tasty nom nom an exception to the daily meal

10Oct/110

Stewed and Smashed

E,

You don't know how pleased I was to check the weather report for this weekend and see cool temperatures. N and I had a lamb leg that we promised G we'd make, and I finally landed on a Morrocan-style tagine from Bon Appétit.

Saturday morning I wandered into the kitchen and found N mixing up the spice blend. I think he was feeling left out of the dinner process and wanted to contribute. Shortly thereafter he did a very helpful thing and methodically trimmed the lamb leg of fat and sinew and cut it into stew cubes. I was getting ready to just hack that leg up, so I'm glad N stepped in!

before adding the meat
in progress

I generally followed the recipe. We doubled it because we had twice the amount of meat. I added cumin seed and substituted dried figs for dried apricots. I also added slices of fennel (in an effort to clean out my fridge!). The cooking time was extended a bit as well.

in progress
in progress

Overall it turned out fairly well. I would make it again if I were not swimming in leftovers!

plated
e's plate

I made a couple of quick sides -- basmati rice, tomato-cucumber-onion salad (using homemade red wine vinegar!), and my winter staple, roasted root vegetables.

root veggies
root veggies

In the farm share this week we received carrots, fennel, and gorgeous baby turnips. I chopped them up and added some golden beets and parsnips, tossed it all with salt, garlic, and olive oil and roasted it for about an hour. I wanted to make sure we had some crispy vegetables to go along with the stew-like lamb.

There was quite the assortment of beer ingested at dinner. N and I shared a Dogfish Head's My Antonia, which we thought was light and inoffensive but nothing grand. You tried a Widmer Bros. Nelson Imperial IPA -- how did you like it? Bitter and citrusy enough? Later N and G had a couple of Avery IPAs.

Hey! We even managed to try a new game!

WMD
new game

Last weekend N and I picked up Weapons of Mass Destruction, which is a 2004 expansion for the 1965 game Nuclear War, but also playable by itself.

Thanks in part to itty bitty tiny font on the instructions, we struggled through one game, probably mostly incorrectly. One issue with the expansion-as-standalone-game is that it ends asynchronously. So poor G got knocked out first and then had to sit there bored and waiting while you and I lost our governments to N!

I think the play is quick and interesting enough that I am willing to find the base game and try it out.

After the game ended, we moved onto UNO with a quick snack of fruit and my favorite pumpkin ice cream. Poor N couldn't win a game in UNO, not even by refusing to play any cards! Funny that.

I'm off to think about Thanksgiving for a few weeks...

6Oct/110

Marked on the calendar

G, inspired by N's smoked salmon, immediately got some trout to make smoked trout (one of his favorite, who would have thought you can get trout here?!). While that experiment failed, this one worked out well. I present evidence below.

The fishes was brushed with maple syrup & brown sugar, seasoned with salt, stuffed with lemon and onions, layered with bacon, wrapped in aluminum and steamed on the grill. And he did it all by himself, by which, I mean, he found the trout, selected the recipe, prepped, and grilled/steamed. We won't mention how his helper always do the prep and finish - recipes, marinates, brines, sauces, plating, etc.

Exhibit A: trouts

The trouts separated from the aluminum foil nicely, minus the tails.  With no experience serving fish, I fumbled through it. N did a great job with his. Although the maple flavor was only on the skin, the fish was tasty.

The fish was served with simple grilled yellow squash, zuc, and bell pepper, cucumber tomato salad, and couscous. For the salad, I chopped up some refrigerator pickled sweet peppers, onions & zuc, along with beefsteak tomato and English cucumber, tossed with parsley, lemon juice & zest, and a touch of olive oil. I seasoned the salad at the table with G's new fancy balsamic infused salt. N requested cilantro instead of parsley. Hmm. Does he always prefer cilantro?

G, fished (pun intended), for compliments for most of the evening. So I am marking this occasion. Beers and meade later, we were allowed to move on, but we will come back to that.

Last week, you and N introduced me to crème brûlée Imperial Milk Stout from southern tier brewing company. It is a yummy dessert beer. Is it also a good dessert?

DSCN2009 frosting fail and out of practice cake decorating

I chose Chocolate Stout Cake from epicurious over numerous other recipes due to the sour cream content. IMO, addition of sour cream improves the cake texture from good to yummy. I made the cake on Friday night and let the cakes cool over night. Saturday morning, I mixed up 3(?) cups of frosting for the layer and crumb coat. Let rest in the fridge for an hour. Then mixed up a few more cups for the final coat.

For the frosting, I improvised a cream cheese frosting, instead of the ganache. Previously, I followed a whipped cream frosting recipe, that makes a good looking, tasty, pipeable, stable frosting. I wanted to try a more chocolatey and denser frosting to go with this cake. So I increased the chocolate proportion ~12oz + 1 cups of cream cheese + 2 cups of cream.  While tasty, it was not good looking. Also, there was an alchemy fail with the frosting. I was juggling the temperature of the various componets of the frosting. I melted the chocolate with a little cream, let cool a bit, then mixed with room temperature cream cheese. Separately, whipped the cold cream until soft peak, folded all together. Somehow, bits of chocolate appeared. I may try cocoa powder next time.

After over indulging, we played a round of Bohnanza. When we saw one card in the last draw, you wisely asked for a card count. Turns out my deck is missing a Wax Bean and a Blue Bean. Sad. I will put it on my list to replace.

And ... the last words G said after you and N left,

'What did you think of that trout?"

The first words G said in the next morning,

"That trout was pretty good."

Oye.

P.S. Thanks for the yummy beer and meade. I liked Avatar Jasmine IPA and Tricerahops Double IPA. I was sad I did not get any Ranger IPA. There is always next time. Thanks for another hobby!

3Oct/110

Lack of Imagination

Good evening, E!

I guess it is not so much a lack of imagination so much as lack of summer food imagination that carried this meal. I was daydreaming about making spinach soufflé, french onion soup and bread, but it simply wasn't seasonally appropriate. Soon, very soon!

Since I had a mid-day hockey practice, I handed over the meal planning to N. In turn he handed me the task of making a simple salad.

While I was out picking up a few things for the salad, I happened across some black figs. I've been craving figs recently (funny how that happens with the season change!) and decided on the simple but tasty appetizer of prosciutto wrapped figs stuffed with goat cheese, grilled quickly. I forgot to drizzle the honey on about half of the figs -- I'm not sure it made a difference.

proscuitto wrapped figs
yum, figs

I'm still wishing for more grilled figs, with or without the cheese and prosciutto. Yum.

Salad wise, I started at gorgeous tomatoes courtesy N's boss. I tossed the tomatoes with some artichoke hearts, romaine, and sautéed onions. I threw together a simple dijon vinaigrette. Easy peasy -- and there was no salad left!

DSC_8513
quick salad

N took care of the rest of the meal. He made jerk chicken with a habanero + peach sauce. I made a less-spicy version of the sauce by mixing it with plain yogurt and cotija.

plate_DSC_8516
chicken and potatoes

N also made wrinkled potatoes. It is deceptive in how much salt it uses and how salty the potatoes end up. It reminds me of upstate/central New York's salt potatoes, though wrinkled potatoes use a bit less salt! In Syracuse you can actually buy a kit which is just bag of potatoes with the correct amount of salt and just dump the whole thing into a pot with some water.

For dessert, N popped open a bottle of Southern Tier's Crème Brûlée and served us each a few ounces. This is a beer that our favorite server at our favorite local restaurant introduced to us and we subsequently became a bit obsessed. We shared that obsessionhobby with you! Hooray, beer!

We played some mindless games instead of trying something new with the beer. Next week! We picked up a couple of potentially interesting games to try out.

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