Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Win a Drosselmeyer nutcracker! Enter by 01/04/11

You can win a Drosselmeyer nutcracker! The same one that's featured in the November issue of Vegetarian Times. Just go to www.vegetariantimes.com and enter before January 4th, 2011.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall stew with turkey and pumpkin squash

One of my pressure cooker staples is turkey leg stew. Turkey legs are inexpensive, relatively lean, abundant in the Fall, and become falling-off-the-bone tender when cooked in a pressure cooker. You can vary the ingredients in your turkey leg stew to make a turkey leg osso buco (use canned tomatoes and white wine), or a traditional stew with potatoes, carrots and red wine, or this simple Fall stew/soup with acorn squash segments (I used an orange skinned acorn squash, as you can see in the picture above, but the green skinned acorn squash works fine too). You will be amazed at how easy it is to prepare, and how fast it cooks in the pressure cooker. The Fissler Blue Point Pressure Pan is ideal for this recipe because of the broad skillet design of the cooker. Large turkey legs fit easily inside the Blue Point pressure pan. Naturally, you could make this with four to six chicken legs instead of two turkey legs. Reduce the cooking time by 12 minutes though.

Here's the recipe:
2 turkey legs
1 large carrot cut into chunks
4 stalks celery cut into half inch pieces
1 small acorn squash or substitute a small pumpkin, seeds removed, cut into about six wedges
1 cup white wine
3 cups broth (any broth will do: vegetable, chicken, beef)
herbs such as bay leaf, parsley etc.
2 Tbsps oil

Heat oil in pressure cooker without lid, add turkey legs. Brown lightly on all sides on medium heat. Add carrots and celery. You can also add a chopped onion, if you like. Stir vegetables around for a couple of minutes. Place squash wedges between and around turkey legs. Add wine. Simmer for three minutes. Add broth and herbs. Increase heat to high. Put pressure lid on and close pressure valve. Allow to come to high pressure and then reduce heat to medium low. Cook on high pressure for 35 minutes. Turn off heat and release pressure. The meat will be very tender and the squash skins will also be tender and edible, although some people prefer to scoop the squash flesh off of the skin and discard the skin. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve. If you like the stew to be thick and not soupy, you can thicken with flour or cornstarch.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A pan pizza and grilled pizza in one

I am willing to begrudgingly admit that pizza is generally better in New York City than anywhere else. A New Yorker might tell you that the old, rusted pipes that carry the city's water supply magically imbues the pizza dough with flavorful qualities. Others might just claim that the ability to make a good pizza is genetically inherent in a New Yorker because the first pizza restaurant in America (Lombardi’s, in 189?) opened there, just as a World Series title is their birthright because one of their local baseball teams (the one not called the Mets) is able to carry a payroll four times the size of a Caribbean nation’s GDP.
After eating my fair share of pizza in New York this summer, I think I know why I prefer their pizza (hint: it’s not water) The superior quality is due to a properly crispy, yet chewy, crust. New York pizzerias inherently understand that the key to a good pizza is a proper dough that’s been almost incinerated under high heat. If it’s not a wood-fired oven, it’s a massive gas-burning oven that can reach temperatures of 800-900 degrees and can crisp up a pie in minutes.
This is why a pizza cooked at home is never as good as one we buy from a pizzeria; our ovens just aren’t hot enough. A new oven especially can’t get hot enough, the top temperature is 450-500 degrees (you can go higher, but your oven might start shaking as if possessed). That’s why a pizza stone is imperative if you want to make pizza at home. It’ll boost the temperature of the oven by an extra 200 degrees or so and will assist in properly crisping up your pizza. Even with a stone though, the stone will only get up to 700-degrees, which is far short of the 800-900 degrees a restaurant’s pizza oven can get to. This will lead to a puffed-up, bread-like pizza.
The best way to cook a pizza at home is to use an old gas oven with a pizza stone. If you pump up an old gas oven to it’s highest setting, then it’ll get to 700 degrees. With a pizza stone, you can get close to the temperature a pizza oven can get to. This will lead to a crisper, flatter crust.
If you don’t have an old, gas oven, then your best bet at cooking a pizza is grilling one. Over indirect heat, the dough will crisp up well. And you get the flavor of grilling in your pizza, which is never a bad thing. The disadvantage to this is that it requires you to set up a grill every time you want to make a pizza, and that’s not possible. More often than not, I’ll pan-fry a steak. With that in mind, I decided to “grill” pizzas using Fissler’s Crispy Steelux grill pan. This is really the only way that I can get the extremely high heat to cook the pizza dough without dragging out the grill or building a wood oven in my back yard (a friend of mine actually did that. He spent two months building a gas oven, made a few pizzas, then let the whole thing fall apart under neglect. It was sad)
I decided to use Mario Batali’s pizza dough recipe because he actually has a restaurant in New York dedicated to pizza cooked in a pan. Theoretically, Fissler’s grill pan should work as well, if not better because it has a higher peak temperature and the raised edges allow circulation underneath.
After making this recipe, I should note that the quality of wine you use is actually important. The wine flavor is pronounced in the dough and I wish I used a better quality than the $3 Charles Shaw I got at Trader Joe’s. Also, I'd use a pinch more salt than what the recipe called for. Honestly, if I could do this again, I’d just stick to a basic pizza dough recipe (flour, yeast, sugar, water and salt).
The first pizza I made with Fissler’s grill pan was a basic margherita pizza. It was overcooked because the pan got TOO hot. Within 30 seconds, there were burnt bits everywhere. The raised edges also meant that the part of the dough not in contact with the pan didn’t have enough time to develop any color. You essentially had a black-and-white pizza.
I turned to heat down to medium for subsequent attempts and it worked a lot better with the next pizza.
It only takes about 45 seconds to cook one side of the crust. Then you flip it over, top it, cover the pan and cook for another minute or so. There you go, pizza in less than 3 minutes. In less than an hour, I was able to turn out six pizzas.
This ended up being my favorite. It’s a pizza capricciosa (“capricious” pizza), which has mozzarella, tomato sauce, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, olives and olive oil. I added prosciutto and a hard-boiled egg, which is how the Romans eat one of the few pizzas that Italians load with ingredients.
I wish I got more color on the crusts. But the crusts were properly crispy and chewy at the same time. No, it’s not as good as a good slice of pizza from New York. But this is infinitely more convenient and economical. Even the Rangers can knock off the Yankees with less resources sometimes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Fissler Chef Tour has begun!

Fissler chefs are teaching classes across the country! Here's the Fall schedule. Read the chef's bios below. Fissler foodies unite, at your local kitchen store!
Jane Gaither
Oct 12 Kitchen Affairs, Evansville, IN
Oct 28 International Pantry, Norman, OK
Oct 29 Distinctive D├ęcor, Duncan, OK
Oct 30 Savory Chef, Tulsa, OK

Lars Liebisch 
Oct. 30, Board and Basket, West Lebanon, NH
Nov 11, Cook’s Warehouse, Decatur, GA
Nov 12, Bread Beckers, Woodstock, GA
Nov 12, Cook’s Warehouse, Decatur, GA
Nov 13, Bread Beckers (2 events same day), Woodstock, GA

Chef Dez
Nov 16 Der Kuchen Laden, Fredericksburg, TX
Nov 17 Homewerks, San Antonio, TX
Nov 18 Gourmet Pantry, Lubbock, TX
Nov 19 Gourmet Peddler, Midland, TX
Nov 20 Le Petite Gourmet, La Grange, TX

Chef Lars Liebisch
Lars Liebisch is a charismatic German chef who obtained his classical training at a guesthouse of the East German government, where he cooked for prestigious government officials. After the fall of the Berlin Wall he worked as a chef at one of East Berlin's first Gault-Millau awarded restaurants.  In 1999, Fissler, Europe's No.1 cookware brand, asked Lars to join their elite team of demonstration chefs. With his enthusiasm, talent, and experience, Lars was hugely successful in German television cooking battles. In 2005, he came to Boston, where he worked in fine restaurants and at Jurys Boston Hotel.
Lars now works as a chef for corporate and private events and teaches a variety of cooking classes in New England.  He is also Fissler USA’s official chef, traveling the country to do cooking demonstrations and trainings.
Chef Dez                                                                                                    
When not writing his syndicated food column “Chef Dez on Cooking”, Gordon Desormeaux, better known as Chef Dez, is busy teaching cooking classes, performing live cooking shows, and writing cookbooks. Chef Dez has achieved Canadian certification as a Red Seal Chef. After many years in restaurants working with many different chefs, Dez has directed his broad knowledge and experience into a teaching performance that inspires people to cook. Being a father of four children has increased his understanding of the pressures of bringing daily meals together from scratch for busy families. When not cooking, he loves to look at classic cars and go for walks, but most of all to spend as much time with his family as possible. More about Chef Dez can be found at his website: www.chefdez.com

Jane Gaither
Though she wasn't born on a mountaintop, Jane Gaither has been a Tennessee girl all her life.  Nurtured by generations of farmers, orchardists, beekeepers, gardeners and good cooks, she struck out on her own after college as a baker, recipe developer and demonstrator and never looked back.   Jane develops recipes and menus based on old time country cooking, brought up to date with international adaptations.  Healthy eating and cooking convenience are principles Jane learned from her mother’s, and grandmother’s use of pressure cookers, one of Jane’s favorite kitchen tools. There's nothing hillbilly about the dishes she has created for her husband and the three little boys who love to help her in the kitchen - just deliciousness.  Appearing on local television, in newspaper features and at kitchen stores throughout the southeast, Jane loves to share her discoveries with her fans.  Accounts of her kitchen adventures can be found at http://gourmetgadgetgal.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 6, 2010