Friday, February 27, 2015

Soondubu Jjigae

(Spicy tofu soup with seafood)

      This is something of a rendition of Lila's and mine of soondubu jjigae which she has made as a New Year's tradition for I don't know how long, maybe always.  Having set out to write the recipe I have suitably liquored myself up and here we are now. I haven't gone over the rules for cooking very thoroughly to date so let me start with rule number one: never cook sober (at least if you are trying to have a good time - alcohol goes with food and the two are good friends, take advantage of that).
     First things first: when you go to make a particularly ethnic food do not shop at local supermarket; it's way too expensive and doesn't give you what you actually need. For instance, when I was first learning about Spanish I acquired some smoked Spanish paprika at the supermarket for a dinner that I was doing for my parents and was incredibly disappointed in the end result because in spite of saying that it was in fact Spanish Paprika it tasted nothing like the real deal. In the case of this recipe we use dried Korean chili powder and gochujang, you should find a Korean or suitably Asian store to get these ingredients as regular chili powder and Sriracha are not suitable substitutes. In addition - at the Asian stores, ingredients such as shallots and seafood can be much cheaper, though use your senses, if the seafood smells not so good - go elsewhere.

1/3 cup rice per person (we used 'black rice' which is a combination of short grain white rice and wild black rice at a ratio of 10/1 - otherwise the rice comes out too purple)

4 cups chicken or fish stock
1/4 cup chopped seaweed
4 dried anchovy filets

1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, 1/4 inch sliced
2 cloves garlic, slivered
1 shallot, sliced
1 tbls ginger, slivered
1 tsp finely chopped lemongrass
2 tsp fine chili powder (or more or less for spice preference)
1 tbls gochujang (fermented chili paste)
1 lb Mixed seafood (this could be as simple as clams and squid or you can buy                  packs of mixed various things, though I find that good fresh clams and mussels             are about as good as it gets)
1 lb soft tofu
2 rice cake rolls per person, cut on the long bias
1 egg per person
3 scallions (green onion) cut on the long bias (as pictured below)                        

Step one: rinse the rice three times. or until it is still a little cloudy but not so cloudy - if the water finishes clear you will have rinsed away too much starch and will not be able to get the crust to form in the stone bowl, so a little cloudiness is good in this instance - we are not making Japanese white rice here. 

You can make the rice as normal in a rice maker using 1 1/2 cups of water per cup of rice or do it in a saucepan on the stove by bringing the rice up to a rapid boil until the water foams a bit and then reducing the temperature to 'Low' and covering for ten minutes and then turning the burner off and leaving the lid on and letting it slowly steam for at least ten more minutes.

Step two: Pour your stock into a saucepan and add chopped seaweed and a sachet of anchovies (you should put the anchovies into what is essentially a giant tea-strainer so that you can take them out when you are ready. I have not pictured them because I am using anchovy paste which I would add with the gochujang in the next step - not shown or otherwise mentioned). You can strain everything out when you are ready to use the stock if you do not want to eat the seaweed but I find it quite tasty and like to have it as part of the soup. 

Step three: We use a stone crock but any saucepan will suffice. The nice thing about the stone crocks are that they keep the soup warm for a very long time and you can use them as a serving vessel at the table so people can help themselves as the need to. Pre-heat your pan/stoneware to 'Medium Low' or about '3.5' on the stove. Add about two tablespoon of oil and then when you see the faintest bit of smoke coming off the oil add the shiitake and cook until they start to brown then add the garlic, ginger, shallot and lemon grass. When the 'suspects' start to color add the chili powder. Mix the chili powder around until it 'blooms,' which technically means that the essential oils have been released and simply means that the spice has been a little toasted and is very fragrant. Once the chili powder has bloomed, add the gochujang and mix it around to caramelize it a bit. Once everything is very fragrant but not burned add the stock and seawood to 'de-glaze' and stop the 'suspects' from burning. Essentially at this point you have soup and all you need to do is add the garnishes.      


Step four: Finishing the rice. At this point your rice should be cooked, so what you want to do is heat up one stone bowl per person either on burners at 'Medium Low' or '3' or in a 350F oven. When the stone bowls (or if you have a bunch of people you could do it in one large bowl) are heated add about half a teaspoon of oil to each and then divide the cooked rice between them and pack it down tightly. There should be some sizzling and if you are on the stove top and think that your rice is burning don't worry, just take the bowl off of direct heat and let it sit. Ideally you want the rice to be on the heat in these bowls for at least ten minutes before serving to develop a suitable crust on the bottom. 

Step five: Garnishing the soup. Once the rice is in the stone crocks, add the seafood, tofu and rice cakes to the soup. They should only take about five minutes to cook and if the seafood is fresh, not frozen possibly even less. Once the shellfish start to open up crack an egg into the soup and let it sit for a minute before stirring to get it a little cooked so that you get strands of the egg throughout the soup. Stir the soup and season with salt until all the flavors come out (for four cups of broth you will probably want to start at two tablespoons of salt and season from there) and finish with a sprinkling of scallions on top. The soup is done, you can take it out to the table in the stone crock, ideally, or portion into individual bowls as is your preference. On the side you should have at least one, if not more types of Kimchee, three inch seaweed sheets and gochujang so that people can adjust the spice of the soup. 

(In this image I added udon noddles because I didn't have mushrooms, 
which is a nice touch if you wanted a noodle soup)

Eat this with chopsticks and a spoon until you feel very fat. It helps brings prosperity and health, or something like that.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Fancy Breakfast...

 Eggs Benedict on Potato Latkes with Braised Greens and Ham.

    To begin - a few simple thoughts: making something like this is actually a bit timing-oriented so before starting a project one should read through the whole recipe and have a grasp of everything which is going on. Awareness of sequence is what allows 'us cooks' to get things done efficiently and serve hundreds more people than you without doing nearly as much work. This recipe has three basic parts: Potato Latkes, Braised Greens, and Hollandaise. In addition water needs heated for poaching and ham needs warmed up; all told if you try to do everything in one go you could have up to six different items cooking at the same time. I'm going to treat this dish as if you were preparing it all at once but the braised greens can be cooked in advance or omitted entirely if one were wont to do so.

Step one: Thinking ahead. For this step you will need:

3 saucepans
1 1/2 qts water
1/4 c cheap vinegar such as white or white wine
1/4 lb of butter
1/4 c good vinegar such as sherry or champagne
1 small shallot
2 bay leaves
1 tbls whole Black Peppercorn

    First fill a two quart saucepan with one and a half quarts water and a quarter cup of cheap vinegar, place this on the rear large burner and heat to '5' or 'medium.' Add a quarter pound of butter to a different smaller saucepan and place that in the back small burner on '3' or 'medium low.' In a third even smaller saucepan measure a quarter cup of good vinegar such as sherry or champagne. Place this pan on the smallest front burner and set it to '3' or 'medium low,' this is a vinegar reduction for the hollandaise. With all of these going, slice a small shallot very quickly - it doesn't have to look nice and add it to the vinegar reduction along with a tablespoon of whole black peppercorns and two bay leaves. All told placing pans on the stove top, turning the heat on and slicing the shallot or other small onion should take you about five minutes, right? (Pro-tip: for better fuller flavor toast your peppercorns and bay leaves in the pan before adding the vinegar until fragrant - if you do this step you'll want to work on higher heat for the duration of the toasting, maybe '6' or 'medium-high' and toast for about five minutes or until fragrant. Add the vinegar and the shallot to the hot pan and reduce to '2'  or 'low,' watch your nose as the vinegar hitting the hot pan will make a big, hard-to-inhale fragrance...)
Step two: Potato Latkes.  For this step you will need:
 1lb yukon or yellow potatoes (although any type will work these are best)
 1/2 a large onion
 1 bunch scallions
 1 bunch cilantro
 1 egg
 1/4 c flour.

  First take a large bowl and fill it with about two quarts hot tap water and add about two tablespoons of salt to that. Put your grater into the water bath and grate your potatoes and onion. Mix the grated stuff around in the water to get rid of the excess starch (this makes for crispier more white, fluffy hashbrowns). Taking one handful of hashbrowns at a time, squeeze as much water out as humanly possible before transferring to a new bowl. Slice the scallions and chop the cilantro coarsely and add to the dry hashbrowns along with the egg and the flour - mix to combine. In a heavy 10" cast-iron pan (pre-heated to '3.5' or 'medium-low') add two tablespoons of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter - coat the pan and spread the hashbrowns in an even layer in the pan pressing them down to form a solid crust. Cook for ten to fifteen minutes before flipping (unless you see or smell burning) and then cook for ten more minutes - perfect hashbrowns every time. (pro tip: after squeezing my browns dry I eat a couple of shreds to check for salt and to determine how much salt the browns will need to be tasty - don't be afraid to add more salt, as it makes things much better until it makes them worse)

Step three: Braised Greens. For this step you will need:
1 bunch of dinosaur Kale (stemmed and coarsely chopped)
2 cloves Garlic
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1/2 a Lemon
3 tbls Olive oil
1/4 c water

Place a 8"-10" saute pan on a large burner - at this point your vinegar should be significantly reduced and your butter should be melted and don't need to be on burners any more; place them in your cold oven to get them out of the way until you need them.  Pre-heat your pan to '5' or 'medium;' it should smoke very faintly. Add your oil and garlic and toast until just colored (it is vital that the garlic does not get dark, that's part of why you need so much oil and will keep things from getting bitter). Add the chili when the garlic is nearly done and chase it into the pan with the Kale - this keeps the chili from over-toasting. Season kale with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice and then add water. Stir with a wooden spoon until the kale is tender but not mushy. The water should be entirely reduced. Taste for seasoning and remove kale from the hot pan.

Step four: Making the Hollandaise. For this step you will need:
2 Egg Yolks
1/4 lb clarified butter (which you already started and have in the oven)
2 tbls reduced vinegar (also in the oven - if it is too far reduced add water to re-hydrate, strained of shallot and spices)
1/8 tsp cayanne
1/2 tsp smoked Spanish Paprika - Picante (The Hungarian stuff can go to hell for all I'm concerned - it doesn't generally add any flavor. Don't take my word - try them side-by-side, you'll see I'm right)
1/4 tsp (or several grinds) Fresh Black Pepper.
1 tsp salt
A few drops of  hot water.

Hollandaise is a bit tricky so I will try to walk you through it easily. You need a warm bowl, I use steel and keep it on the stove between the burners so that everything stays nice and comfortably warm - not hot. Hot will kill your hollandaise and so will cold. Add your egg yolks to the bowl and whisk them vigorously. Add the Cayanne, Paprika, Black Pepper, and hot water (tap water hot, not boiling) and whisk together. Then alternating back and forth add a little of the butter and then a little of the vinegar (remember that it is important that they are still warm or else your sauce will break, so if they are cool warm them gently), during the butter and vinegar process you need to whisk vigorously the   whole time - you may want someone to help you with your additions so you don't have to do all the work by yourself. When hand whisking, add the butter and vinegar just a few drops at a time, before adding more it is vital to see that the butter has been thoroughly emulsified into the sauce. When you have finished adding all the butter and vinegar taste and add salt to taste. If the sauce seems too thick add a few drops of water, if it seems too thin let it cool and it will thicken because of the butter in it. If you want it spicier add a little more cayanne or tobasco or whatever hot sauce you have - anything works. If there is no vinegar bite to the sauce add a little more un-reduced vinegar to pick it up - this much fat needs the vinegar to cut through it, and make it refreshing. Think of Hollandaise as being like a Buerre Blanc (you haven't made that? - I'm sure that I will get to it soon because I've been craving Halibut en buerre blanc - recipe to follow).

Step five:  Poaching eggs. For this step you will need eggs and your pan of boiling, vinegary water.
Crack eggs into the boiling water. The boil will stop when the eggs hit the water, wait for the boil to come back and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. The eggs should take two to three minutes to cook or until they are slightly firm but still give significantly when touched. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and reserve on a plate or bowl so that the water can drain off of them.

Step six:   Finishing. For this step you will need:
Ham, bacon, tasso ham, cured pork belly, Pancetta, Proscuitto, whatever.
Take the latke (fancy hashbrown) out of the pan and divide it between plates. Put your thinly sliced porky-goodness into that pan which is now off the heat and let it warm gently for about thirty seconds on each side or until warm-through. Put the warm pork on the latke's and place braised greens on top of that followed by the poached eggs and then smothered in the secret sauce... I mean Hollandaise. You can probably figure out what to do with it at this point...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pizza Night

For the crusts, I highly recommend using the recipes from Peter Reinhart's "Crust and Crumb... They will be better than the crusts that I made way back when.

In order of appearance.

Fig Pizza:

Fig Pizza 2

  • Fist-sized lump of dough
  • Figs (about 4 per person)
  • Chicken Stock
  • Feta (as desired)
  • Balsamic (500 ml makes about a 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup Walnuts
  • 3 tbls Cream
  • 2 tbls Parmasan shredded
  • salt
  • pepper

To Make:
For the Figs: to reconstitute the figs, simply place them in an appropriately sized sauce-pan, and fill to about three-quarters of the height of the figs with chicken stock. Reduce the stock over medium-high heat until the sauce is completely gone, but the bottom of the pan is not quite dry. For the salsa di Noci: combine Walnuts, Cream, and Parmesan in a blender. For the balsamic reduction measure out 2 cups (about 500ml) of balsamic vinegar and place in a sauce-pan; bring to medium-low heat (it should be steaming but not bubbling) and reduce until it is just thinner than honey - this should take about 3 hours. To finish: thinly spread the salsa di noci over the crust, cut the figs in half and spread them evenly over the crust with the feta, then from a squeeze bottle- apply the balsamic reduction. This is a very bold pizza and should probably be served last.

Cheese & Tomato (serves 2-3):

Tomato & Mozz

  • Fist sized lump of dough
  • 2 tomatos
  • 4 oz Olive Oil
  • Fresh Bufala Mozzarella (as Desired)
  • 2 large Portobello Mushrooms, chopped
  • Chicken Stock
  • Basil (chiffonade)

To make:
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees (have either a pizza stone or cast iron pan in the oven to help the pizza cook more evenly). Roll out (or throw the dough until you have roughly a ten inch crust (you can make it ahead of time and freeze it if you want. You can make it with more or less dough also depending on how thick a crust you want, just keep in mind the temperature and bake time). In a blender purée the tomatoes till smooth; force them through a fine mesh strainer and whip in the olive oil. In a medium saucepan place the portobellos and fill with chicken stock to 3/4 the height of the mushrooms; cover and reduce until the stock has been absorbed by the mushrooms/evaporated. Slice the cheese and arrange all the ingredients on the crust and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the crust is crisp and golden brown.

Fruit Pizza:

fruit pizza 2

  • Fist Sized lump of dough
  • 1/3 Mango, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 grapefruit peeled and membranes removed
  • About 20 Green Grapes
  • 1 tbls Garlic
  • 1 tbls Olive Oil
  • 2 oz thinly sliced cured ham (such as Jamon Serreno or Prosciutto)
  • Small Handful of Pinenuts
  • Sprinkling of Parmesan
  • Mint leaves (chiffonade) for garnish

To Make:
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out or throw crust to desired thickness. Sautée the grapes and garlic in olive oil until the garlic is golden and the grapes are soft. Arrange the Mango, Grapefruit, Grapes, and ham on the crust; sprinkle lightly with pinenuts and Parmesan and bake for 10-15 minutes until the crust is golden-brown and crisp. Garnish with mint

Dessert Calzone (four portions)

Desert Calzone

For the Crust (same as the others - but...):

  • Liberal Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

For the Apple Sauce:
  • 4 apples peeled, cored and chopped
  • 2 tbls calvados
  • 3 tbls Heavy (36%-40%) Whipping Cream
  • 1 tbls sugar

For the Calzone Stuffing:
  • 12 medjool dates
  • 6 oz Sultanas
  • 4 oz course chopped Macadamia nuts
  • water
  • 2 tbls sugar

To Make:
For the Apple Sauce: Blend the apples in blender with the cream, Calvados and sugar until smooth; pass through a fine mesh strainer and gently simmer for 20-30 minutes.
For the Calzone: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the dates and sugar in a medium sauce-pan and fill with water to 3/4 the level of the dates; cook over medium-high heat until the water is nearly gone and add raisins - continue to cook until the water is gone but the bottom of the pan is not burned (the dates and raisins should be quite tender). Turn the dates and Sultanas out onto a cutting board and chop until moderately fine, then mix in the Macadamia nuts and divide the stuffing into four equal parts. Pull golf ball-sized pieces off of the dough and roll them out into thin circles. Place the stuffing in the dough and fold over, crimping the edges as if it were a pie. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the dough is crusty and the pies are hot through. let cool for 20 minutes then serve with applesauce either on the pie or on the side.

Cucumber Soup

4 large cucumbers - peeled and seeded
6 radishes - peeled
Juice of one large Orange (or lime, possibly)
1 cup regular yogurt
3 tbls Cilantro
4 tbls Chicken Stock
1/2 cup Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh ground black pepper - generously applied (1/2 tbls?)
Salt to taste

combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth, then force through a fine strainer. Serve chilled.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The First Post that Nobody knows about because I didn't tell them...

So anyways, I have been experimenting with integral sauces (picture in your mind with me a stack of pork that is dripping with a rich red wine and cherry sauce...) and have discovered a whole new world of flavour that always matches the meat that I serve it with. These sauces will be taking an immediate effect in the actual FFC dinners because once I learn something I make every effort to apply it to everything I know - at least until I get tired of it; it can take a while for that to happen.

In other news, I will be posting the recipes and how-to guides for (ranging from some to all) of the meals so that if you are feeling quite ridiculous you can attempt (and with a little help from your friends - succeed) at making the stuff. I will be starting with the pizzas (yes I still remember roughly how to make them) and working my way through the most recent - don't expect much activity here until sometime mid-month, as I do not have the internet at my house until then.