Kedgeree

Kedgeree harks back to the days of the British Raj, starting as a dish of rice and lentils way back.  But as with many dishes, much alteration has taken place over time.  And now here is my very basic kedgeree, ideal for eating morning, noon, or night.  It is very good by itself, but does go very well with Green Bean Chutney.

Natural smoked haddock is exactly what it is–smoked haddock.  There are the yellow fillets of cured haddock, which have been dyed to give the impression of being smoked.  The natural is obviously preferable.

Finally, a few spare moments to write!  I do have a viable excuse though, last week my wife and I flew out to San Diego for a wedding.  Our good friends Amanda and Chris had asked me to be one of the groomsmen, and I was more than happy to oblige.  As a thank you, they gifted me with this:

Can you guess what it is?  For those that picked “bone marrow spoon”, you are 100% correct.  It was a very thoughtful gift, and I plan on buying a few more so people won’t have to share the next time roasted marrow is served.  I’m also happy to report that the wedding went off without a hitch, and I wish the new couple as much happiness as I have in my marriage.

Right after landing in San Diego, we met up with Chris to get a bite to eat at his favorite restaurant, Point Loma Seafoods.

Loved by the locals, Point Loma Seafoods is awash with a wide array of some of the freshest fish and shellfish I’ve ever come across.  They prepare some fantastic things, too.

This dragon roll was made with real crab.  I’m used to seeing sushi made with fake krab, I just had to give it a shot.  It was so good, I almost bought another one to have later that night.  It would be nice if every sushi place used the real stuff, but I understand the economic reasons why they don’t.

My wife ordered the crab sandwich, which came STUFFED with lump crab.  I managed to sneak a few bites while she was talking.

The calamari sandwich is Chris’s favorite, and it’s obvious why: thick slices of fresh, breaded squid slathered with lovely tarter sauce.  He told me that he orders one every time he returns home to San Diego.

While we were eating, it dawned on me that it was a rare occurrence to be in the vicinity of such amazing seafood and that I should take advantage of it.  Leafing through “The Cookbook” (I really do take it with me everywhere) two crab recipes caught my eye.  Unfortunately the market was out of live crab, and they wouldn’t get any more in until the next day.  Then I noticed that there were roughly 20 varieties of freshly smoked fish on hand.  I could make kedgeree!

It turns out that among all of those perfectly smoked fish options, there was no haddock, but the man behind the counter suggested that smoked halibut would be a perfect substitute as it too is a white flaky fish.  While I’m not a big fan of substituting ingredients, I really wanted to cook something.  We picked out two hunks of smoked halibut, stopped at a Trader Joe’s to pick up the rest of the needed ingredients, and took everything back to Chris’s house.  His parents were kind enough to let me hijack their kitchen for the evening, so I jumped right in action and set their oven to 425° F.

The halibut was placed in a pan along with multiple knobs of butter and a cup of water.  Mr. Henderson mentions in the recipe that lots and lots of butter is a good thing for this recipe.  Who am I to argue with the master?  I was going to butter this recipe up, arteries be damned!  The pan and its contents were placed in the hot oven for ten minutes.

While the halibut cooked, I started boiling four eggs.  Mr. Henderson asks for free-range eggs, which thankfully Trader Joe’s had in spades.  Usually I make do with regular eggs.  Have I mentioned that I miss California sometimes?

In another pot I dumped two cups of long grain basmati rice, a pinch of salt and just enough water in and turned the heat up.  I’ve gotten so used to cooking rice in a rice cooker I had my doubts that it would come out right.  By then, the fish had finished cooking.

I yanked the fish out of the oven and set it aside to cool.  When enough time had passed, I skinned the halibut and flaked the meat from the bones.  The butter-water was set aside for use later.

Next I needed to gently fry two sliced red onions in butter.  The recipe calls for the onions to be soft and sweet, so the heat was turned down low to ensure that they didn’t brown.  At this point I had almost worked my way through a whole cup of butter, and yet I knew it wasn’t enough.  More butter!

After a little searching I found a pan that I hoped would be big enough to hold all of the ingredients and set it on stove.  The onions, the flaked halibut and the rice were added and combined until everything was evenly dispersed. The butter-water that the halibut was cooked with was poured on top (more butter!!)  along with even more butter to completely moisten the mixture.

Once everything was properly heated through I added the juice of one lemon, the hard boiled eggs that were roughly chopped, a heaping handful of chopped parsley and lots of salt and pepper.  The dish was complete!

Chris’s father, who is a man of aesthetics, presented me with purple hued plates to serve the kedgeree  on that worked perfectly with the color of the fried onions.  Thank you very much sir, if you’re reading this.

The first bite confirmed what I already knew:  This is a very simple, but hardy recipe that in small amounts could work as a light snack, or as fuel for a lumberjack if eaten in massive quantities.  The smoked fish played well with the sweet onions and copious amounts of butter, and the boiled eggs and rice added a nice range of textures.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the kedgeree as much as I did, which is personally my favorite part of cooking out of “The Cookbook”.  There are no bad recipes!

One down, sixty six to go.

Warm Pig’s Head

The flesh from a pig’s head is flavorsome and tender.  Consider, its cheeks have had just the right amount of exercise and are covered in just the right enriching layer of fat to ensure succulent cooking results, and the snout has the lip-sticking quality of not being quite flesh nor quite fat, the perfect foil to the crunch of the crispy ear.

For the past few months, a group of my friends has been getting together on either Saturday or Sunday to eat, drink, and have fun.  It’s the perfect opportunity to share one of he recipes from “The Cookbook”, and one of the first I made was this one, a warm pig’s head salad.  Which means that I needed…

… a pig’s head.  I picked this beautiful piggy noggin up at my local supermarket, believe it or not.  Much love to my Hispanic brothers and sisters for being the force behind the demand for such awesome things.  On top of that, it was only ten dollars!  They have no idea what goodness they’re selling, and I have every intention of taking advantage of it at many times as I can.

Cooking the head for this recipe is exactly like cooking it to make Brawn, so the same stock vegetables were needed, along with the herbs, the peppercorns, the lemon zest and the splash of red wine vinegar.  This time though, we didn’t need extra gelatin that the Brawn called for so the trotters were left out.

Before putting the head into my stock pot and filling the whole thing with water, I cut the ears off for easier removal if the flesh started to fall off the cartilage.

On to the stove the pot went.  The water was brought up to a boil and then back down to a simmer for two and a half hours.

While I waited on the head to finish cooking, I started working on the salad side of the recipe.  I needed a big handful of curly parsley that had been finely chopped, a handful of cornichons, also chopped, and yet another handful of capers.

I also needed a few sorrel leaves to add to the salad.  The sorrel leaves have a very unique flavor to them, a sort of tart strawberry.  This little plant was picked up at the Austin Farmer’s market, along with a few other little herb plants.  That’s one of the greatest reasons to visit your local Farmer’s Market: you never know what neat things you might come across.

By this time the ears had fully cooked.  I pulled them out of the pot, dried them off and threw them into the fridge to cool down.  Once they had cooled, the cartilage was nice and firm, making the slicing process much easier.  I tried to slice each ear as thinly as possible, as I’ve found that if the slices are too thick the cartilage is a real pain to chew.

Sorry for the terrible picture, but it’s hard to get into a good position when you’re frying slices of pig ear.  The slices relish spitting hot oil as they crisp, and usually in the exact direction of the closest person.

The slices were nicely crisp and crunchy.  My wife and I had to stop ourselves from eating all of them before we got to our friend’s house.

Beep, beep, beep went the timer, ow, ow, ow screamed the cook (thanks to awkward nature of trying to remove the head from the boiling stock).  Zing, zing, zing went my heartstrings, because I had a fully cooked pig’s head on my cutting board.  Judy Garland, I am so, so sorry.  After I had stopped hopping around the kitchen holding my scalded hand, we started removing the meat from the skull, and skinned the tongue.  Usually I’d have a picture showing the process, but since it’s rather grizzly I decided to hold off on it.  When the meat was properly shredded, we packed all of the needed recipe components up and headed over to our friend’s house.

A little dressing, a few chunks of day old bread and some peppery salad greens were mixed together with the sorrel, parsley, cornichons, capers and meat.  The crispy pig ears were placed on top for garnish–a very tasty garnish, might I add–and the dish was complete.   Much more than a salad, this recipe could easily be considered a full meal.  And what a meal, too.  Perfectly tender cheek meat married to unctuous fat was the star far and away, but the crispy pig ear slices were delicious as well as texturally exciting.  The other ingredients added hints of salty and sour and sweet, which only ramped up the layers of complexity.

This salad wasn’t exactly what you could call a fifteen minute meal by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t worth every ounce of the effort.

One down, sixty seven to go.

Random items of interest from around the ‘net

I’ve been lax with my posting duties, I’m going to be lashed a few dozen times with a braised pig ear as penance.  I do intend on writing a post tonight about the warm pig’s head salad I made a little while ago–It was awesome, but you knew that was going to be the outcome.

In the meantime, here are a few offal related items that I’ve found that I’d like to share.


Over at SFGate they’ve got an article up that talks about all the different restaurants in San Francisco that cater to us offal friendly people.

Upscale Bay Area restaurants are increasingly offering parts of the animal that until a few years ago were discarded. These portions include the head, feet, tail and organs, collectively called offal. Though not an overnight trend, more adventurous eaters – especially those familiar with ethnic offal dishes as well as people supporting sustainability – are eating nose-to-tail, letting nothing go to waste.


I found this neat little offal quiz at Noodlepie that was posted a few years back, but the pictures are still wonderful.  I managed to score a perfect 100% just looking at the little pictures on the quiz page.  Don’t cheat!


I’ve been wanting to make Duck Prosciutto ever since I saw the recipe in Michael Ruhlman’s book Charcuterie. Thankfully over at the Belm Blog, they’ve posted the step by step process with lots of pictures.  Delicious looking pictures.  See?

duckthumb1


I have a post up over at Eat Me Daily about beef tendon.  It’s the new hotness, I promise you.  Go take a look!

Pickled Gherkins

An incredibly useful thing to have up your sleeve.  After many failures in the restaurant at pickling gherkins, I was shown the way by Anna Rottman, a friend of my wife’s from New Zealand.

Finally!  It feels like forever since I last updated, but tonight it is going to happen.  The best part is that this recipe requires the most dangerous ingredient I’ve ever used in the kitchen.  Forget knives, forget fire.

First though, we needed some tiny cucumbers.  My wife and I hit the farmer’s market along with our trusty Corgi to wrangle up a few.  Victorious, we returned home and I got busy right after walking in the door.

A quick scrubbing and the cucumbers were ready to be salted.  I combined all of the little gourds with a hefty amount of coarse sea salt and left them to sit for three hours, every so often tossing them to redistribute the salt.

Once the proper amount of time had elapsed I shook all of the salt off and covered the cucumbers with boiling water for about five minutes and then drained.

While the cucumbers sat in their bath, my wife was boiling more water to sterilize the jars needed for the pickling process.

Meanwhile I was running around the kitchen grabbing the rest of the needed ingredients, including this blend of pickling spices…

… and this bottle of pure Acetic acid.  I’m sure that you took notice of the various warnings on the front of the bottle, but let me show you just a sample of what terrifying cautions lie on the other side.

Inhalation of concentrated vapors may cause serious damage to the lining of the nose, throat, and lungs.

Swallowing can cause severe injury leading to death.

Ingestion of as little as 1.0 ml has resulted in a perforation of the esophagus.

I hit the high points, but I’m sure you get the gist of the rest of the warnings.  As intimated above, this recipe is hands down the most dangerous one in the book.  I think it’s the most dangerous recipe in any of my cook books, not including the one that talks about fugu preparation.

The small amount of acid I needed was diluted with A LOT of water in a stainless steel pot, along with A LOT of sugar.  The whole thing was brought up to a boil until the sugar had completely melted away.

The cucumbers were stuffed into the sterilized jars along with some hefty pinches of pickling spices.  Make special note of exactly how full the jars are.

With a care that I didn’t know was possible, I filled each jar to the brim with the acid and sugar mixture, and then sealing them.  We set the jars in a cool, dark place for a month, hoping that the acid had lost enough potency to not eat through the glass.

I know it’s a little tough to see, but after one month, the gherkins had shrunk down significantly.  I’m talking a 75% reduction in size, which I assume is all due to the effects of the acetic acid.  It’s a bit frustrating actually, I keep wishing that I could stuff the jars with more cucumbers to take up that empty space.

And here they are in all their pickled, gherkin glory.  As I took them out of the jar, they smelled sweet and not dangerous at all.  A small bite and a few minutes of waiting confirmed that no holes were punched through my esophagus and imminent death was not right around the corner.  The gherkins were perfectly sweet and sour with a crunchy texture.  It reminded me of, well, a gherkin.  Which is exactly what I was aiming for.

One down, sixty eight to go.