Thursday, July 29, 2010

The OTHER thing to do with peameal - roast it whole

I was so excited at the prospect of successfully supplying myself with an authentic peameal (Canadian) bacon I quickly reverted to my old school ways of roasting it whole.

As much as I love the flavor of individually fried pieces, the little char on the outside, the crisp edges, mmmmm, sorry, I digress.

As much as I enjoy fried slices, I also enjoy roasting the peameals whole. The one I made tonight is 2 lb but I've roasted them as large as 8 lbs. It is an incredibly tender, moist meat even if you do (accidentally) cook it a bit long. I think it's due to the brine/cure, it retains it's moisture when cooked beautifully, it's worth a try.

1 peameal - any size
sheet pan drizzled with a little oil
400 degree oven
bake till it's 138 internal temperature (or is really firm to the touch). The temperature will continue to rise when it rests for those who are concerned about temperature rules.

Let it rest about 15 minutes, slice, eat. Repeat.

I made my waterless garlic mashed potatoes and minty peas to accompany the roast tonight. Yum. Tomorrow we'll eat sandwiches, on the french bread Connor and I made yesterday, because as good as this peameal is hot, it's just about as good cold.

I'll watch for boneless pork loin to go on sale again, and load up now that I have mastered peameal 101, there's going to be more Canadian bacon in my world; without the 1,675 mile drive.


Split pea soup and sausages

I wrote and published two of the recipes a couple of you were waiting for, the yellow split pea soup and the quickie banger moment...

I didn't want to write them out again so head on over and check them out.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Peameal bacon, in Texas - I did it!

This is a peameal bacon, a whole one, what the Americans call "Canadian bacon". I will not even enter into a discussion with any of my American, or specifically, Texan friends as to the identification of "Canadian bacon". Bless them but they've been led astray by culinary myth and no one bothered to set them straight...well, until today.

Reputable restaurants and specialty stores in the United States insist on presenting a round, boiled?, ham as the quintessential "Canadian bacon". Seriously people? Have you never BEEN to Canada and eaten bacon there? REALLY?

I feel obligated to do the quote thing because in Canada, it's just bacon or it's peameal. So named because historically it was rolled in yellow split pea meal to preserve, keep, the meat.

This is not going to be a long post, but rather a celebratory post. I have lived in Austin, Texas for 11 years and for exactly 11 years I have been trying to obtain a decent peameal. Oh, scratch that, decent peameal implies there have been choices. I've been in search of ANY peameal. Without success of any kind.

I used to be able to visit my remaining family members in Canada and upon pulling out of the driveway to drive back to Texas I'd be sure there was my son in the back seat and pounds of peameal in the cooler. They vacuum pack them there frequently, whole, and I drive them back here and pop them into the freezer - guarding them like a mad dog - there are very few occasions that warrant the use of a transplanted peameal. I slice them, I roast them whole I count count count to be sure of how many I have left at any given time and at 2, the grip tightens upon my beloved hunks of frozen meat.

I haven't been able to go north for 2 years and I won't be, for the foreseeable future, so my peameal crisis is hyped to a new level. I sort of need it.

Pork loins were on sale last week at my local grocery store. My mind reeled...dare I MAKE a peameal? A 2 lb boneless loin lept into my basket, came home with me, and lay in wait for me to put on my mad scientist hat.

I researched like mad and determined a dry cure was the way I was going to try it (first) so a short road trip to the local Calahans (cowboy store) to procure Morton's Tender-quick and I was ready.

In a NON REACTIVE dish I put 1 Tbsp Tender-quick and 1 tsp sugar for each pound of boneless pork loin. I rubbed it in well and tightly bound it in a number of layers of saran wrap. Into the fridge with a giant TUESDAY written on it. 5 days to wait - seemed nothing after a 2 year wait.

After 5 days, I removed the loin and washed it well then dried it and rolled it in a heavy coating of cornmeal.

OK OK, historic peameal was rolled in yellow split pea meal but it isn't anymore, it's rolled in cornmeal so I went with the flavor I miss not the historical accuracy - sue me.

Back to my beloved pork loin, I rolled it in the cornmeal, thickly, covered it and put it back in the fridge.

Wednesday lunch - out came the pork. There aren't words to describe the level of joy and the elation of success. The picture above is how it came out of the fridge the day after being's the rest of my journey (and yes, we ate it on the homemade french loaves we made yesterday because peameal cries out for being eaten, hot, on fresh bread in a sandwich;

Try it, it's 5 days but there's really only 5 minutes of work the entire time. If you don't try it, and you know me, don't worry, I'll feed you some. One at a time, the Texans will 'get' what Canadian bacon actually is. Specs and Central Market might get a sample too, the deli people did mention an interest in trying it if I mastered it.

That's one thing off the list of imports, now, if I could just get a Swiss Chalet, Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire or a Pizza Pizza down here, I'd be set!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Biscuits - the best thing I've E.V.E.R. made

I do realize that in the scheme of the universe, a biscuit is just a biscuit. You get some flour, some fat and some liquid, mix it, bake it, eat it. I know people who aren't going to care about this one little bit, how sad. I, on the other hand, care deeply and am going to share this with you because sometimes you play in the kitchen and you make something so delicious you look around to see who you can share it with. Sometimes a bite is that good.

Anyway, you can make a biscuit with a mix or without much thought but then you wouldn't be nearly as happy as I am at this moment, having just eaten the best thing I ever made. You have to make this version, every day and eat it and make it for people you love. Make it for your boss and you'll get a raise, for strangers and they'll become friends and for people who hate you, well, you'll be on the Christmas list for SURE.

I surf the net all the time looking for new and interesting twists on food, I saw a recipe that called for the sugar on the outside and thought, oh yes, we like this idea a lot. I didn't want to use white sugar and thought brown would be too heavy. I searched through my cupboards and made a glorious ingredient I don't use much but thought I could be onto something cool...I wondered if it would work but forged bravely ahead - it's only a bit of flour after-all.

These biscuits are a little sweeter than many recipes but what's life without a sweet biscuit. I think they would do fine without the sugar on the outside and maybe the addition of some shredded cheese and chives for dinner. The texture of these is divine and I have no doubt they would lend themselves to all manner of ingredient addition, whether sweet or savory. Here is what I did today (and I actually wrote it down and measured, see, I'm learning)

In a food processor, sift,

2 cups AP flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp sugar (if you want, don't do this for a savory version)

Whirr it around and add 6 Tbsp of very cold (mine was actually frozen because I plan badly) unsalted butter cut into teenie weenie pieces.

Whirr it around until it looks like peas, then dump it into another bowl (I have never trusted a Cuisinart with biscuit dough)

Add up to 3/4 cup milk to the dough and mix with a fork until it forms a shaggy dough, turn it out onto a board floured with...wait for it... confectioners sugar! (icing sugar) You don't need much, just a light dusting, which I passed through my seive to remove any lumps. Quickly form the dough and roll it to about 3/4 inch thick. I'm notorious for overworking dough so have a light hand here. The sugar doesn't get absorbed at all but makes a lovely little coating and stops the dough from needing extra flour which would make it tough, sweet AND useful - wondrous. I did dust it off a bit before I cut the dough into pieces.

Cut into rounds, straight down, no twisting allowed! I used a juice glass, 2" diameter maybe and got 9 biscuits. Do not re-roll the dough, squash it back together and do a quick shape and then cut, those biscuits are shaggy and almost like pull apart biscuits and that's bad, how?

I added a teenie weenie shard of cold butter on the top of each biscuit and baked it at 450 for 15 minutes on a parchment lined pan on the upper third of the top oven. See how specific I'm getting, I've been recipe nagged for just long enough now.

The biscuits come out crispy on the outside with a slight sugar crust almost and are soft and flaky and unctuous on the inside. They rise beautifully and you don't need a knife to cut them apart, they are easily pulled apart to separate the warm insides waiting for a knob of cold butter and a healthy dollop of ice cold seedless raspberry compote.

There's not much more to say, I'll just leave you with the images...

Put this on your short list of things you can do my heart, you'll make them often. I'm going to make a savory version now, all in the name of culinary research of course...


Monday, July 26, 2010

FASTEST lunch E.V.E.R. - welcome to curried couscous (salad)

ok, fastest lunch ever - ready? GO!

In a saucepan with a lid add a small blob of butter and fry a sliver of onion with a hefty sprinkle of curry powder until the onion is soft.

While it's frying (run cuz this is a fast lunch!) open and drain and rinse a can of chick peas and put a small fry pan (dry) on another burner and toss in some almonds to dry roast - watch them as they will burn on you in the blink of an eye.

Back to the onion, add 1 cup of water and the white part of a green onion (scallion) a small handful of raisins and 35 or so of the chick peas (yes, I counted for you). Bring the liquid to the boil and add 1/2 cup of couscous. Put the lid on and take it off the heat, attend to the almonds and slice the rest of your green onions.

Pour a glass of wine, tidy the kitchen, rinse your knife and put it away (I'm funny about knives) and get a pretty low sided bowl.

Check to see the liquid has been absorbed by the couscous. Give it a squirt of lemon juice to brighten the flavor then fluff it with a fork. Add the almonds and green onion and fluff again. Tip into your pretty bowl, slice some tomato from your garden on the side and sit down to a surprisingly healthy and delicious lunch. Make a double or triple amount and keep it in the fridge, it's delicious cold with some sliced chicken or grilled fish. YUM!

Oh and yes, this is what we have instead of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches *sigh*


Thursday, July 8, 2010

I got Figs, I made something

I like figs. They are in season at the moment in Austin and my friend has a heavily laden tree which hangs over her driveway. All these are good things.

I brought a big bag of the figs home with me yesterday and this morning stood, with hands on hips and devised a little somethin' something' to do with them. Here's some of the shots from the experiment:

I pulsed some flour, sugar and butter in a processor and squashed half in a lined pan, 8x8. I whirred a load of figs, lemon zest and lemon, a little flour and a spoonful of sugar and blobbed that on top (it was a blob! - too thick to pour too thin to be a paste) then crumbled the rest of the topping/base over the top

I baked it off for about an hour at 375, let it sit for 45 minutes or so to settle and firm up and removed it in one piece then cut it up and ate too much of it.

I posted the recipe on my examiner spot, it's austin and it's budget afterall :) go check it out here:


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It's Meat Pie and it's one of the few things I think I do really really well

I was born in Brighton, England and was raised in Canada. We eat meat pie.

I moved to Texas and thought for sure they'd be into meat pie. They are not.

I stopped making it for alot of years for reasons unknown. I rectified that mistake.

I have my own combination of British meat pie, Cornish pasty and French Canadian tourtiere. (which is the fancy word for meat pie)

It's one of the few things I'm pretty confident I make pretty well. Since I mastered the whole pastry crisis thing, I will make this more often. I love it and actually prefer it at room temperature or cold which is something my dear Texans just can't deal with - yet - I'll make converts out of them, one at a time.

I wanted to get a picture up and I will go write the recipe/method out and get it up. I'd do it now but, um, there's pie waiting for me.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lemon Two-Crust Pie - my version

I have never been able to make pastry.

I have "hot hands" and come from a line of women who are master pastry queens. My mother makes it in a machine, without thinking, and it's light and flaky every time. My paternal grandmother made it in a bowl with a knife and it was absolutely perfection. Not wanting to let down the family, on either side, I'm willing to give it another go.

I collect old cookbooks, really old, 1800 old. I line them up and read them and enjoy them and smile at the advice for young women sections. It never occurred to me to actually cook something out of them. It's going to be my new gig, I'm going to bring old school back into fashion, well, that's my theory anyway.

I was reading and found a recipe for a lemon custard, two crust pie. I thought it sounded interesting and I bookmarked it. Later, I read about an american 'shaker' style lemon pie that left the rind in. Marmalade pie? I was intrigued to say the least. I rather like lemon meringue pie and tend to make it without any meringue. Kind of like when my husband ordered, on an early date we had, "coconut shrimp without coconut".

I decided to attack the pastry portion of the pie. Before I go any further, it turned out amazing and I am taking myself OFF the "those who fail miserably at pastry" list. Make this stuff, it works!


1 cup of a/p flour
1 stick of cold unsalted butter (cut into teenie weenie cubes)
1 heaping teaspoon of salt.
Blend together with a pastry blender (I have to, hot hands remember) until it looks like peas in the flour.
Add 3T ice cold water and stir with a butter knife!! stir like crazy and it'll come together in clumps or not, if it doesn't, add 1T of ice water at a time and give it another few minutes.

As soon as you can reach in and make a solid snowball from the pastry, grab it together into a ball, cut it in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Toss it into the fridge.


3 medium lemons, washed, dried and sliced as thin as you can possibly slice them. You have to be able to see through these lemon slices. Remove any seeds and throw the slices into a bowl
2cups of sugar
1T salt
stir around, cover and leave it on your counter overnight. Stir it whenever you walk by if you feel like being more involved in the process.

Take the pastry out of the fridge when you are ready to make the pie. Turn oven to 425.

The standard 'shaker' pie leaves the rind in the pie, I don't like rind so I removed it. Carefully strain (pressing out all the juice from the rind) and add 4 eggs, 3T melted butter and 3T flour. Blend well.

Roll out one piece of the pastry to fit a 9inch pie plate. Pour the filling into the pie and cover with the other piece of pastry rolled out. Do whatever you want to the edge, I don't do pretty so mine are always a mess. Cut a slit or two to vent the steam.

Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, lower temperature to 375 and bake 25 minutes, it'll be golden brown. Leave it to come to room temperature and then get into it.

The pie is custard but not really, it makes you think it might be jelly or curd but it's really not. It has a thick but not smooth texture and the flavor is tart and fresh and slightly sweet. I think I like this pie alot.

I think the pastry is out of this world, completely flaky and lovely and as I said, I am off the "fail" pastry list for all time. I'm going to use this pastry to make my meatpie next week (yes, it'll be here) because it has a retro feel and my meatpie is old school. This pastry has no yolks or vinegar or mixtures of shortening or lard, it's flour, salt and butter and the layers explode in the heat of the oven.

I like this pie and hope you do too.



Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dinner for 3? Oh you'll need one piece of chicken for that...

Ok, so I do know this is lame (the cross link rather than writing it all out again) but I'm crushed for time and wanted to link the two. I cooked and I wrote today.

I will be submitting piece/s to eatingeverywhere tomorrow and will link them through here as well.

I'll be honest, I'm a little sick of chicken, and I wonder if the examiner thinks chicken is the only thing I cook. The whole point of being the 'budget meal examiner', in my mind, was to supply information on cooking on a budget and I'm going by what the stores are putting on special to that end. I think HEB needs to put something ELSE on sale in the next little while. I did manage to do something 'new' with it today and frankly, I was thrilled at the outcome. Instead of writing it all out, here's the direct link.

A meal for 3 out of one chicken breast, c'mon, that's impressive :)

Make it. Oh and no, I have no idea what I'm doing with the other two breasts I cooked at the same time. Ala Scarlett O'Hara, I'll worry about that tomorrow.