Strawberry Lavender Thumbprint doughnuts and Banana Cream Pies.
Strawberry Lavender Thumbprint doughnuts and Banana Cream Pies.
Because pretzel crumbs can make anything taste better. We substituted pretzel crumbs for the masa in our latest version of fried chicken. We served this with a cherry pepper caramel (cherry peppers were pureed with their brine and then added to caramelized sugar) for dipping, and doughnut bread pudding.
May 28, 2005
Asparagus, olive oil, salt, and the kiss of fire.
May 27, 2006
I'm on a pickling kick and today I came across another bounty of organic cucumbers. I brought a bunch of them home and Alex immediately got excited about doing a classic dill pickle with vinegar, sugar, salt, jalapeno, garlic, and spices. Of course I had my heart set on traditional NYC style half-sours, which are fermented in a seasoned brine with garlic, dill seeds, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Both styles produce great pickles and the hardest part becomes deciding which ones to make. Sometimes great minds don't always think alike.
May 26, 2010
Today the path led back to bacon and mushrooms. We have wrapped cured meats around mushrooms before. When I saw a tight nest of pioppini mushrooms I immediately saw a filet mignon. And that led to me wanting to wrap the mushrooms in bacon, like the classic bacon wrapped filet.
I ended up cutting the mushroom cluster into quarters and wrapping the pieces in strips of bacon. I tied the bacon in place. As I was putting the bacon wrapped mushrooms into a roasting pan I came across some king trumpet mushrooms. I added them to the pan along with garlic cloves. The trumpets seemed blank. Looking at the combinations in the pan I reached for oil packed anchovies. I topped the trumpets with the anchovies and drizzled olive oil over them and the garlic.
I roasted the mushrooms for 45 minutes in a 350°F oven. The fat rendered and basted the mushrooms. The anchovies broke down and coated the mushrooms. The garlic cloves caramelized and softened. The bacon cooked but did not brown. Strangely bacon with this texture is really addictive. The meat and fat blend together. The meat itself is not overly salty. It has a rich tenderness, reminiscent of pork belly. Of course it is pork belly.
When the mushrooms were cooked I removed them from the pan and added Minus 8 vinegar to the fat and fond. I smashed the remaining and anchovies into the oil and vinegar. I spooned the warm vinaigrette over the mushrooms. It was delicious.
May 25, 2005
Occasionally an ingredient is so good it asks politely to be left alone. The difficulty is listening. We have the ability to do almost anything with and to an ingredient. Implementing restraint, doing absolutely nothing except enjoying the sun warmed berries feels like cheating. It is amazing, how as a cook, we feel guiltly by doing nothing. In the case of these strawberries if we did anything but eat them we would have done them a disservice. Tomorrow, if there are any left, we can explore possibilities about the next steps. For now I need a napkin.
We continue to search for delicious uses for doughnut spare parts. Today I took the trimmings from our marble doughnuts and made a marble loaf. Kinda ironic. I sprayed the inside of a large bundt pan with pan release and dusted it with sugar. I rolled the trimmings into a giant log, and then set it inside the pan. I covered the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for an hour while I preheated the oven to 350°F with convection. When the dough had roughly doubled in size, I dusted the top with granulated sugar, and baked the bundt for 1 hour, until the internal temperature was 195°F. I let the bundt cool for 15 minutes in the pan and then turned it out onto a cooling rack.
I left the house to run errands and remove myself from the temptation of cutting into the hot cake. When I returned home I sliced into the caramelized exterior. The inside was light, moist, and scented with butter, yeast, vanilla, and chocolate.
The cake-bread was amazing. It was one of the most delicious slices of anything I have ever tasted. I savored each tender, just sweet heavenly rich bite.
And then reality kicked in. I can make one of these a week in our world of doughnuts. What can I do with this weekly treasure? There is only so much I can eat. Is there a way to sell these bundts? Are other people going to be as excited as I am to get a hold of this special treat? I believe they will. Now how to connect with the lucky few?
May 23, 2005
white chocolate, maple syrup, lemon oil
In a recent workshop we revisited our Rib Eye in Three Services. In this evolution we took a portion of the rib eye's eye and wrapped it in pepperoni. We did not use transglutaminase to bond the pepperoni in place. We shingled the pepperoni into a mat that we wrapped around the miniature loin. We wrapped and torqued the pepperoni in place with plastic wrap. We started at one end of the wrapped rib eye and removed the plastic wrap, as if we were unwrapping a burrito. This allowed us to keep tie the pepperoni in place in finger width intervals. After the loin was trussed we slow cooked it in a combi oven for one and half hours at 55°C. We removed the meat from the oven and deep fried it for about 30 seconds to crisp up the pepperoni. We were able to remove the ties and slice the meat into pepperoni wrapped meat medallions. We presented the pepperoni rib eyes with morel mushrooms braised in pressure cooked beef sauce.
The results were pepperoni-rific. And I look forward to more explorations with pepperoni and rib eye as well as taking trussed pepperoni to other cuts of: meat, fish and vegetables.
Organic cucumbers were on sale at the market and I couldn't resist them. Of course once I got them home and opened the plastic wrap I discovered that I would need to use them up relatively quickly. Since I had far more than I could possibly consume in a day or two, quick pickles were in order. These ended up being more like a half sour Japanese pickle. I whisked together some white miso, soy sauce, and minced garlic to form a thick salty paste and massaged it into the vegetables. Then I poured it all into a plastic bag and let it marinate for 24 hours. The next day I drained off the liquid and I had delicious pickles that are disappearing far faster than I ever expected them too. I may have to go back and see if they are still on sale so I can make more.
In a recent workshop we were exploring the shapes and textures of marshmallows. We dried a thin sheet of marshmallow in the dehydrator of overnight. We broke the crisp marshmallow (is it dried meringue?) into shards. We took the crisp pieces and charred them over an open flame. The charring piqued the flavor of the marshmallow and highlighted the striking features of the crispy marshmallow.
May 18, 2006
In our noodle making adventures we have learned that we need an incredibly intense flavor base to justify flavoring a noodle. Without a massive flavor to start we end up with only the idea of flavor when eating the noodles. Today we revisited jalapeno noodles. I love both raw and charred jalapenos. I satisfied my cravings by using equal parts raw and charred jalapenos in our puree, the flavoring for the noodles. I pureed the jalapenos with water and preserved lemon brine. I strained the puree and used 600 grams plus approximately 20 grams more to hydrate 2000 grams of semolina.
The noodles have both aromas and flavors I crave from jalapeno, the tarry rawness and the smokey cut grass from the charring. The preserved lemon notes faded to the background in the noodles but they inspired further flavor pairings and sauce development.
350 grams jalapenos to char
350 grams raw jalapenos
50 grams preserved lemon brine
300 grams water
Put a medium sized cast iron pan on medium high heat and heat until it is smoking. Put the jalapenos in the pan and let them char and blister. Turn the jalapenos in the pan and char the entire exterior of the peppers. Remove the jalapenos from the pan and put them into a blender. Put the raw jalapenos, water and lemon brine into the blender. Turn the blender on low and increase the speed to high. Puree the mixture until it appears smooth, about 30 seconds. Turn the blender off and strain the mixture through a fine meshed sieve. Weigh the mixture if using for pasta. It should be a bit more than is needed. The rest of the puree can spike a bloody marry or season some guacamole.
May 17, 2005
For his birthday this year Alex requested pie. Rhubarb-Strawberry Pie to be exact. It's his new favorite. Just because it's pie doesn't mean we can't decorate it and make it feel festive. Birthdays are all about sharing and caring and letting people know how much you love them. Some people may want parties, others just want a little bit of good pie. In either case, birthdays are always a celebration.
Happy Birthday Alex/Daddy! We love you very much.
May 16, 2009
I'm not sure why it took us until today to blend kimchi and mayonnaise. We have made kimchi-blue cheese goodness but that is more complex and less universal than what we made this evening. We roughly chopped a jar of kimchi and folded in some Duke's Mayonnaise. Tonight we served it as a bed underneath Zweigle's pop open hot dogs on Martin's potato rolls. Tomorrow it may be served with some barbecue. And later in the week a delicious accompaniment to a twisted Reuben. Creamy kimchi is now an essential condiment in our kitchen.
May 15, 2005
...Now we just have to test it and see how well it works.
It seems these days that you can find almost any ingredient online or at your local markets. When I came across these jars of lard and tallow I couldn't resist. While I have been known to render my own fats, cooking for three doesn't give many opportunities to do so. I've been wanting to play around with a percentage of lard in my pie crust, just to see if it really does make a difference, and if so, whether or not I actually like it. I have yet to be swayed from a 100% butter crust, although I'm open to trying new things. I also prefer to cook meat in it's own fat so I'm sure the lard will come in handy for pork chops and other assorted porcine goodness. The same goes for the tallow. It's a luxury to have it on hand for my steaks. I'm sure both fats will have a delicious effect on sauteed vegetables, possibly even fruits, and any number of preparations I haven't considered yet. I like to pick up new ingredients because sometimes just having them in my pantry makes me more creative in the kitchen.
May 13, 2009
How do you look at the wear and tear of the kitchen? The trick is finding beauty in the everyday landscape.
May 12, 2005
Owning a very small doughnut shop has been a great experience. It brought us back into the retail market and allowed us to connect with our customers in a way that we can't do with our readers. It's actually brought many readers to our door. We love meeting you and having you taste some of our creations. Being open only two days a week has given us a sharp learning curve that has fed our creative side. Small means limited sales, so cutting costs and reducing the bottom line is imperative. We refused to compromise on ingredients and we can only charge so much for our doughnuts, so we have to find ways to utilize all of our product. Doughnut holes are pressed together before frying to form doughnut clusters. Cake dough trimmings that are left over after cutting out the doughnuts are fried extra crispy and dusted with powdered sugar to make debris. Yeasted dough trimmings are pressed together before frying to make our marble doughnuts. Any leftover doughnuts at the end of the day--and on a good day there are no leftovers--are made into doughnut crumbs or doughnut bread pudding. Doughnut crumbs are used to garnish sundaes or to make doughnut cookies. Leftover custard mix in the machine on Sunday afternoons is extruded into pints and sold to take home. We use everything. It's been an exercise in creativity that has led us down new paths of delicious discovery. So ask yourself, what can you recycle and reuse in your kitchen?
Every year we attempt to put more book reviews on the website. At one point I even had grand delusions of posting one a week because we have an enormous library, we write books, and we LOVE books. Then life got in the way and we ended up doing a few short book reviews here and there when we are truly inspired by something. Because let's face it, books are expensive and it takes time to read them from cover to cover. They are an investment in our own knowledge and pleasure. So many times I put off writing about a book because I want to read every single page and then comprehensively express how much I enjoyed it. With my schedule this proves to be almost impossible to achieve. My goal this year is more little book reviews. Short and sweet synopses of why a book is worth reading. That we can share more about our library and, hopefully, you can find some interesting books to read that you might not have picked up on your own.
For example, I briefly mentioned that I have been reading Preserving the Japanese Way, Traditions of Salting, Fermenting, and Pickling For the Modern Kitchen by Nancy Singleton Hachisu. She happens to be a writer who could make any topic sound wonderful and welcoming. Her books are an auto-buy for me, although it may take me a little time before I get them on my shelf. I find that as life picks up speed, I often don't find about books until they've been out for a while. But that's okay because I'm a big believer that things cross our path when they are meant to. Books about traditional Japanese techniques are available in larger quantities than they used to be, but the quality is up and down. As I mentioned, Nancy's books are very readable, which means we get the benefit of her knowledge and experience in a way that simply winds itself into our hearts. I love the stories about her farm, her family and friends, and the small producers, both near and far, that feature in her essays. There's a lot of information and philosophy in these pages. As we move into CSA season there are lots of ideas for using up all those vegetables that don't fit on the dinner table. You'll learn how to make your own miso and sake, shio koji and tofu, salted vegetables (and fish) and fermented pickles. It's a treasure trove of flavors that are easily translated into American ingredients and cuisine. The photography is evocative and takes you to another place and time. The recipes are well written and solid. It's a special book. Although I haven't quite finished it yet, I'm in no hurry, because reading this one is a pleasure and I'll be sorry when I'm done.
I have ridiculous allergies. They've worsened with age, to the point where the allergist looked at me and said, "You should basically wear a face mask whenever you work outside from spring to winter. That is definitely not happening and I've been trying to alleviate things with homeopathic remedies and a variety of allergy medicines. Nettle tea is proving to be a wonderful tonic, after two months of drinking it daily I've been able to cut my allergy medicines in half.
One of the things that I have had to give up is flowers in the house. Put a bunch of anything beautiful and blooming in a vase in a room with me and after 10 minutes or so I'm congested and miserable. So flowers have been banned from our tables for ages. In our new house the window over the kitchen sink looks out onto the back patio. When someone we loved brought a bunch of gorgeous tulips to Easter, we discovered that we could set them on the patio table and enjoy them from a distance. They actually seem to last longer outdoors in their natural environment. Now Amaya can wander the woods and pick me a bunch of flowers and I can savor their beauty every time I look out my windows. Win-win. This particular bunch was part of our Mother's Day celebration. She made all of my presents herself and every one was special. Now that's a tradition worth keeping.
I am consistently amazed by what exists in nature and how little of it we take the time to see. Appropriately Amaya and I cam across these stunning flowers on a walk today. Thankfully folks on twitter were able to identify them in a flash. With a bit of knowledge in our hand we shared them with Aki, digitally.
The best way to celebrate Mother's Day is sharing our bleeding hearts. Happy Mother's Day.
May 8, 2007
We have a butcher down the road from us. A butcher that actually has large cuts of meat and breaks them down. I am a kid in a candy store. I asked if they had beef neck. They did. I asked why? I really wasn't expecting a yes. Rather I was hoping for we can get it for you if you give us enough notice. What people around here do with it? They mentioned they have a large Mexican population that comes in and has the neck sliced thin. The neck is then marinated and eventually grilled. I lit up with the idea. I always think of neck meat as an item to be slow cooked.
I bought a pound, sliced as they would for marinating and grilling. At home we skipped the marination and only salted the meat. I grilled the slices on one side. The meat was thin and I didn't want to obliterate it. Of course I really had no experience with grilled beef neck. I was going with instinct and experience. I grilled an onion alongside the beef. I cut the onion into pieces and added it to a bowl with the grilled beef. I let the meat rest and the flavors and juices blend.
The meat had a variety of textures from melting to chewy. The onions added sweetness and additional char grilled flavor. We ate the meat with red leaf lettuce, sesame bread and assorted pantry salsas.
Today we took some ideas and integrated them into our wheelhouse. The proximity to the butcher will allow us to dive much deeper into broadening our uses with the beef neck and beyond.
May 7, 2006
It seems that I need to clarify that last post a bit. We are not marinating the ramps, we are fermenting them. I've been reading Preserving The Japanese Way by Nancy Singleton Hachisu and I am totally inspired. (The book is wonderful. You should definitely buy it.) The ramps in white miso are riff off of misozuke, a Japanese technique of fermenting vegetables or tofu in miso. The most commonly seen version of misozuke is that of garlic cloves buried in a jar of miso. These are some of the easiest pickles to make at home if you have access to good miso. We like the South River Miso Company when we can find it, although we used a different organic brand this time because that's what they had at the store. In the traditional technique, garlic cloves or other sliced vegetables are buried in miso for a period of days, weeks, or months to ferment. Many recipes direct home cooks to put down a layer of miso, a layer of cheesecloth, the pickling ingredient, another layer of cheesecloth and then a layer of miso. This helps preserve the miso so that it can be used for another batch of pickles when the first one is done. After a few batches the juices released from the vegetables waters down the miso too much to use anymore.
Several years ago we did an article for PopSci on quick pickles. It gives you some great background information on the pickling process. Regardless of whether you are using a liquid bring or miso paste, the vegetables are always completely submerged in the pickling medium and then covered to keep oxygen out of the fermentation process. Over the years we evolved our method to use the vacuum sealer to pickle watermelon rinds, cucumbers, squash, and myriad other vegetables. It speeds up the process considerably and makes them easier to store if you have limited space. So, we're going to let these ramp-miso pickles ferment a little longer, a good friend of ours suggested that 3-6 months will give the best flavor, even though you can eat them much sooner, so we'll see if we have that kind of self control. Yes, there are risks with home pickling, but if you trust your gut and your tongue, work clean and smart, you will probably will make something delicious and perfectly safe to eat.
May 6, 2010
We'll give them a couple of weeks in the fridge to meld and mellow and then we'll see what happens next.
For me, springtime means pie. It's not that I don't make pie in the winter but I seem to make less of it. Cookies and brownies and other smaller desserts are more of a thing in our house during the cold season. Perhaps because that gives me an opportunity to turn the oven on every day. Easter is the beginning of my pie season with strawberry pie. After that the organic fruit supply in our local markets slowly starts to build. Bit by bit, options expand. This week were taken by some flashy stalks of rhubarb, their vibrant pink color camouflaging the deeply tart flavor within.
Now there are people who adore rhubarb pie. I've never made one in the past. There was so much juicy, sweet fruit to play with that I avoided using it in pie, even though we grew it in our old garden at Twin Oak. For some reason this week I got the urge. We had plenty of rhubarb to work with and I happened to have some exceptionally sweet and fragrant strawberries in the fridge. Unsurprisingly it was a match made in heaven. The recipe below calls for equal amounts of rhubarb and strawberries, I used perhaps slightly more rhubarb and you can skew the proportions according to your taste. This pie is rich and sweet, tart and lively. It's almost too easy to eat a whole slice on its own (me) or snuggled up beside some freshly whipped cream (Amaya) or paired with some creamy frozen custard (Alex). We bring our supply home from the shop in pint containers but you could use vanilla ice cream instead. No matter how you eat it, this is some good pie.
Makes one 9-inch pie
2 premade pie crusts, one pressed into a buttered 9-inch pie pan with a 1-inch overhang, and one rolled out and ready to go.
3 cups rhubarb, sliced 1/2-inch thick, 2-3 large stalks
3 cups strawberries, quartered, about 24 ounces / 680 grams
1 cup / 200 grams sugar
2 ½ tablespoons / 20 grams cornstarch
1 ½ tablespoons / 11 grams tapioca starch (you can use all cornstarch but the tapioca gives the gel a softer, silkier texture)
½ teaspoon / 3 grams fine sea salt
1 teaspoon / 4 grams vanilla paste or extract
1 tablespoon / 14 grams heavy cream
1/4 cup/ 60 grams raw sugar
Preheat oven to 400°F. (205°C.)
Put the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, tapioca starch, and salt in a medium bowl and mix gently with a rubber spatula to blend. Add the vanilla and gently fold it into the fruit. Pour the fruit into the prepared pie pan lined with piecrust and use the spatula to distribute it evenly in the pan.
Lay the second pie crust over the top, press it gently down around the fruit, and then trim to so that the the outer edge just overlaps the edge of the bottom crust. Fold the edge of the top crust over and under the bottom crust and roll it inwards, all the way around the edge, to seal the crust. Pinch the crust all the way around the circumference to create a decorative border and double seal the edge so that the pie doesn't drip. Place the pie on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, brush the cream over the entire top crust and sprinkle the raw sugar evenly over the pie. Bake for 20 minutes and reduce the heat to 350°F. (175°C.) without opening the door. Bake for 50 minutes, rotating the pie once, if needed.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely before serving.
I finally got really tired of throwing out the bottoms of asparagus. Today I put them into the oven and roasted them until they carbonized. The result, asparagus charcoal. What does one do with asparagus charcoal? I let the mind wander and dream up uses: to grill asparagus over it, grind it into a fine flour to make asparagus bread and toast, to mix with salt and use as a seasoning, to blend with fats to coat alternatively cooked asparagus, to flavor Hollandaise sauce, to make ice cream, to ....
I fired up the brick oven. I took a gutted and scaled black bass, deeply scored its sides, and salted it. Then I spatchcocked it, spreading open the two sides underneath the backbone, so that the fish appeared to be swimming in the pan with some olive oil, a few cloves of garlic, and some white wine. I slid the pan deep into the oven and let the flames and heat go to work. The wine quickly steamed off and the oil began to sizzle. I rotated the pan to cook the other side of the fish. Once it was finished, I pulled the fish out of the oven and poured a few ladles of prosciutto-ramp broth over the top. It sizzled in the pan and blended with the juices and garlicky fat. I basted the fish a few times with the quick pan sauce. And that was dinner.
May 2, 2005
This video resonated with us because, in our consulting business, much like copy editors, we strive to be invisible. Our job isn't to make your food like ours, it's to make your food more fully what you want it to be. It's the details, techniques, and collaboration that inspire us. It's the journey that motivates us. And yes, the occasional shout out is heart warming and makes it all worth while.
May 1, 2006
We put the sandy potato chips into action today. We started with a chocolate glazed doughnut. We coated the glaze with a new pretzel crumb that utilizes Dulcey, caramelized white chocolate. To complete the doughnut we filled the hole with the sandy potato chips. The salty, sweet, crunchy elements were a delicious addition to our base doughnut. Tomorrow I'm looking to indulge in one topped with frozen custard. Oh yeah, and I've now begun looking at chips and dip using the sandy potato chips and the frozen custard. Look for that here and possibly at Curiosity Doughnuts.
Take a look over at Bon Appetit.com for a delicious article on yeasted versus cake doughnuts. We got to share some of our thoughts on the subject. We make both at Curiosity Doughnuts because we understand cravings and it's hard to find one place where you can satisfy them both to your heart's content. In the end, it's worth having a split personality so you may chase delicious in both camps.
April 29, 2007
April 29, 2005
April 28, 2005
We boiled a quail egg for 2 minutes and 45 seconds in acidulated water. We shocked it in vinegar spiked water as well. The vinegar appeared to ease the peeling of the soft cooked egg. Once the egg was peeled we wrapped it in phyllo dough brushed with butter. We fried the egg for 30 seconds to crisp the phyllo and warm the egg. We seasoned the fried egg with salt and espelette pepper. After frying we grated cheddar cheese over the top and added a slice of country ham. A delicious take on the an original.
April 27, 2005
Organic leeks were on sale at the store today. They were fat and happy, tender and firm, so I put some in my cart. I have a tendency to buy leeks and then forget about them. This time I made a point of leaving the yellow onions in the store and resolved to use the leeks instead. While they are from the same family, leeks a subtle sweetness and a grassy earthiness that give them a distinctive flavor. They went over beautifully in stir fried noodles but not so well in teriyaki meatloaf. (I'm on a bit of a Asian kick.) Still it's been fun to use them in different ways. Instead of changing my dishes to suit the leeks, I'm simply adding them to what I have in mind. I've learned a lot in the process about their flavor and their presence in a dish. They definitely fare better with savory than sweet and ginger seems to bring out too much funk in the alliums. I've still got a couple left in the fridge and I'm expecting them to be a stellar addition to a rich chicken broth with miso for ramen tomorrow night. We'll see...
April 25, 2011
April 25, 2008
Today we made a modification to our banana cream pie doughnut. It took a small move to shift our thoughts. Instead of finishing the doughnut with our cream cheese cookie crumbs I reached for our white chocolate and pretzel crumb. This seemingly thoughtless element exchange has since catalyzed some delicious ideas. The darker toasted notes and the saltiness of the pretzels blended with the vanilla notes of the white chocolate were an amazing compliment to the banana cream pie doughnut: new fashioned doughnut, brown butter-freeze dried banana sugar, betterscotch glaze and cannoli cream.
The doughnut is our canvas, today. But imagine a pretzel pie crust for a banana cream pie. Imagine banana ice cream with betterscotch sauce and pretzel praline. Imagine a banana-betterscotch cheesecake with the white chocolate-pretzel crumb crust.
April 24, 2005
I've made, eaten and served plenty of hot fudge. I have not had much experience with white hot fudge. Since I hadn't experienced it, I figured I should create my own. I started with hard crack sugar syrup. I added cream to dissolve the sugar mass. I stirred white chocolate and salt into the cream-sugar mixture. The finished hot fudge resembled the traditional dark chocolate version in chew and pourability. The flavor is sweet, vanilla and rich fattiness, molten white chocolate. Time to start topping some frozen custard.
Years ago we made potato chip praline to accompany potato chip ice cream. The praline was a riff off of our pretzel praline. The pralines are deeply flavored and really crunchy. I wanted to revisit the praline for Doughnutland but wanted an element to compliment the doughnuts rather than overpower them. I borrowed the idea of sandy nuts, an approach we have applied to pretzels for the shop. I guess I have a pattern. First pretzels, then potatoes. Thanks to my idiosyncratic nature we now have experienced the wonderfulness of sandy potato chips. I dusted sugar on the potato chips in a hot pan and let the sugar melt and crystalize on the chips. I got a light coating of sugar with some caramelization happening on a few chips. I put the coated chips on parchment lined sheet pan and sprinkled on salt. I needed to compliment the sugar in my search for balance in the world of sweet and salt. With the final salt in place the chips are now ready for our spud-nuts.
Those big, fat, juicy asparagus that are everywhere right now do well with a quick peel (to eliminate dirt under the triangles and tough membranes) and a soak in cold water. There's always a few soft ones in any bunch and a short (or long) soak in fresh cold water will liven them right up. You can prep them first and then just leave them in the water until you're ready to cook them. The soaked asparagus will cook up juicy and tender regardless of whether you roast, grill, steam, braise, or saute them.
April 21, 2009
Before food blogs were everywhere and instagram and facebook dominated the landscape sneak peaks and behind the scenes looks into restaurants were few and far between. When Anthony Bourdain dove into a meal at The French Laundry he shared what many wanted to know. It was culinary voyeurism.
Today I was reminiscing on the segment that ran on The Food Network. We had recorded it on VHS. We, well I, watched it too many times, looking for details and insights I had not experienced. In the land of instant that we live in today we spend so much time creating new and now. We don't rewatch. We retweet. We don't reread, we skim at best.
Revisiting the video for the umpteenth time, well closer to hundredth, brought an old smile back to my face and reminded me the importance of appreciating what you find.
We get used to doing things a certain way. We have a plan in place. We know where we are going and the fastest way to get there. When you take someone else along, they wander. Our first instinct is to herd them back in line. To get them to follow the directions. To continue it the way we had planned. Our second reaction is to get frustrated because they are not following along. The third phase is to get upset at the delay. To want to yell.
Stopping ourselves from reacting is essential to being able to see things differently. Finding humor in any situation allows us to open up to it. To experience sameness from a different perspective. Controlling our need for control is essential to our ability to open new doors and connect ideas.
April 19, 2006
Amaya loves ramen. She happily eats it 4-5 times a week, mostly for breakfast. It's one of her favorite meals so we aren't always able to make the noodles fresh for her. Needless to say, we've gotten pretty picky about which ones we buy. For a while there, Miyojo Chukazanmai (miso flavor) was her favorite. Then it was displaced by Nissin RAOH, a new line form Nissin, seemingly only available from Amazon. The noodles had a better better texture. They were a little chewier than the Miyojo ones and we liked the miso and the soy broths better. Last week while I was shopping at Wegman's I came across frozen ramen from Sun Noodle Company in the freezer section. Since Sun Noodle is the go-to noodle company for many chefs, I didn't hesitate to pick up a few packages. These are a little more expensive than the dried noodles, but totally worth it. They were the best packaged ramen noodles I've ever eaten. There was an incredible chew and springy slurpiness to the noodles. And the broth was rich and decadent. These are a treat to eat, changing the game for instant noodles in our kitchen. Even Alex liked them and that's saying something.
April 18, 2009
It was only a matter or time. Vanilla and marble (chocolate and vanilla swirled) ice cream cones for the frozen custard at Curiosity Doughnuts, utilizing our doughnut doughs in a new way.
Strawberry sugar and lemon sugar, good separately, but together you've got strawberry lemonade...doughnut holes.
April 16, 2011
The colors of Spring.
Steam? Roast? Grill?
It's all good.
April 15, 2010
April 15, 2006
Alex texted me yesterday afternoon requesting brownies or blondies for dessert. Since the Easter bunnies have been slowly disappearing there has been a lot of chocolate going on, so I decided to make blondies--with chocolate chips. I like to use whole grain flours in bars because they work well with their chewy yet tender nature and I like that bit of fiber to help slow down digestion and hopefully ease the sugar rush. While I generally lean toward oat flour for these I wanted to add a bit of quinoa flour to add slightly nutty dimension and I balanced this with a little all purpose so I'd get a little more texture in the cake. You can always make this with 100% oat or 100% AP if that's how you roll. The bars ended up with a little bonus layer of caramelized sugar at the bottom, reminiscent of Scotch tablet, that was quite delicious. These are made in one pot and the batter comes together quickly. We like our blondies a little thicker and cut them smaller (well I do, Alex is a bit more generous for himself. And for Amaya she gets mommy style.) These blondies have a fudgey, chewy texture, rich with brown sugar, and broken up by bites of caramel and chocolate chips. You could top them with whipped cream or ice cream (as Alex did) or really go whole hog and make them the base of a sundae with some chocolate caramel sauce to make this dessert a true indulgence. ( An idea Alex wish he had thought of.)
Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Blondies
Makes one 8-inch square pan
8 ounces / 225 grams unsalted butter, sliced
1/2 cups / 100 grams dark brown sugar
1/2 cup / 106 grams light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon / 3 grams fine sea salt
2 large cold eggs
1 teaspoon / 4 grams vanilla paste or extract
1/4 teaspoon / 1 gram almond extract
1 cup / 120 grams oat flour
1/2 cup / 56 grams quinoa flour
1/2 cup / 75 grams all purpose flour
1 cup / 175 grams bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F. / 175°C.
Butter a one 8-inch square baking pan. You can use the waxed paper/foil that was around the butter you are using for the blondies to do this.
Melt the butter in a medium pot and set over medium low heat. One the butter is melted, remove from heat and add the dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, and salt. Stir until completely smooth. Let the mixture cool slightly and then add 1 large egg, stirring rapidly with a silicone spatula to incorporate it into the butter mixture before it starts to coagulate. Once that egg is completely absorbed, add the second egg and repeat. Once the mixture is smooth add the vanilla paste or extract and the almond extract and stir to blend. Add the oat flour, quinoa flour, and all purpose flour and stir vigorously to blend. Give it about 50 strokes, until the batter is smooth and silky and falls like a ribbon back into the pan when you lift the spatula. stir in the chocolate chips and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the center is set. You can test this by gently pressing against it with your fingertip or with a cake tester. The tester should feel as though it is pushing through a set cake and come back out clean. Let cool completely before serving. These blondies will cut more easily and hold together better if they have time to set up.
This past week we introduced caramel custard at Curiosity Doughnuts. We have the ability to serve one flavor at a time. We have stayed true to idea that a blank slate can be built upon. We created and refined our vanilla-buttermilk custard. But my restless spirit kept poking me for more. I finally succumbed to my inner voices. By waiting an extended time to change the custard flavor I gave myself a lot of time to think through the modifications. I adapted our original custard and caramel custard was born. I caramelized the sugar and condensed milk in the recipe. I took them to a dark caramel and added the dairy to them. From that point on our recipe remained the same. The changes were minor. The results were worth the wait. Taking the time to ponder and analyze our process allowed me to mentally make mistakes. Also, the time allowed us to refine and improve the original custard without throwing additional distracting variables into the equation.
April 12, 2006
Brilliant work from Austin Kleon. We have rule 10 framed in our dining room.
April 10, 2006