Category Archive 'Cuisine'
17 Apr 2016

The Hard Life of a People’s Commissar

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BernieMenu1

New York Times reporter Yamiche Alcindor yesterday tweeted the menu of the bill of fare on Bernie Sanders private chartered plane wafting the man-of-the-people back home from his meeting with the Pope.

Those champions of the common man certainly know how to live.

BernieMenu2

28 Feb 2016

Millennials Make Much Ado About Cereal

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CerealShop
London’s Cereal Killer Cafe

Apparently, a lot of them find it too much trouble to consume.

Fox News:

A study has found that America’s millennials are skipping out on cereal because it’s simply too much of an inconvenience.

(Yes, the cold kind that requires little more than pouring something into a bowl and then pouring milk over it.)

An astonishing 40 percent of millennials surveyed said they reach for something else, like a smoothie or breakfast bar, reported by The New York Times.

One of the biggest problems was with the washing up. “Almost 40 percent of the millennials surveyed by Mintel for its 2015 report said cereal was an inconvenient breakfast choice because they had to clean up after eating it,” it reported.

Another factor included the fact that many consumers don’t want to start their day with processed grains.

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But they’ve solved the problem in Blighty. London now has a cereal cafe to save you all the effort of serving it and cleaning up yourself.

The Sun:

Located a stone’s throw from the similarly kooky cat cafe, Cereal Killer has 120 types of cereals from across the world on offer – and twelve varieties of milk to pour over them, from plain old semi-skimmed to strawberry and lactose free.

And at £3.50 for a large bowl, it’s set to make a killing.

After opening its doors for the first time at 7am yesterday, over 100 people turned up within three hours, eager to indulge in exotic American delicacies like Poppin’ Fruity Pebbles – a cereal loaded with tongue-tingling popping candy – and marshmallow-laden Lucky Charms.

For those desperate for an extreme sugar rush – or simply wanting to sidestep the dentist by rotting a rogue wisdom tooth directly out of their jaw – there’s also the option to add on extra toppings including chocolate chips, crushed Kinder hippos and fresh fruit – at 50p a time.

But you don’t have to be adventurous to eat here, you can still enjoy a small bowl of plain cornflakes – for the price of a 750g box from Sainsbury’s.

Cereal Killer, which stays open until 10pm for anyone who fancies a cold, milky dinner, is the brainchild of Belfast-born twins Alan and Gary Keery, 32.

The idea came to them during an afternoon stroll in London when they both fancied a bowl of cereal, but couldn’t get one anywhere.

“We’re celebrating cereal,” said Alan. “It totally baffled us that people eat cereal every day at home – but never outside the home. It’s crazy it’s never been done before.”

04 Jan 2016

How to Make Roman Bread

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In 79 A.D. in Herculaneum a baker put a loaf of bread into his oven. The oven was opened in the course of excavations in 1930. In 2013, the British Museum asked Georgio Locatelli to recreate the recipe.

27 Apr 2015

How to Skin a Deer Using a Golf Ball and a Pickup Truck

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04 Apr 2015

16-Course Lunch at the World’s Best Restaurant

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noma-japan-2-bontanebi
Course 2: bontanebi (still twitching shrimp) served with bits of wood ants featuring a lemon-scented pheromone.

Jeralyn Gerba undoubtedly pulled rank as a prominent travel blogger to get to the front of a 60,000+-long line of eager diners trying to catch a meal during the world-famous Copenhagen-based Noma restaurant’s six week long “pop-up” visit to Tokyo.

[M]y epic midday meal was like a thousand-year culture and history lesson served in a few dozen bites. …

I was psyched to hear the Noma philosophy straight from the horse’s mouth. How does a restaurant become the best in the world? How does such an outlandishly expensive operation create enough buzz to maintain the spotlight? You’d expect some flash (hello, 16-course tasting menu) and a few gimmicks (serving “technically dead” crustaceans covered in ants), but you might underestimate, as I did, the degree to which each and every item on the plate (not to mention the plate itself) has meaning, intention, and purpose. There’s an answer for everything, including moving to Japan. These guys are not messing around.

Read the whole thing.

12 Mar 2015

Baker Soup

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MorysMenu
An Old Mory’s Menu

Mory’s started out as a neighborhood New Haven bar on Temple Street, not far from campus, frequented by Yale students in the late 19th century. In 1912, Mory’s was scheduled to close and be demolished, but the affluent Yale men of that era refused to give it up. They simply purchased the bar and moved the whole building, kit and caboodle, to a new location on York Street, even closer to campus, and arranged to have it operated as a private club.

Before WWII, Mory’s was exclusive and expensive and membership was restricted to wealthy (and non-Jewish) Yale men. As time passed, however, Mory’s became more democratic. First every male undergraduate could join, then every Yale faculty member & employee, then females, now God only knows.

In my day, Mory’s was still the preferred drinking place for undergraduate singing groups and societies, but it was already too expensive to be a real undergraduate institution. Mory’s really made its money serving lunches and dinner to Yale bureaucrats and New Haven bigshots. The Mory’s of the late 1960s was already unionized, and one fine day its management announced that Mory’s no longer cared to stay open to 11:30 PM. They began closing earlier, after dinner service ended, so undergraduate clubs were no longer able to adjourn to Mory’s at the conclusion of evening meetings for a shared toasting cup and a few beers.

Mory’s (in my view, deservedly) went broke in 2008, and closed indefinitely. The Yale Alumni Magazine searched its soul over whether such an (imaginarily) elite and reactionary institution ought ever to be re-opened. But, the Yale Administration, in the final analysis, really did need a traditional sort of place to eat lunch and entertain, so a fund-raising effort was made and the old whited sepulchre saved and re-opened.

Mory’s continues to close early, but it does remain an exemplar of old-fashioned WASP elite culture in one respect: its menu. In my day, and even today, Mory’s retains essentially the same old fashioned simple and stodgy menu of yore, featuring such offerings as Welsh Rarebit, French Dip Sandwiches, and Rhode Island Clam Chowder, characteristic of the genuinely elite WASP club.

Elite WASPs like that kind of cuisine, and they abhor change*.

David Ross ’92, now an English professor at Chapel Hill, retains a particular affection for, of all things, Baker Soup, a menu item apparently unique to Mory’s, and he has devoted considerable energy and research into duplicating the secret recipe. Mr. Ross’s resulting article, I’m told, appeared yesterday in some newspaper in North Carolina, but he graciously agreed to allow me to share it with my readers here.

My eight years in New Haven, Connecticut—four as an undergraduate and another four as a newspaper reporter—ended in a hail of bullets and a falling body. The former redecorated my apartment lobby, the latter plummeted past my eighth-floor balcony at 3 a.m. New Haven—at least during the early 90s—was that kind of town.

I don’t miss the sirens, the dirty snow or the fake gothic. I do miss Mory’s, the legendary dining club situated in a clapboarded, warren-roomed manse incongruously tucked between two epitomes of the modern mindset: the Yale graduate school and a rock club called Toad’s Place.

Mory’s is to New Haven what Antoine’s is to New Orleans—a redoubt of bygone sensibility. You go there to eat, but even more to ponder the fork- and knife-carved words in the old wood and to pretend that it’s 1912, the year Mory’s opened at its present location.

As you order pommes de terre souffles and bread pudding at Antoine’s, so you order—unwaveringly and ritually—the Baker Soup and Welsh rarebit at Mory’s. The Mediterranean dieter who orders the seafood risotto for $27 misapprehends everything.

What is this “Baker Soup”? Nobody knows. Superficially, it’s a curry-flavored cream soup of vaguely ochre hue. The operative ingredients seem to be carrot, celery, onion and tomato, though this is a controversial speculation.

A year ago, feeling oddly homesick for the film noir dankness of New Haven and remembering the life-infusing counter-dynamic of the Baker Soup, I set myself the task of engineering a recipe based on twenty-year-old memories.

I devised a pumpkin-apple soup to which I naturally added a splash of Calvados in homage to my Francophile hero A.J. Liebling. Though luscious, my soup was not the soup. The color was right, but there was too much richness, sweetness and complexity. And my 2-hp Vitamix produced a super-silky potage plainly over-beholden to technology. Baker Soup, in my recollection, is homier and earthier: a peasant rather than a Parisian soup.

I put the question to a Yale listserv. There was an animated response: philosophies unfurled, chemistries clashed, recipes flew. There was a certain amount of nonsense, but one Baker Soup devotee claimed to have a friend who had cooked at Mory’s back in the day and had divulged the outline.

This devotee wrote: “It’s a cream of tomato and curry soup, starting with fresh tomatoes and chicken stock and thickened with bread. The secret ingredient is carrot. The current Mory’s incarnation uses a little too much carrot, a little too much garlic, not enough curry powder. And it’s too smooth. The result is a slightly more elegant, but somehow less satisfying dish.”

Building on these intelligent hints, I conjured a plausible facsimile. Here, then, are two recipes—mine and his—both warming, one classic.

Pumpkin-Apple Soup with Curry and Calvados (serves 4)

    2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

    ½ large yellow onion (200 grams), preferably Vidalia, sliced

    1 Golden Delicious apple, sliced

    1 15 oz.-can pumpkin puree

    3 cups unsalted chicken stock

    1 cup whole milk

    ¼ cup heavy cream

    1 Tbsp. curry powder (or to taste)

    2 tsp. Calvados

    1 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste)

In a stock pot, melt the butter until it begins to brown. Add the onion and sauté until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the apple and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin, stock and milk. Simmer at medium temperature for 15 minutes. Transfer to a blender—preferably a Vitamix—and process to a silky, airy puree. Return the soup to the pot. Finish with the cream, curry powder, Calvados and salt (in quarter-teaspoon increments, tasting as you add). The soup should be thick but not inert; it should run, but just barely. Adjust the consistency by adding additional stock. A full tablespoon of curry powder produces a modest piquancy; for a milder soup reduce to 2 tsp.

Mory’s Baker Soup (serves 4)

    2 medium beefsteak tomatoes (575 grams)

    3–4 large carrots (400 grams)

    ½ large yellow onion (200 grams), preferably Vidalia

    2–3 medium stalks celery (150 grams)

    3 cloves garlic

    4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

    ½ cup dry vermouth

    1 Tbsp. curry powder

    1 tsp. ground ginger

    4 cups unsalted chicken stock

    1 bay leaf

    1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs (roughly food-processed French baguette)

    ¼ cup heavy cream

    1 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste)

Parboil the tomatoes (to release the skins), 1 minute. Peel, seed and dice the cooled tomatoes. Dice the carrots, onion and celery. Finely mince the garlic. Melt the butter in a stock pot. Add the carrots, onion, and celery. Sweat until softened, 15 minutes. Add the vermouth and reduce by half. Add the garlic, curry powder and ground ginger, stirring to combine. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock and bay leaf. Simmer at medium-low temperature for 20 minutes. Add the breadcrumbs and continue to simmer, 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and roughly puree (be sure to retain some texture). Return the soup to the pot. Finish with the cream and salt (in quarter-teaspoon increments, tasting as you add). Garnish with parsley, chives or croutons.

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Notes:

“Curry powders” differ enormously. To avoid winding up with an excessively exotic or assertive soup, I recommend a mundane supermarket brand like McCormick.

The quality of your soup will depend on the quality of your stock. Do not be tempted by salted and MSG-laden stocks. A deep-souled homemade stock is ideal.

* Old Joke

How Many WASPs does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: 5. One to change the bulb, and four to stand around reminiscing about how great the old light bulb used to be.

Morys
Mory’s

11 Dec 2014

Largest White Truffle Sold at Auction

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white-truffle-4.16

Italia Living:

[A] record-setting 4.16-pound [1.8869 k.] white truffle [Tuber magnatum] found by Sabatino Truffles in Umbria, Italy, has sold for $61,250 at a New York City auction.

Sotheby’s says the fungus was sold Saturday to a food and wine lover from Taiwan bidding by phone.

The firm had said it turned down million-dollar offers from buyers in China. Instead, it chose to auction the truffle in New York to benefit Citymeals-on-Wheels and the Children’s Glaucoma Foundation.

Sabatino Truffles spokeswoman Jane Walsh had said the truffle was slightly smaller than an American football. She says the average white truffle that’s unearthed is about the size of a walnut.

Sotheby’s says the previous largest white truffle ever found was 2.5 pounds [1.1339 k.].

Via Ratak Monodosico.

25 Aug 2014

Chinese Chef Dies From Cobra Bite, Bite Occurring Twenty Minutes After Head Was Cut Off

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IBT (australia):

An already decapitated cobra head was still able to bite a chef twenty minutes after the head was cut off from the snake’s body. The chef died immediately before being given an anti-venom medication.

In preparing for a specialty menu, known as the Snake Soup, chef Peng Fan severed the cobra’s head, left it aside while he diced its body.

Twenty-minutes after his preparation, he picked the cobra’s decapitated head and plans to throw it in the garbage can. This was when the head bit him, and injected its poisonous venom into the chef’s body.

The incident took place in a high-end restaurant in Guangdong province, southern China.

Restaurant guests said that they heard commotion from the kitchen. The staff at the restaurant then called for a doctor but the chef was already dead when the medical assistance arrived.

Probably Naja siamensis

Hat tip to James Harberson.

05 Aug 2014

Mystery Meat

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James_Bond

Karen and I have been filling up our eReaders with free classics, forgotten novels, new releases, and classic pulp. After re-reading all of John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee mysteries, I just started working my way through Ian Fleming’s James Bonds.

You can really feel the passage of time, reading these 60 years on. In Diamonds Are Forever, Bond stays at the Astor Hotel in New York (torn down in 1968). He rejoices that Felix Leiter is taking him to an air-conditioned restaurant: Sardi’s. Back in 1956, not all restaurants were.

Bond’s gracious host Felix proceeds to order Bond a special meal.

“… I’ve taken a chance and ordered you smoked salmon and Brizzola,” said Leiter. “This is one of the best places in town for beef, and Brizzola’s the best cut of that, straight cut across the bone. Roasted and then broiled. Suit you?” …

The smoked salmon was from Nova Scotia, and a poor substitute for the product of Scotland, but the Brizzola was all that Leiter said, so tender that Bond could cut it with a fork.

These days, of course, a fellow can look up Brizzola on the Internet, and not just wonder at Ian Fleming’s savoir faire versus one’s own ignorance.

And one finds that one is not alone in wondering about this mysterious dish.

Peter Morwood writes:

Bond writer Raymond Benson, in The James Bond Bedside Companion describes it as a fictional invention by Fleming. One thing it certainly is not, was the only Italian form of meat with a similar name that I was able to find. Bresaola, though looking and sounding close to Brizzola, is neither roasted nor broiled but air dried and served in thin slices as an antipasto starter or snack.

This could have been on Sardi’s menu along with some other beef main course, and Fleming mixed them up. He did that in several books, with food, wine and even guns (but carried off his mistakes with such verve that these are the Bondian aspects he’s supposed to have been most knowledgeable about!) I suspect we’re back to that fir-cone situation, where Fleming was told something he’d never heard of before, and described it in terms that seemed most familiar to him. …

The Brizzola business of double-cooking made me think of that memorable dinner, not only roasting beef, but broiling it afterwards. One would think that would end up with seriously overcooked meat, but from Bond’s reaction, it clearly did no such thing. More to the point, a consultation of our cookbooks – we have about 400, after the last cull – suggest that “broiling” isn’t just a way to cook food, but also to finish it after another, longer cooking method. You can see the elements falling into place…

Then I encountered an Italian dish called Brasato di Manzo al Barolo, which is beef braised in (very good) red wine, then served in thick slices – tranches, to use the old term. The slices are thick enough to pass under a seriously-hot commercial broiler to produce a burnt, crunchy finish without actually cooking the slice of braised meat any further, and whether this was done to the proper recipe or not, it sounded like a feasible way for a restaurant to put its individual spin on the dish.

Besides describing unfamiliar things in familiar terms, Ian Fleming, bless his little cotton socks, had (according to at least a couple of observers) no head for drink, and as a result his “research meals” for James Bond novels were often something of a mishmash of incorrect or illegible notes. I’ve even seen one source suggesting that Bond’s famous “shaken not stirred” Martini – which apparently contradicts the way in which every martini was made prior to that – was a result of Fleming sampling far too many martinis, getting the method wrong, and then sticking to his guns afterwards. It doesn’t hurt that in his essay How to Write a Thriller he elaborates on how someone going against the grain like that makes for a more interesting character, which works for me. The only place it doesn’t work is that such behaviour makes said character stand out and become memorable – both characteristics that a spy would do well to avoid.

It seemed to me that we’d found at least one likely candidate for “Brizzola.” Diane had other suggestions; that it might originally have been a deliberately-underdone rib roast cut between the ribs into individual portions like really large T-bone steaks, and finished on or under a grill. Alternately, it could have been a London broil sliced and finished in the same way, which is what I did to a fine piece of rump steak the other night, for my birthday dinner.

The meat had been marinating since Monday in olive oil, red wine, red wine vinegar, oregano, cracked pepper and crushed garlic. It was then slow roasted, frequently basted with the marinade, then cut into four thick slices and whizzed under the grill. Luckily our kitchen cooker has a very enthusiastic grill, if it’s allowed to preheat properly, so the end result was delicious.

And yes, you can cut it with a fork…!

DiamondsAreForever

03 Aug 2014

The Proper Way to Divide a Parmesan Cheese

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06 May 2014

If Eden Had Been in China…

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ChineseAdam&Eve

18 Mar 2014

Clarissa Dickson Wright, 24 June 1947 — 15 March 2014

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Clarissa Dickson Wright, “the larger of the Two Fat Ladies,” passed away recently aged 66.

She was the daughter of very rich, but alcoholic and abusive, father. At age 26, she inherited 2.8 million pounds, thereupon embarking “on almost a decade of extravagance and debauchery.”

The Telegraph obituary reports that:

By age 40, she had blown it all on “yachts in the Caribbean, yachts in the Aegean, aeroplanes to the races – and drink”. “If I’d had another £100,000,” she conceded, “I’d have been dead.”

She had studied successfully for a law degree, and been the first woman admitted to the Admiralty Bar, but in 1980, she was charged with professional incompetence and practicing without chambers. She was disbarred three years later.

At rock bottom she went to the DSS to ask for somewhere to live, only to be told: “We’re not here for the likes of you, you know. You’re upper class, you’ve got a Law degree.”

She began to cook in other people’s houses. “Of course it’s only the upper classes who will become domestic servants now,” she reflected. “Other people feel it demeans them.” One day, when preparing to cook for a house party, she was on her knees, cleaning the floor. “I looked up,” she remembered, “and said ‘Dear God, if you are up there, please do something.’” The next day she was arrested for refusing a breathalyser. “I was carted down the long drive just as the house party was coming up it. From then on, I was inexorably swept into recovery.”

BBC producer Patricia Llewellyn found her running a bookshop in Edinburgh and teamed her with the also colorful and eccentric Jennifer Paterson, then a columnist at The Spectator. Their program, Two Fat Ladies, achieved enormous popularity by flying in the face of healthy eating and enthusiastically embracing traditional items of cuisine, loaded with fat, sugar, calories, and cholesterol.

She smoked a pipe, boasted of having had sex behind the Speaker’s Chair in the House of Commons, and defied the Hunt Ban by attending a greyhound coursing exhibition, and when prosecuted told the Press that she would be glad to go to prison “for hunting.”

She was even a friend of Steve Bodio’s.


She was slender as a young girl.

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20 Feb 2014

I Need One of These

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Photo from Rafal Heydel-Mankoo of a feature found in the dining booths of Bob Bob Ricard, a posh restaurant featuring Russian & English cuisine in London’s West End.

03 Feb 2014

Recipe for Lembas

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Lembas

“Eat little at a time, and only at need. For these things are given to serve you when all else fails. The cakes will keep sweet for many many days, if they are unbroken and left in their leaf-wrappings, as we have brought them. One will keep a traveler on his feet for a day of long labour, even if he be one of the tall men of Minas Tirith.”
The Fellowship of the Ring, “Farewell to Lorien.”

You can find all sorts of things on the Internet including, as I discovered via Facebook yesterday, a French recipe blog, delightfully titled La cuisine de mes humeurs!, which includes an entire section on recipes for dishes allegedly originating in Middle Earth (Les Terres Du Milieu), including such tempting offerings as Tarte aux fruits rouges façon hobbit, Le gratin du Mordor, Les bouchées elfiques, La truite au four façon Gondor, and even Lembas, le pain de route elfique.

My translation of the Lemas recipe goes:

For 5 lembas, you need:

3 tablespoons crushed almonds

3 tablespoons crushed hazelnuts

3 tablespoons pine nuts

3 tablespoons unsalted sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon crushed garlic

1 egg

1 tablespoon Forest Honey

1 section squeezed tangerine

1 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon table salt

30g unsalted butter

144g of whole wheat flour

NB : The whole wheat flour gives the bread a tan color, if you prefer, you may use white flour.

Grind the pine nuts and sunflower seeds with a pestle. Melt the butter and mix with the flour in a bowl. Add the egg, before attempting to break the egg, say the Elven prayer: “In May ninista” which means “I am well aware of that,” for indeed, the elves do not like having to take an animal’s life, even if it is only in the form of an egg! If you cannot pronounce the Sindarin, say “I see you.” I think that also works ;-)

Add forest honey and the juice of a section of tangerine (squeezed by hand). In another bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix with the dough, kneading well. Form a ball of dough and chill for 15 minutes in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 180° C (310° F) Spread your dough 1 cm thick and cut into squares. Incise a diagonal cut on each square and then say: “Alamenë” which simply means “Go with my blessing.” This will help travelers who eat the bread on the road. I can not guarantee that this works but why not take the risk of trying it? :-)

Bake about 25 minutes, the bread is lightly brown but not risen. Take it out of the oven and allow it to cool. Meanwhile wash the leaves and dry them on a clean cloth. Finally, finish your lembas by folding the leaf around the loaf.

(The elves use large leaves from the mallorne, also called the golden tree, which is found today in Lothlórien. For a substitute, you must choose large solid and flexible leaves, which most importantly must be non-toxic. … I use the leaves of an old magnolia that grows near the woods where I played as a child. … Remember to rinse the leaves with clear water and dry them on a clean cloth.)

The Elven bread keeps for weeks and months and is incorruptible, a quality we hobbits, men, dwarves, and other creatures devoid of elven powers cannot reproduce. It is principally due to the mallorne leaves which protect the bread so that it does not become moldy. Your bread will, however, only remain edible and good for three days, if you protect it from damp and excessive heat.

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