lens and larder collaboration in the wilds of connemara ireland.

We just returned from Ireland where we put on a visual storytelling and classic european still life workshop at the beautiful Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara Ireland. We focused on the terroir of Connemara and shot everything from  foraged seaweed to locally caught game birds to the honey man. Our final day we set a banquet of roast lamb and oysters and local cheeses. Thank you to our gorgeous and organized hosts Imen McDonnell from Farmette and Cliodhna Prendergast from Breaking Eggs and to Susan Spungen our food stylist and partner in crime and to all our students who traveled near and far to attend. It was a whirlwind of information and activity. Special thanks to Claire Davey from America Village Galway for sharing with us her incredible tinctures and teas and her beautiful meditation in the woods and for plying our spirits with her wild cocktails. Thank you to Gerard Coyne of Connemara Bee Keepers and to John Malone of Malone's Butchers in Clifden and to Shane Bisgood , Chief instructor of the Connemara Shooting School, for letting the students "shoot" him! Trish Deseine I was blown away by by your new book Home on Irish Home cooking and Helen James it was  so great  to catch up after all this time!  Thank you to Aran Sweaters and 31Chapel Lane for the lovely gifts four our students! We left with more than we came with. Not the least the good friends we made along the way. We feel our adventures with out Irish friends have just begun. A huge thank you to Patrick O'Flaherty of Ballynahinch Castle. We know we trashed the place and you  and your amazing staff were ever so gracious about it! You kept us entertained and feeling at home. xx

 

 

We wanted to share a few photos from the two day workshop. 

151103_Connemara_Ireland_2262.jpg


rome part 1. for condé nast traveler

Where has the time gone? I am not going to make excuses for my absence; I am just going to pick up where I left off... editing today I came across these images from Rome and suddenly got very hungry looking at this pasta . This might be dinner tonight. 

Last October we spent a few quick days on the ground in the eternal city, it was divine. 

 

 

Espresso at the newly opened J.K.Place. 

Espresso at the newly opened J.K.Place. 

 For my inner Borgia, the Vatican.

 For my inner Borgia, the Vatican.

Favorite neighborhood to get lost in. Monti.

Favorite neighborhood to get lost in. Monti.

The Colloseum.

The Colloseum.

 View of the city from Gianicolo. 

 View of the city from Gianicolo. 

 I funghi. Mercato Testaccio. 

 I funghi. Mercato Testaccio. 

Artichokes and Buccatini Amatriciana from Sora Marguerita in The Jewish quarter.

Artichokes and Buccatini Amatriciana from Sora Marguerita in The Jewish quarter.

one good dish. david tannis.

For years I used Heart of the Artichoke andA Platter Of Figs, religiously. They are amongst my very favorite cookbooks. So you can imagine how over the moon we were to collaborate with Chef David Tanis on his most recent book One Good Dish .We ploughed through almost two solid weeks of shooting, in the darkest hours of winter. We arrived each morning as the sun rose and finished each day long after dark It was a marathon of shooting and eating and eating some more... David patiently put up with us taking over his entire space.

 Thank you David. Thank you Artisan. Thank you Samin for the introduction! 

Below are a few favorites.

quail eggs with flavored salt

quail eggs with flavored salt

kale

kale

real garlic toast

real garlic toast

blood orange and persimmon

blood orange and persimmon

mussels on the half shell 

mussels on the half shell 

gorgonzola and walnut crostini 

gorgonzola and walnut crostini 

sweet and salty nut brittle

sweet and salty nut brittle

gunpowder and fresh mint tea

gunpowder and fresh mint tea

very green fish stew

very green fish stew

 well charred-endive with anchovy butter

 well charred-endive with anchovy butter

save your life garlic soup

save your life garlic soup

remnants of mussels on the half shell

remnants of mussels on the half shell

 

 

Save-Your-Life Garlic Soup

 

Recipe by David Tanis

From One Good Dish.

said to prevent and cure hangovers...

2 heads garlic, preferably new crop[

separated into cloves (about 16 medium cloves) and peeled

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

12 sage leaves

salt and pepper

6 cups of water

4 eggs

4 slices of bread, lightly toasted

chopped parsley, scallions or chives.

slice or roughly chop the garlic cloves

warm the oil in a heavy pot over medium heat.

add the garlic and the sage and let siszzle a bit without browning ( about 2 minutes)

season with about 1 teaspoonsalt and a few grinds of pepper

add the water and bring to a boil over high heat, then lower to a brisk simmer.

Cook for 10 to 15 minutes

Taste and adjust the seasoning

Ladle about an inch of the soup into a skilliet and bring to a brisk simmer over medium heat

Carefully crack the eggs into the pan and poach for about three minutes.

To serve, place a slice of toast in each soup bowl and top with a poached egg. 

Ladle the soup over the eggs and sprinkle with a little parsley.

tofu part 2.

I know some of you asked where to buy a tofu mold. Williams Sonoma sells a nice one here, complete with non GMO soy beans.Here is another source for a tofu making kit and nigari, the natural coagulant we used to make our tofu.

Below is part two of our Tofu post complete with Camilles's  recipe notes. Part one is here.

Tofu Skins

follow below recipe from previous post until you reach the part pertaining to the Tofu Skins

TOFU

11.2.13

1 ½ cups of high-grade soybeans

14 cups total spring or filtered water, room temperature

1 ½ teaspoons dry nigari

Tools:

Blender

Large heavy bottomed pot

Muslin

Large strainer or colander

-Soak soybeans in 5 cups water for at least 12 hours. 

-Heat 6 cups of water in a heavy bottom pot.   In a blender, puree beans and their soaking liquid in 3 batches for 2 minutes each time, you may risk burning out your blender if you puree it all in one shot.   Add the puree in batches to the hot water and mix thoroughly after each time.  Allow to come up to an almost boil on a medium-low setting.  Stir frequently to avoid soybean pulp sticking to the bottom and scorching.  Keep your eyes on the mixture making sure it doesn’t boil over.  Remove from heat, cover and leave to cool for ½ hour.

-Make sure mixture is cooled enough to handle then strain using a muslin lined strainer or colander.  Grab corners of the muslin and twist to press out all the soymilk.  The leftover parched pulp is called okara and in Japan it is often times cooked with vegetables.  Clean muslin out of all the pulp well, we will be using it again.

-Rinse pot out well and add the drained soymilk to it.  Warm gently on low till the temperature reaches 175 degrees this process will take about an hour. 

Tofu Skins

 Yuba, the skin that forms on the surface of hot soy milk is a favorite amongst the Japanese.  These  thin, egg-like sheets are delicious served simply with a dashi or soy sauce and wasabi.

-Warm soy milk gently on low till the temperature reaches 175 degrees this process will take about an hour.  You will see the skin form as the soy milk reaches desired temperature. 

-Using chopsticks gently pull out the yuba and roll it on a plate.  Once you remove the skin another one will soon form.

The tofu skins or Yuba are served room temperature. They have the consistency of a super thin omelet. It takes some time to accumulate enough yuba for a few people to eat. We added some micro greens  and herbs on top of the Yuba for a bit of crunch and hit it with some soy. You can add a  little gomasio if you would like.. The tofu skins can be made ahead of time and stacked between pieces of parchment paper.

Seaweed +Sesame  Gomasio

2 tablespoons toasted sesame

1 tablespoon toasted seaweed

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Hemp Seed Gomasio

2 tablespoons toasted hemp seeds 

1 tablespoon toasted seaweed

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

-In a mortar add the ingredients and pound till desired coarseness.


Tofu Custards

2 cups freshly made soy milk, chilled

3/4 teaspoon dry nigari

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

-Dissolve the nigari into 1/2 cup filtered water.

-In a large measuring cup stir together the soy milk with the nigari solution and pour it into ramekins (we used 8 ramekins that held approximately 2 ounces). 

-Place the filled ramekins in baking pan and fill the pan with room temperature water, enough so that the water comes half way up the ramekins.  Cover with foil and steam in oven for 15 minutes or until the tofu is set to the consistency of a creme brulee, depending on the heat, type of nigari and the concentration in the soy milk this may take longer than the 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, cool until just warm and serve.  Can also be served at room temperature or cool and topped with sweet topping.  Will stay in the fridge for up to two days.

Mushroom Broth

4 cups filtered water

1 1/2 cup dried shitaki

soy sauce, to taste

-Boil water and pour over the mushrooms.  Allow to steep overnight.

-Strain and heat to a simmer.

-Add soy sauce to your desired preference.

We added some soba noodles and steamed pumpkin to our both along with a cube of fresh soft tofu. We garnished it with some cilantro and a bit of chili oil.

thank you April and Camille. awesome collaboration.

tofu part 1.

On a recent trip to Nepal, I was obsessed with eating fresh homemade tofu from a tiny Japanese restaurant near our hotel. The owner of the restaurant was a Japanese woman who had been living in Nepal for many years. I had never eaten anything quite like it. We ate it both fresh and lightly fried with a spicy gingery peppery dipping sauce. The owner found it funny that we came every night to eat the same thing, but some times when you are traveling and shooting, exhaustion takes over and what is simple is best. She didn’t mind me pestering her about how she made it and after a slew of questions and some broken English, and lots of smiles I vowed to add it to my repertoire. Once home, time slipped away quickly, I forgot about the tofu until a conversation one day with Chef Camille Beccera and prop stylist/ and amazing girl about town April Flores. Camille told us that after culinary school in her early twenties, a friend told her abut a cooking position in A Zen monastery in Southern California. Being from the East Coast, she jumped at the chance to go. At the monastery, where she was just one of two girls, she both studied and cooked. She made huge batches of fresh tofu every week.  Thus, this tofu making collaboration was born.

It took us a while to get around to it but when we finally did we had a great time and I saw how incredibly easy it is.

Fresh tofu is nothing like what you buy in the stores. It is light and a little sweet with a delicate flavor of the soybeans. Commercial tofu is much more dense and not at all as subtle in flavor. Fresh tofu is best eaten the same day you make it or within a day or two of making.

Once we established that we were going to make tofu we set about thinking of a few other recipes. (more to come)

Everything we made was a bi-product of the tofu making process.

Making tofu is a lot like making a simple cheese, the process is similar to making fresh ricotta.

Thank you April and Camille for an awesome day!

Below are Camille’s notes. From our day of tofu!

 

 

TOFU

1-½ cups of high-grade soybeans

14 cups total spring or filtered water, room temperature

1-½ teaspoons dry nigari

Tools:

Blender

Large heavy bottomed pot

Muslin

Large strainer or colander

-Soak soybeans in 5 cups water for at least 12 hours. 

-Heat 6 cups of water in a heavy bottom pot.   In a blender, puree beans and their soaking liquid in 3 batches for 2 minutes each time, you may risk burning out your blender if you puree it all in one shot.   Add the puree in batches to the hot water and mix thoroughly after each time.  Allow to come up to an almost boil on a medium-low setting.  Stir frequently to avoid soybean pulp sticking to the bottom and scorching.  Keep your eyes on the mixture making sure it doesn’t boil over.  Remove from heat, cover and leave to cool for ½ hour.

-Make sure mixture is cooled enough to handle then strain using a muslin lined strainer or colander.  Grab corners of the muslin and twist to press out all the soymilk.  The leftover parched pulp is called okara and in Japan it is often times cooked with vegetables.  Clean muslin out of all the pulp well, we will be using it again.

-Rinse pot out well and add the drained soymilk to it.  Warm gently on low till the temperature reaches 175 degrees this process will take about an hour.  The skin that forms as the soymilk slowly reaches desired temperature is called yuba.   Yuba is a favorite amongst the Japanese.  Using chopsticks gently pull out the yuba and roll it on a plate, it’s classically served with soy sauce and a bit of wasabi.

-Dilute nigari into 1 cup of water.  Stir the milk in a zigzag motion a few times and while the soymilk is still moving add half of the nigari solution allowing the existing motion to transport the nigari throughout, do not stir after you add nigari.   Wait 2 minutes then gently add the remaining nigari solution around the perimeter and over the top.   Cover and let sit for 15 minutes to coagulate.  You should see the whey, a clear liquid when you gently move the curd from the side of the pot.  If not make a 1/4 batch of the nigari solution, bring milk back to 175 degrees on very, very low heat and sprinkle throughout the sides and top, do not stir, remove heat.

-Once your soymilk has coagulated line a tofu box with the clean muslin.  Set box in the sink or over a bowl.  Transfer the curds and whey into the box, do so with a large ladle so as not to break up too much of the curd.  Wrap excess muslin over top, place top part of box over muslin and use a one-pound weight to press for 30 minutes.

-Remove tofu after 30 minutes from the press and muslin.  Submerge tofu block in water for at least ½ hour and for up to two days.

beans. before and after soaking.

beans. before and after soaking.

 heating the pureed soy bean and water mixture. 

 heating the pureed soy bean and water mixture. 

straining the puree

straining the puree

 squeeze all the soy milk from the solids. 

What is left over is called okara. you can stir fry it with vegetables.

What is left over is called okara. you can stir fry it with vegetables.

reheated soy milk and nigari. should start to separate and look like this before you pour it in the tofu mold

reheated soy milk and nigari. should start to separate and look like this before you pour it in the tofu mold

pour the soy milk into the mold over the sink. once most of the excess liquid has drained, place a weight on the mold to press remaining liquids

pour the soy milk into the mold over the sink. once most of the excess liquid has drained, place a weight on the mold to press remaining liquids

finished tofu ready to eat.

finished tofu ready to eat.

use this for the following fried tofu recipe 

 

FRIED TOFU

1-pound tofu

¼ cup cornstarch

¼ cup neutral oil (canola, grape seed, etc.)

Cut tofu into 1-½ inch cubes.

Warm oil in a small to medium frying pan, make sure it doesn’t get so hot it begins to smoke.

In batches dredge tofu in cornstarch and fry till very light golden on all sides.  Adjust fire so it cooks evenly throughout.

Transfer onto a paper towel.

Serve with chili oil and soy sauce. 

august tomatoes.

It is August and you know what that means... tomatoes are out in full force by the bushel load!

The farmers market was bursting with every shape and size. Our little garden upstate is not too shabby either. It seems that hot spell was just what they needed. Delaware County has a ridiculously short growing season so when we get tomatoes we are ecstatic.

I am eating them every way I can. Last night I made a salad inspired by one I ate at the new restaurant Estela on East Houston Street in NYC. There is really no recipe here as I just kind of threw them together based on the flavors and ingredients I remembered from the dish.

This is what I put in mine.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Purselane

Canary Melon

I added some fresh herbs and topped it with olive oil and chive blossom vinaigrette.

Hope you are inspired to make something with tomatoes too! When January comes you will be craving a real tomato. So what are you waiting for?

You can see the completed salad on instagram here

Check out the August issue of Bon Appétit Magazine for some great inspired tomato recipes

xx

gascony france. the butcher. the baker and the armagnac maker.

The inquisitive pig at Dominique Chapolard's farm in Gascony, France.

The inquisitive pig at Dominique Chapolard's farm in Gascony, France.

Magestic Sunflowern in Moncault, Gascony,France. 

Magestic Sunflowern in Moncault, Gascony,France. 

Amazing summer fruits from the local market in Laverdac, Gascony France.

Amazing summer fruits from the local market in Laverdac, Gascony France.

  Famed Armagnac maker Alexandre Ladevèze.

 Famed Armagnac maker Alexandre Ladevèze.

Charcuterie from Dominique Chapolard with local wild peaches.    

Charcuterie from Dominique Chapolard with local wild peaches.

 

Dominique Chapolard, the butcher and master of  charcuterie.

Dominique Chapolard, the butcher and master of  charcuterie.

 Quiet town of Vianne, Gascony France.

 Quiet town of Vianne, Gascony France.

Laundry lines, Gascony, France.

Laundry lines, Gascony, France.

 Cecile Berthollet, Baker. Gascony, France.    The Berthellots, who proudly call themselves paysans-boulangers, or "peasant bakers," grow 250 varieties of wheat on their farm for their home-baked bread.

 Cecile Berthollet, Baker. Gascony, France.

The Berthellots, who proudly call themselves paysans-boulangers, or "peasant bakers," grow 250 varieties of wheat on their farm for their home-baked bread.

 Felix King at Camont.

 Felix King at Camont.

 Melons. Market Nerac .

 Melons. Market Nerac.

   The most exquisite Chasselas grapes from the Laverdac market, Gascony, France.

   The most exquisite Chasselas grapes from the Laverdac market, Gascony, France.

Peeping through the keyhole at the church.

Peeping through the keyhole at the church.

 Kate Hill's glorious pantry at Camont. Gascony, France.

 Kate Hill's glorious pantry at Camont. Gascony, France.

Fields of Sunflowers in Montcault

Fields of Sunflowers in Montcault

Last summer Condé Nast Traveler sent us to Gascony France to cover a food intensive story for their July 2013 food issue. I wanted to share a few of the photos we took for them. You can see a more extensive story at Condé Nast Traveler.com, both in the magazine and on the tablet. This story was dream to cover. We roamed the countryside with expatriate Kate Hill and her sisterStephanie  as our guides while they showed us an insiders view to Gascony. We photographed the butcher, the baker and the Armagnac maker and needless to say we ate and drank like kings. 

Kate runs a cooking school in Ste-Colombe-en-Bruihois  which she calls The Kitchen At Camont

Michael Ruhlman shares his picks  http://www.cntraveler.com/food/2013/07/french-culinary-vacation-travel-guide

egg. currently obsessed. how to boil an egg.

Spring is upon us even if a windy chill lingers in the air. I love this time of the year. The farmers market is bursting with ramp and spring onion and eggs of all sorts! I love the pullet eggs from the Amish Farmer at the Friday Green Market. They are so sweet and small. I have a soft spot for the newly laying hens that have come through their awkward and gangly teenage stage. This time of the year you will start to see duck eggs and goose eggs and quail eggs. The smaller pullets are perfect for Toad In The Hole, Egg In A Nest, or Egg in The Middle; whatever you may call them. Because of their small size, they sit perfectly in that cut out hole in the bread without running over the sides. We are big eaters of Egg In A Nest as we call them in our house. There is something so right about a buttery fried piece of bread with a perfectly done egg in the middle of it. It is both crunchy and soft and best when generously salted and peppered. We had chickens when I was growing up. We had Arcanas before it was cool. I have to thank my dad for that. He was into off beat breeds, hence the Sicilian Donkeys and Scottish Highlanders. We called our Arcanas Easter egg chickens. We bartered our plethora of eggs with neighbors for things like syrup or meat and gave them to pretty much anyone who happened to walk in the door. Some hens are prolific layers and one can quickly find oneself overrun with eggs!  If you find yourself in this situation or if you just want to celebrate spring's bounty, pick up a copy of Phaidon'sHow To Boil an Egg

It is the new book from Rose Carrarini of Rose Bakery on Rue des Martyrs in Paris and it is all about eggs! It seems deceptively simple but let's face it, the incredible egg is at times challenging and incredibly versatile. Here its secrets are revealed. How To Boil An Egg is gorgeously illustrated by botanical illustrator Fiona Strickland, with hyper real drawings that look like photographs. This is a lovely book filled with simple staples and a few surprises.

llustration Fiona Strickland 

Egg In The Middle 

From How To Boil an Egg

Rose Carrarini

2 slices of bread, preferably whole wheat

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

2 eggs

First stamp a circle from the center of each slice of bread with a 2-inch cookie cutter and reserve.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan or skillet over medium heat, add the bread and reserved rounds ('hats') and fry until the undersides are lightly golden.

Turn the bread over, adding more oil if necessary.

Carefully break the eggs and ease them into the holes. (Sometimes I drain off a little of the white, but this is not a rule.)

Reduce the heat and cook until the whites are set and the yolks are beginning to set, but are still soft.

Using a spatula, transfer the slices of bread and eggs to a plate, with their hats over the yolks, and serve.

Now saute up some of that ramp, pea shoots or wild mustard you have kicking around and serve it on the side!