Archive for ingredients

Something on Bratwurst and Cultivars

Posted in condiments, discount, mushroom, pasta, sausage with tags , , on August 18, 2012 by oskila

Today’s dinner isn’t too exciting on account of the cheapskate part of the brain winning over the gourmet part again. But bagging some mushrooms got me thinking of cultivars a bit, since many are surprised that the white button mushrooms are the same species as brown or crimini mushrooms and portobello mushrooms, only different a different color and at a different point in life. For some reason, this isn’t widely known, and the trade name for brown button mushrooms in Sweden is for some reason skogschampinjon (forest button mushroom) which is the Swedish trivial name for the Blushing Wood Mushroom (Agaricus silvaticus), a rather different looking species in many ways. I don’t find this intraspecific variation quite as odd as for example chili- and bell peppers being the same species (the common names in Swedish aren’t as obvious giveaways as the English ones) and it’s even more fascinating that turnip, napa cabbage and pak choi are all cultivars of the same species.

It’s also interesting how domesticated species can revert to a more original state. I vaguely remember a Nazi project to restore the Aurochs, which failed, but produced cattle coloured like the extinct wild ones – cows reddish brown, bulls black with a light eel along the back.

To turn attention back to food – what we had besides the mushrooms was discount sausage (again), supposedly bratwurst, but with today’s production methods and grocery ranges it’s hard to know what exactly constitutes a proper bratwurst.

 

Along with this, also pasta and homemade pesto. And some Parmesan on top of course.

Crustacean Carcasses, part 2

Posted in asian, noodles, shellfish, soup, stock, surimi with tags , on August 10, 2012 by oskila

Around Easter I went to great lengths in making a pot of shrimp and lobster stock, which was blogged as Crustacean Carcasses, part 1. I’ve been worried that it’s gone bad in the freezer since it’s been sitting there for four months or so. It did smell a bit funny, but I recall that it did so even before being frozen, so I had to defrost some and try it out

First we fry a bit of carrots and garlic

Then I added slightly parboiled Vietnamese rice noodles, for a break from all the ramen, thawed stock, scallions and bits of frozen surimi stick. It’s very advisable to defrost the sticks separately and add them at last minute (if you want to use surimi at all, unprocessed fish is probably tastier) since they unfurl when boiled.

Put in bowl and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and other sprinkly stuff in you have any. I’d say this dish provided an interesting clash between Asian style ingredients and typical French stock.

First Harvest 2 – Tomato

Posted in vegetables with tags , on August 6, 2012 by oskila

My mother entrusted me with a tomato plant a couple of months ago and they’re just the divas of windowsill gardening. A liter of water every day and the water has to be lukewarm and preferably drawn the previous day. It needs a lot of sun, but if not properly acclimatized over several weeks it will wilt or get sunburn if put on the balcony.

So far the plant has produced two tomatoes, and one of them was ripe enough for picking the other day. It had encountered some kind of problem or disease quite early on and had a large brown spot on the underside which spread into some of the seeds. The upper half looked fine though, so I had a taste but didn’t want to use it in food.

Originally, tomatoes were just as fickle as the plants they grow on, with very thin walls and lots of juice, and bruised or broke very easily. Most tomatoes nowadays are therefore much tougher and drier, to withstand industrial handling. This one was meaty to the point of almost being a beef tomato (albeit much smaller) which I happen to like (remember Coeur de Boeuf) and one can only hope that the one still growing, which is just starting to turn a bit orange, will be of similar texture. I don’t have a problem with cooking with only one tomato, since most of my experimental food is done at almost micro scale in order to minimize waste in case things go pear shaped. Since I have a good deal of onions and cucumber at home it’s possible that I’m making half a cup of gazpacho in the near future.

First Harvest

Posted in asian, cabbage, vegetarian with tags , on July 30, 2012 by oskila

Just wanted to brag a bit about the fact that the pak choi (or bok choy, or chinese cabbage) growing on my balcony has finally reached a size were use in actual food is a real possibility. If I’m to believe the text on the back of the seed packet, I’ll be self sustaining in pak choi until October. We’ve used up all the available pots, so if I’m to expand operations, I will have to do some guerrilla gardening down in the courtyard. I’m sure no one will mind.

Crustacean carcasses, part 1

Posted in leftovers, shellfish, stock with tags on April 12, 2012 by oskila

The Easter feast my parents threw didn’t only see typical Swedish Easter food like eggs and pickled herring, but also lovely Norway lobster, in culinary context know as Scampi. We also had some nice shrimp.

Eating these creatures means there will be a lot of shells left over which can be used to make stock, so I pilfered them. Lets get to it! Remember that making stock is a process that can’t really be hurried, so cancel your meetings.

First the shells are given a quick  sizzle in some oil while cracking and crushing them a bit with a potato masher or similar, in order to release more flavour.  This is about a pound and a half of shells – the shells of six large Norway lobsters and an unknown number of shrimp.

Add some onions, carrots, leeks, parsnip and fennel.

Next we add four liters of water and as much white wine as one can spare. Bring to boil and let it simmer.

This is what it looks like after simmering for an hour. If one needs something to do, skimming excess oil off is a good idea, but I didn’t bother.

Now it’s been simmering for a total of three hours and the flavors have developed quite nicely. It’s time to get ride of all the bits and pieces.

Straining the stock. I cut a piece from  an old pillowcase which worked quite nice. Next step is reducing the stock to a more manageable volume.

Half an hour of fairly gentle simmering later and the stock has been reduced by a third or so. Now a bit of seasoning might be a good idea, but go easy on the salt if the plan is to reduce further.

Here’s the final result, cooling off in a cold water bath. I decided to call it a day when the stock had reduced to a little over half a liter which is a volume that fits easily in the freezer.

Four to five hours of work for a pint of lobster/shrimp stock is an average time frame I’d say. I’m stowing it away for use in some kind of soup or stew later on, which is why this post was designated ‘part 1’.

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