Grateful for the warm weather. Grateful for the friends and family. Having a grateful kinda day.
Grateful for the warm weather. Grateful for the friends and family. Having a grateful kinda day.
That said – France not to be outdone – showed me two new favorites that I had no idea exsited. Starting with #2 favorite: the Suisse. I had many after the one in the photo [Paris], but this one was the best. Kinda creamy [custard?], chocolate chipy, and croissanty. I’m a fan. If anyone knows how to score one in my province, please advise.
I owe a debt to both of these items and the people who made them. Perhaps I need to go on a gelato quest to restore my faith in that department.
153. Yeah. Crazy.
I’m used to paying $7 or so for two beans. So these 153 beans would normally have a cost of about $535 in my world. Not only that, they’re nicer than those in the little test tube thingers at the supergrocers. I bought mine here, upon a food blogger recommendation. Seemed a little too good to be true, to be honest.
And what will I do with so many vanilla beans, you ask? At that price…whatever the heck I feel like. Car air freshener anyone?
First, let me say that this is ridiculously easy to make – and it will be made again in my kitchen. I was stunned by the purity of the lemon flavor profile. The balance seems good on the palate, although I’m pretty sure the cold is covering up for an overabundance of sweetness. It’s hard to eat much more than what you see in the photo, it’s so sweet. I’ll likely scale back the sugar next time to tone that aspect down. And now that I know how easy it is, I’m likely going to be trying sorbets with other fruit juices soon.
1 part lemon juice [I used 6]
1 part sugar [next time less]
1 part water
1 tbsp or so of lemon zest per batch
Heat the water. Dissolve the sugar in the hot water. Cool. When cool, add lemon juice and zest. Introduce it to your handy ice-cream machine until the texture looks good.
I can’t believe how beloved this dish seems to be to dinner guests around here, and how few actually make it. And by few, I believe zero would be fair. So either I’ve unintentionally deceived them into thinking it’s ridiculously difficult to make – or they’re lying to me about how much they really like it.
I own the CIA’s Professional Chef, and I use their recipe. When I first set eyes on the recipe, I thought ‘wow, if I could make this, I’d be AWESOME’. Awesomeness achieved. Sweet.
I’ve since made it countless times, trying vanilla bean, vanilla extracts of varying qualities, combinations of bean and extracts, and maple syrup variations. I’m also a serious enough geek to have done some math, and know that it costs about $3.50 to make the whole batch, and it contains about 1400 calories. At 4 portions, that’s $0.89 and 358 cal per portion. Like I said. I’m a geek.
You will not find this ingredient list or method in the CIA book. The ratios are the same, but reduced, and the method is what I’ve found works for me.
fills 3 Emile Henry dishes in photo above quite full, will make 4 portions
300 ml heavy cream
1/8-1/4 vanilla bean
57 g plain old sugar
71 g egg yolk, beaten [roughly 3] [use a big bowl here]
Preheat oven to 325.
De-seed vanilla bean and toss the guts into the cream. The pod generally goes in my vanilla sugar.
Add half the sugar, and heat over medium to just barely a simmer. It’ll take a while.
While the cream is heating, whisk the other half of the sugar into the egg yolks. For quite a while. Keep going. You want them really thick and foamy and lightened in color. Get a couple dish towels/wash cloths to cup the base of the bowl, which will help with the next step.
Once the cream is ready, remove from heat, and very slowly, drop by drop whisk it into the egg mixture. Increase your drops in size to a light pour as you go. When you hit half-way, a dump is acceptable. Scrape out all the vanilla seeds with a spatula. They sink.
Pour into ramekins set in a bain marie, and bake for roughly 45 minutes. I hit my oven handle with the side of my fist, and gauge doneness by the jiggle of the custard. Such are the advantages of experience.
Remove, cool. I make them a day ahead. Add sugar [too much, then dump off excess works for me]. Add fire. Eat.
I’m back, recuperating from my holiday, and getting pounded by a million and one demands at work. Fall always seems to be busy at work, with gardening harvest, and with hunting and game butchering. And I’m packing up and getting ready to leave again.
I’m heading up north to go moose and elk hunting tomorrow morning, so more blog absence is imminent. The guys have been up north hunting for a while now, and the elk are plentiful. My 83-year-old grandfather got an elk last week! Well done grandpa! But the coveted moose calves are apparently far more scarce. So this won’t be as easy as it was last year.
My next post: summary of my 2007 calf moose hunt.
I realized during this project that my love for pears really lies in Bartlett pears. There are many other fine kinds, but when I smell these, it brings me back to cleaning cases of them for my mom’s preserves and pies when I was a kid. And when a food brings back fond childhood memories, it’s gonna be tough to beat.
As with most days, my kitchen endeavors are not limited to one item. Earlier in the day, I purchased a 10lb shank piece of pig leg for just under $10. Awesome. I removed the skin, deboned it, separated the muscles from each other, trimmed it, and cut into rough 2-3″ dice. While mucking about, I noticed there is a huge difference in the leg muscles’ fat content in pork. The center shot shows my hand touching some very lean reddish meat. And to the right, some seriously marbled pieces that remind me of some photos of Kobe I’ve seen recently. The vintage 70′s Creuset has the bone and the b-grade cuts [read: lean] ready for Texas style bbq. The Emile Henry pot in the foreground containing the lovely fatty pieces turned into a Vietnamese kho. Oven at 250F for a few hours, and it makes me wonder why I don’t just forget everything else and just live off slow cooked pork. Really.
Poulet a la Creme
Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Les Halles Cookbook’ had recommended reading that led me to page 64 of Jaques Pepin’s ‘The Apprentice: my life in the kitchen’, and I am eternally indebted. This dish quickly became an all-time favorite in our home, even clinching top spot as my wife’s choice for her birthday dinner. Today we sourced the chicken fresh from Sunworks Farms – our favorite local family farm. ‘Non believers’ can poo-poo high quality, and therefore relatively expensive, ingredients all they want – some of us can tell the difference. And this kind of meal is a good place to pull out a stop or two and buy ‘the good stuff’. This chicken just smells exceptional. The ‘thyme rice’ that accompanies this dish has become a staple pairing with game tenderloin cuts in the fall. I miss this dish dearly. It somehow seems to be elegant, rustic, simple, complex, and luxurious – all at the same time.
The recipe I use and adapt to my whims is from the Culinary Institute of America’s ‘Professional Chef’ tome. It’s been a standard in my kitchen for a few years now [both the book and this recipe] – and crème brulée pleases both gourmets and fussy eaters – just tell them it’s pudding.
But there’s a very important reason I’m making it tonight. My good friend Yen knocked on my back door last night carrying a ziploc bag with 6 Madagascar vanilla beans he’d acquired from a generous chef in a city 3 hours away [long story]. The beans, which you can smell even with the bag sealed tight, are plumper than any I’ve seen. The texture reminds me of a raisin, and they have a earthy smell to them that took me aback. I’ve worked with a lot of vanilla beans – but nothing that approached these in quality. To not use them respectfully right this moment would be blasphemous. As you can tell, the photo was an afterthought. Eating it was the priority.
I used to bake all my own bread. Then we had a baby. And when you’re getting punished with a serious case of colic, paying $2-3 for a loaf seems like a really good idea. But I’m back at it. And it feels good. My basic bread recipe actually originated from learning to bake a decent baguette. And holy-good-god was it good tonight. Maybe I was just hungry.
Wine pairing: Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc 2006
Fragrant, bright, and pleasant – it’s ‘pear meets yellow grapefruit’ on the nose with a little grass. The palate shows more grass, and the grapefruit shows up behind it. The initial mouthfeel is not as grippy as I like, but the mid-palate is good, and it has a nice long finish. It’s pretty straight-ahead, very good white, and right up my alley. 87-88
No recipes today. Both courses deserve it, and I will resolve to post them in the coming weeks. But not now. I have a brandy to enjoy.
Tonight’s dinner was an ‘antipasti-pasta’. See, we stock up at the local Italian market on Friday mornings – immediately following an espresso and fresh pastry [we show up when they open, and the pastries are melty, but that's another story]. So it being Thursday, we had odds and ends that needed to be used up so that we could feel justified in buying more tomorrow! So in went roasted Sheppard peppers, genoa salami, spicy green olives, basil and chives from the garden, topped with some good tuscan olive oil. I think I’ll be looking forward to another antipasti pasta next week. It’s dang tasty, and would always be a bit different depending on what tickled our fancy at the deli counter.That same wonderful Italian market carries fantastic semi-local seasonal produce in big boxes at low prices. Last week, I picked up some peaches, and poached them whole. My wife’s a raw-fruit fan. I’m a cooked-fruit guy, no contest. A few days ago, I had some, and topped it with sweet clover honey. Holy crap is it good. Better than good. If it was a wine, I’d give it a 92+. Tonight, I upped the ante a little and took my brulée torch to the top for a bit of crunch. This is one simple-assed dish that I’d be proud to serve at a posh multi-course event. The flavor really delivers.
Last item of the day. I got an email from an uncle this afternoon, putting me on call. Apparently the Canada Geese are feeding heavily on the section of land my dad lives on again this year. My uncle is a hardcore goose hunter. And I mean hardcore. He lives for this stuff. So in the coming week or so, I’ll be up far before the sun to go hunt some geese. I’ll post more about this when the time comes.