Thursday, March 24, 2011

We are all in it together ...

About a week and a half ago I found out that people in Japan were reading this blog. It was the first time dish. had reached Japan and it was in the middle of the crisis. It amazed me.

Every evening since the tsunami hit Japan, I have been watching the news and reading newspapers. Throughout the day, during class breaks, I read online and constantly follow the plight of my fellow humans. It sounds strange to say but it's true. I have been watching the videos, watching the people on the ground, watching stories of hope, love, loss and most recently, stories of fear about the nuclear crisis compounding an already grave situation. It one of the first periods in history where we have such constant, abundant, shocking, detailed and almost instant coverage of such a catastrophe. I could not take my eyes off of what was happening right in front of me.

It made me remember a few things, left me to ponder others and lifted my soul. It made me remember that nature is a force that has been relatively gracious with humans so far. It made me remember that no matter how advanced we are, our things are flimsy. It left me to ponder the ramifications of such a catastrophe and how other countries facing similar situations in the future will go about "safeguarding" their people. It also lifted my soul in the most magnificent way. It was seeing people being kind to one another, helping one another, giving their last piece of food to an elder, waiting patiently and harmoniously in long lines and most poignantly changing their greeting of Konnichiwa (hello) to We are all in it together...hang on ... that did it.

This little gesture of humanity filled my eyes with joyous, compassionate tears and connected me with all these people on the other side of the world. My fellow humans. Still sounds strange. Still true.

We are all in a fragile place right now. We are all in it together...hang on ...

Traditional Japanese Nagamono ながもの (Udon) noodles for good luck

Here is what you need...

  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 lb. wheat flour
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 4 cups dashi stock
  • 2 tablespoons of shoyu
  • 2 tablespoons of mirin
  • scallions, sliced thinly

Here is what to do...

  1. Dissolve the salt in a cup of warm water, stirring a little to help it along. Then mix flour and water, adding a little of each at a time. Once a doughy consistency has been reached, take out and on a floured surface, knead until soft.
  2. Place in a bowl, cover with moist towel and let it sit for one hour. Then knead once more, cover and let it sit, once more, for a half an hour.
  3. When ready, dust a large smooth surface with flour and roll the dough to a little less than 1/4 inch thick. Dust the top of the dough with flour and fold in half gently so as not to have the dough stick. Then cut the dough, folded, into 1/4 inch strips.
  4. In the meantime, bring a pot of water to a rapid boil and then lower the noodles in for about 10 to 20 minutes or until they are tender (stir periodically with chopsticks to make sure they aren’t sticking).Once the noodles are tender, drain through the colander and rinse gently in cold water. Make sure to shake of excess water and to rinse the noodles until they are completely cool.
  5. Now add your dashi, shoyu, mirin and scallions and send all your good wishes to all those that need them.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Yes, it involves tree parts ...

Okay, I am going to just come right out and say it. I am enamoured with all fruits, vegetables and sometimes twigs and pits fermented, aged, brewed and distilled for our lovely consumption.

To put it less delicately, I love my drinks. Love. Wine, beer, scotch, gin, rum, vodka (I am going to stop here for fear of filling the page). Everything about the things we ferment appeals to me. Particular aromas, diverse flavours, myriad colors, tantalising scents, variable viscosity's, the countless combinations of spirits and the history behind every culture's particular spirit and how(why) it came to be, all bring me great joy.

I love the tasting ritual, the pairing with food to bring out various subtleties, the shopping for glasses that will bring out the very best in each spirit to make it more pleasing to the nose and palate. The communal gathering of friends to talk, laugh and share various spirits with. The occasional evenings with a perfect, ice cold, blessed Hendricks martini, all on my own. Green olives please. With pits.

Blessed Hendrick's ...1.75 Liters's not a typo ...
 All said, since it is St. Patrick's day today and we all know what that means (for those of you who would actually like to know who St. Patrick is see below, after drink recipe) I wanted to share a lovely drink recipe with you.

Yes, I have a St. Patrick`s drink recipe.

Yes, it involves tree parts ...

Tree parts ...and mini rosebuds ...

Time to drink ... ahem  ...I meant, time to dish.  ...

Ladies and gentlemen, the honorable Emerald Presse a la dish.

The honorable Emerald Presse ...

Here is what you need ...

  • John Jameson Irish Whiskey (amount: your discretion, I have a heavy hand ...)
  • Two to three ounces of Elderflower syrup
  • Limes
  • Cedar tree "leaves" (rosemary needles if you do not want to bother ...but you should ...)
  • Mini rosebuds (optional but so pretty and adds a touch of sweetness if you can find them)
  • Very fizzy mineral water

Here is what to do ...

  1. Bruise Cedar "leaves" in a mortar and pestle to release aroma and oils. Then in a glass with ice, add all the ingredients including the Cedar leaves and rosebuds, mix and enjoy.
  2. Have at least two.
  3. Maybe three is St. Patrick's day after all honor the Irish, long live!

Okay so here is the lowdown on St. Patrick:

  • Saint
  • Patrick
  • Catholic
  • Lived long ago (400ish AD)
  • Born in Britain
  • Captured, enslaved and brought back to Ireland by Irish raiders (curve ball yes? who knew?)
  • Escaped
  • Returned (#%!???)
  • Preached (as free man) for 30 years
  • Original St. Patrick's color was blue
  • No one knows when or why it changed
  • No one knows when it went from obligatory church festival to booze infused debauchery
  • The Catholic church is trying to reclaim it
  • I think the drunks will win

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Vicia faba, meet readers ...

Today I let in a little spark of hope. A tiny glimmer of spirit came out of hibernation and contemplated the possible arrival of spring.

As I sit and work with trusty assistant Napa, I peek outside. Outside, the snow is melting and the sidewalks peer through. The birds are back with their beautiful songs. And, this is the major indicator here, I could swear that through the open window, I smell the faintest hint of dog poo.

Trusty assistant Napa ...

Ever so gingerly, I then began to ponder the next six months. The upcoming seasons. Why you ask? What does it mean? Well dear readers, it means that for the next six months, yours truly will be as wide eyed, as delighted and as prancy (yes, I did just say prancy) as a baby lamb set free in a vast, rolling flower meadow.

It means that markets will be frequented with fervor, purveyors and farmers consulted for our daily menu and bountiful produce revered. It means endless, glorious, awesome gatherings around tables with loved ones. It means that I am happy.

To celebrate the possibility of spring, I would like to introduce you to a delicate, lovely gem which is symbolic of growth and regeneration with the arrival of spring.

Dear readers, I present to you, Vicia faba (also known as Fava bean).

Vicia faba, meet readers.

(Picture it ...Vicia faba ... no photo due to using them all up and forgetting to photograph them for post, blaming horrible memory ...)

Mini about faba: In Quebec, the lovely fava grows best in the Saguenay-Lac Saint-Jean region which suits its desire for a cooler climate. This not so little pulse first originated in the Mediterranean over 8000 years ago and travelled to Quebec with Louis Hebert in 1618. Why do I know this you ask? Because at heart I am a research geek ( for this one, try not to laugh at me too hard yes?). It is incredibly good for you, and, incredibly tasty.

Time to dish.

This is a gorgeous recipe from BBC Food - A cook's year in France - adapted dish. style.

Elegant Fava & Spinach soup

Here is what you need ...
  • 2 big glugs of olive oil - yes I said glugs, you know what I mean...
  • a generous knob of butter - yes I said knob, you know what I mean...
  • one bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds of fresh fava beans
  • 1 spring potato, finely diced
  • 1 liter of tasty vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of cream or full fat milk
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1 handful of sorrel leaves - this is optional but so worth it
  • lot's of your favorite lovely goat's cheese
  • fragrant Tarragon to garnish

Here is what to do ...
  1. Pull lovely favas out of their pods. Then, in a pot, heat oil and butter together and add the spring onion. Once the onion has softened, add the potato and continue to sautee for two to three minutes. Then add the stock, salt and pepper, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  2. Cook for twenty minutes or until the beans are tender. Remove from the heat and add the young spinach and sorrel reserving a few beautiful leaves for garnish. Using an immersion blender (or a regular one) blend the soup until smooth but still slightly bumpy.
  3. Plate, add the goats cheese, place under broil to melt slightly, remove, garnish with spinach, sorrel and tarragon and enjoy with crusty bread drizzled with olive oil.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The book ...

It is gray and snowy outside today. Soft. Pretty. John Coltrane croons in the kitchen as I type (we just purchased a new table/island for the kitchen and I am in heaven. It will be my new office!).

In between watching Napa watching ants and pruning the new addition to our family (a portly ficus microcarpa) I am working on the book this morning.

The new addition to our family ...

I can’t seem to call it my book (I've tried, several times). I suppose it does not seem quite real. It feels more like I am going through various processes. Strolling down memory lane, winding through over a decade of food magazines is my first step on this journey (besides myriad notes on the closest surfaces available– napkins, posties, envelopes, paper bags, receipts, tissues, sometimes regular paper).

I have hundreds of food magazines dear readers. I can instantly spot my favorites through the years. You know the ones that are the most crumpled, stained, torn and creased from enthusiastic messy use.

Going through them will take me a while. I am looking forward to it. Remembering the moments that these recipes brought me, the discoveries, the techniques, the adventures, the grimaces (as in this morning when I spotted a lesson from Italy on how to clean squid which I found a touch … graphic).

At the same time, I am organizing the thousands upon thousands of pictures of food that I have snapped over the years and finding that reminiscing agrees with me. It reconnects me somehow. I am going to make it a point to do it more often.

Time to dish.

This is one of my most loved recipes adapted from La Cucina's “Truffles” feature.

Raviolone con tuorlo e robiola
Large ravioli with egg yolk and robiola

God bless hairy truffle sniffing pigs ...

Hairy truffle  sniffing pigs ...blessed ...

Here is what you need …

  • Store bought fresh lasagna sheets (original recipe calls for making your own ravioli dough but I was too lazy that day)
  • (Also, if you must, you can use bought thin, wonton wrappers, they work surprisingly well for other ravioli dishes)
  • 6 ounces robiola fresca (cheese dears, cheese)
  • 6 farm eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 ounce fresh Perigord Truffle (heavens catch me)
  • 6 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmigiano-Regianno
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • Parchment paper dusted with flour (one piece for each square, you will see why …)

Here is what to do …

  1. Crack your eggs into a bowl. Tenderly please.
  2. Flour your surface and roll out your cheaters fresh lasagna sheets until they are nice and thin. Just imagine being able to see that gorgeous yolk…
  3. Cut into four inch ravioli squares.
  4. Place each square on your dusted parchment paper.
  5. Place robiola in the center of your square making a little nest for your egg to come.
  6. Gingerly scoop up an egg yolk with your hands and place it in the robiola nest.
  7. Dab the edge of your square with water (water acts as glue for your top piece).
  8. Place a ravioli square atop the loveliness below and seal tightly.
  9. Dust with flour and repeat for remaining squares.

  1. Now, in a large skillet, add 1 ½ inches of water. Add sea salt and bring to a boil and then reduce the heat so it is not at a rolling boil (this intensity will be too much for your tender pasta and will break it apart).
  2. Working in batches, gently, gingerly, tenderly, as if it was your first born, slide your ravioli, yolk side up, into the pan. Do not turn it over, do not overcook. About two minutes will do.
  1. Using a slotted spoon, transfer your ravioli into a welcoming plate, drizzle with melted butter, add grated truffle, sprinkle with Parmigiano and white pepper and bite into oozy, warm buttery, peppery, earthy truffle heaven.