20 February 2006

Blood Orange Curd

Zest from 6 blood oranges (if blood oranges are unavailable, use any type of tangerines or clementines)
8 ounces blood orange juice, strained (6-8 oranges or tangerines)
6 eggs
6 yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
8 ounces butter

Bring a pot of water to a simmer. In a bowl fitted atop the pot, combine eggs, sugar, yolks, zest and vanilla. Whisk well until mixture starts to warm. Add orange juice and allow to thicken, whisking occasionally. When mixture coats the back of a spoon thickly, it is ready.

Take off the heat and purée it well with an immersion blender and pass it through a fine-meshed strainer. Allow to cool to room temperature. Add butter in pieces and whisk or blend with the immersion blender until smooth.

06 February 2006

saffron mussel soup

4 lb mussels
3 cups water
3 cups dry white wine
1/4 - 1/2 stick butter
1 T olive oil
1/2 c onion, finely chopped
3-5 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, finely shredded
1 t fenugreek, finely crushed
3 T flour
4 grams saffron threads, soaked in 1/4 c boiling water
3 cups chicken stock
2 T fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3 T whipping cream

scrub mussels clean in several changes of fresh water and pull off beards. discard any mussels that are cracked or do not close tightly when tapped.

put mussels into a deep saucepan with wine and water. cover and cook over high heat, shaking pan frequently, 6-7 minutes or until shells open. remove mussels, discarding any which remain closed. strain liquid through a fine sieve and reserve.

heat butter and oil in a saucepan. add onion, garlic, leek and fenugreek and cook gently 5 minutes. stir in flour and cook 1 minute. add saffron mixture, 1/2 gal. of reserved cooking liquid and chicken stock. bring to a boil, cover and simmer gently 15 minutes.

meanwhile, remove mussels from shells. add all mussels to soup and stir in chopped parsley, salt, pepper and cream. heat through 2-3 minutes.

garnish with parsley sprigs, if desired, and serve hot.

guacamole our way

avocados, two medium to large
red bell pepper, one small or half a large
two to three scallions,
garlic, one or two cloves
cilantro, around a quarter cup, lightly packed
red pepper flakes
lime juice

cut the avocados in half, remove the pit, and use whatever method you want to remove the flesh. cut into small chunks and immediately squeeze half a lime on top. mash lightly together with a fork.

finely dice the bell pepper. split the scallions all the way up the white part to the light green part and finely chop. either mince the garlic by hand, or use a garlic press. add garlic, pepper, and scallions to avocado. sprinkle lightly with salt and red pepper flakes. finely chop the cilantro and add half of it. mix with a fork, continuing to mash to desired consistency.

here's the tricky part--adding seasoning--salt, lime juice, pepper flakes, cilantro, and even more garlic to suit your taste. we usually end up using a teaspoon of salt, about a lime and a half, at least half a teaspoon of pepper flakes, a tablespoon of cilantro and two cloves of garlic for two good sized avocados.

yogurt blue cheese dip

plain yogurt, preferably made with whole milk, 3/4-1 c
mayonnaise, regular or light, 2-3 T
crumbled gorgonzola, stilton, or other blue cheese, 2 oz or to taste
fresh garlic, 1 clove
scallions, white and green parts of 2-3, roughly chopped
fresh ground black pepper to taste

combine all in food processer and whiz around til combined. if you do not use whole milk yogurt, this will be really runny (hey, whole milk yogurt is still better for you than sour cream). cottage cheese would also work for some of the dairy, and would probably result in a thicker dip. this has a very strong garlic/scallion bite to it, so you might not want to add all of them until you've mixed and tasted a couple times.

you could deliberately make this on the runny side and it would make fine salad dressing.

great with crudite, might be good with fries, but probably not so good with potato chips.

braised short ribs in a coffee-ancho chili sauce

based closely on this from Epicurious.

this looks complicated, but it's really not, and there isn't as much prep time as you'd think. mostly you want to start it enough ahead of time to let the ribs get to falling-off-the-bone-tenderness.

4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and ribs discarded
3 dried chipotle chiles, stemmed and seeded
guajillo and/or pasilla chiles, to taste, stemmed and seeded**
2 c boiling-hot water
1 medium onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 T pure maple syrup
3 T fresh lime juice
3 T tomato paste
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t cumin
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground coriander
3-4 lb beef short ribs or flanken
fresh ground black pepper
kosher salt
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1/2 c strongly brewed coffee, preferably latin american
1/2 c red wine (optional-substitute water if not using)
2 cubes lamb bouillon

put chiles in heat proof bowl and pour hot water over them. steep for 20 minutes. meanwhile, combine onion, garlic, maple syrup, lime juice, tomato paste, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, and coriander in a blender or food processor. drain chiles in colander over a bowl. reserve a cup of the soaking liquid and taste (carefully--it will be very spicy!). if liquid is unpleasantly bitter, discard it. if not, and you want these to be spicy, reserve for braising. add softened chiles to food processor and puree. this will not taste good yet, but you may want to taste for salt and adjust.

preheat oven to 350º­. pat ribs dry, season both sides with salt and pepper. in a heavy skillet, heat oil on medium-high until hot but not smoking. brown ribs in batches, turning occasionally, around 5 minutes a batch. transfer to a roasting pan just big enough to hold ribs in 1 layer.

turn the heat down to medium-low and carefully add puree. cook for a few minutes, and add bouillon cubes to a cup and a half of hot water, or to the chile-soaking-water. stir bouillon, coffee and wine (if using) into puree, and bring to a boil. stir well and then pour over meat. liquid should come at least halfway up sides of the meat. if it doesn't, add water or bouillon until it does.

cover pan tightly with foil and braise ribs in the middle of the oven until very tender; this will probably take at least three hours. using a heavy casserole dish may speed this up considerably, but I used a regular lightweight nonstick roasting/lasagna pan. important: check the ribs a couple times to make sure you don't need to add more liquid--they will burn if the liquid cooks down too much.

skim fat from pan juices and serve juices with ribs. ribs improve in flavor if braised a day or two ahead. cool, uncovered, then chill, surface covered with parchment paper or wax paper and roasting pan covered with foil. remove any solidified fat before reheating.

serves 3-4(?) (depends on how thick the ribs are). was excellent served over polenta, but would also be good with garlic potatoes.

**chile notes:
  • ancho - dried poblano chile, ranging in color from green to red. sweet, yet moderately hot.
  • chipotle - dried jalapeno pepper that has been smoked. usually very hot, it is also sweet, and chocolatey.
  • guajillo - a dried deep red chile with a tough skin, actually a Mirasol chile variety. medium heat; it has an earthy flavor with plum and raisin tones.
  • pasilla - a dried fresh Chilaca chile. medium to hot with berry and tobacco flavor tones.