Once again it's Three Things Thursday, where I highlight three things that ran on the site recently that inspired, intrigued or impressed me.
Knobby, hard and fuzzy, quince won't win any beauty contests, but their intoxicating perfume lures you in. Once you know how to conquer these rugged beasts, their heady flavor -- and substantial pectin structure -- make them a preserver's dream.
Cooler, crisp days and oblique light. Autumn is upon us, and with it the first fall fruit that comes to mind. Juicy, sweet pears are delicious and versatile. Here's almost a dozen ways to preserve the bounty of the season.
Are you pumped for pumpkin season? Think beyond the Jack-o-Lantern and put up pumpkins and winter squash. You'll be living the gourd life.
Disclaimer: An electronic copy of this book was provided gratis for review, and another copy is being provided by the publisher for giveaway. I have received no monetary compensation for this review.
Dehydration can be an underappreciated form of food preservation. Most people think just of apple and banana chips, or perhaps an easy way to dry fresh herbs. Only slightly more adventurous sorts might branch out to beef jerky. However, dehydration has a far more versatile set of applications than that. In The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook: The Complete Guide to Drying Food, Plus 398 Recipes, Including Making Jerky, Fruit Leather & Just-Add-Water Meals, authors Tammy Gangloff, Steven Gangloff and September Ferguson dig deep into this oft-overlooked technique.
Far more than a simple cookbook, the authors preface the recipes with dozens of pages outlining the principles and benefits of dehydration. Since most foods are anywhere from 80-95% water before the dehydration process, removal of that water impacts the food in a number of ways. The first, of course, is that it makes it lighter, so dehydrated foods make for a useful staple pantry without taking up much room or weighing down shelves. As someone who lives in a seismically active area, the idea of adding lightweight homemade dehydrated foods to my disaster kit is very appealing indeed. Even if you're not concerned with preparedness, they also can come in useful as easy packables for camping and travel food.
The lack of moisture also abates spoilage, with many pathogens unable to grow in such dry environments. Dehydrated foods are not impervious to spoilage, though, and the authors provide erudite information on how best to store your foods so that they will last anywhere from five to 20 years.
Once again it's Three Things Thursday, where I highlight three things that ran on the site recently that inspired, intrigued or impressed me. This week, it's all about hot fruit.
Biting into a fresh, crisp apple is the quintessential taste of autumn itself. But when you are faced with more apples than you can eat out of hand, try some of these tempting ways to put them by for later use.
Gleaming purple-black elderberries are more than just delicious. They have a potent immune-improving power, so pick a peck now and prepare for cold and flu season. Here's seven ways to use them.
For a period of more than a decade, I was nearly completely vegetarian; when I did partake of flesh, it was seafood exclusively. I ate no chicken, pork, or beef during that entire time. The chink in the armor came during my first trip to Italy.
Unlike most lapsed vegetarians, the temptation that pulled me to the dark side was not bacon. It was salame.
We were standing there, on the cotta floor of a wine cantina in Montepulciano. On the counter was a wooden board with a chub of salame, a few thin slices lay flat next to a rustic blade. "You should try it," said my Roman cousin, "they make it on premises." I eyed the glossy cubes of fat embedded in brick red meat and thought to myself that I had not flown 6,000 miles not to eat it. I gingerly picked up a slice and slid it into my mouth, resting it on my tongue like a eucharist wafer.
My mouth filled with a complex blend of salt, black pepper, and a deeply savory meat. Fat slicked my palate and lips. There was no turning back.
Salumi and charcuterie have seen a renaissance in the US in the past few years. It's not uncommon for even small restaurants to have house charcuterie programs; some have even sprung up as their own product lines, like Chris Cosentino's Boccalone. Long-established brands like Columbus are still going strong, and producing high-quality, classic salame.
Back in 2010, Cathy Barrow of Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen and Kim Foster of The Yummy Mummy unveiled Charcutepalooza, a year-long blogging event wherein people made recipes from Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's Charcuterie. The response was bigger than anyone expected. And then I brought a group to Italy to work with a local norcino to break down a 200 kg pig and turn it into salumi.
Three San Francisco Bay Area chefs rolled out meat-themed books in the last year: Taylor Boetticher's In the Charcuterie, Ryan Farr's Sausage Making and Jeffrey Weiss' Charcuterìa, the Soul of Spain. All are great resources, but all dig deep on the classics.
And yet, lest you think there's nothing new under the sun, there's still room for innovation. Chef Jamie Bissonnette enters with something a bit different. (Disclosure: The publishers sent me a copy of the book gratis for review.)
Bissonnette is a firebrand, a relatively young chef who has risen the ranks swiftly, winner of the James Beard Best Chef Award, and now at the helm of two restaurants in New York (Toro, Coppa) and one outpost of Toro in Boston. He's a bearded, bespectacled, heavily inked former vegan turned nose-to-tail cook who listens to punk. In other words, he's my kinda guy.