Still Hungry?

pomegranates-1178367-1279x850Shocking, but true—some scholars suggest the forbidden fruit instrumental in Eve and Adam’s split from the Garden of Eden was not the apple, but rather the pomegranate! Seasonally germane for cooks looking to give their holiday dishes some zing, the pomegranate may indeed bear some biblical guilt when one considers the pivotal Hebrew word peri in the Old Testament translates into a variety of fleshy seed-bearing fruits aside from the apple. With many fruits potentially implicated, we’ll grant the juicy infamy to the pomegranate, and move on.

Equally juicy is the pomegranate’s recent fame. We extoll its health bennies as an antioxidant (helps prevent some diseases), an anti-inflammatory (reduces eye puffiness the morning after) and as a mega vitamin C purveyor (offers 40 percent of your recommended daily). As well, the gems tarten any savory dish with the perfect tickle, and they’re seasonally pleasing to your holiday palette (and palate). While American culture heralds these qualities, ancient cultures exalt differently. In the Jewish tradition, the pomegranate symbolizes righteousness because it is believed to have as many arils (fleshy seeds) as commandments in the Torah—613! Housewarming gifts in Greece? Predominately pomegranates, which are symbolic of abundance, fertility and good luck. Memorialized in many paintings, including Sandro Botticelli’s 1487 “Madonna of the Pomegranate,” the fruit is also celebrated in Tehran at the annual Pomegranate Festival. And in some Hindu traditions, the seedy fruit symbolizes prosperity.

Yes, there are countless ways the leathery-skinned, akin-to-a-Christmas-ornament pomegranate is celebrated, but let’s just rejoice that this real jewel of a fruit can be sourced far and wide, depending on the season, thanks to cultivation beyond its ancient origins—from the regions of modern-day Iran to northern India—and offer some culinary ways to enjoy a holiday evening with the bold rubies. Continue reading

Chef 2 Chef: On the Shelf

Inherent in the recipe is an implicit investment of hope, on our part, that it will deliver on its promise to please. Even before our culinary skills mature, many of us harbor the small desire of wanting the recipe to rescue us (not unlike in our search for meaningful love) from the mundane.

As we begin to know ourselves better as cooks, the selection process is refined, and we begin to understand that recipes are not separate from the cook who risks much in both its selection and execution.

But by now, we can see that the recipe (like advice from a friend), is only a guide, a suggestion, a possibility, and with skill, effort and attention to detail, we breathe life into a set of instructions that, without our willingness to fail, will remain unseen on the page, waiting to be discovered.

Each chef has a different story to tell. We all got to talking. Continue reading

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

Serves 4

With Mother’s Day brunch in mind, Beth Draiscoll offers a Zia Diner staple, their Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict. “We smoke whole sides of salmon here at the Zia,” she says, “but I think good commercial lox is also just fine.” Beth notes that at the Zia, “We use the iconic blender Hollandaise first made famous by Julia Child. It holds fairly well and doesn’t ‘break’ as some recipes tend to do.”

To prepare the hollandaise sauce:

3 egg yolks

2 Tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pinch of cayenne

Pinch of black pepper

1/4 pound butter (1 stick), melted and warm

Whisk the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, cayenne and black pepper in blender. With blender running, slowly drizzle in melted butter and mix until sauce comes together and thickens.

To put it all together:

8 English muffins

8 eggs (two per serving)

1 ounce Nova lox

Sprig of dill or Italian parsley

Poach eggs and rest on paper towels while toasting English muffins. Place Nova lox on each toasted muffin, top with a poached egg and pour some Hollandaise over each. Garnish with a sprig of dill or chopped Italian parsley and serve immediately.

Recipe by Beth Draiscoll of the Zia Diner; recipe appears in May 2014 Local Flavor

What Brings Us Together?

When Santa Fe native Nancy Abruzzo met her future husband Richard, a renowned balloonist from Albuquerque, she was a total novice in that world. But she was also game and she was adventurous. Richard’s passion for balloons, both gas and hot air, was contagious, and Nancy found herself not only becoming an aficionado but, eventually, a pilot, herself. The son of world-famous balloonist Ben Abruzzo who founded the Albuquerque Balloon Museum, Richard had won countless awards, capped in 2004 by the Gordon Bennett Cup, a prestigious international contest he won with co-pilot Carol Rymer Davis for long distance gas ballooning.

Courtesy Nancy Abruzzo

Courtesy Nancy Abruzzo

Continue reading

Savory Baked Apples with Green Chile

By Hansueli Krapf         This file was uploaded with Commonist. [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Hansueli Krapf This file was uploaded with Commonist. [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

From Chef Jonathan Perno of Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm

4 Arkansas Black apples*, cored
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon fresh-grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 to 1/2 cup green chile, finely chopped1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash and core the apples. Set them aside. In a mixing bowl, add the water, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and maple syrup. Mix until combined. Place the apples in a basking dish with room to spare. Pour the liquid mixture over the apples. In a separate bowl, mix together the green chile, the pecans and half the butter. Stuff the apples with this mixture. Divide the remaining butter into small pieces and place them around the pan. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 to 60 minutes.

Check the apples with a skewer; if the skewer is removed easily, then remove the apples from the oven and allow them to cool.

Serves 4

*The Arkansas Black is a medium-size apple good for long storage (up to six months). It has thick dark skin and flesh that is tart, sweet and very juicy. Can’t find Arkansas Black apples? You can substitute Rome, Pink Lady, Jonathan or Granny Smith.

Los Poblanos is located at 4803 Rio Grande Blvd NW in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. 505.344.9297, lospoblanos.com

Chef Johnny Vee Wants to Know

Fire & Hops

slider Fire and Hops

As a longtime fan of Chef Joel Coleman’s cooking, I remember my disappointment when I heard he was leaving town after running into owner problems at his downtown venture Koi. Prior to that, Coleman had made a splash with Mauka in the Guadalupe district, serving his unique spin on Japanese and Asian inspired cooking. His frustration is one that many talented chefs feel; finding your culinary footing in this fickle industry can be tricky. I was glad to hear he was back in town and eager to check out his new gastro pub, an idea he had been playing with in his head for years. As I wrote in my round-up in the September issue of Local Flavor, when I visit a restaurant three times in a week, you know I’m intrigued. Fire & Hops has become my new “local favorite” so I was curious to hear from the chef himself, and partner Josh Johns, just how this new gamble is panning out … and to talk Spam. Continue reading