Look out! I'm becoming brilliant with sauces. A perfectly fine standby sauce for fish is butter with lemon juice and capers, especially sautéed fish because you already have the hot pan going. Oil + acid = vinaigrette, so it works for vegetables too. This sauce is elaborated with surplus liquid from the ceviche. No point in letting that go to waste. The ceviche liquid contains water, lime, ginger, fennel, and onion. About half a cup added to the sauté pan after the fish was removed. A half a lemon was also squeezed into the burnt buttery pan. It was thickened with a scant teaspoon corn starch, thus its alluring attractive glaze. Next time I'll add maybe 1/2 teaspoon of sugar or honey or something, just for another dimension, that'll be like WOW !
The vegetables are my new temporary favorite thing, zucchini with barely warmed tomato. Here, rounded with onion and garlic and presented on a bed of cut Romaine. The lemon, ceviche juice, butter sauce was substituted for dressing. So the plate is unified by the sauce, the fish with the vegetables.
Let's get scientifical for a moment, shall we? OK, here goes.
The great thing about Pacific salmon as contrasted with farm-raised salmon, is the diet and the exercise of the natural fish. Wild salmon has a varied diet. It's a naturally rich color, the result of feeding on shrimp. The pink in shrimp is carotenoid astaxanthin, an antioxident. Farm fish is dyed with a color from the chemical company Hoffman-La Roche. Search: [+cantaxanthin +salmofan +"Hoffman-La Roche] Wild salmon has the desirable levels of DHA and EPA from the Omega 3 fats. The human brain is 60% fat, half that fat is DHA. DHA stands for docosahexaeonic acid, for whatever that's worth, and EPA stands for Environmental Protection Agency. Just kidding, EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid, for whatever that's worth to you. The human body can make its own DHA and EPA from plant sources but the conversion of ALA, which stands for Alpha-linolenic acid, for whatever that's worth, is insufficient. Populations have been followed that used to have access to a steady diet of wild salmon. By carefully studying those populations once their access had been closed, it has been found the incidences of heart disease, diabetes, undesirably high cholesterol, and obesity increased dramatically from near zero to, well, A LOT! Search: [+"karuk tribe" +salmon +health], go on then, search, I said.
Wild fish is measurably cleaner than farmed fish. Farmed fish are fed an industrial diet. Their flesh contains significantly more toxins, including PCBs and dioxin than wild fish. Search: [+"farmed fish" +toxins] Farmed fish have a lot more fat on their bodies, but a lot less of the desirable omega 3s. They don't get much exercise. They're also stressed by overcrowding and a little bit sad, but now that's just me thinking it.
There is, however, this itty-bitty little teeny-weenie unresolved concern about mercury concentrating in higher orders along the food chain. The detectable amounts of mercury in wild salmon are negligible for adults, but uncertain for the developing brains of infants. For that reason, salmon should probably be avoided by nursing or pregnant women and infants. Fish oils purchased commercially are completely free of toxins and are good substitutes.
See? The lesson here is the same lesson as all the lessons; whenever industry interjects itself between you and your source of food, it goofs on it. It's the nature of industrial food. Why, it's enough to drive a person right back to the very basics, then in'nit?
Now, you're probably wondering, "Bo, how did you get so smart? What are you basing your information on? Huh? " I read books all the time, that's how. And then you probably want to go, "But how do you know its all true? Huh?" Because I said so, that's how.
End of scientificalness.
Salmon and spinach soufflé made the usual way. The part that's not shown very well in the photographs is the Béchamel because that's also made in the usual way, and it's simple as eating pie, and I'm a bit tired of showing it. Béchamel goes, butter and flour in equal measure with milk added. Voilà!
The difference here is, the Béchamel has the yolks of three eggs added, it is a soufflé after all, the yolks are tempered with a spoonful of the hot sauce first, not just dumped into the pot, and egg yolks are thickeners too, so the usual amount of flour is pared back or else the sauce would be too thick. Two types of cheese are also added to the sauce at the end, once the flour is cooked, the egg yolks added, the thickness established, in this case the thinness established, and removed from the heat before being added because cheese is already a finished processed product and its fat portion could separate under prolonged heat. The cheese will also thicken the sauce even further, and you don't want a thick glob of eggy cheesy flour sauce, now do you? All of this is controlled with splashes of milk throughout the process so the sauce never goes globby. Thin Béchamel + egg yolks + cheese. Seasoned with nutmeg. So much for the sauce.
And it's all about the sauce, if it weren't also all about the ingredients the sauce is intended to carry. The main ingredients here are a slice off a slab of Pacific salmon along with baby spinach, an intriguing combination of pink and green. The rest is all the usual suspects, onion, mushroom, whatever bits of cheese I have around waiting their turn at getting used. I don't even know what that one kind was because the label is gone. It was sort of hard and sufficiently sturdy to be grated. The others were Parmigiano (lining the pot) and Maytag blue. I reserved a nob of that Maytag blue because I want to use it to inoculate my next batch of cheese just to see what happens.
Not shown in the photographs; three eggs separated into two bowls. The yolks into a small cereal bowl, and the whites into a large mixing bowl where they were promptly whipped mercilessly into stiff peaks with the aid of a scant 1/8 tsp cream of tartar powder. I used the whip attachment to an immersion blender to beat the egg whites because I like playing with that thing. Once I fitted a wire whip with a thin wire handle into an electric hand drill just for giggles. That was fun too.
The extraneous ingredients were added to the sauce in increments. For the sake of minimal pot messing, I sweated the onion and mushrooms in oil first, then added the spinach to wilt. Removed the mixture from the little pot to a bowl. Used the same pot to make the sauce. Returned the mixture to the pot now holding the sauce then added the fish and the cheese off the heat. Then folded all that into the beaten egg whites.
I love the way the cheese coating the pot toasts up and forms a cheese crust.
If I would use the brand names of cheese, salmon, and ham I might drive traffic to my site, but I'n not that devious, not yet anyway. One of these days I'm going to create a post with the word Kraft™ sprinkled liberally throughout as if spread with abandon from a Kraft™-shaker, or maybe General Foods™. I could describe an Asian dish using all Kikkoman™ words even if I'm not actually using their products. Ha ha ha. I'm such a player. That's right, I said it, I'm a player.
Psyche! This is not a ham and cheese sandwich, but it's close. It's more akin to an antipasti except elaborated with ham and bread into a full meal.
Ham, smoked but not cured. Funny dat. I always thought smoking was a form of curing. Apparently, not so. With hams, curing is either dry or wet. Dry = rubbing with salt, or some form of nitrates or nitrites, usually involves re-hydration following the curing process. Wet = emersion in some sort of brine mixture. A smoke-cured ham, like speck purports to be, is cured with salt then smoked.
I have to admit to a bit of a nose bleed at check out. I justified the cost by comparing with packaged luncheon meats to which I've become quite fond for combining with apples for healthy and satisfying snacks. It pisses me off you get so few slices and the packages are so expensive. When I visualized how many packages it would take to equal the cost of this, they're thin packages so just a few packages would equal 1/4 the mass of this, well, there you have it. SOLD !
You know, six to ten of these could knock the edge right off the pangs of hunger -- knock the edge off like a steak knife used as a screwdriver, knock the edge off like Russell Brand edited for the Disney channel, knock the edge off like diluting a shot of tequila with a gallon of orange juice, knock the edge off like a ... like a ... chunk of balsa wood in a high power lathe.
* the bread is home-made
* the mozzarella is home-made
* smoked but not cured ham
* non-hothouse tomatoes
* Aerogarden basil
* olive oil drizzled liberally
The other day I had an urge for a sandwich but I generally do not keep bread around so I set off to make ordinary bread the fast way. By fast I mean five or six hours not the usual three days or so for the sourdough.
The bread was started with 1 + 1/2 cups whey with a scant one fourth teaspoon sugar for the commercial yeast. Whey, because it was there, usually water or milk.
The rest is whole a quarter whole wheat to three quarters all-purpose flour. I added a few rounded tablespoons of leftover hummus that was spiced untraditionally. I thought it might help keep the bread moist, but setting up myself for disaster.
The dough was slow to start. I began wondering if the hummus was preventing it from rising properly but once it started then it was fine and the bread is delicious.
The photos depict
1) vegetable ingredients
2) mise en place including anchovy and jalapeño, finished florentine, Parmigiano and ricotta, three eggs blended
3) finished omelet plated
4) plated omelet opened
This is a fusion omelet, it's sophisticated and nothing short of extraordinary. I would proudly serve it to guests, if those guests were possessed with working taste buds and appreciation for interesting food, in other words, a limited audience, and that would exclude 100% of the people in the previous building I lived. True omelets are not stuffed. I stuff mine to the maximum possible, so I suppose a better word for them would be œufs ètouffee (choked), or œufs farcis (stuffed) if you wanted to stick with French words.
I've been Jones'n for spinach so the original idea was for a florentine omelet, and that's all there. I used Parmigiano Reggiano plus my own ricotta. I added mushrooms because I felt like it, and I flavored butter/olive oil with anchovy for its rich body and to substitute for salt. I added jalapeños for heat.
I used the violently-shake-the-pan method over high heat rather than the gently-move-the-curd method over moderate heat because I wanted a more even finished surface possibly toasted and not the wavy open surface of the gentle technique.
The photos depict:
1) Chicken bones. Collect them all, save them from the plates of guests if you must. Get them before the cat does.
2) Bones broken open to expose the marrow. See the marrow? It's all exposed and ready to be boiled out.
3) Boiling bones with protein foam forms within the first few minutes if boiling
4) Boiling bones with the protein foam skimmed off. The protein foam will boil back into the liquid all by itself if left alone, but it adds a slightly bitter taste to the broth
5) Boiling bones under pressure. This went on for a few hours until I could smell the chicken in the room and a little while beyond. Pressure is not necessary. This can be done as easily in a pot with a lid but some of the liquid will evaporate and you might have to keep adding water. Plus, it smells up the place like cooking chicken for several hours and you might not want that. It gets to be a bit much.
6) The broth finished boiling with oil on the top. You can see it's not very much oil, not even enough to cover the surface. This means the chicken wasn't particularly fatty.
7) Broth and bones strained through a colander into another pot
8) Broth strained through a fine strainer back into the original pot
9) Broth in ice cube trays
10) Finished frozen broth cubes ready to be snatched up and used.
Please forgive the repetition, but home-made chicken broth is a cook's essential and worth repeating. I never tire of making it. It's fun! And I feel utterly bereft without it. How comforting it is knowing a satisfying bowl or cup of real soup is only a few ice cubes away. Any elaboration beyond straight up broth is an extravagance, like onions, garlic, pasta, frozen chicken bits, miso, herbs fresh or dry, curry powders, chili powders, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, or roasted tomato powder, or sun-dried tomatoes, any vegetable imaginable for that matter, shrimp, fish, mushrooms, truffles, see where this is going? The list is endless. It a base for sauces and gravies and creamed soups, it enriches dishes like scalloped potatoes and macaroni and cheese. It could probably even be added to bread although I've never tried that, because, what? Do you think I'm crazy?
Making broth from bones can be done any number of ways. I heard chefs say not to cook the bones for long, but frankly, I don't understand that. I boil the bones at length in an attempt to extract every last molecule of chickeny goodness possible. In order to assist that process, I break open the bones with pliers to expose the marrow. You can cook the bones with aromatics, onion, carrots, celery, etc., but I usually do not do that. I like the broth to be nothing but chicken, but tastes vary. I'm looking for gelatinous final product if cooled but my broth never gets the chance to gelatin-ify because I freeze it before that happens. I also usually do not remove the fat that forms into a layer at the top of the container when chilled. I freeze that along with the broth because I want chicken fat to go along with the broth. Chicken fat is good. Mmmmm, chicken fat. Schmaltz, the panacea of traditional Jewish mothers everywhere. Got a burn? BAM! Chicken fat. Got the sniffles? BAM! Chicken fat. Bee sting? BAM! Chicken fat. Cough? BAM! Chicken fat. Tuberculous, Black Plague, Malaria, Polio, Bi-polar disorder, high blood pressure, profound sense of injustice? BAM! Chicken fat.
Labels: chicken broth
This is the second batch of ricotta, in which I am quite proud, made from the the whey of the third batch of mozzarella, which is gone. The first batch of ricotta was used up in salads where it became coated and blended with the dressings and took up its flavor. I'm thinking of using this batch to stuff omelets, or to fill pasta ravioli with spinach, although I'm not feeling the urge for ravioli right now sufficient to justify the effort and the shamefully extravagant carbs of the pasta. There's a time for all that, but now is not the time.
I've been reading web pages on cheese making and watching YouTube videos. Turns out mozzarella is considered not all that easy to make. Funny, all this time I thought it was a beginner cheese. Silly me. But I'm feeling a strong urge to branch out to blues, cheddars, ard and bries. I think I know what's involved, but best to read a book first. So I ordered one and it should be here tomorrow. I think I can make my own molds. Why not? I made my own chocolate molds, and that's more artistic and a lot more involved.
The web sites seem perfectly willing to sell you things you don't need, presses, strainers, PH meters, infused cloths, draining mats, containers, thermometers, for example. If you think about it, all these cheeses were discovered by mistake, by necessity, and by the need to avoid wastage, basically, by abject poverty and desperate need. So I feel I'm in good company here. How's this? Cheese sites sell bacterial cultures to start the molds for specific blue cheeses. Fine. But, cheese producers sell it too in the form of finished cheeses. I can remove a portion of the mold from my favorite blue cheese and blend it with milk and use it to inoculate my own curd -- a savings of some $16.00 right there, plus I get to eat the cheese from which the sample was removed. Shirley, this was how it was done through the ages, no? And yes, I just called you Shirley.
* home-made ricotta
* 1 large chicken breast sliced in thirds
* Dusted with flour with salt / pepper, habanero powder, scant 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
* Sautéed in butter / olive oil
* Cut on board for presentation
* butter from sautéing + flower from coating scallopini = roux
* roux + frozen chicken broth cubes = gravy
* olive oil
* rice vinegar
* raspberry preserves
* Dijon style mustard
* prepared horseradish
* home-made ricotta cheese
* anjo chili powder
* garlic powder
Coating to batter
Dressing for catfish
* home-made ginger/garlic mayonnaise
Ever see Vince Offer, the Sham Wow spokesman, the guy who wears the head-mic and crams a sixty-second spot into fifteen-seconds? Now he's pitchman for Slap Chop food chopper. He's such a douchebag, he issues a declarative, "You love salads, but hate making them." Wrong! I like salads and love making them, so shut up, Douche. I can't hit the remote fast enough to make that douche nozzle disappear, second in annoyance only to Billy Mays, who reminds me of Bluto on the Popeye cartoons, except with the noise of Brian Blessed who is so ear-splittingly loud he breaks windows within a quarter mile radius by playing charades.
So anyway, the catfish is cut into bite-size bits following the lines of the filet, dredged in the dry flour mixture to help the batter adhere, then milk + whey is added to the flour mixture to suitable thinness and the powdered catfish bits are drenched in the batter. The batter can be lightened with a touch of baking powder but I didn't feel like it tonight.
This is the second batch of ceviche within the last month. The first batch was so delicious I couldn't keep off it. I had it for one meal or another every day straight until it was gone, then when it was gone it stayed on my mind until I whipped out another batch.
Having this ceviche on hand in the refrigerator available for snacking at any moment, along with fruit mixture also prepared in batch volume and available, along with oatmeal mixture also prepared and readily available, proved an excellent and healthful way to drop surplus body fat that was beginning to accumulate around my waist, always drapped unsightly on a skinny person's frame, and necessitating moving up to wider pants. Luckily I have a wardrobe for just that weight fluctuation, but having to use it is an alarm that I've slipped into the wrong eating habits. I do believe these three things were instrumental, along with ceasing sugary carbonated beverages and regular servings of breads, in getting off the surplus fat off even though, oddly, my weight has not changed. This story hasn't ended though, I still have a little way to go to settle back into comfortable homeostasis.
These photos depict:
1.) variety of firm textured seafood
2) vegetables included in the ceviche
3) combined cut seafood and vegetables
4) ceviche in jars
5) ceviche plated the day of preparation
6) ceviche plated a week later
* Chicken roasted previously, coated skin and all, sitting in the refrigerator waiting for something to happen. Picked off from the bones, the bones reserved for stock.
* Brown rice from the bulk bins at Whole Foods. There's a variety of brown rices available, judging by cost, this was the lamest kind. There were little green grains in there too. I do love those bins, mostly for experimental purposes. Steamed for 45 minutes, 15 minutes with the heat off, the cover never removed. It could have gone another 5 or so minutes without damage. A few tablespoons of milled corn meal also labeled polenta added on a whim at the beginnin of cooking because Joe and I had it at a Cuban restaurant and it tasted pretty good combined. To mold the rice, run water through a ramekin and dump it out, press rice into the dampened ramekin and invert over a plate.
* Onion. All the scraps I collected, plus one half purple onion, 2 stalks celery, one yellow bell pepper all sweated together in olive oil and sprinkled with salt.
* Small zucchini quartered lengthwise then diced added at the end so it cooked only a few minutes. Nothing worse than soggy zucchini. Well, probably some things are worse, but limp soggy zucchini is not very pleasant.
* Two plump tomatoes added at the very end after the heat was cut so it didn't cook at all save for the carry-over heat from the stew
* About 8 or 9 chicken broth ice cubes. (not bullion cubes, but rather frozen broth made previously) I kept adding broth ice cubes until the desired consistency was achieved. The breading on the chicken thickened the stew.
* A full tablespoon of Madras curry was heated in another pan until the aromas wafted up. Added to the stew. Tasted, not nearly enough flavor, so another full tablespoon was heated in the same pan along with a teaspoon of chipotle chile and long grind of black pepper. Tasted again, added kosher salt.
Fruitilicious oatmeal, a week's-worth of oatmeal prepared at once with brown sugar, a boat-load of cinnamon, raisins and pecans. Heated for four minutes in microwave, topped with butter and whole milk. See how I cleverly avoided the redundant construction, "prepared in advance?" The fruit mixture was also a week's worth prepared at once, so it's a simple matter of bringing together two wholesome staples and set to munching four minutes after starting out.
This was an excuse to use the roasted tomato powder. Two large tablespoons brown rice miso added to exactly 2.5 cups chicken broth made previously and frozen into cubes, and by exactly, I mean approximately. This almost had mushrooms but better judgement demanded I toss them out instead, those sad little fragments, those worn out wastes of fungal energy, those squishy, unpleasant, discolored, withered, slimy, little rejects from the compost heap.
The lady on TV said, "I suggest using a serrated knife to slice the tomato as thinly as possible," and I thought, "This woman has no idea how sharp my knives are." My chefs' knives are so sharp they'll cut you for just looking at them the wrong way. Ask me how I know. The twelve inch chef's knife actually worked better than the mandolin, and the blade on the mandolin is a razor blade. Just, say'n.
This powder is intriguing. Four tomatoes roasted dry and ground to powder reduced to fill a two ounce herb jar. There were actually three trays of tomatoes but I'm showing only one. The powder has intense roasted tomato flavor. It occurred to me I could sneak in roasted tomato flavor where it's least expected, within hand-made noodles, for example, but then there's little point to that when I like adding whole tomatoes to everything possible anyway. I suppose the powder will be useful for roasted flavor and for those bleak moments when I find myself haplessly bereft of fresh tomatoes.
The crostini is the toasted uninteresting un-aged white bread made earlier. It's not bad, there's just nothing to recommend it, unless you're a fan of plain white bread, even if it is made with milk and egg, and a small amount of whole wheat. The mozzarella is from the last batch made from the non-homogenized milk picked up from Whole Foods. The idea was to see if it melted. It does. The mozzarella is much more dense than any I've ever bought and a little bit crumbly. It's not elastic or rubbery at all and it totally fails as mozzarella when judged on texture. Still, it's the best mozzarella I've ever tasted. No brag, just fact. And that makes it all worth it. Plus, it was fun.
Sprinkled with dry Italian herbs. A drizzle of olive oil would have been a good idea. They're like little Spartan pizzas.
Catfish filet patted dry, dredged in whole wheat flour, drenched in whey, dredged in Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs). Hastened with a steam of water and lime which was reserve liquid from pulling ceviche out from a jar. It was a chubby little filet and I didn't have all day to stand around waiting for eight minutes while the bulging center cooked.
I learned it's possible to buy raw milk in Colorado. You have to buy a share in a cow. Ha ha ha ha ha. It's quite expensive. You buy a share, then you pay monthly lease for upkeep on the cow, and then you pay a premium for the milk. Then you have to go out to the farm once a week and get it. The farm can be up to 40 miles outside of town. This goes for goats too. The benefit is unpasteurized, non-homogenized whole milk that is chiefly grass fed but supplemented with good stuff not commercially over-productive stuff, and not supplemented with soy and with no steroids and no antibiotics If the cow or goat needs medication, their milk is not circulated. The thing about owning a share in a cow is if you want more than your share specifies, your share entitles you to whatever surplus is available, which is great for people interested in producing cheese. I just read a book with 47 pages on the subject, Real Food What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck, a wearisome little tome that drones, is repetitively pontificating, and I don't recommend it, but the point is, for a person interested in trying their hand at making cheese, this is all terribly important. But I can tell you from what I've learned so far, it would be much easier to just stick with pasteurized milk, and that makes me sad. So, if you live in California, Connecticut, or New Mexico where you can buy it in certain stores, please send me 25 gallons for experimental purposes. I'll pay you back.
You know what homogenization means. Do you know how it's done? Processors force milk through super-fine meshes by high pressure breaking apart the fat particles into droplets so tiny that each minute particle is completely surrounded by other milk solids and cannot reform into larger blobs as fat tends to do -- a stable colloid, you see. This has the advantage to the processor of redistributing the unsightly cells that were killed by pasteurization throughout the milk that would ordinarily settle to the bottom. The cream no longer floats to the top. It makes things better for transportation across long distances. With non-homogenized milk, it's possible to skim off the cream from the top and whip it into butter. It's much more difficult to whip homogenized cream, the little bitty particles don't cooperate as easily, and it doesn't taste as good either. Oddly, homogenization has the disadvantage of slightly reducing the good-by period that was extended by pasteurization.
Today was fun. I walked over to the capitol to photograph a scheduled protest but it was extremely windy with high gusts, a terrible day to hold up signs, which is OK, they weren't all that imaginative anyway. Flags would have been better. Starting out crossing Broadway I thought the whole thing might have been a mistake. Leaning hard into the wind I wasn't making much progress, looking a bit like Marcel Marceau in his "closing the window" skit where he depicts the wind blowing him backward into a moonwalk. Then the gust abruptly stopped and I lunged forward. I could barely keep on my feet.
I struck up a conversation with a bag lady, a real bag lady with an actual bag, and she said something so incredibly shocking and rude and outrageous that I suspected a Moby. (A plant pretending to be something they're not in order to bring disrepute to a site owner.) She was speaking English in an halted Eastern European accent using all the wrong prepositions. This caused me to strike up a conversation with the very next gorgeous little sylph-like waif to wander into my conversational grasp. I'm kidding. I didn't need a reason to talk to the girl, I was doing that anyway.
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- Pacific salmon
- salmon soufflé with spinach
- ham and cheese
- ham sandwich on hummus bread
- fusion omelet
- Caesar salad
- chicken broth
- ricotta II
- chicken scallopini
- catfish filet with green salad
- ceviche (second batch)
- curried chicken
- oatmeal with fruit
- blood oranges
- fried mozzarella
- chicken miso
- roasted powder tomato
- whole chicken, Savu smoker bag
- catfish filet with fruit salad
- mozzarella, third try
- omelet, late night snack
- Osaka sushi
- chicken salad
- aglio e olio
- hummus and miso soup
- roasted chicken and salad
- hummus salad
- mozzarella to ricotta
- elk ragú, whole-wheat fusilli
- egg, oatmeal, mixed fruit
- curry banana with rice and vegetables
- cheese crackers
- non-homogenized milk
- fruit salad
- chicken broth, soba
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