Viscaina (Biscayne) sauce

The choricero pepper is the essential ingredient of Basque (Spanish) chorizo, and of the red mother sauce of Basque cooking, salsa viscaina. The sauce can be made from fresh peppers, or dried peppers rehydrated in hot water.

Use it as a sauce for grilled fish, or baked potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 2 onions (preferably red) thinly sliced
  • 6 choricero peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and diced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 slice of dry bread
  • 2 cups of stock (vegetable, chicken, or fish stock)
  • 1 tsp salt

Procedure

  • Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
  • Add sliced peppers and continue to saute (about 5 minutes)
  • Add stock and salt, simmer 30 minutes
  • Add bread slice and pcuree with immersion blender, blender, or food processor.

Sorrel Soup

Springtime = sorrel soup time.

Here is a terrific and easy recipe for sorrel soup.

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 large yellow onions, sliced thinly
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 10 cups packed sorrel leaves, stems removed
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • sour cream and fresh chives for garnish

Procedure

  • melt butter in large pot. Saute onions and garlic until translucent.
  • Add sorrel, cover, and cook until fully wilted (about 5 minutes)
  • Add stock, parsley, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne and simmer 45 minutes,
  • Puree with immersion blender, blender, or food processor.
  • Adjust seasoning and serve, garnished with drops of sour cream and sprinkled chives.

Plum Torte

Rejoice. Italian plums are in season.

  • In mixer, cream 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter and 3/4 cup sugar.
  • Add 2 eggs,  1 cup flour, 1 tsp baking powder, and beat until smooth.
  • Spoon into 9 inch springform pan.
  • Halve and pit 12 plums, and press halves skin side up, into batter.
  • Bake 50 minutes at 350 degrees F.
torte

Salmorejo

We spent late June in Spain. We visited Bilbao, Salamanca, and Madrid. In each city we ate Salmorejo. Each recipe was subtly different, but all were amazing. Comparisons to gazpacho are unavoidable, but Salmorejo is, hands down, the best cold soup on earth. It is simplicity itself as the only ingredients are tomatoes, bread, olive oil, and a touch of vinegar, along with toppings, which may vary.  The key to success is that the ingredients, especially the tomatoes and olive oil, must be of superb quality. The hard boiled egg topping in this recipe is not entirely typical, but some version of the Serrano ham is entirely typical. I have tried replacing the Serrano ham with crisply fried smoked bacon. That works fabulously well.

 

Ingredients

  • 8 medium tomatoes
  • 1 medium baguette
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Clove of Garlic
  • Splash of sherry or red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • Sliced Serrano ham or crisp bacon

Instructions

  1. Scald the tomatoes: Drop tomatoes into boiling water. After 30 seconds transfer into cold water bath then peel off skin.
  2. Remove the cores of the tomatoes and add all the rest to a blender. Blend at high-speed for about 30 seconds.
  3. Cut the crust off a baguette and add 2 cups of bread chunks to the blended tomatoes. Let the bread soak in the tomato juice for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the splash of vinegar, salt, and garlic and blend until the soup is an even texture.
  5. With blender running, slowly add the olive oil as you are blending at a moderate speed.
  6. Add 1 hardboiled egg and blend until incorporated. Taste and adjust levels of salt and vinegar.
  7. Serve topped with diced hardboiled egg and sliced ham or fried bacon. Serve cold!

Fig Baklava Tarts

Fig Baklava Tart

We have a bumper crop of fresh white figs.  They shine in this recipe.

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 strip lemon peel
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 6 fresh figs (quartered lengthwise (about 5 ounces))
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (melted)
  • 6 sheets phyllo dough
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  1. Combine the water, honey, lemon peel, lemon juice and cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the mixture begins bubbling, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the figs. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until they are until tender but still retain their shape. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the figs to a bowl.
  2. Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peel from the saucepan and discard. Increase the heat to medium-high; cook the remaining liquid for about 2 minutes, or until it has reduced to a syrupy 1/2 cup. Let cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Combine the walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves, if using, in a small bowl. Combine the oil and melted butter in a separate bowl.
  5. Set the stack of phyllo dough on a clean work surface and cover with damp paper towels, keeping the stack covered as much as possible as you work. Transfer one sheet of the phyllo to a large cutting board, and brush the top with the oil-butter mixture. Lay another sheet directly on top of that one and brush it with the oil mixture. Repeat with the remaining sheets of phyllo.
  6. Use a sharp knife to cut the phyllo stack into 6 4″ squares. Press one stack of the squares into each well of 2 6-well muffin pans.  Fill each cup with equal amounts of the walnut mixture, then bake (middle rack) for 13 to 15 minutes, until the phyllo is crisped and golden.
  7. While the phyllo is still hot, drizzle the cooled syrup into each of the phyllo-walnut cups (in the muffin pan). Top each with 2 pieces of fig; cool to room temperature before serving.

Modified from Ellie Krieger recipe, published in Washington Post , 8/9/2017

Basil smells like summer

Basil in the garden is coming on beautifully. I pinched off some tips that were threatening to form flower buds and the leaves from these, pictured here, made beautiful pesto.

Basil Pesto

  • 200 grams basil leaves
  • 70 grams walnuts (or pine nuts if you are wealthy)
  • 70 grams Parmesan cheese
  • 30 grams garlic
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Process walnuts, cheese and garlic briefly in a food processor.  Add salt and black pepper to taste, then add basil leaves and process until finely chopped. With the processor running, stream in the olive oil.

    Pesto freezes well, so you may wish to place a portion of this in a small Tupperware type container for freezing.

Cocktails by the pond on a summer evening

20160625_175039

Our custom for summer weekends is to finish the day sipping a cocktail on the bank of our pond. Yesterday we enjoyed a version of the classic Jockey Club Cocktail, which replaced the usual Amaretto with a homemade version, created by steeping vodka with cherry pits for two weeks.  I recall this fondly as I sit, bleary-eyed over coffee, on a Monday morning, before departing for work.
Here is the recipe for the down on the farm version of the Jockey Club Cocktail.

Jockey Club Cocktail a la High & Dry Farm

  • Two parts gin
  • 2/3 parts lemon juice
  • 2/3 parts cherry pit infusion
  • 1/3 part triple sec
  • dash angostura bitters

Shake with crushed ice, garnish with a twist of orange peel and a tart cherry, serve with ice.

Home-made Amaretto

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This year we had a bumper crop of pie cherries. I saved the pits and covered them with vodka. Two weeks later, the vodka infusion was decanted and filtered. The result is amazing. The liquor has a strong Amaretto-like almond flavor with a touch of tartness and complex underlying cherry notes.

Cocktails by the pond on a summer evening

 

20160625_175039

Our custom for summer weekends is to finish the day sipping a cocktail on the bank of our pond. Yesterday we enjoyed a version of the classic Jockey Club Cocktail, which replaced the usual Amaretto with a homemade version, created by steeping vodka with cherry pits for two weeks. I recall this fondly as I sit, bleary-eyed over coffee, on a Monday morning, before departing for work.

Here is the recipe for the down on the farm version of the Jockey Club Cocktail.

Jockey Club Cocktail a la High & Dry Farm

Print
Two parts gin
2/3 parts lemon juice
2/3 parts cherry pit infusion
1/3 part triple sec
dash angostura bitters
Shake with crushed ice, garnish with a twist of orange peel and a tart cherry, serve with ice.

Potato salad in a Basque style

 

The harvest of the first new potatoes of the season has inspired me to make potato salad.  I chose a flavor profile dominated by homemade paprika, which I made last year by pulverizing dried home-grown Basque Piquillo Lodosa peppers.  My pepper seeds came from the famous town of Guernica.

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