Charcutepalooza

Marinated Artichoke Hearts

by Anne Maxfield on June 19, 2014

Accidental Locavore Artichokes and Lemons As you’ve probably figured out by now, the Accidental Locavore loves artichokes in all sizes and forms. Large, small, tiny, steamed, grilled, fried, raw, they’re all good. When I saw this recipe from Mrs. Wheelbarrow (you may or not remember her as the impetus behind Charcutepalooza), it was time to take a deep breath and pull out the Ball jars.

Why the deep breath? A couple of reasons. First of all, my cousin Ellen makes amazing jam, so I usually leave all the canning stuff to her and just sit back and enjoy her hard work. The other reason is that canning is a bit dicey; do it wrong and bad things happen. But Mrs. Wheelbarrow had gotten me safely through a year of charcuterie, so I figured if I just faithfully followed the recipe, all would be good, and it was.

Because it does require some attention, here’s the link to her recipe and I’ll just fill you in on how it turned out.

Accidental Locavore Marinated ArtichokesMy verdict: This isn’t hard at all and is really worth the effort. So much so, that the minute the 30 days were up (OK, it was 28 days, but hey…), I busted open one of the jars and promptly made a second batch. These are delicious! I thought the first batch was a little heavy on the white vinegar so with the second, I used ¾ cup of white vinegar and ½ cup of the white wine vinegar. Since it’s only been a couple of days, you’ll have to wait to see if that worked. With both batches, I used small artichokes, mostly because they’re easier to prepare, since you don’t have to remove the choke. The only downside with this recipe is that you’ll be washing lots of pots, but if you’ve got a rainy afternoon, take an hour and try this. If you can manage to hold onto a jar or two, sometime in the fall or winter, you’ll be so glad you did!

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The Accidental Locavore’s 12 Ideas for Christmas Gifts

by Anne Maxfield on December 2, 2011

Accidental Locavore Stokes WreathSome years the Accidental Locavore just yearns for certain things and Christmas would be easy if anyone was listening. This year, I’m focused on things you might want. Added bonus: they’re all made by small, local businesses.

  1. The amazing lemongrass caramel from 2 Chicks With Chocolate. For the straight-up version (delicious warmed on ice cream) you have to check out their new store. Otherwise, custom-make yourself a box of their superb chocolates. Use code: Anne11, you get a 20% discount and my favorite charity gets a donation. Sweet!Accidental Locavore OMG Browines
  2. Speaking of caramel, a box of the OMG brownies from Salt of the Earth bakery. Get them at various places around Manhattan. Click here for locations.
  3. A workout session with my trainer. He’s the reason I can make and eat all this great food and not be morbidly obese…check out his shiny new gym and make a date with Ray.
  4. The partridge in the pear tree is so last century. How about an apple tree? Here’s the best part, you don’t even have to take care of it! Farmer Billiam and his crew will nurture your tree all year, you just come up at the end of the summer and pick away! Gift an apple tree lease.
  5. If one of the things you mourn for this time of year is fresh herbs, Stokes Farm has an answer for that. Order one of their rosemary wreaths, decorate for the holidays and have masses of rosemary at your fingertips. Pick up at one of the Greenmarkets, or have it shipped
  6. Accidental Locavore Ivan's UtensilsFor someone truly special, custom-made kitchen utensils. Ivan Hentschel hand-makes amazing wooden implements, rolling pins and butcher blocks. Actually he’ll craft a whole dining room table and chairs for you (but probably not in time for this Christmas). Email him (ihentschel@austin.rr.com) for details and see what your true love gives to you!

OK, enough about you…here are some more umm…personal…ideas:

  1. Molecular gastronomy kit. This is for my friend Zhu Zhu, who, it seems, wants the grown-up version of a chemistry set. The Locavore wants to watch!Accidental Locavore Bar Americain
  2. A copy of Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain cookbook. My iPad reviewers’ copy seems to have expired and the cauliflower gratin is still not perfected.
  3. The recipe for Serge’s (of Serevan) beef stew. (I’ve got one of the secret ingredients — dried Persian limes.) That way I can explore the rest of the menu when I eat there. And because I’ve been very good this year, the secret behind Dickson’s bacon.
  4. A new set of (impervious) oven mitts. Seems like mine bit the dust recently. Any ideas?
  5. A macro lens for the camera on my iPhone. Yes, the chorizo is waiting for its close-up.
  6. To win the Charcutepalooza challenge and go to France in March. Experiencing charcuterie at the source, along with market trips, Paris and possibly a French hen or three. Vous avez des pensées positives (think positive thoughts)!Accidental Locavore charcute-logo-small

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Accidental Locavore Fresh Chorizo

The photo of freshly made chorizo the Accidental Locavore posted on Facebook, asked one of my (many) questions about making dried sausages in a small NYC apartment: “ Is this grounds for divorce, or everlasting love?”‘ and showed the hanging chorizo drying in our wine cave. My fear was twofold. One, that it wouldn’t work, but more importantly, that my husband would see the project and think the odor of the chorizo would permeate the delicate bouquet of the wines…luckily neither happened. True confession time: he works steadily at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular from the beginning of November and is oblivious to almost everything, including ropes of sausages for the latest Charcutepalooza challenge, hanging from the wine racks.

My cleaning lady, thankfully, is not so oblivious. When she saw them hanging she was immediately curious and wanted to know all about them. Since they had been quietly drying for about two weeks, it seemed like the perfect time to pull them out for a tasting. The Locavore cut down a link and sliced it up. It had dried perfectly, no mold (good or bad), no mushy spots, just links looking exactly as they should. We tasted them and they were good, a little spicy with some nice, assertive garlic, and a little smoke taste — all-in-all a really nice dried sausage. Would I recognize it as chorizo? Probably not. Is that a bad thing? Yes and no.Accidental Locavore Dried Chorizio

Understand that the Accidental Locavore has an extremely high standard for chorizo. The best I’ve ever had was from a stall at the back off the main market, La Boqueria, in Barcelona. Part of its appeal was that we ate it in the car, driving the Costa Brava, towards France and I got to cut it with the new Leatherman tool, my husband had just bought me as a gift (slices chorizo like a dream), and part of it was that it was just great chorizo. Pimento-red with nice-sized chunks of meat and fat, well-spiced but not overwhelming…great taste and great texture…a chorizo that I still hold all others to.Accidental Locavore Chorizio and Rilettes

One of the interesting things about making dried sausage, is that it’s such a crap-shoot. When you make fresh sausage and pâtés, you always cook up a little batch to check for taste. With the dried sausage, grind the meat, season and hope for the best. The next time I make chorizo (and yes, there is going to be a next time) it’s going to get more smoked paprika (the mild kind), more cayenne and possibly a little nutmeg (my cleaning lady’s suggestion…she made a lot of sausages and other preserved foods when she was living in Czechoslovakia, so I listen to her on matters like this).

Other than slicing it up and eating it, what did we do with it? Sliced up more and ate it. It made a couple of appearances at various Thanksgiving dinners, at my house with some homemade duck rilettes (more about them later) and at my friend Cozy’s in this gorgeous antipasto platter. Accidental Locavore Charcuterie Plate at Cozys

 

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Accidental Locavore Duck Confit Shepherds Pie

What makes the difference between a pot pie and a shepherd’s pie*? And why should we care? Ever since the Accidental Locavore got a set of small gratin pans, I’ve been entranced with the idea of individual gratins, Parmesans, pies etc. It works on the same principal as wrapping something in parchment: everyone gets a cute little dish with yummy food in front of them.

For the October Charcutepalooza challenge, we were tasked with making confits, rilettes or galantines. Now, the Accidental Locavore doesn’t need much arm-twisting to poach (almost anything) in fat for a long period of time. Our friends and cohorts at D’Artagnan soon had me outfitted with eight massive Moulard duck legs and a corresponding amount of duck fat. I really want to give a shout-out to them. Not only do they make a terrific (local) product, but everyone there is so immensely helpful! If you should need an excuse to order something from them the cassoulet kit is scrumptious…bonus, it feeds twelve of your hungriest friends.

After the confit was made, the Locavore decided to turn it into what should have been a great fall dish; duck confit shephard’s pie. Only problem, the weather had reverted back to summer, but we Charcutepalooza folk are made of stronger stuff. A quick invite to some of our favorite tasters, and it was time to transform duck confit into shepherd’s pie. The beauty of it is that you just have to construct the layers, assemble it and pop it into the oven to warm (for the recipe: click here). My version starts with a layer of kale, sautéed in duck fat and garlic, then a layer of shredded duck meat from the confit, topped with mashed corolla or Yukon Gold potatoes, finished with grated cheese (last night a great aged Gruyere from Murray’s) and garnished with a duck skin crackling. Because my husband had commented the last time that it would be better with some peas mixed in, I added peas to the mashed potatoes on two of the servings. As you can see, a nice artery-clogging dish (that’s why the kale, it’s a super-food).

The verdict? What’s not to like? Frank was very pleased with the addition of the peas, however “to make it perfect, the mashed potatoes needed to be creamier”. Caught me on that one, didn’t have my usual fridge full of heavy cream, crème fraiche or sour cream, so tossed some Greek yogurt in to enrich the potatoes…oops. Our friends really liked it and except for the Accidental Locavore (who had been busy earlier, making sure all the components, like the duck cracklings, tasted great), there were clean, cute, little gratin pans all around.

With some of the remaining confit, I’m going to make rilettes. The ones they serve at Artisanal are a particular favorite, so if they’re reading, or someone knows the recipe, please share! What’s your favorite way to serve or eat, duck confit?

*Shepherd’s pie has a mashed potato topping, pot pie has a traditional pie crust

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