Compound Tomato Sauce (lacto-fermented ketchup)

Also see updated recipe here

Adapted from a recipe in The First African-American Cookbook from 1881 using a method described by Sally Fallon, this is a rich, thick  fermented (rather than cooked) ketchup.  I left out the high fructose corn syrup, in case you feel like calling the food police..

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1 1/2 cups organic tomato paste (or make your own)
1/8 cup whey
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (optional)
1/8 cup fermented fish sauce OR 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice

Grind dry ingredients together in a spice grinder or mortar.  Add to the rest of the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and stir well to combine.

Add filtered water, if necessary, to achieve the thickness that you prefer.

Transfer ketchup to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and allow to sit at room temperature for 48-72 hours before transferring to refrigerator for long-term storage.


Thai Red Curry Cod with Mango Sticky Rice

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Sauté Thai red curry paste (chilies, shallots, galangal, fish sauce, herbs and spices) in oil until fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Add coconut milk, fresh kaffir lime leaves, basil, scallions and red bell peppers and reduce to a simmer.

Add Alaskan cod filet and poach (turning once) until opaque, about 10-15 minutes depending on thickness.

Meanwhile, prepare jasmine rice with lemon grass and mango purée.

To serve, ladle curry onto plate or shallow bowl, add rice and place cod on top.  Garnish with a dollop of coconut cream, lime leaves, basil and red pepper.

Rating  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

“Politics of the Plate”

As it was last year, the commercial salmon fishery south of the Canadian border will be closed in 2009. The cause is not over-fishing, but the failure of young salmon to survive long enough to leave their natal streams and enter the ocean.

Barry Estabrook, Gourmet Magazine

Sarah Palin and Alaskan salmon

“At the very least, there was something fishy about Alaska Governor (and Vice Presidential hopeful) Sarah Palin’s decision to speak out publicly against the state’s Clean Water Initiative late last month. There may also be something blatantly illegal about her advocacy for defeating the ballot initiative, which ultimately failed to pass when 57 percent of Alaskans voted against it.

A bit of background. The Clean Water Initiative (aka Ballot Measure 4) was put in place to restrict the amount of arsenic and other toxic pollutants that new, large-scale mines could dump into the state’s waterways. Its stated goal was to protect human health and safeguard salmon that use the rivers and streams to spawn. More specifically, it was aimed at a massive gold and copper operation called Pebble Mine located directly upstream of Bristol Bay, site of one of the world’s largest and most sustainable wild salmon fisheries, which produced 31 million pounds of king, sockeye, and chum salmon in 2007.

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White Bean Soup w/Caramelized Leeks, Fennel & Venison Sausage

Soak dry white beans overnight or use drained canned white beans if that’s what you have.

Cook diced pork belly and venison sausage until the meat is brown and all the fat has rendered.  Drain well, reserving 1 tablespoon of fat.

Add meat to simmering stock with cracked pepper, fresh thyme and marjoram.

Caramelize leeks and fennel in reserved fat, about 15 minutes.

Deglaze pan with white wine and add garlic, roasted red bell pepper and green chilies.  Add to the stock and simmer 20 minutes.  Skim away any accumulated grease.

Add beans and cooked orzo. Simmer 5 minutes.

Add 1 leaf softened gelatin.

Add a few squeezes of fresh lemon to brighten, and taste for salt.

Serve with smoked paprika and additional fresh herbs.

Rating  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ –

Moroccan Lamb with Grilled Tomatoes

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Crush together coriander, cayenne, cumin, cloves, pepper, cinnamon, allspice and sea salt and add ginger, bruised garlic, lemons and olive oil.  Marinate locally raised lamb loins in this mixture for at least 4 hours.

2 hours before dinner put together flat bread dough from flour, water, yeast, ghee, salt, yoghurt and Za’atar with sumac.  Let it rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.  Roll or stretch by hand and bake in a lightly oiled pan at 400 degrees until brown on both sides (flip once), about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the lamb from the marinade and cut into 1 inch thick medallions.  Sauté in a little of the marinade with garlic over medium-high heat until cooked rare.  Transfer to side to keep warm (it will continue to cook off-heat).  Sauté fresh spinach and tomato wedges in same pan, season as you like.

To serve, alternate lamb medallions and tomato wedges on top of spinach, with flat bread, harissa and yoghurt on the side.

Rating  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ +