Sunday, February 26, 2017

Egg Preservation -- Month Two

It has been two months since I put two dozen eggs into liquid storage.  It is time to check them out!

For the original procedure, look at the post "Preserving an Eggciting New Year."

My goal is to look at two eggs a month to see how the preservation method is working.  I wanted to use one egg that was coated with Vaseline and one that was not.

The storage container was undisturbed for the entire month.  I noticed that the "crust", which had formed in the first month but I broke up to get the eggs, had reformed.

It broke easily with my fingers and I pulled out two eggs.

The first thing I noticed about the eggs was that the Vaseline-coated one was still smooth and a little greasy but the uncoated egg's shell felt rough.  Here is a comparison between the two and a fresh:

The next thing I noticed was that the coated egg looked "mottled".

Coated egg on the left.
But they both looked good and smelled good so I went ahead and cooked them.  I fried them in olive oil separately from the fresh eggs.

First I put in the uncoated egg.

Then the coated egg.

The whites looked fresh and the yolks were both brightly colored and appealing.

I cooked them to "sunny side up" and slid them onto my plate.  They looked lovely, especially with some oven-baked bacon.

The Verdict

I tasted them plain, no salt or anything, so I could get a feel for their overall flavor.  I tried the whites alone and I could not taste a difference between them.  I did, however, taste the calcium hydroxide, which is a mineral flavor that is definitely not in regular eggs.  I did not like that extra flavor but when I put ketchup on the eggs (I know, I am a barbarian!), they tasted just fine.  The yolks were good, too, even all by themselves.

After the meal was done and I was cleaning up, I still had the mineral taste in my mouth.

I think that this far along in the experiment I am no longer interested in eating the eggs fried.  But I suspect they would work just fine in baked goods.

Success is defined as the eggs having been preserved and still edible.  I call it success.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Patina de Persicis -- A Dish of Peaches (Roman Empire)

I'm enjoying the book The Roman Cookery of Apicius by John Edwards.  It has a variety of recipes "translated and adapted for the Modern Kitchen" and that suits me just fine.  Mr. Edwards has made the adaptations very accessible for the 21st century, including his version of "fish-pickle", which is made from canned tuna or salmon (as opposed to the liquamen mentioned in this post).

ISBN 0-88179-008-7
Today I played with two different recipes to make dinner:  Patina de Persicis (A Dish of Peaches) and Vitellina Fricta (Fried Veal Steak).  I am presenting the results of the peaches recipe today and will follow up with the Vitellina next month.

The Roman version is simple (page 84):

Take peaches which have a firm texture and wash them.  Cut them into pieces and stew.  Put the peaches into a dish and sprinkle a few drops of olive oil over them.  Season with cumin, and serve.

Mr. Edward's version is also simple (page 83):

Take early peaches, wash, cut them in quarters, and remove pits.  Steam in water until soft.  Drain, reserve liquid, and put them in a cooking pot with a little of the peach liquid, a few drops of olive oil, and cumin to taste.  Simmer gently for a few minutes and serve hot.

It is not peach season right now but I really wanted to try this recipe.  So my version is simpler still:

Peaches Cooked with Cumin

Two cans sliced peaches, in light syrup or juice
Olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin

That's all!
Drain peaches; reserve 1/4 cup of the liquid.  Place the peaches into a small pan.

Mix the reserved liquid, four drops olive oil, and cumin in a small bowl.

Pour over peaches and stir gently so as not to break up the pieces.

They should not be swimming in liquid.
Over medium heat, bring peaches and liquid to a gentle simmer.  Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 5 - 10 minutes, until steaming hot all the way through.  Stir occasionally.

Remove peaches with a slotted spoon.  Add just a little of the liquid to the peaches in their serving dish.  Serve immediately.

Served with even less liquid in which they were cooked.
My Notes

This was my version of the recipe, so what you see above are my notes.  My canned peaches were in light syrup, so I worried that they might be too sweet.   I served the peaches with a slotted spoon so the liquid wouldn't spill all over the plate.  I served it as a side dish to the meat main course.

That dark stuff is the Vitellina
The Verdict

This was a big hit!  The cumin shifts the flavor to savory rather than sweet and that made it an excellent side dish.  One teaspoon of cumin was very good -- it was subtle and yet still noticeable and just a little spicy on the tongue.  My guest tasters and I (three in total) ate them all.  For more than three people, you will need to double the recipe, at least.

Success!  We all wanted more and I would make it again without hesitation.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Vintage California Cuisine -- Chicken in Almond Sauce

I was in the mood to try something different.  World War Two recipes came to mind but I didn't find any that peaked my interest.  Then I rediscovered a book I had purchased a few years ago after discussing California cuisine with a history nut.

ISBN 978-0-9795510-0-0
This fun little book dabbles in a variety of sources:  "300 Recipes from the First Cookbooks Published in the Golden State."  Its emphasis is to show how early California cuisine was influenced by many cultures, including New England, the South, Paris, the Quakers, the vegetarian movement in the late 1800s, and of course, Mexico.  All the books cited were published between 1872 and 1915.

The recipe that caught my interest was called "Chicken in Almond Sauce."  (page 95).  It was taken from El Cocinero Español, published in 1889 and written by Encarnación Pineda.  More on this later.

I was intrigued by the ingredient list.  Along with chicken and chorizo sausage it called for chiles, almonds, raisins, and pineapple.  I really wanted to know how those flavors combined!

Chicken in Almond Sauce

Put the stock used for cooking the hen in a saucepan.  Add sliced tomatoes, garlic, slices of peeled and cored pineapple, chorizo sausage, a tablespoon of vinegar, raisins, almonds, small pickled chile peppers, salt, pepper, and the de-boned pieces of hen.

My Notes

I cooked a 4 1/2 pound hen by simmering it gently in a pan of water.  Then I cooled both the bird and the stock, then strained the stock to remove sediment.  The remaining stock was approximately 3 quarts in volume.

To that stock I added my estimation of how much of each ingredient would make for a tasty, balanced dish.

2 tomatoes, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
4 ounce can diced mild green chiles
12 ounces beef chorizo sausage
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup ground almonds
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
20 ounces de-boned chicken, sliced

And the stock.
This filled my six quart pan so I brought it to a slow simmer and left it, covered, for about an hour.

The Result

My impression was that this was supposed to have a stew-like consistency.  This was not even close.  It was soup and when I tasted the broth it was weakly flavored.  The ground almonds were an unpleasant interruption in the liquid.

A beautiful color!
Should I serve it as a soup?  I didn't want to so I used a slotted spoon to scoop out the ingredients and then added just a little broth to each bowl.

I love the puffy raisins.
The stew was garnished with some shredded Cheddar cheese and served with some quality tortilla chips on the side.

The chunks of chicken are appealing.
The Verdict

It was good!  Flavorful and the surprise bits of sweetness from the pineapple and raisins was pleasant.  The chicken held together in chunks which helped the dish feel like the chicken was the focus and the vegetables were the support team.  We all liked it and had seconds.  Success!

How I Would Change My Redaction

I think that I should have placed all the ingredients in the pan and then added enough broth to make it moist enough to cook.  If convenient, you could probably put the whole thing in a casserole dish and bake it slowly to blend the flavors.

Two tomatoes was right for the amount of chicken used.  I would use two cloves of garlic, though, for more flavor and 8 ounces of the chiles as I couldn't tell they were there except visually.  One cup each of pineapple and raisins was right, too, and I think chunked pineapple would also work well.

The chorizo was put in in chunks but the long, wet cooking caused it to dissolve into little bits.  Perhaps using less liquid would keep it in larger pieces.  It did flavor the mixture nicely and color it red.  It made the dish more fatty than I like but that wasn't really a problem.

I used ground almonds because I thought they would make the dish creamy, like they do when making almond milk.  They might have if less broth was used or more ground almonds.  I don't think big almond chunks in the stew would have worked at all.  Sliced almonds may have been a good garnish.

More on Encarnación Pineda

I also have a copy of Encarnación's Kitchen, by Dan Strehl, which contains a selection of recipes translated from her book.  After cooking the Vintage California Cuisine's recipe, I looked up "Chicken in Almond Sauce" to see his version:

Aves o carnes en almondrado
(Birds or meat in almond sauce)

Grind together clean roasted almonds, a slice of toasted bread, two hard-cooked egg yolks, parsley, onions, and finely chopped garlic (understand that you should only use two or three cloves at a time).

Parboil the mixture, then add the broth the poultry or meats were cooked in. 

Then season it with cloves, cinnamon, and capers, and add wine, vinegar, and a spoonful of sugar.

Let the sauce thicken before placing the cooked poultry or meats in it.

Wow, this is very different from the version I worked with!  I'm not sure how the translations could differ so much.  I wish I could read Spanish so I could see Ms. Pineda's version myself.

Mr. Strehl's book has ISBN 0-520-23651-3.  From the comments about it, I suspect his version is more authentic than the Vintage California Cuisine's version.  But it was still good!  To be fair, Ms. Pinedo might have supplied several recipes with similar titles.  This often happens in older cookbooks.