Thursday, September 29, 2005

Podcast #14: Part 2, Jennifer Iannolo of

Episode #14: Part 2 of my Interview with Jennifer Iannolo, Publisher of Gastronomic Meditations. A no holds barred discussion of freedom of food choice, and why the government should stay out of your mouth! We also delve into some scary food options!

(Remember to send me your Wild food stories, and I'll play or read them on the show)

Quick Tip: Keeping Red Cabbage from turning blue

Featured Website:

Plus another song from Katy Stephan.

Music: "Can't Hold it Down", by Andy Sullivan.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Food Safety Corner: Befriending Bacteria?

Regular readers here know that I like to share tidbits of information about food safety. A reader recently brought this well written article to my attention. In it, an American studying in a French Culinary School, decribes the conditions in the kitchen.

"Since our first day, there has hardly been any discussion of sanitation, no mention of the dangers of cross-contamination, and there is still no hand-washing requirement before class begins. Every day we prepare fish, raw poultry and meat on our cutting boards and then cheerfully chop vegetables on those same boards after lightly wiping them down with a damp sponge. Some sort of cleansing product – a French version of Mr. Clean – appeared near the sink last week, but we’ve never used it. Meats, shellfish and eggs hang out on the counter unrefrigerated for hours at a time. Sometimes we share dirty spoons to taste dishes."

However, she goes on to describe the great care and love with which the French approach their food, and how well they treat it. she also points out how the illusion of sterility and cleanliness in the American food supply is just that, illusory.

The important lesson, which can't be repeated enough, is to WASH YOUR HANDS!

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Delicias Tropicales

In researching the article I wrote on Fruit cheeses for Gastronomic Meditations (see below), I had the blessing of the extensive knowledge of Central and South American cuisine possesed by Chef Melissa de Léon, the Cooking Diva of Panama. She told me all about the various ways Latin Americans preserve fruit and the amazing flavor variations only they could come up with.

Check out the recipes she posted on her blog today

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A Sultry Dance of Pears and Cheese

I'm happy to announce that I will now be a regular contributor to Gastronomic Meditations. I will be presenting recipes and writing columns about the monthly featured ingredients from an international perspective.

My first contribution is a celebration of the sultry dance between pears and cheese, this month's main ingredient and the indulgence. I make a playful switch, though, and use cheese as the base, turning the main ingredient, pears, into a sweet indulgence.

You can read the article here:
A Sensual Flamenco Alegria

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Last Cookout of the Season

With the coming of Fall, the nights are coming on earlier and cooler, and so Sunday some friends and I got together for one last outdoor cookout. A friend was visiting from her new home in North Carolina, and we had a potluck dinner with our dogs in attendance. Here was the relaxing menu:

Spicy Corn Soup with Cilantro

Roast Vegetables and Polenta, Cheese, and Onion Casserole (The Polenta was my contribution)

Barbecued Ribs!

We also had an appetizer of Baked Brie in Phyllo two ways; Almond and Honey, and Drunken Plum, and a dessert of Caramel covered brownies.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Podcast #13: Jennifer Iannolo of, Part 1

Episode #13: Part 1 of my Interview with Jennifer Iannolo, Publisher of We talk about her sensual approach to food writing, stellar chefs, and her interesting career path in the food industry.

Quick Tip: Quick Release for Quick Breads

Plus, "Come Home", a song from the play I did last week, Bury The Dead.
Featured Website:

Music: "Can't Hold it Down", by Andy Sullivan.

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Farmer's Market Saturday: The Fruits of Fall

The first day that really felt like the Autumn, and I got to spend it in the crisp air, cooking fragrant pears and apples for appreciative shoppers! I gave a demonstration of two easy and satisfying recipes showcasing the natural sweetness of local fruits that have been lovingly treated and allowed to ripen to their proper sweetness. there's so much to be said for local, sustainable farming, where the fruits have not been in a dark boxcar for a month and 10,000 miles being shipped from halfway around the world. I demonstrated Sautéed Onions and Apples and Pears Sautéed in Butter and Brandy.

Sautéed Onions and Apples

This simple dish serves as a great sweet and savory accompaniment to meats, especially pork. Locally farmed Apples are plentiful in the Fall, and this side dish is sure to warm you up.

Serves 4

3 cups onions, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons lard, bacon drippings, butter or olive oil
3 cups firm apples, peeled, cored and sliced
Pinch of ground allspice, mace or cinnamon
Sugar, only if needed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Minced fresh parsley for garnish

Sauté the onions in a large, deep skillet over medium heat, covered. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are dry and almost sticking to the pan. Stir in the fat.

Add the apple slices and the spice (allspice, mace, or cinnamon).

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples begin to soften, about 10 minutes.

Uncover and taste. Add sugar if the apples are not sweet enough, but be careful not to make it too sweet. Season with salt and pepper, turn the heat up to medium, and cook until apples are completely tender but not mushy, a few minutes more. Garnish with minced parsley and serve.

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Farmer's Market Saturday: Pears

Pears Sautéed in Butter and Brandy

This sweet dessert can be served with Ice Cream, whipped cream, sour cream, anything creamy! You can also serve it on its own. You should choose pears that are ripe, but not overly ripe.

Serves 4

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
4 pears, peeled, cored and sliced
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons port, pear brandy, or plain brandy

Place half the butter in a large, deep skillet and turn the heat to medium high. When the butter foam subsides, add the pears and cook, sprinkling with the sugar and turning occasionally, until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the port or brandy and cook, stirring gently, until the mixture becomes saucy, just a minute or two longer. Add the remaining butter, turn the heat to low, and cook until the butter melts and coats the pears. Serve immediately.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

Recipe: Pumpkin Bisque with Foie Gras

To celebrate the beginning of Autumn, and to celebrate the glories of foie gras (while we can, at least), I present this recipe, which comes from Caviar, Truffles, and Foie Gras: Recipes for Divine Indulgence, by Katherine Alford. you can, of course, enjoy the pumpkin soup on it's own, but the foie gras makes it spectacular.

Serves 6 to 8

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks, including light green parts, sliced and thoroughly rinsed
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 1/2 pounds diced peeled pumpkin or other winter squash, such as Hubbard, red kuri, or kabocha (about 8 cups)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 fresh sage leaves
8 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 Tablespoons Armagnac or Brandy
4 slices light whole wheat bread, crusts trimmed, cut into triangles
2 teaspoons white truffle oil
3 to 4 ounces prepared homemade duck or goose foie gras terrine or mousse

In a medium soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, or until softened. Add the pumpkin, herbs, and stock and bring to a boil. Season with the salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is completely tender.

Remove the bay leaf and sage. Puree the soup with a handheld immersion blender or in batches in a blender. Return the soup to the pot and add the Armagnac or brandy. Bring the soup to a simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

To serve, preheat the broiler. Place the bread triangles on a small baking sheet and toast about 6 inches from the heat, turning to brown both sides. Drizzle the warm toasts with the truffle oil. Dice the foie gras terrine or scoop the mousse and divide it among warmed shallow soup bowls. Pour the soup into bowls and serve immediately, with the truffle toasts.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Fall is here!

Well, at least it will be at 6:23 PM EST. The Autumnal Equinox, that magical moment which only comes twice a year, when the day is as long as the night. If you ever wanted to enjoy exactly 12 hours of daylight and no more, then today would be the day to do so.

Everyone generally marks Labor Day Weekend as the end of Summer and the beginning of Autumn, but I always want to enjoy these first three weeks of September as the last hoorah of summer.

But now that Fall is here, it's time to turn our attention to the harvest, and the most exciting time of year for food. The days are shorter, less scorchingly hot, and the root vegetables come into their own. Radishes, carrots, turnips and daikon start to develop their flavors, and the squash starts to grow it's thicker skin. All the foods of the earth are storing energy for the long seasons to come. We can look forward to pumpkins and butternut squash, as well as acorn squash, for those soups, stews, and purees that nourish us throughout the Fall and Winter. Roasted with butter and perhaps a splash of Maple syrup, they warm us from within and make us think of home.

In our modern supermarkets and our obsession with having all foods availbale to us at all times, many Americans have lost touch with the seasonality of fresh, local produce. Now's the time to familiarize yourself with the foods of Autumn, and to look for their appearance. Don't buy strawberries in September and October. Instead, look for gooseberries and cranberries, and of course the backbone of autumnal fruits, the All-American Apple.

In the coming weeks, I'll be featuring the seasonal foods of Autumn with great recipes that showcase their ripeness.

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Podcast #12: Japanese Market Soundseeing Tour Part 2

Episode #12

Part 2 of my Japanese Market Soundseeing Tour, plus a rant about free food choices.

Featured Website:

Quick Tip: Freezing chipotles

Music: "Can't Hold It Down", Andy Sullivan.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Duck Stops Here

My friend Jennifer Iannolo, Publisher of Gastronomic Meditations, at once a lovely food aesthete and champion of individual liberties and the rights of man, has written the best editorial yet on the subject of the Foie Gras Wars.

"Chefs are now presenting themselves en masse, explaining the process of gavage, and attempting to educate the public — in other words, giving their clientele the kind of information required to make their own decisions. Your citizens do not need the Nanny State to hold their hands through the process.

I am amazed that in a country where the government cannot manage to get relief quickly enough to its own starving people in the midst of a disaster, a top-of-mind issue is whether or not ducks are being treated humanely enough."

As I've been saying, It's about personal choice and responsibility. The biggest problem with government "protecting" us is that they model no responsibility themselves. We as Americans have a duty to take responsibility for our actions on ALL levels or life, personal and public, and stop blaming others and expecting others to take responsibility for us.

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Food Safety Corner: Tea

We love our tea, whether it's freshly brewed hot tea, or a cool refreshing iced tea on a hot summer day. But it turns out that storing brewed teas at room temperature can actually be a problem for food safety.

Like most plant derived foods, dry tea leaves can contain low levels of bacteria, yeast and mold. If you brew it at an improper temperature, or store it at room temperature for long periods of time, these low levels can grow to dangerous levels (Remember that bacteria double every 20 minutes in the Temperature Danger Zone). Also, pitchers and kettles that have not been properly cleaned and sanitized can help promote the growth of these microorganisms. Like many people, if you leave the kettle on the stove and just fill it up when you want a fresh cup of tea, you could be putting yourself at risk.

The water used to brew tea should be heated to 195° F (91° C) for automatic iced tea and coofee machines. Tea leaves should be in contact with the water for one minute.

If using the traditional steeping method, water should be 175° F (80° C). The tea leaves need five minutes of contact with the water if brewing traditionally.

And, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that old fashioned pitcher of sun tea you have on the back porch? That's a recipe for food-borne illness. You leave the tea sitting there for hours, right in the middle of the TDZ (40°F-135°F). If the tea leaves have bacteria in them, they will grow to unhealthy levels, which could especially be a problem for the elderly or people with compromised immune systems.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Google-y Eyed

Well, after reading about the search to find a new Executive Chef for Google, this profile piece appears today in the New York Times about the FORMER Chef, Charlie Ayers.

Looks like he's taking that big pile of cash he made from selling his Google stock options and creating an eco-friendly restaurant/cafe styled after many of the innovations he put in place at Google. Sounds cool, but a plexiglass compost bin? I love that kind of stuff, but I hope for the sake of the weak-stomached, that the compost bin will be located away from the main dining room!

Liver Let Live: Updates on the Foie Gras War

An excellent post over on the superchefblog sums up more recent developments in the great Foie Gras war of 2005.

It heartens me to read that:

"Chefs Rick Tramonto and Charlie Trotter, who are on opposite sides of the debate, have finally found common ground on foie gras: both object to the city government legislating what people are allowed to eat. They believe it is up to restaurants and customers to decide."

Finally! Someone advocates for personal choice and responsibility.

There are already measures in the works in Massachusetts, Oregon and New York, and California has apready passed a bill banning the production and sale of foie gras starting in 2012.

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Monday, September 19, 2005

Bury The Dead Tonight

Come see me perform in

The New York reading will be at

The Great Hall at Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street
8 pm
$20 suggested donation, sliding scale, no one turned away for lack of funds.
Reserve your place, 212-501-2323

The beneficiaries: Red Cross (for Katrina relief), Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, & Not In Our Name.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Got milk? (Get a lawyer)

Well, it's a busy week for people who want to control our food choices and individual liberties. So, no foie gras, no long pointed knives, and now, no MILK?!?

Lawyers, masquerading as Physicians who think they know what's best for us (, want to sue the dairy industry on behalf of lactose intolerant people for deceptive advertising.

"The dairy industry’s deceptive marketing keeps the public in the dark about this common condition. It spends millions of dollars on advertising designed to give the false impression that milk is a necessary part of a healthy diet. The industry even encourages lactose-intolerant people to continue drinking milk and consuming other dairy products."

Listen, I agree that adults do not NEED milk, as it's designed to nurse a baby cow, while breast milk is designed to nurse baby humans. And it's true that many, up to 75% of us, are lactose intolerant. But come on! No one is making you drink that glass of milk, or polish off that pint of Ben and Jerry's, or add a slice of Swiss to your Ham sandwich. When are people going to realize that it's always up to us what we put in our bodies?

Good Grief!

Just when you thought the nanny state was taking over in the US with the proposed ban on Foie Gras in Chicago, it seems our neighbors across the pond have got it even worse. According to this BBC article:

"Doctors in the UK have called for a ban on long pointed kichen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing.

The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all.

They consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen.

None of the chefs felt such knives were essential, since the point of a short blade was just as useful when a sharp end was needed."

(I wonder, were any of these chefs named Boyardee?)

"The researchers say legislation to ban the sale of long pointed knives would be a key step in the fight against violent crime."

Perhaps the only legal kitchen tools from now on should be can openers and ziplock bags, that is, until someone figures out that they can suffocate their doctor with a plastic bag. Or perhaps we should just go back to pounding our foods against pointed rocks like we did in the OLD days.

Podcast #11: Japanese Market Soundseeing Tour Part 1

Episode #11

Part 1 of my Japanese Market Soundseeing Tour, where I explore the aisles and describe the amazing products I find at the JAS Mart on St. Mark's Place in the East Village.

Featured Website:

Quick Tip: Mixing without splatters

Music: "Can't Hold It Down", Andy Sullivan.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Dream Job: Google Chef

I remember reading the job listing a few weeks ago. Google, the internet search company, was looking for an Executive Chef for it's Bay Area Corporate Campus. This is a primo job, where the empployees get free breakfast, lunch and dinner. I dreamt for a few moments about what it would be like to have such a dream job, before I got scared of just how much work and responsibility it would entail. I was really thrilled, then, to see this article, written by Chef Steve Petusevsky, one of the lucky chosen semi-finalists, so I could have a dreamy glimpse inside this cherry job.

"I was shown to the kitchen to begin my food preparation for the following day's preliminary battle. It's a large, well-equipped kitchen with dozens of cooks. The food prepared here is a benefit for Google employees, whose average age is 25. Unlike a traditional restaurant where stringent food and labor costs dictate the menu, this is a chef's Disneyland where food is born of inspiration and pure love of cooking.

The food is served to thousands of well-educated and savvy foodies. Many of the ingredients are organic and locally grown. There is every imaginable seasonal produce item, the finest natural meats and poultry, fresh fish, lobster, rock shrimp and organic tofu -- both Japanese and Chinese.

For my trial, I was told to make a soup, salad, appetizer, entree, vegetarian entree and dessert. I prepared Steve's Google-icious Menu: edamame hummus, Bahamian chicken chowder, sun-dried tomato agnolotti with roasted mushroom fra diavolo sauce, Indonesian seared rock shrimp salad with Asian slaw, Ligurian stuffed petrale sole, giant baked stuffed portobellos with asiago cheese, baked tofu with mango-macadamia crust, streusel stuffed plums with candied ginger and balsamic pomegranate reduction."

I can't wait to read what the other chefs made!

Foie Gras soon to be Foie Gone

Well, it seems that the debate over Foie Gras has gone beyond the forum at eGullet, and into Chicago's famed City Hall. The flap started when famed Chicago Chef Charlie Trotter announce that he would no longer serve foie gras, the rich, fatted liver of a duck, in his restaurants. Then Rick Tramonto weighed in, starting a rather public and at times vicious debate over whether the practice of fattening the ducks to make foie gras constitutes cruelty to anuimals. I won't go into it here, but you can learn all about the raising of foie gras as well as the debate here.

Well, it seems that when a Public official gets a whiff of the publicity that surrounds such a public debate, he always wants to jump in. Now Chicago Alderman Joe Moore has introduced a measure to ban the use and sale of foie gras in the city.

"Moore said he wasn't sure if he had ever eaten foie gras.

Of the seven aldermen who showed up Tuesday for the hearing before the Committee on Health, three said they were certain they had never eaten it."

Apparently, many had to be explained what it is.

Whatever your stance on foie gras, it seems to me that the choice to eat it, as with anything, is an individual one. The arguments that the way in which it is raised is cruel to the animal just don't seem to wash with me. If we are raising animals to kill them and eat their flesh, yet, we're concerned that force feeding them is cruel, it just seems a little off-kilter to me. If you were really concerned about the animals, you wouldn't be eating them at all.

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

I got my Green Chile!

Well, I managed to get some Hatch Green Chile at the Kitchen Market. Unfortunately, I have been a little under the weather, so I haven't had time to roast it and use it yet. Which makes me think that I'll do a simple recipe, which is to pickle it, or at least some of it.

It's an easy recipe:

Pickled Green Chile

1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dill seed
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
2 1/2 cups green chiles, chopped
(or 1 1/2 cups cut into strips)
salt, to taste

Combine the vinegar, sugar and spices and simmer for 5 minutes.
Pack the chiles into small jars, cover with syrup, and add a piece of garlic to each jar. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 3 days before using. Makes 2 1/2 pints.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Podcast #10: Lunch Tips

Episode #10

Lunch Tips from my Interview with Andrew at the Working Podcast.

I also do a roundup of mentions from other Podcasts this week.

Plus: The answer to the riddle from Podcast #9!

Featured Website:
A Veggie Venture

Quick Tip: Measuring Honey

Music: "Can't Hold It Down", Andy Sullivan,

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

It's Hatch Green Chile Season!

And I'm jonesing for my fix of the Green Gold! This is the time of year I miss New Mexico the most. Beginning around Labor Day, and through the second week of October, all the best festivals in New Mexico take place.

The Hatch Green Chile Festival in Southern New Mexico, the State Fair in Albuquerque (throughout most of September), the Fiestas in Santa Fe with the famous burning of Zozobra (Old Man Gloom), and the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in early October.

©Ray Watt

What got me homesick for New Mexico? I was walking past the Kitchen Market on 8th Ave. in Chelsea yesterday, and I saw from their window that they had "Fresh HATCH Chile, only 2 days from the field to NYC" and I nearly knocked down several people trying to get in the cramped little store. I was disappointed to find, however, that they were sold out of it, and expecting another shipment soon. AAAAARRRGGHH!!!

So I had to phone my parents and ask them about the Chile harvest this year, to live vicariously for another night until I could get my hands on some of the pods. We decided that perhaps they should bottle the September Rio Grande Valley air for me. This air is redolent with the smell of roasting chile coming from the giant steel drum roasters on every street corner, doing the hard work so that people can take the chile home and peel it, freeze it, and save it for the long winter ahead.

As soon as I procure some chile, I'll be posting tips and recipes for working with it, but until then, check out ZiaNet's great online guide to Roasting Chile.

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A plug from the "Podfather" himself

Well, I guess the Podcast is starting to reach critical mass. Not only did my interview with Andrew at the Working Podcast come out Sunday night, but I had a great surprise Monday listening to Adam Curry's Daily Source Code, and hearing him play my little 'ole promo for the ReMARKable Palate Podcast!

This guy is the "Podfather" of podcasting, with quite possibly the most listeners of any show out there. You may remember Adam from his days as one of the VeeJays in the early days of MTV. In fact, his Podshow Podcast Network recently acquired, the premiere Podcast directory.

If you're joining me from Adam's show, WELCOME! Poke around and make yourself at home, and let me know what you want to hear or read.

Monday, September 12, 2005

"Feeding The Dead"

I'll be providing food to feed a troupe of 75 actors and nearly 50 support people for a One-Night Only special Theatrical event entitled Bury The Dead. Randall Stuart, Artistic Director of Upon These Boards, a Theatre Company based in The SF BAy Area, will direct the play.

The Event will take place on Monday, September 19th at 8 PM at the Great Hall of Cooper Union. It will also mark my return to the boards after a couple years away from the stage.

This Special Theatrical Event will benefit Disaster Relief, both here in the Gulf Region, and in Iraq. The organizations which will be supported: The Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Not In Our Name & Amnesty International.

This entire event is being produced on a shoestring budget, and we still need donations to pull it off. If you can't be there live for the event, please consider giving a small PayPal donation to Upon These Boards to help finance the project and feed all the actors giving of their time and talents.

Vital Details:
The reading of Irwin Shaw’s BURY THE DEAD
September 19th, 2005. New York City. 8:00pm.
The Great Hall At Cooper Union (7 E. 7th St. at Astor Place, East Village)
Suggested donation at the door, sliding scale.
Reservations to hold your place – 212-501-2323

A Veggie Venture

Much thanks to Alanna, who has included the carrot recipes I posted on Saturday in this week's A Veggie Venture: Veggie Posts of the Week #36.

This site is GREAT for ideas on creative ways to incorporate more vegetables into your diet, with side dishes, main dishes, and sauces. Check it out!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Chef Mark Featured on the Working Podcast!

Andrew, the fast talking host of The Working Podcast, featured an interview with me on his latest episode! I shared several tips for spicing up lunches at the office. I gave him some ideas to avoid the cheap and nasty Salad bar takeout and PB&J sack lunches. Head over there and have a listen.

If you're joining me here from the Working Podcast, I want to welcome you! You'll find lots of great recipes here, as well as menus I have prepared, and lots of great photos! I'm glad to have you with us.

Podcast #9: Food Movies

Over in the Discussion Forums of Gastronomic Meditations, there has been a lively discussion going on about favorite Food Films. Many have mentioned Big Night, the 1996 film starring Stanley Tucci and Tony Shaloub as Italian brothers in the 1950's trying to keep their family restaurant afloat. Of particular note is the creation of a Timpano, a masterpiece of a dish, named for and shaped like a drum, filled with meats, pasta, cheese, and baked all day in the oven, then unmolded with great ceremony. This is a favorite, with the camera lovingly lingering over the hands of the chef.

Of course, as an avid filmgoer and former actor, I have many favorites of my own. For an Asian take on the loving sensuous shots over hands at work, and wisps of steam coming from pots, as well as the rythms of a restaurant kitchen contrasting with the slow, comforting home kitchen, see Ang Lee's 1994 film Eat Drink Man Woman. This Taiwanese film is one of the best food films ever. The story of an aging chef and widower losing his sense of taste, and his travails dealing with his three daughters, each pushing for independence in her own way, it is absolutely exquisite. The opening scene, following the chef's hands as he lovingly prepares the traditional Sunday family meal, a ritual which his daughters no longer hold so dear, is without a doubt the most exquisite food sequence ever commited to celluloid. I haven't seen Tortilla Soup (2001), but it's a remake of Eat Drink Man Woman with a Mexican-American family, starring Hector Elizondo.

Speaking of Mexicans, Alfonso Arau's film adaptation of Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate is another sensual foodlovers delight. The genre of magical realism lends itself well to a kitchen setting, as Tita's exquisite food creations are the vehicle for her magical talents. I would recommend reading the book as well, as each chapter has a recipe along with it.

Other greats of the genre:

Tampopo ("The First Japanese Noodle Western"), Babette's Feast (1987 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film), A Chef in Love, Dinner Rush, Fried Green Tomatoes, Soul Food, A Walk in the Clouds, Woman on Top, Who is Kiling the Great Chefs of Europe? How's that for a mix of international cuisines?

Some other Food related films which don't pay as much homage to sensual food, but are a wee bit more tongue-in-cheek:

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Soylent Green, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover ("Cook Michael! This was his favorite restaurant."), Eating Raoul, The Silence of the Lambs ("Fava Beans and a nice Chianti"), and La Grande Bouffe a film about 4 men who are eating themselves to death. These last films are not for the weak of stomach, or to be seen on an empty one.

Featured Websites:
For a list of Food related films, go to the London Food Film Fiesta website.

Quick Tip: Tomato Paste

Music: "Can't Hold It Down", Andy Sullivan.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Farmer's Market Saturday: Carrots

It was another lovely Saturday here in Upper Manhattan. I got some gorgeous carrots at the Inwood Greenmarket today, and I thought it would be great to make Namasu, a Japanese white daikon and carrot salad marinated in red wine vinegar. It is served in Japan as part of the New Year's celebration, but I love it year round.

Namasu: Daikon and Carrot Salad
4 Servings

1 daikon, 8 inches long, thin julienne
2 carrots, thin julienne
1 teaspoon(s) salt
3 tablespoon(s) castor sugar
4 1/2 tablespoon(s) rice vinegar
1 tablespoon(s) sesame seeds

Cut the daikon into 3 pieces then thickly peel the skin. Peel the carrots and cut them into 2 inch pieces. Slice both vegetables very thick lengthways then crossways to make very thin matchsticks (or use a mandolin). Place the daikon and carrot in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and mix well with your hands. Leave for about 30 minutes. Drain the vegetables in a sieve and gently squeeze out the excess liquid, then transfer them to another mixing bowl. Mix the sugar and rice vinegar together in a bowl. Stir well until the sugar has completely dissolved. Pour over the daikon and carrot, and leave for at least a day, mixing at least two or three times. To serve, mix the two vegetables evenly and heap in the middle of a small bowl or a plate. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

With such an abundance of carrots, it's a shame to only do one dish, so here's a second recipe, which you can serve cold in the summer. It also freezes well, so you can keep it for those cold winter nights!

Carrot and Ginger Soup

4 Servings

1 medium onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon ginger root, grated
1 cup carrot, peeled and chopped
3 cups vegetable stock
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme, dried
1/4 teaspoon garlic clove, minced

In saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onion until it's translucent.
Add maple syrup, honey and ginger.
Cook until onions begin to turn golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients, cover and simmer about 10 mins until soft.
Cool, then Puree. Serve warm or chilled.

© Mark Tafoya

Friday, September 09, 2005

Recipe: Chile Relleno Casserole

A neighbor recently asked me for a good recipe for food to bring to a breakfast meeting at work. She wanted something easy, inexpensive, and somewhat unique. Here is the recipe I shared with her.

Chili Relleno Casserole

4 Servings

7 ounces green chiles, whole (from jar or can)
9 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Remove seeds from the chile and then cut the chiles into 1/2" x 1" pieces.

Spray a casserole dish with spray oil. Layer chiles in the bottom, then add a layer of cheese. Repeat with more chiles, then another layer of cheese.

Mix the beaten eggs, milk, flour, and salt until thoroughly combined. Pour over chile-cheese layers.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool enough to cut in squares. Serve warm.

For my neighbor's breakfast meeting, I suggested using muffin tins, making individual little Chile Relleno cups. Spray with cooking oil and reduce the cooking time a little.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

A light-hearted way to Help Katrina Victims

By now, we are all aware of the huge extent of the damages of Katrina and the human toll she inflicted. Americans everywhere are stepping up to help. Adam, the Amateur Gourmet, has come up with one of the most creative and fun ways to help: Gourmet Survivor II. He commented that in light of the seriousness of it all, this food blogging thing seems kind of silly, but not if you use it to help monetarily and through humor. Check it out, and participate, or just give money, even if you can't follow along day to day.

Food Safety Information for Emergencies

Hot off the heels of yesterday's podcast about Refrigerator safety, this information came to my attention. It's a warning from the FDA regarding food safety during and after a catashrophic event involving power failures.

As Hurricane Katrina hits Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants area residents to be prepared for the aftermath. FDA is providing important tips to help people affected by this storm to protect their health and food supply.

As flooding occurs, immediately evaluate stored food and water supply. Perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk and eggs that are not properly refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if consumed, even when it is thoroughly cooked.

Here's what FDA suggests consumers can do at home to keep their food safe:

Food safety when the power goes out

Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. Buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic foot fully-stocked freezer cold for two days.

If you plan to eat refrigerated or frozen meat, poultry, fish or eggs while they are still at safe temperatures, it’s important that the food is thoroughly cooked to the proper temperature to assure that any food borne bacteria that may be present is destroyed.

Wash fruits and vegetables with water from a safe source before eating.

For infants, if possible, use prepared, canned baby formula that requires no added water. When using concentrated or powdered formulas, prepare with bottled water if the local water source is potentially contaminated.

Once the power is restored

Once the power is restored you will need to evaluate the safety of the food. If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, read the temperature when the power comes back on. If the thermometer stored in the freezer reads 40 degrees F or below the food is safe and may be refrozen. If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine the safety. Remember, you can't rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.

Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power is out for no more than 4 hours. Keep the door closed as much as possible. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40 degrees F for two hours or more.

For a list of how to handle specific refrigerated and frozen foods during power outages, go here.

Food and Water Safety During Hurricanes and Floods

Hurricanes, especially if accompanied by a tidal surge or flooding, can contaminate the public water supply. Drinking contaminated water may cause illness. You cannot assume that the water in the hurricane-affected area is safe to drink. Listen to local announcements for updated information on the safety of the water supply.

If bottled water is not available and the safety of tap water is questionable, follow these directions to purify it:

If you have a heat source available, boil the water vigorously for 1-3 minutes (at altitudes above one mile, boil for 3 minutes). Water should be bubbling and rolling. (

If you can't boil water, add 8 drops (about 1/8 teaspoon or 0.75 ml) of newly purchased, unscented liquid household bleach per gallon of water, stir it well and let the water stand for 30 minutes before you use it. Note that using bleach will not kill parasitic organisms. (

You can also use water-purifying tablets from your local pharmacy or sporting goods store. (

Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water. Discard any food without a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with floodwater. Undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if you remove the labels, thoroughly wash the cans and disinfect them with a solution consisting of 1/4 cup of bleach per gallon of water for clean surfaces. Re-label your cans, including the expiration date, with a marker. Food containers with screw-caps, snap lids, and home canned foods should be discarded if they have come in contact with flood water because they cannot be disinfected.

Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers. There is no way to safely clean them if they have come in contact with contaminated flood waters.

Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils with soap and hot water. They should then be sanitized by boiling in clean water or immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach per gallon of water.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

ReMARKable Palate Podcast #8

Episode #8

Food Safety Corner: Proper Refrigerator Storage for maximum food safety.
Plus, I give a recap of my first cooking demo at the Inwood Greenmarket.

Featured Website:
Quick Tip: Reloading the Pepper Mill

Music: "Can't Hold It Down", Andy Sullivan.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Culinary in the Desert

Joe's website chronicles his daily recipes, menus and thoughts on food. I like the care he puts into his dishes and photos. Culinary in the Desert

Monday, September 05, 2005

Let me know what you think

I'd really love to hear from you, my readers and listeners. Tell me what you think of the podcast and the blog. I especially want to hear requests for topics, recipes, spotlight foods, and food science questions.

Having trouble with a recipe? Want advice on a killer dish for that special night with your sweetie? Curious about some aspect of the professional life of a chef? Let me know. I will try to answer all requests. You can add a comment here, or you can reach me via e-mail at

Photos from Proposal Dinner

Earlier this week, I blogged about a proposal dinner I prepared for a great couple in Long Island. Well, the groom-to-be, a talented amateur photographer himself, was kind enough to send me photos of a couple of the dishes:

Hors d'Oeuvres
Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Jicama, Mango, and Shrimp
with a Nuoc Cham Nem Sauce

Steamed Glutinous Rice with Mango Slices
and Coconut Cream

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Quick Tip: Reloading the Pepper Mill

Boy did I feel like an idiot the first time I tried using a funnel to refill the pepper grinder. Uh, the peppercorns are larger than the hole! Try rolling a piece of paper into a cone, or cutting out the bottom of a small plastic water bottle, and using the mouth as the funnel hole.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Out of Doors Cooking Demo

Well folks, it was a sunny, mild afternoon here in Upper Manhattan, and I was inspired at the Greenmarket to do three different dishes. I started the day with a Turkey Sausage Scramble:

I used a spicy Italian style Turkey sausage from Di Paola Turkey Farm in Trenton NJ, and cooked it up with some garlic, scallions and herbs, and finished it off with organic free-range eggs from Patrick Farms. (Di Paola's booth can be seen behind my right shoulder, and Patrick Farms behind my left shoulder!)

The next dish I made will be familiar to regular readers of the blog: Calabacitas. This New Mexican style dish was a perfect dish for the greenmarket, as every ingredient was available in the market today, except for the black beans.

Next I showed the people gathering how to make Vietnamese Summer Rolls. You can put just about anything in these rolls, but today I kept them simple and vegetarian, and filled them with cucumbers, carrots and lettuce from Hawthorne Valley Farm, as well as some fresh herbs and rice noodles:

I served the rolls with a traditional nuoc cham nem dipping sauce from Vietnam. It's made with rice vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, red chiles, shredded carrots and shredded papaya.

It was a fun day, and I enjoyed meeting so many of the great people that came out to enjoy the great weather and the great local foods!

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