Monday, September 15, 2008

Glazed Vegetables

The decision to make this dish was based entirely on the plethora of root vegetables that we've been receiving from our CSA. We're getting nearly ten pounds a week, and eating it all is more than challenging. We've had root vegetables in just about every possible way you can imagine. First it was beets, then potatoes, turnips and carrots.

The glazed vegetable section is a little unique to the book. There is a recipe for just 'Glazed Vegetables' which can be used for any type of vegetable you would ever want to glaze. Following that, there are individual recipes for single vegetables that cater a little more to that particular vegetable by adjusting herbs and spices and that kind of thing.

I chose the generic recipe because of my selection of vegetables. You can see below that I had orange and red carrots, turnips, and pearl onions. How disappointing is it that red carrots are orange under the skin and not red like we're all led to believe? My disappointment would not come without a consolation prize though. It turns out each vegetable has to be cooked in its own pot to avoid bleeding of colors, so I was able to put both of the carrots types into a single pot. Hooray nature! Here's the starting material:

These are not your grocery store vegetables that have been bred to look nice and uniform. These are all very different in shape and size and covered in dirt. Imagine that, dirt on your food. Anyway, this makes cooking with them a touch harder since it's a little more difficult to carve equal sized pieces.

The first step was to peel and carve all of the vegetables. It was a lot of peeling, turning my sink into a vegetable wasteland.

Keller gives a couple of options for carving the vegetables into edible sized pieces. These include small balls and "turning" them. When you turn them, or tourner for you Frenchies, you end up with a seven sided football kind of thing. I tried this a couple of times and decided it wasn't for me. What was for me was this: I started by cutting the carrots and turnips into boxes about 2"x.5"x.5". I quickly turned the four sided shape into an extruded octagon by chopping off each of the four corners of the box. It's pretty hard to write about, but very easy to actually do. By no means is it as cool as turning, but it's a lot more achievable, especially if you don't have three hours to sit around and carve shapes out of vegetables. One thing about all this carving is that is creates a lot of waste, which isn't great at all, but I'm sure you can find a use for random small pieces of turnips if you really want to.

As I mentioned earlier, each vegetable is cooked separately at the beginning to avoid the bleeding of colors. You can see here that I had the vegetables and a set of seasonings for each. These included a bay leaf, some peppercorns, and some fresh thyme.

I put each vegetable in a saucepan and just covered them with cold water. I added some butter, sugar, and the seasonings along with some salt to each pot.

I brought the water to a boil, reduced the heat and let it simmer for about half an hour. The book said ten minutes, but I'm now used to the fact that the books times are nearly always shorter than what it ends up taking for me to complete each step.

Because it took the liquid took so long to reduce I took the vegetables out of when they were tender. After the liquid had finished doing its thing and turned into a glaze, the veggies went back into their respective pots. I again seasoned them with a bit of salt.

Some vigorous shaking of the pots ensured equal coverage of all pieces. At this point everything was removed from the heat and put in a bowl to wait for dinner time a couple of hours later.

To prep everything for serving, all of the vegetables went into a single saucepan to be reheated. After I tasted a carrot for seasoning, they got transferred to individual serving plates and garnished with some fresh chives.

Now these are probably some of the coolest pictures I've taken so far, so here's another one:

Not only did the pictures turn out well, so did the vegetables. They were cooked very well, tender throughout but not mushy by any means. The glaze was sweet, but not too sweet. The herbs added a layer of complexity beyond just the veggies and glaze. It's something I'd make again given an abundance of root vegetables, or possibly as a side dish at a big meal. They were gone by the end of dinner, so they must of been well received, right?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cats' Tongues

"Cats' tongues--so called because of their long, narrow shape..."

I get a little worried anytime a recipe starts with a line like that. I guess I've never really thought about a cat tongue too much, but eating one doesn't seem like a great idea. It sounds more like some bad Chinese food joke than an actual food. But we're open-minded around here, right?

Since it's been about a month since I've made anything, I spent last weekend making a few recipes. Take a look over to the right if you want a hint at what's coming. These cookies were picked because I had everything I needed to make them on hand. The ingredients were just butter, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, eggs, and flour. That's pretty simple.

I started by adding the butter, sugar, and salt to my mixer. Fitted with the whisk attachment, I creamed the mixture. This took a little while because the quantities were pretty small and the mixer was having some issues scraping all of it together. Eventually it worked out pretty well:

I added in one egg white and the vanilla and mixed it until combined. One more egg white went in and I continued mixing it for just a few more seconds. The last ingredient, the flour, was added in one half at a time and gently folded in.

I put all of the batter into a ziploc bag and placed it into the refrigerator for about half an hour to firm everything up a little bit, but not before giving it a little taste. It essentially tasted like a sugar cookie batter. Kind of plain, but plain in the 'I could eat it all right now' kind of way.

After thirty minutes, I snipped off a corner of the ziploc bag, successfully transforming it into my own personal pastry bag. I piped all of the batter into thin lines with varying levels of success. Here's the better half, piped by my better half.

Each of the two trays went into the oven for 3 minutes at 350 degrees. After the three minutes, I switched and rotated each of the trays and they baked for about five more minutes. Out of the oven came a shorter and wider version of what went in:

They smelled great, so they didn't get too much of an opportunity to cool before they joined a couple of glasses of port and some chocolate as dessert.

These were very easy to make and provided a relatively high level of deliciousness. They probably could of used a few more minutes in the oven to crisp them up just a bit, but overall their value was good. The whole batch lasted for a few days with only a small amount of deterioration in quality. They won't stand on their own as a dessert, but they work great as an accompaniment, like say, with the pot de creme the books recommend. I'm sure we'll see these again around here.