Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Water, Water, Everywhere Water and Not a Drop to Drink...

According to the Swedish Church, four children die each minute from lack of clean water, which can lead to deadly diarrhea.

So they made this video you don't have to speak the language to get the point.

The whole story at

The Right Fish

double click to embiggen

The folks at

e Waste

eWaste? News to me, but this cool company comes by your house or office and pics up all the old electric stuff (televisions, monitors, cables, key boards etc) you don't want.

From their site:

About The 4th Bin:

The 4th Bin is dedicated to educating businesses and consumers about the hazards of electronic waste and providing a simple and inexpensive means of rescue and disposal. Not only do we ethically and responsibly recycle or reuse all equipment we collect, The 4th Bin is also dedicated to giving back to our local community through partnerships and events.

The Best $10 Dinner

Pictured above is one of the many combo platters available at Otafuku. I just had the the Okonomiyakai (on the right) not the Takoyaki (on the left) which are made on this cool cast iron machine that vibrates so that once the batter is cooked enough it starts to roll around giving these "balls" their spherical shape.

The most popular version has octopus in them, but they also have a cheese and a plain version as well.

Tonight I had the squid Okonomiyakai minus the weird Japanese mayo that comes in a squirt container (when did the Japanese discover mayo?) the pancakes are finished off with bonito, I added a generous amount of sriracha to mine. Two huge pancakes cost $8. In addition to squid they also have corn with scallion and ginger, pork, beef and shrimp. These pancakes are a combo of shredded cabbage, carrots, scallions in a basic flour batter. I splurged and 2 dollars more for a cup of very hearty and delicious miso soup.

Maybe it's Spring or nostalgia, but this was such a satisfying meal and so cheap. Of course there is no were to sit, I'd imagine most of their business is students who live in the surrounding dorms who just take the food back to their dorms. I took my a block north and sat on a bench in front of St Marks Church on the Bowery and enjoyed the beautiful spring evening.

When Otafuku first opened I used to go there all the time and order the octopus Takoyaki, they are so delicious, but at some point I decide they were too carb heavy for me and stopped going. Then I became aware of how octopus have personalities and are smarter than some of my friends which made it difficult for me to contemplate Japanese octopus fritters as a casual repast. Tonight when I walked by I was glad I remembered the veggie pack pancakes and and decided it was tome to revisit this old favorite, and boy am I glad I did.

If you're in the East Village and have a hankering for something filling, tasty and cheap check out Otafuku and remember that a block north at St Marks Church there are several benches to sit on while you enjoy you meal.

Otafuku (お多福) 236 E. 9th St., New York, NY 10003 (212)353-8503

Monday, March 29, 2010

Meat Without Feet

I was walking down the street the other day when a white van pulled up to the light, on the side of the van was a big picture of a fish, like the one above, underneath the imagine it said:

Meat without feet.

The truck was a delivery truck for a fish market.

I think of this as I was just over at the Hufffington Post where they have an informative slide show called 9 Problems Destroying Our Oceans, commercial fishing and farming fish being two of them.

Climate Change Refugees

Trailers are meant to be manipulative, but this one was particularly effect I felt.
Image the ocean rising at such a rate that you could see your crops being destroyed and your way of life, your culture threatened with extinction?

Sun Come Up from Jennifer Redfearn on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Susho Hossen

This is the final day of my zen catering week and what a week it has been! I don't think I have ever cooked so much out of my kitchen. Catering for 25 people and now today for 50 is a unique challenge out of a home kitchen. Refrigeration is one problem: Where do I put everything? And oven space, I can't cook the Orange Peel Bread and Focaccia at the same time.

I have a new appreciation for tea breads, I love how not sweet they are, I've made several of them this week, Cranberry Walnut, Blueberry Pound Cake, Date Pecan and Orange Peel Bread. Most of them from Marion Cunningham's essential cookbook The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

I have some pictures and recipes (including my take on Molassas Brown Sugar Spice Cookies that are awesome!) that I'll post later, but for now here is today's menu:

Shuso Hossen


Local Chevre with Sheep’s Milk Yogurt

& Fresh Thyme

Roasted Red Pepper, Feta, Hummus

Olive & Lemon Tapenade

For dipping and spreading on:

Home made Parmesan Focaccia

Celery & Carrots


Vermont Cheese Curds

Orange Peel Bread

With Sweet butter

Date & Pecan Bread

With Sweet butter


Jamie Oliver Takes on Chicken Nuggets

He's really smart and charming and I'm so glad he is doing this - even if it is in a format that makes me cringe (reality TV).

Friday, March 26, 2010

Duh. New study shows that High Frutctose Corn Syrup is Much Worse than Sugar

You've heard me rant on this forever so I'll keep it short and sweet, new studies out of Princeton show that you gain more weight from eating HFCS then you do the same amount of sugar.

At the bottom of the article is an excerpt from a Nightline interview with Dr. Robert Lustig a UCSF Pediatric Endocrinologist who agrees with the Nightline interviewer that there should be an age limit on buying soda.

Yet groovy restaurants like Diner in Brooklyn serve Heinz Ketchup and brilliant foodies like David Lebovitz maintain that to use it on occasion in small amounts is OK - I think it's insanity and even more so when you factor in that the production of corn is subsidized by the government in order to make it super cheap so they can make this stuff (among other things).

Come on folks it's the small gestures that add up! We lived before it was invented (the '70s) and we could live with out it - I think there should be a full scale boycott of HFCS, it should be illegal, or at the very least highly regulated.

Ciao For Now

I just wanted to give a shout out to my favorite lunch place in the east village Ciao For Now (they now have three locations, but the one on 12th street just down the street from their original location is still my favorite).

Yesterday in the midst of catering madness I was able to steal away for 20 minutes to have a little lunch. When you walk into this folksy country house cafe the first thing you see is a sign listing all the farmers they get their produce and meat from. In addition to a dizzying array of cup cakes (love the bran muffin which is actually in the shape of a mini loaf) and other things sweet Ciao For Now has a wonderful menu of savory items. Three daily soups, a daily stir fry and sometime other specials like homemade pizza.

The food is always super fresh and very tasty, the staff friendly and helpful. Everything is ordered at the counter when it's ready the staff brings it to you or if your like me you loiter and chat until it's ready and take it to a table in the next room (the space is two store fronts that have been merged together the seats are in one the counter and food in the other.)

The place is always very, well, zen like and quiet, a respite from the craziness of the city.
Last Summer I couldn't walk by without going in and getting a glass of their amazing Iced Green Tea with ginger - often I would have to get two.

Yesterday I had sausage and cabbage soup, which came with a wonderful moist square of focaccia. A great green salad filled with baby cherry tomatoes and corn with a green goddess dressing on the side, a bran muffin, ice green tea and the bill was $14 plus a tip.

In addition to lunch they now have a sit down brunch with waiter service and the space is available in the evenings for party rentals they also do catering.

If you haven't been you must check them out the next time you are in either the East or West village. I wish I had an event to throw as I think it would be so much fun to spend an evening in their lovely cafe.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kurt's Harpers Weekly Highlights

Members of the Winnemem Wintu Indian tribe traveled from California to New Zealand to beg forgiveness of the salmon.

A Bavarian baby-food company said it was planning to market its product to adults who dislike chewing.

Can you imagine disliking chewing so much you'd buy and eat baby food?

Zen Lunch

It's been a very busy week of cooking! I volunteered to make bag lunches for 25 people for 3 days for an event (Urban Sesshin) that is happening at Neil's Zendo, where he is the senior zen student this year.

After much menu changing, here is what the menus looks like:

Local Farmstead Goat Cheese with fresh Thyme, House Roasted Red Pepper, Home Made Olive Tapenade, Organic Arugula on locally baked Brioche Sandwich

Carrot Sticks and Radishes

Cranberry Walnut Loaf

Bananas (organic)

Day 2

House made Hummus, Feta, thinly sliced English Cucumber, fresh Mint and Sorrel on Whole Wheat and Flax Bread Sandwich

Carrot Sticks and Radishes

Wild Organic Maine Blueberry Pound Cake

Local Granny Smith Apples

Day 3

Fresh Local Mozzarella, homemade Pesto, Roasted Tomatoes, Arugula tossed with a Balsamic Vinaigrette on house made Focaccia

Carrot Sticks and Radishes

Coconut Cookies


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Reconsidering MSG

Just came across this over at and thought it was a fun, interesting and educational look at MSG something I had long ago dismissed as evil and bad, but now, because of this article am intrigued by.

My favorite line is:

"One neurosurgeon, Russell Blaylock, claims the food additive damaged the brain through excitotoxicity—essentially by exciting brain cells to death."

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Very cool idea. ReCORK is a cork recycling company. Sponsored by the Portuguese company
Amorim the worlds largest producer of wine corks. I'm not sure they have a spot in NYC, but I hop ethey will soon!

Here's a blurb from their site:

This recycling program is part of a “Green” initiative to reduce energy usage and conserve our precious resources. Through the simple act of cork recycling we can redirect some of the billions of natural corks that end up in the garbage each year to new and exciting applications. This program is linked to a global initiative to save and protect over 6 million acres of cork forests that dot the Mediterranean Basin. These forests are not only vital to the local economies, they represent an ecosystem that is only found in the montado, and are key in the battle against global warming.

Square Food

This is a square version of a tart from my early years in Toronto, a cranberry sour cream crumble tart. It worked out well but I need work on the recipe a little bit more to get the amounts right I ended up have a lot of filling and crumble left over, but it sure does look pretty. Recipe to come soon!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pain D'Avignon at the Essex Street Market

The design factor has just gone up several notches at the Essex Street Market with the opening of Pain D'Avignon's classy first retail space . When I first moved to the Lower East Side I had pretty much written off this market and didn't even bother to go in for the first year I lived here. Then a friend of mine told me about this fabulous local cheese shop that was, much to my surprise, in the Essex Street market, that cheese shop is the much mentioned here Saxelby Cheese. It was at my first visit to buy cheese that I realized what a great place this was. Lots of Latin grocery stores selling of particular interest to me a vast selection of Mexican ingredients, everything from dried peppers to fresh cactus paddles. I realized that Essex Farm Fruits and Vegetables sold a small selection of organic products and that Jeffrey's Meat was renowned for the quality and diversity of his meat and poultry selection. He also sources a lot of local produce including Bo Bo Chickens and Hudson Valley Duck.

Formaggio Essex is a gem of a store with kick ass olives, an exhaustive international cheese selection and sherry vinegar and olive oil available in bulk with refillable green glass bottles.

First stop on any tour of the market should be the tiny out post of Porto Rico Importing Co where they offer regular or organic brew and beans at very reasonable prices.

If you don't live in the city I'd really suggest this as a great jumping off point for your foodies tour of the lower east side when next you visit. If you do live here and haven't been in a while check it out again, its becoming a smaller, funkier, more diverse version of the Chelsea market.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wangari Mathaai Gives The Opening Address At The NYC Food and Climate Change

Nobel Prize winning environmentalist Wangari Mathaai which I believe is a typo in the video as when I do a search for her the names comes up Maathai) is my hero, smart, articulate, plain spoken and very powerful always great to hear from her.

Wangari Mathaai opening address @ NYC Food and Climate 12/12/09 from Just Food on Vimeo.

Bee Keeping Now Legal in NYC! Yipppeeeeee

This just in from the people at Food Justice:

This morning, the NYC Board of Health voted in favor of lifting the ban on beekeeping in Health Code Article 161, which previously rendered beekeeping illegal. Today's vote is an important victory for all of those who support bees, beekeepers, urban agriculture and a greener, healthier and more sustainable New York City!

This video was made a few months back when the campaign to repeal article 161 was in full swing, it's an interesting look at urban bees and the people who love them (and their honey!)

Hidden Hives Tour from Just Food on Vimeo.

Why A Salad Costs More Than a Big Mac

Check it out here.

Jamie Oliver's TED Talk

I found this very moving, most of the news I'd think most people who stop by here already know, but it is still amazing and profoundly upsetting to hear it.

Scared Yet?

Apparently this ad is causing a stir, people think children will be upset. I don't think it's that scary especially when compared to a lot of traditional children's stories like Where the Wild Things Are or Little Red Riding Hood.

I think it's use of the term CO2 would be confusing to young kids,but otherwise I applaud the UK government for trying to educate children about climate change.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Doomsday Seed Vault in Norway

I'm sure Monsanto is not happy with this. Thanks to those always cheery Norwegians the world now has a seed vault built on a northern Norwegian island to protect bio-diversity.

It's been in the news a lot lately, but I couldn't help post about it here because the building itself is so darned cool and futuristic looking.

It's really great that someone in the world is actually concered enough about Monsanto et al's take over of nature to build something like this and to gather such a vast (50,000 at recent count) collection of seeds from all over the planet.

It's very Day After Tomorrow don't you think?

My Rainy Day Stew

Indian Lentil Stew in the pot:
And in the bowl with a dollop of apricot gooseberry chutney and yogurt:

The perfect comfort food for a cold damp rainy day.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Perfect Day to Stay Home and Cook

The view from our window today and below the arty version

I'm feeling Indian Lentil Stew and a pie, maybe something with frozen cranberries or blueberries. One of my favorite things to make when I had just gotten out of university was a sour cream cranberry crumble tart.

I was so excited when I discovered tart pans with the fluted edges and removable bottoms, so much more sophisticated than a pie dish and in my twenties it was all about presentation, I'd just graduated from theater school so I suppose I can be given some dispensation for wanting to make every plate of food I made a theatrical event.

Then there are apples, I love this simple apple tart I've been making lately and if you are going out anyway you should try and make a point of going to the market and buying something from a farmer, their day started at 4 or earlier and they've been standing in this since. It's days like this I'm so aware of how hard it is to be a farmer and how appreciative I am of them for their labors.

Of course if all of this sounds too ambitious for you I hardily recommend a nap, really the perfect response to weather like this.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Scallion Pancakes

These are super easy to make and very versatile, they make a great appetizer either plain or with dipping sauces but they also go great with a stir fry or a lamb stew, I served them the other night with Indian Chickpeas and they were delicious. Scroll down to the bottom for the recipe.

Scallion Pancake Recipe

In a big bowl add 1 cup of bread flour*, 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 T of sesame oil. Mix with a wooden spoon briefly to work the oil into the flour then add 1/2 cup boiling water, stir to bring together, adding more water as needed, 1 T at a time until the dough has come together and you can knead it with your hands until it reaches a silky, pliable texture (a few minutes at most).

Wrap in a damp cloth and let sit at room temperature for no less than 30 minutes an hour is best.

Sprinkle with a little bit of flour on a work surface, then roll into a rope. Cut the rope into 6-8 pieces and roll them into balls.

Roll out each ball, one at a time, very thinly, generously sprinkle with chopped scallions, roll into a tube shape then roll it into a tight spiral (see pictures). Repeat until they are all done, keeping the finished spirals under the damp cloth.

One spiral at a time, on a lightly floured surface flatten with the palm of your hand then using a rolling pin roll out into a flat pancake, repeat until they are all done.

In a large skillet heat organic peanut oil until hot, but not smoking and fry the pancakes until brown on each side ( 2-3 minutes for each side).

Place cook pancakes on a towel to drain off any excess oil, cut into quarters and serve. I like to make a dipping sauce from light soy sauce, rice wine, scallions, fresh ginger, hot pepper flakes and a little sugar. They also are great dipped in your favorite hot sauce.

(* bread flour makes them chewier because of it's higher protein content you can just use all purpose if you don't have any bread flour on hand)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Some resourceful soul has retro fitted a Volkswagen Scirocco to run on coffee grounds.

Read all about it at

Home Project

Home is a movie you can watch for free here. It's about 90 minutes long so you might want to make some pop corn and get a glass of wine.

It's a very beautifully shot film about the planet we call home and the destruction we have reaped on it. Sorry that's not exactly a sales pitch, so much of the information of old news or news that you probably already know. Still some how I find it reassuring to hear again. Which isn't to say there isn't a lot of great tidbits. I admire the mission of the Good Planet organization that has funded this documentary and is trying to educate people about environmental protection.

Worth the hour and a half.

Rise Above Plastics

Roast Chicken Part 2

A while back I posted a recipe for roast chicken where I was perplexed by how so many recipes called for additional fat to be added to the bird before cooking, there's a lot of shoving of butter underneath the skin of chickens going on out there in recipe land. It could be argued that the butter is added for flavor or to keep the breast from drying out. I maintain that if you buy a bird that grew up on a farm and not in a factory it already has tons of taste and never in my roast chicken cooking history have I ever encountered a dry breast because I am so adamant about buying local, humanely raised organic chickens.

To prove my point I cooked the chicken on a bed of potatoes which roasted along with the bird. Potatoes suck up moisture when they cook, these pictures show you how even with 2 chopped up potatoes in the pan along with the chicken there was plenty of fat and juice in the bottom of the pan. So delicious, simple and easy!

And for what it's worth I think there is no need to make a gravy out of this unless you have some sort of gravy fetish, just pour the jus into a serving container as it is and put it on the table. This is my idea of convenience food.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dolphin Steak Anyone?

It's rare there are three documentary films that I have seen that are all nominated for an Oscar, my personal favorite was Burma VJ, but Food Inc and the winner The Cove were equally as compelling and all three have important stories to tell that we all need to hear.

I've posted all of these trailers on here before, but here they are again. The makers of The Cove are using their win last night to help heighten the pressure on the Japanese government to stop the horrific practices of killing dolphins for mercury tainted meat or to sell them to marine amusement parks. Check out their site for more details on how you can help.

And the winner is:

Edward III Absinthe

Friday night after yoga I went to Astor Wines to stock up for our dinner party on Saturday. The place was buzzing with activity and what seemed to me like an unusual amount of tastings going on, I sipped some delicious white wines from Greece, a few fancy reds from France, including a Châteauneuf-du-Pape and figured I was through, but then I notice another small crowd of people in the liquor section, not a part of the store I usually go to unless I'm looking for some cooking rum.

Artisanal absinthe was big news a few years back and there are several high end producers here in the States, I've been meaning to try some, but had yet not gotten around to it so here was my chance. Edward III is made in upstate New York in small batches (this was their first batch so all the bottles are hand numbered, I got 478) with all organic aromatics, the grain alcohol is purchased from a supplier and I'm guessing not organic. It's a small 375 ml bottle and costs at Astor $36.99.

The three ingredients essential in making absinthe are Wormwood, Fennel and Green Anise, Edward III has a complex flavor that starts out with licorice, but as it glides down the back of your throat becomes more herbaceous with a hint of lemon. There is no added sugar or color, it's delightfully smooth with a hint of natural sweetness. And boy oh boy it packs a punch, that of course could have been all the wine I drank before it or it could just be that I am a light weight when it comes to hard liquor regardless it is a delicious treat to be savored. The fact that it is a locally made, mostly organic product just increases, for me, it's appeal.

Given the history of this particular libation it was fun to finally try it and it makes for great dinner time conversation.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Radical Home Making

Every so often I get an email from which is a part of I joined up well over a year ago, it's a wonderful community who are interested in the:

"celebration of imaginative, passionate people who love to eat, grown and cook good food."

And while I'm quoting from their site:

"HOMEGROWN.ORG is an online community of people interested in all things HOMEGROWN: growing, cooking, crafting, brewing, preserving, building, making and creating. is a place where we can learn from each other, share our questions, and show off how we dig in the dirt, grow our own food, work with our hands, and cook and share our meals – all things that we call HOMEGROWN"

So today's email was about a new cook book that has a very funny cover picture and a great title:
Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes. My first thought was: Wow a book about me and the more I read about it (I've just placed my order) the more radical I think it is, in this time we live in, to be a homemaker and not feel lesser than or somehow like a servant. Not sure where the idea came from that only corporate or professional jobs where you make a lot of money were the only ones worth having?

Obviously, with this blog, I am exploring this very idea of how can we live in a city, be urban yet be as gentle as possible in our impact on the planet and bring our way of life back to something more manageable and sustainable. I've used this period of unemployment and turned it into an exploration of homemaking with an obvious focus on food and the politics that surround it and it has in turn at the very least given me something to do, but also radically (there's that word again) made me rethink how I live in the city and see how much cheaper and better I can live when I avoid the trappings of corporate food.

Who'd have thought that the first lady planting an organic garden would have been controversial? I sure didn't. It says so much, to me, about who we are as a culture and where we have come from that something like growing a vegetable garden without the use of pesticides was somehow radical. Pesticde use in this country didn't really build up steam until after world war 2. In part it was the chemical warehouse from the war that needed to be used that motivated the idea of pesticides along with increasing production by planting thousands if not millions of acres of mono-cultures, which simply are not sustainable.

Here is another quote from the Homegrown blurb on Radical Homemakers that is from the introduction to the book (the red highlight is mine):

As I looked more closely at the role homemaking could play in revitalizing our local food system, I saw that the position was a linchpin for more than just making use of garden produce and chicken carcasses. Individuals who had taken this path in life were building a great bridge from our existing extractive economy – where corporate wealth was regarded as the foundation of economic health, where mining our earth’s resources and exploiting our international neighbors was accepted as simply the cost of doing business – to a life-serving economy, where the goal is, in the words of David Korten, to generate a living for all, rather that a killing for a few, where our resources are sustained, our waters are kept clean, our air pure, and families can lead meaningful and joyful lives.

In the end what is so eye opening to me is that what used to be considered something valuable and essential - growing and making of food - got relegated to the compost heap because it wasn't convenient? Certainly with high rents and expensive food stuffs urban living can leave little time for much else than work. That's what I hope to be doing here.

The good news is that people really want to change, want to eat better, healthier food that is made from food not from products and after decades of eating processed packaged crap this old idea has taken foot again and become radical. And now we have a new book to further help us on our journey towards being Radical Homemakers thanks to Shannon Hayes.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Natural Wine Event

Astor is one of my favorite wine stores in part becasue they were way ahead of the curve when it came to supporting organic and biodynamic wine makers. They have a small organic section, but through out the store everything is coded so you know what is what (my other favorite wine store September also does this).

This Saturday they are holding their 6th annual natural wine tasting where you get a chance for $ 15to mingle with the wine makers and taste a bunch of fine wine made in the traditional methods.

Get tickets here:

More on this event from Astor's web site:

It’s time for our Sixth Annual Natural Wine Event! Mingle with the winemakers while you taste their amazing wines.

On Saturday, March 6th, for just $15, you can try over 20 wines in a casual, fun setting. Talk to the winemakers about these natural, organic, and biodynamic bottlings, which have become wildly popular among those who prefer pure food and wine.

Throughout the afternoon we will also hold short seminars with three engaging speakers: winemaker Tony Coturri from Sonoma, California; winemaker Alain Rochard from Minervois, France; and Andy Fisher, President of Astor Wines & Spirits and Astor Center. So, aside from being a nice break from your Saturday shopping, this event will even teach you a thing or two!

Natural winemakers strive to grow perfect grapes, and they make honest wines in every vintage without manipulation. Taste their phenomenal creations and talk with these passionate artisans about their craft, and you’ll immediately understand why they work so hard.

Wineries featured at the event:

Chemins de Bassac from Languedoc-Roussillon
Colombaia from Tuscany
Olivier Cousin from the Loire (Anjou/Saumur)
Domaine des Deux Anes from Languedoc-Roussillon (Corbières)
Le Loup Blanc from Languedoc-Roussillon (Minervois)
Ch. Tire Pé from Bordeaux
Coturri from Sonoma, California
Domaine Rimbert from Languedoc-Roussillon (St.-Chinian)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rabbit Farms

Farming & Breeding Fresh Rabbits for NYC Restaurants *food curated* from SkeeterNYC on Vimeo.

After you watch this, if you do indeed watch this, click on this link and take the are rabbits too cute to eat quiz. My two cents worth is that if we were to use cuteness as a criteria for eating something we wouldn't eat chickens, lamb, cows even pigs can be very adorable not to mention smart.

I grew up with an Italian family next store who raised rabbits every summer. They were very low tech about it but basically raised them in cages and treated them well until the day they were slaughtered and grandma came out and got the bodies to take them to the kitchen to skin them.

My friend Ian just wrote me to alert me to the article in the NYT today also about rabbits. Apparently there was a seminar at Roberta's (my favorite pizza place in the world) in November about how to kill a rabbit which then goes on to discuss peoples reactions to rabbit on the menu etc.

Personally I have always loved eating rabbit and although they are super cute, I think I could raise the kill them for food, too bad I live on the 14th floor of a high rise with a kosher keeping boy friend (for some reason rabbits aren't kosher).

Lunch Box Advocates

"What's In Your Lunchbox" PSA-School Lunch Act from Williams Media Group on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Deconstructing A Taco

This graphic is kind of useless and I am unable to figure out how to embiggen it. It does sort of give you the idea.

Your Taco Deconstructed is a great article over at Good on how many miles the ingredients of a taco travel before they arrive at your table in your taco.

According to the class findings, within a single taco, the ingredients had traveled a total of 64,000 miles, or just over two and a half times the circumference of the earth.

Market Update: Ducks and Lemons?

On Monday at Union Square market a new vendor was making their debut: Hudson Valley Duck Farm. They had a bunch of samples out that lured me to their table, fatty fried duck breast, smoked duck and my favorite duck prosciutto, the later I've seen on menus already and hope to see on many more soon! I bought 2 small breast of duck that were vacum packed and cost about $9 - they are a special cross breed called the Moulard a female Pekin is bred with a male Muscovy (Ms.Pekin is the top picture Mr. Muscovy the bottom). This produces a leaner and gamier meat then the traditional and bigger Pekin breast.

I have some frozen Bing cherries that I bought at the market in August and froze that I am going to take out and make as a sauce to go with the seared duck breast. I'll give you a full report with picture soon. They don't have a web site yet, but I'm pretty sure they said they were part of Hudson Valley Frois Gras. So if you are around and can get to Union Square on Monday and you eat duck for sure check these folks out.

OK so now what up with the lemons mentioned in the title? Well yesterday I got my Tasting Table email as I do every day and it was a piece on Shuna Lydon the pastry chef at 10 Downing Street here's what it said (the yellow highlight is mine):

On her regular visits to the Union Square Greenmarket, she acquires local lemons and crates of heirloom apples.

Lemons in New York? I know we are experiencing global climate change, but I have yet to notice lemons growing anywhere in the North East and in my almost 20 years of shopping at the Union Square green market have I ever ever seen a lemon.

Now sure this could be a typo or something, but it got me kind of excited! How wonderful would it be if some adventurous farmer with a green house was actually growing citrus locally! That's a locavores dream come true!

So if anyone else has any knowledge of who and when I can get me some local lemons please let me know!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Roast Chicken

Photo: Andre Baranowski

A few days back I got my Saveur Magazine Newsletter which featured "Delicious Roast Chicken Recipes" the picture above is for Sara's Roast Chicken with Garlic and Sage.
No doubt a delicious recipe, but as I looked through the recipes and other roast chicken recipes in my favorite cook books and on line I noticed that they all have added oil (usually butter). This strikes me as kind of odd, because when I make roast chicken I usually use nothing other than salt and pepper. The other day when I roasted two together in a baking dish by the time they were ready to come out of the oven they were sitting in about 2 inches of chicken fat and juice already perfectly seasoned with salt and pepper ready to be put in a gravy boat and placed beside your simple, perfectly roasted chicken.

First let me be clear I'm all for adding things to your roast chicken fresh herbs, Meyer lemons, onions or what ever else strikes your fancy. All I'm saying is that with all this emphasis this past week on the Week of Eating In and on how eating in is healthier and easier for you why not make it actually easier? We live in a culture that has determined that food needs to be convenient it's why we eat out, eat fast food and or order in.

I don't know about you, but shoving butter under the skin of my roast chicken is simply more effort then I want to put in some times. Also, and more to the point, I question if it is even necessary. The thing that none of the recipes I looked at said was: buy a local organic cage free chicken from a farmer or a good local grocery store.

We buy organic kosher ones from Wise farms and have them delivered and freeze them. The double certification makes these birds stupid expensive, organic and local are the key qualifiers here.

The only reason I can think of why you'd need to add fat to a chicken is because you are using an inferior factory made bird. Yes, the organic bird is going to cost more (about twice as much) and if it's local and from a farmer probably even more again, but it is never dry (to my experience) and the taste is so wonderful you really don't need to do to anything to make this bird taste delicious other than add salt and pepper.

The extra cost is certainly a consideration, it's one of those things where I think you're better off to eat chicken less and have it be really good (more human, more sustainable and better tasting!) chicken when you do eat it.

That way you can save the planet by eating more veggie meals and at the same time discovering or rediscovering what chicken actually tastes like. Manufactured chicken has no real flavor, is tortured from the day it is born, is filled with hormones, antibiotics, mutilated (often beaks and feet are cut off while they are still alive) and maybe most importantly they just don't taste good and the breast meat is always dry ergo the need for butter, pancetta, etc.

Roast Chicken

Preheat the oven to 500 F.

Rinse and pat dry a 3 lb organic chicken.

Generously sprinkle salt and fresh ground black pepper all over the bird and in it's cavity.

Place in the over and cook for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes rotate the pan and reduce the heat to 375 F and cook for another 30 minutes.

To test for done-ness I pock a fork into the joint between where the leg meets the body of the bird to make sure there is no blood or pinkness. Also the egs should be drooping away or falling off of the body of the bird this is a real indication that it is done. Also remember the bird continues to cook when you take it out of the oven.

Always let the chicken sit out lightly covered with tin foil for 10 minutes or more before you serve it.

Ta da! And sure half a lemon and throw in some herbs or garlic to the cavity if you want and have them around and roasted potatoes or root veg are always a good idea (I prefer to cook them tossed in a little olive oil in a separate baking dish then the chicken.

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