Saturday, June 27, 2009

grilled focaccia and Brazilian pork rollatini

It was definitely a grilling evening so I pulled out the BBQ Bible and looked for something interesting and that didn't require hours of marinating. I hadn't baked bread in a while so the grilled focaccia caught my eye. The Brazilian pork rollatini looked fun, too. A few garden herbs for a green salad and the menu was set.

This focaccia is unusual in that it's very thin, as it needs to be in order to be grilled. It's a simple and fairly dry yeast dough that rises for an hour or two. It has a touch of olive oil, and the yeast was proofed with some sugar. Other than that, just flour and salt.

After rising it's divided into eight balls, rolled into disks, and dusted with cornmeal.

Before grilling each bread is brushed with olive oil and a bit of kosher salt. I did not use the recipe's sesame seeds. At high heat it takes just a couple of minutes per side.

It turned out really nice. Stretchy and chewy, with good flavor. It almost tastes like a pancake, perhaps because of the very slight sweetness. Well received, and pretty quick and easy as breads go.

The Brazilian pork rollatini recipe comes from a restaurant chain in Rio, with the addition of Dijon mustard and cornichons by Raichlen. Slices of pork loin are rolled around ham, onion, pickle, Gruyere, mustard, salt, and pepper. I can't imagine how he manages to coat the pork in grated cheese and then successfully spread mustard on it, so I departed a bit from the construction instructions.

Before grilling the rolls are brushed with olive oil and topped with a bit more cheese. I rotated by 90 degrees every few minutes until done. I was afraid they would dry out, but they stayed tender and juicy.

Quite good! Not a super sophisticated or intriguing flavor combination, but tasty. Really similar to a Cuban sandwich, actually.

Mojitos made with mint from the garden (but not home-grown limes, sadly) were the final touch. I'm rather pleased to welcome Mojito season!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Alpine rabbit stew

I was shopping at one of my favorite Asian markets the other day and happened across frozen whole rabbit. I have had rabbit only once or twice and probably not for decades, so I picked one up.

By far the most impressive treatment I found online was a recipe for Alpine rabbit stew. I did something similar. I added mushrooms and did not have juniper berries, but otherwise it was pretty close.

My rabbit was well dressed but did not have any internal organs.

The bacon was uncured Hormel product, with no nitrates or nitrites. I probably should have had more onion in my mirepoix.

I used an Italian Malbec wine, which was fairly dry and plenty fine for drinking. We had a chianti with dinner, though.

These Italian tomatoes were $4, or about three times what I usually pay. I imagine Central Market has canned San Marzanos, but I didn't go there. Flavor was very nice, with none of the tinny character that I find even in the ones that are supposedly in cans with non-reactive liners. Ooh! Fat free!

Rosemary, oregano, and thyme were all fresh from the garden.

I mixed about a cup of grated parmigiano reggiano into the polenta, as well as about a half cup of basil from the garden.

Everyone liked both stew and polenta. I do have to say that if I made the same dish with chicken thighs it would have been nearly identical and a lot cheaper. From what I've read, that may not be unexpected from a young farm-raised rabbit. A wild hare might impart a more uniquely rabbity flavor. I guess I'll have to visit Green Lake some morning.

I probably could have browned these a little more.

One element that I would not have thought to include, but that I think was a critical component, is the cinnamon stick. I don't particularly care for cinnamon when it is a dominant flavor, but it contributed a very pleasant depth to the overall experience. I find the same to be true of some Moroccan dishes.

So...very tasty. I'd try it again with chicken, and I'd try it again with a different sort of rabbit.

white radish check

All of the radishes, indoors and out, have magnificent foliage. I wanted to check the meaningful progress, meaning the edible portion, so I pulled a white one in the greenhouse. Hmm. No radish.

The Greenhouse Gardener's Companion notes that radishes like moist, friable soil (check) but cool temperatures, and that a common problem is producing all tops and no edible radish. I seem to have that in abundance. The causes are prolonged warm temperatures (45 - 50 degrees F at night is optimal) or too much manure or nitrogen. We did have a hot spell a couple of weeks ago, but I don't know if it was too much. I wouldn't think that it would be a problem outdoors, compared to in the greenhouse; I'll have to have one of the boys wrench out one of his to compare. Perhaps my interpretation Mel's mix is not idea for radishes.

They are actually beginning to flower now, too. I do think something has gone awry. Bummer.

Update: All six radish squares, indoors and out, white and red, behaved like this. I lean toward it being a soil problem.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

despumating tammied fecula

While exploring rabbit recipes I found one for Coulis de Lapereau au Currie in Escoffier's Guide to Modern Cookery. An excerpt:
...besprinkle with one-half tablespoon of fecula and a sufficient quantity of curry, moisten with the strained cooking-liquor of the pieces of rabbit, bring to the boil, and set to simmer for seven or eight minutes. Rub through tammy and then despumate for twenty minutes...
Well, that left me mystified three ways: fecula, tammy, and despumate? It mystifies my system's dictionary three ways too, unless you think the august Auguste sensed the future unique lamenting voice of one Ms Wynette. Online dictionaries were a little more helpful, though.

Fecula is a powdered starch made by grating roots and stems, and may be tapioca, potato, arrowroot, or many others.

Tammy, or tamis, is a rough woolen cloth used for straining.

Despumation is the process of clarifying a liquid by skimming the scum from the surface.

Feculent was already one of my favorite words, but today it was elbowed aside by fecula.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

hops are starting to climb

The hops growth is accelerating, I think. I started training them on strings recently and they have taken to them nicely. Here are the Centennial and Golding bines. Need to do some weeding!

The Cascades are doing well, but are a little smaller. The Fuggles never came up. I haven't cut any of the shoots.

The other day I spotted a few aphids. I know hops are aphid magnets. I've been crushing them by hand, but that's not a sustainable method of control. Ladybugs never seem to stay around. I'll have to do some research.

grape arbor

After building the grape arbor it was immediately apparent that two enthusiastic young soccer players would be unable to see it as anything but a goal. This was delaying the planting of the grape vines, so I added a couple of posts and a net.

The net was from Seattle Marine & Fishing Supply. What a fantastic store! They do a good business in sports nets, apparently, in addition to selling terrifying large fish hooks and just about everything else you can imagine for life at sea. I went to the store rather than ordering online, and found the service to be fantastic, even for a $20 custom-cut piece of net. Great place, and prices that are way better than any other soccer net supplier I've seen.

I had to go up to the Cenex farm supply store in Everett to find posts like this. If I go back I'll get two more of the smaller diameter posts to replace the 2x4s. I wish I could have found some heavy round posts in a 12 foot length for the horizontal members instead of using the 2x8 beams. I didn't want the arbor to have another set of posts at the time, but now I think I'd do it differently, with six posts and round main beams. Oh well.

cherry-smoked steelhead and salmon

I can now report that cherry smoke applied to salmon is excellent. Same for steelhead.

Since I'm without a smoker box at the moment I have been using the foil pouch method. The chips dry out in just a couple of days once hacked from their trunky home, so I've rehydrated them for 20 minutes before pouching and placing.

The smoke is voluminous from a handful of chips and I've been pleasantly surprised to see it last for half an hour. I'm grilling over indirect heat on foil, with fish at the back and the pouch on the drip shield over the front burner on fairly high heat. The temperature is low enough to easily achieve medium-rare to medium for almost the entire thickness of a fillet.