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Rotten Shark

Food bureaucrats of Brussels rejoice. There is new exotic food on the way, just begging to be banned!

The recipe* (Traditional method):

Take one large shark, gut and discard the innards, the cartilage and the head. Cut flesh into large pieces.Wash in running water to get all slime and blood off. Dig a large hole in coarse gravel, preferably down by the sea and far from the nearest inhabited house – this is to make sure the smell doesn’t bother anybody. Put in the shark pieces, and press them well together. It’s best to do this when the weather is fairly warm (but not hot), as it hastens the curing process. Cover with more gravel and put heavy rocks on top to press down. Leave for 6-7 weeks (in summer) to 2-3 months (in winter). During this time, fluid will drain from the shark flesh, and putrefication will set in.

When the shark is soft and smells like ammonia, remove from the gravel, wash, and hang in a drying shack. This is a shack or shed with plenty of holes to let the wind in, but enough shade to prevent the sun from shining directly on the shark. Let it hang until it is firm and fairly dry: 2-4 months. Warm, windy and dry weather will hasten the process, while cold, damp and still weather will delay it.

Slice off the brown crust, cut the whitish flesh into small pieces and serve, preferably with a shot of ice-cold brennivín.

The modern method for curing shark relies on putting it into a large container with a drainage hole, and letting it cure as it does when buried in gravel.

*Don’t try it at home, even if you find a ready-dead shark at your doorstep.
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Soupe de petits pois, brochette de reblochon

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Ingrédients

* 450 g de petits pois bio surgelés
* 1 oignon (de 80 g)
* 30 cl d’eau
* 20 cl de crème liquide bio
* 10 g de poudre de bouillon de volaille
* 5 g de sel
* 2 cuillères à soupe d’huile d’olive
* du reblochon

Préparation

1. Pelez et émincez l’oignon. Faites-le cuire pendant 2 minutes sur feu moyen dans l’huile d’olive. Mélangez de temps en temps.
2. Ajoutez les petits pois surgelés et versez l’eau, la crème et le bouillon de volaille. Salez. Mélangez. Portez à ébullition puis laissez cuire 8 minutes et mixez. Reversez la soupe dans la casserole et maintenez-la au chaud.
3. Ecroûtez le reblochon et détaillez-le en 12 cubes pas trop gros. Piquez-les sur 4 petites brochettes.
4. Répartissez la soupe dans 4 bocaux ou dans 4 assiettes creuses et posez dessus la brochette de fromage.

*Le reblochon

Roasted aubergines with capers

* 2 aubergines
* 4 tbsp olive oil
* 30g Grana Padano, roughly chopped or coarsely grated
* 2 tbsp capers, rinsed and dried
* Handful fresh mint leaves

Click here for the recipe.

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Caper (Capparis spinosa) – Origin and name etymology

Capers can today be found growing wild all over Medi­terranean, and are frequently cultivated (e.g., in France, Spain, Italy and Algeria; furthermore, Iran, Cyprus and Greece produce significant amounts); their origin is, though, supposed in the dry areas of Western or Central Asia.

Caper and its relatives in several European tongues can be traced back to Classical Latin capparis “caper”. Latin capparis, in turn, was borrowed from Greek kapparis [κάππαρις], whose origin (as that of the plant) is unknown but probably West or Central Asia. Another theory links kapparis to the name of the island Cyprus (Kypros [Κύπρος]), where capers grow abun­dantly.

Names of capers in most European languages share a common origin and are indeed quite similar, for example, Italian cappero, French câpre, Estonian kappar, Swedish kapris, Czech kapara, Russian kapersy [каперсы] and Greek kappari [κάππαρη]. In English, the word appeared first as capers, which was, however, later interpreted as a plural, and the new singular caper was backformed.

Spanish tápana and related names of the Western Mediterranean also derive from Latin capparis, although I do not understand the details. Provençal tapeno lies behind the name tapenade for a famous French appetizer

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(Hat tip: Mary L. for pointing me to Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages.)

Hummus

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Hummus

2 cloves garlic—roughly chopped
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup water
14 oz (400g) canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans)—rinsed and drained
½ cup tahini
1 teaspoon sea salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth, scraping the sides occasionally.

Variations: If you like a spicier hummus, add a small red chili (chopped) or a pinch of cayenne pepper, or try a little cumin for a more exotic variation.

Tip: Prepare extra quantities of this hummus—it can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 week and frozen for up to 3 months.

hummus


Going overground: the new wave of underground restaurants

It’s the new thing!’ I keep reading in the papers. Usually in the same paragraph as ‘the new foodie fad’, ‘pop-up’, ‘guerilla dining’, or ‘underground’. Yet amid this current media feeding frenzy, surely I’m not the only one who can’t see the emperor’s new clothes?

I’m referring, of course, to the ‘new’ trend of food-loving amateur cooks hosting smart dinner parties, then charging their guests for the privilege. It seems to be the charging money bit that takes people aback – well it’s not very British, is it? Guests are not expected to pay. But what if the guests are virtual strangers?

There are several entrepreneurs in London doing exactly this, operating de facto restaurants from their own homes, in the grey area between hosting a dinner party and running a licensed restaurant (see our feature on some of the secret restaurants in London). The advantages for the host are clear: no VAT, not tax, no health inspectors, no red tape. And the cash goes straight into their pockets.

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Dugh (Persian Yogurt Drink)

* 3 cups organic low fat yogurt
* 20 leaves fresh mint finely chopped/or dried mint flakes, crushed
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 4 1/2 glasses sparkling water (preferably S.Pellegrino =)

Pour yogurt, salt, and pepper into a large pitcher and stir. Add sparkling water and mint and stir again with an egg beater until there no lumps. Chill before serving.

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Photo source: Ario_j , Some rights reserved

Frisée, poires et bleu

…ἔκτοσθεν δ’ αὐλῆς μέγας ὄρχατος ἄγχι θυράων
τετράγυος: περὶ δ’ ἕρκος ἐλήλαται ἀμφοτέρωθεν.
ἔνθα δὲ δένδρεα μακρὰ πεφύκασι τηλεθόωντα,
ὄγχναι καὶ ῥοιαὶ καὶ μηλέαι ἀγλαόκαρποι
συκέαι τε γλυκεραὶ καὶ ἐλαῖαι τηλεθόωσαι.
τάων οὔ ποτε καρπὸς ἀπόλλυται οὐδ’ ἀπολείπει
χείματος οὐδὲ θέρευς, ἐπετήσιος: ἀλλὰ μάλ’ αἰεὶ
Ζεφυρίη πνείουσα τὰ μὲν φύει, ἄλλα δὲ πέσσει.

— L’Odyssée, Chant vii

Au marché:

le coeur d’une salade frisée
2 poires mûres mais fermes
100 g de bleu d’Auvergne ou de bleu des Basques
50 g de noisettes
le jus d’un demi-citron
3 c. à soupe d’huile d’olive
1 c. à café d’huile de noisette
1 c. à soupe de vinaigre balsamique
1 c. à café de sauce de soja japonaise
poivre du moulin

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(Lire la suite)