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Alton Brown

Food Bloggers of Canada Featured Blogger


It’s my pleasure to share the news that I am the Food Bloggers of Canada featured blogger this week. I’ve been an FBC member since the early days of the organization, so it’s good to see their activities expanding and I’m honored to be in their spotlight.

FBC has been kind enough to run a giveaway with my book as the prize, but the main perk from this accolade is that they have posted a profile of me on their website. The blog post focuses on a questionnaire I filled out for them last month. There are some good questions on there that made me think and had me digging through the Food With Legs archives for inspiration.

I thought I would come up with a few extra questions and pose them to myself here as a sort of director’s cut, bonus content. (more…)

Grilled Cheese with Ribs and Slaw

Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Ribs and Slaw served with a dill pickle

The folks who run the Gorilla Cheese truck have what is easily one of the most popular food trucks in southern Ontario. I really like to see nice people do well but have to admit that their popularity annoyed me.

Grilled cheese sandwiches are probably the first meal I learned to make on my own. Why would anyone want to line up for an hour for something that fifteen-year-old me could make when instead, without waiting, they could have any of a score of more complex dishes? I watched just that happen at last summer’s third Food Truck Eats event and was flabbergasted.

The idea that these are more complex creations started to dawn on me after I attended the opening for Cheesewerks, a bricks-and-mortar competitor for the gorilla. But really it wasn’t until a month ago when I tried The Bubba at the Gorilla Cheese truck that I came full circle. That is one delicious sandwich.

Delicious enough that I was inspired to make it at home with my own substitution for the pulled pork they use. (more…)

Thorah Island Punch

My respect for Alton Brown does sometimes border on idolatry.  Along with Harold McGee, Jeffrey Steingarten, Julia Child, and John Thorne his work is part of what I consider the essential canon for those wanting to know more about the science of cooking from a North American-European perspective.  Good Eats is one of the last respectable Food Network shows and I can’t count the number of techniques I have learned from it that I realise I probably would have had more difficulty learning from a book.  Everything from crepes to brining.

Sometimes Alton puts out episodes that are obviously more about satisfying one of his side interests than a clamouring demand for information on a critical food topic.  All his cocktail episodes (ones with “raising the bar” in the title) fall into this category.  I have used and enjoyed his eggnog recipe and was particularly intrigued by the recipe for Cape Fear punch on the most recent installation in the Raising the Bar series.  To go with the appetisers (smoked salmon on homemade bread) that I made for my Terry Fox meal on Labour Day weekend I decided to slightly adapt this recipe in a fashion appropriate for the cottage’s island. (more…)

Pancetta Sweet Potato Waffles

Sweet potato waffles with Ad Hoc at Home fried chicken and rapini

New year’s resolutions don’t resonate with me.  They always strike me as too general (I’m going to eat better), unattainable (drink less), or things that you shouldn’t need a resolution for (be nicer to friends and family).  For some reason Lenten resolutions make more sense to me.  The idea of giving up something that we know we shouldn’t do, that will be difficult to do without  so that we are reminded that with spiritual redemption comes responsibility seems about right.

Lenten resolutions are also attractive because they only last for the forty days of Lent, between Ash Wednesday and Easter.  Sundays are considered mini-Easters so they don’t count.  I suspect this is partly so that those who give up booze for Lent can still take communion and note that St. Patrick’s Day is considered a Sunday in Ireland (even if the rest of the world soberly maintains that the day between Monday and Wednesday is “Tuesday”) when it falls during Lent.  In past years I have abstained from pop (which may be the new tobacco), french fries (in residence we were served a take on the fried potato every day at lunch), and swearing in mixed company.  This year I’m going to try to give up all cured or smoked pork products.  No bacon, no ham, no dry-cured sausage. (more…)

Cuts Like a Knife

My honing steel and favourite chefs knife

My honing steel and favourite chef's knife

Evidently, I’m pretty hooked on this whole idea of writing about food thing.  Pictures help a lot but some food and cooking concepts are really difficult to describe.  I still remember an “ah ha!” moment more than five years ago when Alton Brown demonstrated how to swirl crepe batter in a pan (this clip starting around minute ten) to get it to the optimal thinness.  I realised that was a technique that would have been much more difficult to understand without the visual aid.  There are many others but I’d like to deal with one today: knife honing.

First to deal with a confusing point: a knife is sharpened when its edge is ground on a stone (powered or otherwise) so that metal is actually removed from both sides of the edge.  Between sharpenings and through normal use parts of the edge will get pushed out of line and compromise the knife’s effectiveness.  By drawing a knife’s edge across a steel (or honing it) the edge is pushed back into line.