Archives For recipes

Late Saturday Lunch

victoria —  March 3, 2012 — 1 Comment

Due to March’s decision to take that whole “in like a lion” thing a little too literally, I found myself unexpectedly home today – a Saturday – having not driven to Chattanooga last night. Keifel’s work schedule and my sleepiness precluded a fancy pants breakfast so I decided a fancy pants lunch was in order. Have I mentioned that I consider crêpes a food group?

I spent part of the morning planning two upcoming cooking events (not catering = not getting paid) and came across this recipe in my perusing. I had almost everything on hand.

Buckwheat Galettes with Gruyère Cheddar, Onion and Bacon Filling

Makes 12 – requires some type of pan suitable for making crêpes (and requires scales – sorry)

  • 75g buckwheat flour
  • 75g all-purpose (or plain) flour
  • 2 medium, local eggs, lightly beaten
  • 250ml whole 2%, non-homogenized milk
  • 1 Tbsp veg oil (safflower is my go to)

Filling:

  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 200g American-style smoked bacon, local, cut into thin strips (crosswise)
  • few thyme sprigs or teaspoon dried
  • 2 garlic gloves, minced
  • 100g black wax, extra sharp Cheddar, grated
  • 100ml crème fraîche ricotta cheese

Mix the flours together, sprinkle in a little salt, mix 100ml water with the beaten egg and whisk mixture into the flour, add milk slowly until batter is smooth. Cover and chill 2 hours to let the flours hydrate. Not doing this will make you curse the pan, me, whoever first thought buckwheat was edible and probably your mother for you having been born. Recipe doesn’t call for it, but I think they would brown better with a teaspoon or two of sugar; mine were a little on the not-browned side.

An hour and a half later or so, make the filling, sauté the bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain on paper towel. Remove all but a tablespoon or two of bacon fat from the pan and add the onions. Sauté until lightly golden brown, add the garlic and thyme and sauté a few more minutes. Add back the bacon and set on the back burner, on low, until you’re done making the galette part of the recipe.

When your batter has hydrated for two hours, heat a crêpe or similar pan on medium heat. Dip a paper towel into the veg oil from the crêpe part of the equation and rub the inside of the pan with a very thin even layer or oil. Place 1/4 cup of batter and twirl around the pan until evenly distributed, it’s fine if some goes up the sides a little, in fact it’s good and will help you tell when your super skinny pancake is done. When the lacy bit at the edge pulls away from the side of the pan flip your crêpe over with a large palette knife, wooden crêpe spatula or whatever is handy (I use my fingers a lot for this) and let it cook on the other side for about a minute. Place on plate in very low oven to keep warm until you’ve finished the others. Do not be discouraged if the first one is a disaster. It is traditionally referred to as the dog’s pancake and is not a moral failing on your part. Finish your crêpes, oiling the pan as needed. You’ll get between 12 and 10 depending on the severity of the dog pancake. Stir the grated Cheddar and ricotta into the onion mixture on the back burner and heat through. Fill crêpes by putting a large tablespoon of filling on one quadrant and folding over the crêpe in quarters. Two per person is pretty filling especially with a little astringently dressed spring mix on the side for the green stuff. Recipe in the mag recommends serving with hard cider as this is practically the national dish of Brittany. Drink it if you got it.

 

 

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Pumpkins not included

In culinary school one of the things I loved best and hated most was mystery basket days. They weren’t attached to winning a million or your own restaurant or your face next to Guy Fieri (shudder) on the Food Network or even not looking like an idiot on the Food Network; they were attached to grades. For this type-A, it was a struggle between this has to be perfect and oooh fun. Stress can kick creativity in high gear and occasionally my team and I would get the blue ribbon for the day.

Fast forward five years.

I am not currently cooking professionally. I work a workaday week and have to get dinner on the table. Life is currently filled with obligations, desires and some tragedy. What’s a girl to do with a fridge full of farmer’s market whim, some staples and some things that just need to get used? What is said girl suppose to do if she is also slightly comatose from too many sleepless nights and extra braining at work?

Enter Whole Foods’ Recipe app for iPhone On Hand feature. If you ever played with Google Cooking you’ve got the basic idea. In the app you choose three ingredients you have in the pantry or fridge and touch search. The magical Internet elves sift their recipe cards and give you a list of what you could make with those three items. Obviously, the app is more limited than Google Cooking and you can’t add things like birds’ nests and unicorn horn to your larder list but it does offer some tastier options, many with healthy eating considerations.

My adventure tonight yielded white beans and sausage over polenta with kale. I didn’t have beans but I did have a red pepper. It also didn’t say add a splash of cream and the grated end of some cheese to the polenta, but, hey, I needed to use them up. Recipes are a map and I encourage detours. As always, your mileage may vary, but I like the app and the type-A in me is still challenged enough with the tweaking and tasting even if it is cheating.

No shrink ray needed

victoria —  October 20, 2011 — 2 Comments

20111020-194014.jpg
Dinner for hungry teenagers

Thrown together pot pie filling: poached chicken, frozen veg mix, sautéed onion, pan gravy, and thyme. Oil-based pie crust from late 1940s edition of Good Housekeeping cookbook. Muffin tin. 375 oven. 60 minutes-ish. Ta da.

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Still summer. Still hotter than h-e-double hockey sticks. And I now have even greater reason to avoid turning on the oven; the element burnt out in a spectacular pyrotechnic display while making biscuits by request of the newly-returned from Trinidad boychick. In case you were curious, you can finish half baked biscuits on broil with fair results.

All that aside. We’re here for the sloppy joes. I honestly can’t tell you the last time I had them but I think it might have involved pigtails and Mom pouring the sauce out of a can of Manwich. They were definitely something I associated with late night dinners of my youth.

Jules, said boychick, and I were a the farmers’ market on Saturday and he was carrying around a bag of hamburger type buns we purchased from the Provence stand. The woman we bought our peaches from asked if we’d slap a burger or sloppy joe on one of those for her. The idea was planted.

On returning home later than expected this evening, I had planned to make dal and rice. A very hungry Jules suggested sloppy joes instead. Not having made the messy sandwiches in question in eons, if ever, I consulted that tome of American recipes: The Joy of Cooking. Not having several things the recipe called for, I winged it.

Sunday Night Sloppy Joes (mostly local)

Chop one onion and 4 to 5 cloves of garlic finely. Heat about a tablespoon of safflower or similar high-heat oil in a saute pan. Stir that around a bit while cutting up 3 or four small sweet peppers nearly lost to the back of fridge demon or one regular-sized red or yellow sweet bell pepper. Add the pepper to the pot. Add two teaspoons celery seed unless, unlike me, you have celery, then chop up one stalk finely and add that to the pan. Saute until everything is softened but not browned. Add one pound (local!) ground beef, a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses (or 2 tablespoons brown sugar and the juice of half a lime), a tablespoon or two of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste, half a teaspoon red pepper flake and a tablespoon paprika. While that is browning, stir it some to break up the meat and rummage through the fridge for some pickled peppers you made a week or so ago, if you find them, chop them up and toss them in the pan with some of the vinegar in the jar (Tablespoon or so). If you don’t find them, add a tablespoon or two of pickle relish or chopped-up pickles of some persuasion with a little of the vinegar in the jar. When the meat has browned and is pretty much done, pour in a quarter to half a large can of Muir Glen crushed, fire-roasted tomatoes, depending on how sloppy you like your sloppy joes. Serve immediately on sturdy hamburger buns.

BONUS recipe!

Oil Biscuits (damn near instant bread for dinner which can be half baked and finished on broil if necessary)

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (can sub up to 1 cup with whole wheat for still pretty fluffy biscuits)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup safflower oil (or similar light tasting, high heat oil)

3/4 cup butter milk

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. In a 1 cup measure, pour in 1/4 cup oil, top with 3/4 cup buttermilk. Don’t stir. Pour into well in dry ingredients. Using a fork faff (technical term…) the flour mixture and liquid together just until it clumps up and most of the flour is moistened. Dump on clean counter or similar, gently knead and turn three times, then stop. No, really. Stop. Gently form into roughly 8″ square about an inch high. Using a  knife or bench scraper, cut into nine equal-ish squares. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until tops are lightly browned (about 12 minutes). Serve immediately.

(For variety, grate 2 ounces sharp cheddar and toss in flour mixture or add chopped fresh herbs to the flour mixture. For impromptu short cakes you can add 1/4 cup sugar to the dry mixture and 1 egg to the wet.)

 

It’s hot. It’s really hot. According to the weather channel app it’s hotter here than it is in Trinidad. And, technically, at least til midnight, it’s still May. This fills me with fear and loathing. Yours truly is not a hothouse flower. I think I’m more squarely in the slow-growing tundra wildflower category. I prefer the temp 40-70F, with a breeze.

I love the produce summer brings and the long days, but then it’s too hot to cook so I go into salad and doing as little as possible to the food aside from running a knife through it. Tonight was a compromise of sorts. A lovely carrot salad and some honey-glazed chicken because you shouldn’t eat it raw.

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The chicken is an old standby. Melt together 1/4 cup honey, some grated ginger and garlic to taste, couple tablespoons soy sauce and the juice of a lemon and douse some chicken thighs (about 4) with the resulting elixir. 375F for 40 minutes, basting twice. Even folks who don’t like dark meat chicken will eye for seconds.

The salad was a riff on a Jamie Oliver recipe from Jamie at Home. Four good-sized carrots peeled and then shaved to shreds with the peeler mixed with a big handful of cilantro leaves, a shredded green onion and some very thinly sliced Hungarian wax pepper (or any mild pepper) tossed together with a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, ground cumin, black sesame seeds and finely grated (on a microplane) ginger equals some seriously tasty salad with enough left for a straight from the fridge breakfast.

Despite my trying to keep the hot cooking to a minimum, my oven is currently cranked up. Julian requested some teacher bribery for the end of the year in the form of brownies. So much for a cool kitchen/house.

(As a “by the way,” this is my first attempt at blogging from the phone so forgive any weird spellings, syntax or spacing til I check it on the big screen. Thanks.)

So working three jobs and trying, sometimes failing, to meet previously agreed upon social and volunteer obligations makes one’s family adjust to leftovers that go on and on, sometimes for a full week. I think Keifel may never eat white chili again. But, bless them, my husband and boychild have been troopers and as they are both pretty handy in the kitchen themselves, we haven’t survived on toast and Cheerios or warmed-over Chinese takeout. Well, not for weeks at a time at least.

Today, Keifel and I managed to team up for a slam dunk of a dinner. Now I don’t know that any Trini worth their salt would proclaim the delicious leftovers in our fridge authentic in any way other than a Trini was involved in the making. But, damn, if Keifel and I didn’t make some good chow.

The shopping was done almost two weeks ago, as canned and frozen bits stay that way. I made an auxiliary trip earlier in the week to get the things that don’t cotton to canning and freezing so much. Over the course of the last three days, Keifel saw to it that the chicken thighs went from freezer to fridge to thaw and then seasoned them in his special kitchen cabinet/fridge door kind of way. I’ll leave that to your imagination or to a comment in Keifel’s own realm to get to the bottom of that.

This morning, while driving back from collecting Julian from his Spring Break adventures, Keifel called to see if I would put together the green seasoning to speed along his cooking this afternoon. I pulled out the NAPS girls’ cookbook, one of the bibles of Trini cooking for the uninitiated, and turned to page 255 and the recipe for green seasoning. Now understand that this is an exercise fraught with pitfalls. A large one being that we have seen chadon beni all of one time in Nashville. A wilted pile of it was given to me by one of the produce guys at Whole Foods. Apparently, I can order it but who has time to remember to do that. Again, for those not familiar with this particular Caribbean/Latin American staple herb, it’s also called culantro or shadow beni. It looks kind of like arugula but not so curvy and tastes like cilantro on steroids. Okay, so that is issue one. Dealt with by purchasing a huge hunk of cilantro and using the tender leaves and the fragrant stems. Issue two is less easily surmounted.

Some time ago this bottle arrived at our house in the arms of a friend of Keifel’s. It was a repurposed plastic bottle (formerly home to fruit juice, perhaps) lovingly filled with what looked like blended grass clippings and smelled of cilantro, garlic and vinegar but was in fact her mother’s Green Seasoning. It lasted some time, as vinegar-preserved items will and Keifel was exuberant every time he opened it to liberally bathe some chicken thighs or pork chops. I remember that look on his face and I remember the smell. I am a good cook, but I am not awash in the teachings bestowed range-side in a Port-of-Spain kitchen. This makes me a little nervous.

I use the NAPS girls instructions as a jumping off point. The herbs in my possession are a little less than perfect with the passage of time in the crisper drawer but they are fine. The grocery did not have fresh thyme and the herb garden here is still in the planning stages. Before me on the counter I have a huge bunch of parsley, an equally large chunk of a row of cilantro, a clam-shell box of chives (the worst for the wear of the lot), a head of garlic, three limes, a bottle of vinegar and some dried (I know, cooks of a Trini persuasion–or any, persuasion for that matter– look away now) thyme. I get out the mezzaluna and its board and start murdering the herbs. All of the them and the diced up garlic, too, go for a spin in the food processor with some white wine vinegar, the juice of two of the limes and a little bit of water. The kitchen smells suspiciously of that fruit juice bottle. I carefully scrape as much as humanly possible into a mason jar, secure a lid tightly and place it in the fridge. It looks like a jar of very fresh grass clippings or a wheat grass smoothie, heavy on the wheat grass.

Keifel returns and pronounces it a triumph. He suggests that it hasn’t had time to mellow so it isn’t as good as N’s mom’s. I know he is lying but I appreciate the fib. He adds that to the marinating chicken, burns some sugar in oil and browns the chicken, adding canned black-eyed peas (’cause you can’t get canned pigeon peas at Whole Foods) and lets that stew. We discovered early on that cooking the rice and peas together made for mushy peas (and not in that cute English way) and hard bullets of rice. Rice was made separately with some coconut milk and a little ginger. Together they were amazing. And I get to eat it for lunch tomorrow, too.

To make a little Halloween Magic

victoria —  October 29, 2008 — 1 Comment

sexy halloween cookies

I love Halloween will all the glee and exuberance of a young, sugared-up child. It is both a time to be goofy and slip into some other persona. One that is perhaps sexier than you (why so many naughty nurses?), uglier than you, bolder than you or just ballsy-er than you. On Halloween, for a few hours, you can be anything. Halloween’s roots go so much deeper though. Ancient cultures believed that the veil between the worlds of the living and dead was most easily pierced on this night. Some believed we needed to protect ourselves from the viscous and evil and came up with all sorts of ways to disguise themselves and protect their livelihoods. Others believed it was a time to celebrate those loved ones who had crossed over into the world of the dead. They decorated the graves, had parades and made foods the dead would appreciate from their time here and special ones just for this day. I choose the latter as my own ancestry for why this holiday is as meaningful as it is fun.

On the meaningful side I will create an ancestor alter to those beloved travellers in the next world and set out offerings for hungry ghosts who may not have anyone to celebrate their lives. On the fun side, I will dress up (someone much ballsy-ier than me, I think) and pass out candy to those children whose parents haven’t been brainwashed into avoiding the trick-or-treating. I also made cookies. Small offerings to those I am lucky to know.

If you would like to make your own glitteringly spooky creations, here’s what I did.

Shortbread Sugar Cookie Dough:

The best thing about this dough is it doesn’t rise very much at all, so you get a pretty flat surface to work with on the decorating end.

5 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups fine granulated sugar (I use fine evaporated cane juice)
1 pound (four sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature and soft
a pinch of salt
flavoring of your choice (optional), 1 teaspoon vanilla, zest of 1 lemon (orange or lime works, too), or a mix of spices (cardamom is nice for a mystery note)

Sift flour and sugar together into a large bowl. Work in the butter. I found that kneading it in by hand is really the only effective way to get the job done (take off your rings, though, sugar cookie dough in stone settings is hard to get out). Continue to knead until the dough cracks. This seems weird, to knead cookie dough, but skipping this step will make your cookie too tender to hold up to decorating and transporting. Roll anywhere between 1/3 to 1/2.” Bake on parchment lined cookie sheets at 325° until golden brown around the edges. Undercooking them makes them crumbly and not good for transporting. Decorate with royal icing (the Joy of Cooking one with powdered egg whites is great).

Depending on the size of your cutters this will make anywhere from 3 dozen to 100 cookies.

First gather all your cutters:
cookie cutters

Then all the crazily colored pastes and sugars:
paste & sugars

Roll out the dough and place on trays to bake:
rolled dough

On the trays

Let them cool their heels as you can’t slap icing on hot cookies:
cooling cookies

Decorate at will:
yay cookies!

January Goings On

victoria —  January 20, 2008 — 3 Comments

January has already been a busy month. My cooking classes started in Murfreesboro. We are doing a culinary tour of Europe and it has been a blast to prepare menus and hang out with the new crop of home cooks looking for some entertainment and new ideas. We started in Sweden, land of my foremothers, with a perfect cold weather menu. We were in Denmark last week with a revised vision of my International Class final project menu. I am doing all the cooking in about 2 and a half hours, so I couldn’t be quite as ambitious.

I also helped host a couples baby shower for CSG and the Carpenter. Their bouncing baby boy is due on Valentine’s day and Ms. Te, CSG’s sister, another friend of CSG’s and his wife and I wanted to do something for them before CSG got too close to her due date. We had planned an English tea for a Sunday afternoon. The party was in Columbia (45 minutes to an hour out of Nashville) at the friend and wife’s lovely 110-year-old home that they have completely renovated and decorated. Ms. Te and CSG’s sister helped get all the food set up. Ms. Te frosted and decorated the cake and CSG’s sis put the fruit tray together and made duck punch (rubber duckies afloat on Sprite and blue raspberry punch). I have to admit that I am more than dubious of blue food, but it did look cute and aside from that vaguely chemical taste of fake raspberry flavor, it would be a slightly sweet fun punch for kids’ parties too. I think it might be nicer with the blue Jones Soda or something not so sickly sweet as the Blue Hawaiian-style fruit punch.

Baby Shower spread
Who really needs an excuse for currant scones and clotted cream?

My classes at the community college have started as well. That’s been a challenge. Both my classes are online, distance learning courses. One of them I taught as a ground class last semester and the other is a new course for me. The material is fairly straight forward but there have been issues with content management and deployment. That is perhaps the most optimistic way to phrase it. Things seem to being ironing themselves out for the most part and I seem to be fielding fewer phone calls and emails from students who are having trouble actually getting to the content itself. That is a happy thing.

Last Thursday I also had the opportunity to see Peter Reinhart speak and make bread at the Viking Store in Franklin. It was very inspiring in many ways. I am determined now to try to make vollkornbrot, 100% whole grain rye bread. I love those dark, dense middle and eastern European breads. We had the opportunity to head home with a whole wheat and a rye starter but I think the cold in the house has kept them from doing what they are supposed to do. I’m going to give them a stir today and try to feed them tomorrow. Reinhart was mostly as I imagined. I bought his Sacramental Magic in a Small Town Cafe book back in college and was greatly inspired by the work Reinhart and his wife Susan were doing. Along with Edward Espe Brown’s Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings, I was inspired to cook for others. I’ve always liked cooking, the space it offers for meditation. It really is difficult to be distracted with minutiae when you have a knife in your hand dicing peppers for hours at a time or even the seemingly tedious act of babysitting something that needs to be stirred continually until finished. I, not so secretly, love those things and do my best deep thinking doing prep work and handwashing dishes. Both books are infinitely worth the price of admission if you are at all interested in the deeper meaning of work in the culinary industry. They are both, in essence, about really feeding people in a way that soothes physical as well as spiritual hunger. As one is Eastern Orthodox and one is Buddhist, I don’t think you need to subscribe to a particular theology (or theology at all necessarily) to gain from their philosophies.

In that vein, I am cooking dinner for 6 people who bought a North African feast dinner I donated to the silent auction at our UU church. I haven’t met any of them yet, so it should be an interesting evening and, I am hopeful, an opportunity to make some new friends. My mom will also be here this week so I may get thrown out of my own kitchen (happily) a little bit. I am hoping to entice her to make chicken and dumplings before she goes. I have tried and tried to make them like she does and they just aren’t as good. But, I suppose that is the order of things.

If you are interested in having your very own Swedish night at home, here is our menu and recipes from class. The Danish class was very similar to the one I posted during culinary school. Just do a search in the handy box above for Denmark.

A Swedish Menu

Pickled Cucumbers
Jansons Temptation
ppel Flsk
Kttbullar

Cardamom Coffee Cake

Pickled Cucumbers

cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons minced dill or parsley
2 medium cucumbers (or one English cucumber)

Combine all the ingredients, except the cucumbers. Wash and dry the cucumbers but do not peel them (its therefore important to try to buy unwaxed cucumbers, if possible. The English ones in plastic wrap are nice for this). Slice the cucumbers as thinly as possible they should almost be transparent. A mandolin or other type of slicer can be helpful for this step. Place the very skinny cuke slices in a non-reactive dish, glass is best, and pour the dressing over and refrigerate for at least three hours before serving. It is traditional to serve the pickles in the dressing but they are a little more refined drained. Also, a safety note: these are not preserved and will only keep a few days in the fridge, but as a new batch is easily made and there are rarely leftovers, that shouldnt be a problem.

Jansons Temptation
Serves 4-6

This is not an everyday dish, but something for the smrgsbord or a holiday meal.

6 medium baking potatoes
10 anchovies in brine
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2-4 tablespoons butter
generous 1 cup of heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 325F and lightly butter a 8 x 8 baking dish, preferably something attractive enough to go to the table. Peel the potatoes and cut into thin strips, similar as to how you would cut them up for fries. Soak the potato strips in cold water for about 30 minutes to help remove some of the starch. This will make the potatoes crispier. Meanwhile, cut the anchovies in half and reserve the brine. Fry the onions gently in half the butter until golden brown.

Drain the potatoes and dry with paper towels or a clean dish towel. Layer the potatoes with the anchovies and onions, beginning and ending with the potatoes. Pour over half the cream over and dot with the remaining butter. Drizzle over about 4 tablespoons of the anchovy brine. Bake for 25 minutes. Pour over the remaining cream and the remaining anchovy brine up to a tablespoon, then bake for another 20 minutes. This is traditionally served with ice cold beer to cut some of the richness.

ppel Flsk
Smoked bacon with onions and apple rings
Serves 4

2 to 4 tablespoons butter
1 pound Canadian bacon
2 large red, tart cooking apples, unpeeled, cored and cut into rings
2 large onions, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a heavy, preferably cast-iron, 10 or 12 skillet, melt a tablespoon of butter and fry the bacon until lightly browned. Remove from the skillet and set aside on paper towels to drain. Saut the onions in the butter remaining in the pan until soft and translucent. Add the apple rings to the pan and cover. Simmer over a low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, shaking the pan at intervals to prevent the apples from sticking.

When the apple rings are sufficiently cooked (they should offer little to no resistance when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife), return the drained bacon to the skillet. Cover the pan and simmer an additional three to five minutes to warm the bacon through. Grind pepper liberally over the contents of the pan and serve immediately. Traditionally this dish is served right from the pan, so a cast iron pan is especially nice. This is a great lunch dish or an easy weeknight supper with a crisp green salad.

Kttbullar
Swedish Meatballs
Serves 4-6

There are as many recipes for meatballs as there are cooks so feel free to improvise as you feel. Make them small for a starter or buffet and larger if for an entre.

2 tablespoons butter
cup onion, finely chopped
to 2/3 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1/3 cup light cream or half and half
pound ground beef (round steak is a good choice)
pound veal
pound ground lean pork
2 teaspoons salt
teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/3 cup butter
cup boiling water

Heat the 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan large enough to later cook the meatballs in (its nicer not to half to wash all the pans). When the butter has melted and the foam has subsided, add the onion and saut until soft and golden. Meanwhile, soak the breadcrumbs in the cream. Combine the onion, breadcrumbs and cream, meats, salt, pepper and cloves and blend thoroughly but with a light hand. Overworking the meat mixture will result in tough meatballs with an unpleasant chew to them. Shape the mixture into small, evenly-sized meatballs, wetting your hands as necessary to prevent the meat mixture from sticking (ladies and gents, I also recommend taking off your rings for this as well). Heat the remaining butter and again wait for the foam to subside. Add the meatballs and saut until browned on all sides, shaking the pan to turn the meatballs and keep them from sticking. When they are well browned, add the boiling water and simmer over the lowest possible heat for five minutes. This helps to insure that the meatballs cook all the way through. If serving as an entre, make a cream gravy in which to serve the meatballs, otherwise set them out with toothpicks for a buffet.

Swedish Cardamom Coffee Cake

1 cups milk
1 package (scant tablespoon) dry yeast
cup lukewarm water
cup sugar
6 cups sifted flour
cup room temperature butter
teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
2 to 3 teaspoons ground cardamom

For the topping:
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
cup chopped nuts
Milk

Put the milk in a small saucepan and heat it just until small bubbles appear around the edge of the pan (this is called scalding the milk). Remove from the heat and allow to cool to lukewarm. Dissolve the yeast in cup of lukewarm water and allow to proof for five minutes or until bubbly. Add the cooled milk with 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Beat in 3 cups of the flour. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until double in bulk or about 1 to 1 hours. After the rise, add the butter, remaining sugar, salt, egg yolks, cardamom and 3 cups of flour. Reserve the cup of flour for kneading the dough.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead with floured hands until smooth and elastic. Place in a buttered bowl and turn to butter all sides of the dough. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, again about an hour to an hour and a half. Divide the dough in half to make two cakes. Divide each half into 3 equal portions and roll each of those portions into 16 long snakes. Pinch the three strips together and braid then pinch the braided end together. Place cakes on an ungreased baking sheet. Let the cakes rise until doubled in bulk or about 45 minutes. Set the oven to 375F about 20 minutes before the braids finish their rise and make the topping. Combine the cinnamon, sugar and chopped nuts and set aside. Brush the braids with milk, gently, and sprinkle over the topping. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely and serve with milky coffee.

Nigella Express

victoria —  October 8, 2007 — Leave a comment

My bad habits aside, I did watch the premiere episode of Nigella’s new show. I wasn’t disappointed but I wasn’t overwhelmed either.

Continue Reading...

Okay. That was twee even by my skewed standards, but alas I cannot resist the kitsch.

I have finally seen the other side of whatever germs Keifel brought home last week and am back on schedule. Tomorrow in my class, where I am actually teaching cooking not just restaurant management, we are covering spices and making chili, my dad’s chili to be exact, and some pumpkin curry. The chili doesn’t actually have that many spices in, it being kind of purist, comparatively.

The pumpkin curry had a dry run and I have a few words of advice to go along. Use only starchy not waxy spuds. They need to soften into the curry to be good. Also get a pie pumpkin of some size because once you get the stem and the seeds and the peel off… there isn’t much left if it’s a teeny one and they can be stringy if they are too small. Trust me on this one.

Pumpkin Curry

1 pound pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes (halve, scoop and nuke 2-3 minutes to soften to peel)
1/8 cup tightly packed dried tamarind pods
1 cup very hot water
3 tablespoons oil
teaspoon cumin seeds
teaspoon mustard seeds
teaspoon fenugreek seeds
teaspoon nigella or onion seeds
teaspoon aniseed
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 teaspoon chili powder
teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste

Wash the pumpkin cubes and drain well. Soak the tamarind pods in the hot water for 10-15 minutes. Remove the pods, reserving the liquid, and extract the pulp by mashing in a bowl with the back of a spoon. Strain to remove seeds and string.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek, nigella seeds, and aniseed and saut for 30 seconds. Add the potato chunks and saut for 2-3 minutes. Add the pumpkin cubes, stir well and saut for 4-5 minutes.

Stir in the chili powder, turmeric, coriander, sugar and salt to taste, and continue cooking for 5-6 minutes. Add the tamarind pulp and some of the reserved liquid, to taste, then cover and cook until the potatoes are tender.

Note: If dried tamarind pods or pulp are not available, substitute 1 tablespoon molasses and 3 tablespoons lime juice mixed together.