Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Surprise of Cheese

One of the nicest things about going away is, of course, coming back. And among the most intriguing are those things you forget about, refuse to throw away, however uninteresting, and toss in a corner. I DO have my own corner for experiments now.
Well, after a week of eating unfathomably good food in the Loire Valley this past week, I started cooking goose a dozen ways for D'Artagnan (to be posted anon) and I spotted a little cheese I forgot about a couple of months ago, that just didn't taste that great.
Lo and behold, it matured beautifully. Nutty, with a nice tart bite. Not unlike Parmigiano at all. Fabulous in slivers, grated I'm sure will be great. It's a local milk, raw. And disproves my theory that you can't make decent cheese in very small batches. This was just two gallons. About 3/4 of which you see in my hand. Probably cost me more than $20 a pound, but it is really fine, and utterly local. Natural bacteria, no starters, conditioners or other crap. Voila. C'est le terroir.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Smoking Bishop

Here is my contribution to the above mentioned blog-roll (like a swiss roll, without the cream filling - well, who knows, maybe).
My task was to make the "smoking bishop." Which Scrooge offers Cratchit, I think the day after Christmas, to discuss his future at the firm. So I thought, let's find a real recipe, from the 1840s and make it. No problem.
Problem is, the phrase does not seem to appear in print anywhere before 1843 when the story first appeared. And if you go on line or check the authorities on such things, every single recipe seems to copy some other prototype, that was written after 1843, because it substitutes oranges and a grapefruit for Seville oranges. Well, who actually knows what Dickens had in mind, if nothing was ever printed? (Please correct me if I'm wrong, dear friends - this is not my period!)
So, with my newly adopted casual aplomb, I thought, AH, free to make it up totally. First of all, baking oranges is a bad idea. They get acrid. Steeping them gently, so the oils permeate the liquid is the preferred, and indeed I think historically more accurate way to mull. Here I've used what I had, which are cassia buds, long pepper and slivers of nutmeg, plunged into the orange.
Most recipes say use cheap red wine and a lot of sugar. What?? And ruin good port by adding it to swill? I chose to just pour this whole bottle of port over the orange (a gorgeous "cara cara") heat and let steep for a few hours. Then muddle a bit to release some juice and more volatile oils. Reheat gently and sip.
And you know what? IT IS FABULOUS! I don't think I'll ever drink port again unless it's hot. A little spicy, aromatic, dare I even say unctuous? Perfect for a cold day. And exactly the right thing to make your mind expansive about the future. Well done DICKENS!
And let me say, the next day it is even better, especially following the exhaustion of 13.1 miles at a plodding pace. 2 hours and 24 minutes later. Enough to pick up any lagged spirits!