Wednesday, May 11, 2011
An important note on broth and stock: There's a difference between stock and broth. Stock is made with bones, and broth is not. For veggies, it's kind of the same thing, both being made with fresh veggies. You can save all sorts of extras in a freezer bag, then make veggie stock when you have a full gallon-sized bag. Peels, skins, bruised pieces, etc. all work very well for stock. For meat stock, use raw bones along with the vegetables. Be sure to either tie it all up in a cheesecloth, or strain the stock well to keep out little pieces of unwanted bits. Freeze the stock in ice cube trays, then toss the cubes into freezer bags and label. You will have fresh stock on hand all the time! You can make stock in the crock pot, too! Put it all in the pot, cover with water, turn on low for 12 hours.
Cream of Turnip Soup
1 c. peeled and diced turnips
1/2 c. scraped and diced parsnips
1 1/2 c. beef or lamb stock (this really needs a meat stock for the flavor)
1/2 c. coarsely ground almonds (don't use the salted or roasted ones. Raw almonds here!)
1 c. heavy whipping cream
3 egg yolks
1/2 t. salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Gently simmer the turnips and parsnips in the broth until soft, 10-12 minutes or so. Stir in the almonds and heat for 2-3 minutes. In a separate bowl, break and mix the yolks and salt with the cream. Next, add the lemon juice and slowly pour 1/2 c. of hot soup into egg mixture, stirring well as you pour in the soup. This will temper the egg mixture so you don't get scrambled egg soup! Slowly pour this tempered mixture into the soup pot and stir it well. Continue heating for about 5 minutes on low heat, stirring a couple of times. Serve piping hot with fresh bread!
4 c. stock (beef, chicken, lamb or vegetable)
1 c. peeled and diced turnips
1 c. chopped leeks
1/2 c. peeled and diced parsnips
1-2 chopped white carrots (wild carrots are white or purple, but orange ones will do fine!)
2-3 ribs of celery, chopped
1 onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
1/2-1 lb. cooked or 1 can chichees, drained and rinsed (optional)
Put all of the above in a crock pot or stove-top pot and stir. Simmer for 30 minutes or so. If you use a crock pot, I'd recommend setting it on low for 4-6 hours.
chopped roasted pork or lamb (This is optional, but a great way to use leftover meats)
juice of one lemon, plus the lemon zest of half the lemon- can add zest of the whole lemon if desired
fresh herbs- chopped
fresh chopped chard or spinach leaves
Put these in and stir gently. Simmer another 20-30 minutes, until all vegetables are softened and the greens have wilted.
Black-Eyed Peas with Honey Vinegar Dressing
1/2 c. honey
3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar (you could use red wine vinegar for a milder flavor)
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 c. fresh herbs, chop or chiffonade (use what you have, but your options are plenty: thyme, rosemary, Italian parsley, savory, oregano and others!)
Sea salt to taste (a pinch or 2)
First, blend the herbs, garlic and the oil, then stir in the honey. Whisk in the vinegar until you have an emulsion. Add a pinch or 2 of sea salt and taste. Once emulsified, pour into a bottle and keep refrigerated .
For the salad:
Cooked black-eyed peas
Chopped white carrots
Chopped celery and leaves
Mix the above in the amounts desired. Blend in enough of the dressing to flavor the vegetables well, but not leave them overly wet.
You can make this with all sorts of other ingredients for various flavors. Add chopped jalapeños for some kick. Add in drained Mandarin oranges with some freshly grated ginger for an Asian flare. Fresh chopped bell peppers can add some crunch, or toss in some halved cherry tomatoes! Replace the black-eyed peas with chichees. The possibilities are endless!
Of course, these other options aren't Byzantine, but not every meal has to be perfectly period. Cooking is about enjoying your time in the kitchen, preparing food with love, and serving it to people who will be nourished body and soul.
In medieval times, people cooked with what was available to them, and one had to be flexible with ingredients. Today, it's not much different if you have a garden. Sometimes you have to alter a recipe to match what's ready to harvest!
No matter what you cook, do it with love. Food isn't just about nutrition; it's about feeding the soul as well!
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
What you need to do:
Dig a 3' x 3' hole in the sand. I wouldn't recommend doing this in the local playground, but a nice stretch of beach or even a SW backyard would work beautifully!
Dump a good heavy layer of hot coals or hot stones in the bottom
Top with either a cleaned whole goat or hog. I would recommend cutting a whole hog in half nose to tail, and use 2 of these ovens- 1 oven for each half. I'd also recommend putting them split side down so the fats disperse through the meat. and adds all that extra flavor! You'll need more coals for a hog than a goat- at least 2-3 times as much, depending on the hog's size. You could also use leg of lamb.
Rub the beast in and out with olive oil, dress the meat with fresh herbs, salt and pepper. You could put in some slices of lemon or orange as well, especially for pork. For lamb, use rosemary and fresh mint.
Wrap the meat very well in banana or grape leaves, and tie it all up with twine so that all the meat is covered well. Lay it in the hole, on top of the bottom layer of hot coals.
Dump in hot coals so that the meat totally covered. Top off the rest of the hole with sand. Be sure to mark it!!! You don't want to dig up the entire beach looking for your goat. :)
A small goat will take a few hours. The bigger the meat, the longer you need to cook it. Lamb should be checked in 2-3 hours depending on how rare you prefer it. Half a hog should be in all day, at least 8-10 hours.
Once you dig it out, unwrap it and enjoy! For a modern touch, you could put veggies or potatoes wrapped in foil down in the top layer of coals.
Whether it's on your little section of beach for the weekend, or a fun way to feed the family at this summer's reunion, using a sand oven is a sure way to make friends fast! Cook it, and they will come, I always say!
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Everyone loves this dish, and it couldn't be easier. Chichees were used quite often in the Byzantine Empire, and indeed, throughout Europe as well during the Middle Ages. It's said that chichees were the one bean the more wealthy people of Byzantium would eat. Still considered "poor food," beans of all sorts are packed with protein, inexpensive to make, and they are delicious alongside roasted meats and veggies.
What you need:
About a pound of cooked chickpeas- if you cook these from dry beans, be sure to soak them overnight in warm water. This will help bring out all the nutrients in the beans and shorten the cooking time! You can always use a can or 2 of them, drained and rinsed!
Several cloves of garlic (3-4 to just flavor, or several if you like to eat them cooked)- just cut these in half- don't mince them.
What to do:
Put the cooked beans in a saucepan and put in enough fresh, warm water to just about cover the beans. They don't need to be covered all the way.
Pour in enough olive oil that the beans and garlic are all submerged. I usually measure out about 1/4 inch or so over the beans. It's a lot of oil, but worth it.
That's it. Now put the pan on the stove, and simmer without a lid. I usually let it simmer for about an hour, but after 30 minutes, scoop out the garlic and chichees. You can separate the oil at the end and add some fresh chopped herbs and lemon zest, then use it to dip fresh bread!
Note: If you love garlic as much as I do, you can take a large head of garlic, cut off the pointed end down to just where the garlic is barely sliced through. Pour on a bit of olive oil, wrap in foil and roast for about an hour at 350 degrees. Use the roasted garlic instead of fresh in the chichees for a sweeter flavor! Keep a couple of cloves out to spread on your bread. Yum!!!
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
large pork butt, 5-7 lbs., salt and pepper the meat all over
2 bottles of favorite brand of honeymead (also labeled 'mead')
variety of fresh herbs to make a good handful, options include:
Italian parsley, onion tops, basil, bay, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme
(Stuff these inside a spitted hog along with a good shake on of salt and black pepper.)
Place the pork butt in either a large crock pot or in a large roasting pan with tight lid. You can tie up the herbs or just lay them on top and around the roast (I like this way). Pour in about half the bottle of honeymead. Pour the other half in glasses and share with friends!
For the crock pot, you'll want to cook this on low for 8-10 hours. In an oven, I would slow cook this at about 300 degrees for 4-6 hours, basting well with the remaining bottle of honeymead about every hour. It should be practically falling off the bone when done.
You can add in large pieces of leeks, onions and garlic to the pot as well- but they only need a couple of hours, so put them in later on in the cooking time.
2 T. very good olive oil
2 chopped onions
2 chopped garlic cloves
1 t. salt
1 pinch black pepper
A few bay leaves
1/2 t. fresh marjoram
1 c. Greek yogurt
2 pints of vegetable stock
1 T. chopped Italian parsley
Optional- chopped leeks
Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot & add in onions. Cook about 2 minutes until translucent. You could add in some chopped leeks as well, if you have them.
Add the chopped garlic and all the seasonings. Mix it just a bit. Add the yogurt & mix well. Pour in the stock and stir.
Bring the soup to a simmer. cover & simmer for 20 minutes.
Did you know that eggplant was commonly used during Byzantine times? And fresh lemons were plentiful! They are so much better than the bottled juices we have available now. Always use fresh ingredients! Here's a delicious recipe to serve with your crusty Greek bread!
2 large eggplants
3 T. fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup very good olive oil
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 F or roast over an open fire. Use a fork to prick the eggplants all over. Put them on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes till they're nicely roasted and soft. Remove and drain them on a paper towel if needed. Let them cool just a bit until they can be handled without scalding yourself. Cut them in half and scoop all the insides out into a food processor. Add the minced garlic and fresh lemon juice. Pulse a few times to combine. Continue to pulse while adding a steady stream of olive oil. Stir in parsley, salt and pepper.
Serve with bread and alongside fresh fruits, nuts and cheeses for a starter course to midday or supper meals!