Meatless Monday Night with Dr. Christopher Gardner of Stanford University

how2heroes and Rival Marketing were honored to host Dr. Christopher Gardner and the Stanford Club of Boston Monday night. Dr Gardner, who holds a PhD in Nutrition Science and is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford, gave a dynamic talk on eating healthier and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. He enlightened the group by informing them that eating healthy for health’s may not be enough motivation for some people. But if you bring in social, ethical, cultural and environmental issues of food and food production, food choices become more important and effective.

After Dr. Gardner’s talk, we escorted Dr. Gardner and all the attendess to our Kitchen Studio where we created and served some of our favorite healthy, simple, meatless recipes. how2heroes and Rival CEO Lynne Viera gave a cooking demo on Romesco Sauce and discussed its versatility for serving it with just about anything (on vegetables, shrimp, chicken, etc) much like our other condiment of the evening, Greek Tzatziki (cucumber-yogurt condiment). She discussed how the best way to eat healthy is to use what’s in season and therefore most flavorful. Based on the positive reaction of the guests and the lack of leftovers, we think we were successful in demonstrating that you can eat healthy and fully enjoy your food without adding unhealthy fat and extra calories.

We’d like to thank Stanford alumnus Addie Swartz and Stanford Boston President Brian Mariscal for coordinating the event and inviting Dr. Gardner and such a fun, engaging group of Stanford alumni to our office & kitchen space. We’d also like to thank Chloe Rosen and Brianna Burg for being Lynne’s sous chefs. They were such a great help!


Mushrooom Burgers
adapted from “Super Immunity,” by Joel Fuhrman

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups mushrooms (cremini recommended), finely minced
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1 cup ground walnuts
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 red pepper, finely minced
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup fresh spinach, sautéed in water and squeezed dry
  • freshly ground pepper & salt to taste

How-to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small saute pan, cook onions and garlic in 1/4 cup water until onion is translucent (about 3-5 minutes
  3. Add mushrooms and peppers, cover and cook until tender (about 3-5 minutes)
  4. Add spinach and fresh herbs and cook until wilted (1 minute
  5. Add salt & pepper to taste
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together water and tomato paste and add to mushroom mixture
  7. Combine oatmeal and walnut in a large bowl
  8. Take mushroom mixture from pan and pour into large bowl. Mix all ingredients together with your hands or a wooden spoon and form into burgers
  9. Bake mushroom burgers for 10-15 minutes each side or until very firm on the outside

Serve with your condiment of choice. We used Tzatziki (Greek yogurt & cucumber spread) and Romesco (Spanish roasted vegetable & almond condiment). Mixture can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

Staycation Cooking Series Big Success

In March, you can’t help but want to hybernate. It’s cold, dreary and you’ve had it up to here with snow. That’s why we and our sister company, food marketers Rival Marketing, decided to have a series of international cooking classes that would enable people to “get away” simply be venturing into our kitchen studio, tying on an apron and gathering around the countertop to learn delicious Irish, Cuban, Mexican and Greek dishes. Our guests chefs included Todd Heberlein of Volante Farms, John Verlinden of Mucho Gusto, Amanda Escamilla of Tex Mex Eats and Johnny Diamantopoulos of All Star Sandwich Bar. They were all fantastic and everyone attending had so much fun. All left with new techniques and recipes in their cooking arsenal and as you would imagine, nobody left hungry. We would to sincerely thank all our chefs for taking the time to come to our studio and share their knowledge. We’d also like to thank all our guests. Below are some photo montages from all four classes.

Did you miss our Staycation series? We invite you to join us for our next exciting class on TUESDAY, MAY 21ST. Our favorite fishmonger, Carl Fantasia of New Deal Fish Market, will be teaching fish and seafood techniques - “Fillet, Shuck & Slurp.” Click here for details and to buy tickets!

Wind Chill Warmers

The temperatures are really beginning to take a dive and your layers of wool and fleece can only do so much to keep you warm. A big hot bowl of soup or stew is really what you need to defrost and feed your soul. Your house will smell incredible for days. And you can freeze the extra for the next cold spell. Here are a few of our favorite stick-to-your-ribs winter meals. We invite you to come in out of the cold and into your warm kitchen and try your favorites and welcome your feedback.

Stout Beef Stew
The Irish have a way of brilliantly incorporating their beer into hearty pub-style dishes. This Beef Stew is our favorite with a rich gravy and tender beef. Don’t forget a piece of crusty bread for dipping.

Spicy Chicken & Rice Flu Chaser Soup (pictured at right)
One of the worst years ever for the flu and we’re not out of the woods yet. “Soup lady” Marjorie Druker has put the best ingredients and lots of love into this

Hungarian Goulash
Ildiko shares her family recipe for goulash and shows you how to make easy dumplings with one of our favorite gadgets (although you can use a knife) – a spaetzle maker.

Beef Bourguignon (pictured above)
A French classic braised stew made with herb-marinated beef and winter’s best friend, red wine. We find this dish tastes better the next day, and the day after that…

Miso Soup
Make a nice healthy Japanese lunch at home. Start with this simple Miso Soup and accompany it with what we’ve found to be the easiest way to make your own sushi at home – Pom Pom Sushi

Stay warm everyone!

Farm to Shaker Cocktails

By this point, pretty much everyone has heard of Farm to Table which is all about taking full advantage of your delicious in-season farm-fresh ingredients at your dinner table. But why limit yourself to meals? We think farm fresh ingredients in your cocktails is an equally great idea. Recently we took a walk around our local Farmers’ Market in Central Square, Cambridge and found lots of herbs and fresh fruit to mix into our Farm to Shaker how2 videos featuring thirsty staff members Carolyn Waldron-Parr, Jeff Fritts and myself. We also hit up my backyard garden for some herbs.

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We were most inspired by perfectly ripe and delicate raspberries, succulent peaches, sweet watermelon, fragrant thyme and a twist on the classic, Thai basil. Following are the refreshing drinks we created. We hope you enjoy trying them and sipping them on your back porch, deck or wherever your cocktail hour finds you. And we hope you experiment on your own using some of the basic techniques we’ve shown.

Farm to Table Cocktails pictured left to right above:
•  Jeff’s Raspberry Thyme Rickey
•  Lynne’s Watermelon Flip
•  Carolyn’s Peach Cobbler Cocktail

Other Garden-Inspired Beverages you might enjoy:
Tarragon Soda
Basil Lemonade
Raspberry Mojito
Blackberry Sparkler

Fruit Infusions & Cocktails:
•  Raspberry Vodka
•  Raspberry Summer Crush
•  Blueberry Gin
•  Blueberry Thrill

For more ideas, view this week’s how2heroes newsletter.

Cheers, all!

Our New Kitchen Studio is Complete!!

We have been producing cooking videos since 2007 and have created over 3,000 videos for our award-winning video cooking website, how2heroes as well as for clients with our sister company, Rival Marketing. It has been a dream of ours for several years to build our own in-house kitchen studio to produce quality content in a more controlled environment with an adjacent photography studio. After extensive planning and a relatively quick construction phase with the best contractor in the business, CAFCO construction, our studio is now complete and ready to roll.

Video content is critical these days for bringing food brands to life, differentiating from the competition and generating ad revenue on sites and foot traffic in store. Let us help you with your video content strategy! Visit the Rival Kitchen Studio page for more info. To experience the process that goes into building out a kitchen studio, be sure to watch the timelapse video featured on the Rival site, using over 3,000 photos that were shot over the course of construction.

Best of 2011 and “Hero of the Year”

We’ve filmed and featured so many incredibly delicious dishes, fascinating farm field trips and creative techniques this year. It’s almost impossible to pick favorites, but there are a few that have stuck with us throughout the year. Below is the list of Staff Picks for 2011 we hope you’ll enjoy. But before we unveil our favorite videos, we wanted to announce our HERO OF THE YEAR.

Each year, we chose a hero who has inspired us and our audience in and out of the kitchen. And of course someone who has done a bang-up job on the videos we created with them. The recipe for success on shoots is: 1) timely & accurate recipe delivery – check; 2) mise en place and swapouts ready to go – check; 3) dish incredibly delicious – check; and 4) hero incredibly easy to work with and overall “good people” – check! While they are many that fit the bill, there is a clear stand-out this year we all here at how2heroes agree on:  AMANDA ESCAMILLA!

How do we love Amanda? Let us count the ways. She comes to life in the kitchen creating truly authentic Tex Mex food made from scratch and with deep love and affection for Mexican cuisine and local Massachusetts ingredients. Everything she makes we want to go home and make the next day and we talk about it for weeks. Fans have come to know and love Amanda as well and are always asking what she’ll do next. From Tortillas to Fajitas, to a fresh Ham w/ Citrus Glaze, thanks to Amanda, you can learn how to make genuine Tex Mex fare by watching all her videos on this very site. Last but not least, Amanda is probably THE nicest person you will ever meet. She’s ALWAYS in a good mood, eternally optimistic and positive even at the crack of dawn on her daily runs (follow her on Facebook and you’ll see her daily photo postings). And in true Amanda spirit, she’s always willing to jump in and help whenever she can. We are thankful to have met her and for all of you to get the chance to get to know her and her recipes. Check out Amanda’s 17(!) how-to videos. And next time you want a bright and lively catered dinner or hands-on cooking class, contact Tex Mex Eats! Keep an eye on Amanda in 2012. We think she’s onto something big!

how2heroes 2011 Staff Video Picks

Kate’s Pick
Video:  Chicken Tortilla Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing
Hero: Cathy Walthers, author of “Raising the Salad Bar”
“I love this salad all year round! It’s so easy and delicious. A perfect mix of bright tangy flavors and an incredible crunchy texture that you’ll have trouble saying no to for second and even third helpings!”

Kelsey’s Pick
Video: Gingerbread Pancakes with Vanilla Cream
Hero:  Eli Dunn, Beehive Cafe
Kelsey is on vacation but she came back from this shoot raving about these pancakes and saying they were the best thing she ate all year. Considering the hundreds of shoots she went on and the amount of things she’s tried, her seal of approval on this recipe is good enough for me.

Dave’s Pick
Video: How to Cook with Pie Irons
Hero:  Carolyn Waldron-Parr, how2heroes
“How did I not know what a pie iron is? I’m always looking for easy meals to make while camping and ways to avoid doing dishes. The pie iron seems to meet both criteria pretty well! I’m looking forward to experimenting with different ingredients now that I’ve got the basics down.

Andrew’s Pick
Video:  Tequila-BBQ Chicken Tacos with Peach Salsa
Hero:  Brian Poe, Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake
“What’s better than barbecue, tequila, and tacos? Not much, so luckily this dish has it all! It’s spicy, it’s sweet and so savory! Trust me. It’s impossible to have just one!

Renata’s Pick
Video:  Sweet Potato Pancakes
Hero:  Eric Palilunas, Trident Booksellers & Cafe
“Lynne brought sweet potato pancakes to the office early this year. It became my favorite immediately. I make it for a weekend breakfast, especially now — Christmastime.”

Carla’s Pick
Video:  South Texas Pork Tamales
Hero: Amanda Escamilla, Tex Mex Eats
“I absolutely love tamales! It reminds me a lot of the taste of an arepa (Venezuelan corn ‘breads’.) This video is very thorough and you can tell Amanda totally knows her stuff. It’s a fun recipe to make with friends and family and you can get creative with the fillings.”

Carolyn’s Pick
Video: Maque Choux
Hero: Heather Tolmie, Culinary Underground
“I think I like this dish so much because of its depth of flavor. First you experience the light crunch & pop of freshly sautéed corn, onions & bell pepper that have been simmering in heavy cream. Then the heat & spice of the dish cleanses your pallet preparing you for another bite.”

Jeff’s Pick
Video: Corned Beef
Hero: Tony Maws, Craigie on Main
“I’ve always wanted to make a killer corned beef – and this is a super simple and delicious recipe. Plus, once it’s done I have lunch for a week!”

Lynne’s Pick
Video: Growing & Harvesting Hops
Hero: Gene L’Etoile, Four Star Farms
“I am a big fan of the Farm Field trips that open our minds to the source of ingredients. We’ve all enjoyed a frosty beer but how many of us have seen how hops are grown & harvested? It’s incredible to see how the hops climb up to the sky in such a short period of time. The passion and commitment of the Four Star Farms folks to produce a quality product comes through in Gene L’Etoile’s knowledgeable and sincere delivery. And I have to give full props to our crew for their dedication as they needed to make 2 long trips out to western Massachusetts to capture the beginning and end of the growing season to give you the full story.”

Amber’s Pick
Video: Grapefruit Vodka
Hero: Dave Anastasi, Rival Marketing
“Anyone can buy flavored vodka off the store shelves, but making your own is much tastier – not to mention more fun! This recipe took the intimidation out of infusing vodka and was a hit with the many friends I gifted it to.”

Khalilah’s Pick
Video: Buttermilk Pie
Hero:  Tie Lewis, Glutenus Minimus “Dessert has to be more than a sugary treat for me. It has to come with a good story.  Tie’s Buttermilk Pie is an homage to her grandmother, who she credits for her love of baking. With only a handful of ingredients, this is a minimalist pie, and it’s got me covered on tangy and sweet. I like it warm out the oven with a big dollop of lemon curd.”

Jason’s Pick
Video: Vegetable Minestrone
Hero: Marjorie Druker (former Hero of the Year!)
“This soup is so packed with vegetables.  It’s like a full meal but also pairs great with a perfect grilled cheese sandwich.  Everything Marjorie makes is made with love, but you can really feel her love and passion come through in this delicious soup!”

We’d love to know what your favorite videos are and what you’d like to see in 2012. Please let us know and thanks for tuning in!

Holiday Sweepstakes

This season’s crop of cookbooks boasts a few familiar faces here at how2heroes. A number of the excellent food stories and cookbooks published this season come from a wealth of talent and run the gamut from desserts to oysters. We wanted to share in the celebration of our author “heroes” with a Holiday Sweepstakes Giveaway. Here’s what we’ve got for you:

The grand prize winner gets some pretty swanky swag including the Oyster Pack & the Cookbook Pack. Two second prize winners get the Cookbook Pack.

Oyster Pack

  • Shucked by Erin Byers Murray + Island Creek Oysters Gift Pack (Shucking Knife, Gloves & Hat as well as 3 dozen fresh oysters, delivered to your door)

Cookbook Pack

  • Wild Flavors: One Chef’s Transformative Year Cooking from Eva’s Farm by Didi Emmons
  • Notes from a Maine Kitchen by Kathy Gunst
  • Rosie’s All-Butter, Cream-Filled, Sugar-Packed Baking Book by Judy Rosenberg
  • Cucina Povera by Pamela Sheldon Johns
  • Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck
  • how2heroes apron

Feeling lucky? Enter here and in the meantime here’s the dish on our author “heroes”:

Erin Byer Murray left a glitzy career in online editing and spent just over a year at the Island Creek Oyster Farm learning the ins and outs of the oyster business. She’s recounted her experience in memoir, Shucked. Check out Erin’s tour of the Island Creek Oyster Farm and watch her whip up some seriously delicious Berg’s Baked Oysters.

Didi Emmons has a few cookbooks under her belt, including her latest book which chronicles the year she spent with Eva Sommaripa, Boston’s herb gardener to the chefs. She also runs Take Back the Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that teaches healthy eating and cooking habits as a means to combat health disparities AND (yes, there’s more) Didi is an amazing cook. She’s shared some delicious garden based recipes with us including this Herbed Egg Salad. Friday we’ll be filming with her again – 2 recipes from her new book. Stay tuned!

Looking for an authority on local, seasonal and organic? Meet Kathy Gunst. She’s a cookbook author (she’s been writing cookbooks with Stonewall Kitchen for ages!) and radio personality who pulls from her Maine garden for cooking and eating inspiration.  She also raises organic chickens and can teach you a few things about butterflying a chicken and grilling it, Tuscan style. Look for her Roast Ham and addictive Pumpkin Seed Brittle videos – coming very soon!

Judy Rosenberg, Boston’s doyenne of chocolate and owner of Rosie’s Bakery doesn’t have to do much to convince you her cookies, brownies and bars are some of the best in town. Just try her Double Whammies and see why it’s an ode to brownies and chocolate chip cookies all wrapped up in one irresistible bar.

Over the big blue sea and in the hills of Tuscany, Pamela Sheldon Johns is living the dream. Between running a successful cooking school out of her farm and writing cookbooks championing the rich traditions of Italian food, Pamela made some time to share a few recipes with us. Check out out her Ricciarelli, a Sienese style almond cookie and  Ceci Stufati, a chickpea stew, for a taste of Italy.

Maria Speck’s love of whole grains led to the publication of her book, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals which was recently selected as one of the New York Times’ notable cookbooks of 2011. Combining keen research skills with an insatiable interest in culinary traditions, Maria’s work had lead her to write pieces for a number of top notch publications like SAVEUR and Gastronomica. She’s shared some recipes that use these ancient grains with us including, Bulgar w/ Butter Almonds & Cinnamon and Wheatberry Fools w/ Grand Marnier Figs.

So if you love cookbooks (reads them like novels, comb though them page-by-page, with a stack on your nightstand) or have some cooks on your holiday gift list, enter our Holiday Sweepstakes today. Good luck and Happy Holidays from how2heroes!

A Tuscan Travelogue

Is Tuscany everything you hear it is? Rolling cypress-lined hills with fields of grapevines and groves of olives at every turn? Yes. Towering hill towns, each filled with history, simple but delicious food, and scenic vistas of the valleys below? Check. Incredible shopping with artisanal products you never have enough room for in your suitcase  — olive oil, truffles, confections, leather goods, scarves, clothes, shoes? Indeed. Should you rent a car to truly experience Tuscany? Absolutely. Will a Garmin GPS device help you navigate? Absolutely not. Throw that thing out the window and have a friend be your co-pilot with an iPhone and follow that green dot on Google maps. Old school physical maps wouldn’t hurt either for those times when you lose the satellite signal (not that often but it’ll save you a few missed turns).

Following are some of the highlights of my trip. I doubt that you will go wrong no matter where you go in Tuscany but because there are so many options, it might be helpful to have at least a few things in mind when you get on the plane. We were a bit overwhelmed before we went but just having a few ideas in our pocket made the trip easier and the other discoveries easily presented themselves to us. What we were surprised to find is that almost everyone spoke English. And those who don’t, you find a way to communicate. Italians seem to like Americans. Yah!

We started the trip in Firenze, aka Florence. Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance. Michelangelo, Botticelli and Da Vinci all created their masterpieces here. Be sure to visit the Ufizi Gallery, one of the most beautiful museums in Europe where you can see Botticelli’s stunning Birth of Venus. Michelangelo’s David is housed at the Accademia di Belle Arti and is definitely worth a special visit. And of course don’t forget to visit the Duomo, the beautiful cathedral with stunning views of Florence. We were only in Florence for a couple days so that’s about all you’ll get in if you’re there for a short time. There are many other cultural options should you stay longer.

Fashion designers Roberto Cavalli and Guccio Gucci are famous modern day residents. And you know what that means. Great shopping! We ran ourselves ragged hitting the shops as well as the open San Lorenzo Market which is a must visit – mostly leather goods and scarves. Just be careful of the knock-offs from China and be brave. Negotiate!

Behind the San Lorenzo Market (and a little tricky to find) is the Central Market. Now we’re talking! The Central Market is an indoor food market filled with vendors selling cheese, meat, pasta, wine, olive oil, mushrooms and more. There are also several places to eat. My former intern, Tess Gittleman, tipped us off to Nerbone as a good lunch spot there. Everything is made from scratch – of course. You stand in line, grab your food, then sit at tight tables and dig in. They were serving risotto, tripe and pasta but what truly shined was their slow cooked beef sandwiches with 2 sauces on top – a spicy red sauce, and a bright, green sauce. Make sure you get both sauces on there!

I’ll give you 3 more food highlights in Florence. The rest you will just stumble on yourself. Vivoli – best gelato. Pick the size of cup you want at the register and pay then get in line and choose your flavor. Highly recommend the hazelnut. It’s life changing. For dinner, try  La Giostra. While there are a lot of Americans eating there, the food is 100% authentic Italian and there is a story about the owner being a prince which is an interesting tidbit. The main waiter is a character you won’t miss. He looks like a Pirates of the Caribbean extra with 30 bracelets up one arm, big rings on his fingers and multiple necklaces. Entertaining for sure. Highlights of the meal include octopus ceviche and rabbit roulade. Another great dinner spot is Buca Del’Orafo right near the Ponte Vecchio (a bridge over the Arno river, riddled with touristy jewelry shops). One of the chefs is a young American girl named Karly who is a cousin to our former intern, Molly Siciliano. Food Network’s Giada de Laurentiis gave the restaurant a great review in her blog — “Best meal ever.”

My last note on Florence is if you are looking for a lovely affordable place to stay, try the Monna Lisa. This is my second time staying there and I loved it both times. It has a lot of character, a lovely outdoor garden, beautiful breakfast buffet in the morning and a quaint little bar for a nightcap. It is centrally located, less than 5 minutes from the Duomo. Florence is a very walkable city (which is a good thing because there’s no subway).

When we hit the road from Florence to our destination in Buon Convento which is 2 hours south of Florence, we decided to stop in San Gimignano. We had heard it was beautiful and it was a nice break for us to get out of the car and get some air. San Gimignano is a medieval walled town with lots of shops (a little on the touristy side but well, we’re tourists) and stunning views. It was also our introduction to Tuscany’s obsession with “cianghale“  (wild boar). We saw many a stuffed wild boar in the shops. We bought some cianghale salame with pistachios and it was excellent. Later in the week, we had cianghale ragu with pici (Tuscany’s signature hand rolled spaghetti) which was also amazing. If you see cianghale on the menu in Tuscany, order it!

We arrived in Buon Convento a little before dinner. We stayed at a vineyard called Casali di Bibbiano which is actually just outside of Buon Convento in Bibbiano. Alberto Guadagnini is the owner of Casali as well as several restaurants in Philadelphia and Florida. He was a very gracious  and accommodating host and helped arrange one of my bucket list activities – truffle hunting! The property is beautiful as you would imagine. Alberto makes several red wines and one white – all of which we had unlimited access to at dinner every night. He also makes grappa, strong stuff made from  grape skins. Beware. You can easily just sit by the pool with a glass of wine and gaze at the scenery. Or you can take a nice hilly walk into town and grab a life changing ganache-filled croissant or shop for hand-knitted scarves. Chef Italo Marone made us stunning meals every night with whatever was available from the market or in his garden on the property. Every time I asked him what was in a dish, I realized it was just simple, high quality ingredients. Get to know Italo and watch him whip up an easy Barley Salad with Pesto. So good! I can’t wait to make it myself.

So let me tell you about the truffle hunting. If I wanted to go, Alberto told me I had to meet him at 6:30am. I think he thought I’d decline but hell no, I was going! My friend, Melinda, was a trooper and came along as well. We drove into town and met up with a third generation truffle hunter and his trusty, adorable truffle dog. We then drove to a truffle reserve where we started sniffing out truffles. Truffles grow underground which is why you need a dog to sniff them out. They used to use pigs but apparently the pigs were eating the truffles. Can’t say that I blame them. It was so much fun to watch the dog dig wildly with both paws, stick his head in a hole then let his owner dig a little further to see if there was a precious white truffle in the hole. After two hours of hiking around, no white truffles. However, just as we were about to give up, resting on the surface…a small black truffle! Looks like a big piece of dirt. Amazing they’re able to find these things. Next time you have truffles with your meal, don’t balk at the sky high prices. It’s justified.

While there are too many highlights of the trip to count, personally my visit to Montelpuciano to film cookbook author Pamela Sheldon Johns was the highlight. Pam is originally from the United States. About 20 years ago, she started visiting Tuscany and teaching classes. One day she and her husband (an artist) decided they would move to Tuscany. And now they live on a beautiful farm, Poggio Etrusco, with their daughter, that they run as an inn and have been chosen as one of the best cooking class experiences in Tuscany by Food and Wine magazine. Pam is a local now. When we visited, it was olive harvest time. She had some folks harvesting the olives (Melinda and I got to pick a few – fun!) and spoke beautiful Italian to them. They joined us for lunch at the farm table in her dining room which was delightful. Also joining us was her daughter’s “adopted grandfather” Virio Neri who is featured in her book. A charming man. My own regret is that I didn’t stay there for a couple of days to spend more time with Pam and to learn more great recipes! Strongly recommend that you do if you go.

Pamela’s house could be a movie set for an authentic Tuscan home and her kitchen is adorable. As you’ll see in her videos, she has a wood burning oven! Every little pot, pan, gadget, bottles of olive oil (they’ve already pressed 2900 kilos this year!) & jam perfectly fill out the kitchen you want to hang out in with a nice cappucino (which we did). Pam has a new book out called Cucina Povera. It is one of my favorite cookbooks in a long time. All of the recipes are peasant recipes that have lived on in Tuscan kitchens and now you can make in your own. Each recipe has a story which makes you want to make the dish even more. Pam and I selected two dishes for her to make that we could film. One is Ceci Stufati (Stewed Chickpeas) – a simple, soul satisfying side dish or add pasta and make it a meal. The other is Ricciarelli, almond cookies indigenous to the Siena region of Tuscany. While this is typically a very complicated cookie to make, Pam came up with a simplified version that’s very close to the original. Pam is a wealth of knowledge as well as a warm and wonderful person. She is so passionate about the food she cooks and it comes through on camera. I hope that you enjoy the videos as much as I enjoyed filming them. Pam will be in New York and Connecticut this month for a short book tour. Go and meet her if you have a chance. Or pick up a copy of Cucina Povera for yourself or a gift. It’s a wonderful cookbook.

While there were many more culinary highlights to the trip, I think you get the idea and that if you are planning a trip, the highlights I have featured will be helpful to you. Feel free to comment below if you have any questions or email me at lynne@how2heroes.com. Buon appetito!

I want to thank my longtime (not old) friends Lisa LaFrance and Melinda Warren for allowing me to mix business with pleasure and thanks to Melinda for standing in as how2heroes staff photographer. I’d also like to thank my new friends, wine writer JoAnn Actis-Grande (who introduced me to Pam) and Fa Lundeen, for joining us on our Tuscan adventures.

Get the Flash Player to see this player. Watch and see truffle hunting in action.

Behind the Scenes of our Creature Feature

On a bright and sunny Monday, the how2heroes team set off for the ‘burbs to go to the dark side and shoot our annual Halloween video.  There is a tradition here at how2heroes to capitalize on Halloween’s penchant for costumes, elaborate makeup and gratuitous use of dry ice by including all three in our Halloween videos.  Have a look at the Witch’s Brew video or Zombie Makes Zombies and you will find costumes, make up and dry ice present in generous amounts.  But frivolities aside, the creation of a video, from start to finish, relies on the creative talents of  the whole team.

This year we questioned what to do with all the candy left over from Halloween and decided to go the cold & creamy route and made an ice cream terrine that moonlights as creepy tombstones.  Coming up with a recipe was easy enough, but figuring out what candy to use required lots of dreadful testing. Imagine, sitting around munching on Snicker’s and Butterfingers, trying to figure out what candy would work best for the recipe. It truly is the worst sort of torture. After a few trial runs and a group taste testing, we arrive at a conclusion and a final recipe is decided upon. Then we shoot the video.

The set is created, the lights turned on, we are mic-ed up.  We shoot the video with minimal retakes. It’s a testament to the staff who create an environment that is simultaneously professional and light-hearted making it really easy to be on camera in a casual and relaxed way.

We wrap up the shoot, the videos go into post production and Halloween comes and goes with a whole mess of candy left over, candy we hope you use in this year’s Halloween recipe for Frozen Frankenstones.

Ending on a high note – Michael Leviton at the Farmers’ Market

We’re sad to say that today was our last day at the Cambridge Center Farmers’ Market for the season. We have had an amazing summer hosting a wide range of talented chefs from the Boston area who have shown week after week how to turn fresh, local produce into simple, delicious dishes. Thank you to David Gilson of the The Herb Lyceum for inviting us to participate again this year. If you missed any of the demos, through the magic of video, you can still watch them. Check out our Farmers’ Market section: http://how2heroes.com/videos/farmers-market

Today was a great day to wrap things up. Gorgeous weather, bountiful pickings and a live demo with Chef Michael Leviton of Kendall Square’s new hot spot Area Four. Michael toured the market for his ingredients before “not” cooking for the crowd – a no-cook Israeli Tomato Salad whose secret ingredient, sumac, delivers a bright lemony punch to the salad. Try it today while everything is at its peak of ripeness! Recipe below. Video up by Friday. Thank you to Chef Leviton. Great job!

Israeli Tomato Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For Vinaigrette (makes 1.5 cups):

  • 1½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 4 oz canola oil
  • 4 oz olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 3 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp toasted & ground sumac

For Salad:

  • 1 lb ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 small cucumbers (2 Armenian or 1 English recommended because they have less seeds), cut to ¼” half moons
  • 2 roasted red peppers (buy already roasted or roast yourself – how-to below or watch this video)
  • 4 oz Picholine olives, pitted & halved
  • 1/2 red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • handful of Italian parsley leaves
  • 4 oz sumac vinaigrette
  • salt & pepper to taste

How-To:

For Vinaigrette:

  1. Add Dijon mustard to a bowl and slowly whisk in the oils
  2. Stir in rest of ingredients and put aside

For Salad

  1. Roast bell peppers over open flames until charred all over (or buy peppers already roasted)
  2. Place in a bowl and cover tighly; let stand 10 minutes
  3. Rinse under cold water to remove skins.  Cut to small squares, removing seeds
  4. Mix peppers remaining ingredients in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste
  5. Dress with vinaigrette.  Serve immediately