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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Picnic!

Is there ever a time when a cloth should not be spread out on the grass, after carefully kicking away the small stones and bits of leaves and tiny branches, hoping that for once, for only once – the laying-about will be as comfortable as seemingly promised, the food will not spill sideways or be attacked by bold wild flying insects, the wine will not spill on the shirt-front?

I don’t think so. It should always be time for a picnic, and I’ve been invited to one!

Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations is having a picnic, and the table has started to be laid. Are you curious to see what everyone is bringing? I am! And luckily I’ve got a list. Here’s what we’ll be eating:

Apple Pie with Dutch Crumb Topping from Miranda

Buttermilk Spice Cake from Mary

Chocolate Cherry Pie from Janet

Dilly Potato Salad from Gloria

Election Day Cake from Erica

Fruit Cocktail Meringue Pie from Erica

Gluten-Free Upside-Down Cake from Dia

Hangar Steak with Chimichurri Sauce from Stacey

Ice Cream in a Bag from Marjie

My gosh, what a lot of food! Incredible! Louise asked me to bring something I often seem to talk about.

Jello. Haute Jello.

It was kind of her to ask me to bring this, for it really is only an idea. No recipe. Just a silly poem and a picture. But my goodness, what a lot of recipes from this picnic! It’s best if I just bring some hot air, don’t you think?

The food looks great, everyone. See you at the picnic!

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‘Big Fish Eat Little Fish’ 1557 – Pieter van der Heyden after Pieter Breughel the Elder is, of course, a piece of art that tells a story – a proverbial story. And how vividly it does so!

Here is no paper-tray and cellophane-wrapped water-injected boneless white chicken breast for the distanced senses of the diner. This is life full-tilt – the sea thrashes, the men struggle with knives huge and dangerous, small and pointed. The fish flail and scramble, the boats toss. I can smell it. The sea, the innards of fish, the pungent dank liverish smell. The scales fly in the air to land on an exposed cheek, the fingers are numb and cold, slippery with fish.

It reminded me, actually, aside from these musings of life – of stuffed squid. The big fish shape sort of looked like a squid, and naturally all those little spouting fishes were the filling – which had to include anchovy as a matter of course.

Here’s a recipe for stuffed squid (calamari ripiene). It looks almost exactly like the one I  make, except I chop up the anchovies rather than use paste . . . and only three squid to stuff? No. I think they must be larger than the ones I can find. Plus the stuffing/filling needs a generous handful of chopped Italian parsley added to it.

It’s very good.

Lent is coming up. I wonder if it is as common as it used to be to dine upon fish rather than meat.

Certainly the process seems no gentler,  after gazing at the image above.

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Image Source: foto_decadent/Tim Walker/UK Vogue December 2008/Tales of the Unexpected/The Marvellous Mischievious Magical World of Roald Dahl

It’s not like Boris and I don’t have our challenges. Most of you think the life of a girl detective is an easy one. But my job gets tougher and tougher each day.

The last time I’d had a really good mystery to solve was back in May when I solved The Case of the Missing Snack.

There’s not much call for those with my specialised degree –  the C.K.L.E. (Certified Kitchen Lounge-About Eater) is a path one follows because one must. The gathering together of dross is not a part of the thinking process at all.

We’ve been spending a lot of time lately burning bangers and mashing mashers as a matter of fact. But always, always! in the finest fashions, you should know. Stiff upper lip and all.

But Boris has become moody. Around the holidays he longs for the cooking of his childhood. Or what he thinks was the cooking of his childhood, anyway. He actually grew up in Flushing, Queens – which you get to by taking a pot-holed highway to after going over some midtown bridge in Manhattan – but he believes he grew up eating Russian food.

And he hungers for it in an awful way.

So, for the New Year’s, I am making a picnic! A Georgian picnic.

We are having a pickled cabbage rose set just so in the center of the quilt we’ll recline upon. Then we will dive into chicken with walnuts. Because no picnic is complete without a bit of cooking done en plein air we’ll start a little woodfire off to the side to prepare some skewered eggs along with some grilled cheese.  Maybe a bit of steamed purslane would be nice as a salad (as it seems to be growing among a rockpile nearby it would not be dear at all, either!) For dessert we’ll just stay traditional and have the New Year’s Day treat of Gozinake. (When you are Georgian, there is no such thing as too many walnuts.)

It looks to be a fine day, though a bit chilly.

Cheers to all of you on the first day of the new year. And do give me a call if you need a good mystery solved.

I’m always hungry.

………………………………………………………………..

Darra Goldstein’s The Georgian Feast is a must-read, for anyone interested in the foods of Georgia.

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The last day of the year is a time for cautionary tales. Most everyone has their own to muse on, but if you find yourself shorted in this area you can always turn to The Tale of Samuel Whiskers and the Roly-Poly Pudding to give yourself a good fright.

Here is where the action begins in earnest. Tom Kitten has gone off on an adventure and in the process has been captured by hungry (aren’t they always) rats. The dough is gathered, the rolling pin pushed over to begin the task of making a fine Kitten Roly-Poly for dinner.

Poor Tom Kitten.

There are other sorts of roly-poly puddings to be made if you like the idea but without the kitten.

The Great British Kitchen has recipes made with jam, syrup, lemon, and mincemeat. And if all this is just too dainty for your taste, here you will find a good recipe for rasher pudding, also known as bacon roly-poly.

Any of these taste fine with champagne, ale, or tea.

Happy New Year!

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I love QQ food. I love Q food too.

Q is not a question. Q is a texture. Or as expressed much more succinctly and beautifully by Zoe Tribur in the Spring 2006 issue of Gastronomica

QQ is a unique oral sensation that
cannot be mistaken for any other. When you put something
in your mouth—cold or warm, salty or sweet, dry or wet,
it doesn’t matter—if the substance first pushes back as you
seize it with your teeth, then firms up for just a moment
before yielding magnanimously to part, with surprising ease
and goodwill, from the cleaving corners of your mandibles—
that is Q.

Many people do not like Q food. It is somewhat alien to the palate of the eater exposed solely to the foodways of the middle-class United States.

That’s okay. More for me. 🙂

I’ve found a recipe for a Q food served at the Winter Solstice way over on the other side of the world. Tang Yuen. It looks delicious. Yay, tang yuen!

It is a few days past the Winter Solstice, but better late than never. Perhaps this will be the start of a new tradition – our own post-Christmas Tang Yuen party!

Note: The article in Gastronomica on Q is downloadable as a PDF file. It is titled ‘Taste’ by Zoe Tribur and is definitely worth reading, for any gastro of any astral sphere.

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I got pretty excited about gopher after hearing ‘Gopher Mambo’ by Yma Sumac:

What could I cook to go along with the gopher theme?

Here’s an idea, from Foods Our Forebears Ate:

Gopher stewed or fried is the most delicious thing, and I loved the pound cake mom used to make with sea turtle eggs and chicken fat. Now many of the wild foods can no longer be used as they are endangered. (And they say chicken fat endangers us!)

Now for some recipes! Let’s start with that Fricasseed Squirrel – make that Fox Squirrel. First if he was not trapped, check him over to make sure all the shot is out of him! You would hate to chomp down on a bit of metal while eating! Oops! Skin him first! Remove his innards and cut him into 6 pieces by splitting him through the backbone and then cutting the halves into 3 more pieces, each. OOPS! It’s been so long since I did this, I forgot if he has those little scent glands — better check! Then, dredge him in flour, seasoned to taste and fry him in some of the leftover bacon grease from breakfast (or from the crock you have been saving it in from past meals). Fry him up good and brown and remove him from the pan. Make a gravy of well-browned seasoned flour and water (some use milk, but for this, I don’t). Put Mr. squirrel back in the pan and simmer in the gravy till he’s tender as can be. Best served over grits with some collard greens & cornbread or mashed potatoes, garden peas & biscuits, or . . . Gopher tastes really good that way, too, but you can get a hefty fine nowadays for that one. Maybe you should just take my word for it.

I guess I have to take her word for it. No gopher for dinner tonight. 😦

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I haven’t trounced the ballontine yet. It continues its sneaky advance.

There are a few recipes for ballontines online. Not a lot. The ballontine has lost to the galantine in recent years, badly.

Here’s part of a recipe for a galantine I found online – it does make mention of a ballontine some number of paragraphs into the recipe: (Note – this recipe is from a cookbook published in the year 1889 titled ‘Choice Cookery’ by Catherine Owen. Please try to stay awake – the directions are not only lengthy but also loquacious!)

Galantines are so useful and handsome a dish in a large family, or one where many visitors are received, that it is well worth while to learn the art of boning birds in order to achieve them. Nor, if the amateur cook is satisfied with the unambitious mode of boning hereafter to be described, need the achievement be very difficult.

Experts bone a bird whole without breaking the skin, but to accomplish it much practice is required; and even where it is desirable to preserve the shape of the bird, as when it is to be braised, or roasted and glazed for serving cold, it can be managed with care if boned the easier way. However, if nice white milk-fed veal can be obtained, a very excellent galantine may be made from it, and to my mind to be preferred to fowl, because, because as a matter of fact, when boned there is such a thin sheet of meat that it but serves as a covering for the force-meat (very often sausage-meat), and although it makes a savory and handsome dish, it really is only glorified sausage-meat, much easier to produce in some other way. This is, of course, not the case with turkey; but a boned turkey is so large a dish that a private family might find it too much except for special occasions. On the other hand, galantines of game, although the birds may be still smaller, are so full of flavor that it overwhelms that of the dressing. The following process of boning, however, applies to all birds. To accomplish the work with ease and success, a French boning-knife is desirable, but in the absence of one a sharp-pointed case-knife may do.

That’s just the beginning of the directions. I had a startled moment of recognition when first reading this, then realized that the author sounded very much like my friend Katerina la Vermintz (who actually has a habit of sounding exactly like me if I don’t edit everything I write really rigorously!)

The cookbook, which is online here, starts everyone off on the right foot by instructing the readers as follows:

Choice cookery is not intended for households that have to study economy, except where economy is a relative term; where, perhaps, the housekeeper could easily spend a dollar for the materials of a luxury, but could not spare the four or five dollars a caterer would charge.

Many families enjoy giving little dinners, or otherwise exercising hospitality, but are debarred from doing so by the fact that anything beyond the ordinary daily fare has to be ordered in, or an expensive extra cook engaged. And although we may regret that hospitality should ever be dependent on fine cooking, we have to take things as they are. It is not every hostess who loves simplicity that dares to practise it.

Well, dearie me! I daresay I could spare four or five dollars for a caterer. Where is the phone number? Please advise.

Right now I must take my leave. Something to do. I think it might be something along the lines of making dinner!

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