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Hermann, Missouri Cookin of September 7-9, 2001

Ariane and Erik

Ariane's Report

Ariane and Erik

Well, I don't know if it was harmonious, but it was FUN. Erik and I drove 8 hours from Ohio to Hermann, MO, braving traffic, insane drivers and the spider-web of highways that is St. Louis, and IT WAS ALL WORTH IT.

Let me tell you that Hag's family is crazy, but in a nice and thoroughly entertaining way. We got over the first-meeting jitters Friday night over a delicious dinner at Europa (duck: great, atmosphere: sort of grim, as expected of a former funeral home) and Saturday morning, it was like we were part of the family. Erik and I were impressed at the basement set-up Hag's dad has... huge kitchen, tons of counter space, a massive fridge and a chest freezer. He also has a labyrinth of tool boxes and a backyard with half a dozen or so grills. ;)

Saturday, we took tours of local wineries, our favorite being Adam Puchta and Sons. It's a small place, but friendly and the people aren't too busy to stop and talk about wine, food and local events with you. Stone Hill winery was larger and more commercial with a wonderful hilltop view. Hermannhoff was sort of in between, and had a nice selection of sausages and cheese you could buy to snack on. Hermann itself is a great walking town... Erik and I walked from our B&B just a couple blocks to reach antique stores and the Missouri River. I did buy one ceramic pot made by a local craftsman, by coincidence, a guy who also worked as a waiter at Europa.

The gang at Adam Puchta and Sons

From left: Ariane, Hag, Boli, and Tim.

Oh, and did I mention we ate some food that weekend? I'm sitting here with the pictures in front of me and I still can't believe it. Hag made a melt-in-your-mouth cheese pie with toffee crust, and these wonderfully crispy lumpias... There were chicken wings galore, fresh fruit, vegetables and wine from that day's shopping expeditions. Sunday brunch was Boli's Smithfield Ham and lots of it, plus his son Timothy's delicious cheese biscuits. BTW, Tim is single, cute, and can cook, although Silvia's daughters have first dibs on him. ;) We munched on ham, biscuits, some wonderful homemade jellies made by a friend of Boli's, plus sliced peaches, cantaloupe and plums.

Sunday dinner was even more gut-busting than Saturday's feast, and I think Hag listed everything we had... Her dad's ribs were wonderfully tender, smoky and flavorful, and everyone got to sample several kinds of homemade sausage (plus Mike was generous enough to let us raid his chest freezer to take some home!). Hag had shrimp in an intense ginger dipping sauce, more fried spring rolls, and spicy shrimp poppers with jalapeno and bacon. Erik, who doesn't ordinarily do most of the cooking, even rose to the occasion with a spicy pork vindaloo... I had one vegetable shish kabob and wished I had room for more, and they were even great as leftovers.

Oh yeah, and I finally ate a raw oyster. Aphrodisiac, my ass. How could someone feel like getting it on after chewing on a cold wad of slime? ;)

Oysters!Oysters!

Ariane and Boli eating oysters

And dessert! Carol's homemade ice cream! I don't even like nuts and coconut, but I loved that buttery, crunchy topping and was sorry I couldn't eat more than one helping. Tim and Boli's contribution were small ganache-filled pastry cups that Tim swore were no good... even as he quietly inhaled half a tray-full of them.

We did find lots of time to talk, share stories, laugh and almost constantly make fun of each other between bites, although admittedly there were a few moments of no conversation while everyone chewed and made the appropriate appreciative grunting noises. This was no formal sit-down dinner, but a casual, you-gonna-eat-that, open-belching, boardinghouse reach kind of meal. Sound disgusting? Maybe, but it was more fun than I've had in years, and these people don't stand on formality when you're all part of the family. It's hard to get across what a hilarious time we had, and all the outrageous anecdotes we heard. Let's just say some of our attendees are probably right to disguise their real identities and leave it at that. >;)

Erik might've been a little apprehensive at driving cross-country to meet people he barely knew, but he had such fun with you guys... Hag, anytime you or your parents are in Dayton, OH, send an e-mail and drop by. (Oh, Boli and Tim can drop by too, but only if they bring food and promise not to tell us where they're going when they get up to "make room." And no oysters pal, don't push your luck.) In closing, let there be more cook-ins! Damsel, Crash, Chris and Gar, (and everyone else who was hoping to attend) we missed you guys so much! The next cook-in can only be better. HUGE thanks to Hag and her wonderful parents for taking us in, showing us around, and letting us invade their kitchen. Thanks to Alan, Hag's son for being patient with a bunch of strangers, and to baby Weston, for only spitting up on me once.

Garlic Anise Chicken Wings

Anise Chicken Wings

2-3 lbs. chicken wings
3/8 cup sherry or rice wine
3/8 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sugar
2-3 slices ginger, crushed lightly
5-6 cloves garlic or more, crushed
1 whole star anise, or more to taste
2 dried red chili peppers
1/2 cup chicken broth or water

Bring everything but chicken wings to a boil in a heavy pot large enough to hold all the wings. Add chicken, reduce heat to low and simmer until done, turning occasionally so that the stewing liquid gets to all the wings. Cooking time varies, I estimated about 15 minutes or so. Transfer wings and liquid to a casserole dish and let cool in fridge until sauce gels, as it is, IMO, best when eaten cold! I also do this with bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks, and then cooking time is more like 24-35 minutes. Great, albeit messy finger food. Yeah, yeah, you can brown the chicken first in hot oil, but I was in a hurry and nobody seemed to mind.

"These are adapted from a recipe I got off Usenet... perhaps this newsgroup? Unfortunately, I lost the attribution somewhere along the line, so if you recognize it, thank you and please let me know! The original poster called it 'Cold Stewed Chicken.'" Ariane

Jewish Apple Cake

Jewish apple cake

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup orange juice
4 eggs
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
5-6 apples, peeled and sliced thinly
2 tsp. cinnamon
5 tsp. sugar

In a large bowl, toss sliced apples, 2 tsp. cinnamon and 5 tsp. sugar and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine all remaining ingredients to form a thick batter. Take a 9x13" baking pan and spread half the batter on the bottom. Layer half the apple mixture on top. Cover with remaining half of the batter and arrange remaining half of apple mixture on top. Bake at 350°F. for about 30 minutes or until done.

Notes: Original recipe called for a bundt pan or tube pan, with a baking time of 1 1/4-1 1/2 hours and suggests serving it with whipped cream or ice cream. I used Granny Smith apples in mine.

"This was a recipe I found via the wonderful World Wide Recipe mailing list (www.wwrecipes.com), sent in by a man named Richard from Arizona. It's become one of our favorites. Erik particularly likes it for breakfast, and made with that China Cassia cinnamon from Penzey's, it really makes the whole house smell great. I did change the pan I put it in, everything else remains the same." Ariane

Pork Vindaloo

From "Classic Indian Cooking" by Julie Sahni.

6 pork chops (about 1 1/2 lbs)

For marinade:
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 medium-sized onion, peeled and quartered
4 medium cloves garlic
1 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger root
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp light vegetable oil
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground clove

For cooking:
1-inch ball of tamarind pulp
1/2 cup mustard oil or substitute light vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp red pepper
1 1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsp kosher salt

  1. De-bone pork chops, cut meat into 3/4 inch cubes
  2. Heat small frying pan over medium heat, and add cumin and mustard seeds. Roast seeds, stirring constantly, until cumin seeds turn dark and mustard seeds gray (about 3 minutes) Transfer to small bowl and let cool briefly, then grind into fine powder.
  3. Put onion, garlic, ginger, vinegar and oil into container of electric blender, and puree.
  4. Place pork along with bones, in a nonmetallic bowl. Add ground cumin and mustard seeds, pureed mixture, cinnamon and clove. Mix thoroughly to distribute paste over meat, and marinate for 8 hours or refrigerate for 48 hours.
  5. Put tamarind pulp into a bowl, add 1 1/4 cups boiling water, and let soak for 15 minutes. mash pulp with spoon, strain liquid, squeezing pulp as much as possible, into another bowl and set aside. Discard stringy fiber (See notes for alternative).
  6. When ready to cook meat, heat mustard oil over high heat in large enamel-coated pan. When oil begins to smoke, turn off heat and let cool completely (skip this step if using vegetable oil).
  7. heat oil again over medium high heat, and add onions. Fry until caramel brown (about 12 minutes) stirring to prevent burning. Reduce heat to medium, add turmeric, red pepper and paprika. When spices begin to sizzle and turn dark (about 15 seconds) add meat and bones, and fry until meat pieces are slightly seared and oil begins to separate from gravy. (About ten minutes) Add tamarind juice, salt, and any remaining marinade, and bring to boil. Lower heat and cook partially covered, until meat is done (about 30 minutes). pick out bones and discard. Serves 4.

Notes:

I typically refrigerate the marinade over night and let it sit out on the counter for a bit before I cook it.

It's much easier to find tamarind paste than tamarind pulp. Tamarind paste is also much easier to use. For the cook-in, I simply mixed a tablespoon of tamarind paste and enough hot water to make 1 1/4 cups of liquid.

(I was only able to find the paste when I first tried it. I've since seen the pulp, but haven't tried it yet. Maybe after I use up all the paste I bought...) When I made this for the cook-in, I didn't wait for the onions to get that dark. There was just a hint of golden brown as I added the red pepper, paprika, and turmeric. I don't think it makes much difference to the flavor, but the color was a bit lighter and when you cook the onions to a caramel brown they tend to break up until there aren't any recognizable pieces left.

I highly recommend using mustard oil instead of some other vegetable oil, and using bone-in meat. It's good with boneless meat too, but the bones add something to the flavor and make it even better.

"This was DH's contribution, and he was delighted that it was received so well. Erik doesn't cook that often, but we usually collaborate on difficult recipes. This isn't too hard compared to other recipes in Sahni's cookbook, but it does have a long preparation time because it needs to marinate overnight. This dish keeps fairly well for several days, and in fact, we think it tastes even better the day after making it.

He did make some changes, and his notes are at the end. He's so damn cute when he gets serious about cooking... ;)" Ariane

"The Pork Vindaloo was WONDERFUL!!!!!! It had a wonderful tang and lovely heat... I could clearly pick out some of the spices, and others just tantalized me until Erik told us what went into the making... Ari and Erik kindly left us some which was promptly divied into smaller portions, we couldn't resist eating some before we put the rest into the freezer so that we would have a comparison for when we attempt this ourselves, 'Look Erik - No hands!' ...The offer was made to acquire some mustard oil for us and also Tamarind paste... WHAT you all didn't realize is that you'll have to send me some to after I get to Okinawa (although maybe I'll be able to get them more easily there?)" Hag

"You guys lucked out, this was his best batch ever, the Vindaloo Master said so. ;) We'd made it several times before, but this was the first time we let the bones stew with the meat... I don't think it's just our imagination, the flavor was even better than before, and I'd thought it was pretty good before!" Ariane

"Erik realized he made an omission when typing up the recipe... nothing serious, though. He made it with 2 1/2 lbs. pork chops rather than the 1 1/2 lbs. listed in the recipe, and scaled up other ingredients accordingly. :)" Ariane

Sesame Noodles

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2-3 scallions, chopped
approx. one bunch of dried Chinese noodles roughly 1 1/2 inches in diameter (I use the #4 noodles from the Wah King Noodle Co., it comes in a big red box, I believe they're wheat-based as opposed to rice or egg noodles. If you can't get them, try substituting vermicelli)
1-2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2-3 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 1/2 tsp. sesame oil

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles until soft, but firm to the bite.

In a large skillet, heat oil and saute scallions until soft. Add cooked noodles, soy sauce sauce, oyster sauce and toss to coat. Add sesame oil and adjust seasoning to taste.

"This is just something my mom often makes as a side dish for family dinners, cook-outs and carry-in dinners. It's very easy, quick, and is also good cold or hot. I apologize for the rough guess-amounts, I don't really measure for this recipe since my mom never did..." Ariane

"This was just so GOOD! I snacked on the leftovers the next day for lunch, and then the day after I had to try and make it myself... added the leftover shrimp poppers... Good but not as good as yours..." Hag

Marble Tea Eggs

Barbara Tropp's Classic Chinese Cooking

6 medium or 8 large eggs
1 tsp. kosher salt

steeping mixture:
1 Tbsp. thin soy sauce
1 Tbsp. thick (black) soy sauce
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 whole star anise, broken up into individual points
2 Tbsp. black tea leaves, plus 1 2-inch length cinnamon stick, crumbled, plus 1 thumb-sized piece dried orange peel
OR
2 Tbsp. cinnamon or orange-spiced black tea leaves
OR
4 tsp. Constant Comment tea leaves

Begin 12 hours or 1 1/2 days in advance of serving. Put eggs and salt in large heavy saucepan. Cover with a generous amount of water and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce heat to a steady simmer, then cook uncovered 20 minutes. Drain, then rush eggs under cold water and let them sit in a cool water bath until cooled.

Using the back of a heavy spoon, tap a fine network of cracks into the surface of the egg, cradling egg gently in your palm and turning as you tap. Don't tap too hard, you don't want the shell to come off later. You want just enough cracks to allow some steeping liquid in, but not enough to totally stain the egg. This will probably take some practice.

Return eggs to pot, add steeping ingredients and 3 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, stir liquid to distribute tea leaves and other spices, then reduce heat to a weak simmer. Cover pot tightly and simmer 3 hours. Check periodically and add more water if needed--but too much, or you'll dilute the liquid. Turn eggs or swirl pot to make sure the liquid reaches all the eggs.

After 3 hours, turn off heat. Let steep at room temperature, covered, for at least 8 hours or up until 1 1/2 days. The longer they sit, the richer the flavor and the darker the color. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Just before serving, peel off shell. Hopefully, if you've done the cracking right, there should be a lovely light brown spidery design on the egg, like old marble. I usually plan on making several more eggs than I need, because I inevitably end up with a few duds that got cracked too hard, etc. Plus, you have to do some quality control, don't you? ;)

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