December 3, 2013
When Brad Bernhart got in touch a few weeks ago to tell me about his Montana-based woodworking operation, I was instantly drawn to his tone and philosophy. Brad is a trained mechanical engineer who took to carving wooden utensils in his spare time, and found that people were so enthused by his innovative designs that he decided to launch his own company, Earlywood, two years ago.
I feel a natural kinship with people who take a leap of faith and reinvent themselves, and I am also deeply drawn to beautifully crafted wooden objects, so I enthusiastically accepted Brad's offer to send me a few of his best-sellers.
When the package arrived I disrobed the items from the tissue paper one by one, and as I first held the biggest spoon in my hand -- a ladle made of jatoba wood -- I felt a flutter, a thrill, unlike anything I've ever felt holding a kitchen utensil.
The heft of it in my palm, the simple elegance of the shape, the fine grain of the wood, all conspired to make this feel like an extraordinary object, one that is equal parts beauty and function.
In the selection there were also different-size sauté spatulas made of Mexican ebony, which have quickly displaced the wooden spoons I normally use; gorgeous bloodwood scrapers designed to comfortably handle the toughest jobs in your kitchen; and a set of attractive spreaders, which look like wooden butter knives and have already become a favorite to spread almond butter on my morning toast.
In addition to being smitten with the products themselves, I am also impressed with Brad's approach: in how much detail he describes the different wood types he uses, how he's gotten involved with a reforestation effort to help compensate for the resources he uses, how forthcoming he was when I inquired about the food-safe mineral oil he uses to finish his utensils**, and how remarkably affordable his products are.
And now, for the giveaway!
December 2, 2013
A few of my favorite finds and reads for November:
~ 11 Chocolatiers worth traveling for, a piece I wrote for FlipKey.
~ Alice Medrich shares her favorite technique for melting chocolate.
~ The cult of the French pastry chef.
~ Are food blogs helping or hurting your waistline?
~ Where to find independent farmers in Paris?
~ Why do female chefs get overlooked?
~ And yet: the new generation of female French chefs (in French).
November 26, 2013
When I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago, I met up with my long-time friend and fellow blogger Elise, who very kindly showed up with homemade chocolate biscotti, and a few pieces of fruit from her garden.
Among them was a pomegranate, and I had to pick my jaw up from the floor. To a Parisian kid, pomegranates (grenades in French) are super exotic, the kind of fruit that must grow in some faraway tropical forest with multicolored birds and monkeys flying around, the kind of fruit that should also (once the kid is all grown up and environmentally conscious) be eaten in moderation because of the carbon footprint.
Yet I adore pomegranates. I love biting into their little seeds bursting with tart juice, and I love sprinkling them on stewed vegetables and on salads, especially the raw kale salad with avocado and cilantro that I made a few times in San Francisco.
So I received this local pomegranate with great joy, and as I was about to cut it open and harvest the seeds -- standing at Heidi's beautiful marble counter -- I thought I'd take a few quick pictures to share the technique with you in case you're new to this whole pomegranate opening thing.
(I have only just heard about this wooden-spoon whacking technique, and will have to try that next time, though I have yet to be convinced it saves that much time. Also: the violence of it!)
0. Before you begin, put on an apron and roll up your sleeves; pomegranate juice is a gorgeous ruby pink color, yes, but do you want it polka-dotting your clothes?
1. Using a sharp knife, cut a slice off the top and the bottom of the fruit, just to uncover the seeds. Make four vertical cuts all around the fruit, cutting through the rind just until you reach the seeds but not slicing into them.
November 20, 2013
We had a blissfully relaxing, inspiring, and delicious vacation. It was crazy good to be back, catch up with friends and family, and meet some of you lovely readers at my Omnivore Books signing. And now that I am starting to crawl out from under the pile of work that awaited me on my return (not that I'm complaining), I would like to revisit some of our favorite eats and share them with you if you're game.
~ Thriving on a diet of (almost) one ice cream a day -- mostly from Bi-Rite Creamery on Divisadero (outstanding walnut maple banana ice cream sandwiches); but also from Smitten in Haighs Valley, where the ice cream is freshly mixed and churned in liquid nitrogen before your very eyes (pictured above: TCHO chocolate, and maple brown sugar squash); and, on a slightly less refined, but no less enjoyable level, from Easy Breezy in Noe Valley, where the organic frozen yogurt and toppings are self-serve (dangerous!) and you pay by the weight.
~ Eating kale of all kinds practically every day, and especially loving the red kale salad I made a couple of times with avocado, cilantro, and pomegranate seeds (pictured above).
November 12, 2013
Continuing from 263 Things To Do With Cinnamon, Part I, here's a whole new batch of ideas for savory dishes, all kinds of beverages, and non-food uses. Many thanks to all of you who contributed these wonderful ideas; I hope you find the list as inspiring as I do!
- In Morroccan lamb stews, such as lamb and prune tagine, or lamb and apricot tagine, or lamb and sweet potato tagine
- In Indian curries, particularly in lamb vindaloo and chicken curry
- In lamb pilaf
- In lamb kebabs
- In sheikh al mehshi (stuffed eggplant)
- In Moroccan roast chicken, stuffed with couscous mixed with whole almonds, garlic, sultanas, butter and cinnamon, and smeared with paprika and olive oil. Once cooked, a sauce is made with the pan juices, lemon juice, tomato puree and honey. This can also be done with quails.
- Tomato-based chicken chili with cinnamon and cacao
- In chicken or pigeon pastilla
- Mix in equal parts with smoked paprika, and dust on chicken before roasting; alternatively, mince a clove or two of garlic and spread on the skin, then dust with cinnamon and coarse salt. Makes a delicious, beautiful coating, brown and savory.
- On jerk chicken
- In chicken noodle soup
- In turkey meatballs
- Add cinnamon and fresh ginger when cooking chicken broth
- In chili con carne, Cincinnati-style
- In moussaka
- In beef stew with root vegetables
- In homemade burek: spice up ground beef and chopped onions in a frying pan with salt, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Spread the meat very thinly between filo layers in a well-oiled oven dish, score the filo dough layers and soak with a mixture of sour cream and sparkling water. Bake in the oven.
- Add to meatloaf
- In Mexico's national dish, chiles en nogada (poblano peppers stuffed with a mixture of sautéed ground beef and dried fruits, all covered in fresh walnut sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds)
- In pastitsio
- Braised hare with chocolate sauce and pieces of cinnamon
- With venison
- In a marinade or rub for pork
- In soy sauce-braised pork knuckles or tongues
- Grilled pork ribs served with cinnamon stewed quinces
- Cinnamon spiced ribs
- Add cinnamon sticks when cooking pulled pork with Coca-Cola
- Eggplants sautéed with a little soy sauce and some cinnamon
- In eggplant caviar
- In an eggplant, potato, and chickpea mole
- In sheik mahshi (Lebanese/Syrian dish of vegetarian stuffed eggplant)
- In imam bayildi (Turkish braised and stuffed eggplant)
- On roasted winter squash and sweet potatoes
- Add to unsweetened whipped cream floated on silken, buttery, savory pumpkin soup
- On roasted cabbage and roasted cauliflower
- With spinach, especially spinach lasagna
- On slow-roasted tomatoes
- In a butternut, carrot, and apple soup
- In a potimarron soup (red kuri squash; combine cinnamon with the onions as you cook them in oil)
- In carrot soup
- In a salad of carrots, orange segments, with a little bit of oil, orange juice, cilantro, salt, and cinnamon
- In paneer masala
- In vegan chilli
- In sodhi, a Srilankan coconut milk curry spiced with cinnamon sticks and fennel seeds
- In the batter for fried artichokes
- In kugel
November 5, 2013
There is nothing quite like cinnamon to get you in the holiday spirit. Whether it's used as a subtle accent or a more assertive note, cinnamon adds a one-of-a-kind layer of warmth to many preparations, sweet or savory. It can boost the taste of other ingredients and deepen the overall flavor of dishes, sometimes acting as a barely recognizable, "secret" ingredient.
You collectively submitted such brilliant, inspired ideas for the Cinnamon Hill giveaway a few weeks ago that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to compile this rich list of suggested uses for this wonderful, versatile spice.
I give it to you in two instalments. Ideas from the realm of sweets first; savory, beverage, and non-food uses will follow in Part II. Enjoy!
Cinnamon + Apple
Cinnamon + Peach
Cinnamon + Plum
Cinnamon + Orange
Cinnamon + Blueberry
Cinnamon + Raisin
Cinnamon + Chocolate
Cinnamon + Chili
Cinnamon + Nutmeg
Cinnamon + Clove
Cinnamon + Cumin
Cinnamon + Chicken
Cinnamon + Lamb
Cinnamon + Bread
Cinnamon + Rice
Cinnamon + Butter
Cinnamon + Honey
Cinnamon + Winter squash
Cinnamon + Sweet potato
Cinnamon + Eggplant
Cinnamon + Carrot
Cinnamon + Tomato
SPRINKLE CINNAMON ON...
... a warm apple pie
... a warm Portuguese pastel de nata or pastel de Belém
... French toast, along with nutmeg
... a doughnut
... apple slices, along with salt
... poached or fresh fruit, especially apples and peaches
- In pain d'épices, spice cake, or gingerbread
- In carrot cake
- In stollen
- In Amish bread
- In pear cake
- In a plain buttery cinnamon cake with swirls of the crushed spice throughout the cake
- In coffee cake, esp. cinnamon cream cheese coffeecake
- In banana bread
- In purple plum cake
- Grated over vegan pumpkin cake with dollops of coconut whipped cream
- In zucchini bread
- In blueberry breakfast cake
- In pumpkin bread
- In snickerdoodles
- In Christmas sablés
- In star-shaped Christmas cookies made out of almonds, egg whites and lots of cinnamon, iced with cinnamon flavored icing
- In baklava
- In pumpkin cookies
- In peperkakor cookies and speculaas
- In chestnut pecan biscotti, or chocolate almond biscotti, or cinnamon raisin walnut biscotti
- In Christmas biscotti, coupled with star anise, cardamom and nutmeg and orange zest
- In oatmeal cookies
- In honey cookies
- In cinnamon macaron shells
- Use a mix of cinnamon and sugar as a filling for puff pastry palmiers
- In cinnamon and olive oil sablés: cinnamon, sugar, flour and olive oil -- awesome on plain vanilla ice cream