Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cookery…week two…

Right…so for my adult life until today I had considered anchovies something on the order of sinister and nasty. I had been told they were. Yeah. I was also told I loved shrimp at an impressionable age and I stuff myself with them to this day. There is an English…condiment…for lack of a better word for it called Patum Peperium or Gentleman’s Relish. The real stuff is made by a single company in the UK and they don’t exactly want to share the recipe. My hat is off to Ray and Pam Williams for this very, very tasty copycat. N.B.: I’ve never had the real stuff. I don’t know how close a copy this, in fact, is. I do know that it’s very good, especially thinly spread on freshly toasted homemade English Brown Bread and topped with soft scrambled eggs.

"Patum Peperium was invented in 1828 by an Englishman called John Osborn. The original "Gentleman's Relish "made from a blend of anchovies, butter, exotic herbs and spices. This classic recipe has remained a secret over the years, passed down through generations by word of mouth. Today, this delicacy is only made at Elsenham where the original recipe is still in use. This is my version of this recipe."

4 oz Anchovies in Olive Oil (2 cans)
¼ tsp Dill Weed
½ tsp Garlic Powder
¼ tsp Ginger Powder
¼ tsp Lemon Peel
¼ tsp Ground Mace
½ tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
4 Tbsp Butter
Pinch Cayenne Pepper

Directions: Process in blender until smooth

My notes are as follows: I used nutmeg, freshly grated, in place of mace (couldn’t find my grinder at that moment). I added a pinch or so of white pepper in addition to an equal amount of cayenne. I used my homemade Worcestershire sauce. My anchovies were Agostino Recca again obtained from Central Grocery here in the French Quarter. I also used only lemon zest not full peel – if you try this and you use full peel tell me how it turns out.

This was Major Kitchen Project #3. Project #4 is tomorrow (homemade red sauce from San Marzano tomatoes). So far there are only Minor Kitchen Projects in line behind this. Major #5 looms but stock making is a little ways off for a while. I’m sure to be pickling and canning some more English goodies…pickled onions, homemade Branston pickle. I have to laugh. I’m in the home of Creole and Cajun food. I’m typically a bistro style cook (and the aforementioned cuisine adapts itself nicely to such). And my last few Major Projects are English. There is comedic value in there somewhere.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Too long between posts...

Saturday morning – lateish – headed into Saturday afternoon finds me finally able to post to my blog again. We’ve been rather busy unpacking, washing, putting away, and generally trying to organize our new apartment in this grand old city. I feel very good this weekend – both projects are already done and I still have a day and change to relax and try to enjoy things. I made Worcestershire sauce last night. This was one of those projects that had beckoned for some time now but never came to fruition until last evening. I had finally assembled the ingredients – the worst being the anchovies – I simply refused to use those vile things in tins at the local grocery for under a dollar. I went to Central grocery here and lo and behold they stocked Agostino Recca anchovies in olive oil for a reasonable price versus the Ortiz brand at another merchant for a king’s ransom. The rest of the ingredients were simple to find and press into service. I warn you in advance – there are multiple variations on this theme – Emeril has one, Commanders Palace has one in the cookbook authored by the late Jamie Shannon, and I am certain that there are more out there. I hybridized two or three of these and so far it seems to be very worth it. Danno over at NOLACuisine lists his recipe as a take on the one from Commander’s and I split his and Emeril’s. Warning: this takes time…anywhere from 3 to 6 hours – mostly inactive time – but ya gotta stir it now and again. The resultant product is more akin to syrup than to the commercial stuff. It’s also much sweeter, sharper, and spicier – so be forewarned – it may be habit forming. It also makes the whole house smell of vinegar, horseradish, spices, peppers, onions, garlic, and the like – you may elect to simmer this outdoors to avoid such.

MAF’s Homemade Worcestershire Sauce

1 T Extra-virgin Olive Oil
1 T Canola Oil
3 medium onions – coarsely chopped
5 jalapeño peppers, stems and seeds, coarsely chopped
10 to 12 garlic cloves, crushed and roughly chopped
1 T whole black peppercorns
1 t whole cloves
2 T Kosher salt (I used Avery Island salt I obtained on my visit there but otherwise it’s all about Diamond Crystal in my book)
4 oz anchovy fillets (I recommend Ortiz or Recca, but use what you can find)
12 oz Steen’s Cane Syrup
16 oz dark corn syrup
12 oz molasses
2 peeled and chopped lemons (get all the pith off, and zest these poor souls before you cut the peel off…I forgot this part)
½ lb fresh horseradish, peeled and grated (note: wear eye protection…this is worse than 100 onions)
3 ½ T tamarind concentrate or 3 T tamarind paste
2 qt distilled white vinegar
4 c water

Heat oil in a stockpot – I used a 8 or 12 qt – and add onions, peppers, and garlic and sweat these down for 8 to 10 minutes – you want to release the essence and soften them up – the recipes call for sautéing them – I sweated them and got wonderful results. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 3 to 6 hours or until reduced by more than half – you should wind up with approximately 3 pints and the product will coat the back of a spoon.

Note: before beginning this or any home canning project please consult several resources. If you’ve never done this before read about it – I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination – I’ve got lots of experience with sanitation for brewing and food handling but it only takes one “oops” and you’ve just made your closest friends dreadfully ill. Please also note that this happens at the end of cooking, not one moment before. If you want to keep this product around a while you can get some pint or half pint canning jars and lids (with rings) and wash them in warm soapy water, rinse well, and then immerse the jars and lids (set the rings aside here) into a pot of simmering water (NOT boiling, simmering) to cover them completely, cover the pot, turn off the heat and let them sit for 10 minutes. Remove hot jars from water (proceed with great care, this is extremely hot water and glass), draining well, and stand upright on a towel. Ladle hot product into hot jars (I used a funnel to avoid having a total mess) to within half an inch of the top (also called airspace). Remove hot lids from water and place on jars. Carefully put rings on jars and tighten (this stuff is hot – use a towel or something to protect your hands). Place on a canning rack in a pot of rapidly boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove jars (carefully again – we’re talking verge of culinary napalm here) and set on a towel and allow them to cool completely. Check lids to make certain you have a seal (the middle should be slightly indented where the “button” was pulled in), tighten rings, and store for a minimum of two weeks to allow product to age.