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.
In retrospect it is crazy that I didn’t look into kombucha earlier. For a couple summers I sold homemade raw apple cider vinegar at the 124th Street Grand Market. To my surprise, about 90% of the people who bought vinegar from me were … Continue reading.
Calabrese means ‘from Calabria’, which is a province in southern Italy. The foundational flavours of Calabrese cuisine are olive oil, garlic, chili, and fennel seed. My understanding is that many of the Italians in Edmonton have roots in Calabria. So here, as in many other parts of North America with lots of southern Italian immigrants, this flavour profile has simply become “Italian”. Like if you go to the Italian market and something is labelled “Spicy Italian Sausage” you can bet that it contains garlic, chili, and fennel. Even though this particular combination isn’t common in most of Italy.
Anyways. This is my attempt to replicate one of the Calabrese sausages made at Mercato, in Calgary, where I worked over the … Continue reading.
Borscht: all of the vegetables, but mostly beets, crammed into possibly the most vibrant soup in western cooking. In central Alberta borscht is second only to perogy’s as the culinary torch of Ukrainian heritage.
I distinctly remember the first time I saw borscht. It was many, many years before I came to Alberta, living as a young boy in Ontario. I family friend made it and I can’t describe how strange it was to me. The only purple items I’d seen for human consumption was grape juice. It now seems not just acceptable but strikingly beautiful and such a special ode to the root cellar.
I think your borscht should be tailored to the exact veggies you have on … Continue reading.
A really great sausage is not as common as you might think.
I have a vested interest in saying this because I’m in the sausage-making business, but it’s the truth. A lot of the sausages that I eat have dry, mealy, sometimes even crumbly textures.
The primary goal of my sausage-making classes is to teach people that these are not matters of personal taste, but objective flaws in a sausage, plain and simple. A sausage should have the well-bound fat content that makes it decadently moist in your mouth. If there is any sense of abrasion on your tongue from dry, crumbly meat, the sausage was not properly made.
I’ve identified what I believe are the three most common roots … Continue reading.
Devilled eggs: no dish so readily conjures summers on the back deck, picnics, barbecues, church basements, impromptu patio gatherings…
As discussed in my poetically titled Simmering Eggs in their Shell post, old eggs are the only eggs that will peel easily. They are ideal for devilled eggs.
My personal recipe for devilled eggs follows, a little more complex than the standard mustard, paprika, and white vinegar. Mighty tasty with a beer or cider.
- 6 large eggs – preferably eggs that have been in your fridge for a couple weeks
- water for boiling those eggs
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tsp hot mustard
- 2 tsp sweet paprika
- 1/2 tsp celery salt
- 1/4 tsp smoked hot paprika
- 1/4 tsp black
… Continue reading.
Kim chi is an ace up the sleeve, delivering instant, intense flavour to bland ingredients like rice, flour, and eggs. And unlike most condiments that pack that kind of punch – things like hot sauce or fish sauce – kim chi is quite wholesome.
Kim chi fascinates me because it is simultaneously very similar to and wildly different from a preparation that I am much more familiar with: sauerkraut. Both are ostensibly fermented cabbage, but where sauerkraut is thinly sliced and acidic, with an almost floral, yeasty aroma, kim chi is chunky, salty, often burn-your-face-off spicy, with something of a fishy aroma. Sometimes, amazingly, it is also effervescent.
Sauerkraut is made with European-type cabbages like savoy. The relatively low … Continue reading.
We often describe cocktails as “mixed drinks”. In this post we will discuss the two main ways we mix drinks -stirring, and shaking – and the equipment required for each.
Before diving in, two important points on consistency: the dry build, and accurate measures.
- Whether shaking or stirring, best practice is to “dry build” your drink, that is, combine all of the liquid ingredients together before adding any ice.
- This is a technique from professional bars where consistency is paramount. The idea is that you want total control over the time that your drink spends on ice, so that you control the dilution and the final concentration of the drink.
- If you were to put ice in the
… Continue reading.
I have Greek food on the brain. The current infatuation has many diverse origins. For starters this summer is the ten year anniversary of an epic trip through southern Greece, and I have been reading old food notes from the journey. Also I’ll be doing a class on Greek mezze for Metro Continuing Education this fall. With all this in mind last week I made a Greek lamb sausage.
In 2008 I spent five weeks in Greece, eating in tavernas two or three times a day. I don’t think I ever had a sausage like this. In other words this sausage is not traditional, but it is very much inspired by Greek loukaniko, a pork sausage flavoured with orange … Continue reading.
This is my family’s pizza dough recipe. We make pizza almost weekly, so it is a workhorse recipe, one of the most important in our kitchen.
People familiar with our neighbourhood have asked why we make our own pizza when we live literally one block from a pizzeria. The answer is that it’s easy and good and fun and cheap. The scaling and mixing of the dough take less than ten minutes. All together the ingredients for our homemade pizza cost under $5 per 12″ pie, something that we pay $18 plus tip for down the street.
I feel obligated to mention that our recipe is adapted from the little booklet that came with our KitchenAid stand mixer. I resent … Continue reading.
One of my favourite Italian desserts is simple, elegant, and endlessly adaptable: cookies and sweet wine. In Italy I’ve seen this dish served with every manner of cookie, from amaretti to lady fingers to biscotti, and sweet wines as various as Vin Santo, Recioto, and Pantelleria. You could easily take the dish outside the realm of Italian cuisine and try something like ginger snaps and sweet applejack. A particularly memorable experience was being served s-shaped Buranelli cookies with a glass of sweet Zibbibo in a small restaurant in Venice on a wet, chilly September afternoon.
Buranelli are from the Venetian island of Burano. The dough is a bit like shortbread (more sweet and less buttery than my preferred Scottish-style … Continue reading.