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Posts Tagged ‘gourmet cooking’

Ah, I am back for a short post on my second Mother Sauce base, Tomato Sauce or Sauce Tomat.  The French actually developed this sauce (based upon teachings from the Italians) which uses tomatoes as a base.  Needless to say Tomato Sauce is so versatile that its variations are endless!

Make a Tomato Sauce base is quite simple.  I was taught to use fresh tomatoes, but I now often use canned whole and pureed tomatoes.  Honestly, it will be hard for most of your diners to ever know the difference.  This recipe will make around a quart and a half to two quarts.  Hold on to your hats, folks, this will be fast and furious.

Mother Sauce Number Two:  Tomato Sauce

2  oz  Salt Pork

1 medium yellow onion

1/2 tsp sugar

salt and pepper to taste

2  1/2 oz carrots, diced into 1/4 inch cubes

2  oz  real butter   

5 pounds raw tomatoes, quartered (for this recipe I use any large, ripe, red tomato)

1  qt. light chicken broth (or for more of a classic taste 1 qt. of veal broth)

2 small cloves freshly crushed garlic

2-3  oz all purpose flour

Something to remember before you begin is to choose your pot carefully.  You will need a pot that easily holds 2 quarts of hot liquid.  I’d suggest a glass pot or one that has an internal non stick surface.  I suggest this for a simple reason.  Tomatoes are extremely acidic and can readily pull the flavor and particles of aluminum and other metals (like iron) into your sauce.  Believe me, the taste will be affected by the wrong pot!

Alright then, let’s get started.  Begin by placing the salt pork into the pot and rending the fat out of the salt pork (a heavy bottomed pan works best and helps avoid burning).   Add about a tablespoon of water and cover with a lid.  Place heat on medium and check after 5 minutes.  The steam will help the fat render from the salt pork and help prevent burning of the pork fat. 

Once the salt pork is rendered, add in butter, carrots, onions and sweat them over medium heat for 5-10 minutes.  The vegetables should become tender and begin to release their aromas.  As this happens you can sprinkle the flour over the carrots and onions and continue to cook them for a few more minutes.  The flour will work with the pork fat to make a roux.  See my previous postings to learn about a roux.

Add in the tomatoes and cook them with the other ingredients until they begin to soften and release their fluids.  Immediately add in your chicken or veal stock and crushed garlic.  Cover the pot and reduce heat the simmer for about 2 hours.

Finally, cool your broth a bit and put it all through a blender until smooth.  If you want a very smooth sauce, take the blended mixture and filter it through a chinois, finish it with sale, pepper and the sugar. 

Many of you are asking, why the sugar?  Well, sugar will help balance the acidity of the tomatoes.  Try it.  A little sugar on everything is fantastic. 

Once you have you base you can add whatever spices you want to create your dream pasta sauce, soup, or meat sauce.  I highly recommend you take a joy ride into the variations of Sauce Tomat.  Recipes are available in just about every cookbook and across the net.  Enjoy.

Photo Courtesy of:  videoactive.blogspot.com/2008_08_17_archive.html

 

 Photo Courtesy of:   kitchenography.typepad.com

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I’m here, but for how long I’m not sure.  First craft fair of the season and it was slowwwwwww.  Ah, but there are more to come!  It always looks up the closer to Christmas we get.  I just love this time of year.  Enough of this for now, let’s head to my favorite sauce–Bechamel!  Oh, excuse you!

Start by making a White Roux.  Now, this is not book learning you will be getting from me, but experience.  I DO use butter as my fat source–REAL BUTTER folks.  I take a pan, put in about 4-5 tablespoons of butter and heat it up on medium high heat.  When fat thins I add 6-7 tablespoons of flour and whisk briskly until the mixture begins to thin and bubble.  I then turn the heat to low and reduce the amount of whisking I do until I smell a toasty aroma arising from the roux. I usually let it cook for about 1-2 minutes more (don’t let it brown) and then remove it and set it aside.  For what follows you will need 4-6 tablespoons of this roux.

In a separate pot, heat up about one quart of milk (I use whole milk to get the smoothest blend) until it is SIMMERING.  Add the roux to the milk and whisk until the two come together smoothly, simmering while doing so.  Add salt to taste and two pinches of nutmeg.  I don’t like to taste the nutmeg as an “ingredient,” I just use it to add depth of flavor.  I also add a pinch of powdered white pepper and 1/4 of a yellow onion, peeled and sliced (not to small–what you want is the flavor).  I will sometimes also add a bay leaf and bit of vanilla bean, etc, depending on what I’m using the sauce for.  For now, just add the onion and one bay leaf (along with the nutmeg).  Simmer for about 20 minutes, adding more whole milk if the sauce thickens to quickly.  When done pour through a sieve and viola–BECHAMEL!  

Although this is a very BASIC Bechamel Sauce, you can do a lot with it. 

1.  You can throw in some Parmesan, Romano or both (grated please, 6-8 oz. please) into the sauce, melt it and pour it over some pasta.  Delicious. 

2.  You can make it into a heavy cream sauce by adding about 4-8 ounces of heated, heavy cream along with your favorite spices from Adult Indulgences, Wickedly Delicious Custom Spice Blends (http://www.adultindulgences.etsy.com), such as Tuscan Sun, Sicilian Prince, or even Oh India!  Again, great on pasta, baked chicken, etc.

3.  You can stir in 4 ounces of Gruyère (an incredible cheese indeed) and 2 oz. of Parmesan (grated) until melted.  Then remove from heat and add in 2 oz. of butter.  Stir well.  Again, this goes well with pasta, chicken, etc.  This is known in the field as a Mornay Sauce.

4.  And, you can make my husband’s favorite….Cheddar Cheese Sauce.  Add 8-9 oz. of cheddar cheese (grated please), 1/2 tsp of dry mustard, and two tbls of Worcestershire sauce.  Place all ingredients into warm Bechamel and heat until melted.  Pour over pasta and just die!

Really, you can put just about anything into a Bechamel sauce.  That is what makes it so very cool.  An easy way to make a fantastic sauce that you can use for virtually everything!  It can be dainty or robust.  You choose!  But, I make my Bechamel Sauces just how I like my men….robust and naughty!

Photo Courtesy of:  http://www.independent.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00284/Mr_January__Peter_L_284932t.jpg

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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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I know, I deserve a spanking.  Speaking of which, where is Dougray Scott when you need the little bugger.  Of course, I could be punished even more…………….. 

Photo Courtesy of:  http://stars.hitflip.de/Dougray_Scott_HF_L_2_58493_24101.gif

A special treat for those of you who didn’t know who Dougray Scott was.  I know, I should wish for a lot more than a spanking.  It’s those darn lips I tell you.  What was God thinking when he made them!  Didn’t he know women would swoon and dream of being locked in their deep embrace for days on end?  I’m sure he did.  Just one more part of our torture of living a mortal life.   I have to admit, I’m not one for a lot of temptation (I’m just not tempted by much but great spices, herbs and food), but I will say, to all the world, I’d give it up to have a go at Dougray Scott.  Sigh.  Must pull myself away from the photo and get on with my apology.

Where was I.  Oh Yes.  I am sorry for not posting for some time but life is still very busy.  As a means of apology I am offering a great Khmer recipe for Coconut Sauce.  I use it as often as I can and I love it.  Khmer cooking doesn’t shy away from Coconut sauces at all, in fact this is a commonly used sauce in deserts as well as main dishes.  All I can say is that it is simple, delicious, and well, I could do a lot with it if Dougray Scott were in the room with me now.  ; )

Khmer Coconut Sauce

Ingredients

2 cups coconut milk (fresh is best, but canned is fine as well)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation

Mix all ingredients together in a small sauce pan.  Heat and allow to simmer, stirring regularly, until sauce thickens.  It’s ready to go!  Hot or Cold.  Day or Night.  I love this on vanilla ice cream, sponge cake, and it is wonderful on rice, fish, light chicken dishes, etc.  Just let your imagination roll along with this one!!!

Well, my apology should allow you to have many wonderful and flavorful meals.  Oh, and the picture of Dougray Scott should allow you many a delightful fantasy.  Eat well my friends!

Photo Courtesy of:  http://www.ruggedelegantliving.com/a/images/Dougray.Scott.Pro.BWImage.jpg

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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 just had to do it–the idea for the title to this post was too tempting to pass up.  Yes, we are going to talk about Turkey, but not the famous bird we all think of as representing Thanksgiving, bloating, belching, and tight pants.  We are going to talk about the spices/herbs used in the cooking of the country of Turkey.  Gotcha there, huh! 

I find the spices/herbs of Turkish cooking to be as complex as Moroccan and Indian and most Middle Eastern cooking.  They are aromatic, strong, lingering, sensual and delicious.  If  Dougray Scott was a Turkish spice mix I would rub him all over my body and never bath again.  Ikes, where did that come from.  I am so sick when it comes to Dougray Scott that I can’t mention his name without conjuring visions of that wonderful voice and those sexy lips.  The rest of him–nah.  But, those two parts–quite the hook for this fish!

Back to topic, hard as it is.  Turkish spice blends are as varied as the households in Turkey itself.  Like most Eastern cooking, each and every home has their favorite spices that they use.  This makes it easy to create your own recipe.  But, before you are able to do that you need to know the basic cooking spices used in Turkish cooking.  Many of the spices I will mention will be familiar to you from our other lessons.  For those spices that are new (and there aren’t many) I will leave a brief description.  What is really cool is that within the next few days I will list a simple recipe for a great beginners Turkish spice blend.  O.K. here we go!

The most used spices/herbs in Turkish cooking are:

1.  Allspice

2.  Bay Leaf

3.  Black Pepper

4.  Nutmeg

5.  Hot Red Pepper Flakes

6.  Rosemary

7.  Cardamom

8.  Anise

9.  Basil

10.  Ginger

11.  Fennel

12.  Marjoram

13.  Parsley

14.  Pine Nuts

15.  Sage

16.  Saffron

17.  Tarragon

18.  Turmeric

19.  Thyme

20.  White Pepper

21.  Cinnamon

22.  Cumin

23.  Cardamom

24.  Fenugreek

25.  Juniper

26.  Mint.  Ah, here is a new one.  Mint is an often used herb in Turkish cooking.  It is used with mutton, lamb and salads.

27.  Poppy Seeds

28.  Sesame.  Yes, another new one.  Sesame is a crushed oily seed of a small bush that grows in Sudan and China.  It is often used to make Tahini.  Ummmm.  Another great body rub!

29.  Cloves.  Have we seen this one before?  If not cloves are a dried flower that are often ground and used in cakes and cream sauces.  Cloves are also used whole to flavor soups and stews.

30.  Coriander

31.  Curry Powder

32.  Mustard Seeds.  Here is another new one.  Seeds are ground and used in spice blends and even the greens are used in salads.  It has a bit of a bitter flavor and should be used sparingly.

Well, now you can see why Turkish cooking is so complex and so wonderful.  There is a treasure chest of spices/herbs to choose from in making a Turkish spice mix.  But, not to worry I soon will be listing a Turkish spice blend recipe that you all can make and enjoy!  Well, I must be off  (literally and figuratively).  Goodnight all and be ready to tread the spice trails of Turkish cooking!

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Whew.  Looks like a lot of folks are looking forward to the Ras El Hanout recipe.  Sorry it took me so long to get this out there, but I have to admit that I’ve had a 48 hour Dougray Scott Movie run.  It left me exhausted, not to mention very, very happy.  If you don’t know who Dougray Scott is, may I suggest you look him up on the web.  But, don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Oh, no.  If you don’t want to be hooked, don’t look him up.  Sigh.  What I don’t understand is why he can’t turn out a movie a week.  Not that I mind watching his current ones, but please give me something new to work with, Dougary!!!!  Enough of that and on to business.

Almost every house in Morocco has a different version of this spice blend.  The really, really well done ones, have countless spices in the mixture.  My Adult Indulgences, Wickedly Delicious Custom Spice Blends, Moroccan Madness Moroccan Spice Blend has over 50 herbs and spices.  So it is quite complex.  Hey, I have plug my own business every now and then!  What is important to remember is that you don’t want to overload your food with Ras El Hanout.  A little goes a long way.  To much and things can get bitter and upsetting to the stomach.

Ras El Hanout Spice Mix Recipe–The Simple Version.

1 tsp. allspice berries

1 whole nutmeg

1 small, fresh cinnamon stick

15 saffron threads

1 1/2 tsp. sea salt or Kosher salt

1 tsp ground turmeric (it is quite hard to find turmeric root in my area and probably yours as well)

1 tsp ground mace

1 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds

2 inch cube of dried ginger

1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns (white peppercorns if you prefer a more delicate pepper flavor)

Many folks will just tell you to dump all of this into a spice or coffee grinder and grind until it becomes a powder.  This is what you will do, but before that you will put these ingredients into a non-stick pan and on medium head toast all the spices (stirring constantly) until a wonderful aroma fills your kitchen.  Briefly “toasting” the spices will bring out their oils and make sure they fully infuse whatever you choose to put them in.  Remember to let the spices cool before you pour them into the spice grinder or coffee grinder and make them into a powder.  Once you have ground the spices put the mixture in a glass jar and close the lid tightly.  Place the spice mixture in the dark and away from heat.  There you have it.  Simple, sumptuous, and ready to blend into your favorite Moroccan Recipe. 

Also, don’t forget to check out my etsy promotion page for handmade goods.  There will soon be all new sellers for you to view and shop with!

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