Friday, January 16, 2009

Exit Strategy

For the last 10 years I have been traveling to Cannes for the Midem conference every few years. This is my fourth year in a row. It's a nice trip because it sure doesn't suck to get out of town in the depths of January and frolic on the French Riviera, see friends from other countries and eat yummy food. This year feels different though. Even though the weather is so disgusting here in NY and birds are taking down planes, I really do feel like this is one chance for Americans to be together and be proud and I wish I was going to be. I'll be with my American people on Tuesday night watching a live feed of the ceremony and speech and I'll probably cry in front of them but that's the price I'll pay.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

More fun with raw dairy: homemade cheese

The one sort of odd thing about joining the raw dairy club is I don't actually drink milk at all. I use a little in oatmeal or the infrequent times I eat cereal for the last 10+ years I've used non dairy milk mainly. I do love cheese though, and have begun to be more adventurous with it especially as I travel more through Spain and learn more about the regions and the specific details of the typical cheeses of those regions. And now that I've learned more about the benefits of raw dairy and the negative effects of too much soy, I'm eager to incorporate more into my diet. All the recipes I've read about making cheese have seemed fairly easy so having these wonderful and fresh products gave me the perfect incentive to finally give it a try. I used Mark Bittman's recipe in How To Cook Everything Vegetarian as it's my current go to book for almost anything that I want to get right. The instructions are coherent, the ingredients simple and I've always always had good success with it. Here is his recipe:

Fresh Cheese
  • 1 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  1. In a large sauce pot with a heavy bottom heat over medium high until it starts to boil, stirring consistently so as not to burn the bottom of the pot, about 10 minutes
  2. Line a strainer with three layers of cheesecloth, get string or rubber band ready
  3. add buttermilk to the boiling milk solids should start to form "curds" and "whey". It will look sort of like cooked egg whites suspended in a slightly thick yellowish liquid. Remove from the heat and stir in salt.
  4. Pour mixture though cheesecloth and let curds collect and whey drain off. Run cold water over it so it's easy to handle and squeeze out whey until bundle feels firm.
  5. Tie string or rubber band to close the cheesecloth and fasten to a wooden spoon and suspend over a bowl or pot to let drain for about an hour.

The cheese was so fresh and clean tasting, largely I'm sure do the the high quality of the dairy but also because it's hell of fresh! It's almost like mozzarella in it's cold texture but when I heated it it didn't seem to melt like mozz, that's cool though! Seriously, the best thing about this is how easy it is. It might be sweet for a party to cut it into cubes and marinate it in herbs and olive oil. You're friends will be like: "what??!!"

Thursday, January 08, 2009

La Pequeña Mac and Chis

Since I started at Natural Gourmet I've been hearing about the raw dairy club that delivers there. I finally decided to sign up after reading Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine by Dr. Ron Schmid. It seems simple and obvious that heating milk to pasteurize it kills enzymes and nutritional value but in our culture the mere mention of raw milk causes cringes and seems to evoke real fear. But people, when you have to cart the milk thousands of miles and store it for almost a month (or in the case of that crap in a box years?) of course you need it to be stable and of course you'll compromise on nutrients. And there is lots of evidence that raw dairy is beneficial for you both nutritionally and healthfully. A good resource on this is the Weston Price Foundation and the campaign for real milk.

So with that, I've begun to buy cheese made with raw milk as much as possible (not that difficult) and signed up with the raw dairy club (email me if you want more info) to get the best quality and value I can find. Today was my first delivery so in celebration, I made:

La Pequeña Mac and Chis

Although I used raw dairy in this recipe and it really did seem exceptionally delicious, you can certainly make this recipe with organic dairy, I'd suggest you give up dairy produced in factory farms.


  • sea salt
  • pound elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups raw unpasteurized milk
  • 3 cloves garlic, half roughly chopped, half minced and divided
  • 5 tablespoons raw cultured unsalted butter
  • 1/2 a medium sized onion, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose organic flour
  • 4 cups shredded raw Cheddar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • half cup raw milk Manchego
  • 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
Directions: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
Add the macaroni and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente. Drain.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small saucepan heat the milk with the roughly chopped garlic.

Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, sweat the onions and minced garlic.
Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, to keep lumps from forming.
Strain the garlic out of the milk and whisk it into the butter and flour mixture.

Continue to whisk vigorously, and cook until the mixture is nice and smooth.
Stir in the 4 cups of the cheese and continue to cook and stir to melt the cheese.

Season with salt, pepper and cayenne.
In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter, add the breadcrumbs and oregano.
Add the cooked macaroni and fold that all in to coat the macaroni with the cheese mixture.
Scrape into a 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the Manchego and follow with the breadcrumb mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes**, or until hot and bubbly.

Let rest 5 minutes and serve.

**while it's baking eat a VERY FRESH SALAD!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

¡Felicidades este Dia de los Reyes!

Rosca de Reyes Recipe


  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 packet of yeast
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seed
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • A small figurine or toy
  • Candied Fruit (about 2 cups of assorted fruit cut into strips such as figs, orange, lemon, mango or cherries)
  • 1 egg beaten (egg wash)
  • 1/3 cup sugar (topping)


Sprinkle the yeast on the surface of the water and let it sit for 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast water, flour, sugar, eggs, butter, salt, cinnamon, anise seed and vanilla extract. Mix until a dough forms. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, then cover and let rise in a warm area until dough is doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Punch dough down and shape into a wreath. You can do this by simply rolling it into a log shape then bending the ends around to form a circle, or you can make three thinner strips and braid them, then put the ends together. The wreath should be about 12-14 inches in diameter. Lift up one area and insert the toy by pushing it up through the bottom. Smooth out any lumps or tears.

Add the dried fruit by laying it across the top and pressing it in slightly. Let it rise until doubled. Brush top with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar and bake for approximately 45 minutes at 350 degrees.