R.T.E is on the look out for amateur cooks

R.T.E is looking for amateur cooks for a new cookery television show that will allow an amateur cook with a great recipe or signature dish to make it big in the market place. The more unique or innovative the idea the better!

So if you think that you have it  contact the RTE at http://www.rte.ie/recipeforsuccess or recipe for success, RTE, Father Mathew Street, Cork before the 28th of September 2008.


So, there is the first article in the new readers questions section of Food Lorists.
These two questions were send to me by Sava from the U.K:
"I live in the UK and have recently purchased Croatian cookbook, but do not understand the terminology. Please could you tell me what (DAG) means? as in weight and (DL).
Many thanks"
There is the explanation for DL is an abbreviation for deciliter which is the equivalent to 100 milliliter or 0.1 liter. There are more equivalence for a deciliter:
- 1 deciliter = 3.3814 fluid ounces-1 deciliter = 6.1024 cubic inches
- 1 deciliter = 20.29 teaspoons
- 1 deciliter = 6.76 tablespoons-1 deciliter = 27.05 drams
- 1 deciliter = 0.423 cups-1 deciliter = 0.845 gills
- 1 deciliter = 0.21134 pints
- 1 deciliter = 0.10567 quarts.

When it comes to the DAG, not knowing in which context it was used there is the only logical explanation that I have for these three letters in relation to food:
DAG is an abbreviation for diacylglycerol which a type of fat. The word means that this fat molecule is made of two fatty acid linked to a molecule of glycerol. It is contained in most vegetable oils an his linked to helping the reduction of fat tissues masses in the human body, inducing a weight loss.
Diacylglycerol (DAG) oil is a new fairly type of cooking oil that has been granted license to human consumption in the late 90s. It is used like normal vegetable oil but is healthier has it helps reducing body fat. It is sold under the brand name enova oil in Americas, Europe and Japan when it is used since a very long time. But I have to say I have never come across any in regular shops like Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury or other chain store or even health store.
Furthermore, diacylglycerols are common food additives used to stabilize certain ingredients, such as oil and water, which would not otherwise blend well.


New label

Just a short post to introduce a new label on Food Lorists: readers questions answered. As I started to receive few interesting questions via e-mail, I decided to publish them along with the answers. I hope that it will allow others to have a browse around and maybe find an answer to similar questions or even express their own views on the subject.


Baby Potatoes cooked in a Grey Sea Salt Shell

To conclude with this chapter on salt I will give you one of my favourite potato dish: baby potatoes cooked in a grey sea salt shell and flavoured with fresh marjoram, oregano, thyme and garlic finished by a drizzle of Greek extra virgin olive oil.

There is a recipe that will serve 6 people:
  • 1 egg white.
  • 36 baby potatoes, washed thoroughly.
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh oregano.
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme.
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh marjoram.
  • 8 cloves of garlic.
  • Some extra virgin Greek olive oil.

This recipe is very simple. First, wash and dry well the herbs and coarsely chop them. Cut the cloves of garlic in half.

Start your oven at 180 degrees Celsius (gas mark 7, 356F).

Mix well the sea salt and the egg white.

Take 2 large pieces of tin foil and over lap them. Place a layer of sea salt-egg white mixture, about 2cm thick. Place the potatoes and the garlic on the top of it, sprinkle the herbs over them, and fully cover the baby potatoes with the rest of the salt.

Then fold the tin foil over this salt mass and tighten well this tin foil "bag".

Place on roasting tray and place in the oven for 40-45 minutes.

When cooked, unwrap the sea salt shell. Break it and place the potatoes into a nice dish. Finally, add a drizzle of olive oil to the potatoes before serving them.

"Only two things in this world are too serious to be jested on, potatoes and matrimony."

Irish saying.

gluten free, nut free, dairy free, vegetarian, vegan, suitable for pregnant women. suitable for freezing.


Poularde cooked in a grey sea salt shell

There is the second recipe using salt as a casing, that I would like to share. First of all, as I am sure that most people do not know what is a "poularde", so let's have a closer look at this type of poultry.
A "poularde" is a fatty chicken that is grown in a particular way to avoid that it reaches sexual maturity. It consists of a young hen which is raised free range for the first part of its life and fed with corn, cereals and milk. Then just before it reaches sexual maturity, it is placed in a cage and maintained in the dark to be fattened for few weeks. In this way, the young hen do not reach sexual maturity, resulting in a very meaty bird (around 1.8Kg), covered of an important layer of fat, with a very tender, moist and milky flesh, but slightly on the bland side. The most famous region of production of poulardes are Le Mans and the Bresse regions of France.
Now the recipe:
This is a recipe for a bird of 1.8Kg that would be sufficient for 6 people:
  • 1 Poularde of about 1.8kg.
  • 160g of egg whites.
  • few nettles of rosemary.
  • 1 small sprig of thyme.
  • 6 peppercorns.
  • 1 clove of garlic.
  • 6 slices of black truffle.

First of all, check the bird's cavity for any remains of guts, blood clots and lungs. Then place the peppercorn, the crushed clove of garlic, the thyme and rosemary it this cavity. Then, carefully, place the slices of black truffle under the skin, all along the breasts area.

When, this is done, take a none stick pan and sear the bird on all sides until they reaches a nice golden colour. Make sure not to break the skin. Then, set aside. A little tip, here, use a couple of small wooden spoons that you place in the bird cavity to help you move the bird around.

In a large bowl, mix well the grey sea salt and the egg whites.

Finally, pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius (gas mark 6, 356F). Take a roasting tray large enough to take the bird. Make a layer of salt-egg white mixture about 2cm thick onto the tray. Then, place the poularde on the top of it and fully cover the bird with the rest of the salt.

Cook in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes. When it is cooked, let the poularde rest for about 10 minute in its shell, out of the oven.

Break the shell and take the poularde out. Remove all the salt and serve with some baked potatoes, braised cabbage and some jus scented with black truffle.

There is a link to the web-site of a nice bunch from France (I enjoy doing a bit of translation work for them), that offers a recipe for a chicken cooked in a salt shell.

" . . . réveillon, this word says it all; it is just as well that it comes only once a year, on 25 December, between two and three o'clock in the morning. This meal. . . is designed to restore the faithful, who are exhausted after a session of four hours in church, and to refresh throats hoarse from singing praises to the Lord. . . . A poularde or a capon with rice is the obligatory dish for this nocturnal meal, taking the place of soup, which is never served. Four hors d'oeuvres, consisting of piping hot sausages, fat well-stuffed andouilles, boudins blancs au crème, and properly defatted black puddings, are its attendants. This is followed by ox (beef) tongue, either pickled or (more likely) dressed as it would be at this time of the year, accompanied by a symmetrical arrangement of a dozen pigs' trotters (feet) stuffed with truffles and pistachio nuts, and a dish of fresh pork cutlets. At each corner of the table are two plates of petits fours, including tarts or tartlets, and two sweet desserts, which may be a cream and an English apple pie. Nine more desserts round off the meal, and the faithful - thus fortified - retire to their devotions at the early morning Mass, preceded by Prime and followed by Tierce."

Grimod de La Reyniere, Almanach des gourmands (1758-1838)

Gluten free, dairy free, nut free, suitable for pregnant women.


Sea bass cooked in a grey sea salt shell

To finish these few posts about salt, I would like to add a couple of recipes which are using salt in a peculiar way. Salt is used to encased the food, to protect it from heat and allow it to cook in its own flavoured vapours while transferring its essential minerals and its subtle flavour to the ingredient in the shell.
The first recipe that I would like to propose you is a traditional recipe from my home land of Brittany: le bar de ligne en croute de sel or sea bass cooked in a grey sea salt shell. So, this is how it goes:
Recipe for a nice sea bass of 1.2Kg serving four persons.
  • A whole sea bass of about 1.2Kg with its scale on.
  • a sprig of thyme.
  • a sprig of tarragon.
  • 2 slices of lemon.
  • 1 small shallots.
  • 10 sechuan peppercorns.
  • 1 egg white.
Place the salt in a large bowl and mix it well with the egg white.
Pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius (gas mark 6, 356F).
Take a roasting tray, put a layer of salt-egg white mixture about two centimetres thick into it. Then place the fish onto the salt, stuff it with the slices of lemon, thyme, peppercorn, shallot and tarragon and cover the seabass with the salt left over in a way that the fish is fully encased into the salt.
Cook in the oven for 45 minutes.
Break the salt shell and serve with few baby potatoes and some white wine sauce or beurre blanc on the side.

“Fish in the hands of a skilled cook can become an inexhaustible source of gustatory pleasures.”
Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826). The Physiology of Taste

Gluten free, dairy free, suitable for pregnant women, nut free.