When a price is put on something, it is given a value. It was exciting to see bins of the often discarded broccoli leaves for sale at the farmers market. When a farmer assigns worth to an ingredient, so does the cook.
After 18-ish days of drying, our luchito salumi was ready. It had lost 35% of its weight. The Mexican chile paste provided smoke, heat, and savory undertones to the pork shoulder and belly. The meat had acquired a slice-able firmness and balanced acidity. While we happily consumed several slice straight up, I see a happy home for this on our next pizza.
The appearance of garlic scapes in the market and, subsequently, in our kitchen has triggered a series of ideas. In seasons past we have made garlic scape butter, garlic scape sausages, garlic scape mayonnaise, it's warm cousin: garlic scape hollandaise, garlic scape soup, pork and garlic scape dumplings, and garlic scape pickles.
This year I have noodles at the top of the list. Soon to be followed by infusing soy and fish sauces with ground garlic scapes: raw, charred, and smoked.
We are finally seeing and smelling the heady aroma of fresh strawberries in our local farmer's market. The beauty is the complexity of the fruit. The wonderment is in the amount of work needed to bring the fruit to market. When we look closely not just at the end result, but at the entire process involved, we gain a grander appreciation for the ingredients themselves.
There are few things better than a sun warmed tomato, cut open, dripping juices, and liberally seasoned with salt. There is nothing better than tearing apart a roast chicken after it rested and then dragging the ugly bits through the pan drippings and devouring them in the kitchen.
Today we found stunning tomatoes at the farmer's market. They have been growing in hooped rows since February. Yesterday we pot roasted a chicken on a bed of broccoli rabe with whole cloves of garlic. We had a container of leftover roasted garlic and pan drippings in the refrigerator. We roughly cut the tomatoes and seasoned them with salt. We smashed the garlic cloves into the pan drippings and added them to the tomatoes. We gently warmed the tomatoes in the roasting juices. The floral and fragrant flavor of the barely cooked tomatoes merged with the umami-rich chicken jus and sweet garlic. We gently tossed the sauce with some freshly cooked linguini and served it with a generous spoonful of grated pecorino romano. The combination of fresh tomatoes and caramelized jus is magical. It's a simple idea that we need to look at more closely as we continue to create.
Summer is officially here and that means cooking gets a little bit easier because there is an abundance of great ingredients to work with. Alex found some beautifully marbled pork chops at the local market. Being of a practical mindset, I salted them and put them on a rack in the fridge as soon as he got home with them so they would be perfectly seasoned and ready to go by the time we were ready to cook them.
I'm a fan of chopped salads, they present a wonderful range of textures and flavors, and they are easy to eat. With that in mind, I took the fresh tomatoes, celery, and cucumbers that he also brought home, chopped them up, and combined them in a bowl with some salt. I left them at room temperature to let their flavors mingle while Alex grilled the chops. Just before serving we added a splash of BLiS smoked soy sauce and minus 8 white wine vinegar and then spooned the salad over the pork chops. Finally we spooned the collected meat juices from the platter (a combination of melted butter, smoked soy sauce and the rested pork chop juices) over everything and I ran out to the weed patch for some chives to add to the mix. It was the perfect summer supper: rich, savory and bursting with flavor.
A few years back we learned that freezing egg yolks whole in the shell thickened them. Jesse Mallgren from Madrona Manor was freezing quail eggs for a week, thawing them and then using the solidified yolks as an element in a dish. We messed around with the idea a bit with quail eggs. The result was a beautifully round firm raw egg yolk. Recently we revisited the idea with chicken eggs.
Because of the size difference we opted to freeze the eggs for a month. When we thawed them the white was thin, still somewhat frozen, and pulled cleanly from the yolks.
The yolk was firm with a slight pliability. They are easy to handle and now we need to explore the best ways to use them in dishes. The big question that arises here is why do the yolks thicken and the whites thin when frozen? More research is required to find out.
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