22 December 2012

cod soufflé

This is an Atlantic cod soufflé made with Comté cheese and finished with parmesean paired with roasted red potatoes and cauliflower with toasted almonds, coriander, cayenne and cumin. I was worried that the soufflé would taste like fish chowder, but it was wonderful. I poached the cod in mild with peppercorns, bay leaf, shallots and celery. The poaching liquid was the base for the soufflé and I shredded the cod — it was fantastic.

20 December 2012

almond-orange tart

I've been working on perfecting this tart, and I think I got it right. It's a flaky crust (pâte brisée) with orange frangipane cream. For the frangipane, I used 7 oz. butter mixed until creamy, and then creamed it with 7 oz. sugar (in two additions) and some salt (the basic recipe is Tartine's). To this I blended in 7 oz. of almond flour. I added the zest of one orange, 1 tbsp. brandy, 1 tbsp. orange flower water and one egg. Blend well, add a second egg and 1 tbsp milk. Spread in an unbaked, chilled tart mold (10 inches) and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake at 350º until set (≈45 mins) and glaze with the juice from the aforementioned orange reduced with 2 tbsp. apricot preserves.

This was really wonderful — and inspired by these orange blossom friands, which are also delicious.

02 December 2012


Steak tartare with mini pommes anna and brussels sprouts. Just what I need to end the weekend and finish the last week of my trimester (I got sick of eating grilled cheese and almond butter & marmalade sandwiches, so this had to happen).

29 October 2012

Baked ricotta and squash

This is mashed and roasted kabocha squash with ricotta, roasted red peppers, and roasted spaghetti squash, baked. It was pretty satisfying.

Take a couple of cups of roasted kabocha and blend with a few anchovies, garlic and ricotta cheese; fold in spaghetti squash and roasted red peppers, bake for about an hour. This is great with a side of spinach.

22 October 2012


Leftover roasted beets and potatoes with eggs, bacon and a pickled jalapeno.

21 October 2012

steak tartare with beets

Tonight I made a classic steak tartare — except that I used flat iron steaks and served the tartare with roasted beets. I roasted whole red and yellow beets on a bed of thyme with olive oil for an hour at 300º (F) and then at 375º (F) for 40 minutes. Late October beets and slow roasting led to a rich, sweet flavor that was incredible with tartare — far superior to fries, if you ask me. The tartare was chopped — not ground — and mixed with Dijon mustard, anchovies, capers, red onion, parsley, very good olive oil (some olive oil from Impruneta that is quite fruity), Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, and an egg yolk. One guest did not eat meat and this mix (minus the egg yolk) was great with sashimi-grade tuna. Garnish the tartare with parsely and the beets with olive oil; season to taste with salt, pepper, Tabasco and chopped cornichons.

07 October 2012

butternut squash soup

 This is one of the best butternut soups that I have ever made — one each butternut squash, red onion, yellow onion, in chunks. Toss with chicken fat (this worked really well, but unless you have rendered chicken fat lately, use olive oil or another fat) in a dutch oven with salt, whole cloves of garlic, two bay leaves and four or five good-sized dried cayenne peppers, and roast until everything is taking on color. Add six cups of good chicken stock (this was a rich 8-hour stock) and put back in the oven until the vegatables are soft and ready to be puréed (an hour or two). I have found that the best way to purée is to pass the soup once through the medium or coarse plate of a food mill and to then mill the soup again on a finer setting (this creates a smoother consistency than a blender, and doesn't separate when chilled). The roasting-and-braising creates a beautiful, rich color with a wonderful texture. Garnish with cilantro or whatever strikes your fancy:

23 September 2012


I've preparing for a busy Fall so I have been trying out things that I can make in larger batches and freeze, and I have also been on a taco kick (been buying whole chickens, grinding up the meat for tacos and freezing the raw meat in small portions, rendering the fat for something delicious in the future and making stock to have on hand). The weeks of my farmer's market are numbered, so I bought a bone-in pork shoulder (just over 3lbs) and made carnitas.

I seared the meat on both sides, which had been salted a couple of hours before, in bacon grease. I then ground up one dried ancho chili with a tablespoon or so of cumin, and added that, two bay leaves, a stick of cinnamon, a quartered onion, five or six cloves of sliced garlic, and five dried cayenne peppers to the pot. I then added enough water to cover and a pinch of salt. This I cooked in the oven at 325ºF (160ºC) for about four hours (I removed the cinnamon halfwat through as it was pungent and didn't want it do dominate; this worked well). Here was the result:

 I removed the meat and strained the liquid; then shredded the pork.

Once shredded, the meat was tossed with the braising liquid and pout back in the oven for a few minutes. The carnitas were delicious with diced onion, cilantro and jalapenos; I forgot to add lime, but I think that this would have brightened the flavor a bit.

15 September 2012

rosemary gin fizz

Back when my rosemary was thriving I infused some gin. I added a decent amount (as shown) and let it sit for three days, then filtered the gin through cheesecloth. The gin turned the color of a rich olive oil and smelled heavenly. A month later, this made great gin fizzes with lemon, club soda and a bit of sugar; Broker's gin worked very well; any well-rouned gin would do.

13 September 2012

mousse de foies de volaille

For party food, you really can't go wrong with Julia Child's chicken liver mousse in aspic. Very simple (okay, not the aspic, but that's optional), and very delicious. And good chicken livers have become more and more available.

11 September 2012

canelés, attempt nº 2

The second attempt at canelés was much better. Started at 400ºF, lowered to 350º after 30 mins. I also used a coating mixture that was higher in beeswax than safflower oil, and being the second attempt they were probably better seasoned, the canelés slid right out of the molds—perfectly.

10 September 2012

canelés, attempt nº 1

I was recently in Paris and have been wanting to make canelés for years. I went to Dehillerin—the finest cookware supply store that exists (since 1820!)—and bought some canelé molds.

Following Paula Wolfert's Canelé de Bordeaux recipe, I started by seasoning the new molds. They get oiled and then baked.

The batter is similar to a crêpe batter—very wet—with the addition of rum. This needs to rest at least 24 hours.

And since these adorable molds are tin-lined copper that bakes for at least an hour, butter will not do. Wolfert suggests beeswav and safflower oil. Beeswax is the key to the perfect crust. It is also very difficult to get off of and out of containers and utensils.

I filled each tin with the mixture—"white oil"—to get a decent covering. I preheated the tins in the oven (on warming setting). At first I thought I had too much wax, so re-did some.

These then rest for 6-7 hours and go into the freezer before filling.

The molds get filled most of the way up.

These aren't the larger molds, and took about an hour.

Of thirteen molds, these six were presentable. More wax on try nº2! The are, nonetheless, delicious (and much better than the average pâtisserie's limp and few-days-old canelés).

Wolfert notes, on cleaning the molds: "After baking, don't wash or scrub the interiors of the molds. To remove baked debris: place the molds in a moderate oven; heat until debris burns; remove debris with paper toweling." Of course, this is a messy and smoky process.

04 September 2012

panino con trippa alla fiorentina

Last time that I had a tripe sandwhich was in Philly; This one, in Florence, was melt-in-your-mouth tender and delicious, cooked with tomato and seasoned with chilli pepper on a simple bun.

24 August 2012

les marchés ouverts

I love open-air Parisian markets -- and it's nice to be staying in a place where I can cook. There were also sardines, which I think will be wonderful with fennel and leeks. All those artichokes were only 2€, which would be unimaginable in Chicago.

17 August 2012

chicken fat

Once you have started frying eggs in rendered chicken fat, it is hard to go back. This was destined for a sandwich with tomatoes and Pecorino Romano. Delicious.

16 August 2012


Long day workwise and had not eaten by 8pm, so I figured that I ought to. I was craving tacos, but there are not any great taquerias near my house, and I already had onions, cilantro and jalapenos: I bought a couple of bone-in breasts (I refuse to buy skinless chicken breasts) and ground them up whole on the coarse setting running the skin through as well (in a meat grinder that is at least fifty years old but works perfect). I toasted cumin seeds, peppercorns and dried cayenne peppers and then ground them up. I heated a bit of water in a sauté pan (I trick I learned making the Thai dish laab), added some salt and the ground chicken and then stirred in the spice mixture and cooked until it was done and the liquid was mostly gone. Heat your (corn) tortillas as normal and serve with cilantro, onions, and jalapenos. The jalapenos are perfect for muggy weather and the allergies associated therewith, and even grinding your own meat, this only takes minutes.

15 August 2012

Julia Child, August 15, 1912 - August 13, 2004

I grew up watching Julia Child on WGBH Boston and her approach to cooking led to a lifetime of me being excited about food and all things culinary. Here are a handful of adventures from the last few years:
RIP, Julia.

13 August 2012

clafoutis aux pêches

This is Julia Child's basic recipe for clafoutis (from Mastering the Art..., but I subsituted amaretto for vanilla and brandy) with sliced peaches and sour cherries that have been soaking in rum for the last year. The sour cherries, being on top, caramelized and had wonderful flavor. The peaches needed no peeling or preparation: simply sliced, they were great. This is probably my favorite clafoutis of those that I have made.

21 July 2012

raspberry tart

The crazy weather this spring and this summer has done terrible thing to crops like sour cherries, but at least the raspberries are doing okay.

15 July 2012

gazpacho for the heat wave

Another heat wave is on its way to Chicago, so I'm stocking up on Gazpacho. My last recipe came out of things I had from the market, and this is only slightly modified: 4 large tomatoes, an orange and a red bell pepper, a cucumber, a head of garlic, a red onion, a splash of vinegar, a half bunch of cilantro, salt, freshly ground cumin and pimentón de la Vera dulce, a smoked Spanish paprika. Lastly I added a dose of very good olive oil (maybe a third or quarter cup?), which really rounds it out and makes a difference since it isn't cooked. (This had to be done in two batches in a standard 14c food processor). Makes about two liters.

09 July 2012

risotto (without arborio)

I started making risotto and after sautéing onions and having already chopped the asparagus, I realized that I was put of arborio rice. Japansese short-grain rice made for a great substitute, and Grüner Veltliner made for a great base to start the risotto (the broth was chicken-based otherwise).

18 June 2012

too hot for real cooking

At 97ºF (36ºC), it is too hot to cook. Naturally, I have time to cook for the first time in months, but can't get myself to do more than blanch asparagus (good stuff too, it's from the local farmer's market).

Blanch asparagus, drop 'em in an ice bath. Drain them and toss with paper-thin spring onions and lemon juice. Top with parmesan and tuna and finish with a nice fruity olive oil.

It's very refreshing. Especially with an almost effervescent vinho verde.

17 June 2012

banana cakes

Dan Lepard's banana bread recipes are pretty great (Dan Lepard is the Guardian's dreamy baker-writer); this is the first one, which is akin to a pound cake. It's very moist and has great texture. Beating melted butter, sugar and flour sounds like an odd process (and does not resemble the traditional method for pound cakes) but the result is truly wonderful.

The second recipe, a ginger banana bread, is really great. It uses whole wheat flour, muscovado (I used brown sugar instead) and candied ginger. Below is the first try; the second time I beat it a bit more which I think more fully hydrated the whole wheat flour — I also let it sit for about five minutes before going in the oven — these two things gave it a really great texture. It's a perfect afternoon snack with coffee or tea.


05 May 2012

seared lamb and endive

I don't cook as much as I used to, sadly. (Oh, grad school!) But sometimes I get around to it, such as seared lamb rib chops and endive (with potatoes). This came out really well. Lots of garlic and rosemary were used, and the rare lamb and seared endive pair very well.