Archive for the ‘Just messing around in the kitchen’ Category
I want to begin by thanking all the folks who have been reading this blog.
I have been posting 2 to 3 times a week for several months now but recently I took a position as Regional Director of Dining Services and it has curtailed some of my efforts. As I am new to the company I choose not to reveal it’s name. My role/goal is to establish a first rate Dining Services program at each of the Senior Dining Communities I am involved in. This has taken up a great deal of my time.
Recently we did a Mother’s Day Brunch and it was exceptional. There was Prime Rib, Chicken Marsala, fresh Asparagus with Hollandaise,Baby Carrots with Fresh Dill, as well as, an omelet bar, a cheesecake bar, a waffle bar and fresh fruit and pastries. I was thrilled that we put on an event on par with any in the area (and exceeding most).
I will be getting back to a regular posting as son as I am able. I hope you stay tuned in!
One of the most important things a kitchen when your “just messing Around in the kitchen” can have is a well stocked pantry. After all,having to shop for 20 different items before you even get started takes all the fun out of the effort, not to mention that it can also take a chunk out of you wallet. I try to be prepared to go in several directions when I’m in the kitchen. For Italian I always have staples like olive oil (extra virgin), Balsamic vinegar,Parmesan Cheese and pesto (home made). If I am feeling spicy and want to go south of the border I have Chili powder,olives,rice,beans and mole sauce,well, you get the idea!
I was making dinner and thinking of my daughter. She is still in Seoul, South Korea teaching English. Anyway, I had an English chuck roast and I thought about giving it a Korean twist. In the pantry I already had Sesame oil/seeds,garlic,green onion and sake and this was pretty much all I needed to make the marinade for the beef. I had all the makings for Bulgogi.
Traditionally this dish is made with short rib that is specially cut for this purpose (very good). In the past I have also used beef tenderloin (fabulous) but that’s not what I had. The trick to using the Chuck roast lay in slicing the beef very thinly across the grain. For this I had the perfect tool. I used my brand new food slicer. Once I had slice the beef it was time to marinate it.
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Maple syrup
1tablespoon pear or pineapple juice
2 tablespoons Sake
2 tablespoons Sesame oil
3 tablespoons Chopped green onion
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon ground sesame seed
Mix all ingredients, making sure to dissolve the brown sugar. Marinate the beef for at least 2 hours and not more that 4.
When my beef was ready to be cooked I got the BBQ going and made sure to oil the grates properly so the beef wouldn’t stick. I then grilled the beef very quickly. You don’t want to overcook this as the beef is very thin to start with.
Instead of Banchan I made a stir –fry of Spinach and bean sprouts that I seasoned with Sesame oil. It’s a very good combination.
While I try to not endorse any particular brands I will recommend Kadoya brand Sesame oil for your pantry. It is available in most Asian groceries. The right Sesame oil makes a big difference in cooking.
Since Maple syrup isn’t produced in Korea it really isn’t part of the marinade recipe. Usually honey is used but I didn’t have any so I used the maple syrup in my fridge.
“Namwi ddeoni deo keo boinda”
“A good start is important to any effort”
When my daughter was young one of the thing I use to love to do was do cooking demonstrations for her school class. Fortunately I had the support of the teacher and the school administration so every month or so I would come up with something I thought the kids would enjoy and off I would go to the classroom. I always made sure that what I did was something where the kids could get their hands dirty. We did things like make flour tortilla from scratch and turn then into quesadilla (everyone got to eat there own),we made pickles ( the kids cut the cucumbers with plastic knives and everyone got to take some home to mom and dad), and my all time favorite making bread (and butter) from scratch. We started with water, and flour. I explained how what made bread rise was yeast and that yeast was everywhere (it was just invisible). We then mixed our starter (flour and water) in a jar and set it on the window sill. Each day for 2 weeks a different student got to put add a tablespoon of flour to feed the starter. In a few days it began bubbling. At the end of 2 weeks I went back and made a dough from the starter and we let it rise. I also brought some cream and we put it in a jar and the kids passed it around,shaking it hard until it separated into butter and buttermilk. At the end of the day we baked the bread and everyone got a slice of fresh, hot, buttered bread.
I‘ve made Sourdough bread since then and even used the same starter for about a year. Recently I revisited this project. Today I an baking my first loaves in quite some time. Even though it is only March I was still able to get a starter going. I didn’t really measure as there are some many variable that technique seemed more important than recipe.
I mixed a bit of flour and water together in a jar until it was a consistency between crepe batter and pancake batter. Each day I added a little more water and flour to “feed” the starter. On some of the milder days I set my starter outside to take advantage of the yeast that comes with the warmer temperatures. After several days my starter became all bubbly and I knew it was ready for the next step.
I put about 3 cups of bread flour into a bowl and added a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of sugar and my starter. I then mixed it into a dough and kneaded it until it was smooth and elastic. I checked to see if it would pass the windowpane test. This is where you see if you dough stretches thin enough to almost see through. If you can do this without it tearing your dough is ready. I formed a ball and set my dough (covered) in a warm place to rise. I let it rise for about and hour before placing into my refrigerator overnight.
The next day I gently deflated my ball of dough,formed it into a ball again,place it on a cutting board that I coated with cornmeal and set it in a warm place for a second rise. This took about 2 hours after which it was time to bake. I preheated my oven to 350 degrees and carefully slid my dough onto my baking stone. After 25 minute I checked my loaf. I gave it a tap to see if it sounded hollow. It did but the loaf was still a little heavy so I gave it 5 minute more after which it was done. Pleas not that when I took it out of the oven the first time the loaf got an egg white and water glaze and a sprinkle of Kosher salt. If you didn’t want to use Kosher salt you could use poppy seed or sesame seeds.
This being a “Just Messing around in the Kitchen” effort I just used my experience and instincts to guide me. For more formal information on wild yeast starter and baking with them I would like to suggest Wild Yeast which is a blog dedicated to baking with wild yeast. Of course if you want to be “Just Messing around in the Kitchen” the results can be very rewarding too!
Something I love to find in the supermarket is cooked crawfish. Now I have had the frozen tails and found the kind of rubbery but what make the whole cooked crawfish special is that, in addition to the meat being better, you have the makings for a great stock. By boiling the crawfish shells you get a richness and complexity you can’t get from shrimp shells. What’s missing in the shrimp shells is the head and all the fatty goodness that goes with it. Also the Crawfish have been seasoned before cooking and that comes through in the stock. I have used the crawfish stock to make gumbo in the past but wanted something different this time. I decided on Bisque.
I went to work peeling the Crawfish tails which is a fairly tedious venture but well worth it. Afterwards I put all the shells in a pot of water and set them to boiling. In about 30 minutes the entire kitchen smell of stock (a heavenly smell to me). Not being content with just boiling I decided to use my hand mixer to grind up the shells to get extra flavor. Most folks don’t know it but this the the key to getting all the flavor you can out of a shellfish stock. I used to work in a restaurant that ground up the lobster shell for the lobster bisque and I can tell you the process works. The next step was to strain my stock through a fine mesh. I had some cheesecloth left over from making Ricotta cheese and this worked fine. Next I wanted to thicken my stock so I brought it to a boil again and thickened it with a Burre Manie. This is a paste of flour and butter used to thicken liquids. This worked fine and I got the richness of the butter as a bonus. I then added 1/2 pt. of heavy whipping cream. I didn’t have any Sherry for my Bisque so I decided to omit it. In the end I added my Crawfish tails. I didn’t really measure much while making this Bisque/Soup. Still it turned out really good.
Next time you spot cooked Crawfish in the store don’t pass it by. It is well worth the work to get something exceptional from, these little mudbugs (as they are called down South).
Sometimes the best creations are born out of necessity. Last Week I had occasion to make a dish that excited me enough to write about it. I was in the local supermarket and came across an item that would become part of my menu plan for the week. What I found was an English Roast on sale. It is unfortunate that at times this cut of meat can be somewhat pricy so when I find it on sale I always stock up. What made this special is how I chose to prepare it. I currently have a daughter in Seoul, South Korea and she had sent me some Taeyangcho Gochujang (Hot pepper paste). This is available in Korean specialty markets here in Detroit and across the U.S. I had been experimenting with this paste in several recipes and liked it but hadn’t found ,what I considered, the best way to use it.For a while I had been intrigued by some of the Korean simmered dishes I had been looking at online and decided to make a “Korean” Pot Roast. This turned out to be one of the easiest dishes I had ever made and it was fabulous.
Korean Pot Roast
1 English Roast (2# approx) or other cut for Pot Roast
1 Onion Chopped roughly
1 Carrot sliced in coins
1 tablespoon Garlic
1/4 cup Soy Sauce (Low sodium)
2 cups of water
1/2 tube (30 GM) Taeyangcho Gochujang (Hot pepper paste)
Sear beef for 4 minutes on each side
Add remaining ingredients
Bring to a boil
reduce to a simmer and simmer for 2 hours or until tender.
Serve with white rice
Garnish with fresh basil and cashews
The Hot Pepper paste has just enough heat and depth of flavor to make this a truly great dish.