The best part about researching F&W’s August ice cream roundup was tasting stellar ice creams and sorbets from shops across the country. Here, four of our favorite regional producers:
Carmela Ice Cream: Los Angeles–based Carmela makes bright, fresh-flavored Lavender Honey ice cream and Lemon Basil sorbet with fruit and herbs from Silver Lake Farms, a local organic farm. A three-ounce “taster” is the perfect summer pick-me-up.
Morelli’s Ice Cream: Some of Donald Sargent’s best ideas have come from his customers at this Atlanta shop, including a spiced East Indian Mango Kulfi. His motto: “If it’s a cake or pie, we’ll throw it into ice cream.” Don’t miss Sargent’s Sweet Potato pie ice cream, made with his mother’s top-secret pie recipe.
Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream: Molly Moon Neitzel recently opened Seattle’s second Molly Moon’s, where her ice creams—made with locally sourced milk and beet sugar—await a mess of house-made toppings: double-fudge chocolate sauce, balsamic reduction and seasonal fruit compotes like rhubarb-grapefruit.
Cool Moon Ice Cream: Memories of family gatherings around a hand-crank White Mountain ice cream maker inspired Eva Bernhard to open her Portland, Oregon, shop. Flavors like Buttermilk Marionberry Swirl, made with local blackberries, and Willamette Valley Hazelnut celebrate iconic Oregon ingredients.
Chefs have proclaimed pork their favorite sandwich filling, creating everything from new takes on banh mi to messy pork-belly sliders. But recently I've been spotting uni (sea urchin) on sandwiches all around New York City. Uni-obsessed chef Michael White is serving sea-urchin-and-lardo crostini at his new seafood restaurant, Marea. Chef George Mendes has created a stellar sea urchin toast with cauliflower cream for his menu at the recently opened Aldea. And the Chelsea tapas spot El Quinto Pino does a clever sea urchin panino.
© Melissa Hom
Uni-obsessed chef Michael White.
I have piles of information to sift through from the NASFT Fancy Food Show—an annual trade show in which food producers display their wares hoping to find distributors and retailers. This gluttonous parade of cheeses, cookies and everything edible you could ever buy in a jar is now at New York City’s Javits Center. I’m not a huge fan of bottled sauces, but I did find two new delicious truffle-based products and a worthy prepared pesto.
- Céline Labaune has been importing truffles and selling them to chefs since 2003. She has just launched a line of products, including a lovely white truffle cream that would be wonderful with a little butter as an almost-instant pasta sauce.
- Acadamia Barilla’s new spread is made with Pecorino cheese from Sardinia, porcini and truffles. It's excellent on crostini or tossed with pillowy gnocchi.
- Sauces ‘n Love, the Boston-based company responsible for well made pasta sauces sold in the refrigerator section of specialty markets, just released a vegan pesto, with tofu standing for the cheese. Its light flavor is perfect for summer.
Daniel Boulud’s raucous new DBGB Kitchen and Bar in Manhattan is as much about beer as it is food—everything from American craft ales to esoterica like the winey Grand Cru from Belgium's Rodenbach (the perfect match for Boulud’s blood sausage, says sommelier Colin Alevras). And all that beer's not just for drinking: It shows up in a couple of my favorite DBGB dishes and even a dessert. A classic carbonnade is braised in a rich Belgian Abbey Double, while the pork-and-Emmenthaler Viennoise sausage (one of 13 available) sits atop crunchy lager-steeped sauerkraut. The Kriek Beer–Cherry sundae is an addictive mound of sour cherry–beer ice cream, fresh cherries, speculoos cookies (Belgian spice cookies) and whipped cream.
Thanks to Daniel, I’ve got a real hankering for beer. But I’m well equipped to deal with my craving, thanks to these four beer-infused recipes from F&W:
Coconut Shrimp Beignets with Pepper Jelly Dipping Sauce
Brazilian Beer-Marinated Chicken
Smoked Brisket with Coffee Beer Mop Sauce
Sour-Cherry Lambic Sorbet
I've spent the last few days in and around Belfast, and I am excited to report that Northern Ireland is experiencing a farm-to-table food revolution. One of its leaders is Noel McMeel, the charismatic chef at Lough Erne Golf Resort in Enniskillen. The Chez Panisse–trained McMeel is working closely with Good Food Ireland, an organization that supports local farmers and artisans, to source outstanding ingredients. His latest obsession is Dexter, a breed of rare, indigenous, miniature cows. When the resort's golf course opens this July, McMeel will debut a clubhouse restaurant with a Dexter-focused menu utilizing all cuts of the super-beefy meat. I got a taste when McMeel made me a brilliant Dexter-beef stew served in a shot glass and topped with liquefied mashed potatoes (the combination of brown on the bottom and tan on the top cheekily resembled a pint of Guinness). The man standing next to me tasted it and warned, "That dish will change your life." It certainly changed the way I think about Irish food.
F&W's ever-curious test kitchen assistant, Brian Malik, discovered a new way to make the best of supermarket peaches. He writes:
When I discovered peaches on sale at my grocery store for 88 cents a pound, I bought nearly three pounds. Unfortunately, they were hard as rocks and tasted like, well, rocks. I scoured the Web for advice on how to ripen the fruit quickly. Some sites said to put the fruit in a paper bag to trap the ethylene gases, which would speed ripening; other sites warned that moisture would collect inside the bag and rot the fruit. I improvised. I laid the peaches on a kitchen towel and covered them with another towel. I figured the towels would contain enough of the fruit’s gases to ripen them, while still allowing any moisture to evaporate. After two days, when the unmistakable scent of peaches permeated my apartment, I felt it was safe to check on them. They were perfectly soft without being mushy and wonderfully peachy tasting—not a rotten spot in sight.
Related: Delicious Peach Recipes
Savory Peach Recipes
Hot on the heels of F&W’s roundup of America’s best new pizza artisans, GQ magazine’s Alan Richman just released his list of the 25 best pizzas in America. After eating almost 400 pies at over 100 pizzerias in 10 cities, Richman concludes that “great pizzas aren’t made by great ovens; they’re made by great cooks.”
I couldn’t agree with him more. I’ve eaten my share of restaurant pizza but I have to say that my favorite pizza comes, without fail, from one of the greatest cooks I know—my grandmother. The dough is fragrant and yeasty; baked in a battered old pan, it turns crisp yet pleasantly chewy.
Recently, my grandmother upgraded from supermarket flour to slightly more expensive King Arthur Flour. The rest is intuition. I don’t have that intuition—at least, not yet—but I do have access to some amazing recipes from F&W:
Mushroom-and-Goat Cheese Béchamel Pizza
Pizza with Charred Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto
Grilled Pizza with Asparagus, Scallions and Fontina
Shrimp-and-Chorizo Pizza with Escarole and Manchego
To give cooks more lean, quick, affordable options, the National Pork Board is introducing four new cuts that they hope will be available soon in supermarkets nationwide. Perhaps inspired by the beef industry’s success with steaks like the flatiron, which is cut from the inexpensive beef chuck, food scientists have isolated new cuts from the pig’s shoulder and leg—two parts of the animal that command a much lower price than the loin cuts.
There’s the cap steak, a thin piece from the hind leg, that reminds me of skirt steak, with its long, visible grain. (Like skirt steak, it’s great on tacos.) The petite tender is like a mini-tenderloin but with more flavor, much like beef’s teres major steak—a cut they sell at Fleisher’s butcher shop in upstate New York as “faux filet.” I recently took home the pocket roast, a two-pound chunk from the upper portion of the leg. Unfortunately, the meat was prebrined—no lovingly-raised, heirloom-breed stuff here. Besides that chemically salty taste that masked any flavor the meat might have had, I really liked the cut: It’s easy to roast in a 10-inch skillet (I browned it on the stovetop first, then transferred it to a 400° oven) and would easily serve a family of four, most likely with leftovers for sandwiches. The Pork Board hopes to turn the pocket roast (great name, by the way) into the next rotisserie chicken, since it’s easy for stores to roast on a small spit. As long as I can find versions made with better quality pork, I raise a Cubano sandwich to that.
Despite a rocky start (breakouts, low energy, cravings for texture of any kind), I felt amazing the morning of my final day on the cleanse. My skin was suddenly glowing (or so I was told by friends), and I was freakishly energetic. My first green juice of the day tasted strangely delicious, and again, I wasn’t hungry at all. I cheated slightly, caving to a small black coffee in the morning, but other than that I stuck to the rules.
The Blueprint Cleanse founders, Erica Huss (a former producer on Lidia Bastianich’s Italian-American Kitchen) and Zoe Sakoutis (a raw-foodist who likes to indulge every so often), are actually foodies at heart, which is perhaps why this cleanse was so doable for someone who likes to eat.
Luckily, I did the cleanse with a friend. The moral support helped a lot, but she sadistically suggested we meet in NYC’s Madison Square Park to drink our last cashew-nut juice together. There was something utterly wrong about drinking a juice steps from Shake Shack, and if the line had been any shorter, I might have broken down. But we toasted ourselves and actually both confessed that we felt pretty fantastic. I’m sure my body needed the time out, and now that it’s cleansed, I’m ready to retox (and just in time to taste Jacques Torres’s new ice creams, too).
I’m not going to lie: Day one of my three-day cleanse was pretty rough. The cleanse guidelines said it was OK to exercise (“Absolutely!! Can we please finally put to rest the myth that if you don’t eat a lot, you’ll lack energy?”), but I’m not sold. I’m one of those crazy people who wakes up at 5:30 a.m., runs five miles at a pretty decent pace, lifts weights and does some yoga before walking 30-odd blocks to work. I toned it down the day I started my cleanse, but those 1,100 calories weren't powering me through the day. By the time I walked home from work I was exhausted and a bit dizzy; I fell asleep at 9 p.m. and slept nearly 10 hours.
So, lesson one: workouts + juice cleanse = bad idea. That said, I was surprised that I wasn’t really hungry throughout the day. I actually could barely finish all six of my juices. Three of the six juices are a mix of greens (romaine, celery, cucumber, kale, parsley, green apple, spinach and lemon). Not being able to start my day with coffee (and now exercise) was hard enough, but starting it with a liquid salad was a lot to handle. Some hot water with lemon helped me get those three green juices down. On the positive side, the juices I got to drink in between the greens were really tasty. It was like I had something to look forward to after drinking my green stuff.
Juice number two, a pineapple-apple-mint, was sweet and refreshing, and the midday lemon-cayenne-agave tasted like a spicy lemonade. But the highlight was my last juice of the day, a blend of raw cashews, agave nectar, vanilla bean and cinnamon (which, unfortunately, had to be finished before 8 p.m., which is usually when I’m sitting down to dinner). It was like dessert and actually had some texture to it. It also had seven grams of protein that I think my body was craving (the others had at most, two grams).
I survived day one and day two (thank goodness for that cashew-nut juice), despite feeling a bit lethargic and cranky. One more day to go. My biggest problem so far is that I miss texture. I'm thinking of freezing my spicy lemonade and turning it into a slushy, just to mix things up.