Wild Rice Stuffing

Sun, Nov 7 • 0

Tried this in a chicken last week. I’m usually against putting stuffing inside a chicken or a turkey, since it means longer cooking time, and increases the chances of bacteria, but I figured if I didn’t make the stuffing too tightly packed, and if I put it in the bird hot, just before roasting it, I could get away with it. The cooking time did end up being longer than I expected, but that may have been due to the chicken being larger than I usually go with (4½ pounds as opposed to 3). In the end, I think I liked it more than my wife did.

The following quantities are for a 3-5 pound chicken, but you could increase it for a larger bird, like a turkey. The recipe still needs fine tuning, and you could easily swap out or omit some of the items. For example, replacing the onion with shallots or leeks. You could replace or augment the chestnuts with the chicken or turkey’s giblets. (Note: I was enticed into making up this recipe by an article and recipes in the Washington Post food section. In it, they talk about the best place to buy prepared, steamed chestnuts, and that’s apparently Trader Joes. They sell them in skinny maroon-colored boxes, nearish the flour and other baking supplies in my local store.)

1 cup prepared basmati and wild rice mix (fully cooked)
¼ yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
¼ cup chopped celery (ideally, the light yellow stalks and leave tops from the heart)
¼ cup chopped steamed chestnuts
liquid: vegetable or chicken broth, white wine, vermoth, or water
herbs: sage leaves, fresh thyme, to taste, finely chopped
salt and pepper

Prepare the rice ahead of time, and allow to cool. Avoid adding salt at this stage.

In a frying pan, soften onion and celery in butter or olive oil. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant (30 seconds). Add rice and chestnuts, and enough liquid to moisten, and allow it to  all get quite hot. Remove from heat, and taste for salt and pepper. You want it to be saltier than normal, since it’s going to flavor the whole bird from the inside. Add the herbs at this point, too.

Spoon the hot stuffing into the cavity, being careful not to pack it too tightly. Tie the opening closed with kitchen string. Roast in a hot oven (425°) until the juices run clear when you pierce the flesh near the thigh. Allow the chicken to rest, then cut the string and spoon out the stuffing before carving.


The Deadly Bhut Jolokia

Wed, Jan 21 • 0

This video, which made the rounds on the internet a week or so ago, depicts the effects of eating a really hot pepper. the bhut jolokia, which has a Scoville rating of 1,000,000. (In comparison, the habenero has a rating of 33,000.)

Anway, you’ll see that this guy ends up all sooty at the end, 3 hours after ingesting … or maybe that should be “in jesting.”

(More videos after the jump.)
Keep reading…


Potato, Leek and Asparagus Tart

Mon, Oct 13 • 0

Completely decadent, serve this with a salad, as a side, or as a first course. It’ll definitely wow them at the pot-luck dinner.

You could really go over the top with this recipe, adding cream to the potatoes, and using a ton of butter, but I tried to keep it a little less than sinful — but go ahead and use the cream, especially if you’re going vegetarian. You can use any single cheese you want. I think the smokiness of the chedder added a lot to it, though. Smoked gouda might work well, too. If you’ve never worked with phillo dough, be sure to read the hints on the box, about working quickly, and keeping the unused layers with a moistened towel — if the dough gets dried out (which doesn’t take much), you might as well be working with newspaper. You can omit the eggs — which I did, by mistake — to save even more calories, but they help firm up the potatoes, and make it much easier to cut. Either way, it’s delicious.

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
4 fist-sized yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 leek, cleaned and chopped
3 ounces smoked chedder cheese
3 ounces fontina
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup chicken broth
3 eggs
1 package phillo pastry
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°. Bring two pots of water to boil, one for the potatoes (boil for about 10 minutes or until soft), one for the asparagus (parboil for 4 minutes). Saute the chopped leek in one tablespoon of the butter until softened, and melt the rest (either in a small pan, or in the microwave). Mash the potatoes, adding in the chicken stock, and the shredded cheeses, as if you’re making mashed potatoes.  Add the leeks, and the eggs, and mix until smooth.

Start lining a baking pan, or, ideally, a rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom, with the layers of phillo, spreading a little of the melted butter between layers, overlapping the edge of the pan. Keep layering until you have 6-10 layers. Spread the mashed potatoes into the middle, and smooth. Press a single layer of asparagus into the potatoes, and moisten with any of the butter left over. Fold over the hanging bits of the phillo to form a flakey crust.

Put the pan in the bottom of the oven, and cook for 20-30 minutes, then let it cool for at least 10 minutes.


Waldorf Pudding on the Titanic

Mon, Apr 28 • 4

Research turns up two ancient recipes for this Titanic dessert — but which one is the one they served?

You may remember my entry from a few weeks ago where I described all of the food served in the elaborate ten course meal in the first class dining room of the RMS Titanic on the night it sank, April 14, 1912. In it, I was unable to provide the recipe for the dessert named Waldorf Pudding, but I speculated that it didn’t necessarily have to have apples, raisins, or walnuts just because those were signature ingredients in another recipe named after the New York hotel, the Waldorf Salad.

Well, a bit of research turned up a couple of cookbooks dating back to the turn of the 20th century. One is the Calvary Presbyterian Church Ladies Aid Society (of Springfield, Mo.) Cookbook, dated 1903 … A “Mrs. Milligan” submitted a recipe for Waldorf Pudding that clearly contains apples. It is as follows :

A WALDORF PUDDING.
Fill a buttered pudding dish with peeled and sliced apples, alternating layers of stale cake or bread crumbs and allowing two tablespoonfuls of melted butter to each pint of apples. Crumbs should be on top. Set in a moderate oven to bake until the apples are tender. Pour over a cup of milk and two eggs beaten with half a cup of sugar and bake to a pretty brown. Serve with cream. — Mrs. Milligan.

On the other hand, in another cookbook, called Everyday Desserts, by Olive Green, dated 1911, there’s another recipe that has no apples at all:

WALDORF PUDDING
Break up half a pound of stale lady-fingers and cook to a smooth paste with a quart of cream. Add half a cupful of sugar, three tablespoonfuls of butter, a wineglassful of sherry, and a sprinkling of grated nutmeg. Cool, add the well-beaten yolks of four eggs and three tablespoonfuls of almonds blanched and pounded to a paste with lemon-juice. Turn into a baking-dish, sprinkle with sugar, and bake in a quick oven.


The Last Meal on the Titanic

Wed, Apr 9 • 25

It was on April 14th, 1912 — almost 100 years ago — when the last meal was served in the first-class dining room on the RMS Titanic.

As we all know, later that night, the ship collided with an iceberg and sank, with the loss of over 1500 lives. Here’s a detailed look at what was on the menu for the first-class passengers.

First Course
Hors D’Oeuvres
Oysters

Second Course
Consommé Olga
Cream of Barley

Consummé Olga is made with a quart of warmed consummé (clear broth, usually beef) and a pint of good port wine. Then julienne a stalk of celery, the white of a leek, the outside only of a small carrot, and soften in butter over low heat. Add a little more consummé and reduce to a glaze, and then finish cooking the vegetables in it. In a tureen, put the glazed vegetables along with julienned gherkins, and the consummé and wine mixture. (Escoffier, 593)

Third Course
Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce, Cucumbers

Mousseline Sauce is a hollandaise sauce that’s fortified with whipped cream. (Escoffier, 92)

Fourth Course
Filet Mignons Lili
Sauté of Chicken, Lyonnaise
Vegetable Marrow Farci

Tournedos Lili are seasoned steak fillets fried in butter, then arranged to form a crown, each on a crust of Potatoes Anna (basically, layered potato slices, generously buttered and baked in a hot oven for 30 minutes; Escoffier 2203), and then topped with an artichoke bottom, garnished with a slice of foie gras, and then topped with a slice of truffle, and served with a Périgueux sauce (Madiera wine, reduced veal stock, and chopped truffle; Escoffier, 47). In other words, this dish is gilding a lilly. (Escoffier, 1101)

Sauce Lyonnaise is a relatively simple sauce in comparison, flavored with sauteed diced onion, and equal parts white wine and vinegar, reduced to a glaze, and added to reduced veal stock (demi-glace). (Escoffier, 43)

Vegetable Marrow Farci is apparently stuffed squash. “Marrow squash, also known as vegetable marrow, is a very large, green summer squash. They are related to zucchini, and can grow to the size of a watermelon. They have a bland flavor, and are frequently stuffed with a meat stuffing.” The “farci” indicates that squash was stuffed. (source)

Fifth Course
Lamb, Mint Sauce
Roast Duckling, Apple Sauce
Sirloin of Beef, Chateau Potatoes
Green Peas
Creamed Carrots
Boiled Rice
Parmentier & Boiled New Potatoes

Chateau Potatoes are potatoes cut to the shape of olives, then cooked gently in clarified butter until golden and very soft, and sprinkled with parsley just before serving. (Escoffier, 2208)

Parmentier Potatoes is a pureed potato soup garnished with crouton and chervil, but it can also be served more like runny mashed potatoes. (Escoffier, 658)

Sixth Course
Punch Romaine

Punch à la Romaine is a mixture of dry white wine or champagne and a simple sugar syrup, plus the juices of two oranges and two lemons, with a bit of their zest, steeped for one hour. Strained and frozen, then mixed with a sweet meringue and then fortified with rum. It’s served like a sherbet, and acts as a palette cleanser. (Escoffier, 2932)

Seventh Course
Roast Squab & Cress

Squab is actually pigeon. Escoffier says, “Young pigeons are not very highly esteemed by gourmets, and this is more particularly to be regretted, since when the birds are of excellent quality, they are worthy of the best tables.”

Eighth Course
Cold Asparagus Vinaigrette

Ninth Course
Pate de Foie Gras
Celery

Tenth Course
Waldorf Pudding
Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly
Chocolate & Vanilla Eclairs
French Ice Cream

Escoffier has nothing to say about Waldorf Pudding, but research on the net turns up several improvised recipes (1, 2, 3), none of which are authentic. They involve essential ingredients based on the famous Waldorf Salad, which has apples, walnuts and raisins, but I can’t help but suspect that these guesses may be off course. While it’s true that the one of the more common recipes that the Waldorf Astoria is known for is the salad, there’s no reason to conclude that these are the only ingredients that could possibly be in a dessert named after it. Update, 4/28/08 : I found some old cookbooks online that list recipes for Waldorf Pudding. One has apples, the other one doesn’t. Read all about it.

Each of the 10 courses was served with a special accompanying wine. Following the tenth course, fresh fruits and cheeses were available followed by coffee and cigars accompanied by port and, if desired, distilled spirits.

You may also be interested in reading about what some of the other passengers on the Titanic were eating that night. Also, more information on the elusive recipe for Waldorf Pudding.

(A note about the Escoffier notation : The description of recipes listed here are taken from The Escoffier Cookbook : A Guide to the Fine Art of French Cuisine, by Auguste Escoffier. It is the defacto standard for french haute cuisine, and lists the 2,984 recipes contained in its pages numerically, and that is the number I give after each recipe.)


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