Friday, April 24, 2015

Baby Spice: Pain d’epices

Pain d’epices
(from Desserts by Michel Roux. 
Roux writes that the recipe is from Denis Ruffel of the Patisserie Millet in Paris.)

250 g / 9 oz honey
125 g/ 4.5 oz rye flour and 125 g/ 4.5 oz plain flour sifted together
20 g/ 3/4 oz baking powder
125 ml/ 4.5 oz milk
3 eggs
50 g/ 2 oz sugar
1 teaspoon or so warm spices of your choice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, aniseed)
a few drops of vanilla or anise extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Warm the honey in a saucepan over low heat until liquid. I use a mixture of rapeseed honey and wildflower honey. Let cool down to 77 degrees.

Put the flours and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the honey, milk, eggs, sugar and whisk until smooth and creamy. Add the spices and extract. (In Ruffel’s recipe, he adds 30 g/ 1 oz finely chopped candied lemon and orange peel at this point. I’ve never added it and don’t miss it).  Whisk everything together. It is a relatively loose batter, Roux refers to it as a “paste”.

If you make the mistake of tasting the unbaked batter now, you’ll have difficulty ever getting it into the oven...this batter tastes as good as it smells. So, get a grip, and pour the batter into a loaf pan that has been lined with greased parchment paper. Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. After the first 30 minutes, slide a second baking sheet under the first sheet and bake for another 30 minutes or until tester pulled out of the center comes out clean.

The additional baking pan thing might seem fussy, but it prevents the bottom of the cake from getting overdone while the dense middle cooks thoroughly. The resulting cake has a consistent crumb layer top, sides and bottom. Don’t skip this step or you will have a burned bottom (and I know from burned bottoms).

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, unmold and let cool on rack.

I love to have a toasted, buttered slice for breakfast. It is also a nice snack. The loaf keeps nicely when wrapped in plastic wrap or in an airtight container. It also freezes perfectly.

Pate de Foie: The apotheosis of meat loaf

We discovered Wilson Farms Meats on a country drive many years ago. They are located on Route 28 in Catlett, Virginia. They only take cash, no credit cards or checks. You can call ahead and get them to put your order together (540)788-4615, but we never do that. We just show up and ask Maya what's good. She always answers, "EVERYTHING". And she's right. Everything they have is wonderful. 

It is our source for Amish butter in 2-pound rolls. They have perfect steaks of any cut, fantastic cold cuts and cheeses...favorites are German bologna, blue cheese, smoked swiss cheese and double-smoked ham.Their bulk sausage (5 lb minimum) is versatile and handy to have in the freezer. They have great specialty sausages. I am particular to the spicy Cajun and my husband loves the Hungarian. We discovered Maya's paprika bacon just last fall. I now have a Wilson Farms version of my favorite pate recipe. Some French guy said it was the best pate I had ever made and I've made lots of pate in the last 15 plus years.  

Over the years, I have adapted a recipe from a favorite Time/Life Book from The Good Cook series called Terrines, Pates and Galantines. I love these books as they are thorough in ways you can't begin to imagine. The intriguing Contents page lists entries such as "Two strategies for handling brains" and "A leaf-encased surprise." The original recipe is (quite boringly) called Liver Terrine and appears on page 97. Here is my Wilson Farms version.

Process about one pound of chicken livers and 4 thick slices of Wilson Farms paprika bacon until liquefied.( I have also put the livers and pork through a meat grinder attachment on my KitchenAid mixer, it just depends on how much you want to clean up.)
Mix in bowl with:
one pound of Wilson Farms bulk sausage
1 minced shallot
3 or 4 minced large caper berries
2 teaspoons of ground pepper
2 ¼ teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of quatre epices (you can substitute ¾ t ground ginger and ¼ t cinnamon)
3 Tablespoons of cream sherry or madeira or poison of your choice

Line 2 small terrines with strips of Wilson Farms paprika bacon and fill with pate mixture. If you use a ladle, it makes it less messy. Once filled, you can wrap the bacon up over the liver mixture or trim it and top to fit the terrine.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for an hour and a half. Check at the one hour mark and every 10 minutes thereafter to make sure that they don’t overcook.

Remove terrines from the oven, cover with layer of foil and let cool while compressing the terrines. I use canned goods to weigh things down.

Turn out onto a serving plate (or back into the terrine itself, which is what I do for easy serving). Eat with bread or crackers and pickled cornichons. Little squares of terrine make a decadent topping for deviled eggs, too.

You can make this entire recipe with regular grocery store bacon and sausage and avoid a trip to Wilson Meats, but what fun would that be?

Monday, April 20, 2015

The only wing recipe you will ever need: Seriously. Make. These. Now.

From the oven

Smokified: Finger lickin'!

Chili Chicken Wings
(from Kevin Dundon who is not Asian but sure knows how to Asian it up)

Pound together in a mortar and pestle:
a few cloves of garlic
a 1” knob of ginger
1 or 2 whole hot chilis (hey, Peter! can even use pickled peppers in a pinch,
just make sure they’re spicy, I’ve used pickled hot cherry peppers)
a sprinkling of kosher salt to make things stay inside while you begin pounding away

Once this is a nice paste that smells just this side of delicious, think of someone who got on your wrong side and pound the frick out of it some more.

Once you’ve worked out your aggressions, squeeze in the juice of one lime and scrape everything from the mortar (or is it the pestle? Who cares when you are making tasty!?) out into a large bowl. Zest, then add the zest and the lime halves to this bowl, too.
Then throw in:
red chili flakes
a glug and a half of soy sauce
a couple glugs of olive oil
drip in a mess of honey to make it all thick and syrupy. Once it is nice and messy, ADD MORE HONEY, because it is the magic of this whole recipe and helps to temper the heat.
Toss in chicken wings (about a pound or so) and stir to coat well. I like wings that have been cut up at the joint so you have a mini-drumstick and that part with two little bones. (The wing tip is for soup and should be left out of this recipe as it is not the proper vehicle for delivery of this coating.)

Marinate for a few hours in the fridge. Two should suffice and more is fine.

Spread in one layer on baking sheet. Dump the lime halves in, too. If you have too many wings for one layer, hold the rest back… fill another sheet or they also freeze well.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25 or so minutes until brown, caramelized and burny in spots. You will be fighting for these burny parts, so the more, the better.

If you really like to feed your family well and have some extra time, you can smoke these in a smoker at 225 degrees with an ounce of hickory for about an hour and a half. 

Mr. Dundon serves this with a Marie-Rose sauce that involves mayonnaise, ketchup, brandy, tomato puree, Worcestershire and Tabasco. It is a nice accompaniment and cools things down a bit but no one will complain if you forget to make it.

As I am Asian, I eat these wings with rice. I have been told that a meal doesn’t have to involve rice to be a meal. What!?! Don’t believe them.