|It Starts with Mom|
May is the celebratory month for mothers, and as food centric folks we are inclined to salute the culinary mothers as well. Nineteenth century French chef Marie-Antoine Carême is credited with delineating the four essential sauces, called the mother sauces from which all other sauces and many dishes can be built, in his book L’art de la cuisine Française au dix-neuvième siècle. The well-known sauces are Béchamel, Velouté, Espagnole and Tomat. Later, the fifth mother sauce, Hollandaise was added. Carême is supposedly also the first cookbook author to advise “you can try this at home”.
The classic French mothers are elite building blocks that have stayed true to form, century aftercentury as contrasted to the Basque mother sauces that seem to delight in change. Maybe a little less familiar than their French cousins, ink sauce, pil-pil, green sauce and vizcaina comprise the group. Ink sauce ingredients encompass squid ink, onions, stale or fried bread, txakoki or white wine and fish stock or clam juice. Basque green sauce consists of parsley, garlic, olive oil and fish juices, cooked together with a protein or vegetable. The red-orange vizcaina sauce obtains its hue from the choricero pepper and red pepper puree and pil-pil usually pairs salt cod confit in garlic and guindilla pepper infused olive oil.
Outside of Europe, the global mothers initiate many fine dishes. Mexican moles and the holy trinity of Korean food, gochujang, doenjang and ganjay are essential to their country’s cuisine. In Puerto Rico, it’s sofrito and in Lebanon, tarator. Cook book chef, Samin Nosrat, a few years back, systemized a new set of international mother sauces in the food section of the New York Times. Her five mothers are yogurt sauce, pepper sauce made with dried peppers, herb sauce, tahini sauce and pesto. Like all the other mothers, once mastered, a whole world of possibilities and confident cooking follows. Grateful for our mothers, remember you too can try this at home. Mother, እናት, Mere, मां, Madre, أم
Happy Mother’s Day, wherever you are.
In France, Mother’s Day began in the Napoleon era when mothers of families with a large number of children were awarded medals as a thank you. Today, in some localities medals are still given, but a more traditional gift is a cake in the shape of a flower bouquet.
India doesn’t celebrate on a Sunday; they have an entire 10 day festival honoring Durga, the goddess of mothers. They prepare for weeks making food, gathering gifts, and decorating their homes for the festival.
Fall is also Mom’s season in Ethiopia, where they have the Antrosht festival at the end of the rainy season with a large meal and celebration. Daughters traditionally bring vegetables and cheese, while sons supply meat. Together, they prepare a meat hash and sing and perform dances that tell stories of family heroes.
Arab countries in Asia and Africa celebrate Mother’s Day on the first day of spring, when Mother Earth comes back to life. This day celebrates not only biological mothers but any maternal figures such as teachers, who also receive small gifts and cards on this day.
Locally, (like really local…) we asked around our commissary for some Mother’s Day traditions. Pastry Chef Lideni loves to start her Mother’s Day meal with crab soup. Keeping the Maryland theme, Chef Rob’s wife would have crabs on any Sunday but takes advantage on Mother’s Day to crack some open. Chef Bas cooks a Duck Duo for his wife each year, serving a duck breast and duck confit. And Chef Vicky is always happy with a chocolate cupcake.
We hope that all Mothers and Motherly figures have their table set with their favorites this Mother’s Day.
Check This Out
A new kind of library has been sprouting up across the country from California to Maine. Seed libraries have become an excellent resource for those with a renewed interest in the benefits of being in nature and gaining garden literacy. The library patron can check out a variety of vegetable and flower seed packets for free or for a nominal fee and ideally return saved seeds to the library after harvest. In many cases, the library offers workshops and additional resources to get started or answer questions as well.
The seed library’s mission works simultaneously on many levels. Providing fresh seasonal food, improving healthy food access, the joy of nurturing growth, family time, biodiversity and seed preservation are a few of the returns from this minimal investment in their communities. In addition, “the American Library Association had added sustainability as a core value of librarianship” and this initiative readily aligns and is another example of libraries evolution and ability to maintain relevance.
Some libraries have expanded their efforts by adding gardens on their property for community use. Others are giving away soil pellets or grab and grow kits. There are even programs in place to encourage patrons to add a row to their gardens for the local food bank and the Mystic & Noank library may plant a giving garden for that purpose. Locally, Cylburn collected seeds from the Mansion Circle Garden and collaborated with the Northwood Branch of The Enoch Pratt Free Library to offer seeds in Baltimore. Another source of seed sharing is the expansion of the Little Free Libraries (free book boxes) into Little Free Seed Libraries where neighbors and communities can easily swap seeds (and maybe recipes for the seeds), planting and discovering new and family favorite foods in their gardens and dinner tables. Thank you librarians everywhere, for nurturing our communities and expanding our horizons.
Strawberry Season Extended
For a few weeks of the Chilean summer, Chef Rodolfo Guzmán and his crew spend time foraging for sea strawberries, a ground succulent found on the coast. Though the southern hemisphere’s seasons are reversed from ours, we hope one day to taste these succulent strawberries. Meet Chef Rodolfo and take a closer look.
Harriet’s Reading Picks: Fare MagazineFamily matters took me to LA; but my first stop after landing at LAX, besides a quick cup of coffee, was Now Serving, a tiny cookbook shop located in the Far East Plaza in Chinatown. Spotting the wall of beautiful food periodicals as I walked in the door, I knew I was in deep trouble. Lining the shelves were some of my old favorite Indie magazines, but soon my arms were full of new treasures like Compound Butter, Para Llevar, Noble Rot, Plates and the Preserve Journal as well as the gorgeous Fare magazine.
Fare is published twice a year, summer and winter, and focuses on a single city located anywhere in the world. Ten issues have been published so far, starting with Istanbul, Helsinki and Charleston and finishing with Lima, Kampala and Kyoto. Each issue is a deep dive into the culture voiced, photographed and drawn primarily by locals, and sometimes including a guest curator. The flavor and style changes by article and by issue. It is a “passion project” produced by a small core team of creatives led by founder and editor Ben Mervis. Mervis is a food writer and also works on Netflix’s Chef’s Table, and there are notable parallels in the research depth for each project.
The inaugural issue, Istanbul set the bar high. The articles range from puppet theatre, meyhanes (taverns) and coffee houses to lakerda (salted bonito) and huzun, a communal melancholy, that Nobel prize winning Turkish author, Orhan Pamuk, claimed “does not just paralyze the inhabitants of Istanbul, it also gives them the poetic license to be paralyzed.” The Charleston, SC issue #3 covers a lot more familiar territory with articles by John T Edge, the Lee Brothers and David S Shields; and includes a photographed demonstration by Husk sous chef Justin Cherry of his making a Carolina Gold Rice and Red Mary wheat waffle with a 300-year-old waffle iron cooked in an outdoor clay oven. This is part of Cherry’s side project, Half Crown Bakehouse, which remakes the baked goods of colonial Carolina. Number 10, Fare’s Kyoto issue might be my favorite, but each is so rich that it would be silly to choose. The constant is that Fare is informative, surprising, instructive and lots of fun and while some of the print copies are sold out, all ten issues are available digitally. This is armchair travel at its best.
1 9-inch Pre-baked Pie Shell or Make Your Own:1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons granulated sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter*, diced into 1/4-inch cubes
1/4 cup ice water
Mix the dry ingredients: Combine the flour, sugar (optional) and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until combined.Cut the butter into the dry ingredients: Sprinkle the diced butter evenly over the dry ingredient mixture. If working by hand, use a pastry cutter or two forks to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is evenly dispersed into pea-sized (or smaller) bits. Add water: Sprinkle the dough evenly with the ice water. Use a spatula to quickly mix the water into the dough until it is evenly combined, and the dough begins to form moist clumps. (If the dough is not sticking together, you can add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of water to help it clump.) Try not to over-mix the dough. Form a dough ball: Using your hands, quickly pack the dough into a ball (like you’re packing a snowball). Then flatten the ball into a 3/4-inch thick disk.Wrap and chill the dough: Wrap the dough disk tightly in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days, until ready to roll out and use.
2 pint Strawberries, cleaned and sliced
Ingredients for Glaze:
1 ½ C Sugar
½ tsp Strawberry extract
3 Tbsp Corn starch dissolved in ½ cup water
Ingredients for Pastry Cream:
1 C Milk
3 Egg Yolks
½ C Sugar, plus 2 Tbsp
¼ C Flour
1 ½ tsp Vanilla
1 ½ Tbsp Butter, softened
Ingredients for Decorating:
1 cup whipped cream for decorating
¼ C Slivered Almonds
Begin by making the pastry cream:
Scald milk in a sauce pan and set aside.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and sugar until light in color and very thick, then beat in the flour. Pour the warm milk slowly into the egg mixture and blend well. Pour mixture back into the sauce pan and cook over low heat, stirring with a whisk until mix comes to a boil. It will appear lumpy at first; keep whisking. Make sure it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and butter. Cover surface with buttered wax paper so it does not form skin. Allow to cool.
(Pastry cream may be kept in the refrigerator for several days or it may be frozen.)
To make the glaze:
Bring 1½ cups of water to a boil; add sugar and strawberry extract. Add dissolved cornstarch and stir over medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.
Assemble the pie:
Spread the prepared (cooled) pastry cream in bottom of pre-baked pie shell. Pour in ½ pint of sliced strawberries and cover with half of the water glaze. Add remaining strawberries and cover with remaining glaze. Decorate edges with a circle of whipped cream and sprinkle with slivered almonds.
Click here to print the recipe.
May 4, 2022
May 2022: Beginnings