Thursday, July 23, 2009

Going Brooklyn

I came to a funny realization walking around Brooklyn, New York last month. Almost every young guy, and in Williamsburg, Brooklyn everybody's young, was wearing a beard, large sunglasses and an ironic themed t-shirt. I've since dubbed it "Going Brooklyn". Another aspect of "Going Brooklyn" these days is being involved in some sort of artisanal culinary business. The New York Times did a long expose last spring about the similarities between the outer boroughs of NYC and the food scene in San Francisco in the 1970's. You remember that scene: Alice Waters, Chez Panisse, Jeremiah Tower, Mark Miller, etc. A pretty significant comparison I thought. But today's brooklyn might just be able to pull it off, I mean there are a lot of interesting, creative, from-scratch food shops and restaurants all over Brooklyn right now. Among the many that I visited was Marlow & Sons, a restaurant and very tiny market that reminded me all the world of an East coast version of Zuni Cafe (they even have the signature chicken dish). An extremely fun spot, that is said to always be hopping, I found myself wishing it was located down the street from me. Like so many other spots in Brooklyn, it's a lot of substance with a dash of hipster style thrown in. I highly recommend stopping by for a visit (no reservations) or perhaps check out the NYT article link and find another Brooklyn gem so that you can say you were a part of the "Brooklyn Culinary Revolution".

The Details-
New York Times Article:

Marlow & Sons:

Summertime Market

Back in Western Michigan and happy to say I've found a great new source for local produce, much of it organic. An adorable little roadside market with more than a modicum of taste and attention to detail (each type of produce has a chalk slate identifying how far it traveled from its farm). So if you're traveling through Saugatuck/Douglas be sure to stop by the Summertime Market on Blue Star Highway to stock up on the bounty of Michigan. Here are the specifics:

And here is something I made with some of their products:

Fresh Watermelon-Tomato Salsa

Quantity Produced: Makes 1 ½ Quarts

Ripe Tomato, Blanched/Peeled/Seeded/Diced 1 Large Tomato (1 ½ Cups)
Ripe Tomato, Diced 1 Large Tomato (1 ½ Cups)
Watermelon, Seeded/Diced 3 Cups, Approximately
Shallot or Red Onion, Julienned 2/3 Cup (1/2 Medium Onion/2 Shallots)
Cucumber, Peeled/Seeded/Diced (Optional) 1 Cup (1/2 Medium Cucumber)
Thai or Serrano Chile, Seeded/Minced 1 /2” Chile
Garlic, Minced 1 Large Clove
Cilantro, Stemmed/Minced ½ Cup
Basil (Purple or Green), Stemmed/Minced ¼ Cup
Lime Juice, Fresh 2 Tablespoons (1 Juicy Lime)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 3 Tablespoons
Salt & Fresh Pepper To Taste

Preparation Procedure-

Combine, mix thoroughly. Keeps 5 days.

Grilling at Altitude

I took a brief sojourn from Saugatuck, Michigan to work an event near the top of the earth in Crested Butte, Colorado. Cooking at over 10,000 feet can be trouble if you're a baker, but for the savory cook, especially one cooking over flame, it's divine. Less oxygen means that your open fire won't flare-up as much and should cook slow and easy, just what you want when preparing large cuts of meat for a big group of people. Here's a recipe from my mountain top event that works just as well at or near sea level. This Grilled Asparagus Salsa Verde goes great with any type of meat, fowl or fish; and is also delicious on its own.

Grilled Asparagus Salsa Verde

Quantity Produced: Makes 3 Cups

Asparagus, Final 1/3 Peeled 1#
Pappadew Peppers, Diced ½ Cup
Pappadew Pepper Brine 1/3 Cup
Capers, Soaked in Cold Water 4oz.
Anchovy, Soaked/Minced 2 Fillets
Shallots, Sliced Thin 2 Small
Garlic, Hand Minced 3 Cloves
Chives, Minced 2 Tablespoons
Italian Parsley, Minced 2 Tablespoons
Extra Virgin Olive Oil ½ Cup
Salt & Fresh Pepper To Taste

Preparation Procedure-

Heat Grill to High. Toss trimmed/peeled asparagus spears with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook on hottest part of the grill until just marked and just barely cooked through. Remove from grill, allow to cool and dice into ½” pieces. Combine with remaining ingredients, mix thoroughly. Keeps 2 days.

Saugatuck Summer

All of a sudden it's July, which means that I'm spending a lot of time on the West side of Michigan in Saugatuck. And the summer doesn't officially start here until I've made my St. Louis Style BBQ Spare Ribs. Here's the recipe, so that while I get to enjoy the lake, cool breeze and stunning sunsets at least you get to have some tasty 'cue. (St. Louis style are spare ribs that have the tips cut off of the rib rack to make for a more rectangular shape and easier cooking).

Kirk's Ginger BBQ Glazed St. Louis Style Spare Ribs

Serves 8

Pork Spare Ribs, Preferably St. Louis-Style 3 Slabs
Favorite Spice Rub ½ Cup
Water or Stock 6 cups

BBQ Sauce: 4+ Cups

Open Pit BBQ Sauce 1 / 14 oz. containter
Soy Sauce ½ Cup
Brown Sugar 1 Cup
Ginger, Peeled/Pureed ½ Cup
Garlic, Minced 3 Tablespoons
Horseradish 3 Tablespoons

Preparation Procedure- Preheat oven to 300˚.
In a large roasting pan place spare ribs, coat with spice rub and surround with water or stock. Cover with parchment and foil. Bake for 2 ½ to 3 hours. Remove from pan, reserve drippings for another use, and allow to cool. Raise temperature on oven to 400˚. Preheat grill to high, when ribs are cool and firm enough to handle place on grill. Cook for 10 per side until the meat caramelizes. Glaze with sauce and cook additional 5 minutes, keeping an eye on the meat so it doesn’t burn. Finish in oven for additional 5 to 10 minutes until sauce glazes meat.

For BBQ sauce, mix ingredients thoroughly and refrigerate. Keeps for up to two weeks.

Whole Hog

I taught an all day "Whole Hog" class a few weeks ago and just liked this picture. But instead of just leaving it at that, I'm also including my recipe for braised fresh bacon (aka. pork belly). Enjoy!

Braised Fresh “Bacon” (aka. Pork Belly)

Quantity Produced: Serves 4 as an Appetizer


Pork Belly, Skin-On 2#
Vegetable Oil As Needed
Kosher Salt & Fresh Black Pepper As Needed

Onion, Peeled/Chopped 1
Carrots, Peeled/Chopped 2
Celery Stalks, Peeled/Chopped 2
Leek, Trimmed/Chopped 1
Garlic Cloves, Peeled/Smashed 2

Chicken Stock 3 Cups

Preparation Procedure: Preheat Oven to 350˚.
Heat oil in large oven proof pan over medium heat. Season pork and add it, fat side down, to pan. Cook until skin is browned, about 15 minutes, then transfer pork to a plate. Pour off all but 2 Tablespoons of the fat, then add vegetables and cook until tender and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes. Return the pork belly to the pan, fat side up, and add about 2 cups of stock. Bring stock to a simmer and transfer the pan to the oven. Cook uncovered for 1 hour, then add other cup of stock. Continue cooking until pork is tender enough to cut with a fork, about 1 hour longer. Allow pork to cool in braising liquid. Remove and discard the skin, then score and cut the pork in equal sized pieces. Increase the oven to 400˚, strain braising liquid, discarding solids and return to the skillet over high heat. Bring liquid to a simmer and skim off fat. Return pork to the skillet, fat side up, to the skillet. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook, without basting until the pork is heated through and nicely browned, about 20 minutes. Serve pork with braising liquid.

Love that Neighborhood.

I've always said that, for me, the thing that truly distinguishes New York City as a restaurant city from other cities around the country (or world for that matter) is the breadth of small, outstanding neighborhood restaurants there. This was especially true when I was in NYC recently and had an opportunity to dine at Frankies Spuntino at 17 Clinton Street on the lower East side. A satellite of another popular restaurant in Brooklyn (Frankies 457), this tiny spot, with probably no more than 20 seats, just happened to have some availability on a Sunday afternoon when the other restaurant we'd been planning to visit was unexpectedly closed. With its succinct Italian influenced menu, rustic decor and the cutest, closet-esque kitchen this chef has ever seen, Frankies was the perfect spot for some Sunday afternoon antipasti, Vino Bianco and pasta. Check out their website for more details and be sure to pick up a can of their fragrant house olive oil (also available at many NYC markets).

The Details-
Frankies Spuntino:

(You must also visit the just opened Highline Park on the Lower West Side, pictured above: )

Philly Cheesesteak with Gravlox?

I posted recently about visiting the premiere Swedish restaurant in NYC, Aquavit, and experiencing their smorgasbord. As a true connoisseur of everything pickled (including herring), I jumped at the opportunity to visit my good friend Chris Van Bergen in Philadelphia recently as he was introducing his world famous smorgasbord in a new springtime setting. Usually associated with winter, or perhaps Sweden where it seems to be winter 10 months of the year, I was happy to find out that the delicacies of smorgasbord (varieties of pickled herring, cured salmon, meatballs, etc.) translate very well to a warmer time of year. Now Chris, an excellent cook, decided to play it safe and stick with the smorgasbord standards ( a slight pun on his profession as a classically trained musician), and thankfully didn't try to introduce any Swedish fusion. Although I did wonder how a combining Philly's most famous food (cheesesteak sandwich) with the staple of smorgasbord (gravlox) would look: Gravlox "Cheesesteak" with Citrus Cured Salmon, Molten Boursin Cheese, Caramelized Scallions on Soft Pumpernickel Hoagie. However, don't look for it on a Traveling Kitchen menu anytime soon.

Here's a great recipe for curing your own Salmon (Gravlox).

Citrus Cured Salmon

Quantity Produced: For 5# Fish Fillet (Extra Can Be Frozen)

Salmon or A. Char Fillet, Skin-on 5 #
Brown Sugar 5 Cups
Kosher Salt 10 Cups
Fennel, Sliced Thin (Bulb + Fronds) 3
Parsley, Minced ½ Cup
Tarragon, Minced (optional) ¼ Cup
Coriander Seed 2/3 Cup
Fennel Seed 2/3 Cup
White Pepper 2 ½ Teaspoons
Lemon Zest 4 Lemons
Orange Zest 3 Oranges
Lime Zest 5 Limes

Preparation Procedure-

Combine fish cure in a large bowl. Cover fish on both sides with cure, make sure to use it all, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours. After 24 hours, drain off liquid that has collected in pan and cure for additional 12 to 24 hours (12 hours for arctic char fillet, 24 for thick salmon fillet). Rinse off cure, pat fish dry with paper towel and refrigerate until ready to slice.

Westchester Wedding

We at Kirk's Traveling Kitchen had a great experience doing an intimate spring wedding in Mount Kisco, New York (right down the road from Martha Stewart's place) in late May. The menu was comprised of many of the best delicacies spring has to offer: leg of local lamb, Wild Salmon, and a melange of Union Square greenmarket veggies. One benefit of doing this event an hour or so outside of NYC was the opportunity to visit one of the most interesting and ground breaking restaurants currently operating on the East coast. Blue Hill at Stone Barns is both an exceptional restaurant and working organic farm (Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture), located on a portion of the former Rockefeller estate in Pocantico Hills. Taking a page from previous groundbreaking farm to table restaurants like Chez Panisse, all of the food prepared at BHSB is from local farmers/ranchers. The big difference though is that BHSB actually GROWS its own produce and RAISES its own livestock. One of the advantages (or disadvantages depending on your dining perspective) is that there are no menus at BHSB. You get what is best on that day, which makes for a fun and relaxing way to dine in my book. For disciples of local eating, actually having the opportunity to see the produce you'll be consuming or perhaps pet the animal that will grace your plate at dinner is pretty cool. Whether or not you find this type of experience exhilarating or freaky, you'll have to admit it certainly beats the average grocery store experience of cryovaced vegetables and pale meat wrapped in plastic on foam trays.

Here are the links to everything Stone Barns-
Blue Hill at Stone Barns:
Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture:

Here's a great Lamb Recipe for spring or summer.

Grilled Leg of Lamb Provencal

Quantity Produced: Serves 4-6

Leg of Lamb, Boneless 1 / 6-7# Leg
Garlic Cloves, Peeled 12-16 Peeled
Sea Salt 2 Teaspoons
Fresh Black Pepper 3-4 Teaspoons
Fresh Rosemary 2 Sprigs, Trimmed
Olive Oil ¾ Cup
Herbs de Provence 1-2 Teaspoons
Fresh Mint 4-6 Leaves

Preparation Procedure-
Place leg of lamb with the fat side up. Cut 6-8 deep slits in top. Insert garlic cloves into each slit. Dust with 2 teaspoons sea salt. Dust liberally with 2 or 3 teaspoons pepper. Insert 2 pieces of fresh rosemary into the same slits that you cut into the lamb earlier. Coat entire surface of the lamb with olive oil. Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons Herbs De Provence. Also add a few pieces of fresh mint into each slit.

Cook over indirect heat on your covered grill - approx. 10 minute per pound, until done.