I had fun cooking this weekend. I took pictures. I share here the recipes I sort-of followed to make the contents of the pictures.
Saturday it was time to deal with the two packages of mushrooms I bought for $0.69 a piece at Aldi. I hit the 'net and found this recipe:
and then replaced all the ingredients with the low-brow versions I have on hand/care to afford. Sadly, my outlay for expensive shallots backfired -- one of the two in the bag had gone bad :(
Thankfully I had Penzey's shallot pepper spice mix!
Now, as I was chopping the mushrooms, I discovered
- I had too many mushrooms for my skillet*
- Some of my mushrooms were large.
and went to town. I substituted Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, which made for a very thick topping that wanted to peel off since I put my mushrooms too close together. But it tasted very good. Also, I was checking the over every minute while broiling, and the black spots on top, which I took to be a sign of perfection, showed up from one minute to the next -- broiling is a tricky endeavor!
(I can't wait to be able to post a picture of some glorious dish going up in flames.
"Get the fire extinguisher!"
"Hold on a sec, I've gotta take a picture -- this will make a great blog post!")
Sunday afternoon I made Spanish Rice and forgot to take a picture. Pioneer Woman took one for me though:
I kept the 10 oz can of Ro-Tel tomatoes but chopped up a big tomato from my garden instead of the 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes (Ignore the cherry tomatoes and bell peppers. Especially if you are a squirrel. Nothing to see here!)
I had soaked 2 lbs of dry pintos during church Sunday morning, and Sunday afternoon I cooked them (in my wok, no less) while making the Spanish Rice. Instead of using one of the various salty ham products you will see called for in recipes, I pulled a ham bone out of the freezer. After the beans had cooked for a long time I pulled a bunch of the meat off the bone and discarded the bone itself. I'm told adding more salt may be necessary to make up for not using bacon or salt pork, but I was quite pleased with the result.
It took a long time to make those beans. They weren't very flavor-hot -- I used pickled jalapenos from a jar instead of fresh.
Instead of the called for rice and 2 tablespoons tomato sauce I used some of my Spanish rice! I added some chopped-up garden cherry tomatoes for extra flavor and moisture. I left out the cheese. I had some huge bell peppers, which I cut in half instead of stuffing through the top. I didn't parboil my peppers and only baked them for about 30 minutes, which resulted in some pretty firm, crisp peppers at the end. I could have used some more heat and savory in them.
**I know it's not helpful to cannibalise recipes like this and that if I'm going to share I ought to write out exactly what I did, but maybe that's the point: I was doing art here, not science. Following my recipe would definitely not give you the same experience I had, even if it gave you the same dish. To borrow a line from a J. Michael Straczynski interview I listened to recently, you would be like someone at a dance school dancing correctly while counting "one, two, three, one, two, three" in your head and working really hard, compared to the other person who is just dancing. There's a whole blog post I need to write about this topic of creativity and order in cooking, but suffice it to say that I feel mildly apologetic about it. But I have pictures so that should make you feel better.