French Fries

Homemade French fries

It’s been something of a personal crusade of mine to get more people deep-frying at home (see this post, and this class).  Even though I consider French fries the single most important fried food in western cooking, I rarely make them at home.  The main reason is that when working with a standard pot it takes several batches to fry enough potatoes to feed my family.  While I don’t mind frying half a chicken and putting it in the oven while the second half is fried, the six batches required for fries is a bit tedious. With that said, when I’m feeling ambitious this is how I make fries at home.

What potatoes to use.  While you can … Continue reading.

Kosher Pickles

I had heard of kosher pickles many, many times in my life, but always assumed that they were just pickles that were, well, kosher, as in approved for consumption in Jewish dietary law. Turns out that is not the case, and kosher pickles are actually a particular style of pickle, one that is naturally fermented like those described in this post on lacto-pickles. If you are familiar with sauerkraut you are familiar with lactic acid fermentation. Anyways kosher pickles are the real-deal accompaniment to deli sandwiches like smoked meat or pastrami.

If you grew up on Bick’s, kosher pickles will seem strange. They have no sugar, in fact no sweetness at all besides whatever natural sweetness might … Continue reading.

Apple Johnny

Apple johnny: cake baked in apple sauce.

Apple Johnny is a cake from eastern Canada that is baked in apple sauce. This is the third traditional cake from that region I’ve come across that is baked in a sauce or syrup.  I think that’s enough to classify this as a family of cakes.  I am going to call them drop cakes, because you make a batter and drop it into some manner of delicious sauce or liquid.  Not a traditional term by any means but there it is.

Anyways, the most famous drop cake is pouding chômeur, which is a traditional Quebecois cake baked in maple syrup.  When I mentioned this to a friend who grew up in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, she said that they … Continue reading.

Subsistence Meatballs

A bowl of subsistence meatballs!

There is surely a more flattering name for these, but they definitely need to be distinguished from normal meatballs like these ones. There is a long tradition of naming dishes that are especially for “hard times”, but in my grandmother’s cookbook those names are cute and subtle (Make-Do cake, for instance, or WWI cake, which alludes to rationing). For now I’m rolling with Subsistence Meatballs.

Anyways, at the heart of this recipe is a trick for making sure your meat-supply stretches as far as possible. My original recipe is below, but the general technique I learned from a chef in Bologna. The gist is that meat is carefully taken from the bones that have been used to make stock, … Continue reading.

Hot Takes on Kombucha

Hot Take #1: You don’t need a SCOBY to make kombucha.

Okay I’ll clarify right off the bat: if by “SCOBY” we simply mean “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”, then yes, of course you need a SCOBY to make kombucha. If by “SCOBY” we mean the infamous, gelatinous raft that floats on top of the liquid, then no, you emphatically do not need a SCOBY to make kombucha.

As with “mother of vinegar”, the term SCOBY is confusing. In both vinegar and kombucha production, the micro-organisms at work form a raft that floats on the surface of the base liquid that is being fermented. In vinegar production most online sources call this raft the “mother of vinegar”, and in … Continue reading.

Hawaiian Poke

Poke and seaweed salad from Suisan Fish Market in Hilo, Hawaii.

The first time I ate poke was one of the most blissful moments of my entire life.  It was at a nondescript concession on the highway just south of Captain Cook, on the big island.  We ordered at a window.  The menu board actually said “Ahi Special”, not poke.   We sat on plastic chairs on a covered patio that looked onto the ocean, and I ate my sticky white rice, fresh avocado, and marinated tuna.  That was a truly special moment, but we had many other great poke experiences later that trip, notably at Da Poke Shack in Kona and the Suisan Fish Market in Hilo.  Marinated fish and rice.  So simple.  So good.  I have a special room in … Continue reading.

Schnitzel

Pork schnitzel with parsley potatoes, cranberry, and lemon.

Subtitle: The Subtle Art of Hitting Meat with a Hammer

Long before I knew anything about European cuisine, I was familiar with the term Wiener Schnitzel.  Well, sort of.  My mom baked us frozen “Wiener schnitzel” from M & M Meat Shop every once in a while.  But I didn’t know that Wiener means “from Wien”, or that Wien is the actual name of the city English-speakers call Vienna.  I also didn’t know that “schnitzel” is related to the word schnitte, which means “slice.”  Wiener Schnitzel is a piece of veal, traditionally from the leg, pounded out with a mallet, breaded, and fried.

I love veal, but I almost never have it in my house.  It’s hard to come … Continue reading.

Sour Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Pork ribs glazed with sour cherry barbecue sauce.

Sour cherries, being sour, are best cooked with sugar, so their most obvious applications are pies, pastries, compotes, and the like.  This is a problem because sour cherry trees are prolific, and a man can only eat so much pie.  Over the years we have struck upon other winning preparations for the efficient preservation and consumption of sour cherries, notably drinks like rum pot and cherry liqueur.  But to really showcase the fruit’s versatility we’ve been eager for ways to use them in savoury meat dishes.  Enter sour cherry barbecue sauce.

For most of my grown-up life my house barbecue sauce has been the Carolina-style recipe in Ruhlman and Polcyn’s Charcuterie.  It is what I call a “pantry … Continue reading.

Homemade Frankfurters

Homemade frankfurters with potato salad and mustard.

In Vienna these links are called Frankfurter Würstl, named for the city Frankfurt am Main in Germany. In most of the rest of the world (including Frankfurt) they are called Wieners, which means “Viennese.” Go figure. Whatever you call them they are the ancestor of the North American hot dog.

The old world version is usually 100% pork in delicate lamb casings, lightly smoked. North American hot dogs can be pork, beef, or a combination of the two, usually in synthetic casings.

I link mine extra long, so they barely fit on a dinner plate.

To emulate the very fine texture of the commercial varieties I grind twice through a 3/16″ plate, and then do a lengthy mixing phase, roughly … Continue reading.

Three Meals in Piemonte

Photo by Lisa Zieminek

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.[1]  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.”[2]

In other words you can’t look at one city or region and say unequivocally, … Continue reading.

The personal website of Edmonton chef Allan Suddaby