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Dinner yesterday and today
blaisepascal
Continuing on with the Fresh20 plan I discussed on Monday, we had dinner yesterday and today. If I had known about the differences in prep time, I think I would have swapped them.

On Tuesday, skitten and I made Portobello Sloppy Joes and corn on the cob.

The corn is really inexpensive this time of year (fresh ears of corn at Wegmans for 4/$1), but it also seems a bit immature. The kernels tended to be small, but really sweet. The recipe was very simple: put shucked corn in boiling water, cook for 3-6 minutes, serve, season with salt and pepper. We cooked it for a bit longer (timed more by the rest of the cooking than anything), and Skitten still felt it was a bit undercooked. I don't mind undercooked corn on the cob, as I've been known to eat sweet corn raw from the cob and enjoy it. I suspect that if it was undercooked, it was because our stove doesn't really put out enough heat to bring a large pot to a rolling boil. We added olive oil to the salt and pepper. I wasn't quite willing to pull out the butter for corn-on-the-cob in front of butryophobic Skitten.

Sloppy Joes. I don't really like sloppy joes. Granted, being a vegetarian, I've never had "real" sloppy Joes, but the ones I've had combined two things I tend to not like: messy eating and bad bread (in this case, in the form of hamburger rolls). Sloppy Joes seem to be a variant of a chili sandwich, and I think chili goes better in a bowl. Less messy. The Portobello Sloppy Joes yesterday were not an exception. I suspect that if you like sloppy Joes, you'd have liked them. Skitten did. Personally, I could have done without the bun --and I did, when eating my share of left-overs. Cooking them was fine. The recipe was relatively straight-forward, and well suited for two -- one to stir the stuff in the pan, one to stage the next stuff to go into the pan. Again, a larger pan than my 12" cast iron skillet would have been preferred (especially with the tomato), but we make due with what we got. The one thing I wonder about is the prepping of the mushrooms: it called for 8oz of portobello mushrooms to be cleaned, gilled, and stemmed before finely dicing. If I had realized that all the portobellos would have been diced, I probably would have gotten crimini (same species, but more immature, and less costly) or button (a mutant cultivar of the same species, as immature as crimini, but even less costly). The plan called for cutting 1/2 onion and shredding 1 carrot ahead of time, but not dicing 2 large mushrooms? What's that about.

Overall, the meal was easy to make, relatively good (reservations about sloppy joes aside), and probably worth having again. Except maybe on better rolls. Like a good Kaiser roll. I wonder of Wegmans sells kummelweck?

On Wednesday we had corn cakes and cucumber nectarine soup.

These recipes were a pain. The cucumber soup called for 6 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced. This took a large chunk of the prep-work I did on Sunday. I used the large seedless cucumbers Wegmans sells. Or perhaps I should say the gigantonormous seedless cucumbers. The recipe is to take cucumbers, nectarines, avocados, and spices and mix in a food processor or blender until smooth. We filled the blender, and still had about half the cucumbers left (we got in the other fruits and spices). Not hard, but clearly somewhat overkill. Luckily Skitten really likes cucumbers so now she has a bin full of diced seedless cucumber to snack on.

But whomever wrote the recipe for the corn cakes should be ashamed. I'll give you an example: it called for one egg, separated. The yolk got mixed with milk, flour, and corn tortilla crumbs (toast one tortilla until it is dry and will break, then blend that into fine crumbs), and raw corn kernels (cut from a 5th cob, in prep-work on Sunday). The white -- the white of a single large egg -- was to be whisked until frothy and foamy, and folded into the milk/yolk/flour/crumb/corn mixture to form a batter. The batter was then pan-fried to form the cakes. Once the cakes were out of the pan, into the pan went the ingredients for the "mushroom mixture", which included another 8 ounces of diced Portobello, to cook. Meanwhile, chilling in the fridge is a mix of Greek yogurt and chive. Lots of moving parts, lots of dishes dirtied, not much meaningful prep (I diced the cucubers (ok, that was meaningful) and removed the kernels from the cob). All to end up putting four items on the table for service (the yogurt topping, the mushroom mix, the corn cakes, and the soup).

The meal was very good, despite my griping about the cooking. The soup surprised Skitten, who expected to not like it. The corn cakes somewhat surprised me, as I expected them to be denser than they were. There was a nice contrast between the cold yogurt and the hot mushroom mix, which were supposed to be topping for the cakes. Perhaps the cakes came out too small? If I had more time, and a better understanding of how it should be staged, I might have enjoyed the cooking part more.

We have lots of soup left over, as well as the greek yogurt/chives topping. I ate my share of the cakes at dinner. I'll try to figure a way to bring the soup and some of the mushroom stuff to work for lunch tomorrow. Definitely the soup.

Tomorrow and Friday Skitten will be out of town, so I will be doing the remaining two dinners this week with sheherazahde. We should be having veggie bean tacos and a nectarine salad.

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I loved the sloppy joes and also thought that the corncakes, though overly fussy recipe wise were very tasty indeed.

Whipping the egg white is why the corn cakes weren't dense. And as far as the mushroom goes, I wouldn't substitute ordinary white mushrooms for portobello or crimini - the taste and texture are quite different. I would have gone with the criminis, though.


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