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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 12:07am on 19/06/2011 under ,
Tonight, over dinner, in response to [ profile] fadethecat's comment on my last post, I looked through some books I have on ancient cuisine to come up with some Greek recipes. I have (or at least was able to find) two books in my library with conjectural Greek recipes:

Kaufman, Cathy K. Cooking in Ancient Civilizations. Greenwood Press, 2006. ISBN: 0-313-33204-5.

Bober, Phyllis. Art, Culture & Cuisine: Ancient and Medieval Gastronomy. University of Chicago Press 1999. ISBN: 0-226-06253-8.

The recipes in Bober's book attempt to recreate a "feast" of the period, and thus is heavy on meats and other foods that would have been expensive in period, while Kaufman's book, true to its subtitle, includes recipes that likely would have been eaten frequently by ordinary people. Kaufman's book in particular gives a number of different recipes for flatbreads, loaf breads, and bready sweets, as well as vegetable recipes, though both books give recipes for cooking meats, including chickens (there is a simple but tasty-looking chicken-in-a-pot recipe that I'm going to try with my crockpot when the weather gets colder again).

Anyway, I decided to pick three recipes that are at least typical of the foodstuffs available to the ancient Greeks. If anyone wants more, I believe both books are still in print. They should be available at the usual booksellers or local public library.Read more... )
Mood:: 'pleased' pleased
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 08:06pm on 10/01/2010 under , ,
I took down my Christmas decorations today. Usually I do this sometime after January 1 when my door wreath has dried out so much that it's turned brown, but this year's wreath could have lasted a couple of days longer. Most of the other decorations on the block are down (including my next door neighbor's lighted bushes) so I figured it would make me sadder leaving them up. It makes me a little sad to take down my Christmas decorations, but leaving them up when all the rest of the world has gone back to the drab busyness of winter makes me sadder still.

On the bright side, I bought some duck breast this weekend so that I could experiment a bit with a recipe I have that is based on Anglo-Saxon cuisine. It's a game stew with barley (I chose to use duck instead of rabbit, though my local butcher sells rabbit also). I added a bit of bacon to the duck and barley for flavor. The other ingredients include broth (chicken bouillon in this case, though the Anglo-Saxons would probably have made broth from the duck itself and used that), leeks, and mushrooms sauteed in butter. It is seasoned with dill salt, mustard powder, sage, garlic, and bay leaves. The smell as it slowly simmers in my crockpot is indescribably wonderful; I hope it tastes as good as it smells when it's done.

EDIT: I decided to write about my duck and barley stew in my food blog; you can find that post here.
Mood:: 'blah' blah
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 09:14pm on 27/12/2009 under ,
This one is on food throughout history. I've called it "Food Through Time," and it can be found here.

God knows why I'm doing this; it's not like I have a lot of free time, or anything like that. But I know just enough about the subject that blogging about the odd book I read, or item I learn about, seemed like it might be fun. We'll see where, if anywhere, it goes.
Mood:: 'productive' productive
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 10:15pm on 04/10/2008 under ,
I've been looking around at the restaurant chains that have opened up branches in our area over the past few years, and I've noticed something.

Despite the health claims for lighter diets and diets without red meat, and despite what appears to be an increasing number of vegetarians and vegans, the humble hamburger remains much in demand. Today, however, it's a bigger, tastier burger than was (and is!) served by the longest-lived burger chains, White Castle and McDonalds. No, I mean the latest crop of chains, targeted at the middle and upper middle class, who nonetheless sell mostly burgers and fries: Five Guys (which sells only burgers, fries, and hot dogs, but provides boxes of raw, shelled peanuts, free of charge), and Goodburger, (which sells things like BLTs and turkey sandwiches in addition to fries and every kind of burger imaginable). Don't forget the older (1980s) crop of burger places like Johnny Rockets and Ruby's that build their locations to have a shiny, 50's diner-style look, but actually serve little more than burgers and fries. And also don't forget the burger places that masquerade as T.G.I. Friday's clones, namely, Fuddruckers and Red Robin (which started out as a tavern and ended up stripping down its emphasis to burgers later on).

In addition to all of that, every diner and many pizzerias can serve you a hamburger as well. They're *everywhere*, even more so than they were back in the day (way before *my* time, certainly) when McDonalds was new, nifty, and cool.
Mood:: 'intrigued' intrigued
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 11:20pm on 23/07/2007 under ,
A good friend of mine just e-mailed me the following, which purports to be the recipe for Remy's version of ratatouille from the movie! Since I'm not a big squash/zucchini fan, I probably won't attempt to make the recipe, but except for the presence of those vegetables, it really does sound delicious! I am providing it below, with all of the attributions and the copyright notice. (No, I have no idea who Thomas Keller is, but my guess is that he's a chef at one of the three restaurants that Pixar consulted in making the movie.)

"Here is Remy's ratatouille recipe, from the movie with the same
name as the dish, courtesy of Thomas Keller.

Unlike traditional ratatouilles, this recipe calls for layering
vegetables in a spiral on top of a piperade. You could also layer
the vegetables in stripes, if you find that easier.

CONFIT BYALDI (or, Remy's Ratatouille)

Start to finish: 3 1/2 hours, 1 hour active

Servings: 4

For the piperade (bottom layer):

1/2 red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1/2 orange bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
3 tomatoes (about 12 ounces total weight),
peeled, seeded and finely diced, juices reserved
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
1/2 a bay leaf
Kosher salt

For the vegetables:

1 medium zucchini (4 to 5 ounces)
sliced in 1/16-inch-thick rounds
1 Japanese eggplant (4 to 5 ounces)
sliced into 1/16-inch-thick rounds
1 yellow (summer) squash (4 to 5 ounces)
sliced into 1/16-inch-thick rounds
4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch-thick rounds
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Assorted fresh herbs (such as thyme flowers, chervil, thyme)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Special equipment: Oven-proof skillet

To make the piperade, preheat oven to 450 F.
Line a baking sheet with foil.

Place pepper halves on the baking sheet, cut side down.
Roast until the skins loosen, about 15 minutes.
Remove the peppers from the oven and let rest
until cool enough to handle.
Reduce the oven temperature to 275 F.

Peel the peppers and discard the skins.
Finely chop the peppers, then set aside.

In medium skillet over low heat, combine oil, garlic and onion
and saute until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley and bay leaf.
Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook until very soft
and little liquid remains, about 10 minutes. Do not brown.

Add the peppers and simmer to soften them. Discard the herbs,
then season to taste with salt.
Reserve a tablespoon of the mixture, then spread the remainder
over the bottom of an 8-inch oven-proof skillet.

To prepare the vegetables, you will arrange the sliced zucchini,
eggplant, squash and tomatoes over the piperade in the skillet.

Begin by arranging 8 alternating slices of vegetables
down the center, overlapping them so that 1/4 inch of each slice
is exposed.
This will be the center of the spiral.
Around the center strip, overlap the vegetables in a close spiral
that lets slices mound slightly toward center.
All vegetables may not be needed. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the garlic, oil and thyme,
then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Sprinkle this over vegetables.

Cover the skillet with foil and crimp edges to seal well.
Bake until the vegetables are tender
when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours.
Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes.
(Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.)

If there is excess liquid in pan,
place it over medium heat on stove until reduced.
(At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated
for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350 F oven until warm.)

To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl whisk together
the reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs,
and salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, heat the broiler and place skillet under it
until lightly browned.
Slice in quarters and lift very carefully onto plate
with an offset spatula.
Turn spatula 90 degrees as you set the food down,
gently fanning the food into fan shape.
Drizzle the vinaigrette around plate."

(Recipe adapted from Thomas Keller)

07/06/07 12:29 © Copyright The Associated Press.
All rights reserved.
Mood:: 'pleased' pleased
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 09:15pm on 18/02/2006 under , , ,
The above is a Japanese phrase that means something like "it was a great feast!" The greatest feast I had recently, though, was at a Chinese restaurant; Margaret Kuo's Mandarin, near my home in Malvern.

Eric and I were eating with an out-of-town friend, and I decided I wanted to try something I'd never eaten before. Since our friend was not a fancier of spicy food and I wanted a dish we could all share, that narrowed my choices somewhat. I finally settled on something called "Shanghai Traditional Pork", which supposedly was pork shoulder roasted in traditional herbs and spices.

When the dish came out, I was stunned. The menu didn't mention that they had been planning to give me the entire shoulder of the beast. An elliptical hunk of meat loomed before me, surrounded by a small ocean of brown sauce in which scallions floated like giant squid. Rising from the right hand side of the meat mound was a neatly sawed off piece of bone, looking oddly like a minature pulpit. And all I had to eat this huge portion of Roast Beast with was a pair of chopsticks, a spoon, and a fork....

Fortunately the chefs knew their craft. The meat was tender enough to fall readily from the bone, needing only to be coaxed with fork or chopsticks to fall into manageable shreds. Since the hunk was still far too much food for a normal human (especially since a bowl of rice came with it) about 2/3rd of it is resting in my refrigerator now, minus the bone pulpit and the half-inch layer of fat and gristle which covered the back of the piece. That's two more meals for me, or a meal for me and Eric, if not more.
Mood:: 'full' full
Music:: none
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posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 06:17pm on 13/11/2005 under , , , ,
On Thursday night, Eric and I decided to try out a new restaurant near us, a Indian Chinese (!) place called "Royal India."

The food turned out to be, at best, mediocre. Slightly scorched garlic naan, dry keema mutter. Their "Chinese" dishes are supposedly Hakka Chinese, which Eric says is a non-Han Chinese ethnic group. Unfortunately, Hakka style appears to mean "breaded, with lots of chili sauce." The "Drums of Heaven" (spicy faux chicken wings) were okay that way, but breading the pieces of lamb in the spicy lamb stew made for a fairly noxious concoction.

However, the restaurant had a large flat screen TV that was continually playing music videos. Hindi music videos. All of the songs had female lead singers (with very pleasant voices) and all of the music was quite forgettable, except for the Hindi attempt at Jamaican-style rap music, which was just weird. What kept me watching was the oddness of the images. Unlike a lot of Western music videos which merely show the singer in concert from umpteen different angles, these videos tried to tell a story.

And what strange stories they were! One was clearly about a young Hindu working girl. We see her getting dressed in salwar kameez (a kind of tunic top with loose pants combination that is often worn by young Indian women in place of a sari), and hopping a rickshaw bicycle cart to get to some kind of classical Indian dance class. Later on, we see her girlfriends trying to match her up with a young Hindu man who is acting as though he is very interested in her. They re-dress her in a tight sleeveless top and blue jeans for the Big Date.

Another number featured a European-looking young man, who keeps admiring and fondling (only the non-sexual body parts of) a young, sleeping Hindu girl. Repeated shots of Russian saint icons and snow-bound cemeteries are apparently meant to tell the viewer that the man is Russian. However, why the girl doesn't wake up and either cooperate with his caresses or slap him is beyond me, since I don't understand Hindi.

There was another video featuring a high-voiced woman in a red sari (a wedding sari?) and a man in a white shirt and black pants. This video gave me the impression of being a Hindu version of a Lucy and Ricky Ricardo sitcom. Judging by the gestures, she seemed to be trying to tell him that she was going to have a baby, and he was being extremely clueless and kept missing the point.

And there were many, many more--including a strange one with horror movie imagery and another with spy movie imagery.

It was also interesting how little skin was showing on the attractive women singers and extras. Many of the videos had large batteries of female dancers, and all were very good looking in the modern conventional sense--slender, long-legged, clear skinned. But the only skin showing, for the most part, was torsos, arms and faces. Some of the numbers put their dancers in long filmy skirts with bra tops, but most of the outfits didn't even show cleavage. It was as though the producers wanted to hint at the erotic without actually going so far as to *be* erotic. Pretty sorry stuff for the home of the "Kama Sutra" to have generated.
Mood:: 'contemplative' contemplative


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