RUMBLEDETHUMPS

Jan 27

Duck Steak au Poivre and “Good Fries” from the Joe Beef Cookbook.  Doughnuts from Glory Hole on Queen Street West.

Feb 28

This has nothing to do with this blog, apart from the fact that it is more awesome than this blog.

(via twinpeaksfuckyeah)

Jan 4

Dear 2011, Thanks for Everything, Lindsay.



Last year, I had a big to-do.  There were lots of gregarious friends strewn about my apartment, lots of bubbles, lots of painstakingly hand-rolled gnocchi - and slightly later on, lots of dancing, paper crowns, cheers, oceans of bubbles and the occasional broken glass. 

This year, to avoid all of the hullabaloo, we decided to make a dinner at my apartment and then hastily find a plan for later on.  It was quiet and reflective, but for the muffled dubstep emanating from the apartment downstairs.    Not to get Chicken Soup for the Modern Soul on you all, but it was really (and I use this term reluctantly) nice.  Next year I will make bright, shiny, grandiose plans again, but for this not-very-much-of-anything-at-all-year, it was perfect.  The best part of all was that we have never even approximated looking quite so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the next day at dim sum. 

A New Year’s Eve Menu for two, or one greedy only child:

Oysters! and lotsandlots of Cava

Foie Gras Parfaits with Madeira Jelly, adapted from The Art of Living According to Joe Beef

Joe Beef’s Spaghetti Homard-Lobster, also adapted from Joe Beef

Gourmet’s Bomboloni with Whisky-Caramel sauce

A lot of wine.  A lot.

Although New Years Eve has come and gone, I think this menu is pretty adaptable to any number of special or quotidian occasions, as well as seasons.  The flavour of the food is furthermore enhanced by such songs as:*

"2 Become 1" - If you even have to ask, you’re in the wrong place.

"Just the Two of Us" - Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston, or the Will Smith version, if you’re not a purist.

"Eat for Two" - 10,000 Maniacs

"World of 2" - Cake

* I actually fervently recommend that you don’t listen to any of these songs on New Years Eve (or any other time, for that matter).

Recipes and other musings will be posted soon (depending on your definition of soon -  my spotty history of posting belies any attempts at excuses).

Nov 14

Catalan Beef Stew, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Braising and Love the Le Creuset

Nov 14

Hello there, gentle readers! It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this fledgling little site.  In the interim, the seasons have changed, and all of the summer cooking I did (which was admittedly very little - thanks, job.) will now have to wait until next year when corn and tomatoes and everything else that tastes good when it’s too hot for anything to taste good is back in season. Right now we are in flu, and ergo stew, season.  In my neighbourhood, the smell of burning leaves hangs in the air, the latter of which is crisp and biting, and the sun is pale and weak. My apartment is notoriously cold, so after a cookbook skim session, Tom and I decided to tackle the stew from Thomas Kellers’ Ad Hoc at Home. 

Despite it’s seeming homey, family-oriented theme, do not be fooled:  Thomas Keller has never seen a chinois that he didn’t like.  Almost everything needs to be annoyingly cooked, blanched, roasted or reduced separately, meat doesn’t dare come into contact with herbs, and the recipe references other recipes which will take twice as much time as you think they will.  You can, for example, half the time on the sofrito (a basic combination of slow-cooked caramelized onions and tomatoes) without any appreciable difference.  Sofrito is basically the best condiment in the world, and you can use it on scrambled eggs, bread, or [insert item here].  It will elevate [insert item here] to taste heights previously thought unreachable.  I’m so confident about this that if you’re not satisfied, just mail it back for a free refund! (I can make bald assertions like this, since I’m fairly sure only two people read this blog, so I can afford to pay for their collective onions and tomatoes.)

Despite my professed hatred of leftovers, the flavours in this stew actually improve after a night or two in the refrigerator.  The orange rind is subtle and nuanced, and adds a bit of brightness to an otherwise intensely rich and tasty dish. If I were to find myself with four hours on my hands again, however, I would relegate the olives to a garnish, as their brininess tended to overpower the other flavours.

(Sidenote: In view of this laborious task, we hastily assembled a cheese plate to tide us over.  We selected a Robiola, which is firm on the outstide, but gooey and spreadable on the inside and a tart Tiger Blue, with some fried bread (fried bread will be the end of me) and some figs. Consider it like a tasty checkpoint on your way up Everest.)

Aug 21

Roosterkoeks


(Adapted from Cape Wine Braai Masters.  This is not Tony’s recipe, so I can’t attest to its tastiness or lack thereof.)

Aug 14

A while back, I had a barbecue.  Those brave few of us who hadn’t escaped the city for weddings or weren’t sitting lakeside at a cottage assembled on my patio for some beer and cocktails while I ran to and fro and conscripted several of the guests into menial tasks like shaving asparagus and de-kernalizing cobs of corn.  (Thanks Tony!)  I had an inkling that I wanted to grill something somewhat unconventional and stumbled upon a recipe for grilled clams, which, as all things, can only be improved by that singular combination of fried bacon and onions caramelized in the leftover bacon grease.  We also fried a bit of garlic in a pan over the grill, reduced some white wine, and added a splodge of duck fat to the mix.  I don’t know about you, gentle readers, but virtually every time I use duck fat in something, I always feel a bit guilty and tend to drop it in quickly and look around to make sure no one was watching.

The clams were by far the star of the evening.  They were aided in that respect by Tony’s roosterkoeks to mop up the juices, which are a soft, pillowy South African grilled bread.  They were initially introduced as rooster cakes, but I dare you to try Google imaging that and find a recipe.  Everyone on the internet takes “rooster cake” way too literally. 

The chickens were plump, giant specimens from Gasparro’s (guys, did you know that Gasparro’s chickens are Mennonite-raised?  Is there anything these people can’t do?).  These chickens would be awesome all on their lonesome, but then I stumbled upon this recipe for the “best” barbecue chicken from David Chang in Men’s Health, whose audacious, pork-laden food is heavily featured at about all of my friends’ dinner parties these days, so I tend to trust him when he uses a superlative like “the best.” (Don’t ask me how I ended up on the Men’s Health site, though, as I neither want to know how to master the art of tailgating or to dominate my fantasy football league).  I ditched the miso suggested in the recipe for ssamjang, and the resulting sauce came out a fiery, angry red the colour of artificial food colouring Red No. 40, which I think suits the grill just fine. We stuck on them on the Big Green Egg for about an hour and a half, reduced the sauce down to a thick, sticky paste and slathered some on at the end.  The result was greedy, I-want-this-all-to-myself good, and despite my professed hatred of leftovers, I was totally happy (as a clam?) to chow down on this chicken the next day.  The leftover sauce, if any, is also really good on scrambled eggs.

Oh, and there was also some asparagus to counterbalance all of the better-tasting things.

Summer Barbecue:

Strawberry-basil infused vodka

Roosterkoeks*

Grilled clams with white wine, corn, bacon and miso butter*

Shaved asparagus salad with octo vinaigrette*

David Chang’s Korean-style grilled chickens

* Recipes on the way. 

Look, I’ll be straight with you: I don’t really know what rumbledethumps is.  Like most foods that tend to be labelled “comfort” foods to compensate for the fact that they are atrociously unattractive, it looks like a hot mess.  Wikipedia tells me that it is some combination of leftover potatoes, onions and cabbage that Scots roughly bash together, which one writer has called “dish so dour-sounding, so joyless, scouring and penitential that you can contract rickets just reading it.”   The BBC tells me that the name derives from the sound that those tubers make while clanging around in the pot.  So, why name a food blog after such an ignoble dish? 

Apart from the fact that it sounds like something out of the Brothers Grimm, rumbledethumps seems to conjure up everything I hate about leftovers: that weirdo congeal-y type action that happens to sauces, the wilty herbs, the cantilevering of pizza, and most atrocious of all: the sniff test to determine if something is past its prime.  Gross.  No thanks very much. 

I confess that I hate leftovers, but I also admire those people who possess a MacGyver-esque ability to reuse things into other useful things.  Like, for example, taking a beer cooler and turning it into a sous vide machine.  Real talk. (More on this later.)

I also like having dinner parties (though in writing this, I am aware that this sounds so very “white wine”).  Eating with your friends is fun.  They tell funny jokes, compliment you even when you’ve burned something beyond recognition, and major plus: the corkage fees are way less than at your local eatery.  Also you can be loud, spill things, play fun music - basically, have the best time and not worry about that much more sedate party of two at the table next to you. 

Given all of this, I conceived of this blog as a way to memorialize some of my dinner party endeavours with my particularly awesome friends.  Rather than post individual recipes like most blogs, however, I thought I might focus more holistically on menus.  And, just maybe, what to do with that 1 litre bottle of orange flower water that you bought for a Moroccan bastilla pie, only to use 1/4 teaspoon. 

Feb 17
A Note on Rumblethumpsianism.