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.