Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ category

Pierogis with sauerkraut or cheese

September 3, 2020

If you are trying to limit carbs and/or fat, read no further. These little guys are irresistible and you always have room for one more! Because the dough in this recipe is made with sour cream instead of water or milk, it is extra rich and tasty. They freeze beautifully, too. I give the sauerkraut recipe first and the cheese variation follows.

For the dough:

  • 2-1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Put the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk together. Add the remaining ingredients and, using the dough hook, mix on low for a few minutes until a smooth dough forms. If it seems too dry or wet, add small bits of milk or flour as needed. Turn out onto a floured countertop and knead by hand to form a smooth ball. Cover and let sit while you prepare the filling.

For the filling:

  • 1 lb fresh sauerkraut or one 15oz can of sauerkraut
  • 2 russet (baking) potatoes
  • 1 TB butter
  • Salt and pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks. Cook in simmering water until completely cooked, then drain and return to the pan. Add the butter and mash with a hand masher or use a ricer.

While the potatoes cook, drain the kraut and put in a bowl of fresh water. Swish around and drain again. Repeat the rinsing and draining one more time. A handful at a time, squeeze out extra moisture. Put on a cutting board and take a few cuts thru it with a knife (to avoid long strands). Add to the mashed potatoes and mix well. Correct seasoning.

For cheese and potato filling: Replace the kraut with 1-1/2 c sharp cheddar cut into small cubes. Be sure the potatoes are fully cooled before adding the cheese.

Assembly: Roll the dough out 1/8 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter, drinking glass, or empty tin can to cut 3 inch circles. Place 1 TB filling in the center of each circle and fold over, pressing the edges to seal. Set on a wax or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Form excess dough into a ball and roll out again to cut more circles.

To freeze, set the baking sheet in the freezer, uncovered. When the pierogi are frozen solid, transfer to a zipper bag for storage.

Cooking: Drop pierogi (fresh or frozen) into gently boiling water, being careful not to crowd them. Cook for 5 minutes (6 if frozen) and remove to a plate to drain. Using a nonstick pan, saute over medium heat in a bit of butter and oil until the bottom is lightly browned, then flip and brown the other side. Serve immediately.

Beer batter for frying fish

July 1, 2020

I was trying for the traditional English “fish ‘n’ chips” style here. Can be used with any firm, white-fleshed fish such as cod, haddock, mahi, etc. This will coat 2 to 2-1/2 lbs of fish. Great for fried onion rings, too.

1 c flour
¼ c cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
½ TB salt
½ tsp black pepper
Optional seasoning (see below)
1 egg
1 bottle of beer, no need to use something fancy

Seasoning ideas (use one):

  • 1 TB Old Bay seasoning (my favorite)
  • 1 TB paprika
  • ½ TB garlic powder
  • ½ TB chili powder
  • 1 tsp dry mustard

Thoroughly mix all the dry ingredients. Stir in the egg. Add about ¾ of the beer and whisk to get a smooth, thin batter. Add more beer or flour as needed to get the right consistency, like thin pancake batter. Let sit for 20 min before coating the fish. Dip the fish, let excess drip off, then drop the fish into your 365o oil. Fry until golden brown all over, then remove to a rack to drain. Serve as soon as possible.

Caramelized onions

April 27, 2020

This is a very useful and tasty ingredient to keep on hand. It freezes perfectly well and can be used in so many ways–in omelets, on pizza, in salads, a topping for steaks and burgers, etc. It’s easy to make although you must be attentive to get good results. The long slow cooking completely removes the hard onion taste and results in a slightly salty, slightly sweet relish with plenty of umami. These freeze perfectly well.

The cooking process reduces the volume by quite a bit, as the photos show. From 2 qts raw onion expect about 1-1/2 c caramelized onions. You’ll need a heavy-bottomed 12 inch skillet with a cover. Allow about 45 minutes for the cooking.

2 quarts yellow or white onions peeled and sliced into thin half-rings
1/4 c butter, olive oil, or a combination
1/2 c water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Put all ingredients in the skillet and bring to a moderate simmer. Cover and cook, stirring every few minutes, until most of the water is gone. Uncover, reduce the heat, and continue to cook. Regulate the heat–it will depend on your stove–to maintain a very gentle simmer. The water will soon be gone. Continue a very slow cooking action, stirring about every 5 minutes. The onions will continue to reduce and start to slowly turn brown. This is the danger zone–too-high heat or not enough stirring and the onions will burn, ruining them. Cook until the desired level of brownness is achieved. The photo shows a medium brown but you can cook a bit longer for a deeper brown with more intense flavor.

Chicken gravy without a chicken

March 4, 2020

When I roast a chicken, I really  like to have gravy with it. But you won’t have the carcass to make stock until the chicken’s been eaten, and in my experience there are never enough pan drippings for good gravy. There’s no need to resort to the jarred stuff, here’s how to make your own before you cook the chicken. I use wings for this because, weight for weight, they have more skin, and they are usually cheaper than other cuts. You can finish this recipe in a slow cooker, on the stove top, or in a pressure cooker.

2 to 2-1/2 lbs whole or cut up chicken wings (about 12 wings)

Put the wings in a single layer in a roasting pan and pop into a 450° oven. Roast undisturbed until the wings have turned a lovely dark golden brown. Remove the wings to your stock pot, don’t worry if some skin sticks to the roasting pan.

If more fat has accumulated in the roasting pan than you want, pour it off. Put the roasting pan over low heat and add 2 c water. Bring to a gentle simmer while using a wooden spoon to scrape up all the lovely bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour this liquid into the stock pot.

1 large carrot in big chunks. No need to peel if the carrot is clean.
1 celery rib in big chunks
1/2 a medium (baseball size) onion cut in 2 pieces. No need to peel if the onion is clean.
2 halved garlic cloves, unpeeled (optional)
1/2 tsp rubbed sage OR 1/2 tsp dried thyme OR 2 bay leaves (optional)
6 whole peppercorns
Big pinch of salt

Put all the above in your stock pot and add water to cover by about an inch. Cook as follows:

  • Pressure cooker: Cook for 1 hour once the cooker has reached pressure. Let pressure release on its own for 15 min then release the remaining pressure manually.
  • Stovetop: Bring almost to a boil and then cook, partially covered, at a gentle simmer for 4 hours.
  • Slow cooker: Cook on the high setting for 10-12 hours.

Use a spider or slotted spoon to remove most of the solids. You can pick the meat off the bones for your dog or cat if you wish, but otherwise discard–99% of the flavor has been cooked out. Strain the liquid thru a fine-meshed strainer. If there’s more fat than you want, use a fat separator to remove it.

This recipe makes 2 c of gravy. You can scale it up or down as needed. Leftover stock can be frozen almost indefinitely. If you have saved some of the chicken fat, you can use it in place of the butter. For a cream gravy, replace 1/4 c of the stock with half and half.

2 TB butter
3 TB all-purpose flour
2 c stock

Melt 2 TB butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the flour and stir over medium-low heat until completely combined. Add 1/4 c stock and stir until you have a smooth paste–the mixture should be gently bubbling through all this. Continue adding stock in 1/4 c increments, stirring each time until completely smooth. A small whisk is ideal for this. Once you have added 1 c of stock, add the rest all at once. Stir and simmer until completely smooth and thickened. Taste for salt and correct if needed.

Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory cabbage pancakes)

October 20, 2019

Okonomiyaki is, in essence, just a fancy, savory cabbage pancake. In Japan it’s available in many regional variations—you’ll hear about Hiroshima okonomiyaki, Tokyo okonomiyaki, and so on. This relatively simple version should, I guess, be called Okayama okonomiyaki because that’s where my wife’s cousin lives (it’s her recipe). It is served with okonomiyaki sauce and traditionally eaten with hashi (Japanese word for chopsticks) and a small metal spatula for cutting. And, of course, white rice and a selection of oshinko (Japanese pickles)! Our approach is to put a large electric skillet on the table and cook as we go along, but you can cook in the kitchen and keep warm in the oven.


1 c low protein flour such as White Lily or cake flour (not self-rising).
1 c water
½ lb small peeled shrimp, thinly sliced pork chop, chicken breast, or a combination
3 c thinly sliced (as for coleslaw) freshest green cabbage
1 egg
½ c bean sprouts
½ c slivered scallions

Mix the flour and water, making sure there are no lumps. Beat in the egg. Mix the cabbage, sprouts, scallions, and shrimp/meat in a large bowl. Add the flour slurry and mix well.

Heat your skillet to medium-high and add some vegetable oil, just a thin layer. When the oil is hot, add the cabbage mixture in about 1 c dollops and use a large spatula to flatten each into a pancake about 3/4 inch thick. Cook until the bottom is lightly browned, then flip. Continue until cooked thru, but not mushy, and remove to a plate. Continue with the remaining cabbage mixture, adding more oil to the pan as needed. Serve hot with the accompaniments mentioned above.

Applesauce

December 29, 2016

Making applesauce used to be a chore, what with all the peeling and coring. Turns out all that work is unneeded if you have a food mill, a device that uses a rotating blade to press food thru a perforated disk. And the results are better, too, because the skin adds flavor to the sauce.

foodmill

You can use pretty much any apples here, although my preference is for apples on the tart side such as Granny Smith and pink lady. A mix of apples is best.

All you need do is wash the apples, remove any stickers, and cut in half. Place in a large, heavy pot with 1/2 inch of water on the bottom. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring now and then, until completely soft. Taste and add a bit of sugar if you like. Put thru the mill using a relatively fine disk – the seeds and skins stay behind. That’s it! Freezes perfectly well and can also be canned using traditional methods.

Denba zuke (daikon pickle)

October 25, 2016

The US was not the only country to send people of Japanese ancestry to concentration camps during World War II. Canada was just as bad. In one camp, the residents, who missed their traditional tsukamono (Japanese pickles), and could not get the required ingredients to make them, came up with this delicious substitute. It is called Denba Zuke (zuke = pickle) because the camp was near the town of New Denver in British Columbia (Denba = Denver).

denbazuke

This is a distinctive pickle because it uses daikon radish, which while not “hot” is still definitely a radish. It is a sweet/sour pickle that goes beautifully with many Japanese, Korean, and Chinese dishes.

4 medium daikon radishes, leaves removed
sugar
white vinegar
salt
turmeric

Peel the radishes and cut into rounds 1/4 inch thick. For fatter radishes you may want to halve lengthwise and cut into half-moons.

Estimate the amount of liquid that would be required to cover the sliced radishes. Make the pickling liquid as follows:

1 part salt (e.g., 1/2 c)
1 part white vinegar (e.g., 1/2 c)
4 parts sugar (e.g. 2 c)
Ground turmeric, 1/4 tsp per cup of sugar

Combine in a bowl and stir for a few minutes. The sugar will not dissolve completely, that’s OK. Put the sliced daikon in a bowl and pour the sugar slurry over. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours, stirring now and then. The water drawn from the radish will complete dissolving the salt and sugar. Pack pickles and juice into clean jars and keep in fridge for up to a month.

Macaroni and cheese

November 30, 2014

Forget those boxed mixes with the mystery yellow powder, and put away your Velveeta. This is real mac and cheese, a bit more work, but well worth it.

1/2 pound cavatappi (preferred) or elbow macaroni (see note below)
3 TB butter
3 TB flour
2 tsp powdered mustard (Coleman’s preferred)
2-1/2 c milk, warmed
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp paprika (preferred) or a couple of dashes of hot sauce
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp, good quality cheddar cheese, grated or diced
Salt and pepper to taste

The topping:

1c panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
2 TB butter

Cook the pasta al dente and drain. Rinse with cold water, drain again, and set aside.

In a 2 qt saucepan, melt the 3 TB butter and add the flour and mustard powder. Stir over medium heat for a few minutes until completely blended with no lumps. Do not let the flour brown. Stir in the milk, onion, paprika/hot sauce, and bay leaves. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add a healthy grinding of black pepper. Beat the egg and stir it in rapidly so that it does not set before mixed. Add 3/4 of the cheese and stir, over low heat, until it is all incorporated. Remove from heat; taste for salt and add some more if needed. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the pasta and pour into a greased casserole dish. Distribute the remaining cheese on top.

Melt the 2 TB butter and stir in the panko. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole.

Bake at 350 f for 45 minutes or until the top is starting to brown and the casserole is bubbling gently. Let cool for 10 minutes then serve.

Note: I think of cavatappi as elbow macaroni that went to finishing school. They are a bit longer, and sort of spiral in shape, and the outside is ridged, better to hold sauces and the like. De Cecco is one brand that is widely available.

Your own ketchup

July 23, 2014

Did you know that ketchup (or catsup to some) originally referred to any of a variety of table sauces made from items as diverse as mushrooms, oysters, and walnuts? It apparently originated in the far east where, in present-day Malaysia it was called kecap (pronounced kaychap). It was brought back to Europe and the American colonies by English explorers. Today, of course, ketchup pretty much always refers to a sweet/sour tomato sauce that is consumed by the lake-full on French fries, hamburgers, hot dogs, and what have you. And guess what? You do not have to limit yourself to the store-bought kind.

A lot of people give me a puzzled look when I suggest home-made ketchup – why bother when you can get perfectly good ketchup in the store? For one thing, you can make it additive free (you don’t really think that commercial ketchup is that red naturally, do you?). For another, you can tweak the recipe to get just what you want – less salty, more tartness, and so on. My version gets a subtle but delicious difference from the use of Thai fish sauce. This recipe makes about 3 cups. Can be frozen.

Ketchup-2

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 red sweet (bell) pepper, coarsely chopped
2 TB tomato paste
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1-28 oz can whole or diced tomatoes
1/2 c light brown sugar
1/3 c cider vinegar
1/2 tsp powdered mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp each powdered allspice, cinnamon, clove, bay and leaf (see note below)
1 TB Thai fish sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Note: If you lack the powdered version of any of these, tie the whole spices in cheesecloth and add to the pot. Be sure to remove before blending!

In a 2 quart saucepan, sauté the onion and pepper in a little canola or other oil over medium heat until soft – don’t let them brown. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the paste darkens a bit. Add the tomatoes with their liquid along with all other ingredients. Simmer for about an hour, stirring once in a while, until thickened. Allow to cool for half an hour and transfer to a blender. Zap until completely smooth. At this time you can sample the ketchup and adjust the taste if needed. You can also add a little water if it’s too thick or simmer for a while if too thin.

 

Mixed vegetable “slaw” pickle

July 5, 2013

This is a simple “refrigerator” pickle – in other words, no need to pack in jars and process in a canner. It is very flexible and can use a wide variety of vegetables that you may have on hand. It works well with veggies that are a bit past their prime, too. Cabbage, carrots, celery, cukes, jicama, red and green peppers,  onion – be creative! The batch in the photo used cabbage, carrots, red bell pepper, and Vidalia onion. This pickle has many uses, as a side dish, on sandwiches and burgers, eat with cheese and bread – very versatile.

I have seen versions of this recipe where the pickling liquid is allowed to cool before being added to the jars. That works perfectly well, but I find that adding the liquid while it is still hot gives the veggies a very slight cooking. They are still crispy, to be sure, but I prefer the texture. You can always try both ways.

Food-2

About 2 quarts finely julienned mixed vegetables.
2 TB kosher salt
1/4c white sugar
1 c cider vinegar
1 c water
2 TB whole mustard seeds, yellow or black
1 TB whole black peppercorns

Put the veg in a bowl and mix with 1 TB of the salt. Let sit for half an hour or more. This wilts the veggies slightly, making the packing into jars easier. Pack firmly into pint jars to within an inch of the top – you’ll probably get about 3 pints.

Put the remaining salt and all other ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and ladle into the jars while still hot. Make sure the mustard seeds and peppercorns are distributed among all jars. Use a wooden spoon or a chopstick to make sure air bubbles are not trapped in the veggies and that the liquid completely covers the contents. Screw on the lids, let cool, and pop into the fridge. They will be ready the next day and will last at least a month.


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