Fish N’ Chips please, Gov’naah!!

fish n chips

Comfort food is what it’s all about!

It is such a joy, we derive from returning to flavors of our childhood. Fun food, heart-warming food, food that you reminisce about. Interestingly enough most comfort food stems from poverty. Creations relying on inexpensive cuts of meat/fish, and the cheapest ingredients available. There are countless examples: American Soul food,Mac&Cheese, Meatloaf,Rice & Refried beans (also Latin Americas’ protein supplement), Hummus & Fava Beans (the North African protein supplement), Pasta,etc.

As every country has its own array of comfort food, Fish N’ Chips are The Brittish empires’ greatest contribution to the culinary world! Well…maybe that’s debatable, but it’s definitely the food for which English cuisine is most famous. Fish N’ Chips became popular in South-East England and London in the early 1800′s. They were even referenced in Charles Dickens’, “Oliver Twist” (published 1838). The first recorded Fish N’ Chip shop was opened between 1860-1865 by Joseph Malin in London. Sold for Nine pence in the 1800′s, Fish N’ Chips became the quintessential poor man’s food.

Trawling ( pulling nets through the water behind the ship), which became the main fishing method in 19th century England, made fish abundant and thus inexpensive. Along with the fact that potatoes were possible to farm on almost any soil, and could survive the British Isles’ harsh winter, made fish and potatoes the perfect choice for the hungry working class.

Fish N’ Chip shops and carts are still the main English working man’s lunch or Friday night dinner following the Roman Catholic Church’s tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays, especially during lent.

Traditionally served wrapped in newspaper, the fish is beer battered and deep fried with the fries. It is then drizzled with malt vinegar or onion vinegar (the vinegar used for pickling onions). Classically a Cod family fish is used (Cod, Haddock, Pollock, Hake), these are lean white flesh fish that are found in great numbers in the Atlantic Ocean.

My recipe : 12 servings

Ingredients:

3 lbs Cod fillets cut to 2 oz pieces

salt & white pepper to taste

oil for frying (for best results use peanut oil – it has the highest smoking point)

2 lemons cut to wedges

Batter:

2 cups flour

1 tbsp active dry yeast

1 cup warm water

2 tsp oil

1 bottle (12 fl oz) beer – (I use toasted lager!)

2 egg whites whipped to soft peaks

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

Chips:

3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut to battonettes (1/2 inch wide finger shaped)

cold water to cover fries (keeps potatoes from oxidizing and maintains crispness)

Method:

1. Sprinkle yeast over the warm water and let stand until fully dissolved.

2. Mix flour, salt and sugar and make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture, oil and beer and stir to combine only.Gently fold in the egg whites.

3. Let stand for 1/2 hour until the batter becomes frothy.

4. Pat the fish fillets and season.

5. Heat frying oil to 350 degrees F. Drain well and fry  potatoes, only to cook through – no color!Fry in batches! Keep aside.

6. Reheat the oil to 400 degrees F (the cold batter will make the oil temp drop initially).

7. Dip the fish in the batter and fry. Add the fries for the last 2 minutes to color and crisp up.

8. Toss the fries in a mixing bowl with salt.

9. Serve with malt vinegar and lemon wedges .

10. Mmmm Good!

“Sire, I have more need of casseroles than written instructions”

Prince Talleyrand,France’s representative at the Congress of Vienna, 1815.

http://www.waronterrornews.com/images/balkans-map.gif

Aware of the the great strategic use that could be made of the weeks of feasting and merrymaking,the young prince convinced king Louis the XVIII,to let his gifted chef Antonin Careme ,accompany the prince to the congress of Vienna 1815.  Culinary extravagance and hospitality,have long been used to facilitate diplomacy,but those culinary creations have always outlived any diplomatic achievement gained that way!

“Although the Austrian Arbiter of European politics, Prince Metternich,is long gone, the Sachertorte created by his chef has conquered the world”

Balkan cuisine is the perfect example !  The heritage of two formidable empires formed the Balkans’ cuisine – the Ottoman (Turkish) empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, both of which have been gone for nearly a century. In fact, Balkans is a Turkish word meaning Wooded Mountains. At one time the Habsburg Family’s  Empire (Austro-Hungarian) reached from the borders of Czarist Russia to the shores of the Adriatic Sea, and consisted of over a dozen nationalities with more than 51 Million people speaking 16 different languages.

The Ottoman Empire reigned over a large part of the Balkans, and mainly spun south east of The meeting point of The Sava & Danube rivers (in today’s Belgrade). Today the empires are ashes but their cooking rules  where their political diplomacy failed.

Having that i am opening a Balkan restaurant in NYC this fall, i invited some of my friends to my house in Brooklyn to feast on Balkan delicacies and learn about their origins.

Educational part of the evening !

The menu

Table setting:table setting

Proja-Corn bread fritters baskets

Aijvar-eggplant caviar

Balkan salad

Prsute-Assortment of cured meats

Kajmac- fresh ,whey based cheese

Slivovitz- plum brandy shots.

sardines

First course:

Fried fresh sardines, lemon and parsley dipping sauce

Second courses:

Gibanica-thin puff pastry filled with cheeses

Burek/PastelIRolling Urmasice cookies

Burek- thin puff pastry filled with meat and onions

served with traditional pickled vegetables and salad.

Main course :

Roasted Rabbits over Duvec ( baked rice ,potato slices and peppers)

Mmmmm Good Bunny !

Dessert:

Assortment of cookies – Urmasice, chocolate-almond balls, chaldikias

Turkish Coffee

Apple semolina cake


feasters

From left :Me ( Eran), Mali, Telma, Bryan, Cameron, Iri, Jackie( photos).


Good piggy ! The story of Buchalter the Suckling Pig

Buchalter( piggy)

In this picture:    Piggy minus the head , solely out of consideration of the squeamish

( otherwise, he’d be frolicking in the pan,quince in mouth!)

Well…this is the first recipe posting and the story behind it!
An important part in each of my travels involves visiting the local markets. It’s a big part of experiencing any new place for me and then…I feel like cooking and having a feast. A few months back I had the opportunity to visit Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It just so happened that I had met some incredible people and also it just so happened that one of those people was celebrating a birthday (shout out to May and Don in Toronto!), so I had the perfect reason to prepare a feast.

Following a few earlier trips to the market, I sat down and came up with the menu for the feast. The next day I went to the local market and shopped for all of the ingredients I needed. I found some exciting ones too! For example a13lb suckling pig, Nopale (cactus), quinces, dry chipotle peppers, quail’s eggs….

The market in Puerto Vallarta

I decided to name the pig Buchalter (my mother’s maiden name) and proceeded to make squealing sounds and chase my mother and sister in the kitchen while holding Buchalter (I am 33 by the way…I know!).

The menu:

Amuse Bouche:
Grilled bread coins topped with ash covered goat cheese chorizo crisp and fried quail’s egg

Amuse Bouche

Table Setting:
Fresh homemade Branch shaped Bread (of course I baked it)
Grilled Nopale strips in Olive Oil
Assortment of toasted fresh chilies

First Courses:

Sugar cane skewered shrimp with garlic-butter and a cane-lime sauce

Mexican cinnamon skewered kingfish with lime-cilantro and chilies
Main Courses:
Whole roasted suckling pig with Quinces, potatoes, chorizo and smoked chilies
Shaved Jicama and Endive salad with fried avocados

Dessert:
Stewed peach tart

I chose to share my recipe for the Whole Roasted Suckling Pig :
Ingredients:
A 12-13 Lb Suckling pig
5 Quinces cored and cut to wedges
5 Russet potatoes peeled and  cut to 8 pieces each
2 pcs Chorizo sausage ,sliced to coins.
2 pcs dry smoked Chilies
¼ cup fresh marjoram leaves
¼ cup oil
salt and pepper

Method :
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Season the pig well inside and out – rub it with 2-3 tbsp oil and score the skin on both sides.
3. Insert 5-6 chorizo coins and a dozen marjoram leaves into the belly cavity.
4. In an oven proof dish or deep cooking tray – toss together the quinces, potatoes, and chorizo with salt, pepper and the rest of the oil. Place the pig on top of the potato mixture belly down.
5. Add 1 ½ cups water and the chilies. Roast until internal temp of 145 degrees F is achieved (about 3 hours). Make sure to baste the pig every 20-25 minutes.
6. Raise the temp to 375 degrees F for an additional 20 minutes in order to crisp the skin up even further, turning the pig frequently.
7. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Good Piggy!

From left : Maya,Mark,me( Eran),Ida,May(Birthday girl),Saki,Don,Mary,John(photos)

The Feasters

“Hello world ? or…just @#%$% publish something already !”

The infamous “ hello world” first post is the toughest, and can make some people ( like me ) procrastinate on this task for months. Some ( again like me) will even open their twitter account (it’s short=easy) before they have website or blog to refer twitters to !

What should I write about?
What would represent me the best ?
How would it be just perfect? Stand out ?…..
So I researched….looked at the best, funniest, most viewed….and pursued to contact my favorite  bloggers.

They all said the same thing: ( I’m paraphrasing) “ …you just got to get the ball rolling..”
So…I decided to share a funny family anecdote.
My grandfather was an amazing man;  simple, loving, kind and had the most naturally wonderful sense of humor. One afternoon , many years ago, my mother came to my grandparents’ flat in Jerusalem ( her in laws). She noticed my grandfather’s fly was open, and quietly said to him :” Yaacov, your fly is open..” My grandfather didn’t even flinch or look down, but rather said : “ when the bird no longer flies, it’s okay to leave the cage open…”
More funny, serious , illuminating  blogs can now follow!….the worst is behind me!

Perfectionism is the worst excuse for not doing  !

Just  $#@% publish something already !