Category Archives: Home Meals

“Five Years, That’s All We’ve Got”

Well, that was fast…

I started posting these notes five years ago today, and 1,645 postings later, I’m still at it. Today I took a look at some of the items I ran during my first few weeks online.

Some Things Haven’t Changed


Music Videos

Here’s the first video I ever posted: “70 Million”, by the Paris-based, Franco-American band Hold Your Horses.

It was complemented by another video about the inspirations for the images in the “70 Million” video. Try playing them simultaneously.

Still posting music, and still love this one.


Saying Goodbye to Breaking Bad

Was it really five years ago? For me, Breaking Bad was the Greatest Series Ever, and I still post about it at the drop of a pork pie hat.

No change; still obsessed.


Anglophilia

Rule Britania.

Dorothy Parker said she hated to talk to people from the UK, because they made her feel like she should be carrying a papoose on her back. I, on the other hand, am a pushover for anything said in one of the 684 recognized British accents.

And I love British comedy. Here’s Chris Turner, performing at The Glee Club, Cardiff:

Still a passionate Anglophile, still posting a disproportionate number of entries about the UK, even though Britain’s future looks grim, because of the self-inflicted damage resulting from Brexit. But then, it’s probably inappropriate for an American to criticize Brexit, since that was only the second most idiotic electoral result of 2016.


Restaurant Week

Summer Restaurant Week 2013 was what gave me the incentive to start blogging, and gave me the material I needed to get through the first few weeks.

Still at it. Posting Summer Restaurant Week 2018 pictures over the next two weeks.

 Some Things Have Changed, Thank God


On the left, the first Home Cooking picture I ever posted, long before my self-improvement Cookery Project started in 2016. On the right, the most recent Home Cooking picture

2013’s Poached Halibut and Asparagus with Basil-Tarragon Sauce vs 2018’s Cajun Chicken and Rice

I remember being so proud of the halibut, because I’d never poached fish before that.

I think my skill set and style have improved since then.


Much more to come in the next five years!

Advertisements

2018 Cookery Project — Cajun Chicken and Rice

Cajun Chicken and Rice

Cajun Chicken and Rice

I got the recipe for Cajun Chicken and Rice from a new-to-me website called Host the Toast, and I was elated by the results. It’s a one-pot meal that looked and tasted like New Orleans!

Most of the times I’ve cooked chicken dishes, I’ve used boneless, skinless chicken breasts. This time, though, I tried boneless, skinless thighs. I rubbed a lot of Cajun seasoning over the chicken thighs and cooked them until they began to blacken, then removed them from the skillet.

After that, I sauteed garlic, onion, celery, bell pepper, and andouille sausage—variously chopped, diced, sliced, and minced— in the pan, until they were soft. Here’s the nifty part: I added chicken stock and uncooked brown long grain rice, put a lid on the pan and simmered it for half an hour, until the rice was cooked. Didn’t know you could do that.

All that was left to do was return the chicken thighs to the pan for reheating, and serve.

A happy result. As I said, the finished dish actually tasted like New Orleans.


Rating

★ 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.

2018 Cookery Project — Seared Duck Breast with Cherries and Cognac Sauce

Seared Duck Breast with Cherries and Cognac Sauce

Seared Duck Breast with Cherries and Cognac Sauce

In addition to the kindness of strangers, you can always rely on the recipes that have won four-star reviews from the readers of Epicurious. This one, for Seared Duck Breast with Cherries and Cognac Sauce, maintained that high standard.

Despite my well-documented obsession with Duck Confit, I’d never actually cooked any kind of duck dish before this. It’s not the same as cooking chicken or turkey. Duck is a much more fatty bird, and one of the first things to do when cooking it is to score the skin in a diamond pattern, which helps in rendering some of the fat. After doing that, I cooked the duck in a stove top skillet with a little butter.

The sauce made the dish memorable. After draining most of the skillet drippings, I sautéed a chopped shallot, then added chicken broth, honey, butter, pitted cherry halves—which gave me a chance to use my nifty little cherry-pitting device for the first time—and cognac.* I cooked it down to a glaze, plated it with fanned slices of the duck breasts, and served.

I liked the way it looked, with a red, pink, and brown colour combination. Tasted good, too.


*The recipe called for port, but cognac is what I had on hand. Worked fine.


Rating

★ 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.

2018 Cookery Project — Bastille Day Cheesecake

2018 Bastille Day Cheesecake

2018 Bastille Day Cheesecake

When I made my first successful Bastille Day Cheesecake in 2016,  I didn’t plan on turning it into an annual tradition, but it’s certainly a tradition that I’ve willingly embraced. I mean, I now have a legitimate, time-honoured obligation to make a cheesecake every July. How could anyone shirk a responsibility like that?

It’s not as if I’m just pampering myself by making one of my favourite desserts. No. I’m doing it for you, my readers, who have come to expect it.

I just hope you’re properly appreciative and grateful.


The Ghosts of Cheesecakes Past

The Bastille Day Cheesecakes from 2016 and 2017


In all of recorded history, no cheesecake has ever been rated less than four stars.

★ 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.

2018 Cookery Project — First-Half Review

Some of the meals I made in the first half of 2018.  Click on any picture to launch a full-screen slide show view:

2018 Cookery Project — Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks in Red Wine

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks in Red Wine

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks in Red Wine

So here we are, halfway through the 2018 Cookery Project. The final dish for this segment is Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks in Red Wine. Lots of red wine—a full 750 ml bottle of Garnacha de Fuego. The recipe comes from a site called Genius Kitchen, but there was no admissions exam, so I figured I could sneak by.

You brown the lamb shanks in a big frying pan, then put them in a lidded casserole dish to keep warm. Then you put chopped carrots, onions, and garlic in the pan, add some rosemary and bay leaves, and cook them long enough to get that slightly glazed, caramelized look. That’s when you add the red wine, some beef stock, and brown sugar. Bringing it to a low boil, and pour it over the lamb shanks in the casserole dish.

I cooked it for three hours at 325°. The meat just fell off the bone, which is exactly what it was supposed to do.

Not a classic meal, but good enough.


Rating

★ 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.

2018 Cookery Project — Parsnip Gratin with Gruyère and Thyme

Parsnip Gratin with Gruyère and Thyme

Parsnip Gratin with Gruyere and Thyme

Lately I’ve been sampling James Peterson’s book, Vegetables, reading up on all the things I don’t know about turnips and rutabagas and bok choy. Somebody must use them, because even the sadly understocked Safeway near my condo, which routinely runs out of exotic products like milk and ground beef, always seems to have them in stock. But they’ve never been part of my repertoire.

Same with parsnips. I’m sure I’ve had parsnip purée, but I’ve never cooked with them myself, until now. I wanted to try something new, and I found a recipe for Parsnip Gratin with Gruyère and Thyme at Atelier Christine

Peterson describes the taste of a parsnip as being somewhere between a carrot and a potato, and I think that’s right on the money. My Parsnip Gratin, which required a lot of peeling and chopping and grating, tasted very much like good old scalloped potatoes. It was fine, but considering how much effort went into it, I was hoping for something more exciting.


Rating

★ 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.