Archive for April, 2006

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Country Bread

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

County Bread.jpgMy mother made this wonderful molasses bread for Janet and me. I couldn’t get enough. The molasses adds a lot of flavor, but doesn’t make the bread sweet. My mom said it should have risen more. Personally, I like a dense bread. It has more flavor per bite, and it feels hearty when eating it.

After covering the warm fresh bread in butter, I was hesitant to try it any other way. It would probably have toasted quite well. I didn’t want to take the risk.

I’ll need to adapt the recipe to bake it in the oven when we return next year. She made it in her bread machine.

Transition Post

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

IMG_2533.jpgToday we move from documenting our recipes to documenting our travels, from weekly menus to schedules. Our pots and pans are in boxes, our fridge is empty, our bags are packed. We will experience the culinary adventures of road-side stands and back alley restaurants. Our blog won’t be limited to epicurian delights and nerdly musings, but neither will it contain long rants about uncomfortable trains.

We will We will not
Document unique events Document transportation
Describe street corners and alleys Describe cities
Write about interesting people Bitch about rude people
Post at least once a week Post once a month
Take ourselves lightly Write about our evolving self-awareness
Make it interesting for those who read it Dump all our problems on our friends
Have a photo for every post Write essays
Post a lot about food Post only about food

The last year has been the best of my life. I can’t remember being more happy, but my Buddhist readings tell me not be attached. There are even more exciting and fulfilling experiences to come.

Feels Like Summer

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006

Raspberry LemonadeIn the midst of packing, we took a little break to drink Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade. I made the syrup the night before, so it was quick to mix a glass on a short break. The weather outside wasn’t quite warm enough to warrant such a treat, but we were working hard.

I strained the raspberries in a jelly bag, which unfortunately resulted in red spray across my pants and shirt. Hopefully it will wash out.

We’ll probably mix in some Vodka when we finish off the remaining syrup.

Lobster Trio

Friday, April 14th, 2006

My father arrived in town with fresh lobster, straight off the boat. Janet and I insisted on Flambeed Pan-Roasted Lobster from America’s Test Kitchen, which we’ve made three times. Rather than steaming the lobster for 20 minutes, it’s cooked in the pan for 3 minutes, under the broiler for 2 minutes and then flambeed. The meat is cooked, but very delicate. Steamed lobster is tough by comparison.

Of course, you require strong constitution to kill and chop up live lobsters. We were a little hestitant the first time, but now it’s not a big event–unless someone is watching. I just drive the knife through the lobster’s head and then cut the entire body in two. The tail is removed and the claws broken for easy access later. My brother took a video of the process, which I hope to post. Unfortunately we forgot to take a picture of the final dish.

The tamale was saved and then mixed with butter and tarragon for the sauce. It’s incredibly good.


We also had a couple of extra lobsters to use up. My favorite way to eat lobster growing up was on toast with a simple white sauce. It’s a economical way to use leftover lobster. The sauce is mostly milk thickened with flour. Some butter was used to cook the flour. Salt and pepper finished it off.

IMG_2551.jpgFor breakfast, I filled a herb omlette with lobster and green onions. It was ok. Nothing too exciting compared to the previous two.

A Few Feet of Flames

Monday, April 10th, 2006

Bananas Foster Here’s another favorite from America’s Test Kitchen, Bananas Foster. It’s a New Orleans classic.

Wikipedia says:

The dish was created in 1951 by Paul Blangé at Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was named for Richard Foster, a friend of Owen Brennan’s and New Orleans Crime Commission chairman.

America’s Test Kitchen makes the recipe easy, but they don’t call for any banana liqueur. I’m not sure if that’s because it’s not required or because it doesn’t meet their mandate of easy at home. Buying an entire bottle of liqueur for one dessert might be silly. However, we’ve now made this enough times that we could have been justified in doing so.

If you are the type to keep bananas and vanilla ice cream in the house, this is a perfect dessert. It’s quick and uses everyday ingredients. This was also the recipe that drove us to cube our unsalted butter. When we buy a block we cut it into tablespoon-sized pieces and put them in the freezer. They are perfect for dishes like this.

The flambé is also quite exciting. The fire reaches up to the microwave, but hasn’t caused any damage.

UPDATE: I just noticed this is our 100th post. That deserves a glass of bubbly.

Beefing Up

Saturday, April 8th, 2006

IMG_2513.jpgIn anticipation of a near future with little or no access to beef, we have been consuming an extrodinary amount lately. It’s hard to know whether or not we’ll be eating alot of beef in Asia, because I understand it’s pretty expensive, but I figure we’re also pretty spoiled with the beef we get here in Canadian-Texas. How can other beef compare? Undoubtedly, Kobe beef is better but it’s also most definitely beyond our price range.
And so, as we count down the days until departure for Taiwan, we make more and more of our favourites, one of which is bbq’d steak. Lamentably, we don’t have a bbq and, for this meal, we put the heat to a bison rib eye, which I guess technically doesn’t count as beef. It was a small steak, this bison, and prepared very simply with just a little ground Montreal steak spice rub and fried, but holy smokes, every bite was dreamy. Whew- I am gonna MISS good steak.

With it, we had some roasted potatoes and I dragged out an old recipe I have for braised endive that I got from a cooking class I took ages ago, called Quick French Cooking. Ironic that braised veggies are considered “quick” (obviously, the cooks of this course have yet to be subjected to microwaveable kd) but they were a nice, creamy compliment to the bison.

Everyman’s Roast Chicken

Thursday, April 6th, 2006

Roast ChickenAmerica’s Test Chicken had an episode on how to roast chicken. They do their usual testing of temperatures, pans and tricks—cooking 30 birds or more to produce perfectly crispy skin, moist breasts and fully cooked thighs. Most recipes recommend a frying chicken (young and small) rather than a roasting chicken (older and larger) because they cook more evenly. Our butcher had a two-for-one special on roasting chickens, so that’s what we had. It needed to cook much longer than our recipe suggested.

We usually try to do something a little fancier than everyman’s roasted chicken. I believe I made lemon roasted chicken the last time because of a Howard Stern show. When I was working in Seattle all the guys would listen to Howard Stern on the way to work. It was horribly funny most days. In one of the most famous episodes he was going on and on for several minutes about how much he enjoyed the chicken his girlfriend cooked and how turned on he was afterward. A woman calls in and says that the recipe is from a recent issue of Vanity Fair. It’s called Engagement Chicken and it supposedly makes men swoon if not propose. Howard calls his girlfriend and confronts her live on the show. It was hilarious.

Our plain old roast chicken was accompanied by roasted potatoes and steamed carrots with ginger. We just mixed the carrots with butter and grated ginger after steaming. I convinced Janet to buy the four dollar bag of small multi-colored potatoes. The purple ones are purple all the way through and have a nice sweetness. We also made some gravy.

We used the leftover chicken to make hot chicken sandwiches, which is one of my childhood favorites.

Raising Braising

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

Honey and Vinegar Braised Short Ribs with SpinachOur latest braising wasn’t very different from our osso buco or lamb shank recipes—carrots, onions, celery, garlic, red wine and browned meat. However, a few simple additions made a world of difference for Honey and Vinegar Braised Short Ribs with Spinach. Red wine vinegar provided brightness. The caramelized honey and the port provided a sweet depth. The recipe also forgoes tomatoes for a lot of red wine.

We found a Canadian merlot at the Superstore for $6.36. I’m sure we would have been hungover the next day if we had drank it all instead of pouring half into the pot. It didn’t taste too bad, but neither did it taste like a merlot. The tannins and sulfites were very high and a white film was just visible on the surface.

We also discovered that the last 30 minutes in the oven make a big difference. The recipe stated 2 to 2.5 hours in the oven. I’m glad we didn’t rush. The meat was very tender. The next time we make veal shanks or lamb shanks we’ll use the same recipe.

On the side was Horseradish Mash Potatoes. Jan winged that one, but it was similar to this recipe. The recipe also called for the ribs to be served on spinach quickly sautéed with butter. We wouldn’t change a thing–except make more.

Miracle Three

Monday, April 3rd, 2006

Apple TartWe finally got around to posting the third miracle of the grocery store, puff pastry. You may remember wonton wrappers and phyllo as the other two. Puff Pastry Apple Tarts Glazed With Honey may not be a world class tart tatin, but it is a simple, tasty treat. There are only 5 ingredients—apples, pastry, butter, sugar and honey. The hardest part is remembering to take the pastry out of the freezer. We once served this with leftover marscarpone, which was an excellent substitution for vanilla ice cream.

The Sauternes, which the recipe recommends, is a French dessert wine. It’s not as sweet or as high in alchohol as a sherry or an ice wine, nor is the flavour as intense. In weight and flavour, it’s between regular white bordeux and an ice wine. We found a half bottle at the Superstore Liquor store for $20.

The combination of the apples and honey with the golden raisin flavour of the Sauternes is quite striking. It’s high on my list of best pairing I’ve ever had. Both had a similar level of sweetness, and they strengthened the caramel and fruit flavours in the other. I find a liqueur or ice wine is often too strong to compliment a dessert. Wine can be over powered by the sweetness. Sauternes is a pleasant compromise.