Monthly Archives: November 2009

New Immigrants/Old Foodways

Photo: jdrorer/Flickr

If you haven’t already, meet the yuca, also called manioc and cassava. It’s a tuberous root vegetable loaded with carbohydrates, a rich source of calcium, phosphorus, and Vitamin C. Considered Brazil’s most significant contribution to the world’s food basket (though Brazil alone cannot claim it as theirs), manioc will be the featured ingredient on the menu of a Brazilian Cocktail Party being co-sponsored this Thursday evening by Slow Food Boston and the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS).

This month, with this festaSlow Food Boston is launching the first in a series of food-related events exploring immigrant traditions, the goal of which, according to series organizer Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, is to increase mainstream appreciation for immigrant foodways–and to encourage immigrants to hold onto their cultures. Brazil is the first stop. Volunteer chefswill be serving up toasted farofa, bread, and a home fry all made with manioc, plus frosty caipirinhas, piping hot cheese rolls and other delicious appetizers prepared by the MAPS Brazilian staff. Proceeds will go towards MAPS AIDS/HIV Prevention & Education Program.

To whet your appetite, head to the Slow Food blog for video footage of Anastacia’s outing to Casa de Carnes Solução, a Brazilian butcher shop on Bow St. in Somerville. And, glance through this site offering numerous recipes calling for yuca–it will give a sense of how manioc is incorporated into the meals of so many tropical- and sub-tropical countries.


Skills Set III: Italian Delights

Photo: Courtesy of EatBoutique!

I love this column and have so much fun putting it together.  I recently called out for ideas and submissions for today’s entry and I received quite a few suggestions.  I pooled together some of my favorites and saw a clear theme runnning through them: italian, italian, italian.

Who doesn’t love a great bowl of pasta? Or maybe some delicious burrata? Here are some “to-do” options with BEAUTIFUL recipes and instructions.  Maybe you can even whip up some fresh gnocchi for dinner?

Happy Skill Building and keep those ideas coming.

Gnocchi For Gnovices

Maggie Battista of EatBoutique! holds our hand as she takes a stab at homemade gnocchi.  From dough to filling, here is the real deal.

DIY Ricotta Cheese

OMG, Mary Reilly.  This is divine.  Cooking 4 the Week’s blogess shares some of her wisdom in the area of dairy-love. Can you imagine serving your OWN ricotta at a dinner party? Don’t be shy…it seems pretty doable (if not somewhat challenging) to me.

PRK Meet-Up

Spaces are still available for our potluck foodie soiree.  Come on down to WBUR and introduce yourself.  Mingle, learn, and EAT all at the same time.  Details are HERE


Pre-Thanksgiving Crepes

It’s hard to know what to eat the day before Thanksgiving.  Some people eat light, others fast; in my family, we eat crepes.
This morning, we headed up to Maine to spend Thanksgiving with my wonderful father-in-law and friends at Hedgehog Hill Farm in Sumner, Maine.  My husband grew up here and for me, the cozy farmhouse symbolizes the warmth of the family I recently joined.

Hmmm batter. Photo: Jessica Alpert

Food is always central to our visit.  We spend time preparing meals together in the kitchen….or at least staying warm near the stove.   Hedgehog Hill still generates beautiful produce and herbs; we definitely benefited from its bounty today.

Freshly thawed wild raspberries picked at Hedgehog Hill. Photo: Jessica Alpert

After we pulled into the circular drive and walked up the creaking stairs, we saw the kitchen was already prepped for a lunch of crepes.  With locally grown raspberries.  And fresh homemade apple sauce. And sour cream. And yogurt.


Crepe-in-the-making. Photo: Jessica Alpert

Thought I’d share a few pictures from our first meal in Vacationland (forgive the IPhone quality).  If you want the recipe, tell me about your favorite crepe fillings….and I’ll post our delicious version.

Getting closer. Photo: Jessica Alpert

Happy Turkey or Tofurkey to all.

Mark Silber with the finished product. Photo: Jessica Alpert

…And Now the Fixins!

Amazing farmers' market produce makes Thanksgiving fixins even better. Photo:; PRK Flickr pool.

For our more or less official Thanksgiving post here at PRK, we asked for the recipes for your favorite fixins, and here they are! A big thanks to everyone who contributed….

Sarah, from Semi-Sweet, sent in her Sweet Potato Casserole. It has a Pecan-Struesel topping and looks great. It can be prepared ahead of time, too, and and baked with the bird to save some counter space (and gravy-makin’ time!)

Reader Jenny made Martha Stewart’s Sour Cream-Thyme Rolls last year. They were so good she said, “Nope!” when her father requested them by mail; she’s angling to lure him back to visit again this year! These rolls look fluffy, light and perfect for mopping up extra cranberry sauce.

Megan, from Delicious Dishings, just made a Potato and Autumn Vegetable Hash, adapted from a November 2009 Bon Appétite recipe. The red and golden beets, yams, russet potatoes, butternut squash and baby spinach are a great mix to serve along with a roast bird. And with their brilliant colors and flavors, this could probably stand alone as a centerpiece dish for a vegetarian Thanksgiving spread, too.

And there’s more! Robin of Doves and Figs added a comment to our original post about sweet potato muffins and baked beans in the fireplace. Yum.

As heard earlier today on Here & Now, resident chef Kathy Gunst gave us her take on Thanksgiving sides. In the below video clip, she demonstrates how to make a quick, easy, elegant dish of green beans with brown butter chestnuts.

As for me, I’ll be making roasted Brussels sprouts à la Mark Bittman to add some green to our table this year. I may start things off with some cubed pancetta (because everything’s better with bacon) but otherwise this is a perfectly minimalist side. The best part might just be that when the halved sprouts are browned and caramelized, the pan can go into the oven at whatever temperature the turkey needs. The sprouts will finish roasting and once they’re pulled, can stay warm in a covered pan until you’re ready to serve them up.

Sue will be making her mom’s Creamed Onions. At least among the grown-ups, she says, it’s a clammered-for family favorite and an annual tradition. Here’s the recipe, as promised.

Happy Eating and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!! 

Creamed Onions
2 lbs small white boiling onions
2 T unsalted butter
2 T flour
2 cups warm milk (2% or greater)
extra butter for greasing the casserole
½ cup buttered breadcrumbs

Drop the onions into a pan of boiling water; boil for 7-8 minutes or until the onions are just about done. Drain then peel the onions. Make a white sauce with the butter, flour and milk. Grease a casserole dish with butter. Layer the onions and white sauce, starting with the sauce (depending on the shape of the dish, you can make at least two-three layers, ending with the sauce). Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake in a 350-degree oven for at least 30 minutes, or until the onions are bubbly hot.

Notes: When placing the onions in the casserole, “squirt” them, so that the layers of onions come apart. This will elongate the onions but keep them intact.
– If serving a crowd, increase the amount of onions and white sauce proportionately.
– The onions can be prepared ahead, but make the white sauce just before assembling the entire dish. Increase the baking time if the onions are cold, not room temp.

Greetings from Powisset Farm

Photo: Courtesy of Powisset Farm

The following is the first ever post submitted by Meryl LaTronica, farm manager at Powisset Farm in Dover, MA. Meryl will check in with PRK once a month, at the end of each month, with news, musings and anecdotes about her work running a 250-member, 10-acre CSA outside Boston.

Meryl LaTronica, Guest Contributor
Powisset Farm

Greetings from Powisset Farm! My name is Meryl LaTronica, and I am the farm manager of this small farm in Dover, MA, owned by The Trustees of Reservations, a state-wide conservation organization. At Powisset we run a 250 person-community supported agriculture (CSA) program, now finishing its third season. I often describe a CSA as essentially a subscription to vegetables, but it is more than that. By joining our farm, Powisset members are pledging their commitment to land preservation, their support of a local economy and their trust in local farmers. In exchange, they receive a wide variety of fresh, delicious, organically-grown food for the entire growing season. Together we build a relationship between farmer and consumer, communicating about the joys and challenges of a farm season from the grower’s perspective as well as from the eater’s point of view.

I am thrilled to have been asked to share my experiences as a farmer with the Public Radio Kitchen community. I invite you to join me on the journey that is a farm season in New England. Continue reading

(Thanks)Giving Back

Photo: David Paul Ohmer/Flickr

Looking forward to next week’s holiday, it is a time to come together and share a meal with the people we often don’t have enough time for. And there’s a parade and football, and maybe even a walk (or waddle) between courses. But not everyone has enough to eat, and because of the current economy, there are more hungry people this year than usual. So if you have extra time, energy or can make a donation, the following resources are available for giving back this Thanksgiving.

The Greater Boston Food Bank is running their annual TurkeyDrive through Wednesday. You can make a $12 donation that will allow the Food Bank to distribute a 12-14lb turkey to a family who would otherwise not have enough this Thanksgiving. Last year, the Food Bank gave out 38,000 turkeys, and the need this year is expected to be even greater.

Project Bread lists a number of options for volunteering this week and through the holiday season, such as helping in pantries and delivering food assistance. Included are a Friday Night Supper program (tonight!) in Boston; Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, on Thanksgiving Day in Jamaica Plain; Loaves and Fishes on Saturdays in Cambridge and more. Details are available through the Project Bread page, and there are more opportunities across the state and through the year.
Don’t forget:  submit the recipe for your favorite side dish for the PRK Fixins’ blowout next week! Email us at

Don’t Forget the Fixins’

Photo: CarbonNYC/Flickr

Yesterday was unofficial Turkey Day at PRK. Meaning, we posted the names of some turkey farms and an additional link for information on where to buy a locally-raised Thanksgiving bird. 

Today, on the other hand, is unofficial Fixins’ Day. Who could neglect the all-important issue of side dishes? What would Thanksgiving Day be without the fixins’?! To this end, we’d like to reach out to you and have some fun. We’re asking that all you interested folk send word and provide a link to your best satellite dishes (the edible kind) for Thanksgiving Day. What have you made that’s great, or what will you be making? We want to pull them together for a pre-Turkey Day post. I have my own family favorite I’ll share–my mom’s outstanding Creamed Onions–and so will Jessica and Tom add theirs. In the meantime, we pass along this link for Cornbread-stuffed Acorn Squash from Two Blue Lemons, who followed up Jessica’s Turkey post from yesterday with a comment on vegetarian/vegan alternatives for Thanksgiving Day.

Please send in your recipes!! And look out for next Tuesday’s post!

(And, for those of you who live further a-field, the MDAR has put out this list by county of Massachusetts turkey farms which might be a helpful resource before you head out…)


Photo: BrooklynBridgeBaby/Flickr

It’s that time, folks.  If you’re a meateater you are probably thinking about your turkey.  Maybe you’ve already ordered the bird; maybe it remains to be done.  Nevertheless, here are some great local options for turkey-time.

-Raymond’s Turkey Farm in Methuen, MA

-Tender Crop Farm in Newbury, MA

-Natick Community Organic Farm in South Natick, MA

-Outpost Farm in Holliston, MA

-Idylwilde Farm in Acton, MA

-Turkeyhill Farm in Haverill, MA

Want to find a farm closer to home? Check out this map from Northeast Harvest.

If you are willing to add your secret turkey source, comment below.  You know we’d all appreciate it.  Gobble.

Eating Animals?

Is it time for a prolonged discussion about where our meat comes from? Photo of an Irish beef cow by Thomas Urell

I eat too much meat. I’ve known this since I started really looking at the foods I was eating, reading about where it all comes from and cooking for myself. Writers like Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser have helped me understand what I could have only imagined before: as a culture, our meat consumption is not only nutritionally excessive, but has created an unsustainable food system as well, this latter taking a serious toll on our environment. And then there’s the horrible way the animals are treated.

Now, I think more. I have started paying closer attention to the quality and total amount of meat that I eat, in a single serving and over the course of my week. Taking cues from chef/philosophers like Mark Bittman and Alice Waters, I no longer want to cook meat at every meal and can even forgo ordering meat in restaurants on occasion (gasp).

But I do still eat it. And—confession(?)—I usually love it. I’m excited about offal, love roasting big cuts and whole chickens and will spend all day skimming a perfect stock. When I have the opportunity, I engage with the origin of my food, learning where it comes from and even meeting the animals. I try only to buy meat that I have confidence in, such as grass-fed beef. The same goes for sustainable fish, but sometimes halibut can be so tempting.

Which all leads me here. On Friday of last week, Jonathan Safran Foer spoke to WBUR’s Tom Ashbrook of “On Point” about his new book, Eating Animals, which is making a lot of noise. I have not read the book, but Safran Foer’s argument is an ethical one and seems to be sound. He is looking at the conditions of meat farming and the stark environmental implications of it, which leads to another ethical question about what we leave behind for future generations. (For a quick introduction to “Eating Animals,” check out these writings by Safran Foer: a particularly provocative piece in the Wall Street Journal from last month asks why we don’t eat dog and an excerpt in the New York Times Magazine that showcases Foer’s brilliant storytelling.)

One of the callers to Friday’s show raised a common question: unable to afford feeding her family with grass-fed, free-range or organic meat, she was forced to buy conventional meat at the grocery store. To her mind, her financial situation left no choice. Foer responded by saying that she did, in fact, have another option–not to buy meat at all.

Total abstinence may well be the best option in the opinion of some, but it raises a further question: do average consumers have a right to eat meat as often as they do? Or should it be a luxury, enjoyed only as often as one could afford conscientiously-grown, free-range and organic meat?

At the end of the day, Foer has stopped eating meat and thinks we should all do the same. For me, it is important that the discussion continue and more people become actively engaged by thinking and talking about the origins and ramifications of their meat-eating. In the mean time, I will continue to eat less, and better quality, meat.

What’s your take? Have you read Foer’s book and will it change your mind about eating meat?

Chocolate Dreams

Taza Chocolate Alfajores

Photo: Courtesy of Taza Chocolate

Smooth, silky, tantalizing drips. There’s a lot to love in this scrumptious-looking shortbread cookie, and we mean literally. What’s hiding inside that layer of luscious chocolate? Dulce de leche, that’s what, and the folks at Taza Chocolate in Somerville provide the scoop on their alfajores cookies in a recent chocolate blog.

If you’re intrigued by this local company’s story and want to see for yourself how they produce their stone-ground organic chocolate, Taza is holding an Open House at their Somerville factory on Saturday, December 5th from 10-6 PM. Taza will be offering free tours, samples of their chocolates and sips of hot chocolate, too. You’ll see up-close and personal Taza’s candy-apple red roaster (we’ve seen it…it’s big, bad and beautiful) and its vintage molinos. And who doesn’t want to learn about the winnowing process? It’s enough to give the whole family chocolate dreams. And the whole family is invited.

“Here & Now” and “Radio Boston” visited Taza last year. PRK posted the links so you can hear and see more.