Monthly Archives: October 2014

Super Hors D’oeuvre

Of all the stationery and passed appetizer possibilities offered during the cocktail hour at a young cousin’s wedding at Liberty Warehouse in Brooklyn, NY, last weekend, one of my favorites (and the one that seems most doable at home) was the darling, diminutive take-off on classic tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Passed on trays, the soup was served in shot glasses with the tiny triangular sandwiches balanced on top.

I’ve wanted to try soup shooters at home, since I first heard the idea from a catering chef I interviewed. And experiencing them first-hand and observing their obvious crowd appeal has made me even more eager to try.

For a small group (up to eight, let’s say) I think the soup-and-sandwich combo would be manageable by a home cook, since the sandwiches could be constructed beforehand, using slices from a small loaf, and then fried and cut into four triangles each, while the soup rewarmed. For a larger group, it would be easier, but still fun, to serve the shooters without the sandwiches. Incidentally, another smooth soup can substitute for tomato. Squash would be a nice seasonal choice for fall.

Red Cabbage Remains

Perhaps, you recall that in late September I made a sweet-and-sour red cabbage dish for our town’s Oktoberfest celebration. I blogged about it at the time. About half a head was leftover, so I covered it in plastic wrap and stored it in the crisper drawer, where it remained miraculously fresh for the next three-and-half weeks! Apparently, this longevity is not unusual.

Shredded or finely sliced, raw red cabbage is an appealingly crunchy addition to lettuce salads, I’ve discovered. Also, it’s good on sandwiches instead of lettuce, which tends to wilt.

Good News about Silverskin

I thought I had a bone to pick with butchers. Why did they leave the arduous job of trimming the silverskin (that opaque, white connective tissue found on a variety of meats) to me? It had occurred to me that maybe it didn’t have to be removed, and while preparing lamb shanks last weekend, I finally got fed up enough to investigate.

Googling the subject turned up a raging controversy between those adamant that removal is essential (if you don’t want a twisted or inedible result); others just as convinced that stripping silverskin is unnecessary. For a definitive answer, I turned to Max Gitlen, Head Butcher at a caring little shop in Great Barrington, Mass., The Meat Market, which specializes in nose-to-tail butchery of local animals.

“Real silverskin won’t breakdown completely even with prolonged cooking,” Gitlen explains. But that doesn’t mean you need to remove it. “It depends on the cut and what you’re using it for.”

To a large extent, it’s a matter of personal taste. Unless a customer makes a specific request, Gitlen doesn’t bother on a rack of ribs or braising cuts (like my shanks).  “Personally, sometimes I just eat around it,” he admits.

As for shanks, he always braises them “as is,” he says. “It’s humble food and shouldn’t be turned into a lamb lollipop. I don’t think everything needs to be so neat and tidy.”

In fact, Gitlen even leaves the pigskin on pork shanks. As tough as it is initially, in the end it becomes “deliciously gelatinous.”

But tender cuts that cook very quickly (for example, pork tenderloin, beef roasts and steaks) are another story. “I would remove it every time on tenderloin, because you want it to be completely tender.”