For some reason, it has been hard to get back on track with writing. I’ve taken a lot of pictures, but I really haven’t been inspired to write about much of what I’ve been cooking. On the other hand, some meals have been very memorable – like the shellfish stew last week. I also made a pasta dish with sardines (inspired by Mark Bittman’s) that was fantastic, but I took no pictures, made no measurements and won’t be able to make it again unless J is out of town again. Additionally, I’ve been keeping the sugar companies in business by making lots of jam (more than 3 dozen jars). And, birthday cakes. For Grandma’s birthday, I made a new hot fudge sauce for the secret family ice cream cake. It was so richly chocolate flavored, thick, and luscious that I made it again yesterday for J’s end of school party. This sauce is the one for which I’ve been searching.
J is away for the week, which is a good opportunity to eat the foods that she won’t eat. Last night, we went out for Indian food. The night before, we had chicken breasts stuffed with spinach and ricotta, a dish that L has been asking me to make for a while.
Tonight, we had additional foods that J dislikes: shell fish. I got the idea to make something with mussels from a new cookbook that a friend gave me. But, I didn’t feel like following a recipe. When I went to the market the mussels looked good, and they also had cleaned squid. I had some frozen, jumbo shrimp at home, along with some small dutch fingerling potatoes. Olive oil, leeks, garlic, tomatoes, saffron, vermouth and white wine, salt, pepper, thyme and red pepper flakes.
Big, big success that L declared to be one of my best dishes ever. I served it with a simple salad and a baguette.
I didn’t use any measuring cups, so the amounts are approximate. Here is how I made it:
Spicy Seafood Stew
Next time, I would probably add about 1/2 bulb of fennel, chopped. I tried to this time, but there was no fennel at the market. Too bad. On the other hand, this really was a keeper as is.
1 1/2 lbs. mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
1/2 lb. cleaned squid, cut into rings, squiggly parts left in tact
12 jumbo shrimps, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large leek, white and light green parts, cleaned and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
3/4 cup dry vermouth
3/4 cup white wine
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp. saffron threads
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large (12 in.) deep frying pan over medium heat and saute leeks until soft and beginning to barely brown. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another couple of minutes. Add the vermouth, wine, and saffron. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, until the liquid has reduced a bit. Add potatoes and about 3/4 cup water, enough so that there is enough liquid to cook the potatoes. Cover the pan and simmer for 5 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Remove the cover and add the chopped tomatoes, thyme, dried red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes longer, if the mixture gets dry, add additional wine. Add the seafood, and cook until the shrimp is opaque throughout and the mussels have opened, approximately 3-5 more minutes.
Monday: Black bean soup, fresh bread, pineapple
Tuesday: Breakfast for dinner
Wednesday: Brown Rice salad with Apples (Tyler Florence), cold artichokes
Thursday: Steamed fish, rice, green bean salad
Friday: Pasta with broccoli and parmesan
Plus…2 dz. carrot cupcakes for teacher appreciation on Tuesday at J’s school and 2 dz. brownies for L’s cast party next Sunday. I could buy all this stuff. But that would be too easy.
I was determined to try a different recipe for WG’s birthday cake this year. His birthday fell during Passover and he keeps the holiday rather strictly. I didn’t want him to miss a birthday cake, though. We asked him what kind of cake he wanted, but he left it up to us. Grandma and WG are chocoholics, but we had a bunch of passover brownies during the holiday (not to mention matzo toffee crunch). So, I decided to try to make a good almond cake, cloaked in chocolate ganache. I went hunting on the internet for a recipe, but none suited my fancy. By combining a few, I came up with something that worked for us. I think it is a winner. In fact, I would make it all year round!
Last night I made something that I have never made before, strangely enough: Teriyaki Chicken. I love it. I order it when I am not in the mood for sushi at a Japanese style restaurant. I even bought a Trader Joe’s frozen chicken teriyaki for the girls’ lunches (very good, I might add).
I was perusing some old cooking magazines when I came across a recipe in Cook’s Illustrated for chicken teriyaki. Their recipes are always very well tested and authoritative, if occasionally quite complicated. The chicken teriyaki was not complicated. However, it vociferously called for skin-on chicken thighs instead of skinless, and I bought skinless (health week, remember?). And the sauce sounded incredibly sweet. So, I went on a search for another recipe.
Just back from vacation. I did not get to post the recipe for the Passover Brown Butter Almond Cake that I made as a birthday cake for WG, but I will. The theme for this week is eating healthfully and in reasonable quantities. It is very hard to do that while on vacation, for me. I have no self-restraint, especially when waffles with coconut syrup are involved.
So this is the plan for the week:
Monday: Tomato Soup, Chef Salad, Fresh Lemon Rosemary Bread
Tuesday: Chicken Teriyaki, Broccoli, Rice, Fruit
Wednesday: Cambodian Summer Rolls, Pan Fried Trout Fillets, Herb Salad
Thursday: Pasta with Bolognese Sauce (o.k., not necessarily on the health menu), Salad