Monday, July 30, 2012

Pot Pie Extravaganza

Dear Turkey,
Thank you for sharing your weekend adventures. Here are mine (at least the culinary ones). On Saturday, we made two batches of blueberry jam and watched the Olympics while I served these flatbreads.
 flatbreads with thyme, honey and sea salt
Her toppings are great, and I also always make two other kinds: red onion/balsamic and parm/tomato jam (this tomato jam is amazing; we tweaked the recipe a little, and we can it in jars so it lasts all year). Then we went on our first postpartum date and I had amazing sea salt ice cream which really renewed my faith in Gannon's.
Yesterday I went to the New Woodstock Corn Roast. New Woodstock is a beautiful little village in our hood. Since I know you are wondering, I will tell you that a corn roast is like a chicken BBQ but with corn. I've always felt kind of left out from things like that, since they are not vegetarian. Good thing I had just run ten miles, because the corn was free, unlimited, and served with communal salt shakers and sticks of butter for rolling.
Last night we made pot pies from Gourmet. Of course we did not include the clams or bacon. We made them in individual ramekins and I did a lattice crust over the top of each one. We had extra crust and I made a peach one for dessert. They were so delicious and it was fun to have my own pot pie all to myself; however, they are probably healthy enough to make once a year.
I moss you,

No Snap!

Dear Tofu,

I am so glad I finally got a cast iron pan. I cooked in it all weekend with fantastic results. If only I had gotten one sooner! I had a little trouble getting it clean after I baked the frittata in it (more on that another time), but I guess baked egg and cheese are about as hard to get off a surface as anything. Otherwise, my seasoning process seemed to work great.

For dinner on Saturday, I made a recipe I've been wanting to try since I saw it on Food Wishes: Veracruz-Style Red Snapper. The only problem was my fish market didn't have snapper when I went shopping. I chose cod instead, which probably made no difference since I've read that most fish sold as red snapper is actually rock cod. Instead of baking the fish individually, I just stacked it up in the cast iron pan in which I had made the saute. Other than that, I made it exactly as directed, which isn't usually my style, but it looked so good. See for yourself!

I paired it with a cornbread from the Flour cookbook made with coarse corn meal, corn kernels, and thyme. It was good, but too dry for my taste, maybe because I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose white. That made it perfect to go with this juicy, salty fish though.

This combo got Angel's approval as well and I would definitely make it again. I would make a few changes next time though. I like the thyme flavor in the cornbread, but I would try to get the corn bread more moist ("moister" just sounds inappropriate to me). And I would brush the top with a honey butter to give it a sweet crust. For the fish, I would use fewer capers and less oregano (which you would probably skip altogether). Other seasonings might work too.

Hope you and the other tofus are healthy and happy.


Friday, July 27, 2012

'Tis Squashes

Dear Turkey,
Thank you for your musings on cast iron pans. To season mine, I usually put some olive oil on a paper towel and smear it around the pan until it's about as shiny as my hair. I do have a cast iron griddle and we love it. My husband calls it the "skiddle" because he says it's a cross between a skillet and a griddle. How creative. It is great for pancakes. I also have a "fruit only" cast iron pan (oh I can't even choose what joke to put here) that I can bake things in so that they don't end up tasting like onions or stir fry. I also have a dutch oven which is great for soups and for baking bread. Cast iron pans are so great because you can cook in them and then put them in the oven, like if you're making my favorite Paella (originally by Mark Bittman, who is awesome, but I am using a different link because I am boycotting the New York Times...I guess they think their journalists should get paid or something...).
Speaking of cast iron pans and the NYT, I made these tacos for lunch yesterday. I usually like this column, but, while mine did look like this:

They weren't worthy of being in the New York Times, even after I rescued them with lots of balsamic vinegar, cumin, and wedges of fresh lime.
I moss you,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

'Tis the Season

No, that's not a picture of something delicious. Restrain yourself from taking an enthusiastic bite, unless you got a set of metal teeth like that guy in the James Bond movie. I'm writing this as my new cast iron pan gets its second coat of seasoning in the oven. You've said I ought to get a cast iron skillet and I decided you were right. In fact, I think I'm going to get a cast iron grill/griddle top for my stove too. Do you have one? I think it would be great during the winter or when I make pancakes.

Small problem: did you know that everyone and his gay half-cousin's dog has a different idea about how to season cast iron? Now, if I were you, I know I'd just do whatever made sense and move on; I spent two hours researching yesterday and afterward did just what the directions that came with the pan said, and then fried up some shrimp.

I wasn't happy though. The shrimp stuck to the pan and I ended up using a little soap with the sponge to get everything off (I know, I know, a big no-no). And still it didn't look spotless afterward. So today I'm putting on a few new coats. I liked an article I read yesterday on the chemistry of cast iron seasoning, but I didn't feel like racing out to spend 15 bucks on flax oil for pan seasoning. That is, unless you tell me different. So I'm just giving it a thin coat of canola oil, putting it in the oven at 500F for an hour, then letting it cool. Repeat. Your thoughts?

I promise that next post I'll have something delicious. I'm not good about taking pictures, but maybe for this blog I will be. I'm having friends for brunch on Sunday. My proposed menu is:
  1. Sweet and white potato hash (made ahead in the cast iron pan, thank you)
  2. A crustless quiche or frittata (is there even a difference?) with sausage and carmelized vegetables
  3. Sticky buns from the Flour Bakery cookbook
  4. Fruit and mimosas (of course)
I made up the sticky buns on Tuesday and froze them, along with the caramel. Of course, we had to try at least one that night; we made up the two small end rolls and served them with a bit of the Edy's caramel ice cream we had in the freezer. I'm not sure what kind of hyperbole is suitable for how good they were. Angel likened the knowledge of how to make them to nuclear bomb science: our destruction is assured unless we're sanctioned sufficiently to prevent their production.

I'd post a picture, but we didn't take any. Recipes and pictures from this Sunday to come. Wish you could be here.