Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Playing with my food again

They had the cutest spoons at T&T Supermarket. I couldn't resist. Somehow, I just pictured serving a lovely little amuse gueule on them at my next dinner party. So tonight, when I was cooking up scallops and edamame for dinner, I... decided to play a little.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ever buy something unknown?

Like, an ingredient you've not used before? Something you have no idea how to prepare?

I need to look some things up.
I love anchovies. I like white anchovies, I like salted anchovies, I like salted anchovies in olive oil... and then I saw these at T&T supermarket (I biked over there yesterday afternoon).

I have no idea what I'm going to do with them. Maybe they're something that I add to soup, or grind up, or just munch on for a snack (like dried capelin, which my Dad used to buy long ago in Montreal).

I'll do some research and let you know what transpires!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Yes, I finished the soup!

But forgot to blog about it!
It ended up taking the whole evening to make the stock, so I made the soup the following evening.

I had two bunches of wild leeks, and I cut them apart at the bottom of the leaf.
Sautéed the bulbs and stems along with a couple of onions, and then added the stock from the previous night together with some potatoes, cut into 6 to 8 pieces each, depending on the size of the potato. There were probably about 3 pounds of potatoes. Also added some black pepper. Would have added some nutmeg, but I seemed to have used it all up. Must remember to buy some more.

Simmered until the potatoes were cooked, and then roughly chopped and added the leek leaves to the mix, and cooked for about 5 more minutes.

Removed from heat, waited for it to cool a bit, and then used my stick blender to turn it into a homogenous soup.

It's good hot, it's good cold. I like it cold with a little drizzle of white truffle olive oil!

I've frozen it in two sizes: hefty meal and soup appetizer.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Potato and wild leek soup

I'm starting it! I make some chicken stock before getting into the potatoes and wild leeks.
On the stove I have a big pot with
3 onions, quartered;
3 stalks of celery, chunked;
6 (very small) cloves of garlic, smashed;
1 kg of chicken backs from Rowe Farms (was only able to get those today: their stall at the north St. Lawrence Market was out of them on Saturday).
2 big pinches of kosher salt;
A flat palm's worth of basil
Same of savoury.

So after that simmers for a few hours I'll have chicken stock.
Then I'll start making the soup.

No, it's not for dinner tonight :-D

Cold & hungry

Fixed up the water thingie in the back yard again so it's flowing freely (catkins from the male cottonwood tree just to the south had blocked the water intake). Sat outside quietly for about an hour and a half to take pictures of migratory birds. (They've been uploaded and added to my Backyard Birds set at Flickr).

Came inside and wanted a grilled sandwich for a late breakfast.

Got out some cheddar that I bought from Montfort at the north Farmers' Market at the St. Lawrence Market on Saturday. A hunk of side bacon, oven roasted, came from Witteveen's in the south market, the baguette was from Future Bakery, and the dijon... well, I had that already in the fridge.

Assembled the sandwich, heated up the cast iron frying pan with a little olive oil and butter, and put it on at a medium-low heat, bacon side down.

Carefully turned it to be cheese side down, watched the cheese melt, removed to a plate.

That was good. Now I'll have a cup of chamomile tea while I go through the bird pictures.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wow, Grocery Gateway's on the ball

I use Grocery Gateway to buy the heavy stuff: kitty litter, laundry detergent, milk, cleaning supplies, juice. Since I'd have to take a cab to bring it home, it's even easier if I go online and order it and get them to deliver. I tweeted yesterday that I missed the cutoff for Saturday delivery, and now Grocery Gateway is following my tweets. They're using the new media intelligently!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Know your meat source

More and more people are becoming vegetarians and vegans. When I read the linked article, I understand more of them.
I'm still doing what I can to purchase my meat from small organic establishments: Witteveen at the St. Lawrence Market on weekdays, the farmers who sell pig, goat, and lamb at the north market on Saturdays.

Please don't buy meat from CAFOs. If you haven't seen Food, Inc., watch it. Read some of the books that have been written in the last few years (including Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food).

Oh -- that link: Tom Philpott's Grist.org.  Michael Ruhlmann pointed to this article in a tweet today.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Brunch at the Black Hoof Café

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of having brunch with Cheryl from Autodesk at the Black Hoof's newest spot, the café directly across the street from the original.

We arrived at 11am, which seems like a good time to go: only had about a 5 minute wait until we were seated (line up was out the door by the time we left.

Yummy menu. We had difficulties deciding what to get!

Eventually we settled on tongue grilled cheese sandwich (Cheryl, who accepted the waiter's recommendation to get that over the blood sausage & crepes, since she had not eaten here before) and pig tails & grits (Pat). Plus French press coffee (two pots thereof).

We shared :-)

The tongue grilled cheese sandwich was wonderfully rich and flavourful: swiss cheese, and the tongue had been turned into a preserved meat somehow (didn't ask for info, unfortunately) and sliced very thin -- was a very rich corned beef kind of taste.

The pig tails were shredded meat that was shaped into kind of a rectangular sausage that had been crisped on the outside: yummy, and didn't have to deal with all those little bones. The grits were creamy, tasty, a little sweet, and topped by two perfectly poached eggs.  A little crispy chip (tasted like Munchos -- remember them?) was on the top and gave some crunch to the dish.

We still had room for a little more, so Cheryl ordered the donut holes, stuffed with marrow and rhubarb jam. Little gems, about the size of a marble, dusted with sugar. Added that little bit of sweetness to say that the meal was done (that's when we had the second pot of coffee).

I'll be back. There was so much on the menu that looked good! Definitely have to try the suckling pig benny: three people at the next table all ordered it, and it looked scrumptious.

I'm also curious about fried artichokes & broth.

Unlike at the parent restaurant, there seem to be a number of items that a vegetarian could enjoy here: granola, salad, rapini pesto & pasta, and toast with jam and goat butter. Food for all!

Monday, April 5, 2010

More arugula

Tonight's dinner was scallops and pine nuts on sautéed arugula with garlic.
It was good.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cobb Salad Variant

Had lots of leftovers in the fridge, so time to put them all together!
I had
Diced turkey thigh (cooked)
Diced maple smoked bacon (cooked)
Confit of sliced mushrooms
Cherry tomatoes
Baby arugula
Ripe avocado
and some Bolthouse Yogurt & Chunky Blue Cheese dressing.


So that was dinner.

If I were to do it again, I'd probably add some pine nuts so something would crunch.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Artisanal Bread recipe!

My friend Sandy has done a mash-up of bread recipes.
She came up with the following. Now, the really cool thing about this is you don't need to make the loaves at once: make a loaf, put the rest of the dough back in the fridge until you want to make the next loaf, then just pinch off a hunk and make fresh bread without going through the work of doing it all from scratch each time.


Makes 4 1-lb loaves.
  • 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100F)
  • 1-1/2 tbsp granulated yeast
  • 1-1-/2 tbsp kosher or other coarse salt
  • 6-1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour
  • cornmeal for dusting
To prepare dough:
  1. Add yeast and salt to water in a 5-quart bowl or lidded plastic food container. Don't worry about getting it all to dissolve.
  2. Mix in all of the flour at once with a wooden spoon or in a large food processor/mixer with a dough attachment until the mixture is uniform and all flour is incorporated. If mixing by hand and it is difficult to mix all the flour in, wet hands and work by hand. Don't knead the dough. The dough will be wet and loose enough to take the shape of the container.
  3. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rise at room temperature until it flattens on top or begins to collapse, approximately 2 hours. The dough can be used for baking at this point, although it will be easier to work with after refrigeration.
  4. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks, cutting off and baking portions as described below.
Dough can be frozen in 1-lb portions; defrost overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking.

Baking:
  1. Dust a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper with cornmeal.
  2. Sprinkle surface of refrigerated dough with flour, then pull up and cut off a 1-lb piece (about the size of a grapefruit) using a serrated knife. Sprinkle liberally with flour to keep it from sticking to your hands and to work into the dough. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all sides to form a ball with a smooth top, and create the gluten cloak for rising. Most of the flour will fall off. Dust the top with more cornmeal, since this will become the bottom of the loaf.
  3. Rest the loaf on the paper and let rise, uncovered, for about 40 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 450F for at least 20 minutes with a covered pot or Pyrex dish in the oven.
  5. When the oven and dish are at heat, put your hand under the paper, lift the loaf, drop it upside down into the pot (removing the paper), and cover the pot.
  6. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Uncover and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes until crust is brown.
  8. Lift out and cool on a wire rack.
Variations:

Feel free to add herbs, cheese, or substitute different types of flour: you can use this recipe as a base to make all kinds of breads.