What I did at Fancy Food Show Summer (Camp) this year
My sixth consecutive Summer Fancy Food Show working Chronicle’s booth left me feeling for the first time like it was a mini-version of the sleepaway summer camp I went to as a kid. Like setting off for Camp Takajo way back when, I anticipate it greatly, get to see lots of old friends, and get to make new connections—without camp’s strenuous sports activities—all around insanely delicious foods!
Every summer this huge trade show hosts tens of thousands of people. It features countless specialty and gourmet food products from, no exaggeration, all over the world. Non-edible products like Chronicle’s food and drink books and gift items are also present since retailers look for cool items to sell in their stores alongside the latest cheeses, vinegars, chocolates, etc…
The show’s always taken place in New York until this year (due to New York’s convention center being under renovation). Instead, over the past three days, Fancy Food (what “regulars” call it) was held in Washington DC (and it’s in DC next year too).
I was lucky enough to have two cookbook authors, Domenica Marchetti (@domenicacooks) and Mark Klebeck (@Toppot), come to our booth on Monday to meet show attendees. They made their visits extra special by offering a sampling of foods taken from their respective books.
Domenica made the recipe from The Glorious Pasta of Italy featured below just before arriving (she’s a local). It was absolutely delectable—I must make it when I get home.
And Mark went above and beyond—flying in from Seattle the night before with 80 decadent treats to celebrate the upcoming release of the Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts cookbook (check out preview recipe below!).
If you leave me a comment or question about all this fancy foodishness, or what you think about the recipes below, you’ll be eligible to win one of the copies of these two books that I’ll be giving to two randomly selected lucky posters next week (+ the Top Pot book isn’t even out til September!).
Another year’s Fancy Food “Camp” is over and now I’m back to “school” (work). But, just like when I was a kid, I’m filled with perfect memories.
Master Recipe: Basic Spice Cake Doughnuts
We think the best way to eat cake doughnuts is plain, as soon as they’re cool enough to enjoy, but everyone has their favorites. Try tossing them in sugar or cinnamon sugar when they’re still piping hot, or cool, them, then transfer them to a small paper bag filled with a few cups of confectioners’/icing sugar and coat them a few at a time. Glaze them when still warm, but make sure they’re cool before applying any icings.
Time: 1 hour active time, plus glazing or icing
Makes: 1 dozen doughnuts and few holes
Equipment: Doughnut cutter (or 2 3/4 in/7 cm and 1 1/4 in/3 cm round cutters)
2 3/4 cups/315 g cake/soft-wheat flour, plus more for rolling and cutting
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp iodized salt
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2/3 cup/130 g sugar
2 tbsp shortening/vegetable lard (trans-fat-free preferred)
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup/165 ml whole milk
Canola oil, for frying
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg together into a medium bowl, and set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the sugar and shortening/vegetable lard for 1 minute on low speed, until sandy. Add the egg and egg yolk, then mix for 1 more minute on medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if necessary, until the mixture is light colored and thick.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three separate additions, alternating with the milk, mixing until just combined on low speed each time. The dough will be very sticky, like very wet cookie/biscuit dough.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and refrigerate, covered directly with plastic wrap/cling film, for 1 hour (or up to 24 hours).
Using a candy thermometer to measure the temperature, heat oil (at least 2 in/5 cm deep) in a deep fryer, large pot, or high-sided frying pan over medium heat to 370°F/185°C. Gently roll the chilled dough out on a counter or cutting board floured with about 1/4 cup/30 g cake/soft-wheat flour to 1/2 in/12 mm thick, or about 8 in/20 cm in diameter, flouring the top of the dough and the rolling pin with another 2 tbsp flour, or as necessary to prevent sticking—this is a soft, wet dough. Cut into as many doughnuts and holes as possible, dipping the cutter into flour before each cut. Fold and gently reroll the dough to make extra holes (working with floured hands makes the dough less sticky), and cut again.
Shake any excess flour off the doughnuts before carefully adding them to the hot oil a few at a time, taking care not to crowd them. Once the doughnuts float, fry for about 60 seconds per side, or until deep golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels/absorbent paper.
Gemelli with Fresh Herbs and Chopped Olives
I like to use an earthy mix of garden herbs in this sauce. You can choose your favorite mix, or even a single herb that you are particularly fond of; just be sure to use lots of it.
Makes 4 servings
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, lightly crushed
3 tbsp mixed chopped fresh herbs (I use oregano, rosemary, and thyme)
1 cup/115 g coarsely chopped pitted Gaeta or Kalamata olives, plus 2 tbsp brine from the olives
21/2 lb/1.2 kg plum tomatoes, seeded and grated
Kosher or fine sea salt
Freshly black pepper
1 lb/455 g gemelli, fusilli, or other short, sturdy pasta
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously.
While the water is heating, warm the oil and garlic in a large frying pan placed over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the garlic releases its fragrance. Sprinkle in the herbs and the olives and brine and raise the heat to medium. Stir to combine and sauté for about 1 minute, then pour in the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high and simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes have been reduced to a creamy sauce. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.
Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir to separate, and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink, reserving about 1 cup/240 ml of the cooking water.
Transfer the pasta to the frying pan and gently toss the pasta and sauce until thoroughly combined, adding a splash or two of water if necessary to loosen the sauce. Transfer the dressed pasta to warmed shallow individual bowls and serve immediately.
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