Oxtail Summer Stew: must eat it with your fingers!

Oxtail Summer Stew: must eat it with your fingers!

Image from: Dictionnaire Universel de Cuisine et d’Hygiène Alimentaire
—Joseph Favre  1894—


In the the late 19th century French nomenclature for beef cut classification
(see picture above), beef tail ranked as PREMIÈRE CATÉGORIE (first category) — for the top of the tail— &  CINQUIÈME CATÉGORIE (fifth category) for the rest of it, which makes sense as the top of the tail is meatier than the  end.  Ox tail dishes can still be found on the menu of ethnic restaurants: Cuban, Chinese, Korean, but not so often in main stream place. To buy them your best choice will be  a supermarket with  any of the ethnic presences cited above, though personally I avoid any “industrial” meat and stick with grass fed. Yes, it is more expensive, but I rather eat less & avoid the hormones, antibiotics, and lousy treatment of the animal.

oxtail"

So I was thrilled to find some beautiful grass feed oxtail cuts at the Park Slope Food Coop,  not only because I love it, but also because it is cheaper than any other cut: $4.63lb. The farm provenance: McDonald Farm in the Finger lakes Region of Upstate NY.  I knew exactly how I was going to  cook them because I surveyed the fridge before going shopping & noticed that a few veggies required immediate use.  So below is my recipe with what was left over in the fridge and would make the dish great.

oxtail"

The only imperatives are:
1- Very long slow cooking
( 6/7 hours minimum)
2- Once fully cooked let the dish rest and eat it the next day, reheated.
3- Eat the tail bones with your fingers, other wise you will be missing all the best parts!

Recipe:
for 2 with a little left over:
2
lbs 1/2 of oxtail
1 onions
3 red pepper
1 green pepper

oxtail"1 zucchini
2 celery rib
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup of small porcini mushrooms
1 ripe seeded tomato
—all of the above chopped fine—
1/2 cup of Shitake tails
1 cup of white wine
1 cup of red wine
Salt & lots of freshly ground pepper

Warm 2 tablespoon of duck fat, back fat or olive oil in a skillet; when it is hot, brown the  pieces of tails thoroughly.
Set aside, keep the fat in the pan and sauté the onions, once melted add the red & green pepper, zucchini and celery. Sauté and let sweat for a few minutes. Then add the mushrooms, let them sweat a little ,then add the tomato and the garlic. Mix well, add the tail bones, mix well again, add wine, salt & pepper ,mix. Once the liquid boils, turn it down to a low flame and let simmer for 5/6 hours or more.
You know the meat is perfect when it comes undone easily and falls off the bone. If you can let is rest over night and eat it the next day it will taste even better. Look at Pierre above licking his fingers before he said: “This is absolutely delicious, and you can quote me!”



Omelette aux Girolles a.k.a Chanterelles

Omelette aux Girolles a.k.a Chanterelles

Last Tuesday we set out to surprise Douglas Rothschild while he was on his epic walk from Troy (N.Y) to Ithaca (N.Y). I will tell you more about this event in a later post, but Matvei Yankelevich had found the perfect spot for Pierre and I to perform our surprise intervention and then have a picnic aperitif. The secret rendez-vous was fixed by Anna Moschovakis who was with Douglas filming & recording the walk for a documentary film project.  The spot was in the Hoxie Gorge, just south of Cortland, N.Y. There was a place to hide, and then a place to relax next to a meandering stream where we sipped a beautiful blueberry wine just purchased up the road at Cherry Knoll Farm by Douglas & Anna. Usually I don’t like these wines, but this one was particularly good. Matvei had also spotted chanterelles and I had the honor of picking & keeping them!  What a beautiful omelet we had for breakfast the next morning at the lovely home of poet Lori Anderson-Moseman & Tom Moseman in Ithaca, where poet friend Matthew Klane was also visiting.

The recipe is simple:
I never wash chanterelles, but simply remove the dirt/sand with a soft brush or a soft, slightly damp cloth.
Cut them into two or four pieces depending on  size.

With a fork beat the eggs vigorously (2 per person).
add salt + pepper to taste

Heat olive oil with a dollop of butter in a pan, add the your chanterelles and cook over medium heat until soft, then add some garlic and parsley, toss for a few minutes and remove from the pan.

Wipe the pan clean and and return it to the stove with more olive oil and another dollop of butter. When it is really hot pour the egg batter into the pan. Begin to stir the eggs while letting them coagulate some and mixing it in with the more liquid part. When semi soft add the Chanterelles, & mix them in.  If you have a very good pan and le tour de main —that is, the knack for it — loosen the edges by shaking the pan and make the omelet curl on itself, slide it off at an angle onto a warm plate, let it settle for 30 seconds to a minute, and fold it.  If you need a little help use a spatula & fold over and slide it on a plate.

Also, before eating mushrooms you have gathered yourself make sure they are edible! You can find some info here. Once a friend  told me that it is a good idea to save a little piece of the mushroom in case there is a problem. We had been totally reassured by Matvei who is a connoisseur, as I  am more familiar with the Pyrenean ones I wanted to make sure we were not dealing with false chanterelles. Anyhow, we ate them and we are here to tell the tale. We had our omelet for breakfast, but it can make a great lunch and can be accompanied by my simple salad (video here)  and a little glass of light red wine!

Maybe time to reread  Elizabeth David’s book: An Omelette and a Glass of Wine !

Scream for Mint Ice Cream!

Scream for Mint Ice Cream!

Yes! Scream for my Mint Ice Cream, and there’s not even cream in it.! Not because I am concerned about cutting the calories down, no, but simply because for years I thought this was the way ice cream was always made. When I grew up at the family Hotel Poste & Golf in Luchon, I really enjoyed hanging out in the kitchen but especially when Crème Glacée was au menu. Yummy! I would always get the first taste and get to leak the giant paddle. I loved vanilla flavor the best, though coffee, chocolate, caramel where not bad either.
In French the generic term for ice cream is glace, so for a long time, and because of the recipe I am about to share with you, I didn’t know there was cream in ice cream and to me the cream
referred to was the one I watched the cook make on the stove. Well, I have found out about all the other ice creams, gelati, sorbets… but this is still my favorite recipe, so here it is:

The process starts by making a crème anglaise or custard which is what gives the rich, velvety texture with a clean refreshing finish. The recipe I used is based on an Escoffier recipe I have adapted.

Ingredients:

1 quart of whole milk (organic pasture is best)
7 egg yolks
1 cup of sugar
a dash of vanilla
1 fresh bunch of mint

Recipe:

Boil the milk.
In a bowl stir energetically the egg yolks and sugar with a wooden spoon until the mixture becomes almost white and  the texture can form  a “ribbon” when lifted.

Poor the milk in the mixture slowly and mix thoroughly.
Poor the mixture back into a clean pan over low/medium heat.
Stir constantly making an “8 shape” in the pan with a wooden spoon.  Never bring it to a boil, your cream will curdle and will be ruined* . Your cream is ready when thick enough to coat the spoon.


Once the cream is cooked, add the clean fresh mint and let infuse until the mixture cools down completely. Strain and reserve in the fridge overnight.  The next day your cream will have thickened more and you are now ready to churn it. I use a Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker, a great present from my son Joseph & his wife. It takes less than 25 minutes to churn it. Once your cream is frozen reserve in a container — or a mold— and save it in freezer until you are ready to serve it.

And by the way, this cream can be used for other desserts like Ile flottante, or served with fresh fruits & pound cake. It can also be flavored with saffron, coffee, caramel….be creative.

I didn’t get a chance to take a picture but I served this one with strawberries  topped with melted chocolate and garnished with roasted almonds. C’est bon!

*though if that happens, try pouring the cream in a bottle, close tightly and shake vigorously.


Keep the Ink! Cook it…II!

Keep the Ink! Cook it…II!

The previous post showed  how to clean  squids while saving their precious ink to make the wonderful recipe Calamares in su Tinta,  Calamars à l’Encre or Squid in their own Ink. But first let me share some sweet family history about this dish.

When we first moved to this country in 1987, my son Joseph was 6. When he started school we were told there was a cantina where the kids could buy their lunches. At first we were all eager to blend in so we decided to go with it. First day of school, and little Joseph comes home appalled reporting that there was no lunch served, only pizza and hot dogs! AND kids who brought their own lunches had peanut & jelly sandwiches —to this day I don’t think he would consider eating one unless truly starved. We then decided to pack him a real lunch, and that didn’t include sandwiches, that was picnic food, he was used to French public schools ,then family style, sit down three course meal! So I purchased a thermos box and packed him a hot lunch for many years. His favorite one was to take to school: squid in their own ink — needless to say not a popular item to trade lunch! It is still one of his favorite dishes and he actually did partake of this batch. Alors, voilà la recipe for Joseph Mastantuono and for poet Jonathan Skinner who asked for it.

Calamars à l’Encre

5 lbs of squids cleaned, ink sacks set aside
1 medium chopped onion
1 peeled & seeded tomato
4 cloves of garlic chopped fine
1/2 bottle of red wine —French Languedoc or Spanish—
1/3 cup of  Spanish Brandy
3 tablespoons Arrowroot flour ( or two of regular flour)
1/2 cup of chopped parsley for garnish

– Cut the cleaned and drained squid cones into rings —  I don’t cut the tentacles though some people do and I cut the rings about 1 inch thick.

-Warm a skillet with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, add the onions, cook gently until slightly golden.

-Meanwhile prepare your ink:

with a pestle (or the back of a spoon) apply pressure to the sacks to force the ink through the mesh of the strainer. Pour the red wine over the sacks in the strainer and keep working until you have extracted the ink from the bags. Save.

-Add the cut & dried squid to the skillet, mix well with the onions. Once the squid start getting opaque and stiffen add the Brandy and flambé safely (if you don’t flambé is not a big deal). Mix well.

– Add garlic, tomato & mix well.

-Add ink with wine, mix well.

-Sprinkle the three table spoons of arrowroot on top. Mix very well.

-Add more wine, if needed, so that liquid covers squid to 3/4.

-Bring to a gentle boil, then turn it down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or so. Your squid have to be very tender.

I like serving it with saffron rice, but white rice is good too.
Bon Appétit! And please report if you make it.



Pasta Express & Drawings du Jour

Pasta Express & Drawings du Jour

Quick Salmon Pasta

I don’t eat much pasta but before a gig I like to have an early dinner that will give enough energy to be able to sing three hours later and pasta & lox is perfect for me.
So on Monday before going to our gig at The Local 269
with Pierre Joris & Michael Bisio — snippet of concert here— I made us a salmon, scallion & fusili express dish. My friend Dawn Clements —who is opening another drawing extraordinaire at The Boiler today— had given me a delicious piece of lox from the Acme Smoked Fish store in Brooklyn. It took me 14 minutes to make the dish including cooking the pasta:
Cook  pasta al dente.
Cut pieces of lox.
In a pan bring one cup of heavy cream to  a boil and add
scallions cut at a bias  for one minute.
Combine it all.
Add a little salt, a lot of fresh ground pepper & shavings of Parmesan cheese….
Voilà c’est tout
!

Beside the drawing concert series there is another series in constant progress and below are 2 pieces  Also in serious progress the Augustus Saint Gaudens script with  new discoveries on Bernard Saint Gaudens his father, and a dead line coming up very soon for the script.