Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Beginnings....

Hi folks... La Cuisinette has moved to a new website of its own! Find it here. I like my new home, and I hope you will too!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Brekkie à la polonaise

Oh, lordy. My last post was at the end of January.

It’s not that I haven’t been cooking. In fact, I’ve been cooking with steel toed shoes and a chef’s hat: For the last twelve weeks, Wednesday nights have been George Brown College nights—as in, cooking school.

The twelve-week class, Culinary Arts I, is the first step to a certificate in culinary arts, something I think I’d like to pursue. It’s fun, I get to wear my cheffie gear, and cook on gas.

The first course, obligatory, was introductory. Soups, salads, poached fish, sauces, braises, pan roasting. None of it was totally new to me, and yet I gathered up a thousand tips and nuggets of knowledge for the chef instructor (like, hey guys! Onions skins added to your chicken stock will turn it a lovely golden brown. True story.)

I believe the program is making me a better cook. I’m getting acquainted with basic French sauces. And, well, frankly, quite a few recipes of the yester-decades (salad in a pineapple boat, anyone?).  Without getting into to much detail, it’s a pursuit worth taking, and I plan to go back in the fall for more.

Now for the polonaise, which I knew nothing about before this Wednesday's class. It’s a very tasty garnish, made up of chopped boiled eggs, beurre noisette (browned butter, and lots of it), bread crumbs and parsley.

I made a tasty rendition of it, this morning. I roasted cauliflower, yellow bell pepper, and finished them off by sprinkling the polonaise, and toasting it a tad. Topped with a fried egg. Voilà ! Déjeuner à la polonaise ! Sort of…

For recipes, email me: dianeeros AT

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sharp and Alive

Nothing brightens up a crummy winter’s day like this lemon and celery salad.

Way back in December, I got the new Canal House cookbook, Canal House Cooks Every Day, by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton (sister of Gabrielle Hamilton). The first thing I made was this meal: grilled beef with parsley-tarragon butter and a chopped celery salad. Preserved lemons in the celery really shines, especially when it’s grey and wet out there.

The celery I used was the very most tender—the pale ribs in the centre—along with all of their leaves. Finely chopped anchovies and preserved lemon were tossed along with a lemon and olive oil dressing. The result is spectacularly sharp and alive. It’s best served cold.

As for the steak and butter, I never bothered with the tarragon. Just plain parsley was beautiful on its own. I like my meat grilled rare; in my inaccurate and kind of cartoony understanding of how biology works, my body yells “hurray!” as soon as the bloody steak hits my stomach and those proteins get cracking.  Please don’t quote me on this.

For no reason at all, here is Olive the cat. I’m not sure what she was doing on the table (not allowed!). She doesn’t care for lemons. Actually, she doesn't even know what they are.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Accomplishments measured in bread

First, I should confess this is post is only a partial effort. I’ve got the flu, which means that I’ve been productive in a very limited sense over the last few days: I’m eating an awful lot of this soup; I watched all of Freaks and Geeks; and I even dragged my sorry ass across the street for some lemons at noon today. And, naturally, these activities were separated by naps. Those are my accomplishments.

I thought, however, that I should tell you about something I achieved before I got the flu. As of late December, I’ve been making sourdough bread.

I’ve been using the Tartine Bread book as a guide. At first, I kept the starter in a drawer in our bedroom. It smells sweet and tangy.  The loaves it produces are moist, bubbly, and the crust is chewy.

I’m now experimenting with storing the starter in the refrigerator, seeing as I only have time to make loaves every two weeks or so.  This bread takes time; just the first rise is a four hour commitment. But the result is worth it, and the recipe makes two large loaves—enough to share.  I’ll be making this bread for a while, so I’m sure I’ll tell you more about my sourdough adventures on a day where the flu hasn’t muffled my brain functions.  

Most of these pictures--except this last one--were taken by my father, who visited a couple of weeks ago. He brought a jar of starter back to the farm, where I’m told my mother has been putting the sourdough to use as well. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mezcal, de todos modos

Para todo mal, mezcal…para todo bien, también.

I saw that scrawled on a bathroom wall in a bar in Mexico City. “For all that’s good, mezcal…and for the bad stuff too.” Except that in Spanish, it rhymes. Sort of. It’s bar loo graffiti wisdom, which I've always felt should be taken seriously.

We came back from our trip Mexico with this bottle of El Mero mero, from Oaxaca. 

It’s a beaut. Translating loosely from its own label and based on what I’m tasting, it’s a clean and bright, smoky and vaguely metallic.  It’s un-aged, so clear as water. And I’ve been serving it with orange slices, which I dust with a little smoked paprika (I suspect they can be sprinkled with piquín instead).  

And for heaven’s sake, don’t shoot this stuff! Sip it slow, while eating oranges and other nibblies. With my friend Mika, we ate Soma’s Old School chocolate instead of oranges, which was just as perfect. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Michoacán, for the living and for the dead...

Today's our last full day in Mexico City. Six weeks flew by, and I'm feeling very much at home here again. I'll have better things to write when I'm back in Toronto, with a little post-trip perspective. (I'm also bringing back a few recipes, which I'm sure you'll be seeing here).

But in the meantime, here's a little treat: Andrew's video of La Noche de muertos --- the night of the dead. We went to the state of Michoacán for the Day of the Dead, and on the night of November 1st, we explored towns that dot the shore of Pátzcuaro Lake. We saw four cemeteries that night, one of them on a small, quiet island called La Pacanda. As villagers kept their dead company in the cemetery, the island's church bell tolled.

Day of the Dead from Andrew Budziak on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lucky Encounters

Stumbling upon unexpected treasures is something that keeps happening here. In Mexico City, you can find things to do just by wandering aimlessly. Even if you are walking somewhere with purpose, you’re likely to be side swept by something interesting. Or in my case, something tasty.

Today, on our way to the ruins of the Aztec temple wedged in next to the giant Catedral Metropolitana, we happened upon the Museum Nuestra Cocina Duque de Herdez … basically, the Mexican cooking museum!

The first two photos are from their pre-Hispanic kitchen exhibit. The last two, below, are from the colonial period. I absolutely love the tiled wood stoves and the comales.