Below are some photos of meat pies, made benefit of my friend Brad Preznant's recipe, now living in New Zealand. With access to a reservoir of holiday-left goose and duck fat, I whipped up a batch. My first pasty was with chorizo, chicken and potatoes, and the other with Vindaloo. All good.
A neighbor of mine in Sunnyside introduced me a new restaurant in Queens. Please understand. That's no small event for a borough that may have fertile centers of traditional ethnic food (e.g. Flushing's Chinatown), but overall seems on a slow boat toward Brooklyn's more radical explosion of great new cuisine. Or at least restaurants.
Casa del chef in Woodside brings us closer. Its owner, chef Alfonso Zhicay (along with his daughter), offers a solid menu whose greatness emerges in the preparation and service. It's a terrific place for a meal. Zhicay is a native of Gaulaceo, Ecuador, a place I know from my visits as home to incredible hornado, roast pig. He has also worked under top-chefs like David Bouley and Dan Barber. If you're in the New York area, you probably should visit soon. My bet is it will become very popular very quickly.
The other day attended The DSWS Annual Grand Portfolio Tasting. Held at New York's Four Season's hotel restaurant, packed with wine buyers, chefs and producers, the evening consisted of a buzz of wine speak, swishes, sniffing, spittoons and clink of glasses.
First I visited Angela Velenosi, wine producer from Le Marche. A region well known for Verdicchio, its producers are trying new blends along with old regional varietals. The first wine was a blend of Montepulciano, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Ludi at 13.5% was very strong, with a taste and flavor unfamiliar but intriguing. I also tried some of their whites, including some fruit flavored wine with a bit of a sparkle, which made me think of a sort of spritzer with cherries.
I then tried some delicious wine from Nimes. Produced by Chateau de Valcombe, these were crisp and full of fruit. From there I tried a wonderful selection of Weingut Peter Jakob Kühn, produced in the Rheinghau region. The minerality was amazing. In addition, I had the chance to confirm the recent NY Times writeup on Sicilian wines. They didn't dissapoint. Terrazze Dell'Etna had the most interesting wines, full of spice and sun ripened fruit flavors, benefit of the altitude and soil from the volcanic hills of Mount Etna.
Who gets to name a bread? Who gets to give their stamp of approval to say whether the bread lives up to the name? There's no simple answer to this, though here's one guarantee; trying to answer it is a great way drive yourself crazy.
And if you want to meet the head chefs of migraine makers, here's where they live; Brussels, home to the always-ready-to-bureaucratize anything, the EEU. Among its treats, a multitude of designated legal protections for foods and wines. Known as a "DOP"," these regulations define specific processes that include ingredients, timing, weights and types of cooking hardware (aka ovens!).
So what's this got to do with today's weather or this blog? Well, Pane di Altamura, bread from Italy's Altamura region has such a DOP. Recently in Bread history and practice ,baking writer William Rubel's forum, I was part of a conversation about this bread. A bunch of us were frustrated by the fact that without the Altamura's stamp-of-approval, my homemade version could not be legitimately called "Pane Di Altamura." The consensus? Rename the local version to "Altered-Mura" and, presto, our own DOP. All to say, the core ingredient to success in in this serious business? Don't take it too seriously.
Like boxes of chocolate, you never know what a bottle of wine will bring. Learning to read the label helps! It helps, too, if - like me - you have a brother who is a wine geek. Recently he moved out to work in a northern Californian winery in a town called Paso Robles. Before leaving his East Coast job selling wine, he set me up with a case of prime picks. Well, those are gone now. Anyway, here is a list of some favorites of mine.
Suffering from a jones for poppy-seed bread, I stopped into my local Turkish food market and asked for poppy seeds to grind. The guy told me to try "haşhas," a Turkish poppy-seed paste. I'm glad to have taken his advice.
Hashas is a richer brown than the usual store-bought poppy-seed paste. It's also not quite as sweet. It worked quite well for putting together this sourdough babka flavored with walnuts.
Salt dried cod is a favorite among North Atlantic, Caribbean and Mediterranean sea faring communities; all of whom ventured out to the Newfoundland's Grand Banks to bring back this prized fish. As a big fan, myself, I recently salted some Icelandic cod at work, using it three different ways.
First came "Brandade de morue." An emulsified version of salt cod with milk and olive oil, it's been a favorite since my chef Jean-michel Bergounoux taught it to me. The rest of the food in the photo is my hommage of camaron (shrimp) ajillo, and some octopus "Gallego".
Second, I used the cod in ravioli, something I'd seen on Christmas menus at Italian restaurants. With added potatoes to the cooked cod, I rolled and stuffed the composition into homemade pasta, then served it with a quick arrabiata sauce of spicy tomato. It's delicious any time of winter!
Finally, with the last bit of filling, I made croquetas of Spanish fried cod. Again, I topped it with a spiced tomato sauce, though this created with a mix of chipotle and Mutti passata tomato puree.
My friend recently asked me a simple formula for müesli bröt. I had a few tested formulas, one straight yeast and the other sourdough. The yeasted one though I decided to tweak and use sourdough . Below are shots of the end product. It turned out well, considering I jotted down the numbers and played the intuitive baker. I retarded the mixed dough overnight, and this loaf used two starters, one stiff levain and the other liquid, just because I didn't have enough of either. The results paid off, with a moist crumb and delicious crust.