So I had this great plan to blog at least 4 times a week or more starting in January. It is the 11th and I am only on my second post. Do you think that averages will count?
Anyway, I have been cooking like mad. My goal this month is to do it all free-hand, so to speak. No recipes. No internet searches. Nothin’. So far so good (I will qualify this in a minute). I have been mostly successful, but I think I have a couple of things that I tried that weren’t 100% on the mark. For example, I made these scallops that I briefly seared and then finished off in the oven with cannellini beans, roma tomatoes, thinly sliced potatoes and cream and topped with bread crumbs and parsley. I should have not added the potatoes. I knew it the minute I was slicing them on the mandolin, but I kept going. I need to trust my instincts. This would have been spot on otherwise. I also experimented with “speed cooking” a whole chicken. I decided to half a roaster and cook it pseudo-tagine style. It came out beautifully, tender and tasty, but I think I missed the mark on the spices. I haven’t done any Moroccan cooking, so this was a bit of a stab in the dark. I used my preserved lemons, chick peas and a mix of olives. I really liked it, but again, it needed something. Turns out that I also should have used some veggies. Overall, I know that next time I will really do up the spices. The kids didn’t like the olives after cooking, so I ended up with a whole batch that I couldn’t eat by myself. Anyway, worth another go.
I had been on the library waiting list for a cookbook by Gordon Ramsay Just Desserts, which finally came this weekend. He is a classically trained pastry chef originally, so I was interested to play with recipes for a soufflé and pate choux. He didn’t have a chocolate soufflé recipe, so I decided to skip it, since the one he had was raspberry or something. I jumped onto the pate choux recipe instead. I made his recipe twice, with poor results. I kept getting these flat little discs that tasted like cream puff pastry, but clearly didn’t look like it. So I got online (not only did I break my “no recipe” rule, I also broke my online rule – oh well). I got on You Tube and found a two part video by Alton Brown called Choux Shine. This was the key. I suspected the cookbook was leaving out some critical tips that would have helped me troubleshoot what was going wrong. I followed Alton’s instructions and voila! – cream puffs! I hated that I was back to making so many sweets, but I just had to know that I could make a basic French pastry. These were light and delicious! I had already made the vanilla cream from Gordon’s book, so I used that for the filling. These were so light that it was easy to eat a half dozen and not even realize it. The whole batch was quickly eaten by the family, so I didn’t have to send any to the office with my spouse, which is what I usually do to offload the desserts that I make. I try not to keep them around so that we won’t feel compelled to finish them off. I am fattening his coworkers as a way of avoiding my own weight gain – LOL! Speaking of, I mentioned getting a bad cold right after Christmas. For the most part, I am feeling better, but I can’t shake the cough. I am now thinking of it as “coughing my way to a six pack in 6 short weeks” – LOL!
Here are some photos of my work prior to it being ravaged by the kids.