Myra's Kitchen Blog  

Camera in the Food
Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Camera in the Food

For nine hours last Tuesday I had a camera crew in my kitchen with a large video camera pointed at food that I was preparing. This was PR for the Natural Gourmet Cooking School.  The Sundance Channel is doing a series called Love/Lust and the food that they shot in the kitchen was from the chocolate and the breakfast episodes. They will have people on camera speaking about various aspects of chocolate – history, cultural impact, etc. while they show shots of chocolate melting or baking or being spooned into champagne glasses. On camera I made four chocolate desserts as well as seven breakfasts. Chocolate desserts included chocolate mousse, chocolate lava cakes, brownies, and cloud cookies.

Brownies, Cloud Cookies, Muesli, Granola

Breakfasts included hot cereal with sautéed apples, muesli, granola, frittata, classic eggs benedict, a variation of eggs benedict, and huevos rancheros. Some of these were their choices, some mine. Preparation for the shoot was time-consuming. Mousse, for instance, needs a couple of hours to set, so I had to have a back-up made as well as berry sauce and whip cream so they could film the parfait being layered. I had to have two batches of brownies made in advance, as well as one batch of cloud cookies ready to go, because the cloud cookie batter needs to sit for an hour. The only dessert that was made and completed on camera was the souffle cakes. I did have the raspberry sauce and the whipped cream made beforehand, however.

Freshly Made Lava Cake with Raspberry Sauce and Whipped Cream

As for the breakfasts, I made in advance a batch of granola, I had muesli all ready to soak, I had salsa and beans prepared for the huevos rancheros, and I had spinach, mushrooms, and cheese ready to mix into the fritatas. I made three hollandaise sauces that day, so I had to have plenty of clarified butter as well.

Close-up on the eggs

View from the HD Monitor

The actual cooking for the camera was not difficult once everything was in order. It was really interesting to look into the monitor and see what the high definition screen saw. Look at this egg compared to what was in the pan! So close; the human eye just doesn’t see food that way.  They took many close-ups of chocolate melting, of chocolate oozing out of the cake, of bacon frying, and of eggs cooking.

Huevos Rancheros

After each dish was completed they brought the dish over to a table and took “beauty shots.” The day was one of slow and painstaking work. It was interesting, however, and we churned out some tasty food. I’m certain that on the shows the food will be presented in quick fragments.

Artichoke and Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

I’m now wild for muesli and this variation of eggs benedict that includes smoked salmon and artichokes in lieu of the English muffin and bacon. The variation on the classic eggs benedict was a delicious dinner that night.

 

Hurricane Sunday Comfort Food
Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hurricane Sunday was nursery night all day. We stayed in cozy clothes and ate breakfast for every meal.

A couple of noteworthy highlights:

Mochi with avocado, smoked salmon, and fresh dill.

Mochi recently came back on my radar. The sticky pounded rice squares are available in the refrigerator section of natural food stores. Cut off a square no bigger than 2×2 and bake it at 450˚F for 10 minutes, until it puffs. A toaster oven works just fine. Slice open a pocket and fill it with whatever you like, then  make sure to eat it while it’s hot and gooey. Another favorite combination is mochi (raisin-cinnamon) with almond butter and sliced bananas with a drizzle honey.

Mochi with Avocado, Smoked Salmon, and Fresh Dill

Supper continued in the breakfast mode: Baked eggs with Fresh Corn Polenta

I pureed the kernels from a couple of ears corn, sautéed them in a little butter, then added about ¼ cup of corn grits, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a cup water. I cooked it in a medium skillet, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, then stirred in a sliced roasted red pepper. I transferred the whole corn mass to a pie plate, made a few craters, and cracked an egg into each indent.

Ready to Bake

I sprinkled a lttle salt over the eggs along with a few drops water, and baked them in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.  Seriously delicious.

Baked Eggs with Fresh Corn Polenta

 

Interview on Martha Stewart August 12th
Thursday, August 11, 2011

Friday, August 12th, I’m to be interviewed on Martha Stewart Whole Living Radio on Sirius XM 110. from 10 to 10:30 a.m. The topic will be “Abundant August” and will focus on cooking healthful dishes with summer’s harvest- specifically, corn, summer squash and blueberries. I will be discussing with the host Terri Trespicio  some of the dishes from each of the three classes as well as the nutritional value of each main ingredient, why we should be eating local,  and what the Natural Gourmet is about. The Caller hotline is 866-675-6675 in case anyone wants to call in for questions or comments.

Six of the featured recipes are from my public classes Crazy for Corn and Summer Squash Sensations.

Succotash with Fresh Lima Beans

The succotash we’ll be referencing features fresh lima beans from the greenmarket. If you’ve never tasted a fresh lima bean, you’re in for a great surprise.

Fresh Lima Beans

These buttery beans barely resemble the insipid frozen variety. To prepare the beans, all you have to do is take a few minutes to pop them out of their pods

Sauté these nuggets with corn, red peppers, a hot pepper or two, and a swirl of butter for a colorful and delectable dish.

Another recipe featured from Crazy for Corn is a polenta with baked eggs. The dish starts with fresh corn and corn grits that are cooked into a thick purée, then mixed with roasted poblano peppers and cheddar cheese. The mix is poured into a four quart baking dish or individual gratin dishes, and little indentations are made.

An egg is cracked into each indented spot, then placed in the oven. Twenty minutes or so later you have one delectable comfort food dish.

Fresh Polenta with Baked Eggs

 

Fiddlehead Ferns
Sunday, May 22, 2011

Last week I noticed the first fiddlehead ferns at the Union Square greenmarket. I couldn’t resist purchasing them.

Just Picked Fiddlehead Ferns

Fiddleheads epitomize spring at its most fleeting – they are available a mere three to four weeks locally.  If you want to play with these furled fronds, get them soon; consider a visit to a local market at least in the next two weeks, or you’ll be too late and will have to wait until next year.  The ferns actually started showing up in Whole Foods a few weeks earlier than they did at the greenmarket; the ones at Whole Foods are are probably imported from Maine, since those have a bit of a longer season, lasting from April through May.

Fiddleheads are from the Ostrich fern, and have a brown papery scaly covering (they remind me of bonito flakes) the uncoiled fern.  The ostrich fern is a wild food found in wet areas: on the banks of river, steams, and brooks. Their flavor is a cross between that of asparagus and artichoke.

Ready to be Washed

For my preparation, I soaked these in water to dislodge the papery coverings. Honestly, I never did see ferns with the coverings before this year, and I’ve been cooking these delicate scrolls for years. The coverings made these specimens seem fresher and just-foraged. Make sure to pick off any papery bits that don’t dislodge in the water (this job is a bit “fiddly”), then steam or boil the ferns before cooking or dressing further.

Dislodging the Papery Covering

I paired these babies with smoked mackerel, sautéed red onions and slivered ramps for a delicious breakfast this week. Viva la primavera!

Fiddleheads, Smoked Mackerel, Ramps, and Onions

 

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Photo: Tess Steinkolk

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