Dried Sausage

This is a fantastic thing to serve as a pre-grill munchy.  Opening a bag of chips or pretzels or nuts is easy, but you can do better.  Dried sausage has flavor.  It has texture.  It has fat to warm your bouche up for some food.

But please, peel the outer wrapper thing for your guests.  Don’t make them peel it.  In my hood, the ladies, they cut a long piece of sausage, peel the outer thing and then slice it.  Your guests thank you for not making them work so hard to enjoy your sausage.  You save on napkins from sausage fingers.  Your sausage gets eaten.  A peel left on sliced sausage is a barrier to entry.  You look lazy.  And you’re not.  Deep breath.  You can do this.

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Lard

 

Should you look up on the interwebs something to the tune of “how to make lard,” you will find recipes for making lard with a LONG-ass preamble of how unhealthy lard is and “gee, lard … oh wow … so unhealthy … oh but just like masturbating … I shouldn’t really … but oh I love it … oh here’s how to make it.” I hate this hee-haw, so here’s how to make lard without the guilt.  Because rule number one: Lard is good for you.  It is rich in vitamin D.  D!  Like that shit is hard to come by.  It’s just a matter of time before Frito-Lay slaps a “rich in vitamin D” sticker on their packages.  D is the shit, so take a puff.

Assuming you know your way around a stove or stovetop or “hob” (I can never write the word “hob” without giggling),  here’s the order and your day:

–       Pig fat

–       a big pot

–       a day for hanging around the hob [hee hee]

–       a splash of water

–       jars (clean) to put your lard

–       dude, that’s it

Your toughest obstacle here is finding a day and securing pig fat.  If you can’t secure a tractor to hang up the pig that you and your friends tied up, lifted up and slit its throat and collected the blood for sausage but just the first bits of blood, perhaps you can ask your local butcher for pig fat.  They usually have some in the back without a clue of what to do with it.  When the butcher fails you, reach out to your local pig farmer.  Oh they are there, you’ve never noticed because it wasn’t in the cool section at your fancy grocery store.  You see, food comes from farmers.  Crazy talk, but it is the truth.  Figure it out.  Get some pigfat.  And then:

–       cube your fat.  Avoid meaty bits

–       give the meaty bits to your cat or dog or chicken

–       if you get meaty bits in your lard, it will be “savory lard” thus limiting your use of such a wonderful fat

–       okay, if you insist, you can put meaty bits in your lard, but don’t go making pumpkin pie.

–       Stick your cubes in a pan and add a few splashes of water to kick it off

–       Then cook that shit on low heat until there’s a lot of liquid fat and little crumply crunchy things

–       This could take hours

–       But you can do other things

–       Like start your rye bread or think or something interesting that doesn’t involve you, you’re such a narcissist.

That’s it.  When you get a soupy, fatty, bubbly liquid of gold, you grab your sieve (oh yeah, get a sieve to strain the puffy fatty bits) and ladle that beauty in your clean jars.  Then, get on with your busy life.  After your jars cool a bit you need to find time to stick them in the fridge.  Don’t forget to turn off your hob.  You’ll turn it on again some other time, I’m sure.

Easy, now off you go.  When you’re done, you will have lard.  Lard for making great stuff that doesn’t involve unwrapping anything.

Your Kitchen

 

If your kitchen is cleaner than this by high noon, then you suck.  Okay, no, this is the kitchen of not a chef, but a person that cooks that is a lazy bastard.  Because just like a sneeze after freshly applied mascara, you need to wipe that shit while it’s wet.  Scoop your goop.  Dish your meat.  Take a second to wash that pan.  Or it gets all sticky and crusty.  No good.  The extra time you spend de-crusting, you could be doing magic with ice cream or creamy chocolaty things or sweet cream or having sex.  Get the kitchen in order.     No, seriously, come on, do it.  Do it.

On Radish

Here’s a tip: never process cockerel in faded blue jeans.  Zara can handle the club with the bub, but it is unknown their strength with culling the boys in your peep of chooks.

Poor radish, they need a mama.  No one really appreciates its spice, its potential, its history.   So easy to grow and yet what the heck do you do with them?  Well, let me tell you, you keep it simple.  A little criss-cross, some salted butter, you’re done.  But you MUST prepare these babies or no one will eat them.  They will see radish along with some cucumber or dried ham and think, “ooo ham.  I love ham.  How pretty it looks with all that radish pizazz.”  A radish can stand alone.  Don’t forget that.  Or I’ll hit you.

You need:

– fresh radisheseses

– salted buttah

– a sharp knife for all the criss-cross bidness

Stick delicate shavings of butter in your perfect criss-cross.  Think outside the radish.  Let the radish move you.  Make it pretty.

Vanilla Extract

 

Why pay the man to make substandard vanilla extract when you can make your very own. You can pick your alcohol. You can pick your bean. You can adjust your vanilla bean to alcohol ratio. You can save hundreds. You can make gifts for friends. You can be quiet, listen and slow down.

All you are doing is sticking a bean in a jar with some alcohol. So hard? Can you handle it? Then you wait. You wait two or three months. You may need to not wait months because you’re impatient. And it will still taste great.

Of all the vanilla extract recipes I’ve tried, I chose Chef and Steward. It’s simple. It’s fantastic. Some people talk about heating or adding water and I feel that is wrong. – clean jar – some nice, juicy, wet vanilla beans – some alcohol. Stick them together, shove in a dark cupboard and wait. Get on with your life. Forget the vanilla bean project. Your work is done.

Here are some tips:

1) When the vanilla extract you used to buy before starting your new life as a vanilla extract maker says “Bourbon” … the alcohol used was not Bourbon Whiskey, it is a French island. Oh, do a little Wikipedia number and clear up some things. I’m not going to rewrite that.

2) Bourbon Whiskey might make for interesting vanilla extract. I’ve not tried it. Do tell.

3) White rum is a wonderful vanilla extract alcohol, but think about some alternatives. I used Armagnac (okay, husband’s idea.  there.  i said it). And let me tell you right here, right now, vanilla soaked in Armagnac is crack. “This is the best cookie I ever ate,” they’ll say. “What is this cake made out of, crack?” To which you can explain that the crack you used in the cake is but a dash of salt compared to the amazing vanilla extract you made and used in your confections.

4) Should you not live in the middle of Armagnac-ville, your local alcohol man can easily get you to the good stuff  if there isn’t any on the shelves. You can then flip your hair back and indulge in all your wankery that you know what Armagnac is.

5) Don’t use dry, sad vanilla beans.

5.5) Imitation vanilla is made from wood that was once friends with vanilla.  Don’t try to make that.  That is yucky.

6) After you’ve used your extract a bit, you can add more alcohol to the same beans and restart your date of commencement.

That’s it. Now get out of here. Back to work.

Pav Bottom

I’ve been working hard on my Pavlova bottom.  Fruit season is coming, so you must be locked and loaded to serve and enjoy this hugely fantastic, light, creamy, yummy, somewhat fancy dessert.  My Pav pretty much sucked until I found Mama.  I knew about the heat-oven-then-turn-down-heat technique to achieve Pav perfection, but it never worked for me.  That is, until I tried this recipe.  Mama has it right.  Don’t argue with Mama.  My only tweaks to suit my French location were:

–       my oven run-eth hot. – so I did 100C then 50C

–       my sugah is sweet (ah yeah) – so I used 1/ 2 cup less sugar

–       I don’t have one of those fancy pans – so my simple round cake pan with parchment worked juuuuust fine.

You can stick damn near anything on a perfect Pav bottom.  Whip some cream.  Slice some fruit.  Add a pat of sugar.  Own it.  Make it pretty.

And in the immortal words of our pop gawd Prince:

The gentle breeze

It blows with ease

Let’s make IT slow

Just like the wind blows

Let’s make IT last forever

For a hundred times won’t be enough

Tonight is the night 4 making slow Pav

… but I know you won’t take it slow and I accept that.  If you get your peaks stiff, no one will be the wiser.

Lemon Curd

If life gives you lemons, make lemon curd.  I really hate that phrase.  I can think of no finer staple than the lemon. If life is giving you lemons then things must be nice and sunny.  Ain’t no lemon I know growing in the dreary, rainy places (see Seattle, WA, USA).  “Curd” is the real problem.  Curd sounds disgusting.  It is but a ‘t’ away from being a turd.  So let’s say it in French:caillé de citron.  Much better.  OOoo how about Japanese: レモンカード *. Or Mexican: estúpido.  Yeah, that’s right, the Meximan don’t have time for your fancy lemon curd unless you plop some in a little cerveza.  You must always have lemons in your kitchen.  You must.

You need:

Put this in a pan and stick it on your hob:

–       Lemons, a couple big or a few small ones.  Zest them and juice them.

–       a stick of butter, what’s that … ½ a cup/4oz/115grams

–       a slightly less than full cup of sugar … you do the math.  Make it sweet.

Put this in a bowl:

–       four eggs … and you don’t have to separate them!. Crack-a-lack them and whisk them up

Stop resisting:

You will grab a glass of wine or whatever your poison and ease your hot, zesty lemon goob in your phlegmatic eggs like the rest of us.  Those other quick techniques for curd making are for children.  Despite that constant need to update your facebook page with things that make you special, you are not a child.   You are not special.

Melty, melty these things: butter, sugar, zest and juice

Slowly, slowly, drip by drip add the hot stuff from your pan on the hob in your egg bowl until the eggs look like they’re getting with the program.  You’re warming them up in preparation for some hot action.  A little ovum foreplay.  Add the stuff in the bowl back in the pan.  Whisk slowly over low heat with your right hand and drink wine with your left.  Think of things while it thickens.  Like “curd rhymes with turd.”  Or “mama-se mama-sa” neither said nor saw.

When it gets thick, you have achieved lemon curd.  From there, you do what you will.  I stuck it in a little tart because I’m going through a tart phase.  Knock yourself out.  You’re A Vegetable, You’re A Vegetable … They Eat Off Of You, You’re A Vegetable, but of a lemon curd orientation.

HEE-HAW!

* Okay, I don’t know Japanese.  I hope I didn’t offend someone’s mother there.  Blame GoogleTranslate on that one