After sharing a vintage armagnac cocktail recipe what lands in my mail box, Salty Snacks a how to 'make your own chips, crisps, crackers, pretzels, dips, and other savory bites' (Ten Speed Press, September 2012).
The 160 pages paperback by Cynthia Nims packs a bunch with 75 ways to salty snacks heaven.
Some like Tempura Green Beans with Tapenade Dip' leave you wondering if it calls for Shochu or a glass of Provence rosé.
My first pick from the book comes in as many flavor variations as there are regions in Italy according to Cynthia Nims.
11/2 teaspoons kosher salt or flaky or coarse sea
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup olive oil
Stir together the flour and salt in a bowl.
Add the wine and olive oil and stir until a cohesive dough forms. Shape into a
ball, cover the bowl with a towel, and let sit for 1 hour to allow the flour to
absorb moisture from the liquids.
Turn the dough out onto the counter and cut
it into 8 even portions. Roll 1 portion of the dough into a rope about 20 inches
long and 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut the dough rope across
into 5-inch pieces and form each piece into a circle, gently pinching at the
ends to seal. Set the formed dough on a baking sheet while rolling and forming
the remaining dough.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed
baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil
over medium-high heat. Gently add 6 or 7 of the taralli to the water and
simmer until they rise to the surface, about 2 minutes. Scoop them out with a
slotted spoon, drain for a moment over the pan, and arrange them on the
prepared baking sheet. They won’t expand much while baking, so can be close
together but should not be touching. Repeat with the remaining taralli,
allowing the water to reheat between batches as needed. Bake the taralli
until lightly browned and crisp, about 45 minutes. Transfer the taralli
to a wire rack to cool.
When all the taralli
have cooled, arrange them in a basket or bowl for serving, or store them in an airtight
container for up to 5 days.
The owner was proud to let me know that all items on sale are prepared by her and her husband.
They even grow some of the produce they use for their dishes including Spiky Cucumber (labeled 'Concombre Amer' or 'Sour Cucumber') above which she told me is popular in her native Cambodia as well as in Japan.
Spikes from an Asian French garden for Tokyo Thursdays # 241
In an earlier post, i mentioned how i noticed during my 2 weeks stay in Europe that the French seem to be more concerned with their water use-waste than most of us in the USA.
Another thing I noted on Toulouse streets is public recycling bins.
Besides their usefulness, they work as a gentle visual reminder.
It is much more effective than a do not litter sign.
Appeals to our do-gooder citizen side
I noted while reading on the topic that New York City has a similar program that I has not registered on my radar yet called NYCWasteLess whose focus is also public space recycling, from parks to neighborhood spaces.
As I was about to leave for Southwest France, Michael was just coming back from the region, Agen to be precise.
Q: Michael, let's start with an obvious question, why Salumi?
After success of Charcuterie which I also co-authored with Brian and especially the chapter on dry cured meats, our publisher asked us for follow up that would focus exclusively on that hence 'Salumi'.
Q: What is difference between Charcuterie and Salumi?
Charcuterie covers a larger field. It includes pates to terrines and confits. In Italy, Salumi is pretty much exclusively defined as dry cured meats (muscles, sausages) except for mortadella.
Q: How large is contingent of food lovers who want to know that jowl of pig is source for Guanciale and that Coppa is made with neck muscle?
Interest is actually larger than you would think. It is not unusual to find food fans who want to delve deep into nose to tail cooking and explore its techniques.
Q: Salumi offers around 10 salami recipes, which is your favorite?
I go for plain salami, salt, pepper, fat, simple flavors.
Q: What was division of labor between you and Brian while writing Salumi?
Just like with Charcuterie, Brian handled the recipes while I wrote all the texts. To understand the process, I did learn to break the hog. Brian has a great source for pigs in Ohio. Brian of course has more hands-on experience as he preps and cures meats for his 2 restaurants and also teaches charcuterie class.
Q: Why are peaches and plums good accompaniments for coppa and large calabrese salami?
These fruits pair well with saltiness of coppa and salumi. Their presence in book's photos was influenced by fact that they were in season when photo shoot took place in New York. Brian was there. I was not.
Q: How many readers of 'Salumi' do you hope will try their hand at making their own salumi? Any recommendations on where should they start?
I hope many will give dry curing a try. Coppa is a good place to start. Ask your butcher or meat purveyor for muscle cut out of shoulder. All muscles are an easier step to dry curing.
Q: Are some urban dwellers attracted to Salumi and salumi making by the physical aspect of it (cutting, tying)? Are there specific challenges they might encounter?
I don't know about physical aspect of the work. In big cities like New York, the main challenge readers who want to venture making their own salumi will encounter is space (small kitchens). They should settle for small batches that can be stored in mini fridge dedicated to that purpose.
Q: Among the recipes you share at the end of the book, would some be OK without meat?
A pasta carbonara is of course out of the question but why not with others. Recipes were included for those who will not take the step of dry curing themselves yet like to buy beautiful salami and can put these tasty cuts to use with these recipes.
Q: What would you drink with the Coppa, Orange and Onion Salad recipe?
It calls for a rustic, simple, Sicilian red. Touring salumi makers, we tasted their cuts with bread and red wine.
Q: While doing research for the book in Italy, what was your favorite moment, best encounter?
It was at Spannochia, a farm/culinary school in Tuscany specializing in Cinta Senese pigs. They teach their students to be proud of their work and care about the quality of the ingredients they use. A young American, Elisa from New Jersey, was one of the students when we visited.
I hope this interview aged gracefully in the 4 weeks it took me to publish it. Thanks Michael.
Bian Polcyn is the chef-owner of Forest Grill and Cinco Lagos in suburban Detroit. He also teaches charcuterie at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan.
Time spent in Europe last year might have been too short and hurried for me to notice small differences in the way people live and consume.
Fresh from 2 weeks mostly in Southwest France in and around Toulouse (I came back to the US yesterday afternoon), I can share some differences in way people live and consume there compared to Americans in general.
Water consumption, reducing it, is a big thing. Showers are preferred to baths. Toilets offer 2 speeds-strengths for flushing. Individuals use their bath towels at least 2 days in a row and hotels encourage their guests to do the same.
When shopping at local supermarket and looking for milk, I first headed for refrigerated dairy section only to find out that cow milk (as is case for Soy milk in US) is stocked on non refrigerated shelves separate from yogurts, cheese and the like.