Friday Fry #20

by Jeanne

Fivespice In 1968 the Department of Agriculture put into place a ban on the importing of Sichuan peppercorns.  The law was not actively enforced until three years ago when canker, possibly carried by the spice, began to devastate citrus crops in Florida. Due to a new heat-treatment process the ban may be lifted. The peppercorn is not a true peppercorn but rather a member of the citrus family and carries a "lovely woody-citrus-peel flavor."  According to a recent news report, "The deep, dark reddish-black dried pepper berries come from a woody ash shrub that grows in the mountainous regions of northwestern Sichuan. The peppercorns are one of the components of the classic Chinese five-spice blend, the peppercorns are so revered that they were once offered in tribute to the emperors of China, according to Sichuan cuisine authority Fuchsia Dunlop."

What happens when  you mix the 1970s energy crisis with the women’s movement?  According to Slate, the Crock-Pot whose motto"cooks all day while the cook’s away " created a small cooking revolution which quickly waned. Today, Rival, who owns 85% of the market, has experienced a 20 per cent increase in sales.  Could be because of economic times, a desire to eat healthier meals and the simplicity of preparation.   The article reviews and rates eight slow cookers.

Pduck In a urgent effort to control avian flu Vietnam has banned duck and goose farming.  The disease has killed 45 people this winter.  Many in Southeast Asia passed over making traditional New Year’s fowl-featuring dishes for the second year in a row as a precaution.  Duck plays a pretty key food role as it is cheaper than chicken and other meats and also produces income for farmers who raise the ducks for meat and eggs.  Vit Kho Gung (Braised Duck with Ginger) recipe. 

Eric Ripert of New York’s Le Bernardin puts a four-star meal together for eight in a small NYC kitchen.  True he’s Eric Ripert but it goes along way toward planning.  Tips include having the food delivered a few hours before prep; editing your pots and pans and having good knifes. Chef Ripert also likes a constitutional of Patron tequila–it "makes me happy."  Recipe for Shrimp with Coconut Milk, Tomato, Avocado.

And finally to follow up on Sugar High Fridays "Puff Pastry" there’s an article in this week’s Food section of the Los Angeles Times (registration may be required) that explores quiche technique via Thomas Keller and his recent cookbook Bouchon. 

Photo Credits: (a nifty site if you live in the UK)