29 July 2010

Wild Blueberry Pie

On our way back from Chris's conference on Prince Edward Island, we drove along 9 in Maine. If I might say, it's so much more fun than 95 (though neither pass much in the way of towns), and the best feature of all is that there are wild blueberry farms that you can stop at.

The one we chose to go to was Beddington Ridge Farms. Ron was pretty cool, his berries are delightful, and his price is phenomenal. It was $1.75/lb for self-picked berries. Given that a quart weighs a pound and a half, we made off with four quarts for just over $10. Really, really awesome. The only annoying part is how much debris you get with the low-bush blueberries. I spent a good 3 hours sorting those four quarts when we got home. Admittedly, we didn't have Ron run them through his berry cleaning machine, but that's as is. Completely worth it.

Now, for eating out of hand, low-bush blueberries actually aren't quite as good as high-bush, in my opinion. However! Wild blueberry pie is indescribably delicious. I am not joking. Not a bit. In fact, I'm filching all the blueberries I had in mind for jamming for more pie. So, here's the recipe.

Wild Blueberry Pie

6 cups fresh wild blueberries, rinsed and sorted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup flour, for thickening
2 tablespoons butter, for dotting on top

1. Roll out some pie crust for a deep-dish pie

2. Pre-heat oven to 425°F

3. Pour half the berries into the bottom crust

4. Mix half the sugar with all the flour and sift evenly over the first layer of berries

5. Drip the lemon juice evenly over as well

6. Add the rest of the berries, then the rest of the sugar

7. Dot with the butter

8. Add the second pie crust, trim, flute, and score

9. Bake for about 30 minutes, turning at 15 min if necessary

This turned out just a bit runny for me, so I'm going to use 3 tablespoons cornstarch instead of 4 tablespoons flour next time, but other than that, it's just so amazing that my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

14 July 2010

Venison Curry

It sounds a bit untraditional to me, since I've not heard of too many deer in India (though I'm sure there are), however I adore venison. Luckily for me, I was recently organizing my freezer and happened across some small venison steak strips. I recalled that this batch was a little on the chewy side, and what better way to tenderize some meat than stewing it in a curry?

For those of you who are still skeptical, let me wax a bit poetic. Venison is gamey and thus laced with the flavor of the land, it has the delightful mouth-feel of well worked muscle (think beef shank or goat or what-have-you), it's delightfully lean, and (and!) I get it free from my dad or one of his friends. Really, what more could I ask for in a curry meat?

As for the curry itself, I keep it pretty simple. Onions, spices, meat, yogurt. With a side of rice. And some naan. Delightful.

Venison Curry
serves 3-4

1/2 to 1 lb venison strips (depending on how much meat you like in your curry)
1 tablespoon of oil
1-1/2 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ginger
extra chili powder (or fresh spicy pepper) to taste
salt to taste
2 to 2-1/2 cups yogurt

(0. If you so desire, you can marinate your meat. I do this in one cup of the yogurt and some of the spices)

1. Sear the meat, then reserve.

2. Add the oil to the pot, then sauté the onions.

3. Add your spices and stir until the onion is well coated with the mixture.

4. Add the meat back in, as well as the yogurt (or the yogurt and marinade).

5. Let simmer partially covered until the yogurt sauce has reduced to a pleasant consistency, stirring occasionally. I know this is vague, but it really does have more to do with personal preference than anything else. I let it simmer for about 45 minutes.

Notes:

--You always want plenty of carbohydrates with curry. This could be a side of rice (white or brown), or you could put in potatoes, or some mostly cooked chickpeas. Really, curries are quite flexible. You just have to push the envelope and experiment.

--Another delightful thing to add to curries is fruit. Mango, especially. In this case, you want to divide the cut up fruit into two batches. Add one batch at the beginning. This will quite likely dissolve into the curry. Then, at the end add the second batch and cook until just soft (as in, not at all for mango, but longer for things like apple).

Naan

Flatbreads are fun. I really quite like a bit of a sour bite in mine, though, as you can tell from my previous Sourdough Pita. So really, aren't naan and I destined to be together? Well, perhaps not, but I am a fan. And it's quite simple.

What's not quite as simple is cooking it in the bottom of an oven, right next to the element, and keeping things going so that the oven isn't on any longer than necessary. Fortunately, that's easily solvable by having two sets of hands. One person rolls and brushes on the butter while the other keeps the one in the oven from burning. Then one rebutters and folds while the other is putting the next naan in the oven. Rinse and repeat. Very nice.

But don't let me keep you waiting.

Naan
makes 4

2 cups ap flour (I've found that I like to use about 10 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/8 teaspoon yeast
4 tablespoons melted butter, divided
3/4 cup yogurt

1. Mix together flour, salt, yeast

2. Pour in 2 tablespoons butter and yogurt

3. Mix until it comes together in a ball

4. Knead for 10 minutes on a floured surface, adding flour as necessary (don't shortchange the kneading)

5. Let rise for an hour and a half in a lightly greased bowl, covered

5.5. Put a baking stone on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 500°F

6. Divide into 4 balls and let rest and plump for 20 minutes

7. Roll out the naan one by one into 8" ovals

8. Brush with melted butter (side note, you can put herbs or garlic into the butter, yum!)

9. Bake for ~3 minutes, give or take, until beginning to brown

10. Brush with a titch more butter, fold and put in a towel lined basket

10 July 2010

Limoncello

So...there are a lot of recipes out there for limoncello. A lot. Not to mention, I'm only doing a small batch to test my method, as it were, so which one do I choose? So far, I'm not really going with any of them, but some amalgamation. I say so far, because I've only done the first couple of steps and now it has to sit. Some say that it only has to sit 10 days per waiting period, but closer to 45 days each supposedly produces a better, smoother flavor. I lasted 28 days for the first wait, and am now on the second.

Anyway, here's the mini-batch recipe that I've worked out.

3 large lemons, zested
250 mL (1/3 of a fifth) 80 proof vodka (and yes, that's a bit low, but I decrease the water in the simple syrup to make up for it)
7 ounces sugar (a bit less than a cup)
3/4 cup water

Once you've zested your washed lemons, stick the zest in a glass jar large enough to hold all your liquid, such as a pint-jar. Add to that the 250 mL vodka (I am using Svedka--relatively cheap but decently smooth). Then put it in a dark cabinet and let it sit. And sit. And sit. For hopefully 45 days. If you can. Certainly no less than 10, but the longer the more lemon-y it gets. And some people recommend shaking it every 2 or 3 days for the first week to week and a half.

For the second part, you put the water and sugar in a pan on the stove, bring to a boil (not too hot, lest you caramelize your sugar), and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. While this is cooling, strain the zest from the liquor. When the syrup is mostly chilled, add it to the liquor and put it back in the dark and let it sit again for just as long. Again, the longer the better, because it's supposed to produce a smoother flavor.

Honestly, our vessel of choice for the limoncello wasn't large enough for the whole amount of syrup. Instead of choosing a bigger bottle, we chose to do half the syrup into the lemon vodka and let the other half steep with the strained out lemon zest in the fridge (note that! unless you want to seal the jar, the syrup must be kept in the fridge!). As it happens, I used the syrup was used for other things (aka, lemon ginger cookies). The end result is certainly more similar to limoncello than lemon vodka, and it isn't ridiculously sweet, so that's nice.

At this point, you will filter the limoncello...or at least that's what they say. We actually didn't, and it doesn't taste like bath water as everyone seemed to be saying. It's a little rough, but that could be just because we didn't leave it alone in the closet long enough. I don't know why everyone seemed to be so against this, but some of the options that come to mind are that they didn't let the sugar dissolve properly in the syrup, or using all the syrup makes a significant difference, or even perhaps they let the syrup sit long enough to be contaminated and things tried growing and/or fermenting in their limoncello.

That said, there is another property that filtering might effect--ability to store in the freezer. Ours froze. Like I said, this may be because of not filtering, or it might be that we didn't choose a vodka with a high enough proof, or it may have been the recipe we followed. Regardless, it seems to be just fine chilling in the fridge.