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Fatted Calf Thread - Share Your Faves

I bought some bresaola on Saturday. It's very tasty (especially on a toasted sandwich with arugula and Gorgonzola), but I just wish they'd cut it in larger, softer pieces like I get in Germany. The texture seems a little too dry to me.

Dec 04, 2006
gus in San Francisco Bay Area

Ethnic Cooking - Finland

These are delicious! I ate many last summer in Helsinki. Egg butter is soooooo good ... can't believe more people don't know about it. It's a perfect complement to those pies.

A typical meal our Finnish friends prepare usually goes like this:
Appetizer of homemade brown (rye) bread with gravlax
Baked salmon with boiled potatoes on the side, or salmon soup
Dessert of prune compote, topped with whipped cream

Very simple and excellent cuisine.

Nov 30, 2006
gus in Home Cooking

A memorable food from another land...

My first taste of fresh za'atar with blistered flatbread from the bazaar in Damascus, Syria.

Purple-black mulberries from an infamous tree in Berkeley, California.

Nov 30, 2006
gus in General Topics

An open apology to Marcella Hazan

I made the chicken fricassee with cherry tomatoes, white wine, and olives last week -- it was delicious. Her method is perfect, and the flavors are just so good together. Definitely recommended.

Oct 09, 2006
gus in Home Cooking

Italian Prune Plum dessert

I second the plum crumble. It turns out wonderfully -- delicious on a cool fall day with a big heap of softly-whipped cream, and strong black tea. Her topping is worth making note of and using with other fruits -- mine came out like a crisp, thin crust rather than the traditionally oaty crumble topping.

Oct 06, 2006
gus in Home Cooking

casual dinner for a group of 6

I second the Chicken Marbella. It is excellent; the marinade and chicken juices caramelize the olives and suffuse them with savor. A real hit!

Sep 29, 2006
gus in Home Cooking

Eating on a Budget

I just made some really good Lebanese lamb kefte (meatballs). They are super-easy. A pound of ground lamb cost me $6, the only other ingredients are onion, a bunch of parsley, and a can of tomato paste (plus seasonings), and it made 12 huge meatballs that I've been eating with rice for lunch or dinner every day. You can freeze them too.

BAKED KEFTE IN TOMATO SAUCE (inspired by Mairy Laird Hamady's "Lebanese Mountain Cookery" -- such a great book!)

Kefte:

1 lb ground lamb
1 whole onion, chopped fine
1 cup parsley, chopped fine
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
fresh black pepper to taste

Sauce:

1 can tomato paste
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c water
1 tbs dried mint

1. Preheat oven to 375. Prepare meatballs: mix all ingredients in large bowl, then roll into oval-shaped balls. Place in medium-sized ovenproof casserole.

2. Bake meatballs in oven for 30 minutes, until browned. While cooking, mix up tomato sauce in small bowl.

3. Remove meatballs from oven and drain off any fat. Pour tomato sauce over kefte (should almost cover them) and return to oven. Recipe says you can either add mint at this point or wait until the dish is finished, but I added it here.

4. Bake 30-35 minutes. (Recipe says at 350, but I needed to stay at 375 with my oven). Serve over hot white rice, and enjoy!

Sep 22, 2006
gus in Home Cooking

Modern tea party - recipes...

I agree with above posting that you should serve some Japanese or Chinese teas, too. Consider Genmaicha -- a Japanese green tea made with puffed, toasted rice -- rich taste. Tease the palate with a smoked tea like Russian Caravan or Lapsang Souchong (these also taste good with milk and sugar).

If you do go with tea sandwiches (I think you can), green tea pairs very well with chestnut. Make small sandwiches on wheat bread spread with a layer of creme fraiche and a layer of sweetened chestnut puree. Or a layer of butter, thinly-sliced cucumber, and lemon thyme. Rye bread with a thick layer of butter and chopped fresh dill.

As for sweets, a cake made with ground almonds tastes very good with black tea. Or shortbread brushed on one side with melted chocolate.

Sep 22, 2006
gus in Home Cooking

Recipe Suggestions?

My mom makes fruit crisps sometimes where she substitutes shortbread crumbs for the flour (and oats). Perfect for boxes and boxes of Trefoils!

Sep 22, 2006
gus in Home Cooking

Fresh Pumpkin Recipes?

This sounds excellent. It would be an unusual finale to a dinner party. What about the rest of the menu? Any recommendations?

Sep 14, 2006
gus in Home Cooking

Fresh Pumpkin Recipes?

I may have posted this recipe before, but it's so good, I thought I'd draw your attention to it. Also note that it's vegan.

From Mary Laird Hamady's "Lebanese Mountain Cookery" -- a really good little cookbook, with lots of interesting Lebanese-American variations on the traditional dishes. P.S. The pan-fried pumpkin is pretty amazing on its own. Definitely more indulgent even than roasted pumpkin.

PUMPKIN WITH TAHINI, CHICKPEAS, AND ONION

1 can chickpeas
2 - 3 lbs pumpkin or butternut squash
veg or olive oil for frying

2 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 c onion, chopped or slivered (I used 1 onion)

1 - 1 1/2 c water

2/3 c tahini
1 cup water
1 Tbs salt
1 c fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

1. Cut pumpkin or squash into 1 by 2-inch chunks. In a deep skillet, heat 1 inch veg or olive oil. Brown pumpkin chunks a few at a time until medium-dark brown on all sides. Drain on a rack or paper. When pumpkin is finished, pour off oil and add 2 Tbs olive oil to skillet.

2. Fry onions until brown around the edges and golden all over. Add chick peas to onion and fry slowly 5-10 min longer.

3. Put tahini in mixing bowl and slowly stir in 1 c water. Then beat in salt and lemon juice or vinegar.

4. Place browned pumpkin over chickpeas, heat for a minute or so and then add tahini sauce. Simmer until it thickens and pumpkin is completely tender, about 10 min.

5. Serve at room temperature with Arabic bread. Sauce will be quite thick when it has cooled.

Sep 12, 2006
gus in Home Cooking

'dry' cake

I enjoyed your rant! I know that Americans liked baked goods moist, and a lot of Europeans don't. In fact, the most common complaint regarding the famous Viennese Sacher Torte is that it is "too dry," because it's a chocolate cake that's not fudgy.

A few years ago, I baked a big plate of brownies for my best friend's birthday in Germany. She's Russian, and she took one bite of the brownie, smiled politely, and said, "Did you cook it long enough?" She then cut it into 1/2-inch pieces and gingerly ate one of these alongside a big cup of black tea. "This is one of those things you have to eat with tea," she insisted. Ditto with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups -- she and her mom smashed them atop pieces of dark bread and ate them at tea-time.

However, my German roommates always went crazy for my chocolate-chip cookies, although they were very skeptical at first. I made sure to bake them crispy -- I don't think they could have handled a chewy cookie!

P.S. Carb Lover, do you have a favorite pound cake recipe? I made Das Ubergeek's for my birthday last week and found it delicious. You should check it out.

Sep 07, 2006
gus in General Topics

Uebergeek's Pound Cake - Thanks!

A shout out to das Uebergeek for sharing the excellent pound cake recipe on this board. I dug it out of the archives a few days ago and baked it last night for my birthday celebration today. The slow cooking at 300 (2 hrs) in the oven really is magic!

The recipe produced a huge, beautiful cake with a large split down the middle. It was a rich brown on the outside and pale golden inside, with an incredibly dense and buttery crumb. I sliced it thin and served it with peaches doused in a little prosecco and lemon balm. Delicious!

It contains a pound each of eggs, butter, flour, and sugar, and a 1/2 tsp of salt. (Recipe called for vanilla, but I didn't have any and it was fine without). It's a heavy cake, but that didn't stop anyone from wolfing it down! There is only a tiny piece left over to toast for breakfast tomorrow!

Thanks, Uebergeek, for the real thing!!!

Sep 03, 2006
gus in Home Cooking

Seasonal dessert ideas for afternoon birthday party

I'm having some friends (probably 8-15 people) over this weekend to celebrate my birthday. I want to serve a smoky black Russian Caravan tea and a California sparkling wine as the beverages. Anybody have any recipes for me? I would like some kind of seasonal fruit dessert and maybe something with chocolate that would taste good with both the tea and the wine. I'm in the SF Bay Area.

Aug 30, 2006
gus in Home Cooking

Authentic good food in Saint Petersburg

I just returned from a fabulous two weeks in "Piter." I have several recommendations for good eating: foremost being that you hit up the huge bazaar behind the Sadovaya Metro station. Check out the delicious smoked fish selection (the ladies will cut off small pieces to put on the back of your hand for you to taste): we bought one fish that was so smooth and velvety it was like sashimi. It changed my definition of smoked fish forever. Also at the market is a good selection of pickled vegetables, peddled by Armenian women who are more than happy to toss in a few extra sprigs of pickled wild garlic if you take a few bags of their delicious pickled cabbage and carrots, not to mention red garlic. There was also a Korean woman selling a delicious, frilly-white mushroom salad. You should also try the Russo-Korean treat of pickled, dried asparagus mixed with spices and julienne carrots.

Buy a loaf of dark rye bread, some cucumbers and tomatoes, a small tub of smetana (sour cream), and some smoked fish, and you have yourself a lovely Russian picnic meal.

I was very pleased with the "Naxodka" grocery store located behind the "Dom Kino" on Ul. Sadovaya, just a few blocks off the Nevsky Prospect. They sell a delicious Azeri pomegranate juice that tastes much better than what you can buy here. Also, "MOST" made from wild strawberries or cranberries and blueberries (check the package illustrations) is an interesting, if very sweet, beverage.

Try some of the unique Russian dairy products: "RYAZHENKA," a pale pinkish-cream colored fermented beverage somewhere between yogurt and kefir, and of course the tasty KEFIR.

As for eating out, we enjoyed the blini from the stand on Pl. Sadovaya that is NOT Teremok. The blini were thinner and the fillings tasted fresher. I recommend the mushrooms in cream sauce, although I also enjoyed the red caviar, butter, and dill filling.

The best meal I had was at a Dagestani restaurant on Ul. Efimovna 5, just off Pl. Sadovaya (good eating around that square, it seems!) You go down a flight of stairs to a lower level than the street. The waitress is very friendly and quick to offer English menus -- I think this is because the place is featured in Lonely Planet -- and there were many other families dining when we went. She took a lot of time explaining the dishes to us, even drawing small illustrations on her notepad to prove her point! Try the grilled eggplant rolls stuffed with a walnut-mayonnaise mixture; it's a classic and very good. We enjoyed the lagman, a beef broth with homemade noodles and vegetables. If you're tempted to order the large pancake stuffed with pumpkin or cottage cheese and potato, be aware that it is very large and very heavy (but tasty) -- so your best bet is probably ordering several dishes for the table and just trying a little bit of each.

If you venture out a little bit from Nevsky and try a few bakeries and "magazini," I think you'll be very happy with what you find! Enjoy your trip.

Aug 30, 2006
gus in Europe

Poulet for snickerdoodle and Gelato Milano, Berkeley report (w/ pics)

I also enjoy Milano way more than Naia. In fact, the last time I went out for a cone I stopped at Naia first, was so disappointed with my chocolate gelato that I tossed it into the first garbage can I found, and stepped into Milano for a taste. What sold me was their marrons glaces flavor -- my favorite, and they do it justice, with creamy, fragrant ice cream and a fair amount of candied chestnut bits.

Jul 01, 2006
gus in San Francisco Bay Area

NYC CSA Challenge, #2- Vitamin Greens, Turnips and Kohlrabi, Oh My!

Kohlrabi tastes delicious in chicken soup.

Jul 01, 2006
gus in Home Cooking