Fresh Pasta

I’ve been making fresh pasta on and off for about two years now. It’s been a long, steep learning curve with a lot of lumpy, feathery or overly-elastic balls of dough destined for the trash bin. Many weekends I would despair that the process is too arcane to be learned from a book and that the tactile magic required to make it like some Piedmontese nona would require a bankrupting trip to the motherland, or at the very least a couple of weeks worth of classes.

But I kept at it, spurred on by the near-pornographic descriptions of fresh pasta making and eating found in audiobooks like Bill Buford’s Heat and Pasta, Pane, Vino: Deep Travels Through Italy’s Food Culture by Matt Goulding. Little by little I got better, mostly by scaling back my efforts to just the simplest recipes and easiest shapes and focusing on my technique, checking at every stage to make sure the texture of my dough matched the descriptions I would read in The Pasta Bible or the fantastic Cooking By Hand by Paul Bertolli.

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Pork and Chicken Liver Pâté

It’s long past New Year’s and I’m not into resolutions, but I was inspired over the holidays to try my hand at more charcuterie and I’ve decided that trend will continue into 2019 as part of my weekend kitchen routine. The sausages we made over the break (more on that in a bit) were not the first bit of salted meat I attempted and my first foray into this exciting new realm of grinders and guts was quite a hit at our holiday table.

Call it pâté, terrine or fancy meatloaf the concept of salted, pressed, finely ground fat, flesh and offal that is shaped into a mold then slow cooked and served cold is about as old as the concept of “cuisine” itself. If you didn’t pick up the accent, this dish is French, unapologetically oldschool French in the same way that quail with grapes or veal tripe in white sauce is. The process has been streamlined since the days of Grandfather Escoffier, but it’s still got that that slightly fussy way about it that both makes it a joy to execute and a hell of a story for your guests when you drop it on the table.

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Canning Cabbage Part 2 – Sauerkraut

A full three quarters of a mightily dense cabbage head remains in the fridge so my Mason jar odyssey continues. First came the Korean kimchee, then the Mexican curtido and now I’m going to finish off this great green beast by hacking it up, salting and fermenting it as a classic Northern European sauerkraut.

Now what we in America refer to with the blanket term of “sauerkraut” actually is part of a great Germanic-Scandanavian tradition of fermenting vegetables to keep during hard times thought to have originated in the Eurasian Steppes and spread by marauding tribes such as the Huns, Tartars and Mongols. Nowadays the name is synonymous with Germany, its culture and culinary traditions. (more…)

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Canning Cabbage Part 1 – Curtido

I found another post-Halloween head in my fridge. Unlike last time this particular head was never part of a large fish, it was pulled from the loamy back yard of my friends ‘n co-workers Cara and Karlee and gifted to me. It is a head of cabbage, and it’s not alone. I still had half a head in there from our last trip to the Willows Market. That’s over ten pounds of cabbage total!

Now I’m more used to cooking with members of the Chinese cabbage family, which are on average much more delicate, sweet and melt away at the hint of heat and salt. I can steam or stir fry pretty much any Choy in big chunks, but not so with these two bowling balls… These Celtic cabbages need to be sliced super fine and require time ‘n technique to get ‘em soft ‘n sweet. (more…)

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Beef Stew!

[This is a very special guest recipe that my good buddy, fellow cook and hilarious Podcaster Jess shared way back in October of 2016 for our now-defunct Brotherhood of Bacon website. Though that concept now lies in the ditch of the information superhighway it produced this great recipe, one that I followed last night with phenomenal results! It’s the perfect one-pot-wonder to cook on a chilly Autumn night.]

Hey there, I’ve recently moved! Therefore I get the fantastic task of building a new kitchen from the ground up! (I discovered I didn’t have much in the way of essentials) So here’s a guide to one of the first recipes I cranked out in my new tiny kitchen wonderland! I’m a big fan of soups, stews, curries, or anything that sits on the stove top for a while, they warm the house up, and makes it seem like you’ve done more work than you actually have.

OH! It also makes your house smell great too! Now, one day, I’ll figure out how to put pictures up with these word, but until then I want you all to imagine the food in your mind. It will be fun! I promise. (more…)

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