Sunday, March 27, 2005

Easter Brunch

Really, I don't think Easter had too much to do with it, but still, it was Easter, and so we brunched. The noon meal included a potato, leek, and pea fritatta, fresh canary melon and papaya with lime, grilled slices of ham, and rosemary potatoes. Others brought crepes, homemade chocolate truffles, fresh bread with cashew butter, orange juice, and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.

Lastly, there were bloody marys. This might have been my reason for brunching in the first place, but I'm not saying for sure. At any rate, I'd never mixed one before, but I was pretty happy with the way they came out. The recipe was, I believe, pretty standard: tomato juice, vodka (Absolut), celery salt, worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and hot sauce (I used sri racha, a Vietnamese chili sauce--the one with the rooster). As a garnish I used bamboo skewers with large chunks of yellow and orange bell pepper, celery, and cucumber. I like the idea that there's a lot of possible variations. I'll have to include some more stuff next time. Maybe some shrimp or some pickled items. I don't know that I'm ready for the beefamato or raw oysters yet, but we'll see.

As a side note, this was one of those occasions where I was too interested in food to take any decent pictures. My apologies.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Milk's leap toward immortality

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I've been toying with the idea of trying a cheese a week. I don't know a whole lot about different types of cheese, so I figured this would be a good way to try a variety of things and keep track of my likes and dislikes.

What you see here is a sheep and cow's milk camembert from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company in Old Chatham, New York. For now, my cheese vocabulary is lacking. I'll have to read up on some other cheese reviews to see what the best way to describe common cheese characteristics is. I know that this is a "soft-ripened camembert-style cheese." It was quite soft, even right out of the fridge. The texture was smooth, and there was only a slight tang, almost like buttermilk, but with a more aged or developed depth to it. Once it softened up to room temperature, the texture was more like clotted cream (surprise). Overall, a pleasant cheese. More tasting notes to follow, hopefully.

On another cheese-related note, I picked up some Junket rennet tablets so that I might try some cheesemaking at home. Have a look at what this guy is doing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


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Sunday dinner was, finally, boliche. I say 'finally' because I've been looking over boliche recipes for several months now. I'm not really sure what I was looking for, but I settled on a recipe from Aaron Sanchez's La Comide del Barrio. The book's subtitle is "Latin-American cooking in the U.S.A," and, so far, it seems like a decent primer to a variety of different Hispanic foods found in the U.S.

For those not familiar, boliche is a Cuban-style stuffed eye of round roast. Granted, I'm not really up to turducken status, but I did manage to get two pork products into a pot roast this time. Not bad, eh? Eh? Eh? Anyway, the procedure was actually very simple, sort of fun, and more than a little obscene. Basically, I drove all eight inches of a chef's knife lengthwise into this four pound roast, created a pocket, and filled it with diced ham and chorizo. So much easier than butterflying or unrolling a cut of meat--no trussing. Oh, prior to stuffing, I used my mortar and pestle to make a paste of garlic, oregano, black pepper, and toasted cumin seeds. I rubbed this all over the roast, inside and out, and then, I stuffed.

Once the roast was stuffed, and Renee and AJ had stopped chuckling at my using the handle of a wooden spoon to jam in the last few bits of ham, I marinated the roast in a mixture of orange, lime, and key lime juices. The recipe called for Seville or sour orange juice but, well, no gots. The recipe didn't call for chorizo either, but several others did. Slight deviations here and there. After about four hours of marinating, I browned the roast in the old le creuset dutch oven, then sauted green bell peppers and onions. Next, I deglazed with a cup of dry sherry, added a can of pureed tomatoes and the marinade, then put the roast back in. I put the lid on and placed the whole deal in a 350 over for about two hours, turning occasionally.

Slightly before the meat was ready, I set about making rice and beans, as well as some fried plantains. The best thing I've found to do with canned black beans is to simmer them with some sauted crushed garlic, dried oregano, and maybe some cumin chili flakes. The plantains were simply sliced on an angle and fried in some vegetable oil until their sugars carmelized.

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I removed the roast from the pan, let it rest for about 10 minutes, and then sliced it into rounds and served it with its 'gravy.'

For desert, I'd planned to serve some wafers with cream cheese and guava paste, but everyone just sort of groaned at the mention of more food.

Now, I don't know a whole lot about Cuban food. I know I ate a lot of it as a kid in Key West, but most of the time I wasn't in the kitchen, I was sitting on a bench eating bollitos out of a translucent paper sack. If anyone has any suggestions on a more authentic boliche, I'd love to hear them.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Greens from the garden

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With the exception of a few cloves of garlic and some tofu, all of the key ingredients in last night's dinner were grown in the garden: carrots, onions, thai chilis, and thai basil. I made a basic stir fry and then tossed that with a sauce of boiled tamarinds, fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and water. With a side of brown rice it was very simple, very satisfying.

Monday, March 14, 2005


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Captured on film for the first time--by me at least. I've made a few batches of pizzelles with my Prego pizzelle baker but never managed to take pictures. Pizzelles are essentially crisp, waffle-like Italian cookies. Mine are flavored with anise seeds and vanilla, which, as far as I know is the traditional flavoring. I'm pretty sure that anise was the dominant flavor in the boxes of pizzelles that would arrive every Christmas from my Italian family in Pennsylvania. While they're just fine on there own, pizzelles are even better spread with some jam--Renee's nectarine preserves, for instance--or sandwiched with some nutella. Sadly, we were in short supply of both this time. Tisk, tisk.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Gratin Dauphinoise

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Perhaps one of the simplest and most satisfying things I've learned to prepare, gratin dauphinoise really makes me appreciate milk and potatoes. This version is only thinly sliced potatoes layered with equal parts whole milk and heavy cream, seasoned with salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg, and baked at 275 for roughly two hours. I've seen other versions (Elizabeth David's comes to mind) that involve rubbing the dish with garlic prior to layering the potatoes. I don't really know that this is necessary, and honestly I've never felt the need to try it.

I should also note that the potatoes I used for this were SunLite "all natural, low carb" potatoes. Now, now, I didn't buy them; they were a gift of sorts. Texturally, they were similar to a Yukon Gold, but not quite that waxy or buttery. Perhaps the most notable quality was how eerily clean they were. Definitely an image-conscious tuber in all respects. A decent potato though--I'll leave it at that for now.

Friday, March 04, 2005

New Links

I've added a few new links to the bar on the right:
EatFeed: a site that hosts podcasts about food. Think "This American Life" for food.
Technorati Food Tags: basically an aggregator for food related web posts. Better that you just go have a look at it.
Cayobo's Caribbean Recipes: an old friend from Key West with an impressive collection of island recipes. Check him out on Flickr as well.
Epicurious: the ever-useful recipe search engine.
Italian Cuisine at a wealth of Italian recipes from a guy whose name doesn't even end in a vowel. Go figure.
The Drunkard's Beer Log: some articulate friends with beer to match.

I've also included a link to blogspot's complimentary atom feed, if'n you're into that kind of thing.