Posts Tagged ‘Red Meat’

Red Meat: Blake Bethem

Posted by Warren Rojas / Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

It doesn’t get much more mom-and-pop than Fredericksburg’s Bistro Bethem:

(Image: Aby Bethem)

Northern Virginia native Blake Bethem, a Marine Corps vet turned Johnson & Wales grad, manages the back of the house while his wife, Aby, deals with the front/business side of the hospitality equation. Bethem deals primarily in classic French gastronomy, but also pays tribute to the local foodshed by featuring seasonal ingredients and some Southern accents.

WR: Salt. Pepper. What other spices/herbs could you not live without?

BB: Fennel seed and coriander.

WR: What’s the very first dish you ever mastered? How long did it take? Do you still make it today?

BB (as related to/by Aby Bethem):  I will answer with gelato. (May not be the first, but it’s a good example). It was a passion of his [Blake's] to master an ice cream recipe starting in 2005. We researched and spent a considerable amount of money on a high end ice cream machine. Then it took many months of ‘tweaking’ the recipe for the base, so that it held correctly in our freezer, the way we serve it, flavor, etc. Finally, I remember the exciting day when he decided we had it figured out. More of a gelato style. Yes, we serve a lot of it. A staple component to our dessert menu. Now it’s more about experimenting with the flavor combinations. I saw a bag of mini marshmellows [sic] come in yesterday, so…

WR: What seasonal ingredient(s) get your creative juices flowing?

BB: Pea shoots. A glimpse of spring. Bright, green, fresh, etc. Gets you excited thinking of all the new fresh things that will be available soon. This past weekend, we had quail with a wild rice and pea shoot stuffing. Salmon topped with wilted pea shoots. Used as a garnish/topping.

WR: My latest cookbook obsession is …

BB: Momofuku by David Chang. I think it’s more about the philosophy being used.

“Momofuku is the anti-restaurant. The food eludes easy, or really any, classification. There is a focus on good technique, on seasonality and sustainability, on intelligent and informed creativity. But it is deliciousness by any means that they’re really going for.” – Peter Meehan

That motto is something that Blake has always done with our menu, it’s just seeing it in such a lovely book. Items I have seen incorporated on our menu recently: confit of fingerling potatoes, kim chi

WR: What’s the most challenging dish you’ve ever attempted? Would you make it again?

BB: Foie Gras Tourchon–because there are a lot of factors that if not done perfectly will cause the dish to fail. Kind of like baking: it’s delicate, time consuming, temperature is the key. Yes, he will make it again and again.

WR: If I could the spend the day working alongside any local chef, I’d love to collaborate with …

BB: Terrence Gallivan, he is a close friend and a talented chef. Chef Gallivan grew up here in Fredericksburg. He worked in several restaurants in town during high school. After high school and during his early 20’s he worked with Blake at the restaurant here, (before we owned it), Bistro 309. It was with Blake that he realized that he wanted to go to culinary school. He has with hard work, drive and dedication worked in very reputable New York city restaurants. Working together is not something that would be relevant any time in the close future. I guess in a “maybe” situation, they would explore a “pop up” restaurant concept together, many years down the road–just for fun.

WR: What’s the easiest/quickest–but still wholly satisfying–meal you make for yourself?

BB: English muffin with peanut butter. Simple, quick, protein and out the door. When you cook all day for others, you tend to not cook at home.

WR: In the next six months you won’t want to miss my …

BB: Desserts

WR: It’s quitting time. I’m pouring myself …

BB: Domaine du Salvard Sauvignon Blanc from Cheverny, France or Hendrick’s gin and our house-made tonic.

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Chef, not to hasten your retirement from Bistro Bethem or anything, but we LOVE the pop-up restaurant plan.

Come back next Tuesday for another helping of Red Meat.

–Warren



Red Meat: Shannon Overmiller

Posted by Warren Rojas / Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Local Girl Does Good Great:

(Image: Meshelle Armstrong)

That would be a perfectly fitting headline for any profile of toque Shannon Overmiller, the spunky hometown gal who’s helped lead The Majestic back to its former glory AND re/introduced folks to the Rockwellian notion of sitting down together for at least one wholesome meal per week with her much-lauded “Nana’s Sunday Dinner” program. Turns out, she’s as obsessed with weekend suppers as we are with her regionally-inspired cooking…

WR: Salt. Pepper. What other spices/herbs could you not live without?

SO: I love cumin/cayenne as a spice. I also love rosemary and sage, but in moderation.

WR: What’s the very first dish you ever mastered? How long did it take? Do you still make it today?

SO: My cream of crab soup. It took me 3-4 times to master it. I cooked it for my boyfriend who is a chef as well for his first cooked dinner because I knew it was right on. Since he is a chef, I knew I better get it right. I still make it today, for every Thanksgiving! I do it at certain events like ZooFari as one of my staples.

WR: What seasonal ingredient(s) get your creative juices flowing?

SO: Summer: tomatoes, crabs, corn. Spring: peas, asparagus, Meyer lemons, ramps. Fall: chestnuts, butternut squash, apples (of course). Winter: stews and braises.

WR: My latest cookbook obsession is …

SO: Sunday Suppers at Luques by Suzanne Goin or Bouchon by Thomas Keller

WR: What’s the most challenging dish you’ve ever attempted? Would you make it again?

SO: Foie terrine or torchon in puff pastry. I would make them again because they came out superb (as long as you follow instructions carefully). These are technical dishes that require following an exact method.

WR: If I could the spend the day working alongside any local chef, I’d love to collaborate with …

SO: Scott Drewno of The Source. He is such a good person and very talented. He is also very up and coming in the area. Another would be Fabio Trabocchi–I can’t wait to see his bistro food shine with his new restaurant, and I have a very Italian style with a lot of my cooking.

WR: What’s the easiest/quickest–but still wholly satisfying–meal you make for yourself?

SO: Bacon and eggs or sausage or scrapple and eggs. Your typical breakfast, served with buttered toast, coffee and o.j. Breakfast is really special, especially when you cook it for you and your honey on your day off –or even just yourself.

WR: In the next six months you won’t want to miss my …

SO: Our restaurant group opening our new expanding projects/restaurants!!! Coming in spring/summer this year.

WR: It’s quitting time. I’m pouring myself …

SO: onto the couch! With a glass of Pinot Grigio or any nice cool, crisp white wine.

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Many of Overmiller’s favorite ingredients mirror my own. Suppose I should frequent the Majestic more often to take full advantage …

Come back next Tuesday for another helping of Red Meat.

–Warren




Red Meat: Tracy O’Grady

Posted by Warren Rojas / Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Tracy O’Grady is quite the 21st century woman:

While others might be perfectly content with merely opening and operating an award-winning restaurant (Willow), this trailblazing toque developed her own cut of pork and represented the Old Red, White and Blue in the culinary gauntlet that was the 2001 Bocuse d’Or competition.

WR: Salt. Pepper. What other spices/herbs could you not live without?

TO: Thyme, savory, cumin, star anise, anise seed, fennel seed.

WR: What’s the very first dish you ever mastered? How long did it take? Do you still make it today?

TO: French onion [soup]. Twice. And yes.

WR: What seasonal ingredient(s) get your creative juices flowing?

TO: Davoncrest Farms squash blossoms

WR: My latest cookbook obsession is …

TO: One Potato Two Potato. I love potatoes (maybe it is an Irish thing).

WR: What’s the most challenging dish you’ve ever attempted? Would you make it again?

TO: Moroccan Mishwe for the Bocuce d’Or. And no! It took two years to develop, was very complicated and I did not feel as though I perfected it.

WR: If I could the spend the day working alongside any local chef, I’d love to collaborate with …

TO: Ris Lacoste

WR: What’s the easiest/quickest–but still wholly satisfying–meal you make for yourself?

TO: Lemon and Thyme Roasted Chicken, with Crispy Herb Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts


Lemon Roasted Free Range Chicken – Serves 6

3 chickens
3 tablespoons thyme
3 tablespoons lemon zest
½ cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling over chicken
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons chicken stock
12 Tracy’s Potatoes (see below)
3 cups Orange & Herb Glazed Carrots (see below)
3 cups chicken jus (recipe below)

Procedure

Combine thyme, lemon zest, olive oil and a little salt and rub under the skin of the breast of the chickens. Truss chickens. Rub outside of chickens with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Roast at 450 degrees Fahrenheit about 12 minutes and then at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes more.

Let the chickens cool down and then breakdown by cutting the breasts off with the wings attached. Detach thigh.

When you are ready to serve, place chicken on a sizzle platter with about ½ tbsp each butter and chicken stock. Put in 450 degree oven until the meat is cooked through and then broil a couple of minutes to crisp the skin. Serve with Tracy’s Potatoes, Orange & Herb Glazed Carrots and Roast Chicken Jus.

Tracy’s Potatoes

3 potatoes (2 orders per potato)
3 garlic cloves
3 rosemary sprigs

Procedure

Cover whole potatoes in their skins with cold salted water and bring to a boil.

Simmer gently until potatoes are tender but not falling apart.

Cut potatoes in quarters.

Sauté in clarified butter with garlic and rosemary until golden and crispy.

Orange & Herb Glazed Carrots

3 cups carrots (cut in pieces on the bias)
1/8 cup butter
1/8 cup orange juice
Thyme, to taste
Savory, to taste
Salt, to taste

Procedure

Sweat carrots in clarified butter. Season and add whole butter to pan.

Cover with a parchment top and bake in oven at 350 degrees until tender.

To serve: cook ½ cup portions of carrots with about a teaspoon each of whole butter and orange juice until glazed. Sprinkle with thyme and savory.

Chicken Jus

2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 shallots, sliced
1 cup sherry
6 cups roast chicken stock
1 chicken carcass

Procedure

Sweat garlic and shallots in a little oil or clarified butter. Deglaze with sherry and reduce for a second.

Add stock and chicken carcass and simmer to sauce consistency.

Strain sauce.


WR: In the next six months you won’t want to miss my …

TO: Spring menu

WR: It’s quitting time. I’m pouring myself …

TO: Yard’s Pale Ale

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Ask a single question, walk away with four incredible recipes. Did I tell you this lady was an overachiever, or what?.

Come back next Tuesday for another helping of Red Meat.

–Warren



Red Meat: Anthony Chavez

Posted by The Editorial Desk / Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

If you are a slave to otherworldly sweets, confidence is high you know Anthony Chavez’s work:

The award-winning pastry chef continues working his magic at 2941, spinning out such memorable closers as a cacao-dusted  frozen truffle draped in caramel sauce and pecan streusel, and a gold leaf-flecked sponge cake saturated with Maker’s Mark and Tahitian vanilla.

WR: Salt. Pepper. What other spices/herbs could you not live without?

AC: Ceylon cinnamon, it is the purest form of cinnamon. It has the best well rounded flavor which pair very well with chocolate. Valentine’s Day, each guest will receive complimentary chocolate made with Ceylon cinnamon. We are calling it the “chocolate red hots.”

WR: What’s the very first dish you ever mastered? How long did it take? Do you still make it today?

AC: I don’t think I have ever mastered a dessert. Trends are always evolving and to keep up with them I create new desserts as well revisit old desserts, making then better than before.

WR: What seasonal ingredient(s) get your creative juices flowing?

AC: Rhubarb. I love the sourness rhubarb brings. When you see rhubarb at the market you know spring is in here and that means more fruit is on the way.

WR: My latest cookbook obsession is …

AC: The Internet. I know it is not a book however there is a lot of information posted on chef blogs, restaurant and pastry shop websites and school websites. Some of my favorites are Christophe Michalak, Patrick Roger and The Culinary Institute of America.

WR: What’s the most challenging dish you’ve ever attempted? Would you make it again?

AC: An arborio rice pudding with a white truffle ice cream. I would try it again in the right setting. On our a la carte menu it had problems selling. I think people don’t think of mushrooms when they think of desserts.

WR: If I could the spend the day working alongside any local chef, I’d love to collaborate with …

AC: Chris Ford from Trummers. He has a very clean style and his flavors are straight forward and creative.

WR: What’s the easiest/quickest–but still wholly satisfying–meal you make for yourself?

AC: Brioche with homemade jam. I love making brioche because it is 20 minutes of work and 2 hours of proofing.

Meyer Lemon Brioche with *Rhubarb Confiture

Meyer Lemon Brioche

5 ¼ ounces (151 g.) water

2/3 ounce (19 g.) fresh yeast

3 eggs

1 tablespoon (5 g.) vanilla extract

2 pieces Meyer lemon zest

1 pound (453 g.) all-purpose flour

4 ounces (113 g.) sugar

¼ teaspoon (2 g.) + pinch sea salt

4 ounces (113 g.) butter


*Rhubarb Confiture

9 ounces (250 g.) rhubarb, sliced

9 ounces (250 g.) vanilla sugar

½ ounces (15 g.) lemon Juice

Confiture Method

Day One

Combine the rhubarb and vanilla sugar in a pot.

Slowly bring mixture to a boil.

Remove from heat, wrap pot with plastic, refrigerate overnight.

Day Two

Strain the rhubarb-vanilla juice, reserving the rhubarb.

Place juice in a pot and cook until the juice has thickened and reads 106 degrees Celsius on a candy thermometer.

Return the rhubarb, simmer 3-5 more minutes, add the lemon juice and cool.


Brioche Method

Day One

Combine water, yeast, 2 eggs, lemon zest and vanilla in a mixing bowl.

Add the flour, sugar and ¼ tsp salt. With a dough hook, mix until the dough is smooth and shiny on medium speed for approximately 8 minutes.

Add half of the butter and mix on low speed for 3 minutes.

Add the remaining half of the butter and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.

Remove from the mixer and place into a bowl. Allow to rise until the dough has doubled in size. Press out the fermented gases in the brioche with your hand.

Place the brioche into the refrigerator for 2 hours. Press out the fermented gases a second time. Place the brioche in the refrigerator overnight.

Day Two

Remove brioche from the refrigerator and place dough into a standard loaf pan. Allow to rise in a warm oven (190 degrees Fahrenheit) for about two hours or until the dough has tripled in size. Whisk 1 egg and a pinch of salt together. Brush the top of the brioche with the egg.

Bake in a 360 F oven for 20-25 minutes.

Remove from the loaf pan and place onto a cooling rack.

Serve warm with the rhubarb confiture.


WR: In the next six months you won’t want to miss my …

AC: Spring menu. We will feature all the spring fruits including strawberries, rhubarb and Meyer lemons. Spring is my favorite time of year to make desserts.

WR: It’s quitting time. I’m pouring myself …

AC: Guinness. It is like drinking a late-night cup of joe.

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Chef, your zen-like patience is inspiring. No way I could wait 48 hours for my favorite snack.

Come back next Tuesday for another helping of Red Meat.

–Warren



Red Meat: Tom Przystawik

Posted by The Editorial Desk / Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Journeyman chef Tom Przystawik doesn’t just love eating local, he lives it.

He made the rounds at various area restaurants before planting roots in Cameron Station and opening Food Matters with his wife and fellow chef Christy Przystawik.

The first stage of the Food Matters education plan was to introduce patrons to some of the Przystawiks most trusted producers, a task accomplished by constructing menus from regional harvests and trumpeting where the building blocks of each meal came from by any means necessary (printed on the menu, scrawled on chalkboards, woven into each server’s spiel). Once farm-to-fork fever caught on, the Przystawik’s nursed their clients’ fresh foods-first habit by launching the Food Matters Community Supported Agriculture (FMCSA), a program aimed at tightening the local producer-informed shopper bond and keeping seasonal spoils from rotting on the vine.

WR: Salt. Pepper. What other spices/herbs could you not live without?

TP: I actually think salt is king. Pepper is over rated and often wasted. Name the last time you asked for more pepper? Dill and basil are my favorite herbs. When I have [them] fresh from my garden or from local farms I make sure to use on the menu.

WR: What’s the very first dish you ever mastered? How long did it take? Do you still make it today?

TP: Scrambled eggs as a kid. I would surprise my parents in the morning with bacon cooked in the microwave and scrambled eggs. Probably took half a dozen times until I sort of knew what I was doing. Seems like scrambled eggs never turn out the same twice, though. Still have them several times a week. As I teach my kids how to make them I am reminded how complex even the simplest of items can be.

WR: What seasonal ingredient(s) get your creative juices flowing?

TP: Local asparagus, field ripened tomatoes, my garden-grown chile peppers and root vegetables.

Asparagus is, for me, the gateway to the true bounty of the seasons. Asparagus will show up on at least four menu items. Same for tomatoes. No fresh tomato on my menu until a farmer from around here brings it to me. Usually not until [the] end of June. Like asparagus, tomatoes will be on the menu in four or five different places. Once tomatoes and peppers are gone I hone in on the root vegetables. I continue to be amazed at the variety of flavors, colors and textures of turnips, beets, celeriac, rutabegas [sic], radishes, parsnips, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Chile peppers are my own personal passion. I grow them, I have others grow them for me, I eat them, I love them. Each variety has its own qualities that require a different application. It’s not just about spice. That being said, I did grow Naga Jolokia peppers (another name for them is ghost pepper) this year which are the hottest pepper on the planet—many, many more times as spicy as a habanero. I did manage to incorporate them into a couple of sauces. They are way too spicy to be enjoyed straight up.

WR: My latest cookbook obsession is …

TP: Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. Less of a cookbook and more of a manual for making fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and other lacto-fermented vegetables.

WR: What’s the most challenging dish you’ve ever attempted? Would you make it again?

TP: It was an entire menu I made for a raw food dinner. Five courses, nothing cooked. I made cheese for almonds. It takes multiple steps and patience. Polenta with fresh corn—”cooked” in a food dehydrator. Those were two items that stick out in my mind. Including the process for the nut cheese I think I spent seven days prepping a menu for 18 people!

WR: If I could the spend the day working alongside any local chef, I’d love to collaborate with …

TP: Toughest question of all! Probably Ann Cashion. I worked for her the longest and would love to go back spend a day with her.

WR: What’s the easiest/quickest–but still wholly satisfying–meal you make for yourself?

TP: Roasted root vegetables with some chile flakes and a nice pile of my own sauerkraut. I make a large plate of that and enjoy it all afternoon.

WR: In the next six months you won’t want to miss my …

TP: Asparagus menu

WR: It’s quitting time. I’m pouring myself …

TP: A Jefferson Cup of George Dickel No. 12 Whisky (yes this is the correct spelling) with ice. I was introduced to this at a private event. I loved it, now I can’t stop. Don’t know why but it just sits right with me.

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From raw foods to nuclear hot peppers. Sounds like you’ve got quite the skill set, chef.

Come back next Tuesday for another helping of Red Meat.

–WR



Red Meat: Will Artley

Posted by The Editorial Desk / Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Chef Will Artley has been around food for a LONG time.

He cut his teeth on several local properties–the since-shuttered Colvin Run Tavern, Butterfield 9 and IndeBleu, as well as Kinkead’s–before taking up the Neighborhood Restaurant Group‘s cause in Del Ray, where he continues to steer Evening Star‘s culinary ship (including the subordinate Majestic and No. 9 lounges) as well as running Planet Wine’s by-reservation-only Farm Table.

But rather than clear things off his plate, this apparent workaholic plans to add another title to his curriculum vitae this year: gardener.

WR: Salt. Pepper. What other spices/herbs could you not live without?

WA: I’d give up pepper for fresh thyme. Fennel seed I use quite a bit, too.

WR: What’s the very first dish you ever mastered?

WA: Eggs. all styles.

WR: How long did it take?

WA: About 40 dozen. lol.

WR: Do you still make it today?

WA: Yes. I actually give cooks/sous chef applicants two eggs when they apply. I tell them to cook them one sunny side and one over hard. You’d be amazed at how many people fail that test.

WR: What seasonal ingredient(s) get your creative juices flowing?

WA: Ramps. Every year I spend time trying to figure out how I can prolong their shelf-life.

WR: My latest cookbook obsession is …

WA: A toss up between bread books and Sarma Melngailis’ “Living Raw Food” UNcookbook

WR: What’s the most challenging dish you’ve ever attempted? Would you make it again?

WA: Isomalt teardrops–Never. Not my style.

WR: If I could the spend the day working alongside any local chef, I’d love to collaborate with …

WA: Frank Ruta. He’s a stud.

WR: What’s the easiest/quickest–but still wholly satisfying–meal you make for yourself?

WA: Seems boring, but to be honest with you, anything I can throw in a wrap. Quick, easy, satisfying.

WR: In the next six months you won’t want to miss my …

WA: 2,000 square foot garden (located about 3/4 of a mile from the restaurant). We plan to harvest: green beans, cukes, squash, all herbs, 130-150 heirloom tomato plants (hope to harvest 500 pounds), carrots, beets, greens and onions. I’m sitting down with my buddy Travis Hester this month to finalize our planting. Come on, springtime!

WR: It’s quitting time. I’m pouring myself …

WA: A Maker’s.

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We’ll toast to a fruitful garden with you, chef. But I’m more of a Booker’s man.

Come back next Tuesday for another helping of Red Meat.

–WR




Red Meat: Derek Luhowiak

Posted by The Editorial Desk / Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Though he’s been trained to work with knives, chef Derek Luhowiak is more of a stick-to-your-guns type toque:

An alumnus of heritage breed-haven Ayrshire Farm, Luhowiak took local dining on the road a few years back with his winery-roving food cart, Local Sixfortyseven. But when Hollywood–okay, Canadian television–came a-callin’ last summer, Luhowiak shunned the spotlight, took his mobile kitchen out of rotation and spent some time reflecting on exactly what he wanted to do with his time and talents.

I’m happy to report that he’s back in action–having taken control of the kitchen at Millwood’s Locke Store this past fall–and already hard at work “preserving” his culinary legacy.

WR: Salt. Pepper. What other spices/herbs could you not live without?

DL: Dried chili’s [sic]. Grow them every year and dry them in the Virginia sunshine. Sneak them into all my curries, pastas and greens.

WR: What’s the very first dish you ever mastered? How long did it take? Do you still make it today?

DL: Properly cooking al dente pasta. I was the young kid at a well known Italian restaurant in Pittsburgh, PA and worked with all old Italian guys who would not even speak English to me. But boy I learned to cook a proper toothsome al dente pasta.

WR: What seasonal ingredient(s) get your creative juices flowing?

DL: There are so many, but venison. Fauquier County has some of the best venison I have ever had. They graze right along side of the cows. We make jerky, smoke sausages, roasts you name it. It just really feels like fall and winter to tuck into a bowl of venison stew and a stout.

WR: My latest cookbook obsession is …

DL: My seed catalogs. I get crazy excited about planting. I know its not a cookbook per se but I cant wait to harvest for new dishes. I have green radishes on my mind this year.

WR: What’s the most challenging dish you’ve ever attempted? Would you make it again?

DL: Turducken. HATE THEM! Had to make them for a holiday season and not that they are overly hard but they look like Frankenstein’s baby when your done! Try making that look appealing. No offense to all you turducken fans. A big no to making them again!!!!

WR: If I could the spend the day working alongside any local chef, I’d love to collaborate with …

DL: I would love to get Tarver King of the Ashby [Inn], Rob Townsend of Ayrshire and myself together for a informal, backyard whole-hog cook-off!!!!! Let the beer and pork flow!!

WR: What’s the easiest/quickest–but still wholly satisfying–meal you make for yourself?

DL: Greens and beans.

Saute a little garlic, olive oil, dried chili (see its in everything) and anchovy.

Toss in a green of your choice (i.e., rapini, escarole, kale, etc.). Wilt those down.

Add a can of white northern beans, a cup of chicken stock, some salt and pepper.

Simmer until it thickens a bit (about five minutes).

Toss a crusty piece of bread in the oven for mopping up the juice.

Plate the beans.

Pour on a little finishing olive oil and some fresh grated parmesan at the end (and yourself a big glass of vino).

Takes about 5- 10 minutes total.


WR: In the next six months you won’t want to miss my …

DL: We have been working on a partnership with the Locke Store and I have been slowly introducing a fresh meat case with local lamb, beef and pork, as well as my own sausage creations (Merguez, sweet fennel and orange, many others). Local Sixfortyseven is going to launch a small batch artisanal line of pickles and preserves of all sorts made from what we are growing in our gardens, so they will be in small supply. They will be available at the Locke Store as well as [by] contacting us directly. Check us out on Facebook for all our info.

WR: It’s quitting time. I’m pouring myself …

DL: Right now, winter time, totally digging on Stone Brewery’s Old Guardian barley wine.

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A hearty bowl of venison stew and snifter of barley wine sounds like the perfect prescription for weathering today’s foul climate. Thanks for the idea, chef Luhowiak!

Come back next Tuesday for another helping of Red Meat.

–WR




Red Meat: Domenica Marchetti

Posted by The Editorial Desk / Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Happy Looming Snow Day, Gut Checkers!

And welcome to the launch of our latest online series: Red Meat–an ongoing Q&A designed to provide you with unfiltered access to our area’s most esteemed culinarians.

We’d like to get the (snow)ball rolling by introducing you to Domenica Marchetti:

Domenica Marchetti

(Image: Chris McNamara)

The Alexandria resident is a regular contributor to the Washington Post Food section and has also appeared in various national media. Although she claims no formal culinary training–”My mom was born and raised in Italy and I got my training from her. I am a (proud) home cook through and through,” she said of her epicurean credentials–Marchetti has two published cookbooks and is poised to release two more (The Glorious Pasta of Italy – June; untitled rustic Italian cooking tome – later this fall) before the end of the year.

WR: Salt. Pepper. What other spices/herbs could you not live without?

DM: Fresh basil in summer. I always toss it into my tomato and mozzarella salad and in fresh tomato sauce. And, of course, in pesto. I also can’t live without peperoncino (chili pepper). In Abruzzo, where my family is from, there is a plate of either fresh or dried peperoncini or a jar of or oil-marinated peperoncini on every dinner table. It goes on pasta, vegetables, and just about everything else!

WR: What’s the very first dish you ever mastered? How long did it take? Do you still make it today?

DM: Believe it or not, the first dish i ever mastered was Chinese spring rolls. Even though I grew up in an Italian family we loved Chinese food and went as often as we could to Chinatown in New York. My mother had a wonderful Chinese cookbook–I don’t remember the title–and I remember prepping all of filling ingredients, wrapping the filing in the spring roll skins, and frying them in a wok. They were delicious.

WR: What seasonal ingredient(s) get your creative juices flowing?

DM: Summer tomatoes, of course. Like others who love to cook and eat seasonally I wait for them all year long and eat them nearly every day from the time they make their debut at the farmers’ market till they disappear from the stalls. And zucchini blossoms! I fry them in a light batter and they are ethereal. I also like to toss them in soups and with cooked pasta. I also love apricots and sour cherries, my two favorite fruits. Their seasons overlap briefly and when they do I make apricot-cherry tarts and pies. As for winter ingredients, I am especially fond of kale, both regular curly kale and the kind known as dinosaur kale (cavolo nero aka lacinato kale). I love it sauteed with garlic and in hearty vegetable soups.

WR: My latest cookbook obsession is …

DM: Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce. The book is about baking with whole-grain flours, from familiar flours such as whole-wheat to less-familiar ones, such as teff and kamut. The recipes are creative and inspired but not at all contrived. There’s no attempt to just substitute whole-grain for white flour. The recipes really honor and showcase the qualities of all of the various whole-grain flours. And the photos by Quentin Bacon are beautiful.

WR: What’s the most challenging dish you’ve ever attempted? Would you make it again?

DM: The most challenging dish I ever attempted is a pasta dish from Abruzzo called Maccheroni alla Mulinara (the miller’s wife’s pasta). Pasta dough is carefully rolled out into an extraordinarily long loop–probably longer than 10 feet–and then wrapped into a coil. When you boil the coil of pasta the loop breaks up into long, fat noodles that are sauced with Abruzzese ragu (meat sauce). A wonderful restaurant cook in Italy showed me how to make the noodles and I recreated them for my forthcoming book, The Glorious Pasta of Italy. It’s a wonderful, one-of-a-kind recipe that is worth every bit of effort. And in all honesty, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be to master. Plus it’s so fun!

WR: If I could the spend the day working alongside any local chef, I’d love to collaborate with …

DM: This is such a tough question because we have so many talented chefs in the area. Right now I would have to say Johnny Monis of Komi. I’ve only eaten there once, but the meal was memorable, so carefully wrought and beautifully presented. And delicious. His food is unlike anything I cook at home, so it would be a treat to shadow him in the kitchen.

WR: What’s the easiest/quickest–but still wholly satisfying–meal you make for yourself?

DM: Probably my mother’s lentil soup, especially this time of year! It comes together in under an hour and is delicious and satisfying–a meal in a bowl. You can make it vegetarian, or you can add diced ham, pancetta, or sausage to make it a little heartier.

Zuppa di Lenticchie (Lentil Soup) –from The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy, by Domenica Marchetti (Chronicle Books, 2006)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed with the flat side of a knife blade
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into medium dice
1 rib celery, trimmed and cut into small dice
2 cups brown lentils, rinsed and drained
4 cups best-quality commercial chicken broth
4 cups water
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 fresh bay leaf
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Homemade black pepper croutons (cubed country bread tossed with olive oil, salt, a generous shower of black pepper, and baked in the oven until crispy)

In a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion carrots, and celery and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onion is softened and pale gold and the carrots are bright orange. Stir in the lentils and sauté for a minute or two, mixing well to coat them thoroughly with oil. Pour in the broth and water and add the thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper to taste. Cover partially and simmer, stirring from time to time, for 45 minutes, or until the lentils are completely tender. Reduce the heat if necessary to keep the soup at a gentle simmer.

Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt or pepper if you like.

Spoon into bowls and drizzle a little olive oil on top of each serving. Garnish each serving with a handful of croutons.

Cook’s Note: For an even heartier soup, add some chopped smoked ham, a small smoked pork chop, or a cut-up cooked sausage or two to the pot while sautéing the vegetables.


WR: In the next six months you won’t want to miss my …

DM: My latest cookbook, The Glorious Pasta of Italy. It’s a collection of my favorite pasta recipes, from simple weeknight pasta dishes that can be made in the time it takes to boil a pot of water to a handful of ‘showstoppers’–truly one-of-a-kind recipes like the one described above. There’s even a bonus chapter on Pasta Dolce–sweet pasta recipes for dessert.

WR: It’s quitting time. I’m pouring myself …

DM: A glass of wine. I enjoy Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a fairly light red that pairs well with a lot of different foods. If it’s a special occasion…prosecco!

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A sincere thanks to Domenica for allowing us to pick her brain and for divulging her go-to lentil dish (perfect eating on a snowy night, no?).

Like what you see here?

Come back every Tuesday for another helping of Red Meat.

–WR




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