Category Archives: Food Photography

Lunch at the Ws

There are meals you want to be invited to and there are entire days so legendary that you want to be a part of them. The Wisniewskis’ home is one of those havens where one actually questions where they are. The amount of pampering and pleasure one gets from this place is just unheard of where I’m from, and will remain one of the highlights of my recent trip to Manila.

The twist they create on local dishes seems to open the diner’s eyes and make them nod agreeably, saying, “Why didn’t I think of that?” The overload of fresh colors and aromas only complimented this kitchen that was built for entertaining.

Salads, ceviche, summer rolls.

This was the intention of our hosts, of course. Hotel and restaurant management team Anabel and Tom Wisniewski of Raintree Philippines, a family-owned business that manages four restaurants in Makati (Museum Cafe, Chelsea Market Cafe, Mr. Jones, and Momo), surely spoil their guests in line with their training. The food was superb, the service staff was attentive, and after the long meal they offered massages and a dip in their backyard pool and waterfall.

I still cannot believe that was in Manila.

Dishes from that wonderful afternoon:

Fresh lumpia with peanut sauce @ Wisniewskis

Fresh lumpia with peanut sauce

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How To Make Sopressata (Part 2)

And now we begin the process: 
John soaks the casing for thirty seconds. 
The wet casing is then placed over the stuffing tube, 
gripping it firmly while stepping on the pedal to begin the stuffing process.
As the stuffing comes out, the sausage is held firmly so as to avoid any loose areas or air pockets.
The stuffing is halted when the sausage reaches a length of about two feet.
Frank Piazza throws the extra meat at the end of the sausage into a bin 
in order to secure the end with a tie.
A student assists in tying the end, affixing a label tag in the process.
A link is created in the middle of the log using a plastic tie.
Holes are punched into the sausage with a punching tool.
Holes are created all over the sausage to ensure adequate drying during the aging process.
(See enlarged picture by clicking on the image.)
A student helps hang the sausage to begin the dry curing process.
They are arranged in rows alongside oak barrels used for wine.
 The sopressata are cured for a period of 3-4 weeks, or until 30% of its weight has evaporated.
After that period, they may either be consumed or stored in vacuum-sealed bags for later consumption.
We had some after the class before a lunch of whole roasted pig.
On the left are the hot sausages, and on the right the garlic sausages, 
sliced thinly as curing has created a very tough consistency.
Read here for the Whole Roasted Pig (coming soon)

How To Make Sopressata (Part 1)

You learn something new everyday. I don’t think I’ve had a day where I didn’t learn at least one thing. I’ve also lost count of many days where I learned something I never imagined I would, and that makes me feel very lucky.

One of these days was a recent Saturday when I was fortunate enough to be invited to a friend’s company-sponsored Sopressata Making Class at the Piazza Brothers Wine Room in Staten Island, a place I wrote about here.

Sopressata (or supersata, soppressata, also sobrassada in Spain), is an Italian dry cured salami traditionally made of pork rejects and considered in the old days as “poor man’s sausage.”  When families slaughtered their pigs in the fall, the unwanted parts of the carcass such as the head and leftover meats were seasoned and cured as sausages to last through the winter.

As for its etymology, sopressata is from the Italian “pressare” meaning “to press,” referring to the old method pressing the liquid out of the sausage between two planks of wood weighted by a heavy object on top.

The sopressata we made that day was not from meat rejects but just regular coarsely ground pork shoulder. They came in tubs of two flavors, hot garlic and hot, and was seasoned using the powders below.

John Piazza, one of the Piazza brothers, introduced the process of making sausage to our group along side his brothers Freddie and Frank, who walked us through the process step by step.

Freddie (left) and John (right) beside the sausage maker machine before the process started.
The Sausage Maker
Sausage-making materials. Wire cutters for the ties, label tags, sausage casing.
Ready and eager hands.
John packs the meat into the sausage machine.
He gets a little help from Frank.

Crostini, Tahini and Curry Dinner

 The evening’s main course: Curried chicken with caramelized tomatoes over quinoa polenta and a side kale salad. 
Not a huge sports fan but I like making major games an excuse to have people over for dinner. As preparation for our annual Superbowl dinner, we invited a few friends for drinks and eats to watch 
the NFC Championship Game. 
Having guests over is also a good time to practice table setting. Here I used the teak napkin holders I got to match our table, a bunch of daffodils and Riedel stemless wine glasses.  
The first order of business was the homemade chicken liver pate crostini, pictured here with chopped roasted almonds and sage and drizzled with truffle oil. 
A Malbec was the choice for the evening and alongside a sliced baguette we served 
Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam Cheese, a crazy soft creamy cheese that is always a crowd pleaser.  
The soup of the evening was the recently discovered Chickpea Tahini Soup.
quinoa polenta and a side of Kale Salad.
The daffodils bloomed by the end of the evening. I love being around for that.
Screaming sports fans, not so much đŸ™‚

Curried Chicken, Chutney, Yogurt and Naan

There is nothing like the flavor of a homemade curry and the freedom to leisurely sit in your home dipping naan in a hot and rich curry sauce. Curries are not difficult dishes if you have the correct spices,  as well as some bottled assistance when necessary.
 Curried chicken and brussels sprouts, naan, yogurt, chutney and side cauliflower and garlic.

Season some chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
In a good pot, saute some onions in oil.
Sear chicken pieces on all sides.
Keep on high heat until brown.
Add 1 tbsp curry and 1 tsp ground cumin powder.
Coat chicken in spices.
Add some life elixir…errr…water (1 cup).
Add some chilis, if you’re so inclined. 
Simmer for 30 minutes until chicken is cooked.
Add 2 tablespoons curry paste (if not available, 1/2 cup coconut milk would help thicken the sauce).
I got this bottle at Sahadi’s
The curry powder and cumin are good enough spices to finish this dish,
but I had some of this to add so I did!
Simmer for another 30 minutes until sauce thickens.

I got these babies at the Food Coop. I am in love with the Mango Chutney on the left,  
and along with the Greek yogurt on the right they were perfect partners to my curry.

Heat up some naan on the stove.

And here we go. Naan, vegetables, curried chicken, mango chutney and yogurt.
The chutney and yogurt cut the spice of the curry perfectly.

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