Tuesday, December 7, 2010
The bread pudding was super simple to make. The leeks smelled amazing while they were getting all nice and melty on the stove (though mine did brown a lot and I was wondering if that was supposed to happen?).
I did cut the crusts off the bread (wound up using 1.5 loaves of French country white in lieu of the brioche) and just used the soft innards. After toasting the bread in the oven, beating the eggs and mixing all of the fatty dairy, I composed the pudding. I was a bit concerned that I had too much bread. I know that some should be poking out of the custard, but I wondered if using a non-buttery bread could lead to dryness?
And because of this concern about drying out, I pulled the bread pudding out of the oven about a half hour early. It was so puffy and tall right out of the oven and then it imploded (albeit, rather gently). Wah. Nonetheless, K's dad proclaimed it to be the most beautiful bread pudding he'd ever seen (doubt it, but I'll take it) and our fellow Thanksgiving diners seemed to enjoy it thoroughly and offered up their compliments. Though I do think that the top was slightly dry.
* I could find brioche rolls, no problem, but I was not about to buy a million of them at $3 a piece, or however much they cost at Bristol Farms.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
|1 3/4 cups o' cheese|
I haven’t been able to find loaves of brioche since I’ve moved back to the states from Spain (#WhitePeopleProblems), so I got some challah after a co-worker suggested that would be a good substitute. There was no way I was going to cut the crust off of that; I don’t think it made a difference in the end. (Some salt and olive oil is really good on a toasted slice of brioche, by the way.)
The finished product! This may have been the first time I had bread pudding, and I think it was a good introduction (and was very straightforward to make). The leeks were nice and fragrant while cooking, and a little sweet after being cooked in all that butter. Especially with the nutmeg, I can see how this version could go for dinner or dessert, but it managed to more than hold its own at the table. It was a big hit among everyone there (including people who knew about our cooking project and those that didn’t). I have a good amount of leftovers to nibble on, though I'm regretting not bringing some in for lunch today...
* We’re on a first name basis, obvs.
** pronounced “toke”, named after a town in Alaska, not after one half of a Ke$ha song.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
|there's more than one crouton for every |
|I can't believe I ate the whole thing.|
Thursday, November 18, 2010
The trick about the asparagus, as Veronica mentioned in her post, really is quite fantastic. I always just grab my paring knife and chop off what looks like it might be unpalatable. This bending and snapping thing is a much more reliable (and easy!) method.
The asparagus grilled up nicely (though the lack of hood above our oven always causes the kitchen to get uber-smoky when we break out the grill/griddle) while I looked on in glee as the bread got nice and fried. (We've made croutons before, but just with olive oil...so this was a little disconcerting / delicious).
My poached eggs were tasty, but ghosty. I'm really hoping that I'll get better at it. It's just so gross seeing threads of egg white floating around in a pot of vinegared water.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
The salad was pretty tasty! Crisping the skin to make delicious fatty bits to sprinkle on top was a revelation -- I've never crisped skin myself and always appreciate it at restaurants. It's so easy! As for the rest of the recipe, I don't really have that much to report (um, it's a salad), but it came out nicely. And I opted to top the whole thing with a poached egg (which I overdid a little).
|See the crispy skin bits?|
Anyway, this was kind of a bummer. I don't even LOVE duck, but I'm really into the whole winter pickling, preserving, etc. thing lately and it would have been fun to move on from vegetables to meat. If I do come across duck legs, I'll buy them and confit and report back here.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
It's a truth universally acknowledged (er, by me and most people who know me) that I love lentils. I eat them all the time, sometimes in strange, weird combinations. I could subsist pretty happily for weeks on lentils and cheerios. And don’t pretend like you cringed at that combo. Delicious!
On the other hand, I’m sort of meh about sweet potatoes, except in fry form. I realize people write odes to them, but I’m just not a big potato person in general. Gorgeous color, antioxidants blah blah blah – sure. I could take them or leave them, and was in fact tempted to leave them off this recipe altogether. But I wanted to make the soup as Keller intended, so in went 1 1/2 lbs of potatoes
This recipe is pretty substantial. As I chopped the vegetables, I wondered whether I would have soup to last me all Fall (signs point to yes - behold my giant stockpot):
I’d been forewarned after other Bearded Ladies had trouble with the sweet potato chop. Raku's analogy
sweet potatoes : chopas
the savage detectives : enjoy
made me laugh and laugh because seriously, how much did that book suck? Answer: SO MUCH.
Anyway, this is why I was especially psyched to come across these:
Does this count as semi-homemade?
- Both sachets and parchment lids are pretty inspired ideas! Thomas Keller really knows his stuff. I’ll definitely use both again. Going into this, I didn’t even know to look for cheesecloth in the baking supplies aisle. Here’s Larry modeling my first (practice) parchment lid:
- Bacon is awesome. I actually substituted non-slab bacon, which as it's less thick needed much less time on the stove (it got crispy way before the allotted time)
- I substituted low sodium chicken broth for the chicken stock. This was mostly because I didn’t feel like making stock and because I came across the broth first at the store. It worked well, but I ended up adding extra salt, ha. I also used about a cup more broth than the recipe called for, because I wanted the soup to be more liquidy than stewy.
- Spanish pardina lentils were harder to find and more expensive than my regular green lentils, but were a nice change of pace. They're tinier, don't get mushy at all, and taste kind of nutty. I loved them.
- Cooking the bacon first (so that you can use the rendered fat for the soup base) is necessary but dangerous – it’s the perfect ready snack while the soup simmers endlessly. Even though I slightly overcrisped it, I had to stop myself midsnack multiple times so that there’d be some left for the soup.
This soup and some fresh crusty bread made really satisfying cold-day meal. I will definitely make it again, though (you guessed it) I'll leave out the potatoes next time.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
But, I get ahead of myself. I couldn't find anything other than just regular old green lentils at Bishop's Orchards, the lovely grocery / apple orchard / pumpkin patch not too far from our house (all though we did buy two 24-pound pumpkins at Kamran's insistence), and I'm not sure how much that purchasing the correct lentils would have changed things. I never knew that lentils could be so fancy! But I think that everything turned out nicely despite this pedestrian substitution.
This soup is definitely something that I will make again. We had some guests over for Halloween lunch and it was a big hit! Even the two-year-old seemed to like it. I totally forgot the cilantro, though (even though I bought some). Ah well, next time.
|A hearty fall meal: Lentil & S.Potato soup with some hard cider|
Sunday, October 31, 2010
On Sunday morning I went to the farmer's market. I was immediately attracted to these awkward-looking carrots that looked like hotdogs. They seemed auspicious.
Also at the market, we picked up some mizuna (my green-of-choice these days), onions, sweet potatoes, bread (horrifyingly, $8/boule), and some wine (a Long Island merlot inaptly named Borghese - the taste was closer to the Sopranos than Italian nobility). Then it was on to Esposito's Pork Store for thick-cut bacon and sausage, and finally the supermarket for the rest of the ingredients.
Back home, I was forced to dwell for long minutes on the beauty of bacon. Is there anything more gorgeous?
Thankfully, I was only making one dish this time, so the recipe seemed blissfully straightforward to me. Oh, except for the sweet potatoes. They were an experience. Here is an analogy pair that describes my interaction with them:
sweet potatoes : chop
the savage detectives : enjoy
I think there are few things more satisfying to make than soup. Throwing meat, vegetable, and spice into a pot and mixing them around fulfills some ideal of cooking that I (and probably many others) have from when I was young, triggering a warm, "this is what cooking is" reaction. This particular soup was very Halloween-y with its festive curry spice and orange potatoes. Maybe it would have been even more so if I had lost a finger.
The soup tasted really good, and, as with many soups and stews, the flavor deepened overnight. I would like to cook it again. And I will need to because one lesson I learned is that it is very, very important to wash your lentils before adding them to, well, anything. Shamefully, I did not do this. We ate the first batch without incident, but the next day, there were some crunchy, sandy bites, probably from the bottom of the pot, that were decidedly disconcerting. Rookie move? Maybe. But as long as I don't mess up next time, I think I can probably say: Fool me once, lentil and sweet potato soup, shame on you...
Thursday, October 28, 2010
- Caramelized SeaScallops
- Buttered Farro
- Asparagus Coins
|sachet, walk away|
|asparagus coins mise en place|
Thank you, Veronica, for choosing such a delicious meal! I really enjoyed both the farro and the scallops and was super-relieved that everything turned out more than just ok. The husband pronounced it a major success. (He is really into this whole cookbook club (aka I cook, he eats) thing.
I tried to pay attention to Tomas Keller's edict to "be organized," so I got everything prepped and ready beforehand so I didn't have to scramble hither and thither while I was cooking.
|My mise-en-place, with wine|
I also cheated and made use of an excellent sous chef.
|Arthur really wasn't all that helpful.|
After the farro was toasted and was gently simmering, I got to brining the scallops. Um, brining scallops? Who knew? Delicious! Will definitely do it again. And I loved that the scallop recipe was basically like "do not touch the scallops for 3 to 3.5 minutes." I always want to peek, and things are then never are as caramelized as I would like.
I was worried about the timing of everything, but it worked out perfectly. (And deliciously!) No cold food. Hurrah!
Unlike Raku, I am not ambitious and did not attempt a third dish. Like Raku, I didn't clarify my scallop butter and I reduced the amount of butter added to the farro.
Psst...sorry for the poor quality photos. From my phone. Couldn't find my camera charger.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
First things first: I love sachets. They are pretty, satisfying to construct, and so useful for keeping large bits of herbs out of your mouth. Who knew? I only wish I had discovered them sooner than while making farro today.
Second: Farro = delicious. I admit when I first saw the recipe, I feared the worst, that farro would be like my new STARCH-NEMESIS: QUINOA. But no, it's nothing like that. Not only is it easy to cook with, but it tastes like a chewier, nuttier, more interesting relative of brown rice. Love it love it.
So, the cooking. I think next time I won't attempt to make three new things at the same time. It was a bit overwhelming, and I got really sweaty. Thankfully the recipes were simple in ingredients and process or my head might have exploded. As it was, I kept racing back and forth between the living room, where ad hoc was sitting (god forbid I should get food on such a beautiful book), and the kitchen, where all the food stuff was happening. That gave me a pretty good workout, but I think I need a better system in the future - maybe one involving a pulley and a suspended cookbook holder.
All in all, the food was delicious, which is a credit to the recipes, not me. The combination of scallops, farro, and leeks was pleasing, both flavor-wise and texture-wise. I was told by someone (not naming names) that my "plating could use some work" (not that that stopped him from eating every last bite, the jerk), so maybe I'll work on that next time. Anyway, below you can see the fruits of my labor, imperfect plating and all.
Mods to the recipes:
1. I halved the butter amounts for both the buttered farro and the melted leeks because I don't want to die of heart disease tomorrow. Both were still plenty buttery, and, in fact, I think they would both have tasted just as delicious with even less butter. For both, I added slightly more chicken stock than required to balance the moisture.
2. The farmer's market was out of thyme - and so was I haha - so I didn't add any to the sachet for the quinoa.
3. Out of laziness, and because I got a little sick of working with butter, I did not clarify the butter for the scallops. I don't regret it.
4. I didn't add any salt to the quinoa or the leeks. Depending on taste, the leeks could have used some salt, but I think the quinoa was plenty salty from the chicken stock (unless you're using low sodium broth).
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
After finishing your recipe, write a blog post (include pictures!) chronicling your experience in the kitchen. Don't include the recipe itself in your write-up.