Below is a transcript of a live online panel discussion on cooking and fall foods, which took place on Tuesday, November 12. The chat included several panel members, with cooks, chefs, food writers, and restaurant folks participating. The hour-long chat included talks with the panel about fall foods, cooking, recipes, Thanksgiving dishes, and more. [Note: The original discussion can be replayed at the following link: http://www.hiddenboston.com/online-discussion-1113.html and please go to the restaurant discussions link to check out our other chats.]
Marc H. (hiddenboston): Hey, everybody! Welcome to today's chat, which will be a little different from the usual restaurant-based discussions we tend to have. This one is mainly on cooking, recipes, etc., with the emphasis on fall foods. We did have a cooking chat last December (with at least one or two of you here being on that one) and I also had a fun cooking discussion with Jeffrey Saad of the Cooking Channel and Food Network awhile back. Before we start, how about some introductions? I'm Marc, the founder and owner of Boston's Hidden Restaurants along with the news-based blog Boston Restaurant Talk. http://www.bostonrestaurants.blogspot.com (I'm also an occasional writer for Boston Magazine.)
Cindy: Hi Marc, This is Cindy Anschutz from Cindy's Table. I share Italian and Paleo Recipes along with Entertaining tips and More. www.CindysTable.com
Marc H.: Hi, Cindy! Welcome!
Anne: Anne from The Saturday Evening Pot - (http://www.thesaturdayeveningpot.com:)
Marc H.: Hi, Anne!
Drew: I'm Drew Starr. I'm a contributing editor at Eater boston, but also a home cook. Thanksgiving is my high holy day.
Marc H.: Hey, Drew!
Paul sussman: Hi, Paul Sussman from Back Deck here
Marc H.: Hi, Paul! Thanks for joining the group!
Leah Klein (@bffoodie): Just in the peanut gallery today. Leah from Leah's Life: Pearls and Oysters.
Marc H.: Hello, Leah! Welcome back to the chats!
Marc H.: I expect at least a couple more folks, though we can probably get started. Anyone eat anything good today, by the way?
Drew: I went to Mei Mei's brick and mortar location. It is pretty stunning what they've done with the place. Kind of already in love.
Marc H.: Oooh, I do want to get there.
Cindy: I have a date crusted pumpkin pie in the oven. Just got home from California in a red eye flight
Marc H.: That must smell great. I have 10 cans of pumpkin waiting at home--need to know what to make with them over the coming days.
Anne: Just "normal stuff" for me today home with my kids. :)
Leah Klein (@bffoodie): Brussel sprouts at home on my eggs. Good stuff from my Farmers To You order.
Marc H.: That sounds rather good as well. :-)
Steve: Also in the peanut gallery Steve from Hub Food Trucks. Good peanuts today, need beer
Marc H.: Hi, Steve! Welcome back!
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Hello from 1840 Farm in Southern New Hampshire! Sorry I'm a few minutes late. I making bread and lost track of time.
Marc H.: Hello, Jennifer! What kind of bread?
Leah Klein (@bffoodie): Great day for making bread.
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Whole wheat with honey and yogurt. I could lose a whole day happily milling flour and making bread!
Steve: Thanks and I enjoyed szechuan braised chicken over soba noodles from Bon Me today
Jonathan Fenelon: Hi, Jonathan formerly of ribelle and Strip T's
Marc H.: Hi, Jonathan! Thanks for joining us.
Marc H.: So this is more of a private chat than some of the restaurant-based ones, though there may be a few guests occasionally asking questions, posting comments, and so on. Once we're done, a transcript of the discussion will be posted on various social media sites for everyone to see.
Marc H.: As far as the chat itself, we'll focus on favorite fall foods (including Thanksgiving items), with the discussion looking at recipes, equipment used, cooking techniques, and more.
Marc H.: How about starting out by talking about what kinds of seasonal dishes you're cooking these days?
Marc H.: I'll start by saying that it's all pumpkin (and sage) all the time for me right now.
Anne: I love soups this time of year!
Marc H.: Yes. Especially today. It's freezing here in Boston.
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Hmm. We're enjoying fresh sunchokes and sweet potatoes grown here in our garden. Add in pumpkin, sage, and mushrooms and that's what's on the dinner table almost every night right now.
Marc H.: Do you use the sunchokes for soup?
Anne: What are sunchokes? Never heard of them!
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Sometimes. We love them roasted with potatoes.
Leah Klein (@bffoodie): We just tested out frying the turkey. So full on stuffing and cranberry sauce here too.
Marc H.: Deep-frying? Are you using the Alton Brown method? :-)
Drew: all gourds but pumpkin for me. I save pumpkin beer for halloween itself (and even then usually just the funky ones), and pumpkin for thanksgiving pie. But splitting and roasting a small squash of any kind for dinner is pretty common for me right now.
Marc H.: What types of squash, Drew? A bunch of different ones?
Leah Klein (@bffoodie): I am not sure. I let this be my husband's shtick full on fryer and hours in the driveway with a two-four
Drew: whatever shows up in the CSA. Delicata, acorn and spaghetti are always favorites. Butternut I almost always turn into soup.
Paul sussman: Brussels sprouts - I've been halving them and pan frying them in a bit go olive oil until they're nicely browned but still crunchy
Marc H.: That's how I love them, Paul. Brussels sprouts have become perhaps my favorite veggie.
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Sunchokes are often called Jerusalem Artichokes. They're a tuber that looks like a small, knobby potato and takes on a very sweet flavor when cooked.
Jonathan Fenelon: Birds and Burgundy for me. Duck and Cote du Nuit, specifically.
Marc H.: Duck is so underrated. I've really started to eat more and more of it.
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Oh how I do love fire roasted Brussels. In fact, one of my favorite local spots has a divine grilled cheese with them on it. I'm drooling just thinking about it!
Marc H.: Jennifer, you know you have to tell us where. I'm willing to drive!
Drew: tip for butternut squash soup is to include the seeds and pulp until it's time to strain it. TON of flavor there, and people throw them out. Saute them in butter or oil before building the rest of the soup.
Marc H.: Yes, much like bay leaves, okra, bones, etc.
Leah Klein (@bffoodie): Jody Adams has a recipe with brussel sprouts like that and add a little Parmesan pine nuts and lemon zest.
Cindy: I made a carrot, ginger and apple soup today! yummy
Marc H.: Armsby Abbey in Worcester, MA has a killer version of carrot and ginger soup. I can only imagine what apple would add to that.
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: When Pigs Fly in Kittery, Maine. They have a side dish of fire roasted Brussels made in their wood fired oven and topped with a lovely aoli. The same Brussels are on a grilled cheese with a few slices of bacon. It is out of this world.
Marc H.: I'll be at that restaurant in a few weeks, actually. Tough to break away from their pizza, though.
Drew: Brussels sprouts, like other cultivars of brassica (my favorite species of vegetable because of how many different ways its been mutated. Broccoli, cabbage, kale, all the same plant) often get a bad rap because a generation of cooks steamed them. For many of them, high head is the best
Paul sussman: Ill ad a touch of garlic at the end then finish with vinegar - I have a nice vermouth vinegar I've been using
Leah Klein (@bffoodie): Ready to drive to Kittery now for that!
Marc H.: Yes. When Pigs Fly is one of my favorite restaurants in New England these days.
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Break away. Trust me. I agree that the pizza is fantastic, but they're really added to the menu lately. There are a trio of risotto dishes and the last time I was there, the more interesting meats had returned. Coppa was back!
Marc H.: And they still make the coppa in the basement, I think.
Drew: Mei Mei does an intense carrot soup they call 24K soup. I keep meaning to ask for the recipe. I have roughly 11,000 pounds of CSA carrots to use +/-
Leah Klein (@bffoodie): mmm vermouth vinegar. Where does one find that?
Marc H.: Yes, I'd like to know as well. I assume Whole Foods doesn't have it?
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Love the thought of 11,000 pounds of carrots. They're also delicious in a twist on macaroni and cheese if you haven't tried it. Really velvety and smooth. So much lighter and with a wonderful earthy sweetness.
Paul sussman: Yes, I got it at whole foods
Marc H.: Oh nice...
Anne: Who is Jody Adams and how can I get that recipe? Sounds similar to a different Brussel sprouts recipe I LOVE from Martha Stewart.
Marc H.: Jody Adams is a restaurant owner and chef here in the Boston area. And this is a good excuse to move into our next section, which is recipes. Do any of you have any favorite recipes that you'd like to share?
Drew: for fall in general or can we talk thanksgiving yet?
Marc H.: Hmmm, let's hold off on Thanksgiving for a few.
Leah Klein (@bffoodie): From Rialto. I got a little recipe pack at a fall event there. Might be on her and her husband's blog Garum Factory.
Drew: vermouth vinegar sounds potentially great. It also sounds like what is lurking in every grandfather's liquor cabinet in the country who doesn't know it goes bad once opened.
Marc H.: Ha ha ha.
Drew: how do you use the carrots ic mac & cheese? As an addition?
Marc H.: I've done that, Drew. I've used a peeler to add thin strips of carrot to the mac and cheese.
Anne: Thanks! I have one for Thanksgiving.
Anne: OK :)
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: I mentioned that we grow our own sweet potatoes. We love to make homemade sweet potato gnocchi with mushrooms and spinach.
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Link to the sweet potato gnocchi with mushrooms and spinach: http://1840farm.com/2013/02/sweet-potato-gnocchi-with-mushrooms-and-spinach/
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: I actually cook the carrots and use them as the base for the modified Bechamel sauce. http://1840farm.com/2010/09/carrotoni-and-cheese-please/
Marc H.: I actually need to cook for some folks later this week and I can cook anything I want. This mac and cheese has jumped to the top of the short list. :-)
Paul sussman: I used to put smoked tomato and grilled fennel in my Mac & cheese
Anne: One of our favorite soup recipes: Italian Sausage, White Bean and Kale Soup, also super popular with our readers - http://thesaturdayeveningpot.com/2011/02/slow-cooker-italian-sausage-white-bean.html
Marc H.: Always a great combination. Kale soup is big in this area, especially on the South Coast with the high Portuguese population.
Leah Klein (@bffoodie): I have my whole Thanksgiving feast with recipe links and all on an old post here:
Leah Klein (@bffoodie): Here's the link: http://leahslife.com/2013/11/12/thanksgiving-cook-it/
Marc H.: Thanks, Leah!
Anne: Can you describe the difference in taste between homegrown sweet potatoes and store bought? Never had them "fresh"!
Anne: Kale seems to be big everywhere right now!
Leah Klein (@bffoodie): Although this year of course our turkey will be different a la deep fryer.
Leah Klein (@bffoodie): Kale must have good pr this year.
Marc H.: Where do you all shop for food? Any favorite markets, stores, farmers markets, etc.?
Marc H.: I tend to stick with Whole Foods, though I'll go to smaller independent spots whenever I can (Formaggio in Cambridge, etc.).
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Fresh sweet potatoes are a little more earthy and their texture is less stringy. Much like a homegrown tomato, they're almost like a different vegetable than the store bought version.
Anne: I wish we did farmers markets but we usually shop at Publix, lol ... need some GF types foods and they have a lot of that kind of stuff we need.
Drew: I've become a total hipster about shopping. I try to buy most of my fish at New Deal. Most of my raw meat at MF Dulock, my cheeses and charcuterie at Formaggio and Central Bottle, vegetables from Siena. But I definitely get a lot of stuff at Whole Foods
Leah Klein (@bffoodie): CSA, Farmers To You which comes direct from vt farmers, and a few local farms... fill in the rest from Market Basket. Duck fat from Savenor's or Formaggio
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: We don't have a Whole Foods nearby, but I shop at Farmer
Anne: Interesting ... would love to try them.
Anne: Would love to try some of the programs where you have seasonal foods delivered though.
Marc H.: I love stocking up on foods when I'm in Vermont. Some of their farmers markets are unbelievable.
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Farmer's Market, Durham Marketplace, Nature's Way in Berwick, Maine, and we made a field trip to Portland, Maine yesterday to hit our favorites there.
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Vermont is an incredible place to procure food. So many small producers that the options are almost overwhelming.
Paul sussman: New Deal is an incredible fish market. And it's always fun chatting with Carl, the owner
Leah Klein (@bffoodie): I have been really impressed with Farmers To You. Eggs, meat, grain, and all. Including cream line milk (total indulgence)
Marc H.: Do any of you have winter farmers markets where you are? I go to one in the Codman Square section of Dorchester--it's small but there's some good stuff.
Marc H.: There's also one in Winchester that I've gone to a couple of times.
Jonathan Fenelon: Lucky to have decent Winter Farmers Markets in Brookline and Newton by me. Forces the creativity with root veg. Pickling and jamming up a storm.
Marc H.: Yes. How many of you do any canning? I was going to can tomato sauce this year but went through it so fast that I didn't need to. :-b
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Yes, we have a few that move indoors during the winter. They're a little less frequent, but still offer a nice array of seasonal foods.
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: I do from savory tomato jams and caramelized onion jams to sweet berry jams and sauces.
Leah Klein (@bffoodie): Got to run! It 's been fun and tasty. The herd is getting restless... off to feed them a snack.
Marc H.: Thanks for coming, Leah! Talk to you soon.
Drew: This was our first (and likely only, until we have kids) year with a CSA, and we had way too much food, so lots of canning happened. Apple sauce and tomatoes for months.
Anne: My husband wants to learn to can. Trying to find the time to learn anything new on top of everything else with young kids proves challenging!
Marc H.: Ha ha, yup, not enough hours in the day as they say.
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: We had a lot of apples this year as well. Good thing that I love to make bourbon applesauce!
Marc H.: RECIPE PLEASE. :-)
Anne: I LOVE homemade applesauce though. Chunky with cinnamon.
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Brown Butter Bourbon Applesauce http://1840farm.com/2013/09/brown-butter-bourbon-applesauce/
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Don't let canning intimidate you. If you can boil water, you can do it.
Drew: great primer on canning here. easy to follow directions, and it will work the first time you do it. it can be time consuming to prep all that product, but it's relatively easy http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/02/how-to-can-canning-pickling-preserving-ball-jars-materials-siphoning-recipes.html
Marc H.: How about moving on to Thanksgiving? (Not literally.) Any favorite items you like to make for the day, and how do you cook your turkey, if you do?
Marc H.: I usually make cookies--maple cookies, cinnamon cookies, ginger cookies, etc.
Marc H.: And pasta dishes on the side.
Jonathan Fenelon: Confit in duck fat! Roast brussels in duck fat with crispy skin....duck fat everything
Marc H.: "Duck fat everything." Always has such a nice ring to it.
Anne: We LOVE the turkey deep fried but it gets to be expensive buying the oil for it and then if you don't have a need to use it again especially.
Marc H.: The oil can definitely be reused, though, can't it? Can a cheap oil be used?
Anne: I don't think it's that it's intimidating ... just everything has a learning curve and so little "free" time! :)
Drew: spatchcock spatchcock spatchcock
Paul sussman: As long as I'm not cooking too big a bird, I like to slow grill it
Marc H.: How long does that usually take, Paul?
Anne: It can be reused, we just never seem to reuse it. Not sure about cheap oil ... will have to look into that though.
Anne: I NEVER have been a big stuffing fan but my husband makes one with apples, sausage and walnuts that I LOVE.
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Dressing with artichokes and sage, mashed potatoes with turnips, creamed spinach. I could go on and on. I'm a veg girl, so I have always loved the sides more than the turkey. I also love any excuse to make multiple pies. We'll have pumpkin and a nut free "pecan" due to food allergies.
Paul sussman: If spatchcocked, as Drew suggested, a 12 pound bird takes about 3 hours
Marc H.: That's not too bad!
Paul sussman: Brined as well, of course
Marc H.: Do any of you do ham for Thanksgiving? Or lasagna? That's a big one with my Italian friends on Thanksgiving.
Drew: my absolutely favorite thanksgiving recipe is this one for modernist gravy. Turkey drippings, turkey fat, and two natural emulsifiers to bring it all together. Last year's bird gave up its juice/fat in the proper ratio to have no waste of either. The turkey WANTED to be this gravy http://modernistcuisine.com/recipes/simplified-jus-gras/
Drew: we buy a kosher bird every year in our family. It's already heavily salted, so they should never be brined.
Paul sussman: Calvin Trillin has always maintained that spaghetti carbonara should be the traditional Thanksgiving meal
Marc H.: That kind of makes sense, since it's a good cold-weather dish. I had it everywhere on the west coast of Ireland for a couple of weeks and it did warm me up.
Marc H.: All right, we're starting to run out of time, so how about one more main topic then a quick one if possible? The topic deals with kitchen techniques and tips/tricks for cooking, with an emphasis on fall foods.
Marc H.: For instance, something as simple as cutting up a pumpkin or squash.
Marc H.: Well, maybe that's not so simple for everyone. :-)
Paul sussman: Don't stop using your grill just because it's cold out
Marc H.: Yes. I use mine until it gets really snowy.
Marc H.: One thing I'm curious about is using the slow cooker this time of year as opposed to a pressure cooker. Any thoughts?
Anne: Yeah, not simple for me. My hubby is the one for that type of discussion. ;)
Marc H.: I use my pressure cooker a lot when it's hot out but now seem to be more into the slow cooker.
Anne: We definitely use our slow cooker a lot.
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: I mentioned that i was making bread this afternoon. We live in a circa 1840 farmhouse that is drafty, so breadmaking during the fall and winter is a real challenge. If it weren't for my bread proofer, it would be nearly impossible to turn out delicious loaves on a cold breezy day like today.
Marc H.: For those who might not know, could you give more details on the bread proofer?
Steve: The first place I shovel out after a snow is my grill. And I use the slow cooker a lot now
Drew: my pressure cooker gets way more user than the slow cooker all year round for me. Though I do bring the slow cooker out now mostly for keeping things warm. Football food. Egg Nog. Grogs
Marc H.: It's mostly slow cooker and Dutch oven for me this time of year.
Marc H.: So we have about five minutes to go--how about touching upon restaurants for the final few minutes?
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Sure. Mine is a foldable proofer, so it can be stored flat and then expanded when needed. It holds a 9x13 pan or multiple loaves of bread and maintains a constant temperature and humidity level. Right now, my loaves are in a lovely 80 degree, humid proofer and they're looking fantastic. Instead of taking hours for my bread to rise, I can have loaves ready to bake in about an hour. The bread also has a fabulous even texture. It is one of my most prized pieces of kitchen equipment. I don't know how I baked bread without it!
Drew: I couldn't make soup without my pressure cooker. It's the only way I make stock.
Drew: I want said proofer. If you can get Marc the brand/model, I'd appreciate that, Jennifer!
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Our local restaurants are really doing a fabulous job of highlighting seasonal produce. It's Restaurant Week here and the menus at a few of our favorite spots look amazing.
Marc H.: Just to wrap it up (and get away from cooking talk for a bit), I sometimes ask this final question on chats, and am always interested in the answers (including those of you from outside of the Boston area). If you could go to any restaurant right now, which one would it be?
Marc H.: Jennifer, will your pick and my pick be the same? :-D
Anne: Mustard Seed in Charleston, SC ... my most favorite.
Marc H.: I went to some great restaurants in Charleston, but it was so long ago...
Drew: Bondir (and I am tonight)
Paul sussman: Fore Street in Portland
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Drew. I'm happy to provide it to Marc or to you directly. If it's easier for you, you can visit my Facebook page and send me a message www.facebook.com/1840Farm
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Well, I was just going to type When Pigs Fly. I think if we hurry, we can make it there for happy hour. I'll even buy you a beer!
Marc H.: Yes! Sounds good to me. :-) I'll go different (just to be different!) and pick The People's Pint in Greenfield, MA.
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Ah, Fore Street is tough to beat. Delicious and such a warm place to spend a cold evening.
Steve: Well if it's a traveling mode, Charlie Vergos in Memphis
Anne: Mustard Seed is on the James Island side ... sort of "off the beaten path" of downtown where most tourists gravitate. :)
Marc H.: Good to know in case I get back there soon, Anne!
Marc H.: All right, it is 4:00 and time to go. Thanks so much for participating. Have a great evening, everyone!
Drew: thanks all
Anne: You, too. Thanks, Marc. :)
Jennifer from 1840 Farm: Thanks! It's a good thing that we're close to dinner. After all this food talk, I'm hungry!
Marc H.: Me too.
Paul sussman: Thanks, bye