28 May 2014

rhubarb daal

This is a wonderful way to enjoy rhubarb as a vegetable, and a tart and refreshing meal for a spring evening.


Start with some oil in a heavy pot, and heat up ½ tsp. (whole) cumin, ½ tsp. (whole) coriander, and 2 tsp. each brown and yellow mustard seeds until they start popping. Then add a very thinly sliced onion, a small fragment of cinnamon bark, and chili peppers (to your taste, I added three whole chiles de árbol). Stir until the onions are translucent. Then add a bunch (about a pound) of rhubarb chopped into ½-inch slices. Stir, and season with a bit of salt. Add two cloves of crushed garlic, ½ tsp ground turmeric (dried, or thrice that if fresh), and a knob of freshly ground ginger.


Then add 1½ cups of red lentils. Cover with stock (chicken, or vegetable — or plain water and another but of salt) and stir. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until the lentils are done and the rhubarb has dissappeared into the daal. Serve with saffron rice (or your choice of other starch), a dollop of yogurt, and some fresh cilantro.

26 May 2014

roasted, marinated asparagus



This is refreshing on a hot and stormy evening after a long day outside: in the morning, roast a bunch of aspargus with olive oil under a broiler, or on a grill, until warm. Drain the asparagus, and toss with lemon juice and zest, capers and a bit of brine for some salt, and a thinly sliced onion. Finish with a splash of good olive oil. Cover and refrigerate until dinner, and it's lightly picked and very refreshing.

Also, I've been using Instagram, and making bread.

11 February 2014

rye waffles with orange flower water

These waffles are half-rye, half whole wheat, with a dash of orange flower water. They are fantastic with yogurt, mandarin orange segments and pomegranate seeds.


  
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ c. yogurt (you can use buttermilk as well)
  • ⅓ c. oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. orange flower water
  • 1 c. rye flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking power
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
Mix the wet ingredients in one bowl, combine the dry in another. Mix together, and bake according to yout waffle maker. This made sixteen waffles as pictured above (eight pairs).

28 January 2014

something bright for a cold january



 


This is a really simple salad form the Ottolenghi cookbook — I've been making this salad with English cucumbers (pictured here but those small Mexican cucumbers are even better), poppy seeds, Fresno peppers, salt, sugar, rice vinegar, and sunflower oil. It was fantastic paired with the Korean tacos that Miss Fats made me last weekend, and it's fantastic with a simple sandwich on rye.

26 January 2014

seeded rye — returning to bread


As the "Polar Vortex" descends upon Chicago again, I decided that I needed a good, hearty bread for lunches this week. I made Dan Lepard's seeded rye (from Short and Sweet), using anise seeds, coriander, caraway, and lemon zest as its spice; I substituted apple cider for the recommended malt vinegar (which I didn't have), and I added a bit of diastic malt for good measure. The recipe calls for honey or molasses, so I used a very dark buckwheat honey.


The dough is a thick paste, foreign even to someone like myself who has made breads with a lot of rye (and even Vollkornbrot, but the texture is very different with all the rye chops, which are nearly impossible to find). It rose slowly, and baked beautifully:


Making bread is something I've just started again after a hiatus of four or five years — I developped baker's asthma, a common form of occupational asthma, and I've only recently begun baking bread (pastry, quickbreads, and the like are less of a hazard). I haven't worked in a bakery in about five years, and have since started a PhD in literature.

Now that I'm returning to bread, I've been avoiding the phenomenal Bread by Jeffrey Hamelman, partially out of the trauma with which I associate his phenomenal book (the book was an inspiration, and having to leave my career as a baker because my work was literally suffocating me is something I'd never wish on anyone).

And here I am, returning to bread, more careful than ever, and my apartment smells glorious.

18 January 2014

Pining for a coast?

I've been eating less seafood in Chicago than I might have eaten back in Massachusetts — I know that much food travels way too far either way — but some fish (sardines, mackerel) really don't travel. And then I realized that we can get decent mussels.


I made a basic egg pasta recipe ⅓ all purpose flour, ⅔ semolina.
 

I sautéed onions, whole chiles de árbol, and celery in butter with olive oil. To this I added garlic and cherry tomatoes, and then a splash of white wine and the mussels: it cooks in a couple of minutes, just the right time for fresh pasta to cook.


Garnished with salt, pepper, and parsley, it's simple, quick, easy, and delicious.

20 December 2013

mincemeat!


I've wanted to make a real mincemeat, and then Dan Lepard, the fantastic baker and food writer at the Guardian, posted a recipe.


Here's the boozy mix of currants, sultanas, prunes, raisins, apples and spices — it sat for a month, being mixed once and topped with booze a hanfdul of times (I used, at varying times, bourbon, brandy, or rum).


Here it is mixed again and topped off with a bit of rum, in my favorite crust (Tartine's recipe).


 Topped with lattice...


And completed.


 And voilà!


28 November 2013

roasted parsnip pie

I made a parsnip pie back in 2007, and here's a new version. 

Crust:
  • 8 oz. flour
  • 4 oz. lard
  • 1½ oz butter
  • ⅓ c. water
  • ½ tsp salt
Filling:
  • 18 oz. parsnips
  • chicken stock
  • butter
  • allspice berries
  • thyme
  • 8 oz. crème fraîche
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • nutmeg, grated (I used about an ⅛ of an inch nutmeg)
  • salt, pepper
Make the crust as you would any other (that's modified from Tartine's recipe), or use your favorite recipe. The lard seemed like a good idea for Thanksgiving. Chill overnight or at least while preparing the parsnips.

Chop and roast the parsnips at 375ºF with some allspice, thyme, and a few knobs of butter, with a half inch of chicken stock in the pan.


Meanwhile, roll out your crust, bake for ten minutes (also at 375ºF) with foil and pie weights and another eight without, until it is fully baked.


When the stock has evaporated form the parsnips, replenish, and roast until they are soft and caramelized (about an hour).


Purée the parsnips, adding enough stock to make it smooth. Pass this through a conical strainer (chinois), food mill, or sieve, so that the allspice and any fibers are taken out.


Add egg yolks one at a time, then fold in crème fraîche and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and more thyme. Beat the whites to soft peaks and whisk into the parsnip mix (you don't need to be gentle—it's not a soufflé, it's okay to beat to get it smooth).


Pour into the prebaked shell and bake for about 45 minutes at 325ºF, until set.


And here it is:


steamed kabocha cake (kabocha no mushigashi)

This is a recipe that I've modified from Hiroko Shimbo's The Japanese Kitchen. The recipe is very flexible — I've used different flours, different squash (or sweet potato), and I've added fresh cranberries or currants in lieu of raisins (or left both out). It is always a hit, and is my most-requested dessert.

Ingredients:
  • 6 oz. roasted kabocha (I prefer roasted to steamed, and I've doubled the quantity)
  • 5 cloves, ground
  • ½ tsp. grond ginger
  • 2½ tbsp. cake flour (used here, but I've use whole wheat pastry or all-purpose flour as well)
  • ⅓ c. rice flour (I've use mochiko in the past, Shimbo calls for joshinko, and here I used an all-purpose stone-ground variety)
  • 4 eggs, separated (or 3 if you have extra large ones)
  • 5 tbsp. sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • ⅓-½ c. each zante currants and walnuts tossed in a tablespoon of rice flour
Prepare a pot to steam: if you have a springform that fits in a bamboo steamer, that's great. But springforms are often too tall. In that case, I have a rack on the bottom of a stockpot that will fit an 8- or 9-inch springform pan with water going up to the rack. Line the springform with parchment.


Blend the kabocha, spices, and egg yolks (the spices are optional, but seem appropriate for Thanksgiving) in a medium bowl.


Beat the whites to soft peaks with the salt, adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time as you reach the soft peaks. Fold the whites, a third at a time, into the kabocha mixture. Sift the two flours together and then into this mixture, being careful not to deflate. Do the same with currants and walnuts.


Steam for 25-40 minutes (about 25 in a pot, longer if in a bamboo steamer), until a toothpick comes out clean.





26 November 2013

"mrs. child's famous sticky fruitcake"

As Julia Child notes, "[t]his cake isn't sticky at all, but it started out that way during my first experiements, and the name has remained, as a family joke."1 And thus began my first experiment with fruitcake. I've made panforte and convinced my fruitcakephobic family to relish that, and Child's fruitcake seemed like good introduction to fruitcake (she has yet to fail me, from pastry to roast chicken).


 The fruitcake began with me making mixed peel: I blanched lemon and orange peel in water and then cooked them in syrup (I wasn't about to buy the overly processed peel at a grocery store, and I've never seen the higher quality stuff of which British pastry chefs talk).


The base is four pounds of peel and fruit: I used the aforementioned candied orange and lemon peel plus raisins, sultanas, zante currants, figs, candied ginger, sour cherries preserved in alcohol, unsulfured apricots, and prunes. This sits overnight with a pound of nuts (I used pecans and walnuts), a pound of mincemeat (I used some from Dan Lepard's recipe: I should have made it a month ago, but this'll be fine — and now I'll have mince for a Christmas pie), ⅔ c. rum, ⅓ c. bourbon, 1 tbsp. espresso, ¼ c. molasses, and a mix of 1 tsp. cardamom, ½ tsp. each cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and mace, and 1½ tsp. salt.


Above left is what that looks like after 24 hours of maceration, above left is tossed with 3½ c. flour with 1 tbsp. baking powder.


To that mixture is added ½ lb. butter that was creamed with 2 c. sugar, ⅓ c. brown sugar, 2 tbsp. vanilla and six eggs. This is then spooned into buttered and floured tins lined with parchement. I ended up with four loaves a little under a pound each, one toping two pounds and a sixth weighing in at almost three-and-a-half pounds (the smaller caked baked for 80 minutes, the larger for 120-130).



These smell lovely. I sprinkled more bourbon and rum atop, wrapped them up, and we'll see how they are in a month (if I can wait)!


1Julia Child, From Julia Child's Kitchen (New York: Grammercy, 1975), 583.

20 November 2013

apple nougatine tart


There's something about Tartine's apple nougatine tart that is simple and spectacular. The apples (three varities) are sautéed in butter and sugar beforehand, which creates a stable texture for the tart, reduces extra moisture, and creates a buttery-carmalized fillling.


The sautéed apples are layered in a fully-baked crust after being tossed with lemon juice and zest (which I used to deglaze the pan and reduced slightly). 


This is covered with a mixture of sliced almonds, sugar, and lightly whipped egg white (I prefer it slightly whipped to make the crust light).


And voilà: one of my favorite ways to consume apples. And it travelled well on the CTA to a friend's for dinner.

06 November 2013

tatin


I've finally found the perfect combination of Midwest apple varieties for tarte tatin — and I can't remember one of them. Coming from Massachusetts, it's been a hurdle keeping track of local varieties, especially when I can't find apples that I had come to expect. One of the apples above is Winesap — a fabulously tart apple. The other is also a tart baking apple, and together the tart has a lemony aroma and taste that makes it one of the best that I have made.