Saturday, November 06, 2004

Cooking Notes

Saturday: Belgian Beef Stew from the latest Cooks Illustrated.
I followed the recipe as closely as possible, including getting blade steak from the butcher and using Chimay Ale in the stew (there was enough left over to drink with dinner). It turned our really well, although we should have cooked it longer than the minimum 2 1/2 hours (it was 8:15 pm at that point, however, and we weren't waiting any longer), so not all of the meat was fork-tender. I will certainly make this again, although next time I'll start earlier. It wasn't difficult at all, just needs that long cooking time. Excellent weekend winter dinner.

Monday: Sara's Sweet Sausage and Polenta
For some reason I decided that I needed to make polenta, so searched the food network website until I found something that looked good. While tasty, it was not tasty enough to justify the work that went into the recipe. The polenta alone took 40 minutes of constant stirring. Next time I want polenta (and I'm tempted to make it with Cook's balsamic chicken recipe this week) I'll use Cook's microwave cooking method (stir twice, total). The sausages that I picked up at the butcher (after all, I was already getting the stew meat) were fantastic; I'll definitely pick those up again for sauce or just to grill (I bought a mix of hot and mild Italian, pork and chicken, with one garlic chicken).

Wednesday: Rachael's Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts and Spaghetti with Zucchini and Garlic
While this meal took much longer than 30 minutes, it was really good, and I think would come together much faster a second time around. I particularly liked the spaghetti with zucchini and garlic; very easy and a good way to sneak in veggies.

Friday: Doctored Up Pizza
Our local Safeway sells ready made pizzas for $5 on Fridays, so we often pick one up with a DVD for a cheap alternative to delivery. The pizzas are surprisingly tasty: good crust and decent sauce, but I like to doctor them up. Last night's version was one of the best so far. I roasted diced eggplant, red bell pepper, a shallot (leftover from Wednesday), and some garlic cloves with a little olive oil for about an hour at 350. I then added these to the uncooked pizza with some fresh basil (leftover from Jeff's yummy panang curry) and feta cheese. Paired with a bottle of red and season one of the Office, it made for a great night on the couch.


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