Friday, July 31, 2009

conserverie 101

Jessica Dally, master canner/food preserver and founder of Seattle Free School, taught an AMAZING and memorable class (by donation) mostly dedicated to SAFETY. Loved it. She's a great instructor, and sure got her point across. (She teaches cheese-making classes also!)

Let's see...the biggest lesson here was how to not kill your loved ones. VERY IMPORTANT! This is not a time to be 'experimental' or an adventurous cook. You don't want to improvise, you don't want to KILL YOUR FAMILY. Here are the key points:
  • Follow a recipe that is backed by good science and rigorous testing. There are only 2 books that are approved and these are: So Easy to Preserve put out by the University of Georgia Extension Program, and Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, which can be found in most hardware stores.
It's also risky to rely on an index card Grandma used in 1954 or even a publication from the U.S. Department of Agriculture dated before 1994, says Luke LaBorde, associate professor of food science at Penn State University. Some techniques have changed, he says, to keep up with science.

The consequences for improper canning techniques can be serious, especially if consumers mishandle foods with low acid content, such as green beans and asparagus. Spores from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum may grow in such foods, creating toxins that can cause paralysis and death. In one recent case, reported in Spokane, Wash., a woman was put on a ventilator and two children were more mildly sickened after eating improperly canned green beans, Chapman says.
  • Follow recipes to a TEE!
  • Glass jars and the metal rims can be reused, but be sure that there are no cracks or imperfections. The lids CANNOT be reused, under any circumstance.
  • Cool old jars from the days of yore might seem like a cute idea, but oh so not.
  • What do you do if someone brings you a nice little gift of say...canned carrots, or canned tomatoes? Jessica's advice "throw it out." If you don't know whether or not your friend/family member followed the rules of canning, don't chance it. Don't ask make them feel bad by throwing it out in front of their faces, do it at your own discretion.
You can consult these helpful websites:

Monday, July 6, 2009

poutine à seattle

Being Canadian, I take my Poutine very seriously.

A lot of folks ruin it by either using the wrong cheese (non-curd), or making the wrong gravy. That's right folks, curds & gravy atop a bed of crispy French fries..*I heart u Poutine*

Poutine #1:
I was told that the Steelhead Diner (downtown Seattle) had a very good Poutine (amazing considering it's made in the US of A!) It was absolutely SCRUMDILI-ICIOUS! I give this Poutine 4 out of 5 stars!
  • Beecher's curds
  • Crispy fries (none of that hand-cut bullshit)
  • Rich gravy (it was vegetarian believe it or not, but tasted so rich and meat-like)

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[poo-TEN] The ultimate in French-Canadian junk food, poutine is a mélange of warm french fries, topped with fresh cheese curds, then smothered with gravy. The subject of the gravy is widely debated-some say it should be beef, others declare chicken gravy is the only way to go, and still others proclaim a spicy barbecue sauce is the answer. This Québécois favorite is consumed while hot with a fork.
The dish originated in rural Quebec, Canada, in the late 1950s.

Classic Poutine

The French fries are of medium thickness, and fried so that the insides are still soft, with an outer crust. The gravy is a light chicken, veal or turkey gravy, mildly spiced with a hint of pepper. Heavy beef or pork-based brown gravies are typically not used. Fresh cheese curd (not more than a day old) is used. To prepare, first place the hot fries into a bowl or large plate, then spread the cheese curd on top. The cheese curd should be at room temperature. Then pour piping hot gravy over the cheese curds and fries.

The wine for the evening:
A to Z Rose (from Oregon) one of my favorite Rosés

Characteristics: Made entirely of Sangiovese grapes, this Rosé has inviting nose full of fresh pure strawberries, raspberries, cherries, wildflowers with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg.

The only domestic wine to be selected in Wine Spectator's (May, '06) favorite Rosés.

Poutine #2:
Gainsbourg Lounge in Greenwood; you know, for a restaurant which boasts 'French', I certainly am rarely pleased. The only thing that comes close is the rude non-existent service I usually get. The decor is fun, the atmosphere is right up my alley, but if you don't have the goods, I won't be excited about going back. The poutine was mediocre at best. The gravy was lumpy, starchy, and cold and not homemade (if it was, oh my...) the cheese was a grated gruyere. I'm all about gruyere in French food, on Croque-Monsieurs/Madames - their Croque-Monsieur looked horrible - in salads, baked on just about anything, it's delicious! Grated cheese on 'poutine' is not 'poutine'. I won't be eating this at Gainsbourg again, I don't think I will be eating there again, unless I'm really drunk and have nowhere else to go on my stumble home. In that case, I will be ordering anything BUT the poutine. The frites are actually quite good. I give this poutine 1.5 stars out of 5.

Steelhead Diner
95 Pine St
Seattle, WA 98101-1530
(206) 625-0129

8550 Greenwood Ave N (between 85th St & 87th St)
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 781-2224

chaque sorbet de l'arc en ciel

Yum, Yum, and Yum!

I've been on a sorbet kick lately, being summer and all. Let's see if I can remember the order of things thus far....

  • Mojito Sorbet (just like the drink, only frozen)
  • Mango/Nectarine/Lemon/Mint Sorbet
  • Blueberry/Honey Mango/Lemon Sorbet

The first thing I did for the the blueberry sorbet was cook the blueberries and 1/2 cup of sugar for 20 minutes. Once cooked and cooled, I strained the blueberries through a fine colander. I chopped 4 honey mangoes, threw them in a food processor with the blueberry mixture, zested a lemon and added some of its juice, and threw in a little white wine. I then liquefied all the ingredients in the processor and put them in the sorbet maker. 25 minutes later, deliciousness. It was the perfect sweetness, had a very subtle tartness, it almost tasted like a fruit tea.

This sorbet came after:

  • fried breaded oysters
  • prawn quesadillas
  • homemade guacamole (best ever)
fact or fiction: oysters are an aphrodisiac

I purchased the oysters and prawns at Wild Salmon Seafood Market at the Fisherman's Terminal in Ballard in Seattle. Great place! The prawns were minutes off the boat, doesn't get any fresher than that!

Wine of the evening:

Wolftrap Boekenhoutskloof Rose (delicious)
The high percentage of syrah in the blend leads to the spicy aromatic nose of wine, the cinsault offers juicy fruit and the mourvedre adds structure and weight.
Tasting Notes : A bright brick pink colour with strawberry fruit on the nose and a touch of spice. The palate has the same fruit with a hint of redcurrant, and nice weight to carry it through to the good long finish.