Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Does Your Broth Jiggle?

If it wobbles, jiggles bounces or shakes, your in good shape.

I've posted a fair amount on broth; how to make it, and why it's important, but haven't gone into too much detail on gelatin. If you make broth and chill it, and it cools to a aspic or jello consistency, this means you've gotten the gold.

Not only is gelatin good for the skin and joints, it soothes digestion and has been proven to help digest the proteins in wheat, oats, barley and dairy. By promoting gastric juices, gelatin is an overall digestive aid, perhaps why we crave it when we are sick. As the body is compromised fighting colds or other infections, gelatin is already broken down into easily absorbed amino acids, containing essential trace minerals while offering the digestive tract a break.

I prefer making broth with chicken or duck feet, which are very high in gelatin. But you can also get plenty of gelatin from bones.

Lately I have been slow cooking whole chickens or a couple pounds of chicken legs in a dry crock pot with a chopped onion, garlic, a lemon, sea salt and black pepper. The meat tenderizes beautifully over the course of a full day, and the liquid produced during the process is chock full of gelatin. I strain and chill it, then skim away most of the fat. The result is a concentrated jiggly bounty (pictured). It freezes well and serves as an excellent base for soups and sauces.

With cold season upon us, this stuff will keep you from running to the drugstore the next time you're laid-up on the couch. Make it now, throw it in the freezer, then warm it up and sip when you need a boost.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fall Equinox

Braising some local beef, hanging garlands and collecting lucky buckeyes. 

Welcome Autumn!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Summer Flashbacks

Just after the Spring equinox, when everything was stirring, I bid farewell to my longtime friend Micah. It took two full seasons to just now sorta talk about it. I got him as a puppy when I was 16.  We had 14 years together.

He was better than perfect. I got lucky to find this guy.

Then summer happened:

Ready for the next round.
 Goodbye sweet summertime...

Friday, September 19, 2014

Asheville's Walking Food Tour

(Last week's piece for Asheville Grit:)

Eating Asheville Tours
BY: RACHEL BROWNLEE | Friday, September 12, 2014 - 10:18am

-Sunburst Trout crostini and sparkling white wine at the Downtown Book Exchange-

The tour really isn’t something locals do, but then again I long ago made myself exempt from that list. After all, I’m a food writer who eats at a restaurant maybe once every six weeks? So here is the disclaimer on this post: I am not a food critic. Never have been and have no interest in being. I write about what producers are doing, and what I do in my kitchen, not how my steak was executed at the newest downtown hot spot. I have respect for the latter (if I dig deep), but no desire to do it. At the risk of sounding like a bleeding-heart bohemian, in a world where most eat only what they have access to, I have always been the type who is glad to consume just about anything if hungry enough. 
    It’s not about knowing the difference between brilliant food and the opposite, maybe it’s more a matter of my roots. I grew up in a loving, low-budget household of an avid hunter and have eaten some colorful offerings over the years. Piles of buckshot were regular on our dinner plates growing up. Sometimes my siblings and I even made a game out of who collected the most. Fortunately kids get hungry after playing all day, which is the best sauce for all things squirrel and whistle pig, although nary a sauce was needed for the usual servings of elk, goose, or venison. I am grateful I was fed, and still feel the same way. Though nowadays I don’t miss pulling shrapnel from my food (this was really only when we had squirrel or doves by the way). Anyhow, this is a clean story about a sweet food tour in a historical downtown, told by a girl who still loves to be fed, and especially likes to get full.
    My friend Lindsay invited me to be her guest for Eating Asheville’s Thursday Walking Food Tour, of which her husband Stuart is the guide. I knew Stu would be entertaining and a good person to follow into a restaurant as a seasoned foodie and professionally trained student of the culinary arts. He is also the handsome face among the talented staff at Table. A good person to have showing you around.
-Shrimp hushpuppies at Imperial-

    The idea of the tour is to give participants a chance to sample an assortment of downtown cuisine within a fixed price and time period (about 2.5 hours at about $50) while offering educational dialogue on historic Asheville and background on local chefs making waves. For the restaurants/chefs involved, they gain the benefit of catering directly to their prime consumers (tourists) whom they rely on to talk to their friends and tell them how amazing the amuse bouche was at such-and-such while visiting Asheville, and to come back for more. A brilliant way to advertise. 
    The top of the list: Cucina 24. As our first stop after our initial meet-up with sparkling wine andSunburst Trout crostini at the Battery Park Book Exchange, (Cucina'sChef Brian Canipelligave it to us right: seared octopus and market cherry tomatoes scattered with pancetta. It was a warm heap of everything you would want in a dish. The octopus was tender, the tomatoes held up to the heat but surrendered easily in a burst of heirloom, seedy juice. The whole dish had a good bit of spice but of the right caliber, tempered by swallows of fine red (I can’t remember what it was, but it was from a region of good wine makers probably somewhere in Europe who most likely also eat octopus regularly.) This was the highlight of the tour. Canipelli gave us an ample serving, he spoke about why he does what he does and made us feel welcome before going back to his kitchen to prepare for the evening rush.
-Plates awaiting octopus at Cucina 24-

    Then we were off to the next stop, with octopus and red wine priming our bellies. Stuart kept us on schedule without feeling rushed and had us laughing with his charming wit as we strolled from place to place. We were in each space for about 15 minutes, sampling and sipping. 
    We had shrimp encased in a crunchy hush puppy with house-made slaw, micro greens and white wine at The Imperial Life; gelato and truffles at Chocolate Gems; orecchiette in a garlicky parmesan sauce with white wine at Strada Italiano; okra chips and authentically inspired nibbles with a honey-lime rum cocktail at MG Road; and ended the tour with a brisket-and-sweet-roll bang washed down with strawberry sangria at Zambra
-MG Road-

-Truffles at Chocolate Gems-

-Brisket at Zambra-

    The tour included enough food and drink to feel full and adequately buzzed by the end. I enjoyed getting to know some of the places I would have otherwise glossed over, and took away a healthy desire to have Cucina 24 be the destination for my next evening out. 
    Here is something I didn’t anticipate walking away with----a surprising appreciation for tourists. Aside from the usual gripes this class of individuals attracts, tourists have a strong place in this story. There are clear rewards in the symbiotic relationship between visiting out-of-towner’s and talented chefs provided enough traffic to support their artistry. Visitors come here to eat, sip and view, dropping their hard earned cash here while doing so. And at least they are the types looking for an experience we can give them, something not all cities can offer, well beyond an assortment of drive-thrus. We are not getting the Disney World crowd, but people with a desire to know more about why we live here.
A few bites in, I think they got the idea. Sans buckshot.
-At Strada. There I am in the navy stripes.-

-Lindsay with her rum cocktail at MG Road-

Photographs provided by Eating Asheville's Hank Fuseler (with the exception of the last one) http://hankfuseler.com/

To schedule a tour visit EatingAsheville.com

Thursday, September 18, 2014


The weeks leading up to the Autumn equinox have been full. So in place of a recipe, a few visuals from this afternoon:

Seeded Boule-Braising Mix-and Parmesan Strata

Roots coated in coconut oil before the oven

Today's garden samplings


The end.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

East Fork Farm Gristmill Cornbread

As if they didn't have enough projects going, East Fork Farm has restored an antique mill and crafted a fresh mill house to go along with it. Powered by their spring fed creek, the mill is up and running, grinding locally grown corn into grits and flour. Tonight we sampled the handiwork:

East Fork Farm Gristmill Cornbread:

*1/2 cup East Fork Farm Grits
*1/2 cup East Fork Farm corn flour
*1 cup quality all purpose flour
*1 T. aluminum free baking powder
*1 tsp. sea salt
*1 large egg
*5 T. unsalted butter
*1 cup buttermilk, well shaken
*1/2 cup raw honey
*1 cup fresh corn kernels

Preheat oven to 400.
Place butter in a 9-10'' cast iron skillet and put in the oven.
Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
Remove skillet from oven and pour melted butter into a separate bowl. Add egg, butter, buttermilk and honey to melted butter. Whisk. Blend wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until combined. Stir in corn kernels.
Pour batter into skillet and bake until completely golden. Serve with ample salted butter.