Thursday, October 13, 2011

A friend asks for a recipe, I post

I'm trying to make it a new policy that when a friend asks for a recipe that I post it here. I could be saying "if I had a nickel..." it happens so often, but instead I'm trying to find a system that binds me to my original goal with this blog- to write about the foods that I'm inspired by right now and give recipes.

This recipe is one I used to pull out all the time when I wanted to have duck but was too poor to buy. I found a version of it in an old cookbook I dug up at one of my favorite old bookstores, Powell's, about a hundred years ago when I was first cheffing for a living. I served it up at my first secret restaurant dinner so many years ago in San Francisco and was met with the hearty approval by my guests. Add a little lump of quickly braised greens and you have a minimally laborious meal.

I hope that my friends continue to ask me for recipes- I do love giving them out.

The only downside to this new plan, is I don't really have pictures of the food I'm advising you to make. But since I like pictures so much, in honor of the impromptu Farmer's Market Blackberry-Raspberry Jam I made tonight- here's something to drool over.

Now onto the recipe (pardon the format, a small hat tip to some of my cookbooks from the 20s and 30s, hope it's legible enough to follow):


Well, first you have to buy a ton (well, 5 pounds) of rock salt. The kind for ice cream works best. Now buy a whole chicken. Take out the neck and gizzards and whatnot. Clean her all up, pat her dry and leave her overnight in the fridge, on a rack, uncovered (air circulation). If you had a very cold protected place to hang her up that's ideal, but who has that?
Now, it's been at least 12 hours and you're ready. Take an orange, pierce little holes in it, about 10 total. Drop a bay leaf inside the gal, then shove the orange in and some scallion whites, cut to 3-4". Sew it up if your feeling fancy (call it dressing her if you're feeling really really fancy). Let her rest.
In a good sized wok, heat up your 5 pounds of rock salt, covered works well, over medium high heat is best. This will take a while and you'll hear hissing and popping when it's ready. Have a large bowl or pan nearby.
Spoon out about 2/3 of the rock salt into your spare pan/bowl, leaving a decent valley in the bottom of the wok, making sure you have about an inch of depth. Place your dried, dressed bird on top and quickly (but carefully, very hot) spoon the salt you removed back onto the bird. Try and make sure you have completely covered her back up. It should just look like a little hill of glistening, piping hot salt.
Cover with the lid and cook over medium low heat for 1 hour.
Remove the bird from the salt and then let her rest for 10-15 minutes. Get your cleaver ready. This is your chance to work on your best tough guys poses with the cleaver. If you're anything like me, you won't look so tough when you're actually trying to perform carving magic on that bird.
Now that the bird has rested, chop into halves (somewhere around her waist. Now half those end to end. Chop the breasts into halves and the leg joints as well.
Serve with hoisin sauce mixed with hot chili oil and some finely chopped fresh scallion.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Autumn is my favorite- Soup season!

Now that the weather has changed to a lovely pallid hue and I've pushed every bit of summer I could get my hands on into jars to bring sunshine into my winter, it's time to turn on the oven and leave it on.
This is the time of year I dream of having an AGA, buy a cord of wood and hunker down indoors (okay, there's an occasional rain soaked hike).
Soup season officially started today with a little pot of Three Sisters- white bean, corn and squash. Shared with another mom and three pre-schoolers in the midst of games involving every pillow in the house thrown on the living room floor and something to do with mermaids and magic crystals.
Here's the recipe. I hope to be posting more soups, soon. Or at least cooking them!

Three Sisters Soup
2 ears corn, husks still on
2 lb kabocha squash
1 cup cannellini beans
1 bay leaf
3 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 T kosher salt
a few grinds of fresh pepper

Preheat oven to 400°
Put the beans into a 1 quart tight sealing pot and fill with water to cover by 2". Add in 1 T olive oil and bay leaf.
Place this and the kabocha squash in the oven for an hour. In the last 30 minutes, toss the corn in as well.
Once it is cool enough to handle, cut the squash in half, scoop out and discard seeds, then scoop out the flesh and set aside.
Remove the kernels from the corn cobs and scrape them with the dull side of the knife to remove the rest of the pulp. Set all of this aside.
In a large stockpot, heat the remaining 2 T olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and saute over medium heat until softened. Then toss in the corn, squash and beans, plus the salt. Fill with water  to cover plus 2". Bring up to a gentle boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Correct seasonings and serve with crusty bread and kale salad.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Canning, canning, canning

Waiting on more lemons to preserve
Well, I've gone a little nuts now that I have a bigger kitchen, more cabinets and a whole larder/laundry room again. Plus, it's summer... Albeit, a kind of crummy summer cropwise, but I've managed.
To date there have been:
-Nearly 6 pounds of local, self picked blueberries bagged and frozen.
-Half a peck of pickles. Lower East Side Sours. Yum.
-David Lebovitz's Pickled Carrots in a magical bottomless jar in the fridge (the same for beets).
-Lemongrass and Lime Confit.
-Korean Red Pepper Veggies in quantity.
-Allspice liqueur
-Sauerkraut. Jah.
-Plum Sauce gleaned from the lovely bag of the scrummy stonefruit that appeared on my back stoop last week (I am so giddy for our neighboring tree. It is a fantastic producer!)
-Pickled Okra (a miserable failure with okra that was a wee bit too senior to pickle whole- read stringy)

-Jubilee Farm's Green Beans and some outside sourced Yellow Wax, both pickled.
-Tomatillos- as salsa and as little cooked critters that'll be used in pork shoulder roasts this winter.

-A 15# local Albacore all fileted and packed into wee jars with lemongrass or preserved lemons (also, homemade) or the traditional bay leaf, peppercorn and garlic.
-And last but certainly not least, The Green Tomato Conserve. Which has created several addicted households already... It looks like there may be loads more GTC in the future as the late summer sun withdraws before finishing the job of ripening the fruits of those overburdened tomato plants generous friends have all reported. There's a rough recipe below. I encourage swapping out some of the aromatics I used for some of your favorites. This first batch was perfumed with cardamon and coriander and probably would be just as home on an onion pakora as a chevre tartine.

So here are some recipes and also glamour shots of my canning fun.

Green Tomato Conserve
2 organic lemons, scrubbed
12 - 18 oz. water
16 medium sized green tomatoes, blanched, peeled, cored and chopped
10 green cardamon pods, 3 cloves, 1 piece mace, 1 T coriander, 1 small cinnamon stick tied into a large piece of cheesecloth and tied with a long string
2 cups tart apples, peeled, cored and diced
3 cups sugar

Peel lemons end to end, then cut peel into thin slivers. Using at least an 8 quart stockpot, cook peel in the water for 30 minutes (start with 12 oz then add as the water cooks off, making sure pan never dries). Add apples, tomatoes, sugar and the spice bag (tie the long string onto the handle of the pot for easy removal). Bring to full boil and boil 20 minutes, stirring often.
Remove spice bag. Reduce heat to simmer and cook a further 20 minutes, stirring often.
Slice peeled lemons very thin, then add to mixture and cook a final 20 minutes, stirring often.
Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Water process for 15 minutes if not fridge storing.
Gobble up!
Some Blueberries in Molasses that, erm, molded...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Historic dining out and wines from Bath

I hate writing short posts. I hardly ever do it, but if I haven't yet visited a restaurant what do I have to write aside from a short list of expectations embellished by anticipations. But as I write this post and commit to posting it, I lock myself into trying these places.

A few days back I discovered a little blog that I liked and am sad to say, seems to be left fallow even more than mine. Still the 3 posts that it has are noteworthy and now I am very excited to try out Kettner's in Soho. I am looking forward to trying their brasserie, love dining in an historic (opened in 1867 by Napoleon III's chef, Kettner) and yet still gorgeously lush (the champagne bar seems to have a lovely speakeasy feel) setting and am tickled that I have a partner in crime who would like to ditch the kids one day and have tea at The Pudding Bar. How could you not adore that name?

And a little more down market, but probably just as thrilling is a place that may very well satisfy my craving for bahn mi, pho and the like. I just read here and there and here about Bahn Mi Bay in Bloomsbury. Sure, I'll have to make it a day trip, rather than the little pop round the corner I had in San Francisco, but for good pho and good bahn mi, I'll manage. Plus I can pop in and carry it all over to Coram's Fields and happily munch while the munchkin plays. I can already tasted the pate, feel the crunch of the crusty bread and pickled whatnots inside. Maggi sauce awaits!

Alright, that's two restaurant visits I have to make good on, onwards into the wine...
Since moving to London in early 2009, I have been very disloyal to every wine shop I encounter. I've dabbled. I brought home bottles jammed in the bottom of the buggy from Kew, sat on the bus for an hour just to bring home a little this and that from The Winery and even nurtured a relationship with our local wine expert at Nicholas (sadly he seems to have moved back to France). The other big names, Jeroboams, Odd Bins, Majestic have seen me pop in from time to time, often making use of their delivery offers. But the latest long arm reach for wine has been so successful I may abandon most of my London wine shops for good (I will go back on this, I know I will, of course I will) as I have been delighted by the February Case selection from Great Western Wine in Bath. I discovered them very much by accident back in January while searching the google maps for the guest house that accommodated us for a mini break while my folks were in town. Bland name recalling long uncomfortable journeys on National Rail, sneaking someone's reserved seat since we were last minute and they never showed, GWW is nothing like their name. The palate of the wine buyers there is distinct. I am far from a wine snob and the longer I live in the EU, the more ignorant I feel, but there you are- an unassuming wine shop that will make every bottle seem a treat to this food pairer. Loads of good tasting notes. New world, old world. Heavy hitters, gulpers and a couple of subtle reds from France in the last batch. Friday I will be enjoying the first of my two cases I just ordered- Bin Ends and the March selection. Let's hope it's a long relationship.

Friday, March 4, 2011

It's that Tea Cakes time of year, again.

I've been a little extra enamored of my Tartine Cookbook this winter. The chill in the air coupled with a somewhat unreliable boiler (it was touch and go around Christmas) has turned me into someone who has the oven on constantly. Yet I'm a perfect candidate for an Aga... Who am I kidding though? I've always been that girl.

It all started with an overstocked of treacle (so Steamed Gingerbread Pudding) then moved on to a stockpile of bananas so ripe they went black. Perfect company for the dates we brought back from Marrakech which were in need of a dish to fill out (and so Banana Date Teacake). Poppyseeds in need of a home went into the very short lived Lemon Poppyseed Teacake (which sadly may prove itself much longer lived as chunk on my midrif). I feel that Tartine's authors, Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson, are a rarity in the current world of celebrity cooks.  They are very capable chefs who run a successful franchise while managing to publish cohesive, reliable and delicious recipes. I hope there will be more cookbooks and their careers will be long. What this Londoner wouldn't give for a quick stop in for their gougeres, to be devoured in Dolores Park in the afternoon sun (yes it's San Francisco so the sun is as rare as the Prueitt/Robertsons of the world, but there you go... my fantasy, my way).

Not until I accepted that the fragrant quince-pear puree I had lovingly simmered was not going to magically transform into membrillo unless I got on the ball did my baking spree depart from the Tartine book (with a little shortbread cameo from my other desert island book- the Baker's Dozen cookbook). I searched and searched for the recipe that would hit all of the things I wanted in my tea cake- to use up all my puree, to have nice crumb aided by my backstock of semolina and yield deep earthy undertones by using olive oil. On my hunt, I found some nice things to try in the future- Egyptian Basbousa, American Applesauce Cake, Italian Olive Oil Cake, etc etc... Then I just decided to wing it. I mean I used to be a professional baker, right?
Luckily the gods were smiling at me on the first try. I like the cake recipe I came up, although I may try to add a little more acid in the form of yogurt to give it more levity on the next go. But sitting here with a slice and cup of, looking out my window at London at large, this will do.


2 cups hard winter or bread flour
1 cup semolina
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon chunky sea salt (e.g., Maldon)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup + 2 T olive oil
2 1/2 cups quince puree*

Into a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Add raisins, oil and quince puree. Beat until well blended. Pour batter into greased and sugared 11" x 7"  loaf pan. Bake at 190ºC/ 375°F for 55 minutes. Check cake's moisture before removing from oven. I use a fan assisted oven, so if yours is strictly conventional, your time may be longer by around 10 minutes.

*To make Quince puree:
Core and quarter one large quince and 6 small bosc pears. Place in a saucepan with 1/2 cup sugar. Drop in an optional 2" piece of fresh ginger, smashed slightly. Cover with water and simmer until the quince is quite soft, about 2 hours. Allow to cool so easier to handle and then run the solids through a food mill, retaining the liquid and adding this back to the mashed solids. Alternately, I used a potato ricer and then carefully pressed the mash through a medium sieve to remove any pips or bits of skin. This recipe should yield around 3 cups. (p.s. If you have extra it mixes nicely with gin and ice for a shaken cocktail)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Couples dining, February style

Since we first became parents nearly 3 years ago, dining in has changed a bit. My husband and I have always been avid restaurant patrons, researching the best places, what's new and hot, wiggling to get a seat at our favorite chef's latest venture. It's a habit we've slowed on but still we steadily patronize several places in London with our son. He's good at the table, an adventurous eater and is developing table manners that are slightly better than a very excited puppy.
But being the parents of a toddler is not the reason we're dining in this Valentine's Day. No, the reason is the same it has been since my husband and I never go out on Valentine's Day- I'm a February holiday curmudgeon. Many people really love going out for an intimate dinner on the 14th, sharing their expectations of a perfect evening with every other patron in the restaurant they hand selected months before based on lighting, menu and choices of bubbly. I've always felt like it's amateur night for diners. Some couples use this night to splurge like an anniversary or a wedding proposal.
We choose to stay in, and having been a chef for nearly 20 years I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

This year, we will have some new things to sup on. And we'll be double dating with my parents, so there goes any prospect of table smooching. Aah well.

So enough with the rant.
Here's what I'll be making this Valentine's Day.  Last week I ran out of sweet vermouth making cocktails for everyone and not wanting to nip out for a new bottle and, moreover, not wanting to stop at one cocktail each, I invented my new house cocktail: The NW3 Manhattan. It's taken the house by storm. So we'll be starting our festivities on the 14th with those. While sipping those the soup will be warming and the bones roasting away in the oven. I'll do my utmost best to try and keep myself from tippling too much before I sear the scallops in brown butter and chop the parsley salad.
Since it's supposed to be an evening of indulgence and fun for both my husband and I (and our son and my parents, but I imagine the latter three will not be cooking...) I'd like to feel a little treated. So I'll be skipping any slaving over a chocolate pudding the day before. No drizzling or scalding or baking, just  contacting my friend Raffaella of Baruzzo Chocolates and purchasing a selection of her latest line. Pure indulgence. We may round out the lovely meal with some sips of the Bruichladdich 17 Year Old Pedro Ximénez Sherry I've been meaning to try. A nice coda to end the evening.

For anyone else who wants to skirt the mobs on Valentine's, here's my recipes. And long live love, goopy, corny, breathtaking. Whatever brand yours is...

Happy Eating!

The somewhat lazy but decadent menu
NW3 Manhattans
Stilton on Charcoal crackers

Oak Smoked Diver Scallops and Brown Butter Seared Roe floated on Parsnip Velouté
Paired with Brugans Albarino

Roasted Bones with Parsley Salad and De Puy Lentils
Paired with 100% Pinot Noir

Baruzzo Chocolates with Sherry finished 17 year old Bruichladdich

The Recipes

NW3 Manhattans
Shake 1 part Pedro Ximénez sherry with 2 parts bourbon and ice until very cold. Serve up in a chilled martini glass and garnish with the usual cherry. A Fabbri Amarena cherry is my fave.

Oak Smoked Diver Scallops
After too long to admit without being embarrassed, I have found a good source for Oak Dust in London. So I have returned to the world of smoking fish in my dutch oven. First stop was scallops. What a reward for the wait. The very lightly smoked little morsels had the suppleness of flash seared scallops and a subtle, smoky taste of oak- as if they were wrapped in bacon.
serves 4 as a first course

8 diver or U6 scallops with roe attached
1 tablespoon oak dust
1 t blended olive oil or rapeseed oil (as flavorless as you have)
fine salt
1 knob butter

Clean the scallops by removing the roe and connective tissue, rinse in cold water, drain and dry. Clean up roe by removing (I use scissors) the brown yucky bit. Rinse in cold water, drain and dry.
In the bottom of a dutch oven, sprinkle 1 heaping teaspoon oak dust. Cover and put over medium heat.
Toss the scallops lightly in oil and a bit of fine salt then place, well spaced apart, in a vegetable steamer basket. Once the dutch oven starts to give off a wisp of smoke quickly open, drop the basket in and leave to smoke for 5 minutes. Remove right away, preferably near a window!
The scallops will not cook in the dutch oven, only infuse with the smoke flavor.
Heat the butter in a saute pan until it browns lightly. Sear the scallops for a few minutes on each side. Set aside on a plate and then sear the roe.

A not so flattering photo of the soup...
Parsnip Velouté
Serves 4 as a first course
300 grams parsnips, peeled, cubed to 1 cm
1 medium leek, chopped
1 small potato, peeled, cubed to 1 cm
1 tart apple peeled, cubed to 1 cm
2 litres homemade duck stock (or chicken stock)
1 T duck fat (if you have it, other wise a nob of butter)
Put all of the ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat then simmer for 20 minutes. With an immersion or upright blender puree to smooth. Salt to taste. Add fresh ground black pepper if you like.
Serve in low wide bowls, topped with seared scallops and roe.

I would happily eat this every day but best not to.
Roasted Marrow Bones 
serves 4 as a main course
4 marrow bones, about 3-4" long
Moen and Sons sells very nice bones through Natoora, or you can ask your local butcher if they can prepare bones for you. You may want to clean up the outside of the bones by carefully scraping with an offset spatula or your knife if you're brave.
Blanch the bones in a large stockpot of boiling water for 3 minutes, remove from the water and drain for a few minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200 and roast the bones for 30-40 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 160 F. They will retain their heat for quite a while so I let them rest for 5 minutes before plating.

Parsley Salad with de Puy Lentils
1 cup de Puy lentils
2 T olive oil
1 T sherry vinegar
Sea salt, to taste

1 bunch flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 shallot, cut to a fine julienne
3 T capers, coarsely chopped
6 treviso leaves, coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, from the heart, sliced fine on the diagonal
1 carrot, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced fine
2 T olive oil, very fruity
Salt to taste

Soak your lentils overnight then steam for 10 minutes, then toss with olive oil, salt and vinegar. Set aside. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss.

To serve, place a 1/4 of the lentils on each plate, top with the parsley salad, making sure some of the lentils show. Place a roasted bone next to this and serve with thin, long handled spoons or marrow spoons if you're lucky enough to have them.

Serve with very lightly toasted, sliced brioche.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

January Secret Dinners- 5 Course Euro Comfort Food

Hello Friendly Diners,
With the holidays past, and having ushered in a new year, I'm pleased to announce another month of Secret Dinners by Runaway Kitchen.  This month is final bow for the three part series- Comfort Foods of the World.  We've gone to Latin America, Japan, Korea and now we are going to stay put in Europe.

Menu is attached below.
Same drill: first email, first served.  Tell me your preference of which night, and also let me know if you can take a seat on the other night if I'm already full.  The cash contribution is £40 per person again, bring your own wine/drink.  I'll send pairing recommendations in the confirmation email.

Hope to fill up both nights and have as lively a time as ever!  Also, if you would like to forward this email along to anyone you think is game, please do so, just have them let me know who sent them so I can thank you.
Annick @ Runaway Kitchen

5 Course European Comfort Foods Dinner- January 27th and 28th, 2011. 7:30 pm

Amuse Bouche:
Duck Sausage Rolls

Basque Cheese and Pimenton Terrine

Treviso and Bone Marrow Risotto

Georgian Lamb Stew with Pomegranate and Pumpkin

Lithuanian Carrot Baba with Smoked Mackerel Whip

Chocolate Pots de Creme with Bergamot-Quince Pate de Fruits

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bergamot and Quince Pâte de Fruit- huzzah!

One quince, a big supply of bergamot and loads of gelatine
I've been messing around with ideas for how to use the supply of bergamot available from Natoora.  I've made a huge amount of marmalade, used their juice in cocktails and yesterday set to task making pâte de fruit armed with only a few recipes for berry based pates.
Loads of zest- the extra I dried and plan to use here and there later.

Making the jam.  Bubble bubble.
Surprisingly, these charming little sweeties are so easy to make that I had success after the first attempt.

Since I like to share, here's the recipe:

Bergamot and Quince Pâte de Fruit
2 apples, russets if you can find them, peeled, seeded and grated
1 medium quince, peeled, seeded and grated
2 1/2 cups sugar
zest of 5 bergamots
micrograted peel of one apple
1 1/2 cups bergamot juice

Equipment: one half sheet pan, lined with parchment.

Cook these ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan until they set to jam.

Meanwhile sprinkle 3 T gelatine on top of 1/2 cup water, slowly mix to avoid lumps. Add in 1/4 cup boiling water, stir to dissolve.

Add 1 cup sugar to the fruit jam.  After 5 minutes, add the gelatine mix.  Remove from heat and pour into parchment lined half sheet pan.

Allow to cool at room temperature then cover with a second sheet of parchment and place level in the fridge overnight.

Next day, remove the top parchment.  Pour a generous amount of sugar into a high sided pan, then cut away a 1" strip from the edge of the pâte. Cut this strip into as many 1" cubes as you can and gently toss then in the sugar.  Plate and serve or wrap in cellophane and give away as gifts to multitudes of friends.


Since I like to share, if you're in the northwest corner of London and would like some, let me know- I have a bumper crop!