Friday, April 30, 2010

Rhubarb is Here

I see a crumble in my future.

Canadians Lead Longer Healthier Lives


I admit up front my biased as someone who was born and raised in Canada that I was happy to see this study (which was sent to me by an Argentinean who has a Canadian boyfriend).

Lately a certain portion of Sarah Palin loving Americans want to characterize as "socialist" as if that was somehow demonic, scary or bad. Well maybe, just maybe, a government taking care of it's people is actually a good thing and by that I mean, first and foremost, universal health care:

ScienceDaily (Apr. 29, 2010) — Compared to their neighbours south of the border, Canadians live longer, healthier lives. Research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Population Health Metrics has found this disparity between the two countries, suggesting that America's lack of universal health care and lower levels of social and economic equality are to blame.

David Feeny, from Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Oregon, USA, worked with a team of American researchers to study data from the Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health 2002/03. He said, "Canada and the US share a common border and enjoy very similar standards of living, yet life expectancy in Canada is higher than in the US. There are two distinct potential explanations for the gap: differences in access to health care and in the prevalence of poverty."

Canadians have a universal 'prenatal to grave' health service, which is free at point of care, while Americans' access to health insurance is typically based on employment, income (Medicaid), or age (Medicare), and is not universal. The degree of social inequality is also more pronounced in the US. The researchers found that Canadians can expect 2.7 more years of 'perfect health' than Americans -- more than half of the gap found between the richest and poorest people in Canada. Speaking about the results, Feeny said, "The difference in health between the two countries seems to be associated with substantial differences in access to care as well as substantial differences in social and economic inequality. Yet distinguishing among the potential explanations for the differences in health between the two countries would require longitudinal data. Perhaps it is time for Canada and the US to contemplate a joint longitudinal survey."

So Neil, when are we moving to Vancouver?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Michael Pollan Makes Time 100 Most Influential List

With a lovely mini essay by Alice Waters: Check it out here.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Butchering a Lamb

This is so cool. Daniel Klein is a young chef who worked in Brooklyn at Applewood who has moved to Minnesota and is doing a great blog called the Perennial Palate that I just learned about from my daily Tasting Table email.

What an awesome site! Here is a video he had his vegetarian girlfriend film about how to butcher a lamb. I really like the information in the video about what kind of lamb it is, Icelandic, and that it's a Ewe because they don't give milk so they are used for meat and that it's not a baby lamb, because that isn't sustainable.

I love that the site is commercial free, survives on donations and takes place over one calendar year. It is motivation for me to get going with my new project! 52 Sunday Suppers to Save the Planet....more on that later.

Check out The Perennial Palate there's a lot of good videos, recipes and food information you don't want to miss!

The Perennial Plate Episode 6: Butchering a Lamb from Daniel Klein on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

City of Merchants

This looks like a very cool event. I have always wanted to go into the Marble Cemetery but it is always closed so this is a great opportunity to go inside, have some light refreshments and take part in a silent auction all to help support the good folks at the New Amsterdam Market who are trying to establish a full time artisanal local market under the Brooklyn Bridge in the historical South Street Seaport.

So mark your calendars May 22nd tickets go on sale May 6th.



The New York Marble Cemetery was incorporated in 1831 as the city’s first public, non-sectarian place of burial. It is located at 41 1/2 Second Avenue in the East Village, near the corner of Second Street. The beautiful and quiet garden oasis preserves the memory of New York’s 19th century merchants, many of whom conducted their business in the old Seaport. Long before the brokers of Wall Street, the independent, small businesses on South Street built New York’s economy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ramps, Ramps and More Ramps!

My dear old friend Ansell and I got caught up today over lunch, he greeted me with a huge bag of ramps he'd picked at his house upstate.

Just the other day I had gotten a few bunches from the Union square green market so that last night I could ramp and asparagus risotto (note to self finish off risotto with sauteed Ramps).

The market is bursting at the seams with Ramps and Asparagus.

I love the Spring market, all the vendors who don't sell during the Winter are back swelling the ranks of farmers by nearly double. A renewed sense of life returns to the market in the Spring along with the first produce of the season.

As for ramps my recipe thought for them today is to make scallion pancakes and substitute ramps for the scallions, fry them up nice and crisp and serve them with a simple, creamy, fricassee of asparagus and mushrooms. It's too early for morels, but a few farmers have mushrooms all year round so finding some good ones shouldn't be a problem.

With a simple green salad and maybe some ginger shortbread you've made a nice meal to share with friends to celebrate the start of the season. After months of squash, potatoes and root vegetables this is indeed something to celebrate!

Empire Diner RIP

After 30 years of business the Empire Diner in Chelsea is closing only to be re-opened by the corporation that owns Coffee Shop on Union Square.

It wasn't like I was a frequent guest at the Diner, but I loved passing the authentic art deco diner sitting there on the avenue whenever I was in the neighborhood. It was a great place to take people to from out of town, a bit touristy, but fun nonetheless.

I can't imagine what they will possibly change it into, I just hope they don't get rid of the diner.

Too bad that if it had to be bought by someone it couldn't have been by someone who actually cared about food, the Coffee Shop's food the last time I went there was inedible. It takes work to ruin scrambled eggs and toast.

Here is a sweet little video homage I found:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hech En Dumbo

Marion's restaurant on the Bowery was my friend Jays favorite place. I could never really understand it, but I always liked walking by and seeing people enjoying drinks in the campy 1950's themed room.

It was a bit of a shock when I realized it had closed and some new comer was renovating the space at 354 Bowery. It had been Marion's for my entire life in New York ( 24 years now). Part of me was convinced that it was just the Marion's people doing something new. Indeed it is new people doing something new - well sort of new - as the name may suggest they started to do it first in DUMBO (down under Manhattan overpass in Brooklyn) and have moved their wonderful restaurant to the Bowery.

I've eaten here about 4 times and am amazed every time. Chef Danny Mena has a commitment to quality ingredients and to "homemade" that makes this very authentic Mexican restaurant a thrill to eat in. Even the bar squeezes fresh all their juices and makes such exotic elixirs as hibiscus juice (a sour and bloody red unsweetened bar mix for exotic cocktails) and tamarind juice which they make by boiling tamarind pods in water for 5 hours.

All the food I've had is wonderful and it makes me very happy to see an emphasis put on organic and local. I love mole and the two dishes I loved the most were a quail dish and a duck confit dish which both featured this seductive chocolate based sauce.

Hech en Dumbo was instantly a hit and is so packed in the evening my advice is go for lunch when you can relax, drink one of the four Brooklyn brewed beers (Tiger IPA yum!) and leisurely enjoy a selection of fine food (and an awesome 10 buck prix fix lunch deal) in this rustic, sleek industrial room.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Canada's Avatarsands

I thought this was kind of amusing and maybe a more effective way of making point then getting all serious and lecturing people about how horrible things are. Of course the fact that it's Canadian made it more appealing to me ;-)




And this is the Avatarsands from NYC - I love that they call Alberta Hell on Earth. In truth the Western parts of Alberta are beautiful.


Earth Day

I've been reading Wendell Berry who is brilliant, I think and what he has been writing about for decades is as relevant today as it has always been, if not more so.

In no particular order here are some of my favorite things I have underlined, highlighted or turned down the page to remember.

These quotes all come from a collection of essay's called:
Bringing It To The Table published by Counterpoint Press

The problem of scale. The identification of scale as a "problem" implies that things can be too big as well as too small, and I believe that is is so. Technology can grow to a size that is first undemocratic and then inhuman. It can grow beyond the control of human institutions. How large can a machine be before it ceases to serve people and begins to subjugate them?

The less power and velocity a thing has, the more "pedestrian" it is. A plow with one bottom is, as a matter of course more "pedestrian" than a plow with eight bottoms; the quality of use is not recognized as an issue. The hand laborers are this to be eliminated from China's fields for the same reason the we now build housing developments without sidewalks: The pedestrian, not being allowed for, is not allowed.

(this is a quote Berry uses from Terry Cummin's Feed My Sheep)

When you see that you're making the other things feel good, it gives you a good feeling, too.

The feeling inside sort of just happens, and you can't say this did it or that did it. It's the many little things. It doesn't seem that taking sweat-soaked harness off tired hot horses would be something that would make you notice. Opening a barn door for the sheep standing out in a cold rain, or throwing a few grains of corn to the chickens are small things, but these little things begin to add up in you, and you can begin to understand that you're important. You may not be real important like people who do great tings that you read about in the newspaper, but you begin to feel that you're important to all the life around you. Nobody else knows or cares too much about what you do, but if you get a good feeling inside about what you do, then it doesn't matter if nobody else knows. I do think about myself a lot when I'm alone way back on the place bringing in the cows or sitting on a mowing machine all day. But when I start thinking about how our animals and crops and fields and woods and gardens sort of all fit together, then I get that good feeling inside and don't worry much about what will happen to me.


That about sums it up to me, we can no long keep eating chicken that we buy at a super market and think it just magically arrives on a Styrofoam plate covered in plastic. We have to find our way back to a place where we understand what it takes to raise that chicken and slaughter it and butcher it. We have to appreciate that craft, that care, the time that it took. Yes we also have to appreciate that it may cost more, we may have to eat it less often, but at least then we will have a real world filled with people living consciously giving value to the farmers, land and animals that feed them each and every day.

The future of food can not be about factory farms, GMO mono cultures and Fossil Fuel based pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, it can not be about these things because they do not offer us a future.

Happy 40th Earth Day thanks for stopping by.

Dolphins Are Smarter Than a Lot of People Don't Eat and in Prison Them

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Chocolate Stout Brownies

Last week I saw a recipe by Claire Thomas on the Huffington Post for beer brownies, cooking with booze always excites me for some reason and I had never heard of beer brownies before. After checking out many recipes, which often seemed to be the same recipe with slight variation I went about making my own. One recipe that showed up often had white chocolate chips in it, which seems kind of weird to me (not a fan of white chocolate) and one blogger complained that his brownies didn't taste of beer, which they don't, nor do I think they are suppose to.

Supposedly the beer adds a more complex flavor to the brownie, I'm not sure I get that in the ones I made (recipe below) but I thought it was fun cooking with beer and they are damn good brownies.

In my version I've put an emphasis on local products calling for Brooklyn Brewery's Chocolate Stout and Taza's stone ground Mexican chocolate. Also I find it near impossible to find a chocolate chips I like, mostly they are semi-sweet and I prefer something that is at least 70% chocolate so I use chopped up Scharffen Berger 70% (you can buy large 9.7 ounces baking bars for about 10 bucks a good thing to have in the larder as they also make great eating).

Finally I made this as an adult dessert (as opposed to a casual kids snack) just so you know what you're getting yourself into ;-)

Chocolate Stout Brownie recipe

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Butter and flour a 9 x 13 pan.

Toast 1 1/4 cup of pecans for 5-7 minutes - until they begin to smell and have browned oh so slightly. Let cool.

Over simmering water place a bowl with 8 T unsalted butter, 1 round of Taza Mexican chocolate (they are 2.7 ounces and come in several flavors I used vanilla bean, guajillo chili or cinnamon chocolate both would work as well) roughly chopped, 1 ounce roughly chopped 70% chocolate and 2 T of instant espresso stirring occasionally until melted and completely combined, remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of Chocolate stout (or whatever dark beer you are using) place aside and let cool.

In a separate bowl add 1 cup of flour, 1/4 cup coco powder (again I use Scharffen Berger) and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

In a big bowl (I used a standing mixer) whisk together 4 large room temperature eggs, 1 cup white sugar and 1 cup brown sugar until thick and well combined (a minute or 2 with an electric mixer 3 or 4 by hand)

Roughly chop 1 cup of the pecans reserving the 1/4 cup for garnish.

Starting and ending with the dry ingredients alternately add the flour and chocolate mixture to the egg and sugar. When just combined add 2 teaspoon of dark rum (whiskey or vanilla extract both work as well). With a spatula or wooden spoon, add the chopped pecans and 1 cup of chopped 70% chocolate.

Baked in prepared pan for 35 minutes. Don't over bake. Let cool to room temperature.

Serve with unsweetened whipped cream and a whole toasted pecan.

Best served at room temperature.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Double Down Madness


I've been avoiding writing about the new gross out sandwich from KFC as it has been everywhere in the main stream media, but statistics genius Nate Silver over at his site FiveThirtyEight.com has done an analysis of it (above) and although very unhealthy it's got a lot of company.

The upsetting thing to me is in the intro to the article Nate admits he hasn't eating one yet, but probably will, oh Nate say it ain't so! In a way that is why I didn't want to write about it, because you know all the press it's been getting is going to get people to go out and buy one.

So Nate if you are reading this, watch this video before you decide to eat that crap. Find your self a friend who cooks, make a date and go the the market, buy some tasty, humanely raised chicken, some heritage bacon, and maybe a little artisanal cheese, pick up a bottle or two of wine on your way home. Once home let your cook friend recreate for you a double down made from real ingredients.

Support farmers not KFC.

Food Gross Out of The Year

Is it a rat? A mouse? Or mold? Hard to tell, but what ever it is, it's just another reason not to buy Chef Boyardee. Yuck.

For the full story and ConAgra's response check out the article at Huffington Post.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Volcanic Ash and Your Supper

I'm such a food nerd. I was reading today in the New York Times about all the flight delays being caused by the erupting volcano in Iceland. This paragraph caught my eye:

The disaster is estimated to be costing airlines $200 million a day, but the economic damage will roll through to farms, retail establishments and nearly any other business that depends on air cargo shipments. Fresh produce will spoil, and supermarkets in Europe, used to year-round supplies, will begin to run out.

And I thought, well this is just another example of how important it is to have a locally based food system. Air freighting food is expensive, contributes to global climate change and isn't sustainable as this disaster suggests, one thing goes wrong and you have a shortage.

Certainly it is a shortage of things that may very well be considered "luxury items" raspberries from Chile or Avocados from Mexico etc...so how real is this shortage, what kind of basic food stuffs are being affected is what I'd like to know? Anyway it's just the same old story you hear me going on about here all the time, the safest, most sustainable food system is a highly diverse local one not a commercially based, air freighted, monoculture one.

How brilliant would raspberries taste if the only time we ate them was when they were in season where you live?

How amazing would eating an avocado be if you only had one when you visited a country with a climate that could grow them?

It's a bit of a simplification, but shipping food by truck and train are far more sustainable and low impact ways of moving food than airplanes.

Is it so impossible to imagine returning to a culture where the only food we ate was local and when we did get something "exotic" we got it when it was in season in the place it was grown and it was brought to us in a way that didn't further deteriorate our environment?

I know terrible business model, but it's like the guy in the article says to all the angry airline executives: “What’s more important, the safety of passengers or business?”

What's more important, the health of our planet and security of our food system or business?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Marcel Theroux in Cambodia on the Tonle Sap and Eating Gross Food

I've been to the Tonle Sap, which is in the north of Cambodia near the Angkor ruins and the town of Siem Reap. What he doesn't mention is how jeopardized life on the Tonle Sap is because of climate change and Chinese interference. It's also interesting to note that the people who live on the lake are Vietnamese and roundly despised by most Cambodians. It's a fascinating place, the lake functions like a bellows emptying out and filling up with the seasons.

There's a passenger boat from Phnom Penh that goes up to Siem Reap and back, but he doesn't run in the dry season because the river is too shallow...I want to go back so badly...

Also from the Guardian.uk

It wouldn't let me embed so here's the link.

Brits Discussing Food

From the Guardian, nothing new really, it's just interesting to see how we are all talking about the same thing and how food and how we eat is reaching a tipping point. The thing that struck me about this discussion was that in England they have universal health care so the population is paying the bill for food related illness like obesity and adult onset diabetes. The British government seems to be in a better place there to penalize people for eating crap, but also to preventing fast food and packaged food companies from selling there wares. It would be tremendously unpopular with a lot of corporate back lash, but if you made MacDonald's expensive people would stop eating there. Of course the real issue is how can a country like Britain convince the American government to stop corn subsidies, which are at the end of the day the reason we have "cheap" food to start with anyway here we go some smart Brit's chatting about food:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Breezy Hill Orchards and The LES Girls Club Team Up at Essex Street Market

This makes me so happy! My favorite eggs, apples, cider and so much more now available just around the corner Essex Street Market thanks to Breezy Hill Orchard and the Lower East Side Girls Club teaming up to open up this wonderful farm stand/store.

Every week the Essex Street Market gets better and better!





Mushroom & Cheese Curd Lasagna

This is my new favorite lasagna ever. It is in my signature round style, if you haven't bought a cazuela yet I think it is a great investment. I use mine all the time and love the free form lasagna I make in it, so much easier then using a pasta machine and so much tastier than the dried packaged stuff.

This is like one of those movies with two endings, as you look through the pictures you'll see one lasagna that has bechamel and cheese on top and another that has the mushroom sauce. You'll also notice that in one version I used both fresh mozzarella and cheese cuds, but in the end recipe (as pictured above ) cheese curds are all you need.

In part this recipe was created in response to recipes that replace ground meat with mushrooms. Certainly there is a textural similarity, but that's about it. Also I notice that recipes, especially those published by magazines (it was a recipe in Saveur that got this all started) want you to add so many unneeded ingredients making the lasagna prohibitively expensive, you don't need to add sun dried tomatoes, four herbs and parsley and tomato paste and you certainly don't need to buy expensive mushrooms, especially if the point is that you are replacing cheap ground meat with them. Button, Crimini, Portobello or ideally a mixture of the three work great. No need to break the bank on Shitaki you aren't going to taste anyway once you add all that spice and tomato.

The other thing is I hate recipes that call for an odd amount of things like a can and a half of tomatoes, I don't know about you, but in my kitchen that left over tomato will sit in my fridge, get moldy and at some future point be thrown away. The mushroom sauce in this recipe, which is a generous amount, calls for two 28 ounce cans of diced or crushed tomatoes and will most likely leave you with some left over, but at least it's a left over you can use more readily, it doesn't call for you to makes something else - add it as a topping to quickly boiled mid-week spaghetti, or spooned over a baked potato and then melt some cheddar cheese on it or on buttered toast as mentioned above.

OK that's enough ranting from me, hope you like the pictures, the recipe is at the bottom of the page.
You can never have too much Parmesan.
The big round "noodles" before being par boiled.
The mushroom sauce, there will be extra - it's great on toast!
This is from the first version where I started and ended with sauce in the final version I reversed it and started with bechamel - in the end the only real difference it makes is aesthetic.
Let the layering begin!
Even though it starts off sloppy, but with visible layers, notice how after it is cooked it spreads out and takes up the entire dish.
The close up.
This was the first attempt where I used two kinds of cheese.
This is the final version with bechamel on top and just cheese curds (above)
And below is how the two cheese version looked coming out of the oven -
notice how it spread out.
and this final image (below) is just a close up of the cheese curd only final version, looks nicer, eh?
Mushroom & Cheese Curd Lasagna

Make the pasta dough: In a large bowl add 2 cups of all purpose flour, 2 whole large eggs and 2 egg yolks, mix with a wooden spoon or in a standing mixture with a paddle until the eggs are incorporated, adding 1-3 T of ice cold water until the dough has just come together. It should be tough, take it out of the bowl and knead it for a few minutes, shaping it into a ball and letting it sit covered for at least an hour.

Make the mushroom sauce: Clean and roughly chop 2 pounds of button, crimini or portobello mushrooms, or a mixture of all three of just one of any of them, in this instance you should for sure go for the ones that are the least expensive as the mushrooms in this recipe are all about adding texture.

Wash and chopped 1/2 pound of spinach (chard leaves, kale or arugula would work as well).

In a large heavy bottomed pot add 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup unsalted butter over medium heat, when the butter has melted
add 8-12 crushed and roughly chopped garlic cloves, cook for a minute or two, just until the garlic is translucent, but not browned, add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms have reduce by half and start to give off a little juice. Add 2 teaspoons of hot pepper flakes, 5 T fresh Rosemary finely chopped, the Spinach and two 28 ounce cans of organic crushed or diced tomatoes (of course if they are in season feel free to use fresh tomatoes - you want about 6 cups). Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remember that this is only one part of the dish, it's flavoring will be toned down by the pasta and the bechamel once layered , so it should be a little on the acidic, spicy and well salted side.

Let the sauce simmer on low heat while you make the bechamel.

In a large pot over medium heat melt 8 T of unsalted butter (I like Kate's of Maine)
add 3 roughly chopped shallots, cook for a minute or two until translucent, but not brown . Add 1/2 cup all purpose flour, whisk together and cook another few minutes then add 5 cups of whole organic milk bringing the heat up to medium high whisking constantly for about 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat, cover with a piece of parchment directly onto the top of the sauce so as to prevent a thick skin from forming.

Grate a generous 2 cups of Parmesan cheese and put aside for layering.

Preheat your oven to 400 F.

Place a 12" skillet 3/4 filled with salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. While you are waiting for this to start to boil roll out the pasta dough.

I like to use local non GMO corn meal for this, but flour works just fine. Roll the bowl of dough that has been sitting out for at least an hour into a rope about a foot long. Cut the rope in half and each half in half and then repeat so you have 8 sections, roll each one into a ball. One at a time place on a lightly floured (or corn mealed) surface, press down with your palm to form a disk and then roll out into a large thin round (mine are often not round, often they are the shape of Africa, but not to worry this is a very forgiving recipe, just get them as big and thin as you can), stack them up, sprinkling with flour between each layer so they don't stick. Continue until all 8 are done. (Conversely if you are not using a round shaped dish you can roll them out to fit whatever baking dish you are using.)

In your cazuela (or what ever container you are making this in) make a thick layer of bechamel then lightly sprinkle it with parmesan. Just remember you have to have enough bechamel for 4 layers.

One at a time place a noodle round in the boiling water for no more than 30 seconds (making sure it's totally submerged). When done transfer to a surface to cool, put another one in the water and while you are waiting for it to cook place the cooled one in the cazuela on top of the bechamel, then top with a generous layer of mushroom sauce, more cheese, then remove the next cooked noodle and repeat...finishing off with a top layer of bechamel which you cover with a generous 2 cups of cheese curds (which if you live in NYC are available at Saxelby Cheese). If you want to roughly chop the curds you can but then melt so well there really is no need.

Bake in a preheated for about 45 minutes or until the edges are bubbling and the cheese as browned. Let sit for about 10 minutes before digging in. This will taste better the day after so if you are having a big party feel free to make this the day before and under cook it by 10 minutes and just re-heat and brown when your guests arrive. Serves 8-10.

Heart whole wheat bread and a simple green salad complete the meal.




Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pizza A Casa

Opening today Pizza A Casa is a funky little store front just down the street from where I live on Grand street. Billed as a "Pizza self-sufficiency center" offering classes and selling supplies for making your own pizza it is certainly going to become an instant hit. The space is a total 1970's flashback of my mother's kitchen with a long center work space split into individual areas for pizza class. Not only is it a fun concept it takes one of our favorite take out foods and turns it around by encouraging people to rethink this favorite food and make it at home. We need to reveres the trend of being a culture that loves to watch cooking shows, but doesn't cook.

It's also great how the bleak one story strip mall that houses Pizza A Casa (that runs along Grand street east of Essex) is starting to be taken over by creative, smart, foodies (the Doughnut Plant is just a few doors down). It's so exciting to watch in the 5 years that we've lived down here how the neighborhood has changed and become such a food destination.

I would be remiss write about this particular stretch of stores on Grand street without mentioning the original food destination on this block which opened 65 years ago which is Kossars the best bialy in town.

I can't wait to sign up for my first pizza class!

A Great Reason For A Dinner Party

Arrest Yourself 2010: Hundreds of people all over the world have pledged to “arrest themselves” in solidarity with the Burmese people who, in the words of Aung San Suu Kyi, are “living in prison without bars”. And Aung San Suu Kyi knows a thing or two about prison as she has been under house arrest for 13 years. Help bring awarneess to the plight of the Burmese people, Aung San Suu Kyi and raise some much needed funds for the US campaign for Burma.

It's a great cause and gives you a reason to experiment with cooking Burmese. Sign up here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Marcus Samuleson's Red Rooster

In surfing the net this morning I came across this bit of news, Aquavit and New York celebrity chef Marcus Samuleson is opening up a restaurant in Harlem called the Red Rooster.

It represents to me a real turning point in the ever evolving scene in Harlem, so many people have been moving up there for the cheap rents, this now seems to suggest that those rents will be going up!

Here's is an excerpt from what Mr. Samuleson has to say about it in the Huffington Post:

As I prepare to open the Red Rooster in Harlem in the fall of 2010, I think a lot about how food will affect my community, a neighborhood that has been starved of the amenities that are readily available to the rest of the city. Harlem has a rich cultural history and vibrant community, and Red Rooster is my way to give back to the neighborhood that's been my home for many years.

By opening the restaurant, we want to make sure it's affordable and offers fresh foods directly from nearby farms and food crafters, without alienating the community itself. I look forward to inviting children and budding chefs into our kitchens to teach them how to prepare great foods from wholesome ingredients and how to share that knowledge with their audience. I'm looking to contribute to a new landscape of food and dining in New York City and encourage New Yorkers to head north and discover Harlem.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Go See Fresh the Movie - Quickly!


Neil and my friend Michael and I went to see Fresh last night at the Quad. It's the latest documentary to come out about how our food is made, but unlike some of the others it has a hopefully ending and is a slim 85 minutes or so long. In order for and them to get a distribution deal the need to get a good crowd at the Quad this week. Even though we have heard Michael Pollan and Joel Salatin before it's always a pleasure to spend time with them. We see more of Joel on the farm and Mr. Pollan is always such an articulate and engaging speaker. The last quarter of the movie focuses on MacArthur award winner Will Allen and the work he has been doing with urban farming, worth the price of admission just to watch him in action.

Buy tickets here:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

'Boyl a Capon with Ranioles

I've become a huge fan of the Guardian's videos they do a great job and cover food in a very unique and, to me, interesting way. This video is food historian Laura Mason and chef Allegra McEvedy working their way through a 17th century a dish called: 'boyl a capon with ranioles - which in modern day English works out to be: Chicken with Sweetbread Ravioli.

Love the kitchen they are working in and their spirit of fun, I also really appreciate that they hand roll the pasta, my preferred method for making pasta.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Last of the Larder: Brit Style Root Veg Curry




If you're anything like me you do not go through your fridge in a rigidly scheduled Martha Stewart cleaning frenzy every Saturday at 9 a.m. sharp. For me it's more like: what is that at the bottom of my crisper? Celeriac? When did I buy that?

As exciting as the arrival of spring is there is only a limited amount of things you can do with scallions and ramps so in searching through my crisper looking for inspiration (and OK yes molding things that needed to be tossed) I found:

Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes and Carrots.

I wanted to make something easy. I'd picked up some fresh Turmeric at Dual grocery store to experiment with (I'd only ever used the powdered version) along with fresh ginger and hot peppers (cayenne I believe) so I was already thinking: curry. Besides, other than Ayurvedic arthritis cures what would you do with fresh Turmeric?

Traditionally Indian curries don't have onions or garlic in them, the base for a traditional Indian curry is a mixture of hot peppers, grated ginger and spices. The onions needed to be used so I decided to make, what I like to refer to as a British curry, on the milder side using onions and garlic and then, when finished, garnished with generous dollops of yogurt or sour cream and chutney (all the Indian grocery stores in town sell a vast array of chutneys and usually a large stock of their own classic mango chutney).

Ghee is something I never buy or make as I find for my taste buds a combination of organic canola oil and butter works just fine.

This isn't so much a recipe as it is a narrative, in part because curry, well any stew, is very personal and the same set of principles apply, this is what I made because it was what I had in the house. It doesn't require a strick set of rules and amounts, there is just one rule, always taste as you go along, if you're worried about an amount add less and taste, you can always add more!

Peel and roughly chop what ever root vegetables were at the bottom of your crisper, about 3-4 pounds, potatoes, carrots, parsnips are what I used but Winter squash, turnip, celeriac (if you remember in time, unlike me!) all work. Mix together in a big bowl and put aside.

Roasted some whole spices - 1 T of cumin seeds and 2 T of coriander (black mustard seeds are good too, maybe a few teaspoons? Roast in a heavy skillet until slightly browned and aromatic, cool for a minute of so and then grind in your mortar and pestle or a spice grinder (it's worth having an extra electric coffee grinder for this very purpose).

In a large food processor toss in 2-4 peeled and quartered onions, 6-10 garlic cloves, 1 peeled piece of turmeric (about a 4" piece) and a good hunk of fresh ginger roughly chopped (2-4T) and two whole hot peppers de-stem them and if you want take out the seeds, I threw them in whole, the seeds add heat. Judge accordingly.

Process lightly , you wanted the mixture to be chopped up, but not wet and sloppy.

In a large skillet place 3 or 4 T of butter and the same amount of organic canola (or any neutral flavored vegetable oil) over medium high heat melt the butter, swirl the pan around to get the oil and melted butter mixed together then toss in all at once the contents of the food processor.

Cook over medium heat for about 10-12 minutes and the aromatics have wilted and become somewhat translucent. Don't brown.

Add the ground spice and cook for a good 5 minutes or so and toss in a cinnamon stick.

Add the root veg and add enough water to cover, cook at a simmer for an hour or so, until the sauce has thickened and the root vegetables are cook through. Season with salt and freshly grated black pepper.

You can further adjust the seasoning if you want (totally optional) with dried ground cayenne pepper, cumin powder, coriander powder, a titch of clove, nutmeg, or some garam masala and always more salt and pepper as needed.

You can also at this point stir in a handful of chopped coriander or parsley or a mixture of both.

Serve with a generous dollop of whole milk yogurt, sour cream, quark and if you have some heavy cream feel free to add it to the last two in the list to thin if you want.

Oh and lots and lots of chutney. And like all stews this will only get better as it sits in your fridge over the next couple of days.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Top 5 Franken Animals



What is the world coming to?

Some More NYC Love

This was tipped to me by my friend Matt in Vancouver...it's not so food related, just a fun time lapse day in the life of New York video with cool music and some weird affect that makes it all look like it was done on a little set...

The Sandpit from Sam O'Hare on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bacon Marmalade: The Video

Definition of unctuous from the Webster Dictionary:

Pronunciation: \ˈəŋ(k)-chə-wəs, -chəs, -shwəs\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French or Medieval Latin; Middle French unctueus, from Medieval Latin unctuosus, from Latin unctus act of anointing, from unguere to anoint
Date: 14th century

1 a : fatty, oily b : smooth and greasy in texture or appearance
2 : plastic
3 : full of unction; especially : revealing or marked by a smug, ingratiating, and false earnestness or spirituality

unc·tu·ous·ly adverb

unc·tu·ous·ness noun


Bacon Marmalade: Bacony Goodness by Mistake from SkeeterNYC on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Posh Nosh: Paella

I haven't posted a Posh Nosh episode in ages, this is a new one suggested by my friend Sheri. Too funny...

This Kid Rocks

OK yes I know it's not food related, but I felt it was a worthwhile digression....

Joel Salatin: The Revolution will be Farmed



Easter Sunday at 5 o'clock I was sitting in a lecture hall at Columbia University waiting to hear a visionary farmer talk about the future of food, actually to be more precise his talk was about the Price of good food and can we feed the world. He gave two talks which were both organized by the good folks who made the new documentary film Fresh check out their site for upcoming events, they have been very busy and wonderfully creative in mobilizing foodies here in New York to raise awareness of their film. Tomorrow is a Six Points Craft Ale and Mast Brothers chocolate tasting at Mast Brothers chocolate factory which I would love to go to!

Click here to get tickets and more information.

In addition to this tasting there are still a few farm to table dinners coming up so definitely check them out.

I've been mulling over in my head what exactly to say about Joel Salatin, who you might better know as the guy Michael Pollen wrote about in his seminal work Omnivore's Dilemma. Joel also makes an appearance in Food Inc. He owns Polyface Farms near Staunton, Virginia.

Mr Salatin is a force of nature, an incredibly smart, passionate, articulate farmer and activist who has some very insightful and scary information about how our food is grown and the phenomenal cost of our "cheap" fossil fuel based monoculture corporate agriculture.

Most likely if you are reading this here you don't need me to go on about it any more. The similarities between Wendell Berry (whose book Bringing It To The Table I'm currently reading) and Mr. Salatin are quite striking.

The essay I read just before the lecture was written in 1971 it was about the Governments war on small, local slaughterhouses, a topic Mr. Salatin also spoke about. It's interesting to me to see how this conflict has been going on for well over 40 years now and how the federal government has in those forty years done everything in it's power to destroy the lives and livelihoods of small farmers. To replace honest hard work and quality with cheap, dangerous destructive and inferior mass production. To destroy a body of knowledge about our land with knowledge about pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that are all fossil fuel based and it probably goes without saying, are killing our land.

Joel wrote a book which is for sale on his website that I am going to order it's called:

Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War stories from the local food front.

I highly recommend you go and see the movie Fresh, but I suppose more than anything I have to say to you is to go out and have a conversation about food and farming with someone who doesn't already know about the problem. It's time we all started expanding the conversation.

Here's Joel in action.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Nasty Food = School Lunches



Check out her blog:

fedupwithschoollunch.blogspot.com

Ah, Spring

Yesterday I went for a long walk in the West Village before heading uptown to Columbia to see Joel Salatin speak (more on that later) and was just reminded once again why I love this city so much. This was a Brownstone that caught my eye.

The First Greens of Spring: Scallions


Wow these seem to be very early, several vendors at today's Greenmarket had them. I'm going to make Focaccia with them, add some goat cheese, a little left over olive tapenade some fresh Thyme.

I would have thought Ramps would have been here first? Anyway I'm just so glad the season has begun!

Oh and if you haven't tried them yet, the scallion pancake recipe I posted a few weeks ago is very tasty!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Quote Of The Day

"A vegan in a Hummer has a lighter carbon footprint than a beef eater in a Prius."

Michael Pollan



Future States: Plastic Bag

This starts slow, but then quickly sucks you in and is hypnotic, oddly funny, and ultimately not funny at all and really very poignant in a strange way. Werner Herzog narrates - it's long, 18.33 minutes, but for sure worth it. And if you like it check out futurestates.tv/ a really interesting project...



Here's another episode a cautionary tale about genetically modified seeds:

Friday, April 2, 2010

Organic Sham-Pooh

Well I feel a little silly, I have been buying Avalon Organics for a long time now, but now I see they are liars who are claiming they are organic, but aren't sham on them. This video is bit long, but worth wading through.

www.naturalnews.com

Chewy Brown Sugar Molasses Ginger Cookies

As part of my week of Zen catering I had to make cookies for a tea ceremony.

I love spice cookies, but I like them chewy, I'm not a big fan of crunchy cookies, even though I know if you dunk them everything changes, I just find chewy is what I want in my cookie.

After some fiddling this is what I came up with, it's a fairly assertive cookie so if you are spice shy feel free to use less in your first batch. Also these are so addictive and keep well in a sealed container I would highly recommend doubling the recipe.

Preheat the over to 350 F.

In a bowl mix together 2 cups all purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 11/2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg.

In another bowl (I used a standing mixer for this but you can use a hand held or just a fork) cream together 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted organic butter (3/4 cup) and 1 cup of dark brown sugar. When well combined add one lightly beaten large egg and 1/4 cup molasses, stir to fully incorporate.

Slowly stir in the dry ingredients. When all mixed this produces a rather wet and sticky concoction, not to worry.

In yet another bowl measure out 1/2 cup (ish) of organic non-bleached cane sugar for rolling the cookies in.

Roll 1/2 Tablespoon amounts of the dough into the sugar and place on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Place a good 2-3 inches apart as they are very spreadable. Bake for about 15 minutes until the cookies have flattened and are just firm. My oven is maybe a little on the cool side so check in on these at the 10 minute mark to see how they are doing. I found 15 minutes was just when they started to get nice and aromatic, but hadn't yet started to brown (which you don't really want).

It's excessive but it you wanted to make these larger you could use them as a base for a dessert:

Bottom layer cookie, topped with a dollop of lemon curd, then topped with unsweetened whipped cream then garnished with a fine dice of crystallized ginger. Or if you were feeling really over the top you could squish the whole thing together with another cookie on top and make a very gooey decadent sandwich, just a thought.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fresh

This is a video clip from the documentary Fresh.

Coffee Art

A Japanese Robot Makes Coffee

There was an error in this gadget
 
Petitions by Change.org|Start a Petition