Senate Passes Child Nutrition Bill, Cuts Funding For Food Stamps

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by Paula Crossfield

In a surprise move last week before heading out for five weeks of recess, the Senate passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act with unanimous consent, which means all 100 senators agreed to pass the bill without an individual vote. The bill allots an additional $4.5 billion dollars over ten years to fund federal child nutrition programs including school lunch.

First Lady Michelle Obama supported the bill as part of her Let’s Move campaign to fight childhood obesity, writing in an op-ed in The Washington Post last week,”This groundbreaking legislation will bring fundamental change to schools and improve the food options available to our children.”

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Posted in Food Politics

Sunday Supper: Gazpacho

For another steamy Sunday, here’s one of the best cold dishes in the world (and it’s barely any work to make). Adapted from How To Cook Everything.
 
Gazpacho, Fast and Simple
 
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 20 minutes
 
No one can definitively say what “gazpacho” is—you see it with grapes, with almonds, even with melon— and you can indeed make delicious gazpacho with all those things. This basic recipe is what you probably expect when you hear the word gazpacho, but with this formula you can replace the tomatoes and cucumber with fruits of similar texture and change the soup in infinite ways.
 
2 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped, or one
28-ounce can (include the juices)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded if you like, and chopped
2 or 3 slices bread, a day or two old, crusts removed, torn into small pieces
1 /4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar, or more to taste
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
 
1. Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, bread, oil, vinegar, and garlic with 1 cup water in a blender; process until smooth. If the gazpacho seems too thick, thin with additional water.
 
2. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately (or refrigerate and serve within a couple of hours), garnished with a drizzle of olive oil.

Posted in Recipes

Shiso Fine

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by Kerri Conan 

There are a lot of things we could do with the purple shiso in our herb garden. My husband Sean and I have tried several: like marinate the leaves whole in a sesame-soy concoction, shred a few into salads and stir-fries, and scrunch several into a jar of carrot pickles. Other ideas we have yet to explore: shiso pesto, tempura, or tea. 

But we usually enjoy these sturdy leaves plain, to transport food from plate to mouth, as if you were eating with castanets. (Is this how shiso is often used in Japan? I’ve never been, but whenever the leaves are used to garnish my sushi, it never goes to waste.) 

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Posted in Farming, Produce

Technical Difficulties

As you may know, markbittman.com was down for the last day or so due to some technical difficulties beyond our control. We’re so sorry for the inconvenience!

Posted in Behind The Scenes

Some Answers

Readers’ comments to my “waiter there’s plastic in my soup” piece, were varied and interesting. (I wonder if most people are quite as bold and polite as they say they are. After the fact, everything is easy.) 

My feelings remain mixed. But a) I did tell the server immediately, and I didn’t think it was my responsibility to then go tell the manager; b) I was the guest of someone else, who didn’t care about the charge, so arguing about that seemed far more trouble than it was worth (and anyway, the right thing for the restaurant to do was to comp the meal, for anyone); c) no, I won’t go there again; and d) yes, I’ve told my friends the name of the place.  

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Posted in Behind The Scenes

Ravioli Del Plin

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by Edward Schneider

Could filled pasta be the best thing in the world? No: there’s music that has it beat, and some would argue that Leonardo’s Ginevra de’Benci is better than pierogi. But come dinnertime, I’ll take cappelletti over Mozart almost any day. 

Jackie and I always yearn for filled pasta, and we sometimes take the time to make it ourselves. A little while ago, during our dill craze, we made some big ol’ tortelloni with this filling: a leek and a bunch of Swiss chard thoroughly cooked in olive oil, squeezed dry and finely chopped; a cup of fluffy, dry ricotta from Tonjes at the Union Square Greenmarket; a great deal of chopped dill; grated long-aged parmesan; one egg yolk; and salt and pepper. There was filling left over, and we froze it in a disposable plastic piping bag so that it would be ready for use. 

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Posted in Italian

Politics of the Plate

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by Barry Estabrook

Jim Crow is Alive and Well in California

SB 1121 was hardly a radical-sounding piece of legislation. Among other things, it would have given California’s 700,000 farm workers the right to take one day off out of every seven. Hourly paid agricultural employees would have received overtime pay after eight hours per day or 40 hours per week.

But when the bill landed on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk, he vetoed it, saying that the new provisions would put farmers out of business.

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Posted in Food Politics

A Comfy Bed For Lobsters

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by Daniel Meyer

[Why didn’t I think of this? – mb] 

If you can get fresh lobsters, chances are that you can also get fresh seaweed. A nice fishmonger should be able to order some for you, or an enterprising mother can just wade into the ocean and bring it home in a bucket. This is exactly the project that my mom decided take on for the 4th of July (I’m only writing about this now because I just had some pretty tasteless lobster and it reminded me how good my mom’s was). 

I got a phone call from my mom (Anne) at 8:00 on a Friday morning while I was working at the farmers’ market. She was calling from the Atlantic Ocean, wading just off the coast of Cape Cod, where she was gathering seaweed for cooking lobsters. She brought it home in a plastic trashcan, and kept it soaking in water for a few days until it was time for her to cook 4th of July dinner. 

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Posted in Seafood

Some Questions for You

At a midtown restaurant last week, I ordered corn soup.  

It was pretty good, except for the pieces of plastic in it. These had the texture of drinking straws, or perhaps shattered plastic fork, or even squid quills – thin, not too sharp, not especially dangerous. They wouldn’t have broken a tooth, but they wouldn’t have been pleasant to swallow; they certainly were not pleasant to find in my mouth. There were two of them. In about four, maybe five ounces of soup. Which means there were probably quite a few of them in the pot.  

I handed them to the server: “You might want to show these to the chef,” I said. “They were in the soup.” She barely flinched, then proceeded to ignore us for the rest of the meal. (Quite literally: A runner brought our second courses, and she only asked if we wanted coffee after I’d asked for the check.)  

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Posted in Behind The Scenes