Breakfast/lunch/Dinner, what are you having?

Scepticalscribe

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I tried making beef stir fry. It was disappointing.

My only choice now is to live vicariously through you.
Some evenings, dinner comprises cheese (okay, there is always cheese.....and it is invariably "the good stuff") and bread and beer and what we call crisps ("chips" to Our Transatlantic Cousins).

After all, these days, I live toute seule, and am answerable (mostly) solely to myself.

However, I will readily concede that this evening was (is) a good evening to live vicariously - where culinary matters are concerned - through me.
 
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Clix Pix

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Ragù recipes often suggest - or recommend - that gremolata is served as a condiment to accompany the dish: (Gremolata: Finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, grated lemon rind, juice of half a lemon and some olive oil).

Now, as it happens, all of these ingredients were winking at me.

So, the gremolata has been prepared.

Therefore, pasta it will be tonight.

As I shall have seconds (for tomorrow), and the oven will be free, and I will doubtless desire a different side dish to accompany the ragù, roasted potatoes sound as though they will be an excellent idea tomorrow evening; along with, perhaps, a few seasonal roasted apples and pears also.....
Well, dang, SS, you are sure costing me some money this week! LOL! First I see the post about Trappistes Rochefort 8, which reminds me how much I really enjoy that delightful treat and how long it has been since I've actually had one.....so that quickly appeared on my shopping list for the next excursion, which will involve going beyond my regular store but to one further down the road which does carry Trappistes Rochefort plus a lot of other goodies..... It's worth it! I know I'll come home with loads more than just Trappistes Rochefort, though..... That store is a beer/ale lover's Mecca (also a wine drinker's Mecca, for that matter). They've got so many lovely choices, from American craft beers to beers and ales from all over the world.

So this evening I ran across the posts about making Ragu -- however, what really caught my eye and attention was not the Ragu, but rather the mention of gremolata. I wasn't familiar with this but the description was enough to know that I really should be -- as a lemon and garlic lover it's right up my alley! When I checked out recipes I also ran across mention of something called a Microplane, and when I explored that more thoroughly realized that one of these is definitely a tool that I should have had in this household a long time ago. It will make grating/mincing garlic significantly easier, not to mention lemon rinds and zest as well. Amazon order already placed..... :)
 

shadow puppet

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-- however, what really caught my eye and attention was not the Ragu, but rather the mention of gremolata. I wasn't familiar with this but the description was enough to know that I really should be -- as a lemon and garlic lover it's right up my alley! When I checked out recipes I also ran across mention of something called a Microplane, and when I explored that more thoroughly realized that one of these is definitely a tool that I should have had in this household a long time ago. It will make grating/mincing garlic significantly easier, not to mention lemon rinds and zest as well. Amazon order already placed..... :)
From one lemon & garlic lover to another, your microplane will change your life. :)
 

Clix Pix

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It arrives Friday, and I've already got the necessary ingredients for gremolata on my shopping list.....actually have some garlic and lemons on hand now but it will be good to get new and fresh ones, too, and I don't have any parsley at the moment. The minute I read the mention of the Microplane I thought, "huh, what's this, it sounds like something I really could use!" Gee, time to stop trying to use a knife on either the lemon or the garlic, and somewhere in the back of one of the kitchen cabinets the old grater is still lurking but I hated that thing and long, long ago stopped using it. Looking forward to this new MicroPlane thingy!

Anyone reading this: mind you, I am in NO WAY any sort of cook, but there are things I do like to prepare for myself which can involve chopping/slicing/grating, whatever.....and somehow over time I have missed out hearing about this Microplane tool. I do have a small electric food processor/chopper/grinder thingy but a lot of times it is either too much of a hassle to bother with or it chops/grinds things up too thoroughly to the point where they're nearly pureed....not often the desired outcome. I just want nicely minced garlic, not pureed garlic!
 
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shadow puppet

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For years I used an inherited box grater that was my Mom's and probably older than I am. When I finally purchased my own updated box grater, after reading many reviews, I went with this one. I like that it has a removable bottom so you can keep everything grated inside until you're ready for it. But it is super sharp. My Mom's had dulled with age so it took some time to adjust to it.

Cuisipro 4 Sided Box Grater
 

Scepticalscribe

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For years I used an inherited box grater that was my Mom's and probably older than I am. When I finally purchased my own updated box grater, after reading many reviews, I went with this one. I like that it has a removable bottom so you can keep everything grated inside until you're ready for it. But it is super sharp. My Mom's had dulled with age so it took some time to adjust to it.

Cuisipro 4 Sided Box Grater
I'm laughing, reading what @Clix Pix has written.

You will love gremolata - I devoured a dish of it this evening with my meal - delicious.

Anyway, I didn't use a microplane, but did use:

1: A (small - 6", but splendidly sharp) Japanese chef's knife, a Shun knife - my favourite knife - which sits perfectly and ergonomically in my hand, and doesn't tire my wrist; around a decade ago, I paid almost £200 (over €200) for it, and I must say that I love it, - for me, this is a perfect knife, size, balance, comfortable to hold and wield, wonderfully sharp, reliable, incredibly light (in my experience, some of the German knives are far too heavy), yet it remains splendidly solid, (and it is beautiful), and it doesn't tax me or tire me to use it - it is like an extension of my hand or wrist - and I use it daily for almost everything. That made short work of the parsley.

2: A four sided grater, similar to what @shadow puppet posted: (Obviously, I used the side with fine grooves for grating the lemon rind): Again, an excellent tool; this is an old - my mother had it for years - grater; some years ago, a friend gifted me with a stylish and posh version, which I have yet to use. I must take a look at it, and see how it works.

3: My sturdy and reliable Italian garlic press, made from metal, and still holding the white colour it arrived in, when my mother brought it from Italy - where she had been on holiday - as a gift for me in the mid 1980s.

I have long been amazed by (and impressed by) how countries (and cultures) such as Italy, Japan, and indeed, Germany, have become so good at designing, crafting, and producing really excellent (and often elegant) versions of the tools we use on a regular basis in our lives.

Now, in the middle of the 20th century, the US used to do likewise - design and produce well thought out, good, solidly made, reliable, and not outrageously expensive versions of the sort of things that people needed and used in their daily lives.
 
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shadow puppet

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Re: the box grater

It was hard to let go of my Mom's for sentimental reasons. One of the reasons I like the newer Cuisipro, is the rubber top handle. My Mom's had a flat, slippery metal top handle. I have arthritis so anything with a rubber, non-stick handle (think OXO grips), is a huge help for me. Especially as my ability to cut and finely chop items has lessened over the years.

But I do relish and enjoy a sharp, well balanced knife. A Japanese chef's knife such as @Scepticalscribe described, is an absolute joy to use!
 

Scepticalscribe

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Well, dang, SS, you are sure costing me some money this week! LOL! First I see the post about Trappistes Rochefort 8, which reminds me how much I really enjoy that delightful treat and how long it has been since I've actually had one.....so that quickly appeared on my shopping list for the next excursion, which will involve going beyond my regular store but to one further down the road which does carry Trappistes Rochefort plus a lot of other goodies..... It's worth it! I know I'll come home with loads more than just Trappistes Rochefort, though..... That store is a beer/ale lover's Mecca (also a wine drinker's Mecca, for that matter). They've got so many lovely choices, from American craft beers to beers and ales from all over the world.

..........
@Clix Pix: On this very topic:

Yes, it seems appropriate to mention that the Trappistes Rochefort 8 (several bottles), along with some bottles of its close kin (Trappistes Rochefort 10), and yes, also including a number of bottles of St Bernardus 12, were all purchased today.

However, while they have been bought and paid for, they have yet to be delivered...........
 

lizkat

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The recent snowfall here caught me stocked up on fresh produce intended for salads... no matter, they're ending up in stir fries and soups instead. And I'm still partial to the occasional "hot salad" tucked into pita halves and microwaved just long enough for the oil in the dressing to heat up and take the chill off the rest of the ingredients.
 

Scepticalscribe

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Pasta e fagioli: (Pasta and beans):

This recipe - classic comfort cooking, soothing winter cooking, what Italian friends describe as "classic peasant food" is deceptively simple, yet utterly delicious.

I started with the classic soffritto: Very finely diced carrot, celery, and onion, - sautéed in olive oil until soft (something that always takes a lot longer than you think), and added four fat cloves of garlic, finely sliced to the (large, copper) sauté pan.

Next to be added was some finely diced guanciale - pig cheek, which - to my mind - is even better - far better - than pancetta, and fulfills a similar function in Italian cuisine; the rendered fat adds a most wonderful flavour to the finished dish.

Once they were soft and translucent and tasty - I added the contents of half of a jar of excellent quality (Spanish, because that was what I had to hand) cannellini beans to the sauté pan. In this instance, a jar was better than a tin, as the jar containing the rest of the beans could be kept in the fridge.

Meanwhile, in another saucepan, water - actually, stock, to which I added some olive oil - was set to boil, at which point fettuccine was added.

A generous half cup (that is, a Le Creuset mug, not the formal American measurement) of pasta cooking water - nice and starchy - was reserved, and added to the sauté pan, where it met with, mingled with, (a stir with a wooden spoon aided this process), merged and married the other ingredients already in the pan, and they were brought to a smart simmer for a few minutes.

The pasta was drained and then, the (rather tasty) sauce added, whereupon dinner was served, with napkins, tablecloths, proper glassware, and so on.
 
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Scepticalscribe

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Reading recipes for Pasta All'Amatriciana.

It would appear that I have all of the necessary ingredients to hand.
And yes, it does appear that I have all of the necessary ingredients to hand.

Pasta All'Amatriciana:

This is a deceptively easy recipe, is very tasty, and is one that uses very few ingredients, but, like all such recipes, it stands or falls on the quality of the ingredients used.

The first step is to prepare the guanciale, the pig's cheek.

Cut off the rind and the peppered side, and discard (although the rind can be retained and used to flavour stock, or soups).

Slice it, and then dice it, and put it into a large pan (I used a large copper sauté pan) where a small quantity of olive oil has been heating. The diced guanciale will become translucent and transparent, the fat will render (and will give a glorious flavour to the sauce) and blend with the olive oil.

When the diced guanciale has rendered - and you can stir it with a wooden spoon - the meat soft, the fat luscious and succulent, add a small glass of white wine to the pan, and stir, allowing the alcohol to burn off.

Meanwhile, prepare the tomatoes: These will come from a tin - San Marzano (an excellent Italian brand, for preference); Open the tin, and tip the contents into a bowl or dish, where you mash them and cut them up; season them (with sea salt, - some recipes insist that this is not necessary as the guanciale is already quite salty - but I am of the opinion that tomatoes, in common with potatoes and eggs, that tomatoes also require the addition of some salt - freshly ground black pepper, and a dash of sugar, I used organic brown sugar); this is then added to the sauté pan, where the chopped and sautéed guanciale awaits; let this cook, at a simmer, stir occasionally, for around twenty minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, prepare a green salad if you wish: Today, I used mixed leaves (organic), and prepared a dressing: Olive oil, red wine vinegar, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, locally sourced organic runny honey (instead of sugar), French mustard.

I also grated some Pecorino Romano, to be served with the finished dish.

Water (rather than stock, the sauce will be sufficiently flavoursome, the pasta does not need the addition of being cooked in stock to enhance its flavour) is put to boil, with a little salt and olive oil added, and the pasta is then added once it has reached the boil. When almost ready, the pasta is drained, and added to the sauté pan, and a little of the pasta cooking water is retained, should a little more liquid need to be added to the sauce.

And this is when dinner is served.
 
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