Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pinch Me

There is a flaw in most recipes ... and that has to do with measurements ... in particular the term "pinch." A pinch of salt can be but a few grains or as much as a third of a teaspoon ... and recipes don't distinguish between these extremes. Therefore may I propose the following clarification to this term "pinch"?  I suggest that cookbook or cookblog authors use an antecedent as to the number of fingers used ... e.g., "two-finger pinch" (thumb and pinkie) or "2F pinch", "3F pinch", and all the way up to "5F pinch". This way, cooking recipes can keep us from over or under spicing our dishes.

If this protocol were observed then our foods would not be undersalted or overspiced ... and the world would be a much more regimented place. I promise to follow this instruction in future recipes here ... I might even go back a remedy some of my older posts.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Zosia’s White Borscht

Around our home, we have many traditions ... one of which is the Polish one to mark Easter with a bowlful of Zosia's (Sophie's) white borscht sometime in the late morning ... while we are beginning to prepare for our Easter repast. This is a unique and very flavorful dish which evokes the old country. Here is the process of preparation as passed down from Zosia:

2 good quarts of cold water in a large enamel cooking pot
1 Polish Kielbasa (we get ours shipped from the East Village Market in NYC, 212-228-5590)
1 piece of smoked slab bacon (with the bones in ... optional ... from the same supplier)
Simmer these ingredients for 30 minutes ... don't boil!
Remove slab bacon and kielbasa and set aside

¼ cup flour (sour rye flour if available)
½ cup water
1 tbs salt
Mix together and slowly add to the above
Simmer for an additional 30 minutes

Add juice of one lemon
Add ½ cup of dried Polish mushrooms (try the Kielbasa supplier)

4-6 fresh egg yolks
1 pint sour cream
Wisk together and temper with a little of the hot liquid
Slowly add this mixture to the soup wisking all the while

Warning! if you boil this soup, it will break ...

Serve with peeled and chopped up hard boiled Easter eggs, small pieces of Kielbasa and the slab bacon.

Grate fresh peeled horseradish root on top (to taste ... very traditional). Try your local supermarket for the horseradish root ... they often have it around Easter.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Seven-Day Pickles

We made this recipe for sweet pickles a few times when we lived in North Carolina. Their unique taste and crisp texture still lingers with me. Found this recipe again on cooks.com and revised it as per below.

7 pounds cucumbers, washed.
Enough fresh cold water to cover the cucumbers
2 tablespoons salt
1 quart apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons pickling spice
8 cups sugar

Follow this seven-day process:
Day One:
Pack the cucumbers in a huge jar or food safe container. Cover with boiling water.
Cover the container and let it sit overnight.

DayTwo:through Day Four
Drain. Repeat day one each day for three days. Using fresh water every time.

Day Five
Drain. Trim off the ends of the cucumbers, then slice (a mandolin is best) into 1/4″ slices. (Note: we cut them into crayon-thin spears.)
Combine vinegar, salt, sugar and pickling spice. Bring liquid to boil and pour over cucumbers.
Cover and let it sit overnight.

Day Six:
Drain syrup and bring back to a boil
Pour this vinegar mixture over the cucumbers.
Cover and let it sit for 24 hours.

Day Seven:
Repeat Day Six.
Pack the pickles into sterilized jars – pints or quarts, whatever size you want, depending on how many you think you will eat in one sitting. (Not that you can’t keep these in the refrigerator or on the shelf for months.) Make up any shortfall of liquid by adding a little more vinegar ... just until the pickles are covered.
Cap the jars. 

Chill the pickles well before serving.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Caesar Salad ala Janina

One small loaf of crusty bread cut into 1" cubes. Toss with olive oil and toast for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with kosher (or sea) salt.

One large head of Romaine lettuce. (Do not use packaged lettuce ... it often has an aftertaste.) Trimmed of darkest leaf ends, washed well and spun dry. Chop into bite sized pieces.

       1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
       2 tablespoons good mayonnaise
       1 teaspoon anchovy paste (if not using chopped up anchovies)
       1/2 cup good olive oil
       2 dashes of Tabasco sauce
       1 crushed large garlic clove
       1 tablespoon salt

Parmesan cheese:
       Grate a good half cup of fresh good real Parmesan cheese

Dress the lettuce with about half the dressing and cheese (and, if desired, 3 or 4 chopped-up anchovies). Just before serving add more dressing, cheese, and croutons. Toss well.

Bon Appetit!

Mom's Strawberry Sherbert

This dessert is so simple and so good.

One quart good, ripe strawberries, destemmed and picked over
Three egg whites, stiffly beaten
Juice of one lemon
Simple syrup made with two cups sugar, three cups water -- boiled until well dissolved

Mash and combine berries, lemon juice with simple syrup and briefly continue to boil
Air-cool mixture and put in a freezer tray with the beaten egg whites on top
Place in freezer until almost frozen
Remove to a bowl and beat with (electric) mixer until light and frothy
Return to freezer (in tray) until fully frozen

Enjoy with, say, almond cookies.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Strawberry/Pecan Meringue Pie

This is an old, old Pavlova recipe offered up by a forgotten friend, Sharon Davidson, of Stuyvesant Town (NYC) fame.  It has the meringue on the bottom and has been a popular dessert treat in our house for many years.  This recipe was recently requested by a newer friend, Judy.  So here it is (almost verbatim):

In a (copper) bowl beat until stiff three egg whites, gradually adding one cup of sugar and one teaspoon of good vanilla.  Put 24 Ritz crackers, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 cup of pecans into a blender and pulverize.  Fold this mixture into the egg whites.  Pour into 9 inch greased pie pan and spread into a pie-crust form.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F., then cool on a rack.

Core, clean, slice and lightly sugar one pint (or more) of strawberries. Whip 1/2 pint of heavy cream with 2 tablespoons of (demerara) sugar and a splash of framboise (if available, if not, some good rum).  Fold in the strawberries and fill the cooled pie shell.  Place a few saved strawberries on top to decorate.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Afterwards: My wife now tells me you can substitute more pecans for any or all of the Ritz crackers.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Super Shrimp Platter

My son, George, served  a shrimp platter at his daughter's recent Communion party.  They were sublimely perfumed and delicious ... the best I have ever had ... and I've eaten a lot of shrimp in my lifetime.  They were so good that I had to document his recipe.  So here it is:

Take two pounds of uncooked shell-on shrimp (of whatever size your budget will permit ... and, if you can find them, never frozen ... but, if frozen, defrost them first in the refrigerator overnight) and de-shell/de-vein them ... leaving the tail shells on if you wish.

Bring to a boil a copious amount of well-salted water.  Add a few nice bay leaves, a tablespoon of mustard seeds, and a tablespoon of peppercorns.  Then add the cleaned (and briefly rinsed) shrimp.  Bring the water back to a boil and boil briefly (about two minutes) making sure all the shrimp have turned pink.  Drain out all the water and place the shrimp in a large freezer bag with lots of ice (crushed, if possible).  Put this in the refrigerator while you make the cocktail sauce.

To make the cocktail sauce:  In a small bowl place 1/2 cup of Heinz ketchup, a tablespoon of good-quality prepared horseradish, a few squirts of Worcester sauce, the juice of half a lemon, and the zest from this same half lemon (this ingredient is important).

Serve the cold shrimp nestled on lots of cracked ice on a large platter (or platters) with the cocktail sauce centered thereon.  Add a garnish of watercress or finely-chopped iceberg lettuce if you are of a mind.  Enjoy with some ice-cold beer (and invite me).