Posts Tagged ‘vinegar’

This was a fun episode for me to do, as vinegar was the star of the show. For as long as I can remember, I have loved all things vinegar-based. I absolutely loved to arrive at my grandparents’ house in Baltimore because my grandma always had a bag or two of Utz Salt and Vinegar potato chips waiting for me. I was also the weird kid in elementary school whose mom would pack pickled eggs in her lunch. I had discovered pickled eggs at our local Blimpie, and my mom and I would each get two eggs with a basket of pretzels. To this day, I still love pickled eggs, but, as Alton would say, “That’s another blog.”

Grilled Romaine

An interesting grilled romaine salad is first in this episode. The night before you want to serve this salad, place a metal loaf pan in your freezer and add 1/2 C red wine vinegar. Let the vinegar freeze overnight. This will be enough vinegar for four servings. When you are ready to prep the salad, cut the bottom off of two hears of romaine lettuce and slice them in half lengthwise.

IMG_1553(1)

Romaine hearts, halved lengthwise.

You will also need 1 C of finely grated Parmesan, 1 T olive oil, and black pepper. Spray a griddle pan with nonstick spray and preheat it over medium-high heat. Brush the cut sides of the romaine hearts with olive oil and generously grind pepper on top.

IMG_1554(1)

Romaine hearts, halved lengthwise, brushed with olive oil, and sprinkled with black pepper.

Place the grated Parmesan in a long, shallow baking dish and dip/press the oiled sides of the romaine into the cheese.

Place the romaine hearts, cheese side down, on the preheated griddle and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese is brown and crispy.

IMG_1559(1)

Romaine hearts placed cheese side down on lubed pan.

Remove the lettuce from the hot pan. Alton tells you here to place the grilled lettuce (cheese side up) on ice, as you want the lettuce to have a dichotomy of temperatures; I did not find this to be necessary as the non-grilled side of the lettuce was still cool after such a short cooking period. Remove your frozen vinegar from the freezer and scrape it with a fork to “fluff” it up. Sprinkle the frozen vinegar on top of the warm cheese and serve immediately.

IMG_1561(1)

Grilled Romaine topped with flaked frozen vinegar.

Alton recommends picking up the whole salad and eating it like a hot dog. This recipe is good and bad. The recipe is flawed when it comes to the application of the cheese to the lettuce, as the cheese does not adhere well when you apply it to the oiled lettuce, and most of the cheese sticks to the pan when you cook it. Ted suggested making Alton’s Parmesan crisps from episode 113, molding them over the top of the grilled lettuce. Otherwise, you could place the cheesy lettuce under the broiler for a couple minutes. Either way, Alton’s technique in this recipe just really does not work well. That being said, the salad itself was fun to eat, as I really liked the contrasting flavors and temperatures. The frozen vinegar is super intense, packing a real zing of flavor, and its contrast with the warm cheese and lettuce is interesting to the palate. Technique flaws aside, this was just a fun recipe to try out.

Sauerbraten

The Sauerbraten recipe in this episode was the one I was super excited to make. Why? Until a few years ago, my parents lived two hours from me. We visited them regularly and my mom would always make some stellar food. For years she told me she wanted to make Sauerbraten for Ted and me, but she never ended up doing it before she was unable to cook. Although I did not get to eat Sauerbraten with my mom, this was my chance to finally try Sauerbraten, and to talk to my mom about the recipe. Sauerbraten translates to “sour beef,” and this is a recipe that, although simple, requires a few days. First up, combine in a large saucepan:  2 C water, 1 C cider vinegar, 1 C red wine vinegar, 1 chopped medium onion, 1 large chopped carrot, 1 T plus 1 t Kosher salt, 1/2 t pepper, 2 bay leaves, 6 whole cloves, 12 juniper berries, and 1 t mustard seed.

IMG_1462(1)

Water, cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, onion, carrot, Kosher salt, pepper, bay leaves, cloves, juniper berries, and mustard seed in a saucepan.

Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, decrease the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Set this liquid aside to cool until it is just slightly warm to the touch.

While the vinegar mixture cools rub a 3 1/2- 4 pound bottom round with 1 T vegetable oil and sprinkle Kosher salt liberally over the meat.

IMG_1466(1)

Bottom round, rubbed with oil and sprinkled with Kosher salt.

Sear the meat in a hot pan on all sides, using tongs to flip it. Once all the sides of the meat are browned, place the meat inside the marinade and let it sit at room temperature for an hour. Alton placed his meat directly into his saucepan, but my saucepan was not large enough to accommodate my roast. Instead, I transferred my meat and my marinade to a large plastic container. Regardless of what vessel you use, you want the meat to be as submerged as possible.

Place the meat into the refrigerator and leave it for 3-5 days (preferably five). If your meat is not completely submerged in the marinade, flip the meat over once per day. After five days have passed, remove the meat from the marinade and whisk 1/3 C sugar into the marinade. If your marinade is not already in an oven-safe vessel, transfer it to one now.

Add the meat back to the marinade, place a lid on the pot, and place it in a 325 degree oven for four hours, or until the meat is tender.

After cooking, remove the meat from the liquid, keeping it warm; I tented my meat under foil. Strain the cooking liquid, discarding the solids. At this point, you can add 1/2 C raisins, but I did as Alton did and opted to leave them out. Place the strained liquid over medium-high heat and whisk in five ounces of gingersnap crumbs (a food processor works best for this).

Whisk the sauce until it has thickened and serve it over the sliced beef.

IMG_1516(1)

Alton’s Sauerbraten.

Alternatively, you can shred the meat and serve it on Kaiser rolls with the sauce, though this is not a traditional presentation. Sauerbraten is certainly not a pretty dish, but it does have a great deal of flavor. The meat is falling apart by the end of the cooking and has quite a pronounced vinegar flavor, which is interesting. The sauce is pretty rich and is a mixture of sweet and sour flavors. I actually found that the sauce could easily overwhelm the meat, so I used only a little bit of sauce. We ate this for dinner two nights, serving it slice the first night and as sandwiches for the second night, and we liked it both ways. Mom said this recipe was very similar to hers, as her recipe also used gingersnaps to thicken the sauce. This is a very easy German recipe that is fun to make at home, and I’m so glad I finally got to try Sauerbraten

I have had the best intentions with my blog, but somehow it has been two months since I last posted. I guess it’s true what they say – “parenthood is a time warp!” Our little baby is now four months old, which is hard to believe. At her four month check-up yesterday, our pediatrician recommended that we start introducing solid food now, which is something I thought we’d wait a couple more months for. My sister-in-law gave me an awesome baby food cookbook that I can’t wait to try out, as it introduces babies to all sorts of interesting flavors; the goal is to avoid having a picky eater. Before I know it, she’ll be in the kitchen with me, and I can’t wait for that!

The recipes in this post are sushi recipes. With being pregnant, this was the first sushi I had eaten in a good year! Alton recommends the following ingredients and tools to make up a basic home sushi kit:  soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, short grain rice, Nori, a rice spoon, a sushi mat, wasabi, and pickled ginger. With those basic tools and ingredients, you should be set to try making sushi.

Sushi Rice

The first step in making sushi is preparing the rice. Ideally, for sushi rice, you want to use short grain rice. Surprisingly, my grocery store did not have any short grain rice, so I had to settle for medium grain rice. Place 2 C of rice in a sieve and rinse it three times with water, or until the water runs clear.

Place the rice in a medium saucepan with 2 C of water, stirring. Bring the rice to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, place a cover on the pan, decrease the heat to low, and cook the rice for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, let the rice stand for 10 more minutes.

While the rice sits combine 2 T sugar, 1 T Kosher salt, and 2 T rice vinegar in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the vinegar mixture for 30-45 seconds or until the salt is mostly dissolved.

IMG_0929(1)

Sugar, Kosher salt, and rice vinegar microwaved until nearly dissolved.

Next, dump the rice into a large wooden or glass bowl (a wide wooden bowl is ideal). Drizzle the vinegar mixture over the rice, and gently mix the vinegar into the rice, using cutting motions with a spatula. Fan the rice with a paper plate as you cut the vinegar into the rice until the rice has cooled.

IMG_0932(1)

Rice, placed in a large wooden bowl and the vinegar mixture being “cut” into the rice as it cools.

Cover the rice with a moist towel until use, but do not refrigerate the rice. I think this rice tastes pretty darn good on its own, as I love its subtle sweet and vinegary flavor. Alton recommends using this rice for any sushi preparation, such as his California roll, which is up next.

California Roll

If you are new to sushi making, as I am, Alton recommends his California roll recipe for a good place to start. For his California roll, you will need your prepared sushi rice from above, sheets of Nori, a bowl of water, sesame seeds, avocado, imitation crab sticks, cucumber, pickled ginger, soy sauce, and wasabi.

IMG_0933(1)

Nori sheets, cut in half.

IMG_0935(1)

Sliced avocado and cucumber matchsticks.

To begin, cover your sushi rolling mat with plastic wrap; I chose to place my mat into a large Ziplock bag. Tear your Nori in half crosswise, and place one half sheet on your pat, with the rough side up.

IMG_0936(1)

A half sheet of Nori placed rough side up on a plastic-covered sushi mat.

Dampen your fingers slightly and evenly distribute rice on the sheet, leaving about 1/4″ uncovered at one long end. Sprinkle the rice with sesame seeds and flip the whole thing over so the Nori is facing up.

Place 4-5 thin slices of avocado so they overlap down the center of the smooth side of the Nori.

IMG_0940(1)

Avocado placed down center of Nori.

Next, place pieces of imitation crab on top of the avocado, overlapping the pieces to form a solid layer.

IMG_0941(1)

Imitation crab on top of avocado.

Finally, top the crab with cucumber matchsticks (you’ll need about 8 matchsticks).

IMG_0942(1)

Cucumber matchsticks to finish off the roll ingredients.

To finish the roll, use the mat to roll it away from you with even pressure from your hands, trying to roll it as tightly as possible.

Dampen a sharp knife and slice the roll into six pieces, using a sawing motion with your knife. Serve the roll slices with pickled ginger, soy sauce, and wasabi as accompaniments.

IMG_0951(1)

Sliced California rolls.

IMG_0952(1)

A plate of Alton’s California rolls.

Oh, and when taking sushi from a communal platter, it is polite to always use the large ends of your chopsticks. I have to say that my sushi ended up extremely ugly. I obviously need some serious practice on my rolling technique! This roll recipe is a very easy way to practice, as you do not need many ingredients. You also do not have to worry about the freshness of your seafood, as imitation crab is already cooked. Of course, real crab would certainly be superior! I may make this again, just to try my hand at sushi again. I am determined to make prettier rolls, as mine were embarrassing!

In this episode, Alton also described how to make a tuna roll, though there is no link to this recipe online. To do this, place a half sheet of Nori with its rough side up on your plastic-covered sushi mat. Cut fresh tuna into narrow slices against the grain. Place/press prepared sushi rice to within 1/4″ of the edge of the Nori. Next, place wasabi down the center of the rice, followed by the fish slices. Roll the entire thing up and cut into slices.

The 97th episode of Good Eats was all about fresh herbs, how to use them, and how to preserve them. Growing fresh herbs in the garden is one of my favorite things, as I love being able to spontaneously clip what I need for a summer salad or cocktail. What are Alton’s favorite herbs? He listed his top 10 in the episode:  chives, mint, thyme, dill, rosemary, oregano, basil, tarragon, sage, and parsley. Personally, I’d put cilantro on my top 10 list, but that’s just me.

To store fresh herbs in the kitchen, Alton recommends that you lay them out on paper towels, spritz them with some water, roll them up, and then roll them again in plastic wrap. He maintains that the crisper drawer is too cold for herbs, so you should actually store them in the top of the refrigerator. To store long-stemmed herbs like cilantro or parsley, cut an inch or so off of their stems and stand them in fresh water in the refrigerator.

When fresh herb season is coming to a close, you can always dry your surplus. To do this, dip the herbs in boiling water for five seconds and then plunge them into ice water. Run the herbs through a salad spinner and lay them between two new furnace filters. Strap the furnace filters to a box fan and let them dry for 12 hours. Flip the filters over and let the second side of the herbs dry for an additional 12 hours. Once the herbs are dry, rub them between your hands to easily remove the leaves from the stems.

Finally, if you prefer to freeze herbs for later use, you can portion them out and freeze them as ice cubes. After a quick thaw, your herbs are ready to use. In addition to all of his herb tips, Alton did also include two herb recipes in this episode, the first of which is for tarragon chive vinegar.

Tarragon Chive Vinegar

To make Alton’s tarragon chive vinegar, begin by putting 1 t of household bleach in two quarts of water. Swirl 12 sprigs each of fresh tarragon and fresh chives in the bleach water for about five seconds, and then move them to a large bowl of clean water to rinse. The bleach is used to kill any spores that could be on your fresh herbs.

While your herbs rinse in the clean water, heat 6 C of white wine vinegar to 190 degrees in a saucepan.

Place your clean herbs in a lidded container and pour the hot vinegar over them. Place the lid on the container and let it sit in a cool room for two weeks.

After two weeks, repeat the bleach water/rinse process with 12 sprigs each of fresh chives and tarragon.

Divide the fresh herbs among glass bottles, and pour the vinegar through a cheesecloth-lined funnel over the fresh herbs; discard the original steeping herbs.

IMG_7013

Vinegar strained and poured over fresh herbs in bottles.

Store the vinegar in the refrigerator for five-six months or at room temperature for five-six weeks. Though this vinegar takes a couple weeks to steep, it is super easy and looks really pretty in the bottle. Hello, gift idea! So far, we have used this vinegar on salads and vegetables and we really like it. I would not be able to identify the flavor of chives in this vinegar, as tarragon is the predominant flavor. I was nervous that the tarragon flavor would be too intense, but the vinegar is actually very well-balanced and adds only a subtle tarragon flavor. This is a fun, easy project and you could certainly try it with other fresh herbs.

Parsley Salad

The other recipe in this episode is for a parsley salad. Alton seems to feel that parsley is a very underappreciated herb that is often viewed only as a garnish. Here, though, Alton makes parsley the star. For the salad dressing, whisk in a bowl 2 T lemon juice, 2 T lemon zest, 1 t honey, a pinch of Kosher salt, 2 t of toasted sesame oil, and 6 T walnut oil.

Fold four ounces of cleaned/sorted parsley leaves into the dressing, along with 3 T toasted sesame seeds.

Let the salad sit for 30 minutes before serving. Since only two of us were eating this salad, I made half a recipe, which gave us each a proper side salad portion.

IMG_6847

Bowl of parsley salad.

IMG_6851I liked this salad more than I thought I would. Parsley leaves are a little tougher/chewier than other greens, but the texture really did not bother me. I found the dressing to be an amazing compliment to the parsley flavor. The dressing had quite a lemony punch, but also had roasted and nutty flavors from the oils. If you, too, are biased against parsley, give this recipe a go. This recipe truly did make me realize that parsley has more uses than I give it credit for. Plus, this finally gives a way to use up that last half-bunch of parsley (does anyone ever actually finish a full bunch of parsley before it spoils?), rather than throwing it in the trash.