Posts from June 2011

Solar Cooking, Way to Go to Green your 4th of July Cookout?

How many of us have considered going the solar way to green our 4th of July Cookout?

DIY enthusiasts might not have enough time on their hands to build their solar oven before the week-end.

A good place to start and collect information is Solar Cookers International which documents efforts in that field the world over.

Many initiatives take place in developping countries.

Outdoors enthusiasts can start with a Camper's Kit like the one (pictured above) featured on Marketplace of Solar Cookers International.

Four solaire has come a long way since Font-Romeu

Baking in the sun on 4th of July for Green Day # 183

Previously: From Juicy to Industry, Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook Tells It All

Meet Hawksmoor Heiffer, See Where Your Seven Dials or Spitalfields Steak Comes From

Let's face it, there is a good head of cattle behind a good steak.

Self titled British steakhouse and cocktail bar Hawksmoor invites you to see where your Seven Dials or Spitalfields steak comes from with video below.

Mapping the beef!

Simple Cakes, True Flavors, Lime Meringue Tart Recipe from Miette, The Cookbook

Who said good esthetics had to be complicated.

Simple cakes, true flavors is the motto of Meg Ray owner of famed Northern California bakery Miette with locations in San Francisco and Oakland.

Thanks to the just published Miette (Chronicle Books, June 22) you can now try your hand at her signature creations, the Princess Cake, Tomboy and Bumblebee and 72 other recipes.

Guys should not let the scalloped page edges and feminine touch in book design keep them away from these treats.

Until I have a chance to interview the very busy Meg Ray, I will share a couple of recipes from Miette starting with the summery Lime Meringue Tart or Tartlettes (details on Boiled Icing and Graham Cracker Crust follow main recipe).

Lime Meringue Tart

This tart started with the combined desire to reinvent the refreshing flavor of Key lime pie and to find another use for our glorious Boiled Icing. Adding these to our homemade graham crust, the result was far from traditional and, in fact, represents the most innovative flavor combination at Miette.

Unlike traditional graham cracker crusts, which are made with cookie crumbs, the crust for this tart is made using the dough and baked off like a regular tart shell. You can make the lime curd and graham shells separately up to 2 or 3 days ahead, but make the boiled icing and fill the tart the day you will serve it. You will need a small blowtorch to caramelize the top of the meringue as we do at the bakery.

The recipe yields about 2 cups of lime curd, and you will use about 1 cup in a 7-inch tart or around 2 cups for 10 tartlets. Any leftover filling can be covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator for a week, or frozen for up 2 months.

Makes one 7-inch tart

One 7-inch tart shell made with dough from Graham Crackers

Lime Cream:

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons grated lime zest

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4 1/2 ounces) sugar

3 large eggs

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed

About 1 cup Boiled Icing

Lime_Meringue_Tart_6C-1 (2)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the Graham Crackers dough and line a 7-inch tart pan. Fully pre bake the shell, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely.

To make the Lime Cream: In the top bowl of a double boiler or bain-marie, whisk together the lime juice, zest sugar, and eggs. Fit the top bowl into the bottom pan over gently simmering water and warm the mixture, whisking occasionally, until it registers about 172 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer or coats the back of a wooden spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the lime curd from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean container. Let cool slightly, to about 140 degrees F, about 20 minutes.

Add the butter to the curd, a few cubes at a time, and, using a whisk or an immersion blender, blend until it dissolves completely after each addition. Strain the curd again to remove any lumps of butter, then let cool to room temperature. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Spread the chilled lime curd into the cooled graham crust. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium (1/2-or 5/8-inch) round tip. Fill the bag about halfway with the icing. Pull up the cuff and twist it to seal and tighten the icing down into the cone. Purge the bag of air bubbles by squeezing the bag until there is a burst of air and icing sputters out of the bag. Pipe the icing on top of the tart, and then use the back of a spoon to press it down to meet the edges of the crust. Make a decorative swirl on top. Using a small kitchen torch, brown the surface of the icing, moving the flame in a circular motion to burn the ridges of the swirl until lightly browned. Refrigerate until well-chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours.

for Boiled Icing

My mother always made 7-minute icing, soft and fluffy and reminiscent of a big wedding dress. It is unapologetically sweet and miraculously light and smooth. This icing is technically an Italian meringue and it gets shinier and denser the longer and you whip it, so take your time. The cream of tartar helps control the crystallization of the sugar. The temperature will mount slowly and then rapidly as it approaches the end, so keep an eye on it.

This recipe makes enough for two 6-inch cakes. Leftovers do not hold in the refrigerator as they lose volume, so serve it that day if possible. Unfortunately we could not scale this recipe for less than 4 cups, so you will have extra if you make just one 6-inch cake.

Makes about 4 cups or enough to frost two 6-inch cakes

1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 cup water

3 large egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the sugar, cream of tartar, and water in a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer. Stir the sugar to dissolve and begin to heat it over medium-low. Have a heatproof measuring cup sitting nearby.

Put the egg whites and vanilla in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When the sugar reaches 240 degrees F, immediately pour it into the measuring cup to prevent it from getting hotter. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites, aiming for the side of the bowl rather than the whisk. When all the syrup is added, turn the mixer to medium-high and whisk until the icing becomes thick and holds a firm peak. Continue to whisk until the icing is just slightly warm and very thick, about 10 minutes total. Do not continue to beat, or the icing will become too thick to spread and pipe.

Use immediately on a Lime Meringue Tart, Old-Fashioned Cake, or on any other cake. Boiled icing must be used fresh and cannot be stored.

for Graham Cracker Crust

We created this graham dough for the lime meringue tart, but when we rolled it out a little thicker and punched cookie shapes, we discovered a superior version of this classic American cookie.

Graham is a type of whole-wheat flour that tends to have a coarse, uneven texture, so we don’t use it. Instead, we make our dough using regular whole-wheat flour to produce a smooth, crisp, buttery cookie, flavored with a touch of honey.

This dough might be the most versatile in the bakery. The Miette Cheesecake calls for these cookies crumbs in its crust. The Lime Meringue Tart calls for the dough to be rolled out (like a tart dough) and pressed into the pan before baking off.

You can wrap extra dough in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost at room temperature.

Makes about twenty-four 3 1/4-inch cookies, two 7-inch tarts or a dozen 3 1/2-inch tartlets

1 1/2 cups (7 ounces) all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) whole-wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Generous 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup (4 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons honey

Sift together the flours, salt, and cinnamon into a bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, brown sugar, and honey and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three additions, beating just until combined after each addition. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling, or for up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unwrap the dough and place between two sheets of waxed paper. On a clean work surface, roll out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Using a 3 1/4-inch round cookie cutter with a scalloped edge, cut out the graham crackers. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet, placing the cookies about 1/2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. They should snap crisply when cooled.

Gather up the dough scraps, reroll, and cut out to make more cookies. Bake as directed and let cool.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

(* An excerpt from Miette, recipes from San Francisco's most charming pastry shop (June 2011) by Meg Ray with Leslie Jonath, photographs by Frankie Frankeny, reproduced by permission of Chronicle Books, all rights reserved)

Corsican Rose Wine 'Abbatucci' Faustine Reaches the American Shores

From time to time I stumble upon Corsican wines that sound too good to miss, amongst them some tasty Rosé wines.

Unfortunately many of them do not reach the American shores.

I was happy to read that Kermit Lynch imports the Abbatucci Faustine Rosé by Domaine Comte Abbatucci. It is a blend of 70% Sciaccarellu, 30% Barbarossa, biodynamic too.

Faustine is one of the 3 lines offered by Domaine Abbatucci.


I have not tasted it. NY distributor IPO Wines describes it as "light in color, red fruits, bright and fresh with hints of apricots and peach."

Wine retails around $30.

To learn more about this producer read Portrait of a wine producer: Jean Charles Abbatucci, Corsica (Marion's Blog, June 2010).

I mentioned Domaine de Gioielli, another Corsican producer, in Is Corsica the Up and Coming Wine Region of 2010 (December 2009).

Looking for more wine inspiration at attractive prices, check An Eclectic Selection Of New Wines (June 16) by John Tilson for The Underground Wine Letter.

Beef Tongue Taco with Red Chili Sauce on Mitsitam Cafe Summer Menu, Washington DC

The Mitsitam Cafe at National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC let us peek at their Summer Menu in a series of photos on the Museum's Facebook Page.

Amongst the new dishes is the Beef Tongue Taco with Red Chili Sauce (below).


Richard Hetzler, the chef at Mitsitam Cafe, pointed to me in a conversation at Book Expo America that many dishes we consider as hispanic food actually have their roots in Mayan ans Aztec cultures.

This short piece reminds me that i still have to edit and publish my interview with Richard...soon.

Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch, Pour Me Their Australian Riesling

Hunting for an Australian wine does not wag their tail, here's I am sure a tastier one, Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch by Plunkett Fowles from Strathbogie Ranges area in Victoria.


I would go for their Riesling whose grapes come from a combination of the Old Riesling Block (73%) on the Whitegate vineyard and Block 13 (27%) on the Upton Run vineyard.

The Ladies Who Shoot their Lunch range also includes a Shiraz and a Wild Ferment Chardonnay.

Now I need a real taste not a virtual one.

Thanks to Robert McIntosh of Thirst for Wine for putting this label on my radar.

I See Cherries, I Think Clafoutis, Cherry Clafoutis Recipe from Plum Gorgeous

After it landed in my mailbox on Friday, I was quickly won over by the vibrant colors and seasonal flavors of Plum Gorgeous, Recipes and Memories from the Orchard (Andrews McMeel, mid-July 2011) by Romney Steele.

She offers 60 dishes from unusual salads like kumquats and toasted couscous with halloumi, head-on dishes such as grilled lime prawns with aioli wet my appetite.

The icing on the cake for me was cherry clafoutis. In the summer when i see cherries, i think clafoutis.

Here's a sneak preview of Plum Gorgeous with Cherry Clafoutis Recipe by Romney Steele.

Sweet black cherries baked in custard is a specialty of the Limousin region of France; it’s a popular no-fuss dessert served warm or cold, dusted with a little sugar. Traditionally the cherries are left whole, so that the pits imbue a little of their almond flavor. This is how I’ve always done it too, though you can surely pit them (and my daughter thinks I should); in fact most people do. Try making the clafoutis with other stone fruit like plums and peaches or, in the fall, fresh figs or dried prunes soaked first in brandy for a twist.

Serves 6 to 8

4 cups sweet cherries
1⁄2 cup turbinado or Demerara sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons kirsch
6 eggs
1 cup whole milk
2⁄3 cup crème fraîche
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons flour
Pinch salt
1⁄3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
Confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Clafoutis (2)
Wash and stem the cherries and pit if you prefer; pat dry. In a bowl, toss the cherries with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the kirsch, more or less as you like to taste. Set aside at room temperature for at least 20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Generously butter a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or earthenware dish. Scatter the cherries
in the bottom of the dish.

Combine the remaining 6 tablespoons sugar, the eggs, milk, crème fraîche, vanilla, flour, and salt in a blender. Blend to combine thoroughly; strain if necessary to remove any lumps of flour, then whisk back in by hand.

Pour the custard over the cherries. Bake the clafoutis for 35 to 40 minutes, until puffy and golden and just set in the middle. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds and dust with confectioners’ sugar, if you like, before serving.

You might know Romney Steele for her 2009 cookbook My Nepenthe named after her family's restaurant in Big Sur.

(* Cherry clafoutis recipe from 'Plum Gorgeous, Recipes and Memories from the Orchard' by Romney Steele, reproduced courtesy of Andrews McMeel Publishing, all rights reserved, Photo by Sara Remington)

Tap Your Smartphone for Taste of Chateau Mangot, Grand Cru St Emilion

Maybe I have not looked hard enough yet it seems that Smartphone Apps dedicated to wine tend to be created mostly for the i Phone and i Pad and my smartphone (since February 2011) is the HTC Inspire 4G (Android).

I was happy to see this morning that Chateau Mangot, a family owned Grand Cru Saint Emilion created a Smartphone App for both Apple and Android platforms.

Qr code

They introduce the Chateau Mangot smartphone app with these words:

Le monde du vin est d’une telle complexité, de part son coté historique et culturel qu’il effraie un grand nombre de consommateurs... Quelque peu perdu dans cet univers si mystérieux, où qu'il soit sur la planète, le consommateur cherche une information à jour, facilement accessible et ponctuellement adaptée à ses besoins.

Which translates to:

The world of wine is so complex due to its historical and cultural aspects that it scares many consumers...Somehow lost in this mysterious universe, wherever he-she happens to be on the planet, the consumer looks for up to date information, easily accessible and adapted to his-her needs"

Well put!

I just wish the winery website had a quick and direct link to App Store and Android Market.

I am not sure what languages the Apps are available in besides French. I will update this story as soon as I find out.

Thanks to Guillaume of French tech blog for bringing this to my attention.

God Save the Cream, Lick the Icecreamists Cones on Covent Garden Piazza

God save the cream!

Ice-cream agitateur, Matt O'Connor of The Icecreamists talks to Covent Garden Journal in Devilishly Good (June 13) about his life in ice-cream.


He "was a seaside boy, brought up on Planet Thanet and Morelli’s ice cream parlour on top of the cliff at Broadstairs – I had my first knickerbocker glory there."

Matt O'Connor credits the Sex Pistols and his political activism as sources of inspiration for The Icecreamists.

The Icecreamists give you licence to chill on the terrace of their Covent Garden shop. The Terrace opened on Saturday, June 25th for the summer.


An Italian feel in London!

(* God Save the Cream illustration via The Icecreamists Blog)

Jose Pizarro Takes Time Away from Jose for Rioja Tapas Fantasticas, June 25-26

Browsing through The Guardian food pages, I found out about Jose Pizarro's new venture, a Tapas bar simply named Jose at 104, Bermondsey Street in London.

In His Review on June 24, John Lancaster points out that Jose is not a restaurant masquerading as a Tapas bar. It stays closer to the Spanish model with mostly stand up crowd enjoying small plates with a glass of wine including a nice sherry selection.

Wanting to know more about Jose, I visited Jose Pizarro's page on Twitter and learned about his presence on stage (cooking, not singing) at Rioja Tapas Fantasticas 2011 on first day of festivities, June 25.


Entrance to the event is Free as long as you just want to walk around.

To sample either Tapas or Rioja wines you will have to purchase tokens.

For wine, pay 3 British Pounds and you receive a glass and 4 tokens you can redeem for 4 tastes (if I got my facts straight).

Tapas are offered by some of the best 'tapas' places in London. Jose is not one of them has they have their hands full with recent opening.

Seminars offered at Rioja Tapas Fantasticas required the purchase of a separate ticket and seem sold out.

Event takes place at Potters Field Park.

My apology for sharing this event too late for Saturday happenings.

There is still Sunday.