Potato cake made from held over cheese mashed potatoes made earlier. Sauce from canned tomato sauce purchased under the mistaken impression they were stewed tomatoes. Enhanced with sweated diced onion and crushed garlic with a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, and a little chiffonade basil.
Italian style filled rice croquettes in the shape of little oranges. Apparently Italian oranges are shaped like pears. They can be filled with pretty much anything. These are filled with a chicken and mushroom mixture.
Boy, I sure wish I had watched a few of those YouTube videos before doing this. The Italian video looked like they were using processed rice. It looked like masa. Come to think of it, masa would probably be pretty darn good too. The Epicurious video I watched in English used egg and and another liquid in the rice mixture. Theirs was stuffed with chunks of mozzarella. They called them aranchini telephono because when you take a bite and withdraw the piece a string of mozzarella stretches like a telephone chord (as if telephones had cords). The recipe I read on Al Dente deep-fried them one at a time then baked them all to bring up the internal temperature. Giada De Laurentis mixed some of the bread crumbs in with the rice mixture. There appears to be a broad range of variance for these things, but arancini elitists agree they're seldom as good outside of Italy.
My breadcrumbs were the processed crusts from sourdough loaves that were trimmed previously for hors d'oeuvres. They were frozen while fresh so not dry, and there was no egg or bread crumbs in my rice mixture which would have made forming the balls a lot easier. Mine made a HUGE MESS in my kitchen which probably wasn't necessary. I would not bother with these for a large party, and I'd be careful with a small party. I can see how a single arancini could satisfy an appetite, and then tragically there would be no room for dessert. I forgot to add cheese so I grated some at serving. I served with jarred sun-dried tomato and olive bruschetta sauce.
This filling was made from what I had on hand and wanted to clear out. Next time of course it will be different.
* button mushrooms (last chance to use remnants)
* dried mushrooms (some kind of Japanese things)
* fresh garlic
* zucchini (one grocery store another balcony, both on their last leg)
* diced chicken breast
* Italian seasoning (dry)
* canned chicken broth
* flour and corn meal (because it was there and I wanted to use it)
The rice was leftover brown rice in the fridge for a week, and freshly cooked white rice with saffron and honey.
These were deep fried longer than they should have been then baked to even out the temperature.
OK Fine, so I'm obsessed. The purpose of this experiment is to see if the mill would work for popcorn and to see if popcorn could be used for polenta.
I guess I'm not over my polenta phase, although I am nearly out of milled corn. The thing is, what made the shrimp and scallops be so incredible can be done with chicken or any other protein too.
A chicken breast was thawed and cubed. A half cup of flour in a bowl along with a heavy dose of garlic powder, cayenne powder, Madrass curry, and chile flakes.
I made the chile flakes myself by breaking open a whole bag of arbol (tree) chiles and real dried chipotle chile, emptied out the seeds, ground in a coffee mill to desired flake size, and mixed together. That'll be the house blend of chile flakes for about six months of heavy use. It replaces straight up habanero flakes, and it's actually quite good.
The chicken pieces were lightly dusted then briefly sautéed in canola and butter, but only to the point of browning, no more, then set aside. At that point, the pan had become something of a useful mess, filled with bits of burned and brown flour. Diced onions and sliced mushrooms followed in the same uncleaned pan picking up the bits as they released their liquid. More butter was added followed with more of the seasoned flour that was used to dust the chicken, and all that continued to brown until the mushrooms and the flour was cooked through as a rough crumbly roux and the raw flour taste was gone. Then emptied a remnant bottle of white wine to deglaze the pan and initiate the sauce and finished with more chicken broth to desired viscosity. Tested for flavor, mostly salt/pepper. Added the cooked chicken sitting in reserve to the onion/mushroom gravy mixture. Then dumped the pile of Romano into the warmed and finished polenta. Nicked a branch of balcony basil.
|The best vinaigrette on Earth. Impress your guests by doing this right in front of them. |
1) In a large wooden bowl, pour a few tablespoons of high quality olive oil. (Imagine the bowl filled with sufficient lettuce for all the guests, then pour in enough oil to coat that amount plus a little more to adhere to the bowl.)
2) Pour in a tablespoon or so of mild vinegar such as rice or Champaign. Again imagine it covering an imaginary pile of lettuce. The idea is to barely coat the lettuce, not drown it. These two ingredients alone comprise a simple dressing.
3) Add about 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard, which acts as an emulsifier and also has vinegar.
4) Salt and pepper sufficient for your imagined pile of lettuce. You can stop here, but why not keep going and make the mixture more complex?
5) Rasp in a clove of fresh garlic.
6) Rasp in an equal portion of fresh ginger.
7) Sweeten with honey or a good quality fruit or berry preserve. Two teaspoons should do. Whisk it all together.
If you're uncertain, taste it and adjust. If a guest is present, allow them to taste. Observe their face for traces of grimace of approving smile. If you suspect you've made too much then drain a portion into a separate bowl. The worst thing you can do is overdress the salad.
Add all the vegetable and protein ingredients and mix until lightly coated. Place onto salad plates so that each plate contains roughly equal portions of the key ingredients. There'll be no picking through the bowl for favored pieces at the table. Doll it up a little bit, give it a little elevation. Allow a few special ingredients to show.
All vinaigrette recipes you read begin with diced shallot, but frankly, adorable as they are -- among the mildest of the allium family, they're a bit of a pain to keep around. If you happen to have one, fine, add it, but it's not necessary, you've already got the garlic and that would be like double dosing.
For a party, I just present my guests with fixed salads. I don't mess around with bottled dressings, and I don't give my guests a choice. BANG! There it is, either eat it or don't. If I've ever hosted fussy eaters who've picked
through their salads, I haven't noticed. I have noticed, though, people scarfing them and going back to the bowl and cleaning out the remainder. Also, occasionally, when guests are present you'll have one or two say something like, "Oh, don't put any of ____ in mine. That's b.s., that is, accomocate that one or two if it's convenient and if you care to make them feel special, otherwise just continue along with your plan. Another way to work around that potential problem is to place all the ingredients onto dressed plate in separate piles and let the guests mix it themselves without the objectionable ingredient. I'm becoming more sensitive to vegetarians. In those cases, do leave out the meat or cheese or egg or whatever. Sometimes it hurts their precious little tummies, and you wouldn't want that.
Sourdough starter, Carl's 1847 Oregon Trail. Anything you would read on sourdough starter maintenance will tell you to feed your refrigerated starter at least once every few weeks to keep it active. I do not do that. I have too many starters and I bake bread too infrequently to keep that kind of schedule. If you think about it, though, what difference is there between dried yeast in complete suspended animation and starter kept in retarded activity in cold storage? Reviving a starter from slowed animation in cold storage can be done at room temperature, but reviving from complete suspended animation requires a little heat.
This starter appeared dead as a few tablespoons of window putty. I added an equal amount of fresh water by weight and enough fresh flour to get a loose slurry, then set the jar on the stove top with the oven on low, careful not to let the heat surrounding the jar exceed 100°F. This was about 10:00 PM. The next morning the slurry showed signs of activity but not much. Doubled the amount of water by weight again, and again added enough fresh flour to create a loose slurry, about 1/2 Cup total volume. Within a few hours the slurry foamed to the top of the quart size Mason jar where it's pictured above. That's how powerful Carl's starter is.
But this is only the yeast portion of the culture springing into reactivation while the bacterial portion of the culture lags behind. Bread made at this point would have almost none of the sourdough characteristics that make it worthwhile. For that, we must allow the sponge to ferment. The extent of fermentation will determine the degree of sourness of the bread.
Feuilletage expliquée en photos. Puff pastry the quick way. Do this. You'll blow away your guests and there will be no point in ever buying another packet of commercial puff again. There simply is no comparison between real butter and whatever that grease is that industry uses. It's easy as eating pie, and it's fun. Plus you get to make a giant mess.
These were rubbed with olive oil. They might also be sprayed which would be even easier.
Conclusion: They're tougher. The mouth-feel is different, but not altogether bad. They taste equally great. It's a lot easier, they're entirely passable, but deep-frying is still better. So it gets down to a trade off between convenience and excellence. I think I'll stick with frying in batches. Besides, it's dramatic, a little bit dangerous and it's fun.
Update: The gougères for the party were made with much better cheese than the trial pictured above, with diced scallion and a good deal of cayenne. They were utterly delicious and a bit addictive. However, they were inexpertly made. The thing is, several exceedingly inexperienced helpers appeared to assist with the preparation for the fundraiser. In this case, I overestimated their cooking-fu and I really should have paid closer attention to what they were doing. The problem was, there simply was not enough room in the kitchen for everybody to fit and I was tired of wedging in just to position my body where I needed to be placed for side-by-side direction so I relied on verbal instruction. That wasn't good enough. As it turned out the dough was slightly too loose which I discovered to late to fix so the gougères didn't puff into balls and they baked too flat, although they did puff hollow. A mere few tablespoons additional flour would have fixed the dough sufficiently but that would have had to be done at the stove top before the egg and cheese was added. Also, the second assistant who was out of sight did not spoon them onto a sprayed surface so they tended to stick to the foil when baked. There were so many we used up all the oven trays and relied on double foil as ersatz baking trays. A simple spray would have prevented that. These two simple oversights, loose dough and unsprayed surface caused the gougères to be misshapen and some torn from the foil. (One assistant asked sincerely if we could spray them after they were baked. Ha ha ha) Still, they were utterly delicious and that didn't prevent them from being devoured.
- ► 2016 (358)
- ► 2015 (260)
- ► 2014 (332)
- ► 2013 (440)
- ► 2012 (441)
- ► 2011 (380)
- ► 2010 (315)
- potato cake
- mashed potatoes
- scallops and eggs
- milled popcorn
- Salmon fillets
- chicken and mushrooms with polenta
- tossed salad with raspberry vinaigrette
- sourdough bread
- feuilletage rapide
- Experimental jalapeño poppers
- Experimental gougères
- handmade pasta
- spring rolls, American style.
- balcony pepper, basil
- rice and beans
- birthday cake
- ▼ September (18)
- ► 2008 (257)