Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mid-week report

I last told you about the dinner menu for the week. Thought I'd give you a progress report on all of it so far.

Sunday night was chicken piccata, one of Steve's favorites. I couldn't remember where I found the recipe when I made it last time, so I used the one from the Bon Appetit Easy, Fast, Fresh cookbook. If my memory accurately remembers the first recipe, then I would say I preferred the one I made Sunday night. I thought it was very simple and the sauce was excellent. It included fresh shallots, which I love, and just the right amount of lemon and capers. I did make a note to double the sauce for next time, though, because Steve "likes it saucy." The chicken was slightly overcooked but not too bad. No picture.

Monday night was more chicken but in a completely format. I have made this panko crusted chicken schnitzel before and we both really liked it. The last time I made it, I also included a lemon, caper, butter sauce and we ate it over pasta. This time, Steve wanted just the chicken part so we made sandwiches out of it. Think Chick Fil-A only better. The chicken was cooked perfectly - nice and crispy on the outside, juicy & tender on the inside - and we paired it with freshly baked brioche buns from one of the several local Italian bakeries in the area. Topped with some may and dill pickle slices. Yum. No picture.

On Monday afternoon, I made a fresh vinaigrette for the green salad we had on the side. Cook's Illustrated Sept/Oct issue has a "foolproof" vinaigrette recipe and variations. Well, foolproof obviously doesn't apply to me. I'm making up the dressing and just plopped in the oil. As soon as I did it, I knew how dumb that was. The whole point of the dressing is to make a nice emulsion, which requires that the oil be whisked in slowly. Duh. Poured this made-wrong-but-still-perfectly-edible batch of dressing into a container and put in fridge. Attempt number two went perfectly and even hours later when we used the dressing, it hadn't separated at all. The dressing I made incorrectly had separated into obvious layers. No picture.

Also on Monday afternoon, I made the Dutch Baby that I saw in the July issue of Food & Wine. (I don't normally buy or read F&W, but I bought it at the airport on my way to ALA. I used to buy Bon Appetit for airplane reading, but as I now have a subscription, I had to get a different food mag.) Dutch Baby was new to me and it sounded tasty and easy to make. The recipe said that Dutch Baby is also known as a German Pancake, which still didn't make it any more familiar to me. Here is the link to the recipe I used. The picture accompanying the recipe led me to believe that this would be a puffy, light breakfast/dessert food. Hmmm. I must have done something wrong because mine looked nothing like the picture. Here is what is should have looked like:

Mine turned out to be sort of right looking. The sides of my Dutch Baby stood up and were nice and puffy. The middle however, was another story. The middle never rose or puffed, and looked like I had offended it somehow. The middle had a dense custard-pudding consistency that sat in the tummy like lead. I also only used blueberries, so mine didn't have the cheery, colorful mix of berries that was recommended. I bought raspberries to use but when I opened them - only ONE DAY after I bought them - they already had a nice growth of black fuzzy mold. (I think they must have been purchased that way and I just didn't check them carefully enough.) Don't get me wrong, the whole thing tasted just fine, but it just wasn't pretty to look at and since I've never had a Dutch Baby, I wasn't sure if the consistency was right. I have poked around online to look at other recipes and photos and actually mine might have been right. Several sites describe it as being fluffy, but others say it has a more of a Yorkshire pudding consistency. Who knows. I'd like to try it again because I may have also made a crucial mistake. The recipe said to use a 10-inch CAST IRON skillet. Of course, I had read that, but when I went to prep a pan, I for some reason grabbed the All-Clad 10-inch skillet. I have no idea why. Between the pan mistake and the vinaigrette emulsion mistake, my head was clearly not in the kitchen on Monday afternoon. The cast iron shape and material might really make a difference, so I'd try this again using the correct pan. When I served this to Steve, he wasn't terribly enthused, but I dolloped on a huge amount of fresh whipped cream and he ate it. It isn't one of our favorite desserts, but it will do until I make something else. No picture of this possible mistake.

Tuesday night was pork tenderloin with pineapple, lime, and chile glaze. This took a little longer than I anticipated to make, but it was pretty good. The recipe asks for TWO pork tenderloins to make FOUR servings. I didn't think this was necessary so we only used one, fairly large, tenderloin. The recipe also calls for red jalapenos. Well, I forgot to look at the produce stand on Sunday for these, and our corner grocery store only sells green jalapenos in pre-weighed sealed packages. I would have happily substituted green ones for red if I could have bought just a couple loose. I didn't need a dozen jalapenos for the two tablespoons required. So we improvised with green Tabasco sauce, chili powder, and a can of green chiles. I don't think the end result was as spicy as it should have been, but it was wonderfully sweet with all that pineapple juice. The pork cooked up p-e-r-f-e-c-t-l-y. We ate slices of pork over white rice drizzled with more of the glaze. Green salad on the side with the dressing I didn't make correctly the day before. I didn't want to buy a six-pack of pineapple juice, or a large 32 ounce container, so I bought two cans of pineapple chunks in juice and used the juice from those to get my cup for the glaze. We ate pineapple for dessert and probably tonight and tomorrow. There is a lot of pineapple in two cans. No picture, do you get the pattern yet?

Tonight, I'm going to make the sweet corn soup. I was supposed to make the gnocci, but I have to first make the ricotta, which I will do today. The ricotta has to drain out in the fridge overnight.

More tales to tell.


  1. Hi Ellen! I just found your blog through twitter! You're back in NY!

    When you were here you should have gone to the Pancake House in Encinitas. They make Dutch babies there to die for. It is what I always get, but there they just serve them with slices of lemon and powdered sugar, and they aren't poofy in the middle either.
    The one pictured is gorgeous though. I many just have to try that. See the trouble your blog has gotten me into now? Delicious trouble!
    Nice to see you!

  2. Hi Mary! I loved Pancake House in San Diego - they had the best tasting batter I've ever had. (Steve and I have been looking for a new pancake place here, and one of the diner's has a pretty good p-cake, but it's no Pancake House.) I never ordered the Dutch babies there, though, as the pull of their blueberry pancakes was always too great. I used to see them coming out of the kitchen and wonder what they were. Now I know.

    The picture of the Dutch baby on my blog is the one that went with the F&W recipe, and alas, mine was a sad looking, blueberry pocked thing. Still tastes good!