Tales from the watering hole
Hello and greetings to my fellow water quality citizen science community and research orientated aficionados! My name is Cathal Flood. I am a post graduate reserarcher in Maynooth University. I am also a member of a local citizen science project in Emyvale, Co. Monaghan in Ireland led by Enda Fields of DKIT and Leo McMahon, a local angler whose father was bailiff of emy lough for many years. Local knowledge I have found so informative and inspiring as I did my thesis. What do we do?? Well we take part in monthly testing of various water quality parameters in the Emyvale catchment and also compare this testing to some taking place in Maynooth University that started there with the DCU water blitz with fourth year biology students in the college and Dr. Gail Maher of the department of Biology last September. Obviously given the strange times we are in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, it is unfeasable for us to continue our regular testing which had only just expanded into nutrient testing for Nitrates thanks to the help and support of DCUs water Institute with Dr.Fiona Regan in particular...but for now we cannot go rouge with our pipettes and cuvettes to break the law in the name of water quality :D Stay home and stay safe I encourage you all of course.
However as a water quality enthusiast it is hard for my mind to switch off water and one day on the farm (I am also a part time farmer) which I still have to attend to as an essential service, an epiphany came to me. What if I test here? I always have a great belief that farmers are part of the solution of our environmental conflicts today and not the problem as some would point to them as. I decided given by luck I still had access to the citizen science basic water monitoring equipment via my nutrient test kits (still had some left) and phosphate testing equipment from Enda (Hanna low range checker) that I could perform some nutrient tests actually on my own farm looking at the effects of land use activities such as slurry and fertilizer application with best practice on the local river and streams which flow through the small 30 acre farm in Ardagh, Co. Longford.
There are four stream access points for cattle drinking acess or "watering holes" if you will on this farm. I have them restricted as my father did for minimal access but access nonetheless to local water bodies for obvious animal consumption and welfare reasons. My core thought was if I monitored before, during and after grazing of livestock what would it show? What would I see (testing when I am back on the farm every couple of days) . I think the mini study will be interesing first to me to see effects my farm management is having on my local water body. Secondly important to assess nutrient management planning on the farm and compare to other nutrient management systems in general. And finally to show how farmers can learn about their local catchment issues, become advocates of best practice on farm dealing with their local water source for their livestock and become not only custodians of the fruitful land but also of the fresh water! My first I guess experiment was simple. A before and after nutrient test for Nitrates and phosphates during fertilizer/FYM application (April 17th and 23rd). My second nutrient test or experiment is on recently moved livestock from housing to grazing (May 1st) on a 1.5 acre field with one single limited stream access for water consumption as seen in the picture above to assess physical changes in the water body and nutrient changes of course while they are grazing near there. They will be there with maybe some livestock changes (but same quantity of cattle and their poos) til 15th May. I will test again on Friday 8th May. You are all welcome to provide thoughts or feedback. I am learning too in this process of how to be a more environmentally aware farmer, citizen scientist as well as researcher. Please follow my tales from the watering hole!
Best regards, Cathal.
Ok I have joined in the past those indie groups, where you could have as many characters a you wanted. Because of that, I’ve created a looooong list of muses I never got to play much, but would lot. So under the cut are those I’d be most interested in trying out again. If you’d be interested in playing against one of them, please message me!
Alessandra “Sandy” Caravalho: Camila Mendes fc, cisfemale(she/her), panromantic asexual, actress(most principally in musicals), quite popular but she tries to act and live as normally as possible.
Amber Jackson: Emily Browning fc, cisfemale(she/her), pansexual, “looks like a cinnamon roll but could actually kill you” trope, acts like a vigilante, I also have a superpower AU in which she has pyrokinesis.
Angelica Cain: Crystal Reed fc, cisfemale(she/her), bisexual, inherited the family business which includes a crime ring.
Anthony Powell(Anton Popov): Skeet Ulrich fc, cismale(he/him), heterosexual, part of the Russian mafia, was expatriated to the States for his own safety, had a daughter when he was 18 that he loves a lot but the mother is now deceased.
Arina Kosolova: Natalie Dormer fc, cisfemale(she/her), bisexual, kinda Black Widow inspired, she moved to the States after the Russian organization she worked for was disbanded.
Beverly Jordan: Vanessa Morgan fc, cisfemale(she/her), pansexual, a science nerd, she ran away from home because of a gang harassing her and had to stop her studies, she now works as a cashier.
Bianca Rutherford: Caitlin Stasey fc, cisfemale(she/her), homosexual, a hacker with a thing against men, I have a vampire AU for her in which she was turned by a men who manipulated her centuries ago.
Bradley Hines(Patrick Langford): Zane Holtz fc, cismale(he/him), bisexual, an hired assassin/spy, he was hired to track a specific target, get close to them, and take them down.
Cassiopée Monaghan: Lily Collins fc, cisfemale(she/her), heterosexual, has a twin, her father was a big time criminal in Russia but her mother moved her and her twin to the States to protect them, totally boy obsessed.
Cecelia Rose: Shailene Woodley fc, cisfemale(she/her), pansexual, a writer who took time off to travel the world after her mentor overworked her to the point she couldn’t write anything anymore.
Charles Myers: Matthew Daddario fc, cismale(he/him), bisexual, a police officer dating his work partner’s kid.
Darren Bates: Ryan Mccartan fc, cismale(he/him), homosexual, a quite popular model who’s been on/off with his non celeb boyfriend for a long time, kinda stupid.
Elliott Whitley: Luke Bilyk fc, cismale(he/him), homosexual, was kicked out of his house and now works as a bouncer, definitely dates girls just to cover up the fact he’s gay.
Emely Lindner: Alexandra Daddario fc, cisfemale(she/her), bisexual, a ballerina dancer turned model, she moved to the States in order to find out who her real father is.
Evan Rendall: Harry Lloyd fc, cismale(he/him), bisexual, Norman Bates inspired, owns a motel that rarely gets clients, and the clients often disappear.
Felicia Porter: Elizabeth Olsen fc, cisfemale(she/her), pansexual, an overly sweet journalist who got pulled into a polyamorous relationship and is trying to make it work as best as she could.
Finlay Ainsworth: Jack Falahee fc, cismale(he/him), pansexual, a recovering addict who now works as a waiter in a restaurant, I have a supernatural AU in which he is a hybrid.
Gail Erickson: Katie McGrath fc, cisfemale(she/her), bisexual, an artist who opened her own little gallery, but she also does forgery.
Isabella Perez: Becky G fc, cisfemale(she/her), homosexual, comes form a dysfunctional family, ran away many times but always came back home, but now it’s been almost a year and she doesn’t plan on going back soon, works in a movie theater.
Janet Montrose: Evangeline Lilly fc, cisfemale(she/her), pansexual, a con artist who doesn’t trust anyone.
Kavia Desai: Naomi Scott fc, demigirl(she/her/they/them), homosexual, an ex popular soft child turned rock singer, she has a twin sister.
Kieran Doyle: Aidan Turner fc, cismale(he/him), demiromantic bisexual, part of the Irish mafia, also a forensic pathologist, I have mythology AUs for him in which he’s either a son of Thanatos or Thanatos himself.
Laurence Juneau: Bryce Dallas Howard fc, cisfemale(she/her), bisexual, a fashion designer with a growing brand across the country, has definitely designed a dress for a celeb at one point.
Madeleine Stokes: Kylie Bunbury fc, cisfemale(she/her), bisexual, Regina George is her idol, complete bitch with an actual burn book, became a weather girl for the visibility.
Monica Hunt: Felicity Jones fc, cisfemale(she/her), pansexual, stupid/innocent girl who was abandoned by her parents, she still thinks they’re coming back soon, works as a barmaid now.
Natalie Calloway: Jenna Louise Coleman fc, cisfemale(she/her), heteroflexible, a corrupt detective, married to a criminal and helping him in secret without him knowing that.
Natasha Grimes: Danielle Campbell fc, cisfemale(she/her), bisexual, Michelle Richardson inspired, she was in a toxic relationship and just got out from it, but is lowkey still into her ex.
Philip McGee: Dacre Montgomery fc, cismale(he/him), bisexual, has anger issues he got from his dad, his mom abandoned him when he was a kid because of that, but he’s actually a softie.
Preston Wagner: Cody Christian fc, cismale(he/him), pansexual, a college student who was facetiming his ex when she was murdered.
Raphaelle Delong: Zoey Deutch fc, cisfemale(she/her), pansexual, a personal assistant who takes her job very seriously, definitely needs someone to make her loosen up.
Rebecca Blackstone: Eliza Taylor fc, cisfemale(she/her), bisexual, had a kid when she was 19 and has been struggling a lot with money, single mom who changes job often.
Robert Jefferson: Tom Hiddleston fc, cismale(he/him), bisexual, a politician son who was forced into this life even if he doesn’t want it.
Timothy Watts: Landon Liboiron fc, cismale(he/him), bisexual, soft boy who got mixed in the wrong crowd and now has a bad reputation, he’s a mechanics.
Valda Blake: Chloe Bridges fc, cisfemale(she/her), bisexual, an ex pageant queen and Queen Bee who fell down and now works as a barmaid, still a total bitch.
THE FINAL GIRLS: they’re a group of sorority sisters, and the only survivors of a serial killer targetting their sorority. They’re also heavily inspired by Scream and Scream Queens characters, obviously.
Alyssa Mullins: Carlson Young fc, cisfemale(she/her), pansexual, she was the mayor’s daughter and vice resident of the sorority, she never got over the incident and stopped her studies to become a stripper.
Lea Cole: Billie Lourd fc, cisfemale(she/her), pansexual, a ‘bastard’ child with a criminal father, her emotions have always been a little dissociated but she’s working on that, during the killings, she was saved by someone who had a crush on her so she’s been trying to explore that possibility, she’s an on-set assistant for tv shows.
Phoebe Newton: Abigail Breslin fc, cisfemale(she/her), bisexual, she was kind of the idiot of the sorority, the one they made fun of, but she had money so they wanted her, after the incident she started studying in pre-med.
Seraphina Brisbane: Willa Fitzgerald fc, cisfemale(she/her), bisexual, the only reason the sorority wanted her in the first place was because she was smart and pretty, but she didn’t come from a privileged family like any of them, she has a lot of PTSD and has continued her journalism and criminology studies.
THE CONFECTIONERY BROTHERS: just two brothers who started a confectionery because they felt there weren’t enough of those in their town.
Edward Hale: Luke Benward fc, cismale(he/him), bisexual, the soft one in the two, he grew up in the shadows of his brother, he usually work the front of the shop since he never pursued studies after high school.
Terrence Hale: Glen Powell fc, cismale(he/him), pansexual, a complete mess, but a smart mess, studied accounting because that’s what his parents wanted, decided he wanted a confectionery after watching Harry Potter.
THE RUNAWAY SIBLINGS: they have a complicated backstory, he was taken at 7, she was 1, and she ended up in an orphanage. When they finally found each other, they just ran away.
Elena Richmond: Alycia Debnam-Carey fc, cisfemale(she/her), pansexual, at 10, her parents were murdered in front of her, and she was taken to an orphanage, she was always troubled and went out to find her brother when she was 18, thinking he’d abandoned her.
Tyler Oaks: Nicholas Hoult fc, cismale(he/him), bisexual, he was taken from his family at 7 and was forced into the mafia and hitman life, very mentally troubled with the only goal being to find his sister.
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2 bags of frozen organic raspberries
1/2 cup sugar (or more to taste)
Pinch of salt
Finely grated lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Mix all your ingredients in a pot over medium-high heat.
2. Stir frequently for about 10 minutes, or until the raspberries have lost their shape completely.
3. Taste throughout and add sugar accordingly. When sweet enough, let cool and jar for further use.
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I'm loving Small Victories, Julia Turshen's new cookbook. Useful, fun and great recipes. With summer coming, I highly suggest you try her Greek-Ish Grilled Shrimp. Easy and delicious.
Greek-Ish Grilled Shrimp
1 1⁄2 lbs medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 lemons, halved
3⁄4cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1. Soak twenty-four wooden skewers in warm water for about 1 hour (this keeps them from burning on the grill). Drain the skewers and set aside.
2. Prepare the grill for medium-high heat (or heat a large grill pan set over a couple of burners) and make sure your grates are super-clean.
3. Meanwhile, put the shrimp in a large bowl, drizzle with 3 Tbsp of the olive oil, and sprinkle with the salt. Use your hands to toss everything together so that each shrimp gets properly oiled and salted. Thread the shrimp onto the skewers, using two skewers per kabob, so that you end up with a dozen sturdy kabobs.
4. Transfer the shrimp kabobs and the lemon halves, cut-side down, to the grill. Let the shrimp cook until the undersides are ever so slightly charred, about 2 minutes. Flip the kabobs and cook until the shrimp are slightly charred on the second side, opaque, and firm to the touch, just about 1 minute longer. At this point, the cut sides of the lemons should be nicely charred.
5. Transfer the shrimp and lemon halves to a serving platter and use tongs to help you remove the skewers (discard the skewers; they’ve done their job). Scatter the feta and oregano over the shrimp and drizzle with the remaining 3 Tbsp olive oil. Use your tongs to help you squeeze the smoky juice from the lemons over the shrimp. I like to leave the juiced halves on the platter along with the shrimp so you and your guests can get a little bit more juice out of them as you eat the shrimp, plus they’re kinda beautiful, don’t you think? Serve immediately.
When I was in Serenbe, a small visionary community outside of Atlanta, I visited the small but charming farmers market. Everything was grown on the property and/or artisan-produced. And because I was in the South, produce was way ahead of the still semi-frozen northeast.
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King, a restaurant that opened last September on the corner of King Street and Sixth Avenue in Soho, has quickly become my go-to dining spot after seeing a movie at the Film Forum. The delicious, northern Italian food proclaims chefs Clare de Boer's and Jess Shadbolt's roots, London's legendary River Cafe. The menu changes daily, so there are always surprises, and you can dine there frequently without tiring of the food IF you can get a reservation.
I ate there again on Friday after seeing two Melville movies at the Film Forum. Reminded how good the place is, and once again entranced, I searched the web for King recipes. The only one I found was for Pissaladiere, a classic savory tart from the South of France. I decided to try their version although I already had perfectly good recipes for the dish. I'm glad I did as it was delicious. I plan to make it for a picnic basket and buffet dining -- and to serve small pieces along with cocktails -- as we move into summer.
7 ounces cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 ⅓ cups flour
½ teaspoon fine salt
Pinch of granulated sugar
6 large red onions
Maldon sea salt
Cracked black pepper
20 anchovy fillets (we use salted Ortiz, which we rinse and fillet)
1 cup black niçoise olives
1 bunch fresh thyme
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Start by making the dough: Using a food processor, bring together the butter, flour, salt and sugar until it resembles a fine breadcrumb. Slowly add the ice water, a little at a time, until the dough barely comes together.
3. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for two to three hours before using. (This can be made a couple of days in advance and will keep in the fridge.)
4. To make the topping, peel and cut the onions in half. Slice thinly. In a large, wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan, gently sweat the onions in a little olive oil, Maldon sea salt and cracked black pepper, covered with a cartouche. When the onions are soft, remove the cartouche to evaporate the excess liquid. Do not allow the onions to color — they should be soft and intensely sweet but not caramelized. This should take an hour. Remove from the pan and leave to cool.
5. Using a box grater, grate the pastry onto a lined 11-by-17-inch baking sheet. Grating breaks up the gluten strands, which gives you a much thinner crust. Then press the dough into the base to form a thin layer along the bottom of the tray. Cover again and chill for a further 30 minutes.
6. Remove the tray from the fridge and prick the base a couple of times with a fork. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until crisp but not browned.
7. Remove the crust from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Top with the onions and smooth out to form a thin layer. Lattice the anchovies across the top of the onions and place an olive in each square. Sprinkle with thyme, black pepper and olive oil and bake in the oven for a further 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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As today is Cinco de Mayo, I'm passing on one of my favorite, easy Mexican-esque recipes. Also because -- even though today is cold and pouring rain and awful here in New York -- summer is around the corner. This slaw is an idea warm-weather side dish to accompany Mexican meals but almost everything else as well.
MY MEXICAN COLE SLAW
1 head shredded red cabbage
1/4 head shredded white cabbage or bok choy or iceberg lettuce
1 medium red onion cut into paper-thin rings
1 yellow bell pepper cut into very thin strips
1 red bell pepper cut into very thin strips
2 bunches coarsely chopped cilantro
Juice of one lime
Juice of 1/2 orange
Measure the juice and use half as much neutral vegetable oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
A little bit of chili mold for sprinkling—or use cayenne or Tabasco sauce
1. Toss the salad ingredients.
2. Sprinkle with a little more chili molito or other ground Mexican chili.
3. Add the dressing and toss again.
Spring is here and summer around the corner. As temperatures rise, I revisit my repertoire of tasty fish recipes. This recipe for sea bass fillets from Missy Robbins, James Beard nominee for the category of "Best New Restaurant" in the U.S. (for Lilia in Brooklyn) is just what I want for summer. It's super light, super tasty and--containing nothing but fish, olives, a bit of oil, basil, seasonings, and orange supremes -- easy, easy, easy to make. And it's quick -- from start to finish taking about 15 minutes.
Click here for the recipe.
When Jane Kramer (known for her brilliant and extensive New Yorker articles) arrived for dinner the other night, she proudly presented me with The London Cookbook: Recipes from the Restaurants, Cafes, and Hole-in-the-Wall Gems of a Modern City, written by her daughter, Aleksandra Crapanzano, a James Beard award-winning food writer. These 100 recipes from the city’s best restaurants, dessert boutiques, tea and coffee houses, and cocktail lounges are varied and tasty and most of them easy to make. In addition, the author knows London well, and her amusing, informative text is a love letter to this hip and most international of cites, an insider’s guide to its most delicious haunts as well as a highly curated and tested collection of its best recipes. The eclectic melange ranges from The Cinnamon Club’s Seared Aubergine Steaks with Sesame and Tamarind to the River Cafe’s Tagliatelle with Lemon, and from Trashed’s Indian Rock Chicken Curry to Nopi’s Sage and Cardamom Gin.
Click here to get your copy.
As Easter and Passover are coinciding this year, it's certainly lamb season. This Moroccan lamb tagine is a great and unusual main course for either holiday but delicious every other day of the year as well. This particular tagine includes dates which give it a certain je ne said quoi that I adore. It's my favorite recipe ever for this North African classic.
Lamb Tagine with Saffron, Dates, Cilantro, and Moroccan Olives
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground tumeric
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 3-4 inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large Spanish onions, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon sugar
2 cups homemade beef stock plus ½ cup water or 2 ½ cups best store-bought beef stock
½ teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon orange flower water
20 Moroccan, Greek, Calamata or other pitted imported black olives, cut in half vertically if large
2 preserved lemons, pulp discarded, skin cut into thin slivers
1 cup pitted dates, halved crosswise
1 15-16 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (optional)
1 large bunch chopped cilantro
½ cup chopped pitted prunes
1/3 cup chopped toasted blanched almonds to sprinkle over the top
Rice or couscous to accompany or bury it in vermicelli like the chicken and sprinkle with chopped toasted almonds
1. Combine all the spice mixture ingredients in a bowl large enough to comfortably hold the lamb.
2. Add the lamb and toss to coat well.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole. Brown the meat in batches, placing the pieces back in the bowl as browned.
4. Add the sliced onions and the sugar to the pan, adding a little more oil if necessary and cook, stirring often for 10 minutes. Add the meat back to the pan and continue to cook and stir until the onions turn light gold, approximately 5 minutes more.
5. Add the stock (and water if using) and the saffron, zest and orange flower water. Bring to a boil and then immediately reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and simmer for one hour. Skim off the fat.
6. After an hour, add the olives, lemon and halved dates. Cover and simmer 30 minutes more or cook uncovered if the sauce seems too thin. Skim off the fat. The meat should be very tender and almost falling apart. If it is not, re-cover and simmer until it is. Add the chickpeas if using and cook another few minutes until they are heated through. Stir in half the cilantro and half of the chopped prunes.
AT THIS POINT, YOU CAN LET THE TANGINE COOL UNCOVERED AND THEN COVER AND REFRIGERATE FOR UP TO 3 DAYS. WHEN READY TO SERVE, REMOVE ANY FAT THAT HAS CONGEALED ON THE SURFACE, BRING TO ROOM TEMPERATURE, leave covered and reheat on top of the stove, over medium-low heat, stirring often. AND CONTINUE WITH THE RECIPE.
AS WITH SOUPS, STEWS AND TAGINES USUALLY DEVELOP FLAVOR AND ARE THEREFORE BETTER WHEN MADE AT LEAST A DAY AHEAD.
7. When ready to eat, reheat gently, serve in bowls over couscous or rice and sprinkle with the remaining chopped cilantro, chopped almonds and the remaining chopped prunes.
At a friend's request, I reworked a classic biscotti recipe. She wanted cookies that were a bit lighter, sweeter and less rock-hard than the original.
Although not too, too different, I'm quite pleased with the result. I made a huge batch for my friend and she's in heaven. Chocolate chips are good additions if you want to gild the lily.
New-Fangled Classic Biscotti
Yield: about 60 cookies
1¾ cups raw almonds or skinned hazelnuts (or I prefer half and half)
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted & cooled to tepid
4 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 2 teaspoons vanilla and 2 teaspoons almond extract)
4 cups pastry or all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
1. Toast the nuts in the preheated oven until fragrant and lightly golden, 6-8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat 4 eggs with the sugar until very light, about 5 minutes. Pour in the butter and vanilla and beat until combined. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the egg mixture Mix until well combined, then stir in the nuts. Refrigerate the dough until firm, about 1 hour.
3. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven again to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
4. Transfer the dough to a work surface, and cut it into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion of dough into a narrow log about 2 inches wide.
5. Bake the logs of dough in the oven for 20 minutes. Allow them to cool on the pans, set on racks.
6. When the logs are cool, use a sharp knife to cut them at an angle into slices about ½-inch thick. Place the cookies on the pans, cut sides down, and bake at 350°F, turning once, until golden, about 20-25 minutes.
With abundant spring herbs, lemon zest and smoked salmon, this recipe is ideal for a spring brunch. However, it also makes a perfect starter for a fancy dinner or main course for lunch. If you'd rather skip the salmon, for a bit of salt, be sure to pass freshly grated Parmesan instead.
SPRING HERB PASTA
Serves 6 as a starter, 4 as a main course
1 pound dried penne, pappardelle, fusilli or bow-tie pasta
1 bunch fresh chives, minced
1 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata or chèvre
1/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
2-4 tablespoons or more heavy cream as needed for consistency
Abundant coarsely ground black pepper to taste
Sea salt to taste
1 cup diced smoked salmon (optional)
1. Cook pasta according to package directions
2. When the pasta is al dente, drain well--reserving a cup or two of the cooking water-- and toss with the remaining ingredients. Adjust cream and/or reserved pasta-cooking water until you get a nice, creamy consistency
3. Serve right away.
NOTE: If you omit the salmon, pass freshly grated Parmesan alongside
Tom Colicchio has been one of my favorite chefs ever since his early Gramercy Tavern days, so when PEN suggested I host a fund-raising dinner featuring his 2000 book, Think Like a Chef, along with my new cookbook, It's All in the Timing, I felt honored and jumped at the chance. The sold-out gathering featured dinner composed of recipes from my book and a discussion between food author and critic Ed Levine and Tom about the politics of food and hunger. The conversation was spirited and lasted till almost midnight. People went home with copies of both books and abundant "food for thought."
The Last Magnificent, a new feature biopic produced by Anthony Bourdain and based on the life and career of my close friend Jeremiah Tower, is set for wide-release next month. In light of the upcoming film, I'm sharing details of another exciting release. Jeremiah's latest book, Start the Fire, comes out in April as well. This page-turner of a memoir is an updated and revised version of Tower's California Dish, a best-seller that rocked the culinary world with its tell-all tale of Jeremiah's lifelong love affair with food and restaurants and people along the way. Click here to pre-order your copy.
Last week, I taught a particularly fun cooking class in the form of a bachelorette party. And because the bride-to-be was in the wine industry, each person brought their favorite wine, and they were all great. I got to taste a number of wines I'd never had before (but plan to try again) and learned at least as much about wine as the group did about cooking.
The menu chosen by the hosts began with individual cheese and garlic souffles. Roast pork loin with caramelized fennel, figs and honey followed along with sides including a potato and veggie smash and a melange of green and sugar snap peas, haricots verts, hazelnuts and orange. Last but not least, ginger-caramelized pears dolloped with vanilla creme fraiche provided a delicious finale.
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Several years back, I joined Pat Battle on NBC to prepare one of my favorite Valentine's Day desserts, a Rose and Raspberry Fool. This ethereal pink and white concoction is a snap to make as it entails nothing more than folding together whipped cream and raspberries, and it provides a perfect finale for tonight's romantic dinner a deux. In addition, it's guaranteed to win over virtually anyone.
With Valentine's Day coming right up, I have chocolate on the brain. I love dipping fresh strawberries as well as all kinds of dried and candied fruit in a layer of rich dark chocolate to gift to those I love (and of course to nibble on while gifting). My favorite chocolate to use for the melting and dipping is Trader Joe's POUND PLUS. It's made in Belgium and 72% cocoa solids. FOR THE PRICE (a 17.6 ounce bar is under $6), it must be the best on the market. But separate from price, it holds up well compared to much better known and prestigious brands.
For those of you who want to give chocolate dipping a try, here is my WSJ article and a recipe for Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries that ran last year. It's super easy. Check out the recipe here.
I realize I am in the minority (certainly among my family and friends anyway) but I adore black licorice. For me, red licorice---like white chocolate--is borderline OK but not the real thing by a long shot. When I was in Stratford-Upon-Avon last week (to see plays....but also it turned out, to eat and buy licorice) I discovered The Stratford Sweet Shop, home to jars and jars of the best imported licorice (from Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Australia) imaginable. I loaded up, but now have almost finished all of it and have been trolling the internet for more.
If you too are a licorice addict, click here to order soft licorice drops quite similar to what I found in Stratford.
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In restaurant kitchens, chefs squeeze everything--from fancy mayos to dessert sauces--out of plastic bottles to speed up service while simultaneously providing a bit of decoration. I too have been using them for years. Hot dogs seem more authentic when I use squeeze bottles for ketchup and mustard. And I use the wonderfully inexpensive bottles for all sorts of olive-oil based sauces and even for whipped creams and butter creams. Lately I've even been filling an extra large one with dish detergent to keep by the sink.
Almost every day I find another use for kitchen shears. I often seem to use them when other people use knives. I've owned a couple pairs of Joyce Chen shears since the 1990's but as they're sometimes in the dishwasher when I want them and as I thought it was time to branch out, I've just ordered myself the shears.