Sunday, October 29, 2017

Walking all the work ...

Hi my dears.


Seven years ago in October, I started writing in public. It was a difficult thing for me to (force myself) to do because my life thus far had taught me to be private and closed for various reasons, but I knew I needed to do it. And so I did and was born. Now, here we are seven years later, almost to the day (in 2010 it was the 27th of October) I am here with a new name.

Techy things:

I am not the most tech savvy person, to say the least. It is just not something that I choose to devote time to given that we have only so much of it in a day and one must choose so, this means that I totally ignored ( la la la la la ...) some serious emails and techy things and now no longer have my original blog It was sold out to someone else (I could not believe it ....  la la la la la ...) and after hours of phone calls I found out and decided that it is too expensive for me to buy the domain name back and therefore, here we are.

Starlight Moondance, my dears.

Here and now:

So, I have spent part of the afternoon starting to copy and paste the content of my blog here. I was so afraid that it was all gone but it's not (thank sweet goodness, says person who has no clue about these things and was afraid seven years of writing went poof) and so, I will spend the next few weeks diligently going through and walking all the work to this path here.

Thank you.
In gratitude.
In openess.
In growth for my greater good and a sacred path.

Thank you for being here and reading my words darlings. Take care of each other.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Everybody into the grinder ...

And the casings ...

Well, here it is dear readers. I present you The greatest Italian Sausage and The ridiculously delicious to die for Italian Cotechino. The original technique and recipe was handed down through generations of a very special Italian family. It was then passed on through Chad by Carmine and very gratefully now from Chad through me. I love links. Thank you.

Time to dish.

Carmine's Italian Sausage and Cotechino Courtesy of Chad

Step 1. Take a breather from the headcheese you just made because it was pretty crazy. Have an Old Speckled Hen.

                                Check. Old Speckled Hen. No photo. Didn't make it. It's beer. It's awesome.

Step 2. Carry the pig leg on your shoulder just because it's cool and fun, place it on a table and admire the meaty glory.

Check. Carrying pig leg on shoulder. Super cool.

Check. On the table. Admiring meaty glory.

Step 3. Listen carefully to instructions from the king of pighold in your bubbling excitement & watch your fingers.

                    Check. Listening. Watching. Holding in bubbling excitement. No photo, also perished.

Step 4. Butcher and take a picture of the men you know butchering. It's really special.

Check. Butchering.

Check. Butchering some more. Loving it.

Check. Men I know butchering (one of them is husband). Documented.

Gratuitous butchering shot. Husband doing it. Kinda macho.Very impressed.

Step 5. Make a pile of the butchered meat and separate the skin and fat.

Check. Piles separated.

Step 6. Get ready for the grinder. Slice the meat into slabs so that they fit nicely into your grinder. Your mixture should consist of meat and fat - three to one (the skin is only for the Cotechino which we will get to later). You need two people for this so it is a communal effort. One feeds and stuffs and the other pulls the sausage as the meat fills the casings. If you have a third person they will probably be the one with the filthy mind quipping about what resembles what. Ahem.

                                                                 Check. Getting ready. No getting ready shot. Perished.

Step 7. Everybody into the grinder. Three pieces of meat, one of fat. Once everything is ground lay flat, season with sea salt salt, pepper, chili flakes, cayenne pepper and fennel seeds.
Check. Everybody into the grinder.

Lots of grinding. Big leg. Take turns.

Check. Lay flat and season while king of pig studies recipe for perfection.

Step 8. After the seasoning prepare for round two. Place the casing (with one end tied so everything does not spill out) on the nozzle of the grinder. Shape the meat into tennis ball rounds (easier to stuff grinder). Then, second grinding. Go. And pull. And stuff. And grind. And pull and stuff and grind.

Check. Casing on nozzle and pork tennis balls.

Check. And pull and stuff and grind.

Step 10. Twist into links. They are done.

Check. Twisted into links. Done.

Step 11. Grab another Old Speckled Hen. Phfew.

Step 12. Ice your shoulder. You'll see ...

Once done, you can freeze these little bundles of deliciousness in containers in the freezer. To cook we fried them once and grilled them the second time. They were the best sausages I have ever tasted.

I cannot believe I am going to say this dear readers but I will post the Cotechino separately for the same reasons as the headcheese. Tomorrow. I swear. We will call it the series of three: Adventures in Porkland**Can you imagine we had delusions of doing all this and the head cheese in one day.**

In loving memory: Carmine died a few years ago and is dearly missed by his friend Chad. His memory and beautiful recipes live on.

Original 4.26.11

Friday, April 22, 2011

Everybody into the pot ...

Well, the laptop expired but some of the photos made it (barely and with hours of work but made it nevertheless so very grateful for at least a few) and I am thankfully able to share them with you.  Hang on to your hats and stomachs (see disclaimer in previous post) dear readers and join me for a step by step guide to making head cheese sausage. Here we go.

A little history. Head cheese is an old timer (middle ages'ish) that is savoured all across the world (well, except maybe North America but for sure everywhere else) . In Romania, we used to have a version of it called Piftie every Easter and on Christmas. My dad made it. I used to look forward to it all year while some of my other family members regarded me with jaws dropped when contemplating what I was about to eat. I love the nasty bits. Best parts.

Okay, time to dish.

Chad's Stupendous Head Cheese

Step 1. Find the person who will share the wisdom, the heart and technique of the art of butchering, curing, stuffing, smoking and drying.

Check. The king of pig ...

Step 2. Find the person who can make it possible to get a whole pig's head in Montreal. It was hard. The king of pig did it.

Check. The butcher of pig ...

Step 3. Say thank you to the pig who gave his (or her) life so you can have something beautiful and yummy.
Check. Thank you pig...

Step 4. Ask the butcher of pig for feet to go in the giant stockpot. They are primarily responsible for that awesome gelatinous texture.

Check. Feet ...

Step 5. Make sure you have a giant stockpot.

Check. Giant stock pot ... I'll explain the paint cans later ...

Step 6. Put everybody in the pot, cover with water, add seasoning and aromatics (see below for what some of ours were), heave ho onto the stove and simmer "until the jaw drops off" (about 4 hours).

Check. Everybody into the pot ...
 Step 7. At the half point, get some paint cans and then stand on some paint cans so you can reach inside the pot, check in, give a stir and see what's going on.

Check. Paint cans ...

Check. Stand on them, see what's up ...

Check. All is well ...
  Step 8. This step is an all in one shot deal because this is where we had to stop and continue with the sausage. Chad and Leslie finished it after we left and we enjoyed it all together a few days later. Okay, imagination time. Once the jaw has fallen off, take all the meat out of the pot and place it into, you guessed it, a giant tray, wait for everything to cool, pick the meat, cartilage and ears out and shred (by hand) and cut (with a knife)  into head cheese'ish pieces until it is a big pile of awesome. In the meantime strain your boiling liquid, check for seasoning and adjust if needed and set aside to cool. Once meat is ready and liquid is cool, pick out the mold of your choice, place meat inside about three quarters of the way through, cover with cooking liquid and refrigerate it until, mhhmm, it's awesome. Then, slice and serve cool with some spicy Dijon mustard and super crunchy cornichons and pickled onions.  Heaven.

Check. A big pile of awesome ...

You know, after giving it some thought I am going to write another post for the Cotechino and Italian sausage. This will be way too long if I continue. What I will aim for is another post tomorrow for all of you eager sausage makers who want to make a last minute Easter bid to impress your friends with your stupendous sausage making skills. Ahem.

**For spices and aromatics we used the following: Salt, pepper, vinegar (a healthy amount), whole onions, whole garlic gloves, bay leaves, thyme, cloves and juniper berries.**

Original 4.22.11

Monday, April 18, 2011

Small windows are sometimes granted ...

Disclaimer: There are (might be, see below) a few pretty graphic pictures in this post so if you have a queasy tummy watch out.

Also: My laptop just crashed and is in the emergency room at the tech shop on the corner. If it does not recover, this story may be another one for the imagination.

It's been a heck of a few weeks dear readers. I've been coping with some health issues so I have not been super well. The thing is though when you are not super well, you notice some things.

Here is what I've noticed so far:

1. No matter how hard I try, I am incapable of sitting in one place, in the same classroom, learning the same one subject, every day, for six hours a day. It makes me loopy.
2. The plants on the sunny side of the street are happier. I think the same might apply to people.
3. It's not fun to be not super well.
4. Yoga helps. A lot.
5. So does sweating your butt off on a bike.
6. Small windows are sometimes granted where you can make head cheese.

**Parenthesis: Well, it was supposed to be head cheese but turned into Italian sausage, Cotechino sausage and dried sausage instead. With the head cheese (and some of the sausages) halfway done and finished - bless their souls - by Chad and Leslie. **

7. And meet really awesome people in the process. Yep, this means you Chad and Leslie.

This won't be a super wordy post but more of a photographic journey (if the laptop makes it) of an experience that I will cherish for a lifetime.

If not, it will be a super wordy post. I expect news tomorrow morning.

Original 4.18.11

Thursday, March 24, 2011

We are all in it together ...

About a week and a half ago I found out that people in Japan were reading this blog. It was the first time dish. had reached Japan and it was in the middle of the crisis. It amazed me.

Every evening since the tsunami hit Japan, I have been watching the news and reading newspapers. Throughout the day, during class breaks, I read online and constantly follow the plight of my fellow humans. It sounds strange to say but it's true. I have been watching the videos, watching the people on the ground, watching stories of hope, love, loss and most recently, stories of fear about the nuclear crisis compounding an already grave situation. It one of the first periods in history where we have such constant, abundant, shocking, detailed and almost instant coverage of such a catastrophe. I could not take my eyes off of what was happening right in front of me.

It made me remember a few things, left me to ponder others and lifted my soul. It made me remember that nature is a force that has been relatively gracious with humans so far. It made me remember that no matter how advanced we are, our things are flimsy. It left me to ponder the ramifications of such a catastrophe and how other countries facing similar situations in the future will go about "safeguarding" their people. It also lifted my soul in the most magnificent way. It was seeing people being kind to one another, helping one another, giving their last piece of food to an elder, waiting patiently and harmoniously in long lines and most poignantly changing their greeting of Konnichiwa (hello) to We are all in it together...hang on ... that did it.

This little gesture of humanity filled my eyes with joyous, compassionate tears and connected me with all these people on the other side of the world. My fellow humans. Still sounds strange. Still true.

We are all in a fragile place right now. We are all in it together...hang on ...

Traditional Japanese Nagamono ながもの (Udon) noodles for good luck

Here is what you need...

  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 lb. wheat flour
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 4 cups dashi stock
  • 2 tablespoons of shoyu
  • 2 tablespoons of mirin
  • scallions, sliced thinly

Here is what to do...

  1. Dissolve the salt in a cup of warm water, stirring a little to help it along. Then mix flour and water, adding a little of each at a time. Once a doughy consistency has been reached, take out and on a floured surface, knead until soft.
  2. Place in a bowl, cover with moist towel and let it sit for one hour. Then knead once more, cover and let it sit, once more, for a half an hour.
  3. When ready, dust a large smooth surface with flour and roll the dough to a little less than 1/4 inch thick. Dust the top of the dough with flour and fold in half gently so as not to have the dough stick. Then cut the dough, folded, into 1/4 inch strips.
  4. In the meantime, bring a pot of water to a rapid boil and then lower the noodles in for about 10 to 20 minutes or until they are tender (stir periodically with chopsticks to make sure they aren’t sticking).Once the noodles are tender, drain through the colander and rinse gently in cold water. Make sure to shake of excess water and to rinse the noodles until they are completely cool.
  5. Now add your dashi, shoyu, mirin and scallions and send all your good wishes to all those that need them.

Original 3.24.11

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Yes, it involves tree parts ...

Okay, I am going to just come right out and say it. I am enamoured with all fruits, vegetables and sometimes twigs and pits fermented, aged, brewed and distilled for our lovely consumption.

To put it less delicately, I love my drinks. Love. Wine, beer, scotch, gin, rum, vodka (I am going to stop here for fear of filling the page). Everything about the things we ferment appeals to me. Particular aromas, diverse flavours, myriad colors, tantalising scents, variable viscosity's, the countless combinations of spirits and the history behind every culture's particular spirit and how(why) it came to be, all bring me great joy.

I love the tasting ritual, the pairing with food to bring out various subtleties, the shopping for glasses that will bring out the very best in each spirit to make it more pleasing to the nose and palate. The communal gathering of friends to talk, laugh and share various spirits with. The occasional evenings with a perfect, ice cold, blessed Hendricks martini, all on my own. Green olives please. With pits.

Blessed Hendrick's ...1.75 Liters's not a typo ...
All said, since it is St. Patrick's day today and we all know what that means (for those of you who would actually like to know who St. Patrick is see below, after drink recipe) I wanted to share a lovely drink recipe with you.

Yes, I have a St. Patrick`s drink recipe.

Yes, it involves tree parts ...

Tree parts ...and mini rosebuds ...

Time to drink ... ahem  ...I meant, time to dish.  ...

Ladies and gentlemen, the honorable Emerald Presse a la dish.

The honorable Emerald Presse ...

Here is what you need ...

  • John Jameson Irish Whiskey (amount: your discretion, I have a heavy hand ...)
  • Two to three ounces of Elderflower syrup
  • Limes
  • Cedar tree "leaves" (rosemary needles if you do not want to bother ...but you should ...)
  • Mini rosebuds (optional but so pretty and adds a touch of sweetness if you can find them)
  • Very fizzy mineral water

Here is what to do ...

  1. Bruise Cedar "leaves" in a mortar and pestle to release aroma and oils. Then in a glass with ice, add all the ingredients including the Cedar leaves and rosebuds, mix and enjoy.
  2. Have at least two.
  3. Maybe three is St. Patrick's day after all honor the Irish, long live!

Okay so here is the lowdown on St. Patrick:

  • Saint
  • Patrick
  • Catholic
  • Lived long ago (400ish AD)
  • Born in Britain
  • Captured, enslaved and brought back to Ireland by Irish raiders (curve ball yes? who knew?)
  • Escaped
  • Returned (#%!???)
  • Preached (as free man) for 30 years
  • Original St. Patrick's color was blue
  • No one knows when or why it changed
  • No one knows when it went from obligatory church festival to booze infused debauchery
  • The Catholic church is trying to reclaim it
  • I think the drunks will win

Original 3.17.11

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Vicia faba, meet readers ...

Today I let in a little spark of hope. A tiny glimmer of spirit came out of hibernation and contemplated the possible arrival of spring.

As I sit and work with trusty assistant Napa, I peek outside. Outside, the snow is melting and the sidewalks peer through. The birds are back with their beautiful songs. And, this is the major indicator here, I could swear that through the open window, I smell the faintest hint of dog poo.

Trusty assistant Napa ...

Ever so gingerly, I then began to ponder the next six months. The upcoming seasons. Why you ask? What does it mean? Well dear readers, it means that for the next six months, yours truly will be as wide eyed, as delighted and as prancy (yes, I did just say prancy) as a baby lamb set free in a vast, rolling flower meadow.

It means that markets will be frequented with fervor, purveyors and farmers consulted for our daily menu and bountiful produce revered. It means endless, glorious, awesome gatherings around tables with loved ones. It means that I am happy.

To celebrate the possibility of spring, I would like to introduce you to a delicate, lovely gem which is symbolic of growth and regeneration with the arrival of spring.

Dear readers, I present to you, Vicia faba (also known as Fava bean).

Vicia faba, meet readers.

(Picture it ...Vicia faba ... no photo due to using them all up and forgetting to photograph them for post, blaming horrible memory ...)

Mini about faba: In Quebec, the lovely fava grows best in the Saguenay-Lac Saint-Jean region which suits its desire for a cooler climate. This not so little pulse first originated in the Mediterranean over 8000 years ago and travelled to Quebec with Louis Hebert in 1618. Why do I know this you ask? Because at heart I am a research geek ( for this one, try not to laugh at me too hard yes?). It is incredibly good for you, and, incredibly tasty.

Time to dish.

This is a gorgeous recipe from BBC Food - A cook's year in France - adapted dish. style.

Elegant Fava & Spinach soup

Here is what you need ...
  • 2 big glugs of olive oil - yes I said glugs, you know what I mean...
  • a generous knob of butter - yes I said knob, you know what I mean...
  • one bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds of fresh fava beans
  • 1 spring potato, finely diced
  • 1 liter of tasty vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of cream or full fat milk
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1 handful of sorrel leaves - this is optional but so worth it
  • lot's of your favorite lovely goat's cheese
  • fragrant Tarragon to garnish

Here is what to do ...
  1. Pull lovely favas out of their pods. Then, in a pot, heat oil and butter together and add the spring onion. Once the onion has softened, add the potato and continue to sautee for two to three minutes. Then add the stock, salt and pepper, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  2. Cook for twenty minutes or until the beans are tender. Remove from the heat and add the young spinach and sorrel reserving a few beautiful leaves for garnish. Using an immersion blender (or a regular one) blend the soup until smooth but still slightly bumpy.
  3. Plate, add the goats cheese, place under broil to melt slightly, remove, garnish with spinach, sorrel and tarragon and enjoy with crusty bread drizzled with olive oil.

Original 3.13.11