Let Them Eat Cake

by in View All Posts, August 17th, 2009

For years, I’ve listened to all of my older relatives rave about my long-deceased great grandmother Rose’s graham cracker cake. I never had the opportunity to taste it, as she passed away while my mother was pregnant with me, but everyone loved how pudding-like, dense, and delicious the cake was.

Rose never shared her secret of how to make it with anyone, but did leave behind a very cryptic recipe card with no instructions other than “beat egg whites separately.” Several relatives had tried it, but none could duplicate the pudding-like consistency. One of my cousins recently e-mailed me a scan of the card and I found the challenge to be irresistible.

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Brian Boitano is Taking Questions!

by in View All Posts, August 17th, 2009

brian_boitano_for_web3World famous figure skater, Brian Boitano is hosting a brand new show, What Would Brian Boitano Make? The FN Dish will sit down to chat with Brian on Wednesday, and this is your big chance to fire away with all your burning questions. Need some tips on your triple axle? Ever wonder what an Olympian eats for breakfast? Here’s your chance to find out. Post all your questions in the comments section, and we’ll pick a few to ask on Wednesday.

It Came From The Library: Julie & Julia Edition

by in News, August 14th, 2009

As noted by the sharp media critics over at EatMeDaily, the real star of the culture storm that is Julie & Julia turns out to be a book. Check the numbers: Since the film’s opening, Julia Child’s seminal Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 has been Amazon’s overall number 1 (now 2) bestseller. Which leads one to wonder whether, in addition to rekindling America’s love affair with Julia, Julie & Julia will also mark a resurgence of interest in French cuisine. Is the movie likely to alter in a significant way the place of French cuisine in American culture? Does Julie & Julia shut the door on the era of the freedom fry?

The latter, a bit, perhaps. Maybe the film will make a tiny dent in our national Francophobia. But as for restoring French hegemony to matters of cooking and dining: very unlikely. While there have been anecdotal reports of cooking classes selling out (a trend the recession started) and bistros filling-up, the social forces behind the declining status of French cuisine — the globalization of taste, the democratization of fine dining and international travel — are just too broad and well-established. Today’s center of culinary gravity lies solidly in the Mediterranean, somewhere between Rome and Barcelona, perhaps inching in the direction of Athens, and for all their butter-drenched magnetism, neither Julia nor Julie nor Julie & Julia are likely to move it.

Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian

A Chat with Melissa d’Arabian

by in View All Posts, August 14th, 2009

melissa_resize_for-webMelissa d’Arabian may be a Food Network Star, but let me tell you – she’s as real as they come. Between hosting Ten Dollar Dinners and taking care of her four little girls, she’s always on the move. Even still, she made time to chat with me about her new show, the big move to Seattle, and life after The Next Food Network Star.

Secretary Confidential: Can you give us a little sneak peek into Ten Dollar Dinners?

Melissa d’Arabian: I’m really excited about sharing my braised pork and black beans. That is actually a recipe from what I call “bean night,” which is really “inexpensive protein night.” At least one night a week I’ll make something that incorporates budget ingredients, like pork shoulder and black beans. It’s a great way to cut my grocery bill, but the dish still feels special. I used this recipe for a dinner party for 30 women and it cost me $58.
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Seed Saving

by in In Season, August 14th, 2009

Now is a great time to start thinking about saving seeds for next season, which will make next year’s crop an even bigger bargain. It’s also one of the smartest ways to encourage an increasingly healthy and abundant garden year after year, since seeds you save from this season are naturally engineered toward your distinct climate and soil.

Different seeds have different needs (for example, tomato seeds need special processing), but here are a few basic tips to help you get started:

  • Chose fully ripe, healthy, blue ribbon veggies from your garden as seed saving candidates. Save seeds from peppers that have reached their final color, squash that is fully grown, healthy, and ripe, and mature, evenly-shaped beans.
  • Separate seeds from the fruit or pulp if necessary, and rinse well in a strainer. Lay the seeds out in a single layer to dry completely for two to three days. A fully dried seed should crack in half easily (discard broken seeds). Beans can be dried in their pods on the plant. Then pick, open, and drop seeds into a pouch.
  • Save seeds in an envelope in a dry, cool place, well-labeled with instructions for the next season.

Use your seeds within one year for best results, and swap them with your friends and neighbors for an even more diverse garden next season.

For a plant-by-plant guide for best seed saving practices, visit the International Seed Saving Institute at SeedSave.org.

Sarah Copeland, Recipe Developer and Good Food Gardens Spokesperson

Ike Jime: It Only *Looks* Like a Snuff Film

by in View All Posts, August 13th, 2009

The French Culinary Institute (my culinary alma mater, though I do have to admit it was not nearly this cool when I was there) has a fascinating two-part article up on their site today about the Japanese Ike Jime method of killing fish, and its effect on fish’s neurobiology (and thus taste and texture).

It’s a little CSI: Fish, but entirely worth the read: Part 1 and Part 2. [via]

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer

This

by in View All Posts, August 12th, 2009

is why I live in fear of messing up at work — wouldn’t you, if this were your boss?

grrrrrDanielle LaRosa, Assistant Culinary Producer

:(

by in View All Posts, August 11th, 2009

Too Hot to Cook?

by in View All Posts, August 11th, 2009

watermelon-feta-saladl_s4x3_lg

August is No-Cook Month on FoodNetwork.com, and we worked hard to find 31 recipes that don’t require any heat to prepare. (We didn’t want it to turn into 31 days of tuna sandwiches.) But, with a lot of surfing around, we ended up with a nice selection of gazpachos, salads and sandwiches, mixed in with some great side dishes and no-cook desserts (check out Paula’s Not Yo’ Mama’s Banana Pudding).

claire-robinson_med_medMy favorite no-cook option is always a salad, and one of my favorite new shows on Food Network is Claire Robinson’s 5 Ingredient Fix. Luckily, Claire actually did a No-Cook Dinner episode of her show recently, so I put together Claire’s Antipasti Chopped Salad for a quick, light dinner. It was fantastic!
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Soylent Green is Sustainably-Raised People

by in View All Posts, August 10th, 2009

So I’ve been moving further and further into this strange, semi-justifiable food-fascist bubble, and it’s really started to color the way I see things. Since the vast majority of my groceries come from my CSA, the Union Square greenmarket, or Chelsea Market, my occasional trips to regular — or even bougie — grocery stores have turned me into the sort of person, usually a recent arrival from a Communist country, who shuffles around awkwardly in the produce aisle, baffled by the phenomenon of choice.

Except so: I write this as I try, as I have been trying for the last 13 minutes, to stir chocolate-flavored soy protein isolate into water in a manner such that it doesn’t clump. This appears to be well-nigh impossible, or at least out of my reach. Why am I drinking chocolate-flavored soy protein isolate? Because, well, recently-acquired weightlifting obsession = massive, gigantic protein needs. Would it be delightful to be able to fulfill my protein needs with trust-fund chicken from Violet Hill? Of course. Can I afford that? No. Is chocolate-flavored Soylent Green preferable in my mind to non-trust-fund chicken not from Violet Hill or similar? Hate to say it, but yes.  And so chocolate-flavored Soylent Green it is.

Though this office is a weird place to be drinking chocolate-flavored Soylent Green. I’m debating a brown paper bag for my next round.

Rupa Bhattacharya, Culinary Writer