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Jim Dixon

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Everything posted by Jim Dixon

  1. This medium grain heirloom variety brown rice tastes great and has the texture of white rice. I cook it using the Italian 'cook like pasta' approach. Bring lots of salted water to a boil, add rice, boil for 35 minutes, drain, cover, and rest for a few minutes. Kokuho Rose Organic Brown Rice, available online here. Bittman mentioned this rice a few weeks ago. JIm
  2. Jim Dixon

    Sodium quackery

    Full disclosure: I sell Necton sea salt from Portugal. There are a couple of reasons to use good sea salt instead of refined salts such as kosher salt. One is flavor. Nearly all of the salt produced world-wide, no matter the process, is destined for industrial use (paint, PVC, etc). Industrial users want it to be as close to 100% sodium chloride as possible. Larger salt producers, including industrial sea salt producers, try to meet this goal. Small producers of culinary salts don’t mind less than pure sodium chloride, and in fact embrace the trace elements in their salts. The salt I sell and use at home is 96-97% sodium chloride; that 3-4% consists of the other micronutrients in seawater, including magnesium and potassium. These trace elements buffer the bitter flavor of sodium chloride. While it is subtle, you can taste the difference. I tell my customers to poach or fry a couple of eggs, then eat one with ordinary table or kosher salt, the other with Necton or a comparable sea salt. One of my restaurant customers uses Necton salt in the kitchen because, as the chef/owner told me, “When we ran out once and switched back to kosher, the cooks complained that the food tasted like crap.” Flor de sal (flower of salt, fleur de sel in French) also has a textural advantage. The small, delicate crystals are the first to precipitate out of solution in the solar salt ponds, and no other salt has the same light crunch. The other reason is political. Diamond Crystal is part of Cargill, one of the bigger cogs in the industrial food system. Jim
  3. Jim Dixon

    Ribs in the oven

    It ain't barbecue, but it's good... Liberally salt and pepper a rack of spareribs, cook at 200-250F for a few hours. Jim
  4. I agree, this is where you can taste the difference. Jim
  5. Most of the sodium chloride produced around the world os use for industrial purposes; culinary salt is a small fraction. Industrial users want more pure salt, and so the culinary salt also ends up about 99% sodium chloride. As slkinsey points out, even sea salt harvested using evaporation can be very pure since the producers remove the crystals when the sodium chloride fraction is at its peak, dumping any remaining brine. But small producers of culinary salt can let the evaporative process continue until the salt crystal begin to precipitate out of solution, and the resulting salt is usually only about 96% sodium chloride, the rest a mix of the trace elements found in sea water. While the difference in sodium chloride content is very small, it is perceptible. Disclosure: I import and sell flor de sal from Necton. Jim
  6. Koda's Kokuho Rose, cooked using their recommended soak, cook, rest, fluff, and rest again method, is the best I've had. The texture is like white rice, but with better flavor and the benefits of a whole grain. Certified Organic, limited production Kokuho Rose® Brand Rice is an Heirloom, Japanese style medium grain, grown by the Koda family since the 1950s in the San Joaquin Valley in California. Jim
  7. Jim Dixon

    Salt Cod Diary

    Make your own salt cod: Homemade Salt Cod with Root Vegetables
  8. from my site.... Cibreo Supposedly a favorite of Caterina de’ Medici, although hers was made with cockscombs, hearts, and assorted other gizzards. Even people who claim they don’t like liver eat this up. Finely chop an onion or a couple of shallots, and start cooking them in butter, extra virgin olive oil, or a little of both. After a few minutes, add about a half pound of the best chicken livers you can find. You could chop these up first, but raw liver is messy, so I chop them in the pan with a spatula and paring knife while they cook. When the livers are about half cooked, sprinkle a couple spoonfuls of flour over them. Stir well, and let the flour cook for a couple of minutes. Add more fat if it’s too thick. Pour in about a cup of water, and, if you feel like it, a splash of white wine. Stir and continue cooking, adding more water if the mixture gets too thick. You want a consistency thick enough to spread, but not pasty. After a few more minutes, remove from the heat and while the liver cools, separate 2 eggs (save the whites for a frittata) and mix the yolks with about a tablespoon of good wine vinegar (like Katz Orleans method Sparkling Wine). Stir the yolks into the liver, sprinkle in flor de sal to taste, and eat on cook crackers or bread.
  9. Spanish style migas Cajun Migas Migas with Ham
  10. Jim Dixon

    Savoy Cabbage

    Any of the things I mention in this article would be fine with Savoy as well as plain green cabbage. This bean, cabbage, and polenta combo is pretty good, too.
  11. Jim Dixon


    I've come to the conclusion that what I call fritters are the highest use of any winter squash. One recipe here on my site, but the basic approach (egg and breadcrumbs) can be varied endlessly. I recently tweaked the mix and made winter squash pancakes that were pretty good. Jim
  12. Home grown piment d'espelette: http://www.viridianfarms.com/ Jim
  13. Jim Dixon

    Making Breadcrumbs

    When whatever loaf we’ve been eating gets down to its last few slices, I lay them out on a sheet pan or cutting board and let them dry out on the counter for a few days. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll put the slices in my old Wedgewood’s oven, where the pilot light keeps the temperature at about 100F. When the slices are really dry, I toss them in a bag, and when the bag starts taking up too much room in the bread drawer, I make crumbs. I’ll break up the dry slices a bit, then put them in the Cuisinart and process. The results are uneven, a mix of fine powdery crumbs, granular little nuggets, and chunks that look like rejects from the crouton factory. But they work perfectly for my ongoing fritter habit. And they last pretty much forever. Jim
  14. Darlene, I import extra virgin olive oil from small producers in Italy, and I also sell oil from a couple of California producers. Since I started the business to have plenty of good olive oil in my own kitchen, I don't need to use any of the brands available nationally. There are scale problems in making enough oil for a big market. It is difficult to produce well-made extra virgin olive oil, and only a few firms are able to do it in volume. National brands blend oil from many sources to get a consistent flavor, and it's very likely that the blend includes some refined oil. To ensure you're getting true extra virgin, you can buy from a trusted source (self promotion warning: like me) or look for the California Olive Oil Council seal that certifies the oil is truly extra virgin. The California oils I sell (Katz, the oil used at Chez Panisse, and COR, one of the successful high volume producers) carry this certification. Jim
  15. True extra virgin olive oil is fine for frying. The biggest problem is finding true extra virgin olive oil since the term isn't regulated here, so the majority of the oils sold as "extra virgin" are really refined-virgin blends. For a better understanding of "extra virgin" please take a look at my articles on Culinate: Extra virgin, extra confusing. Do you trust your olive oil? How to speak olive oil. What the labels really mean You might also want to look at the International Olive Oil Council's info. True, they're an industry group, but they also have some of the best current research about olive oil. And what it shows is that oils with higher levels of polyphenols are more stable for frying. Only well-made extra virgin olive oils have such levels. The whole "low smoke point" issue is bogus, too. Extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point well below the best temperature for frying. People in the olive belt around the Mediterranean have been frying in olive oil for centuries. Jim
  16. I'd always wondered where the name "lacinato" came from, and with a little digging on the internets discovered it's a mispelling of lacianato (lacy or frilled in Italian). I like it braised with onion and olive oil, natch. It's also good in inzimino, typically made with chard or spinach.... Calamari all’inzimino For one bunch of cavalo nero, use about a pound of cleaned squid, an even mix of tubes and tentacles. Leave the tentacles intact, but slice the tubes into rings about a half inch wide. Coarsely chop half an onion, a few garlic cloves, and a couple of celery stalks. Cook for a few minutes with a pinch of sea salt in olive oil, then add a bunch of cavalo nero that you cut in a chiffonade (trim the bottom inch off the bundle of leaves, then roll about half into a tight cylinder, top to bottom, and slice thinly, about a quarter inch). Add a healthy glug of red wine (roughly a cup), the squid, and about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste thinned with a half cup or so of water. A nice pinch of red pepper flakes is optional, but really good. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 40 minutes. Serve over toasted bread with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Jim
  17. Grind it and make burgers. Jim
  18. Viridian Farms here in Oregon grows the peppers and dries piment d'espelette. You can contact them here: http://www.viridianfarms.com/ They also grow padron peppers, toloso beans, and other amazing stuff, but you may need to wait for the next harvest. Warning...shameless self-promotion ahead! Over the past couple of years I've expanded my own olive oil and salt business to include a few beans and grains, mostly things I want to have in my own kitchen. They're not listed on my web site (woefully outdated anyway; upgrading to blogging software is a 2010 goal), so email me if you're interested. Here's what I've got: small red beans, a variety called chiquito rojo developed at the U of Washington for the state's dry east side and based on an heirloom variety from Mexico, grown by Haricot Farms near Yakima garbanzos, also from Haricot, incredibly flavorful on their own emmer farro (Triticum diconum), unpearled so it doesn't get mushy like a lot of perlato and semiperlato imported stuff, certified organic from Bluebird Grain Farms near Winthrop, Washington Kokuho Rose brown rice, an heirloom medium grain rice from California's San Joaquin Valley that requires a complex cooking regime (rinse, soak, cook, rest, fluff, and rest again) but is amazingly good Please email rather than PM: jdixon@realgoodfood.com thanks Jim
  19. My go-to green (I rarely cook anything else these days) is cavolo nero, aka "lacinato" kale (it should be lacianato, Italian for frilly edged). I think it has a nice, umami quality, and it doesn't shrink as much as other greens. I've got a photo and "recipe" on my site (here), but here it is: Chop an onion, cook in good extra virgin for a few minutes, then add a bunch of cavolo nero cut in chiffonade. Add some water (half a wineglass, as the Italians might say), reduce heat to low, and braise for at least 30 minutes. I think it's even better cooked a little longer, but check for water every so often either way. Really good with beans, perhaps mounded together on toasted bread, drizzled with more oil, even topped with an egg. Jim
  20. I'm here fairly often but never really have much time. The Portland Farmers Market opens next Saturday, March 21, the earliest opening ever. I'll be there selling olive oil, salt, vinegar (maybe), olives, and, now, farro (from Bluebird Grain Farms in Winthrop, Washington). I'm also open every Tuesday at my "warehouse," a glorified garage in SE Portland (9th & Main), from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. Carlo...I missed the part about staying near the Lloyd Center. You can take the light rail (MAX) downtown from there for free. Unfortunately, there's not a lot within walking distance of Lloyd Center ( except Patisco, a new sandwich spot, on Broadway and NE 14th, or Foster & Dobbs, about 10 minutes walk farther north at NE 15th & Brazee). Email me from my webs site if you have any questions about food. Jim
  21. Carlo, If you want to stay within walking distance (or the free transit zone), Clyde Common and Park Kitchen downtown are very good bets. Bunk Sandwiches is also walkable (altho' the Morrison Bridge isn't as nice a river crossing as the Burnside or Hawthorne, so maybe a nice loop is the best approach). Nostrana, also on the close-in east side, is very good. Farther afield, Toro Bravo, Ned Ludd, Navarre, Simpatica Dining Hall, and Por Que No are all good examples of why we eat so well here. Full disclosure: most of my favorite restaurants are also olive oil customers, but that's why the food is so good. Jim
  22. Salt-packed anchovies aren't any more apparent in dishes than the oil-packed version if you use them the same way, but I think the depth of flavor they provide is more complex and just plain better. I buy the large round tins at a local specialty food shop, transfer the anchovies to glass container, and keep them the refrigerator for months. They do require a little more work, but it only takes a few seconds to rinse, split, and debone the anchovies under running water. I usually chop them finely and add them to skillet with the garlic when I'm making something that starts with an aromatic base. If you're making something where you want that pronounced flavor, the salt packed anchovies are cleaner tasting than the oil-packed. I've never soaked anchovies of any kind in milk. Seems like an unnecessary step. Jim
  23. nibor, Contact "Raul Duke" by email or PM. He produces some tasty extra virgin olive oil in SoCal. Jim
  24. I've written about this here before, and wanted to find my old posts, but after 10 minutes of reading search results I gave up. The issue isn't so much adulteration with hazelnut oil or other things, but the fact that "extra virgin olive oil" has no real meaning here. The term isn't regulated by the FDA (despite years of effort by the California Olive Oil Council), and as a result the vast majority of olive oil sold in the US labeled "extra virgin" is really a blend of refined and virgin olive oils. These blends can withstand much higher heats, altho' extra virgin olive oils have smoke points anywhere form 325-375 F, which for me is plenty hot. Anything sold in a clear bottle that's been sitting under the light of a retail store is almost surely a blend, since true extra virgin oil will turn brown after a few weeks of intense light exposure. Cheaper oils are also likely blends, and anything called "lite" is definitely a blend. Jim
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