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Off and rolling…..right into spring.

21 Feb

We thought we’d celebrate spring with a March 16th FMC. Once we have a group of eight we will vote on the theme.

Finally, we’re back!!

28 Jan

For whatever reason it’s been a busy season since our last post and we are indeed still a bit behind in our updates of past events.  In order not to delay any longer we’ve decided to put out an event for February 16th.  You know the routine.  Lets round up a cast of characters and banter about a theme.

Looking forward to renewing the FMC in 2013.

Francine

Tar Beach

22 Jul

Thanks to everyone for a spectacular evening. The food was amazing, the portion sizes right on, and your company most enjoyable. Enjoy the rest of the summer.

Episode #10: The Oscars

5 Apr

Hi Folks… I know this is long over due.  Life has been a little crazy in our world.  I would love to have an FMC this month (April)  before we  change seasons but Im not sure that will happen before summer is in full swing.  Aside from that, we have had a few great foodie series that I hope everyone will enjoy.  Here are the going ons…..

February theme….the Oscars.  Create a dish as a spin off from a film of your choice.

Let me introduce you to some new players….

Andy and Tina

Andy was responsible for snacks and cocktails.  He started off the evening presenting us with a golden oscar award of salmon mousse covered with sesame seeds upon a base of paté.

And for those trashy films that never made it to the oscars; well, they received Oscar the Grouch consisting of polenta topped with dates, black olives, and a little red pepper

The cocktail consisted of punch ginger ale made with simple syrup, absinth, and hand squeezed calamondin juice from a tree that Andy and Tina have growing in their apartment.

The evening was off to a great start.

Next up…Lisa with appetizers.

Lisa worked off the film Julie and Julia and made an amazing gougéres, parmigiano puffed pastry.  This is Julia Child’s recipe Lisa always wanted to try.  She paired the gougére with an Ina Garten tomato-basal soup.

The beverage was a chilled Cava.

Julia Child would have been proud.  The gougéres were delicious……and so was the soup

For the table, instead of bread, JDavid made Soylent Green crackers with spinach and spirulina.  (Check out the clip — I think he got the color just right.

Tastes like grandmas!

Next, Alicia made a soup dish consisting of tea-smoked duck over rice noodles.  The idea was conjured up by combining two movies; Marx brothers’ 1933 movie Duck Soup

and the film Enter the Dragon representing the Chinese year of the dragon.

Paired with a glass of sake.

Our first main course was a tribute to every zombie movie ever made.  Brian incorporated the fine art of creative brioche toast carving, creating a  fist coming out of a grave of finely prepared beef tartar paired with a watercress salad.

The process….

The final product:

Paired with

Impressive!

Our second main course was a Silence of the Lamb.  Lamb meatloaf with a yogurt-mint sauce prepared by me (Francine).

Not so aesthetically appealing but it did get eaten.

The pairing was a Greek white wine.

David presented his version of the film Ratatouille, following the actual Thomas Keller recipe developed for the film… here’s a nice video that melds a how-to recipe with some clips from the film:

Technically, it’s a Confit Byaldi

paired with a simple red table wine from the south of France

Next up was Tina’s dish, our 3rd main course representing  the conflict featured in the move The Help. Her dish was symbolic of “saucy, crabby white folks”: Filet Oscar

The prep work.

Here is what it looked like plated:

No meals complete without that last course called desert.

Richard imagined a play on French new wave film and a late night early morning breakfast with the likes of  Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Claude Chabrol in his creation of a decadent blueberry french toast paired with a steaming cup of coffee.

I would like to thank Andy, Lisa, Alicia, Brian, David, Tina, and Richard for another great FMC.  Thank you to the academy for generating this event.   I would also like to thank past participants and future participants for keeping this social foodie idea afloat.    Finally, A big thank you to all of you who continue to hold an interest in this ongoing blog in spite of the delays in posting.  Thank you to all and have a good night.

Episode #9: The culinary pursuit of world peace

15 Jan

The pursuit of world peace through the cultural blending of cuisines from different regions really put culinary skills to the test. This was a theme and a challenge I was trying to avoid because of my perceived lack of creativity in possibly turning out a dish that anyone could bring themselves to taste let alone enjoy.  In the end, this was an evening filled with one fused culinary surprise after another.  It was an explosion of flavors  in your mouth that you wouldn’t necessarily think would work together but we made it happen and had a great time attempting to create  a palate of world peace.

Joanna was first up with snacks and drinks.  Here’s how she pulled it together.

World peace, at last! I waited a long time for world peace.  Well, I have to say, it looked a bit more like world anarchy on my counter Saturday morning.  Dried galangal, saffron, chickpeas, coriander seed, mint, lemongrass, banana leaves…a whole aresenal of spices.  Could these all make sense somehow?

I was assigned snacks and cocktails that were to feature the cuisine of Afghani and Thai.  Out of all the cuisines assigned, these two were located not too far from each other.  There were definitely some common denominators.  The biggest challenge for me in this was making small bites.  I usually do well with bigger portions and I felt that snacks ruled alot out.  I wanted something fun to eat as well.  Honestly, even two days before the big event, I still didn’t know what I was going to make but then it all came together.

I have never eaten at an Afghani restaurant and had no familiarity with Afghani food.  I assumed there must be some middle eastern influences.   Through some internet research, I found a cuisine very meat heavy, typical middle eastern spices and rice seemed to be very important in their dishes. Lots of Indian influences but not much Thai. I kept seeing recipes for a type of Afghani dumpling but thought it too heavy for a snack.  Then I saw the meatballs, kofta.  Kofta are a very common start to the meal in Afghani cuisine.  Perfect.  I decide to use ground lamb, as lamb is very common.  Usually the kofta are served with a tomato based sauce.  I instantly thought of thai red curry.

Thai cuisine is something more familiar for me.  I have made curries in the past and was very familiar with the flavor profiles in Thai cuisine.  I really had no idea how a red cocomut curry sauce would pair with a meatball though.  I made the paste on a Friday night to allow time for the flavors to develop a bit.  I used shallot, garlic, dried galangal, fresh ginger, a bit of fresh tumeric root, grated kaffir lime rind, lemongrass and of course rehydrated thai red bird chiles.  To obtain the perfect blend I mixed all the ingredients in a food processor then threw them in a jar to do their thing.

The next day I made the meatballs and fried them up.  I came up with my own recipe after reading through several on the internet.  I used lots of freshly toasted & ground coriander seeds and lots of fresh coriander as well.  I found a kofta spice packet at Kalustyans market and put some of that in the mix as well.  The end result was some tasty balls.

I fried up some onions in another pan then added my curry paste frying it for a little bit before I added some coconut milk.  I adjusted the sesoning a bit and left it to simmer.  I dipped one of the balls into the curry, nervous that the flavors would be so off together, but they married wonderfully! World peace right in the pot!!

To serve, I used a banana leaf on a plate to represent Thailand.  I put the meatballs into the curry sauce and placed them on the banana leaf.  I drizzled some sauce on top and served them with long toothpicks to resemble kabobs representative of Afghanistan.   I garnished with a little fresh coriander which can be found in both cuisines.

I felt meatballs and sauce were a bit lackluster and perhaps not enough for a snack.  I remember a while back seeing a recipe for fried chickpeas that I always wanted to try.  Chickpeas are a staple in all middle eastern cultures.  I had some chickpeas in the  cabinet so I soaked  them on Friday night.  The next day I cooked them up a bit, dried them very well and then roasted them in the oven for about 35 minutes.  After that, I placed them in  a hot pan with oil for a quick fry.  I added a spice mixture of thai spices, lemongrass, and the kofta seasoning packet I had. It needed a bit of sweetness so I added sugar and salt.  They crisped up perfectly and tasted delicious.

Now for the cocktail. This was a big challenge.  I thought of thai iced tea and looked up Afghani teas.  I decided to do a riff on a fusion of the two.  It ended up being more like an Indian chai tea, I think but that’s ok.  I combined Assam tea and steeped it in boiling water with cinnamon sticks, star anise, clove, peppercorns, green cardamon & sliced fresh ginger.  Much to my dismay, all of the recipes for thai iced tea called for sweetened, condensed milk.  This is something I never use, for me it falls into the ‘bad’ food category with things like corn syrup and crisco.  I was shocked to even find it in whole foods so I painfully bought it and when I added it to the tea mixture it was delicious! It was very sweet, so I only added a little honey.  On site at the FMC, I added vodka and served the drink shaken over ice. I floated a star anise on top because it finished off the drink beautifully.    I was surprised at how well the chai tea cocktail went with the meatballs.

I also made a salty yogurt drink very typical in Afghani cuisine.  It’s called dough.  It’s supposed to cool down the heat of the food or the heat of your body.  Well, it was kind of warm that winter day at around 50 degrees….not really the heat they have in Afghanistan but I decided it would be fun to try.  On site, I mixed together plain yogurt, water, cucumber, mint, and salt.  Mixed it up and served.   I wanted to float mint leaves on top but I was happy just to get my meatballs out and served with the cocktails!  I arrived to the FMC, later than I wanted, to a kitchen full of busy and hungry prepping chefs.  I was happy just to be able to quickly feed them..

Next up appetizer…..compliments of our visiting French chef Laurent

Laurent combined the cuisines of Morocco and Germany.  After  two days of  intense  research on the internet, Laurent came up with the idea to prepare a famous Moroccan appetizer “Briouates au poulet safrane” (samosa with saffron chicken) placing this mixture in a traditional German strudel that is nothing more than a puff pastry.

From a historical standpoint, the strudel is an Austrian pastry whose origin is from the Orient, and imported into the Danube after the Byzantine conquest of 1453 but used so much in German cooking that it became a specialty from this country.  The most famous is the “Apfelstrudel” made with apples and served with whipped creame.  It was recenty immortalized in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds with the now famous replica of Christopher Waltz, “wait for the cream!”  The strudel can also be prepared as a savoury dish prepared in Germany as a main course with ground beef (Fleischstrudel) or with vegetables (Gemusestrudel).

Laurent prepared two sauces one reflective of a typical moroccan sauce with mint and coriander in an olive oil base and a German beer sauce.  The beer sauce was essentially a beurre blanc sauce substituting  beer for the wine,  For the paired drink, same idea, a German beer and a soft drink from Morroco called “Assir mehlabat” which is basically a milky drink with almonds and avocado.

 Joanna and Laurant

Moving onto our next course: Soupe Aztec combing ingredients from Mexico and France.

Nina prepared her soup with chiles ancho and chipotles, lime, and a nice tomato base.  The soup was served with minced  avocado and toasted crisp chiles. Instead of queso fresco; creme fraiche and small cubes of french cheese.  A warm crisp baguette replaced warm tortillas.  This fabulous soup was paired with an amazing Sausa tequila anejo

Delicious!

Our first main course involved a second run in between Greece and China.   The first being China’s financial bail out of Greece [inside joke;) ].  You can just imagine the peacemaking going on here.

David negotiated an agreement between the two countries, using Greek ingredients but incorporating Chinese cooking techniques.

First: the Chinese tea egg:

David Added a twist to the featured Chinese tea egg, as it appeared in the January issue of Saveur Magazine (how convenient; thank you).  The twist, was to substitute Greek ingredients in the marinade: Greek coffee for the Chinese tea, anchovy for the soy sauce, ouzo for the anise, plus some sugar, salt, balsalmic, smoke, cinnamon and  cayenne.

This was served alongside stir-fried rosemary lamb, eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, red pepper, onion, fresh oregano with a garnish of super-firm tofu cubes,

along with a side of orzo, lemon zest, olives, parsley, and feta cheese cubes packed in a mini Chinese take-out container — blue, like the Greek flag.

Our first main course was served with a glass of ouzo.

We transitioned into the next main course via an amuse bouche provided by  Kiri’s thoughtful culinary fusion between Italy and Tanzania.

The century-old conflict between Tanzania and Italy was resolved amicably under a micro-pizza palm tree. Chapatti dough (homage to simple breads and strong Indian influence in Tanzanian cooking) with added cumin and cardamon (for the Zanzibar spice route) topped with combined tropical (banana and coconut) and Italian (goat’s cheese, pinenuts and pepperdew) with Italian coconuts….

this tropical delight was paired with an Italian Prosecco, garnished with a “chicken’s foot” candy corn, and tanzanian (jelly) beans

PJ was up with our second main course transversing the globe to Spain and Iran she prepared a Spanish paella incorporating the flavors of orange and figs representative of  Iran. More details to follow

paired with a Spanish Rioja

My salad and/or side was to combine the cuisines of Korea and Britain.

I chose to take a familiar dish with different references in Britian, Scotland, and Ireland.  The British reference the dish as Bubble and Squeak, the Scotish as Rumbledethumps, and the Irish as Colcannon. The dish is a side of potatoes that are mashed and mixed with LOTS of butter and warm milk with the final addition of  cabbage (the Irish version).

I chose to follow the recipe substituting the cabbage with my own homemade Kimchi.  I then created a dumpling filled with the colcannon/kimchi mixture.

All of this was served over a english cucumber cilantro salad dressed with rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, chili pepper flake dressing and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. The final result…..

Paired with a Scotish IPA mixed with a shot of Korean Soju

Guy prepared our next main course representative of India and Norway…….

Meatballs with toasted almonds and cardamon.  Hopefully, more details to follow in regards to the sauce. Paired with Four Vines Zinfandel.

Our last main course hailed from Japan and Jamaica prepared by Cassie.  Cassie prepared a plantain pancake topped with pan seared tuna marinated in a Jamaican rub.  (hopefully, further details on the rub to follow)


Paired with a bottle of Saki

and finally………desert combining the flavors of Europe and the food delivery system of Ethiopia

After an extensive google search, it turns out that deserts don’t seem to exist in Ethiopia.  Marc opted to utilize the fruit that  most eastern Europeans can come by; the apple.  He prepared crepes that were utilized as a tool to scoop up the apple crumble enabling you to enjoy your desert utilizing your hands as flatware.

Episode #8: Trick or Treat

21 Nov

Our halloween evening got off with a bit of a twist.  Once everyone had gathered, they were notified of David’s planned trick of the evening.

It was a quick bait and switch.  Each couple had to select one person from their team and, on the basis of a coin flip, that person stayed with their original dish while the other got paired with a different course.  The names of all those determined to move on were placed in a hat and then paired with each course down the line: snacks and drinks, course#1, course #2, course #3, course #4, and desert.  Essentially one part of the team would be preparing the dish on the fly with the help of one member of the home team.

Here is what it looked like.

First up:

Snacks/appetizer and cocktails originally by Valeria and Ken.

and

with the help of Caroline; see her there in the background……

the final product: mushroom terrine and finger bread sticks paired with a scaratini (Saki and Lychee eyeball)

Anyone with a photo of the scaratini feel free to post it up here.

Moving onto the first course was a pureed “candy corn” soup created by Caroline and Stuart

with the bait switch including J. David.

pureed tomatoes, corn, and butternut squash with a dab of creme fraiche paired with a pumpkin ale

Caroline:

and Stuart

Oh….and in case you forgot what that candy corn looked like…

Soup was followed by homemade gargati (made with the torchio press) with  shrimp flambeéd in a Strega reduction sauce, The ‘Imposter” (Richard) lending a huge hand in pulling this dish off.

The Pasta Maker-great costume huh….

Because we were 12, we had to set up a separate table for two that rotated a different couple each course.  There’s the dish — half the gargati were made with squid ink.

The pairing: Werewolf to fight off the vampires…..

The name

Strega is the Italian word for “witch” and since legends of witchcraft at Benevento date back to the time of the Lombard invasion, it was a natural choice of name for the liqueur. The liqueur is sometimes called “the witch” in the English-speaking world.

Next up: The Guests of Honor

Lamb meatball spider in a squid-ink yogurt garlic cobweb

That scary creature…..

was compliments of our visiting Pittsburgh Chefs: Jim & Celeste

with a helping hand from our FMC rookie Ken

paired with a sparkling Shiraz: “Goose bumps”

Ohhh and then that quadruple-D… death, decay, destruction, and decadent fois gras BLT

by Alicia and Richard

with a hand from Celeste

my apologies but you will have to help me out with the wine pairing here. [There were two — a Vouvray, and…another white? -d]

I can’t think of a better way to end this halloween evening other then by……death by chocolate

This masterpiece was constructed by Lisa and Brian

Served in a seabed of orange cotton candy (can’t think of a fonder childhood memory)

and paired with a Ramos gin fizz

A bountiful october-fest, enjoyed by all.

The End…

with special thanks to our guest appearance..

Vito

my family

and Richard for the special halloween armband graphics of FMC triple D (death, decay, destruction)

If anyone wants to post photos of the episode or a description of your dish — ingredients, sources, inspiration, recipes, etc — just email it to David or Francine and we’ll post it up.

PS: all the photos we took are in a gallery here, and linked in the list of Photos from episodes past way up there on the right–>

PPS: Any ideas for Number 9?

FMC goes to the beach; June 23 2011

23 Oct

Well I hope everyone has had a great summer.  It’s hard to believe that we are just a few weeks away from daylight savings and turning back the clocks to head into another winter season.  The extraordinary delay in our posting the FMC beach extravaganza, I am happy to say, is reflective of another adventurous summer time tale.

Our beach time FMC was a great way to share some family fun.  Everyone’s eagerness to participate in the evenings events will become clear in the photos that follow.

But just in case you had some idea that we weren’t taking this seriously:

I hope that notion will be completely washed away by the R& D that went into this event the days beforehand….

Just to lighten things up a bit someone thought about bringing along the skinny girl from Long Island

ideas and recipes pulled together we’re ready to get rolling; lucky for us we had a big enough working space to let everyone get in on the mix at once.

As you may or may not remember, we had divided up into five teams of three; each assigned to a course of appetizers, salad, main course (of which there were two), and desert. .  I had encouraged everyone to come up with a beach theme team name.  Here are the outcomes.

Team #3: Appetizers were assigned to the sand pipers and consisted of a recipe of mango salsa substituting the mango for an abundant  local flavor of peaches

The final product

The Sandpipers

Next up the first main course with team #2: the High Tide Drifters but first some prep work to do…FOCUS

Putting the pieces together and everyone lending a hand

Just remembering to have some fun

Ready to do some grilling but wait….where’s my taste test?

First main course coming right up.

Thanks to the High Tide Drifters: Pineapple and shrimp and chicken skewers (got to remember the kids you know).

Seafood seemed to be the beach theme give away with some minor variations to accommodate the palate of our younger guests.  The second main course was a combination of two recipes.

Fresh caught cod, compliments of my father’s spring Maine fishing trip, brought in from Pennsylvania and incorporated into my sister’s dish of cod with a pesto sauce.

The other half of the plate was grilled scallops with homemade aioli (with “chicken scallop” substitution for the kids).  A recipe researched extensively by my brother prior to the execution.

The kids “chicken scallop” substitution

Can you tell the difference?

Everyone lent a hand in pulling it together

Just having fun

Oh the culinary lessons he is learning

The grilling

The line up

about those green beans….

contribution of the master of presentation

and apparently recruitment

the final product:

Bravo  Team Sunset

Next up: Salad

Hey where is  the apple in that salad?

Thank you team Viciousandelicious.

and finally dessert…..compliments of noone else but the lovely Ms.Caileanna

That’s right……homemade chocolate pudding and whipped creame with fresh strawberries and cinnamon pita chips.

Thank you beach monkies

What stands out most to me in our FMC beach foodie event is the way in which everyone pulled together to make this such a fun filled evening.  Everyone gathered around the kitchen, got their hands in the mix, and made things happen from beginning to end.

It is with heartfelt gratitude that I thank my family for taking a sincere interest in a passion that David and I share.  I can only hope that you had as much fun as we shared with you.

A chill is in the air; let’s fall into a new FMC season.

4 Oct

Here is the proposal.  The original co-founders of FMC will be in NYC the weekend of October 28-31.

I say it’s a perfect time to get the season up and rolling.  Let’s set the date for Saturday October 29th.  Review the themes, throw a few new ones in the basket, place your vote, and let’s get the season rolling.  Any takers?  Four seats up for grab.

The game is on

18 Jun

After a brief discussion with David on the phone this afternoon we decided to design the beach feed me collective in this way.  Everyones name is placed in a hat, kids included, and five teams of three will be randomly drawn.  Each team will randomly be assigned one of five courses: appetizer, salad, a main course of which there will be two, or desert. Tentatively, we will plan on the event being held on Thursday June 23rd.

Each team should think up a team name related to the beach theme.  If you don’t like the course you are assigned you may switch with another team but all team members must agree on the switch.  Everyone must participate.  Collaboration with one another is allowed.  Remember this is suppose to be fun!!!

Roll of the drum…….here are the teams

Team #1:  Main Course

David, Mark, and Rene

Team #2: Main Course

Shawn, Nathan, and Lucky

Team #3: Appetizers

Cheryl, Matthew, and Helen

Team #4: Desert

Francine, Harry, and Caileanna

Team #5: Salad

Frank, Michelle, and Nick

FMC goes to the beach

12 Jun

Well.  My family has decided they want to get in on the fun.  We will be traveling to the outer banks on June 20th and hope to throw a family FMC beach event sometime during the week.  Please feel free to post up any idea themes into the mix.  We hope to keep this one real casual. Will post up when we get back.

wish you were here

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