Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas on Lake Constance

In the Southern-German city of Konstanz, you can begin dinner with a light salad of mâche grown on the nearby Reichenau (also known as the Gemüseinsel, or "vegetable island"), continue with fried trout that was caught in the Bodensee that very morning, and pair it with a Konstanzer white wine. In the village where I'm spending Christmas, the butcher and his slaughterhouse are in the middle of the town, so you really know where your meat comes from and how it got to your plate. None of this requires an elaborate ideology or a well-advertised locavore movement. Nor does it require outrageous effort or an enormous investment of cash. It's just, well, it just happens to be normal to eat food that grows nearby, and when it's in season.

I write this because as attractive as I find the idea of eating locally, organically, and seasonally, I do wish it were less of a hassle. Grocery shopping and daily cooking are work enough on their own, without having to do a Master's thesis on the sourcing of pork butt before I even start the marinade.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bine aţi venit! (Welcome!)

I just wanted to extend a quick welcome to visitors who arrived here from the Foodie Blogroll.You can imagine my delight when I saw that I made it onto the "Most Recent" list.

Do explore my little blog, and leave me your comments. I'm also happy to get links to your own recipes if you think I might enjoy them.

In the next couple of days, I plan to post recipes for Moroccan orange salad, Indian baigan masala (stuffed eggplants), a lemony shrimp stir fry, and an African black-eyed pea curry (my simplified version of a ridiculously delicious Madhur Jaffrey recipe).

And, when the holidays give me enough time, I hope to write about Texas food fairs, as well as the ethnic eating and grocery shopping to be had around Dallas.

To end in another idiom: y'all come back now!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Medieval Romanian Cookery in translation: "Add in a foot of veal for inquiring"

One of the neat things about having a counter is that I can see how people reach this website. One reader, for example, searched for "medieval romanian cookbook" and, because I mentioned Nicholas Orme's Medieval Schools in a previous post, was offered this blog as a first-page result on Google.

This made me, of course, do the same search, which led me to a couple of websites, both associated with Society for Creative Anachronism activities. One offers some page scans from a 1997 edition of a seventeenth-century cookbook. (And yes, the seventeenth-century was still the Middle Ages in Romania. Long story.) The modern edition, by Ioana Constantinescu and Matei Cazacu, is titled, "O lume într-o carte de bucate: manuscris din epoca brâncovenească." For those of you who read Romanian, David D. Friedman offers a section on fish preparations here.

Headcheese and Brains

When a friend wrote recently on his blog, Food With Legs, about making brawn, headcheese, pâté de tête, whatever you want to call it, I wrote him saying that I knew the food well from my childhood as piftie. And there was nothing that could ever get me to eat it again.

I should probably explain that the Romanian version of headcheese not only involves odd pig parts suspended in gelatine, but the aspic is also garlic-flavoured. Now I love garlic, and regularly double the amount of garlic I put in every recipe, but the smell of the garlic-gelatine permeating the house as my parents cooked this piftie was really something else. I would carefully avoid the dining room, where the headcheese was put to cool, as long as it was there, and had a look of sheer disgust on my teenage face for as long as the piftie was around.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Making Greek Ricotta Dumplings, and then throwing a bunch of tasty ingredients on them

The New York restaurant Kefi is one of those places that's my idea of a good place to eat. Casual, perhaps a bit too loud (ok, so that part isn't so ideal), with inexpensive, moderate portions that are very, very tasty. Perhaps the most delicious dish I have had there is the small, warm bowl of sheep's milk dumplings, tomatoes, pine nuts, and spicy lamb sausage. So you can imagine my delight when I saw that blogger Peter Minakis put up a recipe for ricotta dumplings. It is based on the recipe Michael Psilakis, the chef of Kefi, features in his new book How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lentil, Apple, and Arugula Salad

This is a very simple salad that is great for lunch or dinner. It is both light and incredibly filling. Despite the fact that I made a double portion the last time I made it, resulting in my having to eat this one salad for an entire week, it still tasted good days later.