[Via the NYT.]
20 November 2009
14 November 2009
We had Balti (a/k/a curry in a wok— see our last post on this for more on what Balti is) again this week. The vegan version is a bit different than the one hundred and thirty seven (minus one hundred and thirty three) step process described last time. The idea is to use whatever veggies you have on hand. We happened to have chard and potatoes, but you could do this with just about any veggies you have.
A Basic Vegan Balti
Step One: Make Some Garam Masala
See the recipe in Balti, Take One. You'll only need 1/2 a teaspoon for this.
Step Two: Make the Balti Sauce
You can do all this in the wok. Ideally, this is a one pot meal, even though there's lots of shifting things about to make that happen.
- Some vegetable oil for sauteing the veggies
- 1 Tbs. grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- half of a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes together with the juice
- 2 or 3 onions, chopped
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 /2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp tumeric
- 1/4 tsp. chili powder
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp. garam masala
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 cardamon pod, smashed with the flat your knife
- 3/4 tsp. methi (dried, ground fenugreek leaves)
- 3/4 tsp. salt
Step Three: Prep the Veggies
Just as an example:
- Boil some potatoes, say four or five medium sized ones, then drain and dice them;
- Boil or steam some chard until tender, drain, squeeze the water out in a towel and chop it;
- Open up an 8 ounce can of chick peas, or cook some up if you can plan far enough ahead to be able to do so; and/or
- Get yourself a cup or two of frozen green peas.
- 2-1/2 Tbs. Balti Spice
- 1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- The other half of that can of tomatoes, juice and all
- The Balti Sauce from Step Two, but not necessarily all of it
- a handful of finely chopped cilantro
- salt, probably
Serve your Balti curry with some nan or chapatis if you want to be all Balti about it, but it's good over brown rice too.
06 November 2009
Vegan pizza can be unsatisfying, but this week we made a good one with some odds and ends:
- mushroom chips
- caramelized onions
- roasted cauliflower
- chopped, steamed chard
- sliced red peppers
- not quite white sauce
And because this was a spur of the moment thing, we picked up the dough, which was Rosario's whole wheat pizza dough—it's really good.
Can anyone comment on Rosario's in New Harbor? Is it just a bakery, or is it a pizza place too?
And because I ate all the pizza before I could take a picture, here's a pizza lolcat:
03 November 2009
Little Lad's [warning: worst flash intro to a website ever] in Portland had its third (that I know of) change in management a couple months ago.
- The annoying endless loop of proselytizing, christian vegans has ended. Amen!
- The "buffet" is now behind closed doors, so you can't see what you're getting before you get it and you can't control your own portion sizes. Instead you just order what you want from a chalkboard. On the other hand, the food is exposed to less germs this way, which is just fine with me.
- Patron's are no longer greeted with "Hey Captain!" I really miss that, but not as much as I hated the TV they used to have.
23 October 2009
Here at Cornucopasetic HQ we are weekday vegans and occasional weekend omnivores; each of us is intolerant of dairy to varying degrees. As a result, we end up eating and drinking a lot of soy. Recently I became frustrated with how dependent we are on soy products from away. Then Heiwa Tofu became available, which was great, but I've always been much more fond of fermented soy products, particularly tempeh. As you can see from the preceding post, I was pretty happy to find that Lalibela Farms is making their own tempeh from organic Maine soy beans. Jaime Berhanu—who runs Lalibela with her husband, Andrew—is one of my favorite farmers to speak with at Portland's Saturday market. It is really hard not to smile when talking with her. She was nice enough to do an interview by email this week about her new tempeh. [N.B.: I added all of the links to Jaime's responses below.]
1. This last Saturday you mentioned that tempeh was a project you've had in mind for a long time. What made you want to give it a go now?
We’ve had the desire to make Tempeh, for ourselves for many, many years. Because we are vegan, our protein source is close to the last ingredient in our diet that we do not grow/produce ourselves. The idea had just been floating around until we considered it might be a great product to produce in small amounts and sell locally. We’ve been actively working on making it happen, commercially, for about a year.
I attended a workshop at MOFGA last winter about starting a processed food business and what is required to do that. That gave us an idea of what our options would be, and what type of kitchen we could use to make Tempeh. I knew there were to be many steps involved with getting all the licenses and having a finished product.
We were originally planning on doing it fairly small-scale until this past farming season—it was a challenging one! The rain and disease that was present this year, created a challenge for a good part of the season. We needed to follow through with the commitment we had made to our CSA members, but still needed to bring enough produce to the Farmer’s Market in order to meet our personal cash flow needs. Because of the growing conditions, we weren’t able to get things planted on time, and crops that were already planted did not grow at there “normal” rate. We were left with a very small harvest for a large part of the season. It was a bit of a wake up call for us.
We realized that we need an additional way to generate income, on our own, that we would be more in control over, could easily be done year round, and we could work into our schedule during the farming season. Also, Andy usually works off the farm in the winter, and we have always wanted to eliminate the need for that, so Tempeh was a perfect solution—still food related, seems to have significant demand in certain areas of the state, plus it would provide our vegetarian community with a quality protein source that has organic and local ingredients, and isn’t heavily processed.
We looked at what it would take to make the Tempeh production large enough to make a living, but small enough to handle it ourselves. Combined with the farm, we think we will be able to reach the goals that we have with the Tempeh (We are RIGHT in the middle of discovering the demand for it—so our fingers are crossed)
2. I thought I'd try to make my own soy things recently, but couldn't find a local source for soy beans. Where do you get local organic soy beans?
Our soybeans come from Bull Ridge Farm in Albion, where Henry Perkins grows MOFGA certified organic soybeans (as well as sunflowers which he is now selling oil from!)
We have not seen any local organic beans available at stores, either. I think a lot of the local organic soybeans are grown mostly for animal feed.
3. I have a sense for how to make soy milk, tofu and even soy yogurt, but tempeh seems like it requires magic. How is it made? Is it magic?
The process of making Tempeh is fascinating! Definitely some natural magic involved! The ingredients are simple, and I love that the fermentation process transforms the beans into an amazing food that is loaded with nutrients, including Vitamin B12, which is difficult to get if you are a vegan. I often think about how hundreds of years ago, somewhere in Indonesia, someone discovered the ability to turn soybeans into Tempeh…amazing!
Basically, Tempeh is made by cracking, dehulling, and cooking soybeans. Then they are inoculated with a Rhizopus spore, which after about 20-22 hours of incubation (when the fermentation & magic happens) at 88° F, mycelium forms and binds the soybeans together into its sliceable form!
The process takes us about five hours of fairly passive preparation (a lot of this time is downtime, cleaning and waiting for the cook time or cool time), then the overnight incubation, and the following morning we vacuum seal the individual bags and refrigerate them until they are sold.
4. With local tofu and now tempeh available, there's still a market for soy milk and may be even natto. Do you have any plans for any other Lalibela products?
We are starting out with a Soybean-only Tempeh (that is what we have at the Market right now). We will eventually have other varieties of Tempeh: multi-grain, and a non-soy Tempeh made with a different Maine grown organic bean, like Garbanzo beans, possibly.
Because we don’t own our own farm yet, we are renting a kitchen to produce our Tempeh, which we have had licensed as a commercial kitchen. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. One disadvantage is that we have to drive (8 miles) to the kitchen. While it is not really that far, it being a rented kitchen does mean that we are somewhat limited on when we can be there. When we own our own kitchen, we will be able to expand to possibly other products depending on what volume we are doing. At this point its hard to know, we want to be able to continue our farming, so we’ll have to see!
Tempeh does produce a “by-product” called okara, which is the hulls of the soybeans. I understand you can make soymilk from this, so we might try to produce some for ourselves and see what happens! (Heiwa Tofu also produces this “by-product” and advertises it’s availability, so someone might want to jump on that idea!)
5. Do you have a favorite tempeh recipe?
Tempeh Reuben Sandwich!
A browned patty of Tempeh with oil and a little Tamari, on toasted Rye bread with vegan Thousand Island dressing (or mustard) and Thirty Acre Farm’s Sauerkraut—delicious and easy!
6. Where can we find your tempeh other than at the farmer's market?
We are right in the middle of marketing our Tempeh to local stores and restaurants…we have only been licensed for 1 week! So far we have gotten orders from: Royal River Natural Foods in Freeport (they already have it as I write this), Lois’ Natural Marketplace in Scarborough, and Morning Glory Natural Foods in Brunswick.
We are talking with almost 20 different places, so we expect that list to grow greatly!
7. Will you be selling it at the winter farmer's market in Brunswick?
We are applying for a booth at the Brunswick Winter Market, and are keeping our fingers crossed! They currently have a moratorium on new vendors, so we’ll see what happens!
8. Will we see it in any restaurants soon?
We have brought samples to a number of restaurants, mostly in the Portland area. We should know more by next week.
9. Was it difficult to bring tempeh to the market? Tell us about some of the obstacles you had to overcome to bring us tempeh. Also, what advice can you give to other artisans who want to bring something like this to the market?
Because I attended a workshop on processed foods and kitchen licensing, I think I had pretty clear expectations of what it was going to take to make it happen, as well as knowing that the process would take some time. I wouldn’t necessarily call them obstacles, but there were many steps to having a final, “legal product”. For example:
- Make several successful batches with taste-test approval from friends and family
- Find supplies, supplies, and more supplies!
- Find a kitchen to rent that would qualify as a licensed commercial kitchen, that was fairly close to where we live, work out the details/arrangements with them.
- Send a sample of our Tempeh to the University of Maine lab where they test for pH levels, proper processing procedures, and safety as a low-acid food.
- Apply for 3 separate licenses (Commercial Food Processor(the Kitchen), Food Storage Warehouse (to store it at our Farm), and Mobile Vendor (to sell it at the Farmer’s Market).
- Get general liability and product liability insurance.
- Do test batches in the new kitchen to make necessary adjustments to our new space.
- Design a label, making sure it meets state requirements.
- Send the City of Portland our licenses to sell it at the Market.
- Market the Tempeh to possible wholesale accounts- retail stores and restaurants.
I am thankful for my husband and my ability to work together to be able to balance each other with the workload, and talking through ideas or obstacles. It’s also nice to share the work of meeting our business’ needs and our family’s needs together. Having young children can be challenging when you have your own business, but being able to show them through example, of what it means to contribute positively to our community, and to work together is a blessing!
Thank you Jaime!
Also see: Avery Yale Kamila's article (she scooped me!) in the PPH.
I picked up two packages of the inaugural tempeh and tried them out this week. I baked some in a marinade of mustard, soy, apple cider and garlic and made a tempeh maafe from the second package. Just like Heiwa Tofu is much better than any other tofu you can buy here, Lalibela's tempeh is better than anything you're going to buy from away. It's beautifully made and tastes wonderful. It's a bit fresher than say the Lifelight tempeh you've probably had before, and it's hard to describe the quality of that flavor, but it's wonderfully good.
Cornucopasetic Bonus Recipe: Vegan Dressing for Tempeh Reuben Sandwiches
Adapted from Leslie McEachern, The Angelica Home Kitchen (2000)
- 1.2 lbs. silken tofu (so right off the bat I'm not using local tofu in my local soy post …)
- the juice from 1/2 a lemon (or maybe a little less)
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 to 2 tsp. dijon mustard
- 2 Tbs. rice syrup
- 2/3 cu. sun dried tomatoes, rehydrated in hot water, then drained and minced
- 1 Tbs. red onion, finely diced
- 1/3 cu. diced cornichons and
- some finely chopped parsley
For the sandwich, I recommend Mother Oven's Greek Peasant bread, kraut from Thirty Acres Farm as Jaime suggests, and, of course Jaime's tempeh. Be sure to slice the tempeh so that you get thin sandwich sized slices. In other words, if the block of tempeh is 3" by 6", slice it so that you end up with two thin 3" by 6" pieces, then cut those into smaller strips.
08 October 2009
I received a comment from the folks at Lalibela Farm and they say they will be making their tempeh available soon. Great News.
UPDATE! Jaime from Lalibela just commented to say: "Come get your local Tempeh!!! Find us at the Portland Farmer's Market tomorrow, Saturday for the debut of our Tempeh!! Lalibela Farm's booth is where the path from the walking bridge meets the market, at Deering Oaks Park! 7am-12pm. Hope to see you there! —Jaime"
17 September 2009
10 September 2009
The Portland Farmer's Market is wonderful, but do you ever wonder what vendors you are missing out on at nearby markets while you are visiting Deering Oaks? Brunswick has the awesome Mother Oven Bakery, for example, and also vendors selling beef and goat meat. Bath, however, has Maine-ly Poultry, which I maintain sells the best readily available poultry you can buy in the state, and the Oyster Creek Mushroom Company, which sells foraged mushrooms. What other interesting vendors am I missing who attend other nearby markets?
This weekend we sauteed some of Oyster Creek's black trumpets with garlic and served them on bread from Black Crow Bakery and it was, as my daughter put it, "really really really" good.
27 August 2009
The "Brit-Indi" food you get at Haggerty's is only one side of the coin. At the same time as Indian curry houses in England first began proliferating in a big way, a Pakistani population that had begun settling in Birmingham (England, that is) after the partition of India started what have come to be known as Balti houses. Baltis and Indian curries seem very similar in spirit, but a number of things set them apart. Unlike Indian curries, a balti is prepared in a wok. In fact, "balti" is said to derive from a word meaning "bucket" or, perhaps said semi-facetiously, "hubcap." Another difference between the two is that your average balti is not about tongue blistering heat. You also see ingredients going into a balti that would not ordinarily find their way into a "Brit-Indian" curry, such as lemon juice and star anise.
Balti is a one pot event, served in a large steel serving dish—a karahi—that is hot enough to sizzle butter when it comes to the table. It's not served with rice, but is instead accompanied by an extra large naan or chapati.
There are a lot of great vegetarian routes to take in this style of cooking, but we happened to use lamb on this evening.
A Lamb Balti
Step One: Making the Spice Mix
- 4 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
Step Two: Making the Garam Masala
- 1 1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
- 3/4 tbsp. cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp. whole cloves
- 5 cardamon pods
- about 1 1/2" to 2" of cinnamon stick
- 1/2 of a whole nutmeg
- 1 -2 star anise, which is supposed to be a balti specific addition to garam masala.
Step Three: Pre-Cooking the Lamb and Making The Sauce
- 2 lbs. lamb cut into 1" cubes (should be a lean cut, like meat from the leg, which is what we used here)
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- half of the spice mix above
- 2 tsp. tumeric
- 1/2 a green pepper, diced
- a thumb sized bit of ginger, grated
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp. garam masala
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. dried methi (fenugreek)
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
Step One Hundred and Thirty Seven: Make Balti Happen Now
- the par-cooked lamb from step three above
- olive oil
- a thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
- 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 onions chopped
- 2 jalapenos, finely diced
- 1 to 2 cu. frozen peas (we had fresh peas, but their season has already passed)
- some potatoes, par-boiled and cut into chunks such as for a stew
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 3 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tsp. tomato paste
- the other half of the spice mix from step one above
- 3 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- some, but necessarily all of the sauce from cooking the lamb in step three above
- salt, if it needs it
All of the above is based on stuff I read in three books: Lowe & Davidson, 100 Best Balti Curries (1994), Pat Chapman, Curry Club Balti Curry Cookbook (1994) and one other book I can't find right now.
To make it a real balti night, we should have made our own naan or chapati; but we made a paratha instead, stuffed with onion and cauliflower.
We made a tomato relish to put on the paratha and it was just about the best damn thing I've ever put on bread
Hot Tomato Relish!
Adapted from Julie Sahni, Classic Indian Cooking (1980)
- 4 tomatoes, cut into chunks or a large dice
- 1/2 cup of a light vegetable oil
- 1/3 tsp. cumin seeds
- 8 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 4 jalapeno peppers
- 1 – 2 tsp. red pepper
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
In the bottom left corner of the picture is a green mango pickle we made a long time ago. It's also pretty amazing stuff.
17 August 2009
I know there are good things to do with them and I suspect I might get some more from the CSA this week. Any ideas?
And for what it's worth, this seems to be the best concoction I've hit on yet for flavoring the the coating:
- about 2:1 Corn meal to besan (chickpea flour),
- ground mustard,
- salt, pepper,
- garlic powder, and
- a bit of cayenne.
13 August 2009
If you have some left over ears of corn you steamed up for dinner last night and you want some ideas for what to do with them, I humbly suggest these wonderful …
… Corn Fritters
The dry ingredients are:
- 1/2 Cu. besan (chickpea flour)
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- some salt
- some pepper
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbs. coconut milk
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- a little bit of Sriracha
- 1/4 Cu. chopped red bell pepper
- 1/4 Cu. chopped red onion
- A handful of cilantro, chopped
- 1 to 1-1/2 Cu. corn kernels (sliced off a few left over ears of corn your steamed for dinner the night before)
12 August 2009
Posts about kitchen knives are generally reserved for the die-hard, pocket protector wearing, forum troll geek, but I'm going there anyway.
Years ago, when I worked in restaurants in Portland, I was always saddled with some ugly plastic handled thing from a kitchen supply store and, let's face it, that's really good enough for just about anyone. Later in life, when I could afford one, I bought a German made santoku and I thought I would never look back. The least you will pay for knife like that is over a hundred clams, which is already just plain self-indulgent even if it's the most important thing in the kitchen. But from there people will go on to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars for hand forged samurai swords blessed by tengu in enchanted, ancestral forests and hammered in precise, cosmic musical rhythms by dancing wu li masters. Here's an acceptable lower middle ground for people like me:
Tojiro-DP Gyutou ($56.50 at Korin).
And while I'm being needlessly geeky and judgmental, I'll add that the answer to the question of where to take your knives for sharpening if you in live in the greater Portland area is to not take them anywhere, but to buy a proper stone and learn to do it yourself. Freeport Knife Company has yielded very poor results for me. LeRoux doesn't even sharpen knives. If you really just can't bring yourself to do the deed, Now You're Cooking is a good choice, but otherwiswe tune in to youtube for some "classes."
11 August 2009
Our CSA this year is Laughing Stock Farm in Freeport. Hi Lisa and Ralph Turner! So many local farms offering CSAs have had a rough go of it due to the endless rain earlier this season. One nearby farm had to go so far as to refund a portion of its members' share cost. We've really appreciated Laughing Stock pulling through in spite of it all. The picture is of a dinner we made from our week's share a while back: baby carrots, chard, peas, romaine and some sungold tomatoes.
And now for the BBQ tempeh smackdown.
BBQ Tempeh from Angelica
The BBQ sauce from the Angelica Home Cookbook is a mix of sundried tomatoes, cider, maple syrup, tamari and other intense stuff: this is the winning vegan BBQ.
BBQ-ish Tempeh from 101Cookbooks
Heidi Swanson's suggestion for baking tempeh for her "TLT sandwiches" with adobo sauce and balsamic vinegar is a close second in the smackdown.
BBQ Tempeh from the Vegan Soul Kitchen
Grilling tempeh is always a bit iffy, but we tried the BBQ tempeh recipe in self-profesed "eco chef" (but like me, not actually vegan) Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen and it was pretty good. You might try adding less tamari than suggested and substitute maple syrup for the agave.
As for Vegan Soul Kitchen, I haven't decided how I feel about the book. A lot of it feels like a gimmick—the suggested songs to listen to for each meal, for example—and a lot of it feels pretty run of the mill if you've done the least bit of vegan cooking recently; but it still has a few interesting ideas in it that make it worthwhile—the seemingly endless watermelon ideas for one. For more complete thoughts on the book, Avery gave him a mention on Commune Tested and there's a good review at The Root.
16 July 2009
On June 13, 1976, Merrill, then nine years of age, entered CMP's property in South Berwick to fish in the Salmon Falls River. After catching an eel in the river, Merrill walked to the nearby CMP electrical sub-station, climbed the surrounding fence, and attempted to cook the eel by leaning over the top of the fence and placing the eel on a live electrical wire. Merrill received an electric shock and suffered severe burns.
Merrill v. Central Maine Power Company, 628 A.2d 1062, 1063 (Me.1993).
10 July 2009
On the off chance you didn't read it at BoingBoing, I have to mention the lede of the day:
If only she'd hop on her broom and fly to Deering Oaks now. My daughter would love that. I'm trying to think of a way to construe tarot cards as "farm and food products," but it's a stretch.
06 July 2009
- Garlic scape tempura (ok, but be sure only to use just only the flower tips, not the stems);
- Grilling (not so great);
- Chopped finely and mixed in with burgers of ground turkey, chopped gherkins, herbs, mustard, bread crumbs and Worcestershire sauce (really good);
- Garlic scape bread (the bulbs are better for this); and
- Mixing garlic scape pesto into leftover steamed red new potatoes and mashing them into a cake that is fried in a skillet (wow, that's good).
16 June 2009
One farm was offering zucchini blossoms at Portland's Saturday market last week. Hopefully there will be more of these next week. The batter was made from chickpea flour, corn starch, baking soda, paprika, water and salt. I know most people like to stuff them with cheese before frying, but I really think that's just unnecessary. (Yes, I know I killed those eggs.)
Ingredient Alert #1: Mother Over Pita Bread in the form of Pita Toasts
I love Mother Oven Bakery. The bread is Food with a capital F and it comes out of an honest to goodness earth goddess oven. His pita bread makes the best pita toasts I've ever had.
Cut two pita breads in half and then into three wedges. Separate the layers of each wedge and then mix all of the little pita pieces with 2 to 3 Tbs. of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Some crushed garlic would be good here too. Bake them at 420° until golden, spread out on a baking sheet, smooth side down. If you bake them too long, they become mouth lacerating triangles of doom. Spare your tongue and make sure you take them out just as they are beginning to brown.
What to put on your pita toasts:
- Pita toasts with tapenade, hummus and sliced radishes.
- Pita toasts with tapenade, radishes and garlicky sauteed broccoli rabe.
- Pita toasts with tofu "egg" salad.
Ingredient Alert #2: Tofu
When I lived in Davis, California, I would buy the best ever tofu and soy milk at the Davis Coop. The stuff was made in Sacramento, just a few miles away. It was fresh and tasted unlike any tofu I'd ever had. It was almost a shame to cook it. We would eat it fresh with nutritional yeast gravy for breakfast. It was a treat. I've been disappointed that there doesn't appear to be any such local source for tofu here, but now I find that Heiwa Tofu of Lincolnville is filling the empty niche. And better still, Crown O' Maine will be distributing it beginning this summer. For the time being, however, you can get it at Morning Glory in Brunswick and at Lois' Natural Marketplace in Scarborough.
Tofu "Egg" Salad
- 1 cake of Heiwa Tofu, dried with a clean towel and then squished by hand into crumbly bits
- 1/4 cu. diced celery
- 1 shallot, chopped
- a handful of finely chopped herbs: parsely, oregano, thyme, sage, chives…
- 2 Tbs. capers
- 3 – 5 cornichons, chopped
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. tumeric
- 1/4 cu. mayonnaise
- 1 Tbs. dijon mustard
- 1 – 2 tsp. of lemon juice
Now we just need a local tempeh source.
10 June 2009
It started simply enough … with an argument in a Chongqing restaurant over whether or not a bag was lost there.
Ever since May 21, the Quanju restaurant in Chongqing’s Yubei district has had a regular supply of customers coming in.
Normally this would be a good thing, but in this case each customer takes up a separate table, and orders the cheapest item on the menu, fried peanuts or just order a beer. They then hang around for hours in an effort to cost the restaurant money.
Wait for it…
After the protests occured[sic] three nights in a row, the restaurant manager called the police, who actually arrested seven of the customers and sent them to prison for five days.
Damn, that's harsh.
[Via the always interesting Wierd Asia News.]
09 June 2009
01 June 2009
I have a copy of the The Millennium Cookbook in good condition. Does anyone want it? I'll trade it for, in descending order of priority:
- A veggie oriented book I don't have;
- A cool, interesting or bizarre food related book I don't have;
- A funny food related poem, song, video, limerick, photo, drawing, or other bit of original creativity that you make and that I may post here.
UPDATE: And the trade is complete. I'm sending the book out today to Meg of Becoming Whole. Thanks, Meg.
I can't stop myself from buying rhubarb when I encounter it at the farmers' market. The farmers just stand there, smiling, knowing I'm going to stuff bags with the stuff. But then I get home and everyone looks at me like, "what, rhubarb crisp … again!" and I feel like a lame, one-trick rhubarb pony that my daughter is ready to turn into glue for her next collage. Enter Rhubarb curry with french lentils, cabbage, potatoes and peas from Berley's oft-heckled, but nonetheless mostly excellent Flexitarian Table. Rhubarb looses its structure with very little cooking, and so it's basically a really distinctive, tangy thickener in this curry. I sort of expected to be let down by this recipe, but it was excellent. Berley's curry mixture needs some work. Start from whole seeds, toasting and grinding them together; maybe add mustard seeds to it.
Freedom Farm offered up the best beet greens ever this last market day, with the tiniest nub of beet root and perfectly tender small leaves. Sauteed with garlic and lemon juice there is nothing finer in the spring eating line up. The stalks turn into a kind of juicy red noodle. The carrots were also suggested by Flexitarian Table and were roasted with a glaze of earth balance, lime juice, pepper flakes and cumin seeds—very good.
Holy crap, this guy basically had my dinner in ice cream form:
["Rhubarb and Peanut Butter Curry Ice Cream" by bradluster on Flickr.]
27 May 2009
The reviews are pouring in for El Rayo. Except for one plaintive cry for attention, most are pretty positive. There's still a Mission District shaped whole in my heart, but El Rayo is okay. I'd still like to see a Portland Extension to the Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel though. There is no finer purpose to put engineering to. As far as fish tacos go, I'm digging Olive Cafe more.
And because every post ought to have an image, here's a burrito cat:
26 May 2009
A few weeks back, the City of Ghent began observing "a regular weekly meatless day, in which civil servants and elected councillors [sic] will opt for vegetarian meals" in an effort "to recognise [sic] the impact of livestock on the environment." As part of the effort, "[a]round 90,000 so-called 'veggie street maps' are now being printed to help people find the city's vegetarian eateries." [Via the BBC.] I guess our version of the veggie street map is here at Avery's Commune Tested, City Approved.
21 May 2009
18 May 2009
13 May 2009
We made Mother's Day dinner at my mum's house where we can bring out fancy dishes and make these untutored French dishes look presentable.
I love oysters, but for some reason I have never gone through the trouble of buying and shucking them myself. Now I know why and it has something to do with the several slightly infected holes in my hand. Some important things I learned about shucking oysters: (1) pick out your own oysters if you can, and choose ones that have a nice gap at the hinge where an oyster knife will fit well; and (2) if you have a stubborn oyster that refuses to open, stick it in a really hot oven for a few moments and it will loosen up enough for you to finish the job (thanks Mom for that trick).
These Damariscotta River oysters were excellent with …
Green Chili and Cilantro Mignonette
- 1/3 cu. red wine vinegar;
- 1/2 of a shallot, minced;
- 1/4 to 1 tsp green serrano chili, minced;
- 1/4 tsp. sugar;
- 1 tsp lemon juice; and
- 1 tsp or so cilantro, chopped.
We found these Minton Majolica Oyster Plates in the attic of my grandmother's house and it's simply ridiculous what they sell for at auction. It's nice to have an excuse to bring them to the table.
Vegan Alternative: broiled baby eggplants—they were sort of oyster shaped.
Bourride is a French classic fish dish that involves no cream and, therefore, no abdominal cramps for me. Instead, the richness is achieved with aïoli enriched with additional egg yolks that is blended into the fish broth to create a light emulsion. There is serious garlic in this. This dish is very simple in spite of the seemingly complicated emulsion at the end. What it really all comes down to having an absolutely perfect stock. In our case, it was really hard to track down enough fish racks at the last minute to make a properly intense stock. The carcass bin at Harbor Fish is almost always dominated by salmon racks rather than with the white fish we needed. It's best to make an order for whole fish or whole racks and be sure to specify that you want the heads left on. I ended up not having enough fish bones and the stock suffered a bit for this.
Vegan Alternative: A sorrel soup, that, unfortunately, turned out more than a bit like paste. Further research is required for a good creamy sorrel soup that is vegan.
Greens from New Leaf Farm are already appearing with nasturtium blossoms in them. This was also my first experience with borage (leaves, not flowers). I wanted to like borage very much, which is cucumbery as everyone says, but I think I will leave it out of salads and try to find some better purpose for it.
Poached rhubarb with dairy free ginger ice cream. Both components are excellent, but the ginger ice cream is a keeper.
Dairy Free Ginger Ice Cream
Blend up the following ingredients and put them in your ice cream maker:
- 1/2 cu. coconut milk;
- 1 cu. soy milk;
- 1/3 package of silken tofu (about 6 0z.);
- 1/2 cu. vanilla soy yogurt;
- 1/2 cu. sugar;
- juice squeezed from the pulp of about 1 inch of ginger root, grated in a microplane; and
- a good handful or two of chopped crystallized ginger.
I need to stop posting about GRO, but I think I've got the place figured out now so one last report is worthwhile. There's a sort of trifecta on their menu that consists of (1) the Fun Guy in the Sun Dry (or whatever it's called) salad, (2) their nori roll, and (3) the zucchini noodle appetizer (which is a perfectly good lunch). Also, all of the smoothies and chocolates and cookies are excellent, but that stuff doesn't a lunch spot make. Hey GRO guys, if you are listening: you guys need some specials.
The zucchini noodle salad is dressed with some concoction involving almonds and sesame oil and lemon juice and other yummy bits. It's quite good.
Using pureed nuts to create creaminess is a clever vegan trick that I decided to recreate for dinner. I made an almond-basil variation of Vegan Yum Yum's tomato basil crema, using half whole wheat spaghetti and half zucchini "noodles" for the pasta. While I'm glad that Olivia's Garden produces hot house tomatoes, they still aren't the real deal by any stretch, so I can't wait to come back to this recipe when real tomatoes are available. But even with the off-season tomatoes this was wonderful and it fooled my daughter into eating lots of zucchini.
For making zucchini noodles you could in theory run the zuke lengthwise through a mandolin with the proper insert, but the better method is to use a "magicook" spiral slicer. I know the price on amazon seems high, but I think I've seen them for cheap at Sun Market in town (which is the better place to buy one anyway). It's worth buying a Benriner slicer just for the engrish on the instructions.
N.B.: GRO has their shroom room set up in the back and you can now watch them grow shitaakes.
11 May 2009
James Davidson, Courtesans and Fish Cakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens (1997) (quoting Timaeus FGrHist 566 F149). Courtesans is a great food book, by the way.
In Agrigentum there is a house call 'the trireme' for the following reason. Some young men were getting drunk in it, and became feverish with intoxication, off their heads to such an extent they supposed they were in a trireme, sailing through a dangerous tempest; they became so befuddled as to throw all the furniture and fittings out of the house as though at sea, thinking that the pilot had told them to lighten the ship because of the storm. A great many people, meanwhile, were gathering at the scene and started to carry off the discarded property, but even the youths did not pause their lunacy. On the following day the generals turned up at the house, and charges were brought against them. Still sea-sick, they answered to the officials' questioning that in their anxiety over the storm they had been compelled to jettison their superfluous cargo by throwing it into the sea.
06 May 2009
My take from this afternoon's Farmers' Market:
Things I learned: a salad spinner works really well to dry steamed or washed fiddleheads so they can be sauteéd. I guess that should have been obvious to me before now.
Also: we're working on an excellent rhubarb crisp. Tonight's breakthrough was adding Grand Marnier and ginger juice. Next job is to get the right amount of crisp to rhubarb.
04 May 2009
My favorite usage is one I found accidentally several years ago:
Suddenly, [a substantive element,] or a process, or a time sequence will turn up, and there is astonishment, frustration, and even disaster. We therefore urge you … always to read the [Constitution] first, even if [its application] is familiar to you. Visualize each step … and you will encounter no surprises. [Constitutional] language is always a sort of shorthand in which a lot of information is packed, and you will have to read carefully if you are not to miss small but important points. Then, to build up your over-all knowledge compare the [text] mentally to others you are familiar with, and note where one [section] or technique fits into the larger picture of theme and variations.
Sarnoff, Joshua D., Cooperative Federalism, The Delegation Of Federal Power, And The Constitution, 39 Ariz. L. Rev. 205 (1997) (quoting Julia Child et al., 1 Mastering the Art of French Cooking x (1979)).
03 May 2009
One of the spots where I like to eat lunch outside during the summer is by the empty forty ouncer bottles on the granite blocks right behind Harbor Fish. The danger is being shat upon by herring gulls; the benefit is checking out what's available at the market.
Two whiting cost me all of $2.53. I want to stay away from the more overfished species and figured I had done so with whiting, but it turns not to be the most sustainably harvested fish afterall. In any event, here's the tacky 1970's-ish thing I did with it:
Merlan en Colère (a/k/a Whiting "Angry Style")
Adapted from Jacques Pepin, La Methode (1979)
Simply whiting battered with egg, one tablespoon of oil and some seasoning and then breaded and fried with their tails stuffed into their mouths. It took about 8 minutes in 350° safflower oil to cook them. Someone who knew what they were doing might even manage not to overdarken the batter. I had never had whiting before, which, turns out to be an excellent white fish that is mild in flavor and not overly bony like many of the small, skinny fish.
In our most recent Crown of Maine order I picked up a broiler from Tide Mill Farm of Edmund, Maine (and not Smyrna as I had originally thought (thanks, Psst!)). Although it was a fine bird, I think I'll be stick with Maine-ly Poultry whose chickens are available fresh. Also, Maine-ly Poultry doesn't cut the skin across the lower part of the breast to tuck the drumsticks into. The fricassée above was made by soaking the chicken pieces in one cup of cognac overnight and then draining the pieces, browning them with lardons, and cooking them slowly for half an hour with pearl onions and the reserved chicken-cognac brew. The sauce was excellent, but soaking the pieces in cognac overnight was a blunder; the chicken tasted like licking in the inside of a charred barrel. I'd give them six hours if I were ever to do this again. The idea is from Anne Willan's excellent French Regional Cooking.
The cognac flavor really mellowed overnight and the left over chicken made great sandwiches with bacon from Caldwell Farm, cornichons, tomatoes, avocado and mayonnaise.
01 May 2009
Nutty smoothies inspired by those on the menu at the hipster vegan dive, GRO, and currently heavily in vogue at home with my daughter:
- Sleeping Beauty Needs Calcium: 1/2 cu. coconut milk, 1/2 cu. almond milk, a handful of sliced almonds => WHIRR! => 1 banana (sliced and frozen), 1/4 cu. cacao powder, 1 additional cu. or so of almond milk, agave nectar, maybe some crushed ice => WHIRR!;
- Eiiiiieeeee: 1/2 cu. coconut milk, 1/2 cu. almond milk, a handful of pecans => WHIRR! => 1 banana (sliced and frozen), some maple syrup, more almond milk, cacao powder, maybe some crushed ice => WHIRR! (without the ice and with more maple syrup, this would make a great base for a vegan ice cream); and
- Space Donkey: 1/2 cu. coconut milk, 1/2 cu. soy or almond milk, lots of of pistachios => WHIRR! => 1 banana (sliced and frozen), 1 cara cara orange (rind and membrane cut away, segmented), more soy or almond milk, honey => WHIRR! (this one is the best).
28 April 2009
27 April 2009
So my mostly vegetarian recipe blog has gradually turned into a fully omnivorous slow food blog. I blame it on all the great local ingredients I have been discovering. It's time for the pendulum to swing back to the veggies again, but not before one more omnivorous post to relate a nice dinner we had this past weekend.
Ever since becoming addicted to Maine-ly Poulty's chicken, I have been interested in attempting (and "attempting" is the key word here) some of the classic french methods for preparing poultry. The poele from a few weeks back turned out so nicely that I thought I would give braising a try. It's hard to get a really pretty end result with either of these methods—or at least it is for me—but the meat turns out so tender and moist and the sauce so flavorful that presentation seems less important. Still, it would have been nice to get an even browning of the skin all over the bird. Next up: perhaps a fricassee.
We had: braised chicken from Maine-ly Poultry stuffed with olives and ham and sausage from Rosemont Market and Bakery; roasted fingerling potatoes from Goranson Farm with garlic and thyme; a salad of toasted walnuts, garlicky croûtes and some beautiful greens (also from Goranson Farm) with a vinaigrette of cider vinegar, dijon and walnut oil; and mussels from Phil Gray's Blue Dragon Mussel Wagon.
Braised Chicken Stuffed With Sausage and Olives
Adapted from Anne Willan, Regional French Cooking (1981)
- 1 whole chicken (around 3 lbs.), together with its liver, heart and gizzard (dice the heart and gizzard, dice the liver too, but keep it separate);
- 3 oz. of salami, diced [Rosemont has some of the best charcuterie in the area, …];
- 3 oz. ham, diced [… such as an excellent french ham that fits this recipe.];
- a handful of pitted green olives;
- some chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, whatever);
- 2 – 3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped;
- 2½ cu. chicken stock (hopefully your own stock prepared without adding any salt, or some low sodium stock—things get awfully salty with those olive and the salami); and
- oil (or some kind of fat) for browning the chicken and sautéeing its stuffing.
Stuff the bird, truss it and season its skin with pepper and sparingly with salt. Brown the chicken on all sides in a casserole capable of fitting the whole bird lying on its side and still allowing its cover to close firmly. Position the chicken on its side and add two Tbs. of the stock, then cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Cook the chicken on the other side, then breast side down, then on its back, each time adding 2 Tbs. of stock and covering and cooking over low heat for 15 minutes, for a total cooking time of about an hour.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove it to a platter, remove the trussing and cover with foil. Now make the sauce by skimming off any extra fat off the top of the liquid in the casserole. I had a gooey bubbling chickeny syrup that was un-skimmable, but ended up forming one of the best sauces ever. Add a cup or so of broth to the casserole and reduce to a sauce. Given the stuffing, the sauce is likely to be a bit salty, but the stuffing adds a wonderful flavor to it.
Mussels With Shallots, Tomatoes, Anchovies and Thyme
This is pretty standard stuff. When prepared with butter it is my absolute favorite way to eat mussels (although serving them in a curry with coconut milk and lemongrass is a close second).
- 2 lbs. mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded;
- 1 large shallot, finely diced;
- 4 – 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped;
- 2 tomatoes, peels and seeds removed, diced;
- 3 – 4 anchovies;
- 1 cup white wine (or thereabout);
- some fresh thyme, chopped; and
- lots of butter if you can eat it, otherwise some olive oil.
The traditional french way to do this, apparently, is "moules mariniére," in which you simply put mussels, shallots, herbs, salt, pepper and wine in a pot and let it boil until their done.
Leftovers: Chicken with Tonnato (Tuna Mayo)
I ate the leftover chicken with a tonnato sauce, which I like to put on, well, pretty much everything, but especially poached chicken. I would probably drink tonnato if there weren't some part of my small brain that recognizes just how creepy and unnatural that would be (although not nearly as disturbing as this).
Into a mini food processor goes:
- one can of tuna and its oil;
- 6 – 8 anchovies and some oil from their tin;
- an egg yolk;
- 2 tsp. of dijon mustard;
- 2 Tbs. of lemon juice;
- 1 Tbs. capers; and
- some ground pepper.