T T T

Tasty
Tried
True

In these days of the internet and skaty-eight-b’zillion recipe blogs and sites, what’s a home cook and sometime blogger to do?

I like and trust the “old” recipes and believe that anything from the internet is untrustworthy unless it comes from a site with an editor (Epicurious, NYT, etc). Blog and magazine recipes tend to involve twists and turns and sauces and rubs, etc (*chicken wings 21 ways*) I respect and revere real cookbook authors/writers — James Beard, Madher Jaffrey, Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Martha Stewart, and so on — many of my favorite recipes come from them. That said, there are new, innovative writers and recipes; but that’s another story.

And so… (drumroll)
These are the first of a number of recipes that I have cooked lately and have decided are good-to-go, as is. They are worthy of bearing the appellation T T T [Tasty Tried and True]. They may or may not have appeared on *eats…* but they have been hanging around my recipe files for some time.

That doesn’t mean I won’t alter a recipe somewhat as I cook depending on what I have on hand or my mood or the weather or whatever, but if I want — and I usually do in this day and age — I can cook them straight, flat, as written.

In most cases, they came from somewhere — a book, magazine, the TV, newspaper or my head — and have been cooked and adjusted and re-written until Carol and I love ‘em.

and another T: Toss

I’ve recently posted a couple:
K-Paul’s Cajun Meatloaf TTT
The Perfect Steak TTT

More are to come:
Grilled Chicken Thighs
Bourbon Baked Beans
Fish Chowder
Bi-Rite beans n chard
cuban black beans
Basic Cooked Rice
my bean vegetable soup
Cajun Catfish
Beer Butt Chicken
and more…

Sassy Brassica

I know, it’s a stupid title, but it accurately evokes the spirit and delivery of this “instant classic” way to treat cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and their cousins. It originates with David Chang and Momofuku as an asian-y take on serving cauliflower which is NOT a traditional or widely grown vegetable in Asian cooking. This, from the Momofuku Cookbook, is the Creation Story:

This is one of the best Ssäm Bar dishes — a staple there since the late-night days and and fine way to dispatch either cauliflower or Brussels sprouts in season.

There’s not much of a story to it: we had a deep fryer, we had vegetables in season that we needed to cook, we had Tien‘s fish sauce vinaigrette on hand, and we were looking for a way to use boondi, a fried chickpeas snack used in Indian cooking that Tien brought with him from his days working for Gray Kunz. They all found each other, and the results were awesome. Sometimes it’s just that easy.

Later we swapped out boondi for puffed rice — which is what Rice Krispies are — seasoned with shichimi togarashi.

Continue reading

Tons Of Tomatoes? Ferment'm!

Tons Of Tomatoes

It is early September in Maine. Our garden has peaked and is now overflowing like a bucket set beneath a drip which can’t fill fast enough early on, then suddenly becomes overwhelming. Above is the third mass tomato harvest from our garden, most of which are about to be canned in quart jars which will bring our total this summer to over 50 jars of tomatoes…so far!

We eat tomatoes with every meal these days, mostly sliced fresh with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and olive oil. It is an embarrassment of riches in many ways, and I hesitate before I describe this menu feature as “monotonous” because I know that in a few weeks I will pine for the flavor of homegrown sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes…so I won’t.

Still, WHAT TO DO with the steady spill of this wonderful but terribly temporal torrent??? The answer should have been obvious to me, someone who makes their living fermenting food, but it wasn’t until Alison came home from seeing Mr. Fermentation himself — Sandor Katz — speak at our local food Co-op and mentioned that Katz had described a new idea that had just been brought to him: fermenting fresh tomatoes to make an a tasty and shelf-stable conserva paste that from them in an ancient and time-tested manner.

All I needed was that one word — conserva — plus The Google to find out how I could do this.
Continue reading

Post Pig to Cooperstown

DAY 9 WEDNESDAY 10.16

We’re in a cool downstairs bar space, high windows streaming with light despite the still gray skies. The U-shaped bar was table-height — the space behind the bar lowered — so we’re sitting at the bar in SudsPub in actual chairs. Nice. We’re in the heart of Red Sox country in Bethel, Maine on our way to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown NY. The Sox are playing the Tigers in the American League Championship yet the bartender is wearing a Bruins sweater and guys at the bar are talking Patriots.

“Bowl o’ Clam Chowda,” sez I. Carol orders the Fish n Chips. We had agreed that I would share her chips.

chowdah

The clam chowder was the real deal, obviously house made with real clams and not overly thickened with flour.

We started driving west this morning. Our itinerary showed Wednesday as a Belfast day, but we had done Belfast things and got to thinking — with Eric’s help — about a leisurely leafer-peeper trip across New England back roads to Cooperstown instead of blasting down the Maine Turnpike and across the Mass Pike, etc. Good thinking Eric.

sausage and quasi-ratatouille

OK, then… Eric whips up a sausage and quasi-ratatouille and egg-over breakfast and we’re off at 10am under gray skies, me driving.

On the road again. Feels good.

fractured color

We took Route 7 north out of Monroe, driving past MOFGA — where I had just spent a significant and fascinating three days — to Route 2 and across Maine to lunch in Bethel. Route 2 is the direct route west across upper New England. Not a ton of people up here and two lane double yellow line road is smooth going but doesn’t offer many passing opportunities.

damn van

It seemed like we followed this white van with New York plates all day. She was going at a good speed — we learned the van held five women — it’s just that there it was, in our view all the time.

After lunch, we drove on and stopped for gas in Lancaster NH. Who knew?

Lancaster NH celebrating 250 years

We reached Montpelier, Vermont a little after 5pm and decided to stop, even though we were programed to go on to Rutland. Following visual cues, we crossed the Winooski River toward the gold dome of the State Capitol and turned right on — guess what — Main Street to check out a big hotel. Looked it up on Safari… average rate $225 per day. No thanks. Looked corporate and stuffy anyway. Continue reading

POST PIG

pig to eat and an actual recipe

DAY 8 TUESDAY 10.15
Funny. No pig to process. But Eric fried up some sausage for breakfast.

lovely morning

Of course, he doesn’t just fry up some sausage, he adds the trimmings, in this case, onions and peppers and bread toasted on the wood stove.

sausage and stuff, V8 and coffee

We got back to real life. Eric catching up on work while Carol and Alison did some laundry and I did some reading and journal writing.

laundry swinging in the breeze

We took a ride into Belfast to look around. Stop on the waterfront for a Growler of beer at the Marshall Wharf Brewing Company.

Marshall Wharf Brewing Co… growler on top of car.

Belfast has a new waterfront walk…

and a new industry, the Front Street Shipyard,  biggest on the coast of Maine (not including Bath Ironworks, of course, where the Navy’s newest destroyer was built). It’s a clean industry — as opposed to a chicken operation formerly on this site — and they can handle some pretty large boats.

a pretty large boat, I’d say…

last tomatillos of the season

While we were doing pig things, Alison picked all the tomatillos left standing in the garden. I was volunteered to make something with them, using as much pork loin as I could manage. Maybe a green chili. I recalled using tomatillos for the chili I made for the Sierra Canyon Chili Cookoff, so I looked that up on eats, and looked for ideas in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. There was one chili recipe, “Chili Non Carne.” I adapted it to use the pork and the tomatillos and used his spices and suggested cooking times.

Marc’s Tomatillo Chili con Carne

Cook 2 cups of dry beans with one onion by your usual method. Drain and reserve bean juice, just in case you need some. (Or open a can of beans.)

Select enough tomatillos to produce 2 cups and peel off their papery skins. Roast  at 400°F for one hour. Wrap 6 to 8 cloves garlic in foil and roast with the tomatillos.

Mash garlic and mix in with tomatillos. If you don’t have 2 cups, add some bean juice.

Add tomatillos mixture to beans and mix. Stir in 1 fresh or dried chopped chili or 1 Tbsp chili powder. (Eric chopped a dried ancho chili.) Add 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp dried oregano.

Cut up 1 pound meat (our pork tenderloin). Brown with peanut oil, season with salt and pepper, and add to pot. Cook about 15 minutes more.

a nice bowl of green

DAT was good.

The Pig :: Day Three

“I love sausage, but don’t care to see how it’s made.”

Today, you’ll see how it’s made.

Although the recipes came from various sources, the ingredients are simple and similar:

  • ground pork
  • spices
  • herbs
  • often onions and garlic
  • liquid — usually wine

Breakfast sausage (sage and onions) from Better Than Store Bought by Helen Willyard and Elizabeth Coichie
Saucisson (black and white pepper sausage for dry curing) from La Technique by Jacques Pepin
Pork Liver Terrine Pate Campagnola from Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertolli
Boudin blanc (emulsified sausage) from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
Cotechino (classic Italian with Anise and boiled pork skin) from Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertolli
Crepinettes, each of the fresh sausage mixtures made into patties and wrapped in caul fat

The meat was all cut up yesterday and divided into portions for the various sausages.

prep for Pate Campagnole

Each team put together its recipe ingredients — this particular prep is for the Pate Campagnole — you can tell by the use of liver.

The meat is ground with a cast iron grinder attachment for the commercial mixer.

grinding

The ground meat, herbs, spices, etc. are mixed.

mixing

Here, we visit the terrine. Loaf pans are lined with caul fat and the ground meat mixture pressed into the pans.

pate underway

The pans are placed in a water bath and baked. Continue reading

The Pig :: Day Two

Breaking down the sides…

We are entering the middle day of our journey from two snorting and snuffling pigs to some hams, bacon, sausages and the like.

Today, we’ll smoke some bacon, make some headcheese, start some hams, render some leaf lard, and have a swell and somewhat unusual lunch, make big pieces into little pieces and sort them.

These are the vegetables for Head Cheese, or what Fergus Henderson in his book “Nose to Tail Eating” calls BRAWN. We’re looking at onions, carrots, leeks, celery, garlic, lemon zest, a splash of red wine vinegar, bundle of herbs and a small handful of black peppercorns. While I prepped the vegetables, the pig’s head in water was coming to a boil in a big pot. When it got to a simmer, I stuffed the vegetables into the pot.

vegetables for head cheese

After about 2 1/2 hours, everything comes out of the pot and the remaining liquor is reduced by half. The vegetables are discarded and all the good bits of meat are picked out of the head. A terrine will be lined with cling film, the bits of meat added, the reduced liquor poured over and refrigerated overnight to set. The bits leftover will be made into patties, breaded and fried. That’s for tomorrow’s lunch.

My other job-of-the-day was to cook up the pig lungs for lunch. When they were harvested yesterday and before going into their sterilized tray, one of the students picked it (them?) up and blew them full of air. Hey, they work.

I trimmed the lungs of their gnarly parts, cut into small pieces and parboiled. Sliced a boatload of onions and got all that going over a very low flame. That would cook until lunchtime, almost three hours. Salt and pepper was the only seasoning.

lungs n onions saute very slowly

Meanwhile, the ribs were cut out, trimmed and roasted.

clockwise from bread: roasted potatoes, lungs n onions, roasted ribs, vegetable salad

This was a very nice lunch. When I went back for seconds on the ribs, the lungs were totally gone. Bummer. I was surprised that the lungs didn’t taste at all like organ meat. Probably because they are so fresh.

Meanwhile, the prime cuts; hams, loin, ribs, chops and roasts are cut and the balance of the meat is cut into bits for sausage. These bits are sorted by lean and fat so they can be mixed in proper proportion. The shoulder (Boston Butt) has perfect proportion by itself.

hams, cut two ways

some of the lean meat being cut

The cut meat is put in that yellow bucket, weighed and then sorted into hotel pans and labeled for its ultimate use. Tomorrow, we’re going to make 5 kinds of sausage and a pate.

These are the more fatty cuts.

The person top right is cutting the skin from the meat. The skin will be boiled until tender and go into sausage as fat.

Alison requested this picture. It was hard to catch Eric standing still long enough to pose.

At the end of the day, what once had been carcasses, was transformed into hotel pans of various cuts of meat.

A cooler of pig.

another view showing meat sorted for sausages