All right, kiddos! To kick off the Festa di Salumi, I teamed up with my friend Scott, an avid DIYer and Punk Domestics contributor, to take on some projects from the book. Salame is the order of the day, and so we each picked one that piqued our interest most. For me, finocchiona, one of my favorite salami, and for Scott, the porcini salame. After all, who doesn't love a little porcini?
Making salame isn't actually all that hard, but it does require a lot of steps, no small amount of attention to detail, and more than a little luck when it comes to the curing phase. But at the front end of the process, the most important part is planning and prep. You want everything ready to go so you can move quickly from one step to the next. Make sure your meat and fatback are cubed and well chilled, nearly frozen. While you're at it, place your grinder attachment and accoutrements as well as the bowl in the freezer, too. The colder everything is, the better off you'll be.
For the finocchiona, Scott first toasted the fennel seeds in a dry skillet.
After which it's time to take the mortar and pestle to them. Oh, the smell. Like the perfume of angels.
Get your mise en place in order -- you don't want to waste time measuring out spices and whatnot while your meat is hanging around, getting warm.
And don't forget to soak your casings. We used beef middles that Scott ordered from Butcher & Packer.
Okay, everything in place? Good. Then it's time to grind.
And grind.Read More >
Friends! Ruminants! Charcutiers! Lend me your ears!
Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn are back with a followup to Charcuterie, which enjoyed a latter-day resurgence in popularity due to the phenomenal Charcutepalooza challenge that dominated 2011. This time they've returned with the next logical extension, Salumi, focusing on the rich world of Italian cured meats. (See Cathy Barrow's review of the book on Food52, complete with a recipe for salame cotto.)
For the unfamiliar, salumi is the generic Italian word for all cured meats -- including salami. And salame is the singular of salami. I know, not at all confusing. But salumi also include all the other wonderfully delicious salted pig parts like pancetta, guanciale, coppa, lardo, and of course the mother of them all, prosciutto.Read More >
Once again it's Three Things Thursday, where I highlight three things that ran on the site recently that inspired, intrigued or impressed me. Here's this week's picks:
Once again it's Three Things Thursday, where I highlight three things that ran on the site in the last week that inspired, intrigued or impressed me. Here's this week's picks:
With so much interest being focused on homemade food, it seems only natural that curiosity will eventually lead outgoing folks beyond the normal canning and cooking and start looking at ways of making their own versions of those grocery store items we always seem to have around.
In The Homemade Pantry, author Alana Chernila brings us into her admittedly “unexpected” kitchen to share her takes on popular pantry staples. After offering some tool recommendations (air popper, blender, dehydrator, food processor, stand mixer) Chernila tackles the subject of whether or not making all these items at home is actually financially feasible, a subject that often arises when comparing homemade to store bought foods. Her take on it not only concerns cost, but taste, time and thrill as well. She cleverly leaves the decision to the reader since quantifying whether something is “worth it” has more to do with personal taste than the number on your grocery receipt.
Then we move on to a section on making good use of your freezer. Why make enough lasagna for one meal when you can easily make two and store on in the freezer for a later date, saving you time down the road? Vegetables and snacks can also be frozen to extend their shelf life, helping you save that massive amount of green beans you bought on sale a little bit longer.
Once the basics have been covered, we head to the various grocery store aisles on a quest for healthier alternatives to the often preservative laden treats and staples we purchase on a regular basis. A lot of these things would seem like no-brainers to those of us who spend a lot of time in the kitchen: Soups, salad dressing, spice mixes. While others, like the homemade toaster pastries (recipe below), potato chip or fig bar recipes give more experienced cooks something to appreciate as well.
The recipes are easy to follow and well written, and cover a plethora of food types including, soups, cereals, snacks, baking needs, condiments and more. If you've ever thought about making your own ketchup and mustard, you can find out how here. While I never would have taken the time to make my own hot sauce, the recipe offered here makes a nice alternative to the stuff you get in bottles. It also allows you spice it to the perfect amount of hotness for your personal taste.
The chapter on dairy will also be illuminating for a lot of people. Some cheeses, such as cream cheese, mozarella and ricotta may not seem like easy home projects, but with the help of a yoghurt maker, they are somewhat of a breeze. Surprisingly, most of the time involved in cheese making is waiting for the curds to form. Little gems of information like this is where The Homemade Pantry really shines.Read More >
I imagine few among us have never considered taking our passion for food craft to the next stage. Perhaps you've mastered a certain jam, or have a secret recipe for a killer BBQ sauce, or have even conquered the holy grails of cheese making, home brewing or charcuterie. Would you take it to market?
It's not for the weak of heart, which is why I'm always so impressed by those that do. It's also why I'm a big fan of the Good Food Awards. In their third year now, they seek out the best craft foods in the nation, aiming to put them on a pedestal for the world to see.
I know some of you in the Punk Domestics community have taken the leap and turned your perfect creations into market-ready goods. And so I hope that each of you will select your finest products and submit them to the Good Food Awards. The entry period is currently open; simply go here to fill out the entry form before August 31. If you're selected, your product will be up for blind tasting in October.
The winners are announced at a grand gala in San Francisco in January, and a lavish affair it is. I had the pleasure of attending the first year (last year I was in Italy -- no pity, please!) It's such a pleasure to see the hard work of these artisans recognized. And it's an even greater pleasure to taste their handicrafts directly.Read More >
It's hard to believe that it's been seven months since our inaugural trip to Cesenatico, Italy, to learn the art of salumi, preserves and other food craft at the hands of local artisans. Every moment of that trip is indelibly emblazoned into my mind, and a day does not pass that I do not reflect on it fondly. I've been positively itching to get back there.
Consequently, I've been working with my friend Vanessa again to build our next trip. While we both felt that the first trip went fantastically, we already knew that we could make the next trip bigger, better and all around awesomer. And that's exactly what we're doing.
What's that you say? You didn't even know we went to Italy? Well, you simply must read about it all: Our morning making traditional preserves; our excursions to see prosciutto, Parmigiano-Reggiano and balsamico production; the amazing morning hand-rolling pasta with nonna Fernanda and Sandra, la sfoglina; of course our big day breaking down the pig and making salumi; and so, so much more.
See that picture up there? That's Marzia, who taught our preserves class, with Sharon, an attendee from San Francisco. That's pretty much how I remember the entire trip. But don't take my word for it -- others have chimed in with their thoughts on the trip as well. Truly, I can say with great confidence that a very good time was had by all.
So what do you say, wanna join us next January? I sure hope so, because we've got an amazing itinerary built. We've even expanded the trip by a day to pack in more awesomeness.
You know you want to.Read More >
Once again it's Three Things Thursday, where I highlight three things that ran on the site in the last week that inspired, intrigued or impressed me. I often say I learn something new every day moderating content on Punk Domestics, and this past week has been rich with learnings. Here's this week's picks:
If you thought I could constrain myself to just one installment of Food in Jars' Drink Week, clearly you do not know me well at all.
For the second year in a row, I am coordinating the DIY contests at the Eat Real Festival in Oakland, coming up this September. So if you're in northern California, and you've got some preserves, pickles, home brew or homemade condiments that you think are the cat's meow, you better get them ready for submission. We'll judge the heck out of them.
Last year, we had a category for infusions and liqueurs, a subject dear to my heart. In building the panel of judges, I sought out cocktailians, mixologists and expert boozehounds of all stripes. Among them was my friend Michael Cecconi, a recent transplant from New York. There, he was something of a mixology hotshot, having worked with and eventually taken over for the illustrious Dale DeGroff's role teaching at the Institute for Culinary Education, where he still teaches. Cecconi may have been a newcomer to the Bay Area just one short year ago, but he's already made a name for himself as head bartender at the newish Two Sister Bar & Books in Hayes Valley. So when I was cogitating on ideas for something new and different for Drink Week, he was the first person that came to mind.
Cecconi gamely offered up what I considered to be something of a holy grail -- a housemade vermouth recipe, something I had researched but never encountered a recipe that felt right to me. His had a foundation of balsamic, dried cherries and a copious dose of pink peppercorn, a surprising mix to me, but one that intrigued nonetheless. The net result is something that you can use fairly interchangeably with sweet vermouth, but with a deeper, dark fruit flavor and a high, spicy note from the pink peppercorns. Read More >