Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Why boil so much more water than pasta actually absorbs, only to pour it down the drain? Couldn’t we cook pasta just as well with much less water and energy?
After some experiments, I’ve found that we can indeed make pasta in just a few cups of water and save a good deal of energy. Not that much in your kitchen or mine — just the amount needed to keep a burner on high for a few more minutes. But Americans cook something like a billion pounds of pasta a year, so those minutes could add up.
My rough figuring indicates an energy savings at the stove top of several trillion B.T.U.s. At the power plant, that would mean saving 250,000 to 500,000 barrels of oil, or $10 million to $20 million at current prices.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Most of what is sold in the stores as "vanilla bean" ice cream seems rather bland to me. I much prefer French vanilla. In fact, the preference is strong enough that I won't buy vanilla bean anymore -- even if it's simply to serve a la mode with pie or something else.
I love the custard-like flavor of French vanilla.
Now I have found a reason why people who use an ice-cream maker at home should prefer French vanilla. At SimplyRecipes, Elise writes:
French vanilla is a bit more complicated than regular vanilla or most of the ice cream recipes that come with the machine, as you need to prepare a custard mix by cooking the eggs and cream first.
But unlike many homemade ice creams which can be a little on the ice-y side, because of the added richness of the egg yolks, French vanilla stays creamier -- at least for the first day or two in the freezer.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
On Sunday afternoon, just before the Obamas’ first official dinner, in honor of the nation’s governors, Mrs. Obama invited not only a few reporters but also the top six students from L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Md., into the tiny White House kitchen for a look at what goes on before such an event. The invitation to the students was part of her outreach to the local community.
. . . eight members of the kitchen staff, including Sam Kass, the chef she brought with her from Chicago, were working on samples of the dinner. Mrs. Obama credits Mr. Kass, who fed the Obamas when they lived in Chicago, with keeping her family healthy, even during the grueling campaign for president.
Mr. Kass prepared a citrus salad with local many-hued watermelon radishes and tiny ice greens, so-called because they grow in the snow. Others prepared samples of Chesapeake crab agnolotti.
. . . Mrs. Obama praised the kitchen staff, emphasizing their creativity and flexibility. They can put out a “mean batch of French fries,” she said, as well as creamed spinach made without cream.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Milton Parker, who brought long lines and renown to the Carnegie Deli in Manhattan with towering pastrami sandwiches and a voluble partner who kibitzed with common folk and celebrities alike, died in Queens on Friday. He was 90 and lived in Manhattan.
. . . Mr. Parker was primarily the back-room planner who brought taam — a Yiddish word suggesting great flavor and quality — to the pastrami, corned beef, brisket and tongue; the cheesecake and matzo balls; the soups and the pickles that placed the Carnegie, at 55th Street and Seventh Avenue, at or near the top of deli maven lists.
. . . According to savethedeli.com, a Web site that celebrates delicatessens nationwide, Mr. Parker’s business card read “Milton Parker, CPM (corned beef and pastrami maven).”
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Disagreements about food probably wouldn't make a counselor's top-10 list of couples issues. But in today's food-conscious culture, what and how a significant other eats is becoming one more proxy for couples' deeper conflicts about control and respect.
. . . when an avid food lover falls for one of the others, it can get complicated. Unlike fly-fishing or knitting, what to eat is a question that comes up three times a day.
. . . "Food is actually a lot like sex," says Judith Coché, a psychologist in Philadelphia who specializes in couples therapy. "It's very hard to be a couple and go to very different restaurants, just like it's hard to have sex with a partner with entirely different desires. There has to be a natural compatibility or a good sense of how to negotiate and compromise."
Monday, February 16, 2009
If you’ve never had tortoni, you’re in for a delight. It’s ice cream’s fantasy of ice cream: scented with almonds and sometimes rum, it’s uninhibited by gravity yet also a tiny bit chewy.
The differences between ice cream and tortoni lie in the techniques of their making. Ice cream is made by blending rich materials — cream and sugar and sometimes eggs — and then churning air into the heavy mixture with an ice-cream maker. With tortoni, the technique is deconstructed.
In the recipe that appeared in The Times in 1898, air is whipped into egg whites and yolks, and bolstered by the addition of hot sugar syrup. More air is whipped into cream, and the two mousses are folded together, then poured into a mold lined with crushed macaroons.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
The night before his final interview with former President Richard Nixon, journalist David Frost is in his hotel room. The phone rings and he answers it, expecting that his girlfriend is calling to ask him what kind of food Frost wants her to bring back. But the caller is Nixon — not his girlfriend.
Before the ex-president can utter a word, Frost makes this declaration: "I'll have a cheeseburger."
Nixon, who has been drinking, tells Frost that he too likes cheeseburgers, but that his physician has discouraged him from eating them for health reasons. His physician, says Nixon, "switched me to cottage cheese and pineapple instead. He calls them my Hawaiian Burgers."
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Monday, February 9, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
If you guessed Paula Deen, you would be correct. She is one woman who knows all there is to know about cooking with butter.
The cookie recipe looks pretty simple; I may give it a try. Anyway, here it is.
Sesto Senso had a guy playing "cover songs" on guitar. It was pleasant. We could enjoy the music, but still hear each other without either one of us having to raise our voice.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
That's the good news.
The bad news? That survey I just quoted is now 9 months old. So you can be sure that restaurants are feeling the pain much more these days than they were in the spring of last year.
Here are some signs of how restaurants are takin' it on the chin from the worsening economy:
* Within the space of a year, unemployment in the restaurant sector has jumped from 7.8% to 9.8%.This is totally anecdotal, but I was at the wine bar-restaurant Proof on Monday evening, and I'd say that at least 3/4 of their tables were full -- and the bar area was relatively busy too. Of course, Proof is an excellent place (one of my faves). But maybe that's a sign of hope (at least for the Washington dining market).
* Here in Washington, D.C., the restaurant Citronelle (perhaps the grande dame of D.C. dining venues) has announced it will be cutting its hours and staff. As the Wash Post reports, Michel Richard and his crew will no longer serve dinner on Sunday or Monday. Sacre bleu!
* The high-end dining destinations aren't the only ones hurting. OSI Restaurant Partners, which operates Outback Steakhouse and several other restaurant chains, lost more than $46 million in the 3rd quarter of last year.
* Even fast-food giants are getting slammed. Burger King, the world's second-largest hamburger chain, reported today that its net income dropped more than 10% -- worse than most industry analysts had predicted.
* The dining-out malaise is strong enough to have created this long thread of comments on the website Chowhound.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Nine years ago, Herb Eckhouse, then a 50-year-old Des Moines seed-company executive who’d been based in Parma, got a glimmer of what he’d like to do with his early retirement.
He was eating prosciutto in Parma with a friend who said, “You know, if you make something this good, you’re going to make a lot of people happy.” A ham-shaped light bulb went off, Eckhouse recalled.
For years, he imagined making good food in Iowa. “It was clear that we had this incredible bounty around us, but we weren’t known for creating great stuff to eat,” he told me, stretching his rangy frame at his dining room table.
(Clearly things have changed: his wife, Kathy, was serving us apple pie whose heartbreaking crust was made with lard rendered from acorn-fed organic Berkshire pigs, their latest project.)
“At the beginning of the 20th century, Iowa fed people. And here we are in the 21st century, and we’re feeding machines. It’s just a priori wrong.” He continued: “People were saying, ‘Iowa’s dying, and there’s no value added here.’ At that point I was thinking, Gosh, I wonder if we can make prosciutto in Iowa.”
In 2001, La Quercia (“oak” in Italian) was born. Eckhouse, a Harvard social-studies major in the ’60s, spent four years studying prosciutto-making. The couple would move their Volvo wagon out of the garage to weigh and salt legs, then age them in their guest bedroom. The first official prosciutto was shipped from their state-of-the-art plant near Des Moines in September 2005.
. . . The Eckhouses are determined to not make an Italian facsimile. They might be advised by a consultant in Parma, but they call their product prosciutto Americano.