Graduation, birthdays, family visits, drawings, preparation for up-coming shows kept me away from the computer, but here is the schedule for the next few weeks. We hope to see you at these very exiting shows:
Sunday June 27th
1:00PM “Picasso, Pablo Ruiz: Spanish Poet Who Dabbled in Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture””
From the NP’s Winslow Homer Postcard collage series
I am looking forward to a variety of exciting events this spring/early summer. All the details are listed below & do not miss “Trialogues” —Joris/Peyrafitte/Bisio— at the Vision Festival June29th!
Events coming up:
Thursday April 29th 6:15PM
I’m giving a talk -with slides & IN FRENCH & free- on Augustus Saint Gaudens:
Comité des loisirs du personnel de l’ONU
L’ASSOCIATION CULTURELLE FRANCOPHONE
est heureuse de vous inviter à la conférence de Nicole Peyrafitte
Le Retour al Paìs d’Augustus Saint Gaudens
Une En/Quête sur l’immigration, la vie et l’œuvre
du célèbre sculpteur Américain né en Irlande,
de père gascon et de mère irlandaise. Le jeudi 29 avril à 18h15
Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie
801, 2ème avenue ( 43ème rue ), suite 605, New York, NY more info on my work on Augutus Saint Gaudenshere
WALTZING IN QUICKSAND: POETS IN COLLAGE Tribes Gallery May 21-June 27, 2010
Steve Dalachinsky, Bob Heman, Yuko Otomo, Valery Oisteanu, Bruce Weber, Star Black, Aaron Howard, Nicole Peyrafitte and Lewis Warsh.
Opening Reception Sunday June 6th from 4-6 Tribes
285 East 3rd St, 2nd Floor
Mussels contain high doses of Omega-3, a fish oil compound that nutritionist say is helpful in reducing cholesterol. Farming mussels is believed to have been invented in France in 1235 by an Irishman named Patrick Walton. The story goes that Patrick Walton left Ireland to escape the police. His boat wrecked on the coast of France. He tried to feed himself by trapping sea birds. To this purpose he planted stakes into the water at the edge of the beach and stretched nets over them. The sea birds ignored the contraption, but after a time he noticed that mussels had attached themselves to the stakes and were growing rapidly. Cute story! But there are some indications that the Gauls had cultivated mussels even before the roman invasion.
The most common way of preparing mussel is as Moules Marinière; our version today is an extension of this traditional preparation. It is my original version based on several French Southwestern recipes and inspired by what I found at the Bay Ridge Greenmarket this morning and I call it Country Mussel or Moules Paysanne.
First a few tips about mussels:
How much mussels to buy per person?
To serve them as a main dish, get as much as one pound per person. As an appetizer half a pound should do it.
Do’s and Dont’s about store bought mussels
-Discard dead mussels: that is if one is wide open, it’s probably dead. If they are open only slightly, a quarter of an inch or so it should be fine. How do you tell if a mussel is merely gaping to breathe or if it is dead? Simply put ice on the mussels for 15 minutes then tap them gently. They should begin to close. If they move, they are alive therefore can be eaten – even if they don’t close all the way. If a mussel won’t move, and is gaping widely, it is probably dead, past it’s shelf life and should be discarded.
-Throw out broken-shelled mussels.
-De-beard mussels. Most likely you will not have to do that, and good for you. I remember cleaning kilos of them in my early restaurant time and that’s ain’t fun. Today they are de-bearded before you buy them, but once a while one is missed and you get to see what the beard looks like. The “beard” also known as Byssal, or byssus threads they are the strong, silky fibers made from proteins that are used by mussels to attach to rocks, pilings, or other substrates.-Discard heavy mud filled mussels. Some extra-heavy mussels that are closed may be full of mud. Doesn’t happened very often but worth checking because only one of these unloading its cargo in your kettle of broth will spoil the entire dish. Usually a “mudder” can be discovered by simply squeezing the shells and sliding them apart from each other.
-Rinse them just before using them
-Do not soak them
-Do not over wrap or purchase over-wrapped mussels. Remember they are alive, do not suffocate them in the fridge or do not store mussels in airtight containers.-Do Not overcook your mussels-Do Not buy mussels that are displayed in live lobster tanks or in shellfish display tanks.
-Do Not eat mussels if you believe you are allergic to shellfish.
Recipe for 2lbs of Mussels
Sauté 4 shallots and 1/2 lb of Italian turkey sausage (or sausage, or Italian sausage or pancetta, or ham) in a tablespoon of butter and oil (addition of oil will keep the butter from browning); when meat has rendered and the shallots are transparent, add 1 or 2 (depending on how you like it) skinned, seeded and diced fresh tomatoes (canned if not in season). Mix it all well, add a generous amount of fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste.
Add all the mussels (that have just been rinsed), mix well. Add about 1 large glass of dry white wine (about a glass per two pound bag). Close the pot tightly and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add a generous amount of finely chopped parsley or cilantro or basil and also garlic it you would like your dish stronger and especially if your meat was not already spiced.
Mix it all up and let cook for two more minutes. Please do not over cook them, or they will become rubbery. At this point all your mussels are open and ready to be eaten!
Serve in soup plates with a lot of fresh bread to dunk into the broth. Eat them with your fingers and use the shell to scoop out morsels—If you are from Bay Ridge get Country bread at Yanni’s Restaurant on 4th & Ovinton.
Voilà! and now please do watch another one of my homemade videos. The Country Mussel recipe was literally filmed with the left hand while cooking —and then eating, just watch until the end! with the right one. I didn’t know I could do this until today. Honestly tell me if it is watchable and/or helpful.
Thanks to Anne’s comment on the papalo blog she sent me on the right track to find out more abouthuaraches. No wonder I couldn’t find any info I had the name wrong! I had understood guarachas. Anyhow I decided to depend my investigation and took a stroll to Guerrero Food Center in Brooklyn Greenwood Heights where I had read they had good ones. They offer 3 kinds of Huaraches Regulares: cecina —marinated salted sliced pork; enchilada & chorizo . I had a cecina and a chorizo. Overall taste was very salty, I ended up leaving some of the meat but finishing the thick and tasty bean filled tortilla. The were topped with cilantro, and not papalo. Definitely not as good as the one I had at the Poughkeepsie flee market.
According to the website of the Mexico city restaurant El Huarache Azteca the preparation was the creation of Señora Carmen Gomez. They also indicate that: “luarache”, comes from the language of the Tarasco area where “cuarache” means sandal” (see original here)
And Jack Kerouac wore them while on the road:
I looked like a maniac, of course, with my hair all wet, my shoes sopping. My shoes, damn fool that I am, were Mexican huaraches, plantlike sieves not fit for the rainy night of America and the raw road night. (Jack Kerouac in On the Road, 1957)
I am not as enthusiastic —or lucky, as the Village Voice about the huaraches of the Guerrero Food Center . The one I ate (picture on top) were very salty and totally lacking “zestiness and sharpness”. The Upstate huaraches had all these qualities and more…
My New-York huaraches investigation would be totally incomplete without paying a visit to the famous Redhook park vendors. Redhook park is a great place to go hang out on week ends. Soccer on one side, baseball on the other & Latino food vendors all around! You can pick from Mexican, Guatemalan, Salvadorian, Chilean delicacies, but go see for yourself I might forget some.
Only one vendor was featuring huaraches. We got a pork one with all the works. Instead of the oblong sandal shape thick bean filled tortilla, this one was roundish and rather thin. The overall taste was satisfying despite the meat a bit dry, not enough salsa on the bottom —we added some on top. The veggies were crisp. I could have used a little more cotijo cheese. The winner is definitely the Poughkeepsie flea market huaraches vendor. From what I have seen so far it doesn’t look like papalo is commonly served with huaraches but this is the way I am going to make mine. Stay tune for my Pyreneen sandals!
When Miles (my younger son) came into the kitchen and asked quite intrigued: “What is that smell?” I pointed to the Papalo bunch sitting next to the sink.
Papalo is a native South American plant, also known as Papaloquite or porophyllum ruderale or macrocephalum. Its name comes from papalotl, —butterfly in Nahuatl and interesting (to me) in French butterfly is papillon!— The first time I encountered papalo was at a flea market Upstate New-York. A Mexican vendor was getting ready to sell Guarachas*—adish I wouldn’t mind getting more info on. The women were setting up while the men were all sitting down having lunch. I noticed them picking leaves from the middle of the table and eating little bites with their grilled meat and tortillas.
I ordered a Guaracha, I had to ask for the leaves as I wasn’t automatically given some. The lady was a bit surprised as she explained — nicely — that gringos didn’t usually care much for it. She was delighted I would try it as it was the way to eat this dish. It was love at “first bite!”; the grilled meat seasoned with lime, the green salsa, the Mexican cheese all topping a homemade corn tortilla —that looked to have had some beans worked into the dough, andthe little bite of papalo to make it a truly “gastrorgasmic” moment.Papalo’s taste is condensed, pungent and close to be an entrancing flavor. It must be used appropriately and parsimoniously.
A few weeks ago I got some papalo from Harold, owner of Carral Farm and a regular vendor at the Bay Ridge Greenmarket. He also gave me some suggestion on how to use it and recommended to also get some Anaheim peppers. I picked up a pound of fresh scallops at American Seafood (read previous blog on scallops here and here). And this is the recipe I will share with you today:
Scallops With Sautéed Corn and Papalo (for 3)
1 lb of fresh scallops
2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 lime juice
kernels of 2 fresh ears of corn
1/4 cup red bell peppers
1/4 cup sweet onions
1/8 cup green Anaheim peppers
9 leaves of fresh papalo
2 Tbsp brandy or Lillet
1 dollop butter at room temperature
Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of butter in a stainless still or cast iron frying pan.
Sear scallops delicately in the pan or about 3 minutes or so per side —it will depend how thick they are. Do not overcook them. Keep them warm between two plates and reserve until ready to serve.
While the scallops are cooking, sautée all the vegetables (with only 3 leaves of papalo chopped) lightly with olive oil or/and butter (see picture above to see size of veggies).
Déglaze the pan with some brandy or Lillet. Add lime juice and retrieve all the juice that have deposited in the scallop plate.
Add a dollop of soft butter and when only ready to serve “monter la sauce au beurre” —that is to swirl in, until completely melted, a dollop of room temperature unsalted butter; it will give your sauce a velvety texture and a rich flavor. We have done it before, right? Add salt & pepper to taste and voilà!
*The guaraches turned out to be huaraches. See comments below and huraches blog.