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FoodLink Roundup: 10.27.08

Cupcake's Link Roundup
Last week, Cupcake was out on the links at Van Cortlandt Park Golf Course, America's oldest public golf course, in the Bronx. Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Post your guess in the comments.

measure for measure
What's in a pinch? Depends on your fingers.

A Choir of Turkeys
What's the sound of one hand clapping? Not sure, but it's probably nothing like 300 turkeys gobbling on cue.

The New Foam Meets the Old Foam
"I must say I don't really understand this thing you call an egg cream. It doesn't seem to go well with the pastrami, and doesn't have much flavor. And there doesn't seem to be any egg in it." ...Ed Levine takes culinary god Ferran Adria out to dinner. At Katz's deli, of course.

New food links — and another postcard from Cupcake — every Monday morning on missginsu.com

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10.27.2008

What's For Dinner? Autumnal Arugula-Apple Saute

On Monday night, I cooked a turkey breast roast. With some roasted Brussels Sprouts and pan gravy, it was a fine dinner.

I cubed the rest of the roast, and this week I've been using up the cubes in various ways. The turkey-black bean burrito on a whole-wheat tortilla. The turkey cubes in my antipasti salad at lunch.

Autumnal Saute

Tonight's meal might be my favorite of this week's leftover turkey dishes. An Autumnal Turkey-Apple Sauté in just 15 minutes flat. Good on vitamins, pretty low in the carb department, seasonal, economical and tasty, too.

You can't beat that with a stick, as my pa used to say.

Sauteed apples and onions

Now, you could used cooked tofu cubes or seitan cubes or pork cubes or chicken cubes or whatever protein you like, but I happened to have turkey on hand.

You could also go all crazy and peel the apple. I didn't. Why? Well, because I'm lazy and because I justify my behavior with the thought of extra fiber and nutrients in the peel. So there. It was just as tasty with the peel on.
Autumnal Arugula-Apple Sauté (Serves two... or one with leftovers)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, halved and sliced thin
1 apple, cut into 3/4" cubes
1/4 cup pecans (unsalted)
1 bunch arugula (or spinach), washed and chopped
1 cup cooked turkey cubes (1") (or whatever protein you like)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
A pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper

1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed pot or skillet until it shimmers.
2. Add the onion slices and the apple cubes. Sautée 10 minutes, or until the onions soften and begin to brown a bit. Add the pecans to the pan.
3. Add the arugula or spinach, along with the cooked turkey cubes. Keep it moving in the pan, cooking down the greens, for about 5 minutes.
4. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper, and serve.


You could serve this with a starchy side dish (couscous?) or a hot buttered roll or something, but I'm going low-carb this week, so no bread for me.

Still, it's a tasty dish... the apples provide sweetness, the pecans are nutty and rich and the turkey fits right in. I also have leftovers for lunch.

I'll do this one again soon, leaving out the protein cubes, and serving it as an autumnal side to a pork chop or something.

I bet this'll also be a good dish to keep on file for the days after Thanksgiving when turkey is in abundance and both ideas and energy to cook are running low.

Bon appetit!
Miss Ginsu

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10.16.2008

Ten Thousand Picnics & One Custard Baklava

Our extended cold, damp spring was all forgiven this past weekend. For those of us who stuck around for the holiday, three glorious days of sunshine, blue skies and idyllic chirping birds reminded us that New York can actually be a pleasant place to live.

From my informal survey of city parklands, I estimate there were roughly oh, somewhere in the neighborhood of ten thousand picnics happening around the city this weekend.

Prospect Park, Central Park, McCarren Park and every other patch of urban green upheld seas of blankets, spread after spread of good eats and a few million grinning hominids.

Sheep in the Sheep Meadow
Sheep in the Sheep Meadow, Central Park, image from the NYPL. Circa 1870?

Picnics in the Sheep Meadow
Picnics in the Sheep Meadow, Central Park. Circa 2008

For my own pic-a-nicking, I was in the mood for something exotic. I found a recipe for galatoboureko (custard baklava) in Cold-Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase and, despite the book's out-of-season topic, I thought it might make for a nice picnic dish. My adapted version appears herein.

As it turns out, a bourek boureko is either a Greek dish or a Turkish dish (depending on whether you're speaking with a Greek or a Turk) composed of layered phyllo with a filling of meat, or cheese or veggies or a sweet or savory egg custard.

J recently traveled through both countries and found it everywhere (particularly the not-so-sweet egg variety, which he ate for breakfast). His suspicion is that galatoboureko hails from an ancient neighborhood in Istanbul (so ancient it was still Constantinople at the time) called Galata.

Processing the phyllo

Galatoboureko

The recipe below has a few adaptations from the original, which makes enough to feed an army (about 42 pieces). This one will serve a smaller army with about 21 pieces, depending on how you make your cuts.
Galatoboureko (Custard Baklava)
For the citrus syrup:
1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 slice orange (optional)

For the custard:
1 quarts milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup farina or Cream of Wheat cereal
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
6 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp nutmeg

For the phyllo:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 pound phyllo dough, thawed

1. To make the syrup: Add sugar, water, lemon juice and orange slice (if desired) to a heavy saucepan and simmer 10 minutes, skimming away any froth at the surface. Remove and discard the orange slice. Set aside to cool.
2. To make the custard: Heat the milk and sugar in a deep saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. When the milk steams and is about to boil, shake in the farina. Add the butter and salt. Stir until the butter has melted and the mixture is thick and smooth, then remove from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
3. Beat the eggs and vanilla together in a large bowl until light, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cooled farina mixture, blending thoroughly.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
5. To assemble the dish, brush a 11 x 9-inch baking pan with a thin coating of the melted butter. Unwrap the phyllo dough, laying it out flat on a clean surface, and covering it with a slightly damp kitchen towel to keep it from drying out.
6. Lay 1 half-sheet of phyllo dough on the bottom of the pan and brush it with a thin coating of melted butter. Continue layering and buttering the dough in the same manner for 8 half-sheets.
6. Pour in all the custard and spread it evenly. Cover the custard with 8 more half-sheet layers of buttered phyllo dough. Puncture the top sheets with a sharp knife in several places to allow the custard to breathe during baking.
7. Bake until the custard is set and the pastry shakes loose from the pan, about 30-45 minutes.
8. Let cool 30 minutes, then pour the sugar syrup over the pastry. Cool completely before cutting into triangles or rectangles. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

The version of galatoboureko J has encountered abroad is much like this one, but he said they didn't generally use the citrus syrup to finish it and the dish was usually served for breakfast rather than dessert.

Either way, I can picture this boureko fitting in well at a brunch buffet... it holds up nicely at room temperature. Just don't plan on storing it too long before serving it. I find that storage softens the phyllo a bit much.

Now that we have another half-box of phyllo to play with, I'm excited to try out a savory bourek...

Meanwhile... cheers, ya'll!

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5.27.2008

Recession-Proof Recipes: Savory Green Curry

In a time of high food costs, people often look to cheaper proteins, but I think turkey is often overlooked because of its association with winter holiday meals.

T-Day Turkey
Not just for Thanksgiving anymore

Turkey is a flavorful, inexpensive meat, and if you get a small bird (some stores even sell half-birds or breast roasts), you don't have to spend all day cooking it. Just wash it, dry it, give it a quick massage with some oil, salt and pepper, set the oven to 375°F, put the bird (or half-bird, or whatever) in a roasting pan, set the timer for 15 minutes per pound of meat and go find something else to do for a while.

The cooked meat is great everywhere you'd normally use chicken. Use it for turkey salad sandwiches. Put it in chili. Make yourself a Turkey Pot Pie.

Or take it to the Far East and toss your turkey meat into a green curry. I haven't dined on the local birds thereabouts, but I'd be willing to bet that turkey's gamier flavor probably tastes more like Thailand's native poultry than the standard American chicken does.

Obviously a handful fresh Kafir lime leaves would be great in this paste (just nix the lime juice if you're going that route), but I'm not putting them in the recipe because they're not terribly easy for a lot of people to find. If you can't find the lemongrass either, go ahead and skip that, too. Fish sauce is usually available in Chinese markets. Feel free to sub in baked or fresh tofu and go all vegetarian on this if that's how you want to play it.
Savory Green Curry (Serves 4)
For the Paste
5 green chilies or jalapeños (or less, to taste)
1 medium white onion, quartered
2 garlic cloves
1" piece ginger root, peeled
1-2 lemongrass bulbs (white section of the stalk), chopped
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fish sauce or dried shrimp paste (optional)
1 cup fresh basil (preferably Thai basil)
1 cup fresh cilantro
4 limes, zested and juiced
1/2 cup water
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

For the Curry
1 medium white onion, halved and sliced
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1" squares (or substitute 1 cup diced eggplant)
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 13 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups cooked turkey, cut into cubes (or cubed tofu)

Additional mint and cilantro (to garnish)
Lime wedges (to garnish)
Steamed rice or noodles (for serving)

1. In a blender or food processor, puree chilies, onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, cumin, coriander, black pepper, fish sauce, basil, cilantro and lime zest and juice. As you blend, add in enough water to make a smooth paste. Season to taste with salt and ground pepper.

2. Place a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat and warm the oil to the pan. Add in the onion and green pepper pieces (or eggplant), cooking 15 minutes to soften.

3. Add the green curry paste to the vegetables in the pan and allow it to cook for 10 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.

4. Stir in the broth, the coconut milk and the cooked turkey or tofu cubes. Blend well and bring the mixture to a simmer. Season to taste. The mixture should taste bright and herbaceous. If it seems a bit too sour, add a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to balance it out.

5. Garnish with additional cilantro, mint leaves and lime wedges (if desired) and serve with steamed rice or noodles.


Bon appétit!

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5.22.2008

Bottle and brew for the bird (and you)

If you're reading this in the US, you're very likely celebrating Thanksgiving with a turkey. If you've heard this tune before, you may have noticed by now that the turkey can be a tricky dance partner.

When the breast meat is done, the legs are overcooked. When the legs are perfect, the breast is raw.*

A whole turkey takes up most of the oven for most of the day, leaving little room for side dishes or desserts.

And how are you going to raise a toast when the light meat is clearly calling out for something crisp and light and the dark meat demands something big and juicy?

I might not be able to help you out much with a crowded oven (though you could consider making the pie the day before and doing the sides on the stovetop), I will add my voice to the masses recommending beverage pairings for your feast.

turkey

Some people just split the light/dark difference by bringing a juicy Beaujolais Nouveau to the feast, but why not pick up a nice rosé or cava for the light bits and a berry-filled red for the dark? The flavonoids provide good antioxidant effects, right?

Here's a few tasty bottles (in a wide price range) I've recently sampled. Everything's drinkable with or without food, the reds are bold with berries, and the bubbly is slightly sweet and simply fun to drink.

Cave d'Ige Bourgogne Rouge $15
Flying Fish Merlot 2005 $12
Villadoro Montepulciano $9
Fattoria di Lucignano Chianti $15
Bodegas Muga Rioja Reserve $27
Oriel "Hugo" Russian River Valley Zinfandel $32
Goyette Cabernet $24
Invictus Cabernet $40

Beer makes a good choice for those who can't take the sulfites (and for brewheads, naturally). Personally, I'm wild for a bunch of the food-friendly Belgian brews, and both Goose Island and Brewery Ommegang domestically craft some very fine beers that would complement bird.

Those crazy folks at Beer Advocate also suggest recipes for actually cooking the whole Thanksgiving feast with beer. Ambitious.

However you choose to kick up your heels your Thursday, I bid you bountiful good cheer and a boisterous bon appétit from over here at Chez Ginsu.

*Some people try to solve this issue by chilling the breast meat with ice packs before cooking it or keeping the breasts covered with foil during baking. I think just butterflying (splitting across the front and cooking flat) the bird solves the breast/thigh issue pretty neatly.

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11.20.2007