Not Your Ordinary Farm, Farmer or Chef. Now lets make Prosciutto


FARM VISIT.
Not your ordinary Farm in Guilford Vermont on a snowy day.
http://notyourordinaryfarm.com/
 

In small towns, word travels pretty darn fast and farmers talk a great deal to each other about who they are selling to.  After about a year into establishing solid farm partnerships, it was not long before my phone and email were  flooded with messages from growers and producers peddling their respective offerings. I started feeling bad. I wanted to support as many as I could, not realizing that this appease everybody thing is actually counterproductive for both parties. So I sat down and figured out what products I wanted.  Then I tasted samples, and chose the highest quality, and yummiest ingredients  from what I consider to be the best farms in the area.  20 plus farms later I had my beef, lamb, rabbit, chicken, rabbit, veal, game birds and tons of produce.  The only thing missing was duck.  In walks Judy Sopinki of “Not Your Ordinary Farm” in Guilford VT.  
She kindly said she had never raised ducks before. I began to explain to her that there are a number of pork producers in the area as well as lamb, chicken and beef. Great Tasting Ducks however are all coming from upstate New York and are usually the bi-product of Foie gras which is totally a unsustainable modle of raising ducks. She called a few weeks later informing me of  her newest experiment involving cute little ducklings. It was a bit challenging at first and we had some serious feather issues to overcome. I mean the first batch I had to sell skinless duck confit! Now, Judy is my supplier for Muscovy ducks. What is not so ordinary about this farm? I guess it is the dainty ribbon tied bloody bags of dead meat! Or the fact that she is filling a void in the food system in Southern Vermont instead of saturating the market with what the majority of farmers are producing. These types of partnerships add tremendous value to the NEW food system.She is also a Clevlander claiming the polish ghettos of Broadway and Fleet as her stomping grounds. She came in wanting to fill the void of another animal not listed previously and that  is  most “ordinary” chefs’ favorite meat; pork.  Just as this farm, I am not that “ordinary” of a Chef.  I have never eaten pork except by mistake.   My most enjoyable  mess up was when I would eat the  fried chicken livers from Moxie in Beachwood Ohio with Jonathan Bennett’s super yummed out Catalina dressing.  I did not know the ingredients until it was my turn to prep it: eggs, paprika, vinegar, tomatoes, onions, and sugar were emuslsified with bacon fat! Whoops! Until I was a teenager I had never eaten an OREO or a Starburst due to the lard content.  (To my excitement they changed the recipe at the height of  my junk food eating career).  Back to this “Not so ordinary” farmer, Judy…I told her I was not interested in pigs, but a non gavage(d) free range duck line would be awesome.   (Gavaged means force fed).  These ducks would give me my last piece that I needed to have a menu full of local sustainable products from farmers that I know and respect.   Super important and super delicious!
This is a productive C-Town and old school farmer-chef relationship.  Local food is so much more than slapping a farms’ name on a menu. Chefs, visit your farms, it is about the connection. It is about reciprocation. We are now in talks about her growing sustainable Foie http://www.foodista.com/blog/2011/08/16/sustainable-farming-chef-dan-barbers-foie-gras-parable#  for me because I am, and always will be against gavage!  The bird of choice for large production foie facilities such as Hudson Valley Foie, is the moulard, (no spell check, not mallard).  This bird is a genetically manipulated, sterile bird that they have created specifically for human consumption.  The bird is essentially grown as a vegetable for our eating pleasure as opposed to the cute little ducklings that grow up on Judy’s “Not So Ordinary” farm, that have little duck lives.  Even though the birds are super tasty, we as Chefs have to take into account that the production used for the foie bird is unnatural to begin with, even before the invasive feeding begins.  There is the argument that “the ducks enjoy” having a tube shoved down their esophagus because they don’t have an epiglottis to cause a gag reflex.  This argument is null and void if the conception of the bird is genetically modified and unnatural anway from the beginning.  (Not to get into a debate, most chefs/diners by now have chosen their sides on this issue already).   Anyway, on to the prosciutto. 
 
 I learned to cure meats during my time at Aureole  in New York  from Amar Santana.  A super talented Chef. He was doing duck ham and prosciutto, lamb prosciutto and some other cool non pork cured meats. Of course he used nitrates (which I am not a fan of ) and a crap load of pork fat, (the super trendy standard of yumminess nowadays).  I omitted the insta-cure number series which has all of the un needed nitrates, In my opinion, since these are found naturally in fennel seed and other organic ingredients there is no need to add a factory made product. I also ommitted the forbidden swine from my repertoire and have been working on a line of Muslim-Jewish friendly charcuterie, that is (I hope) just as good as its pork counter part.  From rabbit bacon to veal mortadella, it is all possible. I started to realize that what makes ham taste like itself has less to do with the meat, and more to do with it’s cure.  Now a lot of you pork loyalist and fanatics are probably rolling your eyes and perhaps want tell me about myself right about now…but give these a shot, and while you are at it, give me my ignorance, it is bliss! I would like to imagine that when I cure and smoke my turkey leg,  it’s pretty hammy. And when I give nice fatty duck breast a really easy  salt cure followed by a  “set it and forget it” type refrigerator stay it is pretty prosciutto-y but with a character of its own.
Duck Prosciutto Recipe
Ingredients
  • One 6 or 8 ounce duck breast
  • 4 cups kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
Directions
Don’t buy duck breasts. Buy the whole bird. You will feel more connected with your food when doing this. Breakdown the whole duck, make some soup out of the carcass and wings, confit out of the legs and freeze the liver for pate to be made once enough is accumulated. Rinse and pat dry your breast with good non-dollar store paper towels (trust me on this one). Snag a dish just large enough to hold the duck breast. Make a 1-inch bed of salt on said dish. Place the breast on the salt and cover it with about another inch of salt. Cover the entire situation with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours. You can add orange rinds if you like. 
 

Breasts in the cure with fresh ground spices.

In a small bowl, combine the  coriander, fennel, and pepper. This would be the perfect time to make use of  some of those pre ground spices sitting on the counter in one of those spice

Rinsed, spiced and hanging in the walk in.

carousel’s you got as a gift. I would of course not recommend purchasing this antiquated  product, but I for sure don’t condone just throwing it away either unless it is totally rancid. If you ar going to buy spices, you should always purchase whole seed spices, whole pepper corns and fresh herbs. Unwrap the duck breast and, holding it over the sink, rinse it with the vinegar to remove the salt and then rinse it under cold running water. Pat the duck breast completely dry and then rub it all over with the spice mixture.
 

Sliced and ready to serve.

Wrap the breast in cheesecloth and knot the cloth at both ends. Tie a piece of butcher twine on the top of the cheese cloth and tie the
other end to the wire rack in the fridge. If your fridge has glass shelving, duct tape it. I could have done a cheesy little pun  there but I think hinting at it works just as well. Place a small plate or dish beneath it. Let the duck cure until it feels firm but not dry, about 2 weeks. Thinner or smaller breasts will take less time.                                    
 
Start checking after a week or so. Slice it as thin as possible Put this with some melon or on a salad and you are good to go.

Pheseant with duck bacon-sweet potato hash and sherry soubise.

 
 
If you are feeling ambitious, you can of course smoke your cured breast making duck bacon. That is just what i did  with my pheasant from Chip and Carleen Hellis’ Fowl Mountain Farm in Dummerston. 
 
http://www.ismailthechef.com/
 
Advertisements

What is in the Air?


I have been publically writing for over  three years now and have yet to share an actual recipe. I have more unfinished blog posts in my documents folder than I have actual shared ones. The reasoning is that I feel there are so many awesome Chefs out there sharing their recipes, you don’t really need another one flooding your facebook page with unwanted recipes and food tips. (Do you?) I would much rather hint at the possibility of one of my quasi-interested readers to actually ask me a question regarding food. This technique has yet to reveal any sign of results so I guess I am acquiescing. So here it goes…

It should be known that my style of cuisine is old-world in foundation built up by just the right amount of “modernist” influence. I am definitely not a slave to trends and it of course is no hidden fact that my disgust for  the watered down industry that I am apart of can be directly linked to the exploitation of cool/sexy Chefs. Now this of course takes nothing away from the accomplishments of my peers and I wish them all the success that is due to them. It however is a known fact that while food TV is one of the most watched networks and cookbooks are the number one type of book being sold right now, for some reason, we are cooking less than ever before. Well, that “some reason” is this; as we watch our favorite Chef prepare the most awesome meal, the processed food companies pay trillions (not a fact, just hyperbole) for their commercial slots to get you to buy their goods. It’s a slick little hustle that sees no sign of slowing down. Besides, TV sucks, and cooking is far more fun!

So why not do what some say has been done for over 10,000 years! Trap the single cell organism we know as yeast, along with other yummy edible microbes, and make some bread. The air is equipped with all the yeast you will ever need to make the perfect loaf of bread every time! The cool thing is that the sour dough bread you make will differ from locale to locale giving a sour dough in Vermont a different taste than one in Cali due to the varying air composition. First we have to make a productive starter:

Grab:

2 cups of flour

2 cups of good old warm  H2O   and  combine in a glass bowl

And that’s it! No need to buy a sour dough starter online because that’s what you just made… sort of.

My starter keeping a watchful eye on my house grown pea shoots and micro greens. Did you know that chefs pay up to 25 bucks for half a pound? and gues who pays for it...

Now you have to collect the yeast and feed it. So leave it in a warm place to ferment, 4 to 8 days.  Depending on temperature and humidity of kitchen, times may vary. Place on cookie sheet in case of overflow. Check on occasionally. When mixture is bubbly and has a pleasant sour smell, it is ready to use.

Notice the bubbles in the dough. This is what your looking for after about 4 days. You do not refrigerate it during this 4 day period. That way you can collect the yeast from the air.

If your mixture has a pink, orange, or any other strange color tinge to it, THROW IT OUT! and start over. At my restaurant we make bread every day from our starter and never have to throw any away and it never goes in the fridge. But if you are only making bread once a week like most home bakers do when they possess a starter, throw it in the fridge. And if you are making bread once in a blue moon, you can still keep the yeast alive and kicking! you will have to feed it once a week by discarding about 1 cup of the starter and adding 1 cup flour and one cup of warm H2O. leave it out for a day and return it to the fridge! A lot of people refer to their starters as pets, But I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND TAKING YOUR “PET” THROUGH THE TSA CHECKPOINTS!… “May I please ask you what is that funked out gooey substance in your carry on”? Sure to be confiscated! If this happens, no worries, start another one. Just remember that sourdough starters improve with age, so you might want to hang on to it for a while and pass it along to those interested in yummy things. This actualy a trdition for some and it prevents you from having to waist it by throwing it in the trash.

This is a mature starter, which you can tell by the crusty border. (Time for a bowl change)

So how does it work? You can collect yeast for two things that I know of. one is for bread making and the other is for the production of alcohol.  And just as your bread will differ in taste according to what air you are breathing, so will your brew. Now I of course don’t drink, but I will go into the production of homemade alcohol for the sole reason of making your very own vinegar! NO this does not mean two recipes in one post. This is me jockeying for some interested readers (one will do) to ask me; how to make vinegar? Now, anyone can go to the brew shop and get a vinegar mother (you see this hazy strand  sometimes floating in your organic vinegar), drop it into an unadulterated bottled of alcohol: beer for malt, white/red for wine and of course champagne for, well champagne vinegar. But if you want to get your own strain of vinegar mother, a unique one just like our yeast we collected for our starter, hit me up!

Here is the skinny: yeast eats sugar and its waste is alcohol then acid bactar comes in and eats the alcohol and guess what its waste is. VINEGAR!

The bread recipe:

1 pound of starter

14 oz of water

2 T. honey

5 C bread flour (plus more for kneading)

¾ C Wheat flour

1 C soaked kamut (or other wheat berry or steel-cut oats)

3 t salt

Sour dough without the wheat berries

How To:

Combine starter, H2O, honey, the two flours and kamut, cover and let rest for at least 4 hours. The longer the better.  Don’t mix at this point. Just dump everything in, give one quick stir and cover with plastic wrap. Four hours later; when ready, sprinkle salt on top. Stir with wooden spoon and dump on heavily floured surface. And knead until you get one tight ball of dough. You can do this in your kitchen aide if you want to as well. Let it rest for 30 minutes. shape two loaves and score with a razor blade. Bake  at  375 for 45 minutes, rotating half way through.

Hope you enjoyed my thoughts and I hope you try the recipe!

Aging Meat… and its OK to eat veal!


 

 

There is no way I can argue with those vegan type people about the production of veal. It is undoubtedly one of the most disrespectful, irresponsible forms of animal treatment second to only foire production.  I will definitely touch on that debauchery in a later post. When we go spend our hard earned money, we want ingredients and food preparations that are worth the coin, that’s inventive and just plain old fulfilling. This does not entail us eating with our eyes closed. I can recall a former chef whom I respect a great deal but will remain nameless “educate” me on the way a good cut of veal should be white with a tint of pink. He failed to mention that the paleness comes from a forced anemia. There are tons of bloggers and videos on the net exposing the truth about veal production so I won’t go there in this post. Unless you guys want me to of course.

I LOVE VEAL! Until recently, for the afore mentioned reasons, it never had a place on my menu.

This calves name was Hogan

I actually  have a veal midsection hanging in my meat locker right now that I landed from fancy meats of Vermont. I let it hang at just around 36 degrees for about 21 days. This aging helps develop a deep flavor that is noticed instantly. The outside layer will dry and crust over, thus protecting the inner flesh from rotting. I put a BUNCH of salt. Like one bag of rock salt at the bottom of the cooler to reduce the microbe production. If it gets furry, don’t worry. Just wipe it with a towel doused in salt water if it makes you feel better. I don’t. All of the outside will be trimmed revealing a perfectly aged primal cut of veal.

I skipped the part where I tell you how its ok to eat veal now! On purpose of course.  Lydia Ratcliff at seventy plus years runs a cooperative of, responsible veal producers through her company fancy meats of Vermont. You can find these veal calves on some of New England’s conscious chefs menus labeled humanely raised veal or rose veal. I was so stoked when I found this out. I hadn’t eaten veal in years. (now foire, that’s another story! Its so good) I found out that these responsible dedicated farmers raise their calves from birth on a diet of pasture flora and good ol fashioned mother’s milk. I have it on my menu as humanely raised veal. You may see it as rose veal as well. Yeah the cuts are a little bigger but I seriously like it better. Its less of a conduit and I think it stands out as a more distinct flavor.

If you have ordered veal in restaurants before, you probably noticed notice its opaqueness. This lack of color (anemia) is due to the lack of nutrients. After the calves are born they are immediately taken away from their moms and give a milk substitute formula lacking necessary nutrients for long term survival. When a calf is fed real milk not formula and allowed to pasture it develops necessary nutrients to live a comfortable and healthy albeit short life.  Because of these nutrients, the flesh develops a pinkish rosy color.

It is super important to vote with your dollars and only buy humanely raised veal. IT TASTE BETTER ANYWAY! Don’t eat with your eyes closed and know where ALL your meat comes from. Or get started vegetable only diet. But seriously, who wants to do that.

Thanks again for checking my site and read on for a instructions on how to PROPERLY age meat without getting food poisoning.

Oh yeah Here is a cool little video about Lydia and her cooperative on thoughtcast!

http://vimeo.com/6371172

There are two kinds of aging when it comes to meat wet aging and dry aging. Wet aging is when the beef is put into a vacuum sealed plastic bag and allowed to age in its own juices. Wet aging takes less time than dry aging, generally around seven days. Wet aging is the type of aging that most butchers do now. Dry aging is different though, and is actually when you want the beef to dry out. It takes anywhere from seven to twenty-one days to dry age beef. This process allows the moisture in the muscle to evaporate, and this gives the meat a deeper beefy or vealy flavor. Also, the beef is naturally tenderized because of the fact that the enzymes in the beef are breaking down. One thing to keep in mind is that you cannot dry age single steaks because they are too thin.

For the purposes of this article you will need a primal piece of veal or beef such as a whole ribeye or a whole loin strip. If you have access to larger sections this will be fine as well but obviously you are going to need a large enough cooler.

You will need a rectangle pan, a wire rack, meat thermometer and some dish towels.  As I mentioned previously I hang my larger cuts so air gets it from all directions and the outer  dries faster.

1  Rinse your piece of beef with cold water.

2 Dry the beef well with one or two large white dish towels. Set it aside for a minute and allow it to drain.

3   Put your pan and wire rack on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator (because this is where it is coldest).

4

Wrap your beef in another of your large white dish towels and put it on the rack. Using your thermometer measure the temperature, you don’t want a temperature any warmer than 36 degrees F.

5

Change the towel(s) wrapping your beef daily. Empty and rinse the pan daily as well. This is to ensure that your beef stays as dry as possible and that hopefully no mold or any other kind of bacteria has a chance to start growing. Remember. This is DRY aging

6

Age your beef for ten days to two weeks. Cut off anything on the outer layer that is dry, crusty, or that seems like it could be bad for you to eat such as if you notice some green mold growing for example.

7

Store dry aged beef in your refrigerator for up to twenty-one days. If you haven’t eaten all the meat in twenty-one days, cut the rest of it into steaks. Put it in freezer-proof, heavy duty plastic wrap, or plastic bags and put it in your freezer.

 

The Fooey Network


How can you promote scratch cooking while being sponsored by pre-made sauces, salty boxed rice and 20 plus ingredient frozen cheesecakes?  I have heard of such a network in a far away land that switched a once credible Chef lineup and respectable programing for slots filled with conventionally attractive, cool, funny entertainers (Chefs in their previous lives).  They are called the Fooey network. We have seen this happen in the music industry as well. Are these current  musicians contributing anything to their craft? Song writers, musicians and producers of the past would agree with me when I say don’t let these clowns pimp your passion, hard work, craft and artistry!  Why do we feel the need to suppress talent and promote image? Am I the only Chef out here that sees th parallels between the new American “Pop Star”  and The Fooey Networks  self promoted “Aluminum Chefs”. These Chefs will try to sell you non stick cook ware  and an acronym labeled olive oil for twice the price. What am I paying for, the acronym?! I keep thinking about Garth from Wayne’s world decked out in sponsored gear while saying people only do things to get payed. (This was a super funny scene).  If the video killed the radio star then what is the Fooey Network doing to our culinary artists? If cooking ever becomes less hip, I can assure you that programmers will seek out  the most attractive and marketable tailors and quilt makers.  When teaching my classes, I want to teach people who seek to grow their skill set and increase their culinary IQ. Based on solid techniques and principles. I’ve been told that im a fun guy, so I reckon the classes reflect my personality, but definitely not forced. I want to show how to make PASTA before you make the diavolo sauce. And what about storing your pasta be it frozen or dried? I don’t want you to pay more money for the peeled, deveined shrimp when on average they are two dollars less when purchased skin and tail on. Trust me, it is not hard to clean them… and guess what; you know that yummy risotto you want to learn how to make? You can use the shells to make tasty-no salt added-stock that seriously will rival that of your favorite Italian eatery.  Not to mention it is a much healthier option.  Same goes with whole fish and poultry; cheaper when purchased whole, and you don’t need to buy pre made stocks, broth and bouillon. Your skills will be increased and you will save money.  In my virtually non-existent free time, I am working on putting together a series of lessons that will build upon your current skill set, helping you reach your goal, and produce the foods that you are paying an arm and a leg for in the grocery store.  We will build a quality pantry, producing food that is sustainable, healthy, and of course yummy.  And trust me, you wont be using a low-grade olive oil with a smiling face and an acronym on the label.

Till next time…

Farm Visit: Vermont Shepherd


So after another one of my farm visits to VT Shepherd, I was sold on the wonders of sheep’s milk Cheese. During the production of the cheese you get the necessary separation of curds and whey.  David Major, (producer of my personal favorite sheep cheese), makes two different cheeses out of the curd.  The first cheese is his signature VT Shepherd, which is the cheese I am using on my roasted garlic Caesar salad instead of the classic shaved parmesan.  I had to find an application for this yummy cheese after I tasted it.  I learned through trial and error that this cheese is better utilized uncooked as opposed to cooked because it tends to denature (separate) when heat is applied.   The second cheese which is made out of the curd as well is called Queso De Invierno.  This  cheese is able to withstand heat because it is a mixture of cow and sheep’s milk cheese.  The cow’s milk is from a neighboring farm and this cheese was named because it was created in the winter time, (if you weren’t already clued in by the name).  Alice and I came up with two uses for this super tasty cheese: the first we use in the Yukon potato and parsnip tart (dauphinoise) served with the grass-fed ribeye, onion/pepper demi, and fennel apple slaw. The second use was a an obvious one. I really love biscuits, so I called my brother (who will remain nameless to preserve his ego) and used his recipe as my inspiration. We serve these biscuits with our harrissa spiced lamb and root vegetable stew. The lamb of course is sourced from David’s farm as well and is quite tasty. The Queso De Invierno was my parents favorite when they came to visit during foliage 2010. David also makes a ricotta salata out of the whey. I don’t have an application for this one yet but we are playing around with some things and of course, it’s yummy. As I mentioned last time, you can get these cheeses online @ vtshepherd.com. Try these cheeses with some crusty bread and honey or click the links below download these recipes.

ismailthechef.com

The Very First One (again) with hopes of many more


Hello Foodie cyberspace…it’s been way too long!  So much has happened I do not know where to begin.  I guess I should apologize for my lack of blog but there is good reason I haven’t written in forever. Well maybe not forever, but it definitely has been a while since my lame submission of two entries over a year ago. But for all of those who commented I appreciate you and offer you my apologies. This time around I am committed to at least an entry a week sharing with you my experiences, recipes and answering any questions you may have regarding food and cooking.

In case you haven’t heard, my baby…my pride and joy…my years of hard work might as well be thrown into a trash can, no better yet a trash compactor.  The Crumb.  The awesome -about to open- new and improved- crumb; crumbled before it could ever open. You know when you get your heart broken how long it takes to heal?  And how thinking about it, or talking about it is just like rubbing salt in the wounds?…  Well that’s what happened to me.  I got my heart broken, stomped on, crushed, pulverized …like it was beaten with a meat mallet and jaccarded for about a year.

It’s a long story and maybe someday I will have the strength to write about what happened, but not today.  Let’s just say it is on what seems like an indefinite hold unless I somehow stumble across some boku bucks…And since I am not a gambling man, a silver spooner or a magician, I do not see that happening in the near future.  I am sorry for getting you all excited about it, but believe me I would not have added logs to the excitement fire if I thought it was going to smolder and go out eventually.

That’s all for now, if you would like more details feel free to post a comment and I will be sure to respond. Or just write me about anything; recipe requests, what you’d like to see on this blog, or a recent restaurant encounter.

Until next time,

Peas Out Yo.

Squash Blossoms


It has definitely been a while (four months to be exact) since my last post, but i have been unbelievably busy. I guess that is not too hard to imagine seeing as though the crumb is opening very soon and I have been running like crazy trying to get things just right. And just right is just not possible! I promised I would talk about the restaurants progress, but here is something  i wanted to share with you first that I found pretty intersting this summer. Chefs typically get excited throughout the year for certain ingredients highly coveted in the industry.  For me, its all about the summer treasures, fiddle-heads in early summer, green tomatoes and zucchini blossoms ( theres plenty more but to keep this post short so I can talk about more pressing issues, i narrow it to these three).  It actually never dawned on me until my wife and I started growing acorn squash, that i could probably eat these blossoms as well. You may be say to yourself HELLO!….. The truth of the matter is, unless the Chef that you work for brings cool ingredients in, or you have the time and the mony to spend on all of the countless ingredints that are out there, it is quite natural for Chefs like myself to not have worked with many of these items. So, I had never eaten them, never seen them at the farmers market, never even heard of them. As I am standing there, I strated to ask myself, ” do i sacrifice a 3 pound acorn squash for one dainty little flower”? I mean there are tons of flowers. Are they all going to turn to squash? If you have any experience in gardening, then you probably should stop reading now because what I recently found out is very new to me, but pretty basic, even for the so called bio-chef I might add. What threw me for a loop was that  early in the summer I witnessed all of my tomato flowers turn into well… tomatoes. The same went for my peas and  peppers as well. (you get the pattern)  So naturally, i was thinking “man im gonna have a bunch a squash to either cook. but what i didnt know is that all of the blossoms turn into the very versitile gourd… it wasnt until a recent early morning watering session i noticed the difference in the flowers some (the females i later found out) had the little babies at the base of the flower and the males looked like regular flower buds, Squash blossoms. you can eat them both but you definately want to let some get to full maturity.  So if you are wondering what to do wih them, They are good a number of ways. My research tells me they are good a number of ways. I guess it depends on your preference. I am going to try them stuffed with a nice soft goat cheese with fresh herbs, tomatoes flashed in a little butter and i might drizzle with a little honey. I have seen recipes calling for them to be stuffed, breaded and fried as well. In my opinion this may be a little heavy and i dont se you getting the full flavor of flower oils. But remember I have never tried them in any way so this is just an educated guess. It is always fun learning new things, testing them and adding them to your mental Rolodex of recipes. I encourage you to try these, as well as other ingredients you are not familiar with in a number of ways until it is prepared just the way you imagine it to taste. And as for the restaurant………. all I can say is I promise it wont be 4 months before I post another blog. I will see you this fall!