Archive for January, 2008

State of the Union, 2008.

28 January, 2008


If you believe 2008 will see prosperity and “growing” our economy, you don’t know dirka.

Rant over.


More stock, 1-08.

15 January, 2008

More stock. This one will be dubbed “lamb stock,” due to the fact that it has two lamb leg bones in it, and the flavor of lamb can be quite assertive.

2 lamb leg bones
1 pork shoulder bone
1 cooked turkey leg quarter (from the November holiday)
random chicken bones (saved in freezer for later use)
shrimp hulls (again, saved in freezer)
6 leaves romaine lettuce (on their last legs)
4 white mushrooms (beginning to open)
1 white potato (sprouting in at least three places)
1 1/2 white onions, roughly chopped
green parts of 6 scallions, wilting
4ribs celery
4 cloves crushed garlic
salt, pepper, etc. Go easy on spices beside these two. Others can be added later.

Boil bones for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse, return to pot, bring to near boil and place into 180 degree oven for 4-8 hours. Strain.

Once you have made 5 batches of any stock of any kind, you will not need any guidance, unless you are making pho, which will require only beef bones and some aromatics, like cinnamon and star anise. Be aware that the following add really strong flavors, so be prepared if you use them: lamb, cabbage family (bok choy, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.). Best not to use for a neutral stock, unless you are willing to experiment. Better to make a mild stock and spice it up as needed. Or make a “cabbage family” stock and experiment.

Beef is not a euphemism for cow

14 January, 2008


An aspiring vegan recently claimed that “beef” is a euphemism for cow–suspecting some sort of linguistic camouflague concealing the fact, and assuaging our consciences that, we are consuming an animal. This is a patently false claim, one that I hear often, and perhaps one I even made during my 11 year stint as a vegetarian.

The false argument:

  • Beef euphemizes cooked cow;
  • Pork euphemizes cooked pig;
  • Venison euphamizes cooked deer

Other culinary lingo blatantly contradicts the claim:

  • Rabbit = cooked rabbit;
  • Chicken = cooked chicken;
  • Turkey = cooked turkey;
  • Fish = cooked fish (sushi is simply a borrowed loan word–like tofu–not a euphemism);
  • Liver = cooked liver (usually preceded by the type–chicken… or calves… or pork…;
  • Brains = cooked brains

Still, there are true culinary euphemisms:

  • Fries (or “Rocky Mountain oysters”) = cooked testicles
  • Sweetbreads = cooked thymus gland (the first use occurs in the mid-16th century)
  • Pluck = (Scottish) that which is first “plucked” out of a sheep upon slaughter, which is the liver, heart, lungs, heart, etc.–the traditional mammalian ingredients for hagus.

Dudes,… English has a huge linguistic, technical, and culinary vocabulary, influenced by many factors, not the least of which are economic/culinary class societies (English nobility = Francophile eaters and adopters of French culinary terms), the Norman invasion, the industrial revolution, and many other events that have created a language with the largest vocabublary and nuance on the planet.

Rant over.

Protected: Should I be concerned about that sound?

14 January, 2008

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Lamb kebab + mezze 01-08

10 January, 2008


Click for a couple more photos.


Lamb kebab; mezze of bulgher; scallion & red pepper vegetable plate; onion salad with sumac; black olives; pistachio nuts:

2 1/2 pounds lamb leg (after trimming), trimmed and diced into about 1 1’2 inch to 2 inch cubes;
1 dried red chile (ground);
1 tablespoon dried chile flakes (ground);
1 tablespoon corriander seed
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds (ground);
2 teaspoons black peppercorns (ground);
1 teaspoon white peppercorns (ground);
3 tablespoons olive oil (one could use as little as 1 tablespoon;
9 garlic cloves, finely chopped;
Salt sprinkled to taste while cooking.
Spices that could have made it into the mix: fenugreek (2t), cumin (up to 1T), dried oregano (1t), fresh rosemary (1t)

Put lamb pieces into ziploc bag or bowl. Add oil and massage. Add garlic and ground spices and massage. Marinate in fridge for 2 hours or as long as you like.

Cook meat over charcoal grill (with two soaked wooden skewers per kebab), or (as here) on HOT ridged grill pan (oven at 500 degrees for 15 minutes, then a couple minutes on high on the range). Sear and turn. Continue turning until desired doneness. Don’t feel obligated to use skewers. I didn’t–I was out, therefore the “kebab.” If you use skewers, the preparation is properly called “shish kebab.”

Gigandes mezze Jan-08

5 January, 2008

Click here or on the thumb for a photoset.


┬áNo plans to provide a recipe for this one. It’s pretty self explanatory. Gigandes were cooked for 15 minutes in a pressure cooker and finished off on the stove.

Kibbeh meatballs

3 January, 2008

Click here or on the thumbnail for a couple photos


What do you do with raw kibbeh leftovers? One option is to shallow fry them as meatballs, which have many, many variations, depending on how you doctor your original kibbeh. Now, meatballs have become a low prestige food in the U.S., but their culinary rank is not worthy of the labor involved, should you decide to make meatballs from scratch without serving the meat as a raw dish first. Be sure to cook no further than medium rare or, for the squeamish, medium, otherwise the meatballs will lose their juice. The photoset above is what we did with our leftover kibbeh nayye from new year’s eve, 2007/8, after adding a little extra olive oil and water to knead the meat to an elastic paste, and dicing and throwing in some of the garnish/accompaniments, like parsley, and radish. Served with mildly spiced large fava beans and room temperature coarse, pale bulgher, with parsley as an edible garnish. One could eliminate the water and beat in an egg, or additional breadcrumbs. Variations such as these could go under several names, such as kofte or koukla.

Homemade chicken stock

2 January, 2008

Lots of stuff out there about making homemade chicken stock. Why are you here when you could be on “the Google?”

First rule of chicken stock: you have to save chicken bones (in a zip-loc bag in the freezer).
Second rule of chicken stock (with exception discussed below): do not let it boil or it will never clear.
Third rule of chicken stock is: You can make a small quantity and add it to your next batch along with water.

Exception: you can boil the bones for a few minutes, then discard the water with the scum and start over. Chicken stock will take at least 1 1/2 hours.

A basic “power of two” stock: A whole chicken, or enough bones + wings + giblets to make a good stock. Two halves of an onion, two carrots, two celery stalks, two handfuls of parsley, two bay leaves, two sprigs thyme (not for me), two spices (salt and pepper to taste), two quarts water (=water to cover), two hour simmer (if you use a whole chicken, you can pick the meat off the bones and reserve it for other purposes).

Additional power of two additions: two cloves garlic, two finger sized sprigs of fresh dill, two parsnips, two halves of a turnip.

Listified, think of it this way (in my own oder of preference, and half the time I don’t have all the ingredients):
Salt and pepper
Bay leaf

Simmer (emphasis on simmer) and skim any scum. Give yourself two hours minimum. It’s that easy. You can also throw in pork bones from your last bbq, or shrimp hulls, or turkey bones, or fish heads, or whatever. I strain my stock through a sieve lined with the cotton remnants of an old T-shirt. Cool to kitchen temperature, refridgerate, and skim off any fat that collects on the top the next day.

Again, it is that easy, and totally worth it.