The results are in

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February 28, 2013 by E.

Earlier this week, I posted about some recipe ideas or food dishes that were on my radar to test out.  As of last night, I successfully completed the goal to try them.  That’s not to say that each endeavor turned out to be a success, because goodness I had a disaster.  Here’s how everything worked out.

1.) Homemade pasta shrimp “alfredo” for Monday night dinner.  THE VERDICT?  Success!

This was an incredibly easy dish to put together.  I started out by sautéing 1 shallot, 4 cloves of garlic, and the stems from 1/2 a bunch of Swiss chard for a few minutes before removing from the pan and setting aside.  In the same pan, I par-cooked shrimp for a minute or so on each side, just until the outsides got some color, and deglazed the pan with a squeeze of lemon juice.  After I removed the shrimp, I wiped out the pan with a paper towel, and made a simple cream sauce (same pan!) beginning with a roux and then whisking in a touch (about 1/2 cup) of dry white wine and 2 cups of 1% milk.  Once the mixture was smooth and thick (that’s why the roux is so crucial), I added a cup of shredded asiago cheese, along with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Then I put my homemade pasta on to boil, added the shallot/garlic/chard stems mixture and the par-cooked shrimp back to the “alfredo” sauce, threw in blanched and roughly chopped chard leaves.  Once I added my cooked pasta (fresh pasta takes 3 minutes, tops), more cheese – BOOM! – dinner was served.  I forgot to take a picture, but this meal provided us with Monday AND Tuesday night dinner.  Not necessarily healthy, but definitely comforting and delicious.

2.) Baking chocolate chip cookies.  THE VERDICT?  Success!

So, I’m definitely learning to appreciate baking much more than I used to.  The problem for me is that baking general turns out super tasty morsels that are super full of tasty ingredients (like butter and sugar) that happen to be less that super good for you.  Which is why, when I finished a batch of these amazing, delicious, gooey, best chocolate chip cookies ever, I forced A. take all but 8 of them out of the house (the recipe makes 4 dozen).  A dozen went to our lovely Indian shuttle bus driver, who so kindly shares his recipes and ingredients with us, the rest went to his office, where he says they were promptly wiped out.   I made him hide the remaining 8 cookies on a very tall shelf in our kitchen so they would not tempt me on a daily basis.

3.) Making mustard from scratch.THE VERDICT?  Utter failure.

I had such high hopes...

I had such high hopes…

This should have been so easy.  Dump mustard seeds, vinegar, turmeric, salt, and sugar into food processor.  Blend until smooth.  Enjoy fabulous homemade condiment.  So what went wrong?  I honestly have no idea, but this is probably the worst thing I’ve ever made.  It is just not edible.  When it was done blending, I tasted it and it was awful.  So I tried to add some more spices, cumin and paprika, to add some depth of flavor and cover up whatever it was that made it straight nasty.  No luck.  So I put it into a jar and shoved it in the fridge, hoping that maybe the flavors would mellow and it would be decent by the time A. got home.  No luck.  When I get the courage to try this again (and I will try it again, because I have 1.5 pounds of whole mustard seed staring back defiantly every time I open the pantry), I’m going to use apple cider vinegar, or maybe white wine vinegar, no turmeric, maybe some beer, and a little roasted garlic or something.

4.) Bake fresh bread.THE VERDICT?  Super awesome amazing SUCCESS!!!

There's nothing better than bread fresh out of the oven

There’s nothing better than bread fresh out of the oven

This project gets multiple exclamation marks because it was that good.  This bread was every bit as delicious and tasty as my mustard was not, and might have restored my faith in  my Home Made cookbook, which also contained the recipe I followed for the Mustard Disaster.  I simply cannot say enough great things about this recipe.  It required a little planning ahead (you let the bread rest for 8 – 18 hours, punch it out 10 times, then let it rest for another 2 hours), but hands on time was minimal – 30 minutes, including measuring, kneading, and cleaning up.  And the taste!  Mmmmm!  I have some ideas for recipe variations, and once I’ve perfected the method (her instructions are a little vague), I’ll share the process with you.  The best part is, you don’t need a bread maker or any special equipment, just a dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pot that can be put into the oven.

Last night for dinner, I had another success.  I made a version of the Indian dish (we are eating our share of Indian food this week!) Chicken Masala (using this recipe as inspiration), but instead of chicken, I used lamb.  Served over lentils cooked in coconut milk and with Sapana’s Spicy Okra recipe on the side, it was a delicious dinner!  I’ll post the lamb masala recipe in a future post.

Here in DC, we’re finally getting some sunshine for a change, and I’m heading out to enjoy it!  Ciao!

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