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Over parmesan or over the dry powdery stuff? Recently, I've found VERY good Canadian cheese of that type, whether parmesan or pecorino romano. Yes, there is actually locally-made dry ewe's milk cheese.
So, not so much a "food" post as a "foodie" post -- for those foodies among you who like kitchen toys, and are cheap (and I guess who also have a Dollarama in their neighbourhood).
Anyway, I picked up this:
I'm not sure if babble has caught up with the whole "displaying images" thing at this point, but if not, go ahead and click on the link. Or, if you don't, I can tell you what it is: a ceramic paring knife.
Ceramic knives are typically made of Zirconia (think, fake diamonds) and they're typically super-sharp, super-hard (think again of fake diamond) and hold their excellent edge up to 10x as long as steel. The downside to them is that you probably can't sharpen them at home (your sharpening stone or knife steel won't actually be harder than the knife) and they can be brittle (so, not good for frozen food, bones, woody stuff like a rutabaga or acorn squash, or prying something) and they're still usually pretty expensive (like, $20-$40 for a small one).
But right now Dollarama has these, in a range of colours, for $3.50.
If you can, grab one for the next time you'd like to slice some zucchini as thin as bristolboard, or want to trim the silverskin from a roast. Or just want to replace that old, dull paring knife you've had since Mulroney was PM.
ed'd to add: seems that as long as I used HTML code instead of BB code, and chose "plain text", the image could be made to display inline!
Thanks for the tip! I hesitated to buy one because of the brittleness, but at that price... Do they stay sharp for a long time? They seem to, according to what you've written. Because alas they are disposable ... it would cost more to sharpen one than to buy a new one. I love doing fine cutting and chopping. Imagine the ginger!
I first remember hearing about ceramic knives years ago on FoodNetwork. One chef, Ming Tsai, sponsored a line of them and was always touting their merits. Alas, the prices back then (and to some degree, today) kept me from checking them out.
A few years ago IKEA had a set of three ceramics -- a paring knife, utility knife and santoku, if I recall correctly -- for something like $25, and I was all excited about getting a set, but they were all sold out with no plans to re-order, so when I saw this one for three-fiddy, I couldn't resist.
I actually picked up one to give to a friend, and two more for Mrs. M. and me to use as steak knives. And then the other day I swung by Sanagans and picked up a cut I'd never bought before, called a paleron -- it's basically two flatiron steaks held together with some tough connective tissue. You can either braise it as-is and let that connective tissue get unctuous and edible, or trim it and have two little pan steaks, so we went with the pan steaks. Trimming was a breeze, and so was eating. :)
You could save the connective tissue in the freezer with the bones for soup. Not that you have to...
My great discovery is how simple it is to make polenta in a crockpot. Just google crockpot or slow cooker and polenta and you'll get lots of hits. I used the coarser cornmeal (not very coarse, just not the "fine") 3 measures of water or other liquid - I used mostly water and some chicken stock - to each measure of cornmeal. You have to stir a bit mostly at the beginning, then leave it, check it from time to time for lumps. Perhaps beginners' luck but I had no lumps and it came out nice and creamy.
Nothing like a nice bowl of gristle soup! :)
Just joking. Of course I saved it. I also just got back from Chinatown/Kensington where I bought another paleron to clean and slice for some Thai Basil Beef. Flatiron steaks are $13.99/lb, but two of them fused together with some gnarly stuff is only $8.99/lb! Go figure.
Here's a pic of it; you can pretty clearly see the silverskin along the right, and that connective tissue down the middle, but you can trim those without needing to be a surgeon, and the rest is very well marbled and very tasty meat.
I don't shop at Sanagan's for all my meat, as they're a bit pricey for that, but all of their stuff is naturally and locally raised, and they feature stuff you just won't find at a Metro or a Loblaws -- heritage breed chickens and pork, and quirky cuts of beef like this, or bavettes, or hanger steaks. And sometimes the quirky stuff is more affordable than the familiar; the other day they had Water Buffalo Veal Ribs for about six bucks a pound. I don't think many of us can lament "Oh, but I'm so bored of Water Buffalo Veal!".
I've never happened to eat any. Those are the poor little unwanted boys of the cows bred to produce water buffalo mozzarella and ricotta, I believe. Those are now produced in Canada: the first site I found is here in QC but I believe there are also producers in Ontario: http://www.bufalamaciocia.ca/fr/accueil/
Probably popular among both Mediterranean and Southeast Asian markets...