Beautiful Things : Notes From the NVICA Charcuterie Workshop

My father told me once that there are three things in life that we must do: Work hard, be honest and make beautiful things” With these words John Van Der Lieck plunged his hands into a dark, shimmering paste of pork liver to the reverent, nodding ascent of a roomful of chefs.

We were in the spacious commercial kitchen of North Island College’s Culinary Arts department for the NVICA Charcuterie Workshop; a two-day journey through the world of salting, curing, pressing and preserving meats. There were twenty or so of us foodservice pros gathered around John as he guided us from whole hog (literally!) to finished product and every critical step in between. (more…)

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Smoked Trout, Two Ways

Holidays are the balm of body and mind. It’s been a couple days into our long-awaited stay-cation and I’m already starting to feel my soul regenerating and plotting future adventures just like the hedonistic super villain I remember myself to be.

Ironically, one of the first recipes I got to work on between mountain biking trips was a banger I perfected at work. A sublimely simple way to take trout – a tasty and plentiful local river fish – clean up its mealy texture and enhance the profound sweetness buried deep inside. (more…)

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Sesame-Pickled Burdock Root

New ingredients are like amphetamines for kitchen creativity. From the moment I get home from a farmer’s market or an afternoon of foraging or hell, just back from a regular ‘ol grocery shopping run I’m jacked up! What is this crazy looking-stuff? Where did it come from? How do I process it and what can I do with all the bits? My mind is vibrating in a million different directions at once!

Last week I got a hold of some burdock root at the market in Courtenay and had just such a moment. These rough-looking tubers looked more like something dug out of a cat box than anything I’d serve for dinner, but The lady I bought ‘em from was insistent that they were a delicious spring delicacy! So yeah, I got ‘em home, mind ablaze and immediately starting hunting through my cookbooks for more info. (more…)

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Duck Prosciutto

My two greatest culinary passions are a) methods of preserving food- the simpler and more flavourful the better – and b) duck! The former being a tether to the distant past when salting and fermenting meant survival for crafty cooks and the latter being the tastiest damn animal know to man.

Now I know I’ve already done a ton of duck recipes, including the great-granddaddy of all preserved duck dishes: confit du canard, but bear with me one more time ‘cause this one’s a keeper. It’s a technique for preserving breasts that results in a semi-cured, dense and beautifully salty-sweet taste reminiscent of prosciutto de parma.  It’s dead-easy and a great entry-level way to get into more serious charcuterie. (more…)

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Radish Kimchee

radish-kimcheeEveryone I know has been hiding from the snow (we got a foot and a half! Wtf!?) and pre-Christmas congestion in their kitchens, baking cookies into festive shapes and filling the world with the often-neglected scent of nutmeg. I on the other hand, leave the sweet stuff to Crystal and have spent the last couple weeks pickling and preserving whatever herbs and veg the weather didn’t manage to wipe out.

Its slim pickings… If we were legit homesteaders we’d starve this winter *laughs* I’ve got a handful of radishes left from my mid-August sowing in the ‘ol Zen garden, some chard and a couple knobbly carrots. I’m thinking the chard will get eaten right away while the radishes ‘n carrots will live on, packed into mason jars and swimming in Korean chillies.

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