paella, tofu, and mofongo!

last weekend was a bit...out of control.
firstly, i determined that the weekend menu would be paella on friday, tofu steak with rice on saturday, and mofongo (fried mashed plantains) on sunday. so that was already ambitious.

secondly, i acquired a new book of chocolate cookie recipes and decided to take the weekend and explore all of the ones i felt worth trying--mostly the “healthy” ones, to see what i could see, but also a few experiments.

then, on a whim, i decided that since i had the entire weekend, and a full pantry, to finally have another go at my holy grail of baking: martha stewart’s danish dough recipe. and on a second whim, i decided to finally try the bittersweet chocolate chunk bread from chocolate, chocolate.

i was exhausted at the end of it--but pleased. best of all, it only required--out of the entire weekend--a brief stop at whole foods on friday night for a few specialty ingredients. i did eat a late dinner all three nights, i admit, but i was overall very proud of my attempts for the weekend.

to begin with: paella. it took much longer to simmer than i thought it would, but the effort of inaugurating my new paella pan was well worth it. i took the recipe from my tapas book, and halved it. i accidentally used too much tomato sauce, but other than that, it was quite tasty and overall very simple to make. what took so long was allowing the stock/sauce mixture to simmer with the rice.

saturday morning i started off with a loaf of bread (note to self: always use wheat gluten with bread machine recipes--there was a marked difference in the strength of the bread and the texture). then i dove into the cookie book and tackled:

tofu chocolate chip cookies
“banana split” cookies (banana cookies with chocolate chips and bits of strawberry)
white chocolate chocolate chip cookies
“nearly nonfat” chocolate cookies (with chips)

the tofu cookies, although it was odd to work with the tofu, are surprisingly tasty. the nearly nonfats are pretty good, but also a bit crunchy. i liked the flavor of the white CC cookies, but the chocolate caused them to spread just all over the place into these huge, flat, crispy discs. i liked the crunch, but not the spread. the banana split cookies are fun, but i am not sure how much of a fan i am of the addition of rolled oats that the banana cookie recipe called for.

the danish dough: as expected, when i approached the recipe with the proper tools (like the stand mixer) and the proper time (the entire weekend out in front of me), the challenges were considerably less than i had imagined. yes, it took the entire day. yes, the butter was messy. but once i did the original kneading, i could see how it would come together: the dough has to absorb the butter (hence the long periods of refrigeration) and you have to create the layers. i’m still unclear as to whether or not i executed the layer creation properly. i tested a danish on sunday morning, though, and found nothing to complain about: it was fresh, buttery, and not all loaded down with icings and sugars like a commercial product would be. next time, i want to use butter in the inital dough but margerine or some other alternative in the later stage, and also substitute some whole wheat flour for the regular flour. if there is a next time...but now, at last, i can try all of those little danish dough variations in the MS baking book, like the sugar buns and the chocolate danish.

flatbread: took FOREVER, and i’m not sure if the result was entirely worthwhile. also, to my surprise, the dough never really ‘rose’ the way i’ve come to expect dough to rise. it almost looked like really thick cookie dough all the way until i pulled it out of the oven and got bread instead. it is yummy, but nothing especially outstanding, and i don’t know if i consider the time expenditure to be worth it. especially since the dough is not easily frozen.

what really consumed my sunday and made me feel more tired was yet another trip to the farmers market, where i totally overstocked on cherries, blueberries and raspberries. mostly because they looked just so good, i couldn’t stand the thought of not having them later. so i bought them anyway and spent the entire afternoon prepping and cooking them so as to still have them available later this summer, when i don’t have the chance to hit the market every week. with most of the cherries i made compote for the danishes, although i froze at least a quart of them for later snacking; i froze a lot of the berries and plan to make a frozen yogurt with them, and also threw a lot of them into a fruit salad. i got ricotta and mascarpone cheese and made cannoli cream, which tastes like a whipped cream. it’s incredible. i just can’t decide if it’s better or just different from the more icing-like variety i’ve gotten at vacarro’s in the past.

so, the tofu--i wanted to try something just with tofu to see if it could really be edible and the verdict is...not really. it was good, but i think as an addition to some meat instead of as a substituion. the rice i made was awful. simultaneously too sweet and too spicy and just...gross. i used the jeweled golden rice recipe from the cherries section of the eating well magazine i picked up last week and i was very disappointed. in fact, the only really satisfying recipe to come from that section has been the compote recipe from the cherry slump. the BBQ chicken was...interesting, but not great, and the pannacotta compote uses dried cherries, which totally changes the taste and texture of the mixture.

and the mofongo, i was shocked, but it was actually really good. i threw some ground turkey into the mushroom sauce, and poured that over the plantains, and the result was surprisingly sweet with a really interesting texture. i couldn’t eat it every day, or even in particularly large quantities, but i did like the adventure of the entire thing.

No comments: