Monday, 20 May 2019

Rhubarb Ginger Syrup

Yeah, this was made last year. I wanted to actually try it before I posted it, which meant waiting until rhubarb season was pretty much over. Can report; it was lovely but I guess I won't be making it this year.

I regard it mostly as a flavouring for club soda, but you could drizzle a little over ice-cream or panna cotta. Plain yogurt, even. This amount of ginger is pretty gingery; you could use as little as half if you prefer less bite.

6 250-ml jars
45 minutes prep time
2 to 12 hours straining time
1 1/2 hours to can

Rhubarb Ginger Syrup with Club Soda

8 cups diced rhubarb
2 cups sliced fresh ginger
5 cups water
1 cup sugar

Wash, trim, and chop the rhubarb and put it in a large canning kettle or similar pot. Wash the ginger well, but there is no need to peel it. Cut it in thin slices and add it to the rhubarb. Add the water. Bring to a boil, and boil gently for 15 minutes ore so, until the rhubarb disintegrates. Stir regularly. Cover and let cool.

Pour the mixture into a clean large jelly bag (I use a clean old pillow case and rig it up to strain into a pot for 2 to 12 hours. I hasten the process by squeezing it. Squeeze it as much as possible. I also strained it into a pot with a strainer insert, which meant I could put a weight on it. In short, extract as much liquid from the mixture as you can.

When ready to proceed, put the jars to be filled into a canner and cover with water to at least an inch above the rims. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Put the lids and rims into a smaller pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Boil one minute then remove from the heat until needed.

At the same time, bring the strained liquid up to a boil and add the sugar. Boil for a few minutes, until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Fill the sterilized jars with the rhubarb-ginger syrup. Wipe the rims with a piece of paper towel dipped in the boiling water. Seal with the prepared lids and rims, and replace them in the canner of boiling water.  Boil for 10 minutes. Remove, let cool, check seals. Label and date the jars, and keep them in a cold dark place until wanted.

Last year at this time I made this. Oh, all right - and also Stir-Fried Lamb with Asparagus.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Asparagus with Chervil Chive Butter

The asparagus is starting to flow! Our new asparagus bed is starting to produce, and I think we are on our third or fourth cutting now. The old bed is only just starting to show some signs of life in the highest spot, confirming that moving it is a very good decision.

Chervil is next to impossible to find, so I post this mostly to encourage people to grow some chervil. It is one of the licorice-flavoured herbs, along with fennel and tarragon, but with a sweetness and delicacy that both of those lack.

I have an old cook book that has a chart of cooking times for vegetables, and it starts with 20 minutes for asparagus. This honestly boggles my mind, as I once cooked some for 6 minutes by mistake, and it disintegrated - there is no other word for what happened. HOW do you cook asparagus for 20 minutes - I mean, okay; you cook it for 20 minutes. But how do you possibly serve up the results?

4 to 6 servings
20 minutes prep time

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon 10% cream

a pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh chives
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh chervil

Be sure the butter is soft enough to work before you start. Put it in a small bowl with the cream, salt, and pepper.

Wash, dry, trim, and finely mince the herbs. Work them together until smoothly integrated. Pack them into a little bowl, cover, and refrigerate when wanted. Serve with steamed or boiled asparagus.

Steaming is generally considered a better way to cook asparagus, but I admit I generally boil mine. Trim the ends of any tough parts, and bring the water to a boil. Be sure they will all fit into the pan before you start - really long ones may need to be cut in half. Three to five minutes is entirely sufficient, and drain them well before serving.

Last year at this time I made Fiddlehead & Potato Salad.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Spring Salad with Honey-Yogurt Dressing

Here is just as simple a little salad as possible. The dressing is smooth and charming, the greens are crunchy, but really it justifies being posted by consisting mainly of things now available from the garden. Yaaaaay!

2 or 3 servings
20 minutes prep time

Spring Salad with Honey-Yogurt Dressing

Make the Dressing:
1 to 2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Whisk together in a small bowl - you may need to soften the honey in the microwave for a few seconds before you add the remaining ingredients. 

Make the Salad:
1 cup lightly packed torn lettuce leaves
1 cup lightly packed torn spinach leaves
4 to 6 sorrel leaves
4 to 6 radish leaves, if in good condition
4 to 6 small red radishes

Wash, pick over, and spin dry the leaves, and tear or chop them into bite sized pieces. Wash and trim the radishes, and slice them. Arrange them in a salad bowl, communal or individual ones, over the prepared leaves. Drizzle with the dressing.

Last year at this time I made Sorrel & Goat Cheese Soufflé.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Buffalo Chicken Burgers

I've been noticing a lot of recipes with a "Buffalo Chicken Wing" theme lately, and decided to join the party. I have to admit I have resisted for quite a long time, though. The trouble is that in my early twenties I had a job as night-cook at a bar, and what I mostly made was Buffalo chicken wings. It gave me a jaundiced view of them.

I find it thoroughly bizarre that Buffalo chicken wings have become a kind of fancy thing. They are the creation of working class bars (in Buffalo, duh) made with the sole aim of selling a little food and encouraging the consumption of beer. Consequently, the recipe needed to be made of ingredients available from the cheaper food service companies and simple enough to be assembled by stoned minimum-wage workers late at night.

I'll tell you the original "recipe": Throw chicken wings in the deep fryer until done to a golden brown. Meanwhile, mix hot sauce and melted butter in a bowl, the proportions to depend on whether the customer has ordered mild, medium, hot, or suicide. When the wings are fried, drain them and toss them in the bowl. Dish them up and serve with a little blue cheese dressing from a bottle, and celery sticks. I see a number of gussied-up recipes with garlic and paprika out there, and let me tell you, no. Nobody in a bar is going to mess around like that.

The hot sauce was either Franks or Tabasco, depending on whether your bar had any pretensions to gentility whatsoever. There was no "wing sauce" which is apparently a thing you can buy now; I don't know why. I guess so you can have yet another half-empty jar of gunk in the fridge. There was absolutely no sugar or honey in it, which is a thing some people add now because people add sugar to absolutely everything, ugh.

So, anyway! These were good, and I would definitely make them again. You do need to make the Blue Cheese Dressing in advance, because let's face it; bottled blue cheese dressing is nothing to write home about, even when you are on your third beer. And a nice burger with lettuce and pickle is way better than gnawing on some boney, greasy, over-priced wing. Once the dressing is made they are really no harder or slower to make than any other burger.

4 large or 6 small burgers
20 minutes prep time for burgers
15 minutes prep time for Blue Cheese Dressing

Buffalo Chicken Burgers with Blue Cheese Dressing and Vegetable Sticks

Make the Meat Mixture:
450 grams (1 pound) lean ground chicken
1/4 cup oat bran
1 large egg
1 to 3 tablespoons Tabasco or Frank's hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup rice (or other) flour

Put the ground chicken in a mixing bowl with the oat bran, egg, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix very well.

Put the rice flour in a shallow bowl sufficiently large to hold each hamburger patty as it is formed.

Also you need to have your blue cheese dressing made by now or it is tooooo late. Probably a good time to cut up the veggies as well.

Make the Burgers:
1 recipe Blue Cheese Dressing
4 to 6 hamburger buns
4 to 6 sturdy lettuce leaves
4 to 6 slices dill pickle (optional)
4 to 6 slices sweet onion (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 or 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
2 or 3 stalks of celery, trimmed and cut into sticks.

Slice the buns and set them on plates. Wash and dry the lettuce leaves and put them on the buns, along with a dollop of blue cheese dressing and a slice of pickle and/or onion if desired.

Heat the butter in a skillet (or two) of sufficient size over medium heat until sizzling. 

Meanwhile, divide the meat mixture into 4 or 6 equal portions. Form each into a patty and dredge in the rice flour. Add them to the sizzling butter and cook for 4 minutes on each side until done. Put them in the buns, close them up, serve them with celery and carrot sticks. If there's a little extra dressing, pass it for the vegetable sticks.

Last year at this time I made Turnips with Bacon & Onion.

Friday, 10 May 2019

A Brief Introduction to the Garden Season

Well spring is here and we have started gardening. This is a very short post about it because 1.) we are about to go away for the weekend and 2.) it is pretty much the same as usual and 3.) I think we are both feeling a bit blasé about gardening this year.

However, we have planted our peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants; our onions, leeks, and shallots, a few other things; and sweet potatoes are being sprouted for slips. All in pots, of course. On nice days they get hauled out and on less nice days they stay inside. Since it hasn't actually gotten all that nice out yet, even when they are out they tend to stay under a sheet of plastic. 

So far we have planted the early peas (they're up!) and tsk-tsked over the state of the spinach (sadly nibbled by mice and rabbits) and lettuce (pretty much all eaten by mice and rabbits) that we planted last fall and carefully covered for the winter.

Otherwise I have been doing some weeding and also pulled all these strawberries out. They are now residing either in the bed in the top right of the photo, along with a few irises I don't know what to do with, or they are in the compost. This, if anyone remembers, is a strawberry that grew from a seed about 3 years back. Looks like it's a good go-er! 

Mr. Ferdzy has been installing a 2-foot high chicken wire fence around the main garden, see comments about rabbits. Rabbits, it is known, go in cycles and they have been bad the last few years. I had been hoping that last year was the peak and this year they would crash, but judging from the number I have seen around this spring they are not at the peak yet. So if we expect to save anything from constant nibbling, they must be excluded. It will be a pain in the arse to only have a few gates instead of being able to enter or exit the garden at the end of every path, but on the other hand I expect to enjoy having more vegetables.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Rolled Omelette with Spring Herbs & Cheese

This is all about the presentation rather than the recipe so much; it's an omelette. It's quite a bit like the Bachelor's Omelette, in fact. Baking it in the oven ensures that it cooks evenly and without browning, and rolling it up makes it look fancy, but it isn't difficult. Providing you use parchment paper, I'm afraid. I have a love-hate relationship with parchment paper. One the one hand no sticking and easy clean-up; on the other hand, more bloody single-use plastic garbage.

It really needed a bit of parsley for a garnish. I would totally have nipped out and gotten some more when I realized I had forgotten to save any, but Mr. Ferdzy was breathing down my neck after having spent 15 minutes pacing the kitchen as he waited for breakfast. Please picture some artistically arranged sprigs of parsley around this, thanks.

2 to 4 servings
30 minutes - 15 minutes prep time

Rolled Baked Omelette with Spring Herbs & Cheese

2 green shallots OR onions OR wild leeks
1/4 cup finely minced parsley
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh oregano (optional)
OR 1 cup finely minced fresh sorrel or spinach
4 large duck eggs OR 6 extra-large chicken eggs
2 tablespoons potato starch
1/4 cup 10% cream
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
60 grams (2 ounces) strong Cheddar, grated

Wash, trim, and mince the shallots or other oniony thing. Wash, dry, trim, and mince the parsley and any other herbs being used. DON'T forget to set aside a few sprigs for a garnish, duh. If you are using spinach or sorrel, blanch them in a strainer with a little boiling water then squeeze well to get them quite dry when cool enough to handle; chop them again.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9" x 13" baking pan with parchment paper.

Whisk the eggs with the potato starch in a reasonably large bowl (they need to be whisked very well)! Season with salt and pepper; lightly with the salt in the presence of the cheese, more enthusiastically with the pepper. Whisk in the cream. Pour the eggs into the prepared pan, being sure they flow evenly into all the corners.

Grate the cheese. Sprinkle the prepared herbs and/or vegetables evenly over the eggs. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over everything. Bake for 12 to 20 minutes, until just set. Yes, I know! But so much depends on just how deep those eggs are. Start watching them carefully at the 10 minute mark. Pull them out the minute they are just set.

Lift the omelette in the parchment paper to a heat-proof board, and begin rolling it up - from a short side is easiest and probably looks best too - peeling off the parchment as you go. Make sure it's folding over itself nicely then pull the end of the parchment you are holding back across the omelette parallel above it - it should roll up neatly. Go a little slowly in case you need to help it off the parchment without tearing. Roll it onto a serving dish, garnish with parsley - whoops - and serve at once.

Last year at this time I made Cucumbers with Chervil. Yeah, I debated putting chervil in this and decided I didn't think it went with shallot greens.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Mushroom & Wild Leek Soup

We have wild leeks growing in our woods, that we transplanted there 2012. They are growing quite nicely, and returning every year, but it has to be conceded that at the rate they are spreading, they should be ready to harvest sometime around 2153. The acres of wild leeks (also known as ramps) in local woodlots are plainly not the result of hundreds of years of spreading so much as thousands of years. A somewhat amazing thought, and only very slightly tongue-in-cheek.

So I didn't use wild leeks for this, although that would be ideal if you could get them. What I did have, and recommend as my second choice, is shallot greens. I have some shallots that really don't die down in the fall and are green and leafy by now. They have some of the rich flavour of wild leeks too. But if you can't get shallot greens - and unless you grow them yourself, you probably can't - you will have to use green onions.

I used shiitakes, because I had rather a lot of them having found some on sale. I think a mix of shiitakes, oyster, and button mushrooms would be ideal, but nothing wrong with shiitakes! With smoked trout and cream, this was really delicious. It ought to be, I guess, because it is a bit on the pricey side, even with picking my own shallot greens. Definitely something for a special occasion.

4 servings
40 minutes prep time

Mushroom & Wild Leek Soup

Make the Broth:
225 grams (1/2 pound) smoked trout fillet
2 or 3 bay leaves
6 to 8 black peppercorns
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 cups of filtered water

Peel the skin from the trout and put it in a medium-sized pot with the remaining ingredients. Chop the trout meat and put it in a cool spot, covered - it's not going in until later. Bring the pot to a boil then reduce to a simmer and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.

Make the Soup:
6 to 8 wild leeks (ramps) OR green shallot or onions
250 grams (1/2 pound) mixed mushrooms
1/4 cup unsalted butter
6 tablespoons barley flour
1 teaspoon rubbed savory OR thyme
1/3 cup 10% cream

Meanwhile, wash and trim the wild leeks or green onions. Chop them finely, keeping the green and white parts in separate piles. Clean and trim the mushrooms (if using shiitakes, discard the stems - you could throw them into the pot of broth if you like) and chop them fairly finely.

Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and white parts of the onions/wild leeks, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining chopped green tops and cook for another 5 minutes or so. As they cook, sprinkle the barley flour over them and mix in well. Let it cook for a few minutes.

When the broth is ready, strain it into the pot with the cooked mushrooms etc, and discard the solids. Mix it in well. Let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. When it is well thickened, mix in the chopped trout and the cream. Bring it up to steaming hot again - about 5 minutes - but don't let it simmer. Check the seasoning and add a little more salt and pepper if needed. Serve at once.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Scotch Egg Pie

The British are famous for their meat pies, and meat pies with eggs in them are a traditional version. Make the meat pork sausage or something like it, and suddenly they are reminiscent of another classic British dish.

We made a trek to Barrie last week, and I found some quail eggs at a Chinese grocery store there! They really are a nicer size to find in a pie than chicken eggs, but there's no denying they are tedious little lumps to peel. At least they peeled fairly well.

I took pork and seasoned it as sausage but if you have a favourite bulk sausage you could just peel off the casings and use it. I happened to have some cooked buckwheat on hand so I used that and thought it worked really well as the filler. Breadcrumbs are the traditional filler, but if you want to avoid them and don't want to fuss with cooking buckwheat, rolled oats could also be used.

6 to 8 servings
2 hours - 45 minutes prep time
allow another 2 hours to cool

Scotch Egg Pie

Make the Pastry:
2 1/4 cups whole spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mild vegetable oil
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 large egg

Measure the flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl and mix.

Measure the oil, buttermilk, and butter. I do them in a 2 cup measure, adding each one as I go. The butter should be quite soft.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Do not over-mix, but it should all come together to form a ball. Set this aside, covered, while you make the filling.

Make the Filling & Finish the Pie:
6 large OR 8 small chicken eggs OR 18 quail eggs
900 grams (2 pounds) lean ground pork
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon finely grated fresh nutmeg
1 teaspoon rubbed thyme
1 teaspoon rubbed savory
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
2 or 3 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
1 large chicken egg
1 cup cooked buckwheat groats OR raw quick-cook oats OR breadcrumbs

Put a pot of water on to boil the eggs, which should be at room temperature. If using chicken eggs, add them when the water boils and boil for 1 minute, then cover and let sit for 5 minutes. If using quail eggs, add them and boil for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Then, remove the eggs to a basin of cold water to cool. When they are cool, peel them.

Meanwhile, put the ground pork into a mixing bowl. Peel and mince the garlic, and add it. Add all the seasonings. Break in the egg and add the buckwheat groats, rolled oats, or breadcrumbs. Mix well by hand.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Cut the pastry into 2 pieces of approximately 60% and 40%. Roll out the larger piece on a sheet of parchment paper to fit a 10" pie plate. Flip it into the pie plate, centre it, and peel off the parchment, fitting it into the angles.

Use half the meat filling to evenly cover the bottom of the pastry-filled pie dish. Make slight indentations in it to hold the eggs, and arrange them in an evenly distributed pattern on the meat. Crumble the remaining meat filling evenly over them then press down gently for form a firm, slightly domed meatloaf.

Roll out the remaining pastry on the parchment paper and flip and centre it on the pie. Peel off the parchment. Pinch the two crusts together to seal them, and cut steam holes in the top of the pie. Bake for a hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes, with a baking tray under the pie plate to catch any drips. Let the pie cool to no more than warm before serving it. If made in advance, it should be brought back up to room temperature before it is served.

Last year at this time I made Parsnip Hash Browns.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Roasted Mushroom, Bacon, Green Onion & Buckwheat Salad

Hey, look at those cute little mâche rosettes! Wonder where they came from?

I did a warm mushroom salad, hm, last spring, I think. This one is more of a complete meal in itself, with buckwheat groats and bacon to make it substantial. The two of us ate it all, but if you wanted to serve it with something else, it would stretch to 4. That might not be a bad idea. Not everyone loves buckwheat all that much (*cough* Mr. Ferdzy *cough*) but I am trying to eat more whole grains so he will just have to deal.

2 to 4 servings
45 minutes prep time
plus about 30 minutes to cook the buckwheat

Cook the Buckwheat:
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup buckwheat groats

Put the salt and water into a rice cooker or pot and bring to a boil.

While the water comes to a boil, toast the buckwheat in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring regularly, until it has darkened and shade or two. Turn it out onto a plate to cool.

When the water boils, drop the buckwheat into the rice cooker or pot. Let it cook until it turns itself off if in the rice cooker, or simmer for about 10 minutes until dry and cooked if in a pot. Loosen the buckwheat with a fork and turn it back out onto the plate to cool.

Make the Dressing:
the juice of lemon
1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian Paprika
1/2 teaspoon rubbed thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil

Squeeze and strain the lemon juice into a small bowl or jam jar. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk or shake well to combine.

Broil the Mushrooms, Bacon, & Green Onions: 
350 grams (12 ounces) oyster mushrooms
4 to 6 green onions
225 grams (1/2 pound) lean bacon

Trim any tough ends off the mushrooms, and tear them into large bite-sized pieces. Trim the green onions and chop them into 1 1/2" lengths. Mix them and arrange them in a wide, shallow baking dish. Chop the bacon into 1/2" pieces and sprinkle them over the mushrooms and onions.

Broil the mushrooms, etc, for 5 minutes, then turn and mix them and return to under the broiler for a further 4 to 6 minutes, until the bacon is cooked and crisp and the mushrooms and onions also cooked and perhaps slightly browned. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Mix the Greens & Finish the Salad:
2 cups total mixed greens as lettuce, sorrel, mâche, or spinach
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

While the mushrooms, etc, broil wash, drain well, and chop or tear up the greens. Wash, dry, and chop the parsley. Mix them in a mixing bowl with the cooked buckwheat groats.Turn them out onto a serving platter of shallow salad dish.

Arrange the cooked ingredients over them. Drizzle with the salad dressing. If there is a lot of liquid from cooking the mushrooms, and it is not tooo greasy from the bacon, you could drizzle it on too.

Last year at this time I made Oladi - Russia Yeast-Raised Pancakes.

Monday, 29 April 2019

Growing Mâche, Lamb's Lettuce, Doucette, or Corn Salad

We planted mâche (valerianella locusta*) last spring, and it grew and germinated nicely, and went to flower and then to seed, all before we got around to eating any. It self-seeded very well, and in fact I ripped out large quantities last summer as a weed. I did leave enough for us to make one or two salads.

This is hardly enough experience to render me an expert in growing mâche, but it falls into the same category as many other little greens we have grown. It's small, it's fast growing, and it's at its peak for a very short period of time, all of which makes it something of a pain in the large mixed vegetable garden.

On the other hand, the fact that its peak will fall from the middle of April to early May, depending on the weather, makes it something worth considering. I may continue to let it seed itself around, and leave patches of it to overwinter. It was quite pickable almost as soon as the snow melted, and that makes it a very nice little green indeed.

Like the moderately similar miner's lettuce, mâche is a weed which has begun to be cultivated for it's qualities as a salad green. Unlike miner's lettuce, mâche is not a native of North America. It comes from northern Europe through Asia, where it was a popular foraged spring green, especially in France and England. The name "corn salad" comes from the fact that it was a common weed in grain fields, and the name "lamb's lettuce" suggests it was common in pastures too. They will tolerate a fair bit of shade, although mine grew well enough in the open.

The other thing they have in common is that while you may now be able to buy seed for them, they are hardly cultivated vegetables and really don't behave as such, with their fleeting period of high quality followed by early flowering and copious seeding. I suspect there are 2 main strategies for growing it successfully; the one I intend to follow of just letting it seed itself around the garden, leaving patches to overwinter for early spring picking. This is the low-control option which means it will only be available in the very early spring.

The other way I would consider growing it is in pots or other very controlled growing mediums. Mâche does not so far seem very attractive to slugs, or mice, or other small pests of small plants the way mustards and other Chinese greens do, but the speed at which it grows and its tiny size at maturity should make it suitable for pot culture. It's also a good plant for growing as micro-greens and not uncommonly included in baby salad green mixes. Many people grow it in hoop-houses, or under cover in some way.

I found that pulling up the entire little rosette and pinching off the root left me with very attractive little rosettes. You can shred them and mix them into salads, but they make lovely little garnishes when left whole. The flavour is mild - often described as nutty, which seems to me a bit optimistic - and it will easily blend in with a mix of other salad greens. The texture of the leaves is thin, sturdy but tender, and not succulent like miner's lettuce. They are very nutritious and unlike miner's lettuce contain no oxalic acid.

*Wikipedia suggests that rapunzel is one of the names of mâche. I do not believe this is correct. Every other description of I have seen of rapunzel says it's a form of campanula (bluebells).

Friday, 26 April 2019

Chinese Steamed Spareribs

These are based on the recipe for the little steamed ribs served as part of Dim Sum menus, but I find it hard to get such tiny ribs. Normally they would be steamed on top of the stove and they would cook quite quickly. With full size back ribs, though, I would recommend cooking them slowly in the oven. If you have an Instant Pot, that's the way I cooked these and I have to say I love how fast it its. I'm looking forward to using it in the summer, too, when I will really welcome the fact that it doesn't leave the kitchen "roasting" hot.

Nobody around here complains about having them made with the readily-available larger back ribs, and treated as a main dish. The Cayenne is also not traditional, but we enjoyed the bit of a bite it added. A little ground black pepper will do instead if you don't want it. We had ours with stir-fried cabbage and mushrooms and steamed rice.

I guess this is the first recipe of the new gardening year, in that I garnished it with shallot greens from the garden. If you can't get green onions though, that'll be sad but the ribs are still pretty good without them.

3 to 4 servings
1 hour 15 minutes - to marinate
45 minutes to cook in an Instant Pot
3 hours to cook in the oven

Chinese Steamed Spareribs

Make the Marinade:
3 tablespoons peeled and grated garlic
3 tablespoons peeled and grated ginger
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fermented black bean sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon (more or less) ground Cayenne

Peel and grate the garlic on the finest grater - to a paste, basically. Peel and grate the ginger the same way. Mix them in a large non-reactive bowl with the soy sauce, fermented black bean sauce, sesame oil, and Cayenne. 

Marinate & Cook the Ribs:
1.5 kilos (3 pounds)
1 cup water
3 or 4 green onions

Cut the ribs into pieces with one or two rib-bones each. Mix them into the marinade. Cover and return to the fridge for about 1 hour.

To cook in an Instant-Pot: Put the water in the cooking vessel and put in the rack insert. Place the ribs, along with the marinade, onto it. Close the pot, check the valve is in position, and cook for 20 minutes at high pressure. Allow the pressure to come down naturally; about another 20 minutes before opening the pot.

To cook in the oven: Arrange the ribs in a shallow baking dish on a rack, if possible. Pour the water around them and cover with a lid, if the dish has one, or aluminium foil if it does not. Cook at 250°F for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until very tender.

Wash, trim, and finely chop the green onions and scatter them over the ribs as a garnish when you serve them.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Roasted Rutabaga Fries

By this time of year there isn't much that's still available in the way of storage vegetables, at least not ones that aren't very, very tired. Rutabaga is one of the few. I haven't quite figured out where it stands in the new diet, but I've been eating a lot of it lately anyway. It doesn't make me feel off-kilter the way the last potato dish I made did, so there's that. 

I'd certainly had the idea of roasting rutabaga as fries, but had never quite gotten around to doing it. Fortunately, Molly Watson at The Spruce Eats has done it already and I just did what she told me, although I did turn down the heat a little and I'm glad I did. Yummy!

You do have to like rutabaga - the roasting really intensifies their flavour a lot. One cup (and all these measurements are highly approximate, it's that kind of thing) is probably closer to what most people will eat, but keep in mind they will shrink by about 1/3 in the roasting.

per serving
1 hour - 20 minutes prep time

Roasted Rutabaga Fries

1 to 2 cups rutabaga, when peeled and cut
2 teaspoons mild vegetable oil, about
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
other seasonings, such as paprika, savory, etc

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Peel the rutabaga, whatever quantity you believe will be eaten, and cut it into thin French-fry shapes of about 1/4" across. I found it easiest to cut 3 slices at a time, then stack and cut them in the other direction.

Put all the fries into a mixing bowl and toss with just enough oil to coat them lightly. Spread them out on a large baking tray and sprinkle with whatever seasonings you like; I used the ones mentioned above.

Roast the fries at 425°F for 20 minutes, then turn them over and roast them for another 15 to 20 minutes. Watch them towards the end, as they will darken and burn fairly rapidly. Brown is fine, desirable even, but crunchy, in this case, is not good.

Last year at this time I made Oatmeal Scones.