Monday, September 27, 2010

Join Slow Food USA

"We apologize to everyone who may have been sickened by eating our eggs" - Jack DeCoster, founder of Wright County egg empire, testifying before Congress. This time we need more than an apology. We need a movement.

Wouldn't it be great if the whole food system was good, clean and fair? We can do it, if we build a massive grassroots movement mobilized for the fight. And we can have a great time in the process!

I am a member of Slow Food USA and for this month only, it's cheaper than ever to join me! We're building a food revolution in this country, from the grassroots up and want you to be a part of it. Click here to join the food fight:

Whenever factory farms ignore food safety, McDonalds crafts their next campaign to lure kids inside, or politicians write laws to keep school lunches frozen, they don't take into account one thing - a massive grassroots movement mobilized for the fight to make food good, clean and fair.

Slow Food members get together at farmers' markets, create gardens in their school, take action to hold our politicians accountable, support local farmers and have a great time doing it! It's through powerful local communities that we can build the change nationally.

You can be part of the solution today by becoming a Slow Food USA member but you'd better hurray, our discounted offer expires soon:

Whether it's pushing politicians on school lunches or breaking bread together, Slow Food members unite around the idea that food should be good for you, good for the environment, and accessible to all. It's a celebration of our communities, our cultures, and our planet.

So, for the next 30 days, we want to grow the Slow Food community with you as our newest member by offering you a special discount. Make a contribution of only $25 or more and join the food fight today.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Where I Have Been and Two Recipes

As someone who considers himself a foodie, I love this time of year. Farmer's markets are opening and growers of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) are making their deliveries. I love to walk the markets and see what is in season. I personally like my produce to be organically grown and in some cases without the use of pesticides. I can get that from talking to the vendors and listening to them explain the methods they use. I use the markets to supplement my CSA share.

For those of you who do not know what a CSA is, let me explain. The CSA that I belong to states that each week from June through October that a full share will receive enough produce to feed a family of four for a week or a for two vegetarians for a week. The catch is that you do not get to choose what produce you want. You get what produce is in season each week. For example, last week's share consisted of radishes, lettuce, spring onions, strawberries, and assorted herbs. Next week's shipment may contain these items and/or something else. When the season passes and other produce comes into season then those items will be included into your share. It is like a new present each week.

Every Saturday that I am in Columbus, I go to the Columbus Farmers Market. It opens at 9:00 AM and closes at 12:30 PM. My typical routine is to walk the market before the opening horn to see what is being offered and how much of a quantity there is of the produce that I want for that week. When the horn sounds opening the market I then go to the stalls that I had scoped out and get the produce that I want. Then I walk the market to stalls that have items that I want more information about and sample their wares and sometimes buy their product. That is how i came across my new favorite vendor.

That vendor is Hudson's Market. This is husband and wife business that makes all of their baked goods from whole grains. The owners are Bart and Beth Hudson and they make all of their goods from their home kitchen in Scipio, IN. I recently purchased a loaf their cinnamon bread and it was such a delight. The smell of the bread is beyond description and I couldn't wait to try a piece. It was even better than the smell. My two teenagers, Dallin and Olivia, then consumed the rest of the loaf and wanted to know why I didn't buy two loaves! I can't wait to go back next week and try some more of their baked goods and I would love to interview the Hudson's for a future blog.

I have recently went on vacation to San Francisco and the Wine Country of Northern California with Connie. It was the vacation of a lifetime. We sampled the cuisine of San Francisco. I had a dish called Cioppino, which is a seafood stew, that I heard was a San Francisco creation. The cioppino that I had was so delicious and the portion size was enough to feed two people because I couldn't eat it all. The dish had claims, mussels, snapper, calamari, shrimp, dunginess crab and tomatoes braised in a fennel scented stew. We had it at restaurant called Cioppino's on Fisherman's Wharf. I f you are going to be San Francisco, I highly recommended it.

We visited quite a few of the wineries in the Sonoma and Napa Valleys and sampled many fabulous wines. The landscapes were so beautiful, but the highlight of the trip was my class at the Culinary Institute of America, located in Saint Helena, California. The institute is in a converted winery and it is so majestic. The class that we took was on Bistros and Brasseries. I had never cooked French style food and it was quite a change and I found it so enjoyable. There were 4 teams in our class and each team had to make 3 dishes. My team made Poached Pears in a Red Wine Port Sauce with Roquefort, Brussel Sprouts with Bacon, and Breaded Goat Cheese Salad. The other groups made a meal that was so delicious that I over ate when it was time to sample. There was steak with Green Peppercorn sauce, Duck a l'Orange, Frise Salad, Potato pancakes, Creme Brulee, and Chocolate Mousse made from scratch. If you have the time and money and wish to improve your cooking abilities, schedule a class at the Institute, you'll never regret it.

Now here are two of the recipes from my trip, I hope you enjoy these.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon (Choux de Cruelest aux Pardons)
1.5 pounds of Brussels sprouts
2 oz bacon
1 tsp olive oil
2 large shallots
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Wash the sprouts and pull off any damaged or tough looking leaves. Wipe them dry then in half from bottom to the top and set aside
2. Cut the bacon into lardons and render them in olive oil.
3. Raise the heat to medium high and add shallots to the rendered bacon fat. When they're translucent, about 2 minutes, add sprouts to pan. Make sure most of the pieces spend time "face down" so they will brown. After about 3 minutes or when most of them have some color, remove the pan from the heat to add the wine and return it to the heat so the liquid can reduce to about 1/2 cup. Lower the heat to medium low, and then add the stock, salt and pepper
4. Cook the sprouts partially covered until they are tender about 20 to 25 minutes. To check for doneness, stick tip of paring knife into the core of one of the larger sprout halves; you should feel moderate resistance. To check for deliciousness, eat one. These sprouts are superb when served with roasts, steaks, and even whole-roasted fish.

Copping - San Francisco Style Seafood Stew
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 Turkish Bay Leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1.5 teaspoons salt
0.5 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1.5 cups dry red wine
28 oz can whole plum tomatoes, drained, reserve juice, and chopped
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 cup chicken broth
1 pound crab, thawed if frozen.
18 small (2 inch) hard shelled clams, such as littlenecks, scrubbed
1 pound skinless red snapper or halibut fillets, cut into 1.5 inch squares
1 pound large shrimp (16 to 20 size), shelled (tails and bottom segments of shells left intact) and de veined
3/4 pound sea scallops, tough muscle removed from side of each if necessary
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

1. Cook garlic, onions, bay leaf, oregano and red pepper flakes with salt and pepper in oil in an 8 qt heavy pot over medium heat, stirring until onions are softened, about 5 minutes
2. Stir in bell pepper and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
3. Add wine and boil until reduced by about half, 5 to 6 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes with their juice, clam juice, and broth and simmer, covered, 30 minutes, Season with salt and pepper
5. While stew is simmering, if using crab legs, hack crab leg through shell into 2 to 3 inch pieces with heavy knife.
6. Add crab pieces and clams to stew and simmer, covered, until clams just open, 5 to 10 minutes, checking every minute after 5 minutes and transferring open clams to a bowl (Discard any unopened clams after 10 minutes).
7. Lightly season fish fillets, shrimp, and scallops with salt and add to stew, then simmer, covered, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes.
8. Discard bay leaf, then return clams to pot and gently stir in basil and parsley. Serve cioppino in large soup bowls.

Monday, May 24, 2010

As Promised

In my column, Green Pans, I said that I had emailed the Thermolon Company on where one could purchase Green Pans here in the US. Well, I have received an email back from a Ms Ronica Kaur.  In her email, Ms Kaur stated that you can purchase the Green Pan from the following places
Target Stores
Crate & Barrell
Bed, Bath and Beyond
Chef's Catalog
I went to the web sites of each of these companies and found that they do indeed offer Green Pans for sale, but none of them carry a complete set of pans or they only carry one type of pans like sauté pans or frying pans. So if you are seriously interested in purchasing a complete set of cookware or bake ware you will need to go the Home Shopping Network and purchase them.

I have written an email to a Ms. Valarie Kagan of GreenPan Inc. to see if she would send me a price list of all the Green Pan lines as well if it is possible to purchase from the manufacturer. I’ll keep you all posted in a later blog.

I went to my first farmer’s market of the season this past weekend. On Friday night, Connie and I went to the Trader’s Point Farmers Market located at the Trader’s Point Creamery in Zionsville. If you have never tried any of Trader’s Point products, you are missing out on the wonderful dairy products. All of there cows are grass fed. They do not get any grains and all of the milk is grass fed milk. Trader’s Point produces, milk, chocolate milk (The best in my humble opinion), yogurt, cheeses and ice cream. If you are trying their products, I know they are sold at Marsh, O’Malia’s and at their shop at the creamery. For an excursion they offer tours of their creamery and it is worth the trip.

Anyway, back to the farmer’s market. We walked around to see what was being offered. It was well represented and we made some wonderful purchases. We bought Swiss chard, Arugula, Spring Onions, assorted lettuces and strawberries. The produce was fresh and smelled wonderful. The highlight of the market, for me, was our purchase of grass fed rib eye steaks and grass fed lamb fennel sausage. Grass fed beef is leaner than grain fed beef and has less moisture than supermarket steaks. Therefore grass fed beef requires a marinade to keep the meat from becoming too dry when cooking. I am looking forward to grilling these in the not to distant future.

On Saturday morning we cut up the strawberries and served them on a slice of pound cake with some crème fraiche that we purchased from Trader’s Point and it was such a wonderful breakfast. We went to another market located at the YMCA parking lot on Fort Harrison and bought more strawberries and some asparagus. The asparagus was large and freshly picked and the strawberries were bright red and picked that morning.

For lunch that day, I fried some of the lamb sausage into patties, roasted the asparagus and spring onions, and made a fresh batch of romesco sauce. We served the meal with a loaf of fresh Tuscan bread along with some home made mint iced tea. Dipping the vegetables in the romesco sauce and then placing in the mouth reminded me of being in Spain. I love this time of the year with all the fresh vegetables and the flavors that explode in ones mouth. So go to your local farmer’s market and enjoy all of the spring vegetables and flowers.

This week’s winner for which recipe you want was the Spicy Pork Stew. So here it is.


2 lb lean pork, cubed
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
6 to 8 New Mexican green chilies, roasted and peeled, seeds and stems removed, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 tomatoes, peeled and diced
3 cups water

1. In a Dutch oven, Brown pork in oil
2. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes
3. Add remaining ingredients to Dutch oven, cover and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until meat is very tender

Please don’t forget to vote is this week’s recipe choice question. If any of you know where there are great farmer’s markets or produce stands, let me know and you just may show up in this blog. Till next week, eat well and healthy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

As you, my loyal readers, requested

    To those of you who are new to my blog, I always have a poll question for you to answer. My latest poll was a question about which recipe I should supply next. Well the time frame for the poll is over and the results ended in a tie. So you readers win. You will get two recipes this week.

     I thought it ironic that both recipes have the same primary ingredient, mushrooms. I love mushrooms. I love the way that mushrooms provide a meaty flavor and hardiness to any recipe that they are in. I guess my loyal readers are mushroom lovers just like me.

MUSHROOM SOUP (6 servings)
8 oz Fresh Mushrooms
2 tbsp onions, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp non-salted butter
2-3 tbsp flour, separated
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup light cream or evaporated milk
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp nutmeg

Cut mushrooms into slices
Melt butter in large frying pan
Add in onions, garlic, and mushrooms, cook until onions are soft.
Blend in 2 tbsp flour and stir.
Add chicken broth and heat until slightly thickened, stirring frequently
In a bowl add cream and stir in additional tbsp flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg
Add cream mixture to soup
Heat to thicken while stirring frequently

½ oz dried porcini mushrooms
6 large manicotti (dried)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small onion, finely sliced
4 oz roasted red peppers, chopped
¾ cup low-fat ricotta cheese
½ tsp salt
½ tsp coarse black pepper
1 ½ cups tomato sauce (your favorite jarred, can or freshly made)
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

In a small bowl, cover dried mushrooms with hot water, set aside to soak for 30 minutes
After mushrooms have soaked, drain and chop coarsely
Meanwhile, prepare manicotti according to package directions, drain and cool
Lightly spray 8x8-inch baking pan with olive oil, set aside
Over medium heat, heat a nonstick pan and add olive oil
Add mushrooms (except porcini), garlic and onions, cook mixture about 8 minutes
Add porcini mushrooms and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes
Add roasted peppers and cook for 2 minutes.
Turn off heat, and stir in the ricotta.
Add salt and pepper to taste
Transfer mushroom mixture to a large re-sealable plastic bag.
Pipe the filling into cooled manicotti shells through a hole cut in the corner of the bag.
Place the manicotti shells in prepared baking dish.
Top with tomato sauce and then sprinkle Parmesan over top.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve immediately

    I hope that you will try these recipes and will leave comments about them on this blog. I am looking forward to see how you like them.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Spicy Hot Place

Over the past couple of weeks I noticed that a new restaurant had opened in the place where one of my favorite breakfast diners used to be. I look back fondly on Jaki-Dans. The former owner of Jaki-Dans is a close friend and our daughters were friends all through school. It is hard to believe the girls are both 21 and all so grown, but I digress.

I worked from home yesterday and I decided that I would try the new place during lunch. The name of this restaurant is Picoso and it is located on the corner of 17th Street and Orinoco Ave in Columbus. From the name I assumed that the restaurant was either a Mexican or Spanish restaurant. But that was the only assumption I wanted to make because I wanted an open mind and judge the restaurant on its merits.

I arrived at 11:45 AM and it was all ready full. That gave me a good feeling because usually when a restaurant is full it usually means the food is rather tasty. I walked to the counter and sat down. The interior of the place is warm and cheery and the color scheme made one realize that this was a Mexican style restaurant. It was clean and the wait staff was cheery and made on feel welcome. After I sat down, I looked around the place. There was seating for approximately 50 people at tables and there were 3 seats at the counter. I was given the menu and I was surprised to see that the menu was quite small. There were a limited number of items. There were 3 types of tacos, one type of burrito, a Cobb salad, and finally nachos. The prices were not extravagant. There were different types of meat for the dishes and what I found very pleasing was that if you chose beef, you didn’t get ground beef, you got diced brisket. That is a traditional way of serving Mexican food in West Texas and New Mexico.

I ordered the burrito with the brisket as my meat choice. It was served quickly and I was pleasantly surprised with the portion size. It was generously filled with a wonderful lime-cilantro infused rice, perfectly cooked ranchero beans, lettuce, and traditionally shredded queso fresco cheese. The flour tortilla was grilled before the ingredients added and rolled. They then covered the burrito with fresh sour cream. The burrito comes with salsa. I chose the hot salsa and it is fresh and tasty. The salsa contained fresh diced habanero pepper. It was wonderful.

After the meal I tried their cheesecake. It was a traditional New York style cheesecake that is served on top of a lime glaze and whipped cream flaked with lime zest. It was perfect compliment to the meal. The velvety cheesecake and the lime glaze quenched the heat in my mouth from the peppers. Portion was more than adequate, as I couldn’t finish it because of the richness of this dessert. The price of this meal was very reasonable. For a burrito, drink, and dessert my cost was less than $15.00

I would highly recommend Picoso to anyone. To me, it is the best Mexican style restaurant within the city limits of Columbus. There are many places in Columbus where one can get a quick lunch, but Picoso is just as quick but provides food that shames all of these pretenders. It is my hope that Picoso becomes a success because Columbus would be at a loss if this restaurant fails. If this restaurant had opened in the new areas of downtown it would be an instant success but the meals would be more expensive to pay for the prime location. To the owners Daniel and Kimbery Heilman, Good Luck and don’t change what you are doing. I’ll be back soon for more of your delicious food.

1644 Orinoco Ave, Columbus, IN 47201
(812) 799-0358
Hours of Operation:
Monday –Tuesday 11:00 AM – 7:30 PM
Wednesday 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Thursday – Friday 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"Green" Pots and Pans

Everybody seems to be concerned with environmental issues. Some people are concerned for global warming, others believe in recycling, while others, like me, worry about pesticides and chemicals in our food. I try to eat as much organic food as I can.

However, through my research I found that most of the harmful chemicals we eat come from the cookware that we use. Most of us use a traditional non-stick pans in our cooking. Traditional non-stick is Teflon® based plastic material that is layered over the metal of our pans. We all have used it and over time we see the pan start to chip and flakes end up in our food. We all know that you need to use plastic or wooden utensils to cook with non-stick cookware. When my pans started to flake and chip I thought it was because I got lazy and started using metal utensils. This partially true but the real cause was because I was using the wrong heat setting for traditional non-stick.

Traditional non-stick cookware is made by coating the pan or pot with PTFE (PolyTetraFluoroEthylene); a waxy, synthetic substance. PTFE has well documented disadvantages in household use. Above 500 degrees, this PTFE coating starts to breakdown. The released fumes can potentially harm the respiratory tract and cause nausea and headaches. So when you overheat your non-stick pan not only to you damage the pan but possibly your health. Additionally, PTFE coatings are manufactured with the aid of PFOA (PerfluoraOctanoic Acid) which is classified as a persistent pollutant of the environment. Besides that, PFOA is a chemical that the human body has tough time expelling and is known as a likely human carcinogen, according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).

After learning about this information, I wanted to find a substitute for traditional non-stick. I did quite a bit of research on the web and found a substitute. This new non-stick is made without PTFE and doesn’t use PFOAs. The non-stick is a ceramic based non-stick that also is able to withstand temperatures up to 850 degrees. What this means is I could then put these new types of non-stick pans into the oven. This was my type of non-stick. This type of non-stick is called Thermolon®. It is used in the production of the ‘Original Green Pan’.

The first pan I bought was a 14 inch paella pan from the Home Shopping Network (HSN). It was from the Chef Todd English collection. Chef English is an award winning chef and was voted as one the 50 sexiest men in America by People magazine. I watched the demonstration of the pan and then I chose the paella pan because it would serve very well as my test bed of this new cookware. When the pan arrived, I was surprised to see that the non-stick surface is a blue-gray color and that the weight of the pans was very light. I made a chicken, chorizo and shrimp paella with my new pan. It crisped the rice the way that I like and cooked the rest of the ingredients perfectly. Clean up was breeze. I was able to wipe the pan clean with just a sponge and water. Nothing stuck, no soaking and then the pan is dishwasher safe. I fell in love with this cookware on the spot.

I have ordered different sets from HSN and all have worked as described. In fact, I gave my expensive Calphalon® hard anodized non-stick cookware to my daughter for a wedding present. I use nothing but Green Pan for my cooking and baking.

Recently, there is another company that has started producing ceramic based non-stick. I receive quite a bit of spam from them wanting me to try their cookware. The company is OrGreenic®. I have read their information and have watched their infomercial and the pans seem to be very similar to the Green Pan. The difference that I saw was that the non-stick material is green in color instead of blue-gray. I also noted that there was no mention of Thermolon® technology. After searching their website I also noticed that there was no ability to order sets of pans. You could only order individual pots and pans, plus I didn’t see any type of bake ware. I may order their introductory 8 inch fry pan to test with and right about the results at a later time.

Currently, the only place to purchase Green Pan in the United States is from HSN and it is from the Chef Todd English collection. I have been to the Thermolon® website and they have many different lines of cookware. I went to there ‘where to buy’ tab and looked under the United States. What I found was a mailto link. I have sent an email to the address provided asking where I could purchase their cookware from a retailer or wholesaler. I am still waiting for a reply.

I am very happy with my current Green Pans and I recommend them highly to anyone. These pans are wonderful to use, simple to maintain and clean up is a breeze. But the greatest benefit is that I know that unwanted chemicals are not getting into my food and I am doing my small part for living green.

If you are interested in more information or purchasing ceramic non-stick visit the following websites:

Home Shopping Network (Chef Todd English Collection)



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Turkish Delight

Last Friday, I was in Bloomington with Connie and we went to quaint little restaurant located in the ethnic block located on 4th Street. She had eaten at this restaurant before and highly recommended it, so I thought why not.

The restaurant that we went to is named Anatolia. Located at 405 East 4th Street in Bloomington, Anatolia’s menu offers selections of Turkish and Mediterranean Food. The atmosphere was not what I expected. They had plenty of table and chair seating, but what set it apart was they also offered traditional Turkish seating. For those of you who do not know what this is, it is you sit on the floor upon cushions over low cut wooden or copper tables. The lighting was excellent and the wait staff was happy and plentiful.

The menu offers a wide variety of choices. Everything from appetizers, entrees, Sea Food, even Vegetarian and Vegan choices. The menu lists meals by their traditional names but then gives the reader a description of the meal that they can understand. The prices were listed were priced moderately and the portion sizes were excellent.

I love eggplant so we started our meal with an appetizer of Babganus, which is char-broiled and mashed eggplant mixed with fresh herbs and tahini sauce served with their fresh baked bread. I spread some of the babganus on their bread and then tasted it. This was best babganus I have ever had. I couldn’t get enough and I am looking forward to having this dish again.

You also have a choice of soup with comes with your meal. I chose the white bean which is northern beans cooked in tomato based with fresh carrots, green and red peppers. Connie had the red lentil which is red lentils cooked in tomato base and spiced to perfection with mint, oregano, a touch of garlic and other spices then puréed. We tried each other’s soup and they were both delicious, but I preferred the white bean soup because I like the textures of the ingredients more than a pureed soup.

For my main course I ordered Stuffed Cabbage which is cabbage leaves stuffed with ground beef, rice, onions, and spices. It was served with rice and salad. Connie ordered Mucver, which are zucchini fritters with feta cheese and carrots served with rice and salad. Our meals came and I started with the salad. It was the traditional Greek style salad but there was a flavor I recognized but couldn’t place. It was so wonderful. Connie asked if I could guess it and I couldn’t. She told me it was sumac. She couldn’t guess it either on her first visit, so she asked the chef. My stuffed cabbages were filling and very pleasant. I tried her Mucver. It too was delicious but we both thought a bit heavy.

For dessert we ordered Baklava, which is a dessert made of layers of flaky rich pastry with walnuts baked until crunchy topped with syrup with a touch of cinnamon. Baklava is a very traditional dessert of the eastern Mediterranean and this was very tasty.

I highly recommend Anatolia to all and I can’t wait to go back. I already know what I am going to order, Kuzu Incik (lamb shanks topped with marinara sauce).