Thursday, December 26, 2013

1966 WDEC - Guava-Cheese Pie

Little blobs of guava paste provide small bursts of sweetness in the slightly tart guava-cheese pie. (photo by Joachim)

From "Greens" in the 1966 Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery I skipped a bunch: "Grenadine" (no recipes, just a description); "Griddle Cake" (a few recipes but nothing intriguing enough to be worth adding to the holiday carb load); "Grill" and "Grind" (again, no recipes, although "Grill" does have instructions for making a mixed grill that includes kidneys); "Grits, Groats" (although I may someday try the recipe for a pork chop and grits casserole); "Grouper," "Grouse," and "Gruel" (recipes that just didn't interest me); and Grunion (no recipes, but I do think that the excellent small west coast fish I've had recently may have been grunion).

This brought me to "Guava," which, I learned from the editors, is a member of the Myrtle family. I had promised to bring dessert to a party, so while I don't normally make whole pies I decided to go for this one.

Guava Cheese Pie 
(to make a 9" pie -- see cooking notes)

1 cup guava paste
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 eggs
1 pound cottage cheese (see cooking notes)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Dash of ground mace
One 9-inch graham cracker crumb crust

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Chop the guava paste into small cubes and heat in the cream over the lowest possible heat until only partially melted, so tiny blobs of paste are left. Put the cottage cheese through a coarse sieve. Beat the eggs well and add to the cottage cheese. Quickly mix with paste-cream mixture, lemon juice, and salt. Pour into crumb crust; sprinkle with mace. Bake 45 minutes.

Cooking Notes: I used Kefir cheese instead of cottage cheese. The kefir was already smooth so it was not necessary to put it through a sieve. Also, the kefir had a nice citrus taste already, so I decided not to add the extra lemon juice. The guava chunks seemed to take forever to melt, but they finally did. I used a purchased graham cracker crust, which worked fine, but I had enough mixture left over to fill a 5" aluminum tart pan, as shown. I cooked the custard alongside the pie for the same amount of time. It kept several days covered in the fridge and was a hit as a custard dessert for Christmas dinner.
Enough filling was left over to make a 5" crustless tart. (photo by Joachim)
In a nod to the Christmas season, I used a dusting of nutmeg instead of mace, and sprinkled it on over the finished warm pie instead of before baking.

The leftover guava paste can be frozen. I cut it into 1/2-cup sized (about 150 gram) portions and wrapped it before freezing.

Eating Notes: This was an incredible success--warm, cold, as a pie, and just as a custard. The guava paste is sweet but not cloying, and paired with the slightly sour cheese it was amazingly good.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

1966 WDEC - Southern Pork and Greens (modified!)

With crisped pork, Southern Pork and Greens elevates "poor" food to something the Flying Spaghetti Monster would be proud to serve his minions. (photo by Joachim)
From "Greek Cookery" the 1966 Women's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery goes next to "Greengage Plums ("a fine quality dessert plum, round in shape and greenish-yellow in color"). Not being a huge fruit fan, I honestly can't say whether these are available here or not. I'll keep an eye out and try them if I find them. The only recipe they give for the fruit is a plum Betty that looks fine enough but is really nothing special.

And so we get to "Greens" and a few recipes including this one for "southern" pork and greens that I used as inspiration to make something scarily good. Their version first.

Southern Pork and Greens

Cook 1/4 to 1/2 pound salt pork in 1-1/2 to 2 quarts water, or until tender. Place turnip or other greens in pot and cook for 30 more minutes. Drain and safe the liquid; this is the famous "potlikker." Chop greens. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Slice pork and place on chopped greens. Pour potlikker over pork and greens. Serve hot.

Courtney's New Jersey Southern Pork and Greens

Slice 1/4 to 1/2 pounds of pork belly with skin into 1/4" slices, keeping skin on. Cook the pork in 3-4 cups broth or water seasoned with salt to taste for 30 minutes.  Add one bunch turnip, collard, or other greens, chopping off only the very tough lower stems. Cook, covered but vented, 30 minutes more or until they are tender. Add a little water if needed. Gently redistribute the greens if needed so they cook evenly.

After the greens are done remove them and strain all the liquid from the pan. Add about 2 Tablespoons lard or butter, and continue to cook the pork belly, stirring occasionally, until it is crispy but not dessicated, about 20 minutes. While it is cooking, chop the greens, plate them and keep them warm.

Once the pork belly is crisp, top the greens with the belly and pour the reserved juices over the top. Serve immediately.

Cooking Notes: I used broth from the last time I made hog head, so it had a slight vinegary taste I thought went very well with the dish. If I were making it with water I'd probably add about a tablespoon of white or cider vinegar just to get that bite.

Eating Notes: O.M.F.G. These were the best greens I have ever had in my life. As a one-dish meal it was fantastic, and if word got out I'm sure this recipe would go on the list of controlled substances. I'm making something tomorrow, and I'm sure it will be good, and I'm equally sure it won't have us in raptures the way this did. We will add some black-eyed peas and have a fabulous New Year's.

Monday, December 9, 2013

1966 WDEC - Greek Cookery, Part 4: Giouvarlakia Avgolemono (Meatballs with Egg-Lemon Sauce)

Meatballs float in enough egg-lemon sauce to nearly make a soup. (photo by Joachim)
There is enough sauce in this dish to nearly make a soup, but it's good enough that I've no complaints!

Giouvarlakia Avgolemono (Meatballs with Egg-Lemon Sauce)
(to serve 4 - 6)
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh mint leaves or /2 teaspoon dried mint
2 tablespoons raw rice
Salt and pepper
1-1/2 cups beef bouillon
1 cup water
2 egg yolks
Juice of 1 lemon

Mix beef, onion, parsley, mint and rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add 1/4 cup of bouillon. Mix well and form into small balls, about the size of a walnut. Bring the remaining bouillon and the water to a boil and drop the meatballs into it. Simmer for 25 minutes.

Beat the egg yolks and add lemon juice. Slowly add some of the hot broth to the egg yolks while continuing to beat. Stir egg-yolk mixture into remaining broth. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes to thicken. Serve at once. Do not reheat.

Cooking Notes: I used a half-and-half mix of ground beef and pork and some homemade pork stock instead of the bouillon. I also used black rice, and had a fairly heavy hand with the onion, parsley and mint. My "walnuts" were also a bit larger than normal, more like horse chestnuts or something.All else to spec.

When I added the tempered yolks back into the broth and let it stand, the mixture did not thicken  at all. The eggs were not curdled so that wasn't the problem. I returned it to heat and cooked, stirring, for another 10 minutes -- still nothing. It probably would have thickened eventually, but at that point we were super-hungry so I resorted to adding a rounded teaspoon of cornstarch dissolved in a little cold water, which finally thickened it up after a minute or two.

Eating Notes: We loved the meatballs and the texture of the broth. The lemon I used yielded 1/4 cup of juice which was on the high side. I liked the broth flavor immensely, as it was really lemony and sharp, but Joachim thought it was on the sour side and that a half a lemon would have done the trick.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Thanksgiving 2010 - Courtney's New Jersey Saumagen - updated for 2013

Stuffed, crisped, and carved, the Saumagen is ready for the holiday table. (photo by Joachim)
When I told people I was having Saumagen - stuffed pig stomach - for Thanksgiving, nobody wanted the recipe. Their loss. I learned about Saumagen from Julie at Groff's Content Farm (from whom I purchased the maw), and later found out it's both a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch dish and a dish from the region of Germany from which Joachim hails. His mother, alas, did not have a family recipe handed down through the ages. So, after a lot of online trolling, I found several close variations. All relied heavily on potatoes or bread as part of the stuffing, which I wanted to avoid. They also used only pork meat. In addition to ground pork from Babes in the Woods, I had some lovely goat stew cubes from Many Rocks Farm that I thought would work well with the dish. I decided that Saumagen, like Frikadellen, could have regional variation. So. I used this Pfaelzer-Saumagen recipe from as a model, changing up the ingredients enough to call it my own.

2013 Update! I went to a pig slaughtering/butchering class where we killed, dressed and butchered two animals right on the farm (sponsored by PASA and highly informative!). I scored one of the stomachs, which I had personally removed from the pig and cleaned out. Unfortunately, I cleaned it out by slicing a long slit in it, but as it turned out it sewed up fine, as shown below.
I tied off the small end of the stomach; the large slit, which I thought would be problematic, sewed up cleanly and almost too well! (photo by Joachim)
For 2013 I cut many of the bulk ingredients in half and changed the spicing a little bit, as indicated.

Courtney's New Jersey Saumagen (with edits from 2013)
(Enough to serve a crowd, or give happy people bunches of leftovers)
1 pig stomach
3 lbs goat stew meat, cut into small cubes (2013 - 1-1/2 lbs pork stew cubes)
1-1/2 lbs blanched sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (2013 - 1 lb)
1-1/2 lbs turnips, diced (2013 1/2 lb potatoes, diced)
3 lbs ground pork (2013 - 1 lb ground beef)
1 Tbsp salt (2013 - 1-1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground marjoram
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
Ground bay leaves, to taste (2013 - several drops of bay oil)
1/3 cup diced onions
2 Tbsp fat for cooking

Special Equipment: You will need kitchen string and 8 or 9 lacing skewers (I know there's a proper word for them but I don't know what it is; check the pictures if you don't know what I mean).

Mix the ground pork, the herbs, and the diced onions and let stand overnight for flavors to blend. Mix with other ingredients. I had to use two bowls for this process, dividing the material equally. (2013 - I mixed everything together, stuffed and laced the stomach, and put the whole thing in the fridge overnight).
Packaged, the stomach does not reveal its shape and form. (photo by Joachim)

Rinsed and laid out, the stomach resembles a Christmas stocking. The top edge is completely open, as is the "toe" at the bottom. (photo by Joachim)
Wash the sow stomach thoroughly under running water and pat dry. It will resemble a Christmas stocking.
Tie off the smaller openings (the recipes I saw said there should be three openings in all; the stomach I used had a fourth small opening I also tied off) using lacing skewers and kitchen string (see Cooking Notes below).
The large opening makes stuffing the maw easy. (photo by Joachim)
Through the large opening, fill the stomach with the stuffing. Do not overstuff, or the stomach will burst.
Openings tied with lacing skewers and (for the "toe") kitchen string, the Saumagen is ready to go into the pot.
When this is filled, tie this opening off as well.
The Saumagen will float to the top of the pot and stay there. (photo by Joachim)
Bring a large pot of salted water (I used 3 Tbsp in approximately 8 quarts of water, or approximately 1 Tbsp salt for every 10 cups) to boil. Reduce heat and lower the stomach into the water. Simmer for 3 hours. Do not let the water boil. It is not necessary to turn the stomach.

(2013 note - I laced the stomach quite tight, with the result that it expanded so much it started to split! I had to poke a couple of holes in it with a lacing skewer to deflate it.)
At the end of 3 hours, the Saumagen is ready. The pot liquor makes a wonderful broth on its own, which will be the subject of a future post. (photo by Joachim)
After 3 hours, lift the stomach from the pot.
The Saumagen is crisped in a frying pan as much as possible before being put in the oven. (photo by Joachim)
Preheat an oven to 400F/200C. Heat the fat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the Saumagen and turn it to brown, as much as possible, on all sides.
Out of the oven, the Saumagen is beautifully crisped and golden. (photo by Joachim)
Place on a rack in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until well crisped.
Flecks of sweet potato add warm color to the sliced Saumagen. (photo by Joachim)
 Slice and serve. Leftovers may be sliced and served cold or fried until crisped.

Cooking Notes: I didn't have enough lacing skewers to close all the openings, so I tied the one at the "toe" end of the stomach. This worked fine in terms of cooking, but reduced the stomach's capacity. In addition, stomach sizes vary, and it's best to have enough to fill the stomach on hand (in an emergency, tying off the top with string, like a sack, rather than lacing it closed, would allow one to effectively reduce the size of the stuffed portion). So too much filling is better than too little. I had about 2 pounds of stuffing left over, which I baked for 45 minutes at 350 degrees in a covered casserole. It was fine, and can be reheated and used alone or as a base for stuffed green peppers or similar dishes.

(2013 update - as noted above, this stomach closed off more tightly than the last one, and inflated during cooking to the point at which I had to poke some holes in it or it would have burst. As a result, I think, of the surprising expansion, the insides, while still sliceable, were not quite as firmly packed as the last time. It still tasted great.)

Eating Notes: Amazing and far better than either of us expected. The smell, a wonderful amalgam of herbs, root vegetables and meat, filled the house and primed us for something good. Out of the oven, the golden maw was crispy and stunning on the platter. When we cut into it, though, we got the real surprise. The stuffing had compressed into a dense mass, very much like a loose sausage, making it possible to slice the Saumagen almost as if it were a roast. The ingredients and tastes were well blended so that the slight bite of the turnips, the sweetness of the yams, the varied umami of goat and pork, and the flavors and aromas of the herbs came together in each wonderful bite. Joachim didn't find the maw added very much, as it is a fairly bland skin and a chewy even when crisped. I liked the textural contrast and the subtle flavors a lot, both where the stomach had been well fried and in the folds that were not reached by the crisping process. These personal preferences worked to my advantage, as he graciously gave me the skin off his slices.

(2013 update - we had company this Thanksgiving, and it seems that I'm unusual in liking the actual magen. Everyone else left theirs. For the leftovers, I therefore cut off the magen into bacon-like strips and sauteed it until super-crispy and enjoyed it all myself. :-)  ).

1966 WDEC - Greek Cookery, Part 3: Vrasta Fasolakia Freska (Stewed Green Beans)

Green beans cook down with tomato sauce into a thick, rich stew. (photo by Joachim)
I needed an emergency vegetable dish when the weather was just icky enough that I didn't feel like taking a run to the market. Wanting to get back to the Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, I checked the "Greek Cookery" section and found this.

Vrasta Fasolakia Freska (Stewed Green Beans)
(to serve 4 - 6 as a side)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup butter
1 pound green beans, washed, trimmed and cut into 2" lengths
1 garlic clove, minced or put through a garlic press
1 teaspoon fresh mint leaves, minced, or 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion in butter until brown. Add green beans and saute, stirring constantly, until beans have turned a bright green. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes or until beans are tender.

Cooking Notes: As mentioned, this was made as an emergency dish, and I used frozen beans, running them under water just until they were unstuck from each other, and then sauteeing them with the onions for only a couple of minutes before adding the other ingredients (I did have fresh mint, at least). We were having red wine with dinner, so I used that in place of the water. Everything else to spec. The sauce cooks down quite a bit, making a very thick stew or sauce; the beans can be plated with something else without the sauce running all over the place.

Eating Notes: The dish had surprising depth of flavor, and nobody would have known the beans had not been cooked from fresh; they were tender but not at all mushy. With a bit of cubed lamb, chicken, or beef (or tofu, I suppose) this also would have made an excellent one-dish meal.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

1966 WDEC - Greek Cookery, Part 2: Sfougato (Meat Custard)

Flavors meld together nicely in the WDEC Sfougato. (photo by Joachim)
I'm not a huge squash or zucchini fan, but it's summer and they're in season, so I thought this recipe was a good one to try as I sample the "Greek Cookery" section in the Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery.

Sfougato (Meat Custard)
(to serve 4 - 6)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1-1/2 pounds zucchini squash, finely diced
1/2 cup butter
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon minced parsley
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper

Saute onion and squash in butter for about 15 minutes or until fegetables are soft, stirring frequently. Set aside. In the butter remaining in the pan cook beef, stirring with a fork, until redness disappears.

Beat eggs; add milk, vegetables, beef, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Place in a 2-1/2 quart baking dish. Bake in preheated moderate oven (350F) for 45 to 60 minutes, or until firm.

Cooking Notes: I'd intended to make a half batch but had a full pound of beef and large vegetables, so decided a full batch was more appropriate, but I only had 5 eggs so I reduced the milk to 1 cup to be sure everything firmed up. It still made a good, eggy batch. The mixture was a bit bland for my liking, and we decided that anything Greek was fine with plenty of garlic, so I added a large clove of minced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon paprika to the eggs before mixing in the other ingredients. Cooking time stayed the same.
Even with only 5 eggs, the casserole is large enough to serve 6 comfortably. (photo by Joachim)
Eating Notes: Even with only 5 eggs, there was plenty for 6 people as a main dish, although it was so good we would willingly have overeaten given the chance. We agreed the casserole would have been a bit flat without the garlic and we all liked the addition of the paprika, although extra pepper could have compensated a bit for that. The "custard" appellation was apt, as the dish was really smooth and creamy. The squash was barely distinguishable, a plus in my book. Highly recommended.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

1966 WDEC - Greek Cookery, Part 1: Garides Saltsa Tomate (Shrimps with Spicy Tomato Sauce)

Saltsa Tomate works well with scallops as a summer main dish. (Photo by Joachim)
In getting to "Greek" from "Grapefruit," I have passed definitions of "Grate" and "Gratin," and a section on Gravy that did include the interesting hint of substituting strong coffee for water when making a pan gravy, which I will try. From there past a definition of "Grease," and we reach the "richly varied cuisine of subtle flavors and seasonings" that typify the "Greek Cookery" section of the 1966 Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery. The weather has temporarily cooled off enough that a simmered sauce didn't sound too bad, so I started with that.

Garides Saltsa Tomate (Shrimps with Spicy Tomato Sauce)
(to serve 4)
2 pounds large shrimps
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
Saltsa Tomate

Saltsa Tomate
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced or put through a garlic press
1 6-oz can tomato paste, diluted with 1 can water
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Make the Salsa Tomate: Saute onion in butter and olive oil until golden brown. Add rest of Salsa Tomate ingredients and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

While the Salsa Tomate is cooking, make the Shrimp: Cover shrimps with boiling water. Add salt and bay leaf and simmer for 12 minutes. Cool by rinsing in cold water. Peel and remove black vein.

When te sauce is finished, add the shrimps, heat and serve. May be served over rice or pasta.

Cooking Notes: I substituted bay scallops for shrimp, cooking them in the same manner but simmering for only 3 minutes. For the sauce, I used fresh basil and a little fresh sage instead of the dried basil and omitted the sugar.
The sauce was very thick and needed frequent stirring to be sure it wouldn't stick or burn. (photo by Joachim)
The sauce was extremely thick, more like a paste, but as I had changed nothing that should have affected consistency, I kept it as is, being sure to stir fairly often so it wouldn't start to burn.

Eating Notes: Omitting the sugar was the right approach, as the dish was quite sweet from the seafood, tomato, and onion. While it was very flavorful with a nice garlic-herb taste and fragrance, I'd be hard pressed to call this "spicy," as it was extremely mellow with no sharp notes or edges whatsoever.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

1966 WDEC - Grapefruit, Part 6: Baked Fish with Fresh Grapefruit Stuffing

Grapefruit adds a subtle bite to baked stuffed fish. (photo by Joachim)
I think that with this I have tried every "Grapefruit" entry in the Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery that isn't so sweet as to hurt my teeth just reading the recipe.

Baked Fish with Fresh Grapefruit Stuffing
(to serve 4)
2-pound whole bass, bluefish, or other baking fish
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups toasted bread cubes, measured after toasting
1/2 cup fresh grapefruit sections
1/4 teaspoon grated grapefruit rind
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon crumbled dried thyme
Salt and pepper
3 slices of bacon
12 fresh grapefruit sections

Wash fish, wipe dry, and remove bones for easier stuffing and eating. (Split fish open and lay out flat. Beginning at tail, with a sharp pointed knife loosen flesh close to bone along one side. Turn; loosen flesh on other side. Then remove backbone, being careful not to cut through the skin. Pick out small bones.) Rub inside with salt and pepper.

Blanketed with bacon, the fish is stuffed and ready to bake. (photo by Joachim)
Saute celery and onion in 2 tablespoons butter. Blend in bread cubes, 1/2 cup fresh grapefruit sections, rind, parsley and thyme plus 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Spoon into body cavity of fish. Close openings with skewers. Place in buttered baking pan. Cut three gashes over the top to prevent splitting. Insert a slice of bacon in each. Bake in preheated moderate oven (350F) for 1 hour. Remove from oven and arrange 5 or 6 grapefruit sections over top. Brush with remaining butter. Place under a broiler for a few minutes to brown top. Garnish with remaining grapefruit.

Cooking Notes: I used a one-pound bass to serve 2 people and cut the recipe in half. The fish baked for 35 minutes and was under the broiler for 5 minutes. To plate, I pulled the skewers out and then removed the string with a skewer so the fish was still whole on the platter. After pulling the grapefruit and bacon off, I pulled off the head and tail and then cut the fish down the backbone lengthwise using a very sharp knife. A lifter, slid under each half of the fish, allowed me to take half the fish and stuffing at one go and put it on the plate that way. I then put 2 pieces of bacon on top of each, along with half the broiled and fresh grapefruit slices.

Eating Notes: The fish, bacon, grapefruit, and bread stuffing were all clearly distinguishable by both taste and texture, making a happy distinct mixture more than a homogenous blend. The slight bitter bite of the fruit was less intrusive than lemon would have been and the chunks of grapefruit were welcome palate cleansers between bites of dense, buttery bread cubes. In short, another grapefruit hit.