I am just going to publish a little link here. A link that will change your life if you are off sugar and looking for dessert. It involves 1 ingredient and 1 machine.
I am just going to publish a little link here. A link that will change your life if you are off sugar and looking for dessert. It involves 1 ingredient and 1 machine.
I haven't been posting recipes here for quite some time. Either it's just more of the same old same old, Tue chicken, Weds fish, etc., or I haven't felt like taking pictures before dinner and as we know if you are going to write about food most people want a picture to drool along to. Even, my SD won't buy a cookbook unless it is loaded with pictures. Recently however, Easter day as a matter of fact, marked the day a few things changed around here. That was the last day I consumed sugar, seed oils, grains (hence no gluten) or legumes.
Well I'm not a dieter. Never believed in it. Why change your eating for a few months only to go back to your old habits when it 'ended'? I've never, ever been thin. I never really ate junk food. I don't drink soda. I'm not a sugar junky, I'd rather have a steak over a piece of cake any day, but I did grow up in a house of starch. Loads of starch. Pasta? Ah, hello...Italian. Mom never made a meal without a starch of some kind. Potatoes, rice, pasta made an appearance every night and garlic bread was her holy ghost. Out of habit I've always done the same. Husband and I did however dabble in Atkins once a few years ago. It worked great for him. He dropped weight without even thinking about it but eventually we stopped for no apparent reason. I had no intention of doing this, I wasn't seeking a change, thin is not my goal, I don't even think it is possible for me, but being healthier and feeling better is. At one point after hearing about 3 friends experiences with bariatric surgery I was actually contemplating going down that long, dark, expensive road. But on a lark one day Sam and I were talking at work about ideas for some new classes for Create a Cook. Sam is a nutritionist and creates our healthy cooking classes. We tossed out raw, vegan, new vegetarian menus, more gluten free for the allergy crowd and then Paleo came up. She wasn't sure what paleo was exactly so she said she would go home and research it. The next day she rejected it out of hand the next day saying it was all about eating bacon all the time. LOL! Typical nutritionist response! I'm working on her though and she just *might* be coming around.
I'd heard enough about Paelo to know there was more to it than bacon, but believe me there IS bacon. That weekend I started googling Paleo and Primal (see this great Venn diagram for the differences between Primal, Paleo and Atkins). I found Wolf and Cordain and then a slew of others who spoke about the diet, its origins and loads of testimonials from former fatties or those with autoimmune or health issues like diabetes or PCOS on what it has done for them. In fact if you aren't a reader spend a bit of time and take a little gander at this documentary and then think long and hard before you scoff at the very idea. One thing I did learn going down this road is that it's all about the insulin baby.
Now let me take a moment here to assure you I AM THE WORLD'S BIGGEST SKEPTIC. My father done raised me right. Nothing comes for free. Nothing good is easy. Nothing you buy on an infomercial works. Ron Popeil is a shiester. There are no shortcuts, well except the one he once took that was 20 miles out of the way but we were at least MOVING, I digress. I went into my research with a high degree of 'WHATEVER' and then I came out the other side buying books, reading them cover to cover, trawling sites, eading papers and curious for more and then I decided WHAT THE HELL you were going to have MAJOR surgery it can't hurt to try can it? And really a diet about eating meat and vegetables is a diet lifestyle change I can get behind!
I am here to tell you that just 1 week in to the change, ONE WEEK after giving up grains and hence gluten, my joints felt absolutely amazing. Knees that creaked and crack? No longer. Aches and pains that I attributed to age. NO MORE. Ocassional GI issues that I wrote off to other reasons GONE. No longer am I tired after I eat. NO more do I want to take a nap after a sandwich for lunch or pasta for dinner. I am five weeks in and I can easily see this becoming a lifestyle. I crave nothing that I can't have. I don't want sugar or chocolate. I ate potatoes 3 or 4 times a week before. I haven't had a spud in 5 weeks and I am down with that. 100% fully down. Bread? WHATEVER!
Now I'm not here to proselytize. I will never lecture you for eating that cupcake. I could care less if you wanna suck down that loaf of freshly baked sourdough. And you will not scoff at me for eating bacon or liver without first reading the research and then coming to your own conclusions. However I will tell you why I'm not eating those things - if you ask. I'm also NOT a saint. Yes, I have a beer. One. Or maybe a glass of wine or a NORCAL margarita. And bourbon - oh sweet bourbon you distilled, gluten-free saint! I ride the line somehwere between primal and paleo. I think grass fed butter is just fine. And the 1 TBS of milk or cream I put in my tea is not going to stop the world turning is it? And, yea sometimes I'm gonna use gluten free tamari cause I loves me some Asian food and coconut aminos just do NOT taste like soy no matter how much they smell like they should. Hell dudes I even bought a kettlebell. Baby steps folks. B-a-b-y s-t-e-p-s.
Over the coming weeks I will be pouring through my archives and marking things that fit the lifestyle, some with modifications which I will note on the recipe. A word off the bat. I am a cook. I will not be skipping salt in my cooking. I know the lifestyle wants you to forgo but I am controlling my own intake and I am using sea salt with trace minerals. NOT GIVING IT UP. And I will be using tricks in my arsenal like sous vide. If you haven't heard of it I am sure you have heard of google. Do a wee bit of research. I will tell you now that is simply one of the most efficient ways to cook meat EVER. Perfect level of done EVERY TIME. Sure, I have some equipment that might be out of your range, but don't fret. My friend Helen Rennie of Beyond Salmon will tell you how to make a rig on the cheap. How cheap? How's $15 bucks?
So all of this is just to tell you that I just might come back here again and put up some recipes. Nothing wrong with meat and veg is there? In fact when you see these dishes the last thing you should think is that this food is diet food. The very last thing this place will ever become is an eat this/don't eat that, follow my rules, sanctimonious food site. All food is good, just some foods are better for some of us than others. There will be no lectures, no numbers, no mention of diet. Just good food. Lots of good food.
A little photo pictorial of last weekend's projects. Today I am researching pork belly ideas. What will it be this weekend?
Painted pork bones roasting for pork stock.
Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble...
My mini kitchen upstairs in the old kitchen. We have yet to remodel the space for another use so it is currently my sous vide set up. In the bag is a chunk of pork tenderloin rolled in my house spice rub (hot paprika, smoked paprika, garlic powder, toasted onion powder, onion powder, cracked black pepper, thyme, oregano, cayenne, etc) with added fennel seeds and a dusting of fennel pollen and a piece of butter. We love the fennel in this house. Vaccum. Into circulator at 60C.
After 3 hours, seared in a red hot cast iron pan. Juices from bag poured in at last minute to glaze the meat.
Sliced after a nice rest. Perfect. Don't fear the pink people! Even husband - SIr Picky Pants who claimed he hated sous vide cooking and liked things cooked 'the normal way' polished his off, smacked his lips and said delicious. After a withering glare from she who had to listen to the winging and moaning about me not cooking dinner 'the normal way' he conceeded that sous vide is good. *sigh* Chalk it up to another battle between the Brit and the American won.
I really don't know where to begin this post because what happened is so surreal, so fabulous, so crazy that even I have a hard time believing it happened but I'll try to explain the incredible event that happened to me and subsequently, and more importantly, to Create a Cook.
I received a call one day from a man named James. He had a lovely British accent and said he was calling from Google and would I mind taking a few minutes to chat with him about my small business, my marketing and my business hopes for 2011. Now if you are a small business owner you know that you get at least 10 marketing calls a week. Usually these calls are radio and television stations or more insidiously, social marketing or coupon based marketing groups. They try to suss up who they have on the phone, claim to have just found our website, love our business, promise to take a class soon with their husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, kid, and oh by the way would you like to spend your marketing dollars with us. Some of these marketing callers are lovely and nice and when I tell them we spend most of our marketing dollars as underwriters on WBUR (public radio for those out of towners) and in a few children's based parent publications they wish me luck and ask if they can try again in 6 months. Others are not so nice, refuse to take no and basically try to tell me how foolish I am for not choosing their product to promote my business. James had two things going for him, he was polite with a fabulous accent, and we all know how I feel about British accents right? After all I did marry one. The other thing that caught my attention was that he was calling from Google. I already use Google for most things, Gmail, Google reader, Google analytics, Google docs and you know good ol' Google search. In late summer quite unexpectedly we had received a sticker in the mail about 8 months ago that said that Create a Cook was a Favorite Place on Google. I hung the sticker on the door, made sure my Google listing was correct, added some photos, contacted them about the map discrepancies and then never thought another thing about it. I thought perhaps these two things were related, but I came to find out later that the two groups work independently.
Back to the call. James and I chatted for 10 minutes or so about the business, my desires for growth in 2011, the marketing we had tried in the past and what we do now. When we finished the call he asked if he could call back next week if he still had any questions and I said, sure - why not?
Monday the call came from James and he said, "I have to come clean and tell you the real reason I am calling". It turns out that they were coming to Boston the following week and wanted to know if they could come and film an interview with me discussing the very things he and I had chatted about. Again, he was lovely and polite so I figured why not do it, it could be fun and, at the least, interesting.
Bright and early at 8:30 I'm tidying up from the weekend and staring at the usual pile of broken kitchen tools on my desk when in comes James and be begins apologizing for the large crew he has tagging along with him. The door opens and in comes 2 camera men, a sound guy, and a producer. They set up the equipment, wire me for sound and James and I talk about what questions he is going to ask. We start filming and redo a couple things and then boom - the interview is over, or so I think. James again says, I'm about to come clean again on why we are here. I have a few people I want you to meet and he looks over towards our door.
Outside there is another producer, she opens the door and in comes a man all dressed in blue wheeling a cart covered in wrapped presents. "These are new laptops and droid phones for your business to use". The man drops to his knees in front of me and does a Vanna White towards the boxes. He gets up, wheels his cart behind me and starts doing the Google dance. Oh yea. The Google Dance. Next another man comes in. He's dressed in a jumpsuit with a hard hat and cat5 cable around his shoulders. "And we are going to pay for your broadband for a year so you can use these new computers!". He shakes my hand and gets behind me to dance with the man in blue. Next to come in is a woman all dressed in red. "We realise as a small business owner there are many things that you have to do that take you away from the things you want to be doing to move your business forward so we are going to pay for your account and financial advice for a year."
By now I am starting to tear up. I mean really! This is a bit overwhelming and a tiny bit like Undercover boss gone mad.
Next in is a woman all dressed in green. "We know you would like to make your business greener so we are going to pay for you to have a consultant come in to help your business become greener". She shakes my hand and takes her place behind me with the army of people doing a Google dance.
Then James says there is one more person I want you to meet. In comes another gentleman who James introduces as James from the Google small business department. He shakes my hand and thanks me for taking the time to speak with them and agreeing to meet today and he hands me a bucket filled with those plastic magnetic letters that you use on your fridge. "We're going to give your business a $100,000 Ad Words campaign and we'll help you set up your campaign and work with you through the year so you can grow your business."
I'm standing there in shock starting to tear up and really not sure that everything that just happened was real. Well I assure you, not only was it real, but it was about to get even better.
It turns out that Create a Cook was one of 5 businesses in the country chosen to launch Google's new small business oriented adwords project. We all flew out to Mountain View, California on Tuesday to tour the Google campus, meet each other and talk with the Google guru team about the plans for our 2011 adwords campaigns. The other businesses are: Twinkle Star a children's clothing boutique in Cambridge, the lovely, and hilarious, mother and son team from Cloud 9 cupcakes in Roswell GA, Ramy's Garage in Houston TX and Atlas Flooring in TX. There are more pieces to this gift that will slowly unveil themselves over the next year. Next week we begin working on our campaigns.
To say that this is an amazing opportunity is an understatement. This gift that Google has given us could change our lives, help our businesses to grow in an uncertain economic climate, maybe give us the ability to hire new staff, build another kitchen, etc. Right now it feels like the possibilities are endless. Here is a link to the Google blog talking about the launch. Thank you James and James and Kelli and the whole Google team the trip was amazing and you've certainly made my year!
October. Really? Have I not been here since October? No, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. NO, I haven't stopped cooking, or trying new things, but I have been too busy to come here and tell you all about the adventures.
It's been a wild few months. Granted running a business does tend so chew up your hours and when a few spare ones come your way the desire to just read, or cook, or maybe just stare at the wall for a bit overtakes the urge to come here and write something new.
I have some really, big, very big, amazingly good news to tell you, but I have to keep a zipped lip until after next week. In the meantime I'll try to quickly catch you up in pictures. I haven't been bringing the big Canon out lately, my iphone has been my recorder of choice so the quality may not be brilliant, but you get the idea.
I participated in an ethnographic study where I had to do homework and take photos relating to least favorite task each weekday, most favorite, typical meal, a picture of my favorite appliance and my laundry room, etc. Later they came to my house to watch me cook, do laundry and clean. It was pretty interesting and rather fun. I might be participating in more in the future.
As you know I lost my puppy, The Pooper, in August. I wasn't quite ready for a dog yet and our work schedules being as they are a dog really wouldn't fit in right now. I started prowling around the Siamese rescue groups to adopt a flame point like my Mom's cat Blizzard. I was approved for adoption with the group and then quite unexpectedly I happened to meet an amazing cat at Baypath animal shelter out in Hopkinton. We adopted The Stig (points to anyone who gets his name reference from my favorite television show, and NO not the new American version) in December. He is a handful with a HUGE personality and he is a giant love bug. Exactly what I wanted.
The holiday season keeps me mighty busy at Create a Cook. We do loads of corporate parties and functions on top of our regular classes and December vacation camp. My world was a whirlwind until after Christmas. New Years Eve we had my Mom and SD and our friends over to hang out and have Chinese food like every other red blooded American. Except in the case, I made it all instead of ordering take out.
Tom Ka Gai, Pork spring rolls,
Pork and Napa potstickers, Shrimp and Chive pot stickers,
Hoisin ribs, Fried Rice, Tod Mun,
Scallion Pancakes, Tori Kara Age, Sweet Chili Sauce and Sarah of She Devil Sweets made us this amazing, lime sorbet over lemon curd over angel food cake concotion topped in oven dried lemon slices. SOOOO good but sadly no photos - I was to tired by then!
A week later we cooked all over again for our staff party at Create a Cook. There were asiago and pepperoni pinwheels, smoked mozzarella and oven roasted tomato pizzas, pulled pork and pulled chicken from Blue Ribbon BBQ, mini Mac and Cheese, Black truffle polenta fries with with white truffle aioli, Bacon and cheddar toasts, Lilly's amazing ribs, Spicy stuffed mushrooms, spanikopita, supli al telefono filled with mozzarella and porcini, lasagna, nacho dip, spinach and artichoke dip, chocolate nutella fondue, cookies and cakes and who knows what else. It was a fest.
I had my friend Corin Ashley to do the music and he brought two lovely friends
and there was dancing in the aisles. It was my Fezziwig moment and I am so proud and happy that I was able to do it.
And then it snowed.
There, I think you are caught up. Now next week I am off to San Francisco to visit a very large company whose campus is not far away for some big news for Create a Cook. I promise to report back!
Sunday I am pattering around the kitchen working on my 5-hour roast duck. I'm just stuffing the cavity with ginger and scallions and getting it in the oven when I see Dad pull up. I pull open the door and he wanders straight over to the kitchen table and digs his hand in a bag and starts extracting the most gorgeous giant mushrooms.
Maitake! Hen of the Woods! But, Where, How?
Someone with a '59 Pontiac who comes by the museum sometimes to hang around and check out the cars brought them over for him. Every year he goes to a certain location and picks them and being a mushroom forager myself I don't press further. Never will a mushroomer divulge their locations! This year in Maine was horrible for mushrooms, at least in my neck of the woods. Nary a chanterelle or a lobster mushroom was had and I was rather bereft at not having any delicious wild mushrooms. There is nothing I love more than being the beneficiary of foraged mushrooms.
There are a whole host of medicinal claims associated with the maitake from helping with insulin levels for type II diabetes to shrinking cancer cells. Are they true? Are they just the usual hype? I don't know, but they certainly taste good so any added benefits are just the icing on the cake.
I spent some time Sunday afternoon removing the dirty base, filling the sink with water and a little salt and floating them upside down and swishing them around. Rinse, repeat. Please, don't believe the mushroom is a sponge blather. A quick weigh before and after showed negligible water gain, but I witnessed maximum creature, worm and dirt demise. I'd rather be clean and a little waterlogged thanks. Good luck trying to just 'gently brush' the interstices of a Maitake or a hedgehog.
On Monday I brought some into work and sauteed them with a bit of salt, butter, thyme, pepper, madeira and cream and had them over a few slices of toasted Iggy's Francese. maitake or King mushroom have a nice texture, a chew, that you don't get with other mushrooms. Wild mushrooms also have a more pronounced earthy taste that I love. It would be very easy to treat these like meat in a braise or a hearty dish they are that substantial.
That afternoon Heather had an 11+ class and somewhere around 6:00 she came strolling into the office with a sample bowl of this crack that she had made from Barbara Lynch's book Stir. She knows my affection for polenta or as I put it "Oh polenta. Peasant food of many countries in various guises under various names. How I love your cheap comfort food happiness". I obsessed about those few spoonfulls all night long and by tuesday I knew what I had to have for dinner.
I hit Russo's on the way into work for a few chanterelle which are plentiful lately at around $12.99/lb vs the usual $25/lb, a tub of mascarpone, a few shallot and a piece of tartufo cheese for grating and I headed into work.
Dinner on Tuesday was the following bowl of heaven.
Cleaned and torn pieces of maitake, chanterelle or fabulous wild mushroom of your choice
Butter and olive oil
Shallot, peeled and diced fine
1 - 2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 - 4 sprigs of thyme stripped of leaves
Splash of Madeira
2 - 3 TBS cream
Heat a saute pan to medium heat and add a bit of butter and olive oil. Once the butter melts, add the shallot, turn the heat down a bit and cook 1 - 2 minutes stirring until it is soft. Don't let it get brown. Add the garlic and stir, cook 30 seconds or so. Add the mushrooms, a sprinkle of kosher salt over the top and turn the heat back up to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms exude their juice. Add the thyme leaves and continue to cook until the pan is almost dry and the mushrooms begin to brown. Add the Madeira and cook until it has been absorbed. Add the cream, continue to cook until the cream begins to brown a bit and then thicken. Taste and adjust seasonings. Keep warm.
For the polenta:
3 cups milk
3/4 cup cornmeal
5 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup mascarpone
In a large saucepan, bring the milk to a gentle high simmer. Pour the cornmeal slowly into the milk whisking all the while to prevent clumping. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add 3 tablespoons of the butter, season with 2 teaspoons salt and a few good grinds of pepper, and let the polenta cook gently, stirring occasionally, until it’s thick and the cornmeal is tender, about 20-30 minutes depending on how course your polenta is, finer grind will cook quicker.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and then the mascarpone and cook an additional 5 - 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.
Place the polenta in a bowl and top with the sauteed mushrooms. I grate over some truffle pecorino or other truffle based cheese.
For your delecation and visual stimulation a weekend in Maine.
and these...local Maine dug spuds, Nigella style.
We went out and picked things in the garden and met some visitors.
and someone who had lost their way hundreds of yards from the water.
I named him Morris P Turtle. SD brought him down to the shore and released him. He said he swam like Esther Williams.
We went to visit my favorite local butcher, Ballard's to pick up a few things to bring home and I said hello to the mascot.
and we thought about purchasing this seasoning mix for dinner.
We went out for a final cruise on the boat to look for wildlife. We saw these fellows heading south.
And a bit of Jacob's ladder and the leaves starting to turn
But sadly, no wildlife. Unless of course you count our neighbors known around here as 'the boys' and their faithful bow puppy, Zack.
My SD built us a new prep table. You can't compete with this view.
And then there was time with furry kitty love. Mr Blizzard in a rare moment. SHHHH don't tell Mom I put him in our suitcase!
The grande dame Ms Ta'a (age 16)
And Nicho our local Siberian
And then there was the return drive home with stops for pies, and produce, for fuel (Starbucks in Topsham) and the very best Whole Foods I know of, in Portland, before the final stretch home. I'm so glad Mom and SD now live in Maine full time. It is one of my very favorite places and I hope to make it one of yours.
Where have I been you might ask?
Or perhaps not.
Summer is fading like a memory and fall is nipping and snapping at its heals. It's been the usual busy time of the year for me. I finally closed on buying the cooking school where I have been the last 5 years. This summer we had our usual run of kids cooking camp for 11 weeks. There were loads of new faces and quite a few old favorites. Some of my old favorites are now working for us and making us all smile with their cheeky sense of humor, constant and lovely bursting into song, the conversion of us all into Gleeks, and newly entertaining us with their blog. Another one of my students has started his cheeky, witty restaurant review blog, keep in mind this particular writer is all of oh, 14.
The real reason for radio silence though was losing my little girl.
(The Pooper age a few months)
Door greater extrodinaire, tail wagger, wooer, confidant, gardening companion, cooking critic, bed hog, winner of every heart that ever had the pleasure of her company and general all around grande dame of the hood. She has been faithfully by my side longer than I've had husband. Her kidneys finally failed at age 15 and we spent some serious time trying to nurse her back to health, but we finally realised that she was trying for us, but we instead needed to be strong for her.
We said goodbye on Friday August 13th, arguably the hardest day of my life.
I've spent a lot of time this summer driving Panther solo around back roads in Vermont, New Hampshire and Western MA trying to clear my head and get my cooking mojo back.
(Heron on Belgrade Stream)
Also this summer, Mom and SD finally moved to Maine permanantly so we have been exploring all the nooks and crannies to seek out the coolest little food spots. I've found butchers and bakers and sausage makers (oh my!) and I hope to have some time to report the great stuff they are producing and selling. As a matter of fact, soon husband and I are going up to hang out, visit a few places, take a final cruise across the lake on the boat for the season, and to test some recipes.
Yup, testing some recipes. Finally I'm cooking again. The weather has turned cooler, the days have grown shorter and I couldn't wait to get back in the kitchen. Over the last 2 weeks husband and I have made: 7 lbs chili, 4 qts putanesca sauce, 2 qts chicken stock, 1 qt chicken cacciatore and 3 qts of rabbit ragu all tucked away in the freezer for those nights when we don't open the door until 7 or 8 (ish) and it has already been dark since 4:30. For those days when "take out" means taking it out of the chest freezer in the garage and bringing it into the house to heat it up.
In the meantime, Sam, Heather and I have been revamping the recipes for our cooking parties and we have been dreaming up a few new ones for fall and winter. This means that recipe testing has been keeping us busy. Some recipes are our own and the hard part is converting them from our heads to some sort of cohesive, logical and tempting recipe that someone can pick up and execute without asking questions of the recipe writer. No easy task I assure you. I apologise for the radio silence and the lack of culinary love, but I think, I really do think, that the time has come to offer up some ideas again and I hope that those of you who have hung around, kept Amuse Bouche in your feed reader or tuned in periodically to see if I was still breathing should be rewarded for your wait. I hope it was worth checking back in. How was your summer?
I've been following Alex and Aki at Ideas in Food for several years now and I managed to somehow miss the class they did at Stir so when it popped up in my twitter stream from @tmaws that they would be doing several classes this week as a lead up to their already sold out James Beard House dinner I decided to find a way to go. My pal Ali from here and here is home from the UK for the summer so emails were dispatched and agreements were reached and we booked in for the Activa class on Tuesday.
While Ali and I were driving over he said "How much would you like to bet I will be the only person under 18 in the room?" I knew we would get some looks, but if anyone heard him talk about food they would change any preconceived notions immediately. I've known Ali for about 4 or 5 years now when he started taking classes with us at Create a Cook. He has gone from mildly interested to sincerely passionate about food in that time. He is my first choice to call for any foodie field trip. He takes classes at Stir and spends so much time there and at No9 Park that Barbara Lynch invited him to the soft opening at Menton. How's that for 14 years old? He's toured her kitchens, lamented missing the pigs head with me at the Craigie on Main pig night, and his parents just built him his own experimental kitchen in the basement. He is currently obsessed with getting a Pacojet and an anti-griddle and this class did nothing to dampen his enthusiasm for the Pacojet.Quite simply he wants to be the next Heston Blumenthal or Ferran Adria. I'm just along for the ride to feed his brain with ideas and maybe someday get a good table.
Activa, for the uninitiated, is simply an enzyme that allows proteins to bond together. There are versions that work with dairy, versions that work well with soy and two that work well with meats. Alex ran us through all 4 versions with a demonstration of the application. The photo at the top is his shrimp salumi. Basically chopped shrimp, seasoned with cayenne, smoked paprika, garlic powder and salt and then bound with Activa RM, pressed into a ring mold and then put under vacuum and left to chill. Texturally it felt a bit like a firm jelly, cooked it would have the nice snap of the shrimp in the mouth. Sliced thin and wrapped around a scallop and seared or layered between beef for a spin on a surf and turf. A dish I could never understand the appeal of, but obviously widely loved by the number of times you see it on menus.
The coolest demo though was for mozzarella noodles. Yup. Noodles made from cheese. Spin that around for awhile my fellow cheese hounds. They took mozzarella and ricotta some salt and the Activa Y-G and spun it a few times in the Pacojet. Using an offset spatula Alex spread it thinly on some acetate sheets and then you let it set up in the fridge for 18-24 hours. It peels off the acetate in a thin sheet and then just cut it into fettucine or tagliatelle with a knife. They passed them around both raw and cooked in a bit of butter. I loved the texture raw, but wasn't as enamoured when it was cooked. But just imagine it raw tossed with a fresh tomato salsa. Caprese fettucine?
Ali's favourite dish was the bread pudding that tasted like a ramped up version of French Toast. I loved the hangar steak, folded in half, glued, wrapped with thin slices of bacon, compressed and then...Deep fried. HELLO. It was almost impossible to see where the halves were attached when sliced. Really amazing. Alex is incredibly knowledgeable about the various products and their uses, but I wish we had more demo. It was really fascinating to see the products transform in front of you. Our heads were spinning with ideas as we left Craigie. Ali was remembering an episode he saw where they had to make a turducken in 30 minutes. He was already thinking of taking a breast of each, pounding them thin and then pasting them together and compressing them.
Is this something the average cook is going to use everyday? No. Will it gradually trickle down and find some home applications? Absolutely.
Eventually we wound up over at Formaggio on Huron, Ali had only ever been to the one in the south end and I felt that he should go to the mothership. He was, for lack of a better word, gobsmacked. Every nook and cranny was investigated. I lead him room to room and then said " And now we are entering the room of happiness", and I waved my arm at the cheese wall. "Cheese" we both sighed. Like rats we both picked up a bit of this and a bit of that and grabbed two sandwiches for lunch. We hopped back in the truck and we decided we needed to find a place to eat our spoils. We headed over to the most beautiful place I could think of on short notice, the Mt. Auburn cemetery, and had a drive around and ate our spoils in the midst of the eternally quiet. I'm taking bets on which one of us will order some Activa to play with first. The circulator awaits.
I've been clearing out my 10 years of cooking magazines, culling recipes, etc. This is one of my favorite photos from Saveur, I thought I had lost it but the issue magically appeared in a heap on my library desk. Given the weather we have been having lately I think we could try this at home, but these ladies are making tomato paste in Sicily. The house dress and wedge shoes are reminiscent of my Italian Grandmother Olga.