Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve Plans - Hunkering Down



I have always had a dislike for New Year's Eve. It just feels like one of those celebrations you are forced to participate in and it tends to encourage the type of people who normally don't go out, to go out and be idiots. So the plan this year is to stay in, eat well, and drink well.

The Food Plan
- Blinis with trout roe, Norwegian smoked salmon, creme fraiche, fresh dill
- Pasta: fresh tagliatelle with sliced truffles and maitake mushrooms
- Cheese: Gorgonzola Dolce, Juilana (Indiana Goat's Milk Cheese), Dante (from Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Cooperative)
- Chocolate mousse cake
- Mixed berry tart 

The Wine Plan
- Pinon NV Brut Rose
- Prunotto, Alfredo 1990 Barbera D'Alba Pian Romualdo, or
- Rinaldi, Francesco 1996 Barolo Cannubbio



Don't forget the morning after plan though - New Year's Day can be a nightmare. Last year I went a little food nuts in my hangover haze: blueberry pancakes, chocolate chip pancakes, eggs in crisp ham cups, lamb chops, yorkshire puddings, homemade potato chips with truffle salt.  This year I am not sure, but I'll be following the pre-production plan.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009: Find. Eat. Drink. Year In Porn

After a little break from blogging while away for the holidays, here's a quick look at the food porn video we just published on Find. Eat. Drink. 


2009: Our Year in Food Porn from FindEatDrink on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wild Mushrooms: A Simple, But Shockingly Good Dinner


I was recently given some mushrooms (chanterelles, blue foots, matsutakes) to sample by the former professional forager, Tyler Gray, who is now a partner at Mikuni Wild Harvest. I wanted to make something really simple to fully enjoy, compare and contrast the flavors of each of the mushrooms. In individual pans, I sauteed the sliced blue foots and chanterelles in olive oil and seasoned salt and pepper. In a grill pan, I grilled the thinly sliced matsutakes after a quick coat of olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper. I also made a simple pasta side dish of pappardelle, truffle oil, salt and pepper, and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano to pair with the mushrooms.


The flavors that exude from wild mushrooms are truly amazing. It was such a sensory pleasure to taste the three mushrooms side by side.
  • The matsutakes were the strongest flavored by far. A heady aroma and very woodsy, earthy, strong, exotic flavors. Lovely when eaten in combination with the pasta.
  • The chanterelles were more tender than the matsutakes and had a fruity nose to them. They had little peppery earthy taste.
  • The blue foots were perhaps my favorite of the three. Again, woodsy, earthy flavors, but not as strong as the matsutake. It was as if you were eating a clump of earth from the place where these were picked (in a good way). Flavors that are able to transport you.
Wine Pairing
Boasso 1999 Barolo Serralunga - such a well priced (~$39.99), solid, authentic, old style Barolo with solid structure, typical roses and tar. Well balanced and perfect with the pasta and wild mushrooms. It was an exciting combination of scents and flavors.


A Recent Farmer's Market Visit


On a recent afternoon visit to the Union Square farmer's market, I picked up some fantastic veggies: purple broccoli, baby bok choy, cauliflower. The cauliflower turned out to be the best presentation. I simply roasted it in a hot oven with salt, pepper, and olive oil after slicing it length ways to make slices that looked like Christmas trees. Deep cauliflower flavor, bright colors, and a cool shape.

Black Garlic



Researching an article for Find. Eat. Drink. last week led me to spend a morning visiting the Mikuni Wild Harvest warehouse in Long Island City. I was able to taste a number of new and exciting foods, one of which was Black Garlic. Sounds dark and mysterious, but it's not at all.

Black Garlic is basically fermented garlic which results in the cloves turning black in color, but becoming much milder in flavor with a balsamic type sweetness mixed with soy sauce and tamarind. It's a wonderful flavor and would be a tremendous additional flavor component to a sauce. Then again, it would be a great topping for a pizza too.

Dard et Ribo 2006 Crozes Hermitage



On a Louis Dressner wine trip a couple of years ago with Chambers Street Wines, I ended up returning with a bottle of Dard et Ribo 2006 Crozes Hermitage. Previous vintages of Dard et Ribo's wines had been more funky to me, but I was still excited to try this bottle. Maybe when you carry wine back from a trip, you have higher expectations because of the extra effort involved.

The other night I opened the bottle. I was having the last of a batch of Heritage Farms porterhouse chops and thought it would be a worthwhile pairing. The pork chop was juicy and delicious and the wine was a equal to the task. There was bacon fat, mushrooms, some tannins, lovely fruit in a classic old world style. Interestingly enough, I was surprised to see a plastic cork when I opened it. I supposed they intend this bottling to be drunk in its youth. I didn't finish the wine and looked forward to the next day.

I really wish I would have kept on drinking the first night. On the second night, there was none of the lovely Syrah I enjoyed the previous evening. It had been replaced with an off hazelnut nose and taste. Almost just weird hazelnut tannins and nothing else. No pleasure at all struggling though a glass of wine like this. Too bad. I guess not every bottle of wine can be perfect.

Baked Eggs And Mushrooms On Toast




I was recently inspired by The Wednesday Chef's recipe on Camino's Egg Baked In Cream to create something similar, but just a little different. Just a simple baked egg dish with toast, onions, mushrooms, eggs. It turned out reasonably well, but will be making some minor adjustments and trying again soon.


Ingredients
- 2 eggs
- 2 pieces whole wheat bread
- 1/2 small yellow onion
- cremini mushrooms
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- hot sauce (optional)
- truffle salt (optional)


Preparation
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and place rack in the middle of the oven. Saute onions in olive oil over medium-high heat, season with salt and pepper, add mushrooms to the pan and season. Saute for several minutes until the juice from the mushrooms has been cooked off. Remove pan from heat. Toast bread and cut toast into pieces to fit in the bottom of the ramekin.

Add the sauted onions and mushrooms to the ramekin and sprinkle some truffle salt on the mixture. Crack an egg into each of the ramekins.

Put the ramekins in the oven and bake for approximately 12 minutes until the egg is set to your liking. Each right out of the ramekin.

Notes
The dish tasted delicious, although mildly lacked in beauty. Mushrooms and eggs are a fantastic combination. The toast was a fun little enhancement that I really liked. Next time, I make the following enhancements though:
1) I will butter the ramekin under the toast - some of the toast stuck to the bottom of the ramekin. 
2) I will also add some cream or half and half to the top of the egg mixture which will create a more even topping over the mushrooms.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lunch: Roast Chicken Sandwich with Cilantro, Cucumber, Sriracha, Lime Juice




Leftovers, leftovers, leftovers. I just love them. Cold roast chicken is just perfect on its own, but this sandwich had some great elements. Whole wheat bread, a little mayo, sriracha, cucumbers, cilantro, lime juice. Really fresh, clean flavors with some zip from the lime juice and the sriracha. I find myself using cilantro on many sandwiches for a little more interesting flavor.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Simple Roast Chicken


Sometimes it feels like too much trouble to roast a whole chicken and chicken parts seem like a better choice. But I love leftovers and instead of legs and thighs, a whole bird made the most sense this time around. I was originally going with the ultra simple, salt and pepper approach, but then added a little flavor with butter, garlic, horseradish. 

After washing the bird with cold water and patting it dry, I seasoned it with salt and pepper. I took a good knob of room temperature butter (1 to 2 tablespoons maybe), mixed it with a teaspoon each of crushed garlic and horseradish, and spread the mixture all over the bird. I roasted it for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees. It turned out really moist, tender, and delicious with crispy skin.


Wine Pairing
Primitivo Quiles 2008 Alicante Cono 4 de Pura Cepa
This is a joven bottling which basically means young wine so it sees little or no time in oak and should be fresh and fruity. This is a fantastic, inexpensive wine. For $10.99, it has depth, character, rusticity. I'll keep on coming back to this wine as long as it is available. The fatty, juicy bits of the chicken were perfect with the wine.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chocolate Cashew Coconut Tart in Chocolate Crust



For Thanksgiving a number of years ago, I was responsible for cooking the whole meal and decided to do it right. One of the successes that day was a tart recipe I found in Bon Appetit that season. I thought I would try and repeat my luck again this year with the assistance of my 10 year old niece. This tart has a number of ingredients that all balance together to form slices of chocolate richness.


Ingredients
Crust
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt
- 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, diced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ice water


Filling
- 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
- 9.25-ounce can (about 2 cups) lightly salted roasted cashews
- 1 cup flaked sweetened coconut



Crust & Topping
- 5 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 ounce of white chocolate (topping only)



Preparation
Crust:

- Spray 11-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom with nonstick spray.
- The recipe calls for blending the flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a food processor for 5 seconds, but I just had my niece use her clean fingers to mix together the dry ingredients.



- Add butter and blend until moist sandy texture forms - this we also did with our fingers.
- Add 1 1/2 tablespoons ice water and blend until dough comes together.
- Press dough evenly onto bottom and up sides of prepared pan. You'll feel the butter start to melt as you press the dough, so don't take too long.




- Chill crust 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place crust on baking sheet and bake crust until dry-looking and slightly puffed, about 18 minutes. - Cool crust on rack completely
- Keep the oven on 


Filling:

- In a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring brown sugar, cream, maple syrup, and ginger to boil, whisking gently until sugar dissolves.



- Attach candy thermometer to side of pan. Adjust heat to maintain low boil; cook until thermometer registers 222°F, whisking occasionally, about 8 minutes. There was no candy thermometer at my parent's apartment, so I just followed the 8 minutes guideline and everything worked out just fine.

- Mix in cashews and coconut and cool the mixture for 20 minutes.

- Place chopped chocolate in small microwave-safe bowl.
- Cook at medium setting in 15-second intervals until soft and beginning to melt.
- Stir until completely melted and smooth.
- Brush enough chocolate over inside of crust to coat completely - I used more than half to create a nice chocolate coating on the crust.
- Freeze crust until chocolate is cold and hard, about 15 minutes and reserve remaining melted chocolate for drizzling over the top of the tart.
- Pour filling into crust.



- Place tart on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until filling is beginning to darken on top and is bubbling thickly, about 35 minutes. 
- Transfer tart to rack to cool completely.


Topping:

- Remelt reserved bittersweet / semi-sweet chocolate in microwave.
- Drizzle chocolate over tart in lacy pattern. I used a spoon to just drizzle over the tart, but you can also spoon the chocolate into a freezer bag, snip the corner of the bag, and pipe the chocolate for a more precise drizzle.
- Melt the white chocolate in microwave and drizzle over tart.  I used the bag method of drizzling for the white chocolate because even melted, it was too thick to successfully drizzle using the spoon.


Note

The tart can be made 1 day ahead. It will store covered at room temperature.