Puree of Green Cauliflower with Frizzled Scallions

This may be the best thing I have eaten in a week of good food. I want to call it Yowza Baby, but surely there’s a better name. This is based on a new-to-me technique for making purees. The instinct to make the frizzled scallions was my moment of genius for the month or maybe the year. I know it shows some steamed whole florets, but don’t bother. They are merely a distraction.

Green Cauliflower puree with Frizzled Scallions

Clean and chop up finely one head of cauliflower

In a pan, melt 2 or more tablespoons of butter in about 1 cm/1/4″ of water. The quantity should depend on the size of your cauliflower. Mine was small.

Put the chopped cauliflower into the pan, add salt amounting to a ratio of 1 teaspoon per pound. I used about 1/2 teaspoon.

Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until it is quite soft, but not mushy. Check and add hot water if needed to keep the water at the original level.

While it is cooking, slice a scallion very finely, then heat good oil in a small frying pan and toss the scallion into the oil, and then salt generously. Cook, tasting and correcting for salt, until just well caramelized and remove from the heat instantly. This is a condiment, so it must be well seasoned, remembering that butter here is salt free. If yours is not, then you should keep that in mind.

When the cauliflower is well-cooked, put it and the cooking liquid into a blender.

Add 2 tablespoons of butter. Whiz it up, stopping and scraping occasionally, until it is a silky puree, light and smooth.

Spread the puree on a serving dish, then scatter the fried scallions over it, including the oil in which they cooked. Serve hot.

For the contest, because it may be the best thing I have eaten in a week of good food.  I want to call it Yowza Baby, but surely there's a better name.  This is based on a new-to-me technique for making purees.  The instinct to make the frizzled scallions was my moment of genius for the month or maybe the year.  I know it shows some steamed whole florets, but don't bother.  They are merely a distraction.</p><br />
<p>Green Cauliflower puree with Frizzled Scallions</p><br />
<p>Clean and chop up finely one head of cauliflower</p><br />
<p>In a pan, melt 2 or more tablespoons of butter in about 1 cm/1/4" of water.  The quantity should depend on the size of your cauliflower.  Mine was small.</p><br />
<p>Put the chopped cauliflower into the pan, add salt amounting to a ratio of 1 teaspoon per pound.  I used about 1/2 teaspoon.</p><br />
<p>Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until it is quite soft, but not mushy.  Check and add hot water if needed to keep the water at the original level.</p><br />
<p>While it is cooking, slice a scallion very finely, then heat good oil in a small frying pan and toss the scallion into the oil, and then salt generously.  Cook, tasting and correcting for salt, until just well caramelized and remove from the heat instantly.  This is a condiment, so it must be well seasoned, remembering that butter here is salt free.  If yours is not, then you should keep that in mind.</p><br />
<p>When the cauliflower is well-cooked, put it and the cooking liquid into a blender.</p><br />
<p>Add 2 tablespoons of butter.  Whiz it up, stopping and scraping occasionally, until it is a silky puree, light and smooth.</p><br />
<p>Spread the puree on a serving dish, then scatter the fried scallions over it, including the oil in which they cooked.  Serve hot.This is very, very good vegetables!  Eat it.

Brussels Sprouts: love at first bite

Crispy little cabbage critters

Crispy little cabbage critters

When you really love something, sometimes it’s best to treat it simply. I really love Brussels sprouts. This recipe I call Korean because I met it back when I had my offices on the river in Georgetown, DC. The closest place to get a carry-out lunch was a hot and cold food bar owned by Koreans, and this was for me the best thing on it.
Do not be fooled into thinking I cooked 20 cabbages. The plate is a salad plate which makes it look like my lunch is bigger than it is. They are really tiny cavoletti di Bruxelles.

Trim and clean Brussels sprouts (I get 300 gram punnets here) and cut in half.
Bring abundant salted water to a boil. Toss in the sprouts.
Bring back to a simmer and cook 3 minutes.
While they are cooking, mince a small clove of garlic, julienne a small piece of ginger, squeeze about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice over them in a bowl. A pinch of salt, a tablespoon of vegetable oil and a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil goes in and stir.
By now your sprouts should have reached 3 minutes. Remove them from the heat, drain and then shock them with cold water. Drain well and toss into the bowl on the dressing. Turn gently. Taste and correct for salt. Let them come to room temperature, then turn them again before serving.
They will be fine in the refrigerator for days, but bring them to room temp before eating.

An Asian-style chicken dish for tonight

I have made this three times in two days to make sure I’ve written it right, and for a change I am happy to eat the same thing over and over.  It’s delicious and fits right into my reduced carbohydrate regime, but I would eat it anyway.  If I could get it, I’d have braised baby bok choy with it, but in real life what I had was spinach.  So I ate spinach.  Spinach happens.

You should try this, because it is easy, good and made of things almost everyone can find where they live.  I’m not sure I would want to make thirty of them at a time, but the recipe for two can be expanded to as many as you feel like.  Buon appettito.

the first cut

1-IMG_0430 Find the bone and make a cut along it end to end. Using a sharp knife cut the bone away from the flesh, starting at the joint you can see easily. Scrape all the meat away from the bone, leaving the more hidden joint attached.

Asian-style Chicken Thighs

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken thighs, skin on
  • 1 inch fresh ginger sliced extremely thin, then julienned
  • 4-5 inches of spring onion, sliced very thinly
  • a spare pinch Chinese 5 spice powder
  • pinch salt
  • splash rice wine vinegar
  • splash Marsala or Sherry
  • splash soy sauce
  • splash hot sauce of your choosing
  • splash toasted sesame oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying the thighs

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 225C or 450F.
  2. Partially bone each thigh as shown in the photos.
  3. Season with the Chinese 5 Spice powder and the salt.
  4. Wrap the thigh around the filling and fasten the skin together with a toothpick.
  5. Lightly salt the outside of the thighs, but be careful because there will be a sauce with soy sauce in it, so don't overdo.
  6. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan that can go into the oven.
  7. Saute first the skin side of the thigh, and then the underside, where the toothpick is, until both sides are golden. When you are doing the second side you'll have a chance to put some pressure on the joint still attached so that it will lie flatter.
  8. As soon as both sides are browned, slide the pan into the hot oven and cook for 18 minutes.
  9. Make the dipping sauce by combining all the "splashes" and agitating the bowl to mix. If you have some fresh chillies, thin slices of them would be a great garnish.
  10. When the cooked chicken comes out of the oven, let rest for 5-10 minutes. Pour a little sauce into a soup plate and perch a thigh on that. I would like steamed or braised baby bok choy with this, and I'd probably have pot stickers as an appetizer before.
  11. Try this, you may like it as much as I do and it is super easy to make.

1-IMG_0435

Cut the spring onions or scallions as finely as you can.

1-IMG_0440

Sprinkle the inside with just a small amount of Chinese 5 Spice powder, remembering it can be powerful stuff. Salt lightly. Put half the onion and half the ginger on the open thigh.

1-IMG_0442

Fold the sides over the stuffing and pin the skin closed with a toothpick.

1-IMG_0443

And they look like this on the skin side. Lightly salt the outside.

1-IMG_0455

Fry them in the vegetable oil in a frying pan that can go in the oven. Cook until golden, then slide them into the preheated oven.

1-IMG_0459

Make the sauce as it says in the recipe, put a little in a shallow soup plate, then add the chicken.

Fegatelli, ancora for a snowy day

It’s snowing. We are at a halt in the countryside, other than the slow proceeding to town to vote by all my neighbors. They’ve been so dispirited about this election that I’m grateful that they gathered the nerve to go. I have very good neighbors.

Anyway, I have been challenged to make a dish that is something filled or stuffed. I’m still on a reduced carbohydrate diet, so many dishes were tempting but not sensible. After all, with the roads as slick as a con-man’s spiel, who would eat them before I lost my self-control? And so I am making fegatelli. Almost no one makes this dish nowadays and it’s a crying shame, because it is one of the most distinctively Italian dishes, really unlike anybody else’s food, in my opinion. I haven’t made it since 2005.

This is what I will fill

This is what I will fill

This la rete, or the net. It is sometimes called net fat in English. It’s a natural part of the pig, thin and light and stretchy, and is the web by which my recipe hangs. I’m not sure it will be accepted as a filled dish. I’m pretty sure no one will make this top on their list of things to try. That’s a shame, too. It’s just delicious. In other countries than Italy you need a butcher to ask for it and for pork liver in a piece, rather than slices. You also need fresh bay leaves, and you may for the first time discover what bay leaf actually tastes like, because here it’s a distinguishable note, not just a simmered-in part of a herbal symphony.

Assuming your liver has come from a proper vendor and arrives already cleaned of veins and membranes, start here.  If it has those things you will need to prepare it yourself before beginning.

Cut the liver into chunks and the rete into pieces just big enough to fasten around them. You lay a chunk of liver on the net, then add a bay leaf and then make a gift package of it, fastening with a toothpick. Do them all.

Heat a capacious frying pan to moderate heat, and add a thin coating of olive oil. Place the fegatelli into it, then lower the heat to low. I usually put a couple of scraps of the net fat into the oil so that when they simmer I can see the pan is ready. All you need now is patience, because the fegatelli cook slowly, always slowly, and you have to turn them as the bottoms brown, using tongs. I find that they need turning when the bottom browns enough to be free of the pan, since they stick at first. It takes a bit of attention to get all six sides browned, since some want to topple. When they are nearly done, lightly salt them. It takes less salt than meat usually does, and I don’t know why.

When you surmise they might be done, after perhaps 30 minutes of slow cooking, take one out and cut it in two. It should be distinctly pink inside, but not the maroon of raw liver.

Cooking the fegatelli

Cooking the fegatelli

As you can see, some have just been turned and the rest are just as they were when put in the pan.

Ready to serve

Ready to serve

So this is what you have when you’ve finished. The rete has disappeared, melted into the olive oil and providing a delicate flavor you can get no other way. I serve them just like this, warning diners to remove the bay leaf as they cut them. While not as dangerous as dried bay leaf, these are definitely chewy and not terribly pleasant.

I would deglaze the pan with a bit of white wine, drizzle the resultant sauce sparingly over the fegatelli and serve with roasted or fried potatoes. A crunchy contract will be nice with the meaty chunks. Heck, if you’re going to eat liver cooked in pig fat why not fried potatoes, too? You can always have a nice salad afterward.

Rest the meat for 10 minutes and the red will disappear

Rest the meat for 10 minutes and the red will disappear

If you don’t eat them more often than every five years, I think you will come to no harm.

Umbria, from one lover of the homeground

This just scratches the very lovely surface of my home.

Eggnog as we love it

I was only eighteen, but it was my job to provide the eggnog.  I went to the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and there it was, a recipe for eggnog that seemed perfectly easy.  I went to the market and bought the ingredients.  Then at home I started making the parts.  But I hadn’t actually read through the whole recipe, so I made it wrong, and we loved it so much it became our favorite eggnog and no one in my family wants any other kind now.  If you live somewhere that has chancy eggs, buy pasteurized ones.  In Italy, if you check the dates, you’ll be fine.

For parties I make up the various parts for a double recipe and blend them in a punchbowl just before serving.  I grate nutmeg over it all.  I then proceed to rob the punchbowl and lose track of what else there is to do.  Be warned, your other duties should be finished before filling the bowl.  My kid is a teetotaler and does not add the liquor, but is a dedicated lover of this eggnog, anyway.

Judith’s Screwed-Up Eggnog

for 6-8 servings (who do they think they’re kidding?)

1/3 cup (79 ml) sugar

2 egg yolks

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 quart (946 ml) milk

2 egg white

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla (or use vanilla sugars in both cases above)

brandy or rum to taste, start with 3/4 cup (177 ml)

1/2 cup (118 ml) heavy cream

Beat the egg yolks and the first sugar together very well, add salt.  Stir in the milk.  Put aside.

Beat the egg whites, slowly adding the second amount of sugar until it forms a meringue, beating in the vanilla, if used, toward the end.  Put aside.

If making this ahead, put both concoctions into the fridge or out on a frosty porch, well covered.

When ready to serve, beat the whipping cream to a stiff consistency.

Put the first mixture into a big bowl.  Stir in the liquor.  Using a whisk, fold in the meringue.  Taste to see how much liquor to add.  Still with the whisk, fold in the whipped cream.  Grate or sprinkle nutmeg over and serve with a ladle.

That’s it folks, the one-way fluffy road to Nirvana.

 

 

The storm, the flood

These are shaky because the force of the water was making the ground tremble.  It was impressive.

This was, I was told, the remnant of Hurricane Sandy.

Christmas Bling

The tree

Reprise for summer vegetables

http://www.judithgreenwood.com/more-resource-and-time-saving-ideas/

Almost back!

I am playing serious catch up all over my life due to the long period of inactivity.  If you thought I wasn’t coming back, well I wasn’t so sure I could, either.  But I now walk upright, if not for very long at a time, and I now do almost everything I ever did, just less of it, so next on my list is a reduced blogging schedule.

 

Meantime, if you need something to do, Google Workaway and Helpx.  I was introduced to them by friends and I am now hosting one traveler after another who works 4 hours five days a week to help me get things back on track.  It’s a great opportunity on both sides.  Hosts get some needed help and volunteers get a roof and their food and an introduction to life in the reality lane in whatever countries they visit.  Fortunately for me and my friends, lots of people want to come to Italy.

So long for now.  I’ll be back with a real post shortly.

 

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