Posts from November 2011

Day Old Bread Makes for Tasty Panzanella, Recipe from Cucina Povera

Dry, day old bread can be used in many ways including bread soup or 'pain perdu' (the real French Toast).

In Cucina Povera: Tuscan Peasant Cooking (Andrews McMeel Publishing -September 13, 2011), Pamela Sheldon Johns offers another option, Panzanella.

Panzanella, Bread Salad

Panzanella is one of several classic recipes using dry or day-old bread. Many American versions use croutons, but the authentic version is made with a dry bread that is soaked in water to reconstitute it, then is mixed with tomato, cucumber, basil, and onion, and dressed with olive oil and vinegar. In hard times, it was often made with just bread and onion, but today you may see such additions as tuna, green beans, bell peppers, anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, and capers.

1 pound day-old country-style bread, cut into several pieces
2 large ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs basil for garnish

Panzanella (2)

Crumble the bread in a large bowl and add water to cover. Let soak for 15 minutes. Squeeze the bread with your hands and discard the soaking water. Place the bread in a medium bowl with the tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic and vinegar. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt
and pepper to taste.

Toss the dressing with the bread mixture, then garnish with basil sprigs and serve at once.

Serves 6

I previously shared Pamela's Gnudi, Spinach and Ricotta recipe.

(* Recipe from Cucina Povera: Tuscan Peasant Cooking by Pamela Sheldon Johns/Andrews McMeel Publishing, September 2011, all rights reserved)

Vienna, Zurich, Auckland, World's Top 3 Cities in Mercer 2011 Quality of Living Survey

Taking a quick glance at Mercer 2011 Quality of Living Survey first thing I noted is that top 3 cities in their world rankings are Vienna, Zurich and Auckland followed by Munich (4th) and Dusseldorf and Vancouver tied for 5th place.

In the Americas, the only U.S city to make it in top 30 is Honolulu at number 29. Four other cities in Americas Top 5 are in Canada.

With upheavals in the Middle East, student protests in Chile and general discontent in Greece, Mercer chose personal safety as its special topic for 2011.

Amongst 221 cities surveyed, Mercer report finds Baghdad coming last both for quality of life and personal safety.

Food might have been one of the reasons that Vienna won top spot.


Places like Bistro Glacis (pictured above) which Discover Austria describes as "a wee bit hard to find, located atop the old city walls of Vienna. With its romantic garden, it is a popular watering hole for a widely diverse crowd."

They serve local fare like Panfried blackpudding, served with steamed cabbage and
boiled potatoes.

Check their Standard Menu for more details.

Vienna is also one of these rare cities with wineries at its door steps.

(* Photo of Bistro Glacis garden from restaurant's photo gallery)

12 Chances to Experience 'Jeune Cuisine' from Geneva to Sydney, Omnivore World Tour 2012

French culinary adventurers Omnivore pull all the stops in 2012 and take their 'jeune cuisine' (young cuisine) to 12 cities with their just announced Omnivore World Tour 2012.


Opening date is Geneva from February 5th to February 7th during salon Sirha Geneve.

Road trip ends in Sydney (December 15-17).

Amongst the other cities visited are Shanghai (June 12-14), Sao Paulo and Istanbul (details not finalized).

Omnivore will make its 4th visit to New York for Bastille Day (July 14-16)

They will plant their tent for the first time in San Francisco (October 20-22).

With this global trek, one regret, Omnivore World Tour 2012 details are currently available only in French, unless I missed the English version.

(* Links to Omnivore and Omnivore World Tour 2012 are to French language pages)

Golden Age of American Rock Posters 1965-71 Exhibit, Kogart Galeria, Budapest, Til December 31

Music related art exhibits happen in many cities besides New York and London.

One such event is currently hosted by Kogart Galeria in Budapest.

I was not familiar until today with this place self-described as 'The home of art and gastronomy', nice blend in my book.

Exhibit is titled FROM SAN FRANCISCO TO WOODSTOCK – The Golden Age of American Rock Posters 1965-1971 and runs until December 31, 2011.


What's on the program?

"The exhibit presents the relics of a special period in the 20th-century history of culture, concentrating on the psychedelic rock posters of the San Francisco Bay Area, from between 1965 and 1971.

The period in question was a particularly intensive phase in, as well as the closure of, a time of ferment, and influenced popular culture and the lifestyle of generations worldwide to an extent that can hardly be overestimated. The posters are of interest not only on account of the musical events and participants they advertise, but also because they have value as works of visual art, which have surprising and particular links to the Central European traditions. The display also features other historical objects from that period, such as original record sleeves, manuscripts and instruments."

Have dinner at the Kogart restaurant afterwards for a rock the bourgeois day.

Indian Tiger's Eye Walking Cane, Old Sheffield Plate Bread Basket, Objects of Vertu Auction, Dec. 7

Why should we limit our holiday gift shopping to big box or local stores?

Even if you are not a collector, auctions are a good avenue for less pedestrian choices.

The Fine Silver & Objects of Vertu auction presented by Dreweatts 1759 at 11:00 AM on December 7, 2011 (at Donnington Priory in the UK) lists offbeat objects amongst them an Indian tiger's eye walking cane (lot 112, late 19th-eraly 20th century, £100 -150 ) and an Art deco lapis lazuli box (lot 113, £400 -600) in the Objects of Vertu.


For your house parties, An Old Sheffield plate oval bread basket (circa 1795, lot 2, £200 -300) will add that little je ne sais quoi to dinner.

If you cannot be present in person at the auction, bid online.

Download the Full Catalogue and draft your list.

(* Images of lot 112 and lot 2 from Dreweatts auction catalogue)

Chauffeured New York Car Service with a Low Emission Mission, OZO car

In New York area, green minded business types, airport bound travelers and revellers who don't want to drive while tipsy have an option available beyond plain vanilla limousine service.

A company called OZO car serves the tri-state area offers chauffeured service with an all hybrid fleet described below.

"Our Prius, Toyota Camry and Lexus clean machines use 70% less fuel than conventional Lincoln Towncars and emit 90% fewer carbon forming emissions. Chic, curvy and cool, they whisper eco, not ego, status."

The weak point in their car line up is the Lexus RX 400h which averages only 23 miles per gallon (city driving).

Ozo car
Animal lovers will be happy to learn that OZO car takes pets for a ride as long as they are 25 pounds and under.

Greener wheels for Green Day # 203

Previously: Eat A Free Range Turkey, Adopt an Industrial Farm Turkey this Thanksgiving

( * Illustration from OZO car web pages)

Chocolate Myths Are Put to Rest in Cooking with Chocolate

The Theory section of Cooking with Chocolate (Flammarion, Fall 2011) edited by Frederic Bau offers great insight into the world of chocolate starting with secrets of a quality chocolate (the idea of terroir in chocolate is barely 20 years old).

It then explores the road from bean to bar and the importance of tasting and tasting sessions as done with wine. Guidelines on storing chocolate follow.

From the same section, Chocolate Myths: True or False reprinted below gives us a chance to test our knowledge.


Chocolate myths: true or false?

The quality depends on the cocoa percentage
False >> The percentage indicates the proportion of cocoa (paste and butter) in the bar, but gives no indication of the country of origin, the quality of the cocoa, or the expertise of the master chocolate

The higher the percentage of cocoa, the more bitter the chocolate
False >> When 70 percent cocoa is shown on the label of a bar, the remaining percentage indicates the sugar. One might think that the more cocoa there is, the less sugar. However, the cocoa itself varies
greatly in taste. Some beans produce a mellower, sweeter chocolate than others. Consequently, there are some 80 percent cocoa chocolates that are quite inedible, and some 85 percent cocoa chocolates
that are powerful and aromatic without being bitter.

Cocoa butter* is added to chocolate
True >> The cocoa butter added at the end of the manufacturing process forms a film of lipids that gives chocolate its unctuousness and facilitates the work of artisan chocolate makers. On average, about 10 percent cocoa butter is added to the chocolate paste, but the overall proportion of cocoa butter is considerably higher as it is already present in the chocolate paste.

White chocolate contains no chocolate paste
True >> To make white chocolate, only cocoa butter, sugar, and powdered milk are required. These components explain the absence of chocolate pigmentation and the sweetness of white chocolate,
which contains only 20 to 30 percent cocoa butter in addition to 55 percent sugar.

Soy lecithin is a useless, low-grade additive
False >> It is an emulsifier* that binds the cocoa butter, the cocoa paste, and the sugar, just as egg yolk binds the ingredients in mayonnaise.
There is very little lecithin in chocolate—less than 1 percent—and it is known to be a very healthy product.

Couverture chocolate* is good-quality chocolate
True and false! >> It is the basis for all the chocolates bought by professionals. It is called “couverture” (from the French verb couvrir, to cover) because it is used to coat chocolate bonbons and to make
molds. There is only one difference, and that is in its presentation form: couverture chocolate may be sold in large chips or buttons, or in bars.

A chocolate that has whitened should be thrown out
False >> Whitening, or streaking, is a change in the appearance of the chocolate that has very little influence on the taste. It is a reaction due to inappropriate storage conditions or inadequate tempering*, but it is not toxic. Chocolate that has whitened is edible.

Chocolate can be tempered at home
True >> Equipped with a kitchen thermometer† and patience, you can of course temper chocolate in your own kitchen. This book is here to help you (see p. 20)!

Manual tempering with a tempering stone is a guarantee of good chocolate
False >> This tempering technique, which usually springs to mind when one thinks of the artisan chocolatier, is not necessarily a guarantee of quality. The temperature curve is respected just as well, if
not better, in an electronic tempering machine. And, in fact, most of today’s artisans use such a machine.

I previously shared Homemade Chocolate Spread recipe from Cooking with Chocolate).

(* Excerpted from 'Cooking with Chocolate, Essential Recipes and Techniques' edited by Frederic Blau-Photographs by Clay McLaghlan- Flammarion- English Edition, October 2011- All rights reserved...Illustration is of Chocolate Chantilly Mousse described on page 113 under 'Techniques')


Laurenzo's to Art Basel, 5 Hot Spots to Sample Miami Food Trucks, December 2

If you'd rather follow food trucks than people on Twitter, Food Truck Friday is a way to check newcomers and catch up with old favorites.

From St. Louis to New York many U.S cities celebrate local flavors.

In Miami, the Food Truck Mania is making a big splash during Art Basel as I saw reported first by Laine Doss in Art Basel Food Guide: Food Trucks (Miami New Times, November 28) which offers a detailed day by day program.

The local scene has its own dedicated site Miami Food Trucks. Their calendar makes you realize that no less than 5 hot spots are offering their version of Food Truck Fridays.

You can start the day at 9:30 AM at Bayfront Park with Divan Bakery & Coffee (9:30AM – 3PM) followed by The Fish Box 11:45AM – 2:30PM.

Next stop could be Miami Food Trucks at Wynwood Art Walk opening at 10:30 AM (closing at midnight) with an extended line up of 20 something trucks. This specific location will welcome food trucks in changing line ups from Thursday, December 1 to Sunday, December 4, 2011. Aphrodisiac Ice Cream will be there only Saturday and Sunday. They could use a little more subtlety in their image. I guess it fits the beach scene.

I would rather pay a visit to 90 Miles To Go described as 'authentic Cuban food'.

I am trying to figure out if Food Truck Fridays @Adrienne Arsht Center is the same event as Miami Food Trucks at Wynwood Art Walk.

If trendsetters and artsy digs are not your digs, you might feel more at ease at Laurenzo’s Italian Market in North Miami Beach, line up should include Fireman Derek’s Key Lime Pies (hot?). Opening hours are 5 PM to 10 PM.

Last stop is Food Truck Fridays at Palmetto Bay opened from 5:30 PM to 10 PM, included is soft touch of Catered Bliss.

Some of the lineups for these events around Miami were published a while back so changes will surely have been made since then.

I have to thank my friend Giselle, proud mother of Sugar Yummy Mama food truck for keeping me in the loop on this Friday full of food.

Life's a beach for Food Truck fans in Miami on December 2.

Finnish Knife Puukko and People's Supermarket Get Exposed by Liz and Max Photos

I was introduced to Liz and Max Haarala Hamilton's work via A food adventure in Detroit (Guardian, November 23) which showcases their contribution to second issue of Boat Magazine on 'Detroit'.

The Guardian piece made me want to find out more about this husband and wife photography duo.

Having spent many hours with my grandfather in his carpenter's shed, I tend to be attracted to craftmen's work.

Lisa and Max document skilled and unique craft with their photo report on Puukko, the traditional Finnish knife.


You see a knife created under your eyes from foundry to being tested on chopping block.

In the age of food co-ops, locavores, natural foods, another one of their subject-client, The People's Supermarket in London, spoke to me.

People fridge

This stand alone store offers food made by real people served and sold by real people.

People's Supermarket is owned by its customers-members who can volunteer at the store they have a stake in.

Thanks Liz and Max for taking us for a visit to these 2 unique places in the food galaxy.

(Photos by Liz & Max Haarala Hamilton, reproduced with permission of ther authors, all rights reserved)

Hangover Tofu Omelet, Post Holiday Recipe from Tipsy Vegan Cookbook

After a 4 day holiday week-end, a light start on Monday is in order.

I showed the Rabelaisian side of The Tipsy Vegan (Da Capo, Lifelong Press, November 2011) by John Schlimm with his Chugging Pumpkin Soup recipe.

I follow it with the healing side of this cookbook.

The Hangover Tofu Omelet with Sautéed Chopped Bell Pepper Filling

Following an unbridled marathon of revelry and laughter, your weekend guests will be happily red-eyed with gratitude when you spring this masterpiece of an omelet on them at the brunch table. and if you haven’t yet discovered nutritional yeast, get ready to fall in love. Not to be confused with baking yeast or brewer’s yeast, this humble flake imparts a deliciously cheesy, nutty flavor.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
6 ounces extra-firm silken tofu, cubed and pressed to
remove excess water (see instructions on page 31)
1 tablespoon soy milk or other nondairy milk
1 tablespoon marsala
1 tablespoon powdered nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon tahini
1 to 2 pinches onion powder
1 to 2 pinches garlic powder
1⁄8 teaspoon turmeric
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pinch smoked paprika

Bell Peppers (2)

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the bell pepper and sauté until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.

In a blender, combine the tofu, soy milk, Marsala, yeast, cornstarch, tahini, onion and garlic powders, turmeric, salt, pepper, and paprika. Blend until smooth.

In another large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, place the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil slides easily across the skillet when tilted, pour in the omelet batter and smooth the top with a spatula. Scatter the cooked bell pepper over the surface and reduce the heat to low.
Cover the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes, checking every 30 seconds to see if it’s ready to fold. When the edges have dried, lift a section to see if the omelet is set. It should be golden, but not brown. Loosen the omelet by sliding the spatula underneath it, then fold the omelet in half.

Cook for another minute, then slide the omelet onto a warm plate

(*From the book The Tipsy Vegan, by John Schlimm.  Reprinted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2011.)