Our Inauguration LG Extravaganzas

Our Inauguration LG Extravaganzas

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Celebrating the second inauguration of our 44th President, Barack Obama, requires some festive foods. Our menu might not be as lavish as the Inaugural Luncheon but I am not about to loose focus from our low glycemic diet.

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No, we didn’t start the day with dessert, as the heading picture might suggest, but by a healthy juice inspired by Dr. Ali’s breakfast protocole. Juicing is now part of our daily routine & due to a low glycemic diet I rarely include fruits; but today being a festive day I included a red grapefruit —25 on GI scale when banana scores 45 & watermelon 76— accompanied by bok choy, celery, parsley, fresh turmeric & ginger roots, dandelions. And after our 5K walk the Tasty Pearl Barley Pabulum hit the spot:

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1 cup of cooked barley
1/4 green apple
cinnamon, roasted pumpkin seeds
moisten with home made almond milk.
Almond Milk:
Don’t get put off by homemade almond milk, it is actually quite simple & will serve two purpose here. To make the milk, soak 1/2 lb of organic almond in filtered water overnight. In the morning pour out the water, rinse almonds until the water runs clear. Add 1 quart of filtered water to the almond then process one ladle full of almonds & water at a time into the top of the juicer —I use a Vert VRT350 Juice & I am pretty happy with it. Reserve in bottle and save in the fridge. I do save  the meal that comes out on the other side. I dry it and use for many other recipe.

Inaugural Dunch

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Garlic Roasted Turkey Breast with Organic NYS Red Merlot Beans

Preheat the oven to 320°.  Grate 2 cloves of garlic, add olive oil, salt & pepper. Rub this paste thoroughly all over the turkey breast. Put a ramequin of water into the oven; it will keep the meat moist. Roast the turkey breast in the oven until thermometer reaches 160°.

To mirror the many New York State items on the Inaugural Luncheon I cooked NYS Red Merlot beans —available at the Park Slope foodcoop. These wonderful beans have a thin skin, are creamy though stay firm throughout. 

1/2 lb of  Org. NYS Merlot beans (or other red bean) soaked over night, then brought to a  boil in fresh water once and let sit for one hour before using in stew (for some reason I think it makes them more digestible).

1 onion finely chopped, goldened in the pan with olive oil
2 ribs celery
Lightly toast pumpkin & cumin seeds in a cast iron pan, then grind in a coffee grinder — I have one that I use only for spices —& add to the beans .

Add 1 seeded jalapeño pepper & 2 cloves of chopped garlic
Salt & Pepper
Bring to a gentle boil, turn it down & let simmer for 2/3 hours.

Lemon Cheesecake Mousse with Coconut Almond cookies

The cookies are essentiel to make this tart, festive, deconstructed Low Glycemic cheesecake work.
The custard:
Ben’s Cream cheese
Warm the juice of 2 lemon (Meyer if possible) in a pan
add 1/2 packet plain gelatine
Stevia to taste
Blend cream cheese,  juice w/ melted gelatin/ stevia

The cookies:
1 1/2 cup of almond meal —saved form several batches of making almond milk
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
Stevia to taste.
Mix, make the paste in a roll. Cut & bake  at 300° for about 25 minutes .


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 Supper Time:

And while watching —& dancing to— the Presidential Inauguration Ball, we had Pierre’s delicious Belgium endive salad with Humbolt Fog goat creamy cheese & walnuts, dressed with a light mustard & olive oil vinaigrette.  And to finish on a sweet note we had a small serving of goat cheese yogurt with fresh ginger, walnut, stevia & a few blueberries. Now, if we did our calculation right it looks like our glycemic load for the day is about 52 —under 55 considered low. But please correct me if I am wrong, I am still in training!

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Passion Cabbage

Passion Cabbage

I am very passionate about cabbage and a few years back I dedicated two blogs to it.
Cabbage: a winner for the winter (I)
Cabbage: a winner for the winter (II) 

Today I came up with an other version of cole slaw. So bright, so crisp, so healthy that I can assure you,  this dish will make you smile on the dreariest foggiest winter days.
Try it!
Ingredients:
Finely chopped green cabbage/onion/ celery/ apple/ parsley
add fresh pomegranate &  satsuma
Dressing:
Fresh grated ginger & clove of garlic
juice of 1 Mayer lemon
rice vinegar
soy sauce
mostly sesame oil
a little olive oil

 

 

aMAIZing

aMAIZing

Zea Mays

When Colombus discovered the existence of corn (maize) in November 1492 on the island which today is called Cuba, he noted in his diary that “there are large cultivated areas which produce roots [cassava], a sort of bean [the haricot], and a sort of grain called maize.” He certainly had no idea that maize was already ruling the entire Americas, being under cultivation from southern Canada to lower South America. Mahiz is the phonetic name Colombus picked up from the natives. When European botanists began to list maize in their indexes, it became Zea Mays, Zea being a Greco-Latin generic name for wheat like grains and Mays the Latinized version of the original Taino name mahiz which means “life-giver”. How appropriate, maize being the most productive of the grasses but also the only cereal which cannot reproduce itself without the aid of men.

So how did maize become domesticated? Well, do not expect me to give you a precise explanation of the mysteries of the origin and domestication of maize when the “professionals” have been fighting over this issue for half a century. In her book The Story of Corn, Betty Fussel dedicates an entire chapter to the “Corn War” that started in the 50’s. One school, led by Havard Prize winner Paul Mangelsdorf, believed in — and searched for — the “primal ear,” convinced that the ancestor of cultivated corn was some kind of ur-corn. The other school, led by Nobel prize winner Georges Wells Beaddle, discovered through chromosomal interbreeding experiments that corn evolved from a kindred grass called teosinte, a wild grass still found south-west of Mexico City. This seems to be today’s consensus:

“Everybody agrees that domestic corn began about ten thousand years ago and that the place was Mexico and that present-day corn came, one way or another, from the interbreeding of teosinte and maize.”

Thus Garrison Wilkes of the University of Massachuset as interviewed by Betty Fussel. The explanation of how it happened is however still in the ground, and even though archeologists, scientists and botanists all believe that Mexico is the cradle of maize, the oldest — 7,000 years old! — carbon-dated trace was recently found in Panama.

What we do know for sure is the profound cultural/economic importance of maize. The Encyclopedia Britannica, for example, describes it as “the grain that built a hemisphere”. For the Incas, the Mayas, the Zapotecs, the Aztecs, the Zunis, the Iroquois — to only name a few — maize was also a core element of their spiritual life. As Eduardo Galeano was aware long ago:

Guatemala City, 1775
Nor do the Indians come to Mass. They do not respond to announcements of the bell. They have to be sought out on horse back in villages and fields and dragged in by force. Absence is punished with eight lashes, but Mass offends the Mayan gods and that has more power than fear of the thong. Fifty times a year, the Mass interrupts work in the fields, the daily ceremony of communion with the earth. For the Indians, accompanying step by step the corn’s cycle of death and resurrection is a way of praying; and the earth, that immense temple, is their day-to-day testimony to the miracle of life being reborn. For them all earth is a church, all woods a sanctuary.

The settlers called maize Indian Corn and when the grain reached Europe — 50 years after Columbus — it became known as Turkish Corn. At that time Turkey was often a convenient origin for unknown alien produce, flower or animal. There is a logical explanation though, as most of the New World produce entered the Old World from the eastern side of the Mediterranean basin and not as one might think through Spain, Portugal or Italy.

Since then the entire world diet depends on corn and the corn situation today would require several post. I intend to complete the article at some point.

The sweet corn that we enjoy throughout the summer should be eaten immediately after being picked because as soon as the ear is separated from the stalk the sugar begins to turn to starch. As Waverly Root writes in Food:

“Sweet corn is botanically green but gastronomically ripe…..Mark Twain recommended putting a kettle of water in the middle of the corn field, building a fire under it and, when the water begins to boil, picking the ears within reach and shucking them directly into the kettle”.

My favorite way of having sweet corn is a northeastern Native American recipe which I found in Cooking with Spirit by Darcy Williamson and Lisa Railsback:

“Pull husk halfway down ears of corn and remove silk and sprinkle with sea water. Pull husk back over and twist shut. Place over hot coals and turn frequently for about 12 minutes.”

Obviously, for those who do not live by the ocean, salted water will  have to do the trick. I use a bit of wire to keep the ear tightly shut. Don’t forget to turn it over frequently, then just add some butter and salt. After 12 minutes on the barbecue you will have the best corn ever.

Wild Wild Roast

Wild Wild Roast

Leg of Izard

“No, I’m not coming to eat endangered animal meat,” says Miles. He is talking about the leg of izard, a.k.a:  Rupicapra pyrenaica or Pyrenean chamois I cooked on a string before an open fire a few days before our departure from Bourg d’Oueil.
Too bad & more for us! It is a very special occasion as Pierre, my husband, waited patiently for close to twenty years to taste this exquisite & very hard to hunt Pyrenean wild goat. And no, it is not an endangered animal (Miles overstated his case), though it is indeed a protected species.

My close friend Joseph Garcès had heard from my dad that Pierre never tasted izard, so he brought us a leg that was hunted as ethically as possible by his nephew Jean-Claude. In the Pyrenees getting izard meat as a present is a significant gauge of friendship and esteem, all the more so if you are offered the gigot (the leg), as it is the best cut.  It is short notice, but I am inviting Joseph and his partner Paulette to eat with us.
The leg is frozen as it was killed during the short and very regulated Izard hunting season last year. Once a year a team of garde chasse —government paid national hunting wardens— goes out to count the animals and apportion how many it will be safe to kill in a particular district. If the lot of apportioned animals is killed before the end of the hunting season, then the hunt is shut down for that year.

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Izard hunting is not just a walk in the woods. It takes serious hiking and the chase can last a few days. The beautiful, elegant and fast wild goats rarely hang out below 6000 feet, except in the winter when there is snow and they come under the tree line to find food in the forest. Their weight averages about 60 lbs for a height of about 3 feet. They love to be on steep rock debris covered slopes, and often “perch” on top of a dramatic mountain peak. It is impressive to see them climb straight up these abrupt terrains with a fast and sure hoof. The izard is the totem animal of the Pyrenees.

Izard by Nicole Peyrafitte

There are good reasons why izards are protected. The more disconcerting problem is the outbreak of the strange “Border Disease Virus” (BDV), a worldwide virus usually affecting only domesticated animals, that was detected around 2001 in the izard population. The pestivirus  Border disease virus, is closely related to Bovine virus diarrhea and Classical swine fever virus, not to be mistaken with the swine flu. At this point it is difficult to get accurate public information, but the general sense is that after the epidemic peaked around 2005, the situation has improved. It is still unknown why some areas of the Pyrenees are more affected than others.  My area is one of the less affected ones. There is always a few braconnier –poachers—, who hunt off-season, preferably in the winter when the animals are more vulnerable and easier to track. They use forbidden sniper rifles with silencers. If they get caught they can serve jail time & pay high fines. Another problem talked about is that the deer, introduced into the Pyrenees only in the 1970’s, deplete the resources the izards survive on, especially in winter. I will refrain from discussing the polemic subject of animal introduction or reintroduction in that region; this is a very heated topic especially when it comes to the bear issue.

This being said, it’s been more than 10 years that I ate a leg of izard. My brother Pierre, a barbeque expert, had roasted it inside his fireplace hanging on a string, and that’s the way I’m going to do it too:

Two days ahead I take the leg out of the freezer. The night before dinner I immerse it in a marinade of red wine, onions, garlic, herbs, pepper and a touch of honey —the one Joseph collects from his bees. I also install the nail inside the top frame of the hearth of the fireplace. I wanted to have about 3 hours before Joseph and Paulette were to arrive, but I got delayed visiting my dad and doing errands in town. I have only a couple of hours.  The priority is to start a roaring fire and get the leg going, I have no idea how long it will take. Remember, I have never done this on my own, though I draw heavily on my vivid recollections of that day I sat with my brother and watched the leg roast while we sipped wine by the fire and gave the leg a little push once a while. I must admit that I am a bit nervous although I am trying to underplay Pierre’s anxiety. Yes! I started a little late, but I will play with the adjustable length of the string and will prop the leg as needed to make the cooking as efficient as possible. I know how to do that! I make the spaetzle with fatback and dried cèpes —I had hoped for fresh ones but none were found while we were there, the terrain was too dry. The guests arrive. Pierre says “it’s gonna take for ever!” I ignore the comment and rush them into having apéritifs. Everybody is more relaxed after the first whisky! I sensed that Paulette was also a little suspicious of my undertaking. The leg is definitely roasting well and there is plenty of food to nibble on while we wait. We serve some sardine tartines and the delicious pâté de chevreuil —venison pâté—Paulette made, followed by fresh goat cheese & tomato toasts.
It is intense: one side of my brain is totally engaged in the conversation that reveals some aspects of my family history Joseph & Paulette know a lot about, and the other side is directly connected to the leg in the fire! I occasionally sit down for a sip of wine and a bite of pâté, but I am mostly standing next to the fire moving the leg around, brushing it with olive oil & garlic until it finally looks done. At which point we all gather around the fire, I poke the leg with a long knife and the verdict is unanimous, there is no blood running when I pull the knife out, which means the meat is cooked! Joseph masterfully carves the burgundy colored red meat, showing off his 20 years of Maître d’H experience —14 of which were spent working at my family hotel. We all eat a lot of meat. It is tender, moist, it melts in the mouth and it is not as gamy as
I remember it.
I love the rare slices close to the bone. The red burgundy wine Joseph brought complements it beautifully (sorry I forgot to write down the info).

carving

We are sated but …what about a little slice of Poubeau cheese? O yeah! Just a tiny piece to finish the wine! And we can’t possibly ignore Paulette’s scrumptious and light fondant au chocolat.  Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, now let’s wash it all down with a 25 year old Armagnac to make sure we digest well!
Merci Joseph, Paulette et Jean-Claude!

Joseph & Paulette

The Food Film Fest Short Report

The Food Film Fest Short Report


Yesterday I attended the first day of Food Film Fest 2009. What started as a dreary, wet, miserable trip to the Action Center at Battery Park ended up as a full, enlightening, insightful and tasty one.

I will not have time to get into too much details but just a few notes about the event. First, this event will repeat next Saturday April 18, 2009 at Columbia University Medical Center Office of Government and Community Affairs. It is a fantastic -and free- opportunity to see these movies which are not so easy to catch. Go and let know your friends about it.

I highly recommend :
Asparagus: Stalking the American Life; Flow; Hotbread Kitchen & the trailer for Fresh.
-The trailer for Flow is above. Follow this link for Asparagus: Stalking the American Life trailer.
You will sure think twice before buying bottled water or a bunch of asparagus after viewing these films.
-The documentary about Hot Bread Kitchen, the New York Social bakery that mixes tradition with social activism. What a great idea!
-And the trailer for
Fresh, a promising documentary partially based on Michael Polland The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

The day ended with a tasty reception. Unforgettable was “Jean-Louis” a New Jersey raw milk cow cheese named in memory of my Gascon fellow chef Jean-Louis Palladin. I am not kidding this cheese is the best I have tasted in the USA so far. You can experience “Jean-Louis” too, the Bobolink dairy & Bakeyard is at Union Square Farmers Market on Fridays, Lincoln Center Greenmarket (66th & Bwy) every Thurs & Sat. If you are not in New York City do not feel excluded shop on their online store (bread not available online). About their breads, the rye is outstanding and though I don’t like flavored bread, their garlic and duck fat loaf is a must with a bbq’d duck breast!

Another great product at the reception was the raw chocolate from Fine & Raw. I can’t wait to make my “Lapin au Chocolat” with it – I don’t mean chocolate Easter bunny, no! I mean rabbit stew in chocolate sauce (a kind of mole), but that will be another post.

Joyeuses Pâques!