Friday, 17 January 2020

Beet & Cucumber Salad with Horseradish-Caraway Dressing

Horseradish with beets is classic, and also with cucumbers which also go really well with beets. As does caraway. How have I not put them all together before? Anyway, here they are with some lettuce which fits in with the crowd very well.

Winter salads! They can be done. And for once, I managed something decorative that was not a big nuisance to eat. I'm slow but I get there.

4 to 6 servings
about 1 hour to cook the beets
20 minutes prep time for the salad

Beet & Cucumber Salad with Horseradish-Caraway Dressing

Cook the Beets:
250 grams (1/2 pound; 3 medium) beets
1 tablespoon sunflower OR olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Wash and wrap the beets in foil, and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until just tender, or wash the beets and put them in a pot with plenty of water to cover them, and boil them for 45 minutes to an hour, until just tender.

Let them cool enough to handle, then peel them and grate them. Toss them with the oil and vinegar, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and keep refrigerated until you make the salad, up to 24 hours later.

Make the Dressing:
1/2 teaspoon caraway seed, crushed
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (light is fine)
2 tablespoons sour cream OR yogurt
1 to 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

Crush the caraway seed and mix it in a small bowl or container with the remaining ingredients; best to do this a bit in advance of assembling the salad to allow the flavours to blend. Horseradish is very much at your discretion, depending on how much you like it and how strong yours is.

Finish the Salad:
1 small onion, red or pink for preference
1/2 bunch greenhouse lettuce
3 or 4 greenhouse mini cucumbers

Peel and slice the onion thinly. Put it in a strainer and sprinkle it with salt. Let it drain while you assemble the rest of the salad. 

Wash and dry the lettuce. For best presentation, cut off the tips of the leaves and arrange them around the outside of a shallow serving bowl. Chop the remaining lettuce. Wash, trim and slice the cucumbers.

Rinse the onions and drain them very well. Mix them with the lettuce and spread them in the middle of the salad bowl. Arrange the beets and sliced cucumbers over them. Drizzle with the salad dressing; you may opt not to put it all on, but to pass some of it for people who like extra dressing.

Last year at this time I made Polish Dill Pickle Soup.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Making Sour Cream

Okay, it is once more RANT TIME in Ferdzy-land. Again, it's about dairy products. Again, the big companies that have a killer grip on the production and supply lines around here, have stopped producing an actual dairy product and are now purveyors of complete and utter CRAP.

I've raved before about how hard it is to get actual whipping cream anymore, but thanks to Miller's Dairy at least I can. However, they don't make sour cream (I'm pretty sure) and the stuff at the grocery store is now essentially inedible. I, at least, refuse to eat it anymore. Here's the ingredient list from the last batch I bought, and it seems to be entirely typical: cream, milk, skim milk powder, modified corn starch, guar gum, carrageenan, carob bean gum, sodium citrate, sodium phosphate, bacterial culture.

Just in case you didn't get that the first time:

Cream, milk, skim milk powder, modified corn starch, guar gum, carrageenan, carob bean gum, sodium citrate, sodium phosphate, bacterial culture.

People, that is not sour cream, and it is criminal that this country allows anyone to sell that slimy glop with the label sour cream.

So I got on line to see if one can make sour cream at home, and as it turns out, yes; one can. I saw recipes that said, "mix 2 ingredients and leave on the counter overnight" and I saw recipes that wanted you to heat your cream to a very precise temperature, and hold it there, and cool it, and then mix your 2 ingredients and leave it on the counter overnight.

After some thought I decided to believe the people who say, mix 2 ingredients, etc. If you are not using raw cream - and hardly anyone will be, certainly not me - that heating and cooling process has already been done; it's called pasteurization.

There are 2 main variables in this recipe. The first will be the cream you use. I used whipping cream, as that is what will be easiest for me to get. It does need to be real whipping cream, not some industrial CRAP full of gums and starches, or why are we even here? The lower in fat the cream you use, the thinner the ultimate sour cream, and this will - even with whipping cream - be thinner than purchased sour cream ever was. Next time I might try mixing equal parts 10% cream with the whipping cream, though, for something a little more restrained. (If Miller's makes an 18% cream, I've never seen it).

The second variable is the souring agent. I used commercial buttermilk, which is okay but not exciting, and my finished whipping cream tasted very much like the buttermilk; no big surprise. I've seen vinegar recommended by some people, but useful as I think vinegar is, I'm not convinced it would bring the right flavour profile. Lemon juice is also suggested, and I will try that next time, provided I am using it somewhere that a slight lemon flavour will be an asset. Yogurt is basically thicker buttermilk, but again perhaps with a different flavour and it can definitely be used. You can also look on-line and find sour cream starter cultures for sale, but I can't see myself using sour cream at a frequency and volume that would make that useful to me.

As ever with dairy products, cleanliness may or may not be next to godliness, but it is most definitely next to success. 

1 to 1 1/4 cups; scale as needed 
25 hours 10 minutes - 10 minutes prep time

1 cup pure, high quality cream; 10% on up to 35%
1/4 cup buttermilk OR 2 tablespoons good yogurt OR 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Make your sour cream in a very clean or sterilized canning jar; pick one the right size for the quantity you intend to make. Either sterilize the jar, or run it through the dishwasher at a hot temperature and start the sour cream as soon as the dishwasher is done. I would also only do this if I expect to use my sour cream promptly - otherwise, it's into the canner, cover by an inch, and boil for 10 minutes. Also you may wish to run through: the lid and rim, a funnel, a large spoon, and a spatula.

Put the cream into your very clean jar. Add the starter agent and stir it in. Wipe the rim with a bit of clean wet paper towel. Pop on your very clean lid and rim, although not too tight. Set on the back of the counter and leave it for 24 hours at room temperature, assuming room temperature is not far off 20°C. It won't thicken up until close to the end of the time. At any rate, put it in the fridge after 24 hours. Congratulations! You now have sour cream.

Last year at this time I made One Pot Mashed Parsnips & Pears.

Monday, 13 January 2020

Vegetable Fried Barley

And this is different from regular ol' vegetable fried rice only through the straight-up substitution of barley for the rice. My main question was, would it work?

The answer to that is yes; yes it does. It's a little chewier, no surprise, but really it works very well. The one thing I would note is that barley is much more filling than rice. It absorbs liquid as it cooks, and it absorbs liquid as it rests, and it absorbs liquid as it is reheated. Once it is eaten it continues to absorb liquid which is a good thing, but you should also take care not to over-eat it at the table, because it will come back and haunt you later if you do.

This is a lot like the Barley Pilaf I make regularly, but a little more effort for a drier, crumblier texture. Sometimes that's what you will want, especially if you are not eating much else with it. You could very easily add scrambled eggs, chopped cooked meat, or fried tofu cubes to this if you wanted some protein in with it.

4 serving
30 minutes prep time, not including cooking the barley

Vegetable Fried Barley

Cook the Barley:
2/3 cup pot barley
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put the barley, water and salt into a rice cooker and cook. Let cool and refrigerate overnight. Use a fork, or your hand wet in cold water, to break the barley up into individual grains before proceeding.

Fry the Barley:
1 medium onion
1 stalk celery OR 1/2 cup peeled, grated celeriac
1 medium carrot
a small handful of mushrooms
1 cup finely chopped cabbage
1 or 2 cloves of garlic OPTIONAL
2 or 3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
2 or 3 tablespoons soy sauce

Peel and chop the onion. Wash, trim, and chop or grate the celery or celeriac. Peel and grate the carrot. Clean, trim, and chop the mushrooms. All these can be put together.

Wash, trim, and finely chop the cabbage. Peel and mince the garlic, if using.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the first set of vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted and softened. Add the cabbage and the garlic, and stir in well. Let cook for another minute or so, stirring and turning the vegetables.

Sprinkle the soy sauce over the vegetables, and stir it in until absorbed. Add the crumbled barley and stir it in well. Continue cooking and stirring for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the barley begins to crisp and stick a little to the pan. Serve at once.

Last year at this time I made Chinese Chile-Garlic Noodles & Greens.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Anglesey Eggs

I liked this traditional Welsh recipe, but it's mashed potatoes and leeks with eggs and cheese sauce; perhaps a better way to use up left-overs - specifically of mashed potatoes or hard boiled eggs - than something to make in and of itself.  Two pounds of potatoes is a lot of potatoes; more plan-overs than left-overs most likely. I did make the mashed potatoes just for this dish, since I shouldn't be eating them the first time 'round. 

I used 3 big leeks but I wouldn't have complained if there had been a bit more in the way of leekage. Don't be skimpy with them! For a really complete meal in one dish I will probably also throw in a little cabbage and/or mushrooms with the leeks in the future. Really good strong cheese is a must too.

If you make a lot of hard-boiled eggs at Easter, you may want to hang on to this recipe - it will be a good way to use some of them up.

4 servings
1 hour 30 minutes - 45 minutes prep time

Cook the Potatoes & Boil the Eggs:
900 grams (2 pounds) potatoes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup buttermilk
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 large eggs

Wash and trim the potatoes, and cut them into even chunks. Put them in a pot of water and bring them to a boil; boil until easily pierced with a fork. Drain well and mash with the butter, buttermilk, salt, and pepper. This can be done up to a day ahead.

Put the eggs in cold water to cover them, and bring them to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, then remove the pot from the heat and cover it. Let the eggs rest for 7 minutes, then cool them rapidly in cold water. This can also be done up to a day ahead. 

Sauté the Leeks:
3 large leeks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Wash, trim, and slice the leeks thinly. Rinse them again and drain them.

Heat the butter in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, add the leeks, and cook them gently until softened and reduced in volume. Stir frequently and do not let them brown.

Meanwhile, spread the potatoes in a lightly buttered shallow baking (lasagne) pan. When the leeks are done, spread them over the potatoes and mix them in gently. Peel and cut the eggs into halves or quarters and arrange them over the leeks and potatoes.

Make the Sauce & Finish the Dish:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
a grind of nutmeg OR 1 teaspoon rubbed savory
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 to 2 cups grated old Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Using the skillet that the leeks were cooked in, melt the next round of butter with the flour, and seasonings. Mix until well combined and bubbling throughout. Slowly and thoroughly mix in the milk, and let the mixture just barely simmer until thickened. Stir in 2/3 to 3/4 of the grated cheese until melted. Spread this mixture over the eggs, leeks and potatoes.

Mix the remaining cheese in well with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle the mixture over the casserole. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until hot and bubbling. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Last year at this time I made Chicken, Leeks, & Mushrooms with Potato Dumplings.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Braised Pork Belly with Turnips

Usually this is made with radishes, of the long white variety. Winter radishes, as they are sometimes called, and when we grow them they do indeed do best planted in mid to late summer and harvested just before frost, when they will then keep in the cold room for a month or two.

Unfortunately, we didn't grow any this year and although they should theoretically be available around now, if they are it isn't in this little hotbed of completely non-Asian food. Turnips, though, are very similar and replace them quite well. I suspect they might have taken a little longer to cook than radishes would have, so if you do manage to use radishes, start checking them a bit earlier on in the cooking process.

This is a tasty and complete dish - you may want to serve it with some rice - but it does lack in colour. A little chopped parsley, cilantro, or green onion, if you have any of those, sprinkled over the top, will perk it up considerably.

2 to 4 servings
1 hour 15 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

 Braised Pork Belly with Turnips

Start the Dish:
250 grams (1/2 pound) fresh pork belly
500 grams (1 pound) white turnips
1 tablespoon finely minced or grated fresh ginger
4 to 6 cloves of garlic

Cut the pork belly into bite-sized chunks. Put them in a large skillet or heavy-bottomed soup pot, and cook them over medium heat quite gently for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, peel and cut the turnips into bite-sized pieces. Peel and grate or mince the garlic and ginger.

Make the Sauce & Finish the Dish:
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sherry
1 teaspoon 5-spice powder
1 to 2 teaspoon chile-garlic sauce
1/2 to 3/4 cup water

Mix the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.

When the meat has cooked for about 20 minutes, long enough to have rendered a fair amount of fat, lift the meat out of the pan with a slotted spoon. Drain off most of the fat, leaving just enough to keep the turnips from sticking, when added. Return the meat to the pan, and add the ginger and garlic. Cook for several minutes, stirring them into the meat until well distributed and fragrant.

Add the turnips and the sauce, with the smaller amount of water. Mix in well. Cover the pan and simmer gently for about 20 minutes more. Stir every 5 minutes or so. If the sauce evaporates before the end of the cooking time, add a little more water, but the sauce should be reduced to thicken and coat the pork and turnips just around the end of the cooking time.

Serve with steamed rice.

Last year at this time I made Baked Apples Stuffed with Mincemeat

Monday, 6 January 2020

Leek & Sweet Potato Soup

This is a nice, simple every-day soup (with leeks! Surprise!) which doesn't take a lot of effort, especially if you are using left-over baked sweet potatoes. Not likely to have left-over sweet potatoes, you say? Well, what you do, is you bake 2 extra ones and don't let them hit the table the first time. So not exactly left-overs, but more plan-overs. It's a good plan, because left-over baked sweet potatoes are so useful, for so many things.

4 to 6 servings
1 hour - 20 minutes prep time NOT including roasting the sweet potatoes

Leek & Sweet Potato Soup

2 cups mashed roasted sweet potato (2 large)
3 large leeks
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons barley OR soft wheat flour
4 cups unsalted chicken OR vegetable stock
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

As ever; it takes between an hour and an hour and half to roast whole sweet potatoes. They should be reasonably cool; peel and mash them very well.

Wash, trim, chop and wash the leeks again. Drain them well.

Heat the butter in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Cook the leeks gently until quiet soft and reduced in volume, but don't let them brown. Add the seasoning and sprinkle the flour over them. Mix it in until no white flecks remain, then slowly stir in the stock. Add the vinegar.

Let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, then serve hot. This is the sort of thing that would be good with a dab of sour cream or thick yogurt.

Last year at this time I made Cabbage, Bacon & Quinoa Salad

Friday, 3 January 2020

Stir-Fried Glass Noodles with Vegetables

Hi. I'm Ferdzy, and I am a pasta addict.

Like most addicts, I recognize I have a problem, but I'm trying to find ways to mitigate my problem without having to give up my favoured substance. Unlike most addicts, I think I can actually do this. I mean, that's what most addicts think, but in this case I not only think I'm right, I... think I'm right.

So; okay. 

But the thing is, it's not "pasta" or "noodles" that are the problem, it's "things that raise my blood sugar". That is most traditional pasta and noodles, but it's not all of them. I've mentioned before that if you can turn the starch in foods into resistant starch, it will not spike your blood sugar like those other starches do.

I've always loved noodles made with bean or sweet potato starch, and it turns out these contain resistant starches! Meaning that they can be consumed, in reasonable quantities, by me and anyone else looking to watch their blood sugar. They are also extremely tasty (well, no they're pretty bland, actually, but they soak up tasty flavours like little sponges) and a lot of fun to eat (that's true - it's the texture, and the translucency that make them so good).

I'm going to be eating these semi-regularly. I'm also getting thoroughly obsessed with making spaetzle, but that's another (series of) blog post(s). As for traditional wheat or rice based noodles, I guess I'm just going to have to become a Christmas-and-Easter Pastafarian, to mix some metaphors.

3 or 4 servings
30 minutes prep time

Stir-Fried Glass Noodles with Vegetables

Soak the Noodles & Make the Sauce:
2 bundles (100 grams; 4 ounces) glass noodles (cellophane noodles or saifun)
1 tablespoon finely minced, peeled fresh ginger
2 or 3 cloves finely minced, peeled garlic
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon chile garlic sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider OR rice vinegar

Put the noodles into a bowl and cover with tepid tap water. Soak them for 10 minutes, then drain them well and snip them right through twice, about 1/4 of the way in from each end.

Peel and mince the ginger and garlic, and put them in a small bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Make the Stir-Fry:
4 cups finely shredded green or Savoy cabbage
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
1 medium onion, peeled and slivered
6 to 8 small button mushrooms
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil

Wash, trim, and shred the cabbage. Peel and grate the carrot. Peel the onion, cut it in half, then into then slivers. Clean and slice the mushrooms.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the carrot, onion, and mushrooms and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until about halfway cooked. Add the cabbage and mix in well. Cook for another minute or so, stirring to combine, until the cabbage is about half wilted. Then mix in the drained and cut noodles. Mix in well.

Drizzle the sauce over the pan of noodles and vegetables, and mix it in. Continue cooking and mixing/turning the contents of the pan until everything is done to your liking and well-combined. Turn out onto a serving dish and serve at once.

Last year at this time I made Turkish Leek Cake.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Broiled Pork Tenderloin

Broiled meats have the advantage of cooking very quickly and leaving your meat juicy. It takes a little practise to get them always done to the exact stage you like them, but no more than any other kind of cooking. It's a technique I find myself using more often these days.

Pork tenderloin is a really good choice for broiling, because it is fairly thin, and generally the little roasts are fairly consistent in size. A small household like ours can eat half of it hot, and the other half either cold, in salads or sandwiches or quickly reheated in a sauté pan. When I cook other, bigger, roasts of meat they are a considerably larger commitment of time, money, and repetitious menus.  

This is a very lean cut, so marinating it helps keep it moist and tender, as well as adding flavour. You need to be in the kitchen to keep an eye on it while it cooks, but the amount of effort involved in doing this is extremely minimal. You will want to run your ventilation fan on high.

3 to 4 servings
1 to 8 hours marinating time
30 to 40 minutes - including time to rest and carve

Broiled Pork Tenderloin

Make the Marinade:
6 thin slices of ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sherry
2 tablespoons apple cider OR rice vinegar
500 grams (1 to 1 1/4 pound) pork tenderloin

Scrub or peel the ginger, and cut it in thin slices. Put it in the container in which the pork is to be marinated, and add the remaining ingredients.

Put the pork in, turn it to cover, then close the container and put it in the fridge. Marinate for 1 to 8 hours.

Cook the Pork:
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Be sure the top oven rack is in a good position so that when the pork goes in, it will be about 4" or 5" away from the flame. Turn on the broiler and allow the oven to preheat for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the pork from the marinade. I did not blot it, but I did hold it and let it drain for a minute. Place it in a broiler-proof pan - if you don't want the smoke detector to go off, an actual broiler pan with a little water to cover the bottom is a good choice. I used a metal bread pan, which worked fine but the smoke detector did go off for the last minute of cooking.

At any rate, brush your pork with the sesame oil and sprinkle it with some pepper. Do the least attractive side of your pork first, and it must be arranged so as to be as apparently even in thickness as possible; in other words, tuck up the thin end to make a blunt end not too different looking from the middle of the roast.

Broil the pork for 7 to 10 minutes, then turn it over with tongs, season with a little more pepper, and broil it for another 7 to 10 minutes. Cover it, with a lid or with aluminum foil when it comes out of the oven, and allow it to rest for 7 to 8 minutes. I cooked mine for 8 minutes each side and was satisfied with the results, which gave a meat thermometer reading of 140°F. This is as low as is desirable (can go up to 150°F), but I suspect my thermometer reading of being low, as usually seems to be the case when I attempt to use one. It was certainly cooked, but with a bit of pink juiciness which seems to me to be about ideal. You should be prepared to adjust the time slightly, though, if you think your pork tenderloin is a little thinner or thicker than average, or if you want it done a little more.

As soon as the resting period is done, slice the pork and serve it. If there are some un-carbonized juices in the pan by all means drizzle them over it.

Last year at this time I made Oyster Mushroom Chowder with Saffron

Monday, 30 December 2019

Roasted Chick Pea & Carrot Salad

It's my favourite kind of dish: something that looks fancy, but is really no more difficult to put together than any other salad. The extra requirement is simply a little roasting time. This would be a good dish for New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, when lots of people eat beans for good luck. They represent little coins, perhaps, and the carrot slices will reinforce that idea very well.

You could serve a simple protein dish with this salad, but some nice crusty bread would make it a meal in itself.

If you can only get pumpkin seeds that are already roasted and salted, don't add them in to the vegetables to be roasted, but put them in with the lettuce. I'd cut the salt back quite a bit too, in that case. 

4 to 6 servings
1 hour - 15 minutes prep time

Roasted Chick Pea & Carrot Salad

Roast the Vegetables:
1 540 ml (19 ounce) chick peas
250 grams (1/2 pound) medium sized but thin carrots
3 or 4 shallots
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons sunflower OR olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F. 

Rinse and drain the chick peas well. Scrub or peel the carrots, trim them, and cut them into slices not too much larger than the chick peas. Peel and sliver the shallots. Toss them all on a large baking tray with the raw pumpkin seeds and the oil.

Grind the cumin with the salt then mix in the pepper and Aleppo pepper. Sprinkle over the vegetables and toss again.

Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring once in the middle, until done to your liking. Put the tray on a rack and let them cool for another 15 minutes.

Finish the Salad:
the juice of 1/2 large lemon
1 tablespoon sunflower OR olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
half a bunch of greenhouse lettuce OR 2 cups pea or sunflower greens
  OR 1/2 cup chopped parsley and other herbs

Juice the lemon and mix it with the oil and mustard while the vegetables are roasting. As they cool, mix the dressing in with them.

Wash and dry the lettuce, and chop it fairly finely. Toss it with the cooled vegetables and transfer everything to a serving platter. Serve at once.

Lettuce could be replaced with pea or sunflower micro-greens, or if making this in the spring, with parsley and a touch of chives, cilantro, dill, or mint.

Last year at this time I made Oyster Mushroom Chowder with Saffron

Friday, 27 December 2019

Pumpkin Seed & Bean Purée with Roasted Lamb Chops & Oil-Poached Garlic

I've always been a bit dismayed by recipes that combined to types of protein; beans and meat. I was raised in the era of nutritionists assuring everyone that while we need protein, too much is not good. Furthermore, I spent my early adulthood seriously lacking in money. Serving multiple types of protein at once not only seemed a bit profligate, but was generally beyond my means.

Now that I'm trying to eat more protein and fewer carbs I have to re-think this whole attitude. I'm trying to keep my meat consumption at about what it was before, since when it comes to meat, the too much is not good idea still holds a fair bit of water. Essentially that means upping my bean consumption.

Long story short, here's some lamb chops on a bean purée. Very good too, if a bit fancy for everyday. However, as usual, nothing difficult and lots that can be done in advance. The bean purée is essentially a hummus, and if you don't serve it all, the leftovers can be treated as such, and served with chips or crudités. I'm likely to make it again for just that purpose. The garlic and garlic oil too, will have other uses, which is good, since you will only use about 1/4 of them in this recipe. The oil, if put in a very clean jar should last well, but I would try to use the garlic up within a week or so. Keep refrigerated.

4 servings
to make Oil-Poached Garlic - 1 hour - 20 minutes prep time
to make Pumpkin Seed & Bean Purée - 15 minutes prep time,
    not including cooking beans or toasting pumpkin seeds
to roast the lamb chops - 25 minutes - 5 minutes prep time

Make the Oil Poached Garlic: 
3 to 4 heads of garlic
1 cup mild vegetable oil

Peel the garlic and trim the root ends off. Put them in the top of double boiler with the oil. Bring the double boiler up to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly so that it is boiling at a slow but steady clip. Cook the garlic for 45to 50 minutes, until soft but not mushy. The oil can show small streams of bubbles, but should not be hotter than that. Check that the water level does not drop too low.

Strain the garlic from the oil, and put each in suitable separate storage containers, as you will have a fair bit of each left over. 

Make the Pumpkin Seed & Bean Purée:
1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds, toasted
4 to 6 oil-poached cloves of garlic
2 to 3 cloves raw garlic
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons garlic-flavoured oil (from poaching)
the juice of 1 large lemon
2 cups cooked white beans (1 cup raw)
salt if required

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet until lightly browned if they are not already roasted and salted, and let them cool on a plate.

Put the pumpkin seeds, cooked and raw garlic, paprika, pepper, and oil into a food processor and process until very finely chopped; puréed is what you are aiming for but I don't think you are going to achieve it quite yet. Stop and scrape the sides down several times. When the mixture is very fine, add the lemon juice and process some more.

When the lemon juice is in well and you cannot see any flecks of pumpkin seed, begin adding the white beans and blend thoroughly. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

I used this right away and it was good, but we both agreed that the leftovers were better, so if you can make this from several hours to the day before, that will be good.

Roast the Lamb Chops:
8 (900 grams; 2 pounds) lamb chops
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Have your skillet or grill in the oven to pre-heat too. If using a roasting pan, put a little water in the bottom of it to prevent the drippings from smoking.

The lamb chops should be removed from the fridge to come to room temperature before cooking them.Season the chops on both sides with the salt and pepper. Place the chops in the pre-heated cast iron skillet or roasting pan, on their edges with the fatty sides down. Cover loosely with foil. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the foil from the chops and continue roasting for another 5 to 7 minutes. Let sit in the pan for another 5 or 6 minutes to rest.

The beans should be heated while the lamb is in the oven; grease a shallow pan into which they will fit, and put it in the oven while the lamb cooks. The exact time will vary according to the depth of the pan and the temperature of the beans to start with. My beans were just warm and spread fairly shallow, and were hot within 10 minutes. Otherwise, they may take longer. It wouldn't hurt to cover them with foil too, and they will need a good stir once they come out as they will crust over a little.

Serve Up:
Put a good dollop (1/4) of the warm bean purée on each plate. Top with 2 of the cooked lamb chops. Slice or mince a clove of the poached garlic over each plate to garnish. Serve at once.  

Friday, 20 December 2019

Rye Spaetzle with Caraway

This was the final dish of a menu consisting of Broiled Muscovy Duck Breast, Braised Belgian Endive, and the spaetzle. It looks a little plain - it's noodles, basically - but I have to say this is the dish that is going to stick in my memory, and which I intend to make again regularly. I am late to discovering how fast and easily spaetzle can be made, and I regret it. All those wasted years! But now I know. It helped, I think, to have a colander with fairly large holes that work well for forming the little dumplings, but I have to admit I have purchased a spaetzle maker for the next batch. This is an unusual one, which doubles as a perforated pot lid.

The rye flour worked perfectly. The caraway seeds, in my opinion were what really made these special, and the tang of the buttermilk added to the joy.

Mr. Ferdzy must have really liked them too. I was planning various things to do with the leftovers - sautéed with vegetables and sprinkled with cheese; fried with bacon, put in vegetable soup as noodles - but the quantity of leftovers is just pitiful. I guess I could throw them in some soup but it hardly seems worth the effort. They may disappear as someone's midnight snack anyway.

And as is traditional around now, it's time to step away from the computer and go spend time with the family. I hope all my readers have happy holidays, and may we all have an excellent New Year.

4 to 6 servings
15 minutes prep time plus some wait time

Rye Spaetzle with Caraway

2 cups whole rye flour
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, OPTIONAL
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large chicken eggs OR 2 large duck eggs
about 1 1/4 cup buttermilk

Mix the flour, caraway seeds, and salt in a mixing bowl. Break in the eggs, and whisk about 1 cup of the buttermilk in with them, then stir it all together to form a smooth batter. Let it rest for 30 minutes to an hour if you can, before you cook the spaetzle, although it is not absolutely required.

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Check the consistency of the batter - it should be like a thick pancake batter. I needed to add another 1/4 cup of buttermilk, but be prepared for it to vary slightly. When the water boils - which should be about 5 minutes before you are ready to serve dinner, because these little jobbies cook amazingly fast - transfer the batter to a colander (or spaetzle maker, if you have one) and press the batter through the colander using a spatula. Obviously, you want to hold the colander over the boiling water while the batter goes into it. Your third arm will come in extremely handy here - in this case attached to Mr. Ferdzy. Seriously, I am at a bit of a loss to see how this can be done by one person alone. I mean it could be, if you didn't mind a quarter of the batter all over the place, but I do.

Anyway, once all the batter is in, in little squiggles, or at least as much of it as you are going to get in, let it cook in the rapidly boiling water until they all float. This will be just about enough time to quickly wash the colander so you can use it to drain them - 3 or 4 minutes is all they will take. Serve 'em hot, with a pat of butter if nothing else, but creamy cheeses, gravy drenched meats, or saucy vegetables will all be appropriate ladled over them.

Last year at this time I made Curried Parsnips Roasted with Apples & Shallots and also Oslo Kringle.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Braised Belgian Endive in a Ginger Clementine Sauce

Clementines are not local, but they are certainly a familiar fruit of the season. They make a great sweet and tangy sauce for slightly bitter Belgian endives. Later in the winter you could use other oranges to supply the juice - most of those will be big enough that one will do.

This is a very quick and easy recipe, but it does require several minutes of very concentrated attention right at the end, as you cook the sauce down.

4 servings
30 minutes - 10 minutes prep time

4 medium-large Belgian endives
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 clementines
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Wash and trim the endives, and cut them in half. Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. When it begins to sizzle, add the endive halves, round side down. Add a tablespoon of water to the pan to help cook them. Cook for 5 or 6 minutes then turn them over.

Meanwhile, juice the clementines. Leave the juice in the lemon juicer, but remove any seeds. Peel and grate the ginger and add it to the juice. Add the honey and soy sauce to the juice.

When the endives are turned over, pour in the clementine juice, etc. Continue to cook the endives over medium heat until quite tender, about 10 minutes more. Transfer them to a serving dish using a slotted spoon, then turn up the heat and cook the remaining sauce in the pan for a few minutes until thickened. Watch it carefully; it can turn just a shade brown but that is the signal to remove it from the stove and pour it over the endives at once. Serve as soon as the sauce is put on.

Ha, ha! Oh look - last year at this time I made Endive, Walnut, Cranberry & Blue Cheese Salad.