Mocha Hazelnut Tart with Caramel Drizzle

Mocha hazelnut tart with sea salt

 

We roast our own coffee at home, as recently described herein. This morning, when M was handling brewing duties, the smell of that freshly roasted and ground coffee was intoxicating. I noted hints of sweet things, like cocoa and roasted nuts, and right then and there a tart made with coffee, chocolate, and hazelnuts popped into mind.

As I started to compose the recipe, a couple of things came to mind. The first was the best way to assure that those amazing coffee attributes made it into the finished product. That’s when I figured that steeping the ground coffee in cream would work to maintain the subtler notes that you might lose, were you to just use brewed coffee. I was right; the coffee aroma and taste that resulted was absolutely heavenly.

For the chocolate, a ganache seemed to make sense; it’s been around since the 18th century, though it’s arguable whether it was the French or the Swiss who first came up with the idea. Ganache is an incredibly versatile thing, made by heating cream, pouring it over chopped chocolate, and allowing it some time to steep and warm through. The blend is gently whisked until smooth; extracts, liqueur, or spices can be added as well. The addition of butter imparts a shine and silky smooth texture to the finished ganache. The ratio of chocolate to cream is infinitely variable, imparting a wide range of finished densities. Here, I used what generally comes out to about 2:1 chocolate to cream by weight, which yields a proper density to fill a tart, make truffles, or use as a layer in a cake. A 1:1 ratio yields a much lighter product suitable for glazing. Cool a ganache and whisk it fairly briskly, and you add enough air to lighten it notably, resulting in an excellent frosting. Work slowly and steadily when incorporating the chocolate and cream, and you’ll find this to be a fairly anxiety free method. You’ll note that I don’t call for refrigerating this tart; you can certainly do so, but know that a chilled ganache becomes rather hard. You won’t lose too much flavor, but it will be quite the brick in consistency.

I also wanted this to be a treat that celebrated the more savory aspects of chocolate and coffee, as opposed to being cloyingly sweet; the entire tart recipe has slightly over a half cup of sugar in it. The rest of the sweet notes come through the coffee and dark chocolate, and the overall impression is a very well tempered treat. The caramel sauce contributes a highly controllable degree of sweetness; you can use none, a little, or a lot as your tastes desire.

The tart crust is the only baking you need to do, so it’s really pretty simple to make. I’d go so far as to say that if you’ve never explored making ganache before this will be a fun intro for you. I made this with fresh, local cream and butter; I’d recommend you do the same.

This is truly amazing stuff, incredibly smooth, complex, and powerful. It’s also wickedly decadent, not the kind of thing you just have laying around the shanty all the time. Or maybe you do. Slice it thin and savor every bite.

 

Mocha Hazelnut Tart with Caramel Drizzle

 

For the Crust –

1 Cup All Purpose Flour

1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar

4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

1 Large Egg

1/4 Cup Dark Cocoa Powder

 

Have all ingredients at or close to room temperature.

In a mixing bowl, add sugar and butter; whisk until well combined and creamy.

Add the egg, and whisk until thoroughly blended.

Add dry ingredients and fully incorporate.

Form dough into a ball, then flatten to a roughly 5″ disk.

Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

 

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Sandwich the dough disk between layers of parchment or waxed paper, and roll it out to about 1/8″ thick, sized for a tart pan with a 3/4″ to 1″ lip.

Transfer crust to tart pan and press gently to fit. Trim any excess dough flush with the edge of the pan.

With a fork, evenly pierce the dough all the way through to the bottom of the pan, across the entire bottom of the tart.

Bake until tart looks somewhat dry and pulls away slightly from the edge of the pan, about 15 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool completely.

 

For the Ganache –

1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream

10 Ounces Dark Chocolate, (64% to 72% Cacao is best)

4 Tablespoons unsalted Butter

1/2 Cup freshly ground Coffee Beans

1/2 Cup Hazelnuts

2 Tablespoons Bakers Sugar

Sea Salt

 

If you have a burr bean grinder, grind coffee beans on the coarsest setting. If you use a whirly blade grinder, pulse the beans to a rough grind and that’ll work. If, gods forbid, you have neither, carefully rough chop beans with a santoku or chefs knife.

 

Preheat oven to 350° F.

If you’ve bought shelled and skinned hazelnuts, place them on a dry baking sheet and roast them until lightly browned, about 12-15 minutes.

Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Once cooled enough to handle, carefully rough chop them and set aside.

 

If you have hazelnuts with the skins still on, (Which, by the way, are far cheaper than the former option), here’s the best way to completely remove those.

For every cup of hazelnuts, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium sauce pan.

Add 3 tablespoons of baking soda and stir; note that the mixture will foam quite a bit.

Add hazelnuts and boil for about 3 minutes; don’t be concerned when the water turns quite black, it’s par for the course with this method.

Fill a mixing bowl 3/4 full of ice water.

Use a slotted spoon to remove a test nut and plunge it into the ice water. Gently rub the nut to see if the skin comes off easily; if not, let the nuts boil for another couple of minutes, then try again. Once you’re getting an easy peel, transfer all nuts to the ice water and peel away.

Wrap nuts in paper towels and dry thoroughly.

Roast and rough chop nuts as per above.

 

Have butter at room temperature.

In a sauce pan over medium heat, bring cream to a simmer.

Add ground coffee beans, stir well to incorporate, then remove from heat.

Cover the pan tightly and allow the cream and coffee blend to steep for 30 minutes.

Run cream blend through a double mesh strainer, then return the steeped cream to the sauce pan and discard the ground coffee, (layered cheese cloth will work if you don’t have a strainer).

Place sauce pan back over medium heat.

In a measuring cup, add 2 teaspoons of hot water to the sugar, stir well to dissolve, then add to the coffee cream, and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Rough chop chocolate, then add to a mixing bowl.

Carefully pour hot cream mixture over the chocolate, then allow to steep for 5 minutes.

With a whisk, gently combine cream and chocolate, (going too fast and hard will cause the chocolate to seize – take your time and feel out the proper pace).

When the mixture is about halfway incorporated, start adding the butter a tablespoon at a time; allow each batch of butter to fully incorporate before adding more. Continue whisking until ganache is smooth and glossy.

Pour ganache into tart crust; smooth the top with spatula or pastry knife.

Top with chopped hazelnuts and dust very lightly with sea salt.

Let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

 

 

For the Caramel Drizzle –

1 Cup Bakers Sugar

6 Tablespoons unsalted Butter

1/2 Cup heavy Cream

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

 

In a sauce pan over medium-low heat, combine sugar with 1/4 cup water. Stir steadily until sugar dissolves.

Increase heat to medium and boil without stirring, occasionally swirling the pan to aid even cooking. Continue until syrup is a deep golden amber, about 7–8 minutes.

Reduce heat to low; add the butter a tablespoon at a time and whisk to incorporate – Note that mixture will bubble vigorously, so be careful.

Slowly stir in cream, whisking steadily.

Add vanilla and salt.

Whisk until the caramel is smooth and creamy.

Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

Pour into a glass jar or small bowl.

Sauce will store for a week, refrigerated in an airtight glass container. Warm slightly before drizzling if stored.

Cut a nice slice of tart, drizzle a few lines of caramel over the top, and enjoy. You can make this a day ahead; the flavors will be fully developed, maybe even better than day one. One of my staff at the cafe commented after her first bite, “I’ve just seen God.” Now that’s a testament…

 

 

 

Perfect Popovers

It’s currently 48° F, with the wind south by southwest off the sea, blowing steadily at 20 knots with gusts strong enough to shake the cabin. In other words, it’s a great time for soup or stew. As an accompaniment to that, you’d be hard pressed to beat a nice, hot popover. 

There are plausible claims that popovers are a U.S. dish. The oldest recipe reference to popovers I’m aware of is American, within M. N. Henderson’s Practical Cooking, which dates to the Centennial year of 1876. 

It’s thought that the popover is naught but younger kin to Yorkshire Pudding, which certainly makes sense. Perhaps it’s good old yankee ingenuity that is evident in their making; much smaller, they don’t require the lengthy beat/chill/beat sequence that a Yorkshire does to rise successfully. They can be enjoyed in less than 45 minutes, as opposed to several hours.

While the batter for popovers is simplicity itself, the successful baking thereof is not. The tricks to great popovers are as follows;

1. Have all ingredients at room temperature before you incorporate them; this allows faster heating, which is critical to a good rise.

2. Scalding the milk; heating the milk helps integrate it with the other batter constituents, and promote a faster rise and lighter final product.

3. Very through blending of the batter; as with a quiche or frittata, well blended ingredients, with a wealth of minute air bubbles worked into the batter, make for a lighter popover. An immersion blender does the best job of this, especially one that has a beater head.

4. Heat the tin and the fat, (butter); again, having everything as hot as possible when introduced to baking heat allows that energy to be used for generating steam, the engine behind a well-risen popover, rather than it being needed to simply heat the pan and the batter.

5. Don’t open the oven door while they’re cooking, period.

Here’s our go to version. They’ll take you about 10 minutes to make.

 

1 Cup All Purpose Flour

1 Cup Whole Milk

2 Large Eggs

3 Tablespoons unsalted Butter

1 teaspoon SeaSalt

1 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Have all ingredients at room temperature, (Butter doesn’t matter, since you’ll melt it shortly).

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Pour milk into a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove the milk when it scalds, (small bubbles formed along the edge of the pan), and set aside to cool.

Melt butter, and lightly brush 6 to 8 cups of a muffin tin with same.

Slide the muffin tin into the hot oven for about 5-7 minutes.

Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl; whisk until well blended, about 1-2 minutes.

Add milk, flour, remaining melted butter, and salt; with an immersion blender, whisk briskly until the batter is smooth and even, about 2-3 minutes.

Remove tin from oven and fill each roughly half way with batter.

Bake until fully inflated and golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes

 

Serve immediately, piping hot.

Waffles 101

 

Along with stand mixers and fondue sets, waffle irons are more than likely collecting dust in a corner of many of our pantries. Waffles get a bad rap as ‘food that’s not good for you,’ and ‘a pain to make’; nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, a store bought, frozen waffle is an abomination, along with generic table syrup, and both are to be avoided like the plague. A homemade waffle, on the other hand, topped with delicious things is a delight in every way.

 

Batter or dough has been cooked between two hot plates for hundreds of years. The earliest recipe written in English that I’m aware of appeared in the 1600s, and paid proper homage to the Dutch ‘wafel’, that from the Frankish ‘wafla’, which harken back as far as the 1100s and meant honeycomb or cake. Waffles started out life as derivations of the communion wafer, thin, crisp cakes not unlike the modern pizzelle, still quite popular in Italy. These earliest versions were almost always round and made of grain flour and water, just as communion wafers were and are. As such, they weren’t particularly big on taste, so flavorings like honey or florally infused water were introduced, such as rose and orange blossom. It wasn’t until the 1300s that a recipe included eggs, wine, flour, and salt, but did not contain leavening of any note. Another hundred years would pass before irons notably different in pattern from the communion wafer, or oublie, would appear. These new versions, the French fer à oublie and the Belgian wafelijzer, were square or rectangular, and set with an even grid pattern; the space between these early irons was still rather thin, leading to a finished product likely akin to the modern Brussels waffle. Another couple of centuries would pass before recipes routinely included yeast, sweeteners, and spices added directly to the batter. Leavening was the innovation that allowed waffles to become the thicker, more appealing treat we enjoy to this day.

Waffle makers have advanced leaps and bounds from the versions we had as kids. There are makers that’ll do anywhere from 2 to 8 at a pop; some are deeper and rotate, to specialize in the thicker Belgian version. There are timers and dark-to-light controls as well. I opted for a simple maker with a light to indicate ready status, and no other bells and whistles. If you keep an eye on your maker while it’s working, it’s a safe bet that somewhere around 6 to 8 minutes in, when the steam output has diminished and you’re smelling nice, toasty cereal notes, your waffle will be done. After you’re used to yours for a while, it’ll be second nature that requires little conscious thought. Non stick is nice, and can now be found in non-toxic, environmentally friendly versions; it’s great to have, but does not mean you don’t still need a little something sprayed or wiped on before you cook.

Waffle recipes are pretty straightforward; once you’ve got your ratios down, they lend themselves well to experimentation. A few points, illustrated with the recipes below.

Thicker, lighter styles, like Belgian, want the eggs separated and the whites beaten and folded in to achieve that end.

The same process will help heavier, gluten poor flours generate a lighter, less leaden final product.

Vital wheat gluten is a fantastic tool to help those heavier flours end up as fluffy waffles.

Leavening can usually be achieved adequately with just baking powder, but judicious use of both powder and soda works just fine as well, especially with heavier batters. Yeast raised waffles take longer, but reward with a complex, tangy note that faster leaveners just can’t duplicate.

Here are a few variants to spark your creative juices. Any of these recipes can be made savory if you wish. Thinly sliced green onions, chive, or other herbs can be added to the batter, or incorporated into toppings made with sour cream, cremé fraîche, crema, or Greek yoghurt. Chutney, salsa, mostarda, or sauteéd vegetables are equally delicious, as is a waffle topped with an over easy egg, crumbled bacon, and melted cheese. If you add veggies or fruit directly to a batter, consider sweating them in a sauté pan first, to reduce the amount of moisture and keep your waffles from getting soggy or falling apart.

 

For topping sweet waffles, it’s awfully hard to beat real maple syrup and butter.

You can substitute whole wheat pastry, or whole grain white flour, one to one for any recipe calling for all purpose. Subbing 2% milk for whole works, and almond or soy milks make fine alternatives as well. Coconut oil makes a great sub for butter, as will olive, avocado, or grapeseed oils for savory waffle recipes. Honey, agave nectar, or less refined sugars are also fine alternatives. Fresh fruit is always a delightful topping for any variant.

 

With modern waffle makers, it’s best to pour a ladle or two of batter into the middle of the iron, enough spread to within a couple inches so of the edge; gently closing the lid will finish the job.

Each recipe will make 6-8 waffles. They will store well short term, and are delicious toasted the next day.

Yeast Raised Waffles
2 Cups all purpose Flour
3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2 Cups whole Milk
2 large Eggs
1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 package active dry Yeast, (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
 
In a small pot over medium heat, combine milk and butter; stir until melted and bubbles start to form on the edge of the pan. Add sugar and salt and stir steadily until melted and hot but not simmering. Remove from heat and let stand until lukewarm.
In a warmed mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup warm water and yeast. Let stand until it foams, about 5 minutes.
Add warm milk mixture to yeast and stir.
Whisk in flours, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand until doubled in volume, at least two to three hours at room temp, or overnight in the fridge.
Preheat waffle iron.
Whisk eggs and baking soda into the batter.
Cook according to manufacturer’s directions until golden brown.

 

Belgian Waffles

2 Cups all purpose Flour

2 large Eggs

2 Cups Whole Milk

1/2 Cup unsalted Butter

1/2 Cup Sugar

3-1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 Cup fresh Strawberries

 

Preheat waffle iron.

Rinse and slice strawberries.

Separate eggs into two small dishes.

Melt butter.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking powder.

In a second mixing bowl, lightly beat egg yolks until frothy. Add milk, melted butter, and vanilla, and whisk thoroughly to incorporate.

Add wet to dry mix and whisk gently until just combined.

Whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold gently into the batter.

Cook in a preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions until golden brown.

Serve topped with strawberries.

 

 

Buttermilk Waffles

2 cups all purpose Flour

2 Cups Buttermilk

2 large Eggs

1/3 Cup unsalted Butter

2 Tablespoons Sugar

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Pinch Sea Salt

 

Preheat waffle iron.

Melt butter.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and whisk to incorporate. In a separate bowl, whisk and combine thoroughly buttermilk and butter; add the eggs and vanilla, and whisk again.

Add wet mix to dry and whisk gently until just combined; batter will be slightly lumpy.

Cook until golden brown, according to manufacturer’s instructions.

 

 

Buckwheat Waffles

2 Cups Buckwheat Flour

2 Large Eggs

1 1/2 Cups whole Milk

1/2 Cup Greek Yoghurt

1/2 Cup unsalted Butter

2 Tablespoons Bob’s Vital Wheat Gluten

2 Tablespoons Honey

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

Pinch of Cinnamon

Pinch of Sea Salt

 

Preheat waffle iron.

Melt butter.

In a large bowl, add buckwheat flour, vital wheat gluten, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and combine.

Separate eggs into two small dishes.

Add yolks to a second mixing bowl, and whisk until frothy. Add the sugar, butter, milk, and yogurt and combine thoroughly.

Whisk egg whites until they raise to soft peaks.

Add wet mix to dry and whisk gently until just combined.

Add one half of the egg white and fold them gently into the batter; do the same with the second half.

Cook until golden brown, according to manufacturer’s instructions.

 

 

Whole Grain Waffles

2 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

2 large Eggs

1 1/2 Cups whole Milk

1/2 Cup Sour Cream

1/4 Cup Butter

2 tablespoons Honey or Agave Nectar

2 teaspoons BakingPowder

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

Pinch Sea Salt

 

Preheat waffle iron.

Melt butter.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and whisk to incorporate.

In a separate bowl, whisk and combine thoroughly buttermilk and butter; add the eggs and vanilla, and whisk again.

Add wet mix to dry and whisk gently until just combined; batter will be slightly lumpy.

Cook until golden brown, according to manufacturer’s instructions.

 

 

 

Real Deal Alfredo

 

Alert reader Ian asks;

‘What’s the trick to making great Alfredo sauce? It never seems to come out nice and thick and creamy when I try to make it.”

It’s a great question, because as simple as great Alfredo is, making it isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. Let’s see why.

First off, let’s agree that the vast majority of the crap sold in restaurants and the grocery store called ‘Alfredo’ isn’t remotely authentic. Heavy sauces, often made with a generous dose of thickeners, have no business being called Alfredo. The real deal was named after the guy who invented it. He passed on decades ago, but his place still exists; it’s Ristorante Alfredo alla Scrofa, in Roma, where to this day you can dig into the original.

Now, here’s your first shocker; that dish contains no cream or milk. The dairy comes solely from butter and cheese. It’s that simple, and here’s the trick; it’s made with the best ingredients possible. That’s the secret; to make it at home, you need to use the absolutely highest quality, freshest ingredients you can find.

 

Real Deal Alfredo

1/2 Pound Fresh Fettuccini; homemade is best, but locally made is just fine.

1⁄2 Cup fresh, local Unsalted Butter

1/4 Pound genuine Parmegiano Reggiano

 

Preheat oven to warm, and thoroughly heat dinner plates and a large bowl or platter

Bring 4 quarts of well salted water to a boil. Add the Fettucini and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Fine grate the Parmegiano, cut butter into roughly 1/4″ cubes.

Drain pasta, and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.

Transfer pasta to the heated bowl, and add the butter, cheese, and 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Using a serving fork and spoon, toss the pasta, carefully incorporating all ingredients.

Add more water, a tablespoon at a time, to achieve a uniform, smooth sauce. Baste any excess butter and cheese back onto the pasta until they’re fully melted and pasta is evenly coated; this will take you about two or three minutes of tossing.

Serve immediately on the warmed plates, with crusty bread and a nice, crisp heart of romaine salad.

 

Now, if you’d like to make a cream based version the right way, we can do that too. And here’s why it so often fails for home chefs; it fails because cooks think of it as a cheese sauce, instead of as a cream sauce thickened with some cheese. Good cream, standing on its own merits, only has so much ability to incorporate additional fats; load too much cheese into it, and you’re bound to suffer separation anxiety. That said, you certainly can apply the most common cheat and add flour, which will allow you to pile on more cheese, but what you end up with is more Mac and cheesy than Alfredo, frankly; you lose the magic. As with the original, cream-based Alfredo is simple, and made with the best local, fresh heavy cream you can get. Milk, in any form, ain’t gonna cut it, and neither will that mass produced, ultra pasteurized crap.

Creamy Alfredo

1/2 Pound fresh Fettuccini

2 Cups fresh heavy Cream

4 ounces fresh, unsalted Butter

1/2 Cup Parmegiano Reggiano

Grating of fresh, whole Nutmeg

Pinch of Sea Salt, couple twists of fresh ground pepper

 

Preheat oven to warm, and thoroughly heat dinner plates.

Fine grate the Parmegiano.

In a large sauté pan over medium low heat, melt the butter; do not let it simmer and separate, you want the milk solids to remain incorporated for this sauce.

Add 1/2 cup of cream and increase the heat to medium, whisking gently but constantly. Once the sauce starts to simmer, continue slowly but steadily adding cream, allowing the sauce to begin to simmer before you add a little more, whisking constantly. The sauce will thicken slightly throughout this process.

Boil 4 quarts of well salted water, add the fettuccini and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the water into a colander, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Remove the sauté pane from heat, then add the Parmegiano to the cream sauce, about a tablespoon at a time, whisking steadily. Stop when you hit the thickness you like.

Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to incorporate. Add a tablespoon of pasta water, which will help smooth out the sauce.

Grate a pinch of nutmeg, season with salt and pepper to taste, and toss to incorporate.

Serve immediately on heated plates.

 

 

More than spring cleaning

Welcome to the redesigned UrbanMonique! 

We’ve grown immensely in the last couple of years, and as such, we needed more control over our site, and the ability to expand our activities to better serve you. This new site does all that. We hope you like it as much as we do. In addition to a fresher, less cluttered look, it’s a better platform for mobile devices, has no ads, offers video capability, and provides me with enhanced ability for custom programming.

I’ve been working on this for several weeks before letting it go live, but there’s bound to be stuff I’ve missed, or that just doesn’t float your boat – Feel free to let me know what you think, and if you see something that just doesn’t look or work right.

NGKG Chef Q & A

Well, I have made an effort to encourage questions, ‘cause I really do want them, so I sure am not gonna pass any up!

PLEASE DO ask questions, comments, offer suggestions, etc! At the bottom of each post in the blog, you’ll see a little bar that separates the post from the last one; kinda in the middle of that there’s a little line that reads ‘comments’; just click on that to ask a question, make a point or comment, etc: A new window will pop up and you can enter your question there. It may ask if you want to follow the blog and the answer is, of course you do! Following the blog means you get notified when new posts are up, etc.

You can also email me; ebena at sbcglobal dot net, (Do that up in typical email format; I just spelled it out here to avoid spam mail…) OK, so down the river!

Got an email that reads “I keep seeing you use the term “Non-reactive pan” or bowl. What exactly does that mean and why do I care?”

That’s a great question, (And a great reminder not to throw cook-speak around too much, Eben!)

A non-reactive bowl or pan is simply one made of stuff that food won’t react with chemically: Aluminum, copper, brass, cast iron, and plastic should all be considered potentially reactive. At issue isn’t the pan or bowl itself so much as it is what you’re putting inside of them: When cooking with high acid foods, like citrus, tomatoes, vinegar and the like, those foods can react with pans and bowls and leave an off taste in your mouth. There is also some discussion to the effect that aluminum, non-stick, and plastic containers can in fact present health hazards simply by their use, so let’s take a look at that stuff.

When high acid foods are cooked in aluminum, certain aluminum salts can form, and there is some evidence that these salts can lead to dementia and impaired vision; in any case, we don’t want to be ingesting them if we can avoid it, right?

Likewise, food wrapped in plastic or placed in plastic containers has potential problems. Fatty foods like meat and cheese can promote the leaching of diethylhexyl adipate from such films and containers; you may have gotten an email to that effect from a well meaning friend. While the FDA claims that the amount of this chemical we’re exposed to is within safe parameters, I say unto you again, is this really something we want in our food and bodies?
Long and drawn out answer; no.

Quick and dirty nonstick Q & A; is nonstick OK for the kitchen? Answer; if you’re really getting health and environment conscious, no. The most commonly used non stick coating is PTFE, the exact same stuff you find in plumber’s tape; do we really wanna eat that? No. The stuff is applied as fluorocarbon layers to pans; remember the ozone layer? Heating nonstick pans can breakdown flouropolymers into such wonderful things as:
Triflouroacetate, (Harms plants and takes decades to break down)
Polyflourocarboxylic acids, (Removed from Scotchguard ‘cause it’s bad for us).
CFCs, (Ozone layer again).

‘Nuff said? Yeah, I think so…
Do yourself and your world a favor and stick to stainless steel and cast iron cookware, glass and stainless bowls, and glass storage containers. Your body and the environment will thank you, big time!

OK, next question:
“I love the blog, but I can cook too! Can I submit recipes and suggestions?”

Answer: YES, and please do! Sharing and learning is what this is all about! We ain’t the end all to be all of food, just one resource among many, so bring it on!

Massive Cuke Attack!

Hey, y’all;

Got great feedback from the Storology post, including this one:
“Eben,
This is John from King Gardens. Thanks for storology 101–good info for folks who are used to veggies lasting like Twinkies because of preservative sprays. Now that you’ve established yourself as an authority, any suggestions on what to do with the wheel borrow load of cucumbers I just picked?? Would send you a picture if I could figure out how to attach it. Some of them are destined for our CSA dinner tomorrow night. Our subscribers will get a full array of veggies, plus pesto cheese cake, Christy’s bread, and possible a beverage or two. Will definitely schedule around your availability next year! Thanks much for doing this blog!
John”

Well, shoot, BIG thanks, first and foremost, John; it is my pleasure, believe me! And it would be a gas to do some live stuff next year, count on us bein’ there, for sure!

OK, well, THE number one way to preserve Cukes is… Pickles of course! If you can do pickles, you MUST do ’em, ’cause we all know there’s nothin’ better. In fact, pickin’ my tiny brain, I cannot think of any other long-term preservation scheme other/better than pickles, so… Pickles it IS!! I don’t know about y’all, but we LOVE ’em; our fridge always contains 4 or 5 varieties and often more; garlic dills, sweet, sweet & sour, hot, etc, etc – So I say if you’re blessed with the best rough stock there is, make ’em happen!!

As for fresh stuff for the CSA dinner, consider the following:

Cucumber/Tomato/Basil salad: 1 to 1 to 1/2, w/ balsamic vinaigrette.
Cucumber Salad: Just cukes, onions, a little parsley or cilantro, oil & vinegar.
Fresh Cuke Pico: Add tomatoes, onions, peppers, chiles and…
Cuke-Mango Salsa: 3 to 1 Mango to Cuke, add jalapeno, onion, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper…
Cuke salad: 5 parts cukes, 1 part onion and bell peppers, salt, pepper, olive oil & vinegar to taste.

Bet some or all of those would float yer boats, eh?

CHEERS!!

Urb