Monday Meals: 2019-06-03

Roast Goat Quarter

Roast goat quarter: ingredients

Easter dinner at Fourmilab is usually the traditional Swiss repast of roast leg of goat, served over rice with vegetables. This is an easy-to-prepare, can’t fail meal which is suitable for any occasion. Goat is considered a “red meat”, but I find it most comparable to turkey dark meat in flavour and texture. The taste is unique and not at all gamey. (Of course, this depends upon what the goat was fed. Swiss goats are usually fed on grass and forage; if your goat was fed on garbage and fish heads, all bets are off.)

Roast goat quarter: ready to cookStart with a leg of goat (it’s called «cabri quartier arrière» in the shops here—I don’t want to get into disputes between anatomists and butchers [is there a difference?]—I’m just reporting) between 600 and 1000 g including bones; this will serve two adults. The cut pictured above weighed 716 g, which is about average. Rub the meat with an ample amount of garlic purée (which I buy ready to use in a tube; if you can’t find this or insist on fresh, crush several cloves of garlic) and then sprinkle all over with salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Place in a glass casserole dish large enough to hold the entire leg (you may have to use some force to bend the joint in order to fit; in case it won’t go in, dislocate the joint and cut into two pieces). Peel a medium-sized onion, cut in half, and place the two halves on the top of the meat. A sprig of rosemary (supplied with the goat meat here) placed between the onions will add flavour as you roast the meat. Cover the casserole and place in the refrigerator for several hours (overnight is fine) to allow the garlic, salt, and pepper to season the meat.

Half an hour before you’re ready to start cooking, remove the casserole from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 220° C in circulating air mode if available. When the oven is at temperature, place the covered casserole in the middle of the oven. Make sure the lid fits well—otherwise the roast will dry out. (This is about the only thing that can go wrong with the recipe.) Roast goat quarter: cooked

Leave in the oven for 75 minutes. As you approach the end of the cooking time, make white rice the Fourmilab can’t fail way: take the desired quantity of just about any kind of rice (but not “wild rice”, which is actually grass seed), around ⅓ to ½ cup per person (I use “cup” to mean 250 ml), and place in a saucepan. (I prefer sticky short-grained risotto rice like Arborio or Carnaroli, as it readily soaks up the flavour of the juice from cooking.) Add twice the volume of cold water as rice and, if you like, a little salt. Stir the rice and water to sink any “floaters” then turn on the highest heat setting and wait until the water is boiling vigorously. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting (“simmer”) and cover the pan. Then do absolutely nothing for 15 minutes, at the end of which all of the water will have been absorbed and the rice will be perfect.

Roast goat: ready to serve

When everything is done, remove the casserole from the oven, place servings of rice into bowls, top with slices of goat meat and season with the liquid you’ll find at the bottom of the casserole, which will be a blend of the juice from the roast and onions. (Use a baster to transfer it from the casserole to bowls.)

When it’s time to clean up the casserole dish, soak it in warm water and dish detergent for a while, then use a stainless steel scrubber to remove any baked-on cruft, after which the dish grinder will finish the job.

Save the bones and any leftovers, place in a small sauce pan, cover with water, add a squirt of garlic purée and a tablespoon of vinegar, bring to a boil, and then turn down and simmer for around an hour. Remove the bones, place the stock in a container and refrigerate. The next day you can reheat the stock and serve as soup, as pure broth or after cooking cut-up vegetables in the stock. I usually add some starch-based sauce thickener to give the soup a little more body.

Bon appetit!

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Monday Meals: Asparagus Glut

Without doubt, spring is here.  Violets are in bloom all over the lawns, and half a bushel of asparagus is hauled in every couple of days.  Any ideas what to do with it?

I hear there are steamers and vertical cylinders and so on.  Right now my go-to method involves a big flat pan with a tight lid. Line the spears up in there; cover barely, just barely, halfway with water; apply the lid; bring to a simmer.  A dramatic color change will impress you:  as soon as they heat up they turn very bright green. So stand right there and be ready to shut it all down and yank them out after about two minutes – before that bright green color begins to dull.

A particular flavor of early-season asparagus makes the trouble worthwhile.  It tastes like fresh, raw, green peas.  As long as it is not overcooked, that flavor will make it to the table, along with a tiny little bit of crunchiness, too.

Butter, salt, and pepper are the classic handling, I suppose, of a pile of asparagus on a dinner plate. Lately I have been favoring flavored vinegar as sole treatment.

In full summer, when volume of the herbs becomes impressive, put oregano in a bottle of elderberry vinegar, as above left.  Or take up a mass of lovely, delicate green dill leaves and put them in white vinegar, as above right.

Yep, that greenery turns the vinegar golden yellow, or as such yellow is called, “histologist’s green.”

Asparagus-and-vinegar can be topped off with shaved Parmesan.  Apply it quickly while the vegetable is still hot, so the Parmesan will melt.

Bon appétit!
 And may we know some other other asparagus methods favored by Ratbourgeois?

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I have gone over to the dark side.

I recently bought some quinoa and chia seeds. Yes, I have drunk the “bottled water” and want to try these supposedly good things. I was wondering if any of you have had experience with these two things.

All I know is the chia seeds expand a lot in liquid and have a lot of nutrients. The quinoa says on the back that I can make it in a rice cooker. I am afraid that quinoa might be in the original language “sawdust”, high in fiber and low in taste.

Is there a member who likes these things and might have some good recipes they would want to share?

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An Elegant Toaster

When I was a kid, we had a Sunbeam Radiant Control toaster.  Everybody did.  It was elegant—its advertising tag line was “Automatic Beyond Belief”.  There were no controls: you simply dropped the bread in the slot(s), and it glided magically into the toaster.  When it was perfectly toasted, it came back up, ready to eat.  There was no knob to adjust the time or temperature: it monitored the heat radiated from the surface of the bread, which is proportional to its colour, so each slice was perfectly toasted every time.  Here is a video dissection of this remarkable appliance.

These toasters were manufactured from 1949 through 1997 when they were displaced by cheap imported “burn-o-matic” models with a lever and open-loop toasting control.  If somebody built something like this today, it would probably contain a microcontroller, servomotors, limit switches, and sensors to do the job.  The Radiant Control had none of these: in a masterful example of engineering elegance, the heating element itself, which had to be present to accomplish the primary mission, was made to do the job automatically.  How did they do it?  Watch the video or, if you want more details, see U.S. patents 2,667,828 (1948) and 2,459,170 (1942).

There is a Web site devoted to the Sunbeam Radiant Control toaster.

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Monday Meals: Kelsay Carrots

Do you wake up some mornings knowing that you have to have cooked carrots that day?

When that happens, one must act.  Drag out a pot and a tightly-fitting lid.  While the pot preheats on the stovetop at low heat, trim the bacon.

This bacon is made with no sugar: it is smoked, but not cured.  I asked the local butcher; before too long he had a nice supply in his meat case. We like it for the flavor, because it is the flavor of the bacon, not breakfast cereal, and for the fact that it never leaves burned sugar in the bottom of a pan.

The bacon gets trimmed around here because the cook dislikes the heaviness of bacon fat, preferring lighter fats such as butter, chicken or goose fat, or olive oil.  This trimming is fun to do with a boning knife.  Here are three:

They are all 10-inch boning knives, but each is different.  Cooking is like anything else, in that you try out different tools, methods, and effects, to discover that you have preferences.  Here the top knife has a stout, thick blade; a big handle, clunky for me but comfortable for a man; and that big stop going down from the forward edge of the handle.  That one is perfect for removing a hide, disjointing a carcass, or deboning  a large roast. That   is wonderful, but not what we seek this day.

The bottom one is excessively recurved. The carbon-steel blade has been sharpened so much that it has become shorter, back-to-cutting edge.  The ratio of that height dimension to blade length is off-target for use in my hands. Were I six inches taller, my arm would be more straight as I stood at my workspace, and so I could wield the thing properly.  But I’m not, so I just lend it out to the taller cooks, and otherwise keep it around out of respect for its years of service to our family.

The middle one is just right: the blade is recurved just enough to be useful and thick enough not to waver.  The handle fits my hand.  The weight and balance are just right.  It’s like fitting a sword, but more practical these days.  So my general advice is to try various examples of the necessary tools and trust your own assessment of their fitness for you.

Add some butter to that pan on the stove so that it will melt while the bacon is cut to small pieces.  Yep, we are going to cook bacon in butter on low heat.

A “French cook knife” is most satisfactory for this bacon-cutting, as the cutting edge is convex.  You can rock it back and forth, with one hand on the handle and the other flat on the back of the blade.  But that is only when you are not holding a camera at the same time.

There, I’ve just used the back of the knife blade to shove the bacon off into the pan.  The bits will separate when stirred around.

At no time do we make bacon “crisp” in this kitchen.  When in your own kitchen, do just as you like, but for authentic Kelsay Carrots keep the bacon cooked, but soft.

Cut up some onion next.  You need one of those thin-bladed Oriental slicing knives with a straight cutting edge.

A knife like this can slice beef so thin as to be translucent.  We can achieve thin slices of onion which will cook through quickly and curl nicely around the carrot chunks.

Do you have an in-law who tells you that you must cut up an onion along some x-axis, then some y-axis, then some z-axis, in that order?  My sympathies.  Pay no attention.  It’s your onion.

Boldly take up your French cook knife and cut up the carrots however you darn please.  Now attend: when you have added them to the pot and stirred things around, you may not then leave.  To soften these carrots, you need liquid.  A little water, a little white wine, or a little broth will do the trick in just a few minutes.  Today I have some pork broth handy, so I add enough to cover the carrots halfway, no more. We are not doing soup here.

Put the lid on to fit tightly.  Search around for the final ingredient: either sour cream, crème fraîche, or cream.  Now learn this the easy way: crème fraîche is resistant to curdling under heat; cream and sour cream comparatively susceptible. For any of them, a minute or two to heat through is all that is needed. If you are using cream or sour cream, wait for the last minute to make the addition.

Now, when is the last minute?  The last minute is when the carrots are just soft enough to be nice; you might say al dente.  Stand facing the stove, lift off the lid, and stick a fork into a carrot.  We need fear no Banshee Beep of Cardiac Arrest to tell us when to proceed to the final addition.

Just a minute or two, now.  That’s all that is needed.  There:

The plain nature of cold sliced roast beef complements the complexity of Kelsay Carrots at supper.  A green vegetable laced with herb vinegar will complement the color and the richness of these carrots.  Enjoy the contrasts.  Bon appétit!  Smacznego!  Don’t put your knives in the dishwasher.

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Monday Meals: 2019-02-18

Sneaking Duck

Sneaking duck: Ingredients

Peking duck (北京烤鸭) is a classic mainstay of Chinese cuisine. It is often a special treat on the menu of Chinese restaurants, requiring diners to order in advance for serving to multiple people. There’s a reason for this: it’s a major production to prepare and serve. The classic recipe takes three days: the first to remove the neck bones and knot the neck, paint the skin with honey and soy sauce, and hang to dry; the second to blow up the skin like a balloon to separate from the meat then blanch in boiling water; and the third to roast the whole duck in a wood-fired oven. As I recall, I’ve only had properly prepared Peking Duck once in my life, when a bunch of programmers at the place I worked in the 1970s arranged a Chinese banquet at a restaurant in Berkeley, California, but long before and after that I’ve made this recipe or variants, which I find excellent, if not authentic, and a tiny fraction of the work. You can look at this as a special treat, but making it couldn’t be easier.

Continue reading “Monday Meals: 2019-02-18”

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Monday Meals: 2019-01-14

Jamaican Jerk Boneless Game Hens with Rice

Ingredients

This week we bring the spicy heat of the Caribbean to this cold and dark northern hemisphere winter with this Fourmilab culinary creation: Jamaican jerk seasoned boneless Cornish game hens with jerk, lime, and coriander seasoned rice.  This is a medium-hot recipe (I’ve had much hotter in Indian restaurants), but you can adjust the heat to your own compression ratio simply by adding more or less jerk seasoning to the rice (the seasoning of the meat doesn’t make much difference in the overall heat).  I make this recipe using an Actifry, but if you don’t have one, I’ll provide instructions for cooking in a conventional oven.

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Oh for crying out loud!

Ben & Jerry’s Launches Anti-Trump Ice Cream Flavor to Support Equality

They can take their ice cream and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine with all the pecans, almonds and walnuts on the outside.

(Sorry about this rant, gentle Ratburger members, this is just really too much to let go unnoticed.)

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Monday Meals: 2018-09-17

Twice Cooked Pork

Twice cooked pork: ingredients

A classic dish in Szechuan Chinese restaurants is Twice Cooked Pork, a spicy stir-fry with pork and crunchy vegetables that combines interesting favours and textures with enough heat to wake up your taste buds (and, depending on the restaurant, make your eyes water).

There are several styles of this dish, and the traditional way of preparing it is somewhat time-consuming and fussy. If you’ve read my other recipes, you know that’s not for us. Here is a variant where the “first cooking” is done when you make our Chinese Roast Pork and the leftover meat from that dish is the starting point for this one. If you consider this inauthentic, that’s because it is! If you like, call it “Twice Crooked Pork”! It’s still delicious, quick and easy to fix, and can’t fail.

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Monday Meals 18-9-10

I seemed to forget where I placed this image every time our Esteemed 10 Cents posted his “Monday Meals” posts.

But I found it and I’m trying to beat him to it as it’s a little before 7 A.M. where he is at.

“Monday Meals” are Great! but you can’t have a meal without a liquid.

So without further ado, may  I present a “liquid”.

Continue reading “Monday Meals 18-9-10”

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Monday Meals: 2018-08-13

Chinese Roast Pork

Chinese roast pork: ingredients

This easy to make, can’t fail meal combines a variety of Chinese seasonings with tender, delicious pork, and will provide you with several meals including an entirely different recipe for the leftovers which I’ll present eventually in a sequel to this post.

Continue reading “Monday Meals: 2018-08-13”

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