Food Blog

KIPlog cooks, eats (and drinks)

Entries from February 2006

Local Food News

February 23rd, 2006 · Comments Off

I’m awaiting news on whether Evanston’s new Food and Beverage tax has passed – a new 2% tax on top of sales tax. I’m sorry I wasn’t hanging out at the Knot during this meeting or at the City Council meeting to see the celebrity chefs of Evanston all gathered in one place in an attempt to fight it off.

Fat Tire Beer rolls into Chicago I had one of these back in November while in Arizona, I’m looking foward to seeing it here and trying the other varieties. I had one of their Amber Ales – full of Belgian style yeasty-ness, but lighter and more drinkable.

The Crummy Brothers sent me some cookies. This Chicago organic chocolate chip cookie maker makes several ‘Cookie Varietals’ available as cookie ‘flights’. I must say they’re great cookies, but they are comparing themselves to those “making the finest Bordeaux’ and callng their cookies ‘as refined as an exquisite Cabernet’.

The chocolate, chocolate chip, chocolate chip cookie is loaded with cardamom, and of course, excellent quality chocolate, but all that chocolate combines to make it sweetier than a Chip’s Ahoy. The Lemon Ginger and Saffron Pistachio were really good, and the balance of ingredients worked perfectly.

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I must say the real problem isn’t about how good these cookies are – they really are good – it’s that when you start comparing cookies and Bordeaux, and include an insert card with suggestions on eating with special attention to appreciating them – even suggesting wine or port pairings – you have to make a cookie that can stand up to that level of criticism. I fed them to my office mates and overall, they didn’t reach the high expectation level. We stood around critiquing them like a group of sommeliers tearing apart the first bottle from a new vineyard. But of course the cookies dissappeared.

Like the first vintage out of a new vineyard, you can taste the passion here even if the refinement isn’t at it’s peak yet. The potential shown in these early batches may yet yield a great cookie.

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Tags: Food News and Links

Another new kid food blogging

February 19th, 2006 · Comments Off

Some kid named Frank Bruni has a blog now. I think it’s cute that a little east coast hometown paper is joining our well-established food blogging community. I guess he’s going to copy the rest of us and try to review New York restaurants.I joke of course, I welcome him into the food blog community. I’ll be reading him and hoping he’ll be answering some of the great comments he’s getting. Although I’m a little less concerned about his weight than some people are.

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Tags: Food Blogs

Cheese Sandwich

February 18th, 2006 · Comments Off

After being credited with starting all of this hullabaloo, I’m a little late with my own cheese sandwich.

To summarize: Another reporter wacks out a piece on how food blogs aren’t worth reading since they’re all about what people had for lunch, he spends 2 minutes to find 5 exceptions, lots of food bloggers stand up to defend themselves, a forum moderator shuts a thread down because the reporter’s feelings might be hurt, and lots of cheese sandwiches are made.

While I doubt we’d hurt his feeling or put a indelible mark on his career, we will make damn sure he never disparages another cheese sandwich again.

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Havarti and Cornish Game Hen on Rustic Sourdough. For lunch.

Sounds like I planned it? Not really, it’s just a coincidence that I had all these elements on hand when the controversy happened.

We got a bread maker, so this particular sandwich was special since it was the first loaf out of it. The bread is a good rustic french loaf, made with a little sourdough starter added. The cheese is havarti and the filling is from leftover cornish game hen. It was griddled in a cast iron pan with some butter. A good cheese sandwich has that great mix of crunchy bread and gooey cheese, mine has the added meatiness of the game hen.

I’ll post more on the bread machine and what’s coming out of it, since it’s going to good use.

I have an urge to go on and on about Pete Wells’ article, and I’ve been trying to make my points concise, without success. So I’ll summarize here and get back to it if I feel it warrants my time. The article wasn’t that bad, but my gripe with him is if he could only find 5 or 6 blogs that made him say ‘wow, he didn’t do his homework. He also ignored the real trend of the increasing quality as well as the quantity of food blogs, and he completely wrote off all food blogs as worthless for resources on local food, excepting 2 in NY. And why does every slapped together article on blogging always complain that we don’t have editors? And why, in 2006, is the media still afraid of inline links in online versions of their articles when the whole point of such an article is to point us to websites?

OK, I’ll stop. Now go read more opinions and see lots more cheese sandwiches.

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Tags: Food News and Links

Food blogs

February 18th, 2006 · Comments Off

Here’s some food blogs to put on my list of food blogs.Andrea’s Recipe Box “a collection of favorite recipes and musings on food and cooking”Black Salt British Columbia.Brian Preston-Campbell “Does a food stylist in New York really need to write a blog?”Bribe Me with a Muffin “Baking, cooking, and trekking across the city of Boston in search of the ultimate food experience: musings of a restless twenty-four year old.”Candy Addict “Candy news, views, and reviews.” Holly Springs, NC.Exploring the Silver Spoon “Il cucchiaio d’argento (The Silver Spoon) has been referred to as the bible of authentic Italian cooking and boasts 2000+ recipes! This is the tantalizing tale of my travels through each and every recipe that I try.”Food for thought Victoria, Australia.Here and There “Random musings about my wee chocolate business, cooking, gardening in season, my travels and other stuff when the spirit moves me” From my home town of Somerset NJ.Kishko “chatter about olfactive, visual and taste bud experiences in Italy” Florence, Tuscany, Italy.Little bouffe “Cooking without a kitchen.”Queen of the Kitchen Washington, United StatesThe Sour Patch “A dollop of sweet and a pinch of sour from a Toronto kitchen…”Tasting, Drinking & Cooking Fremont CA.28 Cooks “The culinary and winemaking talents of a 28-year old “near” vegetarian.”Web Sorceress “A Journey through Food and Wine In That Gathering Place of Mine.”

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Tags: Food Blogs

Fish Story

February 15th, 2006 · Comments Off

Darden, Wal-Mart ride seafood sustainability wave, buoy advocates “Wal-Mart disclosed plans at the conference to purchase all of its wild-caught fresh and frozen fish for the North American market from Marine Stewardship Council-certified fisheries within the next three to five years.”

The Marine Stewardship Council’s web site is out of date, but they’ve certified hoki, which New Zealand’s ‘leading independent conservation organisation’ ranks as one of the worse choices for fish. Hoki is one of two fish that McDonalds makes into the Filet o Fish (the other is pollock).

The story quotes a local chef: “Even some small operators say it can be challenging to make environmentally conscious seafood choices. “I try to be as sensitive as I can, but I don’t have a lot of time to work on it,” said Bruce Sherman, chef-owner of the upscale North Pond restaurant in Chicago. Sherman routinely consults the websites of Seafood Choices Alliance and Chefs’ Collaborative for updated information when making seafood- purchasing decisions.” [my links]

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Tags: Food News and Links

Gale Gand’s Biscuits

February 10th, 2006 · Comments Off

Several years ago a publicist sent me Gale Gand’s Short and Sweet, a dessert cookbook with quick and easy recipes with 8 ingredients or less. As easy as that sounds, most of the recipes demand much more time than the 15, 30 or 45 minutes that the book is arranged by. And the ingredient lists sound simple, but I don’t know too many people who wouldn’t have to go shopping to gather most of these ingredients.

One example is the chocolate croissant bread pudding I made once (first time I’m posting it). It was easy enough, but who has 2 cups of cream and 2 cups of half and half in their frig?

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This stuff is awesome by the way, just realize you might wind up eating 6 croissiants, 4 cups of cream and half and half, a cup of sugar, 6 eggs and almost a half pound of chocolate in one sitting. We won’t even mention the ice cream.

Over the years I’ve attempted to make the Killer Buttermilk Biscuits from the book. But I’m an idiot and never follow the recipe so I wind up with flat lifeless biscuits. I substitute milk, I throw other stuff in or I don’t follow the procedure. But (probably for the first time ever) I had some buttermilk in my frig, so I followed the recipe to the letter. They turned out very good. Here they are with some spicy gravy which I’ve done before.

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Then I made them a few days later and they were awesome, I didn’t even wait to photograph them.

What was the difference? The first time I made them too small- instead of filling one 9 inch pie pan, they filled one and a half pans. And the glass pie plate didn’t brown the bottoms as well as I’d like. The second time a made big biscuits that all fit in a metal pie plate and they became beautifully golden, tall and fluffy. I’m sorry I didn’t take a picture, because they would have been prettier than the ones in the book but I have a feeling I’ll make these again, since I’ve perfected them.

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Tags: Dessert

Spaghetti and Meatballs

February 5th, 2006 · Comments Off

Spaghetti is such an American staple. But the truth is, I don’t eat it very often. I’m too busy filling myself with other kinds of pasta. And I almost never make meatballs. I’m always making a Bolognese or some other kind of meat/mushroom sauce. But here’s how I made them the other night.

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1 can tomato paste
1 T dried oregano
2 t dried basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
a splash of Marsala
1 1/2 cups of water
salt

Pretty simple – heat the oil, sweat the onions, throw in the garlic for a few seconds, dump in the tomato paste, oregano and basil, swirl it around a bit, splash in the Marsala, then add the water and simmer while you make the meatballs. Season. Many people add sugar to their sauce, the Marsala takes care of that.

1 lb ground beef
2-3 ozs. of ground sausage
2-3 T breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 t oregano
salt

I don’t like bready meatballs, so I use just enough to lighten them up. Beat the egg in with the breadcrumbs and oregano and salt. Throw in the ground meat and mix well. Roll into balls. I make mine less than 3/4 the size of a golf ball. I think I made around a dozen. Brown in a little olive oil. I put mine in a 350F oven for ten minutes or so, then into the simmering sauce for 20 minutes. You should be making the spaghetti at this point. I don’t think I have to tell you how to do that.

Some spaghetti and meatball recipes are much more involved.

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Tags: Meat Recipes

Mutton

February 5th, 2006 · Comments Off

Mutton is in the news again. A few months ago Frank Bruni pulled the wool off our eyes and revealed that the Legendary Keen’s Steakhouse in NY isn’t really giving you mutton when you order the Legendary Mutton Chop. They’re giving you lamb.

Now The Prince of Wales spoke at a dinner to launch the Mutton Renaissance Club – “A renaissance of mutton won’t change the world but it just might, might make the difference between [farmers'] survival and disappearance and that, ladies and gentlemen, is enough for me”. I can find no such renaissance here in the US.

I cooked mutton once. In New Zealand. I stunk up my flat because I thought I could just pan fry it like a pork chop. My Maori flatmate came in and cursed me as a stupid pakeha. Not too long after that he made some sort of paua and seaweed stew that stunk up the entire block. I asked him if it was any good and he said “No, but it does make you fart”.

Anyway, I did have a mutton stew in a restaurant down there that wasn’t bad, but it was indeniably mutton, strong as a wet sheep.

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Tags: Food News and Links

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