Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I Really Should Make This More Often

I made chicken marsala last night for the first time in years. I recall that my last attempt involved a lot of measuring and worrying about cooking times, which is kind of a downer, even if the results are good.

This time, I reviewed a couple of chicken marsala recipies, got the jist, and walked away from the books. I did what made sense based upon what I've learned from spending so much time in the kitchen lately - and it worked fabulously! It was quick, easy, painless and delicious. And, gosh, I like egg noodles!

I have found it is very difficult to take photos of food with a flash, which is really my only option when making dinner after 7pm. It always looks weird, and I'm way too hungry at that point to even think about using a tripod. Thus, my very stark-looking food pics.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Never Again. Probably.

I was SO excited to make my first rack of lamb for Easter dinner. I even discussed my plan of attack with a culinary instructor (I took a pasta-making class on Saturday) who had some great suggestions. I was ready, I thought. But each step of my plan introduced a completely unexpected hurdle:

1. Trimming the lamb of fat made it start to separate from the "rack." This scared me. The rack is kind of important here, right?

2. How do you sear a piece of meat that doesn't come in good contact with the pan - there's a rack in the way!?

3. The most frustrating part: once I decided the lamb was done roasting and resting, I went to cut the rack into rib sections. There was a bony part that ran all the way across the rack that was nearly impossible to cut through. I managed to cut through a few, carefully avoiding my fingers, and undoubtedly dulling my newly sharpened knife. Very frustrating.

4. I created a tasty crusty coating for my lamb (carmelized shallots, bread crumbs, and thyme a la Sara Molten) that was scarcely present on the cut lamb since there's hardly any meat on the little things!

The meat was flavorful and tender, but this, I've decided, is a meal best left to great restaurants.

My pea polenta, on the other hand, came out quite good, as did the roasted acorn squash. Maybe *leg* of lamb next year?

Brown Eggs Are Local Eggs...

...but they aren't quite right for Easter egg dying. Perfect for turning into egg salad for Easter lunch, though!

I used, for the first time, a new hard-boiled egg recipe that resulted in both yellow (and not gray-green) yolks and mostly easy-to-peel shells: Cover fresh eggs in cold water with a teaspoon of salt, bring to a boil, turn down the heat a bit, cover and cook for 13 minutes, followed by an ice bath (I ran mine under cold water in the sink for a while). Worked quite well!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Look, Ma! No silverware!

Hmmm. Not much flavor, either.

I really wanted to make nice chilled fresh summer rolls with shrimp and basil. Unfortunately, I had gathered all but one important ingredient at Stop&Shop this weekend when I learned that they did not carry that last ingredient - the summer roll rice wrapper. Kind of important... I couldn't put all of the other stuff back, so I improvised, deciding upon baked shrimp eggrolls and chicken lettuce wraps.

The lettuce wraps were OK. However, you can't bake eggroll wrappers: they're little square sheets of pasta, so to me, there were parts that tasted like the edges of an overdone lasagna. I really have to get over my fear of deep frying...right after I buy a fire extinguisher.


I was thrilled yesterday to make my very first homemade pesto. Another of Giada's recipes, it was a citrus pesto with lemon and orange zest/juice, pine nuts, basil, garlic, and parmesan. It came out great (and I got to use my fabulous food processor!), and I served it atop pan fried tilapia accompanied by roasted asparagus with lemon zest and shallots.

What My Mom Made

Huge thanks to my super-creative, crafty, skilled mom who made us a beautiful Japanese-inspired "Bento Box" wall quilt for our living room! We love it!