Grilled Zucchini and Squash

Charlie has a coworker who grows her own organic vegetables and continues to share her bounty with us. We happily accept. Over this past weekend we had our lovely friends Alicia and Ben over to shoot some more comics. (They will be reprising their roles as Claire and Marv from the ongoing graphic novel 1000 Miles. Good stuff. if you haven’t already checked it out.) Anyway, I naturally wanted to feed them delicious delicacies. We had my grandma’s steak and roasted potatoes (both previously featured) and then some Grilled Zucchini and Squash. After a poll on facebook of how best to marinate and cook them, I ended up with this. I’m not wild about it. But I’m not sure there’s a vegetable that I am wild about…so, that’s to be expected. Charlie said they were pretty good, nothing to write home about. I believe Alicia concurred.

1 zucchini
1 squash
olive oil
garlic salt
soy sauce
Worchestershire Sauce
Cut up zucchini and squash, sprinkle with saucy-marinade-y stuff. Put in a shallow pan (because I was afraid it would fall into the grill) and grill. (I then put it in the oven for a bit because we have a tiny grill and needed to cook the steak.

Drunken Chicken, Couscous, Hand-picked Salad and Sugar and Spice Cookies

Finally! A meal with different parts! Not just a main dish! Sometimes I just get so focused on the main dish, that I forget to make a side. This time, I thought ahead. So, we had some couscous, and I picked some fresh lettuce and peas for Charlie’s salad. I also has been really, really wanting cookies, so I found a new recipe out of yet another new cookbook. I made these right when I got home. I adore molasses and molasses type cookies. Most delicious ever. I wasn’t intending to make molasses cookies, but as I was flipping through the index of this most recent book, I stumbled across Sugar and Spice cookies. Those sounded good. We have the ingredients? Yep. Ok, I’m making these. Then, not long after they were finished baking, I started on the real supper. The couscous came out of a box. It was just original flavor though, so I added some finely chopped garlic and some of Penzey’s Herbs de Provence. The real meal though was the Drunken Chicken. It came out of Momma & Me & You. It was “Momma’s” answer to a guest’s request for Coq au Vin. It was a good choice.

Drunken Chicken
Momma & Me & You, Jan and Livia D’Atri pg. 64
Sugar and Spice Cookies
King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking pg. 325-326 (PS: I broke a rule laid down in THE BOOK…to always use the flour a recipe calls for. I didn’t have any wheat flour…so I just used plain old unbleached all purpose flour. They taste just fine. And look and bake just like described.)

Dinner with My Parents

Saturday my parents came to visit. It’s been a while since they’ve been down and I wanted to make something nice…plus, I was dying to try out a couple new recipes. Sorry it’s been so long since the last post, food budget has been tightened recently, and that coupled with my tendency to go over whatever budget we have has toned down my experimenting. Anyway, for the visit I made hamburgers, roasted potatoes, Almond-Tumeric Potatoes, Three Pea Toss, and the Apple Kuchen for dessert. As we’ve already seen the roasted potatoes and the Apple Kuchen…and hamburgers just aren’t that exciting, the pictures here are only of the Almond-Tumeric Potatoes and the Three Pea Toss.

Recipes can be found in THE BOOK pages 263 and 289-290.

Roast Experiment

We had a roast in our freezer for a while. At Christmas we brought meat home from my parents-in-law and this was the last of it. The pepper from the stir-fry was still left over. For some reason only enormous ones had been at the store, so I had only used half of it for the stir-fry. There was also some leftover ginger root, rosemary, and mushrooms. Also, we had some baby carrots that were at the point of being no longer good for eating alone, but not rotten either. I thought a roast would be just the cure. Finally, I had some beef bouillon granules in the cupboard and some organic chicken broth in the fridge. So, I threw them together and came up with this. As I don’t eat veggies very much, well, I thought it was a little boring. Charlie ate the veggies with it and said it was quite good that way.

Roast Experiment
Red Bell Pepper
Sliced Ginger Root
Rosemary Leaves
Baby Carrots
Beef Bouillon
Chicken Broth
~Pour some beef bouillon granules into casserole dish. Pour some hot water in as well and stir to dissolve the granules.
~Pour some chicken broth in the dish as well.
~Put the roast in the dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
~Peel and slice the ginger root and put in the broth.
~Slice the pepper and put it in the dish with some baby carrots.
~Slice the mushrooms and put them over the top.
~Sprinkle fresh rosemary leaves over the top.
~Put the cover on the dish and bake. (I did it at 300*F for about 2 hours and then moved it up to 425*F for about 30-45 minutes. Before raising the temperature, I also cut up potatoes and tossed them with some olive oil and a little salt. Spread them over a half sheet pan and put them in the oven as well. I removed the roast when the potatoes were done.)

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

I’d been reading through THE BOOK and it kept recommending how to find a good wok, and the rhythm of stir fry, and this “asian fish sauce” of which I had never heard. Quite a while before I made this, I had read perhaps four recipes in a row recommending this fish sauce. So I went to work and asked some of my lovely Asian co-workers if they had heard of it and where to find it. Naturally they all had and one of them was kind enough to bring some in for me (as well as some oyster sauce and some Thai rice stir fry noodles. Thanks Payia!). Despite receiving all of this…It still took me a good month and a half or more to make use of it. I felt I couldn’t make a proper stir fry without a wok. So what did I purchase with some birthday money? Yes, a wok. It was delightful. Finally I had all the most necessary ingredients. I figured I could just throw together some meat and veggies and fry them up…but as I had never attempted it before, I thought a recipe would be nice the first time and variations could be made thereafter, once I was comfortable with it. So, I resorted to my favorite way to search, GOOGLE! It did not disappoint. I discovered this recipe and it was very delicious.

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
3/4 pound beef sirloin steak, thinly sliced into strips
3 tbsp soy sauce mixed with 1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 large head broccoli (or 2 small), chopped into florets
optional: 1 red bell pepper, chopped
optional: 1 red chili, thinly sliced (I used a red bell and couldn’t find a red chili so I ended up with a Serrano)
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1 pkg Thai stir-fry noodles
Stir Fry Sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp cornstarch
3 tbsp dry sherry
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp lime juice (I simply used the juice from one lime. I think I was a bit shy, but it still tasted just fine.)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 and 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves and stems, finely chopped (I didn’t have fresh, so I used 1 tbsp dried, ground coriander.)
2 tsp sesame oil (I didn’t have any, so I did not use this.)
extra handful of fresh coriander (for garnish) (Also, did not have this.)
2 tbsp oil for stir-frying (I approximate this.)
1/4 cup water
~Soak your Thai stir-fry noodles as directed on package, and then drain and set aside.
~Pour the soy sauce and sugar mixture over the strips of beef. Season with ground black pepper and stir well. Set beef aside to marinate while you prepare the other ingredients.
~Place the fish sauce in a cup or small bowl. Add the cornstarch and stir until it dissolves. Now add all the other stir-fry sauce ingredients and stir to combine.
~Place a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp oil plus the onion, ginger, and fresh chili. Stir-fry briefly to release the fragrance (about 1 minute).
~Add the beef together with it’s soy sauce marinade. Stir-fry 5 minutes or until beef is cooked. If your wok becomes dry, add a tbsp of water.
~Add the broccoli plus the red bell pepper. Also add the stir-fry sauce plus 1/4 cup water.
~Stir fry until broccoli turns bright green and has softened slightly, but is still fairly firm - about 2 minutes.
~Add the noodles and cook until they are warm. The rise in temperature and collection of flavor is all they need as they are otherwise ready to eat.
~Remove from heat and do a taste test. If too salty for your taste, add a little more lime juice. If not salty enough, add a little more fish sauce. If not spicy enough (although it most definitely was for us!), add a little more cayenne pepper. Drizzle sesame oil over and serve immediately with generous sprinklings of fresh coriander.

Tarragon Chicken Breasts with Buttery Leeks

This dish sounded tasty…and I imagined the leeks would provide an easy side dish. The dish was tasty, the leeks cooked down quite a bit and therefore provided a rather scant side dish. The sauce for this one was quite yummy. (Same for the chicken with the cider vinegar earlier.)

Tarragon Chicken Breasts with Buttery Leeks
Pages 200-201

Flash Chicken Sauté with Cider and Almonds and Green Beans with Lemon, Garlic, and Parmigiano Gemolata

The sauce for this chicken was quite tasty. The chicken itself, just pretty good. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the quality of my meat…As in, “Roundy’s Brand” chicken just may not suffice any longer. To test this assumption, I bought non-Roundy’s Brand chicken for Friday’s fondue and Monday’s Chicken Pot Pie. We’ll have to see how that works. As for the green beans, well, they’re not one of my favorites, however, I did eat one and not spit it out. I suppose that’s an improvement. Regardless, Charlie was a fan of both (and not just because he’s my husband. He’d tell me if it were gross…or so he says…).

Flash Chicken Saute with Cider and Almonds
Pages 197-198
Green Beans with Lemon, Garlic, and Parmigiano Gremolata
Pages 270-271
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