Dutch Babies (Round 5), Kingfish Dinner, Three Recent Meals
First, it appears I forgot to mention that I planted some succulents (from Wegmans) in a large bowl a while back (idea and bowl from Anthropologie). I know nothing about growing succulents, and I was pretty sure they would die since I just threw them in a bowl with some dirt, but they seem to be doing just fine! I was also worried we'd have a fungus gnat problem, but I've been keeping them pretty dry, and we're not having any problems yet.
We had our fifth batch of Dutch babies this weekend (fourth, third, second, first). Surprisingly, we're not sick of them yet! This time, I pretty much followed Orangette's recipe, but with less butter and milk instead of half and half. This is also pretty much identical to the recipe we used in batch 2, but this time distributed between two 6-inch skillets instead of one 12-incher. I used 4 large eggs, 1/2 c milk, 1/2 c flour, 1 T sugar, 1/8 t salt, 1/8 t vanilla, and a pinch of cinnamon for the batter, with 1 T butter divided between two 6-inch skillets, baked at 425F for 22 min (I was going for 25 minutes, but they were looking pretty dark, and I felt compelled to remove them at 22 minutes). I baked the fourth batch in the top third of the oven, and I think this made the pancakes brown too quickly. So this time, I put the shelf in the lower third of the oven, which I think helped the pancakes bake all the way through without overbrowning.
These babies turned out pretty well. If you're looking for dense, eggy Dutch babies, this is a good recipe to use. After eating Dutch babies five weeks in a row, I think I prefer mine thinner and lighter, more like batch 3. Patrick can't decide which type of Dutch baby he prefers. So we're going to conduct our next Dutch baby experiment optometrist style. I'm going to make (1) using the ingredient ratios from batch 3 and (2) using the ratios from batch 4 (baked longer, in the bottom third of the oven). We will each eat half and decide which we like better--(1) or (2). The winner will then go on to compete with a pancake made with batch 5 ratios. Once again, I feel like I should be doing this more scientifically, but it's hard to objectively evaluate the results. But I could make such fancy tables and graphs! I just learned how to use JMP; I'm sure I could do some useful pancake analysis with that!
We had a so-so meal at Kingfish in San Mateo this weekend. This was our first time dining there; we'd walked by in the past and thought it looked promising. There was nothing blatantly wrong with it, but it wasn't an amazing meal. I like CreoLa and NOLA better. Our waiter at Kingfish seemed really nervous and kind of creepy. The food was okay. The bread was soft and pillowy, like focaccia but without much flavor. The olive oil and balsamic vinegar dipping mixture didn't have much flavor either. Patrick had a butterleaf salad with golden and red beets, goat cheese, and hazelnuts. The lettuce wasn't great, but the rest of the salad was good. I very much enjoyed my cup of Aunt Pearl's Beer 'n' Crab soup with garlic croutons. I would've been happy making a meal of it.
My entree, sugarcane-skewered seared scallops with sweet potato hash and mandarin orange glaze, didn't thrill me. The hash was mainly composed of summer squash, which didn't go with the mandarin orange glaze, in my opinion. I liked the crispy sweet potato shoestrings atop the scallops, but I would have enjoyed the use of sweet potatoes in the hash as well. Patrick liked his entree--andouille- and sundried-tomato-crusted king salmon with sweet corn risotto. It was tasty (especially the risotto) and very filling. I would've liked it if the dishes used more seasonal ingredients, but I guess that's not their main focus. Meh. I'd rather have a burrito or ramen if we're in San Mateo.
We skipped dessert at Kingfish and went for pearl milk tea at Quickly, the site of my ill-advised fiber milk tea experience. We split a plain pearl milk tea (Patrick isn't as adventurous as I am in terms of pearl milk tea flavor selection, which is probably wise). Quickly's pearl milk tea is definitely not as good as that at Tapioca Express in Mountain View, but it'll do in a pinch.
Three recent meals:
1. Broiled Salmon with Marmalade-Dijon Glaze (to use up some of our inferior orange marmalade), Caramelized Rosemary Pears, and Butternut Squash with Shallots and Sage. The salmon was fine, but I liked the last salmon recipe we tried better. The squash was pretty boring, which was disappointing. We loved the pears though! I accidentally added a little balsamic vinegar to them when they were done cooking, and I think it complimented them nicely.
2. African Sweet Potato Stew with Red Beans, Stewed Okra with Tomatoes, and Pan-Grilled Flatbread (recipe from Baking Illustrated). The stew was good; I think it improved with age. It was sweet and filling and peanut-buttery, and I got to use our crockpot! The flatbread went well with it and was pretty easy to make, since I prepared the dough the night before. Not as good as the stuff you can get at a restaurant, but for homemade I was pleasantly surprised. The okra was really good, especially considering how simple it was to prepare. I'm an okra fan--I love the sliminess and the chewy seeds. Even if you're not a fan of okra mucilage, you might like this recipe. The sliminess is well-contained because the pods are cooked whole. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Yum! (Pictures by Patrick; I was too busy grilling flatbreads)
3. Smoked Ham Soup with White Beans (I used a frozen ham shank that I picked up on the cheap from HoneyBaked Ham a while back, Rancho Gordo runner cannellini and marrow beans, diced parsnips, and chopped chard) and the last of our Buttermilk-Dill Rolls from the freezer (I love those things; I'm going to make another batch shortly with the leftover buttermilk from the batch of Chipotle-Bacon Corn Muffins I made tonight).
The soup turned out great! Ham shanks make things so tasty. Next time I should remember to remove the bay leaves before adding the chard; we've got a bay leaf missing in action somewhere in the soup leftovers, well-camouflaged by all the chard.
I made two loaves of Ina Garten's Lemon Yogurt Cake (recipe from Barefoot Contessa at Home) for dessert using low-fat vanilla yogurt and omitting the glaze. I wanted to use up the yogurt because I'd bought it mistakenly (I'd meant to buy plain yogurt, which Patrick much prefers), and the cake looked promising. It turned out well, after I got over the notion that it should taste like pound cake (it's definitely missing the richness and fullness that a pound of butter can give a cake). It's probably lower in calories and fat than poundcake, but it's still not healthy, unfortunately. I took part of a loaf to work with me, and I froze the other loaf, pre-cut, for snacking. I love the flexibility that freezing food gives us. I had some trouble getting the lemon syrup to soak in, even after I poked holes all over the top with a skewer, but after three or four rounds of pouring syrup runoff over the top, most of it was absorbed, and it turned out very moist (but not soggy).