Friday, June 29, 2018

Rosie Makes Peach Beehives.

  Ahhhhh...  Peaches.
Is there anything better than reaching for a peach straight from the tree, still hot and bursting from the sun, biting into it,and having the juices dribble down your chin and then down your arm to your elbow?  And then awkwardly licking the juices off? Or biting into that first peach from the box you just bought from a roadside stand on a road trip down some southern byways, where you anxiously watch for those hand-painted signs with the paint dribbling off the letters?  Interspersed every quarter mile or so, those signs mark the journey, ticking off the miles, announcing the bounty of what is to be found ahead.  Those signs - featuring colorful, smiling, anthropomorphized vegetables.  Gotta love 'em.  Fresh corn!  Cantaloupes!  Watermelons! Green beans!  Tomatoes!  PEACHES!!!!!!!
SUMMER is ahead.  It beckons to me.  It envelops me. I am under its spell.

 Where was I?
Oh yeah...  Peaches!

I'm making a favorite today - peach beehives.

Make it easy on yourself and use refrigerated pie dough for this. 

Rosie Tip:  If you don't want to bother making your own pie dough, use the refrigerated dough, never the frozen in the foil pans.  The frozen dough always cracks and makes for a very small pie.  The refrigerated dough is workable and makes a bigger pie.  Refrigerated doughs are your friends.

Lay out the pie dough on a lightly floured surface and slice into strips about 1/2" wide.


One pie dough will wrap 3-4 peaches, depending.

Starting at the bottom of the peach, start wrapping the strips around, pressing the dough into the strip above.  Continue wrapping until you've covered the peach.

I had enough dough to cover 3 large peaches.
Place on baking sheets, bottoms up.
Make some kind of decoration on top (which is the bottom).
I tried doing a bee which turned out looking like a bat.

Sprinkle a little turbinado sugar and cinnamon and grate some nutmeg onto a surface
and roll the peaches in it, pressing into the dough.

Bake the peaches in a 375° oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until pie dough is golden brown.

While the peach beehives are baking, I made a Schnapps Sauce.

Schnapps Peach Sauce
1 peach, peeled and chopped
2 TB unsalted butter
2 TB brown sugar
1 TB peach Schnapps
grated nutmeg (1/4-1/2 tsp, to taste)
pinch kosher salt
Melt butter and brown sugar.  Add in chopped peaches, Schnapps, nutmeg, and salt.  Heat through

I gave up trying to fashion a bee out of dough strips and made a little ribbon instead.

Oooooh....  It's peachy!
Pour some of the chopped peach Schnapps sauce over the beehive.
Excellent dessert.  The peach is like custard.
So good I forgot the vanilla ice cream.
And dang.  That sauce would be wonderful over ice cream too.


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Rosie Makes Hummus.

I have "vegetarian" offspring.  And I have no idea how that happened.
But I roll with it, and today, I'm rolling with one of their favorites - hummus.
As for the vegetarianism, I think the late Anthony Bourdain said it best:
In his book Kitchen Confidential, he wrote “Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food.”

“They make for bad travelers and bad guests. The notion that before you even set out to go to Thailand, you say, “I’m not interested,” or you’re unwilling to try things that people take so personally and are so proud of and so generous with, I don’t understand that, and I think it’s rude. You’re at Grandma’s house, you eat what Grandma serves you.”
Of course, he has even worse things to say about vegans. Bourdain proclaims “I don’t have any understanding of it. Being a vegan is a first-world phenomenon, completely self-indulgent.”

Now that I have that off my chest, let's make some vegetarian hummus!

Hummus  is a creamy spread made from chickpeas along with some other basic ingredients - garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and tahini, which is a sesame seed paste.  It's a Middle Eastern staple and the name "hummus" comes from an Arabic word meaning "chickpea."  And hummus has been around forever.  The chickpea has been cultivated in the ancient Mediterranean, Palestinian, and Mesopotamian areas for thousands of years.

Yes, you can buy a nasty tub of hummus at the supermarket, but why do that when homemade is so much better?  And with homemade, you can tailor the hummus to your own tastes.  Making hummus is not etched in stone.  I'm giving you a basic starter "recipe" and you can take it from there.  If you want more garlic or lemon flavors, add 'em in.  If you like a creamier consistency, you can add water or extra olive.  As for toppings and garnishes, that's completely up to you.  You can make a lovely little pool of flavorful olive oil in the middle.  You can sprinkle cumin and/or togarashi  over top.  (Togarashi is a Japanese blend of dried chili peppers and an assortment of other seasonings - black and white sesame seeds, poppy seeds, nori (seaweed), and orange and lemon zests.)   Other toppings could be roasted tomatoes, paprika, olives, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, mint, basil, cucumber, feta, jalapenoes, cilantro, lime, salsa -  you get the picture.  So many variations on a theme and anything goes.

Hummus can be dipped with tortilla chips, vegetable crudités, crackers, or pita bread.  And if you want to make your own pita bread, go right ahead with this recipe.

Now, let's get started with the hummus.
When I decide to make hummus, I want it now.  I don't want to wait to soak garbanzo beans overnight, nor do I want to use canned chickpeas.  So I use baking soda in the soaking and cooking water.  I might soak the beans in water, to cover, with a teaspoon of baking soda, for about an hour.  (If you have the time and the inclination, go overnight for the soaking.)  Then I put a teaspoon of baking soda in the cooking water when I boil/simmer my chickpeas.  The baking soda speeds up the process.  It raises the pH levels of the water, making the chickpeas more soluble, softening them, and thus they're able to cook more quickly.  It also results in a smoother, creamier texture in the finished product.  Another serendipitous effect of the baking soda results in softening of the skins, allowing one to easily peel the chickpeas.  The alkaline environment created by the baking soda helps to dissolve the cell walls by breaking down the pectin in the beans.  The skins soften and the cell walls disintegrate allowing the skins to be virtually rinsed away.

 And yes, I peel Every.Single.Bean.  

Rosie's Version Of Hummus
Yield:  2+ cups 

Prepare the chickpeas:
1 cup dried garbanzo beans, soaked in water, to cover, with a teaspoon of baking soda
Soak at least an hour.  If you have time, soak overnight.
Rinse beans, then put in pot with water to cover. Add a teaspoon of baking soda.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer.  Simmer 30-45 minutes, then drain and start skinning to remove the peels.  Refresh water, add a little kosher salt, and bring to boil again.  Reduce to simmer and cook until very tender - another 30-45 minutes.  You can't really overcook here.

For the tahini:
1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted 
kosher salt
4 TB or so Bertolli Extra Light Olive Oil
 While the beans are cooking, make the tahini
Lightly toast the sesame seeds until golden.  Let cool.
Put seeds in mini-processor, add a pinch of kosher salt, and process.  Slowly drizzle in a neutral olive oil, processing throughout until mixture is smooth.  I use Bertolli Extra Light since it doesn't compete with the delicate flavor of the sesame seeds.  You want enough olive oil so you have a pourable finished product.

For the hummus:
prepared garbanzo beans
4 garlic cloves
juice of 2 lemons
6 or more TB neutral olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1 tsp cumin, or to taste
1/2 tsp red pepper, or to taste 

In a process, combine prepared garbanzo beans, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice. Gradually add in olive oil, processing until smooth.  Add in enough olive oil until you get the consistency you desire.

Taste test and adjust seasonings and ingredients to your tastes.

To serve, I spoon out the hummus into a small bowl and make a depression in the center.  Pour in a nice flavorful olive oil to make a golden pool for dipping.  I happen to like Campo Corto extra virgin olive oil.  Then I like to sprinkle some additional seasonings on top - more cumin and Togarashi seasoning.

Notice the skins here.  I brought my water and baking soda to a boil and simmered my garbanzo beans for about 30-45 minutes.  The beans are peeling already.  You can agitate the beans with your hands, swishing the water around, to release the skins, which will float away. Pick the skins out and refresh the water, return to a boil, and simmer until the chickpeas are softened.  Maybe another 30-45 minutes.  Remove any remaining skins.

Here are my picked over tender chickpeas.

This is tahini paste.  I like it more pourable than paste.

To the tahini, add in the prepared chickpeas and assorted ingredients and process until smooth.

Add seasonings - salt, cumin, cayenne., Togarashi.

Pool a flavorful olive oil in the center.
Now, you can use scoopy dips...
...But I prefer making my own scoopies.
I decided to forego the tortilla scoops and opted for my homemade tortilla triangles.
I took round flour tortillas, stacked them, and cut into wedges.
Heat the oven to 300° and pour a thin layer of Bertolli extra light olive oil over a baking sheet and throw in about 3 TB unsalted butter.  Let the butter melt as the oven heats.
Take each wedge and dredge through the olive oil and melted butter.  Arrange wedges on baking sheet.  (Use two large baking sheets.  You're gonna love these tortilla wedges.)  Lightly sprinkle cumin, red pepper flakes, and Togarashi seasoning over the wedges.  Bake until wedges are light golden and crisp.
And scoop.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Rosie Makes Cakes Of Crab.

The crab cake.

Question:  What makes a good crab cake? 
  Answer:   Not a whole lot.

When it comes to crab cakes, less is more.
Really, all you need is crab meat, preferably jumbo lump or backfin..
You don't want a lot of filler, or "sawdust."

Finding the "ultimate" crab cake is like finding the best BBQ, the best potato salad, the best cornbread, the best cole slaw.  Everybody's got a recipe and it's a source of debate and fierce regional pride.  It's dangerous territory - a culinary battlefield, so to speak, and it can lead to barroom brawls and family feuds. 

As for the history of the crab cake, it's been around for a while. On one of my recent forays to the recycling center,I found a worn paperback edition of Chesapeake, by James A. Michener. The history of the native Indian tribes of the Chesapeake is documented and many references are made to the regional foods, the crab featuring prominently.  The Native Americans prepared crabs long before the arrival of the colonial settlers and the crab cake was one of the first native dishes adopted by the settlers of the Chesapeake region.

From Chesapeake (circa 1600s):  
" 'What is crab?' Pentaquod asked, and Scar-chin replied, 'When Manitou, the Great Power, finished populating the river with everything our village required - pine trees for canoes, deer to feed us in summer, geese and oysters for winter- He saw that we were grateful and well disposed.  So in His grace He created one thing more, to stand as a token of His eternal concern.  He made the crab and hid him in our salty waters.'
"... A crab provides little food,  so he is not easy to eat.  But the little he does offer is the best food under the sky.  To eat crab you must work, which makes you appreciate him more.  He is the blessing, the remembrance.  And no man or woman ever ate enough.
"... They like us to eat them, Navitan said.  'Manitou sends them to us for that purpose.'  "Pentaquod gingerly touched one and found the shell extremely hard, but he could not examine it closely, for the fierce claws snapped at him.  He was even more perplexed when Navitan carried her two dozen crabs to camp and pitched them into a pot of boiling water, for within moments, they turned bright red.  She then instructed him in how to pick meat from the carcasses, and when she had a clay bowl filled she told him to stop, for she knew that picking crab was a tedious and demanding job: a dozen crabs produced only a handful of meat.
"But when she took this meat, as her mother had taught her, and mixed it with herbs and vegetables and corn meal, and formed it into small cakes and fried them in sizzling bear fat, she produced one of the finest dishes this river would ever know.  'Cakes of crab," she called them, and Pentaquod found them subtle and delicious."

For my cakes of crab, I tried to use the least amount of fill material to just bind the ingredients.

When mixing ingredients, don't work the crab meat much.  Don't break the lumps.  You want the crab meat to be the star.  Be gentle, so the crab meat will respect you.

Try Rosie's crab cakes. I think you'll like them. My family did.  And as Youngest Hawthorne commented, "These are good.  They don't taste like crab-flavored bread." High praise, indeed, from this one.

Rosie's Cakes of Crab Version 12.2
(Yes, it's an ongoing thing.)
Makes 8 cakes.

1 TB minced shallot
1 TB minced celery
1 TB chopped parsley
1 TB lemon juice
1 tsp Gray Poupon Dijon mustard
1 TB mayonnaise
1 egg
1 tsp Sriracha sauce 
1 tsp ground mustard
2 tsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1 lb. lump crab meat, picked over to remove any shell

Beat egg and add rest of ingredients, except for crab meat, mixing until well-combined.  Pour mixture over crab meat and gently combine, being careful not to break up the lumps of crab. 

Form the cakes.  I used a 3-inch-diameter biscuit cutter and lightly pressed the crab mixture into the cutter, about 1 inch thick.  Cover with plastic wrap and set into refrigerate to chill for at least an hour.

Lightly bread the cakes.
 I used a mixture of:
1 part Panko breadcrumbs
1 part potato flakes
1 part crushed Ritz crackers.
Sprinkle breading over cakes.  Both sides.  Lightly press into cakes.  And fry on each side until golden.

Being fresh out of bear fat, I'm using peanut oil.

In an iron skillet, heat about 1/8 inch peanut oil with a tablespoon of unsalted butter until the oil registers 350°.  (I throw in the butter for the flavor.  What can I say?  I like buttah!)  Gently slide the crab cakes into the hot oil.  I fry two at a time so as not to crowd the pan and reduce the temperature.  Fry about 2 minutes each side, until light golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  And serve.

Lightly bread the cakes.  I sprinkle some breading onto wax paper and set the cakes on top, then sprinkle more breading on top of the cakes.

I served these with cole slaw (yet another hotly contested concoction) and Rosie's Remoulade sauce.

Rosie's Cole Slaw
2 cups or thereabouts of shredded cabbage
some carrot slivers
some red pepper slivers
 Combine ingredients.

2 TB mayonnaise
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 TB buttermilk

For the dressing, whisk ingredients until smooth.  Pour over cabbage, carrot, and red pepper.  Toss to coat.  Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper.

Rosie's Remoulade

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 TB Gray Poupon Dijon mustard
1 tsp sweet relish
1 tsp Texas Pete
1 TB fresh dill
freshly ground pepper, to taste
Mix all ingredients until smooth.

Now, that's a crab cake.

Showcase the crab!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Rosie Makes Pita Bread, Tabbouleh, And Tzatziki.

Rosie is traveling the Mediterranean route today.
With pita bread.
And tabbouleh.
And tzatziki!

Pita bread has been a staple in the Middle East and the Mediterranean
for 4000 or so years.
It is thought to have originated with nomadic tribes -
the Bedouins and/or the Amorites.
Pita's prominence spread 
as the tribes traveled across 
the Saharan and Arabian deserts,
exchanging goods and services.

It's a fairly simple bread with limitless possibilities.
Pitas can be appreciated through all the different
foods which can be wrapped by, or stuffed into, or dipped by, the pita.
The beauty here is that pita is both a bread and a utensil.

Basically, pita bread is a leavened flatbread with a pocket,
the pocket being formed by steam trapped during baking.

Now, let's make some pita bread.
For baking, you're going to need a hot oven -
500° will do.
And you'll need a baking stone 
which needs to be heated for a full hour
before you start baking the pitas.

Recipe is adapted from Milk Street Magazine.

Pita Bread
neutral oil (I used Bertolli's extra light olive oil.)
175 grams (1 1/4 cups) bread flour, plus extra for dusting
175 grams (1 1/4 cups) whole wheat flour
1 package yeast
2 tsp sugar
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Coat a medium bowl with  oil.
In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook,
mix flours, yeast, and sugar on low
until well combined, about 5 seconds.
Add water, yogurt, and 2 tablespoons oil.
Process until a smooth ball forms, about 3 minutes.
Poke the dough - it should be slightly sticky.
If not, add a little water, a teaspoon at a time
(2 TB max),
mixing after each addition, until sticky.
Let dough rest for 5 minutes.
Add salt and process at low speed about 10 minutes,
until soft and pliable.
Form dough into a ball and transfer to oiled bowl,
turning ball to coat with oil.
Cover with plastic and let rise in a warm place.
About 1 1/2 hours.

Heat oven with baking stone to 500°.

Dust a baking sheet evenly with bread flour.
Transfer dough to lightly floured surface.
Divide dough into 10 pieces and roll into tight balls.
Place on prepared baking sheet.
Brush each ball with oil and cover.
Let rise in warm area until almost doubled,
 about 60 minutes.

Lightly flour a work surface
and roll each ball into a round about 1/8 inch thick
with a 5 1/2-inch diameter.
Places rounds on lightly floured baking sheets.
Cover and let rest about 15 minutes.

Working quickly,
open oven door and slide 2 rounds at a time
onto the baking stone.
Bake until the pitas have puffed and are a light golden brown,
about 3-4 minutes.
Remove from oven and place on rack, covering.
Repeat with remaining dough rounds.

Now for the step-by-steps:
Here's my dough, oiled, and ready to rise.

And here's my risen dough.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured board
and knead a bit.

Cut into 10 equal pieces.

Form into balls and lightly oil each round.

Cover and let rest a bit.

Roll out into rounds.

I used a lightly floured pizza paddle to 
slide the rounds, two at a time,
onto the hot baking stone.

Puffy pitas!

Now that you have pita bread,
I have two excellent dips for your gustatory pleasure -
tabbouleh and tzatziki.
Both are bursting with fresh summer flavors -
cucumbers and tomatoes,
and the bright accents of green herbs -
mint, parsley, and dill.

1/2 cup bulgur wheat
2 garlic cloves
juice of 2 lemons (1/4 cup lemon juice)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 English cucumber, diced
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced, and diced
2 scallions, sliced
 1 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup chopped mint
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Put bulgur wheat in medium bowl,
pour boiling water over to cover,
cover bowl,
and let sit for at least an hour.
Bulgur will soak up most of the water.
Drain off remaining liquid.
You'll end up with about 2 cups of bulgur.
Combine minced garlic and lemon juice
 and whisk oil into mixture.
Combine prepared bulgur wheat,  
 cucumber, tomato, scallions, parsley, and mint.
Pour lemon juice and oil mixture over
and toss to combine.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Rosie Note:  These amounts are not etched in stone.
If you want more tomato or cucumber, go for it.
Same with mint and parsley.
If you'd like to add in some chopped red onion,
I would not be averse to that.

And if you didn't make you own pita bread,
these dips are perfect with tortilla chips.

1/4 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp lemon juice
1 inch length English cucumber, diced
1 TB fresh dill, chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Mix all ingredients to combine.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
for the flavors to meld.