La Terrine de Saumon Sauvage et Corégone des Grand Lacs Wednesday, May 23 2012 

 Wild Salmon Terrine and Inlay of Great Lakes Whitefish. 

Gravad-laks and Vermouth Aspic.

Circle smirk.

T’is the season, for anadromous salmonidae.  Wild specimens from Alaska, pretty much the only place where the fisheries are well managed and there are abundant numbers.  Not to be confused with novelist heartthrob and Islamic human bulls-eye Salman Rushdie that was allowed access to Padma Lakshmi’s genitals for the better part of 3 years.

In laying a Salman. (Lucky bastard)

Despite the nutritive omegachron fattie acid health claims or whatever associated with wild salmon, the terrine is about 80% Trickling Springs heavy cream with even heavier cream on top.  Have to give it the glass ketchup bottle slap treatment just to get the stuffout.   Actually, it is exactly 80% cream by weight of the salmon, though half of it is whipped, therefore lighter than an angel on marshmallow.  And 10% puréed onions cooked in rich creamery butter.   Bit of bread.  Some booze as well.  A couple eggs white too, which is what bodybuilders eat.

Fishy eclipse.

Fragile Great Lakes (not sure which one) whitefish was ground twice and blended with 80% cream as well bringing the terrine’s heavy cream content to a respectable 160%.  A pie chart in 3 or maybe 4 dimensions is required to show the cream proportions.  That is just how slammin’ this salmon terrine is.  Whitefish was tricked out with some Old Bay seasoning, lemon zest and magically inserted into the terrine with the use of science and modern-day refrigeration.  What’s more, some center cut salmon was lightly cured and crusted with fennel seed, dill, mustard seeds and lemon zest.  Thinly sliced parallel to the bloodline with absolute Zen, the slices were embedded in savory vermouth-flavored aspic.  Fish & aspic, together as last.  Should I have Muppet twins, those will be their names.

Garnished with smoked steelhead trout roe as an alternative to fleur de sel, the terrine was well received.  Properly seasoned, neither gritty nor fishy, and visually quite appealing.  Bread helped to lighten the affair and a recent reincarnation will be speckled with capers, pickled red onion and shingled with cherriette radishes.

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Pâté de Porc et Veau Rose: Édition Spéciale Amandes et Cassis au Gin Tuesday, Apr 24 2012 

Bershire Pork and Randall-Lineback Veal Pâté:

Special Marcona Almond

and Gin-Soaked Currants Edition.

Sane in the membrane.

Berkshire pork and Randall-Lineback rose veal from Joe Henderson’s Chapel Hill Farm out in Berryville, VA.  A garnish of corned veal tongue, confit heart, paper-clips, smoked pork belly, toasted Marcona almonds and blackcurrants soaked in gin.  Tucked in with caul fat, toasted almond slivers and some more currants, drizzle of olive oilizzle.  Sadly, the caul fat busted in the oven, the result of a dozen or so superfluous magic minutes, so no pictures.  Use your imagination if this revelatory food-stuffs diary hasn’t turned your brain into shit.  Tastes good though.  Probe thermometer with a 200ft range remote alarm has been purchased and will alert me to the proper doneness when I am buying cigarettes, pornography and liquor next door for the kids down the street.

Le Pâté en Croûte: Édition Spéciale Pistaches et Abricots. Saturday, Mar 31 2012 

Pâté en Croûte:

Special Pistachio and Apricot Edition.

Râte my Croûte.

Berkshire pork (Craig Hagaman’s, from High View Farm; Berryville, VA)  some dry-aged Randall Lineback, its tongue, heart, some pistachios and dried apricots soaked in liquor with peppercorns and brandy.  Madeira aspic.  Damn fine pâté.  Sold the whole thing within 48 hours.  The lid’s integrity was maintained by turning off the fan in the convection oven, which was otherwise causing the forcemeat to swell and blow the top loose allowing the aspic to ooze out, which is not good, and requires anxious applications of butter spackle.

Petal power.

Tasted very good.  Lean, aged,  rose veal, wholesome pork, aromatic booze, unctuousness from cream and spice seasoning reminiscent of a firm handshake. Apricots invigorated the savory pageant with sweet, boozy applause while peppercorns whistle the parade back in line. Formidably rich farce à gratin (chicken liver, duck fat, mushrooms, onion, brandy, orange zest) dutifully replaces the humdrum raw liver binding agent which instead can best be applied to liver pâté and Leverpostej (Danish liver pâté seasoned with salted anchovies).

Roof is being raised a little less, to good effect.

Le Pâté en Croûte: Édition Spéciale Canard et Cerises Sèches. Tuesday, Mar 6 2012 

Pâté en Croûte: Special Duck and Dried Sour Cherries Edtion.

Pretty feathery pastry.

Some duck marinated in Sailor Jerry rum.  Damn fine rum.  Nice & spicy.  Then a nod to Neil Diamond’s fruit of choice.  Farce a gratin (chicken livers marinated in brandy, shallots, duck fat), pork (30% of the weight of the duck), confit gizzards, fatback, pistachios and some warm spices.  No structural breaches and the most recent pastry proportions provided noteworthy savor and palatabilitinessness.  A worthwhile endeavor.  It’s be even more worthwhile is someone bought any of the damned stuff rather than gazing mouth agape at the meat case as if it were some sort of kooky dead animal exhibit at the zoo.

Doing what Pablo Neruda wants me to do with cherries in preparation for spring, I think.

Plenty of similar cooked charcuterie offerings available, in addition to raw sausages and a wide variety of cuts from all animals.

Le Pâté de Pork; Édition Spéciale Rosace Trivial Poursuite Monday, Jan 30 2012 

Pork Pâté, Special inlaid Trivial Pursuit Rose Petal Edition

Rose colored forcemeat.

While in France, when not seeing naked ladies dance I saw remarkable pictures of inlaid pâté and heard stories of even more remarkable ones. To wit, a clock themed meatloaf whose slice face showed the hands of a clock which moved after each slice. Yeah, I know, right?!. Ever desperate to break through the forcemeat elite, a modest “rosace” (best translated as rose-petal shape) was devised. Not easy. With the help of a protractor, T-square, computer, nudity and laser, a mold was fabricated to hold the colored liver farce-fine wrapped in painstakingly hand sliced fatback frozen into shape. Cubic Zaffronia (turmeric) and paprika fortified the colors. An erudite eagle-eyed friend indicated the uncanny resemblance to nerdy pie pieces of a Trivial Pursuit  game. Hmmm, pie.

History hat trick

Nothing worthy of the Grand Prix de France, but a respectable inaugural effort.  Whole bunch of stuff in there.  Heart, tongue, liver, fatback, and the petals wrapped in a liver forcemeat. In other news, many of these documented fabrications can be sampled and purchased at Society Fair in Alexandria, VA where I tend the butcher’s counter in the evenings and all day on weekends. Cooked charcuterie and proteins (dry aged when applicable) cut to order. Properly trussed poultry, barded roasts, French butcher’s cuts and boneless lamb centerpieces. Randall Lineback beef, boneless stuffed Beaver Creek Quail, pâté en croûte, saucisson à l’ail, pork liver pâté and such and such.

Le Pâté en Croûte : Édition Spéciale Coings Thursday, Jan 12 2012 

Pâté en Croûte : Special Quince Edition

Procession to the wailing wall of cured meat.

Tis the season for forgotten fruit cousins of apples and pears which are virtually inedible raw but when placed in a sock is a practical alternative to more useful soap when applied to bludgeoning a dopey donut craving liability. Afterwards, they can be fed to the elderly for absolute hilarity.

Envince the quince

As per the usual, the quince were prepared by carving them into segments and slowly braising in a 3/1 water/sugar syrup jazzed up with rosemary, clove, lust and pride. As they cook, the quince turn pink and then ruby red as a result of the tannins which help to create anthocyanin pigments and a consequence of all your past profanity. And lies.

Eden’s forbidden meatloaf

The organic pork shoulder, heart, tongue and liver came from a conscientiously raised Berkshire pig which called High View Farm in Berryville, Virginia home. The heart was cured and confit in lard whereas the tongue was brined and simmered. A farce fine was made with the liver and thrice ground pork. After being puréed smooth a diced garnish of tongue, heart, quince, fatback and loin was mixed to the farce along with spices, salt, #1 and such. Naturally, the pork was marinated in booze, olive oil and aromatics for a week prior to processing.

Convincing quincing

A new pastry recipe was developed based on some research from the World Pâté Croûte Championship (this fall’s stage took place at Gilles Verot who honorably placed second). Seeking a krustyier though austere pastry  lard represents 70% of the fat while some of the flour percentage is replaced by cornstarch which helps to make a smoother dough.

conglomermeat

To highlight and represent the overlooked fruit encased within, quince and leaves were delicately carved then adorned on the roof much like your average consumer Joe-Christmas puts jingly crap all over his roof for the holidays.  After a deep rubdown of egg wash the thing was baked, left to cool slightly and delightfully filled with port aspic -no leaks.

Savory fresco.

There were few if any faults in this edition. The pastry was firm, savory and a pleasure to eat, though it could have cooked slightly more on the side juxtaposing the forcemeat. The forcemeat was complex, though tender and well seasoned. Spice and booze from the marinade was noticeable and the variety of textures/flavors offered by the heart, tongue, ham, fatback and quince were nothing short of satisfying. Future editions might include an inlay of quince paste.

Édition Spéciale Marché Gris: Viandes et Provisions Vaut la Peine. Monday, Jul 18 2011 

Special Grey Market Vendor Edition:

Worthwhile Meats & Provisions

Worth mine and your while.

Under the storefront nom de plume of Worthwhile Meats & Provisions, wares within this repertoire were placed for sale at the 3rd DC Grey Market in an effort to showcase the confident breadth of basement kitchen derring-do as well as gauge public demand and tastes.  Products were smoked wild king and sockeye salmon (18 ounces of each), boudin  blanc d’Avranches (24 links), leafy greens sausage (36 links), pâté en croûte (48 ounce pâté) and cauliflower agnolotti (150 pieces).  Epicurean bric-a-brac was not for sale, though complimentary tomatoes and pickles were well received along with the products.

You should see my lemonade stand.

All were sold within 3 hours with the help of a lovely assistant’s handsome signage and personable hawking talent; an indispensable asset to any would be vendor. Sales covered all shopping costs and fees, leaving just less than $40 to compensate 2 weeks worth of late night work.  Portion sizes were respectable (3, 4, 10 and 15 ounces for salmon, pâté, boudin and sausage) and modestly priced at $3, $4, $7, $7 respectively as well as $1 an ounce for the agnolotti which helped to ensure that the items would not be prohibitively expensive.

The better kind of “sell out”.

The Grey Market provided an excellent opportunity and barometer of sorts for budding entrepreneurs to test the viability of they hobbies, passions, visions, etc…despite the somewhat remote location, awkward  placement of vendor tents and little to no advertising (contrary to the 1st and 2nd markets) –the last 2 liabilities resting squarely on the frumpy, strung-out shoulders of the untrustworthy promoter whose aggrandizing self titled culinary rank (the hallmark of kitchen insecurity) was hopelessly dubious and confirmed by the tasteless choice of chili pepper motif shorts.  Exhaustive intertron research has failed to produce any real meat & potatoes credentials relating to the alleged 2 decades of success, much less any evidence of culinary bona fides.

WorthWhile Meats & Provisions can be reached at worthwhilemeats@gmail.com

ETA:  The Washington Post food editor deemed my wares and ambitions worthy of front page ink.  Still, there remain skeptics whose pretzel logic concerning food safety illuminates the hopeless depths of their ignorance with respect to food safety and the effects of inspections/regulations.  For those, consider the FDA recall list from FDA-regulated products.  Then consider how many home kitchens are inspected and whether such cynics have ever been sickened from eating a meal prepared from an unlicensed kitchen in the form of breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, dinner party, birthday party, Thanksgiving, Christmas, bbq, picnic, etc…and whether or not they were concerned about food borne illnesses.  The paranoid fantasy is hyperbolic and unfounded.  It suggests that a price tag is enough to contaminate.

While my personal home kitchen is not officially licensed, it is sanitary, empty for 12-16 hours a day and does not have more than 2 hands or feet in it at any time.  15 years culinary experience, a formality food handler’s license, common sense and the desire to replicate a savory, worthwhile product trumps the hallow assurance that industrial facilities or restaurants are guaranteed to prevent illness by virtue of  occasional health inspections, biannual at best for latter that do not immediately require changes for 100% compliance with food safety codes.


Pâté en croûte d’anniversaire; Édition spéciale jour de naissance Tuesday, Jul 12 2011 

Anniversary pâté en croûte;  Special birthday edition.

When this bun came out of the oven.

Happy birthday to me.  No real surprises in this production.  Another exercise in a series of fabrications benefiting the fabrication of a legitimate pâté en croûte which is structurally, texturally, tastefully and aesthetically sound. Measurements in the pastry have been slightly altered (60/40 butter/lard) and recorded as have the forcemeat participants to ensure a consistent fill without excessive surplus.  Forcemeat components were raw cured shoulder, pistachios, fatback, currants and tongue.  Future filling tests will have the raw shoulder replaced with cooked ham.  Pork and chicken livers marinated in brandy and port along with aromatics bound all the stuff together after being partially frozen, ground twice (meat and fat separately so that the fat doesn’t smear or melt) and puréed –but not too long as an extended stay in the whirly blades incorporates too much air and lightens the color.

Forcemeat genesis.

Stenciling the date into the pastry lid involved several delicate dances of draftsmanship before an efficient routine could produce crisp, evenly spaced numbers.  A proper cutting instrument was essential for the surgical incisions as was the temperature of the doughy patient.  Warm dough is virtually impossible to cut with any precision.

Save the date and incise it.

For some reason the forcemeat did not shrink much and left little to no gap between the lid for the aspic.  No birthday shrinkage.  How about that?  Needless to say, what little  aspic made it through the numerical chimneys was sturdy and flavorful as far as savory port flavored Jell-O goes.  Pastry was enjoyable and similar to past episodes though it eventually softens and is not as crisp as the purported hot water crust meat pies from theUK.  Hot water pastry needs to be worked before it cools but is alleged to yield a firm crust (insert that’s what ___ said).  Prototypes will be experimented with shortly, perhaps in a less sophomoric manner.  And a special kudos to the dearest sister for the trademark slideshow.

Another C-section, 37 years later.

Galantine de Volaille: Edition Spéciale “ma sœur me manque ; diagrammes de Venn par l’intermédiaire de « Joie de Vivre », de Robert Delaunay”. Thursday, Jun 16 2011 

Chicken Galantine: 

Special “I miss my sister; Venn diagrams channeled through

Robert Delaunay’s “Joie de Vivre” edition”.

Frankie Purdue’s electric acid and aspic preservation society.

Not since Sir Sidney Poitier’s critically acclaimed 1980 dramatic psychological thriller “Stir Crazy”, has a bird suit made such a satisfying impact on a beer & sausage buzzed audience. Conceived as homage to a beloved sister’s visit, and executed with antique culinary showmanship, the occasion provided an opportunity to challenge the deceptively handsome, technically demanding variety of galantine de volaille en chaud-froid.

John McEnroe experienced the same daunting rivalry on a conceptual English putting green in the late 1970’s against prodigal heart-throb fashion doll Björn Borg.  As with any other seemingly dreamy, follicular tête à tête sporting snug 3” inseams and terrycloth headbands, tempers are likely to flare, more so when the senior competitor’s enviable golden locks, soothing turquoise eyes and frighteningly consistent strokes stoke the coals of a defeated tantrum.

Cool has been lost on several occasions, when firm temperament put the motherfucking kibosh on the occasional shittiest pastry and aspic known to humanity.  However, failures gradually shifted towards winnings, the equilibrium payoff of improved theory & practice, eventually ensuring results well within the margins of success, awesomeness and horny girls’ adoration column.  A veritable cootie-catcher of inevitable victory permutations, though a winningest champion who has built an epic career trademarked by sang-froid and imperviousness to stress will have  a melt-down for the fans when absolute perfection is not achieved, affirming that even a master craftsman invariably blames his tools.

Green Gene, mean sausage machine.

Sister was in town for a brief visit from Notsofunnyland and nothing more than the be all end all of hopelessly dated grandiose E-coli-free chicken whimsy would fit the bill for making her visit worthwhile (fostering Mr. Cuddlesworth  notwithstanding), though mustard green sausages were an enticing opening act.

A chicken only agents Mulder & Scully and Gonzo the Great could love.

Chicken was obtained from a reputablish Latin grocer in exchange for currency and a genuine appreciation for meringue music.  Extremities were lopped off, the skeleton ripped out with a forceful hand à la Predator, stock made with said bones, bla-bla-bla, same ol’ song and dance.  Eviscerated bird was brined in a 3% salt brine (1.5%  sugar, aromatics).

Fowl bondage.

Forcemeat was made from pork, chicken trimmings, its offal, fatback, pistachios, figs, foie gras & truffle mousse scraps, Muppet tenderloins, Dutch Guilders, and a rose of a different name.  Pork and chicken trimming were ground twice and supplemented by an egg puréed with the bird’s liver.  Seasoning and curing salt was measured by the weight of the forcemeat and its garnishes using a sextant, just like Shackleton did on his way to South Georgia island fromElephant  Island.  No small feat, especially in a windowless basement.

Crop-circle chicken upholstery.

After stuffing and trussing the creature, it was launched into the stockpot (gooseneck –fade away) and left to simmer until the inside reached 160ºF.  Took a long time.  Didn’t want to boil too hard as I was afraid the skin and remaining bones (wings and drumsticks) would fall apart.  It was left to cool in the stock and then refrigerated while the chaud-froid was fabricated.  A white roux was cooked, heated stock whisked in, gelatin added, strained, cooled, tasted and tested for strength.  After an extreme (look out, Dan Cortese) coating of chaud-froid, excesses and cosmetic imperfections were melted away with extremely gentle wafts of heat from a butane torch.  And of course the ubiquitous fluted mushrooms, whittled turnips and brightly glazed radishes.

Court-side with Stanley Kubrick. (nice booties, blondie)

Sister has an affinity for Venn diagrams, an appreciation of which would inspire the decoration.  The brightest natural colors and workable textures are extracted from bell peppers.  The pepper are carefully selected by shaking them like maracas to see if they have any loose change in them, boiled, peeled and cut to specifications, in this case a variety of overlapping circles which would also, coincidentally, suggest the “joie de vivre” painting by French abstract artist Robert Delaunay, whose nationality we all share (with tremendous, fiery enthusiasm).  Look too close and you might get hypnotized and crap sideways for a week.  Seriously.

Inedible abstract joy of living.

After attentively adorning the critter with deliberately alternative, meticulously cut anit-Mondrian  colored discs, the thing was given a proper shellacking of aspic followed by the butane torch once-over to smooth out any unsightly bulges.

Dissecting the game.

Overall, the chaud-froid could have used more salt and the forcemeat could have benefited from more aggressive cooking.  Slow cookery may have made the forcemeat mealy rather than firm, giving it a somewhat unpleasant texture.  The chicken itself was delightful as far as poached chicken goes.  While not a championship win in straight sets, it was a respectable qualifying endeavor.  Notes have been taken and the tapes have been studied.  Training is under way for summer’s 2.0 galantine; special argyle rainbow chard edition.

Édition Spécial Heraldique District de Columbia No. 2 Monday, May 16 2011 

Pâté en Croûte.

Special At-Large 2.0 DC heraldry Edition.

Pork barrel degustation

Commissioned and cheerfully donated to a Bryan Weaver At-Large campaign party, and a follow-up to the inaugural DC heraldry edition.

Stately pastry

The endeavor failed to sway votes but allegedly swooned attentive eyes and registered palates. Coincidentally, Mr. Weaver was in attendance at an Easter party and following an introduction as the progenitor of the jingoistic meatloaf, pictures corroborating his alleged enthusiasm for the creation were shown. A doughy, half-baked plan was kneaded, the filling of which was to raise Mr. Weaver’s profile by staging an abduction and sequestering him in a Mt. Pleasant villa. Spanish television in the background of all telephone conversations would complete the Central American kidnapping ruse. The sleeper agent at the party was to have been provoked into seizing the candidate by a singular pickled shishisto pepper flavored jelly bean, but after having ingested a multitude of tutti-fruity jellied beans necessary to maintain appearance of legitimate mingling, the agent’s palate was muddled, incapable of distinguishing root beer jelly beans from keg beer and the plan had to be aborted.

The Flavoring Candidates

The meatloaf campaign was similar to past efforts with proportions of garnish (fatback, pistachio, figs) based on 1/3 of the weight  of the forcemeat which was comprised of pork marinated in brandy and port, then supplemented by chicken livers and a foie gras & truffle mousse which had been idling in the fridge for the better part of the Obama administration. As an added bonus, an inlay of cured pork ran through the middle.

Federal Jambox

In its raw state, the pâté was remarkably stately, albeit with a mid 1980’s boom-box allure.  After a repose in the heat (as any observer of the prolonged effects of sunbathing and gravity can corroborate), there was a little bit of sagging. The drooping consequences evoked either smarmy little bastard Stewie Griffin or brainy rolling robot Johnny No. 5.

Victory is mine. (Weaver’s will have to wait).

Coloring the aspic red in a thrifty manner proved to be a considerable challenge given the home bar’s absence of grenadine, the tremendously bitter properties of annatto and burgundy results of red beets. In the end, a heavy hand of red food dye squeezed from a sizeable stone would have to suffice.

Red #40 alive.

Excess forcemeat was cooked in a small terrine and sampled in accordance with the terms of epicurean accountability. The forcemeat was moist, smooth, tender, properly seasoned and offered hints of the brandy in which it marinated. Sadly, there is no documentation of the pâtés interior and concerns about an uneven distribution of the aspic linger. However, Mr. Weaver’s lively presence a fortnight later on the eve of the election was evidence of the pâté’s gustatory success, though it surely can not be blamed for his unfortunate loss.  At the very least it deserves to be in good company with state dinners and other notable political dinner roasts.

Meat Party demographics.

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