Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Lowly Horseradish Root

It was one of those weeks.  Another birthday for me, and my thoughts always go back to my childhood.  I grew up in the most perfect place I could ever imagine.  My parents and grandparents were American born, but before that, my ancestors came from Germany and Russia.  Luckily, they all developed the settlement of the Amana Colonies, and from there forth, the traditions continued.

What I think about most, is the magnificent German food.  It was on the table every day of the week.  I did not know about casseroles or hot dishes.  That was fake cooking to these strong German women.  Go into the gardens and freeze and can and then cook from the larders.  We had magnificent butchers down the street and a small grocer that had everything we needed including a "beer room" in the back where my grandfather spent the last years of his life dispensing beer and stories.

We also had a wine cellar in the basement, as did so many of my neighbors.  They made their own rhubarb and grape wine.  This was so normal for all of us.  Do I miss it?  Absolutely!  Do I have great memories?  You betcha!!  And thus comes the post for today.

I have been watching horseradish roots in my local grocer for several weeks.  I was so tempted to buy, but remember my last episode with that strong root.  It was 1972.  We were living in Coldwater, Michigan, and my parents and mother-in-law came to help us out as our second child was born.  Mom and Dad brought a large horseradish root.  I am sure I requested it.  I recall being outside at the picnic table and they were grinding the root.  The smell was enough to search for a gas mask.  I also remember quickly going into the house and letting my mother take over.

Through the years afterward, whenever we visited my parents, I requested Gekochtemeerrittich.  To non-Germans, that would be cooked horseradish.  So, last week, seeing the horseradish at Fry's, I bought it, hoping for the best.

Luckily, my community produced several cookbooks through the years, preserving our inherited recipes.  And there it was!  Page 96 of  "Seasons of Plenty" and the recipe was submitted by my friend's mother, Linda Selzer.

The rest is history.  It was delicious!  I had invited a couple of friends that evening for dinner, and my dear friend, David, who grew up where I did, claimed he had not tasted it in 50 years, since his grandmother had cooked it for their family. We all enjoyed it and now, I want to share this recipe with you. I will say, if the horseradish root is very fresh, the result will be quite hot. As things go in the grocery world, I am sure this root had been refrigerated for some time, so it was rather mild. But, the flavor was still there.

In Austria, this is a typical dish served with Tafelspitz, which is a boiled beef.  I served it with a pot roast.  Serve with any roast beef.  I really hope you will try it.

Cooked Horseradish

1 cup raw, grated horseradish
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup soft grated breadcrumbs
6 tablespoons flour
4-5 cups beef broth

To grate horseradish:  Wash horseradish root and peel with a carrot peeler. Grate in a food processor with a small amount of water if it is too dry. Process a small amount at a time.

Melt butter in a large saucepan.  Add breadcrumbs and sauté lightly.  Stir in the flour and sauté a minute or so.  Add the processed horseradish and stir.  Slowly add beef stock.  Stir well and allow to boil 5 minutes.  Cook on medium to low heat until ready to serve.  Can be frozen and reheated.  

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Reflections of the Past and Looking to the Future

It seems to me, when things are in transition, it is best to remain silent.  The blog has been sitting quietly for some time, and that is just fine.  We all need rest now and then.  I find I am also reading less blogs because a lot of my blogger friends from 7-8 years ago, have also put their writing to rest.  I do not think it was a fad, rather a transition of making what is comfortable into something that is more polished and professional.  I also find that I do not enjoy going to a blog website that is so full of so many things that I do not know where to start looking.  Perhaps more professional and certainly a money maker, but not as enjoyable as it used to be.

I started my blog simply for my own records to keep track of special meals, special trips and very special friends and family.  I refer back often and really do enjoy reading old comments again.  That is how I made some very special friends.  Friends, I have even had the pleasure of meeting during the years.  That is when blogging was very special.  So, I hope to have an infrequent update posted to keep reminding me of how fortunate I am.

We have become quite adjusted now to living in Arizona.  It is home!  Unfortunately, we are now farther away from our children who live in northern Wisconsin and western North Carolina.  That is why there are airplanes and telephones and computers.  We can have lots of contact.

We live in a beautiful retirement community, but that means a lot of "old" people, and as we age, things go wrong.  As a dear friend of mine always states, "this is the winter of our discontent."  So many ailments from knee problems, shoulder problems, eye problems, back problems, you get the picture.  There also seem to be more deaths.  So sad, but still, would not live anywhere else.  We are all support for each other.  In no neighborhood where I have ever lived, have I seen as much love, friendship and compassion as I do in PebbleCreek.  It is the very best place for us to be; that is the truth.

So, as The Trout is 3 months out from Rotator cuff surgery and still having pain, but almost full mobility of his shoulder, and I am having knee arthroscopic surgery on February 10 so that I can walk once more without pain, it is our wonderful neighbors who help see us through all this.  We are so fortunate.

I have been wanting surgery on my knee for torn cartilage since September.  But as it is, you need to just through hoops with Medicare and go through X-rays and then MRI's and then physical therapy before they will consider the scope.

As The Trout and I celebrate another birthday this week and next, we give thanks for all we have been given, especially our very dear friends who like to hug a lot.  A glass of wine, a toast to good health.  We are so pleased to find such contentment in our new and forever home.  Now, I need to be constructive and do something with all the lemons that were just brought over.  I know I have not made lemonade in forever, so that is first on the list.  Wishing everyone happiness and contentment.  May life be good to you.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Shrimp and Crab Bisque

I've been back from Montana for about one month.  The Trout followed me just over a week ago.  It was a cooler summer than usual, but the smoke from the forest fires in Washington and Idaho really did a job on us.  It was not very pleasant and it went on for a long time.  The fishing was so-so, but we managed to keep busy and enjoy our time.

While I was back in Arizona, The Trout had dinner in a restaurant in Missoula and has been raving about the Crab Bisque  since then.  We both have been searching for recipes that were similar to what he so enjoyed, and it has been difficult.  We ended up combining parts of two recipes we found and then added our own touch to it and it was so good, I knew I had to write it down or we will never be able to duplicate it again. 

As is evident in the photo, we added some whole shrimp to the top of the soup and that is a slice of my French baguette that I baked yesterday.  This was an absolutely delicious treat for dinner today.  Perhaps not a typical bisque, but I like the changes we made to make it ours.

Shrimp and Crab Bisque
4 to 6 servings

1 pound medium or large uncooked shrimp with shells
2 large King crab legs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 cups water
salt to taste
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons dry sherry, divided
3 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 large leeks, white and light green parts, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
2 tablespoons, tomato paste
pinch cayenne
1 cup heavy cream

Shell 1 pound large or medium uncooked shrimp, reserve the shrimp and  cook the shells in a large pot over high heat in 1 tablespoon butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring frequently, until lightly browned in spots, about 3 minutes.  Then add 2/3 cup dry white wine and 2 tablespoons dry sherry.  Boil until most of the liquid is evaporated.  Add 6 cups water, 3 sprigs thyme and a bay leaf and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  Strain the shrimp stock into a bowl, pressing on the shells before discarding them. 

In the same pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1/4 teaspoon salt.   Add the meat from 2 large King crab legs and about 8 large shrimp. We cut the crab and shrimp into bite-size pieces, setting aside several shrimp for the top of the soup garnish.    Sauté until the shrimp are pink, 2-4 minutes.  Then transfer crab and shrimp to a bowl.

Add 3 tablespoons butter along with 2 ribs chopped celery, 1 peeled chopped carrot, 2 large leeks, white and light green only, chopped, 2 garlic cloves, chopped, and  1 fennel bulb, finely chopped and sauté about 5 minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons tomato paste, pinch of cayenne and pinch of salt and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add shrimp stock and simmer, covered for about 20 minutes.  With a stick blender, process into a purée to your desired consistency.  We like it a little chunky.

Add 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 more tablespoons of sherry into the bisque.  Return to stove top to reheat.  Stir the remaining shrimp and crab into the bisque.

Absolutely delicious and I am so glad I finally tried to make my own shrimp stock.  It is so simple and I know that using chicken or vegetable broth as a substitute would not have been a good thing for this bisque.