Saturday, June 11, 2011
Sunday, July 25, 2010
The Good Life
|A side "street" in Cereste|
|The road leading down into the village of Buoux|
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Lunch Ends in Goult
Sunday, May 23, 2010
After the fries.. the kale..
Sunday, April 04, 2010
I do not do much deep frying, maybe once or twice a year. Typically, calamari or something potato (though not French Fries) or, most likely, something wacky like Dino kale, which is crazy good deep fried and moderately salted. (It is a green potato chip.) So I turn to my stand-by source for technique, Cook's Illustrated. This is a terrific magazine. For all its sins, it stands above all food magazines for the reliability of it's recipes and it's willingness to test (and test) technique. Both literally and figuratively, they will (and have) sacrificed sacred cows to split technique hairs. Then they try and explain why a technique matters. I love it! But sometimes we need to trim it down, cut a step out, and just get on with it. For a guy who will reminisce about my days smoking on my Weber Smoky Mountain using the Modified Minion Method with my Kingsford, I like to have the ability to call an audible, to throw away convention. So the fries...
So Cook's has two recipes for French Fries: the classic and easier. Well, Easier French Fries calls for Yukon Golds, which I did not buy. The Classic recipe has three main steps. Soak the cut potatoes. Fry at 325 for 6-8 minutes. Then, after a 10 minute rest, fry at 350 to crisp up and brown for a minute. Well, this all sounds fine, except our friends are here and the soak should take 30 minutes.
Inner Technique Geek: "But without the soak, the interior moisture may evaporate, leaving dry fries that are chewy."
Lazy Realist: "Yeah, well, you wanna keep everybody waiting 30 minutes and then ask for help to pat dry all the cut potatoes?! How bad could they be?"
Inner Technique Geek: "How perfect could they be with that short soak? Perhaps you should have consulted the recipe earlier and made the appropriate adjustments to your shopping list and schedule."
Lazy Realist: "I warned them with the invite. We are just throwing something together! No soak, it is."
So after a seven minute fry in two batches, a brief rest, then a quick fry in hotter oil. We enjoyed excellent fries without the soak. These were followed by macerated pears with a marsala marscapone cream and strawberries. The marscapone cream is in itself a lazy realist discovery. It is essentially a short cut version of the base of a Tiramisu without the egg foam that makes a more involved, but more complex tasting dessert. For Spring and Summer dinners, the marscapone cream is a great quick way to dress up Strawberry Shortcake or top fresh or macerated fruit. Though we omitted the biscuit or pound cake (due to dietary restrictions), the cream has more body and flavor than whipped cream and can hold some alcoholic flavorings, if you are so inclined.
The process is so simple. 16 oz of marscapone is plenty for 6 provided you serve it along or over fruit, perhaps with something else, like a slice of scone or pound cake. Beat the marscapone with some sugar. Add a quarter cup (or so - don't measure) of heavy cream. Add a splash of vanilla (two teaspoons, maybe). Beat until smooth. Add a few tablespoons of sweet marsala (for the Tiramisu direction) or a bit of brandy or fruit or coffee liquor, as you like. The cream will set up in the fridge over a couple of hours. So taste it. Add cream or sugar to your liking. Use less cream if you do not have the time to let it sit in the fridge and gel. It took me all of two minutes to make.
Saturday, March 06, 2010
- Of or pertaining to the sensory properties of a particular food or chemical, the taste, colour, odour and feel. (Wiktionary.org)
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Off to the races!
Since I last wrote, I saw Paul (the apple guy) again. He still had some apples left three weeks after Thanksgiving. In fact, he was chatting with another regular Market customer who I have gotten to know. The last apple of Paul's season is the Rome Beauty, as I have written about. And while it has merits, it is not particularly crisp. Given it was a rainy day, the puns started flying and I left with apples, Gravenstein apple cider vinegar, and a piece of mistletoe to cries of "Merry Crispness".
Crab season is especially delicious this year. Growing up in the Northeast, the large crustacean I am most familiar with is the lobster, but the longer I live in Calfornia, the more I look forward to Dungeness season. While crab is not quite as rich as lobster, it is also less prone to drying out during cooking. (See unrelated lobster note below).
We had some delicious seasonal reverie. I previously wrote to you about duck. The lamb was (and is - we have braised shank and an uncooked part of the leg in the freezer) excellent. For New Years' Eve, we drove down to Carmel Valley and splurged on a visit to Marinus. We have been here several times since it opened and were fans of the executive chef from his previous restaurant, the Pacific's Edge. I would generally avoid a holiday prix fixe, but at this place was willing to give it a try. And the meal was very good. The stand out dish for me was the butter poached lobster dish. I had read about Thomas Keller's approach to lobster in The Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman, but had not had it and Marinus' Cal Stamenov did an excellent rendition. The lobster meat is so tender; it is nothing like a traditionally boiled or steamed lobster. It can be cut with a fork and the usual richness of the meat is accompanied by a succulent mouthfeel as opposed to lobster's tendency to rubbery. The other highlight restaurant-related, though not culinary per se, was that towards the end of the meal, the couple at a table just near us, who were clearly regulars received a visit from the Chef. I had never seen Stamenov, but was impressed he was in the kitchen on NYE and, though his jacket was pristine, had a dirty apron. Overhearing his conversation with this table, he asked what they had and was delighted the man had one particular dish. He said that it had come from his station. Huh? He is actually working a station. Stamenov may not be a household name, but he has endorsements (as evidenced by the embroidery on his jacket) and is a pretty heavy hitter. Here he is not only overseeing and expediting, but is working a station. We were duly impressed, left feeling wonderfully fed, and ready to take on 1/1/10.