Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

A day’s report

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Much productive running about on an overcast (but not raining) day. No walk, but 4000 steps just doing things.

Hearing aids: Lewis at Oak Bay Hearing Clinic pumped up the volume on my hearing aids. (The Wife and I had noticed my increasing use of “Say again.”) This meant: a hearing test, a programming change to the hearing aids regarding the relative amplification of different frequencies, and more powerful (though still tiny) speakers to fit into my ears. The difference is already noticeable, and it was a bargain at CAD$240 ($95 hearing test, $100 for the new speakers ($50/ear), and $45 for the reprogramming). Just to give you an idea of what you will someday face.

Then shopping: Farm & Field for a chuck roast (to be cut into tiny pieces for chili), a pork belly round to roast (on parchment paper: I learned my lesson), and three pieces braised pork belly (to be heated on parchment paper).

Then I got some pitted Greek brine-cured olives for the Umbrian Chicken Alla Cacciatora I plan to make on Sunday (recipe below). That was a Whole Foods stop, and at my regular supermarket I picked up the rest of the chilli ingredients along with two 8-oz steelhead fillets for tonight. I did get some fuyu persimmons (zero points).

So altogether a good day.

Umbrian-Style Chicken Alla Cacciatora

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
3 lbs (approx) boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks

1 onion, cut in half vertically and sliced

6 to 8 cloves garlic, very finely minced
1 1/2 tablespoon capers
1/2 cup brine-cured olives, black and green, with pits or pitted
2 sprigs rosemary
1 handful sage leaves, chopped
Salt and black pepper

1 cup dry white wine

Zest and juice of 1-2 lemons
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

One family pack of boneless, skinless chicken thighs is about 3 lbs, which is what I use. Or use 5 bone-in, skin-on thighs. And now I’m using boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into chunks.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in my large sauté pan. Add chicken pieces and sear over medium heat until golden on all sides, about 15 minutes.

Turn heat to low, add remaining 1 teaspoon oil, and add onions. Cook, stirring frequently until onions caramelize, about 15 minutes. Stuff will stick to the bottom, but will be deglazed later with the wine.

Add minced garlic, capers, olives, rosemary sprigs, and chopped sage leaves. Season with salt and black pepper.

After a couple of minutes, when everything smells fragrant, add wine. Scrape bottom of pan to incorporate all the browned bits.

Cover and simmer very slowly until the chicken is tender and cooked through (165 degrees), about 15 minutes. Add water if the sauce gets too dry while simmering.

When ready to serve, reheat if necessary, then add lemon juice and zest and balsamic vinegar. Taste and add more lemon if desired. Remove the rosemary sprig and serve. Would be wonderful over rice if I ate starch.

Recipe originator: Yes, do cook the chicken with the onions: the chicken absorbs the flavor of the aromatics. Also, do use olive with pits because of the woody flavor the pits add.

The original can be found on the NY Times Cooking site if you pay enough.


Written by LeisureGuy

15 November 2018 at 7:05 pm

Continuing our exploration of BC alcohol: Odd Society Bittersweet Vermouth

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Many fail to develop a taste for the bitter, thus restricting the palette of their lives. Bitter is quite a good flavor that fits a particular niche, and bitter foods are not hard to find—dandelion greens, for example, or bitter melon, excellent in stir-fry. Radicchio, chicory, arugula, endive—all bitter, and the better for it.

Odd Society Bittersweet Vermouth is bitter (as well as sweet: two different sets of taste buds), and it makes a very interesting pre-meal cocktail. Odd Society describes it thusly:

Bittersweet Vermouth

An Old Italian Recipe Rediscovered And Reimagined

Odd Society Bittersweet Vermouth is the perfect union of our commitment to ingenuity in the face of our reverence for tradition. It’s a contradictory blend that yields both the bitter and the sweet, just like a life well lived.

Based on an old Italian sweet vermouth recipe found in an antique notebook, this reimagination combines 25 botanicals and fine BC wine fortified with our malted barley spirit.

Our Bittersweet Vermouth is unique, yet timeless. Its rich and intense flavours will add a subtle complexity to your favourite cocktails or stand alone as a strong apéritif. Cin Cin!

I’m having it in a Manhattan on the rocks with Lot 40 rye and Angostura bitters. No fruit.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 November 2018 at 4:46 pm

Posted in Drinks

Fascinating: The Radical Pie That Fueled a Nation

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Rossi Anastapoulo writes in Taste:

The bean pie is sweet, custard-like, and a foundationally humble foodstuff. It’s also a culinary icon of the controversial Nation of Islam and of revolutionary black power.

he bean pie’s basic ingredients are simple: navy beans, sugar, eggs, milk, some warming spices, and a whole-wheat crust.

The execution is also straightforward, no different than any other custard-style pie, be it sweet potato or chess.

But the deceptively simple pie is one of the most enduring symbols of revolutionary black power that dates back from the civil rights movement. It has been sold on street corners and in high-end restaurants. It has been referenced in television shows and rap music, and Will Smith feasted on it with friends on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.Boxer Muhammad Ali even blamed one of his most famous losses on it.

The bean pie came to prominence through the Nation of Islam, a black nationalist and social reform movement founded in 1930. Based on beliefs that included black supremacy and self-reliance, the Nation represented a profound shift from the collaborative social-reform strategies of groups like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Led by controversial figures like Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad, the Nation preached a separatist movement that rejected all enforced doctrines of white society, from clothing to surnames to religion.

Instead, it advocated for a new black identity free from the legacies of enslavement. Christianity, for example, was abandoned in favor of Islam, and surnames given by slave owners were replaced by an X.

A follower’s diet, methodical and inflexible, was one of the pillars that supported this new identity. The Nation’s leaders argued that many dishes and ingredients traditional to black foodways, particularly soul food, were relics of the “slave diet” and had no part in the lives of contemporary African-Americans.

They also drew a line from soul food—specifically its elevated salt, fat, and sugar content—to the medical woes that disproportionately affected the black community, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, hypertension, and obesity. Soul food, the Nation’s leaders believed, was just another means through which whites attempted to control and destroy the black population. As Elijah Muhammad, who led the Nation from 1934 to 1975, wrote in his two-book series How to Eat to Live, “You know as well as I that the white race is commercializing people and they do not worry about the lives they jeopardize so long as the dollar is safe. You might find yourself eating death if you follow them.” As a result, the Nation of Islam created its own radical—and somewhat idiosyncratic—new diet for his followers to adhere to, one influenced by both health and identity.

In How to Eat to Live, which was published in 1967, Muhammad emphasized vegetarianism, consuming whole grains and vegetables, and limiting sugar, processed grains, and traditional soul food ingredients, like sweet potatoes, corn, collard greens, and pork—the latter of which was vehemently forbidden to Nation members in accordance with Muslim law. Alcohol and tobacco were also prohibited. In their stead, black chefs cooked with ingredients like brown rice, smoked turkey, tahini, and tofu—which, as black culinary historian Jessica B. Harris writes in High on the Hog, “appeared on urban African American tables as signs of gastronomic protest against the traditional diet.”

The navy bean emerged as one of the Nation’s most important new ingredients; according to Muhammad, all other beans were divinely prohibited. “Do not eat any bean but the small navy bean—the little brown pink ones, and the white ones,” he wrote in How to Eat to Live. “Allah (God) says that the little navy bean will make you live, just eat them…. He said that a diet of navy beans would give us a life span of one hundred and forty years. Yet we cannot live [half] that length of time eating everything that the Christian table has set for us.”

The navy bean was used in a number of new Muslim recipes published in cookbooks and pamphlets, including soups, salads, and even cake frosting. But it was via the bean pie that it truly rose to prominence. The pie’s origins are unclear. Lance Shabazz, an archivist and historian of the Nation of Islam, told the Chicago Reader that the pie allegedly came from the Nation’s original founder, Wallace D. Fard Muhammad, who supposedly bestowed the recipe upon Elijah Muhammad and his wife, Clara, in the 1930s. This claim, however, has never been fully substantiated.

Although Muhammad never explicitly mentioned the bean pie in How to Eat to Live, it quickly rose to prominence in the black Muslim community. With a rich, custard-like filling from starchy mashed navy beans, the pie was generously spiced and pleasantly sweet—a true dessert, despite being full of beans. The beans’ nuttiness, combined with the warming kick of nutmeg and cinnamon, proved an irresistible dish, and soon, as Harris writes in High on the Hog, it could be found “hawked by the dark-suited, bow-tie-wearing followers of the religion along with copies of the Nation’s newspaper, Muhammad Speaks.” Muslim bakeries in cities from New York to Chicago offered it to customers, and “that’s where you would go to buy it, like going to get bread,” says black food historian Therese Nelson. It soon become a staple on the menus of restaurants owned by Nation members.

Lana Shabazz, Muhammad Ali’s personal chef, was renowned for her bean pie, and she included a recipe for it in her cookbook, Cooking for the Champ. As Shabazz wrote, the boxer so loved the pie that he even blamed it for his loss to Joe Frazier in the 1971 heavyweight title fight, having been unable to resist slices during his training.

Eventually, the bean pie became one of the defining hallmarks of the black Muslim diet—a “juggernaut,” to use Nelson’s term, that was a mainstay on dinner tables and in bakeries, and a fund-raising tool to support the initiatives of the Nation in communities across the United States.

One theory behind the bean pie’s potent symbolism is that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 November 2018 at 1:31 pm

Cracking eggs: I was doing it wrong

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For years decades I have cracked eggs on the edge of the counter. Some time back I read that it’s best to crack eggs on a flat surface (counter-top, not counter edge). So for the past months, I’ve been trying both ways. (We each have two eggs for breakfast, so I get frequent opportunities to crack eggs and observe the result.)

The claim was that cracking the egg on a flat surface minimized the chance of breaking the yolk membrane. I can now say with assurance that for me this is clearly true: I much more frequently encountered broken yolks when cracking the egg on the counter edge than I do when cracking the egg on a flat surface.

Thought you might want to know.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 November 2018 at 10:52 am

Left Coast Hemp Vodka from Victoria Distillers

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We went out to Victoria Distillers in Sidney, just up the road, and I tried and then bought a bottle of the Left Coast Hemp Gin: “Distilled with the finest Canadian-grown organic hemp seed. The rich silky texture is elicited by the smooth oils of the hemp hearts” (which, I believe, are toasted). From The Alchemist::

FRAGRANCE: Earthy, toasted grains, nutty. 
FLAVOUR: Buckwheat, rye spice, roasted walnuts. 
FEEL: Silky, balanced, sustained. 
FINISH: Pleasant, clean. 
BEST ENJOYED: Chilled, neat or as a Martini with an onion. 
THE BOTTOM LINE: More flavour than your average vodka, and worth a try. —Josh Pape, October 2016

I’m having a dram on the rocks, and I do like the flavor—and it’s quite smooth.

They seem to use their sideline spirits—this vodka, Sidney Spiced—to exhaust their version 1 bottles. Empress has its own bottle (and is their export to the UK and US) and Victoria Gin and Oaken Gin have the (very elegant) new bottle design.

I specifically wanted their chocolate liqueur (sold only at the distillery), but the next bottling will not be available until Wednesday. That was a blow. From The Alchemist:

FRAGRANCE: Intense cocoa nib and chocolate.
FLAVOUR: Bitter, as expected. Little to no sweetness. 
FEEL: Light to medium body. 
FINISH: Long, bitter finish. 
BEST ENJOYED: Would make a super-cool Old Fashioned or Brandy Alexander. 
THE BOTTOM LINE: If you like bitter spirits or liqueurs, this is for you. —Scott Barber, July 2017

At any rate, these local distilleries do good work. [And another plug for Unruly Gin—boy, was it good.]

Update: And my God! there are a lot of them — at least 37.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 November 2018 at 4:55 pm

Posted in Drinks

Distillery visit this weekend

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We’re going to visit Victoria Distillers just up the road in Sidney. I do like their gins: Victoria, Oaken (same as Victoria except aged in oak), and Empress 1908. Empress has these botanicals: Fairmont Empress Blend Tea, juniper, grapefruit peel, coriander seed, rose petal, butterfly pea blossom, ginger root & cinnamon bark. The striking color of the gin is from the butterfly pea blossom.

My acquisition targets are Left Coast Hemp Vodka, Sidney Spiced (they can’t call it “rum” until it’s aged another year), Grappa Brandy, and Chocolate Liqueur. They also make a single-malt whisky, Craigdarroch, but the new batch is not yet released. I’m on the mailing list.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 November 2018 at 10:42 am

Posted in Drinks

Another fine local gin: Unruly Gin, made of spirits distilled from mead

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Wayward Distillation House makes a very interesting array of spirits, distilled from mead (although they say only “honey,” but it would have to be fermented to contain alcohol -> mead. I bought Unruly Gin (described below), and it is excellent. Update: and as a PS:  I would note that the spirit of the bee can be detected in each sip. Really extraordinary—and somehow gratifying that it could never become a mass-production item (cf. Kraft): it is inherently limited, and we’re lucky to have it for us.

On this page you can find:

Drunken Hive Rum – “Traditionally, Rum is made from sugarcane by-product, usually molasses. Never one for tradition, Wayward’s Drunken Hive Rum is crafted from molasses made from caramelized BC honey instead!”

Raspberry & Ginger Vodka Infusion – “This year, almost half a pound of bright and tart local raspberries are unexpectedly balanced against the warmth and spice of locally grown organic ginger. Crafting a big, rich and deeply satisfying Raspberry vodka that’s absolutely amazing in a Moscow Mule, your favourite Martini or with ice over soda.”

Unruly Vodka – “Unruly Vodka starts life as 100% pure BC Honey. We gently ferment our honey into mead and distill that mead into vodka using custom designed stills to separate out the harsh heads and the oily tails, ensuring that only the softest and sweetest hearts are ever collected.”

Unruly Gin – “Like every Spirit we make, Unruly Gin starts life as 100% pure BC Honey. We gently ferment our honey into mead and distill that mead to spirit using custom designed stills to separate out the harsh heads and the oily tails, ensuring that only the softest and sweetest hearts are ever collected. We then distill those hearts one final time, using vapour infusion to capture the delicate and bright aromas of our unique blend of locally sourced and organic botanicals.

“This unique starting point, paired with a variety of traditional and West Coast ingredients, will make this Unruly Gin stand up in any cocktail or martini and stand out as a must-have for the gin enthusiast. Unlike traditional juniper heavy London Dry gins, Unruly Gin is a refreshingly alternative Canadian-style gin that has balanced and complimented its juniper with a hint of cedar and citrus, a dash of fragrant lavender and sarsaparilla root, and the vibrant notes of coriander.”



Written by LeisureGuy

8 November 2018 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Drinks

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