In Praise of Open-Faced Sandwiches

Some sandwiches don't need a top.

21st Jan 2010

alton brown sandwich

Personally, I didn't need any convincing, but after seeing the above picture, I can see why you might. It's the same reason Alton Brown went to great lengths on a recent episode of Good Eats to hide a central ingredient in his recipe. Something small, something oily, something canned, something with a rather poor reputation. This particular foodstuff was apart of a puzzling, yet intriguing...

There Will be Blood. Sausages.

7th Jan 2010

blood sausage 1

Last year I fell in love with blood sausage.  Maybe that sounds strange.  So let me explain.

In Estonia, around Christmastime, they begin to fill up the meat counters, black and smooth. Just piles of them.  When Christmas comes, everyone roasts pork and potatoes, makes sauerkraut, and serves them with blood sausages.  And it wasn't until I had them as apart of this ritual that I began to...

Cardamom Cinnamon Rolls: Our New Holiday Tradition

Check out a better way to make cinnamon rolls.

11th Nov 2009

cardamom cinnamon rolls

Every Christmas, we eat cinnamon rolls. That's just how it is. When I was little, someone would wake up early and drive over to the Cinnabon store and come back with a gooey dozen, and always make sure there was extra frosting. The things were so big and sweet that it would take most of Christmas morning to finish one, plus three or four glasses of milk. The cinnamon rolls tided us over until...

Pork Rillettes

The best kind of wedding appetizers.

7th Sep 2009

pork rillettes 1

A pure expression of the pig: nothing extraneous, nothing wasted.  Pork, salt, and a little bit of time: that's all you need to make rillettes.  It was a beautiful idea which had led me to the kitchen, where I had 25 pounds of pork (a ball of lard, huge hunks of shoulder, and a bag of spare ribs larger than a medium-sized dog) and where I realized I was in over my head.

C onfiture de coch...

Restaurants We Weren''t Looking For: Provence

Blake finds hidden gems in France.

21st May 2009

la regalade 1

Our goal for eating in France, as our budget was limited, was to find simple and unpretentious food.  And though we hit the ground running with a list of online recommendations culled from a number of sources--an article in Travel + Leisure , searches on Chowhound and eGullet, guidebooks galore--some of our best and most memorable meals came from eclectic little spots that nobody had writt...

A Visit to Hellenurme Watermill, Valga County, Estonia

Blake visits a famed watermill in Estonia.

6th May 2009

water mill 2

I knew next to nothing about watermills before heading down to see one in southern Estonia, so I had an open mind.  The website promised a tour, a glass of milk and fresh warm bread.  So when the offer of a ride down came up, I had little reason to turn it down.

When we arrived, we found an idle lake reflecting the brilliant blue sky, clouds tossing across the sky, and a brick building...

Easter Dinner and My Mysteriously Cheap Lamb Chops

Cooking Easter dinner with no oven.

14th Apr 2009

lamb easter dinner 6

Easter dinner has always been a giant-baked-ham affair for me.  Glazed with a sticky concoction loaded to its saturation point with brown sugar and splashed with bourbon, studded with cloves, and baked until warm and tender--ah, it's hard to beat.

Living here in a country full of pork , I figured reproducing this wouldn't be too hard to pull off.  But two problems presented themselves:...

My New Apartment, and Its One Little Problem

6th Apr 2009

estonianooven01

Over the weekend, Elin and I moved into a new apartment in a different part of Tartu.  Our previous digs belong to her relatives, who only live in Estonia for the better half of the year, when the sun shines and the days are long.  Last week they came back to Estonia to claim their apartment, leaving us to find somewhere else to live for the remaining few months of our time here.

To say the...

Biltong

Blake discovers South African dried beef.

25th Mar 2009

By Blake Royer Here in Estonia there is a word,...

biltong01

Here in Estonia there is a word, kevadväsimus , that translates as "spring fatigue."  It's the expression that refers to a grim mood that seizes us all when the sun has come out and the days are growing longer yet all other signs still point to winter.  We know the weather will improve, but it's that sliver of hope that makes it no...

Focaccia, the Easiest Homemade Bread

The best bread to make for those that don't like to make bread.

6th Mar 2009

If bread making scares you like it scares me, but the lure of authenticity is irresistible, then focaccia may be the place to begin.

homemade focaccia1

The intoxicating smell of yeast; the wet stickiness between your fingers; the magical billowing quality of the dough when a warm spot trns it into a living thing.  These are the pleasures of bread making.  And these are the pleasures I am almost wholly unfam...

Best of 2008: Now...where do you live?

6th Feb 2009

Bestof2008where

It sounds like an easy question to answer, but sometimes even I have a hard time remembering where Blake is half the time (Don't even get me started on what time zone he lives in).  I can only imagine what casual readers might think.  In the past three years we've both lived in a combined total of 9 or so apartments, which doesn't include Blake's month of couch surfing, which might bring...

Authentic Carnitas and Three Pounds of Lard

Lard is the secret to this Mexican classic.

5th Jan 2009

carnitas 15

By the time I fished the three pounds of pork hunks from the lard and stacked them on the cutting board,far more guests had arrived than I had originally planned.  It was a New Year's Eve party, but I thought dinner would just be an intimate gathering of 5 or so, and then we'd meet up with more friends later in the night.  But apparently my calls for meeting up later meant that they should c...

The Markets of Tartu, Estonia

20th Oct 2008

tartumarkets01

I've moved to Tartu, Estonia with Elin, where she is doing research, and I'm now neck-deep in a deeply confusing language which has no prepositions, word for "he" or "she", no future tense, and three different Os -- o, õ, and ö (ask me to pronounce them in succession: it sounds like I'm trying to lift a piano).  And of course, I'm learning to cook in this new place.  Good food is frighteni...