these are the posts tagged ‘cooking’:


making pho

inspired by lucky peach’s summer issue, i decided to try my hand at pho.

img_5529

the butcher already saves the marrow bones for me anyway, so it was a matter of procuring the spices and saving up the bones till i had enough for a big pot of the stuff.

img_5533

that, and patience. the process takes hours of slow simmering, bones in and out in a methodical dance, culminating in the layering of noodles, meat and herbs over the broth.

img_5542

so was it worth it?

pho

YES! goodness, that little bowl was amazing. i’m used to slow-cooking broth, but the spices, ginger and fish sauce really took it to a whole different level.

the dishes though…

img_5549_

adventures in fermentation

it all started with a podcast from the food program some months ago, in which they interviewed people who had read the art of fermentation and raved about how empowered they felt to give it a go, and how easy it was to ferment things… it was inspiring, so much so that i immediately dived into the book as well. after a few pages, i was already feeling the itch to roll up the sleeves and ferment something!

since we’re in germany, sauerkraut seemed like the obvious choice. i’ve sort of acquired a taste for it over the time we’ve been here, actually. i like to mix it with the salad for the hints of acidity that make it less boring, or just as a side for a dish of meat or the morning’s omelet.

before embarking on this endeavor, i researched fermentation vessels, and decided to go with my leftover fido jars from coconut oil. i never part with them when the coconut oil is over, just because they’re so handy, so i had plenty laying around. some people say fido jars weren’t really made for fermenting things and can explode (!) if they cannot release pressure, so just in case, i adjusted the tightness of the lid, making mine a little bit looser.

sauerkraut

making sauerkraut is messy but unbelievably easy! all you need to do is to cut cabbage very thinly, add salt, and press it with your hands until the water comes out. then, pack it in the jar really tightly and add a weight on top to keep it submerged to avoid spoilage (i used a second, smaller jar). close it, and wait patiently without opening for 3-4 weeks. voilá! things will foam and overflow in the first few days, but after that the bacteria will quietly do their thing.

sauerkraut1

my first batch was plain — just a test to see if i could do it. when i opened the jar three weeks later, i could hardly believe how good it looked for something that sat on the window sill untouched for weeks… not even a bit of mould or slime in sight! oh, and the sauerkraut was crunchy and delicious! :D i immediately dived into batch #2, this time with cabbage + beets…

sauerkraut2

also a resounding success! i don’t usually like beets by themselves all that much, but this was really nice, with just a hint of earthy flavor and lots of crunchiness. and that color… magical!

i think i might be addicted to the process — there’s so much room for experimentation and it’s just so satisfying! for sure i’ll never buy another pack of dodgy supermarket sauerkraut ever again :D

finnish kitchen cupboards

a drying rack over the sink, hidden from view in a cupboard… is a pretty genius idea, if you ask me!

wash the dishes and put them up there to dry – no need for the ugly rack that seems to take up half of the counter space! in my informal survey of finnish kitchens (a grand total of 3), all of them had this neat little feature. i heard that they’re common in other countries as well, but so far, i’ve only seen them in finland.

our hosts used it mostly as a storage place though, since they had a dish washer…

the portuguese of ironbound, nj

Recently, at the Newark home of António and Magda Araujo, Mr. Alexandre and his wife, Maria, cooked up a lamb feast. But instead of cooking it whole, they had Mr. Lopes butcher it to show off two Easter favorites — borrego assado (roasted legs of spring lamb) and guisado de borrego (lamb stew). The scene, as Mrs. Araujo described it, was typically Portuguese: “loud and fast.”

“Everything is better with olive oil!” Mrs. Alexandre shouted as she rubbed some into the lamb legs. Mr. Alexandre countered with voluminous and rapid-fire requests for bowls, pans and cutting boards. Their frantic pas de deux continued, and they dipped and spun to avoid elbows and sharp knives as they whirred garlicky pastes in the food processor, peeled potatoes and dressed the meat. In under 45 minutes, four pans along with a flan were ready for the stove. Ervilhas com ovos, a staple of peas and bacon topped with poached eggs, would be made right before dinner.

(…)

A short time later, half a roast suckling pig from Valença and both lamb dishes were nestled in the center of the table. Potatoes, rice, bread and the egg-topped peas filled the gaps. Around the table sat 10 hungry guests.

Dinner was suddenly interrupted by the bleating of Mr. Alexandre’s cellphone. A Portuguese woman was stranded on the highway and called for a tow. He stood up, popped another chunk of lamb into his mouth, and shrugged on his jacket.

“Got to take care of our own,” he said, heading for the door. “It’s how we survive.”

from a nyt article on the portuguese community in new jersey and their easter traditions.
the excerpt above actually happens everyday at my home, with my dad running out of the table to help some distressed driver on the highway :)