Monthly Archives: November 2013

Chicken noodle soup with spice

The temperatures have finally hit frigid here in the northwest. Its been downright sultry until now. Time for soups! As a kid I despised soup. I would plug my nose, quietly spoon it into my napkin, rub it on the underside of the table, and of course, sit there bitterly complaining until I fell asleep at the table, all in the name of not having to eat it. Now that I’m a bit older, I don’t hate it. Its almost to the point where I like it.

Sometimes when cooking we all need a perverted little voice that whispers creepily in our ear “shhhhhhhhhh… just go with it.” That’s about what happened with this chicken soup. It turned me into a spice-o-file.  I’ve taken a keen interest in whole spices and fresh herbs lately. The flavors are completely unique from their dried and ground up brethren. I like to think of soups as a savory tea with chunks in it. All you are really doing in steeping flavors into a broth to make cozy food magic.  Recently I’ve noticed nutmeg in a lot of recipes, in no particular amount, never mentioned again in the recipe, and not really stating what form it should be used in (thanks for that). I’m not going to leave you hanging that way today. I use the whole seed.  I plop it in there with a few of its whole spice friends, to let their spice BO permeate throughout my soup.  Life hack: If you have a tea strainer, put your spices in there. That way they are easily removed from you soup.

Fun pre recipe fact

Nutmeg is not only a delicious spice, but its also a terrible hallucinogenic that will make you violently ill if taken in high quantities. Feel free to Google it and read the experiences of several morons who thought that it sounded like a good idea at the time.

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6 cups chicken broth

1 cup white wine

4 chicken breasts cut up in your favorite chicken soup style

2 cups sliced mushrooms

4 sticks of chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1 chopped potato (I hate potatoes, put as many as you want in there)

1 parsnip chopped

1 onion chopped and sauteed

6 whole cloves of garlic

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1 tbsp fresh thyme

1 tsp fresh oregano (chopped/bruised)

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup of your favorite small noodles

Salt

Pepper

In your tea strainer

1 nutmeg seed

2 black cardamom seeds

1/2 tsp fresh cumin

1 bay leaf

2 star anise seeds

Add in your chicken broth, wine and lemon juice, and bring it to a light simmer. Drop your tea strainer in, and add everything else except the noodles. Let this gently simmer for about 45 minutes, remove the tea strainer, and then add in you noodles. Let the soup continue to simmer away until the noodles have cooked all the way, and then eat it.

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Filed under Soups, Uncategorized

Cranberry Apple pie, The red headed slut of the pie world

Pumpkin pie haters of the world unite! I’ve made a lovely holiday pie certain to knock the socks off your guests. It’s Apple pie’s sultry, alcoholic sister, the cranberry apple pie. I went to my parents house today for my weekend visit. My mom handed me a container of cranberries to whip up for Thanksgiving dinner, and I couldn’t help but get into them and make some pie magic. I also snuck something else into the pie; 2 shots of peach dekuyper. The booze is cooked off while it bakes, and what you are left with is pie bliss. Plus, you can serve that up with what you can call your signature holiday drink, I personally call it a red headed slut.

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There is a war that quietly brews over pie over crust. Anyone who makes pie on a regular basis thinks that their pie crust is the best. They swear they’ve stolen the recipe from their late great granny, and the secret key to making good crust is ______. Usually some voodoo involving a blessing, your first born child and ice cold water. Anyone else’s pie crust by pales by comparison to theirs. Pie crust is almost a religion that divides some kitchens, homes, and neighborhoods. It briefly drove a small wedge between my own mother and I on the pie making front, but I prevailed. For me, nothing tops a butter crust. It might be a touch harder to make, and it might look a bit more rustic, but the taste and texture are unbeatable. I’m a crust snob. If its store bought I just assume that you hate me, and were raised by wolves. I am however a bit more on the relaxed end of things. The butter and water should be cold, and you should handle it as little as possible, but extra refrigeration etc. are unnecessary, unless its a really hot day. Its like only being religious on Christmas and Easter.

For the pie innards

8 large honey crisp apples pealed and cored

1/2 cup cranberries

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 tbsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp all spice

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp cloves

2 shots peach dekuyper

1/4 cup butter chopped into small squares

A dash of salt

The juice and zest of 1/2 a  lemon

For the butter crust

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup butter chopped into small cubes

1 tsp salt

1-2 tbsp cold water

For the red headed slut

1 shot peach dekuyper

1 shot jaeggermeister

Cranberry juice

For the innards, slice up your apples to your favorite pie size. Add in cranberries, sugar, flour,  spices, salt, and booze. Mix it up, and allow it to sit while you make your amazing pie crust.

For the crust, this is important. DON’T use room temperature butter. The reason people hate to make butter crust is their butter is too warm. You’ll want to handle your dough as little as possible. You don’t kneed pie dough. No one does that anymore. It makes for a tough, sad girl crust. There are two ways to go about doing it. You can mix the ingredients by hand or with a pastry blender, or you can stick the butter, salt, and flour into your handy dandy food processor, and give it a slow whirl until it forms into little crumbs. Once you get your flour, butter and salt into a crumbly mixture, add about 1 tablespoon of cold water to it. Quickly mix that in, and form your dough into two equal balls. Roll each ball out until they are just shy of 1/4″ thick. Flip one into your pie dish, and fill it with your apples and cranberries. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of chopped up butter over the top. Then roll out and flip the top on. If you get holes in your dough its ok. Grab a small pinch of the dough that is drooping over the side of your pie dish, get it a tiny bit wet, and press it into the holes.  (The best pie making tool I’ve bought is a bakers mat. It works wonders for flipping pie crusts and rolling anything out. I love it.)  A nice one will run you about $15.00) Seal your pie with any lovely method you see fit, and bake the pie at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour, until the pie juices start to bubble up. If your crust prematurely browns, just wrap a ring of tinfoil around the edges. Pull that puppy out, Sprinkle a cinnamon and sugar mixture over the top, bring on your signature holiday drink and enjoy.

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Filed under Desserts, Holiday foods

Herby Skillet Bread

Last night I decided to go on a low carb diet and start running again. I have an 8 mile goal for the week. And a running challenge I’ve made with a friend that I really, REALLY don’t want to lose. So of course this morning I wake up to a nagging in the back of my mind, that said I need to make bread. A big, fluffy, moist loaf of herb and garlic filled skillet bread. The best part about skillet bread, is that Its rustic, contains few ingredients, and its so easy to make, that after you’re done, you still feel like you’ve successful had lazy day off.

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Ingredients

1 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1 packet dry active yeast

1/2 tsp sugar

3 1/2 – 4 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tbs fresh chopped rosemary

1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic

Olive oil

garlic salt

Melt butter and add it to warm milk, and sugar. Mix in yeast, and allow it time to activate. Throw in your rosemary and garlic slices, and slowly add your flour until the dough pulls off the sides. The dough should be sticky. Put a light coat of oil on your hands, shape your dough into a rough circle, and put it in an oiled bowl, allowing 30 to 40 minutes for it to rise. Once your dough has risen, take it out of the bowl and place it in a cast iron skillet. Flatten it out evenly until it reaches the edges and allow it to rise one more time for another half hour. Cover it in a light coat of olive oil, and sprinkle the top with garlic salt and more fresh sprigs of rosemary. Bake it at 400 for 30-35 minutes, or until the top turns a golden brown. Brush the top with a bit of melted butter, and serve it with a plate of olive oil and vinegar. Best eaten as part of a binge, on the day you are starting a low carb diet. It really sets the tone for how next few weeks of your diet is going to go.

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Adventures in the making of a haggis

I’ve never made a food that inspires such a wide variety of responses as haggis. When you ask for a haggis, some people gag a little, others laugh, a few will ask whether or not you know what you’re making, and then you get that occasional individual who gets excited, and asks if they can have some. 

A good friend of mine asked me to make her a haggis a few years ago. I politely declined, and told her that boiling isn’t actual cooking. After declining a few more times, and agreeing, to make her stop asking, she finally caught me at a moment when I was inebriated enough to hammer down a date. Initially, I was going to get her a haggis from my local super duper market, and boil that for her. But then I started reading up on how to make haggis, research led to so many questions, and I decided to make it myself. For those of you who don’t know, haggis is the heart, liver, and lungs of a sheep, stuffed into it’s own stomach with oats, herbs, and spices. Here in the states lung meat is considered unfit for human consumption, but pretty much everywhere else its fair game. There are any number of replacement meats you can use in place of the lung,s such as tongue or the kidneys. However, I was lucky enough to find someone to give me all the parts I needed.

Don’t even try to go to your local grocery, or even your local super market to get a haggis. They are the ones that laugh and tell you no. You can acquire a ready made haggis off Amazon fresh.  Or you can start the lengthy search to find your meat. One option is halal markets, they can refer you to their butcher.  Most of their lamb meat is cheap, and I’ve found that it has less of a gamey flavor. You can go to a USDA farm, and they can do the slaughtering for you there and sell you the parts you need (USDA certified farms are few and far between).    Another place you could go is your local butcher. Eventually they will go out to slaughter a lamb, and if you make nice enough, he may just save them for you. If you get the response that I did from them, your next step is to call the farm direct. This was the route I took and it was by far the most fruitful, but also the most trying. There is a really lame law in place that basically makes it illegal to do a 3rd party sale of just the garbage parts, or single cuts of meats from the farm itself . So Butcher can have some, farmer can have some, but Bri  who just wants the guts for a nominal fee cant have any. She has to buy an entire lamb, which will run you around 200 – 300$. Or the person gets the meat for free because they are a guest on the farm. Keep trying. Eventually you will find someone who is willing to cut you a little slack.   If all else fails, apparently you can call the FFA, and a future farmer might butcher a lamb for you, for learning purposes.

Now for those of you who are still disgusted, whats the difference between my haggis and your sausage. Thats all haggis really is.. A sausage made out of lamb. It actually tastes like more of a lamb meatloaf. Keep saying you know exactly whats in yours. The only way you know that is if you make it yourself. For all you know you could be eating ground up pork shins, guts,  and hooves. I know exactly what is going into mine. I also know where it came from, and how happy it looked on its farm. It was a pretty happy looking sheep.

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I do recommend going to a farm and seeing how this whole process takes place. I was lucky enough that Island Crossing Farm allowed me to come down and collect my organs while the butchering took place. I was able  to talk to the butcher and get the exact cuts of meat that I wanted, I saw how the sheep and animals were treated, and got to see their border collies expertly work with the sheep on the land. I was quite impressed with the whole operation. I may go halfsies on a lamb in the future from them. They really made my haggis experience. Plus they had puppies, adorable ones that looked like tiny pandas.

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My haggis will be used for a burns night celebration. I’ve also made a second baby haggis to test before then, to ensure that I’m not feeding my guests something offal (hehehehehe). I started off wanting to make this as traditional as possible. Then I tasted boiled lamb lung, and decided to make it taste good instead. Base recipes call for a teaspoon of salt, mixed herbs, spices and pepper. First of all, my haggis weighs 6 pounds. Please explain to me how those recipes are going to get any good flavor out of a teaspoon of  anything. I tried it. It tasted like a track stars shoe, that had been training in a swamp for a month. I went a little flavor rogue .

1 set of lamb lungs

1 lamb heart

1 lamb liver

1 lb ground lamb

1 beef bung

6 cups of water

1 lb beef suet

1 cup toasted steel cut oats

3 onions

8 cloves of garlic

2 nutmeg seeds (one whole, one ground)

3 black cardamon pods

1 tablespoon of fennel seeds

2 tablespoons of sage powder

1 teaspoon of oregano

3 tablespoons of pepper

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

a large dash of rosemary

1/8th cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup Talisker

1/4 tsp liquid smoke

1 1/2 cups beef broth

Salt to taste. Its a lot of salt. Don’t be shy.

Now we get down to the nitty gritty part of this whole operation. Cleaning and prepping the organs. We’ll start with the stomach. I didn’t get a superb picture of it unfortunately. Sheep have very thick stomachs with few layers that have easy dissection. I’ve seen the inside of a human stomach, and by comparison, ours seems to be far more tender. They have basically what looks like the tissue of a gigantic tongue on the inside of theirs, with tiny papillae, approximately 2 millimeter in size all over the surface. It is appropriately stained with grass. Your challenge is to soak that in a salt and vinegar mixture, and then scrape off the papillae, and greenness, without slicing a hole in it. I gave up pretty quickly, and bought a beef bung off amazon fresh. If you have the intestinal fortitude to go through with the whole operation, be my guest, and please rub it in my face after. I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed in me. Beef bungs are easy though. Thoroughly rinse it, soak it over night in a salt and vinegar bath, then roll it inside out until you can see the bottom, and get to stuffin’! Beef bungs, like lamb organs, are hard to find. Look for a butcher that sells things like capicola, or just different kinds of cured meats. Or google the hell out of it like I did, get frustrated with the run around, and order it online.

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Next comes the lungs. If you’re lucky, your windpipe will be intact. Mine had a couple holes in key places. What you should do, is gently cut the heart off, and remove the surrounding fat. Put your lungs in a pot and bring it to a boil. All that phlegm, and nastiness brewing in there will simmer up through the windpipe, and into a cleverly placed bowl outside of the pot, making cleaning a cinch! Since I couldnt do that, I cut mine up. Sheep lungs as well as our own have several tracts in them that absorb our oxygen. Knowing this, I cut the windpipe off, and squeezed up from the base to get the nasties out, then I began cutting and squishing and squeezing to get the rest out. Next you’ll stick that in a boiling pot. The rest of the grossness will leach out, and you’ll be able to spoon it off the surface of the water. Yay!

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Now comes the liver. There is a secret layer over the top of the liver. When you cut or clean off the fat and other bits, it should lift. You can easily pull it off with your fingers. I took my liver and stuck it in a ton of lemon juice and water. This is a sneaky trick. Its not like I’m going to be able to gently cook it until its tender, and eat it with some fava beans, and a nice chianti,  but it does make the flavor softer. After an hour of soaking I pulled it out, cut it into small pieces and added it to my pot.

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The heart it easy enough. I sliced it in half, pulled the blood clots out and removed the fat and thin tissue layer from the outside, and chopped it up.

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You’ll need to keep removing the nastiness from the surface of your water. I added about 2 tablespoons of salt, whole nutmeg and black cardamom into my tea strainer and let it continue on a high simmer for 2 hours. It smells horrible. Crack a window, somehow boil it outside, but for the sake of your families appetite, really make sure you have good ventilation.  I’ve made lamb stew many times and it didn’t smell like this at all. Many recipes say to add a couple cups of this to your haggis once its been ground or minced. It didn’t taste quite as bad as it smelled, but smell is about half of taste. I gave it one last taste, to give it the benefit of the doubt, and then chucked it. While everything boils, cook your lamb, chop up your onions and garlic and saute them until they are blanched and set them aside for later.

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Let your meats cool, and mince them or put them through a meat grinder. Mincing them is a ton of work. I highly suggest the meat grinder. It took me 10 un-frustrating minutes to push everything through, and it gave me a bunch of extra time to tweak the flavor, which was completely necessary. First I added a bunch more salt. Which brought the flavor to kind of a slightly salted, gamey meat loaf. Then I peppered it, added in my lemon, liquid smoke and Worcestershire sauce,  and herbs. It finally started resembling something that actually tasted good. Once I was satisfied with the flavor I added in the Talisker ( don’t you dare use crappy whiskey for this), toasted oats, beef broth and suet.

Stuffing the beef bung was super easy, and incredibly messy to do on my own. Its also one of the more visually unappetizing portions of this process. In my job I’ve seen a lot of bowel surgeries. It reminded me of the first time I saw a megacolon. Really, that is what beef bung is. Cow cecum. We also have a cecum. Its right above your appendix.  ♫ “The more you know” ♫. The easiest way to do it, is to pretend you’re putting a tube sock on someone else. Roll it inside out, until you reach the bottom, stick your hand in the outside portion (now inside because its inverted) and grab a handful of your haggis meat. It should be enough to get you started. You’ll then just continue to shovel more and more of the meat in, being careful not to over stuff because it will explode if you do (those oats expand).

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Finally tie it off, and then tie the end up with a string one more time for good measure and get ready to relax. I put a lot of time and energy into this little project. There are so many warnings and ways to burst a haggis. A few holes need to be poked in it, and I also wrapped mine in a cheese cloth for extra protection. You’ll see why when you drop it in your water. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and then drop your haggis in. I almost messed myself when I did this. It puffed up INSTANTLY.  Immediately drop the heat to medium (Low simmer) And commence sipping your whiskey and neurotically checking it ever 5 minutes to ensure it hasnt burst.

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Find someone to pipe your haggis in the room, recite Robert Burns’  Address to a haggis and serve it some mashed Neeps & Tatties (turnips and potatoes) maybe a gravy, and a glass of your favorite whisky, and celebrate the magic that is a homemade haggis.

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Black and white cookies.. I call them Cakies…

I’ve finally found a cookie worth adding to my Christmas cookie repertoire, Black and whites. Every once in a while that serendipitous moment happens, when you are trudging your way through recipes, and you find one that you have everything for. These cookies are from the great NYC.   I’m not a huge “cookie person” but I’ve heard a lot about these black and whites lately, on TV, on the radio, and from some transplant friends. I have to admit, I think I get it. They are thick and cakey. The cookie portion mixed with the frosting is just polar enough in sweetness, to create the perfect combo in your mouth, especially when you bite right down the center of  the frosting. Don’t let the deliciousness freak you out. These little puppies are also super easy to make. Seriously, I’m a horrible baker. If I can make them happen so can you.

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For the cookie

3 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup butter

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp light corn syrup

1/2 tsp lemon extract

1/3 cup sour cream

White and chocolate frosting

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup corn syrup

4 1/2+ cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 oz unsweetened bakers chocolate shaved or chopped into small chunks

Mix together flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Add your eggs, vanilla, and lemon extract, corn syrup, butter and sour cream. Mix that up until its a wet cookie dough, but dry enough to where you are just barely able to roll it into balls that are about the size of a ping pong ball. (Life hack: use a whoopie pie pan to make them perfectly circular and uniform.) GREASE YOUR COOKIE SHEET, and squish them down until they are approximately 1/4 inch thick. Pop them into the oven at 350, for about 10 minutes, or until they spring back when you push on them… or the toothpick comes back clean, but don’t go so far that you brown them. God forbid they become crispy… don’t be that barbarian that serves black and white cookies crispy. Let your cookies cool for about 15 minutes and add them to a wire rack before your make the frosting. Frosting is a very important and time sensitive step.

For the frosting, bring your water and corn syrup to a high simmer, but not a real boil. Remove it from the heat, (drop the burner on low) add in the vanilla, and the powdered sugar, and mix it up. In a second small sauce pan, throw your in your bakers chocolate, and add half of your frosting. Put it on the burner you’ve placed on low heat and mix it up. For prettiest results, do the white frosting first. Use a spatula to spread a dollop of frosting over half of each cookie, occasionally breaking to stir your chocolate. If your frosting gets to cold and starts to spread poorly, throw it back on the burner for a few seconds to heat it back up. Repeat the same process with the chocolate and give it about an hour to cool. You can then proceed to engorge yourself on them, hide them from your family and friends, destroy all evidence that they were made and quietly whisper to yourself that it was completely worth it.

Note: I’m sure that someone smarter than me would make mention of a double boiler for the frosting. To them I say, when the day arises that I ruin a sauce by not using one, I’ll send you a personal message saying that you were right and I wrong. But until then. I’ll hang onto my $39.99.

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Crab Ravioli Nero (insert explative here)

I was so excited to do this. Had I not gotten skunked on the pier squid jigging, I would probably still be squeezing ink out of little squid butts right now, but I was lucky enough to find some at my local Italian specialty store.  I read maybe 30 recipes, researched sauces, fillings, different pasta making styles, and I really must say nothing prepared me for what a bitch making this by hand  was. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed myself, I had a blast taking turns vigorously rolling out my pasta with my boyfriend. He was like the relief man in CPR. I’m not sure what the difference would be had I actually been able to find any 00 flour to make the pasta dough but in my mind right now, that was an exhausting error that wont be repeated. It felt like I was trying roll out leather. I want a pasta maker. Right now. In case I get a wild hair, and think that this is a good idea ever again.

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For the black pasta

4 eggs

3 1/2+ cups of 00 flour. (seriously get it…. then tell me if it makes that much of a difference. I’m DYING to know)

2 packets of cuttlefish or squid ink (about 1 tbs each)

for filling

8 oz dungeness crab meat

1/4 cream cheese

1/4 cup ricotta

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup finely chopped green onions

1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes

garlic powder

pepper

For the sauce

1/2 a stick butter

3/4 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup vodka

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

juice of half of a lemon

salt, and pepper to taste

Whisk up  your eggs and squid/cuttlefish ink. I didn’t do this, but I’m pretty sure that it would have alleviated a lot of self doubt had I started out that way. Gently mix that into your flour. It will not get completely black until you knead it. You’ll know you’re done kneading when your  soul feels like its about to die. You’ll then shake off your exhaustion, and realize that your roll of dough is black, and just the way you want it.

Its now time to start rolling out your pasta. If you didn’t get that 00 dough, you need to remember that its going to be very springy. Don’t let that knock you down though. Rolling your dough out is possible. It is also exhausting. At this point your should probably wash your hands and pour yourself a glass of wine. Drink half, and get to it, you are after all, making Italian food. Its almost mandatory that you have at least a glass while you make it. Roll the dough out until its about 1mm thick.  The best process is to get it rolled out flat, and then start at one edge, and roll as hard as you can.. I was thinking about taking up crossfit, and then trying this again with my shitty not 00 flour. (Are you getting my point?)

Next cut your dough into a square and cut the square into approximately 2x2in squares. Brush water over the top of them, and place a small amount of your crab dip in the middle. Squish your ravioli together around the edges, and repeat. Once you have finished, place them on a lightly floured wax paper, and start on your sauce. (I’m serious about the wax paper. Home made pasta is like rubber cement on crack. Its ridiculous how much that dough can stretch when its slightly sticky and wet.)

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I chose a vodka alfredo with a touch of lemon to compliment my seafood. It was good. But I honestly think a red sauce would have been better, and certainly less fattening.

Boil your raviolis for about 5 minutes or until the edges are soft/al dente, smother in your sauce and enjoy.

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This is a colossal pain in the ass without a pasta maker. I’m sure there’s a hoard of little old Italian grannies, with biceps like Popeye laughing at me right now, but the pasta maker, and the correct flour would have made my life a lot easier. It was delicious though..

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Cardamom bread. Breakfast of champions.

I have been to the spice store. It’s a magical place with open jars of herbs and spices, that are high in quality and relatively inexpensive. One thing I found was white cardamom. I after smelling it, I immediately emitted a noise only bats and small dogs can hear. There are 4 kinds of cardamom, black, green, white, and Thai. Each seed has it’s own special and distinct flavor. Black has a Smokey flavor and is far less sweet. Green has a sweet floral scent with a hint of mint. And white (my new best friend) has had the minty flavor bleached out of it, and what is left is mild sweet floral pod that tastes like perfection.

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I’m making cardamom bread for breakfast. My boyfriend and  I went to midsommarfest at the park this year, and there was an old lady hanging out in the 90 degree heat with a stand full of cardamom bread. He decided to buy a roll. Instead, she grabbed a loaf and promptly rung him up for it (it was too hot to complain).  Once I got home to try it, I was happy she did. It had tiny bits of cardamom scattered through it, and the scent crept into my nose, and  exploded like a C4 explosion of sweet spice in my mouth(I now have Stockholm syndrome).

I give you Cardamom bread

1 packet fast acting dry active yeast

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

3 cups flour

1 tsp cardamom (preferably white, but green works too)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cardamom in 1/2 cup of sugar for sprinkling

In a small bowl mix together melted butter, milk, and yeast. While that is working its magic, mix together 2 cups of flour, cardamom and salt. Once your yeast has activated, pour it into your flour mixture, allow it to combine, and add in the whisked egg. Then slowly add in the rest of the flour until the dough sticks to your paddle. Grease up a bowl, pat your dough into a ball and allow it to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The longer you let it rise, the more fluffy and delicious it will be.

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Once the dough has risen, pat it down and roll it out. make several 1×2 inch slits along the edges and and fold them inward. (a delicious thing you can add to this recipe is a layer of apple butter in the middle) Allow the bread to rise one more time.  Brush the top with milk or butter, and sprinkle a mixture of cardamom and sugar over the top. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until the surface begins to brown. Once you remove it from the oven, rub the surface with butter, and add another layer of cardamom and sugar. This bread is best had immediately, while its still steaming from the oven. But you can still reheat it for a couple days with happy results.

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Oh my cod! Fish and chips!

I was cleaning my cupboards when I came across my deep fryer. There are so many wonderful things that come deep fried; snickers bars, elephant ears, corn dogs, donuts, and on the tippy top of that list for me, is fish and chips.
I’ve spent a lot of time eating fish and chips, and found that few restaurants really get it right. It comes out in a stunning display of golden brown glory, but enters my mouth a bland, and wilted piece of sad sack fish. My first order of business was to tackle that little conundrum. (Because really, it’s all about the fish) I marinated my cod for an hour in  lemon juice, garlic powder, and salt. I was a bit concerned that it would be a slight over kill, but as it turns out, a lot of that flavor was absorbed into my batter as it fried. For the batter I chose a Pyramid wheat lager that I had hiding for a rainy day, cayenne pepper for a bit of spice, some garlic salt, and a touch of pepper.  My result from that was a mild flavor that complimented my cod perfectly.

One of the draw backs to using a deep fryer is size. I did my fries in two batches and had to cook the fish one at a time. Talk about painful. Fries taking about 8 minutes per batch, and fish depending on thickness take about 6 to 10 minutes to cook, it made for fries that needed a quick reheat before serving. Next time I will use a large pot. One of the blessings of the fryer though, is that you can control the temperature much easier than you can on a stove. Pick your battle, deal with heat issues or invest in a large fryer. Just remember to take the basket out when you want to make anything battered or doughy. (Doh!)
I finished off my fish and chips with some curried ketchup and home made tartar. P.s. if you haven’t tried adding a touch of curry to your Heinz, you are missing out.

Fish and chips for two

For the fish
4 fillets of cod
Juice of two lemons
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder

Batter
1 cup flour + extra for dusting
8 oz lager
Tsp cayenne
1 tsp garlic salt

Fries/chips
3 russet potatoes
Salt and pepper

1.5 quarts vegetable oil

Tartar sauce
1 eggs yoke
1/2 cup Olive oil
Salt
Lemon juice
4 finely chopped cornichons
1tsp chopped capers
1/2 a lobe of a shallot finely chopped(I call it a lobe cause they look like lungs to me)
1tsp chives
1tsp fresh Italian parsley
1tsp fresh dill

Curried ketchup (you’ll never be the same)
1/2 cup ketchup
1 generous sprinkling of curry
… I put a splash garlic salt in mine but I have a garlic problem

*I’m starting with the tartar because there is a wait period, where the flavors need to absorb into your mayo/aioli/tartar, even if you forgo making it yourself.*
Making your own mayo is worth it.  Whisk your egg yoke until fluffed and Smooth, always turning in the same direction. Slowly add your Olive oil a little at a time, whisking it until it reaches mayo consistency then adding more. (Get the cheaper non extra virgin olive oil. Otherwise your mayo/tarter will taste like thick olive oil with pickles in it… unless you really like the flavor of extra virgin olive oil. ) If it separates because you stopped to go pee mid process, start over. It will never get back to where you want it. Once you finish making the mayo, add in your salt, lemon herbs, capers, and pickles. Stick that in the fridge for a couple hours and let all of your ingredients meet each other, then serve it up.

For fries: Peel your potatoes, and cut them to the desired thickness. Add them to boiling water for 5 minutes to soften them, then pat dry. Heat up vegetable oil to 375. Cook fries for 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool, and season with salt and pepper
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For fish/batter:
Mix lemon juice, salt, and garlic in a deep plate or shallow bowl. Add and coat fish, flipping at the half hour mark.
While your fish is marinating, mix  flour and beer, add your spices and whisk until the batter is smooth.
Remove fish from the marinade and dust them with flour. Then dip and coat each piece in the batter. Fry at 325 for 6 to 10 minutes depending on size.

Put everything together with your sauces, and a little malt vinegar and enjoy!

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