Things to Come
So the dished of the week has been falling off for a minute due to the time requirements of finals. So, since the holidays have wrapped up for me, I have gad some time to collect a few recipes and their accompanying photos.
So the dished of the week has been falling off for a minute due to the time requirements of finals. So, since the holidays have wrapped up for me, I have gad some time to collect a few recipes and their accompanying photos.
Well I have been meaning to finish the last recipe of posting last week, but alas with the semester drawing to an end I am pressured to finish final projects and reading for classes.
So, as for when the next recipe, you will hope fully see it within a week.
Keep reading, and I’ll keep posting.
So, it is time for another dish of the week. This on is vegetarian, i.e. no meat, yet with the right ingredients can be made vegan. Though I would advise against the vegan version as the current one is SO DELICIOUS.
Ok. So I ma sure that most everyone has had rice or bread pudding. Usually a delectable dish of soaked bread or rice in egg, milk, spices, sugar, and maybe a bit of alcohol. Most people think of it as strictly a dessert dish. Thanks to my wife and all her wisdom, compiled with the recipes of Bon Appetit, we came to this revelation; all these foods that we have been socialized to think of them in only one particular context has only served to limit our imagination, and thereby our understanding of the dynamics of people and food.
All those dishes we were led to believe that it had to be done one way or the other for the sake of these constrictive societal norms we be willingly strangled from their very ability to entice and enrich our lives by our very narrow understanding of their existence. We discriminated against them based upon the perceived essence of what the dish should be.
Well no more.
This is Savory Bread Pudding. Done only one of an infinite number of ways available depending upon the ingredients that you like the most or are the most curious about.
This version happens to be pretty simple:
3 jumbo eggs
1 2/3 cup of whole milk
3 Tbsp brown mustard
kosher salt and black pepper to taste.
1.5 lbs of bread, cubed and dried in the oven, or stale.
2 medium onions, medium dice
2-3 carrots, medium dice
2 stalks of celery, medium dice
2 cups butter nut squash, peeled and large dice - the roasted
1 bunch of mustard greens, stemmed and cut into 1.5 inch ribbons
3-4 cloves of garlic, rough dice
2-3 sprigs of rosemary, rough chop
8oz semi-soft goat cheese (mild; Benning from Holland)
The first thing that should be done and taken into consideration here is that this dish requires some planning and forethought. This means preparing certain ingredients a day or more before you actually want or need to make the dish.
Now you may think that this entails a lot of work and hassle in a kitchen. We it does, and anything that is decent enough to put in your mouth and enjoy, not to just eat, takes effort. What you spend your hard earned money on in a restaurant is done in much the same manner as I am about to describe. Hence the reason why your food can be at your table in a matter of 10-20 minutes, depending on the dish and the kitchen, when you go for the connivence of eating out.
The upside to doing it at home though are more numerous: self satisfaction, its cheaper, better for you, you actually know exactly what is in your food, and not to mention the WOW factor when you present this dish to your loved ones or guests.
Prepare before (if you like.)
Preheat your oven to 425. Have a clean sheet pan ready for the roasting of the squash.
The pre-prep is pretty simple except for one thing; peeling the butternut squash. In peeling the thick skin off of it use a towel because it will begin to weep water and sugars and then become very slippery and dangerous to handle. So do yourself a favor.
Once the squash is skinned, cut in half and then seed the core out. Once this is done, cut the squash, perpendicular to its length, into 1” sections and then cube those down into large cubes.
Peel and dice your onions. Add the onions and squash together in a large bowl and add enough EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) to coat the ingredients. Then peel the leaves of rosemary and remove the skin of the garlic and chop them up together into a rough mixture. Add this to the bowl of squash and onions. Add about a 4 finger pinch of salt (approx 2 tsp) and pepper to the bowl. Mix until everything is coated in salt, pepper, rosemary, EVOO, and garlic.
Spread onto the sheet pan and place into the preheated oven for about 30 minutes to roast.
The Bread should be cut or torn into rough cubes and then either dried in the oven or left out over a day or two to dry naturally.
Both of these steps can be done a day to upwards of a week ahead with about zero affect on the taste and balance of the dish. Some might argue that the longer you let the items marinate the better; this does have the tendency to intensify the flavors of the ingredients since you would be basically marinating the ingredients of the roasted squash much like you would do for meats or pickling.
This is also a good time to stem your mustard greens and wash them thoroughly along with the celery and carrots.
Once the pre-prep is done and available for use the rest of the dish is ridiculously easy to put together, and the total time from start to finish is maybe an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes.
From here, in large bowl, add the milk, shelled eggs, mustard together and mix thoroughly. Add the dried bread chunks and mix it together. Make sure to let the bread sit for a few minutes in the mixture so as to let it soak into the dried bread, and then mix the concoction together by hand. The mixing by hand is recommended so as to not break apart the bread pieces after they become saturated in the “pudding” mixture.
Dice the carrots and celery into small chunks and then take the washed mustard greens and cut into wide’ish strips perpendicular to the leaves.
Grate the 8oz of mild goat cheese (I use a Holland brand, Benning). Mix in by hand the rest of the prep’ed ingredients with the bread after most of the moisture is absorbed by the bread (that is the carrots, celery, mustard greens, squash mixture, and the cheese) while reserving about a 1/3 - 1/2 cup to sprinkle over the top when it is panned.
Make sure to have a 9” rectangular casserole/ baking pan available and wipe the inside of it with oil before placing the bread pudding into it for baking. I use EVOO (Actually, I pretty much use EVOO for EVERYTHING).
Preheat your oven to 375, and then set your timer for 45 minutes. Place the pudding into the pan, making sure to pack it down since this will be baked without a cover.
Bake and then let rest for 5-10 minutes so that it cools and settles.
Serve and enjoy.
So, who here knows how to make your own pizza dough or makes their own pizza on a regular basis?
I know I can say that my wife and I do. About once a week we make a batch of dough, stretch it out into two asymmetrical flats and proceed with garnishing it in traditional fashions, mozzarella di buffala and basil leaves with crushed Italian plum tomatoes, or the different with escarole, pears and french goat cheese.
The thing is for this issue of Sweetz’ recipes is the pizza dough and some suggestions on what to do with it once the dough has risen to the occasion for the consumption.
So pizza dough, especially in the day of technology and modern home conveniences, is as easy as dressing the pie after the dough is stretched.
If you have a mixer, this is the best time to use it. So here it goes.
Take 3/4 cup hot water (105-115 degrees F) and add 1 tsp brown sugar and 2 tsp yeast and stir vigorously. Allow to foam for 5 minutes.
Once the it has frothed up, in you mixer put the yeast, sugar, and water combination in. Slowly work in batches 2 cups flour, 3 Tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), 1 tsp kosher salt with the mixer at medium high speed.
Keep mixing it until the dough pulls together from the side into a solid ball. (You may need to lightly adjust the levels of water if it seems too dry, or with flour if it seems too wet.)
Once the dough has balled up, pull it from the bowl and oil the bowl down. Place the dough ball back into the ball and then cover with a wet rag and place near a light source of heat. Let the dough rise for 1 hour. After the hour the dough is ready to roll out and make your pies.
So the rest of what you do with you pizza is up to you. The two you see in the pics below are of a mozzarella, basil, artichoke heart and fresh heirloom beefsteak tomato with rosemary and garlic added into the dough mixture, and tomato and basil.
So make your own and share it with me or anyone else you desire. ENJOY!
Ok. So who here knows how to cook rice? Does any one have a preferred way to bring this tasty, starchy grain to its perfect form of edibility?
Rice: an ingredient that has showed my more forms of itself then I can begin to imagine. And I have cooked it into innumerable variations and consistencies with a plethora of spices and accompanying friends.
It is the one thing (OK, maybe one of three or four) that I CAN cook, and in all honesty, 99% of the time not screw up.
Now I cooked rice in I can’t remember the number of kitchens over my short’ish culinary career. But I learned to master my technique and was allowed to blossom my relationship with this delectable grain under three wonderful chefs that granted me their wisdom. So many thanks to Tony Miller and Yogi ( I believe Tony is still the head chef over at Bubba Gumps Shrimp at Pier 39, former head Chef at Thristy Bear Brewing Company, both in San Francisco) Tommy Castellani, my sous chef/ chef de cuisine at William Sonoma, SF, and Kamo Yakuzura at Java Sushi in Truckee, CA. Each of these great teachers added integral aspects to my relationship and understanding of this drop of rain coalesced from the heavens above. And to them I owe them unspeakable thanks and absolute credit to the knowledge that gave birth to this talent of mine.
Now, this particular recipe is a twist of the skill I received from all three of my chefs and their staff and and I melded their technical knowledge with the translated expansion of Tuscan cuisine’s demand for simplicity and supplication to the ingredients that I got from Chris Fernandez, the former Chef of Stars, SF and Poggio in Sausalito.
It is a dish I love to make, and my wife loves to eat. It has body and giggles, as Tommy demanded from me, yet it only emphasizes the purest aspects of the ingredients I hand pick from my local farmers market. That is except for the rice, which is different from the aborio that is a staple for a true Italian risotto. Instead I use a Japanese short grain rice, Haiga, a form of Koshihikari rice that has not been polished to the point that it does not lose the germ, and therefore has a naturally higher protein and vitamin content in the dish.
So what are the tricks to this dish?
Well the trick is sitting back and coming to an understanding about what you want the dish to say about the ingredients that you are about to use. And of course that this is something, like all the best things in life, that CANNOT be rushed. The best food, whether it comes from a restaurant, a home kitchen, or even a camp fire takes time. The process is just as important as the results that you will enjoy when everything is all said and done.
Risotto, much like paella, juk or even a child, is a creation that requires it to develop in its own time taking into consideration the amalgamation circumstances. It will never cook the same way twice, and if it did, what fun would that be?
So as for the dish, here it is in its most basic of forms. First question should be what are you going to put into it and then how many people are you trying to feed.
Since this is one of my versions, and one I just made recently, this is roasted squash, with sweet sweated onions, carrots, garlic, rosemary, vegetable stock, and finished with a bit of butter and then pecorino romano and chevre.
OF course just about everything I cook has olive oil (actually EVOO - extra virgin olive oil - I use a greek kalamata olive based oil) and then a bit of cracked pepper blend. Yet the salt content of this dish should be limited due to the high salt levels used in the production of the pecorino romano. This is something to always take into mind when you cook; every ingredient has an affect upon the totality of the creation and how it will eventually stimulate your palate.
Here it comes down to how many people you are about to feed, and how do you want to incorporate the squash into the dish. Since this is a risotto, I was taught it was all about the purity of the color of the rice and use the other ingredients to contrast with the creamy white. So this normally leads a cook down the road of not cooking the squash in the risotto, but to roast it before.
yellow sweet onion
1/2 squash (approx. 1 1/4 cups) roasted with olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs (hard leaf like thyme or rosemary)
vegetable stock (enough to have 2 cups of stock to every cup of rice)
So this is how a recipe of this style and magnitude works. A proportionate amount of onions are sweated down (which is usually done by adding salt and having them over low heat to draw out the flavor and water of the onion). This starts out as a slow process and done as such it, unless you have LOTS of experience, CANNOT be walked away from. SO this means you get to stand there constantly stirring and moving the about the pan till they become translucent. When the onions are working in the pan for about 2-3 minutes add your dices carrots (I usually dice therm down to about 1/4” pieces and they don’t have to be perfect.).
Once that is achieved, you add a dash more olive oil and then the rice. Cooking the rice in the oil for only 30 seconds to about a minute, just long enough to get it to bloom and be coated in the olive oil, you begin to add stock.
The stock you slowly work into the rice and and let the lowered heat allow the rice to absorb the stock. As more stock is integrated into the dish you add more by the spoon full. Make sure to keep the rice and stock mixture moving about the pan. Remember that risotto is unlike paella in the facts that risotto is based upon creating a balance between the liquid, the developed glutens of the starch that is bled out of the rice and the maintenance of the rice grain’s structure without scorching or creating a caramelization of the sugars , while in paella it is the opposite of sorts: absorbing all the liquids and developing a crust of sorts on the bottom of the paella pan that is meant to be the cue de grace of intensified flavor and goodies after the main dish is done to be scraped up and eaten with crusty breads.
So, since adding the stock to your rice, make sure to check the flavor of the stock in the pan over a period of about 20-25 minutes, which is about how long it takes to cook the rice to al dente. Once the rice is nearing completion add the squash to the dish and fold in with about a Tbsp of butter.
Once the butter and the squash have been folded in it is time to finish the dish with the pecorino and chevre. Shred the pecorino over the dish and fold it in and then I finish the dish with the chevre that I break up with my fingers. Final touch is a little cracked pepper and let the rice sit and settle for about 10 minutes or so, so that it may settle into itself.
Just remember that a great Italian risotto has body, so it should still move when you shake the pan. So a little excess moisture is OK. The rice will eventually absorb it. So have fun and enjoy. This is a family dish so make sure to share it.
So I had a conversation recently with a friend of mine and the question cam up about pickling. How to do it and what to use. And I thought there for a moment, shit what do I know about it? I thought i knew the basic premise behind it; you know it is kind of like brining meats. Its vinegar, spices, bay leaf, salt and a little bit of time.
And then I thought that of all the things that I learned in my years of working in a kitchen, this is one of the few things that I did not learn about.
So here is a basic run through of how to pickle, well, just about anything.
The whole premise behind pickling is to preserve the food for long period through cooking the food stuffs with the acidic nature of your pickling broth.
I recently got some Jersey cucumbers from the farmers’ market and tested it out for my self. And when doing actual pickles I do recommend using dill as a means of cutting through the sour of the vinegar.
2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp pepper corns
1 tsp of mustard seed
2 pinches of chili flake
1/2 bunch of dill
2 cups of cider vinegar
1 1/2 cup of water
2-3 bay leaves
Take your ingredients and mix them all together in a stock pot. Turn the heat on and bring the concoction to a boil and then turn it of and let the temp come down. Add enough pickles to the mixture so that that are covered in the liquid. Add a plate on top of them and then let them sit for 2-3 hours.
This means of pickling gives you the classic “kosher” pickle taste and flavor of sour, sweet, spicy, and salty with the snap of a fresh cucumber.
Now this is the recipe that I am currently playing with and so it is still in the developmental stages.
But the idea comes now with the push for farm fresh produce and with the horn of plenty staring you in the face, what do you do with all the extra? When you buy too much, or if you are lucky, when you grow too much? You do the same things my grandparents did, and their parents and generations did before them for hundreds of years: pickle and store.
So, I have been thinking about the premise behind this particular page and then it dawned on me.
It is about cooking; the food we eat, how we prepare it, where we do it, the who for and why.
So I thought since Katie and I prepare a menu every week I could pull one recipe, no matter how simple or complex and bring it to everyone else. This is because in my mind, like every piece of art, it is meant to be shared. Much like a great meal, whether is is the most complicated dish of Thai, Hindi, or French cuisine, or even if it is the simple comfort foods that we grew up with.
Food is the most communal way for all of us human beings to gather and communicate.
And since I am currently in school to get my teaching degree in English, my most obvious form of interaction, then it only makes sense that I should also disseminate my thoughts on the other forms I like to interact and socialize with my community.
So, as I post up some recipes from Katie and I’s weekly menu so should you. If anything else, it may not be the style of cuisine you love the most that ties us together as people, but the fact that no one can say no to a home cooked meal does.
That is not to say that we should look for all those things that are necessarily the same, but to take that into consideration while celebrating our differences.
Just as long as you don’t decide to start “taking each other out.”
Chio for now!
Now, the previous pics are of my process to roast an acorn squash. But, the pictorial series doesn’t really give the process the justice it deserves. Yet, the ingredients give the stomach what it deserves.
On the blog that links you to this one, I addressed an issue with an observation I had about the farmer’s market my wife and I go to. This was based around another observation that my wife brought up to me about the change in the in the demographic make-up of our local farmer’s market.
Needless to say, this piece is not going to be about that. Yet the change in the demographics of our farmer’s market cliental was precipitated by a change in the purveyors. People that were much the same as people that we thought had left or been displaced during the expansion of the market; Latin, Indian, and Tibetan.
Yet a portion of the demographics that we perceived to have left seem to have taken an alternate route in their involvement in the farmer’s market. They themselves have transitioned into the role of purveyor. A place where they saw an opportunity to have access to fresh and locally grown foods has become also an economic opportunity for them as they have observed the growth and change in the composition of the cliental of the market.
This is most likely a similar redirection of observational awareness that brought the small farmers to our market. ( And I find it very interesting that my wife and I take such ownership of this farmer’s market in Jackson Heights, Queens. Yet, when it is your primary source of produce and you take the time to involve yourself in their lives and in the health of their business, you become as much a part of their lives and sense of normality as they are apart of yours.)
SO the real focus of this piece: All of the ingredients that are splayed across our cutting board awaiting their own form of transmutation were provide for my wife and I by the farmers of our farmer’s market. Our general well being and health in this grand distortion, all of us that live here call home and NYC, comes from these farmers.
Every week our Sunday ritual is a trip to do the shopping, and 99% of the time involves a kindly stroll checking in on our local farmers and their families and crops. Seeing what is coming out, what has been just freshly harvested, making sure that the money we spend is money well spent. It goes from our hands to theirs, no corporate middle man allowed. No pesticide and cancer causing agents needed. Food grown with love and respect towards the farmers, the land they are caretakers of, and their extended family that they are feeding; people such as my wife and myself.
So when you go to the store, think about the total effect of the money you are about to spend. Who’s hand is it going into and ultimately who’s pocket is it really filling.
Can you place a real face and a real visceral interaction and place that connection to the bills that transferred hands?
The food that fills our bellies, nourishes our souls, and provides a place and purpose for other families in our community of beings (both human and nonhuman alike).
So WHAT AM I PROMOTING HERE??
In an age where the almighty dollar speaks louder than our ballots, vote with it. Where you spend your money, and how is what will ultimately initiate the tell tale shake of loosening the bonds of corporate America from our ankles. Your local farmers need the support more than a multibillion dollar corporation does because every dollar they bring in actually counts to their livelihood.