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November 28, 2010

Crispy Duck

There was no leftover turkey but there was a whole roast duck brought by one of the guests. I thought of some appetizer to serve the following day for the ones who stayed over. Something that might resemble Peking duck or at least taste like it. This is what I made for you too.
Here's the duck ready to be skinned roasted.  Cut skin lengthwise at the middle and insert fingers to loosen the fatty skin. When it is completely divested  scrape layer of fat with a spoon. You have to remove fat to crisp the skin.
 I use a portable turbo oven because you can drape the skin on the elevated tray to have an even crisp. You could use a cookie rack in your oven and it will do the same job. It should start crisping after 10 minutes or so. Check for doneness for it could burn easily. When crisp cut into strips.

Cut a square spring roll wrapper into half making 2 triangles. Roll each into a cone and paste the corner with a dab of flour and water mixture. That will hold the cone in place. Stuff the cones pieces of crumpled aluminum foil to prevent them from collapsing. Flatten them a bit to make them bite size and  brush them with oil generously. Bake until golden brown in 350 degree F oven. They should turn really crisp after 12 minutes or so.
The stuffings are the crisp skin and chopped duck, hoisin sauce and shredded white scallions. Brush a dab of hoisin sauce first inside the cone and put the rest of the ingredients as you like.
Here is the assembled crispy duck cone. Enjoy!

November 26, 2010

The Giant Fuyu Persimmon

This is a very large hybrid of the Fuyu Jiro. The Giant Fuyu ripens in November and is non-astringent. Dark orange color when ripe and has a delicious smooth texture. The tree has outstanding ornamental qualities when it displays its beautiful fall foliage color. Bright orange-scarlet fruit remain on the tree long after the leaves have dropped.  Grows so well in this neck of the woods. My neighbor gave me some just picked from his tree and what a treat they were.
To serve these huge persimmons I slice them into halves and cut into wedges to show their beautiful design inside.

These two were so beautiful I decided to quickly paint them on a 7x5 inches canvas panel to hang in the dining room.

November 25, 2010

Not a Seafood Burger

This is one of the vegetable carvings I did when I was invited to an annual celebration at an elementary school in Napa County where children and parents participated in a fund raising art fair. It was my  opportunity to promote organic fruit and vegetables at my booth that day. The mayor and wife had fun in the festivities too. Parents bought vouchers for a dollar each for the children to have fun shopping. The carvings sold out and some of the big ones were auctioned and given as prizes. It's rather sad that many children do not eat vegetables or even know how they look like. At least the carvings got them interested a bit. I let the children guess what the objects were made of and if they were right, I gave them a carved apple or orange. They usually want the pair to take home. Can you guess what the mermaid and her bed are made of?
 A true picture of health! Twelve bags of apples and oranges were gone in a jiffy!

Here they obliged me by posing for a Still Life.

November 24, 2010

Star Anise Chicken

This is a homey Chinese chicken dish that I like very much. I made it for you because I'm sure you will like it too. It is served mainly with steamed rice. Popular because it's so simple to make with very few ingredients. For 4 servings you need 10 pieces of chicken preferably drumsticks and thighs. I discard the skins and trim of any visible fat. Then you will need 5 pieces of star anise, 3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of dry sherry, 3 garlic  cloves and a nob of ginger crushed or pounded together. Two stalks of green unions and another one you set aside for garnishing. Last ingredient is 1 tablespoon of muscovado sugar.
Set aside the chicken and bring to a boil the rest of the ingredients together with half a cup of water for 10 minutes or until slightly reduced.
I take some of the solids out before I put the chicken to boil. After a vigorous boil, simmer for at least 20 minutes. Arrange them in a plater and garnish with shredded scallions.

November 23, 2010

Hasselbug Potato

I have seen so many creative ways to prepare Hasselback potatoes and I have always thought they were alive and moving. Well, I made one that looks like this.

 One can serve it with herbed sour cream or any preferred spice. This one I just brushed it with garlic infused salted butter, baked it and garnish with some chive and cayenne pepper. I want mine simple and creepy.
If you dare to make it, here's how. Score the potato lengthwise and thinly slice it all the way but leaving about a quarter of an inch thick as base. Fan it slightly and insert the match sticks from the scorings. It should start looking like a bug in your hand in no time. Enjoy!

November 22, 2010

Ensaimada with Marron Glace

My recipe is a spin-off from the authentic Ensaimada de Mallorca. The Emsaimada is stretched paper thin and smothered with lard and rolled with cabello de angel, a green spaghetti squash jam. It is also stuffed with many other sweet compote or cream and even with savory goodies. It's crusty when eaten fresh from the oven. Mine is more like a sweet brioche shaped like an ensaimada but just as delicious, I say. A first degree cousin to the Mallorcan one I must add. I should visit the islands again to see my relatives. This is how I made it.

Give the marron glace a rough chop, about a cup and set aside. In a small bowl heat a cup of water in the microwave oven for one minute. Stir into the warm water 1 1/2 packet of dry yeast, 2 tablespoon of sugar and a cup of unbleached bread flour. Let it rise to double for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile beat 5 large eggs adding 2/3 cup sugar. Beat in 1 cup of potato flakes, 1/3 cup of vegetable oil and 1/2 stick of softened butter. Add the yeast mixture and quickly smooth the batter with a stick blender adding a teaspoon of salt last. Then you can start stirring in 5 cups of the bread flour one at a time. Each time the flour must be blended completely. Start kneading the dough when firm enough but still a little sticky.You don't want it too dry. Knead for at least 5 minutes. Put in a huge bowl cover and let rise for 3 hours in a warmed oven. By the way, the mashed potato is the baker's secret ingredient for soft buns.
When doubled in size divide into 4 equal parts.Take one part and form a dowel of a foot long. Press and stretch on all sides to make an approximately 2 by 1 feet rectangular.
Brush the stretched dough with melted butter and scatter the marron glace evenly. Roll and coil the it loosely on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let rise again for at least 2 hours or when it has doubled in size. Brush the risen coil gently with egg wash. Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 16 minutes. It should be fully baked and golden brown by then. Brush top with melted butter, dust with superfine sugar, garnish with one marron glace and serve.

November 21, 2010

Designer Marzipan

I found my old Springele cookie molds stashed away in the cupboard collecting dust. I decided to make marzipan instead of hard cookies. I had so much fun making new shapes from the old designs until I ran out of the paste. Here is how I made them.
Quickly blanch the almonds to loosen the skin. Easy way to peal them is by rubbing one between your fingers to dislodge it.
Grind the blanched almonds finely together with the sugar. I use my coconut grinder because it can grind nuts into paste. For every cup of almonds I add half a cup of granulated sugar.
To the paste add 1 teaspoon or more of unbeaten egg white and some drops of almond extract for extra flavor if you wish. Knead it to a smooth but firm dough. I prefer this to the store bought that have too much sugar and fillers. To press designs you must dust your mold evenly with powdered sugar to quickly release the designer marzipan. Bake them on a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes or until desired color is done.

Here are the Springele cookie molds still full of powdered sugar.

November 20, 2010

The Pomegranate

The pomegranate is native to the Persian Plateau and the Himalayas in India. Later became a prized tree in formal gardens and court yards and the fruit was valued for its color and taste. The ancient fruit is even  mentioned in European literature during the ages as early as the 6th century. Now, it is cultivated around the world sought after for its juice and arils for the gourmand.

Introduced into Latin America and California by Spanish settlers in the 16th century. Here they planted them in the missions circa 200 years ago. Now, in November 2010, I got these at a supermarket nearby. They have only traveled a short distance from the San Juaquin Valley here in California still fresh and plump. I am always thrilled to open them to find hundreds of ruby-red juice sacs that are so gem-like.
This might just very well be Dorothy's matching handbag! Don't you think?
I extract the juice the same way I do an orange. I cut a portion of the big pomegranate and press it on to the juicer. I usually drink the juice but today I thought of making a nice treat for you. Pomegranate juice you can eat with a spoon. For 1 1/2 cup juice add 1 tablespoon of muscovado sugar and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Sprinkle half of the juice with agar-agar powder and set aside. Boil the other half vigorously and remove from fire. Stir in the rest of the juice to blend the gelatin completely. Pour in glasses,chill and garnish with some arils.

November 19, 2010

Stuffed Globe Zucchini

We call them globe zucchini and zapallitos redondos in South America where they are a native to and not Italy. It was however the Italians who developed the typically called zucchini many generations after their introduction to the New World. I find this variety somewhat sweeter and denser than the other. They are cooked in so many ways but in this part of the globe we love to stuff and bake them. They are a Summer squash but I get them at huge supermarket in Berkeley where you can find virtually any organic produce anytime. I usually carve them before baking to embellish their already beautiful shape.

I hollow the zucchini and give them a quick broil for that grilled vegetable flavor. Then I fill them with any savory dish previously cooked for the day. I had leftover paella and it was just perfect. The zucchini  are baked or steamed with your raw stuffing or you can cook them separately. Have fun creating your favorite globe zucchini recipe!

Art is in the Kitchen

Art is in the Kitchen
Arthur Escoto

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Napa, California, United States