FRENCH TOAST. ROSE PETAL. FENNEL SEED. PINK PERUVIAN SALT.

FRENCH TOAST IS ONE OF THOSE COMFORT FOODS I SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT. MAYBE ITS THE CRISPY EDGES OR THE SALTY BUTTER  OR THE SWEET MAPLE OR MAYBE ITS A COMBINATION OF ALL THESE THINGS TOGETHER. EITHER WAY, IT HAS BEEN A SOLID FAVORITE SINCE CHILDHOOD. GONE IS THE WHITE BREAD OF THAT YOUTH, IT HAS BEEN REPLACED WITH A CHEWIER SOURDOUGH, A LITTLE FENNEL, A LITTLE ROSE AND A HIT OF PINK PERUVIAN SALT. IT IS A PRETTY GROWN UP VERSION OF MY CHILDHOOD CLASSIC.

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FRENCH TOAST. ROSE PETAL. FENNEL SEED. PINK PERUVIAN SALT.

MAKES 6 PIECES 

2 EGGS

1/ 2 CUP WHOLE MILK ( ANY MILK WILL WORK. I USE WHOLE MILK OR COCONUT MILK)

1 TEASPOON  LUCKNOW FENNEL SEED ( A SWEETER GREEN INDIAN FENNEL SEED)

1 TABLESPOON CRUSHED  DRIED ROSE PETALS ( RESERVE HALF FOR GARNISH ON FINISHED FRENCH TOAST)

1/4 TEASPOON PINK PERUVIAN SEA SALT

6 SLICES OF MIICHE SOUR DOUGH BREAD ( I USED SHE WOLF BAKERY BREAD BUT YOU CAN USE ANY DENSE SOUR DOUGH)

4 TABLESPOONS BUTTER ( RESEVER TWO FOR FINISHED FRENCH TOAST)

1 TABLESPOON OF COCONUT OIL

1/2 CUP MAPLE SYRUP WARMED

 

 

DIRECTIONS

IN A SMALL BOWL COMBINE EGGS, MILK, FENNEL SEED AND ROSE PETALS

WHISK UNTIL COMBINED

TRANSFER THE MIXTURE TO A SHALLOW BOWL

SOAK THE BREAD SLICES INDIVIDUALLY UNTIL COATED AND SOFT

DRAIN THE EXCESS EGG FROM THE BREAD AND SET ASIDE ON A PLATE

 

IN A 10 INCH CAST IRON SKILLET OVER MEDIUM HEAT TWO TABLESPOON OF UNSALTED BUTTER AND 1 TABLESPOON OF COCONUT OIL

 

FRY THE BREAD TWO PIECES AT A TIME UNTIL GOLDEN BROWN. FLIP TO BROWN EACH SIDE.

SERVE WITH SOFTENED BUTTER AND THE REMAINING CRUSHED ROSEHIPS

SPRINKLE WITH PINK PERUVIAN SEA SALT

 

 TOP WITH WARMED MAPLE SYRUP.

 

 

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where the wild things are. rosa rugosa ice cream.

For a while now, I have been thinking about making  wild rose ice cream. We have a tiny house upstate circled by dense woods. Lately with this temperate summer things have gone a bit rogue up there but I love it. The house is surrounded by an ever thickening bramble of blackberries and wild roses. We planted some Rosa Rugosa when we bought the house a number of years ago. I wasn't sure how it would fare in the elevated colder climate but it has thrived and has  taken over some of the other roses. I have always loved the Ragosa which grows wild along the New England coast. They remind me of the rugged coast of Maine where they dot the shore to form a dense wind break between the long the sea grasses and the ocean. The Rosa Ragosa is a single petal rose. For such a wispypy rose it gives off some serious floral perfume that is both a little spicy and salty. Maybe I imagine the salty part because I associated it so much with misty foggy days and salty sea spray. I could never resist these not even as a kid even though they are terribly riddled with tiny sharp spiky thorns. This past weekend Chef Camille Becerra came up to hang out in the woods and we decided to make some rose ice cream (amongst other things..but more on that in another post!) 

I would only do this with roses that are one hundred percent organic. NO PESTICIDES! 

I believe there are places where you can order organic rose petals for cooking but I will have to look into it and post  some info on that later.

 

The ice cream was so lovely and really well balanced. We decided to use a local maple syrup from our friend Dan Finn who sells his Moonshine Maple at his farm in Delhi and at Table On Ten in Bloomville., instead of sugar and the combination was really complimentary.

This is a subtle ice cream it is not for those of you who need abig flavor punch, it is mellowice cream, kind of like a foggy day at the beach. xx

 

Rosa Ragosa Ice Cream

 

4 cups heavy cream

4 cups offresh organic rose petals washed but not wet.

2 cups whole milk

1.5 cups maple syrup

2 good pinches of grey celtic sea salt

8 large egg yolks ( preferably from super happy chickens!)

 

I collected some Rose petals first thing in the morning when they seemed to be most fragrant.

In a large bowl gently bruise the rose petals by crushing them just a bit with a wooden spoon

Combine the rose petals and the heavy cream in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and heat to a simmer. remove from the heat and let the roses steep in the cream for thirty minutes or so.

 

In another pot, combine the milk and 1 cup of the maple syrup and bring to a gentle simmer.

Remove from the heat and set aside while you whisk the eggs.

In a bowl whisk the egg yolks and the remaining half cup of maple syrup.

Whisk until the yolks start to ribbon.

Add the hot milk to the yolks gradually whisking throughout to temper the yolks.

 

Return the mixture to the saucepan and gently heat until the mixture evenly coats the back of a  wooden spoon. Do not let the custard boil!

Set aside.

 

Strain the rose petals from the cream now that it has infused for a good while.

Press the petals against the mesh/strainer to release any remaining oil in the roses.

Discard the petals at this time.

Stir the infused cream gently into the custard and place in the fridge until it is good and cold all the way through.

At this point you can run your mixture through an ice cream machine. 

 

My opinion on ice cream makers is the better the machine the better the ice cream. I have made some good ice creams with my freezer bowl/ Cuisinart maker but now I really see the difference that a better machine makes.

I will include a link to a couple below.

So that is it! just garnish with a few rose petals and you are set to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sugar house

New Yorkers are somewhat crazy by nature, but transplanted New Englanders are even crazier... which is why my loft smells like a sugar house long about now. We feel the need to keep all things New England with us, close at heart, and in doing so we tend to cart things all over the place in an attempt to bring the country to the city. When I was younger it was apples, blueberries and flowers by the bucketful from my parent's garden in Massachusetts. We carefully drove said flowers from Massachusetts to New York City, car fully loaded. Then it was vegetables from a farm stand on Long Island. It has at times been old glass and linens (more than is humanly possible!) from the country flea markets in the south of France. Now, it is furniture, vegetables, wild ramp, jam, great huge dogwood branches from upstate New York, and finally, in an effort to not miss the syruping season, it is sap... We tapped our trees in upstate New York before we went to Mexico. When we came back a week later, we drove up to check on the progress. The conditions have been fairly stellar this year. Before we left we ran lines from three Sugar Maples with two taps per tree into large galvanized water troughs. We sealed the top of the trough so no snow or rain could get in. After a week away we had about 30 gallons of sap. We began our well practiced ritual of carting and squirreling back to the city. We filled five 5 gallon recycled plastic water containers with the sap we had collected and brought it back to boil down in our loft. We were committed to doing it this way or we would have missed the season entirely, as we didn't have the time to spare to be upstate outside over a fire 24/7. So far it's been working marvelously, with the exception of the steamy windows. We started boiling down two mornings ago. We have been at it continuously. We started with 25 gallons and are down to about 12. It takes roughly 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup, so if all goes according to plan by tomorrow this time we should have a 1/2 gallon of beautiful grade a maple syrup. You may wonder if all of this work really seems worth it when there are so many great syrup makers out there. For me, making syrup is a nostalgic thing. It is something we did every year when I was kid, sometimes the whole neighborhood got in on he action. Growing up in Massachusetts, we  didn't use plastic  lines like most people seem to do these days. Instead, we drove the same taps we had used year after year into our trees and hung much loved and much used galvanized  buckets and their little hoods from tree to tree. We emptied the buckets before and after school. We prayed secretly for a snow day so we could be there for the final boil down when we would pour the hot syrup over the pristine snow to make long strands of gooey maple candy. We always had enough sypup to last the year, or nearly the year, if the hidden stockpile stayed well out of reach of little hands. I don't hope to make that much at all, but I do hope to create a somewhat nostalgic moment in my own kids lives. I hope wherever they end up, city or country, they become squirrelers too.

SYRUP UPDATE

Day three of the boiling down...

We boiled down at a roiling boil for 12 hours the first day and twelve hours the second day. We turned it off at night. We are now down to the final concentrated pot of sap. The clear liquid has turned a beautiful amber. I am imagining that by this afternoon it will be done. I have to keep a close eye on it now so it doesn't burn or get too thick.


Voila... it is done. I had to strain it through four layers of cheesecloth to get rid of any bits of twigs or sediment.

The syrup tastes AMAZING! A friend told me about a book she read to her daughter called Maple Syrup Season. The book is for children, but goes into great detail about the taste of syrup.The first run often tastes slightly floral and is more delicate than the second or third run which gets progressively darker by nature (hence the syrup grading system) and more intensely maple in flavor.

Week two.

We are now on round three of boiling down. Hopefully by the end we will have two solid gallons of maple syrup!


sap for the soul

It seems there has been a lot buzz lately about the benefits of drinking maple sap. I have heard of a few companies in Canada starting to produce sap drinks and friends in Brooklyn are contemplating a company selling the stuff. We have some friends who live up in Northern Vermont. They are,  among other things, Wildcrafters and Plant Spirit Medicine experts. They really know how to use the land and thier surroundings with thought and care and with a truely sustainable spirit. You will see and hear more about them here over time, as we are currently working on a documentary about them; but more on that later. When I spoke to Nova Kim of wild gourmet food earlier this week she told me that they had given up water for a while and turned to drinking sap during the maple season,  (she said they are drinking about 80% sap to 20% water).  Anyone and everyone who has ever collected syrup has tasted the sweet nutrient, mineral rich sap. It is impossible to resist the taste. The liquid is clear like water and has a delicate sweetness that is so light and faint and almost mildly floral.

Sap has an enormous amount of calcium and iron and other minerals and has been used for it's health benefits for thousands of years in Korea, China , Japan and amongst Native Americans.. There is evidence that Native Americans drank sap for purification purposes. There is a very interesting  article in the New York Times that chronicles South Korean's love affair with maple sap. They drink Fifty gallons per person at a time. They believe they sweat out the toxins and replace the fluids with sap. They call thier maple the "tree for the good bones" as the sap is full of calcium and helps with osteoporosis.

Overall, Nova contends that it, basically, adds a touch of sweetness to everything, a completely natural sweetness. She obtains the health benefits of sap by drinking it straight and using it in her everyday cooking. In the morning she occaisionaly makes oatmeal with it, substituting it anywhere she would normally use water. She recently made a fifteen bean stew with a sap base. She used a smoked ham hock and the sap as the base flavor to her bean stew. She threw it all in a crockpot and let it rip. I love this kind of one pot cooking. I will see if I can  wrangle a recipie from her, but you get the basic idea. 

if you are not tapping your own trees, you can find a sugar house or a farmer near you and perhps buy some sap from them. ( go to your local farmers market and talk to the syrup guys) It does take roughly forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. Syrup has commanded some pretty high prices in the past few years based on availability due to shorter sap seasons and climate change. The sap start to flow when the days are warm  (over 40 degrees and the nights are below freezing) the word is that this will be a long cool spring and that makes for an excellent syrup season. If you are lucky and persistent, you may find a farmer willing to part with some of the good stuff or...you can revert to some yankee ingenuity and go find a maple tree, get a drill then tap in a spout, and wait patiently for the plunk plunk plunk... not only will you and your family have a greater appreciation for where your food comes from, but it will be all that much sweeter for your efforts.

 

 NOTE: as with any kind of harvesting...it is important to do it with care and sustainability. Don't overtap your trees! You will bleed them to death!!

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