Sunday, February 12, 2012

Wishing For Tomatoes

Tomatoes for roasting
These tomatoes are what I'm longing for.  It is now February and we've endured weeks on end of either 20F or 30F weather.  It has also been a rather "brown" winter without much snow- only enough to not melt on our few sunny days.  The remaining snow, and any melted snow, now freezes everyday which requires ski poles, skill, guts, or those little chain ice-walkers.  I'm beginning to feel like a cow yearning for the fresh grass of springtime.  I keep looking for signs of chives, usually the first green to grow in my garden, and so far my search has not been fulfilled.  I think I'll order seeds and let the growing begin.

Yes, I've been absent for the past month or so.  Fall semester barely ended before Christmas and when that happens my favorite holiday seems to whoosh by.  I spent most of my vacation time updating classes and preparing for the spring semester.  I also worked voraciously on my book business.  Then my computer caught a virus so I spent several days performing a system recovery.  Actually, the recovery part was easy but all the updating was tedious.  My next computer will definitely be an Apple.

I have not stopped cooking.  For Christmas eve dinner I made sugo d'anatra, a duck ragu.  I'm still missing the skin that I assumed would be on my locally raised ducks and I thought the ragu would at least keep the duck moist.  It did and it was delicious!  For Christmas, since there were only four of us for dinner, I cooked my locally raised chicken, from the same source as the chicken I used for that time-consuming but fully-worth-it Chicken Galantine.  That is something I never would have made without Charcutepalooza.  And it was so good, that I will definitely make it again!

Spicy Noix de Jambon
Right after Christmas I also bought another pork leg and proceeded to make some new noix de jambon.  I made three "real" noix de jambon, then I experimented with roasted, ground fennel with garlic as well as a spicy jambon.  I made two each of both ideas on some smaller cut noix.  The fennel became too gritty so next time I would do it with whole, fresh fennel seed and garlic, although I'd be worried about bacteria forming because of the raw garlic.  For the spicy noix de jambon I coated it with Spanish smoked paprika and cayenne.  Needless to say it was hot and delicious.  The three regular noix also turned out yummy.
I've been rummaging through the freezer, cleaning out those products with expiring dates.  Needless to say, I'm just about out of sausage so that is on the calendar.  I've added leftover pork pieces (from the not-so-capable butchery of two pork legs) to risottos and pasta dishes.  I even added some pork, instead of beef, to a wintry batch of borscht.  The borscht did much more than double duty because I used up last summer's beets, carrots, and cabbage as well.  With some duck breast prosciutto scraps I made a carbonara and the list just goes on and on. 

My birthday is coming up in April and I'm already thinking about a Chicken Galantine....  We'll see.  Usually for my birthday I give myself the gift of making a very difficult dessert that I haven't made before.  One year I even made Sherry Yard's six layer Dobos Torte that she made for one of  Wolfgang Puck's famous Oscar parties.  Wow!  That was not only delicious but also great fun!  I don't know what will happen this year but the ideas are simmering on my brain's back burner....galantine, pork pie, head cheese....

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