Monday, February 28, 2005

Kirsch Streuselkuchen

This one is from the baking book Andrea's mother gave me last year. We've done it a couple of times and it's always good. Aside from making a half recipe, I don't deviate from the book.

One note for the future: when doing a half sheet pan of something in our oven, make sure to fill the middle half of the pan, not either side. That'll help things cook more evenly.

The syrup that the sour cherries (from TJ's) come in can be reduced down an incredible amount in order to produce a really tart, intense cherry syrup.

Kohlrouladen in Saure Sahnesauce

Last night was Rouladen night: Jon and Cati brought over Schweinerouladen and we made these Kohlrouladen, which turned out great:
For the filling:
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
paprika, thyme, marjoram, black pepper, salt to taste
a splash or two of Riesling
1/4-1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Brown the beef, adding salt, pepper and paprika as it cooks. Remove it from the pan and set aside. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and allow them to cook until they start to brown. Deglaze with a splash of wine.
Add back the beef, along with the herbs and another splash of wine. Adjust seasonings and then add enough bread crumbs to soak up any remaining liquid.
Set the filling aside.

Preparing the rolls:

Start with a head of cabbage; we were unable to find wirsing (curly cabbage?) , but savoy worked out ok. Remove the core and then throw the whole head in a big pot of well salted, boiling water for a couple of minutes. Pull the head out of the water and carefully remove as many of the outer leaves as are soft. This is the part where you burn yourself and curse a lot. Once you've exhausted the soft leaves, throw the head back in the water for a couple more minutes and repeat the process. Burning yourself is optional on this and subsequent steps.
After you've got enough softened leaves, cut away any particularly thick bits of stem from each leaf and then assemble the rolls using 2-4 leaves and a few tablespoons of filling per roll. (Andrea did this, so I don't have much detail to provide). Tie them off with 3 pieces of twine and set aside.
Heat some olive oil in a pan that can be covered and, in batches, brown the assembled rouladen on all sides. Be really careful here to not rip or otherwise mangle them.
Once all the rouladen are browned, deglaze the pan with some Riesling, add the rouladen back to the pan, and add enough chicken stock to come halfway up the rolls.
Toss in some juniper berries, a good grind of black pepper, a bit of thyme and marjoram, and some bay leaves. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45-50 minutes. After about 10 minutes, crush the juniper berries a bit to release their flavor.

Finishing the sauce:
When you're ready to serve, carefully remove the rouladen and add some cornstarch/water to the sauce. Simmer until the sauce thickens, whisk in some sour cream, and adjust seasonings.
Serve the rouladen topped with the sauce.

Making Beef Stock

This is one for the "not completely successful" files.

On Saturday I started with soup bones from Dittmers that were, unfortunately, pretty well cleaned. I roasted the bones along with carrots and celery and onions; added parsley, bay leaves, pepper corns, and water; and let the whole thing stand at just below a boil for 5-6 hours. After straining it, I let the stock cool overnight and then skimmed it.

On Sunday I brought the stock back up to a near boil and let it reduce for a couple of hours. After tasting it and realizing that it didn't have much in the way of actual beef flavor (though it was a nice broth), I added a quart of Imagine beef broth from WF and let things reduce further.

At some point I sauteed a couple of shallots, added most of a bottle of Cote du Rhone to that and reduced it by about 3/4 over high heat. I added this to the stock and let the whole thing continue to reduce. Finally, after a total of around 6 hours reducing time, I strained the stock and cooled it.

The result tastes good, but it's neither super intense nor very thick. I'm pretty sure I saw signs of a nice gelatine content at various points along the way, but those seem to have been illusory. All-in-all, this was a ton of time for a payout that seems to not be worth it. My previous experiment with just reducing the Pacific beef broth had a better flavor.

We'll see how I feel about this stuff after I cook with it.

Sunday Cook-o-rama

It wasn't quite planned that way, but somehow yesterday ended up being a heavy-duty cooking day. I'll do individual posts for a couple of these things, but here's the overall list:

  1. Beef stock (continued from Saturday)
  2. Bread (the standard multi-seed recipe)
  3. Kirsch-Streuselkuchen
  4. Insane cherry reduction
  5. Kohlrouladen
  6. Oven-roasted potatoes
This doesn't really count as cooking, but I also started drying a couple of nice ribeyes to make steak au poivre later this week.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Thursday Night: Seared Tuna with Miso-Walnut Sauce

As part of our ongoing exploration of the Trader's Joe freezer section, we tried some of their ahi tuna last night. After thinking for a bit, I decided to pan sear the tuna steaks and serve them with some wasabi and a sauce derived from Bittman's miso-walnut sauce (for greenbeans) from a couple of weeks ago. I served this with steamed broccoli and some sweet rice. The results were really, really good -- I ended up with that "all is well with the world" feeling that follows a great meal.

The sauce was (approximately):
1 1/2 inch ginger, microplaned
1/3 cup walnuts (that's all I had)
2 heaping Tbs light miso
juice of one lime
1 Tbs rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp (or so) light soy sauce

Process the walnuts in a food processor until they're very finely chopped/powdered. Add the other ingredients and process until well mixed. Add water to get the consistency you want. Let stand for a few minutes for the flavors to meld.

Miscellaneous notes:

  1. Rinsing sushi rice helps; rinsing sweet rice leads to a bit of a mess.
  2. Searing stuff always really makes me wish that the vent over our stove was more effective. :-)
  3. The tuna was surprisingly good; I'll definitely be making that a regular purchase.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Tuesday Night: Quickie Vegetable Soup

The idea for this came from an episode of Jacque Pepin's Fast Food My Way show. It's a great way to use up a bunch of stuff that's laying around in the fridge. Quantities are pretty unimportant, but here's what I used last night:

1/2 lb brown mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lb green beans, shredded
1 medium onion, shredded
3 small zucchini, shredded
2 carrots, shredded
1 quart chicken stock
2-3 oz arugula
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
Juice of one lemon
salt and pepper

Cook the mushrooms and garlic in olive oil until they start to brown. Add everything else down to (and including) the stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the other ingredients, simmer a few more minutes, adjust seasoning.

Serve with grated cheese (I used leftover manchego).

That bay leaf

Last night I added the missing bay leaf to the leftover lentils from Sunday night and simmered them for a bit.

They were good before; the bay leaf made them even better.

Monday, February 21, 2005

A different kind of hot chocolate

I believe that this preparation is closer to the French style of making hot chocolate. Andrea confirms that it's like what she thinks of as kakao. It's very good.

This should probably be made in a double boiler, but you can do it on the stove if you pay close attention.

1-2 oz milk chocolate
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups hot milk
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

Carefully melt the chocolate in a pan. Add the boiling water and whisk until the chocolate is integrated. Add the hot milk and salt and whisk well. Allow things to return to a boil, whisking frequently. Whisk vigorously (or cheat and use the hand blender), until it's nice and foamy. Whisk in the vanilla and serve immediately.

Sunday Night Mixed Bites

Yesterday I had a really hard time making up my mind what to make. I started out with the compulsion to do chicken stewed with chickpeas; that morphed into a brief plan to make Poulet Basqueaise (from Bourdain) with chickpeas on the side. Complicating things, an article in this issue of Eating Well (a birthday gift) had a bunch of cauliflower recipes, so I wanted to make some cauliflower in order to prove to myself that I don't dislike it. And then there was the longer running "need" to repeat the quick lentil dish from a few weeks ago. Add in a vote for soup, and I was having a hell of a time making up my mind.

Because the chicken would have required a trip to Trader Joe's (I more or less refuse to buy chicken at Whole Foods after their recent price increase. TJ's has perfectly acceptable natural chicken that costs half as much.), that ended up dropping off the list. So the menu was: Roasted cauliflower; Spicy glazed chickpeas; quick lentils.

Roasted cauliflower couldn't be easier: cut the head into pieces (you want the flat edges from cutting), sprinkle with salt and pepper, roast in olive oil at 450 until nicely browned, turning once. This answered the cauliflower question: I like it. :-)

I don't have much of a feeling of the quantities I used for the chickpeas, so I'm not going to pretend this is a recipe: Put some olive oil in a hot pan, add a squirt of ketchup and some thinly sliced garlic. Cook for a couple minutes over high heat until the ketchup starts to caramelize a bit. Add some cooked chickpeas (not too soft!), a sprinkle of salt, a couple grinds of black pepper, a pinch of crushed red pepper, and a pinch of B&vG spice rub. Stir together. Add chicken stock to almost cover and return to a hard boil. Let things boil over high heat, uncovered, until the liquid is pretty much gone, stirring occasionally. Total prep time is ~10 minutes and the results are great.

The quick lentils were pretty much the same as before, though I added fresh parsley (good!) and forgot the bay leaf (not good!).

Saturday Night: '30s Dinner Party

The overall menu (the first dinner menu from my grandmother's 1943 edition of Joy of Cooking) was:
Ham loaf with cooked ham
Green beans with cheese sauce
Potato boats (Cati made these)
Sour-milk (buttermilk) muffins (Cati made these)
Applesauce pudding
Soft molasses cookies (Jamshid made these)

Comments about the dishes:

  1. I liked the ham loaf, which was a bit odd. Due to the natural sweetness of the ham and the amount of carrots added, it ended up being sweeter than I expect a main dish to be. This is unlikely to become a regular feature of our dinner rotation, however I may well add ground ham to future meatloaf recipes,
  2. It's hard to find objections to green beans in a cheese sauce. If I hadn't been following recipes slavishly as part of the theme, I would have added some pimenton to the sauce.
  3. The potato boats are standard re-stuffed baked potatoes. They're good, but it turned out to be tricky to get the contents light and airy.
  4. I thought the muffins were fabulous; I was more or less alone in this opinion.
  5. The applesauce pudding tasted really, really good, but it didn't set up like a pudding at all. So it was basically applesauce texture. I liked the flavor enough that I'm going to spend some time playing with this to try and find quantities that will thicken. Last night's extra cooking (in ramekins) helped a bit, but more work is required.
  6. The cookies were good, even if I'm not such a big fan of soft cookies.
We also made some cocktails from the old version of Joy, both of which turned out well:
  1. Rickeys (with lime and bourbon)
  2. Whiskey sour (with lemon)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Wednesday Night: Fried Rice with Scallops

We had leftover rice from Tuesday, and I finally remembered that making fried rice is a great way to use up leftover rice; so last night was fried rice night. :-)

I tossed in onion, ginger, diced carrots, diced red pepper, scallops (frozen, from TJs), frozen peas, chopped dried thai chilis, and an egg.

The results were great, and everything was done quickly. Nice for a mid-week meal!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Tuesday Night Leftovers: Lentil soup and zucchini

Nothing exciting here, just some lentil soup found in the freezer. :-)

(Too bad I can't figure out how to get searching working on this blog, otherwise I'd probably have a URL for that soup.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Monday Night: Wienerschnitzel and Oven-roasted Potatoes

After Sunday night's fried-food excesstival, this was a calming way to use up the second batch of schnitzel. :-)

I prepared the schnitzel themselves as yesterday, but served them with pieces of lemon and chopped parsley (instead of the butter sauce).

The potatoes were our standard oven-roasted potatoes with Bryant St. Masala for spice.

We also had some steamed zucchini and a salad.

How can you not love a plate full of schnitzel, potatoes, and zucchini?

Monday, February 14, 2005

Sunday Night: Wienerschnitzel and French Fries

This was another one of those "we've talked about doing this for a while, let's go ahead and make it" ideas. I used the wienerschitzel recipe (with a lemon and parsley brown butter sauce) from How to Cook Meat and the fry recipe from Bourdain. Some notes:

  1. We couldn't find any veal for a price that I was willing to pay ($16 a pound is beyond my pain threshold), so I used thinly slicked pork chops.
  2. We couldn't find any big bottles of peanut oil (other than the 35 pound vat at Costco), so I used lard for the fries.

Everything turned out well, but, honestly, this was excessive, even for a Sunday night:
  1. The sauce was delicious, but using a butter sauce on schnitzel, which is already fried, is a bit too much. When we do the remaining two pieces tonight, I'll serve them with just lemon and parsley.
  2. Deep frying stuff on the stovetop is a pain in the ass. I managed to keep the mess down pretty effectively, but the whole house still smelled like frying for the rest of the night. A deep fryer, with a good filter, is really required for this task. As Andrea pointed out, the schnitzel would have been just fine with oven-roasted potatoes.

Saturday: Curried pasta salad

Damn, blogger ate this when I posted it.
Here, I'll try again.

For Kurt and Cheryl's potluck on Saturday I made a Thai-curry pasta salad. Here's how it goes:
For the sauce, combine: 1 cup coconut milk, 1 Tbs Thai red curry paste, 1 inch fresh ginger, minced, 1 Tbs fish sauce, 1 Tbs soy sauce, juice of 1 1/2 limes. Mix well and allow it to stand while you cook 1 lb of farfalle. Drain the cooked pasta and then toss with 1/2 a red pepper and 1 large shallot (both minced). Toss in the dressing, mix well, then top with 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Wednesday Night: Chicken, Snow Peas, and Pasta in Cream Sauce

This was one of my standard, midweek "too lazy to go shopping, let's clear stuff out of the fridge/freezer" meals. It turned out quite well, though I wouldn't have been sad to have a bit more acidity (white wine?) in the sauce.

1 chicken breast and 2 chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
1/2 red onion, small dice
3 scallions, thinly sliced
4 oz. snow peas, cut in half
4 cloves garlic, minced (I used sherry-pickled garlic)
olive oil
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs flour
1 cup milk
2 Tbs sour cream
some sherry (2 Tbs? 1/4 cup? something like that)
salt, pepper, cayenne, nutmeg

Brown the chicken pieces well in olive oil and set them aside in a bowl. (I should have salted and peppered the chicken first, but I forgot).
While the chicken is browning, melt the butter in separate pan over medium heat until it stops foaming. Whisk in the flour and cook until lightly browned. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the milk in small batches. Whisk in the sour cream and sherry. Add whatever liquid collected under the chicken and enough pasta water to get the sauce to the consistency you want. Hold this over low heat, stirring occasionally, until everything else is done. Adjust seasonings with salt, pepper and cayenne.
Cook the onion and scallions in the same pan until they're soft. Toss in the snow peas and stir for 30 seconds or so, just until their color darkens.
Throw the chicken and onion mixture into the sauce, grind in a bit of nutmeg. Stir to incorporate.
Serve over spaghetti.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Lest I forget

The beer from yesterday was the Tripel Reserve ale from Allagash.

Also: it's 9%, so don't go drinking a whole 750ml bottle that quickly again.

Sunday Night: Triple Corn Cornbread

I followed the usual recipe (from Big Flavors of the Hot Sun), but replaced 1/2 cup of the all purpose flour with polenta (to give it more tooth) and added 1/2 cup of frozen corn kernels.
(Those changes are to a 1/2 portion of the original recipe).

Eh, crap, here are the quantities:
1 cup corn meal
1/2 cup polenta
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup milk
4 Tbs melted butter
1 Tbs canola oil
2 eggs

Sunday Night: Chili

Yesterday I made an absurd quantity of chili to have during the Super Bowl. I'm not going to do the full recipe, because I mainly make shit up with chili, but here are some of the quantities that I know for sure:
1.25 lbs ground beef
1.25 lbs ground turkey
8 oz salami (sopressata)
2 onions
1 lb bell peppers
10 serranos
6 chipotles
2 cups dried black beans
1 quart chicken stock
1 can tomatoes
2 tbs ground cocoa

We served this with shredded cheddar, chopped cilantro, chopped red onion marinated in lime juice and salt, and sour cream. It was divine.

Sunday Bread

It's been a while, but I made bread again yesterday. I did the standard recipe with a slight variation of rolling the shaped loaf in some millet and flax seeds. We haven't tried it yet, but the loaf turned out looking really nice. :-)

Sunday morning: pancakes with caramelized apples

Saturday afternoon I made a batch of caramelized apples (using an old Bittman recipe) in order to "dispose of" some apples that we've had sitting around for a while. We had some over ice cream Saturday night, but that was kind of overkill on the butter and sweetness.

Sunday morning though, I made pancakes using yogurt (and soy milk, but I just used that because we were out of normal milk and I wanted to use it up) to make them nice and sour. These went really well with the caramelized apples.

Saturday Night: Scallops with Ginger-Lemongrass Beurre Noisette

I didn't want to do anything incredibly involved on Saturday night, and I wanted to use up some of the scallops we have in the freezer. The idea of having them with a beurre noisette proceeded to take over my brain. Of course there is a series of beurre noisette recipes in FStoS (I don't remember it, but that's probably how the idea got in my head). So I settled on a variation of the ginger-lemongrass beurre noisette recipe they give for scallops. The initial variation was due to the fact that we had bay scallops instead of sea scallops. The second variation came about because we were unable to find fresh mint, so I subbed in cilantro.

The results, fucking around with an unfamiliar recipe or no, were most excellent. I made the full quantity of sauce which is nominally good for 4 servings, but Andrea and I had no problems finishing it between us. Spooning the sauce over sticky rice was heaven.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Knife Skills

I want to save this link for later.

Hot Chocolate for Grownups

We went out for dinner last night (mmm, pizza and beer), but then I made some hot chocolate to drink while we played Die Siedler. This is a very different drink from that crap that comes in the foil packets or in a big tub with dehydrated mini marshmallows.

Per serving:
1 cup whole milk
2 Tbs powdered sweet chocolate (I used Ghirardellis)
1 Tbs unsweetened cocoa (again, I used Ghirardellis)
a "pinch" each of cinnamon, pasilla chilli powder, ground ginger, and cayenne (These quantities are completely subjective, use what seems right.)
a slug of dark rum (Meyers), optional

Put the milk in a pot over medium low heat. Add the other ingredients except the rum. Whisk well to incorporate everything. Heat gently, whisking often, until the milk is hot. Pour into pre-heated cups and add the rum if you're using it.

I thought about adding allspice or nutmeg yesterday but I was too lazy to grind any. I also think that a hint of anise might be good, so next time I may toss a star anise or two in there to steep.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Update on that Creme Brulee

On Sunday the creme brulee was a bit more "tender" than I really wanted, so I tried cooking two of them a bit longer last night by covering the ramekins with plastic wrap, putting them in a pot of simmering water, covering, and cooking for another 15-20 minutes. This firmed them up a bit, but didn't get them where I wanted.

Maybe I'd have been better off making the creme brulee with cream instead of half and half? I think I've made it with half and half before, but I can't really remember. Thus this note for the future. :-)

Wednesday Night: Pasta Auflauf

This is a lovely casserole derived from a Bittman recipe a few weeks ago for Baked Ziti. I used rigatoni instead of ziti (mmmm, ridges!), used self-canned tomatoes, and added some wine and crushed red pepper.

I love the crunchy bits on top of a nice pasta casserole, and rigatonis make for gooooood crunchy bits!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Microreview: Hukilau

Last night, for the final night of "Dine Downtown", we tried to go to Nouveau Trattoria. When that didn't work (they were closed because "regretfully I burned myself", which makes the place sound really small and personal, which really makes me want to go there), we tried Osteria. When that didn't work (1.5 hour wait for a table), we checked out and rejected Cafe Fino and Stoa (both a bit spendy), and then finally ended up at Hukilau.

Nanoreview: not a bad place for a casual, fun dinner

Microreview: The starter, spam "sushi", was fun and tasty. The poke salads were good, but I question their decision to not make the poke sauce/marinade available as a dressing. My maui onion salad dressing was good, but it overpowered the poke itself, which is dumb.
The main courses (the prix fixe deal allowed us each to try 3 things) were mixed:

  1. Grilled/fried mahi mahi: both were good
  2. Pork katsu: nicely prepared pork, but the sauce was one step removed from vile (it was like reduced A1 sauce), luckily this went well with the other sauces
  3. Chicken adobo: nice!
  4. Chicken hukilau (teriyaki chicken with sesame seeds): Good, but a bit too sweet for me (typical for teriyaki)
  5. [mumble] pork (stir-fried pork and cabbage): this was unusual, but quite good.
The bread pudding wasn't bad, but it was nothing special (and I had already eaten too much by that point anyway). I didn't try the brownie.

Other stuff:
  1. The service was standard California hurried, though our doofus waiter really upped the ante by bringing the main dishes before we were halfway done with the starters.
  2. Cocktails (hawaiian themed, of course) were good
  3. It's LOUD
  4. They were out of beer (except for bud, coors and corona). OUT... OF... BEER