Monday, December 30, 2013

I have descended into full blown cooking nerd mode. (Saffron-Scented Halibut)

I spent most of high school and college avoiding chemistry.  Then I got into cooking.  My husband bought me an immersion circulator for Christmas!  I didn't know that there was a model that could hook on to an ordinary large pot instead of a giant plastic tub.  It looks more like lab equipment than a cooking tool. I've always been curious about cooking with one because I watch way too much Iron Chef America.  The Anovo immersion circulator is very easy to use.  I'm using it here with a pasta pot and some tin foil. One of the first things I wanted to try out was fish.  This is saffron-scented halibut with tomato compute and zucchini.  It was fantastic!  The zucchini was cooked through, yet still crunchy instead of mushy and gross.  The tomatoes had the right amount of softness.  The fish was perfectly cooked.  It was moist, flaky, and evenly cooked.  The saffron sauce had the right amount of zing from the oranges but it didn't overpower the flavor of the fish.  This dish did involve a good bit of prep work but total cooking time for everything was 17 minutes.

To make the meal, I attached the immersion circulator to my pasta pot, set it for 140 degrees F through its very simple touch screen interface, and covered the pot with tin foil.  The instruction manual emphasized that covering the pot is necessary and suggested tin foil if a special lid wasn't available.

I feel a bit like a mad scientist.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Big White Chocolate, Almond, and Cranberry Cookies

This recipe means it: these cookies are big!  1/4 cup of dough for each cookie.  Even though they contain enough butter and sugar to stop your heart, they are amazingly good.  So, break out your colored Kitchenaid mixer that you got for your wedding and use once a year because these cookies are worth it! This recipe was a bit out of my comfort zone because it contained more than five ingredients.  It also reminded me that baking soda is actually used in cooking instead of only for being left in the back of my fridge for several months as a deodorizer.  ("Replace after three months"? I think David Tennant was still The Doctor when I put mine in there).

Tablespoon added for scale.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Chicken with Olives and Oranges

About a year before I got into cooking, my mom got me three books with the best recipes from Bon Appetit magazine.  One of the recipes I made a lot was chicken with olives and oranges from the January 2005 issue.  The first few times, it was actually pretty bland and my attempts to make it more flavorful didn't exactly work.  So I took it out of my regular rotation and hadn't made it in years.  Back in May when I was cleaning out my cookbook army, I found the Bon Appeitit book and decided to try it again.  This time, I added some new tweaks and the result was a pretty tasty meal.  That said, I should have served it with a salad or something.  By itself it's not a large amount of food.

The trick to improving the magazine's recipe was to add a bit of lemon juice and some extra olives.  I halved the recipe to make it for two people but didn't halve the amount of olives.  I also seasoned the chicken with more black pepper than usual.  The result was a tangy, salty (in a good way, it wasn't overkill) chicken dish that is relatively healthy.  The recipe below is heavily adapted from the original.

Spicy Sausage Ragu in the Slow Cooker

I'm back from falling off the face of the earth!  I was super pregnant at the time of my last post.  As a result of having a new baby around, most of my dishes over the last two months have been of the "what can we make really, really fast?" variety.  Most of them were tried and true quick favorites.  We also had a freezer full of pre-made food donated by friends and family, which is *awesome,* especially during the first few weeks when painkillers and coffee are food groups.

Since I'm on maternity leave, I decided to experiment with my slow cooker.  I bought a copy of The Italian Slow Cooker and used a recipe from it for the first time last week.  Generally, if the first recipe I try from a new book in my cookbook army isn't very good, it takes a long time for me to use the book again, I guess I'm judgy that way.  The Spicy Sausage Ragu was a huge success!! Not only did my husband and I love it, there was enough left to freeze!

It doesn't look pretty, but trust me it tastes fantastic!!


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