Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chai Wallah of a Different Colour

Now playing: A.R. Rahman Feat. Sukhwinder Singh, Tanvi Shah & Mahalakshmi Iyer - Jai Ho
via FoxyTunes

Chai wallah means tea server....My chai is served in a different way, as Chai Creme Brulee.

The custard:

8 egg yolks
2 cups cream
1/3 cup sugar
Chai ingredients- cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaf, peppercorn, Vanilla, Cloves, Almond, Nutmeg, Anise seed, All Spice, black tea

Preheat oven to 300 deg F. Heat the cream without boiling, or curdling with the chai ingredients. Let the mixture steep. Have your egg yolks and sugar blended in a bowl (don't leave this too long, sugar will cook the eggs.) Strain the cream and temper into the eggs. Pour into ramekins that are in a shallow pan. Kill the foam on the top with a blow torch. Move the pan carefully to a rack in the oven. Pull one corner of the pan out so you can pour hot water from a pitcher to almost the top level of the ramekins. Cover the top of the pan with a cookie sheet, setback into the oven. Bake for approx. 40-50 minutes. The edges will be firm but the centre will still jiggle. Cool in the hot bath. Then remove them from the bath and cover in the refrigerator. Let them set at least 4 hours, but preferably over night.

To make the topping I use a powdered sugar shaker. Shake a layer of powdered sugar and heat it with a blow torch. Repeat several times until there is a nice, crunchy brulee topping.

Creme Brulee is nice to serve with a sweet biscuit to dunk into the custard.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Is It Crystal?

Vietnamese Crystal Rolls make a great after-school, or after-work snack. They are pretty low in calories and nutritious. Crystal rolls are pretty easy to make, as well. With just a little bit of planning ahead and prep, they can be waiting for the afternoon munchies.

You will need; To pre-cook some shrimp (approx 1 lb.) and chill them, blanche shaved carrots (2) keeping them cold, mint leaves (approx. 48), pre-cooked and chilled bean threads (1 packet), spring roll wrappers (16), a bowl of warm water, mat to roll, and a platter to collect the finished product.

Place a spring roll wrapper in a bowl of warm water. Let it become limp. Place the limp wrapper on your rolling surface. Put a few carrot strands on the wrapper, then a few mint leaves. On that place a handful of bean threads and on top of that 3 or 4 shrimp. Finish the filling with a few more carrot strands and a mint leaf. Fold in the 2 opposite sides making a small flap on each side. Then pull wrapper over filling pulling the ingredients inside the wrapper and toward yourself,as you are rolling it away from you. A bit of give and take action, not too rough though. It will seal quite nicely for you naturally and will be even better when it dries out a bit, let rest at least 5 minutes before eating. Repeat to your hearts desire!

Have them waiting for the hungry bunch (including yourself) when they (and/or you) walk through the door. Serve them with peanut dipping sauce.

I wouldn't make these anymore than one day ahead.

Peanut Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1/4 cup water

3 tbsp Mirin

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp hoisin sauce

2 tbsp Siracha

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon sugar

Whirl this in a blender until somewhat smooth.

Garnish with chopped, toasted peanuts

I have some creative ideas using these wrappers. Stay tuned....

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pomegranate Semolina Cake.....I Smell Molasses!

Now playing: Chris de Burgh - Lebanese Night
via FoxyTunes

I recently made some pomegranate molasses for a delicious chicken dish in Fine Cooking Magazine. Try that too it was good!

Back to dessert!

The magazine suggested buying the molasses, I made mine:

Pomegranate Molasses Recipe

3 cups pomegranate juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp. lemon juice

In a large uncovered saucepan reduce pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon juice on medium heat for about 45 minutes. It should have a brownish colour and a syrupy consistency. Let cool. Store in a refrigerator.

As you can see from the recipe, it isn't really molasses, but a tart syrup. I sweetened up my "molasses" with some maple syrup for the dessert.

While researching, it turns out that this "molasses" originates from Lebanon. This lead to a decision to make a Lebanese style semolina cake with the "molasses" covering and soaking into it.

Sfouf- Lebanese Semolina Cake

3 cups Semolina
2 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups milk
1 cup flour
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup tahini
1 tbsp. baking powder
tbsp. turmeric
1 cup lemon curd (de ja vue?)

Combine the semolina, flour, turmeric and baking powder. Dissolve the sugar in the milk. Add the milk and sugar, along with the vegetable oil, and lemon curd to the dry ingredients. Spread the tahini over the bottom and sides of a 9" x 13" cake pan.
Pour the batter slowly into the pan. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top. Place into a pre-heated 350° F oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Cut into squares, pour syrup over the top and serve. If you have some pomegranate kernals garnish with those, by all means!

Here is my finished loom project, with the wool I bought at the cute shop in Much Wenlock. The final hank I needed finally arrived from the UK.

More wool from Much Wenlock, this is the current knitting project.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy

Now playing:
Led Zeppelin - The Lemon Song
via FoxyTunes

Meyer lemons were originally imported from China from way back, until they were cultivated more recently in places like California. The slight orange colour of these lemons can be explained by mandarin orange in them. A cross of lemon and mandarin orange make for a less acidic lemon with a sweeter taste. 100 things to do with a Meyer lemon

My Meyer lemons were made into a lemon curd and that curd was spread over a New York Cheesecake. This made for a great Valentine's day treat. I dusted off my Frugal Gourmet cookbook and found the recipe for New York Cheesecake that never fails to please. I'll pass this along to you:

Cheesecake, New York Style

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 ½ cups sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 pound cream cheese, broken into small pieces
  • Blend the cracker crumbs, ¼ cup sugar, and ¼ cup melted butter, and line the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch un-greased spring-form pan.

    Blend sour cream, ½ cup sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a food blender for 1 minute. Add the cream cheese. Blend until smooth.

    Pour 2 tablespoons melted butter through the top of the machine. Pour into the spring-form pan.

    bake the lower third of a 350 oven for 45 minutes.

    When baking is finished, remove from oven, and turn oven on to broil. Broil the cheesecake until the top begins to show attractive spots of brown.

    Refrigerate for 4 hours, preferable overnight, before cutting and serving.

    The cheesecake does mellow and the flavours meld quite nicely, if left like the last line of the recipe says.

    For the curd, squeeeeeeeze lemons, in this case Meyer lemons!

    Lemon Curd

    6 oz. fresh lemon juice, strained

    9 oz. sugar

    3 oz. butter

    3 oz. heavy cream

    6 eggs

    zest of a lemon

    pinch of salt

    Boil the lemon juice, sugar, butter, salt and heavy cream in a saucepan. Place eggs in a bowl and whisk to loosen them. Temper the hot mixture into the eggs. Add back to the saucepan and bring back to a boil over med. heat until thickened. Strain, add zest. place container of lemon curd in a ice bath with plastic wrap directly touching the surface of the curd (no skin formation this way.) Refrigerate.

    Spread the lemon curd over the cheesecake evenly, chill a bit longer. Then, it is only fair if you serve it!

    When the world gives you Meyer lemons....Make Meyer Lemon Cheesecake!

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    Much Much More Wenlock

    The last installment, at least for awhile, about Much Wenlock. I promised an out of sequence blog about the place dear to my heart.

    We happened to be there on a day that the potter was working at Wenlock Pottery Centre. He is a self taught potter and now runs classes and demos, in addition to the products he makes to sell.

    Someone got a usable trinket they found at an antique shop in town. Guess who it was made by.....

    Have a nose at these links to find out more:

    Previously, I wrote about one of the theories of the name Much Wenlock and it's origin, here is another explanation:

    "MUCH. A comparatively late addition to the name. Earlier documents give it as Great or Magna. This affix serves to distinguish it from Little Wenlock, its possession on its northern border and also to indicate Much Wenlock’s importance as the largest of England’s Shire boroughs until the boundary changes in the 1970's.

    WENLOCK. The earliest spellings we have for the name are from the 9th Century where we find it as Wynlocan and Wenlocan. (F. Liebermann. Die Heiligen Englands). Shropshire was in Roman-British times the Area of the Cornovii (Kenewek), who gave their name to the Cornish language which they spoke.

    WEN is an Anglian version of the Cornish name Owen, itself a shortened version of the Cornish name Aldowen. The name means, in Cornish, “born in the lower land”. Wenlock’s Owen is probably from the land of Dobuni. The “people of the lower land” of what is now Gloucestershire and South Herefordshire. He may have given his name to Trefowen and St. Owen’s Cross in Herefordshire.

    Lock, lach, locan and other spellings derive from the Cornish word loch, which is always a water feature of some kind, either a pool, especially a marine pool, or a river, especially an underground river. The English word lake, in the old sense of “river”, derives from the Cornish word. Much Wenlock has many underground streams, but it is probably the stream from which our St. Owen’s Well in Back Lane drew it water that is here indicated.

    Wenlock thus means ”Owen’s stream” or, in the 9th Century spelling, which is a diminutive, “Owen’s little stream”. Since the well derives from the stream, one may also translate the name as “Owen’s Well”.

    St Milburga calls the area, not the town, in which she has her Abbey Wininicas. This region, of 24 square miles in extent, means “region of the followers of Owen”. (Cf. E.W. Bocock, The Placenames of Shropshire)."

    I knew there was a reason that well picture was interesting, I just didn't know why at the time. I'm really glad I snapped it now!


    I would like to buy this historic chunk of Much Wenlock.

    "This Grade II Listed three storey period house is thought to have been rebuilt around the 15th century after a fire destroyed the original building thought to date back to the 12th century.
    Constructed in local stone with part timbered upper elevations with a wealth of exposed beams throughout, feature fireplaces to principal reception rooms with the inscription FIDES PATIENTIEN IN VERTUS (faith, patience and virtue) in the beamed lintel and stone canopy over the large Inglenook fireplace in the dining room , oak wall panelling and an original 16th century priest hole in the drawing room, and part exposed roof trusses and beams to the second floor. The original ground floor reception room has been converted into a self contained 2 bedroom "flat" which could easily be reconverted back to form part of the principal accommodation. The detached garage has a workshop area and wc with a lean to greenhouse.
    Alongside the house is additional car parking with gates opening onto a flagged courtyard with immediate gardens with pathway leading through a long pergola to further privately enclosed gardens and large stone paved sun terrace.
    Bastard Hall derived its name from Richard le Bastard who owned the house in 1267 who was attorney to The Priory and later owned by William Bastard.
    Much Wenlock is a most desirable country town and recently polled in the Daily Mail as the second most sought after area to reside in within the country and also in the top ten list of small towns and villages compiled by Savills and "Timesonline".
    The town boasts historical buildings such as Wenlock Priory, half timbered Guildhall, Reynalds Mansion and of course Bastard Hall which was visited by the BBC Time Team in 1994 discovering when it was built and other interesting historical finds and information."

    I could settle here easily! Maybe a live-in Bed and Brekkie with a restaurant/pub......Dreaming on.....

    Thursday, February 4, 2010


    Now playing: Music Together - Deedle Dumpling
    via FoxyTunes

    I was inspired by the feature in the February/March issue of Fine Cooking- Cooking class- Chinese Dumplings.

    Mine however had a few different, little twists. I used a whole wheat flour, a different filling and put it in a soup. Well, dumpling soup isn't so different, but different to the article. For the recipe, I substituted 1/2 c. of the flour with whole wheat flour. Have plenty of extra flour and cling film on hand to keep them rulely- So they don't stick or dry out respectively.

    My filling:

    1/2 lb. finely ground turkey
    1/2 c. small dice of mushrooms
    1 clove garlic
    lrg. piece of ginger, grated
    2 bunches scallions, diced
    1 tsp. brown sugar
    A few dashes of each:
    soy sauce
    rice vinegar

    They freeze pretty well.....I found them to be just slightly more tough after being frozen.

    The broth:

    3 quarts chicken stock
    1 lrg. piece ginger
    1 clove garlic sliced
    1/4 sliced mushrooms
    dash of fish sauce

    Simmer and strain. Add 1 bunch of scallions, sliced

    Put blanched bok choy in the bottom of the bowl and ladle over the broth. Add dumplings that have been browned and steamed.

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    I Would Never Tell A Lye

    Now playing: Eurythmics - Would I Lie to You?
    via FoxyTunes

    I've been baking with my friend Lucie. You will find her recipe in her own words divided up among my pictures. I added a few words here and there. If you want to try this please read through all of the instructions first and set up a well planned mise en place. As, you can probably guess; working with lye can be tricky, messy and even dangerous, but with the proper set-up it is a lark and well worth it.

    Yes, lye! It isn't so new. Hominy is made with lye. Olives are often cured with lye. Asian cuisine uses lye at times, noodles in particular. Of course, pretzels too, they taste better this way!

    Laugenbroetchen/Laugenweckle (I think I found the Swabian name for it, is this right Lucie?)

    This is for a starter dough, or what I learned to call a poolish, or sponge.

    150 g bread flour
    200 ml water
    ½ tsp salt
    1 pinch dry yeast
    Mix, cover and let rest overnight at room temperature at least 12 hours

    600 g bread flour
    250 – 300 ml half water half milk , warm
    2 tsp salt
    2 tsp dry yeast
    50 - 60 g butter ( or lard) at room temperature
    8 g diastatic barley malt

    Pictured is the malt with the German name for it.

    With the standmixer, I make a rather wet dough and then slowly add more flour until the dough won’t stick to the bowl anymore. This is the consistency I like to work with. Then let knead for another 5 minutes.
    Let dough rise about 1 hour, knead, let rise for another hour.

    Divide dough into 100 g pieces. Shape round rolls and put on a floured baking sheet.
    Let rise at room temperature for another hour.

    Then let cool uncovered in the refrigerator for 1 ½ - 2 hours, so the outside will form a kind of a dry skin.

    THE LYE:

    0.5 liter cold water
    20 g NaOH Sodium Hydroxide food grade
    Makes a 4% lye mixture

    Put the NaOH into the water NEVER the other way around ( If you pour water onto NaOH the reaction is like boiling water which will result in a mess and maybe injuries, so be careful)
    Stir until the NaOH is dissolved.
    Use a heatproof glass bowl since the mixture will get quite warm.

    The mixture is not very dangerous but still should be handled with care.
    If you get it on your skin, or anywhere else wash off right away.
    The lye will dull surfaces of any kind, when not cleaned right away.
    I cover my countertop with plastic sheets and wear old clothes, safety goggles and rubber gloves while handling the lye.
    Also I use old baking sheets only for making those rolls. The lye is going to “eat” through the parchment paper and over time destroys the coating.

    The lye can be used 4 times for the recipe above. I pour it in a Ball jar to store it.
    Be careful to label it and store it in a safe place.

    Dunk the rolls into the lye for about 3 seconds. Put on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, let the lye dry a couple of minutes.

    Just before baking sprinkle the rolls with coarse sea salt and with a very sharp knife ( I use my boning knife) cut across the top. Make a deep cut so the rolls have room to rise while baking.

    Bake at Conv 400 F for 15 minutes.

    Cool on a rack so they don't sing 'I am a Man of Constant Sorrow' by the SOGGY BOTTOM boys.

    Want to know more? Look here:

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    Two Slices of Bread and Everything in Between

    ....Things like Cahill's Irish Porter Cheddar, pear butter, shaved turkey breast and whole grain mustard. This is a version of a lunch menu item at a place I worked called Chimney Park Bistro. There it was toasted with a panini press, I don't have one. I use foil wrapped bricks. After it is nice and toasty peel them up and place in a bit of green, or red leaf lettuce. Whatever you call it; butty, or sarni....Make it with a bap, barm, or sliced bread it is a sandwich. Try this one!

    Here is some information about Cahill's Irish Porter Cheddar

    We have been very keen on quinoa lately. I had a request to include it again in another meal. I was thinking sandwich and that potato salad would be good with it. This evolved into a salad with quinoa playing the part of potato. Just for a creamy texture I added avocado, that I used in a different quinoa salad recently with good result. Success!!

    A little bit about quinoa [pronounced KEEN-wah]. An ancient grain that is a complete protein. It is high in fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. Quinoa is also gluten-free, for those that have a problem with that. It may well be a perfect food for the nutty flavour and nutritional values.

    Tomorrow is a real treat, I have been making German bread rolls with my friend Lucie. You can see and hear all about it then.