Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
The aroma of cedar is well known and loved, and its uses are many. One of the most famous and delicious dishes of the Pacific Northwest is cedar planked salmon. Fillets of salmon are laid on soaked planks of wood and grilled over an open fire. The wood not only imparts a rich smokiness, but also protects the delicate fish from direct heat.
In Japan, they have their own traditions of using cedar to impart flavor into food and drink. Their natural resources are less abundant, so their traditions are more frugal. Thin slats of cedar are wrapped around marinated seafood, sometimes accompanied by mushrooms or vegetables, and baked or roasted to impart the flavor of the cedar into the individual parcels. This technique, being smaller, also imparts much less smoke, and more of the wood.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
The history of kombucha is hazy and speculative. This intriguing fermented tea is believed to have come from China and migrated to eastern Russia. From there it migrated back to the far east and across the Pacific to the United States. My initial interest in kombucha came from it's mysterious appearance, a large brown vat of bubbling elixir with a large whitish gelatinous cap floating on top. The name kombucha is actually Japanese for "seaweed tea," because the fermenting "mother" floating on top resembles seaweed or a sort of jellyfish. The Japanese do make a tea (actually a tisane) of kombu seaweed which has the same name, but the fermented tea beverage is called kocha kinoko. In Russia it is called grib, and in China it is called hongcha jun.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
The night before you open to the public, take a shower and go to sleep early.
This will be the last time your life feels under control. By the time you wake
up, you'll already be a couple hours in the shit, no matter what time it is.
Equipment will malfunction, food will be compromised, and the first-aid kit may or may not be adequate...Congratulations! Your rejection of money, a social life, or any conventional form of happiness is now complete. You are a
There are laughs in many forms available in these pages. It makes sense that McSweeney's would be their publisher. In their own words, the authors had never written a cookbook, and the publishers had never printed one. Cookbooks are a very complex kind of book to produce, requiring not only an interesting story and good writing, but lots of photographs, recipes and recipe testing. This takes a considerable amount of time.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Although the cost of fresh wasabi is high, that is partly because supply is low, and supply is low because awareness is low. My friends at Frog Eyes are in their first year of production, and they are already having a difficult time meeting demand. We thought it would be fun for them to come to Park Kitchen and have a tasting menu with wasabi applied in different ways. I wanted to show them the potential of wasabi in cooking, so they could open up new ideas for their marketing.
You may begin to see fresh wasabi on the shelves of Portland grocery stores like Whole Foods, New Seasons, or Uwajimaya. The rhizome is particularly hardy. You can store it in the refrigerator for several weeks and it will not deteriorate. However, once grated, the nuances fade rather quickly, so use it as soon as possible.
Monday, August 1, 2011
The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the finest berries in America. Boysenberries, marionberries, jostaberries, gooseberries, raspberries, loganberries, chesterberries, blueberries, huckleberries, a person could get lost in the lexicon of berries. Here are a few notes on what the names mean.
- Strawberry (fragaria) is widely known and loved. There are many cultivars, but are generally divided into "June bearing" or "ever bearing" fruits.
- Blackberry (rubus) is by far the largest family of berries with more than 350 species. The most widely known cultivars are the 'Boysen', 'Marion', 'Chester Thornless', 'Triple Crown', 'Logan', and 'Siskiyou', to name a few. Oregon is the leading world producer of cultivated blackberries.
- Barberry (berberis) is more widely known as the Oregon grape or mahonia. It is too tart to eat out of hand, and generally used for making jellies.
- Raspberry (rubus) generally refers to the European red raspberry, but there are also golden, purple and black raspberries. These fruits are particularly perishable, with its fruit being very soft when ripe.
- Dewberry (rubus caesius) resembles the blackberry and is a close relative. It is reminiscent of the raspberry, but ripening to dark purple or black, and not as fragile as the raspberry.
- Loganberry (rubus x loganobaccus) is a cross between a raspberry and a dewberry. It is about the size of a raspberry with the color and flavor of a blackberry.
- Tayberry (rubus fruticosus x idaeus) is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry, more resembling a raspberry and being sweeter than the loganberry.
- Gooseberry (ribes uvacrispa) is a very tart berry, either green or red skinned, with green flesh. It is very popular in Europe, but not as well known or loved in America. I personally love this berry and use it extensively every year. It has a very short season, usually the month of June.
- Jostaberry (ribes nigrum x uvacrispa) is a cross between a gooseberry and a black currant. It is slightly smaller than a gooseberry with a very dark colored skin and flesh. It's flavor is more like the black currant, especially when fully ripe.
- Currants (ribes) are small, tart, pea sized berries ranging in color from white, pink, red, and black. The tartness of the berries also varies. They are generally used for jellies, preserves, liqueurs and sauces.
- Blueberry (vaccinium) is divided into "lowbush," which are regarded as wild, and usually very small, and "highbush," of which there are many cultivars, and the berries are much larger.
Farmers markets in Portland are bursting with a wide variety of berries all summer long, and many people in the Northwest are passionate jam and jelly makers. People also store the berries in the freezer and use them well into autumn. Although I have always loved berries, I had never seen the wealth of fruits we have here in the Pacific Northwest, so take advantage of them.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
There is no question that seven billion people eating seafood cannot be satiated by the natural world. In Charles Clover's book, he first talks about the total collapse of the cod population in the once bountiful waters of Newfoundland. He then makes a nearly decisive case for the total collapse of bluefin tuna within the next decade. However, the limits of wild seafood fishing are already being supplemented. People around the world are already eating more farmed fish than they realize. As the techniques and efficiency improve, some of it actually tastes good, too. Over 90% of Atlantic Salmon is farmed, over 1.4 million tons annually, and more than 40% of the shrimp consumed globally is farmed.
Basic Math Skills
If there is one glaring hole in Bryan Walsh's optimism, the math doesn't add up. The United Nations says that food production must increase by 100% in the next 40 years to keep up with current demand. That is a startling statistic for seafood. The studies of professor Daniel Pauly are featured in Clover's book, where he finds that global seafood harvest is several years past its peak. That means next year, we will have less wild seafood than this year. However, even in the best possible examples, it takes 2 pounds of wild fish, ground up and fed to farmed fish, and in the end you only get 1 pound of farmed fish, which leaves the ocean at a net loss. So, as Josh Goldman, founder of Australis Aquaculture observes, "the question of what the fish will eat is central to aquaculture. We can't grow on the back of small forage fish." Indeed, since the more realistic conversion rate is 5 pounds of wild fish to produce 1 pound of farmed fish.
Just Add Water
Clearly, the big question is "Can aquaculture technology develop fast enough to keep up with demand?" It will certainly not be able to do so without using resources from the wild. We are learning rapidly which fish are effectively farmed, such as barramundi, tilapia and carp. They have good conversion ratios and their habitat can be effectively simulated in integrated aquaculture systems. Ultimately, the question will be answered by economics. For example, when I started my culinary career, fish like skate, monkfish and black cod were very affordable because they were relatively abundant and underutilized, selling for eight dollars a pound wholesale. Now, fifteen years later, those numbers have doubled. If that trend continues, in 2025, wild salmon could cost $40 a pound at the retail counter. Most Americans will not be able to afford that. In Bryan Walsh's closing arguments, he concludes "if we're all going to survive and thrive in a crowded world, we'll need to cultivate the seas just as we do the land. If we do it right, aquaculture can be one more step toward saving ourselves." Let's hope that step is taken in stride.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
For the past eight years now, Outstanding in the Field has travelled the country serving these dinners at farms and orchards, wineries, dairies and ranches, bringing people closer to the people and the products they strive to celebrate. Each dinner is now prepared by a chef from the region, and the travelling crew set up the now familiar family table stretched through these beautiful landscapes of American agriculture.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
For our Portland Calcotada, chef Scott Ketterman of Simpatica grills the calcots grown by Viridian Farms, using vine clippings from them as well. The exterior of the onion is deeply charred, and then they are served from terra cotta roof tiles with a dipping sauce of romesco or salbitxada, made from chiles, almonds, garlic and tomato.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Saturday, May 7, 2011
The history of Chartreuse liqueur is one of France's ancient mysteries. In 1605, the Carthusian monks of Vauvert, near Paris, produced an alchemical formula that had been developed through the Middle Ages, a tonic of medicinal herbs infused and macerated to produce an "elixir of long life." This medicinal recipe was sent to La Grande Chartreuse, the central monastery of the order, near Grenoble. By the year 1737, father Jerome Maubec had deciphered the formula, and production of the "elixir vegetal de la Grande Chartreuse" began. The liqueur was a potent 71 percent alcohol, starting with herbal notes, and a spicy, pungent finish. Conceived as a medicine, people were drawn to its particular flavor. The monks set out to produce a more approachable beverage. In 1764, Green Chartreuse was bottled and distributed at 55 percent alcohol. The distinctive flavor and green color was still derived from the 130 alpine herbs used in the original formula.
A relatively recent addition to the Carthusian monks production is the Chartreuse V.E.P., which stands for Vieillissement Exceptionnellement Prolonge, exceptionally long aging in oak casks. The flavors and complexity of the elixir improves with aging, and this liqueur is intended to highlight those qualities.
Genepi and other Herbal Elixirs
Chartreuse is only the most widely known of these ancient medicinal infusions. All the countries of Western Europe produced such elixirs in the Middle Ages, and some have survived, though the recipes and brands have changed over the centuries. Throughout Southern France, many bright green herbal liqueurs exist today under the generic term of genepi (zhe-nay-pee). Genepi refers to any liqueur made of mountain flora or aromatic plants, and are often homemade, with no particular brand name or distribution. Some have no name of any kind, other than the generic term genepi. One of the better known liqueurs I have encountered comes from the town of Le Puy en Velay, a monastic town on one of the ancient pilgrimage routes of St. James of Compostella. It is called Vervain, named after its principal ingredient, verbena. Today, these elixirs are almost always comsumed for their spicy herbal flavor rather than their healing properties, but the stigma of their ancient origins remains intact, as do the magical compounds that gave them promenance to begin with.
It can also be used to infuse cream for desserts, from custards, sabayons and panna cotta, to parfaits and jellies that go well with rhubarb, strawberries and other seasonal delights. Do not apply heat to the flowers, which will lose much of their heady citrus aroma and become very bitter. Allow the time for a cold infusion, and then strain and enjoy.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
The Swiss have a penchant for gadgetry, which is probably why I am so fond of their customs and traditions. A devise called a girolle is used specifically to cut this cheese into beautiful, thin ruffles. The cheese has a sharp and intense flavor, quite nutty and salty, with sweet fruity notes, so these light curls of cheese are an appropriate means of approaching it without being overwhelmed. I thought this unique appearance would be the perfect way to start serving a composed cheese plate.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
I've never had much of a sweet tooth. I don't regard sugar as a flavor of it's own, and I think too much sugar tends to hide the natural flavor of other ingredients. I found that adding salt enhances not only the natural flavors, but also the perception of sweetness, without actually adding more sugar. Most people have experienced an extreme of this in salted caramels, something that has an awful lot of sugar in it, but the salt brings out the richness of caramelization. A salted caramel seems more satisfying because it's not just sweetness we taste anymore.
Now, I can focus on bringing these elements together in pleasing varieties of texture and temperature. This chocolate cake is served with a frozen parsnip custard, which is covered with a warm roasted white chocolate ganache, and sliced parsnips that have been poached in milk and honey. Roasted white chocolate tastes like dulce de leche, with all the caramelization and only half the sugar. It makes a nice bridge for the creamy parsnips and the rich dark chocolate. The alternating layers of warm and cold are refreshing and surprising.
As for the Milk Itself
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Another useful characteristic of white chocolate and cocoa butter is its high melting point. For example, you could use olive oil as a solid at room temperature by melting it with a small percentage of cocoa butter, and then watch it thicken as it cools. This allows you to create textures that wouldn't be possible at certain temperatures.
I will soon be able to get white chocolate through Classic Foods that has not been deodorized. By also using high fat white chocolate, I have found some ways to make white chocolate interesting by extending it's normal boundaries of fat and aroma. More to come...
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
We found the clever plastic molds they use to make these show-stoppers. Since then, Portland bartenders have continued to impress me with their innovative ice. This time, it is by incorporating flavors into the ice that become released into the drink as they melt. Laurelhurst Market's bartender, Evan Zimmerman, has a cocktail with smoked ice cubes melting into Tennessee whisky and sherry. Beaker and Flask owner, Kevin Ludwig had a clever coconut milk ice cube melting into tropical splendor. Next time you're making cocktails at home, don't overlook the ice.
Friday, January 21, 2011
There is a reason for this long-standing oversight. This delicious flavor is not as simple as the other primary flavors. We know that an apple or a pear is going to be sweet, and we know that a lemon is going to be sour. This is obvious to us. Umami describes a flavor that we are genetically designed to crave. These flavor compounds are called glutamates, and they are the most abundant amino acids in nature. (Technically, glutamates are the salt compounds of glutamic acid, which is the root of umami. I am going to use the terms interchangeably.)
Sunday, January 9, 2011
I have a lot of good things to say about the animal husbandry at Square Peg. Chris has some happy pigs on his farm. They have open pasture most of the year, a diet of certified, local organic feed, and something you don't find on many small pig farms these days...piglets!! Chris breeds his own pigs rather than simply buying weaners from a commercial breeder. Of course, it's hard work mating and farrowing large animals. He has tried both methods, and found that breeding allows him to keep his animals in a steady and sustainable manner. He has more control over their heritage and their health from beginning to end, and a constant herd of animals keeps his income steady as well.