salmon curry for one

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I was on my own for dinner tonight, a situation that often leads to macaroni and cheese and/or tuna. Trying to be a bit more original, I tried something from 660 Curries that didn’t sound too difficult – a defrosted piece of salmon, braised in a sauce of coconut milk, curry leaves and balchao masala (a fiery, vinegary flavor paste that we made up some time ago and now keep in the freezer in tablespoon-size portions). I added some peas for greenery and dumped it over jasmine rice. Not thrilling, but not bad, and with a glass of wine and Netflix it did the job.

braised chicken with a lot of garlic

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I’ve made this recipe twice now. It’s really, really good, even if you use a lot less than the traditional 40 cloves of garlic, but when I make it it seems to come out very rich and salty, causing me to wake up at 2am with a certain digestive regret. Maybe if I went easier on the salt and did a better job of defatting the sauce. Or maybe just eat less of it. I dunno, did I mention it’s really, really good?

Braised Chicken with Forty Cloves a Lot  of Garlic
adapted from Use Real Butter, who adapted it from Fine Cooking

4 lbs. chicken, whole or pieces (whole thighs are nice)
kosher salt
black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp olive oil
a dozen or so cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 or 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
1 cup chicken broth
baguette for serving

Pat the chicken dry, season (both inside and out if whole chicken) with 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper, then sprinkle paprika over it. Squeeze the lemon juice into a vessel and reserve. If preparing a whole chicken, place the used lemon half in the cavity. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, place the chicken breast-side or meaty-side down and brown for about 2 minutes. Flip the chicken and brown another 2-3 minutes. Remove to a plate and drain off the oil in the pot (but keep the brown bits!). Return the pot to medium-high heat. Add the garlic cloves and the wine, stirring the bottom of the pot to deglaze the fond. Place the chicken in the pot on top of the garlic, with the breast-side or meaty-side up. Add the herbs and broth. Bring to a boil. Cover the pot and set the heat to low.

Braise 45 minutes to an hour, basting every 20 minutes, until done.  Move the chicken to a plate. Defat the sauce as much as possible, bring the drippings to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer, mashing the garlic into the gravy. Season the gravy with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Serve with the chicken (carved or as pieces) and toasted slices of baguette.

Afghani experiment

On Monday Jon made kofte kebabs, so to go with them I decided to try my hand at an Afghan-style basmati rice pilaf with carrots and raisins. The pilaf gets par-boiled, then drained and steamed in its residual water. A little dry, but very tasty, will try again!

To go with I adapted a recipe from Turquoise: a chopped lettuce salad with dill, scallion, and parsley mixed in. Liked this a lot.

a new Hungarian soup

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This was definitely one of those Must Make Again recipes. I’ve been making Hungarian Mushroom Soup (from the Moosewood cookbook) for years, but for some reason this week I decided to try a recipe for “goulash soup” from Barbara Kafka’s soup cookbook, which turned out to be vaguely similar – it has paprika and onions as the flavor base – but is very much its own thing.  I didn’t follow the recipe slavishly, but I more or less kept to the ingredient list, and it was incredible. It didn’t hurt that the stew beef I used was from our latest quarter-cow from Skagit Angus, tender and really beefy-flavored.

The original recipe called for coating the beef in flour before frying it, which I didn’t feel like doing. I thought about making a roux separately to thicken the soup, but it turned out not to be necessary  – the texture of the broth was thick and silky.

Hungarian Goulash Soup

adapted from Soup: A Way of Life by Barbara Kafka

  • 1 pound stew beef
  • kosher salt, maybe a tsp?
  • a couple spoonfuls of canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika and 2 tsp regular paprika
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 small yellow potatoes, peeled and diced
  • about 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seed
  • around a cup of dried egg noodles
  • sour cream

I salted the beef, then seared it in a soup pot in two batches with canola oil at high heat, then set it aside.

In the same pan, I added the butter, turned the heat to medium and sauteed the onion. Once it softened I added the paprika, then put the meat back in, mixed it all up, and added the stock. I brought it to a simmer, covered the pot, turned the heat to low and let it cook for an hour.

At this point I added the potato, garlic and bell pepper, recovered the pan and cooked for another fifteen minutes or so. Then I uncovered, added the caraway seeds and tomato plus some water to rinse out the can, brought the soup back to a simmer, and added the pasta. Once the noodles were done, I checked for seasoning, added a little salt, and served with sour cream.

Coupeville

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The day after Thanksgiving we went with friends on a field trip. The idea was to take the ferry to Port Townsend, eat fabulous clam chowder at Fins on the water, then come home, but things didn’t go quite as planned. First, the weather was disgusting and there were rumours at the ferry dock that the power was out in PT, and second, we discovered that Fins was closed for remodeling (which was not mentioned on the restaurant’s website or FB page. WTF, Fins?)

Stymied, we gave our ferry tickets away and headed back up the island to Coupeville, where we found a very satisfactory lunch at Christopher’s, a rather nice place I’d heard about but never actually been to before. Their clam chowder was declared acceptable, Jon had some really good fish and chips, and I had a bowl of linguine with perfectly fresh Penn Cove mussels (not entirely debearded, unfortunately, but still excellent). We watched people putting up holiday lights in the rain, checked out a local arts and crafts fair, then walked around the downtown and waterfront before heading home.

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Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving this year had almost all the usual suspects: perfectly brined turkey and very excellent stuffing by my parents, plus mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts salad, two kinds of cranberry sauce, smoked salmon and cream cheese with rye crackers, pumpkin pie and pecan pie, and spiced Old Fashioned cocktails. The only thing missing was the creamed spinach, but we’ll make that for ourselves very soon.

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Leftovers

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Leftover braised lamb with shell beans from Nell Thorn, warmed up with leftover roasted beets and sweet potatoes from our dinner on Thursday, with quick couscous and a glass of Spanish garnatxa. A great lunch after a morning working in the garden.

more blue cheese dressing

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We have gone sort of gaga for blue cheese dressing ever since I learned how simple it was to make (I blame Hopworks in Portland for first really converting me to the idea, with their big delicious chunks of Rogue Blue). Last night’s dinner was our third meal using the steak from our anniversary (the second and fourth were sandwiches) – we just sliced the steak super thin and piled it on top of butter lettuce tossed with a buttermilk-white wine vinegar-stinky gorgonzola dressing. This time I got the quantity exactly right, and we heaped the salad into really big bowls and ate in front of the television. Perfect.

Anniversary

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Yesterday was our 20th anniversary. Jon has class in the mornings during the week, so we didn’t go anywhere for the official day, but we had a good time. First we got some lunch at Slough Food, sitting out in the garden with our dog and a glass of wine.

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After that we stopped by the Taylor Shellfish farmstand for some oysters, then came home and sat on our own patio with potato chips and cocktails before starting to shuck. The weather’s been weirdly hot and dry, but it was perfect in the shade under the deck.

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Jon had picked up a couple of gorgeous ribeye steaks at Silvana Meats. He grilled them, using indirect heat and applewood smoke to give them some extra flavor. I picked our first tomatoes and zucchini and made a sort of caponata salad-y thing, mixing grilled zucchini chunks with fresh tomato, parsley, basil, capers and red wine vinegar.

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We had a little blue cheese on hand, so I sprinkled some on the steaks.

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While we were in Santa Cruz my brothers-in-law bought us a few bottles of Odonata wine as an anniversary present, so we opened the petite sirah for this. Amazing wine, and it was beautiful with the smoky steaks and vinegary salad. It was a good celebration.