25 April 2011

I've got green balls

Now you're reading this!!

So last year I wrote about making poblano matzoh balls but there were no pictures. Well I had to recover from my matzoh ball disaster of last week as well as wanting to try making the green balls again. Am happy to report that after a good weekend of cooking, I feeling like I'm moving away from the sense of disaster that had been haunting me in the kitchen recently. Anywho, I also have to get out the good camera, the phone camera is not really optimal - but it is easy.

So to make the green balls, first thing is to char the skin of the poblano, which is easily done over the burner of the gas stove.
Using this method, it didn't get quite as soft as when you char the skin under the broiler. So in order to soften it up so it's easy to mush, I just put it in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Then mushed it up, added to a regular mix of matzoh balls at the point just before you make the balls and put them on to boil.

I will say that I made perhaps one of the best batches ever of chicken soup and these green-tinted matzoh balls make a nice change. I will probably be making them every year and maybe next year even try some red ones made with another type of chile.

21 April 2011

The highs and lows of cooking for Pesach

It seems there's been a lot of highs and lows for me lately in the kitchen and Pesach was not to be passed over, so to speak, on this front.

My mom asked me to make a cake or some manner of sweetness for Monday's seder. I was happy to oblige and my search for an interesting and different option began. You'd be surprised by how few options there are out there on the internet and baking is just not something that I'm comfortable making up. Anyway, I ended up using a Nigella Lawson recipe from her book Feast for damp apple and almond cake. It worked out quite well (no pics, however) but would have probably been better if I'd had the right cake pan. But not bad for a first try.

This year, I also wanted to do something different than going out and buying dem coconut macaroons, jellied fruit slices, or Manischewitz kosher for Pesach chocolates. J bought a Bonnie Stern cookbook that had a few gems in it. Although her recipe did lead me astray on the issue of whether or not to stir the caramel as it cooked (you stir constantly btw), I did get a particularly tasty treat to share with friends and family.
Basically whip up some caramel - that's 1 cup of butter and 1 cup of brown sugar - then spread it over a few matzahs. Let it get all nice and bubbly, get it out the oven and sprinkle a bag of chocolate chips (kosher for passover, of course), wait five minutes and give it a nice schmear to cover it all up. Let it cool, which usually takes a few hours, then break it up into small pieces. Let the oohs and ahhs ensue as everyone enjoys the matzah crunch.

Oh yeah, so that was the high. The lowest of the low: matzah balls like golf balls. They were not a delight. I shall try to remedy that before the week is over. Following the instructions properly will likely help.

17 April 2011

The highs and lows now that we're cooking with gas

Having lived in the new house for a couple of months, we are still getting used to cooking with gas. For the most part, I love it. For instance, I've always wanted to make my own baba ghanouj but I like it really smokey and have had neither a bbq nor a gas stove . . . but that has now all changed. So the other day, I picked up some beautiful aubergines, eggplants, berenjena - whatever you may call them - and set to.

The most important part of the whole operation, according to Nigel Slater and I'm middle eastern cooks the world over, is charring the skins of the fruit so you get that awesome smokey taste. So basically I took the two eggplants that I had and put them right on the burner of the gas stove and charred the heck out of them until the skin was burnt and the flesh was all soft. And oh how fabulous the kitchen smelled.

Next step - put the piping hot fruits into a colander resting on a bowl. Once they've cooled a bit, peel the charred skin off and discard. During the process, your eggplants will be leeching some water, but you want to get rid of most of it because it's kind of bitter and who needs that! So you can either just sort of mush the flesh with a fork until you've got rid of most of the liquid or sort of chop it up a bit and then mush it. Either way, get as much liquid out as you can and discard it.

You now have a nice load of mushy eggplant. Add to this:
  • 3-4 tbsp tahina
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped as fine as you can
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of one small or 1/2 of one large lemon
  • salt and pepper

Most of the recipes I read for this say you don't need to use a blender but depending on the quality of your eggplant, you may want to. I think mine may have either been a bit old or had some bruising because I got a couple of nasty hard bits that couldn't be mushed with just a fork. And getting little hard bits in your creamy dip is not pleasant, so if you need to, waz it up with the blender if you want to. Finish it off with a sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley.

I served it with some chicken grilled on the bbq after a bit of a greek marinade (lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and oregano) as well as a green salad and rice.

So you'll see in the photo above some fluffy white rice and that brings me to one of the lows of cooking with gas. Now, you see, I have been cooking rice perfectly for many, many years. I took the knowledge passed down to me from my mother and others and then made it work for me (1 cup basmati rice, 2 cups water, pinch of salt and a drop of oil/2 tsps of tomato paste if you want. Bring water to boil. Add rice and bring back to boil. Turn down to low, cover, and cook for 17 minutes). My rice came out perfect every time. Every time. My rice mojo, however, is now lost. I've made mushy rice, I've made some absolutely charred rice, and I've made some passable but mediocre rice. I have not made perfect rice with this gas stove. So there is much to learn. For now, I'm tending more toward the potato!

10 April 2011

I'm a Geek.

Yep.  Royal Wedding tea and my Wills and Kate mug.  Very much a moment of excitement at our local tea shop to find the mugs.  I wanted the tea cup set but at just around $80, I could not justify it.  The morning of the wedding you will find G and I, Royal Wedding brew in hand with a full English breakfast.  Because that's how we roll in this town, baby.  :)


Related Posts with Thumbnails