Monthly Archives: May 2005

Paper Chef #7 Fast out of the gate

I got caught out daydreaming – what with the Memorial Day holiday here in the US and so on. Paper Chef Number 7 will start THIS Friday June 3rd at Noon PST and will end at Noon PST on Monday June 6th (or thereabouts).

Here is the current ingredient list:

Paper Chef Ingredients

Star anise, chestnut paste, egg, brown sugar, red wine, cream, cheddar cheese, buttermilk, quinoa, mejdool dates and honey. See below to nominate others.

Cannot nominate: ricotta, strawberries, almond paste or chocolate

Semi-Official Paper Chef Rules

On the first Friday of every month – that would be Friday June 3rd – at some point prior to Noon PST, I will announce a list of four ingredients that must be used, along with any other ingredients you choose, to make a dish and then write about it by Noon PST on Monday, 72 hours later. An impartial guest judge (usually the previous winner – in this case, A Finger In Every Pie) will pick the best sounding recipe to them and the winner will be awarded the “Paper Chef” title for that month. An evolving tradition is that the winner becomes the judge for the following month so that we have a judge and so that people can’t just keep on winning…the winner also gets to display the prestigious winner icon on their site.

I’ve had lots of questions about things like photographs. Photographs are NOT necessary to take part. Nor is having you own blog – I’ll be happy to post a recipe for you if you want. However, it is clear that having a nice photograph will help influence the judges – if they see it looking good it is a lot easier to imagine it tasting looking good…

It is also absolutely OK to substitute if you just cannot find an ingredient or if you or someone who will eat the dish has an allergy – just try to substitute with something close to the original to remain in the spirit of the occasion.

Anyone who wants to is welcome to submit ingredient ideas and all suitable ones will go onto a list. Three of the ingredients will be randomly picked from the list and the fourth will be seasonal or trendy or in the news in some way. If the list of four is totally unsuitable (maraschino cherries, english mustard, liver and suet) then we will redraw randomly until it is conceivable to cook different kinds of dishes with all four ingredients.

Ingredient suggestions go to the Paper Chef forum on Is My Blog Burning up to midnight the day before the event or in the comments field here. Ingredients that are NOT selected will be rolled over for a month and then removed. Anyone at all can suggest one ingredient – not more. Suggestions that are not realistic or are in bad taste in the estimation of the powers that be (me for the moment) will be ignored.

No sign up is necessary to take part. Just send an email to [email protected] before Noon PST on the Monday to point to your entry.

To give you some ideas of what people have done in the past here is a summary of the events so far:

Paper Chef #1: Cilantro, Ginger, Almonds and Winter Squash

The winner was Curried Chicken and Squash Soup with Meyer Lemon.

Paper Chef #2: Potatoes, Savoy Cabbage, Chicken and Lemon

The winner was Lemon Chicken Egg Rolls with Citrus Dipping Sauce.

Paper Chef #3: Wheat Flour, Cinnamon, Creme Fraiche and Oranges

The winner was Very Posh Cheese and Biscuits.

Paper Chef #4: Eggplant, chocolate, stale bread and pomegranate.

The winner was Cocoa-Pomegranate Roast Chicken with Eggplant Stuffing.

Paper Chef #5: Prosciutto, sherry vinegar, green garlic and goat cheese.

The winner was Garlic chive and Goat’s Cheese Ravioli with Sherry Vinegar Reduction and Prosciutto Shards.

Paper Chef #6: Ricotta, strawberries, almond paste and white chocolate.
The winner was Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote with Ricotta-White Chocolate Gelato and Scented Madeleines.

If you look through the entries you will see that people pretty much make just about anything – desserts or savory dishes, small or large, complex or simple.

I like to think it is a chance once a month to push your creativity a little in the kitchen by putting just a few constraints on what you can do.

Anyway – please nominate away…

The next generation

Just as it becomes time to reopen the doors to the Paper Chef, I have a moment to get back to normal here and write a little tiny bit about cooking and what we have been doing in that regard. I am not the chef of the hour, however. I have mentioned before how both my daughters’ can make crepes and have even been known to do so and bring them to us in bed (if only we could find the secret to getting them to do this more often…)

Well, the younger one has always been more interested in the kitchen and in cooking. She asked the other day about making something special – maybe a souffle. So I helped her pick out four or five recipe books from the more than seventy that have made the cut in our household (that means they don’t get purged every six months when I decide I don’t look at them often enough to keep them). She went through a bunch and settled on a strawberry souffle with strawberry sauce from Pierre Franey’s Cuisine Rapide (an excellent book that I should look at more). Then she made it. I helped with only two things – I put in and took out from the oven and I did about 20% of the egg white beating (since I persuaded her that it is correct procedure to do it by hand).

Strawberry Souffle copyright 2005 Owen Linderholm

We talked later and she told me that she wants the Pierre Franey book to go off to college with. Personally I think she’ll be beyond it long before then – she’s ten at the moment.

She also made brunch today for friends and family – six people – crepes with about fifteen toppings. I contributed some sauteed asparagus and onions in lemon and salt.

I did inaugurate the barbecuing season (technically grilling in our household) with the usual assortment of hot dogs, sausages and some very nice burgers made from high quality range fed beef, minced onion and garlic, herbes de provence, cajun spice and salt. I also made a lovely buttermilk-marinated chicken with spicy salsa, black olive paste, onion, garlic, meyer lemons, salt, paprika and bay leaves all added to the marinade. I slashed the chicken pieces before marinating to get the flavor inside and I let them sit for six hours. Mmmm, mmmm, good.

Greek Myth, food and Digital Dish

Another sighting has been made out there in the blogosphere (oh how I hate that word but it has become common currency). Breakfast With Pandora is a greek myth, writing and sometimes food site that is really refreshing. Who doesn’t like a Greek myth or two? And who doesn’t like to travel in the Greek Islands? It all takes me back to my carefree days when I had just graduated and took several vacations in a row to the Greek Islands – my favorites being Crete and Samos. I fondly remember treacly coffee with a glass of water every sun-stroked morning at the harbor front and long hikes into the interior accompanied by oregano, goats, olive trees, small streams, tiny villages and lunches made of bread and olives and cheese and tomatoes and salami. And I remember innumerable delicious meals of grilled seafood and robust salads and wine. All that is already a myth to me.

So it was a really nice surprise to get a little plug for the book from another purchaser (and a fan of Alberto‘s). Thank you, thank you!

Sightings!

Today I found via Meathenge, a new blog, Banlieu Blog in Paris. And very, very excitingly, it has a picture of a real copy of the book ordered and delivered and now happily living in France!

The Launch: Day Two – The Lafayette Bookstore

That was a really nice launch. Even hotter than yesterday and it was pretty hot in the store. Maybe hot tea was a mistake. The other local authors, Stephanie, Ellen and Guy all showed up early and Dave, the store owner got a space set out with chairs. Once enough people arrived we got started and I’m afraid I rambled on rather too much. I served some cheese bite things I made and made some real English Tea, which was perhaps a mistake. The readings and discussion about how everyone came to blog went really well and we sold a fair number of books and lots of people wanted signatures. I was so busy with the event that I actually forgot to take pictures, so I really hope the others took some!

It was another great event and we really did have a good and interested crowd. Dave was fantastic as always – he’s a great bookseller and the Lafayette Bookstore is a great place to buy books from. There are over 200 book clubs that run out of the store!

I did get lots of confirmation that the book is really worthwhile. People liked the readings. People liked the idea. So, if you haven’t bought a copy already get to it! Click on the book cover to the top left.

There will be more events and activities coming up. Stay tuned!

Preview: The Launch Day Two – The Lafayette Bookstore

After yesterday’s wonderful day out at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market, we are going to be at the Lafayette Bookstore in Lafayette California at 4PM sharp today. We also got a wonderful boost from the even more wonderful people at Blogger who wrote us up in Blogger Buzz. The write up is a work of art and I particularly liked the ‘cloud’ of all our member bloggers at the bottom. He also has a nice Google map to the bookstore!

I’m going to let you in a little on what we plan for today. We will be doing readings from the book, book signing (four of the authors will be there) and some simple, practical and totally delicious cooking demonstrations. I plan to serve REAL english tea and some kind of accompanying snack – which I admit I will make beforehand. We probably won’t be doing performance demonstrations like the strawberry, smoked chipotle and mint salsa of yesterday. (Scroll down to see the whole thing).

The Launch: Day 1 – Berkeley Farmer’s Market

I’ve been nervous for weeks. I finally got to bed before 1AM for the first time this week last night. (If you didn’t get an email from me about the launch it is only because I don’t know your email address!) Then I got up early and zoomed over to Kinko’s to make some little card handouts I dreamed up in my sleep since I failed in my aim of having thousands of lovely bookmarks printed in time. The cards looked good so I was happy.

Eventually, after loading my friend’s car up with books, water, ice, pens, spare book covers, tape, sundry bits of little cooking equipment, I headed for Berkeley and arrived just in time to say hello to Robin, the cover designer who is a fantastic person and does really good, highly professional work in website, corporate identity and book cover design. Go check her out. She had already met Guy, who apparently lives at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market on Saturday’s. People kept coming up to him (or he would go off to see someone) with little bags of food goodies. It was sort of like tribute or something. So he helped me unload and my back thanks him. Then Ellen showed up and we finally got to get started.

Let me set the scene – it was a gorgeous day – the first true day of Summer in the Bay Area – just a touch over 80 degrees and bright sunshine. The Farmer’s Market was in full swing with its annual strawberry tasting going on. We had a nice canopy and some chairs arranged in front with a microphone and speakers. We also got a great arrangement where we went on last and got to stay and sell and sign books until the market closed.

A few minutes after we got started, Stephanie showed up, she had been caught in beautiful weekend traffic and parking issues. We talked about the book and how we came to blog and how we came to cooking and about our food blogs. Then we did some readings along with a few ad hoc demonstrations. I challenged audience members to go off and find random ingredients to go with strawberries. One took me up and returned with whole raw almonds. I had come prepared. We scored a punnet of awesome organic strawberries from the market and I pulled out the greek yoghurt (from Trader Joe’s), some honey, a lemon, and some decorticated cardamom seeds (translation seeds removed from hulls but still whole). I roughly chopped the almonds and layered them in the bottom of a glass, then strawberries, then I mixed up some yoghurt, lemon juice, honey and freshly ground cardamom. It was good but not spectacular – and since nobody took pictures of it, it will have to remain undocumented further.

Digital Dish Farmer's Market Launch copyright 2005 Owen Linderholm

Just then was when one of Guy’s suppliers slipped him a sealed bag of home-smoked and dried chipotle peppers. I want to know how he knows these people. Why don’t people slide up to me and give me (say) two ribeye’s from an artichoke and saltgrass fed angus cow?

Anyway, Guy upped the challenge level severely. He handed me the bag and asked what I could make with them and strawberries. Thinking VERY quickly I came up with a strawberry, smoked chipotle and mint salsa. I then had to run back to the car to get the mint I had fortunately picked from the garden that morning as well as more lemon (meyer lemon from a local tree). I passed the chipotles and the cardamom around for everyone to smell by the way – the aromas were explosive in their freshness and power.

Here’s the recipe, as best as I remember it.

Strawberry, smoked chipotle and mint salsa

Strawberry Chipotle Mint Salsa copyright 2005 Owen Linderholm

Chop one smoked chipotle pepper into as fine pieces as you can. If you are in a kitchen, it might be better to whiz it in a chopper attachment along with the lemon and mint. Instead I chopped it as fine as I could – these peppers were hard and dry, so very hard to cut small. Then I let it sit with the juice of a meyer lemon in a bowl while I prepared the rest. Next I roughly diced up half a punnet of strawberries. Again, on reflection, use the whole punnet. The berries went in with the lemon and chipotles as well as a big pinch of salt. I stirred it all up again to keep the spice circulating and to bring out the pepper flavor. Then I minced up the mint leaves (about a quarter cup – I would use half a cup or even a whole cup next time) and added them and let the whole salsa rest for five to ten minutes. We served it with some strange seaweedy crackers and a little greek yoghurt on the side. The salsa would be great with fish and good with chicken or turkey as well. The first taste is lemon with strawberries and mint, then you get strong smokiness, followed by a long, strong burn of heat that last for a long time in the mouth. It was very nice.

We had a great time talking and reading and soaking up the sun. More to come tomorrow.

After I got home to celebrate and because I didn’t eat lunch, I went all out and made chicken thighs wrapped in bacon cooked with mushrooms and a little sorrel and oregano. It was a great end to a good day.

Chicken wrapped in bacon copyright 2005 Owen Linderholm

Today’s the day!

Today and tomorrow is the big launch! I’ll try to post some pictures (and some from the Farmer’s Market) tonight if I’m not too exhausted!

Party Planning

Whew! It’s a maelstrom of planning and publicity and ideas and shipping and on and on – and that’s just the day job!

No, seriously, there has been a LOT of planning going on for this weekend’s events

[[aside for those who haven’t been here before or are not paying attention

Digital Dish (look over to the top left) is out and we are having a party.

On Saturday May 21st at 11:30AM we will be launching the book and talking about food blogs and then signing the book at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market in Berkeley, CA at the corner of Center Ave and M. L. King Jr. Way, two blocks from Berkeley BART. This will be part of the Farmer’s Market’s Annual Strawberry Tasting.

The second launch event is at the Lafayette Bookstore at 3795 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, CA and that is two blocks from the Lafayette BART station. This will be on Sunday May 22nd at 4PM and will also feature talks and signings from the same four authors plus perhaps some cooking demonstrations and tastings!]]

So scratch that last item on the planning list. It turns out that we can’t prepare food even to give away in public without doing it in a certified kitchen. I had been planning on making some kind of flavored biscuits in a convection oven. I say some kind because I was going to challenge the audience to give me three ingredients and try to make something of them with what else I had brought. But now I can’t except as a ‘demonstration’ which I may do anyway. So something along the lines of green garlic and arugula (rocket) biscuits. Then because of the strawberry theme I was going to make a simple dish of strawberries sliced and marinated in meyer lemon juice and maple syrup (strawberries and meyer lemons from the Farmer’s Market of course) accompanied by a creamy/yoghurty thing with freshly ground cardamom and honey (as many items as possible from the market) and garnished with mint.

Oh well…let’s see if I can run my mouth for three hours instead. Wait, that’s not a challenge at all – plus Dr. Biggles, Ellen and Stephanie seem perfectly capable of holding down their end of a food blogging filibuster (maybe that’s what the Senate should be discussing in the coming week?)

The weather is supposed to be good so I am really hoping for a great turnout.

Digital Dish Is Here!

By now you must have noticed the big Digital Dish image on the top left of Tomatilla. Many of you have even clicked on it and know what it is. For those of you that haven’t, now is the time to find out.

Digital Dish copyright 2005 Press For Change Publishing LLC

Digital Dish copyright 2005 Press For Change Publishing LLC

Press For Change Publishing is the name of the company I set up and it intends to be different from other publishers. We really want author participation and we want authors to do well out of our books. We are paying better royalties than the industry standard and we are finding creative ways to get authors involved.

For example, the four authors in the Bay Area are going to take part in two novel book launch events. On Saturday May 21st at 11:30AM we will be launching the book and talking about food blogs and then signing the book at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market in Berkeley, CA at the corner of Center Ave and M. L. King Jr. Way, two blocks from Berkeley BART. This will be part of the Farmer’s Market’s Annual Strawberry Tasting.

The second launch event is at the Lafayette Bookstore at 3795 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, CA and that is two blocks from the Lafayette BART station. This will be on Sunday May 22nd at 4PM and will also feature talks and signings from the same four authors plus perhaps some cooking demonstrations and tastings!

So, apart from these events, why the hoopla? The books arrived a couple of days ago from the printer. All 3000 pounds of them…

Digital Dish copyright 2005 Press For Change Publishing LLC

If you can make it, PLEASE come to the launch and tell all your friends to come too. Both events should be great fun and you’ll get to meet lots of (other) food bloggers and check the book out firsthand for yourself.