Mortgage Lifters are amongst the most flavorful heirloom tomatoes. They are red and pink and so big that they average two- to four pounds each. During the Great Depression, an out-of-work Charlie Byles, looking for alternative means of earning money, decided to develop a large and meaty tomato that could feed entire families. Byles planted three Beefsteak, three Italian and three English tomatoes in a circle surrounding a German Johnson Tomato. He cross-pollinated the German Johnson with pollen from the other nine plants in the circle. He saved the seeds, and for six years, he repeated this process. When he was satisfied that he had grown a stable meaty tomato, he sold the seedlings for $1.00 each, which was a hefty sum back in the 1940s. The tomato was so popular that people drove hundreds of miles to purchase the seedlings.
Where were you raised? On the Atlantic coast of France. The beaches of Brittany—at Quiberon, exactly.
Ah, you must have been raised on fresh fish! Yes, my father was a fisherman, and we ate fresh seafood most of the time.
I guess it is because Hervé Bochard (chef-proprietor of Les Baux) is from Brittany, the French home of the artichoke, that he seems to procure the very best artichokes and prepares them so well. We always order them when we find them on the menu. Some friends and Gerard and I alert each other when we see it in the menu.
Roasting is probably the easiest cooking technique, with the most satisfying results. Your oven does most of the work while you spend time on the side dishes or dessert. Roasting involves cooking food in an uncovered pan in the oven. It is a dry cooking technique, as opposed to wet techniques like braising, stewing, or steaming. Dry, hot air surrounds the food, cooking it evenly on all sides. Depending on your recipe, you can roast at low, moderate, or high temperatures. It is the ideal method for large cuts of meat or poultry: rib roasts, ham, whole turkeys or chickens, or tenderloins. Smaller cuts, such as boneless chicken breasts or fish fillets, tend to dry out in the oven (they're usually better sautéed). Roasting is also ideal for dense vegetables such as potatoes, beets, and winter squash, as it concentrates their natural sugars and intensifies their flavor.
I have friends who have told me about this place for quite some time, but I have been satisfied with the fish at Adams so I never ventured over there. This week I was in Sharon and stopped by. I was bowled over. It is inspiring to see such a variety of fresh fish. Makes me want to cook. I bought some filet of sole, and Gerard and I had them "Meuniere" for lunch. I have been back to buy fish twice since then and am so impressed with the quality and freshness that I asked owner Chuck Lee to pose for a photo with one of his whole salmons for you. Chuck tells me he gets fish fresh three times a week in the winter and more often four times a week in the summer. This week was the opening of Shad Roe season, so any aficionados know where to go for it.
I had not been to Aurelia for a while, so Gerard and I stopped in for lunch last week. I was pleased to find this salad on the menu. This salad featuring octopus, squid and shrimp with confit tomatoes, marinated red peppers and arugula it was quite enjoyable. I understand they are in the process of developing a new spring menu. Susan, please keep this dish on. It should be a summer favorite.
In his book Braise, A Journey Through International Cuisine, Daniel Boulud explains that every new cook who comes to work in his kitchen is asked to prepare for the staff a dish from his or her home country. While the chefs come from the four corners of the earth and the taste and ingredients differ, the dish is almost invariably braised. This ancient technique is popular everywhere because it transforms inexpensive, tough cuts of meat (beef, lamb, veal, pork, poultry or seafood ) into succulent morsels and creates a perfect sauce to accompany it. The technique is therefore very economical—especially for a large group. It is also very easy to do. For anyone who has mastered the basic "secrets," braising can make a casual cook seem like a talented chef.
The Differences between Braising and StewingBoth braising and stewing cook pieces of meat with selected vegetables in liquid at fairly low temperatures, but there are many differences. (See the visual above).