Expanding Horizons

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img_8628-copyI went to the animal fair, the birds and the beasts were there, the big baboon by the light of the moon was combing his auburn hair, the monkey he got drunk, and fell on the elephant’s trunk. The elephant sneezed and fell on his knees and that was the end of the monk, the monk the monk.

My Poppa Hy used to sing that song to me, I sing it to all the babies I meet. They love it, they think it is hilarious, especially if you bounce up and down while singing it. This was the song going through my head on the way to The Common Ground Fair, an annual event produced by MOFGA, aka Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.

The Fair is like a Ren Faire + 4H + Shakedown Street + Folkfest. If you get none of those references its a big fair all about organic farming and gardening and a great place to buy things like hand carved wooden spoons, candles, gourds and yarn while learning about home burials, composting, and maple syrup production, listening to many folk singers, and eating a variety of organic food stuffs ranging from lamb sausage to pie cones to fried tofu to tacos.

It was the tacos that brought me to the fair. My friend Juliana owns the Tic Tac Taco stand, and I joined her team this year. Before I tell my taco tale, and complain about my sore shoulder and spasming finger, I have to,  have to,  have to exclaim my utter admiration for what an enormously detailed operation her taco stand is.

MOGFA has a lot of rules for food vendors, some make sense and some are just the kind of rules that exist so that people who love rules can enjoy creating them. Everything has to be organic, most of it has to either be grown or raised in Maine or selected from a list of MOFGA approved food products. All rice has to be brown and all bread products whole grain, which simultaneously lessens everyone’s enjoyment of the food while providing them with a modicum of self delusion.

Juliana has been doing this for 6 years, her tacos are delicious, she makes everything but the tortillas from scratch, she used to make the tortillas herself but she finally found a woman in Portland who makes organic corn tortillas. When I say she makes everything from scratch I don’t mean oh she opens up some cans of beans and adds stuff, I mean she soaks the beans, she creates her spices mixes, she makes her salsa, she makes her own cheese and her mother raised the chickens. It really is a huge and amazing undertaking and she does it beautifully.

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pre-rolled taco with cabbage salad

 

My taco adventure took me way out of my comfort zone, I was neither a leader nor did I offer much creative or culinary input.  The fairgrounds are about 2 hours from my house, so I stayed the weekend in a camp Juliana’s family owned, I also had the option of camping at the fairgrounds. I’m really happy I didn’t take that option, though I did prepare for it. Juliana made the arrangements and I just elected to trust. I was so far out of my control freak comfort zone. I bought a bunch or ridiculous shit, some food I didn’t even really like and got ready for my 3 day 3 night adventure.

Wednesday at about 3:00 am, Aunt Flo arrived. We are all supposed to be all out in the open about our periods now, but it is still a bit cringey for me to share this intimate detail of my life with cyberland, however its a part of the tale.

I don’t have a ladylike period, those pink boxes are not for me, its not delicate its horrendous and foul and it saps my energy like mad. I bought some homeopathic drops (Shepard’s Purse) that smell like rotten celery  and were intended to “stop uterine flooding”. They did not live up to the elaborate and antiquely worded promises from the website.

I find this happens a lot with homeopathic drops, tisanes, teas and such. Perhaps my spirit and body are just not open enough to embrace the power of suggestion but they seem like a lot of over priced chicanery. The $24 I laid down would have been better spent elsewhere, perhaps on a pair of cozy socks, at least then I would’ve felt coddled. This all put me in the perfect mood for a hippy fest. I didn’t feel like being natural or loving. I needed to lie down a lot, take prescription drugs, eat crunchy salty things and watch telly and I was about to spent 3 days on my feet, 8 hours of each day with only a port a potty at my disposal.

I was terrified my non organic bleached cotton supplies with plastic wrappers would be deemed verboten by fair authorities and taken away from me, and while  I had no doubt I could find a 100% organic cotton reusable menstrual item at the fair, I just couldn’t face the possibility.  I jammed essential into a silver quilted fanny pack that matched my (plastic) water bottle and Mr. Coffee brand warm drink cup. Do I know how to fit in or what?

Day one started out just like any sort of terrorist cell operation would. A woman I had never met would pick me up on her way back from Portland and deposit me in a cabin in the woods where I would be met by yet another woman I had never met with whom I would drive to the fair on Friday morning.

Jesse Mae and her son Liam arrived at 4pm on Thursday to pick me up and deposit me at Juliana’s camp.

(For Non-Mainers: A camp is a rustic house usually near a lake or the river whereas a cabin is even more rustic, perhaps in the woods and perhaps without amenities like indoor plumbing and a cottage is a more elaborate house more likely near the coast.)

We had a bit of a visit and she kindly drove me to go get water once I realized that the water there was not potable and she realized that I panicked easily.

And then I waited, alone in the woods near a lake, in the dark, waiting for all the bears, axe murders and carnivorous pigmen to descend upon me. I was also waiting for Jill, I didn’t have her number, I wasn’t sure what time she would show up so I settled in booted up a movie on my kindle and made dinner.

I made one of my favorite alone dinners pasta with garlic and greens with a fried egg, I tried to relax but since I am not generally a very relaxed person I anxiously awaited the sound of Jill’s car, or the car belonging to the people who were coming to murder me, whichever got there first.

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That’s when Jill called saying she would see me in the morning, she was out with friends, I assured her I would be fine, I’d lock the door, then she told me that the door didn’t lock.

I drank two glasses of wine. Ignoring ALL THE SOUNDS outside that were probably acorns but possibly pigmen I went to bed. There I proceeded to toss and turn and cramp and bleed and panic and weave in and out of a fitful sleep laced with overtones of the Harry Potter audio book that I thought would lull me gently in to the arms or Morpheus (which it did not). At 3am the rain started, now I had some thing else to worry about.

I got out of bed an 5:15, showered-ish made coffee, ate a granola bar and waited for Jill. Once she arrived the 3 day taco adventure would truly begin. I was basically in a fugue state, half asleep, my faulty uterus was leaching all my energy and the last thing I  wanted to be was the whiny JAP amoungst the happy hippies. I just wanted to go home, and sleep but I couldn’t I wasn’t that kind of person, I made a commitment so I  soldiered on.

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check out these sexy kicks

 

 

Friday — it rained, a lot, I found that I had the time to visit the port a potty about 15 times throughout the day to take care of my lady business. What joy! Despite the rain there were still quite a few attendees and  while rolling tacos I started compiling a list of all the allergies and food sensitivities that the fairgoers  shared with the ladies at the front.

Topping the list was everybody’s favorite the Gluten Allergy whether real or imagined,  diagnosed or not the big bad gluten was a big bad issue. Tic Tac Tacos were 100% gluten free, it said so on all of the menus and signs. But the anti-gluteneers could not be too careful and made sure to ask, sometimes twice just to make sure not a molecule of gluten passed their lips. I know its a real thing, I understand that so many people have issues with it, I just don’t understand why it all has to be so aggressive.

Lactose allergies maintained a close second with vegans and vegetarians. The rest of the list was more specific:

  • onions but not garlic
  • garlic but not onions
  • seeds but not nuts
  • nuts but not seeds
  • pine nuts ( who doesn’t make their tacos with pine nuts?)
  • tomatoes
  • vinegar
  • limes but not lemons
  • pepper
  • garlic
  • spices
  • sugar
  • salt
  • corn
  • wheat  (separate from gluten)
  • goat cheese

I’ve worked in hospitality long enough that none of this was a surprise, but it doesn’t make me wonder if I am ignoring some important food sensitivities that I may have. Maybe I’m allergic to oats or black berries or pineapple or cumin am I so out of touch with the subtleties of my body that I don’t realize that I am allergic to possibly everything? I can’t over do it with the lactose but what adult human can?

It all seems so exhausting to me.

Friday night Christian arrived at the cabin, we had a rustic dinner of kielbasa and beans and I fell asleep while he was telling me a story. I’d like to report that I sleep through the night and woke up refreshed but, alas, that did not happen. I could not stay asleep and ended up on the very slim, hard couch staring at the ceiling until the alarm went off at 5:30. Showered-ish again, made coffee woke up Christian and we got in the car and drove up to Unity- google maps bringing us up the loooong way so we were late and I was anxious. I hate being late.

It was a beautiful day and there was record attendance 30,000 people at the fair that day. At least 1000 of them had tacos.

The fair was not all work, well it was about 98% work though on Saturday I got out of the taco tent for a few minutes to see the animals. I went to visit the fancy chickens, sheep, goats, horse, alpacas and pigs. Cows by the way are freaking ENOURMOUS up front, really, really huge, this one cow’s hip was at least six feet high. A little baby cow licked my fingers, it made me feel bad about loving hamburgers, but then I got over it.

On the way back to the cabin we stopped at the supermarket to get something for dinner and stuffed ourselves turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes and wine, thus insuring a full nights sleep. It was close, I only woke up twice.

On Sunday we did it all over again, google maps gave us and entirely different route option which got us there a half an hour early. We had enough time to get a breakfast sandwich at the Ridge Top diner. Eat there if you ever find your self in unity. Every single thing that came out of the kitchen looked amazing. Our breakfast sandwiches were on enourmous griddled not really bagels more like soft chewy rolls with holes, the eggs were fresh and tasted like they came from someone’s backyard chickens rather than Sysco and there were generous amounts of terrific smoky crunchy bacon.

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Terrible picture of terrific Egg Sammie

 

 

That morning I also met a Llama and her mama. It was the very best thing ever, my favorite part of the fair. I love llamas, when I was a little girl a llama ate my hat right off my head at the Central Park Zoo.  Zoos were different back them, the monkeys used to be in one  big cage and people  would toss them lit cigarettes to smoke. yes back in the 70’s even the monkeys smoked. I may have fed my hat to the llama, my grandmother knitted it and I hated it. For twenty more years she lamented the loss of the hat,  I still feel a little bit bad about it. Anyway I love llamas, I love their long eyelashes and their long necks and I wan to brush their hair, this llama leaned into me while I pet her, just like a dog or a horse I was smitten.

And all of the sudden it was over, we left a bit early Christian had to work in the morning and I was starting to get loopy. We took a turn around the fairgrounds before we left, looking for something buy. There was a lot that I wanted but nothing I needed so I ate a lamb sausage. Then we got in our little car and drove home through the beautiful country side happy to get closer to the coast, to the sea and the river and our home.

 

 

 

 

I’M BACK BITCHES.

And I have so much to say.

My temporary office job of nearly two years has finally concluded, I’ll say naught about it but that it was very much like being stuck in the doldrums if the doldrums were in fact an actual place, not to say that every day was hideous, there were some very lovely people and a terrific dog within the monotony of endless ennui but it wasn’t nurturing my soul, my spirit, my anything, each day I came home after 8 hours of accomplishing almost nothing but a (rather meager) paycheck, and that my friends ain’t no way to live.


So here I am with glorious August spread out before me, a banquet of tomatoes, corn,berries, lobsters, flowers, beans, peppers….and kissed with blue skies, thunder storms, sea breezes, fog and sand.

Ideas of what to do with the rest of my life are churning, churning, churning. Suffice to say, writing regularly is back on my proverbial table, but as for today, I’m headed back towards the sun.

Tomorrow there is a lasagna to make for a gig, beans and potatoes to prep and meat to marinate for Friday morning at my beloved MCHPP soup Kitchen.

Recipes to come, pictures to come, stories to come – I’ve 6 months to make up for and a lifetime to look ahead to, stick around I think it’s gonna be good.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOX

Inspiration, Move Me Brightly

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Details– demi baguettes wrapped in logo stamped craft paper– the evening started with a gift, an invitation to the diners from us to break bread with their fellow diners, to be part of something special, and ephemeral- a glimmer of magic for one night, for one meal, for two hours to be transported to another time, another place and fed and tended to.

Last week,  I participated  my first Pop-Up- an idea I’ve been tossing up around and over and under since I first heard pop-ups. I finally did it, and I’ll do it again. I didn’t do it alone, I had supportive partners, some great staff .

It was success, we totally pulled it off.

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Radishes washed and ready for their close up
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Cippolini onions roasted with sherry vinegar and orange for our vegetarian diner.

I don’t know that I’ve fully processed everything that went in to it, all the energy, the planning.

We banged out a 7 course meal for 2 seatings of 25. We got the early seating out and happy before the late seating arrived, (which was what everyone was worried about-except me, I had a plan and it worked). The room was pretty, the music was on point– it flowed, it jammed, it worked.

I think the food was really good, maybe I’d have liked a bit more soigne, and we could’ve refined the bouillabaisse stock a bit more but all in all I was happy with everything. AND I wish we got pictures of the Amuse- which was a gorgeous crispy fried orb of bechamel with Gryuere and toasted dulse which sat on a mussel shell with a dollop of pureed parsley.

We also did not get a picture of the Oxtail marmalade- nestled in little jars with buttered pan de miel, pickled mustard seeds and cornichons

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Plates mised for Amuse bouche & L’entree

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Le crudite- radishes butter and salt

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Le fromage– A Camembert style from Winter Hill farm in Freeport + local apples, spicy greens, maple vinaigrette and handmade oat crackers
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These were so so good.
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Le desset- lemon tart, ginger meringue, pistachio dust, grapefruit Lillet sorbet with thyme.
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The evening began and ended with a gift – Les mignardises- the last course- spiced rose truffles & salted pumpkin caramels

It felt good and it felt comfortable to be driving something forward again.

You’d think I’d need some time away from the kitchen, well,  so did I,  Friday night I threw together some kind of pasta with Brussels sprouts, we ate standing in the kitchen.

Renewed by pampering, as soon as I got back from getting my nails done on Saturday, I felt the urge. I was inspired by my day of reading.

I needed to cook, I needed to cook things I hadn’t cooked before. I had picked up 2 cookbooks at the library earlier in the day, one on Modern Israeli cooking ( not Solo’s book, they don’t have that yet, I don’t have it yet either but it is on my Amazon wish list)  and Rice Noodle Fish about eating in Japan.

The Israeli book, ok not much of a stretch, it’s the kind of stuff I cook all the time, but I found a recipe for Chicken Shwarma that surprised me, made sense and best of all, I happened to have all the ingredients in the house. So this was Saturday night’s dinner.

Chicken Shwarma

Beet Salad with Pomegranate

Israeli Salad

2 Ingredient Flat Bread

Oven Frites with NYC Street Vendor White Sauce

Tahini Sauce

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After breezing through the Isreali book, I began reading Rice Noodle Fish in earnest, I read it through from cover to cover in one day, imagining the smells and tastes and textures, the dedication required to do one thing until you are the master of that one single thing. Could I , I wondered, do that? Spend my life doing one thing until I did it better than anyone else? Probably not, I don’t have a helluva a lot of discipline, I’m not linear, I’m not very Japanese, I’m probably the opposite of everything Japan is, so much so that I am completely intimidated by Japanese cooking.

I’ll play around, I’ll make a souped up (ha!) ramen with homemade stock and I’ll totally ramenize my noodles ala Chang. I’ll tempura when I get the urge. But I’ll never be able to make real sushi– because it’s the rice man, it’s all about the rice, and I don’t have the patience. I crave real sushi, warm rice sushi, the cold rice sushi so indigenous and so mediocre it brings me to the edge of melancholy. I’ll eat it but not with much enthusiasm, same way I’ll eat one of those baby greens salad, those depressed and always slightly wilted mesclun mix greens that carry the scent of  industry. I’ll eat it  even though I know it’s a mimeograph of what it’s meant to be.

Equally intimidated by and enamoured of everything I read about Japanese food, I wanted to make Sukiyaki , but I lacked like 15 of the 20 ingredients.

I had all the ingredients though for a beef stew, and decided on Bo Kho, which is Vietnamese not Japanese, but it is sort of kind of close to Japanese- well ish. After reading pages and pages about aging and fermenting I wanted funk, and seasonality. I refined my recipe with Kim, who did my nails and eyebrows this weekend, she made me look a little less Sasquatch.  Her son cooks in a Thai restaurant, she’s saving up to open a place in Windham. I wish it was a place in Brunswick.

I ended up making this whole  Asian flavored dinner that had absolutely nothing Japanese in it.

Kung Pao Celery Salad

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Assorted dumpling that I had in the freezer (kimchi momos & TJ’s cilantro chicken wontons) with black vinegar sauce & watercress

Bo Kho

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Baguette

It it was not perfect fatty tuna belly melting on warm vinegary rice nor was it chewy noodles in rich pork broth it wasn’t even karage fried chicken with curry sauce but it was all very delicious and balanced and nuanced and everything good though not in anyway was it Japanese.

Recipes

Chicken Shwarma

  • 1 tbs garam masala
  • 1 tbs curry powder
  • 1 tbs powdered chicken soup ( I used this stuff I picked up as a joke called Cock Seasoning- you could use a ramen soup packet, or use Adobo seasoning instead, or a mashed up bouillon cube, or just some salt)
  • 2 tbs olive oil +
  • 1 grated garlic clove
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs ( you could use bone in with skin, I did- just makes more work)
  • 1 Large white onion
  1. Mix together everything but the onion and slather on the chicken
  2. Marinate over night or at least 4 hours
  3. Preheat oven to 200
  4. Cook thighs for 45 minutes
  5. Meanwhile- Saute onion slowly in a bit of olive oil, until brown and sticky- set aside
  6. Remove chicken from oven and cut into strips, about 4 -5 per thigh-THE CHICKEN THIGHS ARE NOT EDIBLE YET-DO NOT SNACK
  7. Heat a bit of neutral oil in a large saute pan
  8. Stir fry the sliced thighs until they get caramelized and a little crunchy on the ends (if you’ve ever made carnitas, its the same idea–cooking slow cooked meat over high heat till crispy but still succulent)
  9. Mix in the cooked onions

Serve with flat breads, parsley leaves and tahini sauce, or go full on and add french fries and salads, and pickles  and white sauce and hot sauce. Try these oven frites they will change you life. So will these 2 ingredient flat breads.

2 Ingredient Flat Breads

  1. Mix together equal amounts Greek yoghurt & self rising flour
  2. Let sit 1 hour
  3. Roll in golf ball size balls
  4. Roll out on floured surface
  5. Heat cast iron pan till blisteringly hot- spray with olive oil
  6. Place a flatbread in the pan, when it bubbles flip it (about 2 minutes) – cook another 30 seconds
  7. Repeat until done

(I used 1 pot of yoghurt then used the same plastic container to measure the flour- that made 6 flat breads)

NYC Street Vendor White Sauce

Whisk together the following:

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 tbs Harissa paste
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt & Pepper

Add a little water if it’s too thick- it should drizzle like salad dressing. This is terrific on almost everything you eat.

Kung Pao Celery Salad

This is my new favorite thing, it has supplanted smashed cucumbers as my go to- it is spicy and cooling and crunchy and salty and sour– it is everything and a terrific foil to anything with juicy, meaty fattiness, but also would be quite awesome with strips of cooled poached chicken breast or shrimp.

  • 4 peeled celery stalks- sliced about 1/4″ thick on a diagonal
  • 1 tsp sichuan peppercorns (toasted & smashed)
  • Salt
  • 1 tbs black vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbs neutral oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch dried chili pepper or 1/2 tsp chili oil or 1 fried chili pepper in oil chopped + some oil
  • 1/3 cup or so roasted salted peanuts (not dry roasted, unless you like them, 1 don’t)
  • chopped scallions & torn celery leaves
  1. Season celery with salt & sichuan peppercorns
  2. Whisk together vinegar, garlic & oils
  3. Pour over celery
  4. Sprinkle chilies, peanuts, celery leaves & scallion on top

My Maine Bo Kho

  • 1 pound beef stew meat- marinated 4 hours -I used local beef and it was so tender and flavorful, even though it was cut in quite small pieces and there was very little fat- this would be ridic with short ribs – adjust the initial cooking time to 2.5 -3 hours for short ribs.
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 2 star anise pods or 1 tsp powdered
  • 2″ fresh ginger, peeled- smashed not chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup white wine or Shoaxing cooking wine or sherry
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 cup beef stock
  • 4 medium size waxy potatoes cut in quarters
  • 1 large delicata squash cut into 1″ thick rings
  • 3 large carrots cut in 3″ pieces, washed peeled if necessary
  1. Burn onions- Slice onions in half and hold over flame with tongs until the face of the onion is blackened- if you have an electric oven- place cut side up as close to broiler as you can until it blackens — it should get dark but not like on fire crazy decimated cinders- just the tip, just get the tip blackened and a bit burnt- also you don’t HAVE to do this part
  2. Heat a small amount of oil in a dutch oven- I used chicken fat because I had some from the night before, you could use what ever you have, neutral oil, coconut oil anything really except bacon fat- too much flavor.
  3. Brown meat on all sides, remove and set aside
  4. Add star anise, cinnamon, ginger & garlic to the pan
  5. Stir around in the fat until you can smell the spices
  6. Raise heat a bit and add wine
  7. Deglaze the pan, getting all the brown bits (fond) mixed into the liquid
  8. Put meat back in pot , add onions, garlic
  9. Add fish sauce, stock + reserved marinade
  10. Raise heat- bring to boil
  11. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 1 hour
  12. Add carrots, potatoes, & squash
  13. Cook for another half hour or so until potatoes are tender

Serve with crusty baguette + fistful of fresh cilantro leaves & a few scallions

Marinade- marinate beef 3-4 hours, reserve marinade

  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1 white onion sliced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • fresh ground black pepper

Here’s some other stuff I cooked recently.

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Pork roast with spicy honey (or maple- can’t remember)
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Roasted pumpkin & red onion– a la Ottolenghi with tahini, parsley & toasted pine nuts
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Chicken pot pie – chicken breast , potatoes, carrots, celery, peas and onions in veloute enriched with Vella Dry Jack cheese and thyme with a buttery buckwheat crust topped with fennel pollen, lemon & smoked salt.
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I made my husband a cheese-steak, that was nothing like a Philly cheese steak but twould have to do– thinly sliced reverse seared NY Strip with pepper jack cheese sauce & caramelized red onion on a garlic rubbed baguette.

Recipes and News!

It has been a whirlwind of activity over here in Brunswick!

I am teaching four classes for the Library on Affordable Cooking, a Class on Modern Jewish Cooking at Now You’re Cooking in Bath, a class for the Beth Israel Congregation on Vegetarian Jewish Party Food, doing a fancy mocktail party for the folks at MCHPP and dun dun dun dah dah….. PLANNING MY FIRST POP-UP!!!!!! YES !

More details on that when they are fully sussed, but my friend Christine Burns-Rudalevige and I are planning some thing AMAAAAAAZING!

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In the meantime…

Here are the recipes for the class I will be teaching tomorrow night on Modern Jewish Cooking– what is that you may ask?There are probably as many interpretations of that as there are the Torah. For me it’s food that strikes a cord of remembrance without being necessarily the traditional recipe, adding some thing unexpected, or mixing Ashkenazi with Sephardic flavors.

When I was young my grandparents would bring back oranges from Israel (also from Florida), and they would talk about how amazing the orange juice was there, and I imagine the after years of Eastern European fare that the explosive bright flavors of the Middle East were as much a part of the spiritual awe as the visit to the wailing wall was.

There are Eastern European flavors that have yet to make it to many of our tables as well, I often day dream about the dishes I would make for my grandparents if they were still here, ones that would open the doors to their food memories as children.

For my Poppa Hy who was Romanian I would make him pastrami spiced smoked lamb with a bit of spicy whisky spiked sour cherry chutney, a salad of slightly pickled kohlrabi ,radishes and parsley, and a halvah cake with roasted quince.

For my Nanny Mattie- the only one born in America (though of Russian decent)  I would make for her the most perfect fried chicken, potato salad laced with caviar, an heirloom tomato salad and a raspberry tart, because she was very fancy.

For my Poppa Willy a communist from Warsaw, whose family were learned sophisticates I would make lightly fried slightly pickled trout with a horseradish cream, thick slices of schmaltz brushed garlic rubbed toasted pumpernickel bread, a salad of bitter greens and sweet onions and an apricot torte plus a glass of tea with plum jam and slivowitz.

And for Bella, my Bubbie,  I would make a stew of wild mushrooms browned in butter and thyme enriched with mushroom stock with a thick dollop of sour cream and a flurry of dill fronds, I would make her slow slow roasted eggplant drizzled in tehina and pomegranate seeds, and a dense sour rye with handmade butter and raw scallions- and I would make her my impossibly rich flour-less chocolate cake.

If they were all together I would make them this meal, which would pay no particular allegiance to any but hint at all. (And since none of them really kept Kosher I would totally use butter all those places where you see coconut oil and sour cream in place of cashews and tofu)

RECIPES from Modern Jewish Cooking Class at Now You’re Cooking

Seeded Flatbreads

  • 1 cup all purpose or bread flour
  • .25 cup rye flour
  • 2 Tbs Buckwheat flour
  • 2 tbs poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon yeast (dry active or instant)
  • .5  teaspoon kosher salt
  • .5 cup warm water (110° F for active – 120° for instant)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • .25 cup sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbs caraway seeds or nigella seeds
  1. Place flours, yeast, poppy seeds, and salt into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add water and oil and beat for 1 minute.
  3. Place dough (it will be sticky) on a floured surface and cover with a towel. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. After 10 min., preheat a cast iron skillet to med-high.
  5. Divide dough into four and shape each piece into a ball.
  6. Mix caraway seeds & sesame seeds and spread out on work surface
  7. Press each ball into the seeds on one side
  8. Roll each ball into a 6-inch circle.
  9. Cook on HOT cast iron pan brushed with olive oil
  10. Sprinkle with additional salt while hot if desired  

Creamy Horseradish Vinaigrette (Dairy Free)

  • .5 cup silken tofu
  • 1 .5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish or  grated fresh horseradish
  • .25 cup water
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped dill & chives
  1. Place tofu, vinegar, horseradish, garlic, shallots and ½ herbs in food processor
  2. Blend until pureed
  3. While processor is running , add water, followed by oil
  4. Season to taste with salt & pepper
  5. Stir in remaining herbs

Smoked Trout, Beet & Apple Salad

  • 2 filet smoked trout
  • 6 small steamed beets, peeled & steamed
  • 1 tart  apple
  • 1 sweet apple (like a honey crisp or ginger-gold)
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • juice & zest of 1 lemon
  • dill fronds to garnish
  1. Squeeze half a lemon over shallot and let sit
  2. Skin trout and break in to bite size pieces , reserve skin for optional garnish
  3. Dice beets into cubes
  4. Peel apple and dice into cubes (same size as beets)
  5. Toss apples & beets with 1 tablespoon of Horseradish dressing
  6. Spoon a small amount of dressing in to the center of a plate
  7. Arrange beet and apple cubes + shallots over top
  8. Lay trout bits on top of that
  9. Scatter crisped trout skin & dill fronds over top

* Trout “Grebenes”

  1. Heat oven to 400
  2. Lay trout skins flat on a lightly oiled sheet pan
  3. Bake until crisp (@ 10 minutes)  

Charmoula Cornish Hen Stuffed with Ptitim & Quince

4 Cornish Game Hens

Marinade:

Charmoula

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/3 cup (15g) coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup (15g) coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1/3 cup mint
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon or so  Orange Juice
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons (90 to 125ml) olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon harissa

Preheat oven to 450

  1. Place Hens in a large zip lock bag and pour 3 /4s of the marinade over then- squish and squeeze until each hen in completely covered- marinate 8- 24 hours
  2. Remove from marinade, pat dry
  3. Season inside with salt & pepper
  4. Stuff as much Cous Cous in as you can
  5. Sew shut or truss
  6. Arrange on a rack over a roasting pan, brush with olive oil
  7. Roast 30 minutes, reduce to 350- roast an additional 10-15 minutes until thigh meat registers 170
  8. Drizzle with reserved Charmoula

 

Spiced Ptitim with Quince & Hazelnuts

  • 2 Cups  Ptitim aka Isreali Cous Cous,
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1 pinch saffron (optional) in 1 tbs hot water
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon dried rose petals (optional)
  • 1.5 cup diced poach quince
  • 1 preserved lemon, cored minced or 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 Tbls olive oil
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 Teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
  • .25 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts
  1. Heat oil in bottom of a pan
  2. Add cinnamon stick & cardamom pods
  3. Heat until fragrant
  4. Add water, saffron, a few pinches of salt & rose petal
  5. Bring to a boil
  6. Add couscous bring to a boil
  7. Lower heat cover and simmer until all the water has been absorbed
  8. Whisk together lemon juice, thyme leaves, lemon zest & olive oil
  9. Pour over hot cous-cous mix to combine
  10. Gently fold in cubed Quince
  11. Serve warm or at Room temperature

Poached Quince

  • 4 quince
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 strips orange zest
  • 5-6 black peppercorns
  • cinnamon stick
  1. Peel, quarter, and core each quince.
  2. Put the quinces, honey, and lemon zest in a 3-quart saucepan.
  3. Add enough water to cover the quinces by 1 inch (about 1-1/2 quarts).
  4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  5. Put a plate or a lid that’s smaller than the saucepan on the quinces to submerge them.
  6. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the quinces are tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes.
  7. Let them cool in the cooking liquid.

Butternut Squash, Red Carrot & Red Onion

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled & cubed
  • 6 large red carrots, washed well, peeled only if not organic
  • 2 red onions quartered
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  1. Heat oven to 450
  2. Place sheet pan in oven – 10 minutes until a drop of water beads on the surface
  3. Toss vegetables in salt, pepper & sumac
  4. Carefully remove sheet pan from oven
  5. Pour vegetables and arrange in a single layer
  6. Roast 30 minutes until soft and caramelized, stir every so often, keep an eye on the squash it will cook faster than the onions
  7. Arrange vegetables on a platter, drizzle tehina sauce over top, scatter herbs and nuts if using.

Tehina Sauce

  • ¼ cup tehina
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • chopped mint or parsley to garnish
  • toasted sesame seeds or pine nuts (optional)
  1. Whisk together tehina, lemon juice & water
  2. Add garlic
  3. Whisk in olive oil until it is the consistency of honey  

Caramelized Pear Blintzes with Cashew Sour Cream

Blintz-

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1-1/4 cup cashew milk or water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-1/4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  1. Put everything in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Transfer to a bowl with a spout, cover and refrigerate for an hour.
  3. Heat a pan with coconut butter
  4. Pour enough batter into the center of the pan to cover about 1/3 of its surface area then quickly pick it up and use a swirling motion to cover the rest of the pan.
  5. Let this cook until the edges start turning brown and grab an edge with a flat spatula then use your fingers to lift the edge and get the rest of the spatula under the crêpe and flip it.
  6. Cook for about another 30 seconds or until you see some brown spots when you peak under the crêpe.
  7. Transfer to stack ,stack them on top of each other with a paper towel between each one

From Crepe to Blintz

  1. Place 1 1/2 tbs of caramelized pear in off center, closer to left hand side
  2. Fold bottom up mid way to filling
  3. Fold top down
  4. Fold left side and roll towards right side

Repeat until complete , you can freeze if you like for later use

To serve

  1. Heat knob of coconut oil in pan
  2. Lay blintz seam side down
  3. Cook until edges start to brow the flip
  4. Allow other side to brown
  5. Remove to warm plate
  6. Repeat

Serve with dollop of Cashew Cream and a scattering of maple cashews

Caramelized pears

  • 5 almost ripe pears, peeled, cored and diced
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 vanilla bean scraped
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil
  1. Heat coconut oil in pan
  2. Add pears & vanilla
  3. Stir to combine
  4. Add sugar and salt
  5. Saute over low heat, until fragrant and soft
  6. Let cool slightly

Cashew sour cream

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  1. Soak 20 minutes
  2. Blitz in blender till creamy and smooth

  

 

The Week That Was…..#showyourgold

us with 6-8

The week that was so many things all at once. The week that was clarifying and encouraging and enlightening and hilarious and exhausting and rambunctious and fun.

Because, on occasion, lady luck turns her smiling face towards me I got to spend my week at Camp Sunshine with a terrific group of people. I don’t know that I have laughed so much and so often in such a short amount of time, especially when stone cold sober. To find yourself so bonded with a group of absolute strangers, especially as an adult is rarer than rare- I landed in the albino panda bear triplets level of rare with my fellow members of Culinary Corps.

Here we are first night- all excited and trying to remember everyone’s name – I kept getting Margot and Chanel confused because, French.

 

ottopic

After  Pizza, Cornhole (no, dirty mind, its a game…with bean bags…that you throw) a bottle of wine, a few beers and some shared secrets we were a team.

The next morning when we got in the van “Taking it to the Streets” started playing. For 4 years I did Street Theatre every summer weekend,  and that song signaled that it was time to get my shit together because in just minutes it’s curtain’s up and SHOW TIME. The next song was Sugar Magnolia, my wedding march,  clearly the music karma was right in the right place.

camp

By 10:30 we were on campus and the adventure had begun.

It was less rural than my camp,  Camp Betsey Cox,  was but then again so are some parts of the Appalachian trail. It was pretty much what I expected as far as landscaping and housing and that kind thing, it was like fancy camp, the kind with A/C,  and of course, the requisite tether ball.

We met the kids and their families the first night during an event we sponsored call Test Your Taste Buds- we had a collection of “exotic” ingredients that we were using throughout the week for them to taste.

I had balsamic vinegar….most people got it.

The kids were; well what can I say – they were kids. The teenagers looked like they’d rather be anywhere but where they were, the 3-5’s were berserk with excitement to be up late and at camp and surrounded by all these people, 6-8’s & 9-12’s were in various stages of over stimulation and interest. And as I interacted with every person on the line, I stopped being scared because there was nothing left to be afraid of.

There were highs and lows throughout the week, though many more highs than lows. I fell madly in love with a 3 year old named Robbie- a fabulous little Ukrainian boy, a bear cub of a boy- maybe it was our shared blood that did it- there were three Eastern European women there and we bonded, our souls akin- –  born of the dark forests filled with mushrooms, souls that pick flowers and berries, Matrushka souls with layers upon layers- not to mention each and every one of us probably was dressed in velvet vests and flowered skirts by our grandmas when we were young.

One of the women had a daughter named Anna- who was terrifically articulate for someone so tiny and young, she was 4 or 5. Anna’s talent show performance will stay with me forever. She did not just get up on stage, that child took the stage, she had that thing that makes you stop talking and watch and listen. She began her performance with a bit of a sassy sermon…during which she told us all that when we were afraid God was looking out for us, and that if we died it was ok, not to be scared, we’d be ok because we’d go to God. Then she sang a hymn and encouraged us all to join. I wish I knew the words.

It was chilling- and not just because I tend to teeter strongly towards atheism and then totter over to agnosticism …but because she was so aware of her own mortality

It wasn’t just Anna,  for everyone at that camp, mortality was an  in-your-face reality not just a concept of a thing you realized when you almost got in an accident, not in a whew almost got me sort of way… but it is a constant presence in their lives. Some of these kids were sick, really fucking sick and the ones that weren’t had siblings that were, and the parents, the parents, are facing the real possibility of losing their child.

After Anna’s song, after watching Kayden dance his little butt off to the Nae Nae song, watching Shayla hula hoop, and Robbie stomp around to Let It Go – I broke- I needed a time out. I cried in the walk-in for a few, then got back in the kitchen to take care of business. TCB, baby, TCB.

The rest of the week- we all worked our butts off to entertain and educate. In the evenings we had the chance to sit with a family and learn about them and their experience. I’ve had a look into the cancer experience with my Dad. I knew how one day everything’s fine then there’s a bump, a pain, a cough that won’t go away and the next day it’s 7 days a week 24 hours a day CANCER.

For some of these families there were/are treatments every single day for a year, weekly overnights in the hospital for another year and it keeps going until and if, you are one of the lucky ones and 8 years pass with no more cancer and after that you start with a clean slate, just the same risks as the rest of us- maybe.

There were children there with cancers that no one has even studied yet. Children in wheel chairs, with therapy dogs, with thinning hair and poor motor skills and it didn’t matter at Camp Sunshine- they didn’t have to be special just because they had cancer- they could be special because they were Jack or Jaxson or Salem or Finn- they could just be kids, they could be individuals. Their siblings could be special too because they were Willow or Noah or Jesu or Hudson, not just the kids who’s brother or sister was sick and they could be loud and they could be rowdy and they could be the center of attention if they wanted to. And the families could just hang out and do stuff like families do.

us with 6-8

 

And the volunteers…those warm, wonderful people, they all smiled, like all the time and they weren’t Disney smiles- they were real, they were the kind of smile that you don’t even notice is on your face. Whether they were holding a baby or scraping off trays in the dining hall they were smiling and kind, so very , very kind.

The air in that camp was filled with joy and light despite the 3 days of rain, and being a part of that was indescribable. The team I was with was incomparable…and the nightly visits to the fork were perfect, after all  camp isn’t camp without a nighttime sneak through the woods to giggle and misbehave.

I learned a few things too.

I learned that I can be a part of team, that children and I get along just fine, and that I tend to over pack, but that that’s always not bad thing because sometimes you need to have a bathrobe picnic of snacks and sometimes someone needs an extra blanket because one didn’t fit in her garbage bag (wink).

I learned that I am definitely a crier but I can make friends fast and that I miss the camaraderie of a group. I learned that I can function without much sleep though I tend to get punchy and rowdy, that I should never again be photographed in an oversize white coat with my hair up, that being covered in jello really isn’t that bad except for the flies, one of which may have just stayed with me for the next 2 days.

And I learned that yes I did miss my husband and my kitties and Pudgie but we were all were just fine without each other for a few days, and no one starved to death or lived on hot dogs wrapped in pizza.

Thank you to Camp Sunshine.

Thank you Christine and Aimee. Thank You Shin and Matt and Jeremy and Chanel and Margot and Lauren and Janice and even you, Perri, my meshuganah maidela.

AND SO MANY HUMONGOUS TREMENDOUS THANK YOUS TO EVERYONE WHO DONATED AND HELPED ME  TO GET TO CAMP SUNSHINE…..

thank you

 #SHOWYOURGOLD #FUCKCANCER #CHILDHOODCANCERAWARENESS

CCSHOWGOLD

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