Looking through the pictures of food I've taken recently and the recipes I've been talking about, it occurred to me that I've been doing a good job of cooking and trying new things more frequently in the first few weeks of 2012. Below are a few highlights and links to the new dishes I've made.
The first two were technically put together on December 31, 2011, but the leftovers bridged the transition into the new year. I wish I'd remembered to take pictures when everything was on display in pretty dishes, but we're stuck with the image of this awesome Asian Slaw in tupperware.
I loved all of the colors in this slaw, the crunch of the peanuts, and the abundance of edamame. I'll eat just about anything with edamame. The dressing was flavorful and coated the veggies lightly, and the leftovers retained the crunch from the first night we ate it.
For some reason, Gourmet Live's dairy-free chocolate layer cake recipe was especially enticing during the holiday season. New Year's Eve was my excuse to make it, and though I didn't have quite enough corn syrup and the frosting was runnier than anticipated, the cake was incredibly moist, and the icing rich and chocolatey. The "secret" dairy-free component is coconut milk, which I'd never worked with before, but it definitely gave everything a velvety texture, as seen below.
I'm blanking on where I first read about fromage fort, which is essentially a fancy-sounding way to use up the odds and ends occupying your cheese drawer, but it was a welcome alternative to cooking on a night that Davy wasn't feeling well and I didn't want to be in the kitchen.
Based loosely on this method, I chopped the cheese, added some garlic and white wine, and let the food processor work its magic. The fromage fort and slices of local bread, brushed with olive oil, all went under the broiler.
And no, this is not creme brulee.
The cheese was warm and spreadable, just as I'd hoped, but the white wine flavor was a little bit sharper than I wanted. I think next time I'd use less than 1/4 cup, or try sherry, which was suggested in different recipe. I'm looking forward to making this again in the future as an alternative to using the cheese in sandwiches or eggs. It's nice enough to serve to guests, and no one would ever know that it's made of neglected cheese pieces.
My original plan for the fromage fort dinner was pan-fried fish, and Davy and I were both glad that we didn't abandon it completely. On the following evening, we assembled two breaded flounder filets using flour, egg, and panko, for a very quick meal. This is especially good if the fish is extra fresh, and ours certainly tasted like it was - we didn't even need tartar sauce.
I also bought fresh fish, halibut this time, for a braised dish one of my friends has been raving about. I neglected to take pictures because I was so excited about how well it turned out, but I will say that it's pleasing both to the palate and the eyes. We served it over whole wheat cous cous, but I'd love to try it over rice or pasta. Using fresh tomatoes and basil made such a difference, and I'm guessing that it would have turned out even better when those ingredients are in season.
My final offering is Bon Appetit's "Special Sunday Roast Chicken." It seemed like the perfect meal for a lazy Sunday, and its flavors were luxurious and healthy at the same time. Instead of mustard greens, which weren't available at Ellwood Thompson's on Sunday, I purchased a large bunch of local chard, which held up nicely to the roasted root vegetables and chicken. The picture below was an afterthought (literally taken after I'd already plated our food), but I think it represents the dish well. It's served family style, and is intended to be nourishing and comforting. Despite the fact that it looks like Davy and I ate nearly a whole chicken, that's not the case. A lot of it was reserved because I knew it wouldn't fit on the platter.
Here's to continuing to branch out and eat well in 2012!