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Monday, May 10, 2021

More At Home Cooking

Hope you all have eaten before reading this post as (sadly) there's no sampling provided.

It's been just over 2 months since I did a home cooking post. (The last time was in early March and previously in August 2020 and late May.) Not only are restaurants open in Nashua, NH, but outside dining is now in full swing. As in May 2020, concrete barriers were placed on Main Street for expanded outdoor dining, and, unlike last year, indoor dining is now permitted with social distancing plus other restrictions. 
 
Last year when restaurants were closed, take-out became a habit for many folks we know. Our take-outs were very minimal, but we'll be supporting local eateries and dining outside again this season. 

But, as you can see here, Grenville and myself enjoy cooking and eating too. In the coming months, we'll be cooking more seasonal meals with the availability of local produce in local markets. As with my previous food posts, there's no recipes or links included below. There's so too many in favorite cookbooks and many more online; some of ours are improvised with what's in the fridge or pantry.
Artisan bread baked in cast iron Dutch oven
Bread baking has continued (but not weekly) and no-knead artisan bread baked in a cast iron Dutch oven remains a big favorite. There's nothing like the smell of fresh bread baking, says Grenville.
Homemade rye bead baked in loaf pan
We didn't cook a traditional St Patrick's Day dinner day this March. We bought sliced corned beef from the supermarket deli and made sandwiches on homemade rye bread. This was a first-time for homemade rye bread complete with caraway seeds, which go everywhere when the bread is sliced.
Focaccia with fresh rosemary and kosher salt topping
Focaccia was another first in bread baking for me. A 10-inch Lodge cast iron skillet was the perfect starter size. This bread is so easy, it will be a repeat baking. Leftovers reheated in a 375 degree oven were great with breakfast eggs. (The chopped fresh rosemary on this bread is just as annoying as those caraway seeds on rye bread.)
Homemade nachos with chicken
Many times, when dining at a Mexican restaurant, we've ordered and shared a loaded nachos plate (and nothing else), so we decided to try making our own at home. Chicken from a store-bought rotisserie chicken was cooked in homemade BBQ sauce (brown sugar and catsup are homemade BBQ sauce basics). 
Other toppings included black olives, chopped plum tomatoes, shredded cheddar, black beans (healthier then refried) and no jalapeƱos for us. After baking, the final creation was topped with sour cream and mashed avocado when serving.
Homemade pizza
Homemade pizza is a shoo-in for an no fuss, easy clean-up weekend treat. We've used store-bought pizza dough and homemade depending on time. Translated this means if we thought to make the dough ahead of time or just had the thought of pizza in the grocery store. Sure, we could've bought a frozen one while shopping, but seldom do. A traditional homemade pizza lets us add our own toppings.
Homemade Detroit pizza
Detroit Pizza is a variation that we tried for the first time this year when dining out. At home, we watched an episode of Cook's Country and decided to give it a try and found it was easy. The base is like a focaccia bread, toppings were pepperoni and a mix mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. The chunky tomato sauce topping was added, as shown, in 3 lines. It was baked in a 13x9 pan. Yes, there were leftovers, which we enjoyed the next couple of days. First-time meals are just us without guests. Next time, we're inviting friends over to play dominoes and will make another Detroit pizza.
Chicken marsala with brown rice and asparagus
Chicken marsala is one of our favorite meals using boneless, skinless chicken breasts. It sounds fancy, but isn't that difficult to prepare and cooks in a single pan. There was another pot for brown rice and mushroom gravy was so good over it. Asparagus was microwave steamed.

Pork casserole with leftover pork roast, vegetables, pasta
This pork casserole baked dish was made with ingredients of leftover roast pork, fresh and frozen veggies, pasta and a cheese topping. It was largish and provided leftovers for several meals.

Pasta Primavera with bowtie pasta and roasted vegetables
Bowtie pasta and roasted vegetables make for a colorful and easy meal with sun dried tomatoes and asiago cheese on top. We serve with a side salad and a glass of white wine, Pinot Grigio right now.
Shrimp with zucchini noodles and other veggies
Besides chicken, we have seafood and shellfish (shrimp) meals and this one above paired shrimp with zucchini noodles, more popularly called zoodles. I can't recall the other added veggies, but suspect that peppers and cauliflower were also included in this meal. Many times, we create a dinner based on what's available in the fridge and needs must be used before the next grocery shopping excursion.
Strata made with focaccia bread and focaccia crotons
Focaccia bread was made again this past weekend (it's fast becoming a favorite) and enjoyed with homemade soup and salad. Then, leftover focaccia bread was used for a strata with zucchini, peppers, onions, ham, dried herbs, eggs, half-and-half. Some focaccia cubes were toasted for salad crotons.

Here's some information on the differences between a quiche, frittata and strata as I was a bit uncertain myself. Frittatas are a go-to for us when the plan is to use veggies quickly.

Frittata: a round omelet and unlike a regular omelet that's folded to make a semi-circle shape with the fillings in the centre, it isn't folded, but keeps the round shape of the skillet. Fillings are mixed into the beaten eggs. To cook the egg's surface, the (oven-proof) skillet can be covered and cooked on a stove-top, then usually goes into the oven to finish cooking the eggs.

Quiche: an unsweetened custard pie with savory fillings; if you make one without the crust, it's a “crustless quiche.” It traditionally includes milk or cream and eggs as the base, and you can add cheese, vegetables, cooked meats, or your choices. As a custard, it's more delicate in consistency than a frittata.

Strata: a sweet or savory egg-bread casserole baked in the oven that can be include a variety of fillings such as meats, cheese, and vegetables. Usually the bread and fillings, including cheese, are layered in a casserole dish with the egg mixture poured over all. This dish can be prepared the night before to allow time for the bread to soak up some of the egg mixture.

How about you — have you done much (any?) home cooking — do you improvise as well ?

28 comments:

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Good bread is hard to find, so if I lived locally I would shamelessly knock on your door and beg for a slice! Before I retired I had to go to Toronto frequently and I knew of a medium-sized, family-owned, Italian bakery that made a whole range of fabulous breads, including the best focaccia I have ever had, and ciabatta buns like no others - but it's a three hour round trip to buy bread and that's just not practical!

Marcia said...

You have been having s good time eating. I must look for a chicken marsala recipe. That looks very good. I'm not baking bread anymore - biscuits, scones, cornbread only. We are actually going to a restaurant (first time since last summer) for a late lunch early dinner today. We have a gift card we got from the realtor who helped us with house purchase we plan to use.

Bijoux said...

I used to make focaccia a lot when I had a bread machine that would make the dough. So good with olive oil and balsamic! I just recently heard of Detroit pizza, so thanks for the photos of it. It almost looks like meat sauce is on it? Or is that just a chunky pizza sauce?

DUTA said...

Cooking and baking allow for so much creativity!
Your photos and the recipes used, clearly prove that.
Bread was and is my favorite food item.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Hi Bijoux, the sauce was a chunky jarred tomato sauce (Classico brand is our choice). The next time, we may top it with cooked chopped meat or meatball slices. The pepperoni can be a bit salty with the cheese toppings. I made the focaccia dough using my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, but it can also be hand kneaded and I've seen online videos where the dough has been prepared in a food processor as well.

Edna B said...

Everything looks so good, but I'm not tempted to cook. I like Domimo's pizza or a frozen one will do when I'm in a hurry. My kids are great cooks. Many of my family members are great cooks. I never got the cooking bug. I'm into crafts. It's good though, that we all dance to different tunes. You have a super day my friend, hugs, Edna B.

Anvilcloud said...

It's must be nice when someone actually likes to cook and bake.

robin andrea said...

Wow! You do some fine cooking and baking there. I used to bake breads, but gave it up a while ago. Your photos are so inspiring, makes me want to try again. Yum!

Barbara Rogers said...

What fun that you photographes all these delicious meals. Thanks for sharing them...it's like what I often like to do, just read through a cookbook. Haven't done it in a while...may go to the library and pick up a few...now that I'm vegetarian, I'm learning lots of new tricks. I admit that I often adjust recipes based on the inventory in the kitchen, but I've also added some interesting things to that...and am waiting till I can use them. Almond flour is in the freezer still. That's what I get for shopping in the "gormet" and "health foods" aisles.

Emma Springfield said...

Luckily I just ate breakfast. It all looks so good.

acorn hollow said...

As of May 7th our governor has lifted all restrictions.(back to normal) We ate out last week for the first time once was lunch only 4 tables of people so no issue there and once for dinner but we were pretty separate so I felt ok. You food looks delicious and home cooking is the best. On both those times we were with friends and the bill I thought was crazy. The price of thing have gone up which I don't blame them as my food bill has gone up.
Cathy

MadSnapper said...

the smell is killing me. ha ha.. and also the drool on my keyboard is shorting out the battery... I would love everthing you showed us but if i could pick ONLY one it would be first loaf of bread

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Lots of home cooking these days still -- when we're not cooking or eating, atn least one of us is thinking about food ;>) . In all the computer problems I've recently had I lost my recipe file which makes me sad -- they were all saved recipes from the internet, so sure I can look them up again. But what I liked about my file was the ability to browse through it for ideas (just like the old fashioned printed paper cookbooks, which I bet you also remember!! ) Your post here is perfect for that and gave me several good ideas. Thank you!! ( At this stage in life, we are enjoying trying new recipes, especially more ethnic food and bread baking.)

LC said...

These days my husband does our mostly healthy cooking. Enjoyed your creations online but may have gained pounds as I drooled over those breads.

Rita said...

Now I am really hungry! Early dinner it is--LOL! ;)

My name is Erika. said...

Dorothy you have made me very hungry. It all looks so good. I wish my husband would eat casseroles as I love them, and yours are making me hungry even if I did eat dinner not all that long ago. And that Detroit pizza looks really interesting. I have never seen or heard of this, but it looks good. You are quite a chef my friend. Hope all is well. Hugs-Erika

Bindu said...

Nice photos. It is nice to have good home cooked meals

Margaret D said...

All look wonderful. We in this house don't have takeaways as they are called down here very often, I cook and if necessary we have our groceries delivered.

Coastal Ripples said...

I can almost smell that bread from here. I’m very impressed with all your home cooked dishes. That chicken masala looks delicious. B x

Christina said...

Oh yum, I am coming for dinner! Your meals look ever so delicious.

Jeanie said...

My mouth is watering -- that bread looks gorgeous! And the nachos look like a real treat. Well, it all looks fabulous. I applaud your getting food photos -- it seems like I never do very well -- when it's done and on the table, we're eating and then I remember!

Joyce F said...

It all looks SO good. I feel like a lazy cook reading this!

Jon said...

OMG - it's impossible to chose favorites. Your nachos are spectacular. There's nothing like homemade bread. The bread available in supermarkets is garbage in comparison. And I want that homemade pizza!

William Kendall said...

And now I am hungry.

Lee said...

I'm about to have my lunch...which is just as well after this!!! :)

David said...

Beatrice, We rarely bake anything...perhaps a half dozen times a year. We do love good bread though and we miss the amazing crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside Italian bread we used to buy when we lived in Chicago. I love a good German rye for sandwiches. My wife loves English muffin bread. Focaccia is a winner for both of us! As for pizza, it has to be thin crust or my better half won't order it... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

L. D. said...

You have made a lot of great foods to eat. Fun.

Linda G. said...

Oh that food looks delicious! We have a new pellet grill, fully accessorized. We are awaiting delivery of the pizza oven. I am looking forward to making homemade pizza, using that oven. So far my husband has grilled steaks and used the griddle to make toasted cheese sandwiches. The grill is one of three retirement gifts my husband received. Shhhh. He doesn’t retire until June 30th and not too many people know :)