Tag Archives: gourmet

Quince – Sweet Briar Herb Farm

Indeed, it has been quite a while since I’ve last posted.

My wife Kaitlyn and I recently moved out to Washington to work on an organic farm. I currently sit inside Olympia Coffee Roasters, enjoying the smells and atmosphere, and am excited to share the first in a series of videos Kaitlyn and I will be producing for our own enjoyment as well as the forthcoming Sweet Briar website.

This video is about a recent harvest of Quince, a hard, sour, tree-growing fall fruit that must be cooked in order to be edible.

Enjoy!

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One Year (plus a few days)

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I realised a few days late that I’ve been working on this blog for a year and nearly six days. When I started this blog I simply intended to write about the experience of eating and the communal implications that accompany the meal. After finishing my Theology degree with a nine month long project on the theology of food and eating, the communal meal has become so much more than a bite to eat with friends or, as incredible as it is, a time to build relationships with others. The ethos of the communal meal, and I mean a community that extends beyond the immediate table members as well and particularly, has become a way of life for me that is ever expanding, holistic, and encompasses all areas of life.

I have eaten at many delicious restaurants this year, cooked many incredible foods, made lots of culinary mistakes and many successes as well. I’ve gone vegan, decided to pursue the tiny house lifestyle with Kaitlyn, and have set many goals for ourselves that emphasise a communal bonding that, for me personally, simply started at the table.

Thinking before you chew can be quite the dangerous exercise.

Thanks to anyone who actually read this blog this year! It is greatly appreciated. More posts soon to come!

~Cooper

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Communio Sanctorum: The Theology of Food

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Hello everyone. It is my distinct pleasure to announce that my senior research project, the culmination of my four years of higher education, is complete. I started this blog almost a year ago with the intent to write not only about my adventures with food, experiments with recipes, and the overall wonder that cuisine incites in me, but also to describe the theological, philosophical, and spiritual implications of eating. I began my research project with the desire to write about “the Theology of Food” in relationship to the church sacrament of the Eucharist (or the Last Supper). Over the course of nearly nine months of work it evolved into an intensive study on sacramental eating, church practise, and agrarianism.

It is therefore my distinct honour to present to you for your intellectual pleasure my theological studies thesis dissertation entitled “Communio Sanctorum: Sacramental Eating for the Body of Christ in an Industrial Age.” In this dissertation I place theologians Norman Wirzba and John Howard Yoder in dialoge to assert that churches must adopt ‘sacramental’ eating habits in order to embody the mission established by Jesus in his exemplary life.

Note: this is quite long. If you like reading long stuff, eat this up. But if not, don’t start reading it. Also, ©2013 Cooper Flatoff. Yeah. You’ve been warned. One more thing: special thanks to Norman Wirzba (who actually emailed me!) and, rest his soul, John Howard Yoder. You guys wrock theology hardcore.

Here we go.

ATTENTION: I HAVE REMOVED THE CONTENT OF MY PAPER FROM THE INTERNET DUE TO MY OWN PARANOIA THAT SOMEONE IS GOING TO JACK IT AND COME UP WITH A BETTER IDEA, THEREBY BEING EVIL. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO READ IT, PLEASE VISIT THE CONTACT PAGE AND SEND ME AN EMAIL. THANKS!

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Genmaicha Soup

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I love Japanese food (especially sushi). The subtle, clean, simple, and light flavours present in most Japanese food can be tricky to balance and easily overpowered by a heavy-handed dose of seasoning.

I am also a connoisseur of teas. You might remember my post about one of my favourites, the Dan Cong Honey Orchid Oolong. However, my general favourite tea is Genmaicha because it is, like Japanese food, simple and clean, but maintains a slightly rich and comforting flavour. ‘Genmaicha’ translates to ‘poor man’s tea,’ wich is appropriate since I have not the funds to frequently access the Dan Cong Honey Orchid.

One of my favourite parts of the meal at a typical high-end Japanese sushi bar or steak house is the beginning. Its great to start the meal with delicious broth soup. You know, the one with the thinly sliced green onions and mushrooms floating in the rich, amber liquid. Sometimes you’ll find tofu or rice noodles as well.

Well, I decided that Genmaicha, a more savory variety of green tea (sencha green with toasted brown rice) might work very well as the broth base for a simple and delicious Japanese soup.

Here’s what I did:

INGREDIENTS
Vermicelli noodles
Brown or Arborio rice (I used Arborio)
Green Onions (Scallions)
Mushrooms
Green Tea
Salt to taste
(whoa! SO SIMPLE)

PROCESS
1.Slice thinly the green part of the scallions. Its up to you how much you want to use. More slices will add a richer flavour to the soup.
2. Slice thinly the mushrooms. I kept two thin slices as ‘garnish’ and chopped about half of the shroom.
3. Place uncooked vermicelli noodles in a personal bowl (if serving more people you can just get a bigger bowl and increase the amount of ingredients) with chopped shrooms.
4. Put about 3-5 tbsp (or more, depending on how much of the flavour you want; I recommend more so the delicious, nutty, toasted flavour is more prevalent in your soup) of your rice in a dry sauce pan. Toast until golden brown.
5. Add enough water to fill your bowl to the rice in the sauce pan. Boil for a bit to infuse flavour of toasted rice.
6. Stick a green tea bag (or an infuser with loose-leaf green tea – if you alread have Genmaicha skip the toasted rice step) in your bowl with the vermicelli and the chopped shrooms. Pour the boiling rice water over the noodles in the bowl. Immediately garnish with scallion and the shroom slices.
7. Add a decent amount of salt to taste – I think I used about a 1/3-1/2 tsp for my little bowl.
8. Let sit for a bit so the noodles can cook and absorb the flavour and so you don’t burn your face off when you try to eat it. Then sit down and have a snack AND afternoon tea at the same time!!!

I apologise for the inexact nature of this recipe. I was simply experimenting and came up with this without ever having made the original Japanese style soup recipe. Next time I am going to try it with some small fried tofu cubes.

This recipe is very simple, delicious, and takes little time to make. I recommend as an appetiser or as an afternoon snack, or even breakfast.

Enjoy!

 

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Book Review of NOMA: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine

I must admit, it greatly pains me that this is simply a review for the NOMA cookbook, not the restaurant itself. However, if you deem yourself a loyal reader, your loyalty may someday pay off. Your dreams of reading a NOMA restaurant review, authored eloquently by myself, may come to fruition – that is, if I ever get a full time job aside from teaching students Biblical exegesis and writing for a university blog. Perhaps one day, my dreams of eating at NOMA will come to fruition as well, and perhaps my fantasy will continue to transform from only metaphysical, transcendent spiritual musings to cold, hard reality, and that aforementioned full-time job I seek will manifest in employment at NOMA.

But until then, let’s keep it simple, shall we?

I must begin by stating that the word ‘cookbook’ is grotesquely insufficient when ascribed to this…. this, whatever it is, this ingenius and mindblowingly incredible publication of Chef Rene Redzepi’s paramount creations. Indeed, it is a book, but only Jesus or Redzepi himself are capable of recreating the recipes within (and Jesus only because he can perform miracles supernaturally, with the Creator God on his side; Redzepi has to do it on his own).

The book opens with a scrumptious essay from artist Olaffur Eliasson. I posted the closing paragraph to his essay, and you are invited and encouraged to read it by clicking on this word here. This essay establishes the concept behind the book, the idea of time and place in the cultural and sociological context of Danish cuisine. Redzepi attempts to preserve the suchness of his ingredients, and even replicates their appearance in nature with his own brilliant gastronomic adaptation. One such dish is entitled “Blueberries surrounded by their natural habitat” or something of the like; another is the vegetable field made of carrot and other root vegetable tops planted in dirt of hazelnut ashes and some sort of dehydrated mead and flour concoction. Essentially, Redzepi wants his beautiful dishes to represent that time and place within the very specific cultural context from which his cuisine and recipes are bourne.

Next, after Olaffur’s eloquent introduction, you will find a story on the origins of NOMA as well as all the journal entries kept by Redzepi during his pilgrimage across the nordic countries in search of the perfect ingredients. Next the reader will feast their opticals on a vast array of beautifully photographed dishes, ingredients, and farmers who supply ingredients to NOMA. This section encompasses about a third of the book. Each page displays a new and different ingredient or artfully plated dish. This layout has its benefits and drawbacks. First, its nice to have an entire page dedicated to the beautiful plates of food. However, if one desires to know what is in the dish, or even what it is entitled, one must flip to the back of the book in a section entitled “The Weather Recipes” and read about it there. Each dish has a corresponding page. I found myself flipping back and forth for a few hours, looking at the edible art and then attempting to understand the incredibly out of reach techniques and ingredients that Redzepi uses for each dish.

Most of the ingredients are impossible to obtain unless you live in Denmark, and even then, it takes a culinary superpower like Rene to find the correct ones. Additionally, one must have a large sum of cash he or she is willing to spend on incredibly high-tech kitchen appliances, such as a thermomixer and pacojet ice cream machine.

Nonetheless, I learned a thing or two about cuisine, and a thing or two about how little I know about cuisine. This book redefined ‘recipes’ for me and definitely displays an entire world of food that no one can touch and that no one has done in the past. Also, the idea of a concept driven restaurante, and microscopically, concept driven dishes, is so new to cuisine that all others in the genre are deemed ‘postmodern.’ I know many restaurants on Pellegrino’s Top 50 list are indeed driven by concept, but NOMA’s is nothing like the others.

I think Rene Redzepi might be a little crazy. But crazy in a good way, crazy in a way that drives him to invent and develop new techniques and flavours that existed all along but no one knew or cared enough to extract them. After all, the fine line between genius and insanity is determined by one’s level of success. And Rene Redzepi is indeed a genius. NOMA has won the award for best restaurant in the world, three years in a row.

Go to the library and pick up this book. If you have 40 dollars laying around, buy it. It is worth the investment for any foodie and aspiring gastronomician. It may inspire you to go to culinary school, and one day, after years of experience (and working in Adria’s kitchen), you can open a restaurant in the genre of NOMA yourself. And I’ll write a review of your cookbook telling the world how truly great you really are.

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The Many Faces of BREAKFAST

Let’s be honest. Who doesn’t love breakfast?

Dishonourably, not long ago, my answer to this question would be “I. I do not love breakfast.”

Yes, yes, I admit it. And I am prepared to receive all necessary shuns and ostracism. But really, I’m not a morning person, and cereal, though oftentimes delicious, is not what I’m about to blog about.

No, I shall blog about something much, much more interesting, beautiful, and unexpected. Well, unless you’re an avid breakfastarian. But the diverse possibilities and variations on breakfast remained unknown to me before my eating adventures of summer 2012.

This past summer I had the opportunity to live and work in Lake Geneva with my wife Kaitlyn. While we were there, we decided to pursue our food blogging and photography passion and try a new Lake Geneva restaurant each weekend. We ate at Tuscan Tavern and Grill, Next Door Pub, Tempura House, Simple, Yogeeze, Lake Geneva Creperie, Popeyes, Egg Harbour, Sopra, Boatyard Bagel, and Baker House, to name a few. For my review of Baker House, click here.

At two of these restaurants, Simple and Egg Harbour Cafe, I truly learned how to breakfast. I have always been a fan of Eggs Benedict and would consider it my favourite breakfast dish. Simple, refined, and loaded with hearty flavours. I had the Farmer’s Benedict during my first Egg Harbour visit, and it was a very fresh and tasty vegetarian take on my old favourite. However, my mind was truly blown during my second Egg Harbour visit.

I looked at the menu and decided to order some pumpkin pancakes (which were indeed delicious). But I didn’t order them. I happened to see, out of the corner of my eye, a small seasonal menu at the corner of the table. But I did a double take; I thought for sure I saw the words RED VELVET on top. Yes, I did! I looked closer. I grabbed the menu and stared in awe at the words that followed: FRENCH TOAST. RED VELVET FRENCH TOAST!

I typically shy away from bread soaked in a fatty (albeit delicious) batter and fried, particularly for breakfast. I have a sensitive stomach that hates me forever, at least for a few hours, if I eat anything dramatic in the morning. Or almost anything at all. But I do love fried battered bread after 10:00, and I had been up for a good six hours or so before I went to Egg Harbour for lunch. So I took a risk and ordered it.

In a few words, it changed my life. It changed my perspective on breakfast, and really emphasised that comedy routine about how its acceptable to eat cake for breakfast but unacceptable at any other time. Nevermind the cream cheese frosting inside.

My next formational breakfast experience took place at Simple. Simple is ranked very highly for Lake Geneva, and though I’ve eaten there three times, the restaurant lived up to this high ranking only on my third visit. I ordered the Korean BBQ Breakfast Bowl: brown rice in Korean BBQ sauce with a plethora of fresh garden veggies and BBQ Korean pork, served with a fried egg on top.

This dish also changed my breakfastology, though a stark contrast from the mind-numbing extravagance of the Red Velvet French Toast. But that was what was so amazing about it. After eating these two dishes within a week of each other, I was truly enlightened about the possibilities of breakfast. It can literally take the form of anything you want. Do you awake with the desire for ice cream? No problem. Deep fry some dough, drop some fresh berries and ice cream on there, and BOOM BELGIAN WAFFLE. Oh, wait. I’d rather just eat left over Chinese food from last night. Or, better, yet, I got a pound of sushi grade hamachi in the walk-in, lets just make some makimono. Throw a fried egg on top and BOOM ASIAN BREAKFAST.

I hope you get my point. The possibilities are endless. If you don’t, well, go back to cereal.

So, in a fit of inspiration, I went home and made this:

Inspired by a meal my wife had at Simple at the beginning of the summer, what you behold with your opticals is a breakfast ‘taco’ comprised of eggs scrambled with sweet vidalia onions topped with apples sauteed in butter and brown sugar, zucchini, parsley, and a little parmesan cheese. The combination of sweet, fresh, crispy, sour, and acidic was profound. I did it! I made a cool breakfast! And I had it for lunch! And a year ago I would have opted for a sandwich made by my Jewish friends over at Carnegie Deli. Nothing wrong with that.

The point I’m trying to make here is this: No matter how much you hate waking up in the morning, breakfast definitely can be worth the pain.

Photo Credits: Red Velvet French Toast photo credited to TripAdvisor, Asian Bowl Breakfast photo by my wife Kaitlyn Newberry, and I dabbled in the food photography world and took the last photo. My food, my photo.

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