Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stomp The Savoy

When you tell a child that they can't have something, they inevitably want it even more. Years ago, as my mom tried the cabbage soup diet, I was told that I was not allowed to have any. Since then, I have loved cabbage. My cabbage of choice is savoy - there must be something about those wrinkles that I love. Today, I made my own cabbage soup, with savoy cabbage and potatoes.

Creamy Savoy Cabbage Soup
1 small onion
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp bacon fat
1 carrot, sliced
150 g potatoes, cut into small cubes
1 small head of savoy cabbage, chopped
1 L chicken stock
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 c milk
bacon bits

In a large saucepan over medium heat, sautee garlic and onions in bacon fat. When the onions are translucent, add potatoes and carrots. After potatoes are shiny with bacon fat, add cabbage. Stir and wait until cabbage shrinks. Add chicken stock. Cover and allow to cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, carefully puree the soup. In a small jar, mix the flour and milk so there are no lumps. Slowly add the milk to the soup. Allow to simmer for 5 further minutes. Garnish with bacon bits.

Frankly, I think I could have done without the bacon bits. But then it would have been too much like the forbidden soup of the past. And although I'm daring, I'm not about to break the rule my mom has set.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Plantain Pancakes

Living so far away from home, I sometimes forget and idealize certain things. Recently, I found some plantains in the store & excitedly called my mom to ask what I should do with them. "Why on earth did you buy plantains?" was the reply. Apparently my mom was not the link to plantain pleasure. I think it was a friend's mom or grandmother. Someone from either western Africa or India. Maybe even South East Asia. The benefit of growing up in a multicultural city was going to friend's houses for food.

Recently, I bought some more plantains, convinced I'd find a use for them. I ran into a friend on the way home from grocery shopping and we compared. I had riper plantains than she did but she had something I didn't: a plan. Pisang Goreng - fried plantain in Indonesia and Singapore. She just slices her ripe plantains, dips them in batter & fries them and has them as a snack with tea. I'm not a big fan of dipping things into batter, so I just made pancakes with a coconut sauce.

Plantain Pancakes
(Pisang Goreng)
2 ripe plantains (skins should be black)
1/4 cup flour
pinch salt
oil to fry

Peel plantains, mash with a potato masher. Add flour to create a batter-like consistency.
Drop tablespoons into hot oil. Fry until there is a slight caramel-crust. Turn once. Drain on paper towels.

Coconut Sauce
1/4 c grated cocnut
3 Tbsp coconut milk
1 small red chili, chopped
1/4 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds

In a small bowl, add coconut, coconut milk and chili. Allow the coconut to absorb the liquid. Roast seeds over medium heat until the mustard seeds pop. Add seeds to coconut. Serve with plantain pancakes.

I was happy with the result and will be making this again. This time, when I find more plantains in the supermarket, I'll be calling my friend over for a snack. Then I'll tell my mom what to do the next time she sees plantains.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tete De Moine - More Monk's Head Cheese

The local Brunch place has an amazing buffet - including Tete De Moine cheese. Because I had recently posted about this cheese variety, I thought it proper to post a photo of what this cheese looks like before it is shaved into little florets.

Because I am not an expert, my floret is a little thick. Still - it was some pretty good cheese.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Daring Kitchen - Pho Ga

This month, the Daring Kitchen finally paid off for me. After the dishes I didn't have time for & the dishes that I thought were dumb, I finally hit the jackpot with the dish-that-I-never-thought-I-could-make-at-home. The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook. The dish of the month was Pho Ga -Vietnamese chicken soup.

The first time I had Pho was when I was still in high school and the first Vietnamese restaurant opened in my hometown. Whenever I went in, it seemed as though I was the only person who was not Vietnamese and did not know what to order. A key lesson I've learned through these times is: if everyone around you is ordering the same dish, follow them. This lead me to Pho Bo. Since then, many Pho restaurants opened (and closed) in my hometown, sadly including the Happy Cow restaurant - the soup place with the picture of a laughing cow on the sign.

Since my school days, Pho has become somewhat vogue. I can understand this. In fact, I can even understand Anthony Bourdain savouring the moment of expectation:

Here in Europe, a good bowl of Pho is hard to find. Maybe I'd have better luck in Paris, but until now - no go. All the more reason to scream with delight as Jaden gave her Pho recipe, from her new book. I pretty much followed this recipe (as well as I can follow any recipe) but added the bones from a leftover roasted chicken to the stock.

Jaden has 2 versions of this recipe. 1 is long and involves making your own stock. The other is shorter & can be found in her new cookbook. I followed the long one, mainly because I had some chicken bones in my freezer that I was saving for a soup anyway.

Complete with the garnishes, the workaholic & I slurped up our soup & only wished that the chilis in Germany were hotter. I forgot the lime until my bowl was almost empty but it didn't bother me too much - I was salivating like Anthony Bourdain and looking forward to leftovers.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Savouring Sentimentality

Last night, while waiting for the last bit of liquid to cook off of my wild rice, I was informed that Condé Nast will be closing Gourmet magazine. An interesting solution to a financial problem. Of course, on a superficial level, ceasing to publish a magazine that has a high budget and a low readership seems like a sensible move. However, Gourmet has a circulation of 980,000. Granted that this economy is difficult, it is a phase that will eventually pass. Gourmet magazine has been in circulation since 1941, and like many Condé Nast publications (think Vogue, GQ), does not sell the practical but the ideal and aspirations.

By closing Gourmet, Condé Nast is sending the signal that there are no more culinary aspirations. There are no more smart, educated analyses on food. The nationwide voice of food politics is reduced at a time when more people are looking to the White House for direction on what to put on their plates. The Michelin stars are figuratively burning out of the media sky and no longer giving home cooks something to strive for. A meal in 30 minutes is not an art. A meal to savour for 3 hours, that is an art.

Condé Nast has decided to keep Bon Appetit magazine, another fine culinary periodical that is more focused on the practical hands-on approach. The pages of Bon Appetit are more down to earth, presumably the reason why an external consulting company decided to keep the brand. Furthermore, Bon Appetit has a higher readership, most likely because it is less intimidating. Recipes like "Around the World in 80 Hot Dogs" are not daunting. Reviews of the Maine lobster festival from author David Foster Wallace are.

I thought of all the reasons why my throat had a lump in it last night and why I let the rice burn. I am not directly involved in Gourmet magazine - I can not afford an overseas subscription. Nonetheless, I was greatly saddened, not only by the magazine but also by the burnt dinner. But why?

These are undoubtedly hard times for all economies, particularly for print media. Therefore, it is understandable that Condé Nast needs to reduce its costs. However, without the tradition and lore of Gourmet, Condé Nast is losing its art and keeping its commerce. And that, in any economy, is the saddest aspect of all.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Chevre Pancakes

In the last few years, dairy farmers in Germany have been complaining about the low price of milk. When milk costs €0.29 / L, it is very hard to make a profit, or even make ends meet (note: discount bottled water costs €0.35). A consumer who is aware of this problem can respond in a variety of ways. You can ignore the problem & continue to hope that your daily staple will not cost you more. You can choose to pay more for milk and milk products but the question remains: how much of that money really goes to the farmer & how much is absorbed by the milk company. You can buy local milk and ensure the farmers in your area see the money that you are willing to pay. I have gone a different route - I have stopped buying milk and milk products. I'm not sure that this is the answer, certainly it isn't for many German households, but I switched to goat milk for a few reasons.

Goat and sheep milk can normally be consumed by people who are lactose intolerant. Goat and sheep milk are not as commercial as cow milk, and I believe are thus less prone to the industrialized farming that results in high hormone and antibiotic use in cows. I could be wrong here, but because goats produce a fraction of the milk that cows do, they can not be used on such a large scale, and therefore, should not be as prone to disease as animals that are living in cramped quarters. For me, the most important reason to switch to goat milk was quite simply, the workaholic likes it better. I found some goat milk in the supermarket, imported from France, and had some goat yogurt in the fridge. Together, they are the perfect consistency for buttermilk - all without the bad conscience.

Goatmilk Pancakes
1 c flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 pinch salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
125 g goat yogurt
goat milk (about a 1/2 c)
1 egg
2 Tbsp oil

Mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda & baking powder in a medium sized bowl.
Place yogurt in a measuring cup. Add enough milk so you have 3/4 c liquid. Mix the thick mass until it is free of lumps.
In a small bowl, add the egg, oil and goat milk. Stir until smooth.
Slowly add the egg/milk mixture to the flour mixture. Stir a few times, the batter should still be lumpy.
Cook pancakes on a grill at medium heat until bubbles form. Then flip the pancakes. Keep them warm in a cool oven (50°), covered in foil until all pancakes are done. Serve with warm maple syrup.

I'm not sure if I'm really doing my part to help the farmers. Maybe it's time for government support, like in France. All I really know is that the pancakes were really sweet and went well with bacon. But what doesn't go well with bacon?
Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin