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Archive for March, 2013

From Dish Amelia:
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I was casting about for what I would post this month for my SLD, and the topic ended up finding me in the most natural and planetary of ways. There were so many signs in fact, that I had to list the indicators just to look at because everything seemed so connected and clear. (Cycle, Spring, oval, egg, Easter eggs, Easter…)

I decided to try making the kolache. The kolache are a Czech pastry, but it is so much more. I know what these are because both of my parents are from Texas and we would visit sometimes when I was growing up. There is a solid old Czech community near my dad’s hometown, and he impressed on me the importance and specialness of getting the good kolaches in the tiny town of Snook when passing through. (Mom, Dad, kolaches, fruit, wildflowers, jewel tone colors…) It happened that my mom just went on a little road trip to see the wildflowers, and she sent a few pics. And, I just happened to work a catering job at Lincoln Center for the new play “Ann”, abut Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas. To add to the Texan reminders, large swaths of Brooklyn were just looking towards or went to Austin for the South by Southwest music festival. (Ann Richards gig, SXSW, Texas, New York, Brooklyn, Greenpoint, Poland, Eastern Europe, Czech Republic…)

I figured that the Tall Pole might have some awareness of this pastry, because many eastern European traditions carry a level of crossover, like poppy seeds. (Traditions, poppy seeds…) The Pole was not really sure, but was not opposed to my investigation, sweet-toothed as he is. I turned to the Eastern European Food section of About.com, an excellent resource, and found the related Polish kolaczki, which was interesting. But this was not the type I was going for, which led me to the obvious next stop: awesome food blog Homesick Texan written by Lisa Fain (who also has a great cookbook). Of course she did a post on kolaches. And weirdly enough she had posted in March of 2007, leading me to wonder about kolaches and springtime. (…food blogs, springtime, traditions, New York…) Her post is wonderful, and I can only add a slightly different angle, and also a bit more sugar, as the kolaches I remember are a bit sweeter than her recipe. I also left off the sprinkled topping. (Hers is adapted from Texas Monthly and the Houston Chronicle, mine is adapted from hers.)

1 packet active dry yeast

1 cup warm milk

1.2 cup sugar

3 cups AP flour

2 large eggs

3/4 cups melted butter

1 tsp salt

fillings at your discretion

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Photo from mom.

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Prepare your starter. Combine sugar, yeast, 1 cup of flour (whisk) and then milk

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Cover and let it double in size and get foamy.

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Mix together melted butter, salt and eggs

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The starter has become foamy! Mix the butter/egg mixture into this.

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Then mix in flour, a 1/2 cup at a time.

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Knead ten minutes. So fun. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise one hour.

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Look at that! I’m always impressed by yeast.

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Pull off pieces and roll into egg-sized balls…

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Flatten into disks and brush with melted butter. Cover and let rise another half hour.

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Prepare your fillings. I chose mine based on tradition and color variety. There are several Polish pastries I’ve seen in Greenpoint that utilize this chocolaty looking (not chocolate) paste. With some investigation and many questions directed at the Tall Pole (who probably never imagined he would field so many) I found that this ingredient in Polish is called masa makowa, or poppy seed butter, and usually contains almonds and sugar. One can make this easily, but to save time, and invest in some authenticity, I braved the crazy Easter line of the Polish deli to grab some. It’s quite good. I also got some crumbly farmer’s cheese

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The fillings: strawberry, sour cherry, orange ginger, farmer’s cheese (with maple syrup drizzle, my one liberty), and poppy seed paste. Obviously you could (should?) make these too, but for maximum variety I used high quality, few ingredient jams. In the future I think I would just make my favorite or be more experimental, but I wanted to tap into tradition, not expand on it just yet.

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Make a decent indentation with your fingers and spoon in the filling.

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Bake at 375 for 13 minutes. Brush them with melted butter (why not?) when they come out. Let them cool a bit and savor this new rite of spring.

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From Dish Rachelle:
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The Boy and I recently joined a CSF (Community Supported Fishery), on the recommendation of former Dish Jess who, with her husband, runs Fair Share CSF in San Francisco.  I’m bummed we can’t support her business but we’ve fallen in love with the Village Fishmonger! Once a week we get a small bundle of fish, anything from Yellowfin tuna, to monkfish, to trout, to clams.  As adventurous eaters and pretty capable cooks, we love the challenge of working with a surprise ingredient every Monday.  It’s like our very own episode of Chopped.

I like ceviche but this is my first time making it at home, in part because I’ve never before had access to a seafood source that I trusted enough to go raw.  But week-after-week of beautiful fish convinced us to take the leap – and I’m still very much alive to tell the tale.

This simple recipe is pretty free form, and you can substitute any of the ingredients for others, if you prefer – lemons for lime, cilantro for parsley, etc.  However, if you’re going to use another fish, do a little research.  Fluke can (and should) be tossed in the marinade and then served almost immediately; if you let it soak in acids too long, it will get tough.  However, if you use raw shrimp, for instance, you’ll need to let it sit overnight before serving to get the texture right.

Ingredients

Serves 2-4

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2 medium fluke filets, sushi grade

½ ripe avocado, diced

Juice of 2 limes

Juice of 2 blood oranges

Salt

Oregano

Fresh jalapeno slices

Chopped scallion

Sliced radish

Chopped parsley

Olive oil

Sea salt

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Make your marinade.  In a large bowl, combine juices, salt, a pinch or two of oregano, some jalapeno slices (to taste), some scallion – and anything else your heart desires.  Taste it to make sure the salt levels are right and it’s something you want to eat.

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Let stand for about 15 minutes so that flavors combine.

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Just before you’re ready to serve, slice your fluke into bite-sized pieces.  If there’s a little lag time between slicing and serving, put it back in the fridge – you want the fish as cold as possible.

When you’re ready to eat, toss the fish and avocado in the marinade, stirring to combine.  Let stand for 3-4 minutes so the flavors soak in, then plate, garnishing with scallion, radish, parsley, a sprinkle of olive oil and some sea salt.

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From Dish Danielle:

Pinch a Pisces!
…Or maybe make them some ice cream instead?

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March marks my birthday month and to celebrate like any sweet-toothed Pisces should, I gathered my nearest & dearest round for some cones & cocktails.  I’d tried my hand at this recipe the weekend prior, but on my 31st, I wondered if the wisdom of this new prime number might perhaps enable me to make a more sophisticated batch…?

I was absolutely spot on, and my second try absolutely bested my first.

Did you know Pisces are apparently very intuitive?

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Ingredients:

2c whole milk

2c heavy cream

6 blood oranges: 4tbs zest & 1c juice

6 large egg yolks

¾ c sugar

zest infusing 2

In a small pot, place milk & cream over low heat.  Add 3tbs zest, whisking to incorporate. Allow liquid to come to temp slowly, letting the zest impart its delicious flavor.

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Put yolks in a small bowl next to the pot on the stove. When milk/cream is hot enough, (just before boiling), add juice & sugar to yolks.

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Whisk vigorously to incorporate. Use a spouted receptacle and scoop up approx. 1c of hot liquid. Pour liquid in a slow and steady stream into the yolk mixture while SIMULTANEOUSLY whisking like hell. Once the yolks have been tempered, (that’s what that last move is called), dump that mixture back into the pot. Using a wooden spoon, stir slowly while custard continues to cook over low heat. Prepare an ice bath with a glass or metal bowl nested on top. The custard will eventually begin to thicken considerably, which means the yolks have been cooked properly (don’t raise the heat much—that could result in an overly eggy-flavored ice cream. Patience is a virtue that this Piscean dish barely has. If I can wait it out, you can too!).

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Once the custard has thickened, immediately pour it through a fine strainer and into the bowl in the ice bath. This will strain out the zest—we’ll add a bit of fresh stuff later. Stir gently to cool. Once the custard has come down in temp, place it in the fridge for a good 5-6 hours, or overnight.

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Once you’re ready to churn, get your ice cream making apparatus ready. Before pouring the custard in, buzz the liquid with an immersion blender if you have one, (if not, pour it into a well sealed container and shake it like mad). After 20-25 mins of churning, your ice cream should be close to ready. At this point, with the machine still running, sprinkle in the remaining 1tbsp of fresh zest for a pop of color and an added zip of flavor. Store in a freezer friendly container once it’s finished. I usually allow the ice cream to sit in the freezer for another few hours before serving.

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Scoop into sugar cones and dole out to your guests during your next social gathering!

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