27 September 2009

Elvis has left the building: Meet my nemesis

Meet my nemesis: Tamias minimus.

Yes. You read correctly. Nemesis.

Many of us have one. Heck. Some of us have more than one.

It could be the guy who always gets the last double chocolate doughnut with the sparkly sprinkles on the rack leaving you with the stale unglazed-because-they-forgot-to-ice-them generic-things-that-could-be-better-used-as-hemorrhoids-cushions doughnuts; the woman who, regardless of which store she's in, can always get an eager and helpful sales clerk, while you've an armload of items to try on and the clerk guarding the changerooms is too busy texting her friend to bother unlocking a door for you, or the gal who can always get the cutest pair of shoes in her size, at 60 per cent off regular price because her feet are just so dainty. (Umm...yeah--I'm the one who usually gets the last good doughnut, sales clerks (and waiters) fawn over me and umm...I have teeny feet).

I hear you cooing over the cute, fuzzy wittle woodland cweature above. "How could such an adorable little thing be a nemisis?" you ask.

Trust me. They're only cute and fuzzy when they're in a woodland setting. They are NOT cute and fuzzy when they're running through and hiding in your main floor. When they are running through and hiding in your main floor, they are what I call "vermin."

And while I've not had dealings with this particular chipmunk before, I've lived the main points of this tale before. We have a history.

I had a rotten morning, punctuated by miscommunications and my jumping to conclusions; by noon I was hoping for a do-over. Since I don't have a TARDIS, my next best option was to ponder my stupidity by planting some lovely violet and plum coloured icicle pansies and assess the bunny damage to my plants. The front doors were wide open, so I could traipse in and out as my little bewildered heart pleased.

That's when the little begger decided to stage a home invasion.

Sure...strike when I'm down. I expect that from my enemies.

Admittedly, I didn't notice anything was wrong at first. I cleaned up from playing in the mud continued my contemplative therapies, this time armed with bucket, broom and mild abrasives.

And that's when I saw him...standing all cock-of-the-walk-like on my credenza. Sure he could have been mistaken for a stuffed animal (my little stuffed
Cthulhu does live in the dining room), but really given my B&E history with others of his ilk, I have no desire to keep reminders around.

Insert monosyllabic expletive *here.*

It scampered into hiding, behind the stack of cookery books I have yet to review.

Insert monosyllabic expletive *here.*

There's poo and pee all over the credenza. There's poo and pee all over a shelf I've set up for food photography. A teak shelf. A teak shelf that's now chipmunk pee stained.

Insert monosyllabic expletive *here.*

I clean it up and go into the kitchen. There's poo in several places...including the cat's water dish and my aprons' tails.

Insert monosyllabic expletive *here.*

Darn you, you little cute furry little woodland creature who's out of his element!

I summoned the cats.

The cats did not come.

I went to look for the cats.

Hagia was on in the TV temple, snoozing on the couch. She opened her big pumpkin eyes.

"Hagia. Time to earn your keep. Go stalk and eat the chipmunk."

She closed her big pumpkin eyes and went back to sleep.

Zeus was in the carton behind the fireplace, willing himself to be invisible...or so I think...I couldn't see him.

Insert monosyllabic expletive *here.*

After almost three hours, camped out in the dark, eyes trained on the open kitchen door, ironically quiet as a mouse (well, not so quiet--I was occasionally updating
my Twitter feed about this), the chipmunk exited my condo.

Yes, after a few false starts, Elvis has left the building...

...but not before helping himself to the cats' food and water. The door was closed after him.


I went into the dining room to take a look at whatever damage the critter caused.

I might as well have not cleaned up the dining room after lunch. I'd heard little animals void their bowels while running, to make them lighter, ergo, faster. Apparently chipmunks are poo-propelled as its output rivalled that of a bull moose.

I even found poo in the bowls of my mini muffin tin.

Insert monosyllabic expletive *here.*

A few hours later, my fingers wrinkled from rinse water and the air pungent with bleach and other cleaners, and every surface Elvis obviously touched, ran over or simply looked at was scrubbed within an inch of their anthropomorphic lives, I was in need of a bit of sweet solace.

I've been preoccupied with chocolate chip cookies as of late. It's very much unlike me--to crave chocolate chip cookies, that is. Growing up, My Dear Little Cardamummy baked the occasional batch, but returning to a cookie-perfumed house was not the norm.

My little kitchen must have churned a score or two of chocolate-studded biscuits since the end of August. The main problem being I've misplaced the slip of paper that holds my favourite chocochip cookie recipe. I've tried several recipes and while I've not replicated the *one,* This version by Alton Brown is a step in the right direction.

Unlike most other cookie recipes where you start by creaming butter, sugar and eggs and then add the dry ingredients, this one is put together as you would muffins: sift the dry ingredients together, then mix the wet ingredients, tip the wet into dry, give it a stir and drop onto the prepared sheet.

The number of cookies you get are entirely dependent upon the generosity of your cookie spoon. I used my 1.5 tsp sized spoon and could get about five dozen cookies.

The result are lovely chewy-crisp flat cookies, perfect with a cup of coffee.

Even more perfect after yet another run in with your nemesis.

Chocolate Chip Cookie No. 10
I'm Just Here for More Food by Alton Brown (opens into my Amazon.ca shop)

150g ap flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g sugar
145g brown sugar
225g salted butter, melted
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla
300g chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 180C/375F; line baking sheets with parchment.

Sift dry ingredients together.

Mix wet ingredients together; Tip into dry and stir until combined. Fold chocolate chips into batter.

Drop by spoonful onto prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2.5 cm between each blob. Bake for 6-9 minutes or until golden brown.


Chipmunk photo credit:
Douglas Haase, via Flickr.

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17 September 2009

Guest post by Mr. Bean: My Humman Cat is bizy

Hallo all my luvelly humman cats!

Did you miss me? I missed you! You all look so pretty!

Oh look there are new hummin cats here! Halloo to you too! Am I not handsum and cute?

You don't know hoo I am?

My name is Mr. Bean (my frendz call me Beanie). I used to live with my humman cat but I don't any more. I live with Gramma and Grampa. It's nicer here. They feed me chicken all the time and they cuddle me all the time and I get to help Grampa fix things. Last week I soopervized cuz he had to fix the water pipes. It's so hard making shure he does a good job. He doesn't listen to me at all. I keep rolling the pipes to make shure they roll good and he takes them away from me. But Gramma sometimes gives me something called "pork" and it's gud. She puts lots of nice things on the meat to make it taste yummy!

Bestest of all iz there's no Hagia and Zeus here and I gets all the chicken and cuddles. I'm NOT greedy. I deserve it all and more!

My humman cat (she will always bee my humman cat) told me that when she was on hollydaisies her friend told her that she liked it when I writed to all you nice peepuls. She aksed me if I could write today because she is so buzzy.

I don't no what she does all day. She was never there when I lived with her. So if I can't see her she can't be doing anything? Rite? She told me she has to be gone at sumthing called a Ree-treat. She said it was three daise of meetings for a course she's taking. She says she will be working very hard.

A ree-treat? It sounds like all she will be doing is geting lots and lots of treats! Like cakes and cookies and roast beef and chicken. Imajine three days of eating all them lovely fuds! That's not hard! That's FUN!!!!

I don't know if you know but Jasmine had a burthday a foo days ago. She always has yummy things with Gramma and Grampa and I hoped there would be some yummy things for me to eat too.

There wasn't. She asked for fish.

I don't like fish.

I like chicken. If she loved me she would have asked for chicken so I could have some. She can keep her yukky fish.

I didn't get any yummy food for supper. Lookit how mean she is!

I thought I might have some yummy cake and icing. I like icing. But it was chocklit.

I asked for some and she said "No Beanie. You can't have any. It's poysunus for pussycats."

But she's a humman cat! If I can't have any, she shouldn't have any.

It's not fair. I'm a good boy and I give nice hugs and I purr. I should have some cake. I looked sad at her with my speshul look that says I'm a good boy who has never eaten anything in my whole entire life. She's so mean. I didn't get anything good to eat. Only cat fud.

I wasn't allowed to have any of the burthday yummys she made for her frenz at wurk. I didn't even SEE the yummy things...except for theese pictures. They are Peanut Butter Chocolate Tartelettes. See? They have chocklit and I can't eet them too.

Why couldn't she make chicken tartelettes? Then I could have one. But I don't want the chicken with peanut butter. I don't think I would like that.

She got the recipe from that funny humin cat on the TV with the funny head fur called Alton Brown.

She gave me the recipe to give to you. She puts everything on a waying machine and cooks that way. I don't like waying machines. Whenever I get on one the the numburs say 21 or 22 sometimes 24 and then Gramma says I have to loose weight and stops feeding me chicken. That's not nice.

So here is the way Jasmine made those tartelettes. She said they were yummy and her wurk friends gobbled thems all ups.

I'm tired now and I'm going to have a sleep. I hope you all have a good day! If you like it when I rite to you please let my humman cat no and maybe she will let me rite to you again.

Alton Brown's Peanut Butter Pie
(makes 15 tartelettes)

180g chocolate cookie crumbs
1 Tbsp sugar
85g salted butter, melted
335g peanut butter (200 crunchy, 135 creamy)
55g soft salted butter
85g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
55g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
75ml heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Mix together the crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Press into tartlette tins and bake for about 5 minutes and let cool completely.

Cream together the butter and peanut butter, then sieve in the icing sugar and blend well. Mix in the vanilla extract. Divide peanut butter filling between the shells, smoothing the tops as carefuly as possible. Return to the oven and bake for about six minutes. Let cool.

Make a ganash by scalding the cream and then tipping the chocolate pieces into the hot liquid. Let sit for a couple of minutes. Stir carefully until the chocolate and cream combine. Spread the over the peanut butter filling and cool for at least an hour before serving.


What I'm reading:
Rex Stout's Fer de Lance (opens to my Amazon.ca associates store)

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14 September 2009

Where I went on my summer vacation: Toronto

A trip to Toronto isn't usually something I blog about. It takes me anywhere from an hour (on a super good day and the OPP isn't anywere in sight), to an hour and a halfish (on an average day) to so long I can't remember why I ever wanted to venture out there.

There are always exceptions to this, such as meeting a favourite person or doing something interesting or
both. This is one of those exceptions.

Ottawa, Toronto was very food focussed. Incredibly food focussed. So food focussed I have no idea if I did anything (apart from look for parking) that wasn't food focussed. I think I spent a good six or seven hours eating, drinking and perusing foodish pursuits. There's little wonder why my clothes are just that much snugger.

You know you're in for a good meal when all you have to say is "Yeah, I'm meeting a friend at an Italian restaurant for lunch. Can't remember what it's called, but it's at Richmond and Victoria." and the response is gleeful "Ooh!
Osteria Ciceri e Tria!" you know it's going to be good.

We shared the daily antipasti--a sampler tray, if you will. They were my word, they were good. I can remember all but one, but what I do recall--arincini di riso studded with cuttlefish, meatball in marinara sauce, lamb stew with crostini, fig with ham--was fabulous. For her main, my friend had the gnocchi with seafood; I had tagliatelle with duck ragu. We tried two desserts--a hazelnut tarte and a little cake (again, my memory fails).

If you read
Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess, you know that we shared a fabulous iced coffee that afternoon. She wrote getting together was like meeting an old friend. It was.

Jennifer and I have been emailing each other, off and on, for years--(this month marks my fourth year foodblogging on Cardamom Addict; Jenn's been The Domestic Goddess for almost six years). We've cohosted events and sent questions and comments back and forth to one another, but in all this time we've never managed to meet.

There was an immediate ease and familiarity--the type that's normally reserved for long lost friends who haven't seen each other in years. We sat at a patio and chatted about family and friends and Ottawa. We talked about blogging and characters who've come and gone in those years. We talked about our current real life adventures. Every once in a while pausing (or trying to out-volume) the Blue Angels as they zoomed over head, rehearsing for the Air show.

Throughout, we were the targets of unwanted attention. No, not the wayward Bay Street crowd. A bee. Probably a relative of the one that harassed Yal and I. Cheeky monkey tried to steal some of my coffee too! That's just what I need...a fixated bee on a coffee buzz.

I could have spent all afternoon chatting with her, but alas, she wasn't on holidays. We parted ways and I found my self on the TTC at possibly one of the two most dangerous-to-me stores in Toronto.
The Cookbook Store is one of my measured Meccas. Yes. A store devoted to cookbooks. The usual suspects from Food TV are there, but unlike other bookstores, they don't dominate the shelves. Here is where I find good food writers. Here is where I find interesting titles. Titles appear here, in their original format, before they appear in big-box bookstores, rewritten for the American audience. I left with a copy of Piri Piri Starfish, a book from which I desperately want to cook each and every single recipe.

My restraint at the Cookbook Store was easily voided as I peeked in at a neighbouring kitchenware shop. That peek ended up with me buying a terra cotta garlic keeper and a cast iron corncob printed cornbread tin. I'd seen them in magazines and recipe books and just couldn't resisit.

It was inaugurated the next day with my variant of my favourite cornbread recipe. Using a combination of maple syrup and brown sugar, the bread has a sweet-smoky flavour. I'm sure the niblet pattern discernable in the cute little cobs only helps to make the cornbread even more tasty.

Maple Corn Bread

125g ap flour
1tsp salt
1Tbsp baking powder
1/4tsp baking soda
120g cornmeal
50g brown sugar
1 egg2Tbsp
vegetable oil
225ml milk
125ml maple syrup

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Seive together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in cornmeal.

Beat together the egg, sugar and oil until smooth. Mix in the maple syrup and milk. Pour into dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour into prepared 22cm (9") cake pan or muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.


Oh, and the other dangerous-to-me shop? Well, if I mentioned it by name, I'm sure the percentage of solicitous emails I receive will increase. That's a lot coming from the gal who's also the Sensual Gourmet...But really, I highly recommend them, especially if you're well beyond what regular department stores stock.

What I'm reading:

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11 September 2009

Where I went for my summer Vacation: Ottawa

Gosh, that was a good vacation. Even though I ran around like a madwoman, it was a good kind of "ran around like a madwoman."

It wasn't the same-old-same-old rush to the office, answer calls, shoot off emails, run to meetings while not spilling coffee, impatiently wait in the microwave queue, write this, correct that, tell someone this, tell them this again, queue for coffee, more meetings, more calls and even more emails, try and remember where you parked your car so you can sit in the parking lot that is the expressway home so we can get something to eat before going off to yoga, an interest class, gals night out, boys night in, shopping and try and tackle that room that's been taken over by cartons, broken bits and things the cats hide kind of rush.

It's more of a where can I go, who can I meet up with and what can I see kind of busy:a good, if not fulfilling kind of busy.

I last took the train more than eight years ago. Commuting is different to vacationing, but old habits returned quickly--sitting in the same area, instinctively getting up at the same time, and (most important to me) blocking out all the ambient chatter. Sorry to all those who like to natter at their seatmates while trapped in confined spaces, but for me those travel hours were already booked with Christopher Brookmyre, Bill Bryson, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Monique Proulx (sorry Irvine Welsh, but I just couldn't get to you). Yes, I'm a reader...and darn proud of it. I will say I found it interesting that my seatmates seemed to have an affinity to whatever I was reading at the time: Brookmyre and Bryson had me with (even just temporarily) a very handsome Brit, Garcia Marquez had a dangerously young and handsome Spaniard strike up conversation with me. Oh...and the woman next to me while reading Proulx had some pretty bouncy hair.

Apart from a few minor delays, I arrived at my destination no worse for wear with a bright and smiley Jenny of All Things Edible greeting me. She graciously gave me use of her spare room while I was in Ottawa. After a quick stop home, we met Mary of Beans and Caviar and did what it seems all foodbloggers are doing this summer: we headed out to the cinema and see Julie and Julia (here's my review). I adore these ladies--warm and funny with an incredible love of food--Jenny and Mary, that is...

Afterwards we supped at an Italian restaurant and nattered over a shared plate of calamari. Jenny had a seafood pasta dish, Mary had a chicken dish and I satified my craving for veal piccata. Unfortunately, the restaurant was very dark and the necessary Photoshopping to transform blobs of dark into delicious foods would be onerous...and, to my mind, dishonest--that much tweaking is to me as fake as using sugared lard instead of ice cream in a foodporn picture. I do wish I'd gotten a picture of Jenny and Mary, though.

The next day Jenny took me to the Ottawa Farmers' Market and I snapped picture after picture. Here are just a few:

After spending some time at Michael's grave I met up with some friends for, what else, but food and conversation. My lunch with a colleague was slightly delayed by the maze of closed streets and a parade which forced me to find new ways up to Parliament Hill. Thank goodness he was patient and stuck around for me. A pub lunch's conversation centred around music: blues, jazz, folk, Gordon Lightfoot, Stan Rogers, Bachman and Cummings. It was great sitting down and talking about things that were so far removed from work. He walked me to the patisserie I met a dear, dear high school friend I'd not seen in...um...15 years...I think. It was great catching up, commiserating and cavorting with her.
Yeah...no pictures of those either. Especially of the bee that took a liking to my pear and almond tart as well as my café au lait (remember this, this will turn up in a later post).
It was a fabulous but whirlwind of a trip. Jenny: thank you so much for everything. You and your family are absolutely wonderful.

Veal picatta is an incredibly quick and easy non-recipe recipe dish. Sauted pieces of veal in a lemon-white wine sauce If you don't eat veal, you can easily substitute chicken or even pork, but as I have no such restrictions to my carnivorism I happily toss this together when I get the craving.
Essentially all you need to do is coat thin strips of veal (or chicken or pork) in seasoned flour before frying. Then mix equal volumes of white wine and stock with lemon juice and reduce in the fond-encrusted fry pan. Add lemon zest (and some capers if you wish) and return the meat to the pan for a minute before plating.
When I made the dish I lacked one key ingredient: white wine. Given I was only making enough for 250g of veal, I made an adequate (yet imperfect) substitute of a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, a squeeze of honey, a couple of tablespoons of apple cider and enough water to bring the mixture to somehwere between 3/4 cup and one cup level. I adjusted things to taste and used only as much as I needed--in this case a 1/4 cup. Again, it's not perfect, but I'm not going to run out for a bottle of wine when all I need is a 1/4 cup.
Veal Piccata
500g veal cutlets, pounded thinly, coated in seasoned flour
Olive oil and butter for frying
Juice of 1 lemon
125ml white wine
125ml chicken stock
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
optional: capers, drained well
optional: chopped parsley for garnish

Over medium heat, fry the meat (in batches, if necessary) in oil and butter until brown. Remove to a plate before adding lemon juice and wine to the pan. Scrape up the fond before adding stock. Bring to a rapid boil and reduce the liquid by half.
Return the veal to the pan; add the lemon zest and optional capers. Cook for a minutes or
so an then serve. If desired, sprinkle with parsley before serving.

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08 September 2009

Film Review: Julie and Julia

I must admit when I first heard that Nora Ephron was making Julie and Julia, a film that combined the lives of Julie Powell (former food blogger) and Julia Child (American culinary institution), I was torn between wanting to camp out at my local cinema for opening night and washing the cat.

In as much as I have fond memories of Julia's confidence (and voice) in her highly influential cooking shows, I never took to Julie's blog or her book. When
Jenny of All Things Edible suggested she, Mary of Beans and Caviar and I see the film, how could I turn down a night out with two food bloggers to see a film about Julia and food and blogging?

Ephron mines Child's autobiography (written with Alexander Prud'homme)
My Life in France with Powell's blog-cum-memoire Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously for a screenplay that intertwines the two women's stories.

Yes, there are parallels: Julia Child, a diplomat's wife in post-war France, finds purpose in food and along the way enrolls in Le Cordon Bleu and, over the series of years co-authors
Mastering the Art of French Cooking a seminal two-volume work that eventually brought Child and French cooking into American homes via television. Julie Powell, a New York City municipal worker answers phones in the aftermath of 9/11, blogs her way through MAFC (Vol. One) in one year as an escape from daily existence and in the process becomes one of the blogosphere's first to find mainstream popularity, sharing her adventures with thousands of online readers.

Production quality is high: Meryl Streep's eery chameleon-like ability to transform herself into any character is amazing and Amy Adams' performance as a disillusioned 20-something is something many can easily identify. Set decoration and costuming are impeccable--important, I think in what is a double period piece, although I must admit that I was partially distracted looking at Streep's shoes and other tricks to give her Child's height.

I laughed. I sympathised. I was hungry. At one point I wanted to go into Powell's kitchen and show her how to poach an egg. At another I wanted to step into Julia's kitchen and give her a hug as she found out her sister was pregnant. Throughout I wished smell-o-vision had been invented because I could just imagine the aromas wafting from both kitchens.

Let's be honest: It's a chick flick. It's a foodie film. It's a film about "finding yourself" (good gravy, I hate that phrase). It's a film about relationships--my heart melted whenever Streep and Stanley Tucci (who played Paul Child, Julia's husband) were together. If you're looking for sex amongst the sauciers, hand grenades in the pomegranates or a gun that shoots bullets instead of frosting...this film's not for you. Really--go see one of the other mindless bits of Hollyweird drivel and leave this to people who cook and eat.

I left the cinema with one thing in mind: "If they release a DVD version that cuts out all the Julie Powell parts, I'll buy it."

Powell's qualities I picked up on while flicking through her various posts as well as leafing through her (still unbought) book which turned me off were more than evident on screen: narcissism, over-inflated ego and her profanity crutch (it's mentioned in passing, probably to keep a PG-13 rating).

For me the cinematic moment that encapsulates Powell's ego was when she found out Child, her idol and the woman to whom she hitched her fame-brought wagon, didn't really care for her or her blog. The reaction was that of an entitled, talentless and overly-protected and overly-lauded little girl who is faced with the cold reality of their mundane ineptitude for the first time: shock/disbelief and sadness (Powell probably went through the other five stages of grief, but there's only so much time and celluloid).

Powell has since argued that the Julie Powell on film is not the Julie Powell in real life. In reading her plea two things came to mind. Minor details like what you did or didn't do in school, as well as who you do or don't hang out with is irrelevant because as many of us who've a few braincells to rub together know: Hollywood makes stuff up so characters and events are interesting to the popcorn-munching masses. The other is: Powell's probably never had her portrait painted by someone without a vested interest in placating her ego. In other words: she doesn't like the interpretation derived from the thousands of words she's committed to pixels and print.

At the same time, the Julia Child on film can border on caricature. If Julia were alive today, what would she think of her cinematic doppelganger? I don't know: the film paints her as knowing her mind, so I'm guessing that she would have voiced her opinions. One thing I'm fairly sure of is she probably wouldn't whine.

What we are presented with are character and feat interpretations as amassed by writers, actors, directors and editors as well as focus groups and marketers. There are thousands of words and hours and hours of film about and by Child, far fewer about and by Powell. I think they did the best they could with what they had. As
Kalyn wrote in her review, it would be better if Ephron and her team better translated Powell's culinary and blogging feat to screen. I wonder what pre-FoodTV cookbook authors (aka not the "I appeal to the 18-55 year-old male demographic and those who'd rather look at food than cook food" bobbleheads) have to say about getting published about the treatment of Child's accomplishments.

My guess is Ephron is neither a home cook nor a motivated blogger which is a shame because that part of the film was not handled as well as it could have. It's akin to making a movie about travelling to the moon written, produced (etc) by a team who's never studied the space sciences, but may have looked into a light-polluted night sky. In other words: it lacks consistent authenticity.

One thing I cannot fault is the food. It looked wonderful--even Julia's mountain of chopped onions looked fabulous. I just wanted to eat everything...

In prepping for this review, I decided to revisit Shari's MAFC index. Truth be told I'd love to have done a poached egg dish for this, but I just did Oeufs à la Bourguignonne for Hélène's MAFC event. Being the stubborn person I am, I kept to the egg theme and did a favourite breakfast-brunch dish: Oeufs en cocotte. It's easypeasylemonsqueezey, highly adaptable and is a non-recipe recipe, but Julia's recipe is in the link.

I did two versions: the first had a layer of
mushrooms sauteed in garlic butter and the other was prepared in a ramekin lined with shaved salami. I like baking them until the whites are opalescent ad the yolks are thick and creamy...perfect for dunking toast tips.


PS. I will never hear Talking Heads' Psycho Killer the same way ever again:

What I'm reading: The Heart is an Involuntary Muscle by Monique Proulx

I'm a quill for hire!

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05 September 2009

International Bacon Day: Maple-Dijon pork tournedos

It's a known fact wrapping something in bacon automatically makes that something better.

Just to prove my deep, unwavering belief in this basic truth, I'll wait as you check with your bacon-eating pals.

Really. Scoot. Go run off and see what they say. I'll make myself at home and draw up your psych assessment based on a) the books on your shelves, b) the CDs on your racks, c) the DVDs in the corner and d) the mere fact you had to go ask someone about the bacon thing.

Lalalalala. Oh, that's interesting...I wonder if your Nana knows about that one over there...

Oh good. You've returned. And what did they say? See? What did I tell you?

There's no one thing bacon does that makes things just plain better. It could be the deep smoky-saltiness it adds to sauces, the crunchiness in salads or even the sheer heartily blissfulness pretty much anything fried in bacon fat has. Notice how nicely it plays well with others and makes the opinionatedly boring and inedible deliciously addictive?

As one potential online paramour (dispatched, like the rest of them) once told me, "Well of course your Brussels sprouts are good. You use bacon--bacon makes everything taste better." And no, he wasn't dispatched because he assumed my Brussels sprouts were tasty because of bacon (as opposed to the mere fact I know how to cook Brussels sprouts so they don't become a foul-smelling slimy layer of ooze at the bottom of a pot).

It's pretty darned good on it's own--a back bacon sandwich with plenty of bacon fat-fried onions and extra drippings on a soft white bun deserves its own altar in the Holy Shrine of Baconosophy...but that's just me...

When our dear author of
A Dork and His Pork emailed me the other day mentioning his International Bacon Day yummyness, I knew my return from holidays post would be to celebrate this illustrious day.

My contribution to the fête is bacon-wrapped maple-Dijon pork tournedos (try saying that five times fast). Yes, pork-wrapped pork.

Inspired by
this Epicurious recipe, because quite frankly I didn't have the time nor the inclination to brine the loin for a minimum of eight hours, this recipe is one of my happy little kitchen experiments.
The only point I feel I need to mention as the porky-marinadey juices cook out of the meat, the sugars from the maple syrup can char on the baking tray, so definitely keep an eye them when in your oven's maw.

As anyone who's swished their rashers in maple syrup knows (please, get your minds out of the gutter), bacon and maple syrup pair nicely together. Dijon mustard and maple syrup are lovely. And garlic...well garlic is just plain good. Bacon good. The result is a nice mix of savoury, sweet and hot. And really, they look impressive--as only something wrapped in bacon can.

Bacon-Wrapped Maple-Dijon Tournedos

1 pork tenderloin, cut into 2cm discs
rashers of bacon, one per disc

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 dspn sage
a couple of pinches of salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 bulging Tbsp Dijon mustard
60ml Maple syrup

Whisk together the marinade ingredients, reserving about threeish tablespoons for later.

Marinate the pork discs with the rest of the mixture for 4-6 hours.

Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

Wrap each piece of meat with one rasher, pinning it with a toothpick to keep the bacon from unfurling.

Brush both sides of the discs with reserved marinade. Placed on greased baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes or until done or until cooked to whatever specifications your local food police tell you is safe.

1 dspn = 2tsp


Oh. You want your psych assessment? Well...some things are best not known...

What I'm reading:
The Heart is an Involuntary Muscle by Monique Proulx

I'm a quill for hire!

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