Monday, May 9, 2016

Notes: May 2016

1 May 2016

"Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers"

Recipe from August 2012 Cook's Country

I like onions and I like burgers and I like them together so this recipe seemed worth trying. Onions are cut up, salted and squeezed to remove water, then pressed into a hamburger patty and cooked on the stove. The idea is to caramelize the onions then flip the burger over to finish cooking. As usual we made slider-sized burgers and tried to adjust the onion amount accordingly.  The result was disappointing. The burgers matched their name, the flavor of the onions dominating the beef, perhaps because the onions were not cooked as thoroughly as intended, they were too big, or there were too many for our small burgers. It was a nice try, but I don't think we'll be making these again.

1 May 2016

"Lemon Posset with Berries"

Recipe from March 2016 Cook's Illustrated

The subtitle of the magazine article about this recipe ended with, "It's the easiest dessert that you've never made". Not only did the recipe live up to this boast, but it was very good to eat, too. It has just four ingredients, including the berries added when it is served these are cream, sugar, and lemons (both juice and zest are utilized). Cream, sugar, and zest are brought to a boil and reduced. Off heat lemon juice is added. After cooling the mixture is strained and refrigerated. Done. Served with fresh berries it is smooth, rich, and luxurious complemented nicely by the berries. I wish I had added a few more berries, but otherwise this recipe is worth making again and again.

15 May 2016

"Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies"

Recipe from Serious Eats

This is a pretty standard cookie recipe, but I have fond memories of brownie cookies and so was a sucker to try it when I stumbled upon this on Serious Eats. I made a few minor changes to the recipe to accommodate what we had on hand. I used 60% chocolate instead of 70% and pecans instead of the suggested optional addition of walnuts. The resulting cookies are good, but not great. Diane suggested they would benefit from the addition of coffee to boost the chocolate flavor. They were chewy-fudgy in the center not particularly crispy on the edges and were a little too sweet for our taste.  The recipe made 14 cookies using a #24 disher and I baked them for 12 minutes. Chocolate Chubbies, also from Serious Eats, is a much better version of this type of cookie.

15 May 2016


Recipe from March 2016 Cook's Illustrated

I had never heard of fougasse until reading about it in Cook's Illustrated. It's a yeast bread from Provence and is similar to the Italian focaccia ... but not all that similar. At one point I was thinking this might be a recipe I would make just once and then decide it wasn't worth the effort, but after eating it I changed my mind. It was really good. It has a nice crisp crust and chewy, flavorful crumb. It is great when fresh but no so good when leftover so it would probably be best prepared when there are enough people to eat it while it is still fresh. 

The dough is made ahead of time and rests in the refrigerator for 16 to 48 hours; this dough rested for 21 hours. A little work goes into preparing the dough as it is folded over on itself several times over the course of an hour, but that doesn't take much time other than waiting. Once the dough was removed from the refrigerator it was ready to eat in about two hours. Getting the shape just right wold take some practice, though my loaves came out OK for the first try. I probably should have stretched it out some more after cutting the holes in the loaves prior to baking. The recipe calls for fresh rosemary but I was unable to find any at the supermarket. I baked it for eighteen minutes which worked out well.

22 May 2016

"Pan-Seared Salmon for Two"

Recipe from Cook's Illustrated, May 2016

We don't have fish as often as perhaps we should, but we do both like salmon. With this easy method for cooking it there is one less excuse not to have it more often. I spent an hour from start to finish preparing this meal and most of the effort was spent preparing the rice pilaf.

I purchased 0.9 pounds of farm-raised Atlantic salmon at Whole Foods; it wasn't cheap at $13/pound. The salmon is brined for 15 minutes, seasoned, then cooked in a cold nonstick skillet with no oil, skin side down. It is cooked on medium-high heat for about 7 minutes, then flipped and cooked about another 7 minutes until the interior temperature is 125°. That's all there is to it. The resulting fish was nicely cooked, moist on the inside with a nice crust. It was served with lemon wedges, fresh sweet corn, and rice pilaf.

30 May 2016

"Grilled Honey-Glazed Pork Chops"

Recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook,  p. 269

This was a good, relatively quick, way to fix pork chops. I purchased two center cut bone in pork chops weighing 1.3 pounds; these were the smallest chops I saw in the butcher's display at Whole Foods and even then were on the high end of what the recipe called for. I didn't measure how thick they were but they were about 1&inch; thick as in the recipe. These are enough for two meals for us. Befitting a recipe from the Quick Family Cookbook, this meal took just over an hour to prepare. It included the chops; grilled sweet corn; crudité of carrots, celery, and jicama; some fresh fruit, and chilled Riesling. 

A honey sauce is made by mixing, and reducing, a mixture of honey, vinegar, cornstarch, Dijon mustard, fresh thyme, and a little cayenne pepper. We had plenty of sauce because the recipe called for four pork chops and I only had two but did not halve the sauce recipe. The chops were coated with a mixture of sugar, salt, and pepper then grilled to an internal temperature of 140°. This took a little longer than the recipe allowed, 12-14 minutes. Some of the sauce is applied and briefly cooked and the chops were served with more sauce. I started the corn at the same time as the pork and it was done at the same time. (Corn was simply shucked and put on the grill over direct heat.)

The resulting chops were tender and juicy. The flavor of the sauce did not come through enough for me, even after I added more at the table. Perhaps I should add more or maybe prepare the chops using this recipe but then create the orange glaze from an old recipe that I fondly remember. The grilled corn was very good.