Thursday, June 23, 2011

FACK I can't stop today....

Quicky........meyer lemons and vodka nothing more to say........
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PERU is in the Hizzouse

This little one is at 26 days
Cyclanthera pedata "Caigua"(Kai-wa)
My beyond wonderful brother in law hails from the ancient place and I've taken on a keen interest in it's cuisine.

This little girl I got from Annies Annuals and well had no clue what to expect other than it is a vine and the fruit looks like a pepper but is called a cucumber.

Soooo came from the Andes and also be found in the Easten Hem. The mighty Peruvian MOCHE culture were facinated with agriculture and represented this in their art. Thank goodness cause I love me my potatoes n Corn...Thank you Peru

The immature fruits can be pickled or eaten raw. They look like a young green pepper and hollow with black pips. But as I read it looks to me as though it was best received as stuffed and fried . Meats rice herbs cacao . Lke Relleno but not.

The shoots n green were cooked like spinach and with a huge boost of vit. C. Minerals,thiamine, antilipemic(fights LDL Cholesterol) No rickets for this culture....

So Peru is the major grower of this amazing find and I'm hoping my soil and climate will receive this girl well. I'm so looking forward to and evening with friends and family and a meal to represent the collection of cultures I'm sure to have at my table.

Crap I know Dragons Lace beans I know...I'm going. Just crazy inspired today.
Mama loves you now bring her a Bourbon.....

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Galangal gonna knock you out.......

Galangal, What is Galangal, Is It The Same As Ginger. At first, galangal or 'Khaa' in Thai, appears similar to ginger with its sexy tuber shape and sensual aroma. However a closer look we will reveal the difference between galangal and ginger. Galangal has a tighter skin, is lighter in color and can have pinkish portions too and as my picture depicts I harvested mine a bit late and let it cure a bit too long hence my infusion project which we will get too after the details of this Thai beauty. All of us, I hope, know the taste and flavour of common  ginger, Galangal tastes more like pepper(black or white) than ginger. Coming to the similarities between galangal and ginger, both grow underground and are tubers that love a lush tropical enviroment. Fresh galangal is now available in the west and it's easy availability, makes people confuse it with ginger. There are two types of galangal, one of them has a stronger flavour as compared to the other. 


I love to infuse my booze people and I'm proud to say the wakier the concoction the better the buzzzzz.
Here in the Bay we never got a spring it was hell bent rain and then last week it slapped us with the gross 95plus breath of satan. so when life gives you no ability to aclamate what do ya do? Drink baby drink.
This fusion has made me the popular girl at BBQs all over Santa Cruz and super easy fresh and gets the job done with out being girly.

750ml of good Hangar one potato vodka from right her in the Bay
big handful of fresh corriandar (cilantro)
ahhhh bout five oz of peeled sliced into shingles Galangal
up to you how much of Ghost chili Scoval meter off the hook but an explosion of smoky heat
jar it up in a sterilized flip top and refridge for  a week to macerate well.

add spritzer
muddle some persian cukes
splash of lychee syrup and you are off n runnin
or a grip of fresh meyer lemon juice
2T brown sugar
cold cure a salmon wild never farmed
add a T or two to a slaw recipe
half lemon aide half infusion freeze for a fresh inter mezzo granite
add two fingers infusion
2 fingers of cava
lemon simple syrup
rim glass with sugar
I call this my SQUIRREL NECTAR

you get the point OK back to your lesson on the mighty Galangal

Types Of Galangal, Flavour And Aroma Of Galangal 

Galangal, here is an interesting nugget of information. The galangal that originated in Indonesia is also called, lengkuas and has a sharp flavour and pine like aroma. This is the galangal that is more commonly found in fresh or dried (powder) form in the west. The second type of galangal, has a pungent flavour and tastes like a combination of pepper and ginger. This galangal is believed to have it's origin in southern parts of China. This type of Galangal is popular in Thailand and locally called krachaai. The flavour of galangal would therefore depend on the type of galangal, the pine like aroma comes from the galangal that originated in Indonesia. Most Westerners would know this type of galangal.

Using Galangal In Your Cooking 

 Galangal is commonly used as a seasoning ingredient in Thai food, many seafood and meat dishes use galangal for seasoning. There are two ways in which galangal is added to food dishes, one is the crushed form and the other is thin strips. Before you start using galangal, you will always need to peel it and take off the top layer. If the recipe you are making needs the galangal to be crushed, slice it first and then do the crushing. This is because galangal is much more dense, fiberous and harder than ginger. You will find that many cooks prefer to cut galangal into thin strips, that are similar to matchstick length and dimensions. The fact that galangal is harder than ginger means that, it will need to be cooked for a longer time to become tender. The Thai's love to make spicey curry paste and even dipping sauces with galangal as an ingredient. But to steep into a tea or infuse vodka, vinegar for pickle or fragrance a soup go right ahead there are no rules.

If you are using dry galangal (whole pieces) from the grocery store, you will need to soak the dry galangal in hot water before using it and do not toss that steeping liquid that my friend is an oppertunity. Add to the liquid while cooking rice is a good start or add to your bath for a relaxing adventure. Galangal powder, sometimes sold as Laos Galangal powder, can be used instead of fresh galangal. Replace about half inch of peeled and chopped fresh galangal with 1 teaspoon of galangal powder. If you have the option to use fresh galangal and dried or powdered galangal, choose fresh galangal.

go away I'm busy drinking and NOT thinking about JAM or CHEESE.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Sweet alliums come to mama

After a long weekend feeding the souls of the adventurous ones out in the Santa Cruz Mountain AVA
Jams,preserves ,jellies n such have brought out a bevvy of enthusiasts with love in their heart and not much skill to back the want for a lovely product. (calm down I'm not talking about you it is just a generalization to make my point)Hence the world of sweet vs savory and the balance that has been forgotten.
  I have nibbled my share of "onion jams" from SKILLET Truck (or Airstream) to Bbq joints all over and I have been let down ,even dissapointed a bit. Overly sweet forced jams with hunks of onion either cooked to death or not near  it's destiny: origin unknown with too much brown sugar no spice and sitting on the fence of blechhhh.
  Time and a little care can create a celebration of the mighty allium. As complex as a wild ramp or as simple as a globe red oinion. So today I'm going to let you in on my secret, my recipe that keeps a roof over my head selling my wares to the fine folks of the Bay....Join me on a bit of a journey and isnt anything worth its value a journey?
This sweet, sour, savory nuggets of lumpy  love could be thought of as a Marmalade but the jam like consistancy is more my liking in terms of definition.
4 lb Pipin or Granny Smith Apples
1lb of red globe onions. gather all the papery peels and do not toss this is an important ingredient when making you stock .the color with bring a vibrancy and a color that will zingggggg
2 oranges zested and halved
2 cinnamon sticks
1T madras curry
pinch of sea salt
3C. white wine vinegar 5%
3C Turbinado sugar

OK time to get the stock pot out. halve the apples toss in the pot , cut the tops and bums from the onions and peel the papers and toss in pot. ohhhh just add everything except the sugar and skinned red onions.
Add a cup of water to the slurry and place over med high heat til all the apples are almost completly broken down. The house is going to smell exotically intoxicating with the curry ,cinnamon mingling with the apples cirtus and skins.
Strain the stock and soak in the amazing color and smells that will rise form the slop. A Chiniose works best and another pot to catch this elixir. After draining (put a weight on the slurry to get every bit of liquid and flavour this mess has to offer)
Put aside.
Break out your Mandoline and set the blade ot 1/8inch and slice all the remaining onions.
Add to stock and refridge over night, this flavour bomb needs some alone time to get to know each other and macerate the onions. DO NOT CHEAT you miss this step its all going to be in vain when your jam sucks. Sooo it's day two.
Pull out your stock pot with the happy pool of crimson onion goodness. Add your sugar and whip out the candy thermometer we are going to 220 and it's gonna take a bit so pour a bourbon and pull up a stool you are gonna be at the stove for a spell. Begin on high and let the onions start to soften in the pool of spice and onion essence. As soon as it begins to hard boil and rise lower the temp to be able to handle the lot. The added cooking time tenderizes the onions in a way only time can achieve. The photo below is the onions beginging to become translucent and you are only a third of the way done. the changes you see will clearly signify the stages of this process in the long wait to get to 220 (jelly set temp) It seems from 218-220 is a long ten minutes again do not walk away you will be let down.

After about fifteen minutes the onions take on the deep jewl tones of the stock and your house is purfumed for the rest of the day. You know you are getting closer and the liquid takes on a thicker slower bubbling roll almost like they turned to Bubble Machine soap. The slow gurgling and verge of the oinions breaking down is the sign you are almost there. 218 hovers on the thermometer for what seems a decade and then the mercury jumps to attention and pops right on the 220 mark .Count to twenty and pull the pot. Sweet JEEZUS something very special just entered your life.
Let this pup cool for about three to five minutes while you dig up your stick mixer with I hope a metal not plastic blade.(will melt trust me)Whizzz your jam just to break up the long strings of jammed onion for easier consumption. a long string of onion jam slapped on your chin after a big bite of that Buffalo buger can be a bit nasty. I like my food in my mouth not on or around it.
There you have it a complex enticing jam that is worth its time and a little effort. A jar of this in your hand when going to a weekend cook out you are sure to be the hero. This picture is of my Charcuterie and Spanish cheese plate that I served last Friday for my wine club at a local restaurant with a bright Albarino, onion jam, spicy dry Chorizo, Caper berries, Picholine olives, almonds, La Serna(washed rind triangle in the back) , Beuna Alba (cheese slivers in front)and San Simon(the batons under the chorizo). The grilled onions were a great exercize in different onion application and last a bit of my forbidden fruit marmalade. (we  covered that already) 
Agian if you don't wanna just call me I've got ya covered.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Turophile is'nt a dirty word.......

 I know the photos are not exactly about Starter cultures and Bag cheeses......but it's in the same neighbor hood of tried and true tecniques and tools are some times your best ally in the world of food.
OK this cheese grater is from the oldest Italian restaurant in San Jose (Paolos)and this grater has been keeping pasta loving folks in Granna, Parm,Crotin,Pecorino etc etc for almost a century. If only this baby could just enjoy the pictures of a working piece of historic food art while I wax on about the essentials of Mesophillic Starters and a cheese to make with it....(yes mom I knmow never end a sentance with a preposition blah blah blah)


There are a ton of variatals of cultures to make a ton of different types of cheeses, yet all are either from two catergories. 1. Mesophilic the low temp lover (below 102 degrees) 2. Thermophilic(heat lover hence the THERMO prefix) Soft cheeses in general are in need of the Meso Culture and today I'm whippin some GERVAISE today so Meso is the word......

Now ofcourse you can ring up New England Cheese Supply and they will gladly send you some freeze dried packes to keep in the freezer for your cheese making whims but that is not fun and to make your own will give a better depth of flavour depending on how far you let the culture set.

 2 cups of FRESH store bought Cultured Buttermilk.( different from the whey left over after a butter churnin party)

2. Let the 2 cups of buttermilk reach room temperature (70 degrees F/21 degrees C).I put mine on top of the ice box it's warm n cozy up there.

3. Then allow the buttermilk to ripen for about 6-8 hours. (Store bought buttermilk does not have a high enough concentration of bacteria to serve as a starter culture without ripening.)

4. The resulting buttermilk will be much thicker and sour then what you started with. It should have the consistency of fresh yogurt, if it doesn't let it sit a few more hours.

5. Pour this culture into a full sized CLEAN ice cube tray and put into your ice box. As with all steps of cheesemaking, cleanliness will save your ass to wash up.

6. Once frozen, remove the cubes and put into a CLEAN sealed container or plastic freezer bags. It is a good idea to label the container and date.

7. The resulting ice cubes are each 1 ounce of mesophilic starter.

8. Add these cubes (thawed) to your recipes as required. The cubes will keep for about one month.

To make more starter simply thaw one cube and add into 2 cups of fresh milk. Mix thoroughly with a fork or a whisk. Allow the milk/culture to stand at room temperature (70 degrees F/21 degrees C) for 16-24 hours or until the consistency of fresh yogurt. Then follow from step 5.

This is the easiest and greenest way to go about culture needs. Ordering and having it sent takes paper, electricity, petrol and the carbon footprint is so not worth the fun you can have doing it yourself especially since you have to power and control to set how much influence your culture can have on your finished product.


WTH? you ask is Gervaise..well I'll tell ya. This easy, minimal equiptment fresh cheese come from the Cote D'or region of France and what else hails from the GOLDEN DOOR? Wine baby lots n lots of world class wine. That being said where there is wine being produced there is certainly Goat and Sheeps milk cheeses to follow. Gervaise is similar to Neufchatel but Normandy has it's own twist with less fat content and Gervaise to me when you bag it for a bit longer has a lovelyness I can't resist almost Chevre esque but not. Gervaise has a longer history of a peasant cheese that didn't get much gormand respect until recently when us wacked out Turophiles found this to be easy, yet complex at the same time....Kinda like moi. Oh and I can get Boy Racer to do anything if I give him some on a hunk of crusy bread and my Spring Onion Jam...


2 2/3C.  Whole goats Milk
1 drop liquid rennet & 2T. water (enzyme from stomach lining of Kid or Thistle; in mid Evil times in France, Italy they set cheeses with snail phlegm...really)
1 1/3C. Goat cream (sorry you gotta find a goat farm or get a cream seperater) If unavail you can use Cows cream. But try to find it. In Bay area you have a ton of resources.
2oz or 2 cubes of Meso starter defrosted in a sterile glass cup or bowl.

Mix the dairy together in a sterile bowl and whisk. (sterilize all equipt before hand with hot water and 1T of bleach to gallon of water)
Warm to 65F add the defrosted culture.. Mix Mix Mix
Add the drop of rennent to the water before introducing to the dairy rave goin on .
Add to dairy and stir gently for five minutes. STOP Stirring if milk begins to coagulate.
Let her set for twenty four hours in a draft free warm area covered in cheese cloth to avoid bugs,pets or dust from contaminating the curds o love.

Now the cheese should be pulled from the sides of pan and the solids should be a mass with watery whey on the edges. jiggle this puppy and a Jell-o jingle will play in your head. Basta the curd has set. waka waka waka pass the Bourbon please...

You can either make one large mass and ladel into a Chinoise(cone shaped collander or China cap us cheffys call it) with a layer of sterile cheeses cloth lining the Chinoise. between ladels sprinkle sea salt or herbs or nothing but atleast salt it will raise the flavour bar. DO NOT toss the drained whey please. You can feed your garden, a kitty, boil potatoes, pasta or make a batch of Ricotta (twice cooked) waste makes hjaste and I have not time for that. Back to curds while draining you might need to get your sterile spatula and scrape down sides of Chiniose. Drain for up to six hours depending on how "tight"you want your cheese.

Me on the other hand as you see in the above photo I use cheese baskets 10oz size for easier to store,serve and handle plus I love the basket weave shape after. so I do same as above but in the small baskets.

When you are done wrap in wax paper or cheese paper(wax on one side) and store in a drawer in fridge. Never ever would you put your prized cheese in the door or with the rest of food to adopt a bevvy of not nice smells and flavours. Ofcourse you would'nt. Now chop chop get to eatting this is only to last a week if you can resist that long. So there you have it, a lovely little ditty bout culture and curds...

go on get cooking.......

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Once apon a time, a very lonely Swiss shepard, tending his flocks on a precipitous and isolated Alpine slope, sat down to eat his customary meal of bread,cheese and wine. "my GOD!" (well perhaps Mein Gott! if he was in a German speaking canton,which is more likely. )"I simply CAN NOT face this stuff AGAIN! There must be ein anderer Weg !"And so,in sheer desperation,he lit a fire under his iron pot(standard shepherd equiptment)and did something that was to shake the food world to its very foundation :he melted the cheeses and wine together in the heated pot,and then dunked his sturdy peasant bread into the hot dreamy mixture.

This,so ledgend has it,was the first fondue. Im not of a mind to dispute this tale. The Swiss,after all ,in addition to making first class cuckoo clocks,growing edelweiss and yodeling are ardent dunkers,starting with thier morning hot cocoa and dipping steadily through after dinner coffee.


The extra kick ass ingredient in this cheese fondue is Porcini mushrooms, which is found all over the Santa Cruz mountains during the rainy season(which will NEVER end this year...3.2 inches June 4,2011). They will simmer in the cheese imparting a rich earthy nose and the terroir driven effect is so worth the addition to this amazing fondue. If you prefer a simple cheese fondue you are on the wrong page. Ofcourse a classic simple kirsch laden fondue has its place but why oh why be average when here in California we have right in our back yard such amazing gifts from Mother Nature.

4T.  Of a good local Alambic brandy such as OSOCALIS , pure heaven made right in Soquel at Soquel Vineyards Home base, by the former distiller from Germain-Roban waka waka waka
3T arrow root ( binder and thickener so proteins wont jack up your Swiss adventure)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for serving
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1 Big  garlic clove, minced
1t. gresh grated nutmeg or for cool factor grate the nutmeg righ before searving to get garlic smell off your digets and the perfume of the spice will be heaven. Last the little red freckles of nutmeg on top is visual candy.
as much fresh black pepper as your heart desires my muffin.
1 pound high quality alpine cheese such as Gruyère, Emmental, Comté. grated
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms,wizz em in the spice grinder to a coarse grind.
1 loaf peasant bread, cut in 3/4 inch cubes. or more....boiled fingerling potatoes, hari coverts, beets,apples, fingers.......

Note: Have all of your ingredients ready before you begin  I.E. Mise en Place baby . Once you start, the fondue will come together quickly, and during this time it must be constantly stirred. The fondue must not come to a boil during this time.

Combine brandy, arrow root, salt, 1/2t. black pepper or more or less nobody will judge, and nutmeg in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the arrowroot. Set aside.  Slurrry it tis.
Add wine and garlic(when fondue pot is empty rub the whole clove of garlic all over the inside of pot to purfume the party) into a large heavy saucepan or fondue pot. Heat over medium heat until tiny bubbles form, giving the wine a fizzy appearance without bringing to a boil. Add cheese one handful at a time, whisking constantly until each handful is melted before adding the next – do not let the fondue boil.
Once cheese is added, continue stirring one minute – do not let the fondue boil, broken record....
Stir in slurry. Continue stirring until mixture thickens to fondue consistency. ( If your fondue remains thin, add 1 more tablespoon arrow root diluted with 2 tablespoons white wine.) If using Porcini, stir the mushrooms into the cheese at this point. Remove from heat. Pour cheese into a warm fondue pot if necessary. Serve immediately hopefully with big glasses of Kabinet a hot tub a bubblin and some Rev. Al Green a croonin. Clothing optional or even have a key party.....

Eat up let the cheese drip down your chin have some levity and just be in the moment of a party food of the Seventies and a survival meal for Shepards.

Mamma loves you

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Thursday, June 2, 2011 is only skin deep....

"Pass the Maaa ma lade dahling" as Grandma would say...As I cringed at the thought of getting down that lumpy sour, bitter ,weird stuff on toast during tea time. Blech.
Then I grew up.....
Thanks to a bright housewife in Scotland. An18th century either Spanish or Portuguese (depending on who you ask) ship carrying a cargo of "forbidden fruit"sheltered from a nasty squall off the coast of Scotland at Dundee. The ship off loaded the citrus to a shop keeper , a Mr.Keiller. Well after selling the citrus the housewives were not pleased(don't fuck with a Scottish womans food, just ask Boy Racer)for they were bitter,unsweet and nasty. Rather waste, in true thrifty Scottish fashion Mrs. Keiller attempted a batch of preserves and POOF the birth of orange marmalade.
                                               There are a kazillion marmalade recipes out there so go for it..yet not much on technique and there is a bit needed for a good marmalade run so here you go ......
  1.  Citrus; never discard pith or pips,flavour bombs and essential in the process of setting your preserve.
  2. Simmer down darling time is on your side, cook your peels very slow and steady. Tender is the word of the day and after you introduce sugar tenderizing will cease.
  3. In fact, if you don't slow your simmer role after adding sugar the peels will become even tougher. bleck.
  4. To test your simmered peels for doneness let the peel become blood temp (don't want trip to burn ward) take a piece between thumb n forfinger-you should be able to rub the peel to almost nothing.
  5. Blood temp is 98.6 body temp your fingers can handle it unless you are like me and have asbestos fingers from a career in the kitchen.
  6. BUT.....having said all that about a properly cooked peel , there is no good virtue in over cooking , for that will murder the color and flavour of your marmalade.
  7. Hey sugar sugar be my sweet cheeks of low heat. Uhh I mean stir in your sugar over a low ensure good dissolve of the sugar crystals, then raise heat for a rapid boil til your needed temp has hit. (220F jelly temp)
  8. Marmalade is a fickle lady and you only have one chance to get it right and set up properly. If you go past your set point you are done with a pot full of hell. Pay close attention to your thermometer and do not ever go over set point. Or Lady Marmalade will beat your ass with her Cat o' Nine tails....Trust me she is mean.
  9. Allow set marmalade to cool a bit before canning. Before you spoon your love lumps in the jars give Lady M a brisk whisking to ensure all her bits n bops are evenly distributed.
  10. Scrub your citrus alot of citrus has a wax coating forn the processing before they hit the market.
  11. Use a veggie peeler to get your rind removed from the fruit. Time saver and you have better control over how much pith comes with. (pith:white stuff between rind and pulp) after tenderized I get my stick blender and whiz the peels to a nice consistancy yet not baby food.
  12. Cut fruit in half between the belly button and arse hole so the sections are displayed and use your hands to dig out the juice and pulp. Save on cleaning equiptment. That time you save you can sip a bourbon with a friend. Pips removed and put in cheese cloth to tea bag in the juice n rinds while simmering.
  13. Booze dahling pass the hooch, Brandy and Whiskey are classic additions but there still are rules to follow. 2T. of booze per 2 cups of sugar will ensure a good set and nip.
  14. Have fun and play with all the beautiful citrus at your Farmers Market. From Seville orange to Buddahs Hand they all bring a unique profile that is sure to tickle the senses......
  15. From toast to Charcuterie this is a classic must that will for certain raise the flavour bar.....
Or Email me and I will send you a jar you lazy lima bean....