March 5, 2010

Kitchen days

The cool weather has driven me into the kitchen. I like seafood and local markets here offer a
variety, including a good many wild-caught fish... cod, haddock, snapper, roughie, as well as the
ubiquitous, though delicious, farm-raised tilapia and shrimp. I generally favor a crusty saute, or
poaching.

Speaking of which, my enforced leisure has inspired me to revisit one of my favorite breakfast
dishes: poached eggs on a toasted English muffin, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and sent under
the broiler for a few seconds. Pancakes, too, have made a comeback at Chez Jeaux. I use Bob’s Red
Mill gluten-free pancake mix. Bob, 81 years old, recently gave his company to his employees. I’m
not surprised. There was always a good vibe around all things Red Mill. I dug out my nephew’s
maple syrup from the back of the fridge, the real thing, still perfect after six years in storage.

“You’re full of potatoes,” my father used to say and he was quite right. A day doesn’t go by when
I don’t eat some... mashed, fried or as a salad, German-style. A bowl of boiled red spuds is
rarely absent from my refrigerator, ready to be diced, sliced, shoestringed, or mashed. These
homebody days have even inspired me to try my hand at making a couple of condiments. Last week I
made a jar of ketchup. Tasty. Turbinado sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. The
characteristic spice in ketchup, I was surprised to learn, is clove. Seems obvious now. When I
first learned that cinnamon is a standard flavoring in cola, that was all I tasted for quite some
time.

Today, I went for the gold: mayonnaise. I’d made it years ago, and forgotten how delicious it can
be. I’ve grown wary of the ubiquitousness of soy in everything, pervasive in commercial mayonnaise
these days. Making mayo is a pretty simple procedure, with only a few ingredients. Mastering the
emulsion, whisking a tiny stream of oil into the egg yolk, is at the heart of the magic. Lemon
juice, a bit of mustard, a pinch of cayenne, and salt, complete the classic recipe. Salmonella
contamination is the obvious, if rather remote, concern. If the egg is washed before the shell is
cracked, the risk is minimal. If I’m still around 72 hours from now I may never buy Hellman’s
again.



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