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  1. The James Beard Foundation is hosting a 2002 Chef and Champagne Event on Saturday, July 27, 5-8 pm. The venue is the Wolffer Estate Winery at Sagaponack, NY. The cost is $150/person for JB Foundation members, and $200 for guests. The honored chef is Boulud. I am uncertain what champagne or food, if any, will be available. If eGulleteers are interested in attending and are sure about their attendance, I could consider purchasing guest tickets on their behalf. I will post additional information as it becomes available.
  2. One of my favorite dinner party dishes is a wonderful, robust chicken curry. I like to display an array of condiments. It's really fun and rather impressive to go along the line, picking a little of this and choosing a little of that. What condiments do you usually offer?
  3. Went to the NEW location of GUSS PICKLE....stocked up on Sauerkraut for my turkey semi Reubens, full sours, green tomaters, and HOT peppers. When I sampled one...I was heard BLISSFULLY gasping HOLY SH*T THATS GOOD! HOLY SH*T THATS GOOD as a heavy smoke condition emitted from my ears and ten years worth of sinus congestion suddenly cleared. I then hauled home the last they had....a heavy quart. Now that I can see again...I need to figure out what to do with the little incendiary bombs. I cant have prosciutto or provolone....what else *IS* there????
  4. I have tried losts of them and Grey poupon is still my all time favorite... Ive tried Pommery, Food and Wine mustards and French mustards but still cant beat Grey Poupon w white wine in my opinion.... Am I missing something... Help!
  5. how do you make flavored mayo? will duke's work or should i make it from scratch. what's the best way to make a basil wasabi mayonnaise? drop cut basil and wasabi powder (paste) in to mayo and stir? what about chipotle mayo? i'm asking for a generalized technique for the newbies. thanks
  6. After reading Stellabella's post on figs where she mentions fig preserves I thought I would ask about preserves and canning...I have never tried it as I have always been afraid I would poison myself (or friends) with botulism. How hard is it to do? What are the most important things to remember so I don't make anyone ill? Any tips for making what seems complicated (to me ) easier? And what would be the best thing to try first (the one with the best chance of success). Thanks in advance for the help! Edit to correct spelling
  7. I'm a jam aficionado. I buy new jams all the time and sample them. I had a Polish friend over for lunch today, and we chatted about Polish jams. She mentioned a rose preserve I need to try. Not rose hips, rose petals. Apparently it's a special type of rose that has a bitter pithy "white" on the petals which must be removed before putting the jam by. She spreads a thin layer on her homemade cheesecakes. I told her about the Aronia jam I'd picked up recently at the Polish deli in the next burb over. (Here's a thread about the deli: http://forums.egullet.org/ibf/index.php?ac...4bda8f21e659963 ) I purchased some ginger preserves at a "gourmet" market some time ago and we cracked it open on Thursday when I broke in my new waffle maker. Heaven is a hot crisp waffle slathered with ginger preserves. These were made by Wilkin & Sons. The cubes of ginger were gorgeously yellow-gold-translucent on top of the brown waffle. My favorite jam of all time is the black raspberry from Ferry Landing Farm in Virginia. The farm owner sells at my local farm market. It's dark and sour and just sweet enough and really thick with crushed fruit. The season is kicking in and he says his wife will start cranking it out soon. I can hardly wait. What are your favorite jams? Why? Where do you get them?
  8. Mustard oil keeps showing up all over the India board. Is it a flavored oil, or, as I suspect, oil pressed from mustard seeds? Does it have a mustard flavor? I am intrigued. I like to spread fish with prepared Dijon mustard before broiling it. I remember seeing a post (by Simon?) about frying fish in mustard oil, but I haven't been able to locate it. Can someone fill me in, please? What other uses are there for mustard oil? As Waverly Root pointed out in The Food of France, much of the character of an area's cuisine is determined by the type of cooking oil used. I believe this is true in India, as well. You mentioned that mustard oil is used in the north, for example. Does "ghee" properly ever refer to anything but clarified butter? (I have seen labels, saying "vegetable ghee." What other oils are regularly used? Are certain oils preferred in certain regions? Are certain oils used for certain foods?
  9. Oscar Madison called it "tomato wine." I love it. I love it on everything. I splosh it on my burgers. I plosh it on my vindaloo. I mosh it into my ice cream. I splorge it on my morning cereal. I squeeze it over corn, under towers of steak tartare, around store-bought pastry-puffs of mushroom and crab, and into doughnuts because what's jelly anyway but a misguided attempt at fruit-ketchup. I drench it on broccoli and quench my thirst with it. I've done away with Crest in favor of Heinzing my teeth every morning. 57 varieties for 30 teeth. I've filled my jacuzzi with a delightfully sweet tomotao froth. Some people think ketchup should be banned. That's crazy talk if you ask me. What say we petition the government to declare Ketchup the truly American food (hamburger and frankfurter sound too tuetonic for such an honor).
  10. My friend Pearl, who loves peanut butter and pickle sandwiches, recommends bread and butter pickles, not sweet pickles. She sez there's a difference, but she doesn't know what. The sandwiches are terrific. Anyone out there know?
  11. What's the point here? A sweet note amid the fishy astringency? Totally out of place. Piquancy? Use lemon juice -- or capers, if you must. But not pickles. They stand out like little sweet 'n' sour jujubes. Here's another one: soft-shell crabs. Fingernails that taste like crab are still fingernails -- fingernails the size of a Kosher pickle.
  12. I finally dived into the wonderful world of making homemade ketchup. Everything was going fine until I hit "spices" on the label. I've been eating tubfuls of this stuff for decades and I've never been able to detect any particular spice notes. Any ideas?
  13. James Villas: Extracts from Between Bites James Villas’ memoir recounts his experiences of life, love, and libations beginning with 1961 cross-Atlantic trip to France and spanning over the next 40 years. The author offers vignettes of his intimate relationships with the famous personalities who have impacted his admittedly unconventional views of the evolution of cuisine. With his southern storyteller’s warmth and humor, he chronicles his own hedonistic adventures, including these three extracts. "Between Bites - Memoirs of a Hungry Hedonist" was published by Wiley in May, 2003. Editor's note: "Craig" mentioned in the extract below, is the late Craig Claiborne, Food Columnist for the New York Times and author of numerous books. He was a good friend of the author and they used to cook together in the Hamptons. "Don" is Don Erickson, who was the executive editor at Esquire. He mentored James as a young food writer. "Pierre" is Pierre Franey, a French chef who became famous as the chef of Le Pavillon restaurant in New York City from 1945 to 1960. While I'm the first to credit Craig as being one of the most brilliant, exacting, and dedicated journalists I've ever known, it's also true that this legend who taught America so much about cooking was himself not a very accomplished cook and would never have attained such heights of success had Pierre (and other professional chefs) not been at the stove. Not that Craig couldn't turn out a perfect breakfast omelette or, so long as he followed a recipe to the letter and was given plenty of time, produce delicious moules marinieres, a correct osso buco, and genuine chili con carne. What he lacked was Pierre's natural instincts for the mechanics of cooking, the ability to conceptualize a dish and bring about its execution deftly, comfortably, and with a sense of total control. From vast exposure to good food, Craig generally knew whether a dish was right or wrong-and he could explain in detail the reasons why-but when it came to actually reproducing a brandade de morue, chicken Pojarski, or even Brunswick stew, the amount of time he would spend analyzing the recipe, his nervous assemblage of components' and his awkward cooking gestures betrayed an insecurity in the kitchen that could have translated into serious problems without the help of the experts who usually surrounded him. Nor was Craig's interpretation of certain dishes always as valid as implied in some of the recipes he published, as when he once decided to reproduce authentic North Carolina chopped pork barbecue after a trip to Goldsboro and stubbornly insisted on using two loins instead of fatty shoulders and on cooking the meat in the oven. "But Craig, you can't use loin," I protested when he called to tell me his plans for a dish I was weaned on. "The flavor and texture will be all wrong, and the meat's got to be slowly roasted somewhere over hickory or oak coals and mopped with sauce-even if it's an ordinary kettle grill. " No amount of argument could convince him. Shoulder had too much fat for health-conscious readers, he insisted, and there'd be too much waste. He wasn't about to dig a pit outdoors, nobody wanted to go to all the trouble. of searching for wood chips, and besides, he had figured out exactly how he could barbecue lean pork loins in the oven for five hours at 250° degrees, then simulate a smoky flavor by placing the roast for a while on a charcoal grill. Suffice it that, in utter frustration and near anger, I finally capitulated and left him to pursue his fantasy. In late afternoon on the day of the big feast, scheduled at 8:00 P.M. and attended mainly by non-Southerners, he called to say that the barbecue looked and smelled "fantastic" and asked if I'd mind driving over with my hatchet so he could chop it properly. When I arrived at the back door, Craig, smiling proudly, offered a piece of meat he'd pulled off for me to taste. "That's delicious roast pork, some of the best I've eaten," I declared truthfully, "but it's not Carolina barbecue." "Oh, you're just a prejudiced Tarheel from the western part of the state," he mumbled, slightly wounded by my candid verdict. "My version is like the eastern -style barbecue they do in Goldsboro." Since the damage has been done, I determined not to pursue the matter, nor to ask why traditional Brunswick stew and hush puppies were not on his menu along with what turned out to be a credible barbecue sauce, delectable cole slaw and potato salad, and exemplary pecan pie. Then came the ultimate shock after all the excited guests were seated. To wash down all this earthy Southern food was not standard iced tea, or beer, or even water, but. . . French champagne! I truly thought this man from Mississippi had lost his mind. Still, I held my tongue as Craig and the others relished the food and bubbly with imperceptive glee, just as I bit the bullet of professional friendship when Craig ended the feature he soon published with a little more than poetic license: "It so happens that James Villas, food editor of Town & Country, is a good friend and neighbor, a native North Carolinian, and, if you will pardon the expression, a barbecue freak. I invited him over for a sample, and he pronounced my barbecue the best home-cooked version he had ever sampled. That is high praise." To point out a few of Craig's salient limitations might seem scabby and disrespectful, the only justification being that his flawed example taught me that an eminent food journalist need no more necessarily be a master chef than an acclaimed connoisseur of Bach is expected to perform the composer’s preludes and fugues with immaculate precision. Even after some formal training, I knew at an early stage in my career that I would never become—nor aspire to be—a gifted chef, a realization that might well have affected my ambitions and abilities as a food writer had I not witnessed how Craig Claiborne dealt so naturally and sensibly with the issue. My Authentic Carolina Chopped Pork Barbeque (Serves at least 8) The Barbecue One small bag hickory-chips (available at nurseries and hardware stores) One 10-pound bag charcoal briquets One 6- to 7-pound boneless pork shoulder (butt or picnic cut), securely tied with butcher's string The Sauce 1 quart cider vinegar 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce 1 cup catsup 2 tablespoons prepared mustard 3 tablespoons light brown sugar 2 tablespoons salt Freshly ground pepper to taste 1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes Soak 6 handfuls of hickory chips in water for 30 minutes. Open one bottom and one top vent on a kettle grill. Place a small drip pan in the bottom of the grill, stack charcoal briquets evenly around the pan, and ignite. When the coals are gray on one side (after about 30 minutes), turn them over and sprinkle 2 handfuls of soaked chips evenly over the hot coals. Situate the pork shoulder skin-side up in the center of the grill about 6 inches directly over the drip pan (not over the hot coals), lower the lid, and cook slowly for 4 hours, replenishing the coals and soaked chips as they burn up but never allowing coals to get too hot. Turn the pork, lower the lid, and cook 2 hours longer. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a large, nonreactive saucepan. Stir well, bring to the simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 2 hours. Transfer the pork to a working surface, make deep gashes in the meat with a sharp knife, and baste liberally with the sauce. Replenish the coals and chips as needed (maintaining a low heat). Replace the pork skin-side-down on the grill, and cook for 3 hours longer, basting with the sauce from time to time. Transfer the pork to a chopping board and remove the string. Remove and discard most (but not all) of the skin and excess fat and chop the meat coarsely with an impeccably clean hatchet, Chinese cleaver, or large, heavy chef's knife. Add just enough sauce to moisten the meat further, toss till well blended, and either serve the barbecue immediately with the remaining sauce on the side or refrigerate and reheat in the top of a double boiler over simmering water when ready to serve. (The barbecue freezes well up to 3 months.) Serve the barbecue (plain or on a hamburger roll) with Brunswick stew, cole slaw, and hush puppies. When it came to his writers, Don took everything personally, even to the point of criticizing work of mine he happened to notice in other magazines. "Your Jovan piece is a knock-out, and it's good to see you so deft in conveying character," he once began a letter on a profile I'd done on a famous Chicago restaurateur. "I have to be honest and say that you've written the best words of your descriptive career for someone else and not for me. They are, of course, 'cushioned tirades.' I wonder if you know how good that is. But you don't get away unscathed. Your editor should have seen that 'individual (kitchen) duties strictly defined' and 'working as a team' are not, as you would have it, two different things necessarily. And I think' nefarious' is the wrong word for the place you've put it." Such frank, unsolicited memos from Don arriving out of the blue became routine, pithy commentaries that he simply felt compelled to write and that, perhaps more than anything else, taught me what a truly dedicated editor and friend are all about. Although Don was as obsessed as Alexandre Dumaine with classic French cuisine and revered every recipe Julia Child ever composed or demonstrated on TV, this hardly meant that he was not interested in and receptive to any gastronomic topic that might make a substantial impact in the magazine. As a result, over the next few years I produced a slew of articles that were as disparate in subject as they were often controversial in nature. Under Don's weighty influence and guidance, I wrote about making my own wine, working undercover at a fancy French restaurant, the joys of eating raw meat, menu ripoffs in restaurants, college cafeteria slop, the horrors of yogurt, Carolina pig versus Texas beef barbecue, how stupid government regulations were destroying great country hams, and the evils of the martini. "Fried chicken!" I remember hearing someone yell in the distance. Looking across all the roaring traffic to the other side of a busy midtown street in Manhattan, I spotted Don rushing somewhere with Nora Ephron, his hands cupped at his mouth. "Fried chicken!" he repeated loudly. "Do fried chicken! We'll talk later." And that's how I was assigned an article that almost brought on a second Civil War and, thanks to Don, was so unorthodox in style that it was eventually anthologized in a number of college textbooks. Obviously, the subject of fried chicken had been mulling in his brain for weeks. I’m bored to death with dull, formulaic food writing," he exploded when we sat down to discuss what he wanted. "Let's really break some balls in this piece, take a definitive stand, and present it in a way that keeps the reader guessing what in hell is going on." This, he explained, would mean first setting myself up daringly as the world authority on fried chicken, followed immediately by the in-depth, perfect recipe itself, followed by an intricate analysis of the recipe details, followed finally by a scathing attack on what's wrong with all other fried chicken. In other words, everything in reverse. This also meant demonstrating for Don himself the entire cooking procedure, from actually cutting up the chicken to seasoning and battering to frying and draining on paper bags-all before I committed one word to the page. And to pass this initial test, which would prove to him without any doubt that I really knew what I was writing about, nothing would do but for me to show up in his small, nondescript apartment in Greenwich Village at the crack of dawn with three whole chickens, the right heavy cast-iron skillet, the right styles of shortening and flour, the right seasonings and buttermilk, and of course, the exact right paper bags for shaking and draining the chicken. Suffice it that by eight o'clock A.M. in that tiny, unventilated kitchen, I had cooked up some twenty-four pieces of golden, moist, crisp-skinned chicken, three of which Don devoured with approval for breakfast before heading for the office. As for myself, I couldn't face eating fried chicken again for months. The Quintessential Southern Fried Chicken (Shortened Version) (Serves 4) One 3-pound fryer chicken, preferably freshly killed 3 teaspoons salt Freshly ground pepper to taste 3 cups buttermilk 1/2 lemon, seeds removed 3 cups (1 1/2 pounds) Crisco shortening 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 cup bacon grease Cut the chicken into 8 serving pieces, rinse the pieces under cold running water, dry thoroughly with paper towels, and season with 1 teaspoon of the salt plus pepper. Pour the buttermilk into a large bowl and squeeze the lemon into it. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl to soak, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow to return to room temperature. While melting the shortening over high heat to measure 1/2 inch in a large cast-iron skillet (add more shortening if necessary), combine the flour, remaining salt, and more pepper in a heavy brown paper bag. Remove the dark pieces of chicken from the milk, drain each momentarily over the bowl, drop into the bag, and shake vigorously to coat. Add the bacon grease to the skillet and when small bubbles appear on the surface, reduce the heat slightly. Remove the chicken pieces from the bag one by one, shaking off excess flour, and using tongs, lower them gently into the hot fat. Arrange the pieces of dark chicken in the skillet so they cook evenly, reduce the heat to moderate, and cook for exactly 17 minutes. Reduce the heat slightly, turn the pieces with the tongs, and fry for 17 minutes longer. Quickly repeat all procedures with the white pieces of chicken, adjusting the heat as necessary and frying exactly 15 minutes on each side. Drain the chicken on a second brown paper bag for at least 5 minutes, transfer to a serving platter without reheating in the oven, and serve hot or at room temperature. By ten o'clock, the Long Island sun is blazing. Our buckets overflowing with exquisite berries, Mother and I return to the rough country road to pay the farmer for our bounty, then drive to my home on the south fork so she can begin immediately to make the preserves that will last us through the year and help fill all her holiday gift packages. For years at home in North Carolina, Mother was never at a loss for relatives to participate in this annual summer ritual. But time passes, people disappear for one reason or another, and today there's only Mother and me left to carry on a tradition that is as sacred to her as making fruitcakes for Christmas. Of course every June when she comes to visit me on Long Island, she complains about her stiff knees and. weak hands and threatens not to go strawberry picking. Then, after she rages about the poor quality and outrageous prices of market berries, prompting me to suggest that we just ride over and check the northfork field, she inevitably forgets her ailments and off we go. "I need a drink," she announces in the kitchen, reaching for the Bloody Mary mix while I begin rinsing some ten quarts of strawberries and placing them on paper towels spread out over every inch of counter space. "Now, sort them carefully, honey, and make sure the ones for preserves are firm and the same size," she instructs as if I hadn't been through the procedure a hundred times over the years. She then opens a new package of pectin, measures cups of sugar, and takes a big slug of her restorative libation. Cooking strawberries for preserves is a very serious and private affair for Mother, and nobody, not even my neighbor Craig Claiborne when he was alive, would ever risk distracting her. Once the hulled berries are in a big kettle and the first measurement of sugar is added, I step away as she brings the mixture very slowly to a boil and begins stirring attentively with a large wooden spoon. More sugar, a little lemon juice, a slight heat adjustment, then further careful stirring as she quietly watches the berries gradually yield their juices, blend with the melted sugar, and almost magically turn a deep, glistening red. Her concentration is intense. "Quick, help me move this pot off the heat," she suddenly directs, lifting one side of the large vessel up before I can grab the other side. "I thought you said you had no strength left in your hands," I jest. "Hush. I don't have time to think about that now," she huffs, stirring pectin into the mixture. "Have you got those bowls ready?" Together we slowly pour the hot berries into two large mixing bowls, after which Mother begins the tedious but important task of skimming foam off the tops so that the preserves will not be cloudy. "Here," she says, handing me the spoon, "stir them steadily till they cool slightly and begin to thicken. I'm dead." She wipes her hands on her apron and reaches for her drink. Quite often, the cooled strawberries must stand overnight so that they will jell and plump enough to remain in suspension when preserved. After we've had lunch and taken well-deserved naps, however, Mother determines by early evening that the texture and consistency of the berries are already ideal, rousing her to begin sterilizing half-pint canning jars and lids in a steaming water bath while I melt paraffin in a saucepan. At one point, she drops a lid on the floor and asks me to pick it up, complaining about how she can't bend down that far. "Sometime I'd like to drop a hundred dollar bill on the ground and watch you scramble for that!" I jeer. "Smart aleck," she mumbles, popping me on the rear. As I ladle luxurious preserves into the jars, Mother, with her experienced and expert touch, pours hot paraffin over the tops, slowly tilts each jar back and forth till the waxy substance begins to set and seal every edge, and caps each with a lid and ring band as a precaution against any improbable but always possible seepage. We then take each jar and apply a label that reads "From Martha's Kitchen." "Pretty, aren't they?" Mother comments quietly, standing back with her tired hands on her hips and surveying the twenty-odd jars lined up across the counter. "But Lord, that's a lot of work and . . . well, honey, I really do think my strawberry-picking days are over." Playfully I put my arm around her broad waist, tell her not to be so ridiculous, and suggest that she go change clothes so I can take her for a good dinner. Outside, the warm setting summer sun now filters gently through the towering oak trees, and as I gaze wistfully at this season's fresh, brilliantly red preserves that will bring such happiness to so many, I'm once again seized by all sorts of confused childhood, adolescent, and even recent nostalgia pertaining to the lady known to family as Martha Pearl, to friends simply as Martha, and to me as Mother, Missy, Big Mama, and, when she gets particularly overbearing, Brunhilde. Although this piece refers to strawberries, you can use the same technique to make peach preserves, which are now in season Peach Preserves Frankly stated, most people familiar with Mother’s pickle and preserves agree that there are no peach preserves on earth that can touch the ones she makes with Southern Elbertas each and every summer. They are undoubtedly my favorite of all her preserves, and there’s never a time when my basemetn shelves in East Hampton are not loaded with jars aging up to nine months. As I have learned by making the preserves repeatedly with her, the secret is impeccably fresh, firm, sweet peaches that are allowed to cook very slowly in syrup that must be watched carefully for just the right thickness. Martha Pearl Says: To test the thickness of the syrup in these preserves, I spoon about a tablespoon of the hot liquid onto a saucer and place it in the freezer for about 5 minutes. If the syrup is not ready, it will be thin and runny. Ingredients: 3 pounds fresh, firm peaches, peeled pitted and sliced ¼” thick 6 cups sugar Procedure: In a large pot, combine the peaches and sugar, cover, and let stand overnight to allow the peaches to leach out and moisten the sugar. The next day, bring the mixture slowly to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce the heat slightly and cook till the fruit is clear and the syrup is thick, about 40 minutes. Spoon the peaches into hot, sterilized jars, seal, and store in a cool area. Refrigerate after opening. Post your questions here -- >> Q&A
  14. I heard a rumor that Iberico ham would soon be available for export. Anyone know when and who in the U.S. might carry it?
  15. K. and I wandered into Jamie Kennedy's Wine Bar on Saturday afternoon. It's newly opened and quite undiscovered as yet. This will change--fast! We sat and grazed our way through seven of the dozen or so "tapas-style" selections with wine pairings that happened to be on the menu that day. We emerged onto the street a few hours later, a bit high on the food and the vino, with big grins on our faces. It's a neat space, very welcoming and informal. Lots of wood with cool stools around the open kitchen space and long bar, with only a handful of tables. The wall of preserves in mason jars works as design and is great fun as well. No reservations--just show up any time between 11 and 11 and order as few or as many of the tasting portions as you can handle. The prices are incredibly reasonable for the quality and size of the portions. This is hearty comfort food, (soups, braises, bread pudding) prepared with flair. It's all about flavour, folks. Don't expect a formal presentation of amuse, aps, mains and deserts. The concept is pick and choose. If you want more, just keep ordering, in any order that strikes your fancy. More on the menu and wine list when I have more time. The message now is--go and experience great value for money before this place is discovered by the foodies and the social x-rays and the line-ups form. As of this past Saturday afternoon, you could waltz right in and have the undivided attention of the friendly staff with Jamie ever present in the background, getting things up and running.
  16. i have recently seen a documentary on avantgard cooking in which ferran adrias el bulli was featured. in on shot they show someone injecting some kind of liquid jelly mixture out of a syringe into a bucket filled with (cold?) water. the next shot shows the outcome, which were perfectly round fruit caviar´s.... i bought the big black el bulli book "1998-2002" but couldnt find a recipe there... then i tried to make my own mixture which consisted of fruit juice and agaragar and gelatin in different concentrations.... but when the drops were injected into the water they always dissolved rite away or were badly deformed into little rings :-) which were also cute but not quite what i wanted... is there anyone who did those fruit caviars ??? i know there maybe other ways to do them but i really want to get them the "el bulli" way... dammn... cheers torsten s. cologne/germany
  17. A few people on the Maggi thread say they find the widespread use of this "enhancer" in various countries quite disturbing and unnecessary. Having only encountered it at a distance (as far as I know), Maggi doesn't bother me much. But when I see people putting ketchup on their eggs, it's enough to put me off my food. Nor do I much like to see people pouring huge amounts of HP sauce over everything on their plate, as is sometimes the case here in Canada and in the UK. What misuse and abuse of a condiment bothers you the most?
  18. Can anyone help me to answer this question as I have never made jam: I made some home made raspberry jam the other day (what a job that was!) and I don't know if I didn't cook it long enough or what, but it didn't thicken up enough. Is there a way to "save" this jam? Please say "yes"!
  19. What's your favorite condiment? For purposes of this thread, "condiment" can mean anything from jams and preserves to spices and herbs to salsas and salad dressings to gravies and sauces to nut butters and dried seaweeds to miso shiru and wasabi paste, etc. As for me, it's a six way tie between kosher salt, cracked black pepper, fresh garlic, EVOO, Mrs. Dash and unsalted butter. Can't live without any of those. Everything else is negotiable, more or less. What are yours? Discuss.... Soba
  20. book signing at Book Ends in ridgewood. info here. i'm tempted to go, although i've never done anything like that in my life. although i walked past the guy who wrote Jaws once at a bookstore.
  21. I whipped up a batch of cayenne mayonnaise this morning. I had some leftover roast turkey and wanted a sammich. I was out of mayo. So I thought, "what the hell?" Can't be that hard can it? Nope. It's a little thin, but damn tasty. Now for the question. Every book I've checked says to refrigerate immediately. Makes sense to me. A raw egg emulsion at room temperature seems to be a one-way ticket to a lengthy survey of the bathroom decor. But Alton Brown in "I'm Just Here for the Food" has a sidebar in the food safety section that says to leave fresh mayo out for 8-12 hours. Covered, I assume. His rationale is that the acids in the lemon juice and vinegar work best at room temperature and that they'll be more effective than refrigeration at doing in any nasty bugs that might be lurking. At best, he says, if you refrigerate, bacteria will stop reproducing but won't be wiped out like they will by the acids. Collective minds, what say you? Chad
  22. Please post your questions here. Autumn and Festive Preserves Author: Jack Lang (Jackal10) Jack's first course on preservation can be found here. The introduction to that course contains some scientific background to preservation and should be read in conjunction with this course. Now the end of the growing season is here and Xmas approaches it is time to make the last preserves of the year. Here we will look at Apple Jelly Green Tomato Chutney Damson Gin Mincemeat Xmas pudding Quince comforts (contignac) Pamelas: Candied orange and grapefruit peel Apple Jelly and variations Apples have lots of pectin, so apple jelly is easy, and a basis for many other flavours. It is made much like the Redcurrant jelly in the previous preserves section. It can be made from windfalls, or from crab apples. I make it from the apples that get left on the tops of the trees that we could not reach to pick, and that then fall off in their own good time. I know I should prune out these top branches, but then I would not get the apples for apple jelly Small jars of jelly make nice presents or shop goods. 6lbs/3kgs apples 3pts/2.5l water 3lbs/1.5kg sugar Chop up the apples and discard the bad bits, but keep the pips and cores – they contain the most pectin. For 6 lbs/3kg of apples add 3pts/2.5l water, and simmer for an about an hour Pass though a jelly bag, or a coffee filter, or a double thickness of muslin in a sieve Resist the temptation to squeeze or force it through Measure the juice. Allow 1lb/500g of sugar to each pint/750cl of juice Boil until setting point is reached (221F) Skim and bottle. When cold, label and store in the usual dark cold place. Variations Everything except the spices are added after the sugar has dissolved and show in the final jelly: Spiced apple jelly: Add cloves to the apple when you boil them. You can add them to the juice which gives a brighter flavour, but they then need straining out You can use other spices, such as pumpkin pie spices, or ginger, or lemon peel. Mint Jelly: Add chopped mint to the juice. Some like to add some vinegar as well. Other herbs: Parsley, thyme, rosemary (strain out the bits), tarragon, lavendar etc Rose Petal: Makes a lovely rose petal jam, Use fresh red rose petals from a fragrant variety. Wash well, and add 1 cup of petals after the sugar has been dissolved. You can increase the rose flavour with rose germanium leaves or with rose water. Gold leaf spangles: Add pieces of gold leaf, or a liqueur like Goldwasser that contains them. Flavour with cinnamon or aniseed.. Hot Chilli: Add chopped hot chillis: 12 chillis are about as much as even serious chilli heads can stand. Green Pepper: Add chopped green peppers, and green food colouring Green Tomato Chutney At the end of the tomato growing season there are always green tomatoes left, as well as the odd straggler or misshapen fruit. Those that don’t get fried make magnificent chutneys and pickles. They are pretty tough and make a good sweet pickle: 3lb/1kilo small green tomatoes 1pt/750mls vinegar 2 lb sugar flavouring: 1tsp vanilla or q tsp ground cinnamon If you want to peel them put the tomatoes in boiling salted water for 10 mins, refresh under cold water and peel. I don’t bother. Put the peeled green tomatoes with the sugar, vinegar and flavouring into a non-corrosive saucepan and boil for 5 mins. Pack into jars, and seal with non-metallic lids. You can pickle them just like the cucumber recipe given in the first lesson, except they take at least 3 weeks to mature. A good chutney is mellow from long cooking and maturing. It is quite different from Indian style chutneys, although the origin may have been Anglo-Indian. This style is deep brown. long simmered, ends up like a like a brown sauce with texture. Essential with cold meats, pork pies, or with cheese for a sandwich or ploughman’s lunch. 4lb/2 kilo green tomatoes, chopped up roughly 1lb/500g windfall apples, after peeling and coring 1/2lb/250g small raisins or sultanas 1 lb/300g brown sugar 1lb/500g shallots or onions, chopped 1/2 pt/375ml vinegar 1/2oz/25g fresh ginger, chopped. ½ oz/25g salt Spices and chillis to taste (2 chillis, 2 bay leaves, tsp mustard seed, tsp black pepper) Put the spices in a muslin wrap. Chop up everything small, except the raisins or sultanas. Put it all to simmer on a very low heat for a very long time (6-8 hours), until it is thick, and apart from the raisins, although there are chunks, the origin of each is not really discernable. The bag of spices is on the left. Remove the spices, bottle with a non-metallic lid (because of the vinegar) and seal. Leave to mature for at least a month. Variations: For a lighter chutney use white sugar and vinegar. If you want it sharper, add some of the vinegar towards the end of the cooking period. You can make it with almost any fruits or vegetables such as windfall apples, or marrow, plums or winter squashes that did not quite grow right Damson Gin Fruits in alcohol are a wonderful and easy dual preserve. Not only do you get the delicious liqueur, but also the preserved fruit. This recipe is a more delicate version of sloe gin, made with sloes (wild plums), but also just as traditional. First pick the damsons 1lb/500g damson plums, I bottle (70cl) full strength gin, as the water in the fruit will dilute it 8oz/250g sugar (more or less to taste) Freeze the damsons. This is a short cut and the object is to crack the fruit so that the gin penetrates You can hear the fruit crack when you pour on the gin. Freezing is much easier than the traditional method of pricking each fruit with a silver bodkin. Put into a jar and shake. The sugar will dissolve slowly, and the gin takes on a wonderful pink colour and fruit flavour. After 24 hours Put the jar somewhere (under the bed is traditional) where you see it from time to time and give it a shake occasionally. After a month it is ready. You can leave it, or strain the liqueur, and bottle it back into the original gin bottle, relabelled. It improves in the bottle if allowed to do so without being drunk. If you manage to leave it, it will gradually mature to a rich brown and full flavour. This is from 3 years ago. The fruit can be added in moderation to an adult fruit salad, or pureed and set with a little gelatine into an amazing jelly. Variations: You can add almond essence or lemon peel Many fruits can be preserved in alcohol this way, for example Peaches in Brandy, Cherries in Brandy or Rum. We covered Rumtopf in the last lesson. Mincemeat Ahh mince pies! I don’t know why more people don’t make their own mincemeat, as it is so easy and so much better than shop-bought. Making mince pies with home made micemeat to the sound of the carol service broadcast from King’s College marks the start of the festivities for me Mincemeat originally was a way of preserving meat for the winter, with lots of spices, dried fruit, alcohol and sugar. The meat was used as a pie filling, or part of a porridge or stuffed into a sausage skin for a pudding After a while people noticed it tasted even better if they left out the meat, except for some fat to melt and give richness and unctuousness. A few people still include neck meat or kidney, but mostly out of tradition rather than taste On the other hand if you can get real kidney suet from your butcher and shred your own, your mince meat will be all the better and more authentic Otherwise you will have to make do with the packet stuff. If you don’t eat meat then butter is better than the dubious (and often stale) hydrogenated fats that pass for some vegetable suets. 1lb/500g each of cooking apples, weighed after peeling, coring and chopping Use a firm apple like Granny Smith. currants seedless raisins sultanas brown sugar finely chopped suet 1/2lb/250g chopped mixed candied peel, glace cherries etc grated rind and juice of 2 lemons 2 oz chopped almonds (optional) ½ tsp ground sweet mixed spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves – as for pumpkin pie) 1/2pt+ 1 glass rum or brandy. (Not optional!) Mix it all together. Pack into jars. Seal. Drink the spare glass of rum or brandy. Leave for a month before using as a pie or tart filling. One jar nicely fills an 8 inch pie dish. Also great as a filling for baked apples. Will keep a year, but may dry out a little. Revive by stirring in another glass of spirits, Xmas pudding George I (sometimes called “The Pudding King”) ate this Christmas pudding at 6pm on December 25th 1714. These puddings may originally have been a thick spiced porridge version of the mincemeat above, called frumenty, sometimes cooked as a pudding in a sausage skin. In the sixteenth century people discovered that they were better if they boiled the ingredients in a bag (“bag pudding”), they preferred the texture given by eggs, breadcrumbs and flour, rather than oatmeal. The original would have been the traditional cannonball shape from being boiled in a floured cloth, often in the wash-day copper. Once boiled, they will keep for up to a year in a cool dry place.. 1 1/2lb/750g eggs, weighed in their shells 1lb/500g each of dried plums (prunes) seedless raisins mixed peel currants sultanas flour brown sugar breadcrumbs 1 tsp mixed spice ½ nutmeg, grated ½ tsp salt Juice and grated rind of a lemon Large glass of brandy ½ pint milk. Mix all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre and mix in the wet ingredients. “a stir and a wish” Let stand, covered in a cool place for 12 hours. Put into basins or a floured cloth. Boil for 8 hours. A half lemon in the water helps preserve aluminium pans. When cold recover with clean silicone paper and muslin Store cool and dry. Before serving boil again for 2 hours. Dress with a sprig of holly Take to table flaming: pour over a ladleful of flaming rum or brandy (care). Serve with brandy butter (Hard sauce), cream, or rum custard or all of them. My variation: Omit the flour. This gives a lighter pudding Replace the milk with Guinness. Drink the rest of the bottle. Wartime versions used carrots to add some sweetness and bulk instead of some of the sugar, which was in short supply. Versions which omit the alcohol should be ignored. These make puddings which are mostly fruit, held together with a little pudding stuff. You can increase the breadcrumbs and flour if you want to economise, or like more stodge. Left-over Christmas pudding is great fried with bacon and eggs next morning. Traditions Many traditions and superstitions are associated with Christmas pudding. When mixing you should invite the family for “a stir and a wish” They were the original “Plum-duff” of naval catering, and dried plums are, at least to me, an essential ingredient and link with tradition. Traditionally they were made by “Stir-up Sunday”, the last Sunday before Advent, which is around the end of November, so that they have time to mature before Christmas day. It is called “Stir-up Sunday” because the Collect begins “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people”, reminding the faithful that it is time to make puddings The old game of Snapdragon puts raisins or currants around the flaming pudding, the dare is to snatch one from the flames (take care!). There is a reference from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass where Alice meets the fanciful Looking-Glass insects. One of them is the Snap-dragon-fly, with a body made of plum-pudding, its wings of holly-leaves and its head a raisin burning in brandy. It lives on frumenty and mince pie, and nests in a Christmas box. It is traditional to hide a silver three-penny bit or other silver coin in the pudding. Whoever gets it, according to tradition, will receive wealth and riches in the coming year, or in other traditions are made king or queen for the day. This is part of an older and wider lore, such as the bean in the French Three kings cake, or in the Greek Vasilopita cake for St Basils (New Years Day). Originally the coin was in the Twelfth night cake The coin stood for riches. Other symbols and their objects were A bean for King A pea for Queen A clove for Knave A twig for the Fool A rag for the Maid One theory is that these traditions, together with the yule log, the holly and mistletoe, are the last remnants of the pagan traditions of the winter solstice festival of Saturnalia, taken over in the Christian tradition by Christmas. The king, chosen by the bean or the coin, is the Lord of Misrule and rules over the Revels for the day. There is deep symbolism and ancient magic here. The health police remind us that there is a remote chance of someone choking on the small coin in their food, so warn people to be on the look out for it, and check for the very young or old. Polish and wash or boil the coin well before adding to the pudding. Make sure the coin is real silver – modern nickel coins (like nickels and dimes) leave a nasty taste. Real silver (pre-1920) English three-penny bits are still available, for example on ebay or at coin dealers for modest prices if they are not in mint condition. I just purchased some Victorian 1887 ones for about 50c each . Others replace the coin with a silver charm. You can bribe youngsters to return it by offering a reward. Other places have their own traditional preserved foods or rich matured breads and cakes for Xmas: Speculoos (spiced cookies) in Belgium, Stollen in Germany, Vasilopeta and Chridstopsomo in Greece, panetonni and panforte in Italy, Turron in Spain, Medivnyk Honey Cake in Ukraine, not forgetting all the preserved ginger, gingerbreads, hams, game pies, and turkeys raised for the season. Quince comforts/Quince Cheese/Contignac/ Dulce de Membrillo Quince paste, known by different names in different places Depending how much you reduce and dry it it can be variously Butter, Cheese, Leather or Comfits. Comfits are an old name for a fruit jelly, served after dinner. 2lbs/1 Kg quinces About 1lb/500g sugar Pick the quinces Quinces are as hard as iron when raw. Some recipes suggest stewing them, but I find baking them for an hour or so easiest Let them cool, and remove most of the skin and bones – the pips, stalk and any hard bits. Puree and sieve. This stuff is tough to sieve and sticks to everything. It is easier when the puree is warm. Add an equal weight of sugar, and simmer, stirring frequently. It will get much looser at first, then stiffer as it dries. Take care, as it bubbles like molten lava, and spits. When you can see the bottom of the pan when you draw a line it is stiff enough. Pour into an oiled tin, or a tin lined with silicone paper, and let it set. You can now dry it in the sun, or in a barely warm oven. Turn it over after a day or so so it dries evenly. Traditionally these cheeses were wrapped in Bay leaves and muslin, and served with cheese. To make comfits cut it into ½ inch/ 1cm cubes and roll in sugar. Keep either loosely wrapped in the fridge, or in a closed tin in sugar. Variations: Add spices, such as cinnamon Use other fruit, such as apple or Damson Pamelas: Candied grapefruit peel Making true glace fruit is a long business, and there is little advantage in making it yourself. However here is a quick version, adapted from a recipe originally by the Troisgros Freres. 6 Grapefruits (about 2kg or 4lbs), preferably unwaxed 1lb 6oz/600g sugar Cut off the top and bottom of the grapefruit. Cut into quarters. Cut off 2/3rds of the flesh from each quarter and any seeds. You can eat it for breakfast. Cut each quarter into 4 sticks, (some orange crept in there) Put them in a saucepan and cover them with cold water. Bring it to the boil. Strain off the water. Repeat this four times to remove the bitterness. The fifth time don’t add the water but add the sugar instead. Bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat very slowly uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes or until the syrup has evaporated and peel is transparent and tender. If you cook too fast the syrup will evaporate before the slices are cooked. Spread the slices out to dry on a rack, and when cold roll in sugar. Damson comfits and Pamelas Variations: For true indulgence dip into good chocolate. You can do the same with other citrus fruits. Orange peel needs rather longer than grapefruit. Please post your questions here.
  23. Please post your questions here for Autumn and Festive Preserves.
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