Saturday, August 30, 2008

Weekend Cooking

I had high hopes of rest, relaxation, and gastronomy for this 3-day weekend and, being one day in, I am not disappointed as of yet. I got some whole chickens last night and butchered them. The yield vs cost is so good that I feel stupid never having done this before. This is how much I got from $13 worth of chickens:

This picture doesn't include the 2 chickens breasts and 2 tenders that I cooked for last night's dinner, along with some rice and a rustic chicken gravy (I'm not sure if it counts as a veloute because although it had butter and flour it didn't technically have roux). I could've strained the sauce to make it smooth and look a little more elegant but it was delicious just the same:

I took the leftover chicken carcasses and made a white stock, with some mirepoix, herbs, and a sachet, of course:

I didn't get a picture of the finished stock yet, but it looks pretty good. It's colorful but not cloudy and it smells and tastes great. I'm going to reduce some of it for a glace that I'll turn into a real veloute to accompany the chicken roulade I plan on making tomorrow night. The rest of the stock I'll keep on hand for whatever else. This is the first time I've made stock at home and again, I feel kind of stupid for not doing this sort of thing before.

For dinner tonight I practiced making my own pizza dough from scratch and made pizza margherita. I threw a stone in the oven and cranked it at max temp for a few hours before I was ready to actually cook the pizza, so it was nice and hot. Here's a picture of the finished product:

There was a little hole in the dough that caused the tear but other than that minor blemish it was pretty spot on (and no, I didn't cook it on that cheesy perforated pizza pan - I just used it to rest the pizza). Next time I'll need to add a little more salt to the dough, it was kind of bland. I think I'll also dice the tomatoes instead of slicing them. The slices looked nice but when you bit into them you would end up sliding a lot more cheese and tomato off the pizza than you planned to. The crust was the perfect consistency, though. It was just slightly chewy in the middle but it also held it's shape very well, as thin as it was:

It was super tasty. Gotta love that fresh basil - just be sure to add it AFTER the pizza has been cooked. If you bake the basil with the pizza it will at best lose some of the quality of it's flavor. At worst it will blacken and turn bitter.

Tomorrow, as I said, I plan on making chicken roulade. We're going to have some friends over for dinner and they are going to be my guinea pigs. I'm thinking that I might serve pan friend jalapeno polenta cakes alongside the roulade and, if I'm feeling up to it, I might make a risotto for an appetizer just to keep practicing it. Maybe even go the milanese route with some saffron? We'll see... I'll be sure to take some more pictures of whatever I end up doing. The wife said she'll make some dessert crepes, too. :) It's been great to actually have some time to cook at home. With two practical tests next week at school I want to be sure I get all the practice in that I can.


Nina Timm said...

Well done!!! I applaud your efforts for using that chicken to the fullest as well on that delicious looking pizza.

t said...

Finally there are more pictures! I love your writing, it is so enthusiastic! I also love pictures, especially when it is about the food you are so enthusiastically cooking! Keep up the good work. I am envious of you, I am on a steady diet of oatmeal, yogurt and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches now that school has started. I just don't have time any longer to cook s much as I would like too. You are inspiring me. When are you going to throw some BBQ pictures up here?

My Sweet & Saucy said...

Your pizza is calling out to me! Looks utterly delicious!

jane said...

your pizza looks great. i have been working on mine and am happy with the results, but now that i look at yours - i'm all envious :)