Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dulce de Leche con Leche de Cabra

I bought goat millk from the same guy I bought the goose eggs from. A big 4 litre jug costs me $5. I got home with it, poured it into the biggest pot I have and incorperated 1 and 1/3 cup of organic cane sugar for every 4 cups of milk. Also very important is the 1/3 tsp of baking soda you need to add to make the chemical reaction that turns sweet milk into caramel.

I learnt this the hard way. I didn’t have any baking soda so I figured that I could do without it and started simmering away. Well the thing with cooking milk or cooking something like custard is that you must stir it continually or things will curdle. I stirred for about 2 and a half hours, my arms almost falling off my sides when I finally asked my girlfriend to run to the corner store and get me some baking soda. Pop the backing soda in, the mixture foamed, and within 20 minutes I had caramel. So a recipe that already takes a good hour to make took me three hours because I didn’t follow the recipe. That’s probably the primary reason why I hate backing. Everything is so crucial to the chemical composition of the dish.
Anyways, I finally ended up with a tonne of caramel which I’m slowly distributing. Though the caramel should usually have that aftertaste you get with goat cheese, this one isn’t really strong. I don’t know if it’s because the goat milk I buy is over-pasteurized or what but the caramel is delicious nonetheless. Great on toast or on a crepe with bananas and mango. Or mixed with nuts and granules of raw sugar to make a caramel candy. The possibilities are endless.

Goose Eggs

When I go to the market, I have a hard time resisting unique or odd items. Like today I bought kimchi from these two Korean ladies. I’d made my own once but here it was, authentic and ready made. So when I saw the little sign that said “goose eggs $1.50” I really couldn’t resist.

The egg has a very thick shell. I really had to give it a good whack to be able to crack it. I then discovered that a goose egg equals about 3 or 4 large chicken eggs. Eating it was like eating a steak. The thing was massive. I had a girlfriend in high school who had an emu farm. Those eggs are at least the size of 4 or 5 goose eggs so it would make for a pretty hardy meal. A bit too hearty maybe.

What I really like about the goose egg was the colour of the yoke. It was a nice rich, almost creamy yellow colour. I find that chicken eggs, even supposedly free run eggs are getting to be of a highlighter yellow colour. It’s fishy. Especially when you get this nice goose egg from a local farmer whose yoke is the colour a yoke should be, it’s suspicious when you get a chicken egg that has no richness to it. I’m sure that there’s something going on with storebought eggs, either the hormones or the environment or something. But market bought eggs are definitely better. Market and therefore locally bought anything is better.

Leftover Failure

With the remainder of the failed yellow curry and coconut milk chicken (I’d cooked it in the crock pot and have discovered yet again that such flavourful dishes don’t hold up when overcooked) I made some delicious quesadillas with the fresh handmade tortillas we were sent from Mexico. Unlike the storebought crappy tortillas, these were really thin and delicious. Once grilled with the failed though tender chicken, salsa and cheese inside to make an overstuffed quesadilla to die for, the tortillas were nice and crispy.

With yet more chicken and tortillas to get rid of and considering that I’m on a rampage of making alot of breakfasts lately, I made breakfast burritos. I don’t know how Mexican this actually is but it was delicious regardless. Basically it’s just scrambled eggs wrapped in a tortilla. I made it with the leftover chicken, loads of dried Mexican pork, some tomatoes, cheese and green onions. It was a great hearty meal and very simple to make. Accompanies by a nice cup of fresh organic coffee you have just the right start to your day to endure about half a days work. Then comes lunch...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Portobello Chilli

The recipe I have for portobello chili says that with the presence of this meaty mushroom, you won't even notice that there isn't any meat. Though that is not entirely true, it does make for an interesting take on chilli...anything that's vegetarian and can still be called delicious is a hit by my standards.

Considering the fact that chili is a southern thing - or "thang" - I accompanied the dish with some corn bread. I took a bit of the easy way out here by using Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods gluten free cornbread mix but had I done it from scratch scratch the result would have been the same. A cast iron skillet, some cornbread mixture, pop it in the oven and voilĂ ! Serve with chili, gumbo, jambalaya or other such southern fare and you're in business.

Portobello Chipotle Chili

1 large onion chopped
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. portobello mushroom caps, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)
2 chipotle chilis, chopped
1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 15- to 16-oz. can red kidney beans rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. medium or hot chili powder
Dairy sour cream (optional)
Chopped cilantro (optional)

1. In a large saucepan, cook onion and garlic in hot oil until onion is tender. Stir in mushrooms. Cook and stir 3 minutes more. Stir in undrained tomatoes, kidney beans, cumin, and chili powder.

2. Bring chili to boiling; heat. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. If desired, top individual servings with sour cream.

Busy Times

I've recently chosen to change waitering jobs from Cora's Breakfast to the Barn Yard BBQ. It's a smaller restaurant that's closer to town and because it's not a chain, it's more informal...hell, my uniform consists of a plaid shirt, jeans and a tool belt. Plus the food is really great. Everything is smoked for hours. Whole chickens. Pork ribs and roasts. Beef brisket. It all comes out beautiful. Plus I get to sneak some of my own food in if I catch the guys at the right time.

The unfortunate things about this move is that, being the nice guy that I am, I gave my old boss a 2 week notice and worked at both places for 2 weeks. So 8:30 to 5:00 at the day job, then working nights at the barnyard plus weekends at Cora's. I'm tired and had little to no time to myself which means that the food takes a backseat.

Pretty much the only time I had to make food was in the mornings. So I made loads of egg sandwiches, omellettes and fruit plates but really nothing worth writing about. The only good thing related to these breakfasts is that I've discovered the organic section of my grocery store. I now buy my coffee from the absolute best coffee company Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-op. Their coffee is fair trade, organic, and the company is a co-operative. You can't have any less capitalistic and environmentally friendly than that. Also in this section of the store I've found soy cream cheese, soy milk, Bob's Red Mill products, organic cereals, hand crafted sodas, organic beans and pastas and so on. It's all a bit more expensive but worth it in an overall view.

Anyways, I'm back in the kitchen now. Like tonight I made a whole chicken in the crock pot with yellow cury paste and coconut milk. I've noticed that things cooked in the crock pot tend to loose any oomph they might have unless they're meant to cook for a long time like sauces or stews or soups. I mixed the chicken with some of the juice and couscous but the result was uneventful. Even the rice krispie squares I made were more exciting than this.