France

As you may or may not know…Paul and I have embarked on a journey in France, WWOOFing and otherwise traveling, for one year. You can see our adventures on our French Adventure blog: Play Big Ball. Generally, we work 4-5 hours each day, starting at a reasonable hour, 8 or 9a. We’ve been on the road for almost two months now, and we’ve had a wide variety of experiences that are insanely different from anything we would have or could have experienced in NYC.  The impetus behind this trip is fairly simple. I wanted to live in another country for a year. Paul wanted to learn French. Et voilá, here we are! I won’t say it’s been easy, but it’s definitely been educational. And most importantly, we are both glad we are here doing this.

While we do this, Cooking by Heart is evolving. We worked at our first farm for one month in Cassagnabere, an extremely small village south of Toulouse. It is beautiful there and we soaked it in while we struggled, really struggled, with our first host couple, Domi and Cyril, to communicate even the simplest ideas between us. I won’t get into it too much right now, but we eventually shot a cooking video with the two of them, but this video will be sans dialogue. I think you will have a nice feeling for the place. So please stay tuned for Domi & Cyril Sarthe’s recipe for Gnocci with Spinach Sauce.

xxo <3

Potato Latkes & Applesauce

Are you ready to witness a top notch Chanukah recipe passed from one generation to the next? That’s how we do! It was a special treat to shoot with  NY chef, teacher and cookbook author Peter Berley and his daughter Emma Jean at Peter’s teaching kitchen on the North Fork of Long Island. For those of you who are not familiar with latkes, you don’t know what you are missing! They are also known as potato pancakes, they taste incredible with applesauce, but it is also very common for folks to eat them with sour cream or even a bit of both. You can serve them on their own for a snack or as a side dish with dinner. They are delicious.

Peter Berley’s beautiful new teaching kitchen in Jamesport, NY

Like Emma Jean and Peter himself, I grew up glopping lots of applesauce onto my latkes so I am excited to have learned how to make applesauce from scratch! Latkes are a fried food but Peter has found a way of keeping them from being heavy. His latkes are light, fluffy and crunchy all at once. I’ve seen other recipes that call for 1/2 inch of oil or more but I think Peter’s shallow fry, or pan fry, is the way to go. There are many latke recipes out there, but this one may take the cake. I had the pleasure of sampling the goods and they were the best. I could have eaten ten.

You can make the applesauce and latkes simulaneously. Get your apples cooking first, then you’ll have plenty of time to prep your latkes. Before you begin frying latkes, mill your apples so your latkes can be served up hot and fresh as possible. Peter also suggests turnip latkes or adding a bit of grated carrot, or chopped scallion or chives to the mix. Have fun, experiment and let us know what you think!

Applesauce:

(makes about 2 quarts)

Ingredients :
5 pounds red apples (cortlands are best but can also use
McCoons, Empires, Galas or others)

Method:
1. Wash the apples. Halve core and slice into 2 inch chunks (do not peel them!)
2. Place the apples in a heavy pot and bring to a simmer over high heat, give
them a few stirs to prevent scorching.
3. Lower the heat and cover the pot. Cook gently until they turn soft and juicy,
about 30-40 minutes.
4. Puree the apples in a hand cranked food mill.
5. Serve alone, atop latkes or any way you like!

Notes on Applesauce:
If an apple (or pear) is on it’s way out, getting soft or over ripe, it’s a good time to sauce it.
When making applesauce, use a heavy pot – in a thin one, apples will burn before they sauce.
In addition to the pink color the skins provide, Peter keeps the skin on his apples for the pectin, which is just under the skin of apples. Pectin has a thickening effect on the sauce.
You can add cinnamon once the apples are cooked, but that doesn’t go so well with latkes.
Your applesauce will keep for 1-2 weeks in the fridge without any preserving method.

Potato Latkes

(makes 10-12 latkes)

Ingredients:
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
1 cup onion, coarsely grated
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 cup ( or more ) vegetable oil or shmaltz

Method:
1. Fill a large bowl with cold water.
2. As you grate the potatoes and onions transfer them to the water (this prevents them from turning
brown).
3. Drain the potatoes & onion mixture and place in a large to a clean towel. Ring out as much water as
you can. You can also do this by hand in batches.
4. Transfer the potato-onion mixture to a large bowl and stir in the beaten egg, salt and pepper to taste.
5. Heat a large skillet with 4 tablespoons of oil until hot but not smoking.
6. Fill a 1/2 cup measuring cup with potato mixture and press out excess liquid back into the bowl.
Add the mixture to the pan and flatten into a 3 inch round with a spatula.
7. Fry 3-4 pancakes at a time or whatever amount will fit comfortably in the pan without overcrowding it.
Cook until golden brown on each side. Drain the pancakes on brown paper. Season with a little salt.
8. Serve immediately or drain on a wire rack and keep warm in a 300 degree oven.

Notes on Latkes:
For this recipe, do not use extra virgin olive oil. Extra light pure olive oil, safflower or canola oil are best.
Once pan is hot, keep flame low.
You can make the grated potato mixture a day ahead. Keep it in the fridge with plastic directly on the grated mixture so no air gets to it.
If preparing latkes for a crowd, you can keep them in warm oven around 200.
If you are vegan, can use flour instead of egg to help bind the latkes.

 

Thank you Emma Jean and Peter! And as usual, thank you Sintalentos, Trokon Nagbe, and Mister Helzer. And thank you Momma and Pops Helzer for lending us the car so we could shoot this piece! Also merci, Domi et Cyril, pour le pomme et le pomme de terre ;). As for music credits: Meg’s Shopping Spree (Take Without Giving) and The Fall of Benson Mining by Sven Libaek; Something Elated by Broke for Free; Kolomeiko by Tres Tristes Tangos; Leno by Vlada Tomova Balkan Tales.

Sneak Preview: Peter Berley

We recently shot an episode of Cooking by Heart with chef, teacher, father and award-winning cookbook author, Peter Berley, and his daughter Emma. We had the honor of being the first film crew to shoot at Peter’s newly established “My North Fork Kitchen,” where he recently began offering wonderfully intimate cooking classes in his incredible new kitchen. Here’s a promo piece we put together while we were there.

PS. Look out because soon I’ll be posting Peter & Emma cooking latkes & applesauce by heart and it’s going to be delectable!

Successful Screening on Sunday Night!

Thank you to everybody who showed support by braving the wintry, cold, messed up L train, Sunday night urge to stay home and attended the first ever public screening of Cooking by Heart at 3rd Ward! I truly couldn’t have been happier with the turnout. It was incredible to see the seats fill up and to feel such sweet love and support. Before the screening began, Chitra Agrawal, of The ABCD’s of Cooking and from Vishwani Agrawal’s Chapati, prepared Chana Masala (Chickpea Curry) and Spinach Yogurt Raita. Mother-daughter duo, Affiong and Ediomi Utuk prepared Nigerian Jollof Rice. For $4, they served up perfectly spicy and delightful bowls of jollof topped with chana masala and a spoonful of spinach raita. And for an extra $1, homemade chai by Chai Master, Chumma. That chai got me all types of hopped up, which didn’t help calm my nerves!

The food went fast and I hope everybody enjoyed the musical performance that opened the event and the three videos we shared. It was the big premiere for Jollof Rice, and it was an honor to share it with Affiong and Ediomi for the first time on a nice big screen. Our three pieces were followed by longer documentary called Everyday is a Holiday, by Theresa Loong. It was a pretty incredible story. In the piece, Theresa learns about her father through a diary where he documented his inner thoughts. His story is gruesome and tortured at times but his sweet, silly and positive attitude in the face of adversity and discrimination is awe-inspiring. Keep an eye out for it on PBS soon!
I had such a good time, and I everybody else did too! Thank you Moviehouse, Shantell, Theresa, Chitra, Ediomi, Chumma, 3rd Ward, and everybody who came to support!

Nigerian Jollof Rice

Each time we make a video, I feel privileged to have the opportunity to take away a few little gems, whether it’s a great cooking tip, recipe secret, or a glimpse into an entirely different approach to food and family. To be honest, until the day we spent with the Utuk’s, I had no experience with Nigerian food nor jollof rice. Jollof rice is a staple rice dish that is common all over West Africa. It can be made with a variety of different proteins, but the basic ingredients for jollof rice are tomatoes, onion, salt, and red pepper. Affiong Utuk prepares her jollof rice with some of the usual ingredients but she also uses tomato paste, chicken bouillon and lots of crushed red pepper that gives her version of the dish a spicy kick. She serves protein dishes on the side, to accommodate the various dietary needs of her four children.

For Affiong, presentation is everything. She is a Nurse Anesthetist at Virtua Memorial Mt. Holly, NJ. Perhaps this is partially why she is very conscious of keeping her kitchen so clean while she cooks. One smart piece of advice she offered was this: when you are cooking for others, your guests should find out what you are serving by the aromas of the food, not by the mess you’ve left while preparing it. Along the same lines, Affiong says it doesn’t matter how good the food tastes; if it doesn’t look appetizing, why bother? In Affiong’s kitchen, she practices what she preaches, as she prepares a family feast with tender loving care.

Thank you Affiong, Ediomi and all of the Utuk’s for your patience and for seeing this project through. Katrina, thank you for your help during the shoot. Trokon, without your audio gear, these videos would not be very good… Sintalentos, you’re the musical man, thank you! Chitra, thank you for introducing me to Ediomi! And Paul, you toil so hard on these shoots and I love you for it. Thank you!

Music: Yaba E (Farewell) by Solomon Ilori And His Afro-Drum Ensemble; Super Mom by The Very Best; Nouvelle Generation Pts 1 & 2 by Orchestre Lipua Lipua; Surprise Hotel by Fool’s Gold; Happiness Is by Podington Bear; Children of Light by Quilt

Cooking by Heart on the big screen!

PLEASE JOIN US

Sunday, February 12, 2012

3rd Ward, 195 Morgan Ave, Brooklyn

$10 Suggested Donation at the Door

7pm Indian & Nigerian Food

8pm Film Screening

.

Picture this: Cooking by Heart on the big screen for the very first time! Mark your calendars, friends, because good things are gonna be cookin at 7p on Feb 12 at 3rd Ward!

Moviehouse produces regular events and screenings at 3rd Ward and we’re honored to be a part of it this Sunday. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to premiere our newest piece! In it, Affiong Utuk shares her unique recipe for Nigerian jolloff rice with her daughter, Ediomi.

The evening’s events will begin at 7p with food prepared by Cooking by Heart movie stars. Delicious Indian food will be prepared by veteran CBH star, Chitra Agrawal of ABCD’s of Cooking and scrumptious Nigerian food will be prepared by new CBH stars, Affiong and Ediomi Utuk. They’ll be selling samples of a couple vegetarian dishes, so bring some cash.

At 8p, the film screening will begin with three of our Cooking by Heart pieces. The feature film will be a 45 minute piece by Theresa Loong. Her documentary, Everyday is a Holiday, tells the story of her journey to uncover secrets of her father’s past.

PS. Thank you Chitra, for introducing us to the Moviehouse crew. And thank you Chris and Clara, for making it happen.

Wild Chanterelle Bruschetta

The story of Foraging with Fialkoff

Georgia and Donna are two peas in a pod. They are saucy and strong, petite and powerful, serious and silly. In July, we spent a beautiful day gathering chanterelle mushrooms in northern Vermont. Donna has been foraging for mushrooms for 15 years and like most foragers, she is secretive about her spots. These are the locations to which she returns annually to harvest her coveted wild fungus, including chanterelles, morels, boletes, and her favorite, hen of the woods, or the maitake. Donna blind-folded us and took us to some secret locations and made us swear never to tell! Just kidding about the blind-folds, but these are some serious secret spots. Not only was it a new experience for Georgia, who had never foraged with her mom before, but it was a new experience for me. Georgia (and I) learned a lot. Maybe I was naive, but I always thought mushrooms need to be cooked in a lot of oil because they are so absorbent. I never realized that if you saute them in a little bit of butter and/or oil, water will cook out of them, concentrating their flavor. Wild mushrooms have a very subtle flavor and lend themselves to dishes in which they can be featured. Donna (and Georgia, when she is visiting from Brooklyn) prepares her mushrooms differently every time, but suggests cooking them with bland staples like pasta, toast, rice or eggs. Don’t use too many flavorful herbs, because they can be overpowering. I now know that throwing a load of mushrooms, especially ones you spent all day harvesting from the woods, into a tomato sauce is criminal. The mushrooms will absorb the tomato flavor and the flavors of the mushrooms, themselves, will be overwhelmed. This is precisely why Wild Chanterelle Bruschetta is phenomenal. You could use same preparation on pasta. And since chanterelles can be expensive (I’ve seen them for $50/lb in the store), you might consider trying this out with shittakes. Also, I want to share a few other things I learned that I think are really useful:

How to clean mushrooms: some people say not to wash mushrooms. Washing them in water can make some mushrooms gooey and gross. It can also dilute the subtle flavors. It is best to remove dirt with a knife or blow it off with a turkey baster.

How to store mushrooms: In a paper bag in the fridge. Stored in a plastic bag with no air, they will sweat and go bad much more quickly.

Eating raw mushrooms: Mushrooms need to be cooked in order for our bodies to absorb the good nutritional value they have to offer. Raw, they really have no nutritional value and can be tough to digest.

Poisonous mushrooms: Donna mentions one beautiful white mushroom called the Angel of Death, which is poisonous and can kill. Because this one is so dangerous, she tends to avoid all white mushrooms. In fact, if she has any question about a mushroom, she avoids it. Even if they aren’t deadly, some mushrooms can cause fairly severe gastrointestinal problems. Some even react poorly with alcohol. Educate yourself before you go off and start eating all kinds of unidentified wild mushrooms in the woods! In other words, do not try this at home.

On the other hand, definitely try THIS at home:


Thank you, Donna & Georgia. It was so much fun. Thanks Trokon Nagbe and Topiary Productions for your audio equipment. Thank you for your musical suggestions, Sintalentos. Thanks for helping out, Yashua & Chitra!

Music credits: The Next Time Around by Little Joy; Straw Man by Les Blanks; The Dolls’ Tea Party by The Magnetic Fields; Road by Nick Drake; Sing my Lord by Ponies In The Surf; Everybody’s Missing the Sun covered by Ladybug Transistor