We have moved. We are still in boxes, but we are in our new home. Before we left though, there were things I had to take care of. I went to some of my favorite restaurants, I ran my old running routes, and I cleaned out our fridge. In the meat drawer of our fridge sat a glass container that had been there so long I barely recognized it. A week before we left, I was reminded what it was – smelt, little fresh water fish with a small, but fervent following in Chicago. A few days before we left, I finally tried the smelt I had been salting and preserving like anchovies for over two years. Continue reading »
With the sheer volume of cookbooks released on a monthly basis, it is easy to forget about the great ones that are sitting in one’s collection. Yet on Saturday mornings when I am looking for a few dishes to make in the coming week, most of the time I grab a few new books, but with them, I almost always grab the same book -”The Zuni Cafe Cookbook” by Judy Rodgers. Zuni seems to have an endless trove of delicious dishes that feel new despite being published over a decade ago. It is like the pages refresh upon each open. The recipe that stood out on a recent trip through Zuni was salt cod. Continue reading »
When I think of cured fish, I typically think of lox or something Scandanavian. With loads of dried shiitake and kombu in the pantry, however, I wanted to flavor a cured fish, ideally mackerel or trout, with flavors including these ingredients typically included in dashi making. Continue reading »
Some people tell me that they never smoke meats due to lack of equipment. I agree that smoking a fifteen pound pork shoulder without a smoker could be troublesome, but truthfully, not only do you not need a smoker, but you do not even need charcoal or wood to add that amazing flavor to your food. In fact, in this case, you just need a long car ride, a plastic cup and some pistachios.
On the way North to Wisconsin, I grabbed a package of pistachios, shell-on. With a plastic cup full of shells, I wondered if, in addition to pecan hulls that I have been using, other nut shells could double as a source of smoke. After tea-smoking a pork belly in a cast-iron skillet, I thought that it might be a great way to isolate the impact of the nut shells. Continue reading »
Due to a peculiar series of events, I was left with an extra side of salmon early in the week. With that extra salmon on the brain, I got to idea generation. I kept coming back to curing the salmon with liquor. The only things was that I had done that a number of times. I could feel a rut coming on, but then I decide that it was time for me to try my hand and rolling sausages using cling-wrap. With a broken terrine replaced, the need to hand roll a terrine was gone, but a salmon sausage was something I wanted to explore. Continue reading »
With country ham epicness ahead, I wanted to use the last of the Benton’s Country Ham gifted so generously by Mr. Schleifer (remember, the connoisseur of anchovies, country ham, and laksa?) before that whole business started. It is those kind of thoughts that often get me into trouble. I want to use random, free small bits, so I go out of my way for days to find supplies to “use it up”. This was no different. I was paging through Momofuku and saw that Chang uses country ham in place of Yunanese ham while making XO sauce. After reading the recipe and description of XO sauce, despite never having it, I knew that I was going to make it. Continue reading »
Pastrami – I love your sweet/salty cure, your steamed tender fatty slices left thick, the smoke, and that subtle crunch of your rub. The smoke and sweet/salty combo make pastrami so appealing, but what sets it apart from, say, bacon or ham is that crust of spices. That crust not only adds great texture to the cured meat, but a boost of flavor in addition to what is imparted by cure or smoke. Truly a magical meat. Continue reading »
I am going to say it. I do not like cooking fish. I barely like eating cooked fish, but I really, truly, honestly dislike cooking fish. Unlike most things that I don’t like to do, I do not feel like fish cookery is something that I need to get past. I am perfectly happy honoring the mighty fish by fire by leaving it to the experts. However, one project by the amazing “Ideas in Food” crew that caught my attention despite it involving me cooking fish was making fish head cheese. Continue reading »
After eating octopus at each visit to Taxim and again at Vera, I was itching to cook the cephalopod, but was alway intimidated by the beast and scared to put a plate of rubber bands in front of my wife. While Taxim and Vera do it right, I have had my fair share of mutilated, rubbery flesh and, given that I have never cooked it, did not want to do the same. I was researching how cooked octopus behaves and which method involved the most flexibility in cooking time with the least amount of risk. Continue reading »
Low country cuisine is on the rise. For the majority of the country, no one really knows about “Low Country”. For those from there or married to those who are, we have been hearing about its high points for years. For those people paying close attention to recent food writing, the Low Country culture and cuisine seems likely to be the hot 2012 cuisine. Quintessentially American and featuring some of the finest ingredients native to the United States, there are clear reasons that follows the farm-to-table trend into the limelight. There are few areas from which I would choose a farm’s bounty over coastal South Carolina given the climate and rich soil.