Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Now, the Szechuan noodles, we all really liked it. I made the sauce earlier in the day then just added it to the noodles right before we ate. I didn't use sherry (being pregnant and all) or sherry vingar but put in some red-wine vinegar. I was a little concerned about the sauce when I tasted it by itself, it was very peanut buttery, so I actually added a dash more soy sauce and vinegar. Once it sat in the fridge for a few hours and then on the noodles, the taste mellowed out a bit and it was quite good. We had a single guy friend over for dinner and he really enjoyed it, although anything is probably better than what he has on a consistent basis.
Turns out that Janice and I cooked the exact same recipes this week! Tonight, I made the Indonesian Ginger Chicken and I paired it with the Curried Couscous. Like Janice, I made the marinade for the chicken the night before and popped it in the refrigerator for a little over 24 hours. I cheated and used already minced ginger and garlic (so much easier and no smelly fingers from the garlic!), so it only took a few minutes to throw together the marinade. Also, I stepped outside of my comfort zone and used BONE-IN chicken breasts!!! Shocking! I'm kidding around, but I really do have an aversion to cooking with bone-in chicken - I can't fully explain it, but I have an irrational fear that I won't cook it correctly. Anyway, it turned out great and everyone in the Johnson clan liked it. My only problem with it was that the skin wasn't crispy enough. Anyone have any tips on how to get crispy skin without overcooking the meat? Is that possible?
Moving on to the couscous, I had procured some curry powder earlier this week, and by some small miracle I had turmeric in the spice rack already, so I was able to make the curry/yogurt mixture as directed. IT WAS AWESOME. I liked it so much that I think I'm going to experiment with it in different recipes - I could see it going really well with chicken in particular. Not much else to note from the preparation of the couscous except that I decided to dice the carrots and steam them a bit instead of grating them and serving them raw. Turns out that I preferred them to be a bit soft, so I would probably do this again. As you can see from the pictures above, both my kiddos had fun helping me make and eat the couscous. :) I agree with Janice that this dish tastes wonderful at room temperature.
Overall, we loved both recipes and will definitely make them again!
Oh, I put some Chinese 5 spice from Penzey’s Spice in the rice, thinking that would reinforce the Asian theme—is Indonesian Asian??—not really sure about that. But the rice went well with the chicken. I also made a mandarin orange salad with homemade honey-mustard dressing which went very well with the chicken. (By the way—the oranges came from my tangerine tree in my backyard—that was fun to use them.) So….a good, fast, and cheap meal. I like that.
As usual, I cut the recipe in half and made a few changes of my own (with ingredients I had on hand).
- 1 fennel
- 1/2 onion
- 8 medium yellow gold potatoes
- 1/4 pound (about 1 1/2 cup grated) Gruyere cheese
- Topped with fresh parmesan
The Gruyere cheese is a bit expensive- I could only find a 1/2 pound block, so we have enough to make this recipe again. (Freeze your block cheese in foil and a freezer bag and it wil last a long time). You can also google yummy recipes for macaroni and cheese that use gruyere and white cheddar.
The potatoes/cheese browned up very nicely and bubbled for about 30 minutes of the cooking time. I sliced the potatoes myself- just make sure you slice them as thin as you can.
The overall opinion was the potatoes were VERY yummy! The gruyere and fennel gave it a sweet taste that we enjoyed. I topped it with fresh parmesan and it gave it a nuttier/earthy top taste. We will be making these again this Fall for the holidays.
- 2 pieces of salmon (about a pound total) that were previously frozen.
- 1/2 onion
- 1 fennel bulb (make sure you cut out the core of the fennel and cook until really tender)
- dried thyme (b/c I had it)
I didn't have parchment paper, so I bought some, and it helped! The salmon didn't stick at all.
(This picture was taken before cooking- I forgot to take one after :))
I set my oven to 500 degrees and the fire alarms kept going off, so I lowered it to 450 degrees and it cooked just fine (10 minutes per inch of thickness- ours cooked for 25 minutes). We like our salmon medium-well.
Verdict was that we both enjoyed it- I am an onion lover, but didn't prefer the taste of the cooked onions by themself. I thought the salmon had a wonderful flavor and Danny agreed. We are excited to have found a new way to cook salmon.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
So, this is my first post and attempt at the cookbook. I decided I was hungry for some muffins and picked the Corn Muffins because they looked easy and I had all of the ingredients....well, mostly!! So, I cheated a bit. I had a box of Jiffy cornbread mix, which happened to contain every single ingredient called for in the recipe, so I felt like it was really simply the smarter choice, especially considering that I LOVE Jiffy cornbread AND that I prefer to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible after a long day at work! I followed the muffin recipe on the box exactly, except I added a dash more milk because it seemed thick to me. After they finished cooking and were golden brown on top, I took them out of the muffin pan (so they wouldn't continue to cook) and allowed them to cool about 45 min.
All I know is she is young, she is active and she burns through calories as quickly as she consumes them. She had a big square!
Not so for me!
These brownies are outrageous because they contain a pound of butter, two pounds of chocolate and almost a pound of walnuts.
I ate a tiny square (so I can get my jeans zipped tomorrow) and it was outrageously good!
Ina says to cut into 20 squares and you could easily cut these into 40 decent sized squares.
These brownies were made to be shared...I think my sons varsity football team can use the calories ... I'll be sharing with them!
Tonight when I started the couscous, after I had gone too far to turn back, I realized I did not have any curry powder. When did I run out of it?? I used to have some. Maybe my pantry moths got it last summer, and it got thrown out. So then I looked for the turmeric—and it appears it had the same fate as the curry. I had a dilemma—can you make curried couscous without the curry? I looked for anything that might be similar in my spice cabinet, but came up with nothing, so decided I must change directions with the seasoning. After looking over my options, I choose a Mural of Flavor from Penzey’s Spice. It smelled good—so it became the substitute for the curry. I also substituted dried cherries for the currents, just because I had them. I cut the recipe in half as there were just two of us. We had very generous servings. And the result of all this substituting…? We loved it! Even my sometimes over opinionated husband loved and it—even said so twice!
So I will make this one again. I think that you could use any spice you want and it would be good. The most interesting ingredient was the yogurt—it just blended in completely. I do think I will cut back a tablespoon on the “good” olive oil next time. It was not too oily at all, but I have a feeling it would be just as good with a bit less. Sometime in the future I will try this again with the curry powder. Oh, I also liked that it is served at room temperature. I made it first and just left it on the counter, then made the rest of our dinner. It was nice to have one dish completely done before I started the rest.
Monday, September 28, 2009
They were good!
Just in case they weren't edible, I decided to do asparagus as well. Ina loves to roast those vegetables! The asparagus recipe is from another of her cookbooks but same technique. Omit the dill, toss a little Parmesan on top after it roasts, and you have another roasted vegie recipe. Asparagus only needs to cook 10 minutes so I added them to the pan after the carrots had cooked half way. Carrots probably would have been even better with fresh dill but I just used dried dill weed as I forgot to purchase the fresh dill.
My 17 year old son even ate those cooked carrots and liked them!! I think he was starving after football practice and would have eaten anything but still.
I wasn't able to find fresh sugar snap peas at my grocery store, so I used frozen. I defrosted them by putting them in water for about 10 minutes, and then dried them off well. Then I added the sesame oil and sesame seeds. At this point, I took a taste and my husband and I both determined that it needed a little something more. So, I added salt and also a little red wine vinegar (my husband's idea). These ingredients made all the difference. This was a very tasty, healthy salad. It's something I will definitely be making again.
For my first attempt, I chose to make the Baked Virginia Ham on page 119. Shannon already made this, so I basically followed her lead and bought a pre-sliced ham from HEB that weighed 2.5 lbs. I also halved the remaining ingredients...or so I thought! I actually forgot to use half of the orange zest...oops!! Our ham was very orangey (sp?) so I really wasn't too crazy about it. I think the hubby was on the same page as me. It was edible, though and we did eat the leftovers for lunch today. I wonder if I would have liked it more had I used less zest. Hmm? Also, I did not use fresh garlic...we had some minced garlic in the fridge so I used that to make things easier...don't know if that changed anything significantly. It says to bake for 1 hour, but I think it could have gone longer to brown the glaze even more. The recipe calls for mango chutney and I have no idea what that is. It looked weird. I will say that this recipe is very easy since all you do is mix everything in the food processor, pour it over the ham, and bake it.
For our side, I made the tried and true Roasted Carrots from page 149. I am not a fan of cooked carrots, but I really like these. They were just crisp enough and not too mushy like cooked carrots normally are. This was my first time using kosher salt to cook anything, but I notice that most of Ina's recipes call for it so I am prepared to cook the rest of the book now!
Here are my pictures:
Instead of little cupcakes I made a HUGE cupcake! I entered it in a dessert cook-off that my Sunday School class was doing....but I didn't win. :(
Although alot of people said they did vote for me! I borrowed a cake pan that had the top and bottom formed pans separate, then you "glue" them together with icing. I might have to buy one of these for myself.
I put a fork next to the cake so you could see get a better feel for what the size is. It tasted great, I'd make it again. I just ate some of the leftovers for lunch...yum!
Sunday, September 27, 2009
For the rest of us, we should just back track several days every once in a while to make sure we didn't miss a post. There could be some good info that is hidden under another post.
Amy, if you know a way to change this let us know.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
But did you know, that in Indonesia, they have these all-night puppet shows that sometimes last 8 hours? They are so important that people sometimes build their houses to accommodate them, with the whole front of the house opening up like a stage of sorts.
I wonder if they eat this chicken during the show. If so, I think I want to move.
One of our fellow bloggers, whom I can testify is downright adorable and tiny, decided to lighten this cake by substituting applesauce for some of the butter. I can respect that- after all, the icing for this thing is pretty much a slab of brown-colored butter. But as for me, for better or worse, health has got to be the last thing on my mind when making something like this. In fact, sometimes, just knowing how sinfully rich it is makes the experience all the better. If you're that kind of baker, this is the cake for you.
As far as tips.... You might need to bake it 5 minutes longer. Regarding serving. if you store the cake in the fridge, make sure you let it thaw just a bit. Otherwise, your guests will figure out the magic ingredient pretty quick. When cold, this thing looks and feels pretty much like a hunk of butter; let it thaw, it'll transform into a glossy delicacy. Either way, it tastes pretty awesome. I took it to a Home Fellowship Group tonight and left with an empty plate.
by Jenny Johnson
In our house, we use the term "granola" to describe our free-spirited, hippie-esque friends who refuse to shave for weddings and such. Not a knock. More like a term of endearment, really.
But THIS? Well, this might very well redefine granola. Just look at it! That is one classy bowl of oatmeal. I mean, figs? Wow! That is fancy. Heck, I don't think I'd ever even eaten a fig before (apart from fig newtons , of course). But I couldn't help but ask myself, is it toooo fancy?
After all, the reason granola is so comforting is the simplicity of it, right? The brown. The crunch. The honey. Not 'the figs' necessarily. By the way, use excellent local honey, because your milk will be flavored with it when you run out of granola. In fact, it seems every time I eat this, I end up in the same routine. Me, trying desperately to slurp all the honey-milk out of a bowl of left-over fruit. Perhaps that's a sign. A sign, of excessive fanciness.
My suggestion? Let us get back to our "granola" roots! Just add cranberries. It'll be enough. No need for an orchard. The granola- with the nuts, the almonds, and coconut- it's fabulous already. And, by the way, watching that fluffy mixture cook to a crispy golden brown is truly a satisfying experience. Made me feel downright wholesome, and my house smelled good too.
Just for fun, here's one of my favorite fun-lovin' commentaries on all things "granola." Enjoy!
Merle Haggard, "Okie from Muskogee."
Friday, September 25, 2009
I tasted the batter as I was pouring it into my baking pan, and I was pretty amazed. It was delicious. I guess I wasn't expecting much....you know, it's just chocolate cake. But I thought it was really good. Marc and I ate some that night after dinner as well as tonight. Yum. Oh, and Marc said the icing tastes like a chocolate bar (I lightened it a bit too, but I'll never tell him that..heehee.) - Alicia Gelnett
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Hi everyone! I finally got started with the cooking club this week, and I decided to start off with the roasted carrots and the fingerling potatoes (which I served with parmesan-crusted chicken breasts). Both were incredibly easy to prepare and tasted delicious! The only thing I would change the next time I prepare either of these two dishes is the amount of olive oil I use. I was not preparing as much food as the recipe called for, so I had to guess at the right amount of olive oil, and I overshot the mark a little bit, especially on the carrots. Nevertheless, both dishes were very yummy (my three year-old son, Ethan, scarfed the carrots!) and I have a feeling these will become staples in the Johnson household. LOVED the dill on the carrots!
Clam Juice: $2.25
Lobster 8oz: $3.25
Crab 8oz: $3.25 (x2)
Pie Crust: $1.50
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
We had the chicken with rice and haricot verts with caramelized onions and bacon.
The verdict: the flavor of the chicken was really good. You could definitely taste the ginger. It was a little more dry than I'm sure it would have been had we cooked it with the skin on and as a whole chicken, but it was overall very tasty. We ended up with a lot of chicken left over, which is great, because I think it will be delicious in some fried rice that we'll be making for dinner tonight.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
First of all, Jess and I decided we wanted to be real Barefoot Contessas with the fancy ingredients. Therefore, we are doing this project together to lessen the expense.
For example the "good" olive oil (seen below) which you can only get at Williams and Sonoma costs $30!!!!!!! And for this recipe (which we cut in half) we used a 1/4 of a cup!
We decided to start with the Gazpacho since it seemed not so intimidating and no one else has tried it. It's not a recipe that has to be cooked. You just chop up the ingredients and put them together with seasoning and tomato juice.
It's a cold soup. Which really didn't sound too appetizing, especially to Julie whom HATES vegetables.
It's extremely easy to make and not expensive (as long as you don't buy the "good" olive oil). All other ingredients where purchased from Whole Foods for $14 total. Once it's all combined you just pop it into the fridge for about an hour and let the flavor chill and marinate the veggies.
We tried the Gazpacho both before and after the chilling process and there was a definite improvement in taste after. We also made the croutons (as kind of failed at that, they are cajun style). If you don't use the baguette type bread then 15 minutes is way too long to cook it! We loved the flavor of the of the croutons and we added basil seasoning to it.
The Gazpacho was not as good on it's own as it was with the croutons or with plain bread. We also sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top and that definitely added to the taste.
It's a very refreshing type soup for summertime lunches. Jess and I are not fans of onions and this had a whole onion in it. However, Audrey (Julie's daughter) had no problem eating the raw onions, ICK! So we decided to chop it up quite fine and that did well (instead of coarsely like all the other ingredients).
We also decided fresh reggiano parmesan cheese which neither of us realized how hard it is and how difficult it is to grate so we enlisted the help of Julie's hubbie.
The overall review (without knowing what Terence thinks) is, it's okay. Julie didn't care for it, but she tried it! Jose said he really wouldn't want it again because it's really only good with something else. Jess says it's alright, she would eat it again but not everyday.
Ina recommended cutting these brownies into 20 large squares. I ended up cutting them a little bigger than a domino to stretch the recipe. With a cold glass of milk... Perfect!
Monday, September 21, 2009
For my first recipe from the book, I chose Roasted-Tomato Basil Soup and then later decided to make the Parmesan Croutons too. I only made half a recipe (my husband is out of town) but I think next time I will make more and see if I can freeze some.
I was happy with how it came out. Except I think I over salted the tomatoes when I roasted them, so the salty taste of the soup was a little overwhelming. I used Sea Salt, and I think it has a stronger flavor. I tried to add a little lemon juice to off set the salt, but it didn't help much. So, next time I know, less salt.
I do think roasting the tomatoes adds to the flavor. I don't have a food mill, so I used my food processor instead, it seemed to do the job just fine.
As for the croutons, I used the bread that I already had, but I was thrilled with how they came out. I'm sure with baguette they would be even better. But, I plan on making these again to just have on hand.
Looking forward to more cooking!