Sunday, March 28, 2010

These are a Few of my Favourite Things

I always have my to-do lists in the kitchen. These tasks are tackled after prep each night and on Mondays & Tuesdays, the two days we’re closed. Big jobs, little jobs, and lots of in-between stuff. They conveniently fall equally into 2 camps… Things I love doing and Things I don’t.
Making Ice Cream— oh, how I love making ice-cream. I’ve probably made 1000 batches and yet never tire of the process! I scream, you scream……..but I digress. Who doesn’t love the rich seductive allure of hand-crafted ice-cream? If you are not a fan I will understand if you skip over this paragraph. And the flavour possibilities… I’ve made ice cream w/ smoked bananas, black olives, lemon confit, tarragon & lovage, to name a few. On our current menu we have romaine ice-cream as part of our Caesar salad, and a smoky vanilla tobacco ice -cream as a component in the Testosterone dessert.
Making Bread— I remember my first attempts @ breadmaking; I think I was 12 years old. I was a tad impatient then, didn’t yet appreciate the importance of time when embarking on time-honoured traditions. I was kneading the dough for 15 min. or so, and while the flavour was outstanding the loaves were a little… well, flat. What was I doing wrong? I did research, experimented like a mad scientist, and made more loaves than I could possibly eat! One day, while kneading yet another batch of dough, my mum came in the kitchen. After watching me for a few minutes she offered these words of advice… “that dough is a living thing, maybe it just kneads (sorry, I couldn’t resist) more time to wake up. Try kneading it longer.” Well, I kept going for 45 minutes and couldn’t believe the transformation…the dough was like elastic silk and the powerful aroma of yeast almost knocked me over! When I took the loaves out of the oven that day I was stunned. They were perfect! Since that day I have probably baked more than 5000 loaves of artisan bread w/ kneading time always exceeding 45 minutes. Hey, it’s also a great workout!
Charcuterie/Butchery— I butchered my first animal when I was 12, a grass-fed heirloom pig from a local farmer. I will admit to feeling a little intimidated, but once I had begun it seemed to come naturally. From that pig I crafted guanciale, wild fennel salami, procsiutto, pancetta, pork tuna, rillettes, crackling, and tete du cochon. I just love the whole process. I always feel like I’m entering a time warp, performing tasks as they were done so many years ago. I feel that I am showing respect to both the animal and the farmer who raised it properly. It also provides another lesson in patience as curing meats need time, no rushing allowed. The prosciutto that now graces the Charcuterie plate hung for just over 2 years. Gimme, gimme never gets!
Next post will be devoted to the things I don’t love to do.
Tastefully Yours,