Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monk's Head Cheese

As a fan of any food that requires its own accessory to serve it properly, I must report on Tete de Moine - the cheese that literaly translates to "Monk's Head". It is a Swiss cheese that is purchased in cylindrical blocks that apparently remind the more creative cheese conniseurs of the shaved head of a monk. Or maybe it's the way that the cheese is shaved off of the block, reminding the less creative of shaving the head of a monk.

In order to properly serve the Tete de Moine, it must be shaved into airy thin strips on a device known as a Girolle. The cylinder is placed in the middle of the girolle & the scraper along the axle of the device enables you to shave off thin pieces. Ideally, in the hands of a gifted girolle user (which means "in the hands of someone other than myself"), the tool can be used to create flowers of cheese.

Bearing a striking resemblance to carnations, the edible flowers are a delight, if not an effort. Thankfully, the woman behind the cheese counter knew what to do, created these lovely "fleurs" and packed them in a plastic container for me. Certainly a more agreeable snack than monastery lunchmeat.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Feed Me Meat, Please!

This vegan thing is getting out of hand. Even when I'm making lunch for just myself with an assortment of easy forms of nourishment such as pate and cheese and baguette at hand, I opt for cold soba noodles with kale and tofu. I said No to Manchego. I said No to Gouda with cumin. I said No to Terrine de Campagne. I think I'm coming down with something, and I seriously hope it's not a case of veganism.

I made these earlier this week when I was working from home. I then proceeded to MSN my colleague to tell him that my lunch was better than what he just had in the cafeteria. Yes, I'm popular at work. Somehow I was thinking of this, my workday lunch, on a Sunday afternoon. I won't analyse it too much, but I will share the recipe with you.

Soba with Kale and Tofu for 1
90 g soba noodles
50 g tofu, cut into small cubes
1/3 c blanched kale (frozen)
1/2 Tbsp peanut of sunflower oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1 small red chili, chopped
chili flakes (optional)
fish sauce (optional)
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/2 very small red onion, sliced finely or 1 green onion, chopped

Bring a small saucepan with water to a boil. While water is boiling, warm oil in a pan to saute tofu.
In a small bowl, add all ingredients except cilantro and onion. Mix. Kale will sill be frozen.
After noodles have cooked al dente, drain them and toss in the bowl with sauce. The warm noodles and the frozen kale will counteract one another, stopping the cooking of the soba and thawing the kale.
When tofu has an adequate crust, remove from heat & drain. Add to noodles & toss.
Garnish with onions and cilantro.

As I type this, I'm watching a Wallonian family cook eel on TV. Maybe this will inspire me to eat an animal again. This vegan thing is scaring me. Even if it is tasty.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How to Take a Sandwich Home

Last month, I was in Arlington, Virginia to meet a friend for brunch. Good brunch makes me happy, seeing a friend who I haven't seen in years makes me happier. I was lucky enough to be able to combine the 2.

We went to a nearby restaurant, Harry's Tap Room. My friend has a deep interest in food and she is very concentrated on the aspects of sustainability, local produce, subsidies and the economy of farming. She took me to a restaurant that has not only delicious food, but the food is also local and hormone free, if not organic. These are all ideas that I think are worth supporting, but I still have the notion that these foods are pricey and full of extra-fiber. Not the case at Harry's. The prices are good and neither the food nor interior of the restaurant suggest that anything is green about the place.

Aware of the fact that I am not a professional cook & do not live anywhere near Maryland, I was delighted when I recently saw frozen Chesapeake Bay crabcakes in the supermarket. I got some English Muffins, made a Hollandaise sauce & poached some eggs. All in all, a really good start for breakfast. Had I made some hashbrowns & a fruit salad, it would have been a really good brunch.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More Dosas

I went to the Indian place around the corner this weekend for the masala dosa. Every Saturday, they have dosas, ildy, vada, and sambar. In short, they have a South Indian breakfast.

Dosas are like large crisp crepes, made out of lentils. This one was filled with spicy potatoes & had chopped red chili rubbed on the inside. A vada is a fried lentil mixture. Normally, I like the ones shaped like donuts but these were masal vada. They looked like falafels. Not what I was looking for but they made my brunch buddy happy. Ildy are steamed cakes of rice and lentils, served with a sambar, a lentil like soup/sauce. Both dishes came with coconut chutney.

You might be noticing a large amount of lentils in this meal. I'm still not sure if this vegan thing is working well for me. I see a large piece of beef in my near future.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Out Before I'm Even In

After having only recently joined The Daring Kitchen, I think it's time for me to quit. The rules are simple: you make a prescribed dish once a month, following the recipe given. This should have been my indicator that this club is not for me. Instead, I was intrigued by the idea of belonging to a group of cooks around the world, united by one taste for one month.

I couldn't participate in August due to my vacation plans and furthermore, I didn't find the recipe all that alluring - even if it's from the chef of El Bulli. The month before that, I refused to participate because the key ingredient was skate. After having seen rays on a dive, I refuse to promote the fishing of these beautiful creatures. I'm also opposed to cod, the suggested substitute. So here I am, in September, preparing for the challenge.

Dosas. In theory, fantastic. I consulted with my Indian Friend J (IFJ), and he gave me some ideas. Then I read the recipe. The recipe that I have to follow. It calls for spelt. This is where I bow out & say "No, thank you". I was fine with the vegan meal. I was fine with preparing the 3 components of dosa, filling, & sauce. But somehow, following a recipe for Indian food taken from a trendy restaurant in Toronto seemed wrong. Don't get me wrong - Fresh has good food and some amazing lemonade. Although I think their noodle bowls are great, I just don't know how inspired I am to make them at home.

IFJ says that there's a place down the street that has super-crispy dosas on Saturdays. In the meantime, I made my own. The dosas are out of chickpea flour, the filling is a potato marsala (I cheated & used my Grandmother's favourite curry mix), and the chutney, again, I cheated & used grated coconut. The result: interesting, and certainly a healthy basis for the steaks I had later that night. I won't be repeating the recipe but I certainly have been inspired by it. I will be going to the Indian place down the street tomorrow for good dosas.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Snack in a Skillet

After a mamoth shopping trip, I came home to a bizarre sensation of being famished & feeling that I need to use my fresh goodies right away. A few months ago, I got myself a copy of Gourmet magazine in the Toronto airport & carefully examined every page during the 8 hour flight back to Germany. While I wasn't taken by many of the recipes, the corn and tomato scramble somehow stuck in my mind. I didn't really read the recipe, it was more of the concept of tomatoes and corn that occupied a place in my subconscience. Instead of worrying about the fact that I clearly think about food too much, I got out the magazine, scaled everything down to feed 2 people and made myself a snack.

Corn & Tomato Scramble
(adapted from Gourmet Magazine)
1/2 Tbsp butter
2 green onions
1 ear of corn
1 large tomato (300g)
1/2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt & pepper.

Slice both green & white parts of green onions, keep 2 separate. In a skillet, warm butter over medium heat. Cut corn off of ears. Add white parts of onion to butter, saute & add corn, cooking until tender - 6 minutes.
In the meantime, chop and seed tomato. Marinate in vinegar & olive oil and top with the green parts of the onions.
When corn in cook, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Add to tomatoes, salt & pepper to taste & serve.

I was thrilled to have actually followed a recipe that worked. I was happy until I realized that I was still hungry and there was another 2 hours to wait until dinner time. Next time, I'll make the portion for 8 people.

Monday Morning Vitamins

Somehow, I bought too many groceries this weekend. It happens from time to time. Normally, I have no idea when I'm going to cook and eat all of this stuff. This time, I was at a loss as to where to put it all. Most of the stuff was frozen but an unpleasant by-product of work stress last week was the purchase of an obscence amount of ice cream, which resulted in a lack of freezer space. There were things that had to go. The bananas I was saving for banana bread: gone. The bag of berries that I am yet to turn into smoothies: your time has come.

Banana Berry Boost
1 frozen banana
1/3 c mixed frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries, currants, strawberries)
1/2 c orange juice
3 Tbsp mint
2" piece of ginger, peeled
1/3 c cooled white or green tea

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend. Pour into glasses, garnish with any extra mint you may have.

I have a funny feeling I'll be drinking these for the next few days, which isn't all that bad. It keeps me away from the ice cream.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Apple Farm

When I was home last month, I had the chance to stop by the apple farm. I had this crazy idea that they might sell non-pasturized apple cider there, and I somehow craved the tangy bite that disappears with high temperatures. Of course, this is evidence that I've been away from home too long. You can't sell non-pasteurized anything anymore it seems. But they still had some fine apples.

The apple farm just outside of town has been family run since 1911. What started out as a small stand at the side of the road has turned into a thriving bakery attracting customers from throughout the region. I remember the apple farm being the only thing in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly, the nowhere has disappeared and the parking lot in the front is full.

One of the things I miss most about living in Southern Ontario is the vegetables. It seems like you can get local anything in abundance. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw crate upon crate of fresh, sweet corn. In Germany, corn is still largely regarded as animal fodder, and when it is sold in the stores, it is often without the husk, in packs of 2 or 3, wrapped in plastic.

The apples weren't quite ready yet, but they did have a cooling room with a few 5 lb bags of fruit. What drew me into the store, however, was the smell of freshly baked apple products. Inside, I could see they were making apple cider donuts. I asked for the fresh ones, the ones that weren't allowed to cool for 10 minutes, coated in cinnamon sugar. As soon as I paid, I opened the box, and allowed that warm, tangy goodness to dissolve on my tongue. Part of me wanted more but part of me knew that my body would eventually rebel against being stuffed with sugar and fat.

Part of me wants to be around during the harvest season to have fresh apple pies, and maybe steal some cider before it gets pasturized. I already went snooping around the facilities & made a few friends there. Until I spend another fall back home, I'll have to make do with the preservative free cider, sparkling cider and cider donuts. I can manage with that.

If you're ever in the area:

Bennet's Apple Farm
944 Garner Road East, Ancaster, Ontario.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Vegans Don't Drink Wine

The not-so-secret life of the workaholic is: he works. We had agreed to go grocery shopping today to buy meat and fish but something came up. I made it to the market on my own this Saturday, and while I am mobile on my own, shopping's way more fun with him. So I'm at home with frozen shrimp and ground beef and a whole lot of fresh veggies. I made a vegan dinner for the second night running, and part of me believes that this is somehow a good thing. Healthy. Environmentaly responsible. Promoting my reclusive nature. All bonuses.

Tonight was just soba noodles with broccoli & tofu in a miso glaze. Soba noodles were cooked, rinsed, drained & sprinkled with sesame oil. Broccoli was cut, steamed covered in a sauce of soy, ginger, garlic, chilli & a bit of starch to solidify. Tofu was sliced & coated in a mixture of miso, wine, sugar, chilli. Then it was broiled. This vegan thing is easy. And it doesn't taste that bad. The problem is: wine is made from yeast & is therefore not vegan. The workaholic vetoed this vegan thing immediately. But being a yeasto-vegetarian - that's just fine.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Eggplant for the Eggplant Hater

The worst part of dating has to be the moment when you realize that your new beau is not as perfect as you thought he was. He is, in fact, human. He has wonderful characteristics, certainly, but he also has flaws. For a lover of eggplant, it is hard to believe - to honestly internalize - that my partner won't touch the stuff.

This is the premise of a long, long quest to have Workaholic enjoy an aubergine. Grilled: no. Caponata: no. Anything baked: no. Fried: no, thanks. Curries: it's a great sauce. The two dishes he will eat are: baba ganoush & my mom's eggplant choka. He claims that the consistency is the problem. Both baba ganoush & eggplant choka are kinda squishy. There's got to be something else. It dawned on me: eggplants are bitter. In spite of salting & draining my eggplant, they are bitter - unless I draw out the bitterness after roasting by squeezing out the water. My local farm has sicilian eggplants - rounder, brighter, cuter than the ubiquitous Black Beauty variety. Salting these is the key.

Eggplant for the Eggplant Hater

2 sicilian eggplant
panko (ca. 3/4 cup)
cooking spray, or olive oil to brush on
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp minced ginger
2 Tbsp sodium reduced soy sauce
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1/4 c water
1 tsp sesame oil
chopped cilantro to garnish (optional)

Slice eggplant into rounds, sprinkle with salt. Allow to sit for ca. 20 minutes, then turn & repeat the process. Afterwards, rinse to remove salt & extracted liquid.

Spray rounds with cooking oil, or brush on olive oil. Coat generously in panko. Broil in oven for 10 minutes, or until brown, turning once.

In the meantime, in a small saucepan, warm garlic & ginger. Add soy, oyster sauce & water. Allow to reduce until it is a thick syrup. Add sesame oil.

Remove eggplant from oven. Serve with sauce & chopped cilantro as garnish.

As a huge fan of eggplant, I always thought it would be perfect to share this - like everything else in life - with my partner. Then I turned back to the stove to finish off the rest of dinner & found my eggplant gone. I thought it was safe with the eggplant hater. I guess there's benefits to keeping things to yourself, after all.
Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin