July 07, 2006

Yay Fourth

I got a nice four day weekend fourth and didn't get much productive done, but I got to unwind a bit (i.e. play games), hang out with Emily, and cook.

Saturday, I made Alton Brown's Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese recipe. It is quite quick, the sauce comes together in the time it takes to make the pasta. The sauce is nice and creamy, but it didn't turn out so well for us because I used a 2-yr cheddar, which was way too intense for this dish. (We toned it down a little with sour cream, but it wasn't enough.) That evening Emily and I went to Andalu - we got a fondue with apples and asian pears, tuna tacos, and rosemary braised lamb cheeks with parmesan mashed potatoes. It was all good, they had to bring us more bread so we could finish the fondue, the tacos were cute (basically a tuna ceviche on a tiny fried taco shell with some melted yellow cheese - a bit sweet, and I might loose or change the cheese if I did it myself), and the lamb was very tender.

Sunday, I rendered some pork fat into lard for use in mexican dishes. (Rick Bayless says homemade is better, so I figure why not.) Then, for dinner, I made the peach and bourbon pork chop recipe that Carmen usually makes, per Emily's request. (Which is high praise, given that she hasn't been a fan of pork chops in the past and doesn't like mustard.) One modification is necessary: the pork chops should be cut to 1.5", not the 3/4" specified in the recipe. Chops off of the ends are better for braising, according to various web sites. I cooked it in an uncovered french oven with a thermometer set to 145 and it turned out well. (I also made the mayonnaise myself - it's easy and better than the stuff that comes in jars.)

On Monday I made Fajitas again. I'll have to write up the recipe, since it was improvised (I also use it for steak enchiladas).

For the fourth, we had a "BBQ". We decided to go more traditional, so I got some ground beef, hotdogs, and bockwurst from Drewes Brothers. Carmen mentioned the orange soy ribs, so I picked up a half rack of babyback ribs, and I also got a chicken because I wanted to make another batch of the red mole sauce.

I started on the mole sauce (poaching a chicken, toasting spices and dried peppers, and roasting tomatoes and bread) a little before lunch. For lunch, I boiled some spinach ravioli from Lucca and threw together a sauce with parmesan, white wine, garlic, and butter. (I also added some cream, but I'd gotten the butter to emulsify in the wine, so it wasn't necessary.) I do like the sauce, I think I'll do some fettucini with it sometime. Afterwards, Emily and I made some white sangria from the leftover wine (a kabinett riesling), and I finished the mole. I then took a break to play Oblivion.

For dinner, I used a grill pan across two burners of the gas stove. I think this was the first time that I'd actually cooked hamburgers, but they turned out well (or medium well :). I mixed a little onion and garlic in the beef, seasoned it, and grilled the patties, taking care not to press them. (That causes them to cook faster, but dries them and removes all the flavor.) We also had bockwurst, a veal/pork sausage with a little herby goodness, and hotdogs for the less adventurous. Unfortunately, I managed to burn Carmen and myself when I handed her a plate that had been sitting next to the stove. The side I was holding was cool, but the other side had been close to the stove and had gotten very hot. (She tossed the plate onto the empty part of the stove, and I instinctively grabbed it, not realizing how hot it was. We both have second degree burns on our hands.)


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