Sunday, September 26, 2010

Food Trends Summer 2010: Spicy Summer Cocktails

So according to Susan Russo at foodblogga, the new "in" drinks are spicy rather than sweet and syrupy. It's high time! I've never been the biggest bloody mary fan since I'd rather eat spicy tomatoes than drink them, but contrary to layman's logic, spicy food cools you down. So give this one a try the next unbearably hot day, which will hopefully begin to fade more and more.

Ginger Lemonade with Basil

1 large regular cucumber, peeled
2 cups ice
1-2 cups carbonated water
1/2 heaping cup of sugar
juice of 2 lemons
1 tbsp grated ginger, more or less depending on level of spice desired
6 shots Russki Standart vodka (use nothing less!:)
3-4 sprigs fresh basil

Blend together everything but the basil until smooth, if it's too thick you can always add more mineral water. Serve with sprigs of basil as garnishes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Russki Style Potato Salad

This recipe is so freaking easy. It's also very flavorful and generally well received, somewhat to my surprise as I tend to use vinegar more than the average bear. Anywho, here ya go.

You will need:

about 1 lb Russian Fingerling potatoes, cooked until tender
1 white onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup fresh dill, de-stemmed but you don't have to chop it if you don't want to
3 tbsp herbed vinegar (look in the kosher section of the grocery store, it's in a green bottle)
2/3 cup sour cream
salt to taste, about 1 1/2 tsp

Chop the potatoes into bite sized pieces. Mix the ingredients together and chill for about half an hour. Voila, done!

Butternut Squash Cyr Stew with Potatisklimp

How's that for a recipe title?! Don't be frightened, this Swedish-Russian fusion dish is worth the pronunciation and more. Potatisklimp are Swedish potato dumplings and operate quite a bit like matzo balls. Cyr is the Russian word for cheese, and here's why I chose it.

If you're lucky enough to live somewhere where they carry Northern European cheeses, look for LeipƤjuusto. Also known as bread cheese here in the US, this does not melt the way most regular cheeses do. It's also got grill marks which impart a nice texture and flavor that I found went well with the butternut squash soup. I was first introduced to this cheese when I was in Russia, although there let's just say it wasn't made from cow's milk. Anywho, in this recipe you could also use a good Halloumi, but you'd want to add it when the soup was slightly cooler.

Here's what you need:

2 medium butternut squash, sliced in half and de-seeded
3 quarts chicken broth
1 white onion, sliced
4 medium carrots, diced
4 tbsp butter
salt to taste

1/4 cup butter, melted
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs or matzo meal
1/2 cup peeled and mashed Russian Fingerling potatoes
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
2 egg whites
1 lb LeipƤjuusto or bread cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the squash cut side down on a baking pan or cookie sheet and bake for an hour. Remove and allow to cool.

Heat the butter in a large stock pot over medium until melted and add the onions and carrots. Cook until the onions begin to brown and add a few cups of broth. Add a cup or two of squash then more broth and mix, continue to do this until all the squash and broth is mixed uniformly in the pot. Add the salt and bring to a strong simmer.

Mix the egg yolks and butter; add the mashed potatoes and stir well. Add the spices and bread crumbs and mix until uniform, you definitely don't want any lumps. Whip the egg whites into stiff peaks and fold into the potato/egg mixture until even, but strive to not kill the fluffiness of the egg whites.

Take teaspoons of the potato mixture and roll gently into balls with your hands and drop into the simmering soup. Do so repeatedly until you're out of potato dumpling mixture and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes uncovered. Cover and cook another 10. Remove from the heat and add the bread cheese, stirring gently as to not break up the dumplings. This soup is most definitely enjoyed hot and fresh.

La Fin Du Monde Roasted Chicken with Fig Chutney

This was a recipe made under duress. As Till Lindemann would say, you can't have art without pain but art exists for compensating pain. The name of the beer was merely ironic, although the taste it imparted was far from ironic.

You will need:

1 3.5 lb chicken
16 oz can whole coconut milk (please, please don't use the stuff in the soy milk sector)
1 bottle La Fin Du Monde beer
1 tbsp kosher salt

1 lb fresh figs, chopped into quarters
1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/3 cup sugar

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and set the chicken spine up in a roasting pan. Sprinkle the salt over it and pour the beer over the chicken, then pour the coconut milk. Bake for about 80-90 minutes, basting about every 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside 2 cups of the drippings.

In a saucepan, heat the figs and tamari sauce together. Add the spices and cook until the figs start to become soft from the heat; add the sugar and gradually add the drippings. Stir and keep adding and reducing the broth. Keep cooking and stirring until it begins to thicken and the sugar begins to form bubbles in the sauce. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Divide the chicken into whatever portions you desire and serve the chutney on the side -- it is a bit spicy, so some may want more or less of it than others.

Heirloom Squash Risotto

Sorry about the lateness of this seasonal recipe, but summer squash is still coming in so it's versatile enough to make while the zucchini is cheap. I made this with a friend of mine using a few different varieties of squash, namely some heirloom patty pan varieties and good old zucchini. This is also a very easy recipe to keep vegan, just disregard the feta.

We used three heirlooms and a zucchini cubed into bite sized pieces, so the measurement on the squash is estimated. This isn't baking so it doesn't have to be exact. I estimate we had about four cups cubed, but it was also a large batch.

You will need:

4 cups cubed various squash
1 bowl cold salted water
3 quarts mock chicken broth (obviously you can use regular chicken broth, but this is what we used to keep it veg)
1/2 lb arborio rice
4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1 tsp red chili flakes
1/3 cup chopped red basil
1 tsp lemon juice OR 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
salt to taste
1/2 to 1 lb sheep's feta (optional)

Begin by slicing the squash into bite sized cubes. Be careful and use a sharp knife, especially when working with larger squash. Put the cubes in the salt water and begin heating the stock in a large pot over medium-low.

Preheat another large pot to medium, ideally with the stock on the back burner and the new pot on the front to prevent mess. Throw in the olive oil and onions and stir frequently until they become translucent and floppy, for lack of a better word. Add the rice and continue to stir until the rice just barely begins to brown, then step back and add the wine. Often there will be a loud hiss or spatter when the wine hits the pot so you don't want to be facing down into it while you do this.

Stir quickly and as soon as most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, add about half a cup of broth and stir. Some people believe constant stirring is absolutely crucial, but I have not found that to be the case. However, you definitely want to give it a good stir every 30 to 60 seconds. Continue adding broth, stirring until thick and adding more until you're about halfway through the broth. Drain the squash and add to the risotto along with another half cup of broth and the red chili flakes. Now for this part you want to stir continuously. Continue adding broth slowly...surely the idea is beginning to sink in now.

When you're about three cups of broth from the finish line throw in the basil and lemon. Finish it off, and the only way to do this is by taste. Take a fork and lift a few grains -- they should be al dente. If it's crunchy, heat up more broth and keep adding gradually until it hits the point of al dente (you can also use salted water if you're out). If it's overcooked it's not the end of the world, but you want to strive for that point of firmness with the grain of the arborio.

Turn off the heat and cover the pot, allow to set for about five to ten minutes. Serve with crumbled sheep's feta on top. This recipe serves about 8 people.