Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Golf Season 2010 is over

Well, as far as we are concerned the golf season is over for now. Mind you, if the weather warms up I’m sure that Tillsonview Fairways will reopen. When we moved here in 2005 we played day before Christmas Eve, so anything can happen. But, for now, the bags were moved from garage to basement for cleaning, re-gripping and general look-over off all pockets, etc. I usually empty whole bag and then flip it upside down. All in a sudden you find things that you lost months ago J! Of course, shoes have to have spikes changed, white shoes will have to be washed and leather painted, shoe laces checked and if required, changed. Once I broke a shoestring on my backswing. Not a good thing, almost fell on my kisser. Anyway, in 3 weeks days are getting longer and in February there are Golf Shows to go to…
I just realized that this is my first golf post and I wonder when the next one will be. I should have posted last week when we played Tillsonview with our neighbors and friends and I have done something that I have never done before. Since Tillsonview doesn’t book tee times it is first-come-first-play thing. We had six, SIX, slow and I mean slooow, groups ahead of us. But, it was likely last round and we didn’t play alone so we waited and passed time by yapping with other eager golfers.
See you next year! March? April?...

Xiao Long Bao – Shanghai Steamed Soup Dumplings

Making these Dim Sum dumplings will be one of my winter projects. Is it ever labor intensive and complex! No need to go into detail here, just visit Steamy Kitchen blog, read the very well written article and salivate.

Hunan Braised Pork Ribs

What a pleasure to have a plate full of fall-off-the-bone, sweet and sticky baby back pork ribs in front of you. Quite messy to eat but is it ever good! I tried few recipes and eventually came up with my own version. Of course, you can make them as spicy as you want with addition of Sriracha sauce.

1 rack baby back ribs, cut in half
2 T. Peanut oil
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup Oyster sauce
1/4 cup Plum sauce
1/2 cup Soy sauce
1 cup Sake
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. fresh ginger, peeled & minced
2 T. honey


Have butcher to cut the rack in half. Remove the membrane covering ribs.
Cut the rack of ribs into separate ribs.


Put ribs and all ingredients in a prep bowl and rub the marinade in. Marinade for 4 hours.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick frying pan. Add the ribs & brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from frying pan and drain excess oil and put ribs into Chinese sand pot or heavy bottom pot.
Add the sake and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to very slow simmer and simmer for 2 hours, stirring from time to time. Remove lid & let boil gently until the sauce is thickened & coating the ribs, 15 - 20 minutes.
Sprinkle with green onions and serve.

No-Knead Rye Bread

This version of No-Knead Bread is Jim Lahey’s original and revolutionary creation. I’m just passing it on.
The secret ingredient in all true bread is time. The key to this addictive loaf of rich, hearty goodness is not laborious kneading; it’s an overnight rest. With time, water and flour naturally form elastic dough that rises with just a small amount of yeast. Here’s how to make your own artisan bread.


For 1 normal loaf
3 cups of all-purpose or bread flour
1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
1/2 cup of rye flour
1/2 teaspoon of dry yeast
2  teaspoons of salt
1 Tablespoon of Caraway seeds
2  cups of warm water or whey

For baking in a covered pot
1. Whisk the dry ingredients together thoroughly. Add the water and stir until a wet dough forms. Continue stirring until the dough incorporates all the loose flour in the bowl, about 60 seconds in total.
2. Cover the bowl with a towel and rest in a warm place for 12 to 18 hours. It will double in size, bubble and long gluten strands will form.


3. Lightly flour your hands and the work surface then remove the dough from the bowl. Quickly form it into a ball. Thoroughly flour a cotton towel and rest the dough on it. Cover it with another floured cotton towel.  You may also rest the dough on a non-stick ‘Silpat’ mat and cover it with just one towel.
4. Rest the dough a second time. In 2 to 3 hours it will rise again and double in size once more.

5. A half an hour or so before the dough is ready preheat your oven to 450 degree with a heavy covered pot in it. You may use cast-iron, steel, enamel or ceramic.
6. When the dough has fully risen, slide your hand under the towel and quickly invert the delicate dough into the hot pot. Shake the pot a bit to settle it then place the lid on the pot and start baking.

7. Bake for 40 minutes with the lid then remove it and bake for 15 minutes more.
8. When temperature inside bread reaches 210 °F the bread is done. When you remove it from pot you will hear the crust crackling. What a sound and what a smell!

Pure heaven!

Chicken Tenders with Gnocchi

In this recipe I used frozen Gnocchi. Just drop frozen Gnocchi in boiling water and cook same way as fresh. Do not thaw or they will stick together.
Sauté chicken tenders or skinless and boneless chicken breast cut into strips for about 3 minutes on each side, steam or microwave broccoli, heat up tomato sauce. Toss Gnocchi in the sauce and serve with chicken and broccoli flowerets on the side. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Meal is ready in 15 minutes.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Potato Gnocchi

This recipe is the simplest, fastest and as foolproof as you can get. Main reason is because the Russet potatoes are “baked” in microwave. You can serve gnocchi as a starter or as a light meal.

To serve 3 as meal or 6 as starter.
2 Russet potatoes, washed and pierced in 4 places with tip of knife
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
½ cup of flour plus more for dusting
Salt
Nutmeg, freshly ground

Place potatoes in microwave safe dish with paper towel on bottom and nuke for 4-½ minutes. Turn over and nuke 4 minutes more. Remove and cut in half, lengthwise, to release steam. As soon as they are cool enough to handle remove the skin, cut in smaller pieces and pres through potato ricer, food mill or as Chef John of Food Wishes does use spatula and strainer. Mix in egg yolk until well combined and then add pinch of nutmeg and start adding flour one tablespoon at a time till dough doesn’t feel tacky. This is very much cooking-by-feel. As Chef John says on his Blog:
There is no such thing as an exact recipe for gnocchi. If you don’t like cooking by feel, and need exact measurements before attempting to cook something, this recipe is not for you. Potato sizes vary, the starch/water contents vary, how you cook it, and how much flour you add not only depends on the aforementioned factors, but also on the desired texture/density of the gnocchi.” Amen.
When dough feels right, roll it into a log and divide it into 8 parts. Roll each piece into a “snake” about ¾” in diameter and then cut into pieces about 1” long. Roll each piece over fork tines to create ridges for sauce.
Drop gnocchi into boiling water and when they float to top count 15 seconds and remove. You can drop them into a tomato sauce, pesto or frying pan with hot butter and olive oil. Sprinkle with Parmigianino cheese and serve.
Watch this great video.


  

To riced potatoes add egg yolks, salt and nutmeg and mix.

Mix the flour in tablespoon at a time.

Roll into a log and divide into equal smaller pieces...

then roll into snakes about 3/4" diameter.

Cut 1 inch long pieces...

and shape over fork tines.

Drop into boiling water and when they float to top let simmer for 15 seconds more.

Scoop gnocchi out, drop them into a hot tomato sauce and toss.

Grate Parmigianino on top and serve. 


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Phở


If there is one completely addictive soup for all seasons it has to be Pho.
I used to simmer the stock for 5 hours till I came across this great recipe on Steamy Kitchen blog. There is no point for me to re-type it here, just click on highlighted links.
In my case I have serve His & Hers version. I love spicy condiments and lot of tripe and tendons in my Pho. Marjo prefers a more western style with meat and meat balls. This time I had to do without mint, basil and tendon that are so important with the soup. Tillsonburg is not Toronto when it comes to Asian herbs, spices and ingredients availability. Still, both versions of Pho were great, as usual J.
Hers.
His.
What a great soup!

Weeping Mulberry and Japanese Lilac


We had Works Department of our town remove Weeping Mulberry and Japanese Lilac that were planted when house was build 14 years ago on town property. Mulberry was not exactly attractive and healthy and Lilac didn’t flower for last 2 years and was very close to another tree so that it was hard for me to cut grass between and around them. Next year I will have only two trees and one island to go around with my lawn mower! Cool.
Brute force removed the tree in 1 minute...

and left a mess to match.
Lilac's turn. Notice the monster on my wet and soft lawn.

All done.
I am grateful to town Works manager for getting the job done so quickly but I am not exactly thrilled with the mess left behind. Oh well, another garden job before the year is over. I’ll get on it as soon as it warms up again, hopefully next week.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Veal Ragout with Mushrooms and Noodles

This is one of my favorite dishes since my childhood in Czech Republic and it is a regional specialty. Just like so many ragouts and stews it is better next day after all flavors have combined. This is my slow cooking, no-worry version.

To serve 4
2 Lb. veal shoulder chops, deboned and cut into 1” cubes
3 cups sliced Cremini or Button mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
3 T. butter
2 T. flour
½ cup veal or chicken stock – mushrooms will release lot of liquid
Salt
Pepper
Preheat oven to 220 °C.
Sprinkle the veal with salt and pepper. Melt butter in dutch oven over medium heat and when the foam subsides, add onions and cook until translucent, 6 – 8 minutes. Stir in the veal cubes till meat changes color, sprinkle with caraway seeds and flour and stir to coat meat evenly. Cover tightly and cook over very low heat for 10 minutes, shaking the pan now and then to prevent sticking.
Stir in stock, add mushrooms and stir till well mixed. Bring to simmer and place on middle rack in preheated oven and braise for 2 hours. This allows for the collagen of the connective tissues to melt into gelatin, while keeping the drying up of the muscle fibers at a minimum. After 2 hours raise temperature to 275°C for another hour. After 3 hours in the oven start checking for doneness  (sharp tip of a knife should go in without resistance). At this time you can start boiling water for noodles.
When meat is done, remove from oven and let rest so that meat will reabsorb some of the juices. Boil noodles, drain, toss in butter and keep warm.
Of course, this ragout can be cooked on a stove top at very low heat but it will have to be stirred every 15 – 20 minutes for 3 hours.
All done! Serve with buttered wide noodles. 
Stir in the veal cubes till meat changes color, sprinkle with caraway seeds and flour and stir to coat meat evenly.
Stir in stock, add mushrooms and stir till well mixed.
3 hours plus later...

All done.
 Note: It is very difficult to photograph and plate stew, any stew. It is not a pretty meal regardless of how great it tastes. I did my best with my $150 Canon point-and-shoot camera. Also, for garnish I used parsley from my garden. I am sad to say that they were the last leaves left. I still have plenty of arugula but no parsley.
Arugula in cold frame.

Pear and Orange salad

Besides the tedious task of sectioning the oranges this is a quick and very adaptable salad.
I used:
1 Bosc pear, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
2 oranges, sectioned plus zest
1 sundried tomato
Arugula, handful
Slice of cooked bacon
Goat cheese
Dressing:
1 T. orange juice (drippings from sectioning)
1 T. lemon juice
1 T, maple syrup or honey
2 t. balsamic vinegar
Salt, pinch
Add all dressing ingredients to lidded container and shake till well combined and milky in appearance.
Put arugula on bottom of serving plate/bowl, then alternate orange and pear slices, top with sundried tomato slivers, goat cheese and bacon slice and drizzle dressing on top. For me I would add kalamata olives and sliced jalapeno peppers for some extra kick..

Thursday, November 25, 2010

All Day Breakfast

When my day is very busy and I don’t have a time to cook I usually go for ADB (All Day Breakfast). In our case it means caramelized smoked ham and pineapple, Maple Syrup beans, eggs and toasted English muffin. Great comfort food any time of a day with one drawback: too many frying pans! One for ham and pineapple; one for eggs and a pot for beans. In a restaurant everything is cooked on a hot griddle, it is quick and easy.
I don’t think that I have to write a recipe; picture is worth a 1000 words, right?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ocean Smelts Tempura

While shopping at Zehrs yesterday morning I passed by fish counter and Ocean Smelts caught my eyes. Suddenly I had craving for Tempura. We never eat fried food but light tempura is exception. Since I wanted super crunchy coating I opted for additional coating in Panko. Here is my version of tempura:

Heat oil in heavy Dutch oven to 350 °C.

Batter:
1 large egg
1 cup beer
¾ cup flour
3 T. corn starch
2 t. baking powder
1 t. sea salt
Hot sauce to taste
Panko bread crumbs

In a bowl beat the egg, add beer, salt and hot sauce and mix.
In bowl mix flour, corn starch and baking powder. Put flour mix into egg & beer mix and mix. Do not over mix, leave some lumps.
Dip cleaned smelts into batter, shake excess batter off and drop into bowl with Panko. Toss till evenly coated, remove to wire rack and repeat till all smelts are ready for fryer. When oil reaches 350 °C drop smelts in and move them around so that they don’t stick to each other. In about 3 – 4 minutes they should be nicely golden and crispy. Remove to rack lined with few layers of paper towel. Place on serving platter and serve with wasabi mayonnaise sauce.

Wasabi Mayonnaise Sauce:
2t. wasabi paste
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Mix wasabi paste and mayonnaise until well combined.

Note:
Every recipe dealing with tempura recommends to make batter in small batches and ice cold. I made my in one large bowl about 1-1/2 hour ahead, coated the smelt and placed in fridge on a wire rack. They came out perfectly crisp and they were not oily at all. I lost only less then 1 teaspoon of oil frying 12 large smelts. Go figure. I guess some old rules can be broken after all.
Second batch waiting for fryer. These smelts were sitting in fridge for 90 minutes, all coated, before hitting the oil.
Light and crispy.