Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cover to Cover Challenge: Fennel and Orange Salad with Lemon-Ginger Vinaigrette

I signed up for Mark Bittman's Cover to Cover challenge about a month ago. I feel like I've fallen into a bit of a rut with cooking, and thought having some one assign me a recipe would force me to do something I wouldn't ordinarily do. And I was right! I'm not much of a salad person -- I don't mind eating them, but I rarely make them -- so it's definitely something I've not done before. And it's from Frederik de Pue, who's restaurant Table is very buzzy right now.

I found all of the ingredients pretty easily, though I was unable to find fennel fronds. The preparation was simple enough, with the only difficult step being removing the membranes from the orange slices (I imagine this would be easier with practice). I thought the dressing was especially nice, and I'll probably steal that in the future.The salad didn't work very well in execution though. I worry that I may have used too many mustard greens, but I suspect even if I had been more rigorous in only using the amount called for, it would have still been problematic. They were just too tough! In addition, the raw fennel was more pungent than I care for. One tip that I think would help would be to dress the salad half an hour to an hour before dinner. We do that with kale salads, and it really helps soften up the leaves.

The bacon cauliflower pizza, however, was great.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Weeknight" Coq au Vin

I knew, going into it, that the allegedly weeknight coq au vin was probably not actually a weeknight recipe. That's why I cooked it on Sunday. And I wasn't wrong -- it took me about two hours from start to eating, and while I could probably get that down a bit with practice, it's not ever going to be a recipe I have time for most weeknights. That being said, there's a lot of downtime in this recipe, so if your problem with weeknight cooking is energy rather than time, it could work. Else, wait for the weekend.

It starts by boiling down a mixture of bacon and onion while the chicken roasts in the oven. I used pre-diced pancetta, which worked fine, but it may have been better to use actual bacon to get both a larger dice and a bit more fat. Once it had boiled down and the onions had caramelized, it's time to add the chicken, mushrooms, carrot, and wine. This is where it took me longer than it had to -- it took longer than 20 minutes for the bacon/onion boil to boil down and for the onions to caramelize, so I had to wait to toss in the chicken. Next time, it may work better to start the boil first (or maybe just have the onion chopped beforehand).

Complaints about prep time aside, I really liked this dish. The chicken was juicy with a nice depth of flavor, and the sauce was good. The diced pancetta was a bit chewier than ideal; again, next time, I'll use bacon. We paired this with sauteed cauliflower, whose subtlety matched well with the flavor-forward nature of the chicken.