richardf8: (Eating)
The shakshuka at Cafe Hillel leaves one feeling nostalgic, so I've been tinkering with the concept and after a couple of tries came up with this. It doesn't have much in the way of exotic spicing, but goes from kitchen to table with about 5 minute's knifework and 30 minutes stovetop.

Simple Shakshuka

One medium onion, medium dice.
1C Non-Green Bell Peppers, medium dice.
One Can (28 oz/800g) diced or crushed tomatoes.
A splosh of lemon juice (probably two Tbsp)
Four eggs.
One clove garlic, minced
One half tsp Salt
One half tsp Black Pepper
Olive or Grapeseed oil sufficient to saute in a 10" pan

Heat a 10" pan (I prefer cast iron for this) and add oil.
Saute the onions with the salt and black pepper.
As they become translucent, and the garlic, then the peppers.
Deglaze with the lemon juice, then add the tomatoes.
Simmer uncovered to reduce the liquid by about half.
Break the 4 eggs over the sauce and cover until eggs reach desired doneness (tradition dictates a set white with a runny yolk-about 4 minutes).

Serve with Pita or Challah. A garnish of steamed spinach creates a nice contrast on the plate

Serves 2. Parve.
richardf8: (Eating)
It's the day where the Hillel at Glasgow University makes kosher Haggis. Not difficult, really, given that Haggis is basically sheep entrails and grain, but there's always lots of discussion of it over there. You kind of need to have a good relationship with the abbatoir though so you can get a kashered sheep's stomach.

One day I'll try my hand at Haggis, I suppose, but I want to talk about about something similar. Stuffed Kishke. I made stuffed Kishka today (appropriate to Robbie Burns day in its way I reckon) following a recipe I learned from my teacher Rob Portnoe. The recipe goes very much like this:

1 Package of Ritz crackers or equivalent (ideal to find something Parve (ritually neutral with respect to separation of milk and meat))
4 Tbsp of a parve fat.
5 large Carrots
3 Stalks of celery
1 large onion
Salt and Pepper to taste.

To his teaching I add

4 leaves of fresh sage.

Grind the fat, crackers, and dry spices finely in a food processor. Decant to mixing bowl. Grind the veg in the food processor quite finely. Add to cracker mixture. Knead it all together so it is well blended, form into logs (its better than bad, its good!) and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Put your foil wrapped logs on a baking sheet and bake at 375F for 75 minutes. Let cool. At this point, I rewrap and freeze so I can use it at my leisure, slicing and frying it up when I'm fixing Shabbos dinner.

Now that that's before you (and recorded here so that I won't be at sea if I lose Rob's sheet), lets have fun with language.

Kishkes is a Yiddish word meaning "guts." Literally. So stuffed Kishke should and did mean a beef intestine stuffed with stuffing. The recipe I give above is a contemporary filling. Earlier, more traditional recipes might have made use of some organ meats, would have used chicken fat (schmaltz) rather than a parve shortening or margarine, etc.

But you will note, from the recipe, that no actual kishkes are used. The thing being stuffed is aluminum foil. One might find Parchment called for instead. This recipe is parve, and can be made Vegan with little effort. And when one speaks of Kishke today this is what one means. 20 years ago, if you ordered Kishke in a deli, you got it stuffed in a beef casing. The casing was the Kishke, and the stuff you actually ate was the stuff you actually ate. Now the Kishke has been cast off, and the word "kishke" has come to refer strictly to the stuffing.

The shift is sufficiently complete that one can get from Empire Poultry a Kishke stuffed-boneless chicken breast (similar in concept to chicken Kiev, but stuffed with, well, kishke instead of fat-n-scallions).

This happens, quite simply, because beef intestine is hard for the consumer to come by, and the product wouldn't be parve if it were, and people tended to regard the stuffing as the point of the dish, so that was the thing that became what the word kishke signified in the culinary sense.
richardf8: (Default)
I braised some endive Sunday because I've always wondered what endives are for, and I came across the idea in a British cookbook I ran across in the bookstore. I didn't by the book, or even memorize the recipe, but I held onto the idea. Ultimately, what I did was to brown 8 endives in butter, deglaze with 2C chicken stock and 3oz Lemon Juice. Parked that in a slow oven for a couple hours. They came out really good, but I think I used more liquid than was necessary; I wound up wasting quite a bit of it.

They were a nice side with my Buffalo Burgers Caprese, which I make by cooking bison patties on a griddle with Balsamic Vinegar, a touch of Tabasco and a little grapeseed oil, adorning them with minced fresh basil layered with many thin slices of tomato and topped with a slice of mozzarella, served on grilled multigrain muffins. There was about one half of a medium sized tomato on each.
richardf8: (Default)
1. Are you a vegetarian? Vegan?

No, a carnivorous Earthling.

2. What's your favorite food?

It varies, but its hard to go worng with Jewish Deli Food or Pho.

3. White bread or whole wheat?

Whole wheat. And rye.

4. What's for breakfast?

Cereal with milk. Maybe an egg breakfast on Sunday

5. You're making a Dagwood sandwich. What's in it?

Various kinds of deli meats - salami, pastrami, , turkey, - on rye bread. With mustard. Perhaps Tomatoes, Avocadoes and some cheese.

6. What's on your pizza?

Any three of Mushrooms. Artichokes, Spinach, Anchovies, Roasted Garlic, Goat Cheese, Basil, Fresh Tomatoes

7. Coffee, tea, milk, or soda?


8. Dark, milk, or white chocolate?

The darker the better.

9. Teetotal, beer, wine, or hard liquor?

Red Wine with meaty dishes, Rose with fish, Beer with sandwiches, Single malt with Brownies.

10. Does cilantro taste like citrus, or like soap?

It's what they feed you in Gehinnom.

11. Is chorizo the greatest thing ever or is it totally disgusting?

I've never had it. Is there a kosher version now?

12. Do you use garlic like a vegetable or like a spice?

It depends on the recipe.

13. Onions: raw, cooked, or not at all?

Depends on the onion type and the dish.

14. Does broccoli taste sweet or bitter?

It tastes like Broccoli. I like it will enough that I'm planning to grow some this year.

15. How do you feel about fish?

Not fond of it cooked. A salmon fillet with the right treatment can be OK. I like Sushi

16. How about sushi?

See above.

17. Fave ethnic cuisine?

Pretty eclectic - everything from Ashkenazic deli food to Indian to Vietnamese to Middle Eastern. So long as it can be made with clean animals, I'll try it.

18. What's your favorite fruit

Clementines. Figs. Bananas. Sometimes grapes.

19. Cheese - thumbs up or thumbs down? How about blue cheese?

Like cheese, mold allergies means avoiding Bleus though/

20. Finally, favorite dessert?

Something with Chocolate.
richardf8: (Eating)
My plan for this Shabbat, after having a perfectly harried Erev Shabbat/Rosh Hashanah is to come straight home from work (No stop for Challah - I have another plan - or Kiddush Wine - secured that tonight, or dessert - I will be home baking it) and get finishing a meal I just started.

The centerpiece is a Kosher* Cajun Bean soup.

2 Medium Onions, diced
3 Stalks celery, diced
2 biggish carrots, diced
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
3 smallish Chipotle peppers, sliced. (This is what gives the soup its characteristic smoked flavor in lieu of ham)
2 Andouille Sausage (Neshama makes Glatt Kosher Chicken ones.)
1 can of Kidney Beans
1 can of White Beans (Great northern or Cannellini)
1 can of Black Beans
(I like the tri-color effect this yields)
4 Cans Chicken Broth**
Fresh Ground Pepper

Saute in a bit of Canola oil the onions, carrots and celery. Add the garlic and chipotles just after the onions have begun to become translucent. Continue to saute until the garlic starts to become golden. DO NOT allow the garlic to carmelize; that will not be a welcome flavor in this dish.

Dump saute into 4 quart crock pot.

Drain and rinse beans. Dump in crock pot.

Slice Andouille Sausage. Dump in crock pot.

Mix the ingredients in the crock pot carefully. A silicone spatula works well; canned beans are delicate.

Add 4 cans of Chicken Broth.

Now at this point I've put the crock-liner in the fridge. Tomorrow, before I leave for work, I will put it into its heater and set it to low. Watch this space for results regarding the edibility of my efforts.

For the rest of the meal:

Maple Biscuits to accompany the soup
Bread pudding for dessert

*In the interest of full disclosure, my practice when it comes to Kashrut is basically "don't eat forbidden animals." That said, Neshama makes a lovely, Glatt Kosher Chicken Andouille sausage that will quite well in this recipe. I use an organic Turkey Andouille sausage from Wellshire farms. All other ingredients are fleishig or parve.

**Yes, I use canned broth. It has served me well over the years for those who use fresh, this amounts to approximately 8 cups.


Jun. 30th, 2005 09:25 am
richardf8: (Default)
Cheerios, Carrot Juice and an English Muffin.

I like Carrot Juice.
richardf8: (Default)
Why am I thinking that Kimchi and Cream Cheese on Challah would make a good sandwich?

2003 Redux.

Jan. 1st, 2004 09:16 pm
richardf8: (Default)
Today as I was leaving work I cleared my desk of the papers and vessels that accumulated over the past three days, so that I would have a clean desk to come into come Monday. A year ago today I performed a similar task, but for a different reason: It was the last day of my assignment to a food processing company, and it was my final clearing out of my stuff. On December 31 2002 I donned my coat, shut the lights, and stepped off the precipice into an uncertain future. 2003 brought me another six months of unemployment, with a brief stint at a construction design company for flavor. Finally, in July, I landed where I am now - a health insurance loss control company. It's not my ideal place, but cleaning a desk I would be coming back to in 2004 was certainly an improvement over last year's leap at the abyss. So I am grateful to have four days off in which I can relax rather than too many days off filled with anxiety.

2003 was a strange year for that. When [ profile] morgan1 and I tilled the ground and planted our tomato seedlings, zucchini seedling and leek sprouts in the spring, we had no idea if we would still be on this land in the fall to taste those home-grown tomatoes, Zucchini and full grown leeks. She had been laid off two days before Christmas, 2002. After passing seven anxiety ridden months coming up with all sorts of contingency plans, though, we each stumbled into our current jobs; the home grown tomatoes found their way into salads, appetizers, and Morgan and I. (Mostly Morgan; her love of tomatoes is immoderate, perhaps even a little intemperate). The leeks were roasted, braised and stewed for many a Shabbat dinner, and even put in a curtain call in the stuffing at Thanksgiving. The zucchini met a similar fate, spending much of the summer being grilled and served with vinagrette alongside tuna steaks and cod fillets. It too made an appearance, as zucchini bread, on the Thanksgiving table, having been sliced and frozen expressly for the purpose. That's important to us, having produce from the garden on our table at Thanksgiving. Especially so since this year was so difficult that planting the garden was a tremendous leap of faith. But it doesn't end there, for tonight we will be sipping sparkling cider made from the pitted fruit of our senescent Bartlett pear tree. Our land has been kind to us, and we have escaped being cloven from it.

Cat-Tharsis went from concept to reality this year too. Much of my time unemployed was spent developing the concept, developing my artwork (which still bites, but has been improving) and developing the software that runs the site. I thank [ profile] kevinjdog and [ profile] rain_luong for the inspiration, [ profile] morgan1 for all the help with world building and artistic guidance, and Unit423 of If Then Else for the advice and encouragement. And I further thank [ profile] kevinjdog for a variety of opportunities to exercise my creative faculties. They've really kept the juices flowing.

What really got Cat-Tharsis out of development and onto the web was the need to celebrate the life and mourn the passing of Morgan's cat Rodent Baby. When I drew this strip I knew I had to display it, so that was the impetus for going live. Rodent was a high strung little cat, bound to hiss, growl, and spit at every tomcat she's met, but very loving and even a bit needy. Morgan had Rodent longer than she's had any other creature currently living with her, myself included, so the loss was, indeed, profound. Rodent herself seemed content to go, and, we think, has even given her blessing to the kitten, Maeve, that came into our lives in October.

All in all this has been a year of want and of bounty, of death and of life, of turning corners, renegotiating old friendships and forging new ones. I can't really say I'm sorry to see it goes, but I'm curious what the new one will bring; I am greeting it with greater hope than I've had in a while.
richardf8: (Default)
There is a new strip mall opening across the street from my workplace. The bright side of this is that, for the first time since 1999, I can go out to eat without having to use the car. On the other hand, this strip mall is exemplary of the cultural ennui that is Minnesota in general and Eden Prairie in particular.

I took my lunch at a place called Bear Rock Cafe. I was greeted with a standard greeting of "Welcome to Bear Rock Cafe, may I take your order please." It was parroted to perfection by an order taker who had very clearly had it impressed upon him that the inclusion of the words "Bear Rock Cafe" was an essential component of the corporate branding strategy. I placed my order for a passable Roast Beef on Foccaccia sandwich quaintly named "The Rockslide," picked it up and took it to a booth to eat.

The decor of the place is something I have come to think of as Jack London Modern, designed to evoke the image of the Great White North, of lumberjacks and trappers in heavy woolen flannels coming in from a hard days work for a hearty meal and a swapping of tall tales around the fire. Under the true ceiling of flat-black painted duct work and girders, was an open ceiling of knotty pine. Knotty pine logs engineered to look as if they had been hewn and set there by some Daniel Boone served also as railings, room dividers, and support struts for the open ceiling. At the center of the room, some comfy chairs were arranged around a simulacral fireplace in which gas flames pretended to burn stone wood. Over the fireplace a color photo of a Grizzly Bear seizing a salmon from some Alaskan river hung. Elsewhere, Ansel Adams prints did their best to evoke feelings of Wild Places. And completing the feel was an array of antler chandeliers, whose perfect symmetry and occasional seam betrayed their origins in an injection mold.

The illusion found its way onto the menu as well, where, in addition to the quaint names for specialty sandwiches, the word "Grub" replaced the word "Food" at every instance, and children's meals were called "Cub Kits."

As I took it all in, I wondered where this was all based. Were they a local company (where I live, Red Lobster and Olive Garden are, strictly speaking, local businesses), or were they, like Starbuck's, an emanation from the Pacific Northwest? Well, the ultimate insult came from the potato chips which were "manufactured exclusively for Bear Rock Foods, Raleigh, NC."

Now call me provincial if you must, but people who close their schools when rumors of a snowflake are heard two counties over have no business trying to create the North Woods Experience in a Minnesota strip mall. If I want a simulacrum of a trappers lodge, I'll go to Caribou Coffee, where they at least have the good humor to mount the head of a Caribou Plushie over their imitation fireplace. And, of course, a drive up Highway 169 to Ely, MN gets me the real thing - cabins hewn from the very wood that was cleared for their construction.

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