TIDBITS: WINTER 2013-14

RECIPE

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Whole-Grain Mustard Sauce

ALL BOOKED UP

tidbitsAllBooked

The table of contents for Vedge: 100 Plates Large and Small that Redefine Vegetable Cooking, the newest cook book from Vedge’s Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, reads like the Center City restaurant’s menu, plate after plate of unexpected combinations (radishes, nori, tamari, avocado) and classics reimagined for the vegetable lover (salt-roasted beets with dill, capers and onions, the farm’s convincing answer to lox).

It’s easy to be distracted by your Dirt List favorites or those magical dairy-free desserts, but the real treat of the cookbook is a peek at Landau’s techniques. He introduces them without fanfare, but the attention to detail makes all the difference. You’ve never given this kind of thought to cooking vegetables before. In conversation, he’s more insistent: “Broccoli rabe is the most mishandled vegetable in history,” he bemoans before sharing the secret. Blanch it, shock it in ice water and then—when it’s cold—sauté it in hot olive oil until vibrant green. Prepared this way, the bitter green is the savory centerpiece of the cookbook’s love letter to the Italian Market: an elegant rabe and roasted pepper bruschetta with a porcini mushroom spread. (Or stuff it all in an Amoroso roll: “The best veggie hoagie you will ever eat.”) —April White

Vedge: 100 Plates Large and Small that Redefine Vegetable Cooking
Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby
The Experiment, 2013
256 pages; $24.95

FLOUR POWER

tidbitsFlourPower

Since the 1740s, the Annville Flouring Mill has perched on the picturesque bank of Lebanon County’s Quittapahilla Creek. Powered by those waters for the first 220 years and fully electric for the last 50, it’s considered the oldest continually operating flour mill in the United States. Since 2002, its rollers have ground Daisy Organic Flours, itself a historic brand dating to 19thcentury Lancaster.

When you open a fresh bag of Daisy Organic pastry flour, the company’s flagship product, the first thing you notice is the aroma. It’s exceptionally mild, with just the faintest whiff of sweetness. Although Daisy doesn’t bleach its flour, the whiteness is dazzling. As for texture, it’s so lofty I suspect a handful tossed into the air might just float away. In fact, Daisy flour is ground so fine that when you measure by volume, the company recommends using an additional two tablespoons for each cup. That fineness helped transform my piecrust—long a source of frustration—from an ego-bruising mess to a point of pride: The flour incorporates into other ingredients almost effortlessly, and the less you handle the dough, the more tender the crust can be.

Daisy works closely with a changing roster of small farms—the soft winter wheat for their pastry flour thrives in the moderate climate of southern Pennsylvania, as does the spelt they offer for people with gluten sensitivities, but for bread flour’s highprotein hard wheat, Daisy turns to farms in the drier, colder Plains states. Dave Poorbaugh, president of McGeary Organics, which owns both Daisy and the Annville Flouring Mill, consults with the farmers on which varieties to plant, often heritage grains with names like AC Morley and Clark’s Cream. He is also working with agricultural experts at the Rodale Institute to revive the strains of wheat originally ground at the Annville mill, which haven’t been commercially grown for decades.

Once the grain is harvested, it’s ground soon after on the mill’s antique rollers. Unlike at modern mills, where giant, computeroperated rollers work at high speeds to extract every possible speck of flour, the Annville Flouring Mill works at a more leisurely pace. Poorbaugh describes their process as coaxing the flour from the wheatberries rather than smashing the bejeezus out of them, which he believes preserves more of the grain’s flavor. Once it’s milled, the difference continues: While other companies blend several grains, Daisy lets the harvest determine what’s used, only combining if there’s not enough of one type.

— Debbie Koenig

tidbitsFlourPower2DAISY ORGANIC FLOUR
Available in white and wholegrain at markets and specialty stores or daisyflour.com.
Prices for a two-pound bag range from $4.75 to $6.30.

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