10 Uses for Dill Pickle Brine

There are all sorts of ways to use the brine from dill pickles in your cooking.  Let’s start with 10 easy ways to incorporate it into your cooking.

Before we give our list, there are two things to keep in mind:

  1. Not all brine is equal.  I’m basing these ideas on homemade pickles (which tend to be more acidic compared to the sweetened version that many commercial manufacturers sell).  I’m also basing this on a vinegar pickle (as opposed to a fermented pickle which will be even more diverse as it’s flavors are often less pungent).  At the end of the day let your taste buds guide you – taste a small amount of the brine to see if you want to use it!
  2. If cooking with brine/ acid sounds odd, don’t let it freak you out.  Many Chefs consider acid to be almost as important as salt and will add it to almost any dish.  Here’s some more info about cooking with acid.

10 Uses for Dill Pickle Brine November [Read more...]

Canadian Food Experience: My Fall Harvest is Hunting Moose

This is our fifth month participating in the Canadian Food Experience Project which began June 7 2013. As more than 80 participants share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. This months theme is the fall harvest.  You can see all of our posts in this series here.

Unlike last month’s theme (preserving) which turned out to be a painful exercise in choosing a topic; this month’s was an easy pick for me.  We’ve been challenged to write about the Canadian Harvest.  In my case, that means hunting.

Regular readers know that I publish my hunting diary each year (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013).  They’re long and somewhat (intentionally) boring.  It’s my hope that reading the posts simulate the experience of the hunt which involves prolonged periods of quiet solitude contrasted with moments of physical and mental tests that almost dares you to continue.

Canadian Food Experience: My Fall Harvest is Hunting Moose November moose Canadian Food Experience [Read more...]

Last Tomatoes of the Season

Part of the reason I write here is to keep notes that I can use in the future to refer back to in order to manage my kitchen better.  I’ve been meaning to write this post for years and always forget – though I’m sure it might just bore everyone else!

Today is the last day that we have tomatoes from the garden.  They aren’t plentiful or beautiful.  But they are the last tomatoes we’ll have in the house until next summer.

Last Tomatoes of the Season November

I always think that tomato season is over by September; we’ve been finding tomatoes at markets right through October and my Mother gave me some heirloom tomatoes from her garden this evening.  They are mostly small and slightly ghastly but they are tomatoes!

When is/ was your last day of tomatoes for the year?

This is a #Slowfish2013 Roe Down!

This is a #Slowfish2013 Roe Down! October

October is SlowFish month in Canada. As part of SlowFood, SlowFish champions all that is Good, Clean, and Fair in FISH. Fishing has a huge role in Canadian culture and SlowFish will highlight this and help to inform people in making sustainable decisions about the type of fish they choose to eat.

“We hope to support, discover, and celebrate Canada’s small scale, sustainable fisheries by connecting people who eat seafood to the people who catch it, harvest it, and grow it.” – Dave Adler, from the slowfood canada website here.

Here are some ways you can celebrate good, clean, fair fish this month and EVERY month. (thanks to Dan and Kristin at Hooked for this great list and being fantastic SlowFish Abassadors and organizers):

  1. Each time you go out to eat ask: where did this fish come from?
  2. Share a local fish dinner at home with friends
  3. Watch a documentary to help inform
  4. Buy a whole fish and learn how to cook it
  5. Choose a lesser known/bycatch fish for dinner
  6. *(this one is added by me) Talk to a knowledgable fish monger about fish, how it’s caught and which ones are sustainable to eat. You’ll be surprised by what you learn I’m sure.

You can also refer  to the “Sustainable Fish Switch” graphic that they collaborated with us on in a previous issue of Edible Toronto for inspiration on new types of fish to ask about.

As part of the #Slowfish2013 Canadian Campaign, Hooked has been championing some great events around Toronto (Dan is a judge at the upcoming Oceanwise Chowder Chowdown) and organizing a FREE screening of the documentary Red Gold at the Ryerson University library on October 28, including a $5 fish fry before the movie!  More info Here.

*Lucky Me…. I got to spend an amazing monday morning a couple of weeks ago at Hooked with some of Toronto’s most talented chefs, watching them get creative with preserving whitefish roe and making ‘Caviar’ as part of the #Slowfish2013 #Roedown. Basically, the chefs were invited to spend their day off learning to make Caviar and experimenting with various ingredients to make it all their own. Dan and Kristin wanted to foster an atmosphere of collaboration and experimentation and it worked. I saw (and tasted) caviar made with beer, chili salt, pickle juice, sake and dashi broth!

Kristin told me that there are complicated regulations around selling caviar in Canada, plus there’s lots of competition for international producers. So Canadian Caviar producers are leaving the business which leaves our fisherfolk with a very limited number of people who want/need the roe. So then it becomes a biproduct of fishing and is either thrown away or sold to pet food companies. By helping the chefs learn how to work with the raw ingredient they are helping to create a new market for the roe that helps keep it as part of our own food system. Preserving fish roe (like most types of preserving) is a tradition that has been around for centuries…and something that is being lost in our country.

For the RoeDown each Chef will submit 3 different creations for tasting by the #Roedown Judges at an event on October 29th (judges include Christine Cushing and James Chatto). In the weeks leading up to the event they will be provided different types of fish roe to experiment with (from Hooked suppliers so all are small, well managed fisheries).  Including: Coho Salmon, pickerel, trout, whitefish and more. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they come up with. Everyone seemed to be having so much fun experimenting in the Hooked kitchen.

Here’s a kindof FishFollowFriday of some of the chefs that were there. Keep an eye on the hashtag #slowfish2013 and #roedown on the 29th for the results. I’ll be posting some pictures and tweeting.

Sunny Stone,  Hooked   @iamsunnystone
Grant Van Gameren, Bar Isabel  @grantvangameren @barisabel797
Chris McDonald, Cava Restaurant  @cavachef
Daniel Muia, Mogette Bistro, @mogettebistro
Carolyn Reid,   Scaramouche
Rob Gentile, Buca   @Robb_Gentile   @BucaToronto
Rebekka Hutton, Alchemy Pickle Co.   @alchemypickle
Giacomo Pasquini, Vertical   @verticalTO
Charlotte Langley, Catch   @charlotke   @catch_to
Guillermo Russo, Arcadian Court
Andrew Poulsen, Hooked   @northanders
Marc St.Jaques, Auberge de Pomier

Have you ever made caviar?  We’re looking forward to trying to make our own in the coming weeks. stay tuned!

Preserving Food is Easy!

Dana and I recently had the privilege of teaching a small workshop on waterbath canning.

The feedback was universal:

Preserving is easy.

Preserving Food is Easy! October [Read more...]

Pear Sauce (like Apple Sauce) Recipe – Preserving

Pearsauce is a lot like applesauce; although I tend to make it semi-sweetened.  It’s always easier to sweeten a can after the fact but I like the idea that this has lower sugar, and can be used as a savory ingredient as well as a sweet one.

Pearsauce is excellent with pork, cheese, french toast or game birds (like a partridge in a pear tree?).

Pear Sauce (like Apple Sauce) Recipe   Preserving Pear October [Read more...]

Chili Salt (Updated Instructions on how to Make it)

When we first wrote about chile salt, we had no idea how much we’d use it.  We then experimented by making salt with pickled hot peppers and also went wild for it!  The recipe was almost an after thought – a last resort plan to deal with some peppers that were crazy hot.

This recipe takes less than 5 minutes to make.

This has really become one of my most favorite preserves and rarely lasts more than a few months.  The salt absorbs all of the heat from the peppers.  This is especially fantastic because the salt will dissolve into whatever you cook and spread the heat through the dish without dramatically changing the flavor.

Chili Salt (Updated Instructions on how to Make it) Salt October Hot Peppers ghost pepper [Read more...]