The quince is blooming and the crocuses are up! I am planning the garden and new menu ideas for 2012.
Everyone loves Guinness and corned beef this time of year! I like to make my own brisket and this year is no different. Over time, I have perfected the brine for the brisket. I like the second cut since it has more marbling and therefore more flavor. In the stores, there is usually a choice between the flat or point cut. The flat cut is leaner, but the point cut, the second cut, has a bit of extra fat called the deckel.
My dear friend Joan Nathan is bringing her 98 year-old Jewish mother to my house for St. Patrick’s Day (everyone finds their 'inner-Irish' this time of year). Her mother has been cooking a brisket yearly for a long time so I want this one to be super delicious. Start with a grass fed brisket if you can! Here is my recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage.
I continue to experiment with Indian spices and recipes. I've included a Vegetable Samosa recipe I'm planning on serving at the Farmer’s Market. I have also developed a Cilantro Mint Chutney to serve with the samosas.
A friend emailed me about having a bitter flavor to her curry, and asked what she should do. “Sounds like you overcooked the spices”, I responded. Sometimes it is easy to "burn" the spices when you heat them in oil. They can become bitter from overcooking. If the powder itself is bitter then it is possible that the spices were over-roasted. In India they do not grind the spices first. They roast them whole and then add to a dish whole or they are crushed with a small rolling pin - they are crushed rather than ground. These spices are cooked longer, which prevent bitterness, but boy is that a mouthful of flavor!!! It is not unusual to suck on whole cloves or cinnamon sticks in India. “You could try coconut or even sugar and also a bit of acid to cut the bitterness”, I suggested. She wrote back and said the coconut milk helped as did a bit of sugar and salt.
After a bit of research, I found this suggestion on ehow.com:
*For overcooked curry spices that have become bitter; add salt and sugar to the curry sauce in equal portions, 1 tsp. at a time until balance is achieved. Salt brings out the natural sweetness of curry spice and the sugar will help balance the saltiness and bitterness. If, after two or three additions, the curry is still bitter, proceed to the next step -
*Blend in coconut milk, coconut cream, yogurt or sour cream, 1/4 cup at a time, tasting after each addition. If after three additions, the curry is still bitter, proceed to the next step -
*Add 1/4 tsp. of ground coriander seed or root to the curry sauce and the juice of one lime. Blend this together well and taste it. If the curry is still too bitter, it is likely that the curry blend is too overcooked to be salvaged.
Anyone who knows me, knows I love tea. A dear friend, a chef, stopped over yesterday, and of course I offered him a pot of Pu-erh Tea. His eyes lit up when I mentioned pu-erh, and he announced that he and his wife were able to stop drinking coffee because of pu-erh. It is a strong caffeinated tea, but it also has many of the flavors of a good coffee, although I would not say that it tastes anything like coffee. The best part of pu-erh is the amazing health benefits - you can also use it again and again without bitterness and it maintains its flavors. My son likes the Coconut Cacao Pu-erh. When I am not drinking pu-erh, I love Blooming Bliss. This Jasmine Bloom sparks the senses of sight, aroma and flavor. A big delight!
I have this ongoing battle with my teenage son about body products. He buys deodorants filled with perfumes and chemicals. ME, who doesn't believe in deodorant, is driven mad by this! Naturally, he disregards my comments and concern for his health. Silent Spring is a web site where I have found articles and information to present to him. I encourage you to check it out - it is invaluable information and I promise that if you are using body products, you will certainly be encouraged to consider your product choices carefully. Silent Spring Institute launched the Cape Cod Breast Cancer and Environment Study. Growing out of a commitment by activists and legislators to bring rigorous scientific methods to the search for environmental links to breast cancer rates among Cape women, the Cape Study has become a national model for environmental health studies.
I’m taking crab cakes off the menu. I’m tired of making them and crab is no longer abundant on Martha’s Vineyard. I’m going back to what I love - a good old-fashioned cod fish cake with salt cod. I’m going back to the way it has been done for centuries and serving salt cod. I found a great little distributor who sells Pacific Salt Cod (Atlantic codfish is endangered), so look for the best cod fish cake on my next posting…
Until then, enjoy the samosa and brisket and porter! (but not together! Although the porter would be delicious with the samosa as well -).