October 30, 2004
Picks of the Week
Too Many Chefs post of the week

Each week, we pick three posts we particularly enjoyed over the last week from the vast community of excellent food bloggers. Maybe these posts were funny, maybe they were great recipes or a particularly well-written review of a restaurant. Maybe they just were the right post for us at the right time. If you haven't read them, this should give you a chance to go back and catch them before they disappear into the archives.

This week we emerge from our undisclosed location in the cave-riddled region of the Wisconsin/Illinois border to declare these three posts well worth a look:

A. The Hungry Tiger cooks up a porcini frittata and brings us along for the ride. I love the zen nature of The Hungry Tiger and the sketch and quote that make up the banner for the site shouldn't be missed.

1. Debbie at Words to Eat By gives us her thoughts on a new tv series on NBC - The Biggest Loser. Debbie's a veteran of the weight loss wars, having dropped and kept off over 100 pounds for over six years. She's horrified and fascinated by the show, all at once, which makes for a good read.

I. Skip Lombardi at Skip's Italian Food Blog writes this week about oysters and the best way to present and eat them - minimally dressed. Mmmm, oysters.

That's it this week. Enjoy the scariest day of the year - election day! Oh, and Halloween, too. See you next Saturday, when we'll feature "recount and judicial challenge" week specials.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at 10:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 29, 2004
Fame at last...

I received a message last night from a producer at BBC London Radio asking if I would be willing to speak for a few minutes today on their program about Onion Johnnies, the Breton farmers who have been biking through England, Scotland and Wales since 1828 selling pink Roscoff onions. Apparently the producer was impressed by the investigative skills in our story about Onion Johnnies (or - more likely - he was impressed to find a genuine inhabitant of France who speaks English!). Whatever the reason, I am going to use up five of my Warholian 15 minutes of fame today. If you have access to the BBC and are interested in hearing more about Onion Johnnies, tune in to 94.9 at about 12:15 GMT!

Posted by Meg in Sussex at 4:52 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack
October 28, 2004
Chocolate Almond Puff Roll

Did I mention I like puff pastry? This is a quick and delicious desert. The hardest part of the recipe is waiting long enough to eat it so you don't burn your mouth.

I made this with the Balsamic Onion Galette becaue I defrosted two sheets of puff pastry and hated to waste the second sheet.

You have to work fast with the chocolate so you do not melt the puff pastry dough. Also, make sure you oil the pan, because it will stick to the sheet if you're not careful.

Chocolate Almond Puff Roll

3/4 cup dark chocolate or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup skim milk
1 sheet 8" x 10" puff pastry. Remove from freezer 30 minutes before using
1/2 cup slivered toasted almonds
neutral oil or butter for pan

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Oil or butter a cookie sheet lightly. Lay the sheet of puff pastry on it.

Put an inch of water in a small saucepan and put on medium heat. Fit a steel or aluminum bowl over the saucepan and melt the chocolate chips in the bowl, stirring frequently. When chips are melted, add milk and stir to incorporate.

Spread chocolate mix over puff pastry evenly, covering entire surface. Use almost all the chocolate.

Evenly distribute all but a tablespoon of slivered almonds over chocolate on puff pastry. Take one end of dough and roll in. Roll entire dough up like a rug. Press last edge lightly in and pinch dough together.

Spread or drizzle remaining chocolate over top of roll. Sprinkle last tablespoon of almonds on top of chocolate.

Bake in oven on cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes until golden, brown and delicious.

Let cool on rack completley, at least one hour. BE VERY CAREFUL. Hot molten chocolate is like molten lead. It will burn you badly if you try to slice or eat the roll as it comes out of the oven.

Slice 2" wide slices. Serve with ice cream or as a sweet breakfast roll.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at 9:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Balsamic Glazed Onion Galette

Over the weekend, we went to a dinner at the home of friends of ours (Paul of this site and wife, if you must know). A friend of theirs was up from Bloomington Indiana, and had put together as one of the courses for the meal a balsamic glazed sandwich with brie. It was lovely, but I knew it wanted one more ingredient - carmelized onions. In the back of my head, a dish was forming.

The next day I turn on Sarah Moulton's show and she's making balsamic glazed salmon. Then we get our latest issue of Cooking Light and there's a balsamic glazed recipe in there as well. OK, OK, I can take a hint - it's balsamic glazed time.

I'm a firm believer in keeping a box of prepared puff pastry (and a box of prepared phyllo dough) in your freezer at all times. It's easy to make an impressive looking dish without much effort when puff pastry is involved.

This main course takes about 15-20 minutes of actual working time and about an hour from start to finish, including defrost time.

I served this with a puff pastry dessert that I'll post tomorrow. It's not diet food by ANY stretch of the imagination, but you gotta live it up sometime, right?

Balsamic Glazed Onion Galette
1 sheet 8" x 10" puff pastry. Remove from freezer 30 minutes before using

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus some for oiling cookie sheet
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 onions
big pinch of thyme
big pinch of cumin

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch of salt

6 oz. medium-fat brie, slicedinto 1/4" -1/2" slices


Oil a cookie sheet lightly and preheat oven to 400 F.

Lay puff pastry sheet out on oiled cookie sheet

In a saucepan, over medium heat, dissolve brown sugar in balsamic vinegar. Stir well. Add lemon juice and pinch of salt. Let sit on medium heat and reduce until glaze covers the back of a spoon thickly.

While waiting for glaze to reduce, peel onions and slice thinly with a mandolin if you have one.

Melt butter and heat oil together in a large skillet. Add onions, pinch of cumin, pinch of thyme and sautee over medium heat until onions go translucents, then lightly brown. Do not burn. This may take 10 minutes or so.

Once onions are ready and sauce has reduced, pour the balsamic glaze into the onions and stir well to coat. Turn heat up.

With tongs, spread coated onions over sheet of puff pastry. Leave a 1-2" border all around the edges. As you pick up the onions with the tongs, let a bit of the glaze drip off back into the pan.

When you've moved all the onions, fold up the edges of the pastry to form a barrier/outer crust to the gallette. Pinch corners together so they hold as the galette bakes.

Let the little remaining glaze reduce further for five minutes. Meanwhile, arrange the brie slices as you like on top of the onion mix.

After five minutes, pour or drizzle the remaining glaze over the top of the gallette, covering the cheese.

Put the galette in the 400 F oven for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from oven, remove from cookie sheet, and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

You should get four big slices out of this recipe, or eight side dish sized slices.

UPDATE: Meg points out that this is an awful lot like this recipe from the early days of Too Many Chefs. Aside from the balsamic glaze, there are differences - this recipe calls for the onions to be thinly sliced, that one calls for thick slices; this recipe uses a square of puff, that one uses triangles. I really did just make this one up last night, but I guess it shows you how some ideas are just so good, they're obvious!

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at 12:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 26, 2004
Blue Cheese Sauce

roquefort.jpgLast week I wanted a quick sauce to liven a couple of steaks. I wanted something with lots of flavour. We all have days like that, don't we? So I played with the usual red wine, anchovy, mustard ideas and none of them sounded interesting enough. Then I remembered the ubiquitous sauce Roquefort, which is available in most classic French restaurants to have with your steak frites: perfect!

It's a beautifully simple sauce, perfect for a quick steak dinner. If you have the time to throw a couple of baked potatoes in the oven 45 minutes before you start cooking (instead of frying your taters), it's even moderately healthy. Well, except for the creamy sharp cheese sauce...

Blue Cheese Sauce

1 shallot
4-5 heaping Tbs blue cheese (a sharp Roquefort is the classic choice)
2 Tbs marsala wine
3 heaping Tbs creme fraiche
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs chopped fresh or frozen thyme
a good grinding of fresh pepper

Finely chop shallot and sauté in the butter. When it is soft, add the marsala wine and turn up the heat. to deglaze the pan. Once the wine has reduced by half, add the cheese, crumbling as you go. Stir in the creme fraiche and frozen thyme and taste for salt (should need any) and pepper (definitely).

Let the sauce bubble away and reduce while you cook your rare steaks and remove the potatoes from the oven. Serve over the steaks; you should have enough for a generous amount on two steaks and maybe even a little left over for your potato. Delish!

One note: as you will have noticed, this sauce doesn't rely on any of the beef juices for flavour (though you could throw in your meat juices, if any). It works equally well on vegetable dishes, fish, fowl...whatever.

Posted by Meg in Sussex at 2:47 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack
October 24, 2004
IMBB?: Feta Spinach and Veg Terrine

IMBB? is here and it's a theme I was startlingly unfamiliar with. Derrick of Obsession With Food has declared this month's IMBB? event would revolve around terrines. Terrines? I'd never made a terrine, but I did know my wife had a "jello mold" that seemed suspiciously terrine like.

It worked perfectly. I was left only with the problem of coming up with a recipe for a terrine which, as I've mentioned, I'd never made before. I used the principle of "Hmmm... What goes with spinach and feta?" to assemble this surprisingly tasty layered treat. You really could give this one a try. I won't mind taking it to lunch this week.

Feta Spinach and Veg Terrine
12 oz. spinach, picked of stems and washed
3-4 red potatoes, peeled
2-3 roasted skinned red bell peppers
6 oz. feta cheese
8-12 baby portabello mushrooms
1 clove garlic
butter - 4 tbsp, divided into 2 sets of 2
salt, pepper
1 teaspoon dried marjoram, divided into 1/2 tsp.

First, oil the terrine pan lightly with olive oil. Preheat over to 350 F

Sautee mushrooms and garlic together with 2 tbsp butter for five to seven minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Peel and boil the potatoes in salted water in a medium pot. When a fork goes all the way into them slowly (10-15 minutes), take them out of the water, reserving the hot potato water.

Put spinach in potato water, blanch briefly (2-3 minutes) until bright green and wilted, drain, squeeze water out of spinach.

Line bottom of terrine with half of spinach in a uniform layer.

Slice half of potatoes thinly and make a layer of potatoes overlapping in terrine on top of spinach. Sprinkle 1/2 of marjoram on top of potatoes

Next layer is roasted red peppers. Cut to fit and cover potatoes thinly.

Slice 3/4 of feta thinly, layer on top of peppers to make next layer.

Add mushroom/garlic mix, spread to make even layer.

Add another layer of sliced potatoes from the remaining spuds. Top with 2 tbsp butter sliced very thinly.

Add rest of spinach, tope with very thin slices of feta remaining. If you have a glass top to your terrine container, turn and drain terrine before baking.

Bake in 350 F oven for 15 minutes. Cool, place in refrigerator for 4 hours+ to chill. Serve hot or cold.

The starch from the potatoes and the cheese are the primary binding agents here. The spinach relies on the residual starch from the potato water to hold it together. Even with that assistance, this isn't a very tight terrine. You could add aspic or agar but I think that would ruin the balance of the rest of the ingredients.

Thanks Derrick, for coming up with a theme that stretched me a bit. Now I can say I've made A terrine. Soon, perhaps I'll eb able to say I've made TWO terrines. But let's not get ahead of ourselves...

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at 6:33 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
Roast Tomato and Onion Soup

tomato soup.jpgThis has to be one of the simplest, tastiest recipes in the world. I am a big fan of tomato soup, especially when the rain is pouring down (as it did last week) and all the best summer fruits have disappeard from the store. I want vitamin C and I want it hot and tasty.

Usually, I stick to two seasonal favourites for tomato soup: cold gazpacho in the summer and Fanny Farmer's cream of tomato soup the rest of the year. The Critic LOVES gazpacho (I could make it twice a week in the summer with no complaints, and it's one of the few dishes he'll eat as leftovers.) He's less of a fan of the cream of tomato soup, though I find it extremely soothing and comforting.

However, it was time to try to find something new. I think this will be come my new Autumn favourite, as it relies on finding the best remaining ripe red tomatoes at the end of their season.

Roast Tomato and Onion Soup (for 4 as a starter or 2 as main dish)

12 medium tomatoes, the riper the better
6 medium shallots
7 cloves of garlic
2-3 Tbs olive oil
1-2 Tbs fresh or frozen thyme
salt and pepper to taste
crème fraiche or sour cream to garnish

Turn on your oven to 200C/400F. Remove the stem from each of the tomatoes, leaving a little well in the top of each. Fit them snugly in a roasting pan. Drizzle a little more than half the oil over the tomatoes, and sprinkle them with thyme, salt and pepper. Toss five of the cloves of garlic, still in their skins, around the tomatoes. Place the pan in the oven for about an hour, until the tomatoes have collapsed and become almost liquid.

In the meantime, peel the shallots and top the ends. Place them in a smaller roasting pan, drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Add the remaining cloves of garlic, again with their skins intact. (You may be asking yourself why you couldn't just put everything in the same tin as the tomatoes here. You could, but if you leave them in their own pan the onions will brown nicely instead of effectively boiling in tomato juices.) Place them in the oven with tomatoes and bake until they are browned on top and smell sweet and delicious.

Remove your two pans from the oven and get out your most decorative medium-sized soup pan. (In my case it's a lovely, heavy, tomato-colored le Creuset pot!) Fish the garlic out of each of the pans with a fork and set them aside to cool. Pour the tomatoes with their juice into the soup pan and then the onions with whatever liquid they have. (There won't be much of the latter.) Squeeze each of the garlic cloves over the pan to shoot the sweet baked garlic inside the skin into the pan and throw the skins away. (Isn't that much easier than peeling them raw??)

With your handy immersion blender, blend the tomatoes, onions and garlic until you have a smooth soup. (Alternatively, you could liquidize the tomatoes and onions in a food processor, in which case you'd want to put them in there directly before pouring into your soup pot.) Bring the soup to a slow boil and taste for salt and pepper. You may also want to add some more thyme. Rosemary or oregano would also go well here. I know that basil is the herb-of-choice for tomatoes, but I feel these earthier herbs go better with the flavour of roasted tomatoes and onions.

Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream in the middle and either some home-made croutons, or - better still - slices of toast with toasted sharp cheese on them. I used this occasion to clean out the fridge of some cheeses that were either on their last legs (tomme de chevre) or not suitable raw for pregnant women (mont d'or, mmmm).

It's a delightful grown up version of the lunch my mother always made me when I was sick as a child: Campbell's Cream of Tomato Soup and a Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Here, however, the roast tomatoes and roast onions have a more sophisticated flavour and the sharp cheeses were a mile away from Kraft American slices. You don't have to be sick to appreciate this meal!

And the Critic's evaluation of this departure? Very good, but it would have been better with a little bit of hot pepper oil. But then he says that about nearly everything!

A note on the skins: I know many recipes call for skinning your tomatoes before or after roasting them. The tomatoes I used were thin-skinned enough that the skins really did disappear in the soup. If yours seem thicker or you are really against finding any tiny rolls of skin in the soup, I would recommend roasting the toms with the skins and removing them after roasting. They really do just pull away once the tomatoes have cooked. I just like to leave in the roughage and vitamins whenever possible. And I'm lazy.

Posted by Meg in Sussex at 2:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
October 23, 2004
Picks of the week
Too Many Chefs post of the week

Each week, we pick three posts we particularly enjoyed over the last week from the vast community of excellent food bloggers. Maybe these posts were funny, maybe they were great recipes or a particularly well-written review of a restaurant. Maybe they just were the right post for us at the right time. If you haven't read them, this should give you a chance to go back and catch them before they disappear into the archives.

1. Do you come from a land down under? No, not there. Further to the left. Further. Further. Keep going. A little more. Almost there. Stop. Our first selection this week comes from the southern half of the big blue ball but not from Australia. Cook Sister! is the blog of a South African woman cooking abroad (in the UK?) and this week she gives us a lesson in gnocchi.

A. It's Ramadan, and Umami notes the practices of Muslims in Malaysia who abstain from food from dawn to dusk but who buka puasa (break their fast) with a vengence when it's appropriate. Beautiful pictures.

I. Shiokadelicious has been a place I go to get a peek in to the cuisine of Singapore. Everything on the blog seemed exotic and delicious. I was surprised to find that when Renee wrote about "Stepping outside her comfort zone" she wasn't headed for dishes even more foreign to a Midwestern American boy. She was talking about using boxed cake mix. Be sure to read as Renee tries a little Betty Crocker magic for the first time, and tells us how it turned out.

Hey, Americans - 10 days to the election. Are you all registered and ready to vote?

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at 11:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
October 21, 2004
Food Section Digestion

pressure cooker.jpgDoes anyone remember the trendy CrockPot of the 70s? Those little babies were guaranteed to save our working mothers hours of heartache and work. My mom had one and she used to dutifully set it going in the morning with raw veggies and meat so that we could have a hot savoury stew when when she got home from work in the evening. It strikes me that the Chicago Tribune's tribute to the pressure cooker is an attempt to find the noughties version of the Working Mom's Salvation. However, although the pressure cooker does indeed allow a working parent to make "chicken noodle casserole with mushrooms and peas (in) four minutes...just one minute more than chicken nuggets in the microwave", let's be honest here: said working parent still has to spend some time chopping, slicing and cleaning, whereas the microwaveable nuggets come straight from the freezer. Seems to me that the CrockPot had the same problem...my mother got tired of getting up early in the morning to make dinner.

Charles Stuart Platkin of the Seattle Times explores ways to eat more healthily while not punishing your wallet. One suggestion, which I find too horrifyingly organized to contemplate, is to set aside one day a week for food preparation: all that scrubbing, peeling and chopping that has to be done before you can get down to the cooking. Personally, I have a hard time planning my meals more than 48 hours in advance, let alone a whole week.

Over in the UK Observer, Dr. John Briffa analyses a new report from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition on how diabetics can effectively control blood sugar levels. According to Dr. Briffa and his colleagues at the Journal, the traditional advice to eat simple starches such as potatoes and bread will lead to bad blood; diabetics will be better off in the long run with carbohydrates that release their energy slowly, such as pulses, whole wheat pasta and leafy greens.

In wine news, the Indianapolis Star has a short article on a pair of winemakers who decided to use their product to raise money for cancer research after losing their mother to the disease. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so honor it with a bottle of Big Tattoo Red, which is described as having "ripe, juicy flavors (which) make it a great pour for pizza, ribs or burgers on the grill".

And for that most basic of consuming needs, water, the International Herald Tribune has a warning that the EPA has found that water on 13% of the planes they tested did not measure up to the agency's minimum health standards. Insist on bottled water when flying!

Well, that is all the news I found of interest this week. I am sure you will all be looking forward to the return of Barrett in Chicago who finds great stories and has a much pithier write-up...I get too opinionated about most of the stories I read so you get an editorial as with your food digest!

Posted by Meg in Sussex at 12:56 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
October 19, 2004
Calabacitas con Crema

zucchini and corn.jpg How time flies! The weekend before last, our friend Alisa hosted another Paris Pot Luck Dinner for the anglophone foodies here in Paris. This time, we had a theme to work around: Mexican food. There were a lot of messages zipping over the Internet about places to find authentic Mexican ingredients and all the enthusiasm and research led to a fantastic meal.

That was over a week ago. Clotilde, of Chocolate & Zucchini has already posted the recipe for her dish: sinfully delicious Chocolate Chili Bites. And Pascale of C'est moi qui l'ai fait fame has also posted her recipe, for a refreshing Tarte au Citron Vert. Of the bloggers who attended this great event, there remains only yours truly who has not shared her recipe(s) with the Great Blogging World. And so, I humbly present you with a delicious vegetable side dish from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless, owner of the Frontera Grill in Chicago.

I was grateful to Alisa for indicating that no one else was bringing a vegetable dish, because it narrowed down the choices from Rick Bayless' book. For several weeks I would pick up the book, flick through it, and decided that everything looked good enough to try...and decide to decide later what to bring. The section on vegetable side dishes in the cookbook was blessedly short. (Mr. Bayless explains that traditional Mexican food doesn't divide meals into meat and vegetable courses the way that European ones do, and that vegetables are more commonly just included as an integral part of the main dish.) This recipe appealed to me not only on the mix of ingredients I love, but also in the fact that it didn't require any special trips to the Mexican food store.

As it turned out, I don't think I could have chosen better: the cream and zucchini combination gave the dish a silky texture that was delightful, the sweet corn and cream gave a sweet overtone and the slivers of hot pepper added an extra spicy note that finished the dish perfectly. I will be keeping this recipe as a regular for our meals as I love zucchini and rarely come across a new and interesting way to prepare it!

Calabacitas con Crema
(Zucchini with Cream)

by Rick and Deann Bayless

1 lb (about four small) zucchini
kernals from one ear of corn (about a cup)
1/2 an onion, thinly sliced
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 poblano pepper, roasted, seeded, peeled and cut in thin strips
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs vegetable oil (I used olive)

Rick recommends chopping the zucchini in one inch (2.5 cm) cubes and salting it, leaving it to drain for half an hour before proceeding. Rinse and pat dry the zucchini and quickly fry it in the butter and oil until tender. I doubled this recipe for the dinner and had to fry the zucchini in at least four batches - this will of course depend on the size of your frying pan. Remove the zucchini from the pan with a slotted spoon, allowing it to drain well. In the remaining oil and butter, fry the onion slices until soft and sweet, then add the corn and pepper slices. Add the zucchini and cream and cook until nice and hot. (Since my recipe was doubled and was being transported across Paris, I mixed everything in a large bown and reheated at Alisa's.) Taste for salt and pepper and serve.

It's that simple. The mixture of cream and sweet and hot worked extremely well, each bite giving you several tastes in succession. Not only that, but it's the kind of dish that only gets better over time, as the flavours have time to mingle and compliment one another. A perfect dish for a pot luck!

One last note: I'd like to give a great big thanks to Alisa for hosting this pot luck and giving me the chance to try out my Bayless book...and all the others who attended and brought such delicious food. We also sampled two fantastic varieties of enchiladas made by Alisa, a wonderul molé dish by Christoph and of course salsa, home-made tortilla chips (you have no idea how exotic and delightful it is to find those here!!)...it was an evening to remember.

One more last note: I also made another fantastic recipe from the Bayless repertoire, for caramel crêpes. Unfortunately, I neglected to take a photo of them so I've decided to wait to next time to write it up. There will most certainly be a next time, as they were the best crêpes I have ever made. MMMMMMmmmmmm.....

Posted by Meg in Sussex at 7:57 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack
October 17, 2004
Association of Food Journalist Awards

I received an e-mail from Mr. Bill Daley, Chief Food and Wine Reporter for the Chicago Tribune and president of the 30 year old Association of Food Journalists announcing that the 2004 AFJ Awards had been given out during the AFJ's meeting earlier this month in sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico. There aren't any photos as many of the participants are restaurant critics who would prefer to remain (visually) anonymous.

These awards don't have a cute name like the Oscars or the Emmies (may I suggest the Snarfies?), but here is a list of the winners. I've included links to samples of the winners' work as I've found them. If I have misidentified any winner's link (or if one of the winners prefers I link to a different piece or not at all), please forgive me and let me know so I can change it.

Take the time to acquaint yourself with the work of some of the best writers in food and beverage today.

UNDER 150,000 CIRCULATION

BEST NEWSPAPER FOOD SECTION:
First: Anchorage Daily News, Anchorage, Alaska ; T. C. Mitchell, Food Editor
Second: The Gazette, Colorado Springs, Colorado ; Teresa Farney, Food Editor
Third: The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, California ; Diane Peterson, Food Writer

FOOD NEWS REPORTING:
First: Zach Dundas, Willamette Week, Portland, Oregon
Second: Derek J. Moore, The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, California
Third: Annie Rusunen, The Columbian, Vancouver, Washington

FOOD FEATURE WRITING:
First: Jane Snow, Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, Ohio
Second: Jim Beckerman, The Record, Hackensack, New Jersey
Third: Robb Walsh, Houston Press, Houston, Texas

FOOD COLUMNS:
First: Arturo Ciompi, The Independent, Durham, North Carolina
Second: Robert Byers & Tara Tuckwiller, The Charleston Gazette, Charleston, West Virginia
Third: Prue Salasky, Daily Press, Newport News, Virginia

RESTAURANT CRITICISM:
First: Bill Addison, Creative Loafing, Atlanta, Georgia
Second: Robb Walsh, Houston Press, Houston, Texas
Third: Elaine Cicora, Cleveland Scene, Cleveland, Ohio

SERIES, SPECIAL SECTIONS & SPECIAL PROJECTS:
First: Patricia Mack, The Record, Hackensack, New Jersey
Second: Kathy Stephenson, The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, Utah
Third: Joanne Derbort, The Press Democrat, Savor Wine Country magazine, Santa Rosa, California

150,001 - 350,000 CIRCULATION

BEST NEWSPAPER FOOD SECTION:
First: St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Florida ; Janet K. Keeler, Food Editor
Second: The Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri ; Jill Silva, Food Editor
Third: The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland ; Liz Atwood; Assistant Features Editor

FOOD NEWS REPORTING:
First: Judith Blake, The Seattle Times, Seattle, Washington
Second: Kimberly Lord Stewart writing in The Denver Post, Denver, Colorado
Third: Kimberly Lord Stewart writing in The Denver Post, Denver, Colorado

FOOD FEATURE WRITING:
First: Mary Tutwiler writing in The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, Louisiana
Second: Elizabeth Large, The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland
Third: Aleta Watson, San Jose Mercury News, San Jose, California

FOOD COLUMNS:
First: Debbie Moose writing in the News and Observer, Raleigh, North Carolina
Second: Christopher Sherman, St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Florida
Third: Maricel E. Presilla writing in the Miami Herald, Miami, Florida

RESTAURANT CRITICISM:
First: Mike Dunne, Sacramento Bee, Sacramento, California
Second: Nancy Leson, The Seattle Times, Seattle, Washington
Third: Kyle Wagner, The Denver Post, Denver, Colorado

SERIES, SPECIAL SECTIONS & SPECIAL PROJECTS:
First: Nancy Stohs, Mark Johnson, John Fauber, Jim Higgins, Karen Herzog, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Second: Jill Silva, Lauren Chapin, The Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri; Anne Brockhoff, Judith Fertig, Doug Frost, writing for The Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri.
Third: Jill Silva, The Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri

OVER 350,001 CIRCULATION

BEST NEWSPAPER FOOD SECTION:
First: Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota ; Lee Svitak Dean, Food Editor
Second: San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, California ; Miriam Morgan, Food Editor
Third: Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois ; Carol Mighton Haddix, Food Editor

FOOD NEWS REPORTING:
First: Kim Severson, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, California
Second: Lee Svitak Dean, Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Third: Candy Sagon, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.

FOOD FEATURE WRITING:
First: Kim Severson, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, California
Second: John Kessler, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia
Third: Kim Martin Pierce writing in the Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas

FOOD COLUMNS:
First: John Kessler, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia
Second: Rick Nichols, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Third: Al Sicherman, Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota

RESTAURANT CRITICISM:
First: Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, California
Second: Craig LaBan, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Third: Tom Sietsema, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.

SERIES, SPECIAL SECTIONS & SPECIAL PROJECTS:
First: Miriam Morgan, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, California
Second: Carol Mighton Haddix, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois
Third: James F. Sweeney, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio

BEST FOOD FEATURE IN A MAGAZINE:
First: Janet Fletcher writing in the San Francisco Chronicle magazine, San Francisco, California
Second: Natalie MacLean, Nepean, Ontario, Canada, writing in Ottawa City Magazine, Canada
Third: Greg Atkinson, writing in Food Arts Magazine, New York, New York

BEST STUDIO FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY: (sorry, no links as the papers are AWFUL about online photo credits. I couldn't find food photography credited to these fine photographers)
First: David Carson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis, Missouri
Second: Diana McMillen/Graham Brown, Midwest Living magazine, Des Moines, Iowa
Third: Doug Kapustin, The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Maryland

BEST NON-STUDIO FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY:
First: Stormi Greener, Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Second: Tom Wallace, Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Third: Tom Wallace, Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota

BEST FOOD COVERAGE ON THE INTERNET:
First: Natalie MacLean, Nepean, Ontario, Canada; www.nataliemaclean.com
Second: Natalie MacLean, Nepean, Ontario, Canada; www.nataliemaclean.com
Third: Jane Snow, Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, Ohio, writing in e-mailed newsletter sponsored by the Akron Beacon Journal

Congratulations to all the winners.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at 9:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
October 16, 2004
Picks of the Week
Too Many Chefs post of the week

Each week, we pick three posts we particularly enjoyed over the last week from the vast community of excellent food bloggers. Maybe these posts were funny, maybe they were great recipes or a particularly well-written review of a restaurant. Maybe they just were the right post for us at the right time. If you haven't read them, this should give you a chance to go back and catch them before they disappear into the archives.

I. Sometimes its all about the cooking, and sometimes its all about the restaurant food. Noodlepie has been sampling the menu at Ngu Vien in Saigon. This week we get four beautiful dishes and are spared the music from "a kidnapped band forced to grind through the most turgid of cellophane symphonies on the whim of a Kim-Jong-Il-alike".

1. Confessions of a Foodie has been getting us in the Halloween mood this week with recipes appropriate for the holiday. For those of you unfamiliar with Halloween it's the day when kids get all dressed up in cute costumes, traipse through the neighborhood, ring your doorbell and threaten to break something if you don't give them SUGAR! My favorite of the dishes this last week was the Screaming Buttered Moose Pie. You either love or hate butterscotch. I love it.

A. I've been waiting for a sufficiently complex recipe to recommend you check out Cooking for Engineers. If you got into food because of Alton Brown, this is your place. The best part of this site is the compact way the recipes are written. Check out this recipe for peanut butter cookies and you'll see what i mean.

See you next week!

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at 1:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
October 15, 2004
Reading Well with EatingWell

I've recently discovered a food magazine that I like quite a bit and would like to recommend. The name of the magazine is EatingWell, and it comes from Vermont. I'm not sure what it is about New England that produces not just good food but good food journalism.

This is the second incarnation of EatingWell which was originally published from 1990 to 1999. Publication resumed in June of 2002.

The magazine focuses naturally, on food. Short articles tend to be health and nutrition focused like one from the latest issue on reducing salt in your food to the levels necessary to comply with new nutritional guidelines, or another article on how lutein, an antioxidant found in spinach, kiwi, and red grapes may help your vision.

Each issue contains at least one longer article on a specific topic. The latest issue has an article by Peter Jaret on the health benefits of coffee, and is supplemented by: a taste test of six coffees; nine tips on how to brew a perfect cup of American-style coffee; a guide to determine if you're a "java junkie"; a brief on the coffee terms "fair trade" "shade grown", "organic" and "single origin"; and accompanying recipes that use coffee as a main ingredient. The chocolate fudge pudding cake recipe looks especially good.

Other articles feature recipes. Each recipe in EatingWell is clear and is supplemented with nutritional information on the caloric, fat, choleserol, carb, protein, fiber, and sodium content of the finished food - important information for dieters and those with sodium or other dietary restrictions. Food exchange values for each recipe are available on their website. Many recipes are accompanied by bullet point substitution suggestions or shopping tips.

The photography is impeccable. They could have a recipe for liver with pickled prunes in dirt sauce and the photographers would make it look delicious.

One of my favorite features offers suggestions on how to slim down a particular meal or recipe. This current issue turns a supersized bagel with cream cheese, a glass of orange juice, and a Duncan Donuts Swirl Latte with 1083 calories total into a more filling and satisfying half bagel with egg and cheese, an orange, and a skim latte with only 472 calories, equal protein, lower sodium, and much lower fat. EatingWell accomplishes the difficult feat of not being preachy about nutrition and fat, but still getting the essential messages of healthier cooking and eating across.

We often feature recipes on Too Many Chefs that aren't exactly health food. I'll be using the tips in EatingWell to produce some other dishes that will be a little easier on your waistline while fooling your brain into thinking you're being naughty.

How much do I like this magazine? After reading one issue, I subscribed. Check their website for more information and recipes and you might find yourself signing up as well.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at 10:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 14, 2004
Food Section Digestion


Well the debates are over and I have to say I'm disappointed. Neither candidate sufficiently pandered to the all-important Food Blogger Community. Forget NASCAR dads and security moms, it is in the food blogs of this great nation that the fate of our children will be decided. Where's MY free Navy bean soup like you get in the Congressional cafeteria, Senator Kerry? Where's MY "No Appetite Left Behind Act", President Bush? Huh? Huh?

Hang on, Nader's offering us a peanut...

On to the food sections.

Bill Daley this week in the Chicago Tribune takes on a domestic policy issue - what to do with leftovers in the age of Costco packaging? The answers are creative and come not only from chefs like the great Jacques Pepin, but from readers of the Trib as well. You'll want to run out and buy 10 pounds of salmon today. Wolfgang Puck actually writes "I love tailgating". Now seriously, can you see Wolfgang Puck tailgating? Who does he root for, the Washington Redskin Peanuts? Michael Malone scores a touchdown by reminding us plain citizens that it's oyster time! I called out the Trib a few weeks ago when it had nothing worth reading in the food section, I'll give them a compliment this week as the food section is particularly rich with good articles. Nice job, Tribbers.

In New York at the New York Times, Amanda Hesser outsources our appetites to Sri Lanka, just off the coast of India, and finds king coconuts, multicolored curries,and starches of every kind. R.W. Apple graced Chicago with his presence to visit local Alsatian sensation Jean Joho. R.W.- give me a call next time you're in town - we'll do lunch (um, you DO have an expense account, right?) There's an actual political food story as Marian Burros interviews Teresa Heinz Kerry and refrains from making any ketchup jokes. Eric Asimov meanwhile indulges in some fine farmhouse ales.

Tony Rosenfeld in the Washington Post recommends half-measures to deal with garlic by crushing it lightly. Nonsense, say I. Smack that clove up and deal with the consequences! Ed Bruske is no cold fish - no, he supports hot fish - in four different stews. Ben Giliberti think we shouldn't mind when we get screwed. By which he means when we get fine screw-top wines.

The Los Angeles Times's Corie Brown thinks fine wines will be coming from Paso Robles. I've had wine from Paso Robles and they're right. Emily Green writes that olives are the next great crop from Paso Robles, and Jordan Mackay parses the region's wine-making style. That's a lot of attention to a small region. Must be a swing state.

The San Francisco Chronicle is bringing in a bumper crop of roof produce. The Chronicle's Michael Buaer reviews a restuarant that uses aromatherapy techniques. Smells like... victory.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Hsiao-Ching Chou endorses wild matsutake mushrooms. Ann Lovejoy goes for the red and white state votes with recipes for both red and white lasagnas.

In Boston, the Boston Globe's Lisa Zwirn knows it all comes down to oil, and has tips for shoosing the right one. Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven try to appeal to all constituencies in their potluck discussion with a "meat loaf pate".

From Senator Kerry's home state we go to the President's home state where the Hartford Courant talks up Chowhound.com. You didn't know Bush was born in Connecticut? OK, fine we'll go next to where he grew up, though Kennebukport doesn't have a food section on-line.

The Houston Chronicle and Dai Huynh's hunt for the perfect Oktoberfest Weiner schnitzel. Dai Huynh washes it down with a sip of cognac, which must be tasted according the rules set down by Huynh's interview, Jean Dominique Andreu.

Pableaux Johnson of the New Orleans Times-Picayune covers John T. Edge's fried chicken satori. Alicia ross with Beverley Mills make sure Dixie represents itself with a "frogmore stew". I'd never heard of the stuff.

Turning from domestic to foreign affairs, the London-based Observer published their food monthly for October last week. Among the articles - Jay Rayner writes his impressions of Per Se, the new restaurant in New York from the chef behind the French Laundry, Thomas Keller. This piece like many from the Observer and Guardian reads like something from a mid-70's Rolling Stone - minus the mescaline, of course. Nigel Slater picks the 10 best autumn dishes ever. Slater's a favorite of mine and of Meg in Paris's so I'm not slamming him, but is it really necessary to write "Britain's best food writer" every time the Observer talks about him? He is a great writer. Let his words speak for themselves. Otherwise it smacks of desperation like Donald "Class" Trump.

On the multipaper Irish site Unison.ie, the apparently still meat and potatoes Irish are so surprised by a vegan living 20 years that they write an article about him. Apparently it's meat, potatoes, and bread as the average Irishman or Irishwoman takes in 25% of their salt from bread.

Willie Simpson at the Sydney Morning Herald wraps his head around boiling oysters in stout. Then eating the oysters. Then drinking the stout. Happy Halloween. Summer's coming in the southlands and Brigette Hafner has strawberry tart and Himmels torte recipes for the season.

At New Zealand's multi-paper stuff.co.nz site, Mary Kirk-Anderson is Basqueing in a fishy feeling. Shelly Caldwell meanwhile launches a navel orange assault on cookies.

That's it for this week. Lunch is approaching, so we're now giving Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik fifteen minutes to get over here with a good egg-salad sandwich before we choose our candidate...

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at 10:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Sinful Fish

Normally, when I buy fish it's because we are in the mood for something light and healthy. I grill it, I bake it, I steam it, I have only once fried it (and the deep fat fryer was subsequently given to the concierge in our old apartment building). Usually, when I buy the fish I have a good idea which healthy option I'm going to choose. Lately, though, I've been trying to buy my food in advance instead of stopping at the grocery store every evening and so I bought some whiting on Saturday without a clear idea of when or how I would prepare it.

On Monday, when I took it from the fridge, I made a momentous decision: I would do something different with the fish, something not necessarily healthy. (This is heady stuff!)

So what did I have in the fridge to accompany my fish? An open bottle of heavy cream needing to be used...mmmm...some frozen thyme I also bought over the weekend...mmm...bread crumbs and almond slivers, all good with fish. The problem when you start throwing around ideas in your head is keeping to a limited number, so that you don't end up with a confusing culinary mess. I stopped there. And I came up with a delicious fish dish. I'll be making this (or variations thereof) again over these coming cold winter months, as it was so very satisfying and tasty. Also, it took less than half an hour to prepare - yay!

Sinful Fish (serves 2)

250g (1/3 lb?) white fish filets (in this case, strips of whiting)
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs frozen or fresh thyme
1 Tbs frozen or fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup bread crumbs
2 Tbs slivered almonds

Preheat the oven to 400C/375F. Spread the bottom of a small baking dish with the butter (softened or melted, whichever you find easier). Pour in the sherry. Layer the fish evenly in the dish. Sprinkle it with the thyme and parsley. Dribble the cream over the fish. You might need to use a spoon to take some from the valleys and make sure you cover all the peaks. I'm guessing how much cream I used here, but it really wasn't much. Sprinkle evenly with the breadcrumbs and then scatter the almond slivers over the top. Put in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, long enough for the cream to bubble away and the almonds and breadcrumbs to start to brown.

To keep with the self-indulgent tone of the meal I was creating, I decided to make a side dish of pasta instead of the ubiquitous fish-with-rice combination. While the pasta was boiling, I browned a couple of cloves of chopped garlic in butter and grated a handful of Parmesan. This is almost my favourite thing to do with pasta: just cover it with loads of butter, garlic and cheese. Mmmm.

Once I plated the fish, steaming from the oven, it looked beautiful. The Critic will back me up on this: it was gorgeous. However, rather than let his dish get cold I told him: go, eat, I'll photograph mine. The photo didn't do it justice. I'm not going to give you a photo of something mostly white (pasta) next to something pale brown (fish) because it won't make you want to try this recipe and I think it turned out GREAT. The cream and almonds set off the nuttiness of the fish filets and the breadcrumbs gave it a nice little crunch. The thyme and parsley added that extra touch that kept the whole dish from seeming bland. It all melted in your mouth in a savoury, nutty bite. What's more, there was enough fish sauce left in the bottom of the baking dish to drizzle over the pasta, where it only enhanced the garlic, butter and Parmesan combination.

All in all, this was one of my most successful inventions. However, I do have a confession to make: somewhere in my Fanny Farmer cookbook, there is a similar recipe for fish filets baked in cream with herbs. I didn't look up the recipe and I don't think it called for sherry, bread crumbs or almond slivers, so I can claim this one as my own. But I was inspired by Mrs. Farmer, I must admit!

Posted by Meg in Sussex at 5:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
October 13, 2004
Dragon Fruit

dragon fruit.jpg They sat in a cardboard box in a greengrocers in Chinatown, beckoning me. Exotic, pink and green...unknown...exciting. Next to the indecipherable (Chinese?) characters, were scrawled the words "Dragon Fruit". Well, well. This we have to try. So I bought one and brought it home. How can you NOT want to try something called Dragon Fruit? I imagined a scarlet interior, peppery and fruity at once, something to match the hype of its exterior and its name. Isn't it fun to anticipate trying something you've never tasted before?

That said, I did some research before biting into this particular forbidden fruit. I didn't want to find out the hard way that - like rhubarb or blowfish - there are poisonous bits to be avoided.

Hylocereus undatus is a fruit that is grown in nearly all tropical climates these days, though it is said to originate in South America. In fact, eating it is about as simple as you would assume on looking at it: open it up and eat the inside, not the cool pink and green skin. It's in the cactus family and if you are interested in growing some dragon fruit in your own home, a simple Google search will take you to hundreds of sites willing to instruct you. For the decorative element alone, I would think it would be worth cultivating!

inside a dragon fruit.jpgAnd the proof in the pudding? Well, it was...nice. Not at all dragon-y. In fact, I noticed in one place that an alternative name for the fruit is "strawberry pear" and this seems more appropriate than the dragon association. Inside, the texture is like a cross between a watery melon and a pear, but scattered with tiny crunchy seeds, like a kiwi. The taste is also fairly melon-like, in that it is bland. Bland, bland, bland and somewhat sweet. It was a nice texture and I'm glad to have tried it. However, my immediate thought was: this would be tasty with a nice sharp raspberry coulis. In fact, I think dragon fruit must be at its best when paired with other fruits. Its striking appearance would add panache to any dish and you could add the fruit to almost any other fruit combination without worrying about upsetting the balance of flavours. (Unless the rest of the dish was composed of porridge...but I digress into silliness...)

So there you have it. A virgin's experience with Dragon Fruit. Probably not as exciting reading as a virgin's experience with a real dragon (Did you know my namesake St. Margaret was cut from the belly of a dragon? And subsequently became the patron saint of childbirth? Lucky me!) but at least it's real, it's live and our friend David was the witness and participating guineau pig.

Posted by Meg in Sussex at 3:59 PM | Comments (90) | TrackBack
Spinach Puff

This is another dish from our Friday debate party. I was casting around for ideas for a dish and asked Meg (in Paris) to give me some thoughts. She suggested I do a creamed spinach in puff pastry. So I did, and it turned out great.

I did NOT make my own puff pastry for this dish. If you're the enterprising sort, make yourself some 10" or 11" square pieces of puff and then follow the rest of this recipe.

The creamed spinach is derived from a recipe from Robbie's Recipes. I've modified the recipe a lot and had to rescue the sauce as it was originally written so I've presented my version here.

Spinach Puff Pastries

6 puff pastry squares - 10" per side. Usually these are sold in boxes of 2 each.
20 oz. fresh cleaned, de-stemmed, washed spinach
3 tblsp butter
1/4 cup AP flour
1 cup heavy cream
2 cup skim milk
4 oz. raclette cheese or similar soft light yellow cheese, cut in very small chunks for melting
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 small onion minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (for topping)

Take you puff pastries out of the freezer at least 30 minutes and no more than one hour before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 375 F, and lightly grease a big cookie sheet with olive oil.

Place the spinach in a large saucepan, adding water to create steam. Cover and let steam until wilted. Drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat to make a roux. Whisking constantly, stir in the cream then the chunks of cheese.

Keep whisking until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.

If the sauce breaks and you get what looks like stringy dough in oil, slowly whisk in skim milk, a little at a time, until the sauce returns to a smooth white consistency. Add the spinach, onions, and garlic.

The original recipe calls for sauteeing the onions and garlic, but I find the minced aromatics work better in this recipe if not broken down by anything but a knife's blade.

Heat through, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.

Roll out the pastry dough to reinforce seams from folding. Follow the diagram below for the folding technique:

First, orient the puff pastry square in front of you so it makes a diamond. Place a sixth of the spinach mix in the center of the sheet. Fold in the corners so you make the diamond into a smaller square without rotating it. Next fold in the corners again so you make an even smaller diamond out of the square.

Lightly spray or brush the pastry tops with olive oil and sprinkle Parmesan on top. Transfer to the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and puffy.

Remove puff to cooling rack and let sit for five minutes before serving. Be careful, the center is really hot. Serves 12 half-puffs as part of a larger dinner or six whole puffs as a main course.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at 1:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 12, 2004
Nut Tart


You're looking at the loneliest piece of nut tart. This is all that was left after a Friday debate-watching party.

Shortly after this photo, my wife swears the tart slice jumped up, ran to the window, yelled "Vive la nuts!" leapt to a nearby tree, slid down the bark and ran(!) to freedom. I'm not entirely sure I believe her as she was brushing crumbs from her chin at the time.

This recipe is from the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts. I've modified it only slightly, but I think you might benefit from my experience with what seemed to be a very difficult crust. The reaction from the debate crowd was positive. A few felt it might have had a wee bit too much orange in it, but I like orange, and I baked the tart, so too bad for them.

This is only one of dozens of great recipes in the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts. Take a look at the book next time you find yourself in a local book megamall.

Nut Tart

Crust
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest (I increased to two oranges worth)
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into small chunks
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup unbleached white pastry flour (I used AP and it seemed to work but see notes below)
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp cold water if necessary (This time out, I didn't need any)

In a big bowl, combine the sugar and orange zest, blend with a fork.

Working very quickly, add the butter flour and salt and mix with your hands until the mixture is crumbly.

Add the egg yolk and work in with your hands until the mixture is a light yellow.

Sprinkle the vanilla into the dough and mix together quickly with your hands. This is all the moisture I needed to bring the dough together. If you need more add a little bit of cold water until you can make a ball of (mostly unstable) dough.

Wrap the ball in cling film and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight. The flour in the dough will hydrate. Chilling the mix down will also keep unmelted butter from melting (a good thing for later).

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. This is an impossible task in a hot kitchen like the one I was using. If it sticks or breaks of makes a mess, sprinkle a little more flour and fold the dough in half and try again. Eventually, you should be able to roll it out so it fits into a 9" or 10" tart pan.

If the dough keeps ripping or sticking, get it as close as you can to round, drop the dough into the tart pan and flatten the dough out in the pan with a chilled tablespoon back. You can nip off pieces of dough and reposition them to plug holes or low spots along the side of the tart. This dough is difficult in hot environments, but also forgiving since it smooths together well.

Put the tart pan on a cookie sheet or pizza cardboard and place it in the freezer for one hour prior to baking.

Filling
1 3/4 cups pecans
3/4 cup slivered almonds
3 tablespoons pine nuts

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon grated orange peel (increased to one orange's worth of grated peel)
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, or other orange liqueur

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

On a cookie sheet, spread the nuts out evenly. Toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the nuts have a nice color and toasty aroma.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine the sugar, butter and water for 5-7 minutes until you get a thin syrup that lightly coats the back of a spoon.

Remove the mix from the heat, stir in the cream, nuts, orange peel and Grand Marnier and stir to coat the nuts evenly. Very little liquid should remain in the bottom of the saucepan.

Spread the nuts evenly over the frozen crust. Drizzle any remaining liquid in the saucepan onto the top of the nuts and bake for 25-35 minutes until the crust is browned. I added a tablespoon of sugar sprinkled lightly over the top of the tart before baking to add to the golden color.

Once the tart is done, let it cool five minutes before removing the sides of the tart. Let the tart cool on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes before removing the bottom and transferring it to a cardboard pizza round or cake stand. Be careful - the tart will be very malleable when you pull it from the oven.

If you can, let the tart sit for a few hours in the refrigerator to let it firm up quite a bit. Serve slices with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at 2:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 11, 2004
Coop's Place

Coop's Place is nothing fancy, just a bar with food. The food, though, happens to be some of the best jambalaya in New Orleans. The big bowls of rice, tomatoes, diced bell peppers, and meat have an earthy red color and a deep smoky taste. Coop's loads up the standard jambalaya with sausage and rabbit.

For a few extra nickels, you can upgrade to jambalaya supreme, which adds crawfish, shrimp, and tasso. It's an option you should take. Coop's smokes their own tasso, a cured, heavily seasoned pork, right in their patio.

This bar has become the place in New Orleans for jambalaya, and I'm willing to bet that the gumbo would be fine as well. The menu has some other items, burgers, pasta, sandwiches, but if you ask for dessert the waiter will probably suggest another beer.

Coop's Place
1109 Decatur
New Orleans, LA
11am - 3am daily

Also posted at A Frolic of My Own.

Posted by Todd in New Orleans at 10:03 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
October 10, 2004
Banana Apricot Nut Bread

banana apricot cake.jpg
In addition to fond memories and a few extra pounds around our middles, my brother and his wife left behind them three very ripe bananas. I don't buy bananas very often because the Critic doesn't like them very much and I only like them when just barely ripe. Buying more than one a time in these circumstances doesn't make much sense. But thanks to my brother, I had the means to make one of my favourite recipes: banana nut bread. Since our friend Jonathan was invited to come watch the England v. Wales football match, I decided to experiment with the recipe, try to make something a little special. With all modesty, I have to say I think I found a winner: Banana Apricot Nut Bread.

In this version, golden sweet bananas give a background setting to the nutty pecans and surprisingly tart dried apricots. Of course, in the baking the apricots swell and become juicy, but what I didn't expect was the sharp burst of flavour they would give to each bite. This combination works extremely well and I can't see myself going back to plain old boring banana bread any more!

Banana-Apricot-Nut Bread

This recipe was adapted from the Fanny Farmer Fresh Banana Cake. As the consistency came out fairly dense and moist, I didn't bother frosting it (or calling it a cake).

1/2 cup (115g) sweet butter
1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
1 cup mashed banana (3 bananas, but more is better, so don't throw it away if you have slightly more than a cup!)
2 large free-range eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour milk (I used a mixture of creme fraiche and fresh milk)
2 Tbs lemon juice
5 large dried apricots, chopped (actually, you could easily put in more)
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Butter and lightly flour a 9" square cake pan. Cream the butter, slowing add the sugar and beat until light. Add the banana mush, eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add the nuts, apricot, flour, baking soda and salt and mix. Slowly add the sour milk and lemon juice. Beat until well-blended. Spread in the pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

The original recipe calls for splitting the cake and filling it with banana cream frosting. This sounds delicious, but actually it was tasty hot from the oven just on its own. To keep, cover with tin foil and serve cold with either some soft butter (or toasted, mmmm) or go ahead and frost it!

As my 9" baking pan was not available, I used two smaller baking pans: a small one for serving immediately and a larger one for saving (and possibly sharing with my work colleagues tomorrow). As you can see from the photo, the small one didn't last long...

Posted by Meg in Sussex at 11:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 9, 2004
Picks of the Week
Too Many Chefs post of the week

Each week, we pick three posts we particularly enjoyed over the last week from the vast community of excellent food bloggers. Maybe these posts were funny, maybe they were great recipes or a particularly well-written review of a restaurant. Maybe they just were the right post for us at the right time. If you haven't read them, this should give you a chance to go back and catch them before they disappear into the archives.

1. Cooks have storage problems, especially in apartments in the city. Where do you put all your pots and pans? Over on Frost Street, Jeremy shows us his pots and pans just hanging out waiting for him to come home and cook. I like this arrangement, and I've thought about it on occasion, but don't the pots get greasy from the oil vapors in the kitchen? I hope not, but I suspect they might.

I. The poor deluded people over at Slice think they have better pizza in New York than in Chicago. It's sad, really; you have to feel for them. Somehow Slice continues to be one of my favorite reads. How can you not love a blog dedicated entirely to pizza pies? Adam and E-Rock headed out on the LIRR last Saturday to judge a contest designed to identify the best pizza on Long Island. Make that best pizzas, since the judges picked not just the best regular and Sicilian style pizza, but the best specialty, marinara, and Grandma pizzas. I had never heard of the Grandma pizza but next time I'm in Baldwin, or Rockville I'll look for it.

A. Alice at My Adventures in a Breadbox had posted all-vegetarian recipes until this last week when she offered Pork, and Proof that I do Eat Meat, The proof comes in the form of a cabbage, apple, onion, turnip, and pork dish that I can smell right through the screen. Imagine it overlaid with the scent of burning wood in a warm fireplace on a chilly fall evening. Mmmm...

That's it for this week, come back next Saturday when we pick three more posts of the week.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at 3:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 8, 2004
By Popular Demand: the Food Digest

Two weeks of undigested food news can leave a big hard lump in your tummy. So I have decided to provide you with the digest Barrett began last week and a few more recent links of my own. Happy reading!!

Barrett's Old News

The last week of September is here and the first U.S. Presidential debates are upon us. It's doubtful these two will present us with a rematch of Lincoln-Douglas, but tune in tonight to see who addresses the real food-based issues of our time.

George Erdosh writes in the Chicago Tribune that "Mother nature hates fresh food." Sounds like she worked in my high-school's cafeteria. Read his suggestions on how to beat Mother Nature by storing your food properly. Oenophile Bill Daley challenges the wisdom that you should cook with the wine you plan to drink. Donna Pierce reprints Kim Kaiser's classic apple cake recipe. I've had this cake - it's a winner (unlike my Chicago Cubs lately...).

R.W. Apple, Jr. of the New York Times spends this week in the capital of the swing state of Wisconsin at the largest farmer's market in the country. Florence Fabricant watches as cocktail-making is transformed into a high art in Manhattan. Dana Bowen looks at garlic from New York state and explains the difference between soft-necked and hard-necked garlic. Julie Powell reads Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" Her conclusion - it's a good collection of recipes, but it's not going to replace Fanny Farmer or The Joy of Cooking as a single must-have tome.

Meg's New News

The Chicago Sun Times had a story about the true Chicago Sundae. (You may have noticed that Barrett is a Chicago newspaper snob and only includes food news from the Trib...!) Sadly, the article notes that although the sundae used to contain only authentic Chicagoan ingredients, some of them now come from as far away as Southern Illinois!

An exciting restaurant review in the September edition of the UK Observer's Food Monthly: "Dominatrix waitresses, a cross-dressing maitre d', beds for dining chairs...Amsterdam's Supperclub reviewed"...yeow!

From the Sydney Morning Herald, a Marriott hotel in London has been asking patrons to sign a waver form if they want their meat served rare, yes the "nanny state" lives on...

And Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving this Monday and the Toronto Star had this recipe for pumpkin fudge. Isn't it nice of them to publish their Thanksgiving recipes well in advance of our Thanksgiving? Or you could, of course, make them for Halloween...

Next week we promise that like MacArthur at Corregidor, The Food Digest Shall return!

Posted by Meg in Sussex at 8:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 7, 2004
No digest today

My problem with my ISP is resolved, but I'm crazy busy at work so I will have to forego the Food Section Digestion today. Next week for sure.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at 1:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
October 6, 2004
Pineau de Charentes

pineaux.jpgIn a recent trip to the Charentes-Maritime region of France I had the pleasure to be re-introduced to a friend of old: the lovely apéritif known as pineau de Charentes.

This is a friendship worth developing. Pineau is a sweet fortified wine, golden, subtle and a perfect start to a meal. Unlike many apéritifs you get offered in the French countryside (blended whisky and campari come to mind) it doesn't remove the lining of your stomach or your tongue before you begin your meal. It's sweet without being cloying and, at its best, has a slightly spicy overtone.

In the Charentes region, it is obviously ubiquitous. Not only is it served as an apéro, but it is used extensively - and to good effect - in a number of dishes. In the mouclade, you'll find it delicately blending with cream and mussels. It is also frequently also used like its better known cousin, the port: poured in the center of a delicious melon charentais. The pineau is a versatile little drink, mixing well with fruit, seafood and certain sharp cheeeses: a friend you can take with you just about anywhere.

The origins of my friend go back some five hundred years. According to local legend, it was during the time of Henri IV that a winegrower accidentally poured his fermenting wine grapes into a vat of cognac. Providentially (God looks after these people, doesn't He?) the winemaker did not realize his mistake for a few years, until a bumper crop of grapes necessitated his emptying the vat. When he came to taste it, he realized he was on to a good thing and a new wine was born.

Coming back to a more prosaic plane, what this means is that the producers of pineau ferment a variety of grapes such as Sauvignon and Semillon and stop the fermentation process by adding cognac to the mix. (Don't ask my why - I have yet to find a chemist who can explain!) It is then aged at least 18 months in an oak barrel to reach perfection. The resulting wine is 12 to 16% alcohol, just strong enough to make it a little exciting but not in the chest-hair-growing category.

We were offered a tasting of pineaux of varying ages at a wine shop in Marennes in the Charente, and were given all this information and a lot more. The most common variety is nominally a white (although you can see in the photo above that it varies from golden to a golden pink). The rosé version is, confusingly, nearly the same colour as the golden pink bottle above: the name refers to the pink grapes used, not the final colour of the wine. There is also a red pineau, which is much less thick and sweet than a ruby port.

So successful was this tasting that we walked away with a bottle of the five year old vieux pineau (it will be perfect with Christmas pudding according to the Critic), a jar of pineau jelly and a bottle of a more recent vintage (a perfect Christmas gift for my mother-in-law, who is fond of sweet sherry). Serve your pineau chilled to appreciate its delicate flavours best!

For more information, you can consult the official pineau site at www.pineau.fr. There is a link to download an informational package in English for those who are not proficient in French.

Posted by Meg in Sussex at 1:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 5, 2004
Chicken Savoyard

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Last night I was hunting around for something to do with a couple of chicken breasts and so I rummaged in the back of the fridge. I usually look for inspiration for a new dish in the supermarket and actually find it in the back of my fridge. (Sometimes I find an article that is the opposite of inspiring, but that is another story...) Last night, the inspiration came from the leftover food from our raclette dinner. What if I combined the elements of a raclette in one dish? My first thought was to stuff the chicken breasts with meat and cheese and coat the package with bread crumbs. However, I usually try to reserve the really unhealthy meals for days when we have guests. (It's not that I want to make my friends fat, but if I'm going to consume a gazillion calories and double my cholesterol level, I want it to be a fancy dinner and I want to share!)

In the end, I found a quick and relatively healthy alternative. It sounds like a lot of work, but actually took about twenty minutes to prepare from inspiration to first bite!

Chicken Savoyard

2 chicken breasts
2 slices of Savoyard or other raw ham (an Italian ham would work, but don't waste proscuitto on this as it's delicate and so good on its own! Bacon would also work, but you would be edging back towards the unhealthy side of the scale)
4 thick slices of raclette (you could substitute comté, beaufort, tomme or gruyère in a pinch: the more flavour the better, though)
olive oil
dried sage

Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them with a little dried sage. Place them on a hot grill pan. While they start cooking, get out your ham and cheese and prepare any vegetables you want to serve with the chicken. (In my case, I chose steamed broccoli, mmmm...) Turn over the breasts and cook the other side. If you get impatient (as I did) you can split them open and cook the inside more quickly. When they are almost cooked through, remove them from the pan, wrap each one in a slice of ham and return to the pan. Cook quickly on each side until the ham is cooked through. (I didn't put the ham on from the start because I was afraid it would overcook before the chicken was done.)

Turn on the grill or broiler of your oven. Place two slices of cheese on each of the breasts and slide under the heat. It should only take about five minutes for the cheese to melt in a lovely pool. Raclette works particularly well on this dish because the cheese melts in a very thick puddle, which sticks to the breast instead of running all over the pan.

Okay, it's not as healthy as a stir fry or a green salad. On the other hand, aside from the cheese there is very little fat in this dish. And let me tell you, it was delicious!

Posted by Meg in Sussex at 11:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 4, 2004
The Bees' Knees

honey2.jpgWhen I lived in the 16th arrondisement of Paris, the local market at the metro Michel Ange-Auteuil was my usual stamping ground on a Saturday morning. It's a small market, but it has just about everything a cook could want. I had my favourite cheese stand, the best place to buy fresh apple juice and the organic vegetables all to hand. In addition, I had something I have yet to find in the new market in the 17th: a great honey stand. I hadn't realized how lucky I was to have such a good honey source until my brother gently pointed out that his honey supply was getting low and I started looking around for a new supplier. (For the last six years or so, I've been doing my best to keep my brother well stocked in a variety of honies as he is the biggest fan of honey outside of an A.A. Milne book that I have ever found...)

In the end I decided that although there are a lot of places in Paris to get honey, none of them have the charm of the honey you buy from M. Guy Allart of the Ruchers du Bel Air. I tried to catch M. Allart at the Auteuil market a few times, but as he is only there every other week I somehow never got lucky. Last week, I called him at home and confirmed that he would be there this Saturday and our plans were set: my brother, his very patient wife and I would make the pilgrimmage to the old neighborhood for honey.

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Here you can see the historic meeting: honey afficionado meets honey supplier. A match made in heaven! (Note the photo on the right of M. Allart's father with a "beard" of bees!)

What sets M. Allart aside from other honey sellers? Firstly, I like the fact that he sells his own honey. He is the keeper of the bees that keep my brother happy. Secondly, he makes the tastiest miel au tournesol (honey from sunflowers) that I have ever found: nutty, creamy and opaque it is my personal favourite. Thirdly, he wins on the sheer variety of honies he produces. Miel de printemps (spring flowers), miel de chataigne (chestnut), miel de gatinais (a wildflower selection), miel de sapins des Vosges (pine trees from the Vosges mountains), miel de romarin (rosemary)...the list goes on and on. This is an impressive selection for one guy and his bees!

I asked M. Allart how he manages to ensure his bees produce each variety and he explained that he takes the hives around the country, according to the season and what is in flower. In each place he leaves the hives for anywhere from a few days to a week, just long enough to let the bees capture the height of the flowering season. Then he brings them home and extracts the honey. And how, you may wonder, does one extract honey from a honeycomb? It's very clever, really: you put it in a machine that spins the comb around and extracts the honey by centrifugal force! Apparently, the spinning cycle is not very fast as the heaviness of the honey ensures that it will slide out at a fairly low rpm.

And once you have finished admiring the many varieties of honey at M. Allart's stand you can go on to check out the honey products he sells with them: hydromiel (a kind of modern-day mead), pain d'épices (a spiced sweet cake, kind of like gingerbread), honey flavoured candies and nougat.

toast and honey.jpgMy brother bought five jars of honey, some hard candy and nougat and I bought a jar of the miel de printemps, though I didn't need any. Yesterday morning for breakfast I spread it on a slice of toast and found that it had a very uncomplicated vanilla taste, almost like marshmallow. The spring flowers honey was perfect on buttered toast, but I would use something with more flavour to it - the chestnut, pine or rosemary variety - if I were making a honey-mustard sauce or salad dressing.

To find M. Allart, you only need to visit the market at the Michel Ange-Auteuil metro on the number nine line. His stall is across the street from the market, in front of the Monoprix grocery store. Have a chat with him and ask him about his wares. You'll be swept away by his enthusiasm and by his products!

Posted by Meg in Sussex at 10:37 AM | Comments (2)
October 3, 2004
Nigel Slater's Fish Pie

fish pie.jpgWhen we visited my brother and his wife a couple of years ago, they treated us to their favourite Nigel Slater fish dish: his French-ish Fish Soup, a tomato and garlic based soup that was truly delicious. However, I had to tell them that I have my own personal favourite fish dish from the Nigel Collection: his fish pie. This is a dish that takes a bit of work, but is not very complicated and usually turns out looking absolutely gorgeous when you bring it to the table. Because it's not an easy recipe to reduce to proportions for two, I generally serve it as a casual dinner when we have friends or family with us. And so yesterday I bought the ingredients for the perfect fish pie: shrimp, smoked haddock, cream and potatoes.

These ingredients go so well together that I believe this recipe alone qualifies Nigel for the title of Genius. I never used to like smoked fish all that much, but dishes like this completely changed my mind. Smoke and cream go perfectly together, the shrimp add a bit of bite and the potatoes keep the whole thing from being too rich and complicated. However, I will warn you: even when perfectly prepared this looks like glop on your plate, but by then your guests will be smelling the pie and looks won't matter a whit. Trust me.

Nigel Slater's Fish Pie (with a few minor modifications by Yours Truly)

800 grams smoked haddock (yes it's orange, but trust me it will taste good - don't skimp!)
800 grams cooked shrimp
800 grams potatoes
3/4 litre milk (roughly)
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1-2 heaping Tbs crème fraiche or cream
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup (or slightly more) butter
a splash of wine or sherry

First peel and chop your potatoes and set them boiling in water. Peel the shrimp, reserving the heads, tails and skins in a saucepan. Pour a couple of cups of water and a splash of sherry or white wine over the shrimp heads and heat the water to boiling. Stew them on a slow boil for 15-20 minutes and then strain the liquid with a sieve.

While you are preparing the shrimp bouillon, place the haddock in a large, deep frying pan and cover with about two-thirds of the milk. You can add a little water if necessary, to cover the fish. Add the bay leaf and place on a low fire to simmer for ten to fifteen minutes. When the fish flakes easily, remove from the fire.

In a large heavy oven-proof casserole pan or pot (I use a big le Creuset pot), melt the butter and sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of flour. Stir quickly and cook until it takes on a nutty colour, then slowly add some of the milk from the haddock pan (i.e. "make a roux sauce with the haddock milk"). Do not add all the milk - just a couple of cups to start with. Remove from the heat. Flake the haddock in large pieces (just over bite-sized as they will probably break up more as you stir them) and add to the milk sauce. Chop the shrimp in bite-sized pieces and add them to the pot too. Now add a cup or so of the shrimp water and the cream. You'll want the resulting haddock and shrimp mixture to be nice and wet, but not quite a soup. Add the chopped parsley, stir and taste for salt and pepper.

By now, your potatoes should be done. Drain them and mash them with lots of butter. Use the remains of the haddock milk too, but don't make them too soupy.

In an ideal world, you would be able to let this all cool down a bit before the next step, but I usually just steam ahead, always behind schedule. Preheat the oven to 200C/375F. Carefully float spoonfuls of the mashed potatoes on the surface of the pie, covering the entire surface.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until everything is heated through (if you let them cool down) and the sauce is bubbling up against the potatoes.

A tip: it is easier to get this pie too wet than too dry, so err on the side of not adding all your haddock milk and shrimp water. Unfortunately, I do not know of another use for the haddock milk, but you can freeze the shrimp water and add it to the next fish soup you make.

The pie in the above photo got a bit browner than I usually allow because the guests were involved in a film and I hated to interrupt. Be ruthless and serve when it's done if you want to get a nice photo. It still tasted very good!

For those who are curious, the original Nigel Slater recipe called for using mussels and adding the mussel cooking liquor instead of the shrimp. Nigel had a few variations on the basic pie, including using shrimp and parsley instead, but he didn't think of boiling the skins and heads to get shrimp liquor. Other variations recommended by Nigel include: tomatoes, anchovies, saffron...but always only one ingredient per variation or you'll confuse the issue. It's a lovely, adaptable soup, perfect for a cool autumn evening!

Posted by Meg in Sussex at 11:13 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack
October 2, 2004
Next IMBB

The next IMBB (Is My Blog Burning for the uninitiated) has been announced. This host this time out is Derrick at Obsession With Food, and the theme is Layers and Layers - terrines. Everyone is tagged with making a terrine.

"Now wait," you're probably saying, "Only God can make a terrine." Well, actually that's "tree", but thanks for playing. I have to say I am a bit intimidated by this one. I've often contemplated making a terrine ...

"But wait," you're probably saying again, "Aren't terrines covered by the World Marine Wildlife Protection Act?" Um, that's a terrapin, and I'm glad you like our little blog, Mr. President. As I was saying, I'm a bit intimidated, but I have thought about giving a terrine a go. Now I have an excuse to make a mess of the kitchen and try one out.

A terrine - let me interrupt before your next question - is a layered item, usually bound together by aspic or gelatine or something similar and set in a mold to let the ingredients come together, form, bind, and create a dish that is somehow more than just the sum of its layers.

October 24th we'll find out if I can navigate what promises to be some rough terrine. I'm sure Meg will just whip up something complicated and fantastic that she's done a thousand times before. She's like that, you know.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at 6:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Posts of the Week
Too Many Chefs post of the week

Each week, we pick three posts we particularly enjoyed over the last week from the vast community of excellent food bloggers. Maybe these posts were funny, maybe they were great recipes or a particularly well-written review of a restaurant. Maybe they just were the right post for us at the right time. If you haven't read them, this should give you a chance to go back and catch them before they disappear into the archives.

A. New York is unusually blessed with good food blogs. Continuing that tradition is Urban Edibles ("a knife, a fork, a bottle and a cork - that's the way we spell New York" - guess they don't eat soup) who give us a recipe for Mussles, Bacon and Apples. The recipe looks good, but the guide to what apples you should eat when below that recipe is what sold me on this post. A meal and an education, what more could you ask?

1. Shiokadelicious! was one of the first food blogs I read regularly. I come from a Western tradition (more of a "if your food's brown or white it's all right - green or red - get takeout instead" to be honest), so it's been an education reading about the delights of Shiok-Eats. This week, Renee acquaints us with the legend of Mid-Autumn or Mooncake or Lantern festival. This is why the Internet is great. Fifteen years ago, I might have seen five minutes on this on a National Geographic special. Now I can read Renee's take on the mythology, customs, and food that go into making the festival.

I. I completely missed the Domestic Goddess's Sugar High Fridays event until today. In the vein of IMBB? The DG is encouraging people to make sugary goodies on Fridays. She's still gathering entries for the inagural edition, but in the meantime, go take a look at her own White Chocolate and Pecan Nanaimo Bars, which are pretty tempting.

I also discovered this week the seventh edition of the "Carnival of Recipes" I'm not sure how many of these new events the TMC gang will be participating in. I can see the special events proliferating until we have three main dishes due on Tuesdays, a half-dozen salads on Thursdays, Wine on Wednesdays, and Sugary Desserts on Fridays. When the heck do we get time to eat these dishes and try the recipes our fellow bloggers have put together?

...Or maybe Too Many Chefs just needs to start a Variety-Meats Monday so we have an event of our own. Start gathering those recipes for cow lung, goat spleen, and otter pancreas, cause we're coming for you!

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at 12:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 1, 2004
We have a winner!!

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I have to apologize for the late announcement of the winner of our quiz. Very unprofessional we are at TMC lately, and we are deeply sorry. However, we hope to make up for it with the stunning prizes we award. Above you see the prize for the latest quiz: a stylish enamal plaque for hanging in your kitchen. And the motto? The Chef is Always Right! (Okay, strictly speaking, chef in French means "boss"...but the boss in the kitchen is you, the cook, right?)

And so, without further ado, we announce the winner of the September quiz: Janet, from Fond of Elves!! Yay!!!! (Honorable mention goes to Elsa, a previous winner, who came within half a point of tying with her!) For the answers to the quiz, continue reading...

Answers to the September Quiz

1. What are Calabasses Pourpres? French heirloom tomatoes, as you would know if you visit Too Many Chefs often enough: http://www.toomanychefs.com/archives/001102.html

2. Definition: the science of growing plants in a liquid nutrient solution rather than in soil…this means that perfect tomatoes can be grown in the desert or in the middle of the winter. What is the term? Hydroponics (The New Food Lover’s Companion, Barron’s Cooking Guide)

3. What is chenna? Indian cheese

4. Definition: A baked Greek stew made with meat, tomatoes, pearl onions, white wine, garlic, cinnamon and oregano. What’s the dish? Stifado. (The New Food Lover’s Companion, Barron’s Cooking Guide)

5. In the news: which celebrity chef’s restaurant was recently panned by Harden's London Restaurant Guide, receiving low marks in all categories? Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, Fifteen

6. In Imperial measurements, two cups equals how many pints? One.

7. Which has fewer calories: still wine or champagne? Still wine (http://www.weightlossforall.com/calories-alcohol.htm)

8. The current world record for cherry pit spitting stands at what distance? a) 51 feet, 4 inches b) 72 feet, 7 inches or c) 95 feet, 9 inches answer: c

9. Identify the food in this photo! Flowering chives

10. According to the NY Daily News (courtesy of Foodgoat) who said “They gave us a couple of baloney sandwiches, but we're all vegan”? A protester at the NY Republican convention

Posted by Meg in Sussex at 3:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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