Ecuadorian Salsa

16 May 14 by

After trying the original recipe we had found, and then adjusting the recipe through several trials, we found this variation to be our top preference. It is a raw, rather than cooked, salsa, and is just delicious. Himself does the rough-chopping and dicing, while Herself sits at the table and uses the food processor.

1 cup diced raw carrots
1 med cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 cup diced bell pepper (preferably red or orange)
1 large onion, sweet, diced
2 each tomatoes, large, juicy deseeded and chopped
3 each garlic tooths, chopped
10 sprigs sprigs parsley (leaves only), up to — 15 sprigs to taste
Salt, freshly ground, to taste (Pink Himalayan is best)
1 cup Lime juice (Key Lime juice works really well) (yes, that is one CUP – use more or less to your taste)
1 cup Clamato juice (more or less) to taste
5 drops Tabasco sauce (more or less) to taste (optional)
4 shakes Cayenne pepper (more or less) to taste

 

CarrotsCukesBellPepOnionGarlic

CarrotsCukesBellPepOnionGarlic

1. Blend chopped tomatoes, diced onions, chopped garlic, seeded, chopped cucumber, diced carrots and diced bell pepper in a food processor to desired consistency. We like the consistency a little rough, while the original recipe called for using a blender and liquefying the ingredients. Make it however you like it. The food processor Herself likes to use is the smaller one, so each item is processed separately and then all are mixed together in a large bowl.

 

2. Mix well in a large bowl.

3. Add lime (or Key Lime) juice, Clamato juice, salt, Cayenne pepper, and Tabasco sauce. Use less Lime juice and Clamato juice if you prefer a dryer salsa.

Added Tomatoes & Parsley

Added Tomatoes & Parsley

 

4. Check seasoning and adjust. (Keep in mind that chips will be salty.)

5. Serving suggestions: serve with corn chips as an appetizer, or as a side with grilled chicken or a grilled, mild fish (like tilapia), or with grilled salmon.

Cooking Tip: Do not use Italian tomatoes, too dry.

Author Note: The original Ecuadorian Salsa recipe called for no additional liquids other than a few tsp of lime juice. The original recipe also called for smaller amounts, with all ingredients to be blended to a smooth consistency. It is a much drier salsa. It also does not call for cucumber – but we really like the flavor it imparts.

Second Author Note: The nice thing about “folk” recipes is that every family makes them a little differently, so if you want to make yours differently from this, feel free!

Mixed and Repacked Keeps well in refrigerator up to 7 days (that's as long as we have ever been able to keep it)

Mixed and Repacked
Keeps well in refrigerator up to 7 days (that’s as long as we have ever been able to keep it – we eat it too fast!)

 

Third Author Note: If you prefer cilantro, use that instead of parsley – we just don’t much like cilantro. Sometimes we substitute fresh basil from the herb garden Herself works on. Nice change of taste.

Set Out for Eating

Set Out for Eating

O YUMMM

O YUMMM

Poulet au Grand Marnier (or whatever)

12 May 14 by

[Herself sez: I’m posting this for the Ol’ Curmudgeon]

Yes, this is French in derivation. Yes, there is a reduction sauce involved. Simple and quick – rice takes 30 minutes – 20 cooking and 10 resting. If you start cooking the yard-bird at the same time everything will work out nicely. This is for 2 people – just do the math for more. Don’t faint – there is no butter here (well, not much) – just whipping cream and booze.

2 Tbs orange juice or half an orange – juiced and zested
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut in pieces
salt and pepper to taste
cooking oil and/or unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, mashed and chopped
1/2 tsp ginger or 1-1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 Tbs Triple sec, Grand Marnier, Cointreau
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 Tbs whipping cream

If you’ve got a fresh orange, then juice and zest and set aside. Otherwise use orange juice (necessary) and dried orange peel (optional).

Cut up the chicken breast into 1” or thereabouts cubes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. In an iron or other good heavy skillet get the oil and/or butter hot and brown the chicken turning so as to get evenly done and browned. Set the chicken pieces aside.

In the same skillet on low heat cook the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir while cooking over low heat until translucent and soft. About 5 minutes or less. Add the orange flavored booze of choice – and pocketbook – and availability. Triple sec, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau all will work well. Triple sec is probably the most affordable. Anyway cook on a gentle boil while stirring and reduce volume by half.

When the volume is reduced add the cream and orange zest, or sprinkle some dried orange peel into the pan and boil for a minute, stirring the pan pretty often. Add the chicken and stir everything together – then simmer for a couple of minutes until everything is warmed through.

Serve over the bed of choice. Rice is especially good. Pasta is probably O.K. if that is what grabs your taste buds. Anything else that comes to mind is probably O.K., too.

Almond Fish

30 September 13 by
    Fish
2 fillets delicate white fish
2 Tbs soft butter
2 Tbs finely minced onion
2 Tbs finely minced celery
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
4 grinds fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp sweet paprika
    Almond Sauce
2 Tbs melted butter
2 Tbs slivered blanched almonds
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs parsley flakes

You’ve heard of Trout Amandine – well – this is not it – exactly. The old amandine is a breaded and fried sort of deal. This is broiled and much more delicate. The dredged in flour or whatever and fried is called meunière by the French. It means miller’s wife and is both the way of cooking and a sauce. The cooking is à la meunière. The sauce is just browned butter, chopped parsley, and lemon juice. In other words – Southern fried with lemon butter and parsley. See – it just sounds fancy and elegant in French. Trout Amandine is just trout à la meunière with an almond crusting. Other things that work wonderfully amandine are potatoes, green beans, and asparagus – I’ll write them up one of these days.

Back on topic (maybe) – this will work nicely for just about any delicately flavored fish, either fresh or salt water type. If the fish is frozen just let it thaw about halfway or so. If it is fresh just make sure things are nicely filleted.

Mince the onion and celery. The easy way is to throw it into a small food processor and hit high speed for a minute. Then add the butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and paprika to the onion and celery and blend together well. Spread the mix over the fillets and run under a hot broiler, about 4 to 6 inches from the heat. Broil for 10 minutes or until the fish is flaky but do not overcook. You don’t want brown, just done through (barely).

While the oven magic is happening melt the rest of the butter in your small skillet, then brown the almonds. When the butter and almonds are brown but not burned remove from the heat and add the lemon.

Plate the fish, pour the almonds and liquid over them, and garnish with a bit of chopped parsley.

{HERSELF SEZ: I really do prefer a fish that is crispy on the edge – or, in this case, leave mine in a few more minutes – until it is at least just a little browned!}

Moron Simple Country French Soup

21 September 13 by

This is Anthony Bourdain’s basic French inspired country style mushroom soup. It is about as simple and moron-proof as it can get. The only thing easier is to open a can. And believe me – this is mucho better. There are only 3 very minor gotcha’s to look for. I’ll tell you that the first and worst gotcha’ is that it has to simmer for an hour, uninterrupted. The others I’ll tell you about on the way.

There are several pluses to this – not the least of which is that it tastes delicious.

6 Tbs butter
1 each onion, thinly sliced
12 oz button mushrooms, halved (if whole) or pre-sliced
4 cups chicken stock
1 sprig parsley
2 oz sherry
    salt and pepper

Slice up the onion, heat up a couple of Tbs of the butter in a 3 quart saucepan, and slowly sweat the onions until they are tender and soft. Second gotcha’ – do not let the onions brown. If you do you might as well start over again.

Add the rest of the butter and the mushrooms. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and tender. A little mushroom liquid remaining is ok, you don’t have to boil it all off.

Add chicken stock and parsley. I think Bourdain recommends flat parsley, we mostly have curly and it comes out just fine. When things come to a boil, turn down to a gentle simmer and let her go for an hour, uncovered. The occasional stir doesn’t hurt a thing.

Here is the third gotcha: You’ve got to puree. There are a couple of ways to go here. If you’ve got a good immersion blender – go that way. You could also use a food processor. I use a blender and the gotcha is that you had better be holding the lid down with everything you’ve got and no more than ¼ full. Unless it is a really gentle start a powerful blender is going to try to lift that lid and put soup all over the kitchen ceiling, getting you and the counter and anything else in the way for fun. Trust me – hold that lid down and do batch processing.

Return the soup to the saucepan and bring it back to a simmer. Add the sherry – do use reasonably good stuff, not cooking sherry. Turn the heat off, and salt and pepper to your taste.

For the adventurous, suicidal, or knowledgeable: Yeah, sure, you can add some or all wild mushrooms. Just don’t use stuff that is really strong other than in small amounts – this is a beautiful, delicate soup and too much stout wild taste would kill it.

What About the Ten Commandments?

19 July 13 by

For those who may have forgotten or never known – here they are:

1 – I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

2 – Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

3 – Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

4 – Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

5 – Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

6 – Thou shalt not kill.

7 – Thou shalt not commit adultery.

8 – Thou shalt not steal.

9 – Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

10 – Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

The above is the King James Exodus 20 version that is familiar to most Americans. Without getting too deep into the business of which of the three versions in the Old Testament is the “most authentic” I will note that this is from the Masoretic revisionist version of the 7th to 10th centuries AD.

What Jesus and the Apostles and Disciples are recorded as quoting is the Septuagint – the Greek version of the Old Testament. At the time of Christ more Jews spoke Greek than Hebrew. Sorta’ like today when more Jews speak English than Hebrew. As a note the Septuagint at around 250 BC is a good 1000 years older and closer to the source documents than is the Masoretic text.

Anyway – here is a translation of the Septuagint version of the same Exodus 20 version:

1 – I am Jehovah your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt and out of the house of slavery. So, you must have no gods other than Me.

2 –You must not make images for yourselves of anything in the skies above, on the earth below, or things that live in the water under the earth. You must not bow before them or serve them, for I Jehovah your God am a jealous God, and I bring the sins of the ancestors upon the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of those who hate Me. But I am merciful to the thousands who love Me and keep My Commandments.

3 –You must not misuse the Name of Jehovah your God, for Jehovah your God will not forgive those who misuse His Name.

4 –Keep the Sabbath day and make it holy. You may work and get everything done in six days, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of Jehovah your God, and you must do no work… not you, your son, your daughter, your male servant, your female servant, your ox, your burro, any of your cattle, or any strangers that are visiting among you. Because, Jehovah made the sky, the ground, the sea, and everything in them, then He rested on the seventh day. So, Jehovah blessed the seventh day and made it sacred.

5 – Honor your father and mother, as Jehovah your God commanded you, so that things may go well for you and that you may live a long time in the land that Jehovah your God is giving you.

6 – You must not commit adultery.

7 –You must not steal.

8 –You must not commit murder.

9 –You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.

10 –You must not desire your neighbor’s wife, his house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his burro, any other animal, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.

Let’s take a look at these things from two different perspectives – the Judeo/Christian (same roots) and the agnostic/atheist (since most libs are too dumb to know the difference).

1 through 4 only apply to believers, since they discuss the relationship with God. For the non-believer they are a non-issue.

Honor father and mother. Many children seem to unintentionally carry childhood resentments into adulthood and taking care of aging parents can be a bit of a strain. For the believer the commandment can be a steadying influence when the temptation is to abuse or ignore parents. There is nothing other than perhaps some sense of gratitude to steady the non-believer. By extension, if we as a society allow children to be killed for convenience how big a step is it to allow the extermination of the elderly for convenience or financial reasons?

No adultery. Enough for the believer. For the non-believer – why not? What good reason is there to not commit adultery? If it feels good – do it. And it feels pretty good until you get caught.

Stealing. God forbids it. Enough for the believer. For the non-believer – WHY NOT? What could be wrong (if you can get away with it) with enriching yourself at the expense of someone else’s wealth? Why should you care? Why should anyone else matter?

Killing/Murder. There is some difference here. The Masoretic text says killing, the Septuagint says Murder. Without getting too hung up here, most of the Jewish scholars and Christian Fathers have said that it was OK to defend yourself against attack, and that serving in the military was fine. So, it would seem that the issue here is murder, not justifiable (but regrettable) killing. For the believer – he knows that God values each life and that to take that life is the prerogative of God, not man. Indeed, to the believer each life is sacred because it is valued by God. The non-believer has no such rationale. Why should you not murder if it is really in your best interest? If you clearly gain something and do not get caught, what reason would stop you?

As far as desiring/coveting neighbor’s possessions – is that not what the whole current liberal (non-believer) strategy of envy/resentment is about? For what possible reason should you not resent/envy those who have more than you?

If there is no God – or you believe that – there is no reason that anyone can give that places anything else above one’s own desires. There is no reason that anyone else’s life should be valuable except as it relates to you. If you do not believe then the life of the unborn has no value unless you decide that it does TO YOU. If you do believe then the life of the unborn does have value and importance apart from any relationship to your existence. If you do not believe that there is God this does not affect His existence – but it does affect yours and those around you. For if there is no God in your world then there is no reason for there to be any morality. Good and evil have reality only as they relate to your judgment. If you change your mind then you change your morals – or lack of them. There are no absolutes for the unbeliever other than as are the mood of the moment. Everything becomes relative to the moment and is changeable.

Now – for the angry liberal atheist/agnostic who wants to scream that murder, theft, etc. are wrong – I pose the question: WHY? If there is no God, and there are no absolutes without a God – then why should one not follow one’s own desires with only the caveat that one must not get caught – the eleventh commandment to some. Without a God why should I not put my desires far above yours or anyone else’s?

Maddie’s Best Ever Nut Bread

26 May 13 by

This is from the wonderful girl that was my first love many (many) years ago. She is right, this is pretty good stuff.

{Herself Sez: Himself has impeccable taste. Maddie is a sweetheart and VERY married for many years! :-)}

The internet is wonderful for finding and keeping in touch with people that you haven’t seen for nearly 50 years.

660 g sugar (3 cups)
190 g Crisco, plain (1 cup)
9 g vanilla (2 tsp)
4 ea eggs, large
630 g flour (4 1/2 cups)
11 g salt (2 tsp)
10 g baking soda (2 tsp)
((420
g water (1 3/4 cups) AND <<==
40 g buttermilk powder (1/4 cups)) <<== OR
2 cups
Buttermilk
160 g chopped walnuts (1 1/2 cups)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

This method assumes a decent mixer like a Kitchenaid. You can mix by hand if you like.

Cream together shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and eggs. Now those who have been paying attention know that I seldom use shortening, I usually use butter. This is one of the places that you do not want butter. You would not get much, if any, lift. Your nut bread would be very dense and heavy. I think the best way to handle the Crisco is to get the bars. You probably already know the best way to measure out of a can, but I’ll review for you. If you need a cup of water or butter or anything else of a like consistency, then take a two cup measure and put in a cup of water. Begin adding the shortening until the water rises to the two cup mark. Pour off the water and you have a cup of shortening. As the philosopher said: “Eureka!” Of course, it is much easier to just weigh things.

Add the buttermilk and mix briefly. Now things will be better if you have some real buttermilk. I don’t keep it around, but I do keep a good grade of baker’s buttermilk powder. You can get it from King Arthur or your grocery may carry some. Bob’s Red Mill is a decent brand. At any rate, either use the fresh buttermilk or the powder and water. You will get a slightly lighter loaf with real buttermilk.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until completely incorporated. Add walnuts and mix just enough to incorporate.

Pour into three greased 9x5x3 loaf pans. I do use unsalted butter for the lube, but you can use what you like.

Bake at 350°F for one hour. Cool on a rack.

Like any other nut bread, this works well naked, spread with butter, served with ice cream, whipped cream, or whatever. Also works nicely toasted. This stuff also freezes rather nicely.

{Herself Sez: Sorry about no pictures – have to take some next time Himself makes this bread!}

Leg of Lamb with Citrus Dressing

20 April 13 by

{{Herself Sez: With Pascha (Orthodox Easter) approaching on May 5, 2013, I’m posting (for Himself) one of his recipes for lamb – a traditional food for Pascha. Enjoy!}}

This is a rather good variation on the normal mint-sauce roast lamb. The basic roasting of a lamb leg is not something that varies a whole lot. The main difference here is the dressing. So – let’s roast a leg.

1 leg of lamb – around 3 lbs.
1 Tbs salt
1/2 Tbs freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1 small orange, sliced
1 large lemon, sliced
1/2 tsp rosemary (or about 1 sprig fresh)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Grind up the salt, pepper, chopped garlic, and rosemary together with a mortar and pestle to make a rough-grained paste. Then rub the lamb all over with the spice mix. Rub gently with the olive oil, don’t rub off the spices. {If the olive oil is rubbed on first, and the spices rubbed on after that, as the roast heats up, about 90% of the spicing drips off. Also, the spices don’t have a chance to “sink into” the roast, giving up their flavor to the meat.} Place the lamb, fat side up, on a rack in a large baking pan and cover with orange and lemon slices secured by toothpicks. If you want a crustier outside then don’t cover with the orange and lemon slices. Baking time will vary, depending on your taste. Essentially, do it as you normally would if you have a preference. I use a thermometer and cook in a 375° oven until it is 155° internally. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes to reabsorb the juices and stabilize temperature – it will coast up to 160°, which is medium and very nice. Since I cook by temperature, not time, oven variation is not a big factor, but I do occasionally mis-time the roast and the rest of the meal. (About 25 min a pound – give or take).

Just before the roast is ready jam the dressing together. This stuff sounds weird, and the first taste is sometimes weird – but it has one of the nicest after-tastes ever. Be prepared with some mint sauce in case someone doesn’t like this – but I think that most will find it very nice.

1 zest of a small orange – or some dried orange peel
1 zest of a small lemon – or some dried lemon peel
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic
1 Tbs chopped fresh oregano leaves – or 1 tsp dried
1 Tbs salt – sea salt is good
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Just dump all the dressing ingredients into a blender and make it smooth

Slice up the roast and serve it with the dressing. You can pour the dressing over the slices or serve it on the side in small bowls for dipping. I think you will enjoy this.

Roulade Delicious

20 April 13 by

It is time to revisit the good old roulade. I have written on these goodies before with the title Roll ‘Em Up – Beef. You can look that one up so I will not give all the discussion in that previous article.

 1  ea flank steak

So what you need is a nice flank steak. You can ask your butcher to run it through the tenderizing machine one in each direction. This should give you a thickness of about 1/4” and also enlarge and tenderize all at once. If you don’t do that just take a tenderizing mallet and keep whacking with the rough side until you get the aforementioned 1/4” thickness. Try not to knock holes in the beef while you are having fun.

Now you need a stuffing. I will give you a recent one that we liked. You are certainly welcome to use your own ideas and variations.

1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot OR several small ones, chopped (about 1/2 volume of onion)
2 ribs celery, chopped (about 1/2 volume of onion)
8 oz mushrooms, chopped
2-3 slices ham and/or prosciutto, chopped
unsalted butter
olive oil

Heat olive oil and unsalted butter in a heavy skillet until the butter stops foaming and just begins to color. Turn the heat down and gently sauté the onion for a couple of minutes. Add carrots and celery and continue sautéing for another minute or so. Add the mushrooms and continue the sauté for another couple of minutes. You may need a bit more  olive oil/butter.  Add the ham/prosciutto and keep cooking gently for one or two minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

1 cup beef broth, chicken broth, or vegetable broth
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup rice
salt
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

Heat the broth in a saucepan. You can add ¼ cup of red wine to the liquid. That is good. Mix chopped garlic and salt and grind together with a mortar and pestle if you have them, or just use a cutting board and spoon to mash and stir if necessary. Add the garlic and salt mixture to the saucepan. Heat some olive oil/butter in a pan and, when the foaming stops, add in the rice and stir to get all the grains covered with lube. You only need medium heat for a minute or two. We use a rice mix with white, brown, and wild rice. Whatever you use, add it to the saucepan – be careful – if the broth is at or near boiling temp and you dump hot rice in it is going to boil up nicely. Sort of a sizzling rice effect. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. (Or whatever your rice requires.)

olive oil
unsalted butter
1/3 cup vermouth
1/3 cup beef broth

Heat the pan with the stuffing and add the rice to it. This would be a good time to taste and add whatever spices you like. Salt and pepper are just about always going to be needed. Others are optional. Spread the stuffing over the flattened flank steak. You may have some stuffing left over. That is fine. You can make some sandwiches with the goodie and some mayo or whatever later. Anyway, spread the stuffing, roll the steak and tie it up with butcher’s twine enough to hold it together. Be sure to secure the ends also. Get a heavy Dutch oven, lube with olive oil/butter. When the butter stops foaming and is golden start searing the roast. About 2 to 3 minutes for each side all the way around. Remove the roast, turn off the heat and add 1/3 cup of vermouth and 1/3 cup beef broth. Turn the heat back on, boil and whisk all the little pan goodies in. When the liquid is reduced by about half, add enough vegetable or chicken broth to get about 1/2” or so of liquid. Put in the roast and simmer, covered for 20 minutes per side.

3 Tbs butter
1/3 cup vermouth
1/3 cup beef broth
vegetable or chicken broth

While the roast rests (tented with foil on a cutting board) prepare the sauce. Add 1/3 cup vermouth and 1/3 cup broth to the liquid. Whisk while boiling rapidly. When reduced enough to start getting a bit thickish turn down the heat and add butter a tablespoon at a time, whisking each until melted and emulsified. Carve the roast, plate, and drizzle sauce over the slices. Serve immediately.

For those who wondered: the olive oil and butter combo does have a good reason. Yes, you could use either by itself, but the butter gives a sweeter, more intense taste than the olive oil alone. Olive oil raises the burning temp of the butter enough to make it practical as a sautéing medium and is healthier than butter alone. This is a very old and traditional medium and is very tasty and satisfactory. Oh yeah – we use unsalted butter so that we can control the amount of salt in the food and not get over-salting, which is not only unhealthy – but also tastes bad.

{{Herself sez: OMG! This is WONDERFUL! 5 Yummies! But not for Great Lent – or any other Orthodox fasting season.}}

Five-Spice Chicken

13 April 13 by

OK. I confess. I haven’t been much of a cackle fan over the years. I finally figured it out. 90% of the Americans who cook chickens just don’t take the time to do it right, and the majority of American chicken does not taste like chicken (funny, everything else is supposed to). Mostly American chickens don’t taste at all. Anyway, get free range birds that are not force grown when you can. The taste difference is rather dramatic. Even better – if you are somewhere that you can – raise your own and slaughter them when they are the proper age. We shall serve no bird before its time. (Does anyone else remember Orson Welles doing the wine commercials?) Anyway, Herself is a cackle connoisseur – or a yard-bird yokel, if you prefer, and has convinced me that all cackles are not bad. So now we cackle every now and then.

This is one of those things that can be done several different ways. The marinade can be muchly varied, but this is a very good basic. I’ll do some more elaborate marinades over the next couple of months.

1 Roasting hen – 5 or 6 pounds
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots
1-1/2 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp five-spice powder
1-1/2
Tbs
 Nước Mắm – Vietnamese fish sauce (1)
1-1/2 Tbs soy sauce (low sodium is good here)
1-1/2 Tbs dry sherry
Nước Chấm (1)
Horizontal Rotisserie Chicken

Horizontal Rotisserie Chicken

Mince the garlic, shallots, and sugar together. The best way to do this is a mortar and pestle, but you could use a food processor. Get the mix rather fine and add in the salt, pepper, and 5 spice powder and mix together well. Stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce, and sherry. A comment about soy sauce: if you use full sodium soy sauce cut the added salt by half or leave it out altogether – that stuff is salty. Gently slide your fingers between the skin and the meat as best you can without tearing the skin. Slip a good bit of the mix in and then rub the rest over the surface of the bird, working it in well. Let things soak at least 4 hours (or overnight) in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. You can use most any wine you like but the dry sherry is rather traditional Vietnamese.

You can do this three ways that are rather good:

  1. Rotisserie – on the spit for about 1-1/2 hours (my favorite)
  2. Vertical roaster in the oven at 450°F for about 15 minutes and then 350°F for about 1-1/4 hours
  3. Split the bird in half and cook on a grill over medium hot coals skin side down for about 15 minutes, flip and roast another 15 minutes.

No matter which method you use you are trying for done chicken – about 160°F with crisp skin. You will have blackish looking skin, BUT – it should be blackened from the Maillard reaction, not from burning. Let the bird sit for about 10 minutes. If you are using an indoor rotisserie then you can keep the spit turning with no heat. That keeps the juices in while they are being re-absorbed.

This goes nicely with a Nước Chấm (1) dipping sauce. Rice is also handy, as is a side salad. The only disadvantage to this method is that the carcass shouldn’t be used for making soup or stock.

(1) Discussion of Nước Chấm and Nước Mắm is found HERE.

Can She Bake a Cherry Pie, Billy Boy

13 April 13 by

Well, yeah, if she follows this recipe she can.

  —–Crust—–
1 pie Crust
1 pie Top (optional)
    —–Filling—–
675 g cherries, fresh or frozen (1-1/2 lb.)
160 g sugar (2/3 cup)
110 g water
30 g lemon juice (2 Tbs)
36 g cornstarch (4 Tbs)
1/4 tsp vanilla or almond extract (optional)
Slice of Cherry Pie

Slice of Cherry Pie

For the crust: Make (or buy) a single pie shell for an un-topped pie, or two shells for a covered pie. If you buy them they usually come 2 to a pack. That’s all a matter of what you like. I don’t care for covered pies, too much pastry. On the other side, herself does like them for some odd reason. So – follow what you like. If you make the crust do a quick pre-bake with a chain or some hard beans in the bottom shell. If using a store-bought crust this is not necessary.

For the filling: With fresh cherries be sure to wash, stem and pit. Take a taste and adjust the sugar if they are especially tart. This isn’t usually necessary if using the frozen jobbies, and they are already stemmed and pitted. Put the cherries, water, lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch into a pot big enough to allow some stirring room. Apply a reasonable amount of heat and stir often. Things will probably come to a boil if using fresh cherries. Frozen seem to thicken up before there is a real boil. Don’t worry about things starting up looking a little shy on water. Just keep a close eye on things. As usual, when fruit and sugar are involved with a little heat the liquid increases. Stir and heat until things thicken up a good bit and the cherries soften. Add the extract if you like.

Let the filling cool a little bit and spoon into the shell. Allow for a little expansion as things get hot. Also be aware that there will be just a little shrinkage as things cool back down after cooking. If you are going to put a lid on the pie now is the time. Slash or cut out some pretty shapes for steam vents or you will have a mess. Crimp the top in place. Whether topped or not, cover the edge with foil. (Actually I use a neat silicon edge protector.) Used to be you could tell who made which topped pie by the design in the top. The crimp pattern around the edge was also a good identifier.

Bake at 350°F for about 45 minutes, then pull the foil or edge protector off and bake for another 10 or 15 minutes untill the whole crust is a nice golden brown.

If you want a really glossy finish for any topped pie just brush the top with milk or cream and sprinkle lightly with sugar before baking.


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