Doesn't it look plumb healthy?

Doesn’t it look plumb healthy?

I needed something different.

So dinner was a departure from the usual. No old standards on the plate at all. Baked fish, in lemon-butter sauce with sage; sauteed sugar snap peas with garlic, ginger and sesame oil; a rice-and-lentil medley that comes from the unfortunately named Kountry Kupboard here in the ‘boro.

I had a bag of tilapia filets I’d bought because Kroger had them on sale and I took a notion. I do occasionally like grilled fish, and baked fish, and other things one can do with fish. It’s a good change of pace, and I ought to do it more.

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Pizza pizza!

April 23, 2015

Yum. Pizza.

Yum. Pizza.

We’ve been on a pizza kick here at Chez Brockwell of late. Not sure why — it’s just seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

So I whipped up a batch of Mark Bittman’s pizza dough, which is a great gift to modern man, and made this pizza recently. It’s a relatively simple affair — I used pizza saucethis pizza sauce from the grocery, which is right decent. Normally I use part of a jar of my homecanned tomato sauce, but this heavier, richer sauce just felt more like what I wanted this particular evening.

On Child A’s side of the pizza there was cheese. Period. She’s a pizza purist, when it comes to the homemade variety. I used mozzarella and parmigiano. She was happy. On my side, I added Kalamata olives and dry salami from the Kroger deli.

It was pretty excellent.

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Picadillo in a pie.

Picadillo in a pie.

I am a firm believer in the concept that, if one completely botches a new recipe and screws up beyond all comprehension, one should get back to it immediately with another new recipe, rather than taking refuge in something easy, tried and true, foolproof.

Thus, the picadillo empanada. Cuban calzone. Something to that effect.

I’ve wanted for ages to try picadillo, the Cuban/Caribbean ground meat stew that features olives and raisins. I also had half a batch of pizza dough in the fridge that wanted to be used. Seemed reasonable enough to me. I’d make the picadillo, and encase it in a dough round, making a tidy little handpie that I’d bake.

Which is what I did.

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Spring rolls. Sigh.

You may recall I made up spring rolls, some 2 1/2 dozen of them, on Friday. I finally got around to attempting to fry them yesterday.

Don’t do this at home. Betake yourself, instead, to a reasonably good Thai or Vietnamese or Asian fusion restaurant and satisfy your spring roll craving. You will save some money, some perfectly good ingredients, some time, a hellacious kitchen cleanup, and a good deal of frustration.

And those leftover rice paper wrappers? Take them out and use them like little frisbees, happily flinging them off into space. They’re biodegradable.

They degrade in hot oil, too.

There are no photographs with this post, since there was absolutely nothing I wished to preserve about the debacle that was the attempted frying of the spring rolls.

I carefully put my inch and a half of oil, as recommended, into my biggest, deepest skillet. I heated it to the requisite 385 degrees. I thought. I may not have gotten it that hot, as it’s damned hard to take the temp of hot oil at that depth without getting your thermometer on the bottom of the pan, which will throw off the reading.

The first two spring rolls sank and stuck. I cursed.

Not to be outdone, I switched to a smaller, but non-stick, skillet. Strained the hot oil over into it (THAT was a challenge). Added more oil.

Those rolls didn’t stick. But they still shredded when I tried to fry them.

Not to be outdone, I got out my leftover rice paper wrappers and gave each one of the remaining rolls an extra wrap.  In that fashion, I managed to get two out of the first seven rolls fried to what appeared to be an edible consistency and in a semi-whole state.

By this time, my blood pressure was through the roof, my head was pounding, and I was dizzy. So I poured myself a glass of wine and sat down, ignoring dinner.

Child A said the beef and broccoli was good, but she didn’t like the spring rolls. I didn’t like the spring rolls, either. Didn’t have to taste them to know that.

So the two dozen spring rolls in my freezer are going in the garbage today. No point in sticking that sharp stick in my eye again. And I’ll chalk this one up to experience.

You might could, perhaps, manage this if you had a deep fryer that would get your oil hot enough and hold it at a steady temperature. You might not. I do not have a deep fryer and don’t plan to acquire one. This is yet another confirmation that my aversion to deep-frying anything at home is well-founded.

Lesson learned. No homemade spring rolls for me, not at Chez Brockwell, not today, and not tomorrow, either.

You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em head to the Thai restaurant, you let me know and I’ll meet you there.


Assorted stuffs

April 20, 2015

Sunday gravy, indeed!

Sunday gravy, indeed!

It’s been a mish-mash of cookery here of late. My big project, the spring rolls, are still on their trays, covered, in the fridge, being that it was hectic enough Saturday and Sunday that I didn’t want to fry them. Hot oil + small kitchen + three toddlers was not an experiment I thought wise. I’ll fry some today, and package the rest to freeze for later.

What I did do was make a big pot of bolognese sauce and cooked a pot of penne for it to go over. I made the sauce on Friday and then stuck pot, sauce and all in the fridge Friday night. Got it out Sunday morning before church, scraped the fat off the top and ditched it, and dumped it over into the crockpot to simmer while we were at church. Came home and boiled some penne, along with some corn and rice pasta for Child B, the celiac kid, and there was dinner.

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Isn't it pretty? And that's my new Kuhn Rikon red bread knife.

Isn’t it pretty? And that’s my new Kuhn Rikon red bread knife.

I MAY — repeat MAY — have whipped the issue of baking a good sandwich bread.

I’ve been in search of the sandwich bread since I first got into breadmaking four or five years ago. I’ve gotten close. But none of them had the combination of soft-yet-durable texture, moisture, and taste that would stand the test of a healthy-sized sandwich.

I used my favorite Miss Mary Lloyd’s bread. The taste is marvelous, and it’s soft enough. But it wants to crumble. I tried the master loaf from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a day, which is sturdy enough, but isn’t soft, and tends to get a little dry the day after it’s baked. I’ve tried several other breads, but always had a problem with them wanting to break, or crumble. You know how you can take a slice of Wonder bread and fold it, and it won’t break? Can’t do that with any that I’ve tried.

Until today.

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Midweek slump

April 15, 2015

I got nothin’, here. No cooking since the weekend; hoping to remedy that today. I’m contemplating gyoza and fried rice, just because it sounds good. Will have to cook some rice, spread it out on a plate, and stick it in the fridge to dry out if I plan to do that.

On another front, I think my drinking habits are about to undergo a major change. Back a couple of months ago, I was having some stomach problems, of which we were never able to identify the source. But they went away, so I didn’t worry about them.

Yesterday, they were back. And it occurred to me they went away shortly the beginning of Lent, during which I gave up drinking wine. Come the end of Lent, and I happily resumed my customary one or two (occasionally more) glasses of wine in the evenings. And here the tummy is riled again.


B’lieve I’ll cut out the wine again and see if they go away again. If they do, I’ll accept the correlation and give it up, at least on any kind of a regular basis.

Y’all out there, you or y’mama ‘n ’em had any problems like that?


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