Kancha Moong Dal

Makes four servings

250g moong dal
salt
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of butter or ghee
1 1/2 teaspoons of oil
2 dried chilis
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons of grated ginger
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon sugar

1. Start boiling 750ml of water
2. Rinse moong dal, squeezing it in handfuls until the water is clear
3. Add moong dal, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and 1 teaspoon of salt to boiling water
4. Reduce heat to simmer, partially cover and cook for 40-45 minutes.
5. If using butter, melt it. (I put it in a dish by the dal)
6. 5 minutes before dal is done, heat 1.5 teaspoons of oil in frying pan
7. Put 2 dried chilis in oil and cook until they start turning black
8. Add 1 teaspoon of whole black mustard seeds
9. As soon as the seeds stop sputtering, add 2 teaspoons of ginger and 2 bay leaves
10. Stir for one minute, then add ghee (or butter) and cooked dal to frying pan
11. Add salt to taste and a little sugar (I’ve been adding about 1 tablespoon)
12. Keep on mid-high heat for three minutes and remove

If you want a thinner dal, add between 250 ml to 500 ml of water. That’s it!

Boudin King Cake

A few days ago, I learned of Boudin King Cake. I did a little research, but every recipe had elements I wanted to change. So, I made a few notes, and I plan on doing something along the lines of the below the first chance I get. I’ll add some commentary once I’ve made it.

Boudin King Dough Ingredients

2 (4 1/2 teaspoon) packages dry yeast
3/4 cup water (100-110 degrees F)
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup shortening, cubed
1/3 cup butter, cubed
4 cups flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Boudin King Dough Preparation

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1 tbsp of the sugar in the warm water. Let sit until foamy – 10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine remaining sugar, salt and 3 cups flour. Once yeast is foamy, stir in beaten eggs followed by shortening and butter. Next, add flour mixture and stir. Turn out onto floured surface and slowly add the last cup of flour, kneading to achieve a smooth, elastic consistency. Be careful not to add too much flour.

Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top of the dough. Let rise in a warm place (85 degrees F) until doubled, overnight (slow) or about 1 1/2 hours (fast).

—Adapted from “Copycat Pillsbury Crescent Rolls.” Genius Kitchen.com.

Then, make the boudin, or alternatively, substitute Italian sausage.

Boudin Ingredients
One (4 pounds) pork roast
Water, for braising and boiling
One pound pork liver
2 large yellow onions, diced
2 cups of Basmati long-grain white rice
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 bundle of fresh thyme, tied
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 cup diced green onion tops
1 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Dash of hot sauce

Boudin Preparation

Preheat the oven to 220ºF (for slow) / 400ºF (for fast).

In a heavy pot with tight-fitting lid, char the bay leaf in ghee. Then, add the pork roast and thyme. Fill the pot with water to a depth of 4 inches. Cover, place in the hot oven and braise the pork roast, overnight or greater than 8 hours (for slow), 2 hours (for fast). In both cases, the meat should be falling apart.

Remove the pork from the pot reserving the cooking liquid.

In a pot with water over high heat, add the liver and boil until well done, about 10 minutes. Remove the liver and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Add the onions to the liquid and let cook for 2 minutes. Strain the onions and reserve.

In a rice cooker, make the rice and keep warm until ready to use.

In a food processor pulse the meat and liver along with the onions and garlic until it reaches a smooth, yet chunky consistency. Be careful not to over process to a pasty, mushy stage.

Incorporate the cooked rice in a ratio of 80% meat mixture to 20% rice. Gradually add some of the cooking liquid until the mixture is moist. Add the seasonings and green onions. Add salt, black pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Evenly incorporate ingredients together.

Split into four portions, freeze three and save the fourth for your Boudin King Cake.

—Adapted from “The Great Boudin Debate.” The Acadian Table. February 3, 2014 and “Boudin Recipe.” Nola Cuisine. April 16, 2012.

Then, move on to the Boudin King Cake.

Boudin King Cake Ingredients

½ cup red pepper jelly, such as Tabasco
1 tablespoon water
1 pound boudin
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, cut into planks
1 Copycat Pillsbury Crescent Dough recipe (above), cut into two and rolled into dough sheets
1 large egg, beaten, for brushing
Kosher salt
½ cup crumbled bacon
½ cup diced green onion tops

Boudin King Cake Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

For the glaze, in a saucepan over medium heat, add the red pepper jelly and let cook until it softens and begins to melt, about 2 minutes. Add the water and stir until it thins out. Turn off the heat and keep warm.

Separate the boudin meat into 4 quarter pound portions. Put one portion of boudin meat on one edge of the dough sheet, add half the cheese, then add another portion of boudin meat and roll it up. Cut off the excess and pinch the ends closed. Repeat a second time with the rest of the ingredients.

On a metal baking tray sprayed with non-stick spray, place the 2 dough-wrapped boudin cylinders and join them together at the ends to form a circle. Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with salt.

Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven.

With a spoon or brush, drizzle and paint the pepper jelly over the top of the hot pastry. Sprinkle the top with crumbled bacon and diced green onion tops.

Serve on the baking tray by slicing the boudin king cake into portions and calling your guests while it’s piping hot.

—Adapted from “Boudin King Cake.” The Acadian Table. January 25, 2016.

The Dirty Secret of ‘Secret Family Recipes’

“…true originality is rare. Multiple cookbook authors have stories of asking people to send in family recipes and receiving dozens of nearly identical versions. “A lot of that has to do with [recipes sharing] very common ingredients,” says Stephanie Pierson, who wrote in to describe her experience asking for brisket recipes.

—Alex Mayyasi. “The Dirty Secret of ‘Secret Family Recipes’.” AtlasObscura.com. February, 27, 2018.

Omelets, Perfection & Life

Several years ago, I stumbled across an article in Gourmet magazine called “Chasing Perfection” by Francis Lam. This is how it starts:

“Before Chef Skibitcky got ahold of my brain, I, like every other rational person, thought an omelet was something anyone can make. You throw eggs in a pan, stir them around, fold them in half, and put them on a plate. Done. No-brainer. It only gets interesting when you start tossing in other things—ham, some cheese, maybe a sautéed mushroom or two.”

Reading on, this article about the “perfect omelete” made with just a few simple ingredients: three eggs, salt, pepper and a little butter “got ahold of my brain”. I had to try my hand at it. How hard can it be? It’s turned into a minor obsession.

I have gone through periods over the last several years since, trying to make this “perfect omelete”. I’ve come close, maybe one or two times. It turns out it is pretty hard and the key is having good technique.

Since then, I’ve had friends ask me for a omelete making recipe, “for the lay person,” the unobsessed. I now recommend this article that explains some of the finer details. Initially, I was skeptical about adding Boursin, “the French Velveeta.” But, it does a nice job of adding a little fudge factor that helps you get that soft internal texture that you hope to get with the classic french omelet.

The things I might suggest that would improve this recipe for people that don’t make 30 omelets during a breakfast/lunch shift is to use lower heat (somewhere between low and medium, but closer to low – with a final 5-10 second burst of high heat at the end), breaking up the curds as they form with a fork if you can’t get them with the spatula, and adding a little butter around the edges helps to roll it up at the end. Even if you aren’t much of a cook, it’s worth giving it a try.

If you were like me before reading this article, you’ve probably never had a really well-prepared omelet. You will be amazed at the difference. Omelette making may, in the end, be trivial. But, I like how the “Chasing Perfection” article ends. Lam writes:

Three eggs, salt, pepper, and a little butter. That’s all there is in a classic French omelet, but it’s enough to keep reteaching me this vital lesson: Things are only simple when you’ve stopped asking the right questions of them, when you’ve stopped finding new ways to see them. Because what you find, when you learn how to find it, is that even simple things can be wonderfully, frustratingly, world-openingly complex.

Omelette making invites us to ask: What else in my life, besides omelets, have I stopped asking the right questions about? Where have I settled for the simple answer rather than “the frustratingly, world-openingly complex” one? The advantage of omelete making is that even when you make mistakes – it doesn’t roll off right, the skin of the omelete is too thick, or you didn’t stir enough and have to settle for a scramble – the end result is always a really tasty egg dish that’s still better than 90% of what you’ve have eaten in your life.

Spiced Maple Caramels

Time / Yield

2 hours / 100+ wrapped caramels (45 minutes to cook, 1 hour and 15 minutes to wrap)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups, heavy cream
  • 1.5 cups, sugar (light brown or regular)
  • 6 tablespoons, unsalted butter (more to taste)
  • 1 cup, light corn syrup (can use all of 11.2 oz. bottle)
  • 1 cup, maple syrup (more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon, cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon, fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon, course salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon, vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon, ground cloves
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

Equipment

  • 8 quart pot
  • 9″ x 9″ silicon baking pan (alternatively, grease regular pan with oil, line with parchment paper and grease again)
  • candy thermometer
  • wax paper or cellophane (easiest to buy high quality caramel wrappers from Amazon)

Directions

  1. Bring cream, sugar, butter, corn syrup, maple syrup to a boil in 8 quart pot and stir until sugar dissolves and butter melts and blends. Once dissolved, reduce heat to medium high and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramel reaches 248°F.
  2. Once at 248°F, remove caramel from heat and thoroughly stir in cinnamon, vanilla extract, ground cloves, cayenne pepper. Add salt last, and briefly stir, which will leave it only partially dissolved.
  3. Pour into silicon pan. And let stand, covered with a paper towel. (I tend to put it in the refrigerator overnight and cut and wrap the next day.)
  4. When cooled to room temperature, transfer to cutting board, and cut into 1″ squares and wrap.