We didn’t have much success making delicious food this week. We tried to cook with new ingredients, a risky undertaking which just didn’t work out. Fortunately, I can use those unsuccessful meals to blow through our meal backlog.
We took one on Friday, April 12, when we spent a total of $40.73, and one on Tuesday, April 16, when we spent $6.84. Those two trips leave us with $60.06 in our Challenge budget.
Braised turkey adventures
At the end of Week 3, we had braised some turkey drumsticks, going by these two recipes. We didn’t have any celery or carrot, but I was very patient, properly browning the drumsticks and caramelizing the onion. I thought I did a good job – until I tasted it. Compared to the blanquette de veau, it was just awful. Our French friend insisted it was good and that he loved it, and Hide didn’t have a problem with it either, but I was just so disappointed. It simply didn’t taste like Good Food to me.
So Hide then embarked on the adventure of trying to make it more palatable to me. First we tried making empanadas: crust from this recipe and filling from stir-frying the turkey with red wine vinegar and mixed veggies. I love savoury pastries (enough to be a backer on this Kickstarter project), but we usually make our meat pasties with a KAF pie crust recipe. The empanada crust recipe from Quips, Travails and Braised Oxtails is less work and less fatty, so I really wanted to try it. I’m happy to report that the empanada crust was great. The braised turkey filling took half an empanada to convince me.
Second, we tried adding crème fraîche and sautéed zucchini and mushroom. I couldn’t really taste the crème fraîche and the zucchini was overcooked (I recently discovered it’s better when it’s a bit undercooked and still has crunch). It was okay, but not Good Food.
Third, Hide made a pasta. I don’t know what he did (and he doesn’t remember), but finally, Good Food!
Beans aren’t a part of either of our food cultures: sure, soybeans feature prominently in Chinese and Japanese food, but in highly processed forms – soy sauce, soy milk, miso, tofu. The only other beans to show up commonly in my Chinese diet are azuki beans and mung beans (simply known as ‘red’ and ‘green’ beans, respectively, in Chinese) – and they show up only in sweet desserts. So when it comes to black beans or navy beans or pinto beans or whatever beans everybody else in the world eats – we have no idea.
We are so n00b, in fact, that the very first time we made black beans, we didn’t realize you have to cook them after soaking them. So there I was, asking Hide to taste for final seasoning adjustment when he tells me that the beans are still really hard, and oh look, the package says to cook for 1 to 1.5 hours. D’oh.
Well, we just let the other stuff overcook a bit, and the beans were a little hard, but other than that, the dish was fine. We seasoned with cumin, coriander and garlic, and also included some ground pork, mixed veggies and tomatoes. We ate it with tortillas the first night, but later ate it with rice.
The second time, we knew to cook the beans, and I went for a tomato flavour, using fresh tomatoes and tomato paste. It didn’t come out very well – the beans were overcooked, the tomato flavour wasn’t strong enough, etc. I had forgotten garlic, so the next day I added a whole bunch of garlic paste to it. I liked it much better when it was garlicky, but Hide liked it less. We ate this one with tortillas or couscous.
The third time, we decided to go back to the cumin and coriander approach since it worked well last time. We didn’t have mixed veggies, only peas, but it was fine. By this time, Hide was thoroughly tired of beans.
No more adventures, please
With a big sigh of relief we made the potato stir-fry again. Ah, so delicious! I think it’s my new favourite dish now. This time we used way more potato than ground pork, and I totally overcooked the potato, but even so, what a comfort to eat this homey, Chinese dish. After these unsuccessful food adventures, I don’t think turkey or beans are going to stick around in our diet.