Monthly Archives: January 2012

International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Conference Kick-off Party

Last night at Santos Party House, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, or IACP, had its 2012 Conference kick-off party in the host city of New York. This is kind of a big deal in the culinary world, not least because this association is the leading one in the profession but also because the annual meeting hasn’t been held in New York. The buzz is enormous and everyone I’ve spoken with is very excited to show off the delicious bounty to be found in our dynamic city.

IACP President Doug Duda with Martha Holmberg and city chair Judith Klinger

I’d try to encapsulate the amazing array of culinary talent in the room, but it would be difficult to describe it in the space of this post.  Many of my favorite food bloggers and cookbook authors were there.  People from the Culinary Historians of New York were in attendance.  I ran into folks who have been at some of the other conferences I participated in last year, and even spotted a few fellow cookie swappers and Pie Party Live folks.  There were chefs and media folks and others who work in the food arena.  In the broadest sense, this was a community event, with many facets of it coming together in one place.  What better way, then, to start off this conference season than to have some food and drinks with other IACP members, like I did yesterday.

Blackberry Cobbler (with Bulldog Gin)

Other drink sponsors for the event included Voss Water, Brooklyn Brewery, and Brooklyn Oenology.

Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse

A gorgeous display from Driscoll’s Berries

Porchetta, salami, mortadella from Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto

Bread Salad from Jimmy’s No. 43

Pulled Pork Shoulder Crostini – probably my favorite bite of the evening – from Jimmy’s No. 43

Really, this was one of the hits of the night.  It is completely carved out of Jarlsberg Cheese.

Another treat not to miss were these crackers and biscuits made from Jarlsberg, too.

Those last two wonders were brought to you by Eryn and Emily (Nomnivorous), two of the terrific folks who are part of the IACP community.

Here’s the posts from Emily (http://nomnivorous.com/2012/01/12/whole-wheat-cheese-crackers/) and Eryn (http://uglyfoodtastesbetter.com/2012/01/12/house-of-jarlsberg/) with the story of how they made their creations, plus the recipe for those delicious crackers that were served at the event.

Buon appetito!

Curling up with Chicken Soup and Kathleen Flinn’s Book “The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry”

The least-well-received “present” that I got during the holidays was a cold bug from one of my nephews.  As much as I loved playing with the active little guy and holding his newborn brother, I really didn’t need an extra special gift from them to take home with me to New York.  Fortunately, I could sit on the couch for a few days and wrap myself up in Kathleen Flinn’s book about her adventures in culinary school, The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry,* as I nursed my way through stuffed-up sinuses and a hacking cough.

This story about surviving job loss, pursuing long-held dreams, living in Paris, and finding love, was the perfect antidote for my illness.  Each chapter tells a piece of the tale of Flinn’s trip from mid-level corporate worker to graduate of the Cordon Bleu cooking school, the same one that Julia Child attended.  She ends every installment of her journey with a recipe based upon some of what she learned in the program or in life.  I have to say that these dishes sounded delicious and were tempting me, even in my cold-medicine-induced haze to try to reproduce them.

Flinn also talks about the time she had la grippe or the flu when she was in Paris.  Having been sick far away from home, in another country, with a language barrier to boot, I can imagine just how miserable she felt.  I’ve been there.  There’s the challenge of trying to figure out how to explain what ails you, sorting out what you can get over the counter to cure the aches and pains, and conjuring up how to comfort yourself in an unfamiliar place.  For some relief, Flinn whips up a batch of Potage de Poulet aux Nouille, avec de l’Ail et des Herbes, or that childhood sickday staple more commonly known as Chicken Noodle Soup.  Looking for something to chase away my own symptoms, I decided this might just be the trick.  The rich, steaming broth studded with meat and sprinkled with vegetables and herbs opened up my nasal passages and soothed my sore throat.  In any language, the remedy for a cold remains the same.

Browning chicken for soup

Cooking the carrots, celery, onions, garlic

Adding stock and herbs to the pot – I didn’t make a bouquet garni, and I omitted the Herbes de Provence

Broth simmering away

Which gives me time to shred the chicken – I also took out the herbs at this point

Putting chicken and broth together – I opted not to add noodles

A bowl of warm, comforting chicken soup

Buon appetito!

Clearing Out Your Parents’ Kitchen

With the new year, there’s the feeling of needing to clear out the clutter and have a fresh start.  The same goes for getting the kitchen in order to begin everything on a good note.  Of course, I’d like to say that I did that for myself, especially when I opened up the freezer today and saw all the things I’ve crammed into the slots in the door, remnants of various cooking projects.  Nope, instead, I tackled my parent’s fridge, cupboards, and downstairs freezer unit when I was in Virginia during the holidays.

I’m not even sure that I know what “Corned Beef Broth” is!

My excuse is that my parents really do need to get a new computer and set up wi-fi, which would keep me occupied with my laptop and all the work that I’d planned to do when I was at their house during the Christmas weekend.  Waiting for pages to load on their creaky desktop (an antique by modern standards) is worse than watching paint dry or timing the races of the centipedes that invade the basement, so I end up searching for other things to do to keep busy while waiting for the other members of my family to show up so that I have nieces and nephews to play with.

If the writing on the label has worn off…

To be clear, I did sort of have my dad’s permission when I did this.  At least, he kind of supervised me.  I would say things like, “Really, you will use this frozen buttermilk that has been here for four years?”  “Well, now that you mention it, probably not,” he’d reply.  I also like to throw words in there such as “food poisoning” and remind him that he now has grandchildren to consider when hanging on to old food.  By contrast, he feels I’m too hung up on things like expiry dates, which he thinks companies just put there to make you buy more goods.

When was allspice 69 cents?  Made in Baltimore, yeah it’s way over 15 years old.

The real reason behind all of this cleaning and reorganization is actually a very sad one.  My mom suffered a series of strokes a little over two years ago.  She is now fed via a tube in her stomach and can’t really talk anymore.  She has round-the-clock care and is confined to a bed, although she is at home where we can all see her and try to interact with her.  My father has gone back to his bachelor eating patterns: toast and omelet for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, grilled chicken and salad for dinner, with the occasional can of soup thrown in there for a bit of variety.

If it had mold on it or had reached its expiry date, it got tossed out.

When I visit them, I’m usually the one who fixes dinner, which was also one of my chores when I was in high school.  One of my younger sisters told me a few years ago that her main memory of me from that time before I left for college was that of me preparing the evening meal almost every day.  I don’t recall that, but I do know that I learned to make large batches of lots of things to feed everyone, which became a challenge when I moved out on my own.  All my recipes were scaled for a family of 8!

O.K., this really hurt to throw away the wine…and this wasn’t even all of it.

So, I do consider the kitchen as part of my domain when I am back home for a visit.  I take pleasure in planning menus that everyone in the family will enjoy eating, no small challenge with a group as large as ours.  It also gives me a chance to pull out cards from my mother’s recipe box and attempt to decipher her instructions.  When I’m there, I like to give my dad a break from his usual menu rotation so I fix things like the big pan of lasagna or a large batch of spaghetti and meatballs which make enough to feed the assembled crowd and give him some leftovers.

That Giant Food logo is pretty old.

My mom had been an adventurous cook, something I think she passed on to her children.  It’s no wonder, then, that I found a vial of rose water, a jar of saffron, and a canister of tandoori spice shoved in the back of one of the cabinets.  She was always trying out new cuisines and flavors which, although the dishes weren’t always winners, I have come to admire.  From her, I learned about the basics as well as the thrill of trying something new, whether or not the results came out exactly right.  She knew how to make hearty, filling meals to satisfy a passel of hungry kids.

Does that say “1998” or “2008”?

I guess this extra care, as intrusive as it can be, is part of the rite of transition when we start to look after our parents, but I certainly wasn’t ready for it when it happened.  About four extra bags of trash later, my father had had enough of my little cleaning project and forbade me from pulling anything else out of the food storage units in the house.  I think he might have been afraid that I was going to declare that his beer had “expired” as a way of explaining the extra empty bottles that appeared when my brother and I were left to our own devices when he’d already gone to bed.  At the same time I’m really glad that I don’t have to second-guess the last time the oatmeal was refreshed.

Does anyone want a cup of tea?

Buon appetito!