Today’s post is really just the result of me playing around with a number of different pickling recipes from both Chinese and Japanese cuisine. In many cucumber pickles, small ‘dill-pickle’ sized ‘cukes’ are used, and the pickling is by way of lactic acid fermentation for at least part of the process. Here, I am using large, seedless, English cucumbers and I am ‘quick-pickling’ using rice vinegar as the agent, and soy sauce, ginger, sesame seeds and rice wine for seasoning… Continue reading “Soy-Pickled Cucumber”
I love lamb chops …
Typically, I just grill a few up and serve them with some mashed spud and a couple of other veggies, and, of course, a bit of mint sauce or mint jelly. As such, I generally think of lamb chops as a main course sort of thing but, for today’s post, I tried an appetizer type offering along the lines of a Spanish ‘Tapas’ … Continue reading “Lamb Chop Tapas”
Today’s simple little recipe is one I derived from a common Japanese way of dressing cold greens (notably spinach). The dressing in question is made by toasting sesame seeds then grinding them to a paste along with a little sugar and mirin, sake and soy sauce. The result is called ‘Spinach Gomae’ (if using Spinach) and, while I like the dressing generally, I also find that it can have a bit of a bitter after taste.
I decided to try something that resulted in the same sweet/sesame flavors, but avoided any bitterness and, accordingly settled on Hummus as a milder (if not very Japanese) base for the dressing. I also incorporated a little light miso for depth, and then included a rich Japanese Sesame oil for the proper sesame punch. For today’s dish, I am using Broccolini rather than spinach to make a nice little appetizer salad…
- 2 cups pre-blanched Broccolini, trimmed of thick stems;
- 3 Tbsp. Hummus;
- 1 tsp. Light (white) Miso;
- 1 tsp. Lemon Juice;
- 1 Tbsp. Dark Sesame Oil;
- 1 tsp. Sugar;
- 1 – 2 Tbsp. Mirin;
- Sesame Seeds for garnish.
Assembly is super simple … First, blend together all the ingredients except the Broccolini and sesame seeds and mix to a smooth paste. Allow this to sit for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
When you are ready, add the dressing to the Broccolini and mix. The idea here is not to drench, or drown the greens in the dressing, but rather just add enough to coat the pieces with sauce. Arrange the greens attractively on individual serving plates and sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish. Serve…
When I introduced Broccolini to you in a ‘Foodstuffs’ post a couple of winters ago, I didn’t use it in a recipe immediately, but I did show you how to go about blanching it for subsequent use in other dishes.
Some weeks back, I was blanching a fairly large amount with a view to making a few different things and I had a little bit leftover that I put to use in the simple salad you see pictured above. It is a bit of an amalgam of a few different salads I have seen but, in the main, it is Greek in spirit and very easy to put together. Read on for the recipe…. Continue reading “Broccolini Salad”
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’”
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”
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”
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…
Marrow, the rich, fatty substance in the center of certain animal bones, has long been used as a food by humans. It is very nutritious, and thus has been used for eminently practical reasons, but it has also, at various times, and in various cuisines, been regarded as something of a delicacy.
Chiefly, one finds bones being used in the preparation of hearty stocks, and occasionally extracted and eaten as sort of a ‘side benefit’ in certain dishes, but, for a long time, the idea of marrow being a treat in and of itself has been a bit dormant in the west. This, however, has been changing in recent years, and the appetizer of roast marrow bones you see posted above, and for which a recipe will follow, is a common representation of the trend … Continue reading “Foodstuff: Beef Marrow Bones”
‘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”