Archive for the ‘hors d’oeuvres’ Category

4
May

Ova Elixa – Eggs dressed with fish sauce

   Posted by: Livia

This is another Roman recipe. I made it for Noisemakers IX.

So a lot of SCA events just have a bowl of hard boiled eggs in the shell – pretty much for people to fill up on when they aren’t adventurous for weirder dishes. So I found a recipe that would make hard boiled eggs one of the adventurous dishes.

These were served cut into quarters and already drizzled with the sauce, and a side pitcher so you could add more sauce, if desired.

Ova Elixa: liquamine, oleo, mero vel ex liquamine, pipere, lasere – Apicius VII, xix.2

Boiled eggs with a sauce containing fish sauce, olive oil, red wine, black pepper, asafoetida

So for the fish sauce, I ended up being convinced by my favorite cheese mongers to try . And I chose this dish to use it on because I thought the woodiness and the eggs would go well together.

We strewed the plate with baby arugula so the eggs wouldn’t shift in transport from the kitchen to the buffet.
The pitchers with the sauce were made by Brunissende.

And this was at the very start of the buffet so that it would be like the sources in a Roman dinner party – from eggs to nuts – but I forgot to put out the nuts in the end.

24
Oct

Sigara böreği

   Posted by: Livia

The last day I was in Istanbul, my host let me help her make Sigara böreği. Here’s my attempt to document what we did so I can remember for the future.

Filling

3 bunches of fresh spinach (with large leaves) from the farmers market were washed thoroughly in several changes of water. She had 2 salad spinners going at once.

In a skillet, 1 minced medium/large white onion was softened in a generous glug of olive oil. Once it was soft, she peeled and shredded in 2 smaller potatoes (all that she had on hand, perhaps more would have been used if she had it) (large holes on a box grater). Stir stir stir. Cook Cook Cook.

And then the cleaned and roughly chopped spinach went in. And we cooked it until is was a soft and homogeneous mixture.

Season with black pepper and salt.

Then the heat was turned off, and it was set aside to prepare the wrappers.

Wrapping

Was not made with phyllo dough! She hod bought freshly made circles of thin dough from the local market. Yufka! Which I just found at a market in this city, which is why I am now thinking about making them on my own.

So she spread out this 2″ round of dough in a single layer on the counter (and kept the rest covered lest it dry out).

And she mixed together yogurt, eggs, and olive oil until it had a soupy texture (and she added ingredients as needed to get the right consistency).

Spread a thin-ish layer of the egg mixture over the yukfa. Fold the yukfa in half, so you now have a semi-circle. Slice the semicircle into 6-8 (I forget which) long triangle wedges.

Assembly

Spoon 1-2 Tablespoons of the spinach filling on the wide part of the triangle. Tuck in the corners and roll the dough around the filling. If it seems dry, feel free to add more of the egg mixture to seal, but it shouldn’t be wet either.

Lay your finished cigars on a lined baking sheet. They can now sit overnight in the refrigerator (I don’t remember if this is just okay or preferred).

When ready, bake at 425F for 15-20 minutes.

Things that are missing from this recipe
She also had white cheese (like feta) that went into this dish. Was it mixed into the spinach once it had cooled? Or was it in the egg mixture? I don’t remember.

Were there any herbs in the spinach mixture? A bit of parsley wouldn’t hurt.

Other similar recipes online
http://www.deliciousistanbul.com/blog/2011/03/15/sigara-borek/
http://www.deliciousistanbul.com/blog/2012/02/14/swiss-chard-pastirma-borek-recipe/
http://ozlemsturkishtable.com/2013/03/a-favorite-turkish-treat-sigara-boregi-crispy-cheese-and-herb-filled-pastry-rolls-a-delightful-find-in-istanbul-karakoy-lokantasi/
http://www.turkishcookbook.com/2006/08/cigarette-borek.php
http://userealbutter.com/2008/09/14/sigara-boregi-recipe/
http://www.anediblemosaic.com/?p=3740

vegan -> http://www.messyvegetariancook.com/2010/05/19/vegan-spinach-borek/

ETA: Okay – so I’ve made it now and can answer all the questions I had before!

First – this is not a crispy version. This dough looks terrifyingly designed to be crispy. I was sure that everything was ruined because I only had storebought Yufka instead of getting a fresh batch from a local market. Everything turned out fine.

Second – Yes, add the cheese to the filling once it has cooled. I ended up using a mixture of peccorino romano and sheep milk beyaz peynir. Whatever brined white cheese should be tasty. Also, I was worried about the saltiness of my cheese, so I was moderate about the salt in the filling. But, really, it could have used more salt.

Third – resting time is important! The first batch I cooked was the last batch I made, and it ended up releasing a puddle of oil that made the rolls soggy. I was resigned to finding them tasty anyway. But the second batch, which had been sitting long enough for the dough to fully hydrate and the tops (brushed with more of the egg/yogurt/oil mixture) to get a little tacky, didn’t lose any liquid and came out fairly similar to the ones I’d had in Istanbul. And the tops turned lovely golden and brown.

Cooking time – 425F for 20 minutes.

10
Oct

Unusual Black Bean Dips

   Posted by: Livia Tags:

Wooo! Let me tell you something amazing!

So my sister got me a food processor for a house warming gift. And this is the magic key to making bean dips. I had no idea.

But now there is so much freedom!

Last weekend I had people over to craft, and I made up a platter of sandwich fixings. But I forgot to make something vegan (I mean, there was bread and lettuce and tomato and all, but nothing of bulk to hold it together). I’d meant to buy some hummus – as you do – but I’d forgotten and checked it off my shopping list in error.

And the person came up to me and softly asked, “Erm… food?” Or words to that effect.

And I could just go to my cabinet and pick a random can of beans and turn it into random dip.

Random Dip, I tell you!

First option: Chipotle Black Bean Dip

Step 1 – drain the beans, rinse thoroughly (otherwise it can get too salty), and dump into the processor.

And then I said unto myself – we need a saturated fat alternative to lard, and I have this here awesome coconut fat. So I added about a tablespoon of that. And some olive oil, because why not?

Oh, and you’re closing the food processor and turning it on in between each addition and then tasting to see what else would be good – I don’t think you can over-process bean dip.

And then some fajita seasoning. But the beans are a strong flavor, so also some powdered oregano and thyme and maybe some cinnamon, too, for fun.

Oh, yeah, and there were a few cloves of the roasted garlic I had in the fridge. Raw would have been fun, too.

And, yet, still not spicy – and rather thick.

So I squeezed a lime into it and added about half a teaspoon of chipotle sauce (maybe more?).

And it was amazing. The non-vegans were all over that, too! I enjoyed it on potato bread with microgreens.

So then a few months later, there was a need for dip again… and a guest had started a bottle of red and turned out to be the only one drinking wine that night, so I decided a swig of red wine wouldn’t go amiss, and I shaped the dip around that flavor.

Red Wine and Ginger Black Bean Dip

Drain, rinse, and add the beans to the food processor. And a slug of red wine!

Oh, yeah, coconut fat would be even more appropriate in this combination.

And then peel and grate about an inch of ginger into the bowl of the processor (and then brush it off the middle part because that gets awkward).

Grind some black pepper. Squeeze some lime. sprinkle just a little cinnamon and thyme.

And a teaspoon of dijon mustard rounds it out nicely.

There’s a charcuterie challenge, #charcutepalooza, going on in the food blog community, and it has been a lovely source of inspiration. So I figured by the end of April that I’d toss my hat into the ring, too. (See – my name is even on the list) I want to be a cool kid!

Only I’m not so good with deadlines, you see.

And while I loved the premise for the May challenge (grinding), and I loved the detailed directions (seriously, those directions are clear, thorough, and a work of art), and I even had a couple pounds of extra lamb fat I’d cut out of the shoulder roasts for Passover – despite all that, May 15th came and went with no meat having been ground.

I’d ordered the Kitchenaid grinding and sausage stuffing attachments, but I’d ordered them in my pseudonym and was unable to convince the post office to actually give them to me. After a month of trying to retrieve them, they went back to the suppliers and I hadn’t the fortitude to try again (they were just sitting there three blocks away – totally out of reach). And I hadn’t made it back down to South Street to acquire more meat. And it ended up being a month of fairly tight finances (did I mention my sink exploded in April?).

But then! May 28th came, and meat was ground. But not the meat painstakingly explained in the directions. No, a totally different meat. No so good with directions, either. I’m sure you haven’t noticed, though.

See – my friend, Lulu, has plans to attend Pennsic (as do I). And we are interested in trying this baking bread in a dutch oven with a camp fire (and coals) thing. I have high hopes.

So she just bought her dutch oven, and we decided that the very first thing she should cook in it should be a pound of bacon, rapidly followed by a batch of biscuits! My friend Geeksdoitbetter offered up potatoes for home fries. And I said, “Erm… well, I’ve got this breafast sausage recipe, and they say it can work in a food processor… what do you have in the land of meat?” Turned out to be chicken. The game is on!



Chicken Breakfast Sausage

Snag 1 package (1.75lbs) of skinless, boneless chicken thighs from your friend’s freezer… (would that one could get the skin and fat without the bones, but I wasn’t purchasing the meat, so I wasn’t going to be picky).

Thaw over about 30 hours in the refrigerator – it should still be a bit crinkly with ice crystals around the edges, but cutting is no problem.

Cut it up into a dice. The instructions said 1 inch cubes, but I felt it worth being more cautious and went with a half inch dice.

Then I put it into a gallon freezer bag, smoothed it out into a thin flat layer, and popped it into the freezer and went to work.

La la la – end of work

Into a sturdy food processor, I added half of the chicken meat (having wiggled the bag a bit and separated the cubes), many generous shakes (not weighed, could have been more generous) of rubbed sage, some thyme, fresh ground black pepper, powdered garlic, table salt, and about a quarter cup of minced fresh parsley.

And it was horrifying to first turn on! It shook the counter as if it were a clothes washer with an unbalanced load. It was loud. And it clearly wasn’t right.

But I persisted. And I also walked away for a little bit to chat with friends. And then fairly soon, maybe 20 minutes later, it turned perfect. Still mostly frozen, and yet thawed enough to be easy to cut. The blades with through the meat, and it was perfect! Pop it open and make sure the bottom circulates with the top, grind again, and it’s looking like sausage!

Now I was worried about the lack of additional fat, so at the last minute I pulled out of the freezer my container of schmaltz. And I scooped small chunks into the food processor until I’d added between 1/8 and 1/4 cup. Process some more until they are broken up into rice-sized pieces.

And then I shaped and cooked up a test patty. And once that received acclaim, I made and cooked the rest – some of them were even made into biscuit sandwiches (which is really the best fate a sausage patty can hope for).

The second batch ended up with even more parsley… and there’s a delicate balance between freshness and some green, and your entire patty taking on a green tinge. Just saying. Also, I seemed to have been less generous with the spices the second time around and should not have been.

My friends loved them. Ecstatic. I thought they were a little bland.

But the three of us ate almost the entire package of meat, leaving over bacon, even though there were also potatoes and biscuits and filling things. I have a standing request to make them again.

17
Mar

Carnitas

   Posted by: Livia Tags: , ,

So I have found out via Rick Bayless’ twitter (he’s one of my favorite people to follow!) that the way I make carnitas is not authentic. If you want authentic, go to his recipe.

Because this is slowly cooked in liquid, it might be helpful to think of my carnitas as more in the pulled pork family of swine goodness.

Instead, when I set about to find a recipe after I went to San Diego and decided that this was something I’d have to try more often (but this was before I was on Twitter), I searched recipe and found a huge variety – some cooking in stock, cola,orange juice, beer, milk, or even water… but none in lipids (not that I knew I should be looking for lipids back then).

So I picked a recipe (water (which I partially replaced with stock) and citrus zest with spices and peppers) and followed it and loved the result. If you want a strict recipe, that’s a really good one. Then I tried it again from memory. And I’ve slowly been paring it down to one of those dishes can just be made from whatever’s hanging out in my refrigerator.

I have a lot of trouble going through a quart of orange juice, so I usually pull this out when I start nearing the orange juice expiration and need to use it up.

Carnitas

Meat
Yeah, so you’d think that you’d want a nice fatty shoulder for ideal flavor. But I started with a cheap ass pork loin with no fat at all, and I loved the results. This will still get tender and juicy and lovely even if you buy the cheapest and leanest option out there (don’t you love when those two occur together?).

When I buy a whole pork loin, I usually cut it into three large roasts and freeze them. So I usually work with a 3-4 pound lump of meat.

Feel free to put it in the soup pot without even defrosting it.

Liquid
Add some orange juice (1-4 cups)

Add some stock (I have quarts of vegetable stock right these days)

Add a splash of wine or beer or tequila – whatever makes you happy.

Feel free to squeeze in a lime

With this much flavorful liquid, you can add some water if the roast still isn’t covered.

You do not need to add any extra fat/oil

More flavor
If you like onion, you can either half an onion and plan to remove it later, or cut up an onion decently finely so it won’t be stringier than the meat.

Mince up some garlic, if you like. Oddly, I usually skip it.

Feel free to grate in some citrus zest. My first recipe that was heavy on the zest ended up with a slightly too strong citrus flavor, but I still like some – whatever I have that’s easy.

pinch off the head of a couple cloves (the spice) and crush with your fingers into powder

Add some cinnamon, if you like it.

I like to add some ground oregano and some ground thyme. (If you have fresh cilantro, either wait until the dish is ready to serve or add just the stems, finely minced, this early in cooking)

And you can add some crushed pepper now, but I recommend waiting because it’s important to realize that just a little bit of pepper will accumulate a lot of heat the longer it cooks in wet heat.

Cooking
So bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

An hour or so later, when the meat it thoroughly thawed, carefully pull out the roast (let it drip a bit) and move it to a cutting board. With a large knife, cut it into 1″ to 1.5″ slices – against the grain. This will keep it from getting too stringy as it disintegrates.

note: if you were starting from fresh meat, you could have done it at the beginning, but it’s fine to wait, too.

Return the meat to the pot. Check that you still have a pretty mild simmer going on.

And hour later, come by and start poking at it with a wooden spoon. See if you can just poke a hole through the slices – or break them into halves. Just start encouraging it to fall apart.

Check your water level – it’s probably still scarily high and you’re wondering if you’re going to have to drain the meat later. Be patient.

But about now I start checking at half hour intervals – but that’s because I like poking at my food.

Hey, now would be a good time to add a conservative amount of crushed pepper, if you want.

Cook, cook, cook.

Is it starting to fall apart? Pinch off a bit and taste it. If the flavors are good, but a bit mild, that’s perfect.

Cook, cook, cook.

Okay, start paying attention to the level of liquid when it starts being stew-ish, rather than soup-ish. Stir more frequently and make sure you’re in the same room so that you can tell when it starts to smell drier (I know this sounds odd, but watch the liquid and smell – the sound of the cooking will also change a bit).

Okay, once it’s mostly dry, it’s a fairly harrowing time. Well, if you have fancy enameled cookware, just keep going until you get a little burny crisp around the edges.

I, however, have cheap, thin nonstick cookware, so I don’t want to go that far. Sometimes I have the right combination of attentiveness/patience to get it just perfectly dry without burning. Sometimes I drain it a little at the end – with pulling out not more that a cup or so of liquid, you really do want all those flavors absorbed into the meat (and then I use the liquid of tasty joy to make rice).

More cooking?
You can put it into batches and freeze now. Or you can crisp it up some first.

This is the time to add salt, pepper, and lipids.

Get a big casserole dish and put an inch thick layer of pork (you might have to do more than one batch) – pour over some olive oil (or, you know, bacon fat) and salt and pepper it.

Roast in a 375F oven (Hella hot, but not so hot you have a fire, because that would be bad) until is starts to crisp up.

Take out of the oven. Stir. Put back in the oven. Crisp. Out. Stir. In. Crisp. Out. Taste. Moan.

Seriously!

ETA: I have since come across this recipe for cochinita pibil, which (with the addition of annatto) might be a more direct antececent of this dish

Cooking fish is a milestone for me in the land of cooking.

I grew up with a father who did not like fish, not even the smell of it in the house. And since I’ve moved out on my own, I’ve mostly stuck with cheaper meat options (with a goal price point of $2/lb or less – though, yes, I’ve been reconsidering my ethics lately). Also, Philadelphia is not known for its seafood, so I don’t know of a reliable fish monger near me.

But I just happened to be out today in the vicinity of a reputable source of seafood – Ippolito’s – so I stepped in and professed my cluelessness. I did ask for something a little more challenging that a salmon steak, so I ended up selecting a beautiful 18″-ish striped bass. And since I don’t have fish-worth knives at home, I did ask them to filet it for me, but to also include the head, tail, and bones for stock.

Turns out that I only ended up with the meat. I’m a little disappointed, but I suppose that any day I call ahead and go there asking for a bag of random fish scraps, I’ll be able to get them for fairly cheaply… and I wasn’t going back today because it took a lot of looking to find a decent parking spot that wasn’t on a snow emergency route.

So after I did the dishes and cleared a workspace, the first thing I did was open up my packet and fondle my meat. Erm… I mean notice that there weren’t any miscellaneous bits. And then I pulled out only three tiny bones that the store missed. And, yes, my eyes had been right – the flesh felt smooth and supple and there was no fish smell even this close.

So, being an amateur, the first thing I did was to cut the filets down so that one was 4 ounces and the other 3.5 ounces. I did that by trimming off the thinner flaps on the side and down by the tail so that the filets would have a more even thickness. I have no idea whether that is acceptable in formal fish circles or not, but it seemed logical to me.

I then had about 2.5 ounces of very fresh fish to play with.

Ceviche

So I diced the fish finely, slightly less than 1cm x 1cm x .5cm, and I did not bother with removing the skin except in a couple spots where it wasn’t cutting easily.

I added half a jalapeno, minced. And then I added about 2 tablespoons of finely minced red onion. I stirred that about and tasted it.

Oh, right, I was missing the acid – that’s key to ceviche. So I pulled out a lemon and a lime and ending up that I wanted to use the lime. The juice of a whole lime seemed a bit too much after I added it. Hmmm…

I also minced up some fresh flat-leaf parsley (I love the small salad spinner I got for my birthday!). And I added some salt, pepper, and a chunk of gingerj.

Now I think I’ve covered all of the basics of ceviche, but it still wasn’t tasting any good, even after marinating for half an hour. So I started looking around my kitchen – ah, yes, the persimmons.

I diced up one, and even with their odd skin/flesh texture, the persimmon was the perfect answer. Well, I suspect any particularly strong fruit. But instantly (well, with even more salt, too) the flavors came together and the ceviche was tasty.

So I spent the rest of the day googling recipes for striped bass, calling my mother for advice, and seriously pondering the fail-proof parchment method, which showed up in such a timely fashion on my twitter feed.

And then I sucked it up and reminded myself that I had managed to find exceptionally fresh fish, so I’d better just trust my ingredients.

Pan Seared Striped Bass

So I took out a good, thick skillet, and I heated it up fairly high (medium-high, actually, so not as hot as for steak) with a teaspoon of olive oil in the pan.

When hot, I took my nice, even-thickness 4 ounce filet, and lay it down (I put the skin down first). And then I didn’t let myself look at it or poke at it to monitor.

I just waited 3 minutes. And then I sprinkled salt and pepper on the up side, flipped it, and sprinkled the skin side, too.

Ever so slightly more than three more minutes later (I don’t know why I held off, but it seemed right), I served up onto a plate a perfect piece of fish with nice browning on both sides, easy flake, and just oozing juicy tenderness.

I’d say it was as good as the best fish I’ve had in a restaurant. Wow!

I still have one more filet, so I’ll see if I can duplicate my results and call it skill/intuition or if it was just beginner’s luck.

And how did I manage not to poke at the fish? By assembling a salad for the side. This was my second run with this basic salad frame, but the first one was too acidic, so I was more generous this time with the more oily ingredients.

Persimmon & Arugula Salad

Cold parts
2.5 ounces of arugula, washed – and spun!
2 persimmons, cut up and scattered artfully
a dozen dry roasted almonds (unsalted) roughly broken up with a knife
2 ounces of semi-soft mild flavored cheese

Dressing
1/2 tsp brown mustard
1/2 tsp tamarind sauce/chutney
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar

10
Jan

Black Garlic experiments

   Posted by: Livia Tags: , , , ,

About a month ago (at the start of December) Marx Foods ran a promotion where they’d offer esoteric food items to food bloggers willing to write up reviews. And, honestly, this was my first ever shot at free food just because I have this hobby, so I gleefully bopped on over and signed up.

And also for full disclosure, I found out about the company in the first place because my friend, Meghan, had been to their site and entered a photo contest that had scored her some vanilla beans, of which she spoke highly.

So of three choices, I asked to try the Black Garlic because earlier in the year there had been a wave of food bloggers trying out this ingredient, too, and it’s appeal seemed to come from its flavor as well as its novelty value.

And right away I had to change my shipping address and had to try out their customer service – and received prompt emails back from Justin Marx on a weekend. Wow! And he was very supportive of my little amateur blog and every welcoming even though many of the things he sells just seem way out of my league / price range. So I am very impressed by them.

But how impressive is the black garlic?

Scent – I had it shipped to my work address, and I could not resist opening the package and poking at it right away. At first it didn’t seem to have much scent, but then I left the office to do something, and I came back to realize that there was quite a strong, dark garlic scent all through my office. Oh, yeah. I am full of professionalism. Luckily, no one has to share the office with me. But it made me very hungry for the rest of the day.

It ended up arriving at a fairly busy time for me, and the first recipe I made from it was born of a need for simplicity. That Friday, was the Philadelphia Food Bloggers pot luck, and I’d been planning to make stuffed dates… and then just didn’t have any time to assemble them. So I went with an incredibly easy cream cheese dip instead.

Recipe 1 – flavored cream cheese with crackers
I made two side-by-side bowls of dip.

Garlic & Parsley Cream Cheese

Garlic (3 cloves minced black garlic in one, 5 cloves mashed roasted garlic in the other)
12 ounces neuchatel cheese
large bunch of flat leaf parsley, minced (the last from the summer garden)
2 Tablespoons finely minced purple onion
pinch of salt

So with exactly the same recipe, I set out to see what people thought the differences were.

First off – after a full day at work, the cream cheese with the black garlic needed to be mixed up with a fork again to be presentable because the brown color had seeped out into the surrounding cheese. (And with the leftovers, it continued to spread and blend into the cream cheese until there was an even mocha color – I might recommend making this 2-3 days ahead for maximum joy)

No one thought there was a licorice flavor to the black garlic spread. Descriptions tended more toward round and dark and complex, but no one could quite name the difference. That said, people loved them both equally, but separately. They were not interchangeable at all.

Recipe #2 – flavored butter
So since it melted to well into the cream cheese, I figured I’d try mixing it with butter, too.

Now, I’d already read Diane’s entry from White on Rice where she found that it didn’t infuse well into oil, but I figured it would not only be useful to confirm her results, but also be useful for extending the experiment – since I’d only acquired 2 heads of garlic.

And, no, the garlic didn’t melt into the butter at all. But it was still tasty spread on bread. My favorite experiment at this stage was making toast with the black garlic butter and a thin smear of thick, smooth Frontera salsa.

Texture: The reason so many descriptions of black garlic evoke licorice is that’s exactly what it looks like coming out of the papery husk. The paper skin is so thin, there’s not more than a single layer between you and the clove, but the clove has shrunk down to a thick black nub. It’s dry and squishy and a bit sticky/tacky as you but into it. Putting it in the freezer doesn’t change its texture much at all and doesn’t make it easier to slice. I ended up resenting the fine layer it would leave behind on my knife because I had so little to work with.

Experiment #3 – Black garlic in mushroom barley
I’d been trying to hold out against a Black Garlic Risotto recipe because that would be too ridiculously easy. How could black garlic not be tasty in that set up? But I caved because the taste matched exactly a Roman barley recipe, which I made for my last Roman cooking workshop (and, huh, never got around to writing up) and had promised myself I would revisit. So a cold night and much starch and there was a tasty, garlicy meal of joy. Guaranteed crowd pleaser. I’ll get my copy of Apicius and try to remember to make a separate entry for that one, but trust me – it’s a lot like risotto.

Taste: So it doesn’t taste quite like garlic, so what does it taste like? Well, darker and rounder and definitely umami… but that’s not helpful. The best description is that it tastes like garlic breath – everything around the flavor of garlic, without the obvious front taste. It’s dark and musky, but it’s all around the edges of flavor without confronting you directly.

Experiment #4 – Chocolate Truffles
Now I was a little dubious about this from the start, but the Marx Food people has promised this would be useful for savories or sweets. And they had even offered up a chocolate truffle recipe. Having read it, I’m kind of dubious about their preparation – which has a regular truffle center, rolled in minced black garlic. I think the garlic would end up too chewy and right there on your tongue.

So I set about to make the garlic part of the filling. I mixed together butter and garlic again, and I added as much chocolate as necessary to keep it from being overwhelmingly butter. I added enough sugar to make it feel like dessert, but I also added some salt and smoked paprika to bring out the smokier notes. I chilled this and dipped it in a pretty dark chocolate coating (a ratio of 2 squares unsweetened to 1 square semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolate) and then garnished with a dusting a regular paprika.

And… it turned out bad. Not devastatingly bad, but not something I want to eat. Other people who tried it described it as a flavor explosion. But it wasn’t a pleasing one by my call, and I threw out the untried ones, instead of taking them home with me. (right, and I also need to write up the other, more sucessful, truffle recipes)

Experiment #5 – Black Garlic omelet
So I had just one clove left, and I decided to go with something I knew would be good. I sliced it very thinly, and I fried them crisp in a teaspoon and a half of bacon fat.

note: it was hard to track their cooking progress because they were already black. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me before, but yeah worth pointing out.

And then I scrambled together an egg and almost an equal quantity of light cream. Poured in just enough to coat the pan, pulled the garlic slices back into the pan so they were evenly distributed, and rolled out a soft, luscious omelet of pure bliss!

(Note: this same trick of frying slices of garlic was also used in Steamy Kitchen‘s experiment, where she made Scallops with Black Garlic)

Conclusion: This was a lot of fun to try, and I’d definitely use them again… but I’m not sure it’s something I’ll feel the need to seek out.

7
Dec

Turkey leftovers – wings and drumsticks

   Posted by: Livia Tags:

When my mother and I were divvying up the leftovers, I tried to leave her with the drumsticks and wings, but she ended up insisting that I take them.

See, I think they’re dry and a bit hard to convert into food other than meat on a bone with gnawing.

So, fine, I went with the meat on a bone and gnawing plan.

I coated the outside of each piece with red Thai curry paste and left them to sit overnight (okay, longer, but we’ll pretend I didn’t admit that).

And then I melted a pat of butter in a skillet and fried each piece, turning to cook evenly, until each one was heated through and the skin was just starting to burn in bits.

Then there was much tasty gnawing.

In the dark days of last winter, my friend gifted me with a sexy olive oil and a small bottle of truffle oil. And I managed in that same evening to mention that I haven’t been putting oil in my homemade salad dressings. *facepalm*

But, really, why is there oil in all of the salad dressing recipes? It doesn’t seem to add much to the flavor. A bit of mustard goes much farther for making the dressing coat the lettuce than oil (especially if your leaves are less than perfectly dry). And it doesn’t add much in the way of umami unless you add more than a couple teaspoons.

So what do I use fancipants oil for? Mostly finishing tarkas, sometimes dipping bread, and also historical cooking for no explainable reason.

In general, it’s when the flavor of the oil will matter.

So there I was with a beautiful bunch of local (to Baltimore) asparagus. And I remembered that one time I made roasted asparagus for a date and it was the best thing ever.

Now, I have a terrible memory. Not only do I forget most things, but also I occasionally remember things that never happened. To this day, I am pretty sure I remember a scene from Blade Runner, which I have been unable to find in any of the versions of the film.

So I have a very distinct memory of opening up The Joy of Cooking and reading up on asparagus. I remember it saying that few people appreciated that the very best preparation for asparagus was roasting it at high heat.

Only, I went to my Joy of Cooking to double check the cooking time and temperature… and there is no mention at all of roasting asparagus. So I checked my other cookbooks to see whether I was mistaken as to the title… nope. I can’t find anyone advocating it, but I swear it was delicious.

So I went ahead and made up the time and temperature.

Roasted Asparagus w/ Truffle Oil

Rinse asparagus and pat dry. Snap off the tough bottoms of the stems (as you do) (Or, you know, cut them).

Okay, so given a choice, I always go for the thinnest asparagus available. Therefore, I didn’t bother with blanching them first. If you are going for thicker stems, there be blanching here. (tip: if you don’t trim the ends off first, you can easily blanch asparagus by holding the woody part and then swirling the tip through the boiling water)

Pop into a 450F oven.

Five minutes later, turn the spears and drizzle with truffle oil.

After another three to five minutes (if you have skinny spears), it should be done. Grab one and munch on it to be sure. Mmmmm – maybe another.

Finish with a sprinkling of salt.

11
Mar

3 salsas

   Posted by: Livia Tags: , , ,

So I bought a pineapple and a couple magoes with plans to experiment with possible salsas to make for the Cooking with Catladies dinner this coming weekend. I put it off for a bit, and then the fruit was perfectly ripe and making it clear that it would not wait for the 15th.

So here were my experimental salsas:

Pineapple/Grape Salsa
This one is designed to be light a fresh and perky, and it succeeded admirably.

Cut 2/3rds of a pineapple into 1cm dice. Slice seedless red grapes in half until the quantities of pinapple and grapes are equal.

Peel ginger and cut several paper thin slices against the grain. Then stack those slices and cut them into strips. Add to the fruit.

Slice the flesh off of 1 jalepeno pepper, and cut that into thin strips. Add to fruit.

Mix everything together and put into a jar.

Make a syrup of 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup rice vinegar. Reduce by 1/3 or until bored, whichever comes first.

Pour in enough to make the salsa wet, but not drippy – maybe halfway up a tightly-packed jar. Close the lid, and let sit overnight.

Pineapple Habanero
This one was meant to be just a bit too strong for my tastes, just in case someone particularly macho came by. Therefore, I didn’t make a lot of it. But also, it annoys me when very spicy food is only spicy, so I was trying to get a bit of layering to the flavor. The end result is delicious, but not hot enough at all.

Finely mince 1/3 of a pineapple

Cut the flesh off of 1 3 habanero peppers, and slice it as finely as possible.

In a mortar and pestle, crush together 2 clove heads, 6 allspice berries, and some nutmeg.

Stir all together.

Make a syrup of: the juice of 2 limes, 1 tsp buckwheat honey, 2 tsp brown sugar, and 1/4 cup white balsamic. Boil until it thickens a bit, and then pour sparingly over the salsa.

Let sit overnight. (Hoping this one might last a week)

Mango and Green Pepper SalsaOddly, this one ended up being the hottest of the lot, but that’ll depend on the next jalepeno I buy. I like the crisp texture of the green pepper here.

Dice a ripe mango as best you can, but it’s better for the mango to be ripe and sweet than to have a perfect dice

Cut the flesh off the seeds of the bell pepper in about 5 passes, and then cut those strips into narrow strips (so you end up with pieces about 2mm x 4cm) – this will make the width of the bite about the same, the pieces still large enough to be crunchy, and yet it will still fold into everything smoothly as salsa should.

Thinly slice 1/2 of a jalepeno all the way through. Then mince those slices and add them, including seeds.

Add the zest of 1 lime.

Stir all together, and pack it into a jar.

Pour white vinegar into the tightly-packed jar until it comes about halfway up the fruit. Let sit overnight.

Now to see if they can be replicated. *grin*