Saturday, September 13, 2014
Well, when you collect your bones, mine were an assortment of beef oddments, pig shoulder, lamb neck, chicken backs and wings, and a left over turkey carcass, toss them into the pot and cover with water. I also took the opportunity to clean the fridge of limp carrots, half a leek, some red onion, a sad bulb of fennel, celery tops, parsley stalks, mature dill and so forth.
And then I went even further and emptied the upper spice cabinet where I found star anise, coriander, long pepper, cloves, juniper, cardamom. You can tell where I'm going with this: PHO! After just a couple of hours the kitchen smells like heaven. So this is what angels eat. I'll give it maybe 10 hours at a gentle simmer, strain it tonight and have it for breakfast tomorrow with noodles and fresh vegetables.
UPDATE: Plan so far working. A pint or so of stock, leftover meat, some vegetables and noodles, for breakfast. Should last a week or more, as I slowly defrost the containers of stock through the week. Let me tell you, spicy and sour in the morning is a real pick me up at 5 AM!
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Organizing the groups was difficult, as was dealing with students as far ranged as Paris and Utah. And as I feared, over 9 groups was not possible so one team never got on until one team went off. Worst of all, the google hangout is designed to pick up sound and broadcasts whoever happens to be talking. Now, when everyone starts to chop and pots begin to clang, there is not only cacaphony, but it switches speaker every second or two. It was like John Cage composing for kitchen on computer. I had to make a sign, backwards of course, to say PLEASE MUTE.
Despite these odd disconnects, I think this worked quite well. And nearly everyone said what they cooked tasted good. These were recipes 3,500 years old. The oldest on earth. Cuneiform. We tried as hard as possible to follow the vague directions, and we thank Laura Kelley for glossing many terms that are not translated in Bottero, which has grave shortcomings for cooks. But on the whole, there was nothing odd at all. In fact I think we all learned something about flavor and technique. Most recipes were described as broth. I think a bad translation from Akkadian to French to English. But there are no measurements, so who knows? Mine looks more like a stew.
It's a lamb stew with crushed leek, onion, garlic. And fat, plus flour. Just boiled nothing browned first. Yoghurt (maybe, or sour milk) added at the end. It thickened beautifully. And actually it tasted better after cooking 40 minutes, not after simmering a couple of hours, when I had dinner later. I always thought you couldn't cook yoghurt long, but it was fine.
Most importantly, I think every team liked what they cooked. None were right or wrong per se, but very different interpretations of the recipes. Some were thin soups, some thick black sauces on meat. Which is right, who knows? Maybe none, maybe all. But we all now have an idea of what people liked millennia ago.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
We all know David Chang put ramen on the map again. I frankly missed it. And I never tasted ramen in college. Really. So I never really knew what was going on. But I do now. At any good Asian grocery you can find hundreds of different ramen noodle varieties. This was Indonesian Mi Goreng. I swear. About a dollar. But as long as you have time why not garnish? All in the garnish, right?
So this was shallots, mushrooms, red bell pepper, green jalapenos, red carrots and shrimp all sauteed in coconut oil. Then the noodles boiled in a broth based on shrimp shells and peelings. All mixed together, hit with cilantro and crushed peanuts. Oh and I used all 5 flavoring packets this came with. Really. That's why it's still crap. But it DOES taste great.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
This is the exception that proves the rule, because I do believe it actually tastes better in the microwave. A conventional oven seems to make it tough and dry if cooked too long. Grilling likewise, though nothing to scoff at. But I offer you Eggplant in the Microwave.
Peel one medium eggplant and slice it into very thin rounds. Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a clay casserole, sprinkle a little salt and oregano and arrange the slices overlapping a bit. Drizzle more oil, salt and oregano on top. Microwave for 20 minutes. If you like it mushy, cover the casserole. Plastic wrap is ok. This was cooked uncovered, which leaves them a little firmer and slightly chewy. If you are feeling extravagant, add some tomato sauce and mozzarella too and reheat. Or sprinkle some buttered breadcrumbs on top. Or for another flavor profile entirely some za'atar and pomegranate syrup. It even, I promise you, works with soy and sesame oil. Eggplant is sort of like the blank canvas of the vegetable world, adapting so easily to any set of flavors. And if you just happen to be in a hurry, this is a quickie, but really good.
Monday, August 4, 2014
Sensory stimuli are recorded in our memory the same way and with the same capricious results. I have vivid olfactory hallucinations, I guess you'd call them, that occur randomly. But for the life of me, I can't remember what these are supposed to taste like. They're roskas. A kind of sweet eggy roll, sort of like challah. My grandmother Julia made these, and I haven't had them since 1977, probably earlier. I know the word, and you can even find recipes, mostly Hispanic, which makes sense. She was Sephardic.
This recipe is in her hand. My sister and I baked them as best we could a few weeks ago in London. I have no qualms about lack of measurements or precise directions. I prefer it in fact. I know how to make bread, so it was no big deal. But when they came out, I have to say, I not only have no recollection of what they were supposed to taste like, but they were fairly unspectacular. I thought the story would be about recovering a long lost recipe, that tasted exactly as it did when I was 13. We may very well have pulled it off to perfection, but the truth is, I can't remember. If there were only a way to record taste the way you can words.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
But how can I possibly resist messing with them now? So these are pickled. NOT in vinegar, nor a quick refrigerator marinade. They are in brine. I know this exists out there in the world, though I was very hard pressed to find out anything about it. So I am winging it, as usual. Just lovely sweet little grapes in brine. We wait and see what happens. I am VERY excited.