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spenser personalizing food & drink.



farm-to-bottle CIDER lone star


the BURMESE kitchen winter 2013-2014 | ISSUE NINE spenser

features: 74| BURMA:

Cooking in the land of rice and rivers

by Brendan Lynch


Craft cider in western Michigan

by Cyndi Flores


Charcuterie and salumi from the best butchers in Texas

by Mike Dundas

59| OUT OF THE COLD: Wood-fired winter baking in Vermont

by Heidi Murphy

departments: BUTLER'S CHOICE: pantry modern




STOCKING THE BAR: tea & bubbles


TABLE SETTINGS: winter sparkle


MEREDITH'S PAGE: golden opportunities


SEASON'S SWEET: blood oranges






recipe index: charcuterie Rabbit, Pork Belly, & Fig Crepinettes (Kevin Ouzts) | 42 Salted Wild Boar Belly (Jessie Griffiths) | 101 Wild Boar Rillettes (Jessie Griffiths) | 100

salads Everything Bagel Pasta and Whitefish Salad | 19 Minutina Salad with Vegetable Confetti & Coriander Vinaigrette (Judy Rodgers) | 36 Minutina Salad with Bonito Flakes | 39

soups & stews Celeriac Soup (Julianne Jones) | 72 Rangoon Mohinga (Naomi Duguid) | 86 West Coast Mohinga (Naomi Duguid) | 84

sweets Blood Orange and Campari Cake (Russell Norman) | 33 Bittersweet Chocolate Tarts with Flaky Spelt Crust | 103

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letter from the editor:


appy New Year!

We’re celebrating the start of 2014 by highlighting a few of our favorite new makers, folks with devout passion for handcrafted products that have only been in business for a few years or less. They’re breaking molds and creating new markets for food and drink that, until recently, were dominated by mass production. Each of these businesses have limited (if any) distribution, but their stories transcend, hopefully inspiring you to seek out similar businesses in your neck of the woods. And should you find yourself in Houston or Austin, or even Fennville, Mich. or Vergennes, Vt., you’ll find a welcoming reception and a warm offer to try something individually unique and delicious when you step through the door. In this issue, we traveled with husband and wife photographers Jessie Kriech-Higdon and Chris Higdon on a snowy day in western Michigan to visit Virtue Cider, a craft cider company producing a diverse range of farm-to-bottle hard ciders. And we followed one of our very first contributors, Heidi Murphy, as she visited the tiny Vergennes Laundry, a small town woodfired bakery in Vermont’s Champlain Valley. Seeing Heidi’s photographic story, you’ll realize

that we should all be so lucky to have such a gathering place in our own hometown. I was able to get out of the office this issue, venturing off to Texas with staffer extraordinaire Meredith Paige to visit three Texas butchers who are rewriting the definition of charcuterie and salumi in the Lone Star State. Morgan Weber and Ryan Pera of The Revival Market, Jessie Griffiths of Dai Due, and Ben Runkle and Bryan Butler of Salt & Time are all putting their local stamp on cured and potted meats by updating old world traditions with the ingredients and flavors of the Texas larder. We are only publishing a handful of recipes this issue because we want to lure you out of your comfort zone. That means spotlighting unusual ingredients, like the salad green minutina, or previously unexplored cuisines, like the quintessential Burmese dish, mohinga. We devoted an entire feature to this multilayered fish stew (with incredible photos by Mikka Tokuda-Hall) and we were lucky enough to be able work with acclaimed cookbook author Naomi Duguid to bring you not one, but two different regional mohinga recipes. In this time of resolution, at the beginning this new year, venture to find new producers, cuisines and new recipes; to both shop local and eat worldly. Find a new story about the food and drink that sustains you and tell it to one and all.

mike dundas editor-in-chief

winter 2013 - 2014 |



magazine MIKE DUNDAS

co-founder & editor-in-chief LEIGH FLORES

co-founder & executive editor JEN WHITE

design director COREY ABSHER

interactive producer MAX FOLLMER

lead copy editor HILARY KLINE


staff writers MEREDITH PAIGE

meredith's page editor & staff photographer contributing writers




staff dogs

CHASE, JACKSON, KAUFMAN & OLIVER in loving memory: CHLOE & SCOUT welcome: MAEBY (rescued 12.20.13)

advertsing & sales inquiries:

editorial & business inquiries, questions & comments:


spenser’s commitment:

spenser magazine commits to donating 1% of profits to charitable causes in support of ending hunger in America and abroad this commitment supports spenser magazine’s desire to help promote the need to end hunger everywhere

spenser disclaimer: Spenser Magazine is published on a bi-monthly basis by Spenser, LLC. All rights are reserved. Neither the publication, nor any portion thereof, may be reproduced in any manner or in any form without the prior written authorization and permission of Spenser, LLC. Spenser Magazine and Spenser, LLC are not responsible for the accuracy of advertiser claims or advertiser content. Notwithstanding, every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the content contained in the publication and on the Web site.

spenser magazine | los angeles, ca

contributors: CYNDI FLORES | WRITER Cyndi is an information technology project manager who lives near Washington DC and tries to make a difference in the world by living and working responsibly. She loves travel, new experiences, good food, and the company of friends or dogs (or both). She learned to cook from her mother who only measured the first time she made a recipe and canned fruits and vegetables every season. From her father she acquired the taste for hot peppers, fresh tortillas, mustang wine and good strong black coffee. She started writing when she was five, but this is only her third article about food.

HEIDI MURPHY | WRITER & PHOTOGRAPHER Heidi is a wedding + lifestyle photographer, and aspiring foodie. Though her heart belongs to Martha’s Vineyard, she lives north of Boston with her husband and their three dogs in a charming seaside town. She has an affinity for simple flavors + simple pleasures, farmer’s markets, organic everything, s’mores, corn from the grill, and champagne. Heidi’s work, on film, has been featured stateside and abroad; and her recent musings + imagery can be found on

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MIKKA TOKUDA-HALL | PHOTOGRAPHER Mikka Tokuda-Hall spent four years living out of a suitcase, working in Vietnam, Japan, and Peru, and travelling throughout Asia and South America, taking as many photos as possible along the way. Her photos have appeared in Metropolis and TNT magazines, as well as on travel and nonprofit Web sites. She currently lives in Los Angeles and works in television production. Images from her ongoing travels in California and abroad can been seen at

JESSIE KRIECH-HIDGON & CHRIS HIGDON | PHOTOGRAPHERS Based in Louisville, Kentucky, Chris and Jessie are the husbandand-wife team behind Kriech-Higdon Photography. On their path to falling in love and establishing a business – whether as a touring musician, a psychology student in rural Indiana, a taxi driver, or a restaurant server – neither was ever without a camera to document the experience. These days, inspired by the everyday beauty of real life, their on and off hours are a near seamless blend of family, friends, food, music and animals – and that’s just the way they like it. Becoming parents to sons Ewan and Wilder has been their best assignment to date! Recently, Country Living and O, The Oprah Magazine, has featured Chris and Jessie’s work. Their diverse portfolio can be seen at

American Handmade by Military Spouses Using up-cycled military materials, our handbags bring together elegance and history in a product entirely made by hand. With classic simplicity, a powerful mission, and modern styling, our military inspired handbags fit any occasion.

d visit us online at


Who knew a bag could be so Empowering?

butler’s choice:

pantry modern

In Thomas O’Brien, an American designer, we knew we had found a kindred soul with one simple, but elegant statement, “the butler’s pantry is the sort of intricate passage between major rooms that I love to design.” O'Brien's "American Modern" (Abrams) takes a multi-faceted look at ”modern” and in doing so brings a fresh perspective to its many applications in those intricate passages that form the foundation for our favorite pantries. O’Brien methodically lays out his philosophy as he takes the idea of “modern” design through the paces, overlaying it with traditional, urban, and casual settings. “When people ask about what I do,” he notes, “I might say that I help find the classic elements from past generations, and then edit them together for this one.” In referring back to pantry spaces, O’Brien continues, “I call these the ‘knuckles’ that connect space. I always refine the scale and proportion of these little rooms, and focus on how they function.” The “Formal Modern” section of the book features a pantry where O’Brien imparts glamour with dark, strong station elements and French-polished black walnut. The past comes to play with 1930s-inspired polished nickel handles and retro-mirrored backsplashes that are used in both the pantry and kitchen — bringing flow and continuity to the ‘knuckle’ and the main space. “I make a habit of outfitting pantries as bars, with vintage accessories and special cocktail lamps,” O’Brien says. “I put together a collection that includes a modernist 1927 cocktail shaker by Harald Nielsen, turn-of-the-century cut crystal decanters, and a 1940s silver-plated English wine bucket.” The designer recognizes American design is influenced by its particular history including colonial assimilation, exploration of the West, and the “intensity of the city.” To O’Brien, remixing those ingredients — “making that mix your own” — has become something of a mantra. He finishes, “I do believe there is something in that process which is quite American in spirit, and ultimately modern in implementation.” So do we.

Photos on this spread by Laura Resen from "American Modern." Copyright 2010. Published by Abrams Books.

stocking the pantry:


Sfoglini is a Brooklyn-based pasta company that has made its name producing small batch, fresh extruded pastas in a range of creative shapes and flavors. Founded by Steve Gonzalez, who has cooked at some of New York's most revered restaurants — Insieme, Company, Hearth, Roberta’s, and Frankies Spuntino to name a few — and Scott Ketchum, a creative director and graphic designer, the company fills a niche market in New York’s competitive craft food scene by focusing on made-to-order pasta. According to Ketchum, the name, Sfoglini, is reference to the many Italian grandmothers who are the true experts at hand making fresh pasta. Gonzalez and Ketchum chose the name to honor these unsung cooks and, at the same time, signal their desire carry forward and pass on their techniques and traditions.

cast aside and unusual flavors like stinging nettles, ramps, saffron, sauvignon blanc grape skins, and garlic scapes are extruded into shapes like trumpets, “radiators,” and reginetti. These non-flour ingredients are pulverized, then sifted through a tamis and folded into the pasta dough. Once the pasta is extruded through the traditional bronze dies, it is air dried for anywhere from 48 to 96 hours and hand packaged in date-stamped bags. Our favorite flavor, not just for nostalgic reasons but because it’s truly delicious, is the Everything Bagel Fusilli. In a hat tip to the quintessential everything bagel found across New York, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic, onion, and salt are added to the base dough, creating a flavor that is so classically New York that it is sold at the New-York Historical Society’s museum store.

Gonzalez, who heads up the kitchen, produces a full $8.00 for a 1 lb. bag. Available in shops throughout line of organic semolina pastas in popular shapes and New York City and online at noodles, like cavatelli, bucatini, and fusilli. He truly html excels, however, when the constraints of tradition are

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stocking the pantry:

EVERYTHING BAGEL PASTA AND WHITEFISH SALAD One of our favorite morning rituals when visiting New York is to head down to Russ & Daughters — the “Louvre of Lox” as the Sunday Times once called it — on the Lower East Side for a bagel sandwich they call the Super Heebster. The sandwich, which tastes best on an everything bagel (naturally), comes with whitefish and baked salmon salad, horseradish dill cream cheese, and wasabi flying fish roe. This super easy recipe is our homage to that sandwich and to the creativity that is Sfoglini’s Everything Bagel pasta flavor. Serves 8 as a side salad 1 lb. Sfoglini Everything Bagel Fusilli ¹⁄ ³ cup finely chopped fresh dill ½ cup freshly grated horseradish 8 oz. whitefish salad (use the best you can find) 2 oz. cream cheese 2 oz. wasabi tobiko (flying fish roe) Freshly ground black pepper 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for 5-8 minutes until al dente. When the pasta is nearly done, use a heatproof measuring cup to reserve one cup of the pasta water. 2. Drain the cooked pasta and add to a large mixing bowl. Fold in all of the remaining ingredients, using the reserved pasta water (1 tbsp. at a time) as necessary to form a sauce with the cream cheese. Serve immediately, or chill in the refrigerator for two hours and serve on the same day as a cold pasta salad.

PORTLAND PÂTÉS In a sense, the butcher shop scene in Portland, Ore. is worthy of it’s own episode of Portlandia. In this episode, the “Is the chicken local?” couple returns for another round of inquisition about the provenance of the chicken (or pig) used to make pâté at a neighborhood shop. The couple will surely walk away happy as Portland’s best butchers are as dedicated to humane animal farming practices as any in the country. And, in recent years, they’ve shown a true dedication to perfecting the art of charcuterie and nose-to-tail cooking so that no part of the animal goes to waste. Not to mention the fact that this relatively small Pacific Northwest city lays claim to three separate USDA approved craft curing operations. That’s just amazing. First up on this tour of Portland pâtés is CHOP Butchery & Charcuterie’s Good Food Award winning Bourbon Chicken Liver Mousse. Co-owned by Eric Finley and Paula Markus, CHOP strives to be the classic “no frills” old-school shop where everything is crafted in house by butchers who are on a first name basis with their customers; the kind of place that grows old with you as you celebrate milestones and holidays with trips to the meat market. All the way across town from CHOP is the new retail marketplace for Tails & Trotters, the celebrated pork producer founded and co-owned by Aaron Silverman famous for finishing pigs on hazelnuts. The Tails & Trotters process of finishing pigs on hazelnuts provides increased flavor to the fat and meat, and results in a superior pork product that is perfect for old world charcuterie techniques. And, just like CHOP, Tails & Trotters has a Good Food Awards winning pâté that is worthy of national recognition, their Smooth Liver Pâté. The heavy hitter in town is Olympic Provisions. Known for innovative flavor combinations and dedication to bringing craft salumi to a larger, national distribution network, the Olympic Provisions curing operation is the brainchild of company co-owner Elias Cairo. Cairo utilizes what he calls a “patient and graceful” approach to charcuterie, with a supreme dedication to old world techniques backed up by modern science. Our choice from Olympic Provisions was easy and just happens to be the most rustic of the bunch, a countrystyle pork and pistachio pâté.

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on your iPad.

CHOP BUTCHERY & CHARCUTERIE BOURBON CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE This flavorful “mousse” pairs the freshest chicken livers with bourbon, apples, mushrooms, garlic, mascarpone, and a touch of bacon. It is brilliant on its own, spread generously on a little slice of great bread.

OLYMPIC PROVISIONS PORK PISTACHIO PÂTÉ This coarse-ground country style pork pâté is redolent with fresh herbs, spices and pistachios and is capped with rendered pig fat. Serve with whole grain mustard and pickles or as part of a larger cheese platter.

stocking the pantry:

TAILS & TROTTERS SMOOTH LIVER PÂTÉ To make this rich pâté, Tails & Trotters emulsifies liver from their hazelnut finished pigs together with pork fat, house made pork stock, heavy cream, and brandy. A seriously delicous pâté, for serious eaters.

stocking the bar:


RUM & COLA TEA Salt Merchants, located in Port Townsend, Wash., describes itself as a nautical provisions company. But don’t think that this is some work-a-day seaside emporium offering up hardtack and Star brite® hull cleaner. Nope. Old Salt Merchants, founded in 2012, sources select offerings of three of the world’s oldest commodities, salt, sugar, and tea, and offers them up in a range of creative flavor combinations. The company is the brainchild of husband and wife team, Joshua and Anika Colvin. Anika is the designer, caramel maker, and iced tea junkie and Joshua is the publisher, sailor, and rum drinker. Drawing inspiration from their 20+ combined years working in various maritime trades, their products include Jamaican ginger sugar, coconut sugar, and “black powder” salt, which is made by blending large-flake Cyprus sea salts with activated charcoal made from coconut shells. While the elegant packaging (designed by Anika) and distinctly salty sailor logo (nicknamed “Dutch” and created by More & Co. Creative Studio in Portland, Maine) may be the thing that first catches your eye, it’s the product inside the package that will keep you coming back again and again to Old Salt Merchants. Our favorite item, and the sweet lovechild of Anika’s obsession with iced tea and Joshua’s penchant for rum, is the Rum & Cola black tea. A blend of large leaf Ceylon tea, lemon myrtle, and dried lemon peel is mixed with dark rum, natural lime flavors, and a touch of stevia leaf for sweetness. $15.00 for 15 sachets of tea. Sold online at

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stocking the bar:

LINI LAMBRUSCO For far too long, the first thing that came to mind when seeing the word Lambrusco was a bottle of Riunite sweet red wine being playfully dropped into an ice bucket with a catchy jingle playing in the background. In the 1970’s and 80’s, these Riunite television commercials were everywhere and they pushed the popular red wine that’s sweeter than some colas to be the best selling imported wine in the history of U.S., with more than 160 million cases sold. The wine and the jingle left a lasting impression on generations and turned off many wine drinkers from ever considering the purchase of a more traditional Lambrusco. Leading the charge to change the impression of Lambrusco in the hearts and minds of wine drinkers everywhere is Alicia Lini, the young scion of a fourth-generation wine making family in Correggio, Italy. As Lini points out, true Lambruso isn’t the cloyingly sweet grape juice with the fizz of day old beer that was so popular with the disco crowd. At its best, Lambrusco is bright and balanced, earthy and acidic and the perfect foil for the rich foods of Bologna and the rest of Emilia-Romagna, where Lambrusco is bottled. Hearty pastas, real mortadella, aged culatello, and Parmigiano-Reggiano all pair well with a good Lambrusco. This Italian sparkler’s ability to match up with the rich dishes that comfort us in cold weather is the very reason why we are featuring Lambrusco in the winter. Lini’s “Labrusca” Rosso, made by Alicia’s father, Fabio Lini, is a blend of two different grape varietals (85% Lambrusco Salamino and 15% Ancelotta). The Salamino, which is the most common of six different Lambrusco grapes with more than 10,000 acres planted in EmiliaRomagna, is the backbone of this playful yet balanced wine. Blending in the Ancelotta rounds out the berry and dark cherry flavors and provides a touch of sweetness to cut through the tannins found in the Salamino. Low in alcohol (11% ABV), with loads of fruit and a bright acidity, this affordable bottle of sparkling red wine is not to be missed. $15 for a 750 ml bottle. Available at better wine stores nationally.

table settings:


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We knew when we met Nashville designer Jeannette Whitson for our all Tennessee fall issue that her “vibe” (as she puts it) matched our “vibe.” In short, we have a crush on her. Whitson runs the 1st Dibs store Garden Variety Design, where she focuses on selecting items that gain a deep patina of outdoor living. She knows this patina just can’t be replicated and adds depth and beauty to indoor decorating. Since we have such a crush and didn’t want to go a single issue without talking to Whitson, we asked her to design a winter table setting. She didn’t disappoint. Every year, Whitson creates a “holiday” bar that can last through all of her seasonal entertaining. Known for her outdoor pieces, she typically picks a strong focal point from the garden to live inside for the winter and surrounds it with potted topiaries. The setting lasts for months, through many celebrations and requires little upkeep. The plants keep fresh with an occasional watering and fresh cut flowers liven up each occasion. Around Christmas, Whitson adds antique glass ornaments for “Christmas sparkle” and closer to New Year’s celebration, silver hats from Barcelona make their way to an antique silver tray. The layers upon layers of silver add to the depth of the setting and, practically, the hats double as bottle openers. For winter cocktails, the setting just needs a cutting block with some cheese, figs and blackberries. In a world where folks feel pressure to “entertain” and make it all seamlessly come together, Whitson reminds us that simple items that transition beautifully provide spectacular winter shimmer and allow us the time to do the important things – like visiting with our family and friends.

Photos by: Jeannette Whitson

meredith's page:


The New Year always brings the promise of new opportunity and new beginnings. Perhaps there is the opportunity to get on the treadmill a bit more or, more likely for me, the new beginning of some beautiful golden objects to bring into the house! Happy New Year y'all!

– Meredith

Shake & Shine

I have loads of cocktail shakers, but the gold shine on this piece from Cocktail Kingdom makes me think I need one more. This Usagi 500 ml Heavy Weight Cobbler Shaker comes in at a substantial 1.10 lbs. $78.95, Cocktail Kingdom

Holiday Hustle An 8” X 10” gold foil print with a little bit of motivation and a lot of shine. $15, Charm & Gumption, Etsy

Make a Wish

By artist Chuck Price, these 15” cast bronze wishbones first caught my eye at a friend’s house and are now at the top of my "wish" list. Additional sizes are available. Contact store for pricing, Antony Todd

Knife d’Or

From one of my favorite shops in Los Angeles, Nickey Kehoe, this beautiful Japanese Aged Brass Knife Block, comes with a detachable cherry wood five-slot top and garners all the kitchen counter attention. $320, Nickey Kehoe

Pencil Me In

The British pairings on these gold stamped pencils – Bangers & Mash, Fish & Chips, Tea & Biscuits – take a fun turn on the expression “we go together like . . ." $12, set of 7, Knot & Bow, Etsy

winter 2013 - 2014 |

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January 18



San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts

San Francisco Ferry Building


Tickets $5 at the door

photo credit: Marc Fiorito of Gamma Nine Photography


During the holidays, families gather to celebrate traditions and create lasting memories. But for the millions of families who face hunger the holidays can be one of the hardest times of the year. Hunger affects one in five children right here in America. This year, you can share your season with a hungry child and help make No Kid Hungry a reality in America. Learn how at

season's sweet:


The heart of the blood orange universe is Catania located on the eastern side of the Italian island of Sicily. The deep red colored fruit has been cultivated here on the south facing slopes of Mount Etna for centuries and is deeply ingrained in the culture. First appearing in markets and roadside stands in December, the Sicilian blood orange season hits its peak when the Tarocco varietal becomes ripe in February. Tender and bursting with juice, Tarocco blood oranges are very hard to find in the United States. Most domestic blood oranges are of the Moro varietal and are grown in California’s Central Valley. California growers prefer the Moro because it is a heartier tree with fruit that has the most consistent coloring. Both are delicious, but buy the Tarocco if you happen to see it. As renowned fruit expert David Karp notes, the red pigment in blood oranges is the result of the presence of anthocyanin, which is the cause for the red in cherries, red currants, apple skins and most other fruits. It is generally believed that cold winter nights alternating with mild days are the optimal conditions for the development of the pigments in blood orange rinds and flesh. For growers, however, finding that perfect blood red coloration can be elusive as the pigments can dramatically differ from row to row and tree to tree, even within the same orchard. Perhaps that is why blood orange season always seems so special to us. The natural beauty of a blood orange is a gift from nature that must not be taken for granted. What the “plate of figs” is to the end of a Northern California meal, a blood orange is to the Sicilian table -- a simple, unadorned, and unfooled around with dessert. Don’t hesitate to cook with blood oranges, however, as they do all across Italy. The striking juice and bright tartness can be a perfect addition to many sweet preparations. Russell Norman, the owner of one of our favorite Italian restaurants, Polpo in London, England, combines blood orange juice with the bitter Campari liqueur to create a syrup that is poured over a hearty semolina cake still warm from the oven. It’s a winning combination that is sure to delight, even on the coldest winter night.

Blood Orange and Campari Cake Recipe by Russell Norman Campari is one of the ingredients I most associate with Venice, even though it originates from Milan. Its bright red glow and sticky bitter taste are key elements of the quintessential Venetian drink, the Spritz. It’s also the defining ingredient in a Negroni, and makes it a cocktail to be reckoned with. My early trips to Venice found me in the Giardini neighborhood at the end of the Grand Canal and I have a strong memory of the massive illuminated CAMPARI sign on top of the Hotel Riviera on Lido, now sadly gone. Tom and I had always talked about creating a dessert that featured Campari and we asked one of our chefs, Florence Knight, to come up with some ideas. This was her winning response. Makes 1 9-inch cake 8 blood oranges 12 oz. (350g) Greek yogurt 2 ²⁄ ³ cups (600g) superfine sugar 4 medium free-range eggs, lightly beaten 2 sticks (250g) of unsalted butter, melted and cooled 2 cups (350g) fine semolina 1 cups (100g) ground almonds or almond flour 3 ½ oz. (100ml) Campari 1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF/170ºC. Finely grate the zest of 4 of the blood oranges and set the fruit to one side. Get a large mixing bowl and put in the yogurt, half of the sugar and the lightly beaten eggs. Stir in the cooled butter and finally fold through all the dry ingredients including the orange zest. Scrape the mixture into a 9” greased cake pan and put into the oven. Check to see if the cake is ready after 15 minutes. Push a skewer into the center; it should come out dry. Leave to cool in the cake pan. 2. While the cake is cooking, make the syrup. Put the juice of 8 blood oranges, the remaining sugar, and the Campari into a heavy-based saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil. Allow the syrup to simmer and skim off any white scum. When reduced to a medium-thick syrup remove from the heat. Prick the top of the cake all over with a toothpick and spoon the syrup over the warm sponge in a couple of batches until everything has been absorbed. Your cake is now ready. To serve, simply cut a slice and offer with excellent vanilla ice cream. Copyright 2012 Russell Norman. Photo on this page by Jenny Zarins. Reprinted from "Polpo" by permission of Bloomsbury. Editor’s Note: Norman’s original metric measurements are in the parentheses. The American measurements are adapted.

season’s harvest:


Judy Rodgers, the late chef and owner of the beloved Zuni Cafe in San Francisco, Calif. was the one who first introduced us to minutina more than 10 years ago. She had just published "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook." Without a hint of irony or regret, Rodgers included a recipe for minutina salad in her final version of the book despite the fact that she had never seen it sold in the United States. Her goal was to prod customers and farmers alike to seek out the leafy green and, just perhaps, create a market for it. Rodgers herself writes in the book that she first fell in love with minutina at an Eastertime market stand in the village of Impruneta, which is just south of Florence, Italy. Harvested young, the tender leaves of minutina, which is also known as erba stella, could easily be mistaken for lawn clippings. “[The leaves] are vaguely succulent in texture and have a pleasant, mineraly taste, a little like raw spinach,” Rodgers wrote. “It is as fragile as baby lettuces and arugula - and with all that surface area, it needs to be dried very carefully - but it is otherwise a friendly ingredient.” Minutina has been eaten in Italy as far back as the 16th Century and colonial-era farmers were known to have first cultivated it here in the states, often using it to make jelly (think mint jelly with strong herbal and floral notes). These days, minutina starts making appearances at local farmer’s markets in the fall with the season running through to the spring. While the harvested leaves must be handled delicately, the plant itself is rather hearty and thrives throughout the winter across much of the country. It can be cooked, but we like to eat it raw in bright, fresh salads as a counterbalance to the heartier cold weather dishes that are often served this time of year.

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The Pitcher Inn

Warren, Vermont

C ONDE N AST G OLD L IST 2008-2013


Located in the heart of a Vermont village, the Inn has eleven imaginative and whimsical rooms and suites and a celebrated restaurant, tavern and wine cellar. 802-496-6350

season's harvest:

Minutina Salad with Vegetable Confetti & Coriander Vinaigrette Recipe by Judy Rodgers Makes 4 servings 4 to 5 oz. minutina A few coriander seeds About Ÿ cup extra-virgin olive oil About 1 tbsp. Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar Salt A fat 2-inch chunk of carrot, peeled (about 2 oz.) ½ small celery root, peeled (about 2 oz.) ½ fennel bulb, trimmed (about 3 oz.) 4 small radishes 1. Carefully wash and drain the minutina, then spin-dry in small batches. You may want to spin each batch with a dry paper towel, and then layer the clean leaves with fresh, dry towels. Handle very gently. 2. Warm the coriander seeds briefly in a small pan over medium heat to heighten their flavor. Crush lightly in a mortar. Combine the oil, vinegar, coriander, and salt to taste. I find minutina tastes best with the vinaigrette is slightly high-acid and a little salty. Taste a few blades dipped in the dressing to check. 3. Use a mandoline to slice the carrot and celery root lengthwise as thin as possible. Stack a few slices at a time and cut them, again lengthwise, into little strings. Line up the celery root strings and cut into tiny dice. Place the carrot strings and celery root specks in a wide salad bowl. 4. Using the mandoline, shave the fennel into thin sickles, and the radish into coins, over the carrot and the celery root. Toss with the vinaigrette to coat well. Add the minutina, then drizzle with more vinaigrette. Toss gently. The tender leaves will mat if overdressed or overhandled. Taste. Fluff the salad as you serve it promptly on cold plates. Copyright 2002 Judy Rodgers. Reprinted from "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook" by permission of W. W. Norton & Company.

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season's harvest:

Minutina Salad with Bonito Flakes Inspired by a recipe by Mark Ladner Mark Ladner, Executive Chef at New York City's Del Posto Restaurant, prepares a simple salad of minutina with lemon and bottarga, which is a salted and dried fish roe that is a classic Italian ingredient. To put a twist on Ladner’s tasty dish, we whisked up a rice vinegar dressing and substituted the bottarga for Japanese bonito flakes. The bonito flakes add a perfect smoky counterbalance to the acid of the dressing and the minerality of the minutina. Makes 4 servings 6 oz. minutina ¼ cup canola or other neutral oil 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar Juice from ½ lime ½ tsp. soy sauce ½ tsp. toasted sesame oil Bonito flakes 1. Wash and drain the minutina, then spin-dry in small batches. Give the minutina a rough chop and add to a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lime juice, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Spoon half of the dressing over the greens and toss gently to combine. Add more dressing if necessary. Divide the dressed greens between four plates and garnish each with a generous pinch of bonito flakes.

winter 2013 - 2014 |

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butcher's block:


Caul fat is your neighborhood butcher’s secret ingredient. A lacy membrane made up of collagen and fat that is taken from around an animal’s stomach, liver, or other internal organs, it is traditionally used to line terrines or wrap ballotines (deboned and stuffed poultry legs) and crepinettes (small, fresh sausage patties). Caul fat can be used wherever a little extra fat is needed. Often wrapped around lean fish or meats like venison, caul fat renders away during cooking leaving the underlying protein flavorful, moist, and perfectly caramelized. Think of using it like a sausage casing, except that diners won’t even know it was there. Caul fat can be purchased from most quality nose-to-tail butchers. Pork is our favorite form to use and is, thankfully, the most common. One pound of caul fat will make about 4 to 5 pounds of crepinettes. If you buy too much, it freezes easily and, if vacuum sealed, will last for months in the freezer. Just allow it to defrost in the refrigerator and then rinse in cool water before using. Kevin Ouzts (pronounced “oots”) is the owner of The Spotted Trotter, a boutique charcuterie shop in Altanta, Georgia. After stints working at Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch Public House, it was in Napa, at Tyler Boetticher’s Fatted Calf, where Kevin first became enthusiastic about prepping, curing, and preserving meats. He sells a wide range of Southern influenced house made products at The Spotted Trotter -- from a black pepper and sorghum bacon to a chicken liver pâté with Arkansas Black apple and ginger aspic. The crepinettes were the thing that really caught our eye the first time we visited, however. Even in today’s progressive farm-to-table culinary scene, there aren’t that many retail butchers offering up crepinettes to customers. It’s just easier for the small butcher in terms of time and labor to produce large batches of cased sausage. Kevin’s flavors run from the traditional (pork with winter greens and duck with wild mushroom) to the original (lamb with Asian spices and spicy pork with salt roasted peaches). Our favorite, and the favorite of just about everybody who shops at the store, are the crepinettes made with rabbit, pork belly, and Madeira soaked figs. Our thanks to Kevin for sharing the recipe.

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Rabbit, Pork Belly & Fig Crepinettes Adapted from a recipe by Kevin Ouzts Makes approximately 3 lbs. 10 oz. pork belly 2 lbs. rabbit 1 tsp. toasted whole black pepper 1 bay leaf ¾ tsp. dried thyme ¾ tsp. crushed red pepper 1 ½ pieces of whole allspice ½ tsp. yellow mustard seeds ¾ tsp. Espelette pepper 1 tbsp. fine sea salt ½ cup caramelized onions, diced ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped 3 oz. dried figs, plumped in Madeira wine then chopped 1 lb. caul fat Special tools: Meat grinder 1. Remove any tendons or skin from the pork belly and rabbit meat, then cut the meat into uniform 1-inch cubes. 2. Add the black pepper, bay leaf, thyme, crushed red pepper, allspice, mustard seeds, and Espelette pepper to a spice grinder. Grind until fine. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in the salt. In a large mixing bowl, coat the cubed meat with the spice mixture and mix well, with your hand, to coat the meat evenly with the spices. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours. 3. When ready to make the sausage, mix to-

Photos on this page and previous spread by: Meghan Splawn of Stir & Scribble

gether the caramelized onions, hazelnuts and figs and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. Place the metal grinder parts in the freezer for 15 minutes before grinding your meat. Using the medium sized plate, grind according to the manufacturer’s instructions, making sure to keep the meat cold throughout the process. In a large bowl, combine the onion-fig mixture with the ground meat and mix by hand for about 2 minutes until well combined. Pinch off a small sample of the sausage and place the bowl with the rest of the meat in the refrigerator. 4. Cook up the small sample of sausage in a frying pan. Taste for seasoning and adjust the spicing in the raw sausage mixture if necessary. Rinse the caul fat in a bowl of cold water to remove any remaining blood. Drain out the used water and refill with fresh, clean water. Leave the caul fat submerged until ready to use. 5. Using a scale if available, divide the sausage mixture into 5 oz. portions. Working one at a time, shape the portions by hand into small patties, making sure there are no cracks in the edges. Pull a piece of caul fat from the water and squeeze out the excess water. Lay the caul fat out flat on your work surface. Place the sausage patty on the caul fat and cut out a circle of fat around the sausage such that you can wrap the entire patty in a single layer of caul fat. Trim away and reserve any excess caul fat. 6. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350°F. Sear crepinettes in a cast iron skillet on low heat until both sides are golden brown. Finish in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until firm to the touch. Serve immediately.


socializing. @spensermag

story by Cyndi Flores • photography by Jessie Kriech-Higdon & Chris Higdon

Opposite Page: (Top left photo) Ryan Burk, head cider maker at Virtue Cider.

Revival, renaissance, revolution, or recovery, cider has risen from the ashes of obscurity over the past several decades, albeit ever so slowly. While the cause of cider’s near demise is as distinct as each cider, by country, region, terroir, and technique, there are a few common themes. Throughout Europe, World War II devastated orchards. In America, temperance and prohibition encouraged the removal of cider apples to be replaced with eating apples. And as mass exodus occurred from rural areas to cities, whether out of preference or availability, beer or wine quickly dominated as the cultural and economic norm. As cider made its come back, it emerged in two distinct categories – first, the road was paved by mass produced, singular tasting alternatives to beer. ‘Six pack’ or commercial cider is usually produced in volume from concentrate, sugar, and added flavoring. Commercial cider producers worldwide source and ship concentrate from world apple markets adding water or apple juice nearer to distribution outlets. Trailing behind, often in long shadow, was artisan or farmhouse cider. In time, these ciders made their way to pubs and even, particularly in the case of European ciders, to fine restaurants as part of a sommelier’s insightful offering. However, they remain, for the most part, available only in small quantity and limited distribution. Virtue Cider may be positioning itself to claim the middle ground – doing for cider what its founder, Gregory Hall, once did for craft beer. Hall, the

son of the founder of Goose Island Beer Company, John Hall, and the former brewmaster there, is an acknowledged leader in the promotion of craft beer to mainstream markets while retaining the philosophies and practices essential to craft brewing. He brings this dedication and vision to Virtue, along with a few former Goose Island mates. Artisanal cider is largely a matter of apples, pressing, and yeast. By sourcing locally, essentially within one county in Michigan, Virtue head cidermaker Ryan Burk is confident of the terroir, and the apple varietals it supports. Explaining the desire for specific qualities, Burk’s eyes sparkle with enthusiasm and humor as he talks about cidermaking. “We are like wine makers looking for a balance of tannin and acid and we are also looking for aroma,” Burk says. “ We love the McIntosh apple for aroma. We love the Northern Spy Apple.” “Beyond that we are looking for apples with a lot of tannin,” he continues. “Those are the apples that got torn out of the ground during the temperance movement. No one was eating those apples, everyone was crushing them and drinking them. We are looking to bring that growth back.” Hall builds on that theme when talking about Virtue’s commitment to local farmers. “Virtue,” he says, “celebrates the farmers and the diversity of the apples." Citing the Cox’s Orange Pippin and Arkansas Black and other varietals available now in only small quantities, he continues, “A lot of these guys are growing fruit that there isn't much of a market for any more. They could have taken them out, but they didn't.”

At most there are a dozen apple varieties in the average grocery store, and maybe another dozen seen occassionally in specialty stores or the farmer’s market. There are, however, over 20,000 named apple varieties, and many more whose names have been lost or were never properly christened. Some of these apples are great eating apples, but often they are cider apples or used for livestock feed. When found at rural fruit stands or farmer’s markets they are often called “oddball” fruit. These “oddballs” are seldom red, often misshaped, and occasionally smell more of earth than apple.

unmarketable fruit at the end of season, and Burk talks about it a little like manna from heaven – perfect cider apples, oddball though they may be.

Relationships with local orchardists and farmers are quickly growing as word spreads about Virtue across the western part of Michigan. Continuing his neighborly embrace of the local farmer, Burk tells a story about a man who drove up one day, late in the season. He had read about Virtue in a recent issue of a Michigan magazine, and perhaps he was coming back from his last attempt at selling “oddball” fruit at one of the farmers markets in Chicago or Grand Rapids. Or perhaps he just took a chance. In any case, his truck was piled high with

“It will be a collaboration between Virtue Cider and a specific farmer, so that farmer's name will be on our label,” he explains. “The farmer is the rock star here.”

Virtue is serious about its mission, and this lucky delivery fit right in. “The apples are what is most important,” Burk says. “But for us that includes the footprint, the family farm, and what we can do to elevate the family farm.” As evidence of that commitment Burk tips his hand on an upcoming plan for estate ciders.

The first limited batch is scheduled to release in December, from Nicols Farm where they source the Cox’s Orange Pippin that Hall adores. Other farms, six to eight in total, will be featured through the coming year, spotlighting the range in diversity from farm to farm and celebrating the farmer.

Frank Browning, in his book "Apples," acknowledges Etienne Dupont as the leader in Normandy responsible for forging appellation contrôlée (AOC) for cidre du Pays d’Auge, providing the standard for cider similar to that afforded to wine and champagne. In doing so, Dupont may have saved tradition – particularly Normandy cider and Calvados. In the two decades since blazing that trail, Etienne and now his son Jerome have distinguished Domaine Dupont as a world leader in cider innovation and a major exporter, combining tradition with botany and other scientific processes. Already a trendsetter in the world of craft beer, after the sale of Goose Island, Hall traveled England, France, and Spain to learn about the European farmhouse cider legacy and apples. While there he did an apprenticeship at Domaine Dupont, which he credits for providing an essential undersanding of apples. Hall begins, “I learned from them that there is no one apple that makes a good cider. You are looking for different components from the juice… aroma, tannin, acidity, body, and those don’t come from the same apple.”

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(Clockwise from top left, across both pages) Crushed apples are pumped into a small press, which is squeezed like an accordian to extract the juice; Cider maker Ryan Burk working the press; Glasses of Virtue Cider on a snowy day.

(This page) Jimmy Farrell, the Farm Manager at Virtue Cider, tasting apples that have just been delivered.

Finding the right blend of apples is only the beginning of the process. Craft cider production requires a great degree of flexibility and finesse. As Hall notes, making cider with apples is a lot different than making beer with malt and hops, in that the apples from farm to farm and from season to season vary considerably. “So you kind of have to let the apples go the way they want to go, and then every single time we do a finished cider we taste the blend and then we blend to taste,” Hall explains. “We really produce component ciders from apples and then blend those to get a finished product. We may do things a little differently, but lot of the focus is coming out of the European farmhouse cider tradition.” Following the European farmhouse cider traditions also means utilizing the barrel, and Hall is continuing that practice at Virtue. “[The barrel] is thought to be more of a specialty thing in the U.S.,” Hall says, “but every cider we make, except for one, is barrel aged, either in French Oak, or American Oak, or bourbon barrels.” At Virtue’s cider house Burk provides the visual to accompany Hall’s lesson on mixing farmhouse tradition and modernization. “We are always blending,” Burk says. “We are blending apples up front, looking for acid and tannin and body and aroma.

So we look for those apples and we blend to spec. Pretty much all of our cider sees some barrel. The entire cider may not be barrel aged but a component of it will, so there is always a blending going on.” The blend depends on the cider they are producing, of course, with good representation from masters and traditions from England, France, and Spain. There is also the selection of yeast, the barrel wood, as well as time in barrel, resulting in numerous possibilities. As to cider from a single apple, “It wouldn’t be such fun if it was easy,” quips Burk. But Virtue’s love and hope and faith doesn’t end with the farmer, the apple, or even the company itself. Burk speaks about the future of western Michigan as if the road has already been paved. “We are thinking about growth,” Burk says. “Greg loves to say that we can turn this into the Napa Valley of cider, and I think that's realistic. One of the reasons we chose this particular site, we are kind of in that ‘alchotourism’ belt. A lot of people come here for craft beer, for wine, and now for cider.” Parallels with Napa already drawn, Hall believes western Michigan can compete with the best. “So the apples,” Hall jokes, ”if we were walking around speaking French, they

would think they were in Normandy. They get about the same amount of rain, a little more sunlight, and they thrive. We think the Michigan apples are the best in the U.S. and we are really proud to be supporting local farmers and hopefully keeping them growing apples for another generation or two.” Virtue is only in its second year on site yet it is already expanding. In 2012, there was one building and a handful of stainless steel storage tanks. Now there are two buildings and plans for even larger tanks. Outside some 400 trees were planted on 48 acres, and there are plans to add another 1000 trees in 2014. But Burk is clear that it is not the intent to grow all their own apples. “We are going to grow some specialty fruit,” he says, “but why would we come into a place like this where there are fourth and fifth generation family farms growing apples with that kind of experience, with that kind of heritage behind it, and not source our apples. Why would we come in and do that?” Instead they will champion the local farmers and work collaboratively with them to not only preserve but strengthen the entire region. We think that business philosophy is truly virtuous.

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story & photography by Heidi Murphy


o get to the Vergennes Laundry this time of year, you’ll have to traverse wintery mountain roads lined with snow capped trees, shimmering white in the filtered light. You will arrive at your destination on the western edge of Vergennes, an old quarry town on Otter Creek in Vermont’s Champlain Valley. Your hungry eyes will seek out the hand painted “wood-fired bakery” sign marking the entrance. Two large steam-filled windows frame the door to this seemingly simple bakery and a warm light emanating from inside draws you in. You open the door to an aroma of coffee and buttery things; the sounds of clinking cups and faint conversations. A lovely and thick French accent waxing lyrical about canelés and pain au chocolat trails from behind the bar. Vergennes Laundry is a classic French bakery and the conception of Frenchman Didier Murat and his American wife Julianne Jones. Murat is the candy maker, jack-of-all-trades, and general raconteur, while it is Jones who is the baker and chef extraordinaire. Together, they built most of the space by hand, including pouring the concrete floors. The project was funded, in part, by a successful community driven Kickstarter effort. Investors were paid, of course, in pastry. Like all good things, good bread takes time – rich dark and crusty with a soft and steaming center – Jones begins the process at 4 a.m. with the levain. She works for hours, standing in a puddle of flour and working the dough in a linen apron made by her mother. The kitchen fills with racks upon racks of loaves rising in baker’s couche, a flax linen proofing cloth that gives the crust a crunchy and chewy texture. Starting before dawn, the loaves reach completion in the wood fired oven by day’s end, just in time for customers to take one home for dinner.

Once the city’s laundromat, the soaring ceilings of the bakery are clad in their original tin and crown moldings. Walls lined with white-beaded board bring the eyes down to a modern, minimalist décor featuring metal countertops, light colored wooden eating surfaces, two sheepskin covered chairs, and that beautifully stained cement floor. In a nod to the rugged and chilly landscape that waits just beyond the edge of town, the airy space is overseen by a handsome antique caribou mounted on the wall; its antlers seasonally adorned in lights. As the clock ticks towards noon on any given winter’s day, you can watch the amazing synergy and natural rhythm between Jones and Murat. Working with minimal staff, there is the time-sensitive balance as they greet their customers, serve food and drink, and maintain watch over the wood-fired oven. As a line forms for lunch, the quiet calm continues as each lunch is plated with as much care as the one previous. In addition to a case full of classic confections, Jones prepares a daily and seasonally limited menu of lunch offerings from soup to oysters on the half shell to classic French sandwiches, all served with bread baked daily at the Laundry. And there is plenty of French wine, of course. Whether for the bread, the pastry, or the relaxing space, Vergennes Laundry’s reputation reaches far beyond the locals. On this day, a couple had traveled from Glens Falls, N.Y. with friends to toast to one of their birthdays over a lunch of white root soup and jambon beurre. The meal was served on beautiful walnut boards made by Murat and diners were provided handmade linen napkins sewn by Jones’ mother. Such is the way of life in small town Vermont. What follows is a series of photographs, a visual essay, shot in a single day by Heidi Murphy on a recent visit to the Vergennes Laundry. It was the bakery’s 3rd anniversary, and it was time to celebrate.

Julianne Jones, co-owner and baker at the Vergennes Laundry, prepares baguettes.

Opposite Page: (Top left photo) Co-owner and jack-of-all trades, Didier Murat.

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Celeriac Soup Adapted from a recipe by Julianne Jones This is a versatile winter soup that gives the appearance of being rich without the addition or any cream or butter. Depending on availability, Jones also substitutes other white roots for the celeriac. At the Vergennes Laundry, she will often use a combo of celeriac, Gilfeather turnip, sunchoke, and a little parsnip. To do so, prep the different roots so that end volume is similar to that of 2 large celeriac bulbs. Serves 6-8 2 tbsp. olive oil Kosher salt 1 cup shallots, finely minced 1 tsp. dried tarragon 1 tsp. dried thyme

2 large celeriac bulbs, peeled and small diced 2 stalks celery, chopped Vegetable stock 1 lemon Freshly ground black pepper 1 small pink grapefruit, flesh cut into supremes (see note) 1. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, cook shallots with a few pinches of salt in olive oil until softened, but without color. Add the herbs to the shallots and cook for another minute. Add celeriac and celery to the shallots, stir, and then add the vegetable stock. You want to add enough liquid to cover the celeriac plus another inch or so. 2. Bring the stock to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and let simmer on medium heat until the celeriac is soft. It should mash

easily when pushed against the side of the pot. Carefully purĂŠe the hot soup in a blender, holding a kitchen towel over the small opening in the blender top. If necessary, while purĂŠeing, thin to desired thickness by adding additional liquid (veg. stock or water). Add a squeeze or two of lemon juice and a few grinds of black pepper to taste. Serve and garnish with another grind of black pepper and supremes of grapefruit. Note: To cut supremes from a grapefruit, cut off the top and bottom from the grapefruit and trim away the peel so that none of the white pith remains. Using a paring knife, cut down in between the thin white membranes to remove the individual grapefruit segments.

story by Brendan Lynch • photography by Mikka Tokuda-Hall

(From top) A market vendor in the ancient city of Bagan weighs out fresh produce; Chiles and shallots are staples of Burmese cooking. Opposite Page: Young monks from the Mahagandayon Monastery in the northern city of Mandalay on their way to a meal.

In any busy Burmese city an everyman sits alone near a roadside vendor mixing and mixing. Fried chickpeas, shallots, coriander and duck eggs are mixed into a bowl filled with fish broth and vermicelli noodles and then mixed some more. Eaten alone – with a seriousness of purpose – this scene repeats itself over and over across a country shrouded in mystique. Mohinga is the national dish of Burma; a dish like no other in a land like no other. Burma is a country of rice and rivers and, at times, repression. Mohinga, with its fish and rice vermicelli and flash of freedom, is its natural response. Modern Burmese history arguably begins in 1824 with the beginning of the British colonialism of Burma, also known as Myanmar. As with other countries subsumed by colonial expansion, the occupiers transplanted external cultures. In Burma’s case, colonialism brought an influx from British India. A topical survey of Burmese cuisine instantly shows the power of the Indian influence: curries, samosas, paneer, and turmeric are found throughout the country. Likewise, sharing borders with China, Laos, and Thailand, the culinary influences are manifold. Ingredients from the Chinese larder, like soy sauce and tofu, abound. Aromatics, traditionally associated with Thai cooking – bird’s eye chiles, lemongrass, ginger, and galangal – are equally essential to the Burmese kitchen. Compounding the complexity, Burma has over 130 distinct ethnic groups with as many as 100 different languages spoken. Burma is a cultural convergence and by extension a culinary kaleidoscope. Influences, like those from India, China, and Thailand, are central to the Western understanding of cuisine. Lineages, who staged with whom and where, are as obsessed over as intensely as

thoroughbred horse pedigree on Kentucky Derby day. Entire categories of food, say BBQ, are fretted over and broken into near academic taxonomies. The way we, as Westerners, identify with food provides little help in understanding mohinga. If we, as discerning eaters, seek reference to understand then mohinga poses a serious problem: it is sui generis. Mohinga is Burmese, simple as that. In this culinary melting pot of a country, mohinga stands untouched by the outside world. Until only very recently Burmese cuisine was the sole provance of the Burmese. By 1948, Burma would begin a path towards self-determination that would transform the colony into one of the most insular nations on earth. Burma’s recent postcolonial history is defined by totalitarian rule followed by an astonishingly abrupt reform engendered by elections in 2010. Years of self-imposed isolation were replaced by openness seemingly overnight. Badly battered by World War II, Burma redefined itself and turned inward. Burma was a country run by a military dictatorship with an external policy of neutrality and no external outlet for citizens. The lack of freedoms and the government’s strict control over all aspects of daily life led most Burmese to find opportunities for expression, discourse, and creativity behind closed doors. For friends and family, the dining room and kitchen table became safe havens and food a catalyst. After decades of repression, the sudden openness is alluring. Burma is, and will continue to be, shrouded in mystique.

By dint of that historical tenor alone the cuisine is exciting. Newly opened borders present a culinary Atlantis; an edible anthropology. For the first time in decades Westerners are now free to travel there to discover this rich culinary heritage. Present day Burma remains largely an agrarian country of rivers and rice paddies from which mohinga draws its most basic ingredients. It is hearty fare for hard work and a fitting national dish. While the essence of Burmese cuisine is elusive, none question the ubiquity and popularity of mohinga. Fittingly, it lacks a Western analogue. In its most basic form, mohinga is a fish broth thickened with rice flour or chickpea flour and served over vermicelli noodles. Somewhere between soup and stew, mohinga’s bold flavors are limned with shrimp paste, chilies, fish sauce, banana stem, and turmeric. Cookbook author Naomi Duguid has done more to expose the complexity of Burmese cuisine than any other Western writer. Her recently published, “Burma: Rivers of Flavor” is a pioneering travelogue that opens this closed country to the American home cook. In researching the book, Duguid traveled throughout Burma and found that mohinga, like Burma itself, is marked by distinct regional differences. These variations on the basic mohinga recipe are endless. One’s preference for a particular style of mohinga can be an identifiable reference point of one’s home state. Regional versions of mohinga have the nuance, distinction, and textures

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The interior of one of the many brick temples that dot the landscape in and around the city of Bagan.

(Clockwise from top left, across both pages) Insense burns at a temple in Rangoon; Dried red chiles for sale; A street market in Rangoon; Heirloom tomatoes in Rangoon; A monk on the 1200 meter teak U Bein Bridge, which crosses Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura.

of a dialect. The subtle differences speak to a culinary home region and the preference for Burmese is always for the mohinga from home. “The regional attachment to a type of mohinga is emotional,” Duguid says. “It’s similar to regional affinities for olive oils. Burma has clearly defined culinary borders, with no sense of bringing back or reabsorption.” According to Duguid, in the southern arm of the country, sandwiched between the Andaman Sea and Thailand, mohinga is loaded with fish, galangal, and ginger. Mohinga in Rangoon and other parts of Central Burma, comes with a clear broth, only a little fish, and pieces of banana stem. Out west, in Rakhine state, hot chiles and pungent chile paste amps up the heat and the fish is flaked, then fried up in turmeric-flavored oil before being added back to the bowl. Always there are toppings; little bowls of crisped fried chickpeas or chickpea flour, fried shallots or shallot oil, fresh coriander, hard-boiled duck eggs or chile paste, so prevalent in Burmese cuisine. The Burmese long-suffering under dictatorship are, as Duguid says, “freer at the table.” Even simple toppings can provide a brief “sense of playfulness” in how one’s mohinga may be composed. ”There is a sense of individuality at the Burmese table,” she says “which is very different from the European way of eating where the diner is left in the hands of the cook.” Mohinga is unquestionably a one-dish meal borne of poverty; a food to feed. The toppings are a flourish, a trompe l’oeil that, according to Duguid, “takes the mind away from what is not there.” Also important, in this country of top down rigidity and conformity, is the fact that the choices, the accompaniments historically provided a “distraction of freedom.” Each bowl of mohinga is individualized; it is one’s own, which is something that cannot be taken away. As Duguid explains, the mixing of toppings into mohinga is a near “automatic” response, “very deliberate” and uniquely Burmese. “The soup is mixed religiously,” she says. The uniqueness of mohinga continues not just in its composition, but also its consumption. Unlike our Western experience with a similar dish, the Vietnamese noodle soup, pho, mohinga is typically eaten alone. It is certainly not a form of entertainment. “The focus is on the bowl,” says Duguid. “Mohinga is not a conversation food. Each mouthful has the entirety.” Ultimately, most mohinga is eaten just steps away from the street vendor who sells it and there is a definitive sense of being in the moment. The vendor, the passersby, the activity on the street is present, but the focus is on the bowl. On a busy Burmese street, in a conflicted country, an everyman can make a bowl of mohinga his own.

The local fishermen on the freshwater Inle Lake in central Burma are known for their distinctive rowing style, which involves standing on one leg at the stern of the boat and wrapping the other leg around the oar.

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West Coast Mohinga Recipe by Naomi Duguid Serves 6 Fish One 1 ¾- to 2-pound whole fish such as carp, ocean trout, or snapper, cleaned and scaled Broth 5 cups water ½ tsp. shrimp paste About 2 tbsp. coarsely chopped galangal 2 tbsp. coarsely chopped garlic Tamarind Liquid 1 heaping tbsp. tamarind pulp, cut into chunks ½ cup hot water Red Chile Paste Generous ¼ cup dried red chiles ¼ cup hot water ¹⁄8 tsp. salt 1 tbsp. peanut oil 2 tbsp. peanut oil ¼ tsp. turmeric 5 inches banana stem, peeled, sliced, soaked in cold water for an hour, and drained (optional) 2 tsp. fish sauce 2 ½ to 3 pounds fresh rice vermicelli or thin rice noodles (flat or round) or 1 ½ pounds dried rice vermicelli or narrow dried rice noodles Other Accompaniments and Flavorings About 2 tbsp. Shallot Oil (see recipe on our blog) About 3 tbsp. Toasted Chickpea Flour (see recipe on our blog) About 3 tbsp. fish sauce ½ cup chopped cilantro About ¾ tsp white or freshly ground black pepper Green Chile Paste (see recipe on our blog) 1. Rinse the fish thoroughly; set aside. Pour the water into a wide pot or deep wide skillet and set

over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp paste and stir to dissolve it, then add the galangal and garlic. If the fish is too long to fit comfortably in the pot, cut it crosswise in half (leave the head on; it will add flavor). Slide the fish into the water. Once the water comes to the boil, lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and poach for about 4 minutes. Turn the fish over and poach for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until just cooked through. 2. Use a spider or tongs to lift the fish out of the liquid and onto a platter. (Set the broth aside.) Let cool briefly, then lift the flesh off the bones, remove and discard the skin, and set the flesh aside to cool. Return the bones to the broth. Raise the heat to mediumhigh and simmer vigorously for 10 minutes or so. Strain the broth; discard the solids. Add water to the broth if necessary to bring it up to 4 cups, and set aside. 3. Place the tamarind pulp in a small bowl, add the hot water, and stir and mash with a fork. Set aside to soak for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the chile paste: Break off and discard the chile stems; discard the seeds if you want less heat. Place the chiles in a small pan with the hot water, bring to a boil, and boil for a minute or two, until softened. Transfer to a mortar or a food processor, add the salt, and mash or process to a paste. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chile paste and cook until it sizzles, a minute or two. Transfer to a small condiment bowl; set aside. 4. Mash the soaking tamarind again with a fork or your fingers to get it to dissolve. Place a sieve over a medium bowl and pour in the tamarind mixture; press the mixture against the mesh of the sieve with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids and set

the liquid aside. 5. Pull the fish apart into flakes, discarding any stray bones. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the fish and add it to the broth. Place a heavy medium skillet or a wok over medium heat, add the 2 tbsp. oil, and stir in the turmeric. Add the fish and cook, using a spatula to stir it and separate it further into flakes, until it has dried out a little and has all been exposed to the hot oil. Turn out into a bowl and set aside. 6. About 10 minutes before serving, place the broth back over medium heat, add the soaked banana stem, if using, and the fish sauce, and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, put out six large soup bowls. Pour about 8 cups of water into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the noodles. If using fresh noodles (they’ll be heated and tender after 30 seconds or so), use a spider or tongs to lift them out of the hot water and distribute them among the bowls. If using dried noodles, bring the water back to the boil and cook until tender, 3 or 4 minutes. Drain and distribute among the bowls. 7. Add 1 tsp. or so of the shallot oil to the noodles in each bowl and turn to coat them. Sprinkle about 1 tsp. toasted chickpea flour, ½ tsp. fish sauce, 1 tsp. tamarind liquid, a generous pinch of cilantro, and ¹⁄8 tsp. black pepper over the noodles in each bowl and toss to mix and blend. Sprinkle the flaked fish onto the noodles and toss again. Pour the hot broth into individual small bowls and serve alongside the bowls of noodles. Put out the chile paste(s) and small bowls of the remaining tamarind liquid, chickpea flour, fish sauce, and cilantro, so guests can adjust flavorings as they wish.

Rangoon Mohinga Recipe by Naomi Duguid Mohinga as it’s made and served on the street in Rangoon can be a multilayered, extraordinary dish. The trick is to find a cook who cares a lot— look for a busy stall—and then keep going back to her each day. Here’s one welcoming take on Rangoon-style mohinga. I’ve included banana stem in case you have access to it, but you can make the soup without it. Do make at least one of the fried toppings. Serves 6 Fish One 2- to 2 ½-pound catfish or other freshwater fish such as tilapia or trout, or several smaller fish, cleaned and scaled ½ cup minced shallots 1 tbsp. minced lemongrass Salt 1 to 2 tsp. minced ginger 1 tbsp. minced garlic ¼ cup oil ¼ tsp. turmeric ½ tsp. Red Chile Powder (see recipe on our blog) or cayenne 1 tbsp. fish sauce, or to taste Broth 4 cups water 1 tsp. shrimp paste 1 tsp. turmeric 3 garlic cloves, smashed 3 slices ginger 2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and smashed ¼ cup Toasted Chickpea Flour (see recipe on our blog ) 1 cup water 5 inches banana stem, peeled, soaked in cold water for an hour, sliced, and drained (optional) 10 small whole shallots, or 5 larger ones, cut in half Finely ground black pepper 1 ½ pounds fresh rice vermicelli or rice noodles or 1 pound dried rice noodles 1 to 2 tbsp. Shallot Oil (see recipe on our blog ) Optional Toppings and Condiments Fried Chayote Fingers (see recipe on our blog) Red Chile Powder (see recipe on our blog) 1 cup minced scallion greens 3 hard-boiled hen or duck eggs, cut into wedges or slices 2 limes, cut into wedges ½ cup Fried Shallots (see recipe on our blog) 1 cup chopped cilantro

1. Rinse the fish thoroughly; set aside. Pour the water into a wide pot and add the shrimp paste, turmeric, garlic, ginger, and lemongrass. Add the fish and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Remove the fish and set aside to cool for a moment. Strain the broth into a pot, discarding the solids, and set aside. Pull the cooked fish off the bones, flake, and set aside. Add the bones and skin to the broth and boil for another 10 minutes, then strain and discard the bones and skin. Set the broth aside. 2. If you have a mortar, pound the minced shallots to a paste; set aside. Pound the lemongrass to a coarse paste with a pinch of salt; set aside. Pound the ginger and then the garlic and mix together with the lemongrass. Alternatively, combine the lemongrass, ginger, and garlic in a food processor, add a little salt, and process to a coarse paste. Heat the oil in a wok or heavy skillet over medium heat, add the turmeric, chile powder, and pounded or minced shallots, and cook for several minutes, until the shallots are softened. Add the lemongrass-ginger paste and cook until aromatic, 3 minutes or so, stirring to prevent sticking. Add the reserved fish and the fish sauce and cook for several minutes more to blend flavors. Turn out and set aside. 3. Bring the broth to a boil. Stir the toasted chickpea flour into the cup of water, then stir into the broth. The broth will bubble and foam a little as it thickens. Add the fish mixture and the banana stem, if using, and cook at a low boil for about 10 minutes. Add the whole (or halved) shallots and black pepper and simmer for another 5 minutes or so, until the shallots are cooked. Taste and add fish sauce or salt if needed. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and boil gently until softened, about 1 minute for fresh noodles, 5 minutes for dried. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle on the shallot oil and toss gently to prevent the noodles from sticking together. 4. To serve, put out a platter with the toppings and condiments of your choice. Set out a large bowl for each guest. Place a generous cup of noodles in each bowl, top with some fried shallots, and ladle the soup over, making sure that each serving has some fish and whole shallots in it. Top with the cilantro, and invite your guests to add and all other toppings as they wish. Copyright 2012. Both recipes excerpted from "Burma" by Naomi Duguid. Artisan Books.

winter 2013 - 2014 |

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story by Mike Dundas • photography by Meredith Paige

If you don’t spend time at the local farmers’ markets or you’re just not from around here, you might think that Jessie Griffiths is a wild man, a knife-wielding mountaineer running a boarding house kitchen on the outskirts of some 19th-century mining town in the throes of a mad gold rush. Truth be told, the practical kitchen output of the two Jessie’s, the real one who runs Dai Due, a farmers’ market butcher shop and supper club in Austin, Texas and the hangtown chef who exists only in your mind’s eye, might not be far off from one another.

Taylor Boetticher writes in his new book, "In the Charcuterie," this practice of preservation “is a holistic approach to cooking and eating meat and a rewarding, hands-on way to connect with our food.”

For a chef with a passion for seasonality and locality like Griffiths, focusing on charcuterie is a no brainer. The basic function of the charcutier is to process and preserve meat, to both utilize the entire animal and to extend the life of the edible product and minimize spoilage. As celebrated butcher

“We take a frontier mentality here,” says Griffiths. “We’ll dry chiles and herbs so we can have them throughout the year. If we want to prep our meat with something that’s out of season, we have to figure out how to preserve it.”

Griffiths has been butchering whole animals for about nine years now, first learning while working as a cook in the kitchen at Vespaio, an Austin restaurant with an in-house butcher and salumi program. He honed his craft at Dai Due, in part, out of necessity. Because he is so focused on supporting farmers who raise their animals on pasture Griffiths is a soft spoken, dedicated, and and in a humane manor, he must be able to fiercely devoted evangelist for the Texas respond as a chef to the inconsistencies that larder. He hunts, dresses, and butchers his naturally result from one animal to the next. own wild game. He breaks down whole animals into fresh cuts, bursting sausage, That means rendering out fat into lard and flavorful pâtés, and fragrant cured meats. tallow, grinding scraps into sausages that And he only serves dishes with ingredients range in flavors from beef loukanika to pork that can be sourced locally. If he is only able blood sausage to duck confit boudin, and to sell his ever-popular house-made chorizo cooking up head cheese, pâtés, and terrines. verde for eight weeks each year – four in It also includes scratch-making all of the the spring and four in the fall when garlic, traditional charcuterie accompaniments, poblanos, and fresh cilantro are all available from house-made cornichons, bread and locally at the same time – so be it. He’ll find butter pickles, and chow chow to various something else that is equally delicious to preserves, chutneys, and six different types serve those other 44 weeks. of mustard.

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Across town, Ben Runkle and Bryan Butler, owners of Salt & Time Butcher Shop and Salumeria, take a more Italian approach to the art of preservation. Steering away from the pâtés and terrines of the French charcutier, Salt & Time sells dried salumi and cured whole-muscle meats. The vintage 1950’s Friedrich Floating Air butcher case used at the shop is filled with classic preparations like sopressata, lonza, pancetta, guanciale, culatello, lardo, and mortadella. Runkle’s background and training is in the dry curing of meat. He learned his craft from experts like Boetticher at The Fatted Calf in Napa and David Budworth at Avedano’s Holly Park Market in San Francisco. Butler, on the other hand, came to Salt & Time with more than 15 years of experience working as a fresh meat butcher, the last six of which were running the meat counter at Wheatsville Food Co-op in Austin. The two were introduced at the Blackstar Brewpub, when Ben was dropping off an order of salumi for the kitchen and Butler was there eating a burger.

(Top right) Jessie Griffiths, co-owner of Dai Due Butcher and Supper Club, in his kitchen in Austin, Texas.

(From left, across both pages) A batch of goat salami at Salt & Time in Austin, Texas; The charcuterie plate at Revival Market in Houston, Texas.

“The traditions and the techniques we use are Italian,” says Runkle. “That’s the fermentation, stuffing, drying, and tying. But once you’ve got that under control, making salumi isn’t really any different than other cooking. You can change out the components and get creative with local flavor profiles.” Runkle and Butler draw a great deal of inspiration from the traditions of Texas foodways. Their ever expanding “Salumi de Tejas” selection includes a pecan-studded salami, their version of the spreadable Calabrian salami that they call N’duja Tejano, which is made with local spices, a goat meat salami seasoned with grains of paradise, and a coffee rubbed lomo made with fresh ground beans from Cuvee Coffee in Spicewood, Texas. “Because we share the same latitude with Southern Italy,” Butler says, “we can draw on their traditions, but still make things our own, like our dry-cured Calabrese-style salami, which we make using locally grown chile pequin and wild Mexican oregano.” There is no indication of an immediate limit to the possibilities at Salt and Time. Even just a visit to the local Mexican grocery store shows Runkle and Butler that they have just scratched the surface of the selection of spices and herbs, like achiote and epazote, that are available to them. “The nearby Fiesta Grocery has the most unbelievable selection of fresh herbs of Mexican and South American origin, to the point where I wouldn’t even know where to begin using some of them,” says Runkle. “And their

(Top right) Ben Runkle, co-owner of Salt & Time, slices the shop's popular coffee lomo for a customer. Opposite Page: (Top right) Brian Butler, co-owner of Salt & Time, works in the background.

chiles, an infinite variety of chiles with a deep history in the Southwest. We would love do a series of dried salami with guajillos and anchos and cascabels.”

acres of land. It is here, at what is now called Revival Farms, where many of the animals sold at the Revival Market are raised.

About 160 miles to the east, in The Heights neighborhood of Houston, sits Revival Market, the most renowned butcher and charcuterie shop in Texas. Founded in 2011 by owners Morgan Weber and Ryan Pera, Revival Market offers fresh meat sourced from local farmers and ranchers as well as a wide array of prepared charcuterie and housemade staples like vinegar, pickles, and jams.

“Ryan [Pera] and I met when I was delivering pigs from our farm to a number of restaurants in Houston,” says Weber. “These places were just getting into curing. It was great because I would deliver the pigs and then, three or four months later, I would get to taste the cool stuff that everybody was doing and I always liked Ryan’s product the best.”

What makes the Revival Market meat program so special is the fact that it is one of, if not, the only retail store in the country that raises heritage breeds of pork, lamb, beef, and chicken on their own farm specifically for curing in their retail shop. Weber was raised near Yoakum, Texas, a small town midway between Houston and Corpus Christi, about an hour’s drive inland from the Gulf of Mexico, where his grandparents traded Brahma cattle on about 1000

These occasional meetings between Weber, the rancher, and Pera, the chef, ultimately led to a friendship and to Revival Market. By controlling the process from ranchland to curing room, Weber and Pera are able to raise the exact breed of animal in the exact way that works best for producing the best version of any particular type of cured meat. “We’ve been able to see what a Mangalitsa-Red Wattle will taste like cured as a coppa, versus a Berkshire-Red

Wattle, versus a Berkshire-Mangalitsa, what the feed is, how old it is before it is slaughtered,” says Pera. “And we can see the coppa for those six animals, for those four different feeds, and for those various ages, all those various permutations and pick the one that works best.” “A lot of folks think a pig is a pig is a pig but that’s not true at all,” Weber adds. “We’ll do some experiments and they aren’t all great. A Red WattleMangalitsa cross tastes great as fresh meat, but we found that it’s too fatty for curing. We’ve now moved into a specific line of Berkshires. It has taken us four or five years to work through the process to get the feed exactly where we want it to produce the best meat for curing.” As a trade, butchers are never folks to shy away from alcohol, whether using it in cooking or just to have a drink. For Weber, Pera, and their head butcher Andrew Vaserfirer, late night cocktails with friends can often lead to creative results in the butcher case. One special edition dried salami saw the successful

(From top left across both pages) A culatello hangs in the curing room at Revival Market; Ryan Pera; Morgan Webber; Revival Market's juniper scented bresaola, made from the heavily marbled goose neck round of beef.

The colorful seeds of the sorghum plant.

addition of St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur, to the mix. Another experimental recipe is referred to casually as the “smoked Negroni salami” and is made with Campari, juniper, and grapefruit zest. All told, Vaserfirer stocks the Revival Market butcher case with about 30 charcuterie items at any given time, including six or eight types of salami, another eight to ten whole cured muscles, like coppa, pancetta, tasso ham, guanciale, lardo, lomo, and speck, as well as a few different terrines and rillettes, plus seven or eight fresh sausages. Weber and Pera give him wide latitude to experiment with new cuts, techniques, and flavors, the trial and error of which resulted in a few recent successes like Revival’s incredibly well marbled juniperflavored bresaola made from the lesser utilized gooseneck round and a red Hatch chile spreadable nduja. It's clear that the best is still yet to come. Weber, Pera, Vaserfirer, Runkle, Butler, and Griffiths are just stretching their legs when it comes to curing (the oldest business of the bunch is still less than 5 years old). To the benefit of the local consumer, all involved graciously support one another’s efforts to push the boundaries of what is possible when it comes to the preservation of meat. Whether it’s bouncing ideas off one another at a Texas Foodways panel discussion or offering an introduction to a local farmer or rancher, they act more like a guild than competitors. Let's call it The Texas Preservation Society. “I actually met Jessie [Griffiths] on my last day working at Fatted Calf in Napa right before I moved to Texas,” says Runkle. “He was out in the Bay Area on vacation and we both realized we wanted to start our own curing operations in Austin. He was so supportive that he introduced me to his suppliers and never looked back.” This past summer, Weber and Griffiths took a hunting and fishing trip together to Montana with their mutual friend Jody Horton, a Texas Monthly photographer who also shot the photos for Griffiths’ new cookbook, "Afield: A Chef’s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish." One can only imagine what new ideas were cooked up around the campfire. Patience, we’ll have to wait for those ideas to cure.

Wild Boar Rillettes Recipe by Jessie Griffiths Rillettes are a spreadable, rich, and fatty preparation, usually made from pork or waterfowl. If you get a nice, fat feral hog, this easy and delicious recipe is perfect. Cook in a low oven overnight and wake up to the smell of roasting pork. Serve rillettes cold or at room temperature, with mustard and pickles to cut the fat, and with great bread, toasted. Serves 8 2 lbs. fatty pork shoulder or trim ½ oz. kosher salt 1 tsp. Pâté Spice (see note below) ¼ cup lard (optional) 1. Preheat oven to 225°F. In a Dutch oven or ovenproof pot, combine the pork, salt, Pâté Spice, and enough water to cover three-quarters of the meat. Cook, covered, in the oven for 8 hours or overnight. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Shred the meat with a wooden spoon, mashing it up well and stirring to combine with any liquid in the pot. 2. Pack the mixture into a glass or ceramic jar(s) and refrigerate for up to 7 days. If you want to store the rillettes for a couple of weeks, melt the lard and pour it over the cooled rillettes in the jar(s), making sure to cover them completely. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. To serve, scrape away the fat and spread the rillettes on toast. Note: Pâté Spice is made by combining 2 parts ground ginger, 2 parts ground cinnamon, 1 part ground nutmeg, 1 part ground coriander, 1 part ground cloves, and 1 part ground white pepper. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Salted Wild Boar Belly Recipe by Jessie Griffiths Choose a fatty belly from a larger hog for this salt pork recipe. Once cured the belly will keep refrigerated for a week or can be frozen. I like to cut the cured belly into half pound pieces and freeze them for quick thawing. Use cubes of the cured belly to season rice, beans, vinaigrettes, soups, and stews. Makes about 5 lbs. 1 large feral hog belly (or traditional pork belly), about 5 lbs, trimmed to an even thickness 4 oz. kosher salt 2 tsp. whole pink peppercorns, crushed 2 tsp. whole white peppercorns, crushed 2 tsp. whole black peppercorns, crushed 1 tsp. dried marjoram 1 tsp. dried thyme 4 bay leaves 1. IIn a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except for the belly. Coat the belly evenly with the cure, place in a ceramic or glass dish, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Cure in the refrigerator for 7 days, turning the belly every 2 days. 2. Cut the belly into portions; wrap and refrigerate for up to 7 days or freeze for up to 6 months. To cook, panfry the belly in a little oil over medium-low heat. Recipes from “Afield: A Chef's Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish” by Jesse Griffiths. Welcome Books. Text © 2012 Jesse Griffiths. Photographs on these two pages © 2012 Jody Horton.

b.y.o.b. - The Vanilla Bean Blog Sarah Kieffer is the author and photographer of The Vanilla Bean Blog, a beautiful bakingfocused food blog that captures cherished memories and moments that originate in her family’s kitchen. While Sarah considers the blog to be a “baker’s soliloquy” you can rest assured that she isn’t shouting into the wind. Focused on finding her own culinary heritage, a foundation upon which her family can build a catalog of recipes to be passed down through generations, Sarah has built a strong following by teaching each of us about the importance of food and family tradition. What follows is an excerpt of our recent conversation.

SPENSER MAGAZINE: You write in your bio that you started The Vanilla Bean to begin the process of building a family recipe book because you really had no treasured recipes from generations past. What has been the most challenging aspect of this undertaking? SARAH KIEFFER: I’ve always loved to bake, but my mom never really loved cooking so I didn’t learn how to cook as a kid. All throughout college, I worked at coffee shops so I could just eat there and didn’t need to cook a lot then either. So when I got married and had a family, I wanted to learn how to really cook because I care deeply about the food we are eating and serving the kids. It was really stressful at first, but I found 15 recipes that became my own with some tweaking. It took a lot of time to become comfortable in the kitchen and it was certainly a challenge. SM: Is there anything that you would pass on to beginners to make them comfortable in the kitchen, that cooking doesn’t have to be made into that big of a deal? SK: You start out wanting to impress, like how I wanted to cook elaborate meals for my husband right from the beginning, but simple is best. Start out with something that is enjoyable to eat, but is easy to make. And practice basic techniques like chopping an onion correctly. I learned basics by watching Cook's Illustrated videos. If you learn those techniques, you won’t burn the oil or cut your finger while you are trying to chop that onion. That will give you the ability to handle the structure of any recipe and once you have followed and mastered that recipe, then you can branch off and make dishes your own. Also, I have always appreciated structure in my personal life and that is what I found comforting in baking. You have to use this much flour and this many eggs or else the recipe won’t turn out. But as I’ve grown as a person, I’ve realized that rules are great, but you need to figure yourself out because not everything is black and white. I feel like my cooking has similarly evolved and is a reflection of that same feeling. You can be brave and experiment and even if a dish doesn’t turn out great, you can learn from your mistakes.

SM: You mentioned working as a baker in coffee shops in college. Was there something about baking at the coffee shop that you have carried over to the home kitchen? SK: I am always sure to have a stocked pantry. I have a hoard of back up ingredients in the basement, including baking powder, sugar, probably four different kinds of flours, like whole wheat and almond flour, plus fun extras like cocoa nibs, cardamom and vanilla beans. I make sure to have all of my favorite things on hand. And butter, we have way too much butter in the fridge, if that is possible. SM: Tell us a little bit about how you use the different flours? How do you work them into your baking regimen? SK: I really love Kim Boyce’s cookbook “Good to the Grain.” She talks a lot about adding flour for flavor versus just health. When you try to make everything healthy, with just whole-wheat flour, it doesn’t taste as good and it is super dense. You can’t just substitute out the AP flour, so I start with a small amount of a different flour, like ½ cup, to see how its works. Pumpkin tastes great with whole-wheat flour, for example. A lot of flours have a nice nutty flavor that balances things like chocolate or cardamom. SM: You’ve mentioned cardamom a few times so we know it is a favorite for you, but is there anything else, maybe even a splurge ingredient, that you like to bake with? SK: If I am going to bake something I want to use quality butter or cream. Our local co-op sells a couple of great dairy products from Hope Creamery. They have an amazing butter and a really good heavy cream with the cream-top. There is something so creamy and flaky about scones made with their dairy. You should also splurge on good quality flour as it makes a difference. And I love cocoa nibs. They are bitter, so I like to throw them in cookies and granola to balance out and tone the sugar. I just put them in the graham cracker crust of a cheesecake I recently made. They are even good in oatmeal in the morning.

Bittersweet Chocolate Tartlets with Flaky Spelt Crust Recipe by Sarah Kieffer The tart dough is made with a technique called fraisage, and it guarantees a wonderful, flaky crust. You are starting with basic pie dough, but instead of rolling it out you create strands of butter in the dough by smearing the dough with the heel of your hand. This recipe will make 8 tartlets (or one 9-inch tart, if you’d rather). (Ed. note: Sarah’s crust was inspired by “Good to the Grain” by Kim Boyce, her filling by “The Joy of Cooking.”) Makes 8 individual 3” tartlets 1 cup spelt flour 1 ²⁄³ cup all-purpose flour 1 tbsp. granulated sugar ¾ tsp. kosher salt 12 tbsp. cold unsalted butter ½ cup ice water, as needed Egg wash (1 egg + 1 tsp. water + pinch of salt all whisked together) For the filling: 1 cup heavy cream 9 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped 1 large egg 1 vanilla bean, scraped 1 cup crème fraîche for topping 1. Place the flours, sugar, and salt in a large bowl, and whisk together. Cut the butter into one-inch pieces and add to the bowl. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour until it is the size of small peas. Add ¼ cup of the ice water to the flour mixture, and mix together with a spatula just to moisten the flour. The dough needs to come together in one lump, with a few small, shaggy pieces. If the dough is too dry to come together, add ice water 1 tbsp. at a time until it is ready. 2. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gather into a rectangular shaped pile. Working one small piece of

dough at a time, use the heel of your hand to smear the dough against the work surface (this technique is called fraisage). Continue to smear small pieces, until all the dough has been worked. Gather into a pile again, and repeat. Separate the dough into two equal pieces, wrap each piece in plastic and chill for one hour (or up to 3 days). 3. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. After dough has been chilled, roll one round out very thin, to about ¼-inch thick. Use a tart ring to cut out circles in the dough, which will be the bottom of your crust. Place the tart rings (Sarah used rings that were 3” wide by 2” tall) on the lined baking sheet, and place a circle of dough in each ring. Cut additional dough in 1- to 1 ¼-inch strips to line the insides of each tart ring, making sure the sides are pinched together and sealed with the bottom circles of dough. With a fork, prick small holes on the bottom of each crust. Chill the tart rings in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. (Any leftover dough can be frozen for later use.) 4. Line each circle of dough with parchment paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 14-16 minutes, until crust is light golden brown. Remove parchment and beans, and brush each crust with egg wash. Bake for 2-3 more minutes, until wash is set and the crust is a bit deeper brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly while preparing the filling. 5. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, whisking until the chocolate is completely melted and perfectly smooth. Whisk in the egg, vanilla bean seeds and bourbon (if using). Spoon the mixture into the tart shells, almost to the top. Bake until the center seems set but is still quivery [like gelatin], when the pan is nudged, about 12-15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of crème fraîche.

s "Stop, think, there must be a harder way." - Chef Judy Rodgers

spenser magazine: issue nine - winter 2013-2014  

Personalizing food & drink.

spenser magazine: issue nine - winter 2013-2014  

Personalizing food & drink.