Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Solstice Dinner

Unfermented mead, aka must
Glazed sweet potatoes (with ginger, cinnamon, allspice, brown sugar, and orange juice and zest)
Hard boiled eggs
Crackers with apple butter and cream cheese
Possibly some oat biscuits
Maybe pizzelles for dessert

Monday, December 19, 2005

Oven Kebabs!


1.5 cups red wine
2T port
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T salt
1 T honey
2 bay leaves
Juniper berries, grains of paradise, mustard seed, powdered ginger (to taste)

2 T olive oil

Put everything but the olive oil in a saucepan and simmer for about 5 minutes. Cool completely, add the oil, and pour over about a pound of meat (I used steak, I think lamb would be great too) that's been cut into strips or chunks. Add half of an onion, chopped into large pieces. Marinate overnight (I marinate in ziplock bags with all of the air pressed out).

The next day, soak bamboo skewers in water for 15 minutes, then load with meat and onions. Turn on your broiler, with an oven rack about 7-8 inches below it (depends on how tall your pan is). Arrange kebabs on a rack in a roasting pan (or if you lack that, I arranged my kebabs points down in a circular casserole dish, so that they weren't resting flat on the bottom). Cook for about five minutes on a side (take the whole pan out and flip them, I wish I had tongs for this part), or more or less depending on how thinly your meat is sliced, how hot your broiler is, and how done you want them.

Serve over couscous.

I reserved the marinade and leftover onions (actually I used carrots too, not realizing what a dismal failure they'd be), boiled for long enough to kill nasty bits, and am going to use it to punch up some pea soup.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Lamb Meatballs (made these a while ago, probably early October)

Meatballs that Will Make You Take the Lord's Name in Vain

~1/2 c SOFT bread crumbs (I used the remains of my spelt loaf)
1 cipollini onion
3 cloves of garlic
Big handful of fresh sage
Juniper berries (to taste)
Mustard seed (to taste)
1 egg
Olive oil
~1 lb ground lamb

Mince the onion, garlic, and sage, or throw them in a food processor, and grind the spices. Add to the bread crumbs. Toss in your lamb, your egg, a little olive oil, and enough port to moisten everything. Knead with your hands, then stir with a spoon until thoroughly mixed. Form into 1 - 1.5 inch balls. There are two ways to cook them: you can either fry them in a little oil on the stove, or cook them in the oven for about 25 minutes at 375°.

Serve with rice cooked with vegetables, and some fresh local grapes.

Okay, you know what? I need to have a dinner party.

*Diligent readers will notice that I put port in almost everything.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


I'm making candied orange peel as gifts for my relatives. The recipe I used is as follows:

5 oranges
Lots and lots of water

3 cups sugar
3 cups water
(Note: I'm pretty sure this was too much of each -- next time I'll only use two cups of each)

More sugar (probably about a cup)
Ground spices: cinnamon, ginger, clove

Scrub the oranges thoroughly. Cut into quarters, remove the flesh (and eat it, duh). Cut each section of peel in half, and remove as much of the pith (the white part) as you can. You can then cut each piece in half again -- you want to end up with long, thin strips. Put them in a large pot (with a lid) with enough water to cover them completely. Bring to boil, turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes (until they are tender). Let them sit until they have cooled, then put them in a large bowl (or just back in the pot), cover with cold water, and let stand overnight (uh, most people will tell you to refrigerate them, but that is totally for sissies). Next morning, drain the water and replace it with fresh. Drain/replace again at night. Drain/replace the next morning. You can repeat this for many days if you want (the Menagier says for 9 days!), but I usually give up at this point.

When you've drained the peels for the last time, put the sugar and water in the pot alone and bring to a boil. Add the peels, bring to a boil again, and then simmer. You will need to simmer them for a LONG time -- until basically all the water has evaporated. If you are some kind of "serious" cook you will use a candy thermometer, but if you are some kind of serious cook then why are you reading my blog? Anyway. Once the peels are ready, take them off the heat. While they have been cooking you should have gotten out a piece of wax paper (see? this is why you have to read all the way through before starting!) on which you spread out the sugar and spices. Now fish out the strips of orange peel a few at a time and drop them in the sugar/spice mix, coating them completely. Move them to a plate as you finish them, then do a few more. This will take a long time. When all of the pieces are coated, toss them all around together with the rest of the sugar/spice mix, just to make sure they're coated all the way. Transfer them to some kind of flat tray, or just spread them out on the wax paper, and let them dry overnight.

Box them up and give them to people.

If Amber weren't waiting for me to get off the internet I would post a long and rambling history of suckets/candied peels, but she is so I won't. They're old.

Friday, December 02, 2005

What I live off of

This is what I ate all last summer, and I've been eating it a lot lately, too.

1 cup rice (uncooked)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 or 2 carrots, chopped
2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
Some precooked chicken
2 cups chicken broth (I use home made)
Pinch of saffron (NOT OPTIONAL)

Put everything in a rice cooker and turn it on. If you don't have a rice cooker, put everything in a pot and bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Garnish with a boiled egg.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I'm a genius

Recall the rotisserie chicken from Costco. After buying it, I carved it up and stored the meat away safely, then used the carcass to make stock (with half an onion, half a leek, three garlic cloves, two small carrots, three bay leaves, some juniper berries, some mustard seeds, and 6 pints of water). And then, this is the genius part, I froze the stock in pre-measured 1 cup portions. I bought some of those disposable storage containers in "snack" size (9.5 ounces) to do this in. I don't know why it's taken me so long to do this, it makes so much sense. Now the stock will keep forever, and I don't even have to measure it when I want to use it.

As you can see, I'm pretty pleased with myself. I guess that this is the sort of thing that other people have figured out years ago, but, well, it's news to me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005




Molded Quince Paste

Molded Quince Paste
Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial.
I made a whole bunch of quince paste this autumn. This was molded in a copper mold. The picture doesn't do it justice, but you get the idea.

My Samhain Roast

Samhain Roast
Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial.
This is the roast I made for Samhain this year, before being cooked.

It's a pork tenderloin marinated in olive oil, port, and rosemary, wrapped in bacon, accented with carrots and apples, and garnished by a single Turkish bay leaf.

Photo of the Cookies

Originally uploaded by laurelfactorial.
Here are the cookies I made using the recipe just posted. I think they turned out quite lovely.

And they taste great too!

Yule Log Cookies

I just invented these.

First, rehydrate 1/4 cup each dried blueberries and cranberries in some rum or brandy.

Cream together 1 stick of butter and 3/4 cup sugar. Add cinnamon, allspice, and vanilla extract to taste, plus a pinch of salt. Beat in 1 egg. Mix in the dried fruit (drink the liquor), 1/4 cup nuts (pecans or walnuts), 1/4 cup crystalized ginger (bakers cut or chopped very small). Sift in 1 and 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 t baking powder.

Form the dough into a log, wrapped in wax paper, and refrigerate for a few hours. When you're ready, heat your oven to 350°F and grease a cookie sheet (or line with parchment). Slice the log into 1/2" slices, and place 2 inches apart on the sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

I think these would be nice at a solstice feast.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Something to try this summer

I was reading The Witches' Goddess by Janet and Stewart Farrar (again), and came across a recipe for Aphrodite cakes. They are very simple, and I cannot wait for peach season. All you need is some short crust pastry (pie dough), and some peaches, cut in half, stones removed. Put a circle (a little bigger than the diameter of your peach) of the pastry down on your baking sheet. Put one half of a peach on top of this (flat side down), the cover this with a dome of pastry. Seal the edges, and poke a hole in the top with a matchstick. Bake them until golden brown. "Juice rising from the fruit will create a little dark patch around the hole. ... The symbolism of these delicious cakes ... is as clear and unapologetic as Aphrodite herself. And why not?"

I think I'm going to modify these as follows: I'd peel the peaches first, add sugar to the pastry crust, sprinkle the base piece of pastry and the peach (after putting it down) with sugar and powdered ginger, and make the hole with a chopstick instead of a matchstick. Also, I would add that you should probably bake them at 350°F, and I would guess that they would take about 20 minutes.

You can also do them with nectarines.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Also, what I bought today

We had a trip to Costco today, where I bought: 1 Rotisserie chicken, 2 loaves of "artisan" bread, a box of clementines, and some apple cider. Looks like I am back into my old eating habits, basically eating what Amber calls "peasant food" and what I call "food that I don't have to cook to enjoy."

The other night, I came home and was trying to come up with something for dinner. I had, in my mind, "no food at all." I ended up making a simple (inauthentic) vegetable biryani:

~1 T butter
Whole coriander, cumin, and cardamom seeds
1/2 white onion
Garam masala (optional)
Curry powder (to taste)
2 small carrots
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup (uncooked) rice
handful of roasted pecan bits
Pinch of saffron (optional)

Melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Add the whole spices and cook until they start to pop. Add the onion, and the powdered spices. Cook until the onion is translucent, and add the remaining ingredients. Cook until the rice changes color a little. Add 1 cup of water. Bring everything to a boil, turn the heat down to low, put the lid on, and cook for about 20 minutes.

Our First Restaurant Review

Gustav's (near Washington Square)

The wait was a little long, but not overly so for a Saturday night. We started off with fondue and pretzels with mustard. I didn't like the fondue too much, actually, because it wasn't like the fondue I am used to (of course, it is probably more like fondue is supposed to be). The pretzels were average, but the mustards were quite a treat. I had a bit too much in one bite, and thought for a minute that I was maybe possibly going to die.

For dinner I had the Sausage Trio, accompanied by the Beer Sampler. Verily, I felt as though I was being feasted by my ancestors in the very halls of Valhalla*. The Beer Sampler featured five German beers in tiny steins!!!!! each of which was quite nice on its own and which together created a magnificent harmony. The Sausage Trio was well-balanced, and I was, at the end, unable to decide which of the three offerings (bratwurst, chicken weisswurst, and... oh crap, a smoked one, the name of which has escaped me) was my favorite. The accompaniments were perfect, as well -- grilled onions, saurkraut, braised red cabbage, and German potato salad. Simple, yet well done.

Overall 4 stars out of five. I would return.

*Or something more German. Whatever.


This is my new blog, dedicated entirely to posts about food. Here you will find: Recipes, what I am eating right now, restaurant reviews, and anything else I can think of that's related to food.

Because it's about time I just accepted the fact that I'm a foodie.