Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween 2012

  Our neighbour pumpkin Totoro.  There was a Pinterest pin of an old favourite of my kids and myself. I had to carve this guy!

Besides making Totoro carvings.  I have made a delicious, Thai-style pumpkin soup.  The original recipe has butternut squash, which is called Butternut Pumpkin in certain places, Australia being one of those places where the recipe below comes from.  Anyway, I made this soup a bit different with what I had on hand, plenty of round, wonderful Pumpkin Pumpkins.  I used two oven-roasted cooking pumpkins. 

I visited the Asian store near my daughter's home in Albany, New York again. I found a few new things to me there. Here is the first - Fried shallot.  I was thinking a more refined version of the onions you can buy in an everyday grocer, and some people use in green bean casseroles.  The shallots in this bag were less salty than the mentioned onions.  While I was searching how to use these fried shallots in an asian dish, I found several recipes for this soup:

   Thai Pumpkin Soup w/ Spanner Crab 


I didn't hesitate to use our frozen red chili paste I grew and made.

The recipe says the toppings can include crab, or prawn....I used both, and why not?  Don't forget to sprinkle with the fried shallots, they are what brought us here in the first place.




Another favourite of the kids and myself, this one for Halloween



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Creme of Hamburg Parsley Soup

Still working on the veggies from the garden.  Besides some tomatoes and tomatillos, it may be finally done!  Today I am featuring Hamburg Parsley, or Root Parsley.  It is grown mostly for the roots that look quite a bit like parsnips, but taste very different.  It is not very widely used in the UK, or the USA, but is starting to appear on the scene there.  This root is more popular in central and Eastern Europe. This is the first time I tried growing this and it made pretty small roots for me.  I left some in the ground to see if they get bigger next year.    

Hamburg parsley is commonly used for flavouring soup.  It is nice in in mashed potatoes, as well.  You can use the roots and the leaves.

I did get enough with the leaves to make a soup.

Creme of Hamburg Parsley Soup

1 quart chicken stock
2 lrg. Hamburg Parsley roots, peeled and small diced.
1/2 c. cream
Bouquet Garni (leave out parsley, or throw in some of the Hamburg parsley leaves)

Cook the roots in chicken stock and reduce the liquid a bit (about 1/2) with the Bouquet Garni.  This will cook the root.   Process in a blender until smooth.  Run through a sieve.  Add cream to the pot with the broth. Gently heat through.  Season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with chopped leaves.

Brillant song!  Goosebumps time!





Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Liquor Of A Different Colour

Oi, me muckers!  Right! With all the herbs I am still processing into meals, I had to include some lovely liquor over some pie and mash with the bounty of parsley.   The pictured meal was made previously, I didn't take pictures this time.  Too busy working  and enjoying the meal.  In the picture however, are a few twists....I put some porchini mushrooms in the pie filling and parsnips are in the mash...The last twist is that I had cider instead of washing it down with a brew.  I'm not sure how that would be received in East London, but I will take comfort in the fact that it was brill!    

Recipe for the liquor:

History of pie, mash and liquor, not to mention some eels.....

After reading the history of pie and mash with liquor, you can see how the parley sauce came to be known as liquor.  The sauce was made from the water that prominent eels were cooked in, back in the day.  Eels not being so prolific on the Thames, it isn't made that way as much now.


Don't forget to douse with loads of vinegar, or even better chili vinegar - Pukka!                                                              


"Parsley - the jewel of herbs, both in the pot and on the plate."Albert Stockli


My favourite Cockney - Delboy.  I'm sure he tucks into Pie and Mash on a regular basis.




Friday, October 5, 2012

Whole Lotta Lovage

Lucie gave some little sprouts of lovage to me this summer.  I think she grew some earlier, but bunnies ate the tender little leaves.  Anyway, every bit of a lovage plant can be used.  The roots, leaves, seeds.....It can be used for a salt substitute, tea, soups, salads, and a spice, it is used in a cordial to add to brandy in the UK.  I can say that it adds quite a bit to chicken stock.  In German it is called maggikraut, due to the fact it taste like Maggi soup seasoning.  The official name in German for is liebstockel -  "love sticklet".  The original origin of the name lovage  "love ache" medieval for parsley and probably a corruption of the French word levesche.  

I am trying to make lovage vinegar after researching recipes and ways to preserve it.  One bottle for me and one for Lucie.  

The instructions are clear that you should not use too many leaves for this, as lovage is quite strong!  It tastes quite a bit like a strong celery.  Leave the bottles in a cool, dry place for a couple weeks, then use for dressings and sauces.

The plant is said to grow quite tall by the second year, in the right conditions.    

 1. (n.) An umbelliferous plant (Levisticum officinale), sometimes used in medicine as an aromatic stimulant.

1. (a.) Of or pertaining to a natural order (Umbelliferae) of plants, of which the parsley, carrot, parsnip, and fennel are well-known examples

Some links to check out regarding lovage:





They're Red Hot

As promised yesterday, Habanero Hop Hot Sauce.  

I used the Frontera Habanero sauce recipe as a base with a bit more sugar to counter the added hops.

Remember these?

5 cloves of garlic, roast in a skillet, brown evenly.

In a pot add:

1/2 c. carrots, peeled, chopped
1/2 c. chopped white onion
12 med. orange habanero peppers
1 c. apple cider vinegar
1/3 c. sugar
Handful of hops
Salt to taste carefully

Cover the pot and simmer until the carrot is tender about 10 minutes.  Add the whole pot to a blender with the garlic.  Process into a smooth mixture and strain.  It is wise to wear gloves and divert your face whilst dealing with these tough customers.





Thursday, October 4, 2012

I'm Ready For You Mr. Frost

A frost and probably snow is coming to the Front Range and I'm ready!  I got all the tender bits  harvested and the whole plants covered, because they may have a chance when the weather turns warm again, as predicted.  Below are all the things I've been working on from the garden, in the kitchen.  I will go through them quickly, as I am knackered.....

Herbs of all sorts; sorrel, thai basil, basil, lovage, fennel, hamburg parsley, parsley.  Those and a few other things like green onions and celery.

 Tomatoes of all sizes, shapes, colours, ripeness.  Tomatillos and cukes too!

Jalapenos, Thai chilis - red and green.  Pumpkins, onions and a few green beans.

I am trying the salt layer method of preserving some of the Thai basil.  Lovely chicken stock from all the garden goodies.  A few Zinnias got to come in too.

Carrots!  Cake anyone?  Also pictured is lovage and hamburg parsley, I will do a feature on those two soon!  

More flowers!

Tomorrow will be the habanero hop hot sauce recipe I promised.


"The frost performs its secret ministry, Unhelped by any wind."
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  'Frost at Midnight'.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Hoppy Together

Hop time means only one thing, well not "only", but definitely it means home brew time. 

It means what has become an annual event - rye ale.

We have been enjoying, pizza crust and focaccia bread from the spent grains.  You can top like any focaccia bread, ours has cracked pepper and sea salt.  With rye, I shouldn't wonder if caraway seed would be great.  The recipe below is perfect for a 10" cast iron skillet.

This is the recipe I use with one change:
Alewife's Spent Grain Pizza Dough: 

1 pkg. dry bread yeast 
1/2 cup warm water 
1/2 tsp sugar  ***(We use 2 tbsp. barley malt, or molasses)*** 

1/4 cup olive oil 
2 T sugar 
1 tsp salt 

1 cup flour 

1 cup spent grains 
1/2 cup water 

3 cups additional flour 

olive oil for bowl 

flour to sprinkle bread board 

Proof yeast by mixing with 1/2 cup warm water and 1/2 tsp sugar. Let sit 5-10 minutes--a nice layer of foam should prove that the yeast is alive and well. 

In large mixing bowl, mix together olive oil, sugar, and salt. Blend in yeast mixture. Stir in 1 cup flour until well blended. Set aside while you prepare the grains. 

Add 1 cup spent grains (drained well, but still wet) and 1/2 cup water to bowl of food processor. Process until you have a semi smooth mixture. It doesn't ever get really smooth, but you don't want it too chunky either. 

Add grain mixture to yeast slurry and mix together well. Add remaining 3 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing well with each addition. I do this by hand with a wooden spoon. It goes quickly, but you could do it in a mixer with a dough hook if you wanted. The last cup of flour will make the dough seem pretty stiff if you are mixing by hand, but it's ok! Don't worry. It's still a bit sticky, but will clean the side of the bowl. I just use my hands at the end and knead it together right in the bowl. 

When you have a rough lump of dough together and the sides of the bowl are clean, push the dough ball to one side and add a bit of olive oil to the bottom of the bowl. Push the dough into the oil and flip it over, smoothing the oil over the top of the dough. Reshape the dough into an even round. Cover lightly and place in a warm place to rise for about an hour. 

When ready to use, push dough down, deflating it. Bring sides in to center and flip dough over. Put dough out onto floured board and pat out evenly. Cut dough into equal sized pieces for each pizza you will make. If making all pizzas, you should have 8 equal sized pieces of dough. Shape each piece into an evenly round ball and place on a cookie sheet. Cover lightly and let sit 20-30 minutes. When ready to bake, take each little round of dough and pat it out on the floured board into an evenly round shape. You can use a rolling pin if you want to speed the process up a bit. I like them about 9" around for a thin crust pizza. Obviously, a thicker pizza would need to be pushed or rolled out to a smaller round. Once they are rolled out, top with what you like and bake as you usually would. 

This works better with a thin to medium crust pizza -- not so great in a Chicago or deep dish style. The grains add a nice crispiness to a thinner crust. It works well on a BBQ grill, too! :) 


P.S. If you use half the recipe for a focaccia, I just bake it for about 25-30 minutes at 350 deg. depending on the size of pan you use. Just top with your favorite focaccia ingredients.

 Here it is with all of the grainy, peppery bits.

Next is fresh out of the garden hop and habanero hot sauce.  Stay tuned!



I work until beer o’clock. - Stephen King