© Ross Todd
© Deborah Jones
By far my favorite tool for preserving is the food mill. In years past, when making fruit jams or tomato sauce, I would simmer fruit, mash it, then strain it through a fine-meshed sieve—entirely too much work for me nowadays. With a food mill, though, I can combine the mashing and straining into one step. The resulting puree is silky smooth and free of skins and seeds.
In "The Primary Pantry" in our August issue, I preserve a whole bunch of summery things—beans, garlic, tomatoes, corn, chiles, herbs and berries—and recommended a food mill for preparing the tomato sauce and fruit butters.
At a recent All-Clad press event, I was super impressed by their brand-new food mill and wished it had been available when I was developing these recipes (in the dead of winter). The discs have tiny raised teeth to catch the skin and seeds as the handle is spun, allowing more of the puree to be passed through. The legs are rubberized for better stability and the knob feels great in my hands. Luckily, with summer in full swing, there’s no lack of fruit and tomatoes to pass through my new food mill. (I got a prototype, but you can get yours in just a few weeks—it lauches in early September, peak tomato and peach month!)
© Tata Harper
Tata Harper skincare line.
I’m probably the furthest thing in the world from a beauty junkie. So when I find myself smitten with a skincare line, it’s really got to be pretty darn spectacular. I recently had breakfast with Colombian-born beauty guru Tata Harper, who has launched her own eponymous line of all-natural skincare products. Tata was appalled to find out how many toxins and chemicals are packed into commercial lotions and facial cleansers. In an effort to educate consumers, she and other all-natural-beauty gurus gathered at the Spotted Pig last night for the premiere of The Story of Cosmetics, the beauty world’s version of Food Inc., directed by the Story of Stuff Project. "We are so concerned with what we put in our bodies; why should we also not be equally concerned with what we put on them?" asks Tata. Looking for an alternative to what was on the market, she spent more than four years developing her skincare line, which she makes out of a barn in Vermont's Champlain Valley. And many of the products are made from ingredients grown on her 1,200-acre organic farm, Julius Kingdom. Her products are so pure, she says she didn't even flinch when she caught her young son eating her beauty serum.
Wasting food is one of my biggest pet peeves. So I'm always looking for new ideas to get extra use out of leftovers or scraps. One of my favorite Manhattan restaurants, L’Artusi, inspired me this week with its resourcefulness. To make his stellar day-boat halibut with grilled corn, cherry tomatoes and basil, chef Gabe Thompson poaches the halibut in whey, the byproduct of the process they use to make their own ricotta cheese. It makes the fish silky-smooth and creamy, in addition to being a useful “recycled” ingredient. The dish will be on the menu through Sunday.
© Benoit Pailley
Chef Patric Criss with his watermelon and cantaloupe juice shots.
Last week, I had the chance to preview the New Museum’s fantastic new three-floor exhibit A Day Like Any Other from Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander. As if the “I Wish Your Wish” installation (click here for an interactive version) weren't cool enough, Neuenschwander dazzled our senses one step further by re-creating her performance art piece "Gastronomic Translations" at the Jane Hotel (this Wall Street Journal story likens it to a Top Chef challenge). For the piece's inception in 2003, Neuenschwander took a shopping list found in a supermarket in Frankfurt, Germany and mailed it to two chefs in São Paulo, Brazil; each then used the items on the list—from cashews and coffee to bananas and oranges—to create a meal, comprising varied dishes and influences. For our meal, Neuenschwander gave chefs Benedetto Bartolotta and Patric Chriss, of the catering company Indulge by Bene, the same challenge (and the same shopping list). Despite the absence of salt, the chefs created brilliantly delicious menus that were starkly different, e.g., Bartolotta created a banana-and-cashew tart with a coffee glaze, while Chriss made cashew-crusted banana skewers with an orange-reduction zabaglione.
© Red Lion Inn
The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA.
My crazy wedding season (six this summer) officially kicked off this past weekend. Lucky for me, my friends have all chosen pretty awesome locations in which to get married. Wedding number one took me to the Berkshires in Massachusetts. The wedding was at an adorable place called Santarella in Tyringham that looked like it should have been the hamlet where the hobbits live in Lord of the Rings. I managed to sneak in a marathon eating tour of the area between wedding festivities, and—contrary to a recent Huffington Post story—had some amazing meals. Here, a rundown:
I stayed at the historic, 18th-century Red Lion Inn on a corner of Main Street in Stockbridge. The inn feels like a tribute to Americana with its amazing art collection, Otis Birdcage elevator (which you can really ride on) and even a desk once used by Abraham Lincoln. The restaurant menu in the dining room is a tribute to the area’s local artisans and farmers, including Farm Girl Farm and Berkshire Brewing Company in Great Barrington; Hill Top Orchards in Richmond; and Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. in Old Chatham, NY. Chef Brian Alberg recently introduced separate sustainable menus featuring dishes like an irresistible broken-yolk breakfast sandwich with smoked bacon on thick, toasted Berkshire Mountain Bakery bread. His dinner menu offers some surprises like a roasted eggplant Bolognese that uses quinoa spaghetti and basil oil; and for dessert, a house-made version of my favorite Aussie sweet, Tim Tams.
In nearby Lenox, brunch at the laid-back, two-year-old Haven Cafe & Bakery is phenomenal. I took home the house-made granola and ginger-cardamom scones and stayed for the Eggs “Sardo”—poached eggs topped with sautéed artichoke hearts, spinach and dill hollandaise.
Around the block on Church Street, the Wit Gallery showcases an eclectic mix of art including photography, sculpture and mixed media and recently also started selling artisanal wines from small, family-owned producers like Eric Kent.
Just a few doors away is the barely year-old, 28-seat restaurant Nudel, where chef-owner Bjorn Somlo cooks remarkable seasonally driven food with local ingredients. My braised-Berkshire-pork sandwich with pickled vegetables and spicy sambal aioli had me plotting ways to skip the wedding dinner so I could come back to try his bone-marrow Bolognese or garganelli with ramps and almond pesto.
More tomorrow on my Great Barrington, Massachusetts, finds.
© Kristin Donnelly
Here are more recipes I’d add them to:
Deviled Egg Spread
© Dogfish Head Brewery
Dogfish Head Brewery's new maple syrups.
Usually when Dogfish Head Brewery’s founder Sam Calagione drops me a note it's to share details about his latest brewing innovation or some radical new beer. But he surprised me (as he usually does) with his newest release, an artisanal, naturally-spiced maple syrup. Calagione has been using maple syrup harvested from his family’s western Massachusetts farm in Dogfish Head’s original might put something in here like "beers like" - wasn't clear to me until i got to IPA that these were beers. Immort Ale, 75 Minute IPA and Life & Limb. He’s now working with Ripley Farm Sugarhouse to make small batches of exotic maple syrups that echo the flavors of some of Dogfish Head’s best brews (the Immort maple syrup has been simmered with organic juniper berries and Madagascar vanilla beans for a sweet and sticky riff on Dogfish Head's Immort Ale. There’s also one modeled after Dogfish Head’s Belgian-style wit beer, flavored with organic orange peel and coriander. The syrups will be sold on Dogfish Head Brewery's website and at the Rehoboth, Delaware, brewery starting May 19. The syrups are lovely on pancakes but even more fantastic drizzled on vanilla ice cream.
Spring Onion Soup from James.
The trend of foraging for ingredients continues to grow, even in New York City. To promote the 778 plant species native to the five boroughs, botanist Mariellé Anzelone created NYC Wildflower Week, which runs May 1-9. New York City chefs are featuring dishes made from native edible plants like ramps, fiddlehead ferns and nettles on their menus and hosting salon-style “Wild Tastings” (dinners with guest foragers). Galen Zamarra of MAS Farmhouse is preparing trout piscator stuffed with wild ramp and smoked trout mousse and Bryan Calvert of James is serving an awesome spring onion soup with boar lardon and pecorino. Foragers looking for new recipe ideas should check out chef-author Louisa Shafia’s native edibles cooking class tomorrow where she’ll be teaching guests how to make stinging nettle pesto and lamb’s-quarters-and-pea-shoots soup.