We're all stuck indoors these days. For us, this means a chance to be more ambitious about what we eat which, in turn, means getting to cook out of those cookbooks which have been too-long ignored. We're particularly anxious to explore James Peterson's Glorious French Food, Joanna Chang's Meyers & Chang At Home, and Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table.
Posts are in reverse chronological order!
Thursday, March 26
Appropriately for the last day of this first week, everything was leftovers!
Lunch: Leftover chicken liver paté, leftover macaroni salad, and leftover facaccia with mortadella (sort of leftover: the last bit of our most recent purchase at Russo's).
And for dessert, the sticky buns we'd made 10 days ago and frozen (which works wonderfully).
Dinner: As we had too much lobster meat for our lobster rolls last night, we decided to save half for lobster risotto tonight. What a good idea and it didn't seem like leftovers at all!
Wednesday, March 25
Lunch: Deb made me some macaroni salad with tiny elbows (which I prefer because that's the way I ate macaroni salad as a kid); she prefers a larger shape.
We decided to finally eat up the kielbasa I bought at Karl's Sausage Kitchen in Plymouth; here with onions.
Dinner: When Deb mentioned that Alive 'n' Kickin' was still open, we decided to spring for lobster rolls while we still could. She ordered and fetched the usual two 1.5 pounders but they had apparently forgotten to molt: the very thick shells were crammed with meat and it was a chore to get it out!
I had determined to make some focaccia and found a terrific recipe in Baking Illustrated (a variation on Carol Field's Italian Baker recipe with potato). Once Deb had boiled the potato she was willing to do the rest with this fine result. Next time we'll make it thinner.
Tuesday, March 24
The perfect entertainment before lunch: a dumpling party! We made 50 Mama Chang's Dumplings from M&C at Home. To freeze the ones we won't eat for lunch, we placed them on fabric in the freezer (prevents sticking); once frozen they can be zip-locked.
Lunch: Of course, those self-same dumplings with a ginger-black-pepper dipping sauce.
Cocktail Hour: To accompany our (standard) Jean-George Ginger-Lime Margaritas, we had the Stockli chicken liver paté made yesterday.
We ran out of dumpling wrappers just before finishing the filling, so we made "dumpling gnudi" with the remainder.
We were then sufficiently sated that all we really needed for the rest of the evening was our perennial favorite Spicy (Aleppo pepper) Caramel Popcorn from Anna Sortun's Spice cookbook.
Monday, March 23
Back to normal weekday breakfasts which consist of two toasted slices of Iggy's Francese with Jalapeno Peanut Butter and Trader Joe's Concord Grape Jam, both of which I'm addicted to. Which helps get me out of bed in the morning!
Lunch: Deb walked to Central Square this morning and (following some persuasion) picked up some tuna and ikura at H-Mart so we could make tuna tartare as we remember it from George, the restaurant in the Pompidou Center in Paris. The dressing is EVOO, Maggi, Red Boat fish sauce, and sesame oil and the garnish is crème fraîche and chives. The crème fraîche turns out to be important!
Dinner: An expansive dinner following a cocktail hour which featured Albert Stockli's Chicken Liver Paté; unfortunately, I didn't photograph it so the left-overs will appear tomorrow.
We did our usual pollo al mattone using the 15-pound Thai mortor as the "brick".
It was not as deeply browned as usual and it's not clear why. Perhaps it didn't have enough time drying out in the refrigerator prior to being cooked. Still, very satisfying.
With that we had side servings of potatoes L'Ami Louis (the famous bistro in Paris; the last time we were there following an opera performance who walked in with his large party but the opera's conductor, Seiji Ozawa; we were thereafter condemned to tourist status).
And finally, some baked feta with mint.
Sunday, March 22
Breakfast: Deb had some english muffins and I had two egg yolks so we converged on eggs Benedict with prosciutto substituting for the Canadian bacon.
Lunch: We waited until mid-afternoon to think about lunch so wanted only a little. We keep some cooked shrimp in the freezer for such occasions but instead of our usual shrimp cocktail I wanted to be more ambitious. A definite mistake in this instance. We tried to make shrimp toast from the Gourmet Cookbook with some lovely brioche we had left-over from french toast. Big mistake: the very open crumb absorbed lots of frying oil and cooked very quickly; the shrimp paste didn't stick to the toast. Other than that . . .
Dinner: Tomasz was with us for the usual Sunday evening catching up. He reported that he was comfortably installed in a large suite in Adams House but that the dining services had been passing out bags of the same lunch and the same dinner for the past seven days! With cocktails we had our favorite mini-madeleines from Dorie:
We made Dorie's Chicken Liver Gâteaux with Pickled Onions but it didn't come cleanly out of the ramekins. Also Deb assumed I would add the cognac; I assumed she had. Nonetheless, tasty enough.
We then put Tomasz to work to make Bucatini Putanesca for the main course.
Saturday, March 21
Breakfast: We look forward to weekend breakfasts which always include Deb's superior, completely-rendered and therefore very crisp bacon.
For decades the standard Saturday morning breakfast has included a "German Pancake" which is the sole recipe I cook from my mother. It's also called a "Dutch Baby", particularly when decked out with some sauteéd apples. I had great difficulty with it recently until I learned that the batter must not be cold going into the oven; since then, everything is back to normal.
Lunch: We made an impromptu stir-fry with the left-over scallops from the risotto. Not very photogenic!
Dinner: One of our favorite meals: magret with salad! Deb has just purchased a new screen to cover the frying pan while sauteéing the duck; no more grease all over the stove!
The end result:
along with some left-over cauliflower:
I've been taking the trouble to render the duck fat from the duck carcasses which provides not only lots of duck fat for confiting the legs but also these wonderful cracklings.
Friday, March 20
Lunch: We had an impromptu scallop risotto last night (to use up some terrific frozen bay scallops from Mexico). Deb didn't like the scallops (ask her!) but, as usual, we had left-over risotto. So for lunch Deb made arancini.
Dinner: It had been a very long time since we had one of our favorite ways to prepare fish: blackening. This was a tremendous fad back in the eighties and has mostly disappeared but we love it, especially with swordfish and bluefish. It could not be simpler: cover room-temperature fish heavily on both sides with Chef Paul's Redfish Magic, place in a scortchingly hot cast-iron pan for a total of 10 minutes per inch of thickness [the famous "Canadian fish rule" which holds for any cooking method], and sauce with some brown butter.
Deb made a shaved fennel salad from Peterson with shavings of parmigiano (Peterson admits that it's more Italian than French).
And I finally after years of procrastination made the Îles Flottantes from Dorie's book which calls for baking the meringues rather that the usual poaching in milk. She said to fancy it up with chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce so we did!
I had the left-over floating island the next day and did a much better job of photographing it.
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