two! two! two weeks in one!

I'm still working on the Morocco 2009 wrap-up, but in the meantime, here are some food thoughts from the past two weeks.

Sunday (Feb 8): Arrived home from Morocco! After a week of tagines and cous cous and meat, meat, meat, all I really want for lunch is plain pasta with butter. For dinner, we made some indian food: tofu, red lentils, and spicy broccoli rabe. Vegetables taste good.

Monday: Duck breast with red wine sauce, served with rice and more broccoli rabe. We made it a lot like this, but not quite as fast:

Or, take a look at the actual recipe (which we didn't use at all) and a higher-quality video. For the duck that we get here, we find that putting it in the oven makes it too overdone, so we just finish it in the cast iron pan and let it rest.

Tuesday: Pasta with saucisson (AKA cured sausage), tomatoes, onions, pecorino romano, red wine.

Wednesday: Chicken leek barley soup. There's no chicken-broth-in-can here, so we make our own, usually on weekends. After dinner, chocolate cake sounded like a really good idea.

Chocolate cake:

Combine the following dry ingredients:
1 c sugar
1 c flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients:
1/2 c milk
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, stir in 1/2 cup boiling water. Put batter into, for example, a 9" round cake pan. I used a non-stick one, so I didn't bother to grease/flour it. Bake about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

When I made this, I didn't have a lot of the ingredients, so I substituted whatever sounded good. It may seem like a bad idea to mess with recipes when baking, but I just tossed in some (unmeasured) melted chocolate for missing cocoa powder, crème fraîche and water for milk, less oil, and I rounded all the dry ingredients to those shown above (the recipe called for 7/8 cup of flour or something silly). The resulting cake was tasty and moist, and probably un-reproducible.

Thursday: at Chez Swedes, we cooked for our skiing-accident-incapacitated friend. We made veggie moroccan tagine (recipe) with chickpeas and sweet potatoes and other good things.

Friday: C$ and Jimmy D came over for some mushroom risotto with lots of pecorino romano and 3 mushrooms: Dried cèpes/porcini (courtesy of C$), fresh pleurotes/oyster mushrooms, and fresh cremini. Also salad, and many cheeses for dessert! If you want to hone your risotto-making skills, I highly recommend the chapter in the Zingerman's Guide to Good Eating which explains how fast and easy it can be. Here are the three kinds of mushrooms taken from people's flickr streams:

Pleurotus ostreatus / Pleurote en forme d'huître
Originally uploaded by Jules***

The porcini mushrooms
Originally uploaded by jmvnoos in Paris

Originally uploaded by e.sarah.c

Saturday: Fish & chips, using up the last of the french fries in our freezer. We got a good haul of free food before Christmas from people moving or leaving for extended holidays, and a big bag of french fries was leftover from that. Big salad of many vegetables.

Sunday: For lunch, I made salsa and we had polenta with fried eggs and spicy tomato salsa. One of my favorites -- this reminds me of brunch in Chicago at Flo.

Also made rice pudding, based on this rice pudding recipe from epicurious. 

New Master Rice Pudding Recipe:

- mix 1 rice : 1 sugar : 8 milk : little butter, little salt, little vanilla
- cook on low, with no lid, for an hour or two - watch that it doesn't boil!
- mix in one beaten egg after you take it off the heat (optional)

I usually make: 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 cup sugar, 4 cups milk, 1 Tbsp butter, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp vanilla for four servings

Dinner on Sunday: Stir fry with tofu, sesame seeds, black bean paste, broccoli, red peppers, cilantro.

Monday: Indian food -- yellow lentils Naveen-style, tiny green eggplants sauteed with ginger, spicy okra & rice. Made lots of leftovers for lunches.

Tuesday: Pasta with egg and cheese (something like this) and salad. 

Wednesday: Indian leftovers, now with sauteed spinach instead of okra.

Thursday: Duck confit, bulghur wheat side dish*, and salad. (Lots of salad this week...) We brought some duck confit home with us for Christmas because we like it so much. It's just duck, in a can, ready to eat. The pieces of duck are still whole, so it's not exactly like spam, but it's just about as easy. We usually pull the pieces out of the can and broil them for a few minutes before serving. Gourmet magazine had a Paris issue that I saw last year in an airport, and it had a lot of recipes to use the already-made duck confit that I keep meaning to try. They include one for a white bean soup with Armagnac and the pieces of duck in it, one for asian-style noodles with duck, and another for a salad with oranges.

Friday: Over at D+KW's we had pizza from a place in our little village. They had cooked some other food, but then their power went out! That's another story. One of the pizzas had a very creamy goat cheese on it. It was super-French tasting -- pizza with goat cheese!? -- and totally delicious.

Saturday: Fish from the market: "bar de ligne," broccoli, and the rice dish made by our power-less friends from the night before. "Bar de ligne" -- I think -- is a fish called "bar" (AKA "European Seabass" or "branzino") that is line-caught ("de ligne"). We usually pick the fish that looks the best at the market and then figure out what the heck it is when we get home. 

We cooked the fish wrapped in parchment paper so that it steams well. It looked kind of like the branzino in this post, but instead of Thai spices and shallots, we put fennel, onions, parsley, lemon, olive oil, and white wine with our whole fish. One thing that definitely worked was that spoons mixed all this good stuff in a bowl together and tasted it before the fish was even out of the fridge. In the past, I've salted the fish, then put lemon on and olive oil, then tried to add other spices, but by putting all the ingredients in the bowl besides the fish, we could really make sure the flavor was good before it was applied to the fish. After it was cooked, we fileted it and served it with some of the vegetable mixture. Our friend Liz laughed: "It looks like grown-up food!" and said she never cooks fish. We assured her that you can just buy a filet and cook it in a pan... no need to get parchment paper involved unless you feel like it. :)

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week in food: end of Jan

I just got back from a week in Morocco! I was there for work, and I wrote a bit more about it on the US LHC blog, so you can read about it there. I'll post some pictures soon.

Before I talk about all the tasty things I had in Morocco (cous cous, tagines, cous cous, and tagines) I wanted to wrap up the week before I left.

Sunday: Picked spoons up at the airport very early, so we had a breakfast of toast and jam and things, then a brunch later in the day. I'd picked up some smoked salmon at our little local store, so we ate it with eggs and creme fraiche and capers, good toast and potatoes. Salmon breakfast always makes me think of Chloe's in San Francisco, where they had an awesome scrambled eggs with chunks of salmon in the eggs, chunks of potatoes, and chunks of cream cheese! The cheese melted as you were eating it, and it was tasty. I can't remember what we had for dinner that night... leftovers?

Monday: We went to watch Battlestar Galactica at a friend's place, so we had a quick dinner after work of leftover potatoes, rotisserie chicken from the market, and sauteed cabbage with whole cumin and mustard seeds and other good spices.

Tuesday: Dinner was orange-colored indian food: ginger carrots, spicy red lentils, tasty basmati rice.

Wednesday: Our friend HH arrives! We had a bunch of good red wine and a traditional French dinner of barely cooked red meat with french fries (AKA "frites") and sauteed broccoli. Because spoons and HH and I were all talking while we were cooking, and spoons was cooking half the things and I was cooking the other half and not paying attention, I burned the broccoli. It was the first time in a long time that I've burned anything. We cut off the burnt parts and ate it anyway. :)

Thursday: Crazy soup with eggs. This is a favorite dish of spoons' because it has so many great flavors, and because you finish it with a medium-cooked egg. It's a soup from a Paula Wolfert cookbook, The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen. You can search inside the book on amazon, so I took these screen shots from there. (Click on the pictures to read the recipe.) You can also use amazon's "Look inside" yourself to search for "chickpea" and find the same pages and the ones around them.

The soup is a slow-cooked one, where chickpeas are simmered for hours to create a delicious broth. For a vegetarian version, just leave out the bones and it will still be tasty. Then, garnish the chickpeas+broth with lemon juice, salty olives and capers, spicy red pepper sauce, black pepper and cumin. Serve over crusty pieces of bread and break a medium-cooked egg over the top to add richness to the soup. If you're like me, you can cook the egg even more, but if you're like spoons, that runny yolk will be the best part!

I also made banana bread that night, with spoons' mom's banana bread recipe. When I am too enthusiastic with my banana purchases, I like to make this. Sometimes I even peel the bananas and throw the mush into the freezer for a while. It will keep in the freezer until you feel like baking.

Mix together the ingredients in a big bowl:
1 c sugar
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1.5 - 2 cups of mashed bananas (as many as you have, really...)
2.5 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Pour into a greased pan of whatever size you like. If you make a big bread loaf, you'll need to bake it for an hour or more at 350 degrees F. When you stick a fork/toothpick in to test for doneness, it's OK if it is a little moist still, but you don't want giant wet clumps of batter to come out.

Friday: We spent Friday night getting ready for a housewarming party - our friend T made delicious spicy pasta (with chunks of potatoes in with the penne!) and pizza at her place. We also made a few housewarming items for the new guys, including a pinata. Long story.

Saturday: We had a bon-voyage breakfast with HH of delicious eggs and bacon from the market - I used brioche bread and tried to make the eggs cook inside a circle cut into the toast: is that called a birds' nest? This was mildly successful. :) For dinner we went over to Chez W to visit with M&C and their kids who arrived back from a long trip to the US.

Sunday was my first day in Morocco... will write that week up next.

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