Posts from February 2012

Bake Cherry Slices Recipe from Sugar Sugar to Celebrate National Cherry Month

I was feeling a bit off while pondering if i should share a cherry recipe. 

I tend to associate juicy cherries with warmer months even though today temperature rose above 50.

To fend off my misgivings i did a search for Cherries in February and discovered that February is National Cherry Month thanks to Absolute Michigan. Amongst their list of cherry facts, it is noted that "Michigan is the largest producer of Montmorency tart cherries, growing 70-75% of the crop."

Here's a cherry recipe from Sugar Sugar(Andrews McMeel Publishing, Fall 2011) by the Sugar Mommas for whenever the cheery urge strikes you.

Cherry Slices
Makes about 2 dozen 2-inch square bars

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

{A treasured heirloom}


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 11 by 17-inch rimmed baking sheet (or use nonstick cooking spray). Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place the butter and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on low speed until well blended. Add the vanilla. Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, and beat until smooth. Reserve 1 cup of the batter.

Spread the remaining batter in the baking sheet. Spoon the cherry filling over the top. Drop the reserved cup of batter by teaspoonfuls over the pie filling. It should look uneven. When baked, the batter on the bottom rises and creates reservoirs of cherry filling.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the batter begins to turn golden. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into 2-inch squares.

(* From Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has a Story by Kimberly “Momma” Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero/Andrews McMeel Publishing)

Search Your Slow European Travel Options with Loco2, a Search Engine for Rail Trips

Concerned about your carbon footprint when you hop on a plane.

Take the train and you will enjoy life in a slower lane plus you will reduce your impact.

You have seen me mention rail travel site Seat 61 on a number of occasions.

They are not the only game in town when it comes to planning to travel by rail in Europe.

I just discovered Loco2 which sounds more like a good train travel planner than a booking site.

Loco2 (2)

I put their search function to the test with 2 routes.

First one was Copenhagen to Nantes (France).

Second one was Toulouse to Verona (Italy).

In each case, at least 3 options were offered to me.

Most straightforward option offered for Toulouse to Verona seemed via Lyon with a departure at 7:18 in the morning and arrival in Verona at 19:57 pm, 12 hours and 39 minutes. It involves 3 train changes, first Lyon, then Chambery, then Milano.

For 2 cross border trips I used as guinea pigs main drawback is once I got details on itinerary, neither route offered me prices or way to pay.

To conclude Loco2 is perfect to sketch your trip and organize your vacation yet until they add prices to all destinations, i will find it lacking.

Rail Europe on the other hand gave me both schedules and fares. For Copenhagen to Toulouse it came to $375 for a one way trip (leaving Copenhagen on April 17, 2012). 

Slow travel, low carbon footprint with a little hoelp from Loco2 for Green Day # 213

Previously:  Grappa Green or Olive Green, Organic Offerings from Cavalierino, Wine Too

Shrove or Mardi Gras, Venezuelan Chocolate Maple Pancakes by Paul A. Young

It suddenly dawned on me that I had failed my duty of sharing something-anything in the spirit of Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras.

Thankfully, I found just what i needed in Adventures with Chocolate (Kyle Books, 2011) by London chocolatier Paul A. Young .

Venezuelan chocolate pancakes with chocolate maple syrup

This recipe is my homage to Sunday-morning brunch, which is one of those occasions when anything goes; in other words, be as indulgent and naughty as you like because it is certainly not the time to count calories or grams of fat. Feel free to add blueberries, nuts, and sultanas if the fancy takes you. The syrup can be made days or even weeks in advance and stored in the fridge.


1 ounce Venezuelan 100% (unsweetened) dark chocolate, grated

11/3 cups buckwheat or spelt flour

1 large organic egg

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon light muscovado or brown sugar

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

unsalted butter, melted, as needed


Pinch of sea salt

Scant 1 cup pure maple syrup

31/2 ounces 70% dark chocolate, chopped


Chocolate maple pancakes (2)


Place all the pancake ingredients (except the butter) in a blender or food processor and process until a smooth, thick batter is formed. Leave the batter to rest while you make the syrup.

To make the syrup, dissolve the salt in 2 tablespoons water in a saucepan over a gentle heat, then add the maple syrup and bring to a simmer. Pour over the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and whisk well until smooth.

Heat a crêpe pan or nonstick large frying pan until quite hot and grease with butter. Spoon 1/4-cup portions of the batter into the griddle, spacing them well apart. Cook over medium heat until you see bubbles on the surface of the pancake, then carefully turn over and cook for another 1–2 minutes. Place the pancakes on a plate and cover with foil until you have cooked the entire batch.

Serve the pancakes laced with the warm syrup – be generous as the pancakes soak up a lot!

(* Recipe from Adventures with Chocolate by Paul A.Young - published by Kyle Books, 2011- all rights reserved, reproduced by permission of Kyle Books)

Grilled Beef Tongue Served for 1st Installment of Liho Liho Yacht Club Pop Up in San Francisco

What does a chef in transition between gigs or restaurant projects does?

He/ she tries new ideas and stays in the limelight with a Pop-Up eaterie of one type or another.

As Mondays are slow (or closing) nights in many establishments, it is a good day to pick for such ventures.

In San Francisco, chef Ravi Kapur decided to revisit his Hawaian roots and they infuse the menu for first installment of his Liho Liho Yacht Club pop-up on Monday, February 20, 2012.




Grilled beef tongue with shaved radish and chili is one of the savory dishes.

More details in Ravi Kapur Returns (Eater San Francisco, February 13).

Liho Liho Yacht Club pop up is hosted by Citizen's Band restaurant.

(* Image of Beef tongue prep shared by Ravi Kapur)

Black Bean Chipotle Burger, Meatless Monday Recipe from Candle 69 Cookbook

My interview with the Candle 69 team (Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda) still has to take place.

I previously shared Saffron Ravioli with Wild Mushrooms, Cashew Cheese dish from their book Candle 79 Cookbook: Modern Vegan Classics from New York’s Premier Sustainable Restaurant (Ten Speed Press, Fall 2011) by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda. 

Today, here's another recipe so you can have a Meatless Monday dinner.

Black Bean–Chipotle Burgers 

112 cups dried black beans, rinsed and picked over

1-inch piece of kombu

2 cups chopped yellow onions

1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

3 bay leaves

2 teaspoons salt

Pinch of freshly ground pepper

112 cups brown rice

3 cups water

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

6 to 8 burger rolls

1 red onion, thinly sliced (optional)

Avocado slices, for serving (optional)

Makes 6 to 8 burgers


Black Bean Chipotle Burgers image p 97 (2)


Put the beans in a saucepan or bowl and add cold water to cover by about 2 inches. Cover and soak for at least 6 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Drain and rinse.

Put the beans, kombu, onions, chipotle powder, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper in a large saucepan. Add water to cover by 3 inches and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 112 to 2 hours. Most of the liquid should be absorbed by the beans, but add a bit more water if they seem too dry. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard the kombu and bay leaves.

Meanwhile, put the rice and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and add the water. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat, stir once, cover, and simmer until all of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high 
heat. Add the pumpkin seeds, paprika, and the remaining 
1 teaspoon of salt and season with pepper. Cook the pumpkin seeds, stirring and shaking the pan, until they are lightly toasted, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Combine the rice, beans, and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl. Transfer half of the mixture to a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until smooth, adding the reserved cooking liquid from the beans as needed to keep the mixture moist enough to stick together. Return the mixture to the bowl, mix everything together, and form patties about 312 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.

To bake the burgers, preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush a baking sheet with olive oil and put the burgers on it. Brush the burgers with oil and bake until browned, 20 to 30 minutes, turning the burgers halfway through cooking. To pan-fry the burgers, coat a sauté pan with olive oil and heat the pan over medium heat. Add the burgers and cook for about 
4 minutes per side.

To grill the onion slices, lightly brush with olive oil and sauté them in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, 2 minutes per side.

Serve the burgers on toasted burger rolls with the onion slices and avocado slices, if desired.

Suggested wine pairing: LaRocca Cabernet Sauvignon, California

Farming organically in Butte and Sutter Counties for twenty-six years, LaRocca makes full-flavored wines with no added sulfites. Their Cabernet Sauvignon, at home on many a backyard picnic table, is dry and rich, with cedar and spices on the finish that pair perfectly with smoky black bean burgers.

(* Reprinted with permission from Candle 79 Cookbook: Modern Vegan Classics from New York’s Premier Sustainable Restaurant. Copyright © 2011 by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, and Jorge Pineda. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. Photo credit: Rita Maas.)

Cannelloni Del Nonno, Filled with Arugula, Spinach and Ricotta, Recipe from Pasta Italiana

Since i gave you first a taste of the sweet side of Pasta Italiana (Kyle Books USA, January 2012) with Mezzelune Dolci, let's look at savory side this time.

Cannelloni del nonno, Cannelloni filled with arugula, spinach, and ricotta cheese

A great baked pasta dish that has been in my family for over twenty years. If you prefer, you can substitute the Pecorino cheese with Parmesan.

Serves 6 to 8

Scant 3 cups strained tomatoes
15 fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
14 ounces fresh egg pasta dough, see page 19

For the filling

2 cups ricotta cheese
51/2 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed to remove the excess water
51/2 ounces arugula, chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese

For the béchamel sauce

7 tablespoons salted butter
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 quart cold whole milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


Cannelloni del nonno


1 Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2 Pour the strained tomatoes into a large bowl with the basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper, mix together, and set aside.

3 To prepare the béchamel sauce, in a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook until it turns light brown in color, 1 minute. Gradually beat in the cold milk, reduce the heat, and cook for 10 minutes, beating continuously. Once thickened, stir in the nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool slightly.

4 To prepare the filling, in a large bowl, place all the ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and use a fork to mix everything together. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator while you prepare the pasta.

5 Flatten the prepared dough with your fingers so that it can fit through the rollers of the pasta machine. Flour the pasta lightly on both sides and start to roll it from the widest setting to the thinnest. Cut it into rectangles measuring 23/4 x 6 inches—you will need 26 sheets.

6 Prepare a large pot with plenty of boiling salted water and start to cook the pasta sheets—work in batches of five. Boil the sheets for 1 minute, then remove and place immediately in a large bowl of cold water to prevent the pasta from going soggy. After 1 minute in the cold water, remove the sheets and place on a clean dish towel.

7 Place 11/2 tablespoons of filling across each pasta sheet and start to roll up the pasta from the narrow side working forward. To seal the cannelloni, overlap the pasta sheet by about 3/4 inch. Repeat until all the pasta sheets are filled.

8 Select a rectangular baking dish measuring 10 x 14 inches and pour in a third of the béchamel sauce. Spread evenly.Place half the cannelloni onto the béchamel layer with the seam facing down. Spoon over half the strained tomatoes and half the remaining béchamel sauce.

9 Build up the second layer of cannelloni and spoon over the remaining strained tomatoes. Spread over the remaining béchamel sauce. Finish by sprinkling over the Pecorino cheese and bake in the center of the oven for 35 minutes or until colored and crispy.

10 Once ready, let rest for 5 minutes out of the oven; it will be easier to cut and serve, as the layers will hold together.

(** Recipe from Pasta Italiana by Gino D'Acampo, published by Kyle Books in January 2012, photography by Kate Whitaker, all rights reserved)

No Dogs Over 20 LBS and other Rules of the Game at Zeppelin Hall and Biergarten

After an errand run, I could not resist snapping a quick picture of 11 commandments listed in window of Zeppelin Hall and Biergarten in Jersey City.

Zeppelin hall rules

Did not realize that beer drinking dogs were allowed in bars and brew pubs.

Accept my apologies for cutting the 's' off in soiled clothing and 'l' in loitering)

Eat Your Broccoli, Message from Paris Cookbook Fair 2012 Poster?

Was poster for 2012 Edition of Paris Cookbook Fair (March 7-11) inspired by May 2010 event when Champs Elysees Became a Garden for 2 days...


...Or are they just telling us to Eat our Broccoli?

Welcome to the garden of earthy delights

In the Belly of the Olive Oil Beast, Extra Virginity Talk with Tom Mueller

Having spent 5 years working on his first book, Extra Virginity (WW Norton, Fall 2011), Tom Mueller shares good sides as well as shady corners of the olive oil world.

After a bit of back and forth, Tom finally found time to answer a few questions I sent his way.

Here's my Extra Virginity talk with Tom Mueller.

Q: Tom, did your piece 'Slippery Business' for New Yorker in 2007 plant seeds for your book 'Extra Virginity'? 

Yes – I knew next to nothing about olive oil before writing that story, though I'd lived in Italy for over a decade.  I started looking into olive oil when I happened to see a video of olive farmers blockading a port in south Italy – Monopoli, to be precise – claiming that fake olive oil was being illegally imported.  This made me want to investigate further.

Q: Was there a moment, a person, something that incensed you, that motivated you to write this book?

Flavio Zaramella, terminally ill w/ cancer and raging at the inequities in the market.  And a hundred or more honest, determined olive farmers and millers, talking about how their customers sometimes called them thieves for charging an honest amount for their oil.

Q: The prologue 'essences' takes us to Mastri Oleari in Milan, can you describe what the organization stands for?

Highest quality olive oil and high ethical standards.

Q: Being around people like Flavio Zamarella at Mastri Oleari or with the De Carlos family where there times when you felt like you knew next to nothingabout olive oil?

Certainly the learning curve was steep at first and I find I never stop learning about olive oil – even 5 years on, every time I speak w/ an expert or visit a mill I learn something new.

Q: If you had to pick 3 of the worst odors/ characters of bad to worse 'olive' oils what would they be?

Rancid (gone off – the most frequent flaw), worm (grubs from the parasitic olive fly inside olives, ground into oil), and musty (mold)
Extra virginity
Q: How do farmers/producers who have poured their life, their soul into making 'honest' olive oil survive in a market flooded by cheap knockoffs?

They often don't.  Many are abandoning their groves, and going into bankruptcy.  Those who do make their money elsewhere (eg wine), and take a loss on their oil.  Ridiculuous situation, but omnipresent.

Q: Who are the worst offenders in pushing virgin in name only oils? Is it country specific?

The biggest industrial olive oil companies are all Iberian (Spanish & Portuguese) bottling companies. They often sell oil under Italian labels, but the oil is usually Spanish, Tunisian, etc.

Q: Why is 28.9 temperature important for professional olive oil tasters?

The aromatics in the oil become volatile and therefore enter the taster's nasal passages more easily – it's like warming brandy in a snifter.

Q: Greeks celebrated aesthetic and spiritual aspects of olive oil while Romans concentrated on its commercial possibilities, what is at the root of this difference?

Deep-rooted cultural differences:  Greeks were more oriented philosophical, scientific, hedonistic pursuits, the Romans to business, conquest, orderly human structures. 

Q: If in time of amphoras as oil receptacles one could tell what he was buying, why is it so difficult to sort the bad from the great now?

In large part because the central governments aren't taking the time and going to the expense to police the market.  At times because the big companies have strong political ties at the governmental and EU level.

Q: Are labels, first press, extra virgin, organic, meaningless and how can trust be restored?

Right now they are empty phrases.  Trust can be restored by a minimum of enforcement from above, and a lot of education from below among consumers – that's how the quality revolutions in wine, microbrew beer, coffee, artisanal cheeses, etc,  got started.

Q: How much should we expect to pay for authentic 'extra virgin' olive oil?

Wide range of prices.  Perfectly good, fresh, extra virgin  olive oil should be available at current supermarket prices (Corto Olive and COR now produce it in the states, adn Kirkland at Costco is real extra virgin).  The really grand cru estate oils, esp those made in high-price places like Tuscany, can (inc labor, shipping etc) cost $30/lit.  Much more than this however is markup by the retailer.

Q: Last, name 3 'honest' olive oils at various price points that one should try in the U.S?

See above.

Thanks Tom for your time

Public Displays of Art, Outdoor Project 2012, 18 Artists, Lisbon, Opens February 28ry

Imagine if Time Square billboards in New York were switched from marketing messages to creative displays.

In Lisbon, art takes over spaces usually reserved to advertising with Outdoor 2012 a project of P28. 

Outdoorlisboa (2)

Luisa Santos, the guest curator of the project, describes the endeavour in C-Heads magazine as "contemporary art as a Trojan horse in a mass society."

Artists: Adriana Varejão [BR], Bedwyr Williams [UK], Chitra Ganesh [US], Erwin Wurm [AU], Gabriela Albergaria [PT], Jesper Just [DK], Jorge Molder [PT], Leonid Tishkov [RU], Luisa Cunha [PT], Marcel van Eeden [NL], Mário Feliciano [PT], Miguel Palma [PT], Paulo Mendes [PT], Pedro Cabral Santo [PT], Pedro Cabrita Reis [PT], R2 Design [PT], Susana Anágua [PT], Susanne Themlitz [PT]

Grand opening is on February 28, 2012 at 6:00 PM.