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Blueberry Lemon Cake

Blueberry Lemon Cake

Blueberry-Lemon Cloud Cake

by: Lina Bifano

Yields: 1 cake
Serves: 8-12 slices

BLUEBERRY SWIRL
1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
CAKE
6 eggs, separated
1 brick plus ¼ brick cream cheese
½ stick butter (unsalted)
⅓cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
¾ cup cake flour
2 ½ tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons corn starch
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ cup granulated sugar

Preheat your oven to 325° F. Spray an 8 or 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Make blueberry swirl by adding blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan together over medium heat for 4-7 minutes, until blueberries are softened. Combine your cornstarch and water, smoothing out any lumps, then add to the saucepan. Bring everything to a boil, whisking and cooking for 2 more minutes. Let cool and use a hand blender to smooth out your blueberry swirl. Set aside.

On low heat, melt together the cream cheese, butter and milk. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Place in a mixing bowl and set aside. Sift together the cake flour, corn starch and salt. Add sifted ingredients to the melted cream cheese mixture along with ¼ cup of sugar, egg yolks, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat batter until smooth and silky.

Using the wire whisk on a stand mixture, begin beating the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add cream of tartar and continue to mix, slowly adding ½ cup of sugar. Keep beating until medium peaks form and the meringue is glossy and smooth.

Fold the meringue mixture into the batter mixture, a third of the meringue at a time. Start by lightly folding in each third of meringue, incorporating until smooth, then starting again with the next third and again with the final third, until the batter and meringue are completely mixed together and you’ve got a light and cloud-like batter.

Pour the batter into the springform pan until just shy of the top of the pan. Dollop 4-5 tablespoons of the blueberry swirl mixture on top of the batter and use a knife or chopstick to create a free-form swirl on top of the cake.

Place cake in a hot water bath and cook for 60 minutes at 325, lowering the temperature to 320 for the last 10 minutes. Once ten minutes are up, turn off your oven and leave the cake in there for an additional 35-45 minutes. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and enjoy! Cake should be stored in the refrigerator, taking care to cover completely, as it can easily pick up the flavors of other food you may have in your refrigerator.

Spring

 

melt

As I sit here looking out through our large panes of glass, watching the last snow flakes fall from the sky, (fingers crossed) I can feel my insides filling with anticipation and felicity.  Spring is the season of hope, revival, opportunity and, my favorite, growth. Its an exciting time of year and if you stop, for one minute, and look outside your window, you’ll see that it’s go time. Or, what I like to call, Grow time.

snowy garden

The birds know it.  Listen.  You can hear them singing louder every day.  The squirrels know it.  Watch them in their mad dash to get it all done, scurrying from one place to another, making the most of every added minute at the end of each day. I can relate.

A lot is happening as the days get longer and things start to warm up out there. The energy is tangible and I find it inspiring. The earthworms find their way to the surface, the trees juices flow and buds swell, our cat stops sleeping all day and life, once again, appears in the garden.

The garlic we planted last fall is first to make an appearance followed by random patches of baby mache rosettes that self sowed itself last fall. Soon the forsythia will bloom and it will be time to divide and plant my Nana’s rhubarb and sow pea seeds.  We’ll be eating fresh asparagus spears before you know it, picked fresh and eaten raw from the earth. The cilantro that grows like a weed in our yard will be ready for the taking, and I’m already dreaming up ways to incorporate it into new recipes for food and libations.

basil in garden

So, for now, Ill sit back and enjoy these last moments of winter.  Ill let the excitement build, the snow melt and the soil warm.  I knowspring will come.  Spring will always come.

Keep Growing!

 

Renee Bolivar, MCLP
Owner 
Gardens by Renee
gardensbyrenee.com

 

Audrey Hepburn Garden

Something to Drink?

My grandma would’ve dug this place.

Sure, she enjoyed a good drink as much as the next person — especially if the next person was my grandpa. But her appreciation for The Citizen in Worcester would really come from the fact that she was a true Old School grandma.

Pillsbury didn’t own an inch of space in her kitchen. She could make her own (and far superior) crescent rolls from scratch, thank you very much. Potato salad from the deli? Please. She had her own homemade recipe — one that made all other versions of the dish seem pretty weak.

There’s a similar philosophy at Citizen.

“People want to drink the way they eat.” said bar manager and bartender Dave Delaney. “In short, that means people are looking for something fresh, local and in season,” he said.

Behind the bar, that translates into making homemade syrups and using simple, pure ingredients. Delaney said it’s part of a cocktail renaissance as people are rediscovering some of the classic drinks — some of them over 100 years old — being made true to their roots.

This involves breaking a drink down to its basic parts, making quality choices for the ingredients, and then mixing them so the flavors can interact as they were intended, he said. It’s a contrast to the world of pre-made mixes that are designed primarily to cover the taste of bad spirits, he added.

For example, in Delaney’s quest to create drinks like Millionaire of Havana and Ticket to Paradise, he saw he needed Swedish Punsch. Rather than ordering someone else’s off-the-shelf version, he kept experimenting until he had concocted his own Swedish Punsch formula. His recipe is a process that takes six hours, and it’s all to make just one of the ingredients used in his cocktails.

And for people packing their own cocktail recipes, Citizen has the tools to accommodate: eyedroppers, metal jiggers, spirits approved by the bar’s tasting panel and even a leather bound book for customers to document the specifics of their individual drinks.

Dubbed the Citizen’s Assembly, the book is a throwback to recipe books kept in the bars of yesteryear. Kevin Ludy, the beverage director for Niche Hospitality, Citizen’s parent company, started the book when Citizen opened nearly two years ago.

Of course, people can and do write anything in the book besides recipes, Ludy noted. A given page is as likely to contain a recipe as it is a proclamation of love Travis, referring to Citizen’s mixologist Travis Doyle. But Ludy wouldn’t have it any other way. The book is getting used exactly the way he wanted.

For those customers not quite sure what they want to drink, Ludy, Doyle and Delaney bring plenty of creativity to the table to mix up something appropriate.

“I like to ask, “What kind of day did you have?” or ˜What kind of mood are you in?” Delaney said. “The drink from yesterday might not work today.”

The key is balance — not too bitter, not too sweet, he said.

One of his creations, Bitter in Brazil, won Delaney a trip to New Orleans last summer to Tales of the Cocktail, an international cocktail industry celebration. Delaney’s drink is a variation of Caipirinha, Brazil’s national drink, he said, adding he wanted “put a little spice in it.”

This was the drink I had to try.

Delaney carefully mixed Cacha, Cointreau and Punt e Mes, setting each bottle on the bar for me to see. He also added ice, bitters and an orange peel that he first carefully wiped around the rim of the glass before placing it the drink.

The orange’s subtle smell and taste got a boost from the Cointreau. Then the punch of the Cacha and Punt e Mes kicked in. I’m not sure, but I thought I got a very faint flavor of whiskey, which Delaney said could have come from the bitters. Or he may have been politely humoring my inability to isolate all the distinct tastes in the drink.

Bitter in Brazil definitely achieves his goal of balancing and blending the worlds of bitter and sweet, with a succession of flavors competing for the taste buds attention.

When mixing a cocktail, “I try to make it as multi-dimensional as possible,” Delaney said.

I suddenly had a craving for my grandma’s crescent rolls. Wherever she is, I’m pretty sure she approves of Delaney’s work.

Written by Jeff Haynes

Jeff Haynes
Jeff Haynes

Jeff has been writing and photographing for a variety of publications since 1995. His work has covered a wide range of topics such as art, sports, politics, real estate, human interest, business and the environment. In addition, his photography includes portraiture, promotional work for various artists, and fine art imagery seen in shows around New England.

He is also a fan of all good things to eat and drink. It’s a habit — addiction, perhaps — that he attempts to feed daily.

Healthy at Home: Salmon Paradiso

Salmon

 

Instructions for Salmon Paradiso

1. In a food processor, pulse a bag of baby spinach-set aside.2. Pulse an 8oz block of cream cheese with one teaspoon of dry dill.

3. Add the spinach back into the cream cheese & dill mixture and pulse just until blended.

*it should be the consistency of oatmeal.

4. Preheat oven to 350.
5. Begin with a flat piece of salmon-you may fillet further with a knife or mallet.
6. Lightly oil a cookie sheet and place sheet of parchment
7. Place two sheets of phyllo on parchment and brush with butter and repeat once.
8. Spread filling onto fillet leaving a 1/2 inch boarder -I aways roll the smallest end first.
9. Place the salmon onto the phyllo and roll-use the parchment to lift the phyllo without breaking it.
10. Wrap once more in this time tucking in outside edges.
11. Brush with a little more butter and bake for 30-35 minutes at 350.
12. Slice into pieces an inch and a half thick. Serve with Dill Honey Butter drizzled over top.
  

Instructions for Grilled Romaine Salad with Crimson Crystals and Parmesan Chips

RED WINE CRYSTALS
1. Pour 1/4 cup of red vinegar and freeze until hard.
 
-preheat grill
 
GRILLED ROMAINE HEARTS
1. Half 2 romaine hearts.
2. Brush with olive oil.
3. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
4. Place romaine cut side down on grill.
5. Flip and shut heat down.
6. Set aside.
 
PARMIGIANO REGGIANO CRISP
-preheat griddle.
1. Mound 2-3 tablespoons of PR cheese onto hot griddle.
2. Cook until bubbly.
3. Lift gently around the edges.
4. Flip-over mounds, then shut down heat.
Assemble: chop grilled romaine, break PR crisps over romaine and finish by scraping the red wine crystals on top of everything.

 

Instructions for Dill Honey Butter

                 .  Combine 1 table spoon of dry dill, 1/2 lb butter, 1/4 cup of honey in a food processor.. Process until blended.

. Prepare at least 8 hours or 1 day in advance and refrigerate.

 

By Elaine Pusateri Cowan

Elaine Pusateri Cowan
Elaine Pusateri Cowan

Elaine strives to create beauty everyday. Whether she’s designing web pages or interiors, preparing appetizers or entrees and even refinishing furniture or making art, she always looks to satiate her appetite for all things artistic.

As an artist, foodie, interior designer and amateur photographer, Elaine believes in the quality of a sustainable life, not just living well. Her strong sense of duty to integrate such sustainability into every aspect of domestic life begins with perhaps the most basic of all elements: diet. She believes eating well to be fundamental to well being and with a stocked pantry filled with local produce, anyone can whip up quick, fresh and delicious meals every night.

Elaine holds a B.S. in Sociology from Worcester State University. From there, she worked as a social worker until the birth of her second child when she also became involved in creating Elaine’s Epicurean Enterprises, a catering and in-home meal service. At that time, she also acted as a substitute teacher in the culinary arts department for Worcester Technical High School. Currently, Elaine is enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design where she studies interior design a passion born from the major renovations of her home. She has also been the registration administrator at the Worcester Art Museum for the last ten years, managing their education department database and online registration system.

Elaine lives in Central Massachusetts with her husband Chuck, son Chad, daughter Antonia, dog Buster and, throughout the summer months, with her snow-bird mother Betty.

 

 

What Are People Saying About Foodies?

“The magazine looks GREAT! The articles are amazing. I’ve been getting tons of calls about the pasta article [I wrote for the Fall issue] already. I’m happy to write for you if you ever need content again. Thanks.” –Chef Chris Rovezzi, owner of Rovezzi’s Ristorante, Sturbridge, MA

“I just spent an hour reading the second issue of Foodies magazine and I’m not done yet! The beautiful images, well-written articles, and pleasing layout make Foodies a cover-to-cover read with something I know your advertisers will appreciate–a long shelf life. Already looking forward to the next issue!” –Joe Klimavich, Klimavich Communication, Sturbridge, MA

“It is really a beautiful and very interesting magazine. The “Pizza Wars” article was especially clever. It’s a fine a magazine as any other of its genre.” –Monsignor Rocco Piccolomini, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Worcester, MA

“Thanks to the new issue of Foodies, every day is pizza day at the office!” Robert Chevalier, Publisher of Bride & Groom Magazine

Distribution Points–Where to Find Foodies Magazine

Wondering where you can pick up a copy of Foodies of New England magazine? Here are some of our distribution points… and we’re always on the lookout for more! Contact us if you’d like to have Foodies available at your place of business, would like to place an ad, or would like to partner with us for an event.

Agawam

Pananas

The Federal

Arlington

Tryst

Athol

Hometown Bank

Auburn

Pools ‘n’ Cues

Auburn Florist

Hometown Bank

Ayer

Hometown Bank

Boston

Bacco’s Wine and Cheese

Blue, Inc.

Boston Commons Coffee House

Charles Street Liqours

The Cheese Shoppe

Cirace Wine and Spirits

De Luca’s

De Pasquale Pasta Shoppe

Eastern Baker’s Supply

Going Bananas

The Golden Goose

KitchenWares

Laundry on Salem

Paul Revere House

Savenor’s

The Wine Bottega

Vie Salon

Cambridge

Pemberton Farms

Charlton

Overlook Catering

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Holden

Holden Wine & Spirits

Val’s Restaurant

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Holyoke

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Log Cabin

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Eighty Jarvis Restaurant

Country Inn & Suites

Mackenzie Field Blue Sox

Leicester

Leicester Country Club

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Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel

Marlborough Country Club

Men’s Wearhouse

Piccadilly Pub

The Paper Store

The Special Event Bridal Shoppe

Fish

Starbucks

Lexington

Berman’s Wine and Spirits

Millbury

Asa Waters Mansion

Oxford

Hometown Bank

Shrewsbury

A Perfect Setting

A.A. Transportation, Inc.

Bean Counter Cake & Pastry Shop

Buca di Beppo

Danielson Flowers

Doros Photography

The Paper Store

Southbridge

Fins & Tales

Sturbridge Coffee Roasters

The Vienna

Rudi & Son Wine Importers

Spencer

Five Loaves Bakery & Restaurant

Spencer Country Inn

Zukas Hilltop Barn

Springfield

Marriott

Sheraton Monarch Place

The Student Prince

The 350 Grill

Sturbridge/Fiskdale

Acupuncture & O.M.S.

Alta Moda Hair Salon

Bonardi’s Formal Wear

B.T.’s Smokehouse

Carrie & Co. Hair Design

Cedar Street Restaurant

Giovanello’s

Hometown Bank

Leonard Rea & Co.

Loren’s Bridal

Nature’s Pathways

Neal Law Office, LLP

Norcom Mortgage

Old Sturbridge Village

Park Place Salon

Piccadilly Pub

The Publick House

Remax Prof. Assoc. Terri Ricard

Rovezzi’s

Shawn Kelley Photography

Simple Indulgence Day Spa

Steladena’s

Sturbridge Coffee House

Sturbridge Host Hotel

Thai Place Restaurant

The Whistling Swan

Winebuyer’s Outlet

Uxbridge

Arrowhead Acres

Blissful Meadows Golf Club

Bridals By Rochelle

Webster

Hometown Bank

West Boylston

Classic Suites and Inns

Gerardo’s Italian Bakery

The Mill

West Brookfield

Salem Cross Inn

West Springfield

Bertera Auto Group

Cal’s

Hofbrauhaus

Table and Vine

Westborough

Bistro Bakery & Deli

Double Tree Hotel

El Basha

Gourmet Pizza

Harry’s Restaurant

Highpoint Wines

Julio’s

Simply Enough Natural Foods

Tatnuck Book Store

Tavolino

Ted Montana Grille

Thai Island Restaurant

Ziti’s

Worcester

Armsby Abbey

Austin Liquors

Bocado Tapas Bar

Bonardi’s Formalware

The Boynton

Brew City

Camosse Masonry

CC Lowell

Central Mass Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Citizen

Crown Bakery

D’Alonzo’s Irving Oil

Dino’s Ristorante

Elegance by Carbonneau

Eric’s La Patisserie

EVO

Flying Rhino Café & Watering Hole

Gold’s Gym

Herbert E Berg Florist

Hirosaki Prime

Holmes-Shusas Florist

Image Hair Salon

Junior’s Pizza Grille

KJ Baaron’s

Leo’s Ristorante

Le Mirage

Light Lab

Living Earth

Maxwell Silverman’s

Mechanics Hall

Men’s Wearhouse

Mezcal

New England Roast Beef

Nuovo Ristorante

O’Connor’s Restaurant

Peppercorn’s Restaurant

Piccadilly Pub

Pizza Works

Pronuptia Brides

Ritual

The Stone Cobbler

Sweet

Sweet T’s

TPK (The People’s Kitchen)

Tuckerman Hall

West Boylston Fish Market

Wholly Cannolli

Worcester Art Museum

Worcester Fitness

World Gym

Via Bene

Zorba’s

Our FALL ISSUE is Out!

If you liked the first issue, you’ll like our second issue twice as much (at least!). We have double the content: more recipes, more features, more of everything you enjoyed in our premier issue. Here’s a–wait for it–taste of what the fall issue has to offer:

  • The Sopranos Wine Dinner. We keep our Foodies eye and ears open for great events, and we just couldn’t pass up covering this fabulous night: Arthur Nascarelli (“Carlo Gervasi”) and Tony Darrow (“Larry Boy Barese”) of The Sopranos were at the Sopranos Wine Dinner sponsored by Julio’s Liquors. Held at the Clarke Corporation Showroom, the evening was full of food, drink, and behind-the-scenes stories. The Foodies team was on hand to do interviews, take photographs, and share the night via social media with our Facebook fans and Twitter followers.
  • Pizza Wars. Who has the best pizza around? We talk to pizza chefs from Boston, Providence, Worcester, and New Haven to find out who’s got what on those delicious pies. As for who comes out on top . . . well, that will be for our readers to decide.
  • The Student Prince. If you’re in the mood for Wiener Schnitzel or German beer, look no further than The Student Prince in Springfield, MA. Find out the recipe for success of a family-run restaurant that’s been in business over 75 years.
  • Ceres Bistro. The Goddess of the Harvest inspired the creation of this stylish restaurant in Worcester, which incorporates as much farm-to-table freshness as possible in its menu.
  • Regular and new features on gluten-free eating, wine, beer, whisky, dessert, and food history.
  • And of course . . . more recipes!

Letter from the Editor

Publisher Domenic Mercurio Jr.

The past few months exploded with culinary creativity and interesting goings-on, particularly in Central New England.

With so much culinary talent and such an array of interesting epicurean happenings in the central Massachusetts marketplace, we were forced to dedicate much of this issue to that sprouting region and I’m told every bit of research was delicious.

Take, for example, organic farming at Berberian Farms in Northboro (p. 11); there, you’ll find the freshest, most high quality produce available. Wondering which of your favorite local chefs use that local produce in their entres? Just check out The People’s Kitchen on Exchange Street in Worcester. (p.28) Chefs Nemeroff and Champagne are fresh-food focused and experiment with all kinds of terrific ingredients. The only rule: everything comes from local farmers. Supporting the local economy through best practices in farm-to-table is the perfect way to give New England diners the freshest, most innovative cuisine, such as Nemeroff’s 21-day-aged beef from the Double J Farm. An entre that goes perfectly with a Sallis Castrum wine, one of our picks featured in Wines of Distinction (p. 29). Low in sulfites and 100 percent Italian, you can’t go wrong with this exceptional bottle.

Let’s not forget dessert. Alina Eisenhauer, of Worcester’s stylish and delightful dessert bar Sweet, divulges her recipe for Bananas Foster (p. 18). Along with recipe, she indulges our curiosity, revealing the reasoning behind her methods. It’s clear why she’s been chosen as a featured chef on Food Network twice.

Oh yes, of course there’s always that drink before dinner, an aperitif of sorts. Why does the award-winning mixologist Dave Delaney ask, “What kind of day did you have?” Writer Jeff Haynes finds out first-hand in Something to Drink (p. 31).

Not in the mood to go out but still want something truly fabulous, colorful and unique? Award-winning Sushi Master ­­Wilson Wang of Baba Sushi will teach you everything you need to know in A New Way to Eat Sushi (p. 15). First-rate sushi right in the comfort of your own home; it’s simple, fast and beyond delightful.

Still have hankering for something a little on rich side that won’t ruin your beach body? You came to the right place. Healthy at Home by Elaine Pusateri Cowan (p. 23) is the place for inspiring and delectable dishes. I dare you to get through the Salmon Paradiso piece without salivating all over these glossy pages. Consider it a challenge.

Bon Appetit “Buon Appetito Buen Provecho Guten Appetit

 

Domenic Mercurio, Jr.

Editor/Publisher


Sweet’s Bananas Foster

Sweet’s Bananas Foster

makes 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 1 banana, quartered
  • 4 medium-size spring roll wrappers
  • oil for deep frying
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 cup caramel sauce (or sundae sauce)
  • 1 tbsp spice or dark rum (optional)

Preparation

  • Heat the oil to 365º in the deep fryer or skillet.
  • Slice the banana into quarters and wrap each quarter in a spring roll wrapper, fold the edges in, then roll up.
  • Place the wrapped bananas, flap side down, into heated oil and fry until crispy (about 1 minute).
  • Remove from heat and place them in a paper bag containing the granulated sugar and give the bag a shake to coat fried bananas.

Caramel Sauce

  • Heat 1 cup of caramel sauce until it begins bubbling.
  • Add the rum and heat the mixture enough so it’s warm all the way through (it will bubble up and get foamy). Be careful as the mixture is extremely hot.

Alina opened Sweet Pastry Shop and Dessert Bar in the summer of 2008 and has been winning awards and critical acclaim ever since, including the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Worcester Living Magazine Best Dessert, the 2008 City Living Magazine Best Bakery and the 2010 Worcester Magazine Best Dessert.

Sweet was also featured on TV Diner and Phantom Gourmet and Alina has appeared on season one of Food Network’s Chopped and will be featured on season two of the network’s Cupcake Wars. Her recipes have even been featured in The National Culinary Review.

Power to… The People’s Kitchen

Chef's at the People's Kitchen
Chef's at the People's Kitchen

By Domenic Mercurio

Where can you go to sample menus that include barbecued calf’s tongue or house-dried beef cheek sausage? What about getting a first-hand viewing of your meal being made? And then having a Q&A with the chef?
Only at The People’s Kitchen.

Located at The Citizen in Worcester, TPK is the ultimate foodie playground; eat, inquire and learn. Food aficionados can head into the kitchen and grill the chef on his methods; they can sample haute cuisine, keep it simple with some good old-fashioned comfort food or even try something a bit more exotic. Whatever the craving, TPK can satisfy just about any insatiable appetite.

Guests are welcomed to sit, eat, drink, be merry, and interact with Executive Chef Bill Nemeroff. Whether you have questions about sourcing meat or seasoning, inquiring minds are always encouraged.

Chef salting the steaks
Chef salting the steaks

In keeping with TPK’s honest and open policy, Foodies interviewed Bill as well as Chef Steve Champagne, all in the name of good, honest food.

Foodies: What’s the concept behind the name The People’s Kitchen’?

Bill Nemeroff: The idea for the restaurant was born out of the want to combine the culinary styles of Block 5 and Cedar Street Restaurant. We offer our guests menu honesty, a concept that many restaurants don’t adhere to. Simply speaking, The People’s Kitchen is a restaurant for the people.

Steve Champagne: The name also reflects a certain honesty in our product. We offer a tremendous value in high-quality food. Our steak prices are better than most steak houses or fine dining establishments, and the quality is superb. Our guests truly get an honest meal for an honest dollar.

BN: We allow our guests to come into the kitchen and ask questions and see the quality we present at the table. It’s their kitchen. Of course, at 7:30 on a Saturday night, it’s not the wisest idea to have a group of guests walking through the kitchen, but if they want a tour and are interested in seeing our 21-day dry aging process, we’d love to have them.

Foodies: How did you decide that 21 is the magic number?

BN: In order to properly dry age beef, the product has to be stored in a cooler at a particular temperature for an extended time. We tested different time periods: 7 days, 14 days and 21 days. By the end of our experiment, we determined that 21 days resulted in more tender meat; the enzymes break down the tissue in the meat, thereby naturally tenderizing it without the need for pounding, which can sometimes bruise the meat.

Chef inspecting the meat
Chef inspecting the meat

Foodies: Do you locally source your ingredients?

BN: We actually use a farm-to-table approach; we buy our meat from local farms that we’re familiar with. It’s important for a dining establishment to be able to source the best, freshest meat available from reliable and like-minded farmers.

SC: Buying directly from local farmers also allows us to see what’s available and in season. That way, we’re able to rotate our menu every day, offering diners what’s timely and fresh, something new and different each time they visit us. By buying local and buying fresh, we’re really able to take the handcuffs off so that we can experiment with new items that we, as chefs, want to try. (Steak Portuguese: New York Strip topped with pickled peppers, garlic butter and a fried egg). Offering our guests something new and different is what we love doing. After all, it is their Kitchen.

Foodies: Is everything local?

SC: At TPK, we source some great international cheeses. We’ve procured some delicious Cacciocavallo, a semi-hard cheese from Italy, and Red Dragon, a grain mustard-laced cow cheese from Great Britain. And there are always local favorites like the Smith Gouda from Semi Farm in Massachusetts and the Grafton Aged Cheddar from Vermont.

Foodies: Do you ever put your own spin on an international favorite?

SC: We create a sweet sopressata, in true Italian fashion with our own dry aged pork, and an offal sausage that is very unique and tasty. The charcuterie is really where the distinction lies for us. It’s such an investment; creating quality in this respect requires so much time.

BN: It really is; watching the meat cure, ensuring it ages properly, constantly checking the curing temperature and observing how the meat responds to the process. It’s completely worth it for me, though.

Foodies: Bill, what’s your favorite TPK creation to date?

BN: Our fried chicken. I’m a southern boy, and our recipe is the same recipe my grandmother used when she made it for me as a young boy. We use braised mustard greens, red eye gravy, and chicken that has soaked in buttermilk for three days.

Foodies: Three days?

BN: Oh, yes. It’s critical for the meat to absorb as much richness from the buttermilk as possible and it really increases the chicken’s ability to hold the batter, creating an intensely rewarding flavor.

 

Recipe
Recipe

Foodies: It’s clear that craft is important to you.

BN: The emphasis is really on simplicity and quality. TPK is a craft restaurant, from top to bottom and right down to our beverages we don’t carry big brands like Absolute vodka. We use small-batch, craft vodkas instead.

SC: One evening, I remember a guest asked for Southern Comfort. Obviously, we don’t carry it, but the guest was thrilled with what we did have an artisanal, craft beverage from a distinctive, unique brand. Because of that, our servers undergo extensive training and education, so they’re well versed in everything we offer, which inspires confidence in our guests.

Foodies: Do your guests ever get too confident? Have you ever had to compromise your philosophy, recipes or preparation methods at their request?

BN: We do our best in the kitchen to not say no. Sometimes, our ideals are confronted and we have to decide what we’re comfortable doing. We invest so much time and effort into everything we create, even in the sauce. So, the last thing we want is to see our creation getting covered in ketchup. In short, we do our best to select sauces and flavors that are intended to perfectly complement each other. We’re confident that our guests will agree when they taste it.

SC: But we do take requests and change our ingredients. After all, we are The People’s Kitchen!

BN: Absolutely. In fact, it’s quite common. We have guests who are vegan and request vegetarian versions of our intensely flavored meat dishes. By principle, we’ve created a protein-driven menu, but vegetarians are people, too. We accommodate them without any difficulty.

SC: But we are fairly eccentric in our approach to these dishes. Our chickpea, gluten-free burger is quite good and resembles the texture and tangy flavor of a traditional burger. It has a pasty, meaty quality that imitates beef, and it’s pureed for a tight consistency.

Foodies: What’s your culinary philosophy?

BN: Cook what you know. Don’t get influenced by trends and keep your integrity about what you’re cooking. Technically, know how to cook things. If you’re going to make steak, use salt and pepper, then add from there. With that said, I do like big and bold dishes and experimenting with world flavors. In that way, I’m kind of a sauce guy.

Foodies: Bill, last year you competed at the Worcester’s Best Chef and made it to the live, Iron Chef round. What dish got you there?

BN: I prepared a dessert in the image of a traditional savory, comfort-food favorite, a hamburger. In this case, it was a chocolate hamburger. For the hamburger patty, I used dense chocolate mousse; the buns were made of cream puffs; and the cheese was mango gel. I presented and plated the hamburger with a vanilla milkshake (insert photo here). that was comprised of almond milk.

Worcesters Best Chef 2010
Worcesters Best Chef 2010

Foodies: What was it like competing live, on stage in the final competition of Iron Chef?

BN: It was fun. I liked playing around with the crowd, but had to ask myself, Am I trying to win, or am I trying to do my best to represent the restaurant Cedar Street? In a competition like that, those are two very different things. It’s exciting and stressful; you open your mystery basket, look at the ingredients and wonder to yourself live in front of a thousand people. What in the world am I going to make with quail eggs and coco puffs? So, I just started to chop my ingredients, boil the water and halfway through, I knew what I was going to do. Sometimes it comes to you as you’re getting started.

Foodies: What are some of the differences between Cedar Street Restaurant, which you formerly owned and operated, and TPK?
BN: Cedar Street was a place where you’d dine once in awhile. TPK is a place where you can sit at the bar and have a croque madame about as often as you’d like.

Foodies: What’s next for TPK?

SC: I think we’ll be busy promoting some of the events we’re working on: Farmers’ Dinners, with tables of produce to educate the community, a pig roast with Bill’s southern recipes like frog stew, chicken soup, savage corn boiled outdoors. We’ll also have more wine dinners, whisky and game dinners and maybe a cooking series on the patio. We don’t want to move too fast. After all, we’re part of the Slow Food Movement, which is about eating with your friends and family, sitting down, re-connecting, and living again.

BN: There’s a reason why it’s called comfort food. Everyone can relate to it, regardless of economic or ethic persuasion. We believe in the concept of Vive La Food. This is how a restaurant should be, and how the food should be prepared for real people, by real people.

The People’s Kitchen at The Citizen Wine Bar is located at 1 Exchange Street, Worcester, Massachusetts. More information is available online at www.thecitizenwinebar.com/the-peoples-kitchen.php or by calling 508-459-9090.

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