Motivation: 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, Joanne Chang's Meyers & Chang At Home, and Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table. We're also rooting through old standbys like David Rosengarden's It's All American Food and Jean-George's The Asian Flavors of Jean-George.
Friday, May 8
We're gearing up for a big week! Yesterday, Deb followed up on the Times article by Kenji on large cuts of tough meat by convincing the butcher at Star to cut a lovely 5.5lb top round roast. And today she picked up her order for two frozen ducks and a pork tenderloin from Savenor's.
Lunch: Before attacking new things, we had to finish off the mushroom soup.
Cocktails: We're now stuck on Boursin for cocktails. We started with Deb's homemade version but have now settled for the genuine article. I made some fried cashews with cayenne, something in regular rotation for cocktails. We can't imagine cocktails without some Turkish pistachios.
Dinner: Again, in an attempt to clear the decks, we sous vide'd a hunk of lamb from the top of the Easter leg which had been frozen. We're getting quite attached to the way sous vide'd meat comes out 100% medium-rare. Here it is with warm roasted red peppers surrounding feta and Deb's tzatziki.
Saturday, May 9
Breakfast: Wonderful news! The german pancake finally came out as intended. For the record: cold pan heated on stovetop to melt butter; from-refrigerator batter microwaved for 30 seconds.
Lunch: If there's left-over roast lamb, can Jean-George's lamb sandwiches with basil mayo be far behind? Accompanied by J-G's splendid choice of gaufrettes?
Dinner: Closing out with a simple pepperoni and onion pizza which was an improvement over previous ones as a result of having the broiler on from the outset and cooking only 4:45 instead of 6+.
Sunday, May 10
Breakfast: A quick look at the standard Sunday morning breakfast: a gruyère cheese omelette with chives, Deb's unbeatable bacon, and toast.
Lunch: We had a final bit of smoked turkey and an overripe avocado so that sounded like a pretty good sandwich.
Dinner: For Sunday dinner with Tomasz, who'll be staying on-campus for the summer pursing his own self-study goals, we started with Deb's second batch of tomato soup (unknown as a puréed, creamed soup in Poland).
After resting in the refrigerator for two days absorbing salt, the top round went into the sous vide tub for 20 hours at 129°.
It came out looking as beautiful as could be. We were hoping that the very long time cooking would tenderize the meat.
But it didn't! It's likely that the temperature wasn't high enough to break down the tough muscle fibers. It was tasty but really tough (like deli roast beef but suffering from not being sliced as thinly). We also made some sesame noodles according to a popular NYTimes recipe; next time we'll make more sauce and increase the chili paste.
Tomaz has been making flatbread. He's working on getting a really flat surface on it before putting it in the pan!
Monday, May 11
Lunch: Deb's sister sent her a macaroni and cheese recipe which includes Gruyère and she was anxious to try it. It was remarkably presentable, especially since it was up against the superb M&C at E.A.T. in New York (made entirely with Gruyère which must have had an added emulsifier because Gruyère doesn't melt smoothly).
Dinner: The final swan song for our Easter lamb: the usual sandwich with roasted red pepper and basil mayo.
We had the sandwich all prepared before it occurred to me that we needed gaufrettes as well. It didn't take long before they were ready.
I finally got around to making that pecan pie that I'd been dreaming about for so long.
Tuesday, May 12
Lunch: More of the terrific tomato soup Deb made from a Cook's Illustrated recipe that roasts canned whole tomatoes.
It takes a long time for two people to eat a pecan pie, but we had no trouble making further headway.
Dinner: With more pizza crust in the refrigerator from Saturday, we did it again, this time with just cheese.
Wednesday, May 13
Deb always buys blood oranges when she sees them and their arrival always triggers the thought of mimosas. She's also bought some peonies which were slowly opening.
Lunch: When we were at the comprehensive Polish market just before Easter, I couldn't resist buying one of the many varieties of pickled herring; we'd had the best pickled herring ever in Gdansk last summer.
Deb is reluctant when it comes to fish so she resorted to her favorite childhood comfort food: buttered pasta and cottage cheese!
Dinner: I'd been a long time since we'd made Mario's pork tenderloin. This time, however, instead of grilling it following the marination, we sous vided it at 134°; isn't it nice that we don't have to worry about trichinosis any more!
And an artichoke salad on the side.
Thursday,, May 14
Dinner: Tomasz came over to celebrate the end of his sophomore year (last exam this morning) so we had a chance to empty the refrigerator. We did make one new thing, Potatoes Maxim, from Thomas Keller's Under Pressure book about sous vide cooking. It involves very thinly slicing Yukon Gold potatoes, blanching them for 20 seconds, coating them with corn starch, arranging them in an overlapping circle, and frying them. Here, Tomasz does the arranging.
More onion soup (as if I had to spell it out!).
More pork tenderloin with the potatoes. They needed a bit more time in the frying pan but were nonetheless nice and crisp.
Finally, mostly as a sop to the appetite of a growing young man, more pizza.