mulberryshoots

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: food

a quiet day . . .

flowers with rice cookerHere it is, almost the official day of Spring this week, and it’s gently sleeting outside. One of the heaters is on the fritz downstairs (we have geothermal heat pumped up from a well underneath the house) and sometimes the compressors of the individual units decide to act up. It’s the vagaries of living in a complex of living units that needs to be tuned up just like pianos, some of the time.

I’ve been experimenting with cooking rice, Japanese style, as introduced to me by my daughter, M., who lives in Minneapolis. She gave me the idea of mixing different kinds of rice and keeping a rice cooker humming so that dollops of rice can be had any time of the day, even for breakfast with a soft-boiled egg on top. After trying different combinations including chicken broth, I think my favorite mix at the moment is half Chinese sweet rice (sticky) and half Lundberg’s short grain brown rice. I heat up some dashi broth and add about four short bursts of Ohsawa soy sauce. Mix it up and add twice the amount of broth as rice. Turn the cooker on, and soon afterwards, I can smell fragrant steam rising from the pot.

Yesterday for lunch, I had a small bowl of rice along with one preserved salted duck egg (from the Asian market) and a few pieces of pickled cucumbers. Satisfying, simple and low in calories. Last night, I cooked a dish I made up combining pieces of raw shrimp, minced green onions, baby spinach, stemmed and sliced beaten into fresh eggs. I heated up a skillet with grapeseed oil and made small pancakes with shrimp, spinach and onions in each patty. Turned them over when crisp and served with a dipping mixture containing oyster sauce, Japanese seasoned vinegar, a little soy and a tiny bit of agave nectar. Bowls of the sticky rice with these crisp shrimp and spinach fritters and some pickled cucumber made up our table. Filling and enough flavor to satisfy our appetite. Sometimes, I also add fresh bean sprouts and fresh cilantro to the shrimp mixture. Good both ways!

Afterwards, I came across the Schubert four-hand Youtube clip that I appended to the last post. G. reminded me of another piano duo, Anderson and Roe, that we have enjoyed listening to in the past. Their arrangement and rendition of Michael Jackson’s song, “Billie Jean” is fun to watch and listen to, as is their playful outdoor medley filmed at a Texas University campus.

“Billie Jean” link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yioMN-meE0o

“Viva la Vida” link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SobrVBFwJo

My life seems to revolve around food and music. I guess that’s not such a bad thing, is it? The other day, I heard about a recipe for making huge black pepper and gruyere popovers from an Austin, TX restaurant clip on the Food Channel. I’ve written about making popovers earlier and can’t wait to try these out, served as a meal with a salad. Maybe I will make them as the main feature for Easter dinner, along with an arugula endive salad with glazed walnuts and pink grapefruit segments. Yum!

oeufs en gelee. . .


Well, if you read about my Christmas meltdown earlier, here is a follow-up report on making oeufs en gelee. An etsy potter from Australia wrote to me at the time that she was interested enough to “google” it to see what this dish was all about.

Apparently, it’s a traditional first course dish served in France and England from what little is available online. A photograph of a big glass bowl filled with jellied consomme with eggs suspended in it, a pile of toast and butter beside it stayed in my memory from Roald and Liccy Dahl’s book called, “Memories of Food at Gipsy House.” I think it was Roald’s own words that imprinted it into my mind:

“R.D. To me this is the most beautiful and delicious dish, but it is difficult to make well. If you can succeed in having the eggs not only soft-boiled inside but also separately suspended in the jelly, and yet not having the jelly too firm, then you have achieved the miracle.”

Okay: achieving miracles. It sure didn’t feel like that when I attempted to peel eight small eggs after having boiled them the allotted time. The shells kept sticking even though I had plunged them into cold water after removing them from the boiling water. The insides were also too runny. So, there went the first batch of eggs! I had also taken out my old beat-up copy of Julia Child‘s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” volume one in which she very helpfully described on page 113 some aspects of the “mystery” that goes into making the consomme turn out just right: you have to chill and test small batches of your consomme cum gelatin mix to see if it jells up properly–not rubbery and not too soft. My little test plate wasn’t jelling as fast as I wanted it to. Meanwhile, the phone rang and a voice asked me where was I for a chiropractor adjustment?–which had somehow slipped my mind while peeling the first batch of eggs.

So, I layered the broth into a Tupperware jello mold (see photo above) and put it in the fridge while I boiled up a second batch of eggs, leaving them to boil for a minute longer this time, plunging them into cold water afterwards. Then we ate supper: carryout Chinese. Afterwards, I peeled the eggs carefully and they seemed okay this time. I dried them off and slipped them into the mold, and then put fresh springs of tarragon around them. Added more consomme mixture that had chilled in an ice filled pie pan and then put it back in the fridge. An hour later after the third batch of consomme had jelled (this time firmer than the rest for some reason), I broke it up and spooned it onto the remaining room left in the mold, hoping that this jelly on the bottom would hold the thing together. Put the lid on firmly and set it in the fridge.

It looks like this mysterious, luminous pale brown concoction with eggs suspended, tarragon leaves barely visible.

At this point, I’m just glad that oeufs en gelee are now in the fridge and ready to bring up to serve as a first course with toast, butter, a little fresh ham and cornichons. I’m not so naive as to think that it will actually taste that great–although I am still hopeful.

I think the important thing for me was doing it because I was enraptured by Roald Dahl‘s experience and description of this dish. And besides, who wouldn’t want to make a try at performing miracles during this time of year?

Here’s an update: a photo of a serving of oeufs en gelee on Christmas Day!