Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Curry Leaf: An Herb to Savor (with Recipe)

Daylight Saving Time will begin on Sunday, November 4th, accentuating shortened days that mark the coming winter. Though there are limits to enjoyment of outdoor activities in colder months, there are numerous opportunities for delight at the stove. Colder weather stimulates the appetite, which in turn yields more easily to new ingredients. Curry leaves cast a bewitching spell in the kitchen, revealing a savory perfume that captivates and comforts.

When we close our eyes in gustative pleasure, the sense of hearing, smell, taste and touch are heightened. This makes the culinary experience of new ingredients more intense. Consider the feeling you get when you come in from the cold and enter a home filled with the aromas of a rich stew. Your face may feel frigid, your nose nearly numb, but your heart is warmed by the promise of a good meal. Add the element of something indescribably delicious and you have an enticing formula for sensorial discovery (not to mention affection).

The aromatic profile of curry leaves is bright and warm. They possess a distinct freshness reminiscent of citrus leaves and a meat-like aspect that is minutely sulfurous. It is no wonder that curry leaves are a staple ingredient in South Indian vegetarian cooking—they add a savory quality that bay leaves simply cannot touch. Smelling the fresh leaves makes the mouth water and the distinct sound of their sizzle in oil (which is how one liberates their flavor) leaves a lasting impression.

Fresh curry leaves are available at local Indian grocery stores. They last for two weeks in the refrigerator or may be stored in the freezer for future use. Curry leaves are not limited to bean dishes; they are excellent in eggs as well. The recipe for Curried Lentil Stew included in this post was developed with health and flavor in mind. It is high in protein, low in fat and extremely satisfying on a cold day.

Curried Lentil Stew
Recipe by Michelle Krell Kydd
(Serves 8)

· 1 medium Spanish onion (chopped)
· 2 stalks of celery, (peeled and chopped)
· 2 carrots (peeled and chopped)
· 2 ½ inch finger of ginger (peeled and thinly sliced)
· 15 fresh curry leaves
· 1 package (10 oz.) frozen, chopped spinach (thawed)
· 1 package (10 oz.) frozen, puréed winter squash (thawed)
or 1 ½ cups canned pumpkin
· ½ sweet red pepper, medium-sized (diced)
· 3 ounces golden raisins or dried apricots
· 3 ounces shelled pistachios (almonds are also fine, as are cashews)
· 2 cups of texturized vegetable protein (TVP, see Flavor Notes)
· 16 ounce package of green lentils (rinsed and picked through for stones)
· 4 tablespoons of olive oil (or grapeseed oil)
· 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
· 4 teaspoons of sweet curry powder
· ¼ teaspoon of whole coriander seeds (heaping)
· 2 quarts and one can (14 oz.) College Inn® non-fat, low sodium chicken broth
· Cholula® brand hot sauce
· 16 oz. container of nonfat, Greek yogurt

· Prep all vegetables and set aside.
· Heat oil in a large soup pot and sauté curry leaves, onions and celery until onions are clear and begin to caramelize.
· Add curry powder and mix well, coating the sautéed vegetables.
· Add 2 quarts chicken stock, carrots, ginger, winter squash, red pepper, dried fruit, nuts, lentils and coriander seeds. Simmer for one and a half hours.
· Add thawed spinach, remaining can of chicken stock and pomegranate molasses. Simmer for 10 minutes.
· Add texturized vegetable protein (TVP) and simmer for 45 minutes to completion.
· Present in a soup bowl with a dollop of plain yogurt. Hot sauce is also good as it adds an interesting counterbalance to the savory and sweet flavors in the stew. Cholula® brand is best as it is moderately hot and on the citric side.

Texturized vegetable protein (TVP) is made from soy and keeps carbohydrates in check while adding valuable nutrition and fiber. It is typically used as a substitute for meat in vegetarian dishes with a sauce base. TVP, which is cereal-like and flavorless, readily absorbs moisture and takes on the flavor of whatever it is added to. Cooked, its texture is somewhere between a meat and an al dente grain. Bob’s Red Mill TVP is sold in health food stores and online.

Curry leaves are available in the refrigerated section of Indian grocery stores. Do not used the dried version in this recipe as it has little flavor.

If you are a vegetarian, you may substitute a tomato-free vegetable stock for the chicken stock. This will meet your dietary needs, as well as the flavor requirements of the dish.

Acrylic painting of "Moon Magic" by Krista Lynn Brown. It is available for sale on the artist's website, Devaluna.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bloom Magazine (Issue 16): Foliage

There isn’t a fragrance lover or gourmand who hasn’t experienced an intense, unearthly connection to a raw material or specific combination of ingredients. These precious moments serve as a catalyst for the merging of self with the collective unconscious. Describing such instants is often difficult, especially at inception. We run the risk of losing the moment by immediately analyzing it, thereby stunting creative forces.

Wisdom dictates the need for objectivity as well as detachment from likes and dislikes, but sometimes our personal efforts are not enough; we stumble over ourselves and the very things we are enchanted by. At times like this, guidance from someone who is able to tap into cultural and creative energies is precious. Bloggers adhere to vertical communities and books—the fragrance industry relies on the work of trend forecaster Li Edelkoort.

Li Edelkoort provides guidance for students of design, as well as the beauty and fashion industry. Uttering her name in the presence of those who have experienced her books and lectures elicits praise and wonder. Li is a well-traveled visionary who observes what is going on in the world with a natural curiosity that is oriented towards assessment rather than judgment. Her clarity of vision and fearlessness in the face of formidable chaos allow her to harness archetypal energies and present them in a way that compel and inspire. What is most refreshing about Li’s work is her ability to tell a story with visuals and words that are unique, yet universal—something other trendcasters struggle with in today’s iconic “expert” culture.

Bloom is a magazine to behold. Published twice a year, each edition focuses on a central theme that is seasoned with a horticultural flavor. The "Foliage" issue (16) insightfully examines the ways in which human beings relate to green as a color, as well as the way green manifests as an ethos with respect to fashion, food and beauty. The issue is filled with thought provoking images of verdancy which are the result of numerous artistic collaborations.

Scent is a tangible component of the "Foliage" edition; an historic first in Bloom's eight year history. In an olfactive section titled “Spirit of Place” blotters scented with green-inspired accords accompany the photographs of people representing well-travelled regions of the world. The accords were created by Givaudan perfumers who had between one and two months to create them. There were no briefs and no rules, which perfumer Nathalie Gracia-Cetto describes as "very freeing". The accords are presented in this order:

Asana – The Indian: curry leaf, absolue mastic, fenugreek, fennel, cinnamon leaf, coriander seed and caraway. The lingering scent of an Indian kitchen comes to mind when smelling this creation. Accord created by Antoine Maisondieu.

Odin – The Nordic: a green anise note with a dill base, pink pepper, juniper berry, angelica seed, birch leaf and a woody mineral note. A cool, marine effect is executed here, which resonates well with the photograph of an androgynous gentleman who agreed to be photographed for this interpretation of place. Accord created by Nathalie Gracia-Cetto.

Baraka – The Moroccan: olive leaf, galbanum essence, mastic leaf, olive note, davana essence with dried fruit accents, thyme leaf, rosemary leaf, basil leaf, cumin, fenugreek, absolue immortelle, woody notes of cedar and oakmoss, and resinous labdanum. One cannot help but sense the formation of a beautiful chypre when smelling this composition. Its resinous earthy character is fertile ground for a full bouquet. Accord created by Shyamala Maisondieu.

Ngoma – The African: banana leaf, geranium leaf, tamboti wood, accents of vanilla and cacao. The aromas in this composition are tenderly woody and intimate. Of all of the accords in "Spirit of Place," this one begs to be worn. Accord created by Nathalie Gracia-Cetto.

Bloom is available by mail and in-person at the Fashion Institute of Technology bookstore. Priced at $85.00, it is a wonderful addition to a perfume lover’s collection of fragrant inspirations. Issues 1, 4, 8 and 11 are completely sold out. For information on the 16th edition of Bloom and public presentations given by Li Edelkoort call/email Edelkoort Inc.'s New York offices at 212- 420-7622 / .


There are several places on the Internet where you can read about Li Edelkoort and her work. Though conducted in 1995, this interview in Lumiere reveals a woman who is simultaneously in the present and ahead of her time. Designboom features a more recent interview which is worthy of reading. Lastly, Li is featured as part of a trend/lifestyle site run by Symrise.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Perfume Memories: The Magic of Miss Dior

When a mother applies makeup in the presence of her daughter, she generates an air of womanliness that evokes awe and wonder, but with a single spray of perfume her femininity is exalted. As the scent diffuses, her beauty radiates beyond the maternal and flirts with a provocative gentleness that every young girl desires to emulate. Primary fragrance experiences leave more than enduring impressions in their wake; they set the stage for future tastes and passions while simultaneously evoking the past.

I know the scent and bottle shape of each of my mother’s perfumes by heart. Millot’s Crepe de Chine (1925), Jean Patou’s Joy (1930), Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps (1948), Christian Dior’s Miss Dior (1947), and a Caron holiday trio of Nuit de Noël (1922), Fleur de Rocailles (1934), and Bellodgia (1927) are mesmerizing creations that divulge their alluring complexity over time, a quality that is rare in commercial perfumes released over the past twenty years. These “classic” perfumes arouse the senses and call for immediate pause and reflection. Substantive and mysterious, they stir a timeless impression of feminine grace.

My mother never bought her own perfumes as my father took to lavishing her with carnation bouquets (her favorite) and fine French fragrance on birthdays and anniversaries. Not one to roam the floors of retail department stores, my father relied on the advice of a boutique owner from India, whose haute selection of perfumes inevitably led to purchases of distinction.

Whoever this perfume purveyor was, he must have had a preternatural sense for his customers. Each scent he sold to my father possessed notes that resonated with my parent’s lives. Bellodgia and L’air du Temps are carnation classics and pleased my mother immensely as they represented her favorite flower. Joy, a rich reminiscence of rose and jasmine, echoed the spirit of flowers that imprinted their culinary and olfactive qualities on my great grandparents, who migrated from Iraq to Palestine by foot. Miss Dior (eau de cologne) was the queen of all gifts as a note in the dry down of this Chypre fragrance resembled a personal scent that anointed my father—the musky sweet, animalic aroma of tanned leather skins which filled his garment shop.

As a child I was a mischievous explorer who enjoyed opening dresser drawers and medicine cabinets. It was during one of these escapades that I came across a bottle of Miss Dior. It was located in a bureau drawer that was easy for my small fingers to open in childish stealth. Carefully tucked away, beneath folded undergarments and silk scarves was a white satin box that contained Miss Dior. It seemed so special on the outside, which is what motivated me to open it immediately so I could examine its contents. There was a black and white houndstooth pattern on the label and an aromatic trace that reminded me of the sweet scents of spring and autumn mixed together.

I attentively twisted the cap and placed my finger over the mouth of the bottle before tilting it. Gently dabbing the fragrance behind my ears, in what I am certain was an exaggerated lady-like manner, I began to feel the perfume’s emotional power. This scent, this magnificent invisible veil, was as enchanting as any fairy tale I’d ever read. I sat quietly and was discovered by my mother, who besides having an incredible sense of smell, has what is referred to as “mother hearing.” I was gently reprimanded and wasn’t sure why the chastening came with a smile, something that makes perfect sense to me now that I am woman.

My mother wore Miss Dior whenever she and my father were invited to weddings and celebrations. Her Sephardic heritage blessed her with incredible beauty. Her skin was fair and flawless, her eyes a soft brown, her hair a natural jet-black and her figure—absolutely perfect. The only makeup she ever wore was foundation, blush, lipstick and pressed powder (all Revlon). There was one particular gown in her collection that seemed to have been made just for her. The top half was made of rich black velvet and the skirted portion, from the waist down, had alternating strips of black and white satin. When she put on this gown and added a touch of perfume, my younger sister and I were rendered speechless.

On one occasion, my father, who adored seeing my mother dressed up for affairs, looked at her admiringly and kissed her on the cheek. This sent my sister and me into fits of hysterical, awkward laughter. We’re still smiling today as in January 2008 they will have been married for 45 years. Perhaps there is a little magic in Miss Dior


The photo of my mother, Rachel, was taken before she met my father. In addition to the “little black dress” in the photo, she wore Crepe de Chine, the first French fragrance she purchased for herself. She celebrated her birthday this past week and in grand tradition received a bouquet of carnations from her husband.

A MUST READ: An article that resonates with the emotional power which fragrance exerts on memory appeared in The Seattle Post Intelligencer on September 25, 2007. In "Perfume and the Memory of War," Erin Solero examines the connection between history and fine fragrance. Referencing classics from Guerlain and Caron, she draws attention to events which stirred the emotions of those living through war, via perfume. This is by far one of the best essays ever written on the subject stateside. One hopes that this is not Ms. Solero’s last fragrance piece as it is compelling, erudite and gives fine fragrance its due.

Miss Dior is available in fine department stores. The current formulation (part of a 1992 re-branding) is a bit toned down in its animalic aspects. The remnants of a vintage bottle of eau de cologne from 1962 possess a much deeper character. Though I still enjoy the current iteration I would suggest that Parfums Christian Dior consider the rising interest in Chypre fragrances and restore Miss Dior to her original glory. Most fragrance bloggers concur on this fact.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Turkey Baharat: An Otherworldly Recipe

In autumn we arrive at the fulcrum of change, from flower to fruit, from seed to vegetable, all of nature’s bounty lies before us. Pleasure is a guest at every table and in the fall, it guides the hand of the cook who has patiently waited for cooler days and the bounties of the season. The essence of cooking is transformation and it is this quality, along with our ancestral links, that permits the parting of the veil between worlds.

The preparation of food engages our senses and it starts the moment ingredients are selected. We look, touch, and smell produce before choosing what best suits need and appetite. Washing, cutting and preparing food with our hands uncovers hidden scents that lie beneath vegetal skins and membranes, revealing the defining character of fruits, vegetables and animal flesh. As food is transformed by fire a variety of aromas are released, wrapping the soul in the comfort of sweet and savory perfumes. To inhale these enchanting scents is to know time as an endless continuum of culinary delight.

The promise of nourishment is maternally archetypal so it should come as no surprise that when one is cooking, a window to the past opens into the present. In this space the essence of those who taught us how to cook, and those who preceded them, escapes through the steam and vapor of the cooking pot. Otherworldly inspiration isn’t a stranger to the cook. An alchemical process guided by intuition is activated when mixing disparate ingredients with the intention of creating a cohesive whole. One must be familiar with the individual essence of each ingredient and in combining them, be willing to improvise as needed. This process is not reserved for complex creations for even the simplest of dishes must make connections with previous attempts to create a specific effect.

Turkey Baharat is a recipe inspired by Middle Eastern roots. There is no paper trail behind this dish; no cookbooks, no recipe cards, no verbal recitations from a family matriarch scribbled in simple journals. I cannot attribute the inspiration to my early years at the dinner table as my childhood was colored by American tastes adopted by immigrant parents. Turkey Baharat was inspired by the smell of Arabic Baharat, a spice mixture commonly used with mutton, lamb, lentil and pilaf dishes.

The notion of Turkey Baharat, as a recipe, was instinctual and immediate. As soon as I opened the spice jar, the melding of tellicherry black pepper, coriander, cloves, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, cassia and allspice transfixed my senses with their dark, exotic beauty. Though I had never encountered this blend of spices before, there was an undeniable sense of déjà vu. I cannot say what I can ascribe this to, but I know that someone on my mother’s side of the family must have used this exact combination of spices—I feel in my heart and in my head to this very day.

Turkey Baharat
Recipe by Michelle Krell Kydd
(Serves 6)

· 1 lb. ground lean turkey (7% fat or less)
· 1 medium onion, chopped
· 10 prunes, chopped
· 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
· 1 1/2 teaspoon baharat
· 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
· 1 small (10 oz.)package frozen spinach (thawed)
· 5 tablespoons tomato paste
· 3-4 tablespoons honey (light honey)
· 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
· 1 can chicken low sodium/low fat stock
· 1/2 teaspoon orange flower water

· Chop onions and prunes separately and set aside.
· Heat grapeseed oil in a large skillet and sauté onions on a medium flame until they begin to caramelize. The chopped onion pieces should be clear and the outer edges should be a cinnamon color.
· Add the dry baharat spice to the onions and thoroughly coat them with the spice mixture.
· Slowly pour the chicken stock over the onions and stir together.
· Place chopped prunes into the pan.
· Add 1 cup of pumpkin puree and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
· Add tomato paste and blend well.
· Add pomegranate molasses and honey, stirring until they are completely dissolved.
· Add thawed spinach.
· Simmer ingredients until they approach a boil.
· Add lean chopped turkey and stir continuously, breaking up the meat.
· Allow to simmer for ten minutes with the lid on.
· Add orange flower water.
· Remove from flame and allow the dish to rest for 15 minutes, with the lid on.
· Add salt to taste and serve over couscous or rice.


Baharat packs a touch of heat, but is not at all searing. If you are sensitive to hot spices, add an extra teaspoon or two of pomegranate molasses as its acidic nature has a neutralizing effect on heat. If Turkey Baharat is prepared in advance and allowed to sit in the refrigerator overnight, the flavors will meld beautifully.

Baharat is the most common spice mixture used in Arabic cuisine and variations exist in Israel, Turkey and other Mediterranean countries. This recipe was created with good health in mind, hence the use of lean ground turkey.

The picture featured at the beginning of this week’s article is a painting by Krista Lynn Brown entitled “Smoke Prayer”. The acrylic on canvas painting is one of many for sale on her website. Brown’s dreamy paintings are rich in imagery and symbolism, and are extremely beautiful to look at.

Memories Dreams and Reflections is the autobiography of Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist whose memorable contributions to analysis include; the collective unconscious, the theory of synchronicity, and psychological archetypes. Jung had a profound understanding of the spiritual and his interest in esoteric sciences and dreams set him apart from Freudian colleagues.

Special thanks to Ayala Sender, editor of Smellyblog, whose inspired pieces on Sukkot and citron stirred personal food and cultural memories.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Rose Pleasures in Food, Drink & Beauty

The nature of sensory pleasures is fleeting, but the essence of something, its individual “spirit” if you will, moves beyond the ephemeral and is fixed in eternity. Outstanding applications of florals exist in artisan foods and luxury beauty products, but access to them is limited based on cost, availability and knowledge. If one desires to dally with a variety of fragrant temptations, there is no better place to start than the rose.

Rose is the oldest domesticated flower known to mankind. Highly cultivated it is one of the first flowers humans recognize by sight and scent. Red roses symbolize love and we have the Victorians to thank for cultivating a language of flowers based on color and floral arrangement. The Romans adored roses and petals were customarily strewn at weddings and celebrations (the Emperor Nero allegedly slept on rose petals and had his floors carpeted with them as well). In ancient Rome, a door marked with a rose was a sign that confidential matters were being discussed inside. This practice led to the Latin term sub rosa (meaning “under the rose") which was applied to exchanges requiring secrecy. On an historic note, the culinary introduction of Southern Europe's Gallic Rose to Britain was likely Roman in origin. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Gallic Rose was cultivated by Benedictine monks and became an emblem of Christianity.

In the 17th century the Dominican monks of Santa Maria Novella developed Elisir di Rose (Rose Elixir), a delightful cordial made with Gallic Rose which is still made today. The Italian liquor possesses a soft blush and is tenderly sweet on the palate. The Elisir is best drank neat, but weaves an enchanting spell when mixed with chilled Nivole, a Moscato D’ Asti from Michele Chiarlo of Italy. A single shot of Elisir mixed with half a glass of Nivole achieves the perfect balance of fruity floral flavors. The effervescence of the Asti melds seamlessly with Elisir di Rose and creates a refreshing sensation that rises above the delicate bubbles in the wine, bringing to mind the sights and scents of a rose garden. Champagne may also be used in combination with Elisir di Rose, a delirious combination dubbed the “Rosa Novella.”

Rose and sugar are eager bedfellows so it is not surprising to find them flagrantly Rose candy that brilliantly surpasses expectations. For the inexperienced, fear of the cloying taste of potpourri dissipates as a miniscule dusting of powdered sugar gives way to a hint of true Rose Maroc, balanced with an ethereal trace of ripe berries.
commingling in jams and hard candies. The Apothecary’s Garden™ by Sweet Botanicals™ manufactures a

Pietro Romanengo fu Stefano Conserva di Petale di Rosa (Rose Petal Preserves) is a more decadent choice and frankly, an unexpected surprise. Many rose preserves are thin, contain more pectin than rose, and possess a crass sugar bite. Made without pectin, Italy's Conserva di Petale di Rosa is overflowing with rose petals and makes up for a lack of pectin with a sugar and water reduction. When refrigerated the preserves become thick—a texture that is perfect for spreading. For a memorable experience, try a bit of the preserves on a piece of Valbreso French Feta (purchased from a cheese block versus the packaged version, which is too salty). Valbreso French Feta is made with sheep’s milk and is a by-product of the Roquefort cheese making process. It possesses a soothing creaminess and slight tang that marry well with the sweet floralcy of the jam--a combination vaguely reminiscent of strawberry cream cheese.

Caron perfumes are rich expressions of glamour and pedigree, but Caron La Poudre face powder captures the sensual boudoir character of rose in ways that its Or et Noir and Rose perfumes cannot. La Poudre not only contains treasured Bulgarian rose oil (which is distilled by Caron and used in its perfumes) but the talc is finely milled to create a flawless finish on skin. If this were not heavenly enough, an optional ostrich feather powder puff adds a soft element of touch to the experience, ensuring perfect application. Indulging in La Poudre invokes poise, femininity and grace—characteristics not unlike the rose herself.

La Prairie is no stranger to the virtues of rose in skincare. The rose in Cellular Treatment Rose Illusion Line Filler is portrayed as a color, scent and tactile fantasy—as opposed to an active ingredient in the formulation. The pink gel was one of the first silicone-based makeup primers available at haute beauty counters. Cellular Treatment Rose Illusion Line Filler surpasses performance of competing silicone-based primers, many of which feel slippery or unctuous. The enriched, oil-free gel is flecked with a dreamy opalescence and imparts a petal-like smoothness to skin. There are no garish scent aspects to speak of as the fragrance in this skin primer possesses a fresh character that gracefully exits after application.

There are many ways to enjoy the majestic beauty of rose—those catalogued here only scratch the surface. Abundant sensory choices await those who venture beyond the comfort zone of prescribed applications and known territories. Where will your journeys take you?


Elisir di Rose is sold at Santa Maria Novella in New York City. It is available for purchase in-person and cannot be shipped. Price: $75.00. The store is located at 285 Lafayette Street. 1-800-362-3677.

Novaclutch locates the esteemed Elisir di Rose and falls in love. Photo of the Elisir from Novaclutch.

The Apothecary’s Garden™ Rose candy is manufactured by Sweet Botanicals™ of England. Price: $7.00. The confection is available in select stores and at Artisan Sweets.

Pietro Romanego fu Stefano Conserva di Petale di Rosa is also available at Artisan Sweets. Price: $18.00.

The suggested combination of Valbreso French Feta and rose petal preserves comes from Armen Benlian, proprietor of Yaranush, a Mediterranean food store in Westchester. The store is located at 322 White Plains Avenue, in White Plains, New York. 914-682-8449.

Caron La Poudre may be ordered by phone at 1-877-88CARON. It can also be purchased at the Caron boutique, located at 715 Lexington Avenue (at the corner of 58th Street) in New York City. Price: $45.00. A regular cosmetic puff comes with the powder, but an ostrich feather powder puff is available at an additional price of $45.00. To make an appointment at the boutique, call 212-308-0270.

La Prairie Cellular Treatment Rose Illusion Line Filler is available for purchase online or at luxury department stores. Price: $100.

Bill Yosses, White House Executive Pastry Chef, created sugar rose blossoms for a State Dinner in honor of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Phillip Duke of Edinburgh (May of 2007). The picture, featured in the first paragraph of this post, was taken by Lynden Steele.