Architect builds culinary adventures Gourmet: Recipes are thrilling blueprints for local cooking enthusiast.

Kitchen Encounter

February 12, 1997|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,SUN STAFF

Cooking came easily and early for Baltimore architect Fred Hiser -- in junior high school, where he was required to take home economics and loved it. "It just clicked with me," he said.

He went on to take a high school course in gourmet cooking -- "You got to eat what you cooked" -- and to make his Boy Scout patrol the envy of other campfire diners.

"I think cooking is a craft, akin to architecture," he said. "You're assembling pieces and parts of things. It's the whole process, the way I approach a building project -- it's balance, it's pulling together lots of different resources."

Hiser and his wife, Helen Kopits Hiser, also an architect, have a 2 1/2 -year-old, and another child due in May. He's the chief cook, and he said that pleasing his daughter is a challenge. She "scarfs down" spicy Hungarian paprika chicken, he said, "but she hates mashed potatoes!"

He characterizes himself as an adventuresome cook. "I like the challenge of a new recipe, of a new technique or a new food product." His greatest culinary moment came when chocolatier Albert Kirschmayr, a friend and noted perfectionist, pronounced Hiser's salmon en papillote "perfect." His worst disaster was when he was making honey-ginger ice cream -- with "a pound of shaved fresh ginger and an obscene amount of honey." This mixture had to be cooked before it could be combined with custard and frozen. But when it hit the hot pan, it exploded -- "like a volcano," Hiser said. Meantime, the custard portion, which had contained a dozen eggs yolks, curdled. "It was more like a science experiment," he said, laughing at the memory.

Here is one of Hiser's recipes:

Grilled lamb

Serves 6 to 8

1 3 1/2 -to-4-pound leg of lamb, trimmed, boned, butterflied (see note)


1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded (see note)

1 onion, quartered

3 cloves garlic

1-inch cube fresh ginger, peeled

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons olive oil

Put marinade ingredients into the work bowl of a food processor and process until liquid. Put lamb and marinade in freezer bag and marinate for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Heat oven to 200 degrees. (If desired, toss soaked hickory or mesquite chips on fire.) Grill lamb directly over hot fire (red coals) 5 to 6 minutes per side, basting with extra marinade.

Remove from grill and finish in the oven for about 1 hour or more, depending on desired doneness. Slice thinly across the grain. Lamb may be served hot, cold or at room temperature.

Note: To butterfly, cut at thick end of leg so meat lies flat -- or ask the butcher to do it.

Wear rubber gloves to cut and seed the pepper.

Pub Date: 2/12/97

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