Sunday, February 24, 2013

THREE WORLD CUISINES WINS GOURMAND WORLD COOKBOOK AWARD BEST FOREIGN FOOD BOOK IN THE WORLD Look on page 91 of this booklet. I'm pretty amazed myself! Last night in Paris a friend wrote to tell me about it, but now it's posted on the Gourmand World Cookbook Award Site. Pretty Cool I think.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Is it Edible?

I hesitate to admit it, but sometimes I scare myself. I was rearranging the meat cave and stumbled upon a hard nubbin of salami. Has to be from around Christmas time. I wacked it open and then remembered, AH, I put a pickled egg in there. It dried along with the salami and is hard and smells quite nice. But the question remains... can I eat it? Dare I? Has anyone ever heard of such perversity? Everytime I think I've invented something new someone tells me, nope it's been done. So I'm supposing this too is nihil novum sub sole.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cooking for One and Eating Alone?

I had a very pleasant conversation with a guy in Sweden (via Skype) a few days ago. His question was why people don't cook, and it came down to people more frequently eating alone. So much of the experience of eating is indeed the sharing, the conversation, the social interaction. And of course cooking for others. It's more satisfying than eating, I think. But does eating alone really entirely preclude the possibility of cooking? Does anyone out there cook entirely for one's self? I admit, I forgo the formalities. I am eating what you see at this very second as I type, at my desk in the kitchen, right out of the pan. But why not cook for the sheer pleasure of pleasing yourself? I am normally cooking for kids, so it's rather like being a short order cook. And I end up eating what they want quite often. So I imagine my experience of getting to cook whatever I like for myself as a special treat is strangely unusual. But still, why would Lucullus not be pleased to dine with Lucullus?Is there anyone out there who says, AH, I get to cook for me. And I think I like what I serve on special occasions like this!

So what is it?? Simple: No particular name. You sautee some cavolo nero in oil, diced and minus the tough ribs, then add rice. Brown nicely. Then add fish stock. Pine nuts. Roasted red pepper. And some nice white fish filet (this is basa), with a sprinkle of zaatar at the end. I may have put some green chili sauce in there too. Yes. MAN this is good. But am I eating alone. I hope at some level, I am eating with you too dear friends.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Beggar's Pork

This is the second one. Cured pork shoulder inside. His nose came off in the oven, but he was so cute.
Last week Erica asked me if I had ever made Beggar's Chicken. She sent someone's blog post in which it was made for the first time with success. Maybe it wasn't intended as such, but I took it as a challenge. And with my usual heedless aplomb, I jumped in. But with an entirely different idea. Not just pork, but cured pork. Here's how to do it: Take a shoulder roast, 3 or 4 pounds. Salt and pepper generously, add a pinch of instacure #1, and whatever spices you like. I think you can see coriander and juniper. Throw it in a ziplock and toss in the fridge for one week. Turn over every day. Then soak about 5 lotus leaves. The ones I bought were a bit banged up. And I got the weirdest looks at the Asian grocery, though I go there all the time asking for random parts, the leaves struck them as absurd. Very dry and brittle, and huge, but they worked fine once soaked for about half an hour. Don't be tempted to sit on a floating leaf like a frog. Anyway, wrap the pork in the leaves tightly. Then take some white clay (I think this is B mix) and roll it out flat and completely seal the lotus wrapped pork. I was tempted to give this a little snout and ears, but I actually ran out of clay. Bake at 450 degrees for two hours. Let cool a bit and then whack with a hammer. Remove clay completely. It will actually be semi-fired earthenware. It can't be used again. Unwrap the leaves and slice the pork. It has the most intriguing aroma. Sort of like tea, sort of like sweet herbs and hay. And the meat has an extraordinary texture, not unlike corned beef, but juicy and not stringy at all. Still dreaming of what to do with the meager leftovers. Not a sandwich, maybe a taco or steamed bun.