"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Preserved Lemons

    I have started playing with a fusion diet of Mediterranean, Mid-Eastern, and Far Eastern cuisines. Heavy on Rice, Noodles, Breads, Pastas, fuits, veggies, nuts, beans, olive / sesame oil, and very light on red meat. A fair amount of fish, lighter on poultry. This does not mean I will run screaming at the sight of a a steak, (or at least run screaming AWAY..)

    One item that keeps popping up is preserved lemons, used in all kinds of dishes around the Mediterranean, it really should be called preserved lemon peel, as that is the component most used.

    From Wikipedia:

    Preserved lemon or lemon pickle is a condiment that is common in Indian and North African cuisine. It is also known as “country lemon” and leems. Diced, quartered, halved, or whole, lemons are pickled in a brine of water, lemon juice, and salt; occasionally spices are included as well. The pickle is allowed to ferment at room temperature for weeks or months before it is used. The pulp of the preserved lemon can be used in stews and sauces, but it is the peel (zest and pith together) that is most valued. The flavor is mildly tart but intensely lemony.

    Pieces of pickled lemon may be washed before using to remove any surface salt, or blanched to remove more of the salt and bring out the natural mild sweetness. They may then be sliced, chopped, or minced as needed for the texture of the dish. The rind may be used with or without the pulp.

    Preserved lemon is the key ingredient in many Moroccan dishes such as tagines. In Cambodian cuisine, it is used in dishes such as Ngam nguv, a chicken soup with whole preserved lemons. They are often combined in various ways with olives, artichokes, seafood, veal, chicken, and rice. Lemon Pickle is a standard accompaniment to curd rice, which is often the last course in South Indian Cuisine.

    The pickled pulp and liquid can be used in Bloody Marys and other beverages where lemon and salt are used. The flavor also combines well with horseradish, as in American-style cocktail sauce.

    In Ayurvedic cuisine, lemon pickle is a home remedy for stomach disorders, and its value is said to increase as it matures. In East African folk medicine, lemon pickle is given for excessive growth of the spleen.

    From a VERY OLD COOKBOOK (Elizabeth Raffald (1786). The experienced English housekeeper )

    They should be small, and with thick rinds: rub them with a piece of flannel; then slit them half down in four quarters, but not through to the pulp; fill the slits with salt hard pressed in, set them upright in a pan for four or five days, until the salt melts; turn them thrice a day in their own liquor, until tender; make enough pickle to cover them, of rape-vinegar, the brine of the lemons, Jamaica pepper, and ginger; boil and skim it; when cold, put it to the lemons, with two ounces of mustard-seed, and two cloves of garlic to six lemons. When the lemons are used, the pickle will be useful in fish or other sauces.

    Note: When I speak of “Fresh” dried spices, I am stalking about items recently acquired, not sitting on a back shelf for a year. This should yield about a quart, so having a sterilized quart jar and lid is necessary. As a point, it is easier to manipulate the lemons in a wide mouth jar.

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  • Cajun Fricasse

    fricasse

    It is a funny half hot / half cold day, where in the morning you want a hefty jacket, in the afternoon you want a t-shirt, and by early evening you are back in the bomber jacket…

    My tastes are that way as well, I wanted a heavy breakfast, a light lunch and a meal with staying power for dinner.

    I remember a wonderful dish I had at a local french restaurant, it was a chicken, broken down and browned then simmered in a broth along with Spicy Sausage, “Cajun Trinity”, sinful spices, meaty mushrooms and fresh vegetables to make a really wonder full sauce. Think similar to a beef stew with really big chunks of meat and veggies… The gravy was so thick and wonderful I was soping it up with the french bread on the table. (Yes, I know it sounds soo uncivilized, sooo unsheik, but it seems everyone else at the table was doing the same thing….)

    Do note: Do not try this with boneless chicken breast, it just does not work well…

    Wikipedia says:

    Fricassee or Fricassée is a catch-all term used to describe a stewed dish typically made with poultry, but other types of white meat (like veal, rabbit, or Cornish game hen) can be substituted. It is cut into pieces and then stewed in gravy, which is then thickened with butter and cream or milk). It often includes other ingredients and vegetables.

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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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  • Deviled Eggs – Gangnam Style

    d-eggs

    Walking out for dinner last night, I chanced upon an intriguing little cafe / lounge with a quite twisted menu.. From Fried Pickles to Wasabi Deviled eggs the offerings were out of the ordinary, but with a very appealing set of twists

    The eggs were beyond belief, and the chef seems to be impervious to flattery, social engineering, Booze, Bribery, Blondes, and just out right threats of kidnapping and torture.

    Looks like I need to reverse engineer this one myself. The eggs, were hard boiled, uh, duh… The deviling was a light an airy cream of egg, homemade mayo, wasabi, and some form of vinegar, in the form of Sirachi! For a heated sweet and sour kick, and I’ll dust with 5 spice powder to reenforce the Asian flair

    Background
    Deviled eggs are hard-boiled eggs cut in half and filled with the hard-boiled egg’s yolk mixed with different ingredients and are usually served cold as a side dish, appetizer or a main course. Deviled eggs are one way of using Easter eggs after the children have found them and are a common holiday or party food.

    The deviled egg is purported to have originated in ancient Rome. They are still popular across the continent of Europe, in The Netherlands and Germany they are usually filled with caviar and served in rémoulade sauce, these are known as “Russian Eggs”. In the Midwestern and Southern U.S., they are commonly served as hors d’oeuvres before a full meal is served, often during the summer months. Deviled eggs are so popular, that special and carrying trays are sold specifically for them.
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  • Cream of Butternut Squash

    It is lab night and I need a good and fast meal, looking about the kitchen I find a butternut squash, a marvelous source of food value, and it has such wonderful rich and round tastes. The real issue is getting to all that flavor, it being so tightly locked into the husk. One way to do this is a long slow simmer into a wonderful thick, rich soup.

    Bisque is a thick, creamy, highly-seasoned soup of French origin, classically made from lobster, crab, shrimp or crayfish. Also, creamy soups made from vegetables instead of seafood are sometimes called bisques. Bisque is a method of extracting every bit of flavor from imperfect crustaceans not good enough to send to market. In an authentic bisque, the shells are ground to a fine paste and added to thicken the soup.

    Julia Child even remarked, “Do not wash anything off until the soup is done because you will be using the same utensils repeatedly and you don’t want any marvelous tidbits of flavor losing themselves down the drain.” Bisque are often thickened with rice, which can either be strained out, leaving behind the starch, or pureed upon the final stages.

    Bisque is also sometimes used to refer to cream-based soups that do not contain seafood, in which the ingredients are pureed or processed in a food processor or a food mill. Common varieties include tomato, mushroom, and squash bisque

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  • Hard Boiled Eggs

    eggs0981

    Hard boiled eggs are a spring tradition in many cultures. From the boiled eggs for the seder to easter eggs

    If one is to follow tradition and and have one’s grand children hunt Easter eggs, one must produce Easter eggs.

    Background

    Easter eggs or spring eggs are special eggs given to celebrate the Easter holiday or springtime.

    The egg was a symbol of the rebirth of the earth in celebrations of spring and was adopted by many cultures.

    The oldest tradition is to use dyed or painted hard boiled chicken eggs. These eggs are often hidden, allegedly by the Easter Bunny, for children to find on Easter morning.

    Boiled eggs are eggs (typically chicken’s eggs) cooked by immersion in boiling water with their shells unbroken. Hard-boiled eggs are either boiled long enough for the egg white and then the egg yolk to solidify, or they are left to cool down, which will gradually solidify them, while a soft-boiled egg yolk, and sometimes even the white, remains at least partially liquid.

    The egg timer was so-named due to its common usage in timing the boiling of eggs. Boiled eggs are a popular breakfast food in many countries around the world.
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