Archive for November 2009
Fermenting and pickling are my favorite of the food preservation arts. Fermenting especially, because there’s no cooking up a brine, stuffing jars, water-boiling them. I love raw fermentation, where all you do is salt and submerge the chopped vegetables in their own juices, and then the naturally-present lactobacillus bacteria transform the vegetable sugars into lactic acid, the vinegar-like natural brine that preserves your kraut.
I started fermenting my kraut about Nov. 7, so I could connect with the great Baltimore Thanksgiving tradition. Of course, I never made sauerkraut in Baltimore nor did I ever have Thanksgiving there, but I love Gertrude’s (site of our rehearsal dinner) and meant to attend their kraut festival. So I was thrilled to find Gertie’s recipe for Sauerkraut and Apples (tips on fermenting your own kraut here). The uptown version, with dry champagne and fresh ginger, graced our Thanksgiving table. The clean tang of the kraut helped undercut the grease and heaviness of the rest of the meal. Plus, those tangy probiotic bacteria (like the ones present in yogurt) really aid in digestion. Another secret to the kraut: we sauteed it with the maple-cured, applewood-smoked pork belly I just cured with Intaba at the restaurant.
The same day I made kraut, I also made garlicky, gingerly, salty-sweet Napa cabbage kimchi, with the recipe from hip chef David Chang of Momofuku fame. I still need to make his Fuji Apple Salad with Kimchi, Smoke Jowl & Maple Labne before we eat all the kimchi in the fridge. If only we’d smoked some pork jowl with our bacon.
Already defrosting-ground lamb, bought on a whim from Afton Field Farm at rainy closing time at the Saturday market, inspired this simple, stick-to-your-ribs meal. Beef, pork, or even rabbit, yes, but you might not think to put lamb in your meat sauce. But it’s delicious, albeit with that slightly gamey, lanloiny, earthy lamb flavor. We had Mark Bittman’s vote of confidence in this endeavor. We used leek instead of onion, added garlic and fresh oregano to the mix and used milk because we didn’t have cream on hand. Pecorino Romano would have been nice–keep the lamb in the sheep’s milk of its mother, or something–but our Parmigiano-Reggiano had to do. Dan loved it. Meat and tomatoes, over pasta. Nothing makes that boy happier. And after a rain-soaked day, it was just what I needed.
Thankfully, I recovered from that unfortunate foraging experience. I’m certainly not ready to swear all scavenging off. Maybe I should stick to fruit, like these beautiful figs that drop on the sidewalk and into the street just around the corner from us. They must be a neglected student house, because the inhabitants don’t seem so interested in picking the fruit. They aren’t the sweetest, ruby red-inside black Mission figs, but in a paper bag, these ripened nicely enough.
I broiled some of them with fennel seeds for a hearty arugula salad recipe I found in The Spice Bible, which I reviewed a while back for The Sun. The recipe called for first slathering quince paste on a pork tenderloin and then broiling it. (If you don’t have membrillo, you could substitute another paste, chutney or jam.) Then you broil the fennel-crusted figs and toss both with arugula, in a light balsamic-olive oil vinaigrette. I had plenty of quince paste on hand from cooking for my Kitchen Window piece which runs Nov. 11. Speaking of quince, much of our October KBOO Food Show focused on the beguiling fruit.
And speaking of quince, we stewed some in to tarten up the applesauce I canned with a neighborhood group yesterday.
And speaking of quinces and figs, it appears there is even a new cookbook devoted to these sensuous, perfume-laden Persian fruits.