Food post! Sunday dinner: Braised Hare (lepre in umido) and fried polenta (polenta fritta). Recipes from Cuisines of the World: Italy by Miranda Alberti. I actually used rabbit instead of hare (there is a difference). The recipe took over an hour to simmer, but the meat came out very tender. The recipe called for porcini mushrooms but I used baby portabellos instead. As for the polenta (which is a porridge made from cornmeal and boiling water), I poured the cooked polenta into a square baking dish and set it in the freezer for almost an hour to cool. Then I cut the cooled polenta into rectangles and pan-fried them in butter. Healthy!
Food post! Monday dinner: Fried rabbit in batter (Coniglio fritto) and mushroom salad (Insalata di funghi). These two recipes were also from Cuisines of the World: Italy by Miranda Alberti. This recipe did call for rabbit rather than hare. The previous dish called for meat from the breasts and thighs, so I fried-up what I had left: the fore and hind-legs. It wasn’t bad (and honestly rabbit does taste a little like chicken) but all-in-all I think I prefer chicken wings. The mushroom salad recipe called for garlic, vinegar, and “a mix of mushrooms,” so I used some baby portabellos and shitake mushrooms. An optional component to the dish was spicy pepper. A thorough review of the available literature on this matter will show that yes, I like the spice, so I chopped up two serrano peppers and added them to the mix. The salad was meaty and rich enough to be a main course itself, which isn’t surprising when you consider that (biologically speaking) fungi are many times closer to animals than they are to plants. Seems that minor in biology that I thought I’d never use has come in more useful than I would have thought!
Food post! Thursday dinner: Moussaka! Recipe from The Greek Cookbook by Sophia Skoura. Moussaka (In Greek: μουσακάς, pronounced “moo-sah-KAS”) is a triple layered dish: eggplant and/or potato on the bottom, meat component in the middle, bechamel (a roux based sauce with cheese added) on top. Moussaka is sometimes called “Greek lasagna”, though it has no pasta in it. I used both potatoes and eggplant on the bottom, ground lamb, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and mushrooms for the middle layer, and I added goat cheese and a little bit of feta to the bechamel (usually parmesan is used, but I was all out). Turned out really pretty.
Food post! Wednesday dinner: Jugged Chicken (frango na pucara) and fresh cèpes with parsley dressing. Once again the main dish was from Portuguese Cooking by Hilaire Walden while the side dish was from Vegetarian by Linda Fraser. The chicken dish is called ”jugged” because it is traditionally prepared in an earthenware pot. I however used a cast iron dutch oven. The chicken came out surprisingly tender, while the vegetables were very fresh. The recipe called for a lot of tomato, onion, garlic, and bell pepper, so it had a very rich salsa-like taste. Warm salsa with pieces of chicken may not sound appetizing, but I assure you it was yummy. The recipe also called for lots of alcohol: white wine, white port, and brandy. Since I actually had white port (and since it’s a type of wine wine), I used the port mixed with brandy and omitted the regular white wine. As for the salad: I had no cèpes, so I used dried mushrooms that I’d picked up at the Asian market. I have no idea what this particular variety of mushrooms is properly called, but regardless I sautéed them in rice vinegar, butter, honey, and white port to bring them to life. The mushrooms were then sliced and served on a bed of romaine lettuce and topped with parmesan cheese, almonds, and the parsley dressing. The parsley dressing called for two egg yolks, minced parsley, a pinch of sugar, and peanut oil, but I used a basil infused soybean oil instead. It turned out great.
Food post! Red curry with shrimp and salad roll with peanut sauce. Recipes from Easy Thai Cooking, with some serious modifications made. Not sure if I like this book. It lists no author and is one volume in an extensive series of cookbooks, all with the formula: ”Easy [adjective] Cooking”. The recipe actually called for red bell peppers, mushrooms, shrimp, and bamboo shoots. I used a green bell pepper instead, and since I had no bamboo shoots, I added celery (mainly for texture). I also added a diced apple to throw in some sweetness. This dish was unsuccessful for a number of reasons. First off: the curry was extremely hot… “Thai hot” in fact. I don’t mind that, but it was unexpected. The recipe in the book did involving making the curry sauce from scratch, but I had the canned stuff already, so I thought I’d try it. Next time I’ll do it differently. The other reason it was a failure were the salad rolls, I used rice paper sheets, but they were sticking together and flaking so badly that I used two sheets per roll. Big mistake. The rolls ended up much too chewy. Next time I’ll be gentler with the rolls and use only one sheet per roll. It’s okay though, I have absolutely no problem screwing something up the first time if it teaches me how to get it right the second time.
Food post! Saturday dinner: Paleo-correct meat loaf with spinach salad. The recipe was from (no surprise) the Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain. The meat loaf was easy; I took 93/7 lean beef and mixed it with a couple of cage free eggs, onions, garlic, parsley, black pepper, cilantro, and olive oil. The salad was made with spinach, radishes, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes. There’s more meat loaf left, so looks like I know what’s for lunch today.
Food post! Monday dinner: Braised river trout with marinated mushroom and artichoke salad. So this recipe is the first in a while that is not from Loren Cordain’s the Paleo Diet, that’s because I broke down and bought the Paleo Diet Cookbook and that’s the source of origin for this recipe. The trout was braised in a cast iron skillet with chicken stock, carrots, and onions (the recipe called for leeks, but I was out). The artichokes and mushrooms were marinated for a short time in a vinegar and oil mixture and chilled in the freezer for a couple of minutes. Not a bad meal.
Food post! Saturday dinner: Salmon with pear infusion, stuffed mushrooms, and mixed-leaf salad with walnuts. This recipe was adapted from a recipe called “Salmon with nectarine infusion”, but since I had no nectarines, a different fruit was drafted into service. The stuffed mushroom recipe (called “stuffed ‘shrooms”, to appeal to those hip youngsters) was a landmark of the forgetable sort… this was the first Paleo recipe I’ve tried where I thought to myself: “Wow, this needs more salt!” One of the major appeals of the Paleo diet is that it doesn’t seem like a diet at all, so I’m going to chalk this up to just a bad recipe. More cayenne pepper or garlic powder might fix the problem for next time, in regards to its lack of seasoning. Both the above recipes were from the Paleo Diet Cookbook, by the way. I served it with a mixed-leaf salad with carrots, grape tomatoes, and walnuts.
Food post! Thursday lunch: Apricot-stuffed pork loin with spinach and avocado salad. Both these recipes were from the Paleo Diet Cookbook by Loren Cordain. The pork loin was sliced in half and stuffed with a sautee of dried apricots, white wine, mushrooms, garlic, and shallots. The recipe called for tying the porkloin back together, but since I had no butcher’s twine (I keep forgetting to pick some up!) I instead took a large skewer and stitched it together, cooking it with the skewer in place. It may have looked like a lop-sided shish-kabob to some; but to me it looked like ingenuity! The salad recipe actually called for arugula, but I had none, so I used spinach instead. It also called for raspberries, but strawberries worked great. Finished the salad with walnuts and a vinegarette made from olive oil, lemon juice, and flaxseed oil. Definitely a good meal.
Food post! Sunday dinner: Grilled Yellowtail with broiled mushrooms and spinach salad. Recipes from the Paleo Diet Cookbook by Loren Cordain Ph.D. The fish recipe was in the book under the title “Grilled Snapper”. Once again, the recipe called for Red Snapper, but I used Yellowtail Snapper. The mushroom recipe was interesting. Found in the book under the title “Wild Roasted Mushrooms” it called for cremini, oyster, and enoki mushrooms. But since all I had were baby portabellos and white mushrooms, that’s what I used. The spinach salad was made with radishes, red bell pepper and some of the leftover dressing from last night. A nice dinner, for sure.
Food post! Monday dinner: Beef & mushroom meatloaf with Waldorf Salad. The meatloaf recipe was from the Paleo Diet Cookbook while the salad recipe was from the Paleo Diet. Both tomes by Loren Cordain PhD. The recipe for the meatloaf called for mixing shiitake mushrooms into the beef (the title of the recipe was actually “shittake meatloaf”) but I substituted white mushrooms because that’s what I had on hand. The salad recipe called for serving the raisin, apple, celery mix over iceberg lettuce. Problem was, all the heads of iceberg lettuce at the store the other night looked like crap. So I bought the iceberg salad mix in the bag. Basically there was a little bit of cabbage and carrot that snuck in, but I’m not complaining.
Food post! Wednesday dinner: Stuffed pork chops with spinach salad. Recipe from the Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain. The pork chops were from a recipe called “pork chops stuffed with liver”. The filling called for chicken livers, parsley, and mushrooms. The salad was a simple spinach salad made with tomatoes and sliced almonds.