HELPING FAMILY FARMS FLOURISH. HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Short Rib Pot Pie adapted from Bon Appetit


         Who doesn’t love a great pot pie?  Meat and vegetables and gravy under a blanket of pastry, these pies are American Classics.  But they go back in culinary history considerably longer. In the Roman Empire, the pastry was banquet fare.  Sometimes the crust revealed live birds, which must have been quite a shock to unsuspecting guests.   In 16th century England meat pies became all the rage.  The English ate meat pies of all sorts – pork, lamb, game and they were especially fond of using venison. And, like the Romans, English cooks loved their birds.  In Elizabethan time, pot pies were made using ‘chicken peepers’: tiny chicks were stuffed with gooseberries.  And then of course there’s the nursery rhyme:

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pistachio and White Chocolate Cheesecake from "Baked Occasions" by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito


       
Solomon and The Queen of Sheba
as painted by Piero della Francesca
Nobody seems to know why, but February 26th is World Pistachio Day.  The day even has its own website: www.worldpistachioday.com
And, as the site points out, it’s hard to believe that until 1976 pistachios weren't even grown in this country.  The nut had been imported since the 1800s. It was slow-growing in popularity until a man named James W. Parkinson of Philadelphia invented Pistachio Ice Cream at which point Pistachios took off.  Now, California alone produces 300 million pounds of Pistachios annually.  The pistachio itself is an ancient nut, one of only two nuts referenced in the bible.  The second?  The almond.   The Queen of Sheba was said to be so mad for pistachios that she ordered that her country’s entire crop be set aside just for her.   Was it greed or just good sense?  Pistachios are highly nutritious and have a very long storage life. That makes them a perfect food for travellers like the Queen who ventured from her home in what is now Yemen to Jerusalem to meet King Solomon. From the Middle East, they were introduced to Rome in the 1st Century AD.  Their popularity truly is worldwide.  China consumes almost twice as many pistachios as are eaten in the US.  But we’re hardly pikers: 45,000 tons of pistachios were eaten here last year.  So let’s celebrate this remarkable nut, whose trees can bear fruit for up to 200 years.  Let’s bake a rich, decadent cheesecake studded with pistachios over a chocolate graham crust to celebrate World Pistachio Day.