Category: Recipes

A Port ‘Demi-Glace’

Port Demi-Glace 1

A ‘Demi-Glace’ is a very rich sauce that is itself used as a base for other sauces in traditional classic French cuisine. At one time, it would be expected to be one of the essential skills for a chef to master but it seems to be far less commonly employed than was once the case. Indeed, back in the day, when I had quite a few jobs in the food service industry, I can recall only one chef actually making his own. A few kitchens used commercially prepared concentrates in lieu of the real thing, and the rest seemed unconscious of its existence.

Part of the reason for the decline in usage is, I am sure, that the traditional preparation is so dauntingly complex as to be intimidating, and actually requires such time and expense to make it impractical for the home cook. The basic form is the result of blending reduced brown stock with an Espagnole Sauce (which is itself based on brown sauce), and then further reducing it to a thick ‘half-glaze’. The result can then be used as the basis for many classic French sauces such as Bordelaise, or Sauce Robert, or else added to stews or ad hoc sauces for a major flavor infusion.

Anyway, the ponderous and complicated process of Escoffier’s day is now frequently supplanted by methods that dispense with the traditional Espagnole sauce and either thicken the basic stock with a light starch, or else rely entirely on reduction to concentrate and thicken. Today’s post is an experiment I tried in my own kitchen using the latter process, and which produced a pretty decent result …. Continue reading “A Port ‘Demi-Glace’”

Deep-Fried Baby Octopus

Deep-Fried Baby Octopus II 1

In my recent ‘Foodstuff’ post featuring Baby Octopus, I did a quick little dish to try them out in which I deep-fried them whole with a seasoned coating. Today’s recipe is also a deep-fried appetizer style dish but I changed the approach very slightly: The last time, I fried the octopuses whole (except for the heads) and I used a fairly heavily seasoned cornstarch to coat them. This time, I decided to try marinating in order to influence the flavor (and perhaps the texture), and I tried using non-glutinous rice flour rather than cornstarch… Continue reading “Deep-Fried Baby Octopus”

Spicy Shrimp Sauce

Spicy Shrimp Sauce 1

For years, I have been making a shrimp curry dish that incorporates Indian spices, along with fermented shrimp paste, in a tomato based sauce. The sauce is something I have always made on an ‘ad hoc’ basis, but I have long wanted to try a ‘make-ahead’ sauce that could be used to quickly put together a nice Shrimp curry, or even be used as a sauce with other meats or vegetables. I finally got around to doing it just a few days ago… Continue reading “Spicy Shrimp Sauce”

Marrowbone Soup

Marrowbone Soup 1

A while ago, I introduced you to Beef Marrow Bones and included a short recipe illustrating an appetizer in which the marrow form certain can be enjoyed as a delicacy by itself. I also mentioned, in that post, that the primary use for beef marrow bones is generally for stocks. As such, as most of my readers will immediately recognize, they are equally useful in the preparation of soups.

One could certainly braise large number  beef marrow bones in a suitable liquid, along with other ingredients, and make a great soup that way alone, but, while the result would be very hearty indeed, it would also be necessarily, well… ‘rustic’ in appearance (not that there is anything wrong with that, of course)

Anyway, it is possible to make a soup that has a slightly more ‘elegant’ presentation, and which also allows one to enjoy the pleasure of extracting the marrow separately (rather than have it dissolve in the stock). I did this for the soup you see pictured above by using some pre-roasted marrow bones as follows:

First, I roasted 8 marrow bones and then used five them to make a stock by simmering them at very low temperature (to prevent cloudiness). I also added some vegetable trimmings and a little white wine. I then blanched some bok choy, and grilled slices of mushroom and set these aside. For the final cooking … I sautéed onion in a pot, added my remaining three marrow bones and simmered them in the strained stock for a half-hour or so. Finally, I added the bok choy and mushrooms, seasoned with salt and pepper, then simmered for a just a little while longer and served…

 

Pasta Salsa Cruda

Pasta Salsa Cruda 1

‘Salsa Cruda’, in Italian cookery, is simply a term that means ‘raw sauce’. As such, in can, in theory, be composed of just about anything, but the basic version is usually a blend of chopped tomatoes in olive oil with garlic and basil. You can of course, jazz it up with whatever herbs or raw vegetables you like and, for today’s recipe, I have used several additional ingredients beyond the basic.

Mostly, a salsa cruda is used as a pasta sauce, as I have done here, but it could also be prepared as a topping for Bruschetta, a side for cold cuts or raw vegetables, or even as a ‘relish’ to use in sandwiches… Continue reading “Pasta Salsa Cruda”

Shrimp Salad Boats

Shrimp Salad Boats 1

My typical way of serving Shrimp Cocktail (not that I do very often), is to lay tiny cocktail shrimp on a bed of shredded lettuce and top it with a creamy mayonnaise based cocktail sauce enhanced with horseradish and chili sauce. Today, I have departed from my usual style and combined the shrimp and sauce, then served it in hollowed out tomato halves. For either version, frozen cocktail shrimp are best but you can, as I have done here, use the canned variety as a decent substitute… Continue reading “Shrimp Salad Boats”

Scallop Bhaji

Scallop Bhaji 1

A little over years ago, I posted a little appetizer recipe for something I called Scallop Clusters. It was a Japanese inspired dish featuring bits of scallop deep-fried Kakiage style and I like it very much. For today’s post, I have used that appetizer as a starting point and created something along the lines of the Indian style fritter called a ‘Bhaji’. The recipe isn’t an actual Indian recipe but seasonings are definitely Indian in spirit … Continue reading “Scallop Bhaji”

Octopus Stew

Octopus Stew 1

I had in mind to make myself an octopus stew and, in reviewing all sorts of recipes, I saw a remarkable commonality in theme in dishes hailing from Greece, Malta, Spain, Italy and Portugal. The basic dish, is octopus stew in a tomato base, generally with wine. Olives, and sometimes capers, are frequent additions and many incorporate potatoes. Today’s preparation is an amalgam of many dishes I saw… Continue reading “Octopus Stew”