Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Low carb’ Category

Perfect evening (with photos)

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Where to start? Right now I’m having a wonderful Manhattan, made with Gibson’s Finest Rare 12-year-old Canadian whisky (which back in the day meant rye whisky, but probably a rye-and-wheat mix—I’ll have to get some genuine rye: Crown Royal Northern Harvest or Odd Society Prospector (scroll down)), Martini & Rossi red vermouth, and a dash of Angostura, of course. (The great cartoonist Vip – Virgil Partch – did cartoons for their ads for years. “Don’t forget the Angostura!” It’s burned into my brain.) Example at right.

But for the past few hours I’ve been letting this flat-iron steak rest at room temperature (“tempering” the steak). Note the unusual grain, running lengthwise through the steak rather than across (as the in T-Bone, Porterhouse, rib-eye, NY/KC strip steak, etc.). It’s a very tender steak, however. In the photo I have already applied a thin coating of extra-virgin olive oil. I cooked mine this way in my No. 8 Field Company pan, which I heated in an oven to 500ºF, and using the sauce described at the post.

And while the oven came to temperature, I used this recipe to make 8 oz sliced Crimini mushrooms (scroll down). I discovered that my 11 7/8″ Matfer Bourgeat carbon-steel skillet is ideal for this. It provides a lot of room, and I can heat it on the range top rather than in the oven. And, like the cast iron, it is nonstick.

Here are the mushrooms before:

and after:










With the steak and mushrooms I had a glass of an inexpensive Côtes du Rhône.

And to add to all that, I’m reading “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea,” which offers an escape when the Amazon Prime Video “Hanna” becomes too tense. I do think translating the movie into a series is working well: makes you more conscious of the texture.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 April 2019 at 6:11 pm

Another food new to me, simmering now: Duck gizzards

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They’re a good size. I cut them in half through the thin membrane that attaches the two halves, the across each half. I’m cooking in a tomato sauce, so I used the stainless 4-qt sauté pan. Recipe has been updated (see below).

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
7 shallots, chopped
1 large jalapeño, chopped small (including core and seeds)
3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 green, yellow, or red bell pepper, chopped (see below)
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp ground black pepper
2-3 tsp dried marjoram
2-3 tsp dried thyme
2-3 tsp cracked dried rosemary
4-5 tsp Mexican oregano
2-3 tsp smoked paprika
8-10 cloves garlic, chopped fine
10-12 medium-large Crimini mushrooms, quartered
1 cup chopped celery
1 chayote squash, diced somewhat small
1.5 lb duck gizzards, quartered
1 can Ro-Tel Original tomatoes with green chiles
1 14-oz can whole Italian plum tomatoes with juice
1 540ml can diced tomatoes (with black pepper and roasted garlic, the label says)
1 small can or jar of tomato paste
good dash of Red Boat Fish Sauce
good dash tamari
juice of 1-2 lemons
1/4 cup sweet vermouth

Sweat the onions, shallots, jalapeño, and olives in the olive oil over medium heat, then added the herbs and cook them a little more.

Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the mushrooms, celery, chayote, and gizzards.

Cook that for several minutes, then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, fish sauce, tamari, lemon juice, and vermouth. I would have added some pitted Kalamata olives if I had them. (I have to go out, so maybe I’ll get some.) I also would have added a chopped green bell pepper if I had had one on hand. I do have a yellow bell pepper, come to think of it. I’ll add it now. And I added it to the list of ingredients above in the place where it should have gone. Updated photo (and the gizzards are more visible now after 30 minutes of simmering):

The tomatoes and lemon juice are for acid: gizzards have a tough muscle. The sweet vermouth was just to use up the bottle, though in this sort of recipe I’ll often add a little red wine, and the vermouth works for that.

I’ll simmer it uncovered for an hour. It’s got a lot of liquid, and reducing that somewhat will be good. In the photo that’s a duck gizzard quarter at about 8 o’clock. The gizzards and the quartered Crimini mushrooms look alike, which is the idea.

If I were still eating carbs, this is the sort of thing I might have with crusty bread—a baguette, for example—or perhaps with rice. A red wine would be good with this.

Obviously, this would also work with chicken gizzards, though those I might just halve.

Update: My shopping trip to get pitted Kalamata olives was successful, and I updated the recipe to include them at the appropriate place. I also got some chayote squash; my regular store had been out, and if I had had one I would have diced it and added it with the mushrooms, celery, and gizzards (as noted above). Chayote squash is another relatively new-to-me food, and I like it a lot. (I also got a tin of Colman’s Mustard Powder, which for some reason was hard to find. I use it mainly for my quick & easy steak.) The recipe I made today is without chayote, alas.

Update again: I just added some tomato paste and will simmer it a bit. Recipe updated for that, too. (This is how I cook: adding things as they occur to me.)


Written by LeisureGuy

18 April 2019 at 12:48 pm

To Cook a Steak, First You Must Unlearn What You Have Learned

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Emily Timberlake has an interesting article in Taste on the way to cook steak over coals. From the article:

Conventional Wisdom: Remove your steak from the fridge and temper it for 20 minutes before cooking.

Franklin Steak SaysTwenty minutes won’t make any difference at all. And in some cases, it’s better to throw your steak on cold!

“For super-thin pieces, I’ll sometimes throw it in the freezer, wait until it’s really, really cold, and then put it on the grill,” says Franklin.

The first time I read this piece of advice in the manuscript, I was certain it was a mistake. But the more I think about it, the more Aaron’s counterintuitive advice makes sense. If you’re cooking a steak thinner than one inch, say a skirt, hanger, or even a thinly cut strip, and if your goal is rare or medium-rare doneness, then you want to slow the cooking of the interior to give yourself enough time to develop a proper crust on the outside of the steak.

A giant piece of meat, by contrast—say a bone-in tomahawk rib eye, which might weigh as much as 2 1/2 pounds, or a standing rib roast—benefits from tempering, since it will take quite a bit longer for the interior of the meat to reach doneness, and you risk drying out the exterior if you start grilling meat when the interior is super-cold. But for a piece of meat that massive to reach room temperature could take hoursPersonally, I’m fine leaving a hunk of meat on the counter for that long. The USDA, not so much. “We did check the gradient on how fast a steak warms on the counter,” says Mackay, “and it’s very slow. Taking it out of the fridge 30 minutes before you cook it, or even an hour, especially for a thick piece of meat with a bone in, ultimately does very little.”

I do this right: when I cook a thick steak, it sits out for around three hours.

Conventional Wisdom: Don’t flip your steak too often—let it rest in one place on the grates. You know, for those magazine-worthy grill marks that are clear sign of the perfectly cooked steak.

Franklin Steak Says: Those grill marks are a lie. The goal is an allover crust, so flip early and flip often.

This doesn’t really apply for indoor cooking so much, but I do get my cast-iron skillet good and hot before the steak hits it. (See this post.)

Conventional Wisdom: Rest, rest, REST!

Franklin Steak Says: As soon as you can touch your steak without burning your fingertip, slice the thing and serve.

And this too I’ve been doing right.

Read the whole thing. More tips in it, along with a couple of recipes.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 April 2019 at 2:09 pm

Tasty dinner with prawns

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I had bought 1/2 lb wild Sea of Cortez prawns, so I shelled them and put them in a bowl of brine and let them sit an hour or so. Then I got out my prized 11 7/8″ Matfer Bourget carbon-steel skillet, shown above. (The one pictured at the link hasn’t been seasoned. Mine has.) I added to the pan:

1.5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2–3 shallots, chopped small
1 medium jalapeño, chopped fine
good pinch of salt
several grindings black pepper

I sautéed that, stirring occasionally with a wooden spatula, until the shallots were cooked to translucency: “sweating” them over medium heat.

I turned up the heat to medium-high and added:

2–3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 chayote squash, diced small (I’m really liking these)
1 cup oyster mushrooms (stems and caps)

I sautéed, stirring occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes, to get the chayote squash pretty much cooked. Then I added:

1/2 lb wild prawns, brined and drained — and I usually halve the prawns crosswise.

Continue sautéing until the prawns are done, stirring fairly often. It doesn’t take long.

You could include some sliced cherry tomatoes, as well, and perhaps some chopped Kalamata olives, but the way I made it was really tasty. 6 WW Freestyle points if you eat the whole thing, which I did.

Update: It occurs to me that when you put the prawns into the brine, you could cook some quinoa or pearled barley in chicken stock or bone broth. Then when it’s done, drain it and add it to the skillet with the squash or even with the prawns. I would probably start then with 2 Tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil, not 1.5. That would, however, substantially increase the WW point count, and would not really be low-carb.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 April 2019 at 7:58 pm

Tasty improvised shrimp dish

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There’s bok choy, then there’s baby bok choy, much smaller, and then there’s bok choy mue (which I had not previously seen), which is infant bok choy. That’s one “head” of bok choy mue in the photo about 1.5″ tall, but this is a particularly small specimen. Most are like tiny versions of baby bok choy about 2-3″ tall. (I like that this ambitious little bok choy mue has already flowered.)

I had a bag of frozen raw peeled Argentinian wild red prawns. I put them in a big bowl of brine for ah hour to thaw and brine, then drained them in a sieve and cut them in half crossways.

I heated my No. 10 Field Company skillet in 350ºF oven, and while it heated, I chopped.

10 cloves garlic, minced
1 long bunch flowering chives (a bundle 15 inches long), chopped small
1 bunch large scallions, chopped
1 yellow summer squash, diced into about 3/4″ dice
1/2 bitter melon, diced the same
1 large jalapeño, minced, including core and seeds
about 3 cups of bok choy mue, chopped

When the oven beeped, I turned on a burner to medium high and let it heat, then I moved the skillet from the oven to the burner and turned off the oven.

I added:

1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

and put in the onions, chives, and a good pinch of salt. I stirred that and cooked it for 4-5 minutes, untill it cooked down some, then added the remaining vegetables. (I had everything prepared before I started, of course, with the chopped veggies in a bowl.) I cooked that, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, then added:

the shrimp
about 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1.5 tablespoons organic white namu soy sauce

I cooked that until the shrimp were done, about 6 minutes or so, then turned off burner and let it sit ont the heat.

I dipped up a bowl full and squeeze over it 1/2 large lemon.

Very tasty, if I say so myself.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 April 2019 at 6:31 pm

The evolution of ketchup

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Amy Bentley in the Saturday Evening Post describes the origins and development of ketchup:

Ketchup is arguably the United States’ most ubiquitous condiment. Ninety-seven percent of Americans have a ketchup bottle in the fridge, usually Heinz, and we buy some 10 billion ounces of the red stuff annually — almost three bottles per person per year. We purportedly spend more money on salsa, but in terms of sheer volume, ketchup comes out on top.

Bright red in color, tangy, sweet, salty, and replete with a “meaty,” tomato-ey umami hit, ketchup provides accents of color and flavoring, as well as a smell and texture that is familiar and comforting. It’s the perfect complement to the American diet, contrasting with salty and fatty flavors while enhancing the sweet notes in our most popular foods. And while we think of it as “merely” a condiment on what we’re really eating, it has helped to revolutionize the way food is grown, processed, and regulated.

We slather ketchup on french fries, hamburgers, and hot dogs (though ketchup with this last is, for many, anathema). We pour it on eggs, mac and cheese, breaded and fried clam strips, and chicken fingers. We use it as an ingredient in sauces and casseroles. Back in the 1980s, politicians and activists even debated its questionable status as a vegetable in school lunches, though in later decades ketchup’s distant cousin salsa made the cut, as did tomato sauce on pizza.

Ketchup is an exemplar of New World-style industrialized food, its distinctive sweet-and-tangy flavor borne of the rigors of mass production. Quintessentially American, ketchup is seamlessly standardized and mass-produced — qualities, along with cleanliness and low cost, that Americans have traditionally valued in their food, often at the expense of taste. Shelf stability, in essence, created what we call “American flavor.”

Ketchup was not invented in the United States. It began as a fermented fish sauce — sans tomatoes — in early China. British sailors bought the sauce, calledke-tsiap or ke-tchup by 17th-century Chinese and Indonesian traders, to provide relief from the dry and mundane hardtack and salt pork they ate aboard ship. Over the next couple of centuries, ketchup spread throughout the British Empire, traveling around the world with the navy. When they returned home to England, sailors and others sought to reproduce ketchup to liven up standard, stodgy meat-and-potato dishes or stewed fish, or to add flavor to gravies and broths. Recipe writers and small manufacturers experimented to re-create the complex flavors of the sauce, substituting nuts, mushrooms, or shallots for the fish. Most cookbooks of the early 19th century included a few recipes for various kinds of ketchup.

But ketchup became truly American once it was wed with the tomato and bottled industrially. While an early ketchup recipe with tomatoes appeared in Britain in 1817, calling for “a gallon of fine, red, and full ripe tomatas [sic],” and also anchovies, shallots, salt, and a variety of spices, it was Americans who really invented tomato ketchup.

The American tomato, with its origins in what is now Mexico and South America, was introduced to Europeans and North Americans by the Spanish conquistadors, and by the 19th century, it had become a ubiquitous garden plant. (Earlier it had been considered unhealthy and even poisonous.) Tomatoes became the base of many a sauce or stew, and before long were bottled as concentrated, fermented ketchups, preserved with vinegar and spices much the same way housewives would make a mushroom ketchup.

But as historian Andrew Smith notes, tomato ketchup became wildly popular, its use spreading rapidly to all regions of the U.S. American meals during the 19th century, much like the British diet of the time, consisted of stews, soups, rough cuts of meat, vegetables and fruits when in season, and bread, bread, and more bread. Tomato ketchup’s flavor and color literally spiced up some rather monotonous protein and grain combinations.

U.S. manufacturers began mass-producing tomato ketchup in the late 19th century — and that processing shaped the condiment’s particular flavor profile. Early bottled ketchups fermented or spoiled relatively quickly, but industrial producers found that adding extra vinegar helped preserve them. Over time, they added more and more vinegar, and then they started adding sugar, too, to balance the vinegar’s sourness. Ketchup became more sweet and more sour than it originally had been. Americans became acclimated to this particular flavor profile of commercial ketchup — which was different from the ketchups produced by home cooks. It was thicker in texture, made with more sugar, and had a brighter, more pleasing red color (thanks to additives and preserving methods) than homemade. Industrialized ketchup began influencing other American foods. As U.S. cities grew, so did the number of diners, hamburger joints, and chicken shacks — purveyors of often greasy meals that paired very well with tomato ketchup.

Food scientists at Pittsburgh-based H.J. Heinz Company eventually hit upon the perfect balance of sweet, salty, sour, and umami, creating a precisely calibrated product that was difficult for others to replicate — a “platonic ideal of ketchup,” as writer Malcolm Gladwell has noted. The Heinz Company displayed its wares at international expositions, spreading the gospel of ketchup throughout North America, the British Isles, and beyond.

On the strength of its just-right recipe, as well as its manufacturing reach and global aspirations, Heinz quickly became the leading American ketchup producer, selling 5 million bottles per year by the early 1900s.

In addition to its industrial recipes, Heinz also was instrumental in developing, perfecting, and promoting sanitary production methods, not only for its ketchup but for the dozens of products it manufactured. The company helped standardize bottle and can sterilization, insisted that workers abide by strict rules of cleanliness, and even pushed for sanitary food processing legislation. Other big food processors followed Heinz’s lead. The company made ketchup, and then ketchup influenced the way everything else was processed.

It might not be too far-fetched to argue that later in the century, after altering the way American food tasted and was regulated, ketchup also helped change the way it was grown. Innovations in tomato breeding and mechanical harvester technologies, driven in part by demand for the condiment, helped define modern industrial agriculture. In the 1960s, U.C. ­Davis scientists developed a mechanical tomato harvester. Around the same time, plant geneticists perfected a tomato with a thick skin and round shape that could withstand machine harvesting and truck transport. This new tomato was arguably short on taste, but the perfect storm of breeding and harvesting technology from which it emerged allowed for a steady supply of tomatoes that kept bottlers and canners in business. Nearly all of the tomatoes produced for sauces and ketchup are products of this moment — as are many other fruits and vegetables produced in the U.S.

Early on, ketchup functioned as a great equalizer, with a “special and unprecedented ability to provide something for everyone.” Tomato ketchup became . . .

Continue reading.

I don’t eat so much ketchup these days, but when I want some, I make my own using this recipe. I’ve found that doubling the recipe works best, since after simmering to get the right thickness (which for me takes about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally) the volume is much reduced. I store it in a wide-mouth jar so that it’s easy to spoon out. The taste is terrific, and the absence of sugar seems to me to help the taste.

I think in the next batch I’ll include 3-4 anchovy fillets to up the umami, especially now that I know of the fish-sauce origins of ketchup. (You can also tinker with it by adding a little liquid smoke, a jalapeño or two, and so on: the benefit of making your own.)

Written by LeisureGuy

5 April 2019 at 7:32 am

Ratatouille with chicken redux

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This is a good recipe with flexibility. I’ve found that a slightly higher oven temperature works well (and the vegetables do shrink in the roasting), and you can use the vegetables you like. Tonight, in addition to the zucchini, I also used a yellow summer squash. Yellow bell pepper adds a bright note. I did use the lemon, which adds some zest. 🙂

8 garlic cloves, smashed a bit
2 medium white onions or 1 large
2 medium zucchini
1 medium eggplant (I like to use Chinese or Japanese eggplant)
1 sweet red or yellow bell pepper; or 1 green bell pepper
[optional: asparagus]
2 teaspoons cracked rosemary
1.5 tablespoons dried thyme
[optional: a diced lemon]
3 tablespoons olive oil to toss the vegetables in
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes [try 1 28-oz can]
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 boneless skinless chicken half-breasts, cut into chunks
2 tsp kosher salt
1-2 Tbsp black pepper

Heat oven to 360 degrees (a full circle). Prepare the vegetables: Smash and peel 6 garlic cloves, reserving the 7th and 8th. Halve onions and slice halves into 1/2-inch-thick slabs. Slice zucchini into 1/2-inch-thick rounds (i.e., thick, so they’ll hold up under cooking). Cut eggplant into 1-inch cubes. Seed peppers, and cut them into 1/2-inch-thick strips. Cut asparagus, if used, into 1” lengths.

Toss vegetables (and lemon if using) with olive oil and spread them on a rimmed baking sheet. Add the 6 cloves of smashed garlic and the herbs. Sprinkle salt lightly over vegetables.

Place the pan in the oven. Cook until vegetables are very tender and lightly browned at the edges. This will take at least an hour., perhaps 90 minutes. Don’t worry about the vegetables being pretty; they will meld into the ratatouille. Use a wide spatula to burn the vegetables 20 minutes or so.

Heat the 4-qt sauté pan. Move vegetable from baking pan to the sauté pan. Add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir well. The dish should be quite thick.

Cover and cook over low heat 30 minutes, stirring every now and then, until vegetables are very tender and imbued with juices and oil. Add the chicken chunks and continue cooking for 5 minutes (if the chicken was previously poached) or 12 minutes (if raw). Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve warm, or let cool.

Tonight I’m serving it with sautéed cauliflower “rice,” cooked in butter.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 April 2019 at 5:13 pm

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