What’s for Dinner in May

April 30, 2009

I made part of the What’s For Dinner section of Martha Stewart Living (May issue) – soy-glazed flank steak and spring green salad. If you’re looking for a quick and tasty dinner, I recommend this one.

flank-steakThe hardest thing about this meal was that there were a lot of ingredients, since you have to make a soy glaze and a salad dressing. The soy glaze has ginger, soy sauce, garlic, red pepper, rice wine vinegar and salt. Mirin was another ingredient but I didn’t have it and honestly didn’t even know what it was! We grilled the flank steak and that worked well. I don’t think I’ve ever had flank steak and was worried it would be tough, but it really wasn’t. I also worried that it needed to marinate to really get the flavors, but it was pretty good. Marinating would definitely add to the flavor though.

As for the salad, again, lots of ingredients, but it was also tasty. You quickly spring-greencook some snap peas then put them in an ice bath. I used mache in my salad. You use a veggie peeler to make strips of zucchini for the salad and also add basil and scallions. The dressing was easy – honey, rice wine vinegar,lemon juice, salt, pepper and oil. It had a nice flavor and the dressing wasn’t too heavy. I did serve flank-steak2the meat on top of the greens and I liked them together a lot. This was a winner.

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April 29, 2009

pompom1Martha was nice enough to send me some samples of the Tissue Paper Pom-Pom Kit from Martha Stewart Crafts ($19.99 at Michaels).  This is my first experience with one of Martha’s pre-made crafts. The only craft kits I’ve ever done in my life are the ones you get as a kid. And I managed to butcher those pretty well. I remember for my birthday in third grade I got a kit that supposedly showed you how to make flowers out of tissue paper. I went through the entire kit and did not get a single one to work for me!

I am not a fan of paper decorations in general.  They are mostly simply awful, but these looked like they might be pretty. I opened up the package. You get 3 large pom-poms and 4 small ones.

The instructions were pretty straight forward. You get a bunch of sheets of tissue paper that have been scalloped on the edges and stacked. You fold them like an accordion along premade fold lines. Even I could do this!pompom2

I got it folded sort of evenly. Then you take a wire that is included and fold it around the center of the tissue paper (the directions were unclear about this – they said to position it about 6 inches from the edge. I think it would be clearer to say to do it in the center.)

I got my wire wrapped and pompom3then started to loosen the tissue paper layers. I admit I ripped a few pieces a little bit. I got them all poofed up and it really did make a pom-pom.pompom4

A person who is more skilled at crafting could probably get it to fluff out more evenly than I did, but I have to say it didn’t look half bad. If you are craft-impaired and need to make paper pom-poms (I’m not sure WHO really NEEDS to make paper pom-poms, but whatever).

I still don’t feel compelled to make and hang paper decorations, but if I did,

these are quite nice. They look like flowers. Could you make this yourself without the kit? Definitely. All you would need to do is scallop the edges of a stack of tissue paper. You would fold it in the same way, and would just make sure that you that you did so evenly. Is $10 a lot for 7 paper pom-poms? Maybe, especially since if you have any craft skills at all, I think you could easily make this pompom5for much, much less.

It was fun to make a craft that was easy and turned out just like it should, so for that I will say it is a good thing.

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Glazed Lemon Cookies

April 28, 2009

I’ve been meaning to make the Glazed Lemon Cookies from May Martha Stewart Everyday Food for a while, then I got the Cookie of the Day email about it and that got me off my butt and into the kitchen. Last night was Mr. MarthaandMe’s birthday and he always has gingerbread with lemon sauce, so I just made a lemon sauce last night. Making some lemon cookies felt like a natural extension of that.

lemon-cookie11The dough mixed up and was very crumbly. I had a moment of panic when it felt like it wasn’t going to come together. I turned off the mixer and went at it with a wooden spoon and was able to smush it together into dough.  It was still quite crumbly though and it was a bit messy on the baking sheet.lemon-cookie2

I popped them in the oven and this recipe actually cooked in exactly the time it was supposed to, which might be a first for me with a Martha baking recipe. The cookies didn’t spread much at all.

After they come out, you put together the glaze (just powdered sugar, lemon juice and zest) and spoon it over after they’ve cooled for just a few minutes.  I find glaze to be a bit frustrating in general – not thick enough to be a frosting and too soupy to really stick. I admit I applied the glaze while the cookies were still on the baking sheet. I couldn’t face the idea of having to wash a cooling rack also!

lemon-cookie3I got it on though and let it rest. then I decided to use a little more since I really had a giant bowl of glaze left. The second application stayed on a little better, so maybe let these cool a little longer than the recipe says (or maybe if you take them off the baking sheets they will cool faster).

I liked these cookies. They are very sweet and very lemony with just the right amount of crunch. I also liked the fact that they were very easy to make. No chilling of the dough, no crazy ingredients. Very simple and delicious. A good thing!lemon-cookie4

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Strawberry Shortcake Jellies

April 28, 2009

Gelatin? Really, Martha? Martha has a whole section of gelatin-based desserts in May Living. I find gelatin really unappealing in general (except in the hospital when it’s the only food they will let you have), but I was willing to give Martha the benefit of the doubt. I gave the Strawberry Shortcake Jellies a try. When Martha made these on the show last week they did look kind of cute.

Pureed strawberry

Pureed strawberry

First task was to puree and strain the strawberries and get the gelatin into them. Let me please say here that my gelatin did not make a cute little disk like Martha’s did – mine was kind of gloppy looking.

I got the strawberry into bowls and refrigerated that. While it was chilling, I made the cake. Martha says to use a 9 x 13 rimmed baking sheet. I didn’t have one that small, so I used a 9×13 baking pan. I was just barely able to cut out all the circles I needed from this – it was a very tight squeeze. The cake tasted great –

The cake

The cake

moist and lemony.

While I was cutting out the cake, I was also cooking the cream and milk for the panna cotta. I turned my back for a second and it boiled over making a huge mess. The panna cotta was not hard to make. I cooked it and strained it and added the gelatin. I didn’t have a whole vanilla bean so I just added some vanilla to it. I chilled the panna cotta over an ice bath until it started to set up, although this took longer than I expected.

strawgel31I spooned the panna cotta over the chilled strawberry gelatin and then placed the cake rounds on top. Into the fridge again.

Adding the panna cotta

Adding the panna cotta

We took this out about 8 hours later that evening and I was nervous about the unmolding process. If you saw Martha make this on the show, you know that it did not go well for her.  It was a big disaster, in fact. I had little hope that I could do better than Martha, but I was willing to try. I dipped the bottom of the bowl in warm water and swirled it around. I took it out, dried the bottom with a towel and flipped it. Nothing. I did it again. Nothing. A third time. Nothing. I decided to go around the edge with a knife and then it came out nicely. Mr. MarthaandMe insisted he didn’t need a knife



for his so he shook it after dipping and the cake and panna cotta came out, but the gelatin remained in the bowl. Not to say I told you so, but…..

My Success

My Success

He ended up using a knife to get the rest out.

This dessert was pretty looking, but I did not enjoy mine. I liked the cake. The strawberry gelatin part was ok, not great. The panna cotta was not good in my book. It looks like it should taste like pudding, but instead it ends up being a creamy sort of gelatin that is just not pleasing to my palate. I scraped it off and just ate the cake and strawberry. Then Dude Martha and I ate the cake scraps together and that was possibly the best part of the entire dessert!

Mr. Martha's mistake

Mr. Martha's mistake

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Something Fishy

April 27, 2009

fish-taco1I’ve never had a fish taco. There was a fish taco restaurant that opened near us a couple of years ago. We went in, but walked out. My concern with Mexican food is always that it is going to be too spicy. So, I was excited to see that Martha had a recipe for grilled-fish tacos with radish-cabbage slaw (again, the recipe doesn’t seem to up on the Martha web site yet) in May Living.  I had some ocean perch in the freezer, so I grilled that, after rubbing it with the spice mixture in the recipe. I mashed up an avocado and used some bagged slaw (I don’t like radishes so they weren’t missed). I kept the remaining oil, lime and seasoning mixture separate so we could drizzle on the amount each person wanted. I also servedfishtaco2 this with some sour cream.

This made nice tacos – just enough in them. I loved the taste of the fish in it and anything with avocado is bound to be a hit in my book.  I was all set to chalk this up as a big hit until later that night.

Do you remember a few weeks ago, when I made Martha’s pan sauteed sole? I had an allergic reaction later that night to the sole, which is a fish I’ve been eating regularly all my life. It seemed quite odd to me. Well, the same thing happened with the ocean perch, except it was more severe this time.  Here’s the interesting thing – I bought the perch and sole on the same day at the same fish market. These are both fishes that have never bothered me. I think something happened to this fish in transit or in storage  that caused the reaction I had. Maybe bacteria? I don’t know. But I refuse to believe I am suddenly allergic to fish. So I have to say that although I enjoyed the fish taco at the time, I’m not too fond of it in retrospect!

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Heirloom Tomato Pizza

April 25, 2009

herloom-tom-pizzaThe section in May Martha Stewart Living with pizzas was enticing, so I made Heirloom Tomato Pizza. I must confess though that I deviated drastically from this recipe. First, I didn’t make my own dough. I was going to, but ran out of time so I just used store bought dough. Next, there are no heirloom tomatoes to be had in April in Buffalo, so I used tomatoes off the vine from my grocery store. I did not order the Pecorino Pepato cheese you are supposed to for this and instead used parmesan. I also did not order the guanciale and instead used prosciutto. In my mind, those are reasonable substitutions.  In Martha’s mind,they are probably unacceptable.

I put this together and baked it. It was quite good. I like white pizza like this. I used wheat dough which makes me happy. My tomatoes were ok  – I’ll have to make this again in August when I am overrun with local tomatoes. I liked the sliced parmesan on this and the prosciutto got crispy and it was really good. So, whether or not this counts as a Martha dish, we liked it!

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Honey Teriyaki Chicken

April 24, 2009

Martha’s Honey Teriyaki Chicken (May Martha Stewart Everyday Food) survived a very bumpy ride at my house, but was still good! Here’s the low down. I whipped this up on a weeknight. Very simple to construct – garlic, ginger, soy sauce, honey and rice wine vinegar. No problem. I substituted boneless chicken breasts for thighs.

teriyaki-chickPoor little Teen Martha had to leave for an evening school event and I was feeling guilty because Mr. MarthaandMe has been working so late the past few weeks that it seems she never gets to eat dinner with us. So I stuck this in the oven and cooked it up for her, thinking I could just warm it up for our dinner later.

She liked it and even came back for more, which is unusual. Later, Mr. MarthaandMe called to alert me he was on his way home, so I stuck it back in the oven and heated up the rest of the food (some wild rice and vegetables). Everything was ready when he pulled in the driveway. But then he sat in the car for 20 minutes on a phone call. The chicken was looking a little dark by this point, but I pulled it out and was ready to serve when someone showed up at the door to talk to him about an estimate on some work we need done around the house. So the chicken was on hold again. By the time we finally ate, it was almost 8 pm and poor little Dude Martha was doubled over in agony.

I had little hope that the chicken would be edible at this point- but it was! And it was good! My only suggestion would be that this really needs to marinate before you cook it. We dipped each bite in the sauce since nothing really soaked in. Dude Martha ate his chicken nuggets (his request) but then at the end of dinner asked if he could taste this. He loved it and scarfed down an entire piece. I’ll definitely be making this one again.

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Roasted Mushrooms

April 23, 2009

roast-mushroom1Roasted Mushrooms from May Living sounded like it would an easy side dish to make for dinner, and I happened to have some mushrooms I needed to use up.  Assembly was simple – you dump the mushrooms with pancetta, bay leaves, rosemary, garlic and salt and pepper and oil on a baking sheet and roast it. At the end you add some white wine and lemon zest. It smelled great as it was cooking. It tasted horrible. Inedible. I generally love mushrooms, but this dish tasted far too earthy for me – really, it tasted like dirt. It was truly awful.roast-mushroom2

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Roasted Salmon with Herbed Yogurt

April 22, 2009

In May Everyday Food, Martha touts the recipe for Roasted Salmon with Herbed Yogurt as a special occasion dish. I made it for a weeknight dinner – no occasion in sight other than the fact that I had some salmon hanging around.

My first hurdle was tracking down the Greek yogurt the recipe calls for. The last time I needed Greek yogurt for a Martha recipe I ended up at a small family-owned grocery store where I paid an arm and a leg for it. This time, I cleverly checked the organic section in my big supermarket and there it was for much less.

yog-salmon1This is a very simple recipe. You mix the yogurt with dill and parsley and mustard and smear it on the salmon, then roast it at a high temp. It turned out perfectly. I would never have thought to put yogurt on salmon, but it had a wonderful flavor. This is much simpler than making a sauce. The yogurt topping turns slightly brown and gets a tad hard, so it is almost like a crust. It stays in place, unlike a sauce and I think it kept the salmon quite moist as it roasted. This is a good thing!yog-salmon21

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Cinnamon Oat Pancakes

April 21, 2009

Pancakes are a tradition in our house. When our kids were younger, we used to make them every Sunday. I made them so much, I know the recipe by heart. In recent years, we’ve expanded our Sunday breakfasts and pancakes only happen once every month or every two month. I knew I had to make Martha’s Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancakes as soon as I turned the page in my May Everyday Food.

oat-pancake11This recipe was easy to make, but that being said, I managed to goof it up. You use two cups of rolled oats. One cup you put in the Cuisinart with the other dry ingredients and grind. The other cup you are supposed to leave whole and add to the dough. I didn’t read the recipe carefully enough, so it all went in the Cuisinart. The usual suspects are added to this – milk, egg, oil, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt, as well as cinnamon.

The batter was quite thick and this made a LOT of pancakes. The recipe says it serves 4, but I think it would easily feed 6, especially if you have other food with it.

These pancakes were very heavy and filling. They tasted like oatmeal, which oat-pancake3was interesting. I think they would be better with some chopped apple in them. I tend to like fruit in my pancakes. I almost always add blueberries to pancakes when I make them. These are tasty, hearty pancakes though and will definitely fill your family up. In the recipe, Martha suggests freezing them and then heating them up for weekday mornings. My kids refuse to eat frozen pancakes, so that’s not an option here.

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