Friday, August 27, 2010

Shall We Play Barley Break?

Fa la la, la la, Say dainty nymphs? No, none of those. But I did have some lovely red barley I've been playing with lately. Whole grains. Partly inspired by picking tender grains of barley, rye, oats, wheat, etc. in Finland last week. And discussing these very same in class today.
So why do people say you need wheat to make bread? This is about 80 percent barley, and the rest sourdough wheat starter. Rose nicely, though dense, and quite pungently sour. But this is SUCH luscious bread. Exactly what I was looking for.
And here's the weirdest part. I have no grain mill. Someday I want a rotary hand quern. Anyone know where to get one, has to be stone, please let me know. I never really wanted an electric flour mill - that's the only reason I still don't own one.
So I soaked the barley for a few days and hand ground the grains in my big stone mortar. No big deal. Not gritty in the least. I wonder why people in the past without mills didn't do this. Much easier than dry grains. And of course with corn in MesoAmerica, this is exactly what they did. Why is there no wet milling for bread in the West??? I am perplexed.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Makes the heart grow fonder. Or was that Absinthe? Well, I hope you will excuse my recent sojourn. I was in Finland. Feasting on unfathomably rich rye bread, smoked eels that can only have descended vertically from the heavens, and reindeer tongue and liver. The food was marvellous. Koskenkorva is what we need to start importing, soon. Yxi, Kaxi, Kolme.

But what strange delight upon my return to find oddments left behind. What was I thinking?? What is this anyway? There were pickles agog. Bubbling tubs of unidenifyable vegetation. Why didn't I write anything down?

Well, as it turns out, here were two bizarre experiments that I suppose I didn't expect to work, but did. The first is a sausage not in a casing but in parchment. Lamb, spices, hunks of fat. It dried out quite a bit, but thinly sliced is quite fetching. I expect not that different from the same mixture in a sausage casing.

Then this mess. Would you believe a short cut hash? One pound of stew meat chopped finely and thrown into a ziplock with the cure, in the fridge of course. Two weeks. I honestly forgot about it entirely. It emerged sweet smelling. So I tossed it in a pan. See how it stayed red? Added herbs and a little mustard powder. And a really lovely hash. I'd throw it in eggs, or with some potatoes and onions. Maybe even a steamed bun. Very lean and crumbly, but definitely the taste of corned beast without the hassle. Try it, you'll like it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

German Salami

Folks, If you happen to be in the Bay Area tonight around 7:00, there's a signing/tasting at A Great Good Place for Books in Montclair, just above Oakland and Berkeley. And yes, I shall be serving this gorgeousness. I had to taste it first right? Along with some nice sour caraway rye. And pickles. Thinking Germany I guess.
Here's how I made it: Take one pound of beef round. I suppose you could start with ground beef too. Then beat the living daylights out of your meat - in a capacious mortar. The only way to get this fine texture. Add a clove of garlic, salt, pepper, the tiniest smidgen of instacure #1 and a little fine sugar. Keep pounding. Put in a medium width beef bung. Hang in a cool place. Wait three days. Then smoke gently over applewood for about an hour. Hang for another 2 weeks, or until desired stiffness. This is one of the tastiest salamis I have ever made, and I think maybe the second I have ever made of beef. Give it a shot.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Nostalgia: Chicken Pot Pie RECIPE

I recall fondly eating Chicken Pot, Chicken Pot, Chicken Pot Pie . Swanson's I imagine, the same company that brought us wonders like Chicken a la King (read 2010, proto sous vide) And chicken noodle soup for lunch in my Snoopy thermos. I don't think there were nuggets, fingers or any other like part then. But it was good, even if utterly false.
But for some reason, I think I blame a recent trip to Hampton Court, I needed a savory pie. Here's the beast. And unlike my usual custom, I shall offer you a recipe, if you can deal without a list of ingredients (which I think is only made for dumb people who cant read through a recipe before cooking.) Nore measurements. Use what you have, right? Does it REALLY matter?
Start with cooked chicken. Any old kind. I had smoked chicken I made the other day, two breasts removed from the bones and skin and chopped into dice sized bits. Set aside.
Then sautee in butter a mix of vegs: first shallots, then add one rib celery, one carrot, one parsnip. You know what to do with them. Then one ear of corn, cut off the cob. Add the chicken, a tablespoon flour, cook, a cup of chicken stock, a cup of white wine. Reduce until slightly thickened. Add chicken. Peas. Put all this into a bowl.
Make a dough, a stick of butter, flour, cold water, roll out, etc. You know how to do this. Put on the pie, bake for about 45 minutes to one hour until crust is lovely. Eat it up. Sing the song.
Ask me a question and I'll tell you why. Cottleston Pie?
You can see I already started eating this before I grabbed the camera!