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

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

We open season 3 of Good Eats with pickles. Alton loves all things that are associated with being “American” and this episode’s title reflects that love. The first recipe is sweet pickles, AB’s B&B Pickles are very easy. Very few ingredients, a little boiling and into the jars. These pickles are “refrigerator” pickles- and are good for a couple of months in the fridge, but not technically “canned”. I have to say I’m not a fan of sweet pickles, but I can tell you they smelled EXACTLY like sweet pickles smell. Mom and Grandma came for a visit shortly after they were made, so they are part of the taste-testing crew. The other pickles in this episode were “Summer in a Jar”, which is pickled pear and plum. To be honest, I couldn’t find any plums – strange, I know, but the girl at Publix said they had just run out! Anyway, it was again just boiling and putting the stuff into jars (the same jars I used for the jam).

Products: All the produce (cucumbers, onions and pears) were organic. All else was conventional.

Overall: Well, I don’t like sweet pickles and the pear thing was just odd – and a little to vinegary for me. But, if you like sweet pickles – they would be great!

Mom: “Good. I really like the pickles – it’s amazing they stay so crisp. The pears are very good.”

Grandma: ” The pickles are very crisp – that’s good. The pears are vinegary, but refreshing.”

SH: “I’ll let Mom and Grandma take this one!”

Up next: Mussels

Corn. Luckily, I got to this episode just as corn was coming in season. We start with Better Than Granny’s Creamed Corn (which I doubt) and use some of that to make Cream of the Crop Cornbread. The creamed corn was really easy. Very few ingredient – although some very high calorie content items (heavy cream and butter), but easy just the same. The messiest part is Alton’s method for cutting the corn off the cob. I suppose you could use frozen, but you miss the “milk” that comes with the corn right off the cob. The creamed corn seemed a little too thick for my taste, but was very good. But it most certainly did not taste as good as my Granny’s. I’m sure it has to do with the lack of more fat, though! The turmeric seemed to add some color I didn’t feel was necessary and maybe a little bit of a strange taste. SH was skeptical of the onion, but I’ll just cut the pieces smaller next time. Then, it was on to the cornbread.

By using some of the creamed corn, you get a great corn taste in the bread, but my favorite part of any cornbread is the crusty, crunchy bottom – and this had plenty of it!! This cornbread was easy, although I think I might have needed a bit more buttermilk, since it was a little bit dry.

Products: I did not find organic corn, but it was locally grown and fresh, so that is good.  I found organic cornmeal and used organic eggs and butter. Not exactly healthy, but tasty all the same.

Overall: I preferred the cornbread to the creamed corn, but it would be worth making the creamed corn to get some more of the cornbread.

SH: He wasn’t home for the creamed corn (I only cooked a half batch and a lot of that went for the cornbread), but had some of the cornbread later. About the cornbread he said, “Tasty! You can do that again.”

Flipped upside down out of the pan...tasty

Up next: Pickles!

I’m not a huge fan of ribs, so I made these on a day that we were having guests. Maybe not my best idea to cook something I’ve never cooked before when we are having a bunch of guests, but I made plenty of alternatives and proceeded with Alton’s Who Loves Ya Baby Back Ribs. You start by braising the ribs in the oven then finish them under the broiler. I finished them on the grill because I was making my famous jerk chicken and some pork tenderloin as well – it was a meat fest! The ribs smelled REALLY good in the oven and made the whole house smell good when the guests arrived (always a good thing). I felt like the ribs were a little dry – probably from finishing on the grill, but there were none left and I didn’t even get an after picture because they were gone before I even thought of it! Now, I will caveat all quotes and the quick disappearance with the fact that there was a lot of beer being consumed. It was a “kick the keg” party to finish the keg of beer that SH had brewed (small keg, not the full big liquor store kind). The keg was gone in a very short time and a beer run was needed! At one point there were shots of tequila. Yes, there were designated drivers that did not participate! Anyway, I’m not sure the opinions of the ribs were completely sound, but I’m going to take them!

Products: Not too much organic available, but I used organic sugar, honey and oil. The rib slabs were already cut in half, so I think that made them easier to handle.

Overall: Good as far as ribs are concerned (my opinion). They were pretty easy to make.

SH: “Good.”

Guests: “Yum.” “These are really good.” “Can I have some more?”

Up Next: Corn

Alton loves the science of cooking and the manipulation of sugar and water is all about the science. One wrong stir, one small drop of stray water, and your cooking sugar can crystallize in a minute! Honestly, the thought of molten sugar and it’s burning possibilities scares me a lot. But, I have my pot holders that go to my elbows, so I’m ready to go! The interesting thing here is that it is one recipe, but it is making two completely different items. First, we are making “doodads”, which are basically fancy caramel candies that can be used to decorate fancy desserts. Then, by cooking the caramel just a little further and adding cream, you make caramel sauce. You use corn syrup and cream of tartar to help stabilize the mixture. I find the science fascinating that you start with some hard candy and take it to be a creamy gooey mixture.  And it really works!! You can see the picture of my doodads…

and the use of them in my very fancy ice cream…

I didn’t take a picture of the caramel sauce, but it was also tasty on the ice cream. It’s more like a caramel flavored hot fudge – that’s the texture that it ends up. It was VERY good. And surprisingly simple. This did not help the diet, but that’s another post!

Products: I used organic sugar and cream. I don’t know if it made a difference, but it justifies the high calories – it’s healthy, non-chemical laden high fat sauce.

Overall: Quite easy and versatile.

SH: Different, but good.

Up next: Baby Back Ribs.