Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Guam Liberation Lunch

Chicken kelaguén and kimchee over tossed salad greens and shaved Asian cucumbers is what’s for lunch today—I’m all out of tortillas. Kelaguén is Guam’s as-of-yet unofficial national dish, but that should change soon. How can you resist a spicy ceviche made with coconut and calaman line? This meal is my way of celebrating Guam’s 70th year of liberation (July 21, 1944). The generation before me survived Japanese occupation until the US liberated the Marianas Islands. Old folks don’t talk much about the war—many lives were lost, many starved as they were forced into work camps. Instead we talk about food; much like the Hobbits we talk about what we’re having for dinner while we’re eating lunch. We talk about our favorite food, when fruit is at its best, how to roast a pig, different pickles, what else works with coconut milk, what pepper would make a good hot sauce... you might say that we’re obsessed.

The colors on my plate remind me of Ypoa (Ee-pow), my village beach where many picnics and celebrations were had. The bay is bright teal blue and aqua and the sand always clean and soft; there’s a sweet, salty breeze that cools you down even at high noon. Food always brings back fond memories and emotional connection, I’m sure there’s some science behind this. The sound of city traffic and construction becomes the pounding surf and car alarms and the laughter of school children turn into sea faring birds. My favorite foods always remind me to turn off the social media and enjoy a undisturbed real-time experience. Make some Kelaguén Manok and #EatUP! Maili fan-chomocho!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer in the City at the Hester Street Fair

A walk down Manhattan’s Lower East Side took me to the Hester Street Fair. This seasonal outdoor market features vendors who sell one-of-a-kind goods and specialty foods—lots to see and lots to eat. Their mission is to support a community of artists, collectors, and first time entrepreneurs and to give shoppers the joy of discovering the next “big thing.” Check out their vendors! Hester Street Fair is open until October in Seward Park, where Hester and Essex Street meet. There’s more information on their website: http://www.hesterstreetfair.com.

Say hello to Chris, he's Hester Street Fair's empresario and info-kiosk dude.

Filipino flavors are big at Hello Halo—get your sweet shaved-ice treat here.

Mook's makes Mexican Food and fusion tacos, students get 10% off.

Zhà Asian Street Food has balls—Fried Rice Balls! They sold out by the time I got there, not a ball to be found.

Aux Epices Malaysian-French Bistro will wow you. They also have a brick and mortar on Baxter Street.

An Aux Epices lady and a Deviant Chef cook side by side.
Wondernosh! this lassie sells lassi. Say hello to Shauny Lamba and her hand-crafted yogurt drinks.

Eileen Formanes sells bibingka, a sweet tapioca-coconut Pinoy pudding made with an American twist. @BabingkaEsk

Les Croquettes! Ham, chicken or mushroom—they're going fast.

Mamak Malay-Thai Street Food is all sold out. You snooze you lose... come back next week for a Thai taste.

Beads, bracelets, baubles, bangles, bags... there's no excuse to look shabby at these prices.

Here's that German couple I ran into twice on the way over, glad to see they finally found the fair.

They got ping pong at the Hester Street Fair! Put down that fork and take a swing.

No fair is complete without clever t-shirts, jumpers and togs for tots. I would be "Home Brewed" if I were a toddler.

Knoshing and shopping, there's always lots to see and eat. The original Hester Street Fair was founded in 1895.

Don't prance away! This guy is too tutu much—dance wear with flash for adults and kids at this booth.

Smile! Crochet hats and embroidered patches by Dahlia Soleil will patch up your wardrobe from summer into fall.

Embroidered patches, 1 for $5, $3 for 10—I love the turn table and old-school headphones.

I met this man when I lived on Dean Street, his company excavates old urban wells and cisterns for bottled treasure.

Fine leather by the Flying Sayre's—wallets, billfolds, belts and more

Rachel Mae has as a farm stand.

Rachel Mae has ears of corn, sun-ripened tomatoes, peaches and cherries.
Rachel Mae has fresh pressed apple cider and home-made sugar donuts.

Rachel Mae has jam, pickles and preserves and so much more. Are you hungry yet? Get yourself down to Hester Street.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Recipe: Cultured Butter

Clabber butter is made by allow cream to ferment for a short period, resulting in the best butter on earth.

Source: Grant-Kohrs Ranch
In college I spent some time in Fort Collins, Colorado with the Enochsons, my roommates family. I went back with Hugh during winter and spring college breaks to chop firewood for next winter, clean the barn, rotate hay to prevent nitrogen fires, preparing the steer for market (aka gelding)... this included an unfortunate trip to the rendering plant in Greeley one year. Don’t get me wrong, this is a treasured moment in my life, it was the first time I’d ever seen snow. I went tobogganing, tubing, hiked around the Poudre River, went to wrestling matches in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Most of all, I learned how to milk a cow—a first for this island boy.

Mornings and evenings we collected fresh, warm milk in a pail then transferred it to a tapered milk bucket (see inset). A few tips: warm your hands before milking, use lots of bag balm, say hello to the cow real nice a sweet. After the milk cooled down (in about an hour or so), the cream rose to the top of smaller chamber where it was carefully ladled out. This was the best milk I’ve ever had—unpasteurized and whole. Mrs. Enockson made clabber (aka cultured) butter from the fresh cream. Clabber (from the Scottish) means to sour and thicken; this prevents milk from going putrid as good microbes colonize. The French call this cultured cream Crème Fraîche. Unpasteurized cream will naturally thicken as it ferments. Churning separates the buttermilk from milk fat. The result is slightly sour, rich butter with a very deep dairy flavor—it’s the best butter on earth! Mrs. Enockson made the most jaw-dropping biscuits from this butter. After refrigerating overnight, the butter was usually kept in the cupboard. Other than the wonderful flavor, I was amazed at how it kept its form without melting as store-bought butter would.

If you can get a hold of raw cream that would be ideal. Recently some farmers have won legal battles, but raw dairy in the United States is controversial and its sale is still illegal in some states. That being said, here’s my Brooklyn-boy solution using pasteurized heavy cream and a lactobacteria starter—I filtered kimchee juice though a fine sieve to make a starter. These instructions yield roughly a 3/4 pint of butter.

Clabber Butter Recipe
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp kimchee juice, filtered
    (you can also use whey or buttermilk as a starter, but that's not fun.)
  • 1/2 tsp salt or sugar (optional)
  • paper towel and rubber band
  • rubber spatula
  • large mixing bowl
  • hand blender
  • coffee filter and filter caddy

Open the cream spout add 1 tsp kimchee juice, close and shake. In the end you actually don’t taste any kimchee. Open the top of the carton completely and cover with a paper towel and a rubber band. Let it sit at room temperature (65-72°F) for 12 to 18 hours. As lactcobacteria colonize, the cream ferments and thickens. You can buy a clabber starter online, or you can use whey or buttermilk... but that’s no fun, is it. The point is to inoculate the cream with a living lactobacteria culture. At this point you can add a little sugar or salt if you want.

Using only one beater, set the hand mixer to it’s lowest setting and whip until the cream separates into buttermilk and butter solids (approximately five to six minutes)—avoid spatter, use a large mixing bowl. You’ll notice that the fat forms into small clumps; tilt the bowl and use a spatula gather the solids to one side and press out some of the liquid, then carefully transfer the solids to a coffee filter—use two if needed. Hang filter caddy over a bowl and allow remaining liquid to drain for 30 to 45 minutes, agitating lightly every so often to remove the liquid. Some save the buttermilk, I prefer to discard it. It’s not like the thick butter milk used for baking, it’s more akin to sour skim milk. Pack butter into a small air-tight container and refrigerate overnight.

A generous schmeer of freshly made clabber butter with jam and toasted gluten-free bread from Chatham Bakery

Cultured butter, like cheese, builds more flavor with a little age; I think it tastes best after a week of refrigeration, but who’s stopping you from digging in, right? So go forth and spread that bread, bake the flakiest biscuits and croissants, make a pound cake that will sink a boat and say “Yo man, I got me some cultured butter!’

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Blood and Kimchee at The Gluten-free EatUP!

We’ve got Gluten-free K-Mac at The Gluten-free EatUP! topped with cheese puff crumble, scallions and fine-aged kimchee—with pasta from Taste Up Foods. Meanwhile, the World Cup will be playing on Freddy's Bar's big and small screens, Germany v. Argentina. It’s a blood-sport-gluten-free day at Freddy’s Bar with sweet and savory foods for sale and FREE ice cream tasting by DF Mavens. The Gluten-Free EatUP! is NYC’s only pop-up marketplace of locally crafted, gluten-free, taste-full goodies—brought to you by Levine’s General Store and Kimcheelicious.

The Gluten-free EatUP!
Sunday July 13, 2014 1pm to 6pm
Freddy’s Bar (Backroom)
627 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Entrance is Free

Levine’s General Store
Savor this, Levine’s General Store has their signature Yum Pies, hand-held savory pockets—Knishka (potato-kale) and Chana (curried chickpea & rice). Bring your appetite for the finest tastiest GF Grilled Cheese or Grilled Kim-cheese, by Levine’s and Kimcheelicious on Chatham Bakery Bread served with chips! You ca purchase GF bread and kimchee and hone your skills at home.

Kimcheelicious Foods
Enjoy the tart, savory, fine-aged flavors of vegan kimchee. Our foods are gluten free and aged to perfection. Kimcheelicious has Napa Cabbage kimchee and Fermented Korean Radish in 15 oz jars and tangy sweet Ssamjang Sauce in 8 0z jars available for purchase. Enjoy it on our Mac ‘n’ Cheese or a Grilled Kim-cheese Sandwich and stop by for a FREE tasting.

Taste Up Foods
Tease your taste buds with imported Italian classic foods! Taste Up Foods imports classic cookies, bread crumbs and pasta from Italia’s finest and most advanced allergen and gluten-free facilities. Levine’s General Store will be serving up Mac ‘n’ Cheese with their wonderful fusilli with a rich blend of cheddar cheese—your cravings satisfied here.

DF Mavens
It’s a scream! The “Free Trifecta” from one of the top ice-cream experts in the world, DF Mavens will be giving away Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Ice-Cream for Free!

Polvilho Bakery
Brazil is in this house! Salve the stress of World Cup viewing with Polvilho Bakery’s puffed cassava crunchy satisfying snacks, a favorite of Brazil.  Buy a bag and watch the game!
Sans Bakery
The most awesome of Ginger Cookies and the mellowest and tastiest baked treats from market fave await you. Pre-packaged, crumbly hockey pucks be damned! Sans Bakery is the gluten-free bakery you’ve been waiting for.

Gone Pie Vegan Bakery
Sweet Vegan that’s so good you won;t believe it’s vegan! We’re lucky as ever to have Gone Pie serving up decadent baked goods and sweets and… of course, pie.

Izzy & Em’s Baked Goods
Dreamy Sweetness, welcome aboard Izzy & Em's small batch, organic, cookies. Apricot and pistachio, oatmeal and raisin—your new favorite treats are here.

I Heart Keenwah
Fortify & Energize Returning from our debut market I Heart Keenwah will be sporting their high protein, crunchy, packed with flavor and nutrition quinoa snacks.

Passing Gas: Passive CO2 Blowout Tube System

I’ve got gas! CO2 gas that is. The modified blowout system work for both first and second fermentation. This resolves a problem with unpredictable gas emission. As fermented foods produce CO2, it displaces air and oxygen. This creates an environment anaerobic that lactic acid bacteria (LAB) need to colonize. The blowout tube used in beer brewing drains gas instead of overflowing mash. Excess gas leads into closed bottle of water which absorbs CO2 and sulfides gases, turning them into a weak acid. Anyone up for some kimchee soda?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Classical Gas: a LAB Experiment

A brewer's "blow out tube" system is modified to aid in lacto-fermentation to displace CO2.

Sulfide gas, the devil in the bottle

In a salt rich environment, microbial activity is suspended with exception of lactic acid bacteria (LAB). Once a colony is established LAB creates an acid environment in which it will  synthesize sugar and protein into enzymes and amino acids. But most importantly it creates the glutamic acid responsible for the umani flavor. At room temperatures, carbonic acid forms rapidly as organic matter breaks down. As it degrades into carbon dioxide gas (CO2) and water it gives kimchee and other fermented foods a characteristic complex, tart flavor. CO2 becomes very soluble at lower temperatures, penetrating deeper into fermented food matter taking the umani and other flavors along with it.

The Experiment: Pass the Gas
In a long winded way I’ve described first and second fermentation. Lacto-fermentation occurs in the absence of oxygen as it creates CO2, which is heavier than air. In a closed chamber it displaces air and oxygen creating the essential anaerobic environment. As any brewer knows, CO2 can build up quickly in a sealed vessel, forming pressure that can literally blowing the lid right off... with fragrant results. Airlocks are commonly used to alleviate the pressure, but does little about the infamous odor. Most of the kimchee aroma comes from sulfides in garlic, chives and cabbage. I’m experimenting with a “blow out tube” system commonly used in beer fermentation. But instead of draining overflowing liquid, I intend to filter CO2 and sulfide gases as they dissolves in water to trap the trademark aroma. Gather these materials:
  • a mason jar of prepared kimchee
  • a drill
  • plastic aquarium airline and tube connecters
  • a clean soda bottle
  • rubber bands
As CO2 displaces air, the plastic tube delivers and neutralizes pungent sulfide gas into a water.

Up your nose with a plastic hose.
For this LAB experiment I bought some plastic aquarium airline and tube connectors at a pet store. I modified a connector into a one-way spout by cutting off and sanding one end flat and widened the opening. Drill a clean hole though a mason jar lid, select a bit that matches the barrel of the the connector. Attach the airline tube snugly. Now make sure the cap is screwed on tightly. Lead the other end of the tube into a bottle of water and secure the tube in place with rubber bands.

As CO2 pressure builds, it is forced gas up and through the hose down into the bottle of water. CO2 and sulfide gas molecules easily lose their covalent bond in water and dissolve to form a weak acid; pungent aromas are also filtered and absorbed in water. The idea is to remove enough CO2 to allow a gentle carbonation that will lead other gasses out of the fermentation chamber, while retaining enough CO2 to aid in creating deep, complex flavors. That’s the mechanics of carbon dioxide gas production, so far it works well at room temperature (68-72°F). The water has already absorbed some of the sulfides. When acid levels drop to 4.2 pH I’ll move the set up to refrigerated temperature (38-41°F) for second fermentation. At lower temperatures CO2 will slowly develop deep, complex flavors in kimchee over the course of four to six weeks. Stay tuned!

July 4th Grilling at Freddy's Bar

Kimchee burger with ssamjang—simple and delicious grilled food to celebrate July 4th with friends
Despite the threat of Hurricane Arthur my grill-mate Pat O’Shea and I burgerred and dogged people from 2–7PM—on the main menu, kimchee dogs and kim-cheese burgers served with shaved radish and carrot slaw with a good slather of tangy sweet ssamjang sauce. Other patrons pitched in proudly.

Mr. Rick James brought his Jamaican jerk chicken—slow-and-low smoked to perfection over fresh thyme leaves. It had just enough Scotch Bonnet to sweat the brow. Other patrons brought fresh summer sausages, Polish kielbasi, home made franks and dry rubbed chicken. And for the lone vegetarian, I made portobello mushrooms with sweet corn steamed in foil tents. There’s nothing like catching up with friends over a grill.

The rain subsided, but it was a welcome reprieve from the heat (and heat rash) that NY has had lately. Skies were clear by around 5PM. Driving rain just days before had flooded the Gowanus area and reaped disaster to parts of Massachusetts with a hail. The sky was electric. World Cup played on the big and small screens to screaming fans—Brazil beat Columbia at a steep price as star player Neymar went down with a fractured spine. The reigning Coney Island hot dog eating champ, Joey Chestnut, proposed to his girlfriend before he won the contest yet again.

Meanwhile, I thought a 64 oz jar of Napa cabbage kimchee would be enough, but we ran out by around 4:40PM—youz’ guyz snooze, ya’ loooze. But I made some new Kimcheelicious fans, they’re running over to Court Street Grocers to get a jar or two. They liked that fact that my kimchee is vegan, but has the same deep flavor that traditional kimchee has. The coals were out by 7PM, which gave us just enough time to catch the fire works and down a few beer. This is Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn. As the rents rise sky high, and more people move here, these same people are actually are killing the diverse neighborhood that they seek. Give me the simple life... as the songs goes. You won’t find it flipping luxury condos and co-ops. You might find it flipping a burger. Something sweet is just down the street with the company you keep.