February 28, 2011
It was hot and sour
Because it was just so good last time, Dooley and Doolia made hot and sour soup again. And this time, everyone pitched in to help out. Maybe it's just my imagination, but it tasted like there was twice as much love in every bowl. This is now officially a family favorite.
February 27, 2011
Planning our week's menu
Yesterday we bought enough ingredients to make two full weeks' worth of dinners. So today we put up a whiteboard in the kitchen and planned out our week's menu. We included the page number from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook so that we can rip right into cooking when I get home from work each day.
So you want to know what's on the schedule?
Monday: Hot and Sour Soup
Tuesday: Bowtie pasta with mushrooms
Wednesday: Pizza night (instead of Fridays since I have orchestra and not enough time to cook)
Thursday: Hearty Potato Leek Soup
Friday: Shrimp Scampi over egg noodles
Saturday: Chicken Francese
Sunday: Glazed roast ham and scalloped potatoes
Sounds good, doesn't it!
February 26, 2011
Back to the kitchen
Dooley came home from another 8-day hospital stay Tuesday evening, too late to cook together. Then Doolia had orchestra Wednesday, a UM Women's Basketball game on Thursday evening, pizza night on Friday, so we didn't really get cooking again until today (Saturday).
We went shopping for a dutch oven and groceries in the morning. Then we used that new dutch oven to make the "Simple Pot Roast" recipe from our beloved cookbook, The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook.
This time we cooked the roast for the specified time and, oh my, was it tender and savory! (See my earlier post about the Hungarian Beef Stew to find out what happens when you don't!)
Dooley boiled up some redskin potatoes to go along with the roast and everyone was going "MMMMMMmmmmm" as we ate. SOoooooo good! It's nice to have Dooley home again. Hopefully this time for keeps.
February 18, 2011
Back to US-ER
Dooley went back in the hospital on Feb 15. He had to stop taking the medicine that effected his pretty miraculous recovery, because he developed a severe tremor. So they took him off that and started a new med, which after two weeks was not working at all and he was back to square one. Hopefully they'll get him fixed up quick and he will come back home soon so we can continue our quest.
I made mushroom soup again, to cheer myself up. I feel drained of energy--like I've been thru the ringer again. But I'm keeping up my activities--DCO rehearsal, playing quartets with friends, and striving to run a mile without stopping. So I have diversions to keep my mind off all that other stuff.
February 14, 2011
Dooley down a peg, but good eatin' anyway!
Dooley spent the whole past weekend in bed, sick. It brought back memories of the bad old days when he spent 24 hours a day in bed. I told him that I understand that he'll get sick from time to time, but that he's on notice. He's not allowed to sink back into that bad old reclusive behavior.
So I cooked on my own this weekend. On Saturday I made Butternut Squash Risotto from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. I had had a 2-1/2 lb butternut squash sitting on my kitchen counter for the past month or more, but didn't want to make another batch of soup from it. So with Dooley out of commission, I decided to make something he wouldn't want. I was short on the dry white cooking wine called for in the recipe, so I made up the difference with red cooking wine. It tinted the rice pink, but added a complexity of flavor that was surprising. With the sweet squash and the tang of the wine, the risotto was too good. I found it hard to stop eating it. It's also VERY filling.
On Sunday, I baked some more multi-grain bread from the Test Kitchen cookbook. I had run out of all-purpose flour and honey, so I substituted White Whole Wheat flour and Barley Malt Syrup, both of which I had in my cupboard. The bread didn't rise as much as normal, so it's a little dense, but still so flavorful and tender! I don't think I'll ever buy another loaf of multi-grain bread. This is just too much fun!
Sunday evening, I levered Dooley out of bed to make meatloaf together. This recipe calls for "meat loaf mix", which, to my surprise, was available at Kroger. It's a mixture of ground beef, pork, and lamb. A couple things went a little wrong--first, the juices bubbled up over the side of the loaf pan and onto the burner on the bottom of the oven. That filled our condo with smoke. But it was a mild day outside, so we opened some windows and put a fan up to exhaust the smoke outdoors. And then it took 40 minutes longer than the cookbook said it would for the meat to get up to 160 degrees internal temperature. But the topping/sauce was fantastic, and the meat filled with flavor and great texture.
After the meatloaf came out of the oven, I popped in the onion rings that I had prepped while the meat roasted. When I turned the oven up to 450 all the drippings on the bottom of the oven made billows of smoke all over again. We had to open the windows and use the big box fan to exhaust the smoke. But these baked up quick, and by the time the meatloaf had rested the 20 minutes recommended, the onion rings were hot and ready to eat. I don't think I'll be doing the onion rings again, though. Way too much fussy prep work. Maybe if someone want to help with it....
February 09, 2011
Orchestra Night: Dooley cooks alone
Doolia (that's me) has orchestra tonight; I play viola with the Dexter Community Orchestra, and I have to leave for rehearsal by 6:30. Dooley offered to make dinner for me tonight. Of course I accepted.
Except for a few smoky minutes after he overtoasted the buns, the operation went smoothly and we enjoyed some terrific, juicy cheeseburgers, and Dooley was understandably proud.
It looks like Dooley's replacement medication seems to be working. The tremors are almost entirely gone, and his mood is better again. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this one works as well as the last one without such horrible side-effects.
February 08, 2011
Shrimp Scampi at the end of a tough day
Dooley is not doing so well today. His doctor took him off the drug that had effected a miraculous change in his mood because he had developed a severe tremor similar to Parkinson's. It's a well known side-effect of this drug. So he's off that and feeling down. He started a new med and I can tell that he's worried it won't work as well as the first one.
But the Dooley and Doolia team triumphed with a delicious dinner, a new recipe this time, from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook: Shrimp Scampi. Oh my, it was FANTASTIC!!! If I had known how easy this dish is to prepare, we would have eaten it every week. So many lost years where we could have been eating like kings. But looking to the future, we have so many delectable meals to look forward to!!
Dooley finds comfort in the familiar and wanted to remake one of the terrific meals that we'd already done. But I wanted to progress in our quest of making (almost) every recipe in the book. Since Dooley loves shrimp, and we had it in the freezer from last week's shopping trip, he agreed to try it.
Although we didn't start prep until our eldest daughter got home from work at 8:30 pm per her request, everything was ready to eat by 9. How's that for fast?! And it was tangy, buttery, and garlicky. Oooh yeah, baby!
I also baked two more loaves of the multigrain bread. Last week when we were going to make a double batch, not realizing that each batch makes TWO 1 pound loaves, we had cooked up twice the recipe of the multigrain hot cereal. So I had frozen that. It defrosted well, and I mixed everything up according to the recipe but I think there might have been hot spots in the cereal because it didn't rise as much as last time. So the loaves are smaller and more dense, but still delicious. I'm loving this!
Chix and Dumplings Redux
Dooley and Doolia tried the chicken and dumplings recipe again from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. Besides the fact that we burned the first attempt, Dooley just doesn't like leg meat. So this time we bought some plump Amish boneless skinless chix breasts (2.5 lbs) and made the recipe again, with that minor substitution. It turned out SO good! We think we want to dilute the soup a little more next time too--it cooks so long that it reduces to a thick gravy texture. We'd prefer a thinner gravy.
Our strategy, of using cooking to help Dooley recover, is working. We spend hours together cooking, talking, laughing, hugging, and then eating. We are both seeing huge improvements in his mood, and for me, it actually feels like I'm married again. Feels good.
February 03, 2011
Although we don't make cakes very often, Dooley and Doolia just HAD to make the Coconut cake from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. It looked so tender and creamy.
First we attempted to toast the sweetened shredded coconut--and it burned. So we lowered the oven temp and this time found that it was overdone on the bottom but was still snowy white on the top after 3 minutes. Overdone but not burnt. So we said that was good enough.
Then we prepared the cake, following every instruction very carefully. We ended up with two gorgeous cake layers and made the mellow buttercream frosting. Icing the cake was easy because it didn't have to look perfectly smooth--we coated it with the toasted coconut and it was really beautiful! And it's beauty doesn't hold a candle to its flavor. Wow, this recipe is worth the price of the book.
February 02, 2011
Dooley & Doolia make classic hamburgers
The weather outside is frightful and I stayed home from work. The blizzard is still blizzarding, the roads are treacherous and the winds are too brutal to risk venturing outside.
For breakfast, Dooley makes deluxe scrambled eggs, which we eat with toast made from Saturday's multigrain bread. For a man who never cooked anything before the age of 50, he is getting really confident cooking eggs. For lunch, we eat leftover cream of mushroom soup and simple salads of spring greens.
For dinner, we're cooking classic hamburgers from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. We were going to make oven baked onion rings, but realized we were lacking the kettle-cooked potato chips. So no onion rings tonight.
When we did our shopping on Friday, we had searched in vain for boneless beef short ribs at the two largest supermarkets; neither store had them. So we're substituting regular ground chuck for the short ribs. And although we couldn't find sirloin tips specified in the recipe, either, we did buy a beautiful beef sirloin steak.
The recipe recommends you prepare the meat in a food processor, but since we have a grinder attachment for our Kitchenaid Ultra Power mixer, we set that up and grind the meats together and we now have a fluffy mix of ground chuck and sirloin.
Dooley toasts the kaiser rolls we purchased, then prepares the pan for the burgers. I whip up the classic burger sauce from the cookbook. The burgers are done within 5 minutes, and we all sink our teeth into them. I've had a lot of burgers in my life, and these are some of the best ever! Sorry Blimpy Burgers, sorry Sidetrack, sorry Stiver's. Our burgers are better!
February 01, 2011
Today there's a blizzard flinging itself across Michigan and 29 other states, and Dooley and I are snug at home, cooking from our favorite cookbook, The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, and making Cream of Mushroom Soup together. We're substituting dried Portabello mushrooms for dried Porcinis, because that's what we have in our cupboard. And rather than cutting all two pounds of fresh white mushrooms with a knife, we're using our sturdy egg slicer. You can slice a whole large mushroom in one second. So the prep is going much quicker than we expected.
Another modification we are making is to use our stick blender rather than putting the hot soup into a traditional blender. I have some unpleasant memories of a black bean soup that I tried blending in the regular blender a few years ago. The heat of the soup blew the lid off the blender even though I had my hand on the top. And it splattered all over my walls and ceiling! That was a nightmare to clean up. I'm just lucky not to have been burned. But it "learnt me a lesson" and I'm a big proponent of stick blenders now. Just blend it right in the big pot on the stove!
Anyway, the soup turned out full of flavor, a pleasant texture, and really good. We can't wait to make that one again. We had simple salads of spring greens and dressing along with the fabulous soup. What a wonderful way to hunker down together during a blizzard!