Thursday, September 10, 2020

Salt Cod Fritters with Romesco and Escarole


Makes one dozen fritters

1 lb box of bacalão (salt cod)

2 tbs olive oil

¼ c heavy cream

½ c dry fino sherry

1 c okonomiyaki flour or regular pancake mix, plus more if necessary for a very thick batter

1 tbs lard or butter


2 large red peppers                                                    

½ cup toasted almonds, crushed                      

2 cloves garlic

¼ c olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 head of escarole

2 tbs olive oil

Salt to taste

Dabs of mayonnaise

1 thinly sliced small hot red chili pepper

 Soak the bacalão in water for 24 hours in the fridge, changing the water often. Sauté it gently in olive oil until it begins to fall apart, then transfer to a bowl. Add the cream and the sherry and mix until the fish has broken up completely. Then add the okonomiyaki flour. With your hands roll the batter into a dozen small balls and fry in a pan with hemispherical depressions such as an abelskiver or Takoyaki pan, or simply fry in a regular nonstick pan. Fry until golden brown and then transfer to a rack to cool.

Place the red peppers directly on the gas burner or grill and turn frequently until completely charred. Place in a large paper bag until cool. Scrape off the char with a knife, do not rinse, remove the seeds and core, and chop the pepper finely. Place in a pan with the garlic and olive oil and cook gently until soft. Add salt. Then transfer to a mortar and pound until it becomes a chunky sauce.

Chop the escarole and sauté in the oil until tender. Add salt to taste while cooking.

To serve arrange the fritters on a plate with the sauce and the escarole on the side. Garnish with the mayonnaise and slivers of chili pepper.


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Jello Drinks to Beat Summer Heat


When the heat lingers for weeks on end, these Southeast Asian inspired jello drinks are seriously refreshing. The dark one is grass jelly cubes in white vermouth and sweetened condensed milk. The green is a pandan mung bean noodle in ice cold sake, also with sweetened condensed milk. I'm not sure why jello is so cooling in this form, but it sure is.  

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Gelatin Ice Vodka and Tonic

 This was a fun little trick. Very pure gelatin, sugar and a little phosphate for the acid. Made into gelatin cubes, plopped into a vodka and tonic. And instead of the hard ice hitting your teeth, it's a squishy chewy gel cube. Delicious and refreshing too. 

Monday, May 4, 2020

Tomatillo Tequila Jello in Tamago Spring Roll

Have you ever considered how many cultures roll things up in starch or a bread-based wrapper? Burritos and spring rolls presumably have no real connection, but the flavors inside and the way they’re eaten are so similar. A good example of convergent evolution, two distinct species move toward the same solution, though unrelated. Like humming birds and bees sipping nectar from flowers. I decided to throw in another rolled favorite of mine. Though I seriously thought about shredded turkey or cabbage leaves, egg just seemed perfect and in terms of flavor, I think I was right.

6 tomatillos, husk removed
2 whole serrano chilies
2 tbs olive oil
½ c tequila
1 tbs unflavored gelatin

1 egg
½ tsp dashi stock
2 spring roll wrappers
A little chopped cilantro
Slivers of carrot
Lime or tomato for garnish

In a pan or on a comal toast the tomatillos and chilies with a little oil until charred and soft. Remove stems from chilies and put in a blender with tomatillos and ½ c water and a teaspoon of salt. Blend until smooth. Then fry the mixture in the pan with residual oil. Set aside in a bowl.
Mix the tequila with the gelatin in a small pot, add ½ cup of the tomatillo sauce and gently heat until it barely comes to a boil. Pour into a greased square casserole pan and put in the refrigerator to set.
Mix the egg and dashi stock and cook in a large frying pan with a tiny bit of oil. Swirl it around so you have one very thin layer of cooked egg. Let cool on a large plate.
Unmold the jello on top of the egg. Roll both into a cigar shape and cut in two, trimming the ends if necessary. Moisten two spring roll wrappers with hot water and place on a board or plate. Sprinkle on cilantro and carrot. Place the cylinders of jello inside, fold in the sides and wrap up tightly. Chill again until firm.
Then cut each on the bias and arrange on a plate with garnish of lime or tomato or whatever you like. It doesn’t need a dipping sauce because the mole verde is already inside. It’s spicy, crunchy, chewy, and refreshing, all at the same time.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Bullshot Jello, Marrowbone Shortbread with Pickled Lemon

The bullshot is a classic mid-century cocktail but gained a certain popularity in the 1980s. For some reason I picture Tom Cruise ordering it in a bar. As a cocktail it’s pleasantly savory but strange enough that you won’t want to sip too much. As a jello it replicates the smooth creaminess of roasted marrow without being quite as unctuous. Scooped onto the shortbread with a dab of the lemon, it’s a marvel.

3 four-Inch sawed marrow bone tubes
1 tsp powdered gelatin
¾ c vodka
¾ c home-made beef stock (see recipe)
1 cup flour or more
1 tsp crushed fennel seed
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp sugar
1 pickled meyer lemon*

Briefly blanch the bones in boiling water. Remove from water and push out the interior marrow fat with a small knife into a small pot. Simmer the fat on very low heat until melted. Boil the hollow bones about 15 minutes to clean and scrape off any connective tissue on the exterior. Strain the melted fat though a small sieve and reserve.
Carve down three champagne corks to plug the bottom hole of the bones and so each will stand upright. Be sure they are very tight or they will leak. If you have doubts, dribble a little hot candle wax into the bottom of each. Then dissolve the gelatin in the vodka for 10 minutes and bring the stock to the boil. I have deliberately used very little gelatin to keep the final jello soft. Mix the two liquids. Arrange the bones upright in a container so they don’t spill and pour in the hot gelatin, move to the refrigerator until set.
Mix the flour, marrow fat, fennel and salt into a short crust pastry with just enough cold water to bring everything together. Roll out ½ inch thick onto a square of parchment paper and cut into long rectangles. Back about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Arrange everything on a wooden board and naturally increase the recipe if you are serving guests.
*Pickled lemons are very easy to make but take a long time. Cut the unwaxed lemons into rounds, and arrange in a jar sprinkling salt on each layer. Cover with lemon juice and make sure everything is submerged. Cover and wait one year. The lemons will be soft and exquisitely perfumed as a condiment. You can add any spices you like. Eat them peel and all.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Purple Haze Jello

The world is a different place since I last posted. I have been making jello nonetheless. This is a mung bean noodle laced with purple butterfly pea flower. A ratio of 1 tsp to a cup of starch. Boiling water was added to make a dough, then that was extruded into a pot of boiling water to make noodles. Those were set in a combination or rum, lime juice and gelatin, turned out and then garnished with mango slices and smoked paprika. We need something sunny now, right? 

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Rabbit Braised in Homemade Mead

The pictures describe this experiment well. I took a pound jar of local unpasteurized honey, added two times the amount of water and pitched in about 1/2 tsp of yeast (intended for beer). Waited two weeks and it became pleasantly effervescent. Filtered that. Nice and clear and only a hint of residual sweetness. Then browned some rabbit pieces in butter, added mushrooms and whole shallots, and braised it in the mead. A few pieces were eaten for dinner and the rest was taken off the bones and put in a container in the fridge wherein it solidified as an aspic. Bunny jello if you will. Luscious!