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Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

Golden CayenneA friend of mine runs OACA Pepper Farm, and he shared a great recipe for a hot sauce that uses carrots, onions, and habanero chili peppers. The carrots give sweetness, the habaneros the heat, and it comes out orange, tangy, and very good.

When my garden started providing me with golden cayenne chili peppers, I thought I might try a twist on the OACA recipe. Keeping with the a la page concept, I considered my options as to what might work well with the intense, almost candy-colored yellow of the golden cayennes. The answer came at a BBQ during Labor Day weekend: corn.

I whipped up a batch of this yesterday, and it’s yummy.

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Poached Egg Time TrialsYes, I can get a bit…obsessed…at times.

My good friends over at Cheap Seat Eats blog turned me on to a video in which Wylie Dufresne shows a new way to poach an egg. If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know I’ve been working to perfect the various methods of cooking the venerable Hen’s Egg. I just about have the hard-cooked egg down pat (thanks to my friend and author Barb Hendee), but the perfect poached egg has eluded me.

I’ve tried many methods. I’ve tried classic out-of-the-shell methods like the dead-drop (sticks to bottom of pot), the swirl/vortex (still all thready), and the Martha Stewart cook-in-spoon-followed-by-scissoring-off-the-threads-to-make-it-look-nice-nice method (too obsessive, even for me). I’ve tried several in-the-shell methods, too, from the classic 5-minute egg (impossible to peel), to David Chang’s one-hour slow-cook method (too unreliable and never cooked well enough).

Nothing has pleased me. Here’s what I want in a poached egg:

  • Firm, cooked white
  • Creamy, orange yolk, almost like a sauce when it spills
  • Enough of a “sag” in the cooked egg so that it looks poached, not hard-cooked

Dufresne’s method, based on modernist techniques and analysis, gives us a perfect, in-shell, poached/soft-cooked egg. I tried it once. Damned near perfect. I tried it again. Damned near perfect again. My only complaint was that the egg stood a bit too tall, and was a bit “too” cooked at the prescribed cooking time.

So, I set about performing a time trial. Four eggs. Four cook times, ranging from Dufresne’s prescribed 5:45 min, and downward.

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Summer Zucchini SaladOnce my zucchini plants started pumping out 16+oz fruit, I had to think of something to do with them. Fast.

I came across a recipe that turned zucchini into tagliatelle (wide, flat noodles) by julienning them on a mandoline, and thought, “Eureka!” But no, at least not that recipe, which called for nearly 2 cups of fresh mint.

Some zucchini with your mint, sir?

So, I kept the technique, but changed the recipe, and hit upon something really nice. Clean, lively flavors, and goes great with a glass of pinot grigio or sauv-blanc. Note: if you don’t have a mandoline, you can use a box grater (see bottom of recipe). (more…)

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Simple LivingMy herb Earthbox is still coming along (update tomorrow) but my neighbor, who’s about five weeks ahead of me in his Earthbox garden project, is starting to see the fruits of his labors. This weekend, he brought over a bag of basil (a third of his take after thinning his plants).

So…what to do with a surprise bag of basil? Well, you could whip up some pesto, of course, but everyone does that. No, there was something new I wanted to try, something  I’d recently seen that intrigued me.

Basil oil.

Deep in color, I’d seen it used to dot the rim of a plate of sushi, and to lay emerald cabochons on the surface of a bowl of ramen.

I looked up a handful of recipes, and came up with a process that I tried this weekend. It may need some tweaking, but it’s pretty good. In this recipe, the basil hits the heat twice. First, it gets blanched, which breaks down the leaves for better pureeing, and second, the puree is heated to enhance both the flavor and add more of that deep green color. Unlike some simpler versions, I strain the mixture twice, so there aren’t little bits of basil leaves floating about in the oil.

Use it when you want a hint of that basil sharpness, but don’t want to overpower, or don’t want the actual leaves. Great as a garnish, or as an ingredient in sauces, dressings, and poaching liquid.

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Simple LivingThis weekend we went to a GNOIF (Game Night of Indeterminate Frequency) over at our friends’ place. It’s a great time for convivial banter amidst board and card games of varying complexity. Everyone brings something potable and something noshable. I brought a bottle of sangiovese from the winery at Castello di Amorosa, and the finalized version of my baklava, a recipe I’ve been finessing for some time.

I can’t share the sangio with you (it was good, though), but I can share the recipe for baklava.

In this recipe, I cut the sometimes cloying sweetness by using salted pistachios, and by using honey for the syrup instead of sugar. The clean flavor of the orange blossom water, and the high, bright notes of the cardamom and the Vietnamese cinnamon also help bring the flavor profile up out of the Too Sweet Valley.

Here ’tis.

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Simple LivingWhen the going gets tough, the tough get cooking…at least in my case.

Here’s a surprisingly easy recipe for something you may never thought you could make at home: Hum bao (aka hum-bow, aka humbow, aka “one of those big white steamed buns with savory filling you grab off the cart at the dim-sum place”).

If there’s one thing I’d stress for this recipe, it’s that you should knead the dough by hand, not with your mixer or food processor. I have two reasons.

My first reason is practical. Using a machine will overwork the dough and make it chewier than it should be when it steams up.

My second reason is personal. Working the dough by hand is good for you. It connects you to the food you’re preparing, and is an experience to be savored as you feel the dough change from crumbly to tough to pliable. You feel the dough fighting you, resisting you until, through your slow persistence, it begins to relax, agreeing to become what you want it to become.

If you say it’s faster with a machine, I’d say no, it isn’t. You’d have to set up the machine, clean it, and stow it away again. And even if that wasn’t true, if you can’t find the 8-10 minutes to spend on the task of kneading the dough, you probably don’t love cooking enough.

Just sayin’. (more…)

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Simple LivingI used to pooh-pooh spice blends. Yes, I was that stupid.

My reasoning was three-fold. When I was growing up:

  1. Most “spice blends” were just with some seasonings tossed in to bump up the price.
  2. I never knew what was in a pre-packaged “spice blend.”
  3. They were pretty awful.

In addition, nothing bugs me more than a recipe that tells me to go out and buy something I can make at home. Like all those chicken noodle soup recipes that say “add 16 ounce can of chicken broth.” Come on! I want to cook, not assemble! And so, swathed in my righteous purism, I eschewed any and all “spice blends,” casting them out into the wilderness where the lesser creatures could partake of them.

Then I went to live overseas, and my world changed.

(Hint: There’s a recipe after the jump.) (more…)

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