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Recover the American kitchen.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pineapple magic trick.

Pineapple is the universal symbol of hospitality. This is a magic trick I was taught by Chef Eric Watson. It looks like a Ham but it ain't. Get out your blow-torch. Takes a bit of time but oh my is it worth it.

Mise en place:

One whole pineapple. Take off the top and all sides.

a large quantity of cinnamon-sugar ( about 3 cups)
plastic wrap, lots
a serrated knife


blow-torch, yep I said it

Sauce:
Half a bag of frozen raspberries
About 1 TB of cinnamon-sugar
Scant pinch salt. Wire mesh strainer

Palmiers:
1 sheet of puff-pastry. Rolled out.
some more cinnamon-sugar
baking sheet and a 400 degree oven

one large pot for the pineapple

one small pot for sauce

 n'kay, so we took off all the crap off our pineapple right?
Roll it and pack on the cinnamon-sugar. 

Wrap it in plastic tightly. Let's pretend that it carries a zombie-virus. 
 Put it into some hot water, bring to a boil and take it back down to just hot for 5 hours. Seriously. 
see ya, in like 5 hours

Le Palmier. 
Yes I have made puff-pastry by hand, no, nobody has to anymore. 
 Pepperidge Farms. Look in the frozen section of your local grocery store. I always, always have some in my freezer, you just never know. take out one sheet and let it come to room temp before you unroll it. 
Alls ya gotta do is unroll it and dump some cinnamon-sugar on it. Take up both sides and roll it up into the middle. 


Grab your knife and start slicing across, about 1/3 inch. Squeeze it together when you can. 
look how pretty
Place each slice on a baking sheet. You won't have to grease it. 'cus like duhhh puff pastry is flour and butter. 

Put in a 400 degree oven, keep your eye on it, do not do not leave the kitchen. Let bake for about 6 minutes. Once browned, remove from oven. Wasn't that fun?? Puff-pastry was invented by accident when a rookie cook forgot to put butter into his tart dough. He then folded the fat by layer into the dough and we now are blessed with this lovely little gem. 

'kay, let's do the sauce
take your handful of frozen raspberries, add some sugar and place all in a small pot over high heat
once heated thru, take off heat and dump into a wire-strainer. 

Force thru to remove all the seeds and YIPEE you just made Sauce Framboise !! (Raspberry sauce for those of you who didn't surrender.)

 Now comes the part with the blow-torch. My favorite kitchen tool. 

 Test the pineapple, stick a meat fork in it. If there is any resistance (like the French), Let it go for another hour or so. Once completely tender to the core. Remove and let drain over a colander. 


Un-wrap and let cool. Put it into the freezer if you are in a hurry. 
Light your blow-torch. Using a meat fork thru the center. Toast the outsides as carefully as you can. 
burn baby burn disco inferno

So do you get the special effects? We have a loaf shaped object with caramelized outsides. Guess what we do now?
Place pineapple on a flat surface and with a serrated knife (hold with a meat fork) make one way slashes across the surface. Then turn it and do the same again. 

Ain't it just the prettiest? 

Slice it the same way you would a ham. Serve with the sauce and some of the palmier. 

with some hibiscus flower.

I know this took a lot of your time, but it's worth it isn't it ? We cook poor but eat rich. 

Go get your grub on. Ciao.




Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I'm scared of my tomato plant. Green Tomato Ketchup-Catsup. Whatever.

 Scared yes. Did you ever see the movie "The Ruins?" I'm going to wake up one morning and the damned thing is going to be eating my legs.
 I started two plants from seeds in January. Usually I don't have much luck here in Phoenix with tomato. Our spring goes from mild to radioactive within 30 days. Not this year.
 We've had a long- long cool, wet spring. The plants got beyond huge. They grew over their cages and now drape over all sides cascading with fruit.
 Disaster. About 2 weeks before Memorial Day we had a crazy rain and wind storm that blew over one of my cages and broke one plant off at the stem. I had all this unripe fruit of different sizes in danger of going to waste. Most unsuitable for fried green tomato simply because it was too small. What could I do to rescue them??? Good friggin' question. 
 Luckily I'm me and had some old cookbooks that provided answers. "Joy of Cooking" from 1960 and "Betty Crocker" from 1962. Back when cookbooks were written by and for  home-cooks not by stupid celebrities for rich folks' coffee tables. 
 The art of preserving is not dead. Heck, I found everything I needed in my neighborhood store. Bet you can too. Stupid easy. Just takes some time and effort. 

CHEF NICK'S ZESTY GREEN TOMATO KETCHUP (catsup) whatever. 

Mise en place: All about ratios. 

 I love my deep cast-iron pot. I know you love yours too. Do not do not use it for cooking the tomatoes. Why? It's composition will react to the acids we're playing with and create a bitter mass of yuck. Use a stainless steel, porcelain or enamel pot. 

I used about 5 pounds of green tomatoes so...
1 large red onion, cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic, peeled
3 jalapeno peppers de-stemmed,  including seeds. Entirely optional.
1 cup of Kosher salt
1 pound dark brown sugar
2 TB pickling spice* more about this later
a square of cheese-cloth

 White Vinegar and Cider Vinegar. I used half and half of each

4 jars. Ball Mason is a great brand. The lids have a fool-proof dimple that lets you know when it's sealed. 
Food processor 
1 big pot, big enough to hold jars and lids
1 large pot for cooking
Wire strainer. 

OK, put all your jars and lids in a big pot. Cover over 2 inches with water and put it over high heat. We need to sterilize them. Bring to boil, let it simmer, let it go for 30 minutes. Leave them in water until we're ready. 


 Slice your green tomatoes thick. 

See? like I said, all different sizes

 Put tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt and jalapeno peppers in a large pot. Add vinegar until just covered. Add pickling spice tied in cheese-cloth. Bring ALMOST to a boil (but don't boil them) then turn down your heat to LOW. Let this steep for 4 hours. 

  O WAIT. We need some words here. 

 *PICKLING SPICE. No, you don't have to make this from your own spice supply. It's available commercially. It usually includes allspice, bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, coriander, mustard seeds, dill seeds and peppercorns. Whole or crumbled. 

 Gather some (2TB) into a square of cheesecloth. Tie up into a sack. 
oo look it's my handy-pandy

 Look for a transparency in the tomatoes and onions.

 Once you've achieved that. Remove sack of picking spice. Pour out carefully any remaining liquid, reserve one cup just in case. 

 I love my food-processor. My Mom and Dad gave it to me for Christmas years ago, I use it almost every week. 

 Using the grinding blades. Work a ladle full at a time and grind your mess until smooth. you cannot fuck this up. If it seems too thick; it won't but just in case it does, add a little of your reserved liquid. 
  Remove to a large bowl. Here comes the bitch part. We need to strain this out to remove any skins and seeds. CHINOIS time. 
Place your wire strainer over your now-empty pot that you cooked everything in. By ladle full start straining your mess. Use a spatula and PRESS. 
start 

sorta done

what you removed

  OK, so the bitch part is really a bitch but now you've got a smooth product back in your pot right? RIGHT? 
 Put your pot back over medium heat and add the brown sugar. 


 Stir until sugar dissolves. 
Now it's time to jar up your mess. 
 Remove one jar at a time and ladle the ketchup (catsup) while hot. Screw on lid. 

Place jars with lid back into hot water (off heat) for 5 minutes. Remove and let sit somewhere outside of drafts until the dimple on top the lids is completely depressed. 
 You're done. 
 Seriously


The rose was from one of my neighbors. The note says "thanks for all the tomatoes"


Store it at room temperature or if you insist, in the fridge until needed. Use it just as you would regular commercial ketchup (catsup). I had it with my Birthday steak, butter-roasted mushrooms with tater-tots. That's right, I love tater-tots. The only processed food you're ever likely to see me eat. 
And O yes, it was my Birthday this week. 



Why yes, there IS a candle on my steak. 
 Now with love. Go get your grub on. CIAO.




here's some pics of the very coolest present I got. Thank you Maggie Mom. 

awww you think THAT'S COOL? wait for it....

To Nick with warmest wishes on your birthday. Maggie Mom rules. I love you.