Sunday Food Porn: Freudian Pudding Cups

Freudian Pudding Cups

Freudian Pudding Cups

As my friend on Facebook said, “There’s a reason everyone was going to Freudian analysts in the ’50’s.”

Great Canadian Cookery with Grizelda the Ghastly Gourmet

Grizelda the Ghastly Gourmet

Grizelda the Ghastly Gourmet


It’s time for a little Hamiltonian Halloween spice for the season.

Sometimes people ask me how I turned out this way. The Hilarious House of Frightenstein is a large part of the answer. This deranged Goth fantasy was what passed for educational children’s programming in Canada back in the 70’s, and it was unspeakably brilliant. All of my mental warpage I owe to it. You haven’t seen camp until you’ve seen Billy Van dressed as a hag who thinks she’s Goldie Hawn, hosting a cooking show.

You will see that now.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the very definition of CANNOT BE UNSEEN. And is it just me, or do the mannerisms recall an otherworldly Rachael Ray? To say nothing of the recipes.

Drunk Dial a Congressman!

Cheers! To the Unemployment Office!

Cheers! To the Unemployment Office!


Let’s face it, if you’re a furloughed federal employee, what else do you have to do?

The internet is way ahead of you, and has stepped into the void formerly filled by your work hours, stuffing it full of hours of bilious and bibulous joy: DrunkDialCongress.org exists, and it is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

You type in your phone number, you hit Call, and a faceless, nameless robot that is probably take a job away from a good American quietly and efficiently connects you to the public phone line for a representative for your district.

Not sure what to say? Don’t worry, this is politics: there are talking points (with proper citations, no less)! “Why don’t you make yourself useful and mow the lawn” is my particular favorite.

Below the talking points, we have the key ingredient: DRINK RECIPES! What type of tipple is most appropriate for calling up your elected representatives to scream at them for not doing their jobs? Well, Rosemary’s for remembrance, so how about some B&B? But the idea of getting plastered on an imported French liqueur is not sufficiently patriotic. And you’d have to drink a lot of Bud Light to get drunk enough to really do this. The listed cocktails are pretty good bets: they’re all sweet enough, and mixed with enough cogeners that you will wake up with a life-threatening burden of self-hatred the next morning, which should remind you of your public servants (that is, if they had the ability to regret their bad decisions, which they don’t).

The Bad Representative might go down smoothly (well, interns would have the whole story on that) but the Southern Congressman is probably going to be the crowd-pleaser. At least in his first term…

THE SOUTHERN CONGRESSMAN

2 oz Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey
1 tsp lime juice
5 oz sour mix

THE FANCY STATESMAN

2 oz blended whiskey
1 cherry
juice of 1/2 lemons
1 tsp powdered sugar
1 egg white
1 slice lemon

THE BLOODY BASTARD

1 part sour mix
1 part vodka
1 tbsp grenadine syrup

THE BAD REPRESENTATIVE

1 oz Scotch whisky
1 oz cherry brandy
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1 oz lemon juice
1 slice lemon

The Sleepy Senator

1 oz absinthe liqueur
1 oz tonic water
1 oz sugar syrup
2 tsp lime juice or sour

Cheers!

Happy Thanksgiving, eh!

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving eh

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving eh

It’s Canadian Thanksgiving, and you know what that means! Passive-aggressive machinations regarding who gets to carve the turkey and whether Peggy’s gherkins get to sit in Great Gramma’s crystal dish or if it will be That Woman Bob Married with her goddam pickled beets again, and what’s so special about pickled beets anyway? Great Gramma never served pickled beets; it’s just not right.

Where was I? Oh right, Canadian Thanksgiving.

I suppose if I googled long enough I could find some ridiculously convoluted excuse for why our Thanksgiving is in October instead of November, but the simple fact is, we’re a Northern country. If we waited till November the weather would be crap and people would literally die in the car on the way to the big family dinner, frozen in snowdrifts, their misery preserved forever or until the spring thaws at least. Seriously, this was my biggest worry when I was a kid; that we’d die right there on the 401 because of a white-out.

What’s on the menu at a Canadian Thanksgiving? Pretty much anything that would be on the menu at an American one, barring sweet potatoes with marshmallows (what IS that? some kind of practical joke by the South?) and pecan pie. Why don’t we do pecan pie? Because pecans up here cost about as much as truffles do, and you don’t see us making truffle pie now, do you? So we have pumpkin pie and butter tarts.

Everyone loves butter tarts, eh!

Everyone loves butter tarts, eh!

Butter tarts are perhaps the most Canadian food ever invented (pace Poutine!). There is some controversy about whether or not raisins go in butter tarts, and I’m all Team Raisin, simply because you need some sort of contrast to the delicious, caramely center  UH “centre” of the butter tart. Nuts are completely non-canon, although a tasty addition; walnuts are best, because their natural dryness plays against the sweet creaminess of the filling very well. Think of butter tarts as pecan pie without pecans in it, and you can see why we like them so much.

Chatelaine is the definitive Canadian women’s magazine (think typical American women’s magazine, but with fewer boobs, less makeup, and more politics and social justice articles) and so it is to Chatelaine that I turn for a classic butter tart recipe. They’re all more or less the same, actually, but this one has a pedigree.

 Preparation time: 10 minutes; Baking Time: 16 minutes; Makes: 12 tarts

Ingredients:

12 ( 3-inch, 7.5-cm) homemade or 16 purchased frozen tart shells, each about 3 inches

2 eggs

3/4 cup ( 175 mL) corn syrup

1/4 cup ( 50 mL) liquid honey

1 tsp ( 5 mL) vanilla

1/2 cup ( 125 mL) brown sugar

1 tbsp ( 15 mL) all-purpose flour

1/4 cup ( 50 mL) unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup ( up to 1/2 cup, 50 mL to 125 mL) raisins or walnuts

Oh, what a delicious dribble occurs when biting into these buttery tarts made by Tait’s Bakery. These are divinely runny so be prepared for the drips!

Instructions:

Place oven rack at its lowest level. Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line 12 tart shells with homemade pastry. If using store-bought frozen shells, use 16 and leave in foil cups. Place tart shells on a baking sheet with shallow sides to catch any spills. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs with corn syrup, honey and vanilla until well blended. Stir brown sugar with flour. Stir into egg mixture along with butter until evenly mixed.

Dividing equally, scatter raisins or walnuts over bottoms of shells. Pour filling over top. Bake on bottom rack of preheated 375F (190C) oven until filling is bubbly and top is slightly crusty, from 16 to 18 minutes for 12 tarts or about 16 minutes for 16 tarts. Cool on a rack. Tarts will keep well at room temperature for up to 1 day. Or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

Okay, okay STOP! “Delicious dribble,” people? If it is occurring, you’re using “dribble” as a verb, and verbs are tasteless, as is anyone who writes like that. Now go back to J-school and come back when you can write prose that actually makes sense!

Sorry.

Sorry

Sorry

Aspirational Libations: The Rum Steak by Julien Escot at Papa Doble

We are not natural enthusiasts of novelty beverages; indeed, we (the royal we) may be called puritanical by some, but we generally prefer cocktails that were invented long before we were born. Let’s face it, a Martini or a Sazerac just outrank a Redbull and Vodka. I once saw a group of girls tossed out of one of my favorite bars for asking for tequila shots. The bartender leaned over and hoarsely stage-whispered, “This is a grown up bar. We do whiskey, and we do beer. If you want tequila shooters and Redbull, you want the Blarney Stone down the street. Come here when you’ve learned to drink like grown-ups.” And out they went, buzz deflated, to party with teens from the outskirts.

But thanks in part to knowing Shawn Soole of Little Jumbo, also known as Liquid Revolution, we are broadening our horizons somewhat. I mean, the last time I saw the man make a Martini he used liquid nitrogen, and water that he’d distilled himself. This is the bartender who invented the Grilled Cheese Washed Rum and the Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Martini, which got so much media coverage that now he refers to it as “that bloody cocktail.” So, he is a horizon-broadener of the first rank, because it’s impossible to resist the tasty if deranged things he mixes up.

In any case, our good friend Bart Calendar, he who lives a lifestyle which literally embodies the word “aspirational,” has introduced us to a cocktail so crazy, yet so dazzlingly tasty-sounding, that we simply must try this at home. It is called the Rum Steak, it has rum and steak in it, and it comes from Papa Doble in Montpellier, France.

NSFVegans!

The Rum Steak from Papa Doble

The Rum Steak from Papa Doble

Ingredients:

  • 2oz aged rum
  • 0.2 oz absinthe (yes, it’s a fiddly recipe and everything’s better in ml but I figured you’d want the ounces)
  • 0.4 oz homemade vanilla & spice maple syrup
  • 4 drops Peychaud’s bitters
  • 0.2 oz acacia honey infusion
  • 1 slice fresh beef, cooked according to instructions below.

Stir all the ingredients with ice in the mixing glass and strain into a chilled old fashioned. Garnish with a baked slice of beef marinated in homemade acacia honey infusion.

Now, here’s the backstory, ie how to make the spiced maple syrup and acacia honey infusion…

Vanilla and Spice Maple Syrup:

To prepare 17oz: in a saucepan with maple syrup 17 oz, cajun spice 3 bar spoons and separated (ie seeded) vanilla 2 pods. Leave to simmer and fine strain.

Acacia Honey Infusion Beef Slices:

Mix acacia honey 3,5 oz and angostura bitter 5 dashes. Spread homemade acacia honey infusion over a slice of fresh beef. Bake it in the oven for 4 hours at temperature of 60°C.

Yes, it does sound like hella work, but it also sounds absolutely amazing. I’m going to ask Bart for a debrief after he has one (or quite possibly more) of these on his next visit to Papa Doble. By the way, it retails for $17.

Spirit Animal

This man is my hero (with a few caveats).

According to the guy who twitpic’d him, this blithe cheese fiend was digging into the wheel of Brie with his fingers and then putting it on crackers. Okay, gross. Dude clearly needs to upgrade to crackers with decent cutting ability; you use the cracker edge like a knife to cut off a piece of cheese and then, coincidentally, the cheese is on the cracker already! How convenient is that? From long experience, I would recommend your quotidian saltines, or a Wasa crispbread, perhaps the rye; although it is not sharp, it has a tensile strength that is truly gasp-inducing. When the apocalypse comes, you’ll be able to build fallout shelters from this stuff. Carr’s are, although lovely, easily shattered by the cheese-cutting operation, and are to be steered clear of in subway picnicking situations.

Also, Miss Manners will certainly back me up on this: stinky cheese should not be shared in enclosed spaces without the consent of those enclosed in the spaces. Also, if your Brie is stinky there’s something wrong with it, so this probably wasn’t Brie but something in the family. God knows I loves me some Chaumes, but the fumes will dissolve window glass. If in fact it was Brie, then he’s probably paying the karmic price for stinking up the subway car, spending the weekend on the bathroom floor, groaning.

To get your transit picnic right, remember these key things: No stinky cheeses! Or you’ll get mocked all over the blogosphere! And either a knife (really, who does not carry cutlery with them at all times? It is for such emergencies the Swiss Army gadget was invented! Get the one with the corkscrew, of course) or crackers of sufficient strength to both cleave and provide a satisfying textural contrast with the creamy cheese. Bonus points: an actual cloth napkin, because you’ll never get the grease stains out of your $300 leather satchel.

Toe Jam

Well, that’s how you know you have too god damn much money: when you go into a bar in the Yukon, ask for the infamous Sourtoe cocktail, the one with the actual preserved human toe in it, swallow the thing whole including the toe, slam the $500 fine down on the counter, and walk out.

As one does.

The Sourtoe cocktail is a real thing, and has been a real thing in Dawson City since the Seventies, 1973 to be exact, when a severed human toe turned up in a boat. You know, as they do. It’s even inspired a book: The Sourtoe Cocktail Club: The Yukon Odyssey of a Father and Son in Search of a Mummified Human Toe … and Everything Else!

sourtoe cocktail book

Well, being Northerners, it occurred to the locals that the best thing they could do with their toe booty would be to preserve it in salt, then charge tourists outrageous prices to drink a cocktail with this most Goth of all garnishes in it. In the beginning, the cocktail was a beer mug full of Champagne, but soon enough they realized that using expensive ingredients cut into the margin and besides, they wanted to cater to the Bacardi and Coke crowd too, so they allowed people to order whatever they liked, “Sourtoe style” and charged them premium rates.

Sourtoe Cocktail in the flesh

Sourtoe Cocktail in the flesh

The rule was, the toe had to touch the lips, and many a toetippler would pose for commemorative photos brandishing the brown and shriveled appendage like a stubby cigar. Naturally, when tourists are paying $20 a shot for Canadian Club with a toe in it, and $5 a shot for CC without, it behooves one to take care with one’s toes, and to put exorbitant fines on anyone who would masticate or otherwise abscond with or damage said tootsie-section. In the Seventies, $500 was a big fine. Not so much today, as one American tourist reportedly knew. He was the (hero? No. Protagonist? No.) nouveau riche or at least nouveau flush in the first paragraph, who apparently had done his homework (there’s a website whose design apparently dates from the 90’s. The 1890’s) and thought the boasting rights were worth the money.

Hell, any fool can get bottle service, but how many can talk about the time they committed cannibalism legally?

French Trim Rib Roast of Beef

French Trim Rib Roast of Beef

Few people hold French cuisine in higher esteem than I do, and yet I have to confess that I’ve never really understood the purpose of French trimming a beef rib roast. I think it’s supposed to be about presentation, a line of thinking that says that having the rib bones exposed makes it look better. (Image above courtesy of Country Valley Foods.)

I don’t see it. To my mind, few things look as good as a traditional English, standing rib roast, brought to the table, browned and dripping juices, looking like the most delicious and primal food imaginable. The rib roast is like a roast turkey, it’s one of those festive, presentation dishes that needs little to make it work other than a sure hand in the kitchen, someone who knows how to season properly, and how to get the timing right.

The point of roast meat, be it a leg of lamb, a turkey, a suckling pig, or a rib roast, is that simple, honest presentation reflects good-tasting, wholesome food.. Good meat is one of those things that speaks for itself, in terms of deliciousness and looks. Don’t tart your roast pig like a fancy lad, just Score his skin, put an apple in the mouth, and roast him to golden brown perfection.

This is one area where English butchers have it all over their French counterparts. No fancy French tricks can compare to the Roast Beef of England.

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