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Another recipe, naturally. My corner store has been selling high-quality artichokes for $1 each, and slightly imperfect ones for fifty cents. So I started playing around with roasting/braising/gratineeing them. Tonight was simple, with thyme from the garden and lemons from the corner store. Recipe after the cut )
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So I got a deal on a couple pounds of oxtails. I braised them; It turned out very nicely. Recipe behind the cut )
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We all need something after reading through the voter guide, right? So I faked this up:

1 scanty mug-full of milk (about a cup)
1 big glop of tasty honey (a tablespoon? two?)
1 generous pinch of saffron

Put the above into a small saucepan, crumbling the saffron between your fingers and sprinkling it onto the milk. Warm, stirring, until the milk is nearly boiling and has turned a pale yellow.

Into the mug, put:
1 oz. Mt. Gay Eclipse rum.
Grate a light dusting of nutmeg over the rum in the mug.

Pour the hot saffron milk into the mug. Grab the mug. Inhale the complex aroma and sip slowly, thinking about autumn.
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So we're on our way back from YAPC in Columbus, OH -- storms here and clouds at SFO permitting. It's been a long, tiring, but good week or so. Columbus appears to be the fried food capital of at least the Midwest -- we've had fried avocado, fried pretzels, fried hoagie sandwiches (tempura), fried mushrooms, donuts (fried), sweet potato fries, and beer. Not fried, just beer. More later -- they're finally loading the plane.
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Our sour-cherry-season adventure, in which we go to surprising lengths for the sake of cherry pie and cherry ice cream.
Details after the cut )
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With any luck, local sour cherries will be (very briefly) available in about 2 weeks.  In the (unlikely) event that I can get more than I need for cherry pies and cherries preserved in Maraschino and cherry jam, does anyone else need some?

Also, I've found only one place in the region that grows and sells sour cherries -- does anyone have a supplier that's closer than 100 miles from San Francisco?
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So our place has a pear tree in the back yard -- elderly, kind of scraggly-looking, with snagged branches and some rotten limbs. But it puts out a lot of Bartlett (or Bartlett-like) pears. A whole lot. I gathered up yesterday's collection of windfalls, composted the bad ones, and had ten pounds or so of ripe-and-won't-keep pears. So: Pear butter. By analogy to apple butter, this is a highly-reduced pearsauce (like applesauce) highly spiced with clove and cinnamon, and sweetened. You can can or freeze it, and the pectin in the pears should help it to set.

First: wash the pears. Rinse the pears well. Then cut the stems off and cut them into eighths. Put 'em into a pot with an inch of water at the bottom. I added a teaspoon of citric acid (sour salt in the kosher section of the grocery) to keep the browning down and raise the acidity of the product. This time, I didn't core or peel the pears -- recipes vary, and you don't need to do it for apples.

Simmer the whole thing for about an hour until the chunks are very soft. Put 'em through a food mill with the finest plate fitted. My food mill didn't have a fine enough plate, so some seeds got through. I decided to keep an eye on it and strain the final product through a sieve.

Anyway, a cup of white and a cup of brown sugar, spices as per Marion Cunningham in the Fannie Farmer Cookbook's recent editions, and put the whole thing in a Crock-pot with the lid propped open. Cook about 18 hours, stirring every once in a while, and you have a thick, rich brown stuff. Which is kind of crunchy due to inadequate straining.

So I worked it through a fine-mesh sieve with a rubber spatula. Tedious and tiring, but the final product is improved. If I were more hard-core, I'd probably work it through a second time -- but there's a limit to what I'll do for art.

Yield: A little over 3 pints. A little too heavy on the cloves, but not bad. Next time, I might try using ginger instead of the cloves-cinnamon-allspice mix, which pretty much overwhelms the pear flavor. It might also be better to core and peel the fruit -- but this batch wouldn't have gotten made if I'd had to peel and core 50 pears to start.

Beer Notes

Mar. 5th, 2008 09:35 pm
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Yep, it's a random assortment of posts today, as I avoid doing what I should. So: beer reviews.
capsule reviews after the cut, vodka drinkers... )
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So I've settled (finally) the Thanksgiving menu for this year, with the exception that there's a potato option. I'd _like_ to have Pommes Anna, but I'll need a second 8-inch skillet, since we're having 8 to dine.

Yes, I'm nervous -- [livejournal.com profile] ocelotn's family are coming, and I'd be hard-pressed to lay my mitts on a more sophisticated set of diners. I'm a bit better organized this year, but still...
<the menu and so on> )
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So I had some "lamb steaks" all ready for dinner last night. I cut into one of them and -- tough as a rubber ball.

Two problems, then -- what's for dinner, and how do I salvage the lamb? Problem one was solved by saucing some pasta.

Problem two was more interesting. I pulled out the Crock Pot. A large can of tomatoes, a quarter-cup each of soy sauce and sherry, some sliced ginger and garlic, and a quarter-cup of five-spice powder went in and got mixed together. The failed steaks went in as well, and braised overnight in the Crock Pot. That would be (way) too long if I wanted to serve them as meat, but I wanted something sort of like a classic ragu: simmered until the meat and tomatoes merge together to become the sauce.

In the morning, I gave it a stir, added a bit of water, and there was dinner, given some noodles to ladle it over. In the end, three tablespoons of five-spice would have been better, but it was still pretty good. Yes, I'd add some leeks or onions if I had them on hand. But easy? You bet. And it stretches the meat a really long way, too. You could also do this with pork or beef ribs, or some pot-roast, or whatever's available.
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I really thought I'd posted this earlier, but better late than never. Best of all with fresh corn.

Campanelli for Summer:
(serves 2 amply as a full meal. Say 3 or 4 with a salad and dessert.)
4 ears corn, creamed
4 oz. heavy cream
6-8 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped up
1/2 lb. pasta, campanelli preferred. (the corn bits catch in the cone shapes of the pasta.

Gently heat tomatoes in cream, ~2 min. in microwave. Let sit a while.
Add corn and mix. Microwave 30%, 12 minutes. stir. (or cook on the stove on low heat, you Luddite).
Cook pasta in lightly salted water. Save some pasta water (less than a half-cup). Add the saved water to the sauce, a bit at a time, until it looks like a sauce. Stop before the sauce gets too salty. Mix with drained pasta and serve.

For those of you who haven't creamed corn before, just shuck the corn, cut the kernels open/off with a kitchen knife, and scrape at the cob with the back of the knife to get the rest of the goodness out. Obviously, you'll want a plastic cutting board or something to catch the resulting bits & liquid.

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