Shoulda, coulda, woulda

June 7, 2015

Good idea. Poor execution.

Good idea. Poor execution.

This should have been good, and wasn’t.

This, on the other hand, was gorgeous.

This, on the other hand, was gorgeous.

This should have been good, and was just exceptionally Sweet-Baby-Jesus wonderful.

And that’s the way it goes in the kitchen sometimes.

The idea behind the chicken and asparagus pie was a good one, and a different version of it would be successful. The “crust” is four russet potatoes, peeled and grated, water squeezed out; 1/2 an onion, grated; an egg and a few cracker crumbs, like you were going to make latkes. Instead, I pressed all that (forgot to add that I added salt and pepper) into a pie plate and baked it for 15 minutes or so, until the edges were beginning to brown.

The premise of the filling is chicken, Alfredo sauce, and a green thing, in this case, asparagus. I made up a quickie Alfredo by melting a four-ounce chunk of cream cheese with a cup of grated parm and a half-cup of milk, and stirred that up with a couple of cups of diced chicken and a bunch of cut-up asparagus. And I added some tarragon.

Now, I love me some tarragon, which is kinda odd, as I loathe licorice and have problems with dishes that are fennel-heavy. But I love me some tarragon, especially with fresh green things like zucchini, green peas, sugar snaps, and the like. So figured it should go well with the asparagus, right?

Probably. In principle. But I’m not sure whether my tarragon is tarragon-on-steroids, or what, but holy hell, this was some INTENSE tarragon. I used about a tablespoon, tablespoon and a half, minced, and it took over the entire dish. WAY too much tarragon; as Child A noted, “it tastes like black jellybeans.”

Note to self. Don’t use much of that tarragon. And watch to make sure the plant doesn’t look like it’s about to launch an invasion of the house, a la The Attack of the Kudzu, or something.

Other than that, it would have been good. Not as good as I thought it ought to be, but good. I made just enough sauce to sort of coat the asparagus and chicken, not to cause a soupy base for the pie. That part was good. It does need a herbaceous note of some sort to lift it out of the bland realm. Just not an overabundance of tarragon.

The squash casserole, though…..the squash casserole was a thing of beauty. I took four or five small yellow crookneck squash and a small sweet onion, and steamed them for 5 minutes or so, just enough to soften them up. Stirred them up together with a cup of grated Cheddar, two eggs, a half-cup of milk, a half-stick of melted butter, and a half a sleeve of Saltines, crushed. Season it to your liking with salt and black pepper. Put that in a casserole dish and topped it with a mixture of more cheese and cracker crumbs, and bake it for about 30 minutes at 375.

People. Do this. You will never do something so simple that is this good. The milk and eggs and cheese and cracker crumbs all combine to make an ethereally light custard that the squash and onion float in. They’re not cooked so done but what they still have a bit of structural integrity to them. The flavor — just the salt, pepper and cheese — is subtle enough to just accentuate the squash, which is what the dish is all about.

The canonical recipe would have you use Ritz crackers. I didn’t have any; I had Saltines, so I used them. Ritz would have made it a bit more buttery, I suspect. But this is just really, really good. In fact, shortly, I may warm some of it up and see how well it holds over a night.

Still to come this coming week — a blueberry cobbler, some sausage and biscuits, and the burgers I haven’t made yet. I have a recipe for burger buns I want to try, that alleges to have only one rise, and that only for 40 minutes. We shall see.

You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em have a fine week and enjoy what looks like it’s going to be our first real week of summer weather.



One Response to “Shoulda, coulda, woulda”

  1. cleavelin Says:

    Hmmmmmm… if it tasted like “black jellybeans”, that may have been the first thing you’ve ever cooked that I wouldn’t have liked well enough. Count me glad I wasn’t visiting that evening. 😉

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