December 27, 2007

Christmas Vacation

christmas dinner

I figured I should get around to writing this up, only about a month late. :)

This year we flew back to Michigan early to attend my grandmothers 100th birthday. We ended up spending about two weeks there. As usual I brought my knives and spices with me and got to cook a few meals for my parents.  My mom was starting chemo, so we weren't sure if she'd be up to eating. It turned out that she was able to eat, so it was extra special to be cooking for them.

I wanted to have some chicken broth on hand, so for the first meal I made a roast chicken and potatoes. We found that Horrocks had some nice Amish-raised chickens and reasonable prices, and I was surprised to see a nice variety of vegetables there, including obscure ones like bitter melon. After the roast chicken I made pumpkin-sausage penne and a chicken cacciatorra. (So I could make more broth.)

The next night, I set out to make my "bavette bordelaise", which I usually make with hanger steak (onglet). Unfortunately Horrocks didn't have it, but made a couple of suggestions.  The guy at the first place has been a butcher for 15 years and had never heard of it.  He suggested a mexican place, which wasn't a proper butcher (they had skirt, but it was frozen and in 5lb packs).  I ended up trying a place in East Lansing, which claimed to have it, but ended up giving me flap steak (bavette), calling it hanger.  I made it with my usual red wine / shallot sauce, potatoes sarladaise, and green beens. A few days later,  on christmas eve, I used the extra meat (it was a big chunk of steak) to make my fajitas. (They do have poblanos in Michigan.)

roast beast

For our big Christmas meal, I made a standing rib roast. Emily likes it, it is traditional in some families, and it was what I made for them before they last left San Francisco. I again started with Alton Brown's instructions, aging the roast in the fridge for a few days.  But I added a garlic-rosemary rub and salted it ahead of time, per the Zuni cookbook.  For sides I made a squash and brussel sprout dish that I also made for thanksgiving. (You would have read about it last November, but it seems I forgot to actually post the article - I'll post it now.) I also made my parmesan mashed potatoes, green beans, and swiss chard sautéed in oil with some garlic. I got to feed my Grandmother, which made it extra special. (She loved the vegetables - probably one reason why she's 100 years old.)

It was a good Christmas, and a nice break from a busy time in my life. Although I wish Dan and Carmen could have joined us, and I missed having Carmen's parents join us - they always brought a couple of dishes, usually a chicken lo-mein and some kind of shrimp cake, to go with our food, and I always made cucumber kimchee for her Dad. 

Still, we were happy to be back in the bay area.  The weather was happier, I get all of my wacky ingredients again - everybody has hanger steak, I can pick up goat loin at the farmer's market, the corner stores have fresh herbs, and local produce have extra-long seasons.
Oh, and christmas gifts - it was the year of the thermometer for me. I got two of the probe thermometer on my list, which seems to work well - it's faster and more accurate than my old, broken one.  My Dad also fixed my broken one, and Emily got me a IR thermometer. You aim it at something, pull the trigger, and it tells you the temperature. It's a toy, but it has turned out to be more useful than I'd thought it would be.  I know when things are getting close to going into the fridge, double check oil and sugar temperatures, and look for cold spots in the house.
I also got some wonderful books including Peterson's fish and seafood book and the citizen cake book. (Emily has me on the hook for one of the desserts for Valentines day, the recipe spans 7 pages, wish me luck.)

December 11, 2007

Menu for Hope

It's that time of year again - Menu for Hope IV is underway, go check out Pim's blog, pick out some nice prizes, and donate. The prizes are provided by food bloggers, each $10 of donation will get you a spot in a raffle for one of the items, donations go to the UN's food program.

November 27, 2007


It seems I wrote this last november, but never posted it, so here it is now.

rockin' out with the turkey
Another thanksgiving has come and gone. Carmen made her turkey again, this time with a heritage turkey. The only real incident was an explosion involving the gravy. Carmen was making a slurry, shaking some of drippings with some flour in a tupperware container.  This technique had worked for her in the past, but this time pressure built up and gravy came shooting out of the container and all over the kitchen. We ended up using beurre manié to thicken the sauce, which worked out well.

My contribution to the evening was two custard ice creams, cinnamon and vanilla, and three side dishes. I made my parmesan mashed potatoes and green beans with shallots. And I also made brussel sprouts with butternut squash and fried sage, based on a Thomas Keller recipe that I got from Food and Wine magazine.  They were very tasty, but I'd probably augment it with bacon or parmesan next time. This dish is a little different from most brussel sprout dishes in that the leaves are separated and blanched.  I did notice that the sage had to be fried for a shorter time and at a lower temperature to keep it from burning.

October 21, 2007

Weekend of Cooking

It's been a while since I've posted to my blog. I'm still cooking, and Emily is still taking amazing pictures, but I've been too busy with work to blog. Last weekend I had a bit of a cooking marathon, and Emily took pictures, so I figured I'd write it up.

green & white pizza

For lunch on Saturday we had pizza margherita. We have this about once a week when tomatoes are in season. This week we used the green zebra heirloom tomatoes (Emily's favorite varietal) and "Bubalus Bubalis" buffalo mozzarella from Cowgirl Creamery.

goat loin

For dinner we had a goat loin roast, stuffed with cumin, apricots, roasted pumpkin seeds, and bread crumbs, and wrapped in prosciutto. Served with baby spinach (with garlic and pumpkin seeds), red onions cooked in balsamic vinegar. This was a Gordon Ramsay dish that I've been meaning to make. He calls for a boned out lamb saddle, which I believe is called a double loin roast in this country. I substituted goat from Marin Sun Farms because somebody sniped the lamb. The "sauce" in the photo is the jus from resting. The onions and spinach were quite tasty, although the onions look a bit dark. I'd definitely make them again. The potatoes weren't spectacular, as I wasn't using my usual recipe, and I don't think they were really necessary.

I actually only used half of the loin for this. I thought I froze the other half, but it seems to have disappeared - I may have thrown the wrong thing out while cleaning the freezer.

fussy comfort food

For lunch on Sunday I made Keller's "Soup and Sandwich." This time I didn't screw up the brioche. I used "Lincolnshire Poacher" from Cowgirl Creamery for the cheese. I also made the tomato consommé and potato chips (fried in canola oil and clarified butter) to go with it.

The consommé was easy to make and quite surprising - it's hard to me to accept that a clear liquid has so much tomato flavor. You rehydrate a chipotle (or half of one) add it to a couple pounds of chopped tomatoes and strain in cheese cloth (or a dish towel) hung over a bowl in the fridge overnight. Add a few peeled cherry tomatoes (one of each color if you can) and serve cool.

For dinner, I made pork and beans and invited Dan and Carmen over to join us. Emily suggested I also make Pim's Pumpkin Panna Cotta, so I decided to make it a four course dinner with tomato consommé and some cheese.

consommé again

I served smaller portions of the consommé this time, a little bit goes a long way. Dan and Carmen got the cherry tomatoes that were left over from lunch, and I garnished with little baby basil leaves. I'll definitely make this again - it's an easy course to make, holds at room temp, and is tasty.


For the pork and beans, I cooked and reserved some bits of bacon, softened some onions in the fat, added 1/2 lb of soaked Rancho Gordo Borlotti beans, water, and half a smoked ham hock. I cooked it for 1-2 hrs, removed and cut up the meat, then cooked it for a few more hours with the cover off, occasionally sprinkling with bread crumbs or mixing in the crust that had formed on top. It's garnished with some mexican crema and cilantro.

cheese course

The Lincolnshire Poacher and an Italian Fontina on fancy crackers served as a simple cheese course. (I didn't have any fruit handy, and wanted them to try the cheeses.) The fontina was rather mild and a bit overpowered by the cracker, I probably should have cut it a bit thicker or omitted the cracker.

panna cotta

The Pumpkin Panna Cotta, in a jar from Miette. I also had some in bowls, but we were rather full dessert time, so I served the smaller portions. (Pim's recipe yields at least 8 portions, so we had plenty of leftovers, too.)

July 15, 2007


This was the weekend of ratatouille: I spent most of Saturday preparing for dinner Sunday night. I made two French Laundry dishes, one of which was derived from the classic french ratatouille dish. On Saturday night, we had Dan and Carmen over for a simple dinner - various sausages from Fatted Calf, a good french mustard, and the leftover ratatouille vegetables sautéed in olive oil. After that, we went to see Ratatouille. The movie was a lot of fun and very well done. The attention to detail was amazing. I'd definitely recommend it.

orzo and cheese (and lobster)
"Macaroni and Cheese"
Butter-poached Maine Lobster with Creamy Lobster Broth and Mascarpone-Enriched Orzo

The first course was lobster poached in butter served with with orzo in a lobster cream broth and a Parmesan crisp. The parmesan crisp was very easy to make. They lobster was briefly boiled yesterday, the meat removed from the shell and refrigerated, and then I spent a few hours were spent making a lobster broth, reducing it, adding cream, and reducing again. I added a some cooked orzo the next morning. I left out the coral oil, as I didn't have any lobster coral.

On Sunday, I reheated the broth, made up a batch of buerre monté, briefly poached the lobster and put it on warmed plates.

Roasted Guinea Fowl en Crépenette de Byaldi with Pan Jus

Imam Byaldi is a turkish dish which is a more refined version of the classic Ratatouille. In the movie, the byaldi is removed from the pan and artfully arranged on the plate. (And, according the recipe in the New York Times, served with a vinagrette.) The byaldi itself takes 2 1/2 to 3 hours to cook, by the way.

On Saturday, I cut up a guinea fowl, reserved the breasts and boned-out thighs for the next day, and used the rest of the bird, along with some vegetables and chicken stock, to make a sauce. (Which also spent a good hour or so reducing.)

On Sunday, I placed a bit of the byaldi on each piece of breast and thigh, wrapped it in caul fat, seared it, and baked it. They were then sliced in half, and served on some of the remaining byaldi with some sauce on top.

The actual cooking on Sunday was a half hour at most, but I spent most of Saturday preparing. It was a lot of work, but a fun learning experience. Not something I'd do every weekend.

July 12, 2007

Catching up

It's been a while since my last post. I've been really busy at work and neglected to write up my parents visit. They were here for a month, helped us a lot with the house. Most of the plaster work is now done, and we have a completely finished bathroom and living room. I got to feed them almost every night, showing off what I've learned in the past year. (And skipping dishes that they might not like.)

For mother's day, I made short ribs and oxtail, vaguely following the zuni recipe. They were accompanied by parmesan mashed potatoes, carrots and parsnips (turned and glazed, if I remember right). Each plate contained both cuts of beef, removed from the bones. (I cooked the ribs for a little less time.)

From my repetoire, I made pasta norma, the chicken roulade, and zuni chicken. I also made the posole rojo recipe from Rancho Gordo.

And, of course, one night my mom made our traditional fish fry. She takes Michigan lake fish, breads them with flour, salt, and pepper and fries them in olive oil. I'm always thinking there is some way to tweak it to make it better - but I rarely have the opportunity to have it, and it invokes such memories from childhood, I don't mess with it. The best way to enjoy the fish, is sneaking a fillet off of the plate next to my grandfather's grill while he's cooking a batch. This year, I let my mom do her thing and just prepared some sides. For the first, I sweated down some onions and then sautéed some diced summer squash in olive oil, salt, and pepper. The second was swiss chard sautéed in olive oil with garlic, salt, and pepper. The squash was quite good, but the chard didn't work so well with the fish. (The fish is a bit too delicate for the chard.)

For an early father's day, I made a standing rib roast from Prather Ranch beef. It was my first standing rib roast and turned out perfect, even though I was aiming for a little more well done, because my parents aren't big on rare beef.

For sides, I reprieved myself by making green beans again but getting it right. (My mom liked them the previous time I made them, but I thought they were a little too raw.) And I made my parmesan mashed potatoes. (They're tasty - and the leftovers work well, Emily rarely lets me cook potatoes another way - but I like them roasted, too.)

One Sunday, I attempted to make Keller's grilled cheese sandwich recipe. I got some excellent English cheddar, but I managed to use twice as much butter as I should have when making the brioche. I was making a half recipe. It called for "10 oz (20 tbsp) butter" - I halved it and got 10 oz. In lieu of his fussy tomato soup, I served it simply with some sliced apples. It wasn't bad, but the bread was too crumbly, too buttery, and I didn't use enough cheese.

On a subsequent Sunday, I finally got around to making Osso Buco. I saw some wonderful Vitellone at Prather Ranch in the ferry building and picked it up for the freezer. (Vitellone is a bit older than Veal and free range.) I also added some saffron to the parmesan risotto that I usually make with the chicken roulade. It turned out really well, and I'll definitely try it again. I consulted a few recipes and ended up salting ahead (per the Zuni cookbook), using red wine (because I had it on hand), tomatoes, leeks, a little bit of celery and carrot, rosemary, thyme, onion, bay, and black peppercorns. Per Keller, I used a bit of cheesecloth to keep the veggies separate from the meat.

And tonight I made red-cooked fish again. This is the second time I've made this dish. This time I made it with a, err, red fish that I got at Sun Fat. (I don't remember what kind it was, but it looked like it was fresh and the right size for one person.) Emily hasn't been around either time I made this dish, so I decided to take a picture myself. I'll have her work her magic and replace this with an edited one.

The fish is fried in a wok, some aromatics (scallions and ginger) are fried, and then everything is braised in a soy, sugar, rice wine sauce. The fish and veggies are removed to a plate and the sauce is reduced. The resulting sauce is a savory, caramel sauce that is quite tasty.

June 10, 2007

Sushi Night

The day before we went back to Michigan, Emily asked me to make sushi. The results were a little crude, but tasty.

I stopped by Sun Fat on the way home for some salmon, tuna, and oysters. I was hoping for hamachi, but they didn't have any. I picked up some nori, avacado, and sushi rice from the at 24th and Valencia. My bamboo mat was lost in one of my many moves, and I couldn't find them at the store, so I had to improvise with a piece of tin foil and plastic wrap. It worked surprisingly well.

Of the maki, we liked the california rolls the best - real crab legs make a big difference. (I had some in the freezer that I'd been meaning to use.) For the outside, I used furikake because I didn't know where to find tobiko.

The tuna and salmon rolls were a little overpacked, so the rolls didn't always close up. The fish wasn't placed right, so it didn't end up in the center. I don't usually order maki rolls. They were good, but I will probably try my hand at nigri next time.

I also sliced up some sashimi and opened some Fanny Bay oysters to accompany the rolls.

May 27, 2007

Sunday Dinner

A week ago Sunday, I made the pork chops again for dinner, along with a cauliflower gratin and some glazed baby carrots. For dessert we had a malted milk ice cream. Emily got some great shots of the food, so I figured I'd write up the recipes.

Bourbon Peach Pork Chops
This is southern American classic, found by Carmen on Williams-Sonoma's web site. I've substituted thicker pork chops, and use a thermometer to determine doneness. The pork chops can be glazed and refrigerated a few hours ahead of time, but I'd take them out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking. I substitute moutarde de meaux pommery for the mustard seeds and some of the lemon juice and make the mayonnaise myself. (Is the mayonnaise necessary? I don't know, but it was a good excuse to try my hand at making it.)
6 pork chops, cut 1" to 1 1/2” thick
3 tbsp mustard seeds
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup apricot or peach preserves
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup Maker's Mark
2 shallots, minced
1 tbsp chopped rosemary
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the mustard seeds and lemon juice and let sit for 30 minutes. Then mix in the rest of the ingredients. Adjust and season to taste.

Put a third of the glaze in the bottom of a baking dish. Add the pork chops and cover with the rest of the glaze. (Optionally sprinkle with some fine bread crumbs.) At this stage, you could refrigerate the pork for a few hours if you're preparing this dish ahead of time.

Cook until it's about 145 degrees in the center. Check the other chops with an instant read thermometer, them cover with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Cauliflower Gratin
This recipe came from Keller's book, Bouchon. I substituted a wasabi/horseradish powder for the horseradish, and added a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper to the sauce. If you are serving guests that are not big fans of cauliflower, cut the florets in smaller pieces and mix some cheese into the sauce, to taste (some of the Emmentaler, some parmesan or pecorino). If you use pecorino - adjust the salt after adding the cheese.

1 head (about 1-3/4 pounds) cauliflower
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced shallots
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
1 Italian parsley sprig
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
Pinch of curry powder
Freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup grated Comté or Emmentaler cheese
1 tablespoon panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or fine dried bread crumbs

Remove the leaves from the cauliflower. Cut the florets from the core. Remove the exterior of the core and throw it away. Dice the rest of the core and put in a food processor. Cut the florets into 1" (or smaller) pieces. Put the stems in with the core. Process the core and stems until they are finely diced. If you don't have 1 cup of processed cauliflower, add some florets to make up the difference and process them.

In two batches, blanch the florets in water season with salt and vinegar for about 2 minutes. Strain and place in a bowl. Season to taste.

Cook the shallots in butter for a couple of minutes, until they are translucent. Add salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaf. Add the cauliflower stems and 2/3 cup of water. Simmer for 5 minutes or until most of the water is gone. If the cauliflower is not cooked, add a bit more water and cook longer.

Add the cream and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the whole herbs and put in a blender. After it cools, add the horseradish, curry powder, and nutmeg. Blend until smooth and season to taste.

Mix the cauliflower with the cream mixture and place in a baking dish. Refrigerate for 1-24 hours.

Sprinkle with bread crumbs and cheese and cook in the oven at 450 degrees until warm and bubbling. Use the broiler to brown the top, if necessary. Let rest for 5-10 minutes and serve.

Glazed Baby Carrots
I used Keller's instructions for glazed vegetables, from his book Bouchon.
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp butter
1 pinch salt
baby carrots
thyme or parsley leaves (optional)
Trim the carrots and stems. Try to get them a uniform size, if possible.

Put the vegetables in a saucepan, add the water to cover. Add the water, salt, butter, and herbs. Simmer until the vegetables are tender. The sauce should be reduced to a glaze. If not, remove the carrots and continue to reduce to a glaze, replace the carrots and reheat. The results can be held for a few hours. If the carrots vary in size, you'll have to remove the smaller diameter ones earlier.

This can be done with any root vegetable, pearl onions work too, but you should add a little white wine vinegar at the end. Keller's book explains this in much more detail.

Malted Milk Ice Cream

This is from David Lebovitz's Book "Perfect Scoop," reworded by me for copyright reasons. I got the recipe from Ruhlman's blog, but have been directed by Emily to pick up a copy of the book. It was unclear whether the original recipe was calling for actual malt powder or malted milk powder. I went with the latter, since pure malt powder was hard to find. (I think brewing supply places may have it.) The process is a little different from Keller's - the cream and flavoring are added at the end - but I followed it as-is. (But if you choose to use half of a vanilla bean in place of extract, put it in with the half and half, and let it steep for an hour or so.)
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup malt powder
6 large egg yolks
a handful of malted milk balls, chopped
Mix the cream, malted milk, and vanilla in a bowl and prepare an ice bath. Warm the half and half with the sugar over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Be careful to not let anything stick to the bottom. Lightly whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, then slowly whisk in the warmed milk. Return the milk mixture to the pan and gently cook it over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and making sure nothing sticks to the bottom, until it coats the back of the spoon, about 5 minutes. Strain into the cream mixture, stirring to combine. Place the bowl over the ice bath and stir occasionally to cool.

Refrigerate for at least 6 hours (preferably overnight) to cool and allow the flavors to meld. Process in your ice cream machine, then freeze for at least 6 hrs (preferably overnight) before serving.

April 11, 2007

What happened in Vegas

Emily and I went to Vegas last weekend on rather short notice. We had been meaning to go there to visit friends and see the sights before everybody I knew scattered around the country. We also wanted to check out a restaurant or two, see a show, and get some pictures of the strip. Sally got us some really good seats for Mystère (it helps to know people).

When we got in Friday, after going to the office, we went to a nearby mexican place, Viva Michoacan, to have a late lunch. That night we went to Bouchon, which was very disappointing. Since we had a late lunch, we weren't very hungry and ordered the petit plateau. The oysters were good, but everything else was badly overcooked (shrimp, mussels, and lobster). Friends whose taste I trust do like the place, so maybe they were just having an off night. I remember liking the food there when I lived in Vegas, but that was a few years ago.

Saturday we went to a Cuban restaurant (Cool Place cuban cafe), which was quite good. I wanted to see if their Tequila Chicken was as good as I remembered and get more data so I could reproduce the dish. That night, we went to Mesa Grill. We split three appetizers, so we could get a variety of dishes. My favorite was a tuna tartar dish with a habanero sauce. Emily liked the Queso Fundido best (chèvre was involved), and the quesadilla was also good, but I would have made a few changes. After that, we went to see Mystère. A good friend, Sally, got us excellent seats, right up front. And the show was very good, as usual. (We refuse to go to musicals in Vegas - they tend to cut half of the material out of them.)

For lunch Sunday, we went to Mon Ami Gabi. There was a wait for the patio, and we were hungry, so we ate inside. I didn't expect much from previous experience. I almost got the croque monsieur (one of my favorites), but decided to try the steak sandwich after grilling the waiter (pun intended) - the meat was medium rare, as promised, but it seemed to lack flavor, was under-seasoned, and the jus was unimpressive (pale yellow with little flavor).

Sunday night, we had Easter dinner with the Macy's and Jamie. It was a lot of fun, steak for all and kids running around looking for easter eggs.

On Monday, we finished up our sightseeing. We went to Supermex for lunch, another lunchtime hangout from my days in Vegas. This place inspired my chile verde, and I wanted to try theirs again. It was good and the meat was very tender, but I prefer mine. (I don't think they used any tomatillos - even though they have a nice tomatillo salsa, they didn't roast the peppers, the sauce was thinner, and there was less of it.)

Vegas was never my thing, although I've said that it isn't bad to visit occasionally. It was a good trip, but I don't think I'll be heading back that way. Many of my friends are leaving, we've already got our pictures - and, given the state of the restaurants, there really isn't anything there for me. Perhaps we'll head back up to Oregon or visit Billy in San Diego next.

April 03, 2007

French Laundry

Last night Emily and I dined at French Laundry with Rob and Traci. It was definitely the best meal I've ever had, and probably the best I will have. The company was great, the service was excellent, and food was perfect.

The reservations were for 5:30 pm, we arrived on time and left around 9:15 pm. By the end of the meal, the first few courses were a pleasant memory. (And, consequently, this will be a long post.)

The Menu

They started us off with gougeres and their famous salmon ice cream cones. (Salmon on top, crème fraîche inside and a savory cone.)

The first course was "Oysters and Pearls," a Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca and Point Reyes Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar.

Then some cute loaves bread were delivered, with two different styles of butter. (And butter baked inside.) They made sure to inform us that the breads were all from the Bouchon Bakery down the street. (Emily has some pictures of that, too.)

For the salad course, most of us got a salad of glazed sunchokes and navel orange suprêmes. (Emily's was served without pine nuts.)

I opted for the foie gras dish, which came with an assortment of sea salts and brioche.

For the first fish coarse, we had a choice between a sea urchin dish and a Japanese Suzuki (some kind of sea bass, I believe). Both were excellent.

The "gratin" under the sea urchin was one of the best sauces of the meal, and the clear ginger sauce around the peas was also amazing. I'd love to have the recipes for both, maybe if I wrote the chef...

The second fish course was a main lobster tail, poached in butter, with an asparagus/serrano ham "omelette" (more of a roulade) and a tarragon coulis.

The first meat course was milk-fed chicken, with a truffled sauce inside, swiss chard, and Michigan cherries. The meat was very tender and flavorful; the cherries were perfect.

Emily got an off-the-menu duck dish, which was also quite good, but I didn't quite catch the full description.

For the second meat course, we had a choice between a lamb and beef dish. The lamb dish had to be ordered for two, so both couples got it. It included three different cuts of lamb, artichoke, a "garlic pudding," and a rosemary jus. I think the reddish lump was the garlic pudding, but it had a lovely roasted red pepper taste that made more of an impression than the garlic.

The cheese course had a washed-rind cow's milk cheese. The flavor kinda reminded me of Italian Fontina. It was accompanied by poached onions and some greens.

The first dessert course was a rhubarb sorbet.
Emily got a mango sherbet on something resembling angel food cake for her first dessert course. (Again, it was off the menu, so I'm not exactly sure what it contained.)

We had a perfect espresso. The cup was narrow and tall, which caused a nice, thick layer of crema on top.

For the second dessert course, I had a green tea and white chocolate dish with a passion fruit jelly and a passion fruit foam. The foam was quite amazing, the flavor way more intense than I'd expected.

Emily had the Baked Alaska with coconut ice cream, persian lime, pound cake, and compressed pineapple.

"Mignardises" - French for assault by desserts. The ladies were given a small Tahitian vanilla crème brûlée, the gentlemen got a meyer lemon pot de crème. Then they gave us roasted macadamia nuts coated in chocolate, and a orange tuile.

Then they came around with a tray of truffles. About six varieties, we were encouraged to choose whatever we wanted, but were so full that we only went with 2-3. (I chose coffee and banana ones, the others were caramel, praline, peanut butter, and raspberry.)

Finally they gave us some shortbread as a parting gift.

And, the laundry bill...

April 02, 2007

Braised Oxtail

One last fancy dinner before Emily is spoiled for good (we're going to French Laundry tonight). For this one I use Zuni Cafés braised oxtail recipe, my parmesan mashed potatoes, and some glazed baby carrots (per Keller's instructions for glazing vegetables). The inspiration for this meal was the carrots - I've seen pictures of baby carrots prepared this way, saw some in the farmer's market, and had to try it. There is a little bit of a disconnect between the potatoes (homey) and the carrots (fussy/cheffy). Turned potatoes would have matched better visually, but Emily wanted my mashed ones, and the cheese goes well with the rest of the dish anyway.

March 25, 2007

Onglet à la bordelaise (avec pommes frites!)

Once again, I made Thomas Keller's "bavette" recipe. This time I used onglet ("hanger steak") instead of skirt steak, cooked it for a little longer in both the browning stage and the oven stage, used a shallot and red wine marinade, and prepared the sauce à la minute. The fries turned out better this time. Most of them were perfectly done and crisp, and I was enjoyed them without ketchup.

(This would also be nice with a mixed green salad in lieu of fries.)

Roughly, the recipe is:

Cook a half cup or so of malbec (red wine) in a pan. Light it on fire and let the alcohol burn off. Add some minced shallots, a squeeze of lemon, and a good pinch of salt. Put it in a zip lock and cool in the freezer. Season the steak, add it to the bag, and put it in the fridge for at least a few hours.

Within an hour or two of dinner time, cut the fries from russet potatoes. Rinse them well, and blanch them in 320 degree vegetable oil for about 5 minutes. (They should be golden brown, no darker.)

Take out the steak, dry it off and let it warm to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Heat a couple of tablespoons of light olive oil in a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add a tablespoon of butter and melt. Add the meat and brown, a couple of minutes per side, basting the meat with the butter/oil after you flip it. (Cook a bit longer for onglet, I flipped it a couple of times.)

Remove the meat to a small baking dish and cook 3-4 thinly sliced shallots in the same pan for a minute or two, then add a couple more tablespoons of butter, some thyme, and cook for a few more minutes to caramelize the shallots. Spoon the shallots on top of the meat and place it in the oven for 5-8 minutes.

Warm plates for serving.

Deglaze the skillet with a little of the red wine, reduce. Add some chicken or veal broth and reduce a little. Adjust the seasoning. This is your sauce, keep it warm somewhere.

Cook the fries at 375 degrees for a couple of minutes, remove to a drying rack and salt immediately.

Slice the meat against the grain. Plate next to the fries with shallots and sauce spooned on top of the meat.