Blog of an aspiring foodie

Archive for August, 2004

My Blue(berry) Heaven (BACKPOST)

Posted by beer_chris on 18-August-2004

Oh my gosh what an awesome sherbet I made tonight. I bought an ice cream freezer on clearance at Kroger last summer – think I picked it up for 10 bucks – and it's been a really useful appliance. It's small enough I can set it on a towel on the floor, and strong enough to churn for an hour if I need it to. Really a good deal. Anyway, a few months ago I was tempted to try the orange sherbet recipe in my Cooks Illustrated magazine. The sherbet turned out awesome – way better then any of the ice cream I had made myself, that had turned out more ice then cream. The sherbet was smooth and ultimately orangy to the bottom of each bite. It tasted like a better version of my favorite sherbet, the push-up pops I used to buy at the snack bar of Fondren Middle School. It's funny how just about every Generation X/Y'er I know immediately knows exactly what I'm describing when I talk to them about those push pops – I think they were everyone's favorite ice cream treat.

Anyway, I was looking for a good sherbet recipe, and then this issue came along. This recipe has cream and sugar in it, but not as much as in ice cream, so it's good for you (yeah right!). Well, it's at least good.

So last week I bought 4 pints of just fresh Michigan blueberries. By the way, these berries totally kick anything from Texas' ass in terms of size, sweetness and lasting quality. The berries stayed fresh and sweet in the fridge for nearly 6 days after I cleaned them. So in lies my problem. I had at least 2 pints left and they were starting to go bad – getting a little mealy, some were molding. I decided to try and make a blueberry version of the orange sherbet I had loved so much out of Cooks Illustrated. I pulled out the mag, and they had a recipe in their for a modification with raspberries. I went ahead with it, thinking that I couldn't be far off with blues. Boy, did it turn out grand. The final product, after 35 minutes of churning, looks something like a cross between ice cream and grape Bubbilicious. It tastes absolutely outstanding – blueberry flavor infused in the creamy sherbet. Wow what a confection. I couldn't stop licking my spatula as I packed it into a container for curing.

Here's the recipe:
Cook's Illustrated Blueberry Sherbet

3 cups fresh blueberries (Michigan if you can get 'em)
3/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. Salt
3 tbsp. lemon juice (from 1 or 2 lemons)
2 tbsp. Grand Marnier (or Triple Sec or Vodka, even)
2/3 cup heavy cream

1. In a medium non-reactive saucepan cook blueberries, sugar salt and water over medium heat until mixture just begins to simmer, about 7 minutes (or until the blueberries have surrendered all their juice)
2. Strain the mixture into a bowl, pressing on the skins to release as much juice as possible
3. Add lemon juice and Grand Marnier (adding lemon juice with a reamer is easiest done through the strainer to prevent lemon seeds from getting into the blueberry mixture)
4. Cover and chill to 40 degrees – do not let it freeze! (I left it in the fridge overnight)
5. Prepare your ice cream freezer
6. Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the blueberry mixture in a steady stream along the side of the bowl, whisking constantly.
7. Imeediately pour mixture into the freezer and churn for 20-35 minutes, until mixture has consistency of soft serve ice cream
8. Taste as much of it as you can bear, and pack the rest into a container. Press plastic wrap against the sherbet and cure in the freezer for at least a few hours, if you can stand it

A little less sugar might make this better – maybe 1/2 cup? Blueberries are much sweeter then raspberries, so maybe less sugar would lighten up the flavor, which was cloyingly sweet – still amazingly good, though! Also – go ahead an whip the cream by hand. It's not that hard, only takes about 5 minutes, and makes you feel like you're doing something.

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Searching for the Buddig chicken of leftovers (BACKPOST)

Posted by beer_chris on 16-August-2004

I really don't like leftovers. I have friends who can't let a single morsel of food go to waste – they'll even eat the same thing for days on end, sometimes even planning to cook something just to have the leftovers. There are very, very few foods that I feel taste better the second time around. Meatloaf makes a heck of a sandwich the next day, spread with hot mustard and sharp cheddar, but I think it's just as good fresh out of the oven the night it's cooked. Experimenting with new dishes and not liking leftovers is a recipe for waste. There have been many times when I have cooked a dish I really liked, eaten it as leftovers and been ruined on it. I guess I'm weird that way. I prefer giving my food away rather then feeling the pressure to eat all of it. The really odd thing about me is that I will go to great pains to save food – peeling and sectioning a half dozen ripe peaches, mixing them with a little sugar and some bananas to make a fruit salad – and then abandon the product in the refrigerator until it (A) turns to mush or (B) begins to grow on it's own. JD and Whitney cook specifically to have leftovers – they'll make a weeks worth of spaghetti and then happily graze off of that for a week. I really struggle with that, heck, I just can't do it.

Strangely, part of it has to do with my disdain for eating the same thing twice. That's strange because I really do enjoy eating the same thing over and over for lunch. During high school, I think I ate the same thing (or a very near variation) just about every day. For some reason, maybe it's familiarity, I just can't do the same with dinner foods. Even leftover pizza sits uneaten in my fridge. I've been known to make desserts, eat a serving when it is ready, and then let it go bad.

I can't explain it. Maybe I just can't get anything that I like as much as those Carl Buddig chicken sandwiches from high school.

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Emeril's not so bad – maybe even an inspiration? (BACKPOST)

Posted by beer_chris on 12-August-2004

I don't really like Emeril Lagasse that much. Don't really know why, nothing personal I guess. I'm like that with some celebrities. Something about them sometimes rubs me the wrong way, and then I personally don't like them. It's not really fair I guess, to judge someone personally by their public image, but I fall into the same trap of most other people and do it anyway. When my parents bought me his most famous cookbook on a trip to New Orleans a few years ago, it took me a few years just to pick it up off the shelf. I think I even had the nerve to frown at it when my Mom handed it to me. I'm not generally ungrateful, but my unjustified dislike of celebrities can sometimes get the better of me. Emeril's New New Orleans Cookbook. I didn't even like the name, as if some Yankee from up east that moved to New Orleans could somehow take over its cuisine.

In reality, New Orleans cuisine is all about external influences merging with local specialities, so Emeril was doing nothing new. My problem was that he seemed more flash then substance – I mean how could a guy trying to have a variety cooking show and launch a sitcom based on cooking ever have the time to develop real recipes?

Well, regardless of how I feel about the image, Emeril the man does a fine job of merging modern cuisine with cajun specialities, at least in my uninformed opinion. His couscous jambalaya was the inspiration for my Houston jambalaya (the recipe below, a huge hit at a family dinner). Tonight I made his Big Easy seafood gumbo for the second time, mainly to use up the last of the crab stock Brendan gave me. Perhaps in a way trying to mock his expertise, I made a bunch of substitutions, even using Prego instead of tomatoes. It came out OK, but probably will be better tomorrow, just like the last batch was when I made it a few months ago.

I've been into cajun food since I got back from Baton Rouge last week. Last night at my parents my Mom made a jambalaya (not Houston jambalaya, but good), and I made boudin balls using boudin sausage I bought at the Boudin Shop, exit 115 about 20 miles west of Baton Rouge. The place was recommended by chowhound.com, and boy did it live up to the billing. The boudin was good, but not as good as the hot fresh crawfish boudin balls I had at the place off I-10.

Anyway, I decided to make Emeril's gumbo again, and it's allright. I'm even starting to like his 'cajun seasoning', for which he provides the recipe in his cookbook. I bought a shaker of it for the first batch, and really haven't used it but once since. I still like Tony Cacherie's better.

The following is my recipe for Houston Jambalaya, the first recipe and inspiration for my so-called cuisine d'Houston. I stole/was inspired by Emeril with this one šŸ™‚

Houston Jambalaya

Inspired by Emeril's couscous jambalaya, p 246 of Emeril's cookbook “Emeril's New New Orleans Cooking”

1 chicken breast
3\4 c chicken broth
1\2-1 lb venison
1 fat link of chorizo (1/4 lb)
2 stalks of celery
1\4 onion
1\4 green pepper
1\2 poblano pepper
1 shallot
4 cloves garlic
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1-1/2 c couscous
1/4-1/2 tsp poblano seeds (to taste)
1 tsp salt
1 c chicken broth
1 heaping tbsp Emeril's cajun seasoning or other cajun seasoning (Zataran's, Tony Cacherie's, Tex-Joy, etc)

1. Mince shallot and garlic
2. Dice all other veggies
3. Cut all meat into 1/4-1/2″ cubes
4. In a large bowl, add seasoning to meat(s) and combine with hands
5. Melt 1 tbsp butter over med-high heat
6. When butter begins to foam, add chorizo
7. Stir and cook until Chorizo/butter mixture is smooth and chorizo has completely rendered – lower heat to medium
8. Add meat, sear on all sides (2 minutes)
9. Empty pan into a bowl (including drippings)
10. Add 2 tbsp butter, melt over medium high until foaming
11. Reduce heat to medium, add vegetable base
12. Stir and cook until onions and celery are translucent and aroma is noticeable
13. Add meat and drippings, stir to combine
14. Add chicken broth and 5 turns black pepper, combine well
15. Bring to a boil, cover and lightly simmer for 10 minutes
16. Add couscous, turn off heat, stir well
17. Cover for 5 minutes to allow couscous to absorb moisture
18. Add salt, pepper & hot sauce to taste

The chorizo and the couscous are the secret!

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