Saturday, March 21, 2009

Braised and Glased Brussels Sprouts, HTCE Anniv edition, p. 270

I love Brussels Sprouts and usually just steam them. This time, I wanted to see what Bittman had to offer. This recipe looked so simple that I had to try it. Put butter, chicken stock, and Brussels sprouts in pan, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. I used the liquid from home made chicken soup and I know that made a big difference.
Uncover, and boil off all the liquid, until everything becomes glazed and crisp. What could be easier than that? I had to sneak a few right out of the pan. The rest went over some pasta with a little fresh Parmesan cheese ground on top. It was delicious and I will definitely make this again! I forgot how good butter tastes when you cook with it. I love olive oil but once in a while it's nice to use real butter. The Brussels sprouts were tender yet crisp on the outside.
Bon appetit and as usual, a big thank you to The Bittman.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Basic Polenta, HTCE pg. 485

Taking it a bit easier tonight I decided to make one of Bittman's recipes with my basic crunchy kale and Herbes de Provence spiced chicken breast. The result was delicious.
As I began writing this I realized that Doris made this recipe once before, but it looks like we got different results. Doris' looks creamier and mine came out firm with some heft. This could have to do with cooking time. Bittman says that after you've brought the milk, water and salt to a boil, to whisk the polenta briskly to make sure it doesn't clump. I did that, but it solidified pretty quickly, calling into questions his directions to let it cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
By the time I had stirred in the butter (6 minutes or so) the polenta was thick enough to serve, and thick enough to mold into disks to fry if we had wanted.
Once plated we added grated Parmesan cheese and ground pepper. Next time I think I'll use chicken broth instead of plain water and will make Bittman's herb variation where you stir in sage and rosemary while cooking and minced garlic at the end. Sounds pretty good. This was such an easy dish, I know we'll make it again, especially on hectic weeknight.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Easiest and Best French Bread HTCE (Yellow) pg.224

Since my fish meal (see below) called for crusty bread as a side, and since it was Sunday and I had all day, I decided to make my own. I've made this bread before using this recipe with mixed results. I chalked those results up to the weather and temp. of my kitchen since they can play a part in the end result when baking bread (or anything else for that matter).

before rising

after rising

I tried putting 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup corn meal in place of 1/2 cup of the total white flour as suggested by Bittman to make the bread a little more interesting. As you can see, the bread didn't rise very much. This was my fault as I think my yeast was too old. The resulting bread was a little dense, but still tasted very good (especially still warm!). I will definitely make this again with the same flour modifications and fresher yeast.

Poached Monkfish with Lemon Sauce - Fish pg.178

As I've said before, we love fish and we eat alot of it. This is a recipe that I've made about 10 times and it's always been fantastic. We have a small farmers market near us every Saturday and the fish monger always has monkfish. It's expensive, but worth it in my humble opinion. This recipe also calls for leeks, which are so yummy - I'll always jump at the chance to try a recipe that includes them!

The recipe is simple and straightforward. I've never strayed from Mr. Bittman's instructions and don't think I ever will (with this recipe at least).

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Paprika Roasted Chicken, Broccoli Raab with Garlic and Braised Potatoes, HTCE pgs. 270, 343 and 644

I worked from home yesterday after it snowed about 10 inches here in Inwood. I never left the house and decided to make a cozy home cooked meal for Ben (my husband who is becoming a Bittman devotee) for when he got home out of the cold.

Ben and I often roast chickens on Sundays, but I've never done it on my own. I'm a bit squeamish about chicken innards, but felt brave and convinced myself I could do it, with Bittman's guidance of course! We normally use an adjustable metal rack, but Bittman's recipe just calls for a cast iron pan. I used my trusty Le Creuset (what would I do without you??) dutch oven. The recipe was so simple and easy and came out amazingly. First, heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the deep pan or dutch oven inside after five minutes. Remove the innards (let's not talk about that part!) of the chicken, sprinkle one tablespoon paprika over the chicken and drizzle 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil on top and massage the entire bird. Place rosemary sprigs on top of the bird. Once the oven has reached 450, pop the bird in the (very hot--be careful!) dutch oven. If you were a sane person, that would be it for about an hour. If you are anything like me, this is just the beginning.
On to the broccoli and potatoes. Although Bittman's recipe for both the potatoes and raab were simple, it was just too many pots for a Monday night. In the future, I think I will jsut toss some potatoes and carrots at the bottom of the dutch oven (to roast in the juices) and make a salad. But, that's not what I did. You live and you learn.
I've been wanting to incorporate more greens in my diet ever since reading Doris' post about kale and reading Bittman's "Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating." I liked the taste of the recipe, but both Ben and I found the raab to be a little bitter (turns out broccoli raab is a relative of the turnip!) for our palate. I think in the future I will stick to regular broccoli (even though broccoli raab is not related to broccoli, but instead is a descendant from a wild herb)or kale. But, I digress. As I said, the recipe was simple. Blanch the raab for 3 minutes, plunge in ice water, remove and squeeze the excess water. Bittman says the raab will keep in the fridge for up to two days at this point, so it could be a good food to make ahead of time for quicker meals on those crazy weeknights. Next, add a little olive oil to a pan and add garlic slivers, letting them soften a bit before adding the raab. Cook until garlic is tender and slightly golden.
I made the potatoes at the same time--which is where I got in a little trouble-- the food came out perfectly, but I felt a bit harried. I like cooking to feel a little more creative and relaxing, almost meditative. I'm still learning how to deal with multiple pots at once.
I will definitely make these potatoes again. Basically all you do is peel and cut up the potatoes into chunks. Add olive oil to a skillet or braising pan (I used this, my second favorite pot/pan. Thank you wedding registry!) then add one small onion diced and saute until soft. Add potatoes until slightly golden and then pour in 2 cups broth. Let simmer for about 25 minutes, et voila, one of the most amazing tasting potato dishes I've ever made. Ben and I ate the meal while sitting on our cushions in front of the coffee table in the living room. He and the cat could not get enough. Fortunate for us, the recipes we used serve 4 and we are only 2.1 (Kali our cat is very small), so we will have plenty of leftovers for tonight.