Havard SEAS lecture, 11/7/16, Sister Noella/Ben Wolfe/Mateo Kehler

More specifically:
“Delicious Decomposition: Tales from the Cheese Caves of France”
Sister Noella Marcellino, Ph.D., Abbey of Regina Laudis, artisanal cheesemaker and microbiologist who studied the biodiversity of cheese-ripening fungi in France; featured in Netflix documentary series “Cooked,” based on Michael Pollan’s book “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation”
Mateo Kehler, co-founder and manager of Jaseper Hill Farm and Caves, Greensboro, Vt.

Or in the words of Sister Noella, the presentation could be renamed to “cavemen I have known and loved.”

I’m not going to go into super detail.  It was just a fun lecture.  I wanted to attend because I remembered her from Pollan’s Cooked.  I got there early (doors opened at 6pm even though the lecture didn’t start until 7pm), and took my old spot in the audience.

We got cheese samples!

Cheese sampler

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

 

Sister Noella’s presentation was really informative, but I think Mateo’s and Ben’s presentations were a bit more of interest to me.  She mostly talked about how the Bethlehem cheese came to be, certain microbes (like the geotrichum candidum, which I think smells a bit like daikon), and how she won a Fullbright scholarship that allowed her to study cheesemaking in France.

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

Mateo’s presentation was almost half-advert, but was really about the structure of Jasper Hill Farms as it relates to cheesemaking.

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

He also made a comment about grass-fed cheeses.  Basically a cheese made from the milk of cows with a 100% grass-fed diet doesn’t taste all that great.  He said that dairy production requires a lot of energy, and lactating cows need to be fed a little bit of grain.  (Grains provide more energy than just grass.)  If I recall correctly, he also mentioned that the Jasper Hill cows are fed dry hay, which promotes good microbes and none of the bad ones like lysteria.

Anyway, Jasper HIll has prospered enough and worked with scientists often enough that they’ve actually built their own lab on the property to study their cheese microbes.

Toward the end, there was a surprise mini-presentation with everyone’s favorite microbiologist, Ben Wolfe, Tufts University.  Ben quickly chatted about DNA sequencing and patterns of microbes.

A post shared by @awesomesauceeats on

And that was the lecture.

The end.

Or not, because let’s go back to that cheese sampler!

Seven cheeses were listed on the sponsor thank you slide, but the audience only got five cheese samples per plate.  The very top cheese in the photo (at 12 o’clock) is the Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam.  I definitely liked this one.  It was like brie, but creamier and maybe saltier.  I found the overall flavor to be clean and fresh.

The cheese to the bottom right of the Mt Tam is probably the Bethlehem cheese.  Maybe, probably.  I thought it had some citrus overtones to it.  Overall texture was dry and brittle.  Flavor was mild.  I liked it enough.

The bottom right cheese (at 5 o’clock), I’m fairly confident, is the Kaltbach Gruyere.  It was hands down my favorite.  I liked the scent and the flavor of it better than all the others.  It was strong but nothing offensive.

We only had one blue cheese, and that was the Jasper Hill Bailey Hazen Blue.  I really thought I was going to hate this as I normally find blue cheeses to be too stinky and too boldly flavored for me.  Not this one.  Having said that, it was still my least favorite on the plate.  It reminded me of a stack of papers.  Probably old papers.  But it was very salty and metallic tasting on my tongue.  So, metallic old papers?

The last sample on the top left is probably the Jasper Hill Winnimere cheese.  My first impression of it was that it was sharp in scent and flavor.  It also smelled salty.  The texture was soft, but not as soft as the Mt Tam.  The flavor of the Winnimere reminded me of beer.  It’s a good cheese, but not one of my favorites.

So yeah.  I want to stock my fridge with Mt Tam and Kaltbach Gruyere right now!  (^_^)

No lie, I’m on a Korean foods kick (cookbook review)

First of all, I may or may not be addicted to dongchimi right now.  (Dongchimi is a radish kimchi that lacks the red color from gochugaru, Korean chili flakes.  It’s a fairly mild kimchi and a great gateway drug into Korean fermented foods.)

Second of all, a friend of mine expressed an interest in a special event at a local restaurant called the Feast to Celebrate the Debut of Koreatown: A Cookbook.  Per the event page:

The Kirkland Tap and Trotter is excited to welcome Chef Deuki Hong and writer Matt Rodbard to The Kirkland Tap & Trotter for a one-night-only event celebrating the soju-slamming, pepper-pounding, kimchi-everything adventure that is Koreatown: A Cookbook (Clarkson Potter/Publishers; on sale February 16, 2016). For two years, co-authors Hong and Rodbard gathered recipes, stories, in-the-moment photos, and thoughtful interviews from Korean American neighborhoods all across the country to comprise their portrait of a culture in Koreatown. With a penchant for global comfort foods, killer wood grill to complement the flavors of Korean barbeque, and convivial atmosphere, Kirkland is the ideal place to kick-off the cookbook tour.

I was immediately intrigued, and did some digging around.

It turned out that I had this book available to me to review.  OH HAPPY DAY!

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 3.25.21 PM

This cookbook is definitely Korean American in flair.  Some recipes are traditional (ie. baechu kimchi* and kongguksu*) and some are not (ie. kimchi triple-cream grilled cheese and Korean fried broccoli).  But it still provides a great sample of Korean dishes.  I think recipes for all the most popular dishes are here: jjampong*, jjajangmyeon*, and gamjatang*.

I also love how the Korean names, hangul, and English translations are listed for every recipe.

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 3.25.08 PM

(That makes a lot of dongchimi.  I’m also unsure about the use of soda for serving.)

The photos are pretty gorgeous, and interviews with Korean Americans across the U.S. are a nice addition.  There are definitely recipes that I want to make.  The first one might be the kalbi meatballs because kalbi is always a good reason.

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 3.24.35 PM

Long story short – I feel inspired and this book has a permanent home on my bookshelf.  I hope to have a follow up post in the near future, so I can let you know how a recipe went.

Reference:

baechu kimchi =  napa cabbage kimchi
kongguksu = soy milk noodle soup
jjampong = spicy seafood noodle soup
jjajangmyeon = black bean noodles
gamjatang = spicy pork neck and potato stew

 

Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/feast-to-celebrate-the-debut-of-koreatown-a-cookbook-tickets-20933491637?aff=ebrowse

http://koreatowncookbook.com/

(note – the official cookbook website has 3 recipes available)

P.S. Completely unrelated to Koreatown, I made the octo vinaigrette from Lucky Peach 101 Easy Asian Recipes book.  I used it as a dipping sauce for a hot pot night with friends.  If I remember correctly, I didn’t use the full amount of garlic but it was still plenty garlicy.  And I got compliments.

A Story of Star-crossed Lovers

Sort of.

Ok, not really.  But this is a story about some carbon steel skillets that I really wanted, only to realize that they’re not quite the right fit for me.

For almost a year now, I’ve been on the hunt for a carbon steel pan.  However, I had trouble deciding on one.  Cooks Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen champions for the Matfer Bourgeat, but in doing so caused many Matfer Bourgeat pans to sell out.  At the time of this post, the largest Matfer Bourgeat is priced over $200 on the Amazon Marketplace because it’s nearly impossible to find until the manufacturer releases more.

To be honest, there aren’t a lot of reviews on carbon steel skillets.  In general, it feels like the internet embraces cast iron skillets.  I got excited when my other favorite food company/website, ChefSteps, gave Darto pans a thumbs-up.

Darto is an Argentinian company.  I bemoaned the fact that shipping was going to cost more than one pan.  Earlier this December, they offered free international shipping for a minimum order of $150.  I found a friend who expressed interested and we shared an order.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 4.29.38 PM

I bought the 20cm and the 27cm for myself.  They are beautiful!  They are made from a single sheet of metal which means that there are no bolts where the handle meets the body of the pan.

So, the pros:

  • construction
  • price (well, before shipping costs to the US)
  • handle stayed cooler than I thought it would
  • carbon steel has a wonderfully smooth surface (which is why I wanted it)

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 4.29.49 PM

The cons?

One con, and one con only.  The 27cm is really difficult to use for my smaller stature.  I’m not even 5’3″.  The handle of the 27cm pan was too tall, and too long.  The only way I could comfortable hold it was to brace my arm against the length of the handle.  That’s not the right way to hold a pan.  If it had a helper handle, I could probably over look the issue.  Sadly, it doesn’t.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 4.30.00 PM

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 4.30.13 PM

The 20cm is smaller all around, so I can use it more easily.

In sum, the search for a carbon steel skillet continues.

Reference Links

https://www.chefsteps.com/forum/posts/carbon-steel-pan-comparison

http://www.darto.org/us/

Boston Public Market

My city finally has a building dedicated to act as an all year farmers’ market.  And yes, I went on opening weekend.

It was busy.  Not everything is open yet.  Some vendors were hidden between other vendor booths (hello Soluna Garden Farm!), but I did my best to explore.  I didn’t buy anything today but I’ll probably come back next week with my sister so I didn’t want to stress over it.  (Plus, there are things in my freezer that I should defrost and cook up before I stock up on some locally raised meats.)

(I miss having a meat farm share.)

Overall reaction, I am very happy to have this building in the general area.  I commute by public transit mostly, and Boston Public Market is right next to Haymarket station.  The Kitchen entrance is closest to the station but I didn’t see any demonstrations going on.  Looking at their calendar, it looks like it’ll be a few more weeks before that space sees any real use.

There’s a wall in the market area called the Cookbook Exchange.  The idea is to take a cookbook/magazine, and leave a cookbook/magazine.  Writing in the books is encouraged!  Then the next borrower will know what people tried out.

Taza chocolate wasn’t open yet and neither was the wine vendor.  But there was a beer section, two meat sellers, cider donuts, Union Square donuts, a honey seller, a seller of bowls and boards from local trees, etc.

Anyway, have a mini-tour:

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 9.33.40 PM

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 9.33.27 PM

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 9.32.54 PM

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 9.33.13 PM

https://bostonpublicmarket.org/

https://bostonpublicmarket.org/blog/848/boston-public-market-cookbook-exchange

Milk Bar Life (cookbook review)

I can’t lie.  I jumped at the chance for a review copy of Milk Bar Life by Christina Tosi.  I thought Momofuku Milk Bar was a fun cookbook, albeit one that I was unlikely to ever bake from.  (Good thing it was a library book.)  Many of the recipes had more steps than I was willing to follow.

 

Milk Bar Life is a very different book, even though it’s still a bit quirky.  Actually, it’s very quirky.  There are many recipes that I’m unlikely to use, not because they are complicated, but because they’re not my thing.  At the same time, there are a handful of recipes that I really want to try out sooner rather than later.

The first section is dedicated to Hand-Me Down recipes.  Overall, they are very doable.  I’m eyeing the oatmeal cookies and the bread recipe.  Many of the recipes are very retro which just doesn’t appeal to me personally.  Examples?  The cocktail meatballs, the seven-layer salad, and the cheesy onions.

Of course, since this is a Christina Tosi cookbook, there is a chapter on cookies.  There are a couple of sugar cookie recipes, banana cookies, molasses-rye cookies… nothing with a long ingredient list like her compost cookie recipe.

The third chapter is supermarket inspirations.  It is, if you will pardon the expression, semi-homemade recipes.  Again, not really my thing.

The fourth chapter is filled with recipes that the Milk Bar staff has eaten during their breaks.  It brings me back to recipes I want to try like the tex-mex curried chili with avocado raita, or the jerk chicken recipe.

The fifth chapter brings us recipes that are quick to prepare but not all that healthy for the most part.  I really have to question the inclusion of tang toast.  It scares me a little?  haha.

The sixth chapter are “weekend recipes.”  They are recipes that take a bit more time and dedication.

The seventh chapter are cookout recipes.  It starts with lemon bars, includes a couple of delicious looking burger recipes, and finishes with a few cocktail recipes.

The eighth chapter is called “craft night/sleepover.”  I guess it’s more snacks and party food.  The jellies and jams sound really interesting to me.  I think blueberry miso jelly might be the first recipe I give a test drive from this book.

The final chapter is called “going out.”  They are recipes adapted from other restaurants.  I don’t think I’ll ever give the mac and cheese pancakes a go, but the arepas de pabellon sound good to me.

I’m hoping to make a couple of recipes in the near future but I should probably learn to stop making cooking/baking announcements.  I never get anything done in the time frame that I think I will.  But, let’s hope that I do.  And when I do, I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post.

 

Reference Links:

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/124929/christina-tosi/

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/233918/milk-bar-life-by-christina-tosi-author-of-momofuku-milk-bar/

Summer/Fall 2014

Look!  Pictures as promised!

There are probably more pictures I should upload but this is all I remember.

grilled chicken and stewed okra at Kareem's (Watertown, MA)

grilled chicken and stewed okra at Kareem’s (Watertown, MA)

kale2

tuscano kale in my garden

kale1

red kale in my garden

lobster and peach dish  at Kareem's (Watertown, MA)

lobster and peach dish at Kareem’s (Watertown, MA)

Kareem’s is a place in Watertown that serves dinner on the weekends (otherwise, it’s dedicated for catering and cooking classes).  An entree is typically around $25, but the food is fresh and lovely.  Chef Ahmad is very talented.  He also makes delicious desserts.  Expect the menu to rotate with the season.

let's talk about food festival swag

let’s talk about food festival swag

let's talk about food 2014

let’s talk about food 2014

let's talk about food 2014

let’s talk about food 2014.

I meandered through the Let’s Talk About Food festival by myself this year.  It’s not as fun when you’re alone.  It was smaller this year, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I found that having two demo locations last year to be overwhelming.  So, I’m glad that there was only one demo location, but the down side is that it meant fewer demos this year.

I had a lot of homework looming over my head that weekend, so I didn’t stick around for too long.

Farmstead board at the Salty Pig

Farmstead board at the Salty Pig

Salty board at the Salty Pig

Salty board at the Salty Pig

I still love the Salty Pig.  I was there on a Saturday with some friends for lunch.  Menu set up is a little different on lunch, than dinner or Sundays.  We ordered sampler boards instead of the normal charcuterie/cheese a la carte.   The Salty Pig board came with (I think):

Porchetta, SP Kitchen, MA Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder, Fennel Pollen, Rosemary
Stracciatella, SP Kitchen, MA Mozzarella Style Pulled Cheese Marinated Olives
N’duja Rillette, SP Kitchen, MA Smoked Pork, Calabrian Chili, Sea Salt

While I think our Farmstead board was:
Manchego de Corcuera, SPA Sheep, Aged 3 Months, Rich & Buttery
Pont L’Evêque, Normandy, FRA Cow, Washed Rind, Soft & Strong
Vermont Wildflower Honey
Marcona Almonds
Stravecchio, Veneto, ITA 
Cow, Aged 12 Months, Sweet & Nutty

I also ate a Broccoli Rabe pizza with Ricotta Salata, Lemon, Garlic, Chili.  No pictures because we devoured it so quickly, but it was delicious.  Definitely different, but no less awesome.  If you ever have a chance to visit the Salty Pig, I highly recommend it.