Monthly Archives: January 2013

Standard

Flour Child

Homemade Oreos

Fact #1: I made Oreos. I didn’t think it was possible, either.

Homemade Oreos

Fact #2: They tasted just like the real ones.. on crack. So much better. So. Much.

Homemade Oreos

Fact #3: They are extraordinarily better for your body than those blue plastic wrapped gems. (Goodbye gross high-fructose-I-don’t-even-know-this-looks-like-my-chemistry-homework ingredients.) Score. Double score.

Homemade Oreos

Fact #4: You will become 700 times more popular if you bring a batch of these to school/work/anywhere else where humans congregate. I’m talking It Girl popular. Might as well just change your name to Kate Middleton. These are the #1 most crowd-pleasing cookie I have ever made. I mean, homemade Oreos…who does that? You. You do that. You’re awesome.

Sorry about all the paparazzi.

Homemade Oreos

Falling short in the friends department? Whip out a batch of Oreos. Too much surplus milk in the fridge? Oreos. Little kid’s birthday party? Oreos. Grown up’s birthday party? Fruit tart.

Just kidding.. obviously Oreos.

View original post 347 more words

Perfect French Fries

Standard

Perfectly cooked fries

I love French fries. I am constantly seeking a way to make the best ones.  Sometimes I like them thin and crispy, sometimes thick and pillowy light inside (best done by roasting at a high temp.). Most often like Goldilocks, I like them “just right.” That means that they are medium cut fries, a little crispy on the outside and soft on the outside, full of potato flavor, not the grease they were cooked in. I like fries cooked in duck fat, but that is not always something I have an abundance of. Here is the method, it is simple and only requires a large pot (best for keeping splatters contained) a deep thermometer used for frying  or cheese making, a spider (or other mesh spoon to retrieve your fries and some good quality canola oil.  The thermometer is the only thing you may need to go out and buy. Here is an example. You need this because you will need to control the temperature of the oil.

Ingredients:

Russet Potatoes, well washed

Canola Oil at least 3 ” deep

Smoked or Kosher Salt

Method:

  1. Cut the ends off of the potatoes and then the rounded edges. lay flat and cut into 1/2 ” strips. Place in salted water till finished cutting.
  2. Preheat the oil to 250 degrees.
  3. Use either a salad spinner or a dish cloth to completely dry the fries. Once the oil is ready place fries into the oil. You should not be crowding them, you may need to do this in batches.
  4. Cook until they start to look slightly golden, about 4 minutes, making sure that the oil temperature stays at 250.
  5. Carefully remove to a straining tray (cookie sheet or steam pan) with a rack.  I say carefully because the potatoes are very tender at this point and can easily tear.
  6. Bring the heat of the oil to 365 degrees.
  7. Add the potatoes in batches and allow to cook till they are perfectly golden with a subtle  bit of brown on the edges. Remove to the draining tray again and salt IMMEDIATELY. Serve right away with home made mayonnaise, BBQ sauce or ketchup.

Burger and fries

Meyer Lemon Focaccia

Standard

baked

It is Meyer Lemon season. I have been in love with Meyer Lemons since I was a little girl. My great grandmother had an ever bearing Meyer. Coming from a citrus family has advantages. I wonder how that 60+ year old tree in Glendora, California  is doing now. I do lots with the lemons on my tree and those I buy to supplement my habit. Here is what I did with some of them yesterday.

Meyer Lemon Focaccia

Ingredients:

Makes 1 focaccia.

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) instant yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons if you use bulk
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, preferably organic
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Olive oil, for bowl and baking sheet
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella or pecorino toscano thinly shredded
  • 2 lemons, very thinly sliced crosswise
  • about a tablespoon of fresh rosemary
  • 1-2 meyer lemons sliced thinly and seeded
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese to grate over the top
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (more if you like a kick)
  • thinly sliced sweet onion

3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I use smoked)

*Note: It is best to use very fresh lemons for this, as older lemons rinds become difficult to chew.

232323232-fp54384-nu=5376-63;-252-WSNRCG=3489553;72343nu0mrj

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, or in a bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast and 2 1/2 cups flour with 2 cups water; whisk to combine. Let stand 15 minutes.
  2. Add remaining 2 1/2 cups flour and salt; mix until well combined. Change to the dough hook if using a stand mixer. If using the mixer, knead with the mixer. If doing by hand, turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead until wet and tacky, but not sticky, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand until doubled in size, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
    rusung
  3. Scatter semolina on a large rimmed baking sheet and press dough evenly into baking sheet. Let rise until puffy, about 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  5. “Dimple the dough with your fingers  Drizzle some olive oil on the dough. Cover dough lightly with Pecorino or Mozzarella  and lemon slices, then sprinkle with rosemary and pepper; drizzle with more extra-virgin olive oil. Gate a little Parm over the top.
    dimplesoiled
  6. Transfer to oven and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate baking sheet, and continue baking until lemons and crust are golden brown, about 15 minutes more.
    ready to bake
  7. Remove bread from baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
    baked 2

New England Clam Chowder with four Potatoes

Standard

Great post from Back Road Journal…. New England Clam Chowder with four kinds of potatoes.

Back Road Journal

Two things that tourists from all over the world seek out when they visit New England are New England clam chowder and lobster rolls. It doesn’t matter if they visit in the middle of summer or during the winter ski season…their trip will not be complete unless they get a chance to try both famous food traditions. There are many delicious versions of clam chowder throughout New England…each state seems to have a different variation. Ask any person living in New England about their own well guarded recipe and they will usually be hesitant about letting you know exactly how they prepare their chowder.

If you go to a restaurant in New England,  you can usually order clam chowder one of two ways…thick or thin. Whether it is served in a cup, a bowl or sometimes in a bread bowl, it is always white and never, ever will it…

View original post 545 more words

Tamale Time

Standard

tamales to steam

I make a big batch of tamales several times a year. Yesterday I made a batch of pork and green chile tamales. They are not at all difficult to make and they freeze really well. They are also easy to re-steam. Here is the recipe, but keep in mind the filling can be any number of things, from chiles and cheese to chicken, pork, crab, beef etc. Once you get the rolling technique down you will be able to make them with anything. I often triple this recipe. This recipe makes about 20 good sized tamales. You can make them smaller if you are using them as an appetizer.

filling and husks
You will need: 

Cornhusks or banana leaves for wrappers

String

4 cups of Masa para tamales (this can be found in the Hispanic aisle of most large grocery stores.

1 1/2 cups of home rendered lard (see here how to do it and why) or butter

4 cups of good stock (I used duck stock, but turkey chicken or veal stock works great)

2 tablespoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

A large pot fitted for steaming. You need a lot of water for this, so raise your steaming basket to allow for a lot of water. This has to boil for 40-60 minutes.

filling

Filling: 

2 tablespoons lard or olive oil
2 cups of well seasoned shredded pork shoulder (see my recipe here for making smoked braised pork shoulder Latin style).

1 onion finely chopped

6-8 roasted poblano chiles seeded, skinned and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (or in a pinch you can use canned green chiles)

8 cloves of garlic finely minced

1 tablespoon Vik’s Garlic Fix

1 tablespoon Sweet Onion Sugar

1 teaspoon of smoked salt (I make my own, but you can buy it here)

2 tablespoons of Ancho Chile powder

1/2 cup of stock

queso

2 cups of Queso para Quesedillas, para papusas or Jack cheese grated. Any good melting cheese is fine for this.

sauce

Sauce:

4 tablespoons of masa para tamales

4 tablespoons of house rendered lard or butter

1 cup of New Mexico Red or Green Chile powder

3 cups of good stock

Method

Cut lengths of string long enough to wrap the tamales. There are different ways of folding and wrapping the tamales, but this is my favorite way to do it. You can also tie just the ends or you can fold it so there is one side open and don’t even use strings. If you do this, you must place them upright in your steamer. Some people use parchment paper instead of corn husks or banana leaves.

Soak the corn husks in hot water, weight them down so they are immersed. Just before making the tamales, pour out the water. If you are using banana leaves they need to be heated to soften. I blanch them and place them on a wet towel.

In a stand mixer (or bowl with a beater) whip the cold lard for about 3 minutes on high speed till it is fluffy

In a bowl, combine dry ingredients and stir. Fold that and the stock into the lard. Mix until a very moist (but not sticky) dough forms. Chill for about 20 minutes while you prepare the filling.

masa

In a large skillet melt the lard and add onions. Stir and cook till the onions are translucent, add garlic in a hot spot and stir, then add the chiles and spices and finally deglaze the pan with the stock and allow to simmer till the stock is absorbed, then cool.

Set up a station on a table or counter top. You will need the masa, the cheese, the filling, the string and a platter to stack the finished tamales on.

tamale ready to fold

Start with about 1/2 cup of masa on a corn husk. Fold the sides of the husk where you will want the ends of the tamales to be and spread the masa with the folded husk. Do the same thing with the top and bottom of the husk so that the dough is spread out and you end up with a square of dough about 4″ X 4″. You will need to select the husks that are large enough to accommodate this size of tamale. You should have at least an inch of exposed husk on all sides. Place the filling in the center of the masa and lightly push down on it. Then take the bottom end of the husk and roll it forward to meet the end of the dough. Pull the dough forward making the two ends of dough meet. Then fold in the sides and roll the tamale. Place the string under the tamale and tie like a package. Repeat till you have used all of the dough or filling.

tamale folded

In a steam pot, place the tamales on a rack, cover and boil vigorously for 40-50 minutes. While you are steaming make the sauce.

Chile Sauce:

You can use New Mexico Red or Green Chile powder for this. I used red this time, but my next batch of corn, cheese and chile tamales I am making green sauce.

Make a roux of the masa and lard, stir till slightly brown. Add the chile powder and stir, then whisk in the stock. Allow to simmer and thicken slightly. Keep warm till ready to serve.

To serve, open the husks and remove the tamales to a plate. The masa should be soft and supple, yet firm enough to hold together. Spoon the sauce over and add additional cheese, crema and chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

tamales steamed

tamales plated 2

 

 

 

 

Smoked and Braised Pork Shoulder Latin Style

Standard

plate 2 This recipe has been one I have used for years. I used to make it at my cooking school for Cuban Night. I change out a few things here and there to go more Italian or more Cuban. Even if you do not have a smoker this is delicious braised or done in a slow cooker or dutch oven. You simply make a paste in the food processor and then make slits in the pork shoulder (bone in or out, your choice). Marinate it over night, smoke the next morning and then finish it off in a crock pot or in a dutch oven in the oven.  Note: I do not add salt before cooking, but I offer it at the table. 

DSC_0001

Ingredients:

1 cup each of packed cilantro and flat leaf parsley

1/3 cup each of coriander, cumin and fennel seeds toasted

30 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup crushed red pepper (the kind you put on pizza)

1/4 cup pink pepper berries (optional)

1 tablespoon hickory powder if you are not smoking the meat

1/4 cup olive oil (I use smoked oil that I make)

1 5-7 pound pork shoulder (get them on sale and freeze)

2# Yukon Gold Potatoes

3 large onions, quartered

2 cans of beer

1/4 cup Spice and Tea Exchange Sweet Onion Sugar (optional)

Method:

Put the cilantro, parsley seeds, garlic, pepper berries, crushed red pepper, hickory powder if you are not smoking and the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse till you have a thick paste.

DSC_0002

Put on latex gloves if you have them, this gets messy. Cut 1 1/2 inch slits into the meat on all sides. Stuff the slits with the paste. If you have any paste left over, smear it on the meat. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate 12-24 hours.
porchetta
Remove the meat from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Meanwhile set up your smoker and turn your grill on high.

Sear the meat on all sides on the grill. Then place in the smoker at about 200 degrees over a drip pan and smoke for 6 hours. If you do not have a smoker, go directly to the slow cooker or roaster but cook for 8-10 hours on low.

Porchetta out of the smoker

Prepare the roaster or slow cooker by placing a bed of Yukon Gold potatoes (small ones or cut larger ones in half) and the onions. Sometimes I add other root vegetables too. Place the meat directly on the bed of veggies. pour two cans or bottles of beer over the meat. Sprinkle the sweet onion sugar all over.

Roast at 350 degrees covered with foil or in a dutch oven. Or you can use a slow cooker on high for 4 hours (either method).  It is just that easy. The leftovers are sometimes my favorite part… tamales, tacos pulled pork sandwiches. 🙂

plate

Standard

From my friends at Frugal Feeding… Almond Biscotti!

FrugalFeeding

Almond Biscotti Recipe

There are certain things in life that one considers to be truly delightful – they are different for us all. For me, a strong coffee coupled with a crunchy biscuit or flaky pastry, preferably of Italian extraction, is one such delight. However, since moving away from my favourite coffee shop in Aberystwyth, obtaining such a treat has proved a little trickier. Happily, almond biscotti, the traditional Italian biscuit, are jolly simple to make – so there are no excuses not to follow this frugal recipe!

View original post 565 more words