Cranberry sauce with Pinot Noir
(Bon Appetit Nov 1997- Caprial's Bistro)
1 Tbsp veg oil
2 cups cranberries (about 8 oz)
1 Tbsp minced ginger
2 cups pinot noir or other dry red wine
(we use pinot noir or zinfindel)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 Tbsp chopped crystallized ginger
1 tsp curry powder
Large pinch of Chinese five-spice powder
Heat oil in saucepan over med-high heat. Add cranberries and fresh ginger, stir until cranberries begin to burst, about 3 min. Add wine and sugar, boil until mixture is reduced to 2 1/2 cups, about 15 min. (Note, we have found you definitely need to cook it way down. The flavor gets wonderfully intense if you do. One way to tell if you have cooked it long enough, the mixture takes on the color of the wine and thickens slightly) Add the crystallized ginger, curry and 5-spice powder. This recipe is very forgiving. Any ingredient, more or less doesn't hurt.
Give this a try. You won't believe how incredible this is. I also use this as a jam; it's also good with peanut butter.
Cranberry sauce with Pinot Noir
Posted by Monster Gramma at 5:47 PM
I've attempted to make a Wild Rice and Onion loaf recipe from here. There isn't anything wrong about the recipe, but the environment is all wrong here at Casa de Batata. We have an old house here in South Minneapolis and it is a bit, um, drafty, to say the least. Since the place is insulated with newspapers from when the house was constructed, it does leave a bit to be desired in the protection-from-the-winter department.
Raising a dough in cool conditions isn't a problem here in November, but the second fermentation requires more time (which I didn't have) or a higher temperature (which I didn't think of). Having a cold house is part of the cheap way we live but why I didn't have time is part of the reason we live extravagantly.
We are rarely home, so keeping a warm house makes little sense. The animals have fur and live quite well without temps in the 60's. The humans are rarely home and the need for warmer temperatures are seldom so we don't need the thermostat set high. And, referencing back to the inadequate insulation, it doesn't make sense either.
Regardless, this is a long way around to the point that we have a cold house and with a bit of thought I figured that my rolls and my loaf didn't rise because of the temperature of the kitchen. Of course, there is no way to fix the recipe or the loaves, but I do see a future where their participation for my Thanksgiving meal has been, uh, cemented, as perhaps as the ingredients of the dressing for the turkey. I just need to let it go stale.
Lesson learned; make sure that you have the oven ready and that the kitchen is in DefCon1 when the time to proof stuff is ready. Luckily, at Thanksgiving this is difficult. By the bye, should any of you find yourself without a place to be, or a place where you wish not to be, let us know as our Orphan Thanksgiving always has a seat for you, just let us know and we'll make a place for you. I promise to raise the buns correctly this time.
Posted by brother yam at 1:56 AM
Yup, you heard me right, I'm baking. I feel as if I'd just taken off the training wheels, or, better yet, found myself wobbling upright on my own two legs. I wish I could explain the feeling of accomplishment I feel right now. 30+ years of "there's no way I can learn to do this" is washed away in one weekend of "shut up and try."
I stumbled across a web site called The Fresh Loaf and followed the first lesson. I don't know why this was such a challenge for me, but I decided to make a loaf of bread. Perhaps the simplicity of the instructions, the fact that I wanted more than anything to bake, the fact that I needed to feel a victory, I can't say, but I mixed flour, salt, and yeast with water, and worked the dough by hand.
Confession time: I hate the feeling of dough clinging to my hands, clumps between my fingers, that sensation of stickiness drives me nuts. This may have something to do with my fear of baking.
I managed to get past the feeling of the wet dough (with the help of lots of flour) and created a smooth, satiny final product -- that didn't stick to my hands, much to my relief. It raised, I punched it down and shaped it, it raised again and I put it in an oven. It baked and I had bread.
That's it. "Golly, that's all there is to this?" I felt sort of stupid. Huh, that wasn't hard at all. So, I pulled out my bread baking books (I have a couple) and took a look at the first recipes.
I made the first recipe from Jim Lahey's My Bread, an artisan loaf that is simply made by mixing flour, yeast, salt, and water and letting it set for 18 hours. You then roughly shape the loaf and let it ferment a second time and drop it in a hot Dutch Oven or casserole dish and cook it at high heat for 30 minutes and then with the lid off until the loaf browns.
This loaf is amazing. The smell, the crumb, the taste, the texture and the crust are just something to behold. I was convinced to purchase this cookbook by a focaccia recipe in the local paper. I managed to make one (actually two; with first, the non-stick pan's "non-stick" coating flaked into the bread, ruining it) and I was impressed with the ease of it. He gave me the confidence to try a "real" bread and you can see the result.
I then followed the basic recipe from Ed Brown's The Tassajara Bread Book and this is the opposite of the "fire and forget" Jim Lahey recipe. You make a wet "sponge," let it sit, and then add oil, salt and more flour and then knead the dough, let it rise, then punch it down and let it rise again. You then split the dough into loaves, shape them and then let them rise once again in the bread pans. You finally bake it. This is the labor-intensive loaf that most people (especially me) fear. The true amount of time needed is considerably less than you would think, so the work is worth it and kneading the dough is fun.
I've much more to learn and a long way to go, but I'm having a blast and I've essentially conquered a fear or overcome a prejudice or basically improved myself in a non-destructive manner. Go, me! I had no idea that flour and/or yeast was an addictive substance...
Posted by brother yam at 2:41 AM
My hands are burning and I can’t wear my contacts. Brother Yam and I pickled jalapeno peppers yesterday. The peppers didn’t seem hot at the time….
Posted by Monster Gramma at 7:47 PM
I haven't been taking pictures of what I'm cooking in a long while because most of my cooking seems to take place after sunset. And so my pictures come out looking a little crappy, since I have a little point and shoot and photos look terrible when taken in unnatural lighting. I like to see the texture and the food come to life on screen. While I never reached the goal I had set for myself (silently), I was never as displeased with my photo taking skills as I have been lately.
Nevertheless, I felt that I had to document my endeavors tonight because of the very special gift I received recently. Mr. and Mrs. Yam who live all the way out in Minneapolis, MN sent me and Mr. Beany a little present in the mail. I generally hate all presents unless they're edible, and this present was most certainly edible. It was:
Mr. Yam wanted to know what I'd do with it. And for the longest time I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do with it. This present was so special, I didn't want to ruin it by...say...cooking it!
But I did. Tonight. I was feeling very Mexican-y. So, first we needed some starter courses. I made tacos. With corn tortillas (store bought) filled with crimson clover sprouts, cooked black beans (seasoned with TVP and "chicken" broth), home made salsa (made with heirloom tomatoes, cilantro, onions, salt), and a mixture of shredded hard goat cheese + blue cheese. Divine, is the only way I can describe the taco.
First I cooked the wild rice.
Then I made the stir fry: onions, lotso garlic, vegan chorizo (from a local latino grocery store), two red Antohi peppers, half a head of purple cabbage all stirred around in some olive oil. Toward the end, I added fresh lemon juice and a palm full of cilantro.
The picture doesn't look like much, but the veggies on top of the wild rice was absolutely delectable.
All veggies are from my Suzie's Farm CSA share: the best CSA in the universe.
Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Yam for such a wonderful present. I will have a California surprise for you soon.
reposted to The Middle Way.
Posted by Sam at 8:30 PM
Why is that when the temperature and humidity rises, I get the urge to cook and bake. I hate the heat; somehow standing over a hot stove or canning pots of boiling water makes it better.
So, last week’s heat brings me to tomato confit - tomatoes cooked in fat. Simple enough, but the results are amazing. I googled a bunch of tomato confit recipes. Some of them were kind of putsy, blanching the tomatoes first, deseeding the tomatoes. Me, I don’t care so much about it. I want to keep this as simple as possible. Why do tomatoes need to be deseeded? I have not gotten a good answer from everyone I’ve asked. It is a texture thing? Or a visual thing? Do the seeds react with the heat and become toxic?
I got some ripe tomatoes, a good handful of thyme, rosemary and basil from the garden. Turned the oven to 200°. In a sided jelly roll pan, I poured a some olive oil, sprinkled some kosher salt and pepper. Washed and chopped the herbs, sprinkled them into the oil. sliced a couple of garlic cloves, added them to the herb and oil mess in the jelly roll pan. Added a pinch of sugar. Cut the tomatoes into 1 inch chunks. The tomatoes went into the pan, cut side down. Put it all in the preheated oven turned on the oven fan. After an hour, I stirred the tomatoes. Every half hour after that, I opened the oven to let moisture escape. The tomatoes collapse and start to dehydrate. Juice from the tomatoes mingle with the herbs and olive oil. The color of the tomatoes deepen. About two and a half hours later, I pull them out of the oven. And when they are cooled, I jar them up and stick it in the fridge. The confit can last about 2 weeks in the fridge. I’m trying to freeze some, but am a little concerned that the tomatoes will totally disintegrate, which would be ok for sauces.
My house smells so good.
Posted by Monster Gramma at 9:25 PM
Ok this site has been quiet long enough.
Some know me as Susu. Some know me as Mrs. Yam. One five-year-old I met camping last year knows me as Monster Gramma.
It’s now August and it’s hot and humid. Summer is not my season. I hate being hot. I hate sweating. So, what am I doing today? Pickling, which entails standing over pots of boiling vinegar, water and spices. This is an activity that forces one to be hot and sweaty. It’s 85 degrees and I’m guessing a dew point of 70. Minnesota is just not pleasant this time of year.
The Good Brother Yam is really good about indulging my whims. This morning’s whim was getting up early to go to the farmer‘s market, just to see what vegetables looked good for pickling and then have three or four pots of boiling water going on the stove for a while. We don‘t have air conditioning. The house is going to be hot enough without adding more heat and humidity. Oh well. That‘s life and hopefully, the pickles will make it worth it. Foregoing breakfast and, more importantly, coffee, we head to the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market - the one on North Lyndale at 8 am. That seems to be the sweet spot for Sunday mornings. After the hardcore marketers and before the church people show up.
Maybe it’s not too late for teeny tiny cucumbers. Baby carrots would be good. I’m thinking of the mixed vegetable pickles that are made by just sitting on the counter. However, I do have a quest. I have okra pickles on the brain. I’ve never had a pickled okra before, but I have to make them. I’m not sure why. I was *really* hoping for little tiny okras. That market is pretty big, so I figured I’d find something to pickle. We did find beautiful little okras and long thin purple carrots from some of the Hmong farmers. We also picked up with some heirloom tomatoes (Green Moldovan and Vorlon), sweet corn, and a melon from the Gysland Brothers - Todd and Reid are crazy heirloom tomato growers. I’m guessing 70 or more different varieties. They also do red peppers. Those peppers are another post…
We forgot to get eggs, so we stopped at the Kingsfield Market to pick up some eggs and the Chef Shack was there. Brother Yam had a brisket taco and I had a black bean and sweet potato taco for breakfast. That alone was worth the stop.
We dropped off our goods at home and then wandered through the U of M Arboretum. Brother Yam took pictures of their vegetable gardens (we are already planning next year’s garden). By this time, we are both dripping with sweat and we are getting crabby because of the heat. So, we spent some time checking out the library and bookstore, for the air-conditioning as much as for the books. I need to find the book Self-Sufficient Gardener (or something like it, I’ve already forgotten the name) by John Seymour. Brother Yam found a book to help identify weeds. It’s too bad that isn’t a lending library. When we got home, I checked my canning books for recipes. Since I‘m pretty new to canning, I rely pretty heavily on recipes. My main go-tos are Bell Complete Book of Home Preserving edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine and The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Toff and Margaret Howard. That book is worth getting just for the strawberry jam recipe. I also refer to Stocking Up edited by the editors of Organic Gardening and Farming. I also check out Food In Jars website and more recently Punk Domestics website for ideas and inspiration.
While I was perusing my books for recipes, Brother Yam made us some cocktails. We had some left over cherries from making a cherry liqueur with sour cherries we picked in Door County last year. They were pretty boozy. He put them in a blender with some ice and lime juice and came up with a pretty refreshing beverage. It gave me the strength to face pots of boiling liquid on this horribly hot and humid day.
I found a straight-forward okra pickle recipe in the Home Preserving book.:
3 cups of water
3 cups of white vinegar
1/3 cup pickling salt
2 teaspoons of dill seed
3.5 lbs of small whole okra
4 cloves of garlic
2 hot red peppers - halved and seeded.
Prepare cans and lids. This makes about 4 pints.
In a large stainless steel sauce pan, combine water, vinegar, pickling salt and dill seeds. Bring to a boil until salt is dissolved. Reduce heat to keep hot until ready to use.
Pack okra into hot jars. Add a clove of garlic and ½ seeded pepper. (I did not seed my peppers and I used a whole pepper. I like spicy pickles) ladle hot pickling liquid into jar to cover okra, leaving 1.2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Add more liquid, if necessary. Wipe rims and place lids on the jars. Screw bands until resistance is met and it is finger-tip tight.
Place filled jars into canner. Make sure they are covered with water. Cover pot and bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. Remove lid and wait 5 minutes, remove jars, cool, listen for the ping (I added this step) and store.
I can hardly wait to try these. I’m thinking Bloody Marys.
I found a fun carrot pickle in the Stocking Up book:
2-3 bunches of carrots
2 cups of vinegar
1.5 cups of water
0.5 Tablespoons of whole cloves
0.5 Tablespoons of allspice
0.5 Tablespoons of mace
0.5 stick of cinnamon
0.5 cups of honey
Pare carrots and cut in strips that are the desired size and length of your canning jars, if possible. (the carrots I used were so small, I did not need to cut them). Boil in water until just heated through ( I didn‘t do this, as my carrots are so young). Pack hot carrots lengthwise in hot sterilized pint jars. Make a syrup of vinegar, water and spices. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add honey. Bring to a boil again. Pour over the carrots. There should be a ¼ inch headspace. Process pint jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
I used purple carrots and the color of the raw carrots is spectacular. I hope they retain the color. I wish I had Brother Yam take some pictures of these before I canned them. They’ll probably turn grey as a result of the processing.
While my pickles were boiling away in the water bath, I took a cup of Greek yogurt, added a little milk, some sugar, a splash of orange blossom water and mixed well and threw it in the freezer.
I hate being hot and sweaty. I'm going to take a shower.
Posted by Monster Gramma at 7:38 PM
The One True Crab Cake
This recipe is from former Maryland First Lady Mrs. Tawes's My Maryland Recipes. I consider it canonical, the only recipe you'll ever need.
I've had tarted-up, trendily seasoned, so-called crab cakes served to me by elitist chefs in the flyover states. But we East Coast lumpenproles know the blue crab's delicate flavor is easily overwhelmed by strong spices and funny sauces.
Crab cakes are poor people food! They are to be bound with mayonnaise and breaded with cracker crumbs the way God and Mrs. Tawes intended.
Mrs. Tawes’s Maryland Crab Cakes
(makes 8 to 10 cakes)
1 1-lb. can of back-fin lump crab meat, or 1 pound of claw crab meat, or a combination of 1/2 pound of claw meat and 1/2 pound of regular grade
2 Tbs. mayonnaise
1 Tb. Kraft horseradish mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
5 drops Tabasco
1 Tb. chopped parsley
fat for frying
Combine all ingredients except crumbs and fat and mix together lightly. Form into desired-size cakes. Do not pack firmly. Prepare cracker crumbs by rolling out saltine crackers into fine crumbs, then pat or roll lightly on the crab cake. Fry in 1 1/2 inches of hot fat in iron frying pan on both sides until a golden brown. Remove and drain on absorbent paper and serve immediately.
Posted by brother yam at 1:47 PM
Today was a good food day. Me Darlin' Mrs and I got up early to make it in time for a seat (two of about 10) at the Colossal Cafe. Sunny-side up eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast were transformed from simple morning staples to new heights. The eggs were right on, the bacon was cooked crisp with a touch of cayenne and black pepper, the hash browns were acutally hash browns, not hash tans or hash whites. The toast was awesome; home made bread that was freakin' grilled. Buttery, golden brown on one side and still warm and soft on the other, or as Mrs Yam said, it was toastvana, the best toast she's had in a long time. She's a toast junkie, so if she says this is good toast, it's good toast. This is an example of a simple meal prepared with such skill and grace that it transcends into a meal to remember.
Thusly fortified, I went to work at the liquor store. On my way out, I asked my boss, "I'm having steak tonight, what is something that I have to try?" Bryan, someone whom has never failed me, recommended a marvelous Cabernet Sauvignon by Ghost Pines. The subtle tannin loomed in shadows, never announcing its presence, but you are fully aware of it nonetheless. It tasted of blackberry and dark plum and sour cherry. There may have been other flavors, but I think I over-seasoned the surloin to catch any other notes.
Dinner consisted of the prime dry-aged surloins, cooked on a hot cast-iron skillet au poirve style (with unfortunately too much salt), carrots with ginger sauce (see recipe below) and green beans with mushrooms and a Balsamic vinegar reduction sauce. We also baked up a rye bread from the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day for our fresh loaf.
We cooked the steaks in a dry skillet at 450 degrees after the skillet had been in the over with the bread for about 20 minutes. Beforehand we made the carrots and ginger shown above:
- 2 large carrots peeled and cut into 1/8 inch disks
- 1 inch piece of peeled ginger diced finely
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
- 2 teaspoons of honey
- 1/4 cup water
Posted by brother yam at 11:16 PM
I'm not a vegetarian; I may not be a dedicated carnivore, but I will not deny myself meat. Dinner to me is quite a bit different than the slab of steak and an ignored vegetable that passes for fine dining for a good deal of my Midwestern neighbors. Typically, meat is more of a flavoring, an adjunct to the entire meal than the star. Curries, burritos, soups, stir fries, salads, etc. will all include meat but they are not typically the main focus of the recipe or meal.
I take the ingredients with which I cook seriously, I like organic and/or heirloom vegetables and fruits not because of some esoteric desire for the good of the planet, but because they generally taste better. They were grown with care from good stock and it shows up on the plate quite readily. The difference between the tomatoes I grow (as an example) and the sad, hard, tasteless tomatoes found in a typical grocery store is a difference that can be measured in orders of magnitude. And no, you're not going to find heirloom tomatoes now -- hence eating them when there plentiful. If you can't eat them fresh, it's time to learn to can and save the flavor until the next fresh batch ripens like our ancestors did.
But I'm not here to talk about tomatoes, but good, fresh dead animal. Flesh. The muscles and fat of once living and thriving beings. Being the carnivore we are. I believe veganism is an artificial construct of a modern society, a aberrant behavior that would not normally allow its followers to survive in the wild. It is possible to be vegetarian, if you are of the ovo-lact sect. To be a healthy human, you need the nutrients that are available from animals or animal products. Vitamin B12 is an example. You can get it from meats, milk, eggs and such, or you can get it from suppliments. If getting my nutritional needs is a choice between eating locally raised dairy and meats or from some pharmaceutical mystery plant in China, I know where I'm placing my bets...
I've ordered dry-aged, grass fed and grass finished beef from my rancher friend Brad Crabtree at Echo Lake Ranch. I've purchased from him before and I've never been unhappy with his products. He cares about his land, his animals and his livelihood. Considering the cost of dry-aged beef and what it could cost you (think of the price of steaks at Manny's downtown), Brad's meat is a steal and I'm perfectly happy to have a freezer full of it for the price of four dinners at the venerable steak joint. Granted, the cuts don't run over about 8 ounces, but who the hell can really eat a 25 ounce cut of meat (shut up, Chuck)?
More importantly than the dry-aging and the hippy farming is the fact that I know the rancher. I trust him and I know that what I'm ordering is the realy thing. There are no legalistic clauses such as "access to pasture." The sheep and cows live off of the land that Brad takes care of and that land takes care of Brad and the cows and sheep. This is real ranching without the need for fuzzy phrases; his love of what he does and the happiness of the animals under his care are testimonial enough to show the meaning of "organic" or "grassfed" or whatever name you need to use show that quality is will show through whatever language or frame or reference you choose.
There are plenty of health benefits of eating animals that lived as they always have. This great hunt that has developed for Omega-3 fats is silly, beef has all the Omega-3 you need. But not just any beef, but cattle that has grazed on grass. Cows don't eat corn and can't digest it. The CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) has taken a cow and placed it into an alien environment and it shows. These poor critters don't get excercise, fresh grass but are forced to stand around in a toxic mix of their own waste and mud, eat a corn mush full of vitamins and antibiotics (necessary due to standing around to the overcrowding and standing in their own filth). This makes it cheaper to grow cattle, but we are starting to see the effects of this economy scale and the hidden costs are staggering.
So, I fight against it in my own lonely little way. A handshake and a welcoming embrace from Brad and a couple of boxes of what was once a happy cow. Butchered carefully by people not under any pressure to process a certain number a day so there are no feces-flecked walls and wounded workers. It is more expensive, but the costs are more true to their real value. Perhaps it is more expensive, but in the end it is a real value. Grass-fed and grass-finished, prime, dry-aged beef for $6-$7 pound. Compare that to upwards of $25 a pound from the grocery store. The cattle live better, the grass grows better, Brad has a job he loves and I benefit from the happy chain. Win-win-win-win.
It's a deal I can live with, and so can others.
Posted by brother yam at 8:43 PM
We've been buying our milk from local dairies and the milk is the old-fashioned non-homogenized-cream-on-top-in-the-returnable-glass-bottle milk. This milk is noticeably richer in its mouth-feel and the flavor is an astounding leap from the cardboard carton you get from your supermarket. This milk is still alive, an almost fleshy liquid with substance and body.
As wonderful as this is, this, ah, aliveness comes at a cost -- the milk sours fairly quickly. It goes "bad" but it is not spoiled, it's just sour. The lactose (milk sugar) has been consumed by the wee beasties and has been turned into lactic acid. In other words, it has been fermented.
When it reaches this state, you can set it out on the counter until it begins to get "chunky," and then line a colander or sieve with cheese cloth, pour the glop in and save the forming curds by tying the corners of the cloth together to make a satchel and allow the whey to drain off. The results that are left in the cheese cloth is cottage cheese. You know what to do with that, right?
You could also take the sour milk and use it exactly as you would cultured buttermilk; you could make pancakes, bake cakes and doughnuts with it or use like I did and make biscuits. This is the recipe that I used:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup sour milk
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons cold lard (you can use any fat you like, but make sure that it's cold)
Mix the dry ingredients together. Put the cold shortening into the flour mix and then using a pastry knife, a pair of knives or your hands, mix the flour and fat until you get a grainy mixture and the fat is cut up to pea sized chunks. You don't want to overwork fat and melt it, you want it cold. Make a well in the center of the mix and add the sour milk and stir until you've combined the milk and flour into a sticky dough. Flour a work surface, a rolling pin and your hands well and take the dough and drop on your work surface. Work some flour into the dough by gently kneading until it gets a soft -- don't handle it too much. Roll it out to about a 1/2 inch in thickness and fold over on itself, turn it 90 degrees and roll it out until it's again 1/2 inch thick. Fold and repeat a couple more times. On the last time, fold it on itself and leave it. Now you can cut it with a biscuit cutter or I just square up the dough and cut six square biscuits to avoid waste.
Place biscuits on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until brown.
The bread in the background is also from today's baking -- more on that later. Let's just say that we've found a book that has changed the way I bake...
Posted by brother yam at 2:10 AM