CHoWline: The Rise of Tea Culture in China

This review appeared in the December 2018/January 2019 issue of CHowline, the monthly newsletter of the Culinary Historians of Washington, DC. The book is a deep and detailed look at how tea became a marker of refinement and connoisseurship in China, much as we use fashion, food, and travel as markers today.

Join CHoW, either online or at a meeting! We’d love to hear your food stories!



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CHoWline–Dessert, A Tale of Happy Endings

Dessert has a long history, even though it wasn’t always dessert. It began as an in-between course, meant to delight the eye and spark the palate. In some forms, it was even considered medicinal–an aid to digestion and a way to balance humors. In Dessert, A Tale of Happy Endings, culinary historian Jeri Quinzio, explores dessert in all its forms.

This review appeared in the November issue of CHoWline, the monthly newsletter of the Culinary Historians of Washington, D.C. Join us at a meeting, online, or by subscribing to the newsletter!

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Southern Snacks

cover image

Southern Snacks by Perre Coleman Magness, UNC Press 2018, hardback $30.00, 184 pages

I’ve conditioned myself to believe that almonds are a completely delicious snack, and that they don’t taste like paper or get stuck in the back of my mouth.

Jake Tapper

Stop gnawing on almonds and get out the butter! And shrimp, tenderloin, bacon, and pecans.

Whether you’re serving Thanksgiving starters, front porch snacks, or holiday cocktails, these are recipes sure to tempt.

Everyone should have a reliable cheese straw recipe in their back pocket. With a ready-to-cut roll of Cheese Crispies (secret ingredient–Rice Krispies) in the freezer, you can have cocktails underway in twenty minutes. Or make the elegant and irresistible Traditional Cheese Straws, piped from your cookie press. Or make them extra Southern with the additional of chopped pecans. The recipes are similar, just varying in their amounts of butter and flour, and simple.

The recipes go on from there, shifting in complexity of flavors and elegance in choices like Crab Cakes with Artichoke Tartar Sauce and Venison Bruschetta with Cumberland Gap Sauce, an inspired riff on British Cumberland Sauce, made southern with Bourbon and blackberry preserves.

The flavors are Southern-inspired. Sweet Tea shows up in toasted pecans and brined pork. Buttermilk adds some tang to dips and sauces. There’s country ham, visalia onions, pickapeppa sauce, and collards. You can opt for the classics, beyond cheese straws– Benedictine dip, Kentucky Hot Brown Bites, and Cajun Popcorn–or for new combinations like Corn Fritters with Spicy Honey, Muffuletta Salsa, or Barbecue Rilettes.

And because food tastes better in context, Magness offers sidebars on Southern staples. He speculates that Ro-tel canned tomatoes and green chiles stirred into melted into Velveeta are served more often, in more places than we care to admit. And everyone loves it. He describes ham dust, directs you in making a stovetop smoker, and offers various ways to serve barbecue–nachos, sliders and pizza. But most importantly, he links the foods to the rituals. Sometimes it’s as formal as Derby Day dishes including Benedictine and Kentucky Beer Cheese, and other times it’s as simple as his Uncle Bill’s shelled peanuts roasted in butter and salt.

Richness and ritual, both make these recipes savory and generous.



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CHoWline–New Art of Cookery by Juan Altamiras

This review appeared in the October 2018 issue of CHoWline, the newsletter of the Culinary Historians of Washington, DC. Juan Altamiras was the pen name of the Spanish friar who published his recipes in 1745. But never mind that date, as author Vicky Hayward points out, the recipes have a remarkably modern cast–local and seasonal ingredients, simple preparations, and an attention to not wasting food. New Art’s recipes were used to feed the poor who relied on the friary to survive as well as church officials–cooking high and low.

Join us at CHoW for more connections at the table through time!

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Bread & Beauty–Dining on the Farm

It’s a Maker’s Meal


Shepherd’s Hey Farm


October 13!

Chef Ben Ritter of Watershed Cafe will be cooking recipes from the book using local produce from our friends at Plow & Stars Farm.

We’ll be joined by Lady Farmer, Soled Lavender Farm, Banner Bee Company, Twin Valley Distillers, Rocklands Farm, Sungold Flower Co, and more.

Get your tickets for a perfect farm evening!

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Game, the Chef’s Field to Table Cookbook


Game, the Chef’s Field to Table Cookbook by the Editors of Covey Rise magazine, Welcome Books 2018, hardcover $45.00, 288 pages

If I can’t be fishing or hunting, I want to be in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Jim Harrison

Hunting can be a fraught topic. Some of my most favorite and least favorite people seem to do it. But if it is done honorably (not a la Cheney) hunters can be stewards of land and wildlife. As the editor of Covey Rise magazine, John Thames, writes, stewardship of “wild birds in wild places.”

It requires an attentiveness to the land and the season, as Chef Chris Hastings writes, “a knowledge of the moment you’re in.” Finally, a good hunter, like Thames’ grandfather, will waste nothing, dressing the catch and eating there or sharing it with someone who will.

Most of us have limited experience with wild food—maybe some venison ground for chili. A friend once gave me some rabbit that he hunted mostly because he loved to run his dogs. That became a rabbit pie served to a selected group of diners who could banish bunny thoughts. Another friend shared a haunch of wild boar that we researched before cooking, serving it with a Cumberland Sauce.

Game, which in this book includes gamebirds, but also fish, boar, rabbit, elk, and foraged ingredients like morels and reindeer moss, is a rare and wonderful thing. It can’t be heedlessly cooked like supermarket meat and this book will help you make the most of it offering techniques for cleaning and cooking it in earthy and elegant recipes. It will guide you in truly honoring the animal.

The book begins with the recounting of a Swamp Supper, the kind of party you dream about being invited to. An 80-year tradition, wild game meal for 200, centered on the burgoo-like Swamp Stew, where the gender divide still rules. Ladies contribute pies and cakes, men man the fire. Though, Lou Dailey makes cornbread muffins for 200 by starting with 30 pounds of self-rising cornmeal–nothing dainty about that.

The recipes, some gathered from chefs like Frank Stitt, David Guas, and Dean Fearing, have a certain character–big flavors like Elk Vindaloo, and Gamebird Posole Soup. They layer sweet, tart, and earthy flavors in a recipe like Pheasant on Red Cabbage and Cranberries with Roasted Vegetables and Wilted Spinach. Even if you had to substitute chicken, this sounds good.

The recipes feature alcohol, in Red Wine Gravy and Pheasant Applejack. Even the sides, like Aunt Esta’s Dinner Rolls, which are cooked in a skillet or the texture and slight bitterness of a wintery Chicories, Apples and Pecan salad, make themselves known. Desserts, like Fire Roasted Pineapple with Rum or Banana Sandie (kind of a sweet hobo pack) take advantage of the campfire and others, like Spiced Molasses Pound Cake or Grandma’s Wyoming Whoppers go all out for flavor–chocolate and spice.

Even without a ranch or a gun, with some creative provisioning, you can still capture field flavors.



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Eataly: All About Pasta, A Complete Guide with Recipes

Eataly, All About Pasta, A Complete Guide with Recipes by Natalie Danford and Francesco Sapienza, Rizzoli 2018, 176 pages $25.00

Life is a combination of magic and pasta.

Federico Fellini

And there’s nothing magic about making pasta. Once you’ve learned a few techniques that work for your pots and your kitchen, you can make delicious pasta from almost anything.

But why not become a pasta conjurer and master the techniques of twisting agnolotti into little rings, fluffing delicate noodles into nests, and pinching a plate-sized raviolo?

And why not learn from Eataly–the experts in all edibles Italian? This book records regional differences and catalogs the shapes and sauces of Pasta Secca, Pasta Fresca, and Pasta Ripieni–dried, fresh, and stuffed pastas.

Pasta Secca is made of nothing more than semolina wheat flour and water. It is “a modernized pasta” first made in the Neapolitan town of Gragnano in 1842. Its extruded shapes are versatile, convenient, satisfying, and inexpensive. Pasta Secca recipes start with the iconic Spaghetti al Pomodoro, but turn the page to learn the secrets of flavor–olives, sea salt, bottarga, anchovies, dried tomato, and the modern equivalent of ancient garum, colatura. Add these to your pantry for simple but brilliant dishes.

Photos of Pasta Fresca and Ripieni will guide you to a translucent dough that drapes like linen and can be pinched into pansotti, cappelletti, ravioli, agnolotti, and mezzelune. recipes will have you serving them simply in broth or with lush and nuanced fillings of meat, vegetables, and cheese.

Each chapter introduces shapes and styles, then pairs them in classic recipes like Pasta alla Norma, Tagliatelle alla Bolognese, and cheesy Ravioli Magri. The recipes then move on to   intriguingly unfamiliar dishes like Couscous alla Trapana, and Vincigrassi, and beet stuffed Casunziei.

Throughout the book, sidebars add to your expertise on topics including pesto, “final touch” flavorings, unique vegetables like nettles and wild asparagus, the textures and flavors of different flours and grains.

It’s like having a Nonna who can share the way she always done things to get her perfect results. And with a Nonna’s efficiency, the book sweeps aside those stupid stereotypes like adding oil to the water, throwing cooked pasta at the wall, and serving it in a soupy sauce. Please, don’t break the pasta to fit it in the pot! Just follow these simple techniques and your palate for a perfect pasta.





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