Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Catching Up

I'll let the photo cue you on how busy I feel it has been around here lately.

While I can't (won't?) make a good accounting for my waking hours, I promise you I yet fall into a chair at the end of them, satisfied I've earned my rest despite the lack of a checklist worthy recitation of accomplishments.

Nonetheless, as promised, to follow is a report on three new recipes tried out recently, all of which have both ease of preparation and delicious results to recommend them.

First up to bat an "Easy Brazilian Cheese Bread" from Elise at Simply Recipes.

I must confess many days I am drawn to recipes that include the word "easy" in their title.  If I ever find myself desiring something more along the lines of "Difficult Brazilian Cheese Bread" I'll know it is time to back away, s- l -o -w -l -y, from the oven mitts.

The recipe is here and I will say this about that.  I subbed in a mixture of dairy products because I realized I'd run out of the preferred milk for our morning coffee the next day and didn't want to make a milk run.  The bread turned out great despite my cobbling together lowfat buttermilk and cream, so feel free to play a little with that component if you must.  And next time I'm determined to try an even sharper cheese than the Queso Fresco though I give it props for melting into the batter so gracefully.

The recipe does require tapioca flour however.  Tapioca flour has a tendency to absorb more liquids than other flours will and without that, this recipe won't work.  And, having made one batch I can vouch for the use of a regular muffin pan with wells filled 1/4 full if your mini muffin pan is at the cleaners, say.  Your breads won't puff in the larger pan, mine actually got these keen holes in the bottom which I found enchanting, but they'll taste just as good.

And one final note (really a lot to say about an easy recipe, yes?) is that these breads are indeed best eaten the same day.  They will keep and reheat but will lose the crunch after the first day and revert to full on chewy bits, which I don't mind at all, but is not for everybody.

Next I will recommend to you a recipe I originally found on the Serious Eats site as part of their French in a Flash series for Dijon Chicken.

I tweaked this recipe just a bit because I used my large electric skillet start to finish.  I could explain why but trust me it was the way to go under my circumstances.  I used thighs rather than drumsticks, and rather than dump all the oil out and start with new between the first couple of steps I rather emptied the skillet of all but one remaining tablespoon of oil.

Additionally, on the advice of ChefSon, I thinly sliced rather than chopped my garlic cloves.  

Otherwise I followed the recipe as written with wonderful results.  This makes a sufficient quantity of sauce to thoroughly envelop a side vegetable or starch as you desire and believe me, once you get a taste of this you WILL so desire.  I served this with oven baked polenta, the third selection in our hat trick of recipes for today. The rich dijon chicken sauce and creamy polenta were lick your plate good together.

The recipe for the polenta was a gift from the LA Times earlier this year and can be found right here.  Knowing I was not going to use this as the main course, with some trepidation I halved the recipe and still ended up with enough polenta for 6 people as a side.

Potentially obnoxious sidebar for locals:  If you did not see the April Fool's edition of the Austin Chronicle then click here to enjoy what is perhaps the most fun a Longhorn Fan or Anti-Fan either one can have short a national title.  To explain a bit for non-locals, UT Football is an economic juggernaut that has flattened educational concerns for going on 4 decades.  Now, back to our regularly scheduled post...

While I was being foolish fearless, I reheated and held the polenta I'd made a day ahead for around 90 minutes in a double boiler.  I'd read several places that holding polenta at a steady temperature in that moist environment would allow the corn grains to continue to expand and become even more creamy.

Without halving the batch and preparing one in a double boiler and one not, I can't vouch for any difference but I assure you - this polenta was rich, creamy, and never came close to burning or sticking to a pan in either iteration, oven, or stove top.

If the Fear of Stirring has kept you from trying polenta then fear no longer.  Simply combine your ingredients, toss them in the oven, and walk away knowing corn wondrousness is in your short term future.  I'm already playing with ideas for my leftover three servings.  Something sliced and sautéed is my first thought.  I'll report back here if I come up with anything blogworthy.

So there you have it - a trio of easy and delicious recipes, home kitchen tested and certified as Allergy Medication Foggy Brain Screw-Up Proof.  What more could you ask?

Last but certainly not least, I extend warmest wishes to all my readers, regular or otherwise, with hopes that if you are observing holy days your celebrations will be filled with meaning and your hours will find you surrounded by those you love.

I realize posts here are sporadic. It is the nature of my temperament.  I know you have choices as to when and where you click on any given day.  I appreciate your persistence in dropping by and hope you will generally find this a good enough place to spend your time.  I certainly enjoy your company!


Kathleen Scott said...

You make the best food. I remember your sauce for shoe soles...

Thanks for the follow-up recipes. I'm definitely going to use the polenta. And maybe the chicken if I can get over the calories/fat from 1/2 cup cream.

Your food pictures are extraordinary. I want to learn how to do that when I grow up.

Hope you're having a great weekend!

PassivePastry said...

lovely pictures. :)
oh-my-gawd that cheesy bread is my favorite at Sao Paolos- I must try it!
I think they dust theirs with parmesan in the end.... yumyum

TexasDeb said...

Kat I feel you could use whole milk and get reputable sauce. That half cup cream gets split out between 4 people and you aren't obligated to drench your plate. Worth it as a splurge says me.

PPastry - ChefSon noted this recipe was different than the ready made dough they used in the restaurant he used to work in. Whatever cheese it had was sharper than queso fresco. Hope you enjoy though - let me know!

As to the photos - sincere thanks for the compliments, y'all. I have a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 [http://tinyurl.com/yvy8kn] and past that I simply play with the settings until I get a shot I like. I'm happy you like what you see.