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Traveling in Georgia 2018
I'm just back from an 8 days long trip in Georgia. A beautiful land with kind people and a wonderful cuisine.
I want to share with you what I've seen and ate.
So until I get my photos sorted, this is a tizzer:
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Post in 'Tis Hunting Time--A smallish blog
Happy Friday!
The guys brought home a mess of doves yesterday which we will eat tomorrow.  My goal for that is to have all of the side dishes done early so I can sit outside while we grill.  Probably won't happen, but it's a nice thought. 
Anyway, along with hunting, they went down to the river behind the house and set lines to catch a turtle.  Ronnie wants me to make something awesome to eat out of it.   I'm thinking of turtle curry to go along with our new Curry Cookoff .  I don't even know if turtle curry is a thing, but it will be if they catch one 😎
Turtle bait

Bank lines made from branches


The pizza dough got away from me a bit

I was going to make a big salad, but decided on cut up cucumbers and tomatoes and Ranch.

Venison burger and pepperoni

Venison cheeseburger

I was not sure if our hunter would like the cheeseburger one.  I woke up craving a piece for breakfast, but they guys took it with them.  I am happy he liked it, but I should have hidden it better.
Chum at sunrise, looking for doves

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Costco (Kirkland) Vanilla Beans
I purchased these a few months ago and am just now posting a review.  I was impressed with the packaging - beans in a sealed glass tube promised something fresh and flavorful.  However, when used in a flan and in a pudding, there was more disappointment than flavor.  While the price was good (not great), the value was lacking. These were the weakest beans I've ever used.  Not recommended at all.
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Post in eG Cook-Off #80: The Aromatic, Exotic Flavors of Curry
Dinner tonight featured a favourite chicken curry, served with a twice cooked eggplant dish, tarka dal, a blob of Ashoka brand mixed vegetable pickle, basmati rice, paratha and in the centre a dollop of.black cabbage mallum.

The curry is Murgh methi / chicken with fenugreek.
The recipe is from Meena Pathak Flavours of India. Fenugreek (methi in Hindu) is a complex slightly bitter herbaceous plant. Its very small leaves can be used fresh as you would baby spinach, or dried like in this recipe and the seeds also impart flavour, whether fried off whole, or ground to varying degrees. The fresh leaves are not common here, I’ve bought it once from my Indian grocer friend, and we grew a large pot full...once. The harvest made maybe two meals. The dried stuff and seeds are readily available. 
The mise. Chopped red onion, chopped tomatoes, turmeric & chilli powder, in the dish below is roughly ground fenugreek seeds & crushed black pepper, then cumin seeds, chopped garlic, grated ginger, chopped green chillies and a pile of dried fenugreek leaves. There’s a separate plate of chicken thigh diced into one inch bits.

I have a favourite karhai like pan, it’s deep with a rounded bottom. Medium heat, a splash of vegetable oil then cumin seeds til they splutter, onions for a few minutes, garlic and green chilli til the onions take on brown edges. Add tomatoes, turmeric and chilli powder, salt to taste then sauté til the tomatoes are really mushy. Add ginger, the fenugreek and pepper, plus chicken. Simmer for 20 minutes or so until the chicken is cooked. Here the recipe adds butter and cream, I don’t, and prefer it without.

It’s finished with a good handful of fresh coriander, chopped.
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Post in eG Cook-Off #80: The Aromatic, Exotic Flavors of Curry
The  Japanese took the guesswork out of curry and made it into a simple, fast and economical dish. But if you are accustomed to curries from other cuisines such as Indian, Thai or Burmese you might find the taste and even the consistency challenging. But it does grow on you and millions of Japanese consider it the perfect comfort food. 

My mise.  I decided to go vegetarian with the butter nut squash that I was given yesterday, onions and carrots. At the last minute I decided to add some green beans because they were there staring at me from my crisper drawer.

The curry roux. I used three cubes to about 250 ml water on this occasion. 

Vegetables were briefly sautéed (in batches).

Water, sake and curry roux added.

Simmered for about 10 minutes. 

Served over white rice (Kare Raisu). There are lots of recipes on the web and I’m pretty sure you can buy the roux from Amazon. 
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Post in Baking with Myhrvold's "Modernist Bread: The Art and Science"
OK, the last loaf just came out of the oven... four of them today, starting with:
Modernist Sourdough
Of course. I usually make at least one loaf of this when I'm making sourdoughs. I tried a different proofing strategy this weekend. I started making the loaves at about noon on Saturday. I machine-mixed, so they were ready for proofing at about 4:00pm. I proofed them at 13°C until midnight or so (so eight hours), then moved them to my normal refrigerator overnight. I started baking at about 11am so the loaves got something on the order of 12 more hours of colder proofing. I prefer handling the dough at the colder temps, it scores more cleanly and seems to retain its shape better. Last weekend my loaves were overproofed, having been left at 13°C overnight. This weekend they were spot on.

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Post in eG Cook-Off #80: The Aromatic, Exotic Flavors of Curry
Ooh, I’m in, thanks @Okanagancook !  This topic is so close to my heart (well perhaps a little lower anatomically).
Curry - a word invented by the British and adopted by the Indians. The cuisine is hugely popular in Australia, it’s not unusual to find an Indian restaurant in even a small country town.
Tonight I made fish in mustard gravy with fresh mangrove jack, a firm white fleshed fish. The recipe is from a book by Meena Pathak (of the Patak curry paste fame), this soft cover book was found in an op shop, best 50 cents I ever spent. 
The gravy is made with toasted white poppy seeds crushed in a mortar, then blended to a paste with onion, garlic, ginger, green chilli, cumin, coriander, turmeric powders and mustard seeds. The paste was fried in a little mustard oil, then puréed tomatoes and water added, simmered for 5 minutes then fish chunks added. I finished it with some lime juice and chopped fresh coriander. 
Seen below and served with lemon ginger rice, dill potatoes, my (well Madhur Jafferys) everyday okra, tarka dal, a blob of cucumber & mint raita and half a paratha. 

I think there’s about 20 Indian cookbooks on my shelf, plus at least half a dozen books encompassing curries of the world. Charmaine Solomon is a favourite, as is Madhur Jaffery and Christine Manfield. 
It’s probably not wrong to say we’re obsessed with Indian food, (actually, all things Indian). In exactly six weeks time we should be on final approach into Indira Ghandi Airport New Delhi and ready to eat our way through Rajasthan and the Punjab. 
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Post in Dining in Las Vegas: Part 2
My on-the-cheap trip is over. 
First night was Chengdu Taste - absolutely fantastic. I met a Chinese friend the next night and he was impressed that I ate there, said, very authentic and mostly Chinese people eat there. I saw so many things on the menu that I haven't seen before. I ordered the Beef with Crispy Rice:

The next morning I was craving a burrito so bad and ended up at Tacos el Compita:

Dinner that night was Puerto Rico Express:

and my last night was Dakao for Bahn mi:

Capped off with a cucumber mango drink from Zero Degrees:

Dakao certainly was the cheapest meal at $3.75 ($5 with drink and tax). Chengdu was the best thing I ate and the most expensive at $20 including a pot of tea.
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Post in Breakfast! 2018
Boiled egg baguette.
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Post in Dinner 2018
Sunday family dinner
Fried chicken

Mac and cheese from Cook's Country magazine--very creamy

Cornbread made with masa marina and maple syrup

Garden tomatoes
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Epicure at Le Bristol - often perceived as the best hotel-restaurant around the globe
Epicure (formerly known as Restaurant Le Bristol) was one “special” place towards my gastronomy adventure history since it was my first meal at multi-star Michelin restaurant in Europe (the lunch took place during the Easter Monday of 2006 when most places were closed).
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Post in Dinner 2018
Wednesday night, stir fried cod with mushrooms and peas over rice

Last night, bucatini with eggplant and tomatoes
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Post in Moon Cakes
Contrary to my post from last year...those sucked. I found a new recipe this year and made some trial runs and it worked great (posted below). I have two questions for experienced makers. First what is the trick to making the bottom uniformly thin (the end that you close up when its pressed in the mold)? And second, this seems so simple, but the egg wash also seems too viscous and ruins the detail of the mold. I'm going to thin out my wash with water to see if that helps, but wondering if there's a trick with that.
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Difference between paella and arroz
I'm going to Valencia next month and was reading some menus. 
I came across a restaurant that has 'Paella de Carabineros' and something else called 'Arroz de Carabineros'. They're exactly the same price. What exactly is the difference?
Am I right in thinking that the arroz is a soupy risotto style? 
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Post in Salad 2016 –
Beets mixed with parsley, cilantro, dill, scallions, lime juice, olive oil served on the bed of arugula.  Topped with feta and pine nuts.
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Post in eG Cook-Off #67: Apples
There are some early apples available here now - Sunrise variety at one of the local farms was a starting point for me for a summer salad.
It's based on an older recipe at Food52 (from 2009). It has a touch of Waldorf salad, but it moves beyond it.  
The salad is a base of mixed baby greens, with fennel, celeriac, sliced apple, toasted pecans and lardons. The vinaigrette is based on caramelized apple + apple cider. 
I appreciate that it uses fresh apple slices in the salad and also uses apple in the dressing. It was very good, but if I was going to make it again I would juice/strain a cooked apple or two and use that in the vinaigrette with maybe just a bit of apple pulp. The recipe, as it is, makes a dressing that is too thick for my taste. 
But it was fun and tasty. The celeriac I bought was awful, so I ended up subbing regular celery. 
The original recipe is here. 
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Post in Arby's - The Topic
Well, I answered my own question. I went to a local Arby's with a co-worker and we agreed to order the two new sandwiches and switch half of each sandwich with each other. That way we'd get to try both in one sitting.
The short rib sandwich (a special offer...not a regular item on their menu) was quite tender but it was served on what they called "Texas Toast" which was completely lacking in any sort of buttery or garlic goodness. WTF? So it was just this thick dry bread which wasn't very appetizing at all.  The crispy onions were good, the BBQ sauce was good but overall it was just "meh". It has been touted to have been smoked for 6 hours but there was no nice smokey flavor.
The other sandwich we tried was the Smokehouse Brisket. According to Arby's the brisket has been cooked in a smoker for 13 hours. But you could have fooled us. There was absolutely no smoke flavor in the sandwich. I mean you should at least be able to smell the smokiness of smoked meat, right? Another "meh" sandwich. 
The two things I learned from my visit?
1) They still have potato wedges! I thought the triangular shaped potato patties were history but they had them. They sell them as a two-patty, three-patty, or 4-patty combo. 
2) Never order a large Jamocha Shake unless you have 4 other people to help you drink it. It was mammoth and could compete with 7-Eleven's Big Gulps. 
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Post in Making Bacon
I am starting to nail this bacon thing now; and I have found the key to be practice. Go wonder. For me, the results have become far better after I realized that curing time depends on thickness of the belly. A lot of recipes do not mention this and recommend a given number of days. That does not work! Skinny pigs; less curing time. I have also worked in hanging/drying into my process. I hang my bacon after curing, before smoking for at least 24 hours to develop a surface that the smoke will stick to. This is usually recommended in recipes. I also hang the bacon after smoking for at 24-48 hours before consumption or packaging. I feel that this firms up the belly a bit.
Here is my process;
- Dredge salting; rub dry cure into the meat, shake of excess
- Mild vacum packaging ( I stop the vacum sealer mid-process) - I have found this to work very vell, And I feel that it is very hygienic and clean.  
- I keep the bellies in the fridge and try to weight them down a bit. I rotate and flip the bags every day. 
- After I am happy with firmness - I use meat hooks to hang the bellies for at least 24 hours
- I hot smoke to 60 degrees C in my Weber BBQ. 
- I hang the bacon for another 24-48 hours. 
Right now I have perfect conditions for curing and salting. Outside temperatures between 4-12 degrees C. So, more projects coming up
Here is from my last batch after smoking, and hanging for 48 hours - my best bacon so far!
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Post in German Cookbooks
I picked this one up on sale on Kindle a few weeks back, and note it's stll 2.99. Das German Cookbook: Schnitzel, Bratwurst, Strudel and other German Classics. Looks pretty good, certainly worth $2.99.

Post in Shoot it, catch it, harvest it ...
Low tide was at 8 am today so I was out the door by 6:30 am. The competition was there ahead of me, but I managed to "rake in" a little over 8 dozen in 2 hours.
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Post in Favorite Food Quotes
Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods' roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.
James Joyce, Ulysses
    • Confused
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Post in Chocdoc Does Dallas
Lunch meat in all its glory!
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Post in How do they make tart shells so perfect?
Perforated tart frames.
Some people freeze their dough and make perfect strips etc with a ruler. You should also have a perforated silpat and a baking tray to let air go through. Some have pro equipment to make the dough perfect when rolled out.
That's the short story I guess, and technique. Years of practice I guess? And maybe some Photoshop?
You can do pretty good with the right tools, this is my first ever attempt on a tart shell;
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Post in Paella
Inspired by my new side firebox cooker and a dinner visit from Chefpeon, I decided that we would make paella over an open fire. It was the first time for either of us, and it really turned out beautifully (photos mostly courtesy of Mr. Chefpeon).
I decided that we would make two paellas, one with seafood and pork, and one with rabbit and chicken. I don't have a proper paella pan, so we used two cast iron skillets. There's sure a lot of mise en place with paella!
Here's Chefpeon browning the rabbit while I work on the sofrito
Our work in close-up
The seafood paella was made with a halibut and shrimp broth that I made, with a little added pimenton. The land paella was done with a homemade chicken broth with saffron. Here it is, going into the rice. By the way, I did find Bomba, which is, as advertised, an awesome rice. Hideously expensive here, but still awesome.
Here we've added the seafood, now that the rice is nearly done, and the fava beans and piquillo peppers, which are too delicate to get a lot of cooking.
The seafood paella is just about done, but the rabbit and chicken one is still soupy. We tried to wait for them both to be done, but ended up having a seafood course, then a meat course.
We decided to really go for it on getting a crunchy crust. Unfortunately, although delicious, it was mostly inseparable from the bottom of the pan. In fact, I can hear my husband in the kitchen right now, scraping away at it with vigor.
The seafood paella, however, was the essence of delicacy. Real food porn alert here!
We finished off with this cake
which is the Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake from the Babbo cookbook, and a real treat. We had some homemade blueberry ice cream with blueberries from my garden with it, but by then we were eating under the stars, and no flash disturbed our bliss.

Post in Drinks Using Cucumber
In a Pickle
by Ted Kilgore
1 1/2 oz Hendrick's (Plymouth navy strength) 1/2 oz St. Germain 1/2 oz Velvet Falernum 3/4 oz lime juice 1 slice cucumber 1 sprig dill Mix all, including cucumber and dill in shaker and shake. Fine strain over fresh ice into highball glass. Garnish with fresh cucumber and dill sprig.
My garden dill isn't that green these days, but still wonderfully aromatic. Thought the high-proof gin sub might throw off the balance of this but I quite liked it. 
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