Friday, April 30, 2010

Cooking with Ina Garten

Tonight I made one of Ina Garten's recipes... with a few changes of course.  I made Zucchini Gratin, only I'm pretty "free form" about following a recipe like this one.  Ina's recipes are always amazing, but sometimes I don't have her ingredients on hand (like gruyere cheese) and I just like playing around with things.

These are the ingredients:  Full recipe with all the instructions 
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for topping
  • 1 pound yellow onions, cut in 1/2 and sliced (3 large)
  • 2 pounds zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick (4 zucchini)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup hot milk
  • 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup grated Gruyere

    I used 2 zucchini and 2 yellow squash and a red onion rather than yellow ones, all sliced up super fine on the mandolin.  I used a pint of whipping cream instead of the milk and put in a block of Monterey Jack and one of Extra Sharp White Cheddar and topped it with Panco instead of bread crumbs.  Then I remembered that I had some nice crispy bacon in the fridge, so I threw that in.  Mercy... it came out of the oven all hot and bubbly... I knew it was going to be good.  Actually, it ran over in the oven and so the kitchen and family room at my house had a bit of a smokey haze for a while but everything that was still in the baking dish was fine.  And I'm going to replace this range, so I'm not even going to bother to clean the burnt stuff on the bottom of my oven.

    My neighbor brings me trout, fresh from the stream in West Virginia.  He is quite a fisherman and neither he nor his wife will cook them so he brings them to me.  Six this time, I haven't even finished all of the last 12 he brought, eight of them are dressed and in my freezer.  Tonight I cooked two of them "Trout in Cartoccio" style sort of like this recipe but without the additional veggies.  It's pretty simple, the fish bakes inside a parchment bag with some fresh lemon, a spring onion, thyme, salt and pepper, white wine and olive oil.  I used foil instead, so there wasn't quite the "OOOh AAAAh" kind of presentation that the parchment is... but when poaching/steaming/baking two whole fish with the bones in... well... it's going to need a little attention before serving anyway.  And who do I need to impress?  (nobody.)   

    When the fish comes out, lift the top skin and gently lift off the top meat.  Then lift out the entire rib cage, believe it or not most of the pin bones will lift right out with the ribs.  Then just lift the rest of the meat from the skin and top it off with some pan juices.  This takes only a few minutes and can be done quickly while the fish is still hot.  I've done it before the creature was cooked and it takes FOREVER to get the critter out of it's skeleton, believe me!  Especially getting those pin bones out!  And it takes a fraction of the time doing it this way. 

    I made green beans almondine and baked a few biscuits and hubs stirred together an impromptu version of tarter sauce.  He used good mayo, pickles chopped fine and some garlic and a little Worcestershire.  It was quite good.

    We were both too stuffed to even consider dessert.  And I'm not hungry anymore.  I suspect that was the point.  (Though perhaps overdoing it like I did wasn't exactly the point.)

     I've made some small quilts today, photos coming.  And I also got word back from the Doc that I am no longer anemic, so that's really good news.  I need to try to take it easy but I'm not doing a very good job at that.  There is much to be done before I take my work to the gallery on Monday for my one woman show May/June.  Time is tick-tocking right on by, but that's OK.  I've got enough glass and dyed scarves for the exhibit, and I'll be finishing up the rest of the textiles this weekend.  I have a ton of details to finish up... it will all come together.  Somehow it always does.

    Happy Creating
    (and happy cookin!)
    -Carmen Rose

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