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Everything posted by Alcuin

  1. Another German word; it should be "Mee-luh." The accent's on the "ie" and the second "e" is close to a schwa sound.
  2. I often make them with a burnt fig jam or my own smoky quince jam (quince jam cooked with Lapsang Souchong tea to get a lovely smoky flavor. Several months ago I got some Skillet Bacon Jam and used one jar exclusively in omelets. Delicious! That sounds fantastic. I'm definitely going to play with this. It sounded offputting at first, but once I thought of something other than grape jelly, the possibilities seem endlessly interesting. Thanks!
  3. Cool list. It looks like there's some space there though to squeeze in mid-August, Great Taste of the Midwest, Madison WI It's a beer festival that's really one of a kind.
  4. I wondered what a jelly omelet was too so I looked it up. It's an omelet with jelly or jam as the filling. I can really see this working with a jalapeno jam I bought and some queso fresco on top...I'm going to have to do that sometime soon.
  5. Brown and flat if I'm topping/filling it with veg like ratatouille or sauteed peppers. Pale if I'm doing cheese, mushrooms, herbs, or plain. I don't like a brown omelet plain. I happen to be eating a pale omelet as I write this. I considered a brown one, and decided against it-both are good though.
  6. Alcuin

    Clam Sauce for pasta

    All this talk about basil and clam sauce probably means I should try it with some of the last of my summer basil, as much as it seems strange to me...Tomorrow perhaps.
  7. Alcuin

    Clam Sauce for pasta

    That makes sense. I have to say I haven't ever made this dish and used basil: always parsley. Really I could see using basil easily or even marjoram. But this is one of those elemental dishes I learned in time immemorial, so I just can't switch over.
  8. Alcuin

    Clam Sauce for pasta

    Well I have to say I don't love basil with my linguine and clams. It's parsley all day for me. I do love basil though: I'll just deploy some whole leaves in the salad alongside my pasta with clam sauce.
  9. Try Rare Wine Co.'s Madeiras: they are great. My favorite is the NY Malmsey which is on the sweeter side but much less so than most Madeiras you might drink. Their Charleston is squarely in the dry category; better as an aperitif than postprandial, though it's great of course with a cheese plate.
  10. Alcuin

    Clam Sauce for pasta

    I like to start with olive oil with some garlic and crushed red pepper, then add some white wine, then the clams (shucked with juice or in the shell or bot) and steam (at this point some fillets of canned tomato can be a nice addition too), then some parsley, salt, then add long pasta. You can leave out some of those ingredients and it will still be delicious.
  11. Glad to see some Sprecher's love: I've never had a better rootbeer either.
  12. Wow beautiful food, especially that perfect chicken skin. That's definitely on the list of things to try. Looking forward to the rest of the blog!
  13. Well we are after all talking about food for a king. A quick wikipedia search turns up the fact that Anthimus was working at the court of Theodoric the Great, and I'd be very surprised if there was no access to spoons. Spoons were certainly available at this time and served all sorts of purposes. For an example from my neck of the historical woods, the Sutton Hoo ship burial turned up silver bowls and spoons that seem to have been imported from the east. Kings, queens, and nobles wore Byzantine fashions, used combs (sometimes made out of elephant ivory), and were decked out in beautiful raw gold and gems. If they wanted a spoon, they would have one. I doubt they'd be reduced to eating with vines, especially if it was something peasants did. A dish this labor intensive, using chicken and seafood, would not be a peasant dish. I'm not a historian, and I don't have systematic knowledge of medieval food history, but I know enough about early medieval culture to know that this is not a peasant dish. And it is even possible, maybe even likely, that this dish was not an ostragothic specialty because Anthimus was a Byzantine. Medieval texts were more a part of a tradition than they were documentary in the way we might think of a writer observing what he sees and writing it down. Anthimus would likely have made no bones about putting a recipe he read in a book into his book with no attribution and no regard for its regionality. So the idea that someone from a king's court was observing people eating with vines and then writing it down is just not very likely. Nevertheless, the phrase "novella tenera" is obscure. In fact the whole line is, since "manduco" could mean chew, "cochleari" could mean any spiral shaped thing since it looks like its just a substantive adjective, and "novella tenera" could mean any kind of new tender thing, since those are just two adjectives (even if novella is used as a substantive that could imply "vitis" (vine), it's still an adjective and there's got to be an indication that it means vine from context, or else you could mistake it for meaning anything feminine and young, like a young animal or something). It looks to me (though I admit not to have studied this text in depth) that this line is just cryptic: you would have to have known what he meant to make sense of it in the first place (many many medieval texts are like this). So maybe we'll never know what Anthimus thought it meant. But to my mind, the evidence works against the idea that he's talking about eating with vines here. And unless there's other evidence of using vines as utensils, it would be a major leap to say so out of this one obscure text. Sorry for the nerdgasm here, but this is pretty close to my area of study and its very rare that it seems of any use. From one student of the middle ages to another, good luck figuring out what the hell is going on in this text!
  14. Weird reference. Novella can mean any kind of diminutive new thing, but the writer will always indicate what the thing is unless it can be naturally inferred. In this context, to infer that we're talking about vines here seems a bit strange to me. What would you do, dip the vines in the sauce and slurp it off? How would you eat the chicken pieces? And especially if they're young and tender, unless you're eating the vines, I'd think their new tenderness would be a liability. And a dish like this would be a status symbol in a major way, available only to the superrich (chicken was not a food many people could afford until recent times): eating it with some vines when the diners would surely have access to spoons seems kind of ridiculous. I'm sure there's a translation of this text. What does the translator say? Also, it may be he's not even talking about utensils. My guess is he's talking about some kind of accompaniment: cochlea is any spiral shaped thing, so maybe he's talking about eating this dish with a tender young snail! If not that, I'm pretty sure he's not suggesting people eat this dish with a vine.
  15. You'll have to flash forward about 500 years for that ( ). As for the seasonality of charcuterie production, this is pretty much how I do it. I don't have air conditioning, so sausage making or hanging meat is out in the summer. I'll do a little bit in the winter, but I usually wait until right about now when it starts to get cool (and in the spring when it's not too cold to open up the windows). Even with the windows closed, the thermostat was at 59 this morning when I woke up. These are just the right temperatures to do some serious charcuterie.
  16. Van Der Hum is the only thing I know about that you might be interested in. It is a tangerine-based liqueur with a brandy base. I have a bottle and pretty much never use it, though tasted solo I found it to be pleasant enough. I don't drink liqueur solo though (unless it's Green Chartreuse over crushed ice in a lime shell...). I'm also unsure of the availability in the US so it may or may not be a rare thing you'd want to travel with. Edited to add: I'd wager there's some interesting brandy made there. Why not hit a bar and see what you like?
  17. How much of your starter do you use in your final dough? I use a lot (200g flour/100ml H20 + culture for a bread that totals 625g flour/450ml H20 including the starter). I find that if I let this initial build go too long, I get a very slack dough without the structure to hold up as well as usual. It's definitely a fine balance to strike sometimes. I'd let it go until it gets to the look/feel you're used to when you bake without retarding it. I would definitely check it after 24 hours. edited for clarity
  18. Don't tempt me! Another stupid idea. What with it being made of a cultured milk product and containing garlic, it's sort of reminding me of those delicious middle eastern sauces made of yoghurt and garlic that are stabilised (with egg or cornflour or whatever) and heated up to make a hot sauce. There's one in Madhur Jaffrey's 'Eastern Vegetarian' cookbook that goes over stuffed courgettes and is delicious. I'm thinking if you gently heated ranch dressing before adding the chopped herbs and lime juice and then add the herbs off the heat at the end (lime juice probably wouldn't be needed here) you would get a pretty damn delicious warm sauce. Sacrilege? Insanity? I may try it anyway. Sounds like a great idea to me, but I don't believe in sacrilege. You could hit is with the lime at the end if you thought it was necessary. I'm very interested to know how that experiment turns out. This thread has me thinking I need to make some ranch sometime very soon...
  19. Make it but don't use mayo: use sour cream or creme fraiche or crema or the like to thicken it if you think its necessary. It is quite thin being no thicker than buttermilk. Depending on how I'm using it, I might thicken or not. As for drinking it, I have been known to drink up what I didn't use: it is delicious.
  20. I have to say I was blown away the first time I made caramelized onion dip off the top of my head (sour cream, lots of caramalized onions, pinch of herbes de provence, a little vinegar if necessary, s&p): it was pretty much a spittin' image of the powdered product (which I didn't buy because I couldn't find any!: I no longer seek it out). Absent some of the little grace notes like the herbs or vinegar, and the bits of onion in the dip, I really don't think you'd know it wasn't out of a packet. Same goes with the ranch dressing, except for the thick consistency (too thick for me). This is one of the marvels of modern science.
  21. Yes, the Joy recipe quoted there has you mash the garlic with a bit of salt, then just combine everything. And here in the US the only buttermilk readily available is cultured (though I wouldn't describe it as "yoghurt-like"). Use what you think tastes good, of course. I make the Joy recipe a few times a year: it does in fact taste like commercial ranch, but better because the flavors are cleaner and sharper since they weren't concocted in a lab and compounded in a factory by machines. You can also adjust the proportions to taste (natch). I puree the garlic with the back of my knife and a little salt, and if I want to thicken it I'll use sour cream not mayo. It makes for a great dressing for an American inflected composed salad. Green Goddess is also great, but I haven't made it in a few years.
  22. I live in Madison, WI right down the street (~5 minute walk, maybe 1 minute bike ride if I hit the light) from the magnificent Willy St Coop. So while it's undoubtedly cheaper to shop at Asian markets and supermarkets, I often fail to plan far enough ahead to shop there. The coop is definitely more expensive than most places because almost everything is organic and as local as possible, but I end up going there any way. And it's too easy to fall into the impulse buy trap, especially the cheese aisle...
  23. Alcuin

    Frying Tomato Paste

    This is a great technique and of course the French have a term for it: pincage.
  24. Escoffier himself pointed the way beyond roux-based sauces: Even then he saw that alternative thickening agents would replace flour-based roux for some things. It only makes sense. And if I went to a restaurant and got a roux-based sauce for meat, fish, or veg, I'd be pretty surprised. In fact, in my short life I don't think I've ever been served a roux-based sauce (though there might be some mac and cheese in my past that would prove me wrong-that's the way I make it at home sometimes too).
  25. My favorite root beer is Sprecher's: caramel vanilla richness that goes quite well with vanilla ice cream (especially if it's University of Wisconsin Babcock ice cream).
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