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Homecookin’: Some Snapshots From My Kitchen

Shin of Beef Pot Roast Shin of Beef Pot Roast
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The Ides of March have come to pass with many things food gracing our social medial channels. Ottawa keeps demonstrating there is good eating to be had. Food entrepreneurs continue to fill out the spectrum of dining options from low to high-end. Locals just have to have an open mind and look around.

Personally, I’ve been cooking of late without plating anything for the tripod-mounted camera, soft box, or speedlites. So, it’s time to resurrect our “relatively wordless” post format (not to be confused with the more meaningful “bunch-of-stuff” format) and share some snapshots from the kitchen.

Truth be told, the following was compiled to respond to an all-too-familiar Facebook update and some criticism I received during deliberations on Recipe to Riches.

[In case you didn’t know, I passed this past summer’s auditions and took a run at putting one of my dishes on store shelves at Loblaws and Loblaws Superstore under the President’s Choice-brand. Leading up to my episode’s release, Metro Ottawa published an article. And, CBC Radio invited me to appear on Alan Neal’s All In a Day. I made Neal a chorizo Scotch egg.]

First off,

my it m[u]st cost a fortune to eat out so regularly? do you ever cook and eat at home as a professional Foodie do you get to write off your eating out I hope!

There is no disputing operating foodiePrints has been a costly endeavor. Besides site-hosting, web design, and ongoing support (we’ve a designer and developer on retainer), there is the cost of gear (cameras and smartphones), and food (including the occasional drink). We pay for much of what we write about. Thankfully, our sponsored work defrays some costs.

Generally-speaking, card-carrying “professional” “foodies” don’t cook. Me, I just think a little more about the food I eat. I celebrate cooks. And, I readily encourage anyone and everyone to pick up some basic skills in the kitchen.

Having picked up a 2.8 L enamel-coated cast iron dutch oven from Canadian Tire, I have been interested in putting the thinner-than-le-creusot Lagostina-branded piece to work. While professional kitchens play with well-seasoned carbon steal pans, aluminium sheet pans, and aluminium pots, my kitchen is equipped multi-ply stainless steal and well-seasoned cast iron pans. My pots are also mutli-ply and non-reactive. A single non-stick pan remains from the days when I used to have a set. That one is meticulously cared for, employed for only eggs.

Celebrated for their ability to “make fond,” the first dish from my enamel-coated cast iron dutch oven was pot roast, using boneless shin-of-beef.

Pot Roast, Cooked By Taste

Unpacking My Dutch Oven

Unpacking My Dutch Oven

Floured Shin of Beef

Floured Shin of Beef

Searing the Shin of Beef

Searing the Shin of Beef

Develop a Nice Crust

Develop a Nice Crust

French a Red Onion

French a Red Onion

Add a Frenched Red Onion and Scrape the Fond

Add a Frenched Red Onion and Scrape the Fond

Add Tomato Paste and Reduce

Add Tomato Paste and Reduce

Add Enough Chicken Broth to Come Up 3-4 Inches

Add Enough Chicken Broth to Come Up 3-4 Inches

Add back the seared shin of beef and juices. Cover and bake in an oven set to 350F for 3 hours.

Once the beef is tender, pass the braising liquid through a fine mesh strainer, discard the onions, de-fat the liquid, and reserve.

Reduce the braising liquid until thickened to make a gravy.

Prepare Baked Grits

Prepare Baked Grits

Prepare Zucchini and Tomato Ragu

Prepare Zucchini and Tomato Ragu

Baked grits is prepared this way: sweat a finely chopped onion in salted butter until soft; add 1 quart of liquid (any combination of cream, milk, water); add 1 cup of corn meal; bring to a boil, stirring constantly; place in an oven-proof dish; bake at 350F for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes; stir in cheese; serve.

Reheat the meat in the braising liquid before reducing. Keep warm.

Slice the Shin of Beef

Slice the Shin of Beef

Done

Done

Can you tell I’ve never made pot roast before this?

Afterward, I decided to try something with some amazing cattle beans gifted to my wife and I for our wedding, a take on French cassoulet.

Pork and Beans, Cooked By Taste

For this batch of pork and beans, I decided to include something corned and something smoked.

For the something corned, I chose turkey.

Home Ground Chinese Five Spice

Home Ground Chinese Five Spice

Five Spice Cure, Spiked with Sodium Nitrite

Five Spice Cure, Spiked with Sodium Nitrite

Turkey Thighs

Turkey Thighs

Turkey Thighs Coated For Curing

Turkey Thighs Coated For Curing

Braised Cured Turkey Thigh Udon Noodle Soup

Braised Cured Turkey Thigh Udon Noodle Soup

For the something smoked, I found sliced smoked pork hock at Marché Hintonburg (1059 Wellington Street W.)

Smoked Pork Hock and Tolouse Sausage with Milk Bread

Smoked Pork Hock and Tolouse Sausage with Milk Bread

Smokey Broth Making with Smoked Hock, Green Hocks, Chicken Backs, and Aromatics

Smokey Broth Making with Smoked Hock, Green Hocks, Chicken Backs, and Aromatics

After 8 hours set to low, de-bone all the meat and reserve. Strain and de-fat the broth, discarding the aromatics.

Time to play with some beans and put everything together.

East Coast Cattle Beans

East Coast Cattle Beans

Soak the Beans Overnight

Soak the Beans Overnight

Dump the Soaking Water, but Cook in the Smokey Broth 15-20 minutes

Dump the Soaking Water, but Cook in the Smokey Broth 15-20 minutes

Mix in Meat and Sausage and Braise at 300 F until Thickened (2-3 hours)

Mix in Meat and Sausage and Braise at 300 F until Thickened (2-3 hours)

Fish out the Sausage

Fish out the Sausage

Done

Done

Secondly, let’s get back to Recipe to Riches

I think he really looked at his recipe as a formula, said Gail.

He’s a computer scientist and I think he couldn’t wrap his head around the touchy-feeliness that’s so necessary when cooking, Gail continued.

Well Ms. “Canadian trained culinary expert, food writer and television personality” Simmons, you want touchy-feeliness? With respect, this 4-eyed Poindexter understands full well the intangibles to cooking. His love of food was reignited when he met his wife. He cooks for her.

He just figured he’d best not pay attention to the “intangibles” when he’s tasked with making 150 savoury pies on national television.

Proof?

Consider Valentine’s and my making good on a request from my dearest for a decent bowl of noodles.

Tonkotsu Ramen

Bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen with Chasu and Ajitsuke Tamago for Valentine's

Bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen with Chasu and Ajitsuke Tamago for Valentine’s

Ramen is as much about textures as it is about flavours. A good bowl needs to feed all the senses.

Tonkotsu soup is a tradition that takes hours to prepare as it involves making something exceptionally rich by emulsifying pork fat. This batch took upwards of 8 hours of strong simmering, checking every hour to adjust the liquid, stir the solids, and skim the scum.

Aromatics, Pork Fat Back, Leftover Pork Belly

Aromatics, Pork Fat Back, Leftover Pork Belly

Add Homemade Pork Tail and Peppercorn Stock

Add Homemade Pork Tail and Peppercorn Stock

Strain and Discard Spent Ingredients

Strain and Discard Spent Ingredients

Reduce to Taste

Reduce to Taste

1:2:2:1 soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar with whole scallions, garlic, and ginger

1:2:2:1 soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar with whole scallions, garlic, and ginger

Roll Up One Pork Belly and Tye

Roll Up One Pork Belly and Tye

Braise at 275F for 3 Hours

Braise at 275F for 3 Hours

To make the marinated soft-boiled eggs, steam large chicken eggs for 6.5 minutes. Chill in an ice-water bath. Peel the eggs and immerse them in the pork belly (chasu) braising liquid (chilled of course). Marinate 4-6 hours; overnight is best (the marinade actually penetrates through the albumen, mingling and coagulating some of the yolk).

Now, I’m thinking it’s high time to revisit ramen noodle making again too…

Mild-mannered IT professional by day and food blogger by night, I founded foodiePrints with a single intention, to share my love of all things food. My first post shared a recipe. Many followed. Eventually, I learned Ottawa prepares and serves great food. Thereafter, I started meeting restaurateurs, chefs, cooks, farmers, and other local producers, all good people. Ideas for food-related content swirled in my head. foodiePrints grew into a place to put them. From exploring foreign and domestic cuisines to shopping for exotic ingredients and cobbling together my takes on dishes in my meager kitchen, there are stories to tell. Welcome to foodiePrints. Here, you will find stories about food and drink, cooking, and eating in Canada’s capital. Be it food-related or just food-for-thought, I hope you find something tasty here.