Over much of the fall and early winter, I’ve been working on building a cold smoker made from a bullet smoker, chimney pipe and cinder blocks. I am 90% there and the smoker is fully functional. The first step was testing the dosage of smoke provided by the new smoker. I started with something I wanted lightly smoked, chicken livers, and something I wanted heavily smoked, some extra sharp cheddar cheese.
With a large and growing cookbook collection, I get asked by friends who may not have the same cookbook issues, “How do you choose which book to cook from – much less what to cook from the book you choose?” This has to be a common question. My answer – I will grab a book based on what I have at home or based on what the season is. Sometimes, I will see something online which will push me to get back into a book. When I do find a book, the driving force behind picking a recipe is almost always a new technique or ingredient I want to try. In this case, there was a technique which included boiling beef tongue after smoking it. I was skeptical. Won’t you boil off any smoke flavors? Wouldn’t the other way be better? I had to try it for myself. Continue reading
As noted in a recent post discussing supplementing andouille with lamb’s heart, I happened upon a treasure trove of odd bits while walking through a Wisconsin farmer’s market. In addition to the lamb hearts, I found a pound of bison liver for a dollar. I had no idea what to expect. I figured it would be similar to beef liver and I was concerned with what the animal ate while it is was upright. I had an idea of the answer when I saw the prices of the more desirable cuts, but the grass-fed provenance was confirmed by the farmer, so I picked up the pound. Continue reading
A fifteen minute walk through a small-town Wisconsin farmer’s market yielded some of the finest variety meats I have had in some time for prices so low I could not fathom how there was so much to buy. In a state where offal is less flashily portrayed and truly ends up on your grandma’s dinner table rather than on a contrived dish using her as a prop, I was surprised to see offal from seemingly pristinely raised animals being ignored. Even so, there was an old man in traditional Amish garb selling what appeared to be some great lamb. I asked about offal and he brought out what he had. For a couple dollars (literally), I bought every last lamb heart the guy had with him. Then some ground lamb as well to make it worth his while. Continue reading
After being disappointed by several new highly regarded, cheffy cookbooks over the winter, I decided to pull in the reins a little and look to some of the classic teaching cookbooks – I mean, I could not stop buying them altogether. In an earlier post, I referenced the Good Cook series as great resources, so I picked up a rare UK only edition on Game. Searching for old cookbooks reads a bit as I was record collecting and it is not entirely far off. There is a collection aspect to it. There is the thrill of the hunt, like record collecting. And like collecting classic records, the content is, in many cases, timeless when you hit on some great books. When I was searching for the Good Cook “Game” book, the Foods of the World series kept coming up in searches. Like the Good Cook series, it is a Time-Life series, but from earlier on – the late 1960s/early 1970s. When I looked into the books, it seemed the be encyclopaedic – 54 volumes with narrative and recipes. I found a used complete set online for a few bucks per book and picked it up in short order. Continue reading
If you read enough about food, and I read far too many things about food, certain things begin to stick in your craw. I understand you might still be thinking about your meal again. For the third week in a row your mind is blown? You notice certain writers lean on the same crutch over and over again. You notice phrases like “figured out what men crave”. Continue reading
We host a dinner party periodically which is actually just a book club to which my wife belongs. Typically those types of groups are simply drinking clubs, but this one adds food and actual books. About a week before book club, I realized my original plan of serving cassoulet had been done before. By me. Last winter. It seems as when the weather grows cold, I cook beans – large pots of beans with sausages and off cuts.
Actually I should have never been surprised. Beans and meats are fantastic and this weather has forced my hand. Only, I am not a repeater. Knowing fabada is a not-so-distant cousin to cassoulet, I figured there must be more cousins. I just needed to look. Continue reading
There are foods which you go out of your way to eat. A canele from Bad Wolf coffee, churros from Masa Azul, and tots from Nightwood are a few for my family. For me, there are also a few. One is pozole from Butcher & Larder. Driving a half hour for soup is something that requires a certain dedication, but I am nothing short of dedicated about B&L’s pozole (think “Faithfully“). Being short sighted, I never buy more than a quart when Chris and Rob make a batch. With the Chicago weather hovering near zero for basically a whole month, I was left without pozole for most of it. Continue reading
For those following closely, my love for great cookbooks is no surprise. One of the cookbooks I received in a family gift exchange that has stood out as a “top of the pile cookbook is Pok Pok by Andy Ricker. I am not sure what the formula is for being one of those books, the kind that you cook from over and over again despite having others just waiting to be read, but this one joins The Art of Cooking Vegetables, Joe Beef and Momofuku in that club. Continue reading
There are so many beautiful books released this fall that I can not afford to buy even half of those I would like to have. The ones I have purchased are lovely, but sometimes the old ugly books, the ones released over thirty years ago remind us of that delicious food is not a recent trend and that snout to tail cooking was not invented in 2005. Continue reading