Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mary and Vincent's Bread

©2014 John Houser III
Today is a snowy day in Baltimore and I have the day off. I was making cream of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for my wife and son when I ran across a recipe in A Treasury of Great Recipes by Mary and Vincent Price for herb bread that looked intriguing. The original thing that caught my eye was that the bread called for powdered ginger to be mixed in with dough ingredients but that it also called for "powdered chicken stock" (AKA chicken bouillon) which basically replaces the regular salt with a flavored salt. 

I was so enamored with the recipe that I immediately started on the bread (not to worry, my wife and kid were out playing and wouldn't be back for a while, they got their soup and sandwiches when they came in from the cold).

 I had to adjust the recipe to fit what I had in my pantry because I do not have powdered chicken stock but I do have chicken stock base with is reduced down chicken stock that when mixed with water becomes a descent substitute fro real chicken stock. I unashamedly use the stuff and fuck you for judging me. 


©2014 John Houser III
I also had to figure out a weight for the flour because using "3 cups" of flour will get you a different bread every time. The flour might be packed tighter of looser depending on how hard or light you scoop it so I picked a weight used for the recipe. Luckily for me (and you) it turned out a beautiful product. This way the recipe will be consistent every time it is baked. I also used bread pans that were lined with parchment paper for easier release (instead of greasing them). 


©2014 John Houser III
The resulting bread is a soft and luxurious loaf  that has a tight crumb, is great for sandwiches (I wish I'd have had it for the grilled cheeses) and has a faintly earthy and herb-y scent and flavor. The crust is even and thick with a fantastic crunch. Roast beef or smoked turkey would be perfect for it. 

I only have pictures of the final product because I never had any plans to put this recipe up but it was so damn easy, delicious and lovely that I felt the need to post it up. 


©2014 John Houser III

A slather of soft butter and a sprinkling of  Maldon salt and fresh ground black pepper made for a great snack. My son ate three large slices, crust and all (well.... he ate most of the crust). When I dipped the bread, just plainly buttered, into a big bowl of chili I wondered why I ever used cornbread. 

Cheers!


The recipe is after the jump. 


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Strawberry fields for about an hour

© 2013 John Houser III
We picked strawberries yesterday at Lohr's Orchard yesterday and pulled in a pretty size able haul. 11.5 pounds when all was said and done and it looks like a lot of berries in the picture but after washing them off they seemed to have multiplied like wet mogwai. These are a few of the phone pics I took. The "good" pics (from my camera) I'm going to save for the strawberry recipes to follow in the next few days. Requests?

Cheers,
Johnny



© 2013 John Houser III


©2013 John Houser III

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Kale floret pesto


Since posting my kale floret recipe last week I have made the dish a few times again. I still find it delicious but I had a thought while packing up the leftover kale mixture: "This would probably make for a good pesto base!" Do I yell in my head? Yep.

So the next day I put together a very easy pesto in the food processor. I served it over Cavatappi pasta (it's a fun shape) with a side of pan con tomate (recipe found here). If you were wondering the fresh clove of garlic in the recipe is to give the pesto brightness. The cooked garlic in the kale doesn't have that kind of punch.

The hardest part is making the pasta and, well, if you can't do that then get in touch with me and we'll start private lessons on how to boil water.

Kale floret pesto

Makes enough for 1-1lb box of pasta

1 cup of the cooked kale florets (recipe  found here)
1/2 cup washed parsley- stems and all
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup grated Grano Padano cheese
1 garlic clove- minced
juice from 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1- one pound box of shaped pasta (I used Cavatappi)

In a food processor, combine the first seven ingredients. Pulse in the food processor a few times to get the food starting to break up and mixed. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while continuing to pulse. You can keep pulsing it until it is smooth, but I prefer mine a little chunky (as you can see below).

© 2013 John Houser III

Immediately after draining the pasta, return it to the hot pot you cooked it in and stir in the pest. Stir until pasta is coated and combined with the sauce. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve while hot (hopefully with pan con tomate).

© 2013 John Houser III

Make it and let me know what you think.

Cheers,
John

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Kale Florets



©2013 John Houser III
I was at the farmers'market last Sunday in a terrible mood. I'm not the most jovial person in the morning and when the market is as packed as it was it makes me cranky. Between cursing people out for being in my way (why do they stop in the middle of the walk ways to talk???) and reassuring my son that we will be getting donuts I was out of sorts. It was at Latte da while getting tea that we ran into a friend who hipped me to my new favorite spring vegetable. "have you ever heard of kale florets?" I looked at her like she was speaking in Valyrian. I was intrigued. I had never heard of kale florets in recipes or even in passing while reading. I made my way quickly over to the Gardener's Gourmet farms stand (of course I thanked my friend before I ran away) and asked the guy behind the table if he was out. They were not out, on the contrary there was a huge pile of the stuff sitting there unloved. Walking away from the stand with two bunches of the florets (at $2 a bunch!) I was remembering my back and forth with the attendant:


Me: "wow, these look great! How do you cook them?
Guy: " just chop them, up and cook with garlic and olive oil"
Me: "sort of like rapini?"
Guy: "exactly slugger!"

Ok, he didn't call me slugger, but for how Pollyanna I felt writing that exchange I took a little creative license to feel better. 

So, I had a frame of reference on how to cook this mysterious vegetable and all I needed to do now was apply the flavors I add to rapini to the kale florets and see what happened. 

It turns out that kale florets taste nothing like rapini. They are much more mild in flavor (similar to broccoli) but with the crunch you get with rapini. Paired with garlic, spring onions and chili flakes the florets make for a fantastic healthy dish. The key to this dish is to shock the florets after blanching them in boiling salted water (the water should taste like the sea). Blanching sets the color of the florets and keeps them from turning gray. 


©2013 John Houser III
©2013 John Houser III

Kale florets with garlic, spring onion and chili flake
1 bunch Kale Florets- chopped into 1 inch long pieces, washed
5 cloves garlic -minced
4 spring onions thinly sliced
1 dry chili pepper crushed (or chopped) into flakes
Olive oil
Butter
1/2 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp ground black Pepper
Salt for blanching water (1/2 cup per 1/2 gallon of water)

©2013 John Houser III
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil (it should taste like the sea). Blanche the kale florets in the salty water for one minute then put them into an ice bath. 

In a pan (or the wok) over medium heat, drop in a glug of olive oil and a small pat of butter (1/4" thick). When butter is foaming add the garlic, onions and red pepper flakes. Top with salt and pepper. Cook until soft then add the florets. Cook florets until heated through and serve immediately.

2013 John Houser III
©
You could add pasta to this dish to make it heartier. Mix in hot pasta and add cheese to bring it all together. If its too dry add a little of the pasta water. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. I have done this with bow tie pasta and it came out wonderfully. Just remember to cook the pasta all the way through, no al dente bullshit. 

Find it, make it and let me know what you think. 


Cheers!



Update!

So since writing this I have bought more bunches of kale florets and made the dish again a few times. I have found that depending on where you buy the florets from they might be woodier than from other places. The bunch I bought over the weekend was way more woody that the bunch I bought last week. They were also taller so maybe the farm that I bought from last week cut them higher up to keep from me having to do it. To separate the inedible from the edible just treat them as you would asparagus  Try to snap the stem between your fingers. If it snaps, it will be edible, if it bends then it is too woody and you should cut them up a little higher. Remember though, you're never going to be able to get all of the woody parts out so don't go trying to kill yourself doing it. I have found that the cooking process does soften even the woodier parts up enough to be eaten. Here is a picture of the amount of woody stems I had to separate from the edible parts.


Check out the next recipe for what to do with the leftover kale floret mixture (if you have any).

Cheers (again),
John

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Price of Cooking

Hello boils and ghouls, how's it hanging? Halloween is my favorite holiday and although it does have lots of goofy culinary applications I won't be giving you any recipes this year for eyeball cupcakes or bloody finger ramen. This year my treat to you is the gift of Vincent Price, the master of horror who is known for being in some of the greatest horror movies ever and also for his rap and subsequent cackling on  Michael Jackson's Thriller. It's a little known fact about the Missouri native that, besides being a contributor and benefactor to the fine arts, was a terrific gourmand and cook book author.




Besides the books, which he wrote with his wife, he recorded many how-to auditory excursions that were a step by step instructions on how to make various global cuisines. Some of his recipes are now quite quaint, including ingredients like MSG and accessories such as asbestos trivets. Over all, the recipes are sound and the techniques he walks the listeners through won't be mentioned for another thirty years when the food networks starts up. 



Vincent Price also recorded many radio programs and for a while had his own show called "The Price of Fear" which spanned 22 episodes and were fantastic. Each episode was supposed to be a little slice of Price's life with the macabre as an ever present character. The episode I have linked to this post (specialty of the House) is a combination of his two great loves. It's a horror story that is based around food, restaurants and the gourmand experience. I love this episode and I hope you will two.

Below is the story which you can listen to at your convenience. 



  Happy Halloween everyone! Just in case you were wondering I will be going trick or treating with my son dressed like Wilfred. I bought that costume last year and bullshit if I'm not going to get a few wears out of it for as much money as I paid for it. Be safe and watch out for bag snatchers!

Cheers,
John

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hot Sauce

©2012 John Houser III
Peppers are super cheap and abundant at the farmers' markets. What should you do with them? Make hot sauce of course. Check it out here

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This is what I did with my summer vacation

Ok..... this what I've done for the past month and a half.

If you haven't been reading The Baltimore Sun Taste section every Wednesday for my "From the Harvest" then I would just like to say thanks for nothing. Now that you're good and berated I would like to tell you that it's OK, I don't mind that you haven't read my pieces but for fucks sake, help a brother out. Alright alright... I'm done with the tantrum, seriously, you can un-clench your butt cheeks. I still love you.

Now that we're done with the (made up) unpleasantries lets get to the round up of my last bunch of articles. I'm really proud of them all and if you haven't seen them I hope you find at least one of them will make you want to get out and cook. Most of the items I've written about are still at the farmers' markets so get out there and make some food. I'm really happy with the way people have been responding to the recipes as well as the conversations about food and technique I've had with people either in-person or through email. So keep the questions and comments coming. I'm here to help.

There's a lot going on and it's exciting. As always I'll keep you updated.

So lets get to it:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I should trademark the word "Cuketail"






The latest recipe from my "From the Harvest" series in The Baltimore Sun went up last week and it has been shared a lot. And why the hell not? It's delicious AND it has booze in it! When it's really hot outside like it is at this moment heavier drinks can just make you feel even more miserable. A drink like this is refreshing and not full of sugar (the simple syrup is just a vehicle for the powerful ginger flavor) so it can be enjoyed (over and over) at your cookout of choice this week.
A little background on this drink. My wife and I were in Barcelona Spain 2 1/2 years ago and the apartment we were renting was right around the corner from Albert Adria's (Ferran's brother) Tapas bar Inopia. Giddy with excitement for our second meal at this amazing tapas bar (we went two nights before with friends), we went there early knowing that the line would be long and the patrons crazy to get in. Unfortunately, others had the same idea and we were given a 45 minute wait with the assurances that if we went over to the bar across the street for a few cocktails, a staff member would come over and get us when it was our turn to be let in to Inopia. Never ones to turn down a chance to relax and have an adult beverage or two, my wife and I skipped across the street with hopes that the 45 minutes would fly by.
Xixbar was the name of the joint and gin is what they served. Neither my wife nor I were really big fans of gin at the time but when a place is dedicated to gin, you don't order whiskey so after figuring out what the recipes on the menu said, we ordered with thoughts still of the upcoming meal across the street. What was served to us were drinks as big as fish bowls, some garnished with rose petals and chunks of smashed ginger with others garnished with cucumber and lime. To say it was eye opening is a gross understatement. Needless to say we left that place fans of the gin cocktail and while we had an incredible dinner at Inopia, we wished they could run across the street and get us a gin drink. Throughout the week and a half we were there we hit Inopia three times and hit Xixbar four times promising ourselves we would try to recreate the great drinks we had there when we got home.



The drink at Xixbar. Notice the cucumber, lime and rose petal garnishes.
©2012 John Houser III

Sunday, June 24, 2012

From the Harvest to my brain and into your mouth

I've been writing a weekly piece for The Baltimore Sun called "From the Harvest" and for the past month I've got to tell you that I'm having a blast. It's fun and challenging to go to the market and try to come up with my next article while perusing the culinary madhouse that is the JFX farmers' market. 

Over the the past month this what I've come up with:

©2012 John Houser III


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Aspirational Asparagus

©2012 John Houser III

Big news! I am back to having a weekly piece in The Baltimore Sun! I will be covering the seasonal fruits and vegetables at our local farmers market. I'm really excited to tackle this pretty serious undertaking.
The farmers’ market has become a central part of food shopping for many people again. This time ten years ago farmers’ markets were considered a little too hippy-ish for most people. As the farm-to-table culture in cooking and food circles gained more popularity so has the idea of supporting farmer’s market. There are many farmers’ markets around and in Baltimore, most notably the Sunday JFX farmers’ market as well as the Waverly market and the new Fells Point market (both on Saturdays). Each of the farmers’ markets in the area share many of the same vendors but all have their own charm and personality to offer the patrons who come by every week to get their food. From early spring to late fall our area farmers’ markets provide us with an abundance of local and seasonable food produced by people who care as much about the craft of farming as they do making a buck or two. This is the reason for these articles, to help you navigate what is in season and more importantly; how to cook it. I have chosen to kick off my market guide by featuring the Grande Dame of spring: asparagus. Here's the link:


I came up with three recipes and I'm pretty proud of all three. Here's the line up:

1. Asparagus soup
2. Grilled asparagus in a bacon/ kimchi emulsion
3. Shaved asparagus with prosciutto and poached egg on toast