Thursday, February 19, 2009

I'm here to help

Because of my cookbooks, my Dish recipe column in the National Post, and now this blog, I get daily emails from people asking food-minded questions and sharing their culinary successes. 
And then there are the e-yellers, like the lady who e-shouted at me for printing a Penticton summer corn soup recipe in my column, out of season. (I try to cover Canada as equally as possible -- who said she had to make the damn soup that day?) 
But mostly, I'm  here to help. To offer ideas, answers and encouragement. Like the man from Vancouver, who, although a self-professed "very novice" cook, decided to take on the intricate 48-hour pork shoulder recipe from Fuel restaurant I printed in my column. That little exchange consisted of no fewer than a dozen back and forths. And I practically had to beg him not to substitute almond extract for almond oil. 
But it's the email exchanges like the one below that really make me smile:

Dear Ms Rosen,
I just clipped your "Historic Fish Soup" recipe from the National Post. One of the ingredients is "prepared soup stock". I'm a bit of a culinary idiot; how much stock? 4 cups? Six? I am also a kosher vegetarian, so I can't use, say, canned (shudder) chicken stock, or even homemade chicken stock. What chemical (i.e. flavoured MSG) should I use to make stock? Beef, consomme, or onion?
Sorry to ruin your recipe, but I'd really like to try it!
Best wishes,
L.R.C (name abbreviated to protect the innocent)

Dear L,
These aren't actually my recipes: I just report on them. That said, I can see where your confusion may lay. I just looked up the recipe again, and the "prepared soup stock" is actually step #1 of the recipe, where, in essence, you're making a fish stock by covering those ingredients with water. So no need to add any other stock.
Hope that clears things up.

Hi again,
So the "water to cover" will provide enough liquid (won't cook down) to add a "ladleful" to the roux? 
If it's not edible, do I blame you, the recipe author, or me?

Everything goes back into the pot in the end so there's no loss of the ladleful. 
Um, you can blame yourself, or historic Louisbourg.

IT'S YUMMY! And I'll give you the credit!

Ah, warms the cockles, doesn't it?
Next week, we'll take the opposite tact, when I tell you about the time I was almost sued by a herd of elk. 

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