When you see a recipe that says "twice cooked," do you immediately think it means "double trouble?" While that's frequently the case, preparing foods in stages can just as often mean less bother for the cook, because most of the work is done in advance. In the end, the combined processes can lead to the creation of dishes that show off the characteristics of the ingredients in new and exciting ways.
The following recipes demonstrate a range of cooking combinations: Zucchini chips are boiled and deep fried; lemon-lamb stew is braised and plan fried; shredded carrots are blanched and stir fried; potatoes are steamed and baked; and almond bread is baked first in a moderate oven and then again in a slow oven.
This makes a complete meal - appetizer, meat, vegetable, starch, and dessert - of twice cooked foods. All the recipes of well together and are fairly simple to execute. "Raw" courses, such as cheese and salad, can be added.
TWICE COOKED ZUCCHINI CHIPS (Serves 6) 8 small, thin zucchini, approximately 2 pounds 2 quarts water, approximately 3 egg whites 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 quart peanut oil, approximately 2/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
Scrub, trim and discard tips of zucchini. Cut in half crosswise. Bring water to a full boil. Add zucchini and cook for about 5 minutes until not quite tender. Drain in a colander and run under cold water until cool. Cut crosswise into half-inch slices. Dry on paper towels. Keep at room temperature.
When ready to cook again, beat egg whites and salt with a fork unitl frothy. Add zucchini and allow to sit for about half an hour. In a deep frying pan or an electric fryer oil to 350 degrees until shimmering and on the verge of smoking. (Use a candy/deep frying thermometer if necessary to determine temperature; recipe won't work if oil isn't hot enough.) Meanwhile, drain excess egg white from zucchini in a colander. Toss about in 1/2 cup romano cheese to coat zucchini lightly. Fry zucchini in small batches for about 1 1/2 minutes until golden. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Romano cheese and black pepper. Serve as an appetizer with toothpicks. TWICE COOKED LEMON-LAMB STEW (Serves 6) 5 pounds shoulder roast of lamb (see note) 2 medium onions 3 lemons 1 bunch parsley 2 bay leaves 2 teaspoons salt or to taste 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste 1/8 teaspoon allspice 3 cups water, approximately 1/4 cup peanut oil 3 egg yolks 5 3/4 ounce-can black olives, drained
Trim meat of excess fat. Cut onions into thin slices. Trim and discard ends of one lemon. Cut, rind and all, into thin slices. Remove stems from leaves of parsley. Put onions, lemon, parsley stems bay leaves, salt, pepper, and allspice in bottom of heavy casserole just large enough to hold meat. Add water to barely cover meat.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 1 1/2 hours; turning once, until meat is tender. Let cool.
Strain stock into a saucepan. Chill until fat congeals and rises to the top, then remove and discard. Boil stock down to 1 1/2 cups. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Cut meat into 1-inch cubes, removing and discarding interior fat, bone, and gristle.
When ready to cook again, heat oil in a large flameproof serving dish or frying pan. Add meat and fry over high meat for about 5 minutes until brown and glazed. Wipe out excess fat or transfer to a casserole. Cooking vessel must be nonmetal or sauce will discolor. Add stock and juice of remaining two lemons. Cook over low heat for about 30 minutes until flavors blend. Stir occasionally. In a cup beat egg yolks lightly. Spoon about 1/4 cup warm stock into yolks, then stir diluted egg yolks into stew. Heat gently, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens slightly, but do not boil or egg yolks will curdle. Garnish with olives and parsley leaves.
Note: Shoulder roast of lamb, not usually found on the meat counter, is virtually always available from the butcher. It is the best cut for this stew. TWICE COOKED SHREDDED CARROTS (Serves 6) 8 medium carrots, approximately 1 pound 2 quarts water, approximately 3 tablespoons butter 2 teaspoons sugar or to taste 1 teaspoon salt or to taste 1 tablespoon (not packed) freshly grated, peeled ginger root
Peel carrots. Trim and discard ends. Shred coarsely. This can be done on a hand-held grater or in a food processor. Bring water to a full boil. Add carrots and cook for about 15 seconds until barely wilted. Drain in a colander and run under cool water until cool. Dry on paper towels.
When ready to cook again, melt butter in a flame-proof serving dish or frying pan. Add sugar, salt, and ginger, and cook over low heat for about 2 minutes until aroma develops. Increase heat to moderate, add carrots, and stir fry for about 5 minutes until hot but still chewy. Taste and add sugar and salt, if necessary. WASHINGTON REDSKINS: TWICE COOKED POTATOES (Serves 6) 8 medium potatoes, (preferably red bliss) approximately 4 pounds. 2 cups water, approximately 6 tablespoons butter (3/4 stick) 1 1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper or to taste
Wash potatoes. Set a metal colander or cake rack on a heatproof cup in a large pot. Fill with water to just below level of colander or rack. Add potatoes, arranging biggest on bottom and smallest on top. Cover pot with a dish towel and then with a lid. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to moderate and steam potatoes for about 25 minutes until partially cooked. Let cool. Chill and refrigerate.
When ready to cook again, peel potatoes. Cut lengthwise into sixths and crosswise into very thin slices. This can be done with a knife, on the blade of a hand-held shredder, or in a food processor.
Rub a shallow baking dish, approximately 9x13 inches in size, with one tablespoon butter. Add potatoes and toss with salt and pepper. With the palms of your hands, press potatoes down to make a smooth top. Melt remaining 5 tablespoons butter and pour over potatoes to coat lightly. More or less butter may be needed depending on size of baking dish.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake potatoes on a rack placed in top of oven for about 1 hour until crisp and golden. GRADMA ANNIE'S TWICE COOKED ALMOND BREAD (Makes 3 dozen) 3/4 cup whole unblanched almonds 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate 3 eggs 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar 3/4 cup peanut oil 2 3/4 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Butter a large cookie sheet (approximately 10x15 inches) if it is not nonstick. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
With a knife chop chocolate into tiny pieces. With a knife, or in a blender or a food processor, chop almonds into tiny pieces. In a large bowl beat eggs and 1 cup sugar, preferably with an electric mixer, for about 3 minutes until pale and thick. Beat in oil.
Stir flour with a wisk to aerate, measure, and dump on top of egg mixture. Sprinkle baking powder and salt over flour. Stir into egg mixture. Add chocolate and almonds. Batter will be stiff and sticky.
Wet your hands in cold water and shape batter into three loaves about 2 inches in diameter and 10 inches long. Place crosswise, well apart, on prepared cookie sheet. Batter will spread immediately after shaping and again during baking.
Bake on a rack in middle of oven for about 20 minutes until light brown.Remove from oven and reduce heat to 225 degrees. Cut crosswise into 3/4-inch slices while still warm. Rearrange slices so that one does not touch another, using a second cookie sheet, if necessary. Mix remaining 2 tablespoons sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle on slices. Bake again for about 40 minutes until dry. Let cool. Store in an air-tight container.