21 January 2014

Dill pickles

Bbq Jr. is big into the pickles. Whenever we're out at a restaurant, he asks if he can have a pickle with his dinner. So, to attract him to cooking, we've been making pickles together. We started with an old standard - dill pickles.

There are two reasons to pickle. One is long-term preservation. That's harder. You need to sterilize jars. Probably should hot pickle your veggies. The other reason is deliciousness. There, you need clean jars. And you need to keep your pickles in the fridge when you're done. They're good for a couple of months in the fridge. I pickle for deliciousness. If you need to learn how to store your pickles at room temperature, look to The Preservation Kitchen, or other pickling references. If you pickle for deliciousness, read on.

I used the recipe in The Preservation Kitchen, although most dill pickle recipes are about the same. Add a tiny bit of sugar to make it sweeter. Add a tiny bit of crushed peppers to make it hotter. But, basically the same:
5 ½ cups water
3 ½ cups champagne vinegar
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp sugar
5 tsp dill seeds
10 dill sprigs
10 garlic cloves
4 ½ lb pickling cucumbers

We picked a couple types of cucumbers, and chopped them together.



Knife skills are important to develop at a young age.



Pack the dill, dill seeds, garlic and chopped cucumbers into your pickle jars.



Boil the water, vinegar, salt and sugar, until the sugar and salt are dissolved and the liquid is boiling. Pour the hot brine over the packed veggies.



Allow to cool to room temperature. Cap, and place them in the fridge. Strictly speaking, they're pickles now.



But they improve with age. They peak at about 3 weeks. Eat as a condiment, or as a snack. Tasty.



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07 January 2014

Mashed potato soup

I'm not generally a fan of the starches (except homemade bread - I love homemade bread). Baked potato. Mashed potato. Rice. I'm not a huge fan. But when I read the recipe for Morimoto's potato soup, I knew I had to try it (adapted from his Morimoto: The New Art of Japanese Cooking). This is one of the best things I have ever cooked.

Morimoto starts out the section with a fairly hilarious quote:
I must confess I have a weakness for luxurious foods like lobster, caviar and foie gras. But I also respect the humbles of ingredients. Their plainness offers me a different kind of challenge. Here a simple potato is transformed into an elegant soup you could serve at any dinner party.

Of course, the recipe also includes caviar, which certainly helps elevate the humble potato.

First, the broth. The broth is a simple dashi-based broth. The genius who first decided to boil kelp and fish flakes should be honored with the status of a demi-god.
4 cups water
½ cup loosely packed bonito flakes
1 piece 4x6 inch kombu
1 large baking potato
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
¾ cup half and half
2 tbsp sake
3 tbsp light-colored soy sauce
salt
1 oz caviar
wasabi
chives

Kombu and bonito flakes are available at Japanese and Korean grocery stores. At H-Mart in Massachusetts, there is a kelp section of the store, where you find the kombu. The bonito flakes (dried, shaved fish flakes) are in the seasoning section. Kombu:



And bonito flakes:



Rinse off the kombu. Place into a pot with the 4 cups water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes (until it starts to make your kitchen smell like a wharf), and then remove from heat. Add the bonito flakes, and stir. Allow the mixture to cool (20 minutes or so). Strain the liquid into a different pot to remove the kelp and bonito flakes. Don't be alarmed by the smell, the broth will be delicious.

Meanwhile, take a baking potato, and stab it with a fork a few times.



Steam until soft (20-30 minutes). Remove from heat, and remove the skin from the potato. Mash the potato, and then force it through a potato ricer or a fine sieve.



Heat the butter and cream in a pot until melted. Whisk in the sieved potato. At first it will float around in the cream, but as you continually whisk, it will turn into a syrupy goop. Continue whisking until it has the texture of a polenta.



Meanwhile, reheat the broth. Season with sake and soy sauce, and salt to taste.

When the potatoes come together in a thickened consistency, scoop it into the centre of the bowls you're serving it in (this makes 6 nice appetizers). Pour broth around it. Add a scoop of wasabi, some chives and a scoop of caviar to the potato. Serve.



This will be a repeat in our house. Very super delicious.



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07 September 2013

A lazy Saturday calls for...

Mojito

... a mojito! We've been rather quiet of late, here at Indirect Heat, but not due to a lack of food enjoyment. We've had some blogatious IT problems that are starting to resolve themselves.

In the meantime, we've been enjoying the bounty of our garden. The mojito has become Mrs. Dude's favourite summer drink. And we're doing our best to enjoy it as the summer wanes. Our mojito is mintier than most, given the usage of Minty simple syrup. We base our recipe off of the one at use real butter.

Minty simple syrup:
8 oz. sugar
8 oz. water
4 large sprigs of fresh mint

Mix the sugar and water. Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar, then toss in the mint sprigs, fresh from the garden. Let cool to room temperature, sieve out the mint. Chill. This minty simple syrup is good for weeks in the fridge.

Now, to the mojito. We use Privateer amber rum, a rum that tastes like it's been aged in wood. It has interesting bourbon notes, which makes for a much more sophisticated mojito:

½ lime, juice of to taste
2 oz minty simple syrup, to taste
bunch of mint leaves
2 oz rum, to taste -
club soda or sparkling water to taste
lime wedge, for garnish
mint leaves, for garnish
ice

Mix the ingredients, and garnish with the mint and lime wedge. Most of the mint flavour is coming from the simple syrup, so you can leave out the garnish if you're feeling lazy. Serve.

A perfect Saturday beverage for a hot evening. Salud.

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22 June 2013

A lazy Saturday calls for...

a cucumber beverage.

Cucumber

There have been entirely too few lazy Saturdays of late. Working. Painting the house. Working. Gardening. Working. Plumbing. But this weekend, I am inspired to make a beverage we had recently at our dear friends' home. They found it here.
1–2 pieces of thinly sliced lemons
4–6 pieces of thinly sliced cucumbers
1 tsp of honey
2 oz vodka
4 oz sparkling water
3–4 cubes of ice
mint for garnish
Mix the vodka and honey. Add everything else to the glass. We used chocolate mint and spearmint from the garden. And what a delicious drink for a hot day.

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