A nifty trick I picked up at Looshaus, a hotel and restaurant in Kreuzberg, Lower Austria.
Pick evergreen “buds” (the small bundles of new needles that appear in late spring), simmer them in simple syrup (1:1 water to sugar), and transfer the whole mess into glass jars. The syrup takes on a fantastic, minty, pine flavour, which the Looshaus chef says gets even better with a few months storage. Strain the needles out before using the syrup.
Some ideas for usage:
- sauces for game meats (think: evergreen gastrique)
- ice cream
- in sparkling water (beer flavoured with young spruce needles was once common in Canada…)
- pork brines
The same process can be used for other common backyard plants, like dandelion … Continue reading.
If you are unfamiliar with this dish, let me introduce you by way of an aimless personal anecdote. If you are familiar with the dish, you can skip the next paragraph.
My father’s family lives near Ottawa, my mother’s near Sudbury. When I was little my family would sometimes drive between these two sets of relatives, following the Ottawa River valley, where there are lots of French communities, even on the Ontarian side of the border. Along the way we would always stop at a diner called Valois in the French town of Mattawa. For dessert they offered “sugar pie,” a tidy translation of tarte au sucre. While some versions of sugar pie are made with corn syrup or … Continue reading.
My mom has prepared a yule log cake every Christmas I can remember. I have no idea how this tradition came to my family, as it is extremely French (“bûche de noël”), and we are not.
The cake is a simple sponge. Whole eggs are beaten thoroughly, sugar is added, then a bit of water, and finally flour and cocoa are folded in. The batter is runny, and forms a shallow, uniform, fine-textured cake after baking.
The interior icing is a buttercream made by whipping room-temperature butter into Swiss meringue. Swiss meringue is a mixture of whipped egg whites and simple syrup cooked to soft ball stage.
The exterior frosting is icing sugar beaten into lard, which makes the colour … Continue reading.
Throughout late summer I found myself craving winter food. When I was filling my rumpot with fruit and canning my sauerkraut it was twenty degrees outside, but I was thinking of the dead of winter, and the rich, warming, comforting food I would enjoy.
Preservation of food has become central to my idea of local cuisine. I’ve always included meat in my concept of preserving for the impending winter, but I recently realized that this doesn’t make much sense.
Before refrigeration, fresh meat could only be kept in the winter. Of course you could kill a chicken in the summer and eat it for dinner, but what if you were to kill a cow and not have a … Continue reading.
When I was little, to me there were two essential facts about my grandparents: they lived on a farm, and they fought in “the war,” that is, WWII. Even though they never spoke to me about the war, it was central to my understanding of who they were. Possibly it was more important to my understanding of them then it was to their own. I’m sure that Grandpa thought of himself as a husband, father, grandfather, deacon, and train-enthusiast before a soldier. Yet, there was a collection of old service photographs on top of the piano, unmoved, for decades. The shrine-like placement of the pictures told me that those years affected my grandparents profoundly, and that there was some sadness … Continue reading.
But you know what the funniest thing about Europe is? It’s the little differences. I mean, they got the same shit over there that we got here, but it’s just there it’s a little different.
-Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction
I am part of a culinary exchange between NAIT and a school in Semmering, Austria. This past month I hosted an Austrian student named Dominik, whom a lucky few met at Valerie’s psychedelic taste-tripping party.
On Dominik’s last full day in Canada, we coerced him and two of his Austrian colleagues, Mike and Lena, to cook us a classic Austrian dinner.
First Course: Frittatensuppe – Pancake Soup
Domink requested that we make a good beef stock for the … Continue reading.
My dad grew up in eastern Ontario, in sugar shack country. The most common applications of maple syrup in his home were pouring over pumpkin pie and cornbread, or, if he was especially well-behaved, as a dip for white bread. These dishes win for most direct conveyance of syrup to mouth without drinking from the bottle, but I need something (slightly) more refined.
My Québécois dessert of choice is pouding chômeur. “Chômeur” means unemployed. Here it functions as a substantive, so this is “unemployed person’s pudding.” “Poor man’s pudding” is a more natural sounding translation. Whatever you call it, it’s a fantastic, unadulterated way to enjoy maple syrup.
A simple batter of creamed butter and sugar, eggs, … Continue reading.