Categories
Cooking Uncategorized

I Am Not Fried Boloney Sandwich





I’ve been wanting weird sandwiches lately, like a fried boloney sandwich1, but without the utter gross of boloney. Luckily, there is this fancy faux-bologna stuff called mortadella that allows me to savor the joys of fried boloney without the possibility of suffering a largely imaginary slap on the taste buds by a pair of raunchy desert oysters. No, that would not due at all. And, yeah, purists, I’m calling mortadella boloney, so up yours! I read up on it before posting, and you’re all full of crap. It’s a beef/pork/whatever loaf with special seasonings in it, and some cubes of fat, and some pistachios and peppercorns, but it is what it is: a fancied-up, yet utterly delicious bologna!







Out of the brown wrapping and into the grill pan! In case you didn’t know (perhaps some perspective was in order?) these slices have about a 12″ diameter, so at least 4 slices are required for a sandwich, but who would argue with more? Start with the grill pan mega-hawt and add a splash of olive oil. They fry up super-quick, and take on an elegant brown blistering faster than you’d imagine, so you have to fry flip and cheese with no delay, otherwise the cheese may not have sufficient time to melt over the meat.







I asked for a few slices of provolone, any’ll do, at the swank cheese counter I frequent, and they gave me a thinly sliced half-lb of the stuff that is melting over the mortadella. I’ve got no idea what it is called, but I recommend dropping some coin on some bomb ultra-lux provalone sometime. This stuff had a crisp, tangy bite. I daresay it made the sandwich. In general, I regard most provolone’s as just something one puts with italian-style meats as a matter of course, just so that you can tell yourself, you slapped some cheese on it, but it’s never been game-changing like this stuff was. I’ve got some inquiring to do… The red things are Mama Lil’s Peppers. I’ve liked these for a while, but lately I have become obsessed with them. They’re kinda like other pickled peppers, except a million times better (literally.)







Here we are, at the last paragraph, and I have an admission to make: I totally ripped-off the idea for this sandwich from an venerable food cart here in portland called Lardo, but I’m not ashamed of it. Listen, I’d planned on eating hot dogs for dinner that night, and the meat counter was out of Sabretts! I had to think quick on my feet! And I said to hell with it, I’m making some fried-boloney sandwiches for dinner! (With a side of sugar snap peas for good health…)







Fried Mortadella Sandwiches
to make 4 sandwiches



• 4- small loaves of crusty french bread or ciabatta, toasted
• 16- thin slices of mortadella
• 8- thin slices of provolone
• Mama Lil’s peppers or similar
• Lettuce, julliened
• Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper
• Additional condiments of you choice like Mayo or Mustard



Combine the peppers, a hearty handful of lettuce, a glug of the oil/brine from the peppers, and a dash of S&P, and set aside.

Heat a grill pan or whatever, and start toasting the bread. When the pan is hot add a slosh of oil to coat the pan, then slap in the mortadella in single layer. It will fry quickly, so be careful not to burn it, but allow the first side to brown nicely, then flip the slices, and arrange so that they are ready to go straight from the pan to the bread. Add the cheese as soon as possible. Hopefully, the bread is finished toasting by now, and you can quickly add some mayonnaise or mustard or both, or none even. One the mortadella is done on the second side, and it shouldn’t take longer than a minute, transfer it to the bread. Add a hearty helping of lettuce and peppers, and fold it over so that the bread and everything comes together in a sandwich-like manner.



1I can’t footnote the title, but if I could I’d add the same note: I (also, it would seem) ripped-off the title of this post from a great novel about a young man who looks exactly like Sidney Poitier.

Categories
Cooking

Chicken Liver Pâté





Some people grab a Nutrageous, or some weird flavored gum as an impulse purchase. This guy: Two pounds of chicken livers. I don’t even like chicken livers. I’ll go one step further: I think chicken livers are fucking disgusting—on their own, of course. Inject half a lb. of fancy butter into them, it’s a new deal. The recipe I used, from Canal House Cooking Vol. 3 calls for 12oz of chicken livers. The frozen block of those joints I grabbed clocked in at 2.34lbs. Damn that’s a lot of liver! So I doubled the recipe. I should really say that the CHC recipe inspired me, because I ended up substituting and forgetting so many details of it (and it’s only a paragraph long) that I can’t say with any certainty that the results are similar outside of the preposterous amount of butter that goes into it. I got that part right.







Since I doubled the recipe, I started off by sautéing a couple bunches of scallions in 6 Tablespoons of Kerrygold Irish Butter, adding in 24 oz of chicken livers once the onion had softened. I don’t have a kitchen scale anymore because I bought one that ate my 9 volt battery up if I left it in the unit. GRRRR. I would ‘NOT Recommend’ it if I could remember what kind it was. So anyway, I assumed that each liver was 1oz, and I counted out 24 for of them. I cooked them until they were still pinkish on the inside, about Medium, I’d say.



Next, I transfered the livers to a food processor, and added 2 tsp of salt, 2 tsp of all-spice substitute (1 tsp cinnamin, 1/2tsp ginger, and 1/2tsp clove), and I was supposed to add 2 heaping Tablespoons of Dijon Mustard, but I forgot to do that. Then I blended the hell out of it, slowly adding 6 additional Tablespoons of BUTTER! The result should be smooth and creamy. . .







This recipe produced four ramekins of baby diarrhea. Delicious, forbidden baby diarrhea. (EDIT: Turns out baby poop is more a brown mustard-type of deal. . .)







I made fancy little crostini’s to go with it: thin slices of french bread, brushed with olive oil, and sprinkled with fleur de sel and cracked pepper and baked at 375º for 10-15 minutes. My mother-in-law keeps calling them patayta chips, some of the best she’s ever had!



I guess leaving the mustard out wasn’t too big a deal, because I slathered enough it over the toasts to more than make up for it. Although, I lurv mustard, so a double-dose wouldn’t be too bad either. I gave this stuff a sniff after I’d had it all blended up in the food processor, and yeah, I gagged a little. I’m not going to pretend like this stuff is even remotely appetizing in appearance. But, I rolled up my sleeves, and plunged a bite into my skeptical mouth, and, and . . . it was actually delicious! I have been converted. Liver w/ butter is, in fact, a terribly delicious treat.







Chicken Liver Pâté from Canal House Cooking

• 12oz of chicken livers
• 6 Tablespoons of butter (Kerrigold Irish butter is recommended)
• 1 bunch of chopped, trimmed scallions
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp ground allspice
• 1 heaping Tablespoon of Dijon Mustard
• a splash of cognac (optional)

Melt 3 Tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan. Add the scallions and cook until they are tender. Add the chicken livers, and cook until they are pinkish in the center, but not too rare. Remove from the heat, and into a food processor. Add the salt, allspice, the mustard and a splash of cognac if you like. Start to blend, slowly adding 3 additional Tablespoons of butter as it blends. Blend until it is extremely smooth. Transfer the pâte to a well-greased container or containers, cover, and refrigerate for about 8 hours, or until it has solidified. Serve with toasts or crackers with a sprinkling of chopped chives.

A Few Notes: I thought that mine turned out a bit on the grayish side, when I was expecting it to be pinkish-brown. I asked about it at a butcher that I go to, and they told me that the freshness of the livers greatly effects the color. They also said that cooking time, and cooking in aluminum would effect the color as well. My conclusion was that I perhaps over-cooked the livers just a bit, because I was terrified of them at the time. Additionally, they suggested adding mascarpone to the livers when you’re blending them for some extra creaminess. I have to admit that that sounded like a great idea! I also saw that they put theirs in a mold with dried cherries and pistachios, which also sounds great. Next time I try to make this I’m definitely going to give those variations a try.

Categories
Cooking Photography Uncategorized

Pickled Beets





I picked up a hefty bag of golden beets the other day. They were all very small, none larger than say a golf ball—-perfect for pickling! This is probably my favorite home-made pickle that I’ve done so far. I make them whenever I can procure a large number of golden or chiogga beets for relatively little money. (Sometimes beets can be extremely expensive, and other times not.) It’s super easy, and the flavor the beets take on is amazing.



Ingredients:
• 1-2 lbs small beets of any variety (enough to fill a 1 quart mason jar)
• Olive Oil and salt & pepper
• a few sprigs of tarragon
• one small bulb of fennel
• a few thick strips of orange zest

Pickling Liquid:
• 1 cup champagne vinegar (or other similar variety)
• 1/2 water
• 1/2 sugar







Preheat the oven to 375º. Toss the beets in a bowl with olive oil and some salt and pepper until they are evenly coated. Fold all of the beets up into some tin foil, and put into the oven, baking for about 45 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. Once they are done baking, allow them to cool until you are able to handle them. Then peel and trim the beets making sure they’re nice and clean. Cut the fennel into thin strips, a bit larger than say a matchstick. Put the beets and fennel into mason jar along with the orange zest and about 3 or 4 sprigs of tarragon.

Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a small pot, and bring to a simmer. Then pour it straight into the mason jar. The liquid should come right up to the brim (or at least pretty close!) Put the lid on the jar, and allow it to come to room temperature, then put it into the fridge for 2 days before eating for full pickle effect. (You can eat them sooner, if you want, but the pickling process takes a few days.) These last forever so long as they’re kept refrigerated, but I don’t reckon they’ll last too long. . .



Categories
Cooking Food Carts Portland

Food Cart Fridays: Lardo





Gabrielle and I stepped out for an early dinner (2:30PM) today at the Good Food Here food cart pod. While there are numerous good choices to be had here we decided on Lardo, because I never say no to rich fatty goodness. . . ever! The word ‘porchetta’ wins. That’s why I chose it. Gabrielle liked the cart’s colors and thought it was cute.







The Porchetta from Lardo is the third interpretation of this sandwich that I have eaten, although I have seen it on a number of menus about town. The popularity of this preparation seems to be taking a real hold in Portland, and for good reason. The wiki claims that it is traditionally made from an entire de-boned pig, which sounds the bomb, but perhaps a bit excessive, especially for a food cart. In every case that I have witnessed thus far the porchetta has been constructed by wrapping an enormous slab of pork belly around a whole tenderloin, with layers of herbs and spices, and perhaps a layer of sausage thrown in for good measure. The whole thing is roasted with the skin on, resulting in a golden crispy crust, and a moist luscious interior. If I had to guess, I’d say that this preparation turns out a good 20-30lb roast, or, just enough to feed Kevin Smith. One of the carts proprietors, Rick, allowed me to snap a photo of his porchetta roast:







As you can imagine, this is an intensely rich sandwich. Lardo prepares it on a toasted 8″ roll, that’s similar to a ciabatta, but not quite as chewy. It’s crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside, with good olive oil and gremolata on the top side, a couple layers of porchetta, and a caper aioli rounding out the bottom side. Gabrielle and I both thought that we detected a bit of anchovy in aioli, too, but we could be wrong. My first bite was intensely lemony, which gave me misgivings at first, but on second bite there was far less, which led me to believe that I might of just happened to hit on a cluster of lemon peel from the gremolata. The actual porchetta was very good, indeed. Sliced thin enough to be able to bite through effortlessly, yet still maintain the feeling of a hearty piece of pork. This is a point of contention that I have with Chop’s sandwich, in that they make theirs with one large slice of porchetta which sort of causes you to have to tear a bite off of the sandwich forcefully, rather than tenderly. You don’t want to fight with it. A sandwich like this demands to be eaten slowly, luxuriating in its glory. This sandwich was very satisfying, although I must say that I would have to dig deep within to muster the strength to eat another one in the next few days. I’d have to give it at least a week.







One thing I’d like to add though, and this is not a dig on Lardo specifically, but $8 is a lot of money for only the sandwich. What ever happened to a little side of something? I’ll grant you that places like Lardo, and Chop, and the People’s Pig, and Meat Bread Cheese, all use high quality top-notch ingredients, but shelling out another 4 to 5 bucks for a side starts to get really expensive for a lunch. I’m not asking for the world over here, but I’m just saying that something like a few simple pickles or something like that on the side would go a long way–something that you could nibble on in between bites to keep the flavors of the sandwich fresh with each bite. I know price point and profit are a tough game to play, but I think that a small accouterment would raise costumer satisfaction, and result in more repeat business. Just a thought. . .







In any case, Gabrielle ordered the Al Ceppo Pasta w/ a Tomato Pork Rágu. While it isn’t much to look at, it was a very good pasta dish. The noodles were cooked perfectly, and the sauce was rich and meaty, though the meaty part sunk to the bottom of the container for the photo. I only ate a bite or two, and I liked it a lot. Gabrielle was very fond of the tubular pasta shape, and thought that the portion size was very satisfying, just the right amount.

We would definitely visit Lardo again, and I eagerly anticipate trying their fried Mortadella and Provolone sandwich, a picture of wich is featured on their website. We wish them all the success that they can handle! Current Menu, operating hours, and web link are below.











Website: http://lardopdx.com/

Categories
Bacon Cooking Uncategorized

Duck Breasteses & Brussel Sprout Hash





Someday soon I’m going to learn how to make duck breasts some other way, but this way is just so effortless, with perfect results, that a deviation from the norm just seems . . . inadvisable. I learned how to make them from the cookbook Bouchon, a book that I am an unrepentant disciple of, and highly recommend, even though I’m sure it doesn’t require any more endorsements. The duck breast technique actually requires a slight bit more prep and foresight than is displayed in this post, but it’s all really easy. Gabrielle just happened to demand meat for dinner, and so I hopped down to the butcher and picked these up on the fly. That’s why I didn’t get to finesse them like usual.







For a side, we made a brussel sprout hash with chantrelles, potatoes and bacon. This is a pretty standard, tried and true combination. And, you know how it is with brussels–you have to smother them in some kind of fat; it might as well be a combination of bacon and duck. We got loads of them in our CSA, and so we made a huge batch of this.



Below is the scene on the stovetop. This photo is from a little late in the game, but this is what it’s all about: the white bowl is to hold all the individual ingredients for the hash while the others cook—separately. You want to be able to fry, char, caramelize, and so on rapidly. Unless you want to do a bunch of separate pans, this is the way to go. To do this kind of cooking you need like killer high heat, and if you throw everything in at once, you’ll just end up with a big mushy mess. If you had a wok with one of those rapid fire furnace burners, this would all be superfluous, but whose got that at home? You need two frying pans for the duck breasts, or rather, one for each of them if you make more than two, and then a bowl between the pans for the duck fat run-off, which is actually the main reason we’re even messing around with this cut at all. Seriously, duck fat is immeasurably valuable! Something about it makes everything more amazing!







Brussel Sprout Hash:



• a gang of brussels, sliced in half
• a pile of chantrelles, roughly chopped
• a bevy of bacon; slab, cut into 1/4″ lardons and cooked off, fat reserved
• a few potatoes, 1/4″ dice
• 2 shallots, finely diced
• s&p, and maybe some cayenne and coriander if you’re so inclined.



Heat a large sauté pan up on high heat. Throw a tablespoon or so of the reserved bacon fat into the pan. Once it starts to smoke a little, throw in the shallot and potato together, season wit a little salt and pepper and other spices if you want, and let them brown up on the side they fall on before tossing them around in the pan for a minute or two, and then remove to the bowl set to the side. Repeat with the chantrelles, and then finally with the brussels. If your cooking the breasts at the same time, it’s always a good bet to throw in some duck fat instead of or in combination with the bacon fat. The brussels will take a bit longer than the other components, but once they’re browned nicely, add the other things back into the pan, stir it up, and let it ride on low until the duck is done.







Duck Breasts:



• duck breasts
• salt and pepper
• nutmeg
• thyme



Take each breast, and cut a cross hatch into the fat, being careful not to cut into flesh. This is easier when they are very cold, so try to do it as soon as you take them out of the fridge. Salt the fat side heavily with a kosher salt, or otherwise, and grate some fresh nutmeg over the top. Rub it into the grooves, flip the breast, and lightly salt, and pepper the flesh sides. Lay a whole sprig or two of thyme over the top, place on a plate and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.

Take the breasts out of the fridge at least a half hour before you want to cook them. Preheat your frying pans to medium low, and your oven to 375º. Place the breasts in the pans skin side down, and cook for approximately 15 minutes, holding the breast in place and pouring off the rendered fat from time to time. The fat will crisp up and will become irresistible. At this point you can transfer them all to one pan if they’ll fit, and cook them flesh side down for a minute or two before transferring them to the oven for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Duck can be cooked to the same degree as steak, and therefore rare is fine, but I’ve found medium to medium rare to be more appetizing. However, DO NOT OVERCOOK them. The same rules as steak do indeed apply in this regard. Represent what? My Duck:







Categories
Cooking Uncategorized

A Healthy Meal!? Quinoa Beets & Celery Root





I’m just going to be upfront about it and let ya’ll know that I basically jacked this idea from the Mango & Tomato site. However, our two quinoa salads are quite different apart from the beets, and the, uhh, quinoa. This also happens to be composed from just about everything that I had left in the fridge, the dregs of last weeks CSA share. I like cooking this way, though. Having virtually nothing to eat except a bunch of random vegetables, if you’re lucky, and maybe a grain is a great way to dig deep and test your ability to come up with something. In most of these circumstances, I whip up a bacon gravy, and give a nice slosh to a bunch of boiled carrots. You can imagine the scene: I’m nosing around the fridge hoping that this time, a ribeye or similar will reveal itself, and being left hopelessly out of luck, I start trying to think of who I’ll call for a delivery, but then I see the big jar of quinoa that’s been sitting in the cupboard for a good probably year or more (I like quinoa in theory, just not in practice–I mean I never make it, but I should more often.) With the itemized list of veggies I have tucked away in the veggie drawer floating through my mind, I turn to a Tastespotting quinoa search, and find the beet based recipe. This is indeed what Tastespotting is for!



Quinoa Beets & Celery Root



I just wing these things. This is enough for a family of 10.

• quinoa – 2 cups
• beets – 1 bunch, raw, shredded one way or another
• celery root – cubed
• greens from black radishes (or whatever) – cut into chiffonade
• craisins – a good amount (or another dried fruit)
• salt & pepper
• toasted almond slivers
• goat cheese

Cook the quinoa. It’s made by simmering 1 part grain to 2 parts water, the same as rice. I tried shredding the beets with a microplane, then a box grater, and then I finally just sliced them into rounds, and then into very thin batons. It was a pain in the ass, but less of one then actually grating them. I had small beets, though. It’s probably easier with bigger ones. Do it the way it works best for you. Cut the celery root into 1/2″ cubes, toss with salt and pepper, and olive oil. Heat a large skillet on high heat, and add a little canola. once the oil is smoking throw the cubes in the pan. Smooth the cubes into a single layer, and cook until they brown, then toss around in the pan until they’re toothsome, but not mushy. Take your leafy green, and cut it into a very thin chiffonade. Once the quinoa is down cooking, take a bowl or a pot large enough to hold everything, and mix it all together, throwing in the craisins, (a good variation or addition would be crisp, tart apple) and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer servings to separate bowls, and top with toasted almonds and crumbled goat cheese. This is good hot or cold, which makes it a great go-to lunch for the next day, and the main reason that I made so much.

Categories
Cooking Portland Uncategorized

Pata(y)ta Pizza





Edit: Title modified per Jacinda’s admonishment in the comments



Gabrielle was so excited that she came home and there was a ‘patayta’ pizza waiting for her. I became so enraged (again) that she pronounces ‘potato’ this way that I forbade her to eat any of it until she said it the right way. OK. I lie. But it eats me up! I mean she mize well be one of these people that says ‘sangwich’! But how could I withhold this beautiful pizza from anyone who wanted a slice! (O cruel world, how you make us endure such senseless injustices!) I been killing it on the pizza front lately, though. The one I made before this should have been dag-nasty, because I’ve had it that way before—and the only guy I know who ever loved it probably lost his legs in a gambling debt by now—but the BBQ chicken joint was actually pretty good. This one, however, was slammin’! Talking ’bout a Baked Potato Pizza!!



So, yeah, I buy my pizza dough and I always keep one in the freezer. I’ve tried for years to make my own pizza dough, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just not worth the effort, especially when there is someone out there who knows how to already, and sells it for a song. I like making pizza for dinner because it’s so easy. Sometimes I don’t feel like braising short ribs on a wednesday night. And we’re not all intellectuals, so I spent my whole day at work thinking about what I wanted to go on it. I changed my mind at the last minute once I remembered that I had some left-over baby dutch potatoes languishing in the fridge. I swung by the market and picke3d up a half-pound of Neuske’s applewood smoked bacon, a block of cheddar, and a bunch of chives. Everything else I had on hand.







In order to make quality pizza at home you need a pizza stone, and in my opinion, one of these^^ things. It’s a circular grate. I bought it at a kitchen supply wholesale place, but I’m sure they have them at the box stores, as well. I’ve only been using this for about 4 pizzas, and they just keep getting better the more I make. I took too long (I’m meticulous) with the first pizza I made on it, and the dough got stuck in the grate grooves, which sucked. After that I learned to put a sheet of parchment between the dough and the grate. The way it works is you make the pizza on this and put it in the oven on top of the pizza stone. Once it has par-baked, you pull the grate out from underneath the pizza and finish cooking the pizza on the stone. It works great!

    Baked Potato Pizza:

• 1 Pizza Dough
• Olive Oil & Garlic base (minced garlic, S&P, a little cayanne, dried basil, maybe some dried italian herbs)
• A good amount of equal part shredded cheddar and mozzarella (not too much; too much cheese ruins pizza!)
• Yukon or russet potato, precooked, and sliced thin
• 1/2lb bacon, sliced pretty thin, cooked halfway. I bake mine in the oven (see this post)
• caramelized onion (see this post)
• baby spinach (optional)
• chives



Preheat Oven to 550º (some people say you should let the stone heat up for at least an hour)

Roll out the dough, and then stretch it to your desired size. If you go all out and get one of the grates, you should just stretch it to that big. Mine is a 15″ diameter one. Place a sheet of parchment between the dough and the grate, or work quickly. Spread a layer of the oil & garlic on the dough, covering as much area as possible. Then disperse the caramelized onions here and there along with a small bit of cheese. Add a layer of baby spinach, but not so much you cover the whole surface area. Spread the slices of potato around, covering essentially the whole pie, and then top with the remainder of your cheese. Finally, add the strips of bacon.

Slide the pie into the oven and let it bake for 5-10, checking occasionally to make sure that there aren’t any bubbles ballooning out of the crust. If so, pop them straight away with something sharp. Once the outer layer of crust just starts to brown, pull the pizza out, and carefully remove it from the circular grate. Return it to the pizza stone, and bake for about another 10 minutes, or until the crust is a deep auburn brown, but just before it starts to char. I finish mine off by cranking up the broiler for a minute or two, so that the cheese, and in this case, the bacon crisps up just a bit much more. Finish with some finely minced chives. Oh, man, this is a good pizza. Enjoy!

Categories
Cooking Uncategorized

I Bought a Cookbook: Canal House Cooking Vol. 2





There’s a huge box of walnuts in my kitchen at the moment. Having gotten it into my head that it was high-time I use these walnuts, I began consulting my cookbook shelf for recipes and inspiration. I found a good number that I liked, but nothing that sent me to the moon, so i took a stroll down to the flagship Powell’s and did a browse, hoping to find the ultimate walnut blow-out recipe. Instead, I found the Canal House Cooking series. I said to myself: well look at that filthy dutch oven on the cover there, it looks just like mine doesn’t it? With all manner of crusted braises from, perhaps, years gone by. The image immediately struck a nerve, so I leaned up against the bookshelf there and started to peruse. What I discovered touched me in that special place that is responsible for me always being ravenously hungry: page after page of simple accessible recipes with gorgeous photography (helps, don’t it!?)



The authors are Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, both former editors for Saveur magazine, among other publications, and a food styling and cookbook production team. The Canal House Cooking series compiles recipes that they cook for themselves; recipes that are seasonal traditions, and heirlooms passed down from family and friends. The books publications, and indeed the trajectory of the content within each volume, follow the sequence of seasonality. This edition was published last fall, and as such features recipes celebrating the autumn harvest, and the holiday season. They run the gamut from the easy Fennel Gratin, which I’ve featured in this post, to the borderline-ridiculous Crown Roast of Pork, which is two center-cut rib roasts, tied together rib-side-out in order to resemble an immense crown. (If I could count on enough people over for dinner this Xmas, I’d promise it to the blog.) I expect to get a lot of use out of these volumes, and I urge everyone to check them out. I understand Volume 5 is due out later this month. Keep an eye out for it.







Fennel Gratin



• 2 bulbs of fennel, trimmed and halved lengthwise, the outer-most layer removed
• 2 cups of milk
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 clove of garlic
• s&p
• 3 Tbl butter, soft
• Parmigiano-reggiano
• fresh grated nutmeg



Lay the halved fennel bulbs in a medium saucepan in a single layer with the milk, bay leaf, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer on medium low, and poach the fennel, turning occasionally, until tender, about 45 minutes.







Preheat the broiler. Butter a gratin dish, then add the fennel in a single layer, cut side up. Shred some Parmigiano over the top, along with a few gratings of nutmeg, and black pepper. Dot the bulbs randomly with small pats of the butter, and add to the broiler. Broil until the cheese browns, 1-2 minutes.







http://www.thecanalhouse.com/

Categories
Cooking Uncategorized

Quiche, God!





Truthfully, I never intended to do a quiche post. Based mainly on the outrageous boujieness inherent in a 2″ tall custard pie, I thought it might alienate some of my lower-brow readers, back when I might of had any. So, up until now, I’ve stuck to crass humor, and meat, mainly, but now I’m crossing over. I think I can faithfully say that there must be only like three of you out there, and I know that at least one of you is closet-boujie, so that is decent enough odds to slip in a post about a towering quiche before I trudge on and fight to regain any semblance of blog-fame that I may have had and lost. I’m still keeping it real, though! Behind the scenes. I made the shell in my draws on a Saturday, and assembled the custard and monitored the baking with a crushing hang-over on Sunday. I could prove it, but I won’t.



Admittedly, this quiche has been represented in blog-form before, but with an alarmingly low success rate. It is the quiche that you may have heard about: The Thomas Keller Quiche from his cookbook Bouchon, and the Food & Wine article Over-the-Top Mushroom Quiche. They are one in the same. The problem that it seems a good deal of other bloggers have had at successfully making this quiche stems, I believe, from the lack of concrete detailed instruction that you find in the cookbook, but is largely glossed over in the article. That is, most folks try and make it from the articles recipe. The thing that pains me most about this situation is that this quiche is The Greatest Quiche of All-Time. And I mean it. Anybody want a peanut?

The true catalyst for the presentation of this post, however, is due in large part to my having finally found a 9″ bottomless ring-mold. Whereas I used to suffer through the indignities of using a spring-form pan, indeed a lesser instrument in the quiche production process, the ring-mold freed me from those bonds, allowing for a far greater degree of dough management, technique, and over-all handling. It has proved truly essential, even after only one quiche. In the following I will discuss in detail how to make the dough and the custard, a sightly modified version from the one in Bouchon, and try to explain the mistakes I have made in the past with this quiche, and how they can be avoided. It is a lot more work than pouring a bit of whipped egg into a frozen pie-shell, but come on, name one occasion when that bit of slice has incited you to stop and recount the important things in life. Like boujie quiche.







Quiche is a staple of the “French Bistro” menu, and as such follows the axiom of creating something lush and decadent from simple, unassuming ingredients. The shell is made from butter, flour, salt, and water. These four cooking staples come together to form a secure vessel, a strong wall, containing an absurd amount of eggs and cream. Getting this part right is essential to the success of the quiche. If there is a hole or a crack anywhere, you can count on a disaster. So, this is the stage in which it is important to take your time, and to not rush through. It requires a Kitchen Aid stand-mixer or similar. The measurements are as follows:



• 2 cups flour, seperated
• 1 tsp. kosher salt
• 8 oz (2 sticks) cold butter, in 1/4″ pieces
• 1/4 cup of ice water



Begin by adding one cup of the flour, and the teaspoon of salt to the mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, and on low speed, add the butter a few pieces at a time, slowly. Once it is all in there, up the speed to medium, and mix until the butter is incorporated into the flour. Then, lower the speed, and add the remaining flour, mixing just until combined. Finally, add the water, and mix until the dough shows no sign of butter pieces, and comes around the paddle. The dough should me smooth to the touch; not sticky or otherwise unsightly.







The above photo shows the difference between dough that has been adequately mixed vs. dough that could use a few more turns in the mixer. (Click on the picture for a closer view.) The picture of the dough on the left has marbleized areas where the butter hasn’t been fully integrated into the flour. There absolutely must be a complete unadulterated marriage of the two! This, in my opinion, is one of the greatest causes of quiche failure. Whilst the shell is baking, these area’s create nearly undetectable chinks in the bulwark. Avoid these at all costs! A bit of over-mixing is far less hazardous than under-mixing.



Once you are positive that your dough is sufficiently mixed, the next step is to form it into a 7 or 8″ disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least an hour, but I recommend over night. Firstly, you want the dough to be as cold as possible (without being frozen) while working with it from here on out, and the dough must rest. I’m not a scientist, so I don’t know why it needs to on a molecular level, but the word is that resting it prevents the dough from shrinking when you bake it. Secondly, it’s just less stressful to stretch recipes like this one out over a couple of days. That way your not waiting around for an hour to pick it up again; you can just get on with your day. This stage should only take about 20 minutes.



Once the round of dough has been adequately refrigerated, it is time to roll it out and fit it in to the ring mold. As I mentioned above, I found a bottomless mold (which is actually 3″ deep as opposed to the recommended 2″), and I used that for the quiche in this post. But in the past I did rely on a 9″ spring-form pan. However, instead of using only the ring part, as the F&W article suggests, I would keep the whole unit intact. I made one quiche without the bottom, and it was a real pain in the butt, because of the way the spring-form slides back and forth. You know what I mean if you have one. So I would leave it together. The quiche is pretty solid once it is finished, and you can carefully lift it out if you take like a foot and a half of parchment paper, folded into a 2-3″ strip, and lay it into the pan beneath the dough. You can also do this with any other kind of cake pan, but spring-form’s tend to have the desired depth. That just makes it easier, you can still easily get it out without that addition. Also, in the unfortunate circumstance of a leak, having a closed bottom will actually save you from losing all of the custard, producing, at worst a section of over-cooked egg crust in the leaky area. One other item that makes this stage of the shell a bit more arduous is the call to rub the ring down with canola oil. Skip that. It serves virtually no purpose other than to make things more slippery, and thus more difficult. The dough is half butter. It’s not sticking to anything.







• Preheat the Oven to 375º, with the oven rack in the middle position



OK. With the dough round on a floured work surface, and with a floured rolling pin, begin rolling the dough out, turning it at a 90º angle after a every few passes with the pin. Continue rolling until you’ve reached a diameter of about 15″, keeping the dough as circular as possible. Once you’ve got it, take your rolling pin, and roll the dough onto it, like if you were rolling up a poster or something. Then, eyeball where you think the center of the dough will end up, and unroll it over the top of your ring-mold. If you have a bottomless one, the ring mold should be placed of a piece of parchment paper. Gently, but expediently work the dough into the mold, being careful not to tear it. Work it into all of the corners, and up the side walls. There will be some over-lapping with the dough, which is fine; just work till it is as uniform as possible. There should be a decent amount of dough hanging over the edges of your mold. If you do get a crack or a tear, break off a piece and work it into the crack trying your best to fully smooth it over and work it in. Remove any dough in excess of an inch that is hanging over the edge of the ring-mold, and reserve in the fridge in case of any holes forming as it bakes.







Once you are satisfied, return the shell to the refrigerator for 20 minutes in order to re-solidify the dough. Afterwards, take a sheet of parchment paper large enough to cover the entire surface of the inside of the shell, and form it to fit in over the dough. Fill the shell with beans. Any kind will do, even rice, but you want a lot of them. You want to fill the shell all the way to the brim with beans. This will greatly reduce the chance of the shell shrinking, as the beans serve to hold it securely in place during the baking process, so the more the merrier. I know have a 3lb jar of garbanzo beans set aside specifically for making quiche shells. Who doesn’t need that in their kitchen?



Once you’ve filled your shell with this massive amount of beans, into the oven it goes, for 35 to 45 minutes. Then the beans are removed, and it is baked for any addition 15-20 minutes in order to brown up the bottom a bit. After the removal of the beans and you send the shell back into the furnace, give a careful inspection to make sure that, heaven forbid, no holes have formed, and if so patch them with the reserved dough.







While the shell is baking is a good time to pull together all of the ingredients that you plane on including in your quiche. This go round, I chose Swiss Chard, Caramelized Onions and Emmentaler, a fancy cheese. No matter what vegetables you chose to use, they should be cooked until tender, and made to be as dry as possible, without, obviously, being dried out. For chard, or any other leafy green, chop it up and sauté with olive oil, diced shallot, and salt and pepper. Allow it to cool, then place into a kitchen towel, and twist the greens into a head, thereby extracting the liquid. Once this is down, chop it up a bit more. I used about a lb, and I could have easily used twice that, but it was all I had in my CSA box at the time, and I couldn’t be buggered to make a trip to the market for another bunch of chard.







Of the sheer versatility of the mighty onion, I must say that caramelization is the tops! So rich and delicious, caramelized onions work as an addition to almost anything. Slice an onion into medium thin half-moons. Heat a skillet on medium high heat, add a bit of canola, a dash of olive oil, and a pinch of sugar. Add then onion and toss it around for am minute to get it all heated up a bit, and to break up the slices. then turn the heat down to low, and just let the heat and the onion do its thang. Stir the onions up a every now and then.







For this stage you will need a blender. The ingredients you will need for the custard are as follows:



• 2 cups of milk
• 2 cups of heavy cream
• 8 eggs (my version differs from the Keller version, which calls for 6) at Room Temp.
• 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
• 1/4 ts fresh ground White pepper
• 6 gratings of fresh nutmeg



•reduce the oven temperature to 325º



Right, so I use 2 more eggs, and I have ever since my second attempt with this quiche, because my first attempt curdled a bit in places (which I now think was due to the mushrooms I made the first time being too oily, but. . .) and it was otherwise just a bit to precarious a texture for me. After I upped the egg level, everything that I would consider wrong with my first go round was eliminated, so I’ve never gone back, and I stand by this revision. Anyway, it’s up to you how you will proceed in regards to the egg count.







To begin the custard, combine the milk and heavy cream in a saucepan on medium heat, whisking the liquid a great deal as it heats up. (You do this in order to help the custard set as fast as possible once it goes into the oven; the same reason why we want the eggs at room temperature.) Meanwhile, separate the other ingredients into individual bowls: 4 eggs, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp ground white pepper, and three gratings of nutmeg. Grate a cup of cheese, preferably through a microplane, you don’t want the shreds to thick otherwise they might not melt. Transfer tthe milk/cream mixture to a large pyrex measuring cup or similar. Finally, prep whatever else you want to go into the quiche, and have it ready to use. You want everything ready to go, so that you can go through the assembly process efficiently.

For assembly, begin by adding a layer of chard, onions and cheese (or whatever) to the bottom of the shell. Move to the blender, and add 1 bowl of the eggs/salt/pepper/nutmeg and begin to blend on low. Add two cups of the milk to blender, and then up the speed to it’s highest level, and allow it to blend for a minute or two, allowing it to really aerate. Then pour the mixture over the ingredients in the quiche shell. Prepare the other half of the custard ingredients in the same manner. Meanwhile, add the remainder of your filling to the quiche shell, while the custard blends. When you add the second stage of custard to the shell, it will come right up to the brim, so it is recommended to move the quiche to the oven rack before pouring it into the shell. It all should just fit into the shell. Once you’ve added it, gently slide the oven rack into the oven, and bake for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Once it is finished, allow it to cool to room temperature, and then cut off the over-hanging crust from around the edges. Then refrigerate until it is thoroughly chilled. The book says a day, but I reckon a number of hours would do. If you use a bottomless ring you can simple lift it off after you have removed the extraneous crust. If you made it in the spring-form or a cake pan, I highly recommend waiting to remove it room the pan until after it has chilled as it will be much sturdier.







To serve: pre-heat your oven or toaster oven to 375º. Cut a slice off and heat for 15 minutes. Or, just eat it cold. I think quiche is great cold!

Thus ends a very long quiche post. If you’ve made it this far, I commend you, but I just had to get this off my chest. If you decide to give it a shot let me know! It will probably be easier to follow the cookbook or the Food & Wine version of the recipe, but hopefully, my descriptions and recommendations will be helpful. This is just such a fantastic food, and it gets easier, and easier each time you try it.



Quiche Redux for Anger Burger: Chanterelles and Farmhouse Cheddar, made with 6 eggs:







Spinach, Scallions, and Goat Cheese: 6 eggs







Categories
Cooking Uncategorized

Donnie Brasco Pork Shoulder





I made this a while back when I was mulling over trying to jump-start the blog. It’s the “Donnie Brasco” Pork Shoulder preperation from the River Cottage Meat Book. Some or none of you may recall that I had lost my senses and inexplicably determined that what would be best for me would be to cook a whole cookbook, like the lot of it, recipe by recipe. That ended in a lot of OOOO like Juila chiding rubbish, but that did no bother me a tall. It was just a lot of work, and I didn’t have the dedication, that’s all. I admit it. But still, I cook a recipe from the Meat Book on occasion, like this one here. This is a whole Pork Shoulder, a beauty from Tails & Trotters, that is meant to be slow cooked in the oven for upwards of 24 hours (which is, to spoil the plot for you, way to effing long.)











I decided to make this one because I developed a particular affixation for pork shoulder after the joy of what was and is the Momofuku Ramen Bowl. That is, I like pork shoulder a lot. Enough to make a 10lb roast of it, at that. This was a breeze so I’ll lay it out for you: You rub it down with this 5 spice and other stuff mixture, then put it in a low, low oven for a long long time. After that, you pull it out and eat it.

I started it before I went to bed.







Flipped it right side up before I left for work. (The first 8 hours is supposed to be skin side down.)







And dug into it when I got home. (In truth, I should have just pulled it and broke off a handful then and there before I left for work. It would have been done at that point. The extra 8 hours just proved to dry out a good thick portion of the outer layer, which should have merely been a nice uniform shell, solid and toothsome, yet edible. As prepared, the outer layer had to be discarded because it had become leather and/or burnt––a disappointment. However, the tough, sinewy interior meat had been transformed into such a luxuriously decadent example of the virtues of slow cooking, that at the time I was happy to over-look the disastrous atrocities inflicted on the outer-regions. But thinking back on it now , if I were more rancorous individual (hardly believable–I will bitter you to death!) I would pen a letter of grievance to the good Hugh demanding reparations, for I hate to see good pig go to waste. Maybe he has a google alert, though, yeah? Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall)