Guilty Pleasure at the St. Lawrence Market

I hear so many people rave about peameal on a bun at the St. Lawrence Market.  There is a certain Canadian charm the the sandwich and the market does do a great job of this classic.

My obsession is, however, different:

Guilty Pleasure at the St. Lawrence Market January

Veal and Egglplant on a bun from Mustacio’s in the basement of the market.  A $7 feast complemented with a crunchy crusted bun and a soft interior.  I ask for cheese, onions and hot peppers – adding a bit of sriracha hot sauce at home.

It may be time for a nap!  Soon thereafter we will be trying our first batch of dehydrating using our new dehydrator from Santa.  We’ve come home with 4 types of Ontario apples to give it a try (2 sour, 2 sweet).

What a Wonderful start to the year

I used to really struggle on New Years Eve.  I found it difficult to surround myself with parties of people excited to bring in the New Year – at the time it felt like people were wishing the time away; a difficult concept for someone who adores (adored?) living in the moment.

At any rate, my teen angst is now behind me and we’ve settled into a New Years Eve tradition that brings me great joy over the last 4 or 5 years.  A quiet evening surrounded by food and friends and great beverages.  We had the opportunity to host a group of 6 dear friends last night and feasted like kings and queens.  Dinner was a 5-hour progressive tasting marathon and was a lot of fun.  Great conversation, friendship and revelry were had.

I took the opportunity to try to cook things I’ve never done before – a risky proposition to learn with an audience so I balanced it with some tested favorites.  A dear friend who also helped in the kitchen suggested surf and turf so we played on that theme through the evening.

Menu of the night:

  • Cheese tray to die for – XMas leftovers and more than 12 cheeses from around the world.  Included preserves, 3 types of homemade bread, our own slow roasted tomatoes, charcuterie and preserves to match.  We opened one of the 4 jars of amaretto pears we made this year (my first sampling of them) – pleased to say they turned out awesome!
  • Oysters Rockefeller (panko, pancetta, oregano, parsley, parmesean, beemster) and mussels steamed in white wine and our ’09 tomato sauce.
  • Naked Ravioli poached in butter and a farmers field full of sage leaves.  Matched with homemade focaccia (a no-knead variety which uses a small amount of potato water and yukon gold potatoes).
  • Butterfish sashimi on endive with green onion and citrus.  Our friend P brought this to the table – wonderful amuse bouche.
  • Lobster bisque with whipped cream with Canadian Sherry and Vanilla (we bought when in the Dominican 2 years ago).  I had never made – or eaten lobster bisque and think this may have been the hit of the night.  We stole a trick from Alinea and served the bisque in a bowl – the bowl was served on a plate covered in fresh mint and boiling water to pair the smell of mint with the taste of the bisque.  It’s amazing what flavor you can bring from the shells – the part so many throw out.  It is also a heck of a way to extend your lobster budget.
  • Beef wellington with Lobster Newberg (lobster cream sauce on egg noodles).  This was my first attempt at wellington and though I would change my approach slightly I am thrilled with the results.
  • Homemade local apple sour cream pie.

The best thing served on the table last night?  Great conversation and laughter shared amongst friends.  Leftovers have been stunning so far – including a lobster newberg sandwich.

The night officially ended around 3AM – we skipped a final cheese course due to caloric overload.

Happy New Years

Todays post will be delayed until further notice Happy New Years January

Final Preserving batch of the year – Turkey Stock

We live in an apartment in Toronto – while we are fortunate to have lots of space inside our walls, very little of that is freezer space.  My entire freezer consists of the small chest above our fridge and some borrowed space in Markham (about a 30 minute drive from here).  This is part of the reason we can so much.

As we cook fairly often at home, I keep a jar of stock open at almost all times.  Stock is just a handy staple and something that`s tough to live without.  We use it in soup, pasta, to de-glaze pans, stirfrys, cooking rice, steaming anything and so forth.

Final Preserving batch of the year   Turkey Stock Turkey Preserving Recipes December Bones [Read more...]

Prime Rib Roast – with a side of blowtorch

Jan 7, 2014 (edit): Don’t have a blowtorch or don’t want to use it on your meat?  Check out this recipe for a more conventional approach to cooking prime rib.

Several big name Chefs have been raving about taking a blowtorch to a side of beef.  Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal (both with restaurants on the list of the top 10 in the world) have raved about using a torch to sear a prime rib; we had to give it a try.

The theory is straightforward – a prime rib is best served rare-medium rare acquired with low/slow cooking and most tasty when it is accompanied with a dark brown crust which is accomplished by high heat.  This is a difficult oxymoron to achieve – one objective interferes with the other.

Prime Rib Roast   with a side of blowtorch Prime Rib December Cooking Recipes Beef

A blowtorch is a source of high heat that will start to cook the surface of the prime rib without cooking the inside.  The technique is simple – light a torch and sear all exposed meat with the flame.  You are simply looking to make the surface grey (not dark brown) and the oven will continue to brown your meat and render the fat (even at low heat).  We did ours on a rack over a tray – the fat will start to render and drip into your pan.

Once the entire roast is grey, season it.  We chose a very simple seasoning of lots of salt and pepper.

The roast can now be put into the over at 275 degrees until the roast reaches a temperature of 128 degrees in the center.

Prime Rib Roast   with a side of blowtorch Prime Rib December Cooking Recipes Beef

It is important you let the roast rest once it is complete – we waited almost 30 minutes.

The results were full of flavor, cooked to perfection and just an awesome meal.

Cheap Tuesday Gourmet: New Years Eve Mussels

Although this meal would be suitable for any evening that you wish, it is certainly a fine option for New Year.  It is a super easy meal to prepare and so many people avoid because of the perceived difficulty.  Cooking mussels is easier than boiling potatoes correctly.

Mussels are on sale this week at one of the large chains – though their prices are in kilograms, it amounts to $2.00 per pound.  Their normal price is $2.50 per pound.  It was common to see them at 99 cents per pound only a few years back.

The only two things you have to keep in mind for cooking this shellfish is that you only want to cook live ones and that you don’t eat the beards (a small grass-like piece which allows a mussel to attach to rocks and other anchors in the ocean).

Looking for live mussels is easy – you want to ensure the shells are closed.  If a shell is open, knock it on the counter a few times (not hard) – it should close over the next few minutes.  If it remains open, discard it.

Removing beards is also easy – simply pull them from the shell before or after cooking. [Read more...]

Well Preserved into the future

With a year of experience under our belts we are looking at the year ahead and nefariously plotting where we are going to journey with the blog into next year.  Here are some of the ideas – and we are open to receiving your feedback and ideas.  Some of these ideas are locked in stone, others negotiable:

  • Series will continue.  There will be plenty of posts outside of the realms of these series but we will endeavor to put some themes and series together to dig deeper into topics we are passionate about.
  • Guest posts will commence.  We will find a way to feature people we adore around food.  Some will be professionals and others be passionate food-loving people. [Read more...]

365 Days Later…

We have made it!

Well Preserved was born 365 days ago – our official birthday is on the 28th but this is our last day of being “0.”

We haven`t missed a day of posting in the entire year – a surprise considering the launching of this site was a spontaneous act (we told the story of the origin here and are going to avoid being redundant).  We have decided to continue the journey for an unspecified time to go (I make temporary contracts with myself for things such as these) and hope you will continue to join our adventures. [Read more...]

11 Days of Feastmas – How to make great turkey stock and soup

This is the end of the 11 days of posts on Feastmas.  It’s been a good run but all good things must meet their end – or be reborn through leftovers.

I have done a lot of reading in recent years on how to perfect stock.  I have been surprised to learn that many of the common practices taught around making stock actually fly in the face of science or the knowledge of professional chefs.  The work of Herve This and Harold McGee (both prominent food scientists) has really inspired me to learn a lot more about making a better stock – something I am still actively learning about. [Read more...]

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I have written and re-written this post in my head at least 15 times today.  I have had time to write and had lots to write about.  But the vision for this post keeps on coming back – it beckons for shorter and sweeter.

We are humbled and blessed and fortunate and lucky and thankful for all that we have.  Far beyond the material, the food, the drink – we have each other.

Today has been an entire day of feasting, sharing, eating (and it continues).  We are so lucky – the luckiest part of all that we have are the people around us.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays – I hope you all are so fortunate.