Monday, July 20, 2009

TIMOC #3: Savory Apple Crepes

(to know what TIMOC means, read here)

Third book from the right on my top shelf, is this book that Costco was giving away to every customer one Saturday morning, a couple of years ago.
It may break the pattern of International and travel books, but in a sort of way it doesn't: the nearest Costco is about a thousand miles from here, so what was once a regular place of shopping for us, sounds now quite exotic! ;-)

Of course I didn't do my shopping there for the recipe I'm about to show: Savory Apple Crepes.
It is in the Breakfast section, but we had the crepes for a light lunch.

The recipe called for ready made crepes, but it takes 20 minutes to make them, so I always prefer to cook them from scratch.

My recipe (don't ask me where I got it, can't remember at all) asks for 1.5 tbsp of butter, melted, 3 eggs, 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of milk and a pinch of salt.

As for the filling, it's
4 tbsp butter,
2 tbsp shallots (I used green onion),
4 apples (I chose Granny Smith), peeled and diced,
1/3 golden raisins
(in a)
1/4 cup white wine,
2 tsp flour,
1 tsp curry powder,
1/3 whipping cream,
some slices of manchego cheese (I used local cheese, manchego is impossible to find here).

Melt the butter in a skillet, add the ingredients one at a time in the given order (hold the cheese).
10 minutes is all you need to have the apples cooked at the right point in a creamy sauce.

Place the filling on a crepes, and put the cheese on top, it will melt deliciously once you roll the crepe.

VoilĂ !

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jammin' and Jellin'

Last week I jammed.
Being no musician, that merely means I took some fruit and made jam of it.

It all started a couple of weeks ago, with blackcurrant, then last week I put other four jam/gels under my belt (metaphorically and physically).

First came peaches; Fiumicello is a large municipality/territory yards away from the Italian Northeastern lagoon and is famous for its huge, succulent, peaches, with an intense yellow pulp that turns to red when fully mature.
I jammed them with blueberries.

Then came lemons: peel away just the rind (no white) of a lemon, boil it for 10 minutes, wash it, then cut it in teeny tiny strips and boil them again for another 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the lemons (I used three lemons, and the peel of just one) well and jam them with sugar.
I usually calculate the dose of sugar as 70% of fruit weight, more or less (less for the peaches, a little more for lemons).
Cook for about 30 minutes, then add the lemon peel and 2 tablespoons of almond flour.
Even if I used the rind of just one lemon, the jam was really strong and tangy; try more peel at your own risk!

The last jam was Pear Williams' (just one pear, I was running out of jars!) with fresh grated ginger (about 1.5 tbsp) and some poppy seeds.

Then I made a gel of the same Fiumicello peaches about which I already told and some mango pulp, with a hint of Dijon mustard.
The gel was hard enough to be cut in cubes (sorry, no individual pic available).

Now, what did I do with all these wondrous wonders??
I set a platter with cheese pairings:

Clockwise, starting from top, are blackcurrant/green tea/lime, pear/ginger/poppyseed, peach/blueberries, lemon/almond, and the cubes at the immediate left of lemon are the cubes of peach and mango.

The cheese paired to each is the one at the left of the tip of each bowl(considering the tip pointing up, of course).

Lemon jam and blackcurrant jam were paired with the same cheese, only at a different stage of aging. Here they call it "Latteria" (which literally means "Milk store") and it's a cheddar-like cheese.
Now, most of the Italians would shiver about a comparison with cheddar, but I'm positive that's because they've never tasted good artisan cheddar, some like the ones those guys at Beehive Cheese in Northern Utah make.
At least, that's what happened to me: I rolled my eyes the first time I walked into their shop and they offered me *cheddar*, but after trusting them that first time, I became a regular customer (until I could, at least!).

Blackcurrant was paired with a 6 months aged Latteria, while the 2 months was smooth enough to balance the almost aggressive lemon jam.

Pear jam was paired with a Parmigiano of 24 months of age and peaches/blueberries went with Formadi Frant, a cheese with a strong, spicy taste (there's pepper in it and you'll find more info about that here)

As for the last pair, I played with textures and to the solid fruit taste I gave a spreadable goat cheese, with a little of oil and pepper.

I was already in the mood, so I planned a jelly dessert, too. I took the recipe in a Costco book, which will be my next TIMOC instalment.

Dissolve 5tsp of gelatin powder in one cup of hot water, then 1.5 cups of sugar-

When the mix is at room temperature, add 2 cups of cold dry champagne, then pour over pitted cherries and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

The kids and I couldn't pick a picture between the two we liked most, so I'm putting on both of them, and that's it, cherries on top!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

TIMOC #2: Salzburger Bierfleisch

Got myself my own acronym, ha!
For the second instalment of Traveling In My Own Cookbooks we make a trip to Austria.
If you have read me before it will not sound new.
Yes, I bought the book during my recent trip to Salzburg, and I don't know exactly why I put it up there on the top shelf, so that it became the second book to be examined.
If you consider that during last week I was reading a biography of Mozart's, you will see how Austria is not letting me go.
Think of it as making the best of my trip, it's like it lasted a little more.

Anyway, Salzburger Bierfliesch is meat cooked in a beer sauce.

Main ingredient of course is meat, of tender beef, 600gr, about 1lb 5oz.

Then starting from the top, clockwise:

100gr/3oz onion
150gr/5oz smoked pancetta
1 slice rye bread
40gr/2tbsp flour
250ml/1cup dark beer
2 slices speck
20gr/1tbsp tomato paste
4tbsp pickled onions
80gr/3oz strutto
750ml/3cups beef broth (not portrayed)

Now, as for strutto: I find that the English word is "lard", only it's not the same as solid lard, the one you can slice.
You put that solid lard in a pan, heat it and you will see that it releases fat. That liquid fat, taken, filtered and cooled is strutto. Most of the time it's substituted with butter, but of course it's not exactly the same.
I must say that the concept of strutto makes me and my arteries a little uncomfortable and that this was the first time I talked myself into using it, for the sake of discovery and of some kind of return to the roots.
I understand the sense it makes in a recipe, yet it's really a concentrate of pure fat, they're making sure not a single molecule of water, not a single fiber is left in.

Dice the meat, cherish it with salt and pepper and put it into the pan where you will have melted your fat (at least, it will be yours soon!)

Cook it one every side, then set the meat apart and in the same pan fry onion and pancetta, both finely diced

Let them take some color, thicken with flour then dilute with beer

Pour the beef broth in, adjust with salt, pepper, and thyme and marjoram if you like, add the meat, cover and let it cook completely (about 15 minutes)

To garnish, stir fry in a little oil the diced bread with shredded speck and pickled onions

You will put this mix on the finished plate.

Talking of "finished plate", I wasn't completely satisfied, I had to make an appropriate side, so I ended cooking two recipes from this book, too.
The choice was quite obliged, I picked the Kartoffelknodel (Potato Dumplings) I was served at Gablerbrau.

500gr/1lb 2 oz potatoes
50gr/2 oz semolina flour
150gr/5 oz flour
2 egg yolks
30gr/1oz butter

Boil and mash the potatoes

Work them with all the ingredients, one at a time, then let it rest.

Form the dumplings and boil them (I'd say 6/7 minutes, the book is not clear with times of cooking).

Put your two pieces of work together, and enjoy your taste of Austria