Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Check it

Excellent article about Southern Food and Farmers.

I want this charcuterie.

I want the lush oyster mushrooms the monks grow.

I also want the new years hoppin' John with golden yellow cornbread and greens. And it's almost new years anyway right?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Poetry Corner

This poem comes from a series I wrote about the ocean.

The Angler

Angler in my solitude,
One with line and fish.
I suffer with my dinner,
There's death in every dish.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Pickle Check

So after roughly ten days, I checked several of my new pickles.

Some need to mature a little bit more, but some, like the onion and corn pickles, are delicious already.

What a bright snack. The onions have plenty of crunch, but without a raw onion flavor. The corn and brine create a sweet contrast between the sharpness of onions and peppercorns. The bay and the garlic are still just developing, but the black peppercorns linger just long enough as I pop more corn and onions into my mouth.

The Sichuan beans definitely need some more time, as the spices haven't all worked their way into the picture yet. The Fireballs I was very hopeful for, but I feel like they have a lot of one-dimensional heat. Their are several different kinds of chilies in there, but I think I am going to add more cinnamon, and maybe even some ginger to spice it up.

Stay tuned for more pickle updates!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Smoke on the Water

Smoked Fish. You either love it, or you hate it.
I love it.
I used to eat smoked eel at my country house in upstate New York as a young boy.
And now, I've been on a smoked fish kick. And a recent late night domino game (yeah throwin' bones!) snack was the perfect excuse to break out some smoked herring, fresh from the can, on dark bread with mustard and pickled jalapenos; spread out on a serving plate in-between games. It was a perfect snack and an excellent idea all around. It's too bad I didn't get a picture before we devoured everything.

I wanted more!

Being that this is Brooklyn, there is no shortage of wonderful places that offer exactly the things you are looking for.
This is a smoked trout I recently had from Jubilat Provisions (this place freaking rocks) and it was awesome. No accompaniment was necessary for this firm smoked fish, just hands and mouths.
I would have loved to take some open-fish pictures, but with oily hands and happy mouths, there was little time to snap the extra photos.
It was a very pretty fish, but I think the fish next in the line up was better tasting but less aesthetically pleasing. I certainly enjoyed them both.

This next fish, also from Jubilat (because I had to go back) was sold to me as Halibut. I'm not really sure if it was halibut or not, but I am sure that it was absolutely fish-tastic. This fish had super-soft flesh and the fattier parts just melted in your mouth, begging to be spread on crackers. So that's exactly what we did. My friend Andrew and I ate this whole fish at work. It was amazing.

It had the added rustic appeal of still having the hanging string tied around it. Jubilat smokes all their own meat and fish in a back room, and this, I feel, makes it all the more special. I realized that this fish would need to get documented further, so I opened the bad boy up and started snapping.

Here is a picture that shows perfectly the firmer, flaky flesh (in the middle), and the melty, fish-butter (on top). You can even see some of the silvery skin. This fish was freaking delicious. Just saying.

I think that I'll get some more smoked fish soon! If only I could find a good source for smoked eel!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Slam Dunks

Check this article on

The Art of Soup

I really want to make some of these soups.
There are some of particular interest to me.

Markkosschensuppe That's right folks, BEEF MARROW DUMPLING SOUP.


Palocleves Lamb Soup with Sour Cream.

These are the two that seem most like the perfect balance between an approachable technique and an amazing result. But the Oxtail Consomme sounds particularly delicious!

As it gets colder outside, soups become more welcome for the tired, cold soul.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Icebox Pickles

I come from a pickling household.
My father's knowledge of pickling and preserving has been passed down to my sister and me. We make pickles for ourselves and our friends. My sister trades her pickles for things like haircuts and bike fixes. If I bring pickles for lunch there will always extra, because I relish the chance to share. And now, at the end of this post, you can all try the recipe.

We make Icebox Pickles. A quick pickle that just needs ten days of refrigeration before consumption, these are as delicious as they are easy. It's nice to play around with the recipes because you get to try them so quickly, you can adjust as you see fit.
Here is one of the classic combos that I like to pickle.
Cucumbers, peppers, and cabbage, along with garlic, hot chilies, bay and black peppercorns; these are one of my tried and true pickles. A great crunch, a sweet brine and a garlicky-spicy finish make these a real crowd-pleaser.

In true wintertime fashion, I had a pickling party to preserve things for the coming months. I bought some cabbage and hot peppers, string beans and onions. I didn't even get a chance to get some Kirby's, or pickling cucumbers as they are also known.

I did however, make an enormous spread of all the various things I had for pickling, and some pickles I had made a few weeks ago!

  Looks like we've got quite a lot going on here!
First, there are the pickling essentials: vinegar, salt, and sugar. Second are the vegetables, and third; the spices.

I made several different pickles with varying degrees of acidity and sugar levels, as well as different flavor profiles with regards to spices and vegetables used.

As friends chopped and salted, I added spices to various jars. We made six jars of pickles, one of them an entire gallon.
This picture shows all the new pickles from left to right: sweet onion and corn pickles with garlic and black pepper; purple carrots with classic pickling spices; the gallon mix of cabbage, hot peppers and string beans; Sichuan beans; "Fireballs," or cocktail onions with searing dried and fresh chilies; and a sweet hot corn relish.

The Sichuan beans have some Sichuan Peppercorns, dried chilies, star anise, cinnamon, black pepper, coriander, and black peppercorns. I am excited for these, as I have never used the Sichuan peppercorns in a pickle before. I want these to be hot and numbing, and to have the classic flavor profile that Sichuan food should have with using these peppercorns.

Most of these things I had never pickled before. I had 3/4 of a gallon of standard pickles already, so I thought I would try all new things this go around. Beans, onions, and carrots are all new pickling things for me. I've pickled chopped large white onions before, but not small cocktails.

The Fireballs are cocktail onions with garlic, black peppercorns, a tiny piece of cinnamon, three different kinds of dried chilies (and lots of them) and an entire chopped fresh green chili of medium-hot heat. I'm also pretty excited about these too. They sound good, they have a cool name, and if they turn out the way I want them to, they may just become a new pickle staple of mine.
 Bonus Picture! the pickles all stacked up, including the previous batch!

The purple carrots have lots of standard pickling spices like coriander and mustard seeds. I'm pretty excited about these as well, as I have never personally pickled carrots.

Here is the basic recipe for my Icebox Pickles. It should be said that these can be tinkered with in a variety of ways. The ratio of vegetables will also change the flavors.

Icebox Pickles by William Widmaier

You will need:
Vegetables for pickling (duh) or unripe fruit.
Vinegar - Apple cider, White, Rice Keep in mind, the vinegar you use will affect taste. I use white vinegar because I want a neutral acidity, although sometimes I use half and half apple cider.
Kosher Salt
Sugar - any kind will be okay, but keep in mind how it may affect the flavor. Do not use sugar substitute or powdered sugar.

First, figure out what you want to pickle. I usually pickle cabbage, kirbys, and peppers, but there are a lot of vegetables you can pickle. I like to get one small head of cabbage, two pounds of kirbys, and about three red peppers.

Chop all your vegetables into one inch by one inch squares, and cut the kirbys about 3/8ths of an inch thick.
Layer your veggies in a large jar or Tupperware container. (That's right, icebox pickles don't have to be in a jar!)

After each layer, sprinkle about a teaspoon (or a touch less) of KOSHER SALT on the veggies. It is important you use kosher salt. Regular salt has added iodine in it and will make the pickles bitter. Don't use sea salt either as it often has lots of minerals and things in it that will change the flavor. If the finished product is too salty, use less salt next time. If the veggies are not really sweating out, and there is no pool of water at the bottom after 30 mins, use more salt.

Let the veggies sit for about thirty minutes in the salt. They will sweat out a lot of their water. This is good. Don't rinse them or pour out the salty water.

Add your spices. I like to add between three and eight cloves of garlic, a few hot chilies, two bay leaves, and two tablespoons of black peppercorns.You can add spices in any combination you like, but don't go crazy. You also don't even need to add spices if you don't want to. Sometimes it is really nice to just have the taste of the veggies influence each other.

When the thirty minutes is up, make your brine. This should consist of equal parts by volume water, sugar, and vinegar. I usually use just regular white vinegar or a combination with cider vinegar. Heat this slowly on a stove to combine and then pour over the pickles. Some people like to wait for the brine to cool, but I don't really ever wait. I usually dole it out in a mug: one mug of sugar, one mug of vinegar, and one mug of water.

Cover the veggies and make sure they are submerged in the brine. Let them sit in the fridge for at least a week, but usually ten days is best and enjoy!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Allium Amazed

Came across this recipe for Garlic Confit and had to share it. I'll probably make this recipe this weekend and I'm pretty excited about it. Confit is a method of cooking preserving something in its own fat. Duck confit is the most well-known. Garlic doesn't have it's own fat, so olive oil is used.

Just like roast garlic is one of the most simple, most amazing things you can do to make guests (or yourself!) swoon, I imagine this garlic confit is going to be a home run.

I also like the amount of garlic cloves suggested for the recipe; 65! The picture is nice and the garlic looks like it needs to be picked up and eaten; just saying. I want to spread it on sandwiches and toast. I want to wrap a roasted red pepper around it and eat it with pork and a fork!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Handheld Series 3: Sweet Dreams

Get ready for the exciting third installment of the Handheld Series!

A never-ending quest to extol the wonders of handheld food has led to the the Handheld Series. We've visited Chinatown for steamed pork buns, we've braved Brighton Beach for real knishes, we even sunk our teeth into some mystery meat Grey's Papaya hot dogs, and questionable mass produced Popeye's chicken; but now, savory no longer, I give you, the sweets!

First up. A New York favorite for rich and poor, native and tourist alike. A shady side deal that gets better every time it happens.
The little Spanish lady and her cart full of CHURROS!

These are freaking awesome. One dollar buys you 2 - 3 deep fried sugary sticks of happiness. Underneath her strange plastic tarp, held in the old lady cart to end all old lady carts, this wonderful woman commands years of culinary tradition and the secret to a very satisfying train ride home.

If you don't know what a Churro is, my friend, you are missing out on one fantastic finger food. Sugary and crisp, fried and doughy, Churros are always a welcome treat. I've almost never passed up on the dollar Churro lady. These ladies are one of the best underground food scores in NY.

I ran into this lady at 14th st. switching from the 2 train to the F train. I don't know what her regular route is, but she was with a friend with an equal amount of churros (divide and conquer!) and I imagine they were headed to different places.

If you ever see one of these ladies, do not feel skeeved out about her lack of a food handler's license, or that she is toting this cart full of fried food through the subway. Just hand her a dollar, and tuck into some homemade Spanish-style dessert (or breakfast!).

I guess she felt bad that one of my churros was a little guy, cause I got three!

In following the handheld theme, and the sweets desired, I fell upon these little cake gems. Have you heard of Baked

Baked, out in Red Hook, Brooklyn, is hard to get to, but worth the trip. Said by some to be the Best Cupcake in NYC it is certainly a phenomenal cupcake. This one in particular is chocolate with salted caramel butter-cream frosting.

First, this cupcake must have crack in it. It is immediately addicting. Close your eyes on the first bite, because you are about to be transported to a part of your brain that only responds to pleasure. This has said to be a life-changing cupcake.

The cake to frosting ratio, and the sweet salty rich butter-cream is unbeatable. The cake is moist, and the frosting is decadent. The flavor profile is a smooth ride through magical territory.

Salted caramel is relatively new for me, but it seems everybody has had a hard-on for it for quite a while.

This edition of the handheld series was particularly satisfying, as I don't eat a lot of sweet things. I don't have a sweet tooth, I've got a pork tooth.

You can grab these delicious morsels from any churro-cart lady on the subway (you don't get to use that phrase everyday); or you can make your way to Baked in Red Hook. Some places sell Baked goods other than in Red Hook. Give them a call and find out if the deliver to any stores in YOUR neighborhood!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Leftover Revamp

I cook a lot of food a lot of different ways.

I don't always share it. But there is almost always left overs (the bane of one-person cooking!)

When I make something particularly delicious, I like other people to try it so they can share my joy of wonderful flavors. This is especially true when I make a lot of something. But if you caught me making something delicious, and there is only enough for me, you will be lucky to get more than one bite. I often offer said bite, warning that it will be the only one.

Recently I made something that was entirely new for me, but delicious and well executed. It had the added bonus of using up some leftover things. It is also complete peasant food; and delicious!

First, I had lots of carrots I needed to get rid of, and earlier in the week, I made some burger patties to take for lunches and I still had two left. Leftover pinto beans had to make their way into this as well. Necessity is the mother of invention.

It reminds me of an Indian dish, although I've not really had anything like it before.

Finely shredded carrots and onions slowly stewed with ginger, applesauce and star anise. In the last leg of cooking I added some chopped cooked hamburger meat (if it was truly Indian, it would be lamb). I thought of this as a way to stretch the meat and use up the carrots.

The flavors were amazing, and I served it with meaty, soft pinto beans, and some rye bread with caraway.

This was really a warming wintertime dish. Perfect for a chilly day, and full of December ingredients: root vegetables, leftover meat and beans, rounded out with flavorful bread.

Here is the recipe for the carrot dish. It would be fine without the meat for those vegetarians out there (especially paired with the beans)

4 whole carrots (use more if no meat)
two small yellow onions (sweet onions would work well too)
2 inch ginger knob
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup applesauce
one whole star anise
teaspoon red chili flakes
tablespoon neutral oil like grapeseed or vegetable
salt to taste
about half a pound cooked meat rough chopped

Dice the onion as small as possible. Grate the carrots using a microplane or the smallest holes on a cheese grater. Grate 1/2 the ginger (don't bother to peel) using the same small holes.
Over low heat, add the grapeseed oil, and when hot, add the star anise, chili flakes, and the other half of the ginger.
Add the shredded mixture, applesauce, orange juice and water, stir. Bring to a simmer and cover. Let this simmer for about 30 - 40 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the chopped meat and a teaspoon of salt. Let this simmer, covered, an additional 15 minutes.

The carrots should be super soft and the meat well incorporated. Serve in a bowl alongside soft pinto beans and with some slices of rye bread with caraway seeds. If you don't have rye bread, any crusty warm bread will do. Although the caraway in the bread compliment the carrots really well. The beans can be mashed or mixed in (I did both!) Use the bread to scoop up the mix, and treat yourself to a hot, warming lunch. I also added some more chili flakes because I like the heat.

The addition of a nice chutney would make this a top notch dish, but I didn't have any, so I used my hot, sweet, pepper relish which was pretty fantastic.