Monday, December 31, 2007

Dum Luk Nogs Eggs

One of my favored youthful seasonal indulgences was the local dairy's eggnog which showed up maybe December 5th and was gone by the 31st.

Nowadays it seems to appear before Halloween and stick around until after Valentine's. Like xmas tree lights it is stretched to serve every occasion of the dark, cold, time of year.

The Kidtm enjoys the stuff as I did. So every year I get to sample the local brews, which are mostly not remarkably different from my memory. Well, except for one very small local organic dairy who make an excellent, in all respects, eggnog.


They put cinnamon in it.

To them, I suspect, this is an old family recipe that they have served time out of mind and adore. I have even less doubt that they have a loyal following who approve of this practice, for each year they bally forth's the same treasured product.

So, what I say here has nothing to do with their hard earned success in all they do -- including their eggnog. But... I find the addition a specious adulteration which no sane, or opinionated, asshole, such as my self, will tolerate. There.

I know, he perorates, how to nog an egg properly. Attendez, mes enfants, so:

Separate a dozen eggs.
Beat the whites stiff.
With the same beaters, without cleaning, beat the yolks until thick and light. Add a cup or more of granulated sugar a little at a time. Less is best but this measure is entirely to your own taste. Add a tablespoon of vanilla and a teaspoon (or more) of freshly ground nutmeg. Now add a quart of heavy whipping cream. When mixed pour into a suitable bowl.
Fold in the beaten whites.
If not serving immediately, cover and refrigerate.
Else: Ladle into mugs, cups, glasses, steins, dancing slippers or what you like.
At this point you have a sort of ecumenical, or Unitarian Universalist, nog which can be offered to everyone able to stand. For those who like to blunt their wits with something of the maker's art, elevating their soul to commune with the higher spirits, add a wee, or not so wee, dram of what you fancy.

"Pairsonally," said the auld git, "Ai prayfer the malt on t'side."

And a very happy New Year to us all!!
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Sunday, December 30, 2007

On Ways to Stuffing a Goose

n.b.: Cooking fowl at proper temperatures to insure succulence and tenderness creates an excellent environment to grow bacteria in stuffing inside the goose (Turkey, duck et al.) Better to use discardable aromatics in the cavity and make the dressing in a casserole.

An Evolution of Dressing

When I commenced to start to begin to learn (as Del would say) how to cook a goose, I followed the recipe in the Horizon Cookbook, and used this for stuffing:

Persian Cracked Wheat and Apricot Stuffing

½ lb dried apricots, pitted1 tsp dried sage
1 cup tawny port winesalt and pepper
2 cups cracked wheat bulghur)½ lb dried prunes, pitted and halved
¼ cup butter2 med onions chopped
1 /3 cup pine nuts1 cup beef broth

Soak the apricots in the port overnight. Reserve port to baste bird.Soak the cracked wheat in 4 cups of water for two hours. Drain well.Melt the butter and fry the onion and celery, add the well-drained cracked wheat, and sauté for five minutes. Season with sage, and salt and pepper to taste.Mix in prunes, pine nuts, drained apricots, and broth and simmer for 30 minutes. Makes about 6 cups, enough to stuff body cavity and neck of a 10-pound bird

-- Horizon Cookbook, 1968

This is very good.

But, always one to paint a gilt lily, I became so full of myself as to make this:

(Full of enough shit to stuff a goose)
By Martin Langeland
C 2001

This is my evolution of the Horizon Cookbook's Persian Cracked Wheat Stuffing.

A day or so before use fill a quart jar half full of dried apricots. Fill the remainder with your selection of dried fruits such as Prunes, dried cranberries, dried sweet or tart cherries and so on. Chop if you like, I leave them whole. Add a cup of tawny port, cover and turn end for end several times each day until used.

On the day, sauté a medium onion and the top of a bunch of celery — the more leaves the better thinks I — in butter or butter and olive oil until the onion softens. Add garlic, celery seed and a bit of cayenne.

Take a half cup each of cracked wheat, pearl barley, white and brown rice and add to the vegetables. Substitute grain of your choice for some or all of the above. I found this a very pleasant combination, though I am not certain anybody else who tried it agreed. Sauté the grain (two cups in all) for about five minutes. Add a quart of chicken stock. You may need to add more if the grain absorbs it. Cook about twenty minutes until the grain is cooked. Past crunchy is better than at crunchy. Add the dried fruit and port mixture.

Fill a casserole or mold with the result and bring on the goose.

Reheats just fine. Those who like consider it a fine winter breakfast without any toppings.

My problem with both came about when I discovered that dried fruits were too much sugar for me. So this year I made the following:

Dum Luk's Cherry-Hazel Nut Stuffing

Soak a cup of bulghur in 12 oz. water for one hour. Meantime sauté a finely diced sweet onion in a quarter cup of butter until translucent. Add a tablespoon or so of garlic. Salt and pepper and celery seed to taste. Add two ribs of celery finely diced. Then add the bulghur with its water and a can of chicken stock. simmer 20 minutes or so until the bulghur is cooked. Add a cup of dry roasted hazel nuts, a cup of sour pie cherries. Fill a casserole. Pour on a miniature of Frangelica, or a couple of tablespoons of tawny port, or what you will. cover and refrigerate until needed. Heat about 30 minutes or more at 350of.

Go, thou, and vary according to your taste, your cupboard and the company you keep!

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Foolish Feast

I have long believed, without evidence beyond my laughable wit, that the Twelve days of Christmas were twelve days in duration.
Elaine informs me otherwise:
My source (Matthews, J. 1998. The Winter Solstice) says that

Christmas Day is just Christmas Day and thus = Day # 0
Day #1 =
St. Stephen's Day a.k.a. Boxing Day
Day #2 = St. John's Day a.k.a. Mother Night
Day #3 =
Holy Innocent's Day or Childremass
Day #4 = The Feast of Fools

Day #5 = Bringing in the Boar

Day #6 = New Year's Eve a.k.a. Hogmanay

Day #7 =
New Year's Day, a.k.a. The Kalends of January
Day #8 = Snow Day

Day #9 = Evergreen Day

Day #10 =
St. Distaff''s Day
Day #11 = Eve of Epiphany, a.k.a. Festival of the Three Kings

Day #12 =
Epiphany, a.k.a. Twelfth Night

also note that Matthews considers the Winter Solstice to last two days, 12/21-22
So, happy fourth day all even though five days have elapsed since Christmas.
I have no problem adding twelve to zero to produce twelve, the math works. But I think there may be some objections in making Christmas a nothing day.
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Thursday, December 27, 2007

How Cooks My Goose

Goose do require a modest amount of fuss in prep. After that they are no more challenging than turkey. Thinks I.

First item: Have two roasting pans and a rack that allows for easy transfer of the goose from one to the other.

Fetch your goose, between 8 and 12 pounds, early enough to be completely thawed by the time you mean to prepare it for cooking. Wear expendables: grubbies or a working apron. Roll your sleeves up. You will get intimate with this goose which always means a bit of mess.

Preheat oven to 350of. Unveil the goose from out of its packaging and rinse it. If the innards are in the cavity, remove them and reserve. Inside one end will be two great wads of fat. These pull away easily. Do so and reserve them to render later for deep frying oil. Slide your fingers or a rubber spatula (I end up using both) between the skin and the meat. Try not to break the skin. Do this all over the trunk of the goose. Prick the goose with a fork all over through the skin BUT NOT INTO the meat. Spoon as much garlic as you like between the skin and the meat. Salt and pepper ad libidum inside and out. Collect a bouquet garni of sage, thyme, rosemary and what-have-you-else. Add the leafy end of a celery rib or two and a halved onion with its dried outer layers and ends still attached. Shove all of this into the cavity and place the bird breast side down on the rack in the first roaster. Cover with a tent of aluminum foil, shiny side in to reflect the heat. Convey the goose into the oven.

That is most of the fuss.

Let the bird render for one to one and a half hours, until you have at least an inch of fat in the roasting pan. Set the innards to simmer in a pot of water, with a bay leaf crumbled in, covered, for about an hour. Meanwhile finely dice a small onion, a rib or two of celery, and a carrot. Place this in the second roasting pan with some garlic, sage, thyme, etc. When the hour expires remove the first roaster from the oven carefully to not spill any of the quart or so of hot fat you now have. Place it in an out of the way spot where you can leave it 'til the next day. Transfer the goose to the other roaster. Turn it breast side up. With its foil tent tucked in put the bird back in the oven for another hour to two hours depending on the size of the goose. You can tell it is done by how freely you can move a wing or a leg in its socket. Remove the foil tent and rub the bird with a stick of butter (or brush melted butter over the skin). Return to the oven for fifteen minutes, or so, until the skin browns and crisps to your preference. Remove from oven and transfer the bird to a carving platter and let it rest for twenty minutes or so, before carving.

Whereas the first roaster was filled with mostly fat, the second roaster should contain a nicely browned collection of vege, juice and fat. Pour this into a blender or food mill and whiz it into a puree. Add a tablespoon or so (depending on thickness desired) of flour while it whirls. Deglaze the pan with a half cup or so of tawny port. Add to the liquefied vege/drippings mixture in a frying pan or sauce pan, and heat. Stir frequently as it nears the boil. As it thickens add buttermilk (about two cups) and, or, the water the innards simmered in (about one cup), to the gravy. You can add the heart and liver to the blender, or not. Or feed them to the cats or dogs.


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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day Morn

The ghost of Gluttony Past conjoins with the remains of Gluttony Present:1. Sourdough Kaiser Rolls; 2. Mince Pie; 3. Pumpkin Pie; 4. Anise cookies; 5. remnants of peppernotten and pfefferneuse; 6. Chocolate Pepper Cookies; 7. Fruit Cake.
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Boxing Day Cat

Lapsang takes his ease after breakfast.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cooking is Science

Science is experiment.

Experiments do fail.


My post, Another Fruit Cake, contains a recipe for Tropical Fruit Cake which came out of Dorothy's recipe file. It is a light, as in color, fruit cake featuring Brazil nuts, dates and maraschino cherries. I vaguely remember Dorothy making this, though I preferred her darker Royal King Fruit Cake.

Ann remembers it, too.

So, for the first time, I tried to follow the recipe on Dorothy's card. Uncharacteristically I stuck pretty close to the directions and measures on the card.

The result was not good.

It made eight small loaves. It over baked, slightly, in an hour, rather than an hour and a half to two hours, in a cooler oven than called for (because my oven usually runs about 25o hotter than set). Each is an Andean diorama of Brazil nuts, cherries and dates barely connected at the bottom of deep crevasses with a rubbery sponge. There was not enough batter to cover the nuts and fruit, which is how I remember this cake. Separating the batter ingredients from the filler shows the recipe to be a basic sponge: Roughly equal parts of sugar, flour and eggs. (I think three eggs would be about three-quarters of a cup.)

So the problem would appear to be a mismatch in the quantities of fruits to cake. I would recommend cutting the fruit and nuts in half, or doubling the batter parts. Except. I double checked the recipe I used with the original card. They are the same. Here's an almost identical version of Dorothy's recipe that I found through Google.

Now I have about a pound of beautifully roasted Brazil nuts agglomerated to a scant pound of too dried out dates by a thin plastic sponge.

Maybe I could add more batter and steam it to rejuvinate the dates. Maybe I could break it up and start over with just the batter?

Maybe I could just start over?

Maybe I could forget it?



Update: Steaming makes the dates soft and the sponge less rubbery which saves the cakes. Moral: Watch the oven to prevent over baking. Still don't like the proportions.
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Monday, December 17, 2007

Yes, If ...

I whole heartedly support Digby's point here ...


Like South Africa, who created the truth commissions AFTER the Blacks were freed to be equal to the Afrikaner Party of De Klerk and VerWoerd, The Re-Thugs and the Media grant that Democrats, progressives and all non re-thugs are equal to Capitalists.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Order of Battle For the Cook's Christmas Day

Rather than consult a host of cookery books, or, infinitely worse, trust my memory, I like to print out a sheaf of recipes for the day and one or two preceding which I meditate upon during those clusters of moments when my frazzled ego screams at my dazed id: Fer gawds sake what comes next? Here is a sketch of one such. I will add to it to make it more complete:

Shopping List
Xmas 2006

1/3cupbleu cheese

olive oil
1tspfennel seed
1bunchItalian parsley
1 cupoatmeal
1 bunchbroccoli
2cups buttermilk
6slicesred onion
1 1/2tspsage, thyme etc
curly endive
1/2cupwild rice
1lbsbrown sugar
1/2tspginger root
1 1/2lbschicken breast
42ozchicken stock
1 1/2tblvegetable oil
1/4 cupcider vinegar
12 ozcranberries
red pepper
red potatoes
6 medonions

Yield: 6 Servings

3 Eggs1 Cup Cake Flour
1 Cup Milk2 Tbl Butter
Preheat oven and popover pan (muffin tins) to 375°f. Beat eggs light in electric mixer or with whisk. Slowly add milk and flour until a consistency of heavy cream is reached. Add a dash of salt. Divide the butter into each cup. Fill with Pop over batter. Bake for 35 minutes.

Buttered Eggs With Sausage
1/2 Lb Ground Chicken Salt & Pepper
1 Cup Matzo Meal1 Tbl Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves. Smashed6 Eggs
1 Tsp Sage2 Tbl Heavy Cream
1 Tsp Thyme4 Tbl Butter
1/2 Tsp Rosemary,Crushed1/4 Cup Italian parsley
1/8 Tsp Cayenne

Mix Chicken, Matzo meal and herbs. Refrigerate overnight.
Make patties and saute in olive oil or schmaltz until done. Place on a serving dish to stay warm. Add a bit of oil or butter if needed. Crack the eggs into the pan. When the whites begin to set, add the cream and salt & pepper. Stir gently. When almost done, add parsely and butter.

Crecy Soup
Yield: 6 Servings
Great British Cooking

1 tbl butter20 oz water
1 lb carrots1 tsp sugar
1 orange, juiced3 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup all purpose floursalt & pepper
20 oz chicken stock1 cup watercress, chopped

Cut carrots in 2" pieces. Melt butter in stock pot. Add carrots, onions and garlic. Saute for about five minutes. Add flour. Stir well and gradually add the stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the sugar and simmer 10 minutes more. Remove from the stove and puree in a blender. Return soup to stock pot. Add orange juice and cream. Season. Reheat it very gently. Do not boil! Garnish with Watercress. OR, to serve cold: Transfer to a clean bowl and chill for at least three hours.

Christmas Goose
10 lb goose1 tsp celery seed
1/2 lb apricots, dried1/2 tsp cayenne
1 miniature Frangelico1 cup hazel nuts, chopped
2 tbl olive oil1 cup tart apples, diced
2 cups wild rice1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped fine
2 cups bulgar20 oz chicken stock
6 cups water1/4 cup flour
1/4 lb butter1 qt buttermilk
1/2 cup onion, diced2 cups peaches
1 tbl caraway seed2 tbl butter

If frozen, thaw goose completely. Soak apricots overnight in Frangelico. Preheat oven to 350°f. Reserve innards. Remove fat (Save to render) Slide finger or rubber spatula between meat and fat layer under skin. Carefully prick skin to fat, but not into meat. Brush with olive oil. Cover loosely with foil. Put 2 cups water in pan. Place bird, breast down, on rack over pan. Roast 1 hour. Pour rendered fat and water out of pan. Reserve. Turn bird breast up. Simmer innards on top of stove. Return to oven. Raise temp. to 400°f. Roast 1½ hour more. Cook wild rice and bulgar in water. Add 6 tbl. butter at finish. Chop onion, apples, nuts and parsley. Saute onion in 2 tbl butter until translucent. Crush caraway and celery seed in a mortar and add with cayenne. Add apples, nuts, parsley and stock. Simmer 10 minutes. Mix into rice and bulgar. Fill casserole dish. Cover. Bake 30 minutes at 350°f.When bird is done, set out of the way for 20 minutes. Then move bird to platter. Pour off fat. Save for later use. Deglaze pan with water from innards. Reserve drippings.Make a roux of 6 tbl goose fat and ¼ cup flour. Cook. Add pan drippings and cook til thick. Add buttermilk. Saute peach halves in butter until brown to garish platter and plate.
Turnip Yer Nose
Yield: 6 Servings
-ml- 1999

3 lbs turnips1 tbl sesame oil
3 tbl cilantro, chopped1 tbl sugar
3 garlic cloves1 tbl sesame seeds
3 tbl rice vinegar2 tbl Canadian bacon, chopped fine.

Peel and cube turnips. Boil til just cooked. Drain. Mix remaining ingredients. Add to turnips and toss to coat.
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Friday, December 07, 2007

Another Fruit Cake

UPDATE! Read before baking!

Ann reminds me that Dorothy made another fruit cake less molassesy dark, but also rich and moist and loaded with dates. Ann says she has encountered the recipe now and again in odd places. Once she saw it in Vogue magazine. It is called Tropical Fruit Cake and features red and green maraschino cherries and whole Brazil nuts. The last item is lacking in the Royal King Fruit Cake recipe as Dorothy made it which leads me to wonder if I have conflated the two recipes in making my own version. Hmm. frailty. Mumble...mumble.

Tropical Fruit Cake

Categories: Cakes
Yields: 6

3 cups Brazil Nuts
1 pound Dates Pitted
1 cup Maraschino Cherries Red & Green Mixed
0.75 cup Flour All Purpose
0.75 cup sugar
0.5 teaspoon baking powder
0.5 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Dump nuts & fruit into a large bowl. Sift dry ingredients together. Add to fruits & Nuts. Mix with hands until well covered (The nuts and fruit, not your hands, silly.) Beat eggs in a small bowl until foamy. Add vanilla. Pour over fruits & nuts. Mix well. Bake in greased, papered loaf pan in a 3000f. oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Sinterklaas Dag

So yesterday the Kidtm informed me that it had been years since I had made a Peppermint Roll. There was no arguing with this. It is true.

Too late for the Dutch observance of Saint Nick's day, and all but too late for the day itself when much of the rest of the world celebrates the grand bishop of Turkey, patron of children, who mostly made it a practice to rescue young girls, whose families could not dower them, with sufficient of the ready to find a proper husband and avoid a life of desolation as either a spinster or prostitute. To this humble foundation the World and his Wife have added substance and structure over many centuries and in much of the planet. Many cultures remember his generosity by giving him vast scope to gift all the children of the world with ephemera of far greater worth (to toy makers and retailers and multifarious and nefarious bankers) then dozens of dowries. Some have changed his name: Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Pere Noel, Nikolaus, Sinterklaas, or more colloquially: De Sint. The time of his appearance has been moved about to suit the convenience of whatever establishment there may be. Even his costume changes along with his avoirdupois.

The Dutch call him Sinterklaus and welcome the jolly gent on his arrival from Spain a day or two before the fifth of December as he saunters in his red and white Bishop's rig, complete with miter and crozier, from the docks into town on his white horse, Amerigo (or maybe Schimmel). Gamboling at his side is his faithful servant, Zwarte Piet. Black Peter is a moor. Thus the whole set up ties in with a 16th century milieu as the product relaunch for this version of Saint Nicolas. Piet's function is to toss handfuls of Peppernotten indiscriminately at all and sundry, and to hand out the gifts after Sinterklaas has pronounced judgment on the behavior of the household's children. Sometimes these character assessments are delivered in verse. Whether doggerel or poetry depends on the ability and taste of the writer (usually der Pa or der Ma). Willful miscreants were suitably treated to Morally edifying gifts such as a bit of coal, in mindfulness of their current destinalion, or a wisp of nutritious straw. The ones who sweet talked their way past the parental sense of duty to cuddle in the indulgence spot got more various things, useful or otherwise.

But, today, Piet makes some uncomfortable. Is he a racist stereotype? Depends. While folk argue that one, some turn Piet blue or orange, which possibly will offend any old punk rocker in the neighborhood. Perhaps the most true position is to concentrate on his role as helper, rather than his appearance which is true to the historical context, but not germane to the modern role.

Here then are this year's Peppernotten and the Peppermint Roll, which is a chocolate meringue rolled around whipped cream and crushed peppermint sticks.

Peppermint Roll

Categories: Dessert
Yields: 10

3 tablespoon Droste's (Dutch processed) Cocoa
0.5 cup powdered sugar
5 Eggs separated
0.75 cup heavy cream
0.5 cup peppermint sticks

Preheat oven to 350f. Line a jelly roll pan with wax (parchment) paper and butter and flour it. Sift together cocoa, powdered sugar and a dash of salt. Separate eggs. Beat whites stiff. Beat yolks light. Add dry ingredients. Fold in whites. Pour into jelly roll pan. Bake 20 - 25 minutes. Turn onto a cloth sprinkled with powdered sugar. Cool slightly. Beat cream stiff. Spread over meringue. Crush peppermint sticks between two sheets of wax paper. Sprinkle on cream. Roll. Wrap in wax paper and chill.
Adjust the time and temp to suit your stove.
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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Unconventional Conventional Wisdom

The old quote (slightly racist):
Fool-a-me-once: Shame on you!
Fool-a me twice: Shame on ME!
Then Del rectified:
Fool-a-me-once: Shame on you!
Fool-a me twice: Shame on ME
Fool-a me three- times: NO CAN BE!!!
Now, go see Digby for Fool-a-me-37,858,576,37218.
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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Moral Certainty in Economics

Somewhere in the midst of stagflation two brothers meet. Drink. Discuss.
Marty (Artistè): The economy is out of control.
Henry (Banker): Nonsense. The Fed has complete control. But it takes time, maybe six months, for a Fed action to show up in the economy. Kind of like you turn the steering wheel and a bit later the car begins to turn.
Marty: So, if I'm on a mountain road full of switch backs and the fed turns the wheel to go 'round a curve, six months later the car will turn?
Henry: That's right.
Marty: And six months later where, exactly, is the car? If I turn the wheel even three seconds too late I know where it will be: Bottom of the ravine.
Henry: Mmphf.
Marty: So, tell me, How long does it take the Fed to figure out how much to turn the steering wheel and which way? A month? Three? Instantaneous?
Henry: You have to gather the statistics and analyze the data.
Marty: You call that control?

The rest is irrelevant drunken muttering.
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