Saturday, October 20, 2012

To Murder Hunger

Sometimes the smallest thing intrigues me, and in this case it was the name of this dish, so simple, a little fun--Matambre, or to "murder hunger" in spanish.
Matambre, rolled, baked and ready to slice. This picture always reminds me of Audrey Two from Little Shop of Horrors.

Tender beef, rolled around vegetables, herbs and eggs
 I believe this dish is basically Argentinian, but may cross over into other cuisines. I started with the basic concept, and then added in a few variations, like the tomato mushroom cooking sauce. I have a series of pictures here for easy following along. As you can see, I have used both string and toothpicks on different occasions, and they both work well. A good idea if you are using toothpicks, count them going in, and count them again when you take them out. Make sure you cook this long enough to allow the meat to be tender. It is wonderful served on the second day as well.

Name translates to "murder hunger" or 'kill hunger"

1 flank steak, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb (have slightly frozen to allow for easier butterflying, thaw before rolling
salt and pepper
1 tsp. pureed garlic mixed with 2 Tbl. chopped green chilies
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro or parsley
3 small carrots, peeled and julienned
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
1 small red onion peeled and cut into thin wedges
1 bunch of baby spinach
3 Tbl. olive oil

butchers twine or toothpicks

about 2 cups chicken or beef broth
1 cup diced tomatoes
about ten mushrooms, sliced
a splash of wine or white balsamic vinegar

preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Using a long sharp knife, carefully butterfly the meat, cutting almost all the way in half, flip open like a book.

Butterflied steak, layered with cilantro, carrots, eggs, onions.
You could improvise and add a variety of your favorite things.
Season the meat liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. Flip it cut side up, wide side facing you. season with oregano, cumin, and rub with garlic and chilies. Cover with a layer of cilantro. Arrange the carrots, eggs and onions lengthwise down the length of the open meat, leaving an inch or so on the far side to allow for rolling.

The final layer of spinach, added in abundance before rolling
Scatter evenly with spinach. Roll the whole thing up jelly roll style, the grain of the meat should run the length of the roll. Tie in 3 or 4 places with butchers twine or secure well with toothpicks.

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or roasting pan thats big enough to accommodate the roll. Brown well on all sides, about 10 to 15 minutes. Pour in broth, tomatoes and mushrooms, wine. stir well, and cover pan.
The beef will not be completely cooked during the browning stage, a good browned surface before baking will add to the flavor and texture of the final dish.
Bake for an hour and 15 minutes. You can eat it immediately, but let it rest about 30 minutes before cutting. Can also be saved for the next day, sliced and served cold or at room temp.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My nephew Giacomo and his Jack-O'lantern

October was always so exciting for all of us, we loved halloween and costumes. More than anything, creativity was central to everything we Deetz kids ever did. So halloween fell right in line, and we all have a ghoulish streak. Perhaps growing up in the cemeteries of New England added to our fascination, and comfort, with the imagery of death. My dad's grave stone studies were omnipresent for years. Add in the haunted house we all lived in and you can see where we got it.

Eric Engstrom and me with Deetz students in cemetery

Giacomo's fantastic pumpkin design
At home, we had art supplies, craft supplies, free reign of all the materials available to us. My mom was an amazingly talented artist, and she encouraged all of us to do our own thing. If we could suggest a costume, my mom made it. If we wanted to make any kind of pumpkin, we made them. The theme of experimentation ran through everything we did growing up and it is so rewarding to see  the next generation of kids having the same fun. Today my nephew Giacomo spent the day with me while his mom, my sister Kelley spent time researching in the archives here. Like any Deetz kid, he only needed a pile of paper and some markers and he was engaged all morning. Because I had gotten him a pumpkin, he got to design the face we were going to carve.

Giacomo with his Jack-O'Lantern
While this is not about cooking directly, I like the parallels between the art we made growing up and the food we all cook now. Try something new, turn old ideas around and add something unexpected, be ready to have things go horribly awry. The reward is always something unique, something personal and something you really had fun doing.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pumpkin Crumb Muffins

Warm, moist and spicy, you can add whatever
favorite pumpkin related spice you like to these.
I am gravitating to a lot of spicy warm baked goods this week, fall is in the air, the weather is turning chilly, and I do quite a lot of baking. If I ever became a professional cook, I suspect it would be as a baker. This makes a very beautiful orange spicy colored muffin with white, crisp/short crumbs on top. I just tweeked Viola's crumb cake and made them into muffins, and I replaced a good percentage of the butter with pumpkin puree, so the nutritional okayness is much higher in this version.

"My" Pumpkin Crumb Muffins:

1-1/3 c. flour
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter

Mix together to form a crumbly mixture, reserve 1/2 cup for topping. (The best way to do this is with your hands, pinching the butter and flour/sugar together. You want a slightly lumpy, irregular crumb, as that will create the crumbly shortbread-texture on top.

To the rest add:

1/2 c. sour milk (add a Tbl of vinegar to regular milk)
1 egg, slightly beaten
2/3 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
3/4 c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon or to taste
1/2 tsp. of clove and nutmeg (Ground ginger and mace would be good ideas as well)

Prepare your muffin pans with a little spray oil or paper liners. This will make 9 taller muffins or 12 shorter ones. To fill 9 muffin cups, use about 1/3 c. batter each. Evenly sprinkle the reserved topping over the tops.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven. For 9 bigger muffins, bake for about 18 to 22 minutes, for a dozen, bake for 15 to 18 minutes. (If you have empty muffin cups when baking less than 12, just add an ice cube to each one, it will keep the pan from over heating the empty cups.) Test like any other muffin, a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.

You can also add walnuts and/or raisins, 1/2 c each. This can easily be baked in an 8x8" pan as well, greased and lightly floured. Adjust the time, probably about 35 to 40 minutes.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Grandma Viola's Crumb Cake

Today's spin used dried cranberries, and a little extra
spice in the crumb topping. Yes, that is my Dad's tablecloth!
When I was little, my favorite cake in the whole world was from a recipe my maternal Grandma Viola made, a crumb cake with raisins and nuts. It is a large crumbed, moist, spicy cake, with a wonderfully crispy/short topping made with very simple ingredients. I love it, and it was my birthday cake every year, and I have made it hundreds of times, shared the recipe with dozens of friends, and also adapted it into a delicious, moist pumpkin version I will post soon. This recipe was one of the first ones I added to my own personally illustrated cookbook which I prepared before going away to college. I tried to capture many of the family recipes which hadn't been written down, or if they were, they could be found in an end page of a random cookbook or a scrap of paper between some pages.

My 1974 cookbook, Grandma Viola's Crumb Cake Recipe
Recently, I was able to widely distribute this recipe and the pumpkin spin to many of my family members. Especially fun was sending them to my cousins, Tony and Josh Kellar, both accomplished chef's in South Dakota. We all share a branch in Viola's family tree, and they have both spent many months in Vietnam working with my brother Geoff, in his many restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. It was great to have captured this recipe, and been able to redistribute it to another generation of our Kelley family. Geoff has been expanding his offerings in Vietnam, and he has also made some luscious variations on this cake, and I will post his pictures as soon as I get them.

I like to bake almost anything in ceramic dishes, it seems
 to give the cake a softer bottom.

My Grandma Viola's Crumb Cake, original version:

Preheat oven to a moderate oven (this would be about 350F)

2 c flour
1 c sugar
3/4 c butter

Cream these together to an even but coarse crumb (like making pie crust) and set aside 1/2 c of the crumb mixture

to the rest add
1 beaten egg
1 cup sour milk (add a Tbl. of vinegar to the milk to sour it.You could use any mild acid, like lemon juice, or even use buttermilk. The acidity promotes goood leavening action with the baking soda).
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground clove
add raisin and/or chopped walnuts to taste (about 1 cup total, but more or less works)

Mix together and put in a greased floured pan, sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the top and bake until done

I have made this in an 8x8 or a 9 x 13, the 8x8 will cook longer, about 40 minutes, but check it after 30 minutes. Check doneness with a toothpick in the center, it should come out dry and clean, but be careful not to cook it too, long, you want it to be moist. I have made it in muffin pans too.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

300 years ahead of the curve . . .

Annie Roach (right)  and I working on a meal at Plimoth Plantation
a few decades ago
I have mentioned the many professional cooks in the Deetz family, they take all forms. Chefs, bakers, caterers, (bartender here)--maybe even doing demonstration cooking at historic sites counts.  My dad Jim Deetz was first making over things at Plimoth Plantation back in the mid 20th century. More research was done, less myth building. We built houses using 17th-century tools and cooked local, seasonal food, crafted in a way that today would be labeled artisnal. At a time when convenience foods, and packaged goods were at their peak in popularity, we were grinding our own grain, plucking our own chickens, catching and salting our own herring and picking whatever seasonal berries could be had back in the woods. We chopped the wood to build the fires which baked our breads. At the same time, the average American family was using readily available products like canned soups, and instant puddings and artifically colored and sweetened everything.

The Deetz household I grew up in had plenty of these same convenience products, but we also learned how to cook everything from scratch. This worked its way into our daily cooking methods, and with such a big family, I think it was easier to make things the way my mom had when she was younger and lived on a farm, and the way my father's family did one generation away from Italy. I believe in time we would still have embraced the same hand made, seasonal and local foods, but we certainly had an early exposure to a specialty now familiarly known as foodways.  As the Deetz family grew, and we all lived in places like New England and San Francisco/Berkeley area of California, Tucson, Tidewater, and Chicago, not to mention my brothers living in Italy and Viet Nam and Taiwan, we have all soaked up each region and embraced the local, unique foodways.

And for any of you who ever came into the Warren house at Plimoth Plantation where Annie and I were cooking, believe me, we had the best stuff tucked under a cloth at the back of the table :-)

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Mother of All Cinnamon Rolls

My updated sticky version
My mother made some amazing cinnamon rolls, so good, in fact, that I don't believe any of us fell victim to (aka in love with) commercially made cinnamon rolls. Cinnabon's got nuthin' on my mom.  Again, no real recipe was ever used, we all knew Fannie Farmers white bread recipe by heart, and it was a good base for a lot of things we baked. It was what my mom used for her cinnamon rolls. Any yeasted bread dough would work, and as I went on to bake on my own as an adult, I expanded my repertoire. In this version, I use a sweeter white bread dough, and add karo syrup to the brown sugar in the base of the pan.

Makes about a dozen or so rolls?

Bread dough:

1 Tbl. rapid-rise yeast (if using regular yeast, double the rising time)
4 Tbl. sugar
1/4 c. hot water (110 to 115 degrees)
3/4 c. hot milk (110 to 115 degrees)
1/4 c. butter (or other shortening)
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbl. ground cinnamon
3 to 3-1/2 c. all purpose unbleached flour

1/4 c. light karo syrup
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1 stick softened butter
1 cup whole pecan halves
cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling
1 cup raisins (optional)

In a small pan, heat the water and butter. Pour into a mixing bowl, and add the yeast and sugar. Stir together, and add the hot milk, salt and cinnamon. Stir well, and let sit for a few minutes to let the yeast start to bubble.

Add one cup of flour (if you want whole wheat, at this stage make this first cup whole wheat and then use all purpose for the rest). Mix well, I love using wooden spoons in mixing my bread dough. Add enough all purpose flour to make a soft, pliable dough that is not sticky. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. You should start to see bubbles forming under the surface of the dough.

Grease a large bowl, rolling the dough around the bowl to grease the entire ball. Place in bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. You can tell your dough is ready when you poke two fingers into it (Think Three Stooges) and the holes remain in the dough.

Punch down the dough, and place on a floured surface and let rest for ten minutes, I usually invert a bowl over the dough while it rests.

Prepare your pan, 9 x 13" should be about right. In the bottom of the pan, mix together the brown sugar, 6 Tbl. of the butter and the Karo syrup, and spread it evenly across the pan. Sprinkle the pecans over the surface.

When your dough has rested, lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough to about 16 x 10 inches. Melt the rest of the butter and brush over the surface of the bread. You can sprinkle more cinnamon on here and some sugar. You can also sprinkle on the raisins if you are using them.  Roll up the bread, so you have a roll about 15 or 16" wide. Pinch of the seam to keep the roll together.

Slice, using a very sharp knife, into slices that are about an inch thick. Place evenly across the bottom of the pan, on top of the brown sugar topping.

Cover pan with plastic wrap or a towel, and let rise again for about 20 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake for 22 to 28 minutes, or until the bottom is golden brown and the dough is done.  While rolls are cooking, prepare a cookie sheet or other flat pan that is just larger than your baking pan. Cover with foil, and use the pan to invert the rolls as soon as they are done. Place the pan upside down on top of your baking dish and hold it tightly in place. Carefully turn over so you do not get the hot sugary caramel topping on your hands.  If any of the topping remains in the pan, carefully spoon it out and spread over the rolls.