Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Last week we buried my beloved 96 year old grandmother. Of course we all talked of the many joys she brought to our lives-and food, not surprisingly, was one of the biggest. She was best known for her cream pies and her noodles. On the day ofter her service, my aunt Shirley, my cousin Kevin, and I made chicken and noodles for the family. Aunt Shirley was responsible for mixing up the noodle dough, Kevin rolled and cut the noodles, and I stewed the chickens and made the gravy. Like most women of her time, she had no recipes, she would just eye-ball the ingredients-a pinch of this and a fistfull of that and everything would just come together.

Since aunt Shirley was making the dough, she used aunt Betty's recipe (that would be aunt Betty Crocker).

3 eggs, whipped

2 cups flour (approximate)


Mix the ingredients thoroughly and let the dough rest, roll out the dough using plenty of flour and turning the dough often until the sheet of dough is very thin. Cut the dough into thin strips, and let the noodles dry-aunt Shirley lets her noodles dry overnight, but we didn't have that much time.

I stewed 4 chickens, picked the meat and let the broth simmer and concentrate. Drop the noodles into the boiling broth, the excess flour clinging to the noodles thickens the broth as the noodles cook and swell slightly, add the picked chicken to the pot and season with salt and pepper. We always serve chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes-this seems a bit starchy, but it's the way we love them.

I'm including a picture of my uncles, her son and son-in-law while they snoopervised our work to make sure they turned out like grandma's.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mussels with Black Garlic
Black garlic seems to be the "IT" ingredient of the moment. It was originally a food supplement used in Japan and Korea where it goes through a fermentation process which vastly increases its antioxident values. It has an extremely mild flavor-even more tamed than roasted garlic-really more of an after taste of sweet garlic. It is slightly sweet and has an under flavor of licorice, which I intensified by adding the fennel bulb and tarragon. For the past couple of years it has been showing up in the trendy restaurants of San Francisco and spreading from there. Of course, once a trend hits the Mid-West it is usually Passe on the coasts already.
2 pounds mussels, cleaned and scrubbed
1/4 cup minced shallot
1 head of black garlic cloves, sliced
1 fresh fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
Fresh tarragon, chopped
Fresh parsley, chopped
Choose a pan that is large enough to hold the mussels whitout crowding them. It should be wide and shallow, but deep enough so the mussels can open without obstruction when you place a lid on the pan.
Heat the butter and oil and saute the shallot and garlic until they are soft. Add the wine and cream, salt and pepper. Add the mussels and scatter the herbs over them. Place the lid on the pan and bring the liquid to the boil. Cook only until the mussels open-no longer, or the mussels will shrink and become tough.
Serve with lots of crusty bread to sop up the juices.

Pork Loin Stuffed with Ham, Swiss Cheese, Saurkraut, and Apples
1 boneless pork loin, about 4 pounds, butterflied and pounded
1/4 pound ham, thinly sliced
1/4 pound Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cup saurkraut
1 apple, peeled and diced
1 pound carrots
1 pound potatoes
1 pound turnips
1/2 pound pearl onions
1 cup white wine
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
Sprigs of fresh Rosemary and Thyme
Lay out the butterflied and pounded loin with the cut side up. Cover the surface with a layer of the thinly sliced ham, follow with a layer of the thinly sliced cheese. Spread the saurkraut evenly over the cheese layer and scatter the diced apple over the kraut.
Roll up the roast jelly roll style and tie with butcher's twine.
Peel and blanch the vegetables, separately, place the vegetables in the bottom of a roasting pan and toss with some melted butter and season with salt and pepper, Rosemary, and Thyme.
Brown the roast in a hot skillet with a bit of oil over medium high heat on all sides. Place the roast on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan. Deglaze the skillet the pork was browned in with 1 cup white wine-something fruity like Reisling is good, add 1 1/2 cup chicken stock and bring the mixture to the boil. Pour this over the roast and place in a preheated 350 degree oven and roast for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until the internal temperature registers 160 degrees.
Let the roast rest at least 10 minutes before carving.
Make a sauce with the pan juices and serve with the roasted vegetables

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Heavenly Hots
These are without a doubt the lightest, most tender, ehtereal pancakes south of St Peter's Gate. Amanda Hesser's Recipe Redux column in this Sunday's NY Times features this dish. Her descriptive adjectives for these cakes are "feathery, creamy, and tangy". The cakes are the creation of chef Bob Burnham-I could find no information on him other than what I read in the Times article. He once worked for John Hudspeth who opened Bridge Creek Cafe in Berkley in the 1980's. Hudspeth's friend, Marion Cunningham included the recipe in her "The Breakfast Book", also published in the 1980's.
Here is the recipe as printed in today's Times (and also in 1987), and here is my picture of what they looked like when I made them this morning. I paired them with some fresh blackberries and a very light blackberry syrup. Because of the ratio of flour to eggs and sour cream, they have a texture of custard or pudding. Be warned they are difficult to flip because the batter is so loose.
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 Tablespoons cake flour
2 cups sour cream
3 Tablespoons sugar
Solid vegetable shortening for greasing your griddle.
Whisk all the ingredients together except the shortening. Chill the batter overnight (I chilled it only for one hour).
Grease your griddle with the shortening. Whisk the batter again and drop the batter 1 tablespoon at a time onto the griddle. The cakes should spread out into circles no larger than 3 inches.
When bubbles begin to surface on the cake, flip the cake and cook briefly on the second side, the interior of the cake should be somewhat creamy. Serve with light syrup.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Coq au Vin

This is a hopelessly frumpy and old-fashioned dish that never fails to charm and seduce everyone, when care is taken in the preparation. It can be a glorious chicken stew, but often it becomes a throw everything in a pot and cook for an hour, or something out of the crock pot to which chicken and wine were added. The literal translation is, of course, cock with wine, and is supposed to be made with roosters and red wine. Mushrooms and pearl onions are the traditional vegetabe garnishes, I added peas and carrots-probably a heresy of some sort, but delicious none -the-less.

Since Julia was my first French teacher-(food, wine, culture, language, etc.) I must reference her "The French Chef Cookbook" as my touchstone. I'm pretty sure she would not like adding peas and carrots to the dish, in fact she recommends peas as an additional side dish to the stew, but definitely not part of it.

To me the most important technique in Julia's recipe is to cook each component of the stew separately and then simmering them together briefly just before serving.

4 rashers of bacon
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 chickens, cut up into 8 pieces each
1/2 cup brandy
4 cups red wine
4 cups beef stock
2 Tblespoons of tomato paste
Bouquet Garnie -I used parsley, bay, and thyme
1 1/2 pounds pearl onions
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 pound peas-I used frozen
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
Salt and pepper as needed
Render the bacon in a Dutch Oven, reserve the bacon and add oil to the pan.
Slowly brown the chicken, do not crowd the pan, do this in several batches.
When all the chicken is browned, put them back in the Dutch Oven, add the brandy and flame and reduce til almost totally evaporated.
Add the wine, stock, tomato paste, and bouquet garnie to the pot and bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over very slow heat until the chicken is cooked. Or place it in a preheated oven for 1/2 hour or 45 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
While the chicken cooks, prepare the vegetables. Each vegetable must be prepared separately. I start with a little butter in a saute pan, add the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and saute over very low heat until the vegetables begin to soften and sizzle, just slightly browning them. Add a little stock as needed to prevent too much browning. Reserve the vegetables until the chicken is finished cooking and the sauce is thickened.
When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot and hold, covered with foil to keep it warm.
Make a Buerre Manie with the flour and butter and thicken the wine-stock mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning, and reduce slightly until the flavor and thickness are correct.
Add the chicken, bacon, and vegetables back to the pot and simmer very briefly before serving-about 10 minutes-remove the bouquet garnie before serving. Really good with potatoes, rice or noodles.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Year's Dinner
New Years at Gallagher's was a great success. We had two seatings and both were almost totally sold out-the early seating on New Years is sometimes hard to sell-everyone wants to eat late on that evening.
We started with a platter of hors d'ouevres
Dates stuffed with Chorizo and wrapped with bacon
Muffuletta Bruschetta with olive salad
Deviled eggs with salmon caviar
Corn and crab fritters with slaw and barbecue sauce
Japanese beef skewers with wasabi and pickled ginger
Next was the lobster tail with brown butter served with red and gold beet salad.
The entree was Beef Wellington with Sweedish Lingonberry sauce.
Dessert was Bananas Foster, which the waiters made tableside on little rolling carts with portable burners.