Tis’ The Season To Fry!

IMG_5967I’m just using Chanukah as an excuse to use my new deep fryer.  After years of eschewing unnecessary kitchen appliances I finally broke down and bought a little Cuisinart deep fryer and it has change the way I think about deep-frying for ever. IMG_5915At first I was worried at how small the fryer was, but after several uses I find it does everything I need to.  When I made Salt Cod Fritters* I was able to fry 6 at a time, while the cooked ones were sitting on paper shedding excess oil the next batch was already cooking. In 3 three batches I was done.

French fries and donuts where the two things that didn’t seem like they would work. Continue reading

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The Perennial Plate’s first PBS Short: A Season For Caramels

The Perennial Plate is now working on The Victory Garden’s Edible Feast for PBS this is a short story from one of the episodes that will be aired in full on a PBS affiliate near you.

It makes me angry that she uses corn syrup and she is a farmer a little cognitive dissonance? High fructose corn syrup was invented and went into production in the early 70’s. GMO corn was introduced in the early ’80s. I understand that there is a lot of doubt and debate about the benefits or evils of GMO products.  My feelings are in part about the corporate culture that made seeds something that we used to share to something that are now intellectual property.  Intellectual property that is sold in conjunction with a chemical: roundup ready herbicides.  In addition if as we are told by the chemical companies who make these products that they are benign why do they spend millions on preventing labeling of foods with them in them?  Before all this when we used to just grow corn none of this was an issue. Regardless of where you stand on this issue the fact is that for something so “safe” there still remains far too many questions unanswered.  Like it is assumed that big AG, Food corporations and chemical companies are funding the no labeling campaigns – but why is it such a secret?

What I want to know is why has no one made old-fashioned corn syrup and marketed it? Is it because there isn’t enough non GMO corn grown in the USA? Or is it because at the end of the day no one cares? Still I think for old hippies and foodies like me and the anti GMO crowd that it would be a successful product.

Of course you could use light Agave or Lyle’s Syrup or very expensive organic corn syrup in your caramels.

My grandmother used to have a large tin with a beehive on it of thick golden corn syrup.  When I was a little boy she would pour it on pancakes. We never had  Maple Syrup because it was too expensive. Sometimes she would buy Aunt Jemima (I have no idea what back then it was made from). I don’t ever remember her cooking with corn syrup, she wasn’t much of a baker. This was probably in the mid sixties so I was 5 or so. It was the last time I can remember seeing that big tin with a beehive on it.  Funny how something with such wonderful, warm childhood memories could become such a charged political debate.

sl453a

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

 

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Persimmon, Pomegranate, Tomato and Watercress Salad

IMG_5904This is my favorite fall salad.  It’s easy, full of flavor, color and makes the most of the Persimmon and Pomegranates that are abundant in Chinatown at this time of year.

Persimmon, Pomegranate, Tomato and Watercress Salad

Peel and roughly chop two Fuyu Persimmons (they are the squat round ones, beware Hachiya which need to be pulpy and squishy before they can be eaten otherwise they are so tart it’s like they are sucking every ounce of fluid from your soul – really, yes that bad – you have been forewarned!) and place in medium-sized bowl.  Cut in half one large Pomegranate, with a wooden spoon or some other dull heavy-ish object beat the outer skin of the pomegranate allowing the seeds to fall into the bowl. Pick out any pith that might have fallen in.  Slice in half about 10 cherry tomatoes. Toss with 1/4 cup Sunflower or other non flavored oil, 3 Tablespoons of rice, vinegar, a pinch of sugar . Season to your liking with salt and freshly grated black pepper.

In a separate medium-sized bowl add 2 bunches of well picked over Watercress.  I take out all the big middle stems and will leave the smaller ones that branch out.  Some people take each leaf off which, besides being a lot of work isn’t necessary, watercress is crunchy less so if it’s only leaves. Add an optional 2 Tablespoons of Tarragon leaves.

In a small bowl whisk together 1/4 cup of Olive oil, 1 Tablespoons of red Wine Vinegar, 2 Teaspoons of Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the watercress/tarragon mixture with half of the vinaigrette, taste and if you want to add more.  Taste again and season with additional salt and pepper.

Place on a platter or shallow bowl.  Spoon the persimmon mixture over the watercress art the halfway point, so you one said of the watercress is covered and the other is covered in the persimmon mixture (see picture).

Feel free to adjust the amount of persimmons, tomatoes or pomegranates you use.  The idea is to find balance, but if you end up with 3 or 4 persimmons and a few less tomatoes it really doesn’t matter, it’s a very forgiving salad and very festive ;)

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Strange and Unusual Products of the Week

This is going to be a regular column.  How regular we shall see, I was going to say weekly, but I think I should hedge my bets on this one.

It’s not like every week in my adventures in food shopping I don’t see many strange and unusual things: I do.  I just don’t always take pictures of them or sometimes I do and don’t think they are worthy of a blog post.  Increasingly though I think a lot of these products are a jumping off point for conversation.  Take for instance, this:IMG_5927Can someone explain to me the point of bee free honey?  It’s made from apple juice and is Vegan, is it a Vegan thing not eat honey because….why?  As far as I can tell honey bees are not hurt in the process, honey is a naturally occurring product.  I’m miffed. Or at least I was miffed until I asked Mr. Google and found this.  Which I have to admit left even more miffed.

The second product I found is less mysterious and more exotic.IMG_5854I understand in middle eastern food culture rose petals are used in cooking, both in sweet and savory dishes.  I actually have a package of dried roses in my spice cupboard:IMG_5934Which now that I see the label afresh I can’t imagine why I haven’t used these rose petals for any number of reasons.  My original reason for getting them was to make Panfried sea bass with harissa & rose from Ottolenghi’s cookbook Jerusalem.  I bought them over a year ago to make this recipe and never have used them because well, dried roses just seem like something you’d find in potpourri and I have a conceptual leap that I seem to have a hard time making.  Evening though I have made the first step by buying the rose petals.

Those those are your 2 strange and unusual products of the week.  Anyone out there ever cook with rose petals or eat Honee pleasr tell us about it in the comments.

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Quince Poached in Pomegranate Juice

IMG_5853Pretty picture isn’t it?  Quince, at least the ones you get here in the northeast U.S are gnarly, green and have an incredible perfume. Often I buy them just so the scent permeates the apartment.  Then I end up thinking: Now what am I going to do with them?  Continue reading

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The New Coke Life?

IMG_5910My first thought upon seeing this advertising campaign for Coca Colas new product Coke Life was: Oh Please.  Excuse me if I’ve become a tad cynical where multinational beverage corporations are concerned. Coke Life is aimed at those folks, like me, who would only drink this shit if it wasn’t made with GMO High Fructose Corn Syrup, which is why Mexican Coke (still just made with sugar) has become such a fetish item here in NYC.

Coke has gone one step further by reducing the amount of sugar and adding Stevia to give it a patina of: it’s even good for you!

Here is what they say: At 60 calories per 8-oz. glass bottle, The Coca-Cola Company’s first reduced-calorie sparkling beverage sweetened with cane sugar and stevia leaf extract has 35 percent fewer calories than other leading colas**. 

And the label is green so you know it has to be good for you.

What do you think?  Anyone tried it?

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Should We All Be Eating Insects?

It’s been a while since I have posted something on one of my favorite topics: Bug eating.  Today I give you a double feature from the fabulous guys at ASAP Science.

The first one is the facts and nutritional/environmental  science behind bug eating the second video are the guys experimenting with cooking and eating bugs.

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