Friday, September 17, 2010

Chicken, Fava Beans and Other Odds and Ends

Over the past few weeks, I've noticed how other food bloggers seem to have at least one entry re-capping their summers. They take a break from food for a day, and share images of sailboats, hammocks and laughing children, a little postcard to themselves and us, to help make the transition into a busy fall schedule less painful. 

But now that it's September, mid September, doing that would be a little like putting on a pair of white pants and drinking a beer at ten in the morning.

So, instead, I would like to look back at all the god awful things I made (and some pretty good things) that didn't make it into this blog. Because while I love to cook, and think I'm not all that bad at it, there are times when Chris looks at me, very tenderly, and says, "you're not going to write about this one are you?" And then lovingly eats what I've put forth. There are also other meals, splendid meals, that I was either too tired and uninspired to write about, didn't photograph well, or both.

Thank you for reading, thank you for your wonderful comments. They help keep me going when the shortcakes dry out, the greens get over cooked and the chicken would rather fling itself out the window than be subject to my Canon Power Shot camera.

No matter how many kitchen disasters you may have, keep cooking because I sure do!

The above photo is of a meal that was quite successful. I marinated the chicken in plain yogurt, paprika, salt and garlic and broiled it until just cooked through. The potato salad was made with cilantro, red onion, celery, lemon juice, dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper. These are so easy to make, and leftovers the next day, superb.

This was probably one of the worst pork chops ever cooked. It was tough and rubbery and what I had hoped would be a sauce, was instead a garlic oil spill. The peas were gently boiled and tossed with butter and chopped mint. I think they were trying to push the pork chop off the plate. The lighting is just unfortunate.

Here's an example of a meal that was almost good. My mother passed on a wonderful recipe for brick pressed chicken which I proceeded to screw up. I couldn't get the chicken done in the middle, the sauce was greasy, and although the skin looks crispy, that's in fact an optical illusion. The fava bean spread on the other hand was wonderful and came from, In the Green Kitchen with Alice Waters and the recipe is from the wonderful David Tanis. 

This was a last minute, I was so hungry I could only growl kind of meal. The zucchini pancakes were from Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking which is a wonderful book with great recipes, but these were a little bland and gummy (I'm sure this was mostly my fault). I have no memory of making mashed potatoes, and I broiled the red peppers in our toaster oven until the skin blackened, and then peeled the skin off before serving. 

Cabbage and potatoes in mustard sauce from Short-Cut Vegan by Lorna Sass is delicious and I'm not sure why I didn't write about it. You chop one cup of leeks, saute in 1tbs. olive oil, add 1 1/2 cups water and stir in 1tbs. dijon mustard (I use about 4tbs.), 2 tsp. vegetable stock powder, and salt. Bring to a boil, then add 3/4 lb. red potatoes cut into 1-inch pieces and boil for 5 minutes. Meanwhile cut 1 head of cabbage into small wedges (remove the core) and add to the potatoes with 1/3 cup water if dry (I also threw in some sliced carrots). Cook until potatoes and cabbage are tender. Add more mustard if needed and pepper to taste. 

This was also delicious and something I threw together last minute with some white rice. Saute a few cloves of garlic in a little olive oil and butter until fragrant, then add sliced mushrooms, sliced zucchini and or squash with a dash of white wine and one or two chopped tomatoes and cook until vegetables are just tender. Season with salt and pepper and some chopped basil, cook a minute longer and serve.

Omelettes are one of the easiest meals ever but I totally overcooked this one. It's hard to regulate the heat in my electric skillet (I know, excuses, excuses) and cooking delicate things like eggs is almost impossible (I will keep trying). Inside is grated gruyere cheese, with chopped chives on top, a lovely combination. A little salad and a glass of wine and you've got dinner.

These shortcakes were HORRIBLE! I won't share where they're from and will instead pledge to find a better recipe and post that. These were dry, flavorless hockey pucks which the strawberries and whipped cream even had a hard time saving. And recently I made a gingerbread cake in my rice cooker (which has a cake setting) that took one and a half hours to bake, tasted like salt licorice, and was both dry and gummy at the same time. I didn't even bother taking a photo. I think I'll stick to my toaster oven when it comes to baking.

And to end, a quote from Beckett :

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."


  1. i love your attitude! and i love that you experiment. it's fun to make mistakes or else you'd never accidentally discover amazing meals! xo

  2. Hilarious! I love this post! Thanks for sharing that you're human! :)

  3. I love the Beckett at the end ... and although I don't want you to have kitchen mishaps, I am almost looking forward to the hearty laughter that will follow from your "Fail again. Fail better." posts. May the laughter come often (and the failing, not so often).

  4. Tom made cornish game hen about a month ago and, as usual, layered bacon on top to cook in flavor. Except this time he put the bacon on the rib side, instead of the meaty side of the chicken. He came down on himself pretty hard for that one.

  5. All is not lost as long as what you cook is made with love and eaten with someone who loves you. Some of my kitchen disasters (which STILL occur) have made for some of dad's and my favorite memories.

  6. Just stumbled on your's so great! Now when you say you have no kitchen, do you have one of the standard NY kitchens where the sink, oven and fridge all run into each other and you have to put a cutting board over the stove to chop, or do you really not have a kitchen at all? I'm in NY too, but I live in Astoria, cause this girl needs a countertop. You have a great writing style. Love!

  7. Great post Erica. The recipe I made that will live in infamy was for a greenish curry with baby shrimp aspic. Straight into the garbage can. That was about 50 years ago.