Tuesday, March 23, 2010

akimenko meats: bridging the gap between city dweller and local farmer

As many of you may know, my good friend Vadim Akimenko is opening an independent butcher shop in the Somerville/Cambridge area of Massachusetts. Six days ago, we started a fund raising program through Kickstarter.com and the response has been amazing. I want to thank everyone who has already contributed and put the link out there so that any interested parties know how to get involved. The funds collected through Kickstarter will help secure a location for the shop and act as some initial seed money, which will be used as a down-payment for loans and cover some expenses leading up to the opening of the shop. Akimenko Meats is also looking for some more substantial investors. The total cost of opening/building/stocking the shop is somewhere in the ballpark of $200,000, so every little bit counts. We have put together a nice list of investor rewards for people who decide to donate via Kickstarter. Check it out, or drop me a line at lickmybalsamic@gmail.com for more details or more direct contact information.

Here's a little bit of information about Akimenko Meats and what it's all about:

Akimenko Meats strives to bridge the gap between the city dweller and our local farmers. Our commitment to our neighbors is to bring in local, organic, and sustainable products while supporting the local agricultural community, building customer awareness, ultimately aiding our local economy.

Akimenko Meats will deal primarily with farms in a 250 mile radius and whole animals. To help make Akimenko Meats more sustainable we will offer house made charcuteries and stocks, making use of the whole animal. Our ultimate goal is to make local and sustainable meats available to all walks of life and year round. Akimenko Meats does not believe that eating with an ethical conscience should be a privilege that only the wealthy can afford.

We want our customers to be engaged directly with our butchers, so we will not have meat in cases. This is another way to bring the customers closer to the source of their food, bring down the barriers that separate us from the customers and build personal relationship to help support the community. Our unique philosophy for customer service will set us apart from other shops in the area.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

garlic coffee-mug popovers

garlic coffee-mug popovers, originally uploaded by aarn! +14th March, 2010+.

crushed together 2 cloves of garlic with a pinch of salt, 1t. garlic powder, 1 sprig of fresh chopped rosemary, and 2 cloves of olive oil poached garlic, in a mortar and pestle until it made a smooth paste. beat together in a mixing bowl 2 large eggs, 1c. whole milk, 1/2t. salt, 3T. of melted butter and the garlic paste. mixed 1c. of sifted all purpose flour into the wet mixture, until fully integrated. let the batter sit for 15-minutes.

placed four large diner-style mugs on a baking sheet and placed in a 450-degree oven. dropped a 3/4T. pad of butter in the bottom of each cup after they had been in the oven for about 5-minutes. let the mugs and butter heat up for about 15-minutes, then mixed the batter one last time and distributed it evenly into the hot buttered mugs in the oven. allowed the batter to bake[/fry] at 450-degrees for 20-minutes, then lowered the temperature to 350-degrees for an additional 15-minutes (until the tops were nice and crispy-brown).

ran a small paring knife around the inside edge of each mug and shook out the popovers. let cool on a rack for a few minutes, then ate them all.

[notes: recipe modified from cooks illustrated. added more butter to the mixture, cooked in butter instead of veg. oil, and added the spice paste thing. and yeah, who has a popover pan? i'm not going to buy a special pan for one dish that i have never made before and might not make again, sure they didn't really pop-over, but whatever.]

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

cheddar-rosemary biscuits with sake-sausage gravy and a pickled pepper puree

cut 1 1/2T. of bacon drippings and 1 1/2T. lard into 1c. of sifted bread flour. added to the dry mixture: 1 1/2t. baking powder, 1t. salt, 1t. coarse-ground black pepper, and 1t. of fresh chopped rosemary. gently mixed a little bit of milk and 1c. of coarsely shredded sharp white cheddar into the dry ingredients, and then enough heavy cream to make the dough the right consistency (being careful to not over mix and incorporate the blobs of fat from the bacon and lard into the liquid, the consistency for the biscuit dough is similar to the consistency of the baked biscuit, should not change shape after placed on the baking sheet). dropped three globs onto a buttered baking sheet, then placed on a middle rack in a 435-degree oven until the bottom was nice and brown and the top started to develop some color, probably about 15 or 20-minutes.

heated a skillet containing a little bit of olive oil. added a finely diced half of an onion to the hot skillet. cooked the onion until slightly tender, added four sliced-up homemade sausages. let the sausages brown for a bit, but not fully cook, then added a cup or so of cheap-ass sake, a pinch of salt, pepper, korean chili flakes, hot pepper flakes, fresh thyme, and marjoram. let the sake reduce for a few minutes, then added a splash of stock, 2T. butter, 2T. of flour, and stirred until well-incorporated. hit the gravy mixture with a healthy splash of heavy cream, and a few dashes of hot sauce, then let reduce until the proper muddy consistency.

poured a heaping puddle of heart attack over the flaky biscuit, topped with a squirt of homemade pickled pepper puree.

[note: as i was editing the photo, i realized that unless you know and love biscuits and gravy, this probably looks like a pile of vomit...it's really hard to make this dish look appetizing. also, taken with a friend's camera, wish that i had my lens for this one, natural light finally.]