I demoed home-cured bacon at the Blogher 2010 after party Saturday night, with the help of the excellent students of the California Culinary Academy (thanks for the perfect set-up, chef-students!).  I couldn’t do it start to finish, of course.  You need to give the belly a dry rub for a week.  Then you need to cook it for an hour or so.  People drinking bacon martinis on a Saturday night don’t want to stand around watching pork belly cure. I showed the steps though, cooked some up (the folks at CCA had cured it perfectly). I thought everyone was good to go. But the next day, as I waited for the airport shuttle, a woman told me she wanted to cure bacon, even had a smoker (nice but not essential).  She said, “But I’m afraid.” Read On »

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Football has started, the sky is slate, the air is cold and winter will be here soon. One of the very few excellent things about winter in Cleveland—besides surfing on Lake Erie (see No Rez Cleveland) and Sunday morning fires on the hearth—is the opportunity to eat duck confit all winter long.  Best part about duck confit is, make it once, and you’ve got it on hand till April—it’s always there for you.  Whether for an impromptu lunch or a fancy dinner (I’m planning a cassoulet for an old friend next Friday), or a last-minute appetizer for last-minute guests. On Saturday I picked up 12 gorgeous duck legs from Plum Creek Farm.  Because I was doing a variation on this pickled chillis recipe that day, I thought I’d use similar seasonings in the cure for Read On »

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Earlier this spring, my high school pal, JD, called and asked if I wanted to make sausage on Saturday. It’s much easier with a few folks to spread out the work, but I wasn’t prepared for something like 50 pounds of sausage. Nor did I expect JD to film the event.  But, ever the overachiever, he did. Our other pal, Mac, the bearded one, joined us. So please forgive the Saturday shadow and numerous chins and the unscripted nature of the video and my limited editing skills, but do follow the basic steps to awesome sausage.  There are five, follow them all, keep your meat really cold, and you’ll have great links (or skip step 5 and make patties or use it loose).  It’s summer grilling season and there’s nothing better to sizzle on a Read On »

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Photos by Donna [I'm on a blog break from 5/17 through 5/31, so I'm putting up favorite food posts from the archives.] It began with pickles. I’d bought a quart of small cukes to pickle with tarragon but I wasn’t thinking as I made the brine.  I wanted some spice in there so I added black peppercorns.  Then, here is the not thinking part, I put in a load of coriander seed, then the tarragon, but as I smelled the brine coming up to heat, it was clear that pepper and coriander would completely overpower the tarragon, and simply don’t belong together.  So I removed the tarragon.  Donna arrived just then and said, “Mmm, smells good in here. Like corned beef.” Having ruined the brine for the pickles (using the standard 5% brine ratio from Read On »

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