Archive for the ‘Uncommon Sources’ Category

Anson Mills. Organic heirloom grains. Best grits.

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

Anson Mills, founded in 1998, is a small mill in South Carolina that is dedicated to supplying the finest organic heirloom varieties of grits, polenta, cornmeal, rice, flours, oats, buckwheat and farro. Especially grits, Anson’s are the darling of so many “New Southern” restaurants around the country: now Shrimp and Anson Farms Grits is almost a menu cliché. Happily, Anson also does a brisk internet business selling to grain lovers everywhere.

This is the source for connoisseurs of grits: Anson’s offerings range from quick cooking varieties to “antebellum” grits that replicate the very grits that might have graced Scarlett O’Hara’s breakfast table. Also exceptional are the polentas, these often much fresher that Italian imports, and the otherwise hard-to-find Carolina Gold rice and farro.

The web site also has a terrific collection of recipes showcasing the various products.

La Tienda. Spain in America. The source.

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

A new category debuts, Uncommon Sources, that will showcase sources and suppliers that may not be local, but certainly are important. At least to some of us!

La Tienda is more than just an essential source for hard-to-find
Spanish ingredients, it’s an outpost of Spanish culture in America.

There was no Spanish food to speak of in this country until Asturian chef José Andrés opened Jaleo in Washington, D.C. Before, paella was the only familiar Spanish dish, and that was probably a sorry mishmash of gummy rice, chicken, shrimp, and sausage (authentic paellas never mix seafood with land food). Andrés transformed the idea of tapas into the now-ubiqutous “small plates” that Americans could easily grasp, and Spanish food was here to stay.

There were no Spanish ingredients in those days either. La Tienda was founded by an American family that had lived in Spain for many years. They began by importing items for their own use in 1996, and happily the business has grown to a national level with over 500 products available.

La Tienda was instrumental in bringing legal Jamón Ibérico to this country, and a complete range of ham is available from mere serrano to Jamón Ibérico Bellota Paleta, thought by many to be the finest ham in the world. Also available are difficult-to-find Spanish sausages, including chorizo, buttifara, morcilla, and a wide variety of essential pantry ingredients: smoked pimentón paprika, roasted piquillo and guindillas peppers, paella rice, and a wide range of unsurpassed oil-packed tunas.

Better variety. Not just greens. With soufleé.

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Cheese SoufleéEvery week there’s more to choose from. I couldn’t decide between baby beets from Jay Hill Farm or the very first asparagus of the season from Miller Farms (picked at 5am Saturday morning!) … so I bought both. What could be a better foil for simple vegetable dishes than a classic soufleé prepared with local cheese from Haystack Mountain? Queso de Mano is Haystack’s first raw goat’s milk cheese, very reminicient of manchego, and it substitutes perfectly for the gruyère in a classic cheese soufleé.

AsparagusPrepare the asparagus by snapping off the lower, woodier part. Bend firmly, and the stalk will naturally break at just the right place. Rustics leave the skin on, but I prefer to peel the lower part of the remaining stalk with a vegetable peeler. Slather the asparagus with olive oil, add kosher salt, then grill or broil until done. Asparagus cooks very quickly: use tongs and turn often until nicely colored, and don’t leave unattended.

Baby BeetsBaby beets also deserve a light touch. Reserve the greens, discard the stems, and peel the beet proper and slice thin, about 1/8″. Sauté in olive oil for a few minutes, then add greens and cook a few minutes more. Add kosher salt to taste.

A dash of soy would add that certain umami je ne sais quoi, but the delicate flavor of the tender young beets might not show through.

Soufleé is enjoying a second 15 minutes of fame: millions watched as Top Chef contestants completely butchered this simple, classic dish. These chefs are certainly competent, but their lack of familiarity shows just how far this preparation has fallen out of fashion. Revive the soufleé!

Cheese Soufleé

  1. 3 Tb butter
  2. 3 Tb flour
  3. 1 cup milk
  4. 3 large eggs + one white
  5. 1 cup queso de mano (or gruyère), grated
  6. 2 Tb parmesan cheese, grated fine (or flour)
  7. pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Separate the eggs, reserving both whites and yolks. Combine whites, adding one extra. Butter inside of a charlotte pan, and coat evenly with grated parmesan cheese or flour (more classic). The coatings are optional, but either will help to achieve a nice side-crust and discourage sticking.

Melt butter and mix well with flour to a smooth paste but do not color. Whisk in milk, and simmer until thickened. Whisk in cheese. Off heat, whisk in egg yolks one by one. Add pepper to taste.

Whip four egg whites in mixer to stiff peaks. Quickly but gently fold in egg whites, mixing well. Pour result into prepared charlotte pan. Reduce oven to 350 degrees, and bake for 30 minutes. The top should rise and brown attractively – do not overcook.

Sources

Haystack Mountain

Miller Farms

Jay Hill Farm