Strawberry Jam

Wed, Mar 3 • 1

This jam in midwinter tastes as fresh as the berries tasted the previous summer. The secret is to make small batches and to not overcook. The jam tends to be thinner (excellent for pancakes or ice-cream topping!) and less gummy than store-bought, but the fresh flavor cannot be beat. If you prefer thicker jam, you might experiment with adding some pectin.

1 lb. fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or other berries
2 cups sugar

Wash and clean berries, and place whole (do not crush!) into medium sized saucepan with 1 cup of sugar. Warm over low heat while stirring gently and occasionally until the sugar melts and forms a syrup. Turn heat up to medium high and bring to a boil until foam appears on the top. Skim the foam, add the second cup of sugar, and boil just until jam forms a sheet on the end of your spoon. (Do not overcook — if you do, the jam will slowly transform itself into something that tastes no different from store-bought!) Pour into sterilized jars (leave enough headroom for ice expansion), seal jars with sterilized jar lids, cool, and store in the freezer.


Christmas Cookies with Legs

Thu, Dec 11 • 0

42-17861611A week or two ago, I posted a link to Gourmet magazine’s website that listed 60+ years worth of cookie recipes, which is really, really great, unless your intent is to make stuff to send to far off relatives. Almost all the cookies on their list rely on you making and eating the cookies within a couple of days. I’m planning on sending stuff off to my relatives who live 500+ miles away, so I thought I’d do a little research and come up with recipes that I can make that’ll keep fresh for longer than a couple of days. Here’s some that I came up with.

Micheal Chiarello demonstrated an unusual fried cookie that’s later drenched in honey, called Turdilli. On the show I watched, he said that these cookies would keep a month, but the website says they’ll only keep a week.

Cranberry Biscotti
These will keep a month in a sealed container. Makes 48 cookies

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1¼ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 eggs (or 2/3 c. fat free egg substitute)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup fresh cranberries, chopped
1/3 cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350º f (175º c). Line a baking sheet with parchment. Sift the dry ingredients together (first 7 items) into a mixing bowl. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until moistened. Reduce the mixing speed, and add the cranberries and half of the almonds, and beat into a light dough, about 2 minutes. Lightly flour your work surface. Divide the dough in half, and roll each into a log. Transfer to your baking sheet, putting them at least 3 inches apart. Pat the logs until they’re 1½ inches wide. Stud each log with the remaining almond slices. Bake until slightly firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Let them cool on a baking rack for another 10.

While they’re cooling, reduce the oven temperature to 300° f (95° c). With a serrated knife, slice each log into ½ inch slices. Spread the slices back onto your baking sheet, and bake for another 30 minutes, until the cookies are dry. Cool 5 minutes, and remove to a rack to cool completely.


Smoked Eel

Sun, Aug 17 • 0

“Out in the wild, they are slippery slimy creatures… On the plate, though, it’s a different story.”

On my recent trip to visit family, we had lunch at a german restaurant called the Hofbrauhaus — as close to an authentic german beer garden as I’ve seen since my summer in Europe, 20 years ago. Over a lunch of grilled sausage, mashed potatoes, and sauerkraut, my father-in-law described a vivid memory from his youth, where his German grandfather would keep a piece of smoked eel wrapped in wax paper on the window sill. He told me that he hadn’t had it in years, but had scoured the authentic delicatessens in Cincinnati to no avail. He did say that he had managed to find some at a delicatessen here in Northern Virginia, upwards of 30 years ago, and he wondered if the place was still in business. I told him that I knew of one in the area that he was talking about, but wasn’t sure if it was the exact same place. I promised that I would stop in the next time I was in the neighborhood and see if they had any eel for sale.

Well, I sort of forgot about it. Then I called him to talk about something else, and he said “you found it!” After I got over my confusion, he said he was sure I was calling him to tell him I had found some smoked eel for him. I decided that my priority project for the next day was to make a trip out to the German deli and confirm if it was even available. Sure enough, they had some — though it was from a Canadian company, in a vacuum sealed package, and frozen. I bought the two larger of the four pieced they had, put it all in an insulated envelope, picked up a slab of dry ice, and headed off to Fedex.

Admitting that I was shipping something with dry ice was probably my first mistake. I couldn’t use their white overnight boxes, but had to purchase a box, and I paid a small fortune in shipping fees. It arrived the next day, and my father-in-law was thrilled.

I sent him an email to find out how it was, and if it was everything he remembered. He reported that he recalled being able to flake it off to eat on a cracker, and what I sent was much firmer than he remembered, but that the smell, and the flavor was perfect. And now, he’s looking for more. So I did a little google searching to see what’s out there. Most companies that sell it are in the UK.

Globe and Mail : “Serving up a slithery, dwindling delicacy,” a news story (6/17/07) about how the Canadian eel population is in decline, down 90% from 30 years ago.

Brown & Forrest, U.K. Purveyors of the smoked eel, salmon and other smoked foods.

Medallion Smoked Salmon, based in Prince Edward Isle, Canada, 1 888 448-3001

Ummera (Ireland) offers smoked silver eel and will lets you subscribe to a mailing list that will alert you when they have product to ship.

Blog : confessions of a food nazi : smoked eel recipes “I don’t know what the prejudice is about eels. Sure out in the wild they are slippery slimy creatures, things you wouldn’t want to feel brush your leg while swimming in a lake. On the plate, though, is a different story.”

I decided to do a search for the german name (Aal Filet geräuchert), and came up with a german company that appears to be willing to ship it. The site is in German, and the prices are given in euros.

 


Hummus

Tue, Jul 1 • 0

A middle-eastern favorite.

2 cans garbonzo beans, reserving the liquid from one
4 cloves of garlic
¼ c tahini paste
juice from ½ lemon
1 package Adobo seasoning
1 T salt
pepper to taste

In a food processor, get the blades going, and drop in the garlic until it’s finely chopped. Add the chick peas, lemon juice, tahini, adobo, salt and pepper, and blend, adding the reserved chick pea liquid until a smooth paste is formed, scraping down the sides.

Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil and smoked paprika, and serve with crudite and/or pita bread.

Option 1 : Roast some fresh hot peppers over a flame, and put into a plastic bag to steam for 10 minutes, or when cool enough to handle. Remove burnt skin, and slice open to remove seeds. Add the remaining flesh after you’ve chopped the garlic.


Onion Topping Better Than Green Beans

Fri, Jun 27 • 0

My wife exclaimed that while the green beans are “good,” the onions are “fab! Just like onion rings!”

I tossed together some green bean casserole last night for dinner. Just some frozen haricot verts, parboiled for 5 minutes, and some pre-made alfredo cheese sauce. I was thinking about topping the whole thing with Parmesan and panko bread crumbs, but then I remembered Alton Brown’s recipe for green bean casserole, where he eschewed all premade badness (the canned crispy onions and the cream of mushroom soup) in favor of homemade. He topped them with fresh made onion crisps. As leftovers, my wife exclaims that while the green beans are “good,” the onions are “fab! Just like onion rings!” So I guess I’ll be making them more often. The recipe isn’t that hard, though it’s a little heat intensive for a hot summer day.

1 or 2 onions, sliced thin
2 T AP flour
2 T panko bread crumbs
Salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 475°. Slice the onions as thin as possible. (I use a slicing gizmo.) Separate into rings, and put in a large bowl. Add flour and bread crumbs and salt. Toss so that all the rings are relatively well coated. Spread on a sheet pan sprayed with cooking spray, and cook in the middle of the hot oven for 30 minutes, tossing every 10.


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