Christopher Kimball: This is milk Street Radio from PRX. I'm your host Christopher Kimball. Today we're exploring the seacoast of Maine with Chef Mike Wiley. We dig into clambakes his favorite often ignored fish and why store-bought ketchup is really better than homemade.
Mike Wiley: Andrew Arlen and I have always wanted to run restaurants where pretty much everything is done from scratch except Heinz 57 ketchup, which nobody should mess with.
CK: Also coming up, we find a fix for flavorless tomatoes. And later Dan Pashman explains why he thinks grilling has gotten gimmicky. But first is my interview with poet and Chef Omar Tate. Omar, welcome to Milk Street.
Omar Tate: Thank you, thank you for having me.
CK: It's great to have you. (Um) let's talk about your pop-up dinners called Honeysuckle because you just describe, you know, what you serve and what the pop ups are like.
OT: Honeysuckle is a concept that uses food as the nucleus to explore various ideas of the nuances of blackness in America specifically. And I say America specifically because black people in this country have quite quite quite the hurdle in our search for identity and that many of us can't trace back our heritage more than two grandparents ago. And what tends to happen, at least in my experience as a black person in this country is that people will ask me, hey, where are you from? What is your nationality? But if I tell them that I'm just a black person from Philadelphia, and that I'm American, that's kind of where the conversation stops. You know, Africans and West Indians have a heritage they have a flag. Michael Twitty talks a lot about having a flag and his book The Cooking Gene and having a flag. Like if you point towards the the flag of Jamaica, what do you think of foodwise you think of oxtail, you think of rice and peas. When you tell someone that you're an African American, most people only ever associate that with pain, and then stereotypes under the American flag. So, Honeysuckle to me, is me. generating a flag for myself. It's not it's not just pain. Pain is pain is always there. But there were plenty of joys as well.
CK: You write poetry, and you wrote a poem called Folgers? Which I have read 15 times since I saw it. Could you just read that because I I'm not going to read your poem, you're going to have to read you're
OT: Sure. Folgers. Folgers is one of my favorite ones. I don't write love poems often but… Can we have coffee? I mean, like really have it? Can we put down our words and swaddle our breasts and hints of cocoa, cinnamon, and clove? Can I stare into your brown eyes while the dew of God washes over your face by our window next to the eucalyptus. The syrup spoons coursing in our hearts. Just black. Don't need no sugar neither only you and silk from midriff to toes, phrase baby hairs and a T shirt that now belongs to us. Can we have it till it's done? Can we fill our empty cans of coffee bean with the grease that will fry our chicken forever?
OT: I'm really, I'm really glad that you liked that.
CK: Could you just explain a little bit about it?
OT: Yeah. Sure. I'm not sure if you remember the commercial. The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup. And for people who are in a relationship, the person that you love is the best part of waking up when you when you wake up and you you see that person next to you. And so, in this in this poem, the car, the coffee, the stimuli is my partner.
CK: You've had a very successful career. You ended up doing these pop-ups, something you really believed in now you're essentially back home in Philadelphia. You say there isn't much in my room, but a mattress a leaning bookshelf and a Eucalyptus plant that I found in a public flowerpot. It's blue grey and brings me joy when the days are down. So,what happens next?
OT: You know, I wrote that, and I know it sounds really somber. I think the the the somberness comes from everything coming to a screeching halt. There was a huge full stop at around March 15th when when I moved back to Philadelphia. But all the things that I was doing prior to this pandemic, it was all leading me back to Philadelphia. And so, I met up I'm in the place where I'm supposed to be. What's next is what I want to do is open Honeysuckle here. The art that I do create speaks to the African American community. And I would like to spread that over several different avenues such as like a grocer, a coffee space and still do dinners. But have it be a community center. The idea in the past was to open Honeysuckle downtown but what I want to do now is bring downtown to the hood like that's, I would love to see the economy spread outward, into the hands into the pockets of those who need it.
CK: If you look forward five or 10 years, and take a best-case scenario, what would you like to see happen as a result of what we're going through now? What would be the best case for you in terms of community or the way people think about food and culture?
OT: Restaurants were never about food. And I think that people don't understand that restaurants were always about people, people first that needed food. So, if we can start looking at that, again, everything else will fall into place. I was having conversation with a friend of mine who owns the restaurant here ____ Barbacoa. And we were talking about how most restaurants exist in the way that restaurants are existing. Now, during the pandemic, they've already existed like that. If you go to a small mom and pop restaurant, in most cases, there are only a few tables, not many tables and are far apart. Just counter service. People are already wearing gloves. There's a sneeze guard. The food is typically served out of like steamers or buffet tables kept hot, above 140 degrees. And there's minimal hand to hand contact. There's barely a server. And it's really only when you get to the honestly arrogance of fine dining where all these exchanges are happening where there's a server and there’s a crumb on your table and wineglasses all over the place and the solutions for for the future already exist. We just have to pay attention to the people that we weren't paying attention to. Because they had they been had the answers.
CK: Omar, it's been just a great pleasure having you on a chef, a poet, man who knows history and literature. Thank you so much.
OT: Thank you. Thank you. I really appreciate it.
CK: That was Omar Tate, the chef and poet behind Honeysuckle. Now it’s time to take some of 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 HomeCooking101. First, I have a question for you. (Yeah) when you bake, do you have all sorts of different kinds of like French style bakery pants and different sizes and different lengths individual, tartlets are you stick to like the basic American pie?
Sara Moulton: I am so basic, you know, I feel like either you're a cooker or a baker and mainly I'm a cooker. So, I don't have a huge battery of baking equipment. I have what I need. And so, you're right just the basic America stuff.
CK: Sara so so down to earth.
SM: Oh, okay
CK: time to take some calls
SM: Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?
Caller: Hi, my name is Michael from Chico, California.
SM Hi, Michael. How can we help you today?
Caller: I had a question. I was making some pasta with my daughter, and I wanted to throw some mozzarella in it some fresh mozzarella I had in the fridge, and I've done this before and I had the same problem where instead of getting all melty and delicious like I was expecting it kind of got all gummy and lost its moister and it was good mozzarella and turned into bad mozzarella. And I was wondering how can I make it more melty instead of gummy
SM: Okay, so the gummy gummy first of all, you said it was fresh mozzarella?
Caller: It was
SM: It was and so it was full fat?
CK: Would you say fresh? It was packed in water or brine. How did it come?
Caller: It was packed in yeah in water. Yeah, you know like the nice soft It was delicious before I put it in the pasta and then just lost it all
SM: Tell me what else was in the pasta and what kind of heat you had.
Caller: I think I had some sun-dried tomatoes and some basil and olive oil and pasta but it was all finished. I put it in right at the end.
SM: There was no liquid.
Caller: No, it might have been a little bit moist. Just from being pasta baked. Yeah, no other than olive oil. Well, I
SM: Well, I sort of think you were asking it to do something it can't really do you know which is to just melt down into like a cheesy melted stuff. Was it grated or was it cubed or what was it?
Caller: It was just cubes,
SM: Pretty small cubes?
Caller: Decent size cubes, maybe like the size of a small olive or something?
SM: Well, what I would recommend we used to make this recipe at Gourmet tomato mozzarella basil pasta in the summer. We would put you know the tomatoes and really good olive oil and maybe a little bit of vinegar or lemon juice on top the tomatoes, lots of salt, let it sit, you know just sort of created juice. And we tried a bunch of basil and then we'd put little tiny cubes of mozzarella in with the tomatoes. And then we just dumped the pasta on top. Just stir it up and you'd get little pockets of melted cheese, but it wouldn't turn into a sauce which is what I think you're regretting you were looking for a sauce.
CK: I've been making that recipe for years that I get it from Gourmet?
SM: You may have
CK: Or I may have stolen it from you
Caller: I wasn't necessarily looking for a sauce. I was looking for little bits of the melted cheese, but the problem was that it got gummy like it lost all its moisture and just got like, kind of chewy, like leftover gum.
CK: Well, I have a suggestion use burrata.
SM: Yes, because the middle of burrata is cream,
CK: it's cream inside. That'll give you a creamy sauce. That's that you can get that anywhere
SM: the butterfat content and the cream center will keep the whole thing together,
CK: You should do two things you should do this completely off heat. put all the ingredients in a bowl and then drain the pasta and then put it in the bowl. You should also reserve some of the pasta cooking water liquid.
SM: Pasta cooking water liquid yeah,
CK: reserve a cup and just add a little bit of the time that will make it and that will help create a sauce so the pasta is not wicking up extra moisture. And also, that hot water will tend to help melt the cheese a little bit. And that'll do it.
Caller: All right,
SM: Yeah. Okay.
Caller: Well, thank you.
CK: Now I'm hungry. That's a great recipe. Really? It's great in summer.
SM: Yeah, that tomato mozzarella basil.
CK: Mike. Thanks for calling. All right.
Caller: Thank you. Take care.
SM: Thanks, Mike. Bye, bye.
CK: I used to make this in my standard August. I'd make that every week.
SM: It’s so good.
CK: Well, it's so simple.
SM: Did you just do basil; did you add other herbs?
CK: No, I had basil in the garden, I had tomatoes in the garden. I had mozzarella not in the garden.
SM: Yeah. so good. So simple.
CK: Okay, next call.
SM: Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?
Caller: This is Gary Gold from California.
SM: Hi, Gary, how can we help you?
Caller: So, the question I have is, I'm gluten intolerant. And I'm looking for some basic recipes that would use nut butter or nut flour, and specifically either cashews or pecan, or almonds. And I'd like to know whether it's better to just ground it to a flour state or to take it all the way to a butter. And then a second part of the question would be if I want to use chocolate as a flavor, do you recommend using cocoa or chocolate chips?
SM: You want to use this in what kind of recipe a sweet recipe it sounds like
Caller: Either a cake or a brownie recipe as a foundation, whether it can use a butter and nut butter or flour as a substitute for an all-purpose flour.
SM: Well not as a direct substitute. I think what you're looking at is a flour. And so, for people who don't know, you know, when you say almond flour, it's just finely ground almonds. And it sort of depends on the recipe. But I think a butter would be too dense. However, a butter say in a brownie might work would you'd have still have to add the eggs and leaven it?
Caller: And in the leavening agents, would you recommend the baking soda or powder or both?
SM: Baking soda you add when there's acid in the recipe as well because it reacts with the acid and baking powder, you know will just do its thing anyway. And sometimes they're used in combination, depending on what else is in the recipe. Chris, do you want to weigh in here?
CK: I agree with all that. I would say first of all, you can't substitute a nut butter for nut flour that is totally different. Almond flour, it seems to me is the most useful of all of those. It's easy to find in supermarkets keep it refrigerated, itwill go bad quickly. But what I would do is not go down the substitution route. There are plenty of cakes, which don't use wheat flour, they use a nut flour. So go seek out those recipes. And they're not substitutes they just are great recipes that don't use wheat flour. And I think almond flour is really the one to go with for substituting wheat flour. You can buy commercial gluten free flours, they use white rice flour, brown rice flour, corn starch, potato starch, they have some other things in them and they do a pretty good job but I go find a recipe that's engineered from the start for a nut flour
Caller: And in terms of the chocolate flavor or the recommended chocolate or cocoa powder or combination
CK: Chocolate chips tend to have other things in them, so they keep their shape you know when they're baked? (Yeah) so those are not going to be any good. cocoa powder is usually the best way to make a chocolate cake. It doesn't have intense chocolate flavor. That's why a lot of cakes use melted chocolate and
SM: a combo yeah
CK: but you can't figure this out on your own you really have to go to a recipe.
Caller: Oh, ok
CK: It's so tricky and the pH of the batter and this and that the other thing I mean chocolate is slightly acidic and there's a whole bunch of other issues. And cocoa powder tends to be alkaline which is not acidic. So, we have a steam chocolate cake. You make it in a pot on top of the stove. It's one of my favorite chocolate cakes and it just uses cocoa powder does not use chocolate
SM: but how about does it use flour or does it use almond
CK: it uses flour, but you could probably convert that with almond flour.
Caller: Oh, great. Thank you so much, Chris and Sara I really appreciate your help.
CK: Yeah, you're in good shape now. Yeah, thanks. Okay.
SM: All right. Bye bye.
CK: This is Milk Street radio. If you have a cooking question, please give us a ring 855-426-9843 that's 855-426-9843 or email us at questions at Milk Street Radio.com
SM: Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?
Caller: This is Jason from South Georgia.
SM: Hi, Jason from South Georgia. How can we help you today?
Caller: Got a question for you about some dipping sauces for chicken tenders. So, we have some big chain restaurants and South Georgia that do all kinds of chicken dinners with chicken tenders with dipping sauces like mayonnaise and ketchup and with Worcestershire, black pepper, garlic, that sort of thing. (Yeah) yeah and so we've made some of those here at home and stuff and just trying to get some different ideas on some dipping sauces not some of the normal ranch and honey mustard but some of the stuff that I don't know I thought I’d ask you guys will typically thought of anything unique along those lines.
SM: Do you want to keep it sort of Southern or do you care where you go with it and what sounds exciting here?
Caller: Any direction sounds cool. I've played around with ponzu and mixed it with mayonnaise and that sort of thing. I've taken dill pickles and blended them up in mayonnaise and that's sort of like a tartar sauce sort of thing which I’m not too interested in but then that and I've got some tahini that played around with tahini, a little bit with yogurt. I'm open to anything.
SM: Well, there's so many different directions you could go. I love mayonnaise. So, I use it as a base for so many different sauces.
Caller: So, let's take mayonnaise off the table. What if we're talking kids and teenagers, I have a 11-year-old and I have a 17 and a 15-year-old and say no mayonnaise you can go any kind of cuisine you want to go in but something different unique you think that will still not be too like crazy hot, spicy or too funky for them something they could still enjoy.
SM: Alright, I have the best peanut sesame sauce ever. It's jar of peanut butter you throw into a food processor with some hoisin. And this is the secret ingredient scallions. You put scallions, you chopped scallions up you know white and green part throw it in with the peanut butter and the hoisin. And then just a tiny bit of sesame oil, the toasted stuff because a little goes a long way can overpower some lemon juice and some water because it sort of seizes up you need to you know, water it down a bit. And then a tiny bit of Tabasco, which balances the sweetness and the you know, peanut butter and also in the hoisin, hoisin is somewhat sweet. And hey, you could throw and some garlic too to this is the kind of thing you would toss with noodles for like sesame noodles. This sauce would work for that too.
Caller: Wow, that sounds great.
CK: Asian sauces in general. There are some really simple ones like soy sauce, Mirren, a little sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, a little bit of sugar. I mean, if you use a good fish sauce, your kids won't know what's your sauce, white vinegar, sugar and chopped up chilies. Those are just very thin sauces that you could use as a dipping sauce. And they all have three ingredients easy to make
SM: You could also do like some restaurants do and have a marinara different sauce, you know, just to take it in a different route that kids might like
Caller: Okay, wow.
CK: That either more than you wanted or a lot less. It's one or the other. So anyway, I hope that was helpful, Jason
Caller: it sure was. Thanks, I appreciate you so much.
SM: Thanks, Jason.
CK: You're listening to Milk Street Radio. Up next, we're digging into the world of seafood with Chef Mike Wiley that and more in just a moment.
Support for Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Radio comes from Opinel knives made in the French Alps since 1890. Opinel makes pocketknives and kitchen tools for people who love good food, good design and good adventures. Learn more at Opinel. usa.com
CK: This is Milk Street radio. I'm your host Christopher Kimball. Right now, it's my interview with Mike Wiley. He's chef and author of the new cookbook. Eventide: Recipes for Clambakes Oysters, Lobster Rolls, and More from a Modern Maine Seafood Shack. Mike, welcome to Milk Street.
Mike Wiley: Thank you. It's great to be here.
CK: Nice to chat with you again. We chatted on the television show not too long ago. So, you’re chef owner of Eventide, Hugo’s and Honey Pot in Portland, Maine. But here's my question, you went to Colby College, got a Bachelor's in creative writing and religious studies. And then you got a master's in rhetoric. I didn't even know you could get a master's in rhetoric at the University of Colorado. So, what was that path like? Well, I
MW: Well, I was always pretty bookish and kind of just good at school. My father retired now as an anesthesiologist and my mother was a college professor. So being a good student was always a part of being a good son in my parents’ house and I, you know, I've always been kind of a blowhard and enjoyed the sound of my own voice. Thank you again for having me on. And I always thought, kind of in the back of my mind that you have nothing else, you know, I could go to a monastery, or I could go to an academic monastery and just become a professor. So, I went out west and ski bummed around and that is what really introduced me to cooking. And that is where the hook got set on the idea of cooking professionally. But there was one last throw of kind of white collar ambition, I suppose you could call it so I applied to grad school when I was living out in Crested Butte, Colorado, just skiing my brains out rock climbing a lot and it was a two year program and I thought I'll give this a whirl and and I can confidently say that I do not want to work in higher education now.
CK: So, you show up in Portland Hugo's a restaurant you now own, and you said quote I was wearing a ridiculous Nepali made Yak sweater. So, you didn't really look the part I would guess.
MW: No, no, I didn't. That was made dramatically clear by my my business partner and the previous owner of the restaurant. James Beard award winning chef and total badass Rob Evans. I guess I wore the Yak sweater a week before I came in for a working interview. I was still living in Colorado, and I started trawling Maine's Craigslist for job postings having gone to college in Maine and being born in Maine. And sort of, I don't know, people in the West are just so gregarious. I always found myself wondering, are you trying to sell me a vacuum cleaner or something, what's what's this interaction all about? So, I noticed a job post for the they may have used the word poissonier or fish cook something like that. I thought, oh la la, and I've been following Rob, and they're really, really incredible food he'd been doing at Hugo’s for years. And I thought, wow, this could be an opportunity to live in a city that I love and, and really learn some cutting edge techniques. But yeah, I wore that sweater to dinner. And I walked up to the bar where then Chef de Cuisine Andrew Taylor and Chef owner, Rob Evans, were having a glass of wine after their service. And I just said, chefs, thank you so much. The meal was incredible. I really appreciate the opportunity for the stodge and I walked away from the bar. And Andrew later confided in me that he turned to Rob, and he said, can you picture that guy ever working here and Rob, I think, you know, made some scornful comment like oh, absolutely not, but I'll be I'll be the first to point out that I did quite well on my stodge and Andrew and I've gotten along famously ever since.
CK: And you guys won Best James Beard award for best chef, right?
MW: We sure did. Yes, sir.
CK: Yeah, so Eventide is an odd combination if I can say so. It's sort of uh, you know, clam shack, seafood shack, lobster roll, fried oyster roll, fried fish sandwich. And then you have crudo and you have this amazing Nori vinaigrette in your salad it’s a mix of two very different things. Or maybe you don't feel that's true.
MW: I would say you're right on the money Chris. I think it's it's an interesting beast from you know, a creativity standpoint. You know, when we're talking about food Andrew, and I will frequently talk about doing the highbrow lowbrow thing and talking through the Eventide menu. You know, one station prepares very kind of fussily plated crudos with, you know, tweezers and you know, tangles of herbs and delicate little garnishes and textural elements. And then the hot station is like pumping out chowders and brown butter lobster rolls. But we wanted to make sure that we had something that was going to really be reflective of blue collar simple homespun New England cuisine, and something that would play to maybe more of a metropolitan kind of food trend savvy audience.
CK: Let's talk about oysters. I, I am biased, but I assume you're really biased towards the coldest, most northern waters. What's your view of oysters you like, oysters you don't like, what to look for etc.?
MW: It's funny. I think that your perspective on it definitely changes. I feel like there's kind of a democratizing effect after you see, you know, I don't know how many million oysters we've served at Eventide. But it's just bananas. It's like, it feels like a war during the summertime. But I think you know what, what's always been and continues to be important to me is I really like seeing oysters that come out of really cold water, as you indicated, that are really briny and have something going on texturally, I don't particularly like eating oysters, where there's not much actual oyster in the shell. I think that there should be that that moment of you know, some people just like to knock them back like somebody at the bar doing shots. But I like a little bit of a chew to the oyster. And that that salinity to me is really the most interesting thing.
CK: So, helped me out about shucking oysters. Many, many years ago, Julia Child came up behind me with a big service tray of oysters and asked me to shuck them. (Oh boy) made a complete utter fool of myself. So, I have been given instructions. But do you have a method for doing that will improve my, my performance?
MW: I would say of all the chefs that Eventide and among my business partners, I am the worst oyster shucker among us. And by that I mostly I'm the slowest. You know what works best for me is having plenty of dry towels close to hand, wrap the oyster in a towel. And think about what would happen if you were to just miss a little bit and try to guess like, where's that relatively dull blade going to end up because oyster shucking at the end of the day is just a little dangerous. And there's no, no need to be a hero here. Wrap your hand and towels wrapped the oyster and towels, I really recommend the stability of a surface, like belt buckle level, you want it a little lower than you'd want like an ideal cutting board height. So, you can kind of put your weight down on the oyster, brace it really well. You need to use a lot more body tension than you think. I think that's when you see people really getting themselves badly with an oyster knife, I think it's because they're not, you know, kind of using their core a little bit. It's not just something that you can, you know, leave to your arms and hope it's going to go well.
CK: So, I know the answer. If I asked you to define a clambake, you're going to tell me it's whatever you want to put in, right because you know you're going to get in trouble if you're to spring. So just go through the the likes and dislikes, depending upon where you might be in New England for clambake.
MW: Andrew Taylor really brought the clambake into my world. His families got this beautiful little cabin up on Mount desert island, which is actually the namesake of eventide oyster company. It's been in their family for years, it's right on the water. And basically, the way they do the kind of down east clambake is put a little bit of water, a little bit of seawater at the bottom of this huge sheet tray with handles, find some rocks, you can balance it on and build a fire underneath. Once your waters simmering, then you can start grabbing seaweed. You'll layer the seaweed on there. And then basically you're going to make a parfait of chiefly I think you're definitely going to want muscles you're going to want steamers, lobster, probably some par cooked potatoes, either salt pork or some chunks of slab bacon. And yeah, we like to put red hot was bright red-hot dogs in them because we think it's kind of funny. And then a little trick, kind of an old timer’s trick is throw a raw egg in its shell. Right at the top of this pile of seaweed.
CK: I think you said in your book that the egg is there to tell you when the clambake is ready.
MW: Yeah, exactly puts a whole new meaning on an egg timer and the idea behind it is that you generate steam and you're you're cooking this whole system. It's basically like a clam steam, but that doesn't really have much of a ring to it so, we never used that phrase. But you're just steaming everything in this big pile of seaweed and the seaweed flavor is incredible. Like the bacon that comes out of it is absolutely fantastic. It really changes the flavor of the potato dramatically. And the way we approximate it at the restaurant is we make a kind of more manicured arrangement of shellfish on a bed of rock weed in an Asian steamer basket, and we simply steam it and bring it out to to the customers with some Nori vinaigrette and some drawn butter.
CK: You love mackerel. Most people don't. And you have a pickled mackerel recipe in your book. So, sell me a mackerel.
MW: Oh, Christopher. Well, I mean where to start. Let's start with the fact that it's, it's just delicious, and incredibly good for you. And so easy to prepare. That pickle method that we use in the book is sort of an old Eventide standby. pretty much anybody could take that recipe and have just absolutely jaw dropping outstanding results.
CK: Could you just summarize that recipe for us quickly?
MW: Sure. So, we lightly salt the mackerel filets, we then bury them in a very Japanese pickle brine. So, rice wine vinegar, sugar, you know, if you're feeling saucy, mirin or sake, you let it sit for about 20 minutes, and then you pull the mackerel out. And the acid has done its work on the fish just enough, it helps to sort of balance the fish in terms of flavor. But most importantly, it separates this membrane that's on the mackerel skin. And you peel that off and then you slice it up and it's great on bread. If you can make like a little ___ with it. You know you could, you know, serve it as part of almost like a charcuterie spread or something. It'd be great next to a cheese board. So that's really one of my favorite ways to prepare mackerel.
CK: So now what I mean you have Eventide, Hugo’s is quite different it's much more upscale, the Honeypot is more international. You've mixed and matched, you know seafood shacks with crudo. Is there something you haven't done you still want to do in terms of food?
MW: Jeez, I mean, build a backyard smokehouse, maybe. No. I mean, I feel like I feel really, really lucky in that regard. I think that for me and food, my goal is going to be to really try to make our pantry awesome. You know, Andrew, Robert and I have always wanted to run restaurants where pretty much everything is done from scratch except Heinz 57 ketchup, which nobody should mess with. But yeah, I think my focus for for the near term is going to be just building that pantry trying to make our larders more diverse, more homemade and more interesting than than the next guys.
CK: So, if I go to Eventide, and you start serving homemade ketchup, I’ll know you've completely lost your mind. I just
MW: Yeah, exactly. Or you can contact the authorities and say that somebody has kidnapped Mike Wiley or he's in a basement somewhere. We need to get him we need to free him. Yeah.
CK: Mike, thanks so much for being on Milk Street it has been a real pleasure.
MW: Of course. Thanks for the time, Chris.
CK: That was chef Mike Wiley. His new book is called Eventide Recipes for Clambakes, Oysters, Lobster Rolls and More from Modern Maine Seafood Shack. Eventide Mike Wiley's eatery in Portland, Maine has a real trick up its sleeve. You can order a fried fish sandwich or a burger, but you can also get a salad with Nori vinaigrette a tuna crudo smoked lobster claws are a sign of kimchi. fine dining meets the seafood check. And by the way, welcome to the future. It's time to chat with Catherine Smart about this week's recipe. Tomato herb salad with sumac. Catherine how are you?
Catherine Smart: I'm fine. Thanks, how are you?
CK: I'm good, but I'm kind of angry today. Tomatoes drive me crazy. You can go to a farmers’ market and buy tomatoes and sometimes they're okay. But a lot of times they don't have a lot of flavor and they certainly have no flavor when you buy in the supermarket. So, it's summertime, I want to make a tomato salad because why not? And they don't have flavor. So how can I take okay tomatoes and make it tomato salad that I actually want to eat.
CS: So, Chris, we actually have a secret ingredient which is sumac. And you know, we use that all the time that Milk Street, it's a Middle Eastern flavoring and it's actually a dried berry that's ground up and use like a spice. It has a citrusy flavor; it almost has a little bit of a salty bite. And we use it to do double duty here. So, we put three teaspoons in a really simple vinaigrette and then we also use it to finish at the end.
CK: So, is it just sumac and tomatoes or are we going to add something else to this recipe?
CS: It's not quite that simple, Chris, we also have a lemony garlicky vinaigrette and we're also going to use another technique one that we love at the Milk Street Cooking school and that is mellowing out our alliums so we're going to throw our onions In lemon juice to take the bite out and we're actually going to cook our garlic in a little boiling water and then make it into a paste. So, the vinaigrette’s flavorful but it doesn't have too much of that bite
CK: and we going to finish with lots of herbs I hope,
CS: as always Chris we're going to add dill and parsley and mint and if you want you can even add a little feta at the end.
CK: Catherine thank you you've solved my tomato conundrum which is how to take mediocre tomatoes and turn them into a great salad. I guess I have to be in a good mood for the rest of the day.
CS: We expect nothing but smiles Chris. The recipe for tomato herb salad with sumac go to 177 Milk Street.com
CK: You're listening to Milk Street Radio coming up Dan Pashman presents his most controversial opinion yet why he thinks grilling is overrated. We'll be right back.
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CK: This is Milk Street radio. I'm Christopher Kimball. Next up Sara Moulton and I will answer a few more of your cooking questions.
SM: Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?
Caller: This is Jenna.
SM: Hi, Jenna, where you calling from?
Caller: El Paso, Texas.
SM: How can we help you today?
Caller: Well, I have kind of a question. I love food. And unfortunately, I have a food intolerance to onions. So, a lot of things that are in there. Like I love salsa’s, I love Italian food. And a lot of even soups and things like that we have like I would call a mirepoix or the Holy Trinity involves onions. So, I wanted to see, do you all have a suggestion of what we could substitute for onions?
SM: Wow, are you allergic to other alliums as well? Or just onions, onions?
Caller: Pretty much all I think the only thing I can handle is maybe a little bit of onion powder (garlic?) garlic, no, actually I can do
SM: Oh that’s good
Caller: I can't do
SM: Well, it sort of depends on like in salsa, I'd say just leave it out. I can't think of anything that would work there. But in terms of like what onions do for stews and soups, you know when you start by sauteing the onion and then adding everything else. What happens is onions have sulfur compounds. It's the same thing that makes us cry also gives them great depth of flavor when you cook them low and slow. You release those sulfuric compounds, and it's a good thing. So that's what you're going to be missing in soups and stews. There is a spice that used in Central Asia called
CK: you have to pronounce it now go ahead
SM: I know I know. Asafeotida. It's spelled a-s-a-f-e-o-t-i-d-a. And it's often used as a substitute recommended as a substitute for onions and garlic. It has the same sort of organic sulfur aroma and behaves the same way. It doesn't smell great, but boy does it taste wonderful. And do what you want it to do. So, Chris, do you have anything to add?
CK: No, there's nothing. I mean, people suggest radishes and everything else. And that's just a complete waste of time. Yeah, I think this is by far the best solution.
SM: Yeah. And it might be fun. It's a new ingredient for you. And as I said, just get past the smell and cook with it. And I think you're going to love it.
CK: We feel good about this.
SM: We do. We hope you do too Jenn.
CK: This would actually work. Yeah.
Caller: And I would hope to hopefully see more episodes. I guess I would maybe offer recipes that you that spice and substitutive. And maybe that way it can encourage more people and that way it'll be more available in shops.
SM: Well put
CK: We should come up with a simple for one medium onion you could use a teaspoon of yeah, we should figure that out.
SM: Yeah. You and Milk Street go ahead.
CK: Yeah, we’ll do it, Jenn
Caller: I appreciate it. Thank you.
SM: Thanks, Jenna.
CK: Bye. This is Milk Street Radio. If you have a culinary question, give us a ring 855-426-98431 more time, at 855-426-9843 or email us at questions at Milk Street Radio.com. Welcome to Milk Street who's calling,
Caller: This is Tala
CK: How can we help you?
Caller: I found this beef jerky recipe online. And I would like to replicate it, but I just noticed that there are a few things that might not be able to implement, let's say some of the crude methods that I noticed were being used. And I might be able to use some slightly more modern techniques, (okay) And especially if I was trying to do this for public consumption, maybe at a farmers’ market,
CK: If you're going to sell this commercially at a market, you're going to have to be certified at the health department. So, you're going to need to make sure that you have a kitchen and a place to prepare the food that you have a health inspector come by to give you a license that in mind, and if you're going to do this commercially, even on a small scale, you definitely want a slicer, the kind of things you'd see at the deli. If you, do it with a knife, you'd have to freeze the meat for half an hour to an hour, depending on how big of a piece of meat is. But that's really hard to do. You can buy them used for a few 100 bucks. And that's what I would do, because those things are built like a tank, and those will last forever.
Caller: Okay, and does it really matter for like a beef jerky product, how the meat is cut, whether it's cut with the grain
CK: With the grain, it means that that's a thin slice of meat will hold together nicely
SM: It will be very chewy, which is what you're looking for in jerky. Because when you cut against the grain, you're cutting all the fibers so that it will be more tender, which is something you want when you're eating a steak.
Caller: Okay, so typically that would be with the grain. (Yes, yeah) All right. So, my next question then is, I don't know if there's a big difference between drying meat under the sun and using the dehydrator maybe?
CK: Well, if you have a health inspector show up and you're drying the meat outside in the sun, I don't think you're getting a permit, I am going to happen, you're going to need to get dehydrators. I mean, the problem is I've used small ones. The question is, if you're doing this commercially, you know what volume you want, you're going to have to get a much bigger dehydrator if you want to do this in quantity. But I think the problem with jerky is you're dealing with raw meat; you're marinating and the first thing I would do is go figure out what the rules or regulations are around this where you are and make sure that the investment you'd have to make to do this commercially is not $10,000 or $20,000.
Caller: And I have one last question. I would like to coat the meat with a mixture of seasoning and a peanut butter pace. And the issue I'm having with this as some family members and friends who suffer from peanut allergies. And I was wondering if there is something you could recommend that I could use in place of the peanut that has sort of the same consistency?
CK: Sure. I mean, the obvious thing to use as long as they're not allergic, of course is tahini, which is sesame seeds of the classic Middle Eastern paste
SM: I think that’s a brilliant idea
SM: I know. I never say that to you
CK: Sarah said brilliant. Yeah. Tahini will be great, but just make sure you know, obviously, they don't have a full nut allergy. Yeah, but that's what I would use, and I think it would actually taste better. It's a more interesting, complex flavor. Tala, thank you so much for calling. Hopefully that’s helpful.
Caller: Thank you. Thanks for your help thank you
SM: Take care. Thank you. Bye bye.
CK: This is Milk Street radio. Now it's time for some culinary wisdom from one of our listeners.
Caller: Hi, my name is Martina Webb from Sterling Heights, Michigan. And here's my tip. When you have a recipe that calls for an ingredient that needs to be squeezed dry, such as shredded zucchini or thawed frozen spinach, don't reach for a kitchen towel to do the job. Instead reach for your potato ricer one strong squeeze and you will very efficiently remove all the extra moisture.
CK: If you'd like to share your own cooking tip on Milk Street Radio, please go to 177 Milk Street com slash radio tips. Next up its regular contributor and troublemaker Dan Pashman. Dan, what are you thinking about this week?
Dan Pashman: Well, Chris, I got a bit of a bee in my bonnet this week. I am frustrated. I will tell you because you know, this is the time of year when everybody's grilling, but I think grilling has gotten out of control. I am tired of all these social media posts. Did you know you could grill chocolate chip cookies; you can grow watermelon, you can grow pizza? I mean, not every food is better grilled. Okay, I'm here to say Chris that we are grilling too many foods.
CK: Okay, this is, this is positively un-American, so I'm going to let you you're in an island by yourself on this one pal
DP: Look, I mean, I love grilling It's very fun and pleasurable. But I think there's a fetishization that is happening with grilling. And as soon as you say you did, you know, you can grill x, it gets a bunch of clicks on the internets. And the kids go crazy for it. And so, people keep creating these recipes but why is it better? That's really my point. Like, a lot of these foods sure, I guess char marks look nice. But a grill has a limited amount of surface area. If you start trying to grill 10 different things for a meal, all of a sudden, you're spending hours laboring over this hot, flaming grill. That's not a fun place to be. And a lot of times I think the results are like much like a grill is not it's it's pleasurable to cook on. But you don't have a whole lot of control over the temperature thunder, very precise device. So, I think there's a lot of romanticism around grilling,
CK: Oh, boy, you’re in you’re in, just, you are in so much trouble. First of all, grilled pizza, I make grilled pizza all the time, it is so much better than oven pizza. Because it gets it cooks in about two or three minutes. It's very hot bubbles up. It's just fabulous. Secondly, you don't have to clean up inside. That's the whole point. Right? I mean you cook on a grill, and it's done the no pots the clean, there's no stove to clean. So that's that's number two. And number three, there is a fair amount of control. I mean, if you have a gas, you know, grill, which I know some people don't like, but there's quite a lot of control, because you have three or four burners, depending and you can set it up any way you like. So, I don't know three strikes, you're out. Does that makes sense here?
DP: I mean, look, I will grant you the point about the dishes. That is a very good point. I'll give you that one. But I guess what I object to is that it feels like a gimmick, a culinary gimmick created for the social media age, because it's the kind of thing that that seems new and different people will click on it. And I just think like, look, cooking over an open fire is the oldest type of cooking. If there's a food that is best cooked over an open fire, I think we would have discovered it by now. We don't need all the recipe testers of the internet to go out and try to grill outlandish things that they can get more clicks. That is really my frustration like grilled corn. Like I feel like grilled corn is a big pain. And oftentimes, it gets overcooked, and the kernels all shrivel. We're letting form come over function because these char marks often are a sign of something not being cooked as well as it could have been cooked.
CK: Well, you got me on that one. Because the years ago, we used to do these pig roast in August in Vermont and I was in charge what one year of the actually was a heifer that we cooked, but it was a beef roast. But I did the corn and I decided to do it over the coals. everyone hated it. And you know why? Because it was dried out. So, the following year I boiled it like I should have and everyone loved it. So, I think real corn unless you do it just right. You have to soak it leave one of the layers of leaves on on it when you do it. It can be good, but it is pretty dicey I agree.
DP: All right. See what we're coming to a middle ground. Have you ever tried cooler corn?
CK: What's cooler corn?
DP: Oh, cooler corn is great when you're when you're hosting a barbecue. You shuck the corn, you put it into a cooler, you fill the cooler with boiling water just enough to cover the corn, you don't need to float to the top, close the cooler, let it sit for 30 minutes, and then drain out the hot water from the tap on the bottom and the corn is cooked. And if you keep the cooler closed, the corn will stay warm. So, you can do it in advance. And you could do a whole bunch at once and it takes you about 10 minutes.
CK: Okay, so I'm playing psychiatry. Now. There is something that's bothering you. You saw a social media post that offered to grill something you thought was insane and upsetting. So, what was the thing that really set you off?
DP: I'm glad you brought this up, Chris,
CK: I knew this is deep.
DP: I don't know, that was something that I saw. But I think you're probably right, that I have been scarred by the experience of trying to grill too many things. And it's it's very stressful. And I usually end up burning something. And I think it left its own sort of char mark on my soul.
CK: So, in other words fear of public failure on a hot day in front of a grill. Well, the only thing I would say in closing is one of the great things about a grill is you can cook let's say a thin piece of meat quickly over high heat. And then as the fire dies down a little bit, you can take a whole bunch of vegetables and you don't have to serve right away and cook them on the grill. And then you have them for the rest of the week. So, I like what you do after the initial cooking, you have all that heat. And if you use it intelligently actually it's a very economical way of getting a lot of food cooked at once.
DP: I can see that. I'll grant you that. I just think. I think for me, what I've decided is that when I'm grilling, I want to grill one thing, grill one thing, grill it really well make it just right and don't try to grill your entire meal, appetizer, entree and dessert because you’ll drive yourself crazy
CK: Well actually I did once grill a cake. I was in a hurricane on the cape. There was no power (bury the lead Chris) no and I got a nice low fire, and I had a pretty successful it was a blueberry buckle actually but turned out okay, well, Dan Pashman, maybe your bumper sticker should be grill one thing. That's pretty good I’ll go with that.
DP: Alright, I appreciate that, Chris. I'll keep an eye on the mail for that bumper sticker.
CK: Take care.
DP: Thanks, take it easy.
CK: That was Dan Pashman, host of the Sporkful Food podcast. You know, I have a question about the Weber grill. I do know that historically it was made for the bottom half of a buoy I know that the inventor George Stevens drilled holes in the top to improve the airflow. So far, so good. What I don't understand is why the distance between the grate and the grill is fixed. Yeah, you can pile up coals or make a two-level fire even put bricks on the grate, which is still can't raise or lower the cooking surface. The Mini Cooper by comparison has 16 different models, 11 colors, 12 will design seven seat coverings and five trim options. You get the idea. So maybe Weber knows something the rest of us just don't keep it simple. That's it for today. If you tuned in to later just want to listen again. You can download and subscribe to Milk Street Radio on Apple podcast, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcast. To learn more about Milk Street visit us at 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. We'll be back next week and thanks as always for listening.
Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Radio is produced by Milk Street in association with GBH executive producer Melissa Baldino, senior audio editor Melissa Allison, co-executive producer Annie Sensibaugh, associate producer Jackie Novak, production assistant Sarah Clapp and production help from Debby Paddock. Senior audio engineer David Goodman, additional editing from Vicki Merrick Sidney Lewis and Samantha Brown. An audio mixing from Jay Allison at Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The music by Toubab Krewe additional music by George Brandl Egloff. Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Radio is distributed by PRX