Archive for the ‘Yummy Sounds +5’ Category

Ecuadorian Salsa

16 May 14

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

Maddie’s Best Ever Nut Bread

26 May 13

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!}

Roulade Delicious

20 April 13

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.}}

Danish Pastry

30 March 12

Danish pastry is just another laminated dough which can be made from any laminated type recipe, such as this. Or you can use the croissant dough of your choice, it’s all the same. I’ve given a recipe for croissants before. This is not quite as rich and is more suited to stuffing in my opinion, but follow your own taste buds.

Pecan and Maple Danish

Pecan and Maple Danish (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Note that you will work this dough cold at all times. Keep the kitchen cool. If your hands get warm cool them off with a bit of ice or rinse with cool water. It is not necessary to have a metal or stone counter to work this stuff. My countertop is wood and works just fine.

To make the basic dough:

—–Butter Center—–
unsalted butter, slightly softened (1-1/2 cup)
38 g bread flour (1/4 cup)


—–Dough Outer—–
525 g flour (3-1/2 cups)
110 g water (1/2 cup)
2 pkgs. yeast
1 egg
180 g cold milk (3/4 cup)
80 g sugar (1/3 cup)
3 g salt (1/2 tsp)

With a decent mixer making the dough is not hard. Without, you will need lots of elbow grease.

—– Butter Center —–
Get the butter just warm enough to be plastic, but not really soft. Cream the butter until it is soft and silky then add the 38 g (1/4 cup) of flour and blend completely. Put down a sheet of waxed paper on the counter and plop the butter into the center. Cover with another sheet of waxed paper and press it out with your hands to make a very neat and precise 9” x 11” rectangle. Be very fussy about getting it accurate and really square. No – I’m not just being obsessive – it does matter. Slide onto a sheet pan and put into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

—– Dough Outer —–
Mix together the 525g (3-1/2 cups) flour, water, yeast, egg, milk, sugar, and salt. Mix 3 minutes 1st speed, and 3 minutes 2nd speed. You may use either bread flour or all-purpose flour. I think that bread flour makes a nicer crust. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 10 minutes or so.

Sprinkle your work surface with a generous amount of flour. When you turn the dough out it will be soft, but somewhat stiff with the cold. Roll out to a 10” x 14” rectangle. Once again be somewhat fussy about the size and squareness. Place the butter on top of the dough offset such that 3 of the sides have a 1/2” border of dough. Roughly 1/3 of the dough will be exposed at one end. Starting with the exposed dough end make a 2 part book fold. In other words fold the exposed end over the butter, which should be about 1/3 of the length, fold again so that the finished piece is 1/3 the length of the original. Be fussy and make sure all is aligned and square. Put the dough on a jelly roll sheet or cookie sheet, cover, and put in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes take the dough back out and roll out to a 10” x 14” rectangle, do the double book fold, and put it back in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Repeat twice more – a total of 4 times folded. Kinda’ like Japanese or Damascus steel. A whole bunch of thin layers of dough and butter alternated. This is why this kind of thing is called laminated dough.

Egg Wash:
Beaten egg yolk with a teaspoon of cold water.

Croissants:
Now you can make croissants if you like, roll out into a rectangle 15” wide by 1/8” thick and as long as it winds up. Cut in half so that you have 2 strips 7-1/2” wide. Cut triangles with a base of 4-1/2” and a length of 7-1/2”. Roll the croissants from the base toward the point and then form into the crescent shape that gives them their name. Brush them with an egg wash if you want them shiny. Bake at 425°F for 20 minutes until golden.

Some other shapes are cockscombs, pinwheels, envelopes and braids – well, false braids work nicely.

Cockscomb:
Roll pastry into 16” x 18” rectangle. Cut longwise into 4 strips. Spread about 2 tablespoons down the center of each strip. Fold the dough over and seal. Cut into 3 pieces. Notch the folded side of each piece 7 times. Bow the pieces on the sealed side so that the notches open up. You can refrigerate overnight. Heat the oven to 400°F. Brush with egg and bake 5 minutes, drop the oven to 350°F and bake for another 15 minutes.

Pinwheels:
Roll dough into 18” square, cut in half both ways so that you have 4 9” squares. Re-roll the squares if necessary. Make a 4” slit from each corner toward the center. Put whatever filling you like, about 1 tablespoon between each 2 slits, 4 tablespoons per pinwheel. Fold over every other point of the corners into the center. This will partly cover the filling and form the pinwheel shape. It may help to wet the tips to make them stick better. Cover with plastic, refrigerate overnight. Brush with egg, cook 5 minutes in 400°F oven. Reduce to 350°F and cook another 30 minutes.

Envelopes:
Roll dough into 18” square, cut in half both ways so that you have 4 9” squares. Re-roll the squares if necessary. Put 2 tablespoons of filling in opposite corners and fold like an envelope. Cover with plastic, refrigerate overnight. Brush with egg, cook 5 minutes in 400°F oven. Reduce to 350°F and cook another 30 minutes.

False Braid:
One of the niftiest ways of doing things. Cut the dough book in half and roll the half into an 8” by 16” rectangle. You will need about 1 cup of filling. Lightly mark the strip into thirds lengthways. With a pastry knife start at one end and cut off a triangle about 1” wide at the side and to the top at the other end. Should be about 30° or so. Cut the remainder of the pastry into 1” strips on each side.

The little drawing should make things a bit clearer. Lightly mark the dotted lines so you can keep things even. Cut off and discard areas ‘X’. Or make them into mini croissants. Cut the strips in the areas marked ‘Y’. Cover the area ‘Z’ with filling. Starting at the end that you cut the ‘X’s from alternately fold the strips over to the opposing side, which will cover the filling nicely. Roll each end over, moisten and pinch closed neatly. Cover with plastic, refrigerate overnight. Brush with egg, cook 5 minutes in 400°F oven. Reduce to 350°F and cook another 30 minutes.

Glaze:
1-1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar. ½ stick melted unsalted butter. A few drops of lemon juice. 1 tsp vanilla. Add water as necessary to make a smooth glaze to drizzle over the pastry. Can be used over any of the pastries.

Fillings are multitudinous. A few are as follows:

Almond Filling:
1 egg white
1/2 cup almond paste
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

Cardamom Filling:
6 Tbs soft butter
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup currants
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Macaroon Filling:
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup finely crushed almond macaroons
1/2 tsp almond extract

Pecan Filling:
1/4 cup soft butter
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp rum extract

Your favorite jam, jelly or marmalade if they are good and thick can be used for filling.

Gazpacho

24 November 10

This is an ancient Andalusia (Spanish) dish. No one knows exactly how far back it goes. It may have roots in Rome, or possibly the Visigoths. Wherever it came from it is pretty popular in Spain, Portugal, and parts of South America. This is a nice cold tomato based soup. Very tasty and NOT the over peppered and generally tasteless stuff you get in so-called Mexican places here in the US. (Most American Mexican food bears even less resemblance to the real deal than American Italian food does to the real stuff.)

Many of the Spanish variations have a stale bread base – but this one is just pure veggies and rather refreshing in the hot days of summer.

1 each cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled 

Seeding a Cucumber

 

2 each orange or red bell peppers, cored and seeded 

Seeding Bell Pepper

 

4 each plum tomatoes 

Plum Tomatoes

 

1 each onion 

Purple Onion

 

3 each garlic cloves (a whole fist – if really mild), minced
3 cups Clamato juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup wine of choice – red preferred 

Clamato – Oil – Wine – Vinegar

 

1/2 Tbs kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Whack the veggies into rough cubes, the run through a food processor, pulsing until coarse chopped.

 

Gazpacho Veggies

 

Chopping Cuke

Pulsing Cucumber

Pulsing Peppers

Pulsing Tomatoes

Pulsed Garlic and  Purple Onions

Unstirred Pulsed Veggies in Bowl

Picture shows yellow bell peppers, red tomatoes, green cucumber and purple onion with white garlic. Makes a beautiful picture!

Dump into a bowl after each veggie. There are two schools of thought here – first school – don’t chop too fine, you are emulating what can be done with a knife. Second school – to which herself subscribes – go ahead and make it fine chopped (but not pureed). Try it both ways and decide which you like best. The advantage of fine chopped is that you can just suck it out of a cup when it is a bit liquid; no spoon needed.

When each veggie is to your satisfaction add in the rest and mix together well. This should really be chilled. You will find that it really benefits from sitting in the fridge for a day or two.

 

Stirred Gazpacho

Gazpacho – Done and Beautiful and Tasty!

 

Additional discussion: Clamato juice works much nicer than standard tomato juice. Wine vinegar or wine work equally well – follow your own taste buds. Use just about any color bell pepper except green. You want taste – not heat or heartburn.

Herself Sez: YUMMY! A cup of this is 2 servings of veggies. If you are on a low carb diet, this is great. If you are on a high carb diet, you can have almost as much of this as you can eat! Fabulous in the summer, not quite as tasty in the winter because the tomatoes are not as full-flavored. The onions you use are a factor, too. purple onions in the summer add a nice bite, but as the fall wears on, they become a bit bitter. Move to a sweet onion, then. Not quite as much flavor as a good purple, but much less bitter. We are eating this year round, and I can hardly wait for summer, again!

Oh, Just YUMM!!!


Fondue au Fromage Suisse Classique

10 November 10

1 garlic clove, cut in half
1 cup dry white wine
300 g Emmenthaler, cubed
300 g Gruyere, cubed
½ lemon – juiced
1 Tbs cornstarch
¼ cup Kirschwasser
Black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 loaf crusty French baguette, cubed

All that fancy title means is Classic Swiss Melted Cheese. I don’t know why American’s seem to think that anything in French must mean something fancy. This is the basic real deal fondue. If you’ve only had the stuff from packages then this will be a revelation. It is really good. As in really, really good. And yeah, these ingredients are not at all cheap.

The origin of fondue is probably just what the farmer’s had left over before the current year’s crops came in. A little cheese, bread, wine and liquor was about all they had, so they figured out how to make it really good stuff. Fondue probably comes from the same French word that foundry does. The French fondre means to melt. The Jura Mountains between France and Switzerland are the probable point of origin, but who knows.

All kinds of cutesy customs and sayings seem to have gotten tangled up with this stuff. I don’t much pay attention to anything other than the eating of the stuff. A couple that come to mind: the thin crust of cheese that tends to be left at the bottom is called la religieuse, which is French for the Nun. Actually pretty good and worth eating. Another cutesy is the custom that if you drop the dipper from your fork into the pot you kiss the nearest person of the opposite sex to your left.

We like good, crusty, homemade French baguettes chopped into cubes. You can make it stale by just leaving it out for a while beforehand, or you can heat it up in the oven. I don’t like it overcooked so that it becomes too dry. What I do is just set the oven to 200°F and let the bread warm gently for about 20 minutes.

Nice things to dip: cooked and peeled shrimp, quartered mushrooms, pieces of apple. There are fans of cubed veggies. Get most of your dippers ready just ahead of time, be sure to wash apples and anything else that will brown with a lemon juice wash.

There are a million and one variations on the ingredients. I advise sticking to this basic mix at first, then search the net and do whatever variations seem good.

I recommend using a non-stick pot for the preliminaries. Rub the garlic all over the inside of your stovetop pot, then add the wine and bring it to a simmer. Add the cheese and the lemon and stir constantly or it will lump. Just about any dry white wine will work. Herself is a big fan of Liebfraumilch, so I tend to use it, even though it is a semi-sweet rather than the normal dry – works nicely.

In a small cup or dish dissolve the cornstarch in the Kirschwasser and add it to the cheese. Add pepper and nutmeg to taste. Keep on stirring until everything is nice and smooth. Transfer the fondue into the table pot, serve and enjoy.

Yeah, you do want Kirschwasser. It is a cherry brandy, and should be pretty cheap at your local boozateria. It adds just a little hint of flavor that you don’t want to miss. Get a small bottle. Good for cooking, but I wouldn’t drink it solo.

A discussion on pots. The cheapest kind use sterno or some other burning medium to keep the cheese hot. The next step up is an electric pot and there are a few variations on that. There is the self-contained type where a thermostat just plugs into the pot, usually non-stick lined. These work pretty well, but they will tend to cycle up and down, so that the cheese will boil – not desirable – and then the element cycles off – and things form a skin on the off cycle – also not desirable – then the heat cycles back on and back up to boiling. Then there is the variation where the pot sits on an electric burner, but the cycle tends to be pretty much as before. Next is the electric burner where the actual burner heat is varied by the dial, rather than just changing a setpoint and turning the burner off and on around that setpoint – this does work some better. My favorite variation has a ceramic liner, which is removed and the pot filled with water and the liner put back in. Since there is a water bath the burner cycling off and on has very little effect on the cheese – it tends to stay a steadier temperature – a good thing.

It is Truly Meat!

4 April 10

Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen!

Herself here, posting a menu with links to recipes.

Pascha (Easter) Morning Breakfast:

Sauteed Hog Jowl
Eggs Benedict
OJ

Pascha (Easter) Noon – Lunch:

MEAT and CHEESE sandwiches!
Potato chips

Pascha (Easter) Evening Dinner:

Bad Man’s Steak
Creamed Peas
Salad with Olive Oil and Vinegar dressing
Strawberries Romanoff

O Just YUMMMM!

Bananas Foster

9 March 10
Bananas Foster at Brennan's Restaurant, New Or...

Image via Wikipedia

In the 1950’s the famous New Orleans Brennen’s Restaurant chef Paul Blangé created this decadently tasty goody and named it after one of the New Orleans biggies: Richard Foster.

½ stick unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
1 cup brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup banana liqueur
4 bananas, quartered: in half crosswise , then lengthwise
¼ Cup dark rum
8 scoops vanilla ice cream

You will want a good non-stick skillet for this as it really makes a sticky mess. Get the butter melted but not overly hot and add the brown sugar and cinnamon. Using low heat stir gently until the sugar dissolves. You may need to up the heat a bit if things are not working right, but don’t go much at a time. Stir in the banana liqueur and then place the bananas in the pan and scoop liquid up over them. Cook gently until the bananas soften. Remove from the fire and pour the rum carefully over everything. Place back on the heat and strike a stick lighter to flame the rum. If you are practiced and/or gutsy and/or just nuts then you can get the flame by just tilting the skillet over the burner. This is also likely to make a large mess – so I usually just use a stick lighter.

When the flames go out then scoop four pieces of banana and ¼ of the juice over each bowl of ice cream. Be sure to use a really good grade of French Vanilla the first time you try this. After that – just be guided by your own decadent taste buds.

This must be made and served immediately. It will not keep for any time at all. If you want to be really impressive get out your chafing dish and make it at the table (or get your butler to do it). {{Herself Sez: O Bunter, Where Art Thou?}}

This serves four. It is totally rich and delicious. It is not very difficult to make nor is it really all that expensive. Banana liqueur is not terribly expensive. Hercule Poirot drinks it before dinner in Hickory Dickory Dock, but that really is a bit much for me and I tend to reflect Chief Inspector Japp’s attitude about it.

Pâte à Crêpes

18 October 09

Your basic French pancakes are called crêpes. You have heard of them even if you haven’t had them. Like a good many of the world’s greatest tastes, they are a whole lot easier to make than you may think. The main problem is that people who are good cooks are not necessarily food teachers and/or writers. Just follow these simple directions and you will get perfect results every time.

First – start off with Julia Child’s basic crêpe recipe.

——–Base – night before——–

1 cup cold water
1 cup cold milk
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 Tbs melted unsalted butter

——–Cooking——–

3 Tbs skillet lube
3 Tbs unsalted butter (or more)

Put all the night before ingredients into a blender the night before. Mix it up on high speed for about a minute. If some of the flour got stuck to the side(s) of the blender then just scrape it down and blend for a couple more seconds. Stick the whole vessel in the refrigerator and let it chill overnight. Julia gives a 2 hour minimum but I find that it works better overnight.

If you followed the above measures you shouldn’t have any problem with the thickness. When you take the blender vessel out of the ridge you may have a little bit of separation at the top. No biggie – just put back onto the blender and hit it for a couple of seconds.

Now melt a small amount of butter in a small skillet or other small pan. You do NOT need to spend multi-bucks on dedicated and specialized crêpe pans, just use a medium non-stick slope sided pan. You do want to get a silicon basting brush since the old-fashioned bristles melt when used for hot pan lubing. I’ve had very good result with a silicon brush. It doesn’t do basting very well but does do hot pan lubing quite nicely. Lube up the crêpe skillet with a very thin layer of lube of choice. I like butter, but olive oil or any other kitchen oil of choice can be used. Pour a thin layer about half the diameter of your skillet and swirl it around until there is a very thin lay coating the bottom. Relax for a while – a short while. Now we could talk about cooking time and all sorts of other things, but that is not necessary. When you get the temperature right – which is highly dependent on your stove, burner size, pan size, etc – you will know it. Anyway – just watch the crêpe, when the liquid look has disappeared from the top of the crêpe and the shiny has been replaced by a smooth mat look, then flip it. When you have the temperature and the time right it only takes another thirty seconds or so to do the second side. Flipping. Not rocket science. I use a silicon spatula to lift one edge, then grab with fingers and flop it over. You can do the fancy in the air flip if you are so inclined. Do shake the pan just a bit to make sure that the crêpe settles down with full contact.

You generally only have to re-lube about every second or third crêpe or so.

Now, stuffings. Basically whatever you like. Grated hardboiled egg, grated cheese, ham, prosciutto, sour cream, whipped cream, cottage cheese, caviar, jam of one kind or another. Whatever you like. A rather traditional is two spears of asparagus, some shredded cheese, a couple of strips of ham. Make them sweet, make them tart, make them whatever you like. Sour cream, a light sprinkle of caviar and minced onion or shallot is nice. Sprinkle inside or outside with powdered sugar if you like. Oh yeah, I guess that you do know to roll them up with the goodies in the middle. You may want to brush the inside with melted butter before adding the stuffing.

You can make a breakfast, lunch, dinner, or desert with these little goodies. After you do your first batch you will realize that thinking of these as hard or complicated is nonsense. They are pretty easy, after all.

It works better if you make them up ahead and keep on a warming plate and serve with all the goodies in little dishes so that each can make his own. Alternatively have a second person stuffing and wrapping as fast as they come off the pan. It is just about impossible for one person to get them cooked and stuff before they all get cold.

You may notice that these are very similar to blini, you can stuff them samey-samey if you like. You can use yeast in a blin (plural blini) if you like – but never in a crêpe.

{{Herself Sez: I find myself treating these like blini, but there are many other ways to go! Crepes St. Jacques, using Coquille St. Jacques as stuffing and as a “pour-over” is fabulous! So is a stuffing of a cheese blend (cottage cheese, ricotta, and marscapone or cream cheese plus a Tbs or so of sherry) with either a fruit jam or warm fruit compote on top. YUM!}}

Basic Cobblers –

24 September 09

Cobblers are mostly US and UK in usage. ‘Course the Brits don’t mean the same as we do by the word. What was that about two peoples separated by a common language? Methinks that G.B. Shaw had it right. Anyway – to the American a cobbler is a desert with the crust on the bottom and usually some kind of very sweet fruit mix through which the crust rises and mingles as it cooks. You wind up with a nice brownish crust on top and a kinda’ dumpling sort of consistency through the middle of the goodie.

The Brits mean a meat pie or casserole sort of thing with a Cobbler – or biscuit – scone-like kind of topping. The Brits are starting now to realize that fruit fillings are also a good thing – but they mostly still put the crust only on the top.

The American cobbler has had many variations over the past couple of centuries: Grunt, Sonker, Betty, Buckle, Slump – and so on. Mostly a New England sort of thing in the beginning – but it has spread all over the country.

There is some disagreement as to whether Yankee flour – such as King Arthur – or Southern flour – such as Martha White – does better. A matter of personal taste, in my opinion. Get a bit more rise out of the King Arthur, which I like. Suit yourself and just use whatever you have handy in the way of an all-purpose type. If it is the old-fashioned Self-Rising Southern type then leave out the baking powder.

—–Fruit—–

340 g fruit (2-1/2 cups)
210 g sugar (1 cup)

—–Crust—–

150 g all-purpose flour (1 cup)
8 g baking powder (2 tsp)
4 g salt (1/2 tsp)
245 g milk (1 cup)
1 stick butter, melted (1/2 cup)
Cream, whipped cream or ice cream, if desired

—– Fruit —–

Most Berries: Stir together berries and sugar in a bowl big enough to hold them. Let stand about 20 minutes and then stir again gently. You should see a bit of syrup which has formed. Works fine for Blackberries, strawberries and the like. May not work for blueberries – I haven’t tested them yet.

Peaches: Blanche for 1 minute, then plunge in an ice bath for 1 minute. Peel, pit, cube or slice. Boil with sugar and 70g (1/3 cup) water, Simmer for 10 minutes. You can add a bit of cinnamon or whatever else tickles your taste.

Apples: Core, peel, slice. Use brown sugar. Can be boiled and simmered or mixed with crust. Cinnamon is pretty good with apples.

—–Crust—–

Mix flour, baking powder, salt and milk. Add the butter and stir just until blended. Pour into an ungreased pan big enough to hold everything with some room at the top. Spoon the fruit mixture over the batter.

Bake at 375°F for 45 to 55 minutes or until the dough rises through the fruit and is golden. I usually set the pan on top of a jelly-roll pan covered with aluminum foil. Otherwise a mess is had by all when the sugary fruit mix boils over the sides. An oven cleaning is then in order – NOT my favorite kitchen activity.

Serve warm with cream. Or with ice cream. Can be stored in the fridge and re-heated. Heat up in a 350°F oven for 20 to 30 minutes.

You can up to double the fruit filling if you want more fruit to crust ratio. You can adjust the sugar down if it is too much for you. Being a very traditional Southerner I like my peach or apple cobbler fairly sweet – but suit yourself.


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