I found some fresh Mexican chourico (chorizo) at the market the other day and it immediately reminded me of a great restaurant dish I had a while back. Not knowing when I would find fresh chourico again (around here we usually see the Spanish smoked and cured version of the spicy sausage), I bought a couple packs for freezing. So glad I did, because this dish turned out so well that I know I'm going to want to make it again soon.
Scallops with Parsnip Puree a la Sorella
I know, sort of an odd way to start a food blog post, but there….I've said it.
More specifically, "sexy" is what sold me on my latest cookbook acquisition (I know I didn't NEED another cookbook….don't judge me!). It took all of two minutes spent flipping through the pages of Sorella: Recipes, cocktails & true stories from our New York restaurant while I was waiting to check out of Williams-Sonoma the other day for sexy to work it's magic on me, and buy the book I did.
Homemade Beef Jerky
I found this recipe in the latest issue of Esquire Magazine which I had picked up for a little plane reading on my recent ski trip with the boys. I am generally not a big magazine reader, with the exception of a few cooking mags and The Economist, but I picked this one up for two reasons. First, on the cover was the terrific actor Peter Dinklage a.k.a Tyrion Lannister from the great HBO show Game of Thrones, both a favorite actor and show of ours. Second, the mag had a feature called "Eat Like A Man", and hey, we were men on a men's vacation….. so Esquire was my choice for the flight to Colorado.
Skewered Peaches with Basil and Prosciutto
Got a bottle of bubbly that's just itching for a culinary companion? Look no further, 'cause this taste of summer is the perfect cocktail party treat, and oh so pretty to boot!
This little ditty is a simplified version of a recipe I saw on Epicurious some time ago. Not that the original was much more complicated, but it called for tossing the peach wedges in a mixture of sugar, sherry vinegar and cumin.
The local peaches we had were so perfectly ripe, sweet and succulent that I couldn't bring myself to #$%& with them in any way, so I simply wrapped them gently in prosciutto and skewered them to fresh basil leaves from the garden. Each was a little wedge of heaven, I must say.
If I had less than stellar peaches I'm sure that the recipe as written would have really kicked them up a notch, but we certainly enjoyed the sweet-salty-herbal perfection of this unadulterated version. This one is so simple that I'm not even going to type out a formal recipe.
Simply slice each peach into 6 wedges, and slice each piece of prosciutto or serrano ham in half lengthwise. Wrap each piece of ham around a peach wedge, place atop a basil leaf and skewer the whole thing together with a toothpick, metal, or bamboo pick. If your peaches are less than perfect and you want to dress them up some, the original recipe called for tossing 3 peaches worth of wedges in a mix of 1/4 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin. Enjoy!
Cheers – Steve
Can anyone out there think of two words that go together better than the two in the title of this post?
No….neither can I.
Back in the heady days of Charcutepalooza, I missed the bacon making challenge as I was a few weeks late to the game. Ever since, I've been dying to try my hand at it and see how much better bacon could be when crafted at home, from scratch. As luck would have it I had two critical pieces of the bacon making puzzle fall into my lap over the past months. First, my parents bought me a cool, fire-engine red Brinkmann Electric Smoker for Christmas (thanks, M&D!), then my friend Alicia turned me on to a great new artisanal butcher shop in Somerville called M.F. Dulock. Everything looked so good at Dulock that it took all my will not to buy out the entire shop! I was a good boy and bought only the pork belly and a handful of delicious lamb rib chops for dinner that night. But in the words of our country's most famous philandering Governor, I've no doubt that…."I'll be back".
Homemade Fennel Salami
Though I didn't do a very good job at keeping pace with my Charcutepalooza brethren, and flat out missed a few posts, I did want to share these lovelies with you because they turned out so well. They were far superior to all but the best artisinal salamis you'll find around these days, fragrant with just the right amount of chew, and exhibit a great fennel flavor. I timed them to be fully cured, dried and ready to eat when our guests arrived for Thanksgiving (because quite frankly, we wouldn't have had nearly enough food for everyone otherwise). Once my nephew's recovered from their shock of finding what appeared to be dismembered penises hanging in my wine closet, these were a huge hit and enjoyed by all.
Those of you who have been intrigued by my various Charcutepalooza posts over the past few months, and would like to try your hand at making your own "meat", but can't imagine taking the time to grind, season, stuff, and smoke your own charcuterie, this post is for YOU!
Nathan's Hot Dogs
No, this is not a picture of a "Nathan's" hot dog from the world renowned "Nathan's Famous" on Coney Island, NY.
This is even better!
Hey, I've got nothing against "Nathan's Famous" dogs, in fact of all the commercially made franks I've tried, they are my favorites, but these homemade beauties leave even Coney Islands' famed meat tube in the dust.
We were originally going to make these hot dogs for a Charcutapalooza challenge a few months back, but weren't able to schedule all the right folks in the kitchen to meet the deadline and so let the challenge pass. In the meantime, we've had the pleasure to meet the son of a friend, Nathan, who as a high school freshman, is already an accomplished cook. When he heard we were trying to find time to make hot dogs, he expressed an interest in joining in the fun.
We were happy to have him join us in the kitchen that day, plus let's face it, with a name like Nathan, this kid was born to make hot dogs!
Bangers and Mash with Guinness Onion Gravy – Charcutepalooza #6
It appears as though I jumped the gun and got a bit ahead of myself for last month's Charcutepalooza challenge when I made "stuffed" sausages. Marching orders from our lovely High-Preistesses of Pork, Cathy (Mrs. Wheelbarrow) and Kim (The Yummy Mummy) were for us just to "grind" meat into sausage, we were not required at that point to "stuff" said meat into casings, that is THIS month's challenge. If I were any good at all at following directions I would have caught that subtle detail, saved us a bit of work on this end, and formed our spicy merguez into patties rather than links. Oh well….I'm not complaining because our merguez-frites sandwich was an unqualified success and the practice we gained by stuffing the casings with our kitchen-aid meant that this month's challenge was that much easier, as we are now well seasoned stuffers.
As you've no doubt gleaned from the title of this post, this month's challenge takes us to the British Isles and one of the more famous of their silly named dishes.
What is it with these folks anyway, is it just me, or have they raised the craft of concocting strange names for dishes to a high art? Let's see there's "Bubble and Squeak", "Toad in the Hole", "Cullen Skink", "Black Pudding", "Bangers and Mash", and the ever popular "Spotted Dick". Excuse me?
Merguez Frites – Charcutepalooza #5
“THE POWER AND THE GLORY: ANIMAL FAT, SALT, AND THE PIG COME TOGETHER IN ONE OF THE OLDEST, DIVINE-YET-HUMBLE CULINARY CREATIONS KNOWN TO HUMANKIND”………
So begins Chapter 4 of Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s fabulous book, “Charcuterie”, and to this, all I can say is…..amen, brothers. Never before has the beauty that is sausage been described more accurately and succinctly than Michael does here……I get goosebumps every time I read these words.
As you may have already guessed, the challenge this month laid down by the High-Mistresses of Charcutepalooza, Mrs. Wheelbarrow (Cathy), and The Yummy Mummy (Kim), was to craft homemade sausage. In doing so, we were to add to our growing list of experiences in all things charcuterie. So far we’ve hot smoked, brined, and salt cured, and for this month (at least for me), we’re breaking out the power tools for a little “grinding and stuffing”…..hallelujah!