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.

11 Days of Feastmas – the big day of cooking

It’s cold and dark outside.  I’ve been up for an hour and will leave the house before 6.00AM.  I hope to be back home by 8.00AM and the first of several dishes will hit the stove by 8.30.  December 24th has become a big day of cooking for me – an awesome and exciting day and one that gives me the chance to cook without being antisocial – after all, the guests have not arrived yet.

There are 3 breads to bake today (and likely another 1-2 to start for tomorrow).  2 pies, these slow-roasted tomatoes (and we learned last night that figs can be halved and touched with cinnamon and mandarin rind and cooked the same way and intend to) and we’re going to get our chestnuts going too.  I plan to dunk the warm chestnuts into brandy after watching a Jamie Oliver Christmas special last night.

It’s an exciting morning – the prospect of coffee and a market that is quiet before the storm enthralls.

And, of course, there is still the matter of the one remaining Christmas Gift that I am short of.  11 Days of Feastmas   the big day of cooking December

Ladies and Gentlemen, have a most wonderful day – check your list twice to make sure you’ve got what you need!  If you don’t have extra celery, carrots and onions to help make stock on the weekend, there’s still time!  We’ll be posting some tips on boxing day on how to make a better, bolder stock.

Happy Holidays to all of our friends, lovers and other strangers (Toronto readers will recognize this odd ending from

What are foods you can’t live without this time of year?

11 Days of Feastmas – All about the coffee

We have learned this the hard way – reduced store hours and increased people with free time going places equals less access to good coffee.

Make sure you have a beautiful selection of coffee – go out of your way, perhaps, to grab something a little special.

11 Days of Feastmas   All about the coffee December Coffee Beverage Recipes [Read more...]

Cheap Tuesday Gourmet – filling your fridge affordably

We announced the start of a new series of posts last week with a promise to launch today.  The full details are here but the premise is simple – creating good, wholesome food at affordable pricing as a means to support and create a dialogue in which we can share how to eat wholesome food at a fraction of a price of fast food alternatives.  The terms gourmet and cheap are relative – the term Tuesday is not.

A recent interview with Thomas Keller (one of the world’s top chefs) revealed his secret to great food as a single equation: great products + technique = great food.  So many recipe books and tips on eating healthy focus on recipes (i.e. technique) but rarely where to find the product affordably.

Chef Keller’s definition of great ingredients likely differ from mine – then again I am not cooking nightly at a 3 Michelin star restaurant.  Local and organic are niceties – fresh and healthy are necessities.

Consider the following sink full of vegetables bought last weekend:

Cheap Tuesday Gourmet   filling your fridge affordably December Cheap Tuesday Gourmet

I forgot to count – the haul amounted to more than 16 peppers, 4 medium-sized broccoli and more than 2 dozen carrots.  Enough vegetables for an entire week for $10 Canadian dollars.  All were fresh – the carrots were almost field sweet.

The downside is that they were imported from the US – alas it is likely that more and more groceries are coming from elsewhere as today is the first official day of winter (and the shortest day of the year).  Compared to the origins of much of the produce appearing at major grocers these days, the US is relatively close (and certainly can be closer than many locations from across our vast country).  Purchasing the same amount at the grocery store could easily have been $25+.

If shopping on a budget, timing can be everything.  We have the luxury of the St Lawrence Farmer`s Market in Toronto which is a year-round market.  The North Market is a temporary market that is in a building just north of the main building and operates only on Saturdays.

There are some farmers (as well as some truly authentic butchers, cheese makers and others) as well as several resellers.  A reseller is someone who buys fruit or vegetables from places such as the food terminal and resells them to the public at large.  I`ve had my frustrations with dedicated resellers in the summer who do not clearly separate their offerings from farmers and are willing to allow consumers to confuse them with farmers.

Many resellers at once-per-week markets do not sell food full-time.  Many do not have storage facilities and know that their produce simply wont last a full week until the next market.  It`s also exhausting to haul all their produce back to storage facilities and many are willing to part with their product at cost (or lower) at the end of the day.  You do not need to barter – simply arrive at the end of the market and look for reduced prices.  The closer to the end, the more likely a reseller will drop their prices.

We do not hound people or barter when we do this – we simply arrive at the right time.  If you are in an urban area, look for a weekly market and find out when it closes – take a peak around and see what is being offered – you may find yourself in for a great find!