Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A big ball of meh.

Had the parentals over for dinner this weekend, something it seems I don't do often enough. I was working with a few restrictions (no bell peppers, no citrus, no pork since they had it the night before).
I had been on a mad hunt for verjus (or verjuice, but verjus sounds much more sophisticated, non? Plus it's how I heard about it first, so that's the term that sticks in my memory.) since I thought I could take advantage of it's acid type flavors to use in place of citrus juice versus vinegar which is TOO acidic and vinegary for many recipes in my opinion. I finally found some at Andronico's (thanks Chowhounds) but then didn't even end up making chicken paillard, which is what I had planned.
Because I was now stuck rummaging through cupboards and cookbooks for some other interesting variation of "chicken breast," I had to make do. I found a raspberry chicken breast recipe similar to this one, and altered it based on what I had.

The recipe actually called for raspberry vinegar (I had fig), Worcestershire sauce (I had!), red wine (I had, but thought port would go better with the fig), and garlic (I only had powder - who doesn't have garlic?!?!). I marinated it for an hour or so in that mixture which didn't seem to be long enough. Grilled it up (and yes, the marinade does burn) and it turned out okay. I wasn't wild about it, but everyone else said it was good and they ate it, so you know. It's not poison at least. Maybe next time reserving some of the marinade and cooking it down to use as a drizzle on top would make me happier.

The next semi-fail came in the way of Ina's string beans with shallots. The recipe calls for three shallots which seems like a lot to me. I knew I had one shallot at home so I picked up one more. Only to find out once I arrived home, that not only was the garlic gone, but so was my other shallot. Having roommates is such a surprising and action packed way of life sometimes! So now, with only a third of the required shallot, I made do. Guess what, the recipe could've used more shallot. Again, it was still a hit and everyone ate it all, but I was unimpressed. I mean, nothing is Aylene's green beans aside from Aylene's green beans, but I did at least want to TRY to branch out.

Finally - a recipe I have had bookmarked for YEARS. And it's not like I forgot about it. It's in my bookmarks, so every time I start to type "foodnetwork" it pops up as an option. Yippee, I was finally making it!!!! And hey, guess what, I totally didn't like it. It was more cheese than cauliflower and I didn't think the flavor was good at all. Again, everyone else liked it - was I having an off tastebud night or am I just too critical? Don't answer that please. At least now I can let go of the dream. Dad doesn't like cauliflower much, but even he liked this (not too surprising since seriously, there were more bites that were just cheese and no veggie at all). I did tweak it a bit though. . . . me and my fat free half and half. . . .

Cauliflower Goat Cheese Gratin
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 cups (1 pint) of ff 1/2 and 1/2
1/2 pound Monterey Jack, coarsely grated (I used Clover Organic)
2 c grated Parmesan (I got mine from the cheese section at Andronico's)
8 oz goat cheese, broken into small pieces
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix the cauliflower, heavy cream, and the 3 cheeses in a large bowl and then transfer to a medium casserole dish. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft and the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

We wrapped up with the God awful black bean brownies which were politely tasted, not really enjoyed, and abandoned altogether once I shared how they were made. I'm not sure that my folks will ever come back after this, no matter how much fun they had playing Wii.

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