Parchment Aplenty

Issue 69 had a feature on using parchment as a cooking method.  It had full meals, main dishes, sides, and even breakfast in a parchment.  So, here we go.

The first recipe I made was for a dinner party with the lovely neighbor.  I made the Chicken with Mango and Ginger.

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Not being a huge fan of spicy foods, I went easy on the jalapeño on my packet.  Somehow it managed to impart a small amount flavor without much heat so it worked well for me.  The ginger infused the chicken breast and the mango kept it nice and juicy.  (Warning: the mango also made the entire packet pretty juicy so be sure to serve it with something that can absorb a lot of liquid — I went with coconut rice.  It was a good decision.)  This was a delicious recipe and I will most likely make it again in the future, especially when I need a tropical escape!  I also think I might start pairing chicken and mango more often, grilled for example, or in a sandwich.  Yeah, it’s a good match.

Next, I made the Eggs with Mushroom and Spinach.

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I’m not going to lie to you.  I didn’t think this one was worth the effort of cutting the parchment (let alone any of the actual packaging of the ingredients into said parchment.  To be fair, I did make this recipe on a day when I had chills and aches set in by mid afternoon (yep, the flu) so I may not have been a totally unbiased opinion on that day.  I definitely didn’t feel any desire to finish eating my packet.  I maybe made it through half.  It was really plain and more or less boring.  And when considering the effort put into fixing it, it just wasn’t worth it.  I think I’d skip the parchment next time and just make a scramble.  So much easier and the separate parts would work a bit better together that way.

Needless to say, after coming down with the flu, I didn’t do much cooking for a while.  I ate soup.  Soup from a can.  Because I didn’t have the energy to eat anything else.  And after the flop that was the eggs with mushrooms and spinach I wasn’t particularly tempted to make another parchment recipe.  But I did.  I made the Potatoes, Leeks and Carrots in Parchment

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It may not look that thrilling, but it tasted pretty decent.  This was another instance where I would normally have just roasted these vegetables together, because vegetables are more delicious when roasted.  But! This is the light issue (hence all the parchment) and by using steam trapped in the parchment to cook these veggies, they stayed pretty flavorful and required much less fat than when roasted.  In fact, the fat was optional in this method of cooking, so it has its perks.

Finally, I made the Broccoli, Asparagus, and Snap Peas in Parchment.  And as a bonus, I also made the Herbed Orzo.

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This is probably the one parchment recipe that I think really benefits from this cooking method.  Each of these vegetables is still super flavorful when steamed and don’t necessarily require anything added to make them awesome.  We liked it so much that we made it two days in a row.  Try it.  Trust me.  

The Herbed Orzo was slightly less exciting, but still an alternative to rice or potatoes so it might be a good thing to add to the mix.  The main issue with this recipe is that I found out after I made it that the bear doesn’t like dill.  And of course, I had decided that the main herb flavor would be dill… I ate a lot of orzo that week.

And now, G will fill you in on the final parchment recipe! Go G!!!

Thanks, B!  I’m winding this one up with the Salmon with Green Beans and Lemon Zest

There's fish under there somewhere...

There’s fish under there somewhere…

This was definitely good and certainly easy enough.  I like cooking things en papillote (that’s French for “No, G, not papillon.  You’re thinking of the dog…or the Steve McQueen movie.”), but I will admit it makes me slightly nervous.  I don’t think I’d be able to make B’s chicken dish without ruining it by busting open the packet and checking it.  But I grew to love the method by making a very similar dish from a Rachael Ray recipe.  She inelegantly calls it Spanish Fish in a Sack.  You’ll see that recipe is much more involved than the one in EF here.  I think this recipe is a good, simple option.  The wide pieces of peel are a nice touch.  But…if I’m bothering to make parchment packets, I’m probably going to go with the Rachael Ray fish sack.  It’s just too good. 

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Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche

December 2011, pg. 45 & 46

Quiche Whole

Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche Recipe

This was a great breakfast-for-dinner recipe! I love breakfast foods and I don’t eat eggs and pancakes enough, so I love the opportunity to have them for dinner.

I made the pie crust using Everyday Food’s November 2008 recipe.
Basic Pie Crust

*I used it for the Maple Nut Tart I baked last month so I knew at least the crust of the quiche would be a success.  I made the crust in the morning and threw it in the refrigerator until it was time to start dinner.

I must admit I eyeballed the broccoli and cheese measurements.  I bet there was a little more of each item than the recipe called for.  But really who can turn their nose up to more broccoli and cheese.  I baked the quiche for 45 minutes and the center appeared to be set, so I took it out and let it cool.

It was a perfect night to eat the quiche for dinner because P was on-call and I wasn’t sure what time he would be getting home but it would most likely be after 8 p.m.  I probably wouldn’t be able to wait and eat with P, since my body starts to shut down if I don’t eat dinner by 7:45.  I would eat the quiche warm and P would just eat the quiche cold (or warm it up in the microwave).  P ended up getting home just as I was finishing my salad, so we were able to eat our main course together.

The cooked quiche looked and smelled amazing before and after we cut it.  The center seemed a little underdone to me, so I cooked my portion in the microwave for 45 seconds. P, took no issues with the doneness and ate it as is.  It was delicious!  The texture of was amazingly smooth and creamy, reminding me of a quiche I had in a nice French restaurant for brunch a few years back.  The broccoli was tender and there weren’t too many onions.  The quiche was a success and I bet the other variations would be just as good!

Quiche Piece

Broccoli and salmon, in that order

Glazed Salmon with Spicy Broccoli

"This is my daughter, Dottie.  This is my other daughter, Dottie's sister."

“This is my daughter, Dottie. This is my other daughter, Dottie’s sister.”

This broccoli will haunt my dreams.  D and I were both very angry that there wasn’t more.  The glaze was nice on the salmon, but the broccoli was the real star of the show.  It’s just soy sauce, vegetable oil, rice vinegar, garlic, and some hot pepper flakes, but the combination is magic.  You’ve never been more excited to eat broccoli, trust me.  Oh, D did bump up the amount of garlic by half.  That couldn’t have hurt.  The best way I can try to explain how this broccoli tastes is that it tastes like really good Chinese food.  It is sweet, sour, and salty, but not greasy.

It’s an easy and quick recipe too.  D felt that the big problem with this recipe was that it calls for cooked brown rice in the ingredients list rather than giving you instructions on when to start the rice, how to cook it, and so on.  I’m of two minds about this one.  On one hand, we don’t need to be told how to cook rice, do we?  On the other hand, Everyday Food recipes are always giving the instructions on how to cook pasta.  Boiling pasta is arguably easier and more intuitive than cooking rice.  It is helpful to know if maybe you should start the rice first or take care of some other prep first.  All this is moot, however, because we used the instant brown rice from Aldi.  No recipe is going to include instructions on how to make instant rice.

Back to the real issue here: why am I not eating that broccoli right now?  This cup of tea, could it be filled with broccoli instead?  I think D and I will keep this recipe in mind, but probably just for the broccoli.

(over)spiced pork chop with couscous

Spiced pork chop with couscous

easy there, hard charger...

easy there, hard charger…

Another meal in the magazine without a recipe online.  You’ll see an abridged version after the jump.  Gee…I wonder why B and G saved these ones for last?  🙂

The most important thing to say is that the spice mixture is nice, but a little much.  It calls for 1 t paprika and 1/2 t cinnamon…on one pork chop.  That’s way too much paprika and cinnamon for one human to eat on pork.  I very much enjoyed it for about 1/2 of the chop before I got tired of it.  I think you can get away with spicing two or more chops with as much as it calls for for one chop. That’s how I rewrote the recipe.  Also, if you’re someone who hates cinnamon on savory foods, cut way back or cut it out.  Somehow, the cinnamon flavor roars through all that paprika, pork, and everything else on the plate.  You’d better love savory cinnamon recipes.

The couscous didn’t get fully cooked, and I should have remembered that from the zucchini fish dish.  I very much loved the golden raisins in there, although I think you could get away with normal raisins.  The lemon zest and juice really pulled it all together.  It’s a great side with a flawed main dish.

I will say that it’s a quick recipe.  Plus, it only messed up two pans and one cutting board.

Continue reading

Snore-tellini

Cheese tortellini with broccoli, tomatoes, and garlic

zzzzzzzzzzzzz

zzzzzzzzzzzzz

This is another “Take Five” recipe and the five are:*

  • 3 T unsalted butter
  • 2 lb broccoli cut into florets
  • 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 lb frozen cheese tortellini
  • 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

Sigh.  Here we have yet one more Everyday Food recipe for pasta with no sauce.  It’s not offensive.  It’s just not terribly interesting.  It’s just cheese tortellini with tomato bits, broccoli, and a little garlic action.  But what it lacks in interest, it makes up for in being super easy to make.  Sauté the garlic and the broccoli in the butter.  Boil the tortellini.  Toss the pasta with the garlic, broccoli, and tomatoes.  Something about reserved pasta water (over it).

*All recipe information adapted from Everyday Food issue #47 p. 140 November 2007 (not that you couldn’t have figured out how to make this from the picture.  I mean, really)

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Beef and scallion “rolls

Sauteed bok choy and broccoli

Unrolled and unconcerned

Unrolled and unconcerned

Slice a pound of beef tenderloin or sirloin into 8 slices.  Place each slice between pieces of plastic wrap, being careful not to let the plastic wrap do the thing that it ALWAYS does where it sticks to itself, pound lightly until 1/8 inch thick.  Place delicate, little slices of bell pepper and green onion on to the slices, roll them tightly and secure with a toothpick.  Brown them on the stove.  Still with me?  I’m not.  I didn’t do any of this.  I took that beef, the bell pepper, and the green onion, chopped it into pieces and stir fried it in a non-stick skillet.  Then I added the soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar, made an awesome sauce and tossed it all together.  You know what?  It was good enough for me.

The bok choy and broccoli was probably a bigger hassle than the beef just because of all the prep it takes to cut up those vegetables.  I also overcrowded the pot and wound up jamming things down in there haphazardly.  It has a wonderful flavor and goes perfectly with the beef and scallion stir fry.

French cut green beans with dill butter

Know why most of the entree is gone?  Because we got tired of waiting for the beans to be done.

Know why most of the entree is gone? Because we got tired of waiting for the beans to be done.

What’s French for tedious?  Apparently, “fastidieux.”  Haricots vert et fastidieux.  That’s what these are.  Listen to these instructions and you’ll wish you were pounding little pieces of beef to 1/8 inch thick.

  1. Trim both ends of beans with a paring knife or snap off
  2. Cut beans in half into approximately equal-size pieces (really?)
  3. With a paring knife, carefully split each bean in half lengthwise
  4. Ask yourself why you ever decided to start this blog in the first place

The last step might not have been strictly necessary.  Yeah, they were tasty.  Yeah, they have a nicer texture than cooked green beans normally do.  Yeah, the dill and the butter are great additions.  It’s just…well…as a wise woman once said…

Un-split shift and the best “fried” shrimp ever

“Split Shift”: recipes that were supposed to be made part in the morning and part in the evening…

  • Steak with peanut sauce and broccoli
  • Crispy shrimp with tartar sauce and red-cabbage slaw
  • Black-bean tostadas with corn relish

Steak with peanut sauce and broccoli

Steak with peanut sauce and broccoli

Steak? Money’s too tight for steak. Steak?

Ok, this one I actually did part the day before and part the evening of.  The trouble with these “split shift” recipes is that they assume you have more time in the morning than in the evening.  I’m not sure for whom this is true.  People who work the late shift or odd hours, I guess. People without children.  People with excellent time-management skills.  None of these things describe me.  I do think they could be split over a couple days.  This recipe, for example, is a good one to split over a couple days.  I marinated the steak and prepped the broccoli on day one, then broiled the steak and steamed the broccoli on day two.  The recipe only takes 30 minutes…total.  So that’s an easy maybe 15-20 minutes one evening then finish it up the next.  Not bad.

How does it taste?  Do you like peanut sauce?  Me too!!!  The one thing I will say is that flank steak can be a little tough.  This was no exception.  A nicer cut of steak would have made this less of a chore to cut and eat.

Ah, but I came up with an awesome thing to do with the leftovers.

cut up steak with broccoli and peanut sauce in small tortillas

This must be blurred because I was too excited to eat it.

I also had small tortillas on hand for the tostadas, so I heated up the steak and broccoli, piled it into tortillas, drizzled it with a little leftover sauce, and had asian steak tacos.  These were so good.  Plus, once you’re eating it with your hands and teeth, the difficulty cutting it with a knife isn’t an issue any more.

Crispy shrimp with tartar sauce and red-cabbage slaw

shrimp, lemon wedges, red cabbage slaw, tartar sauce and a beer

Is your mouth watering? Mine is.

Get ready to hear me gush.  D and I keep an index card of all of our favorite Everyday Food recipes.  It acts as a sort of index, but not every recipe makes it on there.  Only the best.  Let me put it this way: There are 98 issues, and we have maybe 20 recipes on that index card.  This recipe is index card worthy.

What makes it so special is the breading on those shrimp.  I’m the first one to be suspicious of the idea that baked things can taste just like something that’s fried.  I’m not going to go quite that far.  However, this is as close as you can get to crispy fried shrimp without busting out the oil.  I’ll stand by that.  The slaw is also lovely.  It’s just Dijon mustard, oil, and lemon juice with the red onion and cabbage.  That would be good on its own.  You could bring that to a picnic and feel like a hero.  The tartar sauce is nice.  It reminds me of the ersatz tartar sauce we used to make when I was a kid to go with fish sticks, mayonnaise and pickle relish.  This is obviously classier: chopped pickles, fresh parsley, fresh lemon juice…  The shrimp is the real star.  It’s even worth buying panko crumbs for even though you KNOW you’re never going to use that stuff again until it gets stale.

I didn’t make this 1/2 in the morning, 1/2 in the evening or over two days or anything.  It doesn’t take too long to do in one evening.

Black bean tostadas with corn relish

Topped with the corn and avocado

Topped with the corn and avocado

I can sum this one up quite quickly: lots of work for little reward.  I did this one all in one night also.  Taking care of the corn relish, veggie prep, and cheese ahead of time would have saved some effort.  I’ll grant them that.

tortilla, beans, cheese (waiting on vegetables)

tortilla, beans, cheese (waiting on vegetables)

This just isn’t a very special recipe.  It reminds me of the Jim Gaffigan routine about working at a Mexican restaurant in Iowa.  “What’s a tostada?”  “Tortilla, meat, cheese, vegetables?”  “What are tacos?” “Tortilla, meat, cheese, vegetables”  Change that to tortilla, beans, cheese, vegetables, and that’s what we have here.  It’s just nothing to write home about.

A Note on Baby Broccoli

When I saw the recipe for Lemony Baby Broccoli I was pretty excited! I serve broccoli with lemon often and I was looking forward to kicking that up a notch with this recipe.  Garlic only makes things better right?!

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And yes, it was good.  Very good. But I don’t think it gained anything from the fact that it was baby broccoli. And it actually only increased my expectations because that darn baby broccoli was $3 for a tiny little bunch! I could have bought a lovely head of standard broccoli for less than that and had basically the same outcome.

I think I probably will make this again but I won’t go to the trouble of finding the baby broccoli, the standard stuff will do just fine! 

 

The rare Everyday Food bust

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Issue number 45 September 2007 p. 78 (no link found online)

It even looks like a crime scene

It even looks like a crime scene

prep time: around 20 minutes, depending on how quickly you can chop broccoli; total time: 40 minutes

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 of a big, white onion or one medium onion, diced
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • about 30 ounces of homemade veggie stock (the recipe says to use reduced sodium chicken broth, more on that later)
  • 1 large head broccoli (about 3 pounds) with the leaves yanked off. cut into florets with the stalks coarsely chopped.
  • 1 medium baking potato, peeled and diced small
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1/4 c fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons…LOTS more on that later)
  1. Saute the onions in the oil over medium until soft, roughly 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Add broth, broccoli, potato, and 2 cups water.  Season with salt again.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until broccoli and potato are tender, about 4 minutes.
  2. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender and return to pot.  Remember not to overfill the blender jar, and do the towel over the blender lid opening trick to keep the hot soup from exploding all over.  Stir in cream and lemon juice, season again.
  3. (I never got to the freezer part of these directions.  Suffice it to say you let the soup cool, put it in freezer-safe containers with room to expand and freeze for up to three months.)

-adapted from Everyday Food Issue number 45 (September 2007) p. 77-78

Have you ever been relieved to throw food out?  I hate to waste, so I rarely throw things away unless they’ve gone bad.  This soup was an exception.

Let me begin by saying everything that was right about this recipe.  It’s a “Freeze It” recipe.  I love those recipes.  Of all of my EF go-to recipes, most of them are Freeze It’s.  I like having some buffer in my meal planning, so I don’t have to pick from three choices: cook, order in, or heat up a frozen pizza.  The beauty of a Freeze It is that it’s as good and wholesome as cooking, but as fast as heating the frozen pizza.  So this recipe had that going for it.  Also, it’s cream of broccoli soup.  When has that ever not been good?  Not that I can remember.  I was somewhat suspicious because this is not cheese and broccoli soup.  Obviously, cheese improves all soups by a power of…let’s say five to be on the conservative side.  Well, as long as we’re playing the hindsight game, the recipe also had a note saying “Just a small amount of potato and a whir in the blender make soups smooth and rich-tasting, so you can get away with using less cream.”  Potato + air = cream.  Interesting….

So it should have been a creamy, yummy, freezer-friendly recipe.  What it turned out as was an oddly sour and thin soup that was thrown away soon after eating.  The pieces of bread you see on top of the soup were my own addition.  I figured if cheese would have made the soup better, then I could add cheese to the top.  Plus, cheese toasts would give us something to dunk.  And I like bread with soup.  The cheese toasts were the best part of the meal.  I toasted pieces of wheat bread, threw some grated Swiss cheese on top, and put them under the broiler for a couple minutes until they were melted.  The toaster and the broiler?  Yeah.  I don’t trust my broiler not to burn things, so I try to use it as little as possible.  If I had a toaster oven, I would have used that.

Back to the icky soup.  Where did it go wrong?

Some theories:  Theory 1: I used homemade veggie stock and it was too rich or intensely flavored for the soup.  The stock itself was very robust and flavorful.  If you’re at all curious, here’s a good post on how to do it.  I got the recipe from this amazing book, The Urban Homestead.  It’s also where we got the homemade yogurt recipe.  You know how usually veggie stock doesn’t taste like much of anything?  This tasted like earth and roasted veggies and strong coffee and going to see a man about a horse.  I think it’s possible that my brawny stock was too much for cream of broccoli.  The recipe might have just needed a base slightly more flavorful than water.  If I ever try and cross this bridge again, I think I would try store-bought veggie stock or, better yet, use the chicken broth the recipe actually calls for.  Chicken broth would give it saltiness and richness without overpowering the rest of the soup.  I have to disagree with the reduced-sodium idea, though.  This recipe needs salt badly.

Theory 2: There is too much lemon juice in this recipe.  The recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of lemon juice.  Before the lemon juice went it, this was a lackluster soup with an off-putting earthiness that probably needed a ton more salt (and some cheese).  After the lemon juice?  Shudder.  It tasted like sour broccoli blended with milk and heated up, which, come to think of it, was pretty much true.  A quick squeeze of lemon juice might have brightened this dish up a little, but 1/4 cup was far too much.

All that wasn’t enough to make me throw it out.  I threw it out because we forgot about it after dinner and left it on the stovetop over night.  I’m kind of a food safety nut (a food safety nut who eats cookie dough, so that’s the glass house from which I throw all of my rocks).  I didn’t think it was safe to eat a cream soup that sat out for 12 hours.  Boo hoo.  Off to the trash, sour soup!

It was the rare Everyday Food bust.