Archive for March, 2012

“Our Bodies, Ourselves”

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Our March 20 post highlighting the wonders of edible spoons triggered memories of a Jules-catered¬†cocktail party for 100 guests from 12 countries last October. Jules, as a¬†longtime supporter of¬†Our Bodies, Ourselves¬†(originally called the Boston Women‚Äôs Health Book Collective), offered edible spoons–along with a host of other passed¬†hors d’ouevres and buffet¬†treats–in honor of the 40th anniversary and ninth U.S. edition of the landmark book¬†about women‚Äôs health, reproduction, and sexuality,¬†Our Bodies, Ourselves.

A longtime supporter of Our Bodies, Ourselves, Jules donated the 4oth anniversary cocktail party

In her remarks following the musical interlude, OBOS Executive Director Judy Norsigian expressed appreciation: “You should all know that Jules Catering donated the food and¬†the drinks…and their staff is wonderful. I want to thank Anita Baglaneas for her longstanding support and also note that before the party, Anita and I discussed the possibility of updating the long-out-of-print Greek edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves.

The music provided by Ali Amr and Shaheen Lavie-Rouse was as world-class as the food

Qanun player Ali Amr and cellist Shaheen Lavie-Rouse¬†weren’t the only ones to deliver virtuosic performances. Feast your eyes on a small sample¬†of delectables Anita included in her international menu:

Fruit and Cheese Displays 

Spanish and Italian fruit and cheese were as artfully presented as they were delicious. Marveling over these displays, we hesitated to disturb them. Was the Jules team inspired by still-life paintings by Old Masters? Velasquez and Carravagio come to mind.

Italian Fruit and Cheese

Burrata, Parmesan Chunks, Bell Paese, Gorgonzola
Honeycomb
Hazelnuts
Fresh Figs
Assorted Crackers & Crostini

Jules catering food display crackers and tongs

Spanish Fruit and Cheese

Monchego, Idiazabal, Gorotzka, Semi-Hard Goat Cheese
Marcona Almonds
Quince Paste
French Bread, Breadsticks, Crackers

Spanish fruit and cheese display

Fresh figs in fruit and cheese display

The conversation is in full-swing‚Ķyou’ve got a glass in one hand‚Ķyou’re sorely tempted to pluck up an hors d‚Äôoeuvre with the other, but‚Ķ¬†how will you juggle it all?

Jules makes it easy:

Passed Hors d’Oeuvres

Thai Chicken and Lime Salad in a Wonton Cone
Felefel Pizza with Cucumber, Mint and Yogurt Sauce
Grilled Tenderloin Crostini with Roasted Onion Jam
Coconut Shrimp on Curry Coconut Edible Spoons with Pineapple Salsa

Edible spoons

When it’s time for dessert, Jules’ offerings are so tidily ‘packaged’¬†you barely need a napkin.

Passed Desserts

Greek Yogurt, Honey, and Walnuts on Asian Spoons
Chocolate Mousse Cones

Chocolate mousse cones

And, if you’re calorie-conscious, rest assured that each dessert cone is sufficiently small to qualify as a “Mini-Mousse!”

Photo Credits: Liz Muir
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Spoon fed

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Edward Lear

Runcible spoons…edible spoons. The first is pure nonsense, the second¬†pure genius!

First, the ¬†nonsense:¬†From the age of 16, Victorian poet-artist-illustrator Edward Lear¬†(the¬†21st child of 22 children!) was drawing “for his bread and cheese.” A few years later his Audubon-caliber ornithological drawings were published and, for a while, he found himself giving drawing lessons to Queen Victoria. Over the course of Lear’s life his landscape paintings were highly regarded, and he remained a serious painter until his death at age 75. But in his own lifetime–and still today–Lear is most known and best remembered for his literary nonsense.¬†The final stanza of his most famous work, “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat,” appears below:

The Owl and the Pussy Cat

A page from the 1959 Golden Treasury of Poetry illustrated by Joan Walsh Anglund

Runcible spoons

Although the word¬†‚Äúruncible‚ÄĚ appears in many dictionaries and warrants a Wikipedia entry all its own, no such spoon exists outside the nonsense realm of Edward Lear. Puzzlingly, the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines runcible spoon¬†as “a sharp-edged fork with three broad curved prongs,” but it’s clear from Lear’s own illustration from a different bit of nonsense that his runcible spoon is more ladle than fork:

Lear's illustration of Dolomphious Duck with Runcible Spoon

The Dolomphious Duck,
who caught Spotted Frogs for her dinner
with a Runcible Spoon.

Examining the visual evidence, we’re struck by the fact that Lear’s fantastical spoon looks more like one of Jules’ “fantactual”¬†edible spoons than it does a pronged fork, although (at least up to now) Jules has had no special orders for edible spoons filled with ready-to-leap frogs, spotted or otherwise.

Edible spoons

Edible spoons are enormously popular with Jules’ clients and staff. Event Sales Manager¬†Elissa Kupelnick says, “From a service standpoint, we love being able to offer these to clients because they’re so convenient, not just for us but for them. Whereas the typical plastic or porcelain spoon has to be collected soon after whatever filled them has been eaten, edible spoons just disappear! Party guests love them because they’re a tasty novelty. Also,¬†not having to hold onto an emptied porcelain or plastic spoon–even for a minute–is one less thing for guests to have to juggle.”

Invented in 2003 by Jack Milan of Boston-based edibles by jack, spoons may be either savory or sweet and used to ‘deliver’ both hors d’oeuvres and desserts.¬†And when it comes to spoon-fillings, the sky is the limit!

Some popular filling-and-spoon combinations for¬†hors d’oeuvres include:

  • Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Salsa in a Coconut Curry spoon
  • Crabmeat Salad with Saffron Aioli in a Corn and Lime spoon
  • Grilled Chicken Medallion with Mediterranean Salsa in a¬†Parmesan Basil spoon
  • Eggplant Caponata with Goat Cheese Crumbles in a¬†Parmesan Black Pepper spoon
  • Roasted Turkey with Stuffing and Butternut Squash Brulee in a Cranberry spoon
Below, Coconut Curry edible spoons stand ready to be filled, on the spot, at a Jules-catered cocktail party.

Coconut Curry edible spoons

Moments later, spoons now filled with Coconut Shrimp and Pineapple Salsa are ready to be served.

Jules' Elissa Kupelnick is all smiles as Sergio Rebeiro prepares to serve savory spoons

Sweet options include:

  • Lemon Curd and Raspberry Gelee in a Poppy Seed spoon
  • Mocha Mousse with Chocolate Shavings in a Chocolate spoon
  • Hazelnut Mousse with Chopped Hazelnuts in a Chocolate spoon

This Chocolate edible spoon by jack is filled with Jules' ever-popular hazelnut mousse

¬†Perhaps the moral of this little tale–or at least the takeaway message–is that thanks to¬†edibles by jack, you can have your spoon and eat it, too!
Photo Credits:
Wikimedia Commons: Edward Lear and Dolomphious Duck
Liz Muir: All other photos 
 
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“Generous cuts of succulent corned beef”

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

1873: Liebig Meat Co. produced tinned corned beef

Why ‘corned’ beef? For thousands of years people have cured and preserved beef ¬†by covering it with salt the size of kernels of corn, and the name corned beef refers back to a time when the word ‘corn; was applied to anything granular.

The Irish traded for salt as far back as the Middle Ages, writes Mark Kurlanksy¬†in Salt–A World History, and their salted beef was the “meticulously boned and salted forerunner of what today is known as Irish corned beef.” Prized by Europeans because it did not spoil, corned beef from Ireland was also adopted as a food provision by the British navy, which meant it traveled far!

In Ireland,¬†corned beef¬†was a dish originally associated with Easter Sunday–at least for those sufficiently affluent to procure any sort of beef at all. ¬†Killed before winter, the beef would have been salted and then savored after the Lenten fast.¬†Author-Chef¬†Darina Allen, founder of the¬†Ballymaloe Cookery School¬†in¬†Shanagarry, County Cork, and proponent of¬†The Slow Food Movement, notes that¬†corned beef has long been associated with Cork City, which was “the provisioning port for boats before they crossed the Atlantic.” From the late 17th-century to early in the 19th, beef corning was Cork City’s primary industry.

Corned beef helps free King from Demon of Gluttony!

Corned beef in Ireland also has literary-mythical roots. Aislinge Meic Con Glinne (The Vision of MacConglinne) is a late 11th-century parody in which the hero, Anier MacConglinne, wins the patronage of Cathal, King of Munster, by reciting a fabulous food-laden vision that frees the king from a demon of gluttony that has been residing (tapeworm-like!) in his throat. At least for the carnivores among us, corned beef spit-roasted on an open fire is described in mouth-watering detail:

Gluttony as depicted by Hieronymus Bosch

“And he called for juicy old bacon and tender corned-beef and full-fleshed wether, and honey in the comb and English salt on a beautiful polished dish of white silver, along with four perfectly straight white hazel spits to support the joints. The viands which he enumerated were procured for him, and he fixed unspeakable, huge pieces on the spits. Then, putting a linen apron about him below and placing a flat linen cap on the crown of his head, he lighted a…fire of ash-wood, without smoke, without fume, without sparks. He stuck a spit into each of the portions, and as quick was he about the spits and fire as a hind about her first fawn, or as a roe, or a swallow, or a bare spring wind in the flank of March. He rubbed the honey and the salt into one piece after another. And big as the pieces were that were before the fire, there dropped not to the ground out of these four pieces as much as would quench a spark of a candle; but what there was of relish in them went into their very centre.” [Excerpted from an In Parentheses¬†publication¬†translated by Kuno Meyer, ¬©¬†2001]

New York feast vs. Boston feast–Yet another rivalry?

Food maven and former¬†New York Daily News¬†restaurant critic¬†Arthur Schwartz¬†writes in his “opinionated history” of a cookbook,¬†New York City Food,¬†that Irish immigrants in the U.S. were not sufficiently well off to to treat themselves to what he identifies as the precursor to corned beef and cabbage–Irish bacon and greens–until the late 1800s.

“How bacon and greens evolved into Corned Beef and Cabbage is anybody’s guess,” Schwartz writes. “Some surmise that the Irish adopted the meat of their German, Jewish, or even German-Jewish neighbors, or WASP employers and turned it into a dish to help celebrate their Saint Patrick’s Day, an essentially New York City-Irish Holiday that is now part of all Irish-American culture.”

Saint Patrick’s Day essentially a¬†New York City¬†holiday? We’d like to hear you shout that out to commuters riding the Green-Line ‘T’ on March 17, Mr. Schwartz! We’d also like to remind you that¬†another common name for corned beef and cabbage is¬†“New England¬†Boiled Dinner”–with no mention of New York!

 

""Charlie" and "Charlene" of the M(B)TA kindly allowed us to snap this Green Line photo


Saint Patrick’s Day at Jules

Finding ourselves riding the Green Line on Saint Patrick’s Day this year, we were lucky enough to catch a leprechaun counting gold coins under our seat. “Okay, okay,” he grumbled, when we demanded that he magically grant us three wishes in exchange for his release. “What d’you want?”

Because were feeling a little peckish, “Corned Beef and Cabbage from Jules” was our knee-jerk reply. “And if you could throw in a frosted Shamrock Cookie, that would be great!” Alas, we forgot to wish for speedy delivery (which Jules readily supplies), so the leprechaun told us that we’d have to stop by Jules’ kitchen to make our wishes come true. And so we did, arriving–as if by magic–in the nick of time.

First, we checked in with Jules’ Executive Chef Albert Rosado, who has impressive corned-beef credentials. While cooking for Harry and Leona (a.k.a.¬†“The Queen of Mean”) Helmsley at the Helmsley Hotels in the 1980s, Albert would moonlight at¬†McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon¬†at¬†42nd Street and Second Avenue, not far from Times Square.

Executive Chef Albert Rosado

“This was the gathering place for the Grand Marshal and other bigwigs involved in¬†New York City’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade,” Albert reminisced. “Some three- or four-thousand¬†people came in and out of McFadden’s around about St. Patrick’s Day, and over the course of ¬†three days we prepared something like five- to six-hundred pounds of corned beef, as well as many pounds of Irish stew.”

What about green beer? we wondered.

“We didn’t dye the beer ourselves,” Albert laughed, “but McFadden’s¬†did serve¬†green beer for St. Patrick’s Day. Purveyors supplied McFaddon’s with that.”

Longtime Jules Line Cook Jeff Ginyard¬†also¬†knows his corned beef. Because Jules brines its own beef brisket, Saint Patrick’s Day preparations must begin a full day in advance, he explained, adding that two muscles comprise a beef brisket. “We use the leaner ‘first cut’ for corned beef sandwiches. The fattier and more succulent ‘second cut’ is used for boiled dinners.”

We asked why the corned beef was cooking in its own pot, apart from the vegetables. “So the vegetables don’t get mushy we prepare them separately,” Jeff explained. “But we want them to pick up the corned-beef flavor, so we¬†remove some water from the pot where the brisket is cooking, and we boil the cabbage–and the other vegetables–in that. The corned beef stock, by the way, is flavored with mustard seed–and the brine is seasoned with peppercorns, bay leaves, and allspice.”

Corned beef + cabbage + shamrock cookie from Jules…

The leprechaun granted our wishes…our three dreams came true!

Jeff Ginyard with corned beef...

...red bliss potatoes, carrots, and turnips


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This fresh cabbage ready for cooking is naturally green

Photo Credits:
Creative Commons: Liebig Tinned Corned Beef, detail from Bosch’s ‘Allegory of Gluttony and Lust’
EarthShare: Green Beer
Liz Muir: All other photos

 

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