Feed your mind: Sifting through TV food shows
Talking about food is really trendy right now, and there are more food shows on the air than ever before. It’s difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff without wasting your time. So instead of having celebrities and big personalities backed by a cadre of wizardly technicians who are manipulating everything, why not check out some of these PBS shows flying under the radar? If you can sift through the detritus out there, you will find there are food shows with real substance and people who are actively and authentically involved in food for a living.
Some of the most interesting food television these days is actually on PBS. The third season of Flavor, NC is just one of three raw, groundbreaking, unpretentious shows on PBS that depict a crystal-clear portrayal of life as a chef, as opposed to the Hollywood-contrived shows you often see on The Food Network Channel. These shows align with life as a chef more than anything else we’ve seen, and we enjoy the inspiration they generate.
The Mind of a Chef is a series produced by Anthony Bourdain that follows high end chefs who are re-contextualizing humble cuisine. The first season featured David Chang, and the second season follows Sean Brock and April Bloomfield. See your local listings on the UNC-TV website, or watch on Netflix.
Flavor, NC is another locally made series, produced by Theresa Dalton and hosted by Lisa Prince. The series celebrates North Carolina’s rich agricultural history and colorful food scene, showcasing farms, ingredients, restaurants, and food purveyors all over the state…giving faces to our food and meaning to our meals. I recently had the pleasure of cooking the following recipes for them for an episode about garlic from Plum Granny Farm. Watch me cook in their latest episode on the UNCTV website! The show airs on UNCTV on November 14th (10 p.m.), 16th (10:30 a.m.), and 17th (1 p.m.).
Plum Granny Farm
Once you begin frequenting farmers’ markets and become more knowledgeable about the local food scene, you start to realize a lot of people grow the same things, making them available at the same time. So you start actively seeking out those who have something different or those who have learned how to extend the seasons. The folks at Plum Granny Farm definitely have a special operation. The small, family-run organic farm near Hanging Rock is more than 140 years old and was once a tobacco farm. They grow a fantastic mosaic of unique, harder-to-come-by produce, which is one of the reasons we love them. It’s refreshing to find a local farm that has figured out how to grow something that nobody else has grown, like garlic. In getting to know Cheryl and in learning about her farm, we’ve found that she has also experimented with growing fingerling potatoes, artichokes, raspberries and ginger, among other rarities.
When we recently had the opportunity to participate in Flavor, NC, we couldn’t think of any other farm that we’d be more delighted to partner with than Plum Granny. We wanted to feature their garlic because it’s their feature crop and it’s what they currently have available. We also wanted to showcase some of the ways we use their garlic in our restaurant. Last spring we made a white bean and roasted garlic purée with a pork belly and rhubarbecue sauce. Toward the end of the summer we made a wild mushroom and roasted garlic soup, and we currently have our barley risotto on our fall menu.
- 2 fl oz canola oil
- 1 ½ cups shiitake mushrooms, julienne and par roast
- ¼ cup Pickled Leeks (see below)
- ¼ cup Garlic Confit (see below)
- 3 cups parboiled pearl barley
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 cup water
- 1 handful Kale Chips (see below)
Heat a sauté pan, add oil and heat through. Add leeks and mushrooms to pan and cook until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Add garlic, barley and seasoning; heat through. Add water and simmer until all of water is absorbed by the barley. Distribute between four plates and garnish with kale chips. Makes 4 servings.
- 2 pounds leeks
- 3 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 quarts water
Wash leeks and slice into half moons on the bias. Place leeks in a container. Dissolve salt in water and bring to a boil. Pour boiling salt water over the cut leeks and weigh the leeks down with plates to keep them under the water. Allow to sit at room temperature for 5 days; then remove plates and refrigerate. Discard any leeks that float to the top. Makes 3 pints.
Kale Chips from Francis Lam, Features editor at Gilt Taste
- kale (curly or flat variety)
- olive oil
- smoked paprika or other spices
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Wash kale leaves well and dry. Remove leaves from stems by holding the thick stem between two fingers and strip the leaf from the stem. If the stem is thick through the middle of the leaf, it’s better to strip it so the leaf comes apart in two pieces. Toss the leaves in a little oil, rubbing the oil onto each leaf gently with your fingers. Season lightly with salt (as the leaves dehydrate, they will shrink, so they will come out saltier than when they went into the oven). Lay leaves flat on a baking sheet; do not overlap. Bake until they are dried, crisp and crackly, with no chewiness left (about 25 minutes). Once done, you can sprinkle them with spices like smoked paprika. Store in an air tight container.
White Bean Purée
- 4 cups cooked white beans
- ¼ cup Garlic Confit (see below)
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until thoroughly combined. Makes 3 cups.
- 1 pound garlic
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Using a serrated knife, trim the tops of the garlic husks, exposing cloves within and leaving the root end intact. Place cut side down in a saucepan. Cover with oil and cook as low as possible until center of cloves are tender when skewer is inserted. Makes 1 cup.
Wild Mushroom & Roasted Garlic Soup
- 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, julienne cut
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 gallon chicken stock
- 1 pound rind of Parmesan cheese
- ½ pound garlic husk (see below)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp white pepper
- ½ cup roasted garlic bulbs (see below)
- ¼ cup dry cooking sherry
- ¼ cup corn starch
In a sauté pan, sweat down shiitake mushrooms in butter, then set aside. In a sauce pot, combine chicken stock, Parmesan rind and garlic husk and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain, pressing on solids to get all the juices. Discard solids. Return liquid to a clean pot and add sautéd shiitake mushrooms, cream, pepper, and roasted garlic. Bring to a simmer and purée with an immersion blender (or in a food processor). Combine sherry and corn starch. Whisk the corn starch slurry into the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and then serve. Makes 3 quarts.
Roasted Garlic Bulbs
- 3 pounds fresh garlic bulbs
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
Using a serrated knife, cut off top of garlic bulbs, leaving root end intact. Cut should be deep enough to expose every clove of garlic. Evenly spread olive oil on a parchment lined sheet tray, then sprinkle tray with kosher salt. Place all bulbs, cut side down, onto oiled tray and roast at 350 degrees until tender (about 15 minutes). Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. When cool to the touch, squeeze garlic from the husks into a bowl. Save the husk as well. Makes 2 cups roasted garlic and ½ pound husk.