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Pontormo

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Everything posted by Pontormo

  1. 1) Yes. Do not wash them, but take them out of the plastic clam shell. Line a wide, shallow bowl w paper towels to hold them covered loosely w a produce bag that "breathes". 2) Strawberries are always better when they're in season, though ripe, local berries don't glisten for many days, either. It's past their time in August. The type you'll find in supermarkets has been developed to endure shipping and longer periods of storage. You don't know how long yours were sitting around before you bought them. 3) Read Russ Parsons. Cf. The Daily Gullet for relevant excerpt of his book.
  2. JMG: Where is your friend travelling? I also don't know how familiar you are with either Italian food or this forum. Were you a regular visitor here, at least, you'd know how much your friend's destination matters. Preferred ingredients differ from region to region, town to town, even when major cities are concerned. They often depend on what's grown or produced locally and that case, you're not always dealing with brands. I'd suggest learning more about regional specialties by reading through either Kevin72's personal year-long thread in which he's cooked his way through Italy, or if your friend is going to one particular place, browsing the individual thread that's relevant. For example, if s/he's going to Milan, read the topic on Cooking & Cuisine of Lombardia (Lombardy). If you don't know the region of the destination(s), it's easy to find via Google. In fact, there is a lot of information online concerning local specialties. If you spend some time reading the threads we spent over a year developing, you'll notice a number of good links to Web sites that various regions create to inform English-speakers about foods. You'll note that you can order a great deal online--including from US distributors whose customers live in cities poor in more than the standard supermarket fare. For example, I might buy olive oil from Zingerman's or one of the well-known Italian importers (who are mentioned in cookbooks, on Mario Batali's own web site, perhaps, and by eGullet members here). I would NEVER ask even a close friend to cart back a heavy, bulky or fragile item that could ruin a suitcase full of clothers even if wine, oil, etc. were permitted on overseas flights. Generalized suggestions of supermarket items: small can of tuna packed in olive oil. A small factory-sealed bag of organic (biologico) farro (a type of grain; you can research its use here). Dried porcini from Italy (vs. China) which are less costly there than here. Artisanal dried pasta--though your friend may not know what you mean and it can be bulky and hard to pack without breaking. Cf. thread on Favorite Pasta Shapes in this forum for further information. As discussed, De Ceccho--a brand better than most, if not necessarily "artisanal"--manufactures a greater variety of pastas to sell to Europeans than we get here; the pasta itself is superior, too, since they don't enrich the grain with additives.
  3. Ready your hands for gesticulating traditions, but can't you find a lot of contemporary Italian cuisine in California? Now, off to buy prosciutto for polenta tartlets filled w a melon curd...
  4. Pontormo

    Yogurt-making @ home

    You're welcome! That's a trivial amount of whey, seems to me. Just part of the natural process.
  5. Pontormo

    Erba Luna

    And in a related story...ETA: 1) Carina insalatina! 2) Gorgeous menu and grown-up salad! Do Umbrians grate cheeses thusly or are you mavericks? 3) Brava on the clear violation of norms in plating, too, on retro rounded surfaces vs. chunky white rectangles or squares!
  6. I look forward to your reports, Klary! Unless you're drafted for kitchen duty, we may see what's on the menu at Erba Luna . Questions: Have you ever been to Umbria before? I can tell you a lot about what to see, why, and so forth, but in ways that have little to do with culinary matters. Anything planned for your stay in Le Marche? ETA: Do you have access to a library in Amsterdam that has copies of the Guida Rossa put out by The Touring Club Italiano? Even if their regional books are only in Italian, they are designed for travel by car and provide distances and every obscure little spot along routes between major destinations. Maps are fantastic. Lists of everything imaginable. * * *Also, check out Slow Travel sites. Dean Gold's recommendations are to be trusted and he's got a lot on wine country in Tuscany. You might find a family who participates in the Slow Food gastrotourism program that appeals to you.
  7. Well, then, there must be a different explanation for the way my observations veered away from your initial comments to the point of completely inverting your point. However, if you attribute that lovely chapel to me, surely seniority is mine!
  8. Funny how this thread is haunting me. Now, I start thinking about how many Italian recipes (in cookbooks written in English) call for salt and no pepper. The equivalent of Bon Appetit in Italy is a magazine called Sale e Pepe and I always assumed the latter term refers to black peppercorns. The first time I ever noticed little jars of peppercorns w built-in grinders was in Essalunga, a supermarket chain. Then there's the black peppercorn crusts on guanciale, etc. Nonetheless, I wanted to add something inspired by a book that John Mariani wrote w his wife on Italian-American food. It's been a while since I looked at it, but the pair address the vast number of Italian immigrants to the U.S. who entered the restaurant business and the symbiotic relationship between the food and the tourist trade back in Italy. While the majority of these new U.S. citizens came from the agrarian south, they often ended up either in the creatively-impoverished restaurants that served Fine Food or in steak houses and not in Italian restaurants. Thus the birth of The Palm whose name was supposed to be "Parma" according to its mythology. Black peppermills at both kinds of establishments, no? At any rate, the Italians involved in these businesses sometimes brought their knowledge back to the homeland to serve the tourist trade, I seem to recall. (I recommend looking for the book to verify.) At any rate, moneyed American tourists were not in search of regional specialties during much of the twentieth century. When in Rome, they ate like New Yorkers do. Generic Continental fare may have called for pepper mills. In the early years, when newly arrived Italians opened American restaurants of their own, given resources, even the Mom & Pop joints in Italian-American neighborhoods weren't necessarily "authentic", let alone the red-checkered tablecloth place with menus that catered to non-Italians. Perhaps this explains the observation that started the thread. Even in today's "more authentic" Italian restaurant in the U.S., pepper mills are simply part of the dining culture. Maureen Fant and others have commented recently here that Italian restaurants in places like Florence are intimately tied to the tourist trade, and therefore, ones around via Faenza and other heavily touristed areas cannot help but be affected by non-natives.
  9. Pontormo

    Yogurt-making @ home

    Home-made yogurt tends to be more liquid than the pectin-laden product you may be used to in stores, so I'd recommend pouring the whey out into a cup or bowl.Then, stir your whey-less yogurt and see if it's a desirable consistency. You can always pour some of the whey back into jar. It's hard to tell what you mean by "semi-substantial" without knowing volume or proportions. 2 T in 8 oz. jars? 1/4 of a cup? I've asked about using whey here at eG before and received good advice I've subsequently found elsewhere in books and online. Some folk collect it and use it in baking. (Just adjust the amount of water in a bread recipe, for example, when you add whey.) I may have heard whey is good for women whose days of PMS are numbered. As for long incubation time, no. Not to blame. If you read through this thread, you'll find most of us make yogurt without any special machines and find that if you leave your fully prepared yogurt out longer, it develops a stronger tangy flavor that some prefer. If anything, the yogurt should become more solid, no? Cf. comments about adding dried milk to the milk along w the starter. I was skeptical at first, but now make it a regular habit no matter what the fat content of the milk I'm heating.
  10. Loves me some risotto--though the practical side of cooking numerous pots of the stuff at a person's home presents a challenge, especially re timing and the slime factor. Not exactly a prepare-ahead dish. Gumbo's good, too. However, another humble suggestion for locavores: Eggplant. 'Tis the season well into the days of longer nights and chilly air. From what I understand, the French cook aubergines as do those whose governing bodies fall prey to mockery here as well as extra kilos at the local trattoria. Neapolitan eggplant torta slathered in chocolate anyone? Then there is everything Middle-Eastern, Asian (including Thai, of course) et al in addition to the contributions of other Mediterranean cultures. Let me add eggplant soup at Chez Panisse and other dishes and cultures I have not mentioned. Plus, our markets fill with all those wonderful shapes, colors and shades to wake us from the snooze that is a part of our culinary past.
  11. I quote from the introductory paragraph of the recipe: --"Maize of Glory" in Gourmet, 67 (September 2007): 95.The recipe appears in the section of the magazine devoted to recipes entitled "The Seasonal Kitchen" as opposed to one of the many articles credited to authors selected because of their expertise in a featured culture and/or city in the country with relevant demographics. Since I've never worked on a culinary magazine before, I can only assume that the recipes reflect a collaborative process. The Executive Food Editor, however, is Kemp M. Minifie; Miraglia Eriquez is one of five other food editors listed on page 20 of the issue. Recipe editors are Hobby Coudert and Shannon R. Fox. Given the introduction to the recipe and the readership of the magazine, I am also guessing that exemplary professionalism was behind the decision to substitute the authentic masa dough that is not yet available to most home cooks in the United States no matter what their income level or background might be or whether they view Gourmet as Food Porn or cook from the recipes. I hope Rancho Gordo doesn't mind that I mention a friendly exchange of PM's in which he wrote, yet again, that he wasn't aware of what was not readily available in other parts of the U.S. where home cooks can't count on their families to prepare fresh tortillas for them. I recommend looking at this issue of the magazine and reading the many articles related to the recipes that feature corn and the way it factors both in diverse Latin American culinary traditions and in contemporary life in the U.S. Availability of Mexican ingredients is touched upon in David Tamarkin's article, "Chicago Mexicano" where the author admits his city is unusually blessed. He cites a number of experts in Mexican cooking, though I don't recall if he refers to one of the recognized authorities in academia, Jeffrey Pilcher. There's also an article on the ubiquity of taco trucks across the nation. I realize it's usually best to be silent. Yet, there are so many negative comments made about the magazine under discussion that I want to strike a balance and underscore how good and interesting I find this particular issue to be. I have to think it is an attempt to catch the eye of folk at newsstands who don't usually read the publication. Let's hope there are trends in the kinds of contributors who identified with their subject matter as well as expansions on the different culinary traditions some merely introduced.
  12. To explain further, home is on the east coast where my lesson took place. She was thrilled to bring fresh tamal masa back from a recent trip because she cannot get it here and misses things taken for granted in Southern California. She has visited a place nearby in Maryland where someone who moved to the US from Mexico began a small tortilla business years ago; he missed the product made from fresh ingredients. However, he does not sell tamal masa. See elaboration of my earlier post above. At least in the large urban area where I live, tamal masa is not available as far as I know. We have a large Latino/a population, however, Mexico is not as widely represented as other countries. Cf. the article in the issue of Gourmet concerning Mexican Chicago. Rick Bayless has resources that most of the country lacks. Folk from Texas and other parts with large Mexican populations might provide fuller information.
  13. I agree, Steve, that recipes are unfortunate when the ingredients are not traditional, though I wonder if masa harina is used in parts of the country where tamal masa is not accessible. I really don't know. I just had my first tamale lesson thanks to someone in need of the lard I just rendered--and it was because she had just come back from a trip to Southern California where she picked up the fresh masa. (Cf. the recipe for pozole and note the elaborate array of ingredients that go into a broth that Bayless makes simply w pork, water & salt.) I also welcome more attention to the foods of Latin American countries. Gourmet once featured cooking tutorials in serial form back in the 80s, such as one on China written by Nina Simonds and it would be great were that practice revived, especially for the sake of exploring lesser known culinary traditions or ones whose richness is overlooked in local restaurants. The spine of the magazine nonetheless announces the theme of the issue: Latino America. Once I got over my Northeast Blonde reaction to the exoticism of the cover and photographs and started to read, the liberal raised on Italian-American streets took over and found the focus on the culinary diaspora just as fascinating and even more original. After all, Taco Bell is to Mexican food what Pizza Hut is to Italian and the history of transformation makes a good read. Now that there are large communities from other Latin American countries established in the U.S., it makes sense to explore how their bellies deal w hunger, nostalgia and identity. Ruth Reichl's editorial letter sets up the issue effectively. Gourmet used to operate as a world apart from the everyday when housewives cooked from cans, but subscribers opened tins. It's still escapist and filled w ads for luxury goods. It targets the same demographics that might pick up other Condé Nast publications; we've noticed "product-placement" before in the Vogue models, the travel pieces and nods to the set who brood about fossil fuel foodprints and read David Foster Wallace elsewhere. Since Reichl joined the staff, more attention has been paid to the role of food in contempory life and current events. While I was somewhat disappointed by the article on the Salvadorian food scene since the focus on food was delayed until the final paragraphs, I didn't mind since the perspective and information were new to me. (The hip professor-persona was a bit irritating, but only a bit since it was lively and articulate.) Hiring Coleman Andrews was supposed to lead to the kinds of articles and features that had made Saveur more appealing. Perhaps his influence registers in these pages, too. In any respect, it's nice to see Gourmet pay more attention to countries south of the United States and I look forward to future issues which visit those countries individually. ETA: Title of the issue as typed here in bold letters, I assume, refers to the America that Rita Moreno sang about in "West Side Story". Whether it is cluelessly imperialistic when equating The United States with America or as sly and subversive as Anita and the lyricist, you got me. At any rate, the text's complexity speaks volumes.
  14. Fat from around the kidneys of pasture-fed pigs which produces leaf lard. Most very white. Smells porky...but obviously I did not use optimal methods in rendering the fat. I haven't tried baking w it yet. I'll find out then whether or not I'm the princess w a pea.
  15. Wonderful pictorial--thanks! An Edible Schoolyard was set up on The Mall in Washington, D.C. during a Smithsonian Folklife Festival a few summers ago, but it's interesting to see a more comprehensive series of photographs of the Ur-garden. I look forward to reading your article--what a great contribution to New Orleans! Kitchen classrooms are something we need in schools for younger children even in areas where the growing season is short and location of the school not conducive to maintaining an on-site garden. Real kitchens instead of heating stations next to dining rooms, too!
  16. Pontormo

    Erba Luna

    Not very sanitary!!! Judith: How elegant, warm and non-fussy at the same time! Gorgeous!!!! Love the Mackintosh-like chairs and the simplicity of design. Man, you really have to market to the Spa set. The 1 km. in between Milan and Rome (very funny) suggests a way to get the Glamorous Set to pay for the privilege of serving as wait staff while dropping pounds. Head-sets may be a bit dorky, but they make sense. You can't be sending text messages while chopping, stirring, flipping or opening doors. How about asking some of your kitchen visitors to sit down and take pictures of their food?
  17. Trader Joe's sells them. I'd buy a small bag first to taste. Whole Foods has been competing w TJs in introducing more TJ-like items, so you might try there. I think I saw some, but I'm not sure. You might also look for pistachio paste, but make sure you're buying something of high quality composed exclusively of nuts and sugar. There's a lot of bad stuff out there, including products sold as organic and Sicilian, though the color is not the chartreuse it should be and there are lots of additives. There are mail-order sources for pastry chefs (larger quantities) & amateurs. The good stuff is expensive, but price range is nonetheless wide so it's worth spending time investigating. The season for harvesting the famous pistachios from Bronte (Sicily) is early fall, so sale of the new crop should be delayed 1-3 months. (Google for more information or search for my posts here; I believe I linked a YouTube video of the Sagra, i.e. pistachio festival in Italy.)
  18. I'm not sure I understand the hesitancy unless you're cooking for a vegetarian or vegan. Chicken stock is often used to enhance the flavor of vegetables when the latter nonetheless takes center stage.Since we're in the thick of tomato season, I'd encourage you to try out your idea for incorporating roasted tomatoes. While I find most soups that feature roasted peppers alone too bitter, I adore something that Deborah Madison* includes in Local Flavors. She makes a yellow tomato soup w just a little bit of rice (cooked separately; it's not a thickening agent) that is flavored w a generous amount of roasted peppers. To accentuate their flavor and contribution to the soup, the peppers are not puréeed. Saffron and pimenton, too, just a little. I've followed the recipe faithfully and also used it simply as a source of inspiration and all variations have been good. Later in the year, a great soup can be made w roasted peppers and winter squash; the sweetness tempers the harshness of the peppers as do gobs of caramelized onions. After you turn off the heat, taste. You might want to add a drop of sherry vinegar or lemon juice to round out flavors. (*If you don't own her book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, I'd recommend investing in it. Use links to Amazon.com here at eGullet to purchase and a portion goes to eG.)
  19. The photograph in the new issue of Gourmet (Sept. 2007) looked so good, I went shopping in a nearby neighborhood this week, armed with information from Rick Bayless as well. Bayless suggests a third option for the corn used in pozole: nixtamal which is described here (scroll down; there may be better sites than the first one I found). Since the stores I visited cater to a diverse Latin American population, the emphasis is not on Mexican food per se. However, in the freezer section I found large kernels of "giant corn" from Peru which looked a lot like the dried corn/posole also for sale. In fact, a few of the bags of dried corn were from Peru. (Goya does not specify origin on its bags.) Is the frozen Peruvian corn the same as nixtamal? I didn't write down information from the packaging, so I don't know to what extent it was processed. Is there a difference between hominy or posole and the Peruvian dried corn? I ended up with a can, reluctantly, but just might think about mail orders in the future.
  20. Anybody ? So, I rendered even more than a quart, I suspect. Most of it is whiter than any other color, including beige, but even the most pristine jar of fat poured first smells decidedly porky. Having never done this before, I want to know if this is typical. I am fine by pork and do plan to use some of the lard for savory cooking, not just pies, whether main courses or dessert. However, I noticed a comment above about an unpleasant assertive quality of lard in pie and I wonder if it was due to cooking method. References to "clean" and "pure" suggest that an early first pour of liquified fat might result in odorless lard w a neutral taste. No?
  21. Highly recommended, unusual way to cook up a LOT of green beans: Polpettone di fagioli, essentially a vegetable torta that is very light and a perfect centerpiece for a summer meal. The dish is from Liguria, the Italian region responsible for pesto. There, pesto is often served with potatoes and green beans that are cooked in the water you use to boil your pasta. I love braised green beans, too, but recommend trying them once without the tomatoes since that's my preference if I had to choose. Great in lots of different types of salads, not just Nicoise. Complemented by batons of fennel if you can find flavorful bulbs in August. Also mint. ETA: Some people like them in other types of casseroles, too.
  22. Was surprised to get an issue this month since I thought the subscription expired. I can't remember when I last was inspired to cook something new and while I continue to discover good, solid and well-written articles, I hadn't been reading it much either. Thought I would call Boulder and ask to transfer what remains in my account over to The New Yorker. THIS issue, however, is absolutely wonderful!!! I'll stay w Gourmet longer as a result. The subject is mostly new to me, though there are quite a few people here who have made me more receptive. Nothing made w guinea pigs , but there are dishes worth trying and recipes worth comparing w other resources. Oh, and I like the cover, too!
  23. I joined eGullet perhaps too late to recognize fifi's name, but I am beginning to understand at least one of the reasons why she's so missed here. While in the midst of rendering my batch of pork fat, I read her recipe and regret not consulting it sooner. Cf. RecipeGullet or Post 113 or thereabouts for truly excellent instructions.I may have been far too sleep-deprived when listening to my mentor/supplier explain what to do, but I started without the thin layer of water; for the first 20 minutes I kept the Dutch oven lidded to speed up the process and perhaps did not stir enough. However, it took a good hour and 45 minutes--or just under--to liquify as much of a 5-lb. block of coarsely ground fat as possible. I double and to some extent triple-strained the results once I had dumped the crackling gunk into a fine sieve. Used heavy-duty paper towels and for the stuff towards the end, a tea strainer. A small quantity at first seemed miraculously white, so I felt kind of smug--or at least relieved that what initially looked a bit too golden was not going to be pastry material. Fifi's advice makes sense to me now and if I ever do this again, I will work differently and pour out some of the fat early on in the process for pure white lard.* This stuff I then returned to the Dutch oven with a thin layer of water to get rid of the finer particles of sediment as instructed. However, nothing seemed to alter much, so I poured results into jars and just boiled down the water remaining in the last of the fat I had. I was disappointed at first because the color was a very faint yellow. Whle I had nothing sticking to the enamel in my pan, I thought something must have cooked and compromised what was supposed to be fat from around the kidneys (it wasn't pure white, though; I ended up with about a cup of cracklings after baking). YET, I just checked the jars in the fridge and the part solidifying looks quite white. Could be a versatile batch after all! *There is someone at my farmer's market who sells lard that I will have to sample later.
  24. Duck: Conduct a search in this forum on Chinese food in Italy first. You'll see references to the growing numbers of Chinese in Italy, with communities concentrated in areas of leather goods and the tourist trade. (You can learn more about that demographic & industry by switching to Google). Most tourists seeking jackets, gloves, briefcases and so forth focus are snapping photographs in Tuscany. For some reason I think the area around Pistoia is promising, but you'd need to do a little research to be sure. In any case, you should be in luck depending on the airport you've selected for your arrival and how you're getting around. Siena is very close to Florence where the Mercato Centrale is rich in seafood.
  25. While a completely different can of worms, I gotta admire the clever folk who came up w a new campaign for one of the major brands of cola. I am pretty sure it was Coke. At any rate, while walking about a mile and a half on a low-grade incline home from the farmers market yesterday, the humidity was getting to me. The day started out cool and overcast, but after a half-hearted shower, at noon, things were clammy. I was weighted down w tomatoes, peaches and a padded nylon lunch bag containing five pounds of coarsely ground fat removed from the kidneys of pasture-grazed pigs. Then there was the melon and heavy plastic block of frozen blue liquid that was keeping the fat cold. On the sides of a bus stop before me was a huge ad for a sweet, bubbly, caloric drink, droplets of water condensed and running down the sides of the chilled can, taunting the sweat spiraling down my neck. Above the cool metallic drink, this message: "99% water".
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