Why Flat Beer Makes the Best Desserts

Danish Chef Mads Refslund is the co-founder of Noma, one of the most prestigious restaurants in the world, but his first cookbook is about trash. “I had in my brain that my first cookbook would be a restaurant cookbook,” he admits, but his friend and co-author, forager Tama Matsuoka Wong, convinced him to pen something about cooking with wasted food instead. The result is Scraps, Wilt & Weeds, which shows you how to turn things like vegetable juice pulp and coffee grounds into pastas and panna cottas.

“I have always cooked with things no one tends to use because I always thought it was stupid to throw it out,” Refslund explains. “It is money that you are throwing away.” As a chef, he felt it was his responsibility to teach others how to use up foods — like cauliflower cores and fish collars — that are typically tossed without thought. “I think people throw these [perfectly edible] foods away because of a lack of knowledge — they just don’t know how to cook with them,” he says. Leek roots, for example, are trimmed off and binned, but Refslund believes if people realized that the roots could be turned into something delicious, they wouldn’t want to throw it away.

Paired against stark facts — nearly 1 billion pounds of uneaten lettuce goes into the trash each year — the book is filled with ways to turn what you definitely think is garbage into elegant dishes fit for a dinner party. Case-in-point: Refslund’s recipe for a satisfying dessert crafted from old, dried-out bread and stale beer. Yes, stale beer.

The dish is based on the classic Danish porridge known as ollebrod. Back in the day, farmers tended to live off of mainly rye bread and beer, he explains. “When the bread got a little bit old, they would soak it in beer, boil it, and add sugar. If you could afford it, you would eat it with milk. If you really had means, you would eat it with whipped cream.” Refslund’s version of the dish is gussied up with a bit of chocolate and salted caramel ice cream. Count it as breakfast or dessert.

Refslund says that you can use any bread you have lying around, but he prefers dark rye bread for its flavor. As for the beer, he is adamant you use one that is well past its prime. “I realized that when you boil beer to make any recipe, it becomes flat — so why not just use flat beer from the start?”


Flat Beer and Day-old-bread Porridge

Ingredients:

1 pound stale rye (or other) bread, torn into small pieces or crumbled (5½ cups)
2 cups flat beer, preferably dark beer or ale (less than 2 bottles)
1-3/4 cups sugar, half granulated/half brown
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
apple balsamic vinegar, for serving
salted caramel ice cream, for serving

Direction:

  1. In a medium pot, combine the bread, beer, and sugars over low heat and cook, stirring gently, for about 20 minutes, until the bread is softened and the liquid is absorbed. Add the cream and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes more, until it starts to thicken. Finally, add the chocolate chips and stir until melted. Remove from the heat and cool. Store in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled, at least 30 minutes (or up to 2 days).
  2. To serve, spoon into individual bowls, drizzle with apple balsamic vinegar, and add a scoop of caramel ice cream.

Recipe from Scraps, Wilt & Weeds.


Source: Thrillist

‘Khichuri’: An Ancient Indian Comfort Dish With A Global Influence

Rhitu Chatterjee wrote . . . . . .

My memories of eating khichuri go back to the monsoon seasons of my childhood, when billowy thunder clouds rolled in and soaked us and the parched earth with relentless rains. The monsoons are beloved across India – they are a much-awaited reprieve from several months of unbearable heat. But it can get chilly and damp sometimes – the kind of weather when you crave something warm and filling, like khichuri.

To make this flavorful, mushy, one-pot dish, my mother would dry roast moong dal (yellow split mung beans), then throw it in a pressure cooker, with some rice, a couple of veggies and some spices. Lo and behold, 15-20 minutes later, we had hot, steaming khichuri. Ma would serve it with a dollop of ghee (clarified butter) on top, and some spicy mango pickle and sweet potato fries (my favorite!) on the side. Sometimes, my father would make deem bhaja (a simple omelet with onions and green chilies) to go with the meal. And occasionally, if we were lucky, there would be a hot, crispy piece of fried fish.

I am originally from the state of West Bengal in eastern India, where khichuri is a staple during the monsoons. My friends from Bangladesh (just across the border from my home state), who speak the same language (Bengali), tell me they, too, associate this beloved dish with the monsoons.

But across South Asia, khichri (or khichdi), as it’s more commonly known, is a beloved comfort food for all seasons. It is “pretty close to [being] a universal dish” on the subcontinent, says Colleen Taylor Sen, author of several books on Indian food culture and history.

That became obvious to me recently when I asked people on my Facebook page to share their khichri story. I got a flood of responses.

“It’s a regular on my menu, usually [at] dinner time,” wrote Anjana Gupta, a childhood friend who lives in the southern city of Mysore, where we grew up. She makes a gingery khichri with moong dal and rice, and she likes eating it with yogurt and pickles.

A simpler form of the dish is a favorite in the western state of Gujarat, especially among the elderly, wrote Ananya Bhattacharya, an Indian journalist currently based in Washington, D.C. Called sukhpawani, which literally means something that brings comfort and pleasure, the dish she described is made by boiling together rice, split mung bean, turmeric and salt till the consistency is porridge-like. Bhattacharya’s grandfather ate this dish every day for dinner. “He ate this with a lot of ghee,” she said. “He’d also eat this with milk and bhurra (very fine sugar).”

In northern India, a bland version of khichri – no veggies, no fragrant spices – is comfort food for many. “In my family, it is associated with sickness or upset stomach or when you just want to eat something light,” my friend Niraj Kumar wrote from New York. Down south in the state of Karnataka, a tangy, spicier version called bisi bele bath (which translates to hot lentil rice) is a popular dish, even at parties and celebrations. And in the neighboring states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, a rice and lentil dish called nombu kanji is a staple during Ramadan.

“There’s an incredible variety of khichri,” says Sen, who owns scores of regional Indian cook books. “And almost all of them have recipes for khichri,” she says.

The different versions vary in consistency – some are dry, while others are watery or porridge-like, she says. There are savory and sweet khichris. While the vegetarian versions are more common, there are khichris with meat, too. For example, a dish called khichra has five different kinds of lentils, rice and lamb, says Sen.

Most khichris, however, have two common ingredients – rice and lentils. “Rice and lentils have been a part of Indian cuisine since time immemorial,” says Sen. Archaeological records suggest people on the subcontinent were eating rice and legumes (chick pea, peas, pigeon peas and red lentils) as far back as 1200 B.C., she says.

The Indian philosopher and statesman Chanukya (also called Kautilya), from 300 B.C., wrote that the balanced meal for a gentleman should consist of one prastha (about 1.4 pounds) of rice, quarter prastha of lentils, 1/62 prastha of salt, and 1/16 prastha of ghee or oil. “That’s kind of a khichri, isn’t it?” says Sen.

In 14th century A.D., the renowned Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta wrote about people in South Asia – especially the poor – eating khichri made with rice, mung bean and butter.

The power of khichri is its adaptability to different tastes and needs. “It’s probably the most adaptable dish [on the subcontinent],” says Sen. “It can be a very simple dish that poor people eat … or it can be very elaborate.” Elaborate enough to be fit for kings, or in this case, emperors.

A recipe from the court of Akbar, the 16th century Mughal emperor, calls for equal parts of lentils, rice and ghee, says Sen. “Very rich!”

A sweet khichri recipe she found in a book on the famously elaborate cuisine from the kingdom of Awadh, in northern India, included sugar, khoya (dry, thickened milk), cardamom, cinnamon, clove and saffron – one of the most expensive spices.

Like all good ideas, khichri, too, seems to have spread to other parts of the world. The British liked it so much that they took it back home and created their own version – kedgeree, the popular breakfast dish made with rice, boiled egg and haddock. “The Indian khichri becomes the Anglo-Indian kedgeree … in the 17th century,” says Clifford Wright, an American food writer and author of several cookbooks. (Lentils were omitted as the British were known to dislike them.) “Then it jumps across the Atlantic to New England, where it’s made with rice, curry powder, and fresh cod,” he says.

Khichri is also thought to be the ancestor of Egypt’s national dish, koshary, which is made with rice, lentils and macaroni. “There’s no doubt that the Egyptian koshary’s ancestor is in fact the Indian khichri,” says Wright. The name and the ingredients are similar, he says. And khichri “is similar to mujaddara (another Middle Eastern comfort dish with rice and lentils), which can be traced back to the 10th century.” Although it’s likely that koshary got its macaroni much later, from the Italians, he adds.

Until I began researching this piece, my world of khichri had been small, with only three variations – my mother’s khichuri, another version of it called bhog-er khichuri that is served at religious festivals in my home state, and my favorite, bisi bele baath, from southern India.

Little did I know that a dish so simple had such a rich history, with its journey beginning far back in time and going on to traverse distant parts of the globe. This story tells me of a past that was more globalized than we realize. And it leaves me hungry for a whole new world of khichris.


A Taste Of ‘Khichuri’

Almost all the Bengali dishes I cook these days are dishes my mother taught me over the phone after I moved to the United States. She was an exquisite cook. But I never had the chance to ask her for her khichuri recipe. Ma passed away before I decided to try making this beloved monsoon dish. So the recipe below is one I cobbled together and improvised after poring over recipes from friends, food blogs and cooking shows on YouTube.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup white rice (I use Basmati. But any other non-sticky white rice or even brown rice should work.)

1/2 cup moong dal (split yellow mung bean)

Half of a small cauliflower, cut into about 10 florets (not so small that they will melt)

2 or 3 small potatoes, peeled and cut in half, or 1 medium potato cut into 4-6 pieces. (Although potatoes are traditionally used, I rarely use them.)

1 big carrot cut into inch-long pieces or 6-8 baby carrots, each sliced lengthwise. (Traditionalists may disapprove, but I like adding carrots to my khichuri. They make it colorful and healthier.)

1/3 cup of frozen peas

1 bay leaf

2 green cardamom

2-3 cloves

1 thin sticks of cinnamon

1 or 2 dry red chili (I often use green chili instead)

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon grated ginger

Ghee (clarified butter)

Turmeric and salt as needed

Method:

Dry roast the moong dal on medium flame till it starts to brown and you can smell its nutty aroma. (Other khichri recipes use a range of lentils that don’t involve this step.) Stop when about half the beans have become light brown in color, then set aside in a bowl with 2 cups of warm water in it.

Into a pan add a tablespoon of ghee (I sometimes use mustard oil or vegetable oil instead) and heat on high or medium till the ghee looks hot.

Throw in the bay leaf. As it starts to brown, lower the flame to medium and add the cardamom pods, clove and cinnamon. Stir with a spoon. Then add the cumin seeds and the chilies. Once the cumin seeds start to sputter, throw in the grated ginger, and stir.

Now add the potato, carrots and cauliflower. Sprinkle some turmeric till veggies turn light yellow. Stir fry for a few minutes.

At this stage, add the dal with the water and salt to taste. Cover the pot and cook till water starts to boil.

Cook for 4 more minutes so that the dal, which takes longer to cook, starts to soften.

At this point, you can transfer everything to a pressure cooker, add the frozen peas, rice and one more cup of water and cook it using the rice setting. (If you’re using a stove top pressure cooker, wait for two whistles before you switch off of the stove.)

Or if not using a pressure cooker, add the rice and two more cups of water to the pot once the dal starts to soften. Cook with a lid on medium or low with occasional stirring to make sure rice and mung beans don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Frozen peas will cook quickly, so I add them 5-10 minutes after I’ve added the rice. Add more water along the way if it starts to look too dry.

Consistency should be like that of a thick porridge, although some people like it drier.

Cook till rice, dal and vegetables look cooked, but not too mushy. Serve with a teaspoon of ghee on top, mango or lime pickle on the side.

This goes very well with papad or papadum, which are flat, round, tortilla shaped crispy snacks that are usually deep fried or roasted over the fire.

Other foods that go well with khichuri: Fried eggplant or fried fish.

Source: npr

The Secret to Making the Perfect Chocolate Ganache

Kate Krader and James Tarmy wrote . . . . .

Some food is straightforward: You cook a steak by putting a slab of raw meat on a hot surface; you make a cocktail by mixing one alcohol with various liquids; you scramble eggs by … scrambling the eggs.

Other food, though, remains shrouded in mystery. What exactly is a paillard and why is it always outrageously expensive? How is a profiterole prepared without melting the ice cream inside? And what makes chocolate ganache so special that it doubles the price of regular chocolate?

We’ll leave paillard and profiteroles for another day. To answer the question of chocolate ganache, we turned to Nicolas Cloiseau, the creative director of La Maison du Chocolat and maker of the best truffle chocolate in the world. A La Maison du Chocolat chocolate bar weighs 0.17 pounds and costs $11; a single truffle ball of ganache—that luscious, melt-in-your-mouth mixture of melted chocolate and cream—weighs 0.02 pounds and costs $2.60. At that rate, a chocolate-bar-size truffle, perhaps covered in a texturally contrasting chocolate shell, would cost a whopping $22. (Cloiseau also claims, in a new book, to eat more than 13 pounds of chocolate a month, and he employs a “forager” who scours the globe looking for new taste notes in raw cacao.)

We met with him at the company’s Madison Avenue store for a tutorial on ganache making, which, it turns out, is a very simple idea (take chocolate, add cream and butter, and you’re done) that is entirely dependent on its ingredients. “The cacao we work with is very rare,” Cloiseau said, speaking through a translator. “It’s very delicate, and makes up only about 3 percent of the world’s cacao production.” After he walked us through the steps, the answer to its lofty valuation became clear: Chocolate bars are cacao paste and sugar. Ganache requires finesse, labor, and a careful calibration of proportions and technique.

Check out Cloiseau’s step-by-step tutorial. You can—and should!—absolutely try this at home.


Recipe for Chocolate Ganache

Makes about 50 bonbons

1. Start with a bowl of 260 grams of roughly cut chocolate.

2. Bring 150 grams of cream just to a boil, then pour over the chocolate.

3. Let it sit for 15 seconds while it melts the chocolate.

4. Start stirring with a whisk, with small movements in the center of the bowl.

5. As the mixture begins to thicken, broaden your strokes.

6. “It should have a mayonnaise-type texture,” Cloiseau said.

7. Add 15 grams of unsalted butter at room temperature.

8. Stir until smooth.

9. Pour into a large frame, or “plaque,” and let cool for 24 hours.

10. Enrobing the ganache in chocolate.

11. Cut ganache into 50 pieces. Carefully.

12. Pour a tempered chocolate on top of the cooled ganache, and let harden.

Source: Bloomberg

10 Sizzling Meatless Burger Recipes

From Meatless Monday

Read the recipes . . . . .

A Dying Man’s Lost Recipe Made His Daughter a Multimillionaire

Min Jeong Lee, Hiroyuki Sekine, and Toshiro Hasegawa wrote . . . . . .

When Hiroe Tanaka’s father died, he left behind something that would change her life: a recipe for fried meat on a stick. It was an act of love. His daughter adored the Japanese street food known as kushikatsu, and he’d spent endless hours working out how to make it just right.

The handwritten memo, which detailed how to cook the seemingly simple dish, helped save a restaurant business from bankruptcy in 2008, elevated Tanaka from part-time employee to vice president of a company named after her, and made her a multimillionaire. The university dropout who once worked as an office lady now sets strategy for the $82 million Kushikatsu Tanaka Co.

“I pay tribute to my father every day,” Tanaka, 46, says in an interview. “It all happened because of the recipe.”

Kushikatsu Tanaka started trading in September after a popular initial public offering priced at the top of its indicative range. The shares, which are listed in Japan’s Mothers market for smaller firms, gained more than 50 percent through the end of last week. They rose 0.3 percent on Monday.

The chain has come a long way since it opened its first restaurant in Tokyo in December 2008, where Tanaka and Keiji Nuki, the company president, used second-hand kitchen equipment to keep costs down. Kushikatsu Tanaka now has 146 branches across Japan and one in Hawaii. It plans to open 40 more this year.

The pace of expansion is one of the fastest in Japan’s cut-throat restaurant world. And while that’s partly due to the company’s strategy of bringing the business model employed by 100 yen discount stores to the food industry, offering dishes at their cheapest possible prices, it’s also, Tanaka says, very much down to her dad.

Kushikatsu, a dish made by battering skewered meat and vegetables, deep-frying them and then dipping them in sauce, is common on the streets of Osaka, in the west of Japan’s main island, where Tanaka grew up. It’s less known in other parts of the country. The food originated as a quick, filling meal for laborers.

On special occasions when Tanaka was a child, whenever someone asked her what food she wanted to eat, she’d always say kushikatsu. Her father, she says, realized what others didn’t: that cooking it is an art. The oil, batter and sauce all have to be just right. For years he used his downtime from working as a real estate agent to perfect kushikatsu for her, she says.

Then, when Tanaka was 21, her dad passed away.

As Tanaka went on with her life, doing administrative work at an advertising agency after deciding not to finish a university degree in literature, she tried without success to replicate her father’s kushikatsu. In the late 1990s, she took a job with Nuki, who was running a bar in Osaka at the time, because she wanted to focus on cooking. One of the dishes she constantly tried to make was kushikatsu.

When Nuki, also 46, expanded into Tokyo a couple of years later, Tanaka moved to the capital to work at a high-end restaurant he opened. Again, Nuki let her try to cook kushikatsu, although he didn’t share her passion for the food.

But she couldn’t get it right, even with the help of professionals. After several years, she started to think her father’s kushikatsu would die with him.

“It wasn’t as simple as I thought,” she says. “I began to think, maybe I can’t do it after all.”

At that point, things got worse.

When the global financial crisis hit in 2008, it decimated the customers willing to splash out at Nuki’s restaurants. He told Tanaka the game was up: he was closing down and it was time to go home.

Tanaka wasn’t willing to quit. She even offered to borrow money for the business under her own name. But she accepted it was time to take a step back, and started to pack.

That’s when she found it. It was in a box of memos and mementos from her dad. He’d left her the secret of his kushikatsu after all.

Neither Tanaka nor Nuki had any expectations for the scrawled instructions, which had been corrected over and over. “The discovery wasn’t dramatic at all,” Nuki recalls. “It’s not like the memo had ‘success guaranteed’ written on it.”

But they tried it and it worked. “It was, indeed, the taste of the kushikatsu my father used to cook,” Tanaka says.

Nuki, a newfound kushikatsu fan, decided to make one last attempt to conquer the Tokyo restaurant scene.

He found a small property in a quiet residential area outside central Tokyo, where rent was cheaper. He filled the kitchen with instruments from his old places, and whatever was missing he bought using an auction website. “A lot of people told me not to do it, that the place wouldn’t attract people because there weren’t any other shops nearby,” he says.

But the Tanaka kushikatsu went viral.

People were lined up to get in even at 1 a.m. Nuki had to set up extra tables outside. The number of bicycles parked outside the shop drew complaints from neighbors. Passengers on buses stared with curiosity at the long lines.

Nuki and Tanaka added a second and third store. They all bustled with customers. When a rival kushikatsu joint opened in the trendy Shibuya area of Tokyo, the two decided it was time to turn their business into a franchise.

Franchise Business

“At first, I didn’t like the idea of having others involved,” Tanaka said. But “what I hated most was having people in Tokyo try kushikatsu made by copycats and come away with a negative image that it tastes bad,” she says.

Kushikatsu Tanaka reported 316 million yen ($2.9 million) in operating profit for the year ended November, a 57 percent increase from the previous 12 months. The stock has caught the attention of industry analysts, with three brokerages initiating coverage this year. One says buy and two recommend holding.

Ryotaro Sawada, an analyst at Ace Securities Co. who has a neutral rating on the shares, sounds a note of caution. “The company is targeting 40 stores this year, but investors should be aware of the odds of the number falling short of that goal given the competition,” Sawada wrote in a note to clients earlier this year.

Kushikatsu Tanaka traded at 31 times earnings at Friday’s close, versus an average of 26 times for 194 firms in the Topix Retail Trade Index. Analysts expect the stock to rise 17 percent over the next 12 months.

Tanaka, once one of Japan’s forgotten legion of part-timers, owns 4 percent of the company, a shareholding that’s now worth more than $3 million. In some ways, it’s her father’s last gift. As for the recipe, she says only herself and Nuki have seen it since she found it, and it’s going to stay that way.

“Kushikatsu is life to me,” Tanaka says. “I don’t know what I would do without it.”

Source: Bloomberg