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We ride the railroads of India with Maneet Chauhan to sample chaat: snacks like warm carrot pudding and chili-fried potatoes served at street stalls and train stations. Plus, Shannon Mustipher gives us a taste of tiki cocktails and culture; Bianca Bosker explains the appeal of ultra-peaceful cooking shows; and we make hearty Ethiopian-Style Chickpea Stew. (Originally aired October 9, 2020.)
This episode is brought to you by Sleep Number.
Questions in this episode:
"I’ve been cooking with a lot of fresh tomatoes recently and found myself wondering: When cooked in stews, braises, or roasts, are all fresh tomatoes created equally?"
"I have a jar of preserved lemons, and outside of making something like a tagine, I'm not sure what to do with them. Do you have any suggestions?"
"My kids have 4H pigs. We recently had the meat processed and the pork neck bones were included. What can we do with them?"
"When I make pasta with mushrooms, it ends up disappointing. I've tried it with button mushrooms, chanterelles and porcinis, but it comes out pretty bland. What am I doing wrong?"
CK: Hi, this is Christopher Kimball. Thanks for downloading this week's podcast. You can go to our website 177 milk street.com to stream our television show, get our recipes or take our free online cooking classes. Enjoy the show. This is mlk street radio from PRX. I'm your host Christopher Kimball. Maneet Chauhan thinks the best way to sample the cuisines of India is to travel the country by train. Today she tells us about planning long railway journeys around the snacks served at different stations, such as funnel cakes or her favorite warm carrot pudding.
Maneet Chauhan: What we would do is we would try to find an ice cream vendor because we would take that hot gajar ka halwa and put cold vanilla ice cream on it. And that combination was absolutely deadly amazing. My mouth is watering when I’m talking to you about this.
CK: also coming up we'll make a vegetarian stew from Ethiopia and later Bianca Bosker find serenity by watching ultra peaceful cooking shows. But first we'll hear from Shannon Mustipher. She's the author of Tiki modern tropical cocktails. Shannon, welcome to Milk Street.
Shannon Mustipher: It's really great to be here. Thanks for having me.
CK : I love your book Tiki modern tropical cocktails. So what does the word Tiki mean? Where does it come from? And what is a Tiki cocktail?
SM: Sure. So Tiki refers... from a cultural standpoint, to religious practices and iconography from Polynesia. Now, where the cocktails are concerned, Tiki is a term that was applied retro actively. So it'd be getting of the age of tropical cocktails they were called exotic cocktails. And we're talking about mid 1930s, California at Don the Beachcombers in the Bay Area. Then later at Trader Vic's in subsequent restaurants. It was in the mid 80s, early 90s when Polynesian and tropical culture enthusiasts mostly in California began to research those bars and to look into bringing those cocktails back that you started to see the word Tiki emerge.
CK: Let's talk about some of the classics. Don Beachcomber’s zombie. what what's a zombie?
SM: The zombie is a showstopper of a drink. Okay, so this thing has three different rums in it. It has gravity, which is a pomegranate based juice, it kind of crosses the line in terms of sophistication because there's absent added to the shrank which is a nod to New Orleans adds more herbaceousness and you know elevates the drink beyond that the simple rum punch that is based on it's just like a pumped up kind of sexy around punch. And you know, there's some savvy marketing there's it's not just the cocktail that made it popular it was to limit to per customer. So people like trying to get a third one trying to order one through their friend. So um, you know, we're talking about the ingredients of the zombie but I think what's the biggest ingredient there is its its cultural impact.
CK : The mai tai, I didn't actually know what was in my tie until I picked up your book. So what is in my time?
SM: Sure. So the formulas change somewhat, but kind of simplified.. It is in most bars, a blend of Jamaican and Martin nation rums or Zosa which is an almond based liquor slash syrup. orange curacao and lime, it's it's simpler than a lot of places make it out to be
CK: what are some of the techniques like washing rum or bourbon? What does that mean?
SM: Sure. So washing means is essentially kind of a another way of saying infusing and Don Lee can't with his bro an idea of taking rendered fat from begun adding it to whiskey, giving it time to sit at room temperature and then later froze it so that the solids rose to the top and he can skim it off. And the result is you get this really nice creamy texture. And depending on what kind of fat we're talking about, it can be smoky. It could be nutty. So as an example, I worked a restaurant called the Finch. Why did the same thing with a smoked duck breast fat and rum and the shrink was so crazy. I loved it to pieces. It was so easy. It was like a cheat. I've done it with coconut oil and rums mezcal. It does all kinds of wonders no matter what spirit your using But it's just a nice way to add aroma and body and viscosity and just kind of smooth sending out.
CK: Man, you must have how many? Okay, in your bar? How many different bottles do you have?
SM: I stopped counting at 100. I it's kind of comical. I look at it daily I gaze upon who would fondness? There's just a lot going on here. But yeah, there's a good amount it's,
CK: it's probably 200 you just don't want to talk about it. So here's a question. You know, the martini, i think is trying to get you drunk as fast as possible. At least that's my take on the French aperitif is to sort of transition you from work to pleasure at the end of the day. What's the role of the Tiki cocktail? In other words, what is it that it's really, really about? Besides the flavors?
SM: Hey, first and foremost, fun, you know, and mystery adventure discovery. You know, I've had some of the best nights of my life and Tiki bars because the mood is irreverent. I just love that, that freedom to be free that you get in a Tiki cocktail in a Tiki environment.
CK : So what about Tiki drinks often have strange, interesting containers more much more so than regular cocktails? What role does the container play in all of this?
SM: It's vital because the fee starts with the eyes. So Tiki takes it like way over the top, like I've seen presentations where you know, to dry ice, and a vessel is set down and a treasure chest or you know it comes in a rum barrel, you know, comes in coconuts and hollowed out pineapples. You know, there's flaming garnishes I once judged a competition where the team from a bar called paradise lounge in bushwick that is sadly no longer with us. They brought it full force. It was a fish tank with my fish. So the fish were isolated from the cocktail was so but I there was fish in there. And it was, it was crazy.
CK: So with all these choices, you probably drink something really boring, right? It's always it's always the shoemaker son who doesn't have shoes. What do you drink?
SM: Well, I'm glad you asked. And you totally got me here. I love sparkling wine it’s really easy. It's conversational. It's like, that's my drink of choice in a bar. When I'm at home. I enjoy sour IPAs. I don't really do cocktails. But if I have a sphere's at home, it's usually neets or with a little bit of soda and lime. Keeping out you know really easy because some kind of like a chef that just wants a beer and cheese burger at the end of the day.
CK: I just knew that was going to happen. Shannon, thank you so much for being on Milk Street. I think it's time for my my time.
SM: Chris, this sounds like an excellent idea. And thank you so much for having me.
CK: That was Shannon Mustipher author of Tiki modern tropical cocktails. It's time to take your calls with my co host Sara Moulton. Sara is of course the star of Sara's weeknight meals on public television also author of home cooking 101.
Sara Moulton: Chris before we take the first call, I've got a question for you. We are heading into pumpkin season and I wanted to know what is your favorite thing to do with pumpkin
CK: Carve it and put a candle in it.
SM: Well alright, let's say winter squash then,
CK: You know slicing arounds roasted at 450 degrees, put some you know spices on it when you roasted and then serve it with some little Greek yogurt on the top. Maybe that's seasoned. You're done. Simple, delicious. I mean, it's a very yotam Ottolenghi kind of recipe, which I think is where I got the idea, but it's great with butternut squash, so
SM: sounds delicious. And also they're great vehicle for all those Middle Eastern spices. So yeah,
CK: yeah, it's simple. So okay, on to the calls. Welcome to Milk Street Who's calling?
Caller: Hey, this is Galen.
CK: Where are you calling from?
Caller: I'm calling from Cambridge, Massachusetts.
CK: I just saw you walk by - same town. How can we help you?
Caller: I guess my question is, generally, are all tomatoes created equal? I cooked a pizza last week and made a homemade tomato sauce and found myself wondering, should I put in fresh tomatoes if they're going to be cooked? If I do put in fresh tomatoes which kind of tomatoes should I put in some recipes call for Roma some just say tomatoes, some say canned tomatoes and then once you go down canned, diced, crushed, stewed what are the differences and what would be good to know about how to use them?
CK: Good question. First of all, all tomatoes are created equal. They're all equally terrible. In terms of fresh tomatoes. Last week, I got a couple tomatoes from my local greengrocer here, you know, they were pretty good, but about a third as good as what I grew up with, you know, as I remember anyway, so I don't know what's happened to tomatoes, but I've not had a great tomato other than small sun golds, the tiny ones for decades. In Italy, when we traveled there, when they make a tomato sauce, almost universally, they come out of a can. So I have no problem at all using canned tomatoes. The ones you want to stay away from are diced tomatoes, because they add calcium carbonate or something similar to firm them up. And they don't actually ever really cook down into a sauce. So can whole tomatoes is what I would use and make a sauce with them in terms of, you know, canning your own sauce or your own sauce to pour storage. Roma tomatoes, which don't have a lot of liquid in them tend to be meatier, but it's all about quality. Sara, do you have any? Well,
SM : I was gonna say for pizza. Like if I was going to make a pizza Margarita, I would use fresh tomatoes. But I would salt them first. I sort of agree with Chris I was sort of horrified by the first thing he said. But even getting from the farmers market sometimes they're a little milly inside or they're not quite as tomato we as they used to be.
CK: Okay, I'm gonna ask you have to answer honestly. Have you in the last five years ever picked up a tomato and smelled it and went Wow, that smells like a tomato.
SM : Yeah, and you're not gonna believe what it was it was cocktail tomatoes, on the vine from Whole Foods. Really? Yeah, they smelled fantastic and they tasted fantastic. But I generally have better luck with fresh tomatoes if I salt them first. And I salt them on both sides and leave them for 20 minutes and then pat them dry. And that really pulls out the excess liquid flavors of deeply and concentrates the tomato essence
CK: I would add also a big splash of really good fruity olive oil at the end. He gives you this texture this silky texture to the sauce and this flavor that I think even if you start with mediocre canned tomatoes is great. Use some grated onion, fry that up in the oil or saute in the oil. And then slice garlic. Don't use crushed garlic slice garlic close because they don't give you that really strong aftertaste. And don't overcook them in the oil. It'll cure a tomato. It's any deficiency because it just doesn't matter when you get those ingredients. Right Sara. I mean, it's really about this is tomato first day, right?
SM: it is too bad that we need tomato first aid though. I agree. It is what a shame. Anyway. Thank you for that shot. And yes,
Caller: I will. Thank you so much.
SM: Okay, take care. Take care. Bye bye.
CK: This is milk street radio. If you have a cooking question, give us a call anytime. The number is 85542698431 more time 855-426-9843 or email us at questions at milk street radio.com
SM : Welcome to milk street Who's calling? This is Carl. Hi, Carl. Where are you calling from?
Caller: Greeley Colorado.
SM : How can we help you today?
Caller: So I have a jar of preserved lemons. I'm looking to expand how I use them outside of making like tajines I'd like to use them in something like Babaghanoosh or hummus and I'm not really sure where to go with them. How do I start using them?
SM: I love preserved lemons. It's good stuff. I'd say anywhere you really want to add some acid in salt. So fish you know one of those fish is very bland and a sauce for fish or taking you know fish fillet and putting a mixture of say olives or maybe that's too much salt but preserve lemons on top some olive oil, some chopped scallions or something baking it off. That would be wonderful. In any kind of sauce with baked chicken thighs in butter added to mayonnaise for dip. You could put it on sandwiches as a crunch like a pickle. Yeah, I mean, there's so many things you can do with it. Chris, you want to weigh in?
CK : Well, yeah, besides the test sheet, I would say any braise I mean, that's just a braise any braise or stirred meats do, I slice little crescents of them and put them in a stew and they sort of almost dissolve as you cook them but they add a nice undercurrent you know if you don't use too much of it, if you just use the peel and dice it finally, you could make a relish with it with olives or whatever. You could put a little bit of it with softened butter, and sort of have a lemony butter which would be nice over chicken or fish or whatever, and also bulgar, couscous other grains. Just mix a little bit of it in like maybe two teaspoons of that chopped or very finely minced rind. In with that, I'll just give it a little bit of boost. I mean, I think the secret of this is to keep it underwhelming, right? It's fairly potent, you know, it says one of those things, you're adding layers of flavor. And this is just another layer. You can throw it into Greek yogurt, a little bit of diced rind with some oil and herbs. As a dipping sauce. That would also work.
Caller: Okay, are you separating it from the peel? Then if I were to mix it and say, Greek yogurt? Would I separate the peel from the pit?
CK : Yes, that makes sense. You just finely very finely dice. This is one of the few times when you actually need knife skills. You want to finely dice the peel, but you'd separate it from the pith. I mean, if you're using a stew or tajine, I wouldn't bother I would just throw it in.
Caller: sure sure Okay. Yeah. No, that makes perfect sense.
SM : That was good. That was good.
Caller: Yeah, that gives me a lot to work with.
CK: Okay. All right, Carl. Thanks.
Caller: All right, care. Bye. Bye. Bye.
CK: You’re listening to milk street radio. Up next, we're chatting with Chef and author maneet chauhan. We'll be right back. This is milk street radio. I'm your host Christopher Kimball. Right now it's my interview with Chef and TV personality Maneet Chauhan about her new book: chaat. Maneet Welcome to milk Street.
Maneet Chauhan: Thank you so much, Chris, I'm so excited to be talking to you.
CK : It's a pleasure having you. So we're talking about India, which is gigantic. We're talking about train stations, we're talking about snacks chaats. Before we do that you started as a as a kid in the winter traveling on a 900 mile journey to see your grandparents. So you have a lot of experience traveling by rail, could you just give us a quick primer on what that was like?
MC: Absolutely. It's one of my favorite memories. Winter Break used to be going to Punjab, which is northern India. And that's where my paternal grandparents were. And summer holidays would be going to southern India where my maternal grandparents were. So it was incredible. The trains were and are unlike the trains over here, the windows would be open, the doors would be open, the train would stop at each and every small train stop. And the local vendors from that city or that town or that village would just climb the train to sell what was popular in that destination. And I would just look forward to all these train stations because I had mapped my entire two to three day journey based on what I was going to eat at what station.
CK: Why Why am I here in Boston? I feel like I've been deprived all my life, because I would have loved that train trip to. So chaat ch double a T is a Hindi word I guess meaning to like it's a snack. And so could you just give us some sense of the range of foods that you might experience? I assume it's huge.
MC: Oh my god Absolutely. Like I firmly believe that you can make anything into a chaat chaat is this lickable concoction of different textures, flavors, there is sweet there is spicy, there's tangy, there's crunchy. And just a perfect bite of all of these together is what makes a perfect chaat. You can go to any corner in India and there will be a chaat. Like for example, in Delhi in winter, you get a sweet potato and a star fruit chaat. You know people keep on coming up with new chaats. And I also have been guilty of creating charts based on what is seasonal over here. Like recently, I created a strawberry and rhubarb chaat, which was incredible.
CK : So you structured this book around the railway stations around India, is that because those are the defining places where chaat are served?
MC: Well, to me one of the biggest reasons of planning the book around railway stations was that in a really short span of time, let's say two or three day train journey, you can taste and experience dishes which are so vastly different. So if you're traveling from eastern India to southern India, based on the number of states that you're going to cover, just the buffet of dishes That you're going to travel is so extensive, and just shows the range of dishes that you can get in India.
CK: You mentioned in the book a couple of things that that struck me. One was funnel cakes I'm familiar with in the American version at the fairs in late August. Can we talk about funnel cakes
MC: absolutely funnel cakes pretty much are jelabi’s, which is really funny because that's what I made with my daughter last night. They are these amazing, crispy, crunchy, smaller versions of what we see as a funnel cake over here. In India with jelabis, what we do is we soak it in a sugar syrup, which usually has cardamom and saffron in it. And I can just imagine myself having a bite of that crunchy, sweet, crispy, warm jelabis in the middle of a chilly like winter.
CK: Here's one that caught my eye carrot pudding was saffron and pistachios. That sounds terrific.
MC: It's incredible. You know, the best memories that I have of the gajar ka halwa is it's usually we could only get it during the winters because winters was the time that carrot was harvested. And the winter carrots in India are red in color. And you would have hot gajar halwa, which has been cooked in a lot of ghee and it has the most decadent and luxurious taste to it, especially when it's warm. And then what we would do is we would try to find an ice cream vendor because we would take that hot gajar halwa and put cold vanilla ice cream on it. And that combination was absolutely deadly amazing. My mouth is watering while I'm talking to you about this.
CK: One of the shots you talk about. It has Tutti Frutti serial cars with lots of mango and ice cream. So some of some of these are kind of fanciful. Let me put it that way.
MC: which is I think what a lot of chaats are, I think chaats to me is almost a study of overindulgence. You know, let's add one more component to take this over the top, and which is how I approach charts when I make chaats at any of my restaurants. I'm like, Huh, this is perfect. What else can I add to this? That's how a chaat comes about in my mind.
CK: So it says to me, the chaats may have started as a practical way of feeding people who were on long trips on railways. But over time, they evolved in as you said into something where it was over the top indulgence, but did they start start that way or they just started as a practical way of feeding people. You know.
MC: it's really interesting, I was trying to read the history of chaats and they say that the chaats were conceived in the Royal kitchens. But now chaat has pretty much mass appeal like when you go to India you will see on corners, they are the street vendors who are surrounded by people and at a lightning pace they are making one or two charts which they are known for. And that's it they will not have an extensive menu of 1015 items there will be one or two things that they are good at and that there are people from all over the city who go there to just eat the chart that they make.
CK: Okay, so I want to make a chaat but I'm I'm like novice chaat category here. So could you give me a example or give our listeners an example of something they could make at home? That would be simple to make.
MC: I think the simplest chaat to make is an aloo gobi chaat which is a potato chaat. Basically what you do is you just peel the potatoes, boil it cut it into cubes, sizable cubes, and then deep fry those potatoes so that it has the crunchy exterior and you know the creamy interior almost like French fries right and then just toss it with red chili powder, roasted cumin powder and then there is a spice blend which is called chaat masala which is predominantly dried mango powder so it's tart and then put it in a bowl, top it with some yogurt, some tamarind chutney which can be store bought and then top it maybe if you have pomegranate seeds, some cilantro. And that I think is one of the simplest shots to make. You know what I love doing are these chaat parties where I get all of these ingredients I put it on a table and when my friends come they make their own chaats based on their preferences.
CK: if you talk about different regions of India, are there some flavor combinations that help to find different cuisines or regions? I know that's infinitely complicated.
MC: No, like, if you think about southern India, southern India uses a lot of coconut oil uses curry leaves uses mustard seeds and the spice blends tend to be a little bit more spicy here. And then when we go to northern India, Northern India has the heavy battery sources a lot of nuts are also used in sources. And then you look at western India, western India has the Portuguese influence. So there is a lot of breads which are used in snacks which are stuffed with fritters made of spiced potatoes, or even goat or mutton. And then eastern India, there is a lot of mustard oil in there cooking. So this is pretty much just scratching the surface. Because each and every region has distinct spices that make it uniquely that states
CK: are there certain things that just exist in restaurants that don't exist in the home kitchen, there's a divide there.
MC: You know, the the authentic tandoori dishes, you find more in restaurants because of the lack of a thunder in the house. But you know what, there is a really interesting Hindi word, which is jugar. jugar means that you very creatively come up with solutions for a problem that is presented in front of you. So I have seen people without a tandoor who would make a naan on the back of a griddle and turn it over a fire. Or as you know, my mom would do she would you know, a pressure cooker is a quintessential equipment in each and every Indian household, she would put three Nan's on the wall inside the wall of a pressure cooker and then turn it over a gas stove. Or to get the really smoky flavor that you get from the tandoor. What we do is we take a piece of charcoal, just on the fire burn it and when it is red hot, put it in a metal bowl, and put that bowl in the chicken curry and put a little bit of ghee on it and seal it. And that way the smoke so basically your it's our smoking gun.
CK: That's a really good idea. But let me just say, your mother, let me just to get this right. Your mother took a pressure cooker and turned it upside down over a gas stove to make an improv tender oven.
CK: want to make sure that right. Okay. I like that. It's pretty amazing. So Bombay, Mumbai is special. It's huge. The food scene is amazing. Do you have a special passion for that city because of its size and complexity? Or does it stand out in some way from the rest of India.
MC: What I love about Mumbai is the melting pot that it is, right there are some dishes which are so quaint, essential. But the fun part is that all of these dishes have had an influence from all over the world. And that's what makes it so delicious. There is a five star hotel which has the best food. And right behind that is street food, which has the most incredible kebabs and you go to the street food, there'll be a person who is not doing economically as well, eating the same food with a person who has driven up in a Ferrari. So to me, what Mumbai signifies is that food, good food is something that just brings everybody together. You know, regardless of the economic standing you are or what religion you are or where you are from.
CK: I think I need to say amen to that. Many thank you so much for being on milk street really My pleasure.
MC: Thank you, Chris.
CK: That was maneet chauhan. Her book is chott recipes from the kitchens markets and railways of India. Back in 1971, I booked a third class seat on the Orient Express from Istanbul to Salzburg, changing trains in Zagreb in part of Yugoslavia. On the first night, I snuck up to an empty first class carriage to be woken in the early morning with a jolt, the train had derailed having struck a cow on the tracks. But back in third class I discovered that the train had no food, and so generous Turkish workers share their garlicky blood sausage. I finally learned to purchase dinner during quick stops in small Yugoslavian towns, from vendors who were crowding the platform. And I also learned the train Travel whether India or now Croatia is not just transportation. It's the very best way to get to know the people as well as their food. It's time to head into kitchen and milk straight to chat with JM Hirsch about this week's recipe, which is Ethiopian style chickpeas to Jason, how are you?
JM Hirsch: I'm doing great.
CK: You were in Ethiopia.
JH: I was Addis ABaba.
CK: And you came across a recipe which is very common there, which we don't tend to make here, which is the chickpeas stew. But it's not the kind of stew that I would think of as chickpeas.
JH: No, no, you know, it has the consistency actually of polenta. And it's called Shiro Wat. What and it is made from a combination of onions and spices, and a mixture of ground dried chickpeas that have been seasoned. It's cooked very much again, like polenta and as so much of Ethiopian food is it's eaten with injera, the sourdough kind of spongy flatbread that they use both as a bread and as a utensil. It's a daily meal, because it's inexpensive, easy to make, and very nutritious. And so I cooked with a woman Teagess Chanai, who's a very talented home cook, who introduced me to not just this dish, but also to kind of the way spices work in Ethiopian cooking, which was completely different from what I expect,
CK: why I saw some of the photos from your trip, and one of them was a guy, grinding spices, and the entire shop was orange.
JH: Yeah, you know, it's fascinating because spices are treated so much differently in Ethiopian cuisine. When we're cooking, we often think of the main component of the meal, whether it's protein or vegetable, or whatever. And then we figure out how we want to spice it, they come in from the opposite direction, where they start with the spices very often, it's berbere, which is kind of the national spice blend, it's got a lot of chilies in it, it's got the fenugreek, cumin, and depending on whose blend you're using could be dozens of other ingredients. And spices are so important that they actually have community spice mills in most villages, where you go to the market, you buy your ingredients, often to make eburi and then you bring them to the spice mill and they grind them for you. So two guests was showing me shiro wat. And what was interesting was that, like most wats, or stews and Ethiopian cooking, begin the same way they begin by cooking onions in oil, and then adding copious amounts of berbere or other spice blends. And then you decide what's the protein or what's the vegetable you're going to add. So they come at it from the opposite direction, which is really fascinating. In this case, we're making sure a lot which uses the ground chickpeas and it was really delicious. And as I was talking to tegis, I was thinking, Oh, this is really a very interesting stew and is there a version of it that uses whole chickpeas and I was kind of curious because I saw the ground chickpeas everywhere. And that's when she introduced me to a terro wat, which is essentially the same stew, but with whole chickpeas. And I saw that over and again in Ethiopia, where it kind of starts with the same base, the onions, the oil, the berbere, and then you could use chicken and make dora wat what you could use red lentils, you could use chickpeas, you can use collards and it goes in many directions is really fascinating.
CK: So the berbere the spice blend is also there. I mean, there's a lot of it. Not a teaspoon,
JH: no no tablespoons sometimes by the cup full depending on what you're making.
CK: So it's also texture as well spice right exactly.
JH: doesn't just add flavor, it thickens the stew, which was really fascinating to watch me she was preparing a large volume of this for me. And she was stirring in this large cauldron with a broomstick Actually, it was so much and as she was stirring, she added just cup fulls of every and it turned to the stew bright, bright red and really thick.
CK: We're not used to massive amounts of spices, spice mixes spice blends, do you find that overpowers everything else or somehow it works with the other ingredients,
JH: you know, the other ingredients tend to be so simple and that's actually one of the reasons that spices are so important in Ethiopian cooking is the main ingredients tend to be very simple ingredients, you know, onions and chicken and not a whole lot else you have some simple greens. So the spices end up being a main component of the dish again, we tend to think of them after you know, we tend to think of them as the way we bring the chicken out. But this is actually the main component and it was really really an interesting way of approaching cooking. Jason
CK: thank you and chickpeas too from Ethiopia, which we make with whole chickpeas I think some ground lentils and lots of berbere although we make up our own version of course, JM Thank you.
JH: Thank you can get this recipe for Ethiopian style chickpeas stew at milk street radio.com
CK : you're listening to milk street radio, coming up. Bianca Bhaskar introduces us to the internet's most peaceful cooking videos. more in just a moment. This is milk street radio. I'm Christopher Kimball. Next up Sara Moulton and I will be answering a few more of your cooking questions.
SM: Welcome to milk street Who's calling?
Caller: Hi, this is Heather Linden Minh from Indiana.
SM: How can we help you today?
Caller: I recently had some pork processed. My kids have wort pigs and we process the meat at the end of the summer. And Previously, we haven't had the pork neck bones. But they were included in the processing this time, and I'm not quite sure what to do with them.
SM: Wow, well, first of all, I have to applaud you for having your kids raise pigs, and then having them you know, getting the pigs processed. If you're going to be a carnivore, that's all good stuff to know and be responsible. So yay. But let me just say about neck bones there, you can braise them just like ox tails or Shanks. They're really in the same category. You know, you could brown them off or not brown them off. I mean, Chris will probably leap on that bandwagon. So you don't need to brown them off first and then you know, add some liquids, you can make a nice gravy or sauce or whatever, and then just cook them till they're tender. And they'll be delicious. Chris, you want to weigh in?
CK : Yeah, I mean, I've had a stew in oaxaca, where they use neck bones and they think and it was masa, some corn mill with a lot of chilies and it was delicious. The thing I would do with it. I was in Mexico City A year ago and came back with this great recipe for stewed beans. And I would just cook the neck bones in with the beans, you know, obviously, take the bones out you have some of the meat there and it would flavor the beans would be a great flavoring. So that would be my highest and best use. We used to raise pigs on our farm too. And the kids we'd actually slaughter the pigs on the farm in late September. My second oldest daughter Caroline was quite helpful when she was a young girl. And now she's into farming and raises rabbits and chickens and all sorts of things. I agree with Sara if you're going to do it, it's great to have the kids see the process because then they understand it so good for you.
SM: I was just going to add one more dish with the neck bones what Italian Americans referred to as Sunday gravy, which is you know when they make that tomato sauce and add all different kinds of meat products to it. And I think you know just raised in a nice tomato eat garlic sauce would be yummy with the neck bones too. Although I love the bean idea, you know pork and beans, woo. match made in heaven. Any rate? Thanks so much for calling.
CK: Thanks for calling in and good for you for having raised the pigs.
SM: absolutely. Well, thank you so much.
CK : Take care. Bye bye. Okay,
CK: this is milk street radio. If you want to master a new technique or find out about a new pantry stable, give us a call 85542698431 more time and slowly 8554 to 69843 or email us at questions at milk street radio.com Welcome to milk street Who's calling?
Caller: Hi, this is Sam.
CK: Where are you calling from?
Caller: I'm in Geneva Switzerland.
SM: Whoa, okay,
CK: I've been there briefly for a few days. So how can we help you?
Caller: I find when I make pasta with mushrooms, it ends up kind of disappointing and I've been trying a lot of different mushrooms, regular button mushrooms and chanterelles and porcinis. You know just using olive oil and garlic but just comes out pretty bland and I don't know what I'm doing wrong.
CK: If you're using button mushrooms which have almost no flavor to start with, it's not about the mushrooms it's really about the cooking so I would use butter to saute them I will use a fair amount of salt like duxelle which is a reduced finely chopped mushroom which is used as stuffing or filling. I would cook away down you could consider adding a umami ingredient to it first, tomato paste to the pan before you add mushrooms you could add a couple anchovies, which dissolve in the oil before you add the mushrooms cook it way down. You got to use highly concentrated ingredients don't add anything else to it just the mushrooms, salt, butter cream. Make sure it's really reduced. If you finish the pasta in the sauce make sure you don't have too much pasta water in it. You want to get this really concentrated a little brandy or cognac to finish at the end like you would with duxelle.
SM : Sam Did you slice the mushrooms
Caller: I just sliced them kind of roughly.
SM :Well slicing is good because that means they're thin and they were all fresh.
Caller: Yeah, I have always used fresh ones. I essentially started out with some olive oil that put a like a whole clove of garlic and just let it get a little golden brown. Then I throw the mushrooms in and wait till they get golden brown and then I'll throw in perhaps a bit of thyme. bit of white wine and then the pasta and some of the pasta water
SM: are you salting the pasta water.
Caller: I salt the pasta water and I felt the mushrooms I probably use less salt than Chris would suggest.
SM: and probably then I would suggest I use a pinch. Technically the pasta water should almost taste like salt before you add the pasta, so let me suggest what I would do. I would dice up some shallots and saute them till they're translucent. Then I would add the sliced mushrooms and cook them till they give off their liquid and begin to get golden. Then I would add minced garlic and cook that for about 30 seconds. I approve of the white wine. But meanwhile, something else I was going to suggest is to get some dried porcini and soak them in warm water for 20/30 minutes. Then save the soaking liquid from the porcine and add both the porcine and the cooking liquid to the mushrooms that you've already sauteed. cook your pasta in salted water and then drain the pasta before it's finished cooking. So add the pasta a little bit of the pasta cooking liquid some chicken broth and finished cooking the pasta in the skillet and then throw in a nice freshly grated handful of Parmesan cheese. And I bet you'll be happy. Alright, too many ideas.
CK: Thanks for calling all the best.
Caller: Thanks, guys. I'm a big fan.
SM: Take care. Okay.
CK: This is milk street radio. Now it's time for some culinary inspiration from one of our listeners.
Caller: I'm Jim for Redding, California. My tip is about marinating tofu. can't squeeze all the water out. Can't get it to marinate, right? It just never works. My vegetarian sister told me the secret. freeze it solid and then defrost it naturally in the refrigerator. And then it squeezes out like a sponge and soaks up all their meridian like a sponge. This works it changes the consistency. It's good. Give it a shot freeze your tofu.
CK : If you'd like to share your own cooking tip, I'm Milk Street radio, please go to 17 milkstreet.com/radiotips. Next up, it's journalist Bianca Bosker. Bianca, what's on your mind this week?
Bianca Bosker: Well, I've recently become obsessed with this cooking show that's so tranquil, so minimal, it makes julia child look like our punk rock concert.
CK: Wait is that is that my show what are you talking about?
BB: So it's actually a YouTube channel called peaceful cuisine. And it's done by someone named Roy takashima, who has also worked teaching cooking classes. And as a chef, and nominally each video on his YouTube channel is about a different vegan recipe. So learning to make things like mochi or lemon cake or ice cream. But I actually think that the real pleasure of it is not in learning to make anything at all, but just in the experience of watching it. You know, I think that there's so many cooking shows that are about information. And this one is really just about vegging out, watching and experiencing. I mean, the videos themselves are little cinematic masterpieces, very soft focus, soothing color palette, all you see are basically close ups of takashima’s hands or the food that he is working with. So, you know, a wooden cutting board on a rough hewn table, slopes of powdered sugar with little crumbs falling down it.
CK: Is this like a white noise machine except cinematically done? Or is there a method to his madness? Is there some other message he's delivering here? Oh, absolutely.
BB: I mean, I should say that, you know, while I think a lot of other cooking shows really traffic in adrenaline, right, you've got the banter, you've got the competition. The charm of this is that everything has been stripped away, very little happens, which I think is precisely the appeal. So takashima barely talks at all, if ever. What you get instead are sort of these super imposed instructions, you have 200 grams of beans or water. And all you hear is the sounds of his cooking and preparation. And, you know, I think think of food porn as being visual. But in this case, the sound is a big part of the appeal and it is a very big appeal. Peaceful cuisine has more than 2 million followers on YouTube and avid fans all over the world.
CK: So is this something you think came out of, you know, some very smart Corporate people who knew a lot about the film industry? Or do you think this was a homegrown guy with a couple of cameras who just figured this out on his own?
BB: I think it was a homegrown guy. I mean, I have to say, I don't know the whole kind of creation myth of peaceful cuisine. But what is certain is that it's really tapped into something online. Are you familiar with ASMR?
BB: Oh, wow. ASMR is Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. So there are some people who, when they hear the sound of whispering, or they be the swish of feather, or fabric, get a really calm kind of tingly feeling often in the scalp. It sort of provokes this feeling like you're melting. And the internet is full of ASMR videos, but peaceful cuisine for some people, is a big hit within this sort of sub genre of ASMR cooking videos.
CK : So what does ASMR or this peaceful cuisine? Tell us about what's going on with the human condition right now? Because I bet you thought of this.
BB: I have, I would say there's two things. One is, they are as the name implies, peaceful. I mean, they feel like this wonderful antidote to this frenzy, manic pace that so many of us go to. I mean, I think oftentimes, when I'm on the internet, it's just this flood of information, and people doing things and colors and music and words. And this, again, just strips it away. It's very bare, it's very slow. And there's something really wonderful about that, you know, when you read the comments on these videos, people talk about how they watch these videos, and they put them to sleep. And in this case, that's a really good thing. And I would say, there's a second thing that I've really relished about them, which is that I think when it comes to food, we oftentimes sort of fetishize the raw ingredient, or the final product. And we oftentimes skip over all of that work that happens in between the cutting the measuring the pouring, and for me, I really love the way that peaceful cuisine just lingers in each act of the cooking process.
CK : Well, this is the opposite of when I was young, everyone in the food industry was selling us on cooking is being inconvenient, right? It's the work it’s between the raw ingredient and the finished product, all that stuff you want to get rid of. And that's still being sold today, right? I mean, you buy an appliance to get rid of some of the work. You're saying it's the work. It's the stuff in between, we should celebrate, because that's the joy of cooking is the knife sliding through the cucumber. And the final food, which we always take to be the you know, the big moment is actually not the big one. But the big moment was getting there.
BB: Yeah, exactly. I mean, do you know the kind of creaky rubbery sound that cutting into a cabbage makes it squeaking? It's great. Yeah, it's this wonderful sound, and that little wiggly dance at the top of lemon cake does when you cut through it? Um, you know, I think that some of the recipes are certainly there. They're definitely inconvenient. I mean, you look at the video for making lemonade and hope boy, there's a lot of steps. But I also have to say that you know, whether I make that lemonade or not, I've really enjoyed watching Takeshima do it.
CK: Bianca, thank you. Now I know what you do to fall asleep. You listen to a knife squeaking through cabbage. Thank you so much. I'm gonna go check it out.
BB: Thank you.
CK: That was journalist Bianca Bosker. Peaceful cuisine on YouTube has over 2 million subscribers. proving the old law of physics for every action, there's an equal but opposite reaction. You know, social media is a hotbed of equal but opposite offerings. If you'd like it fast, they're slow, feel like it loud, there's peaceful. If you want to short there's long. So the next time a pundit tries to derive meaning from social media, I suggest they follow the laws of physics. If you try to find some meaning, you'll find no meaning at all. That's it for today. If you tuned in later, just want to listen again. You can download and subscribe to milk street radio on Apple podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you find your podcasts. To learn more about milk Street, please go to 177 milk street com there you can download each week's recipe. Watch the latest season of our television show or order our latest cookbook, milk street fast and slow, Instant Pot cooking at the speed you need. You can also find us on Facebook at Christopher Kimball's milk street on Instagram and Twitter at 177 milk street. before you go I'd like to take a moment to thank our co executive producer that's Annie Sinsabaugh for making milk street radio such a great success. Any smarts her experience her hard work had been the foundation of this show for years. And I want to wish her well she moves on to other challenges. To paraphrase Edward R. Murrow Goodbye and good luck.
Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio is produced by Milk Street, in association with GBH
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