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Posts from the ‘General’ Category

Spice: Cubeb

Cubeb 1

These little drumstick shaped things are the berries of a plant in the pepper family grown chiefly in Java and Sumatra. They are most commonly called Cubeb Berries (or just plain Cubeb), but are also known as Cubeb Pepper, Java Pepper, and (by reason of their stemmed appearance) Tail Pepper. They were a common culinary spice in medieval Europe but have largely disappeared from kitchens today. You won’t likely find them in your local supermarket, but you can find them on-line. They are worth giving a try, however, as even though a member of the Pepper family, they taste nothing like the variety in common use… Read more

Spicy Pickled Bell Peppers

Spicy Pickled Bell Peppers 1

I frequently have a jar of pickled ‘Banana Peppers’ in my fridge for all sorts of purposes including making sandwiches, nachos (especially), and other things where a little fillip of tangy spice is needed. These are available commercially in my local store all the time, and they are pretty decent, but I like making my own stuff and have long wanted to stop buying the store bought variety. Unfortunately, the type of peppers I want are hard to come by and any substitutions I might use (Jalapeño, or Anaheim, for example) are generally only available in green, which. I find, turn an unattractive greyish color after they have been pickling for a while.

Anyway, I hit upon the idea of using tiny red and orange bell peppers (which have become increasingly common of late), and adding smaller, very hot chillies to the pickling mix to provide the right ‘bite’… Read more

Mint-Jalapeno Beef Ribs

Mint-Jalapeno Beef Ribs 1

Today’s post illustrates a rather interesting use for the Mint-Jalapeño Salsa I prepared for you a little while ago. I was wondering how mint could be used to produce the same delicious results with beef as it does with lamb, and using my salsa seemed like a good place to start. I am not giving you a formal recipe, as such, since, once you have the salsa prepared, all you need do is slather it on some good quality beef ribs and let them marinate overnight before giving them a good roasting in a 450 degree for about 30 minutes until nicely browned and the meat is just beginning to pull away from the ends of the bone.

As for the success of the experiment, the meat was done to a turn, and I loved the flavor as a whole but I was a bit disappointed that the mint flavor was milder than I would have liked. In truth, I wasn’t even sure that mint would go well at all with strong beefiness of the ribs but the flavor combination ended up being delicious… just not, unfortunately, strong enough. Next time, I may try marinating beef ribs in the more potent sweet-and-sour flavours of my more traditional Mint Sauce.

Sweet and Sour Fish

Sweet and Sour Fish 1

I have, of late, been trying to include a bit more fish in my diet, even though fresh fish is not easily available in these parts much of the time. Today, however, I came across some nice cod fillets in my local store. Normally, with cod, I like the basic battered ‘English Style’ fish and chips, but starchy carbs are something I am trying to avoid and so I opted for a much simpler and lighter Chinese style dish… Read more

Squid ‘Blossoms’

Squid Flowers 1

On a few occasions, I have ordered squid dishes in restaurants that consisted of the tentacles only. Mostly, these are the large type, and often come battered, as separate pieces, before being deep-fried. When I buy very tiny squid (which have been the only sort available up in these parts of late), I like to keep the whole tentacle ‘assembly’ in one piece and deep fry them without batter. The effect, once the central ring with the attached tentacles hits the oil, is to make them curl into shapes that remind me a little of flower blossoms.

Anyway, if you are cleaning tiny squid, or else have purchased them with the whole tentacle section packed separately, you can fry them up in about thirty seconds or so (with or without a light dusting of cornstarch) and serve them piping hot as a lovely little appetizer. You can provide a dip of your choice, if you like, but they are best with nothing more than a quick squeeze of lemon juice.

Zucchini Siciliano

Zucchini Siciliano 1

This dish came about largely as a means to use up some zucchini and the last of a jar of black olives. I didn’t have any special ‘nationality’ in mind but the end result reminded me of the Sicilian eggplant dish called Caponata. The flavors are all very Mediterranean and pretty darn delicious… Read more

Foodstuff- Harvest™ Brand Haggis

Haggis 1

I have had Haggis about a half-dozen times in my life (almost exclusively in restaurants) but I have never tried making one from scratch and have never had one of any sort inside my home. I was quite excited, therefore, to find a prepared commercial variety in one of our local stores. Curiously, it was the only one there and there had been none there the day before. Why ever that might be I don’t know (did the store only order one, I wonder?), but I wasn’t going to lose the opportunity to sample it so I snapped it up.

Anyway, the label contains the promotional tag ‘The Good Taste of the West’, which struck me as a little unusual, but then I saw the product is made in Saskatchewan. This is, among all the provinces and territories, the only one I have yet to visit, so I can only assume that they have permitted at least one Scottish person across their borders (possibly with a view to cornering the international haggis trade, perhaps?)… Read more

Braised Pork with Daikon

Braised Pork with Daikon 01

Today’s post is yet another half-finished piece taken from my ‘slush-pile’ of items that, for one reason or another, ended up languishing in blog limbo. Some time ago, I had in mind doing a series of posts featuring a very popular Japanese braising technique in which meat and vegetables are braised in Dashi. I still mean to carry on with the project at some point, but, for now, I thought I’d share the dish I made back on September 5, 2014, the same day I harvested the homegrown Daikon used as one of the vegetables. The notes I made that day are as follows:

Fatty Pork browned in fat. Daikon, carrot and shiitake strips added and quickly sautéed then Dashi added to barely cover. Simmer fairly vigorously until only 1/3 of liquid remains (about 20 minutes). Blanched and chopped daikon greens added for last few seconds then served hot.

Kimchi Soup (Kimchi-guk)

Kimchi Soup 1

Today, I am using some of my homemade Simple Kimchi to make a simple, but very tasty, soup. Many people may think of Kimchi as a simply a cold side-dish, or a Banchan (when included as part of a Korean meal). However, it is often used as a cooking ingredient as well. Most notably, it can be added to fried rice, it is used as a primary ingredient in particular types of Korean stews known as Kimchi-jjigae, and  is also used  in a class of soups collectively called Kimchi-guk.

As with any ‘traditional’ soup, there are as many recipes as there are cooks and, today, I didn’t have in mind any particular Korean recipe, rather, I have simply created a fairly straightforward Pork and onion soup to which I add a good, healthy dollop of Kimchi to give it a sour and spicy finish… Read more

Leek Stuffed Chicken Roll

Leek Stuffed Chicken Roll B

I start lots of culinary projects with a view to publishing them on my blog at some point but, sometimes, the odd one gets put on the back burner and languishes forgotten in a directory on my computer. I have been going back though some of these recently and have found a couple I thought my readers might like to see. This first one was for a nice little appetizer I tried one day and, though I never got around to recording all the steps, or writing up a proper recipe, I am able to reproduce my original notes:

Halved Leek sections seasoned with garlic salt, pepper and butter, wrapped in Prosciutto. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until Leek softened. Place inside a boned chicken thigh, add chopped fresh sage and roll up. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Bake until golden. Drizzle with melted red-currant jelly.

And… for the verdict I recorded?

Nice but the prosciutto was a little leathery. Bacon or Pancetta next time?  Hot Pepper Jelly might be nice here too.

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