Friday, July 31, 2009

Cook, Interrupted

Hey there. Many apologies for being a baaad blogger. Will be back at the end of August, can't wait.

Have a fantastic summer, and in the meantime, here are a few of the things I haven't had time to post.

Rustic Apple Tart
Recipe from foodisluv.

Beet Risotto
Recipe from spoonful of sugar.

Swedish Meatballs
Another great one from foodisluv.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Market Week Day 4: Berry Clafoutis

Had never heard of clafoutis until this week, when I stumbled across it while browsing Mr. B. for something to do with the raspberries/blueberries. Then looked on foodgawker and it seems like everyone is making them.

Found some great sites (e.g. Feasting on Art, Crabby Cook), but decided to go with Mr. B., as he's my god.

It was plate-lickingly delicious.

The Recipe: Fluffy Berry Clafoutis
Based on How to Cook Everything (10th Anniversary Edition) by Mark Bittman
  • Butter for the baking dish
  • 0.5 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tbspn for the baking dish
  • Approx. 2.5 cups berries (I had mostly blueberries, with a few raspberries thrown in)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 0.75 cup all-purpose flour
  • 0.75 cup cream
  • 0.75 cup milk
  • Pinch salt
  • Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Serves 4-6.

1. Heat oven to 375F. Butter a gratin or baking dish that will hold the fruit in one layer (mine was a 2 quart baking dish, and worked perfectly). Sprinkle it with the tablespoon of sugar, then swirl the sugar around to coat inner surfaces. Lay the fruit in the dish.

2. Use a whisk to beat the eggs until foamy. Add remaining granulated sugar and beat with whisk or electric mixer until foamy and fairly thick.

3. Add the flour and continue to beat until thick and smooth. Add the milk, vanilla extract and salt.

4. Whip the cream to medium peaks and fold into batter.

5. Pour batter over fruit and bake for about 20 mins, or until the clafoutis is nicely browned on top, and a knife inserted into it comes out clean (ours actually took about 30 mins). Serve warm or at room temperature, with some confectioners' sugar sifted on top.


Was very happy I'd read a few recipes before trying this (e.g. sweet amandine's) because otherwise would have been a bit alarmed that it deflated when it came out of the oven, and is gooey inside.

Given that it deflates, not totally sure that it's worth whipping the cream to make it "fluffy." Mr. B. suggested this as a variation, and it sounded nice so I did it, but you can just add it along with the milk and I bet it would turn out pretty much the same.

Or you can use yoghurt instead of cream, in which case you could pretend it's healthy.

You can use any kind of fruit - a lot of people use cherries, he also recommends plums, apples, and apricots (his original recipe had 1lb pears, peeled, halved, and cored).

Farewell, Market Week...

We're away for the weekend, so this was our last recipe of Market Week. Used everything except for a couple of beets lurking in the fridge till we get back.

A big thank you to eatmakeread - it was a lot of fun!

Have a great weekend everyone!


Sorry no in-progress shots, it was dark and the cats were trying to get into everything. The first one is horribly gloomy, but just thought you might like to see what it looks like right out of the oven.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Market Week Day 3: Three-Bean Salad

What to do with all those beans? Aha - three-bean salad! I asked my mum for the recipe. Oh, she said, sounding a little surprised, you just cook the beans, and chop up some onion, and make a vinaigrette. My mum, after all these years, still can't comprehend the depths of my ignorance.

So I went looking online and discovered that no-one seems to agree on what goes into a three-bean salad. Even my beloved Mr. Bittman let me down: to him, a three-bean salad is made with three kinds of dried beans - nooooooo!! Even where there was agreement on the beans, there was none on the dressing. And I was in search of that specific taste - my mum's three-bean salad.

The Recipe: Three-Bean Salad

Here's what I used for the salad - perfect.

But I didn't think that my mum used red wine vinegar in her dressing, and sure enough when I tried a mini version of what is given here it didn't taste like hers at all.

So I did a bit more searching and came across an apple cider-based version. And even though my mum didn't use apple cider vinegar either, this tasted almost right. Though I cut the sugar in half and it was still a little sweet for me. And I should have doubled the recipe, we were a bit short on juice.


See above for the dressing issue. Any tips? Otherwise I'll have to bug my mother...

One other thing - something I saw recommended on chowhound a while ago - I soaked the onions. They really made me cry when chopping, so thought would try it. Did it make any difference? Who knows.

Also steamed the beans, rather than boiling. Again, don't know if that matters, it's just how I normally cook beans (they tasted great, really farm-fresh.)


Market Week Day 2: Pasta with Beets & Greens

Continuing with eatmakeread's Market Week...

First it was pasta with green beans. Now pasta with beet greens.

The Recipe: Beet & Greens Pasta
From Culinate.


Very easy, very tasty, dramatic on the plate, and fun. The writer says her daughter loves it, and I can imagine it would be good for (beet-loving) kids.

(I'm guessing kids might also be entertained by the way beets dye everything pink, if you know what I mean...not us, of course, we're way more sophisticated than that.)


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Eatmakeread's Market Week

I'm kinda doing eatmakeread's Market Week. "Kinda" because I had to start a bit early (Thurs), as that's when our market is, and also because it's more cooking and posting than my pea-brain can handle. The idea is that you do a big trip to the farmer's market on the weekend, then make your meals for the week from what you buy. But it seems that she's pretty relaxed about it - you can do as much or as little as you like.

Anyway, check it out - a fun and inspiring idea, and there's still plenty of time to join in. Plus she has a lovely site.

And here are our ingredients. The market's a bit miniature, so probably not too impressive, but pretty, right?

We couldn't decide between green and yellow beans, so got both, which is actually rather a lot of beans (you're looking at a mere sample). It'll be a beany few days.

In fact, I already made pasta with pesto, beans, and potatoes - have done it before (waybackwhen), but these pix are a bit better.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Belated Happy Independence Day: English Muffins

Independence Day is a bit of a joke in our house. I'm English and Jack is American, and there's some question here as to whether the Revolutionary War is really over - though it's now more focused on things like process/pr-oh-cess, sshedule/skedule, potayto/potahto, whose political/medical/school system is the stupidest, and who has the best TV programs.

But in general we tolerate, uh sorry, celebrate our differences, and something that perfectly represents this is the English muffin.

As some of you may know, the English muffin isn't at all English. The nearest thing we have in the UK (though maybe things have changed??) is the crumpet, and crumpets are weird. Instead of nooks and crannies they have craters, and a very firm, springy texture like foam rubber.

Anyway, English muffins are a staple of our diet, to a ridiculous degree. We eat them pretty much every day. Jack has his with peanut butter, like a normal American, and I have mine with cheese and pickle or butter and Marmite, like an alien.

It never occurred to me to try making them until this post on Macheesmo. They just didn't seem like something that could be made - they just come in a packet, right?

But Jack would never in a million years expect a homemade English muffin. So I did them as a surprise - which involved hiding the dough, banishing him from the kitchen, etc. The look on his face when he saw them: priceless.

The Recipe: English Muffins

From Macheesmo - great post, with step-by-step directions.


Actually, it wasn't incredibly hard, but I need more experience with yeasted things in general. Like the hot cross buns, they came out a little chewy. Not bad at all, just a little more of a workout for the jaw than necessary.

Any suggestions? Overkneading? Or was it that (like the hot cross buns) they seemed to rise a lot the first time round?

Also, I can't count. Divided the dough into 8, not 6 - doh! So they were a little runty (English mini-muffins?) especially compared with the store-bought version (penultimate pic).

But, as always, it was a lot of fun. So a big thank you to Macheesmo, and a belated Happy Independence Day to my American readers.



After first rise:


...into the wrong number of balls!

After second rise:

In pan:

Other side:


On the left, the store-bought version:

Fork split: