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Posts Tagged ‘gourmet’

My apologies, again, for being absent.  Let’s continue where we left off some time ago, shall we?  As I was mentioning, an avid reader wanted a lesson in “Mother Sauces”.  Naturally, I aim to please (most of the time, anyway).  Some of you may be asking, “What the heck are Mother Sauces?  Well, simply put, they are the base sauces for most any sauce you can think of or create. 

The Mother Sauces are:  Tomato Sauce (or Sauce Tomat), White Sauce (or Sauce Bechamel), Brown Sauce (or Sauce Espagnole), White Stock Sauce (or Sauce Veloute) and finally, Hollandaise Sauce.  I’m sure most of these sound familiar to a lot of you who like to cook.  So, let’s take a better look at each, shall we? 

1.  Sauce Bechamel.  This delicious base sauce is usually made with whole milk and thickened with a white roux (to be explained later…if you are wondering what a roux is).  Bechamel sauce is often flavored with white onion, bay leave, salt, nutmeg and white and black pepper.  Bechamel is served most often with pastas, eggs, poultry and veal.

2.  Sauce Tomat.  How can we forget this lovely sauce made from a base of tomatoes, whether raw, pureed, stewed or in a paste form).  We are most familiar with this sauce and its use in pastas.  But it is often found fish, vegetables, polenta, veal, poultry, breads and gnocchi.  Thickening of a Sauce Tomat often occurs with purees, reductions and even a roux.

3.  Sauce Espagnole.  Brown Sauce is a must if you are aiming for truly classic cooking.  It is thickened with a roux and is made from a base of veal, beef or chicken stock.  It is most often served over roasted meats such as veal, lamb, beef and even poultry. 

4.  Sauce Veloute.  As a white sauce Sauce Veloute is made with chicken, light meats and often fish.  We find it used with eggs, fish, pastas and veal.  Sauce Veloute is commonly flavored with various wines and thickened with a roux.

5.  Hollandaise Sauce.  My favorite!  Clarified butter and egg yolks make this sauce truly unforgettable.  It is thickened through emulsification (to be defined later) and often paired with seasonings such a black pepper, white wine, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, and salt.  I love Hollandaise over asparagus!  It is also often used with vegetables, light poultry dishes, fish, beef, and eggs!

Such a tantalizing group of “Mother Sauces” from which can come an infinite number of possibilities.  Your imagination and palate will be your only boundaries!

Photo Courtesy of:   http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/uimages/kitchen/2008_03_25_MotherSauce.jpg

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Hello everyone.  I had a request a month or so ago (could have been longer, my mind has been wasting a lot of time contemplating Dougray Scott’s lips) for a brief introduction to Mother Sauces.  While I don’t consider Mother Sauces spices exactly, there is A LOT that can be done with spices and Mother Sauces.  So, lets get started, shall we?

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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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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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Yeah.  A beautiful day here at home and there is obviously a lot of interest out there about Cuban cooking.  O.K., then.  Many of you noted you wanted more recipes.  Well, I am here to please (within limits).  I decided to give up my simple Chicken with Rice dish recipe.  Easy, quick and peasant style Cuban cooking. 

Photo Courtesy of:  http://www.frenchcreoles.com/cuba3.jpg

 

Just had to share that artwork with you all.  Lovely, isn’t it?  Anyhoo, let’s get to it fellow cooks and spice lovers.

Chicken with Rice Cuban Peasant Style

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces

4 ripe tomatoes, chopped (I remove seeds before chopping)

1 1/2 cups warm water

8 minced, fresh garlic cloves

2 1/2 large, red, finely chopped onions

1 bay laurel leaf

2 medium green bell peppers, finely chopped and seeds removed

1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped and seeds removed

9 green pimento olives, finely chopped

3 tsp. juice from olive jar

One large lemon

1/4 tsp. cummin

Olive Oil (Extra Virgin is best)

1/4 cup raisins

1 tsp. salt

Preparation:

The chicken needs to be marinated for at least 14 hours (overnight is best) in the juice of the whole, large lemon and the cummin.  Make sure you add salt to the marinade.  Coat the chicken well and put into fridge.  I like to shake my chicken in the marinade every couple of hours to ensure even seasoning.

Once you have marinated the chicken, get out a larger frying pan and add some olive oil.  Brown the chicken pieces on all sides!  Once browning is complete, place the chicken in a large pot.

Add a little bit more olive oil to the frying pan (not the pot) and add in the onions and peppers until carmelized.  Add in the garlic and bay leaf and stir.  Let cook no longer than one minute before adding the water (this keeps the flavor of the garlic fresh and pungent).  Stir again.  Add this mixture to the browned chicken in the pot.  Cover and make sure you simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Remove bay leaf.

Immediately serve over plain white rice.   Enjoy!

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Happy Mom’s Day to all who celebrate it.  And, we all should since without Mom’s there would be no us!  My Mother has always provided me with mentoring that has made me the person I am today.  Literally, everything good that I am I have gotten from her.  Her heart is spiritual, loving, accepting, non judgemental, caring, artistic, appreciative, soulful, fun-loving, nurturing and well–just all around perfect!  She has battled cancer for 12 years and now is suffering from all the chemotherapy and medications she takes.  She nearly died six weeks ago and yet on she goes, helping others and shouldering her pain and discomfort.  I love her more each and every day I am with her.  Caring for her is a blessing and a gift!  I love you Mom!

Today, we delve into that wonderful Cuban Spice Mix that I told you about on my last post.  This will be a bit of a different preparation than we usually talk about.  This will be made fresh, on the go, and put immediately into a great Cuban dish:  Black Beans and Rice.  You get a lot of arguments about whether Cuban black beans and rice should be “yellow” or not.  According the lady I was taught by, “real” Cuban black beans and rice (as the peasants make it) does not have a yellow color to it.  Now, my teacher indicated that through the years Saffron made its mark in Cuban rice and beans and that some families use saffron as a spice to both flavor and color rice and beans.  Additionally, she informed us that there is a Caribbean spice blend available (for many years) called (and I hope I get this right) Sazon Goya that many modern Cuban cooks use in rice and beans and many other dishes. 

I looked up Sazon Goya on the net and, yes indeed, a spice packet is sold by this name (as are some others by the same company).  It turns the rice and beans a lovely color and contains a number of spices that are now used in Cuban cooking.  If you are interested, just type in Sazon Goya on the web and you will find resellers of this blend.  Our teacher told us that in very poor homes where saffron and spice mixes can not be afforded, yellow food coloring is sometimes added to rice and beans to give them a beautiful saffron color. 

For our purposes here today, we will use the five main ingredients of basic Sofrito. You will receive arguments on what belongs in Sofrito.  I was taught that Sofrito for beans and rice should be garlic, cummin, green peppers, onions, saffron (optional and not used in this recipe), Sazon Goya (optional and not used in this recipe), and bay laurel leaves.  Hold onto your hats, here we go!

Peasant Black Beans and Rice

Ingredients:

2 cups black beans (we are making a quick recipe and won’t be using dried beans in this recipe)

1 large yellow onion

Olive oil

2 cups chicken broth

3 large, minced garlic cloves

3 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup long grain white rice

1/2 cup minced green pepper

3 1/4 tsp powdered cummin

1 bay leaf

Once all ingredients are handy, you want to begin by draining the water from the beans and setting them aside in a small bowl. 

In a large cooking pot that has a cover, you will now want to begin to saute your chopped onion, garlic, green pepper, and bay leaf in olive oil until they appear opaque and are tender.

Next, add the tomato paste, black beans, cummin and chicken broth.  Stir and let gently warm. 

Add the rice and cover.  Cook over low heat until rice is completely cooked.  This can take anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes. 

Bingo, you are ready to go.  You should add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.  Yum!

So, you ask, what if you want to used dried black beans.  Well, that is easily enough done.  You will need one pound of black beans.  To prepare them you would put them in a pot and make sure they are well covered with water.  Bring them to a boil, remove them from the heat, and let them stand at least one hour.  Drain them and continue to use them as the recipe above states.

If you want to pour in some Sazon Goya, please do and you can add a bit of Saffron as well to come up with that beautiful yellow color and that just right flowery flavor that only Saffron can bring to a dish.  But, for Peasant Cuban rice and beans, just stick to the recipe above.

You can see that Sofrito is a blend of vegetables, herbs and spices that is not stored, but created just before it is used to flavor many different Cuban dishes.  I encourage you all to explore Cuban cooking as it is wonderful in all its varieties!

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