Thursday, July 29, 2010


The other day, GoatSpawn insisted on having the Caramel Milk Pocky, and only the Caramel Milk Pocky, for her evening snack. Which was surprising since she hasn't had it before. So I can only attribute her intense interest on the appeal of awesome Japanese snack packaging.

After discovering that the box contains a long thing cookie dipped in a sweet sugary coating, she's an even bigger fan, which may put me on the road to trying as many of the different Pocky flavors as I can.

And since I don't read Japanese and because I'm carrying just about all the parental guilt about my child's diet that I can take, I'm just going to assume that the big "+Ca" on the box means that this Pocky is fortified with calcium.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Philly Cheesesteak

After months of not posting, what did I think needed to be shared with the world?  This photo of a Philly cheesesteak sandwich that Foodgoat made.  And yeah, it was delicious.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review: Bertolli Shrimp Scampi & Linguine Skillet Meal

We rarely buy frozen meals around here, since Foodgoat can, well, cook.  (The only exception?  Frozen pizzas on draft day.  Which, given the changed draft schedule, was rendered unnecessary this year.)

So I was all prepared to hate on the Bertolli Skillet Meal.  Surely this would be a travesty. 

The instructions were so simple I was doubtful it would work.  You put the contents of the bag into a skillet.  Put a lid on and turn it on high for 3 minutes.  Turn it down to medium high for 6 minutes, until the sauce is boiling, stirring occasionally. 
That's it.  Nothing else to add.  Nothing else to do.  And it really does only take 9 minutes total.  It's ridiculously simple. 
As for taste ... surprise!  It wasn't a horrible, inedible wreck of a dish at all.  It's about on par, maybe even better, than something I might have at the Olive Garden.  Nothing fabulous, but more than edible.  Not bad at all.

As it happens, we had this meal at the end of a long week of sickness for GoatSpawn during which it was a cause of major celebration when she ate more than a bite of anything.  So little did she consume that I had given up on giving her her own plate for food and frequently just fed her from my plate. 

But in this case, she ate almost an entire bowl of the pasta, eating Ladygoat's entire bowl and leaving me with just the shrimp and the peppers. 

The meal served 2 people, and cost $7.99 at my grocery store - a bit more, I thought, compared to other frozen meals. It's probably cheaper to make from scratch of course (depending on how much you spend on the shrimp), but about the same or cheaper than a fast food place.

 Like all frozen foods, though, it's not the healthiest option out there - the sodium levels were particularly bad. 

All in all, I was surprised that we enjoyed it so much.  Will we buy it routinely?  Probably not.  Foodgoat can whip up a good pasta dish with a creamy sauce in his sleep.  But it's great for people who don't know how to cook or don't want to, who don't have time to cook, who don't feel like fast food or takeout, or like to have something on hand for super-quick, no think, meal ... well, they could do worse than this.

Per FTC disclosure guidelines, I did get a gift card in order to purchase the Bertolli meal, though I didn't actually use the gift card, and I'm not even exactly sure where the gift card is.  I also got a wine aerator, which GoatSpawn is now using as a bath toy.   

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

That's Our Girl!

GoatSpawn enjoying a steak:

GoatSpawn, if you ever become a vegan, you will BREAK YOUR FATHER'S HEART.

Unless, of course, it is a very brief phase you go through when you're a teenager, which we'll forgive because teenagers do get these crazy ideas sometimes.  One of your parents , for example, may have had a tap dancing phase, a vampire phase, and a David Bowie phase.     All in the same year.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Oil Spill Hits Home

After our experience grilling a whole fish was so successful, Foodgoat was really looking forward to doing it again. As we drove to the West Side Market on Saturday, we had visions of a warm and sunny day, a hot grill, and a great big red snapper.

But when we got to the fish stand at the market, there was not one red snapper.  Not one!  Not even a fillet in sight.

Was this the result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill?  While Louisiana produces only about 1% of the seafood Americans eat, it does account for nearly 72% of the catch of the Gulf of Mexico, including red snapper.  And just recently, red snapper stocks were just showing signs of rebounding after decades of overfishing, which had left red snapper populations at 2% of their historic levels.
 So as if massive environmental disaster were not enough, add to the awful consequences of "drill, baby, drill" the fact that Foodgoat and I were not able to have any red snapper this weekend.  

The Deepwater explosion occurred nearly a month ago, and is still spilling, which led Foodgoat to wonder why the following obvious solution to the problem has not yet been attempted:  drop a small thermonuclear bomb down the pipe. 

Here are Foodgoat 's technical illustrations:

Here is the before situation - leaking pipe, unhappy fishes.

Next, drop a thermonuclear bomb down the broken pipe.


And here is the after: tons of rubble has sealed the broken pipe.  Fishes are happy again.  Problem solved.

Note, there are some small risks to this method.  For one thing, there's the potential for radioactive contamination of the Gulf waters.  There is also the chance that detonating the nuclear device will alter time somehow, creating a sideways universe in which lives are quite different yet kind of better if you were on Oceanic 815.  And possibly uncorking evil into the world. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Whole Fish

Foodgoat recently ventured where he had not gone before:  he bought and cooked a whole fish.

In the past, he had always bought fish fillets, as most home cooks do.  Whole fish are not always readily available at grocery stores, and Foodgoat also just didn't know how to best cook them whole.

But there are some excellent reasons to buy fish whole.  You can see if the fish is what they say it is, and not some other cheap fish species sneakily substituted in..  You can see if the fish is really fresh (look for clear, bright eyes, clean with no residue, firm, red gills, and a clean fresh smell).

But the best reason?  Fish cooked whole tasted tastes far better than fish cooked just as a fillet.  As in roasting a whole chicken, cooking a fish with the head, tail, skin and bones intact keeps more of the juices in, intensifying the fish's natural flavor.  You also notice that each part of the fish tastes slightly different, since each part has different muscles. 

So, after years of thinking, "One day I should cook a whole fish," a few weeks ago Foodgoat just went ahead and did it.   He picked up a whole red snapper at the West Side Market, where they also cleaned it up for him. 

Pretty, isn't it?

Foodgoat called up his brother, who a few years ago had grilled us a delicious whole red snapper they had caught fishing in Florida, for cooking advice.  Preparation was simple:  stuff with lemon slices and herbs.  Here, he used thyme.  Score the fish deeply. 

Next, Foodgoat put that fish on a hot, hot grill. 

It was done pretty quickly, and when it was done, it was still quite pretty.  Even GoatSpawn was eager to start eating!

The result was a big success with everyone (including GoatSpawn) - the fish was tender, moist, and delicious. One red snapper was enough to satisfy the three of us.  It was easy and fun to cook too - so I foresee a lot more whole fish in our future. 

Of course, by the very end it didn't look quite so pretty anymore. 

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bagrationi Sparkling Wine

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People don't drink sparkling wine nearly often enough.  Not nearly enough.  They reserve the champagne for New Year's Eve, and wedding toasts, and thereby deprive themselves of enjoying its effervescent delights just because spring has finally arrived, or just because the sun's out, or just because.  There's no reason to wait for special occasions - particularly since there are several perfectly nice ones to be had for an affordable price. 

Among them we now add Bagrationi, a sparkling wine producer from the country of  ... Georgia?  I know, we had never heard of wines being made in that country bordering the Black Sea in Eastern Europe either.  Apparently Georgian sparkling wine have historically been primarily exported to Russia (as much as 80% of Georgian wine went to Russia, its second largest export product), but what with the Georgian-Russian relations being, ahem, tense, and Russia banning Georgian wine in 2006, Bagrationi has been aggressively developing new markets, including now the US.

But Georgia, and the Bagrationi company, has a long history of making sparkling wine.  By some accounts, Georgians have been making wines for eight thousand years and the modern word for wine may stem from the Georgian word for wine, gvhino.  A military officer from a branch of the Bagrationi dynasty, which ruled the Georgian kingdoms until Russian annexation in the early 19th century, brought the knowledge of French wine making to Georgia in 1882.  

The Bagrationi NV Extra Dry was quite nice - clean tasting and balanced, light and pleasantly dry.  It wasn't the best sparkling wine I've ever had by any means, but it was fairly smooth and bright.  It was fine by itself, but I think with its clean taste, it should take well with other flavors in champagne cocktails like mimosas.  All in all, rather nice.  

But what makes it particularly nice is its cost: the Bagrationi NV (non-vintage) sparkling wines come in at a very budget-friendly $14 a bottle.  Yes, some sparkling wines can even cheaper, but if they taste dreadful, they aren't worth their low price (I'm looking right at you, Cook's).  And there are several better tasting sparkling wines that I prefer, but they are typically cost more, around the $20-$30 range (J, of course, is my personal fave). 

But at $14,  Bagrationi is really a pretty good value.  I'd say it's a great choice for wedding receptions and for a nice everyday type of sparkling wine - something good, but not too pricey.  

Per FTC disclosure guidelines, we got two bottles of the sparkling wine to review for free.  But I would totally pay $14 for another bottle. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Octodog to the Rescue!

One of Foodgoat's earliest memories is of being held upside down while his father whacks him on the back to dislodge a piece of hot dog on which Foodgoat was choking.  It's happened to a lot of kids, especially those under three, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics recently called for warning labels, or better yet, a choke-proof redesign of the beloved hot dog. 
The only redesign I would approve of is the Octodog:

A regular hot dog, sliced up into eighths about halfway to two-thirds up (sixths if you want more structural integrity).  Each little leg is perfect for pulling off and eating by small hands.  Boiled in water or oil to cook and to achieve curly-legginess.   Black peppercorn or whole cloves for eyes (don't let kids eat these, though).  Served on a bed of white rice (or stuffed in to a bun, if you really must).  Splatter with ketchup and mustard as needed or serve on the side.  Of course, the top part (the head) still needs to be cut up into bits once the legs get pulled off and eaten.

The Octodog has been GoatSpawn tested, and is GoatSpawn approved!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


  • I was highly amused by the comment section of this post regarding whether or not eggs are meat.  For the record, I say eggs are definitely not meat.  
  • Why Tommy's has such an excellent reputation as a restaurant stumps me, because we've never had a good experience there.  So I kind of feel vindicated hearing others don't like it either.  
  • Someone recently suggested putting GoatSpawn's food in a muffin tin might get her to eat more, and now I find out it's a very common thing that even gets its own day of the week.  

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Boiled Cider Jelly

Boiled cider jelly is the easiest jelly in the world to make.

It is so easy that I made it without intending to.

I had started making boiled cider, which is a very boring name for ... boiled cider.  It is apple cider which has been boiled so that it is reduced to a syrup.  Apple syrup sounds much more appetizing, so I don't know why they don't call it that. 

Boiled cider jelly is apple cider which has been boiled long enough to reduce it to ... jelly.

What happened is that I poured, oh, somewhere between a quart or two, into a saucepan.  I brought it to rolling boil, then reduced it to something more like a bubbly simmer.  I kept it going there for almost an hour, waiting for it to get syrupy.

Foam starts collecting on the top, which I skim off.  It does not appear to be getting much thicker, although it is reducing.  Boiled cider is reduced to about 1/7 of its original volume, but I can't tell exactly how much I'm reducing the cider. 

Finally, after an hour, it has reduced to a mere inch or so on the bottom of the pot, but it doesn't really seem much thicker.  It pours.  It may coat the back of a spoon, but not very convincingly.

Once in the jar, though, and a couple hours later, I see I am wrong, for it has become gelatinous.

I have made boiled cider jelly.

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Apparently I had passed the 1/7 original volume level and went as far as 1/9 the original volume of cider, at which point you get boiled cider jelly all by itself, with no other additives.    Apples naturally contain pectins that will allow it jell.   

Put a spoonful of this in your mouth and all you taste is APPLE, in all caps.  It's very sweet and intense and delicious.  Considering that we've left apple season behind, it's a wonderful way to recapture the taste of autumn. 

But how to use it?  You can use boiled cider jelly as any other jelly, spread on toast for example, but you can also mix a spoonful in a cup of hot water for some instant hot cider.  You can also use it as a glaze for hams.  I am looking forward to using it as a kind of apple extract to add extra apple taste to apple pie. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

100 Things to Cook: What Should Ladygoat Add to Her List

Last year, Lead Paint Cookbook posted her bucket list of 100 things she wants to cook. I think this is a great idea - I'm always idly thinking I should make this or that, only to forget about it soon after.   But put it on a list, where I can cross it off and check it off, now that can motivate me.  She is trying to get through her 100 items in one year, an ambitious undertaking which I can't even consider trying right now, but the list?  I can work on putting together a list.

My list is mixture of dishes to cook or bake and ingredients that I'd like to make myself - hence things like cheese and vinegar are on the list.  There are things on here that I may have tried once or twice but never did well, and things that I've always wanted to make and never got to.  There are dishes I've witnessed and eaten many times, like Foodgoat's chicken paprikash, but never made by myself.  Most things I've eaten and always enjoyed (llike longuanisa) and others that I've never had but sounds fun to make.  I didn't put them in any particular order. 

But alas, I haven't come up with 100 yet.  I thought it would be pretty easy, but I seem to have reached a cooker's block at number 75. 

So I'm soliciting suggestions!  Surely I can come up with a few more to reach 100!

Ladygoat's Not-Quite-100
  1. Vinegar
  2. Sweet and sour pork
  3. Pad thai (a non-peanut version for me)
  4. Pretzels
  5. Brownies from scratch
  6. Fried chicken
  7. Panzanella
  8. Turducken
  9. My mother-in-law's butter ring
  10. My brother-in-law's cheesecake
  11. My mother's chili
  12. Sauerkraut
  13. Bagels
  14. Cheese
  15. Quiche
  16. Doughnuts 
  17. Bacon
  18. Root beer
  19. Vanilla extract
  20. Boiled cider
  21. Cream soda 
  22. Foodgoat's grandmother's chestnut rum cake
  23. Pan de sal
  24. Ginger ale
  25. Longuanisa 
  26. Banana cream pie (successfully)
  27. Caramel
  28. Foodgoat's chicken paprikash (I'm seen him make it a million times, but have never made it myself)
  29. Foodgoat's vadas
  30. Croissants 
  31. Caramel apples
  32. Cinnamon roasted almonds
  33. Granola
  34. Cassata cake, Cleveland-style
  35. No-knead bread
  36. Limoncello
  37. Tocino
  38. Lechon
  39. Cinnamon rolls 
  40. Liver sauce
  41. Chicharon
  42. Kare-kare
  43. Lumpia wrappers
  44. Filipino-style fruit salad
  45. Empanadas
  46. Siopao
  47. Puto
  48. Corn dogs
  49. Leche flan
  50. Jam
  51. Jalapeno jelly
  52. Spanokopita
  53. Sourdough bread bowls
  54. Apple strudel
  55. Cultured butter
  56. Buttermilk
  57. Baguette 
  58. Clarified butter
  59. Ice cream (I've made this before, but it was never good enough that Foodgoat would eat it)
  60. Hopia
  61. Pastillas de leche 
  62. Arroz caldo
  63. Honey walnut prawns
  64. Dinuguan
  65. Crackers 
  66. Hush puppies
  67. Baked beans
  68. Beef jerky
  69. Cheese danish
  70. Shortbread
  71. Risotto
  72. Tempura
  73. Saag paneer
  74. Pot stickers
  75. Foie gras
  76. ?
  77. ?  
  78. ?  
  79. ?  
  80. ?  
  81. ?  
  82. ?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Kind of TV We Watch Now

We spend a lot of time watching Yo Gabba Gabba .... singing songs from Yo Gabba Gabba ... doing dances from Yo Gabba Gabba ...  wearing silly hats from Yo Gabba Gabba ...

So I'm especially excited to see the season 3 start next week, which will include a guest appearance by another of our favorites, Anthony Bourdain!

For the past couple of days, I have also had the very catchy Banana song (by the Aggrolites) stuck in my head. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What is the Point of Light Beer?

The other day I was wondering ... why is there light beer?

I say this because I have had light beer maybe a handful of times in my entire life and Foodgoat never buys light beer.  In my limited experience, light beer is ... almost flavorless.

That's usually bad, right?

Yet light beers account for about 38% of the total beer market share.  So why do people drink light beer?

Is it for the taste?  Is it for the lower calories?

Foodgoat has a theory.

First, some history ...

I thought light beer was just watered down beer, but light beer started in 1964 with a biochemist working at Rheingold Breweries, then an industry leader, who found an enzyme that prompted yeast to digest all the starch found in malt, resulting in beer with no residual carbohydrates and with less calories. Rheingold came out in 1967 with Gablinger's Diet Beer but it was a flop:  the TV commercial featured a super fat guy shoveling spaghetti into his mouth and downing a Gablinger's.  Apparently the beer drinking population saw the diet beer as a "sissy" drink that no "real man" drank.

All that changed when Miller bought Gablinger's, and in 1973 slapped a new label on the same beer calling it Miller Lite. More importantly, they ditched the fat guy, used ex-athletes and other macho, macho men to promote it, and came up with the "Tastes great, less filling" slogan.  Instead of aiming towards people worried about their weight, the campaign targeted young men with blue-collar occupations - the typical beer drinker.

Of course, it worked.  Miller Lite was a big hit, Bud Light came out in 1982, and by 1992 light beer became the biggest domestic beer in America.  (Since light beer typically requires fewer and cheaper ingredients, it often has a bigger profit margin as well.)

So, why is light beer so popular?

Foodgoat doesn't think it's the low calories.  It was a flop as diet beer, and while light beers tend to have lower calories than regular beer, it isn't always the case, and the difference is pretty minimal.  In fact, it's a myth that dark beers are loaded with calories. The calories in beer come primarily from alcohol, so beers with less alcohol content, regardless of how dark it is, have less calories.

Foodgoat doesn't think it's the taste, either.  Light beers really only taste good when they're ice cold, and one's taste buds are kind of numb.

So what is it?  Foodgoat thinks light beer exists for ... binge drinking.

Light beer, by being "less filling," allows you to drink more beer than if you drank regular beer.  Regular beer might make you feel full after a few drinks or so, but light beer, you can keep on chugging.  So if your goal is just to drink a lot of beer, light beer would seem to be a good choice.

Since I first came across light beer at a keg on second base during a fraternity game of sloshball, I can't argue with his theory.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Keep Beer Around For When Your Money's No Good

This list from Populat Mechanics on Unusual Survival Checklist Staples suggests that one thing you might to keep in your emergency kit is ... beer.  Lots of beer. 

Why?  Because in a disaster situation you can use beer in lieu of money.  Pay people in beer to get the supplies or help you need.

I can't argue with that!  Yet another reason to keep up our stock of beer.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hard-Boiled Eggs

Just so you know why it's a good thing that Foodgoat does all the cooking around here, when GoatSpawn was directed to eat eggs daily, I asked Foodgoat, "So, how do you cook a hard-boiled egg?" 

And then when I was by myself, I looked it up in a cookbook, too.  Just in case I remembered the instructions wrong.

I've now made hard-boiled eggs for GoatSpawn many times.  Foodgoat's method is to put in a pot of cold water, bring to a boil, and let boil for ... whenever.  Five to 10 minutes.  Cool it down with cold water

Others recommend against this, because if you boil it too long, the egg cracks.  So the method I've taken to using more is to put the egg in cold water, bring to a boil, then cover and turn off the heat for 15 minutes, then cool.  It takes a little longer, but it uses a little less energy, and if I end up getting distracted by, let's say, GoatSpawn covered head to toe in flour, and forget about the egg in the covered pan of hot water for a while, not much harm done.

Simple, right?

Well lately, I've been looking up ... how to cook a hard-boiled egg.  Because with either method, I sometimes end up with a perfectly cooked egg ... that is annoyingly hard to peel the shell off of.

One suggestion is to let the eggs age a few weeks before cooking them - old eggs are apparently much easier to peel than fresh eggs, since dehydration causes the egg to shrink a little from the shell. 

Well, I'm not going to use old eggs.  They might be easier to peel, but I can't imagine that the nutritional value is helped much.  Plus, we go through a dozen eggs in a week or less.  They just don't sit around that long here.

Another suggestion was to poke a small hole in the egg prior to boiling - a tiny hole just in the shell, not the inner membrane, to allow water to get in between.  So I tried it, just the sharp tip of a small knife.

Wait, what's that?

Hmm.  Looks like I poked through the membrane after all.  So a bit of egg white oozed out while cooking.  Yeah, that looks weird. 


But, it did turn out to be very easy to peel.

Monday, February 22, 2010

In the Medicine Cabinet

It's the season for sickness in the Goat home, and along with Kleenex and a humidifier and soup, we have been calling up soothing honey sticks to the front lines.  GoatSpawn will occasionally tolerate them, which is more than I can say for almost anything else we try to give her. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fontina Cheese, Where Have You Been All My Life?

I have a new favorite cheese right now: Fontina.

We have GoatSpawn to thank for this new discovery - she changed the TV to a different channel, which happened to have a cooking show on that mentioned Fontina cheese, which neither Foodgoat nor I had tried before.  The next time he was at the Italian deli, what should he spy in the cheese counter but ... Fontina cheese.

I'm glad he picked some up, because Fontina is a delicious cheese.  Made in the Italian  Alps, in the Valle d'Aosta, since the 12th century, it is a cow's-milk cheese with a nutty taste and creamy but firm texture (versions made in other countries such as the U.S. and Denmark tend to be younger and milder in taste).  It is wonderful all by itself, but it also melts very nicely, as well - becoming smooth, and not turning stringy or crusty or separating.  I would say it's not unlike Gruyere, or maybe provolone, but tastier. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ohio City Burrito

One of my wishes is to find a really good burrito place close to me on the east side of Cleveland, because while I am sometimes in the mood for burgers and sometimes in the mood for pizza, I am always in the mood for Mexican. 

Well, I still haven't found it.  But we did find Ohio City Burrito, which is near the West Side Market, making it a nice stop for lunch after our monthly Market ventures. 

The burritos were large and delicious and the hot salsa suitably fiery and the guacamole did not cost extra, which is a sore point between me and Chipotle.  It's a small place with a small menu, but what it has was tasty and left me satisfied. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Beer Is Delicious: Brewing Beer At Home

Last year, I gave Foodgoat home beer brewing equipment and kit for his birthday.  

They sat, unused, for months.  

Until, a) he got a really big pot, which I had neglected to include in the equipment set, and b) he watched this video on youtube that demonstrated how to make beer at home.  The video was great because it  showed, more clearly, than any written instructions could, how to use the equipment and what each step of the brewing process was and how really simple it all was.  Plus, it has a rocking song at the end.  We set up the laptop in the kitchen and played the video while making the beer, pausing and rewinding and replaying when needed, which was helpful. 

Once he made the first batch of beer, Foodgoat was hooked.  Since then, he has made several more batches, with many, many more on the horizon (he recently went on a hops buying binge).  

Brewing beer at home isn't hard at all, and anyone who enjoys beer should consider trying it.  In fact, more people do seem to be catching up to the idea - homebrewing was listed as one of the top food trends for 2010.

Here are the essential steps.

The key to making good beer is cleaning - and this stuff, Straight-A, or its even easier version, One Step, works great, especially at taking off old labels. Remember to clean/sanitize all your equipment that you will be using for after the boiling stage - because after the boiling stage, any foul bacteria introduced can ruin your beer.  So sanitize everything (tubes, buckets, bottles, etc).  It's the most tedious part of brewing, but it's important.

The beer kits have the grains already crushed, but Foodgoat sometimes crushes his grains in a food processor.  And it smells like the best batch of cereal EVER. 
This step of making beer is basically like making a big batch of tea.  Put in the crushed malt grains (in a cheesecloth bag) until it reaches 155F and let it steep for 20mins.   Then take out grains.  Do not let it get over 165F.

Bring your beer tea - I mean, the wort - to a boil, then add the liquid and dry malt extracts.

Watch out - it may boil over!!  But like making dumplings, once the foam breaks you are good for the rest of the day.  Also like making dumplings, using a very big pot and a very big spoon helps.

Add the hops and let boil 1 hour- then add finishing hops for a few minutes.

Bring the hot wort to room temperature as quickly as possible - while using a whisk to stir.  Foodgoat uses an ice bath - the kitchen sink filled with a bag of ice and cold water. 

Next, add yeast - and fill water in the gas exchange thingy.  Close and let sit for 5 days at 65-80 F.  What's it doing?  Fermenting!  Turning sugars to alcohol! Yum!

Transfer beer from the primary fermenter to either a secondary fermenter (using a clean tube to siphon) or go straight to bottling (adding a priming sugar, which makes the carbonation, to the bottling bucket) like Foodgoat did the first time.  

Add a tube to the spigot of the bottling bucket with the filling wand attached and fill the bottles.

Cap it!  Foodgoat generally gets about 4 cases of beer per batch.

Now real hard part - wait 3 weeks and enjoy.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Making the Full Manti (Turkish Ravioli)

Foodgoat recently picked up the practice of trying out a new dish - one he hasn't made before - each week.  His first one was meatloaf, the second was the scallops.  Both turned out so well that for his most recent experiment, he went ambitious - making a dish he not had never made before, but one he had never tasted before.

The dish was manti - Turkish dumplings which are basically a variation of ravioli.  At the moment he casually mentioned needing an idea for something new to cook, I happened to be reading an article, with a tasty looking photo, about manti. 

So he did something I rarely, if ever, see him do: he followed the recipe.

Generally, if Foodgoat ever looks at a cookbook or recipe, it's only to get a general sense of the ingredient list or technique, then it's into the kitchen with just his intuition, and not a recipe, to guide him.  

But in this case, since he had no idea what the end product was supposed to be like, he had to follow the detailed recipe. 

Well, somewhat.  He did change one of the main ingredients - instead of lamb, Foodgoat based the meat filling on pork instead. And he used his own recipe for the chicken broth that the manti is cooked in. 

This dish was also ambitious in that, unlike the super-quick scallops, manti was one of those dishes that take days to make.  You could do it all in one day, but it will be a long day.  Instead, on the first day, he made the dumplings.

First, you put 2 eggs, 1 2/3 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 cup water in a medium bowl and mix until it forms a ball.  Knead on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes, then divide into 4 balls, covering with a damp cloth, and letting them rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, you make the filling by combining 1/2 lb of ground pork, 1 chopped onion, 2 T of chopped fresh parsley, and some salt and pepper.

Then you take one of the dough balls, roll it out into a square about 11" x 11", and cut it into 1" squares.
Into each square, put a tiny bit of filling, and fold opposite corners together, exposing some of the filling. 
Repeat with all the squares, and all the dough.  

That's enough work for one day!  At this point, Foodgoat put the dumplings in the fridge (you can also freeze them), until the next day. 
The next night, Foodgoat preheated the oven to 400 degrees and put the dumplings into a big greased dish in a single layer.  He baked them until golden, about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, he brought about 4 cups of chicken stock to boil.  He then poured the hot broth over the dumplings, covered the dish with foil, and baked until most of the stock had been absorbed, abouut 25-30 minutes.
While the manti is baking, Foodgoat made the sauce - mixing 2 cups of plain yogurt with 3 garlic cloves crushed with salt, a handful of fresh chopped mink, and a tablespoon of chile flakes. 

He then spooned the sauce, along with some melted butter, into bowls and top with the sauce. 
The manti was a hearty, comforting kind of dish that was wonderful for the cold weather.  The dumplings were warm and tasty and filling, and the sauce gave it spiciness and tanginess and some unexpected flavors.  It was delicious - something I hope Foodgoat makes again!
GoatSpawn, in particular, loved this dish.  We are used to having to coax a few more, just a few more!, spoonfuls of food in her, but not the manti.  We had to refill her bowl twice, she ate so much. 
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