Category Archive 'Cuisine'
25 Jan 2013
Kanuma potting soil
Chef Toshio Tanabe of the Ne Quittez Pas Restaurant in Tokyo’s Gotanda district, specializing in French Seafood, has captured a great deal of attention by incorporating kanuma dirt, a granular acidic clay from Tochigi Prefecture, commonly used as potting soil for bonsai (particulary for Azaleas, Camellias, Gardenias and other acid loving plants), as a key ingredient in his cuisine.
Chef Tanabe first won a cooking contest on the basis of a sauce made with kanuma dirt. He subsequently developed a series of dishes, including a soup, a salad dressing, rissotto, gratin, and even ice cream showcasing his new ingredient. Some dishes made with kanuma dirt cost as much as $110, and those who’ve tried them found them delicious.
Hat tip to Vanderleun.
Kanuma soil gratin
20 May 2012
Gizmodo has the news on a new cut of steak that before long will be coming to the meat counter near you.
A self-proclaimed Meat Geek has teamed up with Oklahoma State University to devise the first new style of steak in years.
“The Vegas Strip Steak is the latest and perhaps last steak to be found from the beef carcass,” said Jacob Nelson, a value-added meat processing specialist (and owner of the best job title of all time) at the Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center of Oklahoma State University. The Vegas Strip is the brainchild of Tony Mata, of industry group Mata & Associates, who approached Nelson and the FAPC for help developing the cut. “Initially, the cut was labeled as undervalued,” Mata told the Drovers Cattle Network. “Whenever we can take a muscle and turn it into a steak rather than grinding it or selling it as a roast, we are adding value to the carcass.”
The steak itself weighs in at about 14 ounces and can be portioned out as small as 4 ounces. The taste, tenderness, and flavor are reportedly akin to a New York Strip or Flat Iron cut. “The tenderness of the Vegas Strip Steak is comparable to the New York Strip Steak,” said Mata. “It does not require aging or marinating to achieve tenderness and its visual appeal enhances the steak eater’s overall enjoyment.” ...
Most interesting is the fact that this new cut of meat apparently counts as intellectual property, replete with its own licensing and a patent on the cut’s fabrication. Mata and Gresh have yet to reveal where, exactly, the cut comes from but they’ve already lined up national suppliers so we should be getting a taste of Vegas at the local butcher shop soon.
07 Feb 2012
Heather Smith tells us that Hmong immigrant oriental hunters in the Midwest and locavore foodies looking for new thrills are converging on a new interest in squirrel hunting and eating.
Until recent decades, Americans ate squirrel meat because it was cheap, plentiful, and there, according to Hank Shaw, author of Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast. Domesticated animals may have been easier to catch, but, in the days before the industrialization of farming, they were expensive to raise and feed. “When Herbert Hoover promised a chicken in every pot, that was a big deal,” Shaw adds. The first edition of The Joy of Cooking, published in 1931, was heavy on the squirrel. As it moved into later and later editions, Hoover’s promise was fulfilled (by other politicians, if not Hoover himself) and chicken gradually replaced squirrel.
Shaw shot his first squirrel when he was working as a reporter for a daily paper in Minnesota. He’d made it through an underpaid stint as a cub reporter in Long Island by catching and eating his own fish. When he arrived in Minnesota, though, he could not help but take note of the squirrels. The state has such a vibrant squirrel scene that a cottage industry has grown up around trapping and removing ones that have moved into people’s homes. Shaw bought a few books about squirrel hunting off the internet, applied for a license to hunt them, and got to it.
In doing so, he placed himself on the vanguard of the re-squirreling of the American diet. Squirrel-eating has been trendy in Great Britain for half a decade now — spurred by a nationalistic fervor to kill as many as possible of the invasive American gray squirrel, which is outcompeting the domestic red squirrel (the latter had the good fortune to star in a Beatrix Potter book, one of the best ways to cement your status as charismatic megafauna). ...
It’s hard to imagine more sustainable local game — squirrels are abundant, far from endangered, and don’t even require refrigeration the way that big game does. The standard rule of thumb is that one squirrel = enough meat for one dinner for one person. The squirrel is road food — the kind of prey that fed cross-country hikers, in the days before MRE and freeze-dried lentils. Squirrel is like the drive-through cheeseburger of the forest — albeit a cheeseburger that needs to be gutted first.
They’re also delicious, mostly because they eat nuts. “Rabbits — they’re grass eaters. The flavor is milder. Squirrels taste like something,” says Shaw. “It’s gamey in a good way.”
I shot squirrels as a boy whenever I had the opportunity, but my parents had no interest whatsoever in cooking them. I always gave away my squirrels to my grandparents or neighbors, who always assured me that squirrels were delicious.
I do not believe that Pennsylvania methods of squirrel preparation had the slightest resemblance to what we see in the video below. I know that people where I lived skinned their squirrels and removed the head.
Hat tip to Zack Beauchamp.
08 Mar 2011
Matt Stopera offers photos of sixteen items you’ll only find at a Walmart in China. What on earth is number 6?
06 Jan 2011
A well developed sense of humor is a characteristic feature of Virginians, but not of government officials, even in Virginia. The Virginia DMV has banned my favorite vanity license plate. I’ve actually seen this plate driving by on local roads.
Matt Hardigree has the unhappy details.
H/t to Karen L. Myers.
Mochi (a chewy rice cake served during Japanese New Year celebrations) kills more people than Fugu (sushi made from a blowfish containing tetrodotoxin). The Telegraph explains why.
An apple tree consumed the remains of Rhode Island founder Roger Williams. Greg Ross has details.
Via Ka Ching.
Daniel Mitchell predicts how Barney Frank and Henry Waxman will react when the Constitution is read aloud.
26 Dec 2010
Emmylou Cakehead posted classic English recipes for Plum Cake and Christmas Pudding typed by George Orwell himself. Her images were a bit too small to read, so I enlarged them and tinkered with the contrast.
15 Jul 2010
The way the French do it. 1:33 video.
01 Mar 2010
Want to make crème anglaise the easy way? Just get a Thermonix. What red-blooded American consumer can turn down one of these?
Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.
18 Jan 2010
You can buy real Smithfield Hams right here in the United States for around $100. The traditional Virginia country ham is awfully good, but Virginia hams don’t come with special metal DNA ID tags, and their former owners are not alleged to have enjoyed a special diet of acorns each on his own 10 hectare (24.7 acre) dihasa.
The Albarragena Jamon Iberico de Bellota hams are cured and aged three years, as opposed to “up to a year” for Smithfield hams.
Hmmm. Three times the aging at 29x the price. I think I’ll pass.
“The world’s most expensive ham” has gone on sale in London, according to retailer Selfridges.
The leg of Iberico ham, which costs £1,800 ($2931.84), went on sale at the food hall in the retailer’s flagship store in Oxford Street, central London.
The 7kg (15lb) ham leg comes with its own DNA certificate as proof of authenticity.
Pig farmer and ham expert Manuel Maldonado selected 50 pigs that were reared in Extremadura in western Spain.
The pigs were fed on a diet of acorns and roots to give the ham a distinctive flavour.
After being slaughtered their ham was salted and cured for three years, before going on sale in a hand-made wooden box wrapped in an apron made by a Spanish tailor.
16 Dec 2009
Peanut worm (Sipunculida)—Sipunculid worm jelly (土笋冻) is a delicacy in the town of Xiamen in Fujian province of China. Above: Sipinculus nudus
Jeremy Alban Dorman, in the Telegraph, reminisces about his gustatory adventures in the further reaches of Chinese dining.
While in China, I often felt I was rather like William Buckland, the 19th-century naturalist, who was noted, among other eccentricities, for attempting to eat his way through the entire animal kingdom. There seemed to be nothing the Chinese wouldn’t ingest. I never came across stir-fried sponge, though I won’t eliminate the possibility of there being a sponge restaurant somewhere in Guangdong province. All other members of major, or in the case of the sipunculids, minor, animal phyla find themselves on to Chinese menus, occasionally unwanted, of course, like the nematodes I once discovered wriggling on top of a bowl of noodles.
Over my years in China I added jellyfish, sea cucumber, silk worm pupae, cicada, scorpion, frog, snake, turtle and, I am ashamed to say, dog, as well as the sipunculids, to my list of new gustatory experiences. I also tried various odd parts of vertebrates that we wouldn’t normally eat such as bull’s aorta, pig’s lungs, pigs’ feet tendons and chickens’ feet.
The Chinese place extraordinary value on some foods which we consider worthless, like the unfortunate sharks’ fins, and sea cucumbers, which can sell for up to four hundred pounds per half kilo, yet have no taste and little nutritional value at all. I was so impressed by the demand for these humble marine vacuum cleaners that I made vague plans to begin farming them in east Africa. Perhaps fortunately, no-one else considered it a worthwhile endeavour, so I became a teacher instead.
The Chinese appear to derive more pleasure from the texture of their food than the actual taste. An army colonel I once taught told me that he loved nothing more than to munch on a plate of ducks’ beaks while having his evening beer. A shop near my last apartment sold nothing but ducks’ beaks, necks and feet and assorted internal organs – a sort of duck spare part shop. Similarly I was once taken to a fish-head restaurant. The head is considered to be by far the best part of the fish, and I got a sudden vision of fishermen filleting their catch on the way home from sea, tossing the heads and vertebrae into their baskets, and hurling the juicy fillets to the gulls.
Some Chinese dishes are remarkable for the sheer incongruity of their ingredients. A Sichuan dish I once tried consisted of eel, tripe, blood pudding, bean sprouts and noodles – any possible taste was obliterated by the hundreds of burning chillies. Another unlikely concoction I tried only once was baby squid fried with green peppers and pig’s heart. A Shandong speciality is made up of pork pieces (mostly bone), fish pieces (likewise), seaweed and chickens’ heads.
Trying to replicate such dishes in one’s own kitchen, should one wish to, is always doomed to failure. I well remember my first encounter with a packet of jellyfish. I chose the particular brand because the instructions were written in English, of sorts.
“It is nutritional foods of you and dainty dish of perfect daily”, it read helpfully. “Stir-fry is put jellyfish in boiler when added meat, shallot, ginger, garlic and stir-fried”. I followed the instructions, and not surprisingly, the jellyfish turned into water and evaporated.
The sipunculids, by the way, tasted only of soy sauce and ginger. I have since become a vegetarian.
20 Jun 2009
A 15th century manuscript of the Forme of Cury, a book of recipes compiled by Richard II’s master cooks, from the collection of the John Rylands Library of the University of Manchester has been digitized, making available online in its original form one of the most famous medieval cookbooks.
The Forme includes recipes for pike, porpoise, blancmange, and even “loseyns” (lasagna), a dish of baked pasta with cheese.
An 18th century printed edition is also available online at Project Gutenberg.
19 Dec 2008
The inimitable George Leonard Herter
Back in the 1950s and the 1960s, the annual two-inch thick telephone directory-sized Herter’s catalogue, arriving from far off, exotic Waseca, Minnesota was, for sportsmen, and for small boy aspiring sportsmen, not just a standard source of fishing tackle, camping, handloading, fly tying, trapping, and taxidermy supplies, the Herter’s catalogue was a long term reading treasure providing fodder for countless hours of theoretical expedition planning and equipment acquisition and maintenance.
Paul Collins, in a recent New York Times Book Review, pays tribute to the long-extinct Herter’s catalogue and its colorful and eccentric author. George Leonard Herter’s infamous “Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices” providing the recipes for the Virgin Mary’s favorite creamed spinach, Joan of Arc’s pate de fois gras, and Stonewall Jackson’s barbecued ribs (among many others) is his personal favorite example of Herteriana.
Starting in 1937 from atop his father’s dry-goods shop in Waseca, Minn., Herter over the next four decades built a mail-order sporting goods juggernaut. The arrival of the Herter’s catalog was like Christmas with bullets. Need a bird’s-eye maple gunstock? Check. How about a Herter’s Famous Raccoon Death Cry Call? Just two dollars. Fiberglass canoes? Got you covered. The catalog, which the former Waseca printer Wayne Brown recalls started as three-ring binder supplements, grew so popular — about 400,000 or 500,000 copies per run, he estimates — that Brown Printing became one of the country’s largest commercial printers.
“Herter wrote all the copy for the catalogs,” Brown said in an e-mail message, and each item was described in loving, haranguing, Barnum-esque detail. No Herter item was merely good: it was World Famous, Patented, Special, “made with infinite care by our most expert old craftsmen,” or — my favorite — “actually made far better than is necessary.” The corollary was that his competitor’s products were worthless — or, as he put it, “like they were made by indifferent schoolgirls.”
But as good as much of his gear was, talk about Herter always comes around to one thing: his books. His enchantingly bombastic catalogs included listings for more than a dozen of his self-published works, bound in metallic silver and gold covers, and bearing titles like “How to Get Out of the Rat Race and Live on $10 a Month.”
My understanding is that Herter was put out of business in the 1970s over Jungle Cock. The eyed neck feathers of the Grey Jungle Fowl, Gallus Sonneratti, have long been an essential ingredient in the construction of artificial flies for fishing. The eyed feathers serve as eyes on streamer fly imitations of minnows, and as crucial decorative elements in the visually elaborate salmon fly attractor patterns originated in the Victorian era.
Federal enforcement of a ban on the trade in feathers of endangered species took no cognizance of material stockpiles dating to periods long before the ban, and George Leonard Herter was a classic American individualist and a hard core sportsman who simply could not bow to irrational regulation. The reports I heard were that federal lawsuits and seizures, based on one small particular type of feather entirely legally owned and acquired in the first place, ruined the famous company and broke its proprietor’s heart. He never even tried to revive his business.
Had it survived, just imagine how enormous a business Herter’s would be today! Herter’s would be today’s Cabela’s and more.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
21 Aug 2008
Paul Collins at Stale tries some recipes from Vincent Price (Y 1933)’s 1956 cookbook.
My wife and I—she being the Mary to my Vincent—began our day of all-Price cooking with one of his great culinary loves: pancakes. They’d already come a long way from the days of a 1935 cookbook like Someone to Dinner, where the recipe for crêpes Savannah reads, in full, “Pancakes, the ordinary size, served with hot maple syrup.” No such fainthearted stuff for Vincent: The name Banana Pancake Flambé Stonehenge alone murders all culinary competitors. You wrap sautéed bananas into crêpes, vigorously stab strips of bacon atop them, and flambé it all in banana liqueur. It’s a dish that rewards sleepy incompetence: If you don’t flambé it properly, the pancakes immediately soak up copious amounts of hooch, leaving you woozily imitating lines from The Abominable Dr. Phibes while you twirl a villainous moustache and choose your victims for lunch.
Amusingly enough, we’ve got a sinister bottle of banana cordial (inherited from Karen’s mother) right here in the house. It is certainly an appropriate elixir for Price-ian crêpe preparation. I often hear it whispering, whispering very softly, to me as I pass the liquor cabinet.
What’s that? What is it saying?
It wants me to show Karen’s new basset hound the special amontillado in the basement?
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers (Y 1975).
28 Jan 2008
Reuters reporting from Helsinki:
A hospital patient in Finland found a mouse head among the steamed vegetables on his plate.
“Understandably, he lost his appetite,” said Sakari Kela, chief administrator at the Northern Karelia Central Hospital.
The health of the patient in Joensuu, eastern Finland, had not been compromised by the dead rodent, Kela said Saturday.
The severed head most likely originated in a bag of Belgian vegetables. The body has not been found and being “a Belgian mouse, the rest of it could be anywhere in Europe,” Kela said.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
17 Jan 2008
“It’s an ill wind that blows no good.”
Democratic control of Congress, at least, has evidently upgraded the cafeteria service California-style, with an emphasis on locally-grown, fresh ingredients, eclectic cuisine, and… fresh sushi!
But at least one Republican is trying to make a little political hay over the change in cuisine.
The presidential race is not the only place where change is an issue.
Members of Congress returning to the Capitol this week are being confronted by transformational happenings that have shaken the building to its foundations: Democrats have hired a new company to run cafeteria services. Naturally, this has caused an outbreak of partisan skirmishing.
“I like real food,” proclaimed Republican leader John Boehner when asked about the new menu by a producer for another cable news outfit. “Food that I can pronounce the name of.”
Boehner is now forced to wrap his lips around such phrases as “broccoli rabe and shaved persimmon,” “balsamic glazed butternut squash,” and “calico pinto beans”...all on this afternoon’s menu, along with the downright patriotic “American Regional Yankee Pot Roast,” which, even Boehner would have to admit, kind of rolls right off the tongue. On Fridays, there is a real sushi bar tended by a bona fide Japanese sushi chef. Gone are such grade-school cafeteria specialties as Salisbury steak and fried chicken, slathered in gravy and served with a side of chips. Debate rages among regulars about the merits of the new offerings. One consensus downside: the prices have gone upscale right along with the fare.
The company that Nancy Pelosi and her people have hired has a mandate to “Go Green,” complete with a mission statement posted outside the cafeteria on an eco-friendly LCD screen and a requirement to buy carbon offsets. Boehner doesn’t think much of that either.
“It reminds me of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, when we had indulgences,” says Boehner of the offsets.