Thursday, December 29, 2011

Party Food for New Year's Eve and beyond, from Valerie Aikman-Smith's "Salt"

We all use salt in our cooking, but how often have you thought creatively about salt? Salt is more than just, well, salty. In the cookbook Salt: Cooking with the World's Favorite Seasoning, Valerie Aikman-Smith presents salt beyond the shaker, using unusual salts (like the sel gris and truffle salt called for below) in recipes that extend to cocktails and desserts as well as entrees and appetizers.

Valerie Aikman-Smith is a food stylist and writer based in Los Angeles. She trained in her native Scotland and started her cooking career working at Greens in San Francisco and the legendary Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Valerie then turned to food styling for film, television, commericials, and print. Valerie's talents mean that the photographs (by Jonathan Gregson) in this cookbook are as gorgeous as the recipes are delicious.

For the Fissler Foodies' New Year's Eve party we are planning to serve Valerie's Corsican Fried Olives and Gold Potato Crisps with Truffle Salt. For both of these recipes we will use the Fissler Pressure Pan Set, which comes with a deep fry basket, making it very easy to lift the crisps and olives out of the hot oil.

Corsican Fried Olives
Recipe courtesy of Valerie Aikman-Smith

This is a recipe that you end up sharing with all your friends because they are so divine. One bite: that’s all it takes. It’s fun to use both black and green olives.

40 pitted medium to large green and black olives
4 oz/115g goats cheese at room temperature
1 teaspoons herbes de Provence
Zest of 1 orange
1 egg
1 tablespoon of flour
1 cup/2oz/56g of panko or coarse breadcrumbs
2 cups/16fl oz/500ml of vegetable oil.
Sel de Gris to sprinkle

You will need a pastry bag with a small nozzle.
Deep frying thermometer

In a bowl mix together the goats cheese, herbs and orange zest until smooth.  Put the cheese mixture in the pastry bag and set aside.
Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl and set aside.  Put the flour on a small plate and the breadcrumbs on another.
Take the pastry bag and pipe each olive until full with the cheese mixture.
Dip each olive in the flour, then the egg and toss in the breadcrumbs until well coated.
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan until the oil reaches 350F/180C on a deep frying thermometer. If you don’t have a deep frying thermometer test the oil by dropping a breadcrumb in, it should turn golden brown in about 20 seconds.
Fry the olives in batches until crispy and golden brown about a minute.  Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle generously with the sel de gris and serve.

*Panko are coarse Japanese breadcrumbs but if you can’t find them use regular.

Gold potato crisps with truffle salt
Recipe by courtesy of Valerie Aikman-Smith

Potatoes, truffles and salt are a match made in heaven.  The real trick to this recipe is to slice the potatoes wafer thin: a mandolin is a good tool for this.  Use a gold potato like Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn.

6 small/1lb/500g Yukon Gold potatoes
Vegetable oil to fry
Truffle salt

Deep Fat fryer

Wash and dry the potatoes.
Thinly slice the potatoes and put to one side.
Heat the oil in the fryer until it reaches 350F/180C.
Fry the potato slices in batches.  Drain the potatoes on paper towels.
Place the drained potato crisps in a bowl and sprinkle with the truffle salt, toss and serve.

To test if the oil is hot enough, drop a breadcrumb into the oil and it should turn golden brown in about 20 seconds.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Turkey in Fissler’s Blue Point Pressure Cooker

Did you cook your Thanksgiving turkey in the oven? That’s what I did every year for a decade. This year, our oven was on the fritz and I was worried that the entire Thanksgiving dinner could be ruined if it failed in the middle of cooking. I have often heard that meat cooked in a pressure cooker is incredibly tender, so I decided to take a risk and make the turkey on the stove-top. Eventually, I made every dish on the stove and avoided the oven all together.

Turkey Recipe:

1 turkey

Scoops of stuffing to fill the cavity

4 cans chicken broth

The 12 lb turkey didn’t fit into my 6L Fissler Blue Point Pressure Cooker whole. No problem! I used my Fissler Profession Boning Knife to take off the sides from the leg through to the wing, and cooked the turkey in 2 batches.

I put the legs and wings into the Blue Point Pressure Cooker and added 2 cups of chicken broth. The lid of the Blue Point feels very secure, and as I swiveled the top on and locked it in place, I knew there was no danger of anything going wrong (exploding is my biggest fear!) On medium heat, I cooked the legs and wings for 40 minutes. While it was cooking, I made stuffing.

The Blue Point Pressure Cooker is surprisingly quiet while cooking. When I opened the lid, much of the liquid had been absorbed into the meat and it was incredibly tender.

I stuffed the cavity of the remaining half of the turkey with stuffing made from Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing with dried Bing Cherries and cranberries, almonds and cubes of Fuyu persimmons.

I placed that into the Blue Point Pressure Cooker, added 2 cans of chicken stock and brushed the top with butter.

I cooked it on medium heat for 45 minutes. After taking the turkey (minus legs and wings) out, there were enough drippings in the pan to add to the Pumpkin Sage Gravy. The turkey was deep honey brown and looked great! I was surprised that pressure cooking a turkey added as much color as it did. Besides being in pieces, it looked and smelled like a turkey right out of the oven! With a smaller turkey, whole chicken, or if I had used the 8L Blue Point Pressure Cooker (mine is 6L), I could have cooked it all at once.

The stuffing inside the turkey was much moister and more delicious than the rest of the stuffing. Next time, I might just cook all the stuffing in with the turkey. I used the turkey drippings to make Pumpkin Sage Gravy (it's incredibly delicious!) Here's what the drippings looked like:Add Image

The meal was a huge success! Two out of Five diners said it was the best Thanksgiving dinner they have had and we all agreed that it was the best turkey I have ever cooked.