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EDIT NOTE: If you got an earlier copy of this recipe, I originally forgot to include the 1 cup of light brown sugar. Sorry for any cookie disasters. –V

In looking through the mountain o’ cards, clippings and books, I happily re-stumbled across this gem. It has a bit of an emotional attachment for me because it was one of the things I made while we were home with my dad in hospice. I cooked and baked a lot those brief days. We had a house full of people, his sisters and their husbands and my siblings and their spouses and children. I made cookies and cinnamon buns and soup, a lot of soup as I recall. These cookies take a significant chunk of time because they are rolled out and the recipe makes 4-6 dozen depending on the size star cutter you use so I made small ones and spent 2 good hours in the kitchen, trying to think about something besides the inevitable.

I like them as a tiny elegant cookie or as a half-palm sized treat. They make a good finish with mint tea for a Moroccan or North African meal. The recipe comes from Mollie Katzen’s wonderful book Vegetable Heaven with a few tweaks by me.

Sesame Stars

A few sesame seeds for rolling, plus
some for the tops
1 cup of butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces), softened
1 cup tahini (ground sesame butter)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (the salt is critical for taste)
Demerara or Sugar in the Raw sugar for the tops

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Cream together the butter, tahini and the sugars in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each in before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and sift it on top of the butter/tahini mixture. Stir until combined. The dough should be pliable but stiff enough to roll. If the butter has gotten too soft you can pop it in the chiller for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle a very lightly floured board with a handful of sesame seeds and roll the dough out to 1/4″ thick. Cut with 2 1/2″ or 1″ cookie cutters. You can dmake both sizes, but put only one size on a cookie sheet to encourage even browning.

Sprinkle the cookies with sesame seeds and the Demerara sugar. Bake 12-15 minutes, less (8-10 mins.) for the 1″ cookies, or until lightly browned at the edges. Cool on racks.

These cookies store beautifully for up to a week. The dough also freezers well and can be made into 1 1/2″ in diameter logs of dough and then sliced, while still nearly frozen, into coins. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and sugar and bake just as for the stars.

Let’s just say that my husband likes pork, a lot. To appease his primal need for flaming hunks of meat, I put a pork roast in the oven last night and made a big salad to offset the damage. I briefly considered a starch but I was lazy and it was getting late. And honestly the pork wasn’t flaming, which is a good thing when it’s inside your oven.

For the pork I whipped into the corner grocery (a Harris Teeter) and picked up a pork loin roast (closer to the blade end but still with a bit of the tenderloin). I didn’t have time to brine it, though that would have been sublime. Instead I rubbed it down with a coffee-ancho chile rub and really watched the cooking time. For the accompanying salad I whipped up my fall pomegranate salad. Recipes follow. Enjoy.

Coffee-Ancho Rub

1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1 tablespoon espresso powder or instant espresso chrystals
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried orange peel
1 tablespoon ground ancho chile
2 tablespoons muscavado sugar (or dark brown sugar)

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. You will have enough for about three roasts. Dry the meat with paper towels and rub the mixture in. Pork is best when cooked to 135°F or 140°F, as it’s resting the cooking will continue and it should reach 145°F, which is safe to eat and still juicy.

Vic’s Pomegranate and Avocado Salad

This is loosely based on a salad from Bon Appetit that ran in the December 05 issue.

1 medium-sized head of romaine lettuce, washed, spun and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 avocado, peeled and sliced into 1/3″ slices lengthwise
seeds of one small pomegranate
sections from one orange
3 tablespoons picked cilantro leaves
For the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of one lime
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
1 small shallot minced very fine
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and toss some of it with the romaine. Arrange the dressed lettuce on a platter and arrange the avocado slices and orange sections over the lettuce. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and cilantro leaves. Pass the remaining dressing at the table.

There is magic in soup, not just the mildly antibiotic after effects of warm chicken noodle, but also in the making and serving. All that chopping and stirring is meditative and grounding, at least for me. Plus in making soup the cook is building on flavors, the sweetness of onions, the sharpness of garlic, the earthiness of celery and carrot, the savory stock, the herbs and fillips of garnishes.

In serving, you are presented with a steaming bowl of nourishment. Even soup from a can feels homey in a bowl. Comfort food cries out to be served in a bowl with a spoon, preferably a big one that makes you feel like a kid. And soup is communal and cohesive. It’s the ultimate one-pot, one-dish meal. A salad on the side is nice, but usually there are vegetables to be had in the main attraction and all it really needs is a crusty piece of bread to accompany. You can serve one or a 1000 fairly easily with soup. The soup below will serve 6 as a main dish.

Victoria’s Asian-inspired Chicken Noodle

1” piece fresh ginger, minced fine
1 clove garlic, minced fine
8 cups chicken stock
2 cooked chicken breasts, cut into ½” cubes
1 bunch noodles (somen, Chinese-style, udon) about 1/4#, cooked and rinsed in cool water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup scallions, sliced thinly at an angle, white and green part
Soy or tamari and pepper to taste
Chili sauce and/or toasted sesame oil to garnish

Heat a soup pan over medium high heat and add just enough oil to barely coat the bottom, sauté the garlic and ginger just until soft but don’t let it brown. Once it is softened, add the stock.

Bring the stock to a slow boil and stir into a swirl, slowly drizzle in the egg, continuing to stir the soup in a swirl. It should cook instantly into ragged shards, just as in egg drop soup. If it doesn’t the stock isn’t hot enough. Continue to drizzle in the rest of the egg.

Lower the heat and do not allow to boil again. Add the chicken and heat through then the cooked noodles and heat through. (If you know you are going to have leftover soup, don’t add the noodles to the soup, put them in the individual bowls and ladle soup over each serving.) Add the scallions and season to taste. Serve garnished with chili sauce to stir in for added heat or float a few drops of toasted sesame oil on the surface for an added punch.

Pie Crust to Beat the Band

victoria —  September 22, 2006 — 2 Comments

Over the last three weeks I have made approximately 7 batches of pie crust for various and sundry things. I have tweaked and prodded and cursed and bitched and celebrated. And, I have done the victory lap, because, Gentle Readers, I have struck culinary gold.

Pie crust is that culinary holy grail, the bane of the existences of many, the thing that sends more accomplished cooks running to the frozen food isle than any other kitchen task. It is a pain in the ass to deal with, most of the time. But good pie crust/pastry is sublime. It’s melt in the mouth tender and shatteringly flaky. It doesn’t sog under the stress of juicy late summer fruits or gravied pot pie filling. It makes tasty tarts as well as apple pie perfect tops.

After going through, I believe, three bags of King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose I have hit upon the following. This recipe makes a lot of dough, enough for three 9″ crusts or 4 stingy 8″ ones. It can be rolled immediately but turns into this sublimely easy to work with velvet after a day’s rest in the chiller. With that in mind, if you remember, it’s best to make it a day ahead. You can freeze the leftover in tightly wrapped disks, just thaw under refrigeration for a day before you need it.

Best of luck with your transformations of the autumn harvest into the truly divine.

Victoria’s No Fail Supreme Pie Dough of Insane Greatness (no need to be humble, right?)

This recipe has only been tested with the following ingredients and brand names. I am going to be specific because this is what has worked for me. Your mileage may vary depending on your available goods.

5 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose flour (measured by spooning in to the cup and leveling with a knife)
2 teaspoons fine grind sea salt
1 cup (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, cold (I’ve used several different butters from store brand to organic and European, it all seems to work)
1 cup (1/2 pound) Earth Balance non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, cold (There are other brands out there, just get the hard, stick kind not the whipped stuff in a tub)
1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice (good results with both)
1 egg, lightly beaten

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Cut the butter and shortening into pats and toss with the flour. Using a pastry blender (or two knives or ice cold fingers), cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles rolled oat meal with a few pea-sized lumps.

Crack the egg into a one-cup liquid measure and add the vinegar. Add enough water for the mixture to reach the one cup measure. Whisk together with a fork. Make a well in the flour/fat mixture and pour approximately 3/4 of the liquid in. With a fork, stir, but more accurately futz, the dry and liquid together just until it starts to clump. You are not going for smooth dough here, there should be some bits of flour in the bottom of the bowl that just don’t want to incorporate. Add enough of the remaining liquid and up to three tablespoons of additional water if necessary to get the clumping to happen.

Divide into three or four disks and refrigerate until ready to use. Again, try to make it a day ahead as the flour will have time to completely hydrate and make dealing with the dough so much easier. If it is too hard to roll let it sit on the counter for about 5 minutes to allow it to soften up enough to roll without cracking. Another rolling hint is to roll the rounds between two sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper, less cleanup and you don’t have to worry about it stubbornly sticking to the counter.

Sliding into fall

victoria —  August 19, 2006 — Leave a comment

Things have been moving at a fairly brisk pace these days. The Hemingway’s Key West party went off without a hitch though the turnout was a little low. The food however was fab but there is not a single picture. Keifel had to work late at Apple because of the tax holiday and J&J and I were busy hosting.

The menu consisted of smoked trout cakes* with red pepper jam, grilled coconut lime shrimp, coffee and brown sugar rubbed pork tenderloin with Hawaiian bread rolls and chipotle cilantro mayo, tropical fruit platter, veg platter, black-eyed pea dip, guacamole, old school daiquiris and coffee meringues and key lime pie. Keifel and I wound up eating fruit salad for three days and I had to come up with creative ways to use up the left over veg from the tray. I think in future we are going to have to fine tune the party invites for the book research to a core of people who come every time. Making a whole lot of food for people who may or may not come and don’t RSVP is costly.

In other news, I am still teaching classes at the Pannery, though things have been up and down with that. Thursday’s class was a bit of a bust. Can I just say I hate cooking fried chicken in front of people? It is a too slow process and because of the shitty range we have at work, I couldn’t keep the oil to temp. So despite the fact that overall the food was good, I had a complainer that resulted in four people getting their money back and one of them spending what seemed an eternity talking with the assistant manager about my shortcomings. Regardless of what did or didn’t happen, the customer is always right. I went through my staged reaction: disappointment, defensiveness, pissed-offness, and finally resignation. There isn’t a thing I can do about how she perceived the class or me. It’s just the first real complaints I’ve had, even if perhaps 60% of her complaints weren’t directly about me, I tend to take things to heart and very personally (often when it isn’t really warranted–though I think I have gotten better over time). Plus all this drama came on the heels of so many of my classes getting cancelled. I am at that point where I want to say whatever and go back to the latest edition of Olive.

School is also gearing up. I have my internship (that is happening at the Pannery), a computer class I am testing out of and one I have to take and I will graduate in December with an A.A.S. to go with my B.A. and M.A. My father always said you could never have too many letters after your name, just don’t put them all on your business card because that looks both silly and pretentious. I need to join the ACF so when I graduate I will be a Certified Culinarian, which means I can put a CC on my chef jacket after my name if I so choose. Go me.

If all goes well (meaning we get enough folks to register), I will be teaching the revamped community education class at NSCC this fall. It means a 7 Saturday commitment in the heart of soccer mom season but Keifel is going to pick up that slack and be the soccer dad, should the class actually make the cut. I won’t know until next week sometime though the first class is on Saturday the 26th. Eek.

*Smoked Trout Cakes
Makes approximate 30 bite-sized cakes

1# smoked trout
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 diced serrano or other red chili
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
juice of half a lemon
2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced very fine
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
salt and pepper to taste
panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) to coat
oil for frying

Break up the trout with the tines of a fork and add all of the remaining ingredients except the panko and oil. Form the mixture into small cakes (one to two bite-size) and roll them in the panko. Set them on a baking sheet or tray and refrigerate about 30 minutes to allow them to firm up. Heat about a 1/4″ of oil in a heavy sauté and fry the cakes until golden brown, turning once. Serve with red pepper jelly.

Week before last, Keifel asked me to make banana pudding for one of his co-worker’s birthday. I agreed, though I had never actually made banana pudding. It isn’t that it’s difficult or anything. It’s just that since raw sliced banana figures prominently, I can’t eat it. Raw bananas and I no longer get on together. When I was pregnant with Julian, I started having awful stomach cramps in the mornings, way beyond morning nausea. I thought it might be pregnancy-induced lactose intolerance and started pouring soy milk over my Grapenuts and bananas. Turns out it was the bananas and they have bothered my since. Julian won’t even touch one, so I blame him for ruining bananas for me. (Good-naturedly, mind you.)

Anyway, I bought a big bunch of bananas. Only used a couple for the pudding. Keifel will only eat an almost green banana and didn’t get through the rest of them before they got all spangled and spotty ripe. I tossed them in the freezer as is, meaning in the peel. They turn very dark brown but the peel is a perfect wrapper. When I am ready to make banana bread, which I am ever grateful that I can eat since the bananas are cooked (yay!), I just set two or three on the counter in a bowl, the bowl is important lest they ooze all over the counter, and let them thaw. Or if I’m in a hurry I poke some holes in them with the tip of a sharp knife and nuke them on defrost.

Over the years, I have made a great deal of banana bread. If you’re a long time reader you know that I have a bit of an obsession with tea breads in general and tend to do weird left-over quick bread frankencooking. I have stumbled upon what I think is the best banana bread recipe. I am very happy with it, happy enough that I have given up experimenting with it and make it as is.

Hope you enjoy:

Victoria’s Rum Raisin Banana Bread

1 1/4 cups currants
1/2 cup dark rum
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe large bananas, mashed (approx 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
1/4 cup plain Greek style yogurt
2 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled (6 oz.)
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract

Place the currants in a heat proof bowl. Heat up the rum in a small saucepan and just before it comes to the boil remove from heat and pour over the currants. Let this sit while you go about getting the other ingredients together.

Preheat the oven with a rack in the middle position to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9 X 5″ loaf pan. (Though I have baked it in any number of odd sizes, just adjust the baking time). Make sure to tap out all the excess flour so you don’t get a greasy flour lesion on the crust of your bread.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Combine the bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter and vanilla and stir together until there are no big streaks or chunks of the yogurt. Drain the currants and add them to this mixture and stir to combine.

Dump the wet ingredients over the dry and fold just until all the flour is moistened and looks mixed. Don’t over mix here or you’ll have a tougher bread. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top a little with a silicone spatula or spoon. Place in the middle of the oven and bake until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Depending on your oven, the material from which your bread pan is made, and what astrological house the moon is in, this may take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes. I usually check at 50 minutes and then every 7-10 minutes after until done.

Allow the bread to cool on a rack in the pan for 10 minutes before trying to turn it out. Trying to turn it out straight from the oven usually ends in tears for me, so I have learned to be patient with this one. Allow the bread to cool completely on wire racks and then slice and serve. But, in all honesty, I never allow it to cool completely before I lop off the end and slather it with some unsalted butter and moan over it.

If raisins or their baby cousins, currants, aren’t your thing, you can omit the rum and raisins and substitute 1 1/2 cups of chopped, toasted walnuts. The batter will be stiffer and it does seem to bake a little faster so keep an eye on it.

This is actually an indirect “Ask Foodieporn” as no one has said, “Hey V, you mention this fabulous recipe in your post about cooking ephemera and then nothing” so much as several people have come to the site looking for that recipe via Yahoo! or Google searches. In an effort to give where I was neglectful:

Carrot-Pineapple Cake from “Unusual and Old World Recipes” by Nordic Ware

3 cups sifted [unbleached]* all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar [or evaporated cane juice]
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple [in juice]
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups cooking [I used super canola] oil
2 teaspoons [Bourbon] vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts [pecans or walnuts]
2 cups raw carrots, grated and loosely packed [use large whole carrots, not “baby carrots” in a bag]

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Butter and lightly flour a traditionally shaped 12-cup Bundt® pan making certain to knock out all excess flour.

Sift together all dry ingredients. Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Add the reserved pineapple juice to dry ingredients, then eggs, oil, and vanilla; beat three minutes. Stir in pineapple, nuts, and carrots. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about one and half hours or until a wooden skewer tests clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes; turn out onto wire rack. After topping with glaze transfer to serving plate or cake stand.

The original recipe calls for lemon glaze but I prefer an orange glaze with the carrots and pineapple. ORANGE GLAZE: Combine 3/4 cup sifted confectioner’s (icing) sugar, 1/4 cup finely chopped nuts (same as used in cake) and one tablespoon of orange juice. While cake is still slightly warm drizzle over the glaze and allow to cool completely.

*I have tweaked the original recipe a bit and rewritten the directions, so I wanted to present the cake I made rather than the original without my notes. One of the main differences was that the original called for adding more grated carrot to the glaze instead of the nuts that I added. I just wasn’t keen on the idea of raw carrots on top of the cake and the pecans or walnuts look nicer and add a bit of crunch. Additionally, adding a teaspoon of cardamom to the batter with the cinnamon makes for a little mystery as most people can’t guess what it is but will love it.

Last Thursday my team and I produced our final project for Garde Manger. We had to do a theme buffet. Originally, my team thought we wanted to do a 1970s theme party with fondue and “basement party” food done well. After we all looked for recipes with no luck, we decided to go a different direction and do a Mediterranean brunch with a food tour of the Mediterranean rim, as it were.

Part of the project was to do decorations, put together ingredient lists and pull sheets (what a caterer would use to make sure all the equipment needed goes to an event site). We had some parameters we had to hit with our menu. Since garde manger covers certain production territory, we had to make a vegetable terrine, a sausage or a seafood/fish terrine, a paté, 2 hors d’oeuvres, 2 hot mains, a composed salad, a small roll or cracker, a carved fruit and cheese display and a non-alcoholic punch. Seems easy enough and the nice thing about a brunch menu is that you can play with any number of dishes that would be served as a breakfast item or a lunch or even a dinner item.

Several of the items got a dry run for the Oscar party so there is some overlap. You can give 6 cooks the same recipe and you’ll get seven different versions of the same dish and since we assigned different dishes to different groups, the things that you might have already seen a picture of don’t look exactly the same.

Our menu consisted of honeydew wrapped in proscuitto with mint and Prosecco, zucchini rolls with goat cheese, date nut muffins, roasted vegetable terrine, mixed grill-style broiled tomatoes, North African lamb sausage with herbed couscous, risotto frittata, Spanish and Italian cheese display with fresh and dried fruit, orange and red onion salad with olives, turkey/pork/pistachio/juniper berry paté wrapped in grape leaves with sweet & hot pepper jelly and a red onion and pear chutney, and an apricot fruit sparkler.

We were down three classmates, but thankfully my team mates and I had knocked out the terrine, the paté, the sausage and the jelly and chutney the day before. We had lots of down time before service and everyone seemed pretty relaxed. The week before had been a tensionfest and we had discussed not letting that happen on the day we went. I do think we managed to avoid it and I was thrilled at everyone’s work on the menu. The food looked great. The decorations were rather simple but not shoddy looking (though our table cloth really needed ironing). Over all I was pretty pleased with how everything turned out. The weird thing for me was how anti-climactic it was.

It was the last culinary anything of my two year odyssey because I only have computer courses and my internship over the summer. I guess I expected to feel done or feel something but it was just suddenly over and we were packing all the stuff into my car. I stopped for coffee on the way home and sat in the car sipping it thinking, “That’s it.” It makes me even more certain that a party of some sort needs to be had when the actual degree is being conferred. I need something that says this chapter is done and now you can get into the meat of what happens next. I need to actually find an internship before that conferring happens. That’s pretty important.

Again, if you’d like to tackle this menu on your own…

Fruit Sparkler Punch
Yield: 4-6 servings

2 cups chilled apricot nectar
2 cups chilled soda water
1 cup chilled apple juice
1 cup chilled orange juice

Combine just before serving. Serve over ice.

Melon with Prosciutto, Mint and Prosecco
Yield: 2 servings

1 medium honeydew melon
6-8 mint leaves
2 oz. lean prosciutto, sliced very thinly
Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
Splash prosecco

1. Peel and seed melon. Cut the flesh lengthwise into 3/4” thick slices.
2. Chiffonade the mint leaving a few whole leaves for garnish.
3. Wrap a piece of prosciutto around the middle of each melon wedge.
4. Arrange wedges on one large plate or two smaller serving plates. Garnish with mint and black pepper.
5. Drizzle the Prosecco over the melon, approximately 2 tablespoons.

Rolled Zucchini Ribbons with Basil, Chili Pepper and Goat Cheese
Yield: 20 rolls

4-5 small zucchini
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 thumb-sized red chili peppers, deseeded and thinly sliced
Small bunch fresh chives
4 oz. mild goat cheese
Handful fresh basil leaves
2 small handfuls baby arugula, long stems removed
Toothpicks to secure

1. Cut the zucchini into 20 ¼” thick slices lengthwise. Brush with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put under the broiler, cooking on both sides until caramelized. Do not over cook or they will be too soft to roll. Set aside to cool.
2. Heat remaining oil in a heavy sauté. Add the chili peppers and fry until crisp around the edges. Drain on paper towels.
3. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, drop in the chives and remove immediately with a slotted spoon. Shock in cold water and remove to paper towels to dry.
4. Spread each zucchini slice with about 1 teaspoon of goat cheese. Place a couple of basil leaves, 2-3 chili pepper slivers, and some arugula across one end so they protrude (all on the same side—this will stick up when the roll is finished and set on its side). Gently roll the slice up and secure with a toothpick. Tie a chive around the roll and trim the ends with scissors. Remove toothpicks and refrigerate until serving.

Roasted Vegetable Terrine with Vinaigrette
Serves 6

2 large red bell peppers, quartered, cored and seeded
2 large yellow peppers, quartered, cored and seeded
1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise
2 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise
6 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup raisins
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 2/3 cup tomato juice
2 Tablespoons powdered gelatin
fresh basil leaves, garnish

For the dressing:
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place prepared peppers skin side up under a hot broiler and cook until skins are blackened. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let cool.
2. Arrange the eggplant and zucchini slices on separate baking sheets. Brush them with olive oil and roast in a hot oven, turning if needed, until they are tender and golden.
3. Heat remaining olive oil in a frying pan, and add the sliced onions, raisins, tomato purée and red wine vinegar. Cook gently until the mixture is soft and syrupy. Set aside and let cool in the pan.
4. Line a 7 ½-cup terrine with plastic wrap, leaving a little hanging over the sides of the container.
5. Pour half the tomato juice into a saucepan, and sprinkle with the gelatin. Allow to bloom, then dissolve gently over low heat, stirring to prevent lumps.
6. Place a layer of red peppers in the bottom of the terrine, and pour in enough of the tomato juice with the gelatin to cover.
7. Continue layering the vegetables, pouring tomato juice over each layer. Finish with a layer of red peppers. Add the remaining tomato juice to the pan, and pour into the terrine. Give it a sharp tap, to disperse the juice. Cover and chill until set.
8. To make the dressing, whisk together oil and vinegar and season. Turn out the terrine and remove the plastic wrap. Serve in thick slices, drizzled with dressing and garnished with basil leaves.

Turkey, Juniper and Peppercorn Terrine
Serves 10-12

8 oz. chicken livers, trimmed
1 pound ground turkey
1 pound ground pork
8 oz. pancetta, diced small
½ cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground mace
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon drained green peppercorns in brine
1 teaspoon juniper berries
½ cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons gin
finely grated zest of one orange
8 large vacuum-packed grape leaves in brine
oil, for the terrine

1. Chop the chicken livers finely. Reserve about ¼ of the pancetta and pistachios. Put the chopped livers in a bowl and add the turkey, pork, pancetta, pistachios, salt, mace and garlic. Mix well.
2. Lightly crush the peppercorns and juniper berries and add them to the mixture. Stir in the white wine, gin and orange zest. Cover and chill overnight to let the flavors mingle.
3. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Rinse the grape leaves under cold running water. Drain them thoroughly. Lightly oil a 5-cup pâté terrine or loaf pan. Line the terrine or pan with the leaves, letting the ends hang over the sides. Pack half of the mixture into the terrine or pan, sprinkle over the reserved pancetta and pistachios, and pack in the remaining meat mixture. Fold the leaves over to enclose the filling. Brush lightly with oil.
4. Cover the terrine with its lid or with aluminum foil. Place it in a roasting pan and pour in the boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the terrine. Bake for 1 and 3/4 hours, checking the level of the water occasionally, so that the roasting pan does not dry out.
5. Let the terrine cool, then pour off the surface juices. Cover with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and place weights on top. Chill in the refrigerator overnight. Serve at room temperature with chutney and red pepper jelly.

Dried Cherry, Pearl Onion and Pear Chutney
Yield: approximately 3 Cups

½ # red pearl onions
2 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4” dice
Juice of one lemon
1 ¼ Cups dried cherries
¾ Cup red wine vinegar
½ Cup sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1. Boil onions for 2 minutes. Drain and cool. Carefully peel onions; trim root ends. Cut in half lengthwise. Set aside. In a large bowl, toss the pears with lemon juice.
2. Place cherries, pearl onions, half the pears, vinegar, sugar, salt, cloves and 2 cups of water in a low-sided, non-reactive saucepan. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, until the fruit is tender, about 45 minutes.
4. Raise heat to high; cook until the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining pears and reduce heat to low; cook just until the pears are heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
5. Set chutney in an ice water bath to cool quickly and refrigerate for up to one week.

Hot & Sweet Red Pepper Jam
Yield: approximately 2 Cups

1 Cup coarsely chopped, seeded and deribbed sweet red peppers
1/8 Cup coarsely chopped, seeded and deribbed fresh hot red peppers
¾ Cup cider vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
3 ¼ Cup sugar
1 pouch liquid pectin (3 oz.)
Tabasco to taste

1. Chop peppers to a very coarse purée in a food processor, using some of the vinegar as a liquid. Scrape into a non-reactive pan. Add remaining vinegar and salt.
2. Bring to a boil over medium heat; lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Measure the mixture and return 1 ½ Cups to the pan. If the mixture measures less than 1 ½ Cups add water to make up the difference. Stir in the sugar.
3. Bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down over high heat, stirring constantly, and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
4. Add pectin, mixing well. Taste jam mixture for hotness and add drops of hot pepper sauce, if desired. Skim off any foam. Cool, stirring occasionally to prevent pepper bits from floating to the top. Refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Orange and Red Onion Salad with Cumin
Yield: 6 servings

6 oranges
2 red onions
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint
6 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
fresh mint sprigs
niçoise olives

1. Peel and thinly slice oranges into rounds, catching any juice. Thinly slice the onions and separate into rings.
2. Arrange the orange and onion slices in layers in a shallow dish, sprinkling each layer with cumin seeds, black pepper, mint and olive oil. Salt to taste. Pour over the collected orange juice.
3. Let the salad marinate in a cool place for about 2 hours. Just before serving, sprinkle with mint sprigs and niçoise olives.

Risotto Frittata
Serves 4

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
¾ cup risotto rice
1 2/3- 2 cups simmering vegetable stock
2-3 Tablespoons butter
2 ½ cups button mushrooms, finely sliced
4 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6-8 eggs
salt and ground black pepper

1. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a large, non-stick frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic over low heat until the onion begins to soften but does not brown. Add the pepper and cook, stirring, until soft.
2. Stir in the rice and cook gently, stirring constantly, until the grains are evenly coated with oil.
3. Add a quarter of the vegetable stock and season with salt and pepper. Stir over low heat until the stock is absorbed. Continue adding more stock, a little at a time, letting the rice absorb the liquid before the next edition. Continue cooking the rice in this way until it is al dente.
4. In a separate small pan, heat a little of the remaining oil and some of the butter and quickly fry the mushrooms until golden. Transfer to a plate.
5. When the rice is tender, remove from the heat and stir in the cooked mushrooms and the Parmesan cheese.
6. Beat together the eggs with 8 teaspoons of cold water and season well. Heat the remaining oil and butter and add the risotto mixture. Spread the mixture out in the pan, then immediately add the beaten egg, tilting the pan so that the omelet cooks evenly. Fry over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes, finish under the broiler if necessary. Transfer to a warmed plate and serve immediately.

Mixed Grill-Style Broiled Tomatoes
Serves 4

1 cup fresh white bread crumbs
4 large, firm but ripe plum (Roma) tomatoes
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped chives
1 ½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the broiler.
2. On a baking sheet large enough to spread the bread crumbs out in a thin layer, toast them until they are a golden brown. Set aside.
3. Core the tomatoes and cut them in half through their stem ends. Using a fingertip or the handle of small spoon, remove their seeds and the pulp between the seed sacs.
4. Add the Parmesan cheese, butter, chives, parsley, tarragon and egg to the tasted crumbs and stir to mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix well again.
5. Spoon the bread crumbs mixture into the tomato halves, dividing it evenly and mounding it slightly. Lightly grease a baking dish large enough to hold the tomatoes in a single layer and place the stuffed tomato halves in it, stuffing side up. Slip the dish under the broiler 8-10” from the heat source and broil until the tomatoes are hot and the stuffing is nicely browned, 5-7 minutes. Remove from the broiler and serve hot.

North African Lamb Sausage
Yield: approximately 5 pounds of sausage

4 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, diced
1 pound pork back fat, diced
1 ½ oz. kosher salt (3 Tablespoons)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 ½ cups roasted red peppers
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons Spanish paprika
2 Tablespoons minced fresh oregano
¼ cup dry red wine, chilled
¼ cup ice water
20 feet sheep casings, soaked in tepid water for at least 30 minutes and rinsed

1. Combine all the ingredients except the wine and water and toss to distribute the seasonings. Chill until ready to grind.
2. Grind the mixture through the small die into a bowl set in ice.
3. Add the wine and water to the meat mixture and mix with the paddle attachment (or a sturdy spoon) until the liquids are incorporated and the mixture has developed uniform sticky appearance, about 1 minute on medium speed.
4. Cook a small portion of the sausage, taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.
5. Stuff the sausage into the sheep casings and twist into 10” links. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to cook.
6. Gently sauté or roast the sausage to an internal temperature of 150°F. Serve with sautéed peppers and steamed couscous.

Date Nut Muffins
Yield: 12 muffins

8 fl. oz. water
6 oz. chopped pitted dates
4 oz. sugar
4 oz. unsalted butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
10 oz. all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ oz. chopped pecans

1. Preheat a non-convection oven to 375°F. Butter a 12-cup standard muffin pan.
2. In a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the dates, sugar and butter, remove from the heat and let stand until the dates have absorbed most or all of the liquid and have cooled to lukewarm (approximately 15 minutes).
3. Transfer the dates and any remaining liquid to a mixing bowl. Add the vanilla. One at a time, add the eggs, beating well after each addition until thoroughly incorporated. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the date mixture and the nuts and stir until well combined.
4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin-pan cups, filling each about ¾ full. Bake until the muffins are well risen and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean, approximately 20 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove the muffins from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Spanish and Italian Cheese and Fruit Board
Yield: serves 6-8

6 oz. Manchego
6 oz. Taleggio
8 oz. Bel Paese
4 oz. dried calmyra figs
4 oz. dried mission figs
1 fresh pomegranate
1 small ripe melon, cantaloupe or honeydew
2 bunches black or red grapes
1 carambola (star fruit)
various carved fruit (lemon, orange, kiwi) flowers for decoration

Recipe Research Sources

Ingram, Christine. Best-Ever Appetizers, Starters & First Courses. Hermes
House: London. 2003.

Joyce, Jennifer. Small Bites: tapas, sushi, mezze, antipasti, and other finger
foods. DK Publishing, Inc.: New York. 2005.

Ruhlman, Michael and Brain Polcyn. Charcuterie: the craft of salting, smoking and
curing. W.W. Norton & Company: New York. 2005

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library. Breakfasts & Brunches. Weldon Owen Inc.:
San Francisco. 1998.

Witty, Helen. Fancy Pantry. Workman Publishing Company, Inc.: New York. 1986.

Witty, Helen. The Good Stuff Cookbook. Workman Publishing Company, Inc.:
New York. 1997.

And tasty they are, too. At least the ones my team and our classmates made for our International Cuisine project. I got up in front of my sketchily-inaccurately drawn map of Denmark and chatted, nattered, and flapped about, about the land of the Danes (I often think of Denmark as the meeting point of my people — my people being the Germans and the Swedes). I talked about their history — ancient to say, WWII. I also talked about the culture and, most importantly, for our purposes, the cuisine. Danish food rings as home cooking for me. Apples, plums, pork (and pork products, of course), rice pudding, fruit sauce, open-faced sandwiches with all manner of lovely things (and admittedly things I don’t personally find lovely such as aspic and raw egg yolks), hearty soups, delicious pastries and all those kinds of things that make a girl warm and fuzzy on the inside when the outside is cold and drizzly.

J.S. talked about the cheeses of Denmark, of which there are many. We had a color handout of a photograph of Danish cheeses that my mother found for me in a brochure entitled “Say, ‘Danish Cheese Please’!” published in the 1970s. It was in her cabinet of wonders. My mother is one of those people whom you can ask, “Do you have a sproket for a 1913 widget made in Outer Slabovia?” and she will cock her head and say, “You know, I think I have one in the cabinet/basement/attic/closet/shed.” Trust me, I am not exaggerating.

We also did a mini cheese tasting of three Danish cheeses (all imported). We tasted two Harvartis. One was a triple cream that tasted almost like butter and the other was a Harvarti with caraway seeds. I always thought that my appreciation for caraway must be genetic but my dad thought caraway seeds (along with peas, Buicks and lima beans) were inedible. The third cheese was a creamy Danish blue that had that yummy-stinky cheese thing going that you can’t really describe to non-cheese lovers.

Our menu consisted of a demo of rosehip soup. H.A. demo-ed it and made it taste like something I would want to eat on a sticky summer afternoon on a terrace with a glass of wine and some friends… I did wonder if it was going to be edible. My rosehip experience is mainly of jams and Vitamin C tablets.

The two Ws made yellow-split pea soup from the Age Old Recipe… It was perfectly smooth in texture and very tasty in taste with just enough salt and a little creaminess from the sour cream and a little crunch from the crispy bacon.

The salad showcased the blue cheese from our tasting and quick-pickled cucumbers that are so prevalent in all the recipes we looked at. The butter lettuce made it. I loathe iceberg lettuce. I know it isn’t evil or anything but it just reminds me of every bad salad through which I have had to suffer. Mom and Dad did grow it in their garden one year and I will happily admit that it didn’t taste like the slickly bleached out stuff on your average salad bar. It was sweet and crunchy and I had a fleeting glimmer of why people like iceberg lettuce, that it could be something more than a vehicle for ranch dressing (shudder).

Our main dish was a pork loin stuffed with prunes and apples with a red currant jelly and cream sauce. I know it sounds a little odd, but it was amazingly moist and moreish. We served it with Hasselback potatoes. Not the most Danish thing on the menu but I felt like they were very Scandinavian and people would be more excited by them than boiled potates.

We also made snitter, which is a miniture smørrebrød, the Danish for open-faced sandwich. We stuck with a simpler sandwich that we found in my giant Culinaria: European Specialities. It consisted of rye bread slathered with Lurpak Dainsh butter, layered with smoked salmon and blanched asparagus and topped with hard-cooked eggs and dill sprigs. I think they may have been my favorite thing on the menu.

For dessert we made rice pudding with a red fruit sauce. V., our classmate who made it, found the almond that was hidden in the pudding which according to legend means he should have a series of lucky adventures. Not a bad little tradition and the almond is less likely to ruin your dental work or stick in your throat than a silver coin or plastic baby.

All and all, I was pretty pleased with our project. I worried about timing and scheduling but I felt like everybody worked at making it great. Overall, Int’l was one of the most fun classes of culinary school. The food geek in me loves learning about all the different ingredients and I have a fat folder of new recipes from all over the world. On Tuesday, we are all going out to eat Vietnamese as our “final”. Not a bad way to end the semester.

In the event that you might like to have a Danish night at your hus, here are the recipes for everything except the rosehip soup:

A Danish Menu

Danish Open-Faced Sandwich Smørrebrød
Yield: 4 sandwiches

Open-faced sandwiches are the national dish of Denmark. There are even special carriers made so Danes can take homemade open-faced sandwiches as a packed lunch.

4 slices dark rye bread
2 Tablespoons Lurpak lightly salted butter, softened
8 oz thinly sliced smoked salmon
4 3” spears asparagus, blanch and halved length-wise
2 hard-cooked eggs, quartered
dill sprigs, for garnish

Divide the butter evenly between the slices of bread and spread in a thin layer that completely covers the top side of the bread. Layer the smoked salmon over the butter, arranging the salmon so it completely covers the bread mostly without overlapping. Arrange the asparagus spears and egg quarters on each sandwich and garnish with a sprig of dill.

Yellow Split Pea Soup
Yield: approx 6 cups

This soup is eaten throughout Scandinavia. In Sweden and Finland, especially, it is eaten every Thursday, a tradition dating to the pre-Reformation era and believed to be a preparation for fasting on Friday.

8 Cups water
approx 4 oz piece salt pork or slab bacon
1 pound yellow split peas, picked over and rinsed
1 large carrot, medium dice
1 medium onion, medium dice
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 bouquet garni
salt and pepper
sour cream, to garnish

Combine water, pork and peas in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for one hour. Add vegetables and bouquet garni and simmer until peas are tender, approximately one hour. Check seasoning. Remove bouquet garni and salt pork, reserving pork. Using a stick blender or food processor, puree soup smooth. Dice reserved pork or bacon and sauté crisp. To serve, ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with a swirl of sour cream, crispy bacon and a sprinkling of coarsely ground pepper.

Danish Pickled Cucumbers Syltede Aqurker
Yield: approx 6 servings

These are popular as a relish with meals and show up in salads and as a topping for open-faced sandwiches.

2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
Snipped dill weed or parsley

Place cucumbers in a glass or plastic bowl (do not use metal as it may impart off-flavors to the pickles). Mix vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper and pour over cucumbers. Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, at least three hours. Drain and sprinkle with dill weed or parsley.

Blue Cheese Salad
Yield: 4 servings

Danes are especially known for the quality of their cheeses, Danish Blue being among the most famous.

Pinch each: salt, pepper, dry mustard and sugar
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
4 tablespoons light tasting oil
1 quart butter lettuce leaves, washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 small bunch baby radishes, thinly sliced
1 recipe Danish pickled cucumbers
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
¼ pound crumbled Danish blue cheese

To make the dressing, in a small bowl, mix together salt, pepper, dry mustard, sugar and vinegar. Whisk in the oil. Just before service, toss the lettuce with the dressing.

To make one large salad, place lettuce in a bowl large enough to accommodate or lay out on a platter. Arrange the radishes, pickled cucumbers and onions and sprinkle with crumbled cheese.

Hasselback Potatoes
Yield: 6 servings

Hasselback potatoes are traditional to Sweden but have been adopted throughout Scandinavia. For Christmas especially, Danes caramelize boiled potatoes in a butter and sugar mixture.

6 baking potatoes, about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Peel the potatoes and keep in a bowl covered with water. Place one potato at a time on a wooden spoon large enough to cradle it comfortable, and beginning at about ½” from the end slice down the potato at 1/8” intervals without slicing through the potato completely, the bowl of the spoon helps in doing this. Drop the sliced potato back into the water while slicing the others.

When all potatoes are sliced, drain and pat them dry. Generously butter a baking dish and arrange the potatoes in one layer. Baste the potatoes with 1 ½ tablespoons of the melted butter and sprinkle them liberally with salt. Roast them in the center of the oven. After 30 minutes sprinkle the bread crumbs over the surface of each potato and baste with the remaining butter and any butter in the pan. Continue to roast for another 15 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown and show no resistance when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.

Pork Loin Stuffed with Apples and Prunes Mørbrad med Svedskar og Aebler
Yield: 6-8 servings

Pork is by far the favorite meat of the Danish and pork is one of the country’s largest exports.

4 ½?5# boned loin of pork, center cut if possible
12 medium-sized pitted prunes
1 large tart apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1” cubes
1 teaspoon lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ cup dry white wine
¾ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon red currant jelly

Place prunes in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let prunes soak in water for 30 minutes. Drain the prunes, pat dry with paper towels and set aside. Sprinkle the cubed apple with the lemon juice and set aside. With a strong, sharp knife, make a pocket in the pork by cutting a deep slit down the length of the loin, going to within a ½” of the ends and to within 1” of the other side. Season the pocket lightly with salt and pepper and stuff it with the prunes and apples. Tie the loin at 1” intervals to keep the stuffing in and retain the shape while cooking. Season the outside of the roast.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a pan that can go into the oven and is big enough to just fit the roast, melt the butter and oil over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the loin, turning it to brown on all sides. Set the meat aside and drain all fat from the pan. Deglaze with wine and stir in the heavy cream. Bring to a simmer place the meat back into the pan, cover and place in the oven. Cook until meat reaches 135°F degrees.

Remove the loin from the pan and let rest on a heated platter, covered, while finishing the sauce.

Skim the fat from the liquid in the pan and bring the liquid to a boil. When it has reduced to about 1 cup, stir in the red currant jelly, reduce the heat and, stirring constantly, simmer briefly until the jelly is melted and sauce is smooth. Taste for seasoning and keep warm.

To carve the roast, cut the strings and slice the roast into 1” slices. To serve, pour one or two tablespoons of sauce onto a heated plate and arrange the slice of roast over it to display the stuffing.

Danish Christmas Rice Pudding with Raspberry Sauce
Yield: 6-8 servings

This pudding is traditionally served on Christmas Eve with one almond hidden in the dessert. The recipient of the almond is guaranteed good luck in the New Year.

For Pudding:
¾” cup uncooked short- or medium-grained rice
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
1 3” stick cinnamon
1 whole almond

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a two-quart casserole dish.

Bring 1 ½ cups water to a boil. Add rice and salt. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the rice has absorbed the water. Add the cream, milk, eggs, butter, sugar and cardamom to the rice. Turn the mixture into the prepared casserole. Poke the cinnamon stick into the rice and hide the almond in the pudding.

Set the casserole into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan so that it reaches halfway up the edge of the casserole. Bake for 2 hours, or until the rice swells and has a creamy texture.

For Sauce:
1 10 oz. package frozen raspberries, thawed
½ cup apple or red currant jelly
1 tablespoon cold water
1 ½ teaspoon cornstarch

In a saucepan, bring raspberries with the juice and jelly to a boil. Make a slurry with the water and cornstarch and stir into the raspberries. Bring to a boil again, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Keep warm.

Serve pudding warm or chilled with warm sauce.

Projects, etc.

victoria —  November 28, 2005 — Leave a comment

Despite rumors to the contrary I have not fallen off the face of the earth. I’ve just been terribly, stupidly busy. And for those who wonder why I continually do this to myself you will be relieved to know that my sole New Year’s Resolution is to learn to say “no.” (I can hear Keifel chuckling now).

Our first catering gig went remarkably well, despite the fact that nearly twice as many people showed as we had guaranteed for. Again, not my mistake but I think it may have colored the overall impressions. JC, my partner, said there were raves on the food, which we of course love to hear. We did go all out quality wise and now we know what we need to be charging.

My buffet production has come and gone, as well. There were some glitches and my packet didn’t dazzle as much as I had hoped. I made an A but a low one that won’t have much impact on my lower than I’d like midterm grade. I think I might be looking at a B for Culinary III, which I have to admit has me in shudders. I’ve had a 4.0 to this point and I would like to keep it. I can’t seem to do anything exactly right this semester in the class. It is frustrating and has shaken my confidence, probably more than I am comfortable admitting. Keifel says that’s my problem, that cooking is like graphic design and that I need more attitude and ego. Maybe. But those with attitude and ego don’t seem to be faring any better than me in class. I know that I don’t have an “arrogant chef” within just waiting to blossom. And if I did I would beat her down with a whisk anyway. I don’t want to be that person. I also don’t think I would be a very good teacher if I became that person. I do realize that I am my own harshest critic and that I am not satisfied unless it’s an A that’s a perfect 100. I was terribly nervous the night that I cooked, to the point that it was mentioned on my grading sheet. I also know that I need to relax, again, this isn’t brain surgery. No one is going to die if my soup doesn’t have enough body or I didn’t put herbs in my crackers. I’m not going to die if I don’t make a 100 on every assignment. I think I am frustrated because I can’t seem to hit that sweet spot this semester with this instructor and it gets under my skin.

I know I promised to post recipes but as I mentioned they are in excel which doesn’t seem to play nice with the format here. For now, I have one recipe I have been tweaking that began as an item for the project.

Victoria’s Ruby Fruit Sauce

1 bag cranberries
zest and juice from one largish orange
3/4 cup evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup black currant preserves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch of salt
juice of half a lemon or to taste

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large saucepan and heat over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved. Lower the heat to medium low and cook until the majority of the cranberries have burst and begun to break down. The sauce will have begun to thicken. Reduce the heat again to low and stir in the remaining ingredients, tasting and adjusting the seasoning. Allow to cool to room temperature and refrigerate up to two weeks.