WBEZ | Nina Barrett http://www.wbez.org/tags/nina-barrett Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Turkey and latkes share the same plate in unique Thanksgivukkah celebration http://www.wbez.org/series/fear-frying-culinary-nightmares/turkey-and-latkes-share-same-plate-unique-thanksgivukkah <p><p dir="ltr">This year&rsquo;s Thanksgiving menu may get a new twist in Jewish households, due to the holiday&rsquo;s once-in-a-lifetime convergence with Hanukkah.</p><p dir="ltr">The impending convergence of Thanksgiving and the first full day of Hanukkah has become such a cultural phenomenon that it has its own Facebook page,&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgivukkah">Wikipedia entry</a>, and a major Manischewitz marketing campaign. Not to mention a whole new Jewish-American fusion vocabulary.</p><p dir="ltr">At<a href="http://templejm.org/"> Temple Judea Mizpah</a> in Skokie, Rabbi Amy Memis-Foler was trying out words like &ldquo;Thanksgivukkah&rdquo; and &ldquo;Menurky&rdquo; (menorah-shaped turkey)&nbsp;for the first time. She said the convergence was a cosmic fluke.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Thanksgiving was formally established by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Thanksgiving would have overlapped with Hanukkah back in 1861, except for the fact that the formal Thanksgiving was not established yet. So actually, this is really the first time that it&rsquo;s overlapping, and it will not overlap again until the year 79811.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">In a nutshell, Thanksgivukkah means that never again will the chance to stuff yourself with stuffing overlap with the chance to stuff yourself with latkes, the traditional Hanukkah dish of crispy potato pancakes fried in oil and served with sour cream and applesauce.</p><p dir="ltr">At<a href="http://kaufmansdeli.com/wordpress/"> Kaufman&rsquo;s Delicatessen &amp; Bakery</a>&nbsp;around the corner from the synagogue, customers didn&rsquo;t seem the least bit intimidated by this culinary and caloric challenge.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;ll just eat more cholesterol,&rdquo; one man said with a laugh. &ldquo;You notice there are no signs here saying, &lsquo;watch your cholesterol.&rsquo;&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">But for the owners of Kaufman&rsquo;s &mdash;&nbsp;daughter-and-mother team Bette and Judy Dworkin &mdash;&nbsp;the menu questions are challenging. Hanukkah actually begins at sundown on the night before Thanksgiving and lasts eight nights. And since both holidays are major catering events for their business, they&rsquo;re trying to guess whether customers will celebrate them separately, or look for creative fusion dishes that give the holiday that once-in-a-lifetime spin.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We think,&rdquo; Bette said, &ldquo;and I&rsquo;m going to stress that we think, that people are not going to celebrate both holidays Thursday.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I hope,&rdquo; Judy added.</p><p dir="ltr">Bette said melding their menus might mean doing something different this year with her mother&rsquo;s signature turkey.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;My mother has always made turkey for family events that was made with Manischewitz wine, blackberry Manischewitz wine,&quot; she said. &quot;So we&rsquo;re going to try and brine in blackberry wine &mdash; provided it doesn&rsquo;t turn the turkey purple, &lsquo;cause that really won&rsquo;t go over really well.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Distinct from other foods important in Jewish tradition, Hanukkah foods specifically pay tribute to oil.</p><p dir="ltr">Hanukkah commemorates an event more than 2,000 years ago, when the Jews won back the temple that had been seized by their oppressors. When they re-lit their menorah, there was only enough oil to make it burn for one night, yet miraculously the oil lasted for eight nights. That&rsquo;s why Hanukkah foods, like latkes, are traditionally cooked with oil.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/thanskgivukkah%203.JPG" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Executive Chef Laura Frankel works at Chicago’s Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, which hosts a fully kosher division of Wolfgang Puck Catering. (WBEZ)" />At Chicago&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.spertus.edu/">Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership</a>, which hosts a fully<a href="http://www.spertus.edu/about/catering"> kosher division of Wolfgang Puck Catering</a>, Executive Chef Laura Frankel said that this is a great excuse to re-think the Thanksgivukkah turkey.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;So I&rsquo;m approaching it from kind of an American point of view where I&rsquo;m going to have my turkey and I&rsquo;m going to eat it too,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And I&rsquo;m still going to put it in oil because I love the oil, and that is what Hanukkah&rsquo;s all about.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">She demonstrated her suggested menu for me. Instead of a roasted turkey, she showed me how to make turkey breast schnitzel. She pounded it out thin and dredged her cutlets in panko bread crumbs flavored with fresh sage. Then she fried them up quickly in extra virgin olive oil &mdash; which, by the way, actually helps lower cholesterol.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;So it&rsquo;s golden brown on one side, and now I&rsquo;m going to flip it over,&rdquo; she said as it sizzled deliciously in the pan. &ldquo;And look how quick this is. You can basically have dinner on the table in half an hour on Thanksgiving. It&rsquo;s crispy, it&rsquo;s fried, I&rsquo;ve got my olive oil. I&rsquo;ve got my turkey thing going. I&rsquo;m an American Jew on Thanksgivukkah.&rdquo;\</p><p dir="ltr">Frankel&rsquo;s Thanksgivukkah latkes combine the traditional russet potatoes with grated sweet potato, a great fusion because sweet potatoes alone aren&rsquo;t starchy enough to hold together well. &nbsp;These she also fried in extra virgin olive oil.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Actually, I like to use duck fat too,&rdquo; she confessed. &ldquo;But you know, we&rsquo;re celebrating the miracle of the oil on Thanksgivukkah, we&rsquo;re not celebrating the miracle of the mallard.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Let&rsquo;s not forget one thing about the traditional Hanukkah latke, though: It&rsquo;s already a Jewish American fusion food.</p><p dir="ltr">You can bet that potatoes weren&rsquo;t on the menu at the first Hanukkah more than 2,000 years ago, any more than the pilgrims ate that green bean casserole with the French&rsquo;s fried onions on top at the first Thanksgiving. Potatoes were indigenous to the Americas, and didn&rsquo;t even spread to Europe until the 16th century. (Kind of like the corn the Native Americans gave the pilgrim settlers at Plymouth.)</p><p dir="ltr">The traditional Hanukkah celebration as we know it would be impossible without the discovery of the New World &mdash; a fact for which American Jews can always be thankful. For that, and for the invention of Alka-Seltzer.</p><p dir="ltr">&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;&mdash;</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/thanksgivukkah 1.JPG" style="float: left; height: 271px; width: 300px;" title="Thanksgiving meets Hanukkah on the same plate for many this year. (WBEZ)" /><strong>THANKSGIVUKKAH RECIPES&nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Here are the recipes for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cheflauraskosher.com/">Chef Laura Frankel&rsquo;s</a> suggested Thanksgivukkah dinner dishes. The sneaky secret tip she shared for both the schnitzel and the latkes is don&rsquo;t use whole eggs, just the whites. Yolks will generally impart a cakey texture to either, whereas using the whites only makes them much crispier.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Turkey Schnitzel&nbsp;</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Quick, easy and you don&rsquo;t have to wait four hours to eat your turkey.</p><p dir="ltr">Serves 8</p><ul><li>1 boneless, skinless turkey breast, cut into 1-inch-thick medallions</li><li>4 egg whites, whisked with a tablespoon of water</li><li>1 cup of flour</li><li>2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage</li><li>2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley</li><li>1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme</li><li>1 tablespoon lemon zest</li><li>2 cups panko breadcrumbs</li><li>Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper</li><li>Extra virgin olive oil for frying</li><li>Preheat oven to 350</li></ul><p>1. Place a turkey breast medallion in a plastic storage bag with a tablespoon of water (this keeps the meat from tearing) and with a mallet, pound the turkey until it is about &frac12; inch thick and even all around. Repeat with the other pieces of turkey.</p><p>2. Place the eggs whites in a large pie pan.</p><p>3. Place the flour in a pie pan.</p><p>4. Mix the fresh herbs and lemon zest with the panko breadcrumbs and place in a pie pan.</p><p>5. Heat about &frac12; inch of oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat.</p><p>6. Season each turkey schnitzel with salt and pepper.</p><p>7. Dredge the turkey schnitzel in the flour, then the egg whites and finally the seasoned panko.</p><p>8. Place the schnitzel in the hot oil, be sure not to overcrowd the pan.</p><p>9. When the schnitzel is browned on one side, carefully turn the schnitzel over and brown the other side. Transfer the browned schnitzel to a parchment lined baking sheet. Continue browning.</p><p>10. The schnitzels can be frozen at this point or stored, covered in the refrigerator for up to two days.</p><p>11. Before serving, place the schnitzels, uncovered in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes to finish cooking and to crisp back up.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>White Wine Pan Gravy</strong></p><p dir="ltr">Can&rsquo;t be Thanksgivukkah without gravy, right?</p><ul dir="ltr"><li>2 shallots, minced</li><li>2 cloves garlic, minced</li><li>&frac14; cup flour</li><li>&frac12; cup dry white wine</li><li>2 cups homemade chicken stock</li><li>1 bouquet garni of: 1 bay leaf, fresh sage, parsley stems, 1 celery rib, 1 rosemary sprig, fresh thyme sprigs</li><li>1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (optional)</li><li>Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper</li></ul><p>1. Using the same pan to cook the turkey schnitzels, drain off all but &frac14; cup of oil.</p><p>2. Return the pan to medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sweat until the shallots are translucent.</p><p>3. Add the flour and cook in the fat for 3 minutes to get rid of the raw flour flavor.</p><p>4. Add the white wine and stir constantly. Allow the alcohol to burn off (about 1 minute). Add the chicken stock and whisk.</p><p>5. Add the bouquet garni and dried mushrooms if using and reduce the heat to a simmer.</p><p>6. Simmer for 15 minutes, pour the gravy through a strainer and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Apple-cranberry ginger sauce</strong></p><p dir="ltr">This is a beautiful garnet-colored tart applesauce. It is a perfect complement for the crispy latkes. The addition of ginger adds a deep citrus spice flavor that balances the vegetables in the latke.</p><ul dir="ltr"><li>6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped</li><li>1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries</li><li>1/3 cup sugar</li><li>1 whole cinnamon stick</li><li>2 teaspoons chopped crystallized ginger</li><li>&frac12; cup apple cider or juice</li><li>Pinch of kosher salt</li></ul><p>1. Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook uncovered over medium heat until the cranberries pop. Continue cooking until the excess moisture evaporates.</p><p>2. Remove the cinnamon stick and stir to combine.</p><p>3. The applesauce may be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to one week or frozen for up to 2 months.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Chef Laura&#39;s latkes</strong></p><p dir="ltr">I like really crispy latkes that are only slightly creamy inside. I don&rsquo;t use yolks in my batter as egg yolks make dough and batters tender. Egg whites hold the ingredients together but don&rsquo;t make it soft or cakey.</p><ul dir="ltr"><li>2 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and shredded (after shredding the potatoes, place them in a large bowl with ice water - they won&rsquo;t oxidize and turn rust colored)</li><li>Extra virgin olive oil for frying</li><li>1 large Spanish onion, peeled and grated</li><li>3 egg whites, beaten with a whisk until frothy</li><li>3-6 tablespoons flour</li><li>1 cup shredded sweet potatoes</li><li>2 teaspoon kosher salt</li><li>1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper</li></ul><p>1. Place the shredded potatoes in a large clean towel and squeeze out all of the moisture; make sure the potatoes are completely dry.</p><p>2. Place all of the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and add the potatoes. Mix all of the ingredients together until thoroughly combined.</p><p>3. Heat a large skillet with 1&frac12; inches of oil. Drop spoonfuls of latke batter into the oil. Flatten it slightly with the back of a spoon. Brown the latkes on both sides. Remove to a platter lined with paper towels.</p><p>4. To re-heat: Place the latkes on a cookie sheet and heat in a 400 degree oven until hot.</p><p><em>Nina Barrett is a James Beard Award-winning food contributor. Follow her on her blog, <a href="http://fearoffrying.ninabarrett.com/">Fear of Frying</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 20 Nov 2013 16:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/fear-frying-culinary-nightmares/turkey-and-latkes-share-same-plate-unique-thanksgivukkah Oysters were the 'peanuts of the 19th century' http://www.wbez.org/series/fear-frying-culinary-nightmares/oysters-were-peanuts-19th-century-109100 <p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Oysters 1871 (5)-scr.JPG" style="float: left; height: 533px; width: 400px;" title="Shuckers prepare oysters at GT Fish &amp; Oyster. (Nina Barrett)" />Today when we think of an oyster bar, we think of a place like <a href="http://gtoyster.com/">GT Fish &amp; Oyster</a> on North Wells Street.</p><p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s the kind of place where over the course of a year, connoisseurs can sample 90 different varieties of oysters on the half-shell, and the only guy you can pour out your troubles to is a shucker.</p><p dir="ltr">On a recent afternoon, though, guests were being asked to imagine an era in Chicago history when an oyster bar was more like &mdash; well, your average guy&rsquo;s bar.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Back in 1871 when the fire happened, there were hundreds and hundreds of saloons, and lots of what we might call microbreweries today. And at those breweries, they would serve oysters,&rdquo; said Sean O&rsquo;Scannlain, president and CEO of Fortune Fish Company, which supplies fresh seafood to many of Chicago&rsquo;s finer retailers and dining establishments. &ldquo;It was a good appetizer and certainly one that would encourage people to drink a little bit more.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">O&rsquo;Scannlain&nbsp;said oysters were the peanuts of the 19th century &mdash; a salty bar snack saloons sold cheaply or even gave away to get their customers to drink more beer.</p><p dir="ltr">And this particular bit of history is personal to O&rsquo;Scannlain, whose family has survived for five generations by adapting to Chicago&rsquo;s ever-changing food-and-drink scene.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;My great-great-grandfather, a man named Peter Fortune, came to the United States from Ireland,&rdquo; O&rsquo;Scannlain&nbsp; said.</p><p dir="ltr">Having learned a thing or two working at Guinness in Dublin, Fortune and his brother John started a business in Chicago called the Fortune Brothers Brewery. And besides beer expertise, the Fortune Brothers apparently came equipped with a bit of that famous &ldquo;luck o&rsquo; the Irish.&rdquo; While the Great Fire of 1871 wiped out the area once known as &ldquo;Brewtown,&rdquo; it literally skipped right over Fortune Brothers. The company even managed to stay afloat during Prohibition. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;At that time my relatives made pasta,&rdquo; O&rsquo;Scannlain said. &ldquo;Spaghetti, macaroni, all these Irish guys making Italian pasta. I can&rsquo;t vouch for the quality, but that&rsquo;s how they managed to get through Prohibition. Now I don&rsquo;t know what they were doing without the authorities looking, but at least to the general public we were a pasta company back then.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">In other words, pasta was their story, and they stuck to it. Because the third gift the Fortune Brothers brought with them to America was the famous Irish gift for storytelling. That was on display at GT Fish &amp; Oyster, where Fortune Fish was serving up heaping platters of its newly launched <a href="http://www.old1871.com/">Old 1871 Oyster</a>, along with an extremely charming story about how the Old 1871 came to be. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The day before the Great Chicago Fire, said Fortune&rsquo;s marketing director Mark Palicki, there was another huge fire down on Randolph Street, and most of the city&rsquo;s firefighters had spent the day battling that. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;And what do they do after the fire? They go drink a couple beers and have a bunch of oysters, and then they sleep it off and wake up and what do they go into? The Chicago Fire of 1871.</p><p dir="ltr">Palicki said the company spent two years working with oyster farmers in Virginia to develop the kind of plumper, meatier-style oyster that would have been served up back in the time of the Great Fire. You might even call it: manly. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;What&rsquo;s going on right now in the oyster world is they&rsquo;re growing smaller, petite, they&rsquo;re cocktail oysters,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And since this is a 3-inch oyster, it&rsquo;s a little bigger than what the normal oyster is right now.&rdquo; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Chef James Ross, who was sampling them, thinks the Old 1871 really is an oyster with some regular-guy potential. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;So many people are, it&rsquo;s TOO seafoody for them,&rdquo; Ross said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s too soft for them. It&rsquo;s almost snotty -- I hate to use that word.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Did you just say what I think you said?&rdquo; I asked.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I said snotty,&rdquo; Ross replied. &ldquo;Some people are freaked out by that. But these oysters just have such a nice texture to them. It&rsquo;s a good training-wheel oyster. But it&rsquo;s also an oyster that a connoisseur would eat and say, yes, I think that covers every single base.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The bit about the firefighters was a big hit, too. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;And also the story behind 1871,&rdquo; said GT Fish &amp; Oyster Executive Chef Giuseppe Tentori. &ldquo;These oysters represent Chicago, bottom line. So these oysters here ... GT will have ALWAYS on the menu.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">That history, by the way, is a little bit fishy. The oyster taverns and the fire before the Great Chicago Fire really did exist, but when pressed about the bit where the firefighters go out to fight the Great Fire all stoked up on Old 1871-style oysters, Mark Palicki started to get a little &hellip; slippery. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I am guessing that some firemen on that day probably did do that, with what was going on in Chicago at that time,&rdquo; Palicki said. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;But you&rsquo;re just &mdash; guessing,&rdquo; I said.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Correct,&rdquo; Palicki said. &ldquo;But I&rsquo;m bettin&rsquo; you it happened. If I could go in a time machine back to that day, I bet there are some firemen sitting in a saloon drinkin&rsquo; beer and eatin&rsquo; oysters.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;That&rsquo;s your story and you&rsquo;re sticking to it,&rdquo; I said.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;That&rsquo;s my story and I&rsquo;m sticking to it,&rdquo; Palicki replied.</p><p dir="ltr">Well, that&rsquo;s okay. Because everybody knows that the best way to slurp an oyster on the half shell is just to tip your head back, and swallow it whole. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Correction: This article has been updated with the correct spelling of the Fortune Fish Company president and CEO&#39;s last name.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Nina Barrett is a James Beard Award-winning food contributor. Follow her on her <a href="http://fearoffrying.ninabarrett.com/">blog</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 06 Nov 2013 17:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/fear-frying-culinary-nightmares/oysters-were-peanuts-19th-century-109100 Lentils key role in historically bad business deal http://www.wbez.org/series/fear-frying-culinary-nightmares/lentils-key-role-historically-bad-business-deal-108924 <p><p>Lentils are actually one of the first foods to show up in Western literature. The Bible&rsquo;s Old Testament tells us they played a dramatic role in the sibling rivalry of Abraham&rsquo;s grandsons in what may have been the dumbest business deal. Ever.</p><p>I don&rsquo;t think you have to dislike lentils as much as I do to be puzzled by that factoid, which appears in every historical description of these little legumes: Esau traded his entire birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew.</p><p>Esau and Jacob, you may remember, were the sons of Isaac, and grandsons of Abraham.</p><p>&ldquo;So when Esau comes home from hunting, he&rsquo;s very hungry, and his brother Jacob is making this lentil stew, and he says, &lsquo;Gimme some of that red stuff!&rsquo; &rdquo; explained University of Chicago biblical scholar Jeffrey Stackert, who helped me make sense of this story.</p><p>&ldquo;Jacob sees it as an opportunity. He says, &lsquo;Ok, but trade me your birthright for the stew.&rsquo;&nbsp; And Esau says, &lsquo;Yeah, whatever.&rsquo; And Jacob says, &lsquo;Swear to me.&rsquo; And so he swears,&rdquo; Stackert said.<br /><br />Now either this is the most extraordinary bowl of lentil soup ever served, or this was a business deal of monumental stupidity. Bingo, said Stackert.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/lentils%202%20stackert.jpg" style="float: right; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="University of Chicago biblical scholar Jeffrey Stackert tries out a bowl of lentil soup. (Photo by Nina Barrett)" />Far from being an endorsement of the yumminess of lentils, the real point of the story is to explain how Esau&rsquo;s descendants, the Edomites, became known as simpletons.</p><p>&ldquo;Therefore, his name was called EDOM, which is the same word, with a slightly different vocalization, as &lsquo;the red stuff,&rsquo; which shows up twice earlier in the verse,&rdquo; Stackert said. &ldquo;... It&rsquo;s a folk etymology for the name of the Edomites, and a little play on words.&rdquo;<br /><br />Kind of like: Hey dude, how dumb was Esau, father of the Edomites? So dumb he traded his birthright for a bowl of red lentil soup.<br /><br />But you still have to wonder how good that original bowl of soup really was. How good are lentils, ever?</p><p>Professor Stackert shared my skepticism: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s true, I&rsquo;m not the biggest fan of lentils&hellip; I&rsquo;m a bit of a finicky eater.&rdquo;<br /><br />So I scoured the Chicago restaurant scene for a restaurant that might be able to change our shared opinion about lentils. Pars Cove, a Persian restaurant in Chicago&rsquo;s Lincoln Park neighborhood, has a vocal fan base of Yelpers who rave about the lentil soup. Max Pars, the owner, said lentils are as much a staple ingredient in Iranian cuisine today as they were to the ancient Israelites in biblical times.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s nutritious, it&rsquo;s healthy, it has protein,&rdquo; Pars said. &ldquo;And a lot of people they eat unhealthy food, and this is one of the good things I can do for them.&rdquo;<br /><br />His recipe came from an Iranian friend, and it&rsquo;s been on the menu for most of the 36 years he&rsquo;s been in business.</p><p>&ldquo;Gourmet magazine, several times they were after me, they wanted the recipe for the soup,&rdquo; Pars said.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">But the only thing Max Pars is ever going to divulge about his secret recipe is that he buys the finest ingredients he can find.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;If you have the best one, why should you put makeup on it?&rdquo;</div><p>Then the soup arrived.<br /><br />&ldquo;Oh&hellip;so this is it,&rdquo; I said, as I took a bite.</p><p>&ldquo; It&rsquo;s very good!&rdquo; Stackert said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s better than I&rsquo;ve had in the past.&rdquo;<br /><br />The Yelpers are right. It&rsquo;s light and velvety, delicately laced with cumin, garlic and other fresh vegetables. And the best thing about it is, you don&rsquo;t have to sell your birthright for it. Because at Pars Cove, the lentil soup always comes free with the rest of your dinner.</p><p><em><a href="http://fearoffrying.ninabarrett.com/" target="_blank">Nina Barrett</a> is a James Beard Award-winning food contributor.</em></p></p> Tue, 15 Oct 2013 11:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/fear-frying-culinary-nightmares/lentils-key-role-historically-bad-business-deal-108924 Bloody red fruit plays key role in Greek myth, modern customs http://www.wbez.org/series/fear-frying-culinary-nightmares/bloody-red-fruit-plays-key-role-greek-myth-modern-customs <p><p>Once on a New Year&rsquo;s Eve, I happened to be at Taxim, a Greek restaurant in Wicker Park. At midnight, chef David Schneider came striding out of the kitchen and hurled a pomegranate to the floor, where it exploded like a blood-red bomb.</p><p>&ldquo;The juice and seeds spread everywhere,&rdquo; Schneider said. &ldquo;And I always have someone who&rsquo;s not suspecting it, and they get a little of the juice on them, and I tell them, (chuckles) &lsquo;This is good luck, you&rsquo;ll have a good New Year!&rsquo;&rdquo;<br /><br />Today, most of us know pomegranates for their supposedly powerful antioxidant properties. But if you look back in time, for Greeks as far back as Homer&rsquo;s day, those little ruby juice pouches inside the fruit have had even more powerful properties, Schneider said.</p><p>Persephone was chosen for her beauty by Hades to join her in the Underworld as his wife, and he kidnapped her away. Her mother, Demeter, was the goddess of grain and the harvest. Her grief made the whole Earth grow cold and barren. Mankind was on the verge of starving to death.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7384_Pomegranate%20Story%202012%20%2811%29-lpr.JPG" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Chef David Schneider of Taxim demonstrates how to get the seeds from a pomegranate without creating a bloody mess. (WBEZ/Nina Barrett)" />But then Zeus, who saw that he was about to lose his entire human constituency, gave in and ordered Hades to give Persephone back.</div><p>&ldquo;But he enticed her to eat a little pomegranate prior to her departure from Hades,&rdquo; Schneider said.<br /><br />Zeus said if Persephone had eaten anything while in the Underworld, she&rsquo;d have to stay down there as the wife of Hades forever. But since in this case it had only been a few seeds of the pomegranate, she would only have to go back a few months of every year.</p><p>Since then, every time she goes back for another Date from Hell, her mother gets a case of Seasonal Affective Disorder and makes the earth go barren, which we call: winter.</p><p>To this day, Schneider said, the pomegranate continues to play all kinds of symbolic roles for Greeks.</p><p>&ldquo;Modern customs will have the idea of good luck and prosperity with the seeds &mdash; there&rsquo;s supposedly 365 seeds in the pomegranate, plus or minus a few,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>&ldquo;Have you ever counted?&rdquo; I asked.</p><p>&ldquo;No,&rdquo; Schneider said with a chuckle. &ldquo;Could be, could not&hellip;&rdquo;<br /><br />Another custom involves a memorial food that&rsquo;s shared in honor of the dead.<br /><br />&ldquo;This is something we did for my father,&rdquo; Schneider said. &ldquo;When we had his memorial, we made koliva. We boil the wheat, we mix it with cinnamon, nuts, and raisins, and cover it with pomegranate seeds. And you cover it with sugar, and it&rsquo;s something you offer to his memory at the cemetery.&rdquo;<br /><br />While getting the seeds out of a pomegranate can be intimidating, Schneider was just as comfortable with a pomegranate as he would be with a peach.</p><p>First, he filled a bowl with water. Then he scored the skin of the fruit with a sharp knife from tip to tip and plunged it into the bowl of water. The cuts made it easy to break the fruit apart with his hands. He gently pulled out the seeds, which look like cranberry-colored corn kernels, with his fingers. The bits of membrane that had come loose with the seeds floated to the top of the water, and Schneider scooped those out with ease and discarded them.</p><p>And there was no bloody mess.</p><p>&ldquo;Can we taste one?&rdquo; I asked. We each tried some of jewel-like seeds.<br />&ldquo;That&rsquo;s the seed crunching,&rdquo; Schneider said.<br />&ldquo;They&rsquo;re delicious!&rdquo; I replied.<br /><br />By the way, Schneider actually counted for me, and it looks like the Greeks might be taking a teeny bit of poetic license with that idea about the 365 seeds.<br /><br />Schneider stopped counting at 365, and he had half of a pomegranate left. There were two years of seeds in there.<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br />And for the record, of course I didn&rsquo;t end up staying at Taxim for a whole season after I ate the seeds. Though I have to say, when Schneider started telling me about his duck gyros with pomegranate sauce, I was pretty darn tempted.</p><p><em><a href="http://fearoffrying.ninabarrett.com/" target="_blank">Nina Barrett</a> is a WBEZ food contributor. </em><em>Jian Chung Lee produced this story.</em></p></p> Wed, 09 Oct 2013 12:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/fear-frying-culinary-nightmares/bloody-red-fruit-plays-key-role-greek-myth-modern-customs Your 2013 James Beard Book, Broadcast and Journalism Award winners http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2013-05/your-2013-james-beard-book-broadcast-and-journalism-award-winners-107024 <p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sulasquirrelburgoo.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Forrest Turner's Burgoo with squirrel by Mike Sula at Soup &amp; Bread &amp; Pie 2012, The Hideout in Chicago (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)" /></p><p>The <a href="http://www.jamesbeard.org/awards"><u>James Beard Foundation</u></a> 2013 media awards presented Friday night in New York City included two notable recipients from Chicago.</p><p>Congratulations to WBEZ&#39;s very own <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/fear-frying-culinary-nightmares"><u><em>Fear of Frying</em></u></a>&nbsp;on winning best Radio Show/Audio Webcast with host Nina Barrett and producer Lynette Kalsnes. Read and hear this year&#39;s award-winning episodes, &quot;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/fear-frying-culinary-nightmares/grrls-meat-camp-teaches-women-fine-art-and-craft-butchering"><u>Grrls&#39; Meat Camp teaches women fine art and craft of butchering</u></a>&quot; and &quot;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/frying/braving-stinkiest-cheeses-100758"><u>Braving the stinkiest of the cheeses: The lighter side of Limburger</u></a>&quot;.</p><p>Mike Sula of the <em>Chicago Reader</em> received&nbsp;the prestigious MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award for his story &quot;<a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/why-eating-squirrels-makes-sense/Content?oid=7215952"><u>Chicken of the Trees</u></a>&quot; about eating city squirrels. This was Sula&#39;s third nomination and first win. Well-deserved and long overdue to one of the finest food writers in the world today.</p><p>The chef and restaurant Beard winners will be announced Monday night.</p><p>Find the complete list of book, broadcast, and media award winners below, exclusively here with painstakingly added links. (I don&#39;t understand why the JBF never includes links.)</p><p><strong>2013 James Beard Foundation Book Awards</strong></p><p>For cookbooks published in English in 2012.</p><p><strong>Cookbook of the Year</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393050696?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=0393050696&amp;tag=lklchu-20"><u><em>Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America</em></u></a></p><p>by Maricel E. Presilla (W.W. Norton &amp; Company)</p><p><strong>Cookbook Hall of Fame</strong></p><p>Anne Willan</p><p><strong>American Cooking</strong><br /><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1423602757?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=1423602757&amp;tag=lklchu-20"><u><em>Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking</em></u></a><br />by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart (Gibbs Smith)</p><p><strong>Baking and Dessert</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/160774273X?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=160774273X&amp;tag=lklchu-20"><u><em>Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza</em></u></a></p><p>by Ken Forkish (Ten Speed Press)</p><p><strong>Beverage</strong><br /><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0062206362?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=0062206362&amp;tag=lklchu-20"><u><em>Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavors</em></u></a><br />by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, and José Vouillamoz (Ecco)</p><p><strong>Cooking From a Professional Point of View</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.restaurant-toque.com/en/Book.php"><u><em>Toqué! Creators of a New Quebec Gastronomy</em></u></a><br />by Normand Laprise (les éditions du passage)</p><p><strong>Focus on Health</strong><br /><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0848734688?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=0848734688&amp;tag=lklchu-20"><u><em>Cooking Light The New Way to Cook Light: Fresh Food &amp; Bold Flavors for Today&rsquo;s Home Cook</em></u></a><br />by Scott Mowbray and Ann Taylor Pittman (Oxmoor House)</p><p><strong>General Cooking</strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1449421474?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=1449421474&amp;tag=lklchu-20"><u><em>Canal House Cooks Every Day</em></u></a><br />by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer (Andrews McMeel Publishing)</p><p><strong>International</strong><br /><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1607743949?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=1607743949&amp;tag=lklchu-20"><u><em>Jerusalem: A Cookbook</em></u></a><br />by Yotam Ottolenghi &amp; Sami Tamimi (Ten Speed Press)</p><p><strong>Photography</strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0670026182?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=0670026182&amp;tag=lklchu-20"><u><em>What Katie Ate: Recipes and Other Bits &amp; Pieces</em></u></a><br />Photographer: Katie Quinn Davies (Viking Studio)</p><p><strong>Reference and Scholarship</strong><br /><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/160358286X?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=160358286X&amp;tag=lklchu-20"><u><em>The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World</em></u></a><br />by Sandor Ellix Katz (Chelsea Green Publishing)</p><p><strong>Single Subject</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1607743329?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=1607743329&amp;tag=lklchu-20"><u><em>Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard</em></u></a><br />by Nigel Slater (Ten Speed Press)</p><p><strong>Vegetable Focused and Vegetarian</strong><br /><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0811878376?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=0811878376&amp;tag=lklchu-20"><u><em>Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More Than 225 Recipes</em></u></a><br />by Diane Morgan (Chronicle Books)</p><p><strong>Writing and Literature</strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385342608?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=0385342608&amp;tag=lklchu-20"><u><em>Yes, Chef: A Memoir</em></u></a><br />by Marcus Samuelsson (Random House)</p><p><strong>2013 James Beard Foundation Broadcast and New Media Awards</strong><br />For television, webcast, and radio programs aired in 2012.</p><p><strong>Radio Show/Audio Webcast</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/fear-frying-culinary-nightmares"><u><em>Fear of Frying</em></u></a></p><p>Host: <a href="http://fearoffrying.ninabarrett.com/"><u>Nina Barrett</u></a><br />Area: WBEZ<br />Producer: <a href="https://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes"><u>Lynette Kalsnes</u></a></p><p><strong>Special/Documentary&nbsp;(Television or Video Webcast)</strong><br /><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GFELAA?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=B004GFELAA&amp;tag=lklchu-20"><u><em>The Restaurateur</em></u></a><br />Network: PBS<br />Producer: Roger Sherman</p><p><strong>Television Program, In Studio or Fixed Location</strong><a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3445_162-7076267.html"><u><em>CBS Sunday Morning: &ldquo;Eat, Drink and Be Merry&rdquo;</em></u></a><br />Host: Charles Osgood<br />Network: CBS<br />Producers: Gavin Boyle, Amol Mhatre, Rand Morrison, Amy Rosner, Jason Sacca, and Robin Sanders</p><p><strong>Television Program, On Location</strong><br /><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AK51NYW?ie=UTF8&amp;creativeASIN=B00AK51NYW&amp;tag=lklchu-20"><u><em>The Mind of a Chef</em></u></a><br />Host: Anthony Bourdain<br />Network: PBS<br />Producers: Anthony Bourdain, Joe Caterini, Alexandra Chaden, Jonathan Cianfrani, Christopher Collins, Peter Meehan, Michael Steed, and Lydia Tenaglia</p><p><strong>Television Segment</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.whyy.org/tv12/fridayarts/artoffood.html"><u><em>Friday Arts, Art of Food</em></u></a></p><p>Network: WHYY</p><p>TV Producer: Monica Rogozinski</p><p><strong>Video Webcast, Fixed Location and/or Instructional</strong><br /><a href="http://liquor.com/search-results/?q=How%20to%20Cocktail"><u><em>How to Cocktail</em></u></a><br />liquor.com<br />Producers: Kit Codik, Scott Kritz, and Noah Rothbaum</p><p><strong>Video Webcast, On Location</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.theperennialplate.com/"><u><em>The Perennial Plate: Real Food World Tour</em></u></a></p><p>theperennialplate.com<br />Hosts: Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine<br />Producers: Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine</p><p><strong>Outstanding Personality/Host</strong><br />Host: Andrew Zimmern<br />Show: <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/bizarre-foods"><u><em>Bizarre Foods America</em></u></a><br />Network: Travel Channel<br />Producers: Colleen Needles Steward, and Andrew Zimmern</p><p><strong>2013 James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards</strong>For articles published in English in 2012.</p><p><strong>Publication of the Year Award</strong><br /><u><em><a href="http://www.chopchopmag.org/">ChopChop</a></em></u></p><p><strong>Cooking, Recipes, or Instruction</strong>Matt Goulding, Matthew Kadey with Tamar Adler, and Paul Kita<br /><em>Men&rsquo;s Health</em><br />&ldquo;<u><a href="http://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/butcher-back">The Butcher is Back!</a>,</u>&rdquo; &ldquo;<a href="http://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/no-cook-summer-meals"><u>The Six-Pack Foods of Summer</u></a>,&rdquo; &ldquo;<a href="http://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/southern-food-rises"><u>Southern Food Rises Again</u></a>&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review Award</strong><br />Tejal Rao<br /><em>Village Voice</em><br />&ldquo;<a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2012-06-13/restaurants/pok-pok-ny-brooklyn-bangkok-andy-ricker/full/"><u>Bangkok Pop, No Fetishes</u></a>,&rdquo; &ldquo;<a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2012-05-16/restaurants/pastry-chef-elwyn-boyles-conjures-desserts-in-the-sky/full/"><u>The Sweet Taste of Success</u></a>,&rdquo; &ldquo;<a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2012-09-26/restaurants/enter-the-comfort-zone-at-606-r-amp-d/full/"><u>Enter the Comfort Zone at 606 R&amp;D</u></a>&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Food and Culture</strong>Ann Taylor Pittman<br /><em>Cooking Light</em><br />&ldquo;<a href="http://www.cookinglight.com/food/world-cuisine/ann-pittman-journey-to-korea-00412000078776/"><u>Mississippi Chinese Lady Goes Home to Korea</u></a>&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Food and Travel</strong><br />Adam Sachs<br /><em>Travel + Leisure</em><br />&ldquo;<a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/copenhagen-denmark-europes-best-town-for-foodies"><u>The Best Little Eating Town in Europe</u></a>&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Food Coverage in a General-Interest Publication</strong><a href="http://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/"><u><em>Men&rsquo;s Health</em></u></a><br />Adina Steiman</p><p><strong>Food Politics, Policy, and The Environment</strong><br />Tracie McMillan<br /><em>The American Prospect</em> with the Food &amp; Environment Reporting Network</p><p>&ldquo;<a href="http://prospect.org/article/common-dirt-0"><u><em>As Common As Dirt</em></u></a>&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Food-Related Columns</strong>Adam Sachs<br /><em>Bon Appétit</em><br />The Obsessivore: &ldquo;<a href="http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/badaily/2012/04/adam-sachs-yakitori-restaurant.html"><u>I&#39;m Big On Japan</u></a>,&rdquo; &ldquo;<a href="http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/badaily/2012/08/pete-wells-frank-bruni-critic.html"><u>Everyone&rsquo;s a Critic</u></a>,&rdquo; &ldquo;<a href="http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/badaily/2012/04/dear-obsessivore-jrson-we-are.html"><u>The Tradition Starts Here</u></a>&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Group Food Blog</strong><br /><em>Dark Rye</em><br /><u><a href="http://www.darkrye.com/">darkrye.com</a></u></p><p><strong>Health and Well-Being</strong>Rachael Moeller Gorman<br /><em>Eating Well</em><br />&ldquo;<a href="http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/the_truth_about_sugar"><u>Solving the Sugar Puzzle</u></a>&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Humor</strong><br />Alice Laussade<br /><em>Dallas Observer</em><br />&ldquo;<a href="http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/cityofate/2012/04/the_cheap_bastards_ultimate_gu.php?page=all"><u>The Cheap Bastard&rsquo;s Ultimate Guide to Eating like a Total Cheap Bastard in Dallas</u></a>&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Individual Food Blog</strong><em>Hunter Angler Gardener Cook</em><br /><a href="http://honest-food.net/"><u>honest-food.net</u></a></p><p>Hank Shaw</p><p><strong>MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award</strong><br /><a href="https://twitter.com/MikeSula"><u>Mike Sula</u></a><br /><em>Chicago Reader</em><br />&ldquo;<a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/why-eating-squirrels-makes-sense/Content?oid=7215952"><u>Chicken of the Trees</u></a>&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Personal Essay</strong>Fuchsia Dunlop<br /><em>Lucky Peach</em><br />&ldquo;<a href="http://lky.ph/post/49261745544/fuchsia-dunlop-londons-chinatown"><u>London Town</u></a>&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Profile</strong><br />Brett Martin<br /><em>GQ</em><br />&ldquo;<a href="http://www.gq.com/food-travel/restaurants-and-bars/201212/danny-bowien-interview-mission-chinese-profile"><u>Danny and the Electric Kung Pao Pastrami Test</u></a>&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Visual Storytelling</strong>Michele Outland and Fiorella Valdesolo<br /><a href="http://www.gatherjournal.com/"><u><em>Gather Journal</em></u></a><br />&ldquo;Starters,&rdquo; &ldquo;Dessert,&rdquo; &ldquo;Smoke &amp; Ash&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Wine, Spirits, and Other Beverages</strong><br />Michael Steinberger</p><p>vanityfair.com<br />&ldquo;<a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2012/07/wine-fraud-rudy-kurniawan-vintage-burgundies"><u>A Vintage Crime</u></a>&rdquo;</p></p> Mon, 06 May 2013 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/louisa-chu/2013-05/your-2013-james-beard-book-broadcast-and-journalism-award-winners-107024 Grrls' Meat Camp teaches women fine art and craft of butchering http://www.wbez.org/series/fear-frying-culinary-nightmares/grrls-meat-camp-teaches-women-fine-art-and-craft-butchering <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Kate%20Hill%20%28L%29%2C%20Erika%20Nakamura%20%28Center%29%20and%20Kari%20Underly%20%28R%29%20size%20up%20the%20hog..JPG" title="Kate Hill, Erika Nakamura and Kari Underly size up the hog. (Photo by Nina Barrett)" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F65723579&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>You might remember making lanyards and mosaic trivets at camp, but at Grrls&rsquo; Meat Camp in northwest suburban Volo, Ill., the Saturday morning activity was Whole Carcass Utilization.</p><div><br />The carcass in question was a 205-pound hog who began the morning stretched out on its back on a picnic table. It had already been emptied of guts, so the first order of business was to saw off its legs, as well as its most distinctively piggy part.<br /><br />&ldquo;What are we gonna do with the head?&rdquo; asked Chicago butcher Kari Underly. &ldquo;Does anybody have some things they want to do with the head? I know you mentioned some head bacon?&rdquo;<br /><br />It&rsquo;s not often that women who work with meat get to, well, meet up. Female butchers are few and far between. And if you want to become one, you have to carve out your own opportunities.<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Pig%20head%2C%20with%20butchers..JPG" style="float: left; width: 385px; margin: 5px; height: 288px; " title="(Photo by Nina Barrett)" />That&rsquo;s why 16 far-flung women packed up their knives, their cleavers, their sausage casings, and a number of lovingly cured prosciuttos and salamis for Meat Camp.<br /><br />For most of the morning, the severed pig&rsquo;s head continued to sit on the picnic table, appearing to watch the campers as they went about turning the rest of the carcass into products you might feel more a little more enthusiastic about finding in your local market.<br /><br />Kate Hill stood at another picnic table literally up to her elbows in pork that had already been put through the meat grinder, and asked someone, &ldquo;Could you pull up my sleeve?&rdquo;<br /><br />She was gently squishing it up the way you do when you make meatloaf, except she was making paté. Hill teaches charcuterie at her house in the south of France, including visits to local farms to see how the meat she works with was raised. &nbsp;<br /><br />Meat Camp was her idea: &ldquo;To get together, to share experiences and learn, and you can see there&rsquo;s a spirit of sharing and showing and telling what you do and how you do it, and that&rsquo;s the premise of it,&rdquo; Hill said. &ldquo;I wanted to keep it fun and light, and that&rsquo;s why I called it Grrrls Meat Camp, instead of something serious, like A Conference about Women and Meat.&rdquo;<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Kate%20Hill%20makes%20pate.JPG" style="height: 375px; width: 280px; margin: 5px; float: left; " title="Kate Hill makes pate. (Photo by Nina Barrett)" />It IS fun and light. But it&rsquo;s also a unique educational opportunity if you happen to enjoy poking around inside a dead animal with a knife. Over at another picnic table, Chicago butcher Kari Underly helped one camper identify and remove the pig&rsquo;s eye of round.<br /><br /><strong>UNDERLY:</strong>&nbsp;So we&rsquo;re gonna grab the knife, and it&rsquo;s gonna start here, so let&rsquo;s release right there.&nbsp;So what are you feeling right now when you&rsquo;re doing this?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>CAMPER:</strong> It&rsquo;s like, yeah, you can tell where it wants to release a little bit, and that&rsquo;s normal?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>UNDERLY:</strong> It&rsquo;s okay today</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>(THEY BOTH LAUGH)<br /><br />Underly, who helped organize Meat Camp, is something of a rockstar among American butchers. She&rsquo;s most famous in meat circles for winning an online video contest called &ldquo;Who&rsquo;s Your Butcher?&rdquo; and for her recent James Beard Award-nominated book, The Art of Beef Cutting.<br /><br />Both her grandfather and father were butchers who practiced an artisanal craft that&rsquo;s been nearly wiped out by the industrialization of meat. Her father&rsquo;s shop got put out of business by competition from big-box retailers.<br /><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div>&ldquo;I saw what it was like when my dad came home from work after hanging beef changed to box beef and how it changed something within his soul,&rdquo; Underly said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s like, I wanna bring THAT back to the community. At the core of my heart is training and education, and I have a dream, and I&rsquo;m working on a business plan opening up a school to bring the trade back &hellip; teach them the economics, teach them what to do with the fat, with the jowls, so we&#39;re not going to waste, and they can go back in other environments and build businesses.&quot;<br /><br />There were other lessons these women were learning from that hog carcass, as it went piece by piece into sausage casings and the smoker and the paté molds.<br /><br />For Lilly Baker, who used to work on a goat farm before moving to Chicago, breaking down the pig was one more step in the evolution of her thinking about meat-eating.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been vegetarian in the past,&rdquo; Baker said. &ldquo;And after being around domestic animals, and participating in the slaughter, and now the breakdown, and seeing how that animal really turns into a finished food product, I definitely have a lot more respect for that myself. And I&rsquo;m more comfortable eating meat that I know has been respected at all points in the process, from when it was born to when it ended up on my table, and maybe less comfortable eating meat that wasn&rsquo;t treated in that manner.&rdquo;<br /><br />And for Rachel Miller, the sous-chef at a super-hip restaurant in Cambridge, Mass., called Bondir, the lesson was about something else. She relished the all-chick vibe.<br /><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Meat%20Camp%20charcuterie%20board.JPG" style="float: right; height: 300px; width: 400px; " title="" /></div><strong>&quot;</strong>I love it,&quot; Miller said. &quot;It&rsquo;s a lot more comfortable. I hate to end up sounding sexist on the other end of it, but, it IS a man&rsquo;s world, in the butchering and the cooking. It&rsquo;s been hard enough findin&rsquo; short-order cooking jobs as a girl. That&rsquo;s what I really love about the energy here, is that it&rsquo;s not domineering, it&rsquo;s not a pissing contest, which gets really old.&quot;<br /><br />What Miller was learning at Meat Camp had everything to do with the sustainability of the butcher &mdash;especially the female butcher.<br /><br />&ldquo;Butchering is not about being strong, about carrying 150 pounds,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s about being smart. It&rsquo;s about knowing where to cut to save yourself the energy. And if you put your knife in the right spot, you can yield the same amount of meat, you can make the same amount of money as any big burly dude.&quot;</div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 01 Nov 2012 13:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/fear-frying-culinary-nightmares/grrls-meat-camp-teaches-women-fine-art-and-craft-butchering Braving the stinkiest of the cheeses http://www.wbez.org/frying/braving-stinkiest-cheeses-100758 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6007_Limburger Cheese 066-scr_0.JPG" style="height: 450px; width: 600px; margin: 5px;" title="At Baumgartner's, Limburger sandwiches come with a free side of jokes. (Photo by Nina Barrett)" /></div><p style="text-align: left;">A few years ago on a trip to Germany, my husband convinced me to get on a train to the town of Limburg and look for people to talk to about Limburger cheese. Limburger has always been the most hilarious of the cheeses, stinky enough to knock down comedians like Abbott and Costello with a single whiff.</p></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div><p>But the thing about Limburger, said my husband, who lived in Germany for 20 years and knows a lot of stuff like this, is that it doesn&rsquo;t <em>have</em> to smell and taste like sweaty gym socks. &ldquo;In Germany,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;they sell it freshly made when it&rsquo;s mild and delicious, almost like brie! You could go talk to some farmers or cheese-mongers and do a story on, like, the Lighter Side of Limburger!&rdquo;</p><p>And so I jumped on a train and spent an hour wandering the quaint streets of Limburg, with all my recording equipment at the ready. But something seemed seriously amiss. There were pastry shops and grocers, dress shops, china shops, candle shops, even a French chocolate shop &mdash; but no sign, anywhere, of cheese.</p><p>How could this be, I wondered? Surely no matter how bad it smells, how off-putting it might be to tourists from less cheese-friendly countries, they couldn&rsquo;t be hiding all the Limburger cheese in Limburg!</p><p>Finally I stopped into a boutique whisky shop and asked the owner why I couldn&rsquo;t find so much as a lump of Limburger cheese in Limburg:</p><p>&quot;Because Limburger cheese is not a product from Germany, it&rsquo;s a product from the Netherlands,&quot; the shop owner said. &quot;A lot of people come here, to Limburg in Germany, and want to try some Limburg cheese, and I always have to talk to them. Limburger cheese you only find in the Netherlands, in Limburg&mdash;in the other city.&quot;</p><p>So, having been <em>an entire country</em> off-base, some people might have given up.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6008_Limburger Cheese 068-scr.JPG" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Baumgartner's classic Limburger sandwich with slices of Braunschweiger sausage and the complimentary breath-cleansing mint. (Photo by Nina Barrett)" />But when I spotted a magazine article recently saying that the only town in America where Limburger cheese is produced is just over the Illinois-Wisconsin border, I was SO right there.</div></div></div></div><p>Limburger cheese sandwiches are one of the signature menu items at <a href="https://baumgartnercheese.com/">Baumgartner&#39;s Cheese Store and Tavern</a> in Monroe, Wisc. John Rosa has been serving them up for 10 years and personally, he loves the stuff. But he doesn&rsquo;t try to pretty it up for the customers.</p><p>&quot;My guess is that some cheese maker way back just scratched his feet in the middle of the day and got his hands in the vat, and a few months later, the rest is history,&quot; Rosa said, adding, &quot;I always like to tell people that after they have a free sample in their mouth&mdash;while they&rsquo;re eating it.&quot;</p><p>Baumgartner&rsquo;s makes the same Limburger sandwich that was served by the millions to America&rsquo;s workingmen a century ago at the peak of its popularity. That&rsquo;s runny, room temperature Limburger on rye with slices of Bermuda onion. It comes with a choice of brown horseradish mustard or sweet-hot honey mustard, and a breath-cleansing complimentary mint &mdash; not, Rosa mutters as I start to chew, that it&rsquo;s going to do me any good.</p><p>&quot;Oo, that&rsquo;s a bad face,&quot; Rosa said. &quot;And that was the mustard side or the sweet-hot side? Well, maybe you&rsquo;ll like the other side better.&quot;</p><p>&quot;It&rsquo;s almost not a taste,&quot; I told him. &quot;It&rsquo;s just this mouthful of, like, pungent gas!&quot;</p><p>This is definitely NOT the Lighter Side of Limburger &mdash; unless you count all the Limburger jokes that come free with the sandwich.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6003_Limburger%20Cheese%20023-scr.JPG" style="margin: 5px; height: 225px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="Myron Olson, Master certified Limburger-maker, puts the stink on the Limburger in the curing cellar. (Photo by Nina Barrett)" />But if you&rsquo;re willing to get up at 4 in the morning, when cheese making starts at the <a href="http://www.eatwisconsincheese.com/wisconsin/artisans/Results.aspx?artisan=16">Chalet Cheese Co-op</a> just outside town, you can get an earful &mdash; and a noseful &mdash; from America&rsquo;s only certified master Limburger-maker himself: Meet Myron Olson, Wisconsin Master Cheese Maker in Brick, Baby Swiss and Limburger.</div></div></div><p>Olson can show you everything you ever wanted to know about the process: from mixing the rennet into 2,000-gallon vats of milk, to pumping the curds into molds, to the real heart of the action.</p><p>You can hear the dripping sound in the background as he takes me into what he calls &quot;Our Limburger Curing Cellar. It&rsquo;s basically where we put the stink on the Limburger.&quot;</p><p>I yell out, &quot;OH MY GOODNESS!&quot; and take another deep breath.</p><p>&quot;It does have an odor!&quot; Olson said.</p><p>&quot;You can smell the Limburger in here!&quot; I tell him.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6001_Limburger%20Cheese%20004-scr.JPG" style="float: right; height: 266px; width: 200px; margin: 5px;" title="Mixing the rennet into a 2,000-gallon vat of fresh, whole milk. (Photo by Nina Barrett)" />&quot;When it&rsquo;s first made it&rsquo;s a bright white,&quot; Olson said. &quot;And what we do in here is, we inoculate them with a bacteria smear-water, the bacteria is a <em>B. linens</em> that grows on the surface.&quot;</div></div><p>Incidentally, the bacteria that puts the stink on the Limburger literally IS the same bacteria that causes human body odor and sweaty gym socks. Ironically, it&rsquo;s not the actual stink but the stigma that handicaps Limburger sales these days.</p><p>&quot;People, when they hear of Limburger, they kind of,&nbsp; &#39;Nah, that&rsquo;s ok, I&rsquo;ve heard all the stories about it, I&rsquo;m not gonna try it.&#39; But if I took my Limburger and put a label on it that said &#39;St. Michael&rsquo;s Reserve,&#39; people would say, &#39;Oh, that sounds different, it&rsquo;s cave-cured, washed-rind, that sounds good, lemme try it. It stinks, but boy, it tastes good,&#39; &quot; Olson said.</p><p>&quot;So have you ever considered doing that?&quot; I asked.</p><p>&quot;You know, I did actually at one time, I thought about it,&quot; Olson said. &quot;But I don&rsquo;t have the big marketing that occurs ... for me, it was kind of like: Limburger is what we do, we&rsquo;ve been doing it a hundred years, we&rsquo;re gonna stay on Limburger.&quot;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Limburger Cheese 011.JPG" style="height: 150px; width: 200px; margin: 5px; float: right;" title="Cheese makers Jaimie Castellanos and Ron Boeck. (Photo by Nina Barrett)" /></div>So Olson did something else clever with his label: He added a guide for using the sell-by date to find your own Limburger comfort level. If you can&rsquo;t handle what he calls &ldquo;Die-hard&rdquo; &mdash; the runny, full-strength way they serve it over at Baumgartner&rsquo;s &mdash; try stage one, when the cheese is only a few weeks old and actually has a very mild, yeasty smell and taste.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s what Olson calls &ldquo;Beginner Limburger.&rdquo; At stage two, when it&rsquo;s about two months old, it&rsquo;s just beginning to stink.</div><p>&quot;Now I might wanna have you try a little strawberry jam with that,&quot; Olson said. &quot;There you go.&quot;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;That&rsquo;s REALLY good! That&rsquo;s shocking! But the sweet and the salty&hellip;&quot; I said.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;And that earthy tone...&quot; Olson said.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6004_Limburger Cheese 034-scr.JPG" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Unwrapping a block of Die-hard, Stage Three Limburger. (Photo by Nina Barrett)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;That&rsquo;s really, really good!&quot;</div></div><p>So it turns out that if you want to discover the Lighter Side of Limburger, you don&rsquo;t have to go off on some wild goose chase to Germany &mdash; oh, excuse me, The Netherlands.&nbsp; Just read the label and dab on a little strawberry jam.</p><p>And if you&rsquo;re feeling brave, go ahead and try it Die-hard. I mean, what&rsquo;s the worst that can happen?</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 11 Jul 2012 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/frying/braving-stinkiest-cheeses-100758 Opa! A tasty preview of the new National Hellenic Museum http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-19/opa-tasty-preview-new-national-hellenic-museum-92175 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-19/new-building.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The new <a href="http://www.nationalhellenicmuseum.org" target="_blank">National Hellenic Museum </a>in Chicago’s Greektown neighborhood won’t actually open its doors until November but the sneak peek they’re cooking up for later on in the week might just get peoples' mouths watering. For WBEZ, Nina Barrett got a taste of what’s to come.</p><p>To the Greek-American community, the opening of the New National Hellenic Museum will be an event of epic proportions: It will be the first national Greek museum in the U.S.<br> <br> “Did you know that there’s over 17,000 museums in the United States, and not one solely dedicated to the Greek history, or culture or heritage?” Toula Georgakopoulos, the museum’s director of external affairs said.</p><p>“And it’s kind of funny, since the Greeks had so much influence on culture and Western civilization,” she continued.</p><p>Georgakopoulos&nbsp; said the museum will feature many of the highlights one might remember from history books:&nbsp; Minoans, Myceneans and a certain ingenious mechanical invention that worked out badly for the unsuspecting Trojans.</p><p>“One of the exhibits we’re going to have in November, ‘The Gods, Myths, and Mortals,’ is going to have a huge, 12-foot replica of a Trojan horse that kids can climb inside,” she explained.</p><p>But other included critical aspects of Greek culture might seem less familiar, even for those who dine out a lot in Greektown.</p><p>“It’s a regional Greek restaurant, and we like to showcase the diversity of flavors and the diversity of cooking methods in all of the regions of Greece, and that’s kind of our mission, as well as to reintroduce Greek cuisine as a diverse concept,” explained David Schneider, the chef-owner of Taxim restaurant in Wicker Park.</p><p>Those who watch a lot of food TV might recognize David Schneider as the Iron Chef who went leg-of-lamb to leg-of-lamb with Cat Cora, another chef with Greek in her blood. But he’s also a chef with an educational mission and the museum recruited him to lead another epic undertaking: a three-day series of food and wine tastings, lectures and demonstrations called “Kouzina.”</p><p>“Kitchen!” Georgakopoulos translated. “Kouzina means kitchen, and everybody gathers in the kitchen, right? If you have a party at home, even though you have your entire household beautifully decorated, your living room, your dining room, somehow, by the end of the night, everybody just gravitates towards that kitchen,” he added.</p><p>Kouzina will be a kind of enormous, edible exhibit featuring 17 Greek and Mediterranean-accented restaurants will host tasting stations; a market will sell hard-to-find specialty items&nbsp; and Schneider is preparing an elaborate four-course banquet.</p><p>“And he’s literally going to take you through every region of Greece, and tell a story, basically through food and wine,” Georgakopoulos said.&nbsp; “And it’s going to be paired with wine, and everybody’s going to get a full experience of all that Greek food, and also the concept behind it, and that’s kind of what we’re trying to teach through Kouzina, is the culture behind the food,” he added.</p><p>Schneider embodied that culture. As an American-born kid who—like so many Greek-American children—spent summers in an ancestral Greek village, he absorbed a style of cooking that is deeply rooted in local tradition. Barrett got a taste of it recently when he fixed her the grilled octopus included on his menu for the dinner.</p><p>“In Greece, what you’ll see traditionally outside where the fish market is in the harbor,” he told her, as the big fat octopus tentacle sizzled on the grill. “You’ll see the young kids, the sons of the fishermen, they’ll be taking the octopus by the head, and slamming it against the rocks repeatedly for at least 30 minutes to 60 minutes. This is something that we did as kids. My dad wasn’t a fisherman, but we’d go to our village on the island of Evia, and fishing was just like something you would do…” Schneider remembered.</p><p>Besides the octopus, he will also be serving pastourma, a salt-cured meat-- kind of like pastrami--that was traditionally made from camel, and lountza, a brined pork loin in red wine, spiced with coriander seed, as it’s made Cyprus.</p><p>Americans rarely encounter these and many other foods that define Greece as a treasure trove of regional specialties.</p><p>“There are almost 100 different regional cheeses in Greece that don’t have a showcase in the U.S.,” noted Greek cookbook author and restaurant consultant Diane Kochilas said.</p><p>“The regional wines, and indigenous varieties, things that are really different from your chardonnay, your cabernet, the international varieties that people seem to know lots about. Honey, incredible honey that has regional distinctions, seasonal distinctions based on what the bees feed on at different parts of the year,” she added.</p><p>Kochilas will fly in from Athens to offer cooking demonstrations at the event in conjunction with Winnetka restaurant Avli, where she’s a consultant. She said she admires the concept of a museum that incorporates food as enthusiastically as say, vases and statues with missing noses, as a part of its vision.</p><p>“I think it’s a brave step to consider food as part of the culture,” she said. “It’s not high art, it’s not antiquities, it’s not Greek history—but it IS all of these things, because it’s probably the one part of Greek culture that has a certain continuity that you can see at many levels,” she explained.</p><p>And certainly, it put a new spin on the old hoity-toity idea of museums as purveyors of good taste.<br> &nbsp;</p><p>The National Hellenic Museum’s <a href="http://www.333southhalsted.org/events/kouzina/" target="_blank">Kouzina </a>event runs Wednesday, Sept. 21 through Friday, Sept 23.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 19 Sep 2011 15:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-19/opa-tasty-preview-new-national-hellenic-museum-92175 Fear of Frying: Culinary Nightmares-Baking the Perfect Pie http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-02/fear-frying-culinary-nightmares-baking-perfect-pie-87320 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-June/2011-06-02/Gand has a collection of enchanted rolling pins..JPG" alt="" /><p><p>In the series <a href="http://www.wbez.org/frying"><em>Fear of Frying: Culinary Nightmares</em></a>, food reporter Nina Barrett has done her part to tame some of the tasks that can make entering the kitchen so unnerving. She’s tackled knife sharpening, party throwing and egg boiling. For this installment, Barrett wraps up the series the way you might end a meal: with a slice of pie.<br> <br> Once upon a time, there were three disobedient little pie crusts. Even as lumps of dough, they had behaved badly. This was odd since they had all come from a recipe in the otherwise reliable <em>Joy of Cooking</em>, with only the shortenings varied for experimental purposes.&nbsp; One was too moist and needed to be scraped up off the counter with a spatula. One was too dry and kept needing to be patched together where it fell apart. The third one might have been JUST RIGHT, but since it seems pretty clear that some Evil Pie Crust Fairy stood over my cradle years ago and placed a Pie Crust Curse on me, this one, too, looked a little half-baked.</p><p>Now, I had heard that somewhere in the suburbs of Chicago lived the Fairy Godmother of All Pastry. So I packed up the three disobedient pie crusts and drove and drove through the River Wood Forest Lake Glens of Chicagoland until I came to her cottage, nestled deep in the woods.</p><p>The Fairy Godmother beckoned me into her kitchen and introduced herself.</p><p>“My name is <a href="http://www.trurestaurant.com/team/gale-gand/57">Gale Gand</a>,” she said. “I’m the executive pastry chef and partner at <a href="http://www.trurestaurant.com/">Tru</a> in Chicago, fancy-pants fine dining and Michelin star restaurant. And I’m also an author and a television personality, and I also have three kids so I’m a mom and wife. And a massive pie-baker.”</p><p>She pulled out a lump of dough she had made that morning, which had been chilling in her fridge. It contained half-butter and half-Crisco for shortening, plus the secret magic ingredient she learned about from her mother—who was, incidentally, the daughter of a chemist.</p><p>“And her secret to having a flaky pie crust,” she said, “is that she used a little bit of vinegar in her liquid. And vinegar is an acid, so it inhibits protein from developing into gluten, which is sort of what the enemy is in pie crust. That protein in wheat, if you agitate it, if you work it, if you warm it, turns to rubber, turns to gluten, which is good for bread and bad for pie. So you’re trying to inhibit those proteins from what they want to do naturally, which is get elastic.”</p><p>Her dough behaved perfectly as she rolled, staying supple and circular without sticking or cracking. Quick as a flash, she peeled six apples with a vegetable peeler and sliced them into chunks with a sharp knife. They happened to be Granny Smiths, but she told me that “my <em>real </em>favorite, and I feel like whispering this, because I judge a lot of pie contests, and I don’t want to give away every secret. But what I think makes the BEST apple, the very very best apple for an apple pie, are Honeycrisps. They’re fantastic! They’re expensive, so buy em on sale. But a lot of my summer apple pies and fall apple pies are made with Honeycrisps, and they’re terrific.”</p><p>She put cornstarch in the filling, along with brown sugar, salt, some spices, and the same <a href="http://www.nielsenmassey.com/">Nielsen-Massey vanilla</a> she uses in her signature root beer line. Then she dotted the mound of apples with chunks of butter, which she said would melt into the filling and give it the same velvety decadence as a fine French sauce. When she draped the top crust over the apples and crimped the edges into waves with her fingers, the pie looked just like the kind of granny cap the wolf is wearing when Little Red Riding Hood gets to her grandmother’s cottage.&nbsp; Then she spread heavy cream all over the top and sprinkled it with sugar.</p><p>“That part you can leave off,” she said. “That’s like the pastry chef in me that you know, wants a little more sparkle on the outside, wants a little more richness just when there might’ve not been enough butterfat. Let’s just add a LITTLE more.”</p><p>When her pie went into the oven for an hour, I brought the three disobedient pie crusts in for her to examine. The one where I had used half-butter and half Crisco was way too crumbly, like shortbread, she said. And the one where I had used half-butter and half virgin coconut oil was too greasy, she said—though the coconut flavor was great. But it turned out that the third one, where I’d used the secret ingredient our grandmothers used to swear by, was pretty magical after all.</p><p>“Thath a nith flake,” she said with her mouth full. “See the difference? That’s a nice flake.”</p><p>“You can see it when you break it,” I agreed.</p><p>“Yeah, it breaks differently,” she said. “See how it’s shearing in layers, kind of like mica? Versus the first one that sort of broke like a rock breaking in half.”</p><p>“I really like this one,” I said affectionately.</p><p>“I do too! We might have to switch,” she said. “That might be the lesson for today.”</p><p>“Lard?”</p><p>“LARD!”</p><p>Then her six-year-old twins, Ruby and Ella, got home from kindergarten just as Gale’s pie came out of the oven: magnificent, fragrant, and golden-brown, like the Princess of All Pies. But it was still too hot to eat, so Ruby began to nibble on the three disobedient little pie crusts.</p><p>“Good,” Ruby said, about the first one.</p><p>“Okay try the next one,” her mother said.</p><p>Ruby tried the second one. “Gooder,” she announced.</p><p>It didn’t seem to bother her that they hadn’t behaved the way they should have.</p><p>“This one and this one together, is even gooder,” she decided.</p><p>So maybe a pie doesn’t have to be perfect to live happily ever after. It just needs to be good enough to make people happy, when they come home.</p></p> Thu, 02 Jun 2011 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-02/fear-frying-culinary-nightmares-baking-perfect-pie-87320 Fear of Frying: Culinary Nightmares-Throwing the perfect dinner party http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-26/fear-frying-culinary-nightmares-throwing-perfect-dinner-party-87066 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-May/2011-05-26/230.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Entertaining friends and family for a big shingig can often turn into a nightmare. So in the latest installment of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/frying" target="_blank"><em>Fear of Frying: Culinary Nightmares</em></a>, Nina Barrett takes on the dreaded dinner party.</p><p>Whenever I even TRY to think about the housewarming party I still haven’t given 10 months after moving into my new house, I develop a crippling case of Party Panic. In case you’ve never had it before, here’s what Party Panic sounds like:</p><p>VOICE OF MARTHA STEWART: It’s my annual <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-66evipC1Q">Peony Party</a>, and there’s always a LOT to do. From setting the table and making the flower arrangements, to preparing a three-course meal and hors d’oeuvres for all my guests.</p><p>No, that’s NOT the voice of Martha Stewart telling you what a beautiful party you can throw. That’s Martha telling you what a beautiful party SHE can throw, with the help of her five-star chef, her recipe developer, and the head of her Styling Department. At <em>your </em>party, where the napkins haven’t been stenciled to match the tablecloths, your 70 guests are going to be walking around clutching plastic glasses of box wine and nibbling on Chex mix. Unless someone performs a little Party Panic intervention.</p><p>That’s why I turned to Rita Gutekanst. She’s the co-owner of <a href="http://www.limelightcatering.com/">Limelight</a>, a high-end catering company in Lincoln Park, which means party panic is her business model. It doesn’t faze her, and neither does Martha. In fact, she told me, when she moved into her own house 18 years ago, the first big party she threw was a Martha Stewart Tribute Party—on Martha Stewart’s birthday.</p><p>“For me, Martha is those little extra details,” Rita says. “We froze pansies in ice cube trays to make those ice cubes that she makes. So that when you put the ice cubes in your tall highball glass and pour sparkling water and maybe rhubarb syrup in there, you see the beautiful colors of the purple pansies, the orange pansies, the yellow pansies. And it’s just summery, and then you put a cute little straw in there, and it’s adorable, it’s just adorable!”</p><p>But my party, she assures me, doesn’t have to be adorable. I could go sophisticated, but still casual, I could go <em>Rustic Italian Farmhouse!</em>&nbsp; I could serve Prosecco and bruschetta and put a big feasting table in the back yard!</p><p>“And all you need down the center of it,” Rita adds, “you could do mason jars of pickled vegetables, and mason jars of little cut flowers, or just-picked flowers. It’ll be real pretty, and really simple. RUSSSS-TIC!”</p><p>“I can get out my distressed tablecloths for this,” I suggest.</p><p>“Yes you can,” Rita affirms. “Absolutely!”</p><p>“My distressed, un-ironed tablecloths,” I say, hopefully.</p><p>At this, Rita balks. “Alright, we might iron them.”</p><p>Noticing that I’m still not quite on message as far as the importance of sensory details, Rita takes me into Limelight’s kitchen for a little more convincing. The staff is preparing a tasting for a late-summer wedding, and the bride is expected any moment to start making her menu choices. Visually, it’s like stepping into an artist’s workshop, where all the little still-lifes make you want to gobble them up.</p><p>The centerpiece on one big white plate is a bunch of bright green, blanched string beans standing up straight on their ends and tied together with a ribbon made of leek.&nbsp; The shrimp cocktail is served in a tiny cucumber cup, and sake cups of clam chowder, which she calls “shooters,” are lined up photogenically on a wooden plank.</p><p>“It’s very rustic,” I observe. Could we borrow that plank?”</p><p>“Un-hunh,” says Rita. “Actually, one of my waiters is making me these trays. He says the wood take a year to cure and he’s been working on them for about a year now, and he said they should be ready any time now.”</p><p>A lot of this is vintage Limelight style, but Rita says they always try to personalize the details to express something unique about the client’s style and tastes. In this case, she notices a certain theme emerging from the menu, and calls over to Elias Hildebrand, who’s in charge of the account.</p><p>“Lavender crème brulee, lavender mousse…what’s with all the lavender? Hey Elias, what’s with all the lavender?”</p><p>“She’s obsessed with lavender,” Elias answers.</p><p>“The bride is?”</p><p>“The bride,” Elias confirms<em>. “Obsessed</em>.”</p><p>Elias has not only worked lavender into the desserts, but into a lavender-pepper crusted ahi tuna hors d’oeuvre, a lavender-lemon martini, and champagne glasses rimmed with a lavender sugar that sparkles like aromatic ice. He’s even soaked the warm towels that will be offered before the meal with lavender-scented water.</p><p>“So am I going to get truffled towels?” I wonder.</p><p>“No, probably not,” Rita says. &nbsp;“I’m not sure if you want a truffle aroma. Well, YOU might.”</p><p>Okay, maybe not truffled towels. But I can definitely see now how a Rustic Italian Farmhouse party with Martha flourishes could be a lot of fun. The question is: is this a party I can pull off?</p><p>So a few days later, I took a deep breath and tried get in touch with my Inner Martha. Rita’s parting gift to me was the instructions for the <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/348299/floral-ice-cubes">pansy ice cubes</a> and I followed them to the letter. It took hours, and even though I boiled distilled water to eliminate the impurities, the ice cubes were actually cloudier than the ones my refrigerator door spits out on its own. What would Martha do in my position, I asked myself, and I think I know: put those ice cubes in a glass, pour in some gin and some tonic, and then, call the caterer.</p><p><em>MUSIC BUTTON: Pink, “Get The Party Started”, from the CD Greatest Hits So Far, (La Face)</em></p></p> Thu, 26 May 2011 13:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-26/fear-frying-culinary-nightmares-throwing-perfect-dinner-party-87066