Friday, November 30, 2007

Roast Chicken

The recipe for this roast chicken is Thomas Keller's. If you don't know who Thomas Keller is, look up The French Laundry.

At Albertson's, I could only find 3-4 pound chickens. What the heck? Where are my hormone-injected, crazy steroid-taking 7 pound chickens?

Oh well, the recipe calls for a 3 pound chicken anyways, and it works best with smaller chickens because the oven stays at 450 degrees the whole time. Try that with a bigger chicken, and you'll have a dry, burnt outer layer while the insides are still uncooked.

I wanted to make a whole dinner, so I made two sides--mashed potatoes, and green beans with bacon.

Of course, the green beans were sautéed in bacon fat.

Here's the chicken out of the oven, and there's a nice, crispy skin! If you look at the wings, you might be able to see that I tucked them back, which is recommended. I also wanted to tie up the legs (aka truss the bird), but uh...I still don't have floss/kitchen twine.

You can see that I set it on a mirepoix, so that it doesn't end up sitting in its own juices. Why don't you want it sitting in its own juices? Well, unless you like crispy chicken on the top and a soggy chicken on the bottom...

Also, the mirepoix has another purpose besides lifting the chicken off the bottom of the pan--it flavors the chicken juice, which makes for a great chicken gravy.

The plating: Roast chicken, green beans and bacon, mashed potatoes with chicken gravy.

Pizza--a success!

I tried making pizza again. This time, however, I didn't stretch out the dough as much, since the doughball from Trader Joe's is pretty small. How'd it turn out? Pretty good!

Cheese came out slightly burnt, that even a bad thing? Sure didn't taste like it.

There really wasn't a lot of dough though...instead of stretching it out to 16", I stretched it out to about 10". The crust wasn't floppy anymore, but it was still really thin.

I guess next time, I'll buy two dough balls...or make my own.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A failure...and thanksgiving.

So I tried making pizza on Wednesday, right before I headed home for the thanksgiving weekend.

I tried.

The dough was premade and bought from Trader Joe's. I actually had to clean the counter, flour it, and "roll" out the dough. I'd feel pro if it weren't for the fact that the dough was premade.

I used the mozzarella balls on the left earlier on the chicken roulades, and I bought the mozzarella on the right specifically for the pizza. Might as well use up the tiny mozzarella balls on the pizza too (although they were a pain to cut).

Tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt and pepper. I lack herbs. Also, the dough was an herb dough, so I figure it's ok this time. Not pictured: placing sliced mozzarella and pepperoni on the pizza.

The final product? I didn't take pictures. I refused to take pictures. It looked like a pizza, and tasted like a pizza, but it sure didn't behave like one--the crust was EXTREMELY floppy. I probably spread out the dough too much, because my pan is 16". Maybe prebaking for a bit would help. Maybe next time, eh?

Oh, and thanksgiving, etc.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Smothered Pork Chops...again

Hey, the last time I made this was like 3 months ago.

This time, I'm going to try something a bit different--I like reading through recipes with step-by-step pictures, because it's a lot more interesting than just looking at a bunch of text. (see: goons with spoons) Also, I think it'd be more interesting to follow someone through the cooking process than to just look at a picture of the finished dish. So I'm going to try that!

Anyways, this is from an Emeril cookbook (I said it last time, and I'll say it your breath). It's nothing fancy, all the ingredients used are common, it's fairly simple to make, and it's somewhat cheap (except for the pork, maybe), which makes this a good choice for college students! Especially since you can use those thin cut pork chops that are sold at the supermarket.

The full recipe can be viewed online here.

Bang a gong, we are on!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chicken Roulades

I'm home-alone (apartment-alone?) for this three-day weekend, so I have the ability to experiment or make things from a last minute idea (like the tuna). That way, if I screw something up, it's only on a small scale.

We've had chicken thighs in the freezer for a LONG time. It was 99 cents a pound, so we got a 5-pound pack--and there's still chicken left, from the chicken katsu to the chicken corn chowder. So, I decided to thaw two thighs and make chicken roulades out of them! However, we don't have toothpicks or kitchen twine or even dental floss (what a great time to run out of floss), so I had to...cook them carefully so that they didn't break open.

They were stuffed with mozzarella and fresh parsley. I would use gruyere, because I've seen a bunch of chicken roulade recipes that call for it, but it was like $6 a pound at Trader Joe's. The potatoes on the right were made by parboiling a potato, slicing it, then frying in olive oil.

Yeah, they're not perfect roulades, and it's a simple meal, but it's a casual weekend dinner for myself only, so it doesn't matter.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Seared Ahi Tuna

Since I live in Irvine, the closest that I'll get to some kind of market is Trader Joe's.

But hey, I never said that was a bad thing. Trader Joe's has some great stuff that you can't find in your typical supermarket.

Like micro-greens.

Or wasabi mayonnaise.

Or ahi tuna that you can just sear--ok, so you can get that at Albertsons too, but I prefer Trader Joe's.

So anyways, I decided to just coat this ahi tuna in panko, and sear it really quickly. You want a very small amount on the outside cooked, and as much rare tuna as you can get. But on the other hand, you also want a nice golden brown crust, so that means really, really hot oil, and a sear of no more than 20ish seconds per side.

Did I mention that I love my knife? There was minimal tearing when I was slicing the tuna. And honestly, minimal tearing is great, considering that this is a big, strong, German, 44 degree knife.

Plate with the micro-greens, the mayo, and some rice, and there's a nice meal!

New Equipment: Pizza Pan

This is a 16-inch Calphalon (I think I'm starting to become loyal to brands) pizza pan--said to be "reinforced nonstick," and yet "aluminized steel." Whatever that is. It's definitely not the teflon nonstick that we're all familiar with.

Why did I get it? Because I want to be a better cook, and being a better cook means branching out and trying new things. I'll start off with premade dough and everything else homemade, then I'll eventually make the dough from scratch when I'm more familiar with making pizza.

But to give a less pretentious answer, homemade pizza is just darn good. Better than delivery and frozen pizza by leaps and bounds.

Also to come: An immersion blender for nice, smooth soups and sauces, and an actual baking dish, which means I'll be using my oven more! What a concept.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Chicken Corn Chowder

It's getting colder here ( "cold" as this area can get), and that means heavier soups! This is a chicken corn chowder, which I pretty much made by reading a bunch of recipes and making an educated guess at winging it.

It was, hands down, the longest I've spent in a kitchen actively doing prep work and cooking. The bell pepper had to be cut from the core, then julienned and brunoised (okay, a little unevenly), the potatoes had to be peeled and cut, the onions had to be diced and sweated in the bacon fat that was cooked out of the bacon which I had to cook and chop earlier to be used as a functional garnish, the chicken--oh god, the chicken had to be skinned, deboned, diced into manageable sizes, then cooked in more bacon fat (that's what happens when you buy cheap chicken that isn't skinned and deboned for you), etc. From start to finish, this soup had me working for around 2 hours.

It was so cool.

It turned out pretty good, although it was a little bit on the liquidy side, and I like nice thick soups. Heavy cream, potatoes, and beurre manié were used to thicken.

It wasn't enough.

Crumble some bacon on top, and enjoy while you curse the pathetic excuse for "cold" weather in southern california. Winter can't come fast enough.