Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Shopping Around


You may have some initial difficulties shopping in other than your neighborhood market but if you want to discover the price differences between cultures, you will need to shop around. The language barrier is sometimes a difficulty but generally, some staff member will speak enough English to help you find most things.

What one cuisine little values may command a premium price where that item is more desirable in their cuisine. An example are chicken wings, which are usually twice as expensive in an Asian market. That being said, chicken thigh meat is often on sale. Cuts of meat will vary too. Often steaks cut thin will be found at an attractive per portion cost that the standard super market. Many of the spices I buy a bought at an Indian market where the cost maybe only 1/3 of what you used to pay. Pepper and mustard seeds are such an example. Fish is great to buy in Asian markets where whole fish is a bargain.

Items I look for in Asian markets are plums, bananas, pineapple, oranges, bulk Chiles, fresh spinach, scallions, chives, broccoli, "aspirations" (Italian sprouting broccoli), avocadoes, and artichokes. These are often a bargain.

Don’t overlook fruit and vegetable stands. These often have fresher, better, and cheaper products many or most of which are organically grown. I get tomatoes, corn, red potatoes, beets, onions, and home raised free-range chicken eggs at local farms.

Milled products in my area are also available at the Old Mill of Guilford.
“The Mill produces all natural corn meal, grits and flour along with a wide range of mixes including:  Gingerbread Mixes, Muffin Mixes, Pancake Mixes, Cookie Mixes, Scone Mixes, Biscuit Mixes and Hushpuppy Mix.  The Mill’s signature mix is the Sweet Potato Muffin.”
This may be an interesting place to bring your grand children.    

Friday, June 27, 2014

Six Scoops Peach Ice Cream


As a young man, our family used to make our own homemade peach ice cream. It was a great ice cream as we had our own cow, a Danish Red (Dane), bigger than a Volkswagen.

Recently, shopping at Lowes Food, I met a man and wife team who asked if I wanted to try their home made Six Scoops Ice Cream. Immediately, I asked if they had peach. Well they did indeed. I pronounce immediately on a sample, that this was the best peach ice cream I ever had.

I came to find out it has a higher price than most commercial choices. The price however is worth every blessed cent more. Try it and ask for it.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Clams and Mussels in Garlic Wine Sauce




3 Pounds live clams (or 50-50 Clams and Mussels), washed & cleaned
3 Tablespoons butter and 2 Tablespoons good olive oil
1 cup white wine (sauterne or Sauvignon Blanc)
3 garlic cloves, minced
¾ Cup finely chopped shallots or Vidalia onions
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 Pound of pasta, if required

Start by rinsing the clams in water. If you also using mussels, clean these and remove any beards with a sharp pairing knife. Discard those that are open (dead) or broken shells. Then let clams stand covered in a bowl water for two hours to which you add a tablespoon of corn meal. Do not touch the bowl or the clams will “clam up”. You want them to open and drop any excess sand they might have, and additionally, they may be full of salt water which otherwise will make the dish too salty. Do not skip this step. After two, hour rise with cold water twice.
Preheat the oven to 170 F and put your serving platter in it.

Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot with plenty of surface area.  Add and heat the oil, when smoking add the clams and the garlic. Season generously with pepper (Use some red pepper too, if it pleases you.) Flip,  then cover, and cook until all the shells steam open. (Discard any that stay closed.) Remove the clams with a slotted spoon to a heated serving platter. Stick in warm oven to stay warm. Filter the broth through a very fine strainer (need to be able to filter sand) and pour the strained liquid back into the pot. Add the wine, shallots and reduce liquid on high to concentrate the flavor. Remove from heat, adding the butter. Swirl to melt butter. Taste and correct seasoning.

If serving a pasta (spaghetti or linguini), cook a pound of it al dente in boiling salted water then toss the clams, sauce and pasta together in a serving bowl.

Sprinkle with parsley.


Notes:
1.     Farmed mussels and clams generally do not contain sand but it does not hurt to soak in cold water. Additionally, since these are raised in salt water, their opening will rid some of the undesirable salt.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Chris & Jeff Cordisco Make the Best BBQ Brisket I Have Ever Had


The Cordisco brothers working with a center cut of brisket from the New York Butcher Shoppe 1 slow smoked this fabulous cut into a virtual masterpiece. One of the key factors was their choice of a thick even center piece with plenty of fat on top. The fat slow bastes the roast over its 8-hour cooking period. Chris
Center Cut Brisket
and Jeff said they use a water reservoir to help keep the meat moist. The blend they used for their rub is to be discovered. I will ask them to share more details, the wood, and perhaps the rub recipe.

Stay tunned.


Note:
  1. New York Butcher Shoppe , 3606-L Elm Street, Greensboro, NC 27455,  (336) 288-8900

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bola Chile (Cascabel)


The Cascabel chili (the rattle chili) is a member the Mirasol cultivars and grows wild on the Pacific coast of Central America and Mexico. Having a mild to moderate heat, the Cascabel is good for adding a touch of heat to recipes.   Fresh Cascabel, which is 2-3 cm in diameter, is also known as chile bola (Spanish for ball). The color of the fresh chilies varies from green to red; when dried, the color darkens. The chile has woodsy nutty flavor with slight lemon-like undertone and slight smoky taste. The heat of the dried chile is 1600 on the Dremann Hotness Scale which makes it slightly more than a Serrano (1250) Two ounces of dried chilies yields about three heaping teaspoons of ground powder. Remove stems and seeds before grinding (the seed have no heat or flavor)


2 ounces of dried Bola chile
 Blending your own rubs and chili powder allows you to uniquely flavor your own creations. The heat and variance in flavors is quite incredible.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Barbeque Chicken Leg Quarters, revised



 There are more recipes than grains of sand. . .

There is nothing unique about this recipe except for its use of a mixture of chills and spices that complement a hot sauce added after the pieces are move to a hot shelf above the direct heat of the grill. The rub is used several hour before the cooking begins.The flavor of this rub deepens the flavor and makes the final result  deliciously complex.

The recipe is for three leg quarters, which is, well enough for two servings.

Rub
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon ground coriander
1 Teaspoon garlic powder
1 Teaspoon ground Ancho chilipepper
1 Teaspoon sweet paprika
1 Teaspoon ground habanero
1 Teaspoon ground cascabel chile
1 Teaspoon ground thyme

1 Teaspoon Mapuche Style Merken Seasoning (Merquen)
1 Teaspoon MesquiteSmoke Flavoring

Taste rub once thoroughly mixed. Correct the seasoning. Dry chicken, remove any excess fat, and then rub both sides of the meat. Refrigerate, the set aside covered for two hours. Take out a allow to rest at room temperature am hour before cooking.

Place your grill (or bbq) on medium and grill on medium until colored on both sides. Baste the meat with a hot barbeque sauce (I tried Kraft’s which was excellent), the move chicken to an elevated perch or away for direct heat. Simmer on low for another 45 minutes, turning once. The chicken is done when it is very firm (internal temperature 165F)

Note:
1,  Mapuche Style Merken Seasoning (Merquen) is made from the Santiago, Chile aji cacho de cabra (in chilean spanish, the name translates as goat's dick.) Since the chile is not readily available in the US, The savoryspiceshop has blended various chiles to make this Mapuche Indian blend. La Tienda has a smokey version from Chile that contains cacho de cabra chili, coriander seeds, cumin and salt. Merken is an extremely versatile gourmet product. Its attractive copper color and delicious aromatic smoky flavour will enhance any chef s creations.
© Allen M Boatman

Elena’s Tomato Sauce with Salt Pork


The Appian Way - Early Childhood Homesite
(Sugo de Pomodori e Guanciale)  This is my favorite pasta or lasagna sauce and it is used for many dishes including spaghetti, lasagna, canneloni and manicotti. This is Elena Mantini’s recipe, my good friend who lives with her family along the Appian Way in Quaromiglio just outside of Rome. Now in her 80’s and still going strong. One of the best Italian cooks I know, Elena and her daughter Rosanna help me learn to cook when I was 12. The suauce is one of the finest because it uses the best ingredients. The contibution that salt pork or guanciale makes is a sweetness and improve mouth feel.

Sauce is for a pound of pasta
½ Diced Spanish onion
¼ cup each of minced carrot and minced celery4
3 Tablespoons of best olive oil
4 Tablespoons of double strength tomato paste
¼ Pound chopped guanciale2 or salt pork
¾ Pound of fresh seeded, peeled, ripe San Marzano tomatoes1, chopped
2 Cloves of crushed garlic finely minced
Crushed red pepper or powdered chili5
Small pinch of marjoram or fresh marjoram
Small pinch of basil or fresh basil, chopped
Small pinch of shopped rosemary or fresh chopped rose­mary
Season with black pepper and salt

Garnish with finely chopped parsley, a dollop of ricotta cheese and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano or peccorino Romano cheese.

Sauté onion, celery and carrot and crushed red pepper in olive oil with pork product until onions are translucent. Add garlic and stir. After just 1 minute, add tomato paste and a tablespoon water. Cook on high heat while stirring constantly to allow the tomato paste to caramelize somewhat before adding anything else. This gives the tomato sauce hundreds of different flavor compounds. Now add tomatoes and the rest of the spices. Cook covered thirty minutes on medium low stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Remove lid and cook on very low to reduce liquid. Correct seasoning with fresh ground black pepper. Serve over very hot pasta and garnish.

Garnish includes basil and a combination of both and Pecorino Romano for the Parmigiano Reggiano graded cheese.

Pasta choices I favor include spaghetti, fettuccine, vermicelli, mostaccioli (large penne), rigatoni (tubes), penne rigate (diagonally cut cylinders with ridges), bucatini (small tubes) and conchiglie (shells). Elena always served just spa­ghetti.                                                                                                   

Note:
1.        The San Marzano is an heirloom plum tomato with meaty insides and intense flavor. It contains a ton of sugars, acids and just the right about of pectin to make the worlds richest and most delicious sauces. Use only authentic Italian DOP certified.  (see markings below) These are expensive, about 20 cents per ounce.
2.        Guanciale has become quite popular and increasingly more available outside of Italy. Guanciale is the cured meat from the jowl (“guan­cia” in Italian) of the pig or sometimes boar. The meat is cured with salt, pepper, hot pepper and sometimes sugar for a month. After hanging for another month, the Guanciale is ready to be consumed. Guanciale is a fundamental flavor for many of the dishes of the Lazio region (Roman food) especially sauces including Amatriciana, and Carbonara. Guanciale replaces pancetta in any recipe for a bolder fla­vor. See page   for Homemade guanciale.
3.        This caramelization is a Maillard reaction (a chemical reaction between an amino acid and food sugars.) The temperature necessarily needs to be above 305 F and water retards this reaction. In Italian, soffriggere means to brown so the ingredients are also referred to as a soffritto.
4.        The combination of onions, carrots, and celery are referred to is America as the “aromatic vegetables” and as a mirepoix by the French.
5.     Chilies can add quite a lot of flavor and if you know you way around these and want the flavor, by all means use a combination of chille powders. Mapuche merkén, aji amarillo are good choice to add a bit more flavor. Do not over do it.
Marking on Real DOP Tomatoes

Elena Mantini - Master Chef