So I just got back from a whirlwind tour of Europe, centered in lovely London, UK. Fortunately England is surrounded by ocean and has a history with its seafood (even if it’s in the form of fish and chips). In most places that care enough to buy quality produce, the fish is (to use their adjective) brilliant. Nowhere did I notice more of a difference in flavor than in the humble oyster, that magical, slimy, strangely sexual mollusk enjoyed on the half shell by so many gourmands and adventurous eaters worldwide. Over probably fifteen visits to my favorite farmer’s/food market in London, Borough, I probably ate 30-40 oysters, always locally caught and slurped down with eyes on my next prize at the bounteous smorgasbord that was the market. This shouldn’t detract from the oyster itself, however, because when I came back to the US and ordered some oysters (a few from Whole Foods and one from a vaguely authentic seafood joint in my town) I had experiences that left me wanting, to say the least.
Here’s the rundown: Oysters in London, in my limited experience, taste salty and wet, like everything good about the ocean. The brine and silkiness match perfectly and seasonings of black pepper, vinegar sauce, lemon, and hot sauce complement a truly spectacular salt-water tinged experience.
The oysters I had in New York had to be, I hope, out of season. Yes they looked and felt like oysters, but the salt and metallic flavors that so defined my oyster experience abroad were nonexistent. Only the horseradish and (overpowering) hot sauce were consolations for an ultimately bland experience.
I’m of course no expert in oysterology and I’ve only tasted a few types of oysters in my time, so for now London is the horse I’m pulling for but further experimentation is obviously necessary.
Making pasta from scratch is the freaking best, and really easy when you have a pasta roller. Let me stress this point, when you don’t have one the rolling process is a pain in the ass (though not impossible). To make any pasta you need a basic ratio of about 1.5 cups of flour (I used half semolina and half bread flour) to 2 large eggs, add a tablespoon of water and a little olive oil if they’re not large.
Start by blanching the peas, about half a cup shelled, in salted boiling water for about 15 seconds and then dropping them into an ice bath. They’ll have a much greener color than when you started, this is what you’re looking for. Blend these with whatever wet ingredients you’re working with and set aside.
Mix together the flour and about a teaspoon of salt then gradually incorporate the wet ingredients by making a well in the flour mixture and pouring already beaten eggs and peas into it. Work this into a ball and knead for about 10 minutes, the texture of the dough will change noticeably. Wrap the dough ball in plastic and let it sit for about 20-30 minutes for the flour to saturate, then run the dough through the pasta roller however you see fit. You could also roll it out to make a sheet for lasagne or some type of filled pasta, like ravioli. I’m thinking about making a chicken liver ravioli with some split pea or other green vegetable pasta shell.
Boil your fresh pasta immediately or freeze/dry it. It will cook a lot faster than store-bought dried pasta since it’s already properly hydrated. Really, the difference is astounding. I prepared this dish with a little lemon butter, some red-veined sorrel (great bitter lemon flavor) and chopped dill and parsley. Really fresh, spring-ey, green, and delicious.
The NY Times has an article today about genetically modified salmon that grow twice as fast as naturally occurring salmon because of a modification that forces growth hormone production during the winter, when salmon usually stop growing for the season. The FDA is currently deciding if the salmon should be sold for food, and if so, how they should be labelled.
It looks like this might be this season’s return of Summer Foodie, but I may be changing the name to something a little less season-specific. Who wants to cook only in the summer? I was in London for five months this semester and the only kitchen available to me was one of those microwave-single burner combos that allow you to cook pretty much nothing. So what did I do? I sat and ate and waited until I could return to my kitchen in the US and go absolutely crazy cooking some of the most random and ultimately delicious concoctions I could think up. Starting today, they’ll all be on here, as long as I can take a picture before they’re eaten or thrown in the garbage/compost with disgust. I’m also going to import some of the food-related posts that I wrote for a travel blog while globetrotting recently. Lots of pictures but little cooking ultimately. Oh well, I got to eat at some amazing restaurants and a few of Europe’s great food cultures. More to come on that. All that introductory stuff being said…let’s do this.
The kimchi is sufficiently pickled/fermented and tastes like, well kimchi. It’s a little less preserved tasting than the stuff you might eat in a Korean restaurant and thus probably not “authentic,” but certainly a worthwhile endeavor and one I will enjoy eating. So far I’ve only opened the less spicy of the two that I made and the spice is barely noticeable, can’t wait for the really spicy one.
I know, I know, I haven’t posted in a ridiculously long time and the summer’s winding down and what will the Summer Foodie be without the summer? I’m sure it will continue into the fall and onward, as my co-writer Tyler and I will be living and cooking together at school.
This past weekend I did my first catering job. It was for a friend’s father’s birthday and the event was pretty low-key, but being my first such gig I was anxious and hopeful that my creations would be well-received. Continue reading
The perfect sandwich bread.
Do you like sandwiches? I know that I do. Do you know why? Because I am a fucking human being, that’s why. People and sandwiches have been getting along for a long time, and in a deep way. If you don’t enjoy sandwiches, you might consider the likely possibility that you are not a human being. They’re fast, convenient, ubiquitous, and come in countless forms. So what’s not to like? This post will be the first of two on the topic of sandwiches. I mean this as a tribute to the ultimate everyman food, and a humble attempt to master it. Here’s to sandwiches! Continue reading