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eG Foodblog: balmagowry - Back to the future....


balmagowry
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Isn't it funny how the more determined I get to catch up, the farther behind I get? Here it is Thursday, and I'm just getting started on Sunday's pictures. Sigh.

Well, at any rate, here's Sunday's lunch, which will have to hold you until I'm ready to post dinner. (And there's a lot of dinner.)

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Sandwiches from Saturday night's leftovers: skirt steak, sliced and warmed up a bit; on toasted Portuguese bread, buttered; with lettuce, S&P. I appreciate fancy stuff as much as the next gastronome, but oh how I love good simple food. These sandwiches were almost achingly good.

I must apologize for the problems with color balance. I know, for instance, that this picture is way too red - it must be; but I can't see it, owing to my monitor still being wacko. We re-calibrated it, but it still displays things a little dark and a little blue; I think it's gotten worse; I'm afraid there's nothing for it but to get a new monitor. The thing is, I know my flash adds slightly more of a blue cast than it should, and conversely that most of my indoor shots taken with available light come out a little too warm, but at the moment I have to guess at how much to compensate.

This is one of many reasons I'm keeping the images off-site - I'm hoping one day to get a chance to adjust the worst of the pictures retroactively. Meanwhile, bear with me.

[EDIT an hour later to add: Have now changed it, and I think this is a lot better - will check on other machine.]

Quick rundown on today. You saw what happened when I went to get my coffee. (Boy says: yes, I did try to clean off the bottom but couldn't get that stuff to come off. You did what? Wet it? Aren't you clever!)

After that - I fed myself brunch, sort of, I guess: nice hunk of toasted Portuguese bread, buttered. Red grapes. Oh, and who was it said I needed more snacks? Toliver? Not to worry. Today I used the high vantage point gained during my microwave-cleaning activities to spot in its hiding place a partial bag of... POTATO CHIPS! Huzzah! Immediately snarfed them.

Then for my sins, ran off to Pilates class. Not really for my sins - I love the class, always look forward to it; and the teacher is a friend, even though she's (gasp) a vegan. I can't easily cook for her, but I can teach her stuff about gardening, so there's enough common ground to be getting on with. :wink:

The ultra-observant may have wondered why I'm posting now when I'm supposed to be at Grand Szechuan; alack, I PM'd Stone this afternoon that I would have to cancel. Logistics; complicated; having to do mostly with the comings and goings of The Boy, and various work-related stuff too dreary to contemplate.

Instead, Wednesday's leftover fried rice (there was quite a lot) will warmly furnish forth the Thursday table - and maybe I'll get it together to make the dessert I blew off last night. I bet The Boy could be persuaded to go out and get some heavy cream....

Edited by balmagowry (log)
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You think that works - wait'll I tell you about The System. I've refined and formalized it down to an art form(ula) - thinking maybe I should hold off on this food-writing racket until after I throw together a best-selling self-help book.

Either someone beat you to it or you've been very naughty.... publishing elsewhere under a psuedonym and not letting us in on the details (Lisa... couldn't you come up with a better alias than "Doc Love"?). Not to mention that I already have dibs on the name.

I give you.....

The System

But who needs such trickery like that when food can be the fuel that drives the engine of seduction (did you really think I did all that blog work just because I like to cook and eat well?) :wink:

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That's some heavy stuff about all the loved ones who have died recently. I think that it would be almost weird not to be depressed under such circumstances. I've never been there, so I can't say I know for sure, but it sounds like you're coping about as well as most anyone could.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I must apologize for the problems with color balance. I know, for instance, that this picture is way too red - it must be; but I can't see it, owing to my monitor still being wacko.

i'm sorry, but this is COMPLETELY unacceptable!

Couldn't agree more, me boyo - it's driving me nuts! :wacko:

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You think that works - wait'll I tell you about The System. I've refined and formalized it down to an art form(ula) - thinking maybe I should hold off on this food-writing racket until after I throw together a best-selling self-help book.

Either someone beat you to it or you've been very naughty.... publishing elsewhere under a psuedonym and not letting us in on the details (Lisa... couldn't you come up with a better alias than "Doc Love"?). Not to mention that I already have dibs on the name.

I give you.....

The System

But who needs such trickery like that when food can be the fuel that drives the engine of seduction (did you really think I did all that blog work just because I like to cook and eat well?) :wink:

Dang - looks like I'm going to have to come up with a more original name for it. The pity of it is that calling it The System was a lot more interesting and original than it sounds (like calling someone much prettier than she looks, perhaps?) - it was based on one of the tag lines from Milt Gross's Nize Baby, wherein whenever someone comes up with an idea that works brilliantly for him he is apt to exclaim, "is diss a system!" Oh well.

Oh, no doubt about it, I have been rather naughty on occasion - and if I ever do publish a self-help best-seller you may be quite certain I will indeed do it under a pseudonym! - but... er... I do assure you it will not be that best-seller or that pseudonym. :cool: <-- me, doing all those press interviews incognita....

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I think that it would be almost weird not to be depressed under such circumstances.

No almost about it, keedoh - that much I can vouch for. :hmmm:

it sounds like you're coping about as well as most anyone could.

Oh ma-a-a-an, am I going to have to cop to being a mensch after all? How embarrassing would that be? Sheesh.

Yeah, I was amazed by the reference to "Nize Baby." I thought it was only my father who had old cartoons like that...

Nope. Or as Mrs. Yifnif would say... Nup! I love Nize Baby. The cartoons have more than a hint of George Herriman about them... but it's the stories that are priceless. Speaking of which, of course there's a story connected with this. But I'm not gonna tell it right now, or we'll never get to the first course for Sunday.

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OK, here's some Sunday.

(Color balance... inconsistent... sorry... 'nuff said, for now. :sigh:)

Did I mention that I seem to have eaten a pear at some point?

img_0123.jpg

Well, I must have done. Can't imagine why else I'd have bothered to photograph it. :biggrin:

Sunday Evening, Part I: In Which Piglet Is Completely Surrounded By Water

[You may remember that I posted, retroactively, a daylight image of the diner we went to on Friday night. I actually stopped to take that picture on my way over to Gilgo to make dinner on Sunday night.]

So - it's now Sunday evening. I'm on my way to Gilgo. For some reason I'm in the mood to do something Russian - go back to my roots and cook some of the dishes I learned from my mother, who learned them from hers, who learned them from hers. And so on. Fortunately I happen to have some mushrooms that need to be us... eek! no! I don't! I already used them last night!

One quick stop at the Fruitery to grab MUSHROOMS, then, and a couple of other things.

But - how can they possibly be out of mushrooms? :shock: Oh. Right. It's Sunday night, isn't it. They're probably out of lots of things. And they close early. They're about to do so. NOW.

Fine, then, I'll take what I can get. Three or four portobello mushrooms will certainly suffice! Small thing of sour cream. Bunch broccoli rabe. And go, dog, go! (Literally. Luke is waiting in the car. I don't like to leave him there!)

We're off.

On the way to Gilgo it occurs to me that maybe I can give you some idea what the area looks like. Kids, do not try this at home: setting the camera on Auto (Auto!!!! ha, sometimes I'll keel myself leffing!) I start shooting from the hip, or rather the steering wheel. I SWEAR I do not take my eyes off the road for more than a half-second. Honest.

Not surprisingly... not many of the pictures are any good.

At any rate, here's a glimpse.

Southbound from West Islip on the Robert Moses Causeway,

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toward the Robert Moses Bridge.

On the bridge itself,

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over the Great South Bay. Those arches over the middle span... in summer I sail under those. Done it once by moonlight. (Go ahead, hate me now - if you didn't already, what on earth have you been waiting for?)

Past the arches and headed back down. The land ahead, such as it is,

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is the northernmost edge of the barrier beach itself.

Headed west along Ocean Parkway. Can't get ocean pictures from here due to the blessed dunes, but can and do get one reasonable shot to my right:

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I realize all this is getting to be awfully Uncle-Ted-coming-round-the-side-of-the-house, but there is method, of a sort, in my madness. The point, such as it is, of this picture and the previous one is to illustrate one of the salient features of the salt marsh: in case you hadn't noticed... it's FLAT!

Making the turn into Gilgo itself.

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(I really should be more careful about calling it Gilgo, which isn't really its name, lest you confuse it with the other place a half-mile away which is named Gilgo... but West Gilgo Beach is such a mouthful, don't you know. So Gilgo it is. If I ever have reason to refer to the other Gilgo I will specify. Confused yet?)

The gatehouse.

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Bloody elitist snobs! Sorry, but that's us, all right.

[Real-time pause to feed the animals their supper. Then I'll come back and do Part II.)

Edited by balmagowry (log)
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As to Kitchen Calamaties.  In the words of the late EZ (her's applied to cutting a sweater) "...lay down in a darkened room for fifteen minutes to recover."

It's late, a long day spent in the kitchen, and I'm speed reading thru this blog trying to catch up when I *see*

Kitchen CATAMITE

And I think "wow, THAT"S fabulous, what O'Brian book is that in?" :biggrin:

I wish I were a gay man...

It would definitely be my new tattoo

We need to find courage, overcome

Inaction is a weapon of mass destruction

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Critters is fed. Shall resume Sunday's preparations in a minute.

First, though, I thought I'd show you this, on the chance that it might alleviate the Gilgo-vs-Gilgo confusion. Or - wait - no, let's do it this way. Here is a link to the Gilgo Heading Tide Table, according to which prime clamming time during the next couple of days will be mid-afternoon, by normal people's standards. No guarantees! If the water is too cold, or I'm too rushed, the clam deal will just have to wait until normal season. Get it? Got it? Good. Anyway, on that page you will also find a Mapquest link which will show you where all this is going on. Of course, the tide is measured at [REAL] Gilgo, not West Gilgo, so that is also where the map coordinates go. But if you look closely you'll see West Gilgo too. And if you zoom out a bit and look Eastward, aye, look Eastward (I have GOT to stop all this obnoxious quoting), you'll see a road that appears to walk on water - yup, that's Robert Moses for ya - but it actually represents the bridge shown in previous post.

Sunday night, Part II: Shall you drive in a droshky? Shall you see the Tsar?

I'm going to make two traditional Russian dishes: Blinchiki and Kotletkii. I think we've discussed the former somewhere here before, in all its various slavic-nomenclatural permutations... no, maybe that was Golubtsi... but I'm pretty sure I mentioned Blinchiki. As the name suggests, they are a form of blintz, but a highly specialized one. Tonight I'm skipping some of the normal preparation steps because I happen to have some leftover filling in the freezer from the last time I made them (Julia would be proud!); unfortunately this means they'll have to be served without the usual beef bouillon accompaniment - I'll explain further and fill in the blanks as I get there. Otherwise, I seem to have fallen into the habit of this blow-by-blow tutorial format... so you can follow the bouncing ball and cook along with Baba Lisa.

Blinchiki first, then Kotletkii. These are sometimes known as Kotletii, or Cutlets, Pojarski; but beware of impostors. There is a recipe circulating on the web for Kotletii Pojarski which is... well, it ain't RIGHT, is all I can tell you. Who or what is right? Got me. But don't believe everything you read. Including this, I guess. Myself, I prefer to trust the real Russian women whom I knew and from whom I am descended. OK, Russia is a big place. And the part of it my people come from is now part of Lithuania anyway. So... let's just say I will show you how you would have made these things if you had been living in Vilna (now Vilnius) a century ago... but had had access to certain American mod cons. Deal? Deal.

Anyway, Kotletki has roughly the same etymology as "cutlet" and may well take its name and composition from the heyday of French cookery in Russia. But it's Russian now. (BTW, if you've ever had Chicken Kiev, what you've really had is a Kiev Kotletki - the only type I happen to know that is not made from ground or chopped meat.) The original Kotletkii were made from beef, and that's what we're having tonight; variations can be made with salmon or, greatest luxury of all, chicken. (Greatest luxury because in the old days you couldn't buy ground chicken: you had to either grind it yourself or buy it from an unusually obliging butcher....)

But I'm blathering. Let me get started - it's easier to show than to tell.

(Caucasian Sketches on the radio. How appropriate. I love all those hyphenated composers. :biggrin: )

First order of priority: make the batter for the blinchiki, so it can rest and chill while I prepare the other things.

My mother's scribbled recipe is an adaptation from a Dione Lucas crepe. At the frying stage she says in her notes "don't bother to cook other side." Little did she or I know - until I learned it here on eGullet! - that this isn't about not bothering; indeed it is the very definition of the distinction between a blintz and a crepe.

img_0161.jpg

Flour, milk, eggs (one whole and a yolk), oil. What a dingbat I am, not to have taken a picture of the kitchen itself. I have some, though, and can take more in the next day or two.

Whisk it all together, thinning with extra milk until the consistency is right.

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OK, it's right. Put in fridge and start the kotletkii.

Here's a kotletkii bowl and chopper.

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The bowl is just a plain wooden bowl. The chopper - I don't know what else these are ever used for. I don't like that little slit in the middle, nor do I have any idea what it's for. There is a plain chopper somewhere here, but I don't remember where it lives until it's too late. Bummer. Oh well, that should be the worst.

Kotletkii are one of three applications that justify, IMO, the existence of el-cheapo Wonder-style cotton white bread. The ratio is eight slices to the pound of meat - we have an extra quarter-pound, so I'm using 10 slices.

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You cut off the crusts (application #2: dry out the crusts and make bread crumbs out of them). Then you soak each slice in water,

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squeeze it out mejumishly, and

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put it in the bowl with the meat. Ah - I see I've already put in the egg. Normal ratio: one egg to two pounds meat. So half an egg to a pound, which always annoys me (and which is why I almost always make at least two pounds' worth). Spose I could be virtuous and creative and use the extra white from the Blinchiki, but the hell with that. After all, there's an extra 1/4-pound of meat here. If I use a whole egg that will be exactly 3/8 more egg than it oughta be, and that is exactly the kind of precision I prefer to eschew. It ain't gonna make them that much heavier! I put in the whole damn egg.

After all the bread has been soaked and squoze and put in,

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season with S&P. (BTW, if you were making salmon kotletkii, at this point you would add some bits of sauteed onion; if it were chicken, you'd have soaked the bread in chicken broth instead of water, and then you'd add chopped parsley at this stage.)

Then sit down and start chopping.

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Kotletkii must always be chopped by hand. It is almost the only process I can think of for which there can be no satisfactory mechanized equivalent. In the spirit of scientific experimentation I have tried it with grinders and food-processors and blenders, and I have proved to my entire satisfaction that chopping by machine always produces a gooey, gummy, unpleasant and ultimately tough texture.

Besides, it's such an... Old-Country thing to do.... :wub: So I chop them by hand, and glad to do it.

It shouldn't be a perfectly homogeneous amalgam...

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but it should be pretty well-mixed.

Very important, perhaps even more so than with hamburger: the meat MUST NOT BE TOO LEAN! This is 80%, I think, and it has done exactly what it ought to do:

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left a thickish film of soft fat on the blade of the chopper. Good. This is precious stuff.

Now use the chopper blade to divide the mixture into equal portions, generally eight per pound of meat.

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(Again, in this case it's 10, because of that extra 1/4 pound.)

With wet hands, scoop up a lump and form it into a rough ball.

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Poke a deep dimple into the center of the ball.

Then take a little of the fat from the chopper,

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poke it into the dimple, and shove the edges back together, enclosing the fat in the middle of the ball.

(Note - this doesn't apply to the salmon or chicken versions, though you can do something similar for the chicken ones with a little dab of butter.)

Pat it into a more elongated shape,

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put it into a pile of breadcrumbs,

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bread it all over.

Then press it flat,

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lay it on a tray covered with wax paper, and lather/rinse/repeat with the rest of the mixture.

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If I were making more than would fit on the tray, I'd put another sheet of wax paper over these and start a new layer on top of them.

Ooof! Real-time: I was going to post more of this tonight, but though it's only 2:40 AM I'm tired. Tomorrow I have to get up at a normal person's time (7:30 AM! the middle of the night!) because Phyllis is coming to clean. So I'll get an early start to the sequel then - I promise.

Title of Sequel: Those Magnificent Foods In Their Frying Machines :biggrin:

Edited by balmagowry (log)
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Those already look delicious, even uncooked. Now I feel a strong urge to leaf through my big Russian cookbook and make something hearty. My grandmother (the one who couldn't cook but did teach my mother to "drink like a Ruske") would be proud.

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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I can't do less than emulate its honesty and openness.

That's what it's all about Lisa.

<possibly embarrassing personal stuff>

I am sorry for what you have been through in the past couple of years, Lisa. My recent losses having been enormous and life shaking took place just before we came to France and much of my sense of purpose has come to be intricately entwined with the changes I have been through in their wake. You are courageous to address them straight on and with us - and it's the light that will bring you out of the dark place you have been. Your having passed that milestone of accepting that you can continue the work that you and your mother began - on your own - is so incredibly inspiring to me. Thank you.

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The things one learns about people! I'm very excited to be conversing online with another Patrick O'Brien nut, especially a published expert in the culinaria of that epoch.

ummm - I too will come out of the closet - have read about 13 of the series and am waiting to get my books out of storage to remind myself exactly WHERE I've got to so I can buy the next...

Fi Kirkpatrick

tofu fi fie pho fum

"Your avatar shoes look like Marge Simpson's hair." - therese

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So, good morning. As advertised, I've actually been up since 7:30. (I imagine I'm scheduled for a hell of a crash this afternoon, since that represents something like two hours' sleep.) Every time I see the real morning I am reminded how much I used to love it. I shall desire its more acquaintance.

Still not sure how the alarums and excursions of the rest of the day will shake out, but I'm not going to worry much about that until I finish this coffee. Meanwhile, I have plenty to do just getting the rest of Sunday cooked and served!

Lucy - :wub: Thank you.... :wub:

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Lisa, yesterday I cooked some artichokes in your honor. I actually peeled and halved mine, simmering them in aciduated water and tossing them with a vinaigrette.

Like yours, mine were labeled "baby artichokes," but mine were not. As I understand it, baby artichokes are supposed to be immature enough that their "chokes" are undeveloped, leading to less work for the cook/eater. My so-called babies were really just small artichokes, and they had a quite well-developed choke I had to cut out.

Does anyone get real baby artichokes around here? (I'm in Brooklyn.) How about you?

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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Lisa, yesterday I cooked some artichokes in your honor. I actually peeled and halved mine, simmering them in aciduated water and tossing them with a vinaigrette.

Like yours, mine were labeled "baby artichokes," but mine were not. As I understand it, baby artichokes are supposed to be immature enough that their "chokes" are undeveloped, leading to less work for the cook/eater. My so-called babies were really just small artichokes, and they had a quite well-developed choke I had to cut out.

Does anyone get real baby artichokes around here? (I'm in Brooklyn.) How about you?

Cool! Now that's a kind of honor worth having.... :biggrin:

The artichokes up-thread were sort of borderline; upon arrival at their centers I found some chokes developed, some not. This may explain why they were so cheap; I've seen that same package since in a couple of stores and it's always quite the bargain. From my standpoint this is just fine, as "baby" artichokes were not really what I was after. The only artichokes I avoid are those big round flavorless spineless ones - other than that, any artichoke is a good artichoke, as far as I am concerned. Given my druthers I guess my overall choice would be a big one (or two... or three...!), very fresh - but these adolescent artichokes were very good and were one hell of a deal for the price.

In answer to your question (oops), I do see real baby artichokes here from time to time, but never pre-packaged like that. Which is a good thing: if I really wanted the babies I'd want to pick them out individually, by hand, as I do string beans or snow peas.

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Does anyone get real baby artichokes around here? (I'm in Brooklyn.)

You might have to cross the river to get them. :raz: Fairway (at least the uptown store) carries them.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Moving on to Sunday night, Part III. BTW I got a little confused last night: this next episode is not Those Magnificent Foods In Their Frying Machines - that comes after this one and will cap Sunday night (whew). This one is entitled: Story Time.

First, though, one small frying interlude.

The Kotletkii having been shaped and laid out, the tray goes into the fridge while the Blinchiki get made and assembled. (BTW it is a good idea to chill them for a while even if you don't have something else to do in the interim: one of our SSBs can probably tell us why, but all I know is it makes them fry up better.)

Out comes the Blinchiki batter. (If it has thickened while chilling, thin it with a little more milk.)

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And remember...

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"Don't bother" to brown the second side! :wink:

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I didn't - but I turned over the top one on the stack for this photo-op.

Some explanation of the part I'm skipping tonight:

The traditional filling for Blinchiki is made of cooked beef and uncooked onion. You get a lot of beef bones and a great big hunk of chuck roast or something like that, and you cook it all up stockwise, with an onion and some celery and carrots and whatever else you like to add - herbs and the like - plus S&P, of course. You cook and cook and cook it until you have a nice powerful broth and the meat is falling off the bones. Strain. reduce and clarify the stock. Pick over the meat, separating it from the bones and groozly bits; then chop it up, along with a raw onion. (It is perfectly OK to do the first cooking stage in the pressure cooker and the chopping in a food processor - I generally do if I'm short of time.) The meat/onion mixture becomes the filling; the broth is usually part of the final presentation. It won't be tonight, though, because I'm using leftover filling from a previous batch. That's OK - for once we'll get by just fine with a dollop of sour cream instead. :biggrin:

And now we come to Story Time. Oh oh oh, I've been wanting to do this for such a long time!

Nize baby, itt opp anodder spoon Epplesuss, so Momma'll gonna tell you de sturry from de leetle boy what didn't like his Momma's Kreplach, ooh dat doity rotten leetle keed.

(For the uninitiated: Kreplach are not quite the same as Blinchiki: for one thing, they are kosher. They are dumplings made of chopped meat wrapped in a flour/water dough - and they are boiled and served in soup. But every time I make Blinchiki I think of the Kreplach story. So now I shall tell it as I've always wanted to, and in future perhaps the same will happen to you!)

[WARNING: Jewish humor ahead!]

Wance oppon a time....

Once upon a time there was a little boy who hated kreplach. His mother was at her wits' end, because she made them often, and she just couldn't understand why he wouldn't eat them. So at last one day she came up with a scheme to persuade him to give them a try.

"Semele," she said to him, "sit here with me while I make something nice for dinner. Look -

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here are some beautiful pancakes and some nice chopped meat. What do you think?"

"Looks good," said the son.

"Good. Now I'm gonna

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take a little of this meat and make a nice little lump out of it. Okay so far?"

"Great," said the kid.

"Good. Now watch, I'm gonna

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put this meat on a pancake. You like that?"

"I love it," said the kid, mouth watering.

"Good. Now watch: I'm gonna

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fold the far edge of this pancake over the lump of meat. How's that?"

"That's great," said the kid.

"Good. Now... I'm gonna

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fold this side of the pancake over onto the meat. Does that look OK to you?"

"It looks terrific," said the kid.

"Good. Now... next, I'm gonna

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fold this other side over too. You like that?

"I sure do! When do we eat?" said the kid, eyes wide.

"Good, good... good. And now... I'm gonna

img_0201.jpg

roll this last edge over it, and I --"

"OY! KREPLACH!"

Edited by balmagowry (log)
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(For the uninitiated: Kreplach are not quite the same as Blinchiki: for one thing, they are kosher. They are dumplings made of chopped meat wrapped in a flour/water dough - and they are boiled and served in soup.

I have seen kreplach served deep fried -- that's how my mom makes them.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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      Then into lunch:
       

       

      Chicken Soup
       

      The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato
       

      Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.
       

      Stir fried lotus root
       

      Daikon Radish
       

      Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked.
       

      Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable
       

      Fried Beans
       

      Steamed Pumpkin
       

      Chicken
       

      Beef with Bitter Melon
       

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice
       

      Oranges
       

      The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known for the quality of its pomelos.
       
      After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.
       

       

       

       

       
      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.
       

       
      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.
       

       
      And here they are:
       
       
      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
    • By FoodMuse
      Hello everyone,
      eGullet was nice enough to invite me to write a food blog chronicling what I've made or eaten out for one week. I'm so excited about it! Thanks guys.
      About me:
      I dream about food, I wake thinking what's for dinner and I'm so excited to share it with you. I'm part of the food world in New York. By that, I just mean that I'm so fortunate enough to be invited to great events where I get to eat great food. I'm also a nerd and a part of the technology world. I produce, edit and sometimes host food related web videos and I'm also a part of the tech world.
      I'm launching a website called Please, Pass the Gravy. www.pleasepassthegravy.com We let you create a menu, invite friends and then collaborate on that menu. Never host another potluck with 8 pasta salads. You could use it now, but we're alpha launch, it works but it's ugly. It's my ugly baby. So, if you use it be kind and message me if you have improvement ideas. I thought it would be ok to write about it here because it is food related.
      I live in Brooklyn with a lovely guy who likes to eat and a small corgi mix dog. I cook pretty much every night and do a nice brunch on the weekend. I am not a crazy dog lady, but I do admit to cooking food for the dog. I have an excuse, beyond doting, he had seizures that have stopped since not feeding him dog food.
      Foods I cook:
      Spicy foods! If you look at my blog I have a simple papaya ketchup with habanero that is pretty darn good.
      I love great cheese. This may be the week for Beer Cheese Soup.
      I try to limit carbs, though I do cheat.
      In any given week C. and I probably eat cauliflower, broccoli and green beans as a side.
      Tonight's dinner will be Vietnamese inspired. We'll see how it goes. I'll post about it as soon as I can.
      Any requests? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.
      -Grace
    • By Duvel
      In these challenging times, a full summer vacation is not an easy task. For the last 1.5 years we have been mostly at home with the clear plan to visit Catalonia (or more precise my wife’s family) latest this summer. And it looked good for a while. Unfortunately, the recent rise in case numbers in Spain have resulted in …
       
      OK, let’s skip this part. Long story short - my wife and me are fully vaccinated, as are >90% of the people we care about in Catalonia. After some discussion (after all, Germans tend to prefer to be on the safe side of things) we simply fueled up the car, got each a test (for the transit through France) and started to drive …
       
      After a leisurely 11h drive we arrived at a small fishing town somewhat north of Barcelona around 3.00am. We unloaded the car and my wife an the little one went straight to bed. 
       

       


      I found an expired beer in the elsewise pretty empty fridge and enjoyed the cool breeze on the terrace. Holidays, here we come …
       

    • By liuzhou
      Last week, Liuzhou government invited a number of diplomats from Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar/Burma, Poland, and Germany to visit the city and prefecture. They also invited me along. We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday introducing the diplomats to the culture of the local ethnic groups and especially to their food culture.
       
      First off, we headed two hours north into the mountains of Rongshui Miao Autonomous County. The Miao people (苗族 miáo zú), who include the the Hmong, live in the mid-levels of mountains and are predominantly subsistence farmers. Our first port of call was the county town, also Rongshui (融水 róng shuǐ, literal meaning: Melt Water) where we were to have lunch. But before lunch we had to go meet some people and see their local crafts. These are people I know well from my frequent work trips to the area, but for the diplomats, it was all new.
       
      So, I had to wait for lunch, and I see no reason why you shouldn't either. Here are some of the people I live and work with.


       
      This lovely young woman is wearing the traditional costume of an unmarried girl. Many young women, including her, wear this every day, but most only on festive occasions.
       
      Her hat is made from silver (and is very heavy). Here is a closer look.
       

       
      Married women dispense with those gladrags and go for this look:
       

       
      As you can see she is weaving bamboo into a lantern cover.
       
      The men tend to go for this look, although I'm not sure that the Bluetooth earpiece for his cellphone is strictly traditional.
       

       
      The children don't get spared either
       

       
      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
       
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
    • By shain
      It's been more than a year in which international travel was challenging to impossible, but gladly this is changing, as more countries are able to vaccinate their population.
      Greece had managed to return to a state of near normality, and opted to allow vaccinated individuals to enter. And so I decided to go on a slightly spontaneous vacation (only slightly, we still had almost a month for planning). To the trip I was joined by my father, to whom I owed some good one-on-one time and was able to travel on a short-ish notice.
       
       
      Many people are yet unable to travel, and many countries are suffering quite badly from the virus, and therefore I considered if I should wait some time with this post. However, I hope that it will instead be seen with an optimistic view, showing that back-to-normal is growing ever closer.
       
       
      We returned just a few days ago, and it will take me some time to organize my photos, so this is a teaser until then.
       
       
       
       
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