Culatello and Fiocco – I Am Ham, Ham I Am

Fiocco and CulatelloWhen we returned from our Tuscan vacation back in October I was extra-inspired to try curing new things like salumi and hams. Eating prosciutto all week will do that to you. Inspired, yes, but not quite ready to go whole hog (ha ha ha) and hang an entire leg in my basement. Instead, I opted to cut a ham into two smaller, boneless hams, which would be ready to eat much quicker: the culatello and fiocco. Fiocco being the smaller of the two it came out of the curing fridge this week. (more…)

Creamy Mushroom Soup – A Good Winter Warmer

Creamy Mushroom SoupThis week’s post was inspired by a bowl of mushroom soup Cheryl had over the weekend at one of our favorite local French restaurants. As is often the case when she orders something really delicious she asks ‘can you make this?’ Of course I can, dear. For you, anything. One pot of creamy mushroom soup coming up! (more…)

Spanish Chorizo

Ever since I purchased Ruhlman’s Charcuterie years ago I’ve wanted to make Spanish chorizo but it requires dextrose and meat starter culture, two ingredients I never had on hand and had always put off buying. That all changed last month when I decided this coming winter would be the winter of fermented sausage and ordered the necessary ingredients. Chorizo was top of the list as the first sausage to get made. (more…)

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving – Some Side Dish Ideas

Snoopy_Woodstock_Thanksgiving_DinnerThanksgiving is a week away so you better start thinking about your menu! There are certain things you know you’re going to have, like a turkey, but for the most part you get a free range with your sides. Cheryl and I have been doing Thanksgiving together for eight years now and we’re always trying out at least one new side dish, or a twist on it. Here are a few which ideas which might come in handy next week. (more…)

Nduja – Taking The Next Step on The Path of Charcuterie

Nduja - Spicy Calabrian sausageI am very excited about this week’s post. The first time we ate nduja was years ago at The Purple Pig here in Chicago and neither of us knew what it was, except that it was really fricking awesome. It’s a Calabrian sausage (toe of the Italian boot) and it is spicy! Spreadable, you can eat it on bread or add as a flavoring to soups, stews, stuff chicken breasts with it, mix in with sauce and pasta, have with eggs; it’s a very versatile sausage. Nduja also introduces a new technique for the artisanal craft sausage maker, fermenting. I don’t know if this technique is the pinnacle of sausage making but it sure seems so. (more…)

Sautéed Pumpkin and Chestnuts

Thanksgiving side dish Pumpkin with chestnutsPumpkins have been filling up our CSA box here at the end of the season, and aside from pureed soups and pies what else can you do with them? Well, pumpkin is squash so you can treat it just like any other squash by roasting, mashing, or sautéing. This week I came across an interesting recipe for sautéed pumpkin and chestnuts which further satisfied my ‘what else…?’ question. (more…)