Archive for the 'Recipes' Category
Yes, 2 full days. I get the craving to do a cooking project like this once in a while. (My other major one is Kimchi, from complete scratch, but my Onggi is broken… TT)
20+ pounds of San Marzano Tomato. (Do not use Roma. Roma are plastic compared to San Marzano)
4+ pounds of beef.
Cremeni mushrooms/portabello mushrooms (To taste)
Hot pepper of your choice. (I’d stay away from Jalepino and Habenero… go for a thin skinned medium scoval pepper to give bite, not overtake the tomato.)
Sweet onion (2-3–they tend to be large)
Dates/jujube or Sweet apples
1/4 A good Bordeaux wine, properly aired.
Simon and Garfunkel, minus rosemary.
Bay Leaf (Adds depth)
Mint (a pinch)
Basil (Better fresh, BTW)
Special ingredients: Hungry guests you’ve tortured.
About Amounts: I adjust based on taste, my mood and the weather. I think of the flavor profile I want for the sauce before I start and adjust as the ingredients come together. Strict recipes never made me completely happy.
Other tips: Always get ingredients you trust, but don’t have to compensate for. It’s much easier to find the simplicity of the tomato goodness, when you have a good tomato that you trust rather than trying to compensate for the fact it tastes metallic by adding vinegar and then trying to remove the vinegar taste by adding more sugar, then it tasting kinda funny.
Here is how I do it:
1. 20+ Pounds of tomato–let’s get this straight, it’s not those flimsy beefsteak or the travesty of a plum tomato called Roma. These are San Marzanos. Superior tomatoes for this kind of thing. You can also add Heirlooms.
2. Boil the tomatoes and then bring them to a simmer and let them cook down for a long, long time. (Skins on)
The entire house, now smells like tomato. Tomatoes also tend to produce a lot of water, so I usually speed things up by taking off the water and making a risotto, with mushrooms.
3. It boils down for the entire day becoming a rich thick sauce. Because I left the skins on, they get broken down and add flavor. I never cook it all the way… nabbing is too tempting and it’s meant to be made into sauce
4. Next day, return to the house, bring in 4-5 pounds of good quality butcher-grade meat from the farmer’s market. Garlic, fresh pepper, onions, mushroom, fresh herbs and a natural sugar, such as dates or a good quality apple. I also add usually a Bordeaux, because Bordeaux can be rich and smooth. I prefer complex Bordeaux with some pepper edge to it. Though it is better *not* to get cooking wine.
5. Cook and caramelize the onions–I prefer sweet onions, mushroom (Cremeni or Portabello adds to the red color and are great for flavor and texture), the garlic and beef together and then pour in the tomato, which should be naturally sweet. Put in the herbs, the wine and taste. This is the time you adjust for sweetness by putting in Dates, apples or jujube.
In about 2 hours, the whole house will smell like pasta sauce, and this is your secret weapon. It’s torturing your victims, I mean guests into being hungry and whining, “Is it done yet?” You can further this by saying that you need to bring out the complexities of the sauce, yet keep it simple enough to consume over the pasta of your choice. Salt and pepper at the very end. Use Sea salt if you have it. Larger flakes taste saltier.
If you really are an evil soul, you can also make bread and pasta in the waiting periods, which will simply drive people crazy. The smell of fresh bread seems to be hardwired into our brains as one of the best things to experience. Of course, when I was younger, I would make things that would take a week or more. Sometimes I would make apple sauce explicitly for the pasta sauce out of a very hard to find apple called Red Freeze, which was just the right balance for the pasta sauce.
Go ahead, break out your Ragu from a jar and watch is splotch onto your pasta and tell me that microwaving it was as good as taking the time to care about the ingredients, weather and profile.
Making lemon bars the first time I found that they were too thick in my mouth, that they had too much weight and the butter caused somewhat of a weird sensation in my mouth. Given this, I decided to breed lemon bars with lemon merengue pie just slightly to give them a bit less weight and more of a light lemon tang, but equally sour. I love the taste of lemon, so these are super lemony. To adjust the lemon taste add more or less zest as you like. I tend to balance this out with a graham cracker crust–which is low fat. These will be more delicate than the typical lemon bar, but also lower in fat though the taste seems to say I’m lying.
* 2 sticks (8 ounces) butter
* 2 cups flour
* 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
* 1 large egg, beaten
* 3 large egg whites
* 2 cups sugar
* 4 tablespoons flour
* 1/4 cup lemon juice (from real lemons is best, especially from a neighbor’s yard–or shipped to you richer flavor. Don’t use bottled stuff, no punch.)
* 1 lemon zest (or more)
* confectioners’ sugar
Graham Cracker crust:
1 bag of graham crackers from a box (cinnamon graham crackers are best, just adjust the sugar.
cinnamon (to taste)
4 tablespoons melted butter
nutmeg (optional) [great for holiday and winter]
* 4 large egg whites
* 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar (honey also works when added to the beginning.
* Vanilla (to taste)
* cream of tartar (pinch)
* 1 tsp -1 tablespoon rum (optional)
Grind the sugar, brown sugar and the graham crackers together. The best way to do this is a food processor. Second best is to take a large seal-able bag push out all the air and bang it repeatedly with a hammer. (The latter being more fun and taking about as much time and ironically less mess–you can pour the butter into the bag shake it and then dispense it neatly into the pan). Add the tablespoons of melted warm butter and vanilla, (cinnamon, nutmeg or whatever else) mix with the graham crackers. coat them well poor into the 13x9x2-inch pan and press gently into bottom and a little up the sides. Bake in a preheated 325° oven for 15-20 minutes. Take out of the stove and let cool.
Lemon pie is always a pain to make in the traditional way–the whole you have to add cornstarch thing and if you do it wrong throw it out. So instead I do it like a Key lime pie. This makes it look cloudy, but no one really cares all too much because the translucence isn’t compromised all that much and the consistency is always better. It also sets more evenly. So to do this, grate as many lemons as you want first, then roll the zestless lemons against the counter to help with the juicing. Squeeze over a separate bowl and try to get as much of the lemon juice out as humanly possible. Extract all of the seeds from the pot. Add the scrambled egg to the pot. Add flour and sugar. Slowly bring this up to a boil, once it starts to thicken kill the heat down to a low simmer. Once it starts to really thicken, pour into the shell that was created.
This is best to do when the mixture has cooled and not before. If you do it before the meringue is most likely to melt and fall off.
Move rack to top. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Beat the egg whites and vanilla (and rum) to soft peaks, gradually add the confectioners sugar and cream of tartar and bring to hard peaks.
Put the meringue on top of the second layer (the lemon layer) of the sheet try to spread evenly and flatly (unlike a pie which you mound).
Put into oven for about 10- 15 minutes until brown. watch it carefully as it will have a tendency to burn.
For a special effect…
If you are doing this for a holiday party (especially for winter) It mght be flashy to sprinkle some rum on top of the meringue and *carefully set it on fire. Make sure the meringue is cooked *first* before you do this. It will brown the meringue more and look really flashy to guests.
- Lemon strings look better and taste better than just ground. If you take a cheese grater and use the small string part the lemon zest will be easier to extract from the back and also easier to clean overall with minimal waste and effort. Even if you don’t like strings a quick run over with your knife will quickly cure this.
-The weight of the lemon bars depends heavily on the amount of butter and flour that goes into them. If you lighten the amount of egg yolk v. white (more white=lighter) this also makes the difference between lemon bar and lemon meringue pie.