Monday, April 5, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
More than anything else, I think this demonstrates the power of combining classic flavor combinations that we can apply to any number of things. Yeah, I know that butter isn't necessarily Spanish, just go with it. For example, you've got a great Spanish wine, and you want to do something in that vein. These flavors are a great combination to put together with soup, sauce for meat, pasta, rice, eggs, veggies, salad dressing, etc. Of course, there is basic technique, but what really makes it sing is great flavor combination.
Quiche lorraine is a classic example. Egg custard with onion, bacon, thyme in a pastry shell. You can take those same flavors and make a veggie sautee, flatbread, pizza, topping for bruschetta, add to a salad (fried shallots, bacon, thyme). Filet mignon with black pepper, cognac and cream, dry red wine. Roasted red pepper, balsamic vinegar, goat cheese, caramelized onions. Tomato, onion, cilantro, and lime. Chocolate and raspberry. Strawberries and cream. Tarragon and chicken. PB and J. Carrot and ginger. Caviar and champagne.
Case in point: remembering that sauce combination, and scrounging for dinner the other night, I had some lamb chops that I had just thawed and I thought it would be good to add risotto to it. Aside from standards of onion and garlic, I put smoked paprika and sherry vinegar in with the risotto as well, and it turned out really great.
Push the edges of these boundaries, combine them with some basic technique, and liberate yourself.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
- Like any other braised dish, the more time you spend on browning your meat, the better it's going to be.
- Think ahead on this dish. Make it the day before you plan to eat it, and let the sauce and the meat sit together to really combine those flavors.
- This can be served with wide egg noodles like papardelle or fetuccine. Alternatively, you could serve with rice or bread. Although the meat is great, the highlight of this is the sauce.
- If you puree, realize that your going to emulsify whatever fat you didn't get rid of in the braising liquid. Ideally, you defat your braise as much as possible before throwing it in the blender, because the flavor of beef fat is a little heavy.
- Original recipe called for balsamic vinegar, which you definitely can add to give a little sweet acid.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Making progress on the outdoor kitchen. After having to completely repour the foundation to the house and have a structural engineer approve the plan...finally we have our outdoor structure and future site of the wood-fired oven! Potentially will be making pizzas here week after Master's. Stay tuned.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
One thing I've heard cooks talk about is removing the green growth from garlic. Have you ever tried to plant a clove in garlic in the ground to see what would happen? Sure enough it grows. The green is supposed to be bitter and a little difficult to digest. I've never had much of a problem with it, but what the heck, remove it, it's easy enough, and represents yet another reason you don't want or need a garlic press.
|From Drop Box|
|From Drop Box|
10-12 cloves of minced garlic
Olive oil, about 4:1 oil to garlic by volume
optional: hot chile pepper or 2 (I added a couple of chipotles)
Put on the stove on super-low, and let it simmer until the garlic is barely brown, maybe a couple of hours. What have you made?
Infused oil and minced garlic confit (kohn-FEE). Alternatively, you could just cut the fuzzy part of a whole head of garlic off, stick it in foil with some olive oil, and throw it in the oven while you're cooking something else, and you've got whole clove garlic confit, just like the stuff from the olive bar at the grocery store. It's great stuff to have around, and a good way to make use of bulk garlic. I can hardly use all the stuff up before it starts growing or goes bad.
|From Drop Box|
OK, so it wasn't that difficult, and really very little of it is when you apply a couple of basic techniques and plan appropriately.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
The order five years prior included a bisque, some clams, and a Maine blueberry cobbler, which were all good, but the lobsters weren't large enough. I got smart this time, and skipped the promotional Valentines package, opting for only lobsters. I paid about 1/3rd less, and got double the poundage in lobsters. If you've ever ordered live lobsters, you understand that they usually come in a styrofoam cooler, packed with an ice bag, wetted with a little sea water and seaweed, and a packet of sweet Maine sea salt for cooking.
Lindley and I were at home when they arrived, so we quickly checked that they were moving, and placed the container in the back fridge. Live lobsters are only guaranteed to stay that way for about 12 hours after they arrive, so the instructions will tell you to cook them the day of arrival. I figured the environmental factors were all working in my favor: cold temps departing the frigid coastal waters of Maine, flying in the unheated belly of a FedEx plane at 40,000 feet, and arriving on my doorstep on a day when we would receive a rare eight inches of snow. I did feel the need to check them every couple of hours, though. Lindley worked on ideas for Lobster-style Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), in the event that one was a bit too lethargic. Thankfully, we never had to implement that plan. The lobsters showed movement until dinner time.
Since announcing the arrival of live lobsters to both friends and family, I had gotten many comments or "questions" on the subject of lobster movement prior to placing them into the pot (e.g. "Are you gonna cook them alive?"). I say "questions", because they were more like concerns or statements than questions. "Questions" included:
So, what did I do? Well, I gave them about 36 hours to die on their own, then I let the steam do the work. See the pics below for the less than politically correct way to cook a lobster.
LINDLEY (6 years old) - "Daddy, I saw on Discovery Channel where they rubbed the back of the lobster shell and it fell asleep before they cooked it";
THE PAMPHLET - it came with the lobsters and said you could place them in fresh water for 15 minutes prior cooking, which would kill them. This is basically drowning the lobster, which to me, isn't any better than boiling it alive;
JW - "Don't put a stethascope up to the pot like Bobcat Goldthwait, cause you can hear them scream".
You may recall The Contraption I wrote about back in the spring of 2009 that we used at the oyster roast. I had been to the 06 Oriental Market a number of times to procure a contraption for myself after that. After a dozen or more visits I finally managed to obtain one close to the size of the contraption loaned to me for the oyster roast. My contraption is 36cm, whearas the borrowed one was a 40cm version. Not enough to justify waiting any longer, so I purchased it back in September, and placed it on a shelf in the laundry room. I had forgotten the contraption until I was searching for a way to cook the lobster without losing too much flavor. Steam seemed to be the best option, and the contraption did the trick. With two layers, I put 2.5 quarts of water and a cup of sea salt in the bottom, which I let come to a boil, then gingerly placed a lobster and some seaweed on each of the two layers while wearing my silicone Orca gauntlet gloves, and placed the lid on.
Seventeen minutes later, the layers were removed, and two succulent lobsters were paired with twice-baked potatoes from the New York Butcher Shoppe, and some Schramsburg Blanc de Noirs. The audible pleasures heard emanating from the dining room could have been mistaken for "What About Bob?" on the DVD player or pre-Valentines festivities.
As an aside, I saw either a Bordain or Andrew Zimmern show recently that was filmed in Thailand. Hundreds of street vendors were using well-worn versions of the contraption made from bamboo, drums, etc. to serve up steamed dumplings. I may have to try some steamed pork buns on it soon- the 06 market has frozen ones.