Before I took a sabbatical  from this blog, I had completed a few more episodes. So, before I embark on the next phase, I’m going to finish up the episodes I finished. First up, Mission Poachable. This episode had three recipes, the first being simple poached eggs. I did this when SH wasn’t home because he has an aversion to any egg that is not scrambled. The poaching liquid for Alton’s eggs is just water and white vinegar. He says the vinegar will “set” the eggs and you swirl the water to keep the eggs from spreading out in the pan. The eggs come out with a soft yoke, which would make SH gag, but I love a good soft-boiled egg. Served on toast, these eggs were yummy!

Next, Alton poaches catfish in evaporated milk, Catfish au Lait. I forgot to take a picture, but I wasn’t a huge fan of this preparation. To me, it just smelled strange and then I really didn’t want to eat it. I used 2% evaporated milk rather than full fat, but I doubt that was the issue.

After the milk fiasco, the next recipe was court bouillon, which is french for short boil. This mixture was water, white wine, lemon, onion, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and pepper. He suggested cooking several types of fish in this poaching liquid. I used shrimp and salmon. I loved this method. The fish and shrimp cooked very quickly (once the liquid came to a boil) and was very flavorful. And the liquid has no added fat and definitely added flavor! I’m surprised more diet people don’t recommend this method of cooking. I highly recommend this one!!

Products: All produce was organic. The eggs were organic. The milk was not (maybe that was the problem). I found some organic wine for the wine in the court bouillon. All fish used was fresh from Publix, but not organic. Although I’m not sure if you can get organic fish. That sounds like research that needs to be done!

SH: I spared him the trauma of this episode.

Up next: Tofu

I’m back!! It’s been a while, I know. I have a few episodes that I have cooked but not written up, so I’ll get those up soon. Here is the confession: I got to a couple of recipes that were either hard, cumbersome or just a food I don’t like. So, I stopped for a while. I also gained a few pounds. UGH. So, here we go again. Can I do it? Well, we’ll see won’t we! For now, I’m going to get back at it – I will explain the episodes that held me up as I get to the write ups! Until then, it’s onto the beans….

Cool Beans! Ok, so, this episode scared me. I had to make 2 bean recipes in very close proximity. We all know the beans song, “Beans, Beans, the musical fruit….etc.” and no one wants to “toot”. But here’s the fact, people: We all fart! On a regular basis. Also, beans are good for you. And, properly cooked beans will not cause much gas. Also, make sure you chew them well – that helps them break down even more. And breaking them down as much as possible before they go through you helps reduce the gas. So, I made baked beans (The Once and Future Beans) and black bean salad.

SH loves baked beans so he was very excited about this episode. And anything with bacon, brown sugar and jalapenos has to be good! You actually bake  the beans in the oven for 6 to 8 hours. Hence, “baked” beans. They made the whole house smell really good and even I, who is not a huge fan, was ready to eat them when they were finally done.

The black beans were faster, but that is because for the salad you don’t want them quite so mushy. I like black beans and this recipe has cumin, lime and chili powder – all the makings of good black beans. I’m not sure I liked that this was a cold salad, but it was tasty and very easy to make.

Products: Everything was organic except the spices.

Overall: The baked beans were very tasty, but I would use a little more vegetable broth to make more “sauce”. The black beans were good, but I prefer them warm.

SH: “The baked beans were better than store bought.” He wasn’t home when I made the black beans!

Up next: Poaching

To say I love pizza would be an understatement. I was excited to see an episode about homemade pizza. Also, you have to love sock puppets as “yeast” and the fact that they are making burping and farting noises to demonstrate the yeast eating the sugars and letting off gas to make the lovely bubbles that are imperative to proper pizza dough.  The yeast puppets have made many appearances on Good Eats over the years and they crack me up every time. I think they are my favorite “characters” on the show!

I have been making pizza at home for years – including making my own dough. So, I thought this episode and Alton’s Pizza Pizza was going to be a piece of cake. Boy, was I wrong!! The biggest problem? The dough has to sit in the refrigerator for 18 to 24 hours! Then, you form it into two balls and it has to sit for another 30 minutes! That much time for pizza just isn’t going to cut it on a regular basis. Many grocery stores sell pizza dough in their bakery department. Our local Publix has even started carrying multi-grain dough that is very tasty. Lately, I’ve been using that dough and I can have a pizza done in less than an hour – including a trip to the store! Pizza is one of my favorite uses for leftover chicken. Sometimes, I make extra chicken solely so I can make pizza the next day.  I chose chicken, spinach, mozzarella cheese (part skim) and organic pasta sauce to top my lovely pizzas. I made this combination because it’s my favorite and I wanted to compare what I normally make with only the dough being different. I’m not sure if I was just over it, but I really don’t think the dough was all that great – especially for the amount of work that went into it. You can make it in advance and freeze it, but I have a recipe that is much easier and if you add whole wheat flour, you make it a little healthier. Kathleen Daeleman’s Easy Pizza Dough still takes a couple of hours, but at least you can get a pizza the same day! I usually make a double batch and freeze the extra. Then, when I want a pizza that night, I take the dough out before I go to work and it’s defrosted by the time I get home. Or, I just go to Publix!  The two hour resting in Kathleen’s recipe is supposed to be in a relatively warm environment. Alton goes on a long explanation about the yeast needing to eat over a longer period of time and it’s better in a cooler environment (the refrigerator). But that takes a lot more time. And let’s face it, most of us just don’t have that kind of time. Especially for something that can be ordered out so easily.

;

This is MY pizza - with the whole grain dough. Tasty!

Products: I used organic flour, spinach and sauce.

Overall: I think the work for this dough is not worth it.  With so many options for pizza dough, Alton’s dough seems like too much work. So, use Kathleen’s recipe if you really want to make your own dough. Or, go to your local grocery store and see if they have dough. Even your local pizza place might sell you some dough! And adding your own ingredients will be healthy.

SH: “You know I love your pizza!”

Up Next: Beans!

The case for butter is to convince people that butter isn’t evil and has a place in the American household. Butter is natural, margarine is not. I’ve been trying to eat more natural and use butter rather than margarine because I’ve been trying to stay more natural. Also, margarines have the dreaded “trans fats”. There are some on the market that don’t have trans fats, so make sure if you go for margarine, you choose one of without the trans fats. Anyway, Alton is using butter at what he says is it’s best. He’s making Raymond Beurre Blanc. The sauce known as beurre blanc is literally translated from french as “white butter”. It’s a rich reduction of shallot, white wine and butter. Alton offers serving suggestions, and I chose to serve this over salmon because that sounded like the healthiest option. I also used about half the amount called for to reduce the unhealthiness of the sauce. Anything in moderation is my mantra these days. The sauce was tasty, but I really don’t think it was worth the calories and effort. I can put a bit of shallot in a little bit of olive oil and cook the salmon in that for just as much payoff with less effort and calories.

At the end of the episode (and it the book), Alton makes a Compound Butter. Making a compound butter is adding an herb, spice or sweet to butter to enhance the flavor. I chose to add chives to some butter and put it on a potato. And again, a lot of work for little payoff. I guess if it was something you kept in the fridge, it might be worth it, but I’m just not seeing it.

Products: Surprisingly, all ingredients (except salt) were available in organic!

Overall: A lot of work with high calories and little payoff.

SH: Sadly, SH was working when I did this episode.

Up Next: Pizza

This episode was designed to convince people that they don’t need the pre-made  instant pancake mixes sold in your local grocery stores. His Semi-Instant Pancakes do take some more work, but Alton promises they will be worth it. The dry ingredients can keep for up to 3 months in an airtight container – so you can make a big batch and have it on hand anytime you want pancakes. That’s a nice sentiment, but you need buttermilk to make the final pancakes and that just isn’t something I keep on hand. And I don’t know about you, but we generally make pancakes as a spur of the moment  – on a lazy Sunday when we want something different, but easy. So having to go get buttermilk at that moment just doesn’t work for me. Also, you have to melt butter and separate eggs to make the batter. Adding some eggs and regular milk to some Bisquick sure seems easier. The only motivation I might have is that I can use unbleached flour and less chemicals. Anyway, I got busy with Alton’s pancakes. Alton recommends an electric griddle, but I don’t have one so I just used my biggest skillet. One thing he recommends is that if you are adding blueberries, don’t add them to the batter, but sprinkle them into the pancakes right after putting them in the pan. I think that is a good tip and seems to work well.

I didn't take a picture, so I googled "Pancake image" and got this!

Also, Alton included a recipe for “pancake frosting” which was maple syrup, mayonnaise, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. You’re supposed to cool the pancakes and make a “cake” out of them with the frosting. I just made a little bit and it was gross. The mayo made it have a strange tang. I’ll admit I don’t normally like mayo, but it really was odd.

Products: I used organic unbleached flour, buttermilk, butter and eggs.

Overall: A lot of work for little payoff.

SH: “Good. It sure took a long time!”

Up next: Butter

NOTE: This is another episode that I forgot to take pictures! However, I’m sure you’ve seen a chocolate chip cookie!

Episode 34 features Alton’s “sister” Marsha and her need for him to make cookies for her to sell. This episode is one of my favorites. Not only because I love the character that is Marsha, but because of the science! In the original episode, he uses subtle changes to the traditional Nestle Toll House cookie recipe to get very different cookies. He creates The Thin, The Chewy and The Puffy. Alton changes the type of fat – cold butter, melted butter or shortening, the portions of sugar and brown sugar, eggs or egg white and the leavening agents – baking soda and baking powder to achieve the different cookies. The book only contains the Chewy recipe, which was fine with SH, since that is his favorite. I have made this recipe many times – is this contributing to my lack of weight loss? Probably! The cookies turn out perfect and chewy every time. I do think the key is chilling the dough before cooking.

Products: I used organic flour and eggs. The chips were Nestle – I can’t imagine using anything different.

Overall: The cookies turned out chewy as promised.

SH: “Yum. We need more milk.”

Up Next: Pancakes!

DISCLOSURE: This episode starts a block of cooking where I forgot to take before and after pictures. I hope my stunning descriptions with make up for the lack of photos.

This episode of Good Eats is a classic and one of my favorites. It’s a spoof on the “Blair Witch Project”, set after Thanksgiving. Alton must use leftovers from the “Romancing the Bird” episode to create meals to feed his stranded crew and family. Alton’s “family” is a cast of characters – my favorite is his “sister” Marsha! She’s the sister from hell and it cracks me up. Alton’s real-life mother appears at the end of the episode and saves the day!

When I did the Romancing the Bird episode, I saved some turkey, made broth and froze both for this episode.  Unfortunately, The 1000 Year Nashville Flood, had other plans. No one told us we were in year 999! The freezer was without power for 4 days and therefore, the turkey and broth were ruined. Knowing I am so much luckier than many others in Nashville, I happily (ok, maybe not happily, but at least without much bitterness) bought and cooked another turkey using Alton’s recipe. Cooking a turkey in August is odd, but I did it. The two recipes in the book for leftovers are “Bird to the Last Drop” and “Turkey Salad”.

First, Bird to the Last Drop is soup. You make broth from the turkey carcass, add some leftover turkey meat, frozen veggies, spices and some rice and boom, you have soup! The broth is tasty and makes a fantastic soup. Adding freshly ground pepper makes it even more tasty. The turkey meat adds good texture and the rice add some good starch to the party.

Next, the turkey salad wasn’t included in the original episode, but I”m glad he included it here.  This was some of the best sandwich fare I’ve had. I’m a fan of savory/sweet in the same bite and this satisfies that taste.  I’m not a huge mayonnaise fan, but this is mayo done right! Adding lemon, celery, onion, pecans, dried cranberries and sage makes this a great blend.  Served on a french roll from Publix, it’s a great lunch!

Products: The turkey was frozen, all veggies were organic.

Overall: Very good and would make good leftovers. I would recommend both for your Thanksgiving plans this year!

SH: The soup was good. Did we really need the onions in the salad?

Up Next: Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have never cooked a duck. I have only eaten duck once. So, this episode was one that I was dreading. Duck! We have to first quarter the duck. The instructions were very clear and made it quite easy! After some marinating, the cooking was quite complicated. You first steam the the duck then put it in a pre-heated cast iron skillet in the oven. Both of these steps render fat in the duck. He had added items to cook in the duck fat – which is some of the tastiest cooking fat in the world.

I cooked quartered red potatoes in the fat from the steaming and cooked kale in the fat in the skillet. I didn’t like the duck itself. I’m not sure if I overcooked it, but the meat was not very flavorful and tough. However, the potatoes and especially the kale were very good! The duck fat was very tasty.

Products: The duck was frozen (as suggested by Alton). The kale and potatoes were organic.

Overall: Cooking in duck fat is great, but the duck itself wasn’t so good.

SH: “The kale is really good.”

Up Next: Leftover turkey.

I am behind on my posts! I really have been cooking, just not writing. SO, here I go. This episode is about using eggs to make custards – both sweet and savory.

The first is a quiche that Alton calls Refrigerator Pie. He have suggestions for additions. I chose cheddar cheese, spinach and ham. I am going to try the recipe again with low fat milk, but for the first try I used the half and half in the recipe. It was creamy and tasty. If it tastes the same or similar with low fat milk (and possibly Eggbeaters) it will be a staple in our house. It’s easy to put together and cooks pretty quickly. Whip some eggs, add some cheese, meat and veggie and your good to go. The reason he calls it “refrigerator pie” because you can use leftovers in it. Pre-cooked meat and veggies work really well.

The next recipe is flan – Flandango as Alton calls it! Flan is a custard that you cook in a water bath. I used the blueberry jam and the caramel sauce in the flan for the sauces. You put the sauce in the bottom of the dish (in this case individual size ramekins) and the put the custard on top. This recipe, too is relatively easy, but takes more work than the quiche. The result is a creamy dessert that is quite tasty. I liked the caramel topping better than the blueberry jam.

Products: For both, I used organic eggs and half and half. I used organic spinach for the quiche. The sugar in the flan is organic.

Overall: Both were easy. I was surprise that the flan was so easy – it always seemed like something that would be difficult. I will definitely try the quiche with lower fat milk and see how it turns out.

SH: He really liked the quiche, “It was tasty.” He didn’t try the flan.

Up Next: DUCK!

We move from an American classic to an item that I’m guessing a lot of Americans have never eaten! Mussels. Mussels are a type of clam that is generally longer than wide and black. They are a good source of protein and low in fat. The mussels are steamed and given a very flavorful sauce. I served them with some good Italian bread to sop up the sauce. These Mojo Moulies are tasty morsels of goodness.

Products: I found the mussels at the fish counter in my local grocery store. I got organic tomatoes, parsley, leek and garlic.

Overall – The recipe takes a little bit of time, but is completely worth it. Making sure the mussels are still alive and cleaning the “beard” takes the most time. Notice the steam in the picture! It’s very garlicky, so make sure anyone you are going to kiss is eating them too!

SH: “Good. The sauce is the best.”

Up Next: Refrigerator Pie