Monday, August 27, 2012

Week 70

The Product: The donuts this week got a big hurrah.  The old fashioned were as old school as it gets and were a crime not to eat with some coffee or milky sweet tea.

Our awesome customers: Aaron, Josh, Suzanne+2, Leah, AS, Frank S., Nate & Amanda & Elizabeth, Tom K. et al.

Crew Additions: We had some new standworkers rocking it out this week -- big ups to Sara and Jeff -- hope to see you back soon!  Also, many thanks to our rocksteady crew: Chef Matt, Ali R., SZ, Andy, and JW -- you guys make it happen on late Friday nights and early Saturday mornings while the rest of Durham is partying, drinking, sleeping, and hitting the coffee -- big ups y'all.

South Durham Market: We're looking forward to the "grand re-opening" of the South Durham Farmer's Market on Sept. 8 (a promotional event accompanied with radio ad buys and print articles).  The duo from Rose's (slated to open a bakery/butcheria in Downtown) is going to do a demo so that should be fun.  Also, on my way to market this week, I took down all the food service establishments you have to pass after going underneath I-40 for a 1.5 mile stretch before reaching our little nook of organic sustainable artisanry: McDonald's, Taco Bell, Papa Johns, Food Lion, El Agave Mexican Grill, Wendy's, Subway, Bojangles, and Starbucks.  Thanks for making a difference by your choice of supporting a local market!

Song of the Week (curated by Chef Matt):

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer Vacay 2012: The Tally

We had a busy summer vacation on Cape Cod this year.  The Berenbaum household produced three blueberry pies, two batches of bialys, NuNu Chocolate Chip Scones, BBQ ribs, bluefish with mustard sauce, fried cod, two batches of chocolate chip cookies, a round eye roast, as well as salads with a lot of citrus dressing.  Other highlights included swims in Wellfleet's distinctive kettlepot ponds, a visit to Arnold's Clam Shack for fried oysters, a night out to one of the last remaining drive-in theaters in America, and a lot of Angry Birds.  Big shout outs to the whole Berenbaum's family, my sous chef MJB, as well as the Bennett family who showed us what wild Maine blueberry pie is really all about.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Week 69

The Product: We had a fun time with the bialys this week.  I had been doing some home testing previously, but after reading this article followed by this book, The Bialy Eaters by Mimi Sheraton, my interest went into high gear.  What I learned about bialys though the process:

1. The center should be entirely flat.  It (the center) should be crisp and you should be able to crack the bialy in two.  To achieve this, you flour the bialy after shaping the rounds, and then after it rises, you flatten the bialy and depress the center with the end of a rolling pin.  I don't think we depressed our bialys enough this time so they rose up a little big and puffy without a defined well in the middle (some folks call this non-bialy a pletzl or just an onion roll).
2. False-proofing: For most bread, you allow it to rise fully, and then throw it in the oven.  Bialys get their signature doughy chew (combined with that crisp crack in the middle filled with onions) from a lack of a true final proof.  As I said earlier, after the proofing stage, you flatten the bialy completely (we only slightly flattened, thinking it would not rise not much) prior to indenting the middle with a false hole using the end of the rolling pin.  The bialy then gets filled with chopped onion and goes right into the oven.  This lack of a final proof is why some bialys taste rubbery.
3. Oven temperature: The Bialy Eaters says to use a 500 degree oven, but I can tell from the bake off Saturday that you need to use a 450 degree oven or 400 degrees if you use a fan-assisted convection oven.
4. The Bialy Eaters tells me that Bialystokers (Jewish residents of Bialystok, Poland, where the bialy originated) used poppy seeds in addition to onions.  Supposedly, the poppies were dropped after the bialy immigrated to America because they're expensive.  After using only onions, I can see that adding poppy seeds would be an improvement and will be added next time.  Also, I believe the poppies might soak up some of the moisture from the cut onions.  Lastly, I do remember (and my father corroborates this) that I've had bialys with poppies in New York back in the '80s.
5. One bialy producer in The Bialy Eaters says he salts his onions prior to use to get out some of the moisture.  Maybe an experiment for next time.
6. Mimi Sheraton says that all U.S. bialy producers use sweet onions, which makes sense because they make you cry less when you chop them.  But the Polish didn't have sweet onions, having been grown first in the 1930s in Vidalia, Georgia.  So maybe one time I will try using ordinary onions, which when cooked, have more flavor than sweet onions.
7.  Kossar's (the most famous bialy-maker in America) recipe for dough: 7 gallons water. 2 pounds salt, 1 pound of yeast, 100 pounds of flour.  Our recipe was slightly more hydrated (i.e. more water).
8.  Our bialys were about 3.25 ounces each.

Our Awesome Customers: Leah. Karen, Annie &Andy&Miriam&Fam, Chris, Scott, AS, Patrick&Genivieve&Benjamin&Lucy, Jeff B.

Our Crew: Many thanks to our steadfast and hard-working crew: Chef Matt, Ali R., RG, RML, JW, SZ, and MJB.  Extra props to JW for holding down the Central Market stand for two hours solo.

Suggested Prices: It seems that the customers didn't bat an eyelash regarding our suggested prices (we didn't have any comments to my knowledge at the stand)...Which means that our loyal fans probably didn't notice and the newcomers found it helpful?

Song of the Week:

This Week: Donuts, finally?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Suggested Price

I think we've had a good run with the "no-disclosed-price" thing (although we have verbally suggested average sliding-scale prices and price ranges on request), but after using suggested prices at the South Durham Market (as requested by the Market Board), I see how we could simplify things at the stand and relieve our customers of some anxiety about how much they should pay.  Hopefully, we will not coerce or turn away anyone who wants to pay under the suggested price.  We'll see how it goes.  We're open to feedback so please comment if you have any thoughts on this.  As an aside, Panera states suggested prices at their sliding-scale locations.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Week 68

The Product:  The BBQ Tofu hand pies were a big hit.  The Chocolate Chess Tartlets were compared on multiple occasions to Angus Barn's (which I have not tried as yet, but is ranked as one of the best desserts in the country?).  The Chocolate Babka, as usual, gained more adherents to its chocolatey ways.

The Crew: Big ups to Chef Matt, RML, JW, SZ, RG, and Ali R.  Chef Matt, your hand pies are so awesome, not only do we sell out every week, but one of our cafe customers wants to make it a regular menu item throughout the week due to its popularity.

Our Awesome Customers: Belinda, Otis, Tiffany, Jonah & Susan & Joel & Mike, HM, JD, DH+1, 
Ashley C., Ben & Walter & Linda. Extra props to giveaway winner Ashley C. for commuting by bike and bus from Carrboro to pick up her babka.
Giveaway winner Ashley C. (left) pictured with JW

South Durham Farmer's Market: This week, I finally got to work the South Durham Farmer's Market (with SZ).  Traffic was a little slow due to the end of the vacation season, but the vibe was good...all the vendors were extremely nice, many bartered with me, and the patrons were impressed by the novelty and quality of our goods.

Recipe of the Week: Shakshuka (photo via David Leibovitz) made with bartered tomatoes from Maple Spring Gardens, Lil' Farm, and Piedmont Biofarm.  The key here is to simmer down your tomatoes and sauteed onions until it is quite thick, else you get poached eggs in tomato soup.  Here are some proportions to get you started.

Song of the Week (curated by Chef Matt):

This Week: Bialy?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Book Review: Good Food Revolution

Will Allen's Good Food Revolution tells the story of a man descended from sharecroppers who becomes a professional basketball player turned fast food regional manager turned regional sales manager for Proctor and Gamble, later leaving behind a high-paying salary to grow vegetables on a two-acre urban farm in a blighted area of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That farm, started with in 1993 on a foreclosed lot, now uses aquaponics and compost-as-soil to feed 40,000 city dwellers. Allen has received the MacArthur Genius Grant, met with Michelle Obama, and advocated for land-intensive urban farming nationwide. His farm could not exist without charitable grants, programs, classes, and tours to help fund it, but the amazing thing about Allen is his inexhaustible drive.  Despite personal and business setbacks, his desire to grow vegetables organically, sustainably, and at unprecedented scale has resulted in an inspiring retort to urban food insecurity and a dearth of healthy food choices for the poor.  Allen's approach is akin to a dynamo spinning and spinning and eventually clearing and transforming raw energy into directed, productive power.  Also of note in his book, Allen name-drops Durham's own food waste expert and Berenbaum's patron Jonathan Bloom.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Week 67

The Product: This week we had Spiced Brown Sugar Tartlets and Savory Vegan Samosa Hand Pies.

The Crew: Many thanks to our awesome crew: Chef Matt, SZ, Ali R., RML, RG, Andy, LA, JW, and Bill.

Giveaway winner Greg W. pictured with LA and JW

Song of the Week (RIP Sage):