Sunday, September 30, 2012


 How to Make Njera
Start with some teff, a tiny Ethiopian grain and pound it furiously in a stone mortar until you have flour. Or you can buy teff flour. Any good health food store will have both. Put about a cup of the flour in a bowl and add water until you have a smooth batter. Cover with a towel. The next day add a little more teff flour and water. Continue for one week adding more each morning. It will be sour and smell funky. Next heat a very large non stick skillet and generously daub with butter. Make sure your batter is quite thin, add a pinch of salt too. Pour in about a cup of batter and swirl around so the entire pan is evenly covered. It will hiss and sizzle and little holes will appear. Cover the pan briefly to steam through. You don't need to turn it over or flip, just carefully remove with a spaluta and set aside on a platter. It will be nice and tart and chewy. On top you put little piles of stewed lentils, spicy stewed chicken (doro wat) and cauliflower or okra. Anything. You eat by tearing off little bits of the njera and picking up mouthfuls of the food.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Blood, Sweat and Ears

I don't need to show you what this actually looks like in the flesh, but it is a chili, based on blood, pig ears, pork belly, onions and other odds and ends. I was fully prepared to make a raw vegan chili. (YES! Just for the challenge!) And then I found it already made and my kitchen preoccupied all morning. SO what can I do but go the utter opposite direction? It's for a chili contest tonight.

The cover parodied here is a post BS&T era album of recovered recordings. I dare you to listen to some of their best songs, absolutely fantastic. And after tasting this chili just now, this is too. Tastes like chocolate, which is SO weird because there is none in it. Just smooth, really dark, a little bitter, some sweetness, iron, spice. And nibblie bits of ear. Wonder if I could make this into a candy bar? Notice the blood stain on the poster too!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Schmaltzerdoodles: Duck Fat Onion Cookies

Begin by finely dicing one small onion and brown very gently in duck or chicken fat with a good pinch each of salt and thyme. Let cook about 30 minutes on the lowest heat possible, stirring often. Then place in a separate small bowl and chill thoroughly in the freezer, at least 20 minutes.

Take one cup of well chilled solid duck or chicken fat and cream in one cup of coarse grained unrefined sugar. Add one egg, a capful of vanilla and a dash of cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg. Add in the chilled onions, a handful of crushed walnuts and enough flour to make a dough you can roll into balls. The more flour you add, the more cakey they will be. The less you add, the crisper. Roll out small balls and place them on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. They will look and have the texture of Mexican wedding cookies, so sprinkle with powdered sugar if you like.

Makes 28-30 cookies. Serve with good bourbon, sit on the porch and enjoy at about 5:00 on a Sunday afternoon on the first day of fall.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Beef Middles

I forgot what a delight it is to use beef middles to make salami. It's been more than a year. They're maybe 2 1/2 inches in diameter, and you can simply place the chopped meat inside by hand and squeeze it down hard, because they don't break. These are pork on the periphery, some with fennel, some with chili pepper. In the center are beef and in the back left a pair of lomo, i.e. cured pork loin, which is actually very tricky to stuff. And to cure, it needs to soak with salt and spices a week or so in the fridge first. So how nice is having a cave stuffed with salami? About 20 pounds, in a few hours, without a single machine. A WHOLE lot of fun. Whatever works best I'll bring to the party for The Lost Arts in SF next month. So my recommendation: forget about small diamater beef rounds. Not worth the effort and they dry out way too much before the meat has a chance to cure and get a good sour bite. And Pig Middles, work fine, but they sure do stink! These barely smell at all.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


This is a clip from a film about Monteverdi by Theo Roos. I'm in it.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


It's been about a year since I dabbled in blood sports. So I thought I'd try a biroldo. It's Tuscan and  decidedly sweet, studded with golden raisins, pine nuts and a hint of cinnamon. The ones they sell at the store are rubbery and uninteresting, but I had a Spanish morcilla recently and it just got me thinking about blood again. Here's how to make it: Get a pound of fresh blood. (The Lion Market here sells little containers, about 2 bucks.) Plus 1/2 pound lean pork and 1/2 pound fat. Chop the meat and fat up very fine and mix with the blood. Add 1 tbs salt and the same of sugar. Then some crushed fennel, a good pinch of instacure #1, and stir in a handful each of raisins and pine nuts. I'm going to let this cure for a couple of days, then probably poach gently. You slice it off and eat cold like that, not recooked like a black pudding. We shall see!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Food Studies Handbook Giveaway!

Hey Folks, I received a big box of books in the mail today. The Routledge International Handbook of Food Studies. It's pretty expensive, so for those of you who really need it, I'm going to give away a copy. Just answer this question and it's yours. The first correct answer of course. (Hint: it's not in this book, nor can you peek on amazon.)

What kind of fish did the ancient Greek gastronome Archestratus recommend not be ruined with fancy nonsense like cheese? Just oregano and salt is best. What is this fish called today?

I'd be willing to send another copy if anyone can answer this weird question. From what city were these books mailed to my office? I passed through it just a few of weeks ago.