Sunday, December 31, 2006

Lomi Lomi

lomi lomi on a triscut. we were eating everything on a triscut for a while.

The Hawaiian gravlax.

LomiLomi Salmon
1 1/2 lb salmon fillets
Rock salt
3 tomatoes
1 small onion 3/4 lime juice
1/8 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. Pepper

Cooking Instructions:
Lay salmon on bed of salt in glass dish, cover with more salt. Put in refrigerator overnight. Wash off salt & dice the salmon.

Peel & dice tomatoes & onion. Mix with salmon & add other ingredients. Toss lightly.

very good on cracker

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Spam, kimchi and Egg Sandwich

surprisingly good sandwich

recipe # I don't know


So I got off the flight from the mainland to Kaua'i in an ativan haze and the first thing I did was head to the grocery store to load up on supplies. I had done some researching of hawaiian recipes, but for the most part I put things in my cart that I had not seen before or had 'produced in Hawaii' on the label. One thing I did get that was neither, was spam. As far as I've seen spam comes in the following varieties: low fat, low salt, garlic, spam and cheese, spicy spam, turkey spam, hickory smoked spam and regular spam.

All I knew was that Hawaii is the number one consumer of spam of all states in the U.S..
mmmm. . . .

So this is what I made my first morning:

Spam, Egg and Kimchi Breakfast Sandwich spam, any kind you like, but original is what I used--sliced thin and fried in a bit of oil. spicy kimchi, any brand you might have eggs--I used only egg white as I felt guilty about the spam. flat bread, pita, wrap - toasted or warmed. Assemble as you would any sandwich.

It is actually quite good and I feel secure also putting it into the hangover cures category. I think it wouldn't suffer if a bit of cheese was added. Maybe cream cheese. . . but that might be pushing it too far.

Rum

It isn't like there isn't anything to do in Hawaii, but you do find yourself with a lot of time on your hands. That combined with a lot of free fruit and rum rum rum things like pomelo soaked in rum for breakfast seems like a terrific idea.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Kaua'i

whishing well shaved ice in hanalei. photo by malcome.

I am currently in Kaua'i taking a vacation from my vacation. I'm not sure what I can say about Kaua'i that would do it justice other than it is really really really nice here. I think it might just be the nicest place that I have ever been.

It has been a while since I have cooked, or really even have had the oppertunity to cook. In the past month we have packed everything, moved across country, driven across country, found a new place to live, xmas shopped (the worst), waded thru the holidays and now are here.

So I will commence with the cooking. . .

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

xmas breakfast

tastes so much better than this photo makes it look

recipe # I totally have no idea

excuse the terrible photo.
I made a top chef winner from this seasons cooking-for-surfers-on-the-beach-challenge.
We are staying on the beach and it looked tasty so it seemed appropriate.
It was from one of my current favorite contenders, Elia Aboumrad. Taken directly from the top chef website.

"Organic Breakfast Lunch and Dinner" Waffle with Ham, Cheese, & Fried Eggs
Serves 1
Ingredients:
1 frozen waffle
1/2 cup refried beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 slice Munster cheese
2 slices coppa ham
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Maple syrup for drizzling
Directions:
1. Heat broiler in oven.
2. In a small bowl, combine refried beans and olive oil. Mix well and season to taste.
3. In a small skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Crack egg into skillet and fry to desired firmness.
4. Toast the waffle to desired doneness. Spread with butter and then with refried bean mixture.
5. Drizzle with maple syrup and top with cheese.
6. Put waffle on a baking sheet and broil until cheese melts, watching carefully so it does not burn.
7. Remove from oven, top with coppa ham, fried egg and top with chopped parsley. Season to taste and serve immediately.

It was tasty. Quite tasty. It took no time to make. Pretty hard to muss up. Easy to make for a bunch of people. Munster is really the cheese to use, but cheddar would be good too. I love it. Happy xmas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Venice, California

Our new home.
We found a house.
The second one we looked at. . . .why be picky. The most amazing thing about it is the stove.

my new 60 year old stove

it looks like a cadilac. the landlord assures me it works.
The least amazing thing is the lack of a dishwasher.
We move in in mid-January.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Road Food

You know you have crossed the mason-dixon line when your breakfast sandwich has 3 + varieties of meat.

We drove across the country. We got thru the mid-Atlantic states fast and then just swung thru Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas and so on on 40 until Arizona when we detoured thru Sedona, Jerome and what is called the Arizona outback. It took us 8 days, which is longer than we needed to take, but at the end we decided to stretch it out a bit and spend an extra night in the California desert near Joshua Tree. We pulled into LA. . . Malibu actually. . . evacuated the van and put our toes directly into the Pacific.

Foodwise the trip wasn't amazing. We had terrible food and we had a great burger. The thing that impressed me most was the gigantic calorie haul you get eating on the road. If one was to eat at Denny's for breakfast, Waffle House for Lunch and Red Lobster for dinner, you could have a 5000 calorie day without even trying.

Mainly we ate snacks out of the cooler. Scads of PB&J, pesto, sundried tomato and either goat or cream cheese on triscuts. String cheese, apples, lollipops, beef jerky and around Oklahoma I started buying chips. Many, many variety of chips. Much of which now makes up 50% of the van carpeting.
I'll flip this photo once I can get to a broadband connection

My daughter wins the prize for most creative new thing made on the trip with her Breakfast Cocktail. She named it herself. It was no doubt inspired by the breakfast buffets at hotels and the variety of breakfast stuff she came across. It was also facilitated by the fact that I had simply given up on getting her to listen to me when I said 'no' that morning.

Lola enjoying her delicious breakfast cocktail

Breakfast Cocktail
plastic cup
fruit loops
pineapple
apple
grapes
cranberry juice

mix together in a plastic cup and enjoy. Go crazy with substitutions depending on what is available.

The Best
Bouse, Arizona Country Kitchen EAT HERE or something like that. You can't miss it.
They serve a burger called a Dagwood that has bacon, ham, sweet onion, lettuce, tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, cheese and other stuff that I am sure I'm forgetting. Patty melt was amazing too. Great home cut never frozen french fries. Avoid the apple juice here unless you want a good cheap buzz.

The Worst
Hands down was Our House too in Van Buren Arkansas. Puke. Terrible. Nothing we ordered was good and when I say that I mean it had all gone bad. Turned. Was past its prime. Was rotten. It ruined the rest of our day.

Honorable mention
Waffle House. Yum. I wish there was one in a blue state.

For more photos from the trip click on the flikr badge on the left of this page.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Moving Day


We moved today and it only cost about 30% more than we thought it would. Weehoo! *said with huge sarcasm*

After a day like today I needed a drink (or 5). There is nothing left in the fridge. No juice, soda, seltzer. We have vodka and condiments.

So I made a desperate drink. Here is recipe for a What Is Left in the Fridge Martini. It is not nearly as bad as it sounds:
1 shot vodka
1 capful dry vermouth

pickle juice

pickled jalapeno pepper juice

bit of salt
ice

mix to the strenght and flavor you like.


It is basically a dirty martini with something other than olive brine. Caper brine, preserved lemon, pickled beets and really anything pickled (besides maybe fish) might be good.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Salt Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Wheat Free Dinner

quite possibly the most healthy meal I have ever made

recipe #148

An interesting challenge.

My Father has been on this diet since the end of September. I told him that I would like to make him a nice dinner before I left to the left coast. What do you make someone who is eating none of the above mentioned things. To make it even more of a challenge vinegars are for the most part out--at least in any quantity.

I found 2 recipes that I thought would work nicely and then modified them to work for my Dad:
QUINOA MANGO AND CURRIED YOGURT SALAD
1/3 cup plain soy yogurt
3 tablespoon fresh lime juice (or to taste)
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon liquid amino (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 1/3 cups quinoa
1 lb firm-ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 fresh jalapeño chile, seeded (if desired for less heat) and minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup diced shallots or white onion
1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts crushed
Whisk together yogurt, lime juice, curry powder, ginger, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined.

Rinse quinoa in a bowl using 5 changes of water, rubbing grains and letting them settle before pouring off water (if quinoa does not settle, drain in a large sieve after each rinsing).

Cook quinoa in a 4- to 5-quart pot of boiling salted water 10 minutes. Drain in a large sieve and rinse under cold running water.

Set sieve with quinoa over a saucepan containing 1 1/2 inches boiling water (sieve should not touch water) and steam quinoa, covered with a kitchen towel and lid, until fluffy and dry, 10 to 12 minutes. Toss quinoa with curried yogurt and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 6 side-dish servings.

The original recipe is here.

SHRIMP AND AVOCADO IN TAMARIND SAUCE
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large shallots, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1/4 cup tamarind pulp (from a pliable block)
1/2 cup boiling-hot water
4 drops stevia
1.5 tablespoon liquid amino
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 firm-ripe California avocados
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic clove, minced
2 (1 1/2- to 2-inch-long) fresh Thai chilies or 1 serrano, stemmed and minced (including seeds)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lb large shrimp in shell (21 to 25 per lb), peeled, leaving tail and first segment of shell intact, and deveined
1/3 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

Garnish with 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Fry shallot and make tamarind sauce:
Heat oil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then fry shallot, stirring, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain (shallots will crisp as they cool). Reserve oil.

Soak tamarind pulp in boiling-hot water in a small bowl until softened, about 5 minutes. Force pulp through a sieve into a bowl, discarding solids. Add stevia, liquid amino, fish sauce, and 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice and stir.

Cut avocados and cook shrimp:
Halve, pit, and peel avocados. Cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks and toss with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice in a bowl.

Transfer reserved oil to a 12-inch heavy skillet and heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté ginger, garlic, chilies, and salt, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add shrimp and sauté, turning over once, 2 minutes total. Stir in tamarind mixture and simmer until shrimp are just cooked through, about 2 minutes more.

Spoon shrimp and avocado over rice, then sprinkle with peanuts and fried shallot.

Makes 4 servings.


The original recipe is here.

I know that I sport of cheated on the shrimp recipe. Fish sauce does have a huge amount of sodium, but it is more or less an irreplaceable ingredient.

We also had steamed artichokes (I would have preferred grilled but we didn't have a grill) with garlic ghee. For some reason my Dad thinks that ghee is an acceptable form of dairy. They would also have been terrific with a homemade garlic mayonnaise that replaced liquid amino with salt.

I found some nice white asparagus that I thought would go nicely. We had that steamed with just a bit of lemon juice.

All and all it was a nice meal. Quinoa is an incredibly picky little grain. You have to rinse rinse then drain on a towel then massage its feet and tell it that it is pretty. It is too high maintenance for me and I think I am through with it.

The shrimp and avocado dish was great. I made it before with soy sauce and sugar and it was wonderful. The low sodium no sugar version translated very nicely.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sandwich

More soon:
MOROCCAN SANDWICHES WITH GREEN OLIVE TAPENADE For carrots 2 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 2 teaspoons sweet paprika 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon cayenne 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup olive oil 1 1/2 lb medium carrots (8) For tapenade 1 1/4 cups green olives (6 to 7 oz) such as Cerignola or picholine, pitted 3 tablespoons drained bottled capers, rinsed 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 1 flat anchovy fillet, chopped 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 cup olive oil For sandwiches 12 slices good-quality pumpernickel sandwich bread 6 oz soft mild goat cheese (3/4 cup) at room temperature Special equipment: an adjustable-blade slicer Prepare carrots: Whisk together sugar, lemon juice, spices, salt, and oil in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved. Halve carrots crosswise on a long diagonal, then, starting from diagonal ends, cut into 1/16-inch-thick slices using slicer. Cook carrots in a 4- to 5-quart pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 45 seconds. Drain well in a colander and immediately toss with dressing. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, then marinate, covered and chilled, at least 4 hours. Make tapenade and assemble sandwiches: Pulse olives with capers, parsley, anchovy, zest, lemon juice, and pepper in a food processor until coarsely chopped, then scrape down side of bowl with a rubber spatula. Pulsing motor, add oil in a slow stream and continue to pulse until mixture is finely chopped (do not pulse to a paste). Spread tapenade on 6 slices of bread and goat cheese on remaining 6 slices, then make sandwiches with carrots. Makes 6 sandwiches.

Packing the Kitchen

pantry

Since I started this project I have accumulated 11 kinds of oils, 8 kinds of vinegar, 6 kinds of spicy sauces, 60-something different spices, 5 kinds of flour, 6 kinds of sugar, 7 forms of chocolate and 30 or so pounds of kitchen equipment that I didn't have before.

Starting today I've got to pack it all up and ruthlessly decide what I have room for and what I simply cannot justify shipping 2800 miles.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Demoted to Pancakes and Eggs

very pretty to look at and simple to make

recipe #145 & 146

Finally something that worked out alright.

The eggs are from Mangoes & Curry Leaves and the pancakes are from epicurious:

Andhra Scrambled Eggs
4 to 5 large or extra-large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons raw sesame oil or vegetable oil
1 cup chopped shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic or garlic mashed to a paste
1 teaspoon minced ginger or ginger mashed to a paste
2 green cayenne chiles, seeded and minced
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup coriander leaves, finely chopped


Beat the eggs lightly in a bowl, and whisk or stir in the salt.
Heat a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, and when it is hot, add the shallots, garlic, ginger, chiles, and turmeric and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and fry for another 2 to 3 minutes, until they are softened.
Add the eggs and swirl and tilt the skillet to distribute them. Using a flat wooden spoon or spatula, toss the eggs with the shallots and tomatoes, cooking the eggs while getting everything well mixed. Then continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, until the eggs are well cooked. Turn out onto a flat plate to serve, garnished with the fresh coriander.

BEET AND CARROT PANCAKES
1 1/3 cups (packed) coarsely shredded peeled beets (from 2 medium)
1 cup coarsely shredded peeled carrots (from 2 medium)
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour

3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 300°F. Place baking sheet in oven. Combine beets, carrots and onion in large bowl. Mix in egg, salt and pepper. Add flour; stir to blend well.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Using 1/3 cup beet mixture for each pancake, drop 4 pancakes into skillet. Flatten each into 3-inch round. Cook until brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer pancakes to baking sheet in oven; keep warm. Repeat with remaining beet mixture, making 4 more pancakes.
Makes 4 servings

The recipe for the pancakes suggest serving it with sour cream, which I guess would be fine, but kind of pedestrian. At the very least include apple sauce with the sour cream. I had some left over waldorf salad dressing from Thanksgiving and I used that, which was really delicious. The recipe for that is somewhere in this post.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

This is how puff pastry makes me feel. . .

mad

I blame it, not me. It is it's fault it doesn't bake up into a delicious meal. It sucks, not me. I now know this.

Fuck you, Puff Pastry.

evil terrible puff pastry

I tried to make pork and curry pie. Obviously it did not work out. I have most of the filling left over and am going to make a shepard's pie with it

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pudding Disaster and Aftermath

Somebody call FEMA: the kitchen after I tried to make this pudding--that is really quite simple

recipe #143

This is from Nigella Lawson's book How to Eat:
Sticky Chocolate Pudding

Pudding:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 cup good unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
1 2/3 cups confectioners sugar
2 1/2 ounces best semisweet chocolate chopped roughly or chocolate morsels
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sauce:
1 cup dark brown or dark muscovado sugar
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa into a bowl, stir in the hazelnuts and the sugar, then add the chocolate. Whisk together the melted butter, egg, milk and vanilla and pour into the dry ingredients. Stir well, so it's all thoroughly mixed, then spoon into the buttered dish.
Now for the sauce, not that you make it yourself (the cooking does that for you) but you have to get the ingredients together. Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Mix the brown sugar and cocoa and sprinkle over the top of the pudding mixture in the dish. Pour the boiled water up to the 2 cup mark of a measuring cup, then pour over the pudding. Put the water-drenched pudding directly into the oven and leave it there for about 50 minutes.

Don't open the door until a good 45 minutes have passed and then press: if it feels fairly firm and springy to the touch, it's ready. If you're using the shallow dish, it'll be ready in 35-40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately, spooning from the dish and making sure everyone gets both sauce and sponge.

serves 6-8


It is hard to get back to cooking after the big thanksgiving push. Since Friday morning we have been surviving by picking things out of the fridge and putting them in the microwave. The most elaborate thing I've made in the past 5 days was cereal. So, maybe it was too soon to try this pudding. It seemed easy enough. If filled my need to use up the stuff in my pantry. But from the first step it went terribly wrong.

First, my daughter poured most of the cocoa in the sink trying to make 'brownies'. Next, while I was looking for vanilla in the cupboard I knocked an entire jar of whole peppercorns into the mixture. I started picking them out by hand. . . boring and to detail oriented for me. . . so I used the sifter. Next, the recipe calls for putting the pudding directly in a pre-heated oven after pouring boiling water over the pudding. Water poured, popped in oven, timer set, only to find an hour later I had never turned on the over or turned it off right after putting the pudding in.

Finally, after hour 2 and actually cooking the pudding we tasted it and I had forgotten to add any sugar.

After that I went directly to bed. I guess my husband ate half of it and spent the night unable to sleep and spazzing out around the apartment from eating all that chocolate.

the pudding after my husband had his way with it

I've been busy...

Busy packing, busy with sick kids, busy carefully recalabrating my hair color, busy with out of town guests, busy with thanksgiving, busy with moving details, and busy looking at real estate porn.

Cooking has fallen by the wayside. All I'm doing now is trying to use up everything that I have left over in the pantry, fridge and freezer so I don't end up throwing away a bunch of half used food when we finally pull up stakes.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ham for Thanksgiving

recipe # 136 - 142

48 hours before Thanksgiving we only had 7 people coming. That turned into 10, 36 hours before and by the evening before the big meal we had 14. I only have 10 forks and knifes, 7 chairs and 8 wine glasses (if you include champagne flutes).

family, friends and me with the sleeveless shirt


Exotic deluxe California curry mango cheese whip supream delight surprise - for kids and adults alike

20 years ago, my Grandmother-in-Law, Dorothy Bridges, self published a cookbook called Tried and True, that for years and years was for sale in the tiny mountian town of Bear Valley. It is full of what I would call vintage recipes. It also has a very good hostessing tips. My favorite is how to aviod getting really drunk at your own party (atleast before dinner is served).

We made 2 things from Tried and True this year. One, was the curried cheese pate with chutney (which I have renamed and posted a photo of above) and Peas a la Bonne Femme.

Here is the cheese recipe:
curried cheese pate with chutney
3 packages (8 oz. size) cream cheese
2 packages (10 oz. size) sharp cheddar, grated
2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 dry sherry
1 cup chutney
1/4 cup chopped green onions.

combine the first 5 items. Give it a quick nuke if you need to soften. Line a bowl with sauran wrap, and pack with cheese mixture. Cover and chill overnight or for a minimum of 4 hours.

Remove from bowl, then unwrap, then cover with chutney. Let stand for 30 minutes before serving.

gravlax with mustard sauce and pumpkin seed bread

The recipe for the gravlax is here.

waldorf salad

Waldorf Salad
2/3 cup dried tart cherries or dried cranberries
1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
4 Granny Smith apples, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/3 cups very thinly sliced celery
1 1/3 cups red seedless grapes, halved

Romaine lettuce leaves
Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans

Soak cherries in 1 cup boiling water until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Whisk mayonnaise and next 3 ingredients in large bowl. Add apples, celery, grapes and cherries; toss. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange lettuce on platter. Spoon salad over. Top salad with candied pecans.

SWEET AND SPICY CANDIED PECANS
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon (generous) freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. Combine corn syrup and next 4 ingredients in large bowl. Stir to blend. Add pecans; stir gently to coat. Transfer to baking sheet.

Place large piece of foil on work surface. Bake pecans 5 minutes. Using fork, stir pecans to coat with melted spice mixture. Continue baking until pecans are golden and coating bubbles, about 10 minutes. Transfer to foil. Working quickly, separate nuts with fork. Cool. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

serves 6


I had never made this before and now having done so will make it again, but do it differently. Next time around I will chop the apples into smalled pieces. .. a large dice, I guess. I'll slice the grapesin half. I will also try and make this salad 24 hrs in advance and let it sit (just the grapes, apples and celery) in it's dressing overnight.

I used dried cranberries instead of cherries as they were seasonal and half the price.

sweet red cabbage with dried currants and toasted mustard seeds

Recipe for this coming at some point soon.

Sweet Potaoes with Cornflake Pecan Topping (from epicurious):
For sweet potatoes
22 ounces red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams; about 2 large), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of salt

For topping
1 1/2 cups cornflakes, crushed
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Make sweet potatoes:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook sweet potatoes in large pot of boiling water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; transfer potatoes to large bowl and add butter. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Add egg, sugar, spice and salt; beat to blend. Transfer mixture to 8 x 8-inch baking dish. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before continuing.) Bake potatoes until beginning to brown around edges and slightly puffed, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare topping:
Mix together all ingredients in medium bowl.

Spoon topping evenly over potatoes. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes longer.

Serves 6.


This is the 2nd year I have made this. It is like a dessert for dinner. I love it. It is amazing. If there are leftovers I do not offer them to guest to take home. I added chinese 5 spice powder this year. . . I'm not sure why. . . . I don't think it was an improvement. If I make it next year I will go back to the original recipe.

southern style asparagus casserole

This is an asparagus egg casserole that my friend Cassy, who is from Kentucky/Georgia made. She says it is a traditional southern Thanksgiving dish and one of her favorite foods ever. I'm, going to get her to email me the recipe. It was great. Even better the next day.

delicious ham

I'm not sure what the recipe for the ham was. It involved mango nectar, honey mustard and lots of cloves. I'll post it once I talk to my sister about reconstructing it.

green tea cake brought back from Japan by friends who just went on a honeymoon there

The only photos that we took of dessert were this one of a green tea cake. The only thing that I made was an Indian (from India, not Native American) pumpkin pie:

Indianish Pumpkin Pie
1 frozen 9-inch deep-dish pie crust, thawed, pierced all over with fork

1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
8 oz. sweetened condensed milk
8 oz. coconut milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 c. sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 large eggs

3/4 cup chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 400°F. Reshape crust edge to form high-standing rim. Bake crust until browned, pressing bottom and sides of crust occasionally with back of fork, about 14 minutes. Cool crust on rack. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Whisk pumpkin, condensed milk, sour cream, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, vanilla, and allspice in large bowl to blend. Whisk in eggs. Pour into crust (some filling may be left over).

Bake pie until filling is puffed around sides and set in center, about 55 minutes. Cool pie on rack. (Can be made ahead. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours, or cover and chill overnight.)

Beat whipping cream, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon ginger in bowl until peaks form. Spoon large dollops around edge of pie and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

This pie is very very very good for breakfast.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Moussaka

recipe # 135

I have no pictures of this to prove tht I made it or to show what it looked like.
I made a lowfat variety of this dish.

Moussaka with low-fat "besamel" sauce
Nonstick olive oil spray
2 12-ounce eggplants, peeled, each cut lengthwise in half, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 1/2 pounds medium zucchini, trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 pound red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 pound lean ground beef sirloin or ground round
1/2 cup dried currants
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup plain dry white breadcrumbs
2 large egg whites, beaten to blend
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Low-Fat White Sauce
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 cups low-fat (1%) milk
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1 teaspoon butter

Whisk flour in heavy medium saucepan to remove any lumps. Gradually add 1 cup milk, whisking until smooth. Add remaining 2 cups milk and nutmeg; whisk over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in Parmesan, egg and butter. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over low heat until heated through before using; do not boil.)

Makes 3 cups.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray 2 large baking sheets with olive oil spray. Arrange eggplant slices and half of zucchini rounds, overlapping slightly, on 1 baking sheet. Arrange potato rounds and remaining zucchini, overlapping slightly, on second baking sheet. Spray vegetables generously with olive oil spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until tender and beginning to brown, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until onion is tender, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons water if mixture seems dry, about 7 minutes. Stir in oregano. Add beef; sauté until brown, breaking up with back of spoon. Add currants and almonds. Add tomatoes with their juices and tomato paste, breaking up tomatoes with back of spoon. Simmer until mixture thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Mix in 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, egg whites and cinnamon.

Spray 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with olive oil spray. Sprinkle 1/4 cup breadcrumbs over bottom of dish. Arrange potatoes in prepared dish. Spoon half of beef mixture over. Arrange eggplant slices over. Spoon remaining beef mixture over. Top with all of zucchini, overlapping slightly if necessary.

Pour warm Low-Fat White Sauce over moussaka. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese over. Bake until top is golden brown, about 55 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

Makes 8 servings.


This was fine. Next time I am going to make it with actual besamel sauce and maybe double the amount of potatoes. Maybe even make a whole other potato layer. Crazy.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Timballo

Timballo aka fancy ziti

recipe #134

I found this while browsing thru one meal dish recipes on epicurious.com. It is supposed to be similar to the big beautiful amazing pasta dish served in a crust in the movie Big Night. After searching I found a recipe that included the crust, but in the interest of using only half the calories I stuck with the crust free version. I'll make the crust one on a night I have a bunch of people over.

Timballo
For meat sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage meat (remove casings if in links)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 (14- to 15-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice, forced with juices through a food mill (1 1/2 cups)
Pinch of sugar

For pasta
3/4 lb. ziti

For chard in béchamel sauce
1 lb. green Swiss chard, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped (4 cups)
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)
4 oz fresh mozzarella (not unsalted), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (scant 1 cup)

Special equipment: a 2-qt soufflé dish; parchment paper; a 6- to 8-qt wide pot

Make meat sauce:
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté sausage, breaking up lumps with a fork, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add onion and bay leaf and sauté, stirring frequently, until onion begins to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add carrot, celery, and salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute, then add wine and deglaze by boiling, scraping up any brown bits, until most of liquid is evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomato purée and sugar and boil, stirring frequently, until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool sauce and discard bay leaf.

Cook pasta:
Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente, then transfer with a skimmer to a colander to drain (do not rinse), reserving water in pot to cook chard. Cool pasta, spread in a baking pan, to warm.

Make chard in béchamel sauce:
Add chard to pot and simmer, uncovered, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer with skimmer to a bowl of ice and cold water. Drain chard and squeeze handfuls, then finely chop.

Heat butter in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until foam subsides, then add garlic and cook, whisking, 1 minute. Add flour and cook, whisking, 1 minute, then add milk in a slow stream, whisking. Bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in chard, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano, then remove pan from heat.

Assemble and bake timballo:
Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 375°F.

Oil soufflé dish and line bottom with a round of parchment paper, then oil parchment. Cover bottom of dish with a single layer of pasta. Sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella and 3 tablespoons Parmigiano over pasta, then spoon half of meat sauce in an even layer over cheese. Arrange one third of remaining pasta over meat sauce in soufflé dish and top with all of chard, then another layer of pasta (about half of remainder). Sprinkle with remainder of cheeses, then spoon remaining meat sauce over cheese. Top with remaining pasta. (You may have pasta left over.) Cover pasta with an oiled round of parchment (oiled side down) and cover dish with foil.

Bake in a water bath in wide 6- to 8-quart pot until bubbling and a metal skewer or thin knife inserted in center of timballo comes out hot to the touch, about 1 hour. Remove soufflé dish from water bath and let stand, covered, 15 minutes. Remove foil and parchment and run a knife around edge of timballo to loosen, then invert a platter over soufflé dish and invert timballo onto platter. Remove soufflé dish and remaining parchment.

Makes 6 to 8 main-course servings.


There are about 4 billion ways to modify this recipe and make is more simple or more elaborate depending. I used spinach instead of chard, penne instead of ziti, jarred sauce instead of making my own (gasp) and added some pesto I had frozen from over the summer.

It is much easier to make than it looks and it takes no more time than a lasagna.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Cassoulet


recipe #133

I never understood the deal with cassoulet. I had had it a few times, once from freshdirect (bad, and they don't make it any more), once from a can (blah) and I think once was even on an Air France flight (airline food). I was unmoved by my experience with it. Until today.

Cassoulet
1 lb dried white beans (preferably Great Northern)
8 1/4 cups cold water
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups chopped onion (3/4 lb)
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic (6 large cloves)
1 (3-inch) piece celery, cut into thirds
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
3 whole cloves
3 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs plus 1/2 cup chopped leaves
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 (14-oz) can stewed tomatoes, puréed or finely chopped with juice
4 confit duck legs* (1 3/4 lb total)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil (if necessary)
1 lb cooked garlic pork sausage* or smoked pork kielbasa, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (preferably from a baguette)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Soak and cook beans:
Cover beans with cold water by 2 inches in a large bowl and soak 8 to 12 hours. Drain in a colander.

Transfer beans to a 6- to 8-quart pot and bring to a boil with 8 cups cold water, broth, tomato paste, onion, and 2 tablespoons garlic. Put celery, thyme, bay leaf, cloves, parsley sprigs, and peppercorns in cheesecloth and tie into a bundle with string to make a bouquet garni. Add bouquet garni to beans, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until beans are almost tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir in tomatoes with juice and simmer until beans are just tender, about 15 minutes more.

Prepare duck and sausage while beans simmer:
Remove all skin and fat from duck legs and cut skin and fat into 1/2-inch pieces. Separate duck meat from bones, leaving it in large pieces, and transfer meat to a bowl. Add bones to bean pot.

Cook duck skin and fat with remaining 1/4 cup cold water in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until water is evaporated and fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until skin is crisp, 3 to 6 minutes more. Transfer cracklings with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, leaving fat in skillet. (You should have about 1/4 cup fat; if not, add olive oil.)

Brown sausage in batches in fat in skillet, then transfer to bowl with duck meat, reserving skillet.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Make bread crumb topping:
Add remaining tablespoon garlic to fat in skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in bread crumbs and cook, stirring, until pale golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chopped parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cracklings.

Assemble casserole:
Remove bouquet garni and duck bones from beans and discard, then stir in kielbasa, duck meat, remaining teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Ladle cassoulet into casserole dish, distributing meat and beans evenly. (Meat and beans should be level with liquid; if they are submerged, ladle excess liquid back into pot and boil until reduced, then pour back into casserole dish.) Spread bread crumb topping evenly over cassoulet and bake, uncovered, in lower third of oven, until bubbling and crust is golden, about 1 hour.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


This makes a massive amount of food. I would say it could serve 8 to 10. I had to make 2 as I didn't have a baking pan big enough to accomidate all of it. I'm freezing the other half.

My mother brought me back a can of duck confit from her last trip to France, which was very nice of her. Yesterday at Fairway I saw a smaller can for $25. Eeek. Thanks, Mom! The thing is, duck confit looks and smells a bit like catfood.

duck confit just out of the can

I also threw 3 frozen ham shoulder bones I had in with the beans. My brother in law was over when I started this process and he told me that sometimes bones can cause a scum that you just skim off. No scum. Lucky me.

I always thought that cassoulet took days to make. I guess if you are making your own confit it could take a while, but if you start saoking the beans (which takes about to minutes to set up) in the morning, you can make this for dinner. I takes about 1.5 hours, which isn't bad. I think I've made sandwiches that took longer.

So, now I know. Cassoulet, when made properly is amazingly tasty. Real, serious, good, hearty, comfort food. The smell is wonderful, garlicy, tomato, meaty. It is even better the next day. Run out and make some - right now.

Herring Smorrebrod


recipe # 131 & 132

Smorrebrod is, according to the food network: [SMUHR-uh-bruth] Danish open-faced sandwiches.

Not to be confused with shmorgusborg--if that is even how you spell it.

I have a bunch of recipes for different smorrebrod that I am going to try. This is the first and from epicurious:
Mustard Herring & Beet Smorrebrod
Pickled beets
3 (8-oz) jars herring "party snacks" in white-wine sauce
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup créme fraîche
2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons minced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons drained and rinsed green peppercorns, chopped fine
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
8 slices rye bread

make pickled beets (recipe below)

Rinse and drain herring, discarding any onion. Pat herring dry between paper towels and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Whisk together mustard, créme fraîche, sugars, water, onion, dill, and peppercorns and stir in herring. Chill, covered, 2 hours to allow flavors to develop.

Spread butter evenly on 1 side of each bread slice and arrange herring mixture over half of slice. Drain beets well and arrange over remaining half.

Makes 8 open-faced sandwiches, serving 4 as a light main course

Garnish: 8 fresh dill sprigs

Make pickled beets:
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon pickling spice
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 onion, halved
1 small bay leaf (not California)
3/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/4 bunch fresh dill
3 beets (1 lb without tops)

Bring all ingredients except beets to a boil in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.

Cool marinade, then chill, covered, 1 day to allow flavors to develop. Pour through a fine sieve into a bowl.

Cook beets in a saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Drain and cool. Slip off skins and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Stir together beets and marinade, then marinate, covered and chilled, 1 day.

Makes about 3 cups.

This sandwich takes 2 days + to make if you make your own pickled beets.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cleaning Squid a Fun Afternoon Does Not Make.

a half cleaned squid

recipe #130

Cleaning squid is just plan gross. Not gross in a gag reflex sort of way, but tedious, slimy, cold, not fun sort of way. And you get the lingering suspicious that no matter how clean they are, they just aren't clean enough.

It took me close to an hour to clean 2 lbs. of squid. There were good instructions on how to clean squid in The Classic Italian Cook Book by Marcella Hazan- which is where I found this recipe.

There are also these nice directions From the New York Times March 1982:

HOW TO CLEAN SQUID
1. Twist and pull off the head of the squid. As you do this you will also pull out much of the interior of the body.

This may include an ink sac, which is used in many European recipes but not for the recipes given here. Discard the pulled-out material.

2. Pull out and discard the semihard translucent, sword-shaped pen. 3. Using a knife, cut off the tentacles from the head of the squid (just in front of the eyes). 4. Using the fingers, pop out the round, hard beak in the center of the tentacles. Discard the beak. 5. The tentacles are wholly edible. If they are long, you may want to cut them in half or into smaller lengths. 6. Rub off the brown skin of the squid, holding the squid under cold running water. Use coarse salt while rubbing and pulling with the fingers.

7. Rinse the squid inside and out to remove any remaining material from inside the body. Drain the squid thoroughly and set aside.



Calamari e Piselli alla Livonese aka Stewed Squid with Tomatoes and Peas
1.5 tbs. finely chopped yellow onion
3 tbs. olive oil
1.5 tsp. chopped garlic
1 tbs. chopped parsley
3/4 c. chopped tomatoes with juice
2 lbs. of the smallest possible squid
salt and pepper to taste
2 lbs. fresh peas or 10 oz. package of frozen peas

In a saute pan add onions to olive oil and heat until pale gold. Add garlic until light brown. Add Parsley, stir once and then add the tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes

Slice squid sacs to rings, divide tentacle clusters in half then add squid. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you are using fresh peas add now. If you are using frozen peas add at about minute 25.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6

I served it with whole wheat pasta and added extra tomatoes in the cooking process. It was pretty tasty, although I had a hard time getting past the squid cleaning process. I think that if I ever make it agian I will cook the onions and garlic in bacon fat or along with panchetta.

Also, after you clean the squid, get the discarded squid parts out of the kitchen ASAP, because they really stink.

squid carnage

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Quinoa Pudding


recipe # 129

Quinoa-- the fancy, cool grain. It is supposed to be very good for you. The grain that makes baby food $3.00 a jar. I'm giving it a chance, as I am curious (and they have it for cheap in the bulk section at Fairway). Here is my first attempt:

Quinoa Pudding
1/2 cup organic sugar or maple sugar
2 tablespoons soft butter, plus butter for greasing the pan
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch sea salt
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
1/2 cup currants
Freshly grated nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 350 °F. Cream sugar and butter. Stir in eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until blended. Add quinoa, hazelnuts, and currants and mix thoroughly. Butter a 1½ quart casserole or soufflé dish (or 6 individual ramekins).

Pour the custard mixture into the casserole or ramekins and grate a little nutmeg over it. Bake for 40 minutes or until just set. To serve, spoon from the casserole or ramekins or loosen the edges with a knife and invert pudding(s) onto a plate (or individual plates).

serves 4-6

It was fine. A breakfast more than a dessert. Quinoa has a weird flavor--sort of like a root--maybe taro-- if you don't rinse it enough.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Shockingly Good Mac and Cheese

mmmmmmmmm..............

Should I count this recipe as a new one? It can hardly count. I have made mac and cheese one or twice before from scratch and about five thousand times from a box.

I made this for the 2nd time last night. It is shockingly good. Also, very easy. You don't have to cook the macaroni before you bake it.

It is from January 4th 2006 New York Times:
Creamy Macaroni and Cheese aka The Goooooood Mac and Cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup cottage cheese (not lowfat)
2 cups milk (not skim)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 pinch cayenne
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 lb extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 lb elbow macaroni, uncooked

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees and position an oven rack in upper third of oven. Use 1 tablespoon butter to butter a 9-inch round or square baking pan.
2. In a blender, purée cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper together. Reserve ¼ cup grated cheese for topping. In a large bowl, combine remaining grated cheese, milk mixture and uncooked pasta. Pour into prepared pan, cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes.
3. Uncover pan, stir gently, sprinkle with reserved cheese and dot with remaining tablespoon butter. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes more, until browned. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

This recipe claims that it serves 6, but there is simply no way that is true. It serves 4, max.

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Roasted Squash Soup with Blue Cheese and Walnuts


recipe # 128

I made this for lunch yesterday.

It is from Artisanal Cooking by Terrance Brennan and Andrew Friedman

I think I got it from the freshdirect website.

Roasted Squash Soup with Blue Cheese and Walnuts
3 lb butternut squash (about 1 large squash)
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tsp plus a pinch kosher salt
White pepper in a mill
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp crushed walnuts (from about 12 walnut halves)
1/2 cup Spanish onion, medium dice
1/2 cup cored, peeled pear, any variety, medium dice
1/2 cup Riesling or other full-bodied white wine
5 1/2 cups vegetable stock, homemade, or low-sodium, store-bought vegetable broth, or water
2 tsp honey
1/2 cup Roquefort or other blue cheese (from about 2 ounces cheese), at room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut off the ends of the squash. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and strings, using a tablespoon or small scoop. Rub the cut sides lightly with 2 tablespoons of the oil, season with a total of 1 teaspoon salt and 4 grinds of pepper, and place cutýside down on a cookie sheet. Roast until tender to a knife-tip, approximately 1 hour. Remove from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh.You should have 3 cups of roasted squash.
2. Meanwhile, put the nuts in an 8-inch sauté pan and toast over medium heat, shaking constantly, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons oil into a large, heavy-bottomed pot and heat over medium heat. Add the onion, pear, and a pinch of salt and cook without browning for 20 minutes. Pour in the Riesling and cook, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot, until all of the wine has reduced by two-thirds, approximately 5 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the roasted butternut squash. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
4. When the soup is done, pour it into a blender in batches and blend until smooth. Season with the salt and add the honey. Strain the soup through a fine-mesh strainer; if it seems too thick, add a few tablespoons of water to thin it slightly. (It should just coat the back of a wooden spoon.)
5. Divide the soup among 4 warm soup bowls. Garnish each bowl with 1 tablespoon crumbled cheese and one-fourth of the crushed nuts. Serve.
Variation: In the early fall, replace the pears with apples.
Embellishments: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat and let cook until the butter turns brown. Add it to the soup while blending one batch. Add sautéed wild mushrooms to the bowl and spoon the soup over them, or pile them in the center of the bowl and carefully ladle the soup around them.

Serves 4


It was fine. I didn't put it thru the blender (as they are all broken) and I didn't put it thru a strainer. I don't mind it chunky. I also added leeks and with the apples and onions. Oh, and I used a couple of carnival squash instead of butternut. They have a sweet flavor and more of a bread texture.

I don't think I'm going to make it again.

Here is a nice site that is pretty much everything that you might wan to know about squash. Useful this time of year.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Puff Pastry Attempt: Part III

recipe # 127

Part II I didn't even document it was such a farce.

I'm a cooking nightmare lately. I could burn boiling water these days. Everything I touch turns from lovely ingredients into an inedible mess. I guess this isn't the best time to try to work out my issues with puff pastry.

Coulibiac aka Kulebiaka aka Fish Pie
Salmon, Rice, Pastry
1/2 cup long-grain white rice

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup minced leek (white and pale green parts only)
6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, chopped

2 sheets frozen puff pastry (one 17 1/4-ounce package), thawed
4 6-ounce (4x2 1/2-inch) skinless salmon fillet
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Dill Sauce
2/3 cup bottled clam juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/4 cups crème fraîche or whipping cream
3 tablespoons minced fresh dill

For salmon, rice, pastry:
Bring medium saucepan of salted water to boil. Add rice; boil uncovered until just tender, about 18 minutes. Drain.

Melt butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add leek; sauté until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms. Cover skillet; cook until mushrooms release their juices, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Uncover skillet. Increase heat to medium-high; sauté until liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Add rice. Season with salt and pepper. Cool completely.

Butter large baking sheet. Roll out 1 pastry sheet on floured surface to 12-inch square. Cut into 4 equal squares. Divide rice mixture among centers of squares, mounding in oval shape with ends toward 2 corners of pastry. Set salmon atop rice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring pastry corners up around salmon (pastry will not enclose salmon completely.) Roll out remaining pastry sheet on floured surface to 13-inch square. Cut into 4 equal squares. Lay 1 square atop each salmon fillet, tucking corners under bottom pastry to enclose salmon completely. Pinch edges together to seal, brushing with egg mixture if necessary to adhere. Arrange salmon packages, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet. Cover and chill 30 minutes. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Keep chilled.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush top of pastry with egg mixture. Bake until golden and thermometer inserted into fish registers 145°F, about 30 minutes.

For dill sauce:
Combine clam juice and wine in heavy small non-aluminum saucepan. Boil until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 9 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Whisk in crème fraîche. Boil until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in dill. Season with salt and pepper.

If crème fraîche is unavailable, heat 1 cup whipping cream to lukewarm (85°F). Remove from heat and mix in 2 tablespoons buttermilk. Cover and let stand in warm draft-free area until slightly thickened (24 to 48 hours, depending on temperature of room). Refrigerate until ready to use.

Transfer salmon packages to plates. Spoon Dill Sauce around and serve.

Serves 4.


I think it wasn't a disaster. I wasn't precious with the puff pastry so it kind of looked like a golden wad of gum when it came out of the oven. Still, it tasted good and even seemed kind of fancy.

Just one note about the recipe. The sauce wasn't great. If I make this again I'm going to make a sour cream/mayo/dill/lemon and maybe some capers sort of sauce.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Whole Fish Baked in Salt

the fish after it has been released from its salt case (photo by Jordan)

Recipe # 127

WHOLE FISH BAKED IN SALT
Regardless of the salt you use here, whether it be kosher, rock or sea salt, it will rarely be put to better use than encasing an entire fish while it bakes. The fish emerges succulent, with every ounce of flavor and texture intact, and the salt breaks away leaving just the perfect hint of saltiness.
One whole fish weighing about 1 1/2 pounds, cleaned, head, tail, and scales left on
10 whole Tellicherry peppercorns
4 bay leaves
2 pounds coarse salt (I recommend sea salt)
Extra virgin olive oil for serving
Chervil sprigs for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Rinse the fish with cold water, pat it dry and refrigerate until just before cooking.

3. Pour a fine layer of salt in the bottom of an oven-proof baking dish that is just slightly larger than the fish. Lay two bay leaves on the salt, then place the fish on the bay leaves. Place the peppercorns inside the belly cavity of the fish, then top the fish with the remaining 2 bay leaves. Pour the remaining salt over the fish to cover it, leaving the tail fin exposed if necessary.

3. Place the fish on the middle rack in the center of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. You cannot test the fish for doneness — you simply have to trust the timing. Remove the fish from the oven and gently crack off the layer of salt, removing as much of it as you can. Most of the skin will come off the fish as well — what doesn't come off when you remove the salt you need to remove gently, using a sharp knife. 4. Remove the fillets divide the fish among four slightly warmed dinner plates. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with the chervil, if desired.

Makes four servings.


salt incased fish before it is baked

There isn't much I can say about this fish. It was something that I have always wanted to try. I prepared it, but fell asleep before it came out of the oven. It looked tasty. My husband said it was good.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

My Complete Ineptitude with Puff Pastry

a good example of how not to treat puff pastry

recipe #126

I was trying to make Cha Shao Su (one of many english spellings), a wonderful dim sum savory puff pastry treat filled with pork. I recently had it at Diamond on Eighth (a so-so dim sum place) in Brooklyn Chinatown. I had it once before from some Chinese restaurant on the upper west side that only will make it on Saturday and Sunday morning. It is a potent hangover cure.

what Cha Shao Su should look like

The filling is terrific. I had it cover it an put it in the way back of the fridge to keep from eating it while to evil puff pastry thawed.

It also doubles as a filling for Cha Shao bao:
Cha Shao Su filling
2 tsp. oyster sauce
¾ tsp. dark soy sauce
2 tsp. ketchup
1 ½ tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. Shao Hsing wine
½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. peanut oil.
1 small onion, diced finely
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 pound Chinese roast pork, diced small

Combine first six ingredients and set aside.

Heat peanut oil in a wok and add onion. Stir fry until browned, then add ginger and garlic. Stir fry for one more minute.

Add roast pork and stir fry for about two minutes.

Add sauce ingredients, allow to thicken and reduce somewhat; cook for about one minute.

If you don't live in a place where you can find chinese pork (also known as Char siu) you can make it. This is from The Gourmet Cookbook:
BBQ Chinese Pork aka Char Siu
1 (1-pound) piece boneless pork butt or shoulder
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Chinese rice wine or sake
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cut pork along the grain into long strips 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Remove and discard any sinew but do not trim fat. Transfer pork to a large sealable plastic bag. Stir together remaining ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Add to pork and turn pork to coat, then squeeze bag to eliminate as much air as possible and seal. Marinate pork, refrigerated, for at least 4 hours.

Put a rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Fill a 13-by-9-inch roasting pan with 1/2-inch water and place a wire rack across top of pan.

Remove pork from marinade, reserving marinade, and position pork strips 1 inch apart on wire rack. Roast for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring marinade to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan (marinade may look curdled). Remove from heat.

Brush some marinade over pork and roast for 10 minutes more. Generously baste meat with marinade, turn each piece over, and baste again. Roast pork for 20 minutes more, basting 2 or 3 more times with remaining marinade.

Increase oven temperature to 400°F and roast pork until mahogany-colored and caramelized on edges, 10 to 15 minutes more (about 1 hour total roasting time). Transfer to a cutting board and let stand, loosely covered with foil, for 10 minutes. (Its internal temperature will rise 10 to 15 degrees as it stands.) To serve, cut pork across the grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

I had no recipe for the entire project. Just for the filling. So, I winged it/wong it and went badly.
bad cooking
It is not a delightful puff treat. It is anemic and tastes like flour. it is like cardboard on the sides and you have to tolerate the tissue paper with glue like outside to get to the delicious inside. I think I am just going to scoop out the filling and eat it plain, like any self respecting pork enthusiast might have done in the first place. I really can't blame the pastry.

booo.
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Squash Seed Dip

recipe # 125

This is a modified version of Diana Kennedy's Pumpkin seed dip recipe or sikil-p'ak which you can find here.
Squash Seed Dip
Yield: 6 Servings
1 c. raw squash seeds
¼ c. cashews
1 Chile habanero; or any fresh hot green chile, wiped clean
2 md tomatoes; broiled
1 ½ ts Salt; or to taste
2 tb (heaping) chopped coriander leaves
1/4 c. grilled and chopped onions
⅔ c beef, chicken or veg. broth
Tortilla chips and maybe sour cream

MAKES 1.5 CUPS Heat a thick frying pan or comal and toast the seeds, turning them constantly, until the hulls are well browned and crisp (some types of seeds will start to pop open).

Add cashews and toast for one minute more. Set them aside to cool off.

Meanwhile, toast the chile, turning it from time to time until it is blistered and black-brown in spots.

Using an electric coffee/spice grinder, grind the toasted seeds, together with the salt to a coarse powder. Transfer to a small serving bowl.

In a food processor blend the tomatoes briefly with 1/3 cup of the stock. Add the ground seeds, together with the coriander, chopped onions, and whole chile ( if you prefer a more picante dish, blend the chile with the tomatoes before mixing them with the seeds).

Serve it at room temperature, as a dip. The mixture should have the consistency of mayonnaise. If it is too thick, you may have to add a little more broth to dilute it.



It looks like cat food, doesn't it? It tastes pretty good. It has a nice slow heat and it is great with beer. I think that a dollop of sour cream wouldn't hurt either. Switching out almonds for cashews would be good too.

Anyway, it is a nice thing to do with your squash seeds or a good alternative to just plain old toasted pumpkins seeds.
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