Cuisines of the Axis of Evil; Mushrooms Clean Up Pollution
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Paul Stamets uses mushrooms to clean up pollution, while activist Raj Patel tells us why soy has become America’s most processed food. Chris Fair dishes up foods from the “Axis of Evil,” Eddie Lin serves up tasty food euphemisms and Rabbi Morris Allen leads the justice certification movement for kosher facilities. Plus, Gustavo Arellano finds the greatest meal deal in Orange County, Jennifer McLagan celebrates cooking with fat and Laura Avery has a fresh Market Report.
The Market Report ()
Laura Avery chats with Robin Smith of Mud Creek Ranch, who has brought in her limited supply of quince. This apple-like fruit is suspected to be the original fruit in the Garden of Eden. It's hard and when ripe doesn't soften but turns yellow. Robin likes to scrub off the fuzz from the skin, core it, drizzle syrup on it and then place it whole in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. It makes a delicious dessert. Quince are very high in pectin, the thickening ingredient needed for jams and jellies. Mud Creek will have the fruit for only one more week.
Chef T. Nicolas Peter of The Little Door restaurant and The Little Next Door loves to make quince paste and quince jelly this time of year. You can make both the jelly and the paste in the same process.
Quince Jelly and Quince Paste
2 pounds of ripe and fragrant quince
4 cups of water
2 teaspoon of lemon juice
2 leaves of rose geranium (optional)
Wash the quince to remove the fuzz on the skin. Peel and core the quince. In a pot place the peels and core, add the water. Boil for about a half an hour. Strain and set aside. Slice the quince add the boiling water solution. Simmer for about one hour. Line strainer with cheese cloth. Pour quince in and tie with string. Hang in refrigerator so liquid drains into container. Let it drain overnight.
To make Quince Jelly
Place the drained liquid in a heavy pot. Add equal part of sugar and cooking liquid. Add lemon juice. Boil rapidly to a temperature of 220ºF. Infuse the geranium for a minute then remove. Place in Mason jar and sterilize.
To make Quince Paste
In a fine food mill puree the cooked drained quinces. Place in wide and shallow pot equal part of the puree and sugar. Add 1/4 cup of water to each cup of quince puree. Cook slowly to allow sugar to dissolve. Bring to a boil and stir frequently to avoid scorching. When cooked the paste will come away from the sides of the pot and the color will become dark red (it will take about 45 minutes.) Before it cools quickly pour a ¾” layer on a pre-oiled sheet pan. Cover the top with cheese cloth, Set aside in a cool place for 4 days. Cut in desired shapes layered with paper liner or fresh bay leaves. Seal in tight container, do not refrigerate.
Farmer Elmer Lehman grows Thompson Seedless and Red Flame grapes. His Thompsons are turning amber and you can find some super sweet raisins on the bunches.
Music break: Tokyo Dancer by Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra
Mushrooms Clean Up Pollution ()
Mycologist Paul Stamets explains how turkey tail and oyster mushrooms can be used to clean up dioxin contamination in Fort Bragg, California. He is the author of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World and his company, Fungi Perfecti, specializes in gourmet and medicinal mushrooms. Read the New York Times article about the Fort Bragg coastline cleanup.
Music break: Tout Ce Qui Est A Vous M'Appar by Olivier Bernet
Processed Soy ()
Activist Raj Patel discusses the global market of soybeans and explains why soy has become America’s most processed food. Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World's Food System, is a researcher at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and a visiting scholar at the Center for African Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
Music break: Traveler Rock by Dave's Travelers
Cuisines of the Axis of Evil ()
Foreign policy analyst Chris Fair dishes foods from geo-political hot spots in her book, Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States: A Dinner Party Approach to International Relations. She explores the gastronomy from Iran, Iraq and North Korea, countries which were coined the "Axis of Evil" by President George W. Bush.
Khoresh-e-Hulu (Chicken and Peach Stew)
- 1/3 cup ghee (or less ideally, vegetable oil), plus an additional 2 Tablespoons for the peaches
- 3 large white onions, sliced into thin rings
- 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts cut into strips (You can use chicken tenders to minimize prep time. Some folks use veal, duck or even beef.)
- 1 Tablespoon advieh, a Persian spice mixture (There are several variants; most include cinnamon, cardamom, and dried rose petals. Available through online vendors listed in the appendix.)
- 2 1/2 tsps salt (Fair uses either rock or sea salt)
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups water
- 12 firm peaches
- 3/4-1 cup lime juice (Fair likes key lime juice, store-bought or freshly squeezed)
- 1 cup demerara or raw cane sugar (you can substitute the white stuff if you must!)
- 1/2 tsp saffron, ground with either a sugar cube or 1/8 tsp rock salt in a mortar and pestle dissolved in 3 Tablespoons of warm water (If it doesn't completely dissolve, don't worry. Just be sure to get all the saffron mixture into the pot when required. You can even rinse the mortar out with another 3 tablespoons of warm water.)
- Parsley, finely chopped
1. Heat a large skillet that has high sides and a cover. (Cast iron works well.) When warm, add the ghee or oil. When the ghee has melted or the oil is hot, add the onion and fry until translucent. Add the chicken strips and cook with the onions on medium heat for about 20 minutes.
2. Toss the advieh, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer for about 25 minutes.
3. While this simmers, begin to prepare the peaches. Rinse off the fuzz and remove the pits. Slice as you would for a peach pie. (5-6 wedges per peach, depending on its size) Toss peaches slices with a couple tablespoons of lime juice, working quickly to avoid browning. In a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoons of ghee or oil. (Use a nonstick pan or heavy cast-iron skillet to avoid burning.) In batches, fry the peaches until they are golden, about 3 minutes on each side. If you are good at parallel processing, you can fry up one batch of peaches while you slice up the next batch. This means you avoid browning and you obviate the step of tossing with lime juice.
4. Mix 3/4 cup lime juice, the sugar and the saffron water. Set aside.
5. Add the peaches to the same skillet as the chicken. Add the lime juice, saffron, and sugar mixture. Cover the skillet and simmer for 10 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If it's too sweet, you can add a bit of lime juice. If it's not sweet enough, you can add a bit more sugar.
6. Keep this mixture in the oven at low heat (200°) while you prepare the rest of the meal.
7. Garnish with parsley.
Music break: Tuxedo Junction by The Original Checkmates
Food Euphemisms ()
Deep End Dining blogger Eddie Lin loves tasty food euphemisms, but is a bit wary of the Argentine "sweetbreads" served at Gaucho Grill. These "sweetbreads" refer to grilled thymus glands. He also reveals the mystery behind "cowboy caviar," "lamb fries" and "Rocky Mountain oysters."
6435 Canoga Ave
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Music break: Twelfth Street Rag by David Ede and The Rabin Rock Band
Kosher Justice Certification ()
A few months ago, an immigration raid at Agriprocessors Inc., the nation's largest kosher meat processing plant, exposed possible unethical treatment of its workers. Rabbi Morris Allen leads the movement for ethical standards in Hekhsher Tzedek, Kosher products certification (justice certification). He is the Project Director of Hekhsher Tzedek.
You can learn more about the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa in Evan's 2005 interview with author Stephen Bloom.
Music break: Twistin' Those Meeces To Pieces by David Ede and The Rabin Rock Band
Tacos El Chavito ()
OC Weekly writer Gustavo Arellano finds the cheapest meal deal at Orange County's Tacos El Chavito in Huntington Beach. You can eat two small double-tortilla tacos with your choice of meat for $1. Gustavo's new book is titled Orange County: A Personal History.
Tacos El Chavito
On Morgan Street (between Slater and Speer Ave)
Huntington Beach, CA
Music break: Ujabe by Tom Jobin
The Joy of Fat ()
Jennifer McLagan celebrates the joys of cooking with fat in her book, Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes. She also discussed using leaf lard in cooking, especially in pastry. You can find leaf lard at Surfas in Culver City, California and at Prairie Pride Farm in Mankato, Minnesota.
Makes about ¾ cup
2 cups good quality high-fat whipping cream
½ tsp fine sea salt (optional)
Pour the cream into a bowl of a stand mixer and let it warm up to about 60°F, Using the whisk attachment, whip the cream on medium-low speed. The cream will thicken, become stiff, and then start to break down. After 7 to 15 minutes, depending on the cream, it will separate into a milky liquid and globules of fat, and the latter will collect on the whisk. Stop whisking.
Remove the pieces of butter from the whisk and place them in a fine-mesh sieve. Strain the liquid from the bowl through the sieve. This liquid is true buttermilk, and you can drink it. Rinse the pieces of butter under cold running water until the water runs clear. This rinses off the remaining whey, which could turn the butter rancid.
Using your hands, squeeze the butter hard to remove the excess water. Place it on a work surface and knead it with your hands and a dough scraper to remove any remaining water.
If you prefer salted butter, work the salt into the soft butter with your hands. Using your hands, shape the butter as you like, wrap it well, and refrigerate. The butter will keep for up to a week.
Lamb Fat and Spinach Chapati
Makes 8 chapatis
1 bunch spinach
2 cups whole wheat flour, sifted
2 tsps cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
1 ½ tsps fine sea salt
3 Tablespoons rendered lamb fat, melted (see tip, below)
About ¾ cup water
Rinse the spinach well and remove the stems. Transfer to a colander to drain. Place a large frying pan over high heat and, when it is hot, add the spinach. Cook stirring, until the spinach wilts. Tip the spinach back into the colander and refresh under cold running water. Squeeze out the water and chop coarsely; you should have about 1 cup.
Combine the spinach, flour, cumin, and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add 1 tablespoon of the lamb fat and pulse to blend. Tip the flour mixture into a bowl, add the water, and stir with a fork to make a soft dough. The amount of water needed will depend on your flour and the amount of water left in the spinach. Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes to make a soft, pliable dough. Let the dough rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Divide the dough into 8 balls of equal size. Working with one ball at a time and leaving the rest of them covered, toll the ball into 8-inch round and place on the prepared backing sheet. Continue with the remaining balls, layering a piece of waxed paper between each dough round in the stack. Keep the dough covered with a cloth.
Heat a cast-iron frying pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add a dough round and cook until small bubbles form and the bread form and the bread turns brown in spots, about 1 minute. Turn the bread over and cook the other side until the bread puffs up, about 1 minute. You can encourage the bread to puff by pressing down on the air bubbles as they form with a clean towel. This will help the air expand through the dough and puff it up.
Brush one side of the cooked chapati with some melted lamb fat and wrap in a clean towel to keep warm and soft. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds and serve immediately.
Tip: To yield enough lamb fat for this recipe you’ll need to render about 4 ounces of lamb fat.
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