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So last year, nearly kind of around this time, I said:
Oh, I've also got to give a quick plug to that mulled wine recipe. I made it pretty much as Jamie did, except that I used one dry bay leaf instead of three fresh ones, and I added a couple of cardmom pods because why not? Also, instead of dumping in a couple of bottles of wine once the syrup was made, I just poured the syrup into a pint jar. Now, when my wife craves a mulled wine, I just have to put a couple of tablespoons of the syrup in a mug, add some hot wine, and "ho ho ho". Could not be easier.
But I regretted, at the time, that it was too late in the holiday season to make any as a gift, except maybe a gift of the most last-minute kind. Anyway, having made it lots of times since then, including a few times already this fall, here's my suggestion for a quick, easy, cheap homemade holiday foodie gift that punches above its weight.
For each "gift" you'll need:
- a recloseable bottle or jar that holds about 375ml-500ml. You can wash and re-use a cool bottle that you've got (and got a clean cork or stopper for) or you can go extravagant and pick up a bottle at your local kitchenwares store. I have some nice 375ml bottles with a "swing" stopper (think: Grolsch beer) that I got for about $1.49 each).
- about a cup of any decent, dry red wine. Table wine is fine. Wine in a box is fine.
- an orange
- a cinnamon stick
- about 8 whole cloves
- a bay leaf or two
- some vanilla
- a cup of regular sugar
... and optionally:
- a piece of vanilla bean
- a few cardamom pods, crushed
- a couple of allspice berries
- a slice or two of root ginger
- zest from any other citrus (lemon, lime, grapefruit, tangerine, etc...)
- a star anise
- - a small nugget of nutmeg (just crack a whole nutmeg with a mortar and pestle, or the edge of a knife) or a piece of real mace
And you'll also want a small pot or saucepan, a funnel, a small strainer, a knife, a vegetable peeler, and maybe a citrus reamer or orange juicer.
1. remove the zest from the orange with the peeler or knife and add to the pot. Halve the orange and add the juice to the pot. Add the sugar to the pot, along with the cinnamon stick, the bay leaf, the cloves, the vanilla (unless you use the vanilla bean) and the wine. If you use any of the optional ingredients, add them now too.
2. bring to a gentle boil until the sugar dissolves, and allow to simmer for a few minutes and then cool for a bit.
3. using the funnel and strainer, decant the syrup into your bottle, then remove the cinnamon stick and drop it in the bottle too.
4. that's basically it. Tie a ribbon or bow on your bottle, or add a sticker/label if that's how you roll. To serve, fill a mug 3/4 full with decent red wine, pour into a small pot and gently warm to your prefrerence. Meanwhile, add about three tablespoons of syrup to the same mug, and pour over wine when warmed.
It takes about a half hour to make, it costs a couple of bucks, it's homemade, it's seasonal and it tastes great. And you can "customize" it with whatever appropriate holiday spices you like. It's a good gift to have bottled and ready in case some unexpected guest gifts you with an unexpected fruitcake, and if you give it to real friends, you can always pair it with a bottle of decent dry red so it becomes a "kit".
Just a couple of notes:
1. I don't think I'd spend a whole lot on the red wine. Drinkable and dry is all you really need.
2. This could probably work just as well with apple cider (to be served up with warmed cider, and perhaps brandy, or better yet, calvado.)
3. Don't use dried and ground spices, unless you want a cloudy, gritty syrup.
4. Remove that orange/citrus peel and place it in a recloseable jar with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar and shake it around. It won't be "candied" peel, but it'll be preserved until the next time you want something to throw in a fruitcake or cookie recipe. You can use the sugar, too.
5. By the time the syrup has boiled, pretty much all of the alcohol is gone, so you could add this to some soda water or ginger ale for the youngsters.
I bought some green plantain - on sale cheap - from a greengrocer that was closing suddenly. They also had a nice, fresh bag of spinach - the first decent spinach I've seen since the fresh, local stuff is no more.
I found this one amid a swamp of plantain and spinach SMOOTHIE "recipes". The photo isn't very appealing, but the simplicity is. cookbookjunkie.blogspot.ca/2012/03/something-different-fried-plantain.html It would be easy to combine these with a protein-rich food such as poultry or beans. My plantain is very green, but that is how I want it. I expect that it will take a bit more cooking, such as adding a bit of homemade chicken stock.
Note that what the recipe is calling "frying" would be called "sautéing (? faire sauter) in most recipes I've seen. It isn't plunged into oil, which is what I definitely did NOT want).
Finally, the vegetable part of this recipe came out very well, I had half a jar left of a mixture of long red peppers, slightly spicy, onions, garlic, various tomatoey things... Thus with a bit of red it isn't as wan and unappealing as the photo in the recipe. I may just add some sautéed ground turkey, on sale at Provigo (Loblaws) starting tomorrow, or find something else. I want to keep it simple. While I don't want it hot, it should have a bit more spice, as the plantain bits are very bland, though also somehow very pleasant.
I would bet a loonie that the original recipe was for plantain and callaloo (or any of the leafy greens that get called callaloo).
Plantain is a fascinating vegetable. Starchy as a new potato, but looks like a green banana. I'm sure many have been fooled, and bought one or two, waiting for them to "ripen" to yellow.
Pro-tip: plantains NEVER become bananas.
No, but the he ripe one are a little nicer than the very green. I haven't been cooking - I'm in Sweden for work, and have been eating myself silly. Gravlax and herring and reindeer, oh my!
Oh yum, you lucky person! Only downside is that the inhabited parts of Sweden are MUCH farther north even than Winterpeg (though not nearly as cold in the depths of winter; the coldest places are strongly continental). So your days must be VERY short now. The farthest north I've been in Europe is Copenhagen, and that was exactly this time of year. (I've been to Nunavik here).
Does domesticated reindeer taste different from its wild counterpart, caribou? I love gravlax and herring.
Much like venison, but quite mild. The sun sets before 3pm! I had meatballs with lingonberry for lunch. :)
Oh, the IKEA cafeteria special™
Ha! Just a little higher end!
Gravlax and herring
My wife, being Estonian, grew up on herring. Herring is Estonia's national fish, its national dish, and its national flower. Whenever we have some she always makes me call it "heeringas". Recently, I snapped up some cheap salt herrring (my Metro has it now and again) and pickled it up. What a nightmare to clean, though.
and reindeer, oh my!
Nothing says Christmas like eating Blitzen!
This is for Magoo and Mme Magoo, as well as for Timebandit: A post from a local blog I follow, by Outremont writer Mary Soderstrom:
http://marysoderstrom.blogspot.ca/2016/12/saturday-photo-climate-change-... Making sil from salted herring, and the latter getting scarce.
Huh. I wouldn't have guessed herring. When I find it at my Metro, it's usually on the order of about $3/lb, gutted and sans head, but otherwise still all bony and with the skin on. Just the thing for pickled herring, or authentic Estonian potato salad. Authentic Estonian pretty much anything.
I once attended a potluck at the home of one of my wife's family friends and I'm pretty sure I was the only non-Eesti guest. I joked with her that the only thing on the buffet that didn't have herring in it was the ham.
So today I'm starting up that yellow pea soup, made with whole yellow dried peas. I started the soak yesterday, it'll cook today, then into the fridge overnight to get better, as wet foods seem to. Tomorrow, some no-knead bread to accompany it (see very first post in this thread), so I'll be starting that up after dinner.
Haven't eaten the yellow pea soup yet, but here's the bread.
Pretty much just like in that first post. No fail bread.
First batch of Xmas baking done! Chocolate chunk pecan shortbread. :)
Wow there are so many accomplished gourmet cooks on here I hesitate to speak, but can't resist adding this recipe, if only for the description of its preparation:
Grenadin de Porc au Beurre La Fin Du Monde.
It's from the quirky, funny novel "Stanley Park" by Timothy Taylor: http://tinyurl.com/j7d95oq
Scroll down to 4th paragraph, p. 127 - Or better still, read the book.
In the text he lists cream as an ingredient but then forgets to mention using it in the cooking. We absolutely DO add it near the end. At my first taste of Fin du Monde, - you must finish the bottle - I thought "This is an odd-flavoured beer", but I'm acquiring a serious taste for it; which, at the price, is unfortunate. I do recommend the dish (We just call it Stanley Park Pork Chops), and the beer, and Mr Taylor's book.
Mr Magoo, thanks for the no-knead bread. Haven't tried it yet, but soon. We make a "Sake" with rice, raisins & sugar. Actually my wife makes it - I don't like it all that much. Its big advantage over the "real" stuff is, you can make 5 gallons at a time, and quite quickly..
Nice recipe. I think that recipes sans weights and measures are to cooking what jazz is to music. Do you actually spring for chanterelles, though?
Good luck with the bread. Resist any temptation to do anything more than mix the dough until it's all incorporated. And don't forget the second rise, something the video version of the recipe omits. If you like real bread -- the kind that used to be real food -- you'll like it.
Nice recipe. I think that recipes sans weights and measures are to cooking what jazz is to music.
Do you actually spring for chanterelles, though?
I bought some chanterelles once, just to see what they were about. And they were delightful, but I don't know if they were "$25/lb delightful". For that coin, substitute some organic wagyu beef and save a few bucks.
I keep meaning to drop a few dollars here. The fact that even THEY don't sell a chanterelle kit is probably why chanterelles command a high price. One of the last undomesticated things, like the fiddlehead.
La Fin du monde is a strong, Belgian-style beer, more to be sipped like a wine than quaffed like a beer. I can buy it around the corner.
Another beer (not particularly strong, or expensive) from here that is great for cooking is St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout. A bottle of it makes for an excelllent braise.
I was a bit surprised to find LA Fin du Monde at my local BC liquor store. Hadn't heard of St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout. I'll have to look for it. You say it's not very strong but it sounds "robust."
St Ambroise is very nice! La Fin du Monde is pretty good, too. There are a lot of good microbreweries out there now. I was doing a lot of shooting in Washington state last year and they're a real hotbed for small breweries.
I've been planning holiday menu for the last few days. I'll be doing goose with madiera and oranges for Xmas Eve (Back by popular demand!), and am bringing dessert to dinner with friends - I'm making profiteroles with raspberry ice cream. Xmas baking is continuing - we have shortbread and pepparkakor (gingerbread), and cherry bombs (maraschino cherries in almond cookie rolled in sugar). Next up, cream wafers (cute iced cookies) and butter tarts. Chocolate mint ice cream log is in the freezer. Xmas is for eating!
PS - Edzell, your pork recipe is very nice. You can sometimes get a deal on chanterelles at Costco, and I'm betting they'd be wonderful in that dish. But I'm sure regular mushrooms are good, too.
BC prices (before tax):
St-Ambroise oatmeal stout 6-pack 11.95.
Fin du Monde 6.79 per bottle.
When I said the Oatmeal Stout was not as strong I was referring to the alcohol content. Yes, it is robust in flavour and excellent to cook with.
I could find La Fin du monde cheaper here, but it is always much more expensive than "normal" beers. It is to drink more like a wine.
Timebandit, I love to cook too, but how elaborate it is depends on whether I'm inviting people over or being a guest. I take things, more savoury baking. I don't really do sweet baking, so I'm not expert in it.
Livia went out (in the back garden and perhaps a bit along our "Green Lane" which is now white - but it isn't very cold) at least half an hour ago; I'll call her back in a bit if she doesn't return.
What are everyone's favourite slow-cooker recipes? Since my wife and I are spending a lot of time out of the house these days, we recently invested in a Crock Pot. It came with a cookbook, but the recipes in that are uninspired variations on the same theme.
There are much better slow-cooker cookbooks, and you don't have to buy them. There are plenty at public libraries. Look for books that don't rely on prepackaged "corporate" ingredients.
I often just do a web search, for what to do with the ingredients I have on hand.
Do you like chicken with dumplings?
Here's my quick recipe - Chicken pieces in the crock pot (I prefer mine on the bone, more flavour, and thighs work really well for this), carrot, celery, leek (sometimes I add parsnip, too), and cover with chicken broth, add thyme and a pinch of mustard powder and a little salt and pepper. Turn on pot, leave for the day. When you get home, blend some flour into milk to thicken the gravy and stir in carefully so you don't shred the chicken, which will by this point be very tender.
Mix up biscuit dough: Blend 2 cups flour with 1 tbsp baking powder, cut in 1/2 cup butter until crumbly, add 3/4 cup milk or enough to make a dough that sticks together. Divide into about 8 blobs of dough and drop them on top of chicken mixture, put on the lid and leave for about 20 minutes.
Leftovers freeze well!
I also do goat curry, pea soup and beef stew in my crock pot. I've done pot roast as well. I'll sometimes do the pot up the night before and put it in the fridge overnight, then put the crock in the liner and turn it on in the morning. I'm not a morning person, so that works for me.
For what it's worth, I've found you can discover all manner of slow-cooker recipes just by thinking of something you want to eat, then googling "slow cooker [something] recipe". Unless it's "french fries" or "gazpacho" there's probably a recipe for it somewhere.
I haven't actually tried this yet, but it's my understanding that a slow cooker, with a bit of unsalted butter melted in it, can be used to caramelize onions, pounds at a time. And slow cooker "pulled pork" recipes are all over the place.
Besides the obvious soups and stews, my two favourite recipes for the old crock pot are:
Brisket point. Brown some brisket in a pan, toss in a finely chopped onion and a clove or two of garlic, a pinch of thyme, and some salt and black pepper; transfer to crock, add just enough water to cover the brisket halfway, and cook for 10-12 hours on low -- do not stir or flip the meat. When it's done, the bottom of the brisket will be nice and moist and tender, and the top will have a glorious, caramelized "bark". Slice the brisket against the grain, pour off the gravy and thicken if desired. Brisket point is a tough but exceptionally flavourful small (about a pound) piece of brisket (which I think results from full briskets being trimmed to a rectangular shape for aesthetic reasons). If you can't find one, substitute flank steak or any other nice and gnarly piece of beef intended for long braising.
Pork rillons. Remove the skin from a pound or so of pork belly and cut into one-inch cubes. Rub with 2tsp of coarse salt and place in crock. Add a sprig of rosemary and a sprig of thyme (or 1/2 tsp of each if you're using dried herbs) and a generous few scrapings of fresh nutmeg. Add just enough water to cover the bottom, and cook for 10-12 hours on low. To serve, just plate up the rillons and serve the gravy on the side, along with some chunky bread. This would be pretty rich for a meal, but it makes a great party appetizer -- the rillons will be tender to the point of being almost spreadable.
Anyway, Happy Christmas! I'm off to start getting some stuffing going.
So this Xmas, Mrs. M. and I decided to forgo the usual wrapped gifts under the tree thing (since neither of us really need any new "things") but for tradition's sake, we stuck with the stockings. Even those proved a bit challenging -- hers consisted of underwear, some super-thermal socks, candy, and some other small goodies -- but she totally pulled a surprise out of nowhere, and gave me a selection of badass cheeses! She'd tried to find me some Maytag Blue (since I've long been fascinated) but evidently nobody carries it after the makers had some kind of food safety issue a while back. So she got me these consolation prizes!
From top right: Québec Bleu, Stilton, Irish Whisky Cheddar, and Smoked Stilton. Yes, Smoked Stilton!
Québec Bleu: a classic blue, very reminiscent of a Danish Blue or a Roquefort, but on a firmer base, with a bright, tangy, almost overwhelming blue note. Soft and salty, it's a total Sharknado of umami and living organisms. This cheese is almost more of a seasoning than a food.
Stilton: this cheese jumped right into my "top five cheeses" list the first time I ever had it, in a Ploughman's Lunch. It brings the blue, but it's a very toned down blue, sort of deep and earthy rather than alive and bright. And the cheese base underneath could easily stand on its own beside any good cheddar. So it's like aged cheddar with a dank blue note and a pretty clean finish for a blue cheese.
Irish Whisky Cheddar: a very nice, robust and firm cheddar with an extra depth, and a fascinating, mildly sour note from the booze. Very clean, and probably to nearly everyone's taste, and so very mild when it's up against three other cheeses that are literally still alive.
Smoked Stilton: talk about gilding the lily! It's not heavily smoked, and the smoking thankfully didn't change the classic texture one bit. The smoking does for the Stilton what a bass guitar does for a rock band... you don't notice it as much as everything else, but it rounds everything out wonderfully. Is it even better than regular Stilton? I'm going to go with "yes".
Sounds lot me a lovely gift! I'm not a great fan of blue cheeses, but they sound pretty nice. I got Salvadore Dali's Les Diners de Gala from my girls - a surrealist cookbook with out-there recipes, photos of dishes from its first publishing and artwork and some writing by Dali. It is a thing of beauty. https://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalogue/art/all/04639/facts.dali_les_...
I've been up since 5:30 with a 32 lb f**+king turkey. gotta have stuffing and gravy for 21 people later today. I'm not a happy person.
Better you than me, old goat!
i'm salivating over those cheeses. I've had the smoked stilton, yes, it very "full", and not too smoked. Of course I have no idea which cheese "Québec Blue" is, as we have many blue cheeses. http://www.lemarchedessaveurs.com/fr/fromages.php
8:45 ..up for 3 hours. Ok for me to get into the wine yet???
Is the turkey in the oven?
What wine is it?
If you like that stuff Magoo, have you ever tried fermented tofu? There are different kinds, and it is also more a seasoning than food. And similar to some cheese in that the concept of it going bad is kind of meaningless.
And if some get to have some brandy in their coffee this time of the day, why not?
I don't especially like fermented tofu, but I like tempeh very much - it is fermented, but is certainly a food, a staple in Indonesia and nearby places.
I made some tempeh last year. Didn't do too much for me, though I did find it interesting, and it is a fascinating process to watch. And it is more on the mushroom end of things than fermented tofu and natto. Though the nuttiness is interesting I still prefer the blank slate of tofu.
In any case, they are the only equivalent I can think of in that cuisine (and the only vegan equivalent) to those sharp, rotten and challenging cheeses.
Oldgoat, I hope there was time for a nap! We joined friends for dinner last night - they had an 18lb turkey which they wrapped in bacon.
We were supposed to head back to SK for a quick visit but the highway is closed today, so we're delaying our departure until tomorrow. I have a big salmon in the freezer, so we will do that up today. I think with roasted fennel and tomato!
Of course I have no idea which cheese "Québec Blue" is, as we have many blue cheeses.
We're not quite certain either. Maybe Ste. Elizabeth? Or Benedictin? Both of those seem to have more of a rind than this does, though. Maybe I'll just pop into the cheesemonger where she got them and try to figure it out based on what's in stock. Or take them a picture and ask!
If you like that stuff Magoo, have you ever tried fermented tofu? There are different kinds, and it is also more a seasoning than food.
I have some red fermented tofu (made with red yeast rice) that I use for exactly that. A bit of flavour (and colour) in the marinade for char siu, or a noodle dish. Problem with all of these things is that the jars almost never tell you anything, and all you can go on is the fact that they obviously contain tofu... of some sort. :0
In any case, they are the only equivalent I can think of in that cuisine (and the only vegan equivalent) to those sharp, rotten and challenging cheeses.
Well, you did also mention natto. I'm still trying to work up my courage for that. You can get it -- frozen -- in Little Korea. What's the worst that could happen though, right? Like, I might not like it? Apparently most people in Japan and Korea don't really either.
Anyway, having made our "traditional" chicken and potatoes and veg and gravy and stuffing meal yesterday, today is the traditional Eesti meal of verivorst (which I mistakenly called "vetivorst" here). We didn't make our own this year, but instead of grabbing up some blood sausage from the Colombian butcher, I found a couple of blood sausages at Sanagan's, so we'll see what their "stretcher" is -- oatmeal, or rice, or barley, or flour.
Here's the (currently roasting) veg for the side. Beets, purple yam, carrot, cauliflower, and these crazy tiny cabbages I found.
And just to be gratuitous, ANOTHER photo of no-knead bread, still too hot to slice.
I didn't flour it after the first rise and punchdown, so it doesn't have those handsome "blooms" of flour on the crust this time. And without a dusting of flour it was like trying to drop a 2 pound blob of chewed bubblegum into that dutch oven, but it's lookin' good anyway.
I'm sure everyone's been waiting to hear which fromage bleu I got for Xmas, so I popped into Chabichou, where Mrs. M. found it, and asked. Turns out it's Bleu d'Elizabeth!
Also, I guess I keep posting pictures of the lovely crust on that no-knead bread, but never pictures of the crumb. So, here:
I'll have to make that bread. And translate the recipe into French for a boulanger neighbour...
Here is a recipe for curry turkey wings (one could use thighs or drumsticks, drumsticks again cut up by the butcher; the places I buy turkey parts do that. They don't even sell the expensive breasts. http://caribbeanpot.com/stewed-turkey-wings-recipe/ Obviously you don't have to do the caramelized sugar and can modify the vegetables etc, but it is just an example of possible uses for cheap and nutritious turkey for those who don't especially like roast turkey - or who want a change, or a cheap-but-good meal.
I finished slow cooking a stewing hen, and have a pyrex glass dish full of pulled meat. It is still very firm, though chewable, and very tasty (even the white meat). I want to make some kind of curry with it and am thinking the turkey should still be cooked on a very low heat in some of the concentrated stock (which includes lemon juice and aromatics, and is a bit spicy - I put a tiny bit of Aleppo pepper in the pot, but spicing seems to get hotter with cooking.
Would you use a bit of celery? I bought a celery for the stock, and there is always far too much. Or would that denature the dish, which includes onion, ginger, garlic, tomato and peppers in all the various recipes I've seen?
Would you use a bit of celery?
Me, I probably wouldn't. Somehow it seems like it would be a bit like a banjo in the orchestra. But if you have a lot of extra celery, particularly the leafy parts, some cream of celery soup can't fail in cold weather.
I'm going a bit off piste today and making a casserole. Specifically, and intentionally, the "crap" kind with canned mushroom soup, frozen vegetables and egg noodles. I got some cans of Cambell's mushroom soup recently for fifty cents, with this in mind. Dunno why, but sometimes my wife and I like the un-finer things in life.
Yes, one does get a craving for things like that. I was wondering why, as although I grew up when such concoctions were common, that is one thing my mother never cooked. Perhaps university cafeterias, or some such thing. Some former military people actually wax nostalgic for mess food...
We often have what we call "cafeteria mixed" vegetables. Carrots diced small, frozen peas, frozen corn. I had that beside many a "Salisbury steak" and instant mashed potatoes back in the day.
For that matter I've been trying for years to replicate Salisbury steak. I know it's mostly just a hamburger patty, but there's more to it than that and I've only come tantalizingly close to figuring out what that is.
My wife occasionally likes Kraft Dinner. I don't so much, and I think it's because I didn't eat it when growing up, but she did.
In other news, this afternoon I started brining a batch of Brussels sprouts kimchi to give to a friend. A friend I actually like, despite the idea of fermented Brussels sprouts.
big thing of turkey noodle soup.
Turkey soup is awesome. I put a little curry powder in it for a little extra zing.
The blond guy is doing a pork vindaloo with pulao tonight. I bought pastries from the French-style bakery near our place for dessert. And now I'm going cross country skiing to proactively burn some calories!
I bought a 7.5 lb bone-in ham today, for slightly less than 7.5 dollars. Will it feed two, or should I do up a chicken as well?
You can always stretch it with sides! :)
Cock-a-Leekie soup (UN-strained) with buttered chunks of no-knead bread.
Cranachan for dessert.
A glass of 12-yr Aberfeldy. Another glass - Isle of Jura Superstition. Maybe a Glayva (wish I had some Machir Bay.)
A Guid New Year tae yin an' a'.
Pure dead brilliant!
On the very, very off chance you'll need them (by the sound of it) the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne
On the very, very off chance you'll need them (by the sound of it) the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne
Glad you didn't say Auld Lang Zyne. Where on earth did that come from? But you taught me some things. A couple of the original words must be very archaic; now lost, I think, and usually (in my experience) sung differently; "From morning sun till dine" (till noon) has become "till nine" and "here's a haun' my trusty fiere" is now "trusty frien' " (pron freen). I didn't know either of these words before.
Thanks and Hapy New Year!