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Halifax-Style Donair Sauce

Halifax-style Donair sauce before the ingredients have been mixed together.

Halifax-style Donair sauce before the ingredients have been mixed together.

The garlic sauce that originally went with Turkish doner kabab is made with yogurt, fresh garlic, lemon juice, sugar or honey, and optional flavouring.

In Halifax’s fast food joints, like King of Donair, it changed into something sweeter that can be made from fairly standard (North American) pantry ingredients. I’ve added some fresh garlic back in but it you find yourself in a post-apocalyptic wasteland feel free to make your Halifax donair sauce by subbing another tablespoon of garlic powder for the fresh stuff. (more…)

Wild Dill Pickles Recipe

Pickles at the one-week mark

Other than bacon, dill pickles may be my most frequent topic for posts. I’ve veered from strictly mainstream with posts about deep-frying pickles and making Jello shooters from the brine (seriously) but in 2009 I also did a background post on my second batch of homemade pickles and then a comparison between mine and similar store-bought pickles. With my fifth batch (in four years) of lacto-fermented, kosher dill pickles fermenting in the crock I think I’ve gained enough experience to offer some guidance to others.

I’m going to do a couple posts this week on these pickles. Today’s will be a straight-up recipe and the second will be a more in-depth troubleshooting post.

What distinguishes this recipe from other dill pickle recipes is that no vinegar is added to the brine. Cucumbers and flavourful ingredients are left in a salty brine for a few weeks at room temperature. “Wild” lactobacilli that are either already present in the container, on one of the ingredients, or land in the brine digest the sugars in the cucumbers and produce lactic acid which flavours the brine and keeps other micro-organisms from taking over.

This recipe is adapted from Sandor Katz’s Sour Pickles in his excellent book Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition and Craft of Lve-Culture Foods. Especially since the recipes trick comes from him credit is definitely due in this case. Wild Fermentation is a very useful book that is full of rare gems.

Update: After three weeks in the crock we have pickle success. For the fermenting period (July 30 to August 20) we had daytime temperatures that were roughly average (high 20′s in Celsius) for this time of year in southern Ontario. By the last of the three weeks it had started to get cooler at night (down to about 15C) on a more reliable basis.

By the time I was ready to transfer the pickles to jars the scum on the top of the brine was a slightly darker off-white shade. The pickles were sour, not too salty, had lots of garlic punch, and had a good, if not perfect, crunch.

In jars they’ll last in the refrigerator for about two to three months–some sources even say as long as six.

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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…)

Dill Pickle Showdown

Homemade kosher dill pickles in their cloudy brine

Homemade kosher dill pickles in their cloudy brine

I am very happy with the results from this year’s batch of wild cured pickles.  Most telling even my brothers who are usually cautious of my food experiments will eat these.  I can understand the default inclination to be wary of these pickles.  It is very unusual in our refrigerated and chemically-preserved food culture for fresh vegetables to improve their flavour and remain edible after two weeks of summer room temperatures in a kitchen that began to smell more than faintly of dill, garlic, and tangy pickle brine.  But these are really good and at a jar a week rate of consumption they’ll be gone before Thanksgiving.  (more…)

Home Cured Bacon

The oh so delicious finished product

The oh so delicious finished product

In common with just about every carnivorous (or omnivorous) human I really like bacon.  With Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie and this post from PauperedChef.com to guide me I decided to try and cure my own.

The first step in making bacon at home is probably the most challenging.  Major grocery stores, it seems, carry a dozen permutations (different brands, reduced salt, apple wood smoked, maple flavoured, thick cut) of factory-processed bacon but I have never come across a big piece of fresh, un-smoked pork belly in their refrigerated cases or at their meat counter. I know that European Meats in Kensington Market and T & T supermarkets across the GTA stock them but none of these options were convenient.  Surprisingly, the No Frills at Yonge and Steeles carries pork bellies (along with other pig parts like snouts, kidneys, and tongues) in their butcher case. (more…)