This weekend’s cooking featured Orange & Yoghurt Pancakes from the February 2011 issue of delicious. The recipe is a bit fiddly – lots of different bowls of things need to be prepared, and it stretch the resources in my (admitted under-equipped) kitchen. To simplify things, I decided to serve the pancakes only with Greek yoghurt and the berry compote – no messing around paring orange peel – but if I were to make this for brunch with guests (as I almost certainly will) I’d give my guests the choice of all the possible toppings. Because I’m still getting to know my kitchen, I burned quite a few pancakes before I’d worked out the right burner to be using, and the right setting for that particular burner, but once I’d worked it out, the pancakes were delicious, and smelled divine.
After an uneventful (ie. without swimming) row yesterday morning, I dashed into work for a brief appearance before flying out to California for the weekend (I’m sort of making a long weekend of it, taking Friday and Monday off work). The "official" excuse for this trip is Jesse & Sasha’s wedding (which I’m very much looking forward to), but the truth is that I don’t need much of an excuse to book a trip to California. I’m also catching up with friends from IBM days, going hiking, seeing Laura, and meeting up with Aimée, who I haven’t seen since high school science camp (which was just as dorky as it sounds).
The flight (Spirit Airlines) was fine, although the part of Logan Airport I was in was a mess, with flights to, from, and through Pennsylvania being delayed and cancelled with serious thunderstorms. I flew into San Francisco, picked up a rental car (Fox gave me a PT Cruiser. I’m not sure how I feel about this), and drove out to Geoff’s place in Mountain View. I was greeted by both Geoff and Jonathan (who has moved back into his old room Geoff’s house), and it was really nice to see them. We chatted, I crashed and fell asleep with the light on, and then I had breakfast this morning with Jonathan (who made some excellent oatmeal/porridge, completely different from the stuff I usually make myself) and caught up with Geoff. Geoff’s an excellent host – it’s always a pleasure to stay with him when I’m in California.
The weather here is gorgeous (providing further proof to my theory that the weather is California is always better than the weather in Boston), and there’s something about the sunlight here that, for me, is magical (maybe just because it is similar to the sunlight in Western Australia). In fact, once I’d been in Boston for a couple of years and came out to California for a week, I suddenly understood why all of the north-east of America thinks that California is fake: it’s because you can’t believe that such good weather and lighting can be for real.
On the agenda for today? Perhaps a swim in Campbell (although, as much as I’m dying to swim outside, I’m a little wary of swimming outside in the middle of the day, and it’s a well documented fact that I’m hopeless at actually making to any form of exercise without the motivation of someone meeting me there), and then lunch with Liesl and Jordan (and perhaps some other former IBMers) at Hitachi. This evening there is a plan for beer and then pizza at Liesl’s house – hopefully this means I’ll get to meet Anna.
Since I’ve been in Boston I’ve been cooking exclusively from Marie Claire Easy.
The book is great – I’m yet to run into a dud recipe. Here’s what I’ve made recently:
- Honey-Toasted Muesli: I’ve been meaning to make my own muesli or granola for a while now, and this recipe was just the thing I needed. I deviated a little from the recipe as written – I couldn’t find any dried peaches so I used pears instead, and the only triticale. I could find was in whole grain form, when I really wanted something rolled or flaky. Luckily, I found some rolled wheat which I used instead. When the muesli was toasting the kitchen was filled with a wonderful smell of honey (and I suspect this would really vary with the kind of honey you chose). I’ve eaten the muesli with thick Greek yogurt, and with milk, and while it’s pretty good either way I think I prefer it with milk. Next time I make it I think I’ll try mixing things up a bit. I’ll probably put in more fruit (perhaps some cranberries, too?) and I’d like to experiment with different nuts and seeds.
- Leek and Pumpkin Risotto: I made this for dinner when Ben and Eduardo came around on Saturday. The only pumpkin/winter squash I could find was spaghetti squash, so that was what I used. I’ve had roasted spaghetti squash and it was delicious with great texture, but I really don’t think it’s ideal for risotto. I almost certainly used more squash than the recipe called for (although I didn’t weigh it, so I’m not sure) as well. There was nothing particularly offensive about this risotto, but it wasn’t exactly flavorful either, something that I think would have been improved by a more flavorful pumpkin. It smelled delicious, though. Still if you heap it with good Parmesan cheese, it’s still pretty good, and excellent winter soul food.
- Lemon-Ricotta Cake: This wasn’t anything like I expected it to be, but it was excellent. The inclusion of the tea-soaked sultanas is a stroke of genius. If I did this again I’d grate my lemon zest a little finer, and if I had an 8-inch spring form pan I’d use it (I only have a 10-inch pan. It worked just fine, although the cake was perhaps a little thinner than I would have liked). I ate this with cream, and it was perfectly satisfying.
- Lemon Delicious: I have a family heirloom recipe for lemon delicious (from my great-grandmother), and while I haven’t checked, this recipe is pretty similar. The outcome was everything lemon delicious should be. Light and fluffy with a creamy sauce at the bottom. Very lemony and very delicious. The recipe says it serves eight, I feel like this would be a stretch. Four of us had no trouble devouring it in a single sitting.
Cross-posted on All Consuming.