Baking recipes, Charcuterie

making dry cured pork loin (lonzino) – video!

October 1, 2010

Something a little different today folks. A full on video post. Well, almost full on. I recently put a pork loin in to cure, and air dry and thought it might be rather fun to video the making of it. Turns out it was fun, and I now feel the need to inflict the video on every reader of this blog (hi Mum!).

Lonzino is really pretty simple. A section of pork loin that has cured in salt and herbs, and then is left to dry hang until ready – normally about a month. To make things far less boring, I tend to case all of my whole muscle cuts now – so you get to watch me try and force a big piece of meat into a small casing (no jokes please..). The reason to case is that it slows down the drying process, and also helps prevent the exterior of the meat drying out too much – so you get nice even dryness across a slice.

Click to see the video of me stuffing meat in to a casing!!

lunch, vegetables

rustic modern sofrito

September 19, 2010

I had this post almost typed up and for some reason WordPress thought it would be funny not to save it. Quite frankly, and being honest with myself, that isn’t such a bad thing – it was a little dry. Lets see if it, like everything else, is better the second time around..

Sofrito is a very slow cooked mixture of finely chopped tomatoes, onions and garlic. This all gets slowly cooked in olive oil until reduced, caramelized and very flavorful. Bell peppers are often added in to the mix as well – but a classic sofrito is just those aromatics mentioned above.

The last time I did a sofrito was about this time a year ago and it took for bloody ever. The whole deal took about 5 hours – course most of that was cooking and drinking time, which is never all that bad – but it took a while. Typically sofrito is used as a rich flavoring component, and not something featured on its own. Last year I used it in a halibut and bean recipe, which was one of my more favorite things I have ever cooked. Honestly, that is most likely because of the sofrito, and after cooking it for so long I was sure as heck gonna enjoy it.

So once again fate happened, and I ended up with a bunch of tomatoes and bell peppers, wondering what to do with them. I thought of sofrito again – the first time in a while. Then I hit myself in the head with a pan, just for thinking of a building block that takes ages to make given my hectic schedule. Now, I never like to let a pan get the better of me, so I started thinking of sofrito again – this time out in the garden, away from anything I could bludgeon myself with.

Click to get this sofrito recipe and see more pictures!

Seafood Recipes

Herb and oil poached fish

September 7, 2010

Some things automatically go against the grain. Dumping two bottles of half decent olive oil in to a pan, and then loading it up with fish and herbs for instance. However, 20 minutes later and it all becomes understandable. Tender, flaky moist fish with such a delicate flavor and texture. If you get it right, the fish just quivers as you carry the plate to the table. This to me is the very exciting sign of a perfectly cooked piece of fish. It can seem like you don’t even need to touch it with a fork, merely just get it close, to see it flake in to pieces. Each bite yields perfectly cooked fish throughout, with subtle flavors pulled from the oil and herbs.

I first started cooking fish this way a couple of years ago and haven’t stopped since – especially in the summer since this yields light, but rich fish. Originally it seems like an extravagant preparation, requiring a lot of oil that will no doubt get junked after cooking. Screw it up, and you waste a good job lot of olive oil, and some lovely pieces of fish. Get it right and you would be hard pushed to find such an intricately flavored piece of fish. Thankfully, it really isn’t hard to do – a careful eye and an instant read thermometer (or a fancy candy thermometer) and you are set.

Click to learn more about this easy way to cook fish

vegetables

Indian sweet and sour chickpeas, spinach roti

August 24, 2010

Being British I am genetically disposed to Indian food. I am also ridiculously snooty about Indian food. Outside of India, I reckon that England could quite possibly be the best place to pick up some fantastic authentic Indian nosh.

Being this snooty about it doesn’t make eating out in Seattle for Indian food fun. Not that much. Not for my incredibly patient wife, who has to listen to my food rants, and not for my taste buds either. The first time I went to an Indian restaurant here in Seattle, I got the worst food poisoning I have ever had, and spent three days in the smallest room in the house, kneeling, cursing the seafood mixed grill.

Click to read more, and get the chickpea curry recipe

condiment

Homemade apple brandy mustard

August 17, 2010

Mustard. I love the stuff. Especially because it goes so brilliantly with charcuterie. I had never given one second of a thought however to making the stuff, until last week.

I was sitting around, eating some rillette and salad, and thought “some bloody lovely mustard would go so nicely with this”, and opened the fridge. You can imagine the utmost horror when I realized I was out of Dijon (mustard of choice in my household). I had used the last of it to make the salad vinaigrette I had happily poured over the leafy greens on my plate not moments before.

Click to get this homemade mustard recipe, see more photos and read about monks

Seafood Recipes

Salt cod, fava bean and English pea salad. piment d’ espelette

August 4, 2010

Ever since I made the salt cod a few weeks ago, I had this dish brooding in the back of my head. It was honestly the real reason I made the salt cod in the first place. Each spring I always look forward to fresh English (shelling) peas and fava beans. Here in Seattle the English peas seem like they are coming to the end of their stint, which has lasted much longer thanks to this crappy Seattle summer we have been having. I guess the cold(ish) weather has some good in the end.

This was a dish I dreamed up to share with friends. Very good friends at that. It just so happened that Todd and Diane, from WhiteOnRiceCouple fame were in town and they warmly accepted my dinner invitation – along with the lovely Shauna from GlutenFreeGirl. Todd and Diane showed up with two bags full of camera gear. The kind of bags full of gear that most people can only dream of. As we all know, good camera equipment is worth nout if there isn’t skill and talent to back it up. Thankfully that couple has it in droves – which these photographs here clearly show. That’s right, Todd and Diane were gracious enough to snap more than a few pictures of the food from that night, whilst I was busy mixing and chopping. All of the fantastic photography you see in this post is from them!

Click to see the fava bean and pea salad recipe, and more photos!

Charcuterie, raw food, Seafood Recipes

Making Salt Cod

July 19, 2010

There has to be something said for a recipe that combines the two big culinary focuses in my life – seafood and charcuterie (curing, preserving). Salt cod takes care of that.

Salt cod is one of those ingredients that I hardly ever use. In fact, come to think of it I have never done anything with it in my home kitchen. It is always on the menu in some form at a favorite local restaurant of mine, where it is impossible for me to have dinner there and not order something salty and fishy.

I got thinking the other day, and wondered how hard it would be to make. Turns out it is bloody easy. Easier than breathing. Well, almost. You know a dish is going to be easy when the name of it is also the full ingredient list.

Yes folks – to make salt cod you need… drum roll, no guessing now…:

salt.

cod.

BINGO! Well now, that can’t be too hard. Heck, I reckon even Sandra Lee makes stuff with more ingredients than that.

Click to see more photos, and read how to make this classic cured fish recipe

Charcuterie

Nitrates and Nitrites

July 13, 2010

nitrates

Blame this post on some Twitter friends that assured me it would be interesting.

When you cure meat you have to learn a thing or two about ingredients that don’t come up much in regular cooking. I don’t know about you, but I never cooked much with dry milk powder, dextrose, or peculiar sections of beef intestines. I can say without a doubt that I never dealt with nitrites/nitrates before making moldy meat in my garage.

So I thought it might be kinda fun, in a food history geeky kind of way, to look at why nitrites/nitrates are used in meat curing, the effects and benefits they have, their health implications, and natural sources of nitrites. We will talk a bit about botulism poisoning too, just for giggles.

Click to read a whole heck of a lot more about nitrates

Baking recipes

Gluten Free Buckwheat Pancakes

July 4, 2010

I have a somewhat recent love affair on buckwheat.  It seems like savory crepes (galettes) are all the rage here in Seattle, and almost all of them have a proportion of buckwheat in them. This is traditional to the area of France where they were apparently first developed – Brittany. Buckwheat has this lovely rich brown color, and a very distinctive nutty flavor all to its own. Even though the name might be misleading, it isn’t a wheat and is gluten free (watch out however for cross contamination in fields and processing if you are highly sensitive to gluten).

Click to read more, see photos and get this Buckwheat pancake recipe

Charcuterie

Home made, locally sourced dry cured Spanish Chorizo

June 23, 2010

When you say “Chorizo” to someone, you hear back a lot of different meanings. Here, in my second home of the USofA most people think of Mexican chorizo, when you throw out the C word. Mexican chorizo is a fresh sausage, heavily spiced that needs to be cooked. Mexican chorizo is usually made with chile peppers. and some simple herbs.

If you mention chorizo to anyone from Europe, they will most likely nod you towards Spain, and often the northern Basque region (and surrounds). Spanish chorizo is almost always dry cured, and more often fermented too (fermentation is the addition of good bacteria, to raise the acidity of the sausage, help prevent spoilage and also develop flavor). Spanish chorizo relies heavily on smoked paprika, not fresh hot chilies. This is really what gives a Spanish chorizo so much character. They can be either smoked, or just simply dry cured.

Click to read and see more about how to make Spanish chorizo at home

photography

On location food photography setup

June 18, 2010

Sometimes we don’t get to work with our lovely little setup in our home or studio for food photography. Sometimes we walk in to a job not knowing what to expect, and hoping that the gear you have crammed in to your car is going to be what is needed to do it right.

I figured it might be rather interesting to do a post on food photography from a slightly different perspective – that is on location shooting.

The interest here is working with the unknown. Adapting your regularly successful food photography setup to work in a new location with different lighting and space requirements. This is a useful exercise even if you never plan to shoot anywhere else but your home/studio.

Click to read this post on food photography advice and tips

drinks

Wine and Food Pairing dinner with Catherine Reynolds & 11 wine pairing tips!

June 10, 2010

How to pair wine with food

I will admit it now. I know nothing about wine and food pairing. Thankfully I have a friend who does, and has a lovely business selling wine to local Seattle people.

I first met Catherine over a year ago when I hosted and cooked a Seattle Food Bloggers Meat Party. The food had some high’s and low’s (totally overcooked some lentils..) but one thing that stayed consistent was the quality of the wine being served, and just how well the wine was paired with the food.

Click to read more, and get 11 tips on wine pairing

Seafood Recipes

Shrimp, spring vegetable and wild rice soup

May 31, 2010

shrimp and vegetable soup recipe

Spring is a time of soups for me. Here in Seattle we are lucky enough to have a ridiculous amount of farmers markets. If you go out for a walk on the weekend, you are pretty much guaranteed to trip over one. Or two. What is more, they are considerably cheaper than those organic natural stores that seem to be taking over the world these days. A good thing for this frugal Englishman.

That is a lie. I am not frugal. The rest is true.

Click to read more, and get this shrimp and vegetable soup recipe

Charcuterie

Home cured Coppa

May 21, 2010

how to cure coppa

When you talk to most people about cured meat, it is only a matter of time before “coppa” is talked about. Next to prosciutto, I think this certain cut is everyone’s favorite, and it is easy to see why. On a properly raised hog, you get what I consider a perfect fat-to-meat ratio for cured meat. What is more, the fat runs throughout the slice, rather than around the edge, with a few pieces of marbling. No, this fat is in the middle of the meat, providing great textural balance to the meat along with just enough of that fatty mouth feel with every bite.

Most people know coppa as a cured meat, but technically it is a certain cut of pork from the top of the shoulder. The loin of the pig ends, and the coppa begins, and wraps over the shoulder. Coppa is really a bundle of a few muscles, which are heavily used, so have a lot of flavor. Between these muscles is lovely pockets and striations of fat that gives the coppa its unique flavor and texture.

Click for more home cured coppa pictures and coppa recipe