Random Food Experiments: Crostini with Smoked Trout, and Homemade Vinaigrette

(Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links included where possible and I deem them relevant. I’ll earn a small commission, as described in my privacy policy from eligible purchases made through these links.)

 

Disclaimer: I have no intentions of turning this into a food blog. Not even a healthy food blog. I simply don’t have the cooking know-how or inclination, and I’m absolutely terrible at planning meals so I rarely cook anything (besides, say, several helpings of roast chicken) that requires making it far in advance or deliberately intending to have leftovers.

Heck, it isn’t even supposed to be a “fitness” blog–all that had the ulterior motive of embedding my YouTube videos for extra views, exploring the creative process as I (theoretically) learned more about how to actually make decent videos, and, thanks to the blog’s intended purpose of book and product reviews… link to some of the gear I used or games I played in the hopes of selling some things through affiliate links. And perhaps once I’ve got my room decluttered I can get back to something vaguely resembling a schedule of such posts, in addition to the actual “book reviews” that I just plain keep procrastinating on and don’t actually require decluttering before I can properly tackle them.

 

But speaking of product reviews, there are a couple of foodie products I’d like to rummage up that are related to my oh-so-slow attempts to eat healthier.

One is a Pesco-Mediterranean cookbook, and the other is the AeroGarden brand vinaigrette maker.

 

The first one isn’t a cookbook per se, it’s a “28 day meal plan,” but as specialized diets have a tendency to not be budget friendly I’m simply not doing that. For me, it’s a way to find interesting recipes to try to change up what I’m eating now and then for a gradual improvement, not a permanent lifestyle change.

With that, I started out by selecting two specific recipes I wanted to try: one, the Crostini in the post title, that I reasoned would be the easiest to make, and the other, a pancake recipe, would be most similar (albeit with healthier ingredients) to foods I’m already familiar with.

So far of the two I’ve only tried the Crostini, and for all that the recipe was easy, there were… challenges involved.

See, as little experience as I have I’m moderately sure there’s some cardinal rule about not (over)experimenting with recipes until you know how the recipe as written will turn out, but as mentioned previously, some recipes as written are not exactly budget friendly. Not to mention forgetfulness or simple unavailability of ingredients can play a role. Case in point, when I went to buy groceries, I factored in what we normally keep in the house and reasoned that I only needed the French bread, smoked trout, and cream to make this one work and added those to my list of things to buy… but had not factored in how the cooking would be done and had bought single-serving French baguettes, thinking I’d just slice them in half without ever realizing that would interfere with the instruction to “toast both sides.” Likewise with forgetfulness, I had not looked to see if we were out of anything we “normally keep in the house” and had ended up using avocado oil and a garlic and herb blend in lieu of returning to the store for the olive oil and onion powder the recipe called for. As for overall lack of ingredients? I wasn’t driving the distance it would take to get somewhere that sells cream fraiche, so I chose cream cheese (whipped for ease of spreading) from a list of recommended substitutes on the grounds that I’d have more use for it outside of such experiments than any of the other suggestions.

Also I opted to try it with smoked salmon in addition to the recommended smoked trout, and the next night I finished off the leftovers with a fried egg on top. The only thing I didn’t like was the tendency for everything to fall off the toast (even before I added the egg), so that’s something else to experiment with.

 

While I did like the result with the avocado oil, it is more expensive than olive so I prefer reserving it for when I intend to use it and not as a substitute.

As such, forewarned by this incident, I bought more olive oil in preparation to make those pancakes (as well as almond flour as the only required ingredient we don’t normally have around). Now I just need to see what I’ve got for frozen fruit… and double check the other things we “normally keep in the house.”

 

But that is not the only recent experiment in my ongoing quest to improve my diet.

As mentioned above, I also invested in the AeroGarden brand Vinaigrette maker. Basically you’re looking at a glorified food processor and salad dressing serving bottle. (I also have an AeroGarden–Sprout model due to lack of counterspace–but as I’ve only just set the thing up I required store-bought herbs to try out the vinaigrette maker).

For sake of experimenting, I opted to go with a variation on the garlic lover’s vinaigrette included in the instruction manual for my first attempt. I couldn’t find the rice wine vinegar it called for, so after reading posts suggesting that garlic and maple go well together I finally opened up the bottle of maple vinegar that’s been sitting in my pantry. I bought some fresh mint (not so fresh by the time I got around to using it, though–even in the crisping drawer that stuff wilted),

Best not to buy fresh herbs until you’re sure you’ll use them soon….

pre-peeled garlic cloves that only required me to roast them, added a touch of raw honey… and the two tablespoons of lemon juice that the written recipe called for. My mom was all concerned that the required 15 garlic cloves would make it too garlicky but the only ingredient I found intense was the lemon juice, and even then I really only noticed it on the mostly-tasteless green part of my salad.

As for reviewing purposes, I will say this thing isn’t very powerful. Probably comes with the territory of being battery powered instead of plug-in.

Battery slot is mislabeled. Took a few tries to get it working consistently.

While it can “dance” around if you’re not holding it

it took quite a bit of work to chop up even the mint, and the recipe tells you explicitly to finely chop up your garlic cloves before you add them. But if you don’t mind cutting your veggies before using this to cut your veggies, it does provide the convenience of being the food processor and serving bottle all in one.

 

Whether it leads to new blog posts or not, I am hoping for more successful food experiments with both of these products… and to eventually figure out the logistics of recording actual cooking videos so I can incorporate game-themed cookbooks into my gaming channel.

 

Suggested products in use:

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