This rather gnarly looking object is not a withered old tree branch, but rather is the root vegetable that is the source of that sharp, pungent white condiment usually only encountered in jars purchased at the supermarket. Most people are well familiar with the commercial product as an especially good accompaniment to roast beef, but it does have other uses as well. It is sometimes used in ‘Bloody Mary’ concoctions, it works well as a sandwich spread for all sorts of creations (and not just those using cold beef), and it is very commonly used to provide the sharp bite of the standard seafood cocktail sauce. Quite a few Cole-slaw sauces also use it too. The purchased varieties are fine to use, as long as you don’t let them age too long, but there are some benefits to using the fresh article that are also worth investigating… Read more
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
In the last few months, the availability and variety of lamb products has expanded tremendously up here on Baffin Island. Lamb has never traditionally been a widely popular meat in Canada and I attribute the new increased demand to signal a shift in the demographic. There has been a Mosque here in Iqaluit for about a year now and, since I haven’t noticed any sudden influx of Australians or Greeks of late, I rather think that the noticeably increased numbers of immigrants from the Middle East has brought about this welcome change.
Anyway, in addition to some other lamb products, there is a new line of packaged items produced under the name LÄM, a registered trademark of the ‘Canadian Lamb Producers Co-operative’. The website for the cooperative lists their products as being Burgers, Sausages, Kabobs and Meatballs, and, thus far, I have seen the first three of these available locally. I mean to try the Burgers and Kabobs in due course but, today, I am going to try out the Sausage… Read more
A few weeks ago, a colleague of mine dropped by for a beer and brought me the jar of Puttanesca Pasta Sauce you see pictured above. The timing was rather coincidental as I had been planning to do a blog post about Puttanesca Sauce for some time now as it is a favorite of mine and the origin of the name, which essentially means ‘Prostitute’s Sauce’, is a bit of a mystery. On reading the label, I was informed that Pasta Puttanesca was ‘first served in a popular night spot on the island of Ischia in the 1950’s’. This is the first time I have heard that tidbit of information and it is something I want to research a little further. I still plan to do a more detailed post on the Puttanesca Sauce, along with my own recipe, so for today I’ll save any further discussion of the origins and restrict myself to a taste test of the instant product… Read more
At one time, a ‘Madras Curry’ was a standard on Indian restaurant menus in the west, and was also a fairly common recipe entry in Indian cookery books. It seems, however, to be a little less frequently encountered these days and this is perhaps because the Indian City of Madras (whence the name) is now known as Chennai, and the eponymous curry was probably more of an Anglo-Indian, rather than a purely Indian creation. Whatever the case, the Madras Curry is still something of a classic and well worth adding to one’s culinary repertoire.
In my research of a wide variety of spice blends, I have found that the Madras Curry blend is the closest to what most westerners would call the ‘curry flavor’ and the typical ingredients are much the same as found in the generic ‘Curry Powder’ you can find in almost any supermarket. The one major difference between the two, as far as I have seen, is that the generic type tends to be high in Turmeric and low in Chili, while, in a Madras blend, the reverse is usually true. In this post, we will have a quick look at the general composition and then I’ll provide a fairly straightforward version that you can use as a starting point for your own culinary creations… Read more
If you have ever perused any Filipino cookery books, or Filipino recipes on the Internet, you have probably come across the name ‘Bagoong’ from time to time. Most sources confidently assert that ‘Bagoong’ is a fermented shrimp paste but this is only partly correct as there are many varieties made with fish as well. The fish types are collectively known by the name ‘Bagoóng Isdâ’, but there are also specific names depending on the type of fish being used. If a Bagoong is made with shrimp, however (and most commonly the super tiny variety known as ‘krill’, is used), then, strictly speaking, it should be called Bagoóng Alamáng.
Like Terasi and Belcan, or Chinese Shrimp Paste, the Filipino variety is manufactured by allowing small shrimp to ferment with salt. However, in the Philippines, the ‘raw’ product is only used in limited ways (generally as a condiment on cooked rice or fresh fruit), and, instead, it is generally cooked before packaging for sale, often with other ingredients such as garlic, chili or onion. Sometime ago, I actually featured the Lingayen Brand in a foodstuff post (which is a fairly complex variety), but I didn’t specifically identify it as a ‘Bagoong Alamang’. Here, I thought I might use the ‘Barrio Fiesta’ brand as a vehicle for a general discussion of the condiment as it is a pretty decent representative of the type … Read more
If you have eaten at a Vietnamese restaurant more than a few times, you have probably encountered this particular item in one appetizer dish or another. These semi-translucent circles are made from a very thin batter made with rice flour that is poured into bamboo trays and then dried, usually in the sun. The trays are generally made with a lattice of bamboo and this leaves a visible impression on the dried sheets, as you can see above. The dried discs originate in Vietnam, where they are known as ‘Bánh tráng’, and I have always thought this is probably a better name for them, even in the west, as ‘rice paper’ actually has several different (non-culinary) meanings.
Rice paper was, for a long time, generally only available in Asian stores in larger urban centers in the west, but they have become much more widely available these days. They actually come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and there are even types with different textural and flavor additives like sesame seeds, or dried shrimp to be found. For this post, however, we will be focusing on the basic form, which is the most widely known and commonly available… Read more
I have regularly had a jar of freeze-dried Chives from Litehouse™ in my cupboard for some time now and, at present, I also have jars of their Sage and Parsley as well. Those products are pretty decent, if not especially remarkable, and, when I came across a jar of their freeze-dried Lemon Grass I wanted to see if this might be a useful substitute to have on hand when the fresh article is unavailable… Read more
This is a rather interesting little fruit you may wish to try if you get the chance. I found it at our local supermarket labelled as a ‘Spiny Melon’ but it is also known as the ‘Horned Melon’, ‘Blow fish fruit’ and ‘Melano’. It is native to Africa but it is now being cultivated in the Antipodes, South America and also California, which is where, I suspect, mine was grown. To be honest, while I was glad to try something new, I can’t say I much enjoyed the experience… Read more
I don’t do a lot of hot-pot or fondue meals and when I use stocks or broths in cookery I mostly make it myself from scratch. That being said, though, I do like to keep a bit of commercially made stock on hand for emergencies and, generally, Campbell’s Chicken Broth is my ‘go-to’ product of choice as it is good tasting without a lot of herbal of other flavorings that might limit its use.
Recently, I came across the three products you see pictured above. They are manufactured by Canton, a Canadian company, and although I did not immediately recognize the name I saw, from their website, that they also do a line of prepared fondue and dipping sauces. I haven’t actually tried any of these but I have at least seen them in grocery stores.
In any event, the broth products are manufactured primarily for making fondues and hot-pots and, while I was not interested in buying them for this purpose, I thought I might give them a try to see how they might fare as an ‘emergency’ broth to have on hand… Read more