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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine


Good-Bye Guss’ Pickles


Saddened by yesterday's news that historic Guss’ Pickles is moving out of Manhattan’s Lower East Side after 89 years (and some sour legal issues), I’ve resolved to make my own batch. Here are a few I’ll try from the F&W archives:

Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Saffron Cucumber Pickles (amazing with grilled food, pictured here).

F&W Best New Chef 2009 Linton Hopkins’s Bread-and-Butter Pickles (crunchy, sweet and tangy).

F&W’s own Grace Parisi’s Winey Briny Quick Pickles (total prep time is only 20 minutes, plus overnight brining).

OR these 13 fantastic pickled vegetable recipes.


The New (Sort of) Kid-Friendly Food


I hadn't cooked for my kids for more than two weeks, but all that changed when they returned from camp yesterday. Maybe I was out of practice, maybe I was feeling a bit defiant or maybe I was just hoping for a change, but given how much I enjoyed superspicy broccoli rabe last week, I wanted it again. There were sweet Italian sausages in the fridge, some homemade focaccia buns in the freezer and, of course, broccoli rabeall ready to come together. I thought about sautéing the broccoli rabe, chopping it and kneading it into the sausage meat, but that would've been too cruel to my kids, not to mention self-defeating (I would surely have wound up making PB&Js). To satisfy everyone, I sautéed the broccoli rabe with garlic and so much crushed red pepper flakes all our mouths were vibrating, grilled the sausage patties (and the buns) and sandwiched it all together. A little aioli with olives, capers and herbs from my garden finished the dish. Malcolm, my 7-year-old son, passed on the aioli and broccoli rabe, but my 12-year-old daughter, Pia, ate it all.


The Pleasures of Non-Kid-Friendly Food


Don't get me wrong—I love my kids, and I love eating with them. Some days I challenge them with unusual foods, but mostly I take the path of least resistance. But since they've been away at camp, I've rediscovered the joys of eating whatever and whenever I want (if at all). Tuesday's dinner was a bowl of cereal (Chex, granola and Grape-Nuts), Wednesday's was a peach, Thursday's was a PB&J (natural peanut butter and homemade berry jam) and Friday's was sautéed broccoli rabe with anchovies, olives and so much crushed red pepper that my mouth was vibrating. Maybe someday, my kids will appreciate stinky, spicy and bitter foods, but right now, that's a challenge I'm not ready to take on. Till then, I'll seize every opportunity to satisfy my own appetite.


Nora Ephron on Julie & Julia


© 2008 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All rights reserved.
Meryl Streep as "Julia Child" in Columbia Pictures' Julie & Julia. Photo by Jonathan Wenk.

Who better to adapt two heartfelt, moving memoirs on food and its enormous powers to delight, inspire and transform—Julie Powell's Julie & Julia and My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme—than Academy Award-nominated writer-director-producer Nora Ephron? While in her twenties in New York, she, like Powell, cooked through Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, though Ephron estimates in her book, I Feel Bad About My Neck, that she got through over half of the recipes—not quite accomplishing Powell's feat of cooking all 524. (Ephron wrote that preparing entire meals for four to eat alone in front of the TV made her feel “very brave and plucky.”) Here, her insights on the film:

On what kind of food statement Julie & Julia makes I don’t think it makes a revolutionary statement. It’s not making a statement about corn, or keeping a compost heap, or growing your own food supply. It’s just a celebration of food and how it can change people’s lives. I hope people will cook more after seeing this movie—but it’s okay if it doesn’t change that either.

On intertwining the lives of Julie Powell and Julia Child When I first read about Julie Powell in the New York Times, I thought, ‘no, this isn't a movie.’ I couldn’t see how the story could be two hours long. It was producer Amy Robinson’s idea to combine the two books—like in my favorite movie, The Godfather: Part II.

On Meryl Streep playing Julia Child She had very clear ideas of the Julia she wanted to do—Julia before she had her show and before she became more and more ‘Julia Child-like.’ Meryl read everything, knew everything. But you never had any sense of all that while she was working. There was no sense that anything she did was hard for her.

On Amy Adams playing Julie Powell Amy Adams is so able to become all sorts of things. [I wanted an actress] who could play someone smart. Amy’s also the perfect example of someone living in New York City but is not of New York City [like Julie]. Julie has so much Texas in her.

On food and film I said to the actors that everyone had to eat in the movie—that was a given. I wanted to shoot something that I’d want to eat. The bruschetta should look like it deserves its own web page. We didn’t want it to look styled. We didn’t want it to look as if a home cook couldn’t do it. (The one downside Chris Messina [who plays Julie’s husband, Eric Powell] really threw himself into it. The first day we shot, he swallowed 32 Tums.)


Delicious Dishes To Help You Live Longer


© Stephanie Foley

The New York Times has just reported that a 20-year study of rhesus monkeys suggests a restricted-calorie diet may ward off the usual diseases of old age—primarily diabetes, cancer, heart disease and brain disease. Here's some great advice from the pros on how to limit calories without sacrificing any taste:

Tim Cushman: “Really spicy salsas give me a ‘chile buzz,’ almost an endorphin rush, so I tend to eat less,” says Cushman, an F&W Best New Chef 2008 at O Ya in Boston. His tangy tomatillo-cumin salsa can be either mild or fiery—leave the jalapeño seeds in if you prefer extra heat.

Marisa Churchill: The Top Chef Season Two contestant offers innovative tricks to cut fat and sugar out of her recipes—for instance, she uses thick and creamy fat-free Greek-style yogurt in her honey-topped panna cottas (pictured).

Pam Anderson: “Diets are like Band-Aids—just a quick fix,” says the cookbook author. Instead, Anderson relies on smart techniques like using low-fat evaporated milk to gives sauces and desserts creaminess, as in her brown-sugar custard with orange zest.



Veggie Burgers—Almost



© F&W Test Kitchen
Joy Manning's Ratatouille Burger.

In F&W's August Well-Being column, restaurant critic and blogger Joy Manning (WhatIWeighToday.com) shares a few of the healthy recipes she makes when she’s eating at home. Her terrific ratatouille burger, sadly, did not make it into the issue, but it's definitely worth making: The burger is a clever way to use prolific summer vegetables, like zucchini and eggplant. I often find veggie burgers a bit mushy, but in her typical Almost Meatless approach, Joy uses a little bit of ground turkey to give the patty a nice texture .


NYC’s Aldea


Chef George Mendes, a Bouley alum, has been getting much deserved praise for his new NYC restaurant, the Portuguese-Spanish Aldea. A few highlights from a recent visit:

1. The best seats in the Stephanie Goto–designed space are at the chef’s bar in front of the open kitchen. My friend and I snagged two and immediately recognized the female chef on Mendes's team who has been compared to a Vermeer portrait. Every 15 minutes a new group of Portuguese diners lined up to thank Mendes for making avant-garde food that still somehow reminded them of their grandparents’ cooking.
2. Mendes serves Pennsylvania baby goat three ways—braised, grilled and confit—alongside toasted buckwheat, chanterelles and pickled cherries. The meat was so tender and delicious it made me wonder if goat may soon trump pig on menus.     
3. Critic Alan Richman says the sonhos at Aldea are in the running for Manhattan’s best mini doughnut; I second that. The tiny fried balls of dough—filled with spiced chocolate, smoked-paprika apricot jam or hazelnut praline—are made according to Mendes’s mom’s recipe. She’s been known to make an appearance in the kitchen to make sure he’s not taking too many liberties.
4. The staff pointed out a hysterical error on a bottle of Viñendo de los Vientos’ Alcyone Tannat dessert wine from Uruguay.  Alcyone, the label reads, is “the goddess of ‘clam’ and tranquility.”

Chef George Mendes


Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest


© Wendell T. Webber

In the most grotesque live competition I've ever seen, Joey Chestnut set a world record and earned his third-consecutive Mustard Belt by eating 68 franks and buns in 10 minutes at this year's Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, NY.

Chestnut steadily kept his lead over his archrival, Takeru Kobayashi, the 2001-2006 world champion, who finished with a 64 dog-count. The two men tied at 59 wieners last year until Chestnut won a dramatic five hot-dog eat-off.

If you're not eating dozens at a time, try these modern takes on the classic summer dog, from the F&W archive:

Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs with Avocado (pictured)
Crosshatch Hot Dogs on Grilled Croissants
Sausages with Grilled Onion Chowchow

OR these 7 amazing sausage recipes.


DIY Pig Roast


The recent obsession with learning to butcher  and cooking an entire animal from snout to tail meant that my Fourth of July weekend was packed with pig-roast invitations, rather than the typical burger-and-beer barbecues of years past. When my friend Tiffany introduced the idea of hosting a pig roast to her husband, Santi, she assumed they would have the event catered. But, ever resourceful, Santi Googled "pig roast" and landed at a site called Three Guys From Miami, which provided instructions for a Cuban-style DIY pig roast. Santi followed the directions to construct his own roaster (now a fixture in the backyard), ordered a 55-pound hog from his local butcher and spent the night massaging the pig with his own special rub. I was skeptical, but after the pig cooked for six hours over indirect heat, we had a delicious feast for the Fourth.



Healthy Eating in Harlem with François Payard


© Baltz & Company
Francois Payard at Hans Christian Andersen Complex.


© Baltz & Company

Last night, legendary New York City pastry chef François Payard headed from his lavish Upper East Side Payard Patisserie & Bistro to the Hans Christian Andersen Complex, an elementary school in Harlem, to give a vegan cooking demo to kids and their families. The event was sponsored by the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food. Yes, the French chef seems like an unlikely proponent of animal-free food, but his marketing director (and now girlfriend), Fernanda Capobianco, is a devoted vegetarian, and since they've started working together, he's been cutting back on meat in his diet and experimenting with vegan dishes.

For the easiest pizza ever, he showed everyone how to spread tomato sauce (store-bought is fine, he said) on whole-wheat pita and topped it with ribbons of basil and crumbled tofu to mimic the cheese. Then he made a quick chocolate mousse with soy milk, whipped silken tofu and melted chocolate while batting away excited little fingers. Even I, as a dairy lover, thought the mousse was delicious and even more intensely chocolaty than a milk-based version. Through next month, François will donate $1 from every Soy Chocolate Mousse sold at New York City's Payard to the Coalition. 


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