Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pickled Eggs

I have been pickling a dozen eggs every few weeks, with some seriously engaging effects. I guess growing up in New Jersey, they weren't one of those things I saw on a regular basis, or ever, but they are quite addictive. The recent batch is flavored with fenugreek, coriander, cinnamon, fresh bay leaves and myrtle. The key is to use whole spices rather than powdered or the whole thing gets cloudy and unappetizing. Pictured here are one of the more gorgeous experiments, with quail eggs. You can see the ingredients below: aged pu-erh, black cardamom, juniper, long pepper, licorice, star anise and grains of paradise.

You basically just boil eggs until barely hard and either crack them up gently for this mottled effect, or peel entirely. Then heat the spices gently in a dry skillet and add to the hot water in which you boiled the eggs. About a quart. Add two tablespoons of salt, a cup of vinegar. And put them in a glass jar on the countertop. Untraditional, I admit, but they still seem to taste better if Flatt and Scruggs are playing while you make them.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Duck Season

The scenario is now familiar, so too the modus operandi and dramatis personae. First I get a call from Christine. An hour later she shows up bearing some species of wild animal, which is then cleaned and dressed, as hoodies start showing up to help. A lot of bourbon passes lips and suddenly the whole neighborhood is crammed into the kitchen eating directly from the pans. I would have it no other way.

If I had planned for a minute there would ahve been something to go with it, but nope, just ducks. Ten of them. Ranging in size from a mere fistful to barely game hen. My first thought was panic. I tried calling Hank, expert in all things wild duck, but no answer. Are they widgeon, widget, teal? So we decided to "wing" it. They were actually very easy to pluck. Just as easy to eviscerate. A few I took apart to cure, then a few breasts and legs went immediately into a pan with rendered fat, and they were very fat. Everyone agreed this was the best, just barely pink. Some were roasted, some pan sauteed and chopped crosswise as Chinese chefs do. They were frankly delicious, dripping with fat, as fresh as food gets.

So sweet little ducks, we thank you. We thank the person who brought you down, and she who brought you over, and those who brought you to the kitchen cleaned, and those whose gullets you graced.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bartolomeo Scappi Dinner 1570

Yesterday I cooked for a benefit, directly from Scappi's Opera. Pictured here is the first cold antipasti course, a not untypical 16th c. starter: my olives and salami, a fennel salad, and my first mozarella (made from raw milk). I saw someone doing the whole pasta filata trick and thought, I can do that. My hands are still tingling - ouch. It went with my sourdough nicely. The second course was a minestra di foglie di rape (II:205) followed by a charming subtlety of sausages made from trout (III:153). The process was wacky, chopped trout into casings, poached in red wine, smoked for an hour and finally sauteed. They looked exactly like pork sausages, so I served them with my fresh sauerkraut and a pickled lady apple. I think Scappi would have approved the nod northward. The main course was a petto della Vitella mongana (II:34) braised in a clay pot in the oven for about 8 hours with prunes, cherries and a riot of spices. It was dizzyingly unctuous and went so well on bright yellow saffron and rose scented rice. A simpler apple pie to end. In all not a very expensive meal, but in terms of man-hours, an absurdity. Scappi had an army of cooks in the Papal kitchens and we are beginning to understand why.

Monday, December 7, 2009

(Mother) Hubbard Squash

You don't get a sense of the scale of this mother unless you look at the teapots on the shelf below. It was so big and gnarly that few people believed it was real. The smaller part fits nicely on my head. What you see is the squash bissected, scraped out and left to dry. Our friend Jean, a plant breeder, brought it on Thanksgiving, so I can believe it is a prodigy. The second shot, you can see what became of her. And I still have several buckets of cooked down squash - I can see soup on the horizon. Perhaps pie.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Gobble Gobble

Having left me camerade at work, I have no pictures to offer. Intent on the utterly traditional Thanksgiving, as always, I made a detour in NOT using anything prepackaged, canned or frozen. An unusual challenge as it turned out. Who ever realized that I was using Il Fornaio bread and canned Swanson broth for stuffing?? I have now. So it was my own wild yeast bread and a 12 hour turkey (NOT chicken) broth. If it hadn't burned on the bottom, I would be reeling still.

The experiment that truly worked, however, was a turkey. Let me offer details. Take out the backbone and rib cage entirely so have two lobes and legs and wings still attached. Put this into a big bag designed for brining, but no, we shall not brine. We cure. Salt, sugar, spices, and nitrites, oh! A few tablespoons of each. With bay leaves and rosemary. For a full 10 days, while I was away. No liquid at all. Then truss into a compact shape with string and smoke, over grape cuttings, lemon and oak, in this case for about 8 hours. And it is an actual TURKEY HAM. Succulent, sweet and smokey after the blackened skin in removed. Served cold, and remarkably wondrous. Better than the other turkey right beside him.

The rest is a blurr, which must be a good thing, though it was two days in the kitchen. Don Christobal and I made a real meat micemeat with suet raised crust, which was the best thing on the table. Add about 100 pounds more food and you will get the idea for 20 something people. And there is still a case or more of wine. O povero mio!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Braised Lamb Shanks

The torrential rains have hit early this year. It makes me want to work, which is good since the copyedited Lost Art of Real Cooking has arrived for corrections. As you may have noticed I have begun to remove posts here, those which will appear in the book. Alas. Without forethought I somehow find myself exactly where I was a year ago when starting the book with Rosanna, putting up pickles and olives, making a new sourdough starter, craving long braised flesh.
Thus I was led to this simple dish: lamb shanks lightly browned, placed in a casserole with fresh rosemary and bay leaves, tomatoes and a whole bottle of Inkblot Cabernet Franc. What inspired such profligacy I wont venture to guess. Gently baked about 5 hours, without the slightest stir or nudge lest it fly asunder and be smashed to atoms. It took the gentlest cradling merely to move it from casserole to plate. Thereafter it need only be spooned into the mouth. UNCTION.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


What a delightful thing to come home to after three weeks. Have you ever seen such a beautiful pancetta? I just happened to take a peek in the cave to see what was happening. A simply butterflied, rolled and bound pork belly, cured with bay and juniper, smoked for an hour or so, and left undisturbed while I was gone. I fried it up. And it disappeard immediately. Bless the Gods of Nitrate.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Was ist das?

Today I was playing around with sausage. I really wanted to do a Braunschweiger. Who knew pork liver would be impossible to find? I'll have to try an Asian market. In the meantime, I made a lot of coarsely chopped lamb sausages, still curing with garlic, rosemary and such. But for kicks I tried a weisswurst, bockwurst, I don't know what to call it, as usual. It's all veal, finely pounded, with juniper and pepper. It's being steamed over Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA. I may lightly smoke it next. Jane Grigson suggested such weirdness for a saucission de foie, so who knows? The white one is about a half pound. And the little one is lamb, just to see what would happen with the same technique. They smell really great. Maybe dinner, who can wait?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Pate de Campagne?

I have to admit, I was not sure what this would be when I started. And I'm still not sure. A souse, coppa di testa, sulze. Not really, those are all set in gelatin. Nor really a pate, because it isn't smooth and spreadable. Not that a pate de campagne should be. So there it is. And have to admit, this solid toothsome version is much more interesting than the cream-laden versions one normally sees, covered in bacon. If you want bacon, eat bacon. This one is actually cured pork. Very simply seasoned.
SO, I offer you a recipe! In standard format. Ah me. But technique IS antiquated.
2.5 lbs of boneless pork shoulder, or 4 fatty country ribs.
2 tbs salt
1 tsp coarsely ground pepper
1 tsp thyme or other herb you like, esp. juniper
1 good pinch instacure #1 (pink curing salt)
3 ice cubes
Coarsely chop the pork and pork fat into small nubbins. Add the seasonings. Mix and put in the fridge for 5 days to cure. Then put the mixture into a large mortar and pound the hell out if it for about 15 minutes. Throw in the ice cubes as you go. This is a GREAT upper body workout. I suspect if you kept going with this you would have a smooth bologna. The mixture is very much a sausage mix, with darker, lighter and white fat in a suspension but still separate, which would not work in a grinder or processor. If you have a large beef bung I would stuff it in there. I used a large round porcelain ramekin. Cover it with plastic wrap, and place in a steamer. Steam gently for 40 minutes. Cool and refrigerate at least 24 hours. Slice and serve with mustard, good rye (which I baked yesterday) and cornichons - which alas I had not. You can also slice this very thinly and make sandwiches. The next time I do this I am going to pour in a glug of cognac, or maybe vinegar. Gin would be lovely too.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bear Ham

Last week the fridge was rumbling and groaning something awful. So before calling the Sear's Repairman, I thought I'd take a peek at her. Well, of course, the freezer is packed to the gills. No wonder she can't breathe. So I decided to CLEAN THE FREEZER. There are few things so frightening in this world or the next. A few chicken carcasses here, a big bone of who knows what there, some fugitive pates and tupperwaresful of God knows what leftover muck. Tossed it all. And then, what dost mine eyes behold? The lower half of the bear's leg that I sawed off and froze some months ago!

When life gives you a bear's lower leg? Make ham. So I cured this with salt, brownsugar, nitrites, some warm slices like clove. Left it for a week in the fridge and gave it a two hour cold smoke on mesquite just now. And I am HOPING, beyond all hope, that a few weeks in the cellar will dry it out and make it a proper ham.

Did I dream that there was such a thing as bear ham?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ant Elope

I have finally begun experiments and writing the last section of the antiquated cookbook on curing meats. I was hell bent on making my own saltpeter, and may yet if I have the pluck to scrape crystals from a pile of manure and use them for food. Then I thought of buying pure potassium nitrate, which is sold both by chemical companies and witchcraft websites. Seriously, for use in spells to calm the ardor of an errant male lover. For the moment I think it should be instacure so maybe readers will be able to follow. My first pastrami we ate this week and it was heavenly - cured, smoked and steamed - but brownish for the lack of nitrates. I'll try it again, though why it has to be red, I'm not sure.

What you see here is not cured, but first a filet of antelope brought to me from out of the blue by the goddess of game. Apparently from Wyoming and fed upon wheat gleanings. They were just lightly browned in butter with a dash of maderia for a pan sauce. And antelope meatballs made from an unidentifiable cut, below. I still have another hunk and was considering corning it following Hank's directions, but I don't think it's anything even vaguely brisketish. Nor have I gotten my package of instacure yet. So who knows? Maybe a fresh sausage.

In the meantime, Happy Pesach. And to close, my recipe for matzoh brie as I only I make it.
Take 2 pieces of egg matzoh and break up into small pieces. Soak in milk for about 5 minutes and drain. Add two eggs, some roughly torn turkey - I told you no one makes it this way - some capers, whole grain mustard, tarragon and bits of cheese (either mozarella or something like swiss). Then scramble in a pan with butter. Who ever tells you it should be a solid pancake shape is an unredeemable heathen. You want to cook it so each piece is separate, and dry and the cheese melted and browned. Then put it in a bowl and eat with chopsticks. I dare you, it is fabulous!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

100 Recipes Challenge

UPDATE UPDATE! FOUR YEARS LATER! This book wins the GOurmand WOrld Cokbook Awards Best Foreign Cuisine Book in the World. Patience is All. March 2013.

UPDATE: Since many people seem to be looking at this post lately, I thought I'd update. After sitting on the shelf for a few years, I took this texbook to another publisher. (Altamira, now with the title THREE WORLD CUISINES) But that meant I had to do ALL the recipes myself. Happy to say I have just finished them. Not exactly the list I envisioned over 2 years ago, but close. Nor is it 300 recipes either. The majority I've either done many times or have tested in the past months. Keep your eye out spring 2012.

Recently I was given a challenge, well really an assignment, to come up with 100 of the most important recipes from three of the major world cuisines. It's for a textbook for the CIA. The other CIA, exactly. To be called, of course, World Cuisines. I wrote the text, last year, and am now revising bits here and there. The CIA is doing the recipes, but asked me to come up with lists that will match the text.

Italy took me all of yesterday morning, but wasn't too difficult. I picked my favorites. Mexico I did today, and it was much harder. Took me maybe 6 hours or so. And of course I had to browse through cookbooks to jolt my memory. But still fell short of 100. Here's China, done this morning.

If anyone has any further suggestions, I will be happy to take them, and will even thank you in the book! Here's what I have so far in no order whatsoever, nor punctuated.


lasagna al forno vitello tonnato caponata tortellini in brodo ragù Bolognese pesto Genovese polpettone porchetta ribollita sugo di anatra cotoletta Milanese calamari fritti pizza Margherita
bruscetta/crostini carpaccio stracotto di vitello frittata torta pasqualina focaccia gnocchi di patata polenta tortelli di zucca risotto pollo alla cacciatore ravioli pasticcio di maccheroni bagna cauda
zuppa Pavese supplì al telefono pizzocheri della Valtellina (buckwheat) tagliatelle fagioli all’ucelletto spaghetti carbonara carciofi all Guidia battuta spaghetti con le vongole farinata
cippoline marinate finocchi salad ucelli arrosto insalata Caprese lattuga ripiena melanzane ripiena radicchio al forno fiore di zucchine fritti baccalà all Vicentina pesce spada in umido sardine alla griglia cacciuco anguilla ai ferri scampi fritto misto agnello scottaditto tonno alla marinara (tomato and olives) arista (pork loin) bistecca Fiorentina osso buco saltimboca cotechino bollito misto passatelli insalata di mare grissini Torinesi triglie al cartoccio frico con patata strangolapreti filetto alla Rossini Pesce in saor fegato alla Veneziana Rise e bisi canederli (dumplings) bomba di risa alla Piacentina papardelle sull la lepre fagioli al fiasco bucatini all’Amatriciana fave al guanciale panzanella farsumagru zabaglione funghi trifolati sbrisolona
mostaccioli biscotti tiramisù trippa alla Romana torrone stracciatelle taralli zucchini ripiene
coppa di testa granita pandoro/pannetone amaretti canoli ossi dei morti mostarda di frutta
cotognata (quince)


masa for tortillas tacos de Res (beef) pico de gallo chilaquiles salsa of tomatillos (mole verde)
totopos (chips) guacamole cochinita pibil quesadillas quesadillas con huitlacoche nopalitos
burritos (flour tortillas) chimichangas (fried) menudo carnitas (pork) pollo encacahautado (peanut sauce) mole de almendras segueza (stewed rabbit and corn) pozole gorditas de chili con queso churros chocolate atole mixiotes (chicken wrapped in maguey leaves or banana, steamed)
buñuelos sopaipillas camarones al mojo de ajo pepitas tamales de puerco tamales con queso
carne asada escabeche (fish) ceviche (raw) cabrito (barbacoa) aquas frescas (jamaica, limón)
capirotada papas y chorizo picadillo (gr. beef w/ raisins, olives, almonds) semitas (rolls)
arroz con pollo arroz rojo huevos revueltos con chorizo mole poblano con guajalote (turkey)
frijoles en olla frijioles refritos chicarrónes sopa de tortilla empanadas enchiladas verdes chalupas with shredded chicken chili relleños sopes verdolagas (purslane) for tacos lengua estofado for tacos albóndigas chalupas Poblanas (masa canoes) fajitas sopa de lima (Yucatan) flan margaritas
sopa de fideos pan dulce chapulines (fried grasshoppers) papadzules (tortilla w/ egg and pumpkin seed sauce) birria (stew w/ pork or beef, chilies) horchata adobo de achiote flautas
chayote con rajas y elote pipián verde w/fish empanadas de platanos quelites (sauteed) calabacitas con chiles verdes jicama w/ chili and lime huevos rancheros sopa Xochitl (squash blossoms) enchiladas verdes de mariscos red snapper veracruzano (huachinango?) ropa vieja
tres leches cake pan de muerto turron de Alicante esquites (corn on cob) caldo Tlapeño (Jalisco)
champurrado (chocolate atole) rosca de reyes huraches (stuffed cactus)


baozi and mantou xiaolongbao steamed pork dumpling from Shanghai wonton soup Chao Mian (fried noodles) la mian (pulled noodles) fan (rice steamed) Fried Rice (Chao fan) Peking Duck (Beijing Op) and panckaes (Bok Bang) Tea Smoked Duck (zhang cha ya zi) Kung Pao Shrimp (Kung Pao Ming Har) Kung Pao Chicken (gong bao ji ding) Drunken Chicken (Joi Gai) (Zoy Gai)
Moon Cakes Tai Bai chicken (tai bai ji) Chinese Broccoli, stir fried Ma Po Doufu Mu Shu Pork (Muk See Yuk) Red Cooked Pork (Jau Yau Tai Pong) (hong shao rou) Sichuan Beef (Chau Ngau Yuk) Fried Whole Red Snapper Buddha’s Delight Shark Fin Soup Sichuan Hotpot (si chuan huo guo) Beggar’s Chicken (Hot Yee Gai) Jook/Congee Spare Ribs (Siu Pai Guat) Hangzhou Braised Pork Belly (Kau Yuk) Jellyfish (Hoi Jit Pei) Shrimp Ha Gau Dumplings Pork Siu Mai Dumplings
Glutinous Rice Dumplings with pork (Tong Yuen) 1000 Year Old Eggs Steamed Egg Custard
Stir Fried Asparagus with Shrimp (Lo Suun Chow Ha) Claypot Braised Seafood Rice Bundles (Hom Zoong) Bok Choy stir fried spring rolls fung jau (chicken feet) loh bak goh (turnip cake dim sum) scallion pancakes Lion’s Head Meatballs (See Ji Tau) Winter Melon Soup Hot and Sour Soup West Lake Fish (Carp from Hangzhou) Sweet Red Bean Soup Braised Abalone (Bau Yue)
Sesame Balls (w/ glutinous rice flour and bean paste) Sweet and Sour fish Salt Baked Chicken
Lemon Chicken Beef with Oyster Sauce Fermented Bean Curd with Greens Yard Long Beans Double Cooked (Sichuan) Singapore Noodles (rice) Ants Climbing Trees (Sichuan) ma yi shang shu Wheat Noodle Soup (Char Siu) Gai Seung Tong (Chicken Stock) Bamboo Shoots with Pork
Stir Fried Egg and Tomatoes (Fan Qie Chao Dan) Mao-Style Red Cooked Pork from Hunan
Twice Cooked Pork (Hui Guo Rou) Stir Fried Water Spinach (Chao Kong Xin Cai) Guo Tiao (Fried crullers) pickled vegetables (si chuan pao cai) dan dan noodles (dan dan mian)
pot stickers (ji zhi guo tie) bang bang chicken (guai wei ji si or bang bang ji si) deep fried peanuts (you su hua ren) Tofu with fish fragrance (yu xiang dou fu) Cross the Bridge Rice Noodles (Yunnan) Bai Yun Zhu Shou (White Cloud pig’s feet) Lao Po Bing (Lo Por Bang) Winter Melon Pastry Shanghai Wine Chicken Peking Beef Heng Yang Spicy Scallops

Monday, March 23, 2009

Langer's Pastrami

This is not exactly a charming neighborhood, but I was committed to tasting what has been touted as the best pastrami in the country during my recent trip to LA. All, of course as a prelude to making my own pastrami. My pals Andrew and Damon facilitated the pilgrimage.

The interior, as you can see is vintage 1975. The real thing, not touted up or reinvented. The waitstaff were original (see upper left), the banquettes, plastic coated menu, and even the nice Jewish man who took this picture for us. He self identified as such, even though I suspected he was paid to sit there to lend authenticity. We tried the brisket, corned beef w/ sauerkraut and the famed pastrami. Fries came with, and I had a cream soda.

Here is the sandwich, drawn and quartered. The coleslaw, I must admit, threw me a bit, and I think it would have been better without it. The pickles were a little younger and tamer than I like. And the whole maybe a little too soft and yeilding.

Here I am scrutinizing he contents. I have to admit, on it's own it is quite possibly the best pastrami in the country. Maybe the universe. But I saw no Martians.

Ok, it was indeed pretty damned amazing. But here is what I intend to do differently. I'm not sure if the meat was smoked or not, but I think it should be. This was not terribly different from the corned beef, which as a sandwich was actually superior. I am a toast freak, and I love sauerkraut. So that's what make that sandwich work. But if you took pastrami, on toasted rye, a little more sour and not so soft, and left off the cole slaw, added mustard instead. Nothing else. Then I think it could rank up there among the celestial blessed sandwiches. Samachisa bootifa, samachisa fine, I like samachis, I eat them all the time. I eat them for my dinner.
Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Food Culture of Pets

I got to thinking just now, after reading a little facebook message from Warren Belasco about how his pets might influence his writing habits. Interesting idea. Sure, typing accidents. Random inspiration. Then I came home. Sadie asked me for dried Japanese Cuttle Fish. Seriously. She asks for it in Japanese. Since I don't speak Japanese I assume she's saying it correctly. Mi'aou-ah. I shared.

But this then got me seriously thinking. This here is Ray Bolger. When he was a kitten, he looked just like the Scarecrow, danced well too. He came into my house, started eating then and hasn't stopped since. But take a look at what this beast is doing.

He actually scoops his food from the bowl. Messily, we admit, but usually lands it right into the water bowl. Leaves it there for about 10 seconds, decides that it's soaked enough, and deftly scoops it out with his paw and puts it daintily in his mouth.

Unlike the other cats, he eats nothing but this. And has a such a strange ritual that no one could possibly have taught him, I think we should seriously be thinking about food culture beyond the parameters of our own species. Obviously, he shares this with no one, but decided on his own weird preference, and insists on dunking. And has become masterful at it. Don't you find this perplexingly thought-provoking? We assume society gives us our eating habits, but here is something he shares with no other cat or human in the house, and figured it out on his own.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I'm currently writing a paper for the Renaissance Society conference next week about 3 cookbooks from the 1540s and the mutual influence among Italy, France and England. Anyway, I came aross this recipe that appears virtually the same in two of them called variously soupe capilorde or suppa di capirotta. Both are ultimately versions of an older Spanish dish called Capirotada. But it just dawned on me as I was writing that this is a version of the souped up (literally) grilled cheese ideas that have been floating around lately among food bloggers. Except this one is literally floating around.

Just try to imagine this. Roasted capon breast taken off the bone and shredded. Think leftover chicken here. Then take slices of good toast and fry them until crisp and brown. Then take a bowl and put down a "sop" of the bread, cover with some chicken, some cheese and a whole mess of spices. Especially cinnamon, some sugar and ginger. More IS better. And make layer after layer of these ingedients. Then pour good broth over it into the bowl. A floating chicken grilled cheese sandwich. I think I may just have to make this tonight.

Oh, and if you're wondering, yes, it's descendant is the capirotada of Mexico, a sweet cheesy bread pudding. And incidentally I have seen baroque recipes for this that are also then baked so the cheese all melts and the bread really soaks it up, and then it's garnished with cockscombs, testicles, circles of marrow, ambergris, gooseberries.

"Lambs and slothes and carp and fruitbats and orangutans and breakfast cereals.... skip a bit brother." Who can name the source of that feast?

Thursday, February 26, 2009


There are some words which should just be stricken from the English language. This one tops my list. Conjure the image now. There is someone squatting over the stockpot while it gently simmers. Little dumps. Float to the top, and they're ready.

So, I propose, as with so many other words, that we invent them anew. Borrowing from other languages if necessary. The Dutch in this instance could lend us the word turdkin. Isn't that cute? Or the French with a hearty crapette. Deux crapettes sur la plate, avec du beurre et persillade. Doesn't that sound savory? Or why not the Italians who give us parmesan-laced poopini. I can see them now in the refrigerator section of your favorite grocery. Poopini Puttanesca. Or how about German Scheißbollchen mit Speck und Kraut. Now if I could remember the dimuntive in Russian correctly.... Шицники (Shitsniki)?

Someone help me here.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

This little piggie went to market

Ave porcina, herbarum plena, cocta pro nobis!
How this came to pass I can't quite say. Christine asks if I'd like to cook, and next thing I know there a little piggie in the backyard, with the sweetest face. Christine tells me the farm was lovely and the pigs ran around very happily.
Alas, she did not fit on my spit, and too long for the fireplace. Nor was there enough time to dig a pit. So it had to be the oven. And she filled the entire space. Not so little of piggie, over 30 pounds!
I marinated her in lime, chilies, onion, cilantro and cumin. And a beer. Then just popped her in the oven for about 4 hours. And the flavor was truly surprising. Delicate, light. More like turkey than any pork I've tasted. Good, unctuous and moist turkey. But definitely a white meat. The skin was crackly too, yummy crunchy ears, and I even got some tail.
And the company, as always, marvellous. The Hoodies polished off maybe half. Any ideas for leftovers? I wonder if the head can be made into testa after roasting.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I think canapes are utterly underrated. A variety of savories such as these could make up a whole meal. These are crispy squares of polenta, with sauteed broccoli rabe (my favorite vegetable), grated parmiggiano topped with freshly smoked scallops. Worked very nicely because just the right combination of crisp and toothsome and chewy. And just a few bites in each.

It was the starter to a meal that got a bit out of hand, not in terms of taste, but in time spent in the kitchen. It was worth it. A whole wheat and flax seed bread, a roasted veg medley of parsnips, yellow beets, fennel and shallots. And a bizarre chicken experiment that tasted utterly luscious, but didn't quite look as I wanted it yet. Basically it was two chickens skinned, then completely boned, the meat seasoned and rewrapped in the skins so it looks like one chicken, but is solid and boneless. It was really bizarre cutting through actually. Oh, and the bones were made into a nice stock. It's the solution for how to get everything out a chicken at once. The only problem thus far is without bones it has no internal structure to keep it chicken shaped. So it looked like a flattened chicken. With 4 wings!

Then to top it off our friends brought 9, yes 9, ducks. Tiny little things. Which I hacked Chinese style across the breast with the bone in, into 3 or 4 pieces, and threw on the fire, a few others into a pot to see what would happen. Actually I think they all over cooked a bit. Tought and a little livery. But I have two left. If anyone has experience cooking a teeny wild duck, please let me know. I'm assuming it really should be very rare, but I've never cooked wild ducks before.

A lovely apple pie to end. Whole wheat pastry flour crust, green pippins with cranberries and walnuts. It was fab. And now I'm exhausted.