Friday, May 22, 2009

New era!

It has arrived! woho my first kichenaid :)

However, the arrival of this icon also marks a new beginning. I am letting offalboy hibernate and moving my writings to my new blog Pickles & Pork. Mainly because I was feeling like a hypocrite considering that i never really got around to write about offal, but have been getting heavily into pickles lately. I also grew pretty bored with the look of my blog so on i go to start a new one :). Hopefully i will start a new pickle each month and keep my nonexistent readers updated on other culinary exploits :)

Here are some pickle pics :P

First of the mixing of my beet lemon and garlic pickle. I have never really read about this combo before but it seems to make sence;)

This one is the start of a kimchi. ow i must confess i have never eaten the stuff, but it looks and sound really tasty. See Pickles & Pork for recipes!

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Shopping makes the world go round, world go round

I know I know (he says like he actually has readers), not a whole lot going on on the blog lately. This is due, partially to a lot of work, but also that I have been all caught up in the serious business of choosing a color for my fist KitchenAid ever :P. Long have i lusted for one and and now the longing for baking and meat grinding has toppled all economic sense (those things run $450 here in Sweden). Initially i thought as avant-garde as to go with their purple specimen...having scouted it out in real life im glad i did not, the color did not appeal to me at all, and shunning the traditional red (it is not the right kind of red for me) i went with the apple green.

Knowing this to be a somewhat shaky, and wonderfully nerdy, segway, i also decided to splurge on a new chefs knife (anyone out there with the same terrible humor as me will by now know the brand i finally went for). My research led me to oh so tempting specialty knifes from artisan craftsmen in Japan, but considering we are in somewhat of an recession i decided against those sweet Hattori blades. Back on earth i started eying the forged models from Global (the brand, I up until now have used and liked). I must admitt these where purchased more on looks than anything else and although happy with them their sharp ridge is tearing away at my finger. From the internet chatter I discerned that MAC might be the brand for me. The type of "for us in the know" type of knife my not so foodie friends would have never heard of, however, I would never buy a knife without holding it so I went in search of a store who had the MBK-80.

Eventually i did find one after some difficulty (ok they did not have them in the first two stores i checked), as it seem MAC has fallen out of favor with the people catering to the general public. Anyways Lagamati (, which is a great store, did have a wide selection of MAC knifes and a handy cuttingboard to try out goods. With knife in hand though i could tell this was not the blade for me. Don't get me wrong it is a superb knife, but it just did not feel right in the hand.

I don't know if it was the distraught look on my face or rehearsed sales tactic but the women working there suggested the more commercial (a redeeming factor is that it is endorsed by my favorite cooking show hos Alton Brown) and more expensive Shun knife. I was quick to dismiss it with my superficial claims of not liking the design, but once pushed in my hand i did not want to let it go. The D-shaped handle, edge and weight all felt tailored to me! (now do you get the segway ;))

Placing the order at work I also went for a Wüsthof Gourmet cleaver and two fermentation bread baskets as well as the all metal meat grinder for the KitchenAid....oh i cant wait until it all gets here!!

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Homage du grandma :)

So, like I said before. The kraut has had four weeks and could be considered ready. It is not a super long ferment so the texture is really nice and crunchy but the acid is wonderful. I must say it is the best kraut i have ever tasted, in fact it was so good i had to have a bowl of it before i used it all in this old worldesque soup recipe. Oh and I'm really exited by pickling now, i have bought a pickle crock so i wonder what will come next...i wonder what pickled fennel would be like?

Anyways off to this posts ”no twenties something guy in theri right mind would do that”-recipe. I'm making sauerkraut soup. Now this idea sparked up in my head as soon as i started making the actual kraut. Given that my grandparents are from Estonia i had stuff like that when i was a kid, the funny thing is i don't even think i liked sauerkraut back then, but the thought of creating this recipe sends tingling sensations of childhood memories down my spine.

As far as ingredients go its not complicated at all, that said this is not going to be glamorous or technical. This is real barnyard fare.

So to make this soup you will need:

Sauerkraut (homemade of course)
Caraway seeds
Smoked ham hoc
Brined pork belly
Baley or Oats (whole not flattened)

Slice the onions any way you want and throw them in a pan with the fat of your choice and sweat them of together with a pinch or three of whole caraway seeds (going with the high animal fat Estonian barn feel i went with butter but if i would have made choucrout garnie I think duck fat would be the fat of choice as it so often is, actually with some riesling instead of water and some additional pork sausages this would probably make mouths water all upp and down those French/Germanic regions).

Having softened the onion carefully arrange your perfect pig parts in the pan ;) (by the way, these are really cheap cuts so go out of your way to find the best pork you can) and cover the thing with as much sauerkraut (with pickling brine) as you deem so.

Cover with water and bring to a boil and then reducing the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook under a lid, checking back on it after 30 min to skim of any scum and then leaving it to its own devices for another 30. After this hour, taste the broth, chances are it will be pretty salty. The texture is also pretty runny despite all the collagen in the pork bones and skin you have put in there. The fix for this is starch. A potato in a salty stew will suck up some of the salinity, however i did not want to use that method here since i knew this soup traditionally contained a handful of barley to thicken. Being starchy i baked on it having some salt tampering ability as well...Ok so if you know your grains well i did not use barley, i had cooking-oats but deeming them theme appropriate i threw in about two hands worth. Simmer for about another hour or until the bone comes out of the hoc.

Take the beautiful hunks of meat out of the pot. Remove stuff you don't want to eat and portion up the meat so it is more manageable (the meat will be so tender you wont need a knife to do this, a fork will almost be overkill). The smoked hoc will have a deep red color strong smoky flavor and melt in your moth meat.

The pork belly might be the most daunting thing in this for some readers. I like to leave the skin on even after cooking because i like the flavor and texture of it. Also the taste of the fat is out of this world its so good!

Return the meat to the pot and your ready to serve. Once again this dish would do well with a whole bunch of parsley in it (buying some for the next time i eat this) both for its flavor that would co-mingle with the sour smoky goodness of the soup but also to bring some color balance to this admittedly esthetically challenged dish.

Oh and just because I'm a bitt odd, here is a honerary pictures of bone and skin which lend such wonderful body to soup!

Sauerkraut on Foodista

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Still alive, but not my camera? (Updated)

Hay, yeah i know i haven't posted in a while even though i should have plenty to brag about. Ok so we Swedish people don't really brag a lot generraly speaking, but yeah my duck breast turned out pretty good if i do say so myself. However i say good from a technical standpoint, I actually found it a bit bland, and i might have had too much duck fat for some time. I did find the whole process really exciting though so onward to new projects!

Coming up: My sauerkraut is done and I'll be doing something with that. New dry curing excursions, oh and i'm shopping around for new stuff for my kitchen :P

Oh and i would post pictures but my camera is dead....hopefully i will be able to resurrect it though.

Ok so here are the pictures of the sd card, terrible quality though :(


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Monday, March 30, 2009

Homage du Ruhlman

Enjoying a sudden burst of inspiration, or maybe falling for the seducing lure of the dark side, i awoke with the determination to cure meet. Now! Today! It all depends on how you look at it i guess, maybe I'm going crazy. Anyhow, i rushed out and descended on the previously scouted location (the Internet is a marvelous thing), and there it was. The answer to all my wants and desires...ok maybe not but the perfect solution for my minimal closet of a kitchen. This black tower, built to hold 18 bottles of wine in two different zones anywhere between 6C and 22C with insulated glass doors and that all important blue LED lighting...what is that word I'm looking for, Pimpin? ;)

I also bought a extra thermometer with a built in hygrometer to monitor the compartments, now i know that hygrometers are less than trustworthy, but hay better than nothing. I also had plans to find a moisturizing device from a cigar humidor. However, i tried the low-tech non gadget way recommended by Ruhlman and would you know it, with a bowl of water (salted to a 4% salinity to mirror the Mediterranean) the hygrometer jumped up to a steady 70-75% which is ideal! Now i only hope the thing isn't way of, guess only time, and experimentation will tell.

Eager to graduate from the vanilla side of the foodporn sphere and into the harder stuff i took my defrosted magret out of the fridge and lay it on a bed of sea salt. I know the measure of salt is probably completely useless but i confess i am holding Mr Ruhleman's hand through this one. After preparing the bed though I just made sure to tuck the breast in neatly, not really bothering with another helping of 225g of salt which is suggested in the book. It all depends on size anyways, and sending it of for a 24h sleepover in the fridge.

I was amazed to see the change in texture and color of the meat as i took it from its salty situation. Feeling a bit cocky i decided to deviate from the recipe and give the magret a last wash with cognac before applying some white pepper. (not anticipating a lot of flavor from the added alcohol but hay worth a try)

We are no longer in ”centerfold of the month” foodbloging, haha, bring forth the rope and suspension hooks... So yeah i did not get any cheesecloth as Ruhlman instructs us to (guess i let go of that hand) i pierced a overhanging flap of fat with a meat hook and went shibari on the poor thing with some butcher-twine before locking it in its new dungeon.

As a side note i also have this ”food calender” which i will use to record dates and weights any upcoming clientèle. The goal is a 30% weight loss before...ok I'm stoping here there are to many unappetizing jokes to be told now that i started walking down this path! Check back soon for more updates.

Salt Curing on Foodista

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Progress and projects

First of all, the sauerkraut is doing good (i know your all dying to know). It has just been a few days so not a lot of action from my bacterial friends yet, on the other hands there is no sign of intrusive moldy bacteria either which is also good.

The different ”lid” methods i used both seem to be working fine, however the water filled zip top bag did struggle to press the kraut down leaving cabbage exposed to air for a longer period of time, and i will have to see if this has any effects on the end product. Speaking of which it is so far away like three more weeks, i had trouble sleeping last night thinking of a recipe for it. I wont tell you what it is just yet, you'll just have to wait and see.

On the project side of things I'm guessing that the choice between a TV (i don't own one) and kitchen appliances is a pretty easy choice for any 26 year old guy...i don't even think i have to be gender specific here....most people my age would probably go for the TV before the industrial food processor. Me... I'm spending my weekends making sauerkraut so a food processor would actually be a pretty high tech investment.

Food processors aside, i don't think it is what I'm buying right now, there is something else that have been occupying my thoughts. I want to make sausages and dry cure meats. Living in a small apartment this presents somewhat of a challenge, but i am not deterred in the slightest. Here is the plan. I will buy a wine fridge, a humidor air moisturizer and maybe a fan. The combinations of these items should allow me to have that 15C 70% humidity conditions required to cure!

I will keep you guys updated.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday night sauerkraut

Having Estonian grandparents I was introduced to the wonderful world of cultured foods at a early age. However, my exposure to the the alluring flavors and techniques of fermentation have been missing for the most part, they are not really a part of Swedish everyday cuisine, but armed with a new resolve and wonderfully nerdy literature as Sandor Ellix Katz “Wild Fermentation” I have set out to change this.

Given the rather trendy minimalism of these types of foods this will be a short post, but one that will keep on living so to say as the kraut needs about four weeks to mature.

Ok, to make sauerkraut you only really need cabbage and salt (Estonian types use caraway but I have none left from the summer so this one will be kraut at its most simplest form). Most recipes actually call for pickling salt, but I will use sea salt since I don't really know if pickling salt is a readily available product here in Sweden or in the rest of the world. The thing with pickling salt is that it is a really small grain and dissolves in cold water. Sea salt does this too if it is fine enough and that is just a matter of how rough you are willing to get with your salt (if your lazy and want to waist energy other than your own I guess you could heat water with sea salt to make a brine, but that will be your own experiment).

The tricky thing with the recipes in wild fermentation and all the places I found with a quick search is that they give you the amount of salt you need in a volumetric measure. This is absolute madness! Granted the salinity of sauerkraut probably isn't as important as say sausage making, but still it annoyed me enough to go out and find the approximate weight of pickling salt, and as a average people seem to aim for a 2% salt which sound pretty decent to me plus it makes this whole thing way more scalable.

With my 2% salt safely in my mortar, which in this case turned out to be 38g, I proceeded to quickly slice the cabbage. Throw in salt and mix with clean hands (I don't want to culture anything that could have come home with me from the subway). Let the salt do its osmosis thing which pulls water out of the cabbage and softens it (30 minutes should be enough), but also makes it easier to stuff into a suitable fermentation vessel. I used to glass containers but I guess it really doesn't matter as long as it is food grade and not metal (mixing salt and metal for longer periods of time never seem like a good idea in my mind).

Eventually the salt will have pulled out enough water to actually cover the cabbage so you could say this recipe creates its own brine. The salt is however grateful for all the help it can get since we want the cabbage submerged as quickly as possible. I will try two methods, one is a simple weight the other looks pretty cool but I will have to see how it turns out, at least the idea of filling a bag with water and using it as the weight makes theoretical sense.

Store in a dark place and await the next post! (should probably be a bit colder than room temperature but hay I live in an apartment so I don't really have a root cellar)
Sauerkraut on Foodista

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