Author Archives: AmoreECucina

Set Your Raffle Strategy for the Food Is Love event TODAY

Standard

Come join us in celebrating the incredible work of Boston Medical Center’s Preventative Food Pantry and Demonstration Kitchen and their efforts to fight hunger in our community.

We’ll be serving up a complementary sampling of some of Boston finest ales with a narrated Tap Talk by one of Harpoon’s beer connoisseurs . As well as little raffle with some amazing foodie prizes.

Bring your friends!!! (More Info)

Thursday, November 7th 7-9 pm

Harpoon Beer Hall Tasting Room
306 Northern Ave
Boston, MA
(Next to the Bank Boston Pavilion)

$25 Gift Certificate to Chef Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery

 

Joanne Chang, Pastry Chef/Owner

An honors graduate of Harvard College with a degree in Applied Mathematics and Economics, Joanne left a career as a management consultant to enter the world of professional cooking.

She started as garde-manger cook at Boston’s renowned Biba restaurant, then worked as a pastry cook at Bentonwood Bakery in Newton, and in 1995 was hired as Pastry Chef at Rialto restaurant in Cambridge.

Joanne moved to New York City in 1997 to work in the cake department of the critically acclaimed Payard Patisserie and Bistro. Returning to Boston a year later with dreams of opening up her own pastry shop, she brought her French and American training to Mistral where she was the Pastry Chef until summer of 2000.

In 2000, she opened Flour, a bakery and café, in Boston’s South End. Flour features breakfast pastries, breads, cakes, cookies, and tarts as well as sandwiches, soups, and salads. In 2007 she opened a second branch of Flour in the Fort Point Channel area, in 2010 a third branch in Cambridge near MIT and Central Square, and in 2013 a fourth branch in the Back Bay.

Flour has been featured in Gourmet, Food&Wine, Bon Appetit, the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Lucky Magazine, Inc. Magazine, and Boston Magazine and has received numerous Best of Boston awards. Flour was also featured on Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the Food Network in which Joanne’s sticky buns won over Chef Flay’s.

Joanne’s energetic commitment to excellence extends beyond the kitchen. She writes pastry articles and reviews cookbooks for Fine Cooking magazine. She teaches classes and advises pastry cooks both within the bakery and at area cooking schools. She opened a Chinese restaurant called Myers + Chang with her husband Christopher Myers in the South End neighborhood in the fall of 2007. An avid runner, she competed in every Boston Marathon from 1991 – 2006. She is the author two cookbooks: Flour, Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery+Cafe and Flour Too, Indispensible Recipes for the Cafe’s Most Loved Sweets and Savories.

Favorite Dish: cinnamon cream brioche


 

$50 Gift Certificate to The Gallows, South End

In June 2010 owner Rebecca Roth, along with Seth Morrison and Seth Yaffe opened The Gallows to rave reviews. The trio met years ago in the kitchen of another South End Star- Perdix. After polishing their approach at the Biltmore in Newton, they strove to open a place that they, themselves, would go to. A menu that reflects the best of the moment and a staff that loves what they do.

Rebecca, the Seths and the entire Gallows family approach each day as yet another day to improve, have fun and create a welcoming spot in the neighborhood.

Best Poutine in the City. It’s not what you think. Sinner.

Favorite Dish: Toss up Scotch Egg vs. Cider Braised Short Rib w chanterelle mushrooms, horseradish celery root slaw

Chef and Owner Ana Sortun Signed Cookbook

With a degree from La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris, the Seattle-born Ana Sortun opened Moncef Medeb’s Aigo Bistro in Concord, Massachusetts, in the early 1990s. Stints at 8 Holyoke and Casablanca in Harvard Square, Cambridge soon followed.

This was all in the beginning of her career, when Sortun was still cooking what most people think of as typical Mediterranean food from Spain, southern France and Italy. People loved it. While at Casablanca, a friend of the owner invited Sortun to study in Turkey.

Not knowing anything about Turkish food or culture but eager to learn, she accepted. (“I imagined flying carpets and genies,” she says wryly.) But when she arrived in southeastern Turkey, Sortun’s host and her friends presented a potluck of sorts. “I tasted 30 amazing dishes from these women’s family repertoires,” Sortun remembers. “I was stunned at how rich and interesting yet light everything was.”

That trip was when she learned that in the Mediterranean, spice is used to create richness, depth and flavor without heaviness. She also experienced the mezze style of eating, which is to have many tastes of mostly vegetable-based dishes before reaching a protein course. “Chefs always focus on flavor and appearance,” says Sortun, “but few think about how one feels after eating a long meal.”

Upon her return to Boston, she wanted to fuse her newfound love of Eastern Mediterranean spices with her passion for using only the best ingredients. The result of this union was Oleana, which opened in Cambridge in 2001. A mere four years later, Sortun won a coveted and prestigious James Beard Award.

Sortun’s commitment to locally grown food took a turn for the personal when a farmer selling spinach turned up at the back door of Oleana one day. “I knew then that I would marry him,” Sortun says. Since 2006, Siena Farms has been providing the restaurant with most of its fresh, organic produce. It is owned and farmed by the chef’s husband, Chris Kurth, and named after the couple’s daughter.

Wanted to launch a more casual venue, three years of brainstorming later, in August of 2008, Sofra was born in Cambridge, Mass. This Middle Eastern bakery, café and retail shop offers flatbread sandwiches, mezzes, prepared foods and baked goods. It has received both local and national press; Food & Wine, Metropolitan Home and Gourmet have all featured it as a place not to miss.

Favorite Dish: Flattened Lemon Chicken with Zatar and Turkish Cheese Pancake. Featured on “Best Thing I Ever Ate”.


Brunch for Two at Coppa South End

Greek Avgolemono Soup with Spinach and Feta

Standard
Cat Cora’s Greek Tasting Lunch

(Photo credit: don.reid)

Very excited for soup season, so easy and so hearty.  Soup is a big winter staple here in New England. It freezes great. Can even freeze it in individual containers. (If you can find the matching lid).

Avgolemono, or egg-lemon, soup, has a creamy texture without the cream complemented by the bright flavors of the lemon. It’s healthy and a great addition to any weeknight menu.  Add a dollop of harrisa and you’ve got a little kick.

Here’s a recipe from a fantastic organizations, Community Servings.

Ingredients

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry orzo
2 eggs
5 ounce bag baby spinach or 1/2 8 ounce bag regular spinach, chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Black pepper to taste

Preparation

1. Heat broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil

2. Add orzo, and continue boiling about 7 minutes, until orzo is tender. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer.

3. While orzo is cooking, crack eggs into a medium bowl and whisk with lemon juice until well blended.

4. Carefully ladle about 1/2 cup of the broth into the eggs and whisk to continue.

5. Add the egg and liquid mixture to the pot and stir for about 2 minutes.

6. Add the spinach before serving, and cook just until wilted and still bright green.

7. Divide among 2 bowls and sprinkle with feta.

 

Food out of the mouths of children

Standard
American cultural icons, apple pie, baseball, ...

American as (Wikipedia)

Some 47 million Americans who receive food stamps will see their benefits shrink by an average of 5 percent this week (about $36), when additional financing for the food aid program included in the 2009 stimulus expires on Friday.  Hear the story here.

Some SNAP Facts:

  • Some 43 percent of SNAP recipients live at or below half the poverty line. ($11,490/individual or $23,550/family of four) Only 15 percent live above the poverty line.
  • Children under 18 account for 47 percent of all food stamp recipients. Eight percent are seniors.
  • The share of SNAP recipients that also receives welfare benefits is at historic lows; in 2010, that number was less than 10 percent.
  • Administrative costs for the food stamp program are at the lowest they’ve been since the 1990′s.
  • The average length of time a new participant is on SNAP is eight to nine months.
  • There is an incentive to work built into the system, which decreases benefits as a person earns income, but at a staggered rate.  In practice this means that someone will benefit more by working and having their assistance reduced slowly (or stopped altogether when their income becomes high enough) than by remaining on SNAP long term.

For every $1 invested in SNAP, $3 will be generated in the economy.  People need to eat. And given kids make up 47% of the program, this is not only an healthcare issue, it’s an economic one.  Immediate boosts into the economy combined with increased productivity in school are a no brainer.

As Congress continues to discuss the Farm Bill, please urge your Members of Congress not to accept the House’s  $40 billion dollars in cuts to SNAP. It’s ill-advised and just plain nasty.

If you are inclined to call, use the switchboard 202-224-3121.  Not sure who your Member is? Check here,  top right hand corner to enter your zip code.

I know this has been a bit of a soapbox and promise to post some legit recipes but can’t sit and watch food taken out of children’s mouths.

Foodie Prizes for a Good Cause

Standard

Hey Kids, 

 
One week till we’re celebrating Boston Medical Center’s Preventative Food Pantry and more importantly the beer tasting. 
 
We’ve wrangled in some pretty awesome raffle prizes from foodie favorites like Oleana, Coppa and Flour Bakery. 
 
So swing on by, bring some friends, have some brews. 
 
Thursday, November 7th 7-9 pmHarpoon Beer Hall Tasting Room
306 Northern Ave
Boston, MA
(Next to the Bank Boston Pavilion)

If you can’t make it out to Boston and still would like to help, check out the fundraiser here. 
 
 
 Bottlecap

Field Trip: Boston Medical Center’s Preventative Food Pantry

Standard

BMC Food Pantry

Recently, I had the opportunity to see how one hospital is working to address hunger as a health issue.  It began twelve years ago when Dr. Deborah Frank, a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center a safety-net hospital, decided to holistically address what she saw as chronic hunger in her community.  Children would present to the hospital reporting tummy aches.  After a battery of tests, it would occur to doctors to ask, “When was the last full meal you ate?”

It was then that she established a preventative food pantry and demonstration kitchen.  Engaging doctors to screen for food security  not only saved the hospital money but also saved children from enduring further medical testing.

Now hospital-wide, doctors and clinicians are screening and writing “prescriptions” for the more serious cases to visit the food pantry where they receive fresh fruits, vegetables and meats year round.  This “prescription” becomes part of their electronic medical record and doctors can follow up with their patient’s progress.  Here in the demo kitchen, they also learn how to prepare the meals in a tasty way specific to their dietary restrictions—giving people the tools they need to be healthy and manage chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and cancer.

Through creative partnerships, the food pantry is able to run on 100 percent development funding.  Partnerships such as Food for Free, a farmer’s market program that donates produce not purchased, the Greater Boston Food Bank and the garden atop the BMC roof, the preventative pantry is able to supply 7,000 people per month with quality, nutritious food.   But it is not as though, the pantry does not have to pinch pennies; it serves 500 families a week on $500.

None of this would be possible if it were not for the extremely dedicated staff, namely Latchman Hiralall a registered dietician who was at the pantry from the start.  His warmth and empathy are notably from the very moment you meet.  Operations are sharp and created in a way to ensure the utmost dignity for the clients he serves.  Carts are prepared with a variety of fresh food while clients fill out paperwork.  When ready, they come to the back and choose from their cart filled with foods to suit their health needs.  Latchman says, ”That way if they already have squash at home, we can give it to someone else.”   He is always cognoscente of pride, especially with “older folks”.

IMG_3091

And that is what is particularly notable about this program.  Not only is it serving a need, addressing cost but it does so in a way to serve Boston Medical Center’s mission of “Exceptional Care, Without Exception”.

As we talk about chronic disease, costs and deficits, it’s an important reminder to get back to what works, access to healthy, fresh foods.  Hospitals across the country are seeing the value in getting back to basics and replicating this model.  But it is not enough.  The scope of this program only allows the most acute patients to visit the pantry twice a month leaving plenty of people in need.

Although a government default was temporarily avoided, the conversations about how to manage the deficit will continue.  Chronic conditions are a major health care cost driver.  Investing in programs like the preventative food pantry and SNAP will not only ensure health expenditures decrease, but we will have a healthier, more productive population.

If you’re interested in learning more about the pantry or helping out, click here.  And if you’re in the Boston area and would like to contribute by sampling complementary brews at Harpoon swing by Nov. 7th.

Come join us in celebrating the incredible work of Boston Medical Center’s Preventative Food Pantry and Demonstration Kitchen and their efforts to fight hunger in our community.

We’ll be serving up a complementary sampling of some of Boston finest ales with a narrated Tap Talk by one of Harpoon’s beer connoisseurs . As well as little raffle with some amazing foodie prizes.

Bring your friends!!!

Thursday, November 7th 8-9 pm

Harpoon Beer Hall Tasting Room
306 Northern Ave
Boston, MA
(Next to the Bank Boston Pavilion)

Suggested donation: $20

(If you’ve given, this is my way of saying thank you. Come for the complementary beer.)

Roasted Butternut Squash for a Meatless Monday

Standard

Driven by a desire not to do dishes, happened to put together a dish perfect for a Meatless Monday dish or as a side in a larger meal.  Roasting vegetables are great in that there is very little effort and oversight.   It’s also a great base for a soup.

Butternut Squash

Ingredients
 
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon cumin 
1 teaspoon smoked hot paprika
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 Cortland apple cubed
1/2 onion minced
2 tablespoons toasted hazelnuts, crushed 
3 cups black beans
 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
 
1. Peel butternut squash. Slice bottom of squash so it lays flight- this will make it easier to dice. You may also slice the top flat. Remove seeds and cut squash into relatively uniform cubes.  This will help it roast evenly.
                      (seeds may be rinsed and also roasted separately with a little oil, salt and pepper for a delicious salty snack)
 
2. Line baking sheet with tin foil.  In a small bowl or ramekin, mix sunflower oil, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin, smoked paprika. Add squash to the baking sheet, pour oil mixture over the squash.   Roast for 10-15 min.  Toss and continue to roast for an additional 10 min.  
 
3. Add apples and diced onions. Continue to roast for 10 min or until vegetables are soft and starting to slightly brown.  While vegetables are browning, toast hazelnuts in a a dry pan until fragrant (few min).  Remove from heat and crush. 
 
4. Once vegetables are done, remove from oven and add hazelnuts and drained and rinsed black beans.  
 
5. Mix and serve warm.
 
 
 
 

That’s my (tomato) Jam

Standard

Who ever said ‘newspapers are a dying business’ really doesn’t know what they are talking about.  There’s nothing I love more than sitting outside pouring over the Sunday papers with a cup of coffee (umm yes, French press. Life as a yuppie is so hard).

In all seriousness, it’s the stories about men like Bobby Paterson and his heroism the day of the Boston bombings or the reporting on new industries popping-up that really make a person feel connected to the city.

Last weekend, the Boston Globe Magazine had a recipe for tomato rosemary jam.  Vaguely intrigued, I gave it a shot.  Within 30 min, I had an absolutely delicious condiment with serious brag potential.  Once I tasted it, I couldn’t stop thinking about the excuses  vehicles on which I could use it, fritatta, toast and baked eggs, grilled cheese with banana peppers, roast beef and boursin sandwich…

Tomato jam sounds so fancy. It was ridiculously easy. Just need to keep an eye on it and stir. Maybe even dance a little bit.

tomato jam

via Boston Globe Magazine

SIMPLE TOMATO JAM

Makes about 1 cup

2 pounds Roma tomatoes (about 10 medium), cored and quartered

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed

Salt and pepper

3½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ cinnamon stick (about 1½ inches)

In a food processor, pulse tomatoes, sugar, 1¼ teaspoons salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons lemon juice until fruit is finely chopped but not completely pureed and sugar is dissolved, about 6 2-second pulses. Pour into a 12-inch nonstick skillet, add cinnamon stick, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has reduced noticeably, about 9 minutes. Adjust heat to medium-high and simmer vigorously, stirring more often as the mixture reduces, until it is glossy and has a jammy consistency between sauce and paste, 10 to 18 minutes. Set aside off heat to cool to room temperature.

Discard cinnamon stick and stir in remaining lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired, and serve (can be refrigerated for 1-2 weeks).

Variations

LEMON-ROSEMARY TOMATO JAM

Makes about 1 cup

Follow Simple Tomato Jam recipe, with these changes:

1) Substitute granulated sugar for the brown sugar. Before pulsing the sugar with the tomatoes in the food processor, process the sugar with 1½ tablespoons of finely grated lemon zest and 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary until moist and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and lemon juice and pulse as directed.

2) Omit cinnamon stick and proceed as directed.

Check out the magazine for other interesting variations.

It’s National Kale Day, y’all

Standard

meet-kale

 

So apparently, it’s National Kale Day.  Lots of great recipes for kale now. If you’re eating kale raw, my recommendation is tear the leaves from the middle out, leave the stems. (They can be a little rough on the tummy)

 

And now that the colder weather is starting, highly recommend Portuguese Kale Soup. 

 

And 12 new kale recipes to try via Huffington Post. 

 

Happy Kale Day Kids!

 

 

Wino Wednesday

Standard

Big fan of the blog Cup of Jo, always wonderful advice, great recipes, homeopathic beauty tip, impeccable fashion.  Her post today made me laugh…

News of the day: White wine drinkers pour the biggest glass of them all  Shocking.

Pino-greege?

TGIF.

Well aight…

Hunger Adds to Health System Costs

Standard

As Congress points fingers over why their constituents can’t see the Lincoln Memorial today, it is important to remember the functions of good government. Making sure fellow citizens, who pay their taxes on time or work the extra shift to replace the now outgrown first day of school outfit have enough to feed their families is not only the very duty of Congress, it is the moral imperative on which the country is founded.

For those who cannot get behind moral imperatives, ponder this:  In a 2010 study from the New England Journal of Medicine found food insecurity increased the cost of illness by about $130.5 billion.

In America, nearly 50 million of our neighbors go hungry each year.  That means 1 in 6 citizens do not know when their next meal will be.  This is not a bootstrap issue.

We must work on changing the conversation from “No government is good government” to “What is best for the American people, our neighbors, our community”?

Check out Boston Medical Center’s Dr. Deborah Frank. She started the food pantry and demo kitchen at BMC. She also started Children’s Health Watch, a research organization focused on child wellbeing measures.

If you’re interested in learning more about the food pantry or helping to complete its mission, click here.

Hunger as a health issueFood insecurity adds to health systems’ costs; October summit seeks solutionsModern Healthcare

By Steven Ross Johnson

Posted: September 28, 2013 – 12:01 am ET

Five years ago, officials at ProMedica, a hospital system based in northeast Ohio, launched a campaign to address nutrition problems in its communities. As social conditions worsened throughout the region, in part because of the Great Recession, it increasingly found that its hospitals and services were being used to treat conditions associated with malnutrition.

The system created a program to direct patients to local resources where they might have access to healthy food. In January, it launched a food distribution effort that has redirected 30,000 pounds of excess food from a local casino to area homeless shelters and food banks. More recently, the provider began screening hospital patients for food insecurity, who then receive an emergency food supply upon discharge.

“With the weight on the industry right now on the demands of reform and all there is in front of us, this truly is prevention,” said Barbara Petee, chief advocacy and government relations officer for ProMedica. “If we can educate people into how putting healthy meals into our mouths helps cut costs at the back end, then we believe that’s a really solid message.”

But that approach could get a lot harder in the months ahead. The 13% expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is about to expire, slashing $5 billion from the food stamps program for fiscal 2013. And last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 217-210 in favor of a bill that would cut SNAP funding by another $39 billion over the next 10 years. The Senate has not approved it.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which advocates for poverty alleviation programs, calculates the House-proposed cut would mean a loss of about $29 a month for a family of three, bringing down the average benefit to less than $1.40 per person per meal. For the 48 million Americans receiving aid through the program, the move would put them further at risk of becoming food insecure, which would likely increase the rate of health conditions normally associated with malnutrition.

“Everyone is going to lose 13% of their benefits, which is about 21 meals a month for a family of four starting Nov. 1,” said Dr. Deborah Frank, professor of pediatrics at Boston University’s School of Medicine and founder of Children’s HealthWatch. “If the other proposals pass, the level of the epidemic is going to become much higher.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that 14.5% of households were food insecure during 2012, a figure that has remained relatively unchanged since 2008.

That is exacerbating the problems of healthcare systems grappling with numerous patients with multiple chronic conditions, which are often associated with people living in deteriorated social conditions, including malnutrition. Even the nation’s obesity epidemic is being driven in part by a different form of malnutrition—the absence of decently stocked grocery stores in many inner-city neighborhoods and rural areas.

“Hunger is link(ed) to obesity,” Petee said. “Oftentimes, obesity is exacerbated by the lack of ability to purchase or have access to nutritious food.”

In October, company executives will be joined by other health providers, as well as health and human service agency officials and anti-hunger advocates for a summit in Washington to further discuss the need to address food insecurity as a health issue.

ProMedica is one of many providers attempting to reshape the conversation over hunger as providers struggle to avoid the added cost burden that an increase in the number of chronic conditions caused by malnutrition could cause for the nation’s health system.

In an article published in the July 1, 2010 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, authors cited research conducted at the Center for Vulnerable Populations at the University of California Center that found a causal link between the availability of nutritious food and the prevalence of such chronic conditions as diabetes and obesity. Researchers found that adults living with severe levels of food insecurity were more than twice as likely to develop diabetes as those who had access to healthy food.

The report estimated that food insecurity increased the cost of illness by about $130.5 billion.

“People typically, when they think about the issue of bad nutrition and food insecurity, are not really thinking about the health consequences of it,” said Ken Thorpe, former deputy assistant secretary at HHS and current chairman of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. “So having that link in way of support is a way to draw attention on a really important problem.”

As more focus is given toward preventive care in wake of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, health advocates said more attention must be given to addressing the social determinants that affect health outcomes. A 2011 report produced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that while 85% of physicians surveyed said they thought social needs were directly leading to worse health, only 20% felt confident in their ability to address the social needs of their patients.

Follow Steven Ross Johnson on Twitter: @MHSjohnson