Search results for 'cheesemaking'

People Drop By From Time To Time… Part 5

30 Nov

The Granny Cart kitchen has been quiet, posting has been light, but that doesn’t mean people have stopped dropping by.

Lower Manhattan From The Promenade

Oh no. the human is a curious animal.

For a while I was confused why my favorite tomato bisque recipe was getting so much traffic, then I realized it’s because the recipe name includes the year it was created, 1907, and people are searching for what people ate 100 years ago. I think that’s cool.

Slightly less predictable was the rapid up-tick in people searching for pickled egg recipes just before Thanksgiving. I mean… To whom doesn’t a vinegary, purple egg simply scream harvest festival?

Jeff Koons Blue Diamond, Christie's, New York

And how do I know all this? Because the good people at WordPress, the platform upon which the Granny Cart floats blissfully through the universe of the internets, are kind enough to allow us users to see the phrases; often funny, sometimes scary, but always interesting, that drive people to our blogs.

There are lots of queries about farro, couscous and pickles, a few about boar roasts, many about poultry, and a goodly number looking for cheesemaking hints. There’s the accent crew too, looking for recipes for Spätzle, Čevapčići and Coq a la Bière. But the grand majority of the inquisitive folk that end up on the Granny Cart probably don’t want to be here.

Bridge, Prospect Park

I hope the person that was looking for Vermont “Olive Oil” finally found what he was after, because the information was certainly not contained on this here Website.

To the gentleman who put curry on his curry, while I agree that the situation might in fact be a pressing one, I really don’t feel that it’s that big of a predicament. In fact, I bet it was quite tasty in the end!

I hope the person that wanted a “recipe containing macaroni and cheese” found one. (If not there’s one right here if you’re still looking, and it’s called Mac & Cheese).

Finally, I will end my commentary on the state of search queries in the same way as always by appealing to the people searching for “tiny bunnies that don’t grow.” Have you found them? Do they really exist? Please, if you’ve managed to find the world’s most perfect pet, contact me. I’ll be waiting.

Rip Van Winkle Bridge from the grounds at Olana

The Cute

cats that look like gernot (Kind of makes you wonder who Gernot is, doesn’t it?)

give a pig a pickle (That’s gotta be pretty amusing)

how to get a live chicken in a bottle (I bet it’s nowhere near as easy as getting a ship in a bottle)

Cauliflower poodles (Ah yes, behold, there on the horizon, the noble, cruciferous hound)

cute hard boiled eggs (I think these would make this person very, very happy)

Hudson-Athen Lighthouse, Hudson River

The Curious

sunshine scientific names (I’ve never wondered about sunshine before… But if clouds have names… And precipitation has names…)

onion and cheese mexican joke (So a queso and a cebolla walk into a cantina…)

everything is pickled people are pickles (Sounds like the start of someone’s manifesto, if you ask me. That reminds me, I’ve been meaning to write one of those…)

will God allow me to eat shrimp (Oh dear. I think there’s only one person that can really help you make that call, and it’s not me)

rabbits eat pickles? (If pigs can…)

Dumbo Warerhouse

The Creepy

what to do with wife that doesn’t make dinner (Might I suggest a two prong approach: 1. Become friendly with a restaurant that will deliver and 2. Learn how to cook for yourself, perhaps?)

Round-the-World Cookbook cannibal recipe (I’m sure this exists, and yet…)

I’ll give you my antidote To the venom, (But…?)

june cleaver tablescape (I think tablescapes were a little before the Beaver’s time, and yet simply imagining this sends shivers down my spine)

delete granny’s pet,now! (Oh dear, must have been old Gernot again)

Gowanus Canal

And finally, I would like to leave you with one of the truer statements I’ve ever encountered.

small is beautiful but not for cheese

Sir, you, me and Isaac must be seperated at birth. You are welcome here anytime. Please, take a seat, make yourself comfortable, oh, and don’t forget the cheese!

Have a happy weekend everyone!

Something Good To Eat

15 Nov

“Welcome to Camp Chaos!” I chirped.

NoHo Door, Of special note, the N is on the southside and the S is on the northside

I was up to my elbows in dough and there was a halo of steam around my forehead. Isaac was home at least a half an hour earlier than I had expected him and I was running about a half an hour behind. The timing was actually perfect, I was able to finish up my kneading while he unpacked.

He was back from visiting his family for Western Orthodox Christmas. He’d given one of his sisters the New Book Of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden and so, as a treat, he whipped up lamb in yoghurt sauce and basmati rice for a light, traditional Colorado Christmas dinner. It went over gangbusters but was a bit of a gutbuster and so he was quite relieved to learn that all of the bubbling and simmering and kneading was not in fact preparation for some arcane Medieval feast reenactment, but rather for a nice, light bean and kale soup with freshly baked bread.

The Old Police HQ, NoLita

I was at first tempted to try this absolutley ridiculously good looking pork loin Luisa whipped up last week, but alas, by the time I made it to my old greenmarket stomping grounds at Tompkins Square, the pork guy was all out of pork. “What have you got left?” I pleaded. “Welllllll… I’ve got a few chicken parts… Some livers, some wings, a few necks and quite a few feet!” “Ah, I guess you’ve made my decision for me,” I replied, “I’d been torn between making a roasted pork loin and chicken soup!” So I bought some feet and wings, a few onions and lots of kale and headed home.

Bloomberg Building, Le Cirque is to the left

I do some of my best thinking just before drifting off to sleep (I’m also a champ at brainstorming in the shower), the challenge is remembering my great idea the next morning. On Saturday night I was thinking about beans. But not just any beans. Christmas Limas. Big, beautiful speckled dried lima beans that Christina had sent me in trade a few months ago for a jar of Pepi Pep Peps. In the note she sent with the beans, Christina warned that they take quite a bit more time soaking and cooking than smaller dried beans, and so I was thinking about this while falling asleep, and just then, right on the edge, I thought of a solution. The yogotherm.

The yogotherm came into our house as part of the cheesemaking kit I bought Isaac for his birthday. It’s a little plastic bucket with a lid, that slides into a styrofoam sleeve which sits inside a pretty plastic container with cows on it. Not the most environmentally responsible thing I own, but unlike other yogurt makers, it doesn’t need electricity. In cheesemaking the yogotherm keeps cultured milk warm while the cultures do their thing and make cheese, yogurt, kefir and all manner of delightful things. And so I figured, if it can make me cheese, why on earth couldn’t it make me beans?

Bryant Park Sheep

I rinsed my beans and popped them into a ziptop bag filled with warmish (probably around 100°F) water, stuck the bag in the bucket and closed up the contraption. By the time I got home 5 hours later, the beans were absolutely perfect. I have discovered something huge in bean cookery! Hear that Steve? My gigantic Christmas Limas only took an hour to cook after their yogotherm soaking. I feel like I’ve really contributed something to the culinary landscape with this.

The Old West Village Jail

To the beans I added lacinato kale and green mustard greens (thanks for the idea Toni) and a few ladles of stock. It’s the most aromatic stock I’ve ever made. I decided to forego my traditional recipe in favor of something a bit gutsier; a base of fennel, parsnips, bay leaves and thyme. I’ll definitely make this again, but there’s one thing I will not repeat.

Cooking with chicken feet. Ugh. Mine had some of the weird foamy skin still clinging to them, which skeeved me out, and then, as you’re cooking, they poke out of the liquid, looking like something that should be in the pot of Macbeth’s witches. Yes, they make good stock, but, oh man, no, not again. No more chicken feet.

Lacinato Kale

So we sat down to nice, piping hot bowls of soup with a “baguette” I had baked. I say “baguette” because this loaf was as French as EuroDisney. I followed Judith Jones‘ recipe from The Tenth Muse, but, not having a stand mixer I kneaded the loaves by hand for, oh, maybe 30 minutes? The bread has a nice crumb, but teeny tiny holes. I was hoping that the long kneading would produce enough gluten to support nice big airy holes, but alas. I actually think I may have kneaded it too much. I guess this just means I’ll have to buy myself a stand mixer for Christmas (unless someone buys me one beforehand, hint, hint…).

Western Orthodox Christmas Beans & Greens Soup

The soup was delightful. Christmas Limas get their name because to some, they taste like chestnuts, and chestnuts are associated with, well, Christmas! If you cook them to just the right consistency, you can squish the bean against the roof of your mouth, and as Christina puts it the, “inside of the bean squirts out like mashed potatoes.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Head below the jump for the recipes for Aromatic Stock and Western Orthodox Christmas Soup.

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Pumpkin Eater

2 Nov

The Boy and I pulled a Fergus Henderson on a pumpkin this weekend and indulged in some real stem to blossom-end eating.

Through My Window

We butchered a very large cheese pumpkin, then we gutted it. While the pumpkin parts roasted in the oven, I sorted through the pumpkin’s innards for the seeds. After a quick wash, the seeds went into a pot of salted, boiling water for 10 minutes, were drained, tossed with salt and olive oil and slipped into the oven to roast at 350°F for 15-20 minutes until golden-brown and delicious. The seeds got a mahogany coating of three peppers, a la the pepitas from the lost and mourned for East Village restaurant Uovo.

And that was the extent of my involvement in the evening’s meal. I washed my hands and left the kitchen while the Boy carried on.

Pepitas

It was lovely.

He scooped pumpkin flesh and sautéed onions while I propped my feet up on the ottoman and finished a disturbing and silly novel (I have a new back of cover rule, any books described with the words “gothic” “chilling” and “passion” are now verboten).

The Boy and his family celebrate what they like to call “Western Orthodox Christmas,” that is, Christmas in November in Colorado. They’re a busy family, spread out over a few states, who find it hard (and expensive) to get together exactly on December 25th, so they do the best they can.

A few years ago the Boy’s mom gave him a funny Western Orthodox Christmas present; a hand blender and a recipe.

3 More Peppers

At the time, he and I had been together a little while and were only just beginning to cook together in earnest. I guess it showed, though. His conversations with his mother were peppered with culinary allusions which, being a good mom, she picked up on. So she thought she would share her latest obsession with her newly minted foodie son: puréed soups.

The recipe is simple: sautée aromatics, add something delicious like potatoes, squash or root vege, season with fun spices, purée, add a little dairy, eat. The Boy has become the soupmaster of the house. His creations are always inventive, exciting and, best of all, delicious.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

So when he suggested he make a spicy pumpkin soup as a way to celebrate the season and use up the three surprise peppers that grew on my plant after we thought it was done, I couldn’t have been happier. I’d get a day off and a delicious dinner. Who’s the luckiest girl in the world?

I must say, it was hard to keep myself out of the kitchen. I kept piping up, “Did you put Pimenton de la Vera in there? It smells smoky?” To which he’d reply, “Yep.” At which I whined, “But I was hoping to taste the pure flavor of the peppers!” To which he replied with silence. I kept trying to remember the marvelous quip from Judith Jones in the Times a few weeks ago:

When your husband is enjoying himself in the kitchen, keep your mouth shut even if you could do better.

I find it applicable to boyfriends as well.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Homemade Creme Fraiche and Three-Pepper Pepitas

I can’t tell you his exact recipe, but I do know he flavored the soup with the aforementioned smoky paprika, ground cloves and just a hint of dried mustard. Garnished with some crème fraîche we made (which oddly enough turned out lumpy) along with the pepitas and leftover breadcrumbs from my beloved kale salad, it was a delicious, seasonal and relaxing dinner.

It was even better as leftovers a few nights later. Especially when we remembered to add some frozen corn I had saved from an aborted July 4th party.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Homemade Creme Fraiche and Three-Pepper Pepitas

So ladies, it’s November now. Want a night off? Go out and buy your man an immersion blender. When he asks why, tell him it’s a Western Orthodox Christmas present.

Then sit back, put your feet up, read a trashy novel, feign abhorrence while discussing the book over a delicious dinner, oohing, aahing and feigning nothing.

Happy weekend!

The Survivor

4 Oct

Do you remember way back in the balmy month of May, with much excitement, I announced the planting of my little fire escape container garden?

Happier Times

There were tomatoes and radishes and herbs and peppers and even strawberries, all tucked neatly into little containers, basking happily in the dappled Brooklyn sun.

Well, I hate to say it, but it’s been a dramatic summer and there were few survivors.

First there was summer’s refusal to get started. The plants wanted heat, but there wasn’t any. Then there was the tornado which uprooted a few and harmed many. Then there was the rain that kept beating my seedlings into pulp. And finally, there were the squirrels; those dumb, stupid baby squirrels who feel that my planters are the perfect place to hide all their bounty that I am positive they will never remember.

Tomatoes? Gone. The radishes and herbs? KOed by the weather. The strawberries managed to give me two really cute berries, and that was all. They were then hit by the double header of tornado and squirrels. As you can see, it wasn’t only this guy who had a rough summer of farming in Brooklyn!

Strawberries

But you’ll notice I haven’t said a thing about the peppers. Well, that’s because they survived! I feared for them. They were the hardest hit by the tornado. All six plants were torqued out by the wind into a very neat spiral and had many broken leaves and stems. So I gently gathered them up and tied them together and hoped that would be enough. It was. They kept growing, but wouldn’t flower.

Then we started making cheese. One of the recipes noted that leftover whey makes great plant food. So after our first cheesemaking foray I let the whey cool and then fed the peppers. I could almost hear them cheering! The next morning they looked so perky and happy, and then just a day or two later the first blossom bloomed. And then another day or two later, we had our first pepper, a Portugese hot.

Portugese Hot Pepper

This weekend, with prospects for at least another half-dozen peppers, the Boy and I decided it was time to harvest our first Brooklyn-grown produce. But it needed a proper end.

I recently bought Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, the follow up, decades in the making, to her first book, and possibly my favorite cook book of all time. It has many of the same recipes as the book from the ’70s, updated and adapted for the modern home cook, plus hundreds of new ones. In one meal Ms. Roden made me think of this book as essential. She is genius.*

Portugese Hot Pepper

Over a year ago the Boy had printed out a recipe for Shakshuka from the Times and brought it home to me. When he does this, I know he really wants to try whatever it is, and that it’s probably something I might not be so fond of. Something about that recipe rubbed me the wrong way. It was so fussy and long and complicated. I kept hiding it and hoping he’d forget about it. But no.

I had said I wanted to make something with tomatoes. Shakshuka he said! I whimpered something about not being in the mood. I wanted a place to properly use my one pepper. Shakshuka he said! I mumbled something about it being too complicated. I wanted to coddle the beautiful free range eggs I’d picked up earlier in the week. Shakshuka he said! I murmured something about the pepper getting lost in all those flavors.

And then, finally, we were at the greenmarket, my patience was wearing very, very thin and there, at one of the stands were the world’s largest bell peppers and I agreed. Shakshouka I sighed.

Shakshouka

Something was niggling at the back of my head. Hadn’t I seen a recipe in The New Book for shakshouka that looked really simple and clean and easy? Yes, I had. And so, this is where our brave little pepper ended his life, in a warm, molten, silky, sweet and spicy tangle of tomatoes and eggs. A fitting end? Incredibly so.

I paired the shakshouka with a Tunisian salad, supposed to be served cold, of mashed potatoes, shatta and capers that I served warm, and pomegranate and curry lamb sausages.

The tiniest whisper of spice from the sausage melded perfectly with the rest of the meal. Both dishes, though intensely flavorful and at least a little spicy, were devoid of any high seasoning. The light cinnamon aroma was the element that transformed the disparate elements and elevated them into a meal. It was delightful.

Shakshouka, Mashed Potatoes with Capers & Pomegranate/Curry Lamb Sausages

And so we sat and munched and oohed and aahed and discussed next years garden. First, I’ll start the seedlings inside. Second, I’m going to make sure my plants and dirt come from organic sources. Third, I will buy containers that are too high for squirrels to clamber into. Fourth, chicken wire will go over everything. Fifth, pray to god there are no more tornadoes!

*As an aside, did everyone read the profile the New Yorker did on Ms. Roden in the food issue? They’ve only got an abstract, a sidebar and some recipes online now, so it’s worth trying to track it down. It made me, even more, want to fly to London and hang out with her. I cannot wait for her volume on Spain to be published!

Head below the jump for the recipes for Claudia Roden’s Shakshouka and Slatit Batata Marfusa.

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Housekeeping

1 Oct

Over on My New York, I dedicated a post to “The Other Bridge.”

Birds On A Wire

You’ve seen her around these parts a lot lately. She’s a beautiful bridge and is often overshadowed by her more glamorous and famous sister the Brooklyn Bridge.

There’s a few recipes and dishes that I keep meaning to write about that are beginning to feel a bit like the Manhattan Bridge; worthy, beautiful, simple and yet, overlooked. The glamorous dishes and serious cooking have been hogging the spotlight.

Like the two bridges the good story gets all the glory. But, do you know where to get the best view of the Brooklyn Bridge? Why from the middle of the Manhattan Bridge of course!

Dumbo Pebbles

And so, without further ado: A salad, bread & cheese, a juice and dessert.

Michael’s Onions

Michael's Onions

I first tasted these onions at my friend’s poker game a few Fridays ago. Our host had planned to make them on the grill, but due to a series of unforeseen mishaps he ended up cooking them in the oven. They couldn’t be easier, or tastier. Just thickly slice a sweet onion, dot it with a little butter, season with a shake of Lawry’s and then roast in the oven until soft and wiltingly tender. We ate ours with sausages.

Two nights later I just had to make them to top a salad. Equally as good. I don’t keep seasoning salt in the house, so I used various spice mixes my mom has given me over the years and a little salt. They come out so soft and delicious, like the inside of the very best onion rings.

Bread & Cheese

No-Knead Bread

Yep, it’s back. What’s back? No-knead bread season of course! While I conquered my fear of kneading last winter, I’ve been craving Bittman’s magic bread. (As an aside, thank you NY Times for finally removing the asinine Times Select thus allowing home cooks everywhere to access timeless recipes again.) It has a yeasty flavor and magical texture that I haven’t yet been able to capture in my kneaded loaves.

Fromage Blanc & No-Knead Bread

This loaf was 2 cups AP flour plus 1/2 cup white whole wheat and 1/2 cup extra fine semolina. I love the flavor and texture the semolina added, a slight nuttiness, a little extra browning on the bottom and a gorgeous crust on top. We christened autumn’s first loaf with homemade fromage blanc flavored with herbes de Provence.

Fromage blanc is a cultured fresh cheese from France that closely resembles cream cheese. It can be drained to a thicker consistency or kept a little liquidy for use in cooking or making sauces and can be flavored anyway you see fit. You can order the cultures here.

Concord Grape Juice

Concord Grape Juice

Have you ever thought about making your own grape juice? Neither had I, until yesterday. On Saturday I had been seduced by the aroma of concord grapes wafting through the breezes at the greenmarket. Seriously, it’s a heady, addicting aroma. So I bought a quart of them, got them home, smelled them and then looked at them and said, “So, now what do I do with you?”

No, the grapes didn’t answer, but I did finally come up with a solution, I turned to the Shakers. Up at the Watervliet site there’s grape vines everywhere, so I figured they’d have some recipes for them, and I was right. I settled on making some juice for use in a pork roast (more on that later).

All you do is pick the grapes off the vine, wash them, add them to a pan with a scant amount of water an let them boil until the pulp has broken down completely, stirring often. Be warned. If you use a wooden spoon, it will be permanently stained a striking (and attractive) shade of shocking violet. Once the juice has cooled slightly, strain it through a colander lined with cheesecloth. That’s it. You can then use the juice in cooking or dilute it with a little seltzer for a refreshing beverage.

Dessert

Ice Cream & Pretzels

My grandmother grew up in Bucks Co. Pennsylvania. Her favorite dessert, that she claims everyone ate, was peach ice cream eaten with Amish hard pretzels. It was always the treat she gave me when I would visit and I crave it often. While my grammy’s still around, she can no longer remember much of her past, so I keep at least a little part of it alive in this dessert.

Peach ice cream can be difficult to find, luckily the pretzels are a snap. Martin’s, who sell at the Union Square greenmarket, are the real deal, exactly like the ones I remember her brining back from her annual visits to Bethlehem. If you love the combination of salty and sweet, this is the treat for you. I especially like it with vanilla goat’s milk ice cream as a stand-in for the peach. Enjoy!