Thursday, February 21, 2013

On why our notion of "creepy" in food is all messed up.

A friend shared this article with me, on how North American attitudes toward offal illustrate a possibly disturbing trend in our attitude toward food. The whole article is worth reading but the following parts were my favourites:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pan-Seared Octopus with Bean Salad

We were just away for the weekend and I spent today decompressing. It was the perfect day to try a new ingredient.

Enter: octopus.

This year we went to Nashville for New Years Eve and while we were there we made sure to visit City House in hopes of trying their crispy octopus. We had no luck getting the octopus (but lots of luck getting delicious appetizers) so I have been looking for something similar to try at home.

I had one of those cylindrical frozen, pre-cleaned packs of octopus tentacles in the freezer and I've been waiting for a chance to use it and decided today was the day. I thawed it to commit myself and went on the hunt for a recipe.

I found this recipe on SBS Food. It looked promising, so I made a few changes and got to work.

The octopus is braised first, then seared and served atop a lovely white bean salad. The suggested braising time is 45 minutes but cooked it for twice as long before reaching a tenderness I could work with, so leave yourself some time.

Seared on the bean salad.
Because the braise took so long for me I'd be interested to try this again either with fresh octopus to see if it takes less time or in a slow cooker to get things very tender and maybe infuse more of the flavours from the braise into the meat.

Since it's going to be seared I don't see why you couldn't braise ahead of time then heated through during the searing process when you're ready to eat.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mardi Gras! Shrimp etouffee.

I love holidays that give me a reason for theme cooking. A few years ago I made this recipe for shrimp etouffee for Mardi Gras, and it's one of those meals that you think back on and look for excuses to repeat - so this year I made it again. Other than being typically generous with the onions and garlic (it's how I roll) and opting for store-bought Worcestershire (though I did make the Creole seasoning), I wouldn't change a thing.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Matt's Favourite Fish Curry.

I made this quite a while ago and did not take photos of the various steps but am posting it because of requests for the recipe. Years ago I received Vikram Vij's Vij's Elegant and Inspired Cooking, the cookbook for his not-quite-authentic Vancouver Indian restaurant. We've made a smattering of the recipes from this book (and the follow-up, Vij's at Home: Relax, Honey) most of which have been good and a few of which have been really excellent.

I made this a few times in June 2010 and yes, it's excellent. So excellent in fact that in December 2012 Matt said to me, "Hey, why don't you make that fish curry?"

You have to understand the number of dishes I've made that could be described as "that fish curry" to understand the multitude of emotions this made me feel, but with a little investigation we were able to narrow it down to a few from the Vij's cookbook and I've now labeled the recipe as Matt's favourite when I made it again in January.

The recipe calls for halibut and that's how I made it the first time, but it's equally good (and much cheaper) when made with haddock, tilapia loins or even basa. Basically any firm white fish should do just fine.

I've modified this recipe quite a bit in order to reduce the oil. It's probably not quite as good, but the difference isn't that big.

Charcuterie: Makin' Bacon

After a busy week it's always good to get a weekend food project going to wind down. This morning I got started on a ratio bread loaf (more on that later) and tonight I did something very important, my friends. Very important, indeed.

I started. Making. Bacon.

While in Detroit last weekend we were able to visit Butcher-Packer, which, if you've done any digging around with regards to charcuterie supplies (and who hasn't?), is the place from which everyone seems to order their stuff. I picked up what will probably amount to a few years' supply of pink charcuterie salt - essential for goodies like bacon, corned beef and the Glass Onion's chicken liver paté (the recipe from which I learned pink charcuterie salt exists). I also grabbed some DC cure #2 for dry sausages, which means I am stocked up for awesome.

Armed with my new goodies and a recipe once again from Ruhlman's Charcuterie it was time to make something of this:

Hello, lovely.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Goat's Milk and Rosemary Biscuits for Two

I'm home (where I'm from, not where I live) for the weekend to attend a friend's wedding and stayed with  my parents last night and for breakfast this morning. They keep goat's milk in the fridge for Dad and Mom has a huge rosemary plant. (It's getting close to three feet across.) Most importantly (since they ate their regular breakfasts and I was on my own) I have a recipe for biscuits for two that is really easy to customize.

Knowing all this, it was off to the races.

These are perfect with some partridgeberry preserves or whatever strikes your fancy. It's supposed to be for two, but the second one is looking pretty tempting. (Just saying.)

I haven't tried, but I'm sure you could scale this up with no problems.

The most dramatic biscuit photo ever taken.