Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hey Come Visit the New Site

Hey there just wanted to say that if you haven't already you should come vist me at my new site:

Also if you "follow" here be sure to sign up on the new site. it's much easier and you can even be sent an email every time there is a new post.

Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Change Comes to Urbanfoodguy

I'm very excited to announce that Urbanfoodguy has a new home:

The new site is way more interactive so you can share posts, "like" us on Facebook, re-Tweet or if you want you can now even "follow Urbanfoodguy" and get an email every time a new post has been published. So please come explore. 

UFG (Urbanfoodguy) has come a long way over these past three plus years and I can't thank you enough for joining me on this journey and for continuing to take part by eating, sharing, cooking and thinking about the politics of food in ways that go way beyond what do I cook? 

Please check out the new site and let me know what you think.  

It's still a work in progress, but I hope you will find it more interactive, easier to navigate, better looking and tons more fun! 

See you there!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Coconut Pineapple Macaroons

David Lebovitz published this recipe on his most excellent blog and I just had to try them! I made two batches, one with sweetened coconut (becasue it was all I had in the house) and they were fine, I thought they'd bee too sweet but actually they were great and then I made them with unsweetened (like the recipe calls for), which I think is better...but both work. I topped mine off with some melted chocolate just to guild the lily - YUM! Easy to make and perfect for Passover

Also he makes a super easy version using canned pineapple both times I used fresh, I find it no problem to peel and chop a small pineapple, but it's up to you, they both will taste great.

Here is David Lebovitz's recipe with my editorial comments and a few suggestions.

Coconut Pineapple Macaroons

One 20 ounce (about 600 g) can crushed unsweetened pineapple (or 1 small fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped fine - you want about 1 1/4 cups after it's be cooked down. Also I like these cookies with small chunks if fruit where as in his recipe he calls for more of a paste - your choice - try both! If you buy a can of pineapple rings you can then chop according to your liking.)

1 cup (200 g) sugar

pinch of salt

3 1/2 cups (245 g) dried unsweetened shredded coconut

3 large egg whites

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Put the pineapple in a wide skillet of a heavy bottomed stainless steel pot with the sugar and a pinch of salt.

2. Cook the pineapple until the liquid is evaporated, then continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the pineapple gets thick and sticky, and just begins to brown. Remove from heat and scrape the caramelized pineapple into a large bowl. Then mix in the coconut into the pineapple, then the egg whites and vanilla.

(The mixture may be rather difficult to mix with a spatula. You can mix it with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or use your clean hands.)

3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

4. Use your hands to gather a bit of the batter (a tablespoon worked well for me - UFG), about the size of an unshelled walnut, and form it into a round or a pyramid-like shape, onto the prepared baking sheet. Continue forming all the cookies then bake them for about 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet midway during baking. The cookies are done when they are nicely browned up the sides.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cumin My Cocktail

After several failed attempts I finally found myself sitting at the bar at The Wayland  
(700 east 9th and Avenue C).  This corner spot has had several incarnation since I started to hang out on Avenue C but this is the first one that really seems like it's going to stick.  Besides it's Williamsburgesque ye old tavern aesthetic which very cozy and welcoming it has an exceedingly well curated menu that changes regularly and is most geared toward bar snacks but certainly you can easily make a meal of what is on offer.  I did and boy was I glad I did. The sandwich I had was oozing with rosemary mayo and chalk full of double smoked pork belly.  It was hard to make a decision as the pulled chicken sandwich and the sausage bread both called to me.

The barman was very friendly and efficient - I ordered the naughtily named Cumin my Cocktail which is a clever take on a whiskey Sour with yes, cumin in it.  Yum.  Be careful these things go very easily.
I had one and switched to beer. Although their thing is cocktails they had a nice selection of beer and soem wine too!

My view:
 The bar:
 The barman hard at work:
The Wayland has gotten a lot of press and from my experience all I can tell you is it for good reason.  they open at 7 and I suggest getting there early!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hot Dog Stuffed Crust Pizza

Tipped from Joe My God.

Who thinks this shit up?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Secret Life of Garbage

Monday, Really.

This Spring certainly has been all about renewal for me.  In addition to the new Urbanfoodguy site I have been busy at home, cleaning, organizing and painting.  I'm not a big fan of painting, but I sure do love how much better everything looks after all drop  cloths and dirty brushes are finally put away and you can sit in a newly colorful room admiring your work (or noticing yet another touch up you had missed).

Anyway the same can be said (hopefully) for the new site.  It's has been easy, but I'm certain it is all going to be worth it!  Monday we go live.  Come Hell or High water!  I hope you'll join me and become a follower if you aren't already and take part in all the fun and functionality the new site will offer.

See you there!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mile End Comes to Manhattan

The Brooklyn based Montreal style Deli/Restaurant Mile End  is opening up a Manhattan branch just off the Bowery at 53 Bond street. Very fancy.  From the look of it they are hoping to sell a lot of sandwiches.  With delicious house made corn beef and Montreal style bagels I see great success for this new edition to the lastest Mile End. Can't wait!
P.S  for those of you who care about such things, Miles End even though it makes the food typical of Jewish Deli's is not kosher.

Spring Comes to the Market

Makes you want to go out and plant things!

Roots and Vines Closes

Last Friday I noticed that the local coffee shop/wine bar was closed.  It looked like they were stock taking or doing a big clean I didn't think anything of it. Then on Monday when they were still closed and I saw some people lingering outside I asked what was up.  Turns out that indeed Roots and Vines has closed the, fall out, so I'm told from the people on the street (literally) of a divorce settlement. 

As sad as it is to see a long time regular place shutter up its doors it is equally exciting to ponder what might come next?  If they are able to sell their wine/beer license with the space my fingers are crossed for a local cafe with well sourced food a destination place that also gives us locals another option for eating out close by.  Of course given the trend it could very well be an art gallery.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Lemon Basil Risotto and Asparagus

You could if you wanted to add the Asparagus to the Risotto, but I like it on the side as a refreshing counter to the creamy Risotto. Simple fried Perch would make for a lovely dinner party, but certainly not necessary.

This is a very simple dish tart with lemon and redolent of basil.  I have freely adapted this from Rose Grey

Lemon Basil Risotto

In a medium size heavy bottomed sauce pan melt 2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter, add 1/2 of a roughly chopped Red Onion and 1 celery stock.  Saute until translucent and soft (about 8 minutes) then add 1 finely chopped Garlic Clove and a handful of Celery Leaves. Stir to incorporate and then add 3/4 cup risotto rice.  To this mixture add 1/3 cup of dry Vermouth, which will bubble up and quickly become absorbed.  Slowly a ladleful at a time add 2 cups of Vegetable stock.

Stirring constantly not adding the next ladleful of stock until the previous one has been absorbed.  This should take about 15-20 minutes.  When the rice is soft but not mushy add the grated Rind and Juice of 1 Lemon, 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan and 2 1/2 Tablespoons of Marscapone Cheese. Stir until well incorporated then add 3 generous tablespoons of finely chopped fresh Basil.

I like to add up to as much as another 1/3 cup of parmesan to this you can either add this to taste before serving or serve it on the side.  Garnish with more Basil.

Fire Starter

Back to basics.  Love how he starts the fire and dinner is just whats in the stream, my oh my how far we have come.  


Friday, April 6, 2012

Houston We Have A Problem

So today was suppose to be the day that the new Urbanfoodguy site went live...but due to a number of issues that isn't going to happen.....sorry, it's all very frustrating, great headway has been made but it is way more work and way more difficult than I could have imagined.  My hope is sometime next week I will keep you up to date and in the mean time will still be bogging here.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Kitchen of the Future

Scary stuff: in the future food will just appear, after you and the computer have selected what you want. The microwave oven will heat or cook what computer has sent it in "seconds" - this clip was made in 1967:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

GMO Free!

This is the first time I have ever seen an advertisement for a a food product that so clearly stated it was not a GMO.  I love Lundberg rice and have bought it for years and admire their commitment to transparency and labeling even while the FDA sits on it's adds about actually making it required for all food to be properly labeled.

How Doing Laundry Puts Plastic in your Fish n' Chips

A new study has found that water, especially those near large cities is filled with plastic microparticles, but not from the sources you might think of like plastic soda bottles, no it comes from doing your laundry.  Apparently all the non-natural clothing we wear (so all synthetic clothes) leave behind in the water as much as 1900 fibers that get washed into the sea.

Between over fishing, oil spills, pollution, acidification and everything else we have done to the water on this planet the poor fish can't seem to catch a break.  It is a cautionary tale though because eating fish has always be thought of as a "healthier" protein option, but now it looks like we need to take into consideration all the information we have about the bounty of the sea and reconsider how we eat.  Al Jeezera reports:

Billboard of the Day

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The End of Maple Syrup

Grist wrote an article recently about the Maple syrup-pocalypse that is upon us.  Turns out maple syrup is having a bad year thanks to super warm winter  (or non winter) we had here on the East Coast. Climate change (that silly made up liberal idea) is interfering with our Maple syrup production -  in order for the sap to run we need to have a cold winter.

Gawker suggests we start stockpiling.  I think that's a good idea.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Big News

So after many trials and tribulations I am very excited (and nervous) to announce to you the launch of the new Urbanfoodguy site.  A new look, more functionality and a world of possibilities!

All will be revealed here on Friday April 5th

Until then I will try to keep up with my daily posting here.

Invasive Lunch

Years ago, at a French bistro in Toronto, I ate alligator and really liked it.

This weeks installment of the Perennial Plate is about killing invasive non-native iguanas in Florida.  It's a surprising video because at first you think it's going to be about how this thuggish guy, who has some form of arrested development and is still a 14 year old boy gets off on shooting frogs at the pond with his bebe gun, has grown up and is now doing the same thing for a living only with Iguanas.  Not so.  He's actually a compassionate, intelligent guy doing a nasty job that needs to be done in order to help bring back native species.  The fact that the Iguanas end up being so tasty is just a bonus....Iguana Burgers anyone?


Saturday, March 31, 2012

New in the 'Hood

It's hard to keep track of all the food related places opening up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  Here are just a few of my favorites:

A media favorite and for good reason is Pok Pok a tiny hole in the wall Thai place at 137 Rivington street with James Beard award winning Chef Andy Richer at the stove.  Pok Pok has a limited menu that specializes in the most amazing chicken wing variations.  Awesome!

Thai Posters hang everywhere giving this place a Bangkok feel it actually reminds me of a place I used to love to go to in Bangkok that was an art student hang out where you could get lunch for 2 bucks.   Dinner at Pok Pok is a little more expensive then that, though still very reasonable.

The food has a decided Issan (Northeast Thailand) feel and I found the non chicken wing items were not as strong.   I had a pork dish one night with sticky rice and Som Tam that I felt was a little tame and sweet, but now I know the folks here are very game to spice things up "Thai Style" if you ask and you should ask!

This isn't the best picture of Christian Vautier: Le Concept, (the Times took a better one) the inside is bright, simple and airy with a long banquette for sitting and at the back a wonderful selection of home made truffles and confections to eat in our take away.  I've sampled three different truffles: Praline, Salted Caramel Kiss and Passion Fruit all exquisite.   They are also serving Dallis Brothers coffee.

This part of Broome street between Ludlow and Orchard is so hot it's crazy.  If it's not a new gallery, store or food place opening up it's pack with film crews.  Just down the street from Le Concept is Home Espresso Bar which is wonderful if simply because it is so,well....homey.  In this landscape of super hip and trendy places it's nice to have something local and easy, where you don't have to dress up to go get a quick latte. 
Finally the new (but not new) Doughnut Plant has opened and boy is it fancy!  They did a great job and even though it was instantly packed it is a great improvement from the original space next store.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pink Slime and Jon Stewart

Info Graphic Kind of Day

So in my ongoing struggle to learn how to use WordPress and get my new site up and running I find myself having a lot of anxiety and frustration.  Instead of leading me to the kitchen to cook my frustration out at how stupid I am when it comes to web site code and back end navigation (back end is not a lewd reference it is the techie term for the behind the scenes place where all the blog and web site magic happens) is leading me to the wine store.  Which of course doesn't exactly make for a clear headed me - thankfully as of yesterday I have given up attempting another 4 hour marathon where I try to teach myself WordPress code and back end magic and am having my friend, Yoga teacher and Techie genus Eli come over and help me out.  Still it's taking a lot longer then I would have imagined.  It's kind of like apartment renovating in NYC....but I digress.

One of the things I have been doing while trying to not explode with frustration and anger at how difficult it is to put up a simple site on WordPress is look at other food blogs and read endless amounts of food "news".  Today the thing that caught my eye where two graphics (I think it's a trend) explain how tuns gets from the sea to your plate and just exactly what kind of people buy solar panels (short answer: cheap ones who like to use a lot of electricity!)

I have given the links for both of these just in case when you click on them they don't get big enough for ya or because I want more info then the graphic gives.

One of the things that I notice about food blogs is they are always just about food.  Which may sound like a stupid thing to say, but I always have felt that how we eat and what we eat is part of a larger story and it seems to give short shrift to the big picture if all you do is write about Brownie recipes.  Maybe if you are reading this you feel the same way, maybe not.  I'd love to hear what you think...and now I'm going to go to The Brooklyn Kitchen and distract myself with some good old consumer kitchen therapy!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Two Shelf Solution

The Daily Show did this very funny take down of the Park Slope Food Co-Op last night.  There is a conflict at the Co-op over whether or not to carry Israeli foods because buying food from Israeli is at the expense of Palestinian human rights.

My feeling is that the individual, not the collective, should make up their minds as to what they want to buy or not.  It will be interesting to see what the Co-op's final decision is....

This just in: Last night the Co-op voted down the idea of an Israeli food boycott 1005 against to 653 for.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Really,it is...

So I promised last week that "change is coming" to this here blog, and indeed it is, I just didn't realize it would take so long and be so, er....challenging.  In the interim I had to deal with a Chinese hacker from Taiwan who commented on 4 posts from 2009 saying in English: "Great Post" then in Mandarin a long list of links to porn site.  It was at this point that Google wrote me and said, um, dude we are so closing down your site if you don't remove all the offensive initial thought was: It's a food blog! Is this a Monsanto backed attack to destroy me?  No indeed it was just some Taiwanese pornographer posting links covertly on my site.

Tonight I was looking for a Lemon Pudding Cake that I have a memory of that is like Chocolate pudding cake, instead I just kept finding version of the popular souffle type lemon dessert that is all about a runny, fluffy egg white mixture that is cooking in the oven in a hot water bath and comes out all light and fluffy.  In my mind I wanted a dense cake with a lemon pudding at the bottom, but was unable to find a recipe so if you know of one please let me know otherwise I'll have to start experimenting and see if I can't figure it out on my own.

All this to say that my hands have been full lately. Mostly because creating a new site is a lot more work then I could have imagined.  Not being 20 and a computer whiz first off puts me at a disadvantage, the learning curve is not insignificant.

Anyway be patient and hopefully in the next couple of weeks things will be back to normal and looking much better.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lupe Gonzalo

Very  moving installment from the Perennial Plate folks this week, a must watch.  This weeks video explores the lives of the people (immigrants) who pick our tomatoes (and I'm guessing other fruit and vegetables as well).


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Backyard Hens Part 2


Friday, March 23, 2012

Death by Lemon

Death by chocolate is one of those catch phrases that are given to over the top chocolate desserts. Why I wonder is there no Lemon equivalent?  I love lemon desserts yet the options when you do research on them seems to be fairly slim, lemon curd, lemon poppy seed cake, lemon meringue pie....oh and steamed lemon pudding.  It's a good list of wonderful desserts, but I wanted a lemon cake for an occasion that had a little flourish, some more than a tea cake like lemon poppy seed.   

What I came up with is a Bundt cake make with cake flour for lightness, lots of lemon rind and juice for an intense flavor and thick rich full fat greek yogurt for a sour/moist one two punch.

After the cake is baked it's soaked in a lemon syrup, and I serve it with a large dollop of lemon curd and unsweetened whipped cream.  There you have it folks: Death by lemon, and what a way to go!

Lemon Bundt Cake

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

With  room temperature butter generously butter and flour a 16 cup bunt pan.

Sift together in a medium 3 cups Cake Flour, 1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda and 1/2 teaspoon of Salt.

In the bowl of a standing mixer added 1 cup of room temperature Unsalted Butter. Beat with the paddle attachment at medium speed for 1-2 minutes until fluffy, then add in a slow stream 3 cups of Cane Sugar.   Continue beating for 4-6 minutes.

While this is mixing  add 2 tablespoons of  grated Lemon Peel (about 4 lemons) into a small bowl with 1/3 cup of Lemon Juice.

One at a time add 6 large room temperature Eggs, add the next egg when the previous one has been well incorporated.

Add the peel and lemon juice.

Turn off the mixer and with a wooden spoon or spatula add the dry ingredients all at once. Mixing just enough to incorporate, then fold in 1 cup full fat Greek Yogurt.  Pour into the prepared pan and place on a wrack in the top third of the oven.

Bake for an 1 and 15 minutes.   At this point check for doneness by inserting a cake tester (knife, skewer what ever you have) into the middle of the cake - it should come out clean.  It may take longer but keep testing every 5 minutes after this point as you don't want to over bake it. 

When done remove the cake from the oven and cool on a wrack for 10-15 minutes.

While cooling make the glaze.  In a small sauce pan add 1 cup of Cane Sugar and 1/2 cup of Lemon Juice bring just to a simmer and cook, stirring until the sugar is dissolved then take immediately off the heat.
When the cake has cool, using a pastry brush spread some of the glaze over the stop of the cake.

Before I invert the cake is see if the sides pull away from the pan easily, by gently pushing the cake inwards toward the center, if I get any resistance I use a butter knife or small spatula to help loosen it.  Place the wrack on top of the cake and quickly invert it.  You may need to gently knock it on the counter to free the cake from it's pan.

Place the cake and wrack on a cookie sheet and diligently paint the cake with the glaze.  It may seem like a lot but don't worry this cake will absorb every last drop.
Or almost, I even took lapped up the drippings from the cookie sheet and spread them over the cake.

To make the lemon curd in a medium bowl add: 4 large Eggs to 2 cups of Sugar  and stir in 1 scant cup of Lemon Juice then add 1 cup of roughly chopped Unsalted Butter place the bowl over simmering water and with a wooden spoon stir constantly until the curd has thickened (it will coat the spoon) about 7-10 minutes.

Place a fine sieve in a bowl and pour the curd through it.  Set aside to cool at room temperature before you chill it in the refrigerator in a covered container.

To serve cut a small slice of the cake on a plate,add a dollop of lemon curd and finish with a smaller dollop of whipped cream.

If you want to make you cake even more pretty you can candy finely sliced lemon and ring the top of the cake with them.

Of course I made this cake at home, but we ate it at my friends Patrick's place for his birthday and by that point I totally forgot to take pictures of the final product.  Ah well, guess I'll just have to make it again.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Makin' Bacon

Couple of things about this clip.  I think it's funny it makes Bacon with Kosher salt (just saying) also he brings up the controversy of adding nitrates to bacon but doesn't discuss it and I wish he would have.  I have a 19th century British cookbook that has a recipe for making bacon, it's a very involved process more a cured bacon then a smoked one.  Also when did the sugar get added?  Or did it?  I love Maple bacon.  Or dipping bacon in maple syrup when you are eating it with pancakes.  Mmmmmmm

Anyway I love watching Kevin TV and fantasizing about what it would be like to have a wood burning stove in my backyard.    I mean, first I'd have to get a backyard....

Lastly I have been super busy with several big projects which has made my blogging less robust then I would like it to be, but not to worry, by early next week I should be back to full throttle and with a big surprise.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How Many Calories are in Your Movie Theater Popcorn?

How many?

The current administration in Washington along with the Movie theater owners think that posting calories for movie snacks is un-necessary.  If you disagree send a letter letting them know that knowledge is the best way to make smart food decisions.

Change is Coming

Over the next week - and it may take longer, as these things often do - the address for this blog will be changing.  Don't worry it will still be called Urbanfoodguy, but it will be changed to a different server and become

There will be a new look and as the weeks (months) pass a bigger, better, easier to search site will evolve.

Fingers crossed.

Now back to our regular programing.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Multigrain Seed n' Nut Bread

High fiber bread is defined as any bread that has 5 grams of fiber or higher.  It's important to check this when you buy bread at the grocery store because so many of them claim to be high fiber but aren't. 5 in this  instance is the lucky number, a bread with 5 grams of fiber allows you to the deduct the fiber from the total Carbohydrate count of the bread so for example if you are eating a slice of Aunt Millie's Bakehouse Fiber for Life Honey Crunchy Oat Bread you will see the total fiber is 6 grams and the total Carbohydrate is 25 Grams you deduct the fiber from the Carbohydrate so in reality each slice is only 19 grams.  This was something I was taught by a nutritionist when I first found out that I was a Type 1 diabetic a few years back.  I believe it is because the fiber isn't digested and passes right through you.

Quickly it became clear that how many food claims on packaged food were lies.  Case in point "significant source of fiber!"  the package says and you look and it has 3 grams....NOT a significant source of fiber, yet some how they get away with it.

So back to this bread recipe.    This was a recipe I found online and was immediately impressed by how  wonderful it looked.  I also liked the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink ingredient list in particular the ground up, uncooked brown rice.  One of the categories for this bread as listed on the website I found it is: High Fiber.  Of course no fiber per slice is given for it, but given all the seeds, nuts and grains that go into making it and how delicious it tastes I'm just going to it is actually high fiber as I plan to make this on  a regular basis! 

Here is my adaptation:
 Multigrain Seed n' Nut Bread

This is a two day process. 

Day 1:  In a spice grinder or blender add 1/2 cup brown rice (Basamati is my favorite) and grind it until it is the texture of sand.  

Add the ground rice to a big bowl along with: 2 1/2 cups of Whole Wheat Bread Flour (available in NYC at the Union Square market both Wild Hive and Cayuga Pure Organics sell it) 2 cups of unbleached or Half White bread flour, 1/3 cup rolled oats, 2 Tablespoons Wheat germ, 3 Tablespoons Sunflower Seeds,  2 Tablespoons each of: Flax Seeds, Poppy Seeds, and Sesame Seeds, 2 1/2 Teaspoons of Sea Salt and 1 1/2 teaspoon of Yeast.

Give this mixture a quick stir to get everything integrated.

In a medium size bowl add 1/4 cups of Honey, being aware that the stronger the flavor of the honey the more pronounced it will be in the finished bread.  I like strong flavored honey, in this instance I used the local honey I had on hand which was Wild Flower Honey and fairly mild.  Add 2 1/2 cups of warm water to the honey and whisk until the honey melts.  Pour all at once into the dry ingredients. 

Start out mixing this big mess with a spatula or wooden spoon, when it becomes impossible to manage any more use your hands.  It should be on the wet and sticky side, if it's not add more water.   It should not be a perfect ball of dough bliss at this stage, but rather a ragged mass of a mess. If you feel the need you can add a little bit of flour to bring it together, but be careful not to over work it or to make it too dry.  

Cover with a slightly dampened rag and or an old plastic bag or some parchment paper and a rubber band around the bowl (I hate suggesting anyone buy plastic wrap it's so unnecessary and wasteful and reused plastic bag that someone brought wine in is perfectly fine) and place in the fridge for about 4 hours.   Ideally start to make this before dinner time,  so that the dough can rest in the fridge until it's bed time when you can then remove it from the fridge and leave it out over night. It can proof for 12-16 hours.  

Day 2:

Get out some flour and lightly sprinkle the wet dough with it and then with well floured hands form the mass into a ball, adding flour as you need.

Place the ball of dough into a bread form or a stainless steel bowl the size of a round loaf of bread.

Cover again and let rest for about 2 hours.

At the 1 1/2  hour point turn on your oven to 500 F.  When it has reached temperature place a dutch oven or any other baking dish with a lid you have, into the oven (this is what you will bake the bread in) let the empty container heat for 30 minutes.  

In a small bowl mix together 1 Tablespoon Flax, Sesame and Poppy Seeds.  It should be noted here that you can add flavored seeds like Fennel, Cumin or Caraway to this bread, both in the dough and in the seed topping.  I would add 1 Tablespoon into the dough and another tablespoon on top if you are going to try this.  Fennel and Golden Raisins are a popular combo these days and I think would work well in the context of this bread.

When the dough is finished proofing gently turn it out onto a floured surface and using either an egg white or whole milk brush the entire surface of the bread, then cover the loaf with the seed mixture.  Don't press too hard!  Often I tuck the edges of the bread under to make a better shape as sometimes it can get unwieldy and not be the perfect round I want it to be.  Using a sharp knife, serrated or not or a bread blade cut a 1/2 inch deep circle around the top of the loaf about two inches from the top and then another one another 2 inches further down the loaf (see picture).

Take the hot pot out of the oven.  Gently coax the dough onto a dough cutter or pizza peel.
Remove the hot lid (be careful!) and place the bread into the container, cover and place back into the over.  Turn the temperature down to 450F and cook covered for about 20 minutes.

Don't worry if you smell something burning, some seeds will fall off the bread and into the cooking vessel - these loose seeds cook way faster than the bread and can burn and smell, not to worry.

At the 20 minute point remove the lid and cook for roughly another 20 minutes.  You are looking for a gold brown loaf of bread that has a slightly hollow sound when tapped.

When done remove form the cooking vessel and cool to room temperature on a wire rack.  This bread is wonderful spread with mustard and  cheddar cheese or spread with Quark and topped with Smoked Salmon! Personally I love it sliced thin, toasted and slathered in peanut butter to go with my morning cups of coffee (yes cups).

Lastly, after using this basic no kneed technique for years I still find the transference of the bread to the pot can be tricky.  At the end of the day you should not worry how perfect your loaf looks because it's how it tastes that matter and the taste of this loaf is a winner!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fukushima Radioactive Ocean Water

This picture shows the contamination of the Pacific Ocean by radioactive matter spilt from the Fukushima plant that melted down after Japans horrific tsunami last year.

Of course being a food blog writer with an obvious political and environmental bent the first thing I wonder is : what is this doing to the fish?  And what will it do once it reaches the West coast of North America where most of the best fish we eat is from (Salmon, wild line caught Cod...)

Not good, not good at all.  Here is the video just in case you need more.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Prune Armagnac Crème Brûlée

Last year I got one of those little mini kitchen blow torches, but up until yesterday had never used it.

The above picture of just one layer of sugar caramelized.  The recipe from Kate Zuckerman that I used called for 2. It would have made the layer thicker and more consistent, but I was just so happy to have accomplished this I left well enough alone.

This is my adaptation of Kate's recipe.  It's serves 4 although I think you could easily split one of this between two people especially if you serve short bread or some lace cookies in addition.

Prune Armagnac Crème Brûlée

Chop 4 or 5 pitted prunes in half, cut each half into four strips, place them into a small mason jar or other container with a lid that will seal tightly and add 2 or 3 Tablespoons of Armagnac or brandy. Let macerate over night or longer.  Always good to have on hand.

In 4 ramekins (4 ounces - any shape you like) divide up the Armagnac soaked prune slices and place them in the center of each ramekin.
In a small heavy bottomed sauce pan heat up a tiny pinch of cream of tartar, 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 1/2 Tablespoons of water.  Bring to a slow boil and cook until golden about 3-5 minutes, once the color has started to change and caramelize immediately take it off the heat and pour a little of over mound of prunes. 

Preheat the oven to 325 F

Separate 4 large Eggs, keep the eggs whites for another use.  Place the yolks in a small bowl and whisk in 3 Tablespoons of sugar.

In a medium heavy bottom pot pour 2 cups Heavy Cream and add 3 Tablespoons of sugar. Over medium high heat bring the cream mixture to just to a simmer the promptly remove from heat.  Add 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla and 1 Teaspoon of Armagnac.

A few tablespoons at a time add the hot cream mixture into the eggs yolks.  After you have added half of it you can pour in a steady, slow, stream the remainder, whisking all the time.

Ladle the custard mixture into the prepared ramekins.

Place the prepared ramekins into a shallow baking dish and fill with water until about 1/2 inch from the top.

Place in the oven and baked for 40 minutes or so - the custard when done will be fully set and no be wobbly in the center.  Remove from the oven and remove from the water being very careful not spil any water on the custard - I use a flipper and an oven mitted hand.

Cool.  When room temp put them in the fridge over night.

When ready to make the burnt sugar tops make sure the tops of the custards are dry.  In my experimentation with this I discovered less sugar is better.  After you have done one layer you can do another and it's best to use the sugar very sparingly,  melt it with the blow torch and then add more.  I used a good Tablespoon all at once and it didn't melt properly, so I had lumps of burnt melted sugar and lots of untouched granulated sugar.  Not a pretty sight.  Much better on my second try.

You can try to melt the sugar under a broiler or forget about it all together and just dust some powdered sugar over the custards.  Also when baking the custards you may choose to cover them with a cookie sheet or tin foil, if the later punch some holes in it.  I didn't cover mine.

This is a picture of the one that I added too much sugar too and didn't melt well:
I'm going to have to make more so I can improve my technique.

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