A meal that makes it worth working all week

31 Jan

Sunday morning we needed a treat.  What better than a lazy morning with tea and buttermilk pancakes?  These aren’t just any pancakes, these are good-for-you wholly goodness on a plate.  Nothing good for you tastes better.  It was between these or apple pancakes…..these won.  The apple pancakes were relegated to next weekend (or possibly sooner!).

The nice thing about pancakes is the ease of creation.  Except for the plethora of bowls that seem to be generated from all the mixing.

I love watching pancakes cook.  I had two pans going so I had a lot to watch.  Its amazing how hard it is to get two pans to cooperate when it comes to heating.

I think the only words here are….mmmmmmm!  They tasted exactly how they look.  The raspberries were the sweetest I’ve ever had, a wonderful compliment to the pancakes.

The pancakes were dense but not overly so.  The tastes blended wonderfully.  You could really taste the cornmeal, which is not a bad thing.  I was wondering when I could use more of all that polenta I bought.

Served with warm maple syrup, I’d give these pancakes 4.25 licks.

Now Playing: Tango Cancion by Gotan Project

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Escape of the lentils

31 Jan

I finally did it.  Saturday night was the night for the spinach and lentil soup I’ve been promising since Tuesday.  It was worth the wait.  Boy was it worth it.  Being a very easy recipe to throw together, its a great meal for a cold day that you don’t want to put a lot of effort into.  I accompanied the soup with our usual Caesar salad.  We’ve found that having a Caesar before the meals really works for both taste and portion control.

I really do think this Le Creuset pot is the best thing ever.  I can’t believe how well it cooks everything.  Its just amazing how they have it figured out.  Plus…..nothing sticks!

I think my favorite part of cooking a dish like this is when the shallots and garlic are sauted.  The aroma is amazing.

I really haven’t used many recipes with lentils, though I’ve always liked lentils.  I’ve had a package in the pantry for what seems an eternity but haven’t gotten around to using it.  I’ve said it before, but I love the color of food.

I had a thought about the amount of skins, tops, peels, etc. that I’m producing from all this fresh cooking.  Our plans are to go a lot greener and renewable this spring with our own garden.  Now it doesn’t make a lot of sense not to be putting this organic waste back into the ground through composting.  So that’s what we’ve started doing with everything.  As soon as spring rolls around, out come the shovels and this compost will go to good use……most likely rabbit food!  At least its green…. 🙂

Need smell-o-vision yet?  You should be wishing for it right now!

The soup was fantastic.  I was worried about the amount of ginger at first.  I mean really, a thumb-sized piece?  Who’s thumb?  Is this the King’s measurements, or something I’m not aware of?  Well, worries aside, it worked.  You could definitely taste it but instead of overwhelming you, it gave the soup a mellowness.  I gave this soup 4 licks.  A very good rating that will go into the soon-to-be-made-again file.

Desert wasn’t really needed after this soup, but to be complete we decided on some 72% French chocolate and red wine.

This is fantastic chocolate to cook with, but on its own its just as good.  Mouthwatering even.

We were lucky to have received this bottle of Domaine Pardon, Recolte 2009.  This is a fruity, very smooth, full red wine.  Highly recommended.

Now Playing: All I Want Is You by Tristan Prettyman
Next recipe: …….now that’s the question.  Having spent a mortgage payment at the grocery store this last week, this week is called “what can we cobble together”

Squash taste explosion

30 Jan

I’m getting behind!  It seems like the days are speeding up.  I’m still cooking though so I’ve got some updating to do.

I know that a few days ago I said that I was going to make a lentil and spinach soup, but having had some left over garden soup for lunch on Friday, we thought twice in a day was a little much.  So after a little digging and debate at a coffee shop with VERY slow internet, I ended up choosing a smattering of things to put together.  It ultimately affected my licks, but it was good none-the-less.  Scrubbie didn’t want meat for the dinner, so I took the opportunity to have some fish.  She doesn’t eat fish so I don’t get the chance to eat it very often.  I mentioned the other day that I wished there were more, affordable land animals available at the grocery store.  There are only so many that the DNR lets you eat!

Our meal was Prosciutto wrapped asparagus, provential squash in balsamic fig reduction, and white wine poached salmon with lemon dill sauce.

I have to admit once again that I’m still learning the paring thing.  I’m still undecided whether all this went together, but taken on their own each was fantastic.  I’ll be making them each again, but paired with something else.

I’ll say this again…..the squash was mouthwatering.  Now that could be due to the prodigious amounts of butter and the sugar in the fig preserve.  But I’ll take it.  I had to use Butternut squash because, of course, I don’t have a lot of access to French markets to get myself a Courge muscade, or “nutmeg squash”.  That would be a real treat.  Anyway they are of the same family so I understand, so it all worked out in the end…..fantastically.  I know I keep saying that, but try it and tell me you aren’t saying the same thing.  We’ve decided that it would go very well with a pork dish next time.

I used Mascarpone cheese on the prosciutto.  I’m not entirely sure you could taste it, so next time might leave it out.  The asparagus was done absolutely perfect.  This would be a treat to go with about any meal I can think of.

The salmon was perfection.  The dill sauce…..not so much.  I liked it, but it over powered the salmon and clashed with the rest of the dish.  Without the dill sauce and with just a touch of thyme and lemon, the salmon would have fit right in with the rest.  I’m going to leave the dill sauce to raw broccoli.

And a meal wouldn’t be complete without a little bread.  I pulled out the remaining dough from the wheat bread recipe I made a few days ago.  It was aging in the fridge, so I let it rest on the counter for an hour to come to room temperature.  Wow, better than before.  This bread came out light, airy, with just a slightly crunchy thin crust.  Best wheat bread I’ve had in ages.

All in all I give the meal 3 licks.  If I was able to rate each piece individually, I’d give everything except for the dill sauce 4.25-4.5 licks.  Absolutely going into the “keep” pile.

Now playing: The Sidewalks Of New York by Duke Ellington

A Mellow Mood

29 Jan

We’re going on day number 5 and our new pan rack is still on the wall!  For a few days I could almost hear it falling off the wall in the middle of the night.  It would probably wake the people down the street.  I have also stopped doing a double-take every time I see it in the corner of my eye.  The first day it was up our budding chef actually said hello to it.  I’m not sure what to make of that.  I think it was more a sign of respect rather than an unhealthy connection to it.  Given that it hangs above his head when we sit at the table, he has a right to show it proper respect.

I would also like to share my experience at Lombardino’s.  It was truly wonderful.  I had a very traditional Caesar salad.  It included the eggs, anchovies, and fresh dressing.  I then moved on to the main course of pumpkin stuffed ravioli with a light cheese sauce.  I picked  a mint chocolate dessert.  it was very creamy and the mint flavor was quite strong.  I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t as good as the flourless chocolate cake.  I had one taste of that cake and needed more.  I tried turning on the charm and moved on to looking seriously pathetic.  No luck.  I decided to steal it.  However, he was sitting to my right.  I am left handed and not as coordinated, sneaky, or quick with my right hand.  I made note of that for future dining experiences.

We just finished our spinach lentil soup.  It was very mellow although it did have a slight kick to it.  The soup was topped with a little yogurt.  It had a similar effect as sour cream, but added a sweet taste.  The soup was exactly what I needed.  I had a difficult week ending with a stressful meeting.  The soup, a very mellow red wine, and a little chocolate relaxed me.  I give it 4 licks for both flavor and mood.

Another important feature to mention is that the dishes and prep work for this meal are very minimal.  This was great given that I was not in the mood to stand at the sink for a long time.  The dogs were also happy since they were not banished from the kitchen for very long.  That makes up for being stuck with dry crunchy chunks.  Ok, maybe not.

Good night to all and to all a good night.

Scrubbie

What is a lick and how do I get one?

29 Jan

We probably have to explain a little bit about our lick system.  Given that our blog name has absolutely nothing to do with anything having four feet (it doesn’t I swear!)……we decided that our rating system will consist of licks.

One lick….You did something terribly wrong and the dog most likely won’t like it.

Two licks….Think Denny’s.  Food is okay but definitely not worth writing about.

Three licks….Food was good, but it was possibly over cooked or not seasoned correctly.  One dish possibly flopped.  Worth writing about to learn from mistakes.

Four licks….Now we’re getting somewhere.  As with any 5 something rating system, this is near the top of possibilities.  Food was really good, well seasoned, and mostly cooked just right.  Possibly the wrong dishes were paired and tastes tended to clash.  Another possibility is a slight mis-cooking on one dish, but still had a good result.

Five licks….The Mecca of the Jazzy Kitchen.  Nearly unattainable, but when you do, its a dish that could be the driving force behind smell-o-vision, or possibly dare I say…..food replicators.

And for that white elephant kind of rarity of the perfect meal……

Five licks and a paw….description unneeded.

Now playing: A Kiss To Build a Dream On by Louis Armstrong

Best in town or not worth the money?

29 Jan

We ended up going to Lombardino’s for a birthday dinner on Thursday night.  As you could probably guess, it is Italian but I’d say it had a northern Italian/French lean to it.  It just so happened that this last week was Restaurant Week here in Madison.  It is a week where a collection (normally 25-30) local restaurants offer special menus and pricing so you can sample what they offer at a reduce price.  It worked out for us because the menu looked delicious and the price was great.

I went for a collection of squash soup, pork tenderloin over potatoes, and flour-less chocolate cake.  Being completely honest, the soup was divine.  Something I could eat every night for an appetizer for the next three years.  I believe it was a butternut squash (or something very similar) with nutmeg.  Now since I’m still developing my super sensitive, spice taste-tester, taste buds, I couldn’t tell you what else was in the soup.  But if you ever go there, order it!

Next up was the pork tenderloin over mashed potatoes.  Again I couldn’t tell you what the potatoes were made up of other than……potatoes.  Possibly some lemon zest, chives, and other saucy goodness.  The pork was well seasoned but unfortunately the potatoes were the star of the meal.  The pork was a bit tough and rather chewy.

Then the dish that made the night worth it.  The flour-less chocolate cake served in an espresso cup with a small dollop of whipped cream.  It was about the consistency of my chocolate mousse the other night before I chilled it.  Served warm this “cake” was simply heaven in a cup.

All in all the portion sizes were well done, seasoning was spot on, and overall a good meal.  The pork fell short but was saved by the rest of the meal.  If you are looking for a nice night away from your kitchen, I’d recommend it.  4.25 licks.

Now playing: Leonardo’s Ride by The Greencards
Next recipe: TBD…….we didn’t go the grocery store quite enough times this week apparently

What’s the greatest thing to happen to herbs?

27 Jan

This! The Herb Keeper from Crate & Barrel.  Don’t think we’re trying to plug products, but now we’re plugging a product!  I was on their website snooping around and came across this.  Supposedly it keeps your herbs fresh for longer.  Some of the comments mentioned that people were keeping herbs as long as three or four weeks.

About four days before I read this, I had splurged on three packages of herbs for a recipe I made.  Even that quick, some were wilting and going bad.  I figured what the heck and sprang for this.  OMG!!!!  My thyme is going on a month, savory is going on three weeks.  My chives are a week old.  Mint is still a bit short lived, but hey, 1 out of 5 staying fresh for over a week are pretty good odds!  I’m religious about changing the water every couple days and picking out any wilting or rotting bits that show up.

Anyone who tries to keep fresh herbs in the fridge should definitely invest in one of these.  You’ll end up saving way more than this costs.

Okay, that’s the end of my gratuitous product plug.  Now go and buy one :).

Now playing: Sunny Road by Emiliana Torrini

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