Tuesday, January 31, 2012
At the same time we put together two glorious egg custard pies. I used Pillsbury's ready made pie crust and lined two pie plates, building up the edges to make them deeper. Then mixed up eggs, milk and sugar with a little vanilla and poured into the shells, dotted with some butter and with great difficulty, one of my helpers moved the very sloppy pies to the oven where in about 35 minutes they had firmed up. Very eggy and creamy and the added whipped cream, raspberries, banana slices and shredded coconut didn't hurt this elegant dessert. I had also brought from home some from -scratch hot chocolate to further the comfort ambiance along A very happy, relaxed group of eaters.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
More recently, I stopped in at the Silver Diner one afternoon and was delighted to see a very fresh menu, with local products featured in imaginative variety. So, last evening, looking for something comfortable and homey, I stopped in for dinner. Again, as I looked through the menu I could have chosen any number of dishes to fit the bill, but settled on an all-time favorite, liver and onions with bacon, mushrooms and all the fixings. It was excellent, the liver soft and moist, and even the accompanying veggies were fresh and steamed correctly. I have a thing about half cooked, half not- cooked fresh vegetables. The service was really good with a cute young waiter who seemed bent on keeping me in hot tea and checking my progress throughout the meal, but not annoyingly so. Restaurant not too crowded. Best of all, someone was feeding silver into a juke box that was playing out tunes from the 50's and 60's with understandable lyrics and a gentle beat. I recommend you grab a friend or go by yourself and give the Silver Diner at West Ox and Fair Lakes a try. Not as classy as my favorite fancy restaurants but for under fifteen dollars you get a delightful good meal. Like you can get at any Jersey diner. Tell them, "Debbie sent you."
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Monday, January 23, 2012
After the class I scurried to Reston for my 2 pm. class, Gloria Sussman's music class that I absolutely never miss, although I was late, and after I picked my way across the darkened room to the only chair available so late in the session, I sat down to enjoy the violin music that was streaming from the speakers. As I sat there, something caused me to sniff and sure enough I realized that I smelled like an onion! My clothes must have absorbed the cooking aromas from the soup. After the class, I asked the guy sitting next to me if he smelled the leek-y soup and he said he thought what he smelled was Chinese food. I made my impression. Next week 's offering may be loaded with garlic.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Once that was done and I'd rinsed them, I laid them flat on a parchment covered cookie sheet and spread them with a mixture of Panko flakes, oregano, salt, pepper and olive oil. Then I topped them with a slice of lemon and wrapped my package of fish tightly envelope style and baked them for about 40 minutes . On the same pan I had put some chunks of potatoes lathered in olive oil and herbs and they roasted along with the fish.
This was a really good dinner when sided with deli cole slaw. The fish was so delicate and sweet. I shall have to do that again as this fish is supposed to be extremely nourishing and pretty cheap. I'm trying to try out new fish options.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
During drinks, I served some cheeses that I purchased over the week-end from a shop called Arrowine in Arlington (using a Social Living voucher). Arrowine is a great place, by the way. The cheesemongers were very welcoming and helpful. We started our dinner with the (almost) ever-present green salad and then had:
- Pan Fried Catfish with Crispy Mustard Crust – The recipe is from my new cookbook Good Fish. It was really delicious – a hit with all our guests. The recipe calls for char, but it seemed it would work with catfish and it was perfect. The recipe follows a technique I used to use a lot but have gotten away from – brushing a very flavorful sauce or paste on fish before breading and frying or baking it. In this case, the recipe called for a very simple sauce consisting mainly of Dijon mustard and lemon juice – yummy!
- Green Beans Amandine – a great recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.
- Parmesan Roasted Butternut Squash – I loved to roast root vegetables, but the last couple of times I roasted winter squash were not that successful – squash that was completely cooked before any browning or caramelization -- so I went online to try to figure out what I was doing wrong. I happened on this recipe, which is actually more of a casserole, and I can highly recommend it.
For dessert we had chocolate chip cookies with our tea. I used the Consumer Reports recipe. Sounds like a joke, right? But last year, the Consumer Reports folks offered a recipe for “The Practically Perfect Cookie” when they tested and rated store-bought chocolate chip cookies. I had always used the recipe on the chocolate chip bag and it was fine, but it turns out the Consumer Reports cookie really is “practically perfect.” Try it and let us know what you think. No need to do better next time!
Fascinating Fish Facts: Catfish produced on fish farms in this country is an excellent seafood choice. It’s not only delicious and inexpensive, but also provided to us in an environmentally sound manner. According to Monterey Bay Seafood Watch, US farmed catfish is “[r]aised in closed, [so it] is consider ponds using recirculated fresh water and fed a mostly diet of soybeans, corn and rice, ed to be one of the most fish available. Closed, inland ponds dramatically reduce the risk of farmed fish escaping and spreading disease to native wild populations. Their primarily vegetarian diet, with extremely low levels of fishmeal, reduces the number of wild fish caught.” As noted, catfish aquaculture is especially cool because farmed catfish (as opposed to farmed salmon or shrimp, for example) are vegetarians, so the end product is healthier and produced at less cost to other species and the environment. I just make sure my catfish is farmed in the United States – not only for environmental reasons, but also because I’m not confident that foreign farmed fish is a safe as it should be.
Catfish farmed in Asia is often sold under the name Basa or Swai (and sometimes just under the name “Catfish” even though this is not legal) and it’s also a good choice according to many (including Monterey Bay Seafood Watch), but I avoid it. I don’t know enough about this to offer firm recommendations to others, but there are plenty of examples of foreign raised seafood that we should NOT eat (banned chemicals, unsanitary conditions, etc.), and credible reports of poor oversight by the FDA, so I just err on the side of safety – especially inasmuch as farm raised fish is even if the US product is a tiny bit more expensive.