Lunch at Chez Donald

December 13, 2011

Wild Yukon River Salmon, Wild Rice with sauteed Porcini mushrooms, mixed lettuce with Super Cherry tomatoes, mustard based cooked salad dressing.

Now that I have more free time on my hands (thank you Texas Legislature, et. al!) I’m cooking more at home. Whereas I usually ate lunch out, many days I now cook it at home. So, like it or not, I’m getting more time in the kitchen. Today’s lunch I got quite a deal at Central Market on the salmon, about a two foot fillet for $7.50. The wild rice cooks to a nice light purple and was on sale at Sunflower Market, and the dressing I made from a 1938 and a 1954 forest fire tower recipe book.

I’m really liking this old recipe book as the recipes are designed for simple provisions that would be stored in a forest fire tower and structured to feed one or two people. My latest successes are the salad dressing, a bread recipe and a biscuit recipe. My previous failures at baking were due to too hot an oven as falsely indicated by the oven dial, and not hand kneeding dough for a minimum of 10 minutes. Both these corrected, I’m happy with the results.

I never really liked the salads I made in the past as they seemed bland most likely because of the simple vinaigrette dressings I’d make to dress the salad. I shied away from store bought mainly because of calories and ingredient lists that looked like a manifest for a chemistry lab. The dressing is quite simple: butter, flour, milk, egg, salt, sugar, mustard, vinegar. I didn’t have any dry mustard on hand which I think the recipe calls for so I substituted yellow mustard and cut back on the vinegar. Takes about 10 minutes to make, and keeps in the fridge for days.

The bread recipe I tried was simple too: yeast, water, butter, flour, milk, salt, sugar. The biscuit recipe: water, butter, flour, baking soda milk, salt, sugar. Pretty much what most cooks would have in their pantry and fridge. The biscuits take about 20 minutes from start to finish, the bread about 2 hours. I highly recommend you take a look at how it was done in the great forests decades ago. I bet it smelled great in the pine forest with baking bread in the oven!

The dough after 10 minutes of kneading by hand has obtained a silky texture. It will rest, covered in the baking pan for an hour to double in bulk.

The dough, having risen for an hour, is ready to be placed in a “moderate” oven.

The finished loaf fresh out of the oven after 40 minutes of baking. When properly baked it will emit a hollow sound when tapped.


A tip of the hat to Trader Joe’s

September 7, 2011

I was surfing the net and came upon Trader Joe’s web site. There’s a bit of excitement and speculation in foodie land Dallas, where people are anticipating the location and opening date of the first Trader Joe’s in Texas.
As I was perusing the site I stumbled upon their recipe link. As I was a bit famished from my morning walk I was ready to eat with little delay.

As luck would have it I had almost everything this simple recipe required:
1 loaf TJ’s Crusty French Bread, torn into pieces
6 TJ’s Eggs
1/4 cup TJ’s Milk
1 cup TJ’s Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage (pre-cooked), sliced (or TJ’s Veg. Sausage-less Sausage)
1 cup TJ’s Monterey Jack Cheese, grated
TJ’s Spices (optional)

Well almost everything save for all the TJ brand ingredients. And of course I was making this for me and not a platoon that the recipe would feed. So I took some crusty bread from Central Market that was past its prime. I hate that I go and buy a beautiful loaf of bread and get about two slices off of it before it turns into concrete. I zapped it in the microwave for about 30 seconds to soften it so it doesn’t explode into shards when cut with a knife. It was still tough but I had a solution to that. I managed to cut two slices off the loaf and put them in my trusty #3 Wagner iron skillet. Then I poured a little fat free milk on the slices to soften them further. A half pat of butter on each slice and into a pre heated oven at 350 while I mixed the other ingredients. One egg for me please, along with some salt and fresh ground pepper, a little left over pre cooked spicy beef patty from Central Market crumbled into a small bowl along with some thin slivers of red onion and some “grated” sharp cheddar cheese and some more non fat milk. I used a bit of milk to stretch the egg mixture so it would cover the bread in the pan. Eggs have an incredible ability to absorb or incorporate a great deal of moisture or ingredients. I put “grated” in quotes because I didn’t use a cheese grater but a serrated edged bread knife that rendered the same result if you slice the cheese thin enough.
Popped it into the toaster oven, set the timer for 25 minutes, and out comes a cheap, relatively quick meal using that leftover bread.

As it came out of the oven. Not quite done yet!

Plated, ready to serve. I flipped it over and grated some sharp chedder using the knife shown and let the cheese melt on the hot dish.

Bible Bread

March 21, 2010

Ezekiel 4:9 “Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof…”

Ok, so it’s an old recipe. With futuristic pricing. I bought a loaf of Ezekiel 4:9 the other day on the advice of the trainer I was seeing. It’s a loaf relatively high in protein and low on carbohydrates. I opted for the low sodium version. And to be truthful, I think it tastes like old bread. It comes frozen as there are no preservatives. So frozen bread is not too appetizing. I tried toasting it to see if that enhanced the flavor. Didn’t help. Now possibly the low sodium version is not as tasty as the other versions available. I’m not sure if I feel I need to find a loaf they make that I’ll like.

I’m a bit disappointed that Jesus or one of his relatives did not appear on my toast.

[Edit: Upon further review (or revelation ;^ ) as I had a piece of toast this morning), I think the culprit is the low sodium of the loaf I chose. I think the lack of salt just kills the taste. That and I very lightly toasted the last piece I ate so I think the light toaster setting helps bring out the flavor.]

So I can’t recommend the low sodium version, but let divine inspiration guide you to a choice of their other offerings.