Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Burnt Toast



What can be learned from mistakes?
Often we try to not make them again.
But what if the mistake is a blessing in disguise?
What can we do to turn that mistake into the opposite?
Do we even try?
Do we just assume it's a mistake from what we've been taught or because it strayed from our original plan?

Perhaps every mistake is a discovery.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cinnamon-Smoked Bacalao



The best part of waking up, is smoking the fish you were curing the day before (I know that had you singing in your head). That christmas morning-like anticipation that also occurs when grilling marinated meats, fermenting vegetables and braising stews. Letting the flavors permeate and the texture of flesh transform. 


This anticipation is coupled with that nervous feeling predicting potential failure after all of that work and patience. Lately I've been trying more indoor smoking techniques and all the trials have turned out successful. I found a sushi mat I got as a gift years ago, still wrapped in it's clearance-rack make-your-own-sushi kit. Once I finally thought of a real use for it, I opened it up and used it as the smoking platform for the cod.


I seasoned the cod filet generously with salt the day before. I rinsed it off this morning and wok-smoked it over applewood and vietnamese cinnamon bark for 15 minutes (it was a small filet, though I don't think smoking longer would've resulted negatively; in fact, I wish I had smoked it longer and next time I will). 


It is reminiscent of a fresh bacalao, which is an oxymoron, I know; but the over-saltiness allows it be used in similar preparations with a more delicate approach and result. 
I flaked the meat carefully by hand into fairly large chunks and have it ready in my arsenal for a quick cold appetizer or a delicious sandwich.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fermented Cocktails: The Good & Plenty





There's a lot of preservation in my house right now. Finding various cool and dark spots to store jars of lemons, eggplant, cabbage, cauliflower stems and the like to allow lactobacillus to work it's magic. That magic results in a complex, yet simple, fermentation process where a quick pickle or marination has no match. Complex in it's science, simple in it's preparation. I'll hopefully get into more detail on preserved vegetables and fermentation in a future post.


Though the star of fermentation is the vegetable, the workhorse and liaison is the brine or juice in which it  sits. It's a great salty addition to braised greens or in a vinaigrette. And, of course, to re-use for your next batch of preserved such and such.


 Salt and/or vinegar can play a subtle yet effective role in a cocktail. Which led me to the idea of using the fermentation brine.


The following was mixed in a cocktail shaker and served up:


red cabbage sauerkraut brine
simple syrup
Absolut vodka
Sambuca
ice


First of all, it tasted exactly like a Good & Plenty. Unfortunately, I don't like Good & Plenty's, so I had a negative bias towards this drink. The most fascinating thing about it though, was the texture. It had a more viscous texture that I really enjoyed. Now, I only tried this cocktail served up, so I wonder how the dilution of ice would react with the viscosity. It might cut it back for better balance.


Also, it came out cloudier than I'd like. I worry if the brine could be clarified that it'll lose that beautiful purple hue.


All in all, fermented cocktail is not the correct term for this, as that alludes to the whole beverage being fermented (another interesting idea, on the heels of barrel-aging) but I don't know what else to call it.


So there.