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Hey, I know I used a couple of terms in my last post that may leave some of you rubbing your head, but don’t be afraid of the four letter word roux or its much longer cousin…emulsions.  You need to master a roux and an emulsion before you can be successful at composing fine “Mother Sauces.”  So, let’s get to it.

A roux is a mixture of ingredients used to thicken sauces so they aren’t runny like water.  The way to make a roux will leave you open-mouthed by its simplicity.  You must use an equal amount of flour and fat (traditionally clarified butter and/or animal fats) mixed in a saucepan and cooked over medium heat.  That sounds simple enough, but for how long do I cook it.  Well, here’s the rub….how long you cook it depends on what type of roux you want.  Unfortunately, no matter how long you cook it you won’t get a kangaroo!  Couldn’t resist.  Seriously, here’s how it works.

There are three generally accepted types of roux.

1.  White Roux.  Really, this should be named a yellowish roux, because that’s its true color, but who’s questioning history, eh?  You will mix an equal amount of flour and clarified butter (if you are a purist) in a sauce pan and cook over medium head for just a few minutes until the fat and flour are well mixed and begin to get a little frothy.  Don’t just pull the roux off the stove at this point, as you WANT to cook out the flour flavor.  Also, you don’t want to leave it on so long that it turns a darker color, or you off and running into another type of roux.  So, be careful how long you cook the White Roux.  White Rouxs are used primarily for bechamel and alfredo sauces (in other words, sauces using bases such as milk and cream).

2.  Blond Roux.  Yep, Blond Roux.  I can imagine a few of you “man cooks” out there hurrying to make a blond roux in hopes that she’ll be a dream come true.  Well, she may be beautiful and slightly blond and she may make you happy, but she won’t last.  Blond roux is cooked a bit longer than your White Roux.  Cook it until it begins to turn a bit darker than the Yellow/White Roux.  Blong  Rouxs and used for stock based white sauces such as veloutes.

3.  Brown Roux.  You guessed it, a brown roux is a blond roux taken several steps further in the cooking process.  The key to a perfect brown roux is to lower the heat and cook it over low heat (once it has combined and is frothy) until it browns evenly.  Note, I said browns evenly, not burns or scorches.  Interestingly enough, a brown roux cooked correctly will have a slightly nutty flavor and smell and taste quite rich.  Yummmmm.  You will use a brown route to thicken brown sauces like gravies.

Now for some tips for a great roux:

1.  Never, never, never burn or scorch your roux.

2.  A great roux is paste like and not runny or stew-like.  Roux should not pour like liquid.

3.  Cake flour makes by far the best roux.

4.  Try not to use shortening as your fat.  It add little flavor, tastes terrible and leaves  a after greasing on your tongue.

5.  Try to use clarified butter or another animal fat.

6.  Make sure to use the correct amount of roux to complement the amount of liquids you have.  I did some research of this one and here’s what the experts say.  Personally, I just keep adding until I get the thickness I desire.

3 ounces of roux per quart of liquid will thicken into a thin consistency

4 ounces of roux per quart of liquid will thicken into a medium consistency

5 ounces of roux per quart of liquid will thicken into a thick sauce

6 ounces of roux per quart of liquid will thicken into a heavy gravy

So, how does one incorporate a roux?  Well, again, it is really quite simple.  A roux can be added to a liquid mixture when the mixture is warm to hot, but avoid early boiling, as clumps can form.  Once the roux is added to the mixture you wish to thicken, make sure you whisk furiously until the liquid incorporates the roux (smooth and without any lumps).  Next, bring the sauce to a simmer and continue to simmer and stir for 20 minutes or so.  During this time the starchy flavor of the flour will further dissipate and your liquid will proceed to thicken.  If you happen to have added to much animal fat, make sure you skim it off the surface.

Well, this had been good for me I hope it has been good for roux…………………….

Photo Courtesy of:  http://www.meninaprons.net/images/bech.jpg

Our next post will be about emulsification.  No, not mumification….emulsification!!!!

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If you remember, and I barely do, that our last post dealt with an incredible Khmer curry paste recipe, then you will also remember my promise to post an incredible Khmer Curried Chicken recipe.  Well, there it is.  You’ll want to make sure your spice paste mix is ready to go.  Just check my last couple of posts and follow the directions and your paste will be ready.  I must say this chicken recipe is so delicious that you’ll want to place a table outside in the evening, light many candles or hanging lights in the bushes and trees around you and place a delicate and soft Cambodian CD on the stereo and relax and take your time to enjoy your company and your food.  Linger, talk softy, chew as long as you can and just let your palate and your olfactory sensors baste in the pleasure of this incredible dish from a beautiful and incredible country.

Khmer Curried Chicken (Using Khmer Curry Paste)

Ingredients

3 tablespoons Unflavored oil (corn or vegetable oil will work fine here) 

1 pound chicken breasts (cut in 1/4 slices).  The easiest way to do this is place the chicken in the freezer until it begins to freeze.  When it is lightly firm, remove it and it should slice in a lovely way)

1-2 tablespoons unprocessed, cane sugar

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 carrot sliced extremely thin (I use a slicer to ensure overall slice thinness)

1 potato, chopped into 1/2″ squares

1 medium sweet potato, chopped into 1/2″ squares

1 medium onion (sliced very thin)

1 cup unseasoned chicken broth (freshly made)

Salt to taste

5 cups teamed rice

4 saffron strands

1/16 teaspoon turmeric powder

Preparation

Place enough rice and water in a steamer to make 5 cups.  Add 4 saffron strands and 1/16 turmeric tsp. turmeric powder.  Turn on steamer and let rice cook.

Heat oil in a wok until hot.  Fry , stirring constantly, 2 Tablespoons of Khmer Curry Paste for one minute.  Add sliced chicken breast.  Stir for 2 minutes.  Turn down to medium heat.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar and stir well.  Cook chicken until done.  Toss in vegetables   and stir.  Stir gently for another minute and then add 1/2 cup coconut milk, salt to taste and fresh chicken broth.  Heat through.

Serve over the steamed rice and truly enjoy.

As a note I would like to add that some folks do like more curry paste in their recipe.  If you find you would enjoy more paste, add more the next time.  This is a better strategy that adding much too much spice early on and ruining a recipe.  On that note…………………………………………drift way to Cambodia.

 

Photo Courtesy of:  http://www.images-photography-pictures.net/Angkor-Wat-Cambodia-sunset-zrim.jpg

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I know.  I know.  I know.  It has been a long time since my last post.  I am trying to juggle way too many things right now, but at least I’m back for now.  The long promised Khmer Curry Paste recipe is soon to follow.  Unlike other curry mixes this one won’t be a throat burner.  Oh no, this is a subtle, delicious, can’t stay away from it curry paste.    Frankly, as you who follow know, I am addicted to everything flavorful, especially Dougray Scott.  If you don’t know who Dougray Scott is take a look on Google and be prepared to have your heart stop at the site of those luscious lips and intelligent brow.  Sigh.  Dougray Scott, Khmer Curry Paste, a private hotel room with a sauna, Lisa Gerrard on the surround sound……..  Sorry, got carried away there for a moment.  Get out your mortar and pedestal and let’s get started.  Just remember that this recipe will make around a cup of paste or about enough for one large recipe using the blend or two smaller recipes.  I always say it is easier to use less spices than to have to figure out how to blunt the flavor from overuse.  Take this for what it is…a word from the spice wise.

Photo Courtesy of:   http://www.cambodia-cooking-class.com/images/top-mortar-2.jpg

Khmer Curry Paste

Remember, if you don’t know what ingredients I am mentioning, look back at my previous posts on Cambodian spices and herbs.  Also you can get all of these ingredients in large cities or if you live in a rural area, the internet offers you many sites from which to purchase these items.

Ingredients

1/4 cup peanut oil (for those worried about fat in their diet, canola oil or extra virgin olive oil can be used)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp black peppercorns

1/4 cup sliced turmeric

8 medium cloves skinless garlic sliced

6 fresh or dried Tai chilies

1 fresh or dried Spur Chile (I have read recipes calling for New Mexico Chili pods, but I have never tried them in this recipe) 

1/4 cup sliced and trimmed galangal root (relative of ginger–see previous post)

2-3 tsp mushroom powder

1/2 tsp shrimp paste

1 lemongrass stalk, cleaned and finely sliced

1/4 cup peeled and sliced shallots

10 kaffir lime leaves (note:  these must be finely shredded)

If you are using dried Chili pods remember to soak them in warm water for one half hour and then drain before using.  Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend for at least 15 minutes or until you notice the ingredients are forming a smooth paste.  Keep the edges pulled in with a spatula so all ingredients are well incorporated.  Use fresh with your recipe or store in refrigerator for no more than one week. 

How was that for simple!  And, soon to come will be an incredible recipe for you to use your spice mix with.  I can’t wait to hear about your smiles as you use your new spice blend paste!

Photo Courtesy of:  http://images.travelpod.com/users/timrie/4.1262609656.making-curry-paste.jpg

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Photo courtesy of:  http://www.paradiseinfiji.com/blogimages/Activities/Culture_Warrior005.jpg

 

Everyone was so pleased with my posts of Fiji, that I thought I would post another Fijian recipe that is as easy as they come and as delicious as can be.  If you like ceviche you will love this slightly spicy white fish dish.  Let’s hit it, folks!

Kokoda

Ingredients:

4 White Fish fillets (I use Halibut, but for more authenticity use Mahi-Mahi)

Juice of 3 large limes or 4 small limes

1/2 tsp sea salt

3 medium tomatoes, seeds removed and diced in small cubes

1 very small green chili (Serrano works fine) minced very, very fine.  Remember, always remove seeds, stems and veins  (use less for less heat)

1 medium onion, minced

1 orange bell pepper, seeds, veins and stems removed and minced

1 cup coconut cream  (NOT coconut milk, but coconut CREAM)

Preparation:

Cut the fish fillets into bite size pieces and put them in a GLASS bowl with the lime juice and salt.  Do NOT put the lime juice in a metal bowl or it WILL react with the metal and ruin the flavor of your dish.  Mix the fish, lime and salt well and then cover and refrigerate overnight for no less than 12 hours. 

Remove from fridge and add coconut cream and minced onion. Stir well.  Serve immediately and sprinkle tomato and diced orange bell pepper over top.  I love serving this dish on a fresh bed of huge lettuce leaves.  I have even had folks roll the Kokoda in a lettuce leaf and eat it like a taco.  If you are really adventuresome, invite some dancers over to give a show to your family and guests.  Or, better yet, have a beach party where less clothing is more fun!  Yum is all I can say. 

 

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Good afternoon fellow spice and herb lovers.  Let us unite today, under grey or blue skies, and make our home a little brighter, lighter and homier with the wonderful aromas created by Chicken Curry, Fijian Indian Style.  Oh yes, let us gather our friends and loved ones and set out tables with bright cloths and drinks of greens, reds and yellows.  Amen.  Let us celebrate life, love and family and friends as we feast and unite over the fresh, delightful cuisine of Fiji!  Take my cyberspace hand and we shall walk through the simple path of cooking this delightful dish.  Don’t forget that the spice mix you will need for this recipe was posted a few days ago.  Just head backwards in my posts, make the blend and you are ready, my friends, to partake of  Chicken Curry.

Photo Courtesy of:  http://www.matavuvale.com/profiles/profile/show?id=joji_Fiji_Living

Chicken Curry Fijian Style

Ingredients:

1 Whole Chicken cut into bite size pieces

5 small cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 small onion, finely minced

Chicken Stock as needed

1 large tomato, chopped

2-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp curry paste

2 tbsp Fijian Curry Spice Blend (see earlier post)

Salt

Preparation:

Add two to three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to a medium-sized, deep skillet and heat over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, 2 tablespoons Fijian Spice Blend and stir for about two minutes.  DO NOT BURN, as spices and oil will become very bitter.   Add 2 tablespoons curry paste ((I recommend a mild curry paste for beginners) and stir well for another minute or so.  Add chicken and salt to taste.  Stir and let cook for 30 minutes over medium heat, stirring to keep chicken from sticking.  If chicken begins to stick I always add a bit of chicken broth to this recipe to keep things simmering along and not burning.  Add chopped tomatoes at end of cooking, stir,  and serve immediately.  My favorite way to finish this dish is with a side of turmeric and saffron steamed rice.  Ummmmmmmmmmmm.  DELICIOUS.  

So simple, but yet so Fijian Indian style.  You will love this recipe and your heart will forever yearn to visit Fiji and wonder at the currents of culture that flow through the Islands and make them what they are today!

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Hey herb (no, not that type of herb), spice and cooking fans.  How many of you wish you could pull off a great tasting Paella for friends and family.  Hey, how about a Paella party where everyone brings a different Spanish wine to share.  LOVE IT!   If you live near a beach, make it a beach party.  YEAH.  Imagine.

  Photo complements of:  http://www.pxleyes.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/top_11_computer_generated_landscapes/9.jpg

Well, hold onto your horse as you race along that beach because here is the simple spice mix recipe for use with Paella.  Some of you may think I am putting the cart before the horse, and perhaps I am — as I often do — but the mix will come before the actual Paella recipe.  By the time I post my Paella recipe you will be drooling all over the keys on your computer and the spice mix will be ready to go!

PAELLA SPICE BLEND MIX

1 tsp crushed Rosemary

3  tsp salt

2 1/2 tsp Sweet Spanish Paprika

1 tsp ground garlic

2 tsp raw cane sugar

2 tsp Spanish Saffron

Really, reader, the most important ingredient here is the Saffron!  Make sure it is Spanish and fresh.  By the way, the same should be said for your men! 

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and place in a tight jar.  I recommend you use this mix immediately on the Paella recipe that I will soon be posting.  You will need to use all the spice mix with the recipe.  So, it is just a one time use blend.  But, well worth it if you like the real thing!  And, as with most cooking around the world, there are many, many different recipes for Paella and many different amounts of spices used in each recipe.  I find this one meets my needs best.  I hope you enjoy it as much as you will the Paella recipe that will follow shortly (a couple of days).  In the meantime, let me leave you with this:

 

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Yes, our final make at home spice blend from France will be the very blend that is credited to Julia Childs:  Choucroute Garni.  It is said that Ms. Childs concocted this blend specifically for sausage and other heavy meat dishes.  Indeed, this story sounds true, as the translation of Choucroute Garni literally means sauerkraut with meat.  And, in my language that translates to intestinal gas.  Sorry, but sauerkraut is what it is, as the French would say.  Personally, I don’t think Julia Childs would enjoy my comparison of her Choucroute Garni with passing of gas, but this cartoon says it all!

Image courtesy of http://www.DeanMurray.com

 

Alright, Linda, enough with the naughty stuff and onwards to the spice blend known as Choucroute Garni. 

Choucroute Garni Spice Blend

a pinch of ground clove

1/8 cup of juniper berries

7 white peppercorns (black peppercorns with hull removed)

1 bay leaf

1/8 tsp thyme

1/8 tsp paprika

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp. allspice

Place all spices in coffee bean or spice grinder and powder.  Place in glass container away from light, heat and moisture.  Enjoy.

You can find Choucroute Garni recipes all over the web.  So find a recipe and try out this delicious spice.  I do not use Choucroute Garni with sauerkraut recipes, but I love using it with heavy hunter stews using a variety of sausages, potatoes, and vegetables.  My husband sings enough songs through his backside without me adding sauerkraut into the mix.  🙂

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