And a test
For the masses

With all the changes going on lately, cooking hasn’t been a happening thing for me, I’m afraid to say. With the work on the house, the moving from different AirBNB venues, vacation in Mexico, it’s all been a bit crazy.

But now we are in a fairly nice place, a fairly decent kitchen space, so I decided to treat ourselves to a dish I’ve made at least only once before–Duende’s Duck Fideos.
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IMG_0640.JPGAfter weeks of our home’s interior rooms being painted, the floors refinished, I was at last able to do a bit of cooking in the kitchen now that all the furniture from the house has been removed.

As my wife’s condition of sensitive inner mouth has returned, she requested something fairly bland so as not to aggravate her condition, so when I opted to make Potage Parmentier, I found the recipe, loosely modeled from Julia Child’s own version (much less heavy cream, no Creme fraiche, etc.)

How simple it was; three leeks, two russet potatoes, a half teaspoon of salt, and about 5-6 cups of water. Put it into your pot, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and partially cover. 40-50 minutes later, take a fork or potato masher and crush the potatoes a bit, add a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream, maybe a drizzle of white pepper, and you’ll have enough soup for about 3-4 people.

To punch this up, a little lemon juice couldn’t hurt to add a nice acid balance…unless you’re my wife who simply looked at me after finishing her bowl with a decided lack of enthusiasm and asked:

Is there any chocolate in the house?

There was, and she left the kitchen happily. Of course, the single shot of the French aperitif Pineau de Charentes over ice couldn’t have hurt, either. She’s still a bit jet-lagged.

While the soup cooked, I was in the mood now to make some Patê de Foies de Volaille (chicken liver pate) so pulled out the half pound of chicken livers I’d bought the other day, a large, thick shallot, a couple of cloves of garlic, bay leaf, and a few sprigs of thyme. With a half cup of water and a half teaspoon of salt, I cooked the lot of it for about three minutes, then let it cool for five more. Using a slotted spoon, I placed the shallot and liver and garlic mixture into the food processor (sans bay leaf) and then slowly added about 12 tablespoons of butter and a couple of teaspoons of cognac.

Taking this unctuous blend, I poured them into four small ramekins and covered them with plastic wrap and put them into the refrigerator to allow their flavors to meld and firm up. And while this little patê is quite delicious, having that much around the house usually isn’t a good idea. One ramekin will go off to my wife’s work and the other two to the freezer where they will do just fine for a couple of months.

Below you can see the little ramekins doing their magic, and beside it you can see the duck breasts which await another evening’s repast soon.



I am no longer sure how long it’s been since I was really able to cook. I managed a few dishes while vacationing in Canada…


This was a night of Banchan which was great fun–considering that I had to meet the standards of one Min from Korea who could readily attest to the success of her homeland’s cuisine via my humble hands (was she being polite? She liked it).

Most recently, stalwarts A&B volunteered their kitchen to me on a recent Friday night, so I elected to make an Italian dish I found on New York Times cooking website, Cauliflower Parmesan. Other than being slightly underseasoned (in my humble opinion), it was reasonably successful. Also–it could have used a bit more fresh mozzarella than the 1/2 pound it called for.

Eggplant or Veal Parmigiana are most typically made, but with cauliflower, it proved a worthy substitute. Layers of mozzarella, tomato sauce, and grated Parmesan are all piled up in a baking dish, along with bits of cauliflower which was floured, dripped in egg, and pasted with panko bread crumbs…then shallow fried in a skillet to a delectable, browned result. After 40 minutes or so in the oven, it comes out a bubbling, delicious casserole.

Along with this was some quickly-made Rosemary flatbread crackers…flour, water, butter, a little salt, and boom. Baked for 8-10 minutes and savory heaven.


Of course, I needed some sort of side dish for this, and besides the sopressata and Italian olive mix I offered for antipasti, as well as the Rosemary flatbread crackers, I quickly boiled some brussel sprouts, then finished them with some diced pancetta and garlic with a bit of ground pepper for a nice contrast.



Of course, no meal put together is perfect without a dessert so I made a simple blueberry and pluot galette to wrap things up. As an aside, both the cracker dish as well as the pastry dough for the galette had no baking powder included and yet…the results were negligibly different from times when I dutifully incorporated them. Below is the unbaked galette waiting on an eggwash and 25 minutes in the oven. As dear heart Astrid doesn’t do a lot of baking, there was nary a flat baking sheet in the house, not to mention a lack of baking powder, but we persevered by using a handy pie plate.



After last night’s fairly sumptuous repast, I felt that doing something a bit lighter was in order, so a simple Tuscan Vegetable Soup seemed appropriate. Rather than spend over $25 to make a Salmon Wellington, I bought some baby spinach leaves, a piece of fennel, celery, carrot, and cucumber. Pretty cheap; less than $5 for all that. I had half a onion at home, low-sodium veggie broth, and garlic…as well as a can of cooked beans (fava) and a can of diced tomatoes as well. Read the rest of this entry »

IMG_0593.JPGAs the day’s close up closer to our home’s interior work getting done, plus the prospect of NO COOKING for a couple of weeks, I have been cutting loose on occasion. Tonight, an ordinary Wednesday, and despite the need to head upstairs and put things in boxes, fill out the closet, tidy up errant piles of ‘things’ and etc., I opted to try my hand at making Salmon Wellington.

Typically the filling is a nice cut of beef cooked to tender rare, but for tonight, I opted to use salmon. But what sort of filling? Leeks, cucumber…these veggies presented themselves for my consideration but ultimately it was a simple little box of frozen spinach that worked best tonight. Read the rest of this entry »

IMG_0582.JPGMy wife leaves in about six days, so evenings she is scrambling to pack up items and such so that when she leaves, I’ll be ready to move everything into the kitchen, the shed, and the front porch (and elsewhere) so that the floor refinisher and interior house painter will be able to do his work.

Every day in the kitchen before this is a rare delight.

Tonight I did a Brittany style Mussels Marinière which, honestly, held few surprises for me, even if presented by the wondrous David Tanis in his Heart of the Artichoke cookbook. Read the rest of this entry »

IMG_0936-0.JPGSometimes all it takes to create something cool and different is to keep your eyes open. While at work I got an 8 oz package of mascarpone and when I saw ladyfingers on sale as well, that classic dessert tiramisu naturally presented itself.

I grabbed the cheese, a package of those cookies, and simply used the recipe on the container of the mascarpone tub. Now, while I have had tiramisu often enough, I can’t quite recall what the taste and texture ought to be. I recall soft and creamy, with a hint of coffee and chocolate, and maybe some crunchiness from the espresso-soaked ladyfingers.

Putting it together was simple as pie…which actually is a bad metaphor because pie is not easy: easy as eating pie. There. That’s better.

It called for cocoa powder but…wait. Look, up above the refrigerator. Cocoa Puffs. Woo hoo! I crushed them in a mortar and sprinkled the dust on all of six.

Tasted great!

IMG_0935.JPGWe are remodeling, painting interior rooms upstairs and downstairs, as well as refinishing the floors top and bottom. When the floors get done, no one should be in the house due to the amount of dust and mess. OK, we get that…but all the floors have to be clear. No furniture, etc.

It’s all going to be moved to the shed, the front porch, the storage space…and the kitchen. The. KITCHEN.

I won’t be able to cook.

In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out if I might somehow…someway…be able to continue to cook over the next several weeks. The compulsion is like the hunger I have for food in the basic manner…it needs to be satiated, and it is never really met by the prospect of buying food in a box…or at a takeout stand. It…simply pales.

I have some vague ideas on how to proceed, and it will depend in part on the largesse of friends and their kitchens. More on this as my plans coalesce (or not) so we will see how I satisfy my cooking passions with my kitchen unavailable…not to mention my wife being gone.

In the meantime, today…Sunday, it started with eggs and ended with eggs. Yesterday I poached a couple of eggs and placed each on a bed of thinly cut shoestring potatoes–nearly as crisp as the snacking chip style found in bags at the store. Regardless, an interesting combination between the soft boiled yolks of the eggs and their crispy bite.

For dinner, arriving home late, it was a quick sauté of sliced onions delicately softened and browned, with some garlic, fresh tomatoes, and half a can of green and yellow peppers added at the last minute, nuanced with pimenton and cumin. All at the last placed in individual cazuelas with an egg topping it, and baked in the oven for several minutes. Once again, whether Israeli or Middle Eastern in general, a delicious and simple dinner. Some call it Shakshouka.

In the meantime, I have been pushing myself to master the classic French omelet. Long living on standard non-French style egg cooking, the simple taste and absolute lusciousness of this French style has gotten me completely enamored with mastering it’s subtle nuances.

How often I post in the next few weeks is unclear, but if you follow with any regularity…you will be the first to know.


Here’s the thing…the Chinese have so many names for dumplings that I really have no idea what to call this…soup that I made tonight. Using Lee Anne Wong’s Dumplings All Day Wong cookbook, I started out a day or so ago rolling out a pile of a Pork and Chive Dumplings…for simply no other reason than I felt like it.

It was a simple matter to make them, bettering my folding technique each moment, and then flash freezing them on sheet pans in the freezer, then bagging them for future noshing. These dumplings apparently are versatile enough to be boiled, steamed, pan fried, or deep fried. Given time constraints and other cooking projects tonight, I opted to make a soup and include the frozen little balls in the broth with a selection of veggies.

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