Edamame are soybeans that are boiled or steamed. You pop them out of their pods into your mouth. They are a great snack. Usually they are salted. Recently I have bought the frozen ones since they aren’t in season yet. Mmm, they are good.
Roast Goat Quarter
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.)
Start 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.)
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.
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.
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?
This is a plate of “Educated Potatoes”. I am being free with the translation. The Japanese is 大学芋, Daigaku Imo. The first two characters mean “big” and “learning” therefore “college/university”. The last character means “potato’.
As you look at the picture you will see this is not your normal plate of fries. They are not deep fried and they are candied. They are not your normal white potatoes but sweet potatoes covered in a syrup with sesame seeds. This plate came hot and sticky.
I will let みきママ, Miki Mama show you one way to cook them. Notice the long chopsticks used in cooking. You can also hear that paper towels are called “kitchen paper”. I think it comes from their use in cooking. The amber liquid used is honey in making the syrup if you are wondering. At the top of the video screen is ヒンヤリ, hinyari and カリカリ, karikari. This means chilled and crisp. The kids are sure cute at the end of the video.
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.
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.
Jamaican Jerk Boneless Game Hens with Rice
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.
Bentos are Japanese lunches in a multi partitioned tray. In old days it was a wooden box. Now it is usually styrofoam or plastic. The common factor in all bentos is rice. This takes up the most space. After that you can have fish, beef, chicken, or fried varieties of the former. There are various side things that come with it. This can be vegetables, potato salad, Japanese pickles, etc.
7-Eleven sells a lot of bentos here. There is a custom to buy a deluxe bento at the Bullet Train Stations to eat on the Bullet train. These usually have local delicacies in them. There is also a type of fast food shop that sells bentos with hot rice.
There are homemade bentos too. Housewives get up early and make bentos for the family. These are put in plastic boxes. The ones for children have cartoon characters on them. Some have a lower a lower section for rice with an upper section for the side dishes. Others just have a divider to separate the rice.
To see some of the varieties please look at this page.
Have any of you had bentos? If so what kinds?
Strange is in the eye of the beholder. At one time I thought raw fish, squid and octopus was strange now I think it is normal. Eel is quite delicious over rice in a nice sauce.
All cultures have their hard to eat foods. Natto, fermented soy beans that have strings like cheese when you eat it, is the one in Japan. I’ll put up a video later.
What food will put hair on you chest or take it off it that be the case? What is the strangest thing you have eaten?
I remember asking a Japanese about American food. Raw broccoli was hard for him because cooked broccoli is the norm here.
I don’t remember all the options for storing food as there is today. For the most part it was plastic wrap and Tupperware. Now there is a plethora of options. Take plastic bags. In the old days you you had plastic bags with a paper covered wire to twist the bag shut. Now there are resealable ones. The old ziplock bags with one line has been replaced with two lines to close the bag. There is even a zipper type closer. There are normal storage and freezer bags. Does the food know which bag it is in?
Now there are many Tupperware knockoffs. Some come with lids with a dial for the month and day.
Others have valves that let out the air in the container so it stays fresher longer.
Or there is the refrigerator with a compartment where no wrap is needed. I am not sure how that works.
So how do you store your food?
It is the time of year where the world is filled with orange and black decorations. Halloween is 9 days away. What are the tradition Halloween foods? I can think of two.
One can’t forget Candy Corn.
Am I missing anything?