It's been years since visiting Wales to see my friend Mick Hartley, the "no bollocks baker" behind Bethesdabakin. Here's a recent exchange or gift long overdue I wanted to share his story regarding a present about hats!
Certain food have short seasons. Like ramps, for example. But what to do after the season with such vegetables? Try fermentation or pickling. Below are various of my efforts in pickling, including Persian cucumbers, cabbage, turnips,and kohlrabi choux croute. Great for multiple menus. Simply use salt & sugar or vinegar. I even tried making mustard using beer and sambal olek to flavor. The combinations are endless.
Real men don't eatquiche? I don't even know if they're trendy anymore and I don't care. I don't think I'll ever dislike them, simple and delicious they're a comfort food and in my DNA!
Pâte brisée (makes one large tart, or about 15 small sized ones) Flour 250 g cold butter 125g, a pinch of salt one egg yolk and a bit of water if needed. Mix by hand, the flour, salt and butter till you get the butter and flour mix incorporated. Add yolk and water until the dough is roughly mixed, then proceed to knead lightly, form into a ball and flatten, chill for at least an hour.
my rule of thumb is a 1 kilo of heavy cream 8 eggs, you can reduce the amount according to how many quiche you make.
Roll dough out with a rolling pin on a lightly flour dusted counter. Fill fluted quiche or tart mold, prick with tines of a fork and chill. Blind bake shells for about fifteen minutes, covered with parchment and baking weights or beans.
Fill par-baked shells with any sort of fillings then cover with custard, bake at 375 F for approximately 25-30 minutes when custard sets and the top is golden.
The rabbit pâté I sell on my menu at work is popular. Perhaps because it's studded with foie gras and truffles. While making a recent batch I had a bit left over. Lacking a free container, I used a strawberry jam jar for lack of a mason jar. It worked fine, adding a bit of its fruity flavor.
Imagine you wake up and go to brew coffee on your favorite stove (the one in your own kitchen), and there's no flame. Happened to me. Turns out there is a major a leak in the building's gas line. Could be months without cooking at home. Ouch! To cheer myself up, I brought some sourdough starter to work. First order of business were pizza and bombolini tests for a upcoming event.
My buddy Domenico, a zen teacher of cucina reale Italiana, often scolds me for my periodic lapses in understanding semantic and ingredient differences. Sort of like my editor Jonathan scolds me for writing three paragraphs when three sentences and a few photos would be much easier to understand. And now I face additional headwinds from overseas. Thinking fondly of an Italian bread known as Casatiello (usually served for Easter), I waited till after the holidays to bake a batch, using what was in my kitchen. Traditional Casatiello embeds cheeses along with gabagool (capicola) and salame. My wholly unorthodox version used chorizo, salami, parmigiano reggiano, a nameless French cheese, as well as ramps. Below are photos of my bread, followed by a glowing review from Domenico's personal maestro di pizza, Antonino - straight from Sorrento. Well, not so glowing, but even in admonishing me, heart felt and funny.
Roberto Liberati owns one of Rome's great butcher shops. Located on the city's outskirts in the Tuscolano neighborhood, Bottega Liberati was started by Roberto's father in the 1960s. He became a center to delight customers with education as well great cuts of meat, including those raised on organic farms with a focus on treating animals with respect. He often posts on Facebook. I invited him to our kitchen to share some thoughts about his work.
Why did butchers, cooks loose touch with tradition?
I think it's a matter of cultural change and adaptation to new market trends.
How did you start as a butcher?
My father was a butcher, my grandpa a farmer, I got a bit of both!
I understand that you were you a vegetarian for a time.
Yes,I practiced macrobiotics for ten years for a while I started with two oriental disciplines, qi gong and tai chi chuan. when i took my first bite of meat after ten years I had like an epiphany..
Are we losing our control of what we eat today?
It's hard to answer this question. I think people will continue to act like sheep and be controlled. But there will always be a small bunch of "black sheep" that will fight to preserve a strong rooted tradition.
What about food tradition in Italy; is it disappearing and or being revived by a new generation?
In a small way there are a lot of people who want to raise from a cultural numbness and those people believe that tradition must be protected at all costs. Slow food has taught us and given us the means to work in the right direction.
What do you like to eat?
Any food that gives me a strong mental emotion.
Do you have some food heroes?
Yes. Gabriele Bonci is one of the strongest. Then others who exalt my work as cooks. There are not many but the few are extraordinary.
What do you do when your not being a butcher?
Apart from Facebook, relations with friends and loved ones. And at the moment I like photography, music, cinema, sometimes bicycling. Often I like to try to rest!
What is the origin of Roman cuisine 0 is it a mash up of all the regions?
I think Rome now has a strong tradition given by different influences and traditions.
Is there a spiritual relationship with the animals you butcher, like in traditional cultures of yesteryear?
Very important! For me that is a very important moment, to be respected. But what I care the most about is life more than the fast moment of transition. Personally I estrange myself from the "act" that becomes simply technique to let the animal suffer as little as possible.
I understand you like wine; what’s your favorite region or grape?
Piemont. Nebbiolo. Barolo. Then in any region where I've found terrific things even superior to my favorite region. Then year by year too many things change and it's always the emotion of the moment that exalts me.