Anything that needs that much milk and butter might not be good

Shredded beef chuck roast

Celery root and potato puree

Those are whole cloves of garlic.  Remember when restaurants used to have roasted garlic as an appetizer?  I miss that.

Those are whole cloves of garlic. Remember when restaurants used to have roasted garlic as an appetizer? I miss that.

The beef is unremarkable.  It’s pot roast.  Sure, the rosemary and oregano made it smell nicer and taste a little herbier, but it’s still just pot roast except without the potatoes and carrots and such.  It could have used those, especially after the triumph that was panic carrots.  In the beef’s defense, this would have been better if I would have served it like they do in the picture in the magazine and online: on rolls with red onion and horseradish-mayo (aka horsey sauce).  I served it on the celery root puree instead.

About that puree…At first it seemed like normal mashed potatoes, but there was a little something extra there.  It was something kind of bitter and earthy, but subtly so.  It was something that definitely tasted like celery.  I enjoyed it.  It also had whole milk and butter in it, a cup and 6 tablespoons respectively.  That can’t hurt.  Well, it can hurt later on when you look at the recipe again and then remember how much of it you ate.  That can hurt.  In fact, it makes me think that celery root is super duper bitter.  Everyday Food doesn’t normally go quite that heavy on butter and milk, even for a holiday recipe.  I think it’s worth giving a try if you’re tired of plain mashed potatoes or if you don’t think you’re getting enough whole milk and butter in your diet.

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Hearty wintertime quiche

Sausage and Potato Quiche

something light to go with our two kinds of cookies, two kinds of cocktails, and wings

something light to go with our two kinds of cookies, two kinds of cocktails, and wings

Ok, I’ve already ranted about recipes that tell you to buy a store bought crust and how they should include a crust recipe instead.  Or maybe just tell you where there’s a good one in another issue or on Martha Stewart’s website or a Martha Stewart cookbook.  This is a missed marketing opportunity, really.  Ok, I said I wouldn’t rant and here I am.  Pie crust is easy to make.  I used a recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook.  This one wasn’t all that tasty, but I think it’s because the shortening was too old.  As in over a year old. And kinda grey.  Yeesh.  Perhaps one should find a recipe that calls for butter when one has nothing but ancient shortening…  Also, this has you blind bake the crust.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that for quiche before.  I think the filling and the crust are usually baked together.  The bottom crust definitely gets soggy, but I’ve always thought of that as being part of the deal with quiche.  Also also…I didn’t put down pie weights.  Long story short, there’s a great deal of operator error to factor in here.  Zero fault goes to my lovely assistant who rolled out the crust and put it in the pan.  He did a wonderful job.  😉

As for the filling, I had the same problem B did.  There was too much filling for the size of pan.  It was a bit of a mess.  We steamed the potato chunks in a steamer basket for 11 minutes or so to get them soft enough.  I thought that was faster than boiling a whole pot of water just for a few potato chunks.  Oh, and I used mild Italian sausage instead of spicy because that’s what I had.  I think it was good.

We made this for friends of ours who helped us make two cookies for the blog, two cocktails, and some wings.  It was an incredibly messy and fun afternoon.  That’s the best kind of holiday afternoon, I say.

Slice potato, burn potato

Apricot-Stuffed Pork with Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

all's well...

all’s well…

This is an interesting recipe.  I’ll start with the pork.  The stuffing itself was easy to make.  I used red onion instead of shallot.  I know B is a huge shallot fan, but I’m not sure I’ve bought more than maybe three shallots in my life.  They don’t carry them very regularly at my grocery store (the one besides Aldi…).  Plus, for a cooked recipe like this, the red onion does a really good shallot impression.  The directions say to cut a slit in the pork loin almost all the way through.  Well, if you cut all the way through the loin on accident like I did, you can adjust and make a shorter, shallower cut right next to the mistake cut and use that newly cut piece to cover the gap.  It seemed worthwhile because I thought the sticky apricot jam would ooze out and burn.

It doesn't hold together very well

It doesn’t hold together very well

Speaking of burning…  The potatoes definitely burned.  You cook them for a while on the sheet with the brussels sprouts before you nestle the pork loin on there.  Trouble is, when I opened the oven to add the pork loin, I’d say those potatoes and sprouts were done.  Gulp.  I soldiered forth and cooked them some more with the pork loin, but I stirred them around a little to try and avoid burning.  As luck would have it, the pork loin needed more time to cook fully than what the recipe said.  By the time it was done, the brussels sprouts were really, really roasted and just on the edge of burning and about 60% of the potatoes were burned to the pan.  Here’s my question: why not chunks instead of thin slices?  What a mess.  If I made this again, I would either skip the potatoes or cut them into chunks and do the preroasting for 1/2 the amount of time before adding the pork loin to the pan.

We lost a lot of good potatoes in this battle

We lost a lot of good potatoes in this battle

On a more positive note, I ground up the pork and stuffing in the food processor and gave it to J with a little applesauce to moisten it and it was his favorite meal of the week!  I tried a bite and yeah, I would eat that!

So many sides!

The October 2003 issue has so many incredible sides.  This is a summary of the ones I enjoyed the most.

I love mushrooms!

I love mushrooms!

The first I want to discuss is this mushroom ragout.  I cannot even begin to describe how delicious this was!  The shallots and thyme are perfect in it.  When making the recipe I did run into one slight mishap… I had bought all the ingredients but failed to notice that it called for a dry red or white wine.  I was fresh out.  What I did have was dry vermouth!  G and I were both unsure about the substitution until I found this extremely helpful discussion on the subject by Smitten Kitchen (she’s so good!).   The vermouth tasted so incredible that I don’t think I’ll even bother with wine the next time I make this and yes, I will be making this again.

Next, I want to tell you about the beauty of braised leeks.

Can you see how silky and luscious that sauce is?

Can you see how silky and luscious that sauce is?

I love leeks, but I have never braised them.  They are incredible as the base of a chicken (along with some carrots) and they are awesome in a Vichyssoise soup (potato leek soup for those of you without the Joy of Cooking).  This dish almost combined the two flavors.  You use chicken stock as the braising liquid so it reduces and gets super flavorful.  You add butter at the end so it brings in the richness of the Vichyssoise.  I was literally ready to lick my plate the sauce was so delicious!

Luckily, I served the braised leeks with twice-baked potatoes, so I just used the starchy goodness of my potato to soak it up instead.

A plate full of happy!

A plate full of happy!

It was my first time making twice-baked potatoes so I wouldn’t say the outcome was perfect.  They were a little lumpy and not fluffy and light like the ones I’ve eaten before.  I think I should have used a mixer to do the mashing instead of a potato masher to get the perfect texture.  The flavor, however, was without fault.  Yum!

And finally, that brings me to roasted pears and sweet potatoes.

Going in for the close up!

Going in for the close up!

I cannot say enough good things about the spice mixture on these.  First of all, it’s super simple.  Just ground mustard, ginger, and cayenne.  But it works so wonderfully together and really complements the sweetness of the potatoes and the pears.  This makes a pretty big batch, but we finished the entire thing that night.  We couldn’t keep our hands off it.  If we hadn’t been using forks, I would say it was finger lickin’ good.  Well done, EF!  Well done!

Clean it out and cook it up

Big-batch vegetable soup

D ran a marathon.  Go D!  :)

D ran a marathon. Go D! 🙂

This recipe is spectacular for a few reasons.  It’s a freeze it, so right away you know I’m excited.  It’s soup.  Soup’s a good thing (cite: David Sedaris…does WordPress do footnotes?  What’s the HTML tag for footnotes?  Please don’t tell me).  Here’s why this recipe is great, and it’s not something that jumped right out at me.  Take a look at the last ingredient:

8 cups mixed fresh or frozen vegetables, such as carrots, corn, green beans, lima beans, peas, potatoes, and zucchini

8 cups of whatevs.  How great is that?  Random half bags of frozen veggies in the freezer staring you in the face?  Toss em in!  Recipe last night only used one of two potatoes now you’re stuck with one potato?  Toss it in!  I had leftover calabcita from September’s squash substitutions.  I had a bunch of lima beans from making a succotash for J.  I had a ton of frozen corn because Everyday Food recipes use a surprising amount of corn.  It all went in there.  I think I actually used 6 or 7 different vegetables.  I think this makes this a great recipe for times when your freezer or fridge has an odd glut of vegetables.  Or for when lots of things look good at a farmers’ market and you can’t think of what else to do with it.  No matter the reason, this is a tasty soup.  I look forward to having it some night when I’m too lazy to cook and too guilty/cheap to order in.

Fennel! Fennel! Fennel! Fennel! (And an Acorn Squash and some salmon)

In case that title wasn’t clear, this post is about fennel.  Fennel in four different recipes to be exact.  G and I split the load again, so I’m going to start off by talking about roasted fennel and the acorn squash recipe that I served it with.

One of these days I will get some better lighting...

One of these days I will get some better lighting…

So the acorn squash is actually very similar to the way I grew up eating it.  My mom used to make baked acorn squash all winter long, except she would serve it with honey and a little butter.  Aside from the honey, the process is the same.  I found the molasses flavor of the brown sugar to be really pleasant with the acorn squash so I will probably be using it again sometime.  (Did I mention that I have a half bushel of acorn squash waiting in my pantry?)

I have also made roasted fennel before, but I usually serve it with fish.  This time I served it with a pork loin I made using a maple mustard glaze.  The fennel was a delicious complement to the pork flavor.  I’ll definitely be combining them again.

Next I made a Fennel and Potato Bake.

Still bubbling!!!

Still bubbling!!!

I have to say here, the recipe requires you to thinly slice two fennel bulbs.  If you have one, I would recommend using a mandoline for this.  Slicing with a knife is a bit rough because the fennel keeps falling apart and it is really difficult to get even slices.

The recipe itself is pretty simple, though it requires a decent amount of prep time if you are doing all the slicing with a knife (seriously folks, use a mandoline).  You just sprinkle some asiago, salt and pepper between layers of fennel and potato then pour a little cream over the top.

The outcome is awesome.  The texture is super satisfying and the flavor is amazing! As soon as I get a mandoline, I’m making this again!

Passing the torch to G!

Thanks, B!  First, of all, fear the mandoline.  I once came home from school to find nothing but a mandoline, some carrots, a lot of blood, and no mom.  This is back before cell phones.  She had cut off the tip of her thumb using a mandoline.  She was fine.  It was just a slice of skin, and it grew back.  How’s that for a good story for a cooking blog?  Anyway, it scared me off of mandolines for life.  I use a knife or the slicing blade on a food processor.  Mandolins on the other hand, are a lovely instrument.  😉

I made the linguine with fennel and tuna and the Fennel, orange, and parsley salad.  I served the fennel and orange salad as a side with the Salmon “steaks” with hoisin glaze, so I’ll talk about that too.  And you’ll find out why “steaks” is in quotes.

Linguine with fennel and tuna

It's difficult to photograph this many shades of off-white and biege in one picture...

It’s difficult to photograph this many shades of off-white and biege in one picture…

I adjusted this recipe by using thin whole wheat spaghetti instead of linguine.  Other than that, I followed the recipe as written.  It winds up being nice.  I don’t believe I’d ever had cooked fennel before.  It takes on a more subtle and nutty flavor than the sharp anise flavor you get with fresh fennel.  The capers added a nice briny bite.  The tuna grounded the whole dish and gave it some richness.  I like that even the bites that didn’t have a little of everything still tasted like something.  Too often with these Everyday Food pasta recipes, you get a mouthful of plain noodles and wonder why you bothered.  I’ll get to the whole wheat pasta with kale and fontina later…  The biggest problem with this recipe is how unappetizing it looks.  Aside from the green fennel fronds, it’s all kind of beige.  Ick.

Fennel, orange, and parsley salad

Salmon “steaks” with hoisin glaze

Salmon and fennel, new best friends

Salmon and fennel, new best friends

There’s also a video of this recipe online.  It looks like it’s from the old PBS show.  I miss that show.  The video teaches you how to segment an orange.  She (Allie?) points out that you can use the stalks to make stock.  That’s a good tip.  Mostly the video just serves to make me nostalgic for the PBS show and wish I had a knife sharp enough to segment an orange that quickly and cleanly.

The fennel salad is very nice and bright.  The recipe called for black olives, which I found confusing.  When I think “black olives” I still think of the dopey little olives you get on a pizza.  Taking a look at the picture in the magazine, it was clear that these were no pizza olives.  But what were they?  D wound up buying something at the store from the olive bar.  They were terribly salty.  The video says to use Kalamata olives, which makes perfect sense.  So why don’t you say that, Everyday Food?!?!  This recipe also represents the last gasp of the parsley from our garden.  Sunrise, sun barely shine on garden resulting in stilted growth and wan looking plants with no fruit on them, sun set.

As for the salmon, I really wish I would have bought salmon steaks.  That’s what the recipe actually calls for.  We had a giant side of salmon instead.  It was fine salmon, it’s just that when you broil a piece of fish that’s not uniform thickness, you wind up with an overcooked end and an undercooked end.  The glaze is awesome.  Why am I not putting hoisin sauce and orange juice on more things?  That could have been the dressing for the salad…  Of course, now that I have the 1/2 a jar of hoisin sauce, I’m facing the dreaded condiment glut in the fridge.  If I cook my leftover rice noodles, can I put hoisin sauce on them and kill two orphan ingredients with one stone?

It’s a potato

Baked Potato Bar

G here, kicking off the potato post.  The post-tato!

Peer and Pedro Potato or Sven and Salvador Spud

Peer and Pedro Potato or Sven and Salvador Spud

I took the Scandinavian toppings and the Tex Mex toppings.  The Scandinavian one had smoked salmon, sour cream, and chopped green onion.  It was great.  Smoked salmon is delicious and sour cream is a natural choice for a baked potato.  The Tex Mex one has black beans (which are dry), goat cheese (which is pretty dry), and salsa.  The salsa isn’t juicy enough to make up for the rest of it.  It was quite dry.  I wound up scraping all of the stuff off of it, adding butter and sour cream, and adding the toppings back.  There’s really not much to report here.  If I was going to have smoked salmon, I’d want it on a bagel.

G out.

B here.

I don’t have fancy names for my spuds, but if I did, this one would be Giovanni.

Not my best photo here...

Not my best photo here…

This one consisted of ricotta, spinach and pepperoni.  Instead of using frozen spinach as called for, I sautéed up some fresh baby spinach with garlic, because obviously any kind of spud that can call itself Italian needs some garlic.  I also chose to mix my spinach in with my ricotta like you would for a lasagna filling.  And I used turkey pepperoni, which may have been a mistake.  It was fine really, but I think it would have been tastier with the real thing.  I also think a small amount of marinara would have gone a long way here.  Like G’s Mexican potato, it was a bit dry.  Overall, the flavor was pretty enjoyable, but maybe not to the point I would think to make it again.

And what the heck, I may as well follow through with this naming thing to the end of the post. So here is Jake Spud, the All-American Quarterback potato.

IMG_0690

This one was really classic!  Melted cheddar, peas and cubes of a really delicious ham I had made earlier in the week.  This is the one that reminded me of dinner as a kid.  The melted cheese sort of helped keep the peas in place, but not enough so you didn’t still have to chase a few around the plate.  The obvious solution: MORE CHEESE! I think I am far more likely to make this one again  than the Italian one.  I could see it being a really satisfying dinner on a night when the Bear I live with is at a work function (this happens a lot).