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December, 2011:

Nuts and Bolts with Pork Drippings

Nuts and bolts with pork fat

Do we all remember the dark ages before free trade when there was a big difference between grocery availability in Canada and the US? Dill Pickle chips and Shreddies were  the highlights of what we could exchange with our American cousins for their Cherry Coke-led cornucopia. Not much leverage there, except before Christmas when the value of Shreddies sky-rockets because it is the workhorse of the greatest of all snack mixes, Nuts and Bolts.

My aunt Kim has my grandmother’s recipe posted on Squidoo but this year I decided I’d add my own twist to it. (And really isn’t that what recipe blog posts are for?) (more…)

Candied Clementine Peel

Candied clementine peel.

Clementines are the de facto citrus sponsor of Christmas in my part of the world. Everyone gets one in the toe of their stocking and they’re what keep our hands and mouths busy between the assorted holiday meals. When I was a kid my brothers and I ate enough of these mini-oranges that if the crates they’re sold in, came in bigger crates that’s how my mother would have bought them.

But what about the mountains of peel we created?

There must be some way to put them to good use. I thought about marmalade at first but that’s such a particular, specialised preparation that I’d rather stick to tradition and use the intended Seville oranges. Instead, because the product is attractive and the process is pretty easy, I decided to candy the peel. (more…)

Banh Mi Boys Opens

Banh Mi Boys has opened at Queen and Spadina.

Update: After being open a couple of months Banh Mi Boys closed for renovations this winter. They have reopened and I have the a new post including the new, expanded Banh Mi Boys menu.

Yesterday, the Grid published a good read from Karon Liu about Banh Mi Boys, the sandwich spot that has opened at Queen and Spadina.

The Banh Mi Boys menu.

The Banh Mi Boys menu.

I’ve been in twice and tried almost all of the (delicious) menu. Highlights were the 5-spice pork belly banh mi, and the beef balbi and pulled pork tacos. Since the pork shoulder for the pulled pork is actually smoked in house (and therefore not the usual braised, saucy mash) it’s particularly worth a shot. (more…)

Bone Marrow Butter

Bone marrow butter on pasta with bacon, parmesan, and milkweed pods

I love the deeply meaty flavour of bone marrow. It tastes to me like that connection of grass, butter, and animal smells that fill the kitchen when a really nice steak hits a cast iron pan. It’s a bit of a production to clean, roast, and serve bone marrow, though. A special spoon is sometimes used–no one buys these except restaurants and gift givers–and the most popular presentation usually has bone marrow stand on its own with just bread, salt, and parsley as complements.

Sometimes this ritual is what’s called for but bone marrow has such a luxuriously beefy flavour that it seems a shame to not use it more often. Of course there is always Bordelaise but the thought of making a demi-glace before even beginning the red wine reduction or poaching the bone marrow is enough to discourage all but the most well-equipped restaurant chefs. I can’t think of a preparation better suited to spread great flavour over several weeks than compound butter. (more…)

Cheesewerks Grilled Cheese Opens

The Los Angeles

After cup-a-soup, grilled cheese sandwiches were the first food I learned to make on my own.

Later–much later–I developed some strong opinions about how certain food should be eaten. I’ll admit that I was only partly joking when I indignantly accused my brother of committing cheese abuse by melting precious two-year old Balderson for a sandwich. I was young. Okay, I was a bit of a brat.

The Original: Aged and Smoked Balderson cheddars on cracked black pepper sourdough from St. John's bakery

The Original: Aged and Smoked Balderson cheddars on cracked black pepper sourdough from St. John's bakery

This sandwich has lately been raised to fetish status and those seeking to wrap themselves in the security blanket of melted cheese memories can head to Cheesewerks on the west side of Bathurst, just south of King. Free Stuff Alert: To celebrate the opening on Friday, December 16, from noon to 2 PM they are giving away their Original Grilled Cheese sandwiches. That’s Aged and Smoked Balderson Cheddar grilled on the cracked black peppercorn sourdough made specially for Cheesewerks by St. John’s Bakery. (more…)