Great. I have a blog post backlog, a 20-something browser tab backlog, and a 77 email backlog, also courtesy of perfectionism. Fixing. I also promised I'd post the results of my cooking experiments; I already wrote about Tuesday night's massive vegetable pika dinner, so here are the rest. Some even have terrible pictures!
Here is a souffle omelet and the first time I have ever seen 3 eggs completely satisfy 5 people. Separate said eggs; beat yolks with something tasty (artichoke spread, in this case) and whip the whites. Fold flavored yolks into whites, scoop resulting golden fluff into hot buttered pan, brown bottom on stove, brown top under broiler. Toss out of pan, photograph under stove hood light because it's a gray and cloudy day, slice into wedges, serve, and run like hell to the ILXO reunion. The omelet was a puffy wedge of joy, sweetly caramelized with butter on the outside and delicately spiced with artichoke throughout. It did not fall; I was overjoyed. I also learned that beating whites by hand is a time-consuming process.
Eggs fried in sausage drippings, served over that sausage and badly color-balanced in GIMP on my computer afterwards. The eggs were delicious; I learned that fresh eggs do make a difference because the white stays together and the yolk sets up higher in the pan. However, I was somewhat skeptical about one cookbook's instructions to "continuously spoon the molten fat over the eggs so that the tops will cook" (the same recipe that called for nearly half a stick of butter in the pan). I opted for the much less labor (and cholesterol) intensive, long-time Mel-tested method of "cover the pan for a bit so that steam can heat up the tops so you can eat your eggs faster."
Note sausage frying on the right side - that's where the drippings for the eggs came from, sort of. We chopped too much sausage for this, and ended up using it for breakfast the next day with the aforementioned fried eggs... what happened to this sausage is something we'll see in a bit. The cakes spaced through the rest of the pan are actually my aunt's concoction, a sort of sweet-potato fritter with huge juicy shrimp embedded throughout.
This is what happened to the sausage from the pan above. Bok choy. It soaked up all the spicy shrimpy flavor and the good brown bits from all the fritters while making us feel like we were doing something healthy to ourselves. Possibly one of the most awesome bok choy dishes I've ever had because of how the flavors of the greens interacted with the layering of meat-flavored spices.
I swear this looks more appetizing under different lighting (i.e. not my flash), but to go with the shrimp fritters we sliced an avocado and a tomato and sprinkled coarse salt, rosemary, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar over them. A layered bite of avocado, tomato, and hot fried sweet potato with a big shrimp chunk is pretty reasonably close to heaven for me.
For dessert that night, melons and blueberries a la mode with raspberry vinegarette on top. It sounds weird, but it actually works well - sort of. The blueberries and ice cream go together no matter what, and they can apparently either be paired with the melon or with the vinegarette - the raspberry and the melon clashed, though. Flavor mixin' lesson learned. (Had the melon been in summer, riper and sweeter, I think it would have worked out better.)
Now the stuff that didn't get photographed:
- salmon marinated in olive oil, garlic, and dill, then smothered in the same and broiled, served with a sauce consisting of dill, lemon, and mayo and 3 hours in the fridge to let the flavors blend. The quantity of dill used for this dish occupied roughly the volume of my head; we saw a gorgeous bunch at Russo's (fruit and vegetable market) and had to do something with it. The salmon turned out perfectly, a glistening pink perfumed with (what else?) dill.
- roasted potatoes and carrots tossed with olive oil and dill (left over from the salmon) - after an hour I moved them to the bottom of the oven while the salmon broiled so that they'd become extra sweet and caramelized, crinkling up into brightly colored jewels of tender tastiness.
- three-cheese rotini souffle- gruyere, ricotta, and parmesan blended into a roux with sauteed onions and egg yolks, whipped whites and cooked pasta folded in, parmesan sprinkled on top, broiled. I got a little lazy on the white-beating so it was more of a dense puffy pasta than a souffle, but it was still delicious. Audrey, used to the mac n' cheese that comes out of a box, was not a fan. (Oh well. More for the rest of us.)
- white beans tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and a bit of raw chopped onion, sprinkled with chunks of chicken, then served on top of lettuce as a salad; fast, light, satisfying, and delicious.
- similarly, a whonkin' handful of fresh basil blended with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and tossed with greens and tomatoes; also a great salad.
- whole-wheat bread, fresh from the oven, sliced and spread with butter. Not quite as mandatory is to have the dough sitting fo ran hour in the upstairs bathroom (carefully covered and with a "everybody use the downstairs bathroom!" moratorium) as this was experimentally determined to be the warmest room in the entire house. Also, 5-year-olds are excellent kneaders.
- Melanie made a lovely four-cheese spinach lasagna, a lengthy and complex recipe that took over a dozen or so bowls, 2 counters, and over 3 hours of her life. A year ago, I was teaching her how to hold a knife and chop an onion. She is starting to surpass me in the realm of cooking.
- My aunt made a gigantic pot of lentil soup intended to last the week. It is flavored throughout with fresh fried bacon and punctuated with tomatoes. I doubt there will be any left come Tuesday, which is a shame because that's the kind of soup that gets better after a few days when the flavors blend together.
Overall, it's been an excellent week for food.