The best time to plant a plum tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.
-“Chinese proverb” (probably not though…)
We have two Japanese plum trees in our yard. The cultivar names are confusingly but unmistakably Slavic: Ivanovka and Ptitsin #3. The trees were purchased as cuttings from the University of Saskatchewan, but the varieties were first developed at the Morden Research Station in Manitoba and first released in 1939. We chose these specific varieties for their cold-heartiness, fruit quality, and pollination requirements.
For most of our other fruit trees we didn’t have to give much thought to pollination. Our sour cherries, for instance, are all self-pollinating. And while apples must … Continue reading.
I’ve mentioned many times in many different places that Michael Ruhlman’s book Ratio changed my life. The ratio given for bread in that book is 5:3 flour to water, which represents a hydration rate of 60%.
It’s not a huge change, but I’ve started using 3:2 (67% hydration) for many of my workhorse bread recipes, notably pizza dough (which I’ve already posted here), pita dough (which I hope to post shortly), and a standby I’m calling pan bread. I find that this ratio, when kneaded properly, makes super-tacky but workable dough that ultimately yields a much better crumb.
In the spirit of Ratio, I love to tailor the flavours in this pan bread to fit how it will … Continue reading.
Sausage gravy ladled over biscuits is a classic comfort dish of the American south. While you can certainly use fresh, raw sausage in the preparation, it is also a good trick up your sleeve to deal with cooked sausages leftover from a brunch or barbecue.
Leftover sausages are often dry and a touch mealy. Just as you might flake leftover fish and mix it with mayonnaise, or shred leftover roast beef and heat it in barbecue sauce, coating leftover sausages in gravy reintroduces moisture.
One detail: to develop depth of flavour it’s a good idea to brown the crumbled sausage so that a good fond develops in the bottom of the pan. Once the butter and onions are added, use … Continue reading.
I wanted to develop a bread that I would feel good about eating every morning. For me that means using only whole wheat flour, no white flour at all, and lots of added whole grains and seeds. The result was this brown bread recipe.
This recipe is adapted from the Whole-Wheat Bread recipe in one of my favourite books on bread, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Full disclosure: it is a bit of an ordeal. To coax flavour from the whole wheat flour and make a moist, tender loaf, this recipe employs a soaker and a poolish to create a rather wet, sticky dough that can be difficult to work with and requires very long fermentation and proofing times. It … Continue reading.
This is definitely the most asked-about sausage style in my sausage-making classes. It is a hugely popular style in Alberta thanks to producers like Stawnichy’s. It goes by a confusing plethora of names – ham sausage, Ukrainian sausage, Mundare sausage, and for many people this is simply “kielbasa” even though that is a much, much broader family. So to clarify, the sausage I’m talking about in this post has the following characteristics:
the interior is the rosy colour of ham (ie. it contains curing salt)
the interior of the sausage is typically studded with larger chunks of ham-like lean pork
the sausage is smoked and can be served hot or cold
There once was a woman who organized Regency Era events in Edmonton, featuring period-appropriate music, clothing, dancing, and food. The Regency Era is an obscure period of time to most North Americans, so allow me to illuminate. It preceded the Victorian Era in Great Britain. It is so-called because the ruler of England was the Prince Regent, George. His father George III was technically king, but deemed unfit to rule on account of mental illness. This was the period in which Jane Austen lived, and for you nerdy food historians, it is also the era of Carême and the dawn of the modern culinary tradition. For a while Carême was actually the personal chef of the Prince Regent.
I make absolutely no claim to the authenticity of this chorizo sausage recipe. It contains the flavours I use when making my gringo version of Mexican food, namely cumin, chili, garlic, and oregano.
While I’m sure it would be tasty on a bun, I usually cook with this sausage un-cased or loose. It’s great in tacos and quesadillas, but I absolutely love applications where the beautiful, spicy, vibrant red fat can be used. For instance if you fry the loose chorizo in a pan, then cook onions and peppers in the fat that is released, then make a frittata, as pictured at left.
Nürnberger Rost-bratwurst: the little sausages with the big name. “Nürnberger” means from Nuremburg. “Rost” means roasted, as they are usually grilled over an open fire (often charred quite a bit actually). And “Bratwurst” of course is a style of fresh sausage.
Their most obvious trait is their diminutive size: they are usually slender and about three inches long. For this reason one typically consumes many in one sitting. Actually in Nürnberg they are always served in multiples of three, say, three of them on a bun (called Drei im Weggla) or six on a plate, with mustard and sauerkraut.
Exact recipes vary widely, but Nürnberger Rostbratwurst are flavoured with typical Bavarian sausage spices like mace, marjoram, white pepper, and lemon … Continue reading.
For a few years I’ve been making pastrami simply by making this corned beef, then after the cure is finished, coating the meat with crushed coriander and black pepper, then hot-smoking to temperature. This is a method that has served me well, but I’ve been reading quite a bit about the Jewish delis of New York, most notably David Sax’s book Save the Deli. In his description of how the pastrami is made at Katz’s, there were two surprises to me.
First, he says that they don’t actually use brisket, but “navel”. This is definitely not part of standard Canadian meat-cutting nomenclature, but it’s described as being adjacent to the brisket, which made me wonder if it … Continue reading.
I have come to realize that I am quite resistant to new ideas. For me, new ideas are anything that I didn’t grow up with or study in school. For years I scoffed at modernist techniques and equipment like immersion circulators, xanthan gum, and anti-griddles. (Actually I’m still not convinced of the usefulness of that last one). I was even more vehement in my opposition to hippie fads like veganism, raw food, and more recently, kombucha.