WellPreserved http://www.wellpreserved.ca Preserving, Cooking, Recipes and Writing Mon, 12 Jun 2017 22:59:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://www.wellpreserved.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/cropped-Untitled-32x32.jpg WellPreserved http://www.wellpreserved.ca 32 32 102843996 Cold Smoked BBQ Sauce Recipe http://www.wellpreserved.ca/cold-smoked-bbq-sauce-recipe/ http://www.wellpreserved.ca/cold-smoked-bbq-sauce-recipe/#respond Mon, 12 Jun 2017 22:59:03 +0000 http://www.wellpreserved.ca/?p=24118 I am going to break every rule of recipe writing in this post. I’m going to be approximate,give you guidance that you may or may not take, play loose and wild with temperatures and even use a technique different than the title. But I promise there’s a payoff. The purpose of this post is to...

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I am going to break every rule of recipe writing in this post. I’m going to be approximate,give you guidance that you may or may not take, play loose and wild with temperatures and even use a technique different than the title. But I promise there’s a payoff. The purpose of this post is to share a technique that you can use with almost any ingredients to make your own cold smoked BBQ Sauce Recipe. I’m going to share a handy trick and a little ratio that will make your BBQ sauce a surefire winner!

This is a sauce I made on the weekend (before it was blended). I forgot to add the garlic (more on that soon), the heat got out of control and turned my cold smoker into a hot smoker, I was too lazy to take the roots off (they are made of onions) and see the 4 dark rectangles on top of the onions? Those were pieces of mozzarella that I had leftover from making cheeseburgers from lunch – rather than running back to the house, I just laid the cheese on top of the onions to smoke. I over smoked the cheese (it was not really edible) but when mixed into the sauce it was fantastic!

I use a smoke maze (like this) to turn an unlit BBQ into a cold smoker (the team at Whiskey n’ Cleavers turned me on to these years ago). They burn wood pellets (I used Alder) and work similar to incense other than you have to light the ends with a blowtorch! If you’ve never used a torch before don’t be worried – they really are no more difficult or scary than a proper BBQ lighter.

As I said before, if you’re going to make this recipe don’t worry about messing it up. Had I properly cold-smoked my ingredients above the onions would not be wilted/cooked. I smoked them as you see in the picture so the onions that wilted literally dropped into the tomato juice underneath it. Any small amount of charring on the ends just became more flavor.

Cold Smoked BBQ Sauce Recipe – the Smoke

To make this sauce I start with a 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes (plus their sauce) or 1 quart jar of home canned tomatoes. I dump them in a stainless steel bowl that I have reserved for smoking (even when clean it shows the sign of hanging in smoke for hours on end). I then add 20-25% of their volume of other ingredients. Green onions, some jalapeños, garlic, leeks, cheese, whatever you want. The key is to add lots of few ingredients (i.e. lots of onions but not lots of onions and lots of garlic and lots of cheese etc). If the other ingredients can be left somewhat exposed (like I did by resting them on the bowl), it will increase the amount of smoke they take on. I then smoke the ingredients under a heavy smoke for 6-8 hours. I take it out when it tastes a little TOO smoky for my liking (the next phases will mellow it out).

Cold Smoked BBQ Sauce Recipe – Assembling the Sauce

Once I have my main ingredients smoked I mix them in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until all of the ingredients are cooked soft (the bulbs were still a little firm coming out of the smoker). I add a healthy pinch of salt and blend the ingredients into the sauce and continue to reduce it until it thickens to the consistency I am looking for.

As the sauce reduces I add my final two ingredients – honey and apple cider vinegar. This is the magical part of the recipe! Instead of predetermining how much to add, I add a ratio – 2 Tablespoons honey to every tablespoon cider vinegar. I taste as I go. it usually takes 8-10 Tablespoons of honey and 4-5 of vinegar to become smoky, sweet and tangy but you may want to adjust to your own liking!

Cold Smoked BBQ Sauce Recipe – Bonus Tips

Here’s two tips that you can ignore if you’d rather (I know some prefer a recipe to be short and sweet):

  1. Adding a final touch of salt and a portion of honey and vinegar at the very end of the cooking process will really brighten the sauce.
  2. If the sauce is too smoky for you, you can add beer and cook it down to the thickness you prefer. This will significantly lengthen the process but add another layer of flavor and reduce the smokiness.

Cold Smoked BBQ Sauce Recipe – The Recipe in the Picture Above

Here’s what we did to make this sauce on the weekend:

Cold Smoked BBQ Sauce Recipe
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 28 Oz can plum tomatoes with juices (or a 1-quart jar of preserved whole tomatoes)
  • 2 bunches green onions
  • 3 thick slices mozzarella cheese
  • Healthy pinch of salt
  • 5 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 10 Tbsp honey
  • Also requires:
  • Cold smoker
  • Wood (we used Alder Pellets)
  • Stainless steel bowl for smoking
Instructions
  1. Light your cold smoker and allow it to build smoke while assembling ingredients.
  2. Pour tomatoes and sauce into stainless bowl. Drape with onions and rest cheese on top of that. Place in smoker and smoke for 6-8 hours.
  3. Carefully transfer ingredients into a saucepan and simmer over medium until onions are soft.
  4. Add a generous (1/2-1 tsp.) coarse salt.
  5. Blend into a sauce and return to a simmer over medium heat.
  6. As the sauce reduces, add 1 Tbsp vinegar and 2 Tbsp honey and taste. Continue to add as it reduces, tasting as you go (as described above). Your taste preference may require more or less honey/vinegar.
  7. Taste and add salt if needed.
  8. Remember - you're a rockstar!

 

 

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Pickled Spruce Tips Recipe http://www.wellpreserved.ca/pickled-spruce-tips-recipe/ http://www.wellpreserved.ca/pickled-spruce-tips-recipe/#respond Tue, 30 May 2017 23:36:29 +0000 http://www.wellpreserved.ca/?p=24104 Spring has sprung! This is one of the best times of year to forage as there are so many options and there is little else coming up through the gardens and fields around us (with the notable exceptions of rhubarb and asparagus of course)! One of the easiest things to forage are spruce tips (the...

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Spring has sprung! This is one of the best times of year to forage as there are so many options and there is little else coming up through the gardens and fields around us (with the notable exceptions of rhubarb and asparagus of course)! One of the easiest things to forage are spruce tips (the soft new growth of the tree). There are many options to eat them including this pickled spruce tips recipe.

Spruce tips taste like a cross between rosemary and hops (the bitter taste you find in India Pale Ales/IPAs) although some will find the flavor that comes from the resin inside the tips to be harsh. You can soften their flavor by picking the smallest tips, soaking them in water for a few hours or transforming them into quick pickles where they take on a caper-like taste.

If you’ve never pickled before, stick with us – this recipe takes 5 minutes or less and will store on your shelf for months (and indefinitely in the fridge)!

When picking spruce tips you should know a few things:

  • You can pick them from any type of spruce tree you’d like. The blue spruce varieties tend to be stronger in flavour so I’d recommend you start with tender green tips.
  • The tips refer to new growth – this is a spring ingredient only. When the tips look and feel like the rest of the tree the season has passed you by.
  • When you pick a tip it will not grow back. You are best to pick 1 or 2 from each branch or pick in areas that are shaded by other branches and least likely to grow and pick a small amount from a number of trees rather than a large amount from a single tree.
  • You want to pick from a tree that is far enough from a road to avoid the tree absorbing runoff from local traffic.
  • Some people have a strong allergic reaction to spruce. You may want to test yourself with a small sample first.

Other than pickling spruce tips there are many things you can do/cook with them including:

  • Brewing beer (spruce beer is it’s own category of beer). The tips offset hops and create a bitter profile many love.
  • Eat them raw. This is especially true for the smallest tips which are very tender and mild in taste.
  • Infuse liquids by letting them soak (this is most common in water, vinegar or meat brines) to add a bitterness. They would be equally pleasant in something sweet like maple syrup or honey. Just submerge the tips and taste after a few hours and remove once you are happy with the flavor (for the sweet stuff you may want to wait a few weeks while the others should take a few hours on the counter).
  • Use in any recipe that calls for rosemary. Especially good with game and/or red meat and the flavors will pair well with the char flavor of a BBQ. They could also work to enhance the flavor of gravlax or bacon.
  • They are often chopped small and added to shortbread or muffins – I think cornbread would be a great pairing!

To pickle them you simply rinse them and cover them in a boiling brine made (mostly) of vinegar. The recipe below is very straightforward but note that I use ground black pepper in this pickle. While I use peppercorns for larger cucumber pickles I find that grinding it for this recipe will ensure you don’t bite into a spruce tip and accidentally chomp on a nugget of peppercorn!

In case you have no idea what you’d use these pickles for, here’s a few ideas:

  • Add a few spruce tips and a bit of the liquid brine to a Bloody Mary/Bloody Caesar.
  • Chop a few pickled spruce tips and add to a salad.
  • Eat alongside a sandwich, beer or salted nuts.
  • They are a great addition to a cheeseboard – the acidity and bitterness will be a pleasant contrast to the fat of the cheese.
  • Add a small touch of the vinegar to salad dressing, stir fries or brines to add a citrus-like acidity to whatever you are cooking.
  • Eat them out of the jar on a fork!

Pickled Spruce Tips Recipe

Pickled Spruce Tips Recipe
 
Author:
Recipe type: Quick Pickles
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 heaping TBSP honey
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 dried chilies
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 2 tightly packed cups spruce tips
  • 1 pint (500 ml) jar
Instructions
  1. Place the first 6 ingredients (everything BUT the spruce tips) in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  2. While the brine is heating, clean the spruce tips in a large bowl by rinsing in cold water.
  3. Pack the spruce tips in a mason jar.
  4. Once the brine reaches a boil, carefully pour into mason jar.
  5. Leave jar to cool on counter stirring 3 or 4 times in the first few minutes to ensure all spruce tips are submerged in the hot brine.
  6. Once cool cover with a lid. Will store in a cool dark place for months or indefinitely in the fridge (if it goes moldy you will know it has spoiled - otherwise this should be fine to eat).

What would you do with these?

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Pickled Fiddlehead Recipe http://www.wellpreserved.ca/pickled-fiddleheads-lessons-learned/ http://www.wellpreserved.ca/pickled-fiddleheads-lessons-learned/#comments Tue, 16 May 2017 11:11:58 +0000 http://wellpreserved.ca/?p=2980 We pickled fiddleheads on the weekend after plotting about them earlier in the month. Our trick for cleaning them was published here. I worked especially diligently in stuffing the jars tight.  I was actually feeling a compassionate twinge for how they were being treated when stuffing them in to the jars.  It was this rough...

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We pickled fiddleheads on the weekend after plotting about them earlier in the month.


Our trick for cleaning them was published here.

I worked especially diligently in stuffing the jars tight.  I was actually feeling a compassionate twinge for how they were being treated when stuffing them in to the jars.  It was this rough treatment that left me somewhat confused when I removed the jars from the hot water bath to find the contents floating in bring with very little solid ingredients at the bottom of the jar.

My dismay was short-lived.  Once the jars cooled I found that a quick shake of the jar dispersed it’s content and the jar became full again.  This is purely an aesthetic benefit but one that was important to me (after all, fiddleheads are just so darned cool looking).

It has also occurred to be that a quick blanching would allow the fiddleheads to become just a little more malleable and thus fit even more densely into the jars for next year.

Of note, a pound makes about 2 pints (approximately 4 cups or 1 litre/quart) of finished product.  At $6 per pound the price can add up in a hurry although my finished jars are still moderately priced at about $4 per jar.

This is an easy spring preserve. Similar to pickled asparagus you can use these in any dish you would eat relish with or use them as a pickle in their own right. Adding a bit of the brine to rice as it cooks (or mixing it into a Bloody Caesar/ Bloody Mary) is a great way to use it

Pickled Fiddleheads...
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Pickles
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds fiddleheads, cleaned per above
  • 1 large white onion, cut in half then sliced into ½ circles
  • 3½ cups white vinegar
  • 3½ cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp chili flakes
  • 4 tsp black peppercorns
Instructions
  1. Prepare jars, lids and waterbath pot for canning.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, blanch fiddleheads for 3 minutes. Drain and cool with cold water.
  3. To make the brine, combine vinegar, water, salt and honey and bring to a boil.
  4. While the brine is heating, pack 4 500 ml (pint) jars with fiddleheads, and (in each jar) add 2 garlic cloves, ½ tsp chili flakes and 1 tsp peppercorns.
  5. Cover fiddleheads with brine, leaving ½ inch headspace. Process for 10 minutes before removing, cooling and wiping jars.
  6. Store out of direct sunlight and wait 2 weeks before eating the first one!

 

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Fiddlehead Soup Recipe http://www.wellpreserved.ca/fiddlehead-soup_recipe/ http://www.wellpreserved.ca/fiddlehead-soup_recipe/#comments Thu, 11 May 2017 11:56:47 +0000 http://wellpreserved.ca/?p=13213 One of the things I most love about spring (especially late spring) is that it’s a shoulder season when it comes to ingredients.  Our pantry still has items common to our winter meals as well as some of the first items of the coming harvest.  This allows us to create combinations that are only possible...

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One of the things I most love about spring (especially late spring) is that it’s a shoulder season when it comes to ingredients.  Our pantry still has items common to our winter meals as well as some of the first items of the coming harvest.  This allows us to create combinations that are only possible a few weeks a year – such as this fiddlehead soup.

This is a play on two soups – potato leek and cheddar.  The combination is rich and it’s tough to believe there’s no cream used at all.

fiddlehead soup recipefiddlehea

Fiddlehead Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 6 cups
Ingredients
  • 3 cups of peeled potatoes cut into cubes (you can use more if you'd like)
  • 1-2 cups of fiddleheads (clean them by cutting off the rough end and running them under running water for a few minutes)
  • 0.5 tablespoons white wine vinegar.
  • 1 Quart (liter) of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1½ cups of shredded cheddar cheese (the older the better)
  • 2 onions chopped small
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (it's as much for flavour as it is for cooking)
  • Salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of herbes salees (or 1-2 teaspoons of dried herbs of your choosing)
Instructions
  1. Line the bottom of a thick, tall stock pot with the olive oil, pepper and chili flakes and heat on medium-high.
  2. As the oil starts to smoke, drop the onions and fiddleheads into the oil. Stir often and cook for 90 seconds.
  3. Season with herbes salees and white wine vinegar.
  4. Cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Combine all ingredients, raise temperature to high and bring contents to a hard boil.
  6. After boiling for 2 minutes, reduce to a simmer and continue the cooking process until potatoes are soft.
  7. Using a hand mixer or blender, carefully mix everything until it reaches the texture you want.
  8. Taste and consider adding more salt, pepper or vinegar.
  9. Finish with cheese and stir until it melts into the soup.
  10. Top with grated cheese and enjoy!

Note: for a variation on this, you could easily replace 1/3rd to 1/2 of the water or stock with beer (I’d prefer something light in color like a lager or an ale but that’s up to you).

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A Trick for Cleaning Fiddleheads http://www.wellpreserved.ca/a-trick-for-cleaning-fiddleheads/ http://www.wellpreserved.ca/a-trick-for-cleaning-fiddleheads/#comments Tue, 09 May 2017 09:52:30 +0000 http://wellpreserved.ca/?p=2963 Spring has sprung and that means we’ll soon be cooking fiddleheads in our kitchen! I used to avoid fiddleheads because the cleaning was so tedious (there are a lot of loose ‘bits’ of fern that most pick through to remove before cooking) but that changed when we came up with this idea for cleaning fiddleheads....

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Spring has sprung and that means we’ll soon be cooking fiddleheads in our kitchen! I used to avoid fiddleheads because the cleaning was so tedious (there are a lot of loose ‘bits’ of fern that most pick through to remove before cooking) but that changed when we came up with this idea for cleaning fiddleheads.

There are two parts to cleaning (three if you’ve foraged them):

  1. If they are foraged, many will have an kind of husk on them that is easy to remove though it`s a lot of work.  It`s remains affect you in step 3 below.  There`s not too many shortcuts for this step.
  2. Cutting a fresh cut on the stem.  This adds to the physical appearance of the jar and I believe it has to have a positive impact on taste (though you can treat that as a rumour).
  3. Removing the loose bits of fern that cling on to the fiddleheads increases flavor (as some of the `bits`may be dried or worse) and certainly creates a clearer brine.  This also applies to non-pickled fiddleheads of course too!

Our friend Margaret recently told me of people placing their crop on top of an old bed sheet and tossing them in a light wind.  Great idea but I was flying solo and had not wind.

Our solution to speed things up:

The technique:

  1. Place cooling rack (we use this one for preserves) on top of a pot with a small to medium amount of fiddleheads in it.
  2. Turn pot and rack upside down.
  3. Shake well over sink
  4. Flip everything over, give a rinse (even better if you can rinse on the rack – ours covers the entire sink so they drain right through.

It`s fantastically fast and removes a lot of extra work – any other tips or tricks out there?

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Introduction to Fiddleheads http://www.wellpreserved.ca/introduction-to-fiddleheads/ http://www.wellpreserved.ca/introduction-to-fiddleheads/#comments Thu, 04 May 2017 11:46:57 +0000 http://wellpreserved.ca/?p=2722 Fiddleheads are a big deal around here.  Dana loves them and I feel connected to my family when I eat them – my Mother is From Nova Scotia and these delightful little dudes and dudettes are staples in the Maritimes.  To cook them fresh is to briefly steam them; there`s nothing quite as good as...

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Fiddleheads are a big deal around here.  Dana loves them and I feel connected to my family when I eat them – my Mother is From Nova Scotia and these delightful little dudes and dudettes are staples in the Maritimes.  To cook them fresh is to briefly steam them; there`s nothing quite as good as a well-cooked vegetable and nothing quite as bad as it`s overcooked brethren.

Fiddleheads are essentially young ferns.  Make sure you `straighten` one out some time – you`ll get a far better understanding of what`s going on.  Fiddleheads disappear almost as quickly as they arrive as they are merely a small stop on the ride from sprout to fern.  Most of them will stretch toward the sun within a few weeks and lose their fractal appearance.

Most people cook them by steaming or boiling them though they are equally delicious when roasted in the oven or cooked on the BBQ, especially if you are using coal. Many insist they have to be well-cooked (some people can get an upset stomach if eating undercooked fiddleheads) but I’ve never found that to be an article. Cook them in any of the above methods and serve them with a splash of olive oil, lemon, salt and parmesan or cheddar. They can also be pureed into a soup

Once again, you can forage or buy these.  Some grocery stores carry them but they make a grand entrance at many farmer`s markets (including Wychwood, Brickworks and the St Lawrence Market in Toronto).  Foraging has obvious advantages ranging from price to personal satisfaction and one major disadvantage – you have to clean a small `scummy`husk off of them.  They are typically sold clean.  If you`ve never had them before, buy lots.  Lightly steamed with butter – I`m tempted to call them a better asparagus but I love it too much to do so.  🙂

Many people think of pickles as limited to cucumbers.  There are so many other options to explore, including fiddleheads (we’ll be publishing a recipe for pickled fiddleheads this month).  We pickled 6 pounds of garlic in September and we`re left with 3 jars – 1 is destined to a dear friend who loves garlic and if I don`t bring it to him soon he may have to wait until next year.  Pickled beans and asparagus are other sure-fire favourites.  They are great as a side dish, a treat from the fridge or added to a caesar.  We will definitely be trying fiddleheads this year.

I have decided to use a recipe from the Internet this year for our fiddleheads.  The source is an author named Langdon Cook; he wrote a book called the Fat of the Land which I am currently reading and adore.  Mr. Cook was an executive at Amazon.com before he decided to leave the corporate world and move off the grid to a small cabin with his wife and son.  His writing is great, informed and humble as he shares his successes and struggles while foraging in the Pacific Northwest. I believe he has the experience and knowledge which is why I`ll go with this one.  And his results look stunning!  Rather than steal a recipe, here`s a link.  Check out his blog – it`s a lot of fun.

Well that`s all for today`s post in our Preserving Spring series.  We are continuing to write one per day as a follow-up to the article in Edible Toronto.  We`re continuing to do one-a-day until complete and you can see the entire series by clicking here.

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Makdous – recipe inspired by Syrian Stuffed Eggplants Preserved in oil http://www.wellpreserved.ca/makdous-recipe-inspired-syrian-stuffed-eggplants-preserved-oil/ http://www.wellpreserved.ca/makdous-recipe-inspired-syrian-stuffed-eggplants-preserved-oil/#comments Tue, 21 Mar 2017 14:51:24 +0000 http://www.wellpreserved.ca/?p=24065 I learned of Makdous (Syrian eggplant preserved in olive oil) from the Syrian Cooking blog. They are traditionally made with baby eggplants and stuffed with walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes and served with almost any meal. My recipe is a big turn from tradition so I encourage you to go to the source to learn more...

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I learned of Makdous (Syrian eggplant preserved in olive oil) from the Syrian Cooking blog. They are traditionally made with baby eggplants and stuffed with walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes and served with almost any meal. My recipe is a big turn from tradition so I encourage you to go to the source to learn more about the traditional recipe as well as many great Syrian recipes.

Food is preserved in olive oil in many countries around the world. North American safety standards are far more cautious than many cultures and countries – for example, garlic left to marinate in olive oil on the counter is considered exceptionally risky and extremely dangerous in North America as the lack of oxygen created by the olive oil can create the perfect environment for botulism to thrive in. There are many countries worldwide who don’t have the same sense of caution with this recipe. I grew up in a house that routinely did this and can’t imagine doing it today – when I marinate garlic and olive oil I do so in the fridge and try to consume it within 10 days.

I mention the use of the fridge because it is the biggest variation in technique that I have made from the source. We transferred the jar of eggplant to the fridge immediately after covering with olive oil. What we gain in safety we lose in convenience and aesthetics – the cold temperatures of the fridge solidified the oil and made it cloudy at the same time. This is easily overcome by removing the jar or a few pieces of eggplant and allowing them to come to room temperature before serving.

I also opted for small, long eggplants because it is what was available. They fit very well inside a wide-mouth mason jar. I highly recommend packing them tightly to prevent floating. Stuff all of your eggplants before filling the jar – by waiting to fill the jar at the end it is easier to pack and keep the veggies from losing their filling.

This was indeed a messy recipe – and I’m a mess at the best of times! Using a big cutting board helped contain the mess and I recommend you doing the same.

Makdous - recipe inspired by Syrian Stuffed Eggplants Preserved in oil
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 5-6 small, long eggplants
  • salt
  • ½ - ¾ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ cup walnut, chopped
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Place eggplants in boiling water and weigh them down (placing another pot on top will do) to prevent floating.
  3. Boil until slightly soft (they should still hold their shape when you hole them by one end. About 3-5 minutes.
  4. Transfer to an ice bath to cool.
  5. Trim each end of the eggplants to the length of the jar (I try to make sure they are shorter than the shoulder of the jar).
  6. Slit the eggplant like a hot dog bun, making sure not to cut in half. Place on a cookie sheet or a plate and liberally scatter with salt (including inside the slit). You want to use more salt than you'd cook with - this will help release the liquid and help the eggplant keep it's shape when marinating in olive oil).
  7. Place another cookie sheet or plate on top of the eggplant and cover with 5-10 cookbooks to help push the water out from the veg. Leave for 4-6 hours.
  8. Rinse the eggplant (including the insides) thoroughly to remove salt. You may want to taste the eggplant - if it's too salty continue to rinse (resist the urge to soak them as this can make them absorb the water you just removed).
  9. Combine the feta and walnut and carefully fill each eggplant. They will take more stuffing than you expect. Push firmly to 'close' the eggplant which will help it hold the stuffing in.
  10. Place any remaining filling at the bottom of a clean wide-mouth mason jar. Carefully add the eggplants and cover in olive oil. Transfer to fridge (read the note above about cloudiness/solidifying of the contents).
  11. After 5 days they will be ready and should be eaten within the next 5-10 days or frozen for longer storage.

 

 

A giant shout-out to our friend AJ Messier of Hogtown Studios in Toronto for working with us to shoot this months photos. He let us take over his studio for a day (I made a HECK of a mess!) and the 3 of us had a blast shooting and are so grateful for his talent and friendship. AJ often shoots sports, motion, weddings and other topics – head over to his site and check out his work!

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Libyan Quick Pickles – Mseyer http://www.wellpreserved.ca/libyan-quick-pickles-mseyer/ Tue, 14 Mar 2017 18:10:32 +0000 http://www.wellpreserved.ca/?p=24066 I first read about Msyer (Libyan quick pickles) on the Libyan Food blog. They were similar to many quick pickles that I make and I found it interesting that they also use lemon as part of their pickling acid. But the idea of using coriander, cumin and chopped parsley in a quick pickle was something...

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I first read about Msyer (Libyan quick pickles) on the Libyan Food blog. They were similar to many quick pickles that I make and I found it interesting that they also use lemon as part of their pickling acid. But the idea of using coriander, cumin and chopped parsley in a quick pickle was something entirely new to me.

I stuck close to the ingredients listed but changed the technique a fair bit. I’m a big fan of letting quick pickles sit in salt for a few hours to pull initial moisture out of them which adds to their texture and allows them to absorb the acid better. We also added a touch of honey for sweetness ], increased the amount of vinegar and cut it with water to cover the veggies with brine for quicker absorption. Although you can eat them after 6-12 hours they were even better a week later.

These pickles can be eaten with anything – Libyan Food recommends eating them with anything steamed and notes that they are used as an accompaniment to many dishes.They are full of flavor so subtler dishes  (such as white fish) may disappear when eating them. You may also want to back of the chilies but I love the hot stuff..

Libyan Quick Pickles - Mseyer
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped into discs
  • 2 persian cucumbers, chopped into discs
  • 3 green chillies (to taste), chopped into discs
  • 1 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 Tbsp parsley stems, chopped fine
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds (I love their crunch)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ⅓ cup white vinegar
  • Juice of 2 lemons plus their zest, chopped fine
  • ½ cup water
Instructions
  1. Combine the carrot, cucumbers, chillies, garlic, parsley, coriander, cumin and salt in a bowl and cover. Place on counter for 3 hours *you will notice that the salt will pull liquid from the vegetables).
  2. In a fine strainer (one that will prevent the coriander from escaping) rinse the vegetables until they don't taste overly salted (you can soak them for an hour if needed after rinsing).
  3. Bring cumin, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest and water to a boil over high heat.
  4. Carefully pour boiling liquid over veggies in a heat proof jar (such as a mason jar) and allow to cool. Place in fridge for a minimum of 6 hours and taste will improve over next 4-7 days. Eat within 1 month.

A giant shout-out to our friend AJ Messier of Hogtown Studios in Toronto for working with us to shoot this months photos. He let us take over his studio for a day (I made a HECK of a mess!) and the 3 of us had a blast shooting and are so grateful for his talent and friendship. AJ often shoots sports, motion, weddings and other topics – head over to his site and check out his work!

 

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Introduction to Smoking Food http://www.wellpreserved.ca/introduction_to_smoking_food/ Mon, 13 Mar 2017 18:35:49 +0000 http://www.wellpreserved.ca/?p=19904 Todays post is a quick introduction to smoking food – entire books have been written on the subject and we’ve provided a deeper dive in our cookbook as well. This is really an introductory primer – if any experienced eyes have further guidance/suggestions I’d love to hear about them in the comments and will add...

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Todays post is a quick introduction to smoking food – entire books have been written on the subject and we’ve provided a deeper dive in our cookbook as well. This is really an introductory primer – if any experienced eyes have further guidance/suggestions I’d love to hear about them in the comments and will add them as we go! Smoking food is one of the oldest food preservation techniques in the world – and it can also be one of the most debated. Some argue on the definition of the two main smoking techniques (cold smoking and hot smoking). Others debate that it’s rarely a preservation in it’s own right as it’s often combined with another technique such as dehydration (as is the case with smoke-dried chipotle peppers) or curing (such as smoked bacon).

Introduction to smoking food

I draw the line at flavor – if the majority of taste of a preserve comes from smoking, I consider smoking to be the technique that defines the preserve. This makes categorization easy and, I believe, most accurate. For example, a cut lemon will last days in your fridge while the same lemon, after being cold smoked, will last for weeks or longer (I know this because I ‘lost’ a jar of said citrus in the back confines of my fridge over the summer).

Introduction to Smoking Temperatures

There is plenty of discussion on the difference between cold smoking and hot smoking. I have read convincing arguments where temperature defines the technique (the dividing line is usually around 90 degrees), other arguments that divide the techniques by equipment/setup (Harold McGee claims that hot smoke means the food is smoked in the same chamber as the coals) and more.

Once again, I lean to the side of simplicity for my definition. Hot smoke, to me, is any instance where you are cooking and adding smoke at the same time where cold smoking is a process used to impart flavor without significantly altering the properties of the food other than the taste. If you’ve ever tried to cold smoke cheese in the middle of summer you may find cold smoking to be a challenge (one that is surmountable) due to the heat captured by your smoker sitting in the sun.

Hot smoking is often done in a smoker which is a special cabinet which captures heat and smoke. You can purchase units which regulate temperature as consistently as your home oven does or create your own cabinet which you feed with coal or other wood to smoke. Many people will hot smoke with a BBQ and it is most common with BBQs that burn wood or lump coal but others will add coal/lump wood in the base of their grill or on an unused section of the BBQ). Hot smoking is common for cooking pulled pork, brisket, chicken, ribs and other proteins.

A cold-smoker can also be purchased but is easy to create in any container at all. We use an unlit BBQ and place coals on an unused section of the grill or use a pellet smoker such as this one which is lit with a blowtorch and smoulders to produce smoke while adding minimal heat). It is perfect to smoke bacon, gravlax, cheese and even chocolate though the ‘meltier’ items work best in winter to keep things relatively cool.

Types of Wood for Smoking Food

There are two things to consider when choosing wood for smoking:

  • Species, including oak, hickory, pecan, mesquite, maple, apple, cherry and many more. Fruit trees typically produce lighter tasting smoke that can be used for subtle flavors (though given enough time any type of wood will add plenty of smoke to your meal) while others produce heavy smoke and flavor. Oak, hickory and cherry are great places to start and can be combined as well.
  • Format of wood including:
    • Lump/chunks. Common with the most experienced smokers are these large pieces of wood (often about the size of a softball) which are generally turned to coal before being added to the smoker (though not always).
    • Chips. Most common in hardware stores and often shown on cooking shows. Irregular pieces of wood that are small. Often soaked before using to prevent flare-ups (fire) and often added in a bundle of foil and tossed below the grill of a BBQ.
    • Pellets. They look like rabbit food and are, essentially, compressed sawdust. Good pellets have no filling and are predictable, stable and rarely flare up due to their smooth surface (compared to chips).

Although many will disagree with me, all 3 are perfectly suitable. I prefer using lump or pellets and keep several types of wood handy at all times for any smoking need.

Learning the Process

Learning to smoke is largely trial and error. You should know that there is such a thing as over-smoking food (it will taste like an ashtray) but that’s a pretty extreme event and nothing to be overly concerned with. We generally smoke our food for 5-10 hours but the amount of time varies wildly depending on the amount of smoke the smoker is producing, the ambient temperature of the backyard and the type of food we’re smoking. It’s a difficult process to truly screw up so my best advice is get out there and give it a try!

 

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Smoked French Onion Soup (Recipe) http://www.wellpreserved.ca/smoked-french-onion-soup-recipe/ Mon, 13 Mar 2017 00:36:25 +0000 http://www.wellpreserved.ca/?p=19911 My Mother is French Canadian and onion soup was a staple in our house. It was such a staple that I included a recipe for it in Batch. Mom generally made it without a recipe and followed her guts. We had just made 4 quarts of smoked bone broth and I knew I had to...

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My Mother is French Canadian and onion soup was a staple in our house. It was such a staple that I included a recipe for it in Batch. Mom generally made it without a recipe and followed her guts. We had just made 4 quarts of smoked bone broth and I knew I had to turn some of it into this soup.

Notice that the bread is slightly charred? You can avoid that by covering all of it in cheese – but if you’re making this with smoked bone broth and want to accent the flavors it’s actually lovely to introduce more flavor by charring the bread (just soak it in the soup before consuming it). Our friends Nick and Courtney of La Tartine even popularized burnt toast as an ingredient for cooking and we’ve been using it since reading about their experiments.

Since this was a departure from a classic I wanted to make sure I had the fundamentals locked in place so I decided to base this recipe on one by Julia Child. She called for cooking the onions with a lid which was something I had never done – the results were PHENOMENAL. The cover produced steam which allowed the onions to cook through and produce their own basting which was almost like a cream-glaze that was sublime. I will use this technique for the rest of my life for making soup and stews as the results were unlike any I had seen before.

As in Batch, I am adamant that onions should be cut into strips for soup as they hold their structure better (in batch we intentionally cut some into rings so they fall apart and add more onion flavor to the soup). I have modified and simplified some of Julia’s recipe and added far more onions to match the soup of my youth.

Smoked French Onion Soup (Recipe)
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp butter + 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 pounds onion, cut into strips
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 sprigs thyme
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • ½cup white wine
  • Bay leaf
  • 6 cups smoked beef broth
  • Bread (we often use a half bun per bowl) and Gruyere cheese to serve.
Instructions
  1. Melt 2 Tbsp of butter and oil in a pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, garlic, season with salt and pepper and add thyme, cayenne, maple syrup and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring a few times to prevent burning.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high with lid off and cook, stirring frequently until onions are browned.
  4. Move the onions to the outside of the pan and add the flour and remaining 3 Tbsp butter (this is called a roux). stir to make a paste of the butter and flour and cook for 4-5 minutes until brown. Remove pot from heat and add the wine, a bit at a time to the flour followed by the stock. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a bare simmer over medium-high and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. To serve, toast the bread (I like to fry it in butter in a frying pan over medium-high) and pour warm soup into an oven-safe bowl. Top with bread and cheese and brown under the broiler of your oven set to high.

If you happen to have Herbes Salees, this is a WONDERFUL recipe to use them with – just replace the salt as you cook.

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