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One year of blogging, and a Deliciously Simple Marrow Recipe

Well kids, Thanks for following me over the past year as I blog my zany cooking adventures. Its been a fun experience, that has led me down some odd culinary passage ways, from making a haggis, to creative abominations using squid ink in a little cake baking. Sorry friend, you didn’t know, but you really liked it! Heh. I love my little blog and have given serious consideration to buying my domain name (any thoughts on this will be greatly appreciated.)

On to the goods. I made marrow! I had this at a little bar in capitol hill. On a hot summer day this dish is a little heavy, but as our wonderfully crappy winter and fall descends upon us, its the perfect mixture of fat and carbs that will nourish your body on particularly bleak days. I’ve made this for a few people, and gotten the typical response of, “really dude? You choose to feed me that?!”. Rest assured, they shut the hell up, after sticking it in their judgmental, finicky pie holes. Its the bodies butter. And although its normally used in making soup stock, Sopping it up with a thinly sliced baguette is seriously the way to go. I tried crustini, but once you get down to the dregs of marrow, your really need something that pulls in all of that magical marrow flavor.

For this delightful treat I use cow femur, sawed in half lengthwise by my local butcher. I suggest that, because its easier to get at the marrow. I personally can and will eat an entire bone by myself, (both sides) and this is not just because I’m a fat kid. Its because a large portion of this is cancellous bone. Meaning instead of being the central, tubular portion of the bone that contains the marrow, the ends are a matrix of tiny bones that don’t really have much sustenance in them. Sorry, they are just there to look cool.

Marrow for 2

2 cow femurs split lengthwise

a splash of olive oil

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

a sparse sprinkling Gruyere cheese (optional

a generous pinch or two of salt and pepper (I use truffle salt, regular salt is more than acceptable)

1 thinly sliced baguette

Preheat your oven to 425, rub the marrow portion of the bone down with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme, cheese and pop it in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the blood running out is no longer red. Serve with the bread slices.

Too easy right??!

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Caprese salad. My go to summer day dinner

Sometimes when its hotter than hell out, the idea of turning on the oven makes you have serious reservations about your own sanity, I turn to my simple favorite, caprese salad. It has 5 main ingredients, and I’ve never had someone turn me down once that put that flavor combination in their mouth, and it takes about 2 minutes to make.

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2 tomatoes

1 log of fresh mozzarella ( I get mine pre-cut because I’m lazy)

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Fresh herbs (I usually do parsley oregano and thyme, but it changes almost every time I make it.)

salt, pepper

Cut your mozzarella up into bite sized pieces.  Thinly slice up your tomatoes, and remove your basil leaves from the stems, and gingerly arrange them on a plate and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Lastly finely chop up your herbs and place them in a bowl with your oil and vinegar, then pour them over you salad. Fin.

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Roast leg of lamb in rosemary herb marinade

Today I am stuck at home as my window gets fixed from what we’re calling a stray “road rock” that decided to fling itself at our window. Since the window is about 20 ft up, and is obscenely large, I’m going to be stuck here for a while.  No better time than the present to create a magical marinade for my itty bitty baby leg of lamb.

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Something fishy is happening with this lamb. I know I am certainly not this first kid on this great earth to put anchovies on their lamb. Its not a secret. Its delicious. Don’t worry, its not going to give you that soul extracting, extremely dead fish taste you get from anchovies on your pizza. Its just going to tell the lamb to be a little more flavorful. My sneaky secret is to dry my little salty friends out in the oven first. The worrisome thing that happens with anchovies that have been baked, is they almost turn into a crispy fish dust. Its actually ok to get a little excited about that. I think the bad part of the anchovies magically disappears upon enter the oven (their disgusting souls are in the oil!!!).

I pride myself on my herb marinades. I start them in the morning, walk away for several hours, and come back to herb infused goodness. It works with beef, lamb poultry, I’ve even done it to ribs. The other good part is that you can save a portion for a lovely dipping sauce later. First prep your lamb. Remove that top layer of fat, and make several half inch slits over the top of the roast. Once your marinade is made, make sure to rub as much of it into the slits as you can.

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Marinade

1 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup rosemary sprigs

2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

5 cloves of garlic

1/2 of a shallot bulb

a tin of anchovies (I dry mine first in the oven, just bake them for 40 minutes at 250)

1 tbs vinegar

1 tbsp salt

Toss all of these ingredients lovingly into a food processor and blend them together. Save 1/2 a cup for dipping, and pour the rest over your lamb, coating it liberally in the marinade. Stick all of this in the fridge and walk away for a few hours. Take it out an hour before roasting it, so that it reaches room temperature, sprinkle the top with a layer of salt, and pop it in the oven at 375 for approximately 30 minutes/lb, or until the internal temperature at the thickest point reaches 145 (med-rare). You won’t be disappointed. I swear that marinade was handed down from some mythical god, and all you have to do is stick your two favorite herbs in it and you’re golden. Omit the anchovies for all other meats though.

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Creamy Italian Sausage and Kale Soup

Kale is one of the latest and greatest super foods. It lowers cholesterol, fights heart disease, cancer, and is a wonderful source of potassium. However, It tastes kind of like spinach had a torrid love affair with thistle, and together they made a bastard, misshapen little gargoyle of a love child, kale. Its quite tough, not quite like eating a thistle, but really rather rough in texture. Don’t let that put you off. There are many, many ways to beat it into shape.

You can can eat it plain in a salad, bake it into chips, massage it with olive oil and a vinegar (no really give it a loving rub down, it will soften it) saute it with any flavor you want it to pick up, and unlike spinach, it won’t wilt into a stringy mess. This weekend, I tossed it into a soup.

1 lb Ground Italian sausage

6 slices of chopped thick cut bacon

1 chopped raw onion

5 cloves of minced garlic,

1 potato

2 sticks of celery

4 cups chicken broth

Juice of one lemon

1 cup mushrooms

1 cup cannellini beans

1 cup cherry tomatoes

3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 tbsp fresh oregano

1 tbsp chili peppers

1 cup heavy cream

several leaves of fresh purple kale

Brown your sausage meat with bacon, onions, garlic and mushrooms. Add the chicken broth herbs, celery, herbs, chili peppers, beans and potatos. Let that simmer for approximately 30 minutes (until the potatoes are soft). Toss in the tomatoes and let the soup simmer until the cherries split. Add in your heavy cream, let it simmer for a few minutes and stir in your kale until it softens.

Serve it up with some fresh grated Parmesan and enjoy!

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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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Pho King Delicious

I woke up last weekend with a fire under me, and decided to make  pho.  A lovely Vietnamese dish, with a beautiful French twist.  France has a unique global history of occupation, and culinary influence, that can be seen all over the world from their many conquests. Pho being one of those diamonds glistening in the rough of their occupation of Vietnam.  My favorite part of pho, is it’s depth of flavors. Meaty broths mixed with the sweet scents of spices, and bold taste of the fresh herbs and lime.  Before I started I figured it was going to be easy enough to make in about an hour, until I caught wind of the fact that I wasn’t just sticking some bullion cubes into a pot. I would be simmering down meat and bone, extracting the amazing flavor of beef from the soul of the cow (Cow souls are delicious. It was a lengthy process).

Ingredients: For Broth

1lb ox tail

1 beef shank

 2 or 3 beef shin bone cuts

1 onion halfed and seared

1 large knuckle of ginger, seared

2 tbsp salt

2 heaped table spoons of granulated sugar (or if you can find them white sugar rocks)

Aproximately

10 Star anise seed pods

1 tsp fennel seeds

2 cinnamon sticks

5 cloves

2 cardamom pods (black cardamom if you can find it)

2 whole nutmeg seeds

For soup preparation

Thai Basil Leaves

Cilantro

Green onion

White onions

Lime

Chilis

Bean sprouts

Rice noodles

Your finely sliced meat of choice

Hoisin sauce

Sriracha

I set to work researching to create the most flavorful broth I could find. I chose ox tail, shin bone and beef shank for my meats.  The key to starting your pho is searing  in flavors. I threw my shank and my ox tail in to an empty pot on high,  and cooked them on both sides.  I then added the shin, and filled my pot with water, left the stove on high, and boiled out all the impurities. Pho should be clear.  Once your hot beef water gets several mounds of frothy nastiness on it (after about 10 to 15 minutes of boiling) empty out your pot and wash all of your bones off. This takes away most of what will cause that murky appearance to your broth. Hopefully. One other thing that will give you an edge, is maintaining a very light simmer after your second boiling, and NOT stirring it.  Fill your pot again, add approximately 2 tablespoons of salt and boil for another 10 minutes, continuing to ladle off anymore meat sludge that chooses to surface.  Drop your heat to a low simmer, and add  seared onions and ginger. I used my butane torch for the searing. The torch is not only entertaining, but actually quite effective at this task.  Walk away at this point for no less than 5 hours.  What you should return to is a thick stew. Remove your bones and meats, and strain your broth.  I became concerned about the amount of fat glistening across the surface. I weighed my options, and thought that the fridge would be my best bet to make the fats, and other tidbits rise up and solidify.

I woke up the next morning, and peered into my bowl, initially excited to see that the fat had indeed risen to the surface. My next surprise was that I had created a  bowl of gelatinous meat goo, or beef consomme. After scraping off my fat, I threw it back into a pot, and added several cups of water. Next came toasted spices. Star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg seeds, fennel, whole black cardamom and a few tablespoons of sugar. (If you can get your hot little hands on white sugar rock I recommend going that route. It is usually available in Asian markets.) These toasted tidbits should simmer for about an hour or two. Finally it was time to strain it one last time through a cheese cloth (french for paper towel). This was my last effort to really clarify my broth. It worked quite well.

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I served it up with my favorite seafood, herbs, jalapenos, and  lime, and pondered over the all of the new recipes I could try with my new found friend, beef consomme.

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