Monthly Archives: April 2011

What’s For Dessert?

Photos: Johanna Bobrow, Courtesy of Journeyman

What do dessert-making and bingo have in common? A great deal, according to co-owner and chef Tse Wei Lim of Journeyman in Somerville.

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Tse Wei Lim
Chef, Journeyman
PRK Guest Contributor

For this month’s post, Jessica and Sue asked a question we get on a regular basis – how does a restaurant without a pastry chef come up with desserts?

The unglamorous answer is: the same way we come up with all our other food. Creating dishes is a craft, much as cooking itself is a craft, and the work is the same whether the food is savory or sweet. Numerous cooks of considerable distinction have tried to describe this process before – and all the descriptions boil down to much the same thing – having a mental toolkit of ways to elaborate on germinal ideas and turn them into complete dishes. Dishes do sometimes pop into your head, but more often it’s a process of just trying one question after another till something finally clicks, like trying to find the right ratchet for an old bolt. Continue reading

Food Therapy for a Royal Wedding

Photo: Ben Sutherland/Flickr

Do you hear that? How could you not – the royal wedding bells are tolling so loudly they’ve reached this side of the ocean at full volume.

Rumors of the dress, wedding guests and seating arrangements are all very interesting, but really, cut to it.

What about the food??

PRK has been reading all about the royal wedding desserts, including William’s tea biscuit groom’s cake from the Telegraph.

Here’s something new: the shock of the century regarding the “wedding of the century” – Kate’s choice of fruit cake for her wedding cake has sparked a boom in sales of fruit cake!! Seriously, fruit cake. The Wall Street Journal‘s Angus Loten reported out-of-season sale increases on the confection at bakeries in Vermont and Texas.

The dinner menu is still is secret, but many have speculated. Unsurprisingly, most guess the cuisine will be very English and very seasonal. See a slideshow of royal wedding food history at Food and Wine.

In you want to cook your own version of a royal feast, look to today’s Food Therapy from Aimee Seavey at The Apron Archives. Amy has put together a great compilation of English recipes to toast William and Kate’s nuptials. Who wouldn’t want to down a trifle or two while they say ‘I do.”

How about you  – had enough of the Royal Wedding, or will you cook something special to celebrate?

Thursday Tidbits: Baking and Drinking

Photo: whitneyinchicago/Flickr

LOCAL BITES

Pop!
The pop up restaurant trend is hitting Boston with a slow, steady punch. And we’re all the better for it. Barbara Lynch’s 9 at Home has joined the mêlée with a spring pop-up of her own tonight and tomorrow night at Twelve Chairs. On the seasonal menu: morels, fois gras, rib eye and more. Tickets are $125, which includes wine pairings. Call (617) 742-9991 to make a reservations – seats are limited to 50 diners per evening.

Bakery on Stage
On April 30 and May 1, Theatre@First in Davis Square will be performing a play inspired by Lyndell’s Bakery in Somerville. According to the theatre, “The Bakery is a romance about a forty-something baker in the aftermath of an unexpected divorce.” The play was written by local food writer Lisë Stern who said the performance includes live music by Sweet Wednesday, along with locally made cookies and cupcakes.

Muscadet Love
A taste of France is heading to Boston for the month of May. Restaurants including Island Creek Oyster Bar, Aquitaine, Brasserie Jo and wine retailers like the Wine Bottega, Central Bottle and South End Formaggio are working to bring Muscadet wine from the Loire Valley to Boston. The wine is described as unpretentious with “dry, mineral flavors and acidity” that makes it a great match for New England seafood, namely oysters. The Muscadet madness includes two events, May 1 and 14, to celebrate the wine and eat oysters. Continue reading

Liquid Therapy from A Dash of Bitters

The Martinez (Photo by Jennifer Hess)

Over the winter I finally discovered the glories of Old Tom Gin, a sweeter, slightly maltier cousin of the ubiquitous London Dry. It works especially well in a cocktail called the Martinez, a precursor to the martini that features Old Tom and sweet vermouth.

Rhode Island blogger and spirits columnist Michael Dietsch of A Dash of Bitters recently devoted a short post to the Martinez, giving his recipe for this wonderful little drink.

Dietsch’s version leans heavy on the gin (there’s an interesting conversation in the comments section about the recipe’s historical accuracy). But while it’s drier than most Martinez’s I’ve had, the drink is none the worse for it, especially if you want to focus on the flavor of the Old Tom.

PRK On The Air: The Wild Greens Of Spring

Photo: Jesse Costa for WBUR

A sure sign we’ve hit SPRING! in New England– those fabulous spring leeks, AKA ramps, start popping up in wooded areas (hopefully not too far from home).   Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst searches for a few wild greens in New Hampshire and takes us along.  Click HERE for the audio and some gorgeous recipes and photos.

Also, check out Kathy’s essay on spring greens: Wild Things: I think I Love You

More:

Liquid Therapy from Lady Gouda

margarita

Photo: Courtesy of Lady Gouda

My tastes are always one season behind. When it was winter, I dreamed of radishes, peas, asparagus and all those other dainty delicacies of spring. And now that these crops are in abundance, and the weather is lovely, wet and mild, all I can think about is sitting on a beach somewhere, temperatures in the 90s, sipping on some sort of drink with an umbrella in it.

I suspect I’m not alone in this.

So let’s raise a glass to Lady Gouda, who brought back a little bit of heat with her from a recent trip to California. Inspired by a simple drink she enjoyed at a Golden State restaurant, she tweaked a Food and Wine recipe for a citrus-y, mix-free margarita.

Sure, the temperatures are still in the 60s, but it’s at least supposed to be sunny this weekend – why not enjoy it with style? I’ll bring the limes; you bring the Jimmy Buffett CD.

Food Therapy from Bottom-Up Food

Photo: Bottom-Up Food

Today’s Food Therapy comes emphatically in the
non-dessert form. I figure we need a break from the cupcakes, tortes, Easter treats and chocolates that we’ve consumed in one form or another or the past ten days!

Here’s some savory, wholesome fare from Bottom-Up Food: Homemade Triple Orange-Root Soup. It “packs a mean beta-carotene punch” thanks to a combo of butternut squash, carrots and sweet potato. There’s a bit of ginger and maple syrup involved, too, plus a dollop of tart yogurt for the mixing.

If you think visually, like I do, you’ll love the format of Bottom-Up Food’s concise, beautifully-photographed posts. They stay true to their mission of reducing “recipes down to the most elemental ingredients” — as this picture shows.

But, back to the soup. You’ll feel this goodness to the tips of your toes. That’s some punch!

Beans in Bean-town

Photos: Courtesy of Powisset Farm

In this month’s post from Powisset Farm, Meryl LaTronica takes us on an epic journey. She hints at economies of scale, the labor involved and the time invested in producing one of the most important sources of plant-based protein out there: legumes.

Meryl LaTronica
Farm Manager, Powisset Farm

At Powisset Farm we raise our own pigs, we bring in eggs from Brambly Farms in Norfolk and we sell grass-fed beef from our fellow Trustees’ Farm, Appleton Farms, in Ipswich, MA. But what about growing a protein that is not derived from animals? What about beans? Why is it that we grow 65 different crops on the farm, but we omit growing some of the basic staples of our diet, grains and beans?

Well, for starters, you need a lot of space to grow enough grains and beans to feed all 300 people in our CSA, and the dollar value of those crops are not nearly what they are if we chose to grow the same amount of arugula or tomatoes.

And secondly, processing beans and grains is quite an expedition. Let me take you on the journey of the dry beans at Powisset Farm.

It all started when my co-worker Molly brought out the seed catalogs last winter to show me all the beautiful varieties of beans we could be growing. Continue reading

How to use up all that Easter candy

Peeps

Photo: TBoard/Flickr

Here’s how I got rid of my Easter candy: I ate it. And probably gained five pounds in the process.

But I know some of you probably have a lot more candy lying around today than I do – especially if you have children. You might not feel comfortable with them (or you) binging on sweets for the next week. Or maybe you’re just looking for a creative way to send the holiday off.

Here are some ideas to use up that candy. Some of them are probably healthier than just eating candy bars alone; others are just fun; and some are basically science experiments that may or may not end up tasting good.

After all, if you really wanted to abstain from those chocolate eggs and jelly beans, you’d do what half the WBUR office did: foist them onto your coworkers.

  • Bake candy and other snacks into cookies, muffins, pancakes – any recipe that can withstand a good jumble of ingredients. The more variety, the better; for one of my favorite pancakes, I just mix a bunch of trail mix in with the batter, in order to provide a different taste and texture with every bite. This Momofuku Milk Bar Compost Cookie recipe follows the same basic concept, to addicting results.
  • Mix jelly beans into homemade “Chex Mix” – Jelly Belly’s website has a recipe that I find alternately gross and strangely appealing.
  • Make a “Peepuccino” by frothing a peep into strong, black coffee. Or, if you want to make a meal out of your Peeps – maybe a sweet potato and Peep casserole?
  • And then: there’s the chocolate. Really, there’s a million ways to use chocolate, from the sweet to the savory. Here’s one idea: adding some to a Coq Au Vin. No less a source than David Lebovitz says that many Parisians make their chicken with a little chocolate to season!

Let’s hear from you guys in the comments – how do you use candy in everyday cooking? Or is it best enjoyed straight from the wrapper?

Cutty’s Roast Beef 1000

Cutty's Roast Beef 1000 (Photo: Susanna Bolle)

It’s the sandwich of a thousand superlatives. Critics from Boston and beyond have sung its praises. Francis Lam of Salon went so far as to describe it as the greatest roast beef sandwich he has ever tasted.

The name of this celebrated sandwich? The Roast Beef 1000. It’s the brainchild of Charles Kelsey and his wife Rachel Toomey, the owners of a lovely little sandwich shop called Cutty’s in Brookline Village, who joke that it’s it the future of roast beef. “It’s by far our biggest seller,” says Charles Kelsey, the owner of Cutty’s. “But it wasn’t intended to be that way.” Word has it that their unique take on the Spuckie was supposed to be the shop’s iconic item, but as far as the customers at Cutty’s are concerned, the Roast Beef 1000 is king. Continue reading