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Archive for August, 2007

Dinner for One

Because we’re newlyweds, Cauli and I spend quite a lot of time together. As a result, we generally cook for two. Last night I found myself on my own for dinner.

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I still wanted to make a healty and interesting dinner, and pulled together a colorful salad of romaine, shiitake mushrooms, diced heirloom tomatoes, and feta cheese to go with my leftover mansaf from dinner out with friends the night before.

Cauli and I have been trying to either split a dinner when we go out, or only eat half and bring the rest home. The portion sizes are quite obscene at restaurants – something we’ve been paying more attention lately. I also used a salad plate rather than a dinner plate for my food last night – another trick that helps with portion control so I’m not hungrily looking at all the white space on a larger plate and wishing there was more food, or dessert for that matter!

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Steak with Beet Chutney

Tuesday night Cauli and I pan fried some chuck steak that we got at the farmer’s market (from the Blanchards). We paired it with the beet chutney, and mashed potatoes with blanched beet greens mixed in.

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The beet chutney was pretty amazing. It had a slight crunch, and the sweetness of the beets was toned down by the vinegar. I imagine this would work well with a variety of things: pork, turkey, mashed potatoes, etc.

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Back with Beets

Cauli and I were quite lazy this last week. I believe we had take out/delivery every single night. Very lazy vegetables indeed.

I’m happy to say that this week we’re back to cooking. Sunday afternoon I made beet chutney.

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I’m not a fan of beets, though I love beet greens. Something about the earthy, yet sweet taste of beets throws me off. However, I love vinegar and have been slowly developing a love of chutneys.

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A great blog, Cook (almost) Anything Once, posted this recipe and mentioned that it would be a good accompaniment to steak. A post to come on how the beet chutney came out and the meal we made it with…

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Got Your Goat?

Last year Cauli and I went up to Seattle to visit a friend, and we ate at Lola. On their menu they have a curried goat tangine that is amazing. Ever since, Cauli and I have been on a quest for goat meat.

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Our quest ended last Sunday at the California Avenue farmer’s market in Palo Alto, where we came across a husband and wife selling grass-fed beef, lamb, and goat that they raise on their farm, Old Creek Ranch , located in Cayucos, California. Bob and Terri Blanchard took some time to talk to us about grass-fed beef, like how to cook it because its leaner than grain-fed beef, and showed us pictures of their animals. We decided on the goat shoulder, as well as some chuck steak, and pasture-raised eggs, which the Blanchard’s gave to us for free. (It took me a day to calm down from that gift. Free eggs! A gift from farmers!)

We decided the best way to cook the goat shoulder would be in the crockpot. We added onions, potatoes, homemade chicken stock, some red wine, and rainbow chard* and let it cook for about 8 hours.

*Note: I wouldn’t go with rainbow chard. It turned the sauce an unappetizing color.

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I made this breakfast on Wednesday morning. Quite an involved breakfast considering I just told you that I’m not a morning-eat-breakfast-and-relax kind of person. Regardless, part of documenting my experience with food and cooking is to push myself out of my comfort zone. And trust me, 6:15 on a Wednesday morning is nowhere near my comfort zone.

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Partially eaten popover and muddled baked egg

Cauli and I bought some foie gras mousse at the farmer’s market a few weeks ago. We bought the mousse from Fabrique Delices, the same people we bought the very tasty rabbit and wild boar sausage from. The mousse only keeps for so long and there is only so much you can do with it – “spread it on something” was the brilliance we had come up with so far. We finally decided on foie gras baked eggs, as baked is our favorite way to eat eggs. A bit ambitious for a weekday morning, I’ll have to admit. Not just on the stomach, but in the kitchen. Luckily, it turned out well for everyone involved.

For the foie gras baked eggs, I cubed some of the mousse and put them in two ramekins. I then broke two eggs into the ramekins and added a few tablespoons of creme fraiche (I often use heavy cream), salt, and pepper. I then tried a new way of cooking them: I put them in a large pot with some water and brought it to a boil, covering the pan for about 10 minutes or so until the egg whites were baked through.

I’ve also been wanting to make popovers for awhile, and as the recipe pointed out that some of the prep work could be done the night before, I thought this would be a good time to try. It turns out the popover recipe I used wasn’t that great. There was way too much batter for the 12-cup muffin tins used, and the popovers were more eggy than airy. Some better looking popover recipes to try are here, here, and here. And as you can tell from some of the links, popovers can also be made in a savory fashion.

The result was the most decadent breakfast I’d ever had before 7:30 am. Not for the faint of heart or gut.

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Brown Sugar Shortbread

Once in a while, Cafe Madeleine in San Francisco will quietly put out a large glass jar of brown sugar shortbread bars. The bars are thick and moist and leave crumbs around your lips when you bite into them. They are best taken with coffee or black tea and enjoyed in the afternoon, or on especially cold and grumpy mornings.

Making brown sugar shortbread was another first for me. I found the recipe on Epicurious, and modified it a slight bit, using salted butter and omitting the salt, and ignoring the sugar and cinnamon topping. (Recipe after picture)
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(more…)

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Tonight we used up the last of our sausage from the farmer’s market. This time, rather than make a pasta dish as I’ve been doing, I served the sausages whole with a mushroom cream sauce and purple mashed potatoes. [So the skins were purple, and I thought they were actual purple potatoes and I was very excited. And then I sliced them open and found that they were white inside. Alas.]

I boiled the sausages for 10-15 minutes, then pan fried them in a bit of olive oil until they were cooked through. Using the already boiling water, I quartered the potatoes and tossed them in, cooking them until tender. I then mashed them and mixed in some salt half and half.

Once the sausages were cooked, I transferred them to a plate and kept them warm and added onions and mushrooms to the pan. Once they were soft, I added a cup of homemade chicken stock and a few tablespoons of creme fraiche and boiled it down until it thickened. The creme fraiche made the sauce a little tart and very buttery. The mushrooms added texture, but not a whole lot of flavor as I didn’t have enough to make a proper mushroom sauce.

I really love this pan sauce. It’s versatile – you can use white wine with, or instead, of chicken stock; heavy cream or a soft cheese instead of the creme fraiche; and add a dollop of mustard near the end. I based this sauce off of a great pork medallion recipe from Simply Recipes.

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