Saturday, December 17, 2011

Maple Ice Cream

I had some maple syrup sitting around from the last time I was in Vermont- Fancy grade, naturally. I don't use it all that often, but it is just so lovely to have. So I figured, I'm goign to be going back soon enough, time to use some. How? Maple Ice Cream.

There is NO cooking involved here.

Ingredients:

2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup maple syrup
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup milk 9full fat. You try this with skim? Fuck you)

Whisk the eggs until fluffy, then whisk in the maple syrup. It's a lot, because the maple is both a flavor as well as a sweetener, replacing the sugar which would normally be used. Once the maple is incorporated, add the heavy cream and then the milk. Place into the ice cream maker of your choice. Feel free to add chopped walnuts for maple walnut ice cream.

Note that because of the amount of maple, you get a strong maple flavor but a very sweet ice cream. The result is an ice cream that you will want 1-2 scoops and no more. But that scoop or two is just maple goodness.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

General Goldberg's Chicken

So I came home tonight a little after 10. I had an exhausted hour to cook dinner +lunch for tomorrow for my wife and myself, four boneless, skinless chicken breasts and little else in the cupboards. All this coupled with a growing loathing of chicken breasts in all the ways I normally make it.

I decided to explore my fridge and cabinets for ingredients, and made a sort-of General Tso's Chicken from things laying around.

Put up a pot of rice to serve the food over while you cook.

Cut the breasts into cubes and saute them with some olive oil.

Meanwhile in a small sauce pan, heat a small amount of water- 1/3-1/2 cup. If you are like me, your brown sugar is a solid lump. Break off a few pieces and drop them into the water, stir to dissolve.

Add the following to the sauce pan:
ketchup
red pepper flakes
rice wine vinegar (don't be scared- rice wine vinegar is extremely mild)
some lemon juice
juice of that one naval orange sitting in the fruit drawer in the fridge.

Bring back to a boil. Add a cup and a half or so of water and bring to a boil again. Taste it. Even with that water added, it should be fairly thin but flavorful. Don't worry about the thinness, we'll get to that.

Drain the chicken and put back into the pan. Pour the sauce over it. separately mix some flour and water and add it to thicken the sauce, stirring it in. Add a jigger or two of some cheap scotch (I had White Horse) and let simmer for a minute or two. Add a can of peas and some corn. Bring back to simmer, still stirring. It should be thick, tasty, and smell awesome. Serve over rice.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wienerpunsch

Some years ago, my extended family invited me to go with them on a trip to Vienna. Why? Just to be nice. We were there for Thanksgiving, and the Weinachtmarkts (Christmas Markets- like at Union Square, but EVERYWHERE) were open in full swing. Everywhere were hanging meats, chestnuts roasting in big kettles, small chachkas and gewgaws. It was cold, unbelievably cold for mid-November. It felt more like February. One thing I noticed to my surprise was the frequncy of men wearing hats- real hats, not baseball caps. That and furs. Women everywhere wore furs, real ones. But naturally, nothing quite warms like real fur, but here in the states, people either wear fake fur coats, or very rarely wear real ones because of the stigma against real fur. Which is stupid, in my opinion. I eat the meat, why not wear the skin? In fact, it seems a bit of a waste, but whatever.

Of course, I've always wanted to club my own baby seal, but that's just me.

In any case, one of my favorite things to do was wander the streets of Vienna, gradually growing colder. When I got cold enough, I would just stop at a nearby Punsch stand and buy a mug of Punsch, then be warmed up and walk on a little further. Punsch is punch, of course, but they had dozens of flavors and varieties, all of it hot, refreshing, and nicely alcoholic. I finally asked what went into making them, and I was told that they used a nice red wine, some tea, and fruit juice. Hunh, thought I. Not what I expected.

I miss Punsch, so I decided that tonight I'm going to make some. My recipe will be as follows, although possibly halved. When you drink it, think of the beautiful city of Vienna, where I smoked in the Natural History Museum.

12 cups red wine
4 cups of black tea
2/3 cup of Austrian rum (80vol% alcohol), if you have to use carribean rum, take 1 1/3 cup
6 cups fresh orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 sticks of cinnamon, a few cloves
some orange peel

Put everything into a big pot and gently heat but do not boil. Remember that alcohol boils at 79 degrees C, so if you heat it too much, you'll drive off all the lovely alcohol.


Edit: The verdict is in- both Kirsten and I think it tastes exactly like what we had in Vienna. I made up the black tea (Lipton's) and set it aside to steep. Once it had, that went into an enamelled cast iron pot. Still ery hot, but nowhere near boiling. Heat was turned on underneath and ~ 2 liters of a red cabernet was added (an inexpensive box wine). I dumped in a fifth of Bacardi silver (200 mL). I was running low on space by that point, so I only added ~2 cups or so of orange juice (poured in without measuring). 1/2 cup sugar was on the money, 2 short but fat cinnamon sticks and 5-6 cloves were added as well as the zest of one orange. Because the tea was so hot, this required very little heating to get it where it was going, and it was greatly enjoyed by all on such a cold night as this. I will definately be making it again in the future!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mayonnaise - in praise of the Real Hellmans

Oh lord, I'm down to the last 2 tablespoons of Hellman's Mayonnaise - real honest to goodness, New York bought Hellman's mayonnaise.

One of the horrors of "localisation" of brand foods is what is done to Hellman's Mayonnaise in the UK. Obviously it's what the company believes is preferred by British consumers. But as I'm not, I find the UK product completely alien. I've been lucky in recent years to have visiting family and friends haul over jars of Hellman's when they visit. But now I'm running on fumes so I'll have to make homemade American recipe mayo now.

Btw: Commercial mayonnaise sold in jars originated in New York City, in Manhattan's Upper West Side. In 1905, the first ready-made mayonnaise was sold by a family from Vetschau, Germany, at Richard Hellmann's delicatessen on Columbus Avenue, between 83rd and 84th Streets. In 1912, Mrs. Hellmann's mayonnaise was mass marketed and called Hellmann's Blue Ribbon Mayonnaise.

Here's the basic recipe. Details to follow after I make a batch tomorrow with my stick mixer (immersion mixer) and document the process.

2 large egg yolks
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of white pepper
1 cup oil - this should be a "tasteless" oil like sunflower, safflower, grapeseed, or canola (rapeseed)

Important: All ingredients must be at room temperature before you start this recipe.

Traditional way to make mayo:

Add first 4 ingredients to a bowl and whisk until combined and light.

Whisking vigorously add the oil 1 drop at a time, whisking after each drop until it disappears into the mixture (about 8 strokes/2 seconds).

After you have added about 1/3 of the cup of oil, and the mixture has thickened a lot, start adding the rest of the oil in a slow very thin stream.

When all the oil has been added and the mix is thickened - taste and add additional lemon juice and seasoning to taste, whisking it in smoothly.

You can add crushed/mashed garlic to the mayo to create aioli or minced tarragon or other hebs. The add-ins are endless.


My way to make mayo (quick and easy)

I use a stick mixer and a narrow cylindrical container to make mayo in under 30 seconds.
I'll add details and photos tomorrow afternoon.

And..in later news...my daughter has generously offered me her last jar of US Hellmans Mayo which I will eagerly collect tomorrow.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Labor Day Limeaide

I know, I know. It's frigging limeaide, how hard is that to do? Well, judging how how terrible some of the stuff I've swilled down over the years, very.

In all seriousness, there is this particular ratio in limeaide and lemonaide that if you get just a little bit off, it tastes wrong. It's too watery, too sweet, too sour, whatever. So, today being Saturday of the Unofficial Last Weekend Of The Summer, I went food shopping, and lemons and limes were on sale. I always promise myself that I'm going to make limeaide, but as tonight is gaming night, I thought it would be a really nice treat to have some icy cold, handmade limeaide on hand.

Oh yea- commercial stuff always sucks. Something about simple syrup tastes weird to my tongue. And commercial stuff always has the taste of the zest. I like candied orange, lemon and lime peels. But not in my lemon/limeaide.

You need a ~ 2 liter pitcher, preferably one with demarkations on the side. I rolled and squeezed 8 limes, which gave me just a hair under 500 mL. Yes, we're doing this metric. Deal with it. Add three tablespoons white sugar, stir with wooden spoon. It should readily dissolve. Add 1.5 L water so it hits the 2L mark. Taste. I thought it was still a bit too sharp, so I added one more tablespoon sugar. I add the last sugar at the end, because I prefer to be wary of how I flavor the end product. But 0.5 L lime juice, 1.5 L water, 4 tablespoons sugar? Fantastic. It's in the fridge chilling right now.

I'm not going to lie, I'm writing this up here more so that I can refer to it in the future than for you folks.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Apple Strudel

I give up on bakeries in London. They claim to sell Apple Strudel but the product you get is not Apple Strudel as we know it. Certainly not as New Yorkers know it.

So, I finally gave up and decided to make it myself. I've made apple strudel for many years when I couldn't buy the real stuff at a good Jewish/German bakery but never tried in London as the apples in the UK are nothing to write home about. They're great for cider and make very tasty apple sauce but they just aren't pie apples being the wrong texture and generally insipid. However, yesterday a neighbour stopped by with a bag of apples she had just picked from an old tree on her allotment garden. They looked gorgeous and the flavour - wow, spicy and  sweetly tart, yum! Strudel and pie - here we come!

So, here's the recipe. If you are in the US, try using Winesap apples or similar spicy, strongly flavoured firm apples.

Ingredients for the filling:
800g/1lb 12oz cooking apples, peeled, cored, cut into small chunks
50g/2oz unsalted butter
100ml/3 fl oz water
100g/3½ oz caster sugar (granulated sugar in the US) - cane sugar, please!
1/2 to 1 tsp ground cinnamon - to taste
large handful of fresh breadcrumbs (you must use fresh, not bought dried stuff)
Optional: 3 Tbsp raisins soaked in rum or OJ to plump them (I'm a purist and omit these.)

For the pastry:
50g/2oz unsalted butter, melted
5 sheets filo pastry
fresh breadcrumbs
icing/confectioners sugar, for dusting
Greaseproof/baking parchment paper

Preparation method
1. If you are going to use raisins, soak them in a bit of rum or OJ before starting.
2. Peel, core, and cut apples into small chunks.
3. Cook the apples in a pan with the butter, water and sugar for 5
minutes, or until the apples have softened slightly, but still retain their
shape and are al dente.
4. Remove the pan from the heat, add the cinnamon, raisins (if you're using them)
and the breadcrumbs and stir to combine (the breadcrumbs will bind
everything together). Set aside to cool.
5. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F
6. For the pastry, cut a piece of greaseproof paper a little larger than your
baking sheet to assemble the strudel on. This will also help you to roll it into
the assembled shape. Unroll the filo dough sheets and cover with a dish
towel to prevent it drying out. Spread out one sheet of filo on the paper,
and brush with the melted butter. Lightly scatter with a bit of the breadcrumbs
and a bit of sugar.  Repeat the process with all four sheets, placing
them on top of each other, brushing with melted butter each time and
scattering a bit of bread crumbs and sugar on each.
7. Spoon the apple mixture along the long side of the pastry about an inch from
the edge and roll up, longest side first, into a parcel, seam-side down. If you
have too much apple mix, just hold that aside. You can either roll the finished parcel
onto the baking sheet and discard the paper or trim the paper a bit and use that to
lift the parcel onto the baking sheet and let it bake on the paper.
Press down the ends of the parcel gently to seal in the filling.
8. Brush all over with the remaining butter and bake in the oven for 25 -30 minutes,
or until the top is crisp and golden-brown. (Check the strudel after 15 minutes;
if it is browning too quickly, reduce the heat a little. )
9. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet. When cooled, carefully
slide the strudel onto a platter or cutting board and dust with icing/confectioners sugar.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ribsticker

I came home tonight with defrosted chicken breasts and very little else to craft a dinner from. So, I made a Ribsticker, which is what I call my throwing shit together to make something healthy, tasty, and filling.

Prep certain ingredients first. I had three enormous chicken breasts which I sliced into cubes, as well as one very large onion that I gave a rough chop to.

In a large, high-walled pan, add some olive oil. This recipe makes a fair amount of food, so don't be too scared to add a few tablespoons. Crush ~8 cloves of garlic and allow to simmer in the oil. Once they start to brown, immediately add the onions and allow those to simmer for a few minutes. Add the chicken and stir it around for another 4 minutes or so. Add some frozen corn and frozen peas, leave for a few more minutes. While doing do, add salt, pepper, and some paprika. Add one can of (low sodium) chicken stock, and another can worth of water. Stir in roughly a cup of breadcrumbs. Myself, I had Italian style, but decided to use some panko I had laying around. It would thicken the liquid without adding any kind of a flowery flavor or anything. Turn heat to high until the mixture reaches boiling, then turn heat down to a simmer. Cover and leave for ten minutes.

No, it's nothing fancy. But it's cheap, tasty, easy to make, and stick to your ribs. I'm getting to the point where I have very little food in the house (need to do shopping soon) so it's at this time in the month when I start making things like this.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A City Dweller's Pulled Pork

I should start by saying that I never had pulled pork in my life up until maybe 3 years ago. Understand that it's not something New Yorkers, let alone Jews, make with great frequency. Too, we rarely went out to dinner. When we did, it was to various restaurants, but never BBQ- I can't recall any particular barbeque places in New York when I was a kid, though there are plenty here now. Steak restaurants, sure, but not BBQ. When we drove to Florida or some such, we stopped off at Chatanooga for Choo Choo's BBQ. I'm damned if I remember what I would order- probably steak or a burger- I loved those, and hated ribs.

Come to that, I never had a rib that I enjoyed until about 5 years ago, when I was introduced to beef spare ribs. Ribs with actual meat on them, not just pure fat on a bone? My world was well and truly rocked. Grilling we did plenty of in the summer. Back then, nobody (again, in New York) put sauces on the meat you put on the grill. I don't know if it occured to anyone. Then in the mid-90's, A1 steak sauce had a series of commercials where they suggested putting the steak sauce on the steak before grilling it. Steak sauce on the steak...before you grill it? It sounded just crazy enough to try. We did, thought it was okay, tried it another time or two, then decided that we liked our steaks grilled regular, thanks, with the steak sauce afterwards.

In any case, as I got older, I tried things like carnival chicken, which had barbeque sauce put on before it was cooked. I hated it- as far as I could see, the stuff just burned and made the entire chicken taste like burned garbage. I couldn't see the point of it, and I wished they wouldn't do it. But I keep an open eye for new things. As time passed, more and more BBQ places opened around New York, and I had my chance to sample them. My impression is that they are generally terrible, and that New Yorkers don't know dick about good barbeque.

There's a place up by Columbia called Dinosaur BBQ. With a name like that, it brings to mind The Flintstones, with the giant ribs that make the car fall over. And didn't we all wish we could have those ribs just once? I heard from so many damn people about how amazing it was, I couldn't wait to try it. It was awful. Understand, I tried a combination plate which gave be several different meats, plus I tried what everyone else ordered. Dino's could make some tasty sauce. But the meat was utterly flavorless. It tasted like something from a cafeteria. The texture would be fine, but the meat itself somehow had no flavor, I couldn't figure it out. I still can't. I guess they must have realized this, because they drowned the meat in sauce. To my mind, a sauce is always meant to compliment the flavor of the food it is on, not attempt to mask or drown it out.

Yes, I am aware that my pearl onions tend to drown in my cream sauce. That's because I always make too much cream sauce, never buy enough pearl onions, and I've found that people fucking love to put the cream sauce on their mashed potatoes.

Anyway, have you ever had a taste in your mind that you know that something can or should be? Well, I knew what pulled pork should taste like. The taste, texture, everything. I found a place in New York that will make it, but they are hellishly expensive. Plus, as near as I can tell, that's the only thing that they can make right.

Now, I live in an apartment. Though I have a balcony, I am not allowed to barbeque on it (except with my electric grill) and smoking food is just right out. How then could I make something like pulled pork? Well, one of the things I asked for when I got married was a slow cooker, as I know just how great they are to have for some things. Could I pull off a pulled pork with one?

Well, what did I have? Traditionally, you use pork shoulder, tough and fatty and cheap. Well, it's a meal based on not having much money, naturally. So, what meat did I have? I pretty much only buy meat that's on sale, so it'll have to do. What I had was pork loin. Not tenderloin, but the entire loin. Well, the pork loin in cross section is essentially a large oval of meat with a thick bottom layer of meat, like a mushroom cap on a fat stem. Not exactly right, but hell, it's what I have. I had bought the entire loin for about 13 bucks, brought it home and sliced it into sections of about 3.5-5 pounds each and shoved most of them in the freezer. This one was fully defrosted when I used it.

At night, I coated the pork loin in paprika, sea salt, pepper, and onion powder. Be generous. The loin then went into a ziplock bag and had the air mostly removed, then was shoved in the fridge overnight. In the morning before heading to work, I took the loin out and put it into the slow cooker, crushed a few cloves of garlic over the top, set it on slow cook, and went to work.

Now, one thing troubled me, and I'm still not 100% sure if I made the right decision. There is a thick layer of fat on one side, while the other side shows just meat. Do I put the meat fat side down or not? Well, I dind't want the meat to dry out, so the more indirect heat through the fat seemed wise. Plus, it would help to render the fat and have the pork sit in the juice and fat. On the other hand, if I put it meat side down, as the fat cooked it might work its way down the meat to keep it juicy. But then the meat touching the bottom might be dried out.

In the end, I put the fat side down. On returning home, I found that the juices had cooked out of the meat, and it was half submerged in them. I removed the loin with a couple of forks to a cutting board. The fat easily scraped off of the bottom of the meat and was discarded. The meat was- well, it's a bit dry, though not terribly so. I tasted a piece, and it was certainly flavorful, and wasn't tough or anything. At that point, it had been slow cooking for 9 1/2 hours, then kept warm for about another hour. That's because my slow cooker only goes to a max of 9.5 hours. In any case, you can feel free to try doing it for less time, whatever you like- I have a long workday, so I don't have much choice. That, and the cut of meat is tricky to keep completely moist.

I shredded the pork with a pair of forks, then added them back to the broth in the slow cooker. If you don't have much liquid, feel free to add a cup of broth. While that sat there, I made up a batch of my Awesomesauce (see recipe earlier, but essentially it is roughly 1/3rd honey, 2/3rds Heinz ketchup, and a bit of wasabi, cooked together until smooth). I made roughly 2-2 1/2 cups, and dumped that into the slow cooker as well. The food was stirred a little with a wooden spoon. The slow cooker was then set for another 2 hours and left to sit. It's there right now, so I don't know how it'll come out, but I'll edit in a little bit and let you know how it goes.

So, yes, the purists out there will scream and cry. But pulled pork is a meal about poor people taking what is on hand and doing what they can with it. That describes me pretty damn well, and it's about all one can do in an apartment. If you tried this and liked it, or have your own varients, I'd love to hear 'em!

Edit: Well, I am pleased. Not as good as I'd hoped, better than I expected. The taste is great, the pork is tender and flavorful. It's not melt-in-your-mouth the way true pulled pork is, but it's still very pleasant indeed. The only thing I would change is the liquid. The sauce ended up being a touch thin. It coats the pork beautifully, but it's just a touch too thin. I guess I could add a little flour or something, but it's not that big of a deal- I use a slotted spoon to take out the pork, but it's still thick enough to travel with the pork. Maybe it's just fine, but I should have shredded the pork a little bit more, or maybe made a little more pork, I dunno. In any case, it's a damn good start. The flavor is mostly that of the sauce, but there is still a touch of the flavors from the spices on the pork meat, enough that you get just a nice little tingle.

Still, I'd like to try it with proper pork shoulder at some point- see if the meat would be more flavorful. The barbeque sauce does admittedly mostly drown out the flavor of the pork- between the sweetness of the honey, the slight vinegar from the ketchup, and the flowery spiciness of the wasabi, it's hard to find the spiced pork in there. Maybe next time, I'll add less of the sauce, but it's a first attempt.

That said, it's still a damned tasty first attempt, especially on some kaiser rolls.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

BBQ Sauce

You'd think I'd be too busy to post with all of my work on the Bletchley Everest Challenge but I just realised that I haven't shared my BBQ Sauce recipe. This is an approximate recipe because the strength of your vinegar or ginger may vary so please taste and adjust! Stir as you go along so the flavours blend properly.

To cover 2 racks of ribs or 2 steaks

1/2 cup tomato ketchup - don't use the cheap stuff!
1/4 cup soft brown sugar (the darker the better)
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 - 2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon dried ginger
1 teaspoon Worcester sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce

Stir and taste. You'll probably need more sugar but it's better to add after you taste. Maybe add some old rum or something if you want to dilute it a little.

 I usually marinade my meat in this for 24 hours before cooking. This is good for the oven and the grill.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Eating on Mt Everest

As a fund-raiser for Bletchly Park ( http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/ ); the historic site of secret British codebreaking activities during WWII and birthplace of the modern computer, my daughter Astrid will be climbing to Mt Everest's Base Camp this August. Now Astrid is not a mountain climber nor a tekking sort in real life, but she is a serious supporter of Bletchly Park and thought it would be an exciting personal challenge as well as a great way to help raise funds to supper Bletchly Park. 


So - hint, hint - please consider a donation to help her efforts. Funds can be donated through Just Giving: http://www.justgiving.com/Astrid-Byro  (And if your company does corporate donations she's open to promo stunts, contact her for details.)

Astrid has a Mt Everest Base Camp Trek blog at http://abc-ebc.blogspot.com

Anyway the main food the Trek company says they'll be eating on the climb is LENTILS. Lots and lots of lentils. And garlic and onions and cabbage. Hmmmm...

If you know more about foods eaten on Mt Everest treks, please let us know. We're considering what recipes we could make for Astrid to bring along.

Friday, May 20, 2011

French Fingerling Potato Salad

Contrary to what you may think, (hell, what *I* may think) my father, when he wants, can make the best potato salad I've ever tasted.

The funny thing is that it took me ten years to convince him to make it again. See, my father likes to experiment with his cooking, as do we all. He would find something new, try adding it to something he loves, and if it works, was happy. If it didn't work, he would leave it in and try something else. The potato salad started with something simple and flavorful, the potatoes nicely cooked, not too much mayo, a delicious aromatic quality from the red onions he would use, and some salt and pepper. That was about it. It was simple and delicious. But as the years and the experiments went on, it changed. Finally, I refused to eat it anymore, and I know it hurt him. I genuinely did not want to upset him. But the potato salad had devolved to become a sludge of egg yolk and onion in mayonaisse with bits of green onion and very little potato. I prevailed on him to, just one time, make the potato salad the way he had ten years before. To humor me, he made it. And to his astonishment, he admitted to me that it was delicious and much better than what he'd been making for so long.

This is not to say that one should not experiment with recipes. That makes cooking dull. It also isn't to say that only simple recipes are good. This has been the big wave in cooking in the last twenty years or so, very simple dishes of 5 or fewer ingredients used to highlight one particular ingredient. I enjoy and appreciate this trend, but I also do not think that it necessarily is better or superior to food with many ingredients delicately combined and layered to provide a unique flavor and texture experience. This is all just my way of saying that though I tease my father about his cooking, he can actually make decent food. When he listens to me, anyway.

And that's my segue into today's recipe. I was making dinner tonight, simple cheeseburgers and fries, and I thought that it might be nice to do something different. I was thinking of throwing a Rapture BBQ this weekend, and wouldn't it be nice if I could try something out tonight for then? Well, I looked around for what I had. I could make a potato salad. Then I had an idea- why not a fingerling potato salad? Fingerling potatoes are small, waxy, delicate little potatoes, and it might be a chance to make a lighter version of the classic. Well, what the hell, why not give it a try?

Slice the potatoes into small pieces, then throw into a pot of boiling water. boil 4 eggs as well. I chopped a half of a large red onion pretty small (note- using the entire onion might not have been a bad idea). An equal amount of celery chopped delicately. I wanted to try using a piece of cucumber, but my cucumber was....weird. I just happened to have snatched a piece before adding it to the bowl, and it's lucky that I did. The cucumber tasted as though it had been dipped in a toxic waste barrel. My mouth burned, I shit you not. Out that went. But it would have been nice to peel the cuke, remove the seeds, then rough chop and add. Add the potatoes. Slice the eggs into 4 slices along the lattitude, then one long slice along the longitude. Add the eggs. Add equal measures of mayo and sour cream. No, this is not for any kind of health thing. I wanted it to be light and delicate, and sour cream is that. Plus, if you add too much mayo, it is nasty, but if you add too much sour cream, no biggie. Neither my wife nor I noticed the change.

Ideally, let sit in a sealed container overnight in your fridge.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Recipe's Forthcoming

I know I haven't posted here for a while, but I do plan to soon. Not much cooking lately, because there's pretty much no food in the apartment. Why? Because I've worn through 5 shopping carts in the last 6 months, and I'm going nuts. So, out of desperation, I went and bought a 400 pound capacity steel garden cart. It arrives thursday, so I hope to do shopping this weekend. Among other things, I get to test out my new cookware- like my new griddle, so stay tuned!

-Andrew

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Blue Cheese Salad Dressing

This most American of salad dressings is probably my favourite. So, of course it is almost impossible to find in the UK. (True, you can occasionally find a bottle on a supermarket shelf - and I do mean "a" bottle and I have bought them. Don't. Really! They always turn out to be a horrible rank watery concoction with a long list of strange and often unidentifiable ingredients. I've never been able to detect any sort of blue cheese taste to them.)

Anyway, the weather has been almost spring-like, almost sunny, almost warm. To celebrate, we decided to have  a chef's salad for supper. This required, nay demanded, a luscious creamy blue cheese dressing - preferably Roquefort cheese salad dressing. So I made it myself. It's really easy.

4 oz/ 100 ml Roquefort (or Blue) cheese
1 really large or 2 medium garlic cloves - smashed and finely minced
1/2 medium onion - about 3 tablespoons finely diced
8 oz/250 ml creme fraiche or American sour cream like Breakstone's or Axelrod's
About 4 big spoonfuls Hellman's mayonnaise 
1/2 large lemon - freshly squeezed juice
1 T sugar
Pepper - freshly ground - I use 15 or so grinds of the mill
Sea Salt - I use about 5 or 6 turns of the mill

Ingredients notes:
1. In the UK use full fat creme fraiche (Tesco's Finest Creme Fraiche Isigny AOC). Do NOT use whatever it is they sell in the UK called Sour Cream - it's not sour cream as we know it, believe me!
2. The American Hellman's is best. The UK version of Hellman's will do but they use a localised formula so the taste and texture is different and I don't like it. If you can get fresh mayo at Waitrose, I'd use that. Best of all is to get American family or friends to bring you the US stuff when they visit.
3. Rather than a bowl, I tend to mix this up in a plastic ice cream tub with a tight fitting lid. That way you can mix and store in the same container. Since you need to let the dressing sit for a few hours to allow the flavour to develop, this works really well.

Method:
1. Finely dice the onion and put in bowl. Smash the garlic clove to remove the skin, finely mince and crush and put into the bowl. Add sugar
2. Crumble or chop up the cheese and dump that into the bowl then add the lemon juice and give it a stir.
3. Add the creme fraiche/sour cream. Stir well.
4. Add the mayo, pepper, and salt. Stir well.
5. Taste and adjust by adding a bit more lemon juice if needed. (It won't taste very cheesy yet.)
6. Cover tightly with lid or plastic wrap. Put in the refrigerator for 6 hours, or overnight if preferred, to let the flavours mix and develop. You must allow this resting time!
7. Stir and taste before serving. You might want to adjust pepper and salt, go easy on it if you do.

Friday, March 11, 2011

New England Clam Chowder

How can a country that is an ISLAND not have clams for sale?
I mean seriously!
Alan and I had a craving for New England Clam Chowder so I stopped by the fish market while he was at the dentist today and bought a sack of Malden little rock clams. (Who knows, that's what the guy at the fish market called them.) Anyway, I obviously needed some extra clam both on hand for the chowder so I checked Tesco. Never heard of it. And they don't carry canned clams.

Phooey!
No wonder I never can find any fried clams in the frozen food section.

Anyway, I made New England Clam Chowder for dinner Saturday.
The recipe below is very traditional, in the style of "The Phillips-Byro Passover" tradition.

All amounts listed are approximate - I do not measure stuff for soup.
This recipe serves 2 for a main meal or 4 as a starter. There's usually a little leftover for the cook's next day lunch.

Fresh clams - lots, a net bag full.  OR - 2 cups canned minced clams, drained, juice reserved
clam broth - the clams will produce this when you steam them. If you use canned clams, they will be packed in it. . If not enough, try to get a bottle of it (easy in the US, lotsa luck in the UK)
1 medium yellow or white onion - diced
1 largish potato - about a cup chopped into 1/2 inch dice
1 stalk celery - diced
1 carrot - chopped into tiny dice
butter
white wine - I used a really good white wine we hadn't finished the night before, about 8 oz or so. Ignore vigorous protests from spouse or partner that it is still good to drink.
1 Tb corn starch (UK: corn flour)
600 ml single cream - US: a pint
150 ml double cream - US: 4 oz or more, always nice
freshly ground black pepper
a tiny pinch thyme
salt
Soup pot (sauce pan) with fitting lid.

This soup is made in 3 stages.

First prepare the clams:
Rinse the clams well under cold running water, examining each one to  make sure it's tightly closed. Discard any that are open. This is important .
Put clams into your soup pot. Pour in the white wine. Cover pot.
Bring the pot to a boil over a medium high flame - you want to heat it quickly.
Watch and as soon as the liquid starts to boil, lower the heat to medium.
It only takes 5 minutes to steam the clams. Then remove the pot from the heat.
Pour off the liquid, which is a very fragrant mix of clam juices and wine, into a tall measuring cup.
The shells will be open and you should be able to slide each clam out into a bowl with just a nudge of your finger.
If you used small clams, you can use them whole as they are little and tender. If needed, chop clams to bite size bits.
Wash out the pot. Relax a bit.Ignore spouse still banging on about the waste of perfectly good wine.

Second stage:
Assemble all ingredients to hand, prep the veg, dissolve the corn starch in a little cold water in a tea cup
Over medium heat, put about 3 tablespoons butter in your soup pot and let melt.
Add the chopped onions and let them become translucent, NOT BROWN! Turn down the heat if needed.
When the onions are mostly translucent, add the celery and cook for a few more minutes.
Then add in the potatoes and carrot. Stir to cover everything in a sheen of butter and let cook a couple more minutes.
Now slowly pour in the reserved clam juices. WARNING - there will probably be some grit at the bottom of the cup, so pour the liquid into the soup pot very slowly, watching carefully and STOP before the grit gets to the edge. If you are careful, you will only have about a tablespoon or so of liquid left with a bit of grit - throw this out.
Bring the pot to a boil, cover pot, lower heat to just enough to maintain a simmer.
Let the soup simmer gently covered for about 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, check that the potatoes and carrot are cooked through. Poke a knife into them or taste a sample. If needed, recover and let simmer an extra 5 min.
Uncover the pot for the next stage.

Third stage:
Give the corn starch/water mix a stir.
With the pot still simmering on the heat, start stirring it with a large cooking spoon.
Drizzle in the corn starch stirring constantly - soup will start to thicken immediately. Let cook for a minute.
The soup will thicken up more than you expect - which is good because next...
Still stirring, slowly pour in the single cream.
Add a tiny pinch of thyme and grind in black pepper - start with about 5 or 6 grinds.
TASTE THE SOUP! See if you need more black pepper. Add to taste. You might also need a bit more salt especially if you used fresh clams. If you add salt, do it sparingly!
Now add the double cream, stirring as you pour it in.
Add the clams.
Reduce the heat to low
Cook until heated through. Do not boil!
Taste and adjust seasoning.
Serve hot!

It actually took me about 30 minutes start to finish - but I've been tossing this soup together for years.
For fish chowder - just replace the clams with some nice fish like cod and haddock or salmon.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Quickie pork chops

Being the lazy bum that I am, I don't go shopping for food nearly as often as I should. So I found myself tonight with some beautiful pork chops I had thawed, and damn little else.

Time to improvise. Before you suggest changes or additions in the comments, as I said, I had little else. Had I had a full larder, rest assured that this recipe would be different. But that said, to my astonishment, these were some of the tastiest pork chops I have ever eaten in my life.

And no one was as astonished by this as me.

What I had on hand (aka ingredients)

8 beautiful boneless pork chops, center cut.
a block of some old parmesan cheese.
matzoh meal.
sea salt
pepper
dried crushed garlic and parsely mix.
olive oil

I did not pat the pork chops dry with a paper towel, because i had no paper towels, and was hoarding the napkins I have for later.

Shave the parmesan and mix with matzoh meal. Mix in salt and pepper. No, I have no amounts, I just did this extemporaneously. Dredge the pork chops, and coat those bad boys well. Meanwhile, in a large, high-rimmed pan, put enough olive oil in to come up to a third to a half of the pork chops. Heat, and add in the dried and crushed garlic and parsely mix. This will flavor the oil somewhat. Immediately add your pork chops. Cook for five minutes, then flip. Cook another five minutes. Check temp with a meat thermometer and let it cook an additional minute if needed. Remove pork chops (I did this in 2 batches, 4 at a time) and place on plate with paper napkins to soak up the oil. After a few minutes, plate and eat.

Optionally, drizzle a little lemon juice on top. It helps cut the oil a little, and is a nice contrast in flavor to the salty, savory pork chops, but it really is optional.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Profiteroles ( Choux pastry)

Choux pastry is a very useful and adaptable recipe for both sweet and savoury treats. Once you are proficient at making it, you can quickly and easily use it to produce profiteroles, cream puffs, gougeres, party canap├ęs, appetisers, eclairs, etc. It works up very quickly, needs little equipment to produce, impresses the hell out of everyone. Your secret weapon to entertaining success.

The ingredients amounts suggested make up a batch of about 40 profiteroles. Bearing in mind that these are small puffs, that's a reasonable amount for dessert for a dinner party of 6 - 8 people. Excess (Ha! Not likely!), may be sealed in a zip lock bag and frozen. You can freeze them empty or filled with ice cream; I don't recommend freezing any other filling. From frozen, you can take them out shortly before serving and let them defrost slightly while you make chocolate sauce or any other of your choosing. They won't be as crisp as fresh but they are still marvellous.

Ingredients:

1 cup (250 ml) water
1 stick butter (4 oz/125 grams)
pinch of salt (literally, just grab a big pinch of salt between thumb and finger)
1 tsp sugar
1 cup plain flour (strong flour can also be used. Must be white flour whichever you choose!)
4 large eggs
4 oz chocolate - Belgian dark chocolate suggested, make sure it's 60 % or higher
1 cup double cream (whipping cream) or ice cream for the filling
sugar - for the whipped cream, to taste

NOTE - You MUST measure out all ingredients (except the chocolate and the cream) before starting this recipe and have them ready to hand.

Tools:
1 saucepan - medium size
1 sturdy wooden mixing spoon
flat baking sheets
parchment or greaseproof kitchen paper
pastry (piping) bag and plain tip (optional)
Whisk or electric mixer

Method:

1. Place water, butter cut up, salt, and sugar in saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter melts.
2. Add the flour all at once, stir it in and then beat the mixture with a wooden spoon until it comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a smooth paste without any lumps in it.
3. Set the saucepan aside to cool for a few minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 200C - make sure racks are spaced apart to allow heat to circulate.
5.  Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring quickly to make sure the eggs don’t ‘cook.’ The batter will first appear lumpy, but after a minute or so of vigorous beating, it will smooth out and become shiny and silky looking.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment/greaseproof paper  
 Scoop the choux pastry into a piping bag and pipe out small dollops of it spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart. Alternatively, you can just use 2 teaspoons to scoop up the dough and plop it onto the sheet, which is what I do. If you do use a pastry bag you will need to wet your finger with cold water and lightly flatten the peaks on top of the dollops. 
8. Put the tray into the oven and cook them for 30 minutes. Do not open the oven door for the first 20 minutes! Then you can take a peek to see how they are browning. Depending on your oven, they may be ready or need the full time to become completely golden brown. 
9. Remove the sheet from the oven, pierce the side of each hot puff with a small sharp knife to release the steam from the hollow inside and allow the choux puffs to cool for 2 - 3 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. 
10. When the buns are completely cold, it's time to make your filling. Put the double cream and the sugar into a large bowl and whisk it until it has become stiff and will hold its shape. (If you are using ice cream just take it out of the freezer and make sure it's scoopable.
11. If you have a pastry bag (cleaned or with a new disposable bag) put the whipped cream in it. Fill the puffs by inserting the tip into the hole you pierced in the side of the puff. If you don't have a pastry bag, just slice open the puffs part way along the side and spoon in the whipped cream - which is what I do.
12. Melt the chocolate either in a bowl over a pot of simmering water or (what I do) put the chocolate in a pyrex  measuring cup and microwave it. Make sure to break the chocolate up into pieces and set the microwave for 20 or 30 seconds. When it pings, check to see if the chocolate is melting. It's ok if it has some lumps left, they will stir out. You can microwave the chocolate for an additional 30 seconds as needed. Stir the chocolate gently to make sure it's smooth. Pour the chocolate into a serving jug.
13. Pile the filled puffs onto a serving plate and if you wish, drizzle some of the chocolate on top.
14. Serve the filled puffs, passing the jug of chocolate alongside so people can take as much sauce as they please.
Optional alternative fillings - pastry custard, cannoli cream, chocolate mousse, sliced strawberries (I add them with the whipped cream)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Spaghetti with Clam Sauce

So mom and Alan are coming over tomorrow for lunch. I don't really feel up to heading out to the shops so I'll be cooking from supplies. Therefore, I will be making spaghetti with clam sauce. Life doesn't really get much easier than this.

Serves 2-4 depending

Ingredients;

1 large chopped onion
1 or 2 crushed garlic cloves
olive oil
salt pepper
1 or 2 cans of baby clams
chopped parsley (not essential)
healthy glug of white wine (4-8oz.?)
2 tbsp butter
spaghetti

while cooking spaghetti...

saute onions and garlic until soft. add some salt and pepper then add the clams and white wine and continue to simmer until the sauce looks right.

drain spaghetti when cooked and add to sauce. Add butter to melt in and then add fresh parsley. Toss and serve.