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I haven't posted about cooking in awhile.

I'm attempting vegan black bean soup today. I'm somewhat hampered by the fact that I don't like the southwestern variations on black bean soup much. Bell peppers are not an ingredient I like much, and I've yet to find one that didn't use either that or jalapenos (the bell pepper of the hot pepper family).

On the other hand, the one New England style recipe I found seems a little bland.

So. I've put the black beans on quick soak with my now usual addenda: cumin and kombu. I find that they really do help avoid too much flatulence (as does actually cooking the beans long enough). The base will have onions, carrots, bay leaf, black pepper, and, because I'm me, thyme. They'll be sauteed in avocado oil to bring out their flavor before adding the beans and water to the heavy iron pan they'll be cooked in.

To substitute for the ham hock, I'm using miso and liquid smoke. I'm debating whether to add some kale that I have in the refrigerator toward the end of cooking.

I'd also like to add a grain, but I'm afraid it would throw off the texture of the soup too much.

I'll let you know how it works.
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As many of you know, I'm a vegetarian because an illness about 18 months ago left me unable to digest meat. I can do dairy -- though not as much cheese as I'd like -- eggs are tough for me. No poultry, but for some reason I can still handle fish occasionally (like once every couple of weeks). This means that I'm basically lacto-vegetarian with a fortnightly hit of fish.

When I was a kid, I loved my mother's zucchini patties. They may have been "Depression Food" (as in the Great Depression not anti-depressant), but they were also comfort food.

As an adult, my standard meal in the evening (because it's cheap and quick) is whole grain pasta with a simple olive oil based sauce. I start with garlic or onion in olive oil, add herbs and/or spices, throw in a third of a package of broccoli slaw (or slice up another vegetable or mushrooms to go in it), add either wine, liquor, or cider to the pan, and by the time the pasta is cooked, I have a nutritious and delicious topping for it. Sometimes I forgo the alcohol and add lemon or lime, sometimes I'll use sesame oil for the cooking, but on weeknights, this is my staple meal.

Any of these can have seitan (which I especially like with mushrooms and red wine) or tofu added to the mix.

Common variations:
onion, tarragon, white wine or sherry
onion, mushrooms, thyme and/or bay leaf, red wine
garlic, thyme, lemon peel and juice, and gin (this one needs a little water added)
garlic, onion, rosemary, canned tomatoes
garlic, gin, fresh dill added after it's all cooked (again a little water -- for hard liquors I use a tablespoon or less)
onion, thyme, sliced apple, hard cider, pink peppercorns
onion, sesame oil, orange peel and juice, ginger, Cointreau

garlic, hot peppers, (anchovies, optional), for cauliflower
olive oil, mustard, and salt, for brussel sprouts


Nov. 6th, 2010 02:55 pm
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Many of you may remember that I was pretty damned sick for several days in early April. We're talking ambulance and IV rehydration and days of Gatorade and crackers.

What I don't think I've shared from this is that I am as a result a piscatarian. I eat fish -- a little bit occasionally, mostly as anchovies or sardines in cooking with the occasional plate of bivalves as a treat. I can just about handle a small piece of white fish once a month.

In other words, for much of the time, I'm functionally vegetarian. Cheese is all right. Milk, buttermilk, and yogurt are great, actually. Eggs, well, right now, I'm eating them less often than fish, and I'm not eating much fish. I try a bite of meat occasionally, but my body is NOT happy with me when I do. The smell of most meats cooking turns my stomach. Poultry is a little better: the smell doesn't nauseate me. It's no better for eating though. *sigh*

This can be awkward for a cook. I'm dreading making my first chess pies of the season because I'm not certain I'll be able to eat them.

I'm teaching myself about whole grains. Pasta, as much as I love it, can get old when it's five nights a week, so I'm learning about kasha, quinoa, bulgur, and millet. (Barley, oats and I are old friends, and I always had brown rice in the cupboard even though I don't eat it much. It's a good excuse to keep wild rice -- which I love -- in the cupboard, too.)

I want to continue to do things like cook for friends when I stay at [livejournal.com profile] eanja's, but most of the time, it's going to be new and different cooking.

So there will be more soup recipes this winter, including one under the cut. If you're used to cooking with a hambone, smoked turkey leg, tongue, or sausage, go ahead and add it. The recipes themselves will be vegetarian or vegan.

Read more... )
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Overheard remark: "I could make coffee at home, I guess. But I like it iced in the summer and I don't know how to do that."

Recipe for iced coffee.

Make a pot of coffee.
Turn off the burner/heating element.
Allow the pot to cool.
Pour the contents into a pitcher with a lid or a glass jar for storage in the refrigerator.

Serving suggestions:
Place ice in glass before pouring.
Cream and/or sugar may be added to taste.
So may alcohol.

Quick version:
Make a pot of coffee.
Place ice in a glass.
Hold a metal spoon over the glass and pour the coffee carefully onto the spoon so that it flows into the glass.

Soup recipe

Feb. 6th, 2010 04:00 pm
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1 cup Navy Beans
1/2 strip of kombu
2 Tablespoons of cumin, divided
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, divided
1/2 head of Cabbage
2 carrots
1 old apple (optional)
1/2 a large onion
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of Belgian beer (Chimay)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon grains of paradise
about 10 cubebs
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

Here's what I did.

Last night:
I soaked a cup of navy beans with the intention of making a bean and cabbage soup today.

This morning:
I drained and rinsed the beans, then I added three cloves of garlic, half a strip of kombu, and a tablespoon of cumin to them in the pot I intended to make soup in. I covered them with water, brought it to a boil, and then turned it down to a slow simmer. Let it simmer, covered, for 90 minutes. Turned off the burner and let it cool. Removed the strip of kombu.

This afternoon:
Added another 1/2 tablespoon of cumin and a teaspoon of salt to the beans.

I heated a heavy cast iron skillet and added the carrots (peeled and roughly diced), final clove of garlic (chopped), the rest of the cumin, and diced onions. I added 1/2 teaspoon of salt. As they sauteed, I ground together the other spices with the rosemary and added it to the mixture. When the carrots were soft, I added the sugar and let it carmelize for a minute before adding the beer. That cooked for about five minutes while I diced the apple and cut up the cabbage.

I put the contents of the skillet on top of the beans, added the apple, vinegar, and cabbage and covered it with water. It cooked for another 90 minutes.

eta: This is my best vegan soup to date. It really had great flavor and texture.
Am I allowed to be proud of myself?
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I had some left over fresh vegetables that I needed to use up, so I decided to make soup yesterday. It was a cold day and soup just sounded right.

I began with the standard Belgian pot herbs
1/2 a large onion, sliced
two large carrots, peeled and sliced
celery heart -- really just the pale green leafy bits in the middle. Maybe 1/4 C diced.
1 T thyme
2 bay leaves
1 minced clove of garlic
1 sprig of parsley minced
Fresh grated nutmeg -- a teaspoon
six peppercorns ground with mortar and pestle

I softened them in a mix of (2 T) butter -- it was salted because that's what I had -- and (1 T) olive oil.

To that I added the ten jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) that I had lying around. I cut them into matchsticks and added them to the softening pot herbs.

I then added 2 C of water and 1 C of skim milk. I also peeled and cubed a potato and added it after the water and milk went in.

Once it came to a boil, I turned down the heat and simmered for an hour. I added a tablespoon of sherry at the half hour mark.

It came out well, a delicate vegetable soup. Smoked salt added to the bowl really set it off.


Aug. 9th, 2009 01:31 pm
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I've been soaking chickpeas since yesterday, and I currently have them cooking on the stove. I soaked enough to make at least three lunches this week.

This is actually a fairly bland cooking since I plan to divide up the cooked total and make the actual meals later.

I'm going to try a Chickpea curry recipe that I found in one of my cookbooks. There's a simple chickpea and carrot salad with yogurt that I found online, too. I'm not sure what I'll do with the other third -- maybe mash it into a hummus.

One day, I'm planning to make a Waldorf Salad. I'll probably do a spaghetti puttanesca one night this week and make enough for two servings so I can take the other one to lunch.

I'm not used to doing this type of lunch planning, but my last unemployment check came last week and my first paycheck doesn't arrive until August 25. A friend loaned me enough to pick up a prescription that I need before the health insurance kicks in -- *gnashes teeth* -- plus a little extra in case of emergency.

My basic chickpeas
1 cup of chickpeas soaked for at least 24 hours (I don't know why chickpeas need a longer soaking than most beans, but after the last batch I made with only an overnight soak, I'm trusting my books that say 24 hours.)
1 bay leaf
1 clove
2 cloves of garlic
A few peppercorns
1 tsp cumin (I was told this would help reduce the flatulence of bean dishes. It seems to work.)
1/4 tsp fenugreek -- just because I like the taste
A length of Dulse (This one is a suggestion for fuller bodied soups. Since the liquor the beans form is part of the appeal of chickpeas, I thought it would be useful here. Rinse it before adding to the pot.)

Drain and cover the chickpeas with enough water. Add all the other ingredients. Bring to a strong boil, put on a lid, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for an hour. Add a teaspoon of salt. Cook for another half hour. If the chickpeas are still too firm, cook for another half hour and check again.

Don't add salt at the beginning, it turns the beans tough. If you can wait to salt them after they're cooked, that's best. I find I tend to add too much salt at the table if I do that.
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It's become my summer drink.

Limes are cheap in my local Safeway. Three for a dollar. So I've been making a variation on Vietnamese limeade.

First I zest the lime. Then I squeeze out all the juice. Add a pint of water and sugar to taste.

I also like the fact that the limes make my hands smell great, and the half limes that are left can go down the garbage disposal which makes the kitchen smell nice too.
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I made myself split pea soup tonight. There was a special on smoked turkey neck. It was easy, and I feel replete.

6 Baby Carrots
1 Rib Celery
1/2 an Onion
3 Bay Leaves
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Thyme
1/4 teaspoon Clove
5 Black Peppercorns
2 pieces (about 5 ounces) Smoked Turkey Neck
1 Tablespoon cider
3 cups Water
2/3 cup of split peas

Chop the celery, carrots, and onion into a mirepoix. Cook it with the olive oil and herbs until the onion is clear. Add the spices, turkey neck, and cider. Add the water and the cleaned and sorted split peas.

Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for two and a half hours. Eat.

Makes enough for two large bowls of thick soup.
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I love them. I found out how easy they were by accident.

Seriously. Cut up your root vegetables in chunks (about an inch (two to three centimeters) square). Any root vegetable you like will do. Drizzle enough olive or other oil to coat. Salt or spice if you like. I usually use a little salt, but I've also used cinnamon on turnips.

My current batch is beets and vidalia onion. I've done carrots and garlic before. Shallots with turnip is nice, and celery root and leek is very Belgian. Or you can do a turnip, carrot, beet, celery root mix and leave out the allium family all together.

Bake on a cookie sheet in a 400F oven for 45 minutes to an hour. If the chunks aren't soft, leave them in longer.
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My recipe for mashed potatoes.

Take one medium potato per person and cut it into chunks. They shouldn't be too large, but there's no need to cut them finely either. Peel them or not according to taste.

Put them in a heavy bottomed saucepan add 1/2 cup of skim milk (up to 1 and 1/2 cups for six people) and enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil and immediately turn down to a simmer so the milk doesn't scald. (Since we're not using all milk, it cuts down on the opportunity for scalding.) You may add a couple of black peppercorns or some peeled garlic to the pot.

Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Test the potatoes for doneness with a fork. If they fall apart easily, they're done. A little firmer is fine, completely disintegrating is a little overcooked. If they aren't done, recover the pot and cook another 5 to 10 minutes before rechecking, adding more water if necessary.

Using a slotted spoon, put a portion of the done potatoes into a bowl with a little salt and begin mashing. Add more potatoes and use the cooking water to moisten them until they hold together. Grind a little black pepper over them and/or add 1 Tablespoon of butter, if you like.

As you can see, this recipe, sans butter, is fat free. The flavor is nice because you're putting the flavor back in by using the water/milk mixture they cooked in. What I'm not doing is using fat free cream, fat free sour cream, or fat free evaporated milk.

I firmly believe most recipes will accept substitutions (Do not try this theory with cakes, cookies, or other baked goods unless you really know what you're doing. I'm talking about cooking not baking.). Substitutes, created by corporations and often involving something called guar gum, are an entirely different animal.

If you don't need your potatoes fat free, add a little more butter during the mashing or use whole milk instead of skim in the cooking. If you're serving them as a side dish with a kosher meal, just use water, but add a little more salt or garlic. Boiled garlic can add a buttery texture without adding dairy. And boiled peppercorns will mash.

Many of us have dietary restrictions. But I find using All Fruit (especially the St. Dalfour brand) in making fruit tarts to be superior to trying to use Splenda. There was a line in the TV show Friends, "That's what evil tastes like," to describe a fake chocolate. All I can say is, they hadn't tasted Splenda -- it's actually worse than aspartame for me.

As an example of how to do this, let me give you my peach cobbler recipe.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Make baking powder or Bisquik biscuits. The recipe here is very close to the one I use. (My cookbook with the biscuit recipe is in storage or I'd just write out my own from the Good Housekeeping Cookbook of 1964.)

Take a fairly deep casserole or souffle dish and grease it (vegetable shortening or butter according to taste). Cut fresh peaches into 1/2 inch to 1 inch chunks and put in the greased dish. I vary the size of the chunks in order to get a variety of texture.

Add 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla and 1/2 cup of peach all fruit jam to a small saucepan over low heat and melt the jam to a liquid. Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon or cardamom to the saucepan.

Pour the melted jam over the peaches. If there is not enough to cover the peaches, melt more, but don't add the vanilla or spices.

Roll out the biscuit dough. You can either do drop biscuits on top, or cut biscuits on top, or lay the rolled out dough over the top and cut a few vent holes.

Bake until the dough is cooked through, usually 20-25 minutes.
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This is the recipe I was taught by my cousin and my mother and grandmother. I've since discovered that many, if not all, other recipes create a cheese sauce to pour over the noodles before baking.

For 4 to 6 (8 if you're for lunch or a bunch of kids)

1 lb of elbows or shells, slightly undercooked. (If it says 10 minutes, cook it 8.)
1 and 1/2 cups of grated cheese (don't use orange cheese. You can get a sharp white cheddar or a strong Monterey Jack. A mix of the two is also all right.)
1 two ounce (approximate) chunk of cheese
butter to grease the pan and dot the top
Milk -- I can't even approximate this. It should be enough to half fill the dish you're using to bake the casserole.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Butter the pan you're using. It should be fairly deep, and narrow is better than too shallow. Put down a layer of noodles, add a layer of cheese. Keep doing this until the halfway point. Add the two ounce chunk, and continue layering ending with a layer of cheese.

Add milk to approximately 3/4 of the way up the side of the pan.

Bake for an hour. If you cover it, the texture will be softer. In that case, I also recommend a little less milk and uncovering it for at least the last ten minutes to get the top brown.


My cousin uses a teaspoon of sugar sprinkled on top to brown. My grandmother used bread crumbs in the top layer. I hate bread crumbs, and I think we should get away from adding sugar to things that don't need it. I just grind a little black pepper on top. My mom used a mix of cayenne and paprika. When she remembered the paprika, it was pretty good.

1 teaspoon of mustard mixed in with the grated cheese helps keep it separated for strewing and also gives a nice flavor.

You can mix a cup of cottage cheese with the noodles and cut the grated cheese in half. This variation will also take less milk.

edited to add: In my post about slow foods, [livejournal.com profile] undauntra mentioned having a macaroni and cheese made with smoked gouda. I think it sounds delicious, but I would mix the smoked cheese with another cheese, preferably a sharp cheddar, in proportions of 1/4/ to 1/3 smoked and the balance unsmoked. It might also be good as half the grated cheese in the cottage cheese variation.
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Puttanesca Sauce

The original meaning of slut was a descriptive term for a poor housekeeper. As a matter of fact, the term "slut's wool" was still in use in rural Virginia when I was in my teens rather than "dust bunny."

I mention this because the idea behind "Whore's Pasta," a literal translation of Puttanesca, is that the woman in question will only have the bare essentials in the pantry through laziness and poor housekeeping. Although I think if she's good at her work, she only has the bare essentials through lack of time.

If you order spaghetti Puttanesca in a restaurant, it will have capers, olives, and, usually anchovies in a tomato based sauce. When I think of puttanesca sauce, the huge hit of salty richness from those three ingredients is my first image.

However, the point of puttanesca is that it shouldn't require anything beyond olive oil, tomatoes (fresh or tinned), and either garlic or onion. Everything else is what's in your pantry.

Me, I love olives. [livejournal.com profile] eanja doesn't care for them, so when I made puttanesca at her place it was olive free. I have friends who hate anchovies. I'll leave it out in that case. If I don't have an onion, I'll just use garlic and vice-versa. On the other hand, I miss [livejournal.com profile] eanja's fresh herbs. I always just picked what ever looked or smelled particularly good.

So here's my basic recipe for puttanesca. Modify it to your heart's content.

Two (or more) Tablespoons of olive oil
1 or more Tablespoons of fresh herbs (I like oregano and rosemary, but I've used thyme and/or savory as well. Sage will work.) or 1 or more teaspoons of dried herbs (same list)
1 hot pepper (optional) -- use ground black pepper if you omit this.
1 onion -- I usually embrace the laziness factor and leave the chunks relatively large
1 or 2 cloves of garlic -- again, I usually just slice it
1 Bay leaf -- Told you, I liked the flavor

Put all of the above ingredients into a pan over medium heat to saute the onions to transparency. Stir occasionally and adjust the heat if necessary.

Once the onions are soft add:
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 anchovy or 1 teaspoon of anchovy paste

Stir these in until the anchovy begins to break up and the tomato paste is well distributed.

One can of tomatoes, chopped, diced, or crushed preferred. Whole is fine if that's what you have.
Clean the can with 1/2 cup of red wine.
Add a small can of sliced black olives or 1/2 cup of whole olives (preferably pitted). Green olives or a mix are also fine.
1 Tablespoon (or more) of capers -- salted are the best, I usually have the more common pickled ones in my fridge.

Stir it all together; put on a lid, and reduce the heat to a simmer.

If you put on water for boiling pasta (I like spaghetti, capellini, or linguine, but really, any pasta is fine. I also prefer whole wheat.) as soon as you begin the sauce preparation, you can have the whole meal ready as soon as the pasta is finished.

Or you can be more traditional and just let the sauce stay on a low simmer for several hours.

The sauce is excellent either way.
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There was an article recently in the food section of The Washington Post that maintained marinating only needs to take about five minutes. Apparently, whatever changes are going to occur happen very quickly. It's good to know. It's also good to know that unless you're using papaya juice, which has enzymes that dissolve proteins, it doesn't hurt to leave it longer.

I find preparing marinades and letting the meat soak overnight is a great way for a cook to anticipate the party. Beyond that, especially with grilling, preparing the marinade can be the most labor intensive part of the meal. Get it out of the way early, then only the last minute stuff will need to be done.

The Professor does a really killer Korean Barbecue marinade, but, sadly, I don't have his recipe.

The Marinade I use for meaty fish is based on "Veronique" style dishes found in French restaurants.

For two pounds of fish:
1 Tablespoon of neutral oil (light olive oil, canola, safflower, vegetable)
1 cup of sweet white wine (for those allergic to alcohol, white grape juice or white grape juice and water may be substituted)
1 to 2 Tablespoons fresh tarragon coarsely chopped or 2 teaspoons dried
Handful Seedless white grapes (optional)
1 Tablespoon of chopped shallot or sweet onion or white of one leek (optional)

This can be done with any firm fish. I especially like it with monk fish. If you cut the monkfish into chunks, it works well on skewers for shish kebab on the grill. It also works for fillets under the broiler and can be done for baked chicken.

For Two Pounds of Chicken:
This was an inspiration for a grill party we were having. We had marinated the meat in The Professor's Korean barbecue and the fish in the marinade above, but we couldn't figure out what worked for the chicken. We used boneless chicken breasts cut into chunks, again, for shish kebabs. It also works well on fish.

Margarita Marinade
1 Tablespoon of neutral oil (see above0
1 cup of lime juice
1 Tablespoon of Kosher salt
1/2 cup of Tequila
1 to 2 teaspoons of ground cumin

The cumin makes it. Really, it's good.

And if you have a grill, I recommend shish kebab parties. The meat or other (tofu, tempeh, mushrooms) gets put out in a line with the chopped vegetables. Everyone puts together his or her own skewer depending on taste. That way, no one has to eat bell pepper. *G*
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Aioli --

I hate what most chefs call aioli. They'll add chipotle peppers to it or onion compote (and who calls a compote a confit unless they write menus?).

The word derives from the French word for garlic. There are other garlic mayonaise-type sauces; rouille uses bread as a thickening agent, for instance. It's heavenly with the fish soup -- not bouillebaisse, though it's good with that too -- served all over the Mediterannean coast in France.

Aioli is communal. In the more inland parts of Provence, many towns still have a "Grand Aioli" in the middle of August. I suspect it is usually held around the Feast of the Assumption, but certainly from mid-July to mid-September these small town Grand Aiolis are the equivalent of pancake breakfasts or spaghetti dinners in US small towns.

The food at a Grand Aioli is simple. The meats are grilled, baked, or boiled. The vegetables are steamed, boiled, or raw. Dessert is either fresh fruit, fresh fruit tarts, or sorbets.

The focus is on the sauce. This is my recipe. I derived it from several sources over years of experimentation. Not all aiolis have mustard in them, but I find it emulsifies better and I like the extra flavor. I've also taken salmonella warnings to heart.

Two egg yolks (use either pasteurized eggs or bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the eggs by slowly lowering them into the water with a spoon. Time the eggs for a full minute and a half. Use cold water or ice to bring their temperature down quickly. Open the eggs and take out the still soft yolks.)

Three to five cloves of garlic -- Don't use elephant garlic. The fresher the garlic, the better.

scant 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1/4 teaspoon of white or long pepper corns

1 teaspoon lemon juice (more may be required. Fresh is best.)

1 teaspoon grated (not shredded) lemon zest (Fresh. Omit if you don't have fresh.)

1 to 2 cups extra virgin olive oil. (Some people recommend a mix of olive and other vegetable oils or using light olive oil. I don't.)

In a mortar and pestle put the salt, garlic, mustard, and lemon zest. Pound and grind into a paste. Add the egg yolks and lemon juice and keep pounding and mixing.

Add a few drops of olive oil. Bring into the mixture until emulsified. Add a few more drops of oil and mix thoroughly. Continue adding a few drops at a time until about 1/4 of the oil is gone.

Now here it gets tricky. I recommend a second person for this part.

While you continue to mix and work the emulsion, pour a thin stream of olive oil into the mixture. If the emulsion stops absorbing the oil, stop pouring and continue mixing. Return to adding a few drops at a time and then go to the thin stream stage.

Stop and taste. It may need more lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, or mustard. Incorporate the ingredients. Add a few drops of olive oil. Mix into the emulsion. Return to the thin stream stage until you have a thick, creamy mayonnaise.

No, you may not use a blender, food processor, or electric beaters. The heat effects the flavor and texture. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, finely mince the garlic and add the egg yolks at the very beginning. Use ground white or long pepper. Beat with a fork or wooden spoon. The texture won't be the same, but the flavors will still be wonderful.

I almost forgot. The aioli will need to sit in the refrigerator for at least two hours to let the flavors meld. I prefer to leave it overnight when possible.
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I got my recipe originally from the book Everybody Eats Well in Belgium. If you know Emanuelle's method for making fresh cheese and have the time, it's a great start. I generally use ricotta. It can be a dip for vegetables or spread on crackers or bread.

1 cup ricotta cheese
2 Tablespoons of fresh thyme chopped
2 Tablespoons of fresh parsley chopped
2 scallions or 1 shallot or 1 larger green onion
1 Tablespoon of vinegar (champagne, white wine, or thyme)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped radish
Chopped carrot

Mix it all together at least three hours before serving. Add a teaspoon of hazelnut or walnut oil, if you like the flavor.

Substitute buttermilk for the vinegar
Substitute lemon or lime juice for the vinegar and use lemon or lime zest instead of thyme.
Substitute dill for both the parsley and the thyme
Use truffle oil for the optional oil.
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I like Jenny Baker's cookbooks. This comes from Simple French Cuisine: From Provence and Languedoc.

Whole Orange

For every pound of carrots add an equal amount of honey and one whole orange which should be stabbed with a knife before adding it. Put in twice as much water as carrots (in other words, 32 ounces of water for 16 ounces of carrots and 16 ounces of honey.).

Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Cook for at least half an hour, but you can keep cooking for as long as you like. According to the original recipe, after about hour 5 it will turn into jam. I don't know. I've never cooked it that long.

What I do know is that people who claim they hate cooked carrots, carrots in general, or carrot shaped objects will sharpen their elbows and run over the other guests in order to get plenty of this dish.

It's terrific cold which makes this an easy, if sticky, picnic dish.
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Also a picnic food.

Prepare asparagus (sorry [livejournal.com profile] gileswench) by taking one end of the spear in each hand and gently bending it. It will snap at a natural spot. Either discard the thick end or, if you do this, save it for making vegetable broth.

Line the asparagus in a single row on a broiler pan. Liberally douse the spears with olive oil. Salt and fresh ground pepper should be applied. Put them under the broiler for three minutes if they're the very skinny Italian spears, five to seven minutes for the standard green spears, and seven to twelve minutes if they're very thick.

Set them on a platter and squeeze blood orange wedges over them. If you don't have blood oranges, squeeze any standard orange over them. If all you can find are navel oranges, mix the juice with a little lemon juice.

This was the first recipe I ever tried to redact.
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In honor of DC heat, I've decided to do picnic foods.

This can be a side salad or a main course depending on how many people you spread it around. I believe the original for this recipe came out of a Seventeen magazine circa 1981. But I could be wrong.

The original recipe called for farfalle (bow ties). I like gemelli for this, but I haven't found them in whole wheat yet. If I use whole wheat pasta, it's rotini. Spaghetti and angel hair also work, if it's a main course. Don't use shells because you can't get the flavoring to pasta ratio right on the fork.

1 pound of tomatoes. More if you are trying to get rid of some or really love tomatoes. If you use whole tomatoes, skin them and chop them. Seed them if you don't like the seeds. I use the water I'm boiling for the pasta for the skinning and add the pasta afterward. If you use grape or cherry tomatoes, cut them in half. Life is too short to peel cherry tomatoes. Put it all in a large bowl. I prefer glass or pyrex. Anything except metal is fine. (I've mixed cherry tomatoes and large, peeled tomatoes in this recipe. It's very forgiving.)

1 large bunch (2/3 of a cup of leaves. More if you like) of Basil. Chop or chiffonade (roll the leaves into a long cigar and slice through them) the basil and add to the tomatoes.

2 Tablespoons of good olive oil. Add it to the tomatoes and basil.

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Add to the bowl.

At this point you can stop and refrigerate the ingredients. I usually do that for about an hour and then pull them out of the refrigerator just as I start the water for the pasta. It isn't necessary, though.

1 pound of pasta. Prepare according to the directions on the box.

1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese.

1/2 cup of chopped walnuts.

Drain the pasta. Add some to the bowl with about a third of the mozzarella and nuts. Stir lightly and add more pasta, cheese, and nuts. The cheese should get a little stringy.

You can either serve it immediately or let it cool and chill it for awhile. I would use it within 24 hours, but I've known it to keep longer if well covered.

Substitute sundried tomatoes for some or all of the fresh tomato.
Use pine nuts, pistachios, or slivered almonds in place of the walnuts. Pecans and cashews are too bland.
Try another fresh herb -- dill is good -- in place of the basil. I would keep it to ONE herb, not many.
If you really love spicy food, a seeded hot pepper cut into rings is a good addition. Warn your guests because the acid in the tomatoes seems to enhance the burn of the pepper.
fabrisse: (Default)
Since Sunday is recipe day, consider this Sunday's post.

This is from the Time/Life series on Provincial French cooking from the late 1960s. MFK Fisher wrote it.

At the vow renewal ceremony for [livejournal.com profile] thorbol and [livejournal.com profile] moria923 on Saturday, someone asked me how long cassoulet took. When I started by saying, "I usually get up early so it will be done by 8 pm," they somehow lost interest.

Tomorrow (which will be today's post), I'll go over some of the variations I've used.

Casserole of White Beans Baked with Meats

To Serve 10 to 12

Section 1: The Beans and Sausage
4 quarts chicken stock, fresh or canned
2 pounds or 4 cups dry white beans (Great Northern, marrow, or navy)
1 pound lean salt pork in one piece
Half pound fresh pork rind (optional)
1 quart water
1 pound uncooked plain or garlic pork sausage, fresh or smoked (French, Italian, or Polish) (note: Stop and Shop makes their own sausage, and does a really nice garlic and cheese one. You can freeze them until needed if you see them available more than a week before you plan to make the recipe. Whole Foods also does some lovely sausages, and, I've even used the spicy lamb sausage called mergez for this recipe.)
3 whole peeled onions
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
a Bouquet Garni made of 4 parsley sprigs, 3 celery tops, white part of 1 leek, and 2 bay leaves wrapped and tied in cheesecloth (note: I just tie the long ones with kitchen twine and toss in the bay leaves. )
Freshly ground black pepper

In a heavy 6- to 8- quart pot or soup kettle, bring the chicken stock to a bubbling boil over high heat. Drop the beans in and boil them briskly for 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the beans soak for 1 hour. Meanwhile simmer the salt pork and optional pork rind in 1 quart of water for 15 minutes; drain and set aside.
With the point of a sharp knife, pierce 5 or 6 holes in the sausage (note: prod it twice with a fork, it's faster and the holes are smaller and more evenly spaced.); then add the sausage, salt pork and pork rind to the beans. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming the top of scum. (note: This is one step that I don't know how to explain to you. You can't hear scum, and you should just keep agitating the water. I've been known to ignore this step in other recipes so that might be the solution.) When the stock looks fairly clear, add the whole onions, garlic, thyme, bouquet garni, salt and a few grinding of black pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, adding stock or water if needed. With tongs, transfer the sausage to a plate and set it aside. Cook the beans and salt pork for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until the beans are tender, drain and transfer the salt pork and rind to the plate with the sausage; discard the onions and bouquet garni. Strain the stock through a large sieve or colander into a mixing bowl. Skim the fat from the stock (note: this is easiest if you chill the stock until the fat solidifies on the top -- I try to do this step the day before) and taste for seasoning. Then set the beans, stock and meats aside in separate containers. If they are to be kept overnight, cool, cover, and refrigerate them.

Section 2: The Duck
4 tablespoons of soft butter (note: it doesn't say, but I always used unsalted)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
a 4- to 5- pound duck, quartered (note: I usually go to the Chinese market. It's possible to get duck legs or leg quarters there the same way you'd get chicken legs or leg quarters at Stop and Shop -- much easier and cheaper that way. I've also just roasted a duck, let it cool, and raked the meat off with two forks.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degress. Cream the butter by beating it vigorously against the sides of a small bowl with a wooden spoon until it is fluffy, then beat in the oil. Dry the duck with paper towels, and coat the quarters with creamed butter and oil. Lay them skin side down on the broiler rack, and broil them 4 inches from the heat for 15 minutes, basting them once with pan juices and broil 5 minutes more. Then increase the heat to 400 degrees and broil for 15 minutes, basting the duck once or twice. With tongs, turn the quarters over, baste, and broil skin side up for 10 minutes. Increase the heat to 450 degrees, baste again, and broil for 10 minutes more. Remove the duck to a plate and pour the drppings from the broiler pan into a bowl, scraping in any browned bits that cling to the pan. Let the drippings settle, the skim the fat from the top and save it in a small bowl (see note above about chilling to separate fat). Pour the degreased drippings into the bean stock. When the duck is cool, trim off the excess fat and gristle, and use poultry shears to cut the quarters into small serving pieces (see note above). If they are to be kept overnight, cool and cover the duck and bowl of fat and refrigerate them.

Section 3: The Pork and the Lamb
Half pound fresh pork fat, diced
1 pound boned pork loin, cut in 2-inch chunks
1 pound boned lamb shoulder, cut in 2-inch chunks
1 cup finely chopped onion
Half cup finely chopped celery
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 cup dry white wine (note: I like a Riesling for this)
1 and a half pounds firm ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped ( about 2 to 2 and a half cups) or substitute 2 cups chopped, drained, canned whole-pack tomatoes (note: I've never used the fresh because tomatoes available in Boston in the winter have nearly no flavor. In using the canned make sure they don't have seasonings of any sort (besides salt) added in.)
1 bay leaf (note: I use 2 and a teaspoon of thyme)
Half teaspoon of salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a heavy 10- to 12- inch skillet, saute the diced pork fat over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until crisp and brown (note: the sound gets higher pitched and the sizzle is softer when it's ready). Remove the dice and reserve. Pour all but 2 or 3 tablespoons of rendered fat into a small mixing bowl. Heat the fat remaining in the skillet almost to the smoking point, and in brown the pork and the lamb, 4 or 5 chunks at a time, adding more pork fat as needed. When the chunks are a rich brown on all sides, transfer them with tongs to a 4-quart Dutch oven or heavy flameproof casserole.
Now discard all but 3 tablespoons of fat from the skillet and cook the chopped onions over low heat for 5 minutes. Scrape in any browned bits clinging to the pan. Stir in the celery and the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Then pour in the wine, bring to a boil and cook over high heat until the mixture has been reduced to about half. With a rubber spatula, scrape the contents of the skillet into the casserole. Gently stir the tomatoes, bay leaf, salt, and a few grindings of pepper into the casserole. Bring to a boil on top of the stove, cover, and bake on the middle shelf of the oven (adding a little stock or water if the meat looks dry) for 1 hour, or until the meat is tender. With tongs, tranfer the meat to a bowl. If it is to be kept overnight, cool, cover and refrigerate. Skim the fat from the juices in the casserole, then strain the juices into the bean stock and discard the vegetables.

Section 4: Assembly
1 and a half cups fine, dry bread crumbs (note: prepackaged are fine as long as they have no seasoning of any sort)
Half cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel the sausage (note: I don't bother) and cut it into quarter-inch slices; cut the salt pork and pork rind into 1-inch squares. In a heavy flame proof 6- to 8- quart casserole (or Dutch oven) at least 5 inches deep spread an inch-deep layer of beans. Arrange half of the sausage, salt pork, pork rind, diced pork fat, duck, braised pork, and braised lamb on top. Cover with another layer of beans, then the rest of the meat, finally a last layer of beans, with a few slices of sausage on top. Slowly pour in the bean stock until it almost covers the beans. If there isn't enough stock, add fresh or canned chicken stock. Spread the bread crumbs in a thick layer on top and sprinkle them with 3 or 4 tablespoons of duck fat. Bring the casserole to a boil on top of the stove, then bake it uncovered in the upper third of the oven for 1 and a quarter hours, or until the crumbs have formed a firm, dark crust. If desired, the first gratin, or crust, can be pused gently into the cassoulet, and the dish baked until a new crust forms. This can be repeated two or three times if you wish. Serve directly from the casserole, sprinkled with parsley.

(note: I do break the crust and push it in, usually three times -- every twenty minutes -- during the final baking. I like the texture better that way.)


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