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Adam Balic

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  1. Always mash the garlic with salt first in a mortar, though, for sure.


    The mashed garlic reacts with the oil to produce a nice stable emulsion. If you just bung the garlic clove into the blender you run the risk of the garlic not being sufficiently mashed, and then the pesto tends to split.

    I think that chopping v mortar/blender are really talking about two different things. The former is the coarse modern style pesto that is often used as a dip or sandwich filling, the latter is the more traditional smooth emulsion that has creamy consistency that is better used as a pasta dressing.

    I have a lovely marble mortar that I bought in Liguria, in 99% of cases I use a food processor ( I have an old machine that for some reasons produces excellent emulsion type sauces on its lowest setting).

    Here is some images of pesto making and Ligurian cuisine in general.

  2. Love the book and the thread, but I thought that I might try to sort out the identification of Daun Salam.

    There seems to be a lot of confusion about this item on the interweb and elsewhere. "Cradle" shows images of the correct item and gives the scientific name as Syzygium polyantha (it is also known as Eugenia polyantha) and describes it accurately.

    The description then describes it as a member of the cassia family and mentions that it is sometimes known as "Indian Bay Leaves". OK, there is a problem here as Salam leaf is not a member of the cassia family (is actually part of the myrtle family), and while it is often described as "Indian Bay Leaf", this is inaccurate (nothing to do with India as far as I know of) and there is another plant which is often called "Indian Bay Leave" which is actually part of the Cassia family and popular in some forms of Indian cooking.

    This Indian Bay leave is Cinnamomum tamala, (which was popular in Roman cooking where it was known as "Malabathrum").

    The reason I mention this is not to be a pedant, but that in my local SE-Asian grocer, both leaves are sold side by side and both as simply described as "Bay Leaf". They taste quite different as you can imagine and would completely change the nature of the dish if you interchanged them.

    Some more information:

    Daun Salam

    Indian Bay Leave

  3. Quite, the Saveur article's recipe is simple drained curd. I'm pretty sure that the heating step will give a different flavour and texture to the final product.

    So what the Saveur article is saying is "We tried various methods for making whole milk ricotta and found we actually prefer cottage cheese."

  4. One thing that I'm curious about in this recipe is that it isn't ricotta as I thought I new it, basically is cottage cheese or curd cheese. My understanding was that "ricotta" implied a bit more then that.

    Even when I have made it using whole milk, rather then whey, the curds were heated then skimmed out and placed in a mould.

  5. From memory I believe that some of the older recipes use Buckwheat honey. This is a very dark and strongly flavored honey, which one friend of mine described as "pure testosterone". Buckwheat honey is had to get and expensive, so maybe some other strong flavoured, slightly bitter honey (Chestnut?) would be a good substitute?

    It also has an interesting texture, similar to heather honey in that it is almost gel like (fixatropic). Not sure what this would do to the cooking process.

  6. They are pretty common in coastal Italy and Spain. I've just treated them like shrimp, with the caveat that the meat doesn't come out of the tail as cleanly as shrimp.

    The mantis shrimp that break aquarium glass are most likely the species that have bony clubs, rather then mantid type claws.

  7. They were traders so they had access to a wider range of food stuffs then what they could harvest locally. So wine is authentic, yay! No akavit, stills develop later.

    Documented (mostly 14th century, but some earlier) spices are:

    # Hops

    # Caraway

    # Nutmeg

    # Cardamom

    # Grains of Paradise

    # Cloves

    # Cinnamon

    # Saffron

    # Ginger

    # pepper

    Spiced cakes, biscuits breads etc are still popular in Scandinavian so I would include something like this as a all herring, meat and cabbage meal will suck.

  8. Fish sold in Italy should have its origin shown. Cod some many sizes, if you look at the images in this thread you can see the skin is a typical lemon-green leopard spotted appearance. Hake is related to cod, but is silver skinned, not coloured. Hake is quite a soft fleshed fish, cod is firmer in texture. Not really interchangeable in cooking either.

    Hake (Merluccius merluccius) can be caught in the Med., Cod (Gadus morhua) isn't. There are a lot of other related fish that are likely to be sold as fillets with similar names to Hake. I'm not sure that fresh cod like in the images should here is very common at all in Italy, frozen fillets maybe a differnt issue.

    The bream in question are these. They can be quite large but the usual size is about 35 cms.

  9. The fish in the image is Cod, not Hake. Davidson is actually talking about fish endemic to the Med., not fish that you can buy in the region (which includes imported fish). I have seen many, many New Zealand red bream for sale in Italy and Spain, even in quite small an supposedly isolated villages.

    Part of the confusion in Cod V Hake is likely due to the fact that fresh cod in Italy is likely to be a relatively recent phenomena.

  10. Haven't seen the UK adverts, over here SS was pitched as the Italian cooking Bible. Which it is I guess in the respect that it is a great big book that many people own, although few have bothered to to read cover to cover.

  11. Well no cookbook is going to do all that. I love my Lebanese cookbooks, I live in a city with a large Lebanese community, I've gone to the trouble to track down real zaatar plants, I bet I am pretty rare in haing make ghammeh etc etc, yet I doubt I have any real idea what it is like to cook in a real Lebanese manner (which involves some Chinese cooking it seems).

    What I can do is cook a few Lebanese dishes and have learnt to take an interest in Lebanese cuisine. In terms of 1080 & SS, I guess these would help with the former and not so much with the latter (take an interest in the cuisine that is).

    My situation is this. I have about 500 cookbooks, almost all either regional, historical or both. I likely have 10-15 books on "Spanish" cookery. For me 1080 is useful simply as it has a huge list of recipes to use as a reference. I wouldn't advise it as a first book on Spanish cookery though.

  12. Surely the British when not eating fish and chips or curry, are cooking hot-pot, pudding, haggis, pasties or Welsh cakes?

    Actually, a few years ago I looked at the (UK) national statistics site, specifically at food eaten. One of the most popular Sunday dinners in the country was Spag. Bol., not that you are likely to see a recipe for Spag. Bol in a book on "British Cooking", which is I guess the point of a lot of the comments on this thread.

  13. I take you point, but what is more authentic then a book of representing what Spanish/Italian are likely to cook at home? Also the book isn't all mac & cheese.

    Also where do you draw the line? Should all books on authentic Tuscan cooking take out Bistecca alla Florentina as it is "English"? Even Artusi has a "Californian" recipe.

    On the other hand as modern cookbooks they are quite boring, basically a culinary dictionary. Where are the authentic regional recipes? Where is the background to each carefully selected recipe? Where are the emotive photographs of peasants selling wild artichokes from beaten up three wheelers?

    For the price they are a useful reference to have, simply based on the sheer number of recipes, but they don't really fit into the mould of a modern cook book.

  14. I'm one of, seemingly, the minority to look at both Silver Spoon and 1080 and replace them rapidly on the shelf.

    These are not 'books about Italian and Spanish cooking', these are 'basic general recipe collections intended for home cooks, in Italy (SS) and Spain (1080)'.

    I'm not sure that the books are intending to be anything other then a reflection on home cooking in these countries, rather then "traditional" recipes? It would be sort of odd to assume that people only cook recipes from their own cutural backgrounds?

    And for that matter that this is a new phenomenon?

  15. I now have obtained a few plants of Syrian Marjoram (Majorana syriaca, Origanum Maru etc.) which most people agree is the real zaatar (and possibly the biblical hyssop, hence the confusion with Hyssopus officinalis). From the flavour profile I would say it is the real deal, and is similar thyme leaved savory, which is also sometimes given as zaatar (not commonly though).

    When the plants are mature I will post some images of them all.

  16. You have two types here, the rumen (1st stomach) and reticulum (2nd stomach). The rumen gives the blanket tripe and the honeycomb tripe is the reticulum. There is some texture variation in the reticulum tripe, but essentially it looks like a towel.

    The two tripe that are missing are the omasum (3rd stomach, book tripe) and abomasum (4th stomach, brown tripe).

  17. When you think about it, it's sort of surprising that crossing plums and apricots is a relatively new thing. After all. nectarines have been around for a long time.

    Nectarines aren't hybrids or interspecifics they are the same species as regular peaches with a mutation that prevents the formation of surface fuzz.

    I'm sure that various crosses are developed all the time, but the majority most likely don't taste as good as the parents. There us a fruit called the "Black/Purple Apricot" (Prunus dasycarpa) which seems to be a natural plum apricot hybrid.

    The plants discussed on this thread seem to have been created by Zaiger's Genetics, as you can see from their site they have 10s of thousands of rejects.

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