How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Monday, September 19, 2016

Not so much a recipe as a suggestion - Salmon with HabaƱero Mango Jelly

While enjoying our breakfast earlier this week we had some English muffins with habaƱero mango jelly and James read off the label

A medium hot jam delicious served with a variety of cheeses, livens up a sandwich or your favorite grilled fish or fowl

So when we picked up our weekly order of fish at Kyler's Catch I decided to follow the advice. We had a pound of wild salmon which I divided into two pieces and cooked on the stove top with bacon fat in our indispensable cast-iron skillet. It does appear that I am getting better at using the electric stove. I started the fillets on high heat, but turned it down to medium and covered the pan after the first few minutes. I cooked them on one side for about 10 minutes total, and then turned them over, and turned the heat to low. The cooked side was nicely browned and I spread about a tablespoon of jelly on top of each fillet, and continued to cook (covered) until they were no longer pink inside, perhaps five more minutes.

The label didn't lie. This was good. We paired it with a Malbec and had mashed potatoes as a side dish, along with the delicious bread we always pick up at Kylers.

It seems we have officially become regulars at Kylers. The lovely cashier asked after me last week when James went in without me, and likewise asked about him when I went in this week without him.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Favorite Biscuit Variation

It seems that we've mentioned Deborah Madison's Buttermilk Biscuits on several posts, but have been remiss in providing the recipe. This is likely because we've been enjoying these for so long they are hardly "new" to us. However, this week we did a few variations on the recipe, making it new again.

The recipe, as described in Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, calls for
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of buttermilk

First, I will point out that we almost never use buttermilk, but substitute plain yogurt instead. Earlier this week when preparing to make these I realized we had only regular milk (no buttermilk, no yogurt). We learned a trick once of making a buttermilk substitute in 10 minutes by adding some vinegar to plain milk. Alas, we had no vinegar either. (Our larder was indeed spare as we had diligently eaten virtually everything in both our houses before taking an eight-day road trip to drop our daughter at college in the mid-west).

However, I was not about to let the lack of necessary ingredients stop me from having my biscuits. I used a substitute for the substitute -a meta-substitute- lemon juice did the same job of curdling the milk as vinegar. I also whisked in a dollop of sour cream. My next problem was that we were quite low on flour, and I discovered we were short by about 1/3 cup. I considered making a smaller batch of biscuits, but then I remembered that James improved on our waffle recipe earlier this year by putting in some corn meal in place of flour (see the entry here) and so I decided to try the same with the biscuits. I sifted the flour and corn meal in with the rest of the dry ingredients, then cut the butter into it with a pastry cutter. The sour milk/cream mix was added to the dry ingredients and mixed. James took over from there.

I believe this is the second time we have used the Big Green Egg for biscuits. Thanks to the innovations Pam describes above, these were delicious! But thanks to my still-limited skills with the kamado-style grill, they were not beautiful. They look lovely in this photograph, taken a few minutes before they were done --
-- but they did not look quite so lovely as I scraped them from the baking stone. I had heated the grill to 500F, but had put the stone in for only a few minutes when I added the dough. I should have let it heat more thoroughly. The result was rather hot knuckles and a fair bit of batter left on the stone. By the time it cooled thoroughly, those remnants were quite charred, and the stone is soaking for a couple days as I write this.

The good news, though, is that the delicious biscuit tops had all the advantages of muffin tops.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

French Toast Variation

Today's post is a recipe of my own creation.

Most weekdays James and I have the same breakfast: one egg, an English muffin, a container of yogurt, and a glass of orange juice (every once in a while we take a walk on the wild side and mix it up with a smoothie in lieu of the yogurt and juice). On the weekends we are more likely to have something that takes more time to make (and eat).Today, being Sunday of a three-day weekend, we had a little bit of leisure this morning to make something special. Pancakes and waffles were out since I'd used the last of the flour making biscuits two days before (stay tuned for recipe) and since we'd been traveling recently, and had not yet fully restocked the pantry we did not have a lot of ingredients. I found half a loaf of whole wheat bread in the freezer though, and we did have some eggs, so I decided to make French Toast (and to experiment a bit with ingredients) so I made some additions to the egg/milk batter. I started by adding ground cinnamon and nutmeg (but that was really not new), and I had also noticed that I had a small container of "pumpkin spice" vinegar in the cupboard, so I added a dash of that as well. I also put in a dollop of sour cream and whisked everything well, then soaked the bread slices. I am still adjusting to using the electric stove at our beach house, but I seem to be doing better. I cooked these on a medium high heat for what appears to have been an appropriate amount of time (but I couldn't say now what that was) as the French Toast came out neither burnt, nor soggy. It also had a a nice little puffiness to it. Topped with maple syrup it was a tasty treat for the first cool morning of the season.