Lamb korma

I made it last night. Was delicious. But was in a hurry and didn’t measure anything. Basic procedure is right, just adjust seasonings to taste.

First, watched this for inspiration. 

But it was too long and fussy, so skipped a bunch of steps. Started with a two pound hunk of boneless leg of lamb, cut into cubes.

Grind spices: cumin, cloves, cinnamon, black and green cardamom, coriander, kichiri, pepper, salt, red pepper. 

Add dried coconut and almonds. Grind more. 

Coat meat chunks with spice mix

Fry a chopped onion with the meat, Brown on all sides. 

In blender, mix one container Greek yogurt, 1 onion, 1 small can tomato sauce, ginger, garlic, blend into smooth paste. 

Add to meat, stir well, let simmer until meat is cooked through. Cover and cook longer for more tender, or eat as is if hungry. 

Can also do in slow cooker.

Serve with rice. 

Cantaloupe Cocktail 

Refreshing on a warm summer evening. 

In a blender, puree the following and serve in a margarita glass. 

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 oz Hendricks gin
  • 1/4 ripe cantaloupe, peeled and cut into chunks, chilled
  • Juice of one small lime
  • Thai basil leaves
  • Ice (about 1 cup, 8 large cubes)

Conch Fritters 

Just made the best ones yet. The trick was cooking the conch sous vide first. 

Ingredients 

  • 2 pieces conch
  •  1 onion
  • 1-2 green chiles, seeded
  • 2 leaves culantro 
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Matzah meal
  • 2-3 TB Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking powder

Directions 

  1. Season conch with old bay and cook sous vide for 30 minutes at 120F
  2. Chop conch, onion, chiles and pulse in food processor
  3. Add egg and process until barely smooth
  4. Transfer to bowl, add dry ingredients and mix to blend
  5. Fry on both sides until golden brown and crisp
  6. Drain on paper towels

Mushroom-Onion Soup

I’ve never been great at making vegetable soups. But the Modernist Cuisine cookbook had an interesting technique, so I decided to try it. The base recipe was for carrot soup, but there are a dozen variations. I used what I had on hand, which was a bunch of sweet onions and a package of mushrooms.

The trick is to caramelizes the veggies in a pressure pot, then add liquid and purée until creamy. No need to add cream! I left mine relatively unseasoned, the earthiness of the dried mushrooms was more than enough. But it’s very versatile, I plan to experiment.

Ingredients

  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 2 large sweet onions
  • 1 package baby Bella mushrooms
  • 2-3 TB dried mushrooms
  • 2 TB butter
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Chicken stock

Directions

  1. Peel the carrot. If large, quarter lengthwise and remove core. Otherwise just cut into large chunks, along with the onions and celery and washed mushrooms.
  2. Melt the butter in the pressure pot over medium heat, add the vegetables and stir to coat, then sprinkle in a couple of tablespoons of stock. My pressure pot tends to leak a bit, so I put in a bit more, but if yours makes a good seal you only want a little bit of liquid so the carrots and onions caramelize. 
  3. Once the pot comes to pressure, cook for 20 minutes, then cool under running water before opening. 
  4. Meanwhile, heat some broth or stock or veggie juice, reduce a bit if too mild.
  5. Add broth to cooked veggies, and purée with stick blender. Adjust consistency and seasoning to taste.
  6. Push the puréed soup through a metal strainer to catch any fibers and yield a luscious silky smooth soup. It takes an extra couple of minutes but really makes a big difference. 

It probably should have been garnished with some chives and sour cream, but was delicious just as is.

Salmon Sous Vide

After watching the Cooked mini-series on Netflix, I decided that I needed a copy of the Modernist Cuisine book series. Which is really an encyclopedia, with multiple volumes, that costs many hundreds of dollars, and uses techniques and equipment that are extremely difficult to emulate in a small home kitchen. Thankfully they also subsequently released a single volume “Modernist Cuisine at Home” version, which is still enormous (the largest book I own, dwarfing even the 2-volume Culinaria set), but a lot more accessible. 

I haven’t even got through the introductory first chapter yet, but jumped straight to a recipe for salmon cooked sous vide. I should mention that I’ve never cooked sous vide before, and have none of the equipment to do so. However, the recipe also included a method to cheat. Essentially you put the fish in a ziplock bag and gently poach it in a large pot of warm water. Then lightly brown it in a pan for a bit of color. If done right, should yield evenly cooked fish, tender but not raw, and juicy without being overcooked. The good news is that it worked great! And I can see how an actual sous vide setup would be even better. But that’s a story for a different day.

  1. The recipe calls for brining the fish before cooking, but I skipped that step and put the unseasoned salmon fillets straight into the ziploc quart bag, squeezing out all of the air to create a close approximation to a vacuum.
  2. Fill a large pot (I used a heavy 8-quart stock pot) with hot water from the tap. Use a digital thermometer, it should be around 120-125F depending on how well-done you want the fish. 
  3. Add the bag with the fish, and let it steep for 25 minutes. The water will cool a bit, but that’s ok because we started with it hotter than we want the finished product, and we used a large volume of water to retain the heat.
  4. Meanwhile, melt some butter (and/or olive oil) in a cast iron (or non-stick) pan. 
  5. Remove the fish from the bath, and take out the bag. Pat dry if wet. If the fish has skin, remove it and cook separately. Season both sides of the salmon to taste (I used some of Bobby Flay’s ancho fish spice mix), and cook gently in the pan for about 30 seconds on each side. The skin will take a minute or two per side to crisp up. 

Pan-Seared Duck Breast w blueberry sauce 

It’s hard to screw up duck breast, but also difficult to get it just right. Came pretty close tonight. Patted dry with paper towels, rubbed with a spice mix of salt, pepper, chili powder, sage, thyme, and rosemary, then gently pan seared in a cast iron skillet until medium rare. Served on a bed of sauteed asparagus and fresh peas with mushrooms and crumbled duck bacon, covered with fresh blueberry sauce, a side of garlic mashed potatoes, and washed down with a Golan Heights syrah.

Based on this recipe:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/141831/pan-seared-duck-breast-with-blueberry-sauce/

The dish is actually composed of 4 parts: the duck, the vegetables, the sauce, and the potatoes. 

Mix the spices in roughly equal parts to taste in a mortar and pestle and crush into a fine powder. Or chop the herbs if using fresh, which is of course prefered. Sprinkle liberally over both sides of duck, and allow to air dry at room temperature while preparing the other components.

Boil 3-4 potatoes with an equal # of peeled whole garlic cloves. No need to peel the potatoes. Drain but reserve a cup of the cooking liquid. Mash with butter and milk, add a bit of the liquid if too dry. Season with the duck spice mix. 

Saute two strips of D’Artagnan’s amazing duck bacon (or use pancetta or regular bacon) to render the fat until crispy. Reserve. Saute sliced mushrooms, garlic, and shallots in duck fat. Add asparagus and peas (or other fresh vegetables). Cook until barely tender but still al dente. Season with the spice mix used on the duck. Add a bit of the potato cooking water to keep from sticking and help vegetables to steam. 

Make the sauce with 1/2 pint fresh blueberries, and 2 TB (1/8 cup) each buckwheat honey, orange juice concentrate, red wine, water, dried cranberries. Deglaze with a splash of raspberry vodka or other spirit (optional). Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Remove from heat and enrich with a pat of butter (optional). Keep warm over very low heat until ready to serve.

Score skin of duck breast in diagonal pattern. Make sure to cut through outer layer, but don’t damage the meat. Pan sear over medium heat, skin side down for 5 minutes. Flip and cook for a few minutes. Test temperature with an instant read thermometer. Flip back over and cook until skin is nicely browned and fat is rendered. Do not overcook! 

Allow meat to rest for a few minutes, then slice and plate, topped with sauce. 

  

  

Filipino Fish Soup

Not very authentic, but came out aromatic and tasty. Nothing was measured, so all quantities below are very approximate.

Ingredients 

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 shallots
  • 6 slices ginger
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, optional
  • 6 small green chilies (leave whole for less heat)
  • 1 TB soy sauce
  • 1 tsp absinthe
  • 1 TB white vermouth
  • 1 TB patis fish sauce
  • 1 TB tamarind paste
  • 2 tsp miso paste
  • 1 tsp fish paste or 1 TB dried shrimp
  • 1/2 cup bay scallops
  • 1/2 cup medium shrimp 
  • 1 haddock fillet (or other firm fish)
  • 1 andouille sausage
  • 1 plum tomato, optional
  • 1 scallion

Directions

  1. Make a mirepoix of the vegetables. Saute in a large heavy bottom stock pot until onion is translucent.
  2. Add 1 liter of water, then stir in seasonings. 
  3. Bring to boil and simmer until carrots are almost tender. 
  4. Adjust seasonings of broth. Should be mildly spicy and salty and a bit tangy, but well balanced. 
  5. Add meat and fish and simmer gently until cooked through.
  6. If desired, thicken with cornstarch.
  7. Garnish with chopped scallion. 
  8. Serve with rice or bread. 

  

Tocino

Trying to learn Filipino food. Did ok with the Chicken Adobo, sinangag garlic fried rice, lumpia eggrolls, and chicken arroz caldo (congee), albeit none of it was terribly authentic; now on to Round 2. First up, Tocino. This is a sweet cured pork, typically eaten for breakfast with rice. I am trying it with turkey instead. 

Based on this recipe: http://www.angsarap.net/2013/11/05/tocino-2/ 

Ingredients

  • 2 turkey thighs (abt. 1 kg)
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 1 tsp anise seed
  • 3 TB annatto seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seed
  • 1 tsp coriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp whole allspice
  • 1 black cardamom pod
  • 1 dried red chili pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TB salt or Goya adobo seasoning
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 TB sherry or rice wine
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp Curing Salt #1 Prague Powder [optional] 

Directions

  1. Remove skin and bones from turkey, slice against the grain into thin strips and place in shallow container.
  2. Grind the whole spices and mix with sugar, garlic, remaining dry ingredients, and liquids in small bowl
  3. Pour mixture over the meat and stir to mix well.
  4. If using Curing Salt, allow to sit at room temperature for one hour.
  5. Marinate in fridge for 3 days.
  6. Saute in a bit of coconut or other oil over medium heat until cooked through and lightly browned. 
  7. Traditially served for breakfast with sinangag (garlic fried rice) and Achara (green papaya relish).

  

Lumpia Eggrolls

Last week I made eggrolls inspired by the PaperMoon Diner in Baltimore with duck, squash, and mushrooms. They were delicious, but this week I wanted something a bit different, so did a riff on a Filipino style lumpia eggroll, using ground turkey, shitake mushrooms, and snap peas. The filling was delicious, and would stand on its own with rice if you don’t feel like rolling in wrappers.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 slices ginger, minced
  • 4 large shitake mushrooms, chopped
  • small container sugar snap peas, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 TB rice wine or cider vinegar
  • 1 TB soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • eggroll wrappers
  • oil for frying

Directions

  1. in a large frying pan or wok, stir fry the turkey with the vegetables until the meat is no longer pink. 
  2. Add sauces and cook for 1-2 minutes to incorporate. Vegetables should be well wilted but still retain a bit of crunch. 
  3. Adjust seasonings and set filling aside to cool.
  4. Heat about 1/8″ deep oil in a clean large frying pan (or deep fry).
  5. put aboout 3 TB filling in eggroll wrapper along long axis, and roll while tucking in the edges. they should be less bulky than Chinese style eggrolls, which are rolled on the diagonal with more filling.
  6. fry for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown.
  7. drain on paper towels, service with sweet&sour vinegar-soy-mirin-sesame dipping sauce. 

Pan Roasted Fish in Aromatic Green Pipián Sauce

Still on the Mexican kick, day 2. Used the leftover tomatillo sauce from yesterday as the base for a luscious dish. Based on a Rick Bayless recipe for salmon, but I used frozen barramundi instead. The sauce is so good it would probably work with pretty much anything from scrod to mackerel. Not difficult, and quick if you pre-make the tomatillo sauce. Very elegant and super delicious, the combination of flavours is exotic yet subtle. Truly a restaurant quality dish. 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups green tomatillo sauce
  • 1-2 Serrano chiles, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds, raw
  • 1 fresh Hoya Santa leaf, chopped
  • 1 TB salted butter 
  • 1 lb fish
  • 1 poblano, seared and sliced into strips for rajas

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425F
  2. Melt 1 tsp butter in saucepan. Add sesame seeds and stir to coat and cook over medium heat until they start to colour.
  3. Add chopped chile and Hoya Santa and cook until sesame seeds are lightly brown.
  4. Add tomatillo sauce and simmer gently for a few minutes.
  5. Meanwhile,  melt 1 tsp butter in oven proof [cast iron] skillet or baking dish. Add fish, dot with remaining 1 tsp butter and put in oven. Cook until center reads 145F on instant thermometer, or to desired doneness. 
  6. Transfer sauce to blender and purée until smooth. Be careful because it’s hot. This step can be done with the cold sauce to avoid burns.
  7. Return sauce to pan and simmer while fish cooks.
  8. Spoon sauce onto plates, then add fish and top with more sauce. 
  9. Garnish with poblano rajas, crema Mexicana, and pickled red onion. Serve with warm corn tortillas. 

Notes

  • Use epazote, cilantro, and oregano as a substitute for the Hoya Santa. 
  • For a milder sauce use a seeded jalapeño instead of the Serrano. 
  • For dairy free, use olive oil and leave off the cream. 
  • For extra flavour, grease skillet with lard or bacon grease and then top fish with butter.