Happy Father's Day
Happy Father's Day
When given the choice we opt to test as much as we can. This way we can taste them all, because on any given day any cut can be the best one.
June 19, 2005
We put our pressure toasted Everything Blend to work again. We rubbed a coppa (cappacola/top butt) with 3% salt. Then we rubbed it with 25 grams of our everything blend. We have it curing in the refrigerator. It will be there for several weeks. Then we will give it a quick rinse with white wine, rub it with more of the everything blend, stuff it in a casing, tie it, and then let it mature in our curing cabinet. The hardest part about creating salumi is finding the patience to let it do it's thing.
June 18, 2005
Just over 10 years ago, we put coffee beans in soy sauce and let them infuse for a few days. The soy sauce gained the depth and flavor of the coffee. We had a delicious product. Ten years later we blended rice inoculated with Aspergilillus Oryzae with water, salt and ground coffee beans. We let the mixture ferment in the workshop for several weeks. Then we tucked it away in the back of the refrigerator. Today we spun the mixture in the centrifuge. The spinning separated the liquids and the solids. The solids are a coarse rough miso-like product. The liquid is coffee soy sauce. The flavor is intense. The salinity is pronounced. The flavor is rounded and rich.
Did 10 years teach us anything? Absolutely. Both products have potential. Overall, bringing together great coffee and great soy sauce results in superior in flavor and makes the time commitment worthwhile. But, if we had used soy sauce in place of water when making our second rendition, there might have been an amplification of flavors. And that is why a third try is certainly worth exploring.
We started with our no-knead brioche recipe. We swapped out buttermilk for the water and milk in the recipe. After the dough had risen overnight we laid it out onto a plastic wrap lined sheet pan and then covered it. We chilled the dough until it was firm, about 4 hours. Then we shaped the dough into 90 gram rolls. We arranged the rolls on parchment lined sheet pans. We allowed the dough to proof for 2 hours covered lightly with plastic wrap. When the rolls had risen and were soft and bouncy we brushed them with an egg and water wash. We liberally sprinkled raw sugar over the rolls and baked them for 30 minutes in a 375°F oven, rotating them after 15 minutes.
The sugar melded with the crust. The sugar bits that fell off the dough caramelized on the edges. The buttermilk provided a slight tang that rounded out the sweetly luxurious flavor of the rolls. They had a soft, tender crumb, balanced by the crunch of the sugar, and a buttery richness that made them a pleasure to eat, still warm from the oven. They needed nothing more than a good cup of coffee to wash them down. There are some leftovers. And over the next few days we will toast and butter them for breakfast, split others into shortcakes, and turn the last few into bread pudding.
We continue the Salumi Sessions. We started with Michael Ruhlman's and Bryan Polcyn's recipe for Nduja as the foundation. I love the fact that they use straight up pork belly for the meat and fat to make this spreadable salumi. We lowered down their levels of hot and sweet paprika and added a healthy dose of gochujang to balance things out. Now the meat is hanging, drying, and developing. After tasting the just ground meat and then the fermented sample (the meat left in the stuffer that we vacuum seal and put in the fermenting cabinet to test the ph after it has fermented for 21 hours) of the Nduja we know we are in for a delightful end result.
June 15, 2006
We were exploring a mushroom sausage. Instead of cooking all the liquid out of the mushrooms we opted to capture the moisture. We minced crimini mushrooms in the food processor. We added soy sauce, eggs, salt, egg white powder, and raw rolled oats to the mushrooms. Then we vacuum sealed the mixture and cooked it in the CVap for 2 hours. The result was a moist, full flavored mushroom base. It was reminiscent of sausage in both its robust seasoning and it's texture and consistency. Upon further reflection after cooking a patty, we realized that it resembled a juicy yet well-done burger. When sauteed, it had a light, crisp crust and a savory, tender bite. That was the light bulb. The mixture is the ultimate mushroom patty for anyone who loves a great sandwich. Not ones to wait on a good thing, we served ours on Bacon Fat Potato Rolls with kimchi and ketchup.
Makes 6-8 burgers, depending on how big you like them
770 grams cleaned crimini mushrooms
2 large eggs (108 grams)
50 grams soy sauce
7.5 grams salt
25 grams powdered egg whites
250 grams rolled oats
Put the mushrooms into a food processor and pulse the machine until the mushrooms are finely minced. Add the eggs, soy sauce and salt and puree the mixture for 30 seconds. Turn the machine off and add the powdered egg whites. Puree for 10 seconds, until the egg whites are absorbed into the mushroom base. Add the oatmeal and puree into the base for 10 seconds, until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a large vacuum bag and seal. Roll the filling out in the bag, edge to edge so that the filling is of a uniform thickness. Cook in a CVap or immersion circulator set at 90°C for 2 hours.
After cooking cool the mixture in an ice bath. Open the bag, cut the mushroom base into patties and sear or grill for burgers.
We constantly create. And tinker. These rolls are the result of our many failures. They provided the foundation for the delicious results. These are the best and most delicious rolls we have made so far. The crumb is soft and tender, but holds together well when saturated with the juices from a sandwich. The combination of cooked potatoes, bacon fat and buttermilk creates a harmonious blend, giving the rolls a slightly sweet, faintly meaty, savory flavor, that stands out when eaten on its own and blends nicely with a filling. We designed them for burgers, breakfast sandwiches, and the Chicken and the Egg.
Bacon Fat Potato Rolls
337.5 grams water
300 grams peeled and sliced potatoes
100 grams bacon fat
18 grams salt
975 grams flour
37.5 grams sugar
6 grams yeast
275 grams buttermilk
15 grams water
Put the water, potatoes, bacon fat, and 1.5 grams of salt into a medium pot on medium heat. Cook the potatoes until they are tender, about 30 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and let the potatoes cool in the liquid to room temperature.
Put the remaining salt, flour, sugar and yeast into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. Turn the mixer on to blend the dry ingredients. Turn off the mixer.
Put the cooked potatoes with their liquid and the buttermilk in a blender and turn it on low. Increase the speed to high and puree for 5 seconds until the mixture is smooth.
Turn the mixer on low and pour the pureed potato mixture into the flour. Increase the speed to medium and knead until a moist dough forms, about 5 minutes. Cover the dough and let it rise for 2 hours at room temperature.
Knock the dough down and then turn it out onto a heavily floured counter top. Portion the dough into 100 gram pieces and shape into rolls Spray sixteen 4-inch flan rings with pan release and arrange them on 3 sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and a dish towel. Let the dough rise for another 45 minutes to an hour.
Brush the rolls with an egg wash made with 1 whole egg and 15 grams of water. Bake for 20 minutes at 450°F, rotating half way through. If baking a loaf bake for 45 minutes, turning the heat down to 400°F after the first 15 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
June 13, 2008
Our sausage R&D continues. Today we jumped into Ceasar Sausage. We used pork belly and shoulder, garlic, anchovies, lemon zest, parmesan, black pepper, salt and buttermilk in our blend. The iteration was a first draft. The premise is solid. And we have lots of delicious work ahead of us.
Everything comes together.
Toasted pita bread has a unique light, crunchy texture that is positively addictive. If you don't believe me, consider the number of pita chips on grocery store shelves. This morning I woke up with a craving for breakfast pizza, but no dough. Fortunately I had pita and a blend of shredded cheddar, mozzarella and smoked gouda cheese. I slipped the pita on the pizza pan for my toaster oven, added a layer of shredded cheese, and topped everything with an egg. Seven minutes later the cheese was melted, the whites set, and the pita was crispy and delicious. The yolk was runny enough to break and spread over the top and the smoked gouda made the entire thing taste oddly like an Egg McMuffin, only better. The next time Amaya Alex needs an impromptu pizza I'll know exactly what to do.
June 9, 2005
...is very often a good thing. We bought several cases of varietal grape juice a few years back and were unable to use them all that first season. So we tucked it away for a rainy day. A few years later the juice is amazing. The flavors have deepened and developed, much like a fine wine. Giving anything, whether it be a great juice or an interesting idea, time to develop, will often lead to unexpectedly wonderful results.
June 8, 2005
1. Roast meat and let it rest on a sheet pan.
2. Transfer meat to cutting board and slice. Arrange sliced meat on warm platter.
3. Put herb and vegetable salad on the sheet pan with residual juices, add a splash of vinegar, pinch of salt, and toss well. Taste and adjust as needed.
4. Arrange salad over sliced meat and serve immediately.
(Wipe the rim of the platter if you're feeling fancy.)
June 7, 2005
The cheese in this picture is straight out of the fridge. I had plans to take another picture once it was tempered but it was decimated before I could get to my camera. That's the sign of a good cheese. It was the Oma, from Von Trapp Farmstead, aged at the Cellars at Jasper Hill Farms. It came in our cheese club shipment this month and we were so happy to see it. It's one of those cheeses that we love. It has a washed rind, and is softly chewy and melting on the palate, slightly pungent and stinky, with a creamy texture, and the flavor of sweet butter and warm spring days in a meadow. It's a perfect mouthful and what could be better than that?
June 6, 2005
We have made buttermilk burrata before. And we have trumpeted the benefits of using buttermilk to enhance the flavor of butter. We even serve our butter with its buttermilk. Today we brought these ideas together. We have poured fresh buttermilk over burrata and will let it sit for a day or so. I am guessing closer to a day because of my lack of patience. The buttermilk will up the lactic flavor of the burrata and bring a third milky texture to the gently elastic skins of mozzarella wrapped around their tender cores of ricotta.
June 5, 2005
June 4, 2005
June 3, 2005
“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”—Albert Einstein
Introduction to Ideas in Food
The Creative Process
“Creativity is more like a quest for understanding.” Donna Karman
5 Factors Shaping Creativity in the Kitchen
1. Inspiration: observing and absorbing the world around you, asking questions, maintaining a sense of wonder.
- Finding answers is easy, finding the right questions is the true challenge. -Mistakes are just steps along the path to success. -Understanding history allows us to change the future. -Finding the hidden links between ideas allows us to build a chain of development. -Recording ideas allows us to have access to earlier inspirations and use them in the future.
-Exercise your brain by exploring new interests and ideas to keep your mind flexible. -Allow for the cross-pollination of ideas, we get new perspectives and inspirations when we share ideas with others. -Cyclical pleasures, enjoy the different seasons of any ingredient/idea and celebrate each new ending and beginning.
-Find balance between science and nature, if you can make them work together you can do anything. -Juxtapose flavors, temperatures, textures, aromas so that each dish is a constantly changing experience that engages the diner and keeps them involved and excited in a meal.
-Match disparate ingredients. Don’t be afraid of trying unconventional pairings. You never know what will happen or how good something can be until you try it. -Understand and identify relationships. Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are all part of the same family and go well together.
2. Flexibility: the ability to change perspectives on a dime. Looking at ideas backwards, forwards and upside-down. Separation of ego and invention: understanding that you will not necessarily invent the big idea but having the ability to identify it and extrapolate it will be more important than being the person who creates it.
-Sharing ideas leads to new perspectives, which in turn leads to more ideas to be embraced and shared anew. -Build a repertoire of techniques and ideas. Have confidence in your creations and own them. Just because they may have sprung from someone else’s inspiration doesn’t detract from your own evolution.-Organize your ideas because it will make it easier to access them and utilize your creativity. -Choose your goal. Decide what you want to work on or work with and explore it to the best of your ability.
-Water is always available. It can be used to dilute flavor to make it approachable, like a splash in your glass of scotch or it can be used to change textures, like rehydrating freeze dried fruit. It’s also important to know when not to use water because you want to add flavor instead of subtract.
-Know when to close the door. Sometimes you’re just wasting time. If a dish isn’t working, know when to walk away and try something completely different. -Realize that most mysteries are lack of knowledge. -Use your subconscious. Pay attention to random thoughts and dreams.
3. Motivation: the desire to create must be stronger than fear of failure. Throwing spaghetti on the wall knowing that you can always clean up the mess later.
-Creativity is an attitude. View life as an explorer looking for opportunities and relationships, pay attention to small details and occasionally step back to see the big picture. -Every finish line is also a starting point.
-Know your own taste and establish a clear voice. -Allow the ingredients to inspire you. -Pay attention to sensory experiences. Taste and memory are intertwined and certain textures and flavors resonate with certain populations. Utilize sensations to increase flavor and improve the dining experience. -Enjoy the moment. Food peaks quickly and then deteriorates. -Spontaneity is facilitated by constant rehearsal of skill sets. Ability allows for creativity. -Every “overnight” success is the result of hard work. -Structure allows for creativity. Having too many options can be paralyzing. Embrace parameters because they can actually allow for more creativity.
4. Adaptation: the ability to learn from your mistakes, successes and all of the bumps in the road on the way.
-Focus your energy. It’s easy to be distracted by ideas and lose your way. Jot down new ideas but always keep the end goal in mind. -Establish your own set of rules to work by but don’t be afraid to change them if the situation calls for flexibility.
-Many times the smallest detail can affect the overall outcome. Calibration can make a big difference. -Realize that there is always a right and wrong in cooking that it is determined by your standards. You choose what is right for you.
-Keep your audience in mind when composing a dish. Nobody cooks in a vacuum. -Science can be art and vice versa. It all depends on your perspective. -Realize that the description can be as important as the execution. -Draw on past experiences and extrapolate.
-Don’t just balance flavors on your tongue, use you nose and balance your aromas. -Take advantage of your resources and use them whenever you can. They will only make you better.
5. Refinement (Editing): Knowing when to say when. Utilizing critical examination to determine when a preparation is at its peak, when a dish is done, when a technique works perfectly and when you need to do more. Being able to trim the fat and sharpen the edged to reveal the hidden treasure its best advantage.
-Have a clear goal. Focus on delicious and always keep it in the back of your mind. -Have a sense of urgency to move you forward. Use your energy wisely and don’t spin your wheels if you can avoid it. -Are your components working together or struggling against one another? Everything on a plate should taste good, eaten alone or together. -Explore all your options and then narrow them down. Too much is too much. -Subtlety is under appreciated. Big bold flavors are wonderful but so is finesse. -Start with the best raw materials available and do your best not to screw them up. -When using a filter remember that it produces two sets of ingredients that you can use. -Trim the fat and remove any extraneous details that simply add noise to the plate.
White chocolate-yogurt ice cream, smoked wild char roe, Blis elixer, arugula leaves
Parsnip ice cream with banana jam and sake infused roe
Toasted farro ice cream, natural artic char roe, honey jellies
Corn and brown butter ice cream, French toast croutons, strawberries, maple-vanilla roe
Peach olive oil ice cream with juniper almonds, almond yogurt, steelhead trout roe
Apple crisp ice cream with cashew brittle and wild watercress and smoked steelhead trout roe
Yuzu-Coconut ice cream, coconut krispies, blood orange marmalade, wild brook trout roe
Grilled potato ice cream, Asian pear apple, Mexican oregano, tequila-habanero roe
Smoked belly clams with chowder tartar sauce
Quail spring roll with tamarind marmalade, basil
Shrimp tempura with toasted flour/buckwheat batter with pine needle dipping sauce
Giant sheet of cuttlefish with chorizo puree
Peekey toe crab tater tots with Waldorf salad garnish
Reuben fritters with lime pickle-Thousand Island dressing
Snail spring rolls with wild greens
Rhubarb-lovage shave ice
Cold smoked sea urchin, sudachi brined peanuts, jalapeno, celery leaves
Conch salad with papaya, Grenada pepper, parsley and bacon dressing
Kampachi with celery, pickled raisins, Benton’s ham
Tuna with Comte, sorrel, mint oil, onion syrup
Hamachi tartare and carpaccio with bergamot, watermelon: flesh and rind
Halibut with silver buckle sorrel, apricots, coffee oil and black licorice syrup
Ono with baby tomato salad, lychee, delphina cilantro, and smoked balsamic
Shaved scallop with grapefruit-lovage, young radishes, baby radish shoots, maple vinegar
Smoked kataifi crusted fluke, sweet spruce cream, yuzu bubbles, shaved cepes, smoked soy
Salmon with cardoons, Beaufort, lime pickle-tomato marmalade
Pandan poached octopus, banana pepper vinaigrette, fried hazelnuts, tarragon
Smoke infused trout, rhubarb-jalapeno relish, scrambled corn, lambs quarters leaves
Vanilla bean larded bay scallop, persimmon pudding, Sicilian pistachio puree
Lobster, brandy-Tasmanian pepper sauce, young leeks smoked-prune plum condiment
Blackened mackerel, Berbere spice, sour honey, parsnip puree and Chinese celery
Mussel soup with calamari couscous, wild chamomile, hazelnuts, black squid cracker
Turnip and Gruyere soup with pretzel praline
Green asparagus soup, whipped buttered popcorn, horseradish bacon
Apple and cheddar soup, apple kimchi, cheddar-tofu
Musk melon soup, broken honeydew, powdered shrimp, prosciutto oil
Zucchini and Pecorino soup, razor clam relish, zucchini ribbon
Celery root soup, anise hyssop, coffee ravioli
Pumpkin bisque, smoked banana, szechuan marshmallows, pumpkin confit
Salting and Brining
Artichokes and Chartreuse
Strawberries, tomatoes, buttermilk burrata, raspberry vinegar
Morel mushrooms, vadouvan consommé, goat cheese dumplings
Broken Beets, Madeira fluid gel, olive crumbs
Smoked French fries with yuzu kosho ketchup and malt mayonnaise
White chocolate braised white asparagus with angelica and nasturtium
Stew of pigeon peas, brown butter sauce, shaved truffles, onsen egg
Warm salad of endive, apricots, chanterelles
A Creative Landscape
10 minute grits, whey, chicken fond and Fiore Sardo cheese
Mozzarella noodles with shiso pesto
Pumpernickel gnocchi with Ossau-Iraty Vielle, Dijon mustard
Lime pickle agnolotti with roasted langoustine
Sunflower seed risotto, smoked trout, lemon confit, dill
7 Minute Risotto, mitsuba puree, prosciutto, aged gouda
Smoked tagliatelle Puttanesca
Oatmeal carbonara, peas, and a bacon and egg yolk sheet
Miso cavatelli, shrimp sheet, Gruyere, olive leaf arugula
Crusts and Toppings for Contrast
Daurade, green tomato chutney, honey-lime syrup dressing, corn bread crust
Lemon sole with onion rings and syrup, epazote
Trout with a cheddar and fava bean mosaic, Herbes de Provence jelly
Turbot steamed over charred pine needles, mastic-soy sauce, sweet and sour potato noodles
Halibut, lardo, and a ragout of clams, bacon and shiso
Crab Tails, orange marmalade, mace, rutabaga filaments, Dijon-dashi
Salmon, peanut-foie gras consomme, golden raisin relish, honshimeji mushrooms
Loup de Mer, cauliflower, almond milk, cardamom-lime leaf
Black Bass, foie gras pot sticker, mango-kanzuri puree, watercress
Marinated Skate, goat cheese-eggplant puree, radish sheets
Pear juice and soy glazed Black Cod, roasted pears, chestnut grits, pickled pepper jelly
Roast chicken brined and crusted Sturgeon, passion fruit-onion relish, spaghetti squash
Sauteed soft shell crab, wood sorrel, melon terrine, XO sauce
Branzino, mashed potato tube, herbs and spices
Roasted lobster with four-spice blend, buttermilk consommé and blanket, baby turnips, brittle cashews
Chicken gizzards, truffle-apple sheets, whipped cider
Chicken livers with grape-mustard sauce and bruschetta condiment
Cocks combs and calamari a la plancha, tzatziki puree, pickled chickpeas, rosemary
Sweetbread bacon, tomolive-membrillo puree, curry leaf spinach
Foie gras bar, foie gras streusel, preserved cherries, marjoram, mole salt
Foie gras lardo, plums, caraway-allspice bread
Pig’s trotter stuffed with razor clams, black beans, roasted garlic, cilantro
Shaved pigs head with bacon-jalapeño sauce, tamarillo chutney
Jerk spiced lamb neck, whipped yogurt, red and green papapya
Smoked veal cheeks, stew of tomatoes, garlic whistle sauce, lemon tapenade
Pork belly, avocado mosaic, watermelon, ginger-espresso sauce
Lamb belly, Basil-Mint tortellini, fermented vadouvan
Red miso and rootbeer braised short ribs, tamarind fluid gel, potato-apple
Beef cheeks, black radish, Dr. Pepper consommé and relish, maitake mushrooms
Veal neck, stew of barley, country ham, and Tuscan kale
Duck confit, cranberry-horseradish, malted walnuts
Cast Iron Cooking
Bacon brined sirloin, vegetable ragout, balsamic vinegar, bone marrow dumplings
Suckling pig, rhubarb, chermoula, white polenta
Anchovy rubbed veal skirt steak
Duck, smoked oyster-lemongrass sauce, sea beans, salsify
Feta brined lamb loin with Greek salad condiments
Squab, balsamic seaweed, smoked hollandaise, broken carrots
Rib eye in Three Services:
Poached with nut dashi, tea smoked with a foie gras sheet, roasted with ranch flavored potato gnocchi
Textures and Flavors of Milk
Ricotta in a honey skin, clear whey, figs
Cabot Cloth Bound Cheddar, apple sorbet, cinnamon-buckwheat crepes
Mozzarella chawan mushi, basil, tomato water, juniper-lime leaf oil
Red Hawk Powder, sauvignon blanc jelly, mostarda pound cake
Rogue River Oregonzola, candied grapefruit, smoked tomato jam, borage
Sally Jackson Goat cheese, quince, membrillo crisps, bee pollen, grains of paradise
Mosaic of Colorouge, red grapes, smoked Dr. Pepper, arugula
Vermont Shepherd cheese, prunes, pink peppercorn syrup
Grapefruit-elderflower curd, buttered toast
Tied Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie
Raspberries, eucalyptus sorbet, whipped gingersnaps
Sour cream orb, blackberries, lilac sorbet
Screwpine pudding with pineapple sorbet
Cranberry financiers, grains of paradise ice cream, caramel salt
Yuzu Sorbet, whipped wheat beer, malted crumble
Sauternes and Balsamic Gum Drops
Dark Chocolate and Peppermint
Banana bread pudding with pistachio ice cream
Coconut Cream, blueberries, toasted coconut crisps
Peach pie and jasmine ice cream
White miso cake, brown butter ice cream, Bing cherry and olive compote
Strawberry cake, smoked pecan praline ice cream
Caramelized white chocolate pudding, passion fruit, sorrel
Chocolate rubble with sour cherries and malt
June 2, 2008
June 2, 2005
The first cut shoulder has been a staple in our kitchen for years. From cooking it whole to grilling it, breaking it down, bonding it back together, pressure cooking it, braising it, and grinding it, we have taken advantage of all this cut of meat has to offer. It is a somewhat obscure piece, that is often used for pot roast or stew. We find that working with it and finding uses for its myriad parts is extremely rewarding. It is exponentially more rewarding to share it with cooks that understand the pleasure of playing with it. The people that appreciate the process of creativity and discovery in the kitchen. We enjoy the scenic route to delicious because you never know what you'll find along the way.
June 1, 2005
People don't often peel asparagus. Occasionally they will peel the base of an asparagus spear, mostly for aesthetic purposes. That's because they've never bitten into an asparagus spear that was succulent, juicy, and crunchy from the particles of dirt hidden underneath the the triangular leaves that dot the stems. We insist on removing those flat leaves because they sometimes hide pockets of of dirt.
Asparagus shoots poke through the dirt to reach their heads toward the sun. The leaves grow around the dirt on the stem, encasing the tiny particles, preserving them as an unwelcome surprise for the unsuspecting diner. A good soak will not remove the grit. We slide the tip of a paring knife under each leaf and pare it away. Some days you will find nothing but clean green stem, other times you will be amazed by the gritty particles concealed beneath the surface. We follow the trimming by soaking the asparagus in cold water, rinsing off the newly revealed dirt. It's worth the extra effort to ensure beautiful, clean vegetables are enjoyed by everyone at your table.
Adam Aschner is a former client and friend. When he contacted us to let us know that he was designing a newer, better Chef Spoon we thought it was a brilliant idea. He sent us a few of the early prototypes to play with and they quickly became our go-to spoons in the kitchen. They have a nice feel our hands. Their weight and shape making them feel well balanced and easy to maneuver. The almost pointed ends make it easier to direct the flow of the contents of the spoon and nicely sized bowl allows us to either baste or portion easily.
In addition to being a chef, Adam is also and artist. He has designed the spoons so that each handle has a small window with a picture. This means you can personalize your spoons using one of his many designs or by sending him your logo or personal design to put into place. He surprised us with an Ideas in Food spoon, imagine how good your logo would look here. You could give them to your staff as gifts, sell them in your restaurant, or gift them to frequent diners so they'll think of you whenever they're cooking at home. Adam is Kickstarting his spoons so please go check out the campaign. The spoons are reasonably priced, essential kitchen tools that you can customize to your taste. What's not to love about that?
Imagine saltines with butter and jam. The crackers are light and crisp, the butter is creamy and slightly salty, the jam sweet and floral. Put it all together and you have one delicious bite. It made sense transform broken crackers into a streusel that would help us recreate that experience in a dessert.
We used the Cookie Streusel Recipe from Gluten Free Flour Power as our starting point, substituting Saltine crackers for the broken cookies. We mixed the streusel in a food processor and then baked it on a parchment lined baking pan. The saltines were balanced by the sugar and butter in the mixture. The finished crunchy, yeasty streusel was delicious with ice cream. It would also be a stellar topping on any fruit pie or crisp, and as a crust for cheesecake with fruit topping. Crackers with jam just got upgraded.
Let's find out. Not everyone knows that one of our most popular services is consulting. We've worked with clients from international food service companies to single restaurant chef-owners. We show talented, visionary chefs who are looking to excel how to become more creative, define their goals, and implement new ideas and techniques in order to reach new heights. Our clients are inquisitive cooks who love food and embrace the idea of continuing education. We provide a supportive environment for them to troubleshoot their issues and help them fine tune ways to make ideas happen.
Our most popular service is the telephone consultation. We spend at least one hour a week refining ideas and troubleshooting any issues that have come up in your world. We talk through menus and dishes and help focus their preparation and execution for maximum flavor and efficiency. We can show you new approaches to overcoming obstacles in your kitchen and help you work with the equipment and resources you already have to decrease waste and streamline service in order to improve your bottom line. For those of you who want a more in depth overhaul we provide hands on consulting to work directly with you and your team to organize and implement new ideas, seasonal menus, and updated processes.
Telephone consultations are $150 per hour. On site consulting services and special projects are priced on a case by case basis. Now that you know what's possible, contact us to find out what you can accomplish in an hour.
May 28, 2005
We tend to shop with an open mind. Years of experience has taught us that if we make up our mind as to what we want before we go shopping, we are bound to be disappointed. But if we peruse the meat, fish, and produce departments with an open mind, great ingredients jump out at us and meals create themselves. Of course some days are easier than others. On a recent trip we picked up this 6 bone shoulder roast. It was a little big for the three of us. And we were up for looking beyond a slow cooked roast. And then the light bulb went off. We break down rib eyes, lobsters, and chuck shoulders into their parts and pieces. Why not a pork roast too?
Now we have lots of possibilities to explore over several meals. The exterior cap to be braised and potentially cured, the ribs and the double cut bone in rib chops. It just required a small change in perspective.
May 27, 2006
We started with our base pasta dough recipe, which calls for 2000 grams of semolina and 600 grams of water. We subtracted 100 grams of semolina and added 126 grams of Coleman's dry mustard in its place. We mixed the semolina and the mustard together in a bowl and poured it into the hopper of the machine. Then we slowly added the water, holding back 50 grams, to see how the hydration of the dough would be affected by the modifications. We ended up adding 20 of the reserved 50 grams of liquid to get the right texture. Inspired by the alliteration, we chose mafaldine as our shape. We are pairing the noodles with peppered salami meat sauce, so the combination of sauce and mustard flavored noodles made deli-sense.
May 26, 2010
Raisins are concentrated grapes. Their sweet and slightly caramelized notes seduce us into using them in ways beyond cookies and condiments. We have made ribbons and crisps. We have used them in sauces to add depth. We have added them to Rye to add sweetness and complexity. We have added them to vermouth and then separated removed the alcohol to make a raisin vermouth concentrate. And of we course we have smoked raisins, using them to add a smoked complexity to sherry.
It dawned on me this morning that we had not used raisins to enhance vinegar. The combination of raisins, vinegar, and time will add the same sweetness and complexity that we experienced in the alcohol infusions. Many vinegars are bracing and thin, leaving you wanting something more when you taste them. So today I added golden raisins to our Tequila vinegar and our sweet vermouth vinegar. And now we wait.
Ideas worth exploring: utilizing other dried fruits and vegetables in all these applications.
May 25, 2005
What are spare parts?
What are the essential spare parts you have on hand?
Are they actually spare the parts?
Can you part with them?
Aren't they essential elements that we will call upon?
When do spare parts become the catalyst for something entirely new?
Is it necessity?
Is it perspective?
Can we shrink a lobster roll into a bite? We started with the bread. We took Martin's potato bread and rolled it into thin sheets. We have explored this concept before as a crust for fish and as a tortilla variation. We trimmed the bread sheets into strips and brushed them heavily with melted butter.
We rolled the strips around cannoli molds.
We held the molds in place with spoons and baked the tubes for 10 minutes at 350°F.
When the bread was toasted we removed them from the oven and slid them off the tubes. We cooled them completely to give them a chance to crisp up.
We filled the tubes with king crab salad to test them out. The tubes were buttery and rich. They retained their crunch even after being filled for 30 minutes. Some of the tubes were overcooked and had a burnt toast finish. The bread was buttery but would benefit from additional seasonings. So we have a solid platform to build and improve upon. Lowering the cooking temperature a bit will allow us to eliminate the burnt bread. And flavoring the butter will allow us to impart additional seasoning. And if we went further and made our own flavored bread, the possibilities for expanding delicious expand exponentially.
May 23, 2005
The most difficult part in achieving anything is asking the question. During a recent workshop we were asked if it was possible to make an octopus Chicharron. We have explored the technique of making puffed snacks and chicharron-like products. We have an amazing recipe for kimchi cracklings (chicharron) in Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work. Our calamari crackling recipe is here.
Once asked, we set about achieving the desired results. Instead of using actual octopus we started with the intensely seasoned and oceanic broth left over from cooking the octopus. This is a flavorful by-product that is often discarded. We combined roughly one part octopus stock with 2 parts tapioca flour and pureed them into a wet dough in the food processor. Then we divided the dough between two large vacuum bags and sealed them at high pressure. We used a rolling pin to spread the dough to inside edges of the bag so that a uniform thickness was achieved, about two millimeters thick. We placed both bags in a steamer large enough to hold them and gently steamed the dough for 45 minutes. Then we removed the bags from the steamer and cut them open. We carefully removed the dough and laid it on dehydrator trays. We dehydrated the sheets for several hours until the dough was completely dry and brittle. When fully dry, the sheets took on a shiny, opaque appearance and were easily broken into pieces. We removed it from the dehydrator and broke the sheet into pieces roughly 4-cm wide and 8-cm long.
When we were ready to fry we heated a pot of peanut oil to 204ºC. We slid two pieces at a time into the oil. The dried dough sank to the bottom of the oil and then began to puff and expand. We flipped the puffed cracklings once or twice to make sure they are completely puffed and cooked. Then we removed the puffed cracklings from the oil with the spider and drained them on a tray with a cooling rack. We seasoned the Octo-Puffs with a sprinkling of salt and Espelette pepper.
The Octo-Puffs are light, airy, crispy, and taste like the essence of octopus. The under-valued octopus stock has been utilized to create a delicious chicharron.
Anyone who's been around for a while knows that we are passionate about cookies. While we love all kinds of cookies, the house favorite is chocolate chip in all of its myriad combinations. We even wrote an essay about them for the book: The Kitchen as Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food and Cooking (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History). One of the perks of writing a gluten free cookbook was experimenting with different flours. We found that oat flour (we use Bob's Red Mill) is uniquely suited to certain cookies, brownies, and blondies because it helps deliver a great chewy texture, along with some fiber and whole grains, so it's a win-win. I love a chewy cookie, there's just something about sinking your teeth into one that is very satisfying to me. I add about 40% oat flour to any chocolate chip cookie recipe, being sure to chill the dough for a couple of hours before baking, to give the flour time to hydrate. This also gives your ingredients time to mesh and develop their flaovrs, so again, win-win. Try it yourself, while I won't say it makes the cookies guilt free, it does make me feel better about eating an extra one or two or three..
First you start with a strong foundation. These Kouign-amann are adapted from our recipe in Gluten Free Flour Power. We used sprouted spelt flour instead of gluten free, but other than that we stayed pretty true to the original. Kouignn-amann are one of those indulgent treats, rich and sweet, with flaky layers and crisp edges. I like to pull them apart and nibble on all the different textures. Alex isn't afraid to slather butter over them and really gild the lily.
Technique is what really matters here. You have to pay attention to the details. You want to be patient with yourself and with the dough as you make these. Oven time is especially important because there's nothing good about under-cooked pastry. If you can be watchful and patient you will be rewarded with a super-caramelized crust full of deep flavors, and who doesn't want that?
If you get everything right--and it's really not that hard to do, you end up with something delicious that you can share with the people you love. Cooking is about the process, following the steps correctly in order to get the desired results. As with any other skill, practice makes perfect. It's not that the steps can't change, but you have to understand the process in order to determine the best way to rearrange them. Mistakes teach you more than success but success tastes better.
Aki and Amaya put together an incredible birthday gift for me. They brought together a miniature hand cranked burr grinder, a scale, an Aero-Press, a mini-electric kettle and good coffee beans. Everything fits into a compact, bright orange cooler bag that was decorated by Amaya. This traveling coffee kit allows me to make great coffee anywhere I go, as we travel for workshops, consulting, and dinners.
It's always fun to be around people who are passionate about what they do. It tends to inspire us to find our own passion projects. Sometimes that leads to a new career and sometimes that leads to a new friend. Only time can tell which is more important in your world. A good friend who we don't see very often stopped by this weekend. Bonjwing and Alex were having fun with the pizza oven. When you bring people together who have complementary talents, it's always a treat to just sit back and watch things unfold.
May 18, 2006
We took a head of red cabbage and shredded it. We seasoned it with Minus 8 Brix Ver Jus and BLiS Smoked Soy Sauce. We formed it into a large mound. We seasoned a rack of ribs pork ribs with salt and laid it on the cabbage. We put the ribs in a 275° oven and roasted them for 5 hours. As the ribs and cabbage cooked we used the juices and fats from the bottom of the pan to baste the meat. The cabbage tenderized and we pushed it underneath the ribs to prevent it from burning during the long cooking time. The cabbage steamed beneath the ribs, absorbing all of their rich flavor. The pork juices blended with the vegetables. The vegetable juices, enhanced with soy sauce and verjus, happily glazed the meat.
After cooking for 5 hours we let the ribs and cabbage rest for 30 minutes. Then we cut up the ribs and arranged them on a platter. We mixed the cabbage with the residual pan drippings and a pinch of salt to bring everything into balance.
The process of cooking of meats and vegetables together continues to fascinate us.
May 17, 2005
We were at the first farmers market of the season in Concord. We were captivated by Joan's Famous Composting Worms. Amaya was taken in by the pink sign with the words Dig In. She could watch the worms dig and squirm in the soil. We were drawn in by her interest. We did some research on worm composting in years past. Then we let the idea get buried by other distractions. Hopefully we can dig in this year and make it happen for Amaya, us, and the worms. I'm sure we'd have plenty of good eats for them to devour.
May 16, 2009
Steve Stallard is a good friend of ours. We've bonded over our love of good food made possible by enhancing impeccable ingredients. Just yesterday he gifted us with these two bottles of his newest creations.
His latest offering begins with the incredible Yamamoto Soy Sauce. Then he applies innovation, experience and a deft hand of creativity. Steve has created BLiS barrel aged GMO free soy sauces. The sauce is first aged for one year in Japan (by Yamamoto). Then Steve got his hand on it aged some of the sauce another year, here in the States, in twenty year old maple syrup cured bourbon barrels. Pause for a second and wrap your brain around that. The second version, he smoked. It tastes smoke kissed and gently warmed.
He has crafted two distinguished soy sauces, one maple barrel aged and one smoked. They are both simply remarkable. You have no idea what you're missing. Heck, we had no idea what we were missing and we have smoked and barrel aged soy sauce before. Steve just does it way better. These soy sauces have an incredible richness and depth of flavor. When you taste a few drops, you can roll it around on your tongue, they are smooth and mellow, seasoned and full of mellow umami flavors. These are finishing soy sauces, if there is such a thing, meant to be added at the end of cooking so that their full flavors can shine through and complement the main ingredients.
May 15, 2005
We have been on a muesli kick. Aki drives the bus mixing a blend of seeds, grains, and dried fruits with yoghurt and letting it hydrate overnight. Unfortunately yesterday I forgot to let her know that I finished the muesli. And when we woke there was none. I needed to fix my mistake. And I did. I blended the yogurt and muesli mix and then vacuum sealed the mixture. The process quickly hydrated the ingredients. Thanks to technology and a bit of know how, we avoided the hangries this morning.
We have taken to mixing our cakes in a different order. The idea stems from our no-knead danish dough in Maximum Flavor. We mix the fat with the flour first so that the fat mixes evenly with the flour. Then we fold in the liquids. This technique is often used for biscuits and pie doughs because the individual starch granules in the flour are coated with fat and this limits gluten development. And it makes mixing batters and doughs much easier because you don't have to worry about over-mixing the batter.
In the case of our vanilla cake, we put the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in the food processor and pulse to blend. Then we add the peanut oil and puree the mixture together.
The result is a compact streusel-like mass.
We add the eggs, vanilla and buttermilk all at once and puree the mixture into a smooth batter.
The fat coats the flour and prevents extensive gluten formation in the mixing.
The result is an even finely crumbed tender cake. And we end up with way fewer dishes in the process.
May 13, 2009
Last weekend we were visiting family and they were doing a cookbook themed dinner. The books chosen were by a famous t.v. personality, known for well written, easy to follow recipes. The husband was to grill the marinated chickens and he was puzzled as he read the recipe. "It calls for me to cook the half chickens for 15 minutes per side, but there's no way they will finished in that amount of time." I shrugged and told him to cook the chickens until he thought they were done and not worry about it. He nodded at me but his wife had hand-picked the recipe and he wanted to follow it correctly. I could see him mentally debating it as we continued to get stuff ready for dinner and the chickens went on the grill. This is a man who grills often and well. Because he had this recipe in his head, he second guessed the cooking process. He did cook them for longer than the recipe called for, but still pulled them from the grill before he thought they were done. Fast forward to dinner where one of the guests cut into his chicken and pointed out that it was kind of raw in the center. The look of utter frustration on the cook's face spoke volumes. We've all been there at some time. No matter how accomplished we may be, someone else's "expertise" can cause us to stumble. Eventually we learn, and are sometimes reminded, to follow our guts. That way, even when following a recipe, you know that no matter what happens in the kitchen, you own the results.
May 12, 2005
Last year we were working on a project with Hooni Kim and he was telling me about ramen seasoning. Apparently in Korean households, families stockpile extra soup packets from their favorite ramen and use it as an all purpose seasoning for home cooking. One of the only issues I have with instant ramen is the salt level and that was the first time I realized that I could simply use part of a packet and save the rest. Sometimes I'm a little slow like that. Fast forward a year or two and I have my own little stockpile of ramen seasoning in the spice cabinet. So when we brought home some ridiculously beautiful artichokes the other day, Alex used them to make a flavorful broth for braising them in. Amaya, who is a huge artichoke fan, said they were the best ones she ever tasted. We've also used it in vinaigrettes, to season fried chicken brine, and as a dry rub on asparagus, shrimp, and steaks. Ramen Seasoning. It's the next big thing.
The oven deck emits a ton of heat. We wanted to utilize the heat to maximum effect. We heated a cast iron skillet in the oven. We put a generous layer of bacon fat in the bottom of the skillet and then added day old rice. We topped this with escarole and a spatchcocked chicken and then roasted everything in the oven for about 45 minutes. The juices from the bird dripped into the rice. The bottom layer and edges of the rice browned, bringing to mind the socarrat in a paella. The interior rice steamed and soaked up the flavorful juices. We pulled the pan from the oven and let everything rest for 10 minutes. We carved the bird up with scissors. We mixed the rice, greens, crispy bits, and drippings together and served them alongside the meat. In doing so, we gained a great appreciation for this one pan pick up. And everything was consumed with gusto.
Too much? Actually it's a model starting point. We blanched and shocked the asparagus, and then sprinkled our Pressure Toasted Everything Blend on the stems. We added some olive oil and coarse salt. I wanted a creamy, tangy, intense element to tie things together so I reached for our Ranch Dip. It is savory, tangy, rich and a no-brainer as a complement to the tender, crisp, sweet, grassy asparagus.
As we taste and think things through, the ranch could be a hollandaise sauce, savory yogurt, creme fraiche or a cultured creamy vegan puree. We reached for our toasted everything crumbs. They have caramel notes, a deep savoriness, and a heady aroma from the seeds and roasted garlic and onion flakes. These were a base to be built upon and customized. Folding in citrus zests, toasted nori, and cayenne pepper would transform and elevate the impact of the spice blend. Flavoring the olive oil with aromatics from citrus to smoke would be another way to fine tune the flavors of the dish. We blanched the asparagus and served it chilled. We could poach the asparagus in dashi, grill it, smoke it, or roast it while still working off the foundation of asparagus, everything spice blend, and ranch. As we reflect upon these ideas, other variations rise to the surface.
Ideas worth exploring: Adding nori to our everything blend to make a furikake of sorts, Everything ranch, Everything hollandaise sauce, Ranch hollandaise sauce, mushrooms poached in Everything beurre monte, Ranch furikake.
We put a mixture of garlic, butter, and olive oil in a medium pot on a very low heat. We cooked it until the garlic was tender and almost falling apart, about an hour and a half. Then we folded in sweet white miso and let the mixture rest and infuse. After thirty minutes, we pureed it until smooth. The fat rose to the top. The garlic and miso were a creamy paste hidden below the surface. The separation has us thinking of a number of ideas. The liquid fat is a miso-garlic clarified butter, of sorts. The paste is a sweet miso garlic and butter puree. We can whip the two back together or we can emulsify them if we wish. Or we can use them separately and together in different parts of a recipe. First cooking foods in the clarified fat and then brushing the flavorful paste on at the end and vice versa. As we build ideas using the miso-garlic butter as the foundation, the inspirations compound and evolve.
Ideas worth exploring: Miso-Garlic Butter biscuits, Everything enriched Miso-Garlic Butter, Miso-Garlic Butter shrimp toast, Miso-Garlic Butter puff pastry...
Miso Garlic Butter
340 grams peeled garlic
450 grams unsalted butter
225 grams olive oil
290 grams sweet white miso
Put the garlic, butter, and oil in a medium pot set over very low heat. Cook for 90 minutes or until the garlic is very tender. Remove from heat, stir in the white miso, cover, and let the mixture infuse at room temperature for 30 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Cooled Miso-Garlic Butter may be kept in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
May 8, 2007
We were getting ready for pizza night and I was ranting about anchovies, wondering why nobody ever chops them up before adding them to pizzas. I happen to love anchovies on my pizza but having to bite through giant pieces while hot cheese pulls and sauce spatters is not my favorite thing to do. Spreading them over the pizza in small bits makes a world of difference. Alex happened to be opening a new jar of anchovies as I was having my moment and light bulb went off in his head. He decided to freeze them, with their oil, so he could zest them over the pizza for a more even dispersion of flavor. He tucked them in a container in the freezer and told me I'd either thank him or kill him. Safe to say, he's still here...
May 7, 2006
We can never leave well enough alone. That is why our recipes are building blocks. We're constantly tinkering with them in order to be sure that they form a solid base for new ideas, that they are pieces in an ever evolving system of creation.
We took our base no-knead pizza recipe and used 00 flour in place of the combination of all purpose and bread flour that we had previously evolved into using. The dough was softer and stretched more easily. It seemed to cook more evenly. The pizzas were more tender.
And as good as the pizzas were, I was missing something. A bit of bite. A touch more texture. And as I type this and mentally recount last evening's hard won pizza tasting adventure, I have an idea for another element to explore. Hopefully we'll be sharing the results soon.
May 6, 2010
We started with stunning pork chops. We took our meat seasoning a combination of salt, brown sugar and cayenne, and added a few grams of ground coffee to it. We rubbed the seasoning over the chops and let them air dry and absorb the seasoning overnight.
The following day we cooked them for 3 hours at 55°C in the CVap. We pulled them from the CVap, rubbed them with butter and let them rest for 10 minutes. Then we seared them in a cast iron skillet in more butter. Another 5-7 minute rest and then we sliced the chops and consumed them with gusto.
My new obsession is an everyday doughnut. Doughnut cravings can arise quickly. While our off the charts, worth the price of the book itself doughnut recipe in Maximum Flavor produces The Ultimate Doughnut, it is not a quick fix recipe.
I recently had a cruller style doughnut that was less airy than I've had in the past. It came close to a cake doughnut but with all its cruller-ness still intact. It had a lightly sweet, eggy interior with a honeycomb texture and a crisp, deep brown crust. As I contemplated the cruller, a light dawned. What if we blended pate choux with a cake batter? Then we would gain structure and lightness without having to wait for any yeast action.
I used the base pate choux and easy one bowl cake from Gluten Free Flour Power as my base models. Then I modified and combined the two recipes. A few mid-stream adjustments were necessary. In the end we had a rack of super crispy, moist and tender doughnuts. They were delicious plain and rolled in cinnamon sugar and just as good warmed up in the toaster oven the next morning.
The final recipe will surface somewhere, somehow, sometime. For now get in your kitchen and start tinkering.
We're an idea company. Our philosophy is all about looking at things from different angles and trying to do things in new ways. We use all of the tools at our disposal and they range through ingredients, equipment, research, food science, serve ware, and personal experience. Innovation is the action or process of innovating a new method, idea, product, etc. Innovation doesn't have to be complicated to make food more interesting and delicious. Sometimes it can be as simple as slipping sliced pepperoni into the folds of a soft pretzel before baking, so that it bastes the dough with its fat and crisps up in the oven. The resulting flavors and textures are off the charts and you've got something new and different and very familiar all in one bite. That's Ideas in Food.