Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Baraboo News Republic
A forbidden
take on a
healthy rice
Associated Press
Chef Ezequiel De La Torre talks to customers April 12 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The website was launched in March 2013 and
recently moved its headquarters from Buenos Aires to New York City.
Cookapp connects
cooks with diners
Latest trend has independent chefs, home
cooks eating in homes, offbeat locations
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — If
the latest development in culinary social
media catches on, the trendiest restaurants may no longer be restaurants.
A growing number of apps and websites are taking the traditional chef-diner
relationship out of established eateries
and into private homes. Cookapp, for
example, is just the latest to launch in
the U.S., connecting adventurous diners with independent chefs — and even
just ambitious amateur cooks — willing
to host dinners at their homes and other
offbeat locations.
Like its peers EatWith and Feastly,
Cookapp is taking a bite from the edible
side of the “shared economy,” where socalled peer-to-peer businesses are disrupting established industries and giving
headaches to municipal regulators and tax
collectors. Other non-food apps in this
realm include Uber and Lyft, which match
private drivers with people needing rides,
and VRBO and Airbnb, which help people
turn their homes into vacation rentals.
Cookapp, which recently moved its
headquarters from Buenos Aires to New
York City, works like a matchmaker, arranging intimate gourmet dinners between
strangers. Chefs list when and where they
will prepare particular meals, diners book
what interests them, pay upfront via the
app, then just show up and enjoy.
For chefs, it offers a chance to experiment without the hassle, expense and risk
of maintaining a restaurant. For diners, it
can be the ultimate culinary adventure.
Tomas Bermudez came up with the
idea for Cookapp while living in Rio
de Janeiro, where he struggled to meet
people. So he and his sister hatched the
Cookapp idea, then set up a website and
began knocking on the doors of cooks and
chefs back home in Argentina.
“We said, ‘Is it cool for you to invite
people to your house whenever you
want?’ And they loved it,” he said. “We
proved it in Buenos Aires, so we’re thinking let’s go to New York, and if it works in
New York, it works worldwide.”
Passionate cooks have long hosted
open dinner parties, hoping random
guests will share their joy and help with
expenses. Some have even created virtual
restaurants, comparable to the speakeasies that served illegal liquor during the
U.S. Prohibition era. In Argentina, these
“puertas cerradas,” or “closed-door” restaurants, proliferated after the economy
crashed in 2002, operating on a cash basis,
without formal advertising or oversight.
More than 50,000 users and 650 cooks
registered with Cookapp during its yearlong tryout in Argentina’s capital, and just
six weeks after its New York City launch,
250 cooks and thousands of customers
have signed up there.
But whether and how to regulate these
gatherings that exist on the periphery of
the restaurant world is a challenge wherever they pop up.
In New York City, the health department says home-based restaurants are
illegal statewide and officials say they
could shut down or fine cooks who turn
the occasional dinner into a regular
income stream. “These establishments
don’t have a permit from the Health
Department, nor are they inspected by
city health inspectors,” a health department spokesman said via email.
Where will calorie labels appear? Not just menus
Associated Press
The calories of
each food item at a
McDonalds drive-thru
menu in New York are
shown in this July
2008 file photo. The
food industry is closely
watching the Food and
Drug Administration
to see which establishments are included in
the final menu labeling
rules, expected this
WASHINGTON — Diners could soon
see calorie counts on the menus of chain
But will they be able to get that same
clear information at grocery stores, convenience stores, movie theaters or airplanes?
The food industry is closely watching the Food and Drug Administration to
see which establishments are included in
the final menu labeling rules, which are
expected this year.
Five places you may — or may not — see
calorie labels once the rules kick in:
The restaurant industry pushed for
menu labeling and helped it become law as
part of health overhaul in 2010. Chain restaurants that operate all over the country
wanted the federal standards because of an
evolving patchwork of state and local laws
that require calorie labeling and could have
forced those outlets to follow different
rules in different locations.
Not all restaurants are happy with menu
labeling, though. Pizza restaurants, led
by delivery giant Domino’s, say it doesn’t
make sense to force their franchisees to
order expensive new menu boards when
few people walk into their brick-andmortar outlets. They argue for putting the
information online. The pizza companies
say there are more than 34 million ways
to order a pizza, and they need more flexibility on labeling than other restaurants.
Supporters of the rules say pizzas are no
different from sandwiches or other foods
that have a variety of toppings.
The rules will only apply to restaurants
with 20 or more outlets, so independent
eateries are exempt. Bakeries, coffee shops
and ice cream parlors are all expected to
be included if they have enough stores to
qualify. But alcohol most likely won’t have
to be labeled in any of those places — FDA
proposed exempting it.
The supermarket and convenience store
industries were perhaps the most unhappy
with the rules that the FDA proposed in
2011. The agency proposed requiring those
stores to label calories for prepared foods
on menu boards and displays.
Both industries argue that the law is
intended for restaurants and not for them.
They say the labeling rules will be much
easier to put in place at restaurants with
fixed menus.
“The cost of compliance for a convenience store is different than a one-time
cost to McDonald’s,” says Lyle Beckwith
of the National Association of Convenience Stores.
Movie theater chains lobbied to be left
out and appeared to win that fight when
they were exempted in the 2011 proposed
rules. But nutrition groups are lobbying to
include them in the final rules, especially
because movie treats can be so unhealthy.
Nutrition lobbyist Margo Wootan of the
Center for Science in the Public Interest
says many people don’t realize they are
eating a day’s worth of calories when they
stop by the movie concessions counter and
grab a large popcorn and extra-large soda.
“If a company is going to serve you
2,000 calories and call it a snack, the least
they can do is tell people how many calories are in it,” Wootan says.
Passengers will most likely be able to
purchase food calorie-blind in the air and on
the rails. Along with movie theaters, airlines
and trains were exempted from the proposed
labeling rules in 2011. The FDA said that it
would likely exempt food served in places
where the “primary business activity is not
the sale of food” and that don’t “present
themselves publicly as a restaurant.” That
also includes amusement parks, sports stadiums and hotels, unless restaurants set up
in those places are part of a larger chain.
Speaking as a mom and a chef,
let me assure you — one of the
nicest things you can do for Mom
on Mother’s Day is cook for her.
Something sweet is best. And my
candidate? Comforting, traditional rice pudding.
Or maybe not so traditional.
Classic rice puddings are made
from plain white rice. The grains
are very tender, the flavor is kind
of bland, and the color is white.
In my recipe, which is made using
black forbidden rice, the grains
are slightly chewy, the flavor is
slightly nutty, and the color is
deep purple.
Once upon a time forbidden
rice was said to be literally forbidden. First cultivated in China, forbidden rice was so rare — and so
nutritious — no one was allowed
to eat it except for the emperor.
Today, forbidden rice is considered a delicious and healthy whole
grain we can all enjoy.
Like brown rice, forbidden rice
is unpolished; the hull of the grain,
a rich source of insoluble fiber, is
left intact. It’s also a good source
of iron and vitamin E, and a great
source of the same antioxidants
that put the blue in blueberries.
In this recipe, the rice is cooked
until tender, then combined with
whole milk, sugar, cinnamon,
eggs and vanilla. The whole milk
— replacing the more traditional
(and more caloric) heavy cream —
does a great job of delivering the
desired silkiness. The cinnamon
stick and vanilla — which deliver
big flavor — are the most important ingredients next to the rice.
Forbidden rice pudding
Start to finish: 3 hours 25 minutes (15 minutes active)
Servings: 4
1/2 cup forbidden rice (Chinese
black rice)
1 cup water
2 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large cinnamon stick
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped crystallized
ginger, to garnish (optional)
In a small saucepan over
medium-high, combine the rice
and water. Bring to a boil, then
reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook,
covered, for 30 minutes. Let stand
for a few minutes, then pour
through a mesh strainer to discard
any excess water. Return the rice
to the pot over medium-high
heat. Add 2 cups of the milk, the
sugar, the cinnamon stick and a
hefty pinch of salt. Bring to a boil,
then reduce the heat to simmer
and cook, uncovered and stirring
occasionally, for 40 minutes.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs
with the remaining 1/2 cup milk.
Whisk in a large spoonful of the
hot rice mixture. Add the egg
mixture to the rice and cook over
medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the
back of a spoon, 4 to 5 minutes. Do
not let the rice pudding boil or the
eggs will scramble.
Remove the saucepan from the
heat, stir in the vanilla and transfer the rice pudding to a bowl.
Cover the pudding and chill until
cold, at least 2 hours. The pudding
will thicken as it chills. To serve,
discard the cinnamon stick and
divide the rice pudding among
4 bowls. Top each portion with
some of the ginger.
Nutrition information per
serving: 280 calories; 70 calories
from fat (25 percent of total calories); 8 g fat (3.5 g saturated; 0 g
trans fats); 105 mg cholesterol;
42 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber;
17 g sugar; 10 g protein; 160
mg sodium.
Vending machines will be required to
have labels, but the industry — comprised
mostly of smaller operators — is asking
for flexibility in how they are required to
post them.
Eric Dell of the National Automatic
Merchandising Association says the group
estimates the rules could cost operators up
to $42,000 a year, which he calls a “huge
burden” on those small businesses.
The recipe for forbidden rice pudding shouldn’t require more than 15
minutes of your undivided attention.