About Mastering and Enjoying Home Cooking. Drink, Cook, and Live Well!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Latke or Potato Pancake

Potato pancakes are fried pancakes of grated potato, flour and egg, flavored with grated onion and seasoning. Potato pancakes are topped with sour cream or applesauce. These go well with pork and may be garnished with lingonberry jam. Latkes are potato pancakes that Jews have prepared as part of the eight-day Hanukkah holidays since the middle Ages. The Jewish version may be thickened with Matzo. In Iranian cuisine, kuku sib-zamini is made with shredded potatoes, onion, saffron, sometimes garlic chives5 and sometimes cinnamon.

The starchier the potato, the crisper the latke. The Maris Piper has a golden skin and creamy white flesh with a fluffy texture. This makes it versatile and great for frying and roast potatoes. The graded onion and potato are rung out in a dry towel to remove excess water. The drier the mix, the crisper the pancake. When forming pancakes, press down to thin as pancakes as they cook faster and are crisper. Fry in batches, cook on both sides in hot oil4 until golden brown.

Preheat oven to 200 F to hold warm until serving

1 ¼ Pound Maris Piper potatoes
1/2 Cup finely grated shallots
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 To 3/4 cup peanut oil
2 Tablespoons AP flour6 or Matzo7 meal
Black pepper
Peanut oil

Sour cream, smoked salmon, salmon roe, caviar, dill and seasoned applesauce (salt, Ceylon Cinnamon).

Salt pancakes after frying, layout on paper towels, place in oven to keep warm. It is best to serve when hot.

Sprigs of dill, chives, or both

  1. Sub Spanish onion for shallots
  2. Sub russets for Maris Piper potato
  3. Sub corn oil for Peanut oil
  4. Oil temp is 365 F. Allow oil to regain its temperature between batches.
  5. Find garlic chives at the Asian market
  6. Sub Bisquick for All Purpose flour
  7. Matzo crackers are ground larger for a coarser version, or smaller, for fine meal.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Spanish omelet with Mushrooms

The star in this dish is the egg. Make sure to get good ones, free-range organic farm raised eggs are a good choice. I like to cook some crisp bacon to go with this dish.

7 Button cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 Slices red onion
1 Fresh large garden tomato, seeded then chopped
Pinch of Oregano
Pinch of thyme
¼ Teaspoon tarragon leaves
2 Teaspoons olive oil
Unsalted sweet butter
2 Jumbo eggs, beaten until uniform
Finely shredded good melting cheese (Fontina, Gouda, Gruyère, or Muenster)
Salt and pepper
Chopped chives

Heat a 7 inch non-stick fry pan. Add olive oil, red onion, slices of mushroom and a little salt. Cook on medium while tossing until mushrooms are tender. Drain in a fine strainer and reserve. Add a tablespoon of butter to pan. When hot add tomatoes, oregano, thyme, tarragon, a little salt. Cook on medium until tomatoes have reduced and are tender. Correct the seasoning. Tomato should be somewhat spicy. You may add Cayenne pepper if you want. Set aside tomatoes to a small plate.

Have your plate and a lid for the fry pan handy. Wipe you pan with paper towels. Heat the pan and when hot add a tablespoon of butter. Swirl the pan including the edges to coat the sides. Add the eggs. Swirl the pan to spread the eggs. Using a silicon spatula, work the eggs toward the middle to expose more liquid egg to the heat. Sprinkle on the cheese, reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan. Let cook a few minutes. Feel the lid. It should be hot, if not turn up the heat a bit. Once the lid is hot, remove it. Using two spatulas, fold one edge of the omelet over onto itself as to fold it in half. The eggs should be nearly cooked. When done, turn the omelet onto the plate tilted up to make easier contact with the edge of the pan. Top omelet with tomato sauce, then the mushrooms. 
Garnish with chopped chives and serve immediately.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Clams and Mussels in Garlic Wine Sauce

This is a simple preparation that in only infrequently cooked in homes. Demonstrating just how easy it is to achieve restaurant quality at home with minimal effort will encourage others to try it. I let my “student” do all the steps. This is more memorable than if you do it.

3 Pounds live clams (or 50-50 Clams and Mussels), washed & cleaned
3 Tablespoons sweet butter and 2 Tablespoons good olive oil
1 Cup white wine (Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc)
3 Garlic cloves, minced
¾ Cup minced shallots
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 Cup Italian parsley, finely chopped

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 hours, rinse 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 area2.  Add and heat the oil, when smoking add the clams and half the parsley. 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, garlic, shallots and reduce liquid on high to concentrate the flavor. Remove from heat, add remaining parsley, the shellfish and swirl in the butter. Taste and correct seasoning.

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

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.
2.     I use a 14-inch cast-iron skillet with three-inch lip. Its thickness allows a lot of heat to be stored in a preheated pan allowing the chef to flash cook a large bunch of cold clams/mussels quickly so they remain tender.
3.     The smaller the mussels and clams, the sweeter and the tenderer these will be. So if you have the chance to pick these out of the pile, cull the small ones.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Manila Clams with Black Bean Sauce

Manila clams are the sweetest and probably the smallest hard-shell clams you will find in the market, making them the favorite of many professional chefs. Manila clams need only about 3-5 minutes to steam open.
Manila clams are widely farmed in the Pacific Northwest, mostly in Washington State and British Columbia. Unlike some kinds of fish farming, clam farming poses little threat to the environment because these tasty bivalves are hatched in pens and then live their lives in the wild.
From a cooking standpoint, most Manila clams are steamed. You can certainly eat them on the half shell, but few people do for no real reason: They taste every bit as sweet as the Eastern quahogs we eat on the half shell, although Manila clams will be less salty.

Manilas are classically used in pasta and soups. If you want to mix them with other seafood, they go well with crab.

Any clams that do not open their shells while cooking  are suspect and should be tossed.

This recipe is Cantonese and is wonderful served with steamed jasmine rice on Chinese New Year.
The province of Canton, now officially known as Guangdong, is renowned for its super-fresh, subtly prepared food.

"It's the finest cuisine in China," says New Jersey-based Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, a Chinese cooking authority and author who has been dubbed the Cantonese Julia Child.

2 pounds manila clams, soaked with a tablespoon corn meal, the rinsed twice, scrubbed and rinsed again
2 Tablespoons fermented black beans, soaked in water, drained, mashed
2 Large cloves garlic, crushed, minced
1 Tablespoon peeled, minced ginger
2 Teaspoons black soy sauce
¼ Cup Shaohsing wine
1 Cup Bar Harbor or another good clam juice
3 shallots, chopped finely
1 Teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 Tablespoon oyster sauce
2 Tablespoon corn starch
1 Teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper
2 scallion greens, cut diagonally as garnish
Peanut oil

Soak clams in cold water to which has been added a bit of corn meal. The corn meal will cause the clams to open thereby shedding the salt water. Allow to rest un-disturbed so clams open, about ¾ hour. Under cold running water, scrub the outside of the clams with a stiff brush, then rinse twice.

Dissolve cornstarch in  1 tablespoon cold water and retain. Add oil to hot wok or large pre-heated hot cast-iron pan. Add drained clams, and toss with a spoon/chun. Add ginger, and shallots. Toss until clams open. 

Add black beans, Shaohsing wine, soy sauce, oyster suace, red pepper, sugar, garlic, rice vinegar. Stir fry a minute or two. Add clam juice, and  disolved constarch mixture. Stir and heat until the suace thickens. Taste and then correct seasonings, adding white pepper if needed. Garnish with scallions greens then plate.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tender Tagliatelle, Edamame, Sorrel, Mint, with Buttery Aged Havarti

Nuttiness of aged havarti cheese pairs perfectly with crunchy edamame, lemony sorrel, mint topping freshly made wide hand-cut Italian noodles. Thin slices of red apple give a pleasant under tone of sweetness and visual appeal.


Tagliatelle hand-cut noodles made with Durham hard-winter-wheat

Shelled Edamame

Fresh Sorrel leaves

Fresh Mint leaves

Aged Havarti cheese, coarsely graded

Sweet European butter

Sea salt

Thinly Sliced red apple

Pinch of sugar

Red wine vinegar

Pine nuts

White pepper


Acidulate a cup of water, add a little salt and sugar to taste. Core and thinly slice apples lengthwise, store in the sweet acidulated water. 

Shelled Edamame and blanch in boiling water for one minute. Plunge in ice water to stop cooking, drain and pat dry. Chop mint and sorrel in a chiffonade. 

Boil a pound of fresh Tagliatelle noodles in salted water. Cook 2+ minutes until al dente. Drain most of the water, tossing pasta with ¼ pound of cold butter cut into patties for three minutes. Add white pepper and sea salt to correct seasoning. Add chiffonade, Edamame, Havarti cheese, pine nuts. Drain apple slices well. Toss noodles and serve.


Optional Items

Grated Romano or parmesan cheese for additional flavor

Italian Capers

Flecks of soaked softened sun dried tomatoes


Friday, April 1, 2016

Miso Mayonnaise - sushi/sashimi sauce

There are many versions of Miso but they generally fall into red, white, and Hatcho Miso ("emperor's miso" Aged 24-30 Months) with less water and salt content and made near Okazaki castle in Japan.
Red (Aka) miso is aged over a year the color of this miso changes gradually from white to red or even black.
White (Shiro) miso is the most popular miso and is made with rice, barley, and a small quantity of soybeans and has abbreviated fermentation. The taste is sweeter than red miso but has less umami.
Miso, when fresh, has a shelf life and will be found in the refrigerated section of the Asian market. This is not to say that it is not available dried or unrefrigerated.
Miso is showing up practically everywhere thanks in large part to the Asian-pacific rim cuisine but because it is so flavorful, marinades, sauces, pasta and soups of all sorts have leveraged it versatility. “The key to fine miso cookery is not to overpower dishes with a strong miso taste, but to integrate the more subtle aspects of miso color and flavor in a gentle balance with other ingredients.”

Create a savory Mayonnaise sushi/sashimi sauce combine to taste these simple ingredients.

1 1/2 cups of Best Foods Mayonnaise
1/4 cup of Awase miso (or 50-50 white and red miso)
2 Tablespoon of hon mirin (true mirin) (sake)
1 Teaspoon fish sauce
1 Teaspoon Seasoned rice wine vinegar

  1. A good source for miso is the  Gold Mine Natural Foods (http://shop.goldminenaturalfoods.com/South-River/products/32/)
  2. Hon mirin (true mirin) not to be confused with Aji-Marin is a lot more expensive and has true umami flavor. Takara Marin is an example as is  12% alchol. All true Marin will have a similar alchol content.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Steve's Oxtail Stew in Scotch Broth or Elephant Stew in the Jungle

Some where over the course of raising my children, this dish took on the name  
“Elephant stew”. I had submitted several recipes in the Laneview School Favorites Cookbook published to raise money for school field trips in the 1970’s. One of the recipes was for Elephant Stew which went like this:

1 Elephant, Chopped
72 gallons prepared Gravy
2 rabbits (optional.)

Cut elephant into bite size chucks. Cover with gravy and slowly simmer two weeks. Serves 4600. If expecting more people, add the rabbits. A word of caution, however, since some are rather put off to find an unexpected hare in their stew.

Now I cannot remember where the actual Elephant Stew recipe came from. I am sure I read it somewhere. My daughter, who was only 4 at the time, overheard her brother say “his teacher especially liked the recipe for Elephant Stew.” Since one of her favorites was this oxtail stew, she made the leap that this must be the one. Here it is for your pleasure: Elephant Stew in the Jungle. As your guests query “but where is the elephant?” of course you answer in the Jungle.

3-5 Pounds of oxtails (Have these quartered in the butcher's saw.)
1 Large diced yellow onion
3 Cloves garlic
Beef bullion granules as required (see text)
2 Finely diced small carrots
1 Stalk of celery, finely diced
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Crushed red pepper flakes
1 Small can of tomato paste
White pepper
Black pepper
6 Bay leaves
1 1/2 cups of water
1 Cup of white wine
1/2 cup of brandy
1 Cup scotch
1 Tablespoon sugar
Ground coriander
Fresh thyme
Fresh sage
A few sprigs of Italian parsley
Greens from 2 scallions
1 Tablespoon of minced fresh orange zest

Broil oxtails on high until nicely brown, turn and repeat for the other side.
In large stock pot, add onions, chopped celery, chopped carrots and sauté until the onions begin to clear. Add browned oxtails. Add all other ingredients except scallions and parsley is set aside for the garnish. The stew will be cook until tender about 3 1/2  hours. Cook with a lid for the first hour. The remove the lid. It is desirable to reduce the liquid to enhance the gravy. Caution needs to be exercised as a low liquid level could mean burning. The stew should be monitored closely as the liquid evaporates and stirred. If the bottom of the pot is thin walled, the risk of burning is higher; hence, you will need to stir more often. When the liquid has reduced sufficiently, add back the lid and place the pot in the oven at 350 F to finish cooking. The meat is done when it can be easily forked off the bone. Correct the seasoning. Salt will be added last in the form of granules of beef bouillon. Thicken the remaining liquid with flour shaken through a sieve (or use gravy flour) and stirred in. The gravy will not attain its thickest until it begins to boil so add the flour in stages and bring to a boil each time. I optionally add 1 tablespoon of minced fresh orange zest. Serve over wide noodles, thicken with wonder flour.

Garnish with chopped Italian parsley and chopped scallion greens sections cut diagonally into diamonds.
1.      For those familiar with Roman food, this recipe is remarkably like Coda alla Vaccinara the way the Romans prepare it. Undoubtedly when living in Rome, I had it on the menu as it was very popular. My mother prepared oxtails in my youth and back then, few Americans ate things like tail. Somewhere along the while, I discovered that Scotch and Brandy made a much richer flavor. In fact replacing all the water in this recipe with a good homemade beef stock makes it more “over-the-top-good”.
2.   To thicken the stew and to caramalize the meat faster, dredge the oxtails in flour. Flour  is full of starch that will caramelize quickly and give a deeper color and flavor. You most often see this technique called for in stews, where flour is used to thicken the cooking liquid.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon Crème Fraîche Sauce

Latkes are potato pancakes, commonly associated with the Jewish cultural traditions. They can be and are served any time, but traditionally form part of the menu during the celebration of Chanukah. Latkes have a beaten egg binder and flour Often served with applesauce or cream cheese.

2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons tarragon vinegar
1 Teaspoon finely minced shallots
2 Tablespoons peanut oil
1 Tablespoon capers, finely minced
1 Tablespoon finely minced dill
Ground black pepper
1/2 Cup Spanish onion, grated
1 Pound Yukon Gold potatoes, grated
Sea Salt
Use ¼ pound of sweet butter to extract 5 tablespoons Ghee (Clarified butter)
6 Ounces smoked salmon
1/4 Cup crème fraîche
2 Tablespoons Best Food Mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons goat-cheese
2 Teaspoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon minced chives
Dill fronds as garnish

Preheat oven to 375 F.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the mustard, vinegar and shallots and emulsify with oil to form a dressing. Mix in the capers and dill. Season with freshly ground pepper.

Grate the onion into a bowl. Peel then grate potatoes. Combine onion with potatoes and wring in a wet cotton towel to remove excess moisture. Season with salt and pepper.

Set an 8-inch nonstick sauté pan over medium adding Ghee (Clarified Butter). Pack the potatoes into the pan in a 1/2-inch thick layer. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté the potatoes until the bottom just starts to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip to brown the other side. Place pan in the oven and cook until done another 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the potato pancake on a paper towel and cut into wedges.

Whip crème fraîche, chives, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and goat cheese together until smooth. Taste the sauce and correct the seasoning.

Roll the smoked salmon into rosettes. Top the potato pancake wedges with the smoked salmon rosettes, a few dollops of crème fraîche mixture and garnish with dill fronds. Drizzle with the caper tarragon vinaigrette before serving.

Clarified Butter
Add ¼ pound of sweet butter in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave on medium until it has melted. Let it stand until completely separated. Using a bulb baster, extract and retain just the top layer of butter. Purposely, we melted more butter than is actually needed for the recipe.