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Everything posted by Pontormo

  1. Yes, I was, indeed, thinking about balance in terms of the presenters as opposed to participants at the conference. Not to make a wild leap from the microcosm of a single conference as you've chosen to document it here, I nonetheless am curious about how representative what we see is. I am not talking about a perceived bias behind the selection of presenters. Far from it. The organization goes out of its way to promote and encourage women in the profession on its web site. I am talking about two different things. 1) Youth of Many of the Recognized Movers and Shakers in the Industry While culinary professionals are by no means unique in this regard, nonetheless, many rise at a young age because they start early, often while still in high school or college. Numbers don't complete high school or bother with college. Working long hours at a young age, if they're gifted, they move up the ranks quickly, and if smart, sociable and savvy about such matters, they make a name for themselves young. And if they don't slip up or change careers, they continue to grow and develop to become accomplished masters in their own right. One of the resources at their disposal is an established system of mentoring, whether a close bond between a single chef (or pair in the case of the women at River Cafe in London) and a star pupil who rises through the ranks in one kitchen, or a network of mentors guiding a novice via staging, culinary school or a series of early jobs that serve as apprenticeships. 2) It's 2007, not 1972 and Women Have Accomplished Quite a Bit in Many Professions By Now So how come, among all the Wunderkinder at the conference, there aren't any Wundermadchen? I'm not saying the organizers of the conference are to blame. I am wondering about the industry. A few names of female presenters do not reassure me, though I definitely look forward to the rest of this report. There are many, many female culinary authorities in the world of publishing, including those who have left professional kitchens to write cookbooks. Is the mentoring system--not necessarily consciously, deliberately, strategically--a factor? Or if Michael Ruhlman is correct in pointing out how the stress on molecular gastronomy at the conference is not representative of the industry at large, is there something about that shiny, tubey, gadgety world that fascinates boys and men more than it does women? Speaking of Ruhlman, you may recall his article on African-American chefs. Whether or not the culinary world attracted African-Americans was a central question. Are the long, brutal hours of a culinary profession still a deterrent to young women for a number of reasons, including their plans for the future and traditional gender roles of parents? We've discussed these larger issues elsewhere before. I was nonetheless struck by what you have shown us onstage and backstage in your photographs.
  2. Sumac (powdered form) is excellent rubbed onto a rack of spareribs prior to roasting or grilling. I just combined it with a chili powder (American version--spice mixture) this time around and was very happy with the results.
  3. Mrbj: I am revising my original response to say I am not sure I understand why you're having problems. However, there are probably a number of factors involved, including the type of grain, the pot, heat, etc. Timing of the recipe is fine, though. The only thing I can say about outdated recipes is that I recall cracked wheat being sold in health food stores and food co-ops as if it were bulgur; Whole Foods may still do this. Now I can use fine Middle-Eastern bulghur for cooking a breakfast-cereal like mush to incorporate into loaves of bread, but a large, coarser grain for pilafs I turn to for veganish reasons: to have protein and filling grains on the side when I'm eating something like an eggplant stew. You say you're using coarse bulgur, but given the content of the link above, might the problem be that you're cooking bulgur (as instructed), instead of cracked wheat? I don't know. I just consulted one of Paula Wolfert's books (Eastern Med) and found several recipes I've made. Some call for coarse bulgur and others, bulgur or cracked wheat. (More later.) Here's one from Madhur Jaffrey recipe, more or less, if not attractively presented. You do NOT need to soak the red lentils (masoor dal in original recipe by MJ). Less is more on the green herb. 1 cup bulgur. 1/2 cup lentils. 1 1/2 cups water. (As you can see, it's not a 2:1 ratio.) After cooking the pilaf on low heat (on my gas stove, I sometimes pile one burner on top of another when cooking pilafs or rice), it should be done in 35 minutes if still a bit wet. Not soggy, though. In fact, there is danger of sticking and I think that I sometimes cheat and go w a 2:1 ratio since the pulses soak up a tremendous amount of water. Small, narrow pot w heavy bottom and tight lid helps. Take off heat, working swiftly, put a kitchen towel over the pot and clamp lid firmly down over taut cloth to cover. Let sit for 20 minutes to give the grains and lentils enough time to absorb the water fully. Fluff and season. N.B. Paula Wolfert calls for different cooking times which can be as little as 20 minutes, however, these tend to be for pilafs packed w other ingredients such as greens, pastes.... One w onions and spinach has a 1:1 ratio of grains and cooking liquid. I say, look for other recipes!!!!
  4. As always, Doc, you've done a splendid job documenting this conference meticulously. Thank you for sharing! I'd love to know more about "Red", should you have the time and memory serves you well. There is a wonderful array of red ingredients spread on trays in the demonstration and I wonder what happened to them all. I am also intrigued by the idea of a chef using an intense color as a source for inspiration. Any different flavor combinations as a result of his experiments? * * * It's interesting to see the generational mix of the conference, especially given reported mentoring situations, accomplished masters well into their careers and something one sees in so few professions: confident, inventive young chefs giving presentations based on the solid reputations they've attained eons before they see wrinkles or gray hairs reflected back in the mirror. Nonetheless, they're all younger and older men. It is all so Athens, 5th-century, B.C. Did you witness anything afoot at the conference that signals a change?
  5. Pontormo

    Yogurt Making Help

    Welcome to eGullet! Sounds as if you didn't allow your milk to incubate long enough in the machine, first of all. Second, the jars need to chill for an extended period of time in the fridge to complete the process. Your machine should have come with instructions. Everything you want to know about making your own yogurt can be found here, in a topic * started several years ago. Someone asked similar questions recently, so you might wish to jump to recent posts and then return to the beginning. Machines simplify yogurt-making. However, many of us prefer working without machines. *Click blue text for hyperlink. Note that there is an advanced search option. Across from the word "Home", at the top of the main page of this forum, you'll see "Imagegullet The Daily Gullet....Search Members Calendar". Click "Search" and you'll find instructions for finding discussions on topics of interest.
  6. Regarding the quality of pasta that De Cecco sells in the United States, you might be interested in Post 36 here, including the two links. The first leads to comments by John Talbott and others about the superiority of the products the company sells in Europe when compared to the pasta manufactured to appeal to nutrition-conscious Americans. The second link allows you to see the diversity of shapes and types of pasta available in Europe as opposed to the much more limited types this particular Italian company believes will sell in the US market. (Just click the US flag in the lower left-hand side of the linked Web site; my link is to an English translation of De Cecco's Italian site.) I suspect the organic product might simply be kinder to the environment, but would be interested in hearing if the grain is less refined or...
  7. Pontormo yesterday: "Paul McCartney is older than 64 now." Ohba's response: "So's this guy. But I don't think citing this or that mildly aged vegetarian is much proof of anything, especially one whose vegetarian wife passed on well before her time was up. And if it's true that Paul McCartney has been vegetarian since 1971, what do we learn? That 36 years of vegetarian food have made him healthy? Not killed him yet? Made no difference either way?" Pontormo today: It was a joke, Ohba, in reference to the song by the Beatles and the anecdotal evidence sprinkled through this thread. * * * Pontormo yesterday: It's interesting that Ohba excludes religious factors. Vegetarians who remain so tend to have strong ideological reasons for their diets, even if they're based on environmental factors, cultural identity or in some cases, a strong commitment to physical fitness as opposed to a vague notion of health benefits. Ohba's reply: There were two main reasons for that, really. The first was that I was following on from my point that vegetarians often make exaggerated claims concerning the health benefits of their diet. This may apply less to religious vegetarians, who are doing it for a different set of reasons, and who are probably a minority among vegetarians in the United States (where I have assumed this question was posted from). The second problem raised by religious vegetarianism is that it inevitably involves discussion of India, as (I'm ready to be corrected on this) the only country where vegetarians are a truly significant proportion of the total population. They may in fact represent the great majority of the world's vegetarians. We could of course specifically consider the diet of Indian Hindus, but I'm not sure that's what the question was asking. Pontormo today: Actually, I was thinking about Indian vegetarians, too, of whom there are large populations in the United States. Seven-Day Adventists (Christians) also adher to vegetarian diets. Internet searches lead to many sources that link vegetarian diets to longevity, including those of an academic nature--not just the highly selective arguments of sites established by vegetarians. As implied in my original post, reasons for the correlation may not be attributed solely to the elimination of meat from diets as a number of studies point out how few vegetarians smoke. I have to wonder if the generalization is made about specific Western cultures where studies were conducted (e.g., U.K.), but greater affluence is sometimes given as a factor. Exercise and greater concern for personal health, too. Vegetarians also tend to eat more fruits and vegetables (quantity & variety) than your average carnivore in the United States, at least. I don't know if that's true of Asian cultures in general. The term "Mediterranean Diet" was popularized here some time ago to encourage Americans to eat more healthful, balanced diets that included more produce and far less meat as demonstrated in this food pyramid. In the 1980s, the idea appealed to the Eurocentric nature of our culture. Edited to get rid of screwed-up BB code of quotes.
  8. Does it have any trans fat?I thought trans fats are all--for lack of better word--man-made, the most well-known being partially hydrogenated vegetable shortenings. Since some sort of processing is necessary for the production of oil, I'd be interested in clarification. Still, something high in saturated fat cannot be good for one's health. I use butter despite its saturated fat because I like the way it tastes, but would consider it superior only to something like Crisco when it comes to monitoring personal health. As far as cooking oils go, I bow to Doc Sconz, Julia Child and Aristotle. Moderation. I am avoiding Crisco altogether and have no interest in trying new products made without trans fats. However, I like using peanut or corn oil when stir-frying and otherwise cook with canola or olive oil.
  9. Unfortunately, nowadays when the wisdom of this model has been embraced around the world, we have to weigh the health benefits with both the environmental hazards of fish farms and the danger of depleting supplies of creatures we call "seafood". High cost and shopping habits also serve as deterrents. Paul McCartney is older than 64 now. Jack Lalanne is hip again--I don't know if he's returned to a strict vegetarian diet. I imagine there will be more subjects to study in the decades ahead. At least, I know more than a handful of vegetarians who have stuck w their restricted diets since the 70s or 80s. It's interesting that Ohba excludes religious factors. Vegetarians who remain so tend to have strong ideological reasons for their diets, even if they're based on environmental factors, cultural identity or in some cases, a strong commitment to physical fitness as opposed to a vague notion of health benefits. True, but not impossible. Click link for more general information about protein.I understand the idea that combining beans w corn to make a more complete protein has been questioned. Yet, there are certain combinations that are supposed to enhance protein content such as beans and whole grains. Peanut butter alone does not have a lot of protein, but if you also drink a glass of milk, your body benefits from the amino acids peanuts lack. I'm an omnivore, but still find getting enough protein my only dietary concern beyond consuming too many calories from fat. I usually prefer using meat to flavor a dish. When I have a craving, I respond, but lately have been buying beef maybe five times a year if that. As far as fat vegetarians go, there's a relevant line in "Seduced, and Abandoned" (Pietro Germi). The narrator describes the Sicilian patriarch's enormous stomach in terms of the obesity of the poor who fill up on bread, pasta and rice. That's what many vegetarians do, especially when they don't really care much for produce or cooking. I wonder how the percentages would compare were separate surveys taken of omnivores and vegetarians to determine who loves and eats a variety of produce. One of the reasons health professionals sometimes advocate vegetarian diets is due to the high percentage of cholesterol and fat carnivores eat. Another is the desire to see us eat a greater variety and quantity of fruits and vegetables.
  10. Some of these titles strike me as some of the best recent examples of culinary literature as produced by the most familiar/best-selling and talented living authors who write about food, with an emphasis placed on those still active in their professions. After all, Epicurious is forged by Condé-Nast which produces magazines you're supposed to throw away after you've been informed, entertained and tempted to purchase new, fashionable consumer goods--like books. And while it's true that food literature is a growing field, isn't there more that chefs "ought" to read by dead authors? Primary texts from long ago for the sake of historical perspective? And what about more books that have to be translated for chefs who only read English? P.S. I don't mean to be so grouchy. In the interest of being truly representative, though, I'd add at least one fine work of fiction in which food plays a central role.
  11. Pontormo

    Non-dairy quiches

    Just to clarify, "frittata" is the Italian word for what the Spanish call "tortilla". Frittate (plural) or tortillas (right?) are often served room temperature as KA says (or "cooled" as originally stated as opposed to "cool"). The classic Spanish tortilla is made w very thinly sliced potates and lots of olive oil. It is delicious and heavily documented on eGullet. Cf. the thread on José Andres' cookbook, Tapas, where a playful variation on the classic dish substitutes thick potato chips for fresh, raw potatoes. You should feel free to use any ingredient that sounds good to you to make a f----- or a t-----. I have actually reheated wedges of tortilla that were leftover just until they were slightly warm, then tucked them into thin, crusty rolls w a sofrito. Wonderful! However, f's & t's really are best on the day they're made. KA/Michelle said something else up-thread about vegetable tarts that might be better if you need to make this a day ahead. Deborah Madison's first cookbook, Greens has a couple of tarts using leeks or winter squash with eggs that bind. There might be milk or cream, but little. Less than a true custard filling. I am not a fan of substitute ingredients when it comes to dealing w allergies or veganism's taboos. Better to make a good dish that doesn't call for forbidden ingredients. But if you're okay w soy cheese, I suppose, that could add flavor. This, however, is not at all like a quiche, but a great option: Winter Squash Galette. The cheese adds flavor, but could be omitted w minimal consequence. (Revised to accommodate posts I overlooked.)
  12. Food Safety: Meatloaf In the United States there are a lot of urban legends regarding the dangers of stuffing a raw turkey in advance of roasting it for Thanksgiving, allowing harmful bacteria to flourish in the cavity. What about mixing a meatloaf in advance? One that involves raw egg, milk, bread, herbs, grated cheese, ground turkey and pork and vegetables that are either raw and chopped or previously cooked and cooled? Might one do this in the morning, pop it in the fridge and then slide it into a hot oven in the evening worry-free, or can you only freeze an uncooked meatloaf in advance to avoid food poisoning?
  13. Agreed. It's a bit like "trust me..." Artisan--used as either noun or adjective.
  14. Pontormo

    Erba Luna

    "Be here now." Sounds as if you were so wrapped up in the pleasure of the experience that documentation was impossible. Once you whip out a camera, you're acknowledging the fact that the moment will end and become simply memory. It's a way of distancing yourself and stepping outside the present, compromising the pleasure if you're not careful. Nonetheless, what you recall sounds delicious and just a little bit distinctive--enough to provide a stronger sense of what Judith means when she is thinking about the relationships one can forge between tradition and innovation in her kitchen. (She also seems to have a thing for nuts!) Reminding us of Claudio's Roman roots and the way one cooks the dickens out of artichokes--not always, but mostly--also is enlightening. I didn't feel like having breakfast this morning, but I am now officially hungry. Ciao!
  15. Loading........56 of 209 items.... Loading 113 of 209 items... Loading 223 of 227.... This is an impressive amount of documentation! When you first made your inquiry about available ingredients, I had no idea you have such strong connections to the region. It is a pleasure to feel nostalgic about Florence, but even more to glimpse the life on a farming collective (?) just outside of Siena. I love the picture of your homage to (pink!!!!) pigs, the views of the beach and the plate of tagliatelle w funghi. I am so pleased, too, that your Chinese meal came off so well and that everyone appreciated all the effort you put into it!
  16. Y: "Salciccia" is simply the word "sausage" in Italian and it applies to all types, though I can't say I've ever had sausage made of any meat other than pork/boar. Fennel is found not only in Italian-American sausage, but in certain regions in Italy as are red chili flakes and garlic. You'll also find sausages that are simply seasoned so that nothing interferes w the flavors of the pork and its fat. It all depends on local traditions and the formulae preferred by the butcher. Where are you?
  17. Let me ask around, myself, since I recall seeing pomegranates in supermarkets, but it may be too early for persimmons. (See below.) Perhaps we could postpone this proposed topic until the fruit appears in places other than Hathor's market and give some time to gfron1 to order a case for his store. The only savory ideas I had were glazes for roasting and I can't say that's particularly Italian. You'd think, though, when chocolate is combined w eggplant or chopped meats, persimmons would find a place in early courses. StevenC reminds us of stuffed pastas that combine sweet and savory ingredients. Come to think of it, I really liked the lasagna that Lynne Rosetto Kasper names after the Dukes of Ferrara (cf. Cooking & Cuisine of Emilia-Romagna) w its cinnamon and raisins. Perhaps instead of, or alternating with besciamella, a thin layer of persimmon purée... I didn't really like the fruit on its own years ago when I first tried it since it's kind of unctuous and slimy. Yogurt, I'm sure, tempers both qualities. However, I tried making a couple of non-Italian desserts last year and found that I enjoyed them, even passing along a recipe. That was in December and January, though I believe the fruit appears in the U.S. a bit earlier. Cooking Tip & Word of Caution: As documented here in Post 10, persimmons are persnickety. The scientific mystery was solved, in fact, by David Lebovitz who explains that persimmons have the same enzyme that renders fresh pineapples pointless when it comes to setting desserts. He advises cooking the puréed fruit on the stovetop and cooling it first before incorporating it into a custard. * * * StevenC: Great suggestions, the first, especially!
  18. Weeks later: I know a philosopher who probes the relationships among phenomena that superficially are one and the same thing but are not. An example she uses is Beethoven's Symphany Number 9. How does the original transcript compare to the score that orchestras use today? Identical copies of the score, printed in two different countries, used in different years by different conductors? Two different performances separated by 50 years? The first recording and the first performance? The same performance as experienced by the conductor, the violinist with a cold, the violinist without a cold getting married in three weeks, the audience member who knows nothing about Beethoven except that he became deaf, was unhappy in love and the Beatles liked him and so forth. You are creating something new even w an allegedly dogged following of a given recipe each time the dish is prepared. There are different degrees of novelty, nonetheless, and different kinds of innovations that intersect in any given dish. One American criterion for recognizing the greatness of a chef is the degree to which a complex nexus of novelty may be identified in his/her menu provided its execution pleases us in terms of looks, smell and taste. This is how we judge creativity. I am guessing Italian criteria differ when it comes to a chef's greatness.
  19. "Nothing comes from nothing..., nothing ever could...."
  20. I'm not devoted to persimmons, so feel free to give this thought and perhaps we can change the featured ingredient. While fennel is commonplace by now, it's something many Americans (for example) did not grow up eating. It's associated with fall and something that might have broader appeal.
  21. EVOLUZIONE DEI CACHI According to Hathor, persimmons are now officially ripe in Umbria and perfect for breakfast, mixed into yogurt. This got me thinking, especially after finding an excellent essay on the subject of Italy's persimmons and the different words Italians use for the fruit, depending upon their location; Kyle Phillips mentions "pomi" and "diospri" in addition to "cachi". Here's the thing. We've been engaged in a rather long-winded and now, rather discursive and repetitive discussion of traditional Italian food and what happens when you deviate from the familiar repertoire. Some of us also miss the collaborative cooking threads that were inspired by Kevin72's year-long project. It might be fun to start another. So, why not contribute a new dish to the formidable ranks of Italian regional specialties, using an ingredient that is very common in Italy, but rarely cooked in that country? At least, this is what Kyle Phillips says. I'll let someone else correct me if need be. The point is to make a dish that is clearly informed by Italian tradition, yet deviates in a fresh, new way. As much as certain high-minded discussions of the relative merits of "national" cuisines tick me off, I have to admit that I'd give the gold star to the French when it comes to pastry. Gelato and the blissful combination of hazelnuts and chocolate redeems Italy, but I am entirely sympathetic with the tradition of ending a meal w a beautiful piece of fruit and a handful of nuts. Dense, jammy crostate are not usually my cup of tea. So, making a dessert presents the most interesting challenge, as far as I'm concerned. However, why not keep possibilities open-ended just in case someone finds a perfect way to encase the fruit inside a rice ball, or dare I say, unite it with prosciutto e Parmigiana? Mostarda's way too obvious, don't you think? Keep in mind the fact that Italians only have astringent varieties of persimmons, i.e., the kind that need to ripen until very soft before consumption. So, anyone interested? A deadline can be established once interest is determined and we can make certain that ripe persimmons are available to participants.
  22. Matt: Chronicle Books in San Francisco published a series of cookbooks that are relatively thin paperbacks filled with gorgeous color photographs. They're beautifully designed and printed on thick glossy paper, perhaps inexpensively, in China. Each is devoted to a clear theme and part of its own series, such as one on individual regions in Italy. There is a definite shared visual style, no doubt the product of a team hired by the publisher. I own one entitled Insalate which I picked up primarily because of the photography, but only because I found it drastically discounted from the $18 cover price. So, while the format complements yours in many ways, the publisher may have had problems marketing the books. I should add that several of the books devoted to Italian subjects were written by culinary professionals whose recognizable names would be selling points. I agree with much of what Fat Guy says both in terms of praise and advice for revision. Finding a personal voice is as important as defining your goals and clearly demonstrating what you have to contribute that isn't available elsewhere. If you truly wish to represent the Pacific Northwest, you need to define that context from the beginning and present a picture of that region from the perspective of a young home cook taking care of his family (very appealing to a certain demographic), and of a Brit who has embraced a new life in a new part of the world. Talk about huckleberries, for example.* Develop a sense of what distinguishes your region from the home you didn't choose for yourself. Since you wish to encourage other young families that cooking isn't scary and that fresh, raw ingredients can be prepared simply, I think you'd be more successful addressing your audience in the introduction, drawing them into your world, instead of beginning autobiographically with a disclaimer (as Fat Guy points out). I like the fact that you're not using the traditional categories to organize the book (appetizers, soups and pasta, meat, poultry, seafood...), but novice cooks could use some guidance in meal planning. What would make one of the seafood dishes a complete meal? How does one vary salads or side dishes? This goes along with rethinking the title. I understand the play on words, but as someone who will not be familiar to most of the people you plan to target, defining your topic without the self-reference might prove more successful. *The New York Times has an article this week on Portland, OR as a hot spot for young chefs this week; the October issue of Gourmet highlights a young, attractive chef from your area, making sure her adorable 3-year old son appears several times in the photo spread.
  23. How wonderful! The farm looks idyllic. Thank you for sharing this with us. It is so gratifying to see someone who posted inquiries to follow through w reports. I look forward to hearing about your Chinese meal.
  24. Adam: I'm not knowledgeable enough to know the various sources of arugula sold in the U.S. I just figured that it was all cultivated and not the stuff you see little old ladies dressed in black and shod in sparkling trainers gathering by the side of the autostrada. Here, the green purchased at the market has a thicker leaf in hot weather when it acquires a very sharp taste. Then it stops production (or sale?) altogether in extreme heat and returns early in the fall. Supermarkets carry hydroponic. Kevin: Beautifully introduced. Anthropologists would say you prefer liminality. Wallace Stevens, "the exhilarations of changes". The chicken looks great. To add to Foodman's comments, I've seen Staub pots and pans that are not enameled, but the cast iron is treated in a special way. The Griswolds (pre-Lodge, pre-Wagner US manufacturers of wide range of cast iron cookware) have ties to Switzerland, though I don't know if they go back to mid-19th century. I just tried to find out via googling and only learned that cast iron became popular after the Industrial Revolution in England, especially for decorative things in Central Europe. Italian members of Slowfood write long articles on the use of cast iron in 19th-century Alaska when making sourdough bread (shades of No-Knead trend). Otherwise, there are grill pans for steak, or enameled ware for special dishes such as this nod to Umbria along w European imports. Thanks for reminding us of the collaboration behind these topics. Perhaps we could come up with other themes or different ways to organize a new series of cooking threads, based on ingredients, history, the growing season, techniques or methods... Hathor: No cardoons from Heinz, either.
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