A cooking fool

November 21, 2010

Experiment, in progress.


Experiment, concluded successfully.

That would be me, today. I’ve been in and out of the kitchen all day, and expect to be a bit more before all’s said and done.

I’ve made champorado (this morning for breakfast; NS approved). I’ve made pesto — the frost was about to get my basil plant, so I harvested it all and food-processored it with the obligatory walnuts, garlic, parmesan and olive oil. I’ve made tortellini out of egg roll wrappers (I made a few of them, NS made the rest; they may not be the most delightful looking tortellini on the planet, but they’ll still be good in a pesto cream sauce tomorrow night. I made pumpkin ricotta turnovers, again with egg roll wrappers and the pumpkin butter I made t’other day. I’ve gotten chicken tenders pounded flat, spread with a pesto-ricotta mixture and rolled up, ready to flour, dip in egg wash, dredge in bread crumbs, and either fry or bake, depending on how ambitious I feel. I’m about to put the roasted tomatos and squash together into a gratin with a cheese sauce, and then determine what else wants to be dinner.

Oh, and I’ve got the rest of the package of chicken tenders to boil and shred for chicken quesadillas or some such, later on, and I’ve got chicken livers I might just go ahead and make up into pate tonight, or it may be tomorrow night.

But first: photos above are what happens when something I tried and thought I could improve on meets inspiration and expediency.

A few weeks back, I had a pumpkin-ricotta tamale from the tamale stand at the Farmers Market, mostly because I had to try it just for the novelty of it. It was good, but it was merely pumpkin puree; I thought at the time it’d have been much better with a spiced pumpkin blend.

So I had this pumpkin butter, and I wanted that taste, and I came within an eyelash of going to the grocery and getting corn husks to make me some damn tamales, never mind I’ve never made any before. And it occurred to me that I had egg roll wrappers.

“Self?” I asked. “What about if you did the ricotta and pumpkin butter in an egg roll wrapper and rolled it up and fried it?” And self said, “H’mm. That oughta work.”

Do you find yourself having conversations with yourself in the kitchen? No? OK, humor me and tell me you do, wouldja?  Look, I needed feedback.

So, I put together some little envelopes, rather than rolls, and fried them in a half-inch or so of hot vegetable oil. And damn, they were good!

Then there was dinner, with a couple more grabbed-it-out-of-thin-air creations.

A fine weekend repast, it was.

Here we have a chicken breast tenderloin, flattened and spread with a mixture of ricotta and fresh basil, made with my very own FoPro from the last of the basil from my very own herb garden (and I was sad to see it go). We have a gratin of squash and roasted cherry tomatos. And we have pears poached in wine and honey, with sweetened creme fraiche, of which I had to have two servings, just to determine if they were really as good as I thought they were.

They were. Just in case you were wondering.

I marvel that I have not made pears like this before. There were some gorgeous Bosc pears at the grocery, and I DO love me a Bosc pear. So I bought three, quartered, peeled and cored them, and poached two and a half of them (the other half I ate raw, with breakfast). The poaching medium could not get much simpler — about two cups of red wine, about 1/3 cup honey, and a sprinkle of allspice. I poached for a long time at a slow simmer — maybe an hour or more — then pulled the pears out, turned up the heat, and reduced the remaining liquid to a thick syrup, which I poured over them.

Have mercy!

The gratin was the roasted squash and the roasted tomatos from yesterday, spread in a baking dish, and topped with a cheesy bechamel and baked. Simple. Wonderful.

The chicken tenderloins — as previously noted, you pound them flat, spread them with a mix of ricotta and pesto, roll ’em up, flour-egg-crumb them, and bake them.

And a good glass of red wine. I am replete. And because I’ve been cleaning as I go, the kitchen is acceptable, though I do need to run the dishwasher again.

Didn’t get my pate’ made, so that’s tomorrow night, when we have tortellini (also made with egg roll wrappers) that NS made.

You and y’mama ‘n ’em enjoy the run-up to Thanksgiving, and visit my week-long blog over at eGullet.org the rest of this week. I’ll start tomorrow morning.


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