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Monday, February 23, 2009


The rambutan , Nephelium lappaceum) is a medium-sized tropical tree in the family Sapindaceae, and the fruit of this tree. It is native to Indonesia and Southeast Asia, although its precise natural distribution is unknown. It is closely related to several other edible tropical fruits including the Lychee, Longan, and Mamoncillo. It is believed to be native to the Malay Archipelago.[1]. Rambutan in Indonesian or Malay literally means hairy caused by the 'hair' that covers this fruit. In Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, it is known as mamón chino. There is a second species regularly for sale at Malay markets which is known as "wild" rambutan. It is a little smaller than the usual red variety and is colored yellow.

Rambutan is adapted to warm tropical climates and is sensitive to temperatures below 10° C, and is grown commercially within 15° of the equator. The trees do best on deep soils that are high in organic matter and thrive on hilly terrain as they require good drainage. Rambutan is propagated by grafting, air-layering, and budding; the latter is most common as trees grown from seed often produce sour fruit. Budded trees may fruit after 2-3 years with optimum production occurring after 8-10 years. Trees grown from seed bear after 5-6 years.

The aril is attached to the seed in some commercial cultivars, but "freestone" cultivators are available and in high demand. There is usually a single light brown seed which is high in certain fats and oils (primarily oleic acid and eicosanoic acid) valuable to industry, and used in cooking and the manufacture of soap. Rambutan roots, bark, and leaves have various uses in medicine and in the production of dyes.

Rambutan trees bear twice annually, once in late fall and early winter with a shorter season in late spring and early summer. The fragile nutritious fruit must ripen on the tree, then they are harvested over a four to seven week period. The fresh fruit are easily bruised and have a limited shelf life. An average tree may produce 5,000-6,000 or more fruit (60-70 kg or 130-155 lb per tree). Yields begin at 1.2 tonnes per hectare (0.5 tons/acre) in young orchards and may reach 20 tonnes per hectare (8 tons per acre) on mature trees. In Hawaii, 24 of 38 cultivated hectares (60 of 95 acres) were harvested producing 120 tonnes of fruit in 1997. It has been suggested that yields could be increased via improved orchard management, including pollination, and by planting high yielding compact cultivars.

Most commercial cultivars are hermaphroditic (producing flowers that are female with a small percentage of male flowers); cultivars that produce only functionally female flowers require the presence of male trees. Male trees are seldom found as vegetative selection has favored hermaphroditic clones that produce a high proportion of functionally female flowers and a much lower number of flowers that produce pollen. There are over 3000 greenish-white flowers in male panicles, each with 5-7 anthers and a non-functional ovary. Male flowers have yellow nectaries and 5-7 stamens. There are about 500 greenish-yellow flowers in each hermaphroditic panicle. Each flower has six anthers, usually a bi-lobed stigma, and one ovule in each of its two sections (locules). The flowers are receptive for about one day but may persist if pollinators are excluded.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Patrick Clark one of the first "celebrity" chefs in America. He died at 42 years old waiting for a heart transplant.

The book Cooking with Patrick Clark is a tribute to this amazing chef native of New York

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com Review
If experiencing the taste of a man's life seems implausible, then you need to cook from Cooking with Patrick Clark, a cookbook generated by Charlie Trotter as a way of giving honor to the memory of one of America's great chefs. Patrick Clark died at age 42, waiting for a heart transplant. He left behind a wife and five children. Proceeds from this book go to an education fund for the Clark children. Like an underlying drumbeat, the comments of more than 50 of the chefs who knew and worked with Patrick Clark and who contributed recipes to this book continually come back to Clark's humanity, his warmth, his dedication to his art, his dedication to his family, and his ability to inspire the best in everybody.
Clark always meant to write a cookbook, but with career and family and the considerable amount of time he put into charity food events, he never got around to it. Cooking with Patrick Clark, then, is as close as we will ever come. This is classy food, challenging food. Clark was a highly skilled and trained chef who raised the bar on American cooking.

Try the Crab, Artichoke, and Potato Salad to discover Clark's delight in the mystery of how disparate ingredients can come together in a peculiarly American style. You'll find Roasted Salmon with Moroccan Barbecue Sauce, or Black Sea Bass with Israeli Couscous. Clark can get as elegant as Rabbit Loin with Leeks and Wild Mushrooms, and as down-home as barbecued Ribs with Spicy Coleslaw and Buttermilk-Chile Corn Muffins. The single note that rings true and clear through all of his recipes is passion. Then there are the contributions of the many invited chefs, who add their memories of and feelings about Patrick Clark. Nancy Silverton's addition is a Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler with Brown Butter Biscuits. She may sum up everyone's feelings best when she says, "I chose this dessert because it's just like Patrick--warm and comforting."

A special note of gratitude must be made to Charlie Trotter. This book might not have made it to print were it not for his drive and determination to see a fitting memorial for his friend and colleague. --Schuyler Ingle

From Publishers Weekly
Cooking with Patrick Clark is a tribute to this native New Yorker and his New American cooking. Tavern on the Green's former executive chef and a 1995 James Beard Award winner, Clark died at age 42, in 1998, while awaiting a heart transplant. Organized by super-chef Charlie Trotter, this family album-style cookbook features more than 50 of Clark's own recipes along with 51 recipes contributed by various chef friends and colleagues, including Trotter, Thomas Keller, Alice Waters, Emeril Lagasse and Jacques P?pin. The book is divided into two parts, both of which are organized into Appetizers, Soups and Salads, Seafood, Poultry, Meats and Desserts. The first half commemorates Clark and includes personal photographs and anecdotes told by his wife, Lynette, and each of his five children. Recipes for Clark's signature dishes emphasize big flavors, textural contrast and detail to presentation (e.g., Jumbo Lump Crab Salad with Citrus, Ginger and Soy Vinaigrette; Barbecued Quail with Sweet Potato and Mushroom Hash; Merlot-Braised Short Ribs with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes.) In the second half, chef contributors share their reminiscences of Clark as well as their recipes, which, while clearly written, run the gamut from relatively simple (e.g., Alain Ducasse's Tuna Loin) to fairly elaborate preparations (e.g., Danielle Reed's Barbecued Sweetbreads). Trotter successfully pays tribute to this talented chef with an inspired recipe collection. (May) FYI: Book royalties will be donated to assist Clark's children.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Friday, February 20, 2009


The habanero chile (Capsicum chinense Jacquin) (sometimes incorrectly spelled "habañero"[1]) is one of the most intensely spicy species of chili peppers of the Capsicum genus. Unripe habaneros are green, and they color as they mature. Common colors are orange and red, but white, brown, and pink are also seen. Typically a ripe habanero is 2–6 centimeters (1–2½ in) long.

Like all Capsicum, the habanero pepper originated in Meso- or South America, most likely the Yucatán Peninsula and its coastal regions. Upon its discovery by Europeans, it was rapidly disseminated to other adequate climate areas of the world, to the point that 18th-century taxonomists mistook China for its place of origin and called it "capsicum chinense"—the Chinese pepper.[2][3][4] In more recent times, and after research, it is believed to have originated in the Mexican state of Yucatán.

The chili's name is derived from the name of the Cuban city of La Habana, which is known as Havana in English. Although it is not the place of origin, it was frequently traded there.[1]

Today, the crop is most widely cultivated in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. Other modern producers include Belize, Panama, Costa Rica, and some United States states including Texas, Idaho, and California. While Mexico is the largest consumer of this spicy ingredient, its flavor and aroma have become increasingly popular all over the world.

Habaneros are an integral part of Yucatecan food. Habanero chilies accompany most dishes in Yucatán, either in solid or purée/salsa form.

The Scotch bonnet is often compared to the habanero since they are two varieties of the same species but have different pod types. Both the Scotch bonnet and the habanero have the characteristic thin, waxy flesh. They have a similar heat level and flavor. Although both varieties average around the same level of heat, the actual degree of "heat" varies greatly with genetics, growing methods, climate, and plant stress.

Recently, the habanero's heat, its fruity, citrus-like flavor, and its floral aroma have made it a popular ingredient in hot sauces and spicy foods. In some cases, particularly in Mexico, habaneros are placed in tequila or mezcal bottles for a period ranging from several days, to several weeks, in order to make a spiced version of the drink.

Babak Hakimian (England) owns the world record for eating the most habanero chillis in one minute, setting the record at 314. This was verified by a Guinness World Record's adjudicator on 23 January 2008.

[edit] Cultivation
Habaneros thrive in hot weather. As with all peppers, the habanero does well in an area with good morning sun and in soil with an acidity level around 5-6 pH. The habanero should be watered only when dry. Overly moist soil and roots will produce bitter-tasting peppers.

Habanero bushes are good candidates for a container garden. They can live many years in pots or other growing containers at proper temperature.

The habanero is a perennial flowering plant, meaning that with proper care and growing conditions, it can produce flowers (and thus fruit) for many years. However, in temperate climates it is treated as an annual when planted in the ground, dying each winter and being replaced the next spring. In tropical and sub-tropical regions, the habanero, like other chiles, will produce year round. As long as conditions are favorable, the plant will set fruit continuously.
Black Habanero Black Habanero
is an alternative name often used to describe the dark brown variety of Habanero chillies. Seeds have been found that are thought to be over 7000 years old. It has an exotic and unusual taste. Small slivers used in cooking can have a dramatic effect on the over-all dish. Gourmets delight in its fiery heat and unusual flavour.

They take considerably longer to grow than other Habanero chilli varieties but are considered by many to be worth the wait. In a dried form they can be preserved for long periods of time and can be reconstituted in water then added to sauce mixes. Previously known as Habanero Negra, or by their Nahuatl Indian name, they were translated into English by spice traders in the 19th century as "Black Habanero". The word "Chocolate" was derived from the Nahuatl Indian word, "xocolatl", and was used in the description as well, but it proved to be unpronounceable to the British traders, so it was simply named "Black Habanero".[citation needed]

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Venison may be eaten as steaks, roasts, sausages, jerky and minced meat. It has a flavor similar to beef, but is much leaner and the fibers of the meat are short and tender. Organ meats are sometimes eaten, but would not be called Venison; rather, they are called humble, as in the phrase "humble pie." Venison is lower in calories, cholesterol and fat than most cuts of beef, pork, or lamb.

Raw Venison EscalopeVenison has enjoyed a rise in popularity in recent years, owing to the meat's lower fat content. Also, Venison can often be obtained at lesser cost than beef by hunting (in some areas a doe license can cost as little as a few dollars), many families use it as a one to one substitute for beef especially in the US mid-south, Midwest, Mississippi Valley and Appalachia. In many areas this increased demand has led to a rise in the number of deer farms. What was once considered a meat for unsophisticated rural dwellers has become as exotic as ostrich meat to urbanites. Venison jerky can be purchased in some grocery stores, ordered online, and is served on some airlines. Venison burgers are typically so lean as to require the addition of fat in the form of bacon, olive oil or cheese, or blending with beef, to achieve parity with hamburger cooking time, texture, and taste. Some deer breeders have expressed an interest in breeding for a fatter animal that displays more marbling in the meat.

Since it is unknown whether chronic wasting disease, a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy among deer (similar to mad cow disease), can pass from deer to humans through the consumption of venison, there have been some fears of contamination of the food supply [1]. Recently, several known cases of the disease have occurred in deer farms throughout the United States and European farms in Scandinavia may also have had several cases.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Description Wasabi (Wasabia japonica) is an edible plant member of the Cruciferae family, which includes cabbage, turnips, and mustard. Wasabi shares the anticancer benefits of this family. Native to Japan where it has been cultivated since the tenth century, it is still considered a staple condiment in that country. Traditional preparation involves using a sharkskin grater called an oroshi. Wasabi's culinary popularity and chemical bioactivity make it valuable medicinally and industrially. Demand for wasabi has created a relatively short supply, higher prices, and new commercial opportunities. These new opportunities include research and development of cultivation technologies, particularly in Canada, and exportation from Japan of seiyo wasabi, or Western wasabi—imitations made of horseradish (Cochlearia armoracia). Western and Japanese wasabi are both highly prized. Wasabi is a perennial, root-like rhizome that is cylindrical in shape. A brownish-green skin covers its pale green flesh. The plant grows to about 18 in (46 cm) in height and produces leaves on long stems from the crown of the plant. As the plant ages, the leaves fall off and a rhizome, or creeping underground stem, is formed, from which new buds arise as modified stems. The modified stem is the part of the plant that is used. The highest quality wasabi, whose translated name is mountain hollyhock (also known as sawa wasabi), thrives on cool water. It grows along the edges of cold mountain streams. When cultivated, rather than wild-crafted (harvested randomly from its natural growing places), it is grown on tree-shaded, terraced gravel beds covered by a thin layer of cool running mountain water or on artificially shaded gravel ridges formed in larger river beds. A lower quality wasabi (oka wasabi) is grown in fields. There are two varieties of wasabi, Daruma—considered to have a more attractive appearance—and Mazuma—considered to have more heat. Wasabi is described as being "hot and fiery without burning," which changes to a sweetness that lingers in the mouth. Preparations Wasabi is most commonly found in powder or paste form. However, due to the scarcity and price of high quality wasabi, many of these preparations—including imports from Japan for retail sale and those served in Japanese restaurants—are imitations made of horseradish, mustard, a starchy binder, and coloring. Wasabi paste may be made from a powdered wasabi by adding water, and letting it stand 10 minutes to allow the flavor and heat to develop. One source noted that the powder may be safely stored in a cupboard, but recommended refrigerating the paste. A salad dressing may be made by combining 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon wasabi paste, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil. Traditional wasabi is prepared freshly for each use, as its volatile oils are quickly dissipated. It is recommended that individuals select a fresh, cool, and succulent rhizome with nice color. It should be rinsed under cool water with a vegetable brush, cutting a fresh surface below or above the leaf node (a distinctive ridge as on bamboo stems). While maintaining a 90-degree angle to the grating surface, the wasabi should be grated in a circular motion against a traditional sharkskin, ceramic, or stainless steel grater. (It is not necessary to peel the wasabi rhizome before grating it.) Then it is gathered into a ball and allowed to sit momentarily at room temperature. It is best used within 15 to 20 minutes.

Currently Reading



From Barnes & Noble
Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential exposed the dark secrets of the high-end restaurant business. In The Nasty Bits, he dishes out delightfully unbridled commentaries on his culinary travels and misadventures. This varied salad includes scathing critiques on food purists and celebrity chefs but also a few reviews that approach mystical rapture. Vibrant writing; spicy opinions.

From the Publisher
In the multiweek New York Times bestseller The Nasty Bits, bestselling chef and No Reservations host Anthony Bourdain serves up a well-seasoned hellbroth of candid, often outrageous stories from his worldwide misadventures. Whether surviving a lethal hot pot in Chengdu, splurging on New York’s priciest sushi, or singing the praises of Ecuadorian line cooks and Hell’s Kitchen dives, Bourdain is as provocative, engaging, and opinionated as ever. The Nasty Bits is an irresistible tasting menu of food writing at its outrageous best—served up Bourdain style.

The New York Times - Bruce Handy
Bourdain is a vivid and witty writer, but his greatest gift is his ability to convey his passion for professional cooking — "this thing of ours," he calls it, a touch melodramatically, in tribute to La Cosa Nostra. With one eye on the kitchen and the other on the dining room, he never loses sight of how the terrestrial inevitably informs the divine.

Publishers Weekly
In this typically bold effort, Bourdain (Kitchen Confidential), like the fine chef he is, pulls together an entertaining feast from the detritus of his years of cooking and traveling. Arranged around the basic tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami (a Japanese term for a taste the defies description), this scattershot collection of anecdotes puts Bourdain's brave palate, notorious sense of adventure and fine writing on display. From the horrifying opening passages, where he joins an Arctic family in devouring a freshly slaughtered seal, to a final work of fiction, the text may disappoint those who've come to expect more honed kitchen insights from the chef. Surprisingly, though, the less substantive kitchen material Bourdain has to work from only showcases his talent for observation. This book isn't for the effete foodies Bourdain clearly despises (though they'd do well to read it). He criticizes celebrity chefs, using Rocco DiSpirito as a "cautionary tale," and commends restaurants that still serve stomach-turning if palate-pleasing dishes, such as New York's Pierre au Tunnel (now closed), which offered t te de veau, essentially "calf's face, rolled up and tied with its tongue and thymus gland." Fans of Bourdain's hunger for the edge will gleefully consume this never-boring book. Author tour. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal
Bourdain does not suffer fools, airplane food, or pretension wisely. His latest non-cookbook-an essay collection divided into the flavors of salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami-makes for highly entertaining and sometimes shocking reading. Readers, in turn, will encounter a range of thoughts, from a challenging description of a seal being butchered for food to musings on Brazilian street food and the unsung French bistro classics like Rongons de Veau Dijonnaise and Tripes a la Mode de Caen and other old-fashioned dishes that some might feel are the "nasty bits" indeed. Lovers of adventurous culinary experiences will find much to whet their appetites here, and those who loathe the celebrity chef phenomena will find a friend in Bourdain. At the book's close are commentaries on the essays (many were previously published), which give the author the opportunity to revisit some strongly expressed opinions. His passion for food, pungent writing, and knowledge of the culinary world make this an excellent purchase for most public libraries.-Shelley Brown, Richmond P.L., Vancouver, B.C. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
The globetrotting, guerrilla TV chef of ill repute serves up some journalistic odds and ends. A garrulous, sublimely talented chap with an eminently respectable couple of New York brasseries and a load of opinions to spare, Bourdain (A Cook's Tour, 2001, etc.) remains an anomaly in the Food Network era. Instead of running a chain of big-ticket, big-ego eateries, he roams the world consuming massive quantities of strange food and prodigious drink, adding snarky commentary and turning it all into a TV show of sorts. Along the way, he writes for several publications, from Gourmet to the Los Angeles Times; a good selection of those writings are collected here. Subjects include other celebrity chefs (Rocco DiSpirito "messed with the bitch goddess celebrity and got burned"), the best bars for adrenaline-jacked kitchen crews to get hammered in the wee hours (in Chicago, it's Matchbox) and the proper definition of cooking ("a cult of pain"); somehow it all flows together with nary a seam in view. But there is some repetition and, unlike most writers with an edge, he's better at being nice. Scourging attacks sometimes fall flat for lack of variety, while puff pieces offer the finest examples of foodie enthusiasm. Indulging in Masa Takayama's insanely expensive sushi is "like having sex with two five-thousand-dollar-a-night escorts at the same time-while driving an Aston Martin." The unfathomable wizardry of Spain's mad-chef genius Ferran Adria is "hugely enjoyable, challenging to the world order, innovative, revolutionary."A vibrant discourse on satisfying hungers of every kind.


caviar or caviare (kăv'ēär) , the roe (eggs) of various species of sturgeon prepared as a piquant table delicacy. The ovaries of the fish are beaten to loosen the eggs, which are then freed from fat and membrane by being passed through a sieve. The liquid is pressed off, and the eggs are mildly salted and sealed in small tins or kegs. Fresh caviar (the unripe roe), made in winter from high-grade eggs, is scarce and consequently expensive, especially when imported. Less choice varieties are cured with 10% salt. The eggs, black, green, brown, and the rare yellow or gray, may be tiny grains or the size of peas. The best-known caviar comes the countries on the Black and Caspian seas and the rivers that flow into them, but declines in sturgeon species there and elsewhere led to a suspension of the international trade in nearly all caviar from wild Caspian sturgeon in 2006–7. Good quality sturgeon caviar is also produced in France from farm-raised fish. In the United States caviar is made from the roe of white sturgeon. Similar products are produced from the roe of other fish, such as paddlefish, whitefish, salmon, flying fish, pike, and trout.

KA-vee-ahr; KAH-vee-ahr] This elegant and expensive appetizer is simply sieved and lightly salted fish roe (eggs). sturgeon roe is premium and considered the "true" caviar. The three main types of caviar are beluga, osetra and sevruga. The best (and costliest) is from the beluga sturgeon that swim in the Caspian Sea, which is bordered by Russia and Iran. Caviar production is a major industry for both countries. Beluga caviar is prized for its soft, extremely large (pea-size) eggs. It can range in color from pale silver-gray to black. Next in quality is the medium-size, gray to brownish gray osetra, and the smaller, gray sevruga caviar. The small, golden sterlet caviar is so rare that it was once reserved for Russian czars, Iranian shahs and Austrian emperors. Other popular (and much less expensive) types include lumpfish caviar (tiny, hard, black eggs), whitefish caviar (also called American Golden) with its small yellow-gold eggs and salmon or red caviar (medium-size, pale orange to deep red eggs). The word malossol on the label doesn't describe the type of caviar but rather the fact that the roe is preserved with a minimum amount of salt; malossol is Russian for "little salt". Caviar is extremely perishable and must be refrigerated from the moment it's taken from the fish to the time it's consumed. Pasteurized caviar is roe that has been partially cooked, thereby giving the eggs a slightly different texture. It's less perishable and may not require refrigeration before opening. Pressed caviar is composed of damaged or fragile eggs and can be a combination of several different roes. It's specially treated, salted and pressed, and can in no way be compared to fresh caviar. Be sure to read the label for information on how to handle the caviar you purchase. Although only a spoonful of caviar supplies the adult daily requirement of vitamin B12, it's also high in cholesterol and loaded with salt. Serve caviar very cold, preferably in a bowl that has been set into another container of ice. It should be presented simply, with toast points and lemon wedges. If desired, it may be garnished with sour cream, minced onion, and hard-cooked egg whites and yolks. Two classic caviar accompaniments are iced vodka and Champagne.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Lobster is a valued food product; well-known recipes include Lobster Newberg and Lobster Thermidor. Lobster is best eaten fresh, and they are normally purchased live. Lobsters are usually shipped and sold with their claws banded to prevent them from injuring each other or the purchaser. Lobsters cannot open and close the claws when they are banded, which causes the claws to begin to atrophy inside the shell. Recently banded lobsters will not show this, and the claws will be full. Many restaurants that serve lobster keep a tank of the live creatures, often allowing patrons to pick their own.
Lobsters are generally prepared and cooked while they are still alive, even though both claws may have been removed. Most cooks place the live lobster into a pot of boiling water or steam which kills it. Lobsters are also served fried, grilled, or baked. Freezing the lobster may toughen the meat.
When boiling, the lobster is simmered for 7 minutes for the first pound and 3 minutes for each additional pound.[9]
The majority of the meat is in the tail and the two front claws, but smaller quantities can be found in the legs and torso. Lobster can be boiled or steamed, or used in a wide array of dishes and salads. It can be served as soup or bisque or mixed with mayonnaise or salad dressing for lobster rolls. Lobster meat is often dipped in clarified butter, resulting in a sweetened flavor.