Category Archives: Do This!

A Whole Lotta Goodness @Everything Whole is New Again

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On a lazy Sunday afternoon two friends hatched a plan to trade one’s newly bottled homebrew for the other’s freshly caught stream trout. And they drank and they ate and they said it was good. So good, in fact, that they decided to share these fine things with 8 unsuspecting guests who knew not that they would be asked to eat frog legs and fish eyes, but who simply signed up for a dinner celebrating all whole foods. Everything Whole is New Again was on the calendar and the seats were full.

And so for the past six weeks, I was brewing, fermenting and bottling a 4 gallon batch of Yerba Mate Wheat, while Keith grabbed his fishing pole — and  frog net — and stockpiled our bounty. The rest of the menu was filled in with local, seasonal fare, a lot of handmade goodness, and, as always, an abundance of chilled beverages.

The Menu {use of hands encouraged}:

Local Market Bounty
w/  Bagna Cauda

Brown Butter Pond-Caught Frog Legs
Caught by Keith Gibson, Ghent, NY

w/ Yerba Mate Wheat Homebrew, NY

Balsamic-Drizzled Watermelon Steak
Topped with Feta, Rooftop Mint and Pistachios

 w/ 2012 Reichsrat von Buhl Pinot Noir Rose, Germany

Homemade Wheat and Spent Grain Bread
w/ Homemade Grass-Fed Milk Ricotta 
and Hand-Churned Salted Butter

Grilled Stream-Caught Wild Trout
w/ Lemon Butter and Green Garlic
Caught by Keith Gibson, Ghent, NY

w/ 2010 Blanck Pinot Gris, Alsace

Market Blueberry-Lemon Tart

w/ Banfi Sparkling Rose Regale, Italy

While the rain clouds loomed overhead, I poured the beer and tried to add a little brightness to the evening with an array of colorful market veggies — purple carrots and zebra heirloom tomatoes, oh my!

A Yerba Mate Wheat is born

A Yerba Mate Wheat is born

Local Market Bounty w/ Bagna Cauda

Local Market Bounty w/ Bagna Cauda

Remember that fancy side burner on the new grill? Well it got used. Keith’s prized frog legs, caught in upstate New York, did a little al fresco dance in a hot pan with a generous amount of butter and garlic scapes. The 8.ate@eight crew looked suspiciously over my shoulder as the delightful smell of brown butter wafted in their direction. All were good sports and took a tentatively tiny sampling on their plates. And then they tasted them. And quickly the platter was passed around the table for seconds leaving nothing but a pile of happily cleaned bones. It’s hard not to like something cooked in butter, but these little guys were beautifully browned and crispy on the outside and tender {dare I say like chicken} on the inside.

Brown Butter Pond-Caught Frog Legs

Brown Butter Pond-Caught Frog Legs

And because it was 90 and humid and we couldn’t rely solely on chilled wine to keep us from sweating, it was time for one of my absolute favorite summer salads. I discovered this genius whole preparation of a “watermelon steak” from the Umami Mart blog and then adjusted for a combination of flavors that I think were made to go together — a little salty feta to counter the sweet melon, the pistachios add a crunch to each bite that would otherwise dissolve in your mouth, a drizzle of aged balsamic for a touch of acidity and a sprinkling of fresh mint because mint and watermelon belong together.

Watermelon-Feta Steak

Watermelon-Feta Steak

Ok and now it’s going to start to sound ridiculous. While I heated the BBQ to grill our other Keith-caught prize — the main event, the stream-caught wild trout — I brought out the homemade bread {which used spent grain from our beer and sage-rosemary-thyme from the rooftop garden}, served with homemade butter and homemade ricotta. Amazingly, it was the homemade butter that threw people for a loop — seemingly difficult to many, I had to explain it’s really just overwhipped whipped cream. The key is excellent ingredients — I used Keith’s 100% grass-fed heavy cream from his farm, Grazin’ Angus Acres {@Union Square greenmarket on Saturday, @79th st greenmarket on Sunday}, and deliciously flaky Jacobsen Sea Salt from Portland.

Whole Wheat & Spent Grain Bread + Two Best Friends: Butter & RIcotta

Whole Wheat & Spent Grain Bread + Two Best Friends: Butter & RIcotta

And now the drum roll…an early morning trip to the market to pick up the prized trout

Our man Keith and one lucky fish

Our man Keith and one lucky fish

Please, please notice the amazing pink flesh shining through the beautiful skin. These fish are beauts! So happy together…

So happy together

So happy together

Even happier with some fresh garlic scapes.

Even happier with some fresh garlic scapes

Even happier with some fresh garlic scapes

A peek inside — pretty in pink! Simple seasonings — lemon, butter, garlic scapes and scallions.

A sneak peek

A sneak peek

Dinner is served

Dinner is served

Nothing but the bones remained. Even a dare to eat the eyeballs was met openly and with great confidence {perhaps this had something to do with the amount of wine that had been consumed.}

And we're done

And we’re done

Oh, and dessert. The simplest celebration of sweet seasonal blueberries in a savory tart shell.

Sara Moulton's Blueberry Lemon Tart

Sara Moulton’s Blueberry Lemon Tart

Thanks!

Thanks to Keith Gibson for wading through the stream and ponds to put dinner on the table. And for also raising amazing grass-fed everything that makes everything taste the way nature intended. Thanks to Ryan and Angela for helping with the brew process and storing a whole lotta beer at your apartment. Thanks to Allison and Kristin for all the help clearing our many empty dishes — and washing them {best roommates ever}! Thanks to Kristin for also snapping some pics while I was worrying about the rain. And I of course want to thank everyone who grabbed a seat at the table — it was lovely to have you all!

I’m ruminating on some future  events for the fall and winter, so stay tuned. If you aren’t on the dinner distribution list, email me at 8ateateight@gmail.com to be added. See you at the table!

Read About Past 8.ate@eight Dinners:
Boozy Robert Burns Night w/ The Tippling Bros. & Highland Park Scotch
A+ 8.ate@eight Back to School Nite
8.ate@eight Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ
Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!
Silencing of the Spring Lambs was Lambtastic!

The crew

The crew

8 Ate at Eight 2013-9

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Announcing 8.ate@eight dinner #6 | Everything Whole is New Again | @7.13.13.8:00pm

Sometimes the simplest things in life are the things worth remembering. The beauty of a whole tomato, fresh off the vine. A newly baked loaf of bread, its sweet aroma expanding to the walls and seeping through cracked doors to the neighbors delight. A whole fish presented with pride by the very hands that caught it on a lazy day off. To celebrate nature’s bounty and that food doesn’t need to be fancy to be memorable, this 8.ate@eight gathering will highlight each bite in its uncut form. Use of hands encouraged.

Read About Past 8.ate@eight Dinners:
Boozy Robert Burns Night w/ The Tippling Bros. & Highland Park Scotch
A+ 8.ate@eight Back to School Nite
8.ate@eight Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ
Who Cut the Cheese Didn’t Stink!
Silencing of the Spring Lambs was Lambtastic!

Reservation policy is first come, first serve. When I reach 8 guests, the list is closed for the evening. Please feel free to invite guests or forward to friends. A mixed crowd is encouraged!

8.ate@eight #6: Everything Whole is New Again
Saturday, July 13th, 2013, 8:00pm
4-course dinner menu — use of hands encouraged

RSVP HERE!: 8ateATeight@gmail.com

Enjoy and hope to see you at the table!

Christina

Whole Foods

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The Way to a Girl’s Heart: Beer-Bartered Trout

Prized Trout

Prized Trout

So this is how the story goes: girl buys new shiny grill, shiny grill needs its maiden voyage, girl craves something that can’t be bought — a friendly barter is made, as is a meal worthy of brag.

I look forward to each Sunday when I roll out of bed, hair disheveled, tote bags hung on the crook of my elbow, and meander a few blocks to the farmers’ market. The only thing on my agenda is to say hi to my friends, the farmers — everyone should  be friends with local farmers, they wake up at 4am to feed you. That’s a good friend.

But this particular day was different. I was hanging out with Keith at Grazin’ Angus Acres — eyeing their grass-fed beef and stocking up on  $10 / dozen golden eggs. Conversation turns to the things that fill empty hours — I was telling him about my new  brewing project {remember: brew beer, make friends} and he was telling me about his day of fishing for stream trout that was planned for Monday. Mmmm, beer. Mmmm, fresh trout. Boom: light bulb. “What would you say to a friendly barter?” he proposes. The genius plan: meet back at the market the following Sunday with two tradable treasures that would be mutually appreciated.

A Fine Finned Friend

A Fine Finned Friend

And so came home a fine finned friend — a beaut, as they say.

Grilled Stream Trout

1 whole trout, gutted and cleaned
2 green garlic stems, chopped
1 lemon sliced
4-5 pats of butter
salt and pepper to taste

With nothing more than a little butter, green garlic and lemon stuffed inside and blanketing the fiddy, I wrapped this guy in a foil pouch, threw him on the grill at a steady 350° {yes, the new grill has a gauge!} and cooked him until his clear-as-day eyes turned white — about 20 minutes.

Poach Pouch

Poach Pouch

Voila — maiden voyage success and a meal to remeber!

Grilled Trout

Grilled Trout

Oh, and the best part? A dare to eat the eye. I rarely turn away from a good challenge. Thank goodness for bread and a cold beer.

Eye see you

Eye see you

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Do This!: Get $10 Towards Lusty Kitchen Provisions by Food52

$10 Provisions by Food52 Credit

I’ve been working on preparing for the launch of Food52′s new shop, Provisions, for the past year. Foraging for lusty items that any cook would want to get their hands on.  We’re not launched yet, but soon friends, very soon. Until then, we’re sharing a $10 credit with those of you trendsetters who want to be in-the-know early. Follow this link, enter your email and the credit will be waiting for you when we open our doors — Christmas comes early!

Remember: a memorable meal isn’t just about what’s on the plate, it’s about the plate too.

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Do This!: Brew Beer, Make Friends

 

Home brew

Home brew

I’m a girl who likes  projects. But even the idea of brewing my own beer intimidated me. Until I became the proud owner of a Brooklyn Brew Shop beer kit after an auction to raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief. With a Saturday to kill and my cousin Angela and her fiance Ryan here to provide moral support {and expert home-brewer guidance} we got to work.

The tools

The tools

The kit comes with almost everything you need to get started, but I did have to have my own funnel and large fine-mesh strainer on hand. Oh, and the grapefruit peel and honey for the grapefruit honey ale. I was a little perplexed that these two key ingredients where not provided in some dried or packaged form, but since I was still in my citruspalooza mode, I happened to have grapefruit on hand so got over the disappointment quickly. Step 1: sanitize all the equipment with the  sanitizer provided in the kit and then get work.

The Mash

The Mash

The Mash 

  1. Heat 2 quarts (1.9 liters) of water to 160°F.
  2. Add grain (This is called “mashing in.” Take note of jargon. Or don’t).
  3. Mix gently with spoon or spatula until mash has consistency of oatmeal. Add water if too dry or hot. Temperature will drop to ~150°F (66°C).
  4. Cook for 60 minutes at 144-152°F (63-68°C). Stir every 10 minutes, and use your thermometer to take temperature readings from multiple locations.
  5. You likely don’t need to apply heat constantly. Get it up to temperature, then turn the heat off. Monitor, stir, and adjust accordingly to keep in range.
  6. After 60 minutes, heat to 170°F (77°C) while stirring constantly (“Mashing Out”).
The Sparge

The Sparge

The Sparge 

  1. Heat additional 4 quarts (3.8 liters) of water to 170°F (77°C).
  2. Set up your “lauter tun” (a strainer over a pot).
  3. Carefully add the hot grain mash to the strainer, collecting the liquid that passes through.
  4. This liquid is called “wort” (pronounced “wert”). It will be your beer.
  5. Slowly and evenly pour 170°F (77°C) water over the mash to extract the grain’s sugars.
  6. You want to collect 5 quarts (4.75 liters) of wort. You will lose about 20% to evaporation later on, so you want to start with a bit more than you’ll end with.
  7. Re-circulate wort through grain once.

 

The Boil

The Boil

The Boil 

  1. In a pot, heat wort until it boils.
  2. Keep boiling until you’ve hit the “hot break” (Wort will foam – you may need to reduce heat slightly so it doesn’t boil over.)
  3. Stir occasionally. All you want is a light boil – too hot and you lose fermentable sugars and volume.
  4. The boil will last 60 minutes. Start your timer and add in the rest of the ingredients at these times: Add Columbus Hops at start of boil.
  5. Add 1/2 Cascade Hops 30 minutes into boil.
  6. Add remaining Cascade Hops and Grapefruit Peels 55 minutes into boil.
  7. At 60 minutes turn off heat. Dissolve 1/4 cup Honey and Candi Sugar.
  8. Twenty percent of the wort will have evaporated in this step leaving you with 1 gallon (3.8 liters) of wort. If your boil was a bit high, the surface area of your pot extra large, or you brewed on a really hot day, you may have less than the full amount. Don’t worry – you just reduced your beer a bit too much, but you can add more water in the next step.
The Fermentation

The Fermentation

Fermentation 

  1. Place brew pot in an ice bath until it cools to 70°F (21°C).
  2. Once cooled, place strainer over funnel and pour your beer into the glass fermenter. Yeast needs oxygen. The strainer helps aerate your wort and clarify your beer (as well as catch any sediment from going into the fermenter). Add tap water to bring wort up to 1 Gallon mark if level is low.
  3. “Pitch” yeast. (Toss the whole packet in.)
  4. Shake aggressively. You’re basically waking up the yeast and getting more air into the wort.
  5. Attach sanitized screw-top stopper to bottle. Slide rubber tubing no more than 1” (2.5 cm) into the stopper and place the other end in small bowl of sanitizer. You’ve just made a “blow-off tube”. It allows CO2 to escape.
  6. Let sit for two or three days or until vigorous bubbling subsides. This is when fermentation is highest. You may notice bubbles and foam at the top of the beer. After bubbling calms down, clean tubing and ready your airlock.
  7. Sanitize, then re-assemble airlock, filling up to line with sanitizer.
  8. Insert airlock into hole in stopper.
  9. Keep in a dark place for two weeks without disturbing other than to show off to friends. (If beer is still bubbling, leave sitting until it stops.)
  10. In the meantime, drink beer with self-closing swing tops, or ask for empties at a bar that has some. If you have a bottle capper and caps, you can save two six packs of non-twistoff beers instead.
Bottling

Bottling

Two Weeks Later: Bottling 

  1. Thoroughly rinse bottles with water, removing any sediment.
  2. Mix remaining sanitizer with water.
  3. Fill each bottle with a little sanitizer and shake. Empty after two minutes, rinse with cold water and dry upside down.
  4. Dissolve 3 tablespoons honey with 1/2 cup water. Pour into a sanitized pot. You will be siphoning your beer into the same pot in the next steps. Carbonation comes from adding sugar when bottling, so if you filled your jug with less than the full gallon in the last step, use less honey when bottling. Using the full amount can result in your beer being over-carbonated.
  5. Siphoning (It all happens pretty fast. You may want to practice on a pot of water a few times.) To see it in action first, watch the How to Bottle video at brooklynbrewshop.com/instructions.
    1. Attach open tubing clamp to tubing.
    2. Fill tubing with sanitizer.
    3. Attach sanitized tubing to the short curved end of your sanitized racking cane. Attach the black tip to the other end – it will help prevent sediment from getting sucked up. It will probably be a snug fit, but you can get it on there.
    4. Pinch tubing clamp closed.
    5. Remove screw-cap stopper and place racking cane into jug, just above the sediment at the bottom (“trub”).
    6. Lower end of tubing not connected to racking cane into sink. Suction will force beer up and through the racking cane and tubing. Open tubing clamp, let sanitizer flow into sink until beer just starts to flow out of the tubing, then clamp shut. Open clamp on tubing, allowing beer to flow into pot with sugar solution. Tilt jug when beer level is getting low, but be careful in not sucking up the trub.
  6. Siphon beer from pot into bottles, pinching tube clamp to stop flow after each bottle.
  7. Close bottles.
  8. Store in a dark place for 2 weeks.

Two Weeks Later: Enjoying and Making Friends

  1. Put beers in the fridge the night before you drink them.
  2. Drink. Share with friends if you’re the sharing type. Or barter for fresh river trout {more on that later}

MORE SCRATCH PROJECTS {get back to your roots}

CHEESEHomemade Fresh Mozzarella
CHEESEHomemade Ricotta
BREAD101: How to Make Bakery Quality Bread @Home
MUSTARD & PRETZELSHomemade Soft Pretzels and Mustard

PICKLESHomemade Spicy Pickled Carrots
KIMCHIHomemade Spicy Carrot Kimchi! & Apple Chutney!

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Do This! Kosher for Passover and Brooklyn Bound

Kehilath Yakov Matzoh Bakery

Kehilath Yakov Matzo Bakery

Most of the people I know are preparing for Easter. Pulling out baskets, polishing their patent leather and froofing their Sunday frills. But there is another important holiday approaching — one less sugary and pastel-colored — Passover. Even after living in NYC for 12 years, I realized I don’t know a lot about Passover traditions, so asked my friend Avi to lead me into the traditional Jewish neighborhoods of Flatbush and South Williamsburg, Brooklyn for a peek at and bite of Passover preparations.

 First Stop: The Pickles Guys

With pretty much everything pickled from cucumbers to watermelon {yes, watermelon!}, and freshly grated horseradish that will clear the worst sinus congestion, The Pickle Guys is your stop for the ultimate condiment spread. For those who don’t want to jump a train for the full Jewish tour, you can also find an outpost on the Lower East Side.

Keep Hands Out of Barrels

Please Keep Hands Out of Barrels

New pickles, 1/2 sours, 3/4 sours, full sours, hot new pickles, hot sour pickles -- something for everyone

New pickles, 1/2 sours, 3/4 sours, full sours, hot new pickles, hot sour pickles — something for everyone

The spoils

The spoils

Next Up: Eichlers — the Barnes and Noble of Judaica stores

An essential stop for bestsellers like The Easy-Shmeezy Guide to Yiddish and the essential cooking reference, Kosher by Design — Teens and 20-Somethings. Cooking for the Next Generation. I pretty sure Julia Child had this on her bookshelf.

Easy-Shmeezy

Easy-Shmeezy

Please buy this for me

Please buy this for me

And then to the Whole Foods of Kosher Food — Pomegranate.

An entire aisle dedicated to Matzoh! I’m told Shatzer Hand Shmura Matzohs are the best and so that’s what made its way home with me. And here’s an exciting secret I learned while browsing the Kosher aisles: for those of you that like Coca-Cola made the European way with sugar, instead of our American corn syrup version, corn products cannot be consumed during Passover, so you can get your hands on the real Coke for a limited time if you visit a Kosher specialty store. Look for this yellow bottle cap. Ahhhh!

Matzoh!

Matzoh!

Matzoh spoils

Matzoh spoils

Lunch break: David’s Restaurant

Flatbush is home to more middle eastern Jews, so I felt right at home ordering a platter of some darn good falafel, hummus, babaganoush and fluffy warm pita. Great stop to recharge and I’m told the Yemenite Soup is not to be missed — sadly, it was not going to be ready for another hour so we did miss this. Just another reason to go back.

David's Falafel

David’s Falafel

Subway ride to South Williamsburg >> Kehilath Yakov Matzo Bakery

South Williamsburg is a much stricter Orthodox Jewish community — think Payot, long black coats and hats — so I had to try to dress the part with a long dress, tights and covered arms. Regardless of how respectfully I dressed, I was clearly an outsider.

To say I felt like I was intruding on Santa’s Elves on Christmas Eve would be an understatement. This Matzoh bakery was executing at full-steam with 47 men each handling a specific task. It was Henry Ford’s assembly line of Matzoh {see first photo of this post}. The water guy, the mixer, the divider, the rollers, the transporters, the hole-punchers, the bakers. A process that must be completed in 18 minutes according to the Torah and that follows strict guidelines of cleanliness — and apparently does not include a woman standing in the corner overseeing this. Word to the wise, don’t show up a week before Passover and expect a tour with a smile. It was not well-received that I wanted a peek into the inner workings of the Matzoh process. But what few glimpses I did capture {and the brief explanation Avi was able to coerce one of the workers into sharing} were fascinating — and helped me to understand why these provisions cost $25/lb. This is not your ordinary grocery store-matzoh.

The Matzoh Inspection

The Matzoh Inspection Rack

 

Matzoh Man

Matzoh Man

Final Stop: Gottlieb Restaurant

It was a long, but memorable day. One that could only be capped off by a refreshing Dr. Brown’s cream soda, a plate of cholent and some noodle kugel. If you’re looking for an authentic kosher Jewish deli, this is your place. Forget about Carnegie or Stage Door. Hop on a train {arms and legs covered} and come here. Do it all.

Gottliebs Deli

Gottliebs Deli

 

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welcome to citrus-palooza

Citrus-palooza

Citrus-palooza

Welcome to citrus-palooza — a random tasting of commonly and more uncommonly known mainstream-citrus cousins and hybrids. The place where mandarins and tangerines mate to create the charmingly named, Pixie, and where intimidatingly named Sumo Oranges win over hearts {mine} and beat the competition handsomely.

Sage-Meyer Lemon Bread

Sage-Meyer Lemon Bread

To prepare for the pucker playoffs, we needed something to cleanse the palate — whole wheat bread with sage and meyer lemon zest sounded like a good fit. And to slather: lemon-sardine butter.

Sardine Butter

Sardine Butter

And now for the line-up:

Citrus Spread

Citrus Spread

Suggested order for tasting {sweet to tart}:

  1. Pixie Tangerine. What: cross between a king mandarin and kincy tangerine. Peel: light orange and easy to peel. Inside: Sweet, seedless, lower acidy makes this lady great for snacking. 
  2. Sumo Orange. What: cross between a mandarin and a california navel orange. Peel: thick and knobby with a top knot like a sumo wrestlers makes it extremely easy to peel. Inside: intensely sweet {in a good way} with no seeds. It took 30 years to develop in Japan, and its flavor lives up to the expectation that such a long training period will outshine the citrus competition.
  3. Murcott. What: cross between a tangerine and a sweet orange. Peel: smooth, deep orange and easy to peel. Inside: Sweet, but slightly tart. Similar in taste to a clementine. Deep orange in color with no seeds.
  4. Pomelo. What: native to southeast Asia, it is a hybrid of a grapefruit and orange. Peel: thick, smooth pale yellow peel with a thick spongy wall. Inside: Pale pink (lighter than a pink grapefruit) and very mild in flavor. Lacks the excitement of a grapefruit’s flavor.
  5. Meyer Lemon. What: cross between a lemon and an orage. Peel: smooth, deep yellow with orange hue, edible. Inside: pale yellow, milder tartness than a regular lemon.
  6. Kumquat. What: native to Asia-Pacific, trees can grow up to thousands of kumquats a year. Peel: thin, orange and edible. Inside: tart like a lemon, with a great burst of flavor. Great snacks or on salads.
  7. Mandarinquat. What: cross between a kumquat and a mandarin. Peel: oval shaped with knobby end. Inside: Lots of seeds, bright orange, and tart! Great for a margarita?!

And the winner is…

Citrus-palooza line-up

Citrus-palooza line-up

The Sumo Orange. Easy to peel and full of sweet, sweet flavor with the added bonus of no seeds and big slices means we can’t really think of a reason why you wouldn’t eat these all day long. Run to your closest Whole Foods or specialty market and get a grip on one of these prized treats. Citrus season is coming to a close and you don’t want to miss this show.

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Do This!: Italian Cooking Classes in Tuscany. Jet-Set to Villa Life: Eat, Drink and Be Italian!

6-Day All-Inclusive Tuscan Getaway at Villa Campestri

6-Day All-Inclusive Tuscan Getaway at Villa Campestri

Have you ever dreamed of jetting off to Italy, lounging in a Tuscan villa, inhaling the perfume of olive groves, all while sipping on a nice glass of chianti? Oh, and spending your days learning the art of Tuscan cooking and then eating your accomplishments under the Tuscan sun. Well, dream no longer. Writer, Historian and Food Authority Nancy Harmon Jenkins has planned two great trips this Spring.

Immerse Yourself in a 6-Day All-Inclusive Tuscan Cooking and Tasting Experience
March 25-31: with Chef Michele Forgione
(Montreal’s Osteria Venti)

or
April 22-28: with Chef Sara Jenkins
(NYC’s Porchetta, Porsena)
and World Famous Butcher, Dario Cecchini

Dario Cecchini Video

Learn to make pasta, focaccie and other Tuscan Specialties

Learn to make pasta, focaccie and other Tuscan Specialties

The All-Inclusive Scoop:

  • 6 nights accommodation at Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort
  • Week-long olive oil immersion focused on learning how to choose and use olive oil, harvest, production and cooking techniques, and the creation of flavor profiles
  • 3 structured extra-virgin olive oil tastings based on both excellent and defective olive oils
  • 4 cooking classes, focused on using olive oils in cooking and traditional, seasonal Tuscan cuisine with Nancy Harmon Jenkins and the Villa Campestri chef
  • Special demo and cooking class with Chef Michele Forgione (March) or Chef Sara Jenkins (April)
  • Visits to: Tuscan farmers market, cheese producer, grist mill, winery, and other related activities
  • Tuscan wine tasting with noted wine authority Burton Anderson
  • 5 lunches and 6 dinners (with vino), including two lunches at select local restaurants, one at a noted winery, and a final gala dinner at Villa Campestri
  • Transfer services within the tour itinerary
  • Guided visit to Scarperia, a town reknown for its handmade knives (its twin town is Laguiole, France!)

See Photos of Food52′s October Trip to Villa Campestri

All you need to do is get there! Pack your bags and buon viaggio!

Book March 25-31: with Chef Michele Forgione 
or
Book April 22-28: with Chef Sara Jenkins 

This Could Be All Yours!

This Could Be All Yours!…and a Nice Glass of Chianti

Or Bring Italy Home:
Homemade Fresh Mozzarella
Homemade Ricotta
Secret DiLaura Family Frittata with Sweet Italian Sausage
Homemade Gnocchi and Sauce: Channeling My Italian Grandmother
Grandma’s Italian Wedding Chicken Soup

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A Cook’s Holiday Gift Guide

We could all use a little help when it comes to our holiday hit lists — so much to buy, so little time. The last thing we want to be faced with is last minute purchases that just don’t feel right for the recipient. Hopefully the ideas below help stuff those stockings, stress-free. ‘Tis the season!

Exclusive Discounts on Perfect Presents for The…

  1. Cookware Maven: Handmade Vintage Copper Cookware and Bakeware
  2. Art Appreciator: Favorite Recipes Converted to Beautiful Illustrations
  3. Hungry Mind: Remedy Quarterly Subscription
  4. Party Host: Smartly-Shaped Charcuterie, Cheese and Chopping Boards
  5. Everyday Cook: Black Walnut Trencher Board
  6. Ultimate Entertainer: Fermin Spanish Iberico Charcuterie
  7. Urban Farmer — Adults & Kids!: Oyster Mushroom Growing Kits
  8. Cook Who Has Everything: Adopt a Truffle Tree and Adopt an Olive Tree
  9. Cocktail Connoisseur: Japanese Yarai Crystal Mixing Glass, Barspoon and Spherical Ice Tray
  10. Cooking Scientist: Modernist Cuisine at Home Cookbook
  11. Bountiful Baker: Organic Vanilla Bean Paste
  12. Eye for Design: Handmade Heirloom Housewares

A Cook's Holiday Gift Guide

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Last Minute Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

Looking for a little last minute Thanksgiving Feast inspiration?

While You Wait for the Bird
Autumn Manhattan {Herby Garnished Classic a la Tippling Bros.}
Fireside Sparks {Champagne Cocktail a la Tippling Bros.}
Homemade Ricotta and Melted Leeks
Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus
Za’atar-Pecorino Toasted Crostini

spiced sweet potato hummus

spiced sweet potato hummus

The Pilgrims Ate Soup
Best Butternut Squash and Green Apple Soup
Wild Child Broccoflower and Celery Root Soup

The Best Butternut Squash Soup

Sides Tom Will Love
Bursting Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta-Orange Reduction
Crispy Cayenne Roasted Potatoes
Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Breadcrumbs
Farro Salad with Steamed Kale and Roasted Pinenuts
Italian Sausage & Chard Stuffin’ Muffins
Flaky Cheese Straws, As Easy As Being Barefoot

Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta-Orange Reduction

Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta-Orange Reduction

The Grand Finale
Perfect Pear Cranberry Pie

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Set Your Thanksgiving Table Apart…

Just a few of my favorite food finds sourced for Food52 — you won’t find these handmade, artisanal items on Amazon. It’s a year to support artisans, small businesses, the people doing something with their own two hands. Whether you’re buying for your own kitchen or as a gift, you’ll appreciate the quality and story behind each item below.

With Napkins that Make Your Fork Look Cozy and Table Handsome (Save $20)

IceMilk Heirloomed Collection

IceMilk Heirloomed Collection

With Eric Ripert’s Favorite Spice Blends — An Out of the Ordinary Host Gift (Save $43)

La Boite Fall Spice Blends

Eric Ripert’s Favorite Spice Blends

With a Hello! w/ Personalized Holiday Cards from Hello!Lucky (40% off)

Hello!Lucky

With Pure Vanilla Bean Paste — Your Cookies, Whipped Cream, Pies and Guests will Thank You ($11 off)

Organic Vanilla

Organic Vanilla Paste and Extract

With Your Own Home-Grown Mushrooms — the Gift that Keeps on Giving and Keeps Kids Entertained (32% Off!)

Grow Your Own Oyster Mushrooms

Grow Your Own Oyster Mushrooms

With Handcrafted Neutral Bowls and Platters that Make Your Recipes Shine ($40 off and with Free Gifts!)

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Graeter’s Great ‘Scream — Midwest Team Takes On NYC

Graeter's 'Scream

Selection of Graeter’s ‘Scream

Graeter’s Ice Cream is not entirely new to me. My sister-in-law in grew up in Cincinnati, home to this fourth-generation family-owned churner, and has been speaking the praises of Graeter’s for years.  But until recently native fans had to rely on mail order if they  hoped to find their favorite treat outside of the midwest and I could only sample their scoops on return trips home to Michigan. Good news for NYers {and me}: last week I received an email announcing these infamous midwest-made pints are taking on the NYC artisanal food scene and will be available in all D’Agostino stores.

This announcement also offered to ship a few fan favs my way for a taste test. I, of course, didn’t want to be rude and decline such a thoughtful offer. And so arrived four frozen flavs — Chocolate, Chocolate Chip, Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip, Mint Chocolate Chip and the Ohio State-inspired Buckeye Blitz {chocolate-peanut butter ice cream chock full of peanut butter cookie dough}.

Graeter's Famous Massive Chocolate Chips

Graeter’s Famous Massive Chocolate Chips

The verdict of the taste test? As a Notre Dame alum, you’ll never hear me speaking the praises of the Ohio State Buckeyes, but in this non-football face-off, the Buckeye Blitz outperformed the rest of the competition in my book. You’ll never hear me turn down anything with peanut butter. The good news is the win was not a landslide — every single pint exceeded expectations. What really set these scoops apart was not some off the wall flavor combination like bacon and bourbon {which seems to be what all the new fangled ice cream kids are making these days}, but the simple quality of good ingredients. It only takes one bite of their massive — and I mean MASSIVE — chocolate chunks to know exactly what I mean. They aren’t hard, break-your-teeth, frozen bits of pseudo-chocolate — they’re soft, gooey, pieces of fudgey heaven. And this is coming from a girl who is not a chocolate addict.

It’s nice to see hometown heros moving to the big city. And while I’ve lived here for over 10 years, and have some favorite frozen finds, I am 100% cheering for this new line-up — the sampling won’t end after these pints are empty.

More ‘Scream Teams:
SF Best: Bi-Rite Ice Cream Done Right
I Scream, You Scream For MilkMade Handcrafted Ice Cream
Victory Garden: A Victorious Frozen Yogurt Twist
Goat Town’s Non-*Goat* ‘Scream

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Banish the January Blues in Mexico — Join Legendary Writer Betty Fussell For A Food Writing & Cooking Immersion

ingredients for squashflower soup

ingredients for squashflower soup

There’s not much going on in January except cold weather and post-holiday blues. To me, this sounds like the perfect time to jump on a jet plane and escape to Tepoztlan Mexico for a week of honing culinary skills with local women and perfecting your food writing with legendary journalist and writer Betty Fussell.

squashflower tamales

squashflower tamales

Start your day rapping words with Betty and end it wrapping squash flower tamales {and then eat them, of course!}

making tortillas in the market

making tortillas in the market

Learn the art of making your sentences sizzle and then throw your hand-pressed tortillas on the grill — you’ll never buy the ChiChi’s package again.

Margarita

Margarita

Master the mix your sentence ingredients and then shake up a Mexican cocktail {or two or three} that will put the frozen margarita machine to shame.

The Scoop:

  • January 4-13, 2013 — 9 nights, 8 days in legendary Tepotzlan, Mexico
  • Exclusive to an intimate 10-person group
  • All breakfasts at your hotel, plus 7 workshop lunches and 5 dinners
  • 5 morning writing workshops with Betty Fussell
  • 2 hands-on cooking workshops with village women
  • Market tours and participation in the village fiestas, including the famous Three Kings Day celebration
  • Opening sunset reception and closing banquet
  • Airport transfers between Mexico City and Tepoztlán
  • Guides, cultural events and health insurance for your entire trip

Ready, Set, Book

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Fall in Love with Sardines, Save Dinner

Bela Sardines. Photo by James Ransom for Food52

Bela Sardines. Photo by James Ransom for Food52

When I was a wee little one, I remember my dad coming in from an afternoon tending to his garden and popping open a can of sardines for lunch. Curious about these little guys, I was not. Usually his offer to share a bite was met with a prompt and firm “ewwwww, no.”

It’s taken me 30 years to question why these cans of conveniently packed, flavorful little fiddies get such a bum rap. I don’t think twice when cranking a can of tuna open to save the day when I have nothing in the fridge for lunch. I recently read an article by Nicholas Day on Food52 speaking the praises of sardines – in his case because it conveniently saves dinner in a pinch for his own children. He feeds his kids sardines? This made me take pause. Well why not.

And then I was contacted by BELA Sardines to see if their cans of fresh-packed {within 8 hours of being caught and never frozen} Portuguese sardines would be something we would be interested in selling in the Food52 shop. We popped a few cans open at the office, broke out the crackers and started snacking. They were good — really, really good. Each is slightly smoked and packed in either Portuguese extra virgin olive oil or tomato sauce {4 flavors to choose from}. Beyond just the flavor, there are other reasons to love these little guys — they’re low-mercury, sustainably caught, and full of healthy fats. They are a pantry staple everyone should pile high.

I’m a convert. To be perfectly honest, I would be happy opening a can of these, pouring a nice glass of wine and calling that alone a mid-week meal. But it doesn’t take much to use them in a slightly more creative way, with still minimal effort, and have a dish to be proud of. Go ahead, give sardines a chance — you may be surprised by a new love.

Need a Little Inspiration?
Linguine with Sardines, Fennel & Tomato
Sardines, Avocado and Radish Salad with Upland Cress
Sardine Butter

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Happy 100th Birthday Julia Child!

VIDEO: What Makes a Good Chef,
According to {Auto-Tuned} Julia Child:

Watch and thank me later. Bring on the roasted potatoes…

What Makes a Good Chef

Julia Child Birthday Tributes:
recipe goodness :: mastering the art of julia child’s salade nicoise #jc100
recipe goodness :: mastering julia child’s rolled french omelet
recipe goodness :: mastering the art of julia child’s chocolate mousse
Do This!: Celebrate Julia Child’s 100th Birthday 

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Do This:! Fragrance Meets Food with Aftelier’s Chef’s Essences

Aftelier Chef's Essences

Aftelier Chef’s Essences

You may have been to a bar recently where the mixologist sprayed a scent of some mysterious fragrance on the edge of your glass, and wondered if that’s how he got away with charging you $16 dollars for your drink. But you weren’t complaining as you downed that fancy cocktail speaking the praises of unexpected flavors and promptly ordered another. Adding fragrance to food and drinks is nothing new to the culinary elite, but since Mandy Aftel started her own line of essential oils after writing the book Aroma with Michelin-starred chef, Daniel Patterson, you can now add a dash of blood orange to your own vodka on the rocks or a drop of pink peppercorn to your vanilla ice cream. Sound crazy? Perhaps, but Mandy’s process of extracting the natural oils from these ingredients creates a softer, almost floral flavor that you can impart without pulling out your pepper mill or pulverizing a celery stalk into your bloody mary.

Pink Peppercorn meets Ice Cream

Pink Peppercorn meets Ice Cream (photo courtesy of Food52)

The oils are potent as they are completely extracted from the original ingredient, unlike most synthetic flavorings — Mandy recommends adding a drop or two to a teaspoon before adding to your dish to avoid the blunder of more pouring out and overpowering your creation {with 150 drops per bottle, these will last a long time.} Your first inclination may be to wonder why need a pink pepper oil when you can just grind pink peppercorns — would you do that into a chilled vodka, neat? Or why you would need blood orange when you can just squeeze the bright citrus yourself — would you do that over ice cream? These oils allow you to experiment with flavors and add an unexpected fragrance to a dish or cocktail that will put you on the level of any michelin-starred chef. Finish soups, create cocktails, a dash over fruit and my favorite, ice cream {I was serious when I suggested pink peppercorn — the hands down winner in our ice cream test session.}

Want to start playing with your food fragrance? Save $20 on the Food52 starter set HERE or select from any of her 50 essences. 

 

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Do This!: Saturday Snacking @Smorgusburg

Smorgusburg

Smorgusburg

People were surprised to learn that I had never been to Smorgusburg, a brooklyn flea food market on the Williamsburg waterfront. Frankly, after going last weekend, I’m a little surprised myself that it took me so long to spend a Saturday strolling the riverfront space that houses 100+ artisanal food stands. If you’ve got hankering for something you’ll probably find it at Smorgusburg — everything from fried anchovies to slow-roasted brisket can be had for a a few dollars and a brief wait in line. The later in the day you go the longer the lines, so my advice: showup at 11am when the stands open, do a full strolling scope before jumping in, mentally map your action plan and bring a friend who is willing to go halvesies with you so you can try as many things as you can stomach.

Cemitas Mexican Sandwiches

Cemitas Mexican Sandwiches

Cemitas caught our attention right away. Hola! Burrito Sunrise — eggs, beans, tator tots {yes tator tots!}, chipotle crema, and your choice of bacon or chorizo {or sans either for a veggie-friendly option}. This is no small snack, so either feed your hangover with a Cemita sammie or you’re definitely gonna want to split this guy — unless you want to be down for the count and knock yourself out of of the game for the rest of the day.

Cemita Burrito and Sammie

Cemita Burrito and Sammie

Moving on. Caffeine. Blue Bottle Coffee with NO line? Must stop here pronto. If you’re not already familiar with Blue Bottle Coffee, this beanery is a San Francisco transplant where on any given day you could easily wait 30 minutes for a made to order, single drip cup of joe. And why do we wait? Cause we’re suckers — but the coffee lives up to expectations.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee

Sunday Gravy

Sunday Gravy

Sit. Relax on one of the riverside benches. Share. Smile. This is some good Saturday living.  No time to digest — round two. Our choice, a roasted veggie with chevre bruschetta from Sunday Gravy. If we didn’t just have the breakfast burrito that frittata with roasted veggies was also looking awfully tasty. And the eggplant parmesan with paper thin layers of eggplant married with sauce and parm and laid to relax on a nice hunk of sesame Italian bread was a thing of beauty {mental note: next time}.

Sunday Gravy Goodness

Sunday Gravy Goodness

The grand finale: Mighty Quinn’s braised brisket. As we wandered around early on in the day we were advised that Quinn’s is the crowd favorite, usually drawing lines down the block. With that information, a line 30-people deep didn’t seem so bad. With one man carving, another assembling and a third taking money the line moved swiftly and the prized sandwich worth waiting for was quickly in my hands —  a soft bun, stacked high with tender brisket, dressed in barbecue sauce, pickled onions and a few crispy pickles.

Mighty Quinns Braised Brisket Sandwich

Mighty Quinns Braised Brisket Sandwich

On our way out we grabbed a Blue Marble Ice Cream cone — because why not, this excursion was meant for eating.

Blue Marble Ice Cream

Blue Marble Ice Cream

And snapped this shot of a grass-squatting offender. Smorgusburg success. If you fall into the camp of “haven’t been there yet” I suggest you get thee to the ‘burg.

Illiteracy in America

Illiteracy in America

More Brooklyn Excursions:
NYC Best: yes yes to Pok Pok
Do This!: Foraging for Food is F’ing Fun {in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with Leda}
Do This!: Brooklyn’s Depressingly Awesome Industry City Distillery Creates Handcrafted Vodka
NYC Best: Brooklyn’s Frej Should Be Your New Dining Kinfolk
Blue Bottle Coffee Brews One Brilliant Cup at a Time

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Father’s Day Foodie Gift Roundup

WINE-LOVER:
Award Winning Wines Any Dad Would Love {38% Off + $10 Gift Card}

EXCLUSIVE SUMMER WINE DUO FROM A 2012 WINEMAKER OF THE YEAR

EXCLUSIVE SUMMER WINE DUO FROM A 2012 WINEMAKER OF THE YEAR

GRILL-MASTER:
Add Some SFMade Artisanal Grill Goods to Your Grill-Master Arsenal! {30% Off + Free Shipping}

30% OFF S&S BRAND'S SFMADE BBQ SAUCE & SPICE RUB

30% OFF S&S BRAND’S SFMADE BBQ SAUCE & SPICE RUB

BATALI’S BEST FRIEND:
Italian Specialities You Won’t Find Stateside — Antipasto and Sweet Torrone {36% Off includes shipping}

36% OFF ITALIAN SPECIALTIES FROM GUSTIAMO, MARIO BATALI'S FAVORITE ONLINE SHOP

36% OFF ITALIAN SPECIALTIES FROM GUSTIAMO, MARIO BATALI’S FAVORITE ONLINE SHOP

SUNDAY BREAKFAST MASTER:
Straight from the Catskills — Maple Syrup, Honey Duo + Highly Sought-After Honeycomb {30%+ includes shipping}

30%+ OFF CATSKILL PROVISIONS RAW HONEY & MAPLE SYRUP COLLECTIONS

30%+ OFF CATSKILL PROVISIONS RAW HONEY & MAPLE SYRUP COLLECTIONS

THE DAD WHO HAS EVERYTHING:
A Tuscan Cooking Getaway with Chef Sam Hayward

ALL-INCLUSIVE TUSCAN COOKING GETAWAY WITH CHEF SAM HAYWARD AND WRITER NANCY HARMON JENKINS

ALL-INCLUSIVE TUSCAN COOKING GETAWAY WITH CHEF SAM HAYWARD

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Do This!: Dine with a Banker Turned Monk

Dine with a Banker Turned Monk

Dine with a Banker Turned Monk

Yes, you heard me correctly. When most people aim for Wall Street, they don’t typically land in a Monastery. But for Rasanath Dasa, this journey started early in life as a search for deeper understanding of what we’re all here for. While he pursued one path of societal-defined success, earning an engineering degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, an MBA from Cornell University, working as a strategy consultant at Deloitte and as an investment banker at Bank of America, he was simultaneously learning from the renowned spiritual leader Radhanath Swami and starting his lifelong practice of Bhakti Yoga.

Intrigued? So was I. I had the pleasure of dining with this banker turned monk and count it as one of the most unexpected evenings I’ve stumbled upon in NYC. With an enlightening story to share, Rasanath is hosting several small dinners a month as an opportunity to invite you into his world while enjoying a vegetarian meal cooked by monks and eaten in the traditional style at the monastery {think coconut curried vegetables with ginger, sweet potatoes and cauliflower, served over jasmine rice with cumin seeds}. You might have to get on the waitlist as these evenings are selling out weeks in advance, but you can book or add your name to the SideTour list HERE.

 

Coconut Curried Vegetables and Jasmine Rice with Cumin Seeds

Coconut Curried Vegetables and Jasmine Rice with Cumin Seeds

Can’t wait to add a monastic dining experience to your calendar? 

The Bhakti center is launching a summer lineup of other classes and events that sound just as cool as free opera in the park or a private supper club on the UWS.

Cooking Classes with a Monk

You’ve heard the expression, “you are what you eat.” We are indeed that, and so much more. Moods, attitudes, and energy levels are all intricately linked to our daily diet. Gita Wellness is a cooking class and dining experience, which explores the dynamic world of food and health, as unfurled by the culture of the Bhagavad-Gita.

Date and Time: Friday, June 1st, 7-9pm
Location: Bhakti Center (25 1st Ave.), 1st fl.
Course Fee: $25 (includes class and full-course meal)
Register: Click here and select ‘Gita Wellness’ under offerings of interest

A Monastic Twist on Dinner and a Movie

GS Summer Film Series is a special monthly event during the summer of 2012 that will take you on a unique cinematic tour of the human condition as seen through the eyes of the Bhagavad-Gita and three of its teachers. The Bhakti will be hosting  an evening movie, which will be followed by dinner and a discussion.

When: June 16th at 5:00 p.m. at the Bhakti Center {and July 21, Aug 18}
What: Memento, directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Guy Pearce. An entirely new foray into the realm of cinema and consciousness.
Register: Click here and select Summer Film Series under offerings of interest

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Memorial Day Recipe Round-Up

IT WOULDN’T BE A BBQ WITHOUT BOOZE 

Alton Brown’s Bourbon Mint Julep
Bottle of Baron {Refreshing “Island Cocktail” a la Tippling Bros.}

Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon
Kickin’ Ancho Chili Fresh Citrus Margarita
Pink Fizzy Lemonade Cocktails Beat the Heat
Smokey Margarita {a la Tippling Bros.}

Stand-Out Spanish Sangria
Summer Strawberry Chilled Chamomile Tea {non-alcoholic}
Spritzy Sunday Morning Citrus Cocktail {non-alcoholic}

SNACK’EMS {makes happy hour happier}

Avocado & Tropical Fruit Salsa {also good as an entree side}
Creole Roasted Fresh Corn-Tomato Salsa
Fresh Lime-Margarita Marinated Watermelon{double duty bites}
Inside-Out Scotch Eggs w/ Ground Lamb, Harissa Yolk & Panko Gremolata

Peppers Padron at Home
Rosemary, Truffle and Parmesan Chips or Fries
Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus
Union Square Bar Roasted Rosemary Nuts

SALADS 

Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad
Tomato, Basil & Feta Salad
The Ultimate Summer Slaw

PIZZA & BREADS {d’oh! why didn’t i try this yet}

Creative Crowd-Pleasing BBQ’d Pizzas
Red Chili-Lime Cornbread Muffins
Za’atar-Pecorino Toasted Crostini

FOR THE GRILL 

Bison, a Better Burger Worth Biting Into
Sesame Ginger Lime-Poached Cod
Pistachio-Encrusted Spring Lamb w/ Pickled Red Onions & Cumin Yogurt Sauce
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops

DESSERT {life is short, eat it first}

Alton Brown’s Bourbon Banana’s Foster w/ Bourbon Ice Cream
Banana Puddin’ Chocolate Cups
 {bottom of post}
Julia Child’s Chocolate Mousse
Violet’s Lemon Cheesecake with BBQ’d Summer Berries{bottom of post}

Creole Roasted Corn-Tomato Salsa and Chips

Creole Roasted Corn-Tomato Salsa and Chips


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Do This!: Celebrate Julia Child’s 100th Birthday

JC100Badge

Culinary icon Julia Child would have turned 100 years old on August 15th of this year. To honor her, I will be celebrating her legacy through JC100 {100 days of Julia} a national campaign involving restaurants, chefs, bookstores, and bloggers.

For Julia, a simple lunch of sole meunière — her first meal in Paris — was life changing and inspired her 40-year love affair with food and the start of a cooking revolution in America.

I’ll be preparing a number of her favorite and most beloved dishes and sharing them with you — I hope this encourages everyone to channel their inner Juuuuuuuulia and dirty up your kitchens, no matter how small they may be.

Bon Appetit!

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Do This: Salts You Should Own {and Why You Should Care}

Salt

Photo credit: James Ransom for Food52

Anyone who has been in my kitchen knows I’m crazy about salt {I love it so much that it was actually the topic of my Best woMan’s speech at my brother’s wedding — strange I know}. I have salts from all over the world, in pretty much every shape and color, and get great joy in treating salt as its own special ingredient. Whether seasoning a big roast with coarse sel gris or sprinkling light, flaky Maldon salt over my morning eggs, various salts impact every dish differently and I want to open your world to a pantry beyond the yellow umbrella-carrying lady. Salt is an ingredient in almost every dish we eat — so listen up!

We Put Salt on Almost Everything We Eat — So Shouldn’t You Care Just as Much About the Salt You Use, as You Do About Where Your Vegetables Come From?
We often take salt for granted as it’s seemingly so simple and abundant. Heck, it’s even on every restaurant table for “free.” But from the beginning of civilization until only about 100 years ago, it was one of the most sought-after and valuable commodities in human history. Salt has played a critical role in enabling us to preserve food, enter into trade {it’s the root of the word salary} and has even played a role in love & war. Salt is an indispensable ingredient to every dish we eat. It’s in our blood, tears, sweat and almost every part of the human body. Without it, we literally can’t live. So why do we limit the seasoning of our food to regular manufactured iodized table or kosher salt?

The Math Behind Artisan Salts
There’s a starter collection you can get from The Meadow Here. Assume these artisan salt collections each last you at least a year {will probably last a lot longer — a little pinch will do ya}.

Collection of 6 Artisan Salts:
$66 / 12 months = $5 / month = $0.18 / day = $0.06 per meal.  

Not bad when you consider how much you spend on every other ingredient you eat and cook with. And salt will never go bad. Isn’t it worth the $0.06 investment for beautiful grains that will add flare and flavor to each each dish? This is a question only you can answer as you start to experiment with different salts and different uses {The Meadow will also send a cheat sheet to guide you through each variety}.

Seasonal Salts

Photo Credit: James Ransom for Food52

10 Salts Defined {Courtesy of Food52}

Table Salt: Refined salt mined from underground salt deposits, table salt contains more sodium chloride (97% to 99%) than sea salt. This is what you usually find in salt shakers at dining tables and at restaurants. Most table salts contain additives such as anticaking agents and iodine, an essential nutrient.

Kosher Salt: Kosher salt, which originates from either the sea or the earth, is so named for its use in the preparation of meat according to Jewish dietary guidelines. However, not all Kosher salt is certified Kosher. Kosher salt dissolves easily and quickly, making it a good all-purpose salt. Popular brands include Morton and Diamond Crystal.

Sel Gris: Harvested from salt evaporation ponds, sel gris — “grey salt” in French — is also known as Celtic sea salt and is a coarse sea salt that is raked once salt crystals have sunk to the bottom of the ponds. Moist, granular, and chunky, sel gris is used as both a cooking salt and finishing salt. While it’s ideal for fatty meats and roasted root vegetables, Mark Bitterman also suggests using this mineral-rich salt in baking. Try it in a rustic tart crust, for instance.

Gros Sel: Another sea salt, gros sel is made up of large-grained crystals — hence its name in French, “large salt.” Keep it in a salt grinder for freshly ground sea salt, use it to create a salt crust on meat or fish, or use it to season pasta water.

Flake Salt: Produced by boiling or evaporating brine, flake salts have varying crystal structures and lower trace mineral content than other salts, including fleur de sel and sel gris. Used as a finishing salt for fresh foods such as salads, flake salt pops, giving a pleasant crunch to every bite.

Fleur de Sel: Hand-harvested from the same salt evaporation ponds as sel gris, this sea salt is collected by scraping salt crystals from the water’s surface before the crystals sink to the bottom of the evaporation ponds. Fleur de sel — “flower of salt” in French — is traditionally, though not exclusively, harvested in Guérande, Brittany. The delicate, irregular crystals gently dissolve, making it a great finishing salt. Try it on fish, pork and vegetables. If you can afford it, Bitterman suggests using fleur de sel as your go-to all-purpose cooking salt.

Hawaiian Sea Salt: This fine or coarse grained sea salt can be either red or black. Red Hawaiian sea salt gets its color from a natural mineral called Alaea, a volcanic baked red clay, while black Hawaiian sea salt gets its color from the addition of charcoal. Full of trace minerals, Hawaiian sea salt complements pork, seafood, ceviche and more.

Smoked Salt: This salt is slow-smoked over a wood fire to infuse the crystals with a deep, smokey flavor, making it ideal for grilled meats and heartier vegetables such as potatoes.

Seasoned Salt: Salt can be seasoned with a variety of different flavorings, including truffles, lemon, herbs and more. Truffles impart an earthiness to sea salt, making it an ideal flavoring for risottos, red meats, and egg dishes. A seasoned salt such as lemon flake salt, on the other hand, is great for cocktails or grilled vegetables.

Himalayan Salt: Hand-mined from ancient sea salt deposits from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan, Himalayan salt is rich in minerals and believed to be one of the purest salts available — hence its frequent use in spa treatments. It ranges in color from pure white to shades of pink and deep red. Hand cut into slabs, Himalayan salt is frequently used as a surface for serving food. Due to their ability to hold a specific temperature for an extended period of time, these slabs can be used for anything from serving cold ice cream to cooking fish, meats, and vegetables. Himalayan salt can also be used as a cooking or finishing salt. Or use it to rim the edge of a glass for a warm-weather cocktail.

Ready to Expand Your Pantry?

27% Off: Start with The Foundation and Seasonal Salt Collections from Salt Experts at The Meadow. A little goes a long way, so these salts will last you A LONG TIME.

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Mother’s Day Gift Idea Round-Up {or Just Delicious Things for Yourself}

Get creative this year! Instead of buying mom roses from the corner bodega at the last minute, plan ahead with these spectacularly lusty deals. There’s no better way to say I love you than with something she will savor.

BELLOCQ Tea — Evocative Artisanal Teas, Beautiful Packaging — 25% off + Free Shipping
Instead of roses:  A blend of organic lemongrass, organic lemon verbena, organic chamomile, organic lavender, organic rose petals, organic mint, organic sage, natural essence.

BELLOCQ Mother's Day Special

REMEDY QUARTERLY SUBSCRIPTION — Stories of Food + Recipes — 37% Off + Get Published!
 Instead of Hallmark:  Each issue of this small, sweet magazine is chock-full of tales, interviews, recipes, lovely illustration and typography all tied together with an evocative theme like Cravings, Stealing, or Adventure.

Remedy Quarterly All Issues

JUNE TAYLOR JAMS — Handmade Jams and Candies with Unique Flavors — 25% Off
Instead of a Potted Plant:  A Plant in a Jar. Conserves, Marmalades, Sugared Candies and Syrups fit for ice cream drizzling, Sodastream spritzing or really excellent mimosas. Flavors to drool over — Silver Lime & Rosemary, Strawberry Rhubarb Rose Geranium, Lisbon Lemon and Blood Orange –  you won’t find these anywhere else!

JuneTaylor Jams

CALIFORNIA OLIVE RANCH — Award-winning Olive Oil from Cali — 36% Off
Instead of Bubble Bath: Bathe in this duo of their best-selling varietals: the lively and fruity Arbequina and the robust and peppery Miller’s Blend.

California Olive Ranch

LA BOITE A EPICES — The spice blends Eric Ripert & Daniel Boulud Uses — 31% Off + Free Shipping
Instead of a Spicy Argument: These spice blends were created for the likes of top chefs around the world and now they are available for the home cook. With interesting blends such as N.11 Cancale — Fleur de Sel, Orange, Fennel or N.33 — MISHMISH crystallized honey, saffron, lemon, you don’t have to do much more to create perfectly flavored meal than sprinkle and pull out a pan. Use these on meat, veggies, eggs, in baking — the ideas are endless.

La Boite Spice Blends

CLUB W BOUTIQUE WINE CLUB — For the Perfect Dinner Party Wines — 50% Off + Free Shipping
Instead of Overpriced Veuve: Value Wines with a Story! Each bottle comes with a QR code that will show a brief video about the wine, flavor profile and suggested food pairings when scanned. Wines are hand-selected from boutique wine producers that you won’t find at the corner shop.

Club W Boutique Wines

Leave a comment — let me know when your mom thanks you! Happy Mother’s Day to all moms 

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Do This!: Foraging for Food is F’ing Fun {in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with Leda}

Leda Meredith's Foraging Tour in Prospect ParkNo, no, I’m not going to start living off the grid and shorning sheep to make my own clothes. But I did learn a very valuable lesson that foraging for wild edibles is not only fun and fairly easy once you know how to ID certain plants, but it also saves you the $12 /lb price that you would otherwise pay at the farmers’ market for these prolific wilds.  After a lovely two hour foraging SideTour with enthnobotonist and locavore expert, Leda Meredith, I came away with some great knowledge and edible treasures that I plan to do something spectacular with this week. Pokeweed and Field Garlic Tart anyone?

Interested in digging for edible gold?

Sign-up for Leda’s next Foraging Tour Here

So, first things first, some rules to abide by when foraging in public spaces like Central Park or Prospect Park:

  • There is no law against foraging, but there are laws against damaging park property, so don’t start cutting down trees and foraging for park benches.
  • There are laws against walking with gardening tools — keep your shovel at home!
  • You’re not supposed to take things out of the park. That said, there are numerous invasive, prolific plants that the park hires people to weed out, many of which are edible. This is where you come in. A new meaning to “will work for food.”
  • Forage a good 50 feet away from walking paths to avoid the “dog” path and undesired fertilizer.
  • The NYC public parks can’t afford to spray pesticides or any other chemicals, so it’s one of the safest green areas to forage. Steer clear of where they do scatter rat poison, however — these areas will be clearly marked.

So, what did we find?

Wild Violets

Leda Shows Off How to ID Wild Violets

Wild Violets

  • ID: heart-shaped leaves with teeth on edges. Purple flower.
  • Edible: Leaf and flower. Roots are toxic.
  • Medicinal: Good for respiratory issues.
  • How to Eat: Mix in a fresh salad or candy the flowers. Dry for tea.

Burdock aka Gobo Root (forgot to Snap a shot)

  • ID: Big fuzzy leaves with ruffled skirt edges. Harvest root of a first year plant before it flowers
  • Edible: Roots and immature flower stalks (use like Italian cardoons)
  • Medicinal: Good for skin issues and liver cleansing
  • How to Eat: Saute like kale
Bishop's Elder

Bishop's Elder

Bishops Elder 

  • ID: 3 parted leaves. Extremely invasive ground cover. In the celery family, so has a hairless stem that has a curve like a celery stalk and smells like celery when you smell the stem.
  • Edible: Fresh or dry stem and leaf.
  • How to Eat: Great for soup stocks.
Sassafras Leaf Trio

Sassafras Leaf Trio

Sassafras Tree

  • ID: 3 different leaf shapes on each stem: oval, mitten, three-prong “fork.” Leaf smells like root beer when you rip the leaves.
  • Edible: Root and leaves
  • How to Eat: Boil the root and use sweetener and seltzer water to make root beer.  Leaves can be used to make file powder for gumbo. Or just scratch and sniff the root beer scented goodness for kicks.
Red Bud Tree

Red Bud Tree

Red Bud Tree

  • ID: Buds grow out of the bark. Darker red/pink than a cherry blossom.
  • Edible: Flowers
  • How to Eat: In the bean family so tastes slightly like a bean. Serve in salads, add to ice cream or cookies.
Juneberry Tree

Juneberry Tree {will be a May-Berry this year!}

Juneberry Tree {no berries yet!}

  • ID: Smooth gray bark, 5 pointed berry that looks like a blueberry when the fruit blooms. Smooth oval leaf with teath.
  • Edible:  Berry
  • How to Eat: Just as you would a blueberry.
Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard 

  • ID: Serrated heart-shaped leaf. Grows tall. Small stems grow outward that become seed pods.
  • Edible: Leaf, root and stem/seeds
  • How to Eat: Leaves taste like broccoli rabe and can be prepared as such. Root tastes like horseradish. Stick like flower stems will become seed capsules and can be used as mustard seed.

Mugwort (forgot to Snap a shot)

  • ID: Serious invasive. White fuzzy stem, deeply divided pointed leaf, silvery-white underside of the leaf, spicy taste.
  • Edible: Leaves and stem
  • Medicinal: Muscle relaxer, will make you break a sweat if you need to cleanse, use as a bath or as a tea, good for stress and unblocks just about everything. Will also make you have vivid dreams if you put under you pillow!
  • How to Eat: Best for seasoning to add a little spice.
Pokeweed

Pokeweed

Pokeweed 

  • ID: Extremely prolific, but only in-season for 3 weeks. Will come back in the same spot each year, so once you find your hunting ground, you can easily go back.
  • Edible: Whole thing — leaves and stem. But once it gets bigger and branches out and the stem becomes dark magenta it becomes toxic and you don’t want to eat it any longer. Best when it is only one stalk.
  • How to Eat: It’s like asparagus! Have to double boil it first — blanch in one pot, drain and then blanch in a second pot of boiling water. Saute it, grilled it, roast it, you name it!
Dandelion Greens

Dandelion Greens {which will be bitter now that they have flowered!}

Dandelion Greens 

  • ID: Serrated leaf, yellow flower, low to the ground.
  • Edible: Early Spring the leaves are best before they flower — then they get bitter. The roots and flowers are also edible and apparently very tasty.
  • Medicinal: The root will release a milky sap that are good for warts.
  • How to Eat: Good in a salad or lightly sauteed. Flower can be used to make wine! Recipe here
Lamb's Quarters

Lamb's Quarters

Lambs Quarters 

  • ID: White dusty powder on the leaves.
  • Edible: Leaves and stems.
  • How to Eat: Rinse well and saute. Off the charts nutritious compared to spinach!
Wild Garlic

Wild Garlic

Field Garlic 

  • ID: Looks like chives, hollow stem, smells like garlic
  • Edible: Whole thing — bulb to stem.
  • How to Eat: Just like a chive — anything you want a mild garlic flavor added to.
Samora Elm

Samora Elm

Siberian Elm Samaras 

  • ID: Small seed in a green translucent leaf.
  • Edible: Whole seed/leaf when tender enough to pierce the seed with a fingernail.
  • How to Eat: On a salad, in a muffin or just as a field snack.
Spice Bush

Spice Bush

Spice Bush 

  • ID: Smells spicy when break the leaf. Oval leaf with a lopsided point at the end. Tastes like all spice.
  • Edible: Leaf
  • How to Eat: Great for iced tea. infuse or make sun tea. Don’t boil or will get bitter flavor.
Other Wild Things

Other Wild Things

Other Wild Things 

  • ID: Shirtless Man Hanging Upside Down in a Tree

The Booty — Violets, Red Bud, Pokeweed, Field Garlic…stayed tuned for a MUST MAKE TART recipe coming later this week. Olive Oil Crust, Greek Yogurt Dollops and Wild Goodies…

Wild Edible Booty

Wild Edible Booty

Note: Although these pictures and notes can serve as introductions to wild edibles, I have not provided extensive ID characteristics in the descriptions for someone unfamiliar with the plants to safely identify them. If you’re interested in venturing out to forage, I recommend doing online research or signing up for an introductory tour with Leda before chomping on random weeds.

More Leda and Brooklyn Coolness:
Do This!: Learn Lacto-Fermentation {Kimchi! Chutney!} with Leda Meredith
Do This!: Brooklyn’s Depressingly Awesome Industry City Distillery Creates Handcrafted Vodka
NYC Best: Brooklyn’s Frej Should Be Your New Dining Kinfolk

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Do This!: Brooklyn’s Depressingly Awesome Industry City Distillery Creates Handcrafted Vodka

Industry City Distillery

Down a quiet brick-laid industrial street, on the edge of Sunset Park and Greenwood Brooklyn, lies an undiscovered gem that has the makings of being our very own NYC Willy Wonka factory. But instead of chocolate, the team behind Industry City Distillery is mastering the art of handcrafted sugar beet vodka. And handcrafting their own letter-pressed labels with a reclaimed 1930s machine to boot — Depressingly Awesome indeed!

1930s Letterpress Machine for Handcrafted Vodka Labels

Rich Showing Off the Depressingly Awesome 1930s Letterpress Machine for Handcrafted Labels

You’ve heard the catch-phrases bean-to-bar, grain-to-glass, farm-to-table — these guys are bringing us still-to-spirit. After taking over the 6,000 sq ft. space only six short months ago, the team of six bearded Brooklyn brains have built an in-house kitchen, machine workshop, laboratory, distillery and bottling station to dissect and build the entire process of distilling vodka by hand. And they have their first product run coming to market next week on April 20th — did you hear me when I said this started only six short months ago? Again, Depressingly Awesome. With an intense focus on efficiency and controlling every stage to keep costs low, they have built their own stills to tweak the entire process, using different grades of heat for incoming an outgoing product to share supply and waste lines.

Industry City Distillery Stills

Dave Shows Off the Industry City Distillery Stills and Machine Workshop

Why is this cool? Because lighter alcohol will vaporize at different heat points, they have created a fractional still that enables them to extract different types of alcohols at different heats  and then selectively add these back together for the final product {or handmade cleaning supplies}, wasting nothing. They call these “the cuts” or “the flavor character,” which they are constantly experimenting with to mix at different ratios, producing a range of flavors akin to sweeter, buttery and even rubbery vodkas {I tasted it — it was booty!}. True to the Wonka nature of the tour, we sat down in the handcrafted kitchen for a tasting — beakers lined up in front of us and droppers at the ready to mix and match and see just how quickly a vodka can go from smooth to robust.

And Now for a Vodka Tasting

And Now for a Vodka Tasting

Tom, Our Fermented Friend

Tom, Our Fermented Well-Loved Friend

To put this production efficiency-flavor controlled process in perspective, a typical big-industry vodka is distilled 5 times. It’s boiled and produced from 5 cuts. Industry City Distillery passes the product through their fractional still once and from it, they take 30 cuts! The product is also made from beet sugar, instead of cane sugar as it has a higher energy density and they’re making their own algae-encapsulated yeast beads {meet Tom, the inaugural batch that has been put through the test-lab ringer} in a small climate-controlled, and apparently groundbreaking, fermentation environment that they plan to open-source in the future.

Impressed? Intrigued? Totally geeked out and ready to sample? Good news, Industry City Distillery’s inaugural product launch is happening April 20th and you can get your hands a bottle of Industry City Distillery “No.2″ Vodka by pre-ordering at DrinkUpNY here and for a limited time it’s on sale for 25% off. I’ll drink to that! Want to know more? Check-out their website for cool diagrams, photos and more about the secret sauce — oh, and sign-up for their newsletter so stay in the know.

More Brooklyn Gems You Should Know About:
Do This!: Learn to Forage in Prospect Park for Edible and Medicinal Plants with Expert Leda Meredith
NYC Best: Brooklyn’s Frej Should Be Your New Dining Kinfolk
Blue Bottle Coffee Brews One Brilliant Cup at a Time
Rustic Space Features Really Good Wood-Burning Oven Pizza @Roberta’s
NYC Best: Source Your Spices and Specialty Foods @ Sahadi’s

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