02/18/16

Everything Spiced Cheese Ball

They say that the best bagels are made in New York, but I’ve also read that Montreal makes a pretty sublime one as well. I haven’t yet had the good fortune to make it to either of these places, so I can’t speak to the validity of these claims.

All I know is the everything spiced ones are my favourite.

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The recipe that follows is for an everything bagel spiced cheese ball that is great to bring along for a party!

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Everything Spiced Cheese Ball

(recipe adapted from Bon Appetit)

6 oz cream cheese

2 Cups old cheddar, grated

2 Tbsp butter

15 chives, minced

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp Worchestershire sauce (skip if you are serving to vegetarian friends)

5 cloves garlic

1 shallot

1/2 Cup vegetable oil

1 tsp poppy seeds

1 tsp sesame seeds

Directions

  • In a food processor, process smooth the cream cheese, grated cheddar cheese and butter.
  • Add in the chives, salt, black pepper, and Worchestershire sauce (if using), pulsing to combine.
  • Get out a piece of cling film, and tip out the contents of the food processor onto it.
  • Gather the cling film up around the cheese, using your hands to shape it into a ball.
  • Pop the cheese ball into the fridge for an hour or two to firm up, so that it will hold it’s shape. In the meantime, you can prepare the everything spice!

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  • Thinly slice the shallot and garlic cloves.
  • Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat.
  • Shallow fry the sliced alliums in the oil until they turn crisp and just golden. Then scoop them out of the pan and set on paper towels to drain; they go from done to overdone quite quickly, so watch with care!
  • Mix together the crispy shallot and garlic pieces with the poppy seeds and sesame seeds. Tada! Everything spice!
  • When you’re ready to serve, unwrap the cheese ball, and coat it in the everything spice. Delightful!

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  • Serve with crackers, or even more true to form, bagel chips!

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10/14/14

Honk Honk

Mr has been out and about hunting this season, and he has had some success!

Hello Goose!

Aren’t these just gorgeous? So pretty to look at.

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How easy is it to break down a goose? Not so easy as the videos on the internet make it seem. That may be more a matter of being well practised and less a matter of the job being a difficult one, though.

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Goose Sausages

(recipe adapted from this recipe from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook)

1500 grams goose (I used meat from both the breast and the leg)

1000 grams fatty pork

1/2 tsp caraway seed

3 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp kosher salt

2 Tbsp marjoram

1 Tbsp black pepper

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 Cup red wine, chilled (you’re looking for something here with some red fruit and woodsy-ness to it)

Directions

  • First, trim away any thick silverskin or connective tissue that is opaque from the meats. The goose won’t have much, it’s the pork you’ll have to go over.
  • Cube up your goose and pork into small enough pieces that they will fit into the m0uth of your grinder. Lay out on a wide flat receptacle, I use a baking sheet, and pop into the freezer to chill. With the meat spread out over a large surface area rather than in a pile, as it would be in say a bowl, it will chill faster. I like to get the meat to a point where, if you pinch a cube between your fingers you can feel little ice crystals but the meat is still pliable.
  • Pop the wine into the freezer too! You want it to be quite cold when you add it to the sausage mix, starting to freeze around the edges.
  • While the meat is getting cold, give the caraway seed a bit of a bash in a mortar and pestle, or a brief couple of pulses in a spice grinder. The seeds just need to be opened up a bit to release their flavours, they don’t need to be pulverised.
  • At this time, I empty the caraway from the mortar and toss in the garlic cloves and salt. I use the pestle to grind the garlic and salt together into a paste. If you aren’t a mortar and pestle fan, a similar effect can be achieved by mincing up the garlic, sprinkling salt over top, and mashing it into a paste with the flat of a knife.
  • Once the meat has chilled, run it through a grinder on a medium grind (7 mm plate).

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  • Sprinkle over top the ground meat the garlic paste, caraway seed, marjoram, black pepper and Dijon mustard. Mix well to disperse the seasoning evenly though the meat.
  • Retrieve the wine from the freezer and pour it into the sausage mix.
  • Continue to work the sausage mix with your hands until it binds. You will know that you have achieved a bind when everything gets really sticky and holds to your hands.
  • Stuff the sausage mix into casings, and then twist off into links.
  • Let your sausages sit in the fridge for a few hours before cooking any up, this bit of a rest lets the sausages tighten up and all the flavours come together a little better. If you do not plan on freezing these sausages, eat them within a week. Freezing is a great option though, because you can take out and cook the amount you need as you desire.
  • Enjoy!

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Mr says:The goose sausage is particularly awesome for me, as I had never hunted anything successfully before. I’m glad it turned out so well. From the field to the plate in less than 48 hours.

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02/6/14

Nacho Party

When we were planning the party for Mr’s birthday, I asked him what kind of cakes he wanted. As always, the January baby wanted something frozen. Raspberry eskimo pie of course!

Then I asked him if there was anything special he would like for food at the party. And, smart man he is, he suggested nachos!

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Nachos are such a good idea for a party. It is few and far between that you meet a person who wouldn’t eat a nacho or two. Picky eaters, or those with dietary restrictions, need not be left out either: you can makes tray without the meat for vegetarians, if you don’t like jalapenos or olives you can leave them off for a batch. And for a party, they’re a breeze to serve. Before the event you miss en place, and then when guests you arrive you assemble and pop the tray into the oven until they’re crispy and melty.

After making some truly delicious carnitas, and chopping all of the other toppings into a state of preparedness, I was ready for a nachopalooza to take place. But then a friend graciously brought pizzas, and the partygoers got into the other side along snacks, and by the time the nachos made their debut, people had already kind of filled themselves. Two trays went out. And one of them was smallish, because it was for our two animal free attendees (shout out to vegetarian friends!).

We could have been disheartened, our excellent nacho laden party plan did not go off as expected. But no, it turned out kind of perfect. The next day, the day that was Mr’s real 30th birthday, Mr and I had a little nacho party of our own and each of us doctored up our own idealized nacho plates. YUM!

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Party Carnitas

(recipe adapted from My Kitchen Escapades)

2 kg boneless pork butt

2 or 3 cloves of garlic

1 onion

2 tsp salt

1 orange

1 tsp pepper

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp oregano

2 Tbsp lime juice

Directions

  • Trim excess fat from the pork shoulder, and then cut it into rough two inch cubes.
  • Mince the garlic. Take the skin off of the onion and cut it into 8 pieces.
  • Cut the orange in half, and juice it. Keep the spent orange halves, they go in the pot too!
  • Assemble all of the ingredients in your slow cooker (or a Dutch oven if you want to do the braising step in the oven. See note below!)
  • Cook until the pork will fall apart when prodded with a fork. I set my slow cooker to low for 5 hours to do this.
  • Separate the solids from the liquid with a slotted spoon. Discard the orange halves.
  • Give the meat a little bit of time to cool before shredding it. In the mean time, take the remaining liquid from the braise and heat it on the stove to reduce to just about a cup.
  • Using two forks (or the paddle beater on your mixer!) shred the pork.
  • Spread your carnitas out on a baking sheet, and once the braising liquid is done reducing, pour it over top. Flavor city!
  • Put the pan under the broiler so that the carnitas brown up nicely and get crisp on the edges ~5 minutes. Turn everything with a wide spatula and give it another 5 minutes or so. Excess liquid should evaporate off in this time.
  • Enjoy your carnitas in tacos, or with some rice and beans, or on nachos!
  • **Note: If you would like to do the braising in your oven, the recipe I adapted from suggests combining all of the ingredients in a Dutch oven, and getting it to a boil on the stove top before clamping on a lid and letting it all braise in a 300° oven for ~2 hours. Then follow the rest of the steps as advised.**

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I know what you’re thinking: braising, shredding, reducing, and then broiling? That is a commitment!

And it is, kind of. But this is not a time to be commitment phobic. This is a commitment worth making. Trust the pork. :)

Our kitchen smelled like heaven when the meat was braising. I was a little bit worried, because the sweet scent of the orange was so strong until I started reducing the sauce, and I didn’t want to have sweet carnitas. Needles to say, I was being anxious for no reason for the 47 millionth time in my life. But I thought I would let you know, in case you dear reader may also be prone to the kind of worry mentioned above.

I made the carnitas two days before the party, and had to do my best not to snack away on it before the anticipated nachopalooza. The seasoning is so lovely. As for texture though, this is where the recipe is really a home run: you have the fall apart tenderness from braising, but also some bite and browned flavor from those fleeting minutes under the broiler. I will certainly be making this recipe again.

A note or two on the recipe I was working off of: I was instructed to reduce the broiling liquid until it was syrupy. It never got anywhere near syrupy, or even thickened really. Your goal should be to get it to a cup or so, don’t worry if it doesn’t get thick. Mine never did. Also, Carole suggests discarding the onion at the same time as when you discard the orange halves! DO NOT DO IT! The bits of onion are such punches of flavor, it would be a crime to put them into the trash. Just keep them in with your carnitas. You’ll be happy you did!

One year ago: Tequila Sunset Hot Pepper Jelly

The year before that: Orange Cardamom Cookies

And the year before that: Roasted Chicken and Sausage with Potatoes