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Friday, February 25, 2011

Sloppy Joes from Home Food Storage

What do you do if you're fiercely determined to stay out of the grocery store, but want to make a dish that calls for ingredients you don't have on hand?

Break it down and build it back up. I had a couple round steak roast thawing in the freezer and a plan to make Sloppy Joes. This isn't something I make often, but one of those kid-friendly recipes I pull out occasionally.

The recipes I found online call for ingredients I don't have on hand or don't want to use. Ketchup, for example, I have, but I don't want to use my son's special canned ketchup (each jar is labeled "Luc's Ketchup") for this dish nor do I want to use up the last of my lactofermented ketchup. So, I break down ketchup and use that instead: tomatoes cooked to a paste plus vinegar, sweetener, seasonings. I don't keep Worcestshire sauce anymore, but have found that tamari is a fine substitute. We're just looking for some liquid saltines. I don't have brown sugar, but molasses is what makes white sugar brown anyway, so why not use that?

So, here we have Sloppy Joes à Chez Musser. This makes a large batch and could easily be halved, we froze leftovers in pint jars. I served the Sloppy Joes as open-faced sandwiches with lactofermented pickles and Silvana Nardone’s gluten-free double corn bread, the best corn bread I've ever made. Lots of corn flavor and just a touch of sweetness.

2 round steak roasts, cut into 2-inch cubes (save bones for stock-making)
2 tablespoons tallow or ghee
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint tomato paste
4 tablespoons molasses
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari, more to taste if necessary
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan on a medium-high burner then brown meat in batches. Don't crowd the meat or it will steam rather than brown. You want to create a nice brown crust on at least two sides of each beef cube. To do this, let meat sit in one place for 2-3 minutes, resist the urge to move it around. When the meat releases easily from the pan, that's a good sign that the meat is browned. Place brown meat in the bowl of slow cooker. Add a tallow or ghee to pan, then saute carrots, celery, and onion until brown and softened. Add garlic, warm for a minute, then scrap vegetables into bowl with the meat. Add tomato paste to the slow cooker bowl, then rinse the jar or cans and put the rinse water in the saute pan. Cook the water in the pan, scrapping up any bits that are still in the pan. Pour water into slow cooker bowl.

You could skip all of the proceeding steps and simply throw the cubed meat and diced veggies into your slow cooker, along with all the other ingredients, but by browning everything first, you are creating, through the Maillard reaction, a greater depth of flavor.

Add molasses, vinegar, tamari, cloves, cumin, and pepper to the slow cooker. Mix well, cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-9 hours.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Neighborhood Notes: Eating Locally in Mid-Winter

Seriously, I don't seek out all this press! Melissa Reeser of the Portland community news blog Neighborhood Notes interviewed me recently for a story about eating locally in mid-winter. Photographer Heather Zinger came to Sunday's Lactofermentation class to get some pictures. Fun!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Charcutepalooza: Duck Breast Prosciutto

When my husband and I were about to be married, we did what many couples do and set up a registry. Rather, I did what many brides do and set up a registry. Husband-to-be wasn't especially keen on the idea, but when I explained that whether we registered or not, people would be buying us gifts and we might as well let them know what we'd most like, he relented and gave me his wish list. On it, a smoker. Uh. Okay? Really? A smoker? And a lawn mower. Alrighty then. A smoker and a lawn mower. He got both.

Well, I'll admit, I was a silly girl to question the smoker. Over the years Mike has made fantastic smoked salmon, bacon, brisket, smokey pulled pork, smoked trout. He's smoked eggplant for me to make baba ganouj, smoked peppers and zucchini stuff with pork sausage. All good.

Bacon, Summer 2009
For Christmas a couple years ago, I bought him a copy of Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman. Good stuff got even better as Mike's understanding of curing and smoking developed. Recently, good friends bought a house with its own freestanding smokehouse. Right smack in the middle of suburbia.

Those two guys are always looking for an excuse to fire up the smoker and we wives are happy to oblige them.

The Guys Smoke Ribs for a Party, April 2010

Myself, I don't mess with smoke, but have made gravlax, pickled salmon, liverwurst, and goose liver pâté (not technically foie gras, as the liver came from the well- but not over-fed goose we raised in our backyard). I also fantasize pretty regularly about making salami at home though I have yet to act on those fantasies. When I stumbled across the Charcutepalooza challenge to make something from Ruhlman's book every month for a year, I signed us up right away.

I hope we'll get to salami.

Duck prosciutto was a particularly fitting first challenge as last year I finally discovered how much I love duck and tucked several locally raised Pekin ducks in the deep freeze in the fall. Mike took care of the preliminaries late at night, after I'd gone to bed, so no pics of him cutting up the duck, setting the breast halves in a bed of salt, or, 24 hours later, wrapping each in cheesecloth and hanging them up to cure. We set up our basement bathroom as our curing area, opening the little window to let in the cold winter air. After 8 days, the duck breasts had not lost 30% of their initial weight, but I took down the smaller of the two as it did feel sufficently firmed up to me. I sliced it and found this:

 I immediately cut the slices into bits and fried them like this... 


And added them to my morning eggs:

For dinner that evening, I made a salad starring thin slices of prosciutto, with mandarin oranges poached in zinfandel*, blood orange segments, water chestnuts, and black sesame seeds drizzled with ginger-miso-blood orange and grapefruit marmalade* dressing:

The orange-duck combo was naturally delicious and the bitter-sour flavors from the dressing balanced the fat beautifully. I kept making myself perfect little bites of prosciutto, blood orange, a bit of orange zest from the marmalade, and romaine. 

Still thinking about what I might make with the second duck breast. What would you suggest?

* Canned during my citrus canning class earlier this month.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Celery-Celery Salad

I'm caring for a family member with a urinary tract infection. We've been using herbs, homeopathic remedies, and healing foods rather than resorting to antibiotics and noticing an improvement after 24 hours of active treatment. Along with lots of water, I've been encouraging my patient to eat parsley and celery as their natural diuretic effect helps flush bacteria out of the urinary tract. Probiotics boost the immune system, so I have been offering probiotic-rich lactofermented veggies. Raw garlic, with its strong antibiotic properties always does a body good.

I wanted to come up with a light, appetizing meal that would bring all those healing foods together. I happened to pick up the February/March issue of Fine Cooking (which is chockful of great recipes, including a piece on quick pickles by Eugenia Bone, author of my favorite canning book of 2009, Well Preserved) and immediately noticed a salad featuring celery, fennel, parsley, and anchovies with a lemon-Parmigiano vinaigrette. I loved the idea and came up with this variation (ignoring the Parmigiano, as my patient is avoiding dairy while fighting this infection). When people taste preserved lemons and lactofermented vegetables for the first time in my classes they love them, but are unsure about how to use them in meals. Here's a great example.

Celery-Celery Salad
Serves 4

1 medium fennel bulb, shaved thinly (a mandoline helps with this)
2 stalks celery, sliced thinly on the diagonal (you can do that on a mandoline, too)
1 tin of sardines, mashed
2 tablespoon minced preserved lemon peel
4 tablespoons lactofermented celery root (I'll post about how to make those soon)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lactofermented mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, finely minced
salt and pepper to taste

Combine fennel, celery, sardines, preserved lemon, and celery root in a medium bowl. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, mayonnaise and garlic. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss.