23 September 2013

fresh lima beans

Growing up, my mother always shuddered in horror as my father would eat lima beans: she would recall clandestinely feeding them to her dog as a kid, only to be found out when the dog licked them clean of butter and left them in a pile under the table. Consequently, I never ate them.

And then I saw fresh lima beans at the farmer's market, and decided to give them a try. I cooked them in a reduced garlic-leek-chile de árbol broth with kale and ate them with a few pine nuts scattered on top. They were tender, creamy, and delicious. They are worth a second chance.

14 September 2013

spicy pork rillettes

This is a Spanish-style porc rillettes (manteca colorada) from Jennifer McLagan's stellar book Fat. It's basically rillettes (slow-cooked pork belly, which is shredded potted and covered in fat — see another version or with duck) with the addition of paprika. I used sweet Spanish paprika, hot Hungarian paprika, and added some merquén ahumado, a wonderful smoked chili pepper. The result was delicious.

13 September 2013

birthday 2013

As often goes, documentation of birthdays easily is swept away with the flurry of food and libations, seen above before with my cat resting before an evening of him asserting his rôle as master of ceremonies and lead entertainer. in the foreground is anise seed and orange flower water shortbread, a delicious recipe from Deborah Madison's latest book.

Autumn approaches and I wanted to do something with my florishing sage plant: here we have asiago and mascarpone blended with fresh sage as well as salt and pepper, spread on a toasted slice of baguette and topped with fried sage leaves, a delicious finish.

I adore génoise, and have made them in the past, but I recently discovered a cake by Deborah Madison (from an earlier book): a hazelnut cake that is basically a génoise with most of the flour replaced with ground toasted hazelnuts (or hickory nuts, but those are not easy to come by). I split the cake into three, spashed the layers with kirsch, and layered them with Julia Child's chocolate mousse (with kirsch in place of the orange liqueur). Finished with kirsch-flavored whipped cream and sour cherries that have been soaking in grain alcohol with hibiscus and orange peel. Fantastic.

01 September 2013

lime-ginger melon marmalade

I'm calling this lime-ginger melon marmalade, instead of jam (as last time) because, while I liked the flavor of the jam (based on Jane Grigson't Fruit Book recipe), I didn't like how the chunks of melon became dense. This time, instead of cubing the melon, I julienned it (four pounds of it, this was a huge cantaloupe). This was in hope—and with success—that the strips would have more of a marmalade consistency instead of a cubes-in-syrup one.

This makes ten pints, and can easily be halved: 4 lbs julienned melon, about ¼-in. thick (your choice: Grigson specifies green-fleshed but I've always used orange-fleshed varieities), 7 oz. ground fresh ginger (I sliced it across the grain and then processed it in a food processor), 1 lb. limes, rind finely julienned and fruit set aside for later (lemon works too, but just use the zest; lime rinds are thin enough that the whole rind works), 4 lbs sugar.

Mix the sugar with the melon, add the lime and ginger, and let sit 6-8 hours or overnight in a non-reactive bowl (glass, ceramic, etc.).

This is what it looks like after sitting and turned into its cooking vessel (above).

Heat the fruit-sugar mixture, and add the reserved limes, tied up in cheesecloth. Cook, stirring frequently, until it reaches 220º (F) on a thermometer, then remove and press any liquid from the cores of the limes. Continue cooking, testing occasionally to see if it will set (place ½ tsp. on a chilled saucer, leave in freezer for two minutes: this will tell you if it is ready). I cooked this until it was around 224º (F).  Process in a hot-water bath for 15 minutes.

The strips of melon resulted in a wonderful texture, and the ginger and lime give it a wonderful kick. Perfect with a croissant.