Archive for the ‘Ingredients’ Category

Cranberry quince relish

November 28, 2008
Cranberry quince relish

Cranberry quince relish

I admit it – I love (LOVE!) that jellied cranberry sauce in a can.  Love how it floops out of the can whole, with the ring marks on the side.  Love the texture – that weird smooth “apple-pulpiness”.  Having a spare can in the pantry soothes me.  Remember the cranberry crisis a few years back??  I got through it okay, due to my emergency can.

This year, I was smitten and overwhelmed by a 3-lb bag of whole fresh cranberries, which I bought and then stared at for two weeks.  I knew I’d be making cranberry sauce, but put it off until Thanksgiving day.  Which was a good thing!  Because if I’d known how good this stuff was going to be, I would have made and eaten 3 batches by the time turkey day rolled around.

Hat tip to AW for cluing me in on using port for the cooking liquid!


4 dry cups of raw fresh cranberries, washed and picked over

1 cup peeled, cored, and roughly diced quince

1.5 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup port

1/4 cup creme de cassis (adds a black currant note, but just use port if you don’t have any in the house)

1 generous grind of black pepper

1 chunk of ginger, peeled if fresh, as is if dried

opt:  3/4 cup chopped pecans


Slowly simmer the diced quince in 1 cup of water until tender (approx. 30 minutes).  The water will reduce to about 1/2 cup and the quince will turn a salmon pink.

Put the cranberries and sugar in a large stainless saucepan.  Pour in the port and cassis, then add the quince with its remaining cooking liquid.  Stir over medium heat for a few minutes to dissolve the sugar.  Add the grind of black pepper, then put the piece of ginger into the pot (you will need to be able to identify it and remove it later!).  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.  The pectin from the berries and quince will make this tend to boil up, so keep an eye on it and stir it down if necessary.  Remove the lid and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes more, until the berries have softened or popped and the mixture thickens.  Allow to cool, take out the chunk of ginger, then stir in the optional chopped pecans.  Serve warm or chilled.

Excellent with turkey, but also will be great with pork or sharp cheese or possibly lamb.  Pretty tasty by itself, with just you and a spoon.



October 20, 2008


Hard as a rock, covered in a strange waxy fuzz, smelling so strongly of roses infused with pears and apples, the quince is one of the last orchard fruits to ripen.  Uwajimaya, the huge asian grocery a few blocks from my flat, had several tossed in alongside the Bartletts and Boscs a few weeks ago, and I was reminded of the quince bush we found at the back of the property my dad bought after the divorce.  It was a short stunted shrub and bore a lone fruit, first green, then gradually turning yellow.  None of us thought to do anything with it.  I bought 3, determined to do something with them.


Where was I…?

October 5, 2008

Oh yeah, I’ve been gardening.

I highly recommend it if you have a yard or a P-patch or just an outdoor area with a few pots. There’s nothing like produce straight from the garden, it even beats produce from the farmer’s market.

I’ll be posting soon some of the recipes that I used to enjoy the bounty from the P-patch.


Chicken liver paté

June 7, 2008

Chicken liver pate

I recently got a copy of Elizabeth David’s Summer Cooking, and have read it cover to cover. Her style suits me, and her recipes suggest delights and enjoyment of simple fresh food beyond measure. Her recipes are also for the more advanced and adventurous cook, because they do assume a certain knowledge and because they are not precise. She expects a cook to be a person who loves food, who loves to taste and think about flavor and texture, a person who makes use of the senses with intelligence.

I went to the market yesterday for milk, butter, eggs, etc and stopped at the butcher who makes my favorite lamb/garlic/pine nut sausages. As he wrapped those up, I noticed a container labeled “young fresh chicken livers, $1.99/lb”. I’d been debating buying a chunk of paté from the cheese shop around the corner (they carry the standard Marcel & Henri brand), but thought well why not try making some?


Cold Eggplant Salad, Indonesian Riff

June 1, 2008

Cold eggplant salad

When I saw this recipe on Bitten, I knew I had to try it: I love eggplant, and now is the time for savory cold salads. But when I started making it up today, my eggplant all cubed and salted and draining, I realized I’d made all the soy sauce in the house up into kecap manis a few weeks before. Since Bittman’s recipe called for both soy and sugar, I substituted 2 tbsp of kecap manis for the soy, skipped the sugar and mixed in 2 tbsp of lemon juice for the dressing. Instead of just white sesame seeds, I used a mix of 2/3 white and 1/3 black dry toasted and because I really like the toasted sesame flavor, I added a few drops of toasted sesame oil to the dressing as well.

First taste says “Oh my YES, will make this again!”


Seafood Lust

May 27, 2008

I’ve got it bad. The urge was satisfied this past weekend with a trip to Stewart’s in Amagansett and a batch of bouillabaisse from Mark Bittman’s Fish. We followed the recipe fairly closely, with a few changes: Pastis instead of Pernod, no fennel seeds, and a healthy pinch of saffron added towards the end of cooking (for some reason, he omits the saffron – insanity). We also added a bit more seafood. In total, we used about a pound and a quarter each of monkfish and squid, plus a pound of mussels, 2 dozen littleneck clams, and a half pound of amazing sea scallops. Success! I’m looking forward to making this again.

Peas Aren’t Just About the Pods

May 5, 2008

I am so excited to be starting a garden at the p-patch across the street this year. Along with tomatoes and basil and leeks and fennel and rainbow chard, I’m going to try growing some peas. But instead of growing the peas for the pods, I’ll be growing them for their delicate shoots. Apparently these shoots have been used in Asia for centuries, but they are pretty new to me. The young leaves and vines can be lightly sautéed and have a lovely fresh pea flavor.

I don’t have a specific recipe but the general idea is that you use the young tender vines and leaves from a snap pea or snow pea variety. You can also add just the leaves from the hardier stems. They only need to be sautéed for 10-20 seconds or so. I think they would go well with any dish that has light, fresh flavors, such as fish, stir-fry, risotto (with lemon!) or a pasta dish.

My first encounter with pea shoots was at Crave. Chef Robin Leventhal uses the shoots in a dish of goat cheese gnocchi. It is my favorite dish at Crave and I highly recommend it if you have a chance to stop by for dinner.


Roast chicken, asparagus, and hollandaise

May 2, 2008

First, roast a chicken. You can do this several days in advance. Get a nice 5 pound or so bird, pasture-raised if possible. Rinse it inside and out and dry it thoroughly (paper towels or a hair dryer, or leave it uncovered overnight in the fridge. Set in a shallow roasting pan breast-side up (put it on a rack if you want, I don’t generally use one), and sprinkle generously with thyme and lightly with cayenne, black pepper, and salt. Let it sit while the oven heats up to 450 deg F.


A Not-Quite-Mistake

March 7, 2008

We’ve been on a veg cooking kick for a little while now (though Al is currently smoking a pork loin!), and a lot of our recipes have come from Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. Last night I made the black bean-spinach burgers and experienced my first culinary misfire in quite some time (not that I’m incredibly skilled – I’m just lazy and generally don’t aim beyond my comfort level). It wasn’t a disaster, but the end result was definitely not what it was supposed to be. (more…)

What, exactly, is that?

March 5, 2008

A few months ago, I read Twinkie, Deconstructed, in which the author investigates every ingredient listed on Hostess Twinkies, explaining what each does, where it comes from, and why it’s used. I found the story of baking soda very interesting, since I hadn’t known it was mined (I only knew about the original process of refining it from ashes), and the reliance of the US food chain on supplements and additives from China frightening, since the information came to me just a few weeks after the poisoned pet food fiasco (and the subsequent lead in toddler toys fiasco).

I was reminded of the book today when I came across this list of food additives on Cooking for Engineers.