Notes from a Vintage Chef II

Sep 10

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Don’t you just love to cook with all of the fresh vegetables that are available during the summerBee on flower growing season?

I am the fortunate recipient of friend’s overflowing gardens, travel to many of the Portland areas many farmers markets, and occasionally take a trip straight to the source………the farms that give us that wonderful Oregon bounty.

I am reminded of the fact we would not have any of this is it weren’t for the noble bee. This remarkable insect goes about it’s job with determination; tirelessly visiting blossoms and spreading golden pollen between fruits and vegetables. We hardly ever pay any attention to them unless one is pesky buzzing around us because we are impeding the diligent insect’s rounds.

I think about the myriad of recipes that I have accumulated over   these last 50 years that have featured honey as the key ingredient. Recipes that do not use honey just as a sweetening agent but are the key element of the dish. Glazes for a luscious pork roast, a delicious holiday ham, homemade BBQ sauces and so on. Below is a recipe for one of my favorites. I have served it often as a spread for a cold pork sandwich, with left-over Thanksgiving dark meat turkey pieces on hearty dark rye bread, as a zesty and unique dip for crudites, or to spread liberally on a good quality French bread with freshly grated Parmigiana-Reggiano then run under a hot broiled until delicious and bubbly. This is a bit of a different take on a crusty bread to serve with any Italian-sauced pasta you are enjoying. I top chilled hard boiled eggs i serve with cold herring in wine sauce, slices of tart Granny Smith apples, and a good quality Italian Gorgonzola blue cheese. Don’t forget a couple of glasses of good chilled Moscato di Canelli.

DELICIOUS and ZESTY MUSTARD and HONEY DIP/SPREAD:

*One cup Dijon mustard  *One cup local honey *One cup of Colman’s dry mustard  Reconstituted with room temperature water (Making sure it is the same consistency as the Dijon mustard) Mix all together well until smooth. Let set refrigerated for 1 hour. **NOTE-Will keep refrigerated for 3 -4 weeks.

TODAY’S COOKING and FOOD TIPS : I learned about simple salad dressings from Chef Bernard Epstein at Le Tonneau in Corte Madera-Marin County north of San Francisco. Three parts good wine vinegar, one part quality olive oil, a generous dollop of Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Mix well and you are ready to go. I have found over the years that a amount of honey smooths out the dressing and doesn’t detract from the zest and body of the dressing. Whatever application you serve it with is sure to be enhanced. The fun as a food-loving cook is trying it with various vinegar, added herbs or seasonings. My go-to addition is finely chopped shallots or garlic.

GARLIC or ONION SALT: PLEASE!!!!!!! If you have either of these seasonings in your kitchen cabinet, toss them out immediately. The same goes for garlic and onion powder(although these are not quite so bad). These insipid items often include sugar, flour or caking agents along with salt. You always want to be in control of salt when you are cooking. Instead, go out and buy granulated garlic and granulated onion. The process used is a simple one. They dehydrate the garlic and onion slowly, then grind it into a fine powder. Has a long shelf life if kept in a cool, dry place in a sealed container. It seems every time I am making a big pot of beef or chicken vegetable soup, or a braised meat dish, when I taste it for seasoning, the mixture needs some extra oomph. I just add a bit of granulated onion, or garlic, and the body and flavor of the bubbling pot comes zooming to my taste buds.

DOES THIS BUG YOU? I watch the cooking shows on various channels and I see, time and time again, the person  chopping hot chilies on a cutting board. Then they grab an orange, or some asparagus, or perhaps a fresh tomato and continue cutting. Common sense tells me the at fruit or vegetable with have residual heat from the chilies. Next time you think of it, see if you see what I do. Maybe the TV producer is having them do this for continuity. Fine……..but they are cooking for people who will follow everything they do. Really! Hot chilies flavors in my fruit salad? Not something I want to eat. In my restaurants, whether mine or one I was managing, my rule was use a different cutting board so cross contamination did not take place. They make different color composite boards. Using both sides as needed: White for fruits and vegetables (not onions) Green for vegetables like onions, garlic, broccoli etc.. Red for all peppers. These boards are easily labeled with a permanent marker for insurance.

YUM FACTOR: In the spirit of the end of summer revisited, peeled cantaloupe and watermelon, sprinkle a pinch of good flake salt for that extra flavor. Visit The Meadow in Portland, Oregon for a complete selection of the worlds varieties of salt.

“If you must eat crow make sure it has a good sauce” Ross Pullen 1972                       Ross and the Curried Vegetables

 

 

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