Kitchen Culture

Here’s something to remember when you’re creating in la cucina:

Clutter Causes Confusion. Confusion Creates Catastrophe.

Avoid clutter to avoid confusion and there will be no catastrophe.

O Olive Oil

I discovered this company at one of the foodie conferences I went to recently. Infused olive oils from California: meyer lemon, blood orange, tahitian lime and ruby grapefruit. I’ve tried the meyer lemon and the blood orange and they were very enjoyable. O also sells imported vinegars which are quite delightful indeed. You can drizzle them over cheese, on salads, use on fish or vegetables, or my favorite: for dipping your homemade bread into…the possibilities are endless. .A fun new way to enjoy oil and vinegar. Hotness!

Pain Couture and The Slow Food Movement

Boy, do I wish I was in Europe right now! Jean Paul Gaultier has a new exhibit at the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art called Pain Couture. Dresses and other fashionista attire all made out of bread! It’s just so incredibly hot. You know, I think that this is something that everyone wants to do, but here Jean Paul goes and actually creates clothing (symbolically) with water, flour, salt and yeast.

And in Italy it may be a little late to catch the Slow Food Festival, but the movement thrives on!

Brined Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkinPumpkin seeds are pumkin seeds, right? Not if you brine them!! Here’s how to do it…

Step 1: Make a Brine
Bring 2 cups of water, the juice of a lemon, and 1/2 cup of salt to a boil. While that’s cooling, hollow out your pumpkin; get rid of the big chunks of flesh, but don’t worry too much if there are still some strings mixed in among your seeds–they’re extra flavor, baby!

Step 2: Kick ’em up and roast ’em up!
Soak the seeds in the brine for as long as you like (at least a half an hour). When you’ve brined to your heart’s desire, strain the seeds, toss them in a few tablespoons of olive oil or melted butter, add a pinch or two of cajun spices (like paprika, cayenne pepper, etc.), and some black pepper, and roast those babies in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes (or until they’re light golden brown and nice and crispy!). Yummers!

Shredded Wheat vs. Shredded Cardboard

I recently did a taste test between name brand Shredded Wheat and store brand shredded wheat, and let me just tell you: there is no comparison. Store brand shredded wheat (we’re talking the basic wheat cereal here–no sugary frosting or chocolate chip filling) is impure refuse. I, for one, am against buying name brand products, but after choking down a whole box of the alternative shredded wheat, I can assure you that I will never again purchase that low quality fascimile. The texture and taste are just not there! Shoppers be warned!

UPDATE!! I found a NEW Organic Shredded Wheat at Trader Joe’s yesterday, and OH MY GOODNESS. It definitely outranks all other shredded wheat! It’s called Autumn Harvest and it’s made by Kashi. They use evaporated organic cane sugar to sweeten the wheat ever so slightly. It’s just heaven in a bowl. The texture is beautiful…crunchy, loose strands of wheat. My new favorite cereal.


cheeses.jpgHave any of you ever tasted Grana Padano cheese? Oh, Lord, it’s so good. Once you’ve tasted this, you’ll never go back to that Coca-Cola of the cheese world, Parmigiano Reggiano. I learned about this cheese from one of the Daughters of Grana during the 2003 Worlds of Flavor Conference at my beloved alma mater. This cheese is a major part of her family’s ethnic identity and just a huge part of her life. She talked about this cheese as though it was her closest, most cherished family member. Although many people compare it to parmesan, it’s ten times creamier and packs way more flavor. Paired with aged Balsamic Vinegar (the older the better), it’s a mouthful of heaven.

At work we serve a French cheese that reminds me of these first two. It’s called Ossau-Iraty and has a completely different texture than parm or padano–smoother, softer, not as brittle. Anyways, these cheeses are in the same flavor family, so if you’re looking for some new alternatives (or a splendiforous snack), check them out!

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