Chef David Levi will be leading a Nixtamalization workshop at the upcoming Portland Permaculture potluck dinner on January 15.

Nixtamalization is the ancient indigenous American technique of slow cooking mature, dried corn in a powerful alkaline solution, effecting an almost magical change in the flavor, aroma, texture, and nutritional properties of the corn. The process was used by all indigenous American corn eating cultures (think “traditional tortillas!”), and dates back at least three thousand years.

Artisanal & Roger Doiron

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes an article about the overuse/misuse of the word artisanal,

Even real artisans need to lay off the word artisanal for a while. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that you are trying to do the right thing, and we do appreciate your craftsmanship. But do we really need to know that the bread you just made came from wheat sown by your great-great-grandmother Clara and was made with a recipe passed down from generation to generation in a Mason jar stored under the floorboards of your Uncle Ned’s log cabin? (Was that an artisanal log cabin?)

an article about Roger Doiron and Kitchen Gardens International, and a piece about a new locally produced cookbook.

Food Gift Ideas, Slow Food Delegates, Butchering Workshop, Restaurant Inspections, Pirates Cooking

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes a set of holiday food gift ideas,

Think of these items as hostess gifts you can take to all the holiday parties you’ll be attending this year, or as not-so-last-minute stocking stuffers. Some of these ideas are things I’ve written about earlier in the year, while others are brand new items I have given as gifts myself.

The common denominator: I promise you I have tried them all and liked them.

an interview with the Maine delegates who attended the Slow Food conference in Italy in October,

Fellow farmer and Maine delegate Sarah Bostick works for the New Americans Sustainable Agriculture Project at Cultivating Community, where she teaches Maine farming techniques to immigrant farmers from warmer climates. In addition, she runs a permaculture design business.

Bostick went to the conference looking for specific ideas that could help her in her work with immigrant farmers.

a report on a hog butchering workshop scheduled to take place at Local Sprouts in December.

Also in today’s paper is an update on restaurant health inspections,

The Wok Inn, which was shut down after failing four health inspections since April, is among four Portland restaurants to be closed in the past two months for health code violations. The other three — Sapporo Restaurant, The Loft and Mekhong Thai — have reopened after correcting violations.

and a report on a program that’s teaching Portland Pirates players how to cook healthy meals for themselves.

Chris Brown, a 21-year-old forward from Flower Mound, Texas, who calls himself “a sometimes cooker,” credited his ease with a knife to a lifetime of hunting deer. “I’m not a big vegetable person, so all these greens are freaking me out a little bit,” he said.

Brown said he is trying to eat better, and hopes the cooking class will help.

Baker’s Notes #4

Scratch Baking has published issue No. 4 of their in-house magazine,Baker’s Notes.

Our fourth issue, all about cookies, includes a whopping 23 recipes (the most of any Baker’s Notes issue). We are excited to share all of our favorite cookie recipes with you from chocolate chip to shortbread and macaroon to peanut butter. Bakery favorites, sweet memories and big cookies are all within these pages. Who doesn’t love a cookie, right?

Thanksgiving Dessert Ideas

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald gathers some new ideas on Thanksgiving dessert from the pastry chefs at Grace and the Sea Glass (with recipes) as well as from local cheese expert Shannon Tallman.

Whether it’s served right after the big dinner or a couple of hours later, a great dessert after everyone’s come out of their turkey coma is an essential part of the Thanksgiving Day meal.

Here are three ideas for the Thanksgiving table that go beyond the traditional choices and will impress your guests.


All About Cheese

Delicious Musings has published an interview with cheese expert Shannon Tallman about planning a cheese plate, storing, cheese, cheese equipment and cheese books, and her current favorite cheeses.

Cheeses for an intimate holiday dinner cheese plate? **And, would you serve before or after dinner?
You could go either way with whether to serve before or after. I like to have something to snack on if I’m going to spend the afternoon in the kitchen cooking, so putting out a cheese plate for yourself and guests to nosh is never a bad idea. It’s also something that you don’t really have to worry about–like has it gotten cold or too warm.? do you have to refill it?–while you’re off doing other things. One of the loose rules of cheese plating is to work in odd numbers (but no more than 7) as it stands out to the eye on a plate. I tend to work in 3′s to keep the plate focused and to make it easy on myself, but I will occasionally plate up 5 if there are cheeses that I’m really excited about and can’t wait to share.

Shannon is one of the guest speakers from Portland participating in the Winter Food Series at the Captain Fairfield Inn in Kennebunkport.

Chef on Thanksgiving, Vegan Conversion, Thanksgiving Wine

The Press Herald checked in with 10 Southern Maine chefs about what they typically do on their Thanksgiving day off,

Do they hang up their pots at work only to have to take them down again at home? Does their family expect them to create some spectacular spread every year like the ones you see in the Thanksgiving issues of glossy food magazines?

Or are they allowed to chill on the sofa, for once, and watch football while someone else does all the work?

The Food & Dining section also includes an article about WGME news anchor Jeff Peterson’s conversion to a vegan diet,

The change to an all plant-based diet literally happened overnight. He and his wife, Laura, watched the 2011 documentary “Forks Over Knives” in February of this year and it opened their eyes to the health consequences of the standard American diet and the healing powers of vegan food.

“I remember looking at my wife and I thought that would make a good story for News 13,” Peterson recalled.

and Joe Appel’s wine column makes recommendations for your Thanksgiving meal.

You get a twofer today. I want to introduce more people to an importer of exceptional French wines, Cynthia Hurley, and it’s time to think of wines for Thanksgiving. Happily, several of Hurley’s wines I’ve recently drunk are not only remarkable in their own right, they also will make a splendid show at a Thanksgiving table.