October 21, 2011

Words which should never be uttered in the same sentence

I shuddered when I read these two words together: "seafood chili". Never. This is just not going to end well for anyone.

Don't do it.


Posted by Random Penseur at 07:33 AM | Comments (73) | TrackBack

October 20, 2011

Not usually my thing to post a recipe, but. . .

This looked really good:

Spiced Dark Chocolate & Pumpkin Seed Bark with Sea Salt

Makes about 12 ounces

If you don't have a double boiler, a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water will work just as well. The chocolate can also be microwaved at 30 second intervals, checking and stirring after each, until completely melted. Experiment with the ingredients and quantities to suit your tastes...such as adding dried fruit, assorted roasted nuts, or using a combination of semi-sweet and dark chocolate. The spices give the chocolate a subtle heat, nothing too spicy. If you'd like it on the spicier side, add a bit more ground chipotle. Pumpkin pie spice can be found in most supermarkets, but if you're unable to find some, I've included a recipe to make you own at home below.

3 {3 1/2 ounce} bars good quality dark chocolate {70% cacao or higher}

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice {optional recipe below}

1/8 teaspoon ground red chipotle

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons roasted & salted hulled pumpkin seeds {plus more for decorating}

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Break the chocolate into small pieces. Melt 3/4 of the chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once melted remove from heat and add the remaining chocolate; stirring until melted. Add the dried spices and stir to thoroughly combine. Stir in a 1/2 cup of the pumpkin seeds.

Using a silicone spatula scrape the mixture out onto the parchment paper. Spread out evenly into a rectangle, as thin or as thick as you desire. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds over the top. Let the bark rest for 5 minutes to cool slightly, then sprinkle the sea salt evenly over the top.

Refrigerate for 45 minutes, or until firm. Break the bark into pieces and enjoy!

To make ahead: The bark can be made several days in advance and stored in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated, or store in a cool spot.

Make your own Pumpkin Pie Spice {optional}: In a small container combine 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice. Yield: 2 teaspoons - Save the remaining spice blend for another use by storing it in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

I've forwarded it to my in-house pastry chef (my wife) and requested that she give it some consideration. I will report back if I am lucky enough to be in a position to do so.

Posted by Random Penseur at 08:27 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 25, 2005

Turkish Restaurants

Ok, as promised, the report. We had a great time. As per my suspicion, the service you get when the guest of a native speaker of the native langauge of the wait staff is better. Putting to one side the issue of whether the majority of the kitchen staff at the Turkish Kitchen is actually Turkish or, more likely, some very smart guys from Mexico and Guatemala, we ate very well.

We sat down and immidiately had some raki. As described below, raki, when you get the good stuff and not the stuff somebody just brewed up in their garage, is fantastic. It helps if you like the taste of licorice, though, which I do. After the raki was poured, and after a thoughtful consultation between our hosts and the waitress, the food started coming. And coming. And coming. I don't know that I can remember it all, but it included: Shepard's Salad (which I don't eat as I loathe cucumbers); stuffed grape leaves; fried phylo dough stuffed with some kind of yummy cheese; octupus salad; a feta-like cheese; smoked and pureed eggplant; ezme (tomatoes and onion and other things, whirred together); lamb sausages; pita bread; and, mucver (yummy fried zuccini pancakes). I seriously think I may have left something off the list but I cannot remember what it is. All of this was great with the raki.

With the meze out of the way, we got down to some more serious eating.

I think that our hosts were surprised by our knowledge of Turkish food in general and thought that we chose our main courses well. My wife and I and one of our hosts, had grilled lamb sliced thinly from an upright spit and served over smoked eggplant puree. I think that the eggplant is called hunkar and here is a good looking recipe for it. The other person in our party had manti, those lovely little dumplings in a yogurt sauce. We drank a bottle of Turkish wine which was quite good, but a little thin, maybe, unlike any of us after we rolled out of the restaurant.

Dessert was actually attempted by the women in the group, thus proving that woman are the stronger sex. Or more prone to eating disorders. Whichever. They had stuffed apricots and some honey, walnut pastry, the name of which escapes me. The restaurant also brought us a plate of beautifully cut fruit. Our friends tell us that this is standard practice on Turkey but we had never experienced this before. It was, I thought, a reflection on the amount of money our hosts may have spent, but that just may be a typical NY cynisism coming to the fore.

Either way, it was a lovely meal with great company. Time flew by and before we knew it, two and half hours had elapsed.

I love Turkish food and my experiences in Turkish restaurants has always been good. There was one around the corner from our apartment when we lived on the Upper East Side and only had one child. We used to go there regularly and when we did, we would go early with the baby. We would sit down and not really see the baby much until we were ready to leave because there was always one or two young women working as waitresses who would grab the baby to play with as soon as we sat down. It was just so friendly. I sure do miss that place.

PS: WordPerfect must be broken. It has not identified one single spelling error in the above post. That is not possible.

Posted by Random Penseur at 10:11 AM | Comments (2)

October 12, 2004

Soup is Good Food

I am bad at being sick. Some people are good at it. My wife, for example, is a great sick person. She doesn't let it slow her down at all. I, on the other hand, generally will wallow in my sickitude. I am miserable. I moan. I like to be both left alone and taken care of. Mostly, I want soup. I also mostly prefer my own cooking. I am sick, right now. It is inconvenient to be sick now. I have to be in Philadelphia tomorrow and in Court later in the week. Happily, I had soup I made last week. I am going to reproduce the little recipe here both because I think others might like it and because I don't want to forget how to make it.

It was simple. I took a bag of broccoli flowerets (the pre cut up stuff you normally cook by throwing the bag in the microwave), one red pepper (I cut up), 1 hot, green chili pepper (they said it was serrano but I thought it may have been jalapeno and mis-labeled), and one really big can of low fat and low sodium chicken broth and brought it all to a boil. I added some cumin, maybe a teaspoon, some sea salt and some fresh ground pepper. I let it cook away for at least 10 minutes, which was enough time to cook the vegetables. I took it off the heat and stuck the puree wand in and zapped it. Then back on the heat for the flavors to come together. Then back off the heat for some heavy cream.

It was very yummy and the chili pepper gave it a great kick. This was a perfect weekday soup to make since, start to finish, it was a half an hour.

There are some things I might do differently, next time or if I had more time. I might have sauteed some onions and all of the vegetables first. I also might have thrown in some fresh ginger and a smashed garlic clove or two. I also might have used sour cream or yogurt instead of the heavy cream. Or even maybe buttermilk.

If I have time tonight, there will be more soup. Because we all know, soup is good food.

Posted by Random Penseur at 11:49 AM | Comments (6)