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eG Foodblog: Adam Balic - An Australian in Scotland


Adam Balic
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Is the game wild or farmed?

Depends on the game and what you mean by farmed. The "wild" boar is conventionally farmed (in the open), pheasants and partridge are raised as chicks by game keepers then released in to the wild (but there are a lot of wild breeding birds as well, especially the Grey Partridge), the red grouse, ptarmigan, snipe, woodcock and ducks are wild birds, although in the case of grouse their habitat is managed to some extent.

The Roe deer in this butcher is wild, but there is farmed deer in Scotland as well.

The ducks are often fed by the keepers too, in my experience.

Fascinating blog, Adam. I shall be using that bit of info about sweet potatoes.

clb

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I realise that although it is aproaching the end of this blog, I haven't explained a few things. I do 99.9% of the cooking in the household. Not because my wife can't cook (in fact she is very good), but because I don't let her.

I plan dinner parties, but rarely the daily cooking. This makes no having a daily market a bother. What we eat is pretty varied, mostly Italian, Middle Eastern and SE-Asian, but I go though phases of odd experimentation too.

I rarely repeat dishes, but one thing I cook every two weeks or so is a ragu. This is my ragu, so appologies to Italians.

Tonight is ragu night.

Basically I cook equal amounts of carrot, celery and onion. The onion is cooked first as I like to give it a little colour. If I was in Italy I would use the celery they sell as a herb, rather then a vegetable, as it means less water and not strings.

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Once the veg have cooked though (along with some fatty knuckle end of procuitto), I add the meat. This is equal amounts of pork and beef. If I could get veal I would use this too. This is slowly cooked. First the water comes out, then the fat renders out. The ingredients then fry a little in the fat. I don't really watch it, you can tell what is going on by the pitch of noise the pot makes, a little like reducing syrup.

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Once the contents have fried to the point I want, I add a few more main ingredients. (apart from tomatoes that is)

Some cheap wine and the most expensive milk I can get. Slightly more milk then wine. At this point I also add a few primary flavours, bay leaves, nutmeg and pepper. Nutmeg and bay leaves taste similar and I like the way they create a sort of backdrop for other flavours.

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At this point it doesn't look good, but it gets turned down to simmer and left for about two hours.

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This is standard, but sometimes I do variations on the theme:

- 100% pork with rosemary cooked in chicken broth and white winewith not tomato or milk (recreated from a meal in Florence).

- 100% pork sausage is cooked with porchini and cream

- As tonight (without the ingredients I will add later), but with chicken livers.

- 100% pork with cream, fennel and white wine.

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*eagerly awaiting next installment on the ragu*

Have you or will you do a getaway to Northern Africa, with your interests in that region?  Or did I miss it back when?

Tonight and tommow night are the last nights I will cook. On friday I will be cooked for at a friends house (they are very scared about being on a blog :biggrin: ).

I don't feel like cooking North African, so not this time. Tomorrow I will do either Mexican or Vietnamese, depending on the views of a higher authoritory.

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Putting sweet chile sauce on haggis is a bit of a stroke of genius, Adam. Hopefully it left no rictus or other ill effects. You can walk just fine and all?

So, I saw a pie upstream. Better than it looked?

Will any pie coming up from downstream in the thread?

And Happy Anniversary of being in the UK.

Pie was complete filth. Sadly, no pie this blog did consider a suet crust dumpling pie, but then remembered that it is summer.

Anniversary. Yay.

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OK. I have decided to make it into a vague Southern Italian thing. Normally, I would add these, which are the best capers I have had, obtained on a trip to Lipari (an Aeolian island, Sicily), but not tonight as I want to use the left over sauce for something else. So I will add garlic, chilli and this herb mix my wife got at the Syracuse market in Sicily. We have little idea what is in it (a few things are obvious), and it tastes more North African then Italian.

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Aaaah ragu. Even with so much to cook in the world, (I always say, too much to cook! I'll never get to it all!), a worthy biweekly exploration.

Adam when you get a chance could you discuss the favorite ways you use your ragu.

Priscilla

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Ragu is pretty much done. Meat is soft but not mushy, liquid is nice and rich.gallery_1643_1586_698585.jpg

While the pasta is draining, I take the fatty part of the sauce and pot it in the pasta pot to fry on high heat for a few minutes. This seperates the fat (which is mostly in emulsion), so when I add the pasta it gets coated in flavoured fat. It also adds another flavour element. The pasta is then added, more sauce is added and mixed though.

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My wife will have parmesan, I will have salted ricotta with it.

Salad and Black Hamburgh Muscat grapes for dessert and that is dinner.

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IMO the natural bride of the Haggis (in deep fried form only) is Sweet Chilli sauce.

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Is that bottle on the right really "green zaatar", or (more likely) am I reading it wrong? What does it taste like, and how would one use it? I think of zaatar as a dry mix.

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Is that bottle on the right really "green zaatar", or (more likely) am I reading it wrong?  What does it taste like, and how would one use it?  I think of zaatar as a dry mix.

No, you are correct it is green Joradnian Z'atar and iti is a dry mix. It contians roasted wheat, thyme, sumac, coriander seeds and sesame. I use it to dip bread into, flavour couscous or mix with butter to place under the skin of roasted chicken.

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However, there is a pickled za'atar also available in jars.It's pretty much sprigs of za'atar thyme very tightly packed in salted vinegar (or is it in brine? It's been a while since I had it). I'm sure the people on the Middle Eastern forum could tell you all sorts of exciting things to do with it.

I liked the flavor much that I simply ate it plain straight from the jar.

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Tonight and tommow night are the last nights I will cook. On friday I will be cooked for at a friends house (they are very scared about being on a blog :biggrin: ).

I don't feel like cooking North African, so not this time. Tomorrow I will do either Mexican or Vietnamese, depending on the views of a higher authoritory.

Sorry, I meant do you plan to travel there and do one of your famous pictorials?

And do Vietnamese! You already have the chili paste on hand.

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My wife will have parmesan, I will have salted ricotta with it.

Mmmhh, garganelli al ragu, simply delicious. I'll keep my mouth shut regarding the ricotta :shock::laugh:.

Did you make the pasta yourself?

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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Aaaah ragu.  Even with so much to cook in the world, (I always say, too much to cook!  I'll never get to it all!), a worthy biweekly exploration.

Adam when you get a chance could you discuss the favorite ways you use your ragu.

You mean "101 ways with mince"?

Usually, serve as is tonight, but if I have guests I will make papadelle to go with it. Or I will use it to make lasagna, stuff cannelloni or Moussaka.

The lasagna is either a Northern Italian version or a more free form Sicillian "shitty lasagna".

If I make Moussaka, as there are two of us I mostly make it in the form of Papoutsakia (little shoes/slippers) like this:

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Or sometimes I alter it into a chili or other such thing.

Edit: Obviously I don't use the same flavouring for all these. In this Papoutsakia for instance, I used oregano, all spice cinnamon and a tiny bit of pine honey.

Edited by Adam Balic (log)
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great blog - wish I had contacted you before my trip this past May to Edinburgh! I spent the last week of May there on business.

I thought the food was good. Had a great Indian meal one night at the Calvary Club.

One of my favorite meals was at The Shore in Leith. Do you know of it Adam?

I like Leith and the The Shore. When the weather is good we often go down to Leith and have a few beers outside. I also like Daniel's, because I like the bizarreness of an Alsatian bistro in Edinburgh, but mostly because I really like tart flambe.

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Tonight and tommow night are the last nights I will cook. On friday I will be cooked for at a friends house (they are very scared about being on a blog :biggrin: ).

I don't feel like cooking North African, so not this time. Tomorrow I will do either Mexican or Vietnamese, depending on the views of a higher authoritory.

Sorry, I meant do you plan to travel there and do one of your famous pictorials?

And do Vietnamese! You already have the chili paste on hand.

Kevin I have no plans to go to North Africa in the immediate future (Who are your sources? They are rubbish :smile: ). Northern Scotland in a week and Greece in September. Is that good enough.

Bad news on the Vietnamese front, I will explain later.

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I rarely repeat dishes

I'm impressed! Are the changes mainly intuitive tweaks or do you try out something completely new regularly?

A bit of both. I read through cookbooks and other food related books most nights and there is always something that makes me think "I should really make this". And there are more interesting dishes in the world then I will ever be able to cook in a lifetime. But I do like to cook a steak every so often too.

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Did you make the pasta yourself?

If I say "No" will you hold it against me?

Me? I'm a lazy fellow who never made garganelli in his whole life, so why should I. I buy the damned things on those few occasions when I manage to find them on sale. If you had said "yes" it would have been just another additon to my "Adam's impressive cooking" collection, vegetarian cracklings included. The fact that you have not is sort of reassuring.

Actually I'll have to take my word back about the ricotta salata, I'm just too curious. How did its saltiness work with the rich ragu?

Edited by albiston (log)
Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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