My chinois

Several years ago, I was at a friend’s house for dinner, and I saw this amazing utensil hanging from a pot rack in her kitchen.  It was a large, stainless steel cone, with a long handle.  The cone part was made with the finest stainless steel mesh you can imagine.  I asked her about it, and she explained that it was a chinois, and she used it when she needed a very fine strainer for soups or sauces.  She’d purchased in Paris, at the famous kitchenware store,  E. Dehillerin.  Well, I knew at once, that I needed one. […]

Jewish chicken soup

Jewish chicken soup is the ne plus ultra of chicken soups.  Unlike other soups made with chicken broth, Jewish chicken soup – REAL Jewish chicken soup – is simply chicken broth, taken to it’s logical, delicious extreme.  Forget the pictures you see of bowls of soup chock full of chunks of juicy white chicken meat, and glistening vegetables: no balabusta would be caught dead serving that for the soup course of an elegant dinner.  Jewish chicken soup is really more of a chicken consommé: sparkling and clear, with an intense chicken flavour that is rounded out by the essence of aromatic vegetables and an herb or two.  The broth is the main attraction, though simple garnishes are acceptable: some thinly-sliced carrots (or better yet, a brunoise of carrots), and maybe some knaidlachkreplach, or a small mound of fine egg noodles. […]

The Shegetz’s guide to food for the Jewish high holidays

If, like me,  you’re a not-Jewish guy (a shegetz), but are married to someone who is, Jewish holidays sneak up on you.  Most of them seem to be movable feasts, falling on different dates each year, like Easter does in the Christian calendar. So unlike, say Christmas, which is pretty predictable, I never know when there’s one just around the corner. I’m usually just getting over a massive effort in the kitchen for some other project (most recently, preserving the summer’s bounty) when Daniel asks something like  “Are we making gefilte fish this weekend? It’s Rosh Hashana, you know.” […]

Putting up

It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything here. I’m not sure why I got out of the habit … maybe  we  were getting a little tired of animal fat;  maybe it was with the heat of summer, as I wasn’t as keen on spending hours on end in the kitchen. It was probably a combination of the two.

Our heat wave broke this week–but to be honest,  Leslie, an old friend of Daniel’s, remarked that she enjoyed my entries  and was hoping to see something new soon.. there ‘s nothing like a little positive feedback to get you going again!

Making Bacon (or more precisely, Pancetta.)

It’s been a while since I posted anything here … after the intensity of turning out several types of charcuterie in the last few weeks, I thought I needed a break from pork. Plus, it took quite a while to mow through the various pâtés and sausages that I’d produced.  (I gave a lot away, and froze some as well … but it was only today that the last of the pâté de foie disappeared.)  Also, it took this long for something I started to make two weeks ago to be ready to photograph, use, and write about, namely, my latest attempt at pancetta arrotolata.

True to my shegetz heritage, I love bacon. Good bacon, that is. Not that watery, slimy stuff you get in hygienic plastic packages at the supermarket that’s been cured as quickly as chemically possible, with “added smoke flavour”.  I like the stuff that has been cured slowly, with lots of salt to draw out the water, and then hung to dry in a cool, humid place for a period of time, and then, maybe (but not necessarily) cold-smoked. You can find it at better butchers. Or you can make it yourself. Really, it’s not the least bit difficult. […]

Toulouse (?) sausage

I had some pork shoulder and belly left over from making several pâtés this week, so I thought I’d use it up making some sausages.  About the simplest sausage you can make is Toulouse sausage, because it contains only pork, salt, pepper and a bit of nutmeg.  No fillers of any kind. (Often, fresh sausages recipes will include a good portion of bread crumbs, which absorb the juices (read “fat”) during cooking, resulting in a juicy, tender interior.)  Because they lack filler, and because they are made from coarsely ground meat, they benefit from longer, slower cooking after they’ve been browned.  For example, you would almost certainly see Toulouse sausages in a cassoulet. […]

The joy and sorrow of pâtés en croûte, Part II

A few weeks ago, an acquaintance of mine who sings in Schola Magdalena, an ensemble that interprets and performs medieval music, asked me if I could contribute something to the buffet table for a post-concert reception taking place this Friday.  Still riding the high of our trip to France, I was looking for an opportunity to have a go at meat pâtés again.  So I said sure, I’d be happy to bring something, and went home to start researching what I might put together. […]