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Archive for December, 2008

This soup from Marcella Hazan sounded very nice and simple – a lot of olive oil, garlic, parsley and white wine. I love squid from Wegmans, and they had good baby artichokes.
Marcella suggested to cut tubes into thin rings – 1/4″ which sounded not a typical 1/2″ treatment but i trusted her and was curious. The recipe calls for cooking squid for about 40mins before adding sliced artichokes. And somewhere here the problem lurked. When i tasted squid (several times during the cooking) it stayed flavorless and rubbery. I can blame this on two things – either the thin cut and the squid itself: though Wegmans sells two types of squid – freshly caught and frozen, i suspect this time they sold the latter under the label of the former – in theory this never should happen but i really don’t have other explanation – will continue to experiment because the soup is worth it.
Artichoke Squid Soup

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Well i never tasted grouse but Jeremiah Tower was convincing enough so i marinated a small spatchcocked chicken in Chivas whiskey, olive oil, crushed juniper berries and thyme and then roasted it 425F oven for about an hour (covered breast and lowered temp to 350F sometime in the middle).
Excellent bird, one of the recent best.

Roasted Chicken

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I cook a lot of dried beans, and always look for best cooking method so they stay intact and evenly done.
One of the best and easiest way that also produces a very flavorful pot liquor is the old italian techique called fagioli al fiasco. Reinterpreted to the modern kitchen this method boils down to the following: soak beans overnight (or for several hours), put in some earthenware pot (bean pot is ideal), add whole unpeeled garlic cloves, some herbs (sage is good), a generous splash of good olive oil, water to cover beans and some more (so they still under water when expand) and put in a low oven (200 – 230F) for couple or more hours. I start with a higher temp and check after an hour so they won’t boil.

Fagioli al Fiasco

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Found a good source for real farmers cheese (tvorog in russian). And after couple trials found a good formula for syrniki – russian breakfast cakes.
Russian Cakes - Syrniki
1.5lb of firm full fat farmers cheese;
2 eggs;
1 scant tbs of sugar;
generous pinch of salt;
4 generous tbs of flour;
about 8mins on each side on med low heat (mark 2 at mine).

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Greek cuisine has so many interesting dishes involving scallions and dill – my favorite herbs. Like this one i found in one of the books of Aglaia Kremezi. Chicken thighs braised with plenty of scallions and some white wine, braising liquid and scallions pureed and some lemon juice and dill added towards the end. The sauce is so nice – light, creamy and fragrant.
One trick i learned from Jeremiah Tower – marinate chicken for several hours in a paste of olive oil/garlic. This time i made a paste of scallions and olive oil. Scrapped it off before browning, but added the marinade to the braising liquid.
Served with brandy roasted baby artichokes.
In the morning shredded the remaining chicken, boiled some sour trahana (greek pasta) and dump then in the warmed sauce.
Sour Trahana

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Being russian puts one on a permanent hunt for recipes that could miraculously make cultivated mushrooms taste like those excellent wild mushrooms foraged back in childhood. You hope to discover some technique that tightens the flabbiness of button mushrooms to approximate the texture of porcini, and with a little help from dried cepes to trick your all senses into believing you’re eating a real stuff.
Well, tonight’s version was not bad at all. Used large white mushrooms sliced 0.5″, braised them with garlic in a lot of olive oil for about 10mins, then added dried porcini (0.5 oz) soaked in hot goat milk(100ml), including some milk and cooked more until all the liquid was almost gone. Shower of parsley and more olive oil.

Braised field mushrooms

Served on some excellent pumpernickel toast – welcome to russian bruschetta.

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Found a nice idea for peruvian potatoes – to use them in a simple hash brown. Wegmans carry pretty baby purples from Melissa’s. Just grate them scrubbed (don’t peel to preserve the nutrition) in food processor. Warm the butter and olive oil in some saute pan, press potato into it, cook for 10mins a med heat, flip and cook for 10mins more.
12 oz for 2 people, 9″ pan.

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