My favorite foods are often ones which dot the front of your shirt in ruddy brown or red and when cooled in a deli container become a block of gelatinized broth. Think pozole, pho, tonkotsu, backbone stew and menudo. One of the bonuses of living near a vibrant Mexican community is weekend menudo. A soup requiring too much effort to make on weekdays is a treat best saved for Saturday and Sunday, sometimes solely Sunday. Continue reading
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
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.
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