Cooking Notes – August 2010

Continuing on the monthly cooking notes I started in July, here’s the August list. As before, newer meals go at the top of the list.

Baking/Desserts

  • Chocolate Chip cookies – I just use the recipe on the Nestle chocolate chips bags. Sent half a dozen home with our dinner guest, but there are plenty of leftovers.
  • Apple-Almond Tart – this is a traditional French pastry and Carl’s favorite dessert. Fairly easy to make, actually, with apples over homemade almond paste in a sweet pastry crust. 
  • Raspberry-Almond Tart – my basic crust recipe makes two, so why not a second tart? Besides which, almond extract is one of the nicest smells on this green earth.
  • Chocolate cake with chocolate sour cream frosting – The cake was from a mix, the frosting was from Joy of Cooking when I realized the ingredients for butter-cream frosting weren’t in the house (and neither was the motivation). Easiest frosting ever – 10 oz. chocolate melted, then mixed quickly with a cup of sour cream and slapped on. Bittersweet and very rich. 

Main Dishes

  • Baked Sausage n’ Apples – Hmm. Julia Childs seems to have gone by the wayside this month. Dinner is the first place to suffer in the push to finish home improvement projects before work starts. This is a nice recipe though, one my Mom always made for winter breakfasts. Take a roll of sausage (not links please). Slice into patties and brown on both sides. Slice and core 3 – 4 apples. Cut browned patties in half. Toss with sliced apples and roughly 2 Tbsp. brown sugar (or to taste). Bake, covered lightly with aluminum foil, approximately 30 minutes at 350 until apples are tender.
  • Tuscan white bean, salami, and red onion salad – from an Italian cookbook at the library. White (or kidney) beans soaked, boiled with lots of sage and garlic, drained, tossed with more garlic, red wine vinegar, and seasonings, cooled, and then tossed with slivered red onions, salami, and olive oil. Very flavorful, and a good dish to make ahead.
  • Spinach Lasagna – One of Carl’s favorites from Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Get Real Meals. A safe fall-back option since we had a guest for dinner. Seems like it’s an unintentional 30 Minute Meals month.
  • Roast chicken – Hijacked from a Mastering the Art of French Cooking recipe. Didn’t have time to make the stuffing, but followed portions of the recipe like basting the chicken with heavy cream toward the end of the roasting time and using the collected cream and fat drippings to make the sauce.
  • Chicken nuggets – Not very fancy, but these were my favorite food when I was little (oh the agony when a brother got to the leftovers first!) and the first dinner I ever cooked completely independently. They’re a good fallback when I don’t have many ingredients around. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a pan on medium high heat, cut boneless-skinless chicken breasts into one inch chunks, roll in a flour-garlic powder-salt-pepper-paprika mixture, place in the oil, turn to cook both sides. The nuggests are done when browned and cooked through. You can serve with barbecue sauce, but we’ve always made two dipping sauces instead: cumin mixed with (real) mayo in one bowl, curry powder mixed with mayo in another. Served with pasta and sliced tomatoes with mozzarella.
  • Beef Salad – When the Man is on call at the hospital it’s impossible to time dinner around here. That combined with my crazy work schedule in the past has resulted in lots of “fast but tasty” recipes. Didn’t used to be that way. There was a stretch when we were dating and both working brutal hours where we had to resort to eggs and bacon more times than I can remember. I considered the fact that it was an actual hot meal pretty good after I’d stumbled down the hill in a bleary-eyed fog to meet Carl at his place for dinner. This was just leftover seasoned beef from the Korean dish below, cut up with lettuce and cucumbers and tossed with Italian dressing. Flavorful, protein, won’t burn on the stove if the ICU gets slammed. Beef is a bit of a treat around here – I love it, but try to limit our red meat intake for health. That and it’s so darn expensive.
  • Honey Buffalo Wings – a recipe from Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Get Real Meals. I’ve never watched her show but actually love this cookbook – every single dish I’ve made out of it has been a hit. Carl loved this one. I wasn’t a huge fan, but only because I don’t like my non-dessert foods to be sweet. As the “Honey” in the name implies, this has a bit of sweet to counteract the spicy, exactly the type of food Carl loves.   
  • Korean Beef – also from 30 Minute Meals. A tasty marinade, but next time I’ll leave it overnight rather than just ten minutes. The cabbage/sauerkraut (fake kimchi) base was surprisingly tasty. Of course, I accidentally undercooked the beef due to the thickness of the steak and later had to give the thin slices a quick extra fry. Lessons learned.
  • Piggy Pudding – from the Paula Deen cookbook I borrowed from the library a couple of weeks ago. This is a simple meal (browned sausage, chopped apples, baked in cornbread) but not impressive. There are so many delicious easy meals, there’s no point in making something that tastes just mediocre. 
  • Farmer’s Bruschetta – Now these were good. Very, very good.  I got the idea from an Italian cookbook from the library. I’m used to the kind of bruschetta where you chop tomatoes, basil, and seasonings and load the spread on toasted bread. These were closer to a normal sandwich, and easy to eat because of it. Slice good bread, toast on both sides in olive oil until brown and crisping. Rub the bread with a sliced clove of garlic. Top each piece of bread with thin-sliced red onions and tomatoes, shredded basil, a scant few strips of salami, and fresh mozzarella. Serve and let diners drizzle with olive oil to taste. Fresh, flavorful, and easy.
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