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Everything posted by Eden

  1. Talking about Garam Masala with Milagai reminded me that Ihad a last bit of the unphotogenic Lamb Saag in the fridge so that was lunch. Milagai also inspired a solution to the artichoke dilemma, reminding me that I could just use fresh artichokes if I fussed over them to avoid woody leaves. so this afternoon along with several other stops, I went & bought a ton of baby chokes and spent this evening trimming & boiling about 120 baby artichokes. The upside of having done this is that we'll have a couple of whole artichokes to fold out into flowers as in the original text, but if I never trim another artichoke in my life it will be too soon. Naturally I have to do another 30 in the morning (one of the boxes of chokes was moldy inside ) It's been a long day & I'm haveing a well deserved Dark & Stormy to relax now & try to catch up on various of your questions.
  2. And here's what I've been up to this morning: It's experimental, but I really wanted a bit of the visual flamboyance of a renaissance feast as well as the fabulous food, so I'm taking your basic sugar skull concept & hoping it will work in the Knight candle mold I picked up. I already owned a bunch of fleur de lis molds that we use for making candies at the Holidays, so I just tucked my extra sugar mix in there to make a few pretty garnish pieces. If they set up OK I have some gold luster dust, that I'll have someone with steadier hands apply on saturday... My kitchen is a sticky mess now of course, but if this works it will be tres cool. I have the adorable little skull molds and have used them to make white chocolate skulls before, but I've never actually made sugar skulls before. Aside from the mess it seems dead easy - if you'll pardon the expression
  3. if you're doing whole artichokes you won't find them frozen so just look for the tenderest ones you can find (preferrably baby chokes) and then take off the outer couple layers of leaves before you start. (as well as chopping off the tips!) ← OK: if starting with fresh baby chokes, do I parboil them before roasting, or will roasting alone suffice? Thnx Milagai ← Parboil (again with LOTS of salt)
  4. they have run of half the house. They live downstairs in the private rooms and are forbidden to enter the upstairs where the kitchen, livingroom, guest room/office etc are located. I like this arrangement for a lot of reasons: kitchen sanitation, the comfort of my guests (some of whom are allergic to furry animals), ferret safety (kitchens and innatentive guests with big feet are dangerous) and of course my ability to get any work done in my office! Bill's office is downstairs, and if you're sitting at his computer & the ferrets want to play they will come tug on your shoes or put cold noses on your ankle until you submit to their will Bindi is doing fine by the way (thank you all for your kind thoughts). she tried to eat an earplug about twice the size of her intestines (potentially fatal) but fortunately her stomach is smarter than her tastebuds & rejected the plan... We've been watching her like a hawk for the last few days & all is well. She refuses however to come out when there's a camera in the room, so here's an older photo of her curled up sleeping like an angel. their fur pattern changed after we named them of course, but Bindi used to have a bit of a dot on her forehead and "V" had a slight V shape to her mask. We named her Venya (lovable) to match Bindi...
  5. if you're doing whole artichokes you won't find them frozen so just look for the tenderest ones you can find (preferrably baby chokes) and then take off the outer couple layers of leaves before you start. (as well as chopping off the tips!)
  6. Oh here's the original recipe text for the artichokes: Scaciofali bonissimi From the recipes of Suor Maria Vittoria della Verde c. 1583 Exquisite Artichokes Boil the artichokes in mutton broth, [or better in water] when they are a little tender fold up the leaves and put over these a little melted-fat and place them on the grill: cook them slowly, over a slow fire, and when they are nearly cooked add pepper and salt in the interior: nothing more. If it is Friday put oil in place of the melted-fat and boil them in water. [Put a little melted-fat in a dish; anoint with rosmary: the melted-fat should be a little liquified]. translation mine - the comments in brackets are comments Suor Maria added after writing out the initial recipe. When not trying to do this in bulk for a banquet, but following the original recipe with whole artichokes, you get these gorgeous crisped flowers - much like carciofi alla giuda.
  7. I thought the exact same thing when I first heard the name especially since I know the parent restaurant (LeGourmand). It's named for the owner's son Sam. Sam+bar=Sambar and I expect most people here don't even notice to be confused. And speaking of Sambar: This is the Surpasse-tout. It has buddha's hand citron infused vodka, peach brandy, rose syrup, cointreau (I think) and dried rose petals floating on top. It smells divine, and as you can see glows in the dark - I felt like I should run home & change into a dress that color coordinated with it - but is not anything like as sweet as you would expect. it has a fairly assertive alcohol taste (almost like a vodka martini) with the floral fruity notes as a backdrop, I was very surprised. And this is my favorite - the black currant margarita the cassis is house made, and the resulting drink is very thick & dark and so decadent. I love black currant, and they use a light hand on the other ingredients so that the fruit is what this drink is all about. Sorry we were to busy enjoying the drink and conversation to remember to photograph it earlier. The flash lightened it up, but it really looks almost dark blood like - I think it's the perfect goth girl drink. "Finish your coctail before it clots honey" Bill had a gingerini as well, and our friend stuck to beer since he was feeling a little poorly. Oh and their frites were absolutely perfect as usual, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, not greasy flavored at all, just the right amount of salt - heaven in a paper cone. To your other questions, our cooking guild was formed a couple decades back as an offshoot of a local history club. I had heard about how good their food was through mutual friends when I lived down in California, so when I moved North I looked them up, and found a wonderful group of people with similar interests to mine, some of whom have become very close friends, and all of whom are great companions of the kitchen. The artichokes are dead easy you drop a packet of frozen (or defrosted artichokes in well salted boiling water with a sprig of rosemary for just a few minutes till they're defrosted/warmed through. then you take a fresh sprig of rosemary and use it as a pastry brush to baste a cookie sheet with good olive oil, lay the (drained) chokes out and season them with salt and pepper and baste them as well before popping them into a 350f oven. then you pull the chokes out every 5 minutes and baste them with the rosemary/oil for the next 30 - 40 minutes till they're done. you can salt & pepper them again about halfway through if you like things salty. they should look about this color, or slighly less dark when finished - they should NOT look this greasy. the result is supposed to be this wonderful crunchy, salty, subtly rosemary infused little snack bite of artichoke heaven. When cooking for myself at home, I have been known to use garam masala instead of Poudre Forte or vice versa if I was out of one or the other & in a hurry I actually use indian curries and spice mixes as a starting point when trying to describe certain aspects of medieval food to people. A lot of folks look at these recipes that call for 6 or more spices in one dish & find it intimidating until you put it into perspective for them... That's actually another change you see as you transition from medieval to renaissance cooking is that in medieval cooking you almost always see a spice mis like Poudre Forte, or a long list of spices, but in the Renaissance they began using fewer spices at a time & focusing in on just one or two specific ones per dish.
  8. It's amazing how much the quality of something this simple can vary from one manufacturer to another. I tried the recipe tongiht using C&W frozen artichoke hearts and while they're workable, there's a notable difference in quality. They soak up a lot more oil and at the same time a lot less rosemary flavor. Twinky. I think my local grocery store has a third brand I might try tomorrow...
  9. From what I"ve been told, its only a partial translation..only selected recipes. why?? If you are geek enough to want the book, you want the whole book! How/where did you find all of these books? What fun! I've been collecting odd, old Italian cookbooks and they are really addictive. A fully open window into understanding another time and culture. ← I use inter-library loan extensively. There are a lot of university libraries out there with reproductions & transcriptions of obscure historical manuscripts, if you know what you're looking for to ask. (I send my ILL librarians a box of chocolates every year at the holidays because they do amazing amounts of work for me!) Being in Italy you might be able to find a book called L'arte della cucina in Italia edited by Emilio Faccioli. It contains partial transcriptions from a huge collection of Italian cookbooks & manuscripts ranging from the 13th to the19th centuries. From there you have titles & bibliographic info to try & track down the originals. There's also a lot on the web these days. Thomas Gloning's online bibliography is a great place to start. Oh and Hathor, since Gelato was already out of season for your blog, here's a Seattle gelato case I meet with different friends a couple times a week to practice our Italian (use it or lose it!) and one of the cafes we frequent sells gelato as well as coffee. Gelato is always in season in my world (FYI that's from Cafe Van Gogh, which serves Procoppio's gelato) I had limone, with a little lemon seed hiding in it just to prove it was made form the real thing...
  10. Welcome to my first banquet crisis: Trader Joe's is out of the frozen artichokes that my roasted baby artichoke recipe is based around (ALL the local trader joe's stores AND their warehouse are out) I've grabbed some frozen artichokes from the QFC to see if they behave the same. they cost notably more of course, and are cut slightly differently, which may mess with my portioning (I'll be staying up late tonight making a test batch) We actually found that for this recipe the frozen worked better than fresh, because the baby chokes you can get here are still fairly tough (not like the fabulously tender ones I've had in Italy) and the frozen ones are soft all the way up the leaf... Keep your collective fingers crossed for me.
  11. you just caught me being lazy in my recipe writing. Notes like that are supposed to read "2.5 tsp in original" so that our cooks can figure out which entry for rosewater they're looking for fairly easily. The program can't mess with the internal recipe text only the quantities.
  12. Actualy the top of all our recipes has a big warning to start at about 60% on the spicing & work up from there for just this reason (I cut it from the screenshot). We've found that produce also does not scale up well, particularly when your initial recipe calls for 5 apples or 6 leeks, the resulting 120 leeks are always too many, plus the produce guys HATE when you ask for things like that rather than by weight. We are trying to convert all new recipes to weight based instructions wherever possible, but people can be very set in their ways... We also have a note at the top of each recipe that says to stop and read the entire recipe before you do anything - you can guess how well that works in practice My problem with Mastercook last time I looked at it was that it didn't do pricing. Of course that was probably 10 revisions ago. Also our program breaks the shopping list into some pretty amazing detail: how much of an ingredient will be used in which recipe, and the expected price per lb (or whatever) as well as when & where that item was last priced.
  13. Wow there are a TON of names for these I hadn't come across before, ("toad in a hole" I knew) I particularly like Kouign's "goldmine sandwiches", and shellfishfiend's "nest eggs" are very cute. I agree that it's nice if you can toast up the center to dip in your yolk, but I always end up eating it while I'm waiting for the rest to finish cooking
  14. None of my food this week is photogenic (except the ice-cream (more of which later today) Last night I did not have my camera with me because we were just going to tango class, but after dancing we were ravenous so we stopped & grabbed dinner at The Chile Pepper, a good but very unsung restaurant in the Wallingford neighborhood. Here's my leftovers, which I'm having for breakfast: Chille Relleno made with red ancho chile I'm not a big Relleno fan normally. I like them, but I don't go out of my way... This is special. the dark fruity flavor of the ancho chile against the cheese inside is so wonderful. My mom comes up to visit from california maybe every other year & this is one of the absolute MUST stops while she's here... Oh, Bill had their Mole Poblano which has absolutely no detectable sugar, it's so dark & complex - yumm! I'll be gone most of the morning/early afternoon shopping, catch y'all later
  15. no no, we're doing the majority of the cooking onsite where they have a commercial kitchen. (the pre-cooking stuff is happening here at my house, but it's fairly contained.) There's a picture of the stove area for the kitchen upthread somewhere, here's the backside of that room with the main sink area (there's another big sink area in the back room!) the commercial dishwasher is just to the left of the sink you see in this photo. Did I mention that I love this kitchen
  16. I just grabbed that one quickly. usually we'll go through the program right before printing and have the database adjust the fields that have annoying quantities into something more reasonable Tbsp or cups or Dozens etc. but a couple of them always slip by us so we also have a few measuring tools that show up to about 120 tsps on the side
  17. actually that photo is from a recipe testing night a couple months back, but it's absolutely stellar. In this case yes must & saba are the same as vincotto. (But when used as winemaking term it's not.) Now I'm really really turning in for the night, really
  18. Bill reminds me that I was going to show you a piece of our kitchen schedule. we'll post a big copy of this on the wall of the kitchen so everyone can see what still needs doing, and check things off as we go along. The color coding is used to keep an eye on equipment bottlenecks so we don't try to fit too many things into the ovens or on the stoves at one time. For the recipes, rather than doing all the expansion by hand we have a proprietary database that expands our recipes & creates shopping lists as well as pricing/budgeting for us. Back when it was first written there was nothing that could do everything we needed available to the general public. I gather there are some professional tools these days that are comparable, but now all our recipes are in here so switching would be a hassle. Here's the pizza recipe in final form: you'll notice that there are notes specific to this years banquet tucked in there because we'll subtley change how we do a dish each time depending on the kitchen we're working with, and other resource limitations, so rather than making a new version of the recipe each year we just add in little notes like "Banquet 2006 - Eden will have the rosewater spritzer, don't do this by hand!" or whatever... Oh and I meant to clarify, this is a team effort. the research and menu creation was totally my baby & I'm certainly a major portion of the kitchen planning team, but I'm not alone in this, in fact on Saturday itself, another person will be the actual "Kitchen Head" and in charge of wrangling the staff, keeping us on time etc. I can do all of that but I don't actually enjoy it nearly as much as the research & planning bits, so I'm passing off to another team member who has more patience than I in this arena (thank goodness!) I'll move into a more consulting role at that point since I have direct familiarity withall the recipes as well as the big picture plan. My friend Melinda however will be the one to say "start the pizzas cooking now" and have to be nice if some helpful person slices the onions in the wrong shape (definitely not my strong suit...) Our group has been cooking banquets like this for almost 30 years (I'm a johnny-come-lately at only 15 or so) and we have a lot of experience working together and making great food.
  19. I usually try not to "geek out" on people who aren't into this. When my friend David (a fellow researcher & my cowriter on a couple articles) and I really get going Bill runs screaming from the room (he says he doesn't scream, but I know his eyes roll back in his head ) Must is Wine Must, which can be either the juice pressed from wine grapes (pre fermentation) or a mix of the juice with the skins pulp etc. i.e. raw wine. In the case of italian Renn. cooking it generally refers to a reduced wine must also known as saba or sapa. You can find very nice Saba here in the US at some specialty Italian Import shops (like DeLaurenti's here in Seattle) but the good stuff is quite pricey. The cheap stuff tastes a lot like concentrated concord grape juice for kids. I'm using an actual (albeit fairly cheap) saba in the dressing for the carrot salad because it's going out uncooked, but for the pizza where it's mixed in with a bunch of other ingredients & baked I'm using middle eastern grape molasses. yes, summer savory. and to answer another question we're probably going to use good local frozen peaches, there were a few peaches left in the market on sunday, but probably won't be by the end of this week. Chicken on a raft in my family (I've heard other opinions) is a piece of toast with a hole ripped out of the middle that you pour an egg into & then fry up. I like to add a little cheddar, Bill prefers his with just salt & pepper. Time to go play with the ferrets & tuck in for the night...
  20. I try really hard not to make absolute statements when it comes to food history - the only people who know what they ate with total certainty are long dead after all - but I'm pretty certain from my reading that this dish is specifically made from the "girly bits" of female pigs. A 1598 Italian-English dictionary specifically describes the dish in question as "a kind of meate made of the paps of a sow, powdered and broiled". edited for clarity
  21. Here's a photo for you from while we were testing the recipe. that's candied ginger strewn over the top, so it has 3 forms of ginger, fresh, ground and candied. the original text just says ginger...
  22. Well she is my baby, but no, that is Venya (aka "V"), her twin sister Bindi is my avatar, and they're about three and a half years old. However they are the cutest ferrets you could hope to find! I bet that smells heavenly (tho not as good as the saffron). What is "grains of paradise"? Grains of Paradise is Aframomum Melegueta aka Melegueta Pepper. it's peppery and gingery and allspicey all at once. edited for keyboard incompetence
  23. Backing up, here is my breakfast - chicken on a raft with cheese, and some raspberries and here is Venya begging for my raspberries which she then spit out when I broke down & gave her a piece - ungrateful wretch
  24. this afternoons haul was tiny but very precious: a full ounce of saffron, Poudre Forte (a medieval spice mix of pepper, ginger, cinnamon, clove and grains of paradise)) and silver jordan almonds (which have doubled in price since I last bought them - they're now $30 US/lb - OWW!) I zipped through Pike Place Market for the saffron and the almonds, but since Henry & Lorna posted great photos of the market recently I will just show you where I stopped to grab lunch - Cafe Yarmarka, Russian yummies This is lunch back at home one beef and cheese, one potato and cheese, plus I whipped us up a salad because russian food is good but HEAVY...
  25. The diners bring their own plates & cutlery, but my food history group (referred to herinafter as The Guild for ease of typing) does have our own serving dishes & cookware. we have between 25 and 30 different serving dishes in batches of about 20 each. It takes up most of one of the members garages: Every box you see there is filled with pottery serving bowls, or little ramequins or measuring cups or pie pans, etc. In fact the reason there's a giant green salad spinner ih the picture of my dining room above is that we're running out of room in the garage, so big new items are now living at my house... and now I must run off to buy more ingredients for the banquet, I will get to more of your questions later this afternoon & maybe show you some of the planning tools & techniques we use... I gotta go see a man about some saffron! edited for typos
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