Tuesday, September 30, 2008

[Hunger Art]Total Utilization of a Duck

by Mike Pardus

In keeping with our inter-blog discussion on consomme and total utility of food products, I offer this video series in 3 parts (again, YouTube limitations).

The action moves pretty quickly and assumes that you already know how to "break down" a bird. If there's interest, I'll shoot a "Poultry Butchering 101" video later this week.

Oh, before you watch, I'd better explain something.

This demo came out of a discussion about the immorality of wasting food - specifically food that an animal has died to give us. In the video, I talk a lot about total utility and avoidance of waste from a purely financial perspective. Some of my students are at the cutting edge of the sustainable food movement and understand the morality perfectly well while others haven't yet gotten that far yet: they like to cook, it's fun, it's on TV, it's cool, that's it.

Whether they are from one camp or the other, if they make it to the next level, they're going to have to survive in the restaurant business for a long time before they can hope to make an impact on the morality of their peers and the public.

I'm telling you all of this because my monologue mostly addresses the business end of the chain and I wanted you to be sure that you were aware of its primary intent.

Oh, and one more thing, I can already hear some of you asking "But what about the morality of charging $200 for a few duck scraps?" That's like asking an artist to justify the price tag on a painting relative to the cost of the paint. You're not paying for the paint - you're paying for the work created from the paint using years of hard earned, accumulated skill.

Wow, that took more words than I wanted to use...start the video, Bob.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mayonnaise Machine

One of the easiest ways to make mayonnaise is in a Cuisinart food processor. I suppose there are other brands that work as well, but I'm not a fraking Consumer Reports reporter and I'm not about to go out and test them all.

The default configuration of the Cusinart (bowl with blade, lid and stomper) is ideally suited to making mayonnaise and any cold emulsion sauce where oil must be "whisked" into a watery suspending medium. (It is also great for water-in-oil emulsions.) What makes this machine such an effective and, I should add, convenient instrument of emulsification, is the broad and rapidly spinning blade that hugely increases the surface area upon which the oil is broken into droplets and the means by which the oil is delivered to the blade.

Note the hole in the bottom of the stomper in the lower-right hand corner of the photo below.

The Machine From mayo

That hole is there for at least two reasons:
  1. It helps to prevent stomper from creating a vacuum and getting stuck when you try to remove it
  2. It allows you to use the stomper to dribble a liquid substance (such as oil) into another substance (such as egg) without having to stand there wondering why you needed to go to school to find work as a statue.

From mayo

The Cuisinart is not great for making less than 8 ounces of mayonnaise, and I use it only when I need at least a quart. I use a stand-mixer when I need to make much more than a quart, and for smaller amounts the best machine is an immersion blender (or blender-on-a-stick, if you prefer) or you can use a whisk and bowl. However, none of these let you walk away from them while the oil is being introduced.

Here is a slideshow that shows me (my hands really) making mayonnaise at work this Saturday past. I'll anticipate at least one question about the recipe by saying that I often use whole eggs rather than yolks alone because it produces a lighter bodied and flavored sauce which I prefer for many preparations involving raw vegetables. The mayonnaise you see being constructed in the slide show was being made for dressing a chicken salad.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Beef Consomme - The Movie

From Consomme Demo

by Mike Pardus

A lot of chatter about making consomme on Ruhlman's site this week and some confusion I'd like to clear up. Making consomme is not difficult, but attention must be paid, rituals observed, and rules followed. Apparently, seeking clarity is part of the human condition. Remember: it's the journey toward clarity that's important, it teaches us so much.

The video is in two parts - YouTube couldn't swallow it whole. Please understand that, while shot at the CIA, it was done in one take, by me, using a small, hand held camera. The quality (or lack there-of) does not represent the standards of official CIA video productions.

Here's the Basic formula to yield 1 gallon:

6 quarts white beef stock ( chicken stock will do)
3# very lean ground beef(or chicken) - I prefer heart meat
1# standard mirepoix, chopped fine
12 egg whites, lightly frothed
1 small onion brulee
10-12 oz fresh tomatoes (Use canned or tomato pure in the winter)

Consomme, The Movie, Part Une: The Journey Begins

Consomme, Part Deux: Finding Clarity

Friday, September 26, 2008

Upscale NYC Market Charges 'Energy Surcharge'

Eli Zabar has decided to provoke his customers to think about about how the high cost of oil is affecting food prices by adding 1.8 % to the cost of whatever they purchase. It doesn't get much dumber than this folks. On the other hand, I suppose Eli might have recruited Al Gore to follow customers as they shop and point out how much the production of every loaf of bread and wheel of cheese contributes to global warming.

Upscale NYC Market Charges 'Energy Surcharge'

Monday, September 22, 2008

Rocco Dispirito Dances with Absurdity

I think Rocco Dispirito needs a new publicity agent. You know the kind I mean: an agent who will not let him take on work that actually has something to do with who he is (a chef) and not make him look foolish.

Beginning with his embarrassingly awful reality show "The Restaurant" RD's media work has been so terrible that it only shows up on my radar screen when it is so bad that I cannot ignore it. The last time I paid any attention to him he was endorsing cat food. Then this morning, the news that he is going to be on "Dancing with the Stars" showed up in my inbox.

I'm sorry, I am not making this up. Now I'm begging to wish I did not write this.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Outstanding in the Field

From Out Standing in the Field Event 2008

From Outstanding in the Field Menu

Melissa Kelly is a big name- James Beard Award winning chef, owner of Primo in Rockland, Maine; a 2nd Primo in Orlando; a 3rd in Tucson- she’s a “Celebrity Chef” in every sense of the term.

But in our house, she’s best know for hiring Penny and Samantha – two of my daughter’s favorite baby sitters. Sierra, my daughter, won’t even let me think about hiring sitters who are not aspiring chefs. If you can’t talk about how may covers you did on Saturday night or compare notes for working a wood fired oven, you’re not sitter material. Period. So, Melissa Kelly is a big name in our house because she hires Sierra’s “ Big sisters”.

There’s another important name in our house – Anita Eisenhauer, Chef Instructor at the CIA and the woman Sierra chose to interview for her third grade project on “Influential Women”.

So, when Anita and Melissa teamed up with Jim Denevan and his Outstanding in the Field project to bring a “farm to fork” event to the Hudson Valley, and they invited Sierra and I to help prep and then attend the dinner as guests…well, Sunday was booked.

It was a long day – we got up early to make ginger-peach muffins to bring to the Chefs, helped prep at the CIA, then changed cloths and drove up to Greig Farm in Red Hook, NY to sit at a table for 120 set in a cornfield and enjoy a bountiful feast in a beautiful place under a clear sky with a full harvest moon rising.

And it was a fantastic day- I got to see my students in a full blown display of hard work fueled by passion; I got to watch, help, and hang out with good friends and colleagues; I got to witness the logistics of an unlikely, but hugely successful culinary theater production; I got to make new friends and dine with them in a fairy-tale setting; and best of all – I got to watch my little girl watch her heroes prove that strong women doing hard work can make magic. I’m incredibly grateful to Anita and Melissa for that.

Chilly economy fires up home cooking

Chilly economy fires up home cooking, experts say -and when experts talk, we all listen, right?

Friday, September 19, 2008

An Explanation and Thanks

Earlier today I pulled down several posts I'd written about the consequences of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's decision to suspend permission tor Hendricks Farms and Dairy (where I am chef) to sell raw -unpasteurized- milk. I decided to take down the posts following the advice of counsel who worried that the State might find something in them that was offensive , inflammatory or defamatory and thereby compound what was already an awful problem.

So, not wanting to be the potential cause of any trouble for Trent Hendricks and his family, I removed the posts. While I am not at all happy that I chose to remove information that I believed (and still believe) was true, I am equally sure that it was the right thing to do given the uncertain and by all appearances tenuous condition of the Hendricks farm and family during the previous week.

But all is well that ends well and today the State reinstated our permit to sell raw milk.

I'd like to thank all of you who have written to me or commented on the retracted posts. Your kind words of support and in some cases, willingness to act, mean a lot. Finally, I hope that you do not see my failure to keep the balloon of information in the air as a sign of anything other than me wanting to do the right thing and perhaps, screwing it all up.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

HSUS foie gras lawsuit dismissed

The Humane Society of the United States and other opponents of foie gras production don't seem to be able to get a break these days. In May, the Chicago City Council overturned a ban on the sale of foie gras and today I read that a judge in New York dismissed a lawsuit brought by the animal rights group against one of the leading produces of foie gras in the United States, Hudson Valley Farms. The suit was actually filed against the Empire State Development Corp - a state run organization that sought to help the farm with $420,000 grant to expand its waste treatment facilities.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wake Up Call

Take a look at who you are buying from when you purchase organic food in the supermarket. I promise it'll raise at least one eyebrow.


Eating veggies shrinks the brain

Eating vegetables can turn you into a vegetable?

Hmmm...this would seem to give credence to the oft-made assertion that one is what one eats.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cow Gives Birth, AHA is Humbled

I continue to scratch my head whenever I think about what I do for a living. I mean, think about it. I love to cook and am endlessly fascinated by every detail of the process of preparing food for human consumption and consideration. And now I find myself working at a farm that produces amazing eggs, pristine milk, beautiful pigs, tomatoes, melons and potatoes you would marry if your religion or the law allowed it.
I suppose I sound (not atypically) overawed, but today I have an excuse: one of our cows calved and I got to see the whole process. Watching a calf being born is not as poignant as seeing your own kid come into the world, but its' pretty impressive. Especially when you consider (as I did today) that in a few months you were going to be turning the newborn into somebody's dinner.

Please check out the photos (below) I took today of a bull calf's birth. Also have a look at the quinoa harvest hanging in the barn and the masonry bread oven we are building.

I did not caption these pictures much, so if you would like clarification, just ask and I will answer.There's a lot of them (>70) and you will find them easier to view if you double click the slide show. That'll redirect you to my Picassa home page where they can be viewed in a larger format.

Finally, a heartfelt thanks to you all for the warm and enthusiastic response to my dear friend Mike Pardus' posts. I don't know about you all, but I'm hoping that he continues to post here forever. Mike is a true hunger artist and someone whose voice deserves a much bigger audience than I or anyone I know can provide.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ginger-Lime Cooler - Post Script from Kerala

From Anu's Ginger Lime Drink

In an earlier post I mentioned being greeted at Philipkutty Farm with a glass of incredible lime-ginger cooler...I'd left my note book behind and had to wait for it to be sent along before I posted the recipe...I had my students make a batch in class today and it was every bit as awesome as it was on the plantation. Here's the recipe, but feel free to play with it - tangerine-cinnamon cooler? lemon-black pepper? grapefruit-cardamom?...and the syrup would make an excellent sorbet base. Make it in BIG batches and keep, tightly sealed, in the fridge for a quick cooler whenever you need one - with all of that sugar, it has the shelf life of plutonium. If really inspired, you could use it to soak pound cake with...or add vodka to before dinner for something truely "cosmopolitan" - endless possibilities for this "simple" syrup.

2 cups freshly squeezed lime juice
150 g fresh ginger, crushed
2 kg. white sugar
750 ml water

combine in a large sauce pan, bring to a boil to dissolve sugar, strain solids away, cool.
store in tightly sealed glass container in refrigerator. Mix with cold water and ice to taste for a refreshing beverage.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pardus Uses Child Labor to Make Dough

Ok, it's back-to-school time. Reading this blog, I'm sure you pack your kid's lunch, but if your kid is anything like mine, the Ciabatta bill is gonna be into triple digits -per-month. So...in order to afford the demand for Parma Prosciutto instead of PB&J, I had to come up with an financially sound, educationally prodcutive, emotionally satisfying, and FUN way to quell the carbo craving of a 10 year old food snob.

A few months ago, Ruhlman challenged me to bake my own bread each day - too simple and too cheap not to, he said - only a whimp would buy when it was so simple to make. Hmmm...I felt a reverse snowstorm effect brewing if I didn't at least TRY to get there. So I did...turned out to be amazingly simple - less than 10 minutes a day of active work, easily incorporated into the daily routine. So much so that when my daughter started back to school and wanted WHITE bread in her lunch, I just told her "make it yourself".

And she did, and has continued. We find that it helps us bond, gives us something to do while we talk and unwind; she finds that it increases her social status in the lunch room - "I baked it myself, want some?"; and I find that I can tie it into math, science, social studies, and art.

Ruhlman is right - a well organized adult can whip out two loaves a day in less than 10 minutes active work. Toss in the bonding and fun factors and it's a 30 minute routine that we enjoy almost every day - especially now that her market share in the lunch room has overtaken Pillsbury's.

You'll need:

A Kitchen Aide mixer with dough hook(or similar stand-up, heavy duty machine)
A digital scale
A vessel for holding 300 ml water
A set of measuring spoons
A rubber spatula
A dough cutter (bench scraper)
A sack of Bread Flour (we use King Arthur brand Bread Flour)
A box of salt
A jar of active dry yeast
An oven
A cookie sheet (sheet tray) or some ceramic oven tiles
A bread peal
A sack of corn meal
A spray bottle with water
A willing 10 year old food snob

500 grams flour
300 grams warm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
15 grams (1 1/2 Tablespoons) Salt


Meet kid at bus stop
Talk about the day and offer to make a light snack (keep it light as as not to diminish motivation)
While you make snack, have kid set up station (watching Ratatouille several times before hand helps keep things clean here)
Weigh empty water vessel, tare scale to zero
Add warm water to vessel, check weight at 300 grams
Add yeast to water, stir, allow to sit
Zero scale, weigh mixing bowl, tare scale to zero
Weigh 500 grams of bread flour into mixong bowl
Add 15 grams salt to flour
Place mixing bowl - with flour and salt - onto mixer and attach dough hook
Turn machine onto "low" setting
Add yeast and water to flour mixture - don't' be afraid to add a "splash" more water to help get all of the yeast out.
Increase speed of machine to combine liquid and solids. Stop machine and scrape down sides into center, if needed, to combine
Set timer for 12 minutes, allow bread to knead until timer goes off
Remove hook and bowl from machine, remove dough from hook.
Pat dough down into bottom of bowl, cover bowl with kitchen towel or plastic wrap and allow to sit until dough has doubled in volume - about 1 hour (enough to do 5th grade homework or practice trumpet and clean bedroom).
Remove dough from bowl, divide into 10 equal portions and shape into rolls for sharing at Lunch table.
Place shaped dough onto dough peal which has been dusted with corn meal or coarse flour.
Place kitchen towel over rolls and allow to rise again while oven (with tiles or cookie sheet) is preheated to 375 degrees F.
When rolls have doubled in size, remove towel and slide rolls off of peal and onto hot tiles or sheet.
Spray water into hot oven - about 6-8 "spritzes" - and close the door.
Set oven timer for 20 minutes and bake until rolls are a light golden.
Remove rolls from oven, place on mesh rack to cool, call kid into kitchen and allow 1 hot roll - with butter - to be consumed before they cool.
When rolls are cool, place in zip lock bag, pack into school bag the following morning, and wait until kid returns with head full of "awesome" praise to repeat.

If you're lucky, you can tie this in with math - ratios, division, metric conversion; science - yeast growth and by-products of CO2 and alcohol; social studies - breads of the world/staff of life; and manual dexterity/arts and crafts.

And it's gonna save you $25 bucks a week in bread bills...honest.

Child Labor is Not Kosher (Apologies to M. Pardus)

I know that knowing who is raising and slaughtering the animals for meat is no guarantee that what you buy will have been raised and processed in an ethical manner. However, it stands to reason that if you do buy your meat from a primary producer and you discover that he/she is abusing workers or animals you'd do something about it straight away, right?

Of course you would.

The news that "the nation's largest kosher meatpacking plant [was charged] with more than 9,000 misdemeanors alleging child labor law violations" should be seen as a reminder that the best way to ensure that your food is produced in an ethical manner is to be as directly involved in it's production as is possible and practical.

Slaughterhouse charged with using child labor

Monday, September 8, 2008

Burglar wakes men with spice rub

This is the kind of thing that happens when criminals are not allowed to own guns. When is the American public going to wake up and force federal and state governments to lower the barriers to gun ownership, so that criminals are not reduced to using spice as a weapon? :)

Burglar wakes men with spice rub

Sunday, September 7, 2008

UN says eat less meat to curb global warming

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommends that we eat less meat because

"of the huge greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental problems - including habitat destruction - associated with rearing cattle and other animals."

He goes on to say that it's easier to change eating habits than it is to change how we get about.

Yeah, right.

UN says eat less meat to curb global warming

Oven Takes a Hard Turn

As you see in the preceding slide show, our cob oven project has taken a radical turn since I last posted about it. The original idea was to build a 8X6 foot base with a fire brick deck then plop a 39 inch exterior diameter cob oven on top. The remaining deck surface would be reserved for food preparation and staging, and perhaps a charcoal grill. Well, we are no longer making a cob oven. Instead, we decided to build a much bigger oven out of brick and mortar.

Trent decided that if we were going to go through the trouble of building something as prominent as an outdoor oven, we may as well make it as durable as possible. So we are making it out of firebrick and mortar instead of clay, sand and straw. Since Trent is paying for the thing and it is on his farm, I could not exactly argue with him, but building the new version is proving to be more of a challenge than I'd signed on for. Building a cob oven is like finger-painting.

You make a dome out of sand, cover it with cob, let it set, cut out a door and you are done. Elementary school kids can -and do- make cob ovens: masonry ovens are for adults only.

I'm loving building this, believe me, but laying block and brick requires far more precision than the kind of masonry I'm used to doing. (Dry-stacking and occasionally mortaring field stone for walls and bedding stone for decks and paths.) But we're cool. At almost 3 foot wide and 4.5 foot deep , the new oven is going to be comparatively huge. Certainly big enough to roast a 6 month old hog or bake a half dozen pizzas at once.

Perhaps it is obvious that I have not been doing much cooking at the farm these days. Neither have I made any salumi -which is beginning to freak me out because soon we will be sold out of the last batch I made 5 weeks ago. I hate not having anything hanging in the aging room, but I suppose I'll get over it. Besides, I'm so psyched to get the oven built that I bolted down to my shop last night after dinner and built the jig for the arches that will comprise the ceiling vault.

You can see the jig in my shop in the next slide show. I'll anticipate your questions about the heads on the shop wall by telling you that I found the goat head on the sidewalk outside of a high school (where I taught biology) in Queens, NY. The robotized chimpanzee head was a Christmas gift from my wife and children.

Hey, why are you laughing? Doesn't everyone have goat and monkey heads in they shop? [sic]

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Why do people need to do this sort of thing? I'm sure I could spin a half-dozen credible reasons that explain this kind of behavior, but no way could I explain it to my or to your satisfaction.

Feel free to chime in. I'm chiming out for now.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mumbai Street Food and Bye-Bye India - Mike Pardus

My flight got messed up, originally I was supposed to leave this morning from the farm at 6:30 am for a 9:45 am flight from Kochi to Mumbai, but Air India canceled the 6:45 flight – and the only alternative they could offer was for me to leave on their 3:45 am flight and then wait 20 hours for the 0:15 am flight from Mumbai- JFK on Wednesday. A 20 hour layover in Mumbai…cool! AI agreed to give me a hotel room for the layover…so, I arranged for a car and a guide from 12-8 pm, went to the hotel, got a few hours of sleep and then hit the streets.

My guide is Mrs. Doshi, an Indian woman who had lived in the US for many years, has a Master’s degree in Anthropology and a passion for food. After a short discussion about what I was looking for, we took off for downtown. First stop was Crawford Market – although she described it as “Like Costco” – and it is to some extent – the produce section was full and rich and colorful. A quick look around confirmed that there was nothing “new” and I was headed for the door when I did see something new. “What’s that?


“Shingoda” she replied…”try one, peel it first”…she had a few words with the vendor and I was popping one into my mouth. Shingoda is a sweet, crunchy, slightly starchy – like a water chestnut. “We use it for soups and curries” my guide explained. Searching on the ‘net later I see that some people are saying that they are the same thing, but they’re not – the closest I can find is “Water Caltrop”, which are unrelated to Chinese water chestnuts, but the pictures are all of dried ones with hard shells ( they're invasive to the hudson River so I see a lot of them here), not the fresh ones shown above. If anyone has any definitive information, pass it on.

After leaving Crawford Market I was determined to eat some of Mumbai’s famous crunchy street foods, but Mrs. Doshi doesn’t want me getting sick on her watch…”You’ve been in India 10 days, you don’t want to be sick going home, I’ll take you to a place that I know is clean and you can taste the same things while we sit down – you can taste and take notes and I’ll tell you about them.” Sounds good to me.

Mrs. Doshi instructs the driver to take us into the financial district – it’s only 2:00 pm, so most of India’s yuppie traders are still at work and “Vithal Family Restaurant” is empty. As we enter, Mrs. Doshi greets the waiters with familiarity, explaining who I am and why I was there, and they start bringing us small plates of crispy, crunchy things – miniature puri , bowls of fried chick-pea flour vermicelli, and puffed rice – accompanied by ramekins of sweet, sour, spicy, creamy, and herbal condiments. Ragda Pattie, Bhelpuris, Panipuris, dahibatatapuri, and the fried cheese on top of flat “failed” puri – paneertikka. Are all more or less variations on a theme. Basically, take something crunchy – like puris (fried flat bread which puffs in the center to make a hollow ball) – and fill it with a variety of tastes and textures to play with your palate. The typical condiments for these are all similar, or identical, as well – date/tamarind chutney, mint/cilantro chutney, sprouted mung beans, minced raw onion or shallot, red chili flakes or fresh green chilies, yogurt.

After lunch – with lots of photo and note taking – Mrs. Doshi shows me around the city on a whirl wind tour – or as fast as one can whirl in Mumbai traffic. The contrast between the regal colonial architecture and the abject poverty of cardboard shacks is not unexpected, but unsettling none the less. The Bay in “Bom Bay” is a beautiful crescent opening into the Arabian sea that the urban sprawl can’t seem to ruin.

By 7:00 pm I’ve been awake for 26 hours and still need to push another 12 hours before allowing myself sleep on the plane – my “anti jet lag” strategy is to stay awake until I’m 8-9 hours from New York, I’m scheduled to land at 7:00 am NY time, so I figure that if I wake up after 8 hours of sleep at 7:00 am local time I’ll be well on my way to normal in a day or two.

Mrs. Doshi recommends an upscale tandoori style restaurant near the airport and bids me a safe trip. Dinner of roasted fish and curried vegetables is fine and satisfying, the airport is crowded and hectic, but finally I board the plane, fold myself into my space, and relax while trying not to sleep.

My sleep strategy seems to have worked, I’m a little dis-oriented (no pun intended, but I’ll take ‘em where I find ‘em), but otherwise in good shape. Chuck Berry sound track playing in my head on the way home I feel guiltily American…I’m DYING for Cheese burger, French fries and a cold, hoppy beer (yeah, it's 7:00 AM and, yeah, I'm going to have a beer...)