Food, Food Artisans

This Week at Zingerman’s 7/28/15

 Mahjoub Couscous jar

Summer Sale ends July 31st!

Great things are happening at Mail Order right now! The first is our annual Summer Sale (also happening at Zingerman’s Deli!), which features amazing deals on some of our favorites! Like Bonito Tinned Tuna, or our famous Zzang Bars, or Rustichella Italian Pastas. Check out the Summer Sale page for more! Hurry, the sale ends July 31st! 
The other noteworthy event is our Olive Oil Pop Up Shop, which contains some really excellent oils at very affordable prices. Domestic favorites like California’s Seka Hills, or La Sovana from Tuscany, or Crudo, a bold, spicy oil from the southeastern corner of Italy. Check out the rest of the selection at our Pop Up Shop!


Welcome to Cornman Farms tour

Our Welcome to Cornman Farms Tour is an idyllic and dynamic 90 minute introduction to the rich history, agricultural projects and humane raising of animals. Join us Wednesday, July 29, 6pm, for a look at our vegetable and herb gardens, goat milking operation and historic restored Farmhouse and Barn—and enjoy a meet-and-greet with our visionary Managing Partner, Kieron Hales.

Reserve your seat here


1st Sunday Tour at Zingerman’s Creamery

Join our cheese and gelato makers on Sunday, August 2, 2pm, for an hour-long adventure as we transform local milk into delicious cheese and gelato. You’ll watch our fresh mozzarella stretched into shape, taste our cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses while our staff explain the cheesemaking process, and sample our delicious fresh gelato. After the tour, make time for tasting our selection of American cheeses and provisions, as well as house made gelatos and sorbets in our cheese shop.
*Please note, our production facility is very warm and humid during the summer months!

Reserve your seat here


Tea Time With a Twist at Zingerman’s Creamery

You might not think of tea as being a typical pairing for a slice of cheese, but the two can be exceptionally good together. Much like wine, certain teas contain tannins that are released once the tea leaves are exposed to hot water, giving it a full-bodied taste and making it a perfect accompaniment to cheese. Our cheesemongers have teamed up with the experts next door at the Zingerman’s Coffee Co. to choose some of our favorite teas sourced from Rishi Tea and picked some perfect cheeses to pair up that will make you look at tea time in a whole new way! Friday, August 7, 6pm. 

Reserve your seat here


11th Annual Piazza Zingermanza at Zingerman’s Deli

Saturday August 15 and Sunday, August 16, 11am – 3pm
Our annual August tradition of transforming the Deli’s Patio into an Italian Street Food Festival is one of the highlights of the year. There will be good food, good music, good demos, good deals and good company. New this year, a kids’ pasta tasting. It’s an event not to be missed!

Demonstrations:
12 noon: Witness our cheesemongers break down 80 pound wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano in one pound chunks.

1 pm: Behold as we transform curd into delectable fresh mozzarella balls sold by the half pound.

2 pm: Observe our skilled staff slicing true Prosciutto di Parma right off the bone into snackable bites.

This event is FREE!


See you soon!

Food, Food Artisans

Couscous from Tunisia

A brief history of really good coucous

In the mountains and valleys that stretch across North Africa, there’s no guarantee of a good harvest from year to year. That’s nothing new for the Berbers. They’ve been farming olives, wheat, vegetables, and fruits there since before Carthage was founded in 814 BCE. (The name “Berber” actually comes from the Roman name for the people: barbarians. In their own language, Berbers call themselves Amazigh, or Free People.) In a good year a Berber tribe would grow plenty of food to sustain themselves. But even in a good year, the farmers learned to look ahead to the future. What if the next year there’s a drought and the harvest is limited? And what if that happens two years in a row? Or what if, after a year or two of bad harvests, a hungry neighboring tribe invades and pillages their food supplies? Those were all common scenarios for the semi-nomadic Berbers.

The solution was to make the harvest transportable.Mahjoub-Couscous

Like most people looking to preserve food before the days of refrigeration, the Berbers used what they had on hand: salt, oil, sun. In Tunisia, smack dab in the middle of Berber land, sun drying has always been the most important method of preservation. Drying not only preserves, but it also makes the food weigh less. Should the tribe decide to pack up and move, they could take it with them. The Berbers sun dried everything: tomatoes, stone fruits, peppers. And to preserve wheat, they would sun dry couscous.

The basics of making traditional couscous are pretty simple. You take semolina flour and mix it with a bit of salt and water, rub it together to form tiny balls of dough, and then dry ’em out. Today, though, most couscous is made with big, industrialized machines. The whole process can be completed in a couple of hours from start to finish, including just seven minutes for mixers to form the balls and then a whopping eighteen minutes to dry them in huge rotating ovens.

There are still a few producers out there making couscous the traditional, slow way that the Berbers would have made it. The best couscous I know of is made by Majid Mahjoub, himself a descendant of the Berbers, and his company Les Moulins Mahjoub. Mahjoub couscous is m’hamsa (hand-made, in Arabic). Using the Razzag variety of wheat that they grow organically on their own farm, they roll every little ball of couscous by hand, the way it’s been done for millennia. For that reason, this couscous is a little bigger than most, and you may notice that it looks a tad less uniform. That’s a good thing. After the couscous has been shaped, it dries in the sun. That drying doesn’t take minutes or hours—it takes days. All told, a batch of Mahjoub couscous takes about ten days from start to finish.

All that time drying in the sun has a huge impact on flavor.

It’s like the difference between bread that’s allowed to slowly rise and proof for most of a day versus the stuff that’s baked as quickly as possible. The longer drying time allows the couscous to develop deeper, richer flavor. In essence, couscous that’s produced as quickly as possible tastes like flour, while couscous that is made more slowly tastes like bread. The exact same thing happens with the flavor of traditional pastas that are allowed to dry slowly rather than being baked as quickly as possible. Mahjoub couscous is wheaty, toasty, nutty, earthy, with a chewy, firm, toothsome texture. This is no boring grain to be relegated to the corner of the plate and smothered in spices and sauces.

I still remember the first time I tasted Mahjoub couscous. It was a little more than six years ago. The first bite stopped me in my tracks. I had no idea that couscous could be so delicious. But once I got over the surprise, I went back for more, and more, and more. I still always keep a jar or two in my pantry and cook it at least a couple times a month.

Cooking couscous is as easy as boiling water.

Seriously. You bring a pot of water to boil, add the couscous, bring it back to a boil, take the pan off the heat, put a lid on it, and let it sit. After ten minutes, you fluff the couscous with a fork and it’s ready to eat. Majid visits us in Ann Arbor from time to time and he’s cooked up some some outstanding couscous dishes for us. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Couscous with tomato sauce and a perfect egg
    This is one of the simplest ways I know of to serve couscous, and conveniently, it’s also one of the most delicious. After cooking the couscous—roughly ⅓ cup per person as a side dish, or a bit more as a main dish—stir in a bit of good extra virgin olive oil to keep it from sticking. Dish it onto plates and then on top of the couscous spoon a healthy dollop of your favorite tomato sauce, warmed on the stove. Then top that with an egg. I’m partial to a poached egg with the yolk still soft and oozy, but you could use a fried egg, a diced hard-boiled egg, whatever kind of egg fits your fancy. Sprinkle with salt and a grind of fresh pepper, and serve immediately.
  • Couscous salad
    To serve four to six people, use 1 1/2 cups of couscous. Once it’s cooked through, stir in a couple tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil, then let it cool. While it cools, dice a bunch of vegetables: an onion, two tomatoes, a sweet pepper, a cucumber, a little fresh mint, and a preserved lemon. When the couscous has reached room temperature stir in all the vegetables along with a few capers and a splash of white wine vinegar. Once it’s all mixed up, refrigerate it for half an hour or so to chill it and let the flavors meld. Just before serving taste and add salt if needed.
  • Sweet couscous
    Majid uses three parts milk to one part couscous. Bring the milk to a boil, and add the couscous. Let it simmer for five minutes, then remove it from the heat and let it cool a bit. That’s it—it’s ready to serve. Majid likes to add a bit of jam to it, but he also recommends you could add a little sugar to sweeten it up a bit more. Since hearing about the recipe, I’ve made it with a little maple syrup and cinnamon and that turned out pretty delicious. Majid likes to eat sweet couscous for breakfast. In the summer he likes to make it the night before and keep it in the fridge overnight, then serve it cold, like a couscous version of rice pudding.

Mahjoub Couscous jar

Did we mention that Sun Dried Couscous from Les Moulins Mahjoub is part of our annual Summer Sale? Hurry, sale ends 7/31!

See you soon! 

Food, Food Artisans

This Week at Zingerman’s 7/21/15

 Lincoln log

White Wine & Cheese Tasting at Zingerman’s Creamery

Join us this Friday, July 24, 6pm, as we explore the beautiful variety of white wines produced in our great state of Michigan! From light, dry, crisp Pinots to sweet, full-bodied Gewurztraminer we will taste through some of our top white wine picks and pair them up with cheeses from the shop.

Reserve your seat here


Summer Sale and Olive Oil Pop Up Shop at Mail Order and the Deli

Great things are happening at Mail Order right now! The first is our annual Summer Sale (also happening at Zingerman’s Deli!), which features amazing deals on some of our favorites! Like Bonito Tinned Tuna, or our famous Zzang Bars, or Rustichella Italian Pastas. Check out the Summer Sale page for more! Hurry, the sale ends July 31st! 
The other noteworthy event is our Olive Oil Pop Up Shop, which contains some really excellent oils at very affordable prices. Domestic favorites like California’s Seka Hills, or La Sovana from Tuscany, or Crudo, a bold, spicy oil from the southeastern corner of Italy. Check out the rest of the selection at our Pop Up Shop!


Welcome to Cornman Farms tour

Our Welcome to Cornman Farms Tour is an idyllic and dynamic 90 minute introduction to the rich history, agricultural projects and humane raising of animals. Join us Wednesday, July 29, 6pm, for a look at our vegetable and herb gardens, goat milking operation and historic restored Farmhouse and Barn—and enjoy a meet-and-greet with our visionary Managing Partner, Kieron Hales.

Reserve your seat here


1st Sunday Tour at Zingerman’s Creamery

Join our cheese and gelato makers on Sunday, August 2, 2pm, for an hour-long adventure as we transform local milk into delicious cheese and gelato. You’ll watch our fresh mozzarella stretched into shape, taste our cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses while our staff explain the cheesemaking process, and sample our delicious fresh gelato. After the tour, make time for tasting our selection of American cheeses and provisions, as well as house made gelatos and sorbets in our cheese shop.
*Please note, our production facility is very warm and humid during the summer months!

Reserve your seat here


Tea Time With a Twist at Zingerman’s Creamery

You might not think of tea as being a typical pairing for a slice of cheese, but the two can be exceptionally good together. Much like wine, certain teas contain tannins that are released once the tea leaves are exposed to hot water, giving it a full-bodied taste and making it a perfect accompaniment to cheese. Our cheesemongers have teamed up with the experts next door at the Zingerman’s Coffee Co. to choose some of our favorite teas sourced from Rishi Tea and picked some perfect cheeses to pair up that will make you look at tea time in a whole new way! Friday, August 7, 6pm. 

Reserve your seat here


11th Annual Piazza Zingermanza at Zingerman’s Deli

Saturday August 15 and Sunday, August 16, 11am – 3pm
Our annual August tradition of transforming the Deli’s Patio into an Italian Street Food Festival is one of the highlights of the year. There will be good food, good music, good demos, good deals and good company. New this year, a kids’ pasta tasting. It’s an event not to be missed!

Demonstrations:
12 noon: Witness our cheesemongers break down 80 pound wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano in one pound chunks.

1 pm: Behold as we transform curd into delectable fresh mozzarella balls sold by the half pound.

2 pm: Observe our skilled staff slicing true Prosciutto di Parma right off the bone into snackable bites.

This event is FREE!


See you soon!

Food, Food Artisans

The City Goat from Zingerman’s Creamery

July Cheese of the Month

We make these soft, creamy, fresh goat cheese rounds with the best milk we can source from small Michigan goat farmers. Over the years we’ve been fortunate enough to build relationships with some pretty incredible goat dairies, people who are passionate about the health and long-term sustainability of their herds, and this kind of dedication to the animals really comes through in the quality of the milk we receive from them. In order to preserve as much of the depth of flavor in that awesome milk, we use low-temperature pasteurization, a method much gentler than the more prevalent short high-temp pasteurization that a lot of modern cheesemakers utilize.

city-goat

After that gentle pasteurization is complete we allow the goat’s milk to “set” overnight, which draws out even deeper and more complex flavors, maximizing its intensity. Once the resulting curds have reached a perfect consistency we do something a little different here at the Creamery—hand ladling. Each City Goat is hand ladled into separate perforated forms, which allow whey to drain at a consistent rate, and this painstaking and time-consuming process gives this cheese an amazing, evolving texture, from light and airy when very fresh to firm and perfect for crumbling when more aged.

More recently, we found a great way to package these cheeses. Back in the day we’d wrap them in translucent deli paper and set them out to continue draining, since wrapping them in plastic would lead to a less desirable texture over time. In our quest to find the best way to present our cheeses, we started packaging these tasty goat rounds in a small plastic container with a sealed top, The cheese features a very bright, clean, and slightly citrusy taste that pops in a variety of presentations.

For an easy appetizer, roll in freshly chopped rosemary, tarragon, basil, or any fresh herb you fancy. The citrus notes of this cheese are a perfect accompaniment to a number of charcuterie or crudités. Slice a city goat in half lengthwise, then stuff with roasted red peppers and pesto. For a Mediterranean experience, try it with honey and toasted almonds. When the City Goat is a little older and firmer, it is wonderful crumbled over salads or in any rich, tomato-based sauce.

The City Goat is available at Zingerman’s Creamery and Zingerman’s Delicatessen

See you soon! 

Food, Food Artisans

This Week at Zingerman’s 7/14/15

Summer Sale

Summer Sale and Olive Oil Pop Up Shop at Mail Order and the Deli

Great things are happening at Mail Order right now! The first is our annual Summer Sale (also happening at Zingerman’s Deli!), which features amazing deals on some of our favorites! Like Bonito Tinned Tuna, or our famous Zzang Bars, or Rustichella Italian Pastas. Check out the Summer Sale page for more! Hurry, the sale ends July 31st! 
The other noteworthy event is our Olive Oil Pop Up Shop, which contains some really excellent oils at very affordable prices. Domestic favorites like California’s Seka Hills, or La Sovana from Tuscany, or Crudo, a bold, spicy oil from the southeastern corner of Italy. Check out the rest of the selection at our Pop Up Shop!


Brewing methods class at Zingerman’s Coffee Company

Learn the keys to successful coffee brewing using a wide variety of brewing methods from filter drip to syphon pot. We will take a single coffee and brew it 6 to 8 different ways, each producing a unique taste. We’ll learn the proper proportions and technique for each and discuss the merits and differences of each style.

Reserve your seat here


White Wine & Cheese Tasting at Zingerman’s Creamery

Join us as we explore the beautiful variety of white wines produced in our great state of Michigan! From light, dry, crisp Pinots to sweet, full-bodied Gewurztraminer we will taste through some of our top white wine picks and pair them up with cheeses from the shop.

Reserve your seat here


Welcome to Cornman Farms tour

Our Welcome to Cornman Farms Tour is an idyllic and dynamic 90 minute introduction to the rich history, agricultural projects and humane raising of animals. Join us Wednesday, July 29, 6pm, for a look at our vegetable and herb gardens, goat milking operation and historic restored Farmhouse and Barn—and enjoy a meet-and-greet with our visionary Managing Partner, Kieron Hales.

Reserve your seat here


1st Sunday Tour at Zingerman’s Creamery

Join our cheese and gelato makers on Sunday, August 2, 2pm, for an hour-long adventure as we transform local milk into delicious cheese and gelato. You’ll watch our fresh mozzarella stretched into shape, taste our cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses while our staff explain the cheesemaking process, and sample our delicious fresh gelato. After the tour, make time for tasting our selection of American cheeses and provisions, as well as house made gelatos and sorbets in our cheese shop.
*Please note, our production facility is very warm and humid during the summer months!

Reserve your seat here


Tea Time With a Twist at Zingerman’s Creamery

You might not think of tea as being a typical pairing for a slice of cheese, but the two can be exceptionally good together. Much like wine, certain teas contain tannins that are released once the tea leaves are exposed to hot water, giving it a full-bodied taste and making it a perfect accompaniment to cheese. Our cheesemongers have teamed up with the experts next door at the Zingerman’s Coffee Co. to choose some of our favorite teas sourced from Rishi Tea and picked some perfect cheeses to pair up that will make you look at tea time in a whole new way! Friday, August 7, 6pm. 

Reserve your seat here


11th Annual Piazza Zingermanza at Zingerman’s Deli

Saturday August 15 and Sunday, August 16, 11am – 3pm
Our annual August tradition of transforming the Deli’s Patio into an Italian Street Food Festival is one of the highlights of the year. There will be good food, good music, good demos, good deals and good company. New this year, a kids’ pasta tasting. It’s an event not to be missed!

Demonstrations:
12 noon: Witness our cheesemongers break down 80 pound wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano in one pound chunks.

1 pm: Behold as we transform curd into delectable fresh mozzarella balls sold by the half pound.

2 pm: Observe our skilled staff slicing true Prosciutto di Parma right off the bone into snackable bites.

This event is FREE!


See you soon!

Food, Food Artisans

Coop’s Hot Fudge

Summer sale goodie!

A friend and I went to the grocery one evening in search of ice cream and hot fudge. The ice cream part was easy; we picked a good one right away. The chocolate sauce was another story. We spent a lot of time reading all of the ingredient lists looking for the one with the fewest (and most pronounceable) ingredients. The one we finally settled on was okay, but nothing to write home about.coops_hot_fudge-copy

When I asked Marc Cooper—who goes by Coop—what he was looking for when he created his hot fudge , he told me he wanted something all natural. There’s no legal definition of “all natural” but Coop’s personal definition is that there are no chemicals used in any part of production, and all of the ingredients are processed as gently as possible.

Let’s start with the chocolate.
Cocoa powder is simply ground up, roasted cacao beans with most of the fat (in the form of cocoa butter) removed. To get “natural” cocoa powder, that’s all there is to it. The flavor ends up being very bitter and pretty acidic, much like cocoa beans themselves. However, around 90% of all cocoa used today is alkalized (also sometimes called Dutch processed, because it was invented by a Dutch guy). Alkalized cocoa has been treated with chemicals to make the cocoa less acidic. It has a milder flavor and darker color. Alkalization also makes cocoa more soluble, so it’s easier to mix it into liquids, making it especially popular for use in ice cream and with dairy products.

Coop uses a natural, unalkalized cocoa powder to avoid that chemical processing. Each new harvest of cacao beans is a little different from the one before due to weather and processing conditions, so periodically he’ll test out new cocoas to make sure he’s got one that gives the rich, complex, chocolatey flavor he wants. He’s opted for a cacao from Ivory Coast which is processed into cocoa powder in Holland. When he tried making his hot fudge with cocoas from Central and South America a few months back, he found it created a more fruity flavor that didn’t have the richness he wanted.

Besides the chocolate, there are only four other ingredients.

The first two are cream and butter. It took Coop a while to find the dairy products he wanted. Most commercial dairies these days pack the cows in tightly and then either feed them antibiotics to prevent disease or ultra pasteurize the milk to kill off any pathogens. (Take a look the next time you’re picking up milk at the grocery; nearly all organic milk, which comes from cows that haven’t received preventative antibiotics, is ultra pasteurized.) Ultra pasteurization is different from regular pasteurization in that it heats up the milk much hotter for a shorter period of time. The process can make the milk shelf stable for months, but it changes the flavor and texture of milk. In particular, it can alter the whey proteins that give milk its creaminess, requiring the addition of congealing agents like guar gum or carrageenan to achieve the original texture. Coop uses cream and butter from a local Massachusetts dairy that pasteurizes more gently. There are no congealing agents, nothing added, nothing removed.

The last two ingredients are white cane sugar and brown cane sugar (which is actually just white sugar with some molasses mixed back in). Coop prefers to use cane sugar rather than beet sugar since all beet sugar in the US is GMO. He’s also careful to only use sugar that is processed in the US because a lot of the cane sugar processed in other countries is treated with charred cow bones (which help to take out the natural tan color of sugar to make it snowy white; American-processed cane sugar uses charcoal instead). Most chocolate sauces contain corn syrup (either instead of or in addition to sugar) which helps to keep them from recrystallizing and becoming grainy; Coop uses the molasses in the brown sugar to achieve this effect.

Coop is a poster child for small batch production.

A while back, one of those TV shows about how things are made gave Coop a call. They were interested in featuring his hot fudge production in an episode. “They like to see a lot of production lines and machinery,” Coop told me. “When I told them all I have is two vats that each produce about four gallons of hot fudge at a time, they decided not to come and film us.” Coop and his three employees produce three or four double batches of fudge per day, four days a week—that adds up to about 1,200 jars weekly. On the side of each jar you’ll find the hand-written initials of the person who made that particular batch.
Coop’s hot fudge business was actually an off-shoot of the ice cream shop he opened a few decades ago. “I wanted to be able to keep my staff busy in the off-season,” Coop told me, so he started playing around with a hot fudge recipe. His plan worked, and the hot fudge became so popular that about five years ago the fudge production split off from the ice cream shop to become its own business.

And how does it taste?

Coop’s hot fudge is thick, luscious, intensely chocolatey. It’s insanely good heated up—microwave the whole jar or a smaller bowlful for a minute or less and you’re good to go. And then what to drizzle it on? “Our hot fudge will make any ice cream better,” Coop told me proudly. Then he added, perhaps a bit apologetically, “even Zingerman’s gelato.”

There are a lot of products we sell that I’d say you could eat on a spoon out of the jar. This one tops that list; I never put the spoon in the sink without licking it first. I’ve drizzled it over coffeecake and strawberries. It’s killer slathered on toast. Or chocolate covered pancakes?!

Vals-favorite

Coop’s Hot Fudge is part of our big Summer Sale at Zingerman’s Deli and Zingerman’s Mail Order through July 31. Try this chocolate wonder today!