Anarchy in a Jar

The revolution starts in your mouth // Small-batch condiments made in Brooklyn

In the cookoff ring, again

UncategorizedLaena McCarthy

We like to cook. Neither Liv nor I are chefs, but we do love to make things in the kitchen. As Julia Child says so throatily, "I like the mechanics of cooking". She adds, "we were born with an appetite so we would nourish ourselves and a brain so we would know how to do it." Say it again, Julia. It's the fascination, science and incurable curiosity that keeps us cooking, competing and eating the products of our toil.

Luckily, I live in Brooklyn in an era when food cookoffs for amateur cooks are breeding like bunnies. I don't do that many, but every once in awhile one pops up that appeals to my fruit-geek heart, and I enter. And invariably lose. But it's the fun of making something beautiful and delicious, and sharing it with friends and strangers, often for a good cause (filling hungry bellies and satisfying the taste-buds included).

This past weekend I competed in two. First, I made a pie with my friends Holly and Griffin for Enid's Apple Pie Contest. It was an awesome pie. We browned the apples in butter and brown sugar, then hit them with a splash of Calvados (French apple brandy). Then, we threw them in a pot with a little Chinese cinnamon, Morris Kitchen's local ginger syrup, salt and sugar. We made our dough with pure butter and a little Polish vodka for liquid. There were over 54 pies (some of which were not actually pies, <cough>Suarez<cough>) and they were beautiful! I have no idea who won since it was too crowded to see, but I'm sure they deserved it (most of them, that is--see above cough).

I also competed in the Food Obstructions, a great contest with some fun limitations:

1. Must include at least one ingredient that is the color purple 2. Cannot contain pork or pork products 3. Must include at least one locally-sourced ingredient (grown or raised within 100 miles) 4. Must contain both a fruit and a vegetable 5. Cannot cost more than $25 to make

I made "Umami Shiso Fine" (say it with attitude: oh mommy, she's so fine) plum tart, with puff pastry filled with a shiso infused cream custard and plums poached in port and crystallized ginger. It was fun. And I was lucky to be next to some rad chefs, Noah Berland and Jordan Goldstein. Noah is a cookoff champion and this was Jordan's first one (he won 5th place, so clearly a rising star!). The cooks brought it, and the entries were phenomenal and creative. Thanks for all the fun, Brooklyn cookaholics!

Cook on.