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    Boston, MA

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  1. LindaK

    Salt Cod Diary

    I’m glad someone is cooking salt cod. My supply is gone for now. There is one salt cod recipe I know about that requires that you use fish with the skin: bacalao al pil pil. Saute pieces of the salt cod in garlicy olive oil until the cod is cooked through and the natural gelatins have been released. You then whisk the oil/gelatins together to create a creamy sauce. Top with some red chili. It sounds simple but everything I read says it’s tricky. I’ve found that the gelatins from the skin help keep the fish moist when poaching it for use in other recipes. I especially like it when making brandade. Maybe it’s my imagination but I think you get a creamier brandade. If you make pil pil I hope you’ll show your results. It’s one of the classic recipes I have yet to make.
  2. LindaK

    Salt Cod Diary

    @kbjesq those cod cakes look delicious. I love the leftovers for breakfast. For anyone who didn't follow the fabulous food blog by @Panaderia Canadiense you should treat yourself and read it through. The "soup" she and kbjesq mention is Fansesca, a soup featuring salt cod that's an Easter tradition in Equador. PanCan gave us a lovely history and tutorial of Fanesca in her blog: eG Foodblog: Panaderia Canadiense - Salt Cod, Squash, and Sweets: Semana Santa in the Sierra PanCan, I have every intention of giving it a try when I have a free weekend. I hope your friend Fidelina won't mind that it's not during Easter.
  3. The small dinners sound like a great idea. Not only because they’ll keep you from drifting back into isolation, but because they’ll be good training, too. Part of the learning curve in cooking is good time management—anticipating the sequence of steps involved when executing multiple courses, and factoring that in to menu planning—deciding what can be done in advance, executing other things a la minute. Cooking a couple of courses for friends and family is a low-stress way to practice this. They won’t care if you sit down to dinner a little late! Besides, one of the things that I’ve found to be true of most good chefs is that they’re driven not only by talent and hard work but also a genuine love of making other people happy with their food. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but if food is served with generosity of spirit, it will most definitely come right back at you. It’s probably one of the things that you enjoyed from your restaurant days, yes? Experiencing that with your guests will lift your spirits and remind you of why all this hard work will be worth it.
  4. PanCan, looking carefully at the long list of ingredients in fanesca, I see that the legumes include lupini beans. The directions simply say "peeled." The lupini beans I know are popular in Italian cuisine, but they require some pretty careful preparation to rid them of toxins and bitterness--up to a week of post-cooking soaking! I did a quick search here and found this from @andiesenji. Worth clicking and reading the whole thing. Your recipe doesn;t mention anything about this--I wonder if this explains the long cooking of fanesca and the gunk that builds up on the sides of the pot. Any advice? I know I can find lupini beans, but don't want to ruin the dish or poison myself.
  5. Thanks for all the great photos. I've been looking forward to a sighting of the legendary fanesca--it did not disappoint (but your mom's seafood rice looked fabulous too). It seems such a curious mix of ingredients, same with the plantain, egg, and cheese topping too--is there a traditional of bringing these ingredients together in other Ecuadorian dishes? Like Deryn, I'm interested in the instructions, especially re: the point you make in the recipe about not scraping down the sides and bottom of the pot during the long cooking. If that's the case, I wonder whether that means fanesca can't be made in a pressure cooker or Thermomix. Do you have any experience/knowledge of using either to make fanesca?
  6. Welcome back, Paul. I admire that you're finding a way to move forward under the weight of so much adversity. I can't offer professional advice, but as a committed amateur in the French tradition, I don't think it's a mistake at all to regain your comfort and proficiency with the fundamentals. Not only for the knowledge but for the confidence each success will give you. Fundamentals aren't just roux, but techniques that will serve you well no matter your eventual goals. Look for some new pathways so you don't feel like you're "just re-learning" such as Lisa's pastry suggestion,or sous vide, charcouterie, or confections, whatever interests you, If you're up to it, make it social occasionally. Invite someone to dinner to sample the latest experiement. No pressure to impress, just to share. And by all means, post your efforts here--topics like Dinner, Daily Sweet, Soup, Terrines, etc give you a no-pressure place to share your creations and get some positive reinforcement.
  7. LindaK


    Rotuts, there's a relatively new local (for us in MA) cider producer in Salem, MA that is making British-style dry hard ciders. Far From the Tree Salem Brewers Take a Hard Look at Cider-Boston Globe I haven't tried them yet but I hear/read good things and hope to get to their tasting room in the near future. btw, I also prefer the Stella among the off-the-shelf cider I can usually find.
  8. What an amazing market. I'm really curious about your learning curve with all the new fruits, vegetables, and grains when you first moved to Ecuador. Did you just start buying and tasting? Did you buy local cookbooks? Have the farmers/vendors been helpful? I love the World of Bacalao!! Those displays are beautiful. I'm salivating at the smoked and salted grouper--omg, I've never seen it before, it seems like such a luxury. How is it used, esp. the smoked? I'm imagining chowder, salads... I want grilled quail and fresh orange-coconut juice at my farmers' market!
  9. If I end up baking for Easter, I usually go for something light and that is vaguely spring-like. My favorite is a sponge or chiffon cake, split, filled with some whipped cream and berries (if good ones are available) or lemon curd. Top with more whipped cream or sifted confectionary sugar/whipped cream on the side. Often seen around these parts at Easter: Boston cream pie, which isn't a pie at all. It's a yellow cake, split and filled with pastry creme, covered with a dark chocolate glaze. Rum cake. Good white/yellow cake. sometimes made with ground nuts, liberally doused with lots of dark rum. Can be a simple bundt style or frosted with a rum-flavored frosting.
  10. This will be fun! Thanks for taking it on. Since you teased us with a photo of salted fish, maybe I can make a request? Over in the salt cod topic, you mentioned an Easter soup/stew called fanesca. It sounded complicated and intriguing. Any chance we'll see some fanesca in this blog? (fingers crossed)
  11. It's not me! But of course I was very excited when I saw that photo. Looking forward to it, whomever it is.
  12. Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table has a good recipe for Bstilla. I've brought it to potlucks and it's always well received. I found the recipe on Google Books here. I posted some photos and comments about the recipe in our "Cooking with..." topic here. Another thing I've learned is that if you make the filling a day in advance, you can skip marinating the chicken before cooking it--you can't taste the difference. Since this recipe makes only enough filling for a 10" cake pan, I'd double it if you decide to use a large casserole or baking dish.
  13. Deryn, I took a look at Canso on google maps. At first it was a puzzle that much of the area didn’t appear to have any roads. Then I realized that probably half of the land is a designated wilderness area. Clearly there will never be a big population cluster there, not enough to sustain any kind of business. I like the ideas of a popup or meetup, though, which don’t require a risky financial investment on your part, as a food truck or B&B would. I noticed on the map that there is a hospital. Perhaps they’d be interested in partnering with you on some informal community events that promote healthy food and nutrition. Maybe with you doing some cooking demos at the co-op with local ingredients and items that the co-op could try selling. I see on the LearningCenter’s website that they have a youth health program--maybe you could offer an after-school cooking class for the kids. Keep it simple. Help build demand for the kinds of food you’d like to be available, hopefully find a few kindred spirits along the way. As far as a pop-up or meetup, I’d reach out the businesses in town like the hospital and the bank, who might have an interest in letting their employees know about an event like that. I also see a seasonal campground and cottage rental site nearly. Visitors might be interested if you do it during the summer.
  14. A very kind thing to organize, I'm sure it will go well. Since it looks like you're going to have a generous amount of food, come prepared with some containers and/or ziplock bags so you can send your new neighbors home with leftovers.
  15. I lived in St. Louis for 8 years, though it was more than a decade ago, and I still visit occasionally. I loved my time there and would have happily stayed had circumstances allowed. It was very different from any place I’d lived before and since, but there were many things about the city, its culture, and quality of life that I enjoyed and still miss. I lived in the city proper, and my two neighborhoods there are still among my favorite places. As a city and region it certainly has its problems, but for purposes of this discussion I think the key thing to know is that the aggregate economic and demographic data masks the fact that the city’s neighborhoods and nearby ‘burbs differ greatly. There are many strong, lively, thriving areas with good restaurants, some high-end, others more eclectic/ethnic/casual. There are neighborhoods and ‘burbs which, economically, are obvious homes for more expensive restaurants, but some of the best/most popular are in quirky, unexpected spots. People will find their way if it’s good. That said, in my experience there, I think your proposed system could work if it’s straightforward, unpretentious, and priced fairly. It might be easier for potential customers to understand if it’s presented simply as a prix fixe menu, deposit required, refundable with >48 hr cancellation. Do you expect that you’ll be able to provide some information about the meal before the 48 hr cancellation time--theme, featured ingredients, something so it isn’t a complete mystery? That could be both reassuring to first-time customers as well as a selling point. I’ll be very interested to see how your local/foraging approach translates to St. Louis. One of the things I miss about the area is the long, warm growing season. I haven’t had a truly great peach since I moved back to the northeast, and it was always exciting when local farmers offered morels and black walnuts.
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