A few nice things.

April 22, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Can I share with you all a few pretty things that have been on the mind recently?

A razor sharp offset spatula for flipping delicate cuts of fish, and for gently prying perfectly seared scallops off of a sizzling pan, or for frying eggs or something.

And this beautifully designed, spot-on accurate kitchen thermometer.  It uses the same technology used in chemistry labs.  Can you imagine being able to tell to the .07th degree how cooked your goose is?

And this lovely carbon steel saute pan, like the ones Julia Child (and my gastronome grandmother) used extensively.  Until they were so beaten and perfectly seasoned that you could make crepes in them.  Or fry eggs, or make tart tatin.

Along with this pig shaped planter, that would sit by my kitchen window growing some really elegant herb, like rosemary, or thyme, or both.

In the mean time, I would make this hanging vegetable rack out of reused fluted cake pans.

And have a kitchen that looks something like this:

With the exception that instead of having that mid-century circular corner table, there would be a carboy with something fermenting inside of it.  And maybe a huge great dane sleeping on the floor.

I hope you enjoyed this rather wistful post,

Katie

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How to make a great french press coffee!

April 13, 2010 at 10:35 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

My first experience with french press coffee, was as a college student, studying Russia’s economic politics in the Next Door Cafe.  For my dollar, a french press of coffee was the best value.  I would sit down, drink an entire pot as I studied, and walk home with heart palpitations.  For the record, the amount of caffeine released by coffee beans is mostly determined by the length of contact between the water and the beans.  As a result, coffee made by way of french press offers more caffeine per sip than the uber-fast brewing espresso.

I love the taste of french press coffee, the back to basics brewing method results in a full-bodied cup that you rarely get with a drip machine.

Start with freshly roasted beans.  I buy small amounts of fresh beans from the Coffee Company.  The essential oils that make the french press taste so wonderful, are also quick to spoil.  One long time solution has been to keep a bag of ground coffee in the freezer.  Well, don’t do that either.  As with most foods, freezers kill a lot of the flavor, and you also risk 1) getting nasty freezer flavors in your coffee, and 2) moisture in the air rushing into your bag of frozen coffee every time you open the bag, moisture+freezer=freezer burn = nasty coffee.

So first rule of thumb: Buy fresh, use quickly, and your coffee enjoying experience will be that much better for it.

Second rule of thumb: Making a better french press means using more coffee.  I use 1/3 cup of whole coffee beans (before I grind them) for a pot, which I’m sure many of my friends would say is too low, other friends would say that I should be measuring in weight, not in volume.  And they are both right, but this is what I’ve found works for me.  While doing research for this article I’ve found sources that recommend using 1 1/2 Tbs. of coffee for an entire carafe!  Blagh, do they want coffee flavored water?

So there is the why, here is the how:

You will Need:

1/3 cup of fresh whole coffee beans

about 5 cups of nearly boiling water

1 Clean French Press Pot

Grind your coffee to a course grind, try to avoid dust, which may or may not be difficult depending on the sort of grinder you have.  Take the plunger out of the press pot and dump the grinds in.

This is the iPod app I use for all my steeping and brewing queries, its called TasteTimer, and put quite simply, its excellent.  Read my full review here.

Set your timer to four minutes and begin to slowly pour the hot water into the carafe.  I like to pour the water with a circular motion, which may just be flourish, but I believe it helps get a nice foamy crust.

When you finish filling the carafe, start the timer.

Now is when you will see the grinds rise to the top to make a frothy, oily crust.  Don’t disturb the coffee, just let it sit there for one minute.

Now, this is my favorite part of making french press.  When the timer gets down to three minutes, break the crust with the back of a spoon.  To me, this is akin to breaking the crust on a creme brulee.  It doesn’t take much, and you don’t want to stir too vigorously.  All you are looking to do is burst the air bubbles holding the coffee up, so that the grinds can float back down into the carafe and get full exposure with the water.

here is the carafe after breaking the crust, as you’ll see, the grinds are no longer floating at the top.  Place the top back on the french press, pushing the plunger just barely down, so that the plunger is touching the water.

When the timer is done, slowly and steadily push the plunger to the bottom of the pot.  Pushing too quickly will force sediment up into the good stuff.

Pour and serve!  There you have it, a great pot of french press from start to finish.

Ciao and happy brewing,

Katie G

Maccheroni with Ricotta, Red Peppers, Chicken, and Asparagus

April 12, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Yesterday I had the flu.  I absolutely hate any illness or injury that keeps me from enjoying food.  Which is why when I had my wisdom teeth out in middle school I was miserable, and when I broke my ankle in high school , lets just say my ankle wasn’t the only thing that became swollen. (get it?)

Fortunately, my bug was of the 24-hour variety.  So after laying in bed all day yesterday with no appetite, I woke up this morning absolutely starving!  Nic and I went to the pastry peddler to visit Katie the golf-champion turned pastry chef, and eat her delectable pastries, tempered with intelligentsia coffee.  We picked up a few groceries, and went home with bags full of asparagus, artichoke, beets, pasta and ricotta.

I should mention that when we got home we ran 5k to train for a race and to combat the “swelling” that comes with eating Zingerman’s food all. the. time.  Trust me, life is tough.  I also had a chance to work on my victory garden, I planted haricots verts, snap peas, butter lettuce, arugula, shizo leaf, fennel, and big red poppies!

Come dinner time we made this:

Maccheroni with ricotta, chicken thighs, Moulin Mahjoub Sweet Pepper Harissa, and sauteed asparagus.  A super easy quick delicious dinner that will knock the socks off of a certain somebody’s 30-minute meals.

And when you finish… there’s still dessert.

And by dessert, I mean sneaking back into the kitchen with a torn off hunk of bread to soak up all of the crisped up dregs of ricotta, peppers, and juices that have been left for dead in the pan.  And THAT is why this blog is called crispy edges.  These moments alone in the kitchen, when I am beyond satiated, are the times when I can focus the most on the tastes and textures of what I am eating.  This is when I appreciate food the most.

If you like what you saw, here’s the recipe (that I sorta made up as I typed this)

1 lb. chicken thighs (cut into 1″ cubes)

1/2 lb. fresh asparagus (sliced into 2″ sticks)

2 cloves of garlic (minced)

1/2 lb. ricotta cheese

4 Tbs.  Moulin Mahjoub Sweet Pepper Harissa (available at this really neat deli)

1lb bag of Rigatoni Maccheroni (Martelli’s Maccheroni is great!)

1 big pot of water, boiling and generously salted.

Add a few Tbs. of olive oil to a dutch oven or saute pan to coat the pan, and heat the pan over medium high heat.  Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper and sautee until cooked through.  Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add the asparagus and the garlic to the pan and saute until the asparagus is tender but still has a little bit of a snap to it.  Don’t let it get mushy or you’ll be miserable.  Well I guess it won’t be the end of the world.  Just don’t let it happen, okay?

(this would be a good time to start cooking the pasta)

Turn down the heat to low, and add the chicken back to the pan, along with the sweet harissa and the ricotta cheese.  Stir until everything is mixed together and warmed through, taste and season to taste if needed.  take the pan off the heat and cover.

Cook the pasta until it is al dente, drain and add to the vegetable-chicken-ricotta-mixture.  Toss the pasta to throw it all together, and top with a pinch of sea salt, and a whole lot of parmigiano reggiano.

Enjoy dinner, soaking up the leftovers in the pan is not optional.

Upcoming Tasting!

January 30, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized, What I do: | Leave a comment

Steep! Regional Tasting Series: A New Year of Chinese Teas

In the year of 2737 B.C., a wild Camilla Sinesis leaf fell into the Chinese emperor’s cup of boiling hot water, and thus tea was born.  Come for a fun filled night of our tea experts Katie and Ji Hye dropping Camilla Sinesis leaves into your boiling hot cup of water!

We will celebrate the Year of the Tiger as we taste through the three-thousand year old history of this enticing drink.  This tasting will highlight the diverse range of Chinese teas, brought to us by the award winning tea importer Rishi.  And since no celebration can go without a feast, we will taste the foods that showcase the Deli’s hidden gems–our secretly delicious Asian products.

Teas we will taste:

  • Silver Needle
  • Dragon Well
  • WuYi Oolong
  • Keemun Golden Buds
  • Golden Yunnan
  • Vintage Pu-erh
  • Jasmine Pearl

Foods we will eat:

  • Steamed Pork Buns with braised pork belly and Rick’s Picks Pickles (vegetarian option)
  • Traditional Chinese Tea Eggs with Forbidden (black) rice
  • Stem Ginger Shortbread with Robert Lambert’s Five Mandarin Marmalade

If you are in the area, I hope to see you there!

Cheers, Katie

Hello Friends

January 20, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Posted in Cooking, Gardening, Travel, Uncategorized, What I do: | 1 Comment

My name is Katie.  I like to cook, bake, eat, drink, brew, steep, grow, and teach.  So one day I woke up and said, “hey self, how about a blog?”.

Well, actually I’ve been blogging for years, but in the last  few years my forays into the world of food have gone from a part-passion, into a full time career.  I work at Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor Michigan.  At work, I keep my hand in as many pots as possible, so I sell the the best cheeses, meats, olive oils, vinegars, teas, coffees, and all of the other extraneous weird things in jars that line the walls of the deli.  When I’m not on the floor, I’m writing about food, teaching for our public tasting program, and creating artwork for our merchandising department.

I’m one busy little Gastronerd.

And so I’ve created this blog to share with the world all of the things I love about food.  I hope to write about cheeses I love, nerdy food facts, the classes I’m teaching, what I’m making at home, restaurant reviews, the hopes and dreams I have for my victory garden, my adventures in the world of homebrewing, my crush on Micheal Pollen…

Sound good?

Until next time,

Katie

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