Archive for April, 2009

“Check out the Big Pans on Matt” by Matthew D. Christianson

Posted in Matthew D. Christianson on April 29, 2009 by houndstoothnyc

hpim2220Since “Spring is in the Air” and if you are looking for some home cooking inspiration take a look at the dishes that I’ve been creating over the past few months. Hope you enjoy!

“The Galavanting Chocolatier” by Matthew D. Christianson

Posted in Matthew D. Christianson on April 29, 2009 by houndstoothnyc
photo

Steven Shaw and Jaques Torres

While working an otherwise quiet lunch service at L’Ecole (the restaurant at the International Culinary Center in SoHo) the jolly Jacques Torres and company took over the dining room today. Crashing through the door near the end of the afternoon and with only a few patrons left to take in Torres’s antics, he was trying to Save the integrity and the name of his delicious candy product (which has another candy mogul’s name) called “Kiss”. Stopping at every table to feed the guests and staff at L’Ecole, Jacques was in usual form captivating and charming everyone with his sinful delights. The pide piper of New York City’s chocolate scene is trying to gain support for retaining the name of his tastey lipstick labeled chocolate covered champagne flavored treats at: www.savejacqueskiss.com. Amazing energy from a man who seems to have been leading the charge in candy forever! Bravo Jacques keep it coming!

“Natural Medicine” by Matthew D. Christianson

Posted in Matthew D. Christianson on April 28, 2009 by houndstoothnyc

fruit

In September 1999, the National Institute of Health (NIH) published a “five-a-day” report, which advised all Americans to eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables.  According to the NIH, there was enough evidence showing that following this prescription would protect our health.
The five-a-day campaign raised public awareness of the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables.  Due to the increased focus on the topic of food as medicine, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has put all of its efforts toward expanding knowledge in the field.
The AICR contributes to innovative research at major medical institutions and every year holds at least one major conference in Washington, D. C. sharing the results of the latest research.  The AICR has done an outstanding job of emphasizing the importance of fresh foods in cancer prevention.
The greatest thing the AICR has done was to increase the five-a-day recommendation of the NIH to seven daily servings of fruits and vegetables.  People need to eat more fruits and vegetables to obtain sufficient amounts of the medical ingredients they provide.  Food is medicinal and as with any drugs there is a proper dosage.
The active components of fruits and vegetables are called phytonutrients.  They are the chemical compounds in plants that act on human cells and genes to boost the body’s innate defenses against illness.  Phytonutrients can save our lives!
Due to environmental exposure to toxins such as air pollution first and second hand cigarette smoke, and several cancer-promoting chemicals in food and water, as well as the damage being done to your body by all kinds of internal and external stress, our own natural defenses are becoming overwhelmed.  The body’s defenses need the help of phytonutrients to maintain health.
Phytonutrients in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and spices are our sole source of phytonutrients.  These natural compounds give plants their color, flavor, smell and texture.  Phytonutrients also make up the immune system of plants, which protects plants from disease.  There are 2,000 known phytonutrients and one serving of fruit or vegetable can possess more than 100 different types.
The families of phytonutrients and their roles in health promotion are: Cruciferous, Flavonoids, Carotenoids and Terpenes.
–Crucifers; Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, dark leafy greens, and watercress.
These vegetables contain phytonutrients that may prevent cancer and interfere with the growth of cancer cells.  The phytonutrient indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is contained in cruciferous vegetables.  I3C stimulates the phase II enzyme system that helps clear cancer-causing toxins from the body.  Another phytonutrient found in crucifers is sulforaphane, which helps the liver’s enzymes detoxify the body.
–Flavonoids: Cherries, berries, red and purple grapes, currants, pomegranates, walnuts, apples with the skin, red onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and red wine.
These fruits and vegetables contain the flavonoids: ellagic acid, glucarate, reservatrol and quercetin.  Ellagic acid interferes with multiplication of cancerous cells and stimulates the detoxification enzymes in the liver.  Glucarate neutralizes several cancer-causing compounds, which form when cooking animal protein at high temperatures.  The flavonoids reservatrol and quercetin provide protection against heart disease by decreasing inflammation and fighting the clumping of blood platelets.
–Carotenoids: Pumpkin, carrot, sweet potato, squash, broccoli, dark leafy greens, tomato, corn, peppers, mango, guava, apricots, peaches, cantaloupe, and watermelon.
Beta-carotene is a familiar carotenoid to many, but it is only on e of more than 600 compounds in the family that have been discovered.  Carotenoids have been linked with prevention of colon, prostate, breast and lung cancer.  The carotenoid lutein reduces the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
–Terpenes: Citrus Fruits
D-limonene, limonin and nomilin are among 40 terpenes found in the peel, membranes, seeds, flesh and juice of citrus fruits.  These compounds promote anticancer activity and turn on the liver’s detoxification processes to rid the body of cancer-causing agents.
Distinctive health benefits are related to the intensity of the color of fruits and vegetables.  Phytonutrients are not lost in cooking because they are heat-stable.  Meals should be created using a complete spectrum of fruits and vegetables.  Cancer and all other diseases represent a complex psychological, physical, and emotional imbalance.  Through good nutritional choices, the foods that we eat can help us increase and maintain a healthy body over our lives!

“Lip Sumac-ing Good” by Matthew D. Christianson

Posted in Matthew D. Christianson on April 28, 2009 by houndstoothnyc

sm_sumac1What looks like a cranberry and tastes like a lemon?  It’s Sumac, which grows in warm subtropical temperate regions throughout the world and can be identified as any one of approximately 250 species of flowering plants in the genus Rhus Anacardiaceous.  Plants yielding clusters of Sumac berries are harvested, dried and crushed into a powder, which has a tart acidic fruity flavor and is considered essential to cooking many Middle Eastern dishes.  This spice dates back to before the Romans when it was used in dishes, prior to the introduction of lemons, to brighten the acidic flavors of a dish.  Sumac’s flavor is more subdued than that of a lemon, which makes its addition to food very pleasant and the deep red color makes for an attractive garnish to any plate. In the Mediterranean, Sumac is often added to salad dressings or rubbed on fish and meat as a marinade.   Other uses for this spice include a stomach-settling beverage made by adding the juice from crushed Sumac berries to sweetened cool water and dried Sumac berry flakes are often times blended with smoking tobacco to impart a rich fruity flavor.  Sumac is an extremely versatile spice that can be substituted anywhere where you might want a squeeze of bright lemon flavor, simply fresh and delightful!

“Here Today, Gone To Marrow!” By Matthew D. Christianson

Posted in Matthew D. Christianson on April 24, 2009 by houndstoothnyc

bonemarrow

For centuries chefs have been using the marrow in beef bones in their cooking to enrich their recipes and make their food more delicious. In the 19th century marrow was not used exclusively to add flavor to a dish, but was also regarded as a “Health Food” and was fed to the sick to aid them in the return of their strength. Recent studies show that the fat in beef bone marrow is good for you as it is rich in essential vitamins and minerals. Unlike all other beef fats, marrow is mainly monounsaturated and contains iron, phosphorous, vitamin A, and trace amounts of thiamin and niacin. Many doctors say that beef marrow contains choline and inositol, which are two of the most important nutrients that can repair and maintain the circulatory system and prevent heart disease.
The tradition of roasting beef bones has been a constant for many years and has been passed down from generation to generation.   The idea of taking one’s time in the kitchen to extract the flavor and natural succulent gelatin found inside the beef bones is a practice that helps chefs make their creations taste delicious and comforting. These days it seems like the ancient art of cooking bones is disappearing due to the fast-paced nature of today’s society. Jennifer McLagan, Melbourne-born food writer and author of Bones: Recipes, History and Lore, agrees and mentions the almost complete disappearance of bones from the Western kitchen. She states that home cooks have been convinced that they do not have the time to cook traditional meals and practice technical skills.  For instance, it is true that making stock takes a good portion of a day, but it is not difficult to prepare.  Simply put everything in the pot that just sits at the back of the stove for six hours and “Walla”.  McLagan feels that, “We teach our kids how to balance their check books at school but not how to feed themselves. We’re putting people out into the world today without cooking life skills because their parents are working and did not show them how to cook. They’ll have never tasted a roast, an osso buco, or a homemade stock and they will have no memory of them either. Within a generation these recipes, dishes and techniques could be lost.”  McLagan passionately explains the fact that, “Eating is one of the most important things that anybody can do. You need to eat and you need to eat well, and you really should be cooking for yourself. This is a skill that is close to totally disappearing”.
Lately, I’ve been noticing that many NYC restaurant menus are featuring this unctuous treat and luckily there are a few professional kitchens in Manhattan where some understanding chefs are trying to preserve the importance of good nutrition and classical cooking techniques.  One of my personal favorites is Gabrielle Hamilton chef/owner of Prune where she is getting back to kitchen basics.  Hamilton’s roasted bone marrow dish served with a lightly dressed parsley, caper, and shallot salad is a shining example of the utilization of an almost forgotten tradition.  Anthony Bourdain describes Hamilton as a “Chef’s Chef” and it is easy to see why as her menu demonstrates her care of the age-old foundations of healthy cooking.  Another great place to enjoy this dish is at SoHo late night favorite Blue Ribbon where the classically French trained American born Bromberg Brothers who are serving roasted marrow bones with a decadent oxtail marmalade.  Man those guys really know what flavor is all about and they truly understand how to preserve the essence of quality ingredients; just two reasons why they are a success.  Another success, Chef Brad Farmerie at his newest venture Double Crown in the LES is serving the long bone sliced length wise making it easier to get to the fatty goodness and he pairs it with a thick orange marmalade and buttery brioche toast.  These chefs are the hope of the future of traditional cooking and they refuse to let tradition die.  Thankfully they cherish the foundations of classic cooking techniques and they graciously share the art of their craft with the accepting public.

Spring is in the Air!

Posted in Matthew D. Christianson on April 23, 2009 by houndstoothnyc

chinese-cabbageSpring is the best time of year for many in NYC, as the persistent rain and warmer temperatures bring life back to the masses. At this time of year there is an energy in the city that can only be matched by the always bustling holiday season at the end of each year. The revitalization phenomenon can be witnessed in a domino effect in Manhattan’s Hospitality Industry, and it all starts somewhere upstate. As the farmers and mother nature have nurtured the produce that is ready for harvest in early Spring, the chefs in NYC restaurants become more bright eyed and bushy tailed. These chefs have waited all winter for the first days of Spring which will bring baby greens (like arugula and spinach), as well as, asparagus, broccoli, ramps, rhubarb and strawberries. Chefs go crazy for these fresh new arrivals at the farmer’s markets, so they rise early each Spring morning throwing off their Winter shackles in search of the highest quality ingredients. Meanwhile the working class masses, who have been sluggishly punching the clock all Winter, are awakened by warm weather and the thoughts of fresh new creations on the menus of their favorite dining spots. The chain reaction finishes with the guest in the restaurant enjoying the flavors of the newest dishes that the chefs have created from the fresh Spring ingredients brought to market by the farmers. Spring time makes New Yorker’s feel that they are by far the luckiest people in the country, as they reap the benefits daily. Here are some fresh Spring time links to help you become inspired to create some flavorful healthy dishes at home for yourself.
Calendar of Harvest Times for NY Fruits & Vegetables

NYC Farmer’s Market Site

Posted in Matthew D. Christianson on April 22, 2009 by houndstoothnyc

Well I’m excited to be getting to start this important site and I look forward to helping those who have a need to know everything about the Hospitality Industry in NYC!