Preserved Yuzu

During our trip to Japan last year, we saw a lot of yuzu juice, dried yuzu peels and plenty of yuzu kosho. We saw absolutely zero whole yuzu fruit. It was a surprise to see a basket of yuzu in our suburban grocery and, when I did, I grabbed all of them. With most of the yuzu, I peeled them and made a huge batch of yuzu kosho. Sitting with a bunch of peeled yuzu and a few remaining fruit, I juiced the peeled fruits, reserved the seeds and stared at the remaining fruit. Continue reading

Corned Beef Bacon

Everyone is on year three of bacon fatigue. I mean, if someone is wrapping pepperoni pizza in bacon, and not pepperoni or better yet, nothing, we are not in good times. With that in mind, when you read “Corned Beef Bacon” in your mind, or if you read aloud to yourself, please read it is as “CORNED BEEF bacon” and not “corned beef BACON”.

No matter how you say it, while evaluating St. Patrick’s Day dinner at our house, I lamented having to cook, and eat, boiled meat. Realizing corned beef IS boiled meat, I frankly wanted corned beef and cabbage to happen without boiling. Continue reading

Pig Tails Al Pastor

Around 8 PM on New Year’s Eve, we were in the midst of the second course of our annual lower-case-b bacchanalia at The Butcher and Larder. A cast iron skillet was piled high with pig’s tails and another with Beef Tendon ‘Duk Bokki’ – a take on the Korean rice/fish cake dish, but in this case topped with beef tendon. With hours to spare in the year, I was eating something which could qualify as the best thing I ate in Chicagoland in 2014. Continue reading

Smoked Marrow Hot Dogs

With the February temperatures dropping below zero, I changed the cold smoking set-up to be a Lil’ Smokey Joe grill in the cinder block smokehouse with a shelving unit beside it. After trying to simply pipe smoke into a frigid smokehouse,  I was getting nowhere. Even with a grill in the smokehouse, the temperatures reached 80 degrees only once over a two week smoking period. Even with putting the heat in smokehouse, the temperatures were a little low for smoking a country ham, but perfect for smoking food which would liquify at warmer temps.

I had spent a late evening paging through the most recent Noma cookbook (the journal was a fascinating addition to the cookbook, seriously) when I read a recipe for smoked marrow fudge. With temps where they have been, smoked marrow was an achievable project. Continue reading

Doughnut Biscotti and Custard

As we left our our Valentine’s Dinner recap earlier in the week, mention of dessert was neglected. I do not have a huge sweet tooth. She likes her doughnuts. I like my coffee. Doughnuts and coffee are great friends and I thought I would try making them more complementary.

People talk about dunking doughnuts in coffee, but to me that sounds like a good way to lose donuts and gain pastry dregs at the bottom of your cup. Doughnuts are not built for dunking in a sustainable way. To make them more structurally sound for dunking, I tested a bunch of different donuts to see which can be baked a second time giving them dunkability and turning them into doughnut biscotti. Continue reading

Pig Head Carnitas

There comes a time in your life when Valentine’s Day might happen on February 1, February 28 or even May 5. For us, it was February 21. And yes, I realize the following:

  • Valentine’s Day is a greeting card profit-center
  • Not everyone currently participating in a relationship participates in Valentine’s Day
  • Not everyone, maybe not anyone, regardless of relationship status cares.

Yet, there I was preparing our Valentine’s Day meal, as one of our few remaining traditions dating back to, well, dating and I was doing so a week late and trying, and failing, to be judicious about not going to excess.

Continue reading

Bringing Aroma Oil to Chicken Soup

Spending time in airports lately, I have been thinking back to our trip to Japan. After an hour waiting for a plane, the thoughts invariably go to the ramen we had. One of things that has been eating away at me is how the use of aroma oil, whether is be the black and bitter māyu or the light scallion oil, most places we visited had house oil which along with the tare would create bowls unique to their makers. The oil also works to keep the bowl near a boil. Continue reading


‘Ndouille has been percolating in my head for a few years. Andouille in the form of ‘nduja. Smoky, spicy and spreadable. When it came time to put the idea into action, it did not work.  It was smoky, spicy and spreadable. I could check off the boxes and it was not bad. It just was not good, either. It was not great and it was not a so bad as to require tossing. It was in the terrible, awful, no good middle ground. In addition to middling sausage, an outdoor guest was brave enough to take a bite out of all but one of the chubs left to hang in the garage for three months. Continue reading


By now, many people who have at least a half dozen bookmarks devoted to food websites on their browser are at least casually aware of David Chang and his Lucky Peach quarterly magazine. Recently, Lucky Peach added an online presence leading with a nice feature on the regional ramen which was featured in Issue 1, but has been otherwise unavailable. I have been tinkering with ramen throughout the winter, but I had just traded emails with one of my favorite stateside ramen cooks when I read the bit on tsukemen in the regional ramen piece. Continue reading

Taberu rāyu

After experimenting by making stock from a smoked lamb’s head and bones in the style of ramen, I found it to be too lamby and really, really rich – far richer than typical tonkotsu. Trying to save it, I thought adding heat might balance the stock, so I looked to make a chili oil. Wanting to stay in the same lane as I stock, I looked to Japan and the chili oil, rāyu. After looking deeper, I found a slight variation. This is the “chunky peanut butter” version of chili oil. Continue reading


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