Anyone that knows me, knows that I favor the classics in food , fashion, and life. Pates and Terrines have always fascinated me as they are classic, complex, yet easy dishes that conjure up grandeur, elegance and rusticity at the same time. A terrine is a time honored way to utilize offal and ground meats, usually pork based and bake into a rich flavored loaf. You can get fancy and layered with them or just really basic. I love them for Holidays, entertaining, and picnics. I had the heart and liver of the lamb we purchased and in true nose to tail fashion, wanted to use them, as opposed to discarding them. I knew they would go into a lovely simplistic terrine. Continue reading “Lamb Terrine”
According the Oxford Dictionary a Trifle is British noun meaning.
a cold dessert of sponge cake and fruit covered with layers of custard, jelly, and cream.
I love trifles as they are a great way to use odd pieces of this and that and compose into a comforting dessert enjoyed by all. You can make a large one or series of smaller individual ones for your guest in glasses when entertaining. I have served trifles when catering and they are always well received. I’m not going to provide an exact recipe , but show you how I assembled this through pictures and words. Add your own embellishments. I used Luxardo products as my flavor basis and theme. I love the richness, sweetness, aroma and flavor of the luxurious maraschino cherry liqueur. A jar of the cherries is really a worthwhile splurge to amp up your cocktails, deserts, or mocktails. My new thing as the weather gets warmer is to add a cherry and some of the syrup to my lemonade. This trifle uses both the liquer and about half the jar of cherries. You can use more if you wish.
The Components of The Trifle are:
Crème Anglais ( a thin custard) ( Here is a good recipe you will need to double.) Save half of your crème to fold into the Whipped Cream.
I actually used 7 yolks, and 3/4 cup of sugar that I grinded old dried vanilla beans in ( I never throw anything away and this was left from homemade extract). You can infuse a split vanilla bean in the milk/cream as it heats. I wanted a yolkier custard. Be sure not to overcook as it will curdle and scramble quick. If it does, you may save it by running it through a blender. It should coat a spoon but it wont be very thick. Also another pro tip is to strain your custard through a fine mesh sieve when complete, before cooling.
Heavy Cream whipped ( I always use 40 percent heavy whipping cream)
( About 3-4 cups whipped until stiff. Add some of Luxardo Cherries syrup and a few teaspoons of sugar to sweeten. You will be adding sweetened cooled cream anglais to this as well, so be careful with the sugar.
Frozen Cake ( yellow cake, pound cake, chocolate cake , etc.) I always have some plain cake in the freezer left over from a project. You want a denser cake to absorb the liqueur.
Make a Bottom layer of Frozen Cake cut into cubes. Drizzle Luxardo Liquor over the cake to soak. Don’t over drench.
Pour Crème Anglais over the soaked cake
Add some Luxardo Cherries sporadically around the edge.
Cover first layer with Whipped Cream mixed with half of the Cream Anglais. Add some of the Luxardo cherry syrup to the mix and fold gently. Be sure your bowl is cold when whipping.
Repeat all the steps until bowl is filled. Sprinkle top with a dusting of Cocoa Powder.
Chill and allow to set for several hours before serving , so the flavors meld.
I don’t know about you, but I’m longing for the sunshine. In a fit of cabin fever after an endless deluge of frozen rain and snow, I brainstormed this quick recipe using pantry ingredients on hand. All you need is a food processor or extraction bullet type blender to make this. Impress your friends or family with your homemade ice cream that just takes enough time to freeze first, then blend. It’s so easy your kids can help out. It’s all about presentation and taste. No one will know it involved two canned pantry items and some flavoring extracts. Make it kid friendly or grown up with a drizzle of dark rum.
I suggest a deep silicone based ice tray like this for portion control and ease. Two deep cubes make a nice serving. When frozen overnight it still has a slight softness due to fats in the coconut milk. This aides in the way it blends ups creamy.
Serve alone or topped with toasted coconut ( unsweetened coconut toasted in a dry skillet until golden). I used banana extract for added flavor. Use vanilla, banana. coconut or pineapple extracts. Instead of dark rum, try Kahlua, banana liquor, or coconut flavored rum.
Here is the recipe.
- 1 can Coconut milk approx. 13.5 oz
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk approx. 14 oz
- 1 tsp banana extract
- Blend cans of coconut milk, condensed milk, and flavoring.
- Pour into ice tray and freeze until firm ( overnight).
- Take a few cubes at a time, as much your blender will permit, and pulse until creamy.
- Serve in frozen glasses.
- Serve with unsweetened toasted coconut, rum, or other liquors (optional)
I’m going to be brutally honest. A lot of cookbooks are not impressing me these days. They are tritely styled , photographed and promoted. I like a cookbook with real chops, with substance. I want to be inspired and learn a new twist or turn. I want a cookbook that tells a story and really has a soul. Tasting Rome came along and warmed up some inspiration inside. OK, so I’m Facebook friends with Kristina Gil, and wanted to support her work, but it’s something more. When CS and I went to Rome a few years back, this was the food I was looking for. I was told by my friend, that in Italy, Florence and Tuscany beat out Rome culinary wise , but I knew there was layer of old Rome that had amazing food. I had brief glimpses of it here and there, like that famous food from the old Jewish ghetto quarter that I enjoyed in a New York City restaurant around Broadway.
As I flipped through the book I fell upon two recipes I knew I had to try. Both were a longer process, which I love, and involved oxtail. I drove to my favorite Korean store here in Chicago because they really have the best quality and price of oxtails from what I’ve seen. Ones with lots of meat. Oxtail has to be my favorite offal and the dish I’m sharing with you is what you call a Quinto Quarto dish, the “fifth quarter” of the animal, the offal. The first quarter of the animal was sold to the Nobility, the second to Clergy, the third to the Bourgeoisie, and the fourth to the military’s soldiers. The fifth quarter was all that remained for those less fortunate, the others.
It was suggested one eat these oxtails with your hands, like the modern day Italian American style gravy made with neck bones or short ribs. I knew CS would want some hearty pasta with it, so I made some spinach gnocchi with leftover roasted potatoes .
I loved the addition of a curious mix of pine nuts and raisins added at the end. I wondered if that was the Jewish influence on some Roman cuisine? The Coda alla Vaccinara was outstanding and tastes even better the next day.
A few things. The recipe calls for salting the meat with kosher salt a day before. I confess I overlooked that and skipped it. It still turned out great. I also toasted my pine nuts in a dry skillet , as I would advise to always do, because it brings out the flavors and oils on product that may have been sitting on shelves. I freeze my pine nuts to preserve the quality and prevent them from going off. I also did not use celery as CS hates the vegetable. It’s something I have to sneak in when he’s not looking . I did ramp up the garlic factor more than what the recipe called for , because that’s my style. That’s the beauty of the dish. You can really add your own spin to this.
The use of cocoa powder in the end transforms the tomato beefy sauce to the extraordinary. I’ve used cocoa before in savory cooking and it’s always a great little surprise ingredient.
I hope you enjoy this. This recipe just keeps giving and giving. I used some of the sauce , which turns into a rich gelatinous tomato beef stock to make a risotto type dish with barley and lentils . Nothing will go to waste to here. The braised oxtail also freezes very well.
This recipe is reprinted from Tasting Rome Fresh Flavors & Forgotten Recipes From an Ancient City, by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill. Clarkson Potter Publishers New York
- 2½ oz lardo (cured fatback) or 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3½ lbs oxtail, cut into 3 inch segments
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 5-6 whole cloves
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
- 6 cups beef broth
- 2 celery stalks cut into 3 inch pieces
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon Cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
- Render the lardo in a large pot over medium -high heat , or heat olive oil until its shimmering.
- Add the oxtail segments and cook until browned all over, then remove from the pot and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion, garlic, and cloves.
- Cook until the onion is translucent and the garlic has just turned golden, about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and cook until it turned a deep brick red, about 5 minutes.
- Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and cook until the alcohol aroma dissipates, about a minute, then add the tomatoes.
- Return the meat to the pot and cover three-quarters of the way with the beef broth.
- Cover and cook until the meat is just falling off the bone, 5-6 hours, adding more broth if the sauce reduced too much.
- Toward the end of cooking, add the celery, raisins, pine nuts, and cacao, mixing well. Simmer for 20-30 minutes more.
- Turn off the heat and allow the oxtail to rest for at least 30 minutes., ideally overnight, in the refrigerator. Serve on its own. Use any leftover sauce to dress Gnocchi di Patate.
Above is a quick water color I did of some Bach sheet music my dear friend and todays subject Dr. Eugenia Cheng posted on her social media after her long awaited piano arrived from the UK. To see her joy reunited with it via Facebook was palpable.
I can imagine to be separated from it must feel like being separated from a loved one or even a limb. It’s a part of Eugenia. The piano was a part of her, that was across the ocean, as she settled into her new role here in Chicago at The Art Institute of Chicago.I met Dr. Eugenia Cheng a long time ago. I lost cost count of the years, it’s been over a decade. Eugenia was and is this brilliant mathematician, who loved to bake, listen to opera and classical music. We met when she became involved on an Opera board I was active in at Lyric Opera Chicago. One would normally feel intimidated by a Cambridge educated classically trained pianist and mathematician. But that’s the beauty of Eugenia, you don’t and that’s why book How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics is an international best seller.
I admire her dedication , passion and focus. You don’t see that passion exuded by anyone, as you will with Eugenia. She has weekly salon called Liederstube where other like minded souls can congregate and create more beauty through song.
Eugenia inspires you and makes terrifying subjects fun and interesting, whether it be baking or math. Did you catch her on Stephen Colbert breaking down Puff Pastry?
1) What food makes you happy?
Almost all food makes me happy! But especially chocolate, very dark chocolate that I make from unroasted ingredients. I eat it first thing in the morning every single day – that’s my only food rule.
2) What food makes you cringe?
Tripe. I’m shuddering even just typing the word. Tripe is a specialty of the region my father is from, and when I went to visit as a child everyone kept giving me tripe to eat as a “special treat”. I discovered that if I held my breath while eating it then I wouldn’t taste anything, but that didn’t stop me from feeling the texture on my tongue…
3) What music do you like to listen to or hum when you cook or bake?
I don’t usually listen to music when I cook as I find it distracting, but if I need to do something for a certain number of minutes sometimes I’ll sing a particular song that I know takes that number of minutes. I went through a phase of singing Strauss’s “Befreit” while whisking egg whites, for example. At Christmas when I’m roasting my goose I will put on Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. I’m liable to gesticulate to the music though, and this can scare my guests when I start gesticulating while wielding a cleaver.
4) Tell me about a culinary goal? A dish you want attempt, a book you want to write?
I still want to perfect the making of macarons! It is driving me slightly nutty that sometimes they come out perfectly and sometimes they don’t, know matter how carefully I control what I’m doing.
5) Where is your favorite place in the world to eat?
Paris. Paris is a magical place for me where I can eat whatever I want and not get fat. I think it’s because everything is so extremely delicious I don’t need to eat so much to be satisfied, and stuffing my face there would seem like a waste of that deliciousness.
Like I said , she’s an inspiration. I only wish I had a strong female influence like this in my life as I tackled the subject of math. Check out her You Tube Channel.
Thank you Eugenia,