Friday, August 11, 2017

I was tempted beyond control last week while putting together my weekly Farmdrop order - on the new products page they offered Smoked Brisket (from one of my favorite local slow growth traditional breed all grass fed cattle farmers)! Well, I just had to have it. So here I am today oven- roasting my first brisket. It needs a long, long, low temp roast then a quiet rest overnight and finally a reheat in the fabulous tangy sauce for dinner tomorrow. (Check Smitten Kitchen for my recipe inspiration.)
'In oven 3 hours, 3 more to go...
more to come -

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Chinese five spice recipes

A coworker of mine recently mentioned that her mother had bought her a bunch of Chinese five spice and she hadn't the foggiest what to do with it. Chinese five spice is a really lovely blend, a little sweet, a little savory, a little smokey, you can use it in all kinds of things. Since I don't know her technical level of cooking, I went digging to find two tasty, easy recipes which use Chinese five spice. I've adapted a couple of recipes from SpiceTrekkers, which I give you below:

Before doing these recipes, the first step is to make sure all social media access has been shut down. Don’t post everything you do on there. It’s ridiculous, and it distracts you so you’re more likely to make a mistake. The world will not explode if you can’t post pics of your food, possibly posing while holding it up with duck lips.

Tea Eggs

You’ll need:
1.       Eggs (duh), 4-6
2.       Black tea (I usually use lapsong suchong, but any will do, really. Experiment to find the variety you like! Don't use that Chinese builders tea that tastes literally like mud and looks like mudballs.)
3.       Water
4.       1 Tbsp Chinese five spice
5.       Pinch salt.

A lot of people don’t know how to hard boil an egg, or have all kinds of crazy tricks to hard boiling like “steaming” or whatever. If you already know how to consistently hard boil an egg, do that. If not, here’s how to do so consistently:

Select your eggs. Hard boiled eggs peel more easily when they are a little older. Not OLD, just not super fresh. The fresher they are, the stickier the membrane under the shell is. 

Using a medium-large saucepan (pot with a long handle), place your eggs into the pot and fill with cold water from the tap until it just covers the eggs. Heat on a high heat. Wait for it to begin to boil. Let it boil for ten minutes (that’s ten minutes of boiling, not ten minutes of heating!). Quickly pour out excess boiling water (doesn’t have to be all of it, just as much as you can easily) and then place under stream of cold running water for a minute or so.

You now have hard boiled eggs.

The tea eggs:

Put a small pot of water up to boil- 4-5 cups. Add the tea, the salt, the Chinese five spice. Bring the water up to a low simmer. You want to maintain that temperature as best you can.

Roll the eggs gently on the countertop or on a cutting board with your hands. You want the shells to crack just enough to allow the liquid in, but not so much that you have shell pieces falling off.

Place the eggs in the tea liquid. Simmer minimum 30 minutes. The eggs will get better the longer you simmer them, so if you can for a few hours, that’s even better. If you prefer just a hint of tea egg in your egg, 30 minutes should be fine. If you like something stronger, keep it simmering. Remember that you don’t want a full boil, you’re really looking to keep it hot without it losing too much volume.

Take the eggs out, peel, and enjoy!

Chinese Strudel

I’m going to assume that you really don’t want to make the dough by hand.

You will need:
1.       1 box frozen filo dough
2.       1 cup white sugar
3.       ½ cup chopped walnuts
4.       1 tsp Chinese five spice
5.       ½ cup jam (use a good one) or spreadable fruit preserves. Something with a little sharpness is preferable I think, like raspberry, apricot, or elderberry, rather than something like strawberry.
6.       ½ stick butter cut into 4 Tbsp pieces (roughly). If you aren’t aware, butter sticks usually have markings on the side indicating Tbsp measurements. I distinguish between cooking butter and eating butter, the former the cheapest stuff you find, the latter being something nicer if you can get it. This is a case where you can argue for either.

To do:

Take your filo dough out an hour or two beforehand (the package will usually say how long it takes to thaw, roughly). There may be one or two rolls, depending on brand.

Preheat your oven for 375- yes, you have to use your oven! Clean out the stuff you store in it first!

Pour the sugar into a frying pan and heat on medium-low. Slowly melt the sugar, stirring with a wooden spoon. You want the sugar to have just melted and have a kind of golden or slightly brown color. If it’s a little darker, that’s okay too. Once it’s liquid, add the Chinese five spice and 2 Tbsp butter. Toss the walnuts in the mixture until they are evenly coated. Lay them out on a piece of aluminum foil (dull side up) to cool. When cool, chop roughly.

Take your filo dough and roll open onto a baking sheet (a wide, flat pan, like a cookie sheet) with your preferred non-stick intermediate (silicone pad, parchment paper, etc.). Spread the jam on ½ of the dough, leaving ½” space along the edges. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the jam.

Starting at the jam end, gently roll the dough into a cylinder without crushing the dough. Pinch the ends closed.

Melt the remaining 2 Tbsp butter. Generously brush the strudel with melted butter. Cut a few slits along the top of the strudel. Optional: sprinkle a few reserved finely chopped walnuts on top.
Put the strudel in the oven. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Every 7-10 minutes, brush the strudel with the remaining butter.

Remove from the oven, let cool, slice along the short axis into rounds. Serve with strong coffee.