The last time we saw Amy Brandwein, the chef was cooking private dinners for clients in their homes while getting ready to launch her first restaurant. Centrolina Osteria and Market is open now, and Brandwein recently sat down to talk about her present, her past and her controversial former boss, Roberto Donna. Maura Judkis has the story.
Also in Food this week, Fritz Hahn looks at farms that have also opened craft breweries, growing hops and other crops destined for their own brew kettles. And Emily C. Horton praises the attributes of days-old bread — and gives us ways to use it.
It’s Free Range chat day, and it’ll be a good one: Amy Brandwein and Emily Horton are the special guests, so you can ask about new restaurants, old bread and just about anything, really. The fun begins here at noon. Submit a question, but if we don’t get around to it, check this space next week to see if yours is the lucky leftover. Here’s one we couldn’t get to during last week’s chat:
Mulberries are in season here in Maryland. I picked a bunch from my tree and made tartlets with a cream cheese crust. Any other good recipes for this short season?
Our online archive boasts more than 6,000 recipes — but none, I’m sorry to say, specifically for mulberries. No problem! The infamous finger-staining fruit, which many foragers collect from the wild or the urban landscape at this time of year, can be used in just about any recipe calling for blackberries, or raspberries or even strawberries. Or you can mix it up, using them to replace just some of the berries in a recipe.
A couple of things to remember. There are exceptions, but mulberries tend to be less tart, less sweet and less juicy than blackberries, which they most closely resemble. So although you shouldn’t hesitate to use them in the same ways, it’s crucial to sample them first so you can decide whether the quantity of any of the ingredients — those that are sweet or acidic or moist — needs to be adjusted.
Also, the mulberry’s aforementioned staining abilities really are powerful, so if you’re picking, don’t wear anything that might not look good with a few purple blotches. (The berries’ thin skins break easily, letting juice leak out.) And finally, don’t eat unripe mulberries; you’ll get a tummy ache.
Possible recipes to try. Well, I’d begin with Dorie Greenspan’s dazzling Mixed Berry Crisp, so good I wanted to eat the whole thing. Mulberries, raspberries and blueberries would be an awesome mix. Then move on to Cast-Iron Pork Tenderloin With Blackberry Bourbon Barbecue Sauce, this week’s Dinner in Minutes. From there: Blackberry Thumbprints, Raspberry Honey Frozen Yogurt, Apricot and Raspberry Clafouti and Blueberry Cornmeal Cake — swapping out those berries, of course, for mulberries. And there are tons more in Recipe Finder.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t (again) mention FallingFruit.org, which pinpoints trees, bushes, vines and other resources on or over public land that are a source of fruits, nuts and other natural bounties. The site lists several accessible mulberry trees in our area, mostly in the District — by no means all of them. Know of others? Be a sport and add them, so we can all share.