Wednesday, December 26, 2012

WHAT are these?

I bought them last week at the market under the freeway in Stockton. The man said camotes. I recognized the word, said yeah yeah and forgot about them. But no, these are not Ipomoea batatas (sweet potatoes). Nor are they Jerusalem artichokes or crosnes. Nor oca. Though they are similar to all these. Finger sized. Starchy and sticky and very crunchy raw. Cooked reminiscent of a potato. I still have NO idea what they are. Any ideas?

Dioscorea opposita, aka Chinese yam. a cousin of the true yam. Grated raw is wicked slimy and would indeed make a good sex lubricant. Fried in oil it makes one of the best latkes I've ever eaten. See. It's the base for okonomiyaki! Thanks to my old pal Brian and his wife! You win a recipe for okonomiyaki. Grate these like for latkes, mix in shredded cabbage, scallions, ginger, crushed peanuts and salt. Then fry like a big pancake. If you're not vegan add egg and raw shrimp finely chopped.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Trial and Error (Stone Milled Red Barley Rolls)

People are often surprised when I tell them I mess up all the time. They ask, "Don't you test your recipes several times until they're just right?" No, I really don't. And even if something does turn out fantastic, I never write anything down and rarely remember exactly what I did. In fact I rarely do anything the same way twice. What would be the fun in that? Even if it's a routine dinner I try to do something slightly different. It's almost never inedible. But sometimes something goes seriously bad. What can you do? Say oops, try again.

Even more surprising is when something I fully expect to work doesn't or when something turns out really interesting that I am sure is bound to fail. Witness these bread rolls. They were made for a film demo this past week, from hand ground whole red barley, sourdough starter and a touch of salt. I just left them in a springform pan overnight and baked them the next day. They are dense, but have an unbelievable flavor, sour and sweet and crumbly rather than chewy. With butter they will be amazing. I think they got wind that I was about to chuck them in the trash. Look at the expression on their faces. Bizarre, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

Apparently my Three World Cuisines: Italian, Mexican, Chinese won a nice award. Here's a story in the Stockton Record.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fancy Footwork

This is a ZAMPONE. Not to be confused with ZAMBONI, though you could grease an ice rink with it. (Ok, I used that joke in the last cookbook, sorry.) But this is a different recipe. I wanted to see what would happen if left out all the skin inside and just used a good sausage stuffing. Lovely stiches arent they? My mutha would say you shoulda bina surgeon. Trust me, I had to use every blade in the house to bone and stich this. A carbon steel buffalo skinner to cut through the skin is essential and an exacto knife to poke holes through which you pass a trussing needle. It's definitely not sharp enough on its own. So this shapely gam will cure in the fridge for a week with salt, coriander, pepper, bay, etc. Then it will be gently poached for a few hours, then I think roasted so the skin gets crispy.There's a hefty layer of fat beneath. Betty Grable, eat your heart out.

And here it is after simmering for a few hours then popping in the oven to roast. It came out perfectly crunchy on the outside, sweet and fatty on the inside. You defintiely don't need to add more skin to the stuffing, as with a coteghino. Sliced nicely too. I brought it to a hoodie party last night and it was gobbled.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Chickpea Waffles

I have a beautiful waffle iron, beaten up and battered though it is. I often put perverse things in it. Try a grilled cheese, or a tuna melt sometime. Or croque monsieur. I don't know why it has never occured to me to put other kinds of grain in there, but I happened to have a cabinet of odd flours leftover from a crepe demo. I don't remember this vast range being available even a  few years ago, but the gluten-free craze has caught on. I used amaranth, millet, teff, chesnut. Some came out light and airy, others heavier and nutty. The nicest of all, I think, is chickpea flour. A really delightful crispy edge, akin to farinata. Simple to do, just a cup or so of flour, a little egg (one divided made 5 or 6 waffles) some sugar, baking powder, milk mixed into a thick batter. Butter the surface and pour in the batter. Good with maple syrup but doesn't really need it.