Posted by: Food Lover | February 12, 2018

Japa Bowl Shares Their Favs!

Last night’s Off The Menu event was a great success! An intimate group of eight joined us at Cafe Japa Bowl where the Chefs prepared their personal favourite Japanese dishes with ingredients available to them locally. This was our first event, and the feedback we got was great. We’re looking forward to doing another event in April!

Since it was such a cold evening, Japa Bowl greeted us with warm Macha tea. Once we had warmed up they served a lovely sake, welcoming us with an overflow pour. The sake cups (called ochoko) are placed into a wooden Masu box. The sake is poured until it overflows into the box. This is a traditional way to show appreciation and express generosity. It is also an act of celebration, suggesting we should live in the moment, and enjoy the fleeting moment being shared.

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An ochoko in a wooden masu box filled with sake!

We started with an amuse bouche – marinated lotus root.  We love this dish, it is actually made from the stem of the lotus flower. It has a crisp taste and texture similar to jicama.

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Marinated Lotus Root

The spicy salad was served with an option of pork belly or marinated beef. Here they let their love of Korean cuisine come through with the tasty dressing.

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Spicy Pork Salad

Next, we were served a delicate buttered scallop with red pepper and green onion. In Asian cuisine, the scallop is served with more of it left intact. A couple of our dinner guests found this off-putting at first, but they were brave and tried it – and loved it! That’s part of what these Off The Menu events are intended to do – introduce people to new things, give them a chance to learn, and push their boundaries!

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Buttered Scallop

This was followed up with tempura kake and shrimp. Kake refers to a mix of vegetable strips which are fried in tempura batter. It’s very popular in Japanese homes, where it is often a way to use up vegetables to prevent food waste. A favourite comfort food for many, reminding them of home.

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Kake and Shrimp Tempura

We were thrilled to be served soba style ramen noodles, which is a personal favourite of ours. The ramen noodles were served in a very rich sauce that had the heat of wasabi contrasted with a delicious sweetness. This was served with nori (roasted seaweed) and green onion. This is a much-loved summer dish in Japan as the broth is served cold. Rumour has it this will make an appearance on their menu come spring.

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Soba Style Ramen in Sweet Wasabi Sauce

Chicken karaage made the menu by popular request! Delicious, moist chicken in a marvelous crispy batter with a mildly spicy, creamy sauce.

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Karaage Chicken

Our first dessert was a warm bowl of Zenzai-Oshiruku, a sweet red bean soup. This is a winter favorite in Japan and often served as part of New Years celebrations.

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Zenzai-Oshiruku

For the last dish diners had an option of ice cream: mochi, red bean or green tea. Mochi is pounded sticky rice that is wrapped around ice cream. It has an addictive soft and chewy texture.

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Mochi Ice Cream

If you’d like to be invited to the next event, please DM us or send us an email at culinaryslut@gmail.com. Those who get a direct invitation will get priority access, as we want to keep these events small and intimate.

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Posted by: Food Lover | February 10, 2018

Off The Menu: Japa Bowl

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We’re having our first Off The Menu event!  At these events, we will go to ethnic chefs and invite them to create the meals they love most.  They can be personal favourites, or dishes from their countries that never make the menu or even menu items that are served without adjustments for local tastes. It’s the food they love, made their way.

We invited an intimate group of 8 people (10 if you include us) to a special dinner at Japa Bowl Cafe. Even we don’t know what is being served.  You can follow the story live on our Instagram!
 https://www.instagram.com/culinary_slut/

If you’d like an invite to the next event please email us at culinaryslut@gmail.com

 

Posted by: Food Lover | January 11, 2018

The Cure: Saskatoon’s Artisanal Charcutarie

There’s something special about a good Charcuterie board – they’re so simple: meats; cheeses; olives; some pickled vegetables; maybe a nest of arugula; and, bread. And yet, they can be so luxurious. We’ve enjoyed them all over the world, but we’ve encountered some of the best right here in Canada. You can just tell when a charcuterie has been lovingly put together, with a great selection of fine quality cheese and richly flavoured meat.

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A Custom Charcuterie Board By the Cure: Capocollo, Prosciutto, Bresaola (beef), and Terrine. Cheeses: Parmesan, Brie and Blue Cheese. Fruit and Nuts: Blueberries, Grapes, Raspberries, Green Apple, Almonds, Pistachios.  Vegetables include fermented items such as local radish, cucumbers, artichokes, onion, garden carrots (from Joel’s garden).  Regular and red wine mustard seed. A couple of dollops of creamed honey. Apple and wild blueberry chutney.

The Discovery

We discovered our most recent decadent indulgence upon ordering the Salumi (the Italian name for a charcuterie) at Taverna Italian Kitchen in Saskatoon. After a long work week it was time to unwind with good food and wine, and Taverna’s warm familiar hospitality was just what we needed to soothe our souls. We had settled on a night of small plates, so we could enjoy a variety of flavours. When Tasos, Taverna’s owner, came to greet us he told us excitedly that we had to try the new Salumi plate, “We’ve discovered a new local source for our cured meats, you’re going to love it!” How could we resist? We decided to pass on the small plates and order a large Salumi as a meal for the two of us.

Tasos did not disappoint; the Salumi – particularly the meats – was glorious. Impeccable flavours, with just the right amount of sumptuous fats and balanced salt. Mixing and matching the selection of meats and cheese, with the olives, arugula, and peppers (oh, and wine, don’t forget the wine!) made for a hedonistic feast. We had to know where he had found such delicious cured meat – we so badly wanted to stock our fridge.

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The Cure’s duck confit: cooked at our home with green beans and truffled gnocchi

We learned that two young men in Saskatoon had started to cure their own meats. At the time they weren’t selling to the public. At first, our only source of these delicious cured meats was an evening at Taverna (such a chore!); you can only imagine our delight when The Cure started to make an appearance at the Saskatoon Farmers Market. Not only did they provide a delectable selection of ham prosciutto, a variety of salamis and pancetta, they started to make duck breast prosciutto (always a smash hit at our house parties). Then came the viand glacé, which took our sauce recipes to new heights. Our hearts skipped a beat when we saw that they had prepared duck confit, a pre-cooked wonder that allowed for quick, easy and wildly luxurious dinners at home. As we got to know Lorenzo, he told us about guanciale – and how it could be used to make the best carbonara we’ve ever had. It’s taken our home cooked carbonara to a whole new level of richly delicious pleasure.  Their beautiful and varied Charcuterie boards are always popular host gifts when we’re dining at a friends place – and The Cure is kind enough to provide a beautiful board and bowls as needed (to be returned afterwards).

About The Cure

The Cure is the creation of Saskatoon’s own Joel Hassler and Lorenzo Brazzini, who hails from Perugia, Italy. Just recently we were able to talk to them at their production facility, which will soon open to the public as a retail outlet.

Where did they train?

Joel trained at the culinary program at SIAST (now SaskPolytechnic) and worked at several Saskatoon restaurants including Prairie Harvest Cafe and the Saskatoon Club. Lorenzo trained in Italy, where they offer culinary training as a high school curriculum stream. Lorenzo’s passion for food and adventure led him to travel the world, working in the kitchens of places like London and various cities in Australia.

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Left: Lorenzo Brazzini  –  Right: Joel Hassler

How did the two of you meet?

Eventually, the road brought him to Saskatoon and it was at the Saskatoon Club that Joel and Lorenzo first met. They both spoke fondly of their time there, the warm supportive environment and the license they were given to experiment in the kitchen. It was at the Saskatoon Club that they first started to experiment with curing meats.

Why “The Cure Charcuterie”?

As we chatted we asked why they have chosen to take this entrepreneurial path rather than continue to work in restaurants (they clearly have the talent to succeed in that space). We’ve often heard from others in the restaurant industry that the hours are grueling – 17 hour days are not uncommon – and little time for a personal life. We asked Joel and Lorenzo if this had been their experience in the business, and if this influenced their decision to strike out on their own.

“That’s certainly how the industry was when we first started, and we were lucky at the Saskatoon Club where treated us really well. But that old idea that you have to be “married to your kitchen” is beginning to change. People want to see their families, to visit friends, to have hobbies, to live and laugh. And the change was really quite sudden, as a new generation began owning and running restaurants. ”

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Prosciutto

There was another impetus to starting the new venture. When the Saskatoon Club closed for renovations, they took it as a sign that they were meant to go out into the world on their own. “We saw an opening in the Saskatoon market, no one was really doing it. Some restaurants did a few things for themselves, but there was no one who devoted their attention to cured meats.”

What are some of your biggest “hits” at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market?

“The mixed pack always sells well, probably because it’s essentially an instant meat platter for people. The bresaola is always a hit, though because of limited access to supply it’s a challenge for us to keep it stocked. No question that the people who buy the guanciale tend to be return customers; it’s a tough product to find here. Finally, we’ve had many requests for us to have our duck products – confit and duck breast prosciutto – available on a regular basis. We’re working on a consistent, quality and local source for ducks to allow us to do just that as we love those products and peoples’ response to them.”

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Bresaola

How has the business grown?

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Sobrassada: a spreadable Spanish style salami

They wanted to build a solid foundation and focused on developing a regular supply of “the basics” that restaurants could count on – things like prosciutto and salami. That’s not as easy as it sounds; we learned this is a business that requires careful thought and planning as inventory – particularly for restaurant clients – needs to be planned out anywhere from 18 to 24 months in advance! Once they established a stable base of Saskatoon restaurants and vendors (20 to date: see list below), they could focus on playing a bit with new offerings and sharing them at the Saskatoon Farmer’s Market.

“That’s what we want to do at the retail location. There will always be a few of the tried and true basics available, but we want to constantly try new things, to offer new selections. We’re looking forward to doing fermented and preserved products as well. We don’t want to get bored, so our customers can always expect a surprise when they come through our doors.”

What’s most rewarding for you?

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Pork legs ranging from  6 months to a year and a half in age.

Joel is clearly excited by the opportunity to develop with new offerings. It was such a pleasure to see his eyes light up as he talked about experimenting with a new range of pickled and fermented products – as well as new ideas for cured meat products. The initial list – mustards, pickled and lacto fermented vegetables (like cucumber, carrot, cabbage, onion, radish, mustard seed), terrines, paté, fresh sausages, and porchetta – have us salivating in anticipation.

As they gave us a tour of their temperature and humidity controlled curing lockers, it became clear what excited Lorenzo: with a broad smile he chatted about how very pleasing it was to see the lockers full and perfectly ordered. “It is such a long process. We watch them [the various meats] hang there for months, checking the temperatures, smearing them with fat, looking them over carefully each day, waiting for the moment when they’re ready. Then finally taking them down, cleaning them and cutting into them. Seeing that perfectly cured meat for the first time; it’s so satisfying.”

The payoff!

We’re certainly grateful for their labour of love, and we know a lot of other people in Saskatoon are as well. We particularly love ordering custom charcuterie plates for gatherings at our house and as gifts to anyone hosting us at their homes. There is no solid date for the opening of their retail location, but they know it will happen soon, potentially early in 2018. For now, you can catch them every weekend at the Farmer’s Market, and get in touch with them online. Make sure to follow their Instagram account; we love to check in and see what’s in store.

Where to find them:

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Spicy Salami, similar to Calabrese. Beef salami in the background.

Facebook:
facebook.com/thecure306

Instagram:
instagram.com/thecuresk

Saskatoon Farmer’s Market:
Saskatoonfarmersmarket.com

By Email:
thecuresk@gmail.com

Oh, and here’s that list of YXE and area restaurants and vendors where you can enjoy Joel and Lorenzo’s work:

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Capocollo

Taverna
Saskatoon Club
Congress
Hometown
Saskmade
Flint
Drift
Little Bird Patisserie
Calories
Una
Night Oven
Hollows  (pancetta only)
University Club
Caboose catering
Il Secondo
Soul Foods
Shift (at the RemaiModern)
Aroma (Radisson Hotel)
Dakota Dunes
Takeaway Gourmet (Regina)

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Are you passionate about Charcuterie and Salumi? Here are some great books for you to enjoy!

Charcuterie: How to enjoy, serve and cook with cured meats     View On Amazon!

Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion
View it on Amazon!

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Handmade Charcuterie Board
View It On Etsy

 

Posted by: Food Lover | September 22, 2017

The Serious Eats Guide to Ramen Styles

J. KENJI LÓPEZ-ALT

Hi, I’m ramen. You may remember me from such bowls as “First Dish I Learned to Cook On My Own,” the ever-popular “Morning After Peach Schnapps-Fueled College Dorm Room Party,” “Don’t Tell Mom The Microwave Is Dead,” or, one of my more subtle, emotional works, “Oriental Flavor.”

Despite its popularity among the cash-strapped and the sodium-starved, the world or ramen extends far beyond the instant variety we grew up on. Originating in China, alkaline noodles served in soupy broth have been in Japan for well over a century, but like pizza in America, only became widespread after World War II. Troops returning from overseas had developed a taste for the stretchy noodles, and the inexpensive ingredients—wheat flour, bones, and vegetables—made them an attractive dish for restaurants to serve.

Nowadays, ramen is high in the running for national dish of Japan. Museums have opened dedicated to its history. The instant ramen noodle was voted as the greatest Japanese export of the 20th century in a national poll (placing ahead of karaoke machines, walkmen, and Kurosawa films). And, just as with pizza in the U.S., regional styles and specialties abound with soups, noodles, and toppings, all varied according to local tastes, ingredients, and cultures.

I’m not going to even pretend that a comprehensive style guide of all the ramen out there is possible, but we’ll do our best to give you something to noodle over.

The Broths

You often see ramen categorized into four classes: shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), miso (fermented bean paste), and tonkotsu (pork), which doesn’t make particular sense, as the first three are flavorings, while the fourth is the broth base. It’s sort of like saying “there are four basic types of pizza: Neapolitan, Sicilian, New York, and pepperoni.”

While it’s true that even in Japan, some folks see those four classes as distinct styles, there are plenty of cases where there are overlaps and outliers. For instance, what would you call a creamy, opaque, heavy ramen that’s made entirely with chicken bones? It doesn’t fall neatly into any of those categories, but it certainly exists.

Instead, it makes much more sense to categorize ramen broth first by its heaviness, then by the soup base ingredients, and finally by the seasoning source. This classification system, used by some Japanese sources, can be combined to cover pretty much every bowl of soup-based ramen in existence.

Classification by Heaviness

Heaviness is classified as either kotteri (rich) or assari (light). Kotteri broths will be thick, sticky, and usually opaque, packed with emulsified fats, minerals, and proteins from long-boiled bones. Opaque white bone broths are also known by their transliterated Chinese name, paitan. Assari broths are clear and thin, usually flavored with more vegetables, fish, or bones cooked relatively briefly at a light simmer so as not to cloud the broth.

It’s a sliding scale bordered on the kotteri side by Sapporo-style miso ramen that comes served with a pat of butter; and on the assari side with the lighter, clear seafood soups of Hakodate.

Classification by Broth Base

The broth base is the main ingredients simmered to make the soup. This can range from animal bones—pork, chicken, beef, and fresh fish being the most common—to even lighter broths made with sea kelp or or dried seafood. In addition to their main ingredient, ramen broths incorporate a variety of aromatics, such as charred onions, garlic, ginger, fresh scallions or leeks, and mushrooms.

The most widely recognized and celebrated broth worldwide these days is tonkotsu, a boiled pork bone broth. The best tonkotsu broths are a milky, golden color and leave a sticky sheen of gelatin on your lips as you slurp them.

Classification by Seasoning

The seasoning is the main salt source used to flavor the soup. It can be mixed directly into the soup base, but in many ramen shops, it’s added to each individual bowl, making the menu a bit more customizable. The most common seasonings are:

Shio: Sea salt is the oldest form of ramen seasoning, and derives from the original Chinese-style noodle soups. Shio ramen is popular in Hakodate, a southern city in the Hokkaido prefecture where strong Chinese ties influence local cuisine, but the weather is still mild enough for lighter, salt-based soups to flourish.

Shoyu: Japanese soy sauce is a popular ramen seasoning in the Kanto region of central Japan, originally emanating from Yokohama. Traditionally it’s paired with clear to brown chicken, seafood, and occasionally pork or beef-based broths, though these days shoyu is used willy-nilly by ramen chefs throughout Japan. It’s very common to see creamy tonkotsu pork broths flavored with shoyu, for instance.

Miso: Miso ramen is the youngest form of ramen, having gained popularity only in the mid 1960’s and originating from Northen Hokkaido, where cold weather demanded a bolder, heartier bowl of soup. Its youth has not stymied its popularity, and it can now be found all over Japan and the rest of the ramen-eating world, most often paired with heavier, more robust, and unique toppings like sweet corn or stir-fried pork belly and bean sprouts.

While in general, shio tends to be used to season ramen on the assari end of the scale and miso for the kotteri with shoyu somewhere in the middle, exceptions abound, and it’s not uncommon to find rich bone broths flavored with plain salt or lighter seafood broths paired with miso.

With these categories, we can classify pretty much any bowl of ramen we come across. For instance, the creamy chicken paitan ramen at New York’s Totto Ramen would be considered a kotteri ramen made with a chicken broth base and flavored with shoyu, while the shio ramen at Yebisu would be an assari, sea-based broth flavored with salt. Get it?

Oils and Other Seasonings

Some ramen shops will finish a bowl of ramen with a small ladleful of flavorful oil or fat—Clarified pork fat of various chili or sesame oils, for instance. More esoteric broth flavorings such as tahini-style sesame paste or powdered smoked and dried bonito can also be found. And of course, MSG usage is common—the Japanese don’t have the same hang ups about it as we do here in the States.

The Noodles

There are more types of noodles in Japan than there are shapes of pasta in Italy. Okay, I don’t know if that’s 100% true, but it sure seems that way. Whether straight, thin, and narrow, thick and wavy, or wide and flat, ramen chefs will select noodles based on their bounciness, their ability to cling to broth, and their texture in the mouth, searching for a noodle that interacts harmoniously with the soup in the bowl.

Serious ramen chefs are notoriously militant about noodle-eating etiquette. They say that perfect noodles will only last for five minutes after they are added to the hot broth—any longer than that and they become overcooked and mushy—so as a patron, it’s your duty to start eating as soon as the bowl is delivered and not stop until you’re finished; Hence the wild slurping you’ll find in a typical Japanese ramen shop. Order ramen to go and you’ll get your noodles on the side, intended to be added to the reheated broth when you get it home—that is, if the ramen shop even allows to-go orders. Many refuse.

Still hungry after you’re done slurping? Ask for kaedama, an extra serving of noodles to be added to the leftover broth in your bowl.

Some noodle classification is in order.

To begin with, let’s define exactly what a ramen noodle is. Originating from China, ramen-style noodles are made with wheat flour, salt, water, and kansui, an alkaline water which gives the noodles their characteristic bounce and their yellowish hue. While it’s possible to find noodles made with eggs in place of the kansui, this is far more common in China than it is in Japan.

Fresh noodles are the norm for high-end ramen shops. While size and shape vary, you’ll typically see thin, straight noodles paired with hearty tonkotsu-style broths—the noodles cling together and hold soup in via capillary action, delivering plenty of hearty pork flavor with each slurp—while wavy noodles tend to be paired with miso-flavored ramens, their waves capturing the nutty bits of fermented soy bean. Shio and shoyu-flavored lighter soups can get any type of noodle and the selection varies widely by region.

Just as spaghetti is not inherently better or worse than tagliatelle, trying to declare one style of noodle—thin and straight or thick and wavy—as the best is a futile effort.

Dried Noodles are made by drying fresh, uncooked noodles and are an excellent choice for home cooking, though they’re occasionally used in restaurants as well (but you’re much more likely to find more traditional Japanese-style noodles such as udon, somen, and soba in dried form than Chinese-derived ramen). Generally, with dried noodles, the thinner and straighter they are, the better they reconstitute.

Instant Noodles were invented in 1958 by Momofuku Ando and were most likely your very first introduction to the world of ramen. What hungry college student hasn’t nursed themselves out of a hangover over a 59¢ bowl of instant ramen? The most common method of production is to deep-fry par-cooked bricks of noodles to dehydrate them (aka “de-fry-drating”). Take a look at the fat content on a pack of inexpensive instant ramen. That all comes from the dehydrating process.

Higher-end instant noodle brands, such as Myoja Chukazanmai, are made by air-drying par-cooked noodles, resulting in an end product that’s costlier to produce, but far more similar to traditional ramen.

The Toppings

Toppings on bowls of ramen are more than an afterthought. For many shops, it’s their defining characteristic. Toppings can vary from simple vegetables and seasonings to far more complex meats and sauces that must be prepared separately and in advance. Here are some common ones you might find.

Meat

Chashu pork is by far the most popular ramen topping. Though the name is derived from the Chinese char siu roast pork, the Japanese version is made by simmering pork in a sweet soy and mirin sauce until it’s fall-apart tender. Pork loin is common, but I prefer the kind made with fatty pork belly. You can see my own recipe for chashu here.

Kakuni is similar to chashu in that it’s simmered pork belly, but this version comes in chunks and is modeled after the Chinese method of red braising.

Bacon can be sliced and added to the simmering broth, or stir-fried briefly before topping the bowl.

Shredded Pork made by braising pork shoulder then pulling and shredding the meat has become increasingly popular—it’s what David Chang uses to top his bowls at Momofuku. For my own take, I like to crisp up the shreds of pork shoulder carnitas-style before topping the bowl.

Get the recipe for Miso Ramen with Crispy Shredded Pork here!

Ground Meat is usually stir-fried with other ingredients like bean sprouts or cabbage before it’s added.

Seafood such as scallops, shrimp, mussels, and crab are simmered gently and paired with lighter, sea-flavored broths.

Kamaboko is the familiar white and red fish cake that comes sliced on top of sea-flavored ramen. When it’s formed into a spiral shape, it’s called narutomaki.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/09/the-serious-eats-guide-to-ramen-styles.html

 

By: ROBERT MOSS
Originally Seen On: SeriousEats.com

The first time I really looked into the history of pimento cheese, I wrote a long article that opened, “Pimento cheese has a dirty little secret. The ‘pâté of the South’ isn’t really very Southern at all.”

What surprised me most at the time was discovering that this gooey concoction of shredded cheese, mayo, and diced red pimentos—a blend now considered one of the quintessential Southern foods—was actually invented somewhere else. After all, writers have called pimento cheese “a major southern institution,” something that is “held sacred by Southerners” and is “so ingrained in the lives of many Southerners that we don’t realize our passion for the stuff doesn’t exist outside the region.” How could pimento cheese, this most Southern of foods, possibly have been born outside the South?

Now, with a few years hindsight and a lot more research under my belt, I’m not so sure why I made such a big deal about where pimento cheese was invented. So many of the things considered to be iconic Southern foods today actually originated outside of the region. (We’ll look at several more in upcoming installments.) The entire history of food, after all, is the story of ingredients and recipes migrating from one spot on the globe to another and being transferred between cultures, often being transformed in the process. Why should pimento cheese be any different?

No, what’s more interesting about pimento cheese is not where it was born, but how it got where it is today. In its path through American food culture, it reversed the lapsarian pattern found in the tales of so many other dishes like cornbread and hoppin’ john, and it took quite a different route than the “elevation” narrative you see with something like shrimp and grits, which began as a humble breakfast food and was elevated by Southern chefs into a fine-dining entrée.

No, pimento cheese got its start up North—in New York, in fact—as a product of industrial food manufacturing and mass marketing.

No, pimento cheese got its start up North—in New York, in fact—as a product of industrial food manufacturing and mass marketing. Its story is one of redemption, of a wayward factory child adopted by a good Southern family, scrubbed up nice, and invited to Sunday dinner.

‘Scientific’ Home Cooking

Almost any pimento cheese recipe today calls for grated cheddar or a similarly firm cheese mixed with diced pimento peppers, mayonnaise, and any number of seasonings and special ingredients. Many cooks are quite adamant that you use homemade mayonnaise, while others start with fresh red peppers and roast them themselves. The original version started out as something quite different: the marriage of cream cheese and canned pimentos, two popular and newly-available products of the industrial food trade.

In the 1870s in New York State, farmers started making a soft, unripened cheese modeled after the French Neufchâtel. Within a few decades, at least five New York companies were marketing an American Neufchâtel, and they soon introduced cream cheese, a variant made by mixing cream with Neufchâtel curd and molding it into blocks in small rectangular wooden forms.

Though produced primarily in New York, cream cheese somehow became linked with the city of Philadelphia, and the New York-based Phenix Cheese became the market leader with its “Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese,” which was later acquired by the Kraft Cheese Company.

Around the same time, sweet red peppers imported from Spain first became available in the Americas. In the 1887 edition of Miss Parloa’s Kitchen Companion, Maria Parloa noted that these peppers, when green, are “much milder than the common bell-pepper, although they look so much alike it is often difficult to distinguish them.” She recommended stuffing and baking them.

Within a decade, imported Spanish peppers were being canned and sold by large food manufacturers, which not only boosted their popularity but also introduced the Spanish name pimiento. By the turn of the century most print source had dropped the “i” and were calling the peppers “pimentos.”

Cream cheese was the perfect food for the Domestic Science sensibility.

These two new, up-to-date products—cream cheese and red pimentos—were favorites of the practitioners of Domestic Science. Also known as “home economics,” it was a women-led social reform movement that sought to bring order and scientific precision to all aspects of the home, with a particular emphasis on scientific cooking and a neat dinner table. Cream cheese was the perfect food for the Domestic Science sensibility. It was soft and mildly flavored, and its clean white color connoted purity. That it was something new and sold by modern food manufacturers only added appeal, for the Domestic Scientists were champions of industrial canning and scientific food packaging. Before long, they were devising any number of inventive ways to incorporate cream cheese into salads and hors d’oeuvres: rolling it into balls to serve in lettuce cups or combining it with nuts or herbs, and stuffing it into celery sticks and hollowed radishes.

The Domestic Scientists loved canned pimentos, too, especially their mild, inoffensive flavor and their flashy red color. In 1899, the editors of the Boston Cooking-School Magazine included a cauliflower and pimento salad on their Monday dinner menu for August, noting that, “on account of their brilliant color, pimentos are a pleasing addition to many a salad, and when used sparingly their sweet, mild flavor is usually relished.”

The New Packaged Food

It wasn’t long before cheese manufacturers decided to save consumers some trouble and flavor their cheese in the factory. They ran pimentos through a mechanical chopper then mixed them into Neufchatel curd along with a pinch of red pepper just before the cheese was molded. Commercially-made pimento cheese burst on the market around 1910 and spread quickly across the country. In March 1910, grocers in Minnesota were advertising “Pimiento Cheese—Something New,” and by April papers in North Dakota were running ads offering “Pimento cheese, something new, per jar . . . 20¢.” Within a year, pimento cheese was available as far west as Portland, Oregon and Albuquerque, New Mexico and down South in Alabama and South Carolina, too. Most of the manufacturers appear to have been based in New York or Wisconsin.

Read the rest of the story here:
http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/09/history-southern-food-pimento-cheese.html

 

 

Posted by: Food Lover | July 28, 2017

Want Juicier Tomatoes? Store Them Upside Down

By J. KENJI LÓPEZ-ALT
Originally Posted On: seriouseats.com

Long story short: Remove the stems from your tomatoes, and store them stem side down on a flat plate. If they are very ripe and you’re going to be eating them within a day or two, keep them at room temperature. If you’re planning to eat them later in the week, store them in the fridge, and let them come back to room temperature before serving.

Moisture can escape from the tops, where the tomatoes were attached to the vine. This moisture loss can cause a plump tomato to turn soft and wrinkly. But don’t worry—there’s an easy way to fix that problem. All you have to do is remove any excess vine from the tomato, then store the tomato on a flat surface, like a plate, with the vine side down. This effectively seals off that defect, helping the tomato retain all its juiciness.

WATCH THE VIDEO AND READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.seriouseats.com/2017/06/best-position-to-store-tomatoes-upside-down.html

Posted by: Food Lover | July 7, 2017

16 Nonalcoholic Summer Drinks to Refresh and Rehydrate

By RABI ABONOUR
Original Article Posted:
Seriouseats.com : We love this site, please take some time to explore it, you won’t be disappointed.

I’ve been on a little bit of a fitness kick lately, so I’ve been trying to cut down on booze. That might be hard this summer—there are few things that I like more on a hot day then sitting out by the pool with a beer or cocktail. To stay honest, I’m going to try to keep enough delicious nonalcholic drinks on hand that booze won’t be tempting. Standards like lemonade and iced tea should get me through most days, and when I want something a little more exciting I’ll try a mocktail with cucumber and shiso or rhubarb and lime juice. If you’re looking to follow my example, keep reading for 16 of our favorite summery nonalcoholic drink recipes.

• Ultra-Flavorful Fresh Lemonade
• The Best Iced Tea
• The Best Arnold Palmer
• Ultra-Flavorful Fresh Limeade
• Frothy Iced Matcha Green Tea
• Shiso Fine
• Fig and Balsamic Soda
• Rhubarb Juice
• Booze-Free Rhubarb Lime Gimlet
• Rhubarb-Ginger Cooler
• Lemongrass-Ginger Horchata
• Tangy Kumquat-Pear Juice
• Sparkling Sumac Lemonade
• Spicy Honeydew and Coconut Water Agua Fresca
• Strawberry and Cantaloupe Agua Fresca With Thyme
• Orange, Rosewater, and Mint Sparkler

Get the recipes here:
http://www.seriouseats.com/2017/06/16-nonalcoholic-summer-drinks.html

Posted by: Food Lover | June 22, 2017

The Delicious Flavour With A Toxic Secret

By Zaria Gorvett
20 June 2017

Originally Posted On: 
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170620-the-delicious-flavour-with-a-toxic-secret
They have great articles about food, well worth reading! 

It’s led to raids by law enforcement agencies and mass deaths in animals; in the United States, chefs have ‘dealers’ who smuggle it into the country.

Given these facts, I’m unwrapping my online delivery with a level of suspicion usually reserved for bomb disposal. Inside is a jar of wrinkled black beans, each resembling an elongated raisin. These are ‘tonka beans’ – the aromatic seed of a giant tree from deep in the Amazon rainforest.

When grated into desserts or infused into syrups, they impart a flavour so transcendent, tonka has been dubbed the most delicious ingredient you’ve never heard of.

Notes of freshly cut grass mingle with vanilla, liquorice, caramel and clove, topped off with a suggestion of warmth and a hint of magnolia – that is, according to the internet. I unscrew the lid and take a whiff. They smell faintly like furniture polish.

As long as you don’t use a copious amount of it – obviously a copious amount could cause death – it really is delicious,” says Thomas Raquel, head pastry chef at the Michelin-starred Le Bernardin in New York, not particularly reassuringly.

Selling tonka beans to eat has been illegal in the US since 1954. Foods containing tonka are considered to be ‘adulterated’, though that hasn’t stopped them appearing on the menus of Michelin-starred restaurants, from New York to California. In fact, the United States is the biggest importer of tonka on the planet.

Tonka beans contain unusually high levels of the chemical coumarin, which gives them their flavour and is found naturally in hundreds of plants, including grass, lavender and cherries. Even if you’ve never seen a tonka bean in your life, there’s a good chance you know what they smell like without realising it.

Coumarin was first isolated from tonka beans in 1820 – the name comes from the Caribbean term for the tonka tree, ‘coumarou’ – shortly afterwards, an English chemist better known for inventing the first synthetic dye worked out how to make it in the lab.

By the 1940s, artificial coumarin was really taking off. As one of the first synthetic additives, it was dirt cheap. It was widely used in place of natural vanilla, added to chocolate, sweets and cocktail bitters, vanilla essence and even soft drinks. It swiftly became a staple ingredient in tobacco and lent its complex aroma to the perfume industry.

But there was a problem. Studies in dogs and rats had revealed it to be toxic, with relatively low levels causing considerable damage to the liver in just a few weeks. In sheep, just 5g (around two teaspoons) is fatal. Both tonka and coumarin were outlawed.

Fast-forward to 2017 and they’ve never quite disappeared. “Let’s just say I know where to get em’, it’s not a problem to get them,” says Paul Liebrandt, the former co-owner of the Corton in New York.

This is despite a government crackdown nearly a decade ago, including raids on several gourmet restaurants. Grant Achatz, who is head chef at Chicago restaurant Alinea, later told The Atlantic “They [the supplier] said, ‘Don’t be surprised if the FDA shows up soon’…. Two days later, they walked in: ‘Can we look at your spice cabinet?’”.

Tonka and coumarin both still regularly turn up in Mexican vanilla flavouring, where they’re used to mask a low quality product. “I was talking to a vanilla purveyor recently and he offered me tonka bean paste,” says Raquel. “I was like ‘If I want to use tonka bean, I’ll use tonka bean.’”

Even if fancy restaurants aren’t your scene, there’s a good chance you’re being exposed from other sources. It’s still perfectly legal to add coumarin to tobacco and cosmetics, though it’s easily absorbed through the skin and the fragile lining of the lungs. The chemical is used copiously in detergents, shower gels, hand soaps and deodorants and blockbuster scents such as Coco Mademoiselle (Chanel) and Joop! Homme. It’s even found its way into e-cigarettes.

In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve got some coumarin lurking in your kitchen cupboards. True cinnamon is made from the bark of the plant Cinnamomum Zeylanicum and is native to Sri Lanka. This type naturally has extremely low levels of coumarin and proven medicinal properties, but that’s probably not what you’ve got in your spice rack. That’s because what we think of as cinnamon isn’t really cinnamon at all, but a Southeast Asian imposter made from the bark of the cassia tree.

 

 

 

Read the rest of the story here:
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170620-the-delicious-flavour-with-a-toxic-secret

Posted by: Food Lover | January 23, 2017

Disfrutando: Cocina Amigable

sign

We recently spent some time in the legendary party town of Montañita, Ecuador. Every evening we wandered into town and roamed about to get a sense of the form Montañita would take that night; we learned it is an ever-changing town.

During each of these evening walks we inevitably passed by a small restaurant called Disfrutando: Cocina Amigable (Enjoying: Friendly Kitchen), run by three young men.  The chef has his cooking station set up outside at the very front of the “patio”,  where we had a clear line of sight on the sizzling meats being grilled, and fresh vegetables behind him. Each time we became more and more intrigued, memories surfaced of a once much-loved restaurant that is now gone.

The sights and smells of rustic grilled food took our minds back to another groovy coastal town in Mexico, called Sayulita. Delicious food was prepared by a young Mexican chef and served at a small, street side restaurant called Mexotica. We have reminisced about that meal occasionally (particularly the sinfully delicious chocolate avocado mousse!) and have often wondered if we would ever encounter a similar experience anywhere else.

img_3296-web

Disfrutando gave us this wonderful experience once more, but with the chef’s own personality injected into the cooking style.  Disfrutando is the child of a young Ecuadoran chef, using fresh ingredients and a remarkably small range of spices.  He has no formal training, learning everything he knows through observation.  What he does have is a love of food and good friends to help him run the place – his handsome smile and gentle demeanor certainly help as well. Dishes cooked on a single iron grill and two side gas burners presented what were easily the two best meals we had while in Ecuador. In fact, the first meal – consisting of a shared appetizer and two small plate dishes, served “on trend” using simple wooden platters – was so good that we returned two nights later determined to share all four small plates (at all of $5.00 US per plate!) to enjoy as much of Felipe’s cooking as we could. Bringing along our own bottle of inexpensive Chilean Sauvignon Blanc we settled in to enjoy a delicious meal.

bread-web

First up, house baked, country-style bread rubbed with freshly cut garlic and grilled with olive oil, then topped with barely frizzled spinach and caramelized shallots. This take on bruschetta was simple and delicious – a great start to the dinner.  It was interesting to experience how much firmness the spinach could retain while slightly charring on the edges, a trick we we’re going to work to replicate. The spinach provided a lovely texture as we bit into the bruschetta, with the garlic as a delicate accent. The sweet mild shallots gave a juicy freshness, they were nice and crunchy with a smokey caramelization.  As lovers of bread, we really appreciated the hot, soft slices of thick bread with a crunchy crust. We are very much looking forward to the nutritional community deciding that bread is not bad for us after all.

appetizer-web

The next dish: Cameron A La Cerveza con Calabaza Y Berenjena Asada (Shrimp in Beer with Grilled Pumpkin and Eggplant).  Ecuador’s small but plump, sweet shrimp had become something of an obsession with us during our trip.  Ecuadoran cuisine serves up shrimp many ways: breaded and deep fried (Apanado); served in a rich coconut sauce (Enconcado),  or served as a ceviche being the most popular.  Felipe’s preparation was a unique delight. He gently sautéed the shrimp in beer, with garlic and cilantro. This was also served with his signature spicy blackberry compote and that fascinating aioli that seemed something of a cross between mayo and creme fraiche.  A savoury slice of pumpkin, grilled and hot, was a lovely complement to the sweetness of the shrimp.   Generally not fond of eggplant, we were surprisingly pleased with the melt-in-you-mouth soft texture and delicious caramelized flavour.

shrimp-web

Pollo A La Plancha Con Papa Rellena y Ensalada Criolla, Grilled Chicken With Stuffed Potato and Creole Salad.  This is a chicken breast fillet lightly seasoned, then drizzled and rubbed with a fresh lime as the chicken was grilling. The chicken breast was tender and juicy, somewhat surprising in light of the boneless fillet being used. Accompanied by a unique, spicy blackberry compote and a fresh tasting twist on aioli this chicken really sparkled. The addition of a twice baked potato stuffed with bacon and cheese, and a small side salad of finely chopped tomatoes and red onion – called “creole salad” on the menu, but more reminiscent of pico de gallo –  rounded out this delicious first sharing plate.

chicken-web

Our last dish was the Credo Braceado A La Cerveza, Milhoja De Papa Y Ens Tomate Albaca – Pork Braised in Beer with Scalloped Potato,  Tomatoes and Basil.  This dish was so tasty we had it twice during our stay inMontañita.  Pork is very slowly braised in beer, with tomatoes, carrots, and onions.  This was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, the fat was beautifully braised out of the meat making each bite rich tasting, with a wonderful mouth-feel. Never did it feel particularly greasy or fatty.  The scalloped potatoes were able to hold up to the same quality as the pork,  some bites were as crispy as a potato chip, others soft and creamy, with actual cream to make it a touch more decidant.  The tomatoes with basil worked as a nice palate cleanser, refreshing our taste buds so we could fully appreciate the pork and potatoes as we kept eating.   

pork

In our travels, we are always thrilled to find eager, talented people striking out and trying to make a go of things.  This enterprising spirit is particularly what impresses us about Latin American culture.  Disfrutando has a special place in our hearts for this reason, and we hope more travelers will delight in the work of these three gentlemen.  Felipe’s food was a brilliant reminder of how spectacular simple cooking can be when the ingredients used are fresh and the execution is precise.

Posted by: Food Lover | May 31, 2016

Rosemary Tuna Loin Sandwich With Lemon Pepper Mayo

ROSEMARY TUNA LOIN BAGUETTE WITH LEMON PEPPER MAYO

We came up with this recipe after a long day at work. We wanted something simple and tasty. It so happened we had a beautiful tuna loin from Skipper Otto (skipperotto.com) and a baguette on hand.  The rest just came together.

TUNA SANDWICH

ROSEMARY TUNA LOIN BAGUETTE WITH LEMON PEPPER MAYO

 

INGREDIENTS:

• 1/2 cup butter or ghee
• 1 spring rosemary, stemmed
• 1 large garlic clove thinly sliced

• 3 tablespoons mayonaise
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/4 tsp lemon zest (optional)
• 1/4 pepper

• 1 tuna loin
• Salt
• Pepper
• Onion Powder

• 1 baguette

METHOD:

  1. Start by melting the butter or ghee over a very low gentle heat.  Add the rosemary and the garlic clove and let sit for about 10 minutes, until flavours are blended.  The butter should not be hot enough to sizzle, you just want to infuse the flavours into the oil.
  2. In a small bowl mix together mayo, lemon, pepper and if you wish lemon zest.
  3. Dry loin with paper towel. Sprinkle salt, pepper and onion powder all over the tuna loin. Brush tuna loin with the flavoured butter.
  4. Over a high heat, sear the tuna loin evenly on each side, either on a well oiled pan or grill.  Brush each side of the tuna loin with more butter as you cook it. About 2 minutes per side.
  5. Cut the baguette in half, turn the broiler on in your oven until the bread is golden brown.  Make sure you check on it frequently as it will burn quickly.  Remove baguette and brush with flavoured butter.  Scoop out the rosemary leaves and garlic and spread them over the baguette.
  6. Slice loin crosswise into ¼- to ½-inch thick pieces. Arrange tuna on the baguette and drizzle with any remaining butter.  Place a small dollop of mayo on each tuna piece.

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