…So, my mom gave me a notebook to collect recipes. I filled half of it with handwritten family recipes my mom dictated to me, and another half were magazine clippings and recipe cards. This soup recipe came from the second half. I’ve never changed or modified it. Because this recipe is genius.
If you read about original Salsa Macha, you’ll see that there is a reason for its name. Salsa Macha comes from Veracruz region that features extremely hot chile peppers comapeños available only locally. It’s a truly fiery condiment. When this salsa is made in other regions of Mexico, comapeños are replaced with other hot peppers (e.g., arbol). I admired this condiment not so much for its heat, but for the bold and intense flavors. To adjust it for my palate, I combine my favorite dry and fresh red chile peppers, which are fruity and smokey, but pretty mild.
This recipe is classic French/European recipe for chicken liver pate, except for the first step with soaking livers in starchy ice bath. Most recipes include soaking livers in milk. “It is often said that milk improves the taste, purges blood, lightens the color, or affects some other property of the meat.” (“Modernist Cuisine” (Nathan Myhrvold, p. 147) Soaking lean proteins in cold water (or flavored liquids) mixed with starch is “velveting”, a technique used to prevent delicate foods from overcooking. I’ve heard about it first from my Japanese friend and then found more in Chinese Gastronomy by Hsiang Ju Lin and Tsuifeng Lin.
For years, every season I’ve been looking for a pumpkin which taste would come close to those my parents were growing in Ukraine in nineties. There were so many varieties of pumpkins and winter squashes to try, yet I couldn’t find a single one exciting — too bland, colorless, and fibrous for my taste, especially after cooking. I was ready to give up after my latest disappointment with Sugar Pie pumpkin, when decided to give a try to a larger Cinderella pumpkin I avoided earlier because of the size. Well, so far this variety is the closest to Ukrainian pumpkins I remember. The taste is still not as bright and fruity-sweet as I’d like it to be, but the color and texture are exceptional! Sunny orange and silky juicy, it’s a pleasure to eat it just roasted or cook with its puree. To really enjoy this soup recipe, use your favorite, the best tasting pumpkins and always start from scratch.
Freezing herbs is the easiest and fastest way to preserve them. When added at the end of cooking or right before serving, frozen herbs work almost the same as fresh. You can freeze whole, chopped, or pureed herbs. Freeze them in water to make flavored ice cubes for drinks and cocktails. Or freeze them mixed with vegetable oil, butter, or animal fat to use for cooking savory dishes. Frozen herbs retain their taste, smell, and nutritional benefits for up to one year. Since ramps season is so short, freezing is a great way to make this unique ingredient available for longer than a few weeks.
Edamame has a slightly sweet, mild, fresh herbal flavor and nutty texture, with only traces of beany taste. Three years ago edamame “hummus” has been served in every restaurant I visited on Big Island. Healthy and refreshing snack, it was a hit for a reason. Why hummus? Hawaiian chefs created their signature variations playing with additional ingredients and ways to serve it, but based them on the same culinary idea — cooked beans are ground into a thick paste and mixed with vegetable oil, lime juice, and seasoning. Sounds like “hummus,” but with different beans, doesn’t it?
every passionate cook insists on developing their own, perfect to their taste recipe. Where all these marinade variations come from? What was at the beginning? Now that we know about basic adobo, let’s compare ingredients, shall we?
In Mexican cuisine, adobo is a dark red, flavorful paste made from ground chiles. Some herbs, spices, and acidic ingredients (e.g., citrus juice or vinegar) are added. It can be used as a marinade and as cooking or serving sauce. The word adobado is an adjective to describe dishes where adobe is used as cooking sauce. Adobo heat level depends on chiles used for making it. Ancho Adobo is very mild. A combination of Ancho and Chipotle Meco is my favorite.
Last year I experimented with old recipes and, surprise surprise, didn’t find traditional possets pleasing at all. Well, I don’t mind curdled milk, but not with hot alcohol like ale or sherry. The only variation I enjoyed was my own “invention” — hot frothed milk flavored with honey (or caramel) and whiskey. Not curdled. This winter I spent more time researching hot milk and whiskey drinks and found Scottish Posset and Scáiltín. There is very little information available about them. I do not know how traditional or popular they are now. The only difference between the Scottish Posset and “my” recipe is the thickener. I used Xanthan gum instead of oatmeal. I couldn’t resist to modify the recipe a little, There is no reason to strain oats, if you have a good blender. They add velvety viscosity to the drink.
Simple, but cooked with great care, variable stuffings (potato, chicken, mushrooms) easily win hearts and souls of my guests, when folded in French wheat or buckwheat (gluten-free) crepes, and adorned with simple dairy-based sauces and creative toppings. Every small plate of the menu is attractive and delicious. They are easy to make in large batches. Make them ahead, refrigerate, and reheat right before party time.