It about the time of year, actually it is a little late, to start testing recipes for Thanksgiving. As I have noted in the past, our family’s holiday ritual is a gathering so large that it can at any given time, 50 people over 4 generations might be eating. Picking a dish which I will have fun preparing which is not already being prepared which most people will like is difficult. With that in mind, I grabbed a turkey to feed our family this week with a few takes on standard favorites of ours made with Thanksgiving ingredients. Continue reading »
Growing up, we always had a garden and, alongside the garden, we also had an enormous mass of concord grape vines. When we were there in early October, there were pounds and pounds of concords bending the vine, so how could I resist bringing home a bunch? One of my first thoughts was making raisins with the concords, but the problem I found was the enormous number of seeds. Continue reading »
Consider this a practice, and I should know not to be afraid to make any cured meat, because the thought of making mortadella at home is frightening. Stuffing a beef bung full of emulsified meat and fat and then boiling the whole thing is intimidating to me, but I will get there. I just needed a little push and a little practice. Continue reading »
Chef Mark Mendez runs the kitchen at his West Loop restaurant Vera. It is no secret that Vera is one of my favorite restaurants in town. Food is simple without being simple. Complex flavors and textures are everywhere, but nothing seems fussed over and no extra ingredients are strewn across the plate. His philosophy of keeping things simple and making sure everything included is high quality and necessary inspired most of my decisions in my kitchen design project and one of the first things cooked in the kitchen, these beef tongue and caper sausages, were inspired by a signature Mendez dish – the Beef Tongue Pincho. Continue reading »
This weekend has been the first for over three months with full access to a kitchen. After stacking meats in the freezer for months, I went to the lamb liver I had been holding onto since making lamb liver pudding. The idea I kept coming back to wa a sausage I have eaten plenty, never made, and was high on my list – braunschweiger. Continue reading »
Charcuterie can be many things. To some it is only the meat you can never pronounce – likely something Italian or French, but keep in mind the last decade of emerging trendiness in charcuterie obscures the reality of charcuterie existing in everyday life for centuries in plain sight. Hot dogs, ham, and bacon are all good examples. Guanciale is fancy. Jowl Bacon is not. Jamon Iberico is fancy. Country ham is not. Salchichón is fancy. Summer sausage is not. Continue reading »
Sometimes it is about the big picture, but I have been taking more notice of the elements lately. Recently I noticed, while ordering banh mi, how I have ordered the same sandwich so many times yet have no idea what the “pork roll” is that sits on the sandwich. When I took a look at the sandwich after getting curious, I realized I needed to crack a book and figure it out. Continue reading »
We started construction today. Better said, we started deconstruction today. This means we went from having a dysfunctional kitchen to a completely non-functional kitchen. The difference being a single gas burner which is always hot, even when not in use, is no longer at our disposal. Given the relatively limited use we were accustomed to, most of my cooking has been grilling, but when a door closes, others open. We now have a garage and, from an earlier garage project, I have nearly a gallon of magic ramp kraut juice. Like the yogurt whey used earlier this summer, kraut juice works well as a fermentation starter.
The old chair. The old jeans. The old shoes.
These things are all good things. In times of transition, they may be the best things. With boxes filled with our lives stacked around a home that will someday feel like our home, the feelings of familiar can be so much more exciting than the newness. Do not get me wrong, new is exciting and tinkering is one of my favorite things to do, but with everything around my life seeming new and unfamiliar, these broken in, and in some cases broken down, relics are my favorite. Continue reading »
On the grill. Everything is on the grill.
We are without an oven for an extended period, so we have adapted. It is summer, after all, so timing could be worse to be forced to cook over fire regularly, but it has taken me some time to adapt. Gone are the days of baking bread for my ladies or cooking overnight in a low oven. It is probably for the best anyway since we do not currently have counter or cabinet space to spare. Continue reading »