A staple of Malaysian and Indonesian cooking, candlenuts come from trees in the family Euphorbiaceae, also known as Candle Berry, Indian walnut, Kemiri, Varnish tree or Kuku'i nut tree. The nuts are greenish-brown and approximately golf ball-sized, with a very hard exterior and a high oil content.
In Malaysia, candlenuts are a major ingredient in a popular Indian-influenced curry dish called Chicken Kapitan, imparting a nutty flavor. In Indonesia, candlenuts are ground with chilis to make a spicy, pungent relish called sambal bajak; they're also sometimes rubbed on frying pans instead of oil. In Hawaii, roast candlenuts are ground into a paste with salt to make a condiment called inamona. If you can't find candlenuts, macadamias or Brazil nuts can be substituted.
My introduction to haggis came on a family trip to Scotland. My mother, who was Jewish and had never quite understood my father's extreme dislike of spices, bought A Feast of Scotland by Janet Warren. As we drove around the countryside, she tore through the tome, alternately giggling, gagging, and exclaiming "You're FREAKING joking!" At the end of all of this, she gazed upon my father and told him that she finally understood his problem. The cookbook featured exactly two spices: salt and pepper, and occasionally exhorted its readers to "add suet to taste." While there is a lot to be said for environment, it was clear that heredity had had at least some effect on my dad's palate.
In my original piece, I briefly mentioned my narrow experience with Guinness floats; this, in turn, inspired a fair bit of commentary on the various ice cream/beer combinations that are available out there. One reader suggested combining orange juice and Guinness in a 1:3 ratio. Similarly, another reader offered up the idea of a Rogue Chocolate Stout float or a Hazelnut Brown float.
Presidential Tuna Salad Sandwiches
Makes 4 Sandwiches
2 six ounce cans of US troll-caught albacore
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
Salt and pepper to taste
8 slices of bread
Lettuce and tomato slices to serve
Mix all but the last two ingredients together and assemble sandwiches. Enjoy!
I fiddled with this recipe a little bit. Being a fan of crunchiness, I threw in a couple of stalks of chopped celery. Also, as sweet pickle relish is an open invitation to high fructose corn syrup, I switched it out for some finely chopped, homemade bread and butter pickles. I also used low-fat mayonnaise and tossed in a little powdered red pepper, just for fun.
Finally, as I am fairly cheap (and don't like to support trolls), I went with more mainstream tuna fish. After a brief taste test, I determined that my favorite was Bumble Bee Prime Fillet Solid White Albacore. Although it comes in a shiny gold can and has every appearance of being expensive, it actually cost a little bit less than standard albacore. My apologies to America's fishing trolls (or trolling fishermen; I really have a hard time differentiating between the two).
After all my adjustments, the only real distinguishing factor of this tuna salad was its small quantity of mayo and addition of lemon juice. Both of these proved fantastic, and I will definitely be using them in the future. If anybody comes across other examples of Obama cuisine, please send them my way!
A little while ago, however, I learned that frogs are, apparently, dying in droves. Whether the cause is interspecies warfare, bacteria, habitat destruction, or any of a host of other suspects, the conclusion is the same: the price of frogs legs is skyrocketing. Today, in fact, most frogs legs come from China or India, where they are factory farmed. The best legs, however, seem to be produced by Ken Holyoak, a frog farmer from Brunswick, Georgia. By creating what amounts to a frog free-range habitat, Holyoak has found a way to produce frogs in quantity while avoiding some of the pitfalls that lead some restaurateurs to describe Chinese frogs as having a "muddy" flavor and "dark" meat.
While I don't think that I'll ever be a huge fan of frogs legs -- at least not while there is still alligator meat to be had -- it's nice to know that a combination of creativity, hard work, and eccentricity is keeping them on the table!
There are two big reasons for the great lobster drop. One is the fact that many high-end consumers, the kinds of people who could afford to eat lobster regularly, were hit particularly hard by 2008's financial meltdown. The second reason lies in the collapse of Iceland's economy: seafood producers in Canada that used Icelandic banks have not been able to get the credit they need to buy large amounts of lobster.
Personally, I'm going to be taking advantage of this sudden piece of good news. While I'm not a big fan of shelled lobster - to be honest, the huge crustaceans remind me of aquatic cockroaches and the whole lobster dining experience is disturbingly like an alien autopsy - lobster tails and lobster bisque are among my favorites. What's more, with lobster going for a fraction of its former price, this might be the perfect time for a Monty Python recipe that I've always wanted to try: Lobster Thermidor Aux Crevettes with Mornay Sauce, Truffle Pate, Brandy, Fried Egg and Spam. While I'm at it, I'm also keeping an eye on other delicacies; after all, who knows what will drop next?
Imagine if grapefruits turned greenish, shrank to the side of golf balls and lost their hard pith. That's the duku for you. Lansium Duranum, known in various languages as langsat, lansone, kokosan, gadu guda, lon bon and longkong duku grows throughout the tropical zones of Asia. They grow in clusters on trees, and are usually bought by the bunch. To eat a duku, cut it in half and simply squeeze until the fleshy lobes pop out of their jackets. It tastes remarkably like grapefruit, though some find it even more bitter (I don't). Duku are not widely available in the US (have any of you seen them?) but are ubiquitous in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia.
Pandan is the leaf of the Pandanus amaryllifolius plant. It's ubiquitious in Southeast Asian cooking, especially in desserts. Pandan is used in curries and meat dishes, wrapped around chicken and fried, used to perfume rice and to flavor cakes, ice creams and popsicles. Light green pandan cakes are a popular dessert in Malaysia and Indonesia, similar to a chiffon cake. Pandan leaves are also woven into baskets baskets, which can be used for serving food. Pandan is not readily available in the U.S., which is why it's rarely seen on menus, but can sometimes be found frozen in Asian markets.
Chikoo, also known as sapodilla or sapota, grows in India, Mexico and Central America, and parts of Southeast Asia. The fruit is lightly larger than a golf ball, with the brown, sandpapery skin of a potato. Inside is a slick, pale orange flesh with several black seeds. The flesh is almost candy sweet (it's sometimes called Indian butterscotch) and has the rough, soft texture of an overripe pair. Chikoo is a common ingredient in Indian ice creams, milkshades, and halwas. The latex from the stem can be used to make chewing gum.
Take unpeeled sweet potatoes, of any quantity, and drop them into boiling water. Cover and cook for about 25 minutes, or until they can be easily and smoothly pierced with a fork. Let the sweet potatoes cool until you can comfortably handle them, then peel and mash. Preheat oven to 375°.
For every two cups of mashed sweet potato (about five medium potatoes), add:
5 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Lemon juice to taste
Beat with a fork, whisk, or hand mixer until very light. Place in a deep oven-safe dish, arrange large marshmallows on top (if desired), and heat through in oven. Be careful, as the marshmallows can easily burn. Serve immediately.