sweat 1 medium onion and 2 garlic cloves in 3T each butter and olive oil. Add 4T flour, cook. Add 4c. water, and simmer until slightly thickened. Add 3 bay leaves, some basil and thyme, 1/4c. brown sugar, 6 fresh tomatoes, seeded (reserve 2 for later) and 1 28oz. can of whole tomatoes. Simmer for an hour. Add splash Grand Marnier. Remove bay leaves, add reserved tomatoes, blend until smooth, stir in 1c. cream.
The soup was very good, but needs a bit more oopmh. Maybe add a red pepper to the sweat, and I'll replace some of the water with chicken stock next time. Also on hand were about 2 pounds of criminis, so I made a mushroom risotto (basically America's Test Kitchen recipe):
melt 3T butter, add 1 chopped onion, 2 cloves garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until softened. Add 2c. rice, cook about 3 minutes. Add 1.5c. champagne, cook until absorbed. Add herbs, and gradually add hot chicken stock in the usual way until done. Add 3/4c. grated parm. reg. and 1t. thyme.
ctseawa came over, made an excellent simple pan-fried roast chicken, and we had a feast. Met cow for dessert at B&O Espresso. A wonderful night.
The Sunday after that, I met ctseawa at Whole Foods to plan dinner, as he was hosted several friends that night. The menu ended up being roast asparagus with parmesan and balsamic vinegar, scalloped potatoes, sliced buffalo steak, and deep-dish apple pie (Lee and I both thought the sour cream crust was the best ever, but I want my filling to have more sauce than the ATK recipe makes). My contribution was another mushroom risotto (this time using several dried varieties) with pancetta. The soaking liquid was added to the stock, which intensely flavored the whole dish, and Lee used some of the fat, from crisping the pancetta, to cook the very lean buffalo. Recipe largely as above, except I can't remember what wine we used. A truly outstanding meal.
I've also done quite a lot with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which are the most versatile cut of meat I know of. First was a simple mint-cilantro chicken (make a pesto from mint and cilantro leaves, garlic, and olive oil, smother chicken, roast at 350 degrees); it was good, but needed more flavor. I think a pre-cook marinade might help. Another dish was basic chicken parm (flour, egg, bread crumb+spices+parm coating, pan fry, cover with fontina, bake with sauce); easy, but hearty and tasty.
On the sweet side of things, my only production was ATK's dark chocolate cupcakes using some Callebaut I picked up. Very, very tasty, but the texture was a bit off. It could be because I screwed up the recipe (accidentally used too much butter), or because I tried doing a double batch. Worthy of another go, at any rate.
The New Urban Eats promotion I mentioned has become something of an obsession for me. I've visited 4 places so far, and intend to continue going every Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday that the promotion runs (Tuesdays and Thursdays being gym days, of course). The best by far has been Red Fin, where seleniumdream, his girlfriend, and their roommate and I had an amazing massive sushi feast. Qube and Barolo were also very good, while Cucina De-Ra was merely good. More detailed reviews are found on the nwsource site above, under my handle of touristinresidence.