My blog used to be a bit of a cooking blog, but it is decidedly not anymore. I do still cook and bake, though! Tonight I made this sweet potato tea cake from bon appetit which is a recipe they shared from the Tartine people. I had some left over oven-roasted sweet potatoes that I didn’t want to go to waste. It turned out pretty good, if not perfect, due to my loaf pan being slightly smaller than the one called for. I tried to remove some of the batter before I baked it, but I didn’t scoop out enough, and it rose from the vessel and overflowed in a cascade of crispiness on the left side. There is 2 cups of sugar in this tea cake, which feels absurd, although 2/3 of one of the cups is in the meringue topping. For those wondering, everyone just thought it tasted like pumpkin. Alas, the lowly sweet potato, forever living in the mighty pumpkin’s shadow. I blame the cinnamon. Down with cinnamon, I say!
Notes on prep: The beets alone weren’t all that better to me than if you were to just roast them in tin foil with olive oil, salt and pepper; The goat cheese mouse was good, but I found it to be more satisfying after letting the mixture separate from the whey in the container over night. It becomes super thick and much richer than when you pump it full of nitrous imo; The caraway tuiles are a complete waste time–virtually flavorless when combined with the rest of the components and a complete pain in the ass to make; I didn’t even end up using the rye crumble b/c I thought it was gross; The beet vinaigrette is amazing! Just make this and some roasted beets and strategically crumble some decent goat cheese around the plate, and save yourself the trouble of 40 some-odd steps.
I swore off making my own pizza dough for years because the results always sucked. Store bought dough was never much better but at least you didn’t have to go through the pain in the ass that is making pizza dough before you topped and baked it and turned out a lame pizza. So, it had that advantage. But, now that I am older and wiser in the kitchen, I had been thinking that it’s time to give it another go. A few weeks (months? one never knows. . .) ago I put the Mozza cookbook on my library holds list for some reason–I think it was when Mario Batali was on Real Time with Bill Maher, and Bill was lavishing the Big B with praise as he is a co-owner. So the plug worked on me to some degree, I guess. Can I just say that I find Mario Batali obnoxiously grating, and yet the man can cook. I have made some excellent recipes from his books. I have a love/hate relationship with that guy. I kinda wish he would stick to the restauranteuring and pipe down a smidge.
Nancy Silverton is the chef at Mozza, and within the cookbook is an entire chapter devoted to the pizzas they make at the Osteria, and the Pizzeria. Basically, they looked hella bomb, and I went all in on giving one of these pizzas a try. So I went out this past saturday and picked up all of the extraneous items that i would need including wheat germ, something that I don’t think I would have ever purchased without being prompted to. I couldn’t find barley malt, but then I didn’t try too hard since it stipulates that you can sub honey. Then I got back home and went at it. This dough turned out to be, unsurprisingly, an all day affair with 1 hour here, 45 minutes there type steps that ends up eating your whole day. Luckily, I have a 1 yr old who won’t bacdafucup with the her Little Red Hen book to keep me busy in the interim. To be fair, she did help me make the dough, to the extent that she was able to. (She helped me hold down my Kitchen-Aid mixture as it rocked this big ball of dough all around the bowl, for instance. Seriously, don’t walk away from it. It’s a canned earthquake.) Somehow, it was still an exciting endeavor, and my hopes remained extremely high through out the process.
I had all of my ingredients prepared and ready to go, my six balls of dough proofed as a motherfucker, the oven mad hot, ready to go. I get to kneeding my first crust out, and all kinds of holes start popping off in it. Naturally, I started to get heated, but I calmed down a bit, and went at the next one with a bit more tenderness. This dough is SUPER WET, and moves like crazy. It stretched out way faster than I was ready for, and was really sticky, but I worked it out. The top picture is the second pizza I made. It turned out damn good. The craziest thing about this pizza is that the ‘sauce’ is just whipped cream––the panna. I had my doubts when I was reading the recipe, but it turned out to be an amazing base. The crust was extremely light and airy and had a wonderful yeasty flavor that I can’t say I’ve ever truly experienced so intensely in a pizza’s flavor profile. It was a great crust, and all the more so since it came out of my janky electric oven. I might even go so far as to say it’s in my top five pizzas ever from anywhere. There is only one or two in the whole of Portland that can even hang with this as far as I’m concerned.
The second pizza pic is from some dough we froze and held over for a few days, and then defrosted. As you can see, the two pizzas are nearly identical, however, the dough lost a good deal of its complexity by not being used immediately. It was still a high quality pizza, though. Below is the upskirt photo, which is important to some people, thus it is included. I’m like, eh, it’s the bottom of a pizza, what about it?
The recipe for the dough can be found here: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/10/nancy-silvertons-pizza-dough-recipe.html
Many of the steps listed are superfluous, so don’t be daunted by the high step-count.
The toppings are as follows, listed in the order they should be applied:
–olive oil, brushed along the edge
–kosher salt, sprinkled all over the dough
–whipped cream, spread around the dough, leaving a 1″ border
–fennel sausage, 2oz per pizza par-cooked, broken into small pieces
–scallions, sliced extremely thin on an exaggerated bias
–red onion, sliced extremely thin
–low moisture mozzarella, cut into 1/2″ cubes, approx. 8 cubes per pizza
One of my favorites meals as a child was the Smurf Sandwich. I guess I have always empathized with Gargamel and his mangy cat Azreal, even in the tender toddler years. I hadn’t thought about it in years, but my daughter has developed a fascination with these little figurines, and thus it came back to me in a flood of nostalgia. The 80’s were something else, despite the hair bands. Even though I basically can’t stand the Smurfs TV show any more, there’s just something about these blue little guys that brings up all kinds of warm feelings. So, I thought I’d go ahead and fix myself a Smurf Sandwich for old-times sake.
The above photo is a cross-section of Brainy Smurf’s right thigh (a very satisfying smurf!) Smurfs are magical creatures so their meat is laced with all of this preternatural marbleization, but they are also forest dwellers, and lean, so they are kind of gamey. The likelihood of capturing enough of them to make a luxurious stew or braise being pretty slim, it proves necessary to create a spread from the meat of as many Smurfs as you are able to get your hands on. The Smurfs need to cook long and slow in order to adequately tenderize the meat. Cooking them with some aromatics, such as their mushroom houses (yes! cook them with their homes) is recommended. The distinct flavor of the Smurf pairs well with peanut butter. It’s really strong, in the same way a truffle is–it’s almost overwhelming. The way we would do it when I was a kid was to really break the meat up into almost a paste really, and then whip it into some fluff. Then, you would just make yourself a Fluffernutter with the essence of Smurf up in it. If you are in the mood for something a bit more toothsome, and have a few Smurfs to spare, then go ahead and throw a few on whole.
We almost picked up a pizza for dinner last night, but at the last minute decided to buy a premium 28 day dry-aged rib-eye instead. Needless to say, this is one of the better things that life has on offer, at least in terms of food. We don’t eat red meat very often in our house, and it is even less often that we splurge on insanely expensive cuts like this one. We usually buy bavette or one of the other miscellaneous ‘flap’ meats. Fortunately, we were parked right outside a specialty market, so we didn’t have time to reconsider.
I’ve taken this post as an opportunity to jump right into doing some of these sort-of augmentation design pieces I alluded to in my previous post. There isn’t much to work with around here, but I made due with a section of the Sunday NYTimes, and paper shopping bag. I like the first, the second was is just OK to me, and the third one is really just a cop-out I did real quick just to wrap it up. I have to spend some time playing with my baby today, after all!
This is billed as a Momofuku recipe, but the reality is that this is just the way it is done, at least on the stove. Grilling is a whole different story. The ribeye featured in this post is half the size of the one the recipe calls for.
Instructions for Cooking a Ribeye per David Chang of Momofuku
2 to 2.5 pound bone-in rib-eye steak, preferably dry-aged
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp unsalted butter
Few sprigs of thyme
3 garlic cloves
1 medium or 2 small shallots
Maldon salt or use any large grain sea salt you have.
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F
2. Heat a medium to large (10-12 inch) cast-iron pan over high heat.
3. While the pan is heating, season both sides of the steak liberally with Kosher salt. I would say more like how you’d sprinkle a bed with rose petals, rather than how you’d salt a sidewalk in New York in the winter. Then season with pepper.
4. When the pan is ready (really, really hot), place one side of the steak down and do NOT touch it. The steak should sizzle aggressively. After 2 minutes, using tongs, flip the steak onto its other side. The seared side should be on the golden side of browned. Sear the other side for another 2 minutes. Then, stand the steak up on its fatty edge (opposite the bone) and sear that for 30 seconds. Afterwards, turn it back down on the first side that was seared.
5. Place the steak in the oven and leave it alone for 8 minutes.
6.Protect your hands and remove the steak from the pan, then place it back on the stove over low heat. Add the butter, thyme, garlic and shallots to the pan. As soon as the butter melts, start basting! Use one hand to tilt the pan at a 45 degree angle so that the butter pools at the bottom. Then with the other hand, scoop the liquid butter up with a large spoon and bathe the steak. Baste constantly for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes or so, the steak will be rather rare. If you like it that way, stop now and move to step 6. If you like medium rare (which is your next and last option), keep basting for another minute or two. Move it to a plate and let it rest. Make sure to leave the remaining fat/butter in the pan and reheat it once the steak is ready to eat.
7. Lastly, slice the steak. Cut the steak off of the bones and slice against the grain (perpendicular to the bone) into half-inch thick slabs. Sprinkle on some Maldon salt and drizzle the remaining fat/butter over the pieces. Serve with potatoes and drippings.
If nothing else, I can slay a pork loin roast! This has become our small family’s traditional Christmas dinner, being that we’ve made it two years in a row. My extended family does a beef rib roast, so this is just a step sideways. Last year, me and a couple of guys went in on a half a pig from Tails and Trotters. As part of the deal I walked away with two of these bad ass roasts. The thing about the pigs from T&T is that they have a ridiculous fat cap:
In this picture I had cut away half of the fatty layer, and it’s still thick as hell! A long time ago I did a fairly unsung post on cooking duck breasts, which have a comparatively thick fatty layer in reference to their general size. If you’ve ever had a really well cooked duck breast, then you know that there are few things better to eat than the crispy, rendered skin on a duck breast. It is simply amazing! Initially, when I saw the volume of fat on these roasts (and the pics in this post is a composite of 3 different roasts) I was pissed! Seriously angry, because I was just like ‘These are all fat! WTF!?’ But then I sat and thought on it, and hit upon the idea to cook them the same way I cook duck breasts, and I started to feel way better about the whole thing. The picture at the top is from the first one I made, with long parallel cuts through the fat. Honestly, they’re all parallel like that because I’d already tied up the roast with kitchen twine, and I didn’t want to do it again. I didn’t actually think to score the fat until after I had tied and brined it.
To render the fat, you have to cook it on the stove on medium to medium low heat. How much you render it depends on how much patience you possess. I’ll spend 45 minutes just on rendering the fat. The beauty of it, though, is that you don’t really need to pay that close attention to it so long as you don’t have the heat too high. Because of the large area, and curved nature of the roast, you have to render it in stages, and my experience is that it takes about 3 stages of rendering at 15 minutes per section, emptying the pan of the rendered fat occasionally. The last one I did took 2 sets of 20 minutes, since the butcher frenched the bones for me (sick bastard. . .)
Once you’ve sufficiently rendered it, the roast goes into a 350º oven until its internal temperature reaches 135ºF, basting every 15 minutes. With these roasts it takes about 1 hour. On my first attempt I added all the garlic to the pan as soon as it went into the oven, and 1 hour ended up being a touch too long, so now I add it after 15 minutes at the first baste, tossing it around in the fatty juices in the pan to coat them. The roasted garlic is so good. I recommend adding 2 or 3 bulbs worth of cloves to the pan, as in my experience there never seems to be enough to go around. We consistently fight about who will get the last few pieces!
After pulling the roast at 135º, it is essential to let it rest for a minimum of 15 minutes. The rest will redistribute the juices throughout the roast, and also bring the temperature up to approximately 145º, for medium to medium rare.
This is a wholly unforgivable plate shot of our roast from Christmas 2010, but I share it to illustrate a few things about the process. I did not render the fat long enough, and as you can see there is a great deal of actual fat left around the edge, which is fine, I guess, because there is still a whole lot of the deliciously crispy part. However, the proportions should be reversed––there should be way more crispy part! I tried to remedy this by scoring the fat in cuts closer together and on a diagonal on my next attempt. It proved to be a justified modification. However, on my third and most recent attempt, I scored it in a full-blown diamond cross-hatch, and this achieved the best results, while perhaps not being as pretty as the other variations. The fat rendered better, the crispy bits were thicker and some how more flavorfully power-packed. I recommend this approach most highly. Check the full roasting program below, and here’s to gluttony in the New Year!
Thomas Keller Pork Brine:
Combine the following in a large pot:
1/4 cup plus 2 TBLS honey
12 bay leaves
3 large rosemary sprigs
1/2 bunch thyme
1/2 cup of garlic cloves, crushed
2 TBLS black peppercorns
1 cup of kosher sale
1 gallon of cold water
Bring to boil, and let it boil for 1 minute, then allow it to cool. (This brine is also great for roast chicken, just add 2 halved lemons.) Once it’s cool, pour it over the roast in a large container and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Cooking the Roast
1 (4) rib Pork Loin Roast with substantial fat cap, ideally around 1/2″ thick
3 bulbs of garlic broken into cloves, skin left on, and lightly crushed
a few sprigs of thyme
fresh ground nutmeg
salt and pepper
1 large pat of butter
Pre-heat the oven to 375º
Remove the roast from the brine, rinse it, and pat it dry. place it in the freezer for about 30 minutes. This makes scoring the fat much easier. With a very sharp knife, score the fat in a cross-hatch pattern being careful not to cut into the flesh of the roast. Once this is done, grate a hearty amount of fresh nutmeg over the fat, and then rub it in with a tablespoon or so of thick grained salt. Next tie the roast off with butcher twine using one piece through each set of ribs. Heat a large heavy-bottomed pan on the stove over medium to medium low heat. If the heat is too high, the fat will not render, but rather it will sear it, encasing the fat within the fat! As seen in the photo above, it is necessary to use some sort of leverage to keep the roast tilted up to one side. I use a wooden spoon, but anything heat resistant will do. Once the roast is in the pan, and the fat begins to render, you will need to pour off the accumulation into a separate bowl. How you go about it is a matter of personal strength and preference. I tend to grab it through the twine with a pair of tongs and hold it over a plate, while pouring the fat into the bowl. This stage will take some time.
Once the fat is sufficiently rendered, and you find that you have a uniform, cripsy, golden crust, move the roast into the oven skin-side up, and lower the oven to 350º. After 15 minutes pull the roast and add the butter to the pan and baste it. Then, add the thyme sprigs and all of the garlic, and toss around to coat. Next, place as much of the garlic on top of the roast as space will allow, and move the roast back into the oven. Baste every 15 minutes, and check the internal temperature after 45 minutes. Allow the roast to continue cooking until it has reached an internal temperature of 135º, then pull the roast from the oven, and let it rest for at least 15 minutes. Finally, slice and serve as you see fit. I like it cut nice and thick, right through the ribs!
I went for brisk jog after work today, and when I got home from doing that I proceeded to give (take?) all of those burned calories right back. I’m usually always lusting after a cheeseburger, and occasionally I’ll pop into a place and have one, but up and away prefer to make them at home, especially when the weather is properly in favor of firing up the grill. Gabrielle and I used to go to a bar called The Victory Bar back before we became parents. Now we don’t really go to bars at all, but we often want to, and we also often want to drunkenly consume delicious, heart-stopping bar food of all sorts and regret it in the morning. That’s a rarity, too. Anyway, this burger is modeled after the one they serve at Victory, and one of the burgers that I find a deep yearning for from time to time. Their version is a venison burger with crispy leeks and a worscestershire aioli, with the option to add Rogue Blue. It comes with a few simple bread and butter pickles, and fresh fried potato chips. My first deviation was to forgo the venison once I discovered that the price per pound is outrageous, at least at the place I happened to be shopping, in favor of plain old ground hamburger, 20% fat content (the only way to go burger-wise, imo.) The second was to add bacon, which requires no further explanation. The way it stakes up is like this, from bottom to top: hamburger bun from New Seasons Market (a passable if not great roll) toasted on the grill with olive oil, Edmond Fallot Dijon Mustard; 1/4lb beef patty; crumbled blue cheese, two bacon strips (from CHOP); some pickled red onion (it’s yellow b/c I pickled it a jar w/ golden beets); fried, crispy leeks (thinly sliced green part); and some worcestershire aioli, which I can’t explain because ours didn’t quite work out, but it still had a great flavor. We rounded out the plates with some sautéed baby bok choi, and a gang of Kettle Chips. This was one of the top burgers that I’ve ever made at home, but I have to withhold a few points due to my aioli fail. It’s probably due to laziness, but I already had some homemade mayonnaise in the fridge, and I just tried to stir in some worcestershire sauce, and it fell apart, and became pretty watery, but like I said it was still pretty tasty. I just love the creaminess of mayo on a burger. It’s probably my favorite burger condiment, over-all, so I did miss that component. But, I’m nit-picking. On days like this, I like to get all my glutinous tendencies out of the way, so after Gabrielle left for work, Lucia and I took a walk down to The Sugar Cube, and split a slice of chocolate bread pudding. . .
Life is really such a burden sometimes.
Sometimes, (full disclosure: often) after I prepare something for dinner, I look down at the plate and I ask myself what my problem is, and wonder why it is that I can not manage to put together a reasonably-sized dinner; why I inevitably fix a plate that is at least 2 times bigger than what I need to eat. I was faced with this difficulty of portion yet again as I prepared to sit down to the Newshour, and an enormous plate of food composed of 2 sunnyside-ups, 2 fried polenta cakes, and 2 of Voget’s smoked porkchops:
Realizing that I probably only really needed 1 each of these things, I shrugged my shoulders, and vowed that Next Time, I will be more careful about how much food I put on the plate! I moved to the table and began to eat. About half-way through the meal, I realized that in this case, though, I had not actually made a mistake of portion, but rather of proportion, and what I really needed was a third egg. You see, I ran out of runny goodness, with smokey pork to spare! Yes, I learned a valuable lesson that day. . .
I decided to make, it turned out, a rather large pot of carnitas the other day from a rather motley crew of random pork shoulder pieces suspended in the condensed ice in my fairly antiquated ice-box. Eating mountainous portions of tender, caramelized and crispy carnitas is great, and all, but what really heightens the experience for me is having a vibrant, fresh foil to play off of the rich lusciousness of the heavily seasoned meat. I turned to Plenty, a cookbook comprised of articles collected from Yotam Ottolengi’s weekly article ‘The New Vegetarian’ published in the Guardian newspaper. Leafing through the pages, I came to the recipe titled Sweet Winter Slaw, and saw in it the perfect match for my particular craving. It pairs and abundance of cabbage with plethora of tropical fruit, and things get even more intense with the addition of sweet & salty & spicy nuts!
The most difficult part of this recipe was squeezing almost have a cup of lime juice out of these limes that I bought that turned out to be a touch mealy. Everything else was a breeze; just chopping, slicing and measuring. To make the dressing combine: 6 1/2 Tbls lime juice, 1 chopped-up lemongrass stalk, 3 Tbls Maple syrup (or, agave nectar), 2 Tbls toasted sesame oil, 1 tsp soy sauce, an 1/4 tsp red chile flakes in a small sauce pan and boil to reduce to a syrupy consistency, 5-10 minutes. Strain, set aside and allow to cool, then wisk in 4 Tbls light olive oil. You can obviously play around with the sweet/salty components of this dressing. I would argue that the only truly essential components are the limes and lemongrass.
The recipe calls for macadamias, but suggests peanuts as an alternative, and that’s what I used since I had some on hand. This was the truly eye-opening component of the recipe, because I had never caramelized nuts before, and was struck by the ease with which a rather pedestrian snack staple could be elevated into something so extraordinary that constant snacking becomes lost in a crunchy fog of peanuty sugar-dust. These are unstoppable!
Place 1 cup of peanuts in in a frying pan and dry roast over medium heat for a few minutes. If you are already using dry-roasted peanuts, you won’t have to spend too much time dry-roasting (but it’s probably a good idea to get the heat up on em’ for the rest of steps.) Next, add about a tablespoon over butter to the pan, and allow it to melt completely, stirring the nuts with a wooden spoon to coat evenly. Then, add 2 Tbls Sugar, I/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp chile flakes, all at once, to the pan and stir constantly for just a few minutes until the sugar begins to caramelize, and it all looks irresistible, then turn them out onto a sheet of parchment paper and allow to cool.
Just a note of personal safety: if a nut jumps out of the pan, DO NOT attempt to retrieve it and throw it back into the pan. Hot sugar is mean. I’ve learned this from experience (too many times.)
From here on out, it’s all slicin’ and dicin’ baby! With a BIG bowl at the ready: finely shredd about half a Savoy cabbage, and half a red cabbage; cut 1 mango into thin strips; cut 1 papaya into thin strips; seed and slice 1 red chile; roughly chop about a 1/4 cups (1/2 a bunch) worth of mint leaves, and 1 1/2 cups (basically a full bunch) of cilantro. Toss all of these ingredients together, then add the dressing and toss again.
My only deviation from the recipe is to reserve the caramelized peanuts and to add just before you are ready to serve the slaw. This is another lesson that I have learned in regards peanuts, but it never seems to stick: peanuts get very soggy, even super crunchy and sugary ones. I had to make a second batch of them for the leftover slaw the next day.
Look at the vibrancy of this salad! It really is a terrific combination of ingredients, and yields quite massive amount of food. I’m not sure why it is named a winter salad aside from the cabbage. I’m looking forward to whipping up a big bowl of this for a picnic now the spring is creeping up on us.
As for the carnitas, at first I went with the traditional food cart-style with a simple dressing of chopped onion and cilantro:
But the next day, I went for it and topped the heaping mounds of carnitas with the slaw. Truly a revelation: Best Taco Ever!?
Link: to original Sweet Winter’s Slaw recipe
Ben’s Carnitas template:
“5-6 lbs pork shoulder, cubed (1 in deep by 3-4 in long)
2 cups h20
325 covered 2, 2.5 hrs
Pull meat, reduce sauce
Mix meat with sauce
Place on trays in oven, broil till crispy (5-6 min)
This is pretty basic explanation but you should be able to figure it out. Typically put one orange and one lime skin/husk in while cooking. oregano/cumin measurements are a liberal cover. Oh, I’ve also gotten to replacing about a cup of the liquid with booze. have tried bourbon and dark beer, both have been fine, former probably better if you’ve got it to spare”