12/14/10

Kapusta! (When Kimchi will just not do... for your Polish friends)

Kapusta [kah-POOS-tah], the Russian, Hungarian, Polish, Ukrainian, and Slovak word for cabbage, is a popular dish in Polish and Slovak cooking. Its primary ingredient has been pickled into sauerkraut[1] and, in some places, kapusta simply refers to this plain sauerkraut. But in many other homes, this base is frequently amplified with a mix of mushrooms and onions, and that is what is meant by the term kapusta. Some cooks also add meat (usually pork, either rib meat or bacon, or smoked kielbasa),[2] resulting in what is often called bigos. (from Wikpedia)

In some homes, kapusta is served very thin, almost like a soup. In others, its ingredients are cooked until it becomes nearly as thick as mashed potatoes. Kapusta is less ubiquitous in Polish cooking than kimchi is in Korean cuisine, but both serve a similar role in adding bulk to the meal and a background flavour with which other foods contrast.)

Basic Kapusta

One-half firm, fresh head of cabbage, sliced +/- 1/4 inch (Size of cut is very optional to personal taste; but not too thin to cause it to disappear. )
2-3 carrots, peeled and grated coarse
1 medium-large onion, thin 1/2 slices
1-2  apples, crisp variety, cut into medium dice
2T vinegar or to taste
3T sugar or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Braise 1 hour with small amount of water

Options

Braising liquid: water with small amount of white wine/marsala/cooking sherry, chicken broth, miso broth***
2 large potatoes, medium cubed (will melt a bit and thicken the dish)
Fresh Mushrooms, sliced
Polish dried mushrooms
Meats: Kielbasa and/or other smoked or fresh sausages; and/or other smoked pork cuts (bacon, ribs, hock, picnic ham)
1-2 T barley (nice textural element, plus thickens dish)

***Miso??? Yes. But maybe then, omit polish type mushrooms and meats. Cook more to soup consistency. Add tofu, garnish with thin sliced scallions. Maybe even add some daikon cubes. Dried Asian mushrooms.(Kapusta Orientale!)

For further inspiration, moving perhaps westward to France/Germany:

(From Wikipedia: Choucroute garnie (French for dressed sauerkraut; choucroute is a phonologically francophonic form of Alsatian Sürkrüt, c.f. German Sauerkraut) is a famous Alsatian recipe for preparing sauerkraut with sausages and other salted meats and charcuterie, and often potatoes.

Although sauerkraut is a traditionally German and Eastern European dish, the French annexation of Alsace and Lorraine following the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 brought this dish to the attention of French chefs and it has since been widely adopted in France. In principle, there is no fixed recipe for this dish - any preparation of hot sauerkraut with meat and potatoes could qualify - but in practice there are certain traditions, favourite recipes, and stereotypical garnishes that are more easily called choucroute garnie than others.

Traditional recipes call for three types of sausage: Frankfurt sausages, Strasbourg sausages, and Montbéliard sausages. Fatty, inexpensive or salted cuts of pork also often form a part of choucroute garnie, including ham hocks, pork knuckles and shoulders, back bacon and slices of salt pork. Other recipes call for pieces of fish or goose meat, but this is far less typical. The sauerkraut itself is usually heated with a glass of Riesling or other dry white wines or stock, and goose or pork fat. In some recipes, it may also be cooked with chopped onion and sliced apples. Food writer Jeffrey Steingarten attempted to catalogue the composition of an authentic recipe in 1989. He writes that every traditional recipe includes black peppercorns, cloves, garlic, juniper berries, onions, and potatoes; most include bay leaves and wine.

Like cassoulet, pot au feu, and so many other examples of France's regional cuisine, choucroute's origin is in a traditional, inexpensive dish, but grand versions (such as Choucroute Royale, made with Champagne instead of Riesling), and grand ingredients (such as foie gras and wild game) are mentioned both in traditional sources (e.g. Ali-Bab[1]) and in recipes from contemporary chefs and restaurants.

Choucroute garnie is available throughout France in canned or microwavable ready-to-eat form. A Hungarian version of choucroute garnie includes stuffed cabbage leaves in addition to the other ingredients. Shredded cabbage can also be added along with the sauerkraut in order to produce a somewhat less acidic version.)

11/30/10

Persimmon Pudding


The following persimmon pudding recipe is from the Joy of Cooking. It is for members of the clean plate club. Memorable!  Best served warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

To make persimmon pulp ... 

Cut 4 to 6 very ripe large persimmons in half. Remove any seeds, and then scrape the pulp free from the skins with a teaspoon. Puree the pulp in a blender or food processor. If it looks stringy, force it through a sieve with the back of a spoon. Makes approx. 1 ½ to 2 cups pulp.

INGREDIENTS

-Persimmon pulp (see above)
-4 large eggs
-2 ½ Cups buttermilk
-¼ Cup unsalted butter, melted
-1 ½ Cup sugar
-1 ½ Cup all-purpose flour
-1 ½ tsp. baking powder
-1 ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
-½ tsp. ground nutmeg
-½ tsp. sea salt

Prepare a shallow 3-quart glass baking dish by coating the inside surfaces with butter. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl until light and fluffy. Whisk in the persimmon pulp, then whisk in buttermilk and melted butter.

In a separate bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients. Once thoroughly mixed, add the dry ingredients to the persimmon mixture and whisk until well-blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Place baking sheet or foil under baking pan to catch possible overflow. Bake until the top is deep golden brown and it springs back when lightly pressed, about 50 minutes.

Serve the pudding warm or cold, with whipped cream* on top, if desired.

*To make whipped cream, pour some heavy cream into a bowl, add some powdered sugar and vanilla extract to taste, and whip until stiff peaks form.





Other References: www.persimmonpudding.com

11/14/10

Velcro Salad


Background: (source Wikipedia) After taking his dog for a walk one day in the early 1940s, George de Mestral, a Swiss inventor, became curious about the seeds of the burdock plant that had attached themselves to his clothes and to the dog's fur. Under a microscope, he looked closely at the hook-and-loop system that the seeds use to hitchhike on passing animals aiding seed dispersal, and he realized that the same approach could be used to join other things together.

Ingredients/Preparation:

2 burdock roots (gobō / 牛蒡 or ゴボウ) peeled and cut into bit-sized 3” julienne strips
Purchase at any Chinese market. Typically you will find them 2 per package. The roots are averagely 30+” long! This to help you spot it in the store and as a cautionary mention should you want to grow it in your garden. You’ll need a backhoe to dig them up. The good news...burdock has been used for centuries as a blood purifier clearing the bloodstream of some toxins.
4” Fresh ginger cut into fine julienne
Place in cooking pot
Apple cider to just cover
2 T good soy sauce
Stew on medium heat until crispy/tender
Serve cold garnished with watercress
Store refrigerated
NB: Keep away from the kids or it won’t last long


10/14/10

Enlightenment Soup


Here is a classic recipe that is easy to prepare and will become a favorite of yours, I’m sure.

In certain circles I am known as the “King of Sour Cereal”! This spicy dish is served for breakfast at Siddha Yoga ashrams (spiritual schools) worldwide. It is said that ‘sour cereal’ was originally served to inmates in prisons in India. No wonder we never hear about prison escapes in India! It’s delicious! The soup, that is. Not about that we never hear about prison escapes in India. That's nice. But, not delicious.

As if the fact that this dish is an ashram staple were not enough justifcation for its name, Enlightenment Soup, when you look at the cooked millet seed it bursts open and takes the shape of the sanskrit symbol for OM. Is it just our imagination, or is it? Enlightenment or not, it's damn good.

Recipe yields 2.5 Quarts (6-8 servings). Half recipe works just as well. (The seeds called for in this recipe are all available at your local Indian grocery ; but, you should already have them around if you're anywhere near a half-way good cook.) If you live in Nepal, just ask the neighbor lady.


Combine
           
2.0 quarts boiling pure water
1 Cup millet
2/3 Cup desiccated coconut (unsweetened)
1 Cup finely chopped sweet onion
1-2 tsp. cumin seeds (jeera in Indian parlance) or more to taste
1 tsp. fenugreek seeds (mehti)* use sparingly/bitter
1/4 tsp. ajwan seeds** use sparingly/ very bitter, strong flavor
1 tsp. Salt or more to taste

Simmer until millet is cooked (stir frequently to avoid scorching)

Meanwhile, assemble "Masala" (spice/flavor mixture) for blending...
           
1 medium tomato chopped
1" fresh ginger root chopped (or more to taste)
2-3 pitted medium size dates chopped (more for sweetness)
1 tsp. coriander seeds (dhania) (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp. crushed pepper seeds
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 fresh hot chile pepper (jalapeno, serrano) or more to taste
1 small bunch cilantro stems chopped (plus roots if you have)*
Water enough to aid blending
*Save cilantro leaves for garnish

Blend to liquefy

Add liquid masala to cooked millet base
           
Bring to heat (remember...stir frequently to avoid scorching)
           
Adjust consistency...  Add water as needed to yield medium thick, soupy            

Adjust salt, hotness, sweetness
           
Thicken if need be with rolled oats or cream of wheat

Stir into pot just before serving... 1 small bunch finely chopped cilantro leaves

Accompaniments...

-Nutritional Yeast can be served separately as individual garnish
-1/2 pat of butter per bowl (optional)
-Plain dry toasted bread (optional)
-Bitter Melon (stewed with onion, tomato, ginger, chilis, lemon, and Indian spices — Fenugreek and Cumin seeds — to taste) Enjoy!

Fenugreek, commonly known as Methi, seeds provide a tangy flavor and powerful curry scent to the vegetable and lentil dishes. Fenugreek seed are used in wide range of curry powder. Fenugreek can also be used as a fresh herb.


Fenugreek seeds are always roasted before using. Light roast gives a mellow flavor and dark roast will give a bitter. Sometimes the seeds are soaked overnight, when they becomes easier to combine in curry paste. Soaked seeds can also be used as main ingredient for a vegetable or chutney.

Fenugreek are used and grown throughout the South Asia. The Fenugreek plant grows 2 feet tall with light green leaves and white flower. Each Fenugreek pod gives from 10 to 20 seeds. Fenugreeks are rich in protein, vitamins and minerals.

Ajwan seeds (also known as Ajwain, Ajowan, Bishops Weed, Carom, or Ethiopian Cumin) add a perky freshness to carbohydrates and lentils. Ajwan is related to fennel, caraway and cumin, but it is much smaller than these. The seed has a similar size and shape to those of celery seeds. The taste is strong but has a certain freshness to it. When crushed, they have a Thyme-like aroma and may substitute thyme in smaller quantities. Some Indian recipes call this spice Lovage.

Before using Ajwan seeds, crush them to release the flavor by rubbing them together with your finger tips. Ajwan is popular in some Indian dal dishes and in breads and potatoes where it is used as a spice very much like cumin. Ajwan is mainly used for potatoes and lentils, although it can be good for any root vegetable dish. It is used in curry powder mixed specifically for vegetables and lentils, as well as in Indian breads like parathas and pooris, and Indian appetizers such as pakoras. Ajwain contains thymol, which is a germicide and antiseptic, and is valued in Ayurvedic cuisine for its medicinal uses, including diarrhea, colic, flatulence, asthma and indigestion. It helps expel wind and mucus.

Bitter Melon, also known as Karela or Momordica Charantia is a herb that helps regulate blood sugar levels and keeps body functions operating normally. It contains Gurmarin, a polypeptide considered to be similar to bovine insulin, which has been shown in experimental studies to achieve a positive sugar regulating effect by suppressing the neural response to sweet taste stimuli. Karela's principle constituents are lectins, charantin and momordicine. The fruits have long been used in India as a folk remedy for diabetes mellitus. Lectins from the bitter gourd have shown significant antilipolytic and lipogenic activities.

9/14/10

KIMCHI
 
Dave's Rounded Eye Version Tasty and Delicious
 
Kimchi is good for you! "Eat your kimchi!" our Korean aunty would always say. So make some soon and stop being so sour yourself. It is sour enough! This recipe has been pared down to the essentials; and, even so, there are some optional items in the basic version. Appended are additional ingredients should you want to go really far East.

Ingredients

1 Napa cabbage medium sized / 2-3 lbs
Cut lengthwise into 4-6-8 sections depending on the size of the cabbage. Remove root core, then cut into 2" pieces. Or, Napa cabbage can be cut lengthwise into 6-8 long sections (See optional section).
1 Daikon radish large enough to make you nervous (better, Korean radish if you can find this variety)
Cut into 1/4" thick half or quarter rounds (depending on diameter of whole radish).
2" piece of ginger slivered into fine julienne or made into a paste
1 T fresh garlic slivered or made into a paste (optional, but traditionally a must)
Half cup Kosher salt (for salting the vegetables)
1 Bunch scallions sliced thin on the bias
1/4 Cup sugar
1 1/2 T Kosher salt***
1/4 Cup Korean dried chile pepper flakes
1/4 Cup Korean dried chile pepper powder

***Use Kosher or other non-iodized salt. Iodized salt won’t promote fermentation.

 The dried chile flakes and powder are traditional, but optional and certainly the amounts can be varied according to taste. Very Important: the Korean dried chilies are medium hot. DO NOT use cayenne powder or red pepper flakes. If you go into a Korean market you will see mass quantities of various chile flakes/powders, some in industrial size packages. (I have heard that kimchi is becoming very popular with the Koreans.) Do what I did and ask someone from the store for a recommendation. But don't stop thinking for yourself. Just because they are oriental doesn't mean that they are imbued with the wisdom of the East. Let alone that they know how to make a good kimchi.

Optional Ingredients/Methods:

Half bunch Korean chives cut into 1" lengths.
1/4 cup Mochiko / sweet rice flour cooked into a porridge/sauce with 1 1/2 cups water.
1/2 cup oyster or fish sauce. (Source: Oriental food store) Not the same as Chinese Oyster Sauce.
1-2 T of salted shrimp made into a paste.
The salted shrimp are sold refrigerated at Korean food stores. Problem is that the small jar will be more than you need for a batch or two of kimchi. There are other uses to be sure, but I leave it to you to search for options. Word of caution...very salty.
Slurry Base for Spices:  (Instead of dry salting.) 3 Cups Water Combine with ½ Cup Sugar and ½ Cup Sweet Rice Flour to mix in vegetables and spices/flavorings. (See video to show preparation instructions.)

Preparation

Place the cut cabbage and radish pieces in a large bowl and toss with the salt. Or, cut lengthwise only leaving in 6-8 long sections. Salt between leaves. If using slurry method, spread mixture between each leaf. (See video.)
Let stand to wilt 2-4 hours, or overnight.
Rinse thoroughly.
Combine chile flakes/powder, flour porridge (if using), ginger, garlic, salt, sugar, scallions, chives, shrimp paste (if using) then add to cabbage and radish pieces.
Add small amount salted brine water to cover.
Let stand for 2-3 days in quiet cool place.
Check progress. Bubbles will appear to indicate fermentation.
Place in sterile jars and refrigerate.
Kimchi will continue to sour with time.

For a more traditional recipe treatment:  http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/napa-cabbage-kimchi


8/14/10

Stuffed Peppers a la Vito Vulpi

We met Mr. Vito Vulpi over Espresso and Italian iIces at a local Italian neighborhood street fair in the fall of 2010 in East Orange, New Jersey. He was generous to give us his best recipe for these stuffed peppers.


Peppers seeded...choose Red, Yellow, or Green Peppers

Stuff with mixture of:
     Rice...half cooked
     Pepperoni...chopped into fine pieces
     Mozzarella...small pieces
     Pecorino Romano...grated
     Capers
     Oregano
     Salt
     Pepper

Top with fresh seasoned bread crumbs

Bake at 350 F for 45 - 60 minutes

And ... you better follow the recipe! Kapish!





7/22/10

Gazebo Sandwich

The Gazebo was a restaurant near where I once lived in Brooklyn, New York. It was decorated to fit with the name with all kinds of white lattice and hanging baskets of flowers. The place specialized in healthy food and their signature sandwich they named The Gazebo.

Done according to the following recipe the Gazebo Sandwich is a meal. Just so you have a clear picture of the finished item, done properly it should sit on the plate like a big high round haggis. Try serving it to a Scottish friend and see the color of the highland heather come up in his face.

For 1 Gazebo Sandwich:

Single 6” pita. With knife open along 1/3 of circumference
On the inside bottom of pita round layer thin shredded lettuce, cucumber and tomato slices, and a few rings of sweet onion.
Over this add a generous serving spoon of tabouleh salad and another of dry cottage cheese. Then 3 stuffed grave leaves.
Finish with fresh alfalfa sprouts and finely shaved raw carrot and raw beet.
Pour into sandwich pocket tahini dressing made with sesame tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic.

Two hands and a good appetite are all else you will need. (Because of the way this sandwich is built, no two bites will be the same. A garden of healthy and delightful variety.)

Come to the Gazebo and refresh yourself.

If you want to mix it up a bit but not go too far from the original: Falafals, pickled vegetables, other salad greens such as mesclun or arugala. For a lift, add some "lift", mid-East style pickled turnip.

7/14/10

Mote Pillo --- Hominy With Eggs


(Lifted entirely from http://laylita.com/recipes/2008/03/27/mote-pillo/)

"Mote pillo is a dish of hominy fried with scrambled eggs; it is the perfect breakfast or brunch dish. Mote pillo is a typical dish from the highlands or Sierra region in Ecuador, the city of Cuenca (and the whole province of Azuay) claim this dish as their specialty. To me this is really a comfort food, like many other dishes from the Sierra it warms me up inside when I eat it. Mote pillo is very easy and quick to make, the mote or hominy is sautéed with onions, garlic, achiote, eggs, milk, chives and cilantro or parsley, it is almost always served with hot black coffee and slices of fresh cheese. Mote or hominy is dry corn that has been peeled and then boiled until soft, it is very easy to find it already prepared and canned in most grocery stores, usually in the canned vegetable section or in the ethnic section."

Ingredients:

1 lb cooked mote or hominy (can use canned hominy)
­­2 tbs butter
4 eggs
1 cup of chopped leeks (white part only) or white onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ tsp ground achiote
¼ cup milk
2 tbs chopped chives
1 tbs finely chopped cilantro or parsley
Salt to taste

Serve with: Queso fresco slices and black coffee

Preparation:

1.Heat the butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan, add the chopped leek or onions, crushed garlic, achiote and salt to make a refrito, cook until the leeks are soft, about 5 minutes.

2.Add the mote or hominy, stir in well and cook for another 2 minutes.

3.Add the milk and cook until the milk is almost all absorbed by the hominy.

4.Whisk the eggs and add them to the hominy, stir well and cook for about 3-5 minutes.

5.Stir in the chives and cilantro and add additional salt if needed.

6.Serve accompanied by queso fresco slices and hot black coffee.

7/1/10

Menudo


This is the Mexican recipe for the beloved “morning after” hangover cure, Menudo. It is a large dish, so make sure you know who your friends are and have them over some Saturday morning. Sunday morning, but only if they have gone to church first.

For the quintessential experience get on over to Guadelupe, Arizona any late Sunday morning after church. The Yaqui Native American and Hispanic community center has a social with some most delicious down home cookin'. There are also the most delectable tacos made with fry bread, your choice of fillings.

Menudo

Ingredients:

—3 lbs honeycomb tripe
—2 lbs pigs feet, cut in half, then 1-2 times across
—1 large onion, peeled and chopped
—*1 dried ancho chile, roasted, seeded, coarsely chopped (*optional, when used it’s Medudo Colorado)
—2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
—2-4 cups cooked hominy (if starting with dried hominy, 1-2 cups dried) Recipes vary on the amount, if any, hominy. Suit yourself. We recommend the smaller proportion.
—5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
—1 tablespoon oregano (Rub it!)
—5 peppercorns
—Water to cover

Preparation:

If starting with dry hominy: Soak in water overnight. In a pan cover with water and bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 2 hours.

Cut tripe into bite-size pieces and add into pot. Add pigs feet, onion, oregano, garlic and peppercorns. Cover with 2-3 inches of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer covered 2 hours. Add chiles and drained hominy, cook for an additional hour and then serve hot.

The cooking tripe has, well, an aroma. Best to vent the stove or even cook it outside. But, if outside, make sure the set up is secure so you don't accidentally cook a racoon or possum.

Garnishes:

Lime or lemon wedges
White onion finely chopped
Cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Crushed red chile pepper
Dried Mexican orgegano (Rub it!)

Accompaniments:

Warm tortillas, corn or wheat as you prefer
Guacomole
Salsa (Homemade, please!)
Radish wedges
Breakfast beer (serve it Mexican cowboy style, in tall glass filled with crushed ice)

Options:

Enrich the soup with cow foot, beef tendon, pork spare ribs, pig ears or tails. Go nuts.

2/21/10

Matouk's Hot Sauce
In Tobago many moons ago while driving around hither and thither we stopped by a small shack of a store to get a bite to eat. Simple fare was all they had, a plain cheese sandwich on a crusty roll. I asked for something to perk it up a bit and got a dash of Matouk's hot sauce. It's been a staple ever since.

Matouk's Hot Sauce contains just the right amount of sweet papaya base with a solid kicker of Scotch Bonnet Pepper.