recipe

Charred & Chilled

ImageI dropped the ball.

I meant to post the entirety of my menu project on subsequent days without pause. Obviously that didn’t happen. I got distracted. There was a storm–you might’ve heard of it–then there was another storm. I was one of the lucky ones. I never lost power, I never lost cable. In fact, I sat through most of the event, watching the happenings from my six-story window until K decided we should close the blinds over concerns of safety. With no trees immediately imminent out of our window, I thought it safer to leave the blinds up, thus in view of the branches hurtling at us rather than being surprised when shards of window were met with the disappointment that we would now need to replace our newly broken blinds….but I digress.

We made it through the week and then on Sunday there was bustle and talk at the farmer’s market. How had families fared? When do you think transit will resume? What did you spend your time making in the kitchen!?

You’d think that I would have spent time testing recipes. Making some dish that takes too long to even consider making on a regular day. But, I did not. I mostly made simple recipes & I didn’t take pictures of any of them. And I’m okay with that. You don’t need to be party to everything that I eat.

I will, however, say that the caramelized onion and fernet steamed mussels were amazing. As was the chicken-sausage and purple cauliflower fried rice. And the bluefish sandwiches. And the cheddar-bacon shortbread cookies, And the baked pumpkin yeast doughnuts. And the puff-pastry with mustard green pesto, blue cheese and concord grape reduction drizzle. Though not so much the homemade tootsie rolls…

One thing I didn’t make was soup. And that’s because even in this time of lost power and cold nights, I’m forced to live with windows open and fans running on high because my apartment is so unbelievably hot–first world problems, y’all. Although, I guess I could have made this soup because it’s chilled. Technically it’s charred and chilled. You can read about why it’s charred and chilled here. Otherwise, make the soup to enjoy in your sweltering apartment (although it’s also good served warm). Either way, it’s delicious.
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Charred & Chilled Green Bean Soup
Yield: 8 Servings

1 medium Vidalia onion, ciseler
2 lbs. Italian green beans, cleaned
2 quarts green vegetable stock
S+P
Neutral oil, for sautéing
Micro-greens, for garnish
Olive oil, for drizzling

For the Cornbread Croutons
1 cup White Lily Self-Rising Buttermilk Cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of sugar
½ t baking powder
Pinch of salt
¼ cup neutral oil
1 ½ cups milk
1 egg
50 g Melted Butter

For the Green Vegetable Stock
100 g onions, mirepoix
200 g celery, mirepoix
200 g white mushrooms, gills removed, halved
1 leek, mirepoix
150 g broccoli stems
1 green garlic stem
100 g carrot greens
Bouquet Garni
4 allspice berries

For the Stock

  1. Sweat each of the vegetables separately, without achieving any color. Too much color in the stock will lend the soup an unappealing color when finished.
  2. Return all veg to the pot along with carrot greens, bouquet and allspice and cover with water. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and simmer for 20 minutes. Skim as needed. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 additional minutes. Strain & chill.

For the Soup

  1. Using a cast iron pan, sweat the onions in a bit of neutral oil until they are translucent and just starting to color.
  2. Add the green beans and briefly sauté until starting to soften.
  3. Add vegetable stock just to cover. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and beans are very soft (add more stock or water if necessary).
  4. Once the liquid has completely evaporated, stir often, allowing them to scorch slightly.
  5. Place in a blender and add enough vegetable stock to make a puree. Add more stock bit by bit until the desired thickness is achieved, keeping in mind that the soup will be served chilled.
  6. Return to the pot and to the heat and bring just to the boil to meld all the flavors. Adjust seasoning
  7. Push through a fine chinois and then chill.

For the CroutonsImage

  1. Whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar & salt.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk to combine.
  3. Pour into a greased loaf pan and place in an oven preheated to 425º.
  4. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, until golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature.
  5. Remove cornbread from pan and slice into ½” squares.
  6. Place on a sheet pan and drizzle with melted butter. Toss lightly and place back in the oven til crisp and golden.

For Service

  1. Ladle soup into bowls & top with cornbread croutons, micro-greens and a drizzle of olive oil.

Drink Pairing
Broadbent Vinho Verde – 2011

Unexpected Fame

Photo courtesy of bkgreenmarkets

I entered the annual apple pie bake-off at my local farmer’s market.

After that, everything went wrong.

I decided that I would prep all my pie components on Saturday and then assemble and bake the pie on Sunday, the day of the competition. I’m pretty bad about following that age-old rule of never making something for someone that you haven’t made before–so the pie was basically an experiment.

I started with a pecan crust. Having never made a nut crust, I figured I would just cut some of the flour from my usual pie crust and sub in pecan meal. It all seemed to go fine & after chilling it rolled out well. I left the rolled crust in the fridge to rest overnight.

I made a bourbon-brown sugar apple compote. It tasted awesome. I chilled it and put it too in the fridge.

On Sunday morning I awoke, padded up to the kitchen, noticed my refrigerator had been left ajar, proceeded to freak out, and resolved my mind to make it work. However, my crust was far too warm/soft to roll up or fold up or transfer in any way and fell apart. Thus I proceeded to pat and patch it into the pan–I’d planned to do a rustic edge anyway, so thought this fine. I assembled the rest of the pie–crises mostly averted, I went to rest while my crust set in a 425 oven for 10 minutes.

My fire alarm went off.

Back in the kitchen there was smoke billowing from my oven. No actual fire, thank goodness–I assume something must have spilled onto the oven floor. Convinced my wayward crust and once great compote would now taste like barbecue, I turned the oven down to 350 to finish baking. The smoke stopped.

Upon removal, I let the pie rest. I’d made it in a spring form, so took off the sides, allowing it to cool a little faster. Ready to go, I tried to transfer it from baking dish to serving dish: the crust caved in.

I proceeded to freak out.

Oh well, it’s only one quadrant.

I took the pie anyway since I had a friend coming to enter the contest as well. And I didn’t want to let my market manager down, as she knows me by name…

And then I won.

And now people on the neighborhood blog are asking if they can buy one.

It just goes to show you: figuring out the world is impossible.

Figuring out this salad was pretty easy though. It was the first official course of menu project & you can read all about the inspiration here.

7 Component Salad
Yield: 8 Servings

280 grams baby romaine
8 fresh water chestnuts, peeled and sliced
8 halves deviled eggs
200 grams bacon
150 grams Parmesan Cheese, cut into ½” shards
300 grams green peas
200 grams celery, macedoine
Chives, for garnish

For the Dressing
1 egg yolk
1 T Dijon
¼ t salt
½ t sherry vinegar
½ t lemon juice
1 t granular sugar
Cayenne pepper, to taste
150 g neutral oil
Celery Leaves, hacher
Water, as needed

For the Deviled Eggs
4 hard boiled eggs
bacon fat from the lardon
1T mayonnaise
½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ t cayenne
30 g sweet pickles, brunoise
2 t chives, minced, plus more for garnish
Paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Dressing

  1. Combine egg yolk, mustard, salt, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and pepper in a bowl.
  2. Whisk the oil in gradually to create an emulsion and until you’ve reached the desired consistency (adding water to loosen if necessary). Add celery leaves.

For the Bacon:

  1. Remove the rind and cut the bacon into strips ½” long
  2. Cut the bacon strips into lardons, approximately ½” wide.
  3. Sauté the lardon until they render out most of their fat.
  4. Set aside and reserve bacon fat.

 For the Peas & Celery:

  1. Prepare each, separately, à l’anglaise, refresh in ice water, and then combine and set aside.

 For the Deviled Eggs:

  1. Put the eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Refresh Eggs in ice water for several minutes and then peel.
  3. Slice eggs in half. Set the whites aside and put the yolks into a bowl with mayonnaise, mustard, cayenne and salt. Mash the yolks into a paste and then add rendered bacon fat until it reaches the desired consistency.
  4. Stir in the pickles and 2 t chives.
  5. Put the yolk mixture into a piping bag and pipe into the egg white cavities.
  6. Garnish each egg with paprika and a 1 inch piece of chive.

 For the Water Chestnuts:

  1. Rinse well and peel with a vegetable peeler.
  2. Slice into ¼” rounds.
  3. Rinse again & set aside, in cold water.

 For Service:

  1. Lightly dress lettuce and place a layer on each plate.
  2. Dress the pea and celery mixture and fill a 2” ring mold.
  3. Set 1 egg half atop each mound. And remove ring mold.
  4. Drain water chestnuts & dress. Place 3 slices on each plate.
  5. Place 3 pieces each of the bacon lardons & Parmesan shards around the plate.
  6. Garnish with minced chives.

 

Each course require a beverage pairing, for this one I chose a Rose Spritzer. More on why here.

Drink Pairing

Rosé Spritzer
Yield: 8 drinks

1 bottle Château Tassin Rosé from Wineberry  
4 oz. Cherry Heering Liqueur
Seltzer Water, to taste
1 Lemon
1 Lime
8 Maraschino cherries


For the Maraschino Cherries
1 pint sour cherries
1 cup unrefined sugar
1 cup water
1 cup Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
3 black peppercorns
1 sprig thyme

For the Maraschino Cherries

  1. Put sugar, water, peppercorns, thyme and a pinch of salt into a saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add cherries (they can be pitted, but leaving the pits in does lend additional flavor). Return to a boil until they’ve turned bright red.
  3. Pour into a holding vessel and add liqueur. Let rest until they’ve reached room temperature. Chill.

For the Cocktail

  1. Fill cocktail glasses half-way with ice.
  2. Slice both the lemon and the lime thinly. Lightly twist one round of each over 8 glasses to release the essential oils & then drop the round into the glass.
  3. Pour 2 ounces of wine into each glass.
  4. Pour 0.5 ounce of cherry liqueur into each glass.
  5. Top with seltzer, stir gently, garnish with cherry & serve.

A Taste of Something New

This past month, I’ve been spending a lot of time volunteering. The goal of these endeavors is two-fold: first networking. I’m terrible at networking. Coming from  an acting background people often say to me, can’t you just act like you’re charming/having a good time/interested in other people? The truth is, I can not; and the reason I can’t is precisely because I come from an acting background. I spent a large portion of my life pretending to be someone else and then dove into a career where the ultimate goal is to become someone else, if only for a moment in time. And thus, I still find it hard to function in a larger social setting…my middle name is Awkward.

The upside of all the volunteering–which includes restaurant trails–is all the free food. I’ve sampled canapés and small bites from some of NY’s best this month and I wish that I could make a career out of it. Sure I have to do a little bit of work (a very little bit) but thus far the pros have far outweighed the cons.

This canapé has nothing to do with any of those that I’ve tried & unfortunately it’s sort of past it’s season. Although my local Greenmarket still has watermelons available (thanks mild fall!); so you can try it yourself if you’re so inclined. It was the amuse bouche for my Menu Project dinner party.

Watermelon Canapé

1 watermelon cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup unrefined sugar
Basil, for garnish

For the Balsamic Reduction

  1. Combine vinegar & sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce by a third. Chill

For the Watermelon

  1. Using a melon baller, hollow out the tops of each cube.
  2. Set them, hollow side down, on a paper towel lined sheet pan, in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

Fill each cube with the balsamic reduction and garnish with a small sprig of basil.

Faking It.

I feel that I am at a point in my culinary education where my brain has stopped taking in recipes. As a person who rarely follows them, when I do “use” a recipe it’s only as a jumping point for whatever I feel like doing or creating a variation using whatever it is I have to use up–I’m looking at you truckload of turnips that just won’t stop. I’m now moving into a place where I simply repeat the demonstrated steps & otherwise go by instinct. However, with my ever present need for perfection, I then do a lot of second guessing–rarely with positive results.

Thus, upon our next assignment, I had a bit of panick. We were to draft a recipe–one that we enjoyed and often made at home–in the style of our textbook. The only recipes I generally repeat are the simplest ones–ones where you’d rather not cook, but you should eat at home because you can’t affored the price or calories of eating out…i.e. not suitable for impressing anyone.

And so, I approached the assignment from a different perspective: a method I enjoy and frequently use at home–the use of csa items from last week that I had better use before they turn. This week it was butternut squash and red delicious apples. But wait: conundrum. Butternut squash soup is kind of passe, maybe a little boring, so I had to enliven it somehow. Since I’ve made several variations of said potage, I was up for the challenge of making a new one & trusted my gut that it would work. It did. By roasting the squash first, the earthy, caramel sweetness of the squash shines through. An addition of star anise throws in a different, unexpected flavor, providing a counterpoint to the earthy and the addition of chicken stock provides a heartiness that water or vegetable stock might not.

Of course, a properly Frenchified soup wouldn’t be a properly Frenchified soup without some garniture. Luckily we’d had grits that morning for breakfast & because of an excess of grity goodness had been prepared (totally by accident….totally…) grit croutons were my go-to decoration.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Grit Croutons

For the Soup
700 g butternut squash (about 1 large) or other winter squash,
       skinned and cut in large dice
2 medium sweet apples, skinned & cut in mirepoix
1 medium red onion, cut in mirepoix
500 mL chicken stock
20 g butter
20 g olive oil
10 g brown sugar
1 star anise
10 g (½ t) Ceylon cinnamon
Salt and Pepper, to taste

For the Croutons
240 mL water
240 mL milk
120 g instant grits
30 g butter
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
Oil, for frying

For the Soup

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Toss squash with olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon and star anise and spread in a single layer on a sheet tray. Place in the preheated oven and roast until tender and starting to brown (about 30 minutes), tossing once during cooking.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepot. Sweat onions for about 1 minute. Add apples and sweat, covered until soft. Remove the lid and allow the collected liquid to evaporate and begin to develop sucs on the bottom of the pan.
  3. Making sure to reserve the star anise, place roasted squash with apples and onions in a blender, adding just enough stock to puree.
  4. Return puree to saucepan along with star anise and brown sugar. Add enough stock to reach desired consistency. Bring to a simmer and cook on low for 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning and remove star anise. Keep warm for service.

 For the Croutons & Service

  1. Bring water and milk to a boil, immediately whisk in grits and ½ t salt. Bring back to boil, reduce heat and cook at a very low simmer, covered, until thick, whisking occasionally to avoid lumps.
  2. Once it is very thick, about 10 minutes, whisk in butter and nutmeg, plus an aggressive amount of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  3. Pour grits into a 9X3 pan and allow to cool. Once cool, turn grits out onto a board and slice into 1-cm cubes.
  4. Bring oil to 350F and fry grit cubes until golden. Drain on a paper towel. Serve soup in hot bowls, garnished with croutons.