I should be writing down my mental notes about things I’ve made even when I didn’t take a picture.
Tomato Watermelon Gazpacho: I never want to eat regular gazpacho again. I roughly followed this recipe, but I used a little balsamic and champagne vinegar instead of sherry vinegar because I didn’t have any. I also added some sriracha for heat. I blended an entire half of a very large watermelon, used four tomatoes, a large handful of cilantro and three shallots (more like two because two of them were tiny).
Improvements and notes:
- More watermelon (or less of the other ingredients). The initial mix of watermelon, tomatoes and salt tasted great, but the other ingredients overpowered the “fresh” nuances of watermelon flavor and I could really only pick up watermelon at the beginning of a taste.
- Watermelon has to be extremely ripe, for the same reasons above. I used less ripe watermelon from Wegmans for a second batch and it wasn’t nearly as good.
- Cut back on the salt. It wasn’t too salty per se, but the salt accentuates the non-watermelon components of the dish more than the watermelon itself.
- Add heat with a jalapeno or something similar. Sriracha has too much of its own flavor.
- Acid should come from lime. Champagne and balsamic don’t have the right flavor profile (and, in my mind, neither does sherry vinegar)
- Add some mint in addition to cilantro? I’ll have to test this out next time.
- Definitely tastes better after it’s been allowed to rest in the fridge.
Paella: Ugh. Every time I make this, I develop amazing flavor, but I always misjudge how much liquid the rice needs because I make it in such large batches each time. I NEED TO STOP MAKING THIS IN HUGE QUANTITIES. The rice was like poorly done risotto and because it was so wet, I couldn’t get some nice socarrat, even when I fried the paella in a smaller batch in a pan.
- Tyler Florence and Cook’s Illustrated recipes, roughly
- Buy chorizo from Whole Foods. I don’t like the dry cured stuff from Wegmans when it’s been cooked (although it’s great straight out of the package with bread) and the stuff from HMart has a weird sour, almost anise-like flavor to it. And the stuff from HMart has no casing, so the sausage gets too broken up.
- Bone in chicken thighs is the way to go. I was surprised at how moist the chicken stayed, even though it ended up being cooked for a long time.
- 1/3 cup kosher salt to 1 gallon filtered water, with a handful of flour to purge clams. Do this in advance with several changes of water (I only did one, which was mostly sufficient, but one or two clams were slightly sandy).
- I should stop using arborio and order calasparra or bomba online.
- I should try to perfect a recipe using my rice cooker and then fry the rice in a non-stick pan (some of the parts that did brown had a metallic taste from my carbon steel pan, probably from scraping at the pan and the lemon)
Baba Ghanoush “Soup”: Great way to get rid of tons of eggplant (I had a lot from my CSA). Roasted the eggplants with an onion and tomatoes. Scraped out the eggplant flesh and blended it with everything else, two cloves of raw garlic (my breath says one would have been a better idea lol), sesame oil and greek yogurt. Chilled. Garnished with some fried baby eggplant (just sliced lengthwise and fried in copious amounts of olive oil), lightly crushed pita chips (i.e. croutons) and cilantro. Fried shallots would have been a nice garnish too if I hadn’t added so much garlic. My only quibble with this was the baby eggplant. Frying it in olive oil was obviously tasty, but I should have 1. salted the eggplant again after cooking it 2. chopped it into smaller pieces or peeled it because the skin was super leathery.