Sunday, June 24, 2012

Brilliant Borough Market of London

For pictures of Saturday morning's stroll through London's premiere foodie, farmer, & artisanal gourmet market:

click this link to my smugmug account
password: borough market

Enjoy! More to come later after I've slept a little.  ..

Where do I begin?

Met Bar at Metropolitan Hotel : Potted curried shrimp with orange brioche
Modern Pantry : chorizo stuffed squid
Restaurant at St Paul's cathedral : artichoke quail egg tart
Jamie's Italian : baked chestnut musroom
Jamie's Italian : ricotta stuffed courgette blossom
Jamie's Italian : seasonal bruschetta
Spread eagle : endive salad with roquefort dressing
Spread Eagle : aubergine imam biraldi
Lazy cow in Salisbury : classic fish and chips
the Ritz : afternoon tea
Harrods : seriously yellow cream topped milk
Hawksmoor Seven Dials : Pimm's cup make-over

Barbecoa : pickled veg
Barbecoa : pit beef (smoked and then smoked again)
Barbecoa : carpaccio
Met Bar after dark : mint julep

Met Bar after dark : Sam's perfect old fashioned

Thursday, June 14, 2012

it seems like a small token: one jar of strawberry jam

Making 30 homemade jars of Michigan strawberry jam with handmade labels is a time commitment, above all.  But preserving is something that I love to do.  So it's with this love that I set aside the time to save the season's best for the months to come. 

For a mom with four kids, the time it takes to preserve is a larger sacrifice than any reasonable dollar amount spent on a gift card. But for the amazing men and women who teach, guide, mold, and love my children during the school day, no sacrifice is too big, even of my most valuable commodity. 

This recipe for fresh strawberry jam will help you get started.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

quinoa patties

tunes by:

Think Italian arancini, but made with quinoa ::  cooked quinoa mixed with eggs, whole-wheat bread crumbs, grated parmagiano, onion, garlic, salt, pepper.   Credit to Heidi Swanson of Super Natural Every Day Cooking, a fantastic book.

Served with a feta cucumber tzatziki. (one cup greek yogurt, 1/2 of an english cucumber rough chopped, 1/4 cup finely diced onion, 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and a few dashes of hot sauce)
roasted garbanzo beans.  tossed with olive oil, cumin, chili, urfa pepper and salt.  roasted at 450 deg convection for 25 minutes until crispy.
a chopped salad of spring asparagus, cherry tomatoes (carpenter produce), avocado, capers, cucumber (english canadian number).  Topped with Kenzoil, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Why I love summers in PURE Michigan

Let me count the ways. One strawberry, two strawberries, three strawberries, gulp!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

a tale of pre-salting

slices of veal porterhouse, pre-salted (dry brined for 6 hours), 
ala Molly Stevens in ROASTING. absolute perfection. 
gorgonzola topped polenta
saute of spring vegetables: 
(patty-pan squash, baby kale, onion, frozen cornman 2011 red peppers,   
 frozen 2011 Tantre Farm tomatoes)

In all honesty, the concept of veal wigs me out a little bit.  Baby cows?  Yeah, I guess.  But a perfect veal chop- Wow, nothing beats it.  Seriously, nothing.  It's got the buttery mouth-feel of... almost of bacon, and the flavor of the softest tender-est smooth-est not-harsh beef flavor.  It's not something I buy a lot, mostly because of the cost. Typically one single dinner at home is not worth that price.  However, a couple of days ago, standing at the Plum Market butcher counter, this veal was calling to me.  It was gorgeous.  Marbled, medium pink, a wonderful thing of beauty.  So I fell for the veal, like Ulysses to the sirens, and thank the Lord for that. 

But I could have spent all that money, and then botched them.  Thankfully, I've been doing a little research lately, on proper treatment of animals, alive, and animals, prepared as food.  I've read and re-read some of Molly Stevens book on roasting.  Chef Alex directed me toward the section on pre-salting.  Her narrative about this technique, also referred to as a dry brine, is fantastic, scientifically descriptive and interesting. Easy to understand and applicable to the home cook. 

Here's how it boils down: 
Salt is hydroscopic, a word used to describe the property of salt that causes it to attract molecules of water.  Knowing this is important because it equips you with the tools to properly season and prepare a piece of meat, that you have spent much money on. Even more valuable is the life of an animal, a much costlier payment than any dollar amount.  Cooking it properly is the best way to show respect for the life sacrificed, as far as I can see it. 

When you salt a porterhouse, for example, and let it sit on the counter, 20 minutes later you will typically find that beads of moisture will form on the surface of the meat.  This is juice from the meat that has been extracted by the salt via the magical power of osmosis.  You could cook it right away, and essentially you would quickly evaporate the liquid that has been pulled from the center of the meat. OR, and a very important OR, you could let it sit, salted, for a much longer time in a fridge, several hours or depending on the thickness of the meat up to 2 days.  And the chemical power of diffusion will take over.  The inside of the meat is less concentrated with salinity than the outside, so those levels try to equalize.  Essentially what happens is that the juices which once rested on top of the meat will get drawn back into the center of the meat. But now they will have the dissolved salts too, adding to the overall flavor and moisture.  

I wish I could explain to you how wonderful this technique worked for the veal porterhouse steaks.  The veal flavor was concentrated and perfectly salted, but not in a superficial kind of a way that is abrasive, and that can be scraped off with your teeth.  The flesh of the steak was seasoned more successfully than it would have been with only the topical application of the salt.  

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Camp bacon: the power of the porcine

Keeping it real. Yes there really is a CAMP BACON!
Attended Friday night's Alabama Bacon BBQ dinner at the Roadhouse.
Honestly, I don't mean this to be as kiss-ass as it sounds, but people of the world-wide-web, look at this meal! The genius of Alex Young on one plate!  Granted, it's one large plate.  It's filled with small portions of 15 different dishes all including bacon in some form or another. 
All wonderful enough that they could have been a meal by themselves.

the photo of the menu is not too clear, so here's the lowdown:

  • pink-eyed pea salad
  • crab, bacon, and rice salad
  • peaches with country ham
  • burrata with pancetta and basil
  • wisconsin cheese board
  • baby greens with fig and hazelnut viniagrette
buttermilk bacon biscuits

  • frogmore stew
  • roast ham with onion and bacon gratin
  • pork brochettes with makers mark BBQ
  • roasted corn with crawfish and slab bacon
  • charleston gold kale perloo
  • baked grits with country ham and local morel and mitake mushrooms

In all honesty the dessert course was the weakest bit here.  But I think that's a bakehouse issue.  And there's the fact that I was no longer hungry.  :)
  • sweet potato pie flavor was right on. Texture was a little stringy, just not as good as the one I make from the Lee Bros cookbook
  • lemon chess pie was good, but nothing to write home about.
  • fried peach hand pies were not good.  First of all they were cold. And I eat cold pie all the time, so that wasn't really the only issue.  The peaches were not cooked thoroughly; the dough of the pie was just not flavorful or flaky.  At this point I was glad for something that wasn't good enough to eat.  I was stuffed, like a pig, which I suppose was exactly the point.