Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Summer Succotash

No longer just made with lima beans, today this dish is a colorful medley of vegetables, herbs, nuts and even chilies to provide a nice accompaniment for fish, fowl, or meat of your choice.
Homemade by Holman- Uses edamame

If you cannot find fresh fava beans, use shelled frozen edamame or baby lima beans. The salt pork adds both sweet and savory. If you like, try using crisp pork rinds (Chicharron1). Virtually any herb you like will add character including thyme, parsley, cilantro, chives, or basil. Nuts work well for another layer of texture; try pinenuts, pecan bits or toasted almonds. If you like hotter add favorite chilies. Crunch from uncooked bits of celery, mango or even cucumber are enthusiastically received.

1 Pound blanched fava beans, beans removed from pods
3 Tablespoons rendered pork lard
3 Tablespoons sweet butter
3 Cloves garlic, minced
½ Red bell pepper, chopped in ¼ cubes
2 Ears corn kernels
½ Small red potato, chopped into small cubes, cook until slightly browned
½ Vidalia onion (or shallots), minced ¼ cubes
3 Ounces salt pork, fried crisp, drained on paper towels
Sea Salt and pepper to taste
A chiffonade of basil leaves
Optional, sprinkle crushed red pepper
Optional, pine nuts

Blanch the fava beans in boiling water, cooking for 2 minute. Plunge into ice water, and, when cooled, remove and discard outer pod shells.

In a heavy frying pan, heat 3 lard then sauté salt pork until crisp. Remove to drain on paper towels. Now add onions and bell peppers sauté until onions clear. Add garlic and corn, precooked red potato and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the fava beans and butter, cooking an addition minute. Correct seasonings. If you like spicy, kick it up with red pepper flakes. Stir in a chiffonade of basil leaves and serve hot.

Notes:

  1. Chicharrón is popular in Andalusia, Spain, and in Latin America and other countries with Spanish influence. It is part of the traditional cuisines of Argentina.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

How to tell if Great French Restaurant

French is more than a nicoise salad and soup with bread. These are NOT a good indication of fine French cuisine. When I am looking for Great French is expect to see classic dishes that quintessentially say the chef has mastered great cuisine. I expect to eat several courses which may or may not begin with a soup or salad. Entrees are a chance for people slow down. The main course is eaten in leisure. Variety is an essential part
Of dinning. Entrees are a chance for people to relax a bit, slow down.  The main course is not eaten in a big hungry hurry. The menu should be thoughful and today are sustainable.

Gratin-Dauphinois

It is a great sign if some or many of these appear on the menu:

Quiche Lorraine

Baked Cheese Dishes

Cheese Soufflé

Onion or leek Pie

Onion Soup

Poached Eggs

Coquilles Saint-Jacques

           Foie Gras

Salad Lyonnais

Moules Marinières

Blanquette de Veau

Ratatouille

Cassoulet of duck, goose or pork

Bouillabaisse

Escargots

Confit de Canard

Gratin Dauphinois

Oeufs en meurette (a classic dish of poached eggs in divine meurette sauce: red wine mixed with onions and/or shallots, seasoned with thyme, parsley and bay leaf and mixed with a few drops of Espanole sauce.)

Ris de veau (sweetbread)

 

If none of these items appear on the menu, its time to throw in the towel. Maybe you are in Malta.

It a good sign if they have a sommelier

They must have French pressed coffee on the menu. The desserts may include Apple Tarte Tatin, Clafouti, Chocolate Mousse, or Poached Pears.



How to tell if Great Italian Restaurant

Many establishments hope to lure you in with pasta and pizza mainly because they are low overhead high profit entrees. These are NOT a good indication of fine Italian cuisine. When I am looking for Great Italian is expect to see classic dishes that quintessentially say the chef has mastered great cuisine. Here are some criteria for suspecting a superb dinner.

It is a great sign if some or many of these appear on the menu:

Carciofi Romano
Cannelloni ala Romano
Osso Buco
Veal Piccata
Animelle (sweetbreads)
Abbacchio al Forno
Spinach Gnocchi
Frito Misto

Mellanzani al Forno

Suppli ala Telefono

Branzino

Cacciucco

Bucatini all’amatriciana

Coniglio all a Cacciatore

 

If none of these items appear on the menu, I am pretty sure this is some American Restaurant that maybe mediocre or perhaps not really Italian.

 

High-end places may include:

Chianina Beef - Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Aragosta Americana

Roman Entrées on the menu are a very good sign that you should try the offerings. Some of these might be bread soup, panzanella salad, puntarelle salad, fried zucchini blossoms,

It a good sign if they have carafe of the house wine that when you taste it you are amazed at how good it is.


They must have espresso and cappuccinos on the menu. The desserts may include zabaglione, Panna cotta, and tiramisu. They should offer a digestive alcoholic drink, such as Limoncello, amaro, or grappa




Sunday, October 1, 2017

Frijoles Negros- Black Beans

A staple of Mexican cuisine  Frijoles negros are easy to make, a great side dish to any Mexican meal or a filling for black bean burritos. One cannot compare the results of homemade to those that come from a can. Black beans do not need to be soaked.



1 Pound dried goya black beans
1 Spanish onion,chopped
2 Cloves garlic, crushed
1 Teaspoon dried oregano
1 Teaspoon dried summer savory3
Optionally, Aji Dulce, chopped1
4 Bay leaves
1/2 Teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 Tablespoons flavorful rendered pork lard
2 Sprigs of dried epazote2 (6 inch long) added the last 30 minutes of cooking
½ Sweet onion, chopped finely added the last 10 minutes of cooking
Salt and pepper to taste
Added as a garnish, Chopped cilantro


Notes:
  1. Aji Dulce looks just like the fiery red habanero, but without the heat! Fruits grow to 1.5", with a wrinkled skin, just like the habanero. Retains the fruity flavor of the habanero making this pepper extremely popular in Central and South America for dishes needing that classic habanero flavor without its sometimes overpowering heat. 
  2. Epazote (akaWormseed) is an annual herb, native to tropical regions of Central and South America Its green jagged leaves emit aromas of petroleum and citrus while its flavor is pungent, lemony with a sharp finish that increases with age. Epazote is used in many traditional Mexican dishes (especially in Yucatecan dishes.) including tamales, mole de olla, salsa, traditional black beans, pinto beans and enchiladas. It is also a carminative, which means it reduces the gas associated with beans. To maximize flavor, the herb is added during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
  3. Summer savory is an herb that belongs to the mint family. It is the dark green, narrow leaves of a bush grown widely throughout Yugoslavia and the United States. Savory is one of the most versatile herbs and enhances almost every dish from soups, stews and bean dishes to succotash, cabbage and sauerkraut.



1. Aji Dulce - Sweet Chillies


Aji Dulce Sweet Habanero - A True Venezuelan Heirloom Pepper


When we mention “Aji” we naturally think of Peru the origin of many South American chiles  but today, Venezuela is supplying a seasoning pepper with a Sweet Habanero flavor. Ají dulce (South American Spanish ají, "chili" + Spanish dulce, "sweet"), aji cachucha or ajicito, is any of a variety of sweet perennial peppers found in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is most widely known in Venezuela, where it refers to a specific native variety of Capsicum chinense related to the habanero, but with a much milder, smoky flavor. In the english speaking Caribbean it is known as Seasoning Pepper and essential for a variety of traditional dishes. Taste: Sweet, spicy and pungent, absolutely delicious, with only a mild trace of heat! This is a fruity pepper with a sweet, spicy flavor without the heat.

Aji Dulce  Pepper #1


The rarer of the main aji dulce's, this variety bears flattened, pendant shaped pods that ripen to red. The wrinkled pods look like habanero's, but lack the heat. Flavor is very mild, with a little bit of heat, but with an aromatic and unusual taste that combines fruit and spice. The plants themselves bear well and are very ornamental when in fruit.



Aji Dulce  Pepper #1



Aji Dulce  Pepper #2

(Capsicum chinense) 15 seeds per pack. Looks just like the fiery red habanero, but without the heat! Fruits grow to 1.5", with a wrinkled skin, just like the habanero. Retains the fruity flavor of the habanero making this pepper extremely popular in Central and South America for dishes needing that classic habanero flavor without its sometimes overpowering heat. 

Aji Dulce  Pepper #2








Friday, September 29, 2017

Cream of Celeriac Soup


A seasonal winter soup to start a great meal.
 
The Fleming 55 Play d'eau. Beaucette Marina, Guernsey,  Channel Isls

3 Tablespoons sweet butter
1 Celeriac, peeled and cubed
1 Potato, peeled and cubed
1 Leek white section, trimmed, washed and roughly sliced
3 Shallots peeled and roughly chopped
1 Clove of Garlic, chopped
2 Cups homemade chicken vegetable stock
1 Cup heavy cream
White pepper and sea salt to taste
Lemon juice to taste
Chopped chives and a splash of Crème Fraiche for garnish

Trim the celeriac and remove the outer layer of skin. You only want the white flesh. Use caution as this root is tough and requires a sharp knife to cut it. 

Melt the butter in a large, thick bottom pot over a medium heat. Add the celeriac, leek, potato, garlic and shallots, sauté vegetables until they are starting to soften approximately 10 minutes.
Add the stock; bring the soup just to a low boil, then simmer covered until the celeriac is completely tender.
Use a post blender to smooth the soup. Reheat before serving adding cream and correct seasonings. Garnish with fresh chopped chives.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Haricots Verts French Green Beans

Haricots Verts are longer, thinner than American green bean varieties and tenderer and have a more robust flavor.

Haricots Verts are not the same as immature American green beans. They have a full green bean flavor early in their development and are tender at a thin size, unlike American green beans, which are much thicker and not tender until the latter stages of bean growth. The string bean was an ancestor of the American green bean and today these commercially grown green bean varieties lack strings.
Recipes vary, but steamed (or briefly blanched in boiling water) and sautéed in butter and garden fresh herbs (and or garlic) is common. These are also often served cold in vinaigrette.

1 ½ Pound thin green beans (haricot vert), ends trimmed                                                 
¼ Cup shallot, chopped fine                                                                       
3 Tablespoons unsalted sweet butter or 50-50 with olive oil                                        
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley                                                                          
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped thyme or lemon thyme 
2 Tablespoons chopped tarragon

Optionally, 8 ounces freshly toasted cashews  

Sea Salt and white pepper to taste                         

                                                                                      
Trim Haricot Vert, place in a bowl of cold water, place bowl in refrigerator until ready to cook (at least an hour). Steam Haricot Vert in a steamer for three minutes then sauté in butter with fresh herbs until tender. Add nuts and season to taste.