Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Oysters will end your Hiatus

That's right, we're back. Well, at least I am. I don't care if no one else joins in this time. I'll just do it for my own pleasure. Still, becoming rich and famous from it would be cool. Bring it on.

So, a recent little anniversary trip to Nantucket brought with it an opportunity to indulge in a foodstuff for which I have been searching a while: oysters.

The first, and still best, oyster shooter I have had to date was purely by chance. My family was touring around Scotland and just happened upon a tiny village's Seafood and Music festival. Great food, great pints, and good music. If you are ever in the area, check it out.

Enough reminiscing. Since then, I have been on the lookout for a good raw oyster. I knew that my first experience was nice and fresh--and served with a chili-lime vinegar that was out of this world--so I have been hesitant to jump in to any old oyster that walks by.

The Brotherhood of Thieves in Nantucket seemed like a good place to finally splurge on a $15 dollar plate of iced oysters. What's that, though? They're from Wellfleet? Perhaps I should go there instead...aw, heck with it, I'll go for it anyway.

The result? Disappointing. Perhaps I've just built that first oyster up in my mind too much, and placed it upon an unattainable pedestal. They were not bad though, and if one were passed in front of my, I would not let it pass by. Served in a bowl of ice with a lemon and two sauces (a mix-it-yourself cocktail sauce, and a cider vinegar with little onion bits), it was a staggering contrast to Sam's raspberry and toasted almond baked brie. All in all, this dish was definitely a welcome end to a day of trekking around the historic sites. It also paired well with the bitter-and-hoppy Nantucket-local Cisco IPA. Sam had an Allagash White.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Guiness Cupcakes

A little late, but they look good. Let us know if you try them! Lars?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Taste of Tuscany...maybe.

So, there's this great Italian restaurant just around the corner from my apartment called Trattoria Toscana. Last time we went with my family, we all agreed that their gnocchi with gorgonzola cream sauce was wonderful. Rather than continuing to go back for the slightly pricey dish, I decided to try and replicate it at home (for much cheaper, of course). Here goes:

Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce:

1 lb Gnocchi
8 oz Gorgonzola (crumbled or chopped)
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup dry Vermouth
1 medium onion (chopped)*
4-5 button or baby portabella mushrooms (halved and sliced thin)*
EVOO to saute onions and mushrooms with*

1. cook gnocchi according to package directions
2. sweat onions, add mushrooms and sautee
3. add vermouth and simmer until it is half the original volume
4. add cream and bring to boil
5. reduce to simmer and melt in cheese
6. once melted, add cooked gnocchi and simmer for 5-7 minutes to absorb sauce
7. serve with some good bread and enjoy!

*Note: the onions and mushrooms are completely optional and I'm not sure I would use them if I made this again. They add a nice taste, but I think they disrupt the texture of the sauce and inhibit sauce soakage if dipping bread. Instead you could substitute 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (as this is how the restaurant does it) and add them after the cheese is melted.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How old are your spices?

A quick how-to on making sure your spices are fresh. For those of you smart enough to buy from Penzeys, you probably know most of this already.

From Lifehacker:

That jar of paprika might have lasted you through college, but is it still fresh? The Unclutterer organization blog rounds up helpful links to freshness checkers that decode the numbers and letters that replace actual dates on some containers.


Monday, January 7, 2008

Apple Dumplings (with requisite milk, of course). Plus: BONUS BISCUIT RECIPE! WOO HOO!

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Things have been busy to say the least. But that doesn't mean I haven't had time to cook. Julie and I made these dumplings just the other day, and they are wonderful. Easy to make, that taste wonderful, and they're good for you! Okay, they're okay for you. Still better than a Twinkie, right? At least apple is a fruit! And there are raisins. Oh forget it, here we go:

First off, this recipe (adapted from Bon Appetite), calls for using "purchased refrigerated uncooked flaky biscuits (from 16.3-oz. tube)". Kurt the Aggressor doesn't roll that way. I'll put the biscuit recipe I used at the end of the main recipe.

4 apples, peeled (they said Golden Delicious, I think I like Granny Smith as they are more solid)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
3 Tbs cream (I used 1/2&1/2)
Biscuit dough (see below)
1 large egg, beaten

1. Prehead oven to 400F. Use a melon baller (neat trick) to core apples, leaving bottoms intact. (The bottoms intact keep the stuff from coming out and make wrapping them easier. We didn't do this correctly, but things were still okay, although messy). Microwave in dish at 50% for 10 minutes. Refrigerate for 5 to cool.

2. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon. Transfer 3 Tbs cinnamon sugar to saucepan, add 3 Tbs 1/2&1/2 (or cream) and the raisins and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved.

2 1/2. They then add 3 Tbs of the cinnamon sugar to a cup of cream and whip it to make cinnamon whip cream. I would rather just have the dumplings plain or at least with plain whip cream.

3. Roll out your biscuits on a floured surface. If you're slow to roll, work with a little at a time (especially if you made homemade dough), otherwise it will get too soft and start to get sticky on you. Roll it as thin as you feel comfortable with without ripping it (I think I got around 1/8 inch, but I'm pretty good...ahem, ahem). Moving on. Get about an 8in piece for each apple, brush it lightly with the egg, and place your apple in the center. Fill it with raisins until it's a little overflowing and wrap up your apple. They say to fold in the corners and make a cute little stem on top, but it'll look the same no matter what, so save yourself the time. Just make sure you press on the seals to make them leak proof.

4. Put the apples on a baking sheet, brush the outside with egg, and sprinkle plenty of cinnamon sugar on them. Bake until brown (~ 18 min according to them, although mine took closer to 22).

I love the wonderful mixture of apple, cinnamon, raisins, brown sugar, and butter (from MY biscuits, i.e. no shortening). I'm sure there's someone out there who will want to omit the raisins. Don't do it. They belong there. Use this as a lesson in learning to love foods you think you don't like. It's important.

Okay, here's the biscuits (bastardized from Good Housekeeping, among others):

2 cups AP flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter (chilled)
3/4 cup milk
(~2 Tbs sugar for this recipe, omit if just making biscuits)

1. Mix dry ingredients. Cut in butter until they look like coarse crumbles. I use the food processor. Dry ingedients, whiz. Butter, whiz, whiz, whiz. I guess you could use a pastry cutter or knives, but why? (By the way, "whiz" is the official word for the noise the food processor makes.)

2. Add milk all at once. Whiz! Stop mixing as soon as everything comes together. There will be pockets of butter, wetter and drier parts, etc. Awesome! That's what makes everything so good!

3. That's it. Follow the recipe above. If you want biscuits, roll these babies out to about a 1/2 inch, cut 'em out to any size/shape you'd like and bake 12-15 minutes in a 450F oven. I like them with honey, it makes me feel British.

Happy baking!

Update: I realized two things immediately after posting this. One, two apple cinnamon things in a row. Sorry, that's just how it happens. Second, Jeshica just wrote about a husband that hated raisins. The raisin comment above wasn't directed at him or anyone else. I don't want to start a raisin-lovers vs. raisin-haters flame war on the comments. I just think we should all try to learn to like something new every year. What a nice achievable New Year's (next) goal. Barring this, this blog will continue its non-discrimination policy for raisin haters but continue its more general discrimination policy against people who hate any kind of food. Peace and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Quickie - Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

In the days before coming home for Christmas I had some Ida Red apples that were a bit mealy for fresh eating but not too far gone for cooking, and a husband who hates raisins with only raisin bran in the house for cereal. This was my solution. It's pretty basic but it turned out very well so I thought I would share. Now I'm typing it from memory, but I think I have the proportions right.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
2 tbsp butter
1 apple, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
1 tbsp cinnamon
2-3 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 c water
1/2 tsp salt
1 c old-fashioned oats

Melt butter in skillet while you cut up the apple over medium. Add apple, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir to coat. Continue to stir periodically while you make the oatmeal. Turn it to low if you start to fear burning or mushy apples while you wait for the oatmeal. Meanwhile, bring water, oats and salt (I'm a big fan of salting all oatmeal) to a boil in a saucepan . You can wait to add the oats until after the water reaches a boil for a chewier texture. After you add the oats stir very frequently to prevent sticking, turning down the heat if it threatens to boil over, until the oatmeal it a texture you like. Remove from heat and stir in the apple mixture. Enjoy.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Daikon pickles

If you've ever been to a Korean restaurant, you were probably presented with an array of side dishes (banchan) to accompany your meal. I love the side dishes as much as the main meal (though it gets close if the main meal is kalbi or bulgogi.); together, they make a great combination: a hot main meal that contrasts nicely with the cold, vinegary, often fermented banchan. The most well known example of banchan is kimchi, spicy fermented vegetables; the background of the above photo is some kimchi I bought from a store made from napa cappage, which is a classic kimchi ingredient.
Another dish I love that my favorite Korean barbeque place serves (the New Jang Su, for those of you in the Boston metro area) is pickled daikon slices. Daikon is a mild large white radish most frequently associated with Japanese and Korean cuisine. I've also eaten daikon in mooli parathas, which is small pieces of daikon (mooli) in an Indian flatbread (paratha). Pickled daikon can be addictive - the vinager and sugar combination mellows out the radishy sharpness of the daikon. With a little help from the internet and some experimentation, I present my version of pickled daikon, shown in the top photograph in the foreground (if anyone knows the Korean name for this dish, please let me know!):

Pickled daikon
-0.5lb daikon (one smallish root, 2.5" dia, 10" long - scale up the entire recipe if your daikon is bigger)
-1tsp kosher salt (I used coarse sea salt since I didn't have kosher salt at hand and I think it worked out fine)
Korean red pepper to taste (I didn't have any of this, so I used Penzey's aleppo pepper, which I thought worked well. Other recipes suggest a bit of cayenne pepper as another possible substitute.)
3 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp rice vinegar (optional; you can change the ratio of white vinegar to rice vinegar to suit your tastes. I find the flavor of rice vinegar alone to be a bit strong.)
3 tbsp white sugar

1. Slice daikon into slices as thin as possible. You should be able to see through the slices, as seen in the above picture. You could also cut the daikon in strips, but I like the way the slices look.
2. Salt daikon slices and let sit for ten minutes.
3. Rinse daikon and put in bowl.
4. Toss in pepper
5. Add everything else (both vinegars and sugar)
6. If liquid is level is too low, add a bit of water.
7. Cover and let daikon sit overnight in refrigerator in vinegar and sugar mix.

According to what I've read, the daikon should be good for a few days stored in the refrigerator.
Aww, look at the picture of the baby daikon radish on my chopsticks!