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.
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!
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.
Is it summer yet? I mean, March is exciting and all, but seriously…I can’t stop thinking about long days shaped by bountiful produce. For example, last summer was “the summer of peppers” because there were peppers all around me. Not only was I eating them at almost every meal, but I spent a weekend in Santa Fe where ropes of ceramic peppers hang on almost every wall-hook. Of course, my pepper of choice is the shishito. Whether foil-roasted, barbecued, or flash-fried, it was and is the perfect snack for summer.
Unlike other peppers, the shishito is typically mild in spice. In fact, eating shishito peppers is like gambling since only one in every eight peppers contains heat. Of course, when it’s hot, it’s smokin’ hot. Literally, though, the pepper is naturally overwhelmed by a rustic smoky flavor, followed by a quick splash of sweetness. Summertime in a bite, these glossy-green peppers are about 3 – 4 inches long and are best prepared with the stem on.
Now if only summer could come a bit sooner, it might quell my craving. Of course, planting season is as early as late spring, so they’re not completely irrelevant this time of year. It’s something to look forward to! There are many ways to welcome the shishito into your kitchen, however if you want your peppers fast and easy, you might stick to something simple like pan-roasting. Be patient as they char—it’s not a real summer without some blisters.
Photograph by Matthew Bookman
We all have that special ingredient in our kitchen. You know the one. You bought it for that impressive recipe you made that one time. How convenient! The recipe only called for a small portion, leaving you with more than you bargained for. Now a storage item, you have no clue how to incorporate this has-been into your daily food rotation. Question: let it rot, reminding you of how one time you were brilliant and how those days are long gone? Or, open the cupboard and release said ingredient from behind jars, letting it shine once again?
I recently encountered this conundrum with Medjool dates I had purchased for my Lumberjack Cake. Did you know that the date has been part of a healthy food diet for thousands of years? In case you’re unfamiliar, dates are the sweet, edible fruit born from the date palm tree (Phoenix dactylifera). Full of vitamins and minerals, they have high levels of potassium, fiber and protein. A great source of energy, dates can often be used as a sugar substitute given their naturally sweet flavor.
The time had come for me to take my date on a second date. I’m talking about the Date Shake. This decadent yet healthful breakfast smoothie has been a favorite among foodies ever since taste-maker Heather Taylor gave it a whirl on her blog LA in Bloom. Whether it’s enjoyed first thing in the a.m. or after a strenuous work-out, one cup of this morning glory will have you revved up for hours. Another special ingredient besides dates? Cinnamon. Luckily, most of us kitchen-dwellers have already met that spice. Relationship status? Dating indefinitely.
Roses on Valentines Day. This is nothing new. Classic, romantic, fool proof. Traditionally, they come in a dozen. Preferably red. It’s a smooth, safe move to show your beloved how much you care. Want to up the ante this go around? I’m sure Saint Valentine would approve.
Nothing says love (or slam-dunk creativity in the kitchen) like candied rose petals. They’re easy to make but (cue high stakes holiday) no one needs to know that!
If you don’t have your own edible flowers in the garden, seek them out at any florist or place where flowers are sold. Naturally, chose colors that are most beautiful to you. Ideally, you’ll want organic roses that have not been sprayed with any toxic chemicals. Once your roses have been procured, pluck the petals (make sure they are dry) and lay them a baker’s rack. Beat one egg white together with one teaspoon of water (take caution when using raw eggs). With a delicate pastry brush, softly paint both sides of each petal with the egg white mixture. Swiftly sprinkle both sides with organic sugar. Leave out to dry for 2 -3 hours or overnight.
Candied rose petals don’t come in a bouquet but they are an edible, homemade alternative to the age-old tradition of giving flowers on the big day. Use them as garnish on your decadent chocolate dessert or add as a candy topping to your gelato. You will love it.
Photography by Eric Wolfinger
No one feels quite well during flu season. Whether you are fighting it off or in bed with a fever, we are all at its mercy. It’s much like a dance or, better yet, it takes two to tango. If we’re not taking care of ourselves, the flu will lift us off our feet. If we’re not careful we will fall for it, dizzily losing our footing. Another option: we, as healthful humans, can take the lead.
One culinary ingredient that might contribute to a less tail-spinning flu season is Ginger. The rhizome of the ginger plant (Zingiber officinale), commonly known as ginger root, is what you will find in the produce bin. Twisty like our joints, ginger root is best when bought firm and smooth. Rich in nutritional and healing properties (it has high antioxidant levels, elevating it to the A-list status of a super-food) ginger can serve as an anti-inflammatory, a digestive aid, and a pain reliever. It can soothe nausea or an upset stomach, and helps eliminate aches caused by the swelling of joints.
A raw, but comforting, way to bring ginger into the kitchen is a simple tea concoction: thinly slice a 1 inch piece of peeled ginger, combine with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Let sit for ten minutes. Add a sweetener, or even minced garlic at the start if you’re feeling particularly stand-offish toward your symptoms. To relieve an upset stomach try homemade ginger ale. Bubbly, fresh and calming, this classically canned beverage tastes better made from scratch.
Take preemptive moves from Ginger so when the flu asks, “may I have this dance?” you’re not the one with two left feet.
Photograph of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers from the 1936 film Swing Time.
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