Monday, December 27, 2010

Guardian Service Gougères

With musicians, clergy and actors in my family, Christmas Day was, and remains, a gig for someone. Accordingly, our family celebrations take place in the early afternoon with a spread of finger foods to keep everyone content until all the pros come home. One of Andrew's family traditions which has become a welcome part of the smorgasboard is gougères, a delectable Gruyère cheese puff.

Andrew's mom dollops the cheesy dough into a wreath shape for Christmas. Here, we've adapted her recipe for the Guardian Service 15" round tray, which provides a wide circumference and gives the choux pastry a crisp finish. We've added parsley and roasted red pepper give it a festive "holly and ivy" touch.

Guardian Service Gougères

1 cup water
dash tabasco
1/4 lb (1 stick) butter
1 cup flour, unsifted
6 large eggs
4 cups Gruyère cheese, shredded
optional: dried parsley and roasted red pepper, minced

  1. Preheat oven to 450℉. Butter generously the surface of the 15" round tray.
  2. Add tabasco to water and bring to simmer. Melt butter in simmering water, bring to boil, then add flour all at once, beating vigorously until the mixture is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the pan to form a ball. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  3. Beat in two eggs, then the remaining, one at a time, until completely absorbed and smooth. When enough egg has been incorporated, the dough will be shiny and pliant enough to fall from the spoon.
  4. Fold in the cheese, blending completely (optional: blend in parsley).
  5. Spoon into a wreath shape on the tray and decorate with roasted pepper. The pastry puffs as it bakes, so butter the surface well and leave plenty of space for it to expand on the tray. 
  6. Bake at 450℉ for 8 minutes. This quick initial blast of heat makes the dough steam and rise, after which the temperature can be reduced (do not open the oven door during this time).
  7. Reduce heat to 350℉ and bake an additional 35 minutes until golden and firm to touch with no moisture present. It may be necessary to prop the oven door open for ten minutes or longer at the end of the cooking time to allow the pastry to further crisp (though be sure there isn't a direct draft, or it can collapse).
  8. Remove the gougères from oven, loosen the edges with a spatula, slice and serve (with cream cheese, if you really want to gild the lily). May be made ahead and frozen. Reheat in a low oven until barely warm.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Butternut Squash Bisque

    Denver's Brown Palace Butternut Squash Bisque, garnished with salad burnet.
    As a friend who stopped by to taste this soup remarked, "Oh, that's not good... that's  ffffffive–star brilliant." Indeed it is: at the turn of the century, this bisque was served at Denver's Brown Palace Hotel, the first atrium–style hotel ever built and host to the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, Theodore Roosevelt and Queen Marie of Romania among others.

    The recipe comes to us through Andrew's mother, Kathi, whose mother and grandmother were among the "Beautiful People of Denver." Andrew, an expert soup chef, has adapted this family favorite to take advantage of our Guardian Service cookware. Rather than boil the vegetables, we stove–top roast the squash and potatoes first, then mash. The perfect caramelization of the vegetables adds fantastic depth to an already rich soup. Plus, the waterless technique preserves nutritive value and flavor, helping to make up for this soup's truly staggering Gilded Age dairy fat content. Serve it in small portions... but they'll all want seconds. Andrew reminds us: like all soups, this improves over days and freezes beautifully. Plus, it is excellent served chilled.

    Butternut Squash Bisque
    from Denver's Brown Palace
    (adapted for Guardian Service Ware by Andrew Martin) 

    1 1/2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded.
    1 lg sweet potato peeled
    1 qt milk 
    Pinch each nutmeg and cinnamon
    2 T. honey
    1 tsp. pure maple syrup
    2 T. mascarpone cheese
    2 T. creme fraiche
    1/2 c heavy cream
    1/2 dry sherry
    salt and pepper to taste

    1) Roast the squash and sweet potatoes the Guardian Way, whole or in chunks, in a large cooker (pictured: the Guardian Service Chicken Roaster) until soft enough to mash with a potato masher. Low heat, about thirty minutes and a bit.
    2) Let cool a bit, then mash the sweet potato/squash until smooth.
    3) In bowl, add milk to the mash, and mix in remaining ingredients, blending until smooth. To give it a nice texture we used an egg-beater, but a blender or food-processor may suit you.
    4) Pour into Guardian Service Tureen. Stirring constantly, bring soup back to a gentle simmer and cook 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. If too thick, add more milk and adjust seasoning. Makes 2.5 quarts.

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Roast Turkey, The Guardian Service Way

    We began our culinary adventure with a trip to LA's Farmers Market at Fairfax and Third, a food-lovers' destination since 1934. (Side note: that's me crooning pop songs of the era at the Market's 75th Anniversary with vintage swing and big band Dean Mora and his Orchestra).

    We were shopping a bit ahead of the Turkey Day rush, but the good folk at Puritan Poultry supplied us with a free-range, hormone and antibiotic-free turkey which was locally-raised—so local, in fact, that the Sun Valley ranch from which it originated was closer to our apartment than the Farmers Market itself...
    Weighing the bird at Puritan Poultry at LA's Farmers Market
    As this was our first Guardian Service turkey, we opted to cook it stove-top, a hallmark of Guardian Service cookware, and found that the stove-top method yields a rich and succulent turkey. While it is not "steaming" a turkey (as Joy of Cooking's Rombauer disparages it) this method employs lower temperatures, using the meat's own juices and is very similar to braising, a type of pan roasting. The bird can be browned at the finish using the "stove-top browning" technique to reflect burner heat back onto the food's surface. The result is a delectably juicy bird that excels in flavor, tenderness and ease of slicing. It may not have the uniformly  mahogany appearance and crispy shell of the Norman Rockwell ideal, but you won't suffer the dry and flavorless meat that often results from open-roasting in an oven, nor need to brine it for hours to ward against an arid turkey.

    The large Guardian Service roaster is an impressive and beautiful design. The oval pan has claw like handles which allow for a firm grip, and jutting from either side of the deeply-pitched dome lid are wing-like handles, reminiscent of Mercury's helmet. But while the roaster may be the Big Bad Boy of this cookware line, it's still modest by today's out-sized expectations—its internal dimensions are 11" wide, 16.5" long, and about 9" high, if you're cooking with the rack. Our turkey was an ideal size for the roaster—just over 13 lbs—but I don't think the roaster could handle a turkey exceeding 15 lbs.
    Roasting a turkey "The Guardian Way" employs a similar technique to the one we presented when roasting a chicken. It's just a bigger roaster and a bigger bird, so you may want a friend or two handy for some of the hefting and turning.

    Guardian Roast Turkey

    1) Prepare the turkey (bring to room temperature, remove the neck and giblets from the cavity and rinse thoroughly, pat dry and salt the bird, inside and out). Lather with butter, stuff and truss. In a medium pan (we used the 2 qt dome cooker), roast the neck and giblets over a layer of celery and garlic for an hour, then add water and continue to simmer on low until you're ready to add it to the stuffing and/or gravy (see below).

    2) Over a medium burner, heat 2 Tbsp. fat and 2 Tbsp. butter in roaster and coat pan well. Place turkey in roaster and sear, browning all surfaces of the bird, 90 seconds per plane so that the skin caramelizes. (This keeps the juices inside the turkey as it cooks). Be bold! We used two large spatulas, rolled the bird in the pan, and grabbed it with a clean towel. Properly trussed the bird can take some handling. Remove turkey from pan; pouring off and reserving excess fat. Place turkey on its breast on roaster rack and lower into roaster. (Optional: we added two whole jalapeños to the roaster to scent the bird and compliment the Californio theme of our stuffing—see below). Cover with lid and cook over both burners at low heat for 15-20 min/lb.

    3) Halfway through the roasting period, flip the bird—that is, turn it to  distribute the juices. Remove the roaster lid and invert it as a resting tray, then remove the rack from the roaster and place turkey in the lid. Turn the turkey on its back, reposition on the rack and return it to the roaster to continue cooking. 

    4) The turkey is done when its juices run clear, the wings give and the thigh meat reaches 165℉. Now comes the fun part, finishing by browning the turkey using the deflected heat of the Guardian Service stove-top browning technique. Set roaster to one side of stove, remove lid and position it so it channels the heat over the turkey. Now you are a knight using his shield to roast his catch over an open fire! Turn it any way you please, letting each side of the turkey get a good toasting. Meanwhile baste well to give a healthy brown glaze. 

    The Lee-Peterson-Robinson Gravy

    My mother's family's method for making gravy is a long-held tradition passed down through my great grandmother Ruth Lee Peterson, as Yankee a Puritan as they came. The method is simple, but requires patience and diligence, for which you'll be rewarded with unparalleled flavor.

    1) Over medium heat, reduce the roaster pan drippings until they caramelize and stick. NOTE: It can take 30-40 minutes for the sugar in the drippings to properly caramelize and the fat to separate and run clear. During this window it is crucial that you ignore your nagging doubt and the hand-wringing of loved-ones who think you're burning the gravy and wondering why dinner is getting cold and why you're ruining this festive occasion... Patience—and DON'T SCRAPE the bottom of the pan.

    2) When the fat separates from the browned turkey drippings, pour off all but a Tbsp or two of the excess fat and return the roaster to a low heat. NOTE: Because the Guardian Service pan heats evenly, it's harder to get drippings to really hold to the bottom of the pan*. (We used a free-range bird which has very little fat—just enough for the following step, the roux—but if you're cooking a Butterball, you may need a gravy separator for this step).

    3) Whisk 2-3 Tbsp. of flour into the giblet stock and add gradually to the roaster, de–glazing the pan and blending continuously until smooth and thick. Salt and pepper to taste and serve. (Note: You can also use leftover water from boiling potatoes (or  pasta) to de-glaze the pan, in which case there's no need for the extra flour—but if you're using the "waterless method" to cook your potatoes, you may not have any starchy water handy!).

    Optional: for a heartier gravy, use a blender to incorporate the roasted neck and giblet meat (first removing meat from the neck bones) into some of the giblet stock and add to gravy as well.

    *Don't fear a clean-up nightmare—the even heating of the Guardian Service cookware means an easier clean up than cheaper enamel pans which are more likely to scorch.

    And now, as a bonus, this year's creation: a '49er, Californio–style stuffing!

    Gold Rush Stuffing

    Inspired by Hangtown Fry, an oyster-bacon omelet first concocted at the Cary House Hotel in Placerville, CA (then called "Hangtown" for its numerous hangings). A prospector who'd just struck it rich requested the most expensive dish the hotel chef could prepare. Eggs, bacon and oysters were precious ingredients, due to their delicacy, perishability and the distance from which they were brought in the 1850s... an early example of conspicuous consumption via "Food Miles."

    3 cups jalapeño cornbread, cubed
    1 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
    6 fresh whole fried oysters (dipped in beaten egg and cornmeal, fried in bacon fat)
    3 celery ribs, chopped
    2 leeks, chopped
    2 tomatillos, chopped
    4 leaves fresh sage, minced
    1 sprig fresh thyme
    1/2 cup giblet stock
    1 egg, beaten
    freshly ground salt and pepper

    1) In the large GS fry pan, cook up 6-8 slices of bacon, crumble and reserve.
    2) In bacon drippings, sauté the leek, celery and tomatillos. Remove and reserve.
    3) Dip each oyster in beaten egg, dust with cornmeal and fry in bacon fat, adding butter as necessary. 
    4) Mix all ingredients. Stuff turkey and top each end with half an apple before trussing. Cook excess in separate unit for about 30 minutes at 325℉.
    - Damon Kirsche/Andrew Martin

    For side dishes, we served up Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic (a perennial favorite from the NY Times) and another family favorite which we'll write about in our next post: the renowned Butternut Squash Bisque once served at Denver's Brown Palace Hotel.

    Until then, thanks for reading and from our home to yours: Happy Thanksgiving!

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Guardian Service Basics: Beans

    For regular readers of the Guardian Service Ware Blog, an apology for my sabbatical. I've been working a new job (yay!) which requires some driving (boo!) and I've had a little less time to both cook and write about it. I've also witnessed my eating habits change as a result. Late and large meals are ever the pitfall of my profession: you don't want to eat a lot before a show and after the curtain comes down (and a commute) you're both wired and tired and ravenous for a hot meal at 12:30 in the morning... and the fast food option rears its ugly head.

    To combat the temptation, I've been trying to cook foods that will feed us over several days and improve as leftovers, like beans.

    Beans. If the word conjures cans of syrupy mush or inedible pellets, we invite you to rediscover this nourishing, flavorful, economical and varied food, perfectly suited to Guardian Service Cookware.

    Back in December, 2008 we had the good fortune to attend a talk at the LA Public Library hosted by the Culinary Historians of Southern California and featuring Ken Albala, Professor of History at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California and Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo Beans in Napa, CA. Both spoke about this humblest of staples in almost lyrical ways. We've incorporated more beans in our diet ever since.

    In his recent book, "Beans: A History," Albala explores the "social, ethnic and nationalistic associations" of beans as well as the "philosophical and religious reasons why people have eschewed or embraced the lowly bean." His blog chronicles his latest food adventures—check it out.

    Sando raises heirloom varieties of beans he has sought out in local communities throughout Mexico and Central America and their flavors and textures are as varied and nuanced as is their array of patterns and colors. He explained part of the mystery of rock hard beans, even those which have soaked overnight: your average supermarket navy beans may well have sat in a warehouse for a very long time before they reach your pot.

    Cooking Beans with Guardian Service

    The cooking time of dried legumes varies depending not only on their age, as mentioned above, but upon where they were grown and the kind of water in which they're cooked, which can make cooking them frustrating. Buying fresher beans from a consistent source can take away some of the guess work, but ultimately you'll need to patient and watchful. Fortunately, the consistent heat produced by the Guardian Service Cookware not only reduces the overall cooking time, but helps cook the beans uniformly.

    1) In a large bowl*, soak overnight dried navy, lima, kidney or other dry beans in 3 times as much water as beans, removing any beans that float to the surface. Some cooks recommend changing the bean water at least once during the soaking—it removes some of the oligosaccharides which cause flatulence. I side with Irma Rombauer and Adelle Davis who both recommend cooking dry beans in the water in which they were soaked: vitamins and minerals are also passing into the soaking water and are lost with each water change.

    *Don't soak beans in the Guardian Service Ware pan. While cooking with aluminum is safe, soaking for long periods can draw more metal into the food and possibly temporarily discolor your pan.

    2) Transfer beans and water to Guardian Service Ware pan (the Casserole/Tureen unit works well or one of the dome cookers; if possible, select a unit with a glass lid, as it's easier to see that the beans remain on a steady simmmer). Slowly bring beans to a boil in the water in which they were soaked and maintain at a simmer over a low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Optional: Add a bay leaf or two.

    3) When the beans become tender and are nearly done, add salt, pepper, fats or additional seasonings. (Don't add these before the beans are cooked or the ingredients will lose their potency and may lengthen the beans' cooking time). Remove a few with a spoon and blow on them. If the skins peel away, the beans are cooked.

    We cooked some Rancho Gordo Vaquero Beans mixed with some navy beans, then tossed them with olive oil, fresh herbs, minced shallots and sea salt. There are endless variations, though beans always pair well with tomatoes, onions, meat, cheese... "Dried peas and beans, being rather on the dull side," Rombauer writes in The Joy of Cooking, "respond readily—like a good many dull people—to the right contacts."

    Thanks again for checking back, loyal readers. To make up for our absence, for our next blog we're planning something special: the week before Thanksgiving, we'll dig out the large size Guardian Service Roaster and roast up our first Guardian Service turkey!

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    Kettle/Canner Baking: Fig, Almond and Lavender Tart

    The two pounds of fresh, organic, locally-grown figs seemed like a good idea when we bought them. We'd bake some yummy turnovers or maybe a little jam, we thought. But when the temperature skyrocketed over the weekend (peaking at yesterday's 113-degree thermometer–buster), we thought again, as firing up our drafty old oven now seemed like a very bad idea. I pulled out the Guardian Service Kettle/Canner and did some stovetop baking instead.

    I adapted the recipe below from one by Barbara Wilde, whose l'Atelier Vert (Green Studio) is devoted to traditional French home and garden style. It makes a delectable treat—chewy, crispy, flaky and juicy—and the nut filling gives it higher ratios of protein and fiber and lower sugar and fat than your average dessert. If you serve it with yogurt, it's almost healthy.

    Tarte aux Figues Provençal
    Fig, Almond and Lavender tart 

    2 c. almonds, blanched (or blanched hazelnuts or walnuts)
    1/2 c. sugar
    1 tsp. dried lavender, leaves and flowers
    1 egg
    1 tsp. Madeira (or pure vanilla or almond extract)
    1 generous pound perfectly ripe black figs, cut lengthwise in quarters

    2-3 Tbsp. sugar and dried lavender, for dusting
    2 Tbsp. lavender honey (or mild floral honey), optional

    1) Prepare a standard pâte brisée (pie dough) for a 9-10 inch crust. Shape it into a flattened round, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Roll out and line a tart pan, prick all over, and place in freezer for at least half an hour.

    2) Preheat Kettle over high heat for 10 minutes. Remove the crust from freezer, line with foil, and fill with dried beans or baking weights. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges turn pale gold. Remove from oven, remove weights and foil, and reserve.

    3) In a food processor, grind the almonds with the 1/2 cup of sugar. Add the lavender, egg, and Madeira, pulsing until it forms a paste. Delicately spread the mixture over the prebaked pastry shell.

    4) Preheat Kettle over high heat. Arrange the fig slices in concentric, slightly overlapping circles. Sprinkle with 2 to 3 Tbsp. lavender sugar. Place tart on top baking rack and carefully lower into Kettle. Cover and bake over high heat for 30 minutes or until the figs darken and ooze a bit of juice. Remove tart and rack from the canner and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Optional: drizzle evenly with the warmed lavender honey and serve à la mode.

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    NY Times: America Hates Vegetables

    Photo: Chris Martin
    This weekend a NY Times article titled "Told to Eat Its Vegetables, America Orders Fries" was picked up as Huffington Post's lead story and subsequently around the blogosphere. Frankly, I pity the lot of them—the author and her interviewees. Kim Severson goes to great lengths to support a view that preparing vegetables is hard work, time-consuming and expensive. She writes:
    People know that vegetables can improve health. But they’re a lot of work. In refrigerators all over the country, produce often dies a slow, limp death because life becomes too busy.
    Now, I'll grant you, at the end of a long day, washing and chopping a head of broccoli can seem like a lot of work, might even seem time-consuming, but... really? She goes on:
    In the wrong hands, vegetables can taste terrible. And compared with a lot of food at the supermarket, they’re a relatively expensive way to fill a belly.
    If you boil a vegetable until it's dead, it will taste terrible. But to argue that "they're a relatively expensive way to fill a belly" is infuriating. Expensive relative to what? A triple-bypass? She goes on:
    ...a busy Manhattan resident who works for a pharmaceuticals company, would eat more vegetables if they weren’t, in her words, “a pain.”
    “An apple you can just grab,” she said. “But what am I going to do, put a piece of kale in my purse?”
    For weeks last March, the NY Times' most popularly emailed article was two simple recipes for that super health food, kale. Or, try an even simpler solution for a single serving on-the-go: Rip a few leaves of kale into bite-size pieces, muddle them with some salad dressing and chill them overnight. The acids in the dressing will "cook" the greens enough to make them a tender snack for lunch the next day. Stick that in your purse.
    And the Times' last word? That summary statement is given to an analyst for a global marketing firm:
    “Eating vegetables is a lot less fun than eating flavor-blasted Doritos,” said Marcia Mogelonsly, a senior analyst for Mintel, a global marketing firm. “You will always have to fight that.”
    I admit that we have serious problems in our nation's "food deserts," where fresh produce is not readily available. And cooking for one person isn't easy, especially if you spend most of your day away from home. And, whether for one or a household, cooking requires planning and work.
    This article promotes the idea that fresh-cooked vegetables have to defend themselves and compete in a marketplace with junk food and  panders to an America resigned to the Snack Food industry, deaf to social food movements and hopelessly addicted to greasy boxes of salty transgenic Frankenfoods.
    We propose that perfectly cooked vegetables, crisp, juicy, abounding in flavor and nutrition and minimally processed (as is the Guardian Service Way) are incomparable to fast "food" and we invite writers and readers of the NY Times to take 15 minutes and try for themselves.

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Guardian Service Recipe: Knickerbocker Nut Bread, a September Song

    In previous posts, we've put the Duplex Utility Pan to its most traditional use, frying omelets. But as the product leaflet notes, this pan was intended to handle everything from "quickie meals" and "dolling up left-overs" to baking meatloaf, loaf cake or quick bread. After a failed brownie mix experiment in our last post, I returned to the original recipe leaflet.

    I assume "Knickerbocker Nut Bread" was named by the Century Metalcraft marketing department to give the recipe book  neo-colonial charm—to the best of my knowledge there's no traditional bread by this name. Though Knickerbocker is a Dutch surname dating to the colonization of Manhattan, Washington Irving's satirical A History of New York (1809) was written under the pseudonym "Diedrich Knickerbocker" and became so enduringly popular that the name has graced everything from knee-pants to Hollywood apartments to the NY Knicks since that time. Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson based their 1938 musical satire "Knickerbocker Holiday" on Irving's short stories (minus Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the two for which he's perhaps best known) and gave us the classic "September Song").

    On a personal note: I'm eternally indebted to Sleepy Hollow—it's Andrew's birthplace.

    Knickerbocker Nut Bread
    (from the Century Metalcraft/Guardian Service "Duplex Utility Pan" product leaflet)
    3 cups flour
    4 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. pure vanilla extract*
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 egg
    1 1/2 cups milk
    1 cup chopped nuts

    Sift dry ingredients. Add egg, milk and nuts. Bake in buttered Duplex Pan, allowing 13 minutes to each side.

    *Note, erratum: The original recipe lists sugar twice on separate lines: "1 teas. sugar" and "1/2 cup sugar". I've substituted vanilla (optional), though I suspect the authors may have intended 1 tsp. of soda... it doesn't need it. The 4 tsp. of baking powder provide all the leavening required for this quick bread to fill the pan once completed.

    Additional Notes: Begin with ingredients at room temperature. Heat 1 Tbsp. butter in one side of the Duplex Pan (in open position) until butter turns light brown. 

    Spoon bread batter into buttered side until almost full. Close unit, reduce heat to "low," and bake for 13 minutes.

    Open the pan, butter and heat the opposite side, then close and reverse unit, baking the unfinished side for an additional 12-13 minutes (watch it—even on low heat it can burn quickly).

    Unmold loaf to wire rack and allow to cool for ten minutes before slicing.

    This recipe spares the fat and sugar, yet baked in the aluminum pan produces a dense, almost coffee or pound cake like consistency: a knockout served fresh for breakfast with butter and jam or cream cheese and jelly and rich enough to serve with ice cream for desert. It slices and toasts up beautifully. Wrap it in foil and it will keep well in the fridge (I'm sure for over a week... ours hasn't lasted that long). Vary with cinnamon and raisin or lemon zest and poppy seed.

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    Guardian Service Backyard: Buffalo Ribs, Corn on the Cob and Brownies

    As the dog days of August continue, we fixed another meal over coals last night, juggling items on the portable grill in a similar method to the "tandoori" dinner in our last post. Here's another attempt at cooking a complete meal out–of–doors with our Guardian Service cookware.

    Last night's menu featured:

      - Grilled Barbecued buffalo ribs and peaches
      - Corn on the cob (steamed with Anaheim pepper and Brussels sprouts)
      - Fruit and nut brownies (almost, see below)

    ...all prepared over 12-15 briquettes on a portable grill, using the Guardian Service Tureen and Duplex Utility Pans.

    Timing and preparation are crucial: Start with the corn (and/or other vegetables) in the Guardian Service Tureen, set to one side of the grill. Once the pot is warm to the touch, stack the marinated ribs (and peaches) on the remaining grill space. When the corn is tender (roughly 30 minutes) remove the Tureen and set nearby to keep warm. Glaze the ribs with remaining barbecue sauce and finish cooking. Remove ribs and cook the brownies in the Duplex Utility pan for half an hour, flipping the pan after 15 minutes.

    Corn on the CobSmoky, slow cooked peppers are traditional to Southwestern cooking; to get the same flavor with our Guardian Service Tureen, we added Anaheim pepper to our corn on the cob before cooking over the coals. Lined with corn husks and layered with Brussels sprouts (employing the "basket" technique, which I blogged about in our last post), the Guardian Service "waterless cooking" technique marries and infuses flavors with spectacular results: garden–fresh corn tinged with sweet, spicy pepper and caramelized sprouts.

    Ribs: We marinated the buffalo ribs (grass-fed and organic from Handy Market in Burbank) in garlic, bacon drippings, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup homemade barbecue sauce, grilled them, then re-glazed them with plenty of sauce, finishing on the grill for another 20 minutes. Alongside the ribs, we grilled barely-ripe, locally-grown peaches, halved and marinated in the same barbecue sauce, as a compliment to the ribs. NOTE: You'll want a damp rag handy as the Tureen is bound to get messy during this process, and clean up is a snap, when it's warm.

    Brownies on the Barbie?: Not really. Since the coals were still hot, we whipped up some Trader Joe's packaged brownie mix and threw it on the grill in a buttered Duplex Utility Pan. This turned out not to be the best method for brownies, which need moisture to escape to form a chewy crust—the opposite of what the Guardian Service pans are built to do. Warm from the coals and topped with ice cream, the gooey chocolate lava flow was yummy, just not an ideal brownie.

    For our next post, I'll try using the Duplex Utility Pan to make a classic "Knickerbocker Nut Bread" from the recipe in the original accompanying leaflet—will the result be a doorstop or delectable?

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    Guardian Service Backyard Tandoori

    We were spared the scorching temperatures that socked most of the nation last month, but yesterday's warmer weather drove us out of doors rather than face heating up the kitchen for dinner. Our improvised meal was not only memorably delicious, but a solid adaptive use of Guardian Service cookware—a Pan-Asian Fusion meal undreamed of by the cookware's designers, yet one that honors their tenets of nutrition and economy in our common pursuit of "Good Health, Pleasure and Profit."

    This method is inspired by tandoori* cooking, though instead of a clay oven, we use a portable 14 1/2" charcoal grill and our Guardian Service Casserole unit. When the coals are hot, the Casserole unit builds up a head of steam, gently cooking the vegetables at the grill's center, while the meat is grilled on the perimeter. The seared meat is then added to the mix. As the fire cools, it finishes the meal at the perfect low temperature required for "waterless cooking" with Guardian Service Ware.

    Guardian Service Backyard Tandoori
    (Five basic steps. Try any combination of vegetables and/or meats.)
    1. Marinate the meat or fowl.
    2. Layer the vegetables in the Casserole unit according to cooking time required—fibrous vegetables (carrots, celery, turnips, parsnips) in a "basket" layer (the bottom and sides), starchier vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes) to the center and the juicier, more delicate vegetables, which require little to no cooking, on top (tomatoes, onions, cauliflower, peppers).
    3. Place the covered unit over a small amount of charcoal (12-15 briquettes) in the center of the grill.
    4. Grill the meat: place the pieces of marinated meat around the outside edge of the grill, searing the outside edges until brown. (We use the Guardian Service Economy Trio trivet to prevent grill marks from burning into the Casserole, but it's not a necessity).
    5. As the meat browns, place each seared piece into the Casserole along with any remaining marinade and cover. Finishing cooking for 30 minutes.

    Note the color retention in the vegetables (and thus nutritional retention) from start to finish. The low, constant, contained heat of the waterless cooking method creates an incredibly nutritious meal and works wonders with inexpensive cuts of meat and any variety of vegetables and sauces.

    Andrew improvised a Chicken Masala Tandoori last night employing the above method (carrots, sweet potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, cauliflower, jalapeño peppers, scallions, basil and chicken thighs marinated in Masala Sauce  with sesame oil, juice of half a lemon, juice of half an orange, salt and pepper). Served withbread and chutney. Bon Appétit!

    Chef Andrew. Not only does he cook an outstanding meal, but he suffers this dopey apron. And he's kinda cute too... I guess he can stick around.
    *A true tandoor is made of clay and is used throughout India, the Middle East and Central Asia and employs high temperature cooking in a cylindrical clay oven or a grill. Andrew combined the grilled, smoked effects of tandoori cooking, with the slow, low heat requirements of Guardian Service Ware.
    * * * * * * *
    Stretch the fuel economy even further? As dinner was served, we placed a carafe of water over the remaining coals, enough fuel to bring it to a boil and brew a pot of Guardian Service Coffee (with dessert accents of fennel and cinnamon added to the grounds).

    Thursday, July 29, 2010

    Guardian Service Basics: Rice

    Though I love rice, it didn't appear in regular rotation in our diet until we looked to it for economy, nutrition and body building. I lack the knack, the Rice Touch. A product of Russian/German and Swedish/Yankee Puritan ancestry, rice rarely featured in my families' menus and though my mother attempted to produce "Chinese Restaurant" rice at my request, it was never her signature dish. Despite various methods promising consistent perfection, I often wound up with a gooey mass.

    Enter Guardian Service. I've written about a couple of other staple foods that, prepared the "Guardian Service Way" won us over to the waterless cooking method, potatoes and coffee in particular. When we discovered how easily Guardian Service produces flawless rice (brown, white, basmati, long and short grain), we experimented with other neglected cereals and grains with equal success: grits, barley, buckwheat, wild rice*, quinoa, kamut, spelt, amaranth...

    While the mid-century recipe below calls for washing and rinsing the rice until the water runs clear, domestically-processed rice has already been cleaned and rinsed of excess starch prior to packaging. You may wish to rinse to remove any packaging dust, but beware over-rinsing: one of the tenets of waterless cooking is the retention of nutrients which are otherwise rinsed or boiled away. "The general rule is to wash imported rices and not to wash domestic rices, which are well cleaned and dried before packaging. Imported rices have plenty of clinging starch left over from the processing." (The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook, Hensperger/Kaufmann, Harvard Common Press, 2003)

    (from Betty Gay's Guardian Service Tested Recipes)
    Time: About 20 Minutes (Serves 6-8)

    2 cups rice
    3 1/2 cups cold water
    1 tsp. salt

    Wash rice thoroughly in warm water, washing several times until water is clear. Drain, place in unit, add cold water and salt. Start over medium heat until boiling point is reached. Cover, reduce heat to very low until rice kernels are tender. (Do not stir.) Rice may be unmolded from unit by running a knife blade around edge. (Every grain will be tender and separate—no sticking—no soaking required—no waste of rice.) Serve it buttered as a substitute for potatoes—as cereal—as an accompaniment for chop suey or shrimp creole—or use as a basis for nourishing desserts.

    Companion Recipe: Rice Pudding—What better way to use up two cups of leftover cooked rice? Note: While the Guardian Service Tested Recipes cookbook does have a recipe for Rice Pudding (which I'll experiment with and blog about soon), it calls for a cup of uncooked rice... and we had plenty of leftover cooked rice.

    (Also Note: 1 cup of uncooked rice yields 3 cups cooked rice).

    (Adapted for the Guardian Service Casserole/Tureen
    from The Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, First Edition, 1950)

    2 large eggs (or 4 egg yolks)
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 tsp. salt
    2 cups milk
    nutmeg for flavoring
    NOTE: Add vanilla, if desired.

    Beat all ingredients slightly to mix and add:

         2 cups cooked rice
         1/2 cup seedless raisins (or chopped dates—a handful of chopped candied ginger added to the mix is especially good).

    Pour mixture into the Guardian Service Casserole Unit and set into Tureen Unit over medium flame and cover. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until sides begin to brown.

    *UPDATE: Wild Rice. Soon after posting this blog, we received an email from Goose Valley, a grower of certified organic and natural wild rice in the Cascade Mountains in Shasta County, California. The farm and ranch at Goose Valley work in tandem, reducing the amount of external inputs each operation requires in an effort to farm with a minimum impact on the environment. Nicole, in their Boston Sales Office, asked if we'd like to try some of their wild rice and sent a trio of their packaged rices. 

    We started with their spectacular Organic Wild Rice, which has a rich, nutty flavor and couldn't be easier to prepare the Guardian Service way (we used an Economy Trio cooker and prepared vegetables and chicken in the other two cookers, all over one flame for added fuel economy). Simply add 1 cup wild rice to 3 cups water or stock, bring to boil, cover and simmer on low heat for almost an hour, until the kernels become fluffy and tender.

    Thanks so much, Nicole!