Saturday, September 22, 2007
German Cabbage Salad
And here I sit.
Hung over as can be.
Too much beer, I fear.
We hit an early Octoberfest potluck party, repleat with Ommpah band and lederhosen. It was enough to make a girl long for the old country. Even if that country isn't her own. Beer was flowing, people danced. It brought a tear to my eye, I tell ya, a tear. Of joy.
The Ombudsman, being a German-American had graciously (if somewhat clumsily) acted as my sous-chef for this vibrant delight, and while he claims it is particularly inauthentic, he still contends it is lip smackin good. So there you go. From the horses mouth. Or, should I say, from the mouth of das pferd.
Inspired. Tangy. Crisp. Sweet. Sour.
Try it my peaches, and taste the joy.
1 head of red cabbage
4 red onions
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups red wine vinegar
2 cups cold water
Okay, so you slice the cabbage as thin as can be. Then you do the same with the red onions.
Grind about a teaspoon of caraway seeds.
Combine the sugar, vinegar, water, a bit of the caraway seeds and some salt. Add the onions, and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust any which way you think it needs.
Let that cool completely, then toss it with the cabbage. Let it all just sit and get mellow. Sprinkle with some more caraway, then eat. Makes a whole-lotta-food.
The Dutch originated coleslaw: kool means cabbage and sla means salad
Caraway seeds are not actually seeds, but the small ripe fruit of the caraway plant
Friday, September 21, 2007
Brie Stuffed Farro Arancini with Truffle Oil
Admit it my peaches; you, like me, have a cupboard full of random foodstuffs, a fridge crammed with leftover bits of who-knows-what-all and an astonishing assortment of condiments.
All that and a full bar, that, alas, consists more of things like creme de menthe and blackberry schnapps, than the Scotch and hand-crafted Caribbean rum you would prefer. (Okay, maybe that is just me. Me, the girl who is in need of a drink, and yet only has some postively methuselean lemoncello chilling in the freezer. Sigh.)
And while my pantry may (may I say, just may) have a wider and (possibly) more upscale assortment of choices than the average home, (due to compulsive grocery shopping and a slew of friends who work in the culinary arts) I still have to do something with all of it, and you should too! Waste not, want not, and all that, right?
But what do you do with all those bits and bits?
Simple really. Just takes a lightning bolt of adult style imagination, a stout heart, and an affinity towards fried foods, and...voila! Cocktail snacks!
It's just perfect really...because as we all know (okay, those of us who work) after a long hard day earning your tosheroons, we sometimes don't delight in heading towards a hot stove. (Not Hot!) So this is the ideal solution. A lil' nibble, ready in seconds (that is, if you go ahead and freeze them after making them in advance and whatall) made from what is on hand...and this particular mix is pretty over-the-top.
I had some leftover, nutty farro, (an ancient wheat, that seems a bit barley-like to me), woodsy dried morels, some rich brie cheese and a tiny bottle of earthy truffle oil. Together, they made my head swim...and the Ombudsman ate so many, he spoiled his appetite. Silly Ombudsman, spoilt his appetite.
Keeping in mind, this is what I had on hand, you can make variations, and variations, and then a few more variations, as long as the underlying technique stays in tact.
And what is that technique? Well, you just have to follow the recipe and see!
So try this my peaches, then pour yourself a drink, and enjoy!
2 cups cooked and cooled farro
.5 oz dried morel mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water, then minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
Salt and black pepper
1/4 cup flour
Brie or fontina cheese, or both
Oil for frying
White truffle oil for garnish
In a large bowl, combine the farro and one of the eggs. Mix. Add in the thyme, mushrooms and a hearty amount of black pepper and salt. Mix to combine. Add a bit of the flour and then gather a small handful of the mixture into your hand. Squeeze and see if it holds together. If it doesn't, add more flour, if it does, stop where you are.
Now this bit takes some lets-all-play-along logic, since I'm not entirely sure I can explain it...
Set out a sheet pan, a bowl of water, a bowl with the remaining two eggs which have been slightly stirred, and a bowl with some of the bread crumbs.
Dip your hand into the water, then gather and form some of the farro in the well of your hand. Add a small pinch of cheese to the center of the farro. Close your hand around it, and seal in the cheese. Dip the now round ball of farro into the eggs, then the bread crumbs to coat. Place on the sheet pan and continue until you are out of farro. At this point you can freeze the farro or shallow fry it and serve with a drizzle of truffle oil.
Farro is a grain that is the ancestor of modern wheat, you can substitute arborio rice
Have you seen this post on Acme Instant Food? Hilarious!
Federal health officials are allowing Chinese shrimp producers to resume shipping to the US. The FDA put the restrictions in place after repeated tests showed farmed seafood had been contaminated with drugs the agency has not approved. The FDA made the exemption after inspecting processing plants. It also received third-party analyses of five consecutive shipments of shrimp that showed them to be free of any contamination. - AP
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Blue Cheese and Walnut Cole Slaw
If for some random reason, I were writing an essay on how I spent my summer vacation, the thesis statement would simply have to include words like "dazzling," "marvelous," and "indulgent."
I would rhapsodize about the picnics, road trips, afternoons spent at the beach, decadent, balmy cocktail-fueled nights and a life-time supply of cheek-aching laughter. If it were being graded, my essay would rock an A. (With a note to tone down the hyperbole, I'm sure.)
But I'm not a school-girl any longer, being asked to summarize three months of my girly-exploits on two, single-spaced pages. And you, my darlings, are here for the food. Thus, I will spare you (most of) my revelry.
But there were culinary highlights, lots of them! And this recipe rings in at number one. Ding-a-ling!
It first appeared in my rotation at a backyard fiesta, and was declared an instant classic by all present. Reappearances (on demand) included a riotous night at the Hollywood Bowl; an engagement party so far away, that as I wound my way further and further up in to the hills, I feared I was about to emerge one state over; and then at a few other, assorted parties. All in all, it made the rounds, charmed the pants off of a wide array of partiers, and has solidified its spot in my pantheon of recipe perfection.
And I didn't even come up with it. How's that for humbling. I did make a few, minor adjustments, but overall, I must give credit where credit is due. This recipe originated with my personal guardian angels, Melanie and Taji of Simple Gourmet. Two women who make food, fantastic. Gosh I lurve them.
But enough about that...let's talk about how simple, and gourmet this cabbage-creation really is. 5 minutes of work, and wham-bam, culinary delights ready for consumption.
Try this, my peaches, and enjoy!
1 head of napa or savoy cabbage, shredded
1 small shallot, sliced super thin
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped (or use candied pecans. Yum)
1 cup blue cheese, crumbled
Chives for garnish
Combine the mayo, sugar and vinegar. Season generously with pepper and just a touch of salt (the blue cheese is salty, so you will want to adjust that after it is added.)
Pour half of this mixture over the shredded cabbage and shallots. Toss to coat. Taste the coated cabbage and adjust the seasonings in the remaining mayo. Does it need more sugar? Vinegar? Is it too thick? (If so add a few drops of water) So adjust, and add the rest to the cabbage. Add the walnuts and blue cheese. Gently incorporate. Let rest for at least 15 minutes. Taste, add salt or pepper as needed. Garnish with chives and serve.
I read the book, Into The Wild, and honestly, it made me mad. Now, a dear (and sensationally glam) friend is in the film, and well, I hope you will all go check it out. I'm going to.
Researchers at the Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Tennessee State University tested dilute vinegar against plain water and a commercial product called Veggie Wash that they purchased at a grocery store, to clean produce. "We really did not really find the veggie washes effective or necessary," says Sandria Godwin, who oversaw the project. Godwin says they do get rid of most bacteria, but her team of researchers found that water works just as well. They found that water can remove 98 percent of bacteria when it's used to rinse and soak produce. -NPR.org
Are you in LA and looking for roaming snack carts? Check online to find out where renegade bakers, Treat Street will show up next. They come, they push sugar, and bam, they are gone again. Hot fun in the city.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Turkish Spinach Crescents AKA Pida
Color me giddy.
Well, I am sitting on my sofa, writing this post and carefully savoring the spinach crescents you see pictured. (Carefully because crumbs are not happy making...)
There are two things of note in that sentence. Well, three if you count the sublimely tasty snack food...
The first is that I mentioned my new sofa. Yup. It's so purdy. I love it. The Rock Goddess says it's not comfortable though. Then again, that came from a woman who just bought (-warning, image is a bit racy -) this...now really kids, does that look comfy? Hot, yes, but not really what one would call lounge-wear. So, I rest my case. She doesn't get the comfy concept. Then again, she is a Rock Goddess, and I am simply a girl with a blog...but I digress...
The second, and really, much more important (at least to me) fact in that statement I started with is that which allows me to be in this location...I got a laptop! Welcome to the digital age, Rachael!
Yea me! It was a bold choice, lemme tell ya, but I felt I really had to take that leap into the present and...voila, here I am! Thanks for coming along!
So now, for your reading pleasure, I will be able to post from all sorts of exotic locales...The Coffee Bean! T-Mobile Hot Spots! Hotels! The list goes on. I can't wait to explore it.
And what will I treat myself to as I lounge poolside, blogging? Well, Turkish Spinach Crescents of course!
I first had these courtesy of my beloved friend The Chemist's mother. She is Turkish, and made them, and then promised to teach me how to make them. And then moved away. Sigh. Leaving me to fend for myself. It took some time, but I feel confident with the results. Supremely confident. Downright smug really. They are that good.
The secret, I learned, is sumac. Its a snazzy, sour, spice. I really dig it and find it gives just the right sass to this simple, fab, delight.
This is a recipe that is going to seem extreme. It's a bit time consuming, and includes an ingredient you may have to source at a Middle Eastern market. But that all said, it's pretty dang fine, and worth the effort. Then again, you can really skip making the dough and just buy some of the pre-made product too. I'm just saying...
So try this my peaches, and enjoy!
4 tablespoons yeast
¼ teaspoon sugar
½ cup water
4 cups flour (bread flour if you can find it)
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup lukewarm water
4 cups fresh spinach, finely chopped
1 medium onion, minced fine
1 tablespoon sumac or the juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon oil
salt and pepper to taste
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup warm water, and let that stand in a warm place for 10 minutes until it is nice and frothy.
Stir in the 1/2 cup of flour, cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes in that same warm place.
To finish the dough, put the 3 1/2 cups of flour in a large bowl, and make a well in the center.
Put in the yeast-and-sugar mixture, salt, olive oil, and 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water.
Gradually work in the flour to make a soft and sticky dough.
Knead the dough on a floured surface for 15 minutes.
The dough will be very sticky at first, but as you knead, it will gradually cease to stick to your hands.
You should have a damp and very springy dough that offers no resistance to kneading.
Put the dough in a oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for an hour.
(You can refrigerate or freeze the dough at this point until you're ready to use it.)
Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a log.
Cut into 8 equal pieces, and roll each one into a golf-ball sized bit.
Place the dough balls on a lightly floured surface, and leave them to rest for 30 minutes under a tea towel.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, and if you have them, heat tiles 30-40 minutes before baking.
Roll one ball of dough on a floured surface into a circle 1/4- to 1/8-inch thick and 4 inches in diameter.
Add a bit of the filling in a straight line across the center. (As if you were making an equator with it.) But leave a gap on each edge.
Roll the dough up and then pinch the ends together to create crescents.
Brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and perhaps a light dusting of Parmesan cheese.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes..
Sumac is a tart and sour spice, with slightly astringent overtones, that is very popular condiment in Turkey and Iran. Uni-Graz.At
The uber sensational Treva strikes again! Scandal! (For the record, not only do I adore her beyond words, but we also happen to be related, ergo my enthusiasm on this subject...)
I can't stop laughing at this commercial from Carl's Jr. I wish it was my ring-tone...
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Salt-Cod in Piquillo Peppers (Pimiento del Piquillo Rellenos de Bacalao)
Me, I'm a lucky girl to have two older brothers whom I love very much...the seriously brilliant one (IBBBH*) and the stunningly genius one (IBBBJ**).
And, heck yes, I'm bragging.
Both of my brothers are tall and handsome, hard working and goodhearted. (Frankly, I find it altogether shocking we all come from the same gene-pool. I can barely balance my checkbook half the time! So really, I got nothin' on um. Plus the really disconcerting part is that our sister is actually the smart one. Scary...innit?)
The younger (I'm the youngest) is the one who makes me laugh, he is the political one, with a serious penchant for quality foods, and the older one (well, also political) is the one who challenges me to be a better person, who sits up straight, and is infinitely patient.
IBBBJ lives in NYC. Making the world a better place. IBBBH resides in Southern Spain...making the world a better place too.
I love visiting NYC to hang out with my IBBBJ. I am always beyond excited to see him and go out do dinner, so he "can show off by getting (me) something fancy."
It takes a bit more to get organized enough to haul myself across two continents. But when I do I bask in the warmth of IBBBH's wonderfulness (no, not a word...) where the main focus is always family (and, flamenco, or so it seems. Lots of Flamenco.) and eating. This is me after all. While UBBBH is not exactly a foodie - he likes his brown bread and herring more than most things - he is indulgent (if not bemused) by my obsession.
What both of these boys (okay, fine, they are men) can agree on, food wise, is this extremely classic tapas, inspired by the bounty of Andalusia.
So easy to make, so deliciously tempting. It will make your head spin for a moment. In Spain, or New York, or where ever your family happens to be.
So try it my dears, and taste the joy.
8oz salt cod, soaked in cold water for a minimum of twelve hours, and up to 24
1 sprig parsley
2 whole cloves
1 lb russet/Idaho potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup Spanish olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Black pepper and paprika
At least, 15 piquillo peppers, drained, rinsed and pat dry
½ small onion
Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and mash well.
In a sauce pan, add the salt cod parsley and cloves, and cold water, just cover the fish. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let stand for ten minutes. When the fish is cool enough to handle, drain and flake the flesh into a bowl, removing the cloves, parsley, bones and skin.
Place the fish, garlic and lemon juice in a food processor bowl and pulse to combine. Add the potatoes and pulse again. With the motor running, add the olive oil.
Season with pepper and paprika.
Spoon the mixture inside the piquillo peppers.
Reserve any remaining filling. Season the remaining filling with finely minced onion.
Preheat the broiler to high.
Arrange the peppers in a single layer in a broiler-proof glass baking dish. Pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over them. Sprinkle salt over the peppers. Broil for 5 to 6 minutes.Serve the hot peppers on a bed of the filling.
*How smart? He once co-authored a paper entitled: The Quantum Vacuum and the Cosmological Constant Problem
**How smart? He earned his masters degree at age 19.
Locally, piquillo peppers can be purchased at Surfas in Culver City, La Española in Harbor City and Nicole's in Pasadena. I have also seen them at Cost Plus, Whole Foods and Bristol Farms.
The name piquillo means "little beak". Traditionally piquillo peppers are grown in Northern Spain - GourmetSleuth.com