Monthly Archives: May 2011

Erbaluce’s Lemon and Herb Sabaione

Charles Draghi of Erbaluce (Photo: Susanna Bolle)

Spring has been a little tough this year. At times, it seems that April showers have brought with them little more than, well, May showers. But spring has yielded more than just raindrops. It’s also produced a variety of tasty local vegetables from mushrooms to fiddle-heads to asparagus and spring-dug parsnips.

Chef Charles Draghi of Boston’s Erbaluce restaurant has a wonderful sauce that adds an extra note of sophistication to these earthy, early spring vegetables. It’s a Sabaione, a savory egg-based sauce with a touch of lemon and a lot of fresh herbs. It’s not a tough sauce to make, but it is as elegant as can be — I’ve made it twice (once with regular eggs and once with duck eggs, which I highly recommend) and both times it was a knockout.

Here is what Chef Draghi had to say about the Sabaione:

“This is a very light and intensely delicious sauce variation on the famous [Italian] dessert sbaglione. It is used in Piemontese cuisine as a sauce for simple roasted vegetables, poached chicken or greens. The texture and flavor are somewhat like a light hollandaise, with lots of lemon sharpness and no rich fats. Because of this, it is a perfect sauce for any of the cruciferous vegetables — cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc. — as well as spring vegetables like asparagus, artichokes, fiddlehead ferns, peas, spring-dug parsnips, etc.”

When I visited Erbaluce, Draghi served the sauce with lightly sauteéd parsnips, wild mushrooms (morels or chantarelles work nicely), ramps, and a beautiful mix of fresh and dried herbs. It was lovely. We’re providing the recipe here. Continue reading

Liquid Therapy from MC Slim JB

Boston has has more than its fair share of bars where you can get a truly superlative drink. In what looks to be an ongoing series of posts at Serious Eats, local food and cocktail writer MC Slim JB has been profiling some of the city’s finest high-end watering holes, which he’s been reprinting on his own blog.

In his latest post, he paints a vivid portrait of the oft-celebrated bar Drink in Fort Point. Drink is home to some of Boston’s finest bartenders, including Misty Kalkofen, John Gertsen, and Josey Packard. MC Slim JB doesn’t mince words about his feelings about the place, which he describes as “Boston’s Single Most Essential Craft Cocktail Bar.”

Food Therapy from Tales From a Kitchen Misfit

Photo by Amanda - Tales From a Kitchen Misfit

Sometimes we need a little comfort.

The past few days have been so dreary and rainy again that a little pick-me-up is in order.

Today’s Food Therapy delivers a strong punch of much needed Feel-Good, thanks to this recipe for a ‘Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie’ from Amanda at Tales From a Kitchen Misfit. Her recipe calls for brown butter as an ingredient— toasty, rich comfort.

Yet Amanda doesn’t simply provide us with a great recipe to try. She also dishes out some comedy! In a play off of the ‘Perfect’ recipe idea, Amanda gives links for World’s Best Cat Litter and World’s Best Recipe Search. If you are headed over to her blog, expect this sense of humor regularly – she is funny! Also expect beautiful photos and more feel-good recipes to last you weeks. Here are two: Homemade Nutella Tart and Slow Cooker Chicken Gumbo.

Q&A with Julia Herz of the Brewers Association

Photo: Greencolander/Flickr

As the nation heads towards the final days of American Craft Beer Week, Public Radio Kitchen caught up with Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director for the Brewers Association and a certified Cicerone (the equivalent of the wine industry’s sommelier).

Here’s what she had to say:

PRK: What are the most interesting trends in American craft beer of late?
Diversity of styles and flavors. Barrel aged, sour ales, imperials, seasonals. I could go on and on.

PRK: What sets American craft brews apart from the legendary beers of Europe?
Today’s ‘new world’ U.S. craft brewers have taken old world styles and packed them full of more ingredients which gives them more flavor and body. These beers are now getting emulated back in great brewing nations like Belgium, Germany and England, who are now inspired by U.S. craft brewers. Plus, today’s U.S. craft beers are amazing when pairing with food and pick up where wine leaves off.

PRK: What are the breweries to watch here in New England? In Boston? Continue reading

Obesity in the South: Today on NPR

Photo: Southern Foodways Alliance/Flickr

Today The Oxford American is launching Southword, a multimedia partnership with NPR aimed at presenting to the American public “thoughtful and textured reporting about the people, places, and trends shaping the modern American South.” Southword will take the form of video pieces and on-air broadcasts.

Why is PRK picking up this story? Because the inaugural episode is devoted to the dishearteningly complex issue of obesity plaguing the state of Mississippi. It is impacting blacks and whites, it is indeed related to poverty, and it is undeniably a juggernaut of a health issue problem, one talked about in war-like terms.

On “All Things Considered” this afternoon, NPR’s Debbie Elliott will report on appetite and health in Holmes County, MS, the most obese county in the U.S. and, therefore, the world. Filmaker Dave Anderson of The Oxford American has produced a powerful video, “Living Large in Mississippi.”

You can get an additional ‘taste’ of the project in this Picture Show post from NPR, “What Makes Bad Food So Good?” In it, both Debbie and Dave mention a food tradition we Northerners are not likely to have heard before: a Kool-Aid Pickle. What’s more, these two journalists are honest about how they, too, could have healthier eating habits and do better at keeping off the pounds.

Please tune in, listen, watch and comment. These issues of food traditions, food deserts, economic hardship, health problems and obesity will be ours to grapple with for some time.

Thursday Tidbits: Demos and ‘Dirty-water’ Dogs

Photo: Son of Groucho


Demo with Bissonnette
Boston’s Jamie Bissonnette of Toro and Coppa Enoteca will be giving a cooking demonstration at Trident Booksellers and Café tonight, 7 p.m. Chef Bissonnette won Food and Wine’s 2011 People’s Best New Chef Award. He was also featured in the new cookbook Primal Cuts: Cooking with America’s Best Butchers. The demonstration is free, but Primal Cuts will be available for sale and signing.

Celebrate: It’s American Craft Beer Week
Boston’s own Harpoon Brewery will be turning 25 this year. Help them celebrate, and honor the American craft beer industry, at the HarpoonFest this Friday and Saturday, 5:30-11 p.m. On the North Shore, drink local brews and listen to local lore at Ipswich Brewery’s Tales and Ales, also this Friday and Saturday, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Other events related to American Craft Beer Week listed HERE.

Spring on the Farm
This Saturday from 1-5 p.m. Powisset Farm in Dover, MA, will be kicking off its farm season with a “huge” seedling sale, farm tours, live music, events for kids, and vendors selling crafts and food. There is a nominal entrance fee for individuals and families. Farm manager Meryl LaTronica, a monthly contributor to PRK, is hosting. Come one, come all! Continue reading

Food Therapy from Three Clever Sisters

Photo: Courtesy of Three Clever Sisters

I love bread. I mean, I REALLY love it.

Back in my peripatetic graduate school days, I used to take one step off the train or plane and point my feet towards the nearest bakery. Literally. Forget the gorgeous pastries (Germany!), sugary sweets (Turkey!) and omnipresent chocolate, I sought out serious grains wherever I went and never looked back.

These days, my diet remains heavily carbed-up, still by choice. My eyes really popped, then, at the post for homemade bread from Boston-based Sara of Three Clever Sisters. The photo (above) was irresistable, yes, but her supply of practical information even more so. Sara’s is not simply a textbook example of healthy, delicious bread, but a tip-filled advice column on how to make bread in your own kitchen, successfully. She gently coaxes and nearly cajoles. Her takeaway is ‘don’t be daunted!’

Apart from my dance with Irish soda bread in March, any bread that needs to be kneaded and allowed to rise scares me off. Have I got the time? Have I got the skill? No and no. But, thanks to Three Clever Sisters, I now have the courage and the how-to. The incentive, on the other hand, is always there…

Happy kneading! “How to Fit Breadbaking into Your Schedule” from Sara of Three Clever Sisters, based on this recipe.

Food Therapy from Fresh New England


Photo: dusk-photography/Flickr

There are some cookies you’d serve at a bridal shower; some you’d serve at the end of a fancy dinner. There are some you’d travel to France for and some that are weirdly fashionable right now (and some that are all of the above). There are even some cookies that can pass themselves off as “healthy.”

But to me, none of those cookies are as satisfying and perfect as the simple, gooey, buttery cookies of my youth. Forget semolina cookies, goji berry biscotti, red wine and rosemary biscuits – give me a chocolate cookie that I can dunk in a glass of milk and I’ll be my happiest.

Funnily enough, Fresh New England – a dessert blog I’ve known for elegance above all else – recently posted a recipe that appeals to this coarser taste of mine. These homemade Fudge Town cookies, based off an old supermarket favorite, seem like the George Clooney of easy desserts – something that pretty much everyone would enjoy.

Craft Beer Anyone?

Photo: barockschloss/Flickr

Today finds us smack-dab in the middle of American Craft Beer Week.  Hankering for an artisanal brew? Perhaps you should be. A craft beer is like a love child — passionately conceived, nurtured to life, coddled, unique… or maybe I’m just getting carried away? 

In any event, Monday marked the start of this literally nation-wide celebration of craft brews, with all 50 states participating in some form or fashion in hailing the fine art and science and quaffable product of this proudly American industry.

Tonight, in locales throughout Rhode Island, are organized craft beer tastings and dinners, while here in Boston you can head to any one of the city’s fine drinking establishments for samples. In addition, you can head to any licensed Whole Foods to see what they’re selling by way of locally crafted beers. For example, the River Street (Cambridge) store is featuring High and Mighty out of Holyoke, MA, and Nantucket’s Cisco Brewers. And that’s just the start…

Stay tuned for PRK’s upcoming interview with Julia Herz of the Brewers Association! We’re hoping to get the skinny on the canned beer trend.

Food Therapy from Food on the Food

Mushrooms (though not Morels) (Photo: Susanna Bolle)

One of the few upsides to the wet weather we’ve been having lately is that it’s great for wild mushrooms. Spring is the best time to find wild morels in New England, and Food on the Food blog has a handy and informative post on how to find these delicious, if somewhat homely, fungi.

Of course, you should be very careful that you correctly identify any shroom you forage. In addition to consulting the reference books that blogger Tammy Donroe suggests, you can consult a mycological expert to be 100% sure. The Boston Mycological Club is a good place to find one. Or, sign up for one of their mushrooming walks in and around Boston to become one yourself! I went on one of the club’s walks last Fall and really enjoyed the experience. Read about it HERE.