Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mobay

So, I may have found a new cheese to put on my favorites list. I was in my neighborhood market today and noticed a few new cheeses in the display case from Carr Valley Cheese Company. I had not seen cheese from this producer in the area prior to today, but it appears they have been around a while, located in La Valle, WI. Seeing they were new to the market, I figured I would give them a shot. I'm glad I did!

While there were a few varieties available, one in particular, 'Mobay', caught my eye, as looked similar to a Morbier. Morbier is a French cow's milk cheese made up of two layers separated by a fine layer of ash. Traditional Morbier is made from two milkings, evening and morning, though modern Morbier is made from single milk lots. Morbier was originally created from the practice of cheese makers taking the leftover remaining curds from the day's Gruyere de Comte production. At the end of the day, when there were leftover curds, the were placed in a mold and covered with ash to protect them. The next morning, that layer was covered with fresh curds from the morning's to complete the cheese.

Carr Valley's Mobay is an interesting take on Morbier as it utilizes sheep's milk in one layer, and goat's milk in the other, with a layer of grape vine ash seperating the two. On their website, Carr Valley describes the flavor as "delicate and rustic", though I thought there was much more to comment on.

The cheese is quite complex when both layers are eaten together as a single slice. The goat cheese layer gives a clean, waxy note, similar to a young goat Gouda, while the sheep's milk layer adds earthy, nutty flavors with a slight tartness, and a light phenolic finish.

I think this cheese would be a great medium strength cheese for a cheese plate, or when you just want something really tasty to snack with fruit or crackers.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Quick dinner - what's on hand?

Finding myself alone for dinner tonight, and not too inspired to go out or get creative with cooking for one, I decided to keep it on the simple side. For some strange reason, I had been thinking of Mexican food all day, and thought that the theme should carry into tonight's dinner. Not wanting to go and grab a bunch of ingredients from the market, I decided to do a bit of fridge and freezer clean out and work with what I had in-house.

What I found:

Partial bunch of cilantro
Frozen Shrimp
Whole Lime
Cojita Cheese
Corn Tortillas
Prepared Refrigerated Salsa (we use a fresh variety from San Juan Salsa Co.)


My creation:

Achiote Shrimp Tacos



Recipe for one person (amounts can be doubled, etc. for more people):

  • 1/4 # frozen shrimp, thawed, drained and chopped into 1/8 - 1/4" pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp oil (canola, olive, etc)
  • 1 tbsp Achiote paste
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Juice from 1/2 lime, and 2-3 sliced lime wedges
  • 1/8 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup crumbled Cojita cheese
  • Salsa

Mix the shrimp, garlic, oil, achiote paste, sugar, lime juice, cumin, and salt together and set aside. This should form a slurry-like thin paste.

For the shrimp - Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat, and drop in a scant amount of oil.

For the tortillas - heat a small skillet over medium low heat.

Heat the tortillas in the small skillet, a couple of minutes each side, just enough to warm them through (make sure not to burn them, or dry them out). Wrap hot tortillas in a towel and place into a bowl, or a tortilla warmer, if you have one.

While heating tortillas, place shrimp mixture in the other heated pan, and saute until shrimp are cooked (5 - 7 minutes).

Serve the cooked shrimp on warm tortillas, and top with cilantro, crumbled cojita cheese, salsa and a squeeze of fresh lime.

What to do with Green Curry Paste?




Green Curry Tofu with Pandan Steamed Jasmine Rice

Recipe inspired by: Asian Vegetarian Cooking, T. Camsong and P. L├╝ffe

Green Curry Tofu

Ingredients

½ lb firm, or extra firm tofu, drained and cut into small cubes*
1 (8oz) can bamboo shoots, drained of water (I usually buy the ‘sliced’ variety when available)
¼ cup thinly sliced onion
1.5 oz green Thai basil leaves
3 kaffir lime leaves
2 small dried hot chili peppers, crumbled up into flakes
¾ cup coconut milk
1 – 3 tbsp green curry paste depending on how hot the paste is (recipe from 1/28/10)
A couple of dashes of soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup water
Fish sauce (Nam Pla)

Preparation

• Roll lime leaves lengthwise and slice into thin strips.

• Add about ¼ cup of the coconut milk into a wok or large frying pan and bring to a boil. Add onion slices and 1 tablespoon of the curry paste. Allow to cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

• Add the tofu, bamboo shoots, lemon leaf strips, remaining coconut milk, water, soy sauce and sugar. Simmer over low heat for about 3 minutes.

• Stir in basil leaves, a couple of dashes of fish sauce, chili flakes, and another 1 – 2 tablespoons of the paste, according to taste. Remove from heat and transfer to serving dish.

(*Tofu - Drain water from tofu (usually sold in 1 lb packs) and cut in half perpendicular to the length of the block, and then cut one half into 4 equal slices. The tofu will be very wet, so you will need to get rid of this moisture so that it does not water down your dish. Also, properly drained tofu will pull moisture back into itself from the juices or sauce you are cooking it in, thereby flavoring it. If you need some ideas or tips for draining and prepping tofu, there are some here.
For this dish I like to cut the tofu into cubes, which can be done easily by stacking the slices together and then cutting 2-3 times across the width of the block, and then 4-5 times back across those slices.)

Pandan Steamed Jasmine Rice

Ingredients

1 cup Jasmine Rice
3 Strips of Pandan leaf
2 cups water
1/8 tsp salt

Preparation

Bring water to boil in small sauce pot with lid. Add rice and Pandan leaves, and salt and stir. When rice returns to boil, stir once more to ensure rice grains are not stuck together, reduce heat to a low and place lid on the pot. Simmer, lidded (do not stir or uncover) for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove from heat and let stand, lidded for at least 5, or up to 15 minutes. The rice will reabsorb any excess moisture and should turn out fluffier and drier if you wait a few minutes (I like to cook the rice prior to final cook stage of the Green Curry Tofu). Serve rice alongside curry dish.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Green Curry Paste

This past weekend I was thinking about Asian cooking and realized it has been over ten years since I have prepared a scratch Thai curry paste. So, today I decided to make a versatile green curry paste to use in number of great Thai dishes.

Here's the recipe from The Elegant of Thailand by Pinyo Srisawat & Sisamon Kongpon :

INGREDIENTS:

15 green hot chillies (couldn't find what I needed, so I used 3 Anaheim and 3 Serranos)

3tbsp chopped shallots

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 tsp chopped galangal

1 tbsp chopped lemon grass

1/2 tsp chopped kaffir lime rind (I used regular lime rind)

1 tsp chopped coriander root (I left this out, as I have never been able to find it in any markets)

5 black pepper corns

1 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp salt

1 tsp shrimp paste


PREPARATION:

  • Heat a wok or small pan over low heat, toast the coriander and cumin seeds for about 5 minutes (do not burn them), let cool and then grind them into a powder (I used a mortar and pestle, but a blade coffee grinder will work as well).



  • Add the rest of the ingredients, except for shrimp paste, into a blender of small food processor and blend until mixed well. Then add the coriander and cumin powder and shrimp paste and continue to blend until a fine-textured paste is achieved. (Should yield 1/2 - 3/4 cup).



      • Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator (can be kept for 3 - 4 months).




      This paste can be used in a number of Thai style curry dishes. One thing to keep in mind is to not add too much at once - it can be very hot, depending on the chillies you use.


      Saturday, January 23, 2010

      Apfel Kuchen


      What a surprise tonight from my wonderful wife! While I prepared Grilled Halibut and Coconut Rice, the kitchen was filling with the aroma of fresh baking. On top of tasting great, it looked so beautiful coming out of the oven that I couldn't resist snapping a couple of pics before we cut into it. Hope you enjoy!

      Thursday, January 21, 2010

      Bagel Dogs..?

      I came about these things by way of a post on Fed Up: School Lunch Program. In doing a little search on the rare species, I found these commercially available food oddities: Schwan's Bagel Dogs w/ Cheese.

      My question is - shouldn't they call them "Beagles"?

      Sunday, January 17, 2010

      Mid-January

      Well, it has been a while, but I'm back. Back home from a long stint working out of state, and finally back to my blog. Let's see how long I keep up with it this time...


      It's mid-January here and to my surprise the tulips are peaking out. Despite one round of temperatures in the 20's in early December, it has been a mild winter here in the Pacific Northwest. So as the rain and dull overcast days continue to reign over this part of the country, I am encouraged to look onward to sunnier, brighter days!




      As for motivation and making it through this gloomy season, I am not without a list of great things to do inside. Today I am finding solace in recycling some bones from last night's roasted chicken into a delicious stock, and also continuing my low-budget project of creating a small scale in-home photo studio which I intend to use to chronicle some of my future kitchen adventures.

      So after a trip to the hardware store for some supplies, my make-shift studio light diffuser was ready to go. Here are the first few shots taken tonight.














      Look forward to more updates and images as I try to hone my skills.