Food Republic Where Food, Drink & Culture Unite Fri, 27 Nov 2015 16:00:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How To Easily Whip Up Some Honey Butter At Home Fri, 27 Nov 2015 15:00:42 +0000 Honey and butter are two of the more palate-pleasing ingredients used in home cooking today. One might even say that it’s impossible to include too much of one or the other in a single recipe. So how about a recipe combining just the two for a treat sure to evoke childhood nostalgia?

Our friends at ChefSteps wrote in this week with a simple recipe for honey butter, a product that has slowly disappeared from store shelves over the years. For those too young to recall, adding honey to butter was a useful trick that would preserve butter for longer than salting alone, back in an era when preserving and canning foods were more than just trendy things to do. It’s also purely delicious, and this particular recipe yields a rich, spreadable butter that strikes just the right balance between sweet and salty. We don’t think you’ll struggle to find a use for it, but we especially recommend it as a finishing touch on cornbread. You’re welcome.

4 sticks butter, unsalted, softened
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6¼ ounces honey


  1. Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer or food processor. You can whip the butter if you want a light, spreadable texture or simply mix until everything is combined to retain the dense texture of regular butter.

ChefSteps comprises a team of award-winning chefs, filmmakers, scientists, designers and engineers focused on revolutionizing the way people cook by inspiring creativity and encouraging expertise in the kitchen. The site is currently offering free online classes called Cooking Sous Vide: Getting Started and Burgers, as well as a $10 class called Cooking Sous Vide: Beyond the Basics and a $14 class called Coffee.

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Holiday Gift Guide: 10 Food-Forward Goodies Under $30 Fri, 27 Nov 2015 14:00:46 +0000 This holiday season, be an excellent gift giver and never submit to the ease of gift cards or the obviousness of wine-in-a-fancy-bag. Whether it’s a last-minute stocking stuffer, a white elephant gift, or a token of appreciation for the host/hostess, the holiday season is rich with opportunities to impress. Below are some super-fun, unexpected and thoroughly delicious products for your gift-giving needs this year.

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The Perfect Thanksgiving Shirt Is A Complete Mess Wed, 25 Nov 2015 17:00:24 +0000 This guy is so excited to go to Aunt Sally's. You don't even know. (Photo courtesy of Dirt Pattern Material.)
This guy is so excited to go to Aunt Sally’s. You don’t even know. (Photo courtesy of Dirt Pattern Material.)

We’ve all heard the term “Thanksgiving pants,” and some of us already have them ready to go for tomorrow. But what about a Thanksgiving shirt?

For those of you who put food before family at Thanksgiving, can’t be bothered to eat civilly or are too embarrassed to wear your napkin as a bib like a child, Dirt Pattern Material has the shirt for you. Swedish designers Mair/Wennel have created a “camouflage pattern made from a selection of the most common stains from everyday life, such as blood, grass, red wine, bike oil, etc.,” as stated on the pattern’s website. But don’t get it confused with the type of camo Mama June sported at her wedding: “This pattern doesn’t hide the wearer — it camouflages their past.” Now you don’t have to worry about that unavoidable cranberry sauce stain.

While you’re at it, why not make your own? Forget the napkins and just create your own terribly stained shirt in the name of fashion.

[via Food and Wine]

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The Wine Dads Go On A Gamay And Pinot Noir Bender Wed, 25 Nov 2015 15:00:00 +0000 BurtandErniePinotNoir
Photo: See-ming Lee/Flickr

Food Republic’s Richard Martin and Chris Shott are two Brooklyn dads who like to drink good wine. Occasionally, they compare notes on what they’re drinking and post them here for proper sommeliers to ridicule. Follow them on Delectable: @richardmartin1, @chrisshott.

RM: OK, where should we start? How about, have you bought your Thanksgiving wine yet?

CS: I have not! But I have been furiously taste-testing. And I’m rapidly approaching the final decision. Also: My friend who is an Italian wine merchant is technically in charge of the evening’s supply. So I’m really off the hook.

RM:  No, no Italian allowed.

CS: Still! You gotta show up with something, am I right?

RM: Yes, and let’s talk about that. I have seen all these wine experts suggesting one bottle of wine for every two guests, sometimes every three guests, which to me is too low. My rule is one bottle per person, plus a few extra bottles in reserve.

CS: The three-guest rule seems almost Puritan. More is always better. Are you hosting dinner at your place? Or are you hauling all that stuff somewhere else?

RM: I’ll be at my house upstate, and we will definitely be drinking Gamay. Speaking of, what do you think of what we’re drinking? Jean-François Mérieau is one of the most respected young winemakers in the Loire…well, Touraine, to be exact.

CS: I can see why. It is luscious! That’s what I look for in a good red: lusciousness.

RM: Yeah, the thing about Gamay is it has less tannins. So in the wrong hands it can drink like fruit juice. But done right, I find it pretty fucking sublime.

CS: Do you ever venture outside France with your Gamay guzzling?

RM: I haven’t much, and I probably won’t, to be honest.

CS: The other night, I tried one from Serbia. Serbia!

RM: Yeah, i see that on your delectable. WTF? How was it?

CS: It was…not awful. There is a new wine shop in my neighborhood that has introduced me to some wines from outside my usual comfort zones. With mixed results. I tried a sparkler from New Mexico, for instance. Which was horrendous.

RM: What’s the wine shop?

CS:  A place called Good Wine.

RM: Why don’t wine shops ever have good names?

CS: Typically, I’m skeptical about any place with “good” in the title. This place advertises itself as “a food lover’s wine shop.”

RM: I used to live near Big Nose, Full Body, which was at least trying.

CS: This place is closer to me than Red, White & Bubbly, and the folks there have turned me on to some great stuff, beyond that sparkler, obviously.

RM: That’s cool, but you can’t sell food at wine shops in NYC, so that food-wine thing is a joke. I was buying a Morgon the other day at this little wine store near me on Henry Street, and the clerk was on the phone, saying that they had secret charcuterie behind the counter. I was all psyched, like I was in on something, but after he hung up, he said he was just clowning with the owner, because they do get asked if they carry sausage and cheese a lot.

CS: There used to be this great wine shop in Washington, D.C., with an excellent meat counter: AM Wine Shoppe, which had the best sandwiches in Adams Morgan.

RM:  Liquor laws are so arcane…. If they make the laws any worse I’m moving to France. I usually could survive on Bordeaux, Burgundy and Loire wines alone. Anyway, let’s talk turkey…wine.

CS: Turkundy?

RM: Ha, yes. We’ve been drinking a lot.

CS: Nightly. For sure.

RM: Mostly Gamay, Burgundy, Pinot Noir…Serbian stuff. What was the worst/most disappointing?

CS: I had a few bad Pinot Noirs recently: one from California’s Central Coast, one from New York’s Finger Lakes. But the biggest disappointment: one from Oregon’s Willamette Valley! I have enjoyed plenty of Pinots from that region, and it’s usually fail-safe. This one was tragically disappointing. But I suppose I should have known from the label.

RM: Name names, dammit!

CS: I’ll give you a hint: It’s the one that references a hip-hop song from the early ’90s.

RM: Me Myself & Wine? Oof.

CS: Good guess. Another hint. “You down with….?”

RM: Oh, c’mon, we can’t count them in this conversation. O.P.P.: Other People’s Pinot.

CS: That’s the one. The Other People can keep it.

RM: You shouldn’t have been buying that.

CS: Tragic mistake. What can I say? I like to try new things. Maybe I should take your advice and stick to France.

RM: Yeah, I tried some American wine as some of this challenge, to try and find my ideal Thanksgiving wine. Last night, I had a Stoller Family Estate reserve Pinot Noir — I think it was 2013 — and it was perfectly drinkable, but it wasn’t till I paired it with salmon that any character came out.

CS:  I had one of those, too: 2013.

RM: I also had a 2012 Raptor Ridge from Chehalem [Oregon] that was a bit more medium-bodied with that trademark pepper note. I liked that.

CS:  That’s what I love about good Pinots: the peppery quality.

RM: But then a J Vineyard pinot from Cali’s Central Coast was like a fruit bomb. Robert Parker would love it, I’m sure, but not I. OK, so let’s diverge a bit. Tell me about your side mission, to take artsy photos for Delectable. Why?

CS:  Yeah, I try to get a little bit more creative with my snapshots because, well, the simple label images get a little tedious. That’s probably the biggest thing holding Delectable back from being a great social app. Most wine labels, especially the esteemed stuff, are very straightforward and not very good-looking. Maybe there’s a graphic of some family crest or something in there, but it’s just words and numbers. Of course, the New World stuff is getting more creative with its label designs, and those are great on their own.

RM: Like O.P.P.!

CS: Yes, but even that one is just big, bold letters.

RM: Well, I’m down with your mission. I’ll try to liven up my Delectable entries.

CS: I appreciate the support! Delectable is a great tool for keeping track of what you drink, but I think it will be more fun when people start having more fun with the images.

RM: So I’m gonna tell you why I’m going with Gamay for Thanksgiving.

CS: Let’s hear it!

RM: I tried a few notable producers, and I’m really impressed, especially because I’ve only dabbled before. I started with an Yvon Métras Moulin-à-Vent amay, which was fruity but still had a bit of earthiness to it. I usually prefer the depth of Burgundy, but this was one of those Gamays that’s making me take note, and it led me to a bit of research. I consulted the new, revised second edition of Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible, where she wrote, “Beaujolais is fruit and joy; Burgundy is earth and solemnity.” I figure, for a family/friends holiday, it’s best to keep it festive

CS: Sounds about right to me. Maybe once the family has left, you can return to your solemn Burgundy.

RM: Another Gamay I tried, which made it into MacNeil’s book and Isabelle Legeron’s Natural Wine, is Julien Sunier’s Régnié, which lives up to the hype. It’s not as playful as the Métras, and from what I’ve read, the ’14 isn’t the most dynamic vintage, but I really enjoyed it.

CS: If it’s “natural,” then you know the millennials in the clan will love it.

RM: Oh man, you had to mention the M word.

CS: Can we get that into the headline somewhere?

RM: That’s the whole point of being wine dads no millennials were consulted. Leave that to The Wall Street Journal.

CS: You totally just beat me to the WSJ joke.

RM: OK, so my glass is almost empty, and I have to pick up my son from daycare soon. What are you going to bring to Thanksgiving dinner? Anything from our experiment?

CS: I’m going to go a little Gamay-ish myself. But this one is from the New World: valdiguié , which used to be called Napa Gamay. This one is from Broc Cellars in California, plump fruit and eternally drinkable, the sort of bottle that runs dry way too soon. Also: cool fucking label.

RM: I’ll have to scan your Delectable account for it. I’m going with another Gamay, if I can find it, a Cote de Brouilly from Chateau Tivin. It’s exactly what I want in a Beaujolais. While the Beaujolais Nouveau we’re used to from the marketing campaign is juicy and thin, this is a wine that makes you believe in terroir, and I think it’ll be perfect for turkey which I’m making, despite all the people talking about turkey alternatives this year.

CS: Keeping it classic. I like it!

RM: Damn, now that we’re done with this Thanksgiving experiment, what’re you gonna drink tonight?

CS: Rosé, maybe? I know it’s November, but for some reason the missus still craves it probably a Pinot Noir rosé, though, so we’re not straying too far off topic. How bout you?

RM: Bootleg Chinese Bordeaux.

CS: Let’s hope it’s not FAKE.

RM: That’s the whole point. Honestly, though, I’m gonna keep riding the Gamay wave till I get sick of it.

CS: Also: great name for a rock band.

RM: Plus, I’m having squash tonight. And yeah, I’d name my band Bootleg Chinese Bordeaux.

CS: Let me know if you need a kazoo player.

RM: Will do.

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Heading To The Auburn Game? Here Are 6 Places To Eat Incredibly Well In Auburn, Alabama Wed, 25 Nov 2015 14:00:23 +0000 Jordan Hare

If there’s anything that Southerners care about more than their regional cuisine, it’s gotta be SEC football! To celebrate the 2015-16 college football season, Food Republic is launching a new series, SEC FoodBall. Each week, we’ll profile a Southeastern Conference town, and more importantly tell you where you should eat and drink if you’re fortunate enough to attend a game there. We’ll also solicit advice from some locals to make sure you have the benefit of home team advantage.

Week 13: University of Alabama at Auburn, Auburn, Alabama; Nov. 28

When it comes to sheer vitriol between fans of football rivals, the so-called Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn is tough to top. With no less than a trip to the College Football Championship playoffs on the line for ’Bama, the Crimson Tide is returning to the scene of the infamous “Kick Six” game of 2013, when the two previously undefeated teams met in Auburn to decide which state power would represent the SEC West in the conference championship game. Tide fans might want to look away while we describe what happened to Food Republic readers who might know more about slick sauternes than kick returns.

In a nutshell, with one second left in the game and the score tied, Alabama coach Nick Saban elected to have his kicker attempt a 57-yard field goal, which ended up woefully short. So short, in fact, that Auburn’s Chris Davis caught the ball in the end zone and returned it 109 yards for the winning touchdown while ’Bama’s huge linemen lumbered in a futile pursuit. The result of the upset was that Auburn made the championship game instead of the favored Crimson Tide, who would have been competing for their third consecutive national title. Alabama fans took small consolation in the fact that Auburn did end up losing in the championship game to Florida State.

So it goes without saying that spirits will be high in Auburn this weekend as the Tigers seek to play the spoiler to their rival’s championship hopes. No matter who wins and who loses, fans are going to need someplace to fuel the fires that burn in their bellies for their beloved teams, so we turned to a local expert for some crucial eating and drinking advice.

David Bancroft
David Bancroft of Acre

David Bancroft is the executive chef at Acre, a gorgeous farm-to-table restaurant located about a mile from Jordan-Hare Stadium, the home of the Tigers. With an inviting front porch for alfresco dining and an interior accented with recovered wood and a chandelier made from an old fish basket, Acre boasts one of the most striking dining spaces in town. Bancroft’s cuisine focuses on locally sourced produce, Gulf Coast seafood and meats that are chosen in collaboration with the Auburn University Meat Lab to promote farms that practice responsible ranching policies. If there had been a meat lab when I was in college, I might not have cut as many classes.

Those responsibly sourced meats show up on Acre’s popular “Butcher’s Block” charcuterie board in the form of sausages, salumi and other cured meats. The dinner menu skews toward meats and fishes, much to the delight of SEC football fans, so Acre has become a popular spot to drown your tears in seafood or celebrate a win with a huge steak. Acre, 210 E. Glenn Ave., Auburn, AL 36830; 334-246-3763

Splurge Meal

Take a great burger and put an egg on it. Ermahgerd! (Photo courtesy of Amsterdam Cafe.)

When Bancroft isn’t cooking up some of the best high-end cuisine in Auburn, he likes to visit Amsterdam Cafe for fine dining. The menu at the restaurant is internationally eclectic, ranging from down-home sweet tea fried chicken and apple-brined pork chops to French bistro classics, like some darned respectable steak frites. An extensive Sunday brunch with a bottomless mimosa option is a popular stop before driving home the day after an Auburn game  “I gotta pay homage to my old stompin’ ground,” Bancroft says. “There aren’t a lot of options to work in Auburn if you are an aspiring young chef looking to avoid prefabricated foods. Amsterdam’s, as it is affectionately known, has become the chef breeding ground for distracted Auburn students. Chefs such as Rob McDaniel, Adam Evans, Leo Maurelli — all of these talented Auburn guys can trace their lineage back to this kitchen.”  Amsterdam Cafe, 410 S. Gay St., Auburn, AL 36830; 334-826-8181

Duck done right. (Photo courtesy of SpringHouse.)

Speaking of Rob McDaniel, his SpringHouse Restaurant is just an hour’s drive away from Auburn in Alexander City, and many fans happily make that trip for his brand of progressive Southern fine dining. The restaurant is a lovely combination of rustic furnishings with an elegant dining experience. The open kitchen offers an excellent view of McDaniel and his staff at work, and multiple hearths offer warming fires to dine by or a spot to enjoy a creative cocktail. McDaniel’s menu focuses on regional seafood and meat dishes accompanied by Southern cheeses and locally sourced vegetables. Just make sure to get home in time for the ballgame. SpringHouse Restaurant, 12 Benson Mill Rd., Alexander City, AL 35010

Cheap Eats

Pannie Georges
To quote a Lynyrd Skynyrd album title, Pannie-George’s is nothing fancy. But, boy is it good! (Photo courtesy of Pannie-George’s Kitchen.)

For a down-home meal that won’t clean out your wallet, Bancroft would point you toward Pannie-George’s Kitchen: “Imagine the smell of your grandma’s house before a big family supper. This place is practically operated by grandmothers. I pray that when I get to the front of the line of this ‘meat and three’ that it’s fried pork chop day!” Pannie-George’s Kitchen, 2328 S. College St., # 6, Auburn, AL 36832; 334-821-4142

Eat Like a Local

Momma Goldbergs
Momma’s got nuthin’ but love for you. (Photo courtesy of Momma Goldberg’s Deli.)

Momma Goldberg’s Deli may have grown into a chain, but Bancroft and other Auburn fans remember that the original location was started just a block or two from campus. If you really want to eat like a local, order up a Momma’s Love, a sandwich stuffed with roast beef, ham and turkey, slathered with ranch dressing. But Bancroft has another dish that he loves ever more: “It’s pretty safe to assume that every living Tiger fan has had a Momma’s Love with a pitcher of beer. But that’s not what I’m after. I still have nightmares about the times when it was my turn to order and they’ve sold out of Momma’s Nachos. Freakin’ Doritos with melted pepperjack cheese and pickled jalapeños…really?! As if Doritos needed any improvements. Who do they think they are?” Momma Goldberg’s Deli, 217 E. Thach Ave., Auburn, AL, 36830; 334-501-2314


War Chicken! (Photo courtesy of Byron’s BBQ.)

Barbecue is big in the state of Alabama, and Alabamians are pretty proud of their smoked meat. In Bancroft’s opinion,  Byron’s Smokehouse is the best in town: “When I first arrived in Auburn to start my freshmen year, my older brothers took me to Byron’s. We walked through the doors of the renovated Dairy Queen and noticed head coach Tommy Tuberville licking BBQ sauce off his fingers. For the last 15 years, Glen, the owner, has tipped his Auburn hat at me from his perch in front of the smoke pit. Chipped BBQ sandwiches are so good that I always order two!” Byron’s Smokehouse, 436 Opelika Rd., Auburn, AL 36830; 334-887-9981

Well, this is the final weekend of the SEC football season, and hopefully we’ve given you some guidance for your next road trip or tailgater. Until next season, pass the Tums, Roll Tide and War Eagle!

House Divided


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The Fascinating Art Of Japan’s Plastic Food Tue, 24 Nov 2015 19:00:50 +0000 If you’re familiar with Japanese cuisine, chance are you’ve seen those food displays made of plastic that are set up outside restaurants and look like the real deal. Whether it’s pieces of glistening sushi or a phantom hand holding up some noodles with chopsticks, the tradition of sampuru is used as an advertisement for restaurants, to demonstrate portion sizes and as an aid for language barriers, according to CBS.

Real pieces of sushi or just plastic? (Photo: CBS.)
Forget “day-old” sushi. These pieces can last up to seven years. (Photo: CBS.)

CBS reports that these plastic foods started popping up in restaurant storefronts when Western dishes were introduced. While a lot of the products are pricey — $70 and up — they can last close to a decade in all weather conditions.

“Today I think it’s as useful as ever,” plastic-food artist Fumio Morino said.

The hand-crafted pieces are made of different plastics, such as polyvinyl chloride (more commonly known as PVC, the stuff used to make pipes and electrical cables) and urethane. So while these expertly prepared dishes may look good enough to eat, the only taste you’d be getting is plastic.

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Butchery Files: Breaking Down A Whole Lamb Tue, 24 Nov 2015 18:00:01 +0000 At first, seeing the whole, human-sized beast stripped clean of its fur, head, hooves and identity felt a little daunting. But as Peter Varkonyi, chef de cuisine at Beast + Bottle, laid the 90-pound lamb on the table, a new story began to unfold. In this nose-to-tail tale, a Denver restaurant uses every bit of the delicious creature to create unique dishes. And it’s not an isolated occasion — they do it every week.

“The whole-lamb method is the most beneficial to both the rancher and chef, both from a cost and responsibility standpoint,” says Paul C. Reilly, chef and co-owner of the restaurant. Plus, he adds, it gives you more versatility when coming up with dishes. “Every animal is basically a blank palette, and your knife work determines where your menu can go.”

With that in mind, Varkonyi and Reilly took us through the process, from receiving the whole animal from the local Ewe Bet Farm to breaking it down to the tantalizing treats that come out of the process. Some of the meat gets cured into salumi, other parts boil down to create a rich ragu, while the choice cuts are featured as main courses. The result is an ever-changing menu that looks not just at the chops and ribs but at the offal, cheeks and bones.

BB-Slide 1 by Linnea Covington

Varkonyi brings the lamb into the Uptown kitchen from the walk-in fridge out back. “The taste of the lamb reflects their diet, like how a lot of people talk about terroir with wine,” says Varkonyi. “I think with lamb it speaks even louder. It is the most flavorful protein out there.”

BB-Slide 2 by Linnea Covington

The first cut separates the legs. Later, the meat from the shanks will be used for many things, including brunch favorite corned lamb shank hash. Other treats: a terrine, and a pickled shank with turnips, potatoes, horseradish and crème fraîche.

BB-Slide 3 by Linnea Covington

Next, Varkonyi saws through the breast bone, which opens it up and makes it easier to get to the other sections of meat.

BB-Slide 5 by Linnea Covington

From there, Varkonyi saws through the spine in order to slice the lamb in two halves, which makes it easier to portion off succulent ribs and chops. “We like to make things our guests hunger for, but that we can be creative with,” says Varkonyi, who helps make four to six dishes using the animal each week. “Actually, the lamb goes quite quickly.”

BB-Slide 6 by Linnea Covington

A lot of work goes into this step, and Varkonyi uses a meat cleaver, mallet and bone saw to break through.

BB-Slide 7 by Linnea Covington

Now that the ribs are exposed, he cuts lamb racks. “We find the best marbling in the rack cuts,” says Varkonyi. Next, he cuts the T-bone, which the chef says is his favorite piece thanks to its flavor and tenderness. “The cut looks very petite and clean, like a pint-sized porterhouse.”

BB-Slide 8 by Linnea Covington

Using a paring knife, Varkonyi cleans the fat from the bone to “French” the rack of lamb, which makes for a beautiful presentation.

BB-Slide 9 by Linnea Covington

All the work takes about 90 minutes and produces 17 to 21 sections of lamb that are ready to work with.

BB-Slide 10 by Linnea Covington

One of the first things that’s made (and one of the last thing to be ready) is the house-crafted coppa and other salumi.

BB-Slide 11 by Linnea Covington

Once sliced, the coppa is ready to go — a lovely dish of melt-in-your-mouth, funky lamb that’s delicious on its own or served atop the restaurant’s breakfast pizza.

BB-Slide 12 by Linnea Covington

Lamb ragu is one of the featured dishes right now. It’s made with trim from various parts of the animal, shoulder meat, salt, chili flakes, anchovies and rosemary and is braised for more than four hours. The hearty sauce is tossed with house-made pappardelle and topped with fresh ricotta and Meyer lemon oil.

One of the feature dishes is the pan-roasted lamb T-bone. The steak gets sous-vide for three hours before finishing off in the oven. At Beast + Bottle they serve it with lamb sweet breads. "We like to feature the animal in as many variations as possible," says Varkonyi. "It gives the customers a one-dish tasting menu."

One of the feature dishes is the pan-roasted lamb T-bone. The steak is cooked sous vide for three hours before finishing off in a hot oven. At Beast + Bottle, it is served with lamb sweetbreads. “We like to feature the animal in as many variations as possible,” says Varkonyi. “It gives the customers a one-dish tasting menu.”

BB-Slide 14 by Linnea Covington

Take another look at this dish. While it looks like a simple lamb merguez on top of the lentils, the casing used to hold the flavorful sausage is squid. With that, the lamb has been used in many ways this week — six to be exact. Next week, some menu items may stay the same, but chances are guests will be delighted with new dishes.

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We Give Thanks For Carrageenan Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:30:01 +0000 Thanksgiving has been a tradition across America since the 1600s, and the celebrations for the holiday have remained largely the same since then. Most of us enjoy a hearty, sit-down meal with our close friends and family and give thanks for the year we’ve had. Golden roasted turkeys are a staple in most kitchens, complemented with delectable side dishes of gravy and mashed potatoes and desserts of fruit pies and sweet puddings. Pulling off a Thanksgiving meal is no easy task, but thanks to Mother Nature, there may be some ingredients in your meal that are lending a helping hand.

Ice creams, pumpkin pies, soups and gravies all provide us with more than a full stomach — they’ve become comfort on a spoon. These rich flavors and textures come to life through many small additions, possibly a sprinkle of cinnamon, a dash of salt or maybe an ingredient that you didn’t know was there. Carrageenan is naturally derived from red seaweed and, while it might sound new to you, has been used safely in our foods and drinks for hundreds of years.

Carrageenan is a hydrocolloid, meaning it provides our food products with just the right textures and gives holiday meals the signature indulgence we crave year round. You might find it in your soups and gravies, where carrageenan works with other ingredients to create a perfectly creamy and smooth texture. And as you scoop a bowl of ice cream or take your first bite of pumpkin pie, it could be carrageenan helping to deliver that perfectly velvety, not-too-dense bite. Or if you opt for low-fat versions of your favorite foods, like frozen yogurt, carrageenan helps to create an indulgent product, ensuring that the dessert retains its delectable full-fat feel without leaving you feeling guilty. But the best part about Thanksgiving is also the best part about carrageenan — the leftovers. Carrageenan actually helps some shelf-stable foods last longer without refrigeration, ensuring that you’re getting the most bang for your buck from your holiday grocery list.

This Thanksgiving, as you gather with friends and family and start preparing all the main dishes and sides that bring you comfort, remember to give thanks for the time-honored ingredients that make any celebratory feast both memorable and lasting.

Visit to learn more about carrageenan and other naturally derived food ingredients that make our food safe, healthier and more nutritious all year round.

Brought to you by our friends at Food Science Matters.

FMC_Food_Science_Matters_Horiz_4C (1)

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Last-Minute Thanksgiving Fixes For Every Possible Scenario Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:00:59 +0000 The task of cooking a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is intimidating to most. No matter how easy they’re making it look, a whole lot of work goes into this spectacular feast, which means there are many potential pitfalls to watch out for. Here are some scenarios with quick fixes, brought to you by all the holiday food enthusiasts here at Food Republic.

And a note on spatchcocking your turkey: Spatchcock your turkey, for crying out loud, as encouraged in our procrastinator’s guide to cooking Thanksgiving turkey! While it may seem an intimidating prospect to do something even a butcher recommends your butcher do for you, this is a task that can certainly be done at home with a surge of “fake it till you make it” confidence and a sharp, sturdy pair of poultry shears.

A spatchcocked turkey cooks faster, which means it stays juicier. (Photo: galant/Flickr). 

A note on those poultry shears: The set that came with your IKEA butcher block will literally not cut it. Poultry shears should be purchased individually for one purpose: shearing poultry. Here are our quality picks, from the basic “get it done right” to the mighty “hand these down to your favorite grandkid as an heirloom.”

Henckels International Poultry Shears, $19.95

OXO Good Grip Professional Poultry Shears, $32

Shun Kitchen Shears, $79.95

  1. Lay the bird on a sturdy surface breast-side up, score deeply along both sides of the spine using a very sharp knife, then go in through the cavity and cut along both sides of the spine where you made the cuts. This may take a little extra time and effort if you’re tackling a very large turkey.
  2. Pull out the spine to use for gravy (there’s a huge amount of flavor hidden in there!), and the bird should easily lie flat. If it’s not lying perfectly flat, give it a few good pushes down with the heels of your hands.
  3. Trim off the visible ribs and you’re ready to go.

Now get crackin’! Prep time starts now!

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Ham, Whiskey And “Pickled Everything”: Things We Devoured At Music To Your Mouth In South Carolina Tue, 24 Nov 2015 15:00:53 +0000 MTYM Carts
Strangers become friends in the bucolic lanes of Palmetto Bluff in between salon sessions. (Photos: Chris Chamberlain.)

What happens when you combine a passel of some of the South’s best chefs with fantastic musicians and plop them down in the middle of a luxury community in the Low Country of South Carolina, then stir in a (un)healthy helping of whiskey? Magic happens, that’s what. And it’s called Music to Your Mouth.

The ninth edition of the music/food festival was held at Palmetto Bluff, a stunning enclave of extravagant residences, vacation homes and a stately inn, located on the site of a 20,000-acre estate that is now managed as a protected land trust. Surrounded by ancient oak trees draped with Spanish moss that look like a Christo installation, residents and visitors alike are quite cognizant that they are in a truly special place.

But traditionally, the weekend before Thanksgiving had been one of the slowest times of the year, with part-time homeowners passing the holiday in their primary residences and potential inn guests preferring to stay closer to home with family. So the management of Palmetto Bluff decided to create a reason to visit the property during that off-season, and Music to Your Mouth was born.

Attendees can opt for a “Whole Hog” ticket package that allows entry to tastings, dinners, cookouts, educational sessions, an artisan crafts fair and musical performances throughout the weekend. This year’s event featured 28 chefs plus seven vintners and brewers bringing their wares and talents to the table. In a change from previous years’ formats, organizers set up a series of salons where small groups of patrons could enjoy a more intimate interaction with chefs and mixologists who presented short seminars in the kitchens of multimillion-dollar rental homes. Picture going to a cocktail party thrown by the richest person you know, except you feel extremely welcome instead of wondering if there was some sort of mistake with the invite list.

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Tiffanie Barriere, extreme badass

Bartender Tiffanie Barriere of One Flew South in the Atlanta Airport kicked off the salons with a stint of day drinking in a session titled “Masters Level Mixology.” Already known as the leader of a bar team voted one of the world’s best airport bars, Barriere mixed up a holiday cocktail featuring a shrub made from cranberries and cider vinegar and sent salon attendees home with a few samples to improve their own Thanksgiving meals.

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Satterfield demonstrating his knife skillz

Atlanta chefs Steven Satterfield of Miller Union and Asha Gomez from Spice to Table taught students new ways to cook and enjoy green vegetables, including a beautiful slaw made from watermelon radishes and apples.

Many salons tackled ingredient-based topics, like apples, cheese and oysters, while others focused on techniques, such as making pasta at home with Tennessee chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman of Hog and Hominy in Memphis and Nashville’s Philip Krajeck from Rolf and Daughters. But the most exclusive salon of the weekend was named “Ham I Am,” and head instructor Sean Brock congratulated the attendees for being “the most intelligent people at the festival for signing up.”

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A six pack of Willett plus a lagniappe

Brock baked up a mess of biscuits to accompany a tasting of rare bourbons from Willett Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky, paired with aged hams from Edwards Virginia Hams. Heralded ham honcho Sam Edwards brought some aged products from his stash that demonstrated how ham, like whiskey, changes over time.

Ham he am

Brock noted, “I’m incredibly proud of our tradition in the South. It takes a whole lot of patience to turn something as simple as ham and whiskey to create something beautiful and amazing.”

Willett master distiller Drew Kulsveen

Willett was represented by master distiller Drew Kulsveen, whom Brock introduced to his friend and pitmaster extraordinaire Rodney Scott as “the Rodney Scott of whiskey.” High praise indeed. Kulsveen offered heavy unmeasured pours of seven of his whiskeys, ranging from a two-year-old rye to an extremely rare and complex 22-year-old wheated whiskey whose origin is the stuff of legend. Since Willett has only recently started to distill again after being closed for three decades, this particular bourbon was purchased by Willett, but it was Kulsveen and his family who were smart enough to select and age the beautiful brown liquor until it was ready for a very limited release. Brock described it as some of the best bourbon he had ever tasted, and he claims to “eat ham and drink whiskey every day.”

Rockin’ the Dokken (and the Van Halen)

In addition to all the amazing food, the “music” part of the festival’s name was well represented with performances throughout the weekend. Just about every event had a stage set up somewhere nearby. Eagle-eyed attendees might have noticed that members of the same band that was playing pretty damn respectable covers of Van Halen at the “Rock the Dock” afternoon party were also the same folks offering a bluegrass version of TLC’s “Waterfalls” at the potluck dinner that evening. The chefs weren’t the only talents at the Bluff, for sure.

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Nature as imagined by Walt Disney

The highlight of Music to Your Mouth every year is Saturday night, with a barbecue party and a big concert featuring a mystery musical act. The “Open Fire” event was held on a small peninsula in the middle of the community’s picturesque lagoon in an area dominated by a treehouse built into a huge oak festooned with beautiful Spanish moss lit up from below. Surrounded by bars and barbecue pits, the effect was as if the fictional shipwrecked clan Swiss Family Robinson had won the lottery and invited 500 people over for a cookout.

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Token vegetables at the meat fest

The spread was courtesy of a cadre of smokemasters and included whole hog from the aforementioned Rodney Scott, chicken from Drew Robinson of Jim ‘n’ Nick’s, beef short ribs by John Lewis of the still under-construction Lewis Barbecue in Charleston and lamb from Border Springs Farm’s Craig Rogers.

Porky has a splitting headache.

After sating themselves on wine, beer and smoked meats, Music to Your Mouth attendees were handed small bags containing dessert to go and escorted across the street to another open field for the big surprise musical act. This year’s featured performer was Charles Kelley of the multiplatinum-selling country group Lady Antebellum. While the band is currently on hiatus, Kelley has decided to put together another smokin’ group of musicians and take a road trip performing in support of his new solo album.

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Charles Kelley (right) stepping into the solo spotlight

The assembled crowd was quite taken with the personable and impossibly good-looking Kelley as he ran through a repertoire of Lady A hits, rockin’ cover songs and cuts off his own new album. While the Music to Your Mouth show was only the second public performance by the band (and the ensemble did play its way through a few minor train wrecks), the audience sang along in full voice, swaying to the music, clad in plaid shirts and hunting vests looking like any regular old country music crowd. Except that those plaid shirts were likely from Billy Reid and the cheapest vests probably came from Orvis.

Kelley was on to the affluence of his audience. “Y’all can’t fool me,” he joked from the stage. “You can’t hide rich. We rode bikes around this place, and I didn’t see a branch askew!” But that’s exactly the point at Music to Your Mouth. Once you buy your ticket and make it inside the gates of the exclusive Palmetto Bluff community, all pretentiousness dissipates. Every attendee can enjoy the same attitude of casual perfection, whether you own one of those opulent estate homes or you’re just a visiting fan of great Southern food and music. Mark your calendar for the weekend before Turkey Day next year, and start saving your vacation money.

Inspiration posted beside the portajohn mirror
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