Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmakkuh Dinner

Today I'm heading over to my sister's place in Brooklyn for our annual Christmakkuh hot pot dinner, a combination of our joined families' cultures: Christmas, Hanukkah, and Chinese cuisine. In preparation, I put together this graphic of a Christmas tree using a Chinese food menu and chopsticks as a Star of David at the top. I'm soooooo clever.

Jewish-Chinese Christmas Tree
(click to enlarge)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nutter Butters at Home

These cookies are absurd. Imagine a Nutter Butter, but made fresh and probably 10 times worse for your health.

peanut butter cookie sandwiches

Food52 has given me no end of ideas for cooking and when the picture of these cookies arrived in my inbox, I HAD TO HAVE THEM. And now I really want to give them away because they're so dang rich. Delicious, but one is enough. Each sandwich is two peanut butter cookies stuffed with a peanut butter and chocolate chip buttercream frosting. All made from scratch so I had the tearful opportunity of mixing all these heart-healthy ingredients. Seriously, any takers?

TIP: If you decide to make these cookies, stick to the size suggestion. They really are that rich and the miniature size is appropriate.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Crispy Pork Belly + Sweet Adobo

Here's a dish that came together way too easily because everything was incidentally pre-prepared. The pork belly was roasted last week and these were two strips I hadn't used. The adobo sauce was saved from some chicken adobo I also made last week and reduced to concentrate the flavors. And this past weekend, I had made a drunken meal at about 3am and two of the carrots that I cleaned and peeled didn't make it into the food.

crispy pork belly with a reduced Filipino adobo sauce

Put this all together with some finely chopped onions and we have an accidentally luxurious and decadent meal in less than half an hour. Which I find kinda silly, because pork belly is not often a luxurious food in Chinese cuisine.

All I did was sweat some onions with the carrots and some garlic in a small saucepan. Add the reduced adobo sauce with a spoonful of sugar and a splash of dry sherry. Low simmer to soften the carrots and further reduce the sauce. Cut the pork belly into cubes and brown-crisp on all sides. Serve together on steamed rice.

The most interesting part of this was that the altered, re-reduced adobo sauce had a hint of hoison flavor.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Shitake You Not

These are mine, betches! I love the gentle earthiness of fresh shitake mushrooms.

garlic sauteed sugar snap peas, fresh shitake mushrooms and shallots

Monday, September 5, 2011

Plum Tart

This came out exceedingly well. Instead of using the food processor (which I lurv dearly) to make the pastry dough, I went for a manual approach with a pastry cutter. It was a pain and I wasn't entirely sure I was getting the butter down to the right grain size, but what do you know? IT WORKED. It worked better than any other crust I've made in the past, and I've made many. Flour, butter, sugar, salt, ice water and that was it. Perfectly flaky. I'll have to try this out a second and third time to confirm, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying the fruit of my labor.

plum tart, pre-oven

I had some leftover Fig Almond Spread in the fridge from a wine and cheese thing a few months ago. Expensive, but it had been sitting there for a while so I figured that I'd spread the stuff on the bottom of the tart. Worked like a charm. Arranged thin slices of dinosaur and black plums on top and then sprinkled a healthy dose of brown sugar above. Done.

plum tart, shitty photo


plum tart, better photo

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pasta With Zucchini and Chicken Garnish

I often get blown away by what a meal costs in a restaurant, particularly if it's something easy to put together with cheap ingredients. This meal at home took 20 minutes to prepare and the cost per serving is somewhere less than a dollar. Zucchini squash is deliciously in season and dirt cheap. Pasta, red onion, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper... nothing exotic, but the ensemble is mighty tasty. And I had some leftover chicken salad in the fridge so I sprinkled some of that on top. I love a little irony.

pasta with zucchini, chicken garnish

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Leftover Pork Butt Tacos

These tacos made from leftovers have a remarkable semblance to the tacos I originally made with the roasted pork butt on Saturday. Fresh corn is missing and the chopped onion got mixed in with the meat when packing it away, so those got cooked in the reheating. The turmeric pickled zucchini I made is the same. Sriracha is an addition. All leftovers are delicious when you know what to do with them...

pork shoulder tacos with house-pickled turmeric zucchini, sriracha

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Just Popped My Ice Cream Cherry

For years I've been putting off making ice cream because I don't have an ice cream machine. I finally sat down and did some research and found a way to do it manually. Actually, it's a brilliant technique that involves no churning except at the very end, and with a food processor! By reducing the water content of the solution and increasing the rate of chilling, there's absolutely no hassle while it's in the freezer. Minimal ice crystals form. Set it and forget it. Will post on this some more later. For now, I'm just enjoying some of the best vanilla ice cream I've ever had, topped with some macerated cherries. Dense, smooth, creamy...

homemade vanillla ice cream with macerated cherries

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sopressata and Something Else

Spent the weekend up at a friend's house on Lake Lanier. Each of us brought food for one of the meals. I roasted a boston butt (how predictable) for some tacos with red onion and some homemade turmeric pickled zucchini. Connie brought some fresh cut sweet corn that went absolutely wonderfully with the tacos. They actually didn't photograph well in the evening, but here's a pic of the sandwich spread David brought for lunch. Ciabatta, sopressata and all sorts or other tasty things.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Poutine Part Deux (ou trois)

Where there's a will, there's a way. It's not on the menu at Ormsby's (it wasn't at Cypress, either), but I put together an ad hoc version. They've got a selection of sauces to dip fries into, so I chose the pot roast gravy, the housemade Cheese Wiz and the server got me a side of mozzarella, too. I should've ordered the sausage, but by the time I realized that, the order was already in.

ad hoc poutine at Ormsby's

We were on a roll by that point, having drank at Abbatoir's 2yr anniversary party (free booze and food) and then more drinks at Ormsby's. Poutine, however unorthodox, was perfect. Is Leon's the only place in the city that has poutine?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Quick Pickled Carrots

I hate the look of grated carrots, whether with a hand grater or a food processor. They look sloppy. Furthermore, I feel like you lose a lot of the crunch. Whatever. I'm personally a fan of hand cutting them, and depending on the purpose, I'll slice them very finely. Like for my quick pickled carrots. 3:1, sugar to salt. 30 minutes.

quick pickled carrots

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Rice Bowl Saga Continues

I have a bunch of ground pork and napa cabbage left over from the dumplings I made yesterday. I also had a bunch of jellied sauce left over from this chicken with fermented black beans and basil I had made last week for a departing friend. Browning the pork with some onions and deglazing with that chicken sauce and some dry sherry turned out to be fabulous over some rice. For the napa, I toasted up the usual ginger/garlic/scallions on the pan, but this time I added some small dried shrimp (it's a Chinese thing) before adding the vegetables. Tossed it around, added a little water and covered it to pan-steam. And that's an early lunch.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

CleaverFever Returns

Years back, I had created a food blog called CleaverFever, much in the same vein as FelixFood. It was a little less focused and in my attempt to drive hits, I posted all sorts of random crap on a daily basis. I eventually forgot about it because the blogging became tedious. FelixFood, on the other hand, has so far worked for me because I'm not seeking hits so much as just recording what I'm doing in the kitchen with the hopes that it will become useful in the future.

CleaverFever is returning, though. This time around, I'm hoping to curate something much more like a magazine with editorials and recipes. And merchandise, of course. Girl's gotta eat!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Linguini + Caramelized Tomato Oil

For the past few days I've been caramelizing tomatoes to bring over to friends' dinner parties. The process is simple, but takes a while. Fill an oven-safe dish with small, ripe summer tomatoes (campari, cherry, etc..). Add red wine vinegar and olive oil at a 1:6 ratio to at least half the overall height of the tomatoes. Add a spoonful of brown sugar (maybe half the amount of the vinegar? I didn't measure). Fresh thyme, salt and pepper round it out. Place in the oven for at least two hours at 275F.

linguini with caramelized tomato oil

The resulting globes of caramelized fruit collapse with the slightest amount of pressure, oozing sweet juices and eliciting all sorts of pleasurable noises and "omg summer." They went great on homemade pizza on Thursday. On Friday I reused the caramelizing liquid with more tomatoes to serve with steak (amazing) and that further intensified the flavors.

In my typical fashion, I reserved those liquids for another purpose and in my hungover state today, that purpose was linguini. Browned some garlic in butter, added the caramelizing liquid and reduced it to half. Tossed it with hot linguini pasta and chopped parsley. It was a little on the sweet side, so I added more salt and pepper, but my god did it taste amazing.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

FAIL: Cookies

I hate baking. I feel like there's this little gnome hiding in the oven with a crowbar, waiting for me to close that door so he can bash my cookies and pastries in. Ugh. Anywho, I tried out Merrill's recipe for Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. I was short half cup of the rolled oats and I was also out of both aluminum foil and parchment paper. What's a girl to do? Just stick it in! And this was the mess that resulted. Still tasted good.

crispy oatmeal chocolate chip cookie fail

Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan)

Chinese broccoli is one of those contradictions I will never understand about Chinese food. So much Chinese food is prepared in such a way so that it's easy to eat with chopsticks, a spoon or a combination of chopsticks and rice bowl. Meats and vegetables tend to be cut into small pieces. I've been scolded many times in my childhood for using my fingers to touch anything at the dinner table. It's "barbaric." That didn't last long.

garlic sauteed chinese broccoli and summer squash

The thing with Chinese broccoli is that the stalks are generally prepared whole. That means if you're using chopsticks, you have to either stuff the whole thing in your mouth like some greedy whore or strategically bite pieces off, occasionally getting caught on a piece of the fibrous skin. It's silly.

chinese broccoli, branches removed, stems peeled

But thank goodness for my parents. They never order it in restaurants and when my mom prepares it at home, she does us all a favor and cuts it into manageable pieces. She even peels the stems so that you get the crunch without the fibrous skin, much like some folks peel asparagus.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Egg Salad, Tomato, Watercress

Had a sudden craving for egg salad: 6 hard boiled eggs, 3 tbsp mayo, 1 tsp madras curry powder, 1 tbsp finely chopped celery, 1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro, salt, pepper (and some of my old quick pickled carrots, finely chopped). Ripe summer tomato, watercress, toasted sourdough.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Crackers in the South

I made crackers from scratch! Now to get the seasonings right and figure out some spreads.

pate and homemade crackers

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bitter Melon + Pork + Fermented Black Beans

Bitter melon (bitter gourd) isn't one of those ethnic foods I see crossing over into the American mainstream. It's not only bitter, it's also ugly. The green surface is described as "undulating and warty." We're more likely to see bitter melon featured as a television cook-off challenge than a serious component of a meal.

bitter melon

But I grew up eating the stuff. My parents would hail the medicinal qualities of the melon and insist that we eat at least five pieces before leaving the dinner table. From reading the Wikipedia article, you would think that it was a drug and not something to be enjoyed. I did hate it as a kid, but over time the aromatic combination of the pork and fermented black beans began to feel natural, almost heightened, with the bitterness of the bitter melon. One extreme brought out another.

fermented black beans, minced ginger, minced garlic

Even so, the bitterness needs to be alleviated somewhat. The typical method is to salt the melon slices to draw out the water and some of the bitterness. Adding sugar to the salt will help as well. When I first began to prepare bitter melon on my own, I would add a lot of sugar, but I've found myself adding less and less with each preparation. Chinese fermented black beans (actually soy beans that have been salted and fermented), minced ginger and minced garlic provide the stage for the meat and melon.

bitter melon with pork in fermented black bean sauce
Every time I see bitter melon at the Dekalb Farmer's Market, I want to buy some, but it takes a special craving to legitimize the purchase without the risk of forgetting them in the fridge. That craving happens maybe once a year, haha.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cantaloupe Caipirinha

Not a caipirinha by any means, but I had cachaça and a very ripe cantaloupe laying around. Add some limes and crushed ice and it's a party. By myself :(

Cantaloupe Caipirinha

Pureed half a cantaloupe in the blender and strained it for the juice. I didn't need very much sugar at all because the cantaloupe was so ripe, so rather than muddle limes, I just squeezed them into a glass. I then added 2oz of cachaça, some ice and topped it off with the fresh squeezed cantaloupe juice. Stirred that baby and it was ready.

Actually, it needed some more cachaça to cut the sweetness but that's just me.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pork Chops avec Fish Sauce (ew)

Fish sauce is some scary shit. My family never cooked with it at home, but the vast number of Vietnamese restaurants in Atlanta has really opened my eyes up to the foul, but tasty stuff.

caramelized pork chop platter!

I had been looking for an excuse to use the bottle in my pantry when I came across this recipe for Caramelized Pork Bánh Mì at Food52. Didn't have any baguettes, mayo or pate on hand, so I decided to just use the marinade for some pork chops. Epic idea! I ended up broiling the pork instead of pan frying with the hopes of minimizing the smoke. Worked, but the fish sauce still stank.

fresh kirby cucumbers from today's Midtown Market

Topped off the platter with some quick pickled carrots and kirby cucumbers and I was good to go! I make a lot of meals similar to this, but the marinade for the pork made this one really unique and delicious. Definitely a keeper.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

FAIL: Poached Snapper

It looks better than it tastes. How many times have you heard that?

rice bowl with dry sherry/soy poached snapper, ginger scallion oil, sauteed summer squash

I'm really not so well versed in preparing fish, so it's going to take a few tries failing before I feel comfortable serving it to friends. Poaching just seems like that really easy, straightforward way of preparing a fish fillet, but when you're like me and you ignore half the recipes you read, something's bound to go wrong. My poaching liquid was composed of soy/dry sherry/water at a ratio of about 1/1/2. It really didn't do anything for the fish, so I think next time I'll increase the amount of soy and perhaps add some miso paste. The ginger scallion oil did wonders for it, though, so that was an easy fix. For the summer squash, I did what I always do with fresh vegetables: sautee it with minced garlic, salt and pepper. It's stupidly simple, but there are some nuanced steps that might give me some ideas for a future blog entry. Till next time.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tacos, Butts and Booze Oh My

The Holy Trinity of Summer '11. You're likely to get something like this if you invite me over to your pool. Add a glass of blueberry lemonade (Blueberry Stoli + lemonade) by the water and we're golden.

roasted pork butt tacos

I brought the butt. Errbody else brought errthing else. This butt has been so successfully versatile since it debuted last year... lettuce wraps, noodle soup, rice bowls, tacos... I dunno what's next. It has been aptly described as "meat candy" due to the glorious crust of caramelized brown sugar that tops the last 10 minutes of cooking. After the all the juicy, tender meat was gone, scraps were being peeled off the bone. My food has generally been popular, but never has it elicited so positive a reaction as the butt.

salted caramel ice cream with caramel topping

Johanna also made salted caramel ice cream with caramel sauce (also from scratch). It was some of the most intense ice cream I've ever had. The caramel with sea salt fad can be forgiven by this ice cream- that's how good it was. Had to eat it quickly, though. It was melting rather fast, probably due to the salt content bringing down the freezing point.

Friday, June 3, 2011

One Bird, Many Ways

Years ago, I took it upon myself to learn how to roast a whole chicken because it was a cheap and delicious way to prepare a week's worth of food on a Sunday. Dark meat goes great with pasta or rice dishes. White meat gets chopped up for salads. On the low end, a whole bird could cost $4 and on the high end, maybe $10. For the frugal, that's pretty damn awesome.

Basic Roasted Chicken, Garlic Roasted Asparagus

In my previous post, Bourdain's quote is referring to chefs/restaurants and not the home cook. I'm inclined to agree with him. When I go out to a nice restaurant for the first time with friends, I'll often opt for whatever roasted chicken they have on the menu. First, for economy (it's usually a cheaper option) and second, to see what the chef is all about. If a good restaurant can't roast a chicken, something is terribly wrong.

But despite Bourdain's objections, a brined bird can get away with a preparation as simple as salt and pepper with some olive oil. Garlic goes a long way and a melange of chopped herbs is an upgrade. Dijon mustard makes it majestic. If the bird is butterflied prior to roasting, the backbone can be saved in the freezer for making homemade chicken stock.

At the end of the day, we're talking about how resourceful we can be in the kitchen. What are we eating, what are we re-using, what are we throwing away? We're a little more independent when we can control those processes at home. I'm not trying to suggest that we have to carry this over into how we consume all animals, but a chicken is manageable.

Anthony Bourdain

“If you can’t properly roast a damn chicken then you are one helpless, hopeless, sorry-ass bivalve in an apron,”

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I don't like limoncello. There, I said it. The default response to this is usually, "Dude, you haven't tried the real stuff from Italy." Well, I don't care! It's too fucking sweet! I'll sip my bourbon, thank you.

the removed zest peels were pale and brittle

I've tried it at several parties, each sampling of varying quality. I actually have tried a bottle from Italy- it was a gift- and I'll admit the lemon component tasted significantly better, but it was still like drinking candy. And that's the whole point! I'm not big on a lot of really sweet things, particularly my booze.

filtering before adding the simple syrup

So why the hell have I been trying to make this at home? I thought I could do it better, get that real lemon flavor in there and play with the sweetness. The revelation hit me as I was pouring this absurdly viscous simple syrup into the lemon-infused grain alcohol and I was like, holy fuck, there's no way I can turn this into something I would like. Trying to reduce the sugar in limoncello is like taking the cheese out of a cheeseburger and expecting it to be the same thing.

yeah, that quart jar has been around...

Additionally, the last short batch I made (pictured above) tastes like Lemon Pledge. 100 proof Lemon Pledge, to be precise. Which is hilarious when you present the frosty mason jar to a group of friends and they're all like, "oooooooooh," and then you serve it to them and there's this collective, "OMFG WHY!?" I've confirmed this general reaction at numerous social gatherings over the past two weeks. Needless to say, this has produced more entertainment than pleasure on the palate.

Still, I have another unopened jar that I'm going to let sit for a couple months before I filter and syrup-ize it. Maybe this one will taste better to my friends and they won't hate me, anymore =D

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Michael Pollan and... Rachael Ray?

I need to test some waters before I take a leap of faith. I'm about to debut a project that focuses on a way of cooking that I find to be easy, delicious and responsible. Not going to say much more than that about the project itself, but I had to do a lot of soul-searching in the past month. I needed to figure out what the hell I could do with my love and understanding of food in order to help people, because after all, all that any of us want to do is to help people, right?

This is going to be a shocker for people that know me, if they're even reading this, but while my favorite people in the food business are Harold McGee (for his scientific curiosity), David Chang (for his ability to deliciously blur the line between Asian and American), Dan Barber (for his fresh intellect), Ina Garten (for her fabulous entertaining), David Wondrich (for his astute alcoholism), etc... one of the food personalities I admire the most is Rachael Ray.

Yes, the woman with the annoying, hoarse voice. Yes, the woman with no "real" culinary education. Yes, the woman whose success may have single-handedly turned the Food Network into a low-brow circus for stay-at-home moms, the unemployed, and procrastinating college students. Yes, her.

In July of 2009, Michael Pollan wrote a fascinating, if not scathing, criticism of the decline of contemporary food television for The New York Times Magazine, declaring that "The Food Network has helped to transform cooking from something you do into something you watch." For the most part, I don't disagree with that statement, but from what I've witnessed (I actually don't watch TV much at all), there is a lot to be learned from at least some of the network's programming, and judging by the success of Rachael Ray's empire of books, shows, magazines and products, she's got something going on.

It's called easy. I don't agree with all of her ideas. Her interpretation of a lot of Asian foods makes me want to barf, but my understanding of her work is that she's actually getting people back into the kitchen and cooking for themselves, which I think is extremely important, and speaks much more than what Michael Pollan has created in indignant "foodies" who will pay exorbitant amounts of cash for a pile of uncooked, uninspired, but completely natural, entrees in fringe neighborhoods of mildly acceptable gentrification. No, I'm not bitter. The meal was.

There's a disturbing disconnect between the Michael Pollans and the people that they hope to influence. How do we get real people to cook at home, cook fresh, and reduce the amount of processed foods in their diet? How do we get real people to think about where their food comes from (without the painful grimace)? How do we define responsible eating in regards to our consumption of meat? I don't know the answer to any of these questions, but it is my intent to explore these issues in the months to come, assuming I can make my day job(s) work. Some people actually have answered these questions, but it's just "blah blah blah" to most ears.

It is my hope that despite all the green-washing and hype in the media, that somewhere between the Michael Pollans and the Rachael Rays, truly good, real food is being enjoyed with friends and family.

Please Note: I'm not bashing Michael Pollan. I actually really do love his work and I've read most of his books. I think he's taken a strange turn, but if there's any single book of his I'd recommend, it would be Second Nature. It speaks nothing about food, but rather philosophically explores our humanity in the context of nature.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cold Beef Shank and Watercress Salad

Whenever I visit home, Mom always sends me off with some delicious food that will survive the flight. This time she gave me some beef shanks she had braised then chilled, and then frozen. These are typically served as a family style starter dish by thinly slicing and tossing in a spicy soy/garlic/cilantro type of dressing. If Szechuan style, add the numbing peppercorn-infused oil and hot peppers. But here's my take on it for dinner tonight:

cold beef shank and watercress salad

I had some watercress in the fridge, so I trimmed those up and decided to add them to the mix. Carrots, too. I finely julienned those. For the dressing I used equal parts soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar. A small bit of hot sauce. Chopped cilantro, finely shredded ginger, minced garlic. Some sugar. Toss with the sliced beef, watercress and carrots and there's a tasty salad!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Metal Makes It Okay

There are two things I'm not in favor of in this video: vegan and poor spelling. But it's forgiven because it's pretty hilarious.

David Chang

"It's a shame we know more about dinosaurs than about what Native Americans ate," at the inaugural fundraiser for MoFAD

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Welcome Back to Flushing, Queens

The real purpose of my trip to New York is for my sister's graduation and spending some time with family. And how better does my family spend time than around the dinner table? To celebrate my sister's completion of six years for her Pharm.D, we went out to what my Dad calls a "New" Cantonese style restaurant in Flushing right off of Main St [fill in details later]. Where there's FOBs, there's always really good food. [more after the jump]

Click images for enlarged goodness.

Peking Duck

Clams in a Crack Black Bean Sauce

the spread

the mango cake, though they spelled Hening's name incorrectly

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Welcome to Flushing, Queens

Land of delicious Chinese food. And FOB's.

it's more sustainable, and in a town called Flushing!
room for cream?

i wonder if she knows she's on a box that says "been paste bread"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fresh Spinach Rice Bowl

Mmm, this one came out real tasty. Fresh spinach, steamed rice, slices of roasted pork, sweet cumin carrots, avocado, sheets of seaweed and a sprinkle of scallions.

nom nom rice bowl

Spice for Spiced Food


The previous post's title was a reference to this item in my spice cabinet: SPICE FOR SPICED FOOD. Such a descriptive title, haha. I use these little baggies to braise pork butt, pork belly, beef brisket, ribs, firm tofu, you name it. The ingredients verbatim are: "Cinnamon Fennel, Ginger, Cumin Clove," though I'm pretty sure there should be a comma between the cinnamon and fennel. Find it at your local Chinese grocery/purveyor. I'm pretty sure that I've seen it on Buford Highway here in Atlanta, but this here was sent to me from my mother in New York.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Meat Glaze For Meat

Dinner tonight was ridiculously fabulous. Pork chops with a fragrant anise/ginger meat glaze (same glaze I had used for the chicken wings a few weeks ago), roasted beets tossed in fresh squeezed orange juice and garlic roasted asparagus. We started with a super tasty potato fennel soup. This was mostly Michael cooking. My contributions were the anise/ginger meat glaze and the asparagus. And then some obese macerated strawberries to finish :)

roasted asparagus tossed with minced garlic

potato fennel soup

pan seared pork chops with anise/ginger meat glaze, roasted beets tossed in fresh squeezed orange juice, roasted asparagus tossed in minced garlic.

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Shit's about to get crazy in exactly one week.

Monday, May 9, 2011

What's the Deal With Artisanal Salt?

Last month, in one of my favorite columns at the New York Times by Harold McGee, The Curious Cook, he wrote about the mysteries of salt. McGee is always a fascinating read and this was no exception, but I think I may have to wait until I'm making a bit more money before I throw down cash for artisanal salt. The flavor nuances are a little too subtle for me to seriously cook with it at the moment.

I'm going to stick to my kosher salt, not because it tastes better but because it generally comes in a more manageable grain size (and it's cheap). Course salt is too course and fine table salt is too fine for consistent pinching. Kosher salt is sized in that happy medium where a pinch is pretty close each time and if you use a dredger like I do, the grains are closer in size to the holes in the lid. So ignore the people on TV that say kosher salt tastes better or is higher quality. Both false, but it is practical.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Holy Shit I MADE Bacon!

Finals week. Random food in the fridge. Leftovers. A small block of that pork belly I had roasted last week... Wait a minute, I had cured that thing overnight, so technically, isn't that bacon? Oh em gee, it is! More or less, it's bacon that hasn't been smoked.

homemade bacon with pickled daikon on garlic sauteed kale

I sliced that baby up real thin and put it on the pan just like I would with store-bought bacon. Not much of a difference here except the grease spattered a bit more than you'd expect, but that makes sense because it hasn't been dried the way the store stuff is. Flavor was there. Texture was there. Huh, wuddya know?

Comice Pear Tart

Last fall, I made this delicious Comice Pear Tart with an all-butter pastry shell and a drizzle of orange blossom honey. Just wanted to share. And pre-meditate a summer berry tart in the near future :-)

Comice Pear Tart with orange blossom honey in an all-butter pastry shell