Thursday, July 19, 2012

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche the way I like it

This was one of the first things I learned to do really well in the kitchen.  Every time I make quiche, all those around me will descend like wolves on my glorious creation.  So many are intimidated by this recipe, but once you've made quiche over and over again as I have, it is such a beautiful thing to know you can have truly amazing quiche whenever you fancy it.  This here is my favorite quiche ever.  It is your quintessential quiche with leeks, gruyere, and bacon.  What more could one possible ask for?  I know.  A glass of sparking  French wine to go with.  Ahhhhhh.

My Mom's Pie Crust

5 ounces of flour
3 ounces of butter
3/4 ounce crisco
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 TBS sugar
2-3 TBS ice water

The Quiche

Lots of bacon
1 leek, very finely chopped (the whole thing, I do not spare a single part of the leek, it's all good)
1 TBS clarified butter
a splash of white wine
Salt and Pepper (to season the leeks)
1/2 ounce Gruyere, grated
2 ounces Emmentaler, grated
3/4 Cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
Salt, Pepper, and Nutmeg (to season the eggs)

Warm your carbon steel wok on medium over a gas flame.  Chop up your bacon into small bite size strips cutting against the stripes, making pieces about 1/4 wide and the wide of the bacon long.  Saute this bacon still it releases a good amount of fat, and has gone limp.  Now remove all the bacon from the wok.  Bring the wok to a steady medium high-ish heat.  Now working in a stage of 3 batches add the bacon back into the wok, allowing each batch to crisp and brown but not to burn.  Watch this the whole time. Remove each batch before adding the next one.  Have the crisp bacon plate be lined with paper towels.

Warm the butter in your cleaned out wok.  Once melted, add your chopped leek.  Season with a little salt, and a little pepper or nutmeg if you fancy.  Pop the lid on and allow this to sweat for a bit over low heat.  Now remove the lid, and splash in a bit of white wine.  Turn up the heat to medium and allow the  leeks to cook till very soft.  Set aside.

Take your quiche baking dish and oil it well.  This will help the crust to brown in the oven and to not stick as well.  Allow the crust to become quite cool in the fridge.  You can now roll out the whole pastry, or you can take bits of it, squish it about in the pan till the whole thing is covered in pastry.  Pop this into the freezer for about 4 to 10 minutes.  We just want it really cold, especially if you're like me and you just man handled the freekin' crust.  Now starting with Cheese put in alternating layers of cheese, bacon, and leeks. Now make the custard filling.  Whisk three eggs thoroughly and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg as though you were going to scramble the eggs.  Now pour in the cream while whisking.  Slowly pour this over the filling.  There should be a good 1/4 inch gap between the filling and the top of the pie crust. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until everything is golden brown.  Allow this to sit for 10 minutes before serving.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lettuce Wraps - east meets southeast Asian style

This is not in anyway a traditional Korean recipe. The Marinade itself is adapted from a Korean recipe, and I do believe in using the more superior Korean ingredients.  Korean sesame oil, soy sauce, sesame seeds, etc.  This is just how I like my lettuce wraps.  Korean grilled chicken, a mixture of Korean and S.E. Asian toppings and sauces. When it comes to Lettuce wraps it is totally personal.  I'd say, don't bother listening to someone else's method.  Just say, what kinda meat sounds good to you, what sorta veggies do you crave?  What dipping sauces turn your lettuce wrap into crack on veg?  Just make it the way you want it.

Korean Grilled Chicken

¼ Cup Korean Organic Soy Sauce 
2 TBS White Sugar
1 TBS Soju
1 TBS Honey
4 TBS Freshly Squeezed Pineapple Juice (Not from Concentrate), You can get this at Trader Joes
1 TBS of Korean Sesame Oil
1 TBS Korean Roasted Sesame Seeds
A good dash of Extra Bold Black Pepper
4 fat cloves of garlic
2 stalks of green onion
1 Inch of Ginger

First to make the marinade. Take a good cavernous vessel and proceed to add in the following ingredients:
The Soy Sauce
The Sugar
The Soju. That’s rice wine to you.
My Local Oregon Raw Honey. Mmmmmm.
The Freshly Squeezed Pineapple Juice. And don’t let me catch you using that canned stuff, and definitely not the stuff from concentrate! Bad. Very Bad.
And now for my ultimate favorite. The Korean Toasted Sesame Oil. I would bath in this. I would moisturize my whole body in this. Amber liquid gold this is. ‘Tis more beautiful than all the rubies and emeralds in the world. Although, I wouldn’t mind being given an emerald. I’d by very okay with that.
The Roasted Korean Sesame Seeds. Don’t just use any kind. Not Bulk. Not McCormick’s. It has to be Korean, it has to say roasted. This stuff is better than salt on your food. Yum.
Now take your beautifully green spring onions and fresh stinky garlic and
Mince ‘em up real fine.
Add 'em to your marinade.
Now my specially box of freshly rough ground Extra Bold black pepper. I highly recommend heading on over to Penzey’s to get a big 4 ounce bag of this stuff. It is the most aromatic, delicious black pepper I have ever cooked with. The smell, the scent, truly intoxicating. Add a big old fat pinch to your marinade.
And then add in you minced ginger, cuz you’ve been a total silly and forgot all about it. Mmm. ginger. The Lord really knew what he was doing when he invented this gorgeous rhizome.
Now Take your chicken thighs and prick them all over with a fork. I like to think this helps the marinade penetrate my meat as quickly as possible. It seems to help, so I’ve always done it.
Now bring these two together for a match made in heaven. The chicken and marinade that is.  Leave to marinate for as long as possible. Although, I’ve had excellent results in letting this marinate for the length of time it takes my coals to be ready. Now to the grill.
How beautiful a sight is that. Grill these baby's over a direct heat while watching closing. I use a tiny little guy, so I only need to fill up my chimney coal starter about half way. Make sure to create a spot for indirect heat as well. This will allow any chicken that is turning a little too dark on the outside to continue cooking on the inside.
Pop that lid on whilst the meat is cooking away. Make sure all holes are open to allow your fire to breath and the smoke to get all nice nice with the meat inside. Cook the chicken in total about 10 - 15 minutes, or until firm-ish to the touch and the juices run clear.  
The Feast. I like to put just about everything but the kitchen sink in my lettuce wraps. Once the chicken gets sliced real thin after resting a wee bit I like to pull out all my toppings. My suggested toppings (as seen in the picture) are:

Pre-shredded cabbage
My homemade Quick pickled carrots:
Julienne the carrots, toss in a sprinkle of salt, leave to drain 15 minutes, rinse and squeeze, add enough sugar to coat, and enough vinegar to balance out the sweet, taste as you go)
Thinly sliced red onion 
Basil leaves 
Sliced red bell pepper 
Grilled mushrooms, garlic, bell peppers, and green onions (toss in peanut oil, salt and pepper, grill or stir fry till they look yummy to you)
Choice of red leaf, iceberg, or butter lettuce (whatever you like, really)
My Homemade Vietnamese dipping sauce: 
Juice of a lime 
3 TBS white sugar 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce
2 TBS fish sauce 
2 TBS white distilled vinegar
My homemade Korean garlic sauce: 
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 green onion, minced
salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 Cup Korean toasted sesame oil
My homemade Korean hot sauce: I can't remember how I made this. It contains the following:
hot pepper paste, sesame oil, soy sauce, sesame seeds, white distilled vinegar, minced garlic, black pepper, honey, mirin, sugar, white miso, etc. Just too much. It's real good though. I recommend starting with a basic Korean Lettuce wrap dipping sauce you find on line.

My gorgeous creation before I devour it.
Pretty much just put whatever you want into your freekin' lettuce wrap, drizzle on all three sauces.  And stuff your pie hole with this veggie engorged lettuce wrap from heaven.  Sooooo good.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ree's Asian Beef Stir Fry

Do you ever go to a website and look at the same recipe over and over again and then finally break down and get that really expensive ingredient that it calls for just so you can cook the recipe. No? Then I guess it's just me. If you haven't heard of the pioneer woman then you don't know what you're missing. She is the author of the most visually delectable cooking blog on the net; oh, and she's married to this really sexy cattle rancher. Because of this her beef connections are enviable. For the rest of us when we go to the butcher its a matter of deciding whether or not it is worthwhile to purchase the flank steak at 16 bucks a pound. Lately I've decided that it is worthwhile because of how much I'm saving on eating really good beef in a restaurant.

This recipe here is one of Ree's, a sweet spicy gingery stir fry brightened up with sweet snow peas. I altered the recipe a little to match my tastes as well as my intense attraction to fresh ginger. You will notice the huge increase in ginger, Ree used 1 tbs minced ginger for `1.5 pounds of flank steak, I used 2 tbs for 3/4 of a pound. I added some extra complex sweetness with the addition of honey and pineapple juice and different spices, namely cayenne and black pepper. For a deep savory Asian flavor I also added a little Korean sesame oil. And since I prefer sugar snaps to snow peas I used those instead. So really, now this recipe has become my own. When I see a recipe I'm not content to just follow the directions. I usually look at a recipe at decide that it's just a suggestion not a command.

.71 pounds of flank steak, slice on the diagonal against the grain, just like Ree said to do
1/4 cup of organic korean soy sauce
1.5 tbs cream sherry
2 tbs fresh ginger, minced
1 heaping tbs brown sugar
A good swirly squirt of honey
1 tbs fresh (not from concentrate) pineapple juice
A sprinkle of black pepper and cayenne
1 tbs cornstarch
1 -2 tsp of sesame oil (Korean)
A good pinch of red pepper flakes, crushed between your fingers
3 spring onions, cut ear horse style
4 ounces of sugar snap peas, strings removed

Add the ginger, soy sauce, sherry, sugar, honey, pineapple juice, black pepper, cayenne, and cornstarch to a medium sized bowl. Whisk till cornstarch is dissolved. Add in the beef. Add a good couple squirts of sesame oil on your beef. Mix all together. Leave a good half hour.

Heat a cast iron pan (cuz we're making stir fries Ree's way, not mine) with 2 tbs peanut oil on medium heat. Leave till wisps of smoke start to rise. Add in the sugar snap peas and fry till golden but still crisp. Remove and set aside.

Add in beef without the marinade. Turn of to medium high. Stir fry till the juice cook down and stick to the beef.

Add in the green onions and stir fry a little more.

Add in the sugar snap peas and the remaining marinade and the pepper flakes. Fry till a lovely color and the sauce in sticky. Serve with warm rice.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

French Pizza Night "Tart D'Alsace"

Doesn't this look just yummy scrumbos?  My favorite frozen grocery store pizza is the Tart D'Alsace from Trader Joes.  So Naturally I came to the decision that I could make one just as good.  In actual reality I made it even better.  Instead of ordinary onions I made up sweet caramelized Spanish onions, and instead of ham I used salty smokey heavenly bacon, and instead of a Swiss cheese I used a nutty crumbly rich melting British cheddar.  This was so good it was physically painful to have to share it.  Not sure if I did really.

Tart D'Alsace

Scraps from short crust pastry
Greek Yogurt
1/4 - 1/3 cup honey baked ham, diced
3 TBS of spanish onion, diced roughly
1 pat of butter
A pinch of salt
Coastal Cheddar
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven with the baking sheet in the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Soften up the chilled dough by "kneeding" for a bit till it becomes soft and pliable. Shape into a disc that is 8 inches in diameter. Dust with flour. Roll out into a circle by rolling in one direction and then turning 90 degrees and rolling in the same direction.Now turn in the edges on all sides to create a "crust" for the pizza. Now spread on enough greek yogurt to cover the pizza thinly. sprinkle over the ham. Pop this into the fridge to let the dough chill up again. While the pie is chilling lightly fry the onion in the butter till turning golden, and almost a little black in spots but not burning. Season with a pinch of salt. Take the pizza out and sprinkle over the onions, then take a vegetable peeler and make thin shavings of cheese. make enough to put on your pizza. lay this on your pizza. Sprinkle over freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 9 minutes directly on the preheated baking sheet in the oven. Should be golden brown and flaky, the yogurt should have thickened, and the cheese melted. Eat right away, doesn't really need to cool.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Toys

There is a beautiful four letter word that is bandied about amongst foodies and cheffies alike. That word is Shun - it is synonymous with precision, elegance, and strength. Could I sound more like a horrible infomercial than I already do? No . . probably not.
Yet these beauties are prized possessions of those who know the true transcendent experience of using one of these lovely pieces of cutlery. For Christmas my sister gave me one of the greatest gifts an aspiring chef can receive - a Shun Santoku . Santoku loosely translates into 'Three Virtues' referring to the three tasks that the knife performs - slicing, dicing, and mincing.
I for one just like to finally feel that I have arrived in acquiring the proper knife which reflects the label my sister bestowed upon me - a knife wielding ninja. I know it isn't reality but I love to fancy myself a character within a culinary Asian drama where in my skills with the knife are able to leave an entire audience stunned. Oh, and while we're add it lets just make a 5' 8" beauty who's hair looks gorgeous even after cooking all day in a hot kitchen.

Now if you'll excuse me . . . I here my basket of onions calling me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sausage Rolls - "We can can get heavenly breakfast foraging in the larder, then a real breakfast when we get in." - Kay Harker

Box of Delights . . . Perhaps the paragon of British children's fantasy novels. I'm sure many will prefer The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, but none can compare to the poetic chaotic beauty and magical goose pimples I experience when reading the Box of Delights. I am not posting here a food item specifically referred to in the book, however as fan of the book I am also a fan of the BBC 80's production despite it lacking many a magic scene due to a low budget. In one of my favorite scenes Kay Harker and his friend Peter sneak into a larder to have a secret breakfast; in this scene it would appear they are eating sausage rolls, jam tarts, and lemonade. However in the book they eat ham on bread with a blob of butter, mince pies, and cream. Here I provide sausage rolls since they are my favorite thing that the Brits ever invented. I just about subsisted on them when vacationing in the U.K. with my family. That and curry.

Sausage Rolls

The Sausage Meat

1 Pound of good quality unseasoned pork sausage meat
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp tsp allspice
A sprinkle of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp mixed herbs (any kind you like, sometimes if I'm feeling lazy I just use poultry seasoning)

Pop everything into a bowl and mix it all up good with your hands till well combined. Leave in the fridge for a good while to let the flavors fully infuse into the sausage meat. This is a good spicy sausage meat that you can use for anything british - Pork pies, scotch eggs, sausage rolls, what have you.

The Rough Puff Pastry

8 ounce of flour
1/2 tsp of salt
6 ounces of butter
About 6 TBS of ice water
The juice of 1/4 of a Lime
or Lemon

Cut up the butter into small blocks, like the size of a dice, maybe slightly larger. Pop these onto plate and leave in the fridge to chill up a bit. Stir the flour and salt together into a chilled
bowl. Pop in the butter. Toss with the flour Add a bit of the water and all of the lime/lemon juice mixing with your hands as you do. Keeping adding and working in the ice water till it turns into a soft pliable
dough. Pop onto a very lightly floured board. Marble is ideal, but not necessary. Roll out into a long rectangle always just rolling back then lifting the pin up and rolling forward. Once rolled out mark the pastry into thirds from top to bottom. Fold the bottom away from you making sure to keep a pocket of
air within and pr
ess it down along the second mark line. Bring the top third down tow
ards you and leaving again a pocket of air and press lightly along the bottom of the pastry. Turn 90 degrees and roll into a long rectangle again. Repeat the folding and rolling at least once or twice more. Ending at the folding up and down part and putting the block of pastry into the fridge for a good 15 minute rest. Repeat this whole thing including the resting time twice more. Then one more time and let rest as long as you can, but 30 minutes is just fine. Now it is ready to roll out and use for wha
tever you like. Makes a good lid for a meat pie (just make sure the filling is cooled down).

Constructing the sausage rolls:

Roll the prepared pastry out as thin as you can. A long wide rectangle is best. Now take out the prepared sausage and shape into longish fat snakes. Lay this sausage at the edge of the rectangle of pastry and then start to roll until all the sausage is completely covered with the pastry.

Get them all rolled up and sealed nicely with a bit of milk. Now take these snakes and slice them into roughly two inches in length. Pop these onto a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and lay this into a large freeze that can hold the baking sheet. Once frozen pop into a large plastic bag and leave in the freezer. Take out and thaw as needed. Create slanted slashes atop the rolls. Put into a 425 degree oven for roughly 15 minutes. Longer of the sausage is very fatty.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Curry for One

Sometimes you just really need a curry. Okay, I always need a curry. So when you're at home just pottering about on your own and need a quick curry without all the fuss I recommend the following recipe. Although between you and me I don't even use recipes anymore for my everyday curries. You just pop in an onion with a bit of ginger paste, garlic paste optional, pop in the spices (basic curry spices being cumin, coriander, turmeric, chili powder,). Simmer in any sauce you like, tomatoes, yogurt, coconut milk, cream, a bit of water and tomato paste. Finish with garam masala. leave for a few minutes. done. Oh, and don't forget the salt. Spruce up with whatever toppings you like: cilantro, chutney, raita, toasted nuts, whatever.

A Very Simple Curry

1 shallot, finely minced
A heaping tsp of ginger paste
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp coriander
A sprinkle of cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili paste
2 chicken tenderloin pieces, sliced into bite sized
1/2 cup to 1 cup greek god's yogurt
salt to taste
Water as needed
finishing spices: 1/8 tsp each of garam masala and cumin powder

warm a cast iron pan on medium with a little oil in it. turn to low and add in the shallots. saute your shallot till soft and translucent. Add ginger paste and saute till a little golden. Add in the spices and mix about with the onions and ginger letting it getting fragrant. Add in the chicken and chili paste and stir about till chicken is cooked a bit and turning a nice color and smelling really good. Add in some warm water scrapping up the browned bits. let it simmer a bit. Keep adding in some yogurt and stirring about cooking up till it looks nice and saucy. Season with salt to taste. Let it simmer on a medium low till bubbling about the edges and the chicken is nice and tender with the lid on. once done, turn off the heat stir in the garam masala and cumin powder. Pop the lid on and leave a good 3-5 minutes to let the spices to meld and fuse with the sauce.

serve with toasted almond flakes.