Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Wonders of "Ratio"

Recieved Ruhlman's "Ratio" last week and read cover to cover on the plane to and from New Orleans. Reading this book, if legit, does amazing things for the avid home cook. It ends reliance on recipes! When in New Orleans last weekend, Lil B recommended we try crawfish-goat cheese crepes at Muriel's on Jackson Square. They were indeed quite good, and I couldn't help but think to myself..."I could make something better..." Of course my efforts to duplicate were foiled when neither the BILE-LOW or the K-Roger had any crawfish tails. However, I did find some frozen lobster tails at the K-Roger, so that's what I went with.

Here's how the dinner came together. Got home around 6PM. Boiled some water with a little champagne vinegar and poured over the still frozen lobster tails. Let steep for 5 minutes. I then rinsed under cool running water, removed the tails from their shell and popped into the fridge. I next chopped the shells into little bits, tossed into some water with some veg that included leftover fennel and left to simmer. 615PM went out to play with babies. 715PM removed simmering "stock" from stove and took Julia upstairs for some exciting Elmo action.

745PM returned to the kitchen, got Lucy and Julia some bedtime milk and made the crepe batter. This is where "Ratio" kicks in. Knowing that crepe batter is a ratio of 2 part liquid, 2 part egg, and 1 part flour, I needed no recipe to make a savory crepe. I wanted just enough batter for 2 people, so I made a 2 egg crepe batter. Large eggs weight about 2 ounces each, so I mixed 2 eggs with 1/2 cup (4 oz) of my strained lobster stock, and using my scale measured out 2 ounces of AP flour. For leavening, I added 1/4 tsp baking powder (1 tsp usual per cup flour) and for seasoning a big pinch of salt and some red curry powder. I whisked the mess together and popped into the fridge. I also fired up my make shift sous vide apparatus and set the water bath for 139 degrees as recommended by Keller (he actually prefers 139.1 degrees for lobster, and yes .1 degrees makes a difference?)

755PM went back upstairs to help put the girls to bed.

810PM back in the kitchen. Preheated oven to 350 degrees. Made 5 crepes and set aside to cool. Made filling. Made 1/2 and 1/2 mixture of ricotta & goat cheese seasoned simply with salt, pepper, and fines de herbs.

820PM "Food-saved" lobster tails with a couple pats of butter and tossed into the sous vide apparatus. Filled crepes and popped into oven. Set timer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile made a sauce out of a shallot, white wine, remaining lobster stock, a little coconut milk (let over from last night, had no cream), some curry powder and finished with some butter kneaded with flour.

The result was on the table at 840PM and gone by 850PM.

Was this as good as what I had in NOLA? Not quite, but it's my first attempt, and I do believe I heard several MMMMMs from Jenny.

BTW: lobster cooked sous I've had at I've had anywhere outside of a Ritz-Carlton or 4 star uppity joint. Keller actually cooks lobster, not sous vide per say, but poaches directly in a butter bath at 139.1 degrees maintained by a thermal immersion circulator. This requires about 5 kg butter (about $100 worth of butter). My version used 1 T butter per tail (about 10 cents worth) and was full of buttery goodness. I can't wait to try Keller's someday. Maybe I'll walk into Per Se next time in NYC, sit at the bar and order a tail ala cart.

1 comment:

JW said...

If you're interested, Ruhlman has posted a downloadable chart summarizing some of the key points from Ratio.