Category Archives: 2017 Cookery Project

2017 Cookery Project — Baked Chicken, Sausage, and Brussels Sprouts

Baked Chicken, Sausage, and Brussels Sprouts

Baked Chicken, Sausage, and Brussels Sprouts

There’s a rumour going around that some people don’t like Brussels sprouts.

I’ve been unable to personally verify the rumour, since I make it a habit to associate only with people of impeccable taste (and no active arrest warrants.) But if it’s true, I can only suggest that those poor unfortunates seek help before it is too late.

I love Brussels sprouts, so I was eager to try a recipe for Baked Chicken, Sausage, and Brussels Sprouts that I found on Nerds with Knives. Part of the attraction was that the meal could be cooked on a single baking tray.

In addition to the three ingredients already mentioned, the recipe called for lots of shallots—always a good sign—and garlic, Dijon mustard, honey, and Worcestershire sauce, all of which I keep in stock. I added fresh rosemary and a single lemon to my shopping list.

Here’s where I get to vent: Recipes always understate the amount of prep time. The published estimate of preparation time for this dish was 20 minutes.

The Brussels sprouts had to be cleaned and halved, the chicken washed and cut into chunks, and the sausages chopped into two-inch segments. The shallots had to be peeled and quartered, and the garlic had to be peeled and minced. The liquids had to be measured, poured, and whisked. The rosemary needles had to be chopped, and the lemon had to be cut into thin slices.

Granted, my knife skills leave a lot to be desired, mainly because I’m terrified of cutting off a useful body part, but there was no way in the world that I could do all that in less time than it takes to get through to customer assistance at the DC tax office on a good day.

So prep took about 40 minutes.

But the meal turned out really well.


★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.

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2017 Cookery Project — Bulgogi

Bulgogi

Bulgogi

Rice and beef, starch and protein. That looks pretty bland and uncomplicated, doesn’t it? Looks are deceiving.

The surprise comes when you taste the meat. It’s not just beef, it’s Bulgogi.

Bulgogi originated in what is now North Korea. At the end of World War II, refugees from the north brought it south. In South Korea, it’s now practically the national dish.

I used a recipe from Bon Appétit. The key to bulgogi’s taste is the marinade, which is a combination of soy sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, light brown sugar, toasted sesame oil, grated garlic, grated peeled ginger, and…grated pear? That puzzled me, so I researched it. Turns out that grated pear is a meat tenderizer, which allows you to use a cheaper cut of beef—flank steak, hanger steak, whatever—in the bulgogi.

The recipe said to let the steak marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature, or eight hours in the refrigerator. I let it sit overnight.

I removed the thin slices of beef from the marinade and cooked them undisturbed in a single layer in a hot skillet for a minute, then stirred them occasionally, until they were brown on all sides.

The marinade’s unlikely combination of sweet and spicy and hot and cool ingredients gives the finished dish a unique and, well, addicting taste. I made bulgogi twice in one week.


This is sort of a cheat, because I’d never post a low-rated dish unless it went spectacularly, memorably wrong. The boldface entry is my evaluation of the current dish.

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.

2017 Cookery Project — Coquilles Saint-Jacques

Coquilles Saint-Jacques

Coquilles Saint-Jacques

I’m still feeling a little guilty about the collapse of my plan to make September a month dedicated to French Bistro Cooking. And here it is October.

Oh, well…better late, and all that.

Today’s lunch was Coquilles Saint-Jacques. I got the recipe from The Bistro Cookbook, which, mysteriously, seems to have no author. It was published by a company in Bath, UK, which makes me think that Jane Austen must have had something to do with it, but that’s just speculation.

Despite its murky origins, the photography in the book is first-rate, and the recipes are clearly written and easy to follow. For the Coquilles Saint-Jacques, I browned minced garlic and breadcrumbs in butter, then kept them warm in the oven. The scallops got two minutes on each side at medium-high heat, which some would say was slightly over-cooking them, but they were big sea scallops.

Served with parsley and sliced lemons. Pretty good!


This is sort of a cheat, because I’d never post a low-rated dish unless it went spectacularly, memorably wrong. The boldface entry is my evaluation of the current dish.

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.

2017 Cookery Project — Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

I’d planned to dedicate September to working on Mastering the Art of French (Bistro) Cooking.

That didn’t happen.

I’ve spent very little time in the kitchen this month, preferring to loll around watching Nordic Noir television shows and old episodes of The IT Crowd all day. What time I’ve spent on food preparation has been indiscriminate and unfocused. One of the few memorable new dishes I made this month is the Shrimp Fra Diavolo pictured above.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo is an Italian-American dish, like spaghetti and meatballs. It originated in the United States, but a list of the ingredients–olive oil red pepper flakes, garlic, oregano, white wine, San Marzano tomatoes, basil–certainly reads like what you’d find by opening Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and picking a recipe at random.

For the pasta, I used Ronzoni Supergreens, an “enriched pasta with 5 green vegetables,” which I chose entirely because of its green colour. That combination of red sauce and green pasta would make for a nice seasonal side dish, if it were December (which it isn’t) and if I made a big deal of Christmas (which I don’t).

The next day, I added more crushed tomatoes, water, and a little white wine to the leftovers, and wound up with a first-rate soup.


I’ve decided to start rating these experiments on a five-star scale, The boldface entry is my evaluation of the current dish.

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.

2017 Cookery Project — Sausage, Potato, and Mushroom Roast

Sausage, Potato, and Mushroom Roast

Sausage, Potato, and Mushroom Roast

Colourful, isn’t it? The recipe I used to make this Sausage, Potato, and Mushroom Roast came from Serious Eats.

I cut some new potatoes into bite-sized chunks, put them in a baking dish, doused them with olive oil, and roasted them in the oven for 30 minutes. Then I added sliced mushrooms, some sun-dried tomatoes, and sweet Italian sausages. When the potatoes were done, about 30 minutes later, I sprinkled cilantro over the top and served the dish with a bit of Dijon mustard for dipping.

A nice, easy meal.


I’ve decided to start rating these experiments on a five-star scale, The boldface entry is my evaluation of the current dish.

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.

2017 Cookery Project — Balsamic Glazed Salmon and Herb Roasted Potatoes

Balsamic Glazed Salmon and Herb Roasted Potatoes

Balsamic Glazed Salmon and Herb Roasted Potatoes

The Balsamic Glazed Salmon recipe came from good old reliable Cooking Classy. The glaze combined balsamic vinegar, white wine, honey, Dijon mustard, rosemary, and garlic,* cooked down to a syruppy (Syrup-py? Syrupy? Syrup-like? Viscous? Whatever.) consistency, and spooned over the finished salmon. Simple.

Making the Herb Roasted Potatoes, from a Serious Eats article modestly titled “How to Roast the Best Potatoes of Your Life,” was more complicated.

I peeled the potatoes and cut them into large cubes, which I boiled in water, with salt and baking soda. While the potatoes were boiling I infused olive oil with—you’ll never guess—minced rosemary and garlic. After the potatoes had boiled for 10 minutes, I drained them, let the steam for a bit, and then put them in a plastic container and coated them with the infused olive oil. In adding the olive oil, I used a strainer, and reserved the garlic and rosemary for later.

I then baked the potatoes for 45 minutes, flipping them every once in a while. When they were done, I put them in a bowl and mixed in the reserved garlic and rosemary. I finished with Maldon Sea Salt flakes, and they were ready to go.


I’ve decided to start rating these experiments on a five-star scale, The boldface entry is my evaluation of the current dish.

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.

Of course, this whole ratings scheme is sort of a cheat, because I only post notes about experiments that have been successful. Might have to re-think the whole thing.


*It occurs to me that almost everything I cook these days combines balsamic vinegar, white wine, honey, Dijon mustard, rosemary, and garlic. Add chocolate, salt, shallots, and raspberries, and you’ve got my 10 Basic Food Groups.

2017 Cookery Project — Bastille Day Cheesecake

Bastille Day Cheesecake

Bastille Day Cheesecake

The day that started with a low-effort Bastille Day Breakfast ended with a much more complex Bastille Day Cheesecake.

Most of the work took place the night before, because the cheesecake needed an overnight stay in the refrigerator to set properly. I used the same recipe as last year, and this time around, I managed to avoid the disaster that made the 2016 cheesecake’s surface look like it had been hit by a magnitude 4.7 earthquake.


2016 Bastille Day Cheesecake

2016 Bastille Day Cheesecake

Note how I cleverly disguised much of the damage to the 2016 Bastille Day Cheesecake by hiding it under a seemingly random scattering of blueberries and raspberries.


Anyhow, both last year’s cheesecake and this year’s tasted….

Well, put it this way: Have you ever heard anyone claim that a piece of cheesecake was anything less that great? By definition, cheesecake always tastes wonderful.


I’ve decided to start rating these experiments on a five-star scale, The boldface entry is my evaluation of the current dish.

★ Disaster. Inedible. Poisoned the cat.
★★ OK, but once is enough.
★★★ Mixed results. Something went wrong, but might try this again.
★★★★ Good, but lacks that special something.
★★★★★ Excellent. Goes into my “This is a winner” file.