Cooking


Foodwithlegs has been moved to its new home at foodwithlegs.com this post can be found on the new site here.

Green fading to a golden brown is a positive sign that fermentation is at work

Green fading to a golden brown is a positive sign that fermentation is at work

Apparently there are eastern European recipes for making sauerkraut with whole heads of cabbage immersed in large barrels of brine.  I don’t think our small cellar-like cupboard could handle a barrel of fermenting heads of cabbage–to say nothing of Kat’s olfactory sensibilities–but I still want to experiment with this type of sauerkraut recipe, just on a smaller scale.

What better method than by using nature’s scaled-down version of the cabbage, the brussels sprout, I wondered.  They have many of the same sweet-mustardy flavours that cabbages do just in a smaller, more concentrated format.  So that the finished product will stay where it belongs when served on top of sausage on a toasted bun I have included some of the traditional shredded cabbage in this recipe.  This was also done to hedge against the possibility that because brussels sprouts are stronger-flavoured than cabbage they might be less palatable after a month of fermentation.

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Foodwithlegs has been moved to its new home at foodwithlegs.com this post can be found on the new site here.

Our arsenal of kitchen knives

Our arsenal of kitchen knives

Foodies tend to have a strong impulse to acquire more and fancier kitchen tools.  I have found, primarily through the heeding the advice of Alton Brown, that less is more and simple is better.  There are enough useful kitchen tools–wooden spoons, spatulas, whisks–to fill several drawers that everyone who cooks will eventually acquire on their own.  I’m going to take a look at four tools that I wouldn’t cook without but that I don’t think are natural acquisitions.  I use at least one of these everyday that I cook but I’d be willing to wager that no more than one in four or five of all home kitchens have all four.  In my opinion the most important of these is a good chef’s knife.

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Pizza cooking on the bottom of cast iron pan

Pizza cooking on the bottom of cast iron pan

Two days to make pizza calls for two days of blog posts.  Seems fair to me.  Yesterday I went over the process I used to make what I consider the ultimate pizza dough.  When we left off the dough was relaxing, fermenting, and possibly rising a very little bit in the refridgerator.  After its overnight stay there it has to be left to stand at room temperature for two hours (three is probably better if, like our apartment, you keep your kitchen around 17 degrees celsius).

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Pizza 4

(Here’s the second part of the series that deals with the technique of cooking this pizza.)

We eat a lot of pizza.  More to the point we eat it a lot of different versions of pizza.  Pizza for Kat and me can be a quick lunch, a convenient delivery when we don’t feel like cooking or a more involved from-scratch process.

When making pizza at home the shortcut that I am least willing to take is the use of pre-baked shells.  I find that they taste both inauthentic and, well, bad.  Canned tomato sauce: Serviceable and with a bit of spices mixed in even very good.  Pre-shredded cheese: Not great but not totally offensive.  The pre-baked shells though, have the taste and mouth feel of the cardboard they are packaged with.

Having reached this point I have turned a bunch of times to either making my own dough or buying the balls of dough from the grocery store and using them that day or later, out of the freezer.  I have definitely had varying degrees of success, especially when it comes to transforming the dough from a  ball into a very thin round that can be topped and slid into the oven without tearing.  Repeatedly, I read the recommendation that if the dough resists being stretched thinly enough it should be left to rest for five to ten minutes.  This sometimes works but nearly as often just gives the dough round an opportunity to slowly recede in the inward direction while maintaining its resistance to stretching.

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A pile of Irish goodness.

A pile of Irish goodness.

Kat has a “work” commitment that involves getting mildly intoxicated on a Tuesday so we had our St. Patrick’s Day dinner a day early.  On the menu: ham, bubble-and-squeak (or colcannon, I guess), and bacon brussels sprouts.  All elements of the meal were simple enough that they don’t really need a proper recipe.

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Boston Brown Bread, baked beans, and a canned peach half

Boston Brown Bread, baked beans, and a canned peach half

In Toronto the weather the last few days has finally started to show signs of spring.  Birds, rain, warmer temperatures during the day, the usual yadda yadda.  The weather forecasts predict, though, that things will get cold (negative double-digits at night) again next week.  Food wise, early spring is actually the time when it is probably most difficult to eat seasonally and locally in places like southern Ontario.  The spring’s first delicacies (ramps, fiddleheads, morels, and asparagus) won’t be ready until May and by the latter half of March and into April the fall crops that were stored for the winter will begin to falter (most potatoes, some apples, and cabbage for instance).  One crop that lasts a lot longer in storage is dried beans.  These are great as baked beans and even better if accompanied by the classic Boston Brown Bread. (more…)

Almost finished popping

Almost finished popping

Time for a frank admission: We don”t own a microwave oven.  We have a meat grinder, a pasta maker, a griddle/panini maker and three coffee makers but no microwave.  We’re definitely not minimalists or kitchen luddites.  Worrying about the health effects of microwave ovens (compared to power lines, cellphone towers, etc.) seems a bit like complaining about your neighbour’s cat blowing on your tree during a hurricane but I appreciate the extra counter space as well as the added incentive to make real food–if I can’t microwave it am I really saving any time buying processed, standardised, junk?

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