Friday, March 29, 2013

Amazing story by Joseph Mitchell, "Mr. Hunter's Grave" (1956), that covers among other things, edible wildflowers, strawberries grown on Staten Island, oysters raked from the Lower Bay of New York, and an ox roast ("or what they call a barbecue nowadays").

There was a walnut sideboard in the dining room, and it had been polished until it glinted. On it were two lemon-meringue pies, two coconut-custard pies, a pound cake, a marble cake, and a devil's food cake. "Four pies and four cakes, counting the one I just finished," Mr. Hunter called out. "I made them all this morning. I also got some corn muffins put away, to eat with the chicken fricassee. That ought to hold them."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Jewish Penicillin

This week for Passover we made traditional Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls (aka Jewish penicillin). Two years ago, I posted a vegetarian version, and after seeing Mitchell Davis' four stockpots of soup going for his seder at the Beard House, I thought I would post my unfancy recipe.

Yield: About 18 cups soup, or about 12-14 servings.

Salt and pepper three pounds chicken (you can pretty much any part you want; there is a theory that backs, necks, and feet give the best flavor).  Roast on high heat (~430-440 degrees) until it takes on color, about 30-40 minutes).  Save skin and liquids (separately) if making gribenes and schmaltz.

Add roasted chicken along with three carrots, two medium onions, and a stick of celery (all chopped) to stockpot along with enough water to cover.  Salt and pepper conservatively (you will add more and adjust at the end).  Bring the pot up to boil then down to a simmer.  

Simmer for 2 hours, skimming at the beginning.  (Don't spend your entire time skimming like there is no tomorrow.  You want to remove most of the remaining impurities after roasting, but when the soup is refrigerated, the fat will congeal to the top and you can remove it easily with a spoon.)  

At the end of the two hours, adjust again with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate soup overnight.

The next day, skim the surface and remove chicken parts.  Pass through sieve or cheesecloth if clear broth is desired.

Bring the soup back up to a low simmer.  Taste again for salt/pepper.  Thirty minutes prior to serving,  add cooked matzo balls, deboned soup chicken, and fresh herbs if desired (dill, parsley).

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Buzz: What is Kubbeh?

Our next pop-up restaurant goes off Saturday, April, 13.  At the center of the menu is kubbeh, a filled semolina dumpling served in soup.

Part of the inspiration for the project originated when I listened to Mitchell Davis' interview with Naama Shefi.  Shefi has just completed a three-week pop-up in New York centered around kubbeh called "The Kubbeh Project".  Kubbeh also appears in Ottolenghi's "Jerusalem", so the dish seemed like a natural, if not essential fit.

Read More:

Week 98

The product: The Olive Oil Matzos sold out quickly.  We will have to make more next year.  I heard from my sister MB that Clear Flour Bakery in Brookline, MA was selling 3 matzos for $6.25!  Happy Passover everyone!

Props to the steadfast, enthusiastic customer base: 
EC&SMG&MC et al., AS, Sherry+1, Allen& Marybeth, Harris&Natalie&Madeleine, Linda&Alice&Walter, Susan&Mike&Jonah, Fantine+1, RML, Amy B.

The amazing crew: Suja&Jennifer, Chef Matt, Jaime&Jay, Andy, and Val.

Jerusalem: Our next pop-up is up.  Check it:

Track of the Week:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pi(e) Day

The winning pie, a Ginger Apple Cream Pie by Lauren H. (the roses are painstakingly rolled apple slices)

Thanks to all who made Pi(e) Day a raging success on 3.14!  I think everyone had a mellow time and the strong finish by Clinton D. to win the pie-eating contest left us feeling we had witnessed a veritable spectacle.  By my count, there were about 21 pies eaten by ~60 people.

Special thanks to:

  • Our pie-baking contestants: Claire H., Shannon H., Lauren H. (champ), Briana B., and Stephanie T.
  • Our pie-eating contestants: Jim, Jeremy R., Clinton D. (champ), and Marcus J.
  • Our crew: Chef Matt, Val, Andy.

Track of the evening:

More Pics:!i=2413150821&k=Q8FD2PS

Next year: We are already looking forward to next year, wherein we will hopefully have a Pi-digit-memorization-recitation contest to accompany the pie-eating and pie-baking.

Week 97

The product: This week we had BBQ Tofu Savory Vegan Hand Pies, Jamaican Savory Vegan Hand Pies, Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot, Pecan Pie Tartlets, and Lentil Soup.

Our amazing customers and friends: Lauren H., EC&MC&SMG, Stan, Heather C et al., Allen &Marybeth, Horst, Nate&Amanda.

Mad shouts to the crew:
Claire, SZ, Val, Andy, Chef Matt, Jaime&Jay.

Smoothie People: We had a very fine smoothie (Mango-Pineapple-Banana) from a couple (Dominique and Quincy) that set up on Foster Street with a generator connected to a blender.  Exactly what I needed to keep to the morning moving!

Track of the Week:

This week: With Passover on the way (next Monday the 25th), our olive oil Matzos will be for sale this weekend!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Week 96

The Product: This week we had an assortment of sweet and savory vegan hand pies (including Caramelized Banana), Chocolate Chip Mandelbrot, and Roasted Veggie Soup.

Our amazing customers and friends: AS, Allen&Marybeth, Horst, Sherry, Shayna, EC&SMG, LG&JD, Lisa, Alison&Kelly, Leah.  I just noticed that we are up to 555 likes on Facebook.  Did you know the Washington Monument is 555 ft tall?

Da Crew: As usual, I am awed by the dedication and dependability of our crew: Val, Andy, Chef Matt, Sara&Jeff.

Happenings: Monuts' store opened!  I dropped by on Sunday and the donuts (Apple Cider, Chocolate Chai, Red Velvet, Apple Pie a la mode) were delightful.  Big ups to owners Mo and Rob.

Track of the Week (selected by Chef Matt, RIP Biggie, 3-9-1997):

This week: Pi(e) day on Thursday.  Please RSVP!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ramen Studies

Photo by Jeremy Lange.  Photoshopped by AB.  Full article here.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Without any indication that this might be coming and for reasons unbeknownst to me, apparently the South Durham Market has selected a new vendor with a more locally sourced product to replace Berenbaum's for the coming season. I can't tell you how disappointed I am in their decision and how surprised I was to receive this generic form letter (below) disinviting me from the market.

I can't say that I've ever heard of a vendor being voted out of a Farmer's Market.  I had not received any negative criticism from anyone at market, and my understanding was that the re-application process to the market was more or less a formality.

When I had to tell our customers Saturday that this was our last day at market, they were incredulous that the Board would do such a thing to an existing vendor.  Why would the Board have let us in for nine months only to kick us out? As with the Durham Central Market, I'm also disappointed in the lack of feedback regarding the admissions process and criteria.

* * *


Dear Berenbaum's,

Thank you for your interest in the South Durham Farmers’ Market. This year we were very excited to have such a large, respected pool of farmers and vendors to draw from. Unfortunately, your business was not selected for the 2013 – 2014 market season.

Our organizational mission requires that the market reevaluate our market space and product diversity each year, so that we can provide as many opportunities for new and undermarketed farmers to sell their products as possible. As such, we encourage you to continue to consider the South DurhamFarmers’ Market next year as well, as a space for you product offerings may become available at that time.

We strongly encourage you to apply next year with a more locally-focused product offering.

Those applicants who provided a self-addressed stamped envelope will have their membership fee checks returned; all other checks will be destroyed. Those who submitted their membership fees via PayPal will have their fees refunded via PayPal within the next 10 days.

Again, thank you for applying to the South Durham Farmer’s Market.


The South Durham Farmers’ Market Board

* * *

Our mock going out of business sign for the South Durham Market - 3/2/2013
This past Saturday was our sadly our last day

We are looking forward to collaborating in the future with Sarah Haggerty from Elementals, Stanley Hughes from Pine Knot Farms, and Ryan Butler from Green Button Farms.

I would like to give an extra shout-out to Stu Z. (aka SZ) who has been selling for us at South Durham almost every week since it opened.  Because Stu lives only 5 minutes away from that market, this feels like an especially heavy loss/insult for him.  Stu, we appreciate all your hard work and dedication to the market.  Stu will no doubt continue to work with the Berenbaum's team both in the kitchen and at the Hunt Street Market.

So in conclusion, thanks to all our customers who came out and supported us at the South Durham Market.  I am sorry we will no longer be able to supply you with vegan hand pies and other fine baked goods.  If you would like to register a complaint with the Market as to our dismissal, I would recommend emailing Ben Filippo at and cc'ing Board Chair and organizing member Kat Spann (Prodigal Farm) at

Or tweet at the South Durham Market here:

Or email the full board using the pre-made email below:

Dear Board Members,

I would like to express my disappointment in your non-renewal of Berenbaum's Bakery at the South Durham Market for the 2013 season. Handmade high quality baked goods are a rare treat, and Berenbaum's vegan hand pies and other baked products are all top-notch.  I would be more likely to patronize your market in the future if I knew his bakestand would be reinstated there for the coming season.



Track of the Moment:

Week 95

The product: This week, we had Spiced Irish Soda Bread, Sweet and Sour Tofu Savory Vegan Hand Pies, Pumpkin Chai Sweet Vegan Hand Pies, Lentil Soup, and Ramen Broth.

Our amazing friends and patrons: Kevin&Heather, Sara&Jeff, Anna C., Shayna, Susan R, Andy and Annie and Miriam, Linda&Ben&Walter&Alice, Anna C., Marybeth and Allen, AS, Stan, Chris&Kate, EC, Sara&Jeff, Dan.

Claire with giveaway winner Anna C.

The newest addition to the Berenbaum's extended fam: Alice, with her Mom, Linda

Da Crew: Many thanks as always to our amazing crew: Val, Andy, SZ, Cheff Matt, Jaime&Nancy, Claire.

Track of the Week:

This week: Mandel Bread (Mandelbrot) is back!

No Dice Part II: Underdog or Pariah?

For the second year in a row, our application to the Durham Farmer's Market (downtown) has been rejected.  I learned over the weekend that so many of the farmers come from Orange and Chatham counties that the market should be called the Orange-Chatham Farmer's Market.  What the Board has against a local sliding-scale Durham bakery that specializes in Jewish and vegan goods (neither of which can be found at market), I do not know.  I will not bother to send a request for information to the Board as they never replied to my letter last year.

Some highlights from our application:

6. How do you currently market and sell your products?  We currently sell on Hunt Street, at the South Durham Farmer’s Market, to our café customers (Joe van Gogh, Respite Café, Bean Traders (Homestead Market), the Daily Grind (UNC), and Friends Café (UNC)), and via bike delivery to the Durham residents of Old West and Watts Hillandale.

8. How does the Durham Farmers Market fit into your marketing plans? (Attach
additional pages if necessary)
Entering the Durham Farmer’s Market would be amazing.  We have been selling from our corner on Hunt Street for two years and have gained a loyal following (520 Facebook Fans).  I understand that Loaf and Scratch and other vendors sell baked goods, so I would want to focus on products that you cannot currently find within the Farmer’s Market.  Those products would be vegan baked goods.  Our vegan hand pies are extremely popular (we make about 300 every weekend) and serve an underserved community of vegans and otherwise health-conscious people in Durham.  We receive comments via Facebook every week thanking us for our service to the vegan community.  We use Lindley Mills organic flour, and would make a commitment to buy Farmer’s Market vegetables to use as filling for the hand pies.  Also, all of our goods are baked less than a mile away from the market (at Ninth Street Bakery Downtown).  If Loaf would like, we would be happy to agree not to sell any artisan hearth-baked breads so as not to compete with their business. We collaborate every week with vegan Chef Matt Props on our vegan hand pies.  Here are some delicious flavor combinations to get you excited: Cuban Black Bean Savory Vegan Hand Pies, Caramelized Banana Sweet Vegan Hand Pies, Smokey Mushroom and Greens Savory Vegan Hand Pies, Savory Vegan Shepherd's Pie Hand Pies, Pumpkin Chai Sweet Vegan Hand Pies, Sweet Apple Caramel Vegan Hand Pies, Ginger Scallion Savory Vegan Hand Pies, Jamaican Jerk Tofu Savory Vegan Hand Pies, Thai Peanut Tofu Savory Vegan Hand Pies, BBQ Tofu Savory Vegan Hand Pies.