Sunday, February 28, 2010

What 6 Year Olds Know About Food

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Puro Chile

I've been wanting to write this post for weeks now and just never gotten around to it, so when I woke up this morning and read the horrible news about the 8.8 quake that has just hit Chile this seemed like the right thing to write about today.

A couple of weeks ago I was walking down Center street and noticed this large (ish) store called Puro Chile it's an odd high bred type store with a very stylish wine store adjacent to it (separated by a glass wall). In addition to having a lot of tourist information they have large shelves stocked with Chilean olive and avocado oil, preserves and other traditional food stuffs.

The wine store is very modern and sleek with an exhaustive selection of Chilean wine (it also has a separate entrance). The thing that most struck me about Puro Chile is how it's so much more then just a specialty shop, it's really a cultural center of sorts with lots of information about all things Chilean, whether it's about planning a trip or learning more about carmenere grapes.

It may be a small gesture, but I'm heading out now to buy some Chilean wine for dinner and would certainly encourage you to stop in as I'm sure they will have lots of information on how to offer aid in the days and weeks to come.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kit Kats of the World

Thanks to Kurt for a heads up on this Flickr page that documents the vast array of Kit Kat flavors to be found all over the world. Here are two of my favorite: Salt Kit Kat and Red Bean Paste Kit Kat.

Sour Dough Pizza: Franco Manco in Chiswick

The folks at the Guardian in the UK visit the trendy pizza place Franco Manco who have opened a new spot in Chiswick. It's a fun video and as a sourdough bread maker I was interested to hear them talking about the dough, I wish they would have given a recipe!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

French Fries, Ice Cream and Red Wine or Middle Age Food Rage

It occurred to me today as I was looking for something to eat before going to yoga, that I didn't want a fucking salad, I wanted a large plate of fries with a glass of red wine and then I wanted to finish it all off with chocolate ice cream covered in chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Indeed I had the fucking salad and it was delicious and not only did I feel good after eating it I felt happy to know that I had not further contributed to my expanding middle.

It's such a struggle, because when it is all said and done do any of us really want a salad? No we want the french fries, ice cream and wine - don't we?

I'm just like the over eager always hungry fat Labrador retriever who would happily eat until he exploded in bliss.

Forgive me, I needed to vent about my lustful feelings for food I shouldn't being (at least not if I want to loss weight and continue to do yoga) I totally empathize with anyone out there who has ever struggled with trying to eat better, or eat well and felt badly when they struggled with the realization that it isn't the most natural thing in the world to crave lettuce.

Sometimes when I'm ranting about the evils of corn syrup or the horrors of factory meat it's easy to lose sight of how hard it can really be to find a farmers market or to find a humanely raised piece of chicken when you want it, the world is filled with temptation, corn syrup and fatty empty calories, everywhere you turn is something you really shouldn't be eating, it's a battlefield! On the way to the salad you have to strategically manoeuvre yourself down streets filled with pizza joints, BBQ, Belgium fries with 40 toppings, 125 flavors of ice cream, 12 bakeries, 2 dozen Japanese noodle places, Chinese lunch specials, dumplings!

Is it any wonder people give up before they find a cafe table and manage to muster up the will to actually order a salad?

No wonder the hot topic everywhere you turn is eating at home!

Ah, The Good Life

 My friend Jane is in Barcelona and wrote me this morning to tell me she had gone to El Celler de Can Roca.


Her dinner began when the waiter brought a bonsai olive tree heavy with olives to be picked fresh and eaten at the table.   Wow is all I can say, I'd never even heard of this place, El Bulli gets most of the price on this side of the pond even thouhg I know from my own experiewnce thagt Barcelona in particular is a thriving hive of culinary creativity.  


Here is the menu:


Girona, the 7th of February 2010





Campari bombon

Anchovy bone

Caramelized Olive

Black sesame cracker

Chestnut soup with truffle

Foie gras nougat

Boletus edulis brioche




Oysters with Agustí Torelló cava, apple compote, ginger, pineapple, lemon confit and spices

Artichoke with duck liver, eel and orange

Charcoal-grilled sole with green olive oil, fennel, pine nuts, bergamot
and orange

Catalan cod pot-au-feu

SierraMayor Iberian suckling pig, baby onions, orange clove and betroot


Vanilla, caramel, liquorice, dried and caramelised black olives with Tahitian-vanilla condensed ice cream

A fragance adapted, Terre by Hermès





Agusti Torelló D.O Cava
Bürkling-Wolf  “R” Auslese 89 Pfalz
Rocallis 04 D.O. Penedès
Nelin 07 D.O.Qa Priorat
Pujanza 04 D.O.C Rioja
Olivares 06 D.O. Jumilla
Colheita 84 D.O. Oporto

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Whisky Stones

I'm not a big scotch drinker, but if I were I'd want a set of these nifty soapstone "ice cubes" ($20 for a set of 9) .

I've seen these stones in stores in the East Village and think they're a great idea.  Milled in Vermont, perfect for the purest who doesn't want to sully their scotch with melted ice cube water!

A Single Man

When Tom Ford's movie came out I decided I should re-read the book, I'm a huge Isherwood fan and wanted to see what he had changed from the original.  Surprisingly some extended scenes are verbatim and not surprising that whole sub plot about the gun was all added.

Julianne Moore's character who is called Charlie and Charlotte in the book is more eccentric and less wealthy in the book then she is portrayed in the movie.  Julianne Moore's performance in the film is brilliant and I'm just now at that part in the book.  Her opening lines are about food and made me laugh out loud on the subway when I read it  - I don't remember it being in the film, but I could have just missed it.

  "I say, I've just realized that there's a most ghastly smell of cooking in here!" Charlotte exclaims.  There certainly is.  George answers politely and that it's a delicious smell and that it makes him hungry.
  "I'm trying a new kind of stew, as a matter of fact.  I got the idea from a marvelous travel book Myrna Custer just bought me - about Borneo. Only the author gets slightly vague, so I've had to improvise a bit.  I mean, he doesn't come out and say so, but I have my suspicion that one's supposed to make it with human flesh.  Actually, I've used leftovers from a joint..."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Darwins Nightmare: A Documentary About Humans and Fish

I just watched Darwin's Nightmare tonight, it's about 5 years old and was nominated for the Oscar for best Documentary in 2006. I found it hard to watch and sometimes hard to understand what people were saying because of the very low tech rough and tumble style of filming. All I can say it is worth the effort and although made over 5 years ago I can't imagine the situation is much changed. It's particularly interesting to read the Wikipedia page on it as the criticism of the movie all comes from the Tanzanian Government even though most of it is not well documented.

Basically somebody introduced Nile perch into lake Victoria destroying it's ecosystem , but creating a cash crop for Europeans and giving Russian and Ukrainian air cargo plane owners a reason to drop arms off to go on to the Congo, Somalia etc and then take home expensive fish fillets to sell to the Westerners while the Tanzanians starve or die of HIV or any number of other horrible things.

Yes, it's really grim, but it give you yet another reason to only buy fish from a local fish monger that was fished out of a local body of water. That's if you needed to be further convinced. It also gives a very clear example of how fucked Tanzania and by extension most of Africa is and how unrestrained capitalism along with the World Bank et al is just Colonialism continued.

Pass the tartar sauce please.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Everything in a Pizza Pocket

Seems to be the week of clever charts (and in this instance very attractive), this one made by Justin Perricone. I look at this and wonder why you'd buy one of those things in the first place when in reality they are simple enough to make.

Here's the link at bingbong.

Also this week in cool charts check out this funny site called the Daily Yonder which just recenlty discovered they have an extensive article on the new Food Environment Atlas.

Here's my favorite, I would have thought Texas would have been fatter:

New Yorker's Take The Subway!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Spanish Olives

I love any excuse to use my mortar and pestle. It's one of the reasons I love to make Indian food because you are always roasting spices that need to be ground up. My mortar and pestle is from Thailand, it's made from a heavy gray granite that has a nice rough texture and a hefty pestle. If you are in NYC you can buy them from the Bangkok Center Grocery if you live in the city and haven't been here you should definitely check it out, it's small but chock-filled with the most amazing selection of all things need for Thai and South East Asian cooking. Not only do they sell sticky rice cookers they sell replacement baskets. I know in Queens there are several other ones, but for me this is the best.

Anyway, back to the olives, when I started to do the locavore thing I stopped buying fancy mixed olives to have out for dinner parties. Also they have become quite expensive. Then the other day I was in the massive Goya section of what I refer to as the Ghetto Grocery store across the street from where I live and was happy to see that Goya has introduce a brand of organic beans - I was particularly pleased to see them being carried at this store as mostly the quality of products tends to be manufactured meat wrapped in plastic on styrofoam and super jumbo high fructose infused fizzy beverages. I digress, so Goya sells for about 2 bucks jars of green olives, Manzanillo and jumbo along with a large selection of stuffed olives. On a whim I picked up a jar of the jumbo and one of the Manzanilla and brought them home to see what I could do with them.

Sorry for such a long winded intro to such a short recipe, but something else I do often when I roast chicken is coat it with a mixture of smoked and hot paprika, I had never been a paprika fan as it was the only spice my mother ever used. In recent years I've discovered what a diverse and tasty treat paprika is. The best smoked paprika is the Spanish brand Safinter, it's kind of expensive, but well worth it.

Spanish Olives

Drain well and pat dry two jars of Green olives (3 -4 cups), set aside in a good sized bowl.

Roast in a dry skillet over medium heat 3 teaspoons of coriander seeds and 3 teaspoons of cumin seeds until they are aromatic and several shades darker. Remove from heat and place in a mortar and pestle. Grind to a course powder.

Add to the spices 3-4 garlic cloves and smash into a paste. Add the paste to the olives and add
2 teaspoons of sweet paprika, 1 teaspoon of hot paprika, 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, 1 thinly sliced organic lemon, well rinsed and cut into bite size pieces, skin and all (I used Meyer lemons because someone had given them to me) and 1 small Valencia orange (or what ever kind of orange you have would be fine a thinner skinned one is preferable over a thicker navel type orange) also thinly sliced and cut into bite sized pieces, about 1/2 cup Spanish olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste toss in an optional 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley before you serve.

These make a nice pairing with freshly roasted almonds, don't forget to put out a bowl for the pits and napkins they are delicious but messy!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

NRDC Action Fund: Mobilizing America for Sustainable Future

Powerful stuff.

Taste of 7th Street

One of my readers made a comment a while back when I was writing about Luke's Lobster that
7th st had become a food mecca and lookee here!

The inaugural taste of 7th street is February 27th-28th and if you go to right now you can get 49% off so for just 18 bucks you get tons of discounts off all all sorts of finger licking good food.

Check it out!

Scary Statistics: Katie Couric Interviews David Kessler & Eric Schlosser

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In The News

Lots of interesting stuff in the news this last week, here's my round up of things to check out:

Oceans acidity rate is soaring says the Independent in the UK.

Dotearth at the NYT does a summary on how we can feed 9 billion people. For me the most interesting tidbit was this:

"the reality that meat will long remain a part of most diets, particularly in populations moving out of poverty."

And of course how so much of the article was about GM seeds something that the authors of the article see as essential, call safe, but maintain are perplexed by whey there aren't more of. I'm obviously against them and see their argument as one sided, and question there results, yes they use less pesticides, but they still use pesticides where as to be truly sustainable biodynamic/organic farming is in the long term far better for the soil and for maximizing water use and retention. It may be cynical of me, but it's hard to read these "scientific experts" and wonder how much grant money they got from Monsanto or the like, especially when the story is so one sided. Although "sustainability" is given minimal lip service.

And some good news from Treehugger the USDA is tightening standards on Organic dairy and Livestock.

And finally thank you Michelle Obama for taking on childhood obesity, you rock.

The Zoccolas - A Family Affair.

This video is from the Guardian in the UK, it's an informative and wonderful expose on traditional Italian food culture showing how every aspect of slaughtered pig is used including the blood. The thing that is most interesting to me is how all the ingredients in everything they make a from their garden or region and that this day long event is a family affair.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Saving The Gorillas with Green Fuel

I love it when a simple idea can not only create jobs, reduce pollution, but in this instance save the natural environment in the Congo from being destroyed by people who are burning it down to mak charcoal for cooking.

For more check out this article.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pear Mincemeat

With Florida and Texas organic citrus in season and Pears still at the market I have been making this pear mincemeat recipe a lot. I make it as mini tartlets and as larger 9" round tarts I even made it in my new rectangular tart pan. Regardless of the shape it's an easy no fail crowd-pleaser.

Peel and core 3 pears a generous pound (I used Bosc, but any kind will work), toss them with 1 T of lemon juice.  Place in a food processor add 1/2 small seedless navel orange skin and flesh, 2 Tablespoons of Buddha's Hand (optional) and the pears.  Process until it resembles course shards.

Remove from the food processor and place into a large heavy bottomed sauce pan.
Add 1/4 cup green raisins, 1/4 cup of currents, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of allspice, 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg, a pinch of salt and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour or until it thickens, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and fold in 1/2 cup of lightly toasted and roughly chopped Walnuts.

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Use this great tart dough recipe and make into any shape you like makes about 48 tartlets.

Fill the tartlets with the pear mincemeat and bake in a preheated 375F oven for 45 minutes or until well browned.

Serve with a dolloped of unsweetened whipped cream.

If you have extra filling it keeps well in the fridge for weeks.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Jadeite by Fire King

This picture was taken of my brother and I when I was in Toronto recently by Kim who is also the collector of the amazing array of mid century Fire King Restaurant Ware Jadite which you see in the background and is the reason I'm posting this picture.

This stuff used to be easy to pick up at flea markets, but I think martha Stewart did a show on it and now a mug can cost you 30 bucks. I love it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Olympic Medals

Love that Canada is using recycling electronic waste in it's medals, here is a quote from the article in Scientific American:

The more than 1,000 medals to be awarded at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, which kick off today, amount to 2.05 kilograms of gold, 1,950 kilograms of silver (Olympic gold medals are about 92.5 per cent silver, plated with six grams of gold) and 903 kilograms of copper. A little more than 1.5 percent of each gold medal was made with metals harvested from cathode ray tube glass, computer parts, circuit boards and other trashed tech. Each copper medal contains just over one percent e-waste, while the silver medals contain only small traces of recycled electronics.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A New Use For Flax Seeds

And in the same week I got an email from The Center from Biological Diversity who have introduced Endangered Species Condoms. Which just in case you were confused is about population control as the over abundance of humans are seriously impacting on the natural environments of so many animals. Check out the packaging:

Stop Monsanto Please Sign the Petition

This just in from CREDO Action:

During the Bush administration, Monsanto illegally won USDA approval for its genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa by convincing regulators to bypass a mandatory environmental review. In response to a lawsuit by consumer groups, the courts then stepped in and banned GE alfalfa until the USDA followed the law.

In December, the USDA released its belated review of Monsanto's GE alfalfa seed and determined that Monsanto's alfalfa met the Obama Administration's standards, despite the risk of organic contamination.

This conclusion came despite the acknowledgment by USDA researchers that GE alfalfa is virtually certain to "contaminate" normal seeds. Cross-contamination is the number one concern with genetically engineered crops.

The USDA is accepting public comments on Monsanto's application through February 16. Tell the USDA that Monsanto's alfalfa cannot be approved — the future of organics depends on it.

Organic contamination is devastating for organic farmers, especially organic dairy farmers, most of whom use organic alfalfa for feed. The presence of even the smallest amount of GE material can cause a farm to lose its organic certification. And court documents indicate that early plantings of GE alfalfa did contaminate conventional alfalfa. Yet the USDA maintains that Monsanto's existing safety protocols are good enough. This is ridiculous!

Even worse, the USDA concluded that the possibility of contamination of organic fields is of no concern, since consumers won't care if their organic food or milk contains genetically engineered components. Yet central to the definition of the USDA Organic label is the total absence of genetically modified ingredients. An overwhelming majority of consumers buy organic to avoid GE products and would be shocked to learn the USDA is so cavalier about the risks of transgenic contamination.

Tell the USDA you care about GE contamination. Keep Monsanto's genes out of our food!

Thank you for working to build a better world.

Adam Klaus, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wednesday Supper: Ca Kho Tieu Mahi Mahi and Apple Tart

No matter what kind of pastry you use there are two basic rules that really pay off. Use butter, always use butter being sure to leave chunks of it in the dough so it will melt when baked and leave you with a sinfully flaky buttery crust. Secondly always chill your dough, I've even read fruit pic recipes where you place the uncooked fruit in uncooked pie shell and freeze it for an hour then put it directly into the oven. These two things will guarantee you a crust. Pie dough or pate brisee recipes are all more or less the same some use an egg yolk so use sugar some use more ice water. Find one you like and works for you and stick with it.

Increasingly I don' think if you are making a fruit pie you need to add sugar to the crust. The recipe below I got from my new favorite cook book A Platter of Figs by David Tanis who is the head Chef six months of the year at Chez Panisse. For whatever reason all roads lead to Chez Panise for me. I love their honest simple approach to food with an emphasis on fresh seasonal local ingredients.

The entire tart recipe is from his book, I've already used the pastry recipe to make pear mincemeat tartlets and the results were super. It has just become my favorite all purpose pastry dough.

Apple Tart
(adapted from David Tanis's book A Platter of Figs)

In a mixing bowl add 2 cups of all purpose flower (Kind Arthur is my favorite) 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, with your hands mix until the flour is incorporated, but there are still chunks of butter. The instruction in the book is to cut the butter into thin slices, I find by just using the stick of butter whole and breaking it down as I go I end up with a better chance of still having chunks of butter in the dough at the end (which is the goal) the thinly sliced butter melts and incorporates easier and leaves you with a more consistent (which in this case is not the point) dough. Up to you.

In a measuring cup add one large egg and fill with ice cold water until the total amount is 1/2 cup, stir into the dough and mix until you have a roughly formed sticky ball. Do this quickly - don't over process it. Sprinkle with a little extra flour and form into a rectangle (this will be enough for two tarts) wrap and place in the fridge (I use parchment) for an hour or more or even over night.

Divide the pastry in half and roll out one piece on a sheet of parchment (using a sprinkling of flour to prevent sticking to the rolling pin). The idea is to make a rectangle that will fit just inside a standard cookie sheet ( 15 1/2 x 10 1/2) mine tend towards the smaller side I'd say 13 x 8 ish. I tuck under the ends to make it more uniform, but think that a "free form" look to a tart like this is just fine. When you are happy with the way your dough rectangle looks cover it with another sheet of parchment and put it back in the fridge.

In a pot add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water, add to this the cores and peel of all 5-6 apples you are about to peel and core. Then bring it to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for a good 15 minutes until it has thickened, strain and reserve.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Slice the apples thinly, take the dough out of the fridge and stack the apples in overlapping rows like cards onto the pastry (see pictures). Sprinkle with 2 T of sugar.

Place the into the freezer for 10 minutes. Remove from the freezer and place in the bottom third of the oven for about 45 minutes, turning once at the half way point. Cooking pastry on a pizza stone is a great way to prevent soggy bottomed fruit pies! Remove from the oven when the apples and pastry have browned. Brush the glaze over the the entire pastry. I usually end up with extra. Serve warm or at room temperature with some unsweetened whip cream.

A few days ago I did a post about chocolate mousse (which I just updated today) and several readers commented on the dragonfly ware as I like to call it and Skip and Chris even gave a link to a Vietnamese Food Blog which featured a recipe for Ca Kho To (or Tieu as it is also sometimes written, transliteration from Vietnamese to English is a tricky thing).

Funny thing about the dragonfly ware is that I used to sell it when I owned my SE Asian housewares stores, I even went to the factory outside of Hanoi in this really amazing town they has been making pottery for 500 years, everywhere you look there is a huge kiln! I made sure to put aside a set for us before I sold it all. In the end when I closed my store I ended up with a bunch of odds and ends which is how I ended up discovering that covered sugar bowls are also great individual serving dishes for chocolate mousse!

The Vietnamese fish dish sounded so good I wanted to try it! Also it was a great opportunity to use the dishes. After reading several recipes I made several modifications in order to minimize the use of packaged goods and to make it a little but more western friendly

Ca Kho Tieu

A traditional slow cooked fish dish with a peppery sweet sauce that usually incorporates a fish cut on the diagonal (think Salmon Steak) with the skin and bone still in tact. Cooked on top of the stove in a clay pot.

For my version I recommend using a cast iron skillet and a thick cut, boneless, skinless Mahi Mahi (wild caught) which is an oily, fairly sustainable and at this moment reasonably price fish (It was $9 a pound).

I had some questions about the amounts used in the recipe that was my inspiration for this dish from the Ravenous Couple Blog

In particular as I was entertaining someone who was pepper/spice sensitive I felt 1 Tablespoon of black pepper was a lot especially for just 1 pound of fish. So I reduced it to 2-3 teaspoon for 2 pounds of fish, extra can always be added by the individual diner.

In a pot combine 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup palm sugar (or brown sugar) bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer, cook for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken (when a drop is placed in cold water it should form a soft ball). Stirring occasionally. Once thick take off the heat

While this is cooking roughly chop: 4 garlic cloves, 2 large shallots (about 1/3 cup) the rind of one lemon (yellow part only avoid as much of the pith as possible) and 1 Tablespoon of grated fresh ginger, place in a bowl and add 1/2 cup of fish sauce add all of this to the thickened sugar syrup, stir to mix and set aside.

Rinse 2 lbs of boneless, skinless, Mahi Mahi (or what ever fish you are using) under cold water and pat dry, cut it into large portions and place it in a large dish, rub 2-3 teaspoons of freshly grated black pepper over the fillet then coat them with 4 Tablespoons of organic peanut oil.

Trim and clean 6-8 scallions (spring onions) chop on the bias into 1" pieces, reserve a handful for garnish.

Heat your dry skillet over high heat, when a drop of water sizzles and evaporates your ready to add the fish fillets. Sear each side for 1-2 minutes then quickly add the fish sauce mixture, let it boil up then turn the heat down to medium and add the scallions. Stir to incorporate and simmer for about 20 minutes, if the sauce threatens to get too thick add a little more water.

The fish should be tender but not falling apart. Serve with rice and a simple steamed green like Shanghai Bok Choy. Super Yummy! The menu this Wednesday was the Vietnamese Mahi Mahi, Brown Basmati Rice Steamed Shanghai Bok Choy with the apple tart with shipped cream for dessert.

Black pepper, finely chopped de-seeded fresh Thai pepper and fish sauce can all be served as condiments.

I wanted to do a product shot, but got carried a way a little bit as there is no soy sauce in the recipe!

Please note that the picture above was taken mid dinner party so I had forgotten to garnish with reserved scallion (I had actually forgotten to reserve the scallion) and I did not reduce the water/sugar mixture so the dish as it appears here is more saucy then my recipe would suggest. It was however, delicious and the sauce was delicious with the rice and bok choy. The goal is have the liquids of the dish reduce down to make more of a thick sauce/glaze, but lets face it anywhere on the continuum is fine as it all tastes great and ultimately comes down to personal taste and aesthetics.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Monsanto Backed Bill in Congress to Make Organic Farming Illegal?

Doesn't that sound like something you'd read in a science fiction novel? It's so freaky to me I'm not sure how it's even possible, how can you make growing food in your back year illegal?

I just saw this on Facebook:

HR 875 and S 425 are the pieces of legislation that would criminalize organic farming, even having a garden in your back yard! PLEASE contact your representatives and Senators about this! We can NOT allow this to happen to food! There will no longer be ORGANIC food... they will be required to spray pesticides and insecticides on the "organic" food... hence, making it no longer organic



I haven't read the bills yet and one commenter on Facebook says he has read them and doesn't see how they can make Organic farming it may just be hysteria...still we live in such a crazy world it wouldn't surprise me....

Tully's Bakery: Gluten Free in the EV

The other day in my wanderings I noticed a new bakery on the verge of opening, when I looked closer I saw that it was a gluten free bakery and a very nice looking one at that. I have a few friends who are gluten intolerant and the more I read and think about the amount of gluten (wheat specifically) we eat the more I think it would benefit all of us to cut back.

Tully's Bakery is at 338 East 11th street between First and Second avenue so if you are in the neighborhood and feel peckish for something sweet drop by and check them out. I plan to treat myself to one of the above pictured cookies after yoga one day.

Revolution Is In The Air

I actually just saw this on Alice Water's Facebook page:

Food Inc. has been nominated for an Oscar and is the highest selling dvd in America! Revolution is in the air...

Good news indeed.

And don't forget to check out Hungry For Change.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Perfect Red Grapefruit

Over the last couple of years I have gone on about how apples are the only fruit I eat during the Winter as they are the only local fruit you can get all winter long from the farmers market. My thinking on this has changed a bit. First I noticed just this week that there are some very sweet firm and delicious pears still being sold and the Pear Mincemeat has been a big hit.

Around Thanksgiving Breezy Hill Orchard was selling heirloom cranberries so I bought huge amount and came home and froze them. My freezer has never been so full, because in addition to the cranberries are 2 five pound boxes of frozen organic blueberries from my friend Jane's daughters family farm Intervale.

Then in the last couple of weeks I've been seeing organic citrus from Texas and Florida. I have a weakness for Ruby Red Grapefruits and marmalade. My feelings about citrus are that as along as they are in season on this side of the country and are trucked or trained in they are fine. Which as best as I can tell gives you citrus for a couple of months a year. Lemons and limes are a totally other story as they have become so integral to cooking so many dishes. Still if I can find them I try to always buy citrus from Florida or Texas as it is less of a distance then California.

Marmalade has been much on my mind these days so it was with great pleasure that I opened up my Grist email today to see a wonderful article by April McGreger on Citrus and yes indeed Marmalade! The last time I made marmalade it just would not get thick so I was keeping an eye out to see if I could find a recipe that used pectin, but April's recipe doesn't so I'm feeling embolden to give it another pectin free try.

The most exciting t hing in the article (besides the Marmalade recipe) is her mention of L'Host Organic Citrus farm in Louisiana. I immediately like them because when you go to there shipping page they announce they are no longer shipping because of the bad weather, that they will resume in October, then they go on to say:

"Why are we no longer using e-commerce and credit cards?"
Well to be honest, shipping is a service we do for our loyal customer base... it is a very small part of our business that we just aren't interested in expanding. Our passion is for producing high quality fruit and passing that fruit on to those that really care about quality, taste, the environment, and organic farming. We strive to ensure our product remains true to these characteristics. So we've scaled the shipping business back to better serve those of you that have supported us for so many years.

Makes me want to go to Louisiana just to visit and pick up some satsumas!

A Weekend of Cooking

I've fallen down on my blogging duties with back to back dinner parties and house guests!

Saturday night I made a green lasagna filled with sauteed greens and lots of bechamel sauce and cheese. For dessert I made chocolate mousse. For some reason I never think about making puddings or mousse for dessert and was surprised at how simple, easy and quick it was to make and how nice the presentation is. After closing down my import store I ended up with a ton of hand painted Vietnamese sugar bowls which have, much to my surprise come in very handy on several occasions.

When I do it again I think I'd serve it in one big bowl garnished with sweeted whipped cream and chocolate shavings and let people help themselves. As nice as the individual covered pots are it's a rich dessert so if you go that route give less then you think - better to let people have seconds then to give too much of a good thing.

Chocolate Mousse

Separate 4 room temperature large eggs.

In a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water (or a double boiler if you have one - I don't) heat 2 T water* and 2 T amber or dark rum (I use organic Rhum J.M VSOP) and 6 ounces finely chopped 70% dark chocolate (Scharffen Berger is my favorite.) Stirring occasionally until it is all melted and has a consistent shiny look.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the 4 room temperature egg yolks.

Whip 1 cup heavy cream until it just holds it's shape.

Take the bowl with the 4 egg whites and place it over the hot water you used to melt the chocolate (that has been turned off ) but is still hot and quickly whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. TO BE VERY CLEAR all you want to do is slightly warm the egg whites you are not in any way cooking them, really just a couple of degrees above room temperature is all you want, just a few seconds of warming whisking all the while.

Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until thoroughly incorporated . Fold in the remaining egg whites then add the whipped cream. Add a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Spoon into a serving bowl (or bowls) and chill for at least an hour before serving.

When you are ready to serve top with lightly sweetened whipped cream and chocolate shaving.

In addition if you are feeling ambitious simple shortbread, or butter cookies make a nice accompaniment. I made Almond and Meyer Lemon Shortbread.

*Water and the booze can both be switched out with good strong coffee if you are going to get rid of booth the water and the booze I would suggest doing anywhere from a teaspoon to a tablespoon Vanilla extract - making sure that what ever you do that the total amount of liquid is still 4 T. If you are trying to avoid alcohol altogether be careful when buying Vanilla extract that you get one that is alcohol free one.

This is not a terribly sweet mousse if you'd like something sweeter with added sugar check out David Lebovitz's take on Julia Child's classic recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Cheeky Sandwiches

I noticed Cheeky Sandwiches in December before I went to Mexico when they were still putting the finishing touches on the interior and hadn't opened yet. Yesterday I walked by and check it out and was very excited to see a quirky, fun New Orleans-centric sandwich shop. I just did a quick walk in, but can't wait to go back and have some food.

The folks over at Gargyle live on the block and visited the first week and took some great pictures so check out the link - they have lots of good photos.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Neil and I went and saw this movie and really loved it. I was glad to see it was nominated for best animated feature for the Oscars, even though it's more furry puppets then animation, it has a wonderful retro feel and a story with a message about humans, development and our basic animal natures. Go see it if you haven't already.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

GM Tomatoes

The Mail Online has an article on a new GM tomato that stays fresh for 6 weeks. Because shelf life is the only thing that matters. If I remember correctly Barbara Kingslover talks about a kind of heirloom tomato that stays on the vine late into the season and when you bring it into the house you let it sit out for weeks until it ripens.

Of course as the Mail points out - it stays "fresh" for six weeks (probably because it's not "real") but would you want to eat it?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Flow: A Dcoumentary About Water

Wow this is pretty devastating stuff. If you still drink bottled water you'll stop. I rented Flow from Netflix it isn't pretty but it's a must watch.

Bubbbles Make Me Happy

We've been making our own seltzer for years now thanks to a tip off about Soda Club from our friend Debbie. It's great, we filter out tap water with a Brita and refill the bottles that come with the machine. They have several varieties to choose from and best of all you can now get them at the Green Depot.

Rules, Rules, Rules

Michale Pollan's new book Food Rules has been getting a ton of press lately which is no surprise, he is after all the most articulate, intelligent and high profile person talking about our screwed up food system and beyond sounding the alarm to wake people up about it he is also giving reasonable and sensible ways to help us all eat better.

Here are some highlights from an article he did for the Huffington Post - my favorite is #39 and my own personal rule is that wine and beer are delicious, but like food need to be taken in moderation! This is personal wisdom gained in the last 6 months after years of not drinking beer I started again in Berlin (who could resist?) and then Mexico? Well I have had t put a halt to it or I would be auditioning for Santa Claus jobs by Christmas!

#11 Avoid foods you see advertised on television.

#19 If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.

#36 Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.

#39 Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

#47 Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored

#58 Do all your eating at a table.

Vancouver Eats

The New York Times has a wonderful article in today's paper with an overview of the eating highlights in Vancouver, it's so well written that it makes you want to go there and just eat - who cares about the games!

It's clear from the list of places recommended that Vancouver really is North America's Hong Kong as the author talks a lot about how much good Chinese food there is, but in general Asian influence and multiculturalism play an important role in making Vancouver, what the Times calls: "among the best eating towns in the history of the Winter Games"

Check out the article it's a great read and will make your mouth water!

The Restaurants

CHEN’S SHANGHAI RESTAURANT 8095 Park Road (No. 3 Road), Richmond; (604) 304-8288.

GUU WITH GARLIC 1698 Robson Street (Bidwell Street), Vancouver; (604) 685-8678.

MAENAM 1938 West Fourth Avenue (Cypress Street), Vancouver; (604) 730-5579.

MARKET BY JEAN-GEORGES at the Shangri-La Hotel, 1128 West Georgia Street (Thurlow Street), Vancouver; (604) 689 1120.

THE POURHOUSE 162 Water Street (Cambie Street), Vancouver; (604) 568-7022.

REFUEL NEIGHBOURHOOD RESTAURANT & BAR 1944 West Fourth Avenue (Cypress Street), Vancouver; (604) 288-7905.

SHANGHAI RIVER 110-7831 Westminster Highway (No. 3 Road), Richmond; (604) 233-8885.

SUN SUI WAH SEAFOOD RESTAURANT 3888 Main Street (23rd Avenue), Vancouver; (604) 872-8822.

TOJO’S 1133 West Broadway (Willow Street), Vancouver; (604) 872-8050.

VIJ’S 1480 West 11th Avenue (Granville Street), Vancouver; (604) 736-6664.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Crop to Cup with Love

I ordered 5 lbs of beans a few days ago from crop to cup and just got this email:

Your order is now: SHIPPED

Thanks for your order Mark!

Enjoy the beans, roasted last Friday evening on January 29th, and blended today (February 1st).

Yours, Jake, Crop to Cup Coffee Co.

Now that is fresh!

Smoked Ricotta Gnocchi with Rosemary Tomato Sauce

Initially I was thinking about making a goat cheese gnocchi, but when I went to Saxelby to buy my fresh chevre they were out and after a little conversation it was suggested to me that I try this wonderful cherry wood smoked ricotta hand made in Brooklyn by Salvatore Bklyn. This stuff is amazing, creamier then any ricotta I've ever tasted and infused with this luscious smokey-ness.

I actually made two kinds of Gnocchi for this particular dinner party, mixing the smoked ricotta with sweet potato gnocchi, frying them instead of boiling them and serving it all with an uber rich cream of wild mushroom sauce. It was a bit over the top and I think the smoked ricotta needs a cleaner more acidic tomato sauce and that they are better boiled then fried. So to that end here is the recipe for smoked ricotta gnocchi, which I must warn you in advance is time consuming, the good news is that they freeze well. They're also very filling so a small amount goes a long way, this make 6 good servings as a main course.

Smoked Ricotta Gnocchi

In a large bowl place 1 pound of chilled smoked ricotta, with a wooden spoon, stir in 1 large beaten egg, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of all purpose flour, 2 T olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of freshly grated black pepper. 1-2 T of chopped chives can also be incorporated, but are optional.

The mixture shuold hold together, but be on the sticky side. If it is too wet add more flour in very small increments, until it has reached the right consistency. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour your work service and your hands, turn the gnocchi dough out of the bowl onto the work surface and cut into 6 pieces, roll each piece into a approximately 1" rope. Cut the rope into little pillows about 1-2" long and place them on the parchment covered cookie sheet. When they are all done cover the the cookie sheet with a tea towel or plastic wrap if you must and put back in the fridge for at least an hour or this can easily be done the day before.

When ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to the boil (1 teaspoon of salt for every quart of water). Working in small batches and a slotted spoon at the gnocchi to the water, when they float to the surface they are done (a couple of minutes) remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm in an oiled baking dish until they are all cooked and ready to be eaten!

Serve tossed in a simple tomato sauce with more grated Parmesan.

Simple Tomato Sauce

In a large skillet over medium flame heat 1/4 cup olive oil until hot but not smoking then add 8-12 finely chopped cloves of garlic, fry for 1-2 minutes then add 1 28 ounce can of crushed organic tomatoes and salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste (I would also add 2 crushed hot red arbol peppers or pepper flakes) cook until thick - about an hour - then stir in 2 or 3 T of your favorite fresh herb Rosemary, Thyme, Savory are all good, if you are adding basil add at least 1/2 cup. This can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for several days.

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