Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pulled Pork Tacos with Granny Smith Apples, Jalapenos, Green Bell Pepper & Cilantro


Pulled Pork
1 Bell Pepper
1 bunch Cilantro
1 Bell Pepper
1 Granny Smith Apple
3 cloves Garlic & 2 Jalapenos ,
   diced and soaked in rice vinegar
   for 15 minutes.

Rice Vinegar

Dice the produce and mix the honey and vinegar together. Mix. Serve cold.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pulled Pork Tacos with Cilantro, Jalapeno, Apples & Green Bell Peppers


Pulled Pork
1 Granny Smith Apples
2 Jalapenos
1 Bell Pepper
1 Bunch Cilantro
3 Cloves of Garlic, diced and   
    soaked for 20 minutes in Rice

Rice Vinegar

Dice everything and mix it up.

*Optional: Add avocado and cotija/queso fresco

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Best Nacho Refried Beans you will ever Eat!

Mexican food has been a staple since I was in the womb. Pancho Villa's in Mamaroneck was some of the only food that my Mom could handle when she was pregnant with me. They used to have these nacho chips they fried in-house, topped with refried beans, monterey jack and a jalapeno slices. Simple and so satisfying. Big Poppa has been making some iteration of those nachos my whole life. We made them just recently, at Kayla's (my sister) behest after much begging. She was off to college and wanted one more taste, plus she wanted to know how to make them while she was up at school. Thus the post.

I have to fuss with things. Its my nature as a cook. Sometimes things just do not taste right. Like a big can of old el paso refried beans. There is no way they taste great if you just heat them up. Fuss paid off because everyone went crazy for the beans. "Paulie, you have to post this!" Here you go Kay.


1 31oz. Can of old el paso refried beans
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
Olive Oil or Corn Oil
2 small tomatillos, diced (optional)
1 large tomato or 2 small ones, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp of Cumin
1 tsp Adobo, more for seasoning probably
Chicken Broth or Water to keep it vegetarian

1. After you have diced and chopped everything, place enough oil to have a thin coat at the bottom of the pot (I used a pot you would noramlly cook pasta in). Heat on a medium flame and add the onion, tomatillos and garlic. Cook and stir for 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent. If you are pressed for time and hate chopping/slicing or just prefer speed, drop the onion, garlic, tomato and tomatillo into a blender and chop everything that way--college style. Then saute in the oil.

2. Pop open that can of beans and ease "the shape" into your pot. Add 1/2 cup of water or chx broth and mash up the beans until they look more like refried beans then something that just came out of a can.

3. Add cumin and adobo. Cook for another 5 minutes. The beans will start to bubble. Stir and add some more water/chx broth.

4. Add chopped cilantro and tomato. Stir, if the beans are bubbling too much, lower the heat. In total I probably use 1 cup of broth , but thats a guess-timate since I always do it by eye until I reach a desired consistency. Thats it.

5. Add to tortilla chips, top with cheese and a sliced jalapeno and broil for nachos. Add some sour cream to make a bean dip. Spread it on a veggie wrap or with fajitas. Let me know how they turn out.

Lucky Peach Food Quarterly by David Chang & Peter Meehan

Hailed as a masterpiece of modern food culture by Time magazine and lauded by the NYTimes, Lucky Peach is one more outlet for David Chang's success. A present day Midas; whatever he touches turns into Troy Ounces. This magazine though, is the confluence of many great culinary minds weighing in on different themes for each quarterly release. Harold McGee, Bourdain, Wylie Dufresne, Peter Meehan and many others all have interviews or contributions.

Irreverant writing, travelogues, art, photography and a TON of ramen recipes. Ramen is the theme this issue and each subsequent issue will have varying themes. Issue 2 will be pastry. This quarterly is not about trends, its by and about the trendmakers and their ruminations. A culinary journal is an apt description. I have read it cover to cover and its pretty awesome. It gets a bit geeky and esoteric. So what, who cares (in the tone of Joy Behar)? There are interesting takes on current food trends by the chefs (Wylie Dufresne, NYC King of Molecular Gastronomy gives a good lashing to the farm-to-table folks. Nice.)

Here is a recipe preview that just sings Chang and Pork-Topia:

Red Eye Gravy-Serves 2

2 Thick Slices of American Country Ham
1/2 Cup Brewed Coffee
2 spoonfulls of Brown sugar (Tablespoons I suppose)

1. Render the ham-cook over medium heat in a skillet. You are just looking to brown it at the edges. Find ham that has some fat on it, or you're wasting your time and you should probably just make this with bacon.
2.Once the ham is warmed through and the pan is good and greasy with ham fat, remove the ham to a platter. Turn the heat up to high. Add a couple of spoonfulls of brown sugar and whats left of your morning coffee.
3. To finish-cook it down, stirring all the while until the coffee has more or less disappeared. Et voila! Red-eye gravy. pour it over biscuits. if you find you don't have enough gravy, you probably need more ham, too, soget back to the stove and make another batch.

Subscribe Here

Sunday, August 21, 2011

No Recipe Needed

To Summers simplest pleasures. Cheers.

Sent via digital carrier pigeons

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tomato Recipes from around the Net

(Photo from Gilt Taste)

Tomatoes are one of the only great things about the month of August. August is hot, humid on the east coast, stifling and if you are in NYC you are always thinking about ways to get out. August also signals that the summers end is nigh. Ugh! Air conditioning is more important for 'keeping your cool' but tomatoes offer redemption. I have 64 tomato plants growing this summer in a patch, on my parents deck, in between bushes and any empty space I could find. After 4 years of living in Manhattan and not being able to plant any, I went way over board. Over doing it just tastes more delicious.

These recipes have been culled from different sites around the net. Enjoy:

Gilt Taste - Perfect Five-Minute Raw Tomato Pasta Recipe

A Whole Slew of NYTimes Tomato Recipes

The Tomato Sauce Master...Pete A., you will love this

Readers, feel free to add your own links in the comment section. -P

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Delicious Read

The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball

Marriage is scary. Throw in a relocation, new jobs in different fields, starting up a business venture, planning a wedding and all of a sudden it’s a lot scarier. Patience dwindles and arguments elevate; both happen with startling speed. This is precisely what happens in Kimball's life/book.

The Dirty Life is a book about a freelance travel writer living in Manhattan that meets a philosophical agriculturist tethered to a dream of creating a new type of farm. It is a classic city meets country paradigm but Kimball writes with a depth, honesty and humor that keep the narrative fresh and alive.

There are some glaring similarities in this book that parallel what Alycia and I have gone through in the past 6 months. I have an obvious bias towards this book but it is an excellent read for anyone who is fascinated by relationships, having faith in dreams and the challenges of the ‘new.’ It is also about food and farming which is why its on this blog. The book is a fun and quick summer read.

Here is a link to the NPR review

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Grilled North Carolina Pork Chops w/ Tomatillo-Pineapple Salsa

Ok. The video, my first is not genius. It is a test run. The recipe however, is summer love in a dish. I have professed my infatuation for all things tomatillo, but the grilled pineapple adds another dimension. Its also another recipe with cilantro. Its June folks. Cilantro is the herb of the summer. Enjoy.

Grilled Pork Chops w/ Grilled Pineapple & Tomatillo Salsa
4 Pork Chops
-1/4 cup honey
-3 Tbls. Soy Sauce

1 Pineapple
1 lbs. Tomatillos
1 small onion
4 cloves of garlic, from one bulb
2 bell peppers
1 bunch cilantro
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Marinade the Pork Chops in Soy Sauce and Honey for 30 minutes.
2. Cut the pineapple and get rid of the hard outer skin. Lay flat and slice horizontally. Slice in ½ inch thick large rounds. Lightly coat in Canola or vegetable oil.
3. Core & dice the tomatillos. Dice the onion, garlic, bell pepper, cilantro.
4. Preheat the grill.
5. Heat a sauté pan with 1 tbls of vegetable oil. Add tomatillo, onion and garlic. Cook for 5-10 minutes. Add bell peppers. Add 2 pinches of salt and pepper. Add 1/8 cup of water. Cook for another 10 minutes.
6. Once the salsa has finished cooking add the cilantro and mix well. Season and adjust. If you find the tomatillos are too acidic, add a dab of butter to mellow it out.
7. Spray the grill with PAM Grilling spray or brush with canola oil. Grill the pineapples and pork chops. The pineapple takes about 8 minutes (some black blistering on the pineapple is desirable for flavor). The pork chops take about 2 minutes on each side if they are less than inch thick or less.
8. Remove the core of the pineapple and dice the pineapple in a similar size to the other salsa ingredients. Add to salsa and mix well.
9. Place the salsa on top and devour.

Blue Fish Tacos with and Orange-Cilantro Salsa

“We are wasting our time here”

This was Tony’s declaration after we had moved from the deep sea to troll for fish in shallower waters. We began catching blue fish and Spanish mackerel. Compared to the Bluefin Tuna I had just caught, he was right, but he decreed blue fish as uneatable. Mackerel is an excellent fish, but blue fish are often maligned as oily and not worth eating. I had heard this for years. I grew up on City Island where catching blue fish was done for sport. We always threw them back, except if you went out on a boat like ‘Rip Tide’ or the ‘Klondike’, they fileted it for you and we often went to the local restaurants that littered City Island Avenue to try and sell them. We would never recover what we spent fishing for the blues but any bit of money to a teenager is a good thing that never lasted anyway.

I only had blue fish once before. Chris Paschette, from Arties, cooked it. It was baked with lemon and bread crumbs. I remember thinking it wasn’t so bad. I never returned to it though. It is never on menus and so it was forgotten.

Even our first mate on our boat, who goes to all the big game fishing tournaments and who has made fishing his life agreed with Tony. Stubbornness can be a good quality in a chef. That being said, if you catch blue fish, it should be eaten that day. We caught harbor blues in the ocean which are smaller than the ones I used to catch in the bay so their meat was a bit sweeter. I will still argue that fresh blues out of the bays will be great that night for dinner. If not my pal Tony the fireman and lawyer will lambast this entry. He was converted though:

“Oh well this is amazing, you put a great sauce on it. Everyone wants to know what to do with Blue Fish. I am using this when I get back!”

A rewarding element to cooking is changing a previously negative opinion of a food and turning it into a meal worth remembering. Here you go:


4 fileted blue fish, freshly caught
Garlic Salt & Pepper

3 oranges, peeled
1 onion, diced fine
1 bunch of cilantro, diced coarsely
1 jalapeno (optional), diced
(everything diced smaller than in the picture)
¼ cup Orange juice
Salt & Pepper

Corn Tortilla’s

1. In a sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil on medium-high heat. Add garlic. Once the garlic starts to turn translucent, add the fileted blue fish.
2. Add the oranges, onion and cilantro, O.J., in a bowl. If you are adding the jalapeno, cut it in half and remove the seeds and white pith. Then dice and throw it in. Season with salt or adobo and pepper.
3. The bluefish should take 6-7 minutes; it will vary with the size of the filet. Break the fish up w/ a wooden spoon into taco sized pieces.
4. Heat up the corn tortillas. Set up bowls with spoons for each ingredient, assemble and eat.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer Bean & Cilantro Salad

One of the extraordinary characteristics of North Carolina is that you have a long spring season and a long fall; basically, two of the best seasons for the longest period of time. The summer can be brutal here. Hot foods are no longer comforting. Enter Cilantro; THE summer time herb of choice. It’s refreshing and zesty and I crave it in the heat. It also grows quickly and in abundance when you plant it from seed.

Cilantro also makes eating healthier foods, sometimes not the tastiest, into a great experience. The first summer bean salad I made was for the Shakori Bluegrass festival. We needed food for the weekend and Lish loves cilantro and salsa was not an option, since we had eaten it 3 nights that week. This is really easy to make and it works well for summer BBQ pot luck or any party you will be attending in the heat. Canned beans are really the easiest and this dish should take no longer than 15 minutes to make all said and done. Feel free to mix up the beans—cannellini, black eyed peas. The ones in this recipe were whatever was in the pantry.


1 15oz. can of Navy beans
1 15oz. can of black beans
½ bunch cilantro
½ large sweet onion or 1 whole red onion
½ lemon or lime
½ Tbsp. of cumin
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Pinches of salt & pepper

1. Pour the canned beans into a colander and rinse thoroughly. Drain.
2. Dice the cilantro and onion.
3. Cut the lime or lemon and juice into a mixing bowl. Add cumin, olive oil and 2 pinches of salt and pepper.
4. Add all the ingredients into the mixing bowl and stir. You may want to add some more cumin, salt, and pepper depending on your preferences. I always add more cumin than necessary.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ginger Sesame Lettuce Wraps

Protein and more protein; thats my crash diet prescription before the wedding. I have increased the gym regimen, lightened my portions and have been eating more chicken then my mother, who thinks it grows on trees based on her diatribes about beef and pork. I mostly blame wine and tostitos artisan recipe chips for the current slump. So it goes.

Chicken is a staple at the Inserra home. Rotisseries, chicken cutlets, chicken sausages, marinated then grilled, roasted, in salads...a staple. It is often regarded as boring and in its ubiquity can be. Its also a canvas for a myriad of flavors. It will soak up whatever you marinate it within moments and it can be amazing when roasted properly. Garlic also plays a major role in every dish cooked by Big Poppa so if you want to minimize the cloves from four to two that will work.

Lettuce wraps are fun, healthy and you can add nearly any vegetable to the filling; cabbage, carrots, string beans, peas.

This dish takes about 35 minutes, mostly chopping.

1 Rotisserie Chicken, stripped of the meat or 1 Package of Chx Cutlets with
4 breasts
I head of iceberg Lettuce
1/4 Cup Sesame Oil
2 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar
4 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 Thumb sized piece of ginger
4 cloves Garlic, diced
1/2 Medium sized Onion, diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1/2 Bunch Cilantro, coarsely chopped

1. Break down the rotisserie or cook the chx cutlets. Set aside. Once cool, dice into small cubes.
2. Wash the lettuce, cut it in half and separate each leaf for wraps.
3. In a large sauté pan add the sesame oil add the diced onion and garlic. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.
4. Place the ginger in a blender with ¼ cup water. Puree. Strain the liquid with a sieve into the sauté pan. If there is any extra, use it for homemade ginger ale.
5. Add bell peppers, soy sauce vinegar and chicken. Cook for another 5 minutes. Taste. At this point you may want to add more soy sauce and or vinegar to boost the flavor. Once everything is flavored properly, add the diced cilantro, toss and place in a serving bowl.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Published in the INDY Weekly "Foraging for Wild Edible Mushrooms in North Carolina"

Please read and circulate my first article in Durham's INDY Weekly. It includes additions to the Pittsboro piece earlier posted, plus its in Durham, NC's highly regarded newspaper.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Recipe for Laughter and Killer March Madness Food (NYTimes)

The New York Times is a requirement for Sundays in the Inserra house. Its like coffee every day of the week; if its not present anxiety ensues, voices are raised and the iPhone or Android app to locate the nearest Starbucks is employed. Phone calls are made with clear agitation and shaky withdrawal symptoms apparent; even over the phone.

This morning Dad arrived back home after taking a drive in the cold nasty rain.
"Do you have the New York Times?" Mom shouted across the house.
"No. Harris Teeters {a local grocery chain} said they didn't deliver it this morning."
"Did you check Starbucks?"
"No. If they didn't deliver it to Harr----"
"Ohhhhhhhhhhhh. You knowwwww you have to check the Starbucks. They always have it. And if they don't" she turned to me. "We go to the airport" Becuase airlifts of newspapers are clearly vital to the swarms of Northerners down here in North Carolina. Mom then proceeded to call up all the Starbucks within a 10-15 mile radius. The first two were sold out of the paper.

"No!? You don't have it? That is unacceptable. Can I have the number of the Starbucks on Old Chapel Hill Rd.?" Mom looked at me again, since Lish and I are new to the neighborhood she bequeathed her go-to NYTimes secret location. I am sure this was purely self-interest in the event Dad was away and I needed to pick up the paper in his place.

"You have one! Great! Will you save me a copy? My name is Marie. Put my name on it. My husband will be there to pick it up in 5 miniutes."

Crisis averted.

There are lots of informative articles to read. I go straight for the culinary themed pieces. Today there was culinary gold. Sam Sifton replaced Frank Bruni as the food writer/reviewer for the New York Times. He brought fun back to food writing. The Times has not had a food writer with this much style, wordsmithing ability and gusto since Ruth Reichl. The article is from the NYTimes Sunday Magazine and would be easy to miss online, since thats where most of us read it these days.

This article is hilarious. It also contains a recipe that will work for the March Madness fans. Its perfect sports food that requires a beer in hand and many paper towels to be used for cleaning the food madness off your face.

UNC today at 4:55pm EST. Go Tar Heels!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Recipe for Environmental Improvement & Regeneration using Fungi

This video is entitled 'Paul Stamets on 6 ways Mushrooms can Save the World.'

If you had not noticed already I have become a bit obsessed with mushrooms lately. The more I read about the funghi and whats underneath, the mycelium, the more fascinated I become. The world of mycology (the study of mushrooms/fungus) is widely misundersttod. What do you think of when you hear the word 'mushroom'? Maybe the magic kind? Maybe that they can poison and possibly kill you? Or maybe you just think about those bland button mushrooms that are in the grocery. This video and the speakers book "Mycelium Running" are revolutionary. They convey the importance of fungi and the mycelial mats underneath to the natural world. The video is 17 minutes long. One of the most impressive parts is the sequence on oil and petroleum cleanup. Make sure you at least see that part. Prepare to be amazed.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mushroom & Sherry Soup

They are known to form primordial bodies overnight. They can heal or be fatal. Some conjure dark magic. Some just taste delicious. Mushrooms are one of the culinary world’s most intriguing foodstuffs. Mushrooms are amazing. At least I think so. My devotion to them began after reading ‘Japanese Foods that Heal’ which lead to a Maitake/Hen-of-the-Woods pasta that is on this blog. They have been used for centuries as remedies and there are still many new discoveries being made. The most beneficial and newest research on fungi is focusing on cancer and HIV/AIDS medicines.
Armed with this devotion, I began searching out local mycophiles (mushroom foragers/experts). I found a NAMA certified group in Asheville, N.C. which is a few hours away. Charlotte Caplan was a great resource but was not as local as I needed. She pointed me in the direction of Robert Sprenger. He has been hunting around the triangle area for a few years but originally hails from Rochester, NY. He is a font of information when it comes to mushrooms. He began the Chatham Mushroom Club which leads family friendly foraging expeditions in Chatham County. Alycia, my Dad and I headed out to Pittsboro to meet the man and hunt some wild edible mushrooms. Solidly built and a bearded man of nature he is one of the most generous people I have met down here since our move. Generousity to strangers is a phenomenon that always surprises New Yorkers. He told us about the rich variety of premium wild fungi in the area; Maitake, Oyster, Puffballs, Lions Mane and Chicken of the Woods. He showed us his most highly regarded mushroom field guides and reference books. “Mycelium Running is the most important book on fungi. Stamets is a maverick and all his supposedly outlandish claims on mushrooms have proven to be true.” The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms was his other most trusted field guide for identification. Its lightweight, has a sturdy cover and fits in a pocket. WARNING: if you do go out hunting mushrooms, pair yourself up with an expert and seasoned forager. Check out the NAMA website for clubs in your area.
Sprenger is also test developing inoculation techniques for farmers to use. He inoculates logs with mycelium and has a small growing operation in his backyard. The goal is for farmers to have one extra crop to sell at a very low cost. He keeps the operation extremely low energy, basically off the grid which gives farmers another advantage. So far he is testing out maitake, shitake, oysters and a few other species. He gave me 4 logs (2 Oysters & 2 Shitake) to take home and try out. There is definitely a demand for mushrooms in this area and everywhere else there are talented chefs and their devotees.

So the recipe…since Careme, Escoffier and maybe before, Sherry has been the ultimate pairing for mushrooms. It is just one of those perfect marriages like butter and popcorn. This soup is simple. While the mushrooms in the recipe were wild, the recipe does not require that. If you do head out to forage after a frost, the mushrooms can be a bit dried out, a rinse with water perks them right back up. Like with all soups, a good long simmer really draws out the flavors. I used organic chicken broth. I love this brand because of how rich the color, flavor and texture are. I first tried out this recipe with Marsala wine; not as good. Then I picked up Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry. It’s a sweeter sherry and adds another flavor component to the soup. We also picked fresh baby scallions as seen in the photo below and used them as a garnish. They were growing a few yards apart from the Oyster mushrooms. What grows together goes together.
My favorite wine pairing with mushrooms and mushroom dishes is a Falanghina or a Fiano de Avellino; they simply don’t let the mushroom fade away.


1 ½ quarts Chx Broth (preferably Imagine Organic)
¼ cup of Harvey’s Cream Sherry
½ medium sized Onion
5 Sage leaves
1 lbs./16oz. Mushrooms
Salt & Pepper
Baby Scallions, Chives or Parsley for garnish

1. Pour chx broth into the same pot you boil pasta in. Let come to a boil.
2. Add mushrooms (we used oyster since that’s what we found. Portobello’s will work. I would not make the whole soup out of Button Mushrooms. Their flavor is mild so mix and match a few different mushrooms; Portobello, button, shitake, maitake,) etc. Destem if necessary. Add the onion, half the sherry, sage leaves some salt and pepper and let simmer for 25 minutes.
3. Add a bit more salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 10 minutes at least.
4. Let the mixture cool. Puree in a blender.BE CAREFUL. Its hot liquid (if you didn’t let it cool enough) so have a dish towel ready. Puree in batches. Do not fill up the blender more than half way. Once half the blender is full, place the top on and a dish towel over that. Blend and puree. If there is a vent on the cap of the glass/plastic blender, have it open and have the dish towel over that. A blender works so much better than a food processor for soups. The soup will have a much smoother consistency from a blender. If you are feeling fancy strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve.
5. There is no cream or butter in this recipe. I found you don’t need it. By all means add it if you like. Pour the soup into bowls and garnish with the chives, parsley or scallions.
**The pictured soup was not pureed w/ a blender (it was temporarily out of service)

Simply Sauteed Mushrooms

So this really does not count as a recipe but it does show off another excellent way to eat mushrooms; simply. The picture also shows the perfect color of sautéed mushrooms; lightly browned and crispy with a sprinkling of salt. Butter…anything with butter on it is usually delicious. At FCI if enough flavor was not coaxed out of a soup (usually do to time constraints), a stick of butter was dropped in. The French have always employed this sacred maneuver. I call this technique ‘The French Fix.’ The oil is added to ensure that the butter does not brown too quickly.

½ Tablespoon of Butter
1 Tsp. Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
4-5ozs Mushrooms

1. If you have oysters or shitakes don’t slice them. For King Oysters, Buttons, Portabella’s and cremini’s slice thinly.
2. In a sauté pan melt the butter and add the oil to a mid-high heat. Add the mushrooms and coat them evenly. Cook for 5 minutes
3. Add 2 pinches of salt and let them sweat out their water. Cook for another 5 minutes. They should start to brown nicely. Once they are browned on both sides, put on a plate lined with a paper towel to drain up excess oil. Sprinkle some salt, pepper and chives on top.
Use these mushrooms as a topping for a salad, with rotisserie chicken, game meats or just leave them out and watch the grazers devour them. You can also make a quick pan sauce with chopped herbs and white wine or sherry to drizzle on some chicken….

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Secret Recipe for Coca-Cola...

This was just too good to ignore. The amount of writing, conspiracy theories, hidden notations in previosuly long-lost notebooks is endless when it comes to 'Merchandise 7X' or to the non-executives and consumers 'Coca Cola'.

Ira Glass is one of my favorite journalists and the amount of traffic his story generated on the web crashed his site.

Here is the recipe by the founder of Coca-Cola, John Pemberton who was a close friend of Joe Jacob:

More fascinating to me was the 'de-cocaine-ing' of the coca leaves that still occurs TODAY. Shipments of the coca leaf come into NEW JERSEY. Surprise, surprise. Once arrived they are brought to the de-cocaine-ing warehouse. No convicted felons working there I imagine. Then after their journey from illegal to legal, the leaves are used in the flavoring. You can buy Coca leaves online very easily.

I think we all owe it to ourselves to give this recipe a shot.

*7X Flavor
Grain Alcohol (Everclear) - 8 oz
Orange Oil - 20 drops
Lemon Oil - 30 "
Nutmeg Oil - 10 "
Corriander Oil - 5 drops
Neroli Oil - 10 drops
Cinnamon Oil - 10 drops

F.E. Coca(Fluid Extract of Coca) 3 drams = 4 oz
Citric Acid - 3 oz
Citrate Caffeine - 1 oz
Sugar - 30 lbs. !!!
Water - 2.5 gal
Lime Juice - 2 pints
Vanilla - 1 oz
Caramel - 1.5 oz or more to color Color sufficient

***Use 2 oz flavor (above) to 5 gals syrup

How to Make This Recipe

As we said in the radio story, this recipe includes two parts. The recipe for the syrup, and the recipe for the 7X flavoring formula. You can scale down the recipe for the syrup if you don't want to make gallons of the syrup. You will need one ounce of syrup mixed with 5 ounces of carbonated water to make a serving of soda.

When you buy your ingredients be careful that you buy FOOD GRADE. There are lots of things you can find on the Internet that can be used in this recipe that are not food grade and will make you sick.

1) Make the 7X flavor. To make this, you'll want food grade essential oils at 100 percent strength. They can be found by searching for food grade essential oils in the grocery section of and other places (this orange oil, for instance).

For a home recipe, you can get an eyedropper and count drops the old-fashioned way, but if you want to be more precise, Steve Warth at Sovereign Flavors says he estimated each drop was .025 grams, which means you want 0.5 grams of Orange Oil, 0.75 of Lemon Oil, 0.25 grams of Nutmeg Oil, 0.125 grams of Coriander Oil, 0.25 grams of Neroli Oil, 0.25 grams of Cinnamon Oil (historian Mark Pendergrast says the original Coke recipe was made with a kind of cinnamon called Cassia).

Combine those with 8 ounces of food grade alcohol. This ingredient, we'll be frank, will be kind of a pain in the ass to find. Important: Do NOT use Ethyl Rubbing Alcohol or Rubbing Alcohol or Denatured Ethyl Alcohol. These will make you sick. You need food grade ethyl alcohol. Sometimes people swap Everclear or other neutral grain spirits for this, and our beverage guys suggest this as an easy, cheap substitute.

2) Make your fluid extract of coca. Buy whole leaf coca tea. Instructions for making coca extract from this can be found online. You don't need much. The recipe calls for 3 fluid drams, which is equivalent to 1/8 of a fluid ounce or – an easier measurement for a home kitchen – 3/4 of a tablespoon.

3) Make the syrup. Once you have your 7X flavor, and your fluid extract of coca, you are ready to mix them with your other ingredients to make the syrup. Mix your ingredients in this order: water, sugar, then coloring, then coca extract, then vanilla extract, then caffeine, then lime juice and citric acid.

Several Notes:

-- If you do not want to make several gallons of the syrup, you can adjust the recipe by reducing all ingredients by the same rate -- one half the original amount, one quarter, and so on.

-- Another important thing about this step, as we said in the radio story about the recipe, the Sovereign Flavors chemists concluded that in order to compensate for the intensity of contemporary essential oils (125 years of advances in food technology means it's possible that they're much stronger than the oils Pemberton used in his lab in 1886) the 7X flavoring addition should be reduced by 75 percent. That means, if you make the full size batch, you should only use 1/2 ounce of 7X formula instead of the 2 ounces specified in the original recipe.

-- You might want to cut down on the caffeine. We all got a strong buzz from the soda we made with the recipe, and then one of the beverage professionals pointed out that it was because it had five times the amount of caffeine of a modern soda.

-- Some ingredients are measured in fluid ounces, others are measured in ounces by weight. The team at Sovereign Flavors says if an ingredient is liquid -- coca extract or vanilla extract -- it should be measured in fluid ounces. If it's a dry ingredient, like citric acid, it should be measured by weight.

4) Make the soda. Once you have mixed the syrup, it should be combined with carbonated water at a ratio of 1-to-5 (one part syrup to five parts bubbly water) to make the soda.

Legal language we have to include here: If you're making this soda, it's entirely at your own risk. The soda companies and radio stations involved in this story make no claims about the safety of this old recipe.

-'How to Make' reprinted from 'This American Life'

Its a big batch...for your next potluck party maybe?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Tomatillo Cilantro Chili

Its been a while since my last post. A lot has happened. Alycia and I relocated to the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. I will be starting up a mobile food truck to service the Durham area. Ideally, to be launched in September of 2011. In the meantime, ruminations on recipes and wine...

Tomatillo's are delicious. I didn't know how delicious until I found them in a grocery store for a salsa verde. I grilled pineapples, diced them, tossed in some cilantro sauteed onions and garlic. I then sauteed the Tomatillos and was instantly hooked. They are now an official obsession. Eggs in the morning with salsa verde, the above salsa on any meat (mostly pork) and now this chili. I was recently in White Salmon, WA watching my two cousins. One in particular is a classic growing boy that consumes food and milk with an insatiable appetite. He needed to be stopped. A big bowl of chili was in order; I could ladle this stuff endlessly. However, they expected more from me than just any old chili. It had to be different. Enter the tomatillo, this would be the substitute for the usual red chili they were used to. It was also Sunday and my uncle Frank had friends coming over; lots of mouths to feed. I also whipped up a homemade french onion dip that I remembered Jennifer Nelson making for a super bowl party. Perfect game day grub.

2 lbs. of Tomatillo's, diced
1 large Onion, diced
2 small Jalapenos, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
1 Can White Navy Beans
1 Lbs. Ground Pork
1 Bunch of Cilantro, diced
1/2 Tbsp Ground Fennel
2 Tsp. of Dried Oregano
1/2 Tbsp of Ground Cumin
1/2 Cup Chicken Broth/Stock
Salt to taste

Grated Cheese for garnish (I used Parmesan since it was in the fridge, cheddar is obvious but great, monterey jack with red pepper flakes...)

Serves 6 healthy portions

1. The dicing is the bulk of the work. Use anyone close by to help. After that, drizzle some oil at the bottom of the pot and place the tomatillo's, onion, garlic, bell pepper, chx broth and jalapenos into large stock pot, creuset, sauce pan or other 3.5-5 quart pot.
2. Put the cover on and cook at medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Stir.
3. Add pork, navy beans and all the spices. Increase temperature to med-high and stir. Cook for 10 minutes.
4. When the Chili is finished, turn off the heat and add the cut cilantro. Always do this last. Cilantro cooks and wilts quickly and its best served fresh. The minute this herb hits heat the flavors start to dissipate. Top with grated cheese and go at it.