Friday, December 3, 2010

Potato Gnocchi/Gnudi

Is the perfect potato gnocchi actually more rightly called a potato gnudi? I'm not sure, but this potato dumpling recipe is almost all fluffy, unadulterated, potato flesh.
Steamed potatoes
Russet potatoes
AP flour
Fine grain salt
Food-milled potatoes
Cut the potatoes in half and steam them until soft. Pass them through the finest setting on a food mill onto a tray, sprinkle with salt and let cool.  Form into small balls and roll in the flour.
Cover with more flour and let sit for 2 hours in the fridge. Blanch for 5 seconds in boiling water, let cool on a tray, redust/cover with flour. Chill again for 2 more hours. At this point they are ready to be reheated and eaten.

I tried some different potato doughs...

... and some different coatings.

After blanching; adding back to coat again in flour.

Plate it up!
Potato gnocchi and olive braised lamb with picked yellow squash


Monday, November 15, 2010

Ricotta Gnudi

When talking about food, words from many different languages are often used. This can cause quite a lot of confusion, especially when the speaker doesn't understand the language that they using to reference a food item (What is this? I wanted the Tiramisu!). What it really comes down to is a need to define terms. However, because I didn't grow up using certain words, like gnocchi, I only understand them from a limited point of view. Therefore, right or wrong and for the purpose of this recipe, I understand "gnudi" to refer to a naked ravioli(filled pasta, pierogi, jiaozi, maultasche?), that is to say, lacking a pasta outside.
Drained ricotta
Now that definitions are out of the way, I will now provide some further ideology behind this recipe. The nakedness of the filling makes it difficult to cook and shape. If the filling is not stable enough it will fall apart when moved and during the cooking process. On the other hand, making the filling too durable turns the delicate gnudi into something hard and undesirable. Adding something like egg will thin the initial filling, but thicken it when cooked. Adding something like flour will thicken it initially, and further thicken when heated. I wanted my naked filling to be as delicate as possible. I came to the conclusion that the best way to maintain a moist and supple texture, while still achieving mobility, was to have a very thin protective layer on the outside. Basically, it is the thinnest, tightest fitting ravioli you can make; a dough forms directly around the filling.
Piped filling before drying
250g drained ricotta
25g egg yolk
2g salt
12g grated Parmesan
8g ap flour
8g lard
40g swiss chard, stems removed
1qt ap flour
2qt water
Balls buried in flour
Get a large, dry pan hot over high heat, but not so hot that when you add the lard it burns immediately(still pretty hot). Add the lard, let it melt for 2 seconds, tilt the pan to coat, and then throw in the chard. Stir over high heat for 1-2 minute until the chard is completely wilted and it is starting to look dry. Remove from the pan and let cool on a cutting board. Chop the chard very fine.  Add the chopped chard to the eggs, salt, parm, and flour and whisk briefly. Pass the ricotta through a fine tammis and stir it into chard mixture.  Place the ricotta mixture into a piping bag and pipe into piles(I tried to make them the height of a quarter, see below) on a flour dusted silicon mat or piece of parchment paper.  Let sit, uncovered, in the fridge for 6 hours. Remove from the fridge and gentely shape the slightly dried out ricotta into balls. Place them into the bottom of a roughly 1 foot by 1 foot baking pan coated with .5cm of the ap flour. Once all of the balls are sitting in flour, cover them with the remaining flour and return to the fridge for 2 hours(as seen above). Bring the 2 quarts of water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and add the balls in small batches. Cook for about 5 seconds(just enough time to gelatinize the flour starch and let cool on a plate. Return them to the baking pan lined with flour as before and cover again with flour. Let rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Bring the water to a boil again and blanch a second time until the middle is warm.

The picture below shows the nudi in a very delicate state, the only reason they are able to hold together is because the middle is still cold.
After the first(5 second) blanch in water, before re-flouring
Ricotta and swish chard gnudi with celery root puree, okra-tomato sauce, brown butter mushrooms, and kumquat zest
The middle of these is very soft. However, if you blend everything together(and omit the flour) until very smooth the end result is a burst of cheesy, milky liquid in your mouth, but shaping them is a nightmare. This recipe is a good balance of stability and suppleness.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hot Sauce

Non-usable pepper part
I picked out the hottest peppers I could find; a mix of habanero and scotch bonnet. About 2/3 were red varieties and 1/3 yellow or orange.
800g hot peppers
60g sugar
50g garlic
50g apple cider vinegar
8g salt

Pepper flesh
De-seed and de-vein the peppers so that you have a pile of just their flesh. Blend this with the sugar, garlic, vinegar, and salt.

This recipe relies on removing all of the parts of the pepper which contain capsaicin but no flavor. They make the sauce hotter and dilute the flavor. I think about it like this, using just the flesh means a higher ratio of flavor molecules to capsaicin molecules.


Plate that hot sauce!
Fried stuff (fritto misto) with firecracker sauce (mayo+hot sauce)


Friday, October 22, 2010

Milk Punch

This was brought about by my roommate Shiraz Noor, with inspirations from Cameron Bogue(2009) and Jerry Thomas(1862).  The recipe is a large scale, yielding 24 quarts.

Smash-up the following:
5g Cloves
10g Green Cardamom Pods
20g Fennel Seeds
15g Coriander Seeds
20g Black Peppercorns
10g Cinnamon
25g Vanilla Bean
50g Peeled Ginger
Add all of the above to 3 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Cover, cook for 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add:
50g Darjeeling Tea Leaves
100g Lemon Zest
2500g Sugar
Allow to rest overnight and strain. Leave all of the aromatics in the strainer and pour the following on top:
3750mL Smith and Cross Rum
2250mL Batavia Arrack
2000mL J&B Blended Scotch
2Q Lemon Juice (Fresh)
3Q Pineapple Juice (Fresh, unless it sucks[canned Dole is consistently ok])
Allow all to come to ambient temperature.  Bring 7 quarts of whole milk to a boil.
Add .5quarts fresh lemon juice. Add to the strained liquid, stir and strain through a fine mesh strainer(we use a super bag, see below). Add the first strained liquid back to the strainer, being sure to leave the collected milk solids in the strainer. Cool and serve over cracked ice.

The recipe is open to alteration, but the foundation is the milk. It alters the texture of the drink in two ways, by adding body and removing particles. The milk separates, leaving the whey to affect its body and the coagulated solids to strain the drink, making it completely smooth.

The strainer we use is a 250 micron bag, also known as a super bag. It works well, other strainers are not recommended.

Clear, cold, spicy, tart, sweet, boozy, milk.
Milk Punch


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Corn and Smoked Shallot Soup

This soup is vegan and smoky, most people will probably think there is bacon in it.
1250g corn juice (about 2qt worth of raw kernels)
120g smoked shallot
Smoked Shallots
60g olive oil
15g sugar
10g salt
8g lemon juice
5g ume vinegar
10g apple cider vinegar
Cook the shallots in a large pot in the olive oil until they are soft. Add the sugar, salt and corn juice over high heat, and bring to 180F, stirring with a spatula the whole time(corn juice scorches very easily). Take off the heat, add the vinegars and lemon juice, and blend until very smooth. Pass through a fine sieve.
Corn Juice!
 Plate it up!
Corn and smoked shallot soup with zucchini and chervil
This soup is great warm, but even better served cold. Vegan soups can be tasty too.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Blue Crab Sauce

I saw a basket full of blue crabs labeled 12 for 3$. They were not huge, but that much flavorful seafood at that price was irresistible. Here is the sauce I made out of them.
12 small blue crabs
1000g water + 300g
360g carrot, sliced
160g shallot, sliced
160g fennel, sliced
160g celery, sliced
28g garlic, sliced
8g hot sauce
160g dolin dry
90g olive oil + 40g
210g canned whole tomatoes
50g of their juice
250g Ceres brand peach
300g coconut milk
12g salt
Bring the water and salt to a boil in a large pot. Place the crabs into the boiling salted water, in batches, turning them, until they are cooked through. Reserve the water. Take off the front claws and remove the meat, keeping it as whole as possible and saving both the meat and the shells(you do not need any of the meat for the sauce, all meat should be save for something else). Take off the reproductive organ cover and then pry off the top shell(carapace) from the abdomen. Separately reserve any liquid or soft bits that are in the carapace. After cleaning out the carapace place it with the reserved claw shells. Brake off any smaller legs and place them with the rest of the shells. The section of the body that is left, contains all of the jumbo lump meat. Rest the remaining body abdomen side up and place a knife in the middle dividing the two sets of meat. Slip the knife under the meat, but not through the other side and then unfold to reveal the lump. Do this again to the other side(check out the pictures below for a better idea). You should have a pile of meat, a pile of shells, and a pile of soft middles(non-meat and non-shell). Add 90g of olive oil to a pan and bring it just to the smoking point and then add the carrots, shallots, fennel, garlic, hot sauce, and celery. Cook until everything starts to get soft over high heat, then add the vermouth.  Cook until the alcohol is almost gone and then add the tomatoes, their juice, and the peach juice. Cook this until it looks moist but there is very little residual liquid in the pan. Get a separate pot as hot as you can and then add the 40g of olive oil, follow immediately by the shells. Cook this for 2 minutes over high heat and then add the coconut milk. Cook for 2 more minutes and then add the reserved cooking water. Cook this down for 10 minutes and then strain through a fine mesh strainer. Add everything that doesn't go through the strainer back into the pan and add the 300g of water. Stir the pot well, then strain the shells again, into the stuff you already strained. Add all of this to the cooked aromatics, along with the soft middles. Bring everything to a boil and blend. Finish by passing again.
The lump meat, the bottom is before, the top is after
Plate it up!
Blue crab pasta with parsley, lemon, and chili

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Baking Soda In Green Purées

I was pretty sure the lower the pH a green vegetable was subjected to, the faster it would discolor. I read this study just to be sure, and then I tested the results using beet greens.
300g beet greens, chopped
10g olive oil
optional: salt and baking soda
Get a large pot as hot as you can without anything in it. Add the oil and immediately follow with the greens. Stir until they are completely wilted(10 seconds or so). Put everything into a blender(add the salt and baking soda if you are adding them), blend until smooth, and pour into a metal container sitting on top of an ice bath.

I did three different trails:
One with 3g of salt and 1g of baking soda, one with 3g of salt and a very small pinch of baking soda, and one without any salt or baking soda.
From left to right, a lot of soda and salt, a little soda and salt, nothing added.
The soda not only effected the color, but also the texture. You can see how tight and smooth the far left purée is compared to the others, the thinnest being the far right(it wouldn't even hold the drag I did).

A gram of soda made the purée unservable, as it tasted like baking soda.  A little bit of soda seemed to help a little, but assuming you chop your beets fine enough and blend for long enough, you can get an identical purée without any salt or baking soda.

Plate it up!

Spicy soy poached swordfish with warm radishes, beet green purée and pickled beets
This picture used the purée with a pinch of baking soda.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Warm Heirloom Shelling Bean Salad

The beans in this recipe are taken from this previous entry.
800g cooked shelling beans +100g beans
200g cooking liquid
80g olive oil
335g corn kernels
100g small diced bacon
75 ramp pickling liquid
50g bragg apple cider vinegar
40g scallion sliced into thin rounds
a good amount of fresh ground black pepper
Cook the bacon over medium heat in a medium size pot with a quarter of the olive oil until it is lightly browned but not crispy. Add the scallion and corn and cook until everything is heated through. Mash the 100g of beans with a fork to make a paste and add this to the pot. Add the rest of the ingredients over high heat and stir until the beans are heated through.

Plate it up!
Coconut oil seared quail over warm bean salad with lardo and sunflower sprouts

I didn't find that this salad needed any additional salt.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Cooking Fresh Beans - When to Salt?

I don't know where it started, but some people (you know the ones) say you shouldn't add salt when cooking beans. Now, I'm fairly sure these people are talking about dried beans, but I wanted to try this out with some fresh beans, because they are all over the market right now. I can always try dry beans later.  I got six different types, Perignon, Coco, Calypso, Pink Butter, Cannellini, and Flageolet. I tried them with and without salt, what follows is how to cook them with salt.
Salt and water brine, at a 3.2% salt concentration
Shelling Beans
Garlic Cloves
Thyme Sprigs
Black Peppercorns
Place the shelled shelling beans into a bag and cover them with the brine, they shouldn't be swimming in a lot of extra liquid. Add a few whole garlic cloves (I did not bruise or smash them, only peeled), sprigs of thyme, and black peppercorns depending on how much you like those things and how many beans you have. Seal the bag, making sure to get all of the air out, and place it in a pot of boiling water. Cover the pot and turn the flame down so it maintains a temperature between 205-210F. Cook, stirring every 20 minutes for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The overcooked, unsalted calypso beans.

Properly cooked/seasoned beans (any mashed bits are from the garlic cloves)

I bagged all of the different types of beans separately, but I cooked them all in the same pot of water at the same time. They were all done, to what I thought was perfection, at the same time, regardless of the variety. The only exception was the unsalted. The unsalted beans were slightly over cooked and tasted watery (even after adding salt after cooking).
I conclude that cooking fresh shelling beans in heavily salted water is good for their flavor and texture. It seasons them on the inside and prevents them from overcooking. Be warned that cooking them in this high of a salt solution will prevent you from using this liquid directly(the beans are awesome on their own, they could even take more salt if you love that sort of thing,). However, the liquid will taste too salty to most people. You could back it down to 2.2% brine, but then the inside of your beans wont be as nicely seasoned. I prefer this method because you still can use all of that glorious bean cooking liquid to season other stuff and the inside of these beans are creamy and seasoned.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

French Fries

This is how I make "triple cooked" chips. This idea has been around for a long time, even though it has gotten more attention recently from the likes of Heston Blumenthal. The details that I found were most important(although each detail is infinitely important if you want it to come out right) were the type and age of the potato, the temperature, size and seasoning of the water cooking step, and the first fry. This picasa page has photos to go along with the following recipe.
Freshly dug, middle of the road amylose to amylopectin potatoes(I've tried superior, katahdin, NY114, and carola with great results, 5 lbs is a good starting point, but you could do more)
10000g water
230g salt
3qt oil
2 cup beef tallow
Peel the potatoes and cut them into large fries, the size of the potato will dictate what size is ideal, but they should be around 2cm by 2cm by the length of the longest side of the potato. Place the fries into cold water. In a very large pot bring the 10000g of water to a boil and add the salt. At a rolling boil, add a small amount of fries(you want to pot to recover a boil quickly) and cook for 13 minutes. They will be very soft, but remove them carefully and let them cool on a tray. Keep boiling the potatoes in batches until all are cooked. Let them further cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Once fully chilled, bring the oil to 310F. Fry, in batches, until the potatoes have developed a dry exterior and just start to turn color, about 8 minutes. Remove the potatoes, place on a tray, and let fully cool to room temperature(you can refrigerate them). Freeze the potatoes completely, in an air tight container if you are planning for long term storage. Once frozen, remove and let thaw in the fridge. Bring the oil, with the addition of the beef tallow, to 375F and fry the thawed potatoes until they are dark brown. Remove from the oil, lightly sprinkle with salt(they are already pretty seasoned) and serve once they have cooled slightly.
Oh dear...
Creamy seasoned middle, crunchy outside

Make 10 pounds at once, or 50, and freeze them all, then amazing fries are a thaw and quick fry away.
Oh, and remember Russet Burbanks have a high proportion of Amylose to Amylopectin(mealy), fingerling potatoes have the opposite(waxy), carolas are in the middle(trip-fries).


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Blistered Tomatoes

I haven't come across many perfectly peeled tomatoes; it's a method problem. The only method I was taught was scoring the skin and then blanching in boiling water. The idea is that you separate the skin from the flesh without cooking the flesh. This works with tomatoes that aren't very ripe. Truly ripe tomatoes are very soft and get destroyed when using the blanching method. Very small tomatoes are the greatest test.
They have much less mass and overheat in water almost instantly. What you really need is more heat. Using a blow torch is a much better technique. This was suggested to me by my roommate Shiraz Noor, and now we spend our night effortlessly peeling even the ripest cherry tomatoes.

Plate it up!
White soy marinated cherry tomatoes with yuzu kosho, scallion, avocado, and pork terrine.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Scallop Scramble

I've made this before with the whole adductor muscle, but I wanted to see if it would work with that little muscle that most people peel off and throw away.
60g scallop meat(the small muscle attached to the large adductor)
60g heavy cream
10g water
2g salt
6 strands saffron
Blend the meat, cream, and salt until smooth. Pass through a fine mesh sieve. Add the water and saffron to a pan and boil it until almost dry. Turn off the heat and add the passed scallop mixture. Stir the pan with a spatula until the saffron is evenly distributed. Turn the heat to low and stir the scallop until it sets gently, like a soft scrambled egg.

This is what it looked like before cooking, after passing.

Plate it up!
Scrambled scallop with olive oil glazed turnips, English peas and cherry tomatoes

I definitely noticed a difference from when I used the whole adductor muscle, as opposed to just the scrapes, but the scrapes still work. They just need a little bit of the whole muscle to give the same texture; definitely not worth throwing away.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Butter Poached Lamb Heart

Ziploc bags work well for everyday low temperature poaching. This recipe uses a bag filled with flavored butter to act as the cooking medium for the heart.
60g butter
20g white wine
10g cream
4 black peppercorns
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
4 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme
10 leaves rosemary
1 baby lamb heart
1 tsp. salt
Cook the wine, thyme, bay, peppercorns, shallot, rosemary, and salt in a pan until almost dry. Add all of the cream and then the butter a little at a time while swirling the pan to invert the emulsion. Place the lamb heart into a ziploc bag. Pour the butter emulsion over the heart, press out all of the air, seal, and submerge in a water bath at 68C for 28 hours.
I made this into a ravioli filling.
Plate it up!
Butter poached lamb heart ravioli with braised lamb flap, turnip greens, and a sauerkraut-lamb sauce
It wasn't the texture of a falling apart braise, but it was tender and meaty.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bread Basket Pt.3 Egg whites in soft doughs

This is a test of two identical soft bun doughs. The only difference between the two is that one has egg whites substituted for the water. The white is around 90% water by weight anyway, so this substitution doesn't require much manipulation of the rest of the recipe.
Bun #1
100g bread flour
18g butter, room temperature
3g salt
3g yeast
40g water, at 40F
18g egg yolk
Bun #2
100g bread flour
18g butter, room temperature
3g salt
3g yeast
42g egg whites
18g egg yolk
Method for both buns:
Mix the salt, yeast, egg, water, and butter together in a bowl. Add the flour all at once and knead until the dough is uniform. Ferment at room temperature for 3 hours, or once the dough doubles in size. Shape into buns and proof for 1 hour. Bake at 400F for 9 minutes, or until lightly brown, egg washing after 3 minutes.
The results were closer in texture than I would have expected. The top bun in this picture has no egg whites.
Even though there wasn't a huge difference, I definitely preferred the bun without the whites. The whites make the crumb chewier, kind of waxy.
Plate it up!
Butter poached lamb flap with cilantro mayo, purslane, pickled daikon, pickled carrot, and chicken liver mousse on a soft, egg yolk only, bun.
There may  be too much fat in these, so much it is preventing the interior from being fluffy. I'll be looking for a lighter, fluffier sandwich bun.