*an editors note
It’s a far cry from enough, but some notable members of the restaurant community are participating in DINE OUT HAITI, on January 24th, where varying percentages of profit will go to one of these three organizations: a) Action Against Hunger; b) Doctors without Borders and, my favorite c) Partners in Health. In addition to this news, I offer this suggestion: Cooks and cooking enthusiasts, you can pull together a fundraising dinner on the same day and even prepare some of the island’s best dishes. Below this New York Times article I will leave you with a few recipes, dishes I’ve been lucky enough to have made at home. Enjoy, let’s keep offering our hands as much as we can.
Help for HaitiBy KIM SEVERSON from the New York Times Diner’s Journal
The restaurant communities in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and other major cities are moving fast to help raise money for the Haitian earthquake relief effort, and Diner’s Journal will do its best to keep passing on the word as plans are made.
So far, Philippe Massoud of Restaurant Ilili is proposing restaurants in New York make Jan. 24 Haiti Dine Out Night, with 10 percent of sales going to charities specifically targeted to Haiti. (Which ones those will be are still to be determined.)
He’s called Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Danny Meyer, Mario Batali and the New York Restaurant Association. “All the big players,” he said. “I’m trying to hit the social responsibility gene.”
Meanwhile, 20 percent of sales and tips at Knife + Fork in the East Village on Jan. 20 will go toward relief efforts. And on Jan. 27 The Bell House bar plans a host of bands and other entertainment, with all of the money going toward the relief effort. They’re looking for donations.
In San Francisco, the vegans are getting together for a big bake sale Jan. 23.
Tonight in Los Angeles, the Haitian native George Laguerre, owner of TiGeorges’ Chicken in Echo Park, is holding a dinner to raise money. And in Seattle, Waid’s Haitian Cuisine and Lounge holds fund-raisers tonight and Friday. In Chicago, a long list of benefits can be found at Billy Dec’s blog.
Mr. Dec’s company runs Rockit Bar and Grill and Sunda, a Buddakan-like Asian mega-restaurant. He and “The Bachelorette” star Jillian Harris turned their Saturday tweetnmeet at the newest Rockit Bar and Grill in Wrigleyville on the city’s North Side into a fund-raiser. From 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., a minimum donation of $20 gets free drinks and appetizers. The Chicago club and small plates emporium Le Passage is hosting Haiti fund-raisers for the next three Fridays.
And The Hartford Courant reports that Burtons Grill, a New England-based restaurant group, will donate 15 percent of its revenue of Monday’s sales from its four restaurants to the William J. Clinton Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund. The chain has restaurants in Boston, Andover and Hingham, Mass., and at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor. The restaurants are open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
diri ak djon djon (rice with black mushrooms)
This is my absolute favorite Haitian dish, and in fact one of my favorite foods. The recipe below comes from A Taste of Haiti by Mirta Yurnet-Thomas and the Thomas Family. She explains,
“Diri ak djon-djon is native to the northern part of Haiti, where the djon-djon mushrooms are grown. Considered a delicacy, they are not used in everyday cooking. They are black, very small, and have an inch-long inedible stem. When boiled, they release a gray-black coloring, giving this recipe and many others a distinctive aroma, flavor, and color. This rice is usually served with a meat or fish dish. A cast-iron pot is preferable.
This photo is from the Haitian restaurant, Ambiance, in Canarsie, Brooklyn. Here it’s served with pigeon peas.
- 2 cups of long grain rice (although I’ve reproduced this with arborio which was crazy!)
- 2 cup dried black mushrooms (in Haitian markets like the one I go to in Flatbush, you can pick up djon-djon mushrooms)
- 2 TBSP olive or vegetable oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 sliced shallot
- 4 cloves
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- one cup Pigeon Peas (or a 12 ounce can already cooked)
- 1 green scotch bonnet pepper
- salt, pepper to taste
*optional – if you can find it, include a tablespoon of Tritri – a tiny fish in the sardine family that is dried and used in rice disheswhat you’ll do.
- If you’re using dried beans, you’ll need to cook them in 6 cups of water and a teaspoon of salt for 1 to 1/5 hours, or until tender.
- soak mushrooms in 4 cups of water for 10 minutes. Boil the mushrooms on low heat for 10 minutes. Strain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid.
- in a cast-iron pot, add oil and heat to medium. Stir in garlic, onion and shallot for 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir for 3 minutes. Add the mushroom water, salt, cloves cooked pigeon peas and tritri. Bring to a boil until the water evaporates. Lower the heat, stir the rice, and place the entire scotch bonnet pepper and thyme on top of the rice. Cook while covered for 20 minutes. Remove the hot pepper and the thyme. Stir well and serve.
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups soft butter
- 1 cup milk
- 1 TBSP pure vanilla extract (if you’ve ever had the deep red and beautifully aromatic Haitian Vanilla, then you will have long forgotten the other stuff and it’ll already be in your cupboard. If you have access to a Haitian Market, go pick some up!)
- 1 TBSP rum (Barbancourt, of course)
- 7 eggs (separate yolks and whites, stiffly beat the whites)
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 TSP baking powder
- 1/4 TSP salt
- 1 – 2 TSP lemon zest
- Cream the butter and gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
- Beat the egg yolks in a large bowl and gradually add to the butter and sugar mixture.
- Sift together all of the dry ingredients.
- Add the milk, alternately with the sifted dry ingredients to the mixture.
- Gently fold the egg whites into the batter and turn into a buttered and floured cake pan.
- Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a toothpick stuck into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool, and serve.