Yorkshire Pudding

March 25, 2018 – I first tasted Yorkshire pudding in London several years ago.  It was served in the traditional manner as an accompaniment to roast beef.  It was delicious.

When we in the United States think of pudding we most often think chocolate.  Or banana.  Or vanilla.

It’s not the same in the United Kingdom.  In that country, a pudding can be one of several things.  Yorkshire pudding, for example, is a dough that puffs up in the oven much like a soufflé.

Originally called dripping pudding, Yorkshire pudding has been a staple in the United Kingdom for centuries.  No one knows for sure when it first appeared.  It’s generally agreed that it originated in the Yorkshire district of England though other parts of the country challenge that.

Yorkshire Pudding

The first written reference to dripping pudding is in a cookbook published in 1737.  A woman named Hannah Glasse is credited with changing the name to Yorkshire pudding in her book, The Art of Cooking Made Plain and Simple, published ten years later.

Like so many now beloved dishes, Yorkshire pudding first served the purpose of utilizing every morsel of precious food.  Even the drippings from roasting meat were used in making it.

It was served as an appetizer of sorts in the hope that diners would fill up on the bread-like pudding so they wouldn’t eat so much of the meat course.  After all, meat was harder to come by than flour and water.

Times changed.  Meat became easier to find and more affordable.  Yorkshire pudding became the traditional accompaniment to a Sunday roast beef dinner.  It is most often served with  gravy or perhaps just a little of the jus from the roast.

Yorkshire pudding is not hard to make.  The sine qua non, however, is high heat and a little hot oil in the cooking vessel.  Hot to the point of smoking.   Also all ingredients must be at room temperature.  If not, the pudding likely will not rise.

The pudding can be made in one large oven-proof vessel or, as I chose, in smaller ramekins.

Here then is my take on Yorkshire pudding.

Yorkshire pudding

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Meat drippings

Preheat the oven to 450.

Beat eggs and milk briskly.

Sift flour and salt into the egg and milk.  Mix well.

Put one tablespoon of meat drippings into each ramekin.  Put the ramekins in the oven.  Let the oil heat to the point of smoking.  Fill each hot ramekin about two-thirds full with the batter.  Bake for 20 minutes.

The puddings should be puffed like a soufflé and nicely browned.  Serve au jus with roast beef.

Bon temps!

Chicken Teriyaki

March 18, 2018 – For those of us who started life in the heartland of America in the middle of the last century, teriyaki might have been our first introduction to the food and cooking styles of Japan.

Traditionally, teriyaki refers to a glaze made of soy sauce, mirin, and sugar.  Grilling is the standard method of cooking.  In Japan, fish is most often the protein used for teriyaki.  In this country, teriyaki sauce is used for a wide variety of meat, poultry, and seafood.

Chicken Teriyaki

Our favorite part of the chicken is the thigh.  I especially like skin on, bone in thighs.  The bone and skin add considerable additional flavor and you don’t have to eat the skin if you don’t want to.

Chicken teriyaki sounded good.  I put together a marinade with what I had on hand.  Except for the soy sauce and sugar, there was nothing traditional about it.

I had no mirin so I substituted a little white wine.  I decided to add garlic and ginger.

Then in the spirit of global fusion, I tossed in some Herbes de Provence, a blend of spices usually associated with the south of France.  Herbes de Provence can be expected to include savory, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and lavender.

My marinade was so far removed from a traditional teriyaki sauce that I felt very much the culinary auteur.  And best of all it was excellent.

I marinated the thighs over night.  Laid skin down in a roasting pan, they cooked in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.  I turned them over, basted them, and let them roast for another 15 minutes.

Chicken should be at 165 when done.  Knowing they would continue cooking, I took the thighs out of the oven when a meat thermometer registered 155 and climbing.  Within a few minutes the internal temperature had climbed to 165 degrees of perfection.

Perfectly cooked.  Juicy and sweet.

Non-traditional.  Fusion.  Delicious!

Teriyaki Marinade

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

chopped fresh ginger (about an inch)

1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence

Mix all the ingredients.

If using for meat or poultry, let it marinate in the refrigerator over night.  15 minutes to half an hour is plenty of time for fish or seafood.

 

Basil-Onion Hollandaise & How to Fix It

March 15, 2018 – I had a couple of beautiful T-bone steaks.

I had a potato and some duck fat.

Steaks with French fries cooked in duck fat!  Wonderful!

How about a sauce?  Good idea!  Basil Hollandaise with onion would be perfect.  Similar to a Béarnaise but with basil rather than tarragon and a little something extra with the onion.

I could taste the meal already.

My late friend Brandon Allen taught me to make a Hollandaise.  It should be done in a double boiler with hot water in the lower section.  BA said I should be able to touch the bottom of the upper section to my hand without burning it.  Hot water, not boiling, is the key.

I made the Hollandaise first.  It takes a while to do it right and it will wait patiently while the remainder of the meal comes together.  Well, within reason.

I can make an excellent Hollandaise.  But it was the Ides of March.  Perhaps ancient ghosts were playing tricks but something went awry.  Maybe it was too much basil and onion.  Who knows?  It’s what happens when you experiment.  The eggs and butter separated.  What now?

I rushed to the Internet and frantically began looking for fixes.  It turns out that fixing a separated Hollandaise isn’t that difficult.  Boiling water is the secret.  Add a teaspoon at a time and stir, stir, stir.  It took three teaspoons of boiling water but the eggs and butter were back together.  It would have been easier and prettier without the basil and onion but then that’s the fun of experimenting.  As it turned out the minced onion and basil were swimming happily in the reconstituted sauce.

Even better, dribbled over the steaks it was delicious!  And what about the French fries cooked in duck fat?  Celestial!

Basil-Onion Hollandaise Sauce

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 sticks butter, cut into pieces of 1 tablespoon each

1 teaspoon finely minced onion

2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon dried basil

Heat water in the bottom section of a double boiler until it is hot but not boiling.

Combine the egg yolks and lemon juice in the top section.

T-bone steak with Basil-Onion Hollandaise

Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, stirring until each piece is completely melted and combined into the sauce before adding the next piece of butter.

When all the butter is combined into the Hollandaise, add the finely minced onion, vinegar, and basil.

Stir to combine.

Bon temps!

 

 

Cassoulet

March 3, 2018 – The layers of flavor in the cassoulet I made were so many I hardly know where to begin.

So I’ll start with a little history.

The origin of the cassoulet is traced to the mid 14th century.  It was the time of the One Hundred Year War in Europe.  Edward, Prince of Wales, who was known as the Black Prince, had laid siege to the town of Castelnaudary in what was then the region of Languedoc in southeast France.  The residents of the city tossed all the food they had into a pot to create a stew, so the story goes, that would nourish the defenders.

Named for the cassole, the inverted cone-shaped vessel in which it was cooked, the cassoulet traditionally contained pork, pork skin, duck confit, sausages, and white beans.  Today’s cassoulet varies widely from tradition.  Some contain tomatoes, in the style of Toulouse; others do not.  Pork is still the most often used meat, though chicken, beef, or lamb are also frequently used.  The one constant remains the white bean.

Cassoulet

I had leftover meat from a large beef chuck roast I had cooked the night before.  I had some dried white beans in the pantry.  I decided to make a cassoulet.

The multiple layers of flavor came from the leftover roast, the beans (which I cooked separately), the broth I had made a few days earlier, plus a little something extra I added to the fully assembled dish.

The roast had been seasoned with whole cloves, a cinnamon stick, and a few generous dollops of Tabasco, my favorite pepper sauce.  Multiple layers in the beef alone.

I seasoned the beans lightly since I planned on using them in the cassoulet.  A little salt and pepper.  And, oh yes, a bit of cayenne.  Maybe more than a bit.

The stock was made from chicken bones, a few scraps of New York strip steak, celery, onion, and a poblano pepper.  Poblanos are generally mild. I like them for the dark, smoky flavor they impart.

To add a little Louisiana accent, I decided to use andouille sausage.  While I was at it, why not add a little Texas spice with RoTel tomatoes?

So let’s go through this.  We have andouille sausage; roast beef seasoned with cloves, cinnamon, and Tabasco; beans warmed with cayenne; a stock flavored with a poblano pepper, and a little extra spice provided courtesy of RoTel tomatoes.  I think we’ve got it!

Here’s my version of a cassoulet.

Cassoulet

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, sliced

2 links andouille sausage, cut into 1/2 inch rounds

2 roasted red peppers, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 pounds left over roast beef, cut into bite size pieces

1 pound small white beans, cooked

1 can RoTel tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon paprika

Salt & pepper to taste

1 cup stock

Preheat the oven to 350 and heat the olive oil in a heavy pan.

When the olive oil is hot, saute the onions.  As they begin to soften, add the sausage.

As the onions and sausage start to brown, add the roasted red peppers and minced garlic.  Cook for only a minute or two.

Toss in the roast beef, the beans and the RoTel tomatoes.

Add the basil and paprika.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Pour in the stock.  Mix again.

Cover and cook in the oven for about an hour.

Bon Temps!