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Avian flu causes worry about egg shortage

eggs

An outbreak of the avian flu in the US Midwest has prompted concerns about an impending egg shortage. Large industrial customers are developing contingency plans. Makers of products like mayonnaise, ice cream, cookies, muffins, and cake m ixes are looking to egg alternatives as a possible solution.

As of this Wednesday, the flu is forcing farmers to kill more than 33 million egg laying hens, most of them in Iowa and Minnesota. While companies ranging from Post, McDonalds, and Panera Bread scramble to find new sources and restaurants remove egg-intensive menu items, egg substitute producers like Hampton Creek are viewing this as an opportunity to find new markets. They hope their product, which is nearly half as cheap as eggs, will find a permanent home in companies that try it during the shortage.

Individual consumers across the US are also likely to be affected by the flu outbreak, mostly in the form of higher prices for eggs, chicken, and turkeys. About 10 percent of turkeys in Minnesota, the largest producer of turkeys in the US, have been destroyed due to the flu outbreak. Officials emphasize that there is no health risks for consumers. Despite these reassurances, several countries have banned US poultry, including the EU and most of Central America, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

A sweet seed-saving success

watermelon

The farm-to-table movement has produced renewed interest in heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables. It's something that David Shields knows a lot about. Shields, a professor at the University of South Carolina, is author of Southern Provisions: The Creation and Revival of a Cuisine. His mission is to restore antebellum cultivars and foodways. About 10 years ago, as part of his ongoing research, Shields began investigating 19th century melons. He was particularly interested in one variety called the Bradford watermelon. NPR's The Salt brings us the story of the search for this melon and its happy ending.

The Bradford watermelon is the stuff of legend. The fruit, which boasted sweet flesh and a soft rind that was often made into pickles, was once so sought after that "19th-century growers used poison or electrocuting wires to thwart potential thieves, or simply stood guard with guns in the thick of night" to protect their crops. Because the delectable melon didn't ship well, it all but disappeared by the 1920s as sturdier varieties took over.

The legend of the fruit attracted Shields' attention and he began searching for any remaining examples of the melon. Shields had almost given up hope when in late 2012 he received an email from Nat Bradford, a great-great-great-grandson of the man who created the famed fruit. It turned out that after the last commercial crop had been planted in 1922, the Bradford family had maintained the fruit by "planting it in their backyards and saving seeds - making sure to plant it at least a mile from any other melon, so that it wouldn't cross-pollinate and lose its purity."

Shields convinced Bradford to reintroduce the melon to consumers. Bradford embraced the idea and in 2013 he began a limited distribution of Bradford watermelons to chefs and distillers. James Beard Award-winning chef Sean Brock used the melons to create molasses and pickles to serve at his restaurant. High Wire Distilling Co. distilled 143 bottles of watermelon brandy which quickly sold out. Bradford was so excited that he saved 25,000 seeds, some of which he sells on his website.

Read more about the interesting development of the Bradford variety, which dates back to the American Revolution and a British prison ship, at the NPR website.

Photo of Tequila-soaked watermelon wedges from MarthaStewart.com by Martha Stewart Living Magazine

Sample two 'classic recipes for modern people'

Corn bread brisket sandwichesMax Sussman is the chef de cuisine at Roberta's in Brooklyn. During his tenure at Roberta's, the restaurant has received 2 stars from the New York Times. Eli Sussman is a line cook at Mile End Deli in Brooklyn, which has been featured on several "best of" lists, including Time Out, GQ, and Village Voice. The brothers have joined forces again to write their fourth cookbook, Classic Recipes for Modern People, which features over 75 recipes that reimagine classic dishes from their childhood and yours, with a little humor baked in along the way. (Enter our contest for your chance to win a copy.)

We got a peek inside the recently released cookbook with not just one, but two, sample recipes for EYB Members to try. Enjoy!

 


 

Corn Bread & Brisket Patty Melt

Brisket
2 lb (1 kg) beef brisket
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp firmly packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups (16 fl oz/500 ml) chicken stock
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Corn bread
Olive oil spray
1 1/4 cups (61/4 oz/195 g) cornmeal
1 cup (5 oz/155 g) all-purpose flour
11/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp firmly packed light brown sugar
3 serrano chiles, seeded and minced
4 green onions, minced
1 1/2 cups (12 fl oz/375 g) whole milk
1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) whole-milk yogurt
1/2 cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 large egg, beaten
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, cut into thick rounds
4 slices Gruyère cheese
Unsalted butter for frying

1.  To make the brisket, cut the meat into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces. In a wide pot, heat the olive oil over high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the brisket and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, and sauté until softened and caramelized, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, brown sugar, and tomato paste and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the stock and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the meat is falling apart and tender, 2-3 hours. Add water if the pan begins to dry. The meat should be just barely covered with liquid when it is ready. If there is too much liquid at the end, transfer the liquid to a small saucepan and simmer until reduced.

2. To make the corn bread, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a 9-inch (23-cm) square baking pan with parchment paper and spray with olive oil.

3. In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, chiles, and green onions. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, yogurt, and olive oil. Add the milk mixture to the cornmeal mixture and fold just until the batter is blended; it will be slightly lumpy. Add the egg and fold until blended.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.

5. Meanwhile, in a heavy frying pan, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the onion and cook, turning once, until deeply caramelized, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into 1⁄2-inch (12-mm) pieces.

6. Cut the corn bread into 4 equal pieces, then halve each piece horizontally. Place one-fourth of the braised beef on the cut side of a bottom piece of corn bread. Top with 1 tablespoon of the onion, a slice of cheese, and then the top piece of corn bread, cut side down. Repeat to make 3 more sandwiches. In a large nonstick frying pan, melt about 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the sandwiches, turning once and adding butter as needed, until the bread is browned and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes on each side. Serve right away.

* Makes 4 enormous sandwiches

Carrot and Pistachio Salad

1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 Tbsp
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup (21/2 oz/75 g) diced fresh figs
Kosher salt
2 lb (1 kg) multicolored small carrots, halved lengthwise
1 head radicchio
1/2 cup (2 oz/60 g) pistachios, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

In a large bowl, whisk together half of the olive oil, the shallot, vinegar, figs, 2 tablespoons water, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt to make a vinaigrette.

In a large bowl, toss the carrots with the remaining olive oil and season with salt. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and add 1⁄4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) water. Roast until the carrots begin to brown and crisp on the edges, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the radicchio, discarding the core. Peel the leaves apart. Place half of the leaves in a large bowl. Set aside.

When the carrots are almost ready, in a frying pan, heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat. Add the remaining radicchio and cook, stirring, until it wilts and begins to brown in spots, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the cooked radicchio to the bowl holding the uncooked radicchio. Add the carrots and mix gently using tongs. Add the pistachios, drizzle the vinaigrette over the top, and toss to coat the vegetables evenly. Serve right away.

*Serves 4-6

 

Cookbook giveaway - Classic Recipes for Modern People

Classic Recipes for Modern PeopleChef brothers Max and Eli Sussman are back with their fourth cookbook, Classic Recipes for Modern People, featuring over 75 recipes that reimagine classic dishes from their childhood and yours, with a little humor baked in along the way. Get a sneak peek into the cookbook with two sample recipes shared on the EYB blog

We're delighted to offer 3 copies of the book to EYB Members in the US and Canada. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post:

What classic recipe would you like to see revised?

Please note that you must be signed into the Rafflecopter contest before posting the comment or your entry won't be counted. The contest ends June 15, 2015.


A berry good harvest

strawberry mouse cake

It appears that 2015's strawberry harvest in England is going to be a bumper crop. According to The Telegraph, strawberry yields are expeced to increase by nearly 20 percent this year. The bump is due to "a perfect combination of weather conditions, new growing techniques and more land given over to the crop."

Despite a sluggish start to the season with several cold nights in April, the berries recovered thanks to the sunniest winter on record, which benefitted greenhouse-grown crops. In addition to an increased yield, you can expect the berries to be sweeter as well.

The news in North America isn't as heartening, as the continued drought in California puts stress on strawberry growers in that state. However, strawberry producers in other states report better luck with above-average May temperatures boosting yields. Berries should be plentiful in markets across the US and Canada.

If you find yourself with an excess of berries, look no further than the EYB Library for great strawberry recipes, including these Member favorites:

Strawberry mousse cake from Delicious Magazine (Aus) (pictured above)
Meringue and berry mess with hazelnut praline from Cuisine Magazine
Panna cotta with balsamic strawberries from Barefoot Contessa at Home
Strawberry Pimm's cup from Saveur Magazine
Frozen strawberry margarita pie from Gourmet Magazine
Easy strawberry ice cream from Tinned Tomatoes

DIY herb stripper

DIY herb stripper

If you're like me, you love to browse through kitchenware catalogs. (In my case it runs a close second to perusing cookbooks.) We may already have cupboards and drawers overflowing with bowls, pans, and kitchen tools, but it's still fun to see the new cookware and gadgets or swoon over the newest color of Le Creuset. Sometimes the browsing even provides inspiration.

That's what happened recently, after I viewed the Chef'n® ZipStrip™ Herb Zipper. I was intrigued by its simple yet effective design. My favorite rosemary  chocolate chip shortbreads were calling me, but I don't like getting my fingers sticky when stripping the rosemary by hand. The herb stripper allows you to quickly strip the leaves without handling them at all. The beauty lies in its simplicity: the stripper is nothing more than holes in plastic through which the stem of a woody herb like rosemary, thyme, or lavender is pulled. The leaves are larger than the holes, so they get efficiently stripped off the stem. But I surely didn't need another tool to clutter my already crammed drawers, so I turned my eye to repurposing a tool that I already owned.

herbs

It turns out that I had three different tools that could be used in a manner similar to the herb stripper: a lemon zester, an herb/tea infuser, and a melon baller. Each of them has holes of varying sizes, and the diameter of the stem determines which tool is best. The infuser often wins because it has the smallest holes. As a bonus, it serves as a handy cup to hold the leaves. Just put the stem into the inside of the cup, hold it upright, and pull the stem out through the bottom.

Do you have any repurposed kitchen tool tips that you'd like to share?

Rhubarb moves from sweet to savory

Rhubarb

Rhubarb season is in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere. Usually that means pies, tarts, and crisps, but chefs are taking a look at using rhubarb in savory applications as well. The Washington Post recently devised a contest for three area sous-chefs to come up with a savory spring rhubarb dish, and the results were fabulous.

The challenge was to find a way to tame rhubarb's puckery tart flavor without using copious amounts of sugar. One of the contestants, Krystal Cripe of the Red Hen in Bloomingdale, said "Rhubarb is definitely a difficult ingredient to work with. People are used to seeing it in sweet desserts, with ... something sweet to cut that tartness. It was tough to get that balance in savory."

In addition to the constraints on using rhubarb in a savory application, there were other limits on the contest. "The dish could incorporate just six ingredients (not including salt and pepper). And when the sous-chefs gathered at cooking school CulinAerie, they had just one hour to prepare their dish." The dishes they devised included a chilled rhubarb-strawberry soup with black pepper ricotta, grilled smoked foie gras with burnt rhubarb vinaigrette, and duck breast and foie gras with wild rice pilaf and cherry-rhubarb preserve. The EYB Library contains other interesting savory rhubarb dishes for you to try.

Sarah Leah Chase breaks long hiatus to write a new cookbook

Sarah Leah ChaseAfter a two-decade hiatus, Sarah Leah Chase is back with a new cookbook, New England Open-House Cookbook: 300 Recipes Inspired by the Bounty of New England, which will be released later this summer. Chase is a caterer, cooking teacher, and prolific writer who is best known for co authoring The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. Her other cookbooks, all highly regarded, include Nantucket Open-House Cookbook, Pedaling through Burgundy Cookbook, and Pedaling through Provence Cookbook.

After publishing the latter two books in 1995, Chase hadn't planned to write another cookbook, according to an article in Publishers Weekly. "Writing more cookbooks just wasn't part of my mindset," said Chase, who writes a weekly food column for Nantucket's Inquirer & Mirror newspaper. But in 2010, Peter Workman, the late founder of Workman Publishing, came up with the idea for a regional cookbook. He suggested to Chase that she write about New England. At first, she resisted.

She relented, however, after being inspired by the regional foods she has enjoyed. "In order to make the project feasible I chose to highlight people and places throughout New England that have been of special significance to me," said Chase. For New England Open-House Cookbook she draws from her memories of growing up in Connecticut and Maine; her experience living and cooking on Cape Cod; and her extensive travels meeting farmers, fishermen, and chefs. 

How to marble like a pro

Marbled cheesecake

You know those gorgeous marbled tops and spiderwebs on cakes, tarts, and cheesecakes? They're really easy and don't require any fancy equipment, says Alice Medrich (via indexed blog Food52).

In addition to the classic marbling technique like the one used on Medrich's Marble cheesecake pictured left, she offers tutorials on how to make a spiderweb design, the chevron often found on Napoleons, and a string of hearts pattern. Medrich notes that you need nothing fancier than a lazy Susan and toothpick or bamboo skewer to achieve spectacular results.

She also provides tips to make sure your designs are stunning. Since the glaze must be fluid for the patterns to work, Medrich notes that "it's best if a cake is at room temperature rather than cold. For both the base layer and the design on top, a fluid, pourable glaze works better than a thick frosting." You should also have all of your tools at the ready before you start so your glaze doesn't set up while you are still digging around to find a skewer. See more tips plus illustrative photographs over at Food52.

Blanching vegetables locks in color and crunch

Asparagus

Spring vegetables are exciting for cooks because they are fresh, delicious, and fast. You can maximize their bright flavors and colors by blanching them before using, and indexed blog Serious Eats provides a guide to using the technique with all manner of vegetables.

Blanching vegetables serves a number of purposes. First, blanching destroys "enough cellular structure to just barely tenderize your vegetable to the point that it has lost its raw, fibrous edge, but still retains crunch." The second benefit is that the color becomes vibrant - and stays that way. This happens because "intercellular gasses will expand and escape from the vegetable. This initial escape of gas is what causes the color of a vegetable to change from pale green to a vibrant, bright green-the gas pockets that had been diffusing light suddenly disappear, allowing the full color of the chlorophyll pigment to stand out."

In addition to a timing chart and guides for specific vegetables like English peas, asparagus, and fiddleheads, Serious Eats provides three rules for blanching. First is that you should always have the blanching water at a rolling boil to make the changes noted above happen quickly without overcooking the vegetables. Second, you should blanch each vegetable separately because the timing is different for each one. Third, you should shock the vegetables in ice water to stop the cooking process. The article notes that this last step is controversial, but offers evidence to support keeping the step in place.

Once your vegetables are blanched and shocked, they'll retain their color and texture better than non-blanced vegetables. You can use them in a variety of recipes, or just eat them cold with your favorite dip.

Photo of Grilled asparagus with almond-parsley gremolata from indexed blog Serious Eats

 

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