Monthly Archives: September 2011

Toast Post: Maytag Blue

wallpaper for a small sitting room

Maytag Blue.  I’d never had it, I’d heard about it, I’d associated it with the washing machine repair guy.  So when I was looking for a blue cheese to pair with my oven roasted fig ball from Cheese Boutique it did not cross my mind.  I was thinking of Bleu D’Auvergne.  But then Afrim at C.B. gave me a taste of this fruity, creamy and very fresh blue.  Which means (in my mind) it smelled like the outdoors (not like a sheet of Bounce supposedly smells like the outdoors.)

And actually, it is the son of the Maytag appliance founder that created this cheese.  So the above association is correct.  Sometimes you’re smarter than you think.  Often not.

It was a perfect pairing  with this fig ball (Artibel is the producer)

peel away figs like orange segments

The fig ball hails from Italy’s Calabria region and here is some more info from the Italian Harvest website.

The fig balls  preparation involves drying the figs for days, then oven glazing and packing them together with molasses and honey of figs. This preparation is then wrapped in a fig leaf and tied with a piece of straw, creating an intriguing and interesting old world appearance (packaging in stainless steel would not be the same at all).  These figs are extremely rich, moist, and densely packed. (yes, the fig ball kicks dense, sweet ass.)

Mr. Pristine at C.B. said that fresh fig balls would be arriving in November and I am thinking this would be pretty wonderful for entertaining as the holidays are upon us.  Afterall, nothing says “I remember” more than a fig ball on Remembrance Day.  Other than a poppy.  Yes, I concede, that might be better.

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Filed under Cheese/Cheese Related, Toast Posts

My tomato bowl runneth over

My bounty

I have four tomato plants in my backyard.  I used to plant six but that just caused grief.  They got big, they intertwined, they bent over in despair.  I was too overwhelmed to help them.  Those tomato “cages” are not easy to put around a 4 foot plant with a tomatoes growing on it.  (I suppose putting it on when it was a small seedling would be easier).

I always plant cherry tomatoes and this year I had two of the small round yellow tomato plants (upper left), one of the small green kind (upper right) and one of the lumpy yellow ones (bottom).

I wish with all my heart I remembered the names of the tomatoes–especially the lumpy yellow one as it they are so sweet I can barely stop eating them, even half-ripe.  I knew the names when I bought them and did not write them done.  “I will remember these names,” I thought, which is about the same as waking up in the middle of the night and thinking, “I will remember this dream”.

Four plants has provided a good crop for us.  We’ve been enjoying tomato salads all August and now with the branches full of ever ripening bounty I have been making tomato sauce.

not pretty but pretty darn yummy*

So here’s what I do when I get a bowl full (about 4-5 cups?).  I get out a large pan, sauté a finely chopped onion in olive oil and mash in some fresh garlic once the onion has softened.  Then I pour in the tomatoes and let simmer them until they pop, soften and release all their juicy insides.  I continue simmering  until the sauce thickens a bit and just season with a bit of sea salt.  THAT IS IT.

I always buy good pasta for these late summer meals and in this case I topped with whole milk ricotta which cut the acidity of the sauce and makes it even better.

I realized fast that I am much too lazy to blanche and peel cherry tomatoes but it actually doesn’t matter.  The sauce still tastes amazing.  It is such a perfect example of using simple, good ingredients.  And some mysteriously fertile soil at the side of our garage.  Our Macedonian neighbors are so jealous.

Tomatoes = Sauce

I am cooking up another batch today.  And thinking of my friend who started out the gardening season with a ridiculous amount of seedlings–300?  He’ll be laughing if it’s a long winter (but stressed right now as he spends the wee hours bidding on stockpots through ebay ).   And I think he’s much more likely than I to not make sauce with tomato skins in it.  Life it tougher for the perfectionists.  But if you’re really fussed you can strain the sauce through a colander which will catch most of the skin I suppose. Or just don’t eat at my house.

*that is my son’s hand ( in the photo)  stealing my food.  We had a talk, don’t worry.


Filed under All Recipes, Ruminations on the Edible

Fee Fi Fo Foie

Guilt or no guilt?

If you ever want to elevate your picnic try try bringing some foie gras mousse.  This also applies events like bad movie night, a root canal or 3am at Sick Kids with your wheezing child.  I would add doing your taxes to the list, but if you’ve had the discipline to start your taxes you are certainly not going to continue knowing there’s foie gras mousse around.

This particular jar came from La Ferme Basque is Baie-St-Paul where we stopped during our Charlevoix vacation (read about it in the Globe) in August.  The woman who runs the operation is from the Basque region of France and makes the foie gras in a traditional way.  Even her lilting and soothing french accent could not make “force feeding” sound completely benign…. but it helped.

I suppose had I had serious moral dilemma with the whole thing I wouldn’t be showing you a half-eaten jar.  But, at least on a smaller scale using more traditional methods the whole thing sounded more humane.  And tasted so good on a baguette.

Near the end of their lives, for four weeks the geese are force-fed corn to fatten their livers (the traditional process is known as gavage).  Apparently geese are very social and like to be together (…birds of a feather is so true…) so unlike large industrial producers La Ferme Basque keeps the geese in groups, not seperate cages, so they are less stressed.

let's put a far-away face to these geese

Industrial Geese in individual cages:

Goose 1: Hey, did you just have a tube filled with liquid corn and corn syrup shoved down your throat?

Good 2: Yes.  Can I sleep beside you?

Goose 1:  Impossible.

Small Farm Raised Geese kept in groups:

Goose 1: Hey, did you just have a tube filled with corn kernels shoved down your throat?

Goose 2: Yes. Can I sleep beside you?

Goose 3:  Get in line.

Apparently the main reason some geese die because they are overfed.  Errrr…OVER over-fed.  On this smaller scale there are two or three people who do the feeding twice a  day.  In traditional “gavage” the same feeders always work with the same geese and they keep a hand at the base of the neck and can tell when it is dangerous to give more food.  It varies from goose to goose  (I know my limit with gummi bears  is 3/4 of a lbs).  In industrial production each goose gets the same amount of corn-liquid no matter what their size.

I also did not know that there were specific breeds of geese which were naturally better at digesting.  So obviously better for forced gluttony.   All in all, the geese are treated humanely (aside from the tube in the throat) and then shipped off to be slaughtered and turned into luxury food.

See–it’s hard to be totally on board when everything you write has to be followed with “aside from the tube in the throat”.


The goose had a great day at the CNE followed by some light tapas and Salsa dancing (aside from the tube in the throat).


The goose loved going on joyrides in the tractor and dancing under the light of a silvery moon (aside from the tube in the throat).

I just don’t know.

Decide for yourself—  read this excellent posting about the controversy and the guilt of loving foie from the Guardian UK.


Filed under Blogs with cooking tips, Restaurants and Products, Ruminations on the Edible, Uncategorized

Salami Haiku


Diamonds are not

always a girls’ best friend so

take that Tiffany’s.

**the model in this picture was shot on white ceramic at magic hour in the tungsten light of a kitchen.  She’s wearing a sausage casing (her own).

(artisinal Salami is from Baie-St-Paul in Charelvoix.  Read more and drool…)


Filed under Food Haiku, Strange but Tasty, Travel and Food