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2005
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Food News, May 28, 2005 Mark Bittman, New York Times food writer and author of How to Make Everything, a super useful and popular cookbook has a new TV series and book. In the series Bittman challenges top/famous chefs across the country where they both cook the same basic dish in two different styles. The chef does their restaurant version while Bittman does a homemade version. True to his "minimalist" identity his dishes tend to simplify and reduce. And while not identical to their counterparts, they appear to have an elegance about them due to their simple focus and execution. In town promoting the show, Bittman stopped by Lampreia to do one of these demonstrations (though not for the show) with Scott Carsberg, the chef at Lampreia. Hsiao-Ching Chou of the Seattle PI does a great job describing the back and forth between the two as well as delivering the recipes for the two dishes that resulted.

I love the Onion. I'm not sure if this is strictly on topic, but it's pretty good nonetheless. Have you been to the new "Not Quite Perfect McDonalds"?

It's funny (dumb funny not ha-ha funny) how different foods get so trendy. I have always loved a good cupcake. Not the supermarket frozen-in-time cupcakes in their see-through cages by the baked goods, but a fresh cupcake with creamy frosting and moist cake from a bakery. I don't love them any more then I ever have (which was already quite a bit). But given how suddenly so many "boutique" cupcake bakeries have sprouted up you'd think they were a new invention. I suppose it doesn't matter why people are suddenly trying to elevate the cupcake as long as they do. The LA times (free registration required) has the rundown of the best cupcakeries in Los Angeles. The one near my house is called Cupcake Royale in the Verite coffeehouse. The one cupcake I've eaten there was certainly serviceable. Not terrible, but not spectacular. I should reserve judgment until I've eaten a few more. That cupcake did however produce one of my favorite moments ever.

     
     
     
     
     

 

 

 

 

 

   

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  Garlic has long been credited with providing and prolonging physical strength and was fed to Egyptian slaves building the giant pyramids. Throughout the centuries, its medicinal claims have included cures for toothaches, consumption, open wounds and evil demons. A member of the lily family, garlic is a cousin to leeks, chives, onions and shallots. The edible bulb or "head" grows beneath the ground. This bulb is made up of sections called cloves, each encased in its own parchmentlike membrane. Today's major garlic suppliers include the United States (mainly California, Texas and Louisiana), France, Spain, Italy and Mexico. There are three major types of garlic available in the United States: the white-skinned, strongly flavored American garlic; the Mexican and Italian garlic, both of which have mauve-colored skins and a somewhat milder flavor; and the Paul Bunyanesque, white-skinned elephant garlic (which is not a true garlic, but a relative of the leek), the most mildly flavored of the three. Depending on the variety, cloves of American, Mexican and Italian garlic can range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches in length. Elephant garlic (grown mainly in California) has bulbs the size of a small grapefruit, with huge cloves averaging 1 ounce each. It can be purchased through mail order and in some gourmet markets. Green garlic, available occasionally in specialty produce markets, is young garlic before it begins to form cloves. It resembles a baby leek, with a long green top and white bulb, sometimes tinged with pink. The flavor of a baby plant is much softer than that of mature garlic. Fresh garlic is available year-round. Purchase firm, plump bulbs with dry skins. Avoid heads with soft or shriveled cloves, and those stored in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Store fresh garlic in an open container (away from other foods) in a cool, dark place. Properly stored, unbroken bulbs can be kept up to 8 weeks, though they will begin to dry out toward the end of that time. Once broken from the bulb, individual cloves will keep from 3 to 10 days. Garlic is usually peeled before use in recipes. Among the exceptions are roasted garlic bulbs and the famous dish, "chicken with 40 cloves of garlic," in which unpeeled garlic cloves are baked with chicken in a broth until they become sweet and butter-soft. Crushing, chopping, pressing or pureeing garlic releases more of its essential oils and provides a sharper, more assertive flavor than slicing or leaving it whole. Garlic is readily available in forms other than fresh. Dehydrated garlic flakes (sometimes referred to as instant garlic) are slices or bits of garlic that must be reconstituted before using (unless added to a liquid-based dish, such as soup or stew). When dehydrated garlic flakes are ground, the result is garlic powder. Garlic salt is garlic powder blended with salt and a moisture-absorbing agent. Garlic extract and garlic juice are derived from pressed garlic cloves. Though all of these products are convenient, they're a poor flavor substitute for the less expensive, readily available and easy-to-store fresh garlic. One unfortunate side effect of garlic is that, because its essential oils permeate the lung tissue, it remains with the body long after it's been consumed, affecting breath and even skin odor. Chewing chlorophyll tablets or fresh parsley is helpful but, unfortunately, modern-day science has yet to find the perfect antidote for residual garlic odor.  

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