Archive | February, 2012

Homemade Gingerale

27 Feb

Homemade gingerale. Well, i sliced my finger slicing ginger. damn those mandolines. it is true what they say- that shit is sharp. And those little guard things don’t work for shit. But that aside, this ginger stuff is damn good. ginger syrup is super versatile. could be used to make gingerale, in tea, ginger lemonade (as martha stewart suggests) or in a cocktail that i love- the dark and stormy.  The proportions for this recipe were taken from martha stewart- but adapted after some internet reading. Martha just cooked for a few mins- turned off heat and let it sit for 30 mins. Whereas, the internet and i cooked it on medium-low for an hour. If you wanted to be hardcore, you can do some whole process w. yeast to get the carbonation- but I thought ginger syrup and seltzer was effort enough.

A complete aside: let’s talk about coffee storage. i used to grind my beans every morning. but then i got lazy. so i started getting them ground at the coffee shop– keeping the grinds in the freezer. Well, i read some article that said this was the wrong way to do things. Apparently best to keep them at room temperature. They keep for 2 weeks as whole beans and only like 2 days ground. Can freeze the beans that not using in 2 weeks— *chris- didn’t you just learn a trick to get the air out?* So i have reconfigured my coffee storage system. I bought two new stainless steel airtight containers. I keep both in the cabinet- cool, dry place. One full of beans. then every other day- i grind some beans, like 2 days worth- so i don’t have to do it in the morning. feels like it a tastier and more efficient way to go.  if anyone has further wisdom on the subject- would be glad to know.

Ginger Syrup:
3 1/2 cups water
6-inch piece of fresh ginger
1 3/4 cup sugar [i used half white, half light brown sugar]

To make ginger syrup:
Peel ginger and cut into thin slices lengthwise. Can then chop those into 1/2 in pieces. Add ginger, sugar and water to a small pot. Bring to a boil (sugar will dissolve) and then lower heat and cook on medium-low for 1 hour. Turn off heat and allow to cool. Strain out ginger- w. mesh filter, coffee mesh filter or cheesecloth. [I think this is one of those longer you have, stronger it tastes. but if you only had 30 mins to soak/cook– that’d be ok too- it just might be less potent?]

Martha says it keeps in an airtight container, refrigerated up to two months.

To make gingerale: mix ginger syrup with seltzer. Ratio can depend on personal taste and how strong your syrup is.  My syrup pretty potent and I used maybe 1/3 syrup to 2/3 seltzer. Squeeze with a garnish of fresh lime.


Sticky Toffee Pudding

21 Feb

A few weeks ago, I posted a schnitzel recipe from Cliff’s UK Cookery School book. As promised, here is a second recipe from there– Sticky Toffee Pudding. Love this super sweet dessert- and figured since it is an english dessert- might as well use an english recipe. though i did take some pointers from a similar recipe- posted on David Lebovitz site. this is definitely a dinner party/special occasion type dessert. but the toffee can, and should, be made anytime. great over ice cream. or i don’t see why it wouldn’t work in the banoffee pie? or at least a banoffee pie like sundae. yum. Anyway. the most annoying part of this recipe was translating all the UK amounts/ingredients to US but- i did that for you– so jolly good then, carry on. I put mine in 6 individual ramekins, though if you don’t have i’d recommend muffin tins. the 6 are a little big serving so I think 12 muffin-sized would be great. could use paper liners and all. David Lebovitz also makes one in a big round dish- which I think would be good, but i’d imagine wouldn’t have the same good crunchy outside to inside gooey balance- as he also tries it w. one of those maze-like brownie pans too so every piece has an edge.

Cookery School recipe:
200g stoned dates,chopped [1/2 pound, weight is once they have been pitted]
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda [baking soda]
60g unsalted butter, plus extra to grease the ramekins [4 tablespoons]
60g light muscovado sugar or light brown sugar* [2/3 cups]
2 eggs
2 tablespoons golden syrup [treacle or light molasses or regular molasses]**
1/4 level teaspoon ground ginger
150g self-rising flour [1 cup of all-purpose flour w. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt]
vanilla ice cream to serve

for toffee sauce:
75g unsalted butter [5 tablespoons]
175g dark muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar* [1 cup]
125ml double cream [1/2 cup]

*Sugar note. Muscovado is basically an unrefined sugar. The books say– “It is a more natural type of sugar and there is more molasses at the center of the grain which gives the dish a more caramel taste.” While I didn’t buy sugar branded as “muscovado” (sold for like, $7 at union market) I bought the organic unrefined sugar— which I think is pretty much the same. Quite a bit coarser than refined sugar.
** this stuff called Lyle’s Golden syrup is friggin delicious. I snuck it back from London last time I was there– but you can get it in some Brit stores in nyc (there are several). It tastes like a magical blend between honey, maple syrup and molasses.

Preheat oven to 350.
1. Put chopped dates in a medium size bowl. Pour over 1 cup of boiling water and baking soda and set aside to soak for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl cream butter and light muscavado sugar together until pale and then gradually beat in the eggs and golden syrup. Fold in the flour (w. your additions to make it self-rising) and ground ginger, and then stir in the soaked date mixture.
3. Grease ramekins w. butter. Pour this sponge mixture into 6 small ramekins.
4. Place the filled ramekins onto a baking tray and put in the preheated over for 20-25 minutes, until the top of the pudding is just firm to the touch.
5. To make the toffee sauce, put the butter in a medium-sized frying pan over a medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the dark muscovado and stir to dissolve. Finish the sauce by pouring in the cream and cook for a further 2 minutes then remove from heat.
6. To serve. They say you can run a knife gently around and invert onto a plate. Pour sauce over and serve w. a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This did not work for me– plus I like the look of serving w. in the ramekins, so I just did that.
7. If making ahead— reheat your cakes in a 300 oven— and would recommend, as David does, use a chopstick to make a couple holes in each cake and spread me toffee over. Cover w. foil and bake. He says use half toffee for your big cake– and reheat at 300 for 30 mins. For individual I just spread a spoon of toffee on each. Covered w. foil. Heat for 30 or less.
8. Heated the extra toffee up and served on the side.

Slow Bolognese or Super Simple Tomato Sauce

17 Feb

i have two choices for you. both from marcella hazan (as most of my italian recipes are.) one is a low and slow bolgnese. the other is the most super simple tomato sauce. the bolgnese, marcella says can cook from 3 1/2 to 5 hours. i ate my first meal of it at 3 1/2 and tried it again at 5 and was amazed at the difference– creamy, tasty and worth the time, no doubt. but if you are going to spend 5 hours making the sauce, then i think we should at least double it– amounts i have put in [ ]. though meat sauce freezes well, i think, so you could always triple or quadruple original if you felt so inclined. also- i think if you are going to put this much effort in- go out and buy some fresh pasta (or make it.) I got a tagliatelle, which i love– but of course it will work with anything. Enjoyed some of the leftovers w. polenta and fresh mozzarella… and then– because that’s what i eat w. all my lunches- i mixed some up w. wheatberries.

2 tablespoons chopped yellow onion [1/4 cup]
3 tablespoons olive oil [6]

3 tablespoons butter [6]
2 tablespoons chopped celery [1/4 cup]
2 tablespoons chopped carrot [1/4 cup]
3/4 cup ground chopped lean beef, preferably chuck [1.5 pounds]
1 cup dry white wine [2 cups]
1/2 milk (i used whole) [1 cup]
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg [1/4 tsp]
2 cups canned Italian tomatoes, roughly chopped, with their juices [4 cups, or two 28oz cans plum tomatoes]

Marcella’s notes
– the meat must be sauteed just barely long enough to lose its raw color. it must not brown or it will lose its delicacy
-it must be cooked in milk before the tomatoes are added. this keeps the meat creamier and sweeter tasting.
-it must cook at the merest summer for a long, long time. the minimum is 3 1/2 hours, 5 is better

1. Use an earthenware or heavy cast-iron casserole, the deepest you have (to keep the ragu from reducing too quickly.) Put in chopped onion with all the oil and butter and saute briefly over med heat until just translucent. Add celery and carrot and cook gently for 2 minutes.
2. Adding ground beef, crumbling it in the pot with a fork. Add 1 tsp salt [2 tsp], stir and cook only until the meat has lost its raw red color. [I take this to mean, when it at has lost some of the raw red– if you wait until all raw is gone, that’s too far- and you are cooking this sucker for 5 hours so won’t be underdone.] Add the wine, turn the heat up to a med high and cook, stirring occasionally until all the wine has evaporated. [this can take a while, but i took it to mean not all the liquid- because there will still be some from fat– but liquid will be nearly gone and that alcohol scent will evaporate.]
3. turn heat back down to med, add milk and nutmeg and cook until evaporated [same note as above.] stir frequently.
4. when the milk has evaporated, add tomatoes and stir thoroughly. When the tomatoes have started to bubble, turn the heat down until the sauce cooks at the laziest simmer, just an occasional bubble. Cook uncovered for a minimum of 3 1/2 to 4 hours [5 is great], stirring occasionally. taste and correct for salt. (If you cannot watch the sauce for a long stretch, you can turn off the heat and resume cooking it later on. But do finish cooking it in one day.)

Super Simple Tomato Sauce
What’s so amazing about this sauce is that there is barely anything in it. just tomatoes, butter and an onion– which you take out after its cooked. Seriously, there is no reason to buy canned sauce again. For New Years Eve, we used in Pasta Bake.

2 pounds, fresh ripe plum tomatoes [or 2 cups canned tomato w. their juice- used a 28oz can]
1/4 pound butter [1 stick- or if this seems like a lot- i think 3/4 of a stick will work fine]
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
1/4 tsp granulated sugar

If using canned tomatoes, start at step 2.
1. wash the tomatoes in cold water. cut them in half lengthwise. Cook in a covered stockpot or saucepan until they have simmered for 10 minutes.
2. Puree through a food mill [or immersion blender] and put back in pot– [i didn’t do this– just used hands to crush the tomatoes.] add the butter, onion, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and sugar and cook at a slow but steady summer, uncovered for 45 minutes. Taste and correct for salt. discard the onion.

Tangerine Ice & Champagne Cocktails

14 Feb

In addition to the sweet potato soup, last time I was at Sam’s for dinner with Terry– Sam served us these. Holy moly I could drink 100 of them. So good. And probably dangerous.

For new years eve- Sam and Jared stayed in a cooked  a gorgeous and delicious meal. Sam made these– (pardon the belated posting) here is what she had to say about it :
Above all, the easiest creation that I made and imagine we will repeat to please future guests at our place was the tangerine ice.  So delicious and totally celebratory. We poured champagne over and added maple bitters – a great start to 2012.

1/2 cup sugar
3 cups freshly squeezed tangerine juice (about 3 pounds)
Juice of 2 large limes
2 tablespoons orange liqueur or kirsch. Sam used Creme de framboise
Champagne, optional.
Maple bitters- Sam added and if you have– it really makes a great addition

1. Put the sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk with 1 cup tangerine juice
until thoroughly dissolved. Stir in the rest of the tangerine juice,
the lime juice, and the orange liqueur or kirsch. Mix well.
2. Pour the mixture into a storage container to a depth of 1 inch, or
into a zippered plastic freezer bag (she used a ziploc.) Cover or seal well and freeze for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.
3. To serve, chop the frozen mixture roughly with a spatula, then
spoon into glasses. Top with a little chilled Champagne if you wish. And a few drops of Maple Bitters.

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