Would kinda like to try this:
especially with some of these variations:
Would kinda like to try this:
especially with some of these variations:
I read a little bit of it today and it's... um... saucy. :) The recipes looked fine, but I didn't look closely.
The link above is to Random House, but the book itself has its own WWW site:
"Fowler"? Really? :) Also, how come this has been out for 10 months and I'm just now finding out?
When I started the "What We Really Eat" category, I intended it to chronicle things I really ate or thought people really ate, but was too ashamed to list as something I'd actually made. Now I notice I've screwed that category all up. Oh well.
Anyway, I'm not much of a Mexican food person, and I sure as hell don't know how to cook it properly. But I've eaten it a lot of this, er, "salsa" with bags of tortilla chips since my friend, Special Agent "Ass-O-USA," taught me how to do this. My friend Maura says it's the only thing that makes jarred salsa tolerable. It also makes me feel better about hauling a bag of tortilla chips to a party, and you can usually find some sort of cream cheese and salsa at whatever grocery store you stop at.
So.... Salsa Assousa:
Perhaps you've heard of syllabub? I guess if you want to be all authentic and stuff, you're supposed to make it while milking a cow. I mean, I can undestand a recipe using a cow, or a cow's products, but not actively involving a live cow in the production of the actual dish. Have I made it clear now that they're actually milking a cow directly into the dessert? :) I hope so, because that's what's going on:
Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I had two Thanksgivings, which was awesome. Not sure if I have twice as much to be thankful for or what, but it certainly left me with no time to blog about either.
If any of the rest of you need food ideas for Second Thanksgiving, Xmas, Festivus, or what have you, perhaps you should try the newest edition of the Ron Paul Family Cookbook:
My friend Peach from Canada recently shared a recipe for a chocolate pie of sorts. I needed a quick dessert tonight, so why not:
Click to enlarge, of course. The napkin is there because it seemed to fix the crappy white balance for the iPhone I used for the picture. Sure would have been nice if I'd thought to take that picture before we started scarfing it. :)
I made a 10" version of the recipe because I had a 10" vessel. I also made a few other adjustments, but here's the basic recipe as I got it:
Chocolate Lovers’ Pie
Makes one 9” pie.
Servings: Last time I made this, I cut it into 14 pieces and no one complained. There were no leftovers, either.
This is an old recipe from Fry’s Cocoa. For those not familiar, it’s basic grocery store cocoa. I’ve made it only with Fry’s, but I lost the recipe for years and have since discovered the darker, richer and more decadent “dutch” cocoa, which I use exclusively now. I just found this recipe again and I want to make it, but it is so rich when made with Fry’s that I’m concerned my beloved dutch cocoa would make it positively explosive. Then again, I’m willing to throw myself on that grenade. (Just in case I chicken out, I have some grocery store cocoa on hand.)
** Cocoa Nut Pie Shell -- makes one 9”/1 L pie shell
3/4 cup (175 mL) icing sugar
1/3 cup (75 mL) cocoa
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/3 cup (75 mL) butter
1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped toasted nuts
1. Sift together icing sugar, cocoa and salt.
2. Melt butter in a saucepan. Cook until bubbly. Remove from heat.
3. Blend in cocoa mixture. Stir in nuts.
4. Press into 9”/1 L pie plate. Chill.
1 envelope unflavoured gelatin
3 Tbsp (45 mL) cold water
2 Tbsp (30 mL) instant coffee granules
1/4 cup (50 mL) boiling water
1 cup (250 mL) sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) cocoa
2 cups (500 mL) whipping cream
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
1. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water. Let stand 5 minutes to soften.
2. Add coffee granules and boiling water to gelatin. Stir until dissolved. Cool.
3. In another bowl, combine sugar and cocoa. Stir in cream and vanilla.
4. Whip cream mixture until softly stiff.
5. Slowly beat in gelatin mixture to whipped cream mixture.
6. Spoon into Cocoa Nut Pie Shell. Chill.
Cut this pie into as many pieces as you can manage. Loosen belts a notch. Enjoy pie.
Creamed spinach is awesome, and doesn't get nearly the press it deserves. I've liked the stuff since I was 6 -- no kidding -- and it's not hard. It's also a traditional and sadly disappearing accompaniment with steaks and chops.
Unfortunately, my attempts lately at c. s. have been lackluster. Also, I again made the stupid mistake of thinking that a 10-ounce bag of fresh spinach would, when cooked, be a reasonable amount of food. So I decided to add two other things that usually seem to go with spinach: allium (I often seem to get garlic with sauteed spinach) and bacon (which usually seems to come in the dressing with spinach salads).
It was not lackluster. :) Most measurements are left out, as that's the way I made it: here at EAJ!, we're all about accurate reporting.
Impromptu creamed spinach
(makes 1 moderate serving or 2 tiny ones)
01 April 2009 in Administrivia, Art, Books, Bread, Burgers, Community, Current Affairs, Definitions, Durham, NC, Experiments, Filler, Film, Food and Drink, Games, JLMBBC, Music, Pictures, Poetry, Politics, Quotations, Recipes, Religion, Restaurants, Reviews, Science, Science Fiction, Sports, Television, Tips & Tricks, Travel, Web/Tech, Weblogs, WWRE | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Tags: calm down, look at the calendar, take a deep breath
So I had these cold-weather vegetables -- greens, squash -- and I was wondering what the heck I was going to do with them. I'm really good at using up root vegetables, and I love when broccoli comes in. But winter squash? Kale? Not so much.
Of course cold weather is a good time to make soups. And it's pretty easy to do soups on a "saute onion/add stock/add vegetable/cook/maybe puree or add cream" model. But I guess I was kind of bored with that, and wanted something with a little more vegetable integrity.
So.... I totally winged this. It came out really freaking good. I was very pleased. But I still have leftovers. I wish I could have shared more of it.
I hope I remember this well enough. :)
I'm not sure how many of my Gentle Readers are followers generally of the food blogosphere and its rumblings. But for the past few weeks, trouble has been rumbling between some of the Web's food blogger community and Cook's Illustrated. The mess has been chronicled already by local food blogger/friend Maura, but the short of it is that Melissa at Alosha's Kitchen posted a set of recipes for a 4th of July menu, including her first attempt at making potato salad. She got her recipes from elsewhere, and credited all her sources. She also detailed modifications she'd made. Ok so far, right?
The problem was she used a recipe from Cook's Illustrated (actually Cook's Country) as the base for her potato salad recipe. And the folks at CI got a little upset. I leave it to you to decide whether they're upset about their recipe being copied, modified, used, credited, a combination of the foregoing, or something else. But they told her to take it down. She did, but she's not particularly happy about it. Neither are a lot of people, including Kate at Accidental Hedonist, who published, er, another potato salad recipe. (In short, Kate thinks that a recipe cannot be copyrighted.) There are also people this writer has spoken with personally who say they're dumping their Cook's Ill. subscription over CI's treatment of Melissa.
The immediate answer to Melissa's dilemma seems to be not to quote their recipes exactly (which she didn't), and don't credit them with anything. :) But that seems an unsatisfying answer here, at least to me.
So while I've been thinking about this event and its sequelae, I started feeling like I'd been here before. I finally realized I was witnessing another fight between The Cathedral and The Bazaar (paper available here). And I started thinking about this mess a little differently.
For those of you who aren't up to reading the above links right now: Let's say you write software. And let's say, for your own reasons, you want to give it away: you want anyone who can get their hands on it to use it, copy it, modify it, and basically do whatever they like with it, including continuing to pass it on. So, other people do so with your work, maybe even making their own modifications, or embedding your software in theirs. You're all good with that. It's what you want.
Then TIC -- Three Initial Corporation -- grabs your software and starts doing things with it, including embedding it in their own product. You're good with that. They go on to sell a product with your product in it, maybe do some work on it, and maybe even charge for support for your product. You're good with all that too. They're adding to the usefulness of your product, and making money at the same time. Cool. :)
Then TIC claims copyright or patent protections for "their" product, which includes your product. They also modify your product so that their version is incompatible with yours. Maybe they start suing people who make their own modifications, or refuting prior art claims by saying they'd done the same work in-house first.
Not cool. You start to wish you'd never released your software.
Don't say this won't happen. There are entire companies making their living off nothing but litigating this kind of issue. Sometimes they resolve the issue between themselves by agreeing not to sue each other over offsetting patent claims. IBM even developed a product (that IIRC, it tried to get a business method patent for) that involved a system for leasing patents among disagreeing companies involved in this kind of litigation. I.e., they automated a process for arbitrating this kind of situation, and wanted to sell that process.
So, what do you do when you want to release your software, but want to make sure someone else doesn't co-opt it?
You release it under an open source license. What that basically means is that anyone can do pretty much what they want with the software except restrict in any way its propagation. They can even sell it, sell support for it, and maybe even incorporate it into their own product.
Whew, that was a long aside, wasn't it? What the hell were we talking about? Oh yeah, recipes. Let's get back to that, shall we? ;)
As some of you may remember, I have a love-hate relationship with Cook's Illustrated. I love all the work they do on food, recipes, and equipment. And I understand that, since they don't accept advertising, they have fewer options for making money than other publications. But one of the things that bothers me is what CI does with recipes. My thinking about Open Source is one of the things that helped crystallize my thoughts.
People have been roasting chicken, making bread, and yes, even making potato salad for as long as there've been chickens, wheat, and potatoes to eat. They've been writing down recipes, publishing them, improving them, and sharing them for almost as long. Occasionally they argue over where a recipe came from, or who started it. Usually such an argument is bootless, as the origins of a recipe and its original recorder (if there can be said to be one) are lost in time's mists.
Cook's Illustrated seems to be trying to change that.
Is anyone else annoyed by when CI publishes a recipe titled something like, say, "Ultimate Roast Turkey," but then three years later publish a new version of "Ultimate Roast Turkey"? First off, aren't some things matters of taste? Secondly, what happened to that first "Ultimate" recipe -- the one that I guess isn't so "Ultimate" any more? And the big one: where did they get the idea to roast a turkey in the first place? Did they invent that? Did they invent the no-knead bread phenomenon, or beer-can chicken? I don't think so.
What Cook's Ill. is doing is taking the work of thousands of years of culinary efforts, making minor changes and testing -- pretty minor, IMO, if you consider the work that's gone before by millions of home and professional cooks, going back to the first person to spit a chicken over a fire -- and than claiming absolute right to that work.
Their argument seems to be that since they mixed their labor into the recipe, it's theirs now.
What do you think?
Edit: Another opinion at Tigers & Strawberries.
I luvs me some french toast. I've made it out of a lot of things people don't normally make french toast with. For instance: hamburger buns. Even hot dog buns. It's bread, right? French toast, like bread pudding, is made largely of... bread. Why not use different types of bread? Especially if you're low on what you'd prefer to use, or just have a jones
Speaking of breakfast stuff, Fritz commented several months ago that they couldn't find a particular type of breakfast syrup. I suggest making your own. Buy an appropriate fruit jam. Put some of the jam in a small pot, and melt it on the stove over low heat. Strain out the fruit if you like. If it needs to be thinned, add a little kirsch or other appropriately-flavored booze (don't set anything on fire though, which is easy to do when you're heating up booze). I guess you could just add some water if you prefer. If you think the flavor is too strong (which is actually a possibility here), or you want to thicken or stretch your syrup supply, add some light corn syrup. After you get the stuff to your liking, go make your pancakes or whatever and pour your syrup on there. Mmm-mmm.
Cook's Illustrated: You've probably seen the magazines or the related TV show, America's Test Kitchen. I've subscribed to the main magazine for years, even since my friend Claire Cusick turned me on to them when she worked as Food Editor for the Herald-Sun. And like a lot of folks I've talked to about CI, I have a love/hate relationship with them that's worked its way up to a fine head of steam.
But right now, I come to praise CI, not to bury it. I've been on a mailing list of theirs for a while. It has its pros and cons, just like the magazine. But a few months ago, they had a short note in one of their posts asking for recipe testers.
Since I'm an idiot Since I'm a food professional Since I'm not a food professional Since I have nothing better to do For some reason, I decided to sign up.
It's nice. They send me a recipe every week or two. They ask folks not to make the recipe if they don't want to, or if they think up front they won't like it. Certainly if you don't have time, you can blow it off too; they make that clear in each recipe I get. But if you do have time and desire, you have about a week to 10 days or so in which to make the recipe; once you've made it, you can fill out an online survey about your experience. You'll answer questions like how long did it take, did you like it, did you make any changes, &c. The survey only takes a few minutes. They do specifically ask that you not post the recipes online, as some of them may or may not be ready for prime-time: you're testing them, remember?
I've made about half of the recipes they sent me so far. They've varied from ok to pretty darn good. I've also been taking the food (sometimes) to a pot-luck organized by a friend, so I get additional feedback from those folks. No one seems to mind being used as guinea pigs. :) So it's kind of fun in its own way. And the dessert I made last night was yummy. So if you're on their mailing list, and you see this opportunity float by, sign up: it's neat.
You know, I like iced tea. I even named a blend after myself (look for the variation at bottom) :) Now it turns out that like almost all good things, someone has been there before:
An Arnold Palmer is a drink consisting of half iced tea (either sweetened or unsweetened) and half lemonade. It is named for golfing legend Arnold Palmer and is said to be his favorite beverage. [from Wikipedia]
Well, it's close.
Edit: BTW, that last post about the food court musical was apparently my 400th post. Woo-hoo! :)
Whether you call this gratin dauphinois, potatoes au gratin, or scalloped potatoes, it's yummy. There are about a million different versions: some with half-and-half or cream instead of milk, different spicing, or various additions. There are also subtractions: some people make this without the cheese, and add a little extra butter. I'm not usually one of those people.
What you need:
Ok, got all your stuff? Good. Let's cook.
I'm going to a party later today, and I asked if I could bring anything; the host requested bread if I had any. Since I needed to make some, and I'd never tried any JLMBBC oatmeal before, I thought I'd give it a shot.
I made one batch of three loaves using my more-or-less standard JLMBBC technique. The loaves come out to about 1½ pounds apiece. The pans were my favorite these days: they're oval enameled cast-iron roasting pans. I luvs me some footboules. :)
Oven, pans, and lids preheated for 30 minutes at 450°F.
Recipe (flours + oatmeal at 100%):
durum flour 525 g 39%
KA bread flour 525 g 39%
rye flour 100 g 7%
oatmeal 200 g 15%
water 1050 g 78%
Morton kosher salt 2 Tb.
yeast ¾ tsp.
butter 2 Tb.
oatmeal for topping 6 Tb.
Sorry about the mixed units, but it's just what I do these days. :)
I used the butter by cutting it into bits and dropping it around the perimeter of the dough after it's been dumped in the pot. I then took about 2 tablespoons of oatmeal and strewed it on top of the dough. I then put the lids on and put the pans in the oven for 30 minutes. Then I carefully took the lids off and cooked the bread for another 30 minutes. I carefully took the pots out and turned the bread out on racks to cool. I then ate about a half a loaf for breakfast. :)
I had a little less rise in the bowl than I expected, and a slightly smaller loaf. The dough also seemed drier: I guess the oatmeal soaked up more water than an equivalent weight of flour would. The crumb is also much more even than I expected, which supports the idea that the dough was essentially drier than I was thinking it would be. But that's actually good here, because the bread is to be sliced for sandwiches. About half the oatmeal I dropped on top fell off, but that's fine.
The bread tastes nice, with a slightly sweet flavor I usually don't get. There's also a mild sense of sweet spice, like cinnamon or something. I have no idea where that came from. The crumb, as mentioned before, is good for sandwich bread. I think adding some wheat germ would have worked well here.
(Images are thumbnails. Click for larger image in pop-up window.)
I just recently discovered egg-in-the-hole:
It goes by a number of other names, including "egg in the basket." I don't know how this escaped my attention for so long. I love fried eggs, and like the yolk left runny so I can dip my toast in it. But often I break the yolk while handling the egg. Egg-in-the-hole makes it easier to handle the egg without breaking it. Also I thought that if I did break the egg, the surrounding bread would constrain the runaway yolk.
A basic model for the dish at left is here. What I specifically did was saute about 2 ounces of Neese's regular sausage in a saute pan, then added about a half a small sliced onion. I de-stemmed and rinsed a huge handful of spinach, added it to the not-quite-done sausage mixture, and covered the pan until the spinach wilted.
Meanwhile I sliced a couple of pieces of my "corn bread" from a few days ago, and cut a large hole in one piece. (I ate the cut-out.) I put the second piece in the toaster, and buttered the holed piece. I also broke an egg into a cup, and seasoned it.
I seasoned the spinach/sausage/onion mixture, drove off some water by taking the lid off, and put the mixture down as a bed on a warmed plate. I put the holed piece of bread down in the same skillet and browned/toasted one side. Then I turned it over, added some butter to the pan inside the hole, and poured the egg into the hole. After I thought the egg and bread could stand flipping, I flipped it again to get the top part of the egg done. I then carefully removed the bread with its nestled egg, and plated it atop my spinach. I decorated the whole with a few strips of nasty American cheese -- god knows we wouldn't want this to be too fancy -- and put the pan lid over the plate briefly to help the cheese melt.
This was better than I thought it was going to be, and tasted more like something I'd expect to find in a restaurant than at home. That might be because I almost never have fresh spinach around the house, lest it fall prey to Single Person Vegetable Syndrome (I'll put up a definition for that later). At least it made me feel better about having eggs, sausage, and toast for breakfast, because I got some fresh vegetables along with it. :) Anyway, voilà: now you have a model for a cute, quick brunch dish.
Maybe this NYT video will give Jim Lahey the attention he deserves:
One might notice that my technique has diverged significantly from Lahey's by now. It looks like Lahey gets better rise than I do too. There are some other differences, like he's using 500 degrees instead of 450. In my mind, some of these differences speak not to any errors, but to how robust the recipe is.
So, if you haven't done this yet, or have any fear of screwing up, perhaps this short video clip will ease your mind and get you baking.
Several months ago I posted to this blog about my fear of food. (Yes, I know that doesn't make any sense, but there you have it.) Some of that post concerned food/health issues and poor information about them, but something I mostly left out was how I just wasn't cooking much at home. (See previous parenthetical statement.) I go out to eat a lot, which is great for busy people, lazy people, and sensation seekers. Unfortunately, it's not good for most people's waistlines or pocketbooks, nor does it save so much time as we want it to. But what's really bad about it is when it isolates us even further from food.
People who eat out all the time have no idea what goes into their food, or how to prepare it. Food is important: We all have to eat. Eating is a foundation of health. Food can be a great source of pleasure. Dining can be a linchpin of our family and social lives. And, when you put a piece of food in your mouth, it's an act of trust: is this food going to nourish me, or make me sick? Clearly food is is important. Is it good for us not to know anything about it? Where do I buy it? How do I prepare it safely? How can I give nourishment and pleasure with it? How can I make a pleasant meal with others? Now, I have to admit that being in a position where one can debate the relative merits of dining out versus cooking at home is not such a bad problem to have. However, I bet it's one that most readers of this blog consider daily.
So, even though I both like to cook and go out to eat, I was glad several months ago to find something that got me cooking more at home.
These books have changed the way I cook in the kitchen: What I cook, when I cook, how often I cook (more often, if that's not obvious) how I feel about what I've cooked.... I'm not sure I know where to stop. But like I said, I'm cooking more at home, which is what I wanted.
My first exposure to Mark Bittman was through his TV show. And, honestly, while I liked it, Bittman got on my nerves a little bit. To make some unfair generalizations, he seemed like another slightly rude, know-it-all New Yorker. But even though Bittman sometimes got on my nerves, I watched the show. And I stupidly never made any connection between the show and the books. I'd seen the books, especially How to Cook Everything, everywhere. I was a little disturbed by their commonality. And so I never picked one up. But one day, I was petsitting for someone, and picked up The Best Recipes in the World because it was the only book within sight. Within a few minutes, I not only decided I liked the book, but also made the connection to the TV show. I also realized that Bittman comes across in print as someone who is really trying to help his readers -- really trying to give them what he thinks are the important parts about cooking.
I bought both of the above books within a few days. They're very meaty: a thousand recipes or more in each of them. Despite their size, they're concise: he doesn't waste a lot of time or column-inches on anything not important to his mission (no big glossy photos or boatloads of whitespace -- sorry). They're good: I've made several recipes out of both, and had very few misses. The recipes are generally easy: Bittman's whole philosophy is that he doesn't want to waste a lot of time on complicated technique, hard-to-find ingredients, or expensive equipment. And the books are encyclopedic: The first one is a damn good introduction to American cuisine: what we eat and how to cook it, simply. The second one runs all over the globe, picking up Bittman's favorites from everywhere. The recipes in the second are not arranged by area or cuisine, but by food and cooking method. This way of constructing a cookbook is hard to pull off, but Bittman does a really good job. HTCE was supposedly dubbed a more hip Joy of Cooking by someone at the Washington Post, and it really is. By the way, Joy never really did flip my switch, but with these two books, Bittman has, in a way no one has done since Julia Child.
Since I started using these books, they may have become the most important day-to-day books in my kitchen. If I want to make something, but have no idea where to start, I'll start looking in them. I've repeatedly recommended them to others, and even bought a few copies for friends. Everyone seems to like them. If they don't flip your switch like they did mine -- well, everyone is different. But if you're in the market for a cookbook for yourself or for a friend, take a look at these. I bet you'll be pleased.
(For related posts, please see the JLMBBC section.)
I'm sure you're all dying to know what I've been doing in the copious free time I've had since being laid off from the abattoir and wrecking my truck. Answer: I've been baking bread. A lot of bread. Maybe a half-dozen loaves in the past week. And it's good bread: boule-like objects that come out crusty-hot, with an audibly shattering crust that flies off when cut with a knife. Do I have some fancy, steam-injected oven to get that crust? Or perhaps I'm throwing ice cubes in a pre-heated cast iron skillet in the bottom of the oven?
Nope. I'm just dumping the dough in a big pot. And I'm not kneading either. In fact, I'm not going to much work per loaf at all. And I'm not the only one making this good, low-work bread. Boatloads of people across the country are cooking this bread, and busily tweaking the recipe to get the bread they want out of simple ingredients and equipment they probably already have.
Can you do this? Well, yes. Is it hard? No. Do I have the stuff I need? Probably. Do you have flour, water, yeast, salt, a big bowl, and (this is key) a big pot with a lid that will go in the oven? If you don't already have that big pot, I bet you can get one cheaply. I saw something appropriate a few days ago in a discount grocery store for about $18, or you can use that monstrously expensive heavy Le Creuset dutch oven too. Just make sure the handle won't melt in the oven.
Don't want to go read? Ok, but before you start, be aware that the rise time for this bread is between 12 and 18 hours, so you're looking at an overnight project. Don't be discouraged. Just start cooking.
There. Wasn't that fun? If you want tweaking guidelines, I'd suggest reading Bittman's second article above, entitled "No Kneading, but Some Fine-Tuning." If I were a true professional, I'd give you my own guidelines for tweaking and the like. But I'm gonna go eat some bread instead. ;)
My post-Thanksgiving post: I've made this stuffing at every opportunity I could for the past 20 years, and I still like it. It's never reached the stellar height it did the first time I made it, but it's still damn good, often better than the turkey. I've made it when there was no fowl to be seen at the meal: hey, no harm no fowl, right? :) I even leave the liver and anchovies out most times. And the best thing: I don't have to type it up this time. :) I just stumbled on it already typed up. Cook it, love it, make it your dressing. I used homemade sausage this year, which made it seem even more special. Enjoy.
Something to do: Buy a 3-pound bag of onions. Peel, then slice them all thinly (I wouldn't blame you for using a food processor here). Slick the bottom of a big, heavy fry or saute pan with a generous amount of oil (I use olive). Add all the onions and a little salt, maybe a teaspoon or so (read salt warning below first). If you can't get them all in, that's fine: cook them down a bit, then add the rest. Cook the onions down slowly, uncovered, stirring occasionally. You can cover them at the beginning to get things going faster, but uncover them once they start rendering out their water.
As the fluid evaporates, keep a closer eye on the onions. Add more oil if you want or need to. You're doing this over pretty low heat toward the end, because it's easy to burn this if the heat is too high. You should have the heat low enough that you can walk away from this for say ten minutes without worrying. This is almost effortless cooking if you do it slowly enough. It takes a couple of hours or so, but it can be done while you're doing something else. You can always slow it down more if you need to go do something else. I've even covered them and put them in a low (250 degrees F.) oven when I needed to go out for a bit. I've also stopped and restarted them.
You can add some garlic if you want.
To add even more flavor, you can add some white wine or stock after the onions are partially reduced. 1/2 cup of one or both is good. Watch the salt if you're using stock, as some stock is pretty salty. Add a little ground pepper if you want.
When you think you can't possibly render any more water out, you're done. You'll have less than 4 cups of onion glop, and possibly as little as 2. Put in a bowl in the refrigerator, covered. It'll keep for at least a couple weeks if you've rendered all the water out.
Now comes the fun part. When you're cooking something else, put some of this in. It's pretty concentrated, so you don't need a lot. On the other hand, it's good, so you might want to glop in a bunch. Just remember this 3 cups of glop used to be 3 pounds of onions. This stuff can save you time when you're cooking later, as long as you don't use the whole thing greedily at once.
So after leaving the carambolas I bought in the refrigerator for a week to decay, I figured it was finally time to do something with them. Sorbet is usually what I'm tempted to do with random interesting fruit, so I followed my standard sorbet procedure as outlined by Harold McGee in The Curious Cook. I washed them, trimmed them a bit, sliced them into half-inch stars, and removed the seeds. I had 500 grams -- a little over a pound -- of trimmed, de-seeded fruit. I tasted a piece: they had a wonderful floral scent, kind of like that of a really nice blood orange. The texture was pulpier than citrus -- sort of like a cross between an orange and a pear or banana. They also have a sharpness that doesn't present like citric acid or vinegar: it's less assertive, but tends to linger in the mouth. I assume this is oxalic acid, which carambolas are supposed to have in spades, like rhubarb.
Usually when I make a sorbet, I use tables in Curious Cook to figure out how much sugar to use. The ratio of sugar is important: too little and the sorbet will freeze hard as a brick; too much and it will never freeze. There was no listing for carambola. McGee says he aimed for sugar amounts in the range of 30 to 35% by weight. But how much sugar were already in the carambolas? I found that at the USDA National Nutrient Database. Ripe carambolas are about 4% sugar by weight, so I apparently had about 20 grams of sugar and about 480 grams of other stuff (mostly water of course). It seemed like I'd need about 220 additional grams of sugar. I added about 180 grams of granulated sugar and about 40 grams of corn syrup (the syrup is less sweet, and gives frozen desserts a smoother texture than sugar alone). I then dumped the whole mess in a blender and pureed it for a couple minutes.
Now a taste: still a little too much of that oxalic acid flavor. Next time, I might try removing some of the ridges on the outside of the fruit (which according to OFAC is where the largest amounts of oxalic acid are). I added a little more sugar, and also dumped in maybe 60 grams -- a generous quarter-cup -- of heavy cream. (That's why I'm calling this sherbet, as it has some dairy in it, but not enough to warrant being called ice cream.) I also added about 1 ml -- a scant quarter-teaspoon -- of orange flower water. Why? Because I had it. :) Also, the orange flower water seemed to share that floral note the fruit had by itself. I spun the whole mess in the blender a bit longer, then measured it. I had about 3 cups -- maybe 725 ml. I then added the puree to the ice cream freezer, and let it churn until I was bored (about 45 minutes). I then put the nascent sherbet in another container. where it resides. So I'll go have a taste....
Not bad. It has a fruity flavor, yet one that is very clean. It retains most of its floral character, which is a nice surprise. It's a little soft, but it might freeze harder in a real freezer instead of the dinky freezer section of my household refrigerator. It's plenty sweet, too, so maybe I should have added less than the cup or so I used. The tart/bitter oxalic acid taste has retreated somewhat, but I no longer trust myself to evaluate that -- I'll let some friends try it.
Buy a ham, take the bone out, and stuff the hollow with sausage. Tie the ham back up with strips of bacon around the whole thing. Batter and crumb it lightly, then deep fry the whole damn thing.
While running around on the Web, I bumped into this interview with Thomas Keller, chef/owner of the French Laundry, which is arguably the best restaurant on the continent. Powell's, an independent bookstore in Oregon, interviewed Keller about his restaurants, his training, and his French Laundry Cookbook, which you can of course purchase from Powell's. :)
I've added a new category named "Experiments": there are often things I do, and occasionally write up, that I'm not exactly comfortable labeling "Recipes." Maybe I didn't know what the hell I was doing, or I'd never done it before, or it just seemed like an adventure. I'd like a better description than "Experiments,"; lemme know if you think of one. And be sure to look at Experiments when looking for recipes. ;)
I've made this eggplant dip over and over again for parties, and it never fails to be a hit. It's particularly pleasing to garlic lovers. I sometimes call it "eggplant crap," but a nicer name is eggplant caviar, dip, or spread. Julia's name for it is "La Tentation de Bramafam," which might be impenetrable even if one does speak French. The secret: Bramafam was the estate of Simone Beck, one of Julia Child's co-authors for the Mastering the Art of French Cooking series. Maybe one day a recipe will be named "Eat at Joe's Temptation." Or maybe not.
I've edited this quite a bit, and added glosses. You can find the original recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume II, by Julia Child and Simone Beck. I have not asked permission before using the original recipe as a model for producing what's below.
|About 2 lb. eggplant
|Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut off green cap(s), wash, and place eggplant(s) on baking sheet or equivalent. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or more, or until soft to the touch.||It doesn't look like it, but this is the hardest part of the recipe. First, you have to find eggplant that don't look like they've been used as soccer balls. Then you have to cook them. It's tougher than it looks: I've experienced wildly varying amounts of time until the eggplant is done, even accounting for shape and size. Why? Dunno; maybe the eggplant have varying amounts of water in them? Anyway, you want some browning, but you want some eggplant left too. I stick holes in them with a fork to help the baking along. I've cut them up too, but you lose a lot of the flesh that way to char. But too much cooking is better than not enough. If you don't cook them enough, the caviar is bland and yucky. Do it right, and the eggplants come out naturally sweet and flavorful.|
2 cups (7-8 oz.) walnuts, or maybe pecans
|Grind walnuts in food processor until they resemble coarse cornmeal.||The original recipe calls for walnuts. I substituted some pecans once, and liked the taste: the pecans accentuated the natural sweetness of the eggplant. I think next time the ideal would be a mixture of the two, as too much pecan didn't taste right.|
| ¾ tsp. (or more) salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 to 4 (or more) cloves garlic, pureed
4 to 6 squirts hot sauce (like Tabasco or Texas Pete)
¼ tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger, or ¼ tsp. powdered ginger
| Add salt, pepper, garlic, hot sauce, allspice, and ginger to food processor. Blend a bit. Scrape eggplant out of skins, and add the flesh to the food processor. Mix until you like the consistency.
||You'll probably need more salt, but start here and work your way up. And even if you're a garlic-head, it is possible to get too much garlic in. Grate your fresh ginger on a Microplane (What? You don't have a Microplane! Well, go buy one; you'll thank me later).|
½ to 1 cup tasty extra-virgin olive oil
|Remove mixture from food processor and add to bowl. Add olive oil to eggplant in a thin stream, and mix into eggplant while pouring. Taste and correct seasoning, and serve it forth.
||I'm not just busting your balls here: I think food-processing olive oil makes it taste bitter. So put the mixture in a bowl, add the oil, and stir by hand. How much oil? Not so much that you have loose olive oil floating around, but enough that it tastes good. I don't usually bother to measure; I just start pouring in olive oil, mixing, and occasionally tasting. At some point I realize I've stopped tasting and started eating; that's when it's ready. :)
I usually serve this with carbohydrates for dipping, my favorite being the "Mini" size of Stoned Wheat Thins.
Another Derby Day, and the weather is fine. Just the time for a mint julep -- in fact, maybe the only time for a mint julep, ever. What? You don't drink alcohol? Not even on Derby Day? Ok, how about a nice glass of iced tea? Actually, let's have a nicely Southern glass of "ice tea," and let's add some mint. Besides, you'll want something cooling when you're standing out in the sun waiting for post time, and smelling a lot of drunks, horses, and their associated discharges.
Plentiful iced tea is one of the wonderful things about the Southern U.S. The South, pre-A.C., was (and still is) hot and humid. Asking for "tea" in most Southern homes and restaurants will get you a glass of sweetened, iced tea. Iced tea is famously refreshing: someone, either Calvin Trillin or John Egerton, described the invention of iced tea as something like a thunderclap across the Southern consciousness. Mint is not typical in "ice tea," but it makes it taste even cooler and sweeter. And if a little real Kentucky bourbon were to find its way into the preparation -- well, it's almost like being at Churchill Downs. :)
This iced tea is made using the concentrate method, which means less water to heat up, and probably a clearer tea. Feel free to boil a whole gallon of water, or make sun tea, or just follow family or local custom. A variation (Joe's Ice Tea) follows.
This is an example of tea brewed without any explicit heat source other than the sun. The food police want you to be careful because they say that the tea is never sterilized by boiling water, and the tea (perhaps even the water you used) could contain deadly pathogens. They even say throw it out if you haven't drunk it within something like three days. But I drank this tea for many years, and never experienced anything worse than Bloodflower's Melancholia, Maturin's Cysted Whelk Fluke (spleen), Delusions of Universal Grandeur, and Third Eye Infection. So drink up and enjoy!