My Mother’s Canned Peaches

peachesHigh on the list of the many things my mother does very, very well in the kitchen is pickling and preserving. During the summertime, my telephone conversations with my parents usually go something like this:

Me: What have you been doing?

Mom/Dad, triumphantly: We now have 27 quarts of blueberries from our own bushes!

Or,

We bought a bushel of tomatoes at the farmstand!

Or sometimes,

We picked three huge baskets of chanterelles!

And then later,

Your mother made the most incredible [insert] [jam/pickles/sauce/pie/vegetable tart/canned peaches/pears/plums]! Continue reading

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Preserved Salted Kumquats

DSC_0491aWhen I lived in Seattle, I had a chef friend who on slow Sundays would invite me to the restaurant while he developed new dishes. The restaurant was near the Pike Place Market, and on clear afternoons the sun shone from the west, glinting off of Puget Sound, illuminating and warming the timbers in the restaurant. I would get tipsy on prosecco or minerally white wine, and taste the nascent dishes. I only remember one thing I tried, but it made such a strong impression on me that I think about it still. Buttery yellowtail sashimi, studded with finely-sliced tiny golden pinwheels, crunchy flakes of salt, dots of basil purée, and extra virgin olive oil. It was the little iridescent pinwheels that threw me. They were deeply tangy, salty, and aromatic, with a concentrated, citrusy flavour that threw the taste of the rich fatty fish into relief. “What is this?” I asked. “Preserved kumquats,” he said. Continue reading

Another Roll in the Allium (More Wild Garlic Recipes)

Unless you’ve been under a rock or you live in the Southern hemisphere, you probably know that wild garlic is currently in season. Wild garlic, called wild leeks or ramps in the United States, is annoyingly but deservedly trendy. It is (a) delicious; (b) beautiful; and (c) did I mention delicious? As I discovered, it also freezes beautifully; although the leaves lose their structural integrity, they maintain their colour and pungent flavour. To freeze wild garlic, simply chop finely or puree in a food processor, pack in a Tupperware, and pop in your freezer.

Perhaps, like me, you were lucky enough to “find” wild garlic actually growing wild, and you greedily picked way more than you could possibly use at once. (It still counts as finding it if someone else found it first and showed you where, right?) Or maybe you bought a bunch at a Farmers Market, used some leaves in a recipe, and now are wondering what the heck to do with the rest. Or maybe you just need a little inspiration. Whatever your need, here are three lovely things to do with wild garlic when you’re at a loss. For what it’s worth, all of these recipes were made using wild garlic that I had previously frozen. Continue reading

Duck Egg Pasta

I have already shared my stock fresh pasta method on this blog, but for the past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about making pasta using duck eggs. It is a simple truth: DUCK EGGS MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER. I have a friend who, when he dines out, literally cannot resist any menu item that includes a duck egg. For once I’m not talking about myself – but I too am enthralled by duck eggs. I love the iron richness of duck egg yolk and the way the yolk is so much more unctuous, so silky and luxurious, compared to the yolk of a hen’s egg. When you add a duck egg to something, the egg is the thing: it’s not just a garnish; it becomes the centrepiece of a dish.

Fresh pasta is best if it’s made with really nice eggs, so it stands to reason that it would be even more delicious made with duck eggs. Continue reading

Cleaning Squid

Yes, even an old humbug like me can get into the holiday spirit. I’m about to go cook glorious food with the marvelously talented Simon from ferdiesfoodlab, I had a spectacularly successful day yesterday buying holiday gifts for my family, and I’m leaving in just FOUR SHORT DAYS for a Caribbean vacation. So as you can imagine I’m feeling pretty all right today. Because I’ve been sick for much of this week (cue sympathetic murmurs and get well wishes) I haven’t done much (read, any) cooking. But buzzing away in the back of my brain is a promise I made and have not yet fulfilled. A few weeks ago I blogged a Malaysian Squid Curry, and David from The Clean Platter (a genuinely funny, beautifully-written blog by a fearless Midwestern cook) asked me to write a post on how to clean squid. Continue reading

Duck Confit

For something that is so delicious, making confit de canard is remarkably easy. The rich fatty duck legs are first cured in salt and then cooked very slowly in rendered fat, so that some of the moisture and natural juices from the meat are extracted and replaced by the fat. The legs preserved in this way can then be stored in your refrigerator in the fat, where they literally will keep for months. Continue reading

Aioli

I love making mayonnaise. I love the colour, I love the texture, and I especially love the flavour of homemade mayonnaise. Aioli, the rich garlicky mayonnaise from southern France, is particularly delectable. Serve it with fried fish, cold cooked shrimp or crab, or put some on the table when serving roast chicken. Continue reading

My Fresh Pasta

When I googled “fresh pasta recipe” just now, I came up with over four million hits. Even assuming some of those hits are for recipes with fresh pasta you buy at the store and porn sites (you know how devious those porny spammers are), I would conservatively estimate that hundreds of thousands of them, if not over a million, are recipes for making fresh pasta.

Everybody’s doing it. It’s a rite of cheffy passage. By the late 90’s, you couldn’t go to a cocktail party without overhearing a foodie ‘casually’ mention the fresh pasta they’d made the other night. Continue reading

White Chicken Stock

Pardon the soapbox.

White chicken stock is, in my opinion, the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT BASIC INGREDIENT IN YOUR KITCHEN. I know white chicken stock isn’t hip. It smacks of Jewish grandmothers (in my case, Jewish mothers), 1950s casseroles, and white sauces. And people love to coo and preen about their brown chicken stock. But I think there is nothing you can get from a brown chicken stock that a veal stock can’t do better, whereas your white chicken stock unobtrusively and self-effacingly Continue reading