Archive for May, 2011
I guess it’s a good thing that National Beer Week and Grape Popsicle Day (May 27) are just in time for Memorial Day Weekend. Well, I’m sure that the beer holiday, at least, was made the fourth week of May because of Memorial Day, but we won’t split hairs.
Anyway, if you want to know all about beer, try 2BaSnob or the beer guide at Food & Wine. As for the grape popsicle, I thought I’d go one better than the cold ice on a stick–a cold cocktail. Here’s a recipe for Grape Popsicle Cocktail from GroupRecipes.com. And remember, be responsible…don’t drink and drive!
- 2 oz vodka shopping list
- 1 oz red grape juice shopping list
- 2 oz lemon-lime soda shopping list
- Highball glass with ice shopping list
- Garnish-grape Popsicle on a stick for the side of the glass
- Combine ingredients over a modest amount of ice in a skinny highball glass.
- Garnish, of course, with a grape Popsicle.
- Be careful — too much ice and the Popsicle becomes unmanageable, and that’s just no fun.
Hi, folks–whew. Had my knife skills test last week and did pretty well! Woo-hoo! Though I’ve been cooking for many years, culinary school requires that you learn certain techniques in style and uniformity of cuts, and it’s been kind of difficult for me to wrap my brain and fingers around that.
So today, I’ll talk a little bit about knives.
It’s National Quiche Lorraine Day!
Quiche Lorraine has become a classic staple of French cuisine. However, its origin is known to be Germany—specifically, Lothringen—in1586. It is recorded to appear at the court of Charles the 3rd, Duke of Lorraine.
The French renamed the town Lorraine. The word quiche—as French as it may sound—is actually derived from the German word for cake, kuchen. (If you’re interested in linguistic evolution or word origins, this is from Wikipedia: “The Lorraine Franconian dialect of the German language is historically spoken in much of the region, where German Kuchen, “cake”, was first altered to “küche”. Typical Alemannic changes unrounded the ü (/y/) and shifted the fricative “ch” (/ç/) to “sh” ([ʃ]), resulting in “kische”, which in standard French orthography became spelled “quiche.” Got that?)
The original recipe consisted of eggs, cream, bacon, and bread dough for the crust. Later on, the French brought it up a notch in sophistication by exchanging the bread-dough crust for a flakier pastry crust. Cheese was also added later.
Quiche became popular in the U.S. in the 1950s with the widespread introduction of French cuisine in the home, and this was when the notion that “real men don’t eat quiche” was born. Why? Probably because quiche was, and is, often a lunch or main entree dinner option, alongside a salad or perhaps some soup. Women seem to be satisfied with this kind of meal. Men aren’t. Or weren’t. Now that men (in some places and circles) have moved away from that big meat-and-potatoes-with-lots-of-gravy-and-biscuits kind of diet, they are more open to lighter fare.
Below are a couple of recipe for a traditional Quiche Lorraine, courtesy of Emeril Lagasse, and a vegetarian version, courtesy of Jewishfood-list.com. Plus, I’m throwing in a Broccoli Quiche, just because quiche is a great thing.
Flaky Butter Crust, recipe follows
6 ounces thick cut bacon, cut into narrow strips (or “lardons”)
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to an 11-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and trim the edges. (Alternatively, a 9-inch pie pan can be used.) Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the crust is set, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
In a medium skillet, cook the bacon until crisp and the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Discard the fat or reserve for another use.
Arrange the bacon evenly over the bottom of the baked crust.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, yolks, and half and half. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk to combine. Pour into the prepared crust and bake until the custard is golden, puffed, and set yet still slightly wiggly in the center, 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with Simple Salad.
Flaky Butter Crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1 to 2 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed
To make the dough in a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and butter in the processor and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube and pulse quickly 5 or 6 times, or until the dough comes together and starts to pull away from the sides of the container. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
To make the dough by hand, combine the flour, salt, and butter in a medium bowl, and mix with a pastry blender or your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time and mix until the dough comes together and is no longer dry, being careful not to overmix. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface according to the recipe, fit it into the pan, and allow to rest again in the refrigerator before baking.
Yield: one 9-inch tart or pie crust.
Quiche Lorraine, Vegetarian
Serves: 6 to 8
1 deep 9″ pie tin, lined with an unbaked pastry shell
4 large or extra large eggs, plus 1 extra egg white
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) freshly grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 pound diced soy Canadian “bacon”
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, peeled, sliced, and separated into rings
1 3-ounce can (1/2 cup) broiled, sliced mushrooms in butter sauce, drained (obviously, you can slice and sauté fresh mushrooms instead of using canned)
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 450°F. Prick bottom and sides of unbaked pastry with tines of fork. Bake 5 minutes. Slightly beat one egg white. Slightly brush over pastry. Bake 2 minutes longer. Remove pan from oven. Place on wire rack to cool.
Pour Gruyere cheese, Parmesan cheese, and flour into mixing bowl. Lightly stir with fork. Evenly sprinkle over pastry shell. Evenly sprinkle with “bacon.” Set aside.
Melt butter in skillet. Add onion rings. Sauté over low flame until golden. Turn off flame under pot. Evenly spread layer of onions over “bacon.” Evenly sprinkle with mushrooms. Set aside.
Beat eggs in mixing bowl. Add cream, salt, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. Blend thoroughly. Pour into pie shell.
Place pan on center shelf of oven. Bake 15 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until puffed and golden, and knife inserted in center of custard comes out clean (about 10 to 15 minutes longer).
Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
All this talk about vegetarian bacon reminds me of this wonderful quiche recipe, which was given to me by a former colleague (who was from France), and everyone has always raved about it.
Posted by Virginia Sauer (Sir Angus), Z’L
Courtesy of Easy-FrenchFood.com
Prep time: 20 min – Cook time: 40 min
1 round unsweetened pie crust
2 cups small broccoli florets
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup shredded cheese (gruyere or swiss work well)
11/2 cups crème fraîche (or whipping cream)
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
Begin by preparing the crust for blind baking. Fit the crust to a 10 inch tart pan(insert link) and prick it through with the tines of a fork in about 20 places. Place the pan in the freezer for 20 minutes and preheat the oven to 400°F. (Placing the crust in the freezer helps to keep it from slipping and bubbling when you bake it.)
Place the chilled crust directly in the hot oven and bake for 12 minutes until just golden. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375° F.
Steam the broccoli for about 3 minutes in the microwave. It should be just barely tender. Don’t over steam or you’ll lose the good flavor of this vegetable.
Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a small no stick skillet on medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally just until the onion is soft (about 5 to 8 minutes).
Spread the broccoli and onions evenly on the bottom of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the cheese on top of this.
In a medium bowl whisk the eggs, crème fraiche, nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper together just until blended. Pour this on top of the vegetables and cheese. Place the pan.in the oven and bake just until done – about 40 minutes.
Makes 6 servings.
Mushrooms: Substitute 1 cup of sliced mushrooms for 1 cup of the broccoli. Precook the mushrooms with the onion.
Ham: Add 1 cup of diced ham for an extra punch.
Oh. My. God. It’s National Devil’s Food Cake Day. I don’t know many people who don’t enjoy a piece of devil’s food cake every now and then. It’s decadent, rich, delicious, and tempting. Hence it’s name. It was considered so sinful that the Devil himself had to have created it. I’m not a huge chocolate fan. I mean, I like chocolate, but I don’t crave it like other people do. I’ll usually take a bag of Doritos over chocolate. But I love me some devil’s food. What I like about it is that it’s chocolatey without being overpoweringly so.
The first devil’s food cake recipe appears in the very early 20th century, around 1900 or 1905. However, some food historians point out that food writer Caroline King mentions devil’s food cake in her 1920s memoir of her childhood in the 1880s.
But what exactly is a Devil’s Food Cake? What makes it different from ordinary chocolate cake? Some sources say that it’s the use of coffee and cocoa, rather than melted chocolate, that distinguishes it. It also tends to be a darker, richer color, perhaps due to the use of baking soda (instead of baking powder), which brings out the cocoa color). Some say that the richer color is merely from using more chocolate (vs. cocoa). Fannie Farmer doubled her chocolate quantity from 2 oz. to 4 oz., thus turning a chocolate cake into a devil’s food cake. In Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer wrote, “When the larger amount of chocolate is used, it is a black, rich Devil’s Food.”
Below is a recipe for Devil’s Food Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream from the January 2001 issue of Gourmet. Life is good.
Devil’s Food Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream
Yield: Makes 10 servings
- 1 cup boiling water
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- Brown sugar buttercream or chocolate sour cream frosting
- Garnish: chocolate curls tipped with gold leaf
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 3 (8- by 2-inch) round cake pans and line bottoms of each with rounds of wax or parchment paper. Butter paper and dust pans with flour, knocking out excess.
Whisk together boiling water and cocoa powder in a bowl until smooth, then whisk in milk and vanilla. 3Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in another bowl.
Beat together butter and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in flour and cocoa mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture (batter may look curdled).
Divide batter among pans, smoothing tops. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of pans halfway through baking, until a tester comes out clean and layers begin to pull away from sides of pans, 20 to 25 minutes total. Cool layers in pans on racks 10 minutes, then invert onto racks, remove wax paper, and cool completely.
Put 1 cake layer, rounded side up, on a cake plate and spread with about 1 cup buttercream. Top with another cake layer, rounded side up, and spread with another cup buttercream. Top with remaining cake layer and frost top and sides of cake with remaining buttercream.
• Cake layers may be made 2 days ahead of assembling and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature or frozen up to 1 week.
• Cake may be assembled 1 day ahead and chilled in a cake keeper or loosely covered with plastic wrap (use toothpicks to hold wrap away from frosting). Bring to room temperature before serving.
• This batter can be baked in 2 (9- by 1-inch) round cake pans 25 to 30 minutes; in a 13- by 9- by 2-inch pan 35 to 40 minutes; in a 12-cup bundt pan 35 to 40 minutes; or in 24 (1/2-cup) muffin cups 20 to 25 minutes.
The third week of May is International Pickles Week. Some people can take or leave pickles, but some absolutely love them and they will eat anything pickled.
Let me know how they turn out.
Recently, I had to do my first Friday Night Dinner at the Natural Gourmet Institute. For those of you who don’t know what that is, the school opens up on Fridays to the public as a restaurant. Guests get a prix fixe meal of an appetizer, entree, and dessert, and the menu changes every week. The students sometimes plan the menu (which, at some point, we all must do), but usually it’s the designated chef’s menu that the students must execute.
So, I got there early and I was waiting in the common area for someone to tell me what to do. A little Japanese woman came up to me and asked, “You’re here for the Friday Night Dinner, right?” I said yes. She said, “I am the chef for the dinner. I am Hideyo.” Okay, so now I’ve met my chef. I was a little concerned at this point about being able to follow her directions because she had a really thick accent. But I took it in stride. I’ll be fine, I told myself.
Then she said, “I heard you are a good student, so I’m putting you in charge of the pastry.” My first thought was that my class hadn’t done pastry yet. Wouldn’t she want to find out first if I’ve been trained in that art? She said the dessert for the night would be a cake. Then I thought, okay, I’m no stranger to baking, I can handle this.
“I want you to look at the recipe and read it.” She handed me a stack of recipes and turned to the cake page, saying, “You are the master of this cake.” All righty. She indicated that there was a lot to do and that it would require a lot of time.Three other people were going to help me with it. That meant it was complicated. But, fine, I’m no stranger to complicated either. I can handle this. Then she stated, “This cake is the most important part of my menu.”
Great. No pressure on me.
I looked at the recipe…and my stomach lurched. I had never seen a recipe written like this in my entire life. Instructions for the preparations and assembly were on two different pages and you had to flip back and forth between the two pages. On the second page, the 5 different elements were in these boxes all over the page: a gluten-free cake, raspberry puree, raspberry cream, chocolate-avocado cream, and glaze. There was nothing consecutive or sequential about this recipe. And to make things worse, everything was in grams. Those of you outside the U.S. will think nothing of this—you weigh your ingredients all the time. But most Americans do not and it’s not something I’m used to. Now I’m starting to freak out a little. But I think, I know my way around a kitchen. I will get a hold of this recipe and master it. Here’s the thing, though. When you’re trying to control the execution of a recipe, and the people who are working with you don’t know that they should be deferring to you and would not defer to anyone but their chef anyway, you’re going to have a problem.
And I did. I completely lost control of the damn thing. No one was communicating and we kept overlapping steps. The real problem, though, was that every one of us was completely confused about this recipe. There was so much confusion and chaos in the kitchen, I was trying to pull everyone’s efforts together, and there was no communication, but what there was…was a screw-up. Oh, how I screwed up!
I had to make applesauce by roasting and pureeing apples. Then I had to weigh out 600 grams. Except that I forgot to weigh it and used the entire batch, mixing in other ingredients. When the chef found out, she asked me, “Did you weigh the applesauce?” I said no, and she asked, “Why?” I had no answer. If could have crawled under the table, I would have. I had failed my chef and wanted to cry. She began doing these mathematical calculations, mixed in other stuff for the cake batter, and separated the batches. I had no clue how she figured out how much of each ingredient to use, but she made it work.
The next day, she showed me how I had to cut it. Three cakes had to be sliced with excruciating precision. And I was allowed to use the knife only once. When I sliced, I handed it over to someone else, who put it in a pan of hot water, cleaned it, and wiped it try. Meanwhile, I sliced with another knife. So we had these two knives rotating. It took an hour to cut these perfect little triangles. Once we were on the plating line, executing the chef’s vision of each course, I picked up those chocolate-covered rectangles very gingerly and placed them on the plates just so. Once I passed each plate to the the next person, it was out of my hands. I was like a mamma bird sending off her chick into flight. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera so I only got a crappy camera phone shot, and before the cake was plated.
The entire experience was traumatic and I think I’m scarred for life. But in the end, she shook my hand, patted me on the back, and said, “Good job.” (She was tougher than her size would suggest—I thought my lung would collapse from that pat.) Despite the major faux pas and my inexperience in a professional kitchen, I think I did well overall. Most of all, it was exhilarating. There was an adrenaline rush about it all. It was damn hard work but I really enjoyed it. Mind you, it confirmed for me that I don’t want to be a restaurant chef, but I think a part of me will forevermore crave that high.
~ Appetizer ~
Red cabbage and red grapefruit terrine
Beets and potatoes with tahini sauce
Broccoli rabe in Japanese mustard sauce
~ Entree ~
Tofu carpaccio with watermelon radishes
Green pea falafels
Steamed quinoa with bamboo shoots and spring vegetables
Raw kale and avocado salad
~ Dessert ~
Raspberry almond chocolate cake
Hojicha ice cream
Like all serious foodies, and chefs-in-training, I fantasize about opening up my own restaurant. Although at this point, it’s just a fantasy, in moments of melancholy, I allow myself to go down that road. So I went online to play around with restaurant design plans and found Top 10Restaurant Design Trends That need to Go. It’s interesting to see what’s going on in the restaurant world.
Just because it’s Friday and I have to rush to school at the Natural Gourmet Institute, I found a couple of stories about food-related crime. Just for a Friday “WTF” and a giggle, I suppose.
Exhibit A: 2 men and 1 juvenile were arrested in a daring bacon heist in Indiana. The three stole $90 worth of bacon from Strong’s market. Read the article. Bless these guys’ hearts, as they say in the South. Sigh. No word on what they wanted it for.
Exhibit B: yikes. Earlier this year, a Dallas woman returned home after dropping her son off at school to find her bathroom window open and a naked, bloodied man sitting in her sink. It gets freakier. He was chowing down on the raw chicken she’d left there to thaw. And in the irony department, his last name is “Cooks.”
And something that makes you go “hmmm.”
On an episode of “Top Chef Canada” that’ll air May 16, contestants have to create a classic French dish, and one of those contestants is required to use horse meat. And that’s got people freaked out and angry. Here’s the link.
Daniel Boulud has just opened up a gourmet market called Èpicerie Boulud. It offers cheese from Brooklyn cheesemaker Anne Saxelby, charcuterie from next-door Bar Boulud, and prepared foods. It’s also a café and in the evenings, the space will transform into an oyster bar.
New York, NY 10023
I love food. There’s just no way around it. Of course, the problem with loving food is that sometimes there’s no way around ME! But I digress.
The beauty of food is that it engages all your senses: taste, feel, smell, sight, and even hearing (think about how your mouth waters when you hear that sizzling platter of fajita being brought out of a restaurant kitchen or the crack of the top of a crème brûlée when you stick your spoon into it ).
Presentation has become just as important to the dining experience as taste (Japanese have known that for centuries!) and for foodies, taking a tour through a beautiful photo gallery of food is almost as good as tasting it. So here’s a photo tour of Chef Daniel Boulud’s Hard Hat Tour & Taste: Boulud Sud and Epicurie Boulud in New York City.
(photo courtesy of Chef Daniel Boulud’s Hard Hat Tour & Taste)