"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Cold Soup – Gazpacho

    Gazpacho

    Ambushed again by the green grocer. But, it is hot, and it is late spring, early summer.. Now I have some lovely tomatoes, cucumbers, all sorts of herbs, garlic, red onion, citrus and a flavored olive oil the owners wife made for me to try. Sounds like I am making Gazpacho.

    Background

    Gazpacho is a cold Spanish tomato-based raw vegetable soup, originating in the southern region of Andalucía. Gazpacho is widely consumed throughout Spain, neighboring Portugal and parts of Latin America. Gazpacho is mostly consumed during the summer months, due to its refreshing qualities.

    The soup has ancient roots. There are a number of theories of its origin, including as an Arab soup of bread, olive oil, water and garlic that arrived in Spain with the Moors, or via the Romans with the addition of vinegar. Once in Spain became a part of Andalucian cuisine, particularly Seville, stale bread, garlic, olive oil, salt, and vinegar. Tomato was added to the recipe after it was brought to Europe after the Columbian Exchange which began in 1492. The dish remained popular with field hands as a way to cool off during the summer, and to use available ingredients (fresh vegetables and stale bread).

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  • Healthy Sports Drink

    Thanks to Bryan Wells for the lovely graphic

    As spoken prior:

    Three days of 85+ heat, three days of rushing from client to client, on the street and in the heat, with a #50 pack. I am close to collapse from the heat, and all my joints and muscles are giving me cramps. I know I need food, it is so hot, but I really want something other than cold soups, cold cuts, and ice cream.

    When working in this type of environment hydration therapy is KEY to avoiding heat related illness, but as a former boss of mine discovered, water does NOT contain all the necessary items to avoid these illnesses. Various companies have made large amounts of money in providing garishly colored drinks that provide some salt and a hideous amount of sugar. Perhaps we can do a little better than that.

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  • Red Risotto with Peppers

    red-risotto

    Having done Chicken Cacciatore, one must serve over some form of starch. Pasta is traditional, but I do not feel like being traditional. A search for Italian rice dishes, yielded some interesting recipes for Arancini (Rice Balls), and they looked soo good, but not quite what I wanted, (but I WILL do them shortly) I found all kinds of risotto posts, but maybe, maybe not. Then I saw a post for a rice dish using red wine, and roasted red peppers. Quite an idea to play with, perhaps using my standard risotto, but red wine, and the roasted peppers.

    I have some broth / stock / almost gravy from a roast and I have a package of dried porcini, and I’ll steep them in just enough boiling water to cover for 20 minutes or until they’ve expanded. Drain them, reserving the liquid, and mince them. I’ll use the rehydrate as well. I’m looking for a lot of mushroom aroma, and the beef stock will add that umami mouth feel/taste.

    One can use a rich vegetable stock as well, for those with an aversion to meat or meat with dairy.

    Risotto is a class of Italian dishes of rice cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. The broth may be meat-, fish-, or vegetable-based. Many types of risotto contain Parmesan cheese, butter, and onion. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy.

    Risotto is normally a primo (first course), served on its own before the main course, but risotto alla milanese, is often served together with ossobuco alla milanese.

    There are many different risotto recipes with different ingredients, but they are all based on rice of an appropriate variety cooked in a standard procedure.
    Grains of Arborio rice

    The rice is first cooked briefly in a soffritto of onion and butter or olive oil to coat each grain in a film of fat, this is called tostatura; white or red wine is added and has to be absorbed by the grains. When it has evaporated, the heat is raised to medium high and very hot stock is gradually added in small amounts while stirring gently, almost constantly: stirring loosens the starch molecules from the outside of the rice grains into the surrounding liquid, creating a smooth creamy-textured liquid. At that point it is taken off the heat for the mantecatura when diced cold butter and finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese are vigorously stirred in to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible. It may be removed from the heat a few minutes earlier, and left to cook with its residual heat. Seafood risotti generally do not include cheese.

    Properly cooked risotto is rich and creamy but still with some resistance or bite: al dente, and with separate grains. The traditional texture is fairly fluid, or all’onda (“wavy, or flowing in waves”). It is served on flat dishes and it should easily spread out but not have excess watery liquid around the perimeter. It must be eaten at once as it continues to cook in its own heat and can become too dry with the grains too soft.

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  • Spicy Dahl

    dahl

    Ok, it’s windy, chilly, nasty, threatening snow. Almost what you see in all the mountain movies about the Himalayas. Soo, hmm, Himalayas, gurka’s, Dal and rice…. But a soup, with Asian chicken stock, one can forgo the chicken stock and use vegetable stock for a vegetarian twist. But as always, we’ll look at some dried red peppers, or maybe serve with a hot pepper / vinegar finishing sauce on the side…

    Background

    Dahl bhat is a traditional South / Central Asian and staple dish which is essentially rice (bhat) and lentil soup (dal). This is a very common food in South Asian countries specially Nepal. In general eaten twice a day with another (usually spicy, maybe hot /sour) dish called tarkari which can be either vegetarian or non-vegetarian..

    The recipes vary by locality, ethnic group, family, as well as the season. Dal generally contains lentils (different types are used according to taste), tomatoes, onion, chili and ginger along with herbs and spices such as coriander, garam-masala and turmeric.

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  • Seared Divers “Dry” Scallops

    searedscallops

    So the great push to “Eat More Fish” is on. Bad thing is the only way I like fish is “Deep Fried”…, not in the top 10 Most healthy ways to cook.

    So the hunt for a fish I can eat, and that will be healthy. While examining the wild caught salmon for Madam Bad Wolf, I notice some large “Divers” Scallops, a quick mental review of menus I have seen, and I decided on Seared Scallops for dinner. Little did I know just how easy and simple this would be.

    From Wikipedia:

    A scallop is a marine bivalve mollusk of the family Pectinidae. Scallops are a cosmopolitan family, found in all of the world’s oceans. Many scallops are highly prized as a food source. The brightly colored, fan-shaped shells of some scallops, with their radiating fluted pattern, are valued by shell collectors and have been used as motifs in art and design.

    Scallops are characterized by having two types of meat in one shell: the adductor muscle, called “scallop”, which is white and meaty, and the roe, called “coral”, which is red or white and soft.

    Sometimes, markets sell scallops already prepared in the shell, with only the adductor muscle intact. Outside the U.S. the scallop is often sold whole. In Galician cuisine, scallops are baked with bread crumbs, ham, onions, etc.

    Scallops that are without any additives are called “dry packed”, while scallops that are treated with sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP) are called “wet packed”. STPP causes the scallops to absorb moisture prior to the freezing process, thereby getting a better price per unit of weight. The freezing process takes about two days.

    In Japanese cuisine, scallops may be served in soup or prepared as sashimi or sushi. Dried scallop is known in Cantonese Chinese cuisine as conpoy.

    In a sushi bar, hotategai is the traditional scallop on rice, and while kaibashira may be called scallops, it is actually the adductor muscle of any kind of shellfish, e.g. mussels, oysters, or clams.

    Scallops have lent their name to the culinary term scalloped, which originally referred to seafood creamed and served hot in the shell (Rombauer 1964). Today it means a creamed casserole dish such as scalloped potatoes, which contains no seafood at all.

    To be more specific in choosing scallops, look for a designation of U5 or U10, this link the similar designation in shrimp refers to the number of scallops per pound. The lower the number the larger the scallop. As per “Divers” scallops, the term “diver” does not itself imply a size, but these divers generally pick the largest scallops they can find, so diver scallops tend to be in the 10/30 range. Also diver scallops are more ecological because the divers only pick the bigger, more mature scallops, while leaving the younger ones, which allows the population to replenish; whereas dragging with chains is indiscriminate and sweeps up other shellfish besides just scallops.

    In searing scallops, two words are paramount, Heat and speed. One looks for a heavy sear, and a medium rare center, so high heat and a brief exposure.

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  • Sprouts and Bacon

    Recently, I was accosted by a “Trained Food Scientist” … who it would seem, did not read the “It IS all about the TASTE! “ post, and proceeded to rip my cooking styles, menus, ingredients, into VERY small pieces, not to mention, my lack of knowledge in basic food science, poor taste, poor grammar, etc, etc, etc.

    After several minutes of this, I left… (Remind me, to IGNORE my fan club…. or maybe start carrying a shock prod)

    FLAME ON

    Let’s get one thing straight… I DO NOT GIVE A FLYING &%$%#!@ ….. about “modern nutritional science”, the folks who write / espouse that crap, also produce such healthy and wholesome items as the great American Fast food menu..

    Bluntly, good food, prepared fresh, in reasonable amounts, combined with reasonable amounts of exercise, (GET OFF YOUR FAT ASSES!!!!), will be more healthy for you than consuming the prepackaged, chemically preserved and flavored, highly salted, over processed organic material that is excreted and extruded as a wonder of “modern nutritional science.”

    To quote a friend, (MaryeAudet@Bakingdelights.com)

    It isn’t meat or butter or eggs or even sugar that are responsible for America’s obesity problem. I really believe it is dependence on foods that are full of chemicals and GMOs AND an inactive lifestyle. The combination is deadly. Problem is people decided to go low fat rather than get rid of the chemicals and move around a little. So now people ingest more chemicals, they are still fat, and they are battling diseases that are brought on by toxins in what they eat.

    FLAME OFF

    While in the green grocers, I noticed fresh Brussels sprouts. Now given the time of year, I had to ask, where they were grown, and the reply was San Mateo, Ca.. Wow… It seems they get FLOWN in… WOW!! … The price.. “UGH!”, but then again, sprouts are mild and sweet at the start of the season, especially if you toss them in hot butter or olive oil after boiling them, or shred them and stir them into hot bacon fat, with some onions and serve with a vinegar dressing.

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