Archive for February, 2011

Temper, Temper – Shiny Chocolate Needs a Temper

February 26th, 2011 • No Comments

This a video from a TasteDC Exotic Chocolate Cooking Class with Rob Kingsbury discussing the tempering of chocolates. Tempering is a term both used in chocolate and in food preparation, but the word is used slightly differently for each purpose. In food prep, when you use the term “tempering”, it’s often associated with tempering eggs – if you add raw eggs to a hot liquid, they will scramble, which is usually not the goal, you want to incorporate eggs in an emulsion evenly throughout. Rob, who owns both ACKC on 14th St., in Washington, D.C. and Del Ray, VA, as well as Kingsbury Chocolates in Alexandria, VA, mentions how his mother made Chocolate Cream Pie by tempering eggs. When it comes to chocolate, tempering is about creating shiny hard chocolate which is snaps when you break it or bite into it. This is caused by the crystalline structure of the cocoa butter and solids together, for an intense explanation check out Cooking for Engineers on Chocolate Tempering. If you don’t temper chocolate, it just doesn’t have the appearance and crunch that most people like.

Here’s the information from the TasteDC class:

TasteDC’s Chocolate Temptation:
Class on Making Exotic and Unique Handmade Chocolates
with Rob Kingsbury, Kingsbury Chocolates
Sunday, March 26, 2006

Chocolate Menu:
-Chipotle Cinnamon Truffle
-Wasabi Orange Lavender Truffle
-Cosmopolitan Truffle
-Margarita Truffle
-Demonstration of a White Chocolate bar filled with Cranberry and Lime Relish.

Oh, and plenty of wine was served – Port and dessert wines go with chocolate, but medium bodied reds like Merlot do nicely.


Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

More From Our Local Farms – Elaine Boland, Fields of Athenry, Purcellville, VA

February 26th, 2011 • No Comments

Elaine Boland is the type of strong-willed woman that inspires others to sit-up and notice. She’s a “back to the farm” individual who came to the realization almost a decade ago that you are what you eat, and the ill effects of eating an overly processed diet become obvious in our health.

Above is a video of her on her farm Fields of Athenry in Purcellville, VA. Elaine has an unusual business model – she only sells from her farm and eschews all farmer’s markets. If you want her meat, you have to go to her to get it! I visited the farm in 2008 and was amazed at how balanced everything seemed – her dogs watched over the farm and protected the animals from predators so that they could feel secure and produce healthy meat! Yes, to some this seems ironic, but a farm animal has a duty: some to protect, some to make aware, and some to be fattened to be eaten.

Enjoy the video and if you get a chance, you can order (pre-order please, Elaine butchers just enough for her customers!) from Fields of Athenry and enjoy some of their great meats!

Working with Fillo – Spanakopita and Tiropita

February 20th, 2011 • No Comments

TasteDC held a Great Greek Classics Cooking Class at Veranda on P Restaurant in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, June 6th, 2009 and this is a short video of using fillo in greek pie preparations. I grew up in Harrisburg, PA which has a large Greek community, so spinach and cheese pies (Spanakopita – Tiropita is basically the same filling without the spinach) where readily available. When I think about the buttery flakey fillo crunching in my mouth and the creamy, salty spinach and cheese oozing onto my tongue, frankly it brings back great memories! I was a bit critical of the food I grew up with in Harrisburg in my book I Drink on the Job but I was very fortunate to have had a great selection of restaurants run by Greeks to enjoy a mix of American and Greek cuisine. Lamb and Moussaka were often on the menu at these little neighborhood restaurants which opened up my awareness to real food.

This is the very basic recipe for Spanakopita we used in the cooking class – you can vary the cheeses if you like. The video is more for demonstrating using fillo which I think scares people a bit to cook with because it’s temperature sensitive and pretty easy to break while using. Give this recipe a try – enjoy!
Spanakopita Recipe
One box of fillo dough
one box of frozen spinach
8 oz ricotta cheese
one lb of feta cheese
One bunch of spring onions (Chopped)
Dill (a small bunch)
one or two eggs
salt (to taste)
white pepper (for seasoning)
Olive oil
Butter (melted)

Defrost and strain well the spinach. Place all the ingredients (except the fillo) together and mix. Cut the fillo in three or four long rectangles like lasagna pasta. Take one strip of fillo and place a small amount of the mix on one of the corners of the fillo. Fold the fillo to form a triangle and use a little of the melted butter to keep it together during cooking. Brush a baking tray with butter and place the finished pies on the tray. Place it in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees UNTIL it’s only brown on the outside, then lower the temperature to 300-325 degrees and cook until the interior is crispy, don’t overcook.

P.S. You can decide the shape and the size of the pie.

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Living the Dream – the New Farmer

February 20th, 2011 • No Comments

This was a fun interview I did at the Taste of Atlanta in 2010 with a great lady – Belinda Wernau, one of the owners of Little Red Hen Farm Belinda is part of the renaissance of farming as more than just a way of life, but a philosophical “back to nature” movement. Belinda has a full-time job outside of farming in a technical industry as a chemical engineer and she has 4 kids to raise as well. Somehow she balances her life and provides an idyllic setting for raising chickens for their meat and eggs and she has become financially successful at it, beating her financial expectations by becoming profitable in under 3 years.

Enjoy the video, it’s enlightening. Is working on a farm really living the dream? If you come away with a more realistic understanding of the ups and downs of running a small farm, then this post was successful. It’s OK to romanticize leaving your job and having a better, simpler life in balance with nature, but that’s probably not going to happen for you (or anyone for that matter!). There is a satisfaction to working with your hands and to producing something tangible that people can appreciate. In a world where 90% of people work indoors for over 40 hours a week, sitting in front of a computer, checking email, meetings, cell phones, etc. appreciating the realness of an animal being raised and the associated pitfalls of nature seems to resonate with many. Personally, I’d rather just enjoy the fruits of this labor, but if you have a hankering for going all the way, talk to a farmer – you’ll be surprised what you might discover!


Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Chesapeake Soft Shell Crabs – the Hard Truth

February 17th, 2011 • No Comments

This video comes from an “I Love Crab” cooking class I organized at TasteDC in the Summer of 2007 with Chef Brian Boots of Elegance ala Carte.

In the Maryland/Chesapeake area, we love soft shell crabs, here known simply as “Softshells” – you can buy them frozen, but I think they come from Vietnam and its actually a different species of crab, but for a few months in the Summer every year you can get fresh ones. In order to clean a softshell, you want to cut the lungs out..and cut off the head with shears/scissors..yes, I’ve seen them served with the head on, but they taste better with it off! When it comes to wine, crab meat is very sweet and light, so a crisp white wine like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc works great, but a cool pilsener works too – generally throw out the rules with softshells, especially because they’re almost always fried in a rich fat and that adds weight and flavor.

Here’s some info on how to clean Softshells from Cooking Light – Cleaning Info.

Recipe from TasteDC’s I Love Crabmeat Cooking Class
with Chef Brian Boots, Elegance ala Carte
Saturday August 25th, 2007

Mango and Guava Glazed Soft Shell Crabs

3 T Olive Oil
1 T minced and peeled fresh ginger
2 T minced shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 mangoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup Mirin
1 ¼ cups guava nectar
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 c vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb soft shell crabs
½ c Julienned basil
3 T Old Bay

Cooking Directions: In a skillet over medium high heat, heat olive oil. Add the shallots, ginger, and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add the mango; continue to sauté until mango is tender. Add the Mirin and guava nectar. Reduce by half. Add the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to form a glaze. Season soft shell crabs with Old Bay. Add to the glaze and cook until crabs are done, about 5 minutes. Add the green onions, basil and salt and pepper.

Mama Mia – Pasta Making 101: Agnolotti Stuffing

February 15th, 2011 • No Comments

Over at TasteDC we love to roll out pasta for Agnolotti (pretty much the same as Ravioli)..and knead it, mix it, stretch it, stuff it, cook it, and then eat it! The above video was from TasteDC’s Pasta Making 101 class on Sunday, February 13th, 2011 – the day before Valentine’s Day, so people were a bit more enthusiastic than usual, which made it quite a fun event!

Here’s the recipe:

Agnolotti alla Piemontese
Authentic Piedmont-Style Rich Beef filled Ravioli in a Savory Sauce

Ingredients Pasta:
1 lb Durum flour water as needed
4 lg eggs
1T olive oil
1 pinch salt

Ingredients Stuffing:

2 oz butter

3 T cooked rice

1/4 lb tinned peeled tomatoes

a small carrot

1/2 onion

1/2 stick of celery finely chopped together

a little parsley

1/2 lb lean raw beef, finely minced

1 glass white wine

4 cabbage leaves, boiled and chopped rather finely

 to taste
freshly ground black pepper

grated nutmeg

2 eggs

1 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions Stuffing:
PUT a very small amount of butter in a small frying pan. When it is foaming add the cooked rice and fry, stirring, for 1 minute. Put on side.
TAKE the seeds and liquid out of the peeled tomatoes, and pass them through a vegetable mill.
PUT the rest of the butter in a frying pan together with the chopped vegetables and parsley. Cook gently until the onion becomes transparent. Add the minced beef. Cook gently, stirring all the time, until the meat is golden brown. Add the wine. Reduce completely, so that no smell of wine remains. Add the tomato pulp and the rice, the chopped cabbage leaves, salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer gently for half an hour. By this time you should have a fairly thick mixture.
TRANSFER this to a mixing bowL. Let it cool. Add the eggs, beating them first, and the Parmesan. Mix well.

Directions Pasta Dough:
Combine all ingredients, except water into a kitchen aid mixer with a hook attachment. Mix ingredients until made into a dough, add water if needed. Wrap in Saran wrap and refrigerate for thirty minutes.
In another bowl beat an egg that will be used to seal the ravioli with a basting brush. Cut dough bundle in half and flatten out enough to pass through pasta machine, from thickest to thinnest. On a flat surface lay sheet of pasta and brush with egg wash half of the sheet. Fill pastry bag with meat filling and make 2 tsp size deposit onto the pasta sheet, at 1 ½ inch intervals from each other. Once the sheet is filled overlap the sheet and seal the edges using your fingers. Exclude any air bubbles which may have formed. Use ravioli cutter to cut sheet into separate ravioli. Sprinkle flour on a tray, lay ravioli on top and cover with a clean cloth. Refrigerate.
Boil pot of water and cook ravioli to your liking. In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt 1T butter add short rib sauce, bring mixture to simmer for a couple of minutes. Once ravioli are cooked, strain and toss ravioli in sauce pan. Sprinkle Parmigiana cheese and serve.