Saturday, December 17, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
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
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
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
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
icing/confectioners sugar, for dusting
Greaseproof/baking parchment paper
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
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
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
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
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Monday, January 3, 2011
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.
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.
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
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
7 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)