Usually I don’t post about something til I’m confident I have a best practice down pat. I have to say that there’s one important point in my fried chicken technique that I am waffling on: I’m torn between the winning flavour of buttermilk-brined chicken, and the superior texture of dry-rubbed chicken.
The Chicken. Frying chicken is a bit of a balancing act: you want the crust to develop the perfect, deep golden brown at the very instant the meat reaches the proper temperature. If you were to take an entire leg from a large chicken and deep fry it, the exterior would get much too dark by the time the meat cooked through.
For this reason I like … Continue reading.
When I was little we called these savoury pastries “scones,” our pronunciation rhyming with the word “owns”, but they are much more like American biscuits than British scones (the pronunciation of which rhymes with “lawns”).
For the sake of clarity I’ve taken to calling them biscuits. Whatever you call them, they are flaky quick breads made with butter, milk, and flour. A little salt and a little baking powder. That’s it.
My mom used to make a ham and cheese biscuit. She made her dough with milk soured with vinegar (buttermilk would have been used when she was growing up, but we never had this in our fridge). The dough was rolled into a sheet, covered with slices of ham … Continue reading.
Last night was Pancake Tuesday, the appropriately subdued Canadian version of Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday.
I want to tell you about my pancakes.
Pancake styles occupy one point on a continuum between slack batters and stiff batters. Slack, or high-liquid, batters make thin, soft, limp pancakes the size of dinner plates. Stiff, or low-liquid, batters, yield thicker, cakey pancakes the size of tea saucers or smaller. For home-cooking I favour the stiff variety, making a batter that is barely, barely pourable. The resulting cakes are more dense, but still soft and moist. They develop a delicate, crisp exterior during frying, something that the slack batters can’t do because of their high liquid content.
In the … Continue reading.
Crème fraîche is similar to sour cream. In fact, they are made by the same process: inoculating dairy with a bacterial culture that converts lactose to lactic acid, which in turn coagulates the proteins in the dairy and thickens the mixture.
The main difference between the two products is that crème fraîche is cultured whole cream (about 30% milk fat) while sour cream is made from leaner dairy products (usually about 15% fat). The added fat in crème fraîche gives it two advantages over sour cream. First, it has a more luxurious texture. Second, the fat tempers the acidity, making for a subtler and more rounded flavour.
Making Crème Fraîche at Home
Fresh dairy naturally contains the bacteria that would, … Continue reading.
I think as children most of us were taken to historical sites like Fort Edmonton to learn how the settlers made wool and horseshoes and butter. Even so, I’ll start at the beginning.
You make butter by agitating cream.
It works like this. The fat in cream is in tiny globs, each covered with a membrane that prevents the fat globs from joining together. When you agitate cream, you break these coverings, releasing the fat globs, which all rush out to join their fatty brethren and form a solid mass of butter.
To commence butter-production, fill your container half way with heavy cream. Add a pinch of salt, secure the lid, and start shaking. You don’t have to strain yourself, … Continue reading.