Monday, February 18, 2013

Tempeh hash

Here's a continuation this week's theme of brunch for dinner, and of this year's theme of getting better at tempeh. (Actually, I don't appear to have posted any of the recent tempeh experiments, my bad. The main trick is to simmer it for at least 10 minutes in water or in a marinade, then to fry it up nice and brown.) We ate it with a bit of creme fraiche, but it would be good with sour cream, cheddar, or other texmex-style toppings too, or with a poached egg for extra brunchy action.

1 small red onion, diced (divided)
1 hot dried chili pepper
juice of 1 lime (2 T)
scant T honey
1/4 c water
1 pack tempeh, chopped in large bite-size pieces
5 red potatoes, chopped in large bite-size pieces
oil for frying
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 pasilla pepper (fresh not dried), diced
salt to taste

Make a sauce for the tempeh by grinding 1/4 of the red onion and the chili pepper to a paste, then mixing in the lime, honey, and water. Combine the tempeh and sauce in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, cover loosely, and simmer over low until the liquid is mostly cooked off. Meanwhile, parboil the potatoes until just barely piercable with a knife.

Heat some oil over medium-high in two large frying pans (or one, but two is better for optimal browning). Put the potatoes in one and the tempeh with its remaining sauce in the other, and fry both until browning on at least a couple sides, flipping occasionally. Toss the remaining onion in with the tempeh and the peppers in with the potatoes, and fry until the veggies are softened and the tempeh and potatoes are well browned. Toss the tempeh and onions in with the rest and flip to combine, and add some salt if you haven't already.

Shaker lemon pie

I've had my eye on this pie ever since Alan made one around Thanksgiving time. I like the filling much more than typical lemon curd or custard fillings: it has a great marmalade-like texture, it's not too sweet and not too sour or bitter (at least with my Meyer lemons), and it's easier because it doesn't need a stove-top thickening step.

Since the resident pie crust expert Laura is off cavorting in South America, I got to try my hand at her dough recipe unsupervised—with surprisingly excellent results, if I do say so myself. She's been planning to do a guest post with a step-by-step tutorial on her favorite all-shortening pie crust, so I think I'll keep you in suspense about the crust until she does. In the meantime, don't hesitate to try out an all-butter crust like this one (which I haven't tried but I think is similar to the one Alan used).

3 medium Meyer lemons
2 c sugar
1/4 t salt
4 eggs (3 whole + 1 separated)
1/2 stick butter, melted
3 T flour
turbinado sugar

pie crust for a 8-9" double-crust pie

Slice the lemons very thinly with the mandolin and remove the seeds. Toss the lemon slices, sugar, and salt in a plastic bowl and let macerate on the counter for at least 2 hours; the lemon juice should seep out and dissolve the sugar into a thick goopy delicious soup. (Meanwhile, mix up and roll out the crust.) Preheat the oven to 425F. Whisk 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk, plus the butter and flour, into the lemons, and pour the filling into the unbaked lower pie crust. Top with the upper pie crust and crimp the edges together. Lightly beat the remaining egg white with a fork then brush it on the top of the pie. Sprinkle turbinado generously over the whole top crust, and cut air slits into the crust. Bake at 425F for 20-25 min, lower the temperature to 350F (and cover the rim of the crust with foil if needed), and bake for another 20-25 min. Cool completely and serve at room temperature, with or without a dollop of creme fraiche.

Wild mushroom crepes

Last weekend Lester and I went up to the Point Arena/Sea Ranch/Salt Point stretch of coast. Not only does this area have miles of thoroughly gorgeous beaches and bluffs, and vastly nicer weather than you would expect—it also happens to be great for mushroom collecting!

This little amusing and informative book led us to identify a swath of mushrooms growing in our cabin's backyard as the purportedly delicious Craterellus cornucopioides or horn of plenty:

My experienced mushroom-hunter friend Trevor concurred, and helped us identify another clump as Gomphus clavatus or pig's ear, another good edible:

Then we felt confident enough to cook them up.

To celebrate the great Brit tradition of Pancake Day, we used the mushrooms as a savory pancake topping (which works because English pancakes are more like crepes). Lester followed this recipe for the pancakes and, celebrating another Brit tradition of self-deprecating pun-based jokes that rely on words or usages I've never heard before, insists that I inform you that he "made a bit of a pig's ear of it." Because pig's ear mushrooms, get it? Anyway, I thought his pancakes came out well, even if they were slightly thicker than optimal because the small cast-iron pan is slightly smaller than optimal.

I cooked the two kinds of mushrooms separately, but followed the same fairly simple procedure for both. First trim the ends, tear into strips, and wash or brush the dirt off. Heat a dry cast-iron pan (no butter or oil) over medium-high heat until quite hot, then add the mushrooms and dry-saute until all the liquid has been released and cooked off; this took a few minutes for the Craterellus and very little time for the Gomphus. Turn down the heat to medium-low, add a bit of butter, and saute gently until cooked through (this is important because even edible wild mushrooms can have unpleasant digestive consequences if undercooked).

We ate the mushrooms rolled up in the pancakes, along with some caramelized shallots and a bit of creme fraiche. Both kinds of mushrooms were delicious, but the Gomphus was more flavorful and heartier; next time I might try drying the Craterellus first as some sites suggest. And hopefully there is a next time!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pistachio cookies

But not just pistachio—there's also white *and* dark chocolate chips accenting the high and low notes, orange zest rounding out the middle, and enough salt to bring it all together. Besides that, it's just the recipe on the chocolate chip bag (which I always forget is improved by letting the dough firm up in the fridge).

2 sticks butter, softened (salted)
3/4 c white sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
2 eggs
zest of 1 large orange
1 t vanilla
2 1/4 c flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t allspice
1 t kosher salt
1.5 c pistachios (unsalted)
1.5 c chocolate chips (half white, half dark/semisweet)

Preheat oven to 375F. Make like cookies: cream butter by itself, cream in sugar then eggs+zest+vanilla, mix in dry ingredients (flour through salt), mix in nuts and chips. Drop onto 3 greased cookie sheets, stick in the fridge for a few minutes so they don't spread out as much as mine did, then bake for 8-10 min.