I’ve always felt that whether you’re in Edmonton or Manhattan or Red Deer there will be good food and there will be bad food. No matter where I’ve travelled I’ve had great meals and abhorrent meals, often in the same day.
Of course, I haven’t travelled everywhere, but this idea has been corroborated by several writers, even regarding Paris. Jeffrey Steingarten acknowledges that most baguettes, even in Paris, are shit. George Orwell went so far as to say that his time in Paris “destroyed one of my illusions, namely, the idea that Frenchmen know good food when they see it.”
In other words you can’t look at one city or region and say unequivocally, … Continue reading.
Pepperoni sticks are a great introduction to air-drying cured meat at home. The process is very quick and very forgiving: even if you don’t have a whiz-bang curing chamber with perfect temperature and humidity control, you can probably make these pepperoni sticks at home and be very pleased with the result. And if for some reason you are worried that the whole process has gone sideways, just hot-smoke them or cook them and they will still be delicious. This is one of the recipes we make in my More Charcuterie at Home class, which is all about curing and air-drying meats.
These are meant to emulate the pepperoni sticks you get at gas station convenience stores. The recipe was developed … Continue reading.
My food heroes are those who can generalize food concepts for me. I’ve mentioned Ruhlman’s book Ratio about a hundred times on this site. Some other examples. I love the flavour of preserved lemons and I’ve made them a few times, but then I saw Mojojo Pickles makes preserved lime. This completely changed how I saw my preserved lemon recipe. Instead of one recipe that can preserve one ingredient, I now see it as a generalized process for preserving citrus. Or Kevin recognizing that blanching is not just for endives, but a great agricultural technique to use on other bitter greens like our local dandelions. This type of thinking drives so much of modern food, whether it’s David Chang … Continue reading.
I did not grow up eating matzo ball soup; it was completely unknown to me and my family. In fact it was so foreign that the first several times I heard mention of it I assumed it was “mozza ball soup”, which I guess would be some kind of Italian-American soup containing mozzarella cheese. This is emphatically not the case.
Matzo balls are a kind of dumpling. Matzo ball soup is usually a chicken soup with matzo balls in it.
It turns out this classic Jewish preparation is much more familiar to me than I ever would have suspected. While the most common term in North America is matzo ball, the true Yiddish word for the dumpling … Continue reading.
Schmaltz is the Yiddish word for rendered fat, or grease. It is taken from the German Schmalz. I wrote about how to render pork fat here, and the two preparations Grammelschmalz and Schmalzfleisch. While schmaltz can technically refer to rendered fat from any animal, obviously in the context of Jewish cooking we aren’t talking about pork fat. While goose fat was common in Europe, the Jewish emigrants arriving in North America found chicken fat much more readily available, and this remains the default schmaltz in Jewish communities in the new world.
There is quite a different ratio of fat to lean in a chicken than a hog. It is easy to cut away large slabs … Continue reading.
Originally published May 31, 2010! Holy smokes. Re-published today to include more info and some nicer photos.
Pancetta is Italian for “little belly.” The term refers to pork belly that has been cured and at least partly air-dried. Unlike North American bacon it is usually not smoked. It is a very important ingredient and foundational flavour in many Italian cuisines.
While North American bacon tends to use a simple salt and sugar cure, Italian pancetta is often redolent with flavours like juniper, nutmeg, and herbs.
Plus it is made in three distinct shapes. Pancetta tesa is a flat slab of pork belly, like bacon. Pancetta arrotolata has the belly rolled over the long axis, giving the sliced meat … Continue reading.
One time I was at my parents’ house on Boxing Day, and I used their Christmas leftovers to make a turkey pot pie. I shredded the turkey leg meat, combined it with mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, and gravy, then baked the mixture in a pie crust.
When we sat down for supper my dad said that his mom used to make “pot pie”, but that it wasn’t a pie.
“A pot pie that wasn’t a pie? What was it then?”
He thought for quite a while before saying, “It was chicken with dumplings.” He couldn’t tell me much more, except that the dumplings were roundish.
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.
The personal website of Edmonton chef Allan Suddaby