pecunium: (Default)
Food. I've been cooking again. I have three people to cook for, and the present situation afford me the time I need to adapt to the new conditions.

First, I have someone who keeps kosher, and I have someone who is lactose intolerant. That means some of my default behaviors have to change. I can't do cream sauces. My usual tricks of using butter to brown, flavor and finish dishes, are out.

I also have no nightshade in the repertoire, because Merav is allergic. No potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, or chiles.

Weds was impromptu. Merav took a fall on Tues. to the visit we had planned became company coming in.

I dashed to the store (the first time I've been on the motorcycle since a couple of days before I moved, call it a month), and got some chicken quarters, a couple of leeks and some cremini, and pine nuts.

Took a couple of onions, and one leek set them to caramelise. Browned the chicken. Put the oinons on the bottom of a deep cast iron pot, onto that I put parsnips and carrots, and then four of the thigh/drumstick quarters. Tossed in some fennel seed and some celery seed; let it simmer for about an hour. Then I chopped about 1 1/2 cups of mushrooms and let it finish.

Made a pot of rice.

The leeks and onions were a little more brown than I would have like (I think I need to get some heat diffusers without the central hole mine have), but they weren't more than a bit scorched. The pot liquor was all the sauce one needed.

Thus. I took the other two quarters, stood them on top of the tops of two leeks, and put some water under them so they could poach/steam.

Set that on the back burner; in a visionware pan, so I could see the progress.

I took some schmaltz from the browning for the previous nights fricasee, and put a couple of onions into it to sweat.

Took the various leftover "meat" rice from the fridge.chopped some more mushrooms, and carrots and parsnips. Put the mushrooms into the onions and cooked them into a sort of "duxelles crudo", in that I didn't mince them small, and didn't let them fall apart.

When the chicken was done, I took it out, shredded the meat off the bones, fished the leeks out of the pot and put the skin and bones back in, with the tops of the neeps and carrots, as well as the uncooked root end of the previous nights leeks, added water just to cover and set it to simmer.

Mixed the meat into the rice, and put it into a 175 oven for about 45 minutes.

Last night was more labor intensive. I'd roasted a kampucha, and a butternut, squash the say before. I pulled the meat from the shells, grated some ginger into it* , and mixed in not enough pine nuts. Be liberal with them.

I also made up some duxelles, mushroom heavy, and onion light.

Then I rolled out the pasta and made ravioli with the squash, and half-moons with the duxelles. All they needed was a bit of pepper, but brown butter would not have been amiss.

*be careful, the ginger is very faint to the nose, and shows up against the squash, taste the mix, or aim for less than you think you need. About 1" of fresh ginger, minced is probably not too much; I used a little too much, it wasn't unpleasant, but the flavor was more ginger forward than I'd have liked.
pecunium: (Default)
[personal profile] tenacious_snail and I had a party. It was a swell party, if not so heavily attended. This meant we had more than enough munchies, and no one complained of a lack of nommies.

I did some cooking.

A week, or so, ago [personal profile] tenacious_snail sent me a recipe. I filed it away for something to make before I leave on, The Trip and a party seemed a good reason to make something which would generate 3-4 cups of stuff.

I did deviate from the recipe; I forgot the cilantro, and added lime juice. I didn't measure the pepitas, nor did I count the tomatoes. It was, barring a complaint about it not being smooth enough, texturally, it was praised by one and all. Even the complaint wasn't about the flavor. The worry I had was the habeñero peppers, even deseeded they have some punch. It was fine. There was the lovely flavor of them (they are very sweet) but the heat was moderated by the pepitas, and it built.

I kept referring to it as, Mexican hummus.

In the course of shopping for it my food plans changed, and then again.

We had the grill. I decided I wanted a steak, but the meat at Tj's was looking sort of pekid, and I decided I wanted some retsina. Since the only peppers Tj's had were jalpeños, and I dislike the flavor of them, I needed to go somewhere else in any case, so I put the meat aside (because Draeger's, where I decided to go has a very nice butcher).

I asked for a couple of bratwurst, and then realised I could get lamb, as they have quite the selection, and I got a decently sized steak. No other interesting peppers, so I got the habeñeros, the retsina, and headed to the Menlo Park farmers' market, where the peppers were not yet in season. One grower had any, and they were cubanelles, which are tasty, and roast well, but aren't hot. I bought two, so as to roast them.

When I got home I realised I didn't need to mess with marinating the meat (I was going to dress it in lemon and oregano, dust it with salt and rub it with a bit of pepper), I could, instead, mince it, add some onions, oregano (I have a nice plant, and could use the fresh; since I don't have any dried yet), and rosemary. I could also roast one of the peppers and add that, before stuffing the other pepper with the mix.

So I took out my new knife, and gave it a spin. I'd not really tested it yet (it was a lagniappe from Henkels, for attending a training session. They wanted feedback, and to convince us what a swell knife it is), and this seemed a good test.

As easily as it went through the cukes I pickled last week (which was helped by being a french profile, which makes point work easier than a german chef, or a santoku), it sliced the lamb, and then minced it, and then turned it into lamb tartare.

I like it, but as I expected, the edge (with an included angle of 9°-12° wasn't completely happy with the wiggles required to do the mincing. A touch on one of my finer steels (I have five, from, "standard" to "satin"), and it looks pretty good, but I suspect this may be the first knife I sharpen to a slightly more dull edge than it came to me from the factory, but that's a small complaint. I'd say the total chopping time, to reduce 2 oz of meat to mush, was about 3 minutes.

I took the mix, stuffed it into the pepper, rolled it up in a long strip of foil, and set to to cook. With the remainder I made a keftide and shared that out with people. It was very good, and I am tempted to make more for myself when I deal with the rest of the lamb.

The stuffed pepper was better, and the texture of the lamb was so much better than having it ground in a machine. My only complaint was that I didn't plan this, so I got a leaner steak than this wanted (because the "lambiness" is in the fat).

Since [personal profile] lady_mondegreen can't eat nightshades, I may prepare something similar for her, when I am visiting, using grape leaves, or perhaps as stuffed cabbage, with a cumin and tomato sauce around them, to make up for the lack of peppers.
pecunium: (Default)
I will be teaching another Knife Skills class (Sur la Table, in Palo Alto, Calif.) on Tues, 12 January, at 6:30 p.m.

At present there are only eight people enrolled. Class cost is $59 US (you can enroll online).

It's a basic skills course. How to select, and maintain, a knife. How to hold, and handle a knife. How to do basic cutting (slice, dice, chop, mince, chiffonade), and some of the less intuitive tricks for certain vegetables.

Knives will be provided. The chance to try diffrent makes and styles will be afforded. From things chopped up in the class, bruschetta will be made.

The class lasts about 1 1/2 hours (if more questions are asked, it might go as long as two), and you get a discount of 15 percent (on the day of the class) and one for 10 percent (for the following week) on anything which isn't powered by electricty.
pecunium: (Default)
A couple of weeks ago CG decided she wanted fish for supper. Specifically she wanted something high in Omega 3 fatty acids. Salmon is top of the mark, but I don’t care for it cooked (link to old post). Doing some research we found sardines are pretty good too.

Like mushrooms I’ve always thought I should like more of them then I do. Reading accounts of people eating (say Preserved Killick frying up pan after pan of fresh flying fish, or mackerels, etc.) makes me drool, but the real thing, not so much). We decided to be adventurous and began to call around for fresh sardines. Sardines because I like mackerel, and because I’ve used them (and more generic kippers) in the making of (insert post about sandwich)

No place had them. The only recommendations we got were for places in San Francisco. Feh. In the course of a rainy day we decided the hell with it (because the mackerel we found in various parts of the search, was all frozen), and swung by Whole Foods to get a steak.

Lo, and Behold, they had fresh sardines. The fishmonger was amused at our description of the search, telling us they get 20 lbs of them everyday from Monterey (which fishery the proximity of had caused me to think finding fresh sardines would be almost trivial). When she found we’d never had one, she gave us the one we’d asked for as a lagniappe.

I took it to her house, taught her how to gut/clean/butterfly them and tossed it in a pan, with a bit of olive oil. The three of us thought it was a swell idea.

The meat was firm, with a bit of the tooth one gets from good canned tuna. The browned bits (esp. near the tail, where the flesh was more done) were sweet, and crunchy.

But one wasn’t enough. So CG found a Moroccan recipe, basically a condiment (parsley, onions, garlic, cumin, lemon juice, paprika) which was to be used as the filling in a “sandwich”. We headed back to Whole Foods, and thanked the fishmonger for the sardine. She and I talked about gutting/filleting. Because of the issues of time/volume (it’s about 6 sardines to a lb) they will gut, and remove the heads and tails, but boning is left to the buyer.

I told her it was easy, remove the head, and tail, flop the cleaned fish open, and place the heel of a knife beneath the spine (at the tail end), slide a bit toward the head (so at least one, two is better, vertebra is on the blade), pinch the spine to the knife, and lift. Me, I do it with my fingers, pinching the spine and then lifting. The dorsal spines will want to be peeled out, which may give you two fillets, or they can be ignored; providing a small bit of crunch.

She seemed to be taking a long time to clean 6 fish (I was being lazy, which is how we got to the conversation on filleting sardines), and brought out 6 butterflied fish. She said she had the time, so she’d felt like trying it. She agreed, it is easy.

They were a bit of a disappointment. The garnish was too pungent for the fish. I reduced the cumin, and the paprika, and it was still very forward. Sardines, contrary to general expectation/understanding, are not really strongly flavored, poorly canned ones are as strong as they get, and they are still pleasant spread on toast with a bit of butter.

Tonight we try it again. This time closer to the first time. Butterflied fish, pan-fried in olive oil, and dressed with caper butter. A side salad (romaine, tomatoes, english cucumbers and minced shallots, asparagus; pan fried in bacon fat), Rice and a gewürtzraminer.

For everyone else I tossed the asparagus with the crispy bacon from rendering fresh fat for the asparagus. Me, I was feeling the need for different variety, and used the bacon in the rice.

The verdict is... cook them more than you think is ideal; they are oily, and can take it. Get them crispy brown on the flesh side, and then flip them for a moment to crisp the skins a bit et voila

Food Porn

Sep. 17th, 2009 08:13 pm
pecunium: (Default)
It's been awhile since I've done any really creative cooking. It's not that I've not done any fun cooking. I've been taking advantage of CG and her primary, and various friends, to do some, but eggs benedict, and the like, while fun (and full of gratifying praises) are variations on themes well known. It isn't really improv.

I was at the market, getting cream and bread, when I saw the fish counter. My housemate it an ovo/lacto/pescotarian, and I like scallops; for which they had a decent price. I bought half a pound (scallops aren't crap, I can find a surfeit, but half a pound is well inside my margin of eating).

I got some beans, some provolone, selected some potatoes, and planned to make some sort of scallop diavolo. Somehow I forgot to put the potatoes in my basket (I also forgot the bread, having been disctracted by the cheese and the scallops).

I asked Les what she was doing for dinner, and told her I had enough for two. As I was prepping she asked if the offer was still open, which it was.

Dice an onion and caramelize. While it is melting take about 1/3rd cup cream, add about 1/3rd teaspoon cinnamon (to taste, but the resulting mix, when whisked, should be colored, and perfumed), simmer.

Keep the pan for the onions warm.

Place a pot of water on the boil for pasta (I used rotoni).

When the onion is well browned (but not burnt, a few pieces can be crisp, but that's it) add it to the cream, keep on the fire. Toss in a healthy splash of madiera (I was using ), and reduce some until a bit thicker than you think you want it to be.

When the sauce is just shy of being thick enough, add salt, to taste. When it's done, add a 1/4 teaspoon, or so, of freshly cracked pepper (we had green peppercorns in the house, so a slightly smaller amount of black might be the case), remove.

Put oil in the onions pan, get it hot (a bit shy of smoking for olive oil)

Drain the pasta.

Brown the scallops. Toss the pan, when the scallops start to weep they are done. Pout the entire mix (oil, scallops and weep water) into the cream sauce. Mix it, and dress the pasta.

Serv hym forth
pecunium: (Default)
Well, not really.

I am making a "chili-soup" (beans, tomatoes, vegetable stock, spices),and some bread to go with it.

Because I'm working with whole wheat I need some gluten. Because I'm in the south I need more gluten. Because this is a simple bread, I'm winging it (water, flour, salt, yeast). Because this isn't my kitchen, I'm really winging it.

I miss my breakmaking board. I really miss my bench scraper. I was making a ciabatta style bread. So I was planning on a floopy dough. Factor the softer wheat (which is differently absorbent), and the higher ambient humidity (so the flour is less willing to take on water; which I forgot) and the dough was really floopy.

It wasn't that bad, really. Heck, it looked more like ciabatta than it usually does. Fire up the oven (wish I had my water pan). Do the last shaping and realise... my father doesn't have a half-sheet baking sheet. Crap.

I've reshaped it, and it's rising a bit more. It won't be a slipper.

It will be a loaf of bread. I will eat soup with it.

Food

May. 14th, 2009 12:42 am
pecunium: (Default)
So...

My father is an ovo-pesco-lacto vegetarian (mostly... he makes an exception for pepperoni and sausages on pizza). I am an omnivore, with a sad lack in love for lots of fish (esp. if one cooks it). Doesn't mean I can't cook it (I'm dab hand at poaching fish, and he called me up to talk him through blackening a piece of salmon).

Which means I get to practice my veggie cookery. Which is not a bad thing.

Today I made a potage of lentils.

2 moderate onions (about 2 cps, roughly chopped)
24 oz (more or less) vegetable stock
Dried lentils


Carrots, tomatoes, celery

Take the chopped onions, put them in a heavy bottomed pan over a low heat. Cover the pan. Let the onions caremlize a bit.

Add a splash of water. Let it reduce (you will be letting the onions do their thing for an hour, or two).

Add about half the stock. Pour in enough lentils to come almost to the level of the stock. Pour in the rest of the stock. Add spices to tastse (I used cumin, and a large clove of garlic, chopped small).

When the lentils are soft, chop up some firm tomatoes, and a couple of carrots. Toss them in. When the carrots are softened some, you can serve. At this point I add the celery, chopped to pieces which are small enough to easily get in one's mouth (this is my rule of thumb when chopping for soups, stews, etc.).

When the celery is softend, but still has some crunch, the carrots will be perfect, the tomatoes still coherent enough to have texture; and a bit of tang. The lentils will be a smooth mass, with enough definition to seem sort of distinct.
pecunium: (Default)
Last week I posted a comment to Pewsitter pointing out the logical problems with the stance taken by a poster there, and the person he was praising.

No surprise, (since it did, functionally, call him, and her; and a lot of people who agreed with them, hypocrites), it wasn't published.

So, why have comments? I didn't use foul language. I didn't say they were hypocrites; just pointed out that the moral certainty they were espousing had been lacking when it was a Republican, and his lackeys, who were getting honorary degrees from Catholic universities.

If asking a question isn't allowed, what is? Are the comments only to be echo-chamber praises of the "brave" people who get to pontificate without public disagreement?

Then again, that's pretty much par for the course for reactionary religious types. They pick and choose what they want to follow, and then pretend all the rest isn't there.


It seems to me it ought to be harder for Catholics; we have a doctrine, and dogma, and the Pope, etc. to tell us what are, and aren't things which we need to pay particular attention to (and the last two popes have spoken out against the War in Iraq, Torture, mistreatment of the poor, etc.; which Pewsitter doesn't seem to oppose. Looking at their splash page, well the only way to know it's not a bunch of narrow minded Protestant bigots is the repeated mention of being Catholic).

But, people being people, these folks are quite capable of holding mutually conflicting beliefs, and condemning others; even when those
others don't.


[addendum]
It has been suggested I am judging their sincerity: I am. The fellow who wrote the original post said this:

Additionally, the declination of this award by Ambassador Glendon should send a message to all members of the Catholic educational establishment, namely: Catholics are no longer going to tolerate secular interpretations of our most sacred Catholic principles. Either you are Catholic in your beliefs, or you are not. There can be no middle ground...

Notre Dame…return to the fold. Rescind the offer of an honorary degree to the President and respect Catholic teachings and principles. The bestowal on an honorary degree on any individual that so blatantly disregards our respect for human life through his political, personal and government policies has no right to any honorific degree from Notre Dame or any other Catholic educational facility.


If the speaker believes there can be no middle ground, and Papal Dicta are inviolable, not merely when speaking ex cathedra (which applies, because the issue of abortion has not been addressed ex cathedra), then the plaudits given to Condoleeza Rice by Boston College, and to Micael Mukasey by Notre Dame, should have been every bit as anathema as the award being given to Obama.

When someone makes a binary statement like this one (which is broader than, "Abortion is so wrong it needs to be opposed with every fiber of our being."). there is every right to hold the speaker's position up to scrutiny. To see if they really believe it, or if it's a convenient piece of rhetorical posturing, meant to fool the unwary into thinking there is more to it than a personal interest.

So yes, I am judging their sincerity, and finding it lacking. They do not mean what they say; no matter how much they seem to be saying what they mean.
pecunium: (Default)
Lent begins today, as is my perennial wont, I will be forgoing lamb. This year will have less hardship in that than most, as I will be in Korea for half of lent, and and so the odds of my being tempted with the wonderful lamb of spring will be less.

But last night, last night I made food.

Roast leg of lamb (and one rack of frenched ribs. I wanted to do enough rack to feed everyone, but at 10 bucks a lb. a reasonable quantity was prohibitive, as we can expect at least eight people for dinner. Maia bought me a rack as a present; a way to remind myself of what I am giving up, for reasons of ease I will freeze it and have it after Easter). The lamb was marinated in lemon juice, with garlic and rubbed with oregano before roasting.

Tzaztiki (yoghurt, garlic, cucumbers; peeled, and cut into chunks, and cumin)

Salad (bermuda onion, red and yellow tomatoes, cucumber,shredded basil, sliced, feta, and a drizzle of olive oil [Jo¨aue;lle, a local press, grassy with yellow notes and bite, which the tomatoes mellowed] and feathered oregano).

Braided egg bread

Experimental potatoes. We got more oyster mushrooms in the veggie box. I recalled the wonders of mushrooms in Ukraine and decided I could try to fake this some. Chopped about a cup, covered them with cream and put them to simmer; with a pat of butter. As they shrank, I added more mushrooms. The potoatoes were boiled, and then riced, when a 9x9x4 casserole was half-filled I started building a well. When the casserole was 3/4s filled I put the mushrooms in the well. I then covered it.

About 20 minutes before the lamb was done I put the casserole in the oven. When the lamb came out, I switched the oven to broil. When the top was browned (about 10 minutes, the rack was low, because the roasting pan for the meat was tall) I took it out.

It was good. Maia made strawberries and cream for dessert.



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