It’s Mac & Cheese. It’s also the first of several recipes to come, because it’s a favorite of mine, and well, it seems like I’ve clipped quite a few variations.

Macaroni & Cheese

½ pound elbow macaroni
8 tablespoons butter
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
¾ cup cheddar cheese shredded
½ cup bread crumbs

Cook macaroni til almost tender. Drain under cold water and set aside. Melt half of butter in a heavy saucepan over moderately high heat. Take off heat, whisking constantly. When mixture bubbles and begins to thicken, remove from heat and add salt and cayenne. Blend in cheese. Add macaroni and pour mixture into an 8inch square baking dish. Preheat oven to 350. In small saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat. Add bread crumbs and toss well; cook 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle crumbs over macaroni. Bake 25 minutes.

Technical stuff: Makes 6 servings

Difficulty: Easy!

Time : about 45 minutes

Served with: Sausages

Reheat Well?: it’s delicious! Sets perfectly and awesome in broiler oven. The crust gets crispy

Comments: it’s really really good. really really good. Good Football food. Great comfort food and easier and tastier then Mac & Cheese by about 100 fold.

Things I'd do differently next time: I would add just a touch more cheese.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cranberry Nut Bread

For once, I didn’t “health it up” when I made my bread, and the Chief commentator’s first words were, this maybe the best bread you have ever made! Which leads me to wonder.. none the less, it is pretty damn amazing.

Cranberry - Nut Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter
¾ cup orange juice
1 egg lightly beaten
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped cranberries or 2 cups dried cranberries
¾ cup chopped nuts. (I used walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cut in butter a pastry blender, two knives, or your hands (I used my hands) stir in orange juice, egg and orange rid. Fold in cranberries and nuts. Spoon into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Makes 1 loaf.

Technical stuff: Makes 1 loaf.

Difficulty: moderate – if you aren’t used to cutting in butter, it could be tricky.

Time : about 60 minutes

Served with: honey butter & hot coffee

Reheat Well?: it’s delicious!

Comments: it’s really really good. really really good.

Things I'd do differently next time: I would add just a touch more orange peel.

Honey butter:
Put 1 stick of butter in microwave safe dish, and heat til soft (about 25 seconds) add in 3-4 tablespoons of honey, stir well. Place dish in freezer for 5 minutes to set.

Pork with Asian Greens and Citrus Dressing

This one came out of Redbook in May 1998. The title is Meals under 500 calories.
They suggested serving with Couscous, I served it standing alone, because I didn’t think it needed side dish.

Prep time: 10 minutes, Cooking time 30 minutes (according to them)

Pork with Asian Greens and Citrus

1 cup orange juice
½ cup chicken broth
1 large shallot, minced
¼ teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
1 pork tenderloin (1 ¼ lbs) cut into 16 slices
1 package (4 cups) Asian mixed greens or baby spinach leaves stems trimmed

1. Bring orange juice, chicken broth, shallot and curry powder to a boil in small saucepan over high heat; boil 20 minutes, or until reduced to ½ cup and slightly syrupy. Remove from heat. Stir in oil, lemon juice and salt.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Cook pork 3-4 minutes per side, until browned and cooked through. Serve pork over greens topped with dressing. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving (given by them) 275 cals (35% from fat) 11g fat.

Let me just say, this was stellar, although I have to say I did 2 things slightly differently. 1) I bought the tenderloin already cut as chops (it was easier) and 2) with the spinach leaves I also chopped up some cabbage to make a salad bed of greens.

Technical stuff:
Makes 4 servings (original portions) as a main dish.

Difficulty: Easy!!!!!!

Time: Less than 30 minutes – total.

Served with: Blind Pig ale, but would have gone better with Sapporo.

Reheat Well?: Didn't try it. All gone!

Served with: would have been great with more salad fixings, grape tomatoes, and possibly cucumber.

Perfect sweetness/tartness balance. Not gooey and the greens stood up to the warm dressing nicely. The pre cut chops are the way to go. Chief commentator loved it. He would like to eat this on a regular basis.

Things I'd do differently next time: I would add a few more veggies into the salad part and maybe double the dressing and make it more a full on salad meal. I didn’t love the curry powder in there, might alter the ratio or add maybe a little ginger?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Baked Fish in Parchment Paper

This was a cutting I took out of I think the Napa Register. There is a credit at the top of the article that says NYT Regional Newspapers.

Baked Fish in Parchment

4 (6oz) fish filets cut ½ to ¾ inch thick
½ cup sundried tomatos
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
4 teaspoons minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut four, 12 inch circles from kitchen parchment; fold each circle in half.

Unfold circles and place fish pieces next to folds. Top fish with tomato bits, lemon juice, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper, diving equally. Refold paper over fish so that cut edges meet. Fold and roll cut edges up all the way around to seal packets securely. Place on baking sheet; bake 10-12 minutes until packets are browned and puffed.

Transfer packets to serving plats, cut open to serve. Makes 4 servings.

Note: aluminum foil maybe used in place of kitchen parchment. Cut four, 12 inch squares of foil, proceed as with as with parchment circles, but cook for 12 minutes.

There is a note that the recipe comes from Sonoma Dried Tomato Cookbook. (Timber Crest Farms)

First off – this is an AMAZING way to cook fish. OMG – I have never done it like that before, but it is incredible, easy simple to clean up, and a dream. LOVE the method.

As for this exact recipe.. 1) I used red snapper because it was on special, I should have used Basa because neither myself or the Chief commentator love snapper. Also, neither of us are huge fans of sun dried tomatoes, if they happen to be on a dish, we don’t pull them off but neither of us have ever ordered a dish BECAUSE they were there.

Thinking of reworking this method with maybe a pesto or a white wine shallot angle and giving it another try. This method could also take on a fabulous comfort food aspect with some cheese and breadcrumbs. If you love sun dried tomatoes, by all means give it a try, but I would HIGHLY recommend using the cooking method.

Technical stuff:
Makes 4 servings (original portions) as a main dish.

Difficulty: Easy

Time : Less than 60 minutes

Served with: Nothing, would have gone great with a light ale perhaps Skinny Dip or Tangerine Wheat.

Reheat Well?: Didn't try it.

Served with: Asparagus. Would have gone well with Rice, or perhaps mashed Sweet potatoes.

Comments: great method, but not fan of ingredients in the sauce.

Things I'd do differently next time: different fish, different sauce.

Asparagus with Mustard Dressing

To start out with such a knock your socks recipe I was a little afraid that my second go round might prove failure. I am happy to report that was not the case.

For those of you know me, you know my love affair with mustard. This has been a long standing love affair, which explains why there are countless recipes in my book with mustard as an ingredient.

I don’t know exactly where I got this one, but I have a pretty good idea it was either Cosmo, or YM or Seventeen back when they had recipes in them (maybe they still do?) judging from the typeset.

Asparagus with Mustard Dressing

4lbs Fresh asparagus, peeled and ends trimmed
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper.

No more than 4 hours before serving, fill a large saucepan ¾ full with water. Bring to a boil, add asparagus, and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain. Arrange on a serving platter. To make dressing, combine remaining ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shade vigorously, and pour over asparagus just before serving. Makes 8-10 servings.

Ok – so first off, I made ½ the recipe because there were two of us, but I wasn’t serving a starch. Secondly, although I did follow the recipe, I prefer my asparagus steamed in a couple of inches of water resting on a steamer. This method seemed to make the stalks less crunchy then I like them in texture.

Technical stuff:
Makes 8-10 servings (original portions) as a side dish

Difficulty: Easy

Time : Less than 15 minutes

Served with (beverage): Nothing. But would have been good with summer ice tea with lemon.

Reheat Well?: Didn't try it.

Served with: Parchment Fish (see next blog)

Comments: liked it. Matched the fish well. Light, Zesty sauce.
Things I'd do differently next time: I would use my typical cooking method, but keep sauce the same.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chicken with Tarragon

Wow, I have such a feeling of accomplishment to say that the very first recipe I made I knocked out of the park!

I made the Chicken Tarragon recipe from my Grandma Mary’s cookbook. It was a recipe card that was shoved in the back of the book in a plastic sandwich baggie. (So I have no idea if she actually ever made this or not..)

The card originally came from a deck of recipe cards called the 60– Minute Gourmet. Pierre Franey, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Franey famed French Chef who had the TV show 60-Minute Gourmet and also wrote the rather famous 60-Minute Gourmet column in the New York Times.

Below I give you the exact recipe as it’s written, I will note that I used a Rocky Chicken, and those damn things are so big (just a tad over 5 pounds) that I doubled everything, although the cooking time didn’t change much.

Chicken with Tarragon

1 2 - 2 ½ lb Chicken, split in half as for broiling.
Salt and Pepper
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp finely chopped shallots
2 Tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon or 1 tsp dried tarragon
½ cup dry white wine
¼ cup water

1. If the backbone is still attached to one of the chicken halves, hack it away.
This will hasten the cooking. Reserve the backbone. Also, it’s best to sever the joint that connects the thighbones with the legs. Do not cut through but leave the thighs and legs otherwise attached.

*If you don’t know anything about cutting up a chicken, I suggest checking this site out.

2. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.

3. Heat the butter in a heavy skillet large enough to hold the whole chicken. Add the chicken, skin side down. Surround it with the gizzard, liver, heart, neck and backbone
(and if you are lucky like we were, Rocky tossed 3 extra hearts into our chicken! and yes really I used them!)

4. Cook about 10 minutes until golden brown on the skin side. Turn and cook about 5 minutes longer. Remove the chicken and set aside.

5. To the skillet add the shallots and cook briefly. Add the tarragon and wine. Stir to dissolve the brown particles that cling to the bottom of the skillet. Stir in the water.

6. Return the chicken to the skillet, skin side up and cover. Cook about 15 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, basting often, about 5 minutes longer or until the chicken is thoroughly tender and nicely glazed.

Technical stuff:
Makes 4 servings (original portions) as a main dish.
Difficulty: Easy

Time : Less than 60 minutes

Served with: 2008 Simi Pinot Gris, which was a great choice. Also used in recipe.

Overall ranking: New Favorite!

Reheat Well?: Didn't try it. But appears it will.

Served with: White rice cooked in chicken stock, and a side salad.

Comments: Tender, juicy, moist, loved how the outside carmelized in the sauce. The skin was cooked perfectly. Nothing was wasted (see use of gizzard, hearts, neck etc) It is essentially the perfect "bonepicker" meal and my Chief Commentator thought the inners a tasty treat.

Things I'd do differently next time: I would definately use a smaller chicken, although it came out amazing, trying to get that thing stuffed into the pan was a bit of work.

Looking forward in Thyme: Fish!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Final grading and what it pairs well with

This is my system for my final grading of the dishes, and also what it pairs well with, cause the foodie in me can't leave you hanging. I have to tell you if it's a cocktail kinda dish, something that goes well with wine, or if it's a dish where nothing but a good cold beer will do it justice.

(ok, also, if I made a bad call on what I served it with -- a better pick for round 2)

Served with: Cocktail; Wine; Beer

Overall Grade: New Favorite!; It was OK; Serve to Unwelcome Guests; Even the dog won't eat it

The Technical stuff part deux

Because Blogger doesn't let me put that many tags in one post!

General Tag words: (these I'm starting out with, we may add more later)

Type of dish: Entree; Appetizer; Salad; Side dish; Dessert; Beverage

Main Ingredients: Chicken; Beef; Lamb; Fish; Pasta; Veggies; Cheese;

Special Equiptment: Crockpot; Deep fryer;

The technical stuff

Recipes can be sorted by the following tags

Me; Grandma Mary; Grandma Melusine (this may be handy if family starts reading this, and wants a particular recipie from a certain Grandma)

Cost; Nutritional info

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What is Clippings of thyme

When I was a kid, I started clipping recipes and putting them into a binder, by aboout 25, I had filled two 3" binders with clipped recipies. In addition to this I have inherited a smaller binder of clipped recipies from my Grandmother Mary and a rather large recipe box from my Grandmother Melusine.

Last night I was looking for a recipe I swore was in one of my binders (it was) but with looking, I came to the realization that for all these recipies that I have, I have tried MAYBE ten of them, in the entire collection in the nearly 20 years that have passed since I began these books. Although 4 recipies are staples in my cooking rotation, the others have just sat there.

So, this is my attempt to get in touch with myself from ages ~15 to ~25, and get inside my head then and wonder what exactly was I thinking when I clipped these recipies. In addition to my quest, I am hoping to cook all the recipies that I have inherited from both of my Grandmother's knowing full well that they too did not cook all of them.

There isn't any rhyme or reason to how I plan to go about cooking them, because there is no rhyme or reason to how they are put into the books. I will cite authors if I know them or where the recipe originally came from when available and if the original recipie had nifty things like nutrition facts or costs per serving - I will try to include that stuff along the way too.

I am currently working on a rating / indexing system of the recipies as well so they will be easier for people to find.

more soon.