Saturday, January 26, 2013

haggis reimagined

across the pond
north a bit
january 25th
is a big deal
burn's night
as it is known
is in deference
to a favored scottish poet
robert burns
revelry is compulsory
and so is
words are read
songs are sung
haggis is served

prepared haggis is difficult to find

this year
i set out to make my own version
true to the spirit
its authenticity 
can be called to question

not for the weak of stomach
those with a flair for the dramatic

my version is 
using more readily available ingredients
served in a less traditional fashion

to learn more about burn's night supper


for the uninitiated
haggis is lovely as an appetizer
place a nice heap in a phyllo or pastry cup
top with mashed potatoes

Saturday, January 19, 2013

roasted beet soup

i love borscht
really i do
especially on chilly nights
stick to your ribs
is a necessity
sometimes, however
i like my beet soup
to be rich and creamy
without the meatiness of a borscht
that is when
i make this
(and vegan if you don't add the creme fraiche & butter)
it is light in heft
but not in flavor
roasted beet soup

1 lb beets-peeled*
olive oil
2 leeks--white and light green only--cleaned and cut in half
2 cloves garlic--peeled
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
4 cups vegetable broth (or water)
juice of 1/2 lemon + 1 tsp finely grated zest
knob of butter (optional)
1/4 tsp white pepper to taste (or more to taste)
salt to taste
serve with creme fraiche

preheat the oven to 350F. fill a roasting pan with the beets, leeks and whole garlic cloves.  cover lightly in olive oil and a bit of kosher salt.  toss to make sure the vegetables are all lightly coated in the oil. roast until fork tender (about 1 hour). allow the vegetables to cool slightly and then cut into medium size pieces (1 1/2-2").  toss the vegetables (beets, leeks, garlic), along with any pan juices into a stock pot.  add bay leaf, thyme, lemon juice, lemon zest and cover with broth.  gently simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender.  remove the bay leaf and the thyme stalk.  toss in butter (if using) working in batches, whirl the soup in a blender or food processor, until smooth.  if it becomes too thick, add a bit more broth (or water).  pour into clean stockpot as your batches reach your desired consistency.  if you wish for smooth and silky soup, push the blended soup through a fine sieve.  add pepper and taste for seasoning.  serve hot with a dollop of creme fraiche stirred through
*for my soup i used a variety of colors, you can use whichever beets you have on hand.  use red to get the great color of this soup, but golden beet soup would be beautiful as well.

Monday, January 14, 2013

scottish kilt placemats {in the craft room}

i'm planning a burn's night supper
it happens on january 25th
and is a night of 
literature, revelry

i thought it might be fun 
to have place settings
that match the theme

plaid and kilts
seem very scottish to me
*these are time consuming, but easy for anyone with basic sewing skills. if you have any questions about the tutorial or method, please leave me a comment and i will get back to you in a jiffy

Saturday, January 12, 2013

venison tagine {moroccan}

i may have mentioned before
(a time or three)
that hubs is a hunter
affords us a freezer full of rich meats
antelope, boar, venison, elk

venison works well with the heady spices 
found in an african pantry
venison tagine
serves 4

1 1/2 lbs venison (or lamb) cut into chunks
1/2 cup (about) flour
olive oil
salt to taste
3/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbs garam masala-after grinding*
large pinch saffron threads
2 cups warm water
1 medium onion-grated
1 clove garlic-finely chopped
generous handful dried cranberries or cherries
1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into slivers
1 lemon-grated zest and juice
1 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbs unsalted butter

dissolve saffron in the warm water. preheat oven to 350F. heat olive oil in bottom of heavy bottom (oven proof) pot or dutch oven.  coat the venison pieces in flour and brown in olive oil.  once brown, add in onion and cook until the onion just begins to brown on edges. toss in garlic and give it a few stirs. allow to cook a couple of minutes.  add saffron water, cover and place in preheated oven.  cook until venison is very tender about 45-60 minutes).  remove from oven, add in cranberries (or cherries if using), apricots, honey, lemon zest and juice, almonds, and honey.  place over medium heat on stove and cook for about 15 minutes more. if it appears to be too dry add a bit of warm water just to loosen a bit. if it is too watery, remove the top and cook and stir to slightly thicken.  remove from heat and stir in butter just before serving.
serve with couscous or over rice
*i use whole spices-toast them and then grind in mortar and pestle...but if you can find garam masala in your spice aisle, by all means use it!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

beef and potato samosas

on a trip to india
i was slightly obsessed with street food
i had convinced myself
i would find authenticity and flavor
only imagined

what i hadn't considered
how difficult it would be
to convince others
to stop the car
dig in 

one afternoon
while sitting in the hotel bar
overlooking the taj mahal
i inquired if the kitchen could fix us a few snacks
typical of what locals might eat
they couldn't accommodate
we took the meal 
in our room

you see
my request of samosa, pakora and the like
wasn't upmarket enough for the hotel
if we ate it in secret
they would fix it
lounging on our hotel room balcony
watching the sun set over the taj
while sipping cocktails
is a treat

doing it while
enjoying a loaded platter of savory treats
spicy chutneys
is an experience i won't soon forget
beef and potato samosas
(while the samosas served did not contain beef, i find it a great addition)
1 lb ground beef (max 15% fat)
1 1/2 cup russet or yukon gold potatoes--peeled and cubed
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 cup onion--finely chopped
1 tsp garlic--finely minced
1 tsp ginger--peeled and finely minced
1 tsp thai bird chili--finely minced
juice of half a lime
2 Tbs fresh cilantro--finely chopped
square wonton wrappers (small for appetizer size)*
oil for frying
1 Tbs whole coriander seed--toasted and ground
1 tsp whole cumin seed--toasted and ground
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric
small pinch cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt

Boil potatoes in salted water. Mash and set aside. Saute onion in vegetable oil until golden.  Add ginger, garlic, and chili.  Stir for about 3 minutes.  Add Masala and continue to stir.  Add ground beef and continue to cook until no longer pink. Let cool. Stir in lime juice, cilantro and mashed potato.
Make a cone with the wonton wrapper, sealing sides with water.  Again using water to seal, close the cone and set on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper and dusted with cornstarch.  You may refrigerate for several hours at this point, or freeze for future use.
Heat oil in  heavy bottom pot to 350F.  Drop samosas in a few at a time, careful not to crowd the pan.  Cook until nicely browned.  Serve warm or room temperature with raita and a variety of chutney.

*you may make your own samosa wrappers, as i do on occasion when i want larger portions...but i find the wontons, while not authentic, perfectly delicious and very convenient.

Samosa Wrappers
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/3-1 cup water
sift flour, add salt.  add water a little at a time and mix until you have a soft, but not sticky dough.  cover and let sit for about 30 minutes.  divide dough into 6 portions.  flatten each portion into a disk.  roll each disk to a 6" circle.  cover and let rest about 15 minutes.  roll each circle further into a 12" circle.  heat a griddle and toast each circle slightly (but do not fully dry out).  cut each circle into quarters.  fashion each quarter into a cone and fill.  use water or egg wash to seal the edges and close the wrapper over the filling.  fry in 350F oil until golden brown.


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