Sunday, October 31, 2004

One For All

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(guest photographer Tim Holmes)
Okay, one last post to showcase a party photo from Tim, and then back to our normally scheduled blogging. Tim's brother Chris was the hidden model in this picture. Chris is very visually oriented, a graphic designer and professional photographer (he was my photographer for my Paso Robles piece—due on newsstands soon—and my foie gras piece, hopefully due out by the end of the year). As a result, I suspect his plate was constructed for visual interest rather than gastronomic, but somehow he managed to get one of everything (save dessert) onto his plate.

This picture offers a visual menu of the party we had a month ago, and is one of my favorite shots from Tim's excellent set. Starting at the top, and going around clockwise: salmon rillettes with dill on bread slices; puff pastry stuffed with sausage and fennel; foie gras terrine with brioche; fruit salad with a lemon-ginger gastrique; salt cod brandade topped with fresh wasabi paste (I salted my own cod for this); green salad (Melissa's contribution); dried apricots with dried raspberries; wonton flower cups filled with red pepper, carrot, and shallot relish; bread slice with Explorateur cheese and anchovy and orange tapenade; various pieces of charcuterie; and finally, morbier cheese.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Another Bang for the Buck Appetizer

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(guest photographer Tim Holmes)
Another simple but very popular appetizer from our party a month back, which not coincidentally affords another chance to post one of Tim's pictures.

For the filling: sauté some diced fennel and onions. Add in some chopped up Italian sausage. Cook thoroughly and let cool.

Roll out some puff pastry fairly thin. If you're not making your own (I didn't for this), buy Dufour Puff Pastry, which is made with real butter. Cut the puff pastry into squares, and put a bit of the sausage filling into the middle. Brush edges of each square with water. Fold in half along the diagonal to make a triangle, and seal the edges. At this point, you can freeze them (and should; puff pastry behaves better the colder it is): put them on a plate and freeze until hard, then put them into a freezer-safe bag to keep them separate. To bake, take straight from the freezer and bake at 425° until brown, probably about 15-20 minutes.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Bang for the Buck

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(guest photographer Tim Holmes)
I appreciate a time-consuming, labor-intensive dish as much as the next person. Okay, maybe more than the next person, but definitely as much as the person after that. But there's something to be said for a dish that's simple to make and generates a lot of comments from your guests. That's why I made wonton flower cups for a party a month ago. They're simple, can be made ahead, and they look like flowers. They taste fine, though I consider them a backdrop for a delicious filling.

Here's how to make them. You'll need a smalll muffin tin and some extra-virgin olive oil, plus wonton wrappers, which you can buy in most stores. They're usually in the produce section or next to the tofu. I buy the small square ones.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly brush both sides of a wrapper with the oil, and place it in one of the muffin tin's cups. You'll need to pinch the sides in order to get the wrapper on the bottom of the tin, but this is how you create the flower effect. I find that I have to separate them from each other by an empty cup, so you only get six flower cups per muffin tin. Bake until crispy and hard, about 10 minutes. Fill with whatever you like (the filling above is roasted red peppers with carrots and shallots). If you want to make them ahead, keep them in an airtight container for a day or two.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

OWF mentioned in the SF Chronicle (sort of)

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My friend Russell went to Web 2.0, and sat next to a reporter in one session. They started talking about RSS, and the reporter wrote a story about this technology. To illustrate Russell's breadth of reading material, the reporter called out a couple of the sites Russ subscribes to.

To wit: "Russell Beattie, who writes software used on mobile phones, reads 170 Web sites, ranging from the BBC's to An Obsession with Food".

Being mentioned in the same sentence as the BBC is a heady feeling, even if the reporter considers my site to be the opposite end of the spectrum. A link to this site would've been nice. For the record, the URL to use for my RSS feed is: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com/site-feed.rss (so I chose a non-standard file name. Sue me.)

Thanks to all who wrote to let me know.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

IMBB 9: Make that 35 Participants

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As I mentioned, there are a couple of late participants. I had to laugh as I started to write them up: Ginger and Elise were reading each other's minds. Also, LoveSicily's terrine now has pictures.

Simply Recipes' Eggplant and Red Pepper Terrine
Elise sent me her entry a mere hour after I posted the big wrap-up, so she almost squeaked in. But now she gets this post almost to herself. The layers in her terrine look thick and flavorful in the bottom picture. A big chunk of Brie adds a nice richness to her final dish, which she enrobed in a velvety tomato sauce.

Ginger's Vegetable and Cheese Terrine
I'm honored that Ginger, a friend and co-worker (also my manager, as it happens) and a world-class triathlete, decided to participate in this edition of Is My Blog Burning? Her terrine also features roasted eggplant and peppers in a surprising bit of synchronicity, though she adds zucchini and uses the more tangy goat cheese to create a terrine that probably tastes quite different from Elise's. I'm hoping some leftovers find their way into work. (edit: Ginger's pictures are up now, and well worth checking out)

Monday, October 25, 2004

IMBB 9: Layers and layers of great terrines

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Hosting an IMBB? is a lot of fun. Who knew? (aside from the eight previous hosts) Sunday was like Christmas, as food bloggers around the world sent me links to their posts throughout the day. I'd eagerly click on each one and read about the terrines everyone worked on. I'd show Melissa the pictures, and we'd ooh and aah. It seemed like every time I came back to my computer, there was a new post for me to look at.

That surprise and delight dictated the way I ordered the links. I arranged the posts based on when I knew about them (with mine at the end), so all of you can get a taste of what it was like for me as each new post came in. Plus, it allows me to start with dessert, which is always a good thing. Thank you for all your hard work, everyone! Many of you mentioned that this was your first terrine, and I'm happy you took the time to work on it. I hope you enjoyed making your dishes as much as I enjoyed reading about them. If I've missed anyone, please let me know! (and, incidentally, I know of at least two more stragglers, so check back soon for an addendum)

Kitchen Chick's Three Layer Chocolate Terrine
What an entry to start with! Lisa's chock-full-o-chocolate IMBB entry will make you all hungry. She's on vacation now, but she wrote her post a couple weeks ago and set typepad to post it on the 24th, earning bonus points as the first person to tell me about her entry. Imagine how hard it was when she told me she was making this amazing-sounding terrine but I couldn't get a sneak peek! She put a lot of work (and some fantastic ingredients) into her terrine, and it sounds like it paid off.

Jeff's Martha Stewart Tribute Terrine
Readers of this site are sure to appreciate my co-worker Jeff's terrine. The pictures don't do justice to the face that shows up in each slice, but do make sure you carefully look at his ingredients in the first picture. Melissa and I laughed out loud when we saw his entry. Yes, the link does work, even if it doesn't seem to at first. Maybe Jeff should quit programming and take up satire.

My Little Kitchen's Individual Potato and Garlic Terrines with Roasted Pepper
Cathy's little individual terrines charmed Melissa and me. I loved her idea for a garnish of little cutouts on top of each terrine. With half a head of roasted garlic per person, the terrines must give off a heady aroma as they're being cooked.

FoodNerd's Stuffed Bread
I get to be the first IMBB host to welcome FoodNerd. Her first IMBB entry (boy, what a theme to have when doing this for the first time!) recreates a (close enough) terrine from her childhood. Her entry fuses American ingenuity and classical cuisine, with a nice garnish on top

Chocolate & Zucchini's Pounti Auvergnat
I blushed mightily while reading the intro to Clotilde the Charming's post. I had forgotten about her earlier pounti post, so I didn't know what a pounti was at first. I was delighted to re-learn about this interesting terrine. As usual, Clotilde's rendition is better-looking than the inspiration.

Petra's Layered Fish Terrine
I really liked the delicate colors on Petra's terrine. It's like looking at a palate of pastels. And the layers sounded good as well; each one is an elegant fish preparation. This is one of the many in the list that I bookmarked for future reference.

The Oslo Foodie's Salmon Terrine
One of my favorite things about IMBB is the chance to learn about interesting ingredients from other cultures. The Oslo Foodie's post featured lefse, which I had never heard of.

My Adventures in the Breadbox's Mixed Vegetable Pâté
The colors in Alice's terrine stand in stark contrast to Petra's (see above). Instead of delicate pastels, these layers are painted in bold colors. It's a dramatic sight. It sounds just as delicious as it looks.

Nosh's Eggplant and Zucchini Timbales
Mia managed her entry despite being in an ill-equipped kitchen on vacation. I laughed when I read that she packed timbale molds in her luggage. Talk about being prepared!

Cheat Eat's Romance of the Three Eggs
ST's terrine featured ingredients that I found unusual. Western cuisine doesn't do much with preserved duck eggs. I'd say it's our loss.

Cooking with Amy's Persimmon Dream Terrine
Amy's miniature terrine combines vanilla ice cream and the persimmons that are in all the Bay Area markets right now. It's a simple and elegant preparation. She points out that making a terrine for just two people is tough, but her mini version is a great solution.

Becks & Posh's Spicy Tuna Sushi Terrine
Sam's terrine is the ultimate sushi roll. Its seaweed wrapping hides an interior that showcases beautiful layering of traditional sushi roll ingredients. An ugly duckling terrine, indeed!

World on a Plate's Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Terrine
Jeanne's chocolate mousse terrine was inspired by a recipe from Godiva Chocolatiers, but uses the higher-quality Vahlrona. Count the number of good words in that last sentence. This seems like a decadent, euphoria-inducing dish. I love the stylized plating in her picture.

thepassionatecook's Prune and Almond Chocolate Terrine
Johanna's combination of chocolate, prunes and almonds makes me want to make it just so that I can try it with a Banyuls, France's answer to Port. The slices look pretty, but my favorite shot is of the whole terrine, dusted with ground almonds and garnished with physalis. Incidentally, prunes were like a mini-IMBB for this event; a few terrines feature them and a few participants thought of doing something with them.

Food and Thoughts' Foie Gras Terrine Burger
Zarah took some time from her busy schedule to post about a dish she made a while back, which she argues is a cheat, but, hey, I'm flexible. Besides, her dish is gorgeously plated, so who could resist? (plus, as I told her, a "cheat" post or two seems to be part of the IMBB? tradition). Good luck with biochem!

Tomatilla's Rustic Country Terrine
I think Owen is too hard on his terrine attempt. It sounds like it tasted great, and if it didn't hold together during the slicing, c'est la vie. I told him that I only got one good slice out of my bread pudding terrine.

LoveSicily's Millefoglie di peperoni con gamberi
"All that is required is about a dozen peppers, basil, olive oil, pepper, garlic, white wine, shrimps, salt and pepper." Ronald's post starts off well and finishes even better. I can just imagine how this looks with its different-colored peppers and basil pesto forming multi-colored layers (and hopefully soon he'll have pics) .

Il Forno's Halibut Mousseline with Salmon
The IMBB founder echoed the sentiments of many when he said that this IMBB theme stretched him a bit. I'm surprised terrines aren't more commonplace in Italian cuisine; I'd imagine some sort of crossover from France. I like the combination of colors in this dish, and you already know from the name that it sounds good.

Love and Cooking presents Susan Hattie's Goat Cheese Torta
Charlotte came out of a bit of a blogging hibernation (perhaps estivation, since it's still summerish here?) to share a recipe with a lot of personal meaning for her. I appreciate any recipe that uses the verb "moosh."

There's a Chef in My Kitchen's Potato and Butternut Squash Terrine with Gruyère
Donna, the next most recent IMBB host, took advantage of the strikethrough HTML tag to turn a gratin recipe into a terrine. In her email to me, she described it as a " terrine... sort of....". I'm happy to be flexible, especially for such a yummy-sounding dish.

The Domestic Goddess's Sun Dried Tomato and Pesto Torta
Jennifer gives us a sneak peek at her wedding menu as she taste tests this lovely little appetizer. I think she's crazy to cook her own food for her wedding, but one does have to envy her wedding guests!

Too Many Chefs' Feta Spinach & Veg Terrine
Barrett tells us he's never made a terrine before, and then proceeds to concoct a great example of one. Seems suspicious, doesn't it? His classic combination of ingredients come together into a loose set of colorful layers.

The Food Section's Black Bean, Chorizo, and Goat Cheese Terrine
Josh recreates a dish from his past working as a busboy. I love the swooshy plating of the sauce (what can I say, I'm a sucker for that), and the eye-catching goat cheese in the middle of the terrine. His improvised recipe seems very straightforward.

Spiceblog's Beef, Guinness and Lamb Terrine
With a name like that, how can you go wrong? Anthony humorously describes his first terrine. I note that though he says he's always thought them too fussy, he considers piping a Celtic design with potatoes onto the top.

a la cuisine's Coconut Panna Cotta and Pineapple Gelée Terrine
Clement's shimmery terrine grabs you right away with its crisp gold and white layers. He even managed to get pineapple into a gelée, which can be tricky. I'm not a big coconut fan, but his post makes me want to convert.

tinyfork's Terrine Kallisti
I feel pretty safe saying that Fae's delicious terrine was the only entry inspired by Greek mythology. I love her honest reaction to my choice: "What kind of theme is that?" I'm sure many of the participants thought the same thing. Her dessert terrine combines apricots and apples in a dish that seems perfect for the warm days of late summer and early fall.

Frost Street's Scallop and Scallop Roe Terrine
I can't summarize Jeremy's entry better than his title: The Best Thing I Ever Made. He brings us back in time for a lovely dish that uses an unusual ingredient. He also provides a primer on terrine assembly that would have been useful when I announced the theme.

Cook sister!'s Soft Cheese and Mediterranean Vegetable Terrine
Jeanne did a huge amount of research and ended up with a terrine made from roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and various cheeses. I liked the looks of the alternating bands of red and yellow.

Seattle Bon Vivant presents Larry's Market Duck and Foie Gras Mousse with Sauternes and Meinhardt's 5-Game Terrine with Pork and Cranberries
The Seattle Bon Vivant chooses a lovely concert and a trip to beautiful Vancouver over slaving away in the kitchen for hours on end, but she does offer us two terrines she picked up along the way. The terrine on the train ride sounds like the perfect lunch to eat as the miles ticked by. What a great way to end a nice trip, and how nice of her to share with the people in the train compartment.

chez pim's Thai Curry Terrine
Pim's Thai dishes always intrigue my Western palate. It's frustrating knowing that there are whole cuisines out there I know nothing about. This Thai curry terrine might be a nice way to start learning.

jinjurly's 3 Mushroom Terrine
Allison's layers of mushrooms came out beautifully, silicone loaf pan or no. The portabello mushroom caps on top make a nice little roof for the skyline of smaller mushrooms down below. And with all those mushroooms, I'm sure it tastes delicious.

feeding dexygus seconds' Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Butterscotch Banana Terrine
Dexygus's first IMBB entry combines all sorts of great ingredients for a knockout fudgy terrine. I thought the glaze gilded the lily on an already amazing dessert.

Derrick's Two Terrines
Unable to contain my exuberance for the theme, I made two different terrines, a bread pudding and raisin butter terrine and a terrine of jellied tripe. Despite this, Melissa has not left me, but I think the next terrine I make has to be chocolate.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

IMBB 9: A Tale of Two Terrines

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I'm obviously excited about the theme for this edition of Is My Blog Burning? At least, I'd better be, since I'm the one who suggested we all make terrines.

I originally planned to make a bread pudding and raisin butter terrine, an idea I concocted. But one day as I flipped through Fergus Henderson's The Whole Beast, I noticed a terrine of jellied tripe. I've been looking for an excuse to cook one of his recipes, and this seemed like the perfect time. Unfortunately, I figured this out just before my trip, and I didn't have time to make it beforehand. So I switched plans again: before leaving, make the bread pudding and raisin butter terrine as a "backup" and hopefully make the tripe terrine when I got back. Melissa is convinced I'm out to get her; she doesn't like raisins and she's decidedly not interested in offal. "Why couldn't you make a chocolate terrine?" she asked this morning.

The bread pudding terrine was simple enough. Make your favorite bread pudding recipe (you'll probably want an extra egg; my custard wasn't quite strong enough to hold most of the slices together). Cut the bread into slices rather than cubes. Put one layer of bread slices into a terrine mold, ladle in some custard almost to cover, and then smear a layer of raisin butter (I use the one from Cindy's Healthy Creations). Repeat, finishing with more bread slices. I'd recommend putting a piece of foil with pie weights on top, because as mine cooked it rose, creating the bowed effect you can see in the picture. Cook as you would the normal bread pudding, but check to make sure it's truly done. The top should quiver but not slosh when you shake the pan. Let cool to room temperature in the pan, about an hour. I served a quenelle of whipped cream on top. I liked this flavor combination and could see doing something like this for a dinner party, serving with a nice raisiny dessert wine.

I'm not sure I'd agree with Fergus Henderson's assertion that this terrine looks like "summer on a plate", but there's no denying it has a striking appearance. Bits of tripe and trotter meat are suspended in an apple cider aspic along with carrots and onions and (in some slices) tomatoes. I opted for this more rustic appearance since that's clearly how Henderson wants it. He's not into frou-frou presentation. The terrine has a distinct meatiness of course, and mine could probably have used more salt. The texture is chewy, but this is much lighter than its meaty appearance suggests. In fact, this is a dish that screams for a nice German Riesling. With pork, apple cider, and sugary vegetables, it's probably a match made in heaven (I tasted it this morning, and so didn't have any wine chilled).

IMBB entries are pouring in, so be sure and check back tomorrow for my wrap-up of the many terrines sitting out on the web today.

Jellied Tripe - from The Whole Beast by Fergus Henderson

  • 4 pig's trotters
  • 2 heads of garlic, skin on, plus 6 cloves, peeled and finely chopped.
  • bay leaves
  • a bundle of fresh thyme tied together
  • 2 quarts good dry cider
  • 1 cup Calvados (optional)
  • 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 lbs. tripe
  • 1 scoop of duck fat
  • 8 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 4 canned whole plum tomatoes (I recommend Muir Glen)
  • sea salt (I used kosher) and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Place trotters, whole heads of garlic, bay leaves, thyme, cider and Calvados in a pot, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 2 hours, skimming frequently. Add the tripe and cook for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours. You should be able to use your fingers to pinch through the tripe and trotter meat. Remove the tripe and trotters, herbs, and garlic from the liquor, which you should continue to cook until reduced by half. Pull the flesh off the trotters while still warm and add to the tripe, discarding the bones.
  2. Meanwhile sweat [DFS: sautée briefly and then cover and keep at low heat until veggies release their liquid] the shallots, carrots, leeks, and chopped garlic in the duck fat until softened, but not a pulp. Add the tomatoes, crushing them in your hand as you do so [DFS: either wear an apron or do this far down in the pot], and let this mixture cook for a further 20 minutes, sweetening the tomatoes (you are not looking to make a tomato dish, just bring the faintest blush). Now add the tripe and trotter flesh to the pot with a few ladles of the liquor and season with salt and pepper—remember that this will be served cold, so slightly overcompensate. Let this cook gently together for another 30 minutes.
  3. Line a terrine or loaf pan with plastic wrap. Spoon in the tripe, trotter, and vegetables with a slotted spoon, topping up at the end with liquid so they're just covered. Make sure, by banging the mold on the counter, your are not left with any gaps or air holes. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge overnight to set.
  4. Serve slices with chicory salad dressed with Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, and capers.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Man, Airplane Food Sucks

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Everyone knows that. I just had to make this post food-related. But I figured I should post a blog entry over Lufthansa's in-plane wireless access point. So I'm at about 30K feet.

I got a $10 coupon, which gives one 30 minutes. They have a "use for the whole flight" option for $30, but my laptop doesn't have much juice left.

Ciao!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Cook's Country

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I checked my emai from my Croatian hotel (I love wireless connections, by the way), and I noticed this hilarious email that I had to share with you all, even from a galaxy far, far away (well, for me). Cook's Illustrated has a new sister publication, Cook's Country. Read their description and then see my note at the end.
We're cooking up a storm . . . to find the best ways to cook the foods you and your family love best. And we're "serving up" all the tasty secrets to you in a new kind of magazine called Cook's Country.

Cook's Country is not about fancy cooking or expensive restaurants or foods with names you can't pronounce. The recipes are honest country fare. Your free trial issue features recipes for Extra-Crunchy Fried Chicken, Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, Ice Cream Cupcakes, S'mores Brownies, and Country-Style Pot Roast (made in a slow cooker).

Each issue of Cook's Country also includes equipment round-ups, kitchen shortcuts, and recipe contests (with the winning reader recipes published in the magazine). In addition, the magazine welcomes interaction with readers and even includes a section where readers tell Cook's Country what?s cooking in their communities.

Okay, here's some food for thought: HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM COOK'S ILLUSTRATED? Sure there's this community feature, but everything but the last couple sentences could be a press release for Cook's Illustrated as well! (And does Cook's Illustrated not welcome interaction with readers? That's what I'd infer.) CI has never been shy about repackaging their recipes, as I've mentioned before, but this seems brazen even for them.

Anyway, I think I'll pass and keep my CI subscription.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Bye All

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I'm off to Croatia and Venice for a week and a half. I'm writing a story about World Puzzle Championship (if there are any editors out there who'd like a story about what to my mind is far more interesting than the Scrabble championships, email me). I'll be back in plenty of time for IMBB 9, and I look forward to seeing your submissions.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

The Complete Book of Pork

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There is something vaguely titillating about the title of Bruce Aidells' latest book, The Complete Book of Pork, cowritten with Lisa Weiss and due out in late October. Perhaps it is some residual Puritan streak, some slight discomfort with the implication that one has so much meat that one needs a tome about it. Perhaps, instead, it is the mere sound of the title, a normal string of words that ends with a near grunt. Or perhaps only I experience this, and you are trying to figure out what I'm talking about.

Regardless of your thoughts on the title, the book is worth checking out. Bruce Aidells can claim a lot of expertise with the topic: his company's sausages are well-known in the Bay Area and many consider his sausage book to be an almost biblical source. Aidells clearly loves this meat and he's fascinated by the way cultures have used it throughout history. His recipes come from all over the world: the obviously Mexican Albóndigas Soup with Chile Broth and Cilantro Salsa, tonkatsu from Japan, and classic Alsatian choucroute garni are just some examples.

There are plenty of good recipes for those who enjoy working from them, but the book aims to teach the reader more than just how to follow a recipe. Most of the recipes are specific instances of a master recipe you can use as a launching point for your own dishes, and a long introductory chapter will give you many fundamentals about cooking pork. Aidells discusses the best techniques for cooking different cuts of meat, explaining the underlying science of his recommendations as he goes. It's not On Food and Cooking, but it gives a good overview of what's going on at a molecular level as you cook your meat.

Despite this wealth of information, I might quibble with the word "complete" in the title. He spends very little time on how to cook pig offal, which is unfortunate since the most famous saying about pigs as food is "you can use everything but the oink." But if you're disappointed by this omission, I urge you to check out The Whole Beast by Fergus Henderson, which hopefully I'll review here soon. In defense of Aidells, though, he does provide information on rendering your own lard (which I recommend), curing your own meat, and of course making sausage. I'd also have liked more discussion about the current state of pig-raising in America. Probably all pork-eaters in this country are accomplices to the crimes committed against pigs by the modern factory farm (and vegetarians needn't look smug: egg factories are probably even worse). But many people aren't as aware of this as they should be, and I think Aidells lost a good opportunity to educate people. He also only touches on more flavorful heritage breeds of pigs. I can imagine his defense of this: his book is aimed at grocery shoppers throughout the country, many of whom don't have access to the frou-frou butchers of the Bay Area. Fair enough, but I maintain it's worth educating people on these topics so they can begin to put pressure on their local suppliers. One doesn't have to rely solely on the factory-farmed pig, but most stores don't think there's any demand so choose not to offer these alternatives.

Overall, though, these are minor complaints, fueled in part by my political agenda. The book gives a great overview of this popular meat, and all but the most pork-savvy readers will probably learn something from it. The recipes I've tried have worked well.

Herbed Pork Rillettes from Bruce Aidells' The Complete Book of Pork- some readers may remember that one of my duumplings for IMBB 7 was stuffed with pork rillettes. This is the recipe I used, more or less. Bring to room temperature before serving as a spread. Or, mix in pistachios and cracked peppercorns after cooking and pack tightly and serve as a terrine (hint, hint) by weighting it down so that the rillettes hold together better.

1 lb. boneless Boston butt
1 lb. pork fat from the Boston butt or belly
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
2 fresh sage leaves
2 shallots, chopped
3 whole garlic cloves
6 coriander seeds
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

  1. Cut the pork and fat or belly meat into 1/2-inch pieces. Put the meat and fat in a large saucepan and add water to cover.
  2. Add thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, sage leaves, shallots, garlic, coriander seeds, and salt.
  3. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 3 to 4 hours, until the meat is extremely tender, the water is evaporated, and only melted fat remains. Stir occasionally to prevent the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Remove and discard the bay and sage leaves and let the mixture cool for 20 minutes. Using a fork or potato masher, mash and break up the mixture. Add the pepper and stir to combine. Taste for salt.
  5. Pack the mixture into a 1-quart terrine or soufflé. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the rillettes for at least 12 hours or preferably 2 to 3 days before serving. The rillettes will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

WBW 2: Spanish Reds

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Cariñena is the Spanish name for the grape carignane. It is also a DO-designated region in Spain near Aragon. If you imagine Spain geographically as a water balloon being filled from the tap of Southwest France, you'll find Cariñena close to the pipe, roughly equidistant between the northern and southern coasts. The region allows the same-named grape in its wines, but a quick web search suggests that most of them favor the garnacha grape, better known to wine aficionados as the Southern Rhône's grenache.

Certainly it dominated my entry to this edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, a spin-off from the popular Is My Blog Burning? event. In WBW as in IMBB, the host suggests a theme and a date and participants post vinous finds relevant to the theme on that date. This month's theme is Spanish reds, suggested by host Alder of vinography.com. The 2004 Valcantara is 95% garnacha and a mere 5% tempranillo, though the latter is Spain's more well-known grape. The Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant staff recommended the wine. As much as I like the staff, I don't often ask them for wine recs because we're in their wine club and generally like those wines, so we usually visit to buy more of that month's shipment. But they came through in suggesting a pleasant wine from an area I know little about.

Tasting note: A pink edge with elusive hints of lavender darkens to a clear center richly dyed the color of ripe pomegranate skin. Unabashed but somehow still delicate cherries and berries dominate the nose and the taste, though the medium-long finish also offers clear butterscotch notes garnished by hints of vanilla and cream. Modest acidity and tannins are easy on the mouth but offer little backbone. This wine makes up in charm what it lacks in complexity.

General thoughts: Melissa enjoyed this wine quite a bit. I found it pleasant and enjoyable. It's a lightweight wine, and Melissa suggested it might be a good winter aperitif, though it lacks the acidity I prefer for such wines. Its price ($8) certainly makes it attractive for parties, where it would no doubt be well-received by those few who have escaped the cult of Napa.

Food: This wine's dainty structure should be matched with light fare. Fish cooked en papillote and served with delicate greens dressed lightly with good oil (vinegar would undo this wine). Squash ravioli sauced simply but elegantly with butter and sage, a bridge between summer's warmth and autumn's hints of winter. An elegant saddle of rabbit baked and served on a bed of paella. Perhaps even soup, that most elusive of wine pairings. So many dishes, so little time.

In honor of the Spanish theme, I made a tapas platter for Melissa and myself. Figs stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in serrano ham, and baked at 450° for 10 minutes. Duck sausage made by our friends Karen and Thaddeus. Quartered small potatoes tossed liberally with olive oil, salt, and pepper before being baked for 20 minutes at 450°. Brined and pan-seared shrimp. Picholine olives. Yerberra cheese, a nut-encrusted goat cheese from Spain. Curiously the platter took little time to assemble, something I filed away for future reference. In general the wine fared well, but the cheese pushed it off-balance in a hard-to-describe way and it suffered at the hands of the sugar in the plump ripe figs.

Friday, October 01, 2004

IMBB 9: Layers and layers

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I am thrilled to be hosting the latest edition of Is My Blog Burning?, the international culinary exhibition started by Alberto at Il Forno. If you haven't heard of this event, it's simple and ingenious. The host proposes a culinary theme and sets a date. On that date every participant posts something related to that theme. We've seen eight previous themes including soup, fish, barbecue and grilling and most recently, cooking with wine and spirits.

So what's the theme for IMBB 9? Terrines. I love terrines, simple assemblies with beautiful interiors made from a seemingly infinite variety of possible ingredients. I was thinking about that variety one day and thought, hey, that'd be a fun IMBB! Alberto reminded me that most people don't make terrines regularly. It's a good point, so I've added a "terrine primer" to the end of this post, with some thoughts and links to inspire you. It's unfortunate that they've gotten this reputation as being hard, since they're quite easy and they look stunning.

First the rules: on October 24, post an entry about a terrine you made and email me or leave a comment on this post (or mine for that day). I know your efforts will look stunning, so a picture would be fantastic. And since everyone will want to try and reproduce your great dish in their own kitchens, a recipe would be useful as well. You don't have to be a food blogger to participate. You don't even have to be a blogger: you can send me your post via e-mail and I'll put it on my site. So no excuses!

Terrine Primer

Okay. What's a terrine? It's really just a bunch of ingredients packed into a terrine mold, held together somehow and then removed from the mold in a block of yumminess. Or as Hillel once said, "it's like making lasagna with anything." Don't have a terrine mold? Don't sweat it. I use bread loaf pans all the time, and they work fine (some adventurous souls manage to make round ones, but I'd guess if you're going to do that then you're not reading this part). As a general rule you'll assemble the terrine the night before or that morning and eat it the following evening, but below I mention some that don't take that long.

Terrines are so pretty because of their cross-sections. You can layer the items in the dish, or you could make a line of something down the middle. Maybe you prefer a more abstract look? In amuse-bouche, Rick Tramonto has a mushroom terrine where you just dump the mushrooms in. Each slice of his terrine is a unique mosaic.

There are lots of things you can use to glue the ingredients together. I often use aspic , but anything that will hold the ingredients together and be sliceable will work. Custard is another option. Sometimes the ingredients themselves provide the glue. Ice cream terrines and cooked meat terrines usually hold themselves together. It's occasionally useful to weight down the terrine (and you should definitely do this with meat terrines, as it smushes out the air that might allow bacteria to grow): cut a piece of wood or thick cardboard to fit your terrine mold, wrap it in saran wrap, put on top of the terrine and load up with cans from your cupboards.

Now go forth and layer!

If you're stuck on what to do, here are some ideas to get your juices flowing:

  • terrine recipes from epicurious
  • First one and then another from Clotilde.
  • from Art Culinaire, issue 66: a brioche terrine stuffed with spinach and feta cheese (layer of brioche, layer of spinach/feta, layer of brioche, layer of spinach/feta, layer of brioche. Hold together with a custard, cool and serve). The full recipe is long, and probably not reliable given the magazine, so I'm only including a description.
  • Also from Art Culinaire recently, a smoked salmon and mascarpone terrine (line a small mold with plastic wrap, put one layer of smoked salmon down and have it go up the sides and over the edge, layer smoked salmon and mascarpone over and over, fold first layer of salmon over the whole assembly, wrap and weight and refrigerate until ready to cut).
  • the caprese terrine (pictured above) I made recently
  • Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking or probably anything by Richard Olney for some classic terrines
  • Fergus Henderson's The Whole Beast for some more unusual ones, but let me warn you I'll be very jealous if you make a lamb's brain terrine, since I can't get them in the U.S.
  • And when my cake idea failed for IMBB 3, well, I made a terrine

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's creations!