Sunday, July 31, 2011

At the Market With Audrey

My friend Audrey is in Town from LA and is staying with us.  Yesterday we went shopping at the Union Square green market to buy supplies for dinner.   Audrey has a great eye and is a wonderful photography who is really digging her Hipstamatic app on her phone.  
These totally natural un-sprayed beyond organic natural apples and pears are for eating and are very sweet.  I love the way they look and they are gown by one of my all tiem favorite farmers at the market the Grozynski Ornery Farm.

This is headless me.  At this age I think I prefer this look.
The corn this year is so amazing.

Oops here's the missing head!

Net Zero Living

This week my fantasy has been to have a stylish, very green house, by the beach where I could have a garden, growing my own fruits and vegetables which I could then can and cook with.  When I was exhausted or hung over or just needed to get away I could go for a walk along the beach.  My little Garden by the sea....  well a boy can dream can't he?

Then today I saw this video of a couple in Ann Arbor who have turned their historic home into a "net zero" energy home, which means they create more energy than they use.    For the whole story check out Grist which is for those of you who are aware of it, the best source of green news online and is a non-profit which is currently doing a fund raiser so if you like what you see you might want to consider making a donation.

Can you imagine a life where you were free of Con Ed?   Now I wonder what their garden looks like....

I made Wasabi Beans the other day from a new canning book, so far I'm not so happy.  It calls for Brwon Rice Vinegar which is expensive and hard-ish to find.  It also says that you can swap out any vinegar as long as it's the same acidity which I did, I used a combo of 3/4 white and 1/4 apple cider and tasted them today....not sure it's a winning combo.  Also the reason the scale with green bean pictures is up there is because of the three recipes from this book I have made they always call for way more produce then you need, in this instance an entire pound more of green beans then I needed.  Sure I can always find a use for green beans, but you have to wonder if they ever made these recipes?

Friday, July 29, 2011


After years of making this classic summer soup I feel like I have finally found the perfect recipe for it thanks in part to Alice Waters, whose recipe this is inspired by.  In making this the first time I used 2 large fresh garlic cloves from a head of  garlic I had just gotten from the market.  I love garlic, but in this instance I felt it was too much, so much so after eating a bowl of it for lunch a few days after I had made this batch a women in the elevator said:

I smell..what is it Onions?  


I said

It's garlic - I just ate gazpacho for lunch.

In part because this is such a seasonal dish I feel like you want to emphasize the freshness and flavor of the tomatoes so I'd start out with just one clove of garlic and if you feel the need to add more by all means puree up some with a little olive oil and mix it in at the end.


Stem and de-seed a dried Ancho pepper and let it reconstituted for about 15 minutes in a small bowl of very hot water.

Traditionally Gazpacho is made from stale old white bread, I made mine from stale Foccacia I had laying about, I dusted off the salt and Rosemary that I had garnished with it and it worked perfectly.  Most recipes want you to use some perfect white country bread, which is fine if you happen to have some laying about that is stale, but I think almost any white bread will do... I'd even say some wheat breads might work fine as well.  In the end the bread is pureed and just acts as a thickener so don't get to hung up on the kind of bread you use.

Take 2 cups of Stale Bread and soak in water for a few minutes, then ring out the water and reserve the reconstituted bread.

In a blender or food processor (works best in a blender) add 1 clove of garlic, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, the soaked Ancho Pepper and 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil and puree.  Then add the reconstituted bread and mix until well incorporated.  Remove this mixture from the blender/food processor and set aside.

Core and quarter 5 pounds of Very Ripe Tomatoes, then in batches puree them in the blender/food processor.  When all of the tomatoes have been processed add back into the processor along with the bread mixture and process until just blened.  Season with more salt, olive oil and freshly grated black pepper and maybe even a pinch of cayenne.  Pour into a container and refrigerate.  Best to make this at least 4 hours prior to serving.  As an option if you want to be daring a teaspoon of ground cumin can be a nice touch.

Clean and roughly chop 1/2 pound of Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes ( a selection of kinds and colors is best) place in a bowl along with: 2 Tablespoons of Red Wine Vinegar, 1 cup of chopped Fresh Basil1 seeded, stemmed and roughly chopped Sweet Pepper (any color but green will do) 1 seeded, peeled and chopped Cucumber, 1/2 of a Red Onion finely chopped and stir in 1/3 cup Olive Oil, season with Salt and freshly grated Black Pepper to taste. 

Pour the chilled Tomato soup into bowls and ladle in a generous spoonful of the cherry tomato mixture.  Serve with freshly fried and salted Corn Tacos (or tortilla chips in a bowl to be used as a kind of cracker).

A lovely light meal and you never have to turn the over or stove on!

Facebook and Twitter

OK so I am slowly entering the 21st century and am now on both Twitter and Facebook as Urbanfoodguy so friend me and follow me on Twitter! 

Saxelby Cheese

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

As anyone who reads this blog with any regularity will know I have been a big fan and good customer of Saxelby Cheese almost since they opened and talk about them here when ever I mention cheese!

The picture of Anne peering out from the mountain of cheese above is from the New York Times who did a wonderful article on her, Saxelby Cheese and on the winning of the Neighborhood Achievement Award as Manhattan's Small Business of the year!

You gotta read it.  I am so proud of Anne and Benoit (her business partner).  In five years they have changed the way people think about local cheese, and introduced so many of us to small unique farmstead cheese makers who without Saxelby Cheese we would never have had exposure to.

I am just a little worried that now I'll have to wait in a longer line to get my Cheese Fix! 
Something tells me her and Benoit might have to expand.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cumberland Sauce

When I first moved to Toronto I was living as a student, but loved to go out and eat.  One of my favorite Cafes (the name of which has totally escaped me) was upstairs in a little house just off Yonge Street near Alexander....for not to much money you could get Pâté with a big basket of bread that came with Cumberland Sauce.  I had never heard of Cumberland Sauce and thought it was très sophisticated.  Mostly I think I liked it because it was sweet.

Many years have passed and I haven't given Cumberland Sauce much thought.  Until recently when I was looking for something to liven up some Mushroom Pâté that I was making for a Vegan friend.

Now I have fallen in love all over again with this wonderful piquant sauce.  It's good with just about everything, Roasted Duck or Goose, nut crusted chicken breasts, Roast Pork, pan fried crucnhy pork belly nuggets and yes, even Mushroom Pâté.

There are many versions of Cumberland Sauce and lively debate as to it's origins.  Here is the recipe I made with a few options so you can tailor it to your taste. 

Walking through the market just at closing I noticed a table filled with quart baskets of red currents.  The man before me ask for 2 quarts and the farmer made him a deal of 2 for 10 (normally I think they were 7 per quart) so I said I'd take the same if he'd give me the same deal, which indeed he did.  I came home and made my own jelly which I used for the Cumberland Sauce, but fine jarred jelly will do just fine.

Cumberland Sauce
In a medium saucepan add 1 cup of red current jelly and over medium heat melt it, when it has become quite liquid stir in 1 Tablespoon of finely chopped shallot 1 Tablespoon of finely chopped Lemon and Orange zest, and  2 Teaspoons of finely grated fresh Ginger, stir to incorporate and cook for a minute then add: 1/2 cup Port (Tawny or Ruby makes no matter) either 1 Teaspoon Mustard powder or 2 Teaspoons Dijon, 2 Tablespoon freshly Squeezed Orange Juice and 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice (use the juice from the lemon and orange you got the peel from) stir over low heat for about 10 minutes.

Season with a pinch of sea salt and a pinch of cayenne.

Truly addictive.  The ginger, cayenne and the mustard are all extra according to some purists so if you think this Cumberland is to tarted up make it without these ingredients first and if you want more spice you can always add them at the end!

We were to busy eating these nut crusted chicken breast slathered in Cumberland Sauce to take a nice beauty shot of  sauce artfully dribbled over a perfectly cut piece of tender white breast, but something tells me you get the idea.

Big Chicken: Pollution and Industrial Poultry Production in America

Fascinating article and interactive map and videos about commercial chicken factories on the Pew Environmental Group's site.

I am sure if you are reading this blog you already know all about the horrors of factory meat, but what this chart really points out to me, again, is how the only way to bring up farm animals successfully is in a closed loop agricultural system, which is to say by raising them on a farm.  When animals are raised as part of an ecosystem the waste issue goes away, the chicken droppings become fertilizer for the grass the cows are eating and pooping in which then the chicken go to three days later (I'm paraphrasing Joel Salatin here) and pick apart, spreading the cow patties while looking for maggots to eat.  A complete, whole system that big AG spends millions (if not billions) of dollars on every year to convince you and I isn't viable, when in reality it is the only viable, not harmful, not polluting, sustainable system there is. 

Certainly after you check out the above recommended site you will agree that factory farming has nothing to offer other then high profits for big Agricultural Corporations.

Remember: Eating is an Agricultural Act.

Food Fight

This is from Lapham's Quarterly, funny and informative.

Eat Food : Get Supplemented

Double click to this chart to enlarge it or go here.  It's no surprise to me that most of the supplements on sale are not just a bunch of crap.  What is interesting to me is how many of the ones that have hard core evidence that they work are food related:  Licorice root, green tea, probiotics (yogurt), fish oil, cranberry juice, etc....sure these pills have far higher concentrate of what ever in them, but it does, once again make you realize how much we are what we eat and how therapeutic eating the right diet can be. 

Personally I'd much rather have a nice plate of food to a handful of pills.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


This is the best Summer Drink Ever!

I've been meaning to write about Amor y Amargo since I went there with my friend David over a month ago.  It's no longer a secret, so go early to this little whole in the wall bar and have an Americano (pictured above)!   This classic, thirst quenching, elixir is made from house made Vermouth and Capari which is then put in a keg and dispensed on tap like beer which makes this sweet, bitter cocktail wonderfully frizzante.  At $12 a go  I bet you can't have just one!

Also check out the site for Amor y Amargo to see about their mixology classes and the extensive selection of Bitterman's Bitter that are for sale, along with a lot of essential hardware for anyone interested in making cocktails at home.

Bitters have come along way since Angostura, the selection here is mind boggling, all the bitters are for sale.   Bittermans is part owner in the bar which it is using to highlight all things bitter (my mother should go here) and take great pride in talking to everyone who stops by for a drink to educate them about cocktails, bitters, or any other booze related conundrum you might have.  I don't think I have ever been to a bar where the barmen have been so informed and so willing to engage in serious conversation about all things mixology related.

I really want to be able to always go and have a place at the bar to sit, but I would not be doing my duty if I didn't tell you make it a priority while the weather is still sweltering to get your butt down to Amor y Amargo for an Americano! 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pickled Garlic

Here's some pictures of my first canning of the year, I'm off to the kitchen now to start my Wasabi Beans.  I made all this pickled garlic that are filled with herbs, hot peppers and spices.  A friend asked me what I was going to do with them? 
The recipe says they use it all Winter just as they would fresh garlic - a way of keeping local garlic around all season and never having to resort to buying to unnaturally white kind they sell at super markets.  These pickled garlic are especially good in salad dressings, so say the authors of the canning book I used.  I was thinking they'd me great in cocktails, as an accompaniment to cheese or charcuterie or just as part of a more extensive pickle platter as something new.
If you have ever made pickled garlic and have a favorite use for it please write a comment and share!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pimento Cheese Spread, And So Much More!

My friend and Urbanfoodguy reader Chris Bryant is the go to food guy on the blog at Lark Crafts.  His posts are not only beautiful (he does the styling as well as the cooking) they make me hungry.

Here is the ingredient/process shot for yummy Pimento Cheese Spread.
Although I have to admit I have a kind of phobia about really orange cheddar so I just use sharp white cheddar.   My mother admonished me a while back over lunch when he grilled cheese came to the table and was made with white cheddar, she prefers orange cheddar and when I said I preferred the white version she snapped:

"Orange cheese has more flavor! each their own.  

There are lots of wonderful post, I was particularly envious that Chris can make lacto-fermented Barrel Pickles in his basement.  No matter how big your apartment kitchen is it just can't compete with a house.
My favorite post I think (it's hard to pick just one favorite) is his Momofuku Inspired Japanese Hot Bath Eggs.  Just typing it makes me want to run to the East Village and have a bowl of Ramen!

(Oh and did you see that David Chang is now doing a quarterly magazine called Lucky Peach? (Which is what Momofuku means in Japanese I believe).  I saw it in two stores today, apparently it went to print in late June.  So I'm not too horribly behind, although maybe I am on the publishers site it says they are already on issue 2?  The Chang empire is just to big and ever expanding for me to keep track of!)

Now back to my blog post:

If you are interested in: Pickling, Canning, Cooking, Crafting and any other DIY thing you can think of (like making cheese and raising chickens) it's all covered on the Lark Craft's site - it's a great resource and an inspirational (not to mention helpful read.

Kind of like Martha Steward Living only more accessible.

Stand Up For Local Farmers

Today the USDA and Big Ag are conspiring to implement a set of rules that favor giant industrial growers while placing small, diversified farms at risk.

Check out Food Democracy Now has to say about this and please take a minute to sign their petition!

San Francisco Envy

The last couple of years I've been very lucky t be able to go out to SF and spend a week eating and exploring, I was hoping to do it again this Summer, but it looks like I was being overly optimistic.  So when I viewed this weeks installment of the Perennial Plate I felt at least like I could live vicariously, even though I would really much rather there in person!  

The food culture and climate in the Bay area are so spectacular I feel for the first time in my life like I could actually leave New York and move to SF.  Then I think about all the people who used to live in New York who moved to SF and after a few years moved back....still it's an adventure that I wouldn't mind trying....

The Perennial Plate Episode 63: Three Farms, One Dinner from Daniel Klein on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Peach Sorbet: Easy as 1 2 3

Peach season is in full swing but who in their right mind wants to cook in this heat?  Here is the perfect solution instead of making a pie or crumble make a sorbet.  Easy, delicious and for those of you who don't eat dairy this tasty treat is 100 percent Vegan.

If you are anything like me you're the kind of person who gets so excite at the market that you buy things that you have great plans for (I'm going to make Peach Pickles, Sour cherry & Peach Crumble, Peach Preserves, Ginger Peach Upside Down Cake and freeze the rest!) then when you finally get home from the market sweating and exhausted all you are ready for is a glass of wine and a nap. 
So you stuff all the peaches in the fridge and vow to deal with them later.  Mmmmmmm well later can be hours or weeks away.  So for those peaches that have been waiting too long to be eaten or cooked this recipe is perfect. 

Peach Sorbet

You need about 2 pounds of peaches skinned and pitted so that means before processing you should have 2 1/2 pounds to be on the safe side.  Especially if you are using bruised and otherwise neglected peaches as you will inevitably end up cutting chunks off to be discarded and will end up netting less then you might think.

Skin all the peaches, you can do this two ways.  The most common is dipping them in boiling water for a minute then plunging them into an ice water bath the other and maybe easier way is to use a serrated vegetable peeler.  This later method works best on firmer more perfect peaches so for this recipe I did the water bath.  Up to you.

After you have skinned your peaches remove and reserve the pits.  Be careful to do all your work over a bowl and keep every drop of peach juice,  roughly chop the peaches up and with their juice put them in a medium sized heavy bottomed stainless steel pot.  You should have approximately 2 pounds of peaches and juice. 

You can see in the picture below that I have a little cloth bag which I put about 6 of the peach pits in.  I put them in the bag and then smashed them with a hammer, just to split them up not to pulvorize them, and added them to the Peaches in the pot. You could also just wrap them in cheesecloth.  Or you can omit this step altogether.  It is suppose to infuse the peach juice with a slight almond flavor.  I'm not sure I can tell, but I like the idea of it so I do it.

Simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes, giving a stir every so often.
After the 10 minutes remove the pits and add 3/4 cup of can sugar.  Stir over heat for another two or so minutes until the sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat, take out the pits and stir in juice from half a lemon and 1 Tablespoon of Kirsch or Vodka or Almond Extract.

Place the mixture into a blender or food processor and puree.  My peaches where very juicy and soft if for some reason you over cook them or you use firm peaches you may need to had some water at this point, but only if the mixture is too think and not processing to your liking.

Remove the mixture from the food processor/blender and cool.  I placed it in an ice bath then when it had cooled to room temp placed it in the fridge for about 4 hours.  You can cheat and place it in the freezer for about 20 minutes to get it cold just don't forget about it!
Place in your ice cream make and  process accordingly. Great served with Ginger Shortbread
(the link has gooseberries on the short bread you can make it without or swap out fresh peaches for the gooseberries!)

Vodka With It's Own Marquee

So I was at Astor Wines stalking up on Gamay the other day when I noticed this table with a bunch of bottles on it that had moving LED lights on them?  Was I having an acid flash back? So I go over tot he table to see what was going on, the women behind the counter was busy pushing buttons on the bottle of Medea Vodka which have built in LED screens on the front of each bottle. 

 OK There!

Then she shows the couple standing next to me the bottle that she has just programed to say:  

Happy Birthday Joe-Anne.

Before handing over the bottle she made sure to give them instructions to make sure they didn't push any buttons on the bottle other than off and on.   

OK so yeah it's a gimmick, but it's kind of wonderful.  The Medea Vodka is from Holland, it costs around $35 (so it's not going to break the bank) and it makes a fun present, as along as you can figure out how to type out the message you want you can have the bottle say anything you want. 

The perfect Happy Gay Marriage gift! Or whatever...instructions on how to program your bottle of Vodka can be found on the Medea's website.

Or watch here:

How to Program a Message on Your MEDEA Bottle from Medea Spirits on Vimeo.

Shepard Fairey All Over Town

I have seen three new Shepard Fairey art works downtown, this one is at Bowery and Rivington.  I like them, but they have become so decorative it's almost like street art wallpaper?

The Brooklyn Local: City Harvest Benefit

City Harvest is an incredibly important food rescue organization that collects a lot of it's food from restaurants, taking food that would have been wasted, but with the help of City Harvest this food is used to help feed 300,000 people each week. 

In September City Harvest is throwing a benefit called The Brooklyn Local (all the details are listed below) a day long orgy of food shopping and eating that is not to be missed.  By your tickets before labor Day and save!

About The Brooklyn Local

On Saturday, September 17th City Harvest will celebrate the best of Brooklyn’s culinary world at The Brooklyn Local, a not-to-be-missed shopping experience for true urban foodies. Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy:
Artisanal Market with over 75 vendor booths (click here to see a current list of vendors)
11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Tasting Tent with private seating, featuring 15 of Brooklyn’s best restaurants, hosted by Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli of Frankies Spuntino and Prime Meats (click here to see a current list of restaurants)
12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Interactive Kids Zone featuring cooking demonstrations and children’s activities
Celebrity Chef Book Signings (check back soon for a list of chefs and times!)
Gift bags for sale, filled with a selection of quality products from the market

Ticket Information

Click Here to Make a Contribution
Click Here to Purchase Market Entrance Ticket:      Individual Tickets: $5
      Family Package: $20 (includes entrance to the market for 2 adults and up to 4 children.)
      Please note children under 5 are free
Click Here to Purchase All-Access Tickets (includes entrance to the market and admission to the Tasting Tent):
Limited number of All-Access Tickets
      Individuals: $60**
      Children 5-12: $20
**price will increase to $75/person after Labor Day

Crazy with Canning

 I feel so guilty for not blogging for two days in a row!  We have been very busy with house guests but more to the point canning!  In the last 2 days I have made my own red current jelly which I then used to make Cumberland Sauce which went with the faux veggie pate I made tonight.

So far I've canned pickled garlic with lemon and curried cauliflower and am prepping for Wasabi green bean pickles tomorrow! 
 Here's the menu...I will be back in full force tomorrow with recipes and more!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Flavor by P&H Soda Co.

Neil and I are big fans of home made seltzer water and have owned at Soda Stream seltzer maker for years.  We're not big on soda; coke, root beer, cream soda not really our thing.

For a while I was making pro biotic soda, but now if I want a high quality locally made syrup to add bubbles to I can buy some of P&H Soda's syrups! 

I noticed them today when I was shopping for canning supplies at The Brooklyn Kitchen a big bottle of syrup was 29 and change, but would last for a very long time.  If Brooklyn isn't convenient for you Whole Foods is also selling them.  I want to try Ginger and also Hibiscus!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Franklin Inc.

Apparently more people are going to Crest Hardware to see Franklin the pig then they are to buy Hardware or Garden supplies.  Personally I go for both reasons, but since I was last there Franklin has apparently gone from cute big that at the hardware store to super star pig with lots of fancy signs letting you know if he has come into work today and how to find his house at the back of the store and outside into the far reaches of the garden center.  I can't wait for the autographed t-shirts.

You should for sure hurry up and get over to visit Franklin as I'm think his Winter hours will be much more limited, but mostly because right now at Crest Hardware they are having a store wide hardware themed Art Show that is not to be missed!

Yet More Yarning

this time in Williamsburg...

What Are We Doing Here?

One of the 4 young men who made this documentary is Daniel Klein, you might recognize him from the many Perennial Plate videos I have posted here over the last year.   This is a project he, his brothers and a cousin did looking at the effectiveness and ramifications of international aid in African.

Food Aid is a significant way the west gives to Africa.  With the Gates foundation who are in now working h and in hand with Monsanto, you see in this film, how so much of our food aid specifically although not exclusively has nothing to do then helping the poor people of African but rather helping the rich corporations of America, like for example by giving aid that then helps to expand Monsanto's market.

Those are my examples neither are mentioned in the film although one of the most disturbing sections of the movie for me is of the christian food aid which comes with a healthy does of: we'll give you food as along as you'll accept Jesus!  Up with Jesus down with Satan! 
God forbid help should just be given with out a caveat.

What Are We Doing Here takes a very broad look at the situation in Africa and how in so many instances international aid makes things worse, it's well worth a watch and very much about food.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yeah I know I made the risotto again, but it's soooo good as was the ice cream, which was basically a vanilla ice cream with a ton of chocolate truffles stirred in.  I made the amount of truffles in the recipes, about 35 1/2 teaspoon truffles and I thought: These are never going to fit into this small batch of ice cream.  Surprisingly they did!  And boy oh boy what a recipe!  The sour cherry sauce put everything together and I have been inhaling the left overs every time I open the fridge.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Really Local Produce: Grown in Greenpoint Brooklyn

....and for sale at Whole Foods.  Check out the entire selection at their site Gotham Greens.

So cool!

People's Pops Comes to the East Village

The artisanal, seasonal, market based Popsicle and Shaved Ice Makers People's Pops have opened a shack on the super hot food street of the East Village: 7th street.  They are on the north side of the street just east of First avenue.  The 2 blocks of 7th between Avenue a and 2nd Avenue has so much good eating you could spend an entire day just grazing your way up and down.  It certainly is a great street for cool summer treats, Big Gay Ice Cream and Van Leeuwens are both just a short walk away!
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