Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Long live lord lard...

Dear readers, I am going to come right out with it. Get straight to the point. Right after these sentences. I want a love day for fat. That's right. You heard correctly. A love fat day. I'm a little late in writing this I know, but all this past Feb Valentines business has got me thinking. Chocolate gets a love day (oh. come. on. you so know it's about chocolate). A day where everyone loves it and adores it and gushes over it and takes pictures of it and eats it and rolls around in it...I say, it's time for a love fat day. A day where everyone loves it and adores it and gushes over it and takes pictures of it and eats it and rolls around in it...

I will call it ... Lovefatday.

A day, when lard is lord! Where butter is baron and porc is prince! A day where suet is shah! A kingdom of corpulence! Where gras and skin and oil and cheese and pig and all things fatty can be celebrated in all of their oilygreasyglory!

Long live Lovefatday!

And yes, I do sometimes imagine a village where clouds are puffy pork rinds and rivers are melted boar bacon fat and sometimes the treetops are cotton candy but instead of sugar it's deconstructed bacon with maple syrup... I imagine I will call it ...Fatland. Where we celebrate Lovefatday. And swim in boar fat (which would really keep our skins supple) and bite bacon clouds.

I'm going to go back back under the covers now.

Sore bronchial tubes and hacking cough. Illness possible cause for wacky post. Long live Lord Lard!

Time to dish.

In honor of Lovefatday, I present you:

Lovingly wrapped Boar Bacon Sweet Potato Fries
Photo credit health bent. Edited by yours truly. Was too busy stuffing my face to take any. Fat!

Is it wrong of me to want to insert Angelina Jolie's leg in here ...#Iblametheilness

Here is what you need:

  • Boar bacon, thinly sliced
  • Sweet potatoes, cut into french fries, as thick or thin as you like them
  • Duck fat (what?! it's Lovefatday!)
  • Sea salt flakes
  • Tiny amount of finely ground lemon zest

Here is what to do:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425. Here we go. First, grate your lemon zest, about a half of a teaspoon, and mix it with the salt flakes. Then, render your duck fat in a frying pan and then let cool enough to be manageable but still liquid. Coat your sweet potatoes in this fatty glory and coat the bottom of your oven dish in it. Now, wrap each duck fat coated sweet potato fry, lovingly, in one thin slice of boar bacon, and lay them down nicely side by side. 
  2. Roast at 425 for about 15 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are "soft". Once thats done, turn on the broiler and crisp up that bacon! Keep an eye on it though.
  3. When they are done, take them out sprinkle the with the lemon sea salt flakes, and serve them with an amazing blue cheese dip. Which I will give you the recipe for. Soon.

Happy Lovefatday dear readers!
From Fatland.
Oana out.

Monday, February 27, 2012

In your face pig ...

Well, I never imagined I would be doing this but here I am. Sitting in my hairdressers chair, getting my hair done (what else would I be doing you ask, way to state the obvious you say, ahem...) Annie Lennox in the background and me tapping away at the keyboard, writing. How diva. All I am missing is my personal assistant...who by the way, should have told me that the farmers market in Val David was yesterday. That's right. Yesterday. And I completely missed it. But oh wait, I don't have a personal assistant. So I went. With big excited eyes, jumping up and down in my car seat. To an empty parking lot. With no one there, hence emptiness. Because the market was yesterday.

Dear readers, with all my hopes and might, I wished it untrue. 

Maybe they were inside!!!!! Maybe everybody walked!!!! Maybe the padlocks on the door were to keep people in!!! Maybe the lights are all of to preserve flavor!! Maybe there was absolutely nobody there because they were all on the other side of the building! Maybe there was nobody on the other side of the building (yes, I went) because they had all just decided to go around the other way (you know like when you are looking for someone and they are looking for you and you just keep missing each other, like that). Maybe ... maybe ... well... okay ... maybe it's closed...

And so it went dear readers. It was closed. There was no more denying it. I had run out of scenarios. I gave one, last, doleful look through the glass at the hollow emptiness inside, hunched my shoulders in an appropriate manner for such situations, and left. I was all torn up. Blue about my missing hog. And totally upset with my personal assistant (completely untrue as I don't have one)! By any means, I will be going back in March and guess who is not scheduling it for me ...

Anyhow, thus ends this particular tale, and after all this I bucked up, and went to eat crepes. With ham. In your face Gaspor.


Time to dish.

Not a Gaspor Porc recipe. An amazing Chicken Broth. In your face pig...

Ha! And amazing beautiful chicken from Jean-Pierre.

Here is what you need:

  • One whole happy chicken that has spent his/her life like a chicken should.
  • One leek
  • One onion
  • Shiitake mushrooms, about a handful
  • Asian dried dates, about a handful
  • Galangal, a piece about the size of your thumb
  • Ginkgo Biloba, about a cup, just ask your Asian grocer, they are like little yellow balls
  • Dried hot, whole chiles, as many as you can tolerate
  • Goji berries, about a quarter of a cup

Here is what to do:

  1. This is a whopper now, are you ready? Place all the ingredients, whole, into a giant stockpot and fill it up with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and let it be for about four hours. Serve the broth with the chicken meat, goji berries, dried (well not anymore) dates and the ginkgo biloba. Toss the rest of the ingredients out.

Dear readers, you will love it. It will cure whatever ails you and fill your souls with joy.

In your face pig.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Put the bag down ...

Big week dear readers and here I am checking in with you like the industrious person I am attempting to be. I am spending this week learning about black garlic, making cocoa pasta, talking to farmers and local tea growers about tea I would love to grow here,  hugging mushrooms, sketching packaging, planning my next couple of paintings and taking heaps of photos. 

Whoa. What's that you say? You would like a little more elaborating on the whole hugging mushrooms thing? Well I couldn't help myself!  I'll tell you. I'm not ashamed (well, maybe slightly). There I was just going about my business when suddenly there they were right under my nose. Huge bags of huge morels and chantrelles. Like the kind huge enough to stuff with meat. Before I knew what I was doing (who are we kidding, I knew exactly what I was doing) I just picked up the bagglanced lovingly at it,  inhaled lovely magical (but not literally) aromas and hugged the bag closely. Not to be forgotten, the chantrelles' olfactory pull lulled me in and I lovingly sniffed them and then, hugged the bag closely.

Then I realized people were looking at me.

Haahaahaa I chortled as if it was the most natural thing in the world to hug giant bags of mushrooms. Looking conspicuously from left to right I kept calm, put the bag down, well, calmly and just backed away slowly ...(soothing voice: nothing unnatural at all here...) all the while mentally flogging myself with there I go again hugging mushrooms! and who hugs mushrooms anyway?! and I literally just hugged a bag of morels! in public!... You know, I think I got a little sidetracked... wait, wait, it was you who asked about the mushrooms! Phew... sometimes I make myself wonder ...anyhow okay, what I wanted to tell you is that it is a big week because it is the first farmers market of the year! In Val David! And I'm going! To try sweet vanilla scented milk fed Yorkshire-Landrace suckling piglet! So excited (the irony that there is no exclamation point here is not lost on me). I can't wait to go and I can't wait to tell you about it.

In the meantime, forget you ever read this. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A tale of two lambs...part deux ...

Confession: I have been sitting here freaking out for the last twenty minutes. I totally lost my tales and lessons. It's true. They disappeared from my computer. Pouff. Like the sauce. And, it was such a ridiculous way to go. I copied my text, was ready to paste and then, my bleeping computer shut down! The only reason you are reading this now is because by some miracle I had not closed the blogger ap on my phone AND THE STORY WAS STILL OPEN ON MY PHONE! Thank you sweet saints and microchips (computers still run on those right?)!

For those of you who were not here with me yesterday, the story begins like this...

"It was the best of lambs, it was the worst of lambs, it was the fat on flesh, it was the lean on meat, it was the epoch of marbled fatty glory, it was the epoch of not one ounce, it was the season of spring, it was the season of winter, it was the spring of hope for a perfectly roasted leg, it was the winter of despair over disappearing sauce, we had everything before us, we had...well...everything still before us (I got nothing here, the tables were both full of magnificent food), we were all going to direct fatty lamb heaven, we were all going direct (I so fought the urge to write directly. I did. directly) the other way, the lean way.

There was no king with a large jaw or queen with a plain face but there was a kosher lamb with a large bone and lots of nice marbling on the throne (well, platter actually) of our royal home, there was an organic lamb with plain, unmarbled meat on the throne (well, platter actually) of our royal chalet. In both places it was clearer than crystal to the lords (well, us, but we can be lords, and ladies, of course) of the homes and chalets (to be honest I think it was just me but whatever) that things in general were settled for ever (forever!).

Pardon? say you? What in the heck am I talking about? you ask?

Well, I have a tale of two lambs. I have a lesson learned.

And what say you are these tales and lessons? Well, don't hate me but I'll tell you tomorrow. Okay? Tomorrow! I swear!  ..."

Which brings us to today.

And to a tale of the first:

A short story, in a slightly warmer (only slightly, like five degrees or so) time, the sun had set and we were all sitting around a table (surprise, I know) merry and boisterous. Wine was flowing, fat was, well, also flowing but being absorbed by previously mentioned free flowing wine so all was right in the bellies of babes. I ask you now, to imagine yourself innocently preparing your salad in the kitchen, smiling at the laughter you can hear coming from the other room, thinking how lovely and civilized it all is, when all of a sudden you hear what sounds suspiciously like tribal chanting. Intrigued, you come out of said kitchen, with said salad in hand, to the following scenario: your very carnivorous (except for one highly amused vegetarian) lovely guests, sitting around the table with glinting bloodlust in their eyes, fists pumping in the air and chanting: Pilo! Pilo! Pilo! Turn to your left and you will see see Pilo, still not quite converted to complete caveman perilously teetering on the edge of am I really going to rip my bare teeth into this meat? ...Then all of a sudden, just as civilized reason is starting to win and Pilo's hand is inching down comes: Do it for the blog!! Pilo! Do it for the blog!! And so dear readers, as these things go, that is all the convincing he needs and Pilo's chance of remaining city human vanishes. Laughter bellows from the crowd and in one fluid swoop, Pilo picks up the whole leg, ravenously mashes face to meat, rips off a piece and I tell you my dear friends, it is a thing of beauty. The crowd roars! The fists pump! Pilo! Pilo! 

Notice the stance ...
And then, the most amazing thing happens ...the shank is passed! First to the other wild eyed men, Frid! Frid! Frid! then Dinny! Dinny! Dinny! and Axil! Axil! Axil! (okay, I do admit, this one might be a bit obvious ... might.) each one biting and pulling at the meat with bare teeth, grinning and leering at the meat like they shouldn't be ...but wait, dear readers, it get's better... Not willing to be outdone, the women also have their turn. So, all in all, here we have it friends have just delightedly witnessed caveman behavior right in your very own home. Otherwise quite normal, quite polite young adults turned savages by simple fatty succulent lamb leg glorious meat. The lamb end. Lamb.

Photos have been darkened to preserve dignity ...

A tale of the second:

A very short slightly fragmented, perhaps rambly with a possible curt end story in a slightly colder (only slightly) time. Up north nestled in a magnificent chalet, were thirteen lovely people (us, totally lovely us) five hours into a memorable, veritable New Year's feast. Artisan cheeses formed abundant mounds, pates burst out of their ramekins, breads lasciviously displayed themselves in baskets, cinnamon and sage scented sweet potatoes beckoned passers by, green and black olives lived harmoniously in one plate, brown butter parsnips pleased palates (ahaaaa

That, was when the sauce disappeared. 

It was the horrible scent of charring meat that alerted us. So we followed the nose (always trust the nose, the nose knows - ahaaaa another good one yes?) and immediately went to the oven. The sauce dear readers, was completely gone. Literally. Vanished. Pouff. Into thin air. Before my very eyes. Now the day before I had purchased a lovely lamb leg from a small organic farm in Eastern Quebec (well I actually purchased it from the butcher but they purchased it from a small organic farm in Eastern Quebec, from Steve, I'm making the Steve part up, but not the rest) it looked beautiful. I was super excited so you can imagine how said sauce disappearing incident was really freaking not good! Ahem. So there we stood, oven mitts on, puzzled and pissed. What was a girl to do other than take out the leg mid way (I totally took it out with my oven mitts on) and wash the pan mid way, then, well, put it back in, drizzle with fat and curse the lean gods. Which we did. (Not to worry! all was good in the end! see below text between the **'s)

A lesson learned:

All lunacy aside dear readers, lamb needs fat. Ours was too lean and there was nothing no fat to bind the sauce. When you buy, if you are going to a new butcher, ask them if the lamb they are selling you is their usual stock, if so does it have enough fat or does it need reinforcement? If it is not their usual stock, ask if it has been checked for leanness and if so how it compares and again, do you need to reinforce it. If you have a leg that is more lean than usual there are several ways to reinforce it. You can top the leg with slices of boar bacon (my favorite), you can cut little pieces into the bone and actually place chunks of lamb/pig/lard fat into the meat or, if you are feeling a little nutty, go ahead and baste your leg regularly in duck fat. Fat fat fat

**names have been changed to avoid incrimination**
**contrary to the title (I took creative liberty) the second lamb was far from "worst" it was lovely. lean lovely.** 


Time to dish.

Lamb (fat fat fat) leg with white wine & juniper berries

Here is what you need:

  • 3 garlic cloves , crushed
  • rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns , crushed
  • 3 juniper berries , crushed
  • olive oil
  • 1 whole leg of fatty awesome lamb 
  • white wine for the marinade and for the sauce
  • zest of one lemon

Here is what to do:

  1. 375 on!. Now, combine the garlic, white wine, rosemary, peppercorns and juniper together with enough olive oil to make a paste. Then rub it all over your lovely lamb and marinade overnight. Take it out the following day and let it come to room temperature.
  2. Into the pan it goes to roast for about 1 hr 45 mins. Resting time. Let your baby snooze wrapped in foil for at least 30 mins. This will give you lamb that is still slightly pink in the middle. 
  3. Now, pour off as much fat from the pan as you can, then place the pan on a direct heat, scraping all the awesome  bits. Pour in the wine, up to a boil and reduce scraping the pan with a wooden spoon. When ready, smother your lamb in it.

Phfew. I'm totally done.