Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Neue Galerie

File:Egon Schiele 079.jpg
Egon Shiele self-portrait
In New York City there is this spectacular museum which houses Austrian and German Expressionist art and design. Klimt is there, alongside his protege, Egon Shiele, whom I had never heard of, but blew me away with his audacity.

To recover from the aesthetic overload, you can step into Cafe Sabarsky, a gorgeous recreation of  Viennese cafe life  with a view of Central Park through its windows.   Everything is visually elevated here, from the German nationals dining on the main courses accompanied by their children and bottles of Riesling to the cups of hot coffee served alongside chunks of sugar and bowls of freshly whipped cream.    Every detail is striking or gorgeous.


This recipe, although not as pretty when I make it as the photograph in the cookbook, reminds me that I once visited.

Rosti potatoes from Cafe Sabarsky
adapted from Kurt Gutenbrunner

Per person:
Boil a russet potato unpeeled until just cooked through.
Place in a bowl filled with ice water.  When cool enough to handle,  peel, and grate into a bowl.
Salt and pepper generously, a touch of nutmeg, mix thoroughly.

In a small saucepan heat oil until hot, turn potatoes into it, flatten.  Cook on one side 3-4 minutes then turn for another 3-4 minutes.

Ideally it should be wildly crisp on both sides, and tender within.  Mine come out with mixed results, but they remain delicious.  Consider them Austrian hash browns.  Serve with sour cream or yogurt, garnished with chives, maybe even smoked salmon.  Or serve alongside pot roast, any roasts, Calvados chicken, or, when the cravings hit, all on their own.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Calvados Chicken

This is an easy and delicious way to jazz up that chicken you've been too bored to face.

For one whole chicken or three to four pounds of chicken pieces:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Slick a pan (that can later go into the over, covered) with oil, heat to medium low.  Add half a pound sliced mushrooms.  Salt and pepper, toss around a bit, and cover for five minutes (you will interrupt the cooking to stir them around a bit).  Remove mushrooms (now intensely mushroomed flavored) onto a plate.  Braise your salt and peppered chicken pieces, skin side down first, 3-4 minutes a side, half that for the breasts.  Remove to plate with mushrooms.

Saute 4 peeled and diced granny smith apples (really, I'm not fussy about which kind) 2-4 minutes until browned.  Add a diced shallot, and four minced cloves of garlic. Saute and stir around until everything's soft.

If you have Calvados, a fancy French apple brandy, now's your time to add 1/4 cup.  If not, brandy will do.  Cook until reduced by half (the heat of the pan seems to do that practically immediately). Add two cups chicken broth, one half cup apple cider.  Stir around, bring to a simmer, add chicken pieces (except white meat.  Not yet!).  Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of flour on top, and place into your oven for ten minutes.  Remove, now add the white meat.  Return to oven, covered, and braise for another 20 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and a tablespoon of butter.  Gently mix, and it's ready!

Spectacularly full of flavor.  We ate it with the English peas and Rosti potatoes, potato details to follow in a future post.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dutch Babies

Kinda sounds like gangster patois, doesn't it? 

Original photo! Shocking, isn't it?
 In Anaheim there is a restaurant called the Original Pancake House.  Along with simple, satisfying coffee you could get Swedish crepes and a dish of lingonberry jam or an apple pancake that can feed a small country.  On spring mornings, where the birds had been singing before dawn, and the air was as cool as the clear sky, we'd head over and I'd order a German pancake, also known as a Dutch baby.  Garnished with lemon wedges and powdered sugar, it was an ethereal treat, between the tang of the lemon and the sweet, and the crunch of the edges.

Easy to do at home, while the Meyer lemons are falling off the backyard tree:
(adapted from James McNair)

Heat your oven to 475 degrees
Place two tablespoons butter in a 4 inch baking dish (skillet, ramekin). Melt in oven.

one egg
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp almond extract
lemon zest

Pour batter into melted butter.  Bake 10-12 minutes until the edges raise and crisp.  Garnish with lemon wedges and powdered sugar, or toppings that sing to you: sliced bananas, toasted walnuts, shredded coconut, fresh berries.

Make larger batches in pie plates.

Did it disappear too quickly? Easy enough to make another one.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Peas in a Pod

Over at the LA Times Russ Parsons shares a simple way of cooking English peas.
And you know, I've always wondered.  I've bought the things shucked, and boiled them too little or too long.  I've bought the things in their pods, and been annoyed by the labor of freeing them.
So, what's the secret? According to Russ and his buddy Sylvia Thompson:

In a saucepan bring an inch of water to boil.  Add a chunk of butter.  Throw in your English peas, cover and simmer for three minutes or longer (if older and larger).  Drain, salt, and eat as if they were edamame.
Very delicious indeed.