Friday, August 30, 2013

Consumed with Corningware

In case you have not noticed, I have been a little MIA as of late.   There has been cooking and baking going on, but there has also been an extreme lack of time for writing and picture modifying and such. 

What it really boils down to, is that I have finally found the limit as to what I am capable of pumping out blog-wise.  Having 2 blogs makes things a little rough, for when one is being nourished with tasty recipes, the other one is starving.   At this point, it has been Culinary Alchemy that is suffering in lieu of Corningware411 posts on patterns, pieces and food. 

Not to mention my first ever Vintage Corningware Giveaway (that was a fun experience).

So if you are not following Culinary Alchemist on Facebook, to which all Corningware411 posts are also funneled, here are some of the things I have been Cookin' Up, Old School.

As you can see, there has been definite cooking happening, just not enough time to post on both sites. 

Because Corningware411 is still a fledgling blog and over 50% of the posts are regarding patterns produced by Corning Consumer Products Division over the years, I feel that it needs to be fed more diligently at the moment than Culinary Alchemy, which encompasses a substantial body of work already. 

Because of this, I am going to put Culinary Alchemy on hiatus for the next couple of months... I will be back in full swing by November, when the Holidays begin.  This is not to say that I will not be posting at all over the next couple of months, but they will be infrequent at best.  I will be occasionally posting links to Corningware411 recipes, but be forewarned, they will be extremely Vintage Corningware-centric.  LOL

I would like to thank all the readers out there for your support and interest in Culinary Alchemy.  I would also like to thank you for your patients while I try to  figure out how to divide my time more effectively between the two blogs.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Me, Myself and Indian Cuisine - White Mushrooms (Kumbh)

So, the other day I was thinking to Myself, "Self, you never cook anything from India".  Normally, and I use that term loosely, when "I" think to "Myself", Myself ends up traveling down some strange culinary rabbit hole leaving unsuspecting "Me" sitting in the aftermath thinking, "Whahappened?"   Yes, when "I" think to "Myself" it begins to worry "Me".

But Me being Me, the more inclusive of the three and spurred by some desperate need for "Self" preservation, as well as being more detail oriented than "I" or "Myself", piped in with "Ya know, for all the array of spices and herbs that We DO have, We are always missing something to execute a decent Masala."

After which "I" thought back, quite simply and succinctly, "Chicken".

"Don't bait Me"

"I'm just sayin'... Though "I" could really go for some Mushrooms, Myself"

And there it was....   White Button Mushrooms cooked in Spicy Butter and Milk.  Simple, elegant, and not requiring a full pantry full of the harder to find ingredients like Black Cumin, Nigella Seed, White Cardamom, Fenugreek and Curry leaves (yep, Curry is an herb too, not just a spice mix) or Mustard oil.  All We really needed was the contents already contained within the panty..... Cumin, Coriander and a little White Pepper.

Honestly, this dish tastes better with Cremini, Baby Bella, Champignon, Italian Brown, Brown Button, Chestnut mushrooms or whatever the current marketing BUZZ word is calling them right now.  They are all the same.  The original button mushroom (Agaricus Bisporus, mentioned above by the litany of names) mutated in 1926 while being cultivated in Pennsylvania, resulting in a "White" mushroom.  At that point in time, white foods, like white bread, were considered to be more healthy because they were "Pure".  (sigh) As if.  Anyway, all the white button mushrooms on the market are decedents of that original Pennsylvania mutation.  Me, Myself and I really prefer the flavor and texture of the Brown ones though.  The white ones have a rubbery texture and seem to be, almost, slimy on the outside after being cooked.  That's just Me.

White Button Mushrooms (Kumbh)

1 lb White Button Mushrooms (Cremini "Brown Button" are better)
4 oz Unsalted Butter (definitely NOT low fat)
3/4 cup Onion, minced
1 tsp Garlic, crushed
1 tsp Coriander, ground
1 tsp Cumin, ground
2 TB AP Flour
1 cup Whole Milk
Salt to Taste
2 tsp White Pepper

Remove the stems from your Mushrooms and save them for another purpose.

Set the Mushroom caps aside.

Place a large skillet over medium flame and allow the butter to melt.

Add the Onion and Garlic and Sweat for 5 minutes, or until softened.

Add the Coriander and Cumin, cooking until fragrant.

Remove the skillet from the flame and add the Flour, stirring to combine.

Return to the flame and cook until the color darkens slightly.

Slowly stir in the milk.

Once thoroughly combined, add the mushroom caps.

Cook for 5-7 minutes, stir every once in awhile... (The mushrooms should begin releasing liquid to mix in with the sauce)

Remove from the heat and season with Salt and White Pepper.

Serve, over Brown Basmati rice.

Now if you will excuse Me, Myself and I need to have another chat.  :)


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Great Green Gobs of Guacamole - Avocado Soup with Shrimp

Have you ever had left over guacamole?  OK, I don't ever have any left over either.  But for the sake of argument, let's just say, hypothetically, that you did.  Wanna know something delicious you can make with left over guac?

A delectable cold Avocado soup which is even better when swirled with Creme Fraiche, dotted with Shrimp and sprinkled with Chives.  Sounds pretty good doesn't it?  Yeah, I thought so too, so I actually had to make a 2nd a batch of Guacamole just so I could make this quick and simple soup.  (Cause the other full batch didn't survive)  Honestly, it worked out better, since I dropped the Tabasco and Cumin from this second batch. 

Chilled Avocado Soup

1 cup Guacamole (about 1/2 batch, minus the Cumin and Tabasco)
1 1/4 cup Buttermilk
4 oz Ice Water
8 oz Clam Juice
1 TB Lime Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
Creme Fraiche
Sauteed Shrimp

Simply place the Guacamole, Buttermilk, Ice Water, Clam Juice and Lime Juice in the blender.

Puree until smooth.

Pour into bowls and swirl with Creme Fraiche, then place sauteed Shrimp on top.

Sprinkle with Chives if desired.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Buckwheat is So Neat - Soba with Asparagus in Sesame Tamari

Since I am making another cold Soba dish, I thought it might be nice to provide a little information that spawned my infatuation with Buckwheat.

First off, buckwheat is not a "Wheat" at all; it's related to Sorrel and Rhubarb.  Which is fortuitous for anyone who is gluten intolerant.  It's what is called a pseudo-cereal, meaning that it is not a grass, like Wheat, Rye, Barley, Corn, Millet and Rice.  Buckwheat shares this illustrious "pseudo-grain" categorization with Chia, Quinoa and Amaranth as well, which are all seeds of plants, but not actual "grains" per se.   The name "Buckwheat" more than likely stems (no pun intended) from the seed's triangular shape, which closely resembles the nuts of the Beech tree. (Beech-Nut is not just a gum brand)  The Dutch word for Beech is "Beuk" and the Dutch word for Wheat is "Weite" (since the seeds were used like wheat) thus you have what is basically "Beech Wheat" when translated.

Regardless of it's linguistic origin, Beechwheat/Buckwheat is one of the worlds most perfect foods.  It contains a high level of well-balanced protein and is high in the amino acid, lysine.  In fact, it's complement of proteins are just about as high as Soy, but Buckwheat lacks the Trypsin inhibitors, that interfere with your bodies ability to digest proteins, found in un-fermented Soy products (this is not an issue with Tempeh and Miso).  Buckwheat also carries a full compliment of trace minerals like Zinc, Copper, Magnesium and Potassium, without Soy's high Phytic acid count, that blocks the uptake of these minerals.

Basically, what I am saying is that Buckwheat (whose cultivation stretches back to almost 6000 BC) can do just about anything "Soy" can do, and it does it better. (that includes Buckwheat protein isolates)  It's higher in fiber, lower in fat and full of more phytonutrients than Soy (minus the phytoestrogens).  It's also high in the bioflavinoid Rutin which has anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties as well as assisting in controlling blood pressure.

To top it all off, when Honey Bees pollinate this cover crop, the honey produced is dark, sultry and delicious over pancakes.  A total win win if you ask me.  Especially since Buckwheat likes poorly fertilized, highly acidic soils and can be planted in fallow fields to control weed growth (smother crop).  After harvest, and tilling under, the plant matter makes the phosphorus and calcium more available to the next crop.

Buckwheat is believed to have been "domesticated" around 6000 BC in south eastern China, but it quickly spread to east to Japan and west to Tibet and beyond to Europe.  Pollen has been found in both Japan and the Balkans suggesting cultivation as early as 4000 BC.  Currently, Eastern Europe and Asia are the largest producers of Buckwheat, but most regions have some form of "buckwheat" in their cuisine.  Italy has Pizzoccheri and Bléc (or Bleons), Japan has Soba (Buckwheat noodles), Korea has "Naeng Myun" (buckwheat/sweet potato vermicelli), France has the Galette di Sarrasin (Buckwheat Crepe) from Brittany which may have spawned the Colonial American Buckwheat Pancake.  Then again, maybe it was the Blini in Russia that started the Flap Jack phenomenon. There are also yeasted rolls called Hrechanyky in the Ukraine.  Mostly, however, it is groats, the hulled and toasted seeds cooked in water, stock or milk of some sort until soft.  Known as Kasha, this preparation is the traditional filling for Knishes.

So much Buckwheat potential, so little time.

Soba with Asparagus in Sesame Tamari

1/2 cup Low Salt Tamari (not Shoyu)
1/4 cup Chicken Stock or Dashi
2 tsp Honey
3 TB Sesame Seeds, toasted
1 lb Asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
12 oz Soba (Buckwheat Noodles)
4 Green Onions, sliced

Combine Tamari, Chicken Stock, Honey and 1 1/2 TB Sesame seeds in a blender....

Blend until smooth (and foamy), then set aside.

In a large pot of boiling water, drop the Asparagus and blanch for 2 minutes.

Remove asparagus with a spider...

and plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking and maintain the bright green color.

Using the same boiling water, boil the Soba for 3-4 minutes.

Drain and rinse under cold water to cool them slightly.

Place Soba in a large bowl and anoint with the sesame dressing.

Toss to coat and allow to cool to room temperature, tossing occasionally to keep the dressing dispersed.

Drain the Asparagus and blot dry.

Add the Asparagus and Green Onions to the Soba and toss again.

Serve with remaining Sesame Seeds.