Last week, I managed to get in a little vacation of sorts: heading off to the family place in the mountains to spend a few days with my parents and some of my sisters. I even took time off from cooking, enjoying my dad's expertise on the grill and literally eating up the home-cooked goodness my mother provided. But I did make Gashouse Eggs one morning for breakfast. And the recipe now resides in the camp log. Of course, since our place is gas-lit, I got to miss most of the impact of the big Northeast blackout.
Since my return, I've been very busy getting ready for the World Science Fiction Convention, and attending to all the usual stuff. So, experimental cooking has taken a bit of a back seat. Still, I've managed to go back and revisit some of the recipes I made earlier this summer.
I was especially pleased to be able to use some of my home-made chicken stock on Wednesday night. I'm not sure whether I'll have to time to play around in the kitchen much in the upcoming week as I continue to prepare for the convention, but the cooler weather of fall is on the horizon and I expect it will be much easier to spend extra time in the kitchen. I'm definitely looking forward to baking season...
I had some leftover Allemande Sauce from the batch I made, and decided not to let it go to waste. So, last night, I sauteed some sea scallops in a bit of olive oil, and served it with rice, and the reheated sauce. It was quite different, the sauce taking on some of the aspects of the seafood, where the chicken was much more neutral. Not quite as good as the fresh sauce, the consistency was not as creamy, and the taste muted. But, overall, still quite good.
I've been meaning to post this for a couple days... When I got done making the chicken stock from scratch, which was quite an interesting experience, I had several cups of the stuff. Approximately, seven cups of it now reside in my freezer for later use, some in one cup containers and some in a muffin pan. However, after all that effort, it would have been a shame not to use some straight away, so I followed along on the sauce-making portion of the course at eGCI. This required several steps to get to the final sauce, which I served over chicken baked with a dash of salt and black pepper on Wednesday evening.
Step One: Veloute Sauce
1 oz. butter
1 oz. flour
2 cups chicken stock, heated
I started with about three cups of stock and reduced it somewhat, and then went ahead. Note that the measurements are by weight, not volume, for the first two ingredients. Make a roux with the butter and flour, and cook over low heat about 4 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Gradually add the hot stock to the roux, beating constantly until it boils. Simmer the sauce very slowly for 1/2 hour, skimming the skin off the surface as needed. Strain to remove the thickened bits.
Step Two: Sauce Allemande
2 cups Basic Veloute Sauce (about what you just made)
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup heavy cream
juice from 1/2 lemon (to taste)
salt (to taste)
white pepper (to taste)
In a heat-resistant bowl, whisk egg yolk and cream. Bring your veloute back to a simmer temperature (not boiling). Temper your egg mixture by slowly beating in 1/2 cup of hot sauce. (This is an important step which avoids causing the egg/cream mixture to curdle.) Stir this mixture back into the sauce pan. Stir slowly and bring up to a simmer (do not boil). Add lemon juice, salt, and white pepper. This should yield about 2 cups of sauce.
At this point, one can personalize the sauce in a variety of ways. Since this was the first time I made it, I took the instructor's suggestion and added the following ingredients:
1/4 cup capers
1 TBSP fresh tarragon
dash of white wine vinegar
So on Tuesday night, with the chicken stock cooling in the 'fridge, I wanted something a bit more on the simple side...
Steaks with Balsamic Vinegar Glaze
from Bon Appetit (April 1996)
2 boneless rib eye or other tender cut steaks
(about 6 ounces each)
3 tsp olive oil
1/3 cup chopped shallots
2 tsp fresh rosemary
3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Rub 1 tsp of olive oil over bottom of skillet. Heat over medium-high heat. Add steaks to skillet and cook until desired doneness (about 4 minutes per side for rare). Transfer steaks to plate and let rest, covered to keep warm.
Add remaining olive oil to same skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add shallots and rosemary and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add vinegar and cook until reduced to glaze. Mix in any juices that have collected from the steaks. Spoon glaze over steaks and serve.
Even though I had stuff simmering on the stove all day as I worked on learning to make home-made chicken stock, I still found my way back to the kitchen for dinner. For Monday night, another experiment...
Lamb Apple Bake
a Jennifer original
2 shoulder lamb chops
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sage
1 Granny Smith apple
1 TBSP molasses
1 TBSP flour
2/3 cup hot water
2 tsp cider vinegar
1 TBSP butter
Season the chops with the salt and sage. Film the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and brown the chops over medium heat. Remove chops to a shallow baking pan. Cover with slices of apple and drizzle with molasses.
Add flour to the drippings and cook until brown, stirring occasionally. Gradually add water and stir until smooth. Bring to boil. Stir in vinegar, dash of salt. Remove from heat and thicken with butter. Pour mixture over chops. Cover the entire dish with foil, and cook in a 300 degree oven for 25 minutes.
Over on Saute Wednesday there's a post about the eGullet Culinary Institute which just opened this last Friday. eGullet.com is a webzine focused on food, dining, and cooking. They also run a forum for discussion of same. In any case, I joined just for participation in the online cooking classes.
I'd really love to take the time to actually attend courses, but find it difficult to plan that much time away from everything else. Most of the best programs run several weeks. So, something that's accessible online may just prove ideal.
At present, I'm in the midst of the Stocks and Sauces Class. Due to time constraints, I opted to only make the chicken stock and save the beef stock for some other time. I've never made this myself, using what is reportedly vastly inferior bouillon cubes, so I'll be interested to see how this comes out. It's currently cooling in my 'fridge - all four quarts of it. Wednesday I'll find out what sauce they propose to make from it and find a way to work it into my menu.
Either way it goes, I'm sure this will be an interesting experience.
Thanks to Michael for bringing this article about Supasweet onions being released on the British market to my attention. As many who know me are aware, I'm not that fond of onions. Indeed, I won't eat them raw at all, and used to avoid cooking dishes that included them because I found them so difficult to cut. Of late I've gotten better about the latter, but something like these new tearless onions certainly sounds attractive to me. I must admit that I'm curious, though, as to whether the method they used to reduce the pyruvic acid will make any difference in the taste.
A doctor from the team at the University of Liverpool that developed a method for analyzing the strength of the vegetable says: "Supasweets are less than half the strength of traditional cooking onions and a good deal milder than other supposedly mild onions." link
According to celebrity Liverpool chef Paul Heathcote: "The new onions are very sweet, but still have the flavour of an ordinary onion which makes them very versatile." link
While Shane Osborn, head chef at London's Pied a Terre restaurant, is currently on record as less than convinced about the idea: "I love the flavour of strong onions, I don't know whether this milder variety would have the same effect." link
I suppose it remains to be seen how the cooking world will receive this. At present, it seems this variety is only available in the U.K., so I guess I'll have to wait a bit to discover my own opinion. Meanwhile, perhaps I'll just keep an eye out for what others have to say on the matter.