Friday, September 24, 2010

High Fructose Corn Syrup Renamed!!! Veggies for Trick or Treaters!! Best Roast Chicken Recipe!

Goodies from the Farms!!

So many fascinating things in the news this past week concerning food and food issues!  For me, the most disturbing tidbit - kept relatively under wraps, in my opinion - is that the makers of that all pervasive poison, High Fructose Corn Syrup, have petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ask that they be allowed to change the name of High Fructose Corn Syrup to "Corn Sugar".  How infuriating is it to think of the low regard in which these manufacturers hold consumers! 

Yes, it is pretty clear what they think - you can almost hear the planning meeting:   "Look let's just change the name to corn sugar - they won't realize it's the same stuff we have been packing everything with for years now - it'll be a snap, their not very bright, they see sugar, they'll go for it".  Yeah - unfortunately, we have taught them what's important to us as consumers.  If we were smarter and more educated we would be making lots of noise about the connection between this garbage and the growing rates of diabetes in our population.  

The best we can do - given the impotence of the FDA with past issues - is to inform everyone we know who eats - and especially those who do the food shopping - that High Fructose Corn Syrup and Corn Sugar are one and the same thing and both are to be avoided - even if it means a bit of inconvenience.

Another interesting piece of news involved Carrots (Rick Nichols, "On the Side" column in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/23/10).  Apparently baby carrots are being touted as "junk food" to appeal to children and snackers in general.   Baby carrots - and sliced apples as well -  are being packaged in 3 oz bags for Halloween.  I agree with Rick in hoping that, while this certainly isn't bad food news, we can only hope that kids do also get to once in awhile see full grown carrots and whole apples.  Americans have less and less knowledge of where their food comes from, what it looks like in its original state, etc.  Propagating this ignorance further would be going in the wrong direction!

You have to wonder how Trick or Treaters are going to respond this year to bags of fruit and veggies!!

So, what are you cooking in this very un-Fall like weather?  It is a challenge given the arrival of squash, apples, pears, other root vegetables - not to mention all of the food magazines arriving at your door with wonderful Fall dishes on the cover!  What's a foodie to do?  For that matter, what's a gardener to do?

Our peppers are going crazy - I guess they like this up and down weather; I am hesitant to begin the chopping and mulching of the garden as the garden doesn't seem to know it's late September.  I am also putting off the planting of garlic and late salad greens and spinach - too hot!  I am worried that the cold will arrive quickly and with a vengenance and we'll all be caught behind schedule!

Worrying - such a part of the gardening and urban farming experience!!!

Friday's Recipe:  "The Simplest and Best Roast Whole Chicken"

The French believe that the test of a great cook is the ability to make a really delicious roast chicken; I have to say I agree and I also am worried it is an art that we are losing.  So many recipes tell us now to "pick up a roasted chicken " from the stupermarket or chain places.  The problem for me with that is that I don't know how the chicken was raised - and if it is shot up with chemicals and hormones.   I need to be able to procure whole chickens that are free range and chemical free.  So, I need to roast my own chicken!  This recipe, from the classic little cookbook, Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson, has some steps that may not be familiar - but I promise you - you will make the best roast chicken you have ever tasted.  The recipe is also open to creative additions - it's the techniqe that is important; learn that and then get creative!

Roast Chicken

1/2 cup of good butter at room temperature; a 4 lb free range, organic chicken; salt and pepper; 1 lemon; sprigs of thyme and tarragon; 1 garlic clove peeled and crushed (or a bit more if you enjoy garlic flavor).

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
Smear the butter all over the chicken - inside and out - don't miss any parts!
Put the chicken into a roasting pan and season it liberally with salt and pepper and squeeze the lemon all over the chicken
Put the herbs, the crushed garlic cloves and the squeezed out lemon halves into the chicken cavity

Roast the chicken for 10 - 15 minutes at 450 degrees; Baste the chicken with the pan juices and turn the oven down to 375 degrees and roast the chicken for 30 - 45 minutes more (it really does depend on your oven); baste occasionally.  The chicken should be golden brown all over; the skin should be crisp and buttery, lemony juices - nut brown in color - should be in the bottom of the roasting pan.

Turn the oven off; leave the door ajar; leave the chicken in there to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

Carve the chicken;  the author calls for carving it in the roasting pan (we have come to love doing this, you get to retain all of the juices and it makes clean up much easier).

Take a whisk and whip the juices in the roasting pan together - you don't really need anything else - it makes a wonderful "gravy".


Thursday, September 16, 2010


Whole Plum Tomatoes with our Basil
After canning over 50 pounds of tomatoes over the weekend, I wasn't sure that we would be able to look at a tomato, let alone whip up a tomato recipe.  But, no surprise, we dove right into this absolutely lush, fabulous recipe.  The concept is to use heirloom tomatoes if you can get them and/or have grown them, but good meaty tomatoes will work - no matter what their pedigree.  This is also a great recipe for using your herb garden.  As the weather cools up, this will be the tomato recipe you turn to - I guarantee it!

Tomato Bread Pudding

1 pound of hearty white bread
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of onion - small dice
2 tablespoons of finely diced garlic
2 pounds of tomatoes, seeded and diced (I do not peel good heirloom tomatoes for this - it's up to you)
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of finely chopped thyme
1/2 teaspoon of finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon of coarsely chopped parsley (flat leaf, italian preferred)
7 large eggs
2 cups of milk (whole milk preferred - raw is always best if you can get it)
2 cups of heavy cream
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of grated Gruyere or imported Fontina (basically what you have on hand)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; cut the bread into 1/2 inch cubes and spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet; toast them until golden brown - about 15 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan; cook the onions until translucent and add the garlic and saute it until it becomes aromatic; pour the onions and garlic into a bowl with the chopped tomatoes and set it aside.

Whisk the eggs and add the milk, the cream; throw in some salt and stir.

Toss the Gruyere or whatever cheese you are using into the bread and tomato mixture.

Butter a baking pan - a large one - think lasagna pan size.

Add the bread and tomato and aromatics mixture to the large baking pan; pour the egg and milk/cream mixture over the cheese, bread and tomatoes in the baking pan; let the pan rest for awhile - stir it a couple of times until the milk/cream mixture has been absorbed.

Top the mixture with the grated parmesan  cheese.  Be generous.

Bake for 25 minutes or more in the 350 degree oven. 

If desired, flash under the broiler quickly to get the top bread cubes crispy and brown.

Remove from the oven and let the pan rest for 10 - 15 minutes.

Suggestion:  Serve with a cucumber/red onion salad in a vinigarette - it's a very rich dish, the cukes and onions make a nice foil for that richenss.

A hearty red wine rounds it out.

Savory Tomato Bread Pudding
 Lastly I couldn't resist adding this picture.  For those who only shop in what I like to call "Stupermarkets", these tomatoes will look really, really strange.  Why?  Because the tomatoes those folks are getting have been factory produced, forced into a particular size and shape - and are generally tasteless!  These two definitely make the case for the fun - and sense of humor - of the natural world!!!

Real, Delicious, and Not Perfect!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fall is Creeping In! How Do You Prepare for It?

One of our Multi - Herbed Fritattas - a great way to use your herbs!

It's hard to believe as we see a thermostat reach 91 degrees out in our garden but Fall is on its way folks and for the food obsessed, it's a busy time of year.  So, some musing on Fall . . .

After a weekend of peaches, pickles, okra, corn and green beans - all being "put up" in one manner or another - we know that we need to, very soon, start on tomatoes.  Whole, pureed, and some chopped up and frozen - with good tomatoes, the more is definitely the merrier.  The line up of jars filled with goodies in the basement is growing - a good sign for the cold months to come!

We also have to consider that in just a short few months we'll be "on our own" in the city - without our favorite Farmers Markets for a bit.  So, all the more reason to figure out how to hold on to a bit of deliciousness and freshness.  I know that some of us keep hardy herbs in pots in the kitchen window all through the winter - a really good idea if you can do it; the frozen ones have flavor, if no eye appeal, but there's something about just snipping a bit here and a bit there from a living plant when you are in the process of creation in the kitchen that just can't be replaced.

Our new composter - just right for a city sized "alley-way" is starting to produce some nice black loam, and some "tea".  We will have plenty of rich organic material for our garden - and probably every garden on the block at this rate!  It has been wonderful to have a use for all of the organic material we used to have to throw in the trash.  At some point, I hope to have more of a conversation about the importance of composting especially for city dwellers.

The garden itself starts to require a different kind of level of interaction at this time of year, too, doesn't it?  What we pay attention to now - and spend time on now - will have ramifications for the Spring and next year's growing season.  And now, when we go out the back door or onto the back deck we almost can feel the garden changing right in front of us. Our gardens are more dependent on us now than they are in "full bloom".

And, lastly, I don't know about you, but I have already started planning what I want to plant next year in the "mini-farm".  This year was really the first - and they are always experiments in the city, but now I have a better idea of what I want to grow - and most importantly, what has a good chance of a decent yield.

Tomorrow is Recipe Thursday.  What will you be making, and what will you be preserving as Fall creeps in?  Please share with your fellow foodies right here at The Foodist.

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Foodist's Favorite Summer Cocktails

Hello and Happy Holiday Weekend to all the Foodies out there!

We're still battling computer problems and, now blog hosting problems, but I seem to be able to post a few recipes for the drinks we have discovered this Summer.

The most important to remember when playing around with alcoholic beverages is to relax, take chances with combinations and remember to taste as you go!  The recipe is not written in stone!  Try a different ingredient or method of service.  Don't be afraid to experiment.  It's a cocktail, after all.

1.  The Il Moya Summer Cooler - we have named this delicious sipper after our beloved home.  We have a grapevine in our garden (concord grapes) and thus are able to access our own grape juice - but I am pretty sure any good grape juice will work just fine.   Pour a jigger of vodka into a cocktail glass (2 oz/4oz - it's your call); add concord grape juice and stir; add a shot of Cointreau or any orange liquor; stir;  add a good number of ice cubes to the glass (you want this drink really cold); top the glass off with a splash of club soda.  A nice slice of lemon or lime makes a lovely garni and if squeezed will cut into the sweetness of the drink for those who like a bit more tart to their beverages.

2. The Dark and Stormy - this one has certainly been around for awhile - we re-discovered it in Volume 4 of Canal House Cooking ( Fill a tall glass with ice; pour in 2 oz of dark rum; top this off with about 4 oz of ginger beer (available at Health Food stores like Essene and some supermarkets - don't use ginger ale - it's a different taste); add the juice of 1 lemon wedge and the juice of 1 lime wedge.  Garnish the drink with the wedge of lime.  Incredibly refreshing.

3. The Pickle Martini - You may be chuckling now, but you won't be if you try this one.  I actually think we are going to continue to whip these up well into the Fall!  First of all, get out your dill pickles. Now, we make refrigerator pickles and we were lucky enough this year to find some very small kirby cucumbers - Head House Farmers Market vendors continued to have these tiny Kirbys last Sunday.  We sliced these into very tiny slices - just right for looking pretty in a martini glass - and put them in the 'fridge, in a pickling brine,  for 6 days before we used them.  BUT - a good snappy dill pickle that you buy at the store will work fine. The Weavers Way "Philly Fresh" hot 'n spicy pickles (available at Fair Food Farmstand in the Reading Terminal) are wonderful.  You will have to slice them down to size, but you will probably have to do that for any pickle you buy.  Put the appropriate sized pickle in your martini glass.  Coat an ice filled cocktail shaker with dry vermouth - then pour the remaining vermouth out; add your favorite vodka (again 2 oz/4 oz - it's your call, but, please NO flavored vodka) and pour in about a jigger of pickle juice.  Shake well and pour into your pickle garnished martini glass.  Amazing flavor and an almost perfect marriage of aroma and taste!  And keep in mind that pickle juice is a remedy for dehydration!  This drink goes so very well with many small bites, especially tangy and salty things and pate and of course it is delicious all by itself.  If you get really hooked on these, you will find yourself running out of pickle juice - no worries, just add some white vinegar, some peppercorns, mustard seeds, and dill to your pickle jar and shake it well.   It will only take a day or two for it to incorporate.

4. The Bull - this one was apparently a big hit with tourists in Mexico in the 60's and 70's and a more detailed recipe is available from our friends at Larken Springs Farm at their site,, but I include it here as well, because it's one of those drinks - like the pickle martini maybe - that you have to taste to believe.  Into a tall glass pour one part good tequila to two parts good lemonade (I am partial to the homemade lemonade available from the Amish people in the Reading Terminal); stir and then add beer to taste.  Yep, beer. Add ice cubes if you wish.  The type of beer is up to you - we have had friends say they prefer something light, like Corona - we make it with the only kind of beer we ever have around, a "hoppy" beer like Hop Devil.  Both make a delicious drink. I wouldn't recommend using the watery "light" beers like Miller Lite or Coors Lite - why ruin a good tequila?

OK - that's what we've been sipping through this hot weather.  How about you?

Enjoy the long holiday weekend and don't forget to visit your local Farmers Markets!