Tag Archive for 'eight flavors'

Gastropod: The Spice Curve – From Pepper to Sriracha with Sarah Lohman

I’m on the fabulous Gastropod podcast! Talking about my new book, Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine!

In this episode, Lohman introduces us to the historical and biological secrets behind two of those winning flavors: black pepper and sriracha. Black pepper is such a staple that it’s hard to imagine the American dinner table without it. But we have a grumpy Massachusetts colonial-era merchant and his much friendlier son, as well as the Food Network and a pain-inducing chemical called piperine, to thank for the spice’s ubiquity today.

Sriracha is the latest addition to the American flavor palate, with everything from sriracha-flavored potato chips to sriracha baby food sweeping the market. But how on earth did a Vietnamese spicy sauce used to pep up roast dog become a staple on the shelves of Walmart? Join us this episode as we find out the history and science behind these flavors’ successes—and survive our first, and, we hope, only, black pepper tasting session.

On the podcast, I talk about Martha Washington’s recipe “To Make Pepper Cakes That Will Keep Good in Ye House for a Quarter or Halfe a Year.” If you’d like to read about my experiences with that recipe, and see the finished cakes, go here.

And below is a recipe for a delicious modernized version from my book, Black Pepper Brown Sugar Cookies. I choose to use Sarawak peppercorns from Indonesia, as the pepper has notes of citrus and coriander that lend itself well to desserts. In fact, we notes its sweetness when we taste tested it on Gastropod, and its packaging noted it paired well with sweet creams and fruits. But any black pepper you have will work for this recipe. The result is a chewy cookie, speckled with pretty bits of black pepper.

peppercakes

Black Pepper Brown Sugar Cookies
Recipe modernized from Martha Washington’s A Book of Cookery.

Yield: makes 3 to 4 dozen, depending on the size of the cookie

4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to top the cookies
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon coriander
3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups packed light brown sugar
Zest of one orange
Juice of 1/2 an orange (about 1/4 cup)
2 large eggs

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients and spices.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add butter, sugar, and orange zest.

Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium-high until light in color.

Add the orange juice, and then add eggs one at a time, beating well

after each addition.

  1. With mixer on low, add the dry ingredients slowly. Stop and scrape

the bowl, then continue mixing until combined. Divide dough in half,

wrap in plastic wrap, and chill at least 1 hour and as long as overnight.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a generously floured work surface

and with a floured rolling-pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Using a pepper grinder, crack fresh pepper over the surface of the dough and then

gently press the pepper in with the rolling-pin.

  1. Cut into desired shapes using a cookie cutter or knife. Bake on a

cookie sheet 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet halfway

through, until the cookies are brown around the edges. Allow to cool

completely on wire racks.

 

Listen here, and if you love food, be sure to subscribe to Gastropod on Itunes! And buy my book here!!

A Message for Thanksgiving: What We Can Learn from a Bowl of Chili

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I wanted to publish a brief excerpt from my book I’ve had on my mind a lot recently. It’s the close of my chapter on Chili Powder:

I think it’s important to remember that chili, and the people who first
cooked it, were both Mexican and American. While reading up on the
1967 Chili Cook-Off, I stumbled across an article published the same day
as the competition in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times about a Republican
state senator named Henry Grover. With November elections just around
the corner, Grover outlined several issues he thought the Republicans
should emphasize in their campaigns. Grover felt that schools with a sizable enrollment of Mexican students should offer courses in Spanish and
Mexican history. “The people in New England are tremendously proud of
Plymouth Rock in 1621 [sic],” he said. “Mexicans also have a ‘tremendous
heritage in which they can feel proud.’ ”

When the article was published, Americans were not just thinking
about the coming elections, but about Thanksgiving, too. When I consider
this holiday, it’s easy to see why American culture often focuses on the Colonial hearths of New England: Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock, cranberry
sauce and pumpkin pie. But while the English immigrants celebrated the
end of their first year in Plymouth, Spanish immigrants were establishing
missions in what is today the American Southwest. When Texas became
part of the United States, the people that lived there had a culture that became a part of the American story, just like the Mayflower. A bowl of chili, drawn from Mexican heritage, influenced by the Germans, and made famous in the state of Texas, is a true American dish.