We didn’t eat spicy food when I was growing up. Not at all.
I didn’t learn to appreciate spicy food until I was in my early twenties, and it was at an Italian restaurant, of all places. I patronized Mercato in Calgary throughout high school, then later I had the opportunity to work in their kitchen. They make food from all over Italy, but the owners are Calabrian, and there’s always a few pastas on the menu made by infusing olive oil with garlic and hot chili flakes. I remember the first time that I realized how effective a little heat can be. It wakes up your mouth, and it elongates the sensation of the dish, as your mouth is … Continue reading.
I come from a land of “refrigerator pickles”: cucumbers steeped in syrupy vinegar and spices, and stored in the fridge through the fall. There is another type of pickle called a lacto-fermented pickle. The idea of producing an acidic pickle with only brine was a revelation.
There are two ways to apply the salt and control the salt concentration: either dry salt can be added directly to the ingredient, or the ingredient can be submerged in a brine.
Direct Salting. This method is more common when the ingredient to be fermented has been sliced or chopped finely. Sauerkraut is the most familiar example in the west. For this method we typically add about 2% of the weight of the ingredient … Continue reading.
This post is about simple potatoes dumplings, served in an interesting potato broth.
Conversations about potato dishes usually focus on texture (the ideal French fry has a crisp exterior and fluffy interior, the ideal mashed potatoes are smooth but not gummy…) I love this broth because it makes you think about how potatoes taste. Potato skins are used to infuse a vegetable broth with potato flavour, without any of the thick starchiness we associate with potato soups.
Let’s start with the dumplings. The key to pillow-like potato dumplings is to have very little moisture in the potatoes. This way the milled potatoes will require less flour to form a dough, and there will be accordingly less gluten in the finished … Continue reading.
Rumtopf, literally “rum pot”, is a traditional German fruit preserve. As each type of fruit comes into season, it is macerated with sugar, placed in the pot, then covered with rum. Traditional rumtopfen are earthenware pots with heavy lids, but any wide-mouthed, non-reactive vessel can be used.
I use about one part sugar to two parts fruit, by weight, for each addition.
Once the last layer of fruit is added, the mixture steeps for a few months, and is traditionally eaten around Christmas.
The mixture goes through some profound transformations during aging. It loses the striking vibrancy seen above and turns a uniform burgundy. The liquor loses its clarity and becomes murky, with an exceptionally rich mouthfeel, verging on … Continue reading.
If you think that it’s weird to eat dandelion, or you find the bitter flavour unpalatable, you should try eating another common weed: lamb’s quarters. It is the perfect gateway weed, very approachable, with a texture and flavour quite similar to spinach. Lamb’s quarters are popping up everywhere, and now is the best time to pick them, when the plants have only a few leaves, for the following reasons:
- The young leaves are the most tender.
- The young leaves taste the best. Older leaves are a little more bland, with a wood flavour.
- Picking the leaves prevents the plant from going to seed. Once the plant goes to seed, it stops producing leaves, and it doesn’t taste as good.
… Continue reading.
For the last few years we’ve been curing our own Easter ham with more or less an entire leg of pork.
The primal cut of pork known as the leg is separated from the loin and belly by sawing through the middle of the pelvic bone. The section of the pelvis that is left on the loin is called the pin bone. The section on the leg is the haitch bone. To remove the haitch bone you have to follow its frustrating curves with your knife until you expose the ball joint where the leg meets the pelvis. Cut through this joint.
Next the skin is removed in one large sheet.
What remains of the leg typically weighs about 15 … Continue reading.
This was the first year that I had a hand in preparing the Thanksgiving turkey. Subsequently it was also the first time that I came in contact with the infamous giblets: the neck, heart, liver, and gizzard of the turkey, stored together in a bag in the cavity of the bird.
First things first: I needed to know what I was dealing with. I was familiar with the general shape and function of the first three items on that list. The gizzard, however, I embarrassingly thought was the flap of skin hanging between a turkey’s beak and neck. Turns out this is the wattle, “an organ of sexual dimorphism” (Wikipedia), whatever that means. The gizzard is actually a stomach with … Continue reading.