From the Kitchen – Cake, bread and bad tv

This weekend was another cooking weekend. Here in the US, we have a three day weekend this weekend for President’s Day, a holiday that was to cover both Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays.

In addition to beef stew (our recipe can be found here), I made a lemon chiffon cake and also tried a new bread recipe.

Chiffon cakes should get more attention. They are essentially a cake with a lot of eggs, similar to angel food cakes, but they have oil and egg yolks in them. They are richer than angelfood, and moister. For a comparison that seems like damning with faint praise, they have the texture of a fresh Twinkie (a snack cake here in the States), with a moist spongy texture. The recipe I used was from The Cake and Pie Bible Rose by Rose Beranbaum. I am generally loath to publish recipes in books, but if a friend asks me for it, I can share.

You’ll see that it was made in an angelfood cake pan, one with the center post and bottom that is separate. I hadn’t even known that those existed until my husband told me his mother had one. I found one at a flea market. The batter is a little looser than angelfood batter so you can see the cake stalagmites that formed on the bottom from the batter seeping out a bit.  This type of cake, like angelfood, has to be cooled inverted.  Of course a chunk stuck to the pan.  Oh well.

The bread was this, Tuscan Bread with Herbs. It is a fairly wet dough, and it took about ten minutes of mixing/kneading in my kitchenaid. The dough got a silky sheen to it once done. For some reason, it took forever to get any color to it on the crust. The crust was a little hard on the bottom, since I baked it on a pizza stone. But it went very well with the stew to soften the crust in the broth.

We watched Priest last night on the SYFY channel. Not a bad movie and I really like Paul Bettany (I first saw him in A Knight’s Tale, which I love) and Karl Urban ( I saw him first in the Xena series). Plot holes that one could drive a star destroyer through, but so many fantasy movies do that. Also watched a part of an episode of Riverdale, this bizarre Buffy like version of the old Archie comics. They had a role-playing game called “Griffins and Gargoyles” that was taking over people’s minds. It was like watching a Chick tract (a very dumb conservative Christian who wrote lies as religious tracts). Of course, this world has real demons so it makes a little more sense.

Two possums are now visiting our yard.  That’s what I get for making a box for feral kitties to sleep in.  🙂

Well, that’s it. Eat and drink well!

From the Kitchen: Mole, and a picture of a feline pieta

Hello my followers,

Thanks for following.  This is a quick post of our tasty meal from last weekend and me with one of our new boys.

We made chicken mole last weeked.  Very tasty and yep, it’s from a Martha Stewart recipe, but we like it. I have learned to make corn tortillas (with a press) and made some Yucatecan pickled onions to go with it from Rick Bayless recipe.  I like a bit of acid to spark up my meals.

This is our smaller new kitty, Agamemnon aka Aggie.  He is the smaller of the two.  Kitty pieta. I make a very ugly and work weary Madonna.  But I have the carpet ripped up and the floor finished!

I spent the new years holiday tearing apart a room in our house since I had some emotions to work out since we had to euthanize the last of our older kitties, Muffin, during the holiday break.  Nothing like grief and anger to give one some excess energy.  I’ll have pics of the new room at some time.

I also have been gifted a Insta-Pot (pressure cooker/other things) by relatives.  Any good recipes?  It seems that the Insta-Pot gift is some weird apology from relatives who voted for that idiot Trump.

 

 

From the kitchen and the bar – experiments in game meats and some new wines

the pale lumps are very large garlic cloves

A month or two ago, D’Artagnan (the company that sells fancy meats here in the US) had a really good flash sale and I got a selection of game meats: a duck, venison shanks and a wild boar roast.   We had the wild boar first (actually a hybrid of European wild boar and feral pig that are running amuck in the south of the US).  It was good, though dry and we did lard it with extra pig fat.  The meat is very lean and all the darker color that you see in some pork cuts from regular pork.  I wasn’t that impressed, but I will say that I cook a tasty pork shoulder and am somewhat spoiled about what good pork is.

This weekend we cooked the venison shanks.  They were about 4 inches thick, and were New Zealand venison.  My husband found a recipe for a very garlic heavy braise, and since I’ve been wanting to cook something with a *lot* of garlic (readers will know I consider it a vegetable), we went for it. 

The wine used was a Simply Naked pinot grigio and of course the 4 bulbs of garlic.  We have rosemary and thyme in our garden.  It’s so shady, I’m glad that anything edible grows there.   I also have quite a few really poisonous things, like monkshood, jimsonweed, foxglove, etc. 

The meat was pretty indistinguishable to me from good beef.  We cooked it until the cartilage melted, making the meat succulent.  Not much fat on these, so the sauce isn’t as greasy as a beef based sauce would be.  They do come with the bone in, so I scooped out the marrow.  It was a little strong flavored for me, though I can see how some people would love that.  We just had the rest of the pinot grigio with it and it went surprisingly well with such a dark meat.   It’s nice and light.  We also got a bottle of their unoaked chardonnay, and it was good too, though a little richer than we wanted for the recipe.

We also got a few new wines to try.  We’ve been looking at the less than $10 that the PA Fine Wines and Good Spirits stores have.  If you are of an age in PA, you’ll know these stores to be “state stores”.  One of the wines was Regio Cantina Donpa Aglianico del Vulture 2013.  We really got it because it had this as a description ““This initially shows funky aromas of stalky underbrush, wet soil and a whiff of damp fur that slowly blow off to reveal toast, leather and dried blackberry jam. The dense full-bodied palate evokes prune, chocolate and a hint of tobacco alongside firm tannins.”  Alas, it wasn’t nearly so odd, and I was a bit disappointed.  It is a good dark red wine though. 

That’s it.  Eat and drink well!   If you have a good roast duck recipe, let me know for my next experiment.

From the Kitchen – cake and some random musings

Back to some fun stuff.   I found a recipe for German buttercream frosting on Serious Eats, one of my favorite food sites.  This stuff is very good, not too sweet, and full of tasty tasty fat!  I recently made a spice buy at Penzey’s, my favorite socially concious spice merchant, and used my new vanilla beans.   I did end up using salted butter which was noticeable but fine on a chocolate cake, rather like the salted caramel craze.  I just used a boxed chocolate cake mix.

I honestly can’t frost a cake worth crap. but it tastes good.

This weekend we are going to return to an old recipe, the blue cheese tart.  This time we are going to grab a rotisserie chicken and add the shredded meat to the tart. Should be tasty!

I’ve been watching “The Terror” on AMC.  It’s a horror tale about the failed expedition to find the Northwest Passage back in the 1840s based on this book.  Generally I’m not big horror fan, still having nightmares from watching “Alien”.  But this show grabbed me somehow.  There’s lots of blood, cannibalized bodies, etc, but the characters are interesting.  I very much enjoyed it.  It’d make a great Cthulhu tale if one just added a few tentacles.

Short one today.  Eat and drink well!

 

 

From the Bar: a couple of new things to drink, vindaloo, and a movie

This weekend we made a chicken vindaloo.    This was from the Saveur magazine recipe and it just wasn’t quite what I had grown used to in most indian restaurants.  What the recipe produced was a chicken and potato curry stew but not much of the vinegar tang that I like in vindaloo.  So I ended up taking a can of tomato sauce (I didn’t have tomato paste) and cooking it down with a bit of balsamic vinegar to get the flavor profile I wanted.   Then it came pretty close to what I was wanting.  We had this with jasmine rice. 

We’ve also been trying some new alcohols lately.   With our Indian meal, we tried a new cream liqueur called Somrus.  This stuff is delicious!  It has a wonderful mix of cardamom, rose, and other exotics.  It’s built on a rum base.  We made a lassi and poured some in.   My spouse just poured some over a brownie, which  he has found very good.

We also tried a new wine, Macaw Tannat from Brazil.   This is a nice simple red wine.  The grape is supposedly notoriously tannic but this wasn’t bad at all.  It’s nothing complex or expensive but a decent table wine.  

We also tried a mixed six pack of beers from a local microbrewery, Howling Henry’s.   Pretty good beers, and one really odd but good one, Basil Onion Pale Ale.   This is one of the few beers I’ve had that I’d consider savory, the others being Shock Top’s Twisted Pretzel beer (alas, discontinued) and Dogfish Brewing’s Ta Henket, the Egyptian beer. This would be great in a beer bread.  

Lastly, I’ve been stressed out about work and have been hiding by watching a lot of TV.  We watched the first of the Mythica movies which was a lot of fun.  This is what D&D movies should be.   All the way around a perfectly decent sword and sorcery movie with amazingly decent CGI.  This was partly funded by a Kickstarter request.  Unfortunately, it has Kevin Sorbo in it, who has become a Christian twit in his “God is not dead” type movies, but he’s not bad looking.  In the first, he’s only on screen for about 10 minutes.

That’s all.  Eat and drink well!

 

From the Kitchen – finally that bread that I’ve been trying for a decade + to make and a dip

Well, I finally did it! (happy porcupine dance)

I made a loaf of bread that has all of the holes in it I wanted. It only took more than a decade since I’ve first started trying baking bread.

I started baking bread since I do love that smell through the house. I started baking the standard sandwich loaf that my grandmother made dozens of loaves of, being a farm wife with 5 kids and the usual helpers. She raised this family back when they were still using draft horses along with tractors.

But I wanted a holey, crispy/crunchy loaf like the French are so good at. And it took a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen (publishers of Cook’s Illustrated) to make it. I will admit, I’ve made fun of them for years, wondering why someone would need to cook 50 chickens to get something right. But the method of understand and analyze does work in cooking (as it does in the sciences). I’m guessing that someday that recipe will vanish from KCET’s website, so you may have to become a member of ATK or ask me nicely to get it. 🙂  In the photos, you’ll note that a 500 degree oven just about chars parchment paper.

Yes, it take a bit of time to do. It’s worth it. We ate it with warm triple crème brie, cherry preserves and a fig and olive relish mentioned in this post.

So, tah-dah!

I also made their sticky buns and they are amazing! The use of a cooked water and flour roux, a technique from Asia called tangzhong, makes all of the difference. I’m thinking of subscribing so I can have access to all of these all of the time.

We also made queso fundido. I’ve tried this before and just can’t get the liquid texture I like in restaurant versions. So we stumbled upon Herdez Queso dip and it’s perfect. We heated it in the oven until hot, and topped it with fried chorizo (the fresh kind, not the preserved Spanish kind).

That was dinner with Fritos. I love tortilla chips, especially Xochitl brand since they are so thin, but sometimes a girl has to have her Fritos.

 

That’s all.   Eat well!

 

From the Kitchen, from the Bar and from the garden: a meandering post about various things

I haven’t had a food and drink post for awhile. A handful of weeks ago we decided to see if we could grill whole Cornish hens on our small barreled shaped grill. We didn’t want to butterfly them which would be simpler, but to have a little whole chicken for each of us.

Many years ago, I was a member of a medieval recreation group called the Society of Creative Anachronism. I was friends with some folks who were part of a somewhat parallel group called the Tuchux, a group that recreated fantasy barbarians, and got their name from the rather atrocious Gor books by John Norman (very bad fantasy of a fellow who ends up on a alien planet where his fantasies of submissive women come true). They are quite a bit more egalitarian than the Gor nonsense and were some coolest people I ever met in my sojourn in the SCA (it’s been about a decade since I’ve had any contact with the SCA). At one of their Yule Feasts that I was kindly invited to, we each got a small loaf of fresh bread and a roasted Cornish hen and it was the best feast I think ever had. I wanted to recreate that.

We managed to do so by putting a pile of charcoal on both side of the grill aka indirect grilling and putting the chooks between them for about 45 minutes and then moving them over the dying coals to crisp up the skin for about 15 minutes at the end. I do recommend getting the biggest charcoal chimney as you can get because then you never have to worry about having lighter fluid or having that nasty taste on their food. We use brown craft paper to light ours since some inks smoke like crazy.

As for a recipe, all it was consisted of thawed chooks, with butter stuffed under the skin and smeared over the skin. Continue reading “From the Kitchen, from the Bar and from the garden: a meandering post about various things”