October 5, 2012 § 2 Comments
Dainty has been absent, but I have a good .. strike that .. I have a great excuse. I’ve moved.
Not far. Just a mile or so down the road. But even if the distance was 10 feet, it’s still a huge process. Packing, unpacking. Oh, and buying the place. And dealing with a construction crew that is – even a month after moving – still on site. But they are good boys so I don’t mind them being around.
Yes, the builders are still here. And yes, this building is new construction. It’s an unusual building, too. The design is based on the Powerhaus design used quite a bit in Germany and apparently this is the first building of its sort in the U.S.
And what makes it so unusual? It’s incredibly energy efficient. Like, super super efficient. I’ll get into it in more detail eventually, but let’s first talk about how it impacts Dainty the most: In the kitchen.
I’ve cooked with gas stoves since I learned to cook. But, the question in this Powerhaus design is this: Is gas efficient? No. Apparently gas is upwards of 70% less efficient than electricity. Bleh. I hate electric stoves. I mean, fire is so fierce, you know? Fire is awesome.
But, fire fails in efficiency. So … Dainty now has an electric cooktop. To be more specific, it’s an Electrolux Radiant/Induction Cooktop. It has two radiant burners and two induction burners on its flat surface. What’s induction? You know that commercial with Kelly Ripa making a meal and her water boils in 90 seconds? That’s induction. It’s a little like magic. But water boiling in 90 seconds? Awesome.
After about a week of avoiding all forms of cooking once we moved in, I decided to cook something on the induction burner. Or at least boil something. Can’t go wrong with boiling, right?
I boiled eggs. It’s a simple enough process: Eggs in pot, cover with an inch or so of water. Bring to a boil. Cover. Turn off heat. Let them sit for 12-15 minutes. Rinse with cold water to bring down temp. I did exactly as outlined.
And I got a soft-boiled egg.
Here’s where I went wrong: When cooking on a radiant, coiled or gas burner, it takes time for the water to come to a boil. During that time—what? maybe 5-6 or so minutes?—those eggs are slowly cooking. When using induction, that time to boil is cut drastically short and hence the cooking time is cut short. Ergo, soft-boiled eggs.
I’ve gotten back up on the cooktop and tried boiling eggs again. One minute at a full boil is not enough. 90 seconds, not enough. Two full minutes, a tad too much. Plus, without a slowly firming inside the shell, the shells tend to crack when they come to a rolling boil so quickly, spilling their whites.
So, what’s the solution?
Using the radiant burner. Thank goodness it’s a hybrid.
March 5, 2012 § 7 Comments
I’m a fan of Steel-Cut Oats. We’ve established that before. I relegated the Quaker Oats man to just a few cookie recipes. Never shall a rolled oat appear in my breakfast bowl.
A quick recap of my steel-cut oatmeal recipe has me throwing in a handful of raisins when the oats are just about done and letting them plump up with steam. In the bowl they recipe a sprinkling of slivered almonds and a sometimes-generous pour of maple syrup. Five out of seven days that’s what I’m eating for breakfast. The other two days? I’ve skipped breakfast altogether.
Thanks to Jody and Ken over at The Garum Factory, I now have a new side of steel-cut oats to explore: the savory side. Their last post shined the light on how versatile steel-cut oats can be once you move beyond the sweet expectations. Exhibit A: Their Steel-Cut Oats with Eggs, Preserved Lemon and Olives.
For my first time exploring of the savory side, I tread a simpler path. I topped my Steel-Cut Oats with a poached egg, black pepper and parsley. Yeah, delicious. Really delicious.
I poached the egg separately, but a friend had a super suggestion: As the steel-cut oats are finishing—let’s say for the last three minutes—make a divot in the oats and crack the egg right into that puddle. Cover, and the egg “poaches” right in them there oats. And you only have to dirty one pot, she said.
Oh, to be as smart as she.
Have you explored steel-cut oats’ savory side? What yumminess have you found there? Do tell! Share your savory suggestion—I so want to give it a try.
October 12, 2011 § 4 Comments
Fish have heads.
That’s right. Fish aren’t just big slabs of fillets that motor around on their own in the ocean or in a river. They have heads. And tails, too. And fins. They even have guts. All of that—plus the nice fishy flesh—constitutes a whole fish.
And that’s what we signed up for when we bought a 5-week share in the Cape Ann Fresh Catch Community-Supported Fisheries (CSF). Whole fish one week, fillets the next.
Yesterday was our first fish pick-up.
“You know you’re getting a whole bluefish today, right?” said the pleasant assistant when I walked into the CSF pick-up location and proudly announcing this was my first-ever fish delivery.
“Yup, a whole fish.”
“You know how to fillet a whole fish?”
“Nope, but I’m gonna learn today, I guess.”
Among the millions of dogs-learning-to-talk YouTube videos and clips of hormone-laden boys throwing themselves off suburban rooftops into holly-filled foundation plantings, there are videos that are quite instructional. A quick search for “how to fillet a bluefish” netted me two great videos by none other than Tony Maws, chef over at the Craigie Street Bistro in Cambridge.
Compare this photo to the one above: Notice how many more tools I have? An 8-in. chef’s knife, a rubber mallet, kitchen shears. Not kidding. And that was just to remove the head.
In the end, I had two nice 1.5-ish pound bluefish fillets and …
… some fish heads, tails and an intact spine and bones. Those were chucked into the freezer for a future turn in a stock pot. Also put in the freezer was one whole fillet. The other fillet was quartered, and two of those slabs were stored in the fridge. The other two were headed for the dinner table.
Finally, getting on with dinner …
For those paying attention, this meal falls into Day 2 of our Homegrown Food Challenge, and we’re doing our best to keep the ingredients either homegrown or locally sourced. The fish was locally sourced: check. The mayo? Jennifer’s a mayo whipper-upper using fresh ingredients. So yes, if it didn’t come out of a Hellman’s jar, this is locally made and sourced. And boy, does she make a yummy mayo.
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp. good-quality mustard
- 3/4 cup canola or veg oil (not a flavored or savory oil like olive)
- 2 tsp. smoked Hungarian paprika
- salt, pepper
- juice of 1/2 lemon
-In a blender or food processor, add the egg yolk and super-slowly (Jennifer’s exact words) drizzle in the oil. Super. Slowly. It’ll start to thicken and look mayo-ey. That’s a good thing. Want it thick? Less oil. Thin? More oil.
-Add in paprika and give it a whir. Taste and add in salt and pepper to your liking. Then add in the lemon juice and whir some more.
This’ll give you WAY more mayo than you’ll need for two or even four individual fillets. Have fun with the rest of it! We’re thinking grilled eggplant paninnis. Refrigerate and use within two to three days.
Broiled Bluefish with Smoky Mayo
- 2 6 oz. Bluefish fillets
- 2-3 Tbs. smoky mayo (recipe above)
-Place your oven’s top rack under the broiler and set your oven on broil. Let that heat up good and hot.
-Meanwhile, place the bluefish fillets in an ovenproof baking dish, skin side down. Spread 1 to 1.5 Tbs. smoky mayo on each fillet. I’d even do a little more than that. Just give the fillet a nice, thick coating of mayo.
-When the broiler is ready to go, place the fillets under the heat—7 minutes should do it. But, keep an eye on them. Broiler distance varies and your mayo could scorch. Some scorching is okay, but you don’t want grizzled char.
The mayo holds in the fish’s moisture and adds a tasty smokiness to the fish. Really quite nice.
I know some think bluefish is … fishy. I grew up eating bluefish, so I had no worries. Jennifer quite liked the fish’s flavor, too. Plus, the fact that the fish was alive and swimming earlier that morning had a whole lot to do with the awesome flavor.
Oh, that green stuff over there on the other side of the plate—that would be roasted romanesco.
January 18, 2011 § 3 Comments
Long weekend away in a ski house with friends + cooking in + stuffed refrigerator = “fridge-tata”
If you’re not an egg lover or have not gone out to for brunch in 15 years and aren’t familiar with a frittata, it’s the Italian take on the classic French omelette: Beaten eggs in a hot skillet, but with the fixins in them and presented flat, not folded. And finished off in the oven. Served in slices. Come to think of it, it’s like a slice of egg cake. Filled with sausage or salmon, chicken or chopped tomatoes, their many formulations stuff recipe sites and cookbooks.
I’m telling you now, throw out the recipes and create your own on auto-pilot. It’s as easy as opening your refrigerator.
We’ve been members of a gay ski house up in Vermont for going on eight years now. On any given fall or winter weekend, the house is filled with boys from NYC and Boston, boyfriends flying in from elsewhere and occasionally a few girls. There can be up to 12 or 14 folks sitting around the dinner table. The New York boys have a reputation for preparing over-the-tops meals – usually creatively fueled with several apre-ski cocktails. Caviar shows up on the menu several times a ski season.
At least one breakfast each weekend is something I’ve dubbed a “fridge-tata.” While I can take credit for the name, I can’t take credit for the process. That would go to the likes of Hal and Steve. They stare into the open fridge, assess the leftovers, and pull out the fridge-tata’s fillings. Chicken and green beans? Tuna and asparagus? As long as they have six or more eggs and that huge skillet (it must be 16 inches), they can create a breakfast fortified enough to fuel a day of downhill.
On Sunday, I created my own single-serving fridge-tata for a post-snowshoeing snack.
- leftovers of salmon, rice (created from some seasoned packet and a half can of chopped tomatoes) and beans
- two eggs, beaten with salt and pepper and a touch of milk
- mango key-lime salsa to taste
-Using a small, 8-in. skillet set on medium, I heated up the rice and beans. Meanwhile, I whisked up my eggs with salt and pepper.
-After beans and rice formed a bit of a crust on the bottom, I broke it up a bit and added my little hunk of leftover salmon. I waited because I didn’t want the salmon to be cooked to much more than it already had been.
-With the salmon in there for about 30 seconds, I added the eggs and turned the heat down to medium low.
-I let the eggs set a bit – enough so that I could lift the sides with a spatula. This took only two to three minutes.
-The top of the fridge-tata needed to set, so I put a lid over the skillet for a minute or two.
-Serve with salsa.
I could have used another egg or two to make the fridge-tata thicker. But then it would have been too much for me to finish. Had I cooked a more massive fridge-tata in that larger 16-in. skillet, I would have used way more eggs – probably eight or more. And, I would have cooked it on the stovetop until the eggs set up, covered it and set it on medium low for maybe 14-15 minutes, and then put it under the broiler for a minute or two to make sure the top was crisp.
It’s not the gourmety-est dish. But it’s the perfect way to deal with leftovers when roughing it in a ski house.