my kitchen. see kitchen confession, nos.3-4. click on the pic for a billion notes on what you see.
i've been tagged by vivilicious, tokyoastrogirl, and squeezeweasel; since it is either the start of a new year, or the end of an old one, will try to oblige. i've decided to combine the too much information meme and the cold remedies meme into one big ole me me fest, so here you go!
1-2. when i get drunk i don't get silly, crazy, morose, or belligerent. i drink, then i drink a lot more, i almost immediately get a headache, and then it passes. (kevin the scottish doctor says it has something to do with having particularly active enzymes.) the last time i got anything close to stonkingly drunk was in my university days; i had a bad cold, the start of an even worse 'flu, so i made a hot toddy out of the juice of one lemon, 1/3 cup of hot water, and the closest thing i could find to whisky--100-proof southern comfort. drank it down, felt incredibly tingly, then numb, then really numb, then sick. really sick. sick as a dog, sick as nancy spungen, sick as watching the movie "hostel" sick. jackson pollock would've loved the patterns on the bathroom floor. i then rolled into a fetal position, asked my roommate to kill me, and passed out. i really hate to tell you this, but in the morning, i felt absolutely, unbelievably faaaabulous--clear sinuses for the first time in a week, throat blisters gone, fresh as a flippin' daisy. as a cold remedy, it was one of the best i'd ever had, but i'm not sure if the remedy is the hot toddy or being violently ill. i don't recommend either.
3-4. i designed my kitchen. i hate cooking in it, avoid it as much as possible, and cook in other people's kitchens whenever i can.
5-6. i am 5'9". my favourite pair of shoes have 3 1/2" heels. i like being over 6 feet tall, i like the air up there. my friend cyrano (6'2") finds it very, very disconcerting.
7-8. i once had a notorious murderer sit on my lap; he was very sweet to me. i once mistook a major film actress for a prostitute, and had a fantastic conversation; i probably treated her much better than i would've had i realized who she was.
9-10. i'm going to manila for chinese new year so i'll see you after that. i have no idea whom to tag, but i'd really, really like to hear something from the boys.
sadly--and i mean extremely so--i know more about pete burns than i do about robert burns (in my defense, "you spin me round" is a lot easier to understand than "auld lang syne"). however, i do have a soft spot for scotland (literally--i fell down a flight of stairs in edinburgh and i doubt i've ever fully recovered), and as january 25th is the bard's birthday (rabbie, not pete), i thought i would provide a recipe for anyone oot there who is planning on celebrating burns night. no, not haggis--which i don't have a problem with, by the way--but instead a dessert based on the traditional cranachan, which is double cream folded in with whisky and oats. my version has caramelized toasted oats and a verrrrra nice whisky folded into vanilla ice cream, and served with a raspberry sauce and a shard of caramelized oatmeal brittle made from the same stuff as the oats folded into the ice cream (shades of el lissitzky via franz ferdinand in the plating). i used a good quality store-bought ice cream, but feel free to bust out your ice cream makers, as most commercial brands are a bit too sweet for this recipe.
to pieman, bramble and p, melissa, pille, malcolm, judith, lisle, stephen, all the michaels and mikes, andrew, and all scots--honorary or otherwise--and of course, mr. burns and his much maligned haggis: i raise my glass to you. sláinte.
caramelized oatie ice cream
for the caramelized oatmeal and garnish:
1/2 to 2/3 cup scottish (or pinhead/steel-cut/coarse) oatmeal (i used this brand)
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1 cup water
for the raspberry sauce**:
2 cups frozen raspberries
2 tbsp sugar
**(i highly recommend, however, that if you have fresh raspberries, use those as a garnish and skip this sauce)
1 gallon high-quality vanilla ice cream, slightly softened (or make your own with a reduced amount of sugar)
a good quality whisky, to taste (i used 1/4 cup but you might want to use less--be careful using more as it will hamper re-freezing efforts)
toast the oatmeal in a dry skillet over moderate to high heat, swirling occasionally, until golden. this will take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. be careful not to burn the oats. set aside.
make the caramel by placing the sugar and water in a medium saucepan, and oddly enough, like the oatmeal, cook over moderate heat and swirl occasionally, until it has turned into a golden syrup, about 12 to 15 minutes.
add the oats to the caramel, and spread onto a silpat-covered baking sheet (or oiled/buttered baking sheet). use an oiled heat-resistant flat spatula to help spread out the oats as thin as you can manage. while the caramel is still warm, cut out shapes for the garnish with an oiled, sharp knife (or just break off chunks later when it has completely cooled) and set aside. allow the remaining oat mixture to cool, then place into a plastic zippy type bag and bash about with a rolling pin to break up the oaties into somewhat fine nuggets.
fold the oatie nuggets and whisky into the ice cream, and refreeze in molds or in a container so it can be scooped out later. i recommend doing this no more than 24 (oh ok, 48) hours ahead of serving, as the oats will get soggy.
make the raspberry sauce by cooking down the raspberries and sugar in a medium saucepan over moderate heat (do you sense a theme?), mushing them slightly as you go, about 7 to 10 minutes. run through a sieve, but add back a bit of the pulp for texture. keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.
garnish as desired.
for my first dessert made for the new year, i wanted to make something special, something that might set the tone for how my baking goes for the rest of year-- something different, yet familiar, adventurous, but classic. the last time i was at bizu in manila, i had a pastry called violette, which was their take on the classic french dessert mont blanc aux marrons. instead of using marrons, or chestnuts, the bizu version used the local purple yam, or ube, on top of an almond flavoured shortcrust base and some pastry cream. i have to say, i was somewhat disappointed with their version, as it fell short of my expectations.
i did realize it was because i am not really a big fan of ube anyway. my grand aunt, apong iska, used to make ube jam, or halaya, that was simply a mix of the purple yam, sugar, cream and butter, but it was such a superior product, that it was the only ube i would eat. i was not the only person who thought it was very good--her halaya was the original tantamco's brand ube jam from baguio, and was highly regarded by many. when she died, the quality of all their products suffered, and i haven't really enjoyed halaya since then. time has passed, though, and my dad recently brought back a big jar of ube jam from baguio, made at the good shepherd convent (market man mentions it in his informative ube jam post). i took a tentative bite, and wasn't completely bowled over by it, but it was much better than most i'd tried in the passing years.
since i had such a big jar, i thought i would make my own version of the bizu dessert. i used miss chika's mont blanc instructions as a guide, but assembled it as follows: i blind-baked simple shortcrust tartlet shells (i used the dough from my pecan tartlet recipe), then piped in a generous amount of whipped cream flavoured with a touch of almond extract and folded into some of the halaya, then finally crowning the whole thing with squiggles of unadulterated halaya. i tried dusting them with some confectioner's sugar to emulate a white-capped mountain, but the sugar dissolved. i guess that like the mountains in the philippines, it's a little too warm for snow.
seared citrus-miso marinated scallops, served on a bed of steamed black sticky rice. i found some yuzu-flavoured miso at the market, and didn't really know what to do with it, so i poked the web a bit, found an interesting scallop recipe on leite's culinaria, and improvised a marinade with what was on hand: a halfa cuppa yuzu miso or so, a few tablespoonfuls of bottled ponzu, a dash of sea salt. mixed, poured onto scallops, left them gazing at navel oranges in the fridge for a few hours. seared quickly, quickly, about one and a half, two minutes per side. added the black sticky rice because there's only red or black rice in the house right now and red seemed wrong. i'd never used black glutinous rice in a savoury recipe before, but was quite pleased with its nuttiness combined with slight citrus tang, the mellow misoeyness (i have no idea how to describe the taste of miso, or maybe i'm just too lazy), and the natural sweetness of the scallops. there's only so much sticky rice i can eat in one sitting, so it was more of a starter than a meal. a rather indulgent one at that.
it's beginning to look a lot like spring here on the island. how can i tell? two less days of rain a week, and sunrises come about six to seven minutes before six a.m. not after; sunsets are six or seven minutes after six p.m., not before. ah, yes, life on the equator or thereabouts.
i was foraging at my local japanese market, and came across a plastic packet simply labelled "eatibile herbs" containing a bunch of greens and some baby radish and a teeny tiny turnip. i picked one up, hoping i'd figure out what to do with it later. i found out their significance as nanakusa on amy's blog, a day too late. japanese tradition calls for one to eat nanakusa-gayu, a rice porridge mixed with nanakusa, the seven herbs of spring, on the seventh day of the year to help ward off evil spirits and promote good health and longevity. with the "interesting" year i'm having (as in the chinese saying "may you live in interesting times"--a threat if i ever heard one), i calculated that it was morning of the previous day in albania, so i could follow the tradition, even if it really wasn't my own, and hopefully reap the benefits. yes, yes, i know. my naturally superstitious nature is rearing its suspicious head, but having just heard that one of my uncles was visited last night by one of my other uncles (who died two years ago), and that my previously drop dead gorgeous aunt presently just dropped dead--i'm not taking any chances.
i followed amy's recipe from the previous year, and included the optional eggs. i found it to be rather simple and elegant tasting--a very clean rice-iness, a bit of saltiness, and indefinable herbiness that seemed more "green" than anything else. although i have been eating quite healthfully these days, this also felt quite cleansing, which perhaps is something i need. wipe the slate and start anew. look forward to the spring.
...didn't get the joke.
...probably just realized the joke was on him and is seriously pissed off.
...is the last one eaten.
>sigh< i'm tryin' here, people!
this is mainly because of discussion from the holidays, and because it's kinda pretty. la vache qui rit/the laughing cow "party cubes". because even soft cheeselike products need to celebrate every now and again. i have never been a big fan of laughing cow products, but neither have i shunned them. however, i have always been more in favour of the little foil wrapped cubes over the wedges, mainly because there's only so much cheese i can take, and because as i child i thought of them as being a rawther glamoo sort of party cocktail food. today i think "who the **** has laughing cow party cubes at their party and do they find little bits of foil and red plastic string shoved down into their sofa cushions weeks later?" however, the powers that be seem to be playing into my childhood notion as now the cubes come in some fairly funky flavours: bleu cheese (blue), green peppercorn (green), french onion (orange), smoked ham (pink), sundried tomato (red), mushroom (brown). maybe not so much funky as seventies throwback, but which passes, passed for funky. in 2002-2003. note, too, the jordi labanda-esque illos on the tiny squares. also quelle funky in 2002-2003. however, i give the cow people an allowance, as the packaging really did draw my eye to it, i do buy it on a fairly regular basis. if i think about it the cow people actually were quite smart about this as it appeals to an interesting cross-section of consumers: those who are fascinated by interesting packaging (me), those drawn to shiny objects (me), those who have a penchant for "old school"/retro foods (me again), those who think smart and shiny packaging somehow equals smart and shiny life (okay, me, but only on bad days), those on the south beach diet (apparently the cow is an officially sanctioned snack), those who pretend to be on the south beach diet (these are full-fat cubes and therefore verboten), those who think that smaller cubes equal smaller consumption (ha!). the list goes on. as does the cow's laugh.
i still think jordi labanda has a lot to answer for, though.
bridget got that one right. restraining order, bomb threat, evacuation, false alarm (possible amateur porn with rubber gloves, eyyuuuuew), 'flu, food poisoning, familial spats #100,005-#100,012, icy stares, silent treatment, trangressions, accusations, earthquakes for two days. par, par, bogey, bogey, par, par. all a part of the holiday season in the santos household, i s'pose.
new year's day osechi--traditional japanese new year's day food meant to celebrate health, happiness, and good harvest. clockwise, from top left: tazukuri-teriyaki dried small sardines, date-maki-sweet omelet roll, radish pickle, kuro-mame-sweetened black beans, kazunoko-herring roe, nimono-simmered gobo(burdock root), carrots, lotus and taro, tamago-another sweet omelet, pink and white kamaboko-fish cake, and i don't know what those things that look like cherries are, because they're not cherries. ooh, wait, marzipan cherries. generally, the food is served in a four-tiered lacquered box, known as a jubako, but if you are lucky or patient, someone will have made most of your osechi at home, with a gorgeous presentation. i picked this up at my local japanese deli.
this was my first time to buy a jubako (mine is made from plastic and styrofoam), but i was familiar with most of the food items in the tray. everything tended to be sweet or salty, as traditionally the items were preserved with either salt or sugar or both, and were meant to be eaten throughout the day, so they had to have a certain amount of longevity. the only thing i hadn't had before was the date-maki, which was more like a castella sponge cake roll than an omelet, and the kazunoko. i nibbled a bit on the herring roe, but it was quite salty and fishy. and then i remembered it probably was in the box as a symbol of fertility, and being the >cough< merry spinster of the parish so to speak, i hastily removed it to the top of the "fortune" i received in a cookie: your mother is spreading vicious rumors about you. i'm sure the omelet rolls also symbolized fertility, but i liked them more. and i was hungry. scrambled eggs and french euphemisms be damned--i scarfed them down. the black beans looked like weird dyed favas but were creamy and sweet, the kamaboko chewy and sweet, the stewed root veggies earthy and you guessed it, sweet.
this was rather enjoyable, but now that i've seen other great, homemade, osechi dishes, i may have to try making them next year. maybe staying in the kitchen might be a good idea, anyway. i've got big knives in there.