Happy Friday! Now that the workweek is through, why not fix yourself a cocktail? Our friends at the Four Seasons, New York suggest their take on the New York Gin Cream, using only ingredients found within 100-mile radius of the city––part of a worldwide program to showcase local ingredients. What better way to welcome the weekend? Cheers!
New York Gin Cream
By Simon De Swaan, Food and Beverage Director, Four Seasons Hotel, New York
1½ oz Fox’s U-bet Vanilla Syrup (made in Brooklyn)
1½ oz Whole Organic Milk (local farm stand or Whole Foods)
Club Soda or Seltzer water to taste
Combine ice, syrup, gin and milk in a large martini shaker. Shake and pour drink mixture (without ice) into a tall soda fountain glass. Top with seltzer or club soda to get a frothy/bubbly finish on top of the mixture. Garnish with a black and white cookie and a straw.
The Lore of the Egg Cream:
Egg Creams have been a part of the soul of Brooklyn for years––whether chocolate or vanilla they are dear to many New Yorker’s (mostly Brooklynite’s) hearts. This sparkly-sweet drink has been around for more than a century and we’ve added our own twist using Greenhook Ginsmith’s Brooklyn Gin to make our own version called the New York Gin Cream––Four Seasons Hotel New York’s 100-mile cocktail.
There are many stories of how the Egg Cream got its name, but one story goes that it was first created by a Jewish candy-store owner, Louis Auster, who opened a legendary shop on Second Avenue and Seventh Street in the 19th century. From then on, many soda fountain jerks have recreated the coveted Egg Cream as well as laid claim to being the inventors. Regardless of origin, the Egg Cream is one traditional all New Yorkers can get behind.
A great treasure of food radio is Evan Kleinman’s program “Good Food” which airs weekly on KCRW out of Los Angeles. On it, she explores food consumption, sharing everything from the latest crop at the Santa Monica farmer’s market to the funkiest hole in the wall from the underground restaurant scene.
Evan often brings a foodie guest onto her show, further wetting our appetite as we hear about unique recipes from different cultures, important issues regarding food policy or the hottest new trend in eating. No topic is off the table. Before listening to “Good Food” I never knew there was such a thing as a beauty pageant for chickens nor did I know that butter carving was an art. I’m still digesting it all!
With summer weather in mind, Evan recently brought London based blogger Kate Perutz onto her show. Perutz pens the blog, “The Saturday Picnic Society,” where she writers about her outdoor adventures and the food she brings along. If you haven’t checked it out, you must. On “Good Food” Perutz pairs adventure choice (beach vs. mountains) with meal ideas (salad lettuce wraps vs. hearty soups). She says ditch the vintage picnic basket (Evan really had her heart set on using it too) and settle for the sporty (small) backpack.
Picnics should be filling, yet light weight especially if bringing them along with you. I was shocked to hear she’s moving away from the sandwich, which I exclusively associate with picnics. She shares tips on foraging while hiking, mainly ideas for what to bring back to the kitchen rather than snacking on your findings (my personal side note: be extra cautious when foraging and never eat something you can’t identity as non-poisonous).
Finally she shares her energy-filled recipe for trail mix which centers around her go-to marmalade granola (recipe here). She adds dark chocolate covered cranberries, crystallized ginger, yogurt covered raisins and assorted nuts. Food wise, I think we just reached the summit. Before you pack your picnic for the trails, tune in to the whole episode here.
Growing up, I was a picky eater which means I remember when I had my first strawberry. It was late Spring in Southern New Hampshire. My friend’s mom had just picked dozens and as everyone took their first bites (of the season), I sat and watched. I was one of those children who feared fruit and vegetables, thinking salads consisted of croutons, shredded cheese and ranch dressing. Taste like that didn’t get me far and it was only a matter of time before my opt-outs became full subscriptions.
As a late adopter of many foods, I have the pleasure of recalling those precious moments of first taste. Sinking my teeth into the ripe strawberry, the flavor burst in my mouth. Overcome by a voluptuous sweetness as I discarded the stem, I went back for more. I learned, then and there, the luxurious bounty of berries, the utter delight of juice-stained fingertips. I’ve been going back for more ever since.
As May descends upon us, so does the promise of strawberry picking. In anticipation of too many cartons to know what to do with, I’ve complied a list of recipes that call for the fresh ingredient:
Strawberry Panzanella – This summer salad reminds me of one of my favorite breakfast treats, strawberry jam on toast.
The River Café’s Strawberry Sorbet – A frozen, icy scoop to be eaten outside in the sunshine. Then call it a day.
Strawberry Thyme Jam – A simple guide to jamming, this recipe offers an alternative to the water bath canner and keeps for up to 3 – 4 weeks in the fridge.
Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting – Okay, I cheated because this ruby deep cake doesn’t call for actual strawberries but it does call for strawberry jam, strawberry extract and red food coloring. It’s a strawberry reincarnated as a cake.
Ever since reading this article about the transformational power of spices, I’ve been on a hunt for a new mortar and pestle (mine currently holds loose change). My search quickly led me to the ceramic wares of product designer, Chifen Cheng. Cheng’s small design studio, Designlump, offers ergonomic kitchen products such as cups, plates and, of course, the mortar and pestle (which includes a thumb dent on the pestle for ease while grinding). With a background in industrial design, Cheng is an artisan who values both utility and charm when handcrafting her tools. She told Food & Wine: “Once you touch clay, it’s hard to stop.” I’ll take her cue. Off to grind some spices!
I recently recommended using a hand hoe to clear weeds. Another great way to get rid of weeds? Eat them.
One of the most insidious and (thankfully!) tastiest weeds is Lamb’s Quarters. Also known as goosefoot (a reference to the shape of the leaves, Cheno meaning goose and podia meaning foot) and Pigweed – an equally appropriate title. Believe me, I took care of a piglet last summer and she consumed mounds of this stuff.
Lamb’s Quarters are in the family Chenopodiaceae, which also includes the more familiar spinach, quinoa and chia seed. Lamb’s Quarters are a staple in Mexico. There, You would encounter them under the name Huauzontle. Traditional Mexican recipes using Huauzontle can be found in the venerable Diana Kennedy’s “From My Mexican Kitchen”.
When young, Lamb’s Quarters are very tender and you will notice a powdery white film on the surface of the leaves. As the plant grows (it can get to be as tall as 6 ft high) the thick stem will take on a magenta colored striping. Either way, it is a delicious, green addition to your plate. Lamb’s Quarters are rich in calcium, fiber and iron. They are also a good source of B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. Use them anywhere you would normally use spinach. Just think of it as “wild spinach.”
Spring farming is rough. Early mornings are still chilly enough for knit caps and afternoons feel like mid July. Row cover blows everywhere and your plants are still tiny. Greens and mustards have not yet matured enough to harvest – even for a modest salad. Spring farming demands patience. I find that eating tasty weeds is one of the most gratifying ways to endure this season. I rely on Lamb’s Quarters (and purslane and chickweed…) to satisfy my very impatient craving for garden food. Eat what you weed!
Basil is a cook’s friend. Not only does it add summer to any dish, but it fills the kitchen a fresh and bright aroma. Speaking of brightness, if you happen to have a windowsill nearby, now might be the time to start your basil seeds in the pot. No windowsill? No fear. Do it anyway! As long as you plant your basil indoors in a spot that gets about 4 – 6 hours of full sunlight a day (ideally South facing) you should see progress.
Although there aren’t as many varieties of basil as there are provinces in Italy, you have a few to chose from. I would suggest Genovese (for the flavor) or Mammoth (for the size). Sow the seeds thinly, about 1 – 2 inches apart and cover with a quarter inch of soil. Use either a pot (at least 18 inches in diameter) or a window box (with seeds scattered lengthwise). Basil is happiest in warm, course-textured soil that drains well (good drainage is vital when growing basil), however keep soil moist with frequent misting. Clip leaves often, right at the node taking about 1/3 of the stem. This will promote growth and further enhance the flavor.
These are just a few tips, however your local nursery might have the best suggestions for you in terms of climate, fertilization, and variety. Keep basil growing year-round in your kitchen (if possible) so that you can add the herb of summer to your food. If you’re feeling like there’s too much basil to go around, this award-winning pesto recipe is your answer.
On a recent Sunday, San Francisco showed signs of Spring. With temperatures in the high 70s, people flocked to the park wearing short sleeves and cut-offs, working on their sun tans, their hula-hoop skills, and tomorrow’s hangover. Meanwhile, I spent the late afternoon making blood orange marmalade at Gravel & Gold, a shop in the Mission District. Gravel & Gold offers items made with curiosity, beauty and utility in mind. They sell clothing, home wares, books, food and so much more. Every time I go there, I want to be making, cooking and camping all at the same time and all while looking stylish and feeling rustic.
Many of their “makers” are local artisans who are able to come to the shop and lead workshops. This is when Emmy and Jonah of Emmy’s Pickles and Jams enter the scene. Emmy’s is a food business located in Oakland, specializing in pickling and preserving organic produce. Emmy and Jonah led the workshop, teaching us to make a large batch of marmalade using the season’s crown jewel: blood orange. By the end, I wasn’t nearly finished so I followed up with Emmy’s Emmy Moore to learn more:
WQ: Wilder loves a good origin story. Can you tell us what inspired you to start you pickle and jam business?
EM: A few things in life clicked just right to inspire my partner and me to begin the business. We were working for an organic produce distributor based in SF, and in addition to learning a huge amount about the often invisible side of the food industry (transportation, storage, etc), we also were witnessing a lot of food waste. There is a certain amount of loss that occurs when fruits and vegetables are being moved from the farm to the grocery store or restaurant. We began bringing the food destined for the compost home to cook, and quickly began cooking more than we could eat, so began learning to preserve. And voila! We never stopped.
We soon started looking beyond the middleman, talking directly with farms, and learned that they too grow more than they can sell during the season. Pretty soon we had enough product to work with where we decided to try out selling some of our creations. The SF Underground Farmers Markets were happening at this time as well, so we had an outlet to take our first business baby steps.
WQ: When you began, I can imagine you experimented with many recipes with a lot of trial and error. When did you make that first perfect batch and how did you know it was the one?
EM: There was a huge amount of trial and error in the beginning. Honestly, there still is. We are constantly tweaking and trying out new things, so there is always some element of trial and error. I think the first thing I made that I thought really nailed it was the pickled Turmeric Cauliflower (it won a Good Food Award last year!). That recipe went through the most iterations, I think, but when we tried the final one it was clearly the best.
WQ: We’re very excited by companies that are eco-friendly. Can you share with us your values on re-purposing food and how you implement these values?
EM: Pickling and preserving have been implemented for centuries as a way to store food for winter months when nothing was coming out of the ground. Also as a way to make use of the bountiful harvests in late summer and fall. These legacies of preservation are central to our company’s values. We offer a useful outlet to farmers by purchasing large amounts of produce that often would otherwise become compost. By sourcing exclusively from local, organic farms, we offer the consumer a chance to enjoy locally grown produce year round. While current food systems allow us access to food from all over the world, we feel that it is important to provide a local alternative.
WQ: Time to pick favorites! What fruit and vegetable do you most enjoy working with and why?
EM: Favorites are so hard! Beets are definitely a front runner. They transform so much after every step (heating, pickling). I am always stunned that such vibrant color and sweet earthy flavor can come from underground. I think my favorite fruit to work with are apricots. They taste like sunshine to me. We work with Blenheim Apricots, which have a pretty quick season, and they always go away too fast. Stonefruit in general is pretty magical.
WQ: Speaking from experience, jamming and pickling can be intimidating. What would you tell a novice who might be ready to tackle this very handy culinary art in the kitchen?
EM: My advice to a someone new to jamming and pickling would be to begin at the farmers market. Find what’s in season. Use a simple recipe – add spices sparingly. And don’t stop after the first try. It takes some time to figure out how to make what you like.
WQ: Would you be willing to share a recipe with Wilder? Perhaps something seasonal?
EM: Rhubarb jam is one of my favorite preserves to eat. It is also super easy to make!
Rhubarb Jam from Emmy’s Pickles and Jams
Chop several stalks into one or two inch pieces. Put them in a stainless steel pot. Add a tiny bit of water to the pot – this is so the rhubarb won’t burn and stick to the bottom. You can add more if you like, but you’ll need to cook the jam for longer.
Squeeze a few lemons, about half a cup or so. Add the juice.
Keep the heat on med – low, and be sure to stir often.
Add about half the amount sugar as you have rhubarb.
The rhubarb will begin breaking down and releasing a lot of liquid.
Cook the mixture until you have a thick, jammy consistency. Add more sugar if you like. I prefer things less sweet, but rhubarb is pretty tart, so you might need a little more sweetness.
When you feel like its done, put it in a jar or bowl and into the fridge. Enjoy on yogurt or toast, or as a new sandwich spread.
Special thanks to Emmy, Jonah and the folks from Gravel & Gold for sharing your stories and keeping Wilder inspired in the kitchen!
Take advantage of the first weekend of Spring. If you work Monday through Friday (like me), weekends mean two days of freedom. Leisure time for sleeping in, reading the paper, and going for bike rides. Sunshine is a bonus. This weekend, in particular, should be exciting because we get to see all the crops the farmers bring to the table. That’s right, it’s market time.
Like writer’s block, cook’s block (not to be confused with the chopping block) is a case we all suffer from. What to cook? What ingredients are hot right now? How can I impress on a budget? Well, no need to worry, because Spring bestows many gifts, including the gift of the farmer’s market. We get to see what’s finally in season, taste as many samples as we want of ripe, fresh fruit, and chat with local farmers about what they’re loving from the field these days.
If you’re not inspired by the farmer’s market bounty, you might still be sleeping in. Time to set the alarm and make a shopping list:
- blood oranges
- fava beans
- cactus pears
Check out this handy guide to find a farmer’s market near you. Happy marketing!
Spring is a time to clean, detox, and investigate how we feel in our bodies. Ask these kinds of questions: Do I feel sluggish or energized? Is my skin clear or broken out? Am I excited about life? Indifferent? Depressed? When it comes to my mind and body, if something is feeling off I turn to nature. I’ll smell the Jasmine, walk through a Redwood grove, lay in the grass (unless, of course, my allergies are acting up). It’s not a coincidence that there are so many natural remedies. The healing is there, we just have to find it!
Feeling tired, anxious, and behind in everything, I decided to give up caffeine this Spring. I was addicted, so I slowly weaned off until cutting it out entirely. It was then than I turned to my savior: Dandelion Root. Though the flower (Taraxacum) is a pestering weed to many, I wouldn’t hack it away so fast. Health-wise it detoxes the liver, promotes healthy digestion, and aids weight loss. It is a brilliant substitute for caffeine, serving as an energy boost and a taste twin. The roasted root is toasty and bitter in flavor, emulating those comforting qualities of coffee.
You can buy prepackaged tea bags at any health food store or try a home remedy. The roots and leaves provide the most nutrients (add flowers for a flavor burst), just make sure to chose dandelions that have not been sprayed. Once you’re past the caffeine withdrawals, you won’t miss the coffee, the jitters or the sleepless nights. You’ll feel just dandy.
Fennel’s not my favorite and I was reminded of this when I brushed my teeth the other day. I borrowed some Tom’s of Maine toothpaste and it was fennel flavored. My reaction was one of distaste—similar to when I take a sip of the spirit Fernet or dabble with anything licorice flavored. With some reflection, I found myself inspired by my repulsion and eager to learn some more about this plant species, Foeniculum vulgare. After all, it makes its way into many delicious salad, soup, and pizza recipes. It’s a staple of Italian cuisine (one of my favorites) and it lines many of California’s winding roads, resembling one of my favorite flowers: Queen Anne’s Lace.
First finding: it’s a member of the parsley family. Not great news to me because I’m also not a fan of that herb (along with cilantro). I keep trucking away though—grasping for a bite. A few more findings: fennel can be used as an herbal remedy to sooth digestion, calm spasms, and clear respiratory passages. Not bad, fennel. Another pro (and possibly the deal-breaker for yours truly): the strong aromatic properties of fennel mellow exponentially the longer it cooks.
Best news yet: fennel is a multipurpose plant, perfect for gardening. The entire plant is edible. It offers fine, feathery leaves to be used as kitchen herbs, aromatic seeds for seasoning, a vegetable bulb for sauteing, braising, roasting, etc, and thick stalks to enjoy as you would celery. Although I won’t be eating fennel raw anytime soon (and it’s likely I’ll stick to mint toothpaste), I’m willing to grill it up and do as the Italians do.
Page 1 of 6