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

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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

Chapati (North Indian Flat Bread)

It was a treat to spend the day with Chitra and her dad while we shot this piece and learned from a master. Chitra’s father, Vishwani, shares his method of making chapati, also known as roti, a flat bread most commonly prepared in northern India. Vishwani grew up in Allahabad, one of India’s oldest cities, where he learned to prepare chapatis by watching his mother and then as time went on, by refining his own technique. On the shoot, Vishwani told us about leaving home for college, which is when he first began making chapati. Later, when he met his wife, Prathima, he continued to make chapati. Prathima is from south India, where rice is more commonly served as a staple. To this day, Vishwani remains the primary chapati-maker of the house. And since Vishwani and Prathima make chapatis weekly, they’ve become masters. It seems like making any kind of bread dough takes some experimentation to get it right.

When I asked Vishwani about the importance of passing down the tradition, I was excited by his response. He pointed out that traditions are not a one way street. They aren’t blindly passed on and can’t be forced onto the next generation, but rather they are actively accepted, practiced and kept alive by the younger generation. It’s refreshing to hear a different perspective and to consider that we are not just vessels but we are active participants in creating new traditions and keeping old traditions alive. Vishwani can teach what he knows, but it’s up to Chitra to keep it going, if she so chooses. As he tells Chitra, he teaches procedure, technique is what you figure out on your own.

Vishwani and Prathima reside in Alabama, where they both work in the Computer and Electrical Engineering Department at Auburn University.

Chapati

Ingredients (makes 6 rotis)
1 cup of flour
~1/2 cup lukewarm water
extra flour for rolling

Method
Sift the flour into a bowl and slowly add water while kneading until you get to a dough that is soft, smooth and pliable. The longer you knead the dough the better but 5 minutes of heavy kneading will do.

Take the dough ball and cover with a damp cloth for a minimum of 30 minutes (you can also make the dough and put in your fridge for making another day).

Divide the dough into 6 dough balls or loee and roll them in flour.

Flatten each each dough ball with your palm and roll out to a 6 inch diameter, using extra flour so it does not stick.

Heat an iron skillet on medium heat. When it is hot (water drops should sizzle immediately), place roti on.

Let it cook and when you start to see bubbles form in many places, flip it over and cook until the other side does the same.

Over a medium flame, with flat tongs or chimta place the roti until it blows up or browns on both sides. (If you are cooking on an electric stove, you can press the roti in different places with a cloth to make it blow up a bit right on the skillet)

With the tongs, hit the roti against a surface to shake off any excess flour.

Butter one side with ghee and place in an airtight container lined with paper towel.

Music: Boss City by Wes Montgomery; Evelyn by Dabrye; Pacific Theme by Broken Social Scene; Cause=Time by Broken Social Scene; Little Chin by Tommy Guererro

Vishwani and Chitra, thank you for sharing. Franny & John, Thank you for letting us take over your apt for the day! Sintalentos, thank you for your musical consultation. Michael Legume, thanks for the audio equip. Paul, you’re the best.

Bise Bele Bath Masala Powder

The tough thing about cooking Indian food is that the secret is always in the spices. So seeing how a masala is made from scratch is really demystifying. The great thing is that if you make a batch of a masala like this, you can just keep it on hand and make incredibly tasty dishes very easily.

This is a follow up to Asha Janardhan’s Bise Bele Bath recipe – Asha shows how to make the masala powder that gives the bise bele bath it’s rich flavors. Of course, you can buy pre-made powder at an Indian market (and those can be really good too – MTR is a favorite brand), but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can make it from scratch:

Bise Bele Bath Masala Powder Ingredients:

1 tsp. whole cloves
1 tsp. marat maggu
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp ghee
1-1/4 tbs chana dal
1 tbs urad dal
3 handfuls coriander seeds
~20 curry leaves
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp nutmeg
~2 cups byadgi chilis

Method:

In heavy bottom pan over low-med flame, roast cloves, marat maggu, broken cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods in ghee. When it begins to splatter, cover briefly but don’t let it burn. Remove from heat.
In same pan, roast poppy seeds. Remove from heat.
Roast urad dal and chana dal until they darken. Remove from heat.
Roast corriander, curry leaves, asafoetida and nutmeg until fragrant. Remove from heat.
Remove stems from chilis and heat over low flame until fragrant. Remove from heat.
Grind all your roasted spices together and use in Bise Bele Bath or to spice up any dish.

Thank you Sintalentos for the music recs: Patrick Lee: Bad Panda #42; “Caddo Lake” by Michael Chapman

Also, thank you Joram for lending us your audio equip!