Friday, October 31, 2008

Bits and pieces

Peter is making a lentil curry for our dinner. I’m off duty for the rest of the day. That doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about food. Some very interesting stuff looms in our future over the next week.

Corned beef: I bought a cheap cut of beef, something called a cross-rib chuck steak, on sale at Safeway about a week ago. I’m corning it. Brisket is the normal cut for corned beef, but I’ve learned (much to my surprise) that corning has long been a technique for improving wild game of various sorts. There is also something called corned lamb for sale in cans. It comes from Australia. I’ve also learned that corned beef is not an Irish tradition. Hugh, our high-end cheese purveyor at St. Kilian’s Cheese Shop, told me he never had corned beef when he was growing up in Ireland.

I cured some turkey legs in the corning brine some time ago. After they were simmered for a couple of hours they tasted great, much better than the packaged “smoked” turkey you get at the market.

After trimming up a cut of pork to make a Japanese-style curry earlier this week, I was left with some fatty strips. I put them in the same solution as the beef (not together with it) and anticipate it will turn out to be a kind of bacon. If the result is what I expect, I can see hunks of it in a cassoulet with potato and sausage. I think I will bake it after rinsing the brine off – just enough so that it’s no longer raw – and then see what happens if I grill (stovetop) a piece of it. Fascinating!

I downloaded a magnificent looking chicken pot pie recipe a few days ago. Sorry, I don’t remember the link. It has great pictures (I hope to start including some here soon).

Peter goes away from Sunday midday until Tuesday afternoon, and I’ll be thinking and planning how to share all this stuff with him when he gets back.

On another front, I bought a hand-cranked pasta machine of Ebay. I’ve seen Lydia Bastianich use one on her tv show many times. I’m excited to give it a try. My first dish will be ravioli stuffed with buttercup squash with a sage butter sauce.

The wonderful thing about winter’s approach is that we have set aside the cold and room temperature dishes and can go heavier: stews, slow-cooked hunks of protein, etc. I don’t know if today’s curry will be ample enough to be dinner again tomorrow or if we will eat it for lunch. I’ll keep an open mind about it all.

We have leftover napa cabbage which I will turn into sauerkraut over the weekend. That way, when Peter is back home, we can have homemade Reuben sandwiches next Wednesday. I had to go back through this blog to discover that I haven’t discussed cassoulet. That makes sense, as I began writing in July. Cassoulet is cool weather food. I have my recipe for it in my book, “A Year of Food.” I’ll post it here sometime soon.

Well, that’s about it for today. Mostly I’m writing to get my thoughts organized about all the delights we’ll enjoy soon.

Happy cooking and eating!

For a free excerpt of my book, “A Year of Food,” in which I opine, report, cook, muse and philosophize about everything that passed my lips for an entire year, write to me at:

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