Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ingredient of the Week

Think that turkey is only a Thanksgiving affair?  Well, think again!   Turkey is a definite part of American culture.   Think about idioms such as going “cold turkey” or the American folk song, “Turkey in the Straw.”  Other references include: Wild Turkey, which is a brand of Kentucky straight bourbon and the film “Turkey” (about turkeys) that releases on November 1, 2013.
Let's Talk Turkey. 
         Wild turkey is native to the Americas and has been served up in the New World since the 1500's. Explorers introduced wild turkey to Europe in the 16th century where farm raised breeds began to emerge. It is speculated that the first Thanksgiving turkey was had in 1621, and as the saying goes, the rest was history! The latest statistic from the National Turkey Federation notes that 219 million turkeys were eaten in the U.S. in 2011 over the course of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. With holidays upon us, buy local. There are several New Jersey farms from which to purchase a turkey. Feeling like getting out in the sunshine and into the rugged outdoors? Go hunting. Wild turkey season begins April 22, 2013.

Jive Turkey? 
  • Americans tend to prefer white meat, which is leaner and has fewer calories.  However, dark meat has more flavorful and is great to use in soups and stews.
  • Tom turkeys gobble and hens cluck. 
  • Wild turkeys can fly short distances while domesticated turkeys cannot. 
  • The President began the custom of pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey, donated by the National Turkey Federation, in 1947.

Mizejewski, David. (2010, November 25). Turkeys Are True Animal Oddities. Retrieved March 25, 2013 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-mizejewski/turkeys-are-true-animal-o_b_788418.html 

National Turkey Federation. (2010). Turkey History and Trivia. In Turkey, The Perfect Protein. Retrieved March 25, 2013 from http://www.eatturkey.com/consumer/history/history.html.

Turkey (2013). In MovieWeb. Retrieved March 25, 2013 from http://www.movieweb.com/movie/turkeys 

Wallace, O. (n.d.). What is the History of the Turkey in America? In wiseGEEK. Retrieved March 25, 2013 from http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-history-of-the-turkey-in-america.htm

What's the Dish on Turkey?

Hot Brown Sandwich

What is it?   An open-faced hot turkey sandwich consisting of thick sliced bread topped with bacon and sliced tomato, and sauced with a decadent Mornay, which is a Béchamel sauce enriched with Gruyère or Parmesan cheese. 

Paired With:  A long walk in the park.

Fun Facts:  The Hot Brown was created in Louisville, Kentucky at the Brown Hotel in 1926.  Chef Fred K. Schmidt embellished standard ham and eggs to create a rich meal traditionally eaten after the house band finished playing for the night.  This signature dish can still be had at the Brown Hotel today!

What is in a Hot Brown?
6 tablespoons of butter
6 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
3 cups of milk
1/2 cup of freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 egg, room temperature and slightly beaten
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup of whipped cream
8 slices of toasted white bread, without the crust
1 pound of thinly sliced cooked turkey breast
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping
1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimientos, drained or quartered tomatoes
8 slices of crisply fried bacon

Modern recipes use an additional amount of white cheddar or Gruyere in the sauce and spice it up with Worcestershire or Tabasco sauce.  Sandwich type breads range from Shokupan (Japanese style white bread) to Texas Toast, to Pullman sandwich bread.

Tradley, Linda S.   Hot Brown Sandwich-History of Hot Brown Sandwich. Retrieved March 25, 2013 from http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/Sandwiches/HotBrownSandwich.htm

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ingredient of the Week

Mustard - (Genus: Brassica and Sinapis)

What is it?   You may be surprised to know that the mustard family includes broccoli, radishes, turnips, cress, and horseradish!  Mustard leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers are all edible.  The seeds range from yellow and white (Sinapis hirta), which are the mildest, to brown (Brassica juncea), which is found in Mediterranean, African, German, English-style, and Chinese-style mustard, to black (Brassica nigra), the most pungent, which is often used in Indian cuisine.   

Bit 'O History:  The mustard plant has been popular for centuries partially due to its antibacterial properties, its ability to aid in digestion, its high protein content, and its edible oil (containing the chemical thiocynanate) that produces a hotness ranging from mild to biting depending on how it is preparedIt was the Romans who blended acids such as must of grape juice, honey, or vinegar with crushed seeds to form the condiment known as mustard.   Although there have been many theories to how mustard got its name, cutting (diluting) the grain with a must of wine may have given rise to the term mustard and to the phrase “to cut the mustard.”  Mustard was introduced to the United States by the Spaniards around 1768 and became a staple in kitchens during the Middle Ages as it improved the taste of salted meats.  In the 1800’s, R.T. French created a much milder version of yellow mustard that gained popularity as a topping for hot dogs and hamburgers which have continued to be favorite foods in the United States.    
     Today, there is a plethora of flavored mustard in the grocery store.  Just take your pick. Be it garlic, champagne, chilies, or apple-cider flavored, you have choices!  Better yet, make your own stone ground mustard, and be the hit of the dinner table.

Paired With:  Mustard goes well with meat.  Since it is St. Patrick’s Day this week, A Better World Cafe is serving up some mean corned beef.  That is right, a Kobe beef brisket cured in a well-seasoned brine and layered upon rye bread made from scratch by the Elijah Promise’s Culinary School.

Fun Facts:  There is a National Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wisconsin.

Cooking:  Use a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle to crush mustard seeds of choice (white, yellow, brown, black, or a little bit of each); or rather, begin with dry mustard.  Combine an acid such as white wine or apple-cider vinegar to the crushed seeds or water to the mustard powder to make a pasteAdd a bit of salt, pepper, and a dash of allspice to balance the flavor.  Try in potato salad or in a salad dressingBe bold and kick up the spice of diluted dry mustard with some wasabi to make a hot dipping sauce, or better yet, mix up a coarsely ground spread for a corned beef sandwich.

Katz, S. H., & Weaver, W. W. (Eds.).  (2003).  Encyclopedia of Food and Culture (Vol. 3).  (pp. 545-547).  New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Toussaint-Samat, M. (2009).  A History of Food (2nd ed.).  West Sussex, United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Newly Hatched Fundraiser at the Cafe

Easter is right around the corner. Are you still looking for a cute affordable gift for a loved one? If so, here at A Better World Cafe one of our regular volunteers mother has crotcheted one of a kind, hand-made Easter chicks. These handmade chicks come in assorted colors and sizes; the chick also holds one plastic easter egg which you can fill to your liking. These are only $5 dollars and all the proceedings go to A Better World Cafe to help us help others.


What the Easter chick and egg symbolize:

Easter is springtime and spring is the season for renewal of life. That little chick has become the symbol of that new life for many people because the egg is also a sign of the circle of life renewed and the chick comes from the egg.

Monday, March 11, 2013

New video about A Better World Cafe

Gabby Aron is a student at Rutgers University who is an Americorps intern at Elijah's Promise. She recently made this short video about A Better World Cafe. We think she did a great job capturing what we do here - and why we do it.

Seeing our vibrant, healthy foods being eaten by customers young and old all gathered at communal tables is something that warms our hearts.

Take a peek in the dining room on a recent Friday at regular customers like Albert, Francis, Vasna,  Kate, Sarah having lunch with their friends. Volunteers, Nychey, Breanna, Rita, Sandy and Susan helped make the day a success.

Some of the items on the menu that day were chicken or veggie tostadas topped with spiced pumpkin seeds, black bean soup, spicy carrot coconut salad,  vegan carrot cake and of course, the Better World Salad.

Many thanks to Gabby for focusing her attention on our community cafe. We hope to partner with her in the future for more video reports.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Garden Row

Do you garden?  If you do then plant a row or two of one particular plant and share your harvest!   Promote local and sustainable food practices by donating to A Better World Café.  

What is a donation?  Harvest contributions are given charitably and without expectation of receiving free goods and/or service from A Better World Café.

Food safety matters!  We accept fresh fruits and vegetables that are safe to consume.  Produce should be free from bruises and damage.  Perishable produce such as strawberries, mushrooms, or lettuce, needs to be refrigerated when there is a time lapse between garden to café.  While we appreciate the hard work that goes into growing plants, donations exposed to food borne pathogens and chemicals through soil, fertilizers, pesticides, handling, storing, or cross-contamination run the risk of hurting our community.   Be safe; grow, harvest, and handle food responsibly.

Wondering what to plant?  We would be thankful to receive the following seasonable goods: 
Apples, Asparagus, Basil, Beets, Blueberries, Broccoli, Broccoli Rabe, Brussel Sprouts, Carrots, Cauliflower, Cilantro, Cranberries, Eggplant, Fennel
Garlic, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce
Mushrooms, Radish, Raspberries, Rosemary, Rutabaga, Parsnips, Parsley, Peppers, Peas, Peaches, Potatoes, Pumpkin
Spinach, Squash, Strawberries, Swiss Chard, Thyme, Tomatoes, Turnips, Zucchini

Friday, March 8, 2013

Unfortunate News at A Better World Cafe

Here at A Better World Cafe we take pride in serving our community great food. Unfortunately, the coffee maker we use for decaf coffee has taken a turn for the worse. Recently, our regular hot coffee and water machines were generously replaced by the Christopher McGinn law firm in Highland Park. What can we say? We sell a lot of coffee around here! If you'd like to donate a new machine for our decaf coffee; please stop by Better World Cafe or call (732)510-1572 to arrange a donation.

The coffee maker we are looking for is a 42-cup Hamilton Beach commercial coffee maker.

Thank you, we greatly appreciate it.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What we're wishing and hoping for this spring time

Hi everyone! Spring is right around the corner and A Better World Café is currently seeking the following items to continue bringing delicious and nutritious meals your way!

For our spring menu we are looking for the following items: 

Nourishing nuts and seeds such as pistachios, walnuts, sliced almonds, and sunflower seeds.

Dried fruits such as raisins, currants, apricots, figs and dates.

Lovely legumes such as red lentils, split peas, and other dried or canned beans. 

We usually need five to ten pounds at a time to create one of our stellar soups.

We're also looking for some groovy grains, such as oatmeal, barley, polenta, hominy, brown rice, farro, and quinoa. 

And who doesn't love pasta? We would sure love some pastas such as orzo, ditalini, orecchiette, fettucine, farfalle, and lasagna. 

We usually need three to five pounds at a time to make a dish. 

Thanks for all of your help! We hope to see you at the cafe soon!