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This week, we chat with José Andrés about how he helped organize more than three million meals in Puerto Rico, why he would choose a pineapple over a steak, and what he would do if he ever got a day off. Plus, we talk military rations with YouTube star Emmy Cho; we bake Chocolate Ginger Scones; and Dan Pashman delves into one of the workplace’s most divisive issues: office fridge theft. (Originally aired July 4th, 2019.)
Questions in this Episode:
"When I start cooking a piece of raw protein, my tongs are touching and turning that protein. By the time the piece is done, are my tongs contaminating the cooked protein with the raw that handled the piece a few minutes before? Should I change tongs? When?"
"I am allergic to cow's milk protein. I can tolerate heavy cream and butter. When making a carrot cake, can I substitute the cream cheese frosting for goat’s milk?"
"I've gotten really into making fresh pasta at home, and I'd like to make pasta using whole grain flours. I've tried a couple of different types but I haven't been very impressed with the texture, and I'd like to be able to make a whole grain pasta that's 100% whole grain flour, if possible. I'm wondering if you have any suggestions on whole grain flours to try or tips on how to adjust a basic pasta recipe to improve the texture when whole grain flour is in the mix?"
"I've been making yogurt in my crockpot for years and it came out perfect. When we came back from a vacation and I started it again with a new starter it came out slimy and the consistency of it has stayed slimy ever since. I need help!"
Christopher Kimball: This is Milk Street Radio from PRX. I'm your host Christopher Kimball. Chef Jose Andres likes to feed the few but loves to feed the many. Today we chat about how he helped serve over 3 million free meals in Puerto Rico after the hurricane.
Jose Andres: When many people were meeting and talking about how to do it, we were already doing it sometimes in these situations a plan is an enemy of providing food relief. For us no plan, just cooking and delivering the food to the people in need.
CK: Also coming up Dan Pashman rails against office fridge theft, we serve up chocolate ginger scones, but now it's my interview with Emmy Cho on our YouTube channel, Emmy made in Japan, Emmy taste tests unique foods from around the world, including MRE’s ready to eat military rations. Emmy, welcome to Milk Street.
Emmy Cho: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
CK: You're right here at Milk Street.
EC: I am I'm so excited.
CK: So, let's talk about the history of MREs. (Yeah) military rations. And you you've spent a lot of time eating these, including some that were 20 years old. So, what's the history of MRE’s? How did they get started?
EC: MRE’s, I think were an evolution of rations or food soldiers have to eat. They came out of sea rations, or sea rats, which were canned rations, which were very heavy, as you can imagine, MREs were supposed to be a lighter, more streamlined, more compact version of the original sea rat. And they were packaged in these plastic film containers rather than cans, and then the menu was broadened. And so that was the MRE was supposed to be an improvement are supposed to boost morale for soldiers. Because if you eat this day in and day out, it gets old.
CK: So, what's in an MRE usually, you've tasted lots of them, or some of them, actually, I'll use the term pretty good.
EC: I think it's kind of relative people ask me the what are you expecting something gourmet and not at all. Whenever I'm tasting something, it's within a certain context, you're looking at a prepackaged food that has a long shelf life. There are some that are not as good. I believe there's a vegetable omelet, which is these kind of ready cooked egg things that aren't so great. You know, that's where you start doing some bartering.
CK: So, it's so what are the ones like the fruit is that something that's bartered a lot? What are the the hot ones?
EC: I think the hot ones back in the day were when they had actual full-size packages of M&M’s. I think the cocoa mix is handy because people make kind of puddings, people adjust them, instead of eating it as pudding, maybe you would add less water and spread it on the poundcake. And so, there's some interesting things that happen when people reinvent them.
CK: So, the 26-year-old MRE this is meatballs or something.
EC: Yes, it was meatballs in a marinara sauce. And I think I only ate one meatball and that was enough. Yes, I actually went on eBay to look for old ration just because I was curious to see
CK: Do people send them to you?
EC: People, most of the ones that I get people do send to me, especially the international ones are very difficult to get. I love being able to compare them to see get a little glimpse into some culture, what's important to people or what what's necessary and what's nostalgic. All those kinds of things really interesting to me.
CK: Well, let's let's follow that up. So, give me a couple of examples of MRE’s. from different countries, which had a very different take than the American version.
EC: Well, for example, the one that comes to mind is the Polish ration that I had, it did have things that were in cans, but then had this brilliant thing of putting a plastic lid on top. So, if you didn't finish it, you could just put the lid on top and save it for later. And that's brilliant. And the food actually tasted quite good. It was really fatty stews. If you like porky fatty, stews, it was delicious. There was some meat pate’s is interesting. This is great.
CK: So, our MRE’s now obviously designed for disposability weight, etc. Do you think that maybe going back to something that was a little more old fashioned, like the Polish MRE, I mean, isn't giving troops food, they want to eat kind of an important thing? You think you know
EC: Yes, it is. And I think it has been considered but I think depending on what those cultural standards or expectations are, they're different. So, in the US, they just came out with the last two years a pizza. And this was huge. And people just want their hands like what is this pizza? So, they spent I imagine many years trying to design a shelf stable pizza, and I tasted it and it's not. It's not very good, but if you're really jonesing for pizza, maybe maybe that'll do
CK: it looks like pizza doesn't taste like it, but looks like it
EC: It kind of tastes like that cafeteria pizza like in that they give to kids grade school, that rectangular slice with those kind of weird cubes of pepperoni.
CK: What are some other cultural markers when you tasted MREs from other countries?
EC: Oh, well, Japan that ration with a staple, of course is rice. So rather than having something like bread, you have your rice and your entree. There'll be things that will be different, like pickles. Or, for example, when I tasted a Ukraine ration and I believe also my Russian ration, there was a soup, kind of a vegetable soup, but none of my other rations had any, because that's a substantial amount of weight that you're carrying. But a soup would be you can imagine, especially in a cold country, having a hot soup would be something that would boost your morale.
CK: So, what have you learned about how to taste foods on camera?
EC: I think I've just always followed my gut. So, I really want to know how things are opened. Do you use a knife? Is there a little perforation or I once did a Russian IRP that was all in Russian and I wanted to try to figure it out and of course, I made mistakes. I made what was apple butter I thought it was a drink so I mixed it with water, and it was delicious. And people like no honey that that actually was supposed to go on the toast. So, I brought along a little MRE for you to taste. Southwestern beef.
CK: Nobody ever brings me food. This is great.
EC: There you go. Meal 24.
CK: So, it's Menu 24. Southwest style beef and black beans. (Yes) Now I got to figure out how to get an open.
EC: Yes, there's a peelable seal.
CK: This is not peelable.
EC: It is if you just really leverage. Leverage the thumbs.
CK: Like I'm sitting here. I'm cold. I'm wet. I'm in the field you know
EC: Yes, or you use your jackknife.
CK: Okay, I'm using my knife pencil thing. Okay, here we go. I got it. Okay,
EC: What do you got?
CK: It says the beef and black beans with sauce (Yes). I have tortillas con Chipotle. That actually sounds pretty good.
EC: Chipotle. I don’t think I've heard that one.
CK: Hey, okay. I have a beef snack, which sounds really kind of dubious to me. A cheese spread. Spice pancake, instant cappuccino powder.
EC: You can make a frosting with that.
CK: This is great. So overall, you would put this in your top tier probably.
EC: That's a pretty good one. Yeah, the tortillas actually are pretty good.
CK: My guess is on the way to the studio you're going to snag the tortillas for the ride home.
EC: I'm just curious to see if they're, they're red. You know, the chipotle tortillas.
CK: Well, let's see hold on. Yeah,
EC: they're tinted.
CK: They’re tinted. They're pumpkin color. Okay, well, here's what we're going to do. I'm going to give you one of these tortillas. Yeah, tortillas. We'll both taste them.
EC: We should put some cheese bread on it, don't you think?
CK: Oh, this is a whole feast now are we?
EC: Well, I don't know. Plain tortilla cheese spread.
CK: Okay, cheese spread.
EC: They smell smoky. Wow, something I've never had before. They're still very soft.
CK: Yeah, the texture is a little off putting it does have that sort of, you know, it could be sort of a placemat, sort of a plastic placemat thing. I'd also point out that you are taking a fulsome bite of this
CK: I'm still going to cook my dinner tonight. But you know, I mean, under adverse circumstances, this probably would be
EC: It's Chipotle. It's got some smokiness to it. Little tiniest a little bit of heat maybe. the cheese spread is cheese spread right?
CK: And 50 years from now you can come back and taste the cheese spread and it'll still be good.
EC: I'm sure it will be.
CK: Emmy thanks so much for coming here on Milk Street.
EC: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
CK: And by the way, you're the first guest who's brought me dinner now it's an MRE packet but it's still dinner. Thank you.
EC: You're welcome.
CK: That was Emmy Cho her YouTube channel was called Emmy made in Japan. Right now, my co-host Sara Moulton and I will be answering a few of your culinary questions. Sara is of course the author of Home Cooking One on One, the star of Sara's Weeknight Meals on public television. First, I have a question for you, Sara. So, let's talk about basic cookware, cast iron, stainless steel, enameled carbon steel, what do you cook with?
Sara Moulton: I actually cook with one of those. You know, I love this one line of cookware that has a sandwich you know, so it's several different metals. I’m just so used to it. I like the way it conducts heat. So, it's a combination of aluminum and copper and titanium. And it's made by Chantal and it's very affordable.
CK: You've cooked in restaurants What about carbon steel which is inexpensive and it's great.
SM: No, I use certainly amino if you use it enough just like cast iron. It becomes basically nonstick. It's good stuff.
CK: Okay time for calls.
SM: Welcome to Milk Street. Who's calling?
Caller: This is Stephanie from New Jersey.
SM: Hi, Stephanie from New Jersey. What can we do for you today?
Caller: When I'm cooking a protein and turning it with tongs do I need to be concerned about food contamination. Let’s say I've got a steak in the pan. I take the raw steak off the plate, and I put it in the pan. And then once I cook then I turn it over with the same tongs. And then I might pick it up again and take its temperature with the tongs and then remove it from the pan to a clean plate. I don't put it back on the raw meat plate. But I'm just wondering, do I have to be concerned about contaminating the food with the tongs? Should I change them out at some point or just assume since I've lived 50 years and not been killed yet? I'm okay.
CK: My mother had that same philosophy about her terrible food safety habits. And she said, I haven't killed you yet. And that was proof positive that she was right. I don't think that logic, my answer is steak I don't worry about because steak rarely has foodborne pathogens. Chicken. Yes. If you're going to cook chicken, I would not use the same tongs. I would use it when it's raw and turning but then when it's cooked, I would use something entirely different. I would not use the same tongs. I would not use that when you're removing it after Absolutely.
Caller: okay change them out when you’re removing it after
CK: Chicken I think I've seen statistics where 80 to 90% of chickens tested
SM: even organic
CK: Have some sort of
SM: salmonella or Campylobacter.
CK: And so, I think you got to treat chicken like it is absolutely contaminated. So, I'd be very careful. Steak steaks, not a problem for me
SM: Well, I'm okay. I'm going to say that I think it just in general, you need to get in the habit of not mix. I mean, I agree with Chris that steaks nowhere near as dangerous, but I would still switch out my tongs. I have this friend Elizabeth Carmel who has a website called Girls at the Grill. She worked at Weber Grill for years and she is just a font of knowledge. And she's started developing some products. And one of the things she has I'm not saying you need to get special tongs, but one of the things she has is green tipped tongs and red tip. So, she starts with the red and then she moves to the green. But I would get in the habit just like you didn't use the raw plate of you know, you switch the plates. I would switch the tongs just do it for all raw protein. Why not?
CK: Okay, I’m getting old, I think I think when we were younger, we would have like lived on the you know, we'd walk on the wild side here. So yeah, but chicken in general. I just be very careful.
SM: I agree. Just get in the habit of it.
SM: Thanks for calling, Stephanie.
Caller: Thanks. Alright. Thanks. Love the show.
CK: Thank you.
SM: Bye bye. Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?
Caller: Hi, this is Jane from Marlborough, Massachusetts.
SM: Hi, Jane. How can we help you today? Well, I
Caller: Well, I am very, very allergic to milk protein. And my favorite cake before I realized I was allergic to milk protein has always been carrot cake. And I was wondering if there's a way I could use this soft white goat cheese instead of cream cheese in making the cream cheese frosting.
SM: I think that's a brilliant idea. Chris, what do you think?
CK: Yeah, I would
SM: might have to add a little more sugar. That's a little tangier.
CK: Make sure it's full fat. (Yes) I just wonder what the texture isn't quite as smooth as cream cheese probably. And it's obviously you probably need a different amount of sugar with it. Yeah, of course.
SM: I think a little more maybe.
CK: But yeah, I think that's actually a very good idea.
Caller: What just sort of do it until it comes to a taste that I liked then spread it on?
SM: You could add some butter, soften some butter, and add it to the soft goat cheese just to give it a nicer texture. A little bit, you know, because we sometimes goat cheese can be a little chalky.
Caller: I have another question. When I'm making a recipe that calls for buttermilk or sour cream. Is it something that I could use sheep or goat yogurt for? Or do I have to sour my own milk, cream, heavy cream or what? In order to do that
SM: I don't see why you couldn't use goats milk yogurt.
CK: I think you could substitute yogurt for butter milk. Sure. You might have to adjust the other ingredients in the recipe a little bit. But yes, you could do that
Caller: Okay. All right.
SM: That worked. Very good.
CK: Thanks, Jane. Okay,
Caller: Talk to you later. Bye,
SM: Bye bye
CK: This is Milk Street Radio, please give us a call anytime at 855-426-9843. That's 855-426-9843 or send us an email at questions at Milk Street Radio.com
SM: Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?
Caller: Hi, this is Alyssa calling from Nottingham, Pennsylvania.
SM: How can we help you today?
Caller: Well, thank you for taking my call. I'm calling because I've gotten really into making fresh pasta at home. And I'd like to make pasta using whole grain flours. And I've tried a couple of different types, varying ratios, but haven't gotten a very good texture. And I'd like to make 100% whole grain flour pasta if possible. I'm wondering if you have any suggestions on types of flour to try or tips on how to adjust the ingredients or the technique to improve the texture?
CK: Well, the first thing I would say is I mean I've tried this is you probably don't want to do 100% Let's say whole wheat. I would do a mixture 50-50. The problem with whole wheat is as you're kneading it or putting it through the press or whatever you're doing, you're going to end up sort of cutting the gluten strands with a sharp pieces of that whole wheat. So, you end up decreasing the gluten development. And one thing you want in pasta is gluten, you want that springy texture, I would try 50-50 to start with try to get the highest protein flour you can right, I mean, that would be also helpful too
SM: You mean for the white flour element, half of it?
CK: Yeah. But I would say 50-50 will be a good place to start. If that works, then you can increase the whole wheat percentage the next time you do I think 100% whole wheat would be I think too much
SM: I think you're trying to do something that's not possible because of the way the gluten develops, you know, in whole wheat flour or does not develop is the fact of the matter.
Caller: Okay. Are there other types of whole grain flour besides whole wheat that would be maybe better have better gluten, like spelt or anything?
CK: Like iron corn or something metal (yeah) old wheat from the 19th century? Yeah, you might give that a shot. But I mean, I guess the question is, you know, most Italians buy their pasta, they don't make it from scratch. If you wanted something with really great flavor with interesting flours, that might be a good candidate for buying instead of making. But again, try 50- 50 I think whole wheat is really the one you want because you'd like orecchiette, which is whole wheat is delicious. Also, you can use a more robust sauce with a whole wheat pasta, as you know, which is terrific. But I would try 50-50 and go from there and try to use high protein with a white flour white makeup for the whole wheat.
Caller: Okay, great. Thank you.
CK: You're welcome.
SM: All right, Alyssa. Thank you.
CK: Welcome to Milk Street who's calling?
Caller: Helen from Linfield.
Ck: How are you?
Caller: Good. Thank you for taking my call.
Caller: My problem I've had is the last two years I've been making yogurt, and I do it in a crockpot. And I get milk at a local dairy so it's it just pasteurized. So, I heat it to 180 and let it cool to 110 115 put in my yogurt culture and let it sit overnight and it always came a great until this past February I had gone away. And when I came back, I started a new one and the taste is okay. But it comes out really slimy. And I can't get it to not be slimy anymore. I've tried different starters.
CK: This is one of those questions where it's the Sherlock Holmes, check off the list. So, the milk is exactly the same milk from exactly the same place.
CK: The starter is exactly the same starter I assume
Caller: I've tried different ones. But usually I use like ____ starter
CK: So, you've used the same starter before you had a problem as well as after?
Caller: I always would use my own. I've never had a problem.
CK: Same crock pot.
CK: Does the crock pot have a removable insert? You can throw in the dishwasher?
Caller: Yeah, I usually wash it with hot water by hand. But uh, yeah, it's removable.
CK: I take that and any utensils you use and throw them in the dishwasher and make sure that there was nothing contaminating it for some reason.
SM: It's possible that somehow, you know, some sort of wild yeast is floating around your house. Yeah. And somehow got into the yogurt and sort of screwed it up.
Caller: Yeah, that's what I was wondering. But
CK: You know what I would do? I would make yogurt and not use that crock pot. Just use a different method.
SM: That's a good idea.
CK: That would be a good test
SM: Maybe stainless steel
Caller: Yeah, that's what I was thinking. That was the next thing I was going to try. A different crock pot
CK: If it doesn't work on that, you've now eliminated the equipment.
SM: But I think I don't know something about you know, leaving and maybe the crockpot was not completely clean. And there was wild yeast in there so
CK: Well you can test that. Yeah, I would also go for a if you know somebody else who makes their own yogurt. Just grab some starter and then
Caller: Actually, the other person said that happened to them too. It tastes okay, but it's just slimy in consistency.
CK: Are their crop circles in town. Do you have some alien presence here
SM: Does it have to do with the weather? I mean, is this within a particular period of like, who knows? Maybe there's a time of year when there’s more pollen
CK: High pollen and wild you know,
SM: Wild spores going around.
CK: Well, to summarize dishwasher for utensils and crock pot. Make it without the crock pot and try somebody else's starter. Those would be the three things. If those don’t work, its aliens
Caller: I’ll try that
SM: And let us know.
Caller: I will
SM: And report back Thanks Helen
CK: Thanks Helen bye. You're listening to Milk Street Radio. I'm Christopher Kimball. Up next my interview with Jose Andres that in just a moment.
Support for Christopher Kimball's Milk Street comes from the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont. NECI offers several programs in the culinary arts and scholarships are still available for the fall 2019 semester, apply today or learn more at any neci.edu.
CK: This is Milk Street Radio I'm your host, Christopher Kimball. Jose Andres is a whirlwind of energy outreach and culinary innovation with over 30 restaurants to his name. He's also the founder of World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides meals in the wake of natural disasters. He just released his new book Vegetables Unleashed, which he co-wrote with author Matt Golding. Jose Andreas, welcome to Milk Street.
Jose Andres: Thank you for having me.
CK: You know, every time we chat, it turns out, you've been doing all these things in the interim, the last time I spoke to a year and a half ago, you had 23 restaurants now of 31. You are culinary consultant on Hannibal, you weren't the Oscars in 2018. I think you just got nominated for Nobel Peace Prize, you have not been sitting still. So, here's my question. You and I emailed when you were in Puerto Rico, serving millions of meals to people there. And you emailed me back and said, Chris, hop on a plane and just come over? And I said, well, that's crazy. I have family, I have a job. I've got this, I got a radio show. But you just get on the plane and go. So, could you explain that to me? You somehow have much busier life than I do. But you manage to do these other things. How do you see the world that lets you do that?
JA: Listen, I think I was very young. When some someone one of my teachers told me that probably time I will realize one day that time is the essence. And the way that you will have time to do other things is when you have good people around you. That helps you cover in your absence. And I think I always took these to heart, then when things like this happen, I'm a very lucky person that they have people that stay behind covering the ground, and then give me the opportunity to kind of get into these new opportunities to feed people somewhere else.
CK: Do you think you get to the point in life with with your kind of career where you're sort of owned by the world? I mean, how do you keep the personal life as well as this amazing life that you've built and all the people you help?
JA: Well, this is probably the best question ever. In more ways than one because I'm asking myself that I am about to be 50 this year. And everything I am. It is because somebody else before me, made me who I am, in so many ways. So, I guess I'm in this moment that I felt the need and the urge, yes, to take care of myself. But I do believe that the new American Dream is also not only thinking on taking care of yourself and your own, but also working as hard to try to provide for others you don't know. I understand that we cannot all be everywhere. But it gives me relief knowing that around the world is always amazing people in our communities, that they take care of each other and that's the world I want to live in.
CK: You are a firm believer; I think that you can constructively create the world you want to live in. Right?
JA: Totally. And that means understanding that we are not perfect. You know Western Churchill said that success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. That means that sometimes you're going to try and you're going to, you're going to fail or you're going fall way short of your dreams. But even if you fall short, you should be proud of yourself because you try and hope and enthusiasm is what what makes us who we are and what keeps us going.
CK: This reminds me oddly enough of a Calvin Coolidge quote I love when he said, When you don't know what to do, do the work in front of you. And, and that sounds so much like, that's something you would have said, right? Because people need to be fed. So you go feed them. It's really that simple.
JA: In some ways, we all contribute to touch the field. But sometimes when we have the possibility, why we cannot try to, to reach the many. That's what happens in this moment that chefs like me and so many others, we have that power sometimes to show up and organize the chaos and start feeding people that are badly in need of a plate of food.
CK: So you get off the plane in Puerto Rico after the hurricane. And what did you see? And how did you overcome the obstacles you you wanted to feed people. But there were other organizations on the ground that wanted to have meetings first, right?
JA: Even before I landed, the first thing for everybody to understand is when we are already in the plane. And the pilot says that's anyone carry a satellite phone with them. And I'm like what? A satellite phone that’s suddenly to thought that was the situation in San Juan airport, the pilot needed that phone, that satellite phone, if he was going to be able to be talking to the control tower. When I arrived, I very quickly saw that the problem was even bigger than what we saw on TV. And the only thing we did is what we know people are hungry. And people were in need of food. The shelves of the supermarkets were totally empty. And we gathered a group of friends. And we began cooking first day, we did 1000 meals,
CK: And you ended up feeding millions eventually. How did you get from A to B? I mean, what were you cooking with? Propane. What what did you have?
JA: what we did was, what we did was, we went to the kitchen of my friend Jose Enrique, in the heart of San Juan, we had to be in a place that anyone that wanted to help us could have easy access used by walking, we had some gasoline and some cars. Why? Because in the moment you start feeding somebody, whatever gas is left, they're going to help you because they know you want to help even more people. So very quickly, we're cooks we always know anyone that has food, where to find it. And we found food that was ready available in the island, because they couldn't answer the phone because the phones were not working. What we did, we drove there and while happened, we found them. And what happened we open a line of credit, and they began giving us the food. And the only thing I told them make sure whatever happens that the food keeps coming. So, we went for you to understand from 20 friends that first day and one kitchen, we went from 20 friends to 25,000 volunteers from one kitchen to 25 kitchens. The end guess is through when many people were meeting and talking about how to do it. We were already doing it. Sometimes in these situations a plan is an enemy of providing food relief for us. No plan, use cooking and delivering the food to the people in need was what we did. And that's why we made the difference.
CK: So, the motto, I guess is feed people first have meetings afterward,
JA: You got it.
CK: Let's talk about your book, Vegetables Unleashed. You start with a few statistics, I’ll just read a few of them. The calories from $1 of soda 420 calories from $1 of broccoli, 39 increase in food waste in the last three decades. 50% and I love this one percentage of Americans who do not regularly consume produce at all 42%. You want to just talk about that for a second.
JA: Well, the reason for me to do this Vegetable book and concentrate on vegetables is because today, our farm bill indirectly through farming through corn, were able to subsidize meat. That's why it's so cheap. And that's why it’s so ready and so findable anywhere. But big big part of America has no access to vegetables, some fruits and when they have access it’s expensive.
CK: You have a great quote in the book you say unlike meat, fruits and vegetables offer a mystery that lingers long after you stop chewing
JA: I mean, is far away more sexier to have a good bite of a juicy pineapple that needs to have a steak and I am a meat guy and I love steaks. But the truth is that I have the pineapple that is aroma is all around me is fresh is juicy from the beginning to the end is like day and night.
CK: It's funny because you sometimes disagree with sort of the conventional wisdom about buying food. So so, talk to me about this whole notion of you know food from a distance versus local food you have a sort of different take?
JA: Well, I always been trying to argue against myself, I think is a very good game. I think all we should be doing this. I remember a few years ago, I was in Napa Valley, and we were in our food conference. The conference was about local, and seasonal. And I saw some chefs that they were complaining, like, we need to be doing more local, more seasonal. I don't understand the chefs that don't do local and seasonal. And that same chefs, was drinking champagne from France, and the jeans, were made in Cambodia, and their shoes were made in China. And I was like, Really, I do believe that pragmatism wins the day. I do believe that when is local and seasonal, we need to be there supporting. But with all the issues we face, being pragmatic, I believe wins the day. Some people even estimate that 30 40% of the food production of planet Earth goes to waste, we need to make sure that the systems of distribution are so organized, that we can make sure that when we have extra food somewhere can reach where people are lacking food.
CK: Let's turn to cooking vegetables for a moment. In Vegetables Unleashed. There's a lot of things you say in here that most people don't know, or it's a different way of looking at vegetables. So, give me three or four basic concepts here. That would help me and other people think in a new way about cooking vegetables.
JA: Well, one of the things I mentioned in the book, I think we dedicate the entire page on boiling water. Quite frankly, I grew up with my mother always putting a pot of water on the fire, and she will put potatoes. And once the potatoes were about to be done, she will add or green beans, or asparagus, or broccoli or cauliflower. And in the moment those vegetables were cooked, she will strain the water. And then she will put all these potatoes with the best tables on the middle of the table. Some olive oil, some Spanish ____ or paprika, maybe some vinegar. And that's that. And I always remembered that dish has been beautiful today in my house, every single day is a plate of vegetables simply boiled on the table. Next to anything else we do. Sometimes the best recipe is the one that you make with love. And that doesn't take a lot of time for you to spend on the kitchen.
CK: You also I just have to mention that you have a recipe for compost potatoes, which is pretty interesting.
JA: This one everybody I know I'm going to be getting all love praise or a lot of heat for it. So was the idea of the compose the festivals that are about to become compose. And to cook with those ambassadors. It's almost like the entire 360 degrees circle of life. And all of a sudden, we had the love coffee grinds, and I think we had on yours and we had leeks and we had corn and we had tomatoes, and we put it in the oven in a terracotta plate. And guess what we took them out the potatoes were cooked with all these amazing aroma and the smell coming from the oven. And we began eating the potato with some butter and some salt. And they were delicious. And so we put it in the book.
CK: Do you think if you are, let's say, in America, cooking Ethiopian food or Peruvian food, do you think that informs you a little bit about someone else's culture, it's a way of introducing other people to you or not
JA: Totally. When you have immigrants, they always enrich every city, every nation they come to, because they bring with them who they are. And in the process, we all become better. So, restaurants to me, they've been this amazing way to make sure that different cultures from around the world, we will see that at the end we are much more equal than we are different. We’re equal because we love foot and we're equal because we love our traditions and foot art at the heart of the DNA of who we are.
CK: You're an immigrant unabashedly. It's very much a part of who you are you feel very strongly about how America welcomed you and gave you an opportunity. What would you say about America as an immigrant experience?
JA: Well, I will say it still today is the land of opportunity. No country is perfect. Obviously, America, everybody's expecting so much from this beautiful country of ours. Why? Because when you are the most powerful country these comes also with obligations with responsibilities, and I do believe that America cannot hesitate to keep being the leader of the world. Finding a home for what is right, but also making sure that we keep fighting around the wall for what we think is right.
CK: On a more personal note, I don't know if you ever have quote unquote, day off, or whether that idea even exists in your mind. But if you did have a day off, what how ideally would you want to spend it.
JA: So, if I can use a little bit of creativity and using the ____of Star Trek, I will start my very early morning where I was born in the beautiful northern region of Astoria, very high up in the mountains almost is like, you could touch the clouds above you. And there is these three big beautiful lakes, surrounded by cows, some of the best cheeses are made with the milk of those cows. And these a place that to me, I called paradise. And then probably, I will go from there to have lunch, in these little market in Peru, in a beautiful town of Cusco, very close to where the Machu Picchu is. And in that market, I will have these amazing fry eggs with this chopped tomato and onion and pepper, then from there, probably I will jump into Puerto Rico and I will get lost in this amazing forest of a ___ and you will hear this amazing sound of a little frog called coqui. And he's a very good noise that you really don't want to forget because it's a happy noise. And I can keep going and going but things so far, this has been a good trip.
CK: Interviewing you when I ask a question. I never I have no idea what you're going to say.
JA: And this is only lunch.
CK: That was an answer I did not expect although it was extraordinarily poetic and moving.
JA: But don’t we all dream of those places we want to be. one of my favorite places in the world is an island in the north part of the Galapagos. And there I've been scuba diving with amazing sharks, hammerhead sharks, that in my life next to my family, the next thing I want to be is in the water with hammerheads.
CK: If you're not afraid of swimming with hammerhead sharks, what are you afraid of?
JA: Do you know what I'm afraid of I'm afraid of? Humanity. Giving up on itself, of not giving a damn of those that are not like us. But at the same time being afraid is only a way used to be alert. But being hopeful is a way to take action.
CK: Jose, thank you so much for joining us on Milk Street and I need to get down and say hello soon.
JA: I go up and I say hello too. I miss you my friend because and congrats on everything you're doing.
CK: Thank you. That was chef Jose Andres. His new book is called Vegetables Unleashed a cookbook. Jose Andres keeps showing up in my life. Years ago, at a book signing in Bethesda. One summer evening by pure chance finding him with his family, standing just a block away from my house, or getting an email from Jose asking me to meet him in Puerto Rico in the wake of the hurricane. I'm beginning to think that he's trying to deliver a message perhaps Tennessee Williams put it best make voyages attempt them. There is nothing else. It's time to chat with Lynn Clark about this week's recipe chocolate ginger scones. Lynn how are you?
Lynn Clark: I'm great Chris.
CK: You know I spend some time up in Portland Maine. It's not far from Boston in laws live there. And Tandem bakery is one of those great bakeries they there's a lot of them in Portland, but I love Tandem, and Brianna Holt is the baker and among other things, she makes great scones with a really unusual combinations of flavors. Last time I was there it was a chocolate ginger scone big chunks of chocolate and big chunks of ginger too. I thought it was kind of an odd combination at first and then I took a bite and I was convinced so let's do Brianna Holt's chocolate ginger scones.
LC: Brianna’s recipe is perfect. She uses three different types of ginger she uses ground ginger, fresh ginger and crystallized ginger. Big chunks of chocolate, has a really nice craggy exterior but really soft and fluffy on the inside. The only problem with her recipe is that its bakery production sized. So huge quantities we needed to scale it down for the home cook and that is tricky when it comes to baking.
CK: Because things work on a big scale don't always work well on a small scale
LC: Unfortunately. So, we start with the dry ingredients. That's the flour this are some warm spices, a little bit of black pepper, which is kind of one of her hallmarks of combining sweet and savory flavors, the leavener and that gets mixed together and then half of that goes in the food processor. And you add really cold butter to that and process just until those pieces of butter are about pea sized pieces.
CK: So, you know, I've made scones hundreds of times, never together, I'd point out but in our separate house, and you take all the dry ingredients and all the butter and put it together at one time. And now she's doing half the dry ingredients. Why?
LC: So that's actually something we discovered here at Milk Street. We found that in order to get the butter incorporated really well and get everything sort of a uniform size piece of butter, only adding half of those dry ingredients allowed us to do that without softening the butter too much. Some pieces would get really too soft. Other pieces were too big. So, this really incorporated it well.
CK: So this is a Milk Street trick
LC: It was
CK: Okay, so now we have a dough and what do we do?
LC: So, we put that into a bowl, add the rest of the flour, add in the crystallized ginger and the chocolate. And then you want to toss this really gently together we should be using sort of like the claw hand to toss this together. We add buttermilk to this. That's the liquid ingredient we're using here. But you want to do that in three editions and really sort of gently combine it. It's really important not to overwork this or like I said the butter will melt
CK: Because there’s a lot of butter in this recipe
LC: There is
CK: These are fairly big scones, I assume?
LC: They are so we take that quantity of dough and transfer it to the counter knead it just really a couple of times to get sort of a cohesive dough and flatten into a disk and then you make six sort of large scones out of these wedges.
CK: So, these bake in a moderately hot oven. I assume
LC: 375 for about 30 minutes. She likes them room temperature, but I think they're just as good hot and the chocolates nice and melty. It's really delicious.
CK: We never tasted them at room temperature because they never lasted.
LC: That's probably true.
CK: So, thanks to Brianna Holt of the Tandem bakery in Portland, Maine triple ginger scones with chocolate chunks. Thank you, Lynn.
LC: You're welcome. You can get this recipe for triple ginger scones with chocolate chunks at 177 Milk Street.com
CK: You're listening to Milk Street Radio coming up Dan Pashman and I discuss the politics of the communal office fridge we'll be right back
Support for Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street comes from Consumer Cellular with Consumer Cellular do all the things you love to do with a wireless plan designed for you choose from a variety of no contract monthly plans offering nationwide coverage and 100% US based customer support to learn more visit consumer cellular.tv.
CK: This is Milk Street radio I'm Christopher Kimball. Now it's time for some culinary inspiration from one of our listeners.
Caller: Hi, this is cooker lady Debbie from New Jersey. My tip is about vanilla beans. I take two or three vanilla beans and I put them right into my sugar container. Voila, I have vanilla sugar. It flavors my sugar. So, if I'm adding it to coffee or something like that it has a much better flavor. It's a great tip and you use less vanilla. Thank you.
CK: If you'd like to share your own culinary tip on Milk Street Radio, please go to 177 Milk Street.com/radio tips. One more time. 177 Milk Street.com/radio tips. Next up, it's the uncensored Dan Pashman. Dan Pashman how are you?
Dan Pashman: I'm doing well, Chris. y\You know, I've never had the opportunity to visit you at Milk Street headquarters, but I would assume that you have refrigerators there.
CK: Yeah, we do.
DP: And I'll bet that there's some refrigerators that are like for recipe testing and development that's like for the work that's being done, but then there's other refrigerators or at least a refrigerator that's like a staff office fridge, like for people to bring in their lunches and whatever.
CK: Yeah, there's one half size brown plastic fridge that sits by the water cooler and all of our 40 employees have crammed things into a space the size of about four lunch boxes
DP: Which creates an issue, and this is what I want to discuss with you is the overall issue of Office fridge theft. Office refrigerators all across this land, Chris, people are stealing other people's lunches. What what can folks out there do to prevent office fridge theft?
CK: Well, first of all, what's being stolen if you bring, is someone stealing your lunch, or they're taking your yogurt, or they're taking your what?
DP: All of the above
DP: Kombuchas, bottles of ketchup, a whole sandwich. Sometimes people are opening up a plastic container of food and eating some of it out and then putting it back half eaten. There are some depraved creatures out there, Chris, let me tell you.
CK: And so, what's your theory about why this is happening all of a sudden?
DP: Well? Well, I don't know that it's all of a sudden, I think it's been happening for a long time. But I think maybe there's more conversation around it now in the age of social media. I think it's a power move, it’s really why they're doing it and I think that the people who do this on a regular basis are people who feel disenfranchised, and they feel like this is a way to strike back. But but there are things that you can do. You know, there are things you can do to protect yourself. Okay. (Okay) First of all, I think that sometimes people get too hung up on refrigeration. If you brought in your food that morning from home, there's almost no food in the world that needs to be refrigerated for the four or five hours until you eat it. If you're going to put it in the fridge, store it in an opaque container. Alright, Google did research at their headquarters. You know, Chris, all these dot.com places have all this free food in the offices. And Google has they had like a bunch of junk food. And then they had like healthy snacks, and they wanted to get their employees to eat the healthy snacks. But they didn't want to take away the unhealthy snacks because that would seem too authoritarian. So, what they did is they put the unhealthy snacks in opaque containers and the healthy snacks in clear containers. And they found that because it was easier to see what was inside the clear containers, people ate more of the healthy snacks. So don't make it too easy for people to see what your food is, wrap it well in an opaque container and shove it in the back of the fridge. The average office fridge thief is not going to go digging for easy prey
CK: One of our most successful corporations, Google this is what they're spending their time on?
Is refrigerator theft
DP: They’ve got money to burn, Chris.
CK: Okay, so opaque container that's hard to open and in the back of the fridge. Okay.
DP: Right. And then if you find yourself being a repeated victim, I have heard the stories that people putting an insane amount of hot sauce or hot peppers in their lunch so that the thief takes one bite and is like scarred forever and never bothers you. Again. I will say I think that the angry note or the all-staff email, which is a common approach that's entertaining, and if you want to entertain your coworkers go for it but I don't think that helps. In fact, if anything, I think it probably encourages the thief because it gives them the attention that they crave.
CK: So, what about, you know, some, some containers are very hard to open. What about the most difficult container to open? I would be my first place to go.
DP: I think that's a good move. I mean, you know, maybe you got to childproof. (Right) situation there. Well, you know, Chris, I think the the solution to this problem and how the office fridge should be managed says a lot about the way we think society should function. You know, because the office fridge is a shared resource. And then there's the foods that we all bring in. But let's say that you bring in a jar of hot sauce. Well, I might, I might like a few dashes of hot sauce in my food, does that mean I now have to bring in my own hot sauce and you're going to bring in you know, do we need all 40 Milk Street employees each going to have a salad dressing and a hot sauce in the fridge all simultaneously, you know, that's a waste of space. It's a waste of communal resources, right? Shouldn't we all come together and share resources? Then again, some people would say no look, you know, to each his own, like libertarian live in a cabin in the woods. And, you know, every every person for themselves.
CK: So, okay, you're suggesting that some of the things in the office fridge should be shared resources and other things are private property
DP: That's right. That's exactly right. Just like anything in society, you know, we all pull resources to get the roads paved and for schools and for police and fire departments and all these things. So, shouldn't the office fridge be managed in a similar way to some degree?
CK: Well, then there should be two office fridges, the communal one and then the private property fridge.
DP: Interesting. And how do we determine each individual's obligations to the communal fridge?
CK: This is like Lord of the Flies, right or something? Is that where we're headed here?
DP: It could be but you know, it's like, I mean, should the people who take more from the communal fridge provide more for the people who make more money in the office the higher side salaries, should they provide more? I mean, should it be from each according to his ability to each according to his need? What What should be our guiding principle?
CK: You know, I would let chaos reign, let people figure it out on their own. That's what I would do.
DP: Right. So, your Lord of the Flies, you're going to you're not going to take my Communist Manifesto bait.
CK: So so just to summarize here. So, your solution to this problem is a communal set of rules and regulations around the use of the fridge.
DP: Well, I think you're right, that if you bring in your own food, like a sandwich or a lunch or a salad or something, and you put that in the fridge like that's yours, right. But condiments, seasoning sauces. I mean, first of all, just space efficiency, like you should share. But I also think that in offices today, even with all this move towards open workflow plans and low walls, and we're all sitting on top of each other. I think that still people don't interact much because we're all looking at our computers too much. And I think that the idea of having this space where we all come together and oh, you need some hot sauce, here you go. You need some ranch dressing there you go, Oh, I got some molten salt. You know, it turns lunchtime into a communal activity. And I think that that's kind of fun.
CK: Fair enough.
DP: If I have to buy a couple more bottles of Siracha than I use, you know, that's my contribution to the greater good.
CK: Well, that's good. Dan you're not tyrannical. Dan, thank you. Condiments should be shared. Don't touch my sandwich.
DP: Fair enough. I'll take that deal.
CK: That was Dan Pashman of The Sportful. That's it for today. If you tune in later, just want to listen again, please download and subscribe to Milk Street Radio on your go to podcast app. To learn more about Milk Street visit 177 Milk Street.com. There you can download each week's recipe. Take an online cooking class or order our latest cookbook, Milk Street Tuesday Nights. You can also find us on Facebook at Christopher Kimball's Milk Street on Instagram and Twitter and 177 Milk Street. We'll be back next week and thanks as always for listening.
Chris Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Radio is produced by Milk Street in association with WGBH executive producer Melissa Baldino. Senior audio editor Melissa Allison, producer Annie Sensabaugh. Associate Producer Jackie Novak, production assistant Stephanie Cohn and production help from Debby Paddock. Senior audio engineer Douglas Sugars, additional editing from Vicki Merrick Sidney Lewis and Haley Fager, and 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