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Caroline's kitchen shelf. A cook's collection of kitchen essentials
When I am London I find myself hanging out in Caroline's kitchen for hours at a time, catching up with Caroline and Tyler, her son, my step son, and watching her cook. She updates me on their lives, her travels, and the latest cookbook she is working from. She is a wonderful cook. Her cookbook collection is so large, it's like being in a library. This time, Tyler was away in Turkey working so I didn't see him but I got to meet his girlfriend Emmalina. That was a treat.
Hazelnuts from Becavin hanging on the wall
Even though Baron's Court is in London, I feel like I can be in the country when I am at Caroline's house. It is very rustic - like an extension of her country house in Brittany. In the hallway leading to the kitchen, there is a row of jars full jams that Caroline made with Quince, Medlar, and Plum trees from her garden. "I have so many I don't know what to do with them. "Take some home," Caroline offers. I am eyeing for the quince. My favorite. We had the quince jam with cheeses I brought back from Sicily, and again with toast the next morning. I have never cooked with Quince before but when I get home, I am going to try this Quince jelly recipe that Caroline gave me.
Caroline's homemade bread. Our mutual friend, Fred, called it Hippie bread. It's whole grain.
Recipe for Quince Jelly:
* 2 lbs of quinces
* 1 lemon (just the juice, sieved)
* white granulated sugar
* water to cover Method:
1. Wash and roughly chop the quinces (no need to peel, decore or depip) and place in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
2. Barely cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently with a lid on until soft. If the quinces are very firm this could take several hours. Check it every now and then and add more water if necessary.
3. Pour the cooked fruit through sterilised muslin into a large clean bucket or bowl The muslin is often referred to as a “jelly bag”. We use tall buckets to catch the drips from the jelly bags. Rather than hang the bags (conventional method-between the legs of an upturned stool) I find it easier to line a large plastic sieve with the muslin. This clips neatly onto the top of a clean bucket. The sieve is covered with a clean tea cloth to protect against flies.
4. Leave the jelly bag to drip overnight (or about 12 hours).
5. Measure the juice the next day.
6. Pour the juice into a deep heavy bottomed saucepan and add 1lb/454g of white granulated sugar for each 1pt/570ml of juice.
7. Add the lemon juice.
8. Heat the juice and sugar gently stirring from time to time, so as to make sure that that all the sugar has dissolved before bringing the liquid slowly to the boil.
9. Continue to boil for about 10 minutes before testing for a set. This is called a rolling boil. Test every 3 to 5 minutes until setting point is reached. (What is testing for a set? See tips and tricks below). Tossing in a nugget of butter towards the end will reduce the frothing that can occur.
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|Posted on August 28, 2009 at 4:45 PM||comments (1)|
Sushi Ginger - Gari
I am in the mood to peel today. It's the new ginger I found at the Asian market that got me thinking about making Gari, Sushi Ginger. I have a lot of ginger to peel but new ginger, shin shoga, is as easy to peel as potatoes.
I saw this young ginger at the Tsukiji market in Tokyo this
summer. What you can find in the Asian markets are similar
I have another reason why I am in the mood to peel. I just got this new peeler. A good kitchen tool is the cook's best friend. This peeler comes from Tokyu Hands in Shibuya.The peeler is light and handy but most of all, Incredibly sharp. I can shred cabbage at nearly the speed of lightening. It comes with two other blades for making matchsticks in different sizes. How I got to buying this peeler is my usual story. I was watching a salesman at Tokyu Hands do a demonstration with the peeler. If you go to any department store in Japan, you will always find a salesman in the household department trying to sell you something you probably already have but better. He was talking about liberating you from the toils of kitchen serfdom. He showed all sorts of tricks using the peeler to cut daikon, tomato, onion, cabbage. I am a sucker for good performance artists. You don't know how many peelers, grinders, knives, pots I was fooled into buying based on a ively pitch. So far, this peeler is for real. I love it.
I peeled all this ginger in a matter of minutes.
Sushi Ginger is easy to make at home and much better for you because it doesn't contain any food colorings or additives like the commercial ones often do. Sushi ginger also goes well with grilled fish and cold Chinese noodles (Hiyashi Chuka). You can make a batch and find good use for it.
Sushi Ginger - Gari
Makes 3/4 cup of pickled ginger
12 oz Fresh ginger, peeled
1/3 tsp salt
Sweet vinegar (Amasu) dressing
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
In a medium saucepan, bring the salt, sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn off heat. Add the vinegar.
Peel the ginger to make long and thin wide shavings, about 1/8 inch thick and 2 to 3 inches long. I use a Japanese peeler that makes this step very easy. (see picture above) You can also use a knife to slice the ginger.
Bring a medium sauce pan with water to a boil. Add the sliced ginger. Drain. While the ginger is still hot, add 1/3 tsp of salt and toss together.
Transfer the sliced ginger into a glass container or jar and pour the Amasu, Sweet vinegar dressing. Cover tightly. Marinate the ginger for 3-4 hours.
Best eaten after 2--3 days in the pickling jar but you can start eating it in a half a day.
Keeps for a couple weeks.
The blade is slanted, can you see?
|Posted on August 27, 2009 at 2:31 AM||comments (0)|
Cucumber, turnip and carrots take a plunge into the ice water
It's been just too hot and dry in Southern California. I miss the rain and pray for clouds everyday. Even my vegetables in the garden could use a little cooler weather. In the late afternoons, the cucumbers look a bit limp from the heat. So today, I decided to give them an ice break. They went for a plunge in a bowl of ice water. I'd like to take a plunge myself.
I made quick pickles, Asazuke, (it is the Japanese word for lightly pickled) with basically what I found in the fridge and garden - one carrot, 3 turnips and 2 Japanese cucumbers. You can also use cabbage, radishes, celery and peppers too. I thought these pickles will last over two or three days. But we ate most of it in one evening. They were good. I have to make some more.
You can use the leaves of the turnips, too.
There is no need to peel the turnips.
Cut the turnip and cucumbers thin but not too thin.
The carrots are cut in match sticks.
Sprinkle some chopped shiso as a garnish for extra flavor.
Quick Cucumber, Carrots and Turnip Pickles
2 Japanese cucumbers
1 medium size carrot
2 shiso leaves, sliced thinly (optional)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp salt
2 inch piece konbu seaweed, sliced, 1/4-inch wide
1 cup water (250 cc)
Don't peel the turnips. Slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick pieces.
Peel the cucumbers and slice them crosswise, 1/4-inch thick pieces.
Peel the carrot and make 2-inch matchsticks.
Soak the sliced konbu and salt in one cup of water. Put the mixture in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Turn off heat. Cool broth and set aside.
Sprinkle measured salt over sliced cucumbers, turnips and carrots. Let stand for 5 minutes to let the salt settle. Then gently mix (massage) the vegetables with your hand until water is extracted from the vegetables.
Put the vegetables in a zip log back. Make sure there are no air pockets. Press the vegetables by putting some weight on top for about 30 minutes. You can put a plate or cutting board on top and then a large can of tomatoes or something even heavier like a stone. That's what my grandmother used. The modern Japanese way to press vegetables is with a pickling device (see picture below). I've had mine for more than 20 years but it's as good as new. It comes with a lid so I can put it right in the fridge. You can find pickling devices at a Japanese market. They are great to have if you plan on making pickles, which I do regularly.
Japanese pickling device. It has a handle so you can also use
it to build some triceps if you like.
Prepare a bowl of water with ice and set aside.
In a saucepan, boil 3 cups of water. We will dump the hot water on the vegetables first, and then give them the ice bath. So go ahead and take the vegetables out of the zip lock bag or pickling container and put them in a strainer. Pour the hot water over the vegetables. Let stand for 5 to 10 seconds. This step will make the vegetables slightly limp. Then transfer the vegetables into the ice water with ice cubes and cool the vegetables quickly. This is to get them crispy and cold. Keep the vegetables in the ice bath for 10 seconds. Drain. Return them to the pickling device or zip log back along with the brine and press for additional 30 minutes or longer. Keep refreigerated.
To serve, lightly squeeze the water out of the pickles and sprinkle some chopped shiso leaves.
|Posted on August 19, 2009 at 4:57 PM||comments (0)|
A Japanese meal normally finishes with some kind of pickle and a bowl of rice. It's nice to save the pickles to the end because the saltiness ties the whole meal together. Pickles can be made with many vegetables - both root and leafy types. Some pickles can be quite salty for the western palate. Some can be rather sweet. This ways vegetables are pickled differ from region to region and from family to family. As for the pickles I made tonight, I wanted to see how dried peaches which I bought at the Farmers Market will work with turnips. It was a fun experiment. These were quick pickles that stayed in a vinegar mildly sweet dressing for about 1 hour. The dried peaches softened and added a lovely sweetness to the turnips. I enjoyed them. You can call these pickles, salad too. It's hard to draw a line between what is a pickle and what is a salad in Japan because salads were introduced to the country much later. I would call this one a hybrid.
Dried peaches from the Farmers Market.
Dried apricots will work with this recipe, too.
Very tender baby turnips
QUICK TURNIP PICKLES WITH DRIED PEACHES
Makes 4 servings
4 small baby turnips
1 tsp salt
3 dried peaches or apricots
2 Tbls water
2 Tbls Rice vinegar
1 Tbls Sugar (or maple sugar)
1/2 Tsp Salt
Peel the turnips and slice them lengthwise in halves. Then slice each half crosswise into 1/8 inch thick pieces. Rub in the salt until the turnip slices become tender. Rinse under water.
Slice the peaches or apricots thinly, about 1/4 inch thick pieces.
In a medium size bowl, mix the vinegar dressing ingredients. Squeeze out the excess water from the turnips and then add to the bowl. Also add the sliced peaches. Leave in the vinegar dressing for at least an hour. Keeps in the fridge for 2 or 3 days.
|Posted on June 30, 2009 at 1:48 AM||comments (1)|
One of the first pictures I took for the blog in May was my apricot tree. The fruit was still green then. I thought it would take between 6-8 weeks for the aprictos to ripen but 4 weeks later, here I am making apricot jam with the harvested fruit. I am leaving for Tokyo in a few days and I would like to take some jam back as a souvenir. The tree produced about 300 apricots this year. Raw, they tasted best when they were firm and still slightly on the green side. Riper, the fruit became sweeter but slightly mushy. This is the trouble with apricots. You love them but they don't quite deliver. So we picked most of the fruit slightly early and decided to try jam making with them.
Apricot butter cooling in the jars
Since I knew I couldn't get to the fruit right away, I froze the fresh picked apricots. Freezing is a good way to preserve certain fruit but you want to make sure they are clean, firm and not bruised. I found an apricot butter recipe in Joy of Cooking. I defrosted 8 lbs of apricots overnight and spent Saturday cooking the fruit in my big Le Creuset pot. When defrosted, the apricots go brown and look like they are about to melt but the flavor remains intact. The apricots were sweetened with sugar and spiced with cinnamon, allspice and clove but I found The Joy of Cooking recipe too generous with spices for my taste so I cut back. Also, since every fruit has different levels of acidity and sweetness . you have to be flexible about how much sugar and lemon juice to add. I kept tasting the apricot butter with a spoon. I's good to have a nice loaf of bread when you are making jam so you can try it on a piece of bread. I had a beautiful loaf of Brioche that Huckleberry gave me yesterday for free. They wouldn't let me pay for it because it was past 6 pm and the cash register was already closed. Got lucky. By the time I finished straining all the fruit, and tasting it, adjusting the spices, I felt tired. I decided this was more than a day's work. I let the apricot puree rest in the fridge for a couple of days. I came back to it and finished the rest of the recipe today. This was a good strategy. The apricot butter turned out nice and the spices were a good accent. I might make it without the spices next time and to keep it pure apricots with just a hint of lemon. I will see what my Japanese friends have to say about the apricot butter.