Something I've cooked recently: I cooked the things I mentioned in the last post. The chicken fricassee with anchovies and olives turned out salty, as I ought to have expected, but it was nice when eaten with lots of polenta. The meatball soup was delicious even though it was made with supermarket chicken stock and supermarket frozen meatballs (also a tin of tomatoes, a bunch of chard including the chopped-up stalks, some barley, and a couple of minced cloves of garlic cooked briefly in olive oil and stirred in at the end of cooking for a nice garlicky kick).
Today I cooked some lentils (the nice little French green ones) with lamb merguez sausages. It was very simple and turned out well. I browned the sausages in olive oil, then set them aside and briefly cooked a couple of finely chopped shallots in the oil, added three minced cloves of garlic and a pinch of whole cumin when the shallots were ready, then added the lentils, some chicken stock, and half a bay leaf. I added water as needed as the lentils cooked, and once they were pretty much done I put the sausages back in to simmer for ten minutes or so--that way the sausages weren't overcooked and the lamb flavor didn't take over the whole dish. At the end I added some parsley and mint--I can now advise you not to bother with the mint unless you have a cheap source for decent quantities, because it didn't do much--and finished the dish with feta crumbled on top and a bit of harissa.
And I did end up making a Bailey's cake of sorts. It turned out that I didn't have any eggs and didn't feel like going out to buy any, so I modified a recipe for a very 1960s retro dish called "chocolate pudding cake," which has a cakey layer on top and a gooey chocolate sauce/pudding underneath. Its chief virtues are simplicity and not requiring any eggs. In its original form it's absurdly sweet and not very interesting, so I reduced the sugar, upped the cocoa powder, added some espresso powder, and used 1/2 cup of Bailey's in place of the same amount of water and milk. These changes improved it a lot, but one of these days I'll have to make a proper cake. I thought about making one today but I turned out to be almost out of sugar.
Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: I don't know how near, but I seem to have committed myself to cooking the quails stuffed with sweetbreads, in that I have bought some frozen quails. And I found an actual local butcher shop that can readily supply sweetbreads, as well as house-made charcuterie and all kinds of other treats, including the lamb merguez I used in today's stew. Not sure what I'm going to have with the quail, but I'm thinking about a mushroom risotto. I feel a bit ridiculous and a lot extravagant, cooking such fancy things just for myself, but on the other hand there's something to be said for the Hannibal Lecter philosophy of treating oneself as a most honored guest. This would be TV Hannibal, obviously; other versions of the character are (even more) terrible role models.
Something I vaguely intend to cook someday: I've got a recipe for a chicken pie stuffed with chicken livers that I want to try. I should probably make other pies too in the next few months, as this cold weather is far better for most pastry-making then summer heat. And I'm still craving soups and stews. This is part of the reason I'm using commercial chicken broth: my need for broth/stock has far outstripped my consumption of chicken and thus my accumulation of chicken bones, and I can't quite bring myself to buy chicken just to make stock from it.
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