yagathai: (Burger me)
Breakfast is smoked herring and hardboiled egg open-faced sandwiches on fresh-baked gluten-free flatbread, topped with fresh cream and capers.

Some days I love being me.
yagathai: (Burger me)
Pork roast: Delicious. Perfectly cooked, and my seat-of-my-pants brine was awesome. Nice and salty, tang of clove, and the mustard was just a background note that brought it all together.

Orange-chipotle sauce: My lips and tongue are burning, but in a good way. Since I was only cooking for myself, I tripled the hot peppers to made it spicy to my tolerance, not to normal human tolerance, and that was the right move. Clovey, cinnamoney, smoky, with that hint of maple that goes so well with savory. Oh so good.

Roasted brussels sprouts with bacon: After a failed trip to TJ's, where I could not find any chestnuts, I said screw it and decided to go with just brussels sprouts and bacon. Little salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon and rosemary just for the smell. It's great, but then it's brussels sprouts and bacon. How could it not be great?
yagathai: (Burger me)
So remember how I said I wouldn't cook last night? And I'd just make some condensed cheddar cheese soup out of a can?

Then I was like "you know what would be good in this soup? Roasted garlic." So I roasted some garlic. And while the garlic was roasting I was like "You know what else would be good? If I sauteed some mushrooms in garlic oil and added them to the soup." So I did that while the garlic was roasting. And before I knew it there was ginger in there too, and some crispy fried shallots for texture, and some slices of good strong pickled chorizo, and some curry powder, and...

Yeah. It was pretty delicious, though.

Also I roasted some chestnuts to prep for tonight's dinner, which I think is going to be a pork roast a l'orangeish (I'm using a recipe that [livejournal.com profile] 2muchexposition recommended to me for a smoky chipotle orange sauce) with a side of pan-roasted brussels sprouts with chestnut and bacon, and some mashed sweet potatoes (which I was going to put mushrooms in, but see above). But, oh tragedy of tragedies, after roasting came the peeling, when I discovered that all of the chestnuts were rotten! They were mouldy, through and through!

Sigh. Maybe I'll hit Trader Joe's on the way home to see if they've got any chestnuts. Otherwise, I may have to use... I dunno. I could candy some pecans or walnuts with some cayenne pepper in the sugar. Might add an interesting angle to the dish. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? What do y'all think?
yagathai: (Burger me)
The country ribs came out buttery soft and toothsome. I should have added some apples to the pot, maybe a bit more in the way of spices and, as usual, a touch more salt, but overall it was a great success (which is good for the budget, because I'll be eating it for at least another day or two). Maybe tomorrow I'll take the ol' stick blender out for a spin (hah!) and liquefy some of the veggies to make a gravy base.

The squash with the roast pork turned out... not so great, but it's about as well as I expected. I knew it was a dog going in -- the frozen squash was a nonstarter -- so I didn't waste much time fancifying it. The concept was sound, though, so maybe I'll try it again with a bit more enthusiasm. What goes well with chinese roast pork? Maybe a dusting of five-spice powder, some candied walnut and/or orange peel... Candied ginger? Or is that too much? Hm. That's something to ponder.
yagathai: (Burger me)
Baked acorn squash stuffed with chinese roast pork. I'm not too sanguine about this, since the squash had been frozen and defrosted squash always comes out soggy, but whatever. I needed to use up the pork and the squash, and it seemed convenient.

French country-style ribs, pot-roasted with prune, turnip and white wine. This is a pork pot roast recipe I adapted to pork ribs, so we'll see how it turns out.

Hmm. I bet it needs some salt. Maybe some thyme ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cinammon.
yagathai: (Burger me)
Things I learned tonight: It is a bad idea to add indiscriminate amounts of tapioca starch to mustard to try to thicken it. It really doesn't work nearly as well as one might think -- though perhaps it was my application that was faulty, and not the theory.

Also, it's a mistake to replace mustard seed with minced garlic -- the flavor is great, but the texture is all wrong.
yagathai: (Burger me)
Agenda tonight:

Do extremely overdue dishes
Scoop litter boxes
Bake ham
Make mustard
Make onion confit
Eat ham with mustard and onion confit. Maybe a side of gluten-free pasta, if I'm feeling ambitious, though it would be a shame to dirty those dishes again. I mean I'll have ham, peas, cream and parmesan, so maybe a nice alfredo? Hm.

So, recipes

Nov. 4th, 2010 12:38 am
yagathai: (Default)
I promised I'd get them up tonight. Well, technically it's tomorrow morning already, but close enough. This last weekend I served four beverages at a party that I ran in Columbus, OH:

The Fountain of Youth

Really just a variation on the Aviation cocktail, the Fountain of Youth was:

Eight parts lemonade (actually, closer to 7.6 parts lemonade, but that's the kind of crap you have to deal with when half your recipe is calculated in metric and the other half in imperial)
One part violet syrup
One part maraschino

I mixed 2 oz of that with roughly 1.5 oz vodka, over ice, and topped with seltzer and garnished with a slice of lemon.

The Ashes of Amour

This one was a bit more complex.

I took:

2 cinnamon sticks
1-1.5 teaspoons cloves
2 tablespoons culinary lavender
a 4-5 inch hunk of ginger, cut into 1/4-inch slices

and added all of that to right around 2 cups of water. I brought it to a high boil, then down to a simmer for about 10 minutes, then I removed from heat and allowed to steep for... well, until I needed it, but typically around 20-30 more minutes. All ingredients in the above portion of the recipe were measured via dead reckoning, so they may be wildly off -- I tend to play things by ear, which is why I'm such a terrible pastry cook.

I added that liquid (carefully strained, of course) to a can of Minute Maid limeade concentrate and about 36 ounces (three of the concentrate can's worth) of no-sugar-added Concord grape juice. That became my punch concentrate.

I mixed 2 oz of that with around 1.5 oz of vodka, mixed with ice and topped with ginger ale. Garnish was a slice of lime.

The English Garden

Hendricks gin
English cucumber
Mint leaf
Rose syrup

I took a 750 ml bottle of Hendricks gin, and to it I added about a foot and a half of peeled, diced english cucumber and around... 4 oz (I think? I honestly can't recall) of shredded fresh mint leaf. I let that steep, covered, for around 4 hours or so before straining out all the solids. I would have let it steep chilled and covered but did not have a fridge in the hotel room. I then pressed the solids using a makeshift press consisting of an ice bucket and a plastic bag (you can probably use a french press, or a ladle and a strainer (like you do with a bisque)) to extract as much liquid flavor as I could from them, which was added back to the gin.

Ideally I would shake this gin in a cocktail shaker with just a splash of rose syrup for color and the barest hint of floral sweetness, pour it into a tumbler and top it with seltzer, but since I lacked a shaker at the party I just poured it over ice and stirred in the rose syrup and seltzer. I garnished with a slice of cucumber and a sprig of freshly-plucked mint.

Teetotaler's Friend

The last drink I made was a booze-free punch. It was simply lemonade, plain seltzer and violet syrup (in an approximate 8-4-1 ratio), mixed with some ginger root and rosemary, decorated with edible flowers. I would like to have muddled and steeped the lemonade with the rosemary and ginger, but I had neither time nor resources, so in the end the whole rosemary sprigs and ginger slices just ended up floating in the punch. They looked festive, but the flavor wasn't exactly what I was looking for.
yagathai: (Default)

Knife porn
Knife porn

So here are my three main knives. On top you've got your Shun 7" Granton-edge santoku, who you've met before. "Granton-edge" refers to those hollows ground into the blade above the edge, which helps to keep things from sticking to the blade while slicing.

In the middle is the newest arrival, a CCK (Chan Chi Kee) 24cm slicer. Despite its appearance, it is not a meat cleaver -- the blade is thin and light, and if you use it like a cleaver to crack bones you will be very sad. It is essentially an all-purpose chef's knife, aka the "Chinese food processor". CCK makes a very sharp carbon steel knife, which means it will rust if not cared for properly.

On the bottom is a blade that's probably familiar to most of you, a ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Professional "S" 8-inch chef's knife.
yagathai: (Default)
Ah, you can see your breath outside today -- which means it's time to make stock! I can open the windows in the kitchen and have a giant pot of gnawed-over carcasses bubbling away at the stove and it will be a nice comfortable temperature in here.

In the best tradition of stock, I don't really use a recipe -- I just throw in whatever I have lying around in the fridge, freezer or pantry. Tonight is chicken stock -- three small and one large chicken carcass, lemon, rosemary, olives, raw onion, caramelized onion, garlic, asparagus stalks, more garlic, jalapeno, thai bird's eye peppers and additional garlic. I tossed in a generous helping of schmaltz, too.

Man, my freezer is suddenly so empty! Well, besides the beef soupbones, pork scraps and asparagus I've got sitting in there waiting for another night.

ETA: Oh, and bay leaf and a single stick of cinnamon, and though I'm actually fairly unsure about the cinnamon I'm hoping it adds depth without being overpowering. I'll let you know.
yagathai: (Burger me)
For dinner tonight, I think maybe a nice simple creamy risotto. Tomorrow... hm. Squash gnocchi, maybe in a brown butter sauce. But not just brown butter. Brown butter and rosemary, perhaps? Some thyme? Or the last of the basil?

What do y'all think?
yagathai: (Burger me)
Dinner tonight is scrambled eggs with garlic, cilantro and lemon confit, plus roughly equal parts ricotta cheese and plain greek yoghurt -- the dairy makes the eggs super-tender and moist. It's the yoghurt sauce I made for my chicken last week, but it actually works really, really well in eggs. I'll have to do this more often!

ETA: And a banana popsicle.
yagathai: (Default)
I have a 5 lb chicken in my freezer, frozen solid as a bowling ball made of frozen chicken.

How long do I need to leave it in my fridge for it to defrost thoroughly?

How long can I leave it in the fridge before I have to worry about the chicken going horribly wrong?

In unrelated news, dinner tonight will be tacos made from scratch. Spread the word!
yagathai: (Default)
My dinner plans fell through, and I was forced to scrounge for whatever I could find in the forgotten recesses of my fridge. Happily, I always keep an emergency steak in the freezer for just such an exigency. I cooked it with a very simple tangy garlic rub. For the side dish, I improvised a generous helping of wild yellow carrots in a spicy lavender-peach glaze. Oh, and a couple of four slices of crispy-fried bacon that I was going to use crumbled into the carrots for texture, but the carrots took a while to cook and I was weak.

The carrots were already very sweet, and so the glaze was almost gilding the lily -- but I have so much of the lavender-peach syrup leftover from the other week that it didn't make sense not to use it.
yagathai: (Default)
What to do at 2AM when you can't sleep?

Clearly, the answer is "fry all the squash in the house"*. Seriously, pan-fried courgette (aka zucchini, aka summer squash) is one of my favorite dishes of all time, and it's dead easy to make. I heart my cast iron skillet.

(*in duck fat with salt and pepper. Sometimes I throw a little rosemary in there, but tonight I wasn't feeling it)
yagathai: (Burger me)
So my tomato tarte tatin was mainly successful. I cooked the sugar a bit too much so the caramel was too thick, and it consequently stuck to the pan instead of to the puff pastry (and now I have a 10-inch cast iron pan coverered in a quarter-inch thick layer of rock hard caramel, and no idea what to do with it. I smell a re-seasoning in this pan's future!), but I managed to get all of the fruit off of the pan and onto the tart. In flavor it was nice, though I overdid it a bit on the vanilla. If I had gotten some stronger-tasting tomatoes I bet it would have been even nicer, but supermarket tomatoes are never all that tomatoey.

After all the trouble with the tomato caramel, and the labor involved in preparing the lavender syrup for the peaches (incidentally, anyone want nearly a quart of a nice lavender syrup? I have it sitting in my fridge and have absolutely nothing to use it on), and the two supermarket runs, and blanching and peeling all the fruit etc. etc. etc., I decided to shortcut things a bit and use store-bought caramel candy for the lavender-peach crisps' topping, along with pecans, oats and a little butter to hold everything together.

Big mistake. I should have made my own. It was too sweet, to gooey, too soft... I mean, it wasn't awful, but it could have been much, much better. Next time I'll either make my own caramel or use hard toffee bits instead.

Many thanks (once again) to [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy and [livejournal.com profile] trillian_stars for helping me taste-test. It's good to have neighbors.

Seriously, Philly folks, take the lavender syrup away from me. I'll never use it all. Come and get it.
yagathai: (Burger me)
OK, I owe you people a couple of recipes.

Chipotle aioli tuna salad

The dressing:
6-8 cloves garlic
2 egg yolks, room temperature
1 chipotle pepper in adobo
White wine vinegar
olive oil

Zest the lemon. Throw the garlic, the yolks, the pepper with a little attendant adobo, about a third of the lemon zest and about a teaspoon of the vinegar into a food processor. Run the processor until it's all pureed, and then with the processor still running start drizzling some olive oil into the mixture, very slowly at first and then faster as the emulsion builds. Start with about 3/4s cup of oil, check the consistency (TURN OFF THE PROCESSOR FIRST!) and if necessary, add more until you're happy. I usually end up using about 1.25 cups.

Add fresh-squeezed lemon juice, (or more vinegar if the lemon juice runs out, though it never has for me), salt and pepper to taste.

As far as assembling the salad goes, it's really simple: Throw some canned tuna into a big mixing bowl and add aoili until the salad is your desired consistency. As far as other ingredients go, I added some sweet onion and that was good enough for me, but you may want to experiment with cilantro, shallots, capers, celery, maybe some really fresh cherry tomato halves or whatever you like. I was thinking maybe some shredded carrot or even... dried cherries? Hm. I don't know about cherries and tuna, but cherries go with chipotle really well. Hmmm.

This goes great with a nice cold slice of watermelon.

The onion-pear confit... OK, here goes:

1 1/3 sticks unsalted butter
3 large sweet onions (or about 2 lbs of sweet onion)
3 leeks, whites only
3 medium pears, peeled and cored
1/2 shallot
Port wine
Red wine vinegar
Kosher salt

Slice the onions into half-rings. Slice the leeks medium-thin. Dice the shallot fine. Slice the pears.

Melt the butter in a big ol' skillet. Once it's melted and any foam has subsided, add the onions, leeks and shallots and a couple of generous pinches of salt.

Cook, covered, over medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring maybe every 10 minutes or so. It's OK if they burn a little here and there-- that adds some nice caramel flavor. It is not OK if it burns a lot, though, so be careful. You will likely have to stir more frequently at the end. At this point the onions should be translucent, a little brown but not totally reduced.

At this point, add the pears, stir well and cook for approx. 30 more minutes. Again, stir occasionally, and don't be afraid to develop a nice strong brown color. After about a half-hour add 1/3 cup of honey, 2/3 cup of port wine and 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar. Turn the heat up to high and cook until the liquid is reduced and everything is like a thick syrupy brownish-purplish sludge.

Remove from heat, transfer it to a big bowl, let it cool a little so you don't risk splattering yourself with scalding hot sticky sugar-butter. Seriously, the stuff burns and sticks like delicious napalm if it gets on you. Make a cup of tea, pick a fight on the internet with a pack of angry transsexual rights activists werewolves, whatever. Once it's cooled a bit (but it still hot, just not greek fire hot!), go to town with your stick blender until it's a nice, chunky relish-like texture. Now add salt to taste -- and while usually I tend to undersalt food, in this case it should taste just a little oversalted when it's hot because the confit is meant to be served at room temperature, which will mute the flavors a bit. THIS IS NOT LICENSE TO GO CRAZY WITH THE SALT. It should just taste a bit saltier than it would otherwise be.

Now I'm really nervous about you oversalting it. Don't do that. It's a fine balance. Be careful. Please. For me.

Cover, refrigerate overnight. Taste it in the morning and BE AMAZED!


Aug. 5th, 2010 11:25 pm
yagathai: (Default)
Oh sweet jesus the onion-pear confit I made is so good it could tempt a saint to mortal sin. I don't even know how something so delicious could have been made with my two hands. I was going to use it in a mustard, but now I don't want to waste it. I almost want to eat it with a spoon, the whole huge mixing bowl.

Like I did with the garlic-chipotle tuna salad I made today. Four cans of tuna is a lot of tuna, but it was SO GOOD you guys.


Aug. 4th, 2010 10:03 pm
yagathai: (Default)
Dinner was shrimp scampi with fennel and mint, and some pan-seared chicory in a duck fat vinaigrette. It was a little salty, but I added no salt -- it was all the shrimp, baby.
yagathai: (Default)
Made dinner for my roomate -- a trayful of pao de quiejo (happy, [livejournal.com profile] arya?) and some fish in a simple lemon-caper sauce.

Baking some pastry shells later tonight for the summer tarts I'm planning on making tomorrow. Going to hit the farmer's market bright and early to pick up some fresh basil, fresh ricotta, whatever veggies I can dig up -- hopefully they have strawberries and zucchini there, or I'll be up the proverbial creek.

I was going to candy the bacon tonight, but it's so freakin' hot in here already, just from baking the pao. I may wait until it gets dark and cools down enough before I turn on the broiler.


yagathai: (Default)

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