Last winter I wrote a post about my first attempts at making vinegar. I set a few types in motion on the kitchen counter, and over the course of the winter I added several more. Now, at the six-or-so month mark, I thought it would be helpful to check in on their progress to see how the different kinds have fermented, aged, and matured in that time. Given that it’s cider season, I’m eager to bottle as many of these as I can to make room for the next batches.
Month: September 2011
Speaking of essentials–like the pressure cooker mentioned previously–it’s hard to beat having a few containers of smoked chicken stock on hand in the freezer. As much as I love smoked chicken (and mine enjoys a pretty good reputation in these parts) I almost love the stock more. It’s like liquid barbecue, yet weightless and fat-free, so it has an Ali-esque butterfly/bee dichotomy going on. It’s mighty for cooking beans, stews, gravy, or anything else that enjoys a good smoky note, and in a pinch it’s superb as a noodle soup base with a little or a lot added on top.
I know I’ve been slacking here, but between the last article and my ostensible main gig as a painter it’s been hard to find the time. Now that summer is over, I’m hoping to get back into more of a routine. Another plus to the advent of fall is the cooler weather, of course, which allows for such lavish luxuries as baking bread after 7AM without wanting to kill oneself, wearing pants (actually kind of a hardship), and braising tough, inexpensive cuts of meat to transform them into unctuous and sensual delights. And having a pressure cooker makes this last item possible in half an hour flat.
Here’s a dinner from a little while ago during summer’s peak that was very good to eat and has the added benefit of being well photographed. And as we all know, photographs mean that something happened, unlike my dinner tonight which was excellent but does not exist as far as the Internets are concerned.
So for this month’s pâté and terrine project, I vacillated back and forth between a few ideas and then decided to make all of them. I had invited over a bunch of food writer/blogger types, so I figured quantity and variety would both be desirable. I emailed Northwind Farm and placed an order for a duck, a rabbit, and a pork butt, and picked them up at the weekly market here in town. Over the course of a couple of days, I turned the three things into three different pâtés, using a couple of tricks I’ve learned in my couple of years of terrine making, and which really do improve the results dramatically.
Right before Irene hit I went into the garden and preemptively picked all the ripe and semi-ripe tomatoes and peppers, figuring that the winds might bring down the trellises and damage the fragile fruit. It turned out to be prescient, since though the paste tomato trellis is still standing, the other one took the brunt of the tree’s impact and there’s not much left but a few bright cherry tomatoes visible through a tangle of busted-up vines. On the plus side, I had a big pile of beautiful nightshades just begging to be transformed into one of my late-summer specialties: smoked salsa.