Friday, August 18, 2017

Chiles Rellenos

For me, there is no better signature dish then great Chiles Rellenos to bring Mexican cuisine to its rightful place. When served with a tomatillo sauce it is a marriage made in heaven.


Make a tomatillo sauce that is needed to serve these.

4 Large poblano chilies
Small brick of Monterey Jack cheese
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs, separated and beaten
Salt to season the flour
2 Tablespoons of lard and a cup of corn oil.
Chopped cilantro for garnish

Preheat oven to 450F. Roast chilies on cookie sheet until skin is brown and blistered on all sides. Keep oven door closed to retain heat after removing toasted chilies. Cool until you are able to touch peppers, and then peel off skin. Make a slit down one side of the pepper in preparation of stuffing with cheese. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, cut a slice of cheese shaped to fit each chile cavity. Leave seeds and stems on.

Cover a plate with tin foil. Put flour on the plate. Separate the eggs beat the yolks until pale. Wash whisk and dry thoroughly. Do not whisk the whites until ready to cook the rellenos.

Warm the tomatillo sauce on low. In a large frying pan, add oil, lard, and begin to heat. Whisk the whites to stiff peaks; mix half the whites into the yolks. The gentle fold in rest of whites. It is not necessary to make a uniform mixture. The oil should be hot. Dip two chilies in the flour and then, into the egg batter. Fry each chile not touching each other. Spoon the hot oil over the tops and edges. The turn over with 2 forks. Cook remaining chiles retaining the cooked rellenos warm on a paper towel covered plate in the warm oven. Spoon tomatillo sauce over plated rellenos and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Mexican Green Tomatillo Sauce



 I  use this sauce for serving Chile Rellenos. It brings out the flavor of that dish in a beautiful way.
                       
3 tomatillos, husks removed
½ Ripe tomatos
½ Spanish onion
1 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon lard
¼ Cup best chicken stock
Pinch Mexican oregano
1 Teaspoon sugar
Salt and black pepper to taste

Chop tomatillos, onions and fry on low in lard. When the onions clear, add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer 20 minutes. Puree to desired texture with a post blender. Reduce to thicken as sauce necessary. Correct the seasonings,

Monday, August 14, 2017

Yangzhou Fried Rice




 

Yangzhou (yang Jo) is city of east-central China east of Nanjing on the great Yangtze River. Yangzhou fried rice is a perhaps the most well known dish of the city of Yangzhou, in the Jiangsu province. The recipe was invented by Qing China's Yi Bingshou (1754–1815) and the dish was named Yangzhou fried rice since Yi was once magistrate of Yangzhou. This fried rice is one of the classic dishes served towards the end of the Chinese New Year banquet. It is lightly seasoned and devoid of soy sauce so that the rice stays white.

2 Tablespoons peanut oil

½ Cup bay shrimp

4 Cups cold leftover Jasmine white rice

½ Cup frozen peas

½ Cup diced Char Sui (Chinese-style grilled pork)



½ Cup thinly slices lap cheong Chinese sausage1

½ Cup chopped scallions plus more for garnish

½ Cup diced cremini mushrooms

3/4 Teaspoon salt

¼ Teaspoon white pepper

2 Beatened eggs cooked slowly in butter until just firm, chopped.


Place wok over high heat, add oil, stir fry sausage and Char Sui until aromatic. Add scallions and shrimp. When shrimp are orange add and stir fry rice and mushrooms. Toward the end, add frozen peas, and chopped pre-cooked egg to warm. Correct seasoning. Garnish with remaining scallions and serve.

Image from Epicurous

Notes:

1.       When buying lap cheong, look for those seasoned with sugar, rose water, rice wine and soy sauce.


 

Fake Food

Most Parmesan Cheese in America is fake as well as other “supposedly” Italian products especially most canned 'San Marzano' tomatoes. Chianti must be made in the Chianti region of Italy to be labeled as such, San Marzano tomatoes are special plum tomatoes that must be grown in Agro Sarnese-Nocerino. When they are canned, they come with a DOP emblem on the label, marking their authenticity. The real product is expensive as shipping cost is high, but the fakes are inferior and no bargain at all.





Your first clue should be price. If it is cheap then it is fake. The real products have a DOP marking to insure the real products are protected. Parmesan does not mean “parmigiano-reggiano”. The words Parmigiano-Reggiano embossed all over every square inch of the rind, as shown in the accompanying photos, must be evident.
  

San Marzano DOP Markings


 Great cooks require great ingredients but be wary, not all is as its seems. In my book and blog, I try to point out salient information for informed decisions.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Seckel Pear and Colston Bassett Stilton Cheese with Wine

Seckle Pear
An 18th-century Pennsylvania farmer (for whom it was named) is credited with introducing the Seckel pear. It is a small, rosy fruit with a sweet, spicy flavor. The Seckel's firm flesh makes it excellent for both cooking and canning. It's available late August through December. It is often called the sugar pear.
The Seckel pear is tremendously tasty and sweet and is the super-star of tasty pears.

Colston Bassett Blue Stilton is certainly one of the finest Blue Stilton you can buy. Known for its consistent high quality and the subtle salty twang brought on by the blue veining. Established in 1913, Colston Bassett has been producing one of England’s finest blue Stilton for a hundred years.
This is the simplest of deserts but certainly one of my favorites. When you taste a sweet, juicy, ripe pear or smell its aroma, it is easy to see why this fruit has been prized for thousands of years. Poets extol the pear’s flavor and beauty and artists celebrate its classic shape and brilliant colors.

Homer, a Greek poet from the eighth century BC, called pears a “gift of the gods,” and many cooks today agree. Pears are incredibly versatile. They are a welcome addition to entrees, breads, salads, appetizers and desserts and are delicious fresh or cooked in a variety of ways.
Colston Bassett Blue Stilton

Pears take on a new character when combined with cheese and wine. The flavor, scent, and texture of each pear variety enhances both wine and cheese flavors, which is why this classic trio holds a place of honor on tables around the world.


Wine choice is up to you: Suggested wine: Sauvignon blanc, Viognier, Gewurztraminer, emerald Riesling, fume blanc, Beaujolais Nouveau.





Lancashire Hotpot

Meat and potatoes are a classic combination, beloved for its rustic charm but also for its comforting heartiness. The British version of meat and potatoes called Lancashire Hotpot. This dish has everything that we crave: hearty potatoes with a golden crispy top, stewed beef in creamy gravy, and lots of onions and carrots.

2 Pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and sinew and cut into cubes
4 lambs kidneys, cleaned, trimmed, cut into quarters
1/4 Cup All-purpose flour
3 Ounces rendered lard plus more for brushing the potatoes
2 Large Spanish onions, sliced
1 Cup finely chopped celery
1 Large carrot, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
1 3/4 Cups chicken broth
8 Ounces sliced fresh Cremini mushrooms
2 Teaspoons dried herbs (sage, rosemary, and thyme)
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon Kitchen bouquet
2 Bay leaves
Salt
White and black Pepper
3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced


Preheat oven to 325°F. Oil casserole with olive oil. Heat the lard in a large frying pan.

Flour meat and shake off excess. Fry quickly on all sides until brown. Remove meat and line casserole.

Add a bit of additional lard, add sliced onions, chopped celery and carrot to pan and cook until onions begin to clear.

Place vegetables atop of meat.

Sprinkle remaining flour in frying pan and cook, stirring constantly until light brown.
Gradually pour in stock and stir until mixture comes to the boil. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper, herbs, bay leaves, Kitchen bouquet and Worcestershire sauce; simmering until sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat. Correct the seasonings1 and pour over meat and vegetables.

Place overlapping slices of potato to carpet the meat and vegetables. Salt and pepper the potatoes. Cover casserole dish with lid and place in the preheated oven.

Cook for one hour and 40 minutes or  more until the meat is tender. Turn up the oven to 400 F. Remove lid, brush potatoes with lard then continue cooking until potatoes are golden browned. Serve hot.

Notes:

  1. Correct the seasoning could include a touch of vinegar, a teaspoon of sugar, more pepper (including red pepper), some port or Madeira. The gravy should jolly well taste great!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Chinese Sizzling Rice Soup

East Garden, Stockton Calif

3~4 Ounce baby shrimp
3~4 Ounce chicken breast (skinless and boneless) (cut into thin slices)
1 egg white, beaten
2 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Cup peanut oil (for frying)
1 Quart of homemade chicken bone stock made with onions, carrots, celery, ginger, and scallions
1 Ounce sliced cremini mushrooms, sautéed
1 Tablespoon water sliced chestnuts
1 Tablespoon sliced red radishes
1/3 Cup fresh snow peas
½ Large carrot, sliced thinly on diagonal, blanched
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Shaohsing wine
1 Tablespoon Marin wine
2 Crispy oven-dried jasmine rice cakes1, fried

Mix the shrimp, chicken, egg white, and cornstarch. Let rest 10 minutes.

Bring chicken stock to a low simmer. In a very hot wok, quickly stir fry shrimp and chicken for 2 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Preheat a cup of peanut oil to 375 F in a pot, in preparation for frying the rice cakes.

Quickly stir fry mushroom, water chestnuts, snow peas, peas, carrots, Marin, salt and Shaohsing wine. Add cooked vegetables and shrimp/chicken to stock, simmer on low. Correct seasonings.

Fry two oven-dried rice cakes quickly on both sides in very hot peanut oil. These will puff up and cook in 10 seconds a side. Drain on paper towels, then, in the company of your diners, add rice to soup while still piping hot and sizzling.  Garnish with a bit of soy, diagonally-sliced scallion greens or garlic chives and chopped cilantro. Serve immediately,

Notes:
Rice cakes can be made weeks in advance and store in plastic bags until needed, Make steamed rice as normal, except use less water. Store rice in an open tray for an hour in the refrigerator, then collect and store in a covered bowl overnight. Roll out some rice ¼ thick on parchment paper. Use a wet inverted rice bowl to stamp out “rounds”. Dry these on parchment paper on a cookie sheet for an hour at 300 F in a convection oven. They must be "bone dry" before go into plastic else the will mildew. If you don't think they are dry enough, reduce the heat to 170 F and leave in oven another 30 minutes. Let air dry for 20 minutes before bagging.



Monday, May 22, 2017

Crunchy Coleslaw

The satisfying character of crunchy coleslaw comes from dicing the pieces2 as opposed to grading or merely slicing. You may also make this using some red cabbage to add color and improved nutrition. Red tastes the same but has increased antioxidants, potassium, Vitamin A and more Vitamin C.

1 Large head cabbage finely diced
1/3 Cup diced carrot or more
2 Tablespoons onion powder1
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1/3 Cup granulated sugar or less
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon each of white and black pepper
1/2 Cup whole milk
1/2 Cup Best food mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Teaspoon tarragon


Peel the carrots. Cabbage and carrots must be finely diced. I do this by hand on a large cutting board but remove the cabbage’s stalk portion by cutting it out.

Pour cabbage and carrot mixture into large stainless steel bowl and stir in other ingredients thoroughly. Correct the seasonings. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight before serving.

Note:

  1. Onion powder is made from oven dried yellow (Spanish) onions. See Ardeshir's-persian dried yellow onions 
  2. Diced style coleslaw is considered "southern style".

Ardeshir’s Persian Dried Yellow Onions

Ardeshir was the master librarian for Valid Logic in 1986. He was deeply interested in food especially his own Persian food. He taught me to appreciate the regional foods and how to shop for Persian ingredients. These Persian onions are great as a condiment for cooking such as rice, vegetable dishes, stuffing’s, dressings, sauces, soups and onion dip. The onions sweeten like raisins in the sun by this slow drying process.  It is best to do a whole lot of onions at a time as the oven is on for a long time and the volumetric yield is low. Onions reduce in volume 30:1 or more. Six whole chopped onions make a cup and a half of dry product.

Chop uniformly 6-10 large yellow onions. Set your oven on its lowest temperature. (170o F) Prop the oven door slightly open with wooden spoon. Dry onions on Teflon sheet pans on multiple racks. Turn onions over several times to expose wet onion with a spatula. Onions are done when all are a deep camel brown. They will begin to turn pink before this stage. (Five to six hours.) Store up to a year in an air tight jar.


These onions may be ground, once dried, into onion powder. Use the onion powder to make onion pastry dough or simply as a condiment. I use an old coffee mill for grinding.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Calçots (Spring Onions) in Tarragon Romesco Sauce

Romesco is red pepper pesto sauce that originated from Tarragona, Catalonia, in Northeastern Spain. The fishermen in this area made this sauce to eat with fish.  It is typically made from any mixture of roasted or raw almonds, pine nuts, and roasted garlic, olive and bitxo peppers (similar to New Mexico chiles) and/or nyora peppers (a sun dried, small, round variety of red bell pepper).


1 Slice  stale soudough bread
½ Cup toasted almonds
1 Fire roasted red bell pepper
1 Ripe tomato seeded and chopped
1 Head of roasted garlic, squeezed out
1 Tablespoon raspberry balsamic vinegar
¼ Teaspoon pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
Olive oil
White pepper
Sea salt to taste


In the spring, romesco is served with fire roasted calçots, a spring onion (Scallion) typical to Catalonia. Calçot barbecues called "calçotades", calçots are roasted over an open fire until their outer layer is charred (pictured below). The charred layer is then removed and the tender part of the onion is dipped in the romesco.

Notes
1. Calçots substitute large green onion

Thursday, May 4, 2017

St Louis Style Ribs BBQ



Baby bak ribs tend to dry out quickly are leaner, while St Louis are larger, meaty and full flavored. These are the ones you want for the fall-off-the-bone tender ribs. St Louis style ribs are spare ribs trimmed of the sternum and flap ends, leaving just the most desirable parts. In preparation, these have their membrane removed, dry-rubbed with your favorite rub, and set aside overnight to marinate. I include a smoke component in the rub but little sugar as the sugar has a tendency to burn. The key to fall off the bone tender is not to dry out the meat in the grilling phase and to allow a low slow fisnish foil-wrapped in a low oven.
St Louis Style Spare Ribs

Removing the Membrane
Each slab has a meat side and a bone side. The bone side has a membrane called the pleura covering it. It can be leathery when cooked, and, ideally, it is removed and discarded. Many butchers remove the skin or may be asked to do this. If the membrane has not been removed, you should remove it yourself. In the middle of a rack, on the bone side, insert a fork tine between the membrane and the meat. Work a finger in to help separate the membrane. Use a paper towel for a better grip; gently begin peeling it off, trying not to rip it. If patient, you should be able to pull it all off in one long strip.         

Ribs will be cooked on the upper rack of your grill not sitting over the direct heat. The grill will be lid down to keep a steady heat. Start out with just one center burner on medium high to see where the temperature will stabilize then adjust up of down as required for a correct temperature. Preheat the grill to low 220-270F. Grill ribs grill-cover down  for a total of two hours on low tuning once after first hour. After 30 minutes in the second hour of cooking, mop top of ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce. Cook 15 minutes, turn over ribs, mop this side of ribs, the finish grilling grill lid down for 15 minutes. Now that the ribs have some char and color, wrap in a double wrap of heavy-duty tinfoil. It is important to seal these so the moisture stays in while oven baking.

Pre-heat oven to 275 F.

Bake at 275 F for two hours. (You can cook longer if starting a a lower heat.) Let rest wrapped for 20 minutes, serve with one or more sauces on the side.

Mesquite and Chilies Rub

A good rub is a combination of fresh spices, seasonings and herbs. Let rest overnight, if possible, or several hours, the prep time is the same, but the depth of flavor is deeper if overnight.

Sea Salt
Mesquite Smoke Flavoring
Sweet paprika powder
Merken1 Mapuche Chile powder
Ground Pasilla Chile powder
Chile chipotle powder
Garlic powder
Black and white pepper
Onion powder
Sage
Thyme
Ground Makrut2 lime powder
Optional ground Cascabel Chile
Optional ground aji amarillo
Optional ground ancho chile

St Louis Style Ribs BBQ
















Notes:
  1. Merken is a traditional Chilean seasoning created by the indigenous Mapuche people. The local version is made from Goat’s Horn chile (aji cacho de cabra), which is mildly spicy and smoky, but not nearly as strong as chipotle.
  2. Makrut lime leaves are indigenous to Southeast Asia. Many of the trees now thrive in Hawaii. They have a citrus-like, floral aroma and impart a unique flavor. 
  3. Serve  with garlic bread and Vicky's Potato Salad

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Steve’s Fabulous Steak Sauce

The color of this sauce is a dark chocolate brown and the flavor not only outstanding on meat but promotes the meat’s flavor marriage to big red wines.  I use an immersion blender to process the sauce until very fine. If the destination includes small-necked bottles, you may want to consider a course strainer to remove any large bits, which may impede the pour ability. I think the exercise of making a sauce like this is a good one for any chef who may need more faith in their abilities. Achieving this sauce may seem almost magical. Originally, I was intending to mimic A1 Sauce, which is very good. Now, I much prefer this one as it spicier.


If making a hot and mild version, consider doubling the recipe and split the sauce before adding all of the hot pepper. The sauce is so good that it goes quickly so consider doubling the recipe.

1 Chopped onion
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 Small can tomato paste
Start with 1 cup of water (add more and sauce cooks and to adjust thickness)
2/3 Cup orange juice
1 Teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet browning sauce
1/8 Cup red wine vinegar
½ Cup brown sugar
1/3 Cup sugar or enough to correct the sweetness
½ Teaspoon of ground ginger to start (adjust to taste)
1/8 Cup lime juice (juice from two limes)
1/8 Teaspoon of ground cloves
1/8 Teaspoon of ground coriander seeds
½ Teaspoon of ground mustard
1½ Cup raisins
½ Cup orange honey
2 Cloves crushed chopped garlic
6-7 Tablespoons of tamarind paste1
1 Tablespoon ground orange rind
White pepper, black and red pepper to taste
Pinch of thyme
Salt to taste

Sauté 1 chopped onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook until onion is translucent. Add ginger and garlic. Cook 1 minute then combine tomato paste, raisins, tamarind paste, lime juice, vinegar, honey and water. Cook down, adding water as necessary, until well blended, about a half an hour. Using a hand-held post blender, blend all the ingredients finely.  Add water as necessary to thin the sauce as it thickens at this stage. Add all other ingredients and cook another 10-15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt, sugar, vinegar levels as necessary. When cool, pour the sauce into canning jars, tightly fit the lids, and sterilize the sealed jars in boiling water for an hour.  The sauce is now ready for long-term storage.  The flavor will deepen and further develop with age.

Note

1.        The paste of the tamarind in 1 pound blocks can be found in Asian markets offering Thai ingredients. Alternatively, use fresh tamarind pods, discard the outer pods, filaments, and seed pods. Softening these by boiling them in a bit of hot water which makes the paste easier to work with.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hadaegh Ardeshir Persian Shiraz Salad

Many of the Persian dishes Hadaegh Ardeshir taught me are both simple and delightful. Shiraz, Iran is one of the most celebrated cities in the world of Islam. Shiraz City booms with sophistication and has been known as the heartland of Persian culture for over 2000 years. Located in the southeast of Iran, Shiraz city is the capital of Fars Province and has an estimated population of 1,500,000.
 
Shiraz considered to be the city of gardens, due to the
many gardens and fruit trees in the city.

Chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. Sometime herbs such as Persian mint are added. This is easy, refreshing, and goes well with practically anything.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Vin205 Chevre with Orange Honey served with Purple Sweet Potato Chips



Whip the goat cheese with a scant bit of whole cream until creamy. Mix in finely diced bits of chives. Pipe cheese onto a plate dotted with fried purple sweet-potato chips. (Purple sweet potatoes will maintain their coloring, and the flesh of Stokes Purple sweet potatoes will actually brighten!)

This is from a very interesting Bistro in Winston-Salem. See my review on Yelp: Official Yelp Event: Sip Sip Hooray At Vin205 Bistro

Monday, April 3, 2017

Steve's Best Ever Lemon Meringue Pie

Meringue bakes 20 minutes at 325 F.

If this pie was any better than it is I would have to kill myself. You have to pay attention making this pie. Take the phone off the hook.

The key to a heaped meringue with a vaulted dome is that the filling be hot right out of the oven when the Meringue top is assembled. The meringue then cooks from the top oven heat, and from the bottom, from the heat of the filling. I start the filling 10 -15 minutes before the crust shell is due from the oven. When the filling is in preparation, all the ingredients for the meringue need be pre-measured; the cornstarch for stabilization of the meringue is also already prepared. You will need a small pastry brush to anchor the meringue to the crust.

Prepare and measure out ingredients for meringue topping. Separate eggs and allow them to come to room temperature. Prepare and pre-bake a bottom piecrust first. Prepare stabilization mixture (see meringue below.) 15-20 Minutes into the baking of the crust, start the filling.

Prepare and pre-bake a 9 inch bottom piecrust, in a 325 F oven. Prick the crust with a fork all over. Cover the crust with tin foil, shinny side down. Fill pie with uncooked dry beans, rice or pie weights, especially the sides. Bake 20 minutes, carefully remove weights and foil, bake 5-10 minutes more until golden brown.

Filling:
Whisk thoroughly in a medium saucepan
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter below)

Whisk and blend with:
1 1/2 cups water
Start with 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice
4 teaspoons of finely chopped or grated lemon zest
Taste and add additional lemon until just quite tart.

Whisk in the yolks of 5 eggs until creamy. ((Keep the egg whites for the Meringue))  Add room temperature sweet butter (1/2 stick); cut up in small bits to aid blending.

Whisk continuously over medium heat to a simmer then cook 1 additional minute until the filling is thick. Pour the filling into the hot shell. If the meringue is not immediately available, cover with plastic wrap to prevent a crust layer from forming. The plastic wrap may later be removed when ready for meringue topping.

Starch Stabilized Meringue

Cornstarch mixture
Prepare this first, allowing ample time for this to cool.
In a small saucepan, mix one tablespoon each of cornstarch and sugar. Stir in 1/3 cup of water. Heat on medium, stirring continuously; allow thickening into a clear paste by allowing it to boil 15 seconds. Cover, cool, and set aside.

Combine 5 egg white, 1-teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon of Cream of tartar
Beat until soft peaks. Gradually add 1/2 cup of super fine sugar. Beat until stiff peaks but not until dry. Reduce speed to slow, adding a tablespoon at a time of Cornstarch mixture until all incorporated.  Beat on high for ten seconds. With a brush, brush some meringue all around edge of hot pie crust. Use a spatula; wipe some meringue all around edge of hot pie, the heap on balance of meringue, spoon with a large cake knife to a dome. Center in middle of oven. Bake 20 minutes at 325 or until golden peaks are done.

Notes:

  1. This pie can me made as a Key lime pie using Key Lime juice. The Key lime is an Asian citrus species generally smaller in diameter and has more seeds than the common lime. The Key lime is yellow when ripe but usually available green commercially. It is more tart and and has a slightly bitter flavor. A true adult plant can be successfully propagated from wet seeds taken from its fruit.
  2. Meyer lemons are sweeter and much less acidic tasting than regular lemons.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Basmati Rice Persian Style (Tahdig style)

Throughout the Middle East, this is the rice of choice. This is a very long grained variety. In Iran and Iraq, the rice can be as long as 1/2 inch. Rice is cooked differently in these Persian regions.

Washed Basmati rice is cooked in cold water in an open pot, adding hot water as necessary (¼ of an inch above the top of the rice is the water level) until the rice is just firm, about 10 minutes after the rice has reached boiling. Then, it is drained in a colander. A thick-bottomed large pot with a tight fitting lid is used. The pot is well oiled on the inside-bottom and lined with 1/8 thick slices of potato. (Be generous with the oil.) The rice is heaped in a cone on top the potatoes and a towel is wrapped around the outside of the rice. The lid is added. The rice is then placed on an even very low heat for an hour. The rice finishes cooking slowly. The excess liquid is absorbed by the towel. Once towel is removed, fluff rice with a fork.

Persian style Basmati rice, once cooked, is then flavored in a number of ways: Adding Persian dill, sumac leaves, cooked red Zabresks (Barberries) (similar to tiny Cranberries), baby lima beans are sometimes used. Additionally, saffron in dissolved in 3 tablespoons of hot water until its bright yellow and poured over a ½ cup of the cooked rice. The cooked rice immediately soaks this up, taking on the bright yellow of the saffron, without undue effects of the excess moisture. The bright yellow rice is then sprinkled over the other rice as a flavorful garnish. The Persians are particularly fond to the crisp potato layer on the bottom of the pot – many Persians consider it the best part of this dish. The guest are always served an ample portion of the crisp layer a top the rice.

An important cooking concept is indicated in this Persian recipe. The recipe makes use of a “sacrificial layer”. The concept may be extended or any number of cooking methods where that which is used in promotion of cooking could be discarded or selected for its separating or insulation properties.

Note:

  1. Tahdig (Persian: ته دیگ‎‎, tah "bottom" + dīg "pot") is a specialty of Iranian cuisine consisting of crisp rice taken from the bottom of the pot in which the rice (chelow) is cooked. It is traditionally served to guests at a meal. Ingredients commonly added to tahdig include yogurt and saffron, bread, potato and tomato. Variations of tahdig include placing thin vegetable slices  at the bottom of the pot, so they crisp up instead of the rice. Common vegetables include potato, carrots, and lettuce. Iranians also apply this crisping method to spaghetti as well, providing a hardened base. [ From Wikipedia]

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and Sour1 Pork is perhaps the best-known Chinese-Cantonese dish. It is very popular because of the flavorsome sweet and sour sauce—the sweetness from sugar plus the tangy ketchup and sharp rice wine vinegar and with  crisp fried pork pieces. The green,optionally red bell peppers, and pineapple chunks and onions add flavor and color.

1 pound chopped pork (Boston butt)
1~2 Green bell pepper
Slices of carrot, blanched
1 whole large onion, chopped
1 can of Dole pineapple chunks, reserve pineapple juice
Peanut or corn oil
Soy sauce
3 tablespoons sherry or Shaoxing Rice Wine
1 clove chopped garlic
2 Tablespoons chopped ginger
2 Tablespoons catsup
1 cup of good chicken stock and some orange juice
2 Tablespoons sugar or 50-50 with brown sugar
3 Tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons corn starch
Red food coloring, optional
1 - 2 Tablespoons of ground California pod chilis

Marinate  chopped pork in refrigerator over night in  sherry, chopped garlic, crushed ginger and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Remove meat and set to drain then pat dry.

When at room temperature:

Heat 3 cups of oil to 375o F in a deep pot. Roll meat in corn starch. Cook five to eight pieces of meat at a time until brown and crisp. Remove with slotted spoon, drain on paper towels. Repeat until all meat cooked. Cover with a towel.

In a 2 quart sauce pan, combine 2 tablespoons of corn starch with 6 tablespoons of vinegar. Stir then add 1 cup of good chicken stock and 6 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of soy, 2 tablespoons ketchup, 1 - 2 tablespoons of ground California Pod Chilis, a pinch or two of cayenne pepper or white pepper to taste. Add reserve pineapple juice. Cook stirring until thick. Correct the seasoning. Set aside.

In your very hot wok, add 1 tablespoons of peanut oil, Stir fry onions and green peppers, a few thin wide diagonal slices of carrot. Add pineapple, hot sweet-sour sauce and all of the meat. Heat and serve on a oval plate.

Goes well with Thai jasmine rice. Garnish with cilantro and garlic chives.

Notes:

  1. Sweet and sour is a generic term that encompasses many styles of sauce, cuisine and cooking methods. Commonly used in China, it has been used in England since the Middle Ages, and remains popular in both Europe and America.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Hasselback Potatoes


Hasselback potatoes trace to Stockholm, Sweden, where the restaurant Hasselbacken first served them in the 1940s. Initially, the slices are closed but open as they cook where the edges become crisp and their center softens nicely.
http://www.bigoven.com/recipe/hasselback-potatoes/238803


Maris Pipers are the best potato for these, but any medium-sized, starchy  baking potato will also work. Flavorful olive oil is used or good sweet butter.

Hasselback Potatoes

2 medium Maris Piper baking potatoes
2 cloves garlic, sliced, (optional)
Extra virgin unfiltered first-cold pressed olive oil or clarified butter
Sea salt and white pepper
Rosemary, minced

If your potatoes insist on rolling around, shave off a small strip lengthwise so that they can sit on a flat bottom. Using a sharp knife, slice the potato thinly across, width-wise. To make things much easier, lay two pencil (or wooden spoon handles) either side of the potato as a knife-stop. Stuff thin slices of garlic (optionally) between the slices. Drizzle with olive oil or clarified melted butter. Bake for 20~30 minutes at 350 F. Add more butter or oil and sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt and white pepper. Continue to bake another for 20~30 minutes until the potato is cooked through and the edges are crispy.



 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Spanish Aioli Garlic Mayonnaise

Spanish aioli is often served with tapas, seafood or Paella. My friends like to dip vegetables in it. The blanching of the garlic tames an otherwise wild nature.

4 large cloves of blanched garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed Myer lemon juice
2 egg yolks, farm fresh
White pepper, to taste
Pinch of sweet paprika
Dijon Mustard optional, to taste
Sea salt
1 cup olive oil

Blanch garlic in boiling water for 1 1/2 minutes, then plunge cloves into cold water to stop the cooking process. Pat the cloves dry. Add minced garlic and a pinch of salt to a mini-food processor and chop fine. Add two egg yolks, lemon juice, white pepper, and pinch of paprika. Turn processor on and slowly drizzle in olive oil to make a thick mayonnaise. Correct the seasoning with extra salt, pepper, optional mustard and extra lemon juice as required and process again. Cool in refrigerator for two or more hours before using.

If the sauce breaks while making, for any reason, add an additional egg yolk and reprocess until thick.


Mostarda Ala Stefano (Mustard Relish)

This recipe was inspired by a picture appearing in the Cooking of Italy of a Cremona factory Mostarda, a Lombardy relish resembling chutney that is flavored with mustard oil. This flavor, however, was adapted from my Mango-jalapeno chutney. This is a very colorful eye-appealing mixture that can perk up a plate nicely.


Italian Mostarda is fruit with grapes preserved in syrup that gains quite a kick from a healthy jolt of powdered mustard seed, and is one of the standard condiments served with boiled meats in northern Italy. Found all over Northern Italy, the best known variation is that from Cremona (Mostarda di Cremona), which is also produced commercially. The true Mostarda is made from the grape "must" in the late fall and is characterized by the presence of candied fruit in a spicy syrup. This is somewhat different but delicious.

1 cup water
1/3 cup fine red wine vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup Molasses
1/3 cup Dark Karo syrup
Powdered ginger
1 tablespoon dry hot mustard
White pepper
Pinch of salt
Allspice
Ground cloves
Small pinch cinnamon
Chopped Dried apricots
Golden raisins
Black Raisins
Dried cranberries
Small boiled white onions (fork tender)
Oil cured pitted black olives (optional)
White grapes
Black grapes
Red grapes
Lemon juice for one lemon
Maraschino Cherries

Add liquid ingredients and spices to a saucepan. Bring to boil. Then cool to warm before combining with ingredients.

Toss in stainless steel bowl. Toss well. Wait ½ hour. Taste for seasonings. If not spicy, salty, hot, sweet, sour enough, correct seasoning accordingly. This needs to be tossed for three or more hours (overnight is good) and should be best served warm. If preparing a day ahead refrigerate but remove and return to room temperature several hours before serving with main course.

Serve at the table in decorative Italian dish. Let everybody help themselves. Goes well with paella, Italian style cured meats, steak, lamb, or pork.

Notes:
  1. I have seen recipes that claim the right ingredients or amounts are such-and-such. I venture there are no "correct" or "exact" anything when it comes to recipes that are handed down for decades or more. It is made from one or more available seasonal fruits. Mostarda di Cremona is a fruited mustard, like a chutney. It is made in Cremona, Lombardy on the River Po.
  2. The fruits can be whole, sliced or chopped, but they are usually peeled first, then simmered in sugar water.
  3. Types include: Agrumi is made from whole citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and tangerines;
  4. Mostarda di Cremona Frutta Mista is made from mixed fruits such as apples, lemons, oranges, pears and tangerines;
  5. Mostarda di Mantova is made with apples
  6. Mostarda di Milano is made with citrus fruit and cherriesMostarda di Milano is made with citrus fruit and cherries
  7. The taste combination of sweet, sour and spicy may date this back to Romans.