Later On

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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Dinner and a note on cooking chicken breasts

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Boneless skinless chicken breasts are 0 Weight Watchers points, so we have been having them often, chopped up in salads, added to chili, ratatouille, stews, etc. I have been poaching them the way Cook’s Illustrated suggested, as described in this post. Because the breasts are cooked relatively quickly, you must pound them to a uniform thickness (more or less) so that the thinner parts are not overcooked in the time it takes to get the thicker parts done.

However, I recently learned that bone-in skin-on chicken breasts are also 0 Weight Watchers points if you strip the skin off before serving. Since those are cheaper than the boneless skinless sort, I decided to go for it. I used my large (11″, 4-qt) All-Clad Stainless sauté pan and put in 2.5 qts water, 3/4 c soy sauce, 2 Tbsp sugar, 1/4 cups salt, and stirred it up. Then I put the 3 bone-in skin-on chicken-breast halve to marinate. They occupied a single layer (and were slightly cheaper than the boneless skinless versions).

I let them marinate for about 3 hours. There was no way to pound them to uniform thickness, so I needed to cook them very slowly so that the thickest parts arrived at 160ºF at around the same time the thinnest parts did.

So I drained them, returned them to the sauté pan, covered it, and put it in a 200ºF oven for 2.5 hours. Check the temperature then. If it’s above 160ºF in the thickest part, that’s fine with me.

Let it cool, then strip off skin and bones by hand and refrigerate for use in salads, ratatouilles, etc. The nice thing about cooking them this way instead of, say, roasting them, is that this way the skin is rubbery, pale, and unappetizing, quite unlike the crisp, brown, tasty-looking skin of roasted chicken.

And tonight we had a black-eyed pea salad that was quite good:

1 cup dry blackeyed peas
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped
3-5 oz baby arugula, chopped
200g feta, crumbled—7 oz, essentially. I formerly used 8 oz, but now we’re in Canada, and metric rules.
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice or lime juice
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp minced or crushed garlic
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
1 bunch large scallions, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped small
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp capers, drained
3-5 anchovy fillets, minced
2 Tbsp tamari
NO salt (feta does it)
2 Tbsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 can chunk white tuna, 120g drained (amps the protein, adds no points)

Cook beans (they take about 45 min after soaking), drain, and add all ingredients. The arugula probably amounts to 2 cups, compressed.

Stir/toss well until thoroughly mixed. The Wife likes this as well.

They sell pickled eggs in the supermarket, and eggs—like tuna—are zero points and high in protein. So next time I might slice 2-3 eggs into the salad, with or without the tuna.

Feta is 22 points, olive oil is 8 points, plus 1 poit each for mustard, garlic, and lemon/lime juice. However, it makes an enormous amount: I estimate at least eight 1-cup servings—so 4 points per serving. If it is sufficient for 10 servings, as seems likely, then it’s 3 points per serving.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 April 2018 at 6:47 pm

The original maraschino cherry and the US industrial imitation

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Robert Lamb writes is Gastro Obscura:

THE MENTION OF A MARASCHINO cherry usually conjures up one of two images: Either a bright red bead atop a scoop of ice cream, or a dark, liqueur-preserved globule submerged in a cocktail. There’s no confusing one of these cherries for the other, though. Each represents a distinctive food culture, a unique preservation method, and even a different plant species. Yet consumers and manufacturers alike refer to them both as maraschino cherries.

The story of how two wildly different fruits became known by the same name begins with the maraschino cherry’s Croatian roots. The craftspeople in Croatia’s Dalmatia region first began preserving their cherries in liqueur roughly two or three centuries ago. According to Christopher J. Jolly’s Science, Service, and Specialized Agriculture: The Re-Invention of the Maraschino Cherry, major historical sources agree that its birthplace was the town of Zadar. Here, in this ancient city on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, locals enjoyed access to traditional maraschino cherries’ key ingredients: The dark cherry Prunus cerasus var. marasca—which they brined in seawater—and the clear maraschino liqueur derived from its fermentation.

The Girolamo Luxardo company, founded in Zadar in 1821, is the best-known maker of both maraschino liqueur and maraschino cherries. The First and Second World Wars forced many Croatian farmers to relocate to Italy—so Luxardo has operated as an Italian company since 1945. There, those with a sweet tooth can still find jars of their maraschino cherries in liquor stores, with their dark contents immersed in a thick, sweet crimson syrup.

Still, these original maraschino cherries aren’t what many people, especially in the United States, have come to expect atop a banana split, or speared through with a plastic sword. So where did the contemporary maraschino cherry arise?

Cherry liqueur and preserved cherries already had a place in American cuisine as far back as 1742. That’s when The Compleat Housewife cookbook, replete with recipes for sugar-preserved cherries, cherry wine, and cherry brandy, first made its way across the pond. So when maraschino liqueur and cherries made the voyage across the Atlantic, palates were ready. As Jolly points out, confectionary stores likely peddled these imports alongside their various sweets, nuts, and liquors. Maraschino ice cream popped up in 19th-century American restaurants and, by the early 20th century, had solidified their place as a cocktail favorite. They were also ingredients in popular candies, such as the chocolate-covered cherry. . .

Continue reading.

Luxardo maraschino cherries are divine, and The Eldest also recommends Fabbri maraschino cherries (which I have on order now that she recommended them).

Written by LeisureGuy

27 April 2018 at 10:23 am

Posted in Daily life, Drinks, Food

“Make America Dinner Again”

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Very interesting.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 April 2018 at 9:57 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Politics, Video

Non-stick pans and toxic gasses and the carbon-steel solution

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On reading this post, The Eldest emailed to remind me of something I had vaguely known but forgotten: “The guidance for the non-stick T-Fal says to never heat it above medium, and never heat it empty.  Non-stick stove-top cookware off-gases toxic chemicals if heated empty, and should never be used to sear, etc. All stovetop non-stick cookware does this.  Even the “green” kinds.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission rejected putting black box warning labels on non-stick stovetop cookware because the instructions that come with the products explain how to use them safety — explain they should be used in a well-ventilated kitchen, that pet birds should not be in the vicinity (the off-gasses kill them), etc.” I’ll add that the temptation with a nonstick skillet is to crank up the heat because the nonstick coating acts as an insulator, preventing the pan from getting as hot as I want it to. That insulation is why searing food in a nonstick pan is in practice impossible.

Her reminder was enough to kick me into action. I knew that carbon-steel pans were nonstick if well-seasoned and used frequently, so I did a bit of searching and found that America’s Test Kitchen (the Cook’s Illustrated people) had reviewed carbon-steel pans (see below for a video discussing how to season and use carbon-steel skillets, and a demonstration of their nonstick qualities). In the summary of their review, they note:

  • SEARS LIKE CAST IRON: A carbon-steel skillet can brown food just as deeply and evenly as cast iron. It also has two advantages: It heats up more quickly, and its lighter weight makes it easier to handle.
  • PERFORMS LIKE STAINLESS TRI-PLY: Carbon steel heats virtually as evenly as stainless-steel tri-ply (aluminum sandwiched between stainless) but can brown more deeply; our winner costs one-third of the price of our favorite tri-ply skillet from All-Clad.
  • AS SLICK AS NONSTICK: Carbon steel is as slippery as brand-new nonstick, but it sears better, doesn’t have a synthetic coating, has no oven-safe temperature limits, and lasts forever.

They rated as best the Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Round Frying Pans. The 8 5/8″ size is what I wanted for my morning eggs. Earlier I had purchased for my cast-iron pans this conditioner, which will undoubtedly work on the carbon-steel pans as well (though the conditioning method in the video looks pretty simple).

Their review summary for the Matfer Bourgeat pan:

This affordable pan had it all: thick, solid construction; a smooth interior with no handle rivets to bump the spatula or trap food; an ergonomically angled handle; and sides flared just right for easy access but high enough to contain splashes. Steaks formed a deeply crisp crust, tarte Tatin caramelized beautifully and released neatly, and fried eggs just slipped around in the pan.

The T-Fal is destined for the trash as soon as the new carbon-steel pan arrives on Tuesday. Update: The instructions that came with the pan said to do the potato peels, salt, and oil thing twice before using the pan to ccook, and so I did. I used it for breakfast this morning: absolutely terrific and very nonstick.

Update. The seasoning method described in the video (and in the instructions that came with the pan) did not work so well, but this method worked surprisingly well:

UPDATE: I have continued to have sticking issues with my carbon-steel pan that I use for eggs, but I figured that it was just a matter of time and continued using it daily. It was mostly nonstick, but still the eggs would stick in a couple of spots. After each use, I would use a nylon-coil scrubber and hot water to clean it, and then re-season it with some oil.

Today, after about two weeks, I had a completely nonstick egg: it slid nicely around the pan and when I flipped it to make an over-easy egg, there was no sticking. So the magic ingredient is some patience. I did the above procedure (sautéing the green leaves of scallions) three times along the way, and also sautéed an onion a couple of times.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 April 2018 at 8:45 am

A dark-chocolate shave and my breakfast this morning

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The Chiseled Face synthetic in the photo, like the Phoenix Artisan Valentine’s Day Dark Chocolate shaving soap and aftershave, is a one-off, though all are delightful.

The lather loaded the brush with brown soap, but as I worked the lather into the stubble it became white—and very fragrant, for those who like dark chocolate. (I in fact have a wonderful dark-chocolate rye whiskey.)

Three passes with the Rockwell 6S R3 plate was easy, comfortable, and effective, and a splash of the dark-chocolate aftershave finished the job.

Then I enjoyed a good breakfast. I put my small (8″) T-Fal pan over medium heat (6 on my 10-point dial on electric range) and let it sit to warm, since the non-stick coating is insulating (which it is difficult to sear meat in a non-stick pan—and because the nonstick coating will release toxic gas if heated on high).

UPDATE: It turns out that nonstick coatings are not to be warmed empty because the toxic gas is released even if the heat is not high. As The Eldest wrote to me, “The Consumer Product Safety Commission rejected putting black box warning labels on non-stick stovetop cookware because the instructions that come with the products explain how to use them safety — explain they should be used in a well-ventilated kitchen, that pet birds should not be in the vicinity (the off-gasses kill them), etc.”

So I am discarding my current nonstick T-Fal pan and from now on will use this 8″ carbon-steel skillet (rated best by America’s Test Kitchen), which is nonstick if well seasoned and often used, and I found this conditioner for cast-iron and carbon-steel cookware, which will be a big help in seasoning. No more nonstick for me.

This post discusses carbon-steel pans in greater detail, including an interesting video of the testing and benefits.    /update

When the pan is well-heated, add:

2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
good pinch of salt
several grindings of black pepper

Sauté for a few minutes until the onion is soft and translucent, then add:

3/4 cup chopped oyster mushrooms (emphasis is on the caps, not the stems)
5 bay scallops
[1 chopped Serrano pepper, if I had had it]

When the mushrooms start to release their water, add:

4 cherry tomatoes, sliced (the ones I have are long, like little Roma tomatoes)

When tomatoes have cooked through, add:

2 jumbo eggs, beaten in a bowl

Use spatula to stir and turn, then slide it into a bowl. Very tasty and only 3 WW points (from the olive oil—everything else is zero points).

Also: two mugs of tea (in a 1-pint mug).

Written by LeisureGuy

21 April 2018 at 9:37 am

Posted in Food, Recipes, Shaving

Repeat of Pork, Apple, Red Cabbage and Black Rice GOPM

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I remade this GOPM, altering the recipe to accommodate lessons learned. Here’s what I did this time:

As usual, I list the layers in the order in which they were put into the pot (from the bottom up, in effect).

Rub 2.25 qt Staub cast-iron round cocotte (or other ≈2 qt cast-iron dutch oven) with olive oil, then add the following, all of which are 0 WW points except as indicated:

Layers
1/3 cup black rice (aka “Forbidden Rice”) (7 WW points)
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tbsp = 1 WW point)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
6 oz boneless pork sirloin, cut into chunks (3 WW points)
1 Honeycrisp apple (or other apple), cored and cut into chunks (don’t peel)
light sprinkling of ground cinnamon
6 oz boneless pork sirloin, cut into chunks (3 WW points)
3/4 cup chopped or shredded red cabbage

Pour-over
1.5 Tbsp olive oil (6 WW points)
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (1 WW point)
2 tsp tamari sauce

Put the lid on, put into pre-heated 450ºF oven for 45 minutes, remove, let sit 15 minutes and enjoy.

Total the way I made it is 20 WW points, and for us this is 4 servings, thus 5 WW points per serving.

Result

The rice was more nearly cooked, but still a little al dente. Next time I make it I’ll try it with pot (Scotch) barley. Regular white rice would probably work well.

I found in the earlier recipe that the pork as it cooked welded itself together into a solid chunk, so this time I split it into two batches, and with each I spaced out the pork pieces somewhat, with the apple layer between the two pork layers. This worked out very well and the pork remained in small chunks.

I didn’t use ginger, but that was fine. There was still more liquid than I expected. I might skip the tamari next time.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 April 2018 at 6:42 pm

Posted in Food, GOPM, Recipes

Mouse melons

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If I had a garden, I would plant these immediately. From the link:

Although very similar in taste, cucamelons are more sour than standard cucumbers and have a slight lime flavor. They make a great snack on their own, though a dash of salt is recommended. In cooking, they’re used in the same ways as cucumbers, with one primary advantage: No slicing is required. Chefs add them to salads and stir-fries, while bartenders use them as a cocktail garnish. The fruits also have a firm outer skin that makes them perfect for brining into adorable, crunchy pickles.

Also from the link:

 

Written by LeisureGuy

20 April 2018 at 10:12 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

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