Archive for November, 2008

Stovetop Boxed Rice

Stovetop Boxed Rice

Stovetop Boxed Rice

When it comes to rice, I’d have to say I often end up going with boxed rice.  I’ve definitely made a couple good recipes that didn’t come from a box, but often I don’t want to spend the time and energy it takes to make them.  It also allows me to focus on the main course without having to worry about taking up a lot of space.  And also to be honest, boxed rices are pretty good (I especially like the boxed wild rice).  Better at least than their counterpart, boxed pasta.

I’m also posting this because a lot of people have trouble cooking rice.  I had a friend request this post, and I’ve seen many other people who’ve had trouble cooking rice.   I think the main problem is that people actually treat rice like pasta,  meaning that they can’t help but constantly stir it.  That is in itself a mistake, because rice should really mostly be steaming rather than boiling.  Anyways, here’s the quick and dirty on cooking boxed rice.  (If you’re looking for a fancier starch then check out William’s Absorption Pasta.)

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Poisson Rouge, Montreal

Not a recipe today, but still some delicious food. I went to Montreal last weekend and went to several places to go out to eat. Many restaurants are bring-your-own-booze affairs. You stop by the regional wine store, SAQ Selections or SAQ Classique, pick up a bottle or two of wine at a regular price, take it to the restaurant and drink it with the meal. This keeps the prices lower on your bill and for the restaurant (no liquor license needed, no need to stock wine, etc.).

I highly recommend Le Poisson Rouge. It’s a small restaurant (seats 25ish) with a local feel. The servers are attentive and very friendly. I would definitely return if I had the chance.

Escargots à l’ail et vin blanc at Le Poisson Rouge

Escargots à l’ail et vin blanc at Le Poisson Rouge

My meal began with Escargots à l’ail et vin blanc. It was perfectly cooked. Escargot can easily be chewy or grainy if not fresh or prepared well. These were served in a butter-wine sauce that was delicious mopped up with bits of fresh crusty baguette.

Potage at Le Poisson Rouge

Potage at Le Poisson Rouge

A potage was served after the escargots. A potage is traditionally a thick vegetable soup. There are many variations, this one was built from a potato, carrot and leek base. It’s a simple dish, but very nice. It’s a hearty soup that can be had as an appetizer or just a big bowl of it as a meal.

Carré d’agneau enrobé de fleur d’ail, moutarde thym frais at Le Poisson Rouge

Carré d’agneau enrobé de fleur d’ail, moutarde thym frais at Le Poisson Rouge

That was followed by a rack of lamb in a red wine reduction sauce served with a few green beans and a small serving of potato gratin. (Here is another photo showing the sides served with it.)

Fondant au Chocolate at Le Poisson Rouge

Fondant au Chocolate at Le Poisson Rouge

Dessert was a fondant au chocolat. This was rich dark chocolate with a chocolate sauce. My friends chose the creme brulee a l’orange. I always hesitate to order creme brulee in restaurants because the recipe Kyle posted earlier (with vanilla bean) is so delicious that most restaurants don’t measure up. This one was very good though. The caramelized sugar on top was very impressive–nearly an eight of an inch thick. And the orange taste was fragent but not overpowering.

Creme Brulee a lOrange at Le Poisson Rouge

Creme Brulee a l'Orange at Le Poisson Rouge

Oven Fries

Oven Fries

Oven Fries

When it comes to potatoes, I can often do without them.  I’m a fan of french fries, but making them requires so much oil that I usually just opt for another starch.  Not to mention I usually try and eat somewhat healthful foods.   I was really excited when I found this recipe though because it’s easy enough you can make during the week.  The other nice thing about this recipe is that it makes considerably less mess, and uses a lot less oil.

If you don’t own any half sheet pans, you should definitely pick some up.  They are useful for many things, and are fantastic because they are lipped to prevent your food from sliding off.  Half sheet pans are also usually considerably cheaper than many cookie sheets.

I almost prefer these oven fries to the normal french fries.  They have a wonderful browned, crisp exterior  and creamy interior that often isn’t acheived with normal fries.  I’d also like to think they are a bit more healthful then french fries.  Anyways, this is a Cook’s Illustrated Recipe.  Give it a try and there’s a good chance you’ll be converted to an oven fry lover as well.

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Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Cold weather is upon us. Pumpkins and other winter squash are everywhere (well, less now that Halloween is over). Perfect time to make a nice, hot soup. You can use pumpkin or other winter squashes in this dish. I don’t really like to cook with pumpkin. I like other winter squashes, but pumpkin–not so much. I don’t know if this is because most pumpkins are grown for carving instead of taste, but as for other winter squashes, butternut is probably my favorite. The tough skin and hard flesh may put some people off working with it–but as with anything, the key is breaking it into smaller pieces. Take a look at some instructions from The Kitchn if you are having some trouble.

This soup is nice and creamy with a mild sweetness to it. I plan on making a more basic soup later this year, but I wanted something richer for this soup. The sweetness comes from adding an equal proportion of apples to squash to the soup. Apples are not the most common ingredient in soup, but they are delicious.

Go through the jump to see the recipe.

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Festive Chicken

Festive Chicken

Festive Chicken

Since it’s getting close to Thanksgiving, I thought I would post this recipe.  Granted I make this year-round, but its’ cranberry based sauce reminds me of Thanksgiving.  This recipe is a fantastic weeknight meal because all you have to do is throw it all together and bake it.  You can have the kitchen cleaned up before your meal is finished baking.  Plus your main dish and side end up cooking together in one pan, and all you need is to figure out your vegetable.  This is a recipe that I got from my Dad and I can’t remember where he got it from.  Anyways, it’s always nice to add an easy, weeknight meal to your arsenal.  I usually just use split chicken breasts (Bone In, Skin on) for this recipe because I prefer white meat to dark meat.  Usually about 4 split chicken breasts fit in the pan.

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Cheese Souffle

Cheese Souffle

Cheese Souffle

Until recently I had never made a souffle before.  Actually I had never eaten one either.  Souffles are infamous for being a difficult dish to make.  I remembered watching the Good Eats episode where he makes a Cheese Souffle, and thinking it looked very doable.  Making a souffle is very similar to making a mousse, and since I’ve done that many times I figured I shouldn’t have any trouble.  As long as you can handle whipping egg whites and then using the folding method to incorporate them, you can easily make a souffle.

It’s difficult to describe the texture of a souffle if you’ve never eaten one.  They are very light and airy, with a crisper, browned outer shell.  Like the Crème Brûlée, I really enjoy the contrast.  The inside has a texture similar to that of scrambled eggs with a lot of air whipped in.  Also as a note the vessel that a souffle is made in is also called a souffle.  A souffle (the dish) is fluted to create more surface area.  This allows the souffle to rise better.  You can see what one looks like in the picture above.

Anyways, I’ll take you through how I made it, and stress the important points so you can build your souffle correctly.

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Apple Chips

Apples are in season now and you can get bags of them for cheap. You can use apples in all sorts of dishes. I’ll post later about a butternut squash soup with apples in it… it’s really good. I also plan to make an apple tart later in the year, so I’ll post about that when I get around to making it.

I wanted something to snack on though, and I didn’t want to put forth a lot of effort. Apple chips fit the bill. This recipe is quick and easy. It’s even easier if you have a mandolin, but a chef’s knife will get the job done. Also, if you have a convection oven, turn that setting on, it’s more effective at drying the chips out, but you get nearly the same thing with a regular over. (I have a regular oven and these came out fine.)

The chips will keep several days in an airtight container. (If you leave them out they will lose their crispiness and that’s basically the opposite of what we want.)

Apple Chips

Any crisp sweet apple (as many as you want to eat)
powdered sugar

  1. Slice apples as thin as you can.
  2. Sprinkle powdered sugar over a baking sheet. Place apples on baking sheet and sprinkle more powdered sugar over them.
  3. Bake for about two hours (if using multiple sheets, be sure to switch them around half way through.)
  4. Remove from oven and place on some cooling racks until cool. Then eat them!

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