Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sous Vide Pork Roast with Savory Fennel Bread Pudding

Just when I came up with a new game plan to be able to cook a bit more, my life is going through some more upheaval. I'll write about that more as it happens, but for now one implication is that I need to start using up my stockpile of proteins in the chest freezer. To help me with this, I invited a couple friends over for a simple dinner the other night.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Low-Maintenance Thanksgiving

Oh. Hello, there. Long time, no write. Things haven’t been so great around here, pain-wise, so it’s been hard to spend much time in the kitchen (or doing much of anything worth writing about, really). I have an idea of how I may be able to start posting here again, which I’ll write about this week, but first I managed to put together a Thanksgiving feast for myself with minimal time in the kitchen.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cookbook Adventures: Momofuku Ramen

A little over a year and a half after buying the book, I finally got around to making the dish I knew I had to make: Last night, I finally made Momofuku Ramen for dinner (fresh alkaline noodles and all).

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Perfect-er Perfect Ricotta

I've continued to make fresh ricotta pretty frequently using the sous vide method from Ideas in Food that I outlined in a previous post. This became even easier when I got my chamber vacuum, making it possible to vacuum-seal the bag of ingredients without messing around with having to seal a zip-top bag inside a vacuum bag. The one thing that was still bugging me was having to go through cheesecloth during production. Over the course of the past few months, I've come up with a (quite ghetto-looking) solution to this problem, so I figured I would share it here. The new method has taken my perfect ricotta and made it even perfecter...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Still My Favorite Way to Cook Corn...

Corn was on sale $1.50 per 6-pack last time I ordered groceries, so I had no choice but to order lots of corn. I was originally thinking of doing a "creamed" corn with basil (which I mentioned, among other things, in this post), but then the first issue of Lucky Peach arrived at my door, and as David Chang wrote about ramen I remembered how awesome it was making his ramen broth, and then I remembered how I had ramen broth in the freezer... and remembered the dish for which I had made it... and I instantly knew (well, instantly once all that remembering was done) what I had to make with my giant pile of corn: Roasted Sweet Summer Corn with Miso Butter, Bacon, and Roasted Onions.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

I turned 32 a few weeks ago, and had a dinner party with friends this past weekend to celebrate. Thanks to the total awesomeness of my friends, it was an incredibly fun evening. The food didn't turn out too shabby either. A few highlights below...

Blueberry Goodness

I've been on a blueberry kick lately, pretty much ever since they were on sale at a too-good-to-pass-up price and I was reminded how awesome they are. While I enjoy just eating them on their own, my favorite thing to do with them is to make Blueberry Clafouti. The first recipe I tried was the one here, and it never gave me any reason to move on to experimenting with any other... I like to rewarm them to have with my morning coffee, or to serve with a soup of vanilla frozen yogurt as dessert. Simple, quick, and totally delicious.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Playing with a New Toy: Applewood-Smoked Scallops with Spring "Succotash" and Bacon Beurre Blanc

After months on my mental wish list, a cool new toy arrived at my door for my birthday: The Smoking Gun. I knew I wanted to play with smoking a scallop first... and thought about pairing bacon with the smokiness... and also using gorgeous spring favas and asparagus... This is what I came up with:
The Bacon Beurre Blanc broke under the heat of the smoke (I'll be tweaking that component today... update to follow), but the flavors of this dish were amazing. It was almost as though I am a genius...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cookbook Adventures: Ricotta-Stuffed Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

So, here's the thing: I've had this cookbook for years, but on the back flap is a photo of the author. Every time I see that photo, I think to myself "Um... I don't think this is going to turn out well..."In spite of this (understandable, yeah?) trepidation, I tried his Caesar Salad recipe a few weeks back with Mindy and it rocked, so I decided to forge ahead and try another recipe that sounded great to me: Ricotta-Stuffed Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.
It's a bit on the rustic-looking side, but it's so delicious that I don't really care. I'll admit to not following his recipe 100% (I mean... look at him! Plus, I have a sous vide obsession...), but this dish was fantastic and I will definitely make it many many many more times.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Compressed Melon and a Gorgeous Summer Salad

When I was ordering groceries last week, sale prices dictated that I had no choice but to order a watermelon. While this fruit is delicious and refreshing on its own, it also presented a fun opportunity to play with compressing fruit using my new favorite toy...The watermelon on the left is freshly cut, while that on the right has been compressed. Nothing added but pressure. Pretty cool, yeah? Which would you rather put on your fresh, beautiful summer salad?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cryo-Blanching to Improve a Classic

If you know me at all, you have probably noticed that I have an obsession with fava beans. I can't explain it. I just love them beyond all reason. I eagerly anticipate the approach of fava bean season every year, buy a big pile of them almost every weekend when they are in season, and then mourn for a while when the season cruelly and inevitably ends...

FYI: Prosciutto Powder is Awesome

I was screwing around in the kitchen last weekend, trying to think of more fun things to do with scallops... and fava beans. I wanted to incorporate a ham-y flavor, and I had been reading a few posts of people making the ham powder from the Alinea cookbook... but I didn't have any ham. I did, however, have some prosciutto in the freezer, so I decided to see if I could make it work. Turns out it does work... And it's awesome.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Good Use for Extra Strawberries

I found myself with a bit of a dilemma this week: I have a policy that if I buy produce and it goes bad before I eat it, I put myself on produce-buying probation (with respect to that item) for several months. (I'm pretty much not allowed to buy peaches or grapefruit ever again unless I have an immediate use planned.) Strawberries had been on sale half-price during my last grocery order, and have been so delicious lately that I ordered more than I could possibly consume. I enjoyed them on their own at breakfast and sliced up on top of Crescent Ridge vanilla frozen yogurt for dessert... and then forgot about them in the fridge until it was almost too late and I feared that I was going to end up on strawberry-buying probation. Luckily, smittenkitchen posted a recipe for Strawberry Summer Cake just as I sat down to figure out what to do with the last of my strawberries.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Some Fun (and Yumminess) in the Kitchen...

Things are non-ideal in La Casa de Emmo lately, but awesome friends and yummy food are always a great distraction from pain and other badness. My friends Mindy and Joe came by last weekend for dinner and playing-with-chemicals and were the perfect mood-lifter.Link

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Everyday Yumminess: Mini Shrimp Cheesecakes

Alright. Let's go ahead and get the shameful part of this out of the way at the start: This is an Emeril Lagasse recipe. For me, he eventually came to represent everything that went horribly wrong with The Food Network... but back in his Essence of Emeril days (before "BAM!") he wasn't so bad. And the fact that this Shrimp Cheesecake is absurdly delicious has forced me to come to terms with the fact that even obnoxious TV chefs can still write some kick-ass recipes. Without further ado, let's talk about Shrimp Cheesecake.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Everyday Yumminess: Soft Polenta Integrale with Wild Mushroom Ragout

I remember the first time I read through the Momofuku cookbook that David Chang says there's basically no point making polenta if you're not going to get your polenta from Anson Mills. In the next few weeks, I read several other chefs and authors saying the exact same thing, so I knew I'd better give it a try. The other day I was poking around their recipe pages and saw something that I really wanted to eat right now. Thus, it was on.The finished dish may not have been much to look at, but I already can't wait to make it again...

Cookbook Adventures: Marrow Beans with Merguez, Pistachios, and Honey

When I got my heirloom bean cookbook, the first recipe that jumped out at me was Marrow Beans with Merguez, Pistachios, and Honey. I had some homemade Merguez in the freezer and all of the ingredients sounded like my kind of thing...... but in the end (and this is something I almost never say) there seemed to be too much going on. I thought my homemade Merguez tasted fantastic, but everything else seemed to detract from it...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cookbook "Adventures": Salmon and Wasabi Ravioli with Kaffir Lime Cream

I have to be honest that this isn't much of an "adventure," since I've been making this recipe for almost a decade... but it is from a book by an author who was one of my very favorites when I first started cooking: Donna Hay. As soon as I read this recipe title, my reaction was "Well, obviously I'm going to have to make that..."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Everyday Yumminess: Perfect Ricotta

So, I am about to blow your mind by telling you how to make the world's easiest, most delicious fresh ricotta... while spending a total of about 5 minutes in the kitchen. Best. Recipe. Ever.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Everyday Yumminess: Grilled Chicken with Lemon Fregula

I'm on a mission to start using the cool ingredients in my pantry rather than just looking at them. This weekend the pantry item I decided to play with was fregula, a toasted Sardinian pasta. Turns out it's absolutely delicious...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Chemistry Adventures: Arugula Noodles

This was a quick and easy little chemistry adventure that ended up being pretty awesome. I saw the recipe over at one of my favorite places to get molecular gastronomy guidance, and instantly knew I had to give it a go.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chemistry & Cookbook Adventures: Shrimp Mosaic with Avocado-Melon Salsa

As I've mentioned, I'm playing with meat glue these days, but I can't really explain why I made this dish. I had some shrimp. I had some meat glue. I read a recipe in Ideas in Food where you glue a bunch of shrimp together. Seemed like the universe really wanted me to try it. Who am I to blow against the wind?

Chemistry Adventures: Bacon-Wrapped Scallops with Celery Root Cream

This isn't much of a post, I suppose. I made an awesome celery root cream the other day while learning how to perfectly cook scallops. I also made my first-ever home-cured bacon, using meat glue for the first time in the process. The only natural next step was to glue some bacon to some scallops, cook to perfection, then serve with that sauce...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Cookbook & Chemistry Adventures: Homemade Fresh Bacon

I ordered some transglutaminase (aka Meat Glue) a few weeks back, and started to play with it recently. My first experiment with meat glue was the most boring thing you can imagine: gluing two pieces of meat together to make one (bigger) piece of meat. Nonetheless, it was kind of awesome, and prompted me to make my first ever batch of home-cured bacon.

Mmmm... Scallops...

I have long maintained that scallops are my favorite "luxury" food item. (Lobster runs a close second, but it's so affordable and easy to find around here that I am spoiled enough to not really think of it as a "luxury" item anymore... Yay, New England!) I grew up on frozen scallops from Costco and thought I loved scallops then. My first fresh diver scallop (from the mussels lady at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market, sold fresh in the shell) made me realize what a fool I'd been. Since that day, I've been obsessed with high-quality dry-packed diver scallops... and I finally found a great way to always have them on hand and the perfect way to cook them.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chemistry Adventures: Make-Ahead Eggs Benedict

As I've probably mentioned countless times before, a well-made Eggs Benedict is one of my favorite meals... Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner... Any time of day is a good time for Eggs Benedict. The drawback of making this dish is all of the work that has to be done last-minute. The eggs must be perfectly poached. The hollandaise must be made and carefully kept warm (without breaking the sauce and ruining everything...). It's a hassle, and usually leaves the kitchen a mess from all of the last-minute chaos. I thought this was a necessary evil, until I was flipping through one of my new favorite cookbooks and discovered that there is, in fact, a better way...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Everyday Yumminess: Lemon Pudding Cake

I bought this bag of lemons at Costco a while back, and then a change in menu plans left me with 5 pounds of lemons in the fridge and no plans to use them. Luckily, lemons make me think of one of my all-time favorite (and healthy, too!) desserts: Lemon Pudding Cake.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Everyday Yumminess: Perfect Reubens

I'm mentioned before that the Reuben (particularly the bastardized Emily-Style Reuben) is one of my very favorite sandwiches on the planet. A big sticking point for me with the traditional Reuben was the rye bread, since I find the presence of caraway seeds in my food to be somewhat traumatizing. When Stanley was here I ordered a Reuben at the sports bar, opting to let them go ahead and make it on rye bread so as not to seem overly-high-maintenance (and because my friend Max had told me I was crazy to never give rye bread a chance)... and it was the best Reuben I've ever had. The rye bread didn't have any evil caraway seeds, and the combination of flavors was perfection. I knew then that I would have to make my own proper Reuben someday... and that day came this weekend.

Cookbook Adventures: Corned Beef Brisket

My plan this weekend was a (mostly) from-scratch Reuben. (Next time I will make my own sauerkraut, too...) The key ingredient here (other than the rye bread) was the corned beef. I had picked up a nice hunk of brisket at Blood Farm when I was out there with Stanley getting ingredients for the world's greatest hamburgers, so all that was left was to find the perfect recipe.

Cookbook Adventures: Fresh-Baked Rye Bread

A key component in my plan to make Reubens this weekend was a nice fresh loaf of rye bread without any (evil) caraway seeds in it... I realized a few months ago that rye bread isn't my enemy, only caraway seeds are. Turns out rye bread can be absolutely delicious... Who knew?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Everyday Yumminess: Chorizo con Huevos

I've been re-organizing my chest freezer lately, trying to make sure that I actually use everything that's in there at some point. To this end, I set my sights on the homemade Mexican Chorizo that I'd vacuum-sealed and frozen a while back... (I have lots of ideas for Spanish Chorizo, but was having trouble getting creative with the Mexican version...) I'm going to go ahead and say that this is one of the best pulled-together-from-stuff-in-the-freezer-and-pantry meals I've ever made for myself...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Year-End List: My Eleven Favorite Things I Cooked in 2010

It's that time of year when list-making seems like the thing to do, so I figured I'd join the fun. This was my first year doing the ol' Cookbook Adventure thing, and I've been really pleased with the number of totally awesome recipes I discovered in my cookbook collection. Some were extraordinarily time-consuming, others were more straightforward. Some were gorgeous on the plate, others were relatively rustic. Below are my Top Eleven, all of which made me smile and long to be eating them again when I looked back at the posts. (I'm going to defy convention and start with my very favorite, rather than building suspense by counting down from 11...)

1. Peas and Carrots (Thomas Keller, The French Laundry Cookbook)
Thomas Keller's "Peas and Carrots" was an easy pick for this Best of 2010 list since it's absolutely my favorite thing I've ever cooked in my life. I still get a little weak in the knees remembering that ginger-carrot emulsion. There are no words for the awesomeness of this dish. It was perfection.

2. Pork Columbo with Roti (Norman Van Aken, New World Kitchen)
Were it not for the brilliance of Peas and Carrots, this dish could easily have been on top of my list. It's one of the more rustic-looking dishes on the list, but that's really the perfect presentation for comfort food like this. As I mentioned in the original post, I had no idea what to expect from this dish before I made it, but after one bite I knew it was exactly what I'd been craving my entire life... I'm going to have to make another batch of this one very very soon.

3. Perfect Carnitas (Modified from Bruce Aidell, Complete Book of Pork)
Amazing carnitas are the main thing I missed when I moved away from access to high-quality trashy Mexican food. After I made this version at home, I knew I could happily live in New England forever despite the absence of restaurants serving one of my favorite foods. The perfect refried beans and Mexican rice from Diana Kennedy's The Essential Cuisines of Mexico and homemade corn tortillas, pico de gallo, and guac turned these carnitas into a perfect Carnitas Plate. So very good... It ain't fancy, but it's what I love.

4. Ridiculously Awesome Lobster Burgers (Michel Richard, Happy in the Kitchen)
I love lobster, as do all good-hearted people, and this was a really cool way to eat it. I love the playfulness of Michel Richard's recipes, and every component of this dish was a bit of a revelation. Love.

5. Amazing Gyros (Michael Psilakis, How to Roast a Lamb)
This is probably the ugliest dish on this list, but is also one of the tastiest. I am a huge fan of gyros but had never tried to make them at home until I found the recipe in Michael Psilakis's awesome book. Every component was good, but the combination was mind-blowingly delicious. Well worth the effort.

6. Brazilian Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Rojo and Cebollas Fritas (Norman Van Aken, New World Kitchen)
From one of the ugliest to one of the prettiest. This dish was super-easy and super-awesome. The flavor profiles were gorgeous together, and it ended up looking fairly impressive on the plate, too. Topping the steak with fried onions topped with melted Manchego was a genius move. Awesome.

7. Sautéed Atlantic Salmon with Leeks and Beurre Blanc (Thomas Keller, Bouchon)
This is a dish that I thought was too unimpressive to serve to guests... until I made it as a "low-key" dinner for my mom when she came to visit. Turns out that the herbed Beurre Blanc will rock your world, and those damn melted leeks (which Keller insists you make by discarding 3/4 of every leek) are the prefect complement. As always, Mr. Keller knows what he's talking about.

8. Momofuku Pork Buns (David Chang, Momofuku)
These were a favorite for me not only because they were so delicious but because they turned out just like I'd hoped. I was quite proud of myself for making the perfect little steamed bread pockets and the perfectly cooked pork belly. Yay!

9. English Muffins with Bay Leaf Butter (David Chang, Momofuku)
This is another one that is a favorite in part because I was feeling so impressed with myself by the time I finished making these. Sure, they were the best English muffins I've every had... and, sure, the Bay Leaf Butter was insane... but they were also really fun to make. As my kitchen filled with the amazing smell of (Amish) butter while the muffins cooked on a griddle, I knew these were a great idea...

10. Perfect Burgers (Thomas Keller, Ad Hoc at Home)
A perfect burger is a beautiful thing, and I've never tasted one more perfect than the burger that results from Thomas Keller's recipe. With a freshly ground patty made from a combination of brisket, sirloin, and chuck, this thing taught me how moist and flavorful a burger could truly be. I will never make burgers another way again.

11. 48-Hour Short Ribs (David Chang, Momofuku)
This was the recipe that convinced me once and for all of the brilliance of sous vide cooking. These short ribs are cooked for 48 hours until perfectly tender, but at a low enough temperature that the flesh remains medium-rare throughout. Brilliant.

So, that's the list. Thomas Keller and David Chang led the pack with 3 recipes each, and Norman Van Aken was a surprise, coming in next with 2 recipes. (I only made two recipes from New World Kitchen this year, but both were on this list because they were that good...) Can't wait to see what comes out of my kitchen (and my cookbooks) in the new year...