Thursday, July 28, 2011

Curried Pea and Potato Fritters

curried pea and potato fritters

I find myself with a tremendously full freezer. I still have a TON of duck fat leftover from my finals, plus three different kinds of stock. Also half a recipe of pie crust from a month ago, half a bag of cherries from some recipe testing I'm doing, some ground lamb and beef, a little bit of pesto and the odd banana. It is ridiculous, and I'm trying to clear it out a little bit... so I can start adding to it. Hatch chiles will be in stores in a couple of weeks, and I'm ready to make some pesto. I managed to shove some sour cherries in there, but there are more things coming that I'll want to freeze for the winter, and Adam has not yet relented to my "pleeeease can we get another little freezer" whining. SO. It's time to start using up my freezer stash, starting with these fritters.

I was thinking about samosas when I found half a bag of frozen peas, but fritters are easier (no dough to roll out!) and I'm on kind of fried food kick lately. We ate them on top of a green salad with some cucumber yogurt sauce, and I liked how the peas popped in the mouth. So, any suggestions for convincing Adam we need another freezer?

Curried Pea and Potato Fritters
inspired by Ratio
makes 8 good size fritters

1 small 4-6 ounce russet potato
1 1/2 cup peas, blanched if fresh, rinsed if frozen
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
pinch cayenne
1/2 cup water
1 egg
canola or vegetable oil for frying

Cook the potato however you like. I stuck mine in the microwave, and because it was small, it only took about 5 minutes to cook through. You could also bake, steam, or boil it. However you cook it, all you want is the flesh, so scoop it out of the peel. (Then sprinkle some salt on the peel and eat it. Potato skins. Yeah.) You should end up with about half a cup of potato. Stir the peas into the potato.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, curry powder, cumin and cayenne. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid and whisk to combine. Add most of the fritter batter to the peas and potato, and stir. Don't add it all at once, you just want enough to hold it all together. If it's too firm, add the rest of the batter.

Heat about a 1/4 inch of canola oil in a skillet over medium high heat, and spoon the batter in (I used a 1/4 cup measure). Depending on how big your skillet is you will need to work in batches. Fry until golden, 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels for a couple of minutes, then eat with yogurt sauce, salad optional.

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
makes about a cup

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, shredded
1 cup greek yogurt
lemon juice
salt and pepper

Put the shredded cucumber in a strainer and toss it with a big pinch or two of salt. Put the strainer over a bowl and let the cucumber drain for half an hour or so. Be amazed at how much water comes out of one vegetable. Press the cucumber to remove as much liquid as possible, then add it to the yogurt. Season with a squeeze of lemon juice and some pepper, taste it, and see if it needs more salt. Keep it in the fridge until you're ready to eat it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Momofuku Steamed Buns

Momofuku Steamed Buns

Monday evening my friend Jeremy came over (hi, Jer!) and we finally embarked on a cooking project we'd been talking about for, oh, about two years. Jeremy brought some pork belly he brined for a couple of days and cooked Monday morning. I mixed up a strange but pleasant dough that included both yeast and chemical leaveners. We made super quick pickles and minced some scallions. We set up a steaming rig in a roasting pan with some canning rings, and we steamed almost 50 buns. Filled with sliced pork (we also made a couple with chicken), pickles and scallions a good schmear of hoisin sauce, the buns were so good I didn't even want to focus the camera because I wanted to get back to eating.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Let's Talk Pancakes


First, a disclaimer: I am not the breakfast cook in my house. I have exactly two breakfasts on my weekday rotation (but honestly I have eggs and toast 9 days out of ten) and Adam takes over the kitchen on weekend mornings.

Sounds weird, but lasts longer than buttermilk.

I don't have much of a sweet tooth in the morning, but he has finally won me over with these pancakes. Oh, and the secret to a pancake-ready kitchen is this stuff, dried buttermilk powder. I like the King Arthur brand, but Saco is the kind they sell in my grocery store. No worrying about whether the buttermilk you bought for biscuits two weeks ago is off or if it's supposed to smell like that, hooray!

Mix it up

The reason I like these pancakes is that they (eek!) don't have any sugar in them. Pancakes are really just a vehicle for maple syrup, right? So why must they be crazy sweet themselves? I like that the subtlety of these lets the maple flavor shine. Adam also uses a mix of all purpose and whole wheat flours so there's a hint of nuttiness from the whole wheat.

In the pan

Adam's Pancakes
makes 6-8 pancakes depending on how big you like them

1 cup flour (we use 3/4 cup all purpose and 1/4 cup whole wheat or white whole wheat)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons buttermilk powder
1 egg
1 cup plus two tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
butter for cooking the cakes

Combine the flours, salt, baking soda and buttermilk powder in a bowl. Measure the water into another bowl, then crack the egg into the water and beat it up a little bit so it's all combined. Add the melted butter to the liquid, then add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir just until all the flour is hydrated but no longer. It will be lumpy, but that's ok! If you try to beat out all the lumps you'll develop too much gluten in the flour and your pancakes will be tough.

Heat a griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, then add a little bit of butter, about a teaspoon or so, swirl the pan to coat the bottom. When the butter is foamy, add a drop of pancake batter. It should sizzle just the slightest bit. If it doesn't, up the heat a little bit.

Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan. Let it cook on the first side until bubbles start to form and pop on the raw side. Carefully flip the pancake and cook the other side until golden brown. Continue with the rest of the batter. The first pancake will be ugly, so you should eat that one and then keep cooking. Keep pancakes warm in a 200 degree oven until you finish cooking, then serve with butter and (real, obvi) maple syrup.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pimm's Cup! Pimm's Cup! Pimm's Cup!

Let's have a Pimm's.

You guys. It is HOT. Like melt your face off hot. So hot that I'm watering the garden twice a day but the tomatoes are still all wilty. So hot that I'm actually considering a field trip to the mall, which I hate, just for the conditioned air. It's much too hot to think about real food; heat like this calls for a tipple that includes snacks.


Sarah posted a genius list of ways to stay cool today, and I would humbly submit this Pimm's Cup cocktail as number 18. Pimm's is a floral, gin based liqueur from England (Pimm's Cup is THE cocktail of Wimbledon) and the Pimm's Cup is pretty simple at it's core: one part Pimm's to 3 parts lemon lime soda. Then come the garnishes. Cucumber wedges are traditional, so are citrus fruits and mint, and I've seen raspberries and blackberries, too. No matter what else you include, the best part is eating the cucumber that's been soaking up bubbles, so don't skip that!

Pimm's Cup

for each cocktail:
2 ounces (1/4 cup) Pimm's
6 ounces (3/4 cup) Sprite or Seven Up
two sprigs of mint
one cucumber wedge
one or two orange slices

Put a mint sprig at the bottom of a glass and throw a few ice cubes on top. Pour in the Pimm's, then the soda. Garnish with cucumber wedge, orange slices and additional mint. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Just imagine the pies this thing has seen.

Whale Bone Pastry Wheel

Sunday afternoon Adam and I went on a day date to the Museum of Fine Arts to see the Dale Chihuly exhibit (it closes in a couple of weeks, so go see it if you've been meaning to!). Adam's company makes a lot of the signs for the MFA and I hadn't seen the new wing yet, so we took a stroll through the Art of the Americas. Adam pointed out signs he had made and I looked at really old plates and art deco cocktail shakers. I opened a drawer under a giant painting of a ship and lo and behold, an ancient pastry cutter! Ok, not that old, but still, a fluted pastry from 1850. Made of whale bone. Cool.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Roasted Carrots with Dill

roasted carrots with dill

Summer is truly hitting its stride, now. The markets are full to bursting with fruits and roots and leaves of every color. Last week I had a bunch of bright orange carrots in the fridge and I remembered a quick preparation I had seen in a magazine somewhere recently (I think it was Bon Appetit, again).


I roll cut these carrots because I think it's prettier than straight sided chunks: cut about an inch and a half from the tip of the carrot on a strong bias. Then roll the carrot toward you so the cut side is up and cut again on a strong bias. Roll it again so the cut side is up, and continue.

peas and carrots

These roasted carrots were excellent as the only warm component of my favorite kind of meal: a meal of snacks! Well, that is, a meal consisting entirely of "side dish" vegetables. I made some excellent cheese (which we schmeared on a toasted baguette slice with a sprinkle of pepper and a drizzle of olive oil) and a sugar snap and radish salad and we ate outside in the shade. Happy summer, indeed.

Roasted Carrots with Dill
serves 4 as a side

one bunch (8-10 medium) carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
one tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped dill

Preheat the oven to 425. Toss the carrots with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper, you can do this right in the baking dish. Roast until the carrots are tender (a paring knife can be inserted and removed with little to no resistance), 15-20 minutes, then remove from the oven and toss with the dill.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pickled Cherry Pan Sauce


Serving duck with cherries isn't ground breaking; people have been serving fowl and fruit  together for ages. I wanted to show you, though, that I did something with my pickled cherries other than just eat them with cheese and crackers! I seared two duck breasts in my trusty cast iron skillet. When they were done I spooned out the excess fat and added two cups of duck stock (chicken stock would have been fine, too) and a sprig of rosemary. I let the stock reduce down to less than a cup, then I fished out the rosemary and added a handful of pickled cherries and a big pinch of salt. I let it simmer for another minute, just until the cherries were warmed through. I really liked how the sweet tart cherries cut through the richness of the duck breast.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pickled Cherries


I spent half an hour at the end of last week sitting outside pitting a couple of pounds of these sweet cherries from Kimball Fruit Farm. This activity taught me that somebody needs to invent a functioning cherry pitter; I made it through about half of them before I switched to a paring knife.


The cherry halves went into a pie of sorts, but the whole cherries (well, except for the pits) took a bath in brine. The recipe comes from the June issue of Bon Appetit, the one with Gwyneth Paltrow on the cover. Did the celebrity on the cover of a food magazine bother anyone else? It's weird, I'm not a big fan of the new design of the magazine; to me it feels like they're trying way too hard to be hip what with all the letterpress styling and what not. On the other hand, I've been tempted by more of the recipes in the last couple of issues than over the winter... but that might have more to do with me finishing school and having time to read magazines again than Adam Rapoport's takeover.

Pickled Cherries

ANYWAY, enough ruminating on the state of food publishing. Pickled cherries! Deliciously odd, peppery sweet, perfect with the last jar of duck rillettes we had in the house. If you've got cherries around, why not pickle them?

Pickled Cherries
Adapted only slightly from Bon Appetit

BA suggests pairing these with pate or as part of a salumi platter, which was great, but I think I'm going to serve some with seared duck breast later this week, too. I'd love to know how you would use them.

12 ounces (3/4 pound) sweet cherries
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 sprig rosemary

First, wash and pit the cherries. If you use a pitter you'll end up with whole cherry pickles, but halves would work fine, too, if you'd rather use a paring knife.

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, pepper, coriander and red pepper flakes in a medium sauce pan (use stainless steel or another non reactive pan, aluminum will react with the vinegar). Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer for five minutes. Strain the brine through a sieve into a bowl to remove the solids, then return the liquid to the pan and add the cherries and rosemary. Simmer for a few minutes until the cherries are just barely tender.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cherries and rosemary sprig to a one pint mason jar. Carefully pour enough of the brine into the jar to cover the cherries. Let the jar cool at room temperature for a couple of hours, then cover and chill. Makes about 2 cups.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dairy Magic and a Three Ingredient Dessert

heaven in three ingredients

You guys have heard how easy it is to make creme fraiche, right? Fill a pint jar most of the way up with heavy cream then add a couple tablespoons of buttermilk.* Now, wait 12-18 hours. Ignore the heebie jeebies about leaving dairy out at room temperature, it's fine, you're just letting the cultures in the buttermilk do their fine work on the heavy cream. When you're done waiting, take the lid off the jar and voila! Creme fraiche! Your homemade creme fraiche will keep in the fridge for a week or two.

Now that you have magically transformed one dairy product into another, allow me to suggest that you spoon some into a bowl, cover it with berries, put a little more on top and add a sprinkle of brown sugar.

Now go forth! Make magic! and eat dessert.

*Use whatever container you want, just use about 2 cups of cream and 2-4 tablespoons of buttermilk.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Crazy Claw

freaky lobster claw

Every fourth of July we head up to my parents' house in Maine to visit and swim and eat too much food including lobster, which we get from Fisherman's Catch, the famous A-frame on Route 302 in my home town. Recently my mom started ordering the lobster steamed so we don't have to cook it ourselves and they always do a fabulous job; all we have to do is melt a little butter and start cracking. This year my mom pulled a crazy claw out of the bag. Any marine biologists out there? Can lobsters have polydactyly?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lemon + Basil Chicken Meatballs

chicken meatballs, sorrel pesto spaghetti

When I get an idea for a meal, I have a very, very hard time letting that idea float back into the ether. These meatballs bounced around like a ping pong ball in my head for two weeks (two weeks!) before I had a chance to make them. The thing is, I wanted meatballs, but the traditional type with three kinds of meat, woody oregano, heaps of garlic, long-simmered tomato sauce... nah. It is just too dang hot outside for classic meatballs.

fully squozen

I wanted something appropriate for the summer weather that has finally arrived here in the northeast, so I turned to basil, the summeriest herb. I started out with this recipe but I made some alterations because I wanted them to be fresh and citrusy... and I didn't have any milk in the house. Turns out I didn't need it. Lemon juice softened up the breadcrumbs just fine and I didn't miss the dairy fat because I used DUCK FAT!


I had duck leftover from my creative practicum for school (I made duck rillettes as part of my alternative charcuterie plate) and now I look for opportunities to use it. It's an animal fat so it's not as light as, say, olive oil, but since ground chicken tends to be pretty lean, adding back some fat really enriches the meatballs. If you don't have any duck fat or chicken fat (maybe saved from a roast), butter or oil would be just fine. No matter what fat you choose to use, you should try these meatballs.

chicken meatballs

Lemon and Basil Chicken Meatballs
serves 4, or 2 twice

The first day we ate these over spaghetti tossed with some sorrel pesto, but later in the week I split open a baguette, smeared it heavily with basil pesto (frozen from last summer, I'm trying to make room in the freezer for this year's haul), topped it with shredded mozzarella and stuck it under the broiler until the cheese bubbled. They were so good I didn't even get a chance to take a picture. I also think these would be excellent as cocktail nibbles, maybe with basil oil drizzled over or a pesto dip. 

1 cup fresh bread crumbs (from about 3 slices white sandwich bread)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 a medium onion, very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon duck fat or chicken fat if you have them, butter or oil if not
salt and pepper
1 egg
1 pound ground chicken
4 tablespoons basil, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Combine the breadcrumbs with the juice of the lemon and set aside.

Heat a saute pan over medium low heat and heat the fat or oil. Gently cook the onion until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for another thirty seconds or until the garlic is fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. If you move the onions to another bowl, save the fat in the pan.

Combine the chicken, egg, lemon zest, lemony breadcrumbs and cooked onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste (at least 1/2 a teaspoon of each). Use your hands to gently mix the ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Heat a little more fat in the saute pan or use what's leftover in the pan to saute a little patty of the mixture and taste it. Does it need more salt or more lemon? Adjust the seasoning if you need to.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat (incidentally, you should use separate mats for savory and sweet cooking, those things absorb smells and flavors and cookies that taste like onion are... not delicious).

Roll the meat into small balls, about an inch in diameter, trying not to compress them too much as you roll. Easy does it, ok? Line them up on the sheet pan as you form them. Bake the meatballs for 20-30 minutes or until bits are golden brown and the meatballs are cooked through. Enjoy with pasta or as a meatball sub or on toothpicks with pesto for dipping, yum.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Great Day

Hello friends! Happy Canada Day to those of you from up north, and Happy Long Weekend Beer Drinking Barbecue America's Birthday to my countrymen.  What are you guys eating this weekend?

If you have access to a grill, my guess is you'll be cooking on it this weekend. Might I suggest these grilled veggie sandwiches from earlier this week? Or maybe try your hand at grilled pizza? Or go meaty! Citrus Ribs! And then perhaps some potatoes to go next to your meat or your veg. Whatever you grill (or saute or broil or poach or microwave), enjoy the weekend, everyone.

Photo: cribbage on the dock, 4th of July at my parents' house two years ago