Monday, September 29, 2008

Last Meal

Over at Foodie at Fifteen, Nick posted what his last meal would be. All I can say is wow. This kid is no stranger to culinary decadence. Good for him!

In the spirit of his post, I'm writing what my last meal will be. Compared to his, mine is pretty simple, but it definitely reflects me and my tastes.

One rule about my meal. No bread. Don't get me wrong, I love good bread, but this is my last meal, and I'm not wasting room on bread.

So to start, lobster and foie gras with black truffle butter. I'd pair this with a bottle of Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape White.

After that, Kobe-beef ribeye with duck fat roasted new potatoes. For this I'd go big with a bottle of Ornellaia. Hands down, one of my favorite wines.

As far as dessert, I'm easy. Give me a simple Creme Brulee with more than a few shots of really good espresso and Frangelico.

Fun video about cooking with liquid nitrogen

I'm thinking about trying to get my hands on some. If I freeze a finger off, then so be it! This shit is cool!

Fun video about cooking with liquid nitrogen

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The ultimate homemade frites

I shouldn't be doing this, but I'm giving away the secret frites recipe.

This recipe is radically different than your usual frites as you don't have to blanch these in at a lower temperature and then fry in a higher temperature.

Things you'll need -

Two russet potatoes
Peanut oil
A big pot

Peel your potatoes and cut into 3/8 inch sticks.

Rinse and dry these thoroughly.

Place your soon to be frites in the pot and fill with peanut oil until they are covered.

Please note, I didn't say to place your pot on a heat source. That's right, the oil and potatoes go in cold.

Take your pot with oil and potatoes, place on the stove over high heat.

Let them cook on high until a deep golden brown. They'll kind of look like they're over cooked.

Remove from the oil and salt.

If done right, these frites should be perfectly crisped and moist inside.

Serve with Dijon mustard of course.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Culinary Artistry

What ingredients complement duck? When are sunchokes in season?

Who the hell knows the answer to these questions?

I'm sure the seasoned chef could confidently answer them, however, the home chef might not have these tidbits of knowledge committed to memory.

Thankfully, you don't have to. Culinary Artistry to the rescue.

One of my favorite culinary books, this gem is NOT a cookbook. This is a source of cooking muse; inspiring cooks of all levels to deeply think about the artistry behind cooking. It also provides a roadmap of flavor pairings, ingredient seasonality, and much more.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

RECIPE: Fig and Tawny Port Compote

I concoted this simple compote as an accompaniment to terrine of Foie Gras and Cabrales cheese for a get together at my house. It was a breeze to make and worked really well with both items.


5 dried figs, stems removed and chopped into a medium dice
1 cup of tawny port


Place the figs and tawny port in a sauce pan over medium heat and reduce until the mixture has a thick syrupy consistency.

Cracking open the mysteries of the egg

How much do you know about eggs?

The NYTimes helps to demystify the classification of eggs through this very informative article.

I can't wait to bust out this information at my next USDA social event.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Avec Eric

Eric Ripert has a blog.

In the unlikely case that you don't know who he is, Eric Ripert is the executive chef at one NYC's finest restaurants, Le Bernardin.

His blog, Avec Eric, showcases videos and recipes for simple yet beautiful dishes that can be prepared in minutes and cooked in a toaster oven. Avec Eric is not what I expected from a 3 Michelin star chef, considered to be one of the best in the culinary world. And that's what I love about it.

Special hardware or cooking techniques aren't needed to execute the relatively simple recipes, making them very accessible to home cooks. Their level of sophistication, however, will have your guests calling you a culinary rockstar after your next party.

My understanding is that Eric Ripert will have his own cooking show in the not to distant future. If it keep's the same spirit as his blog, he could very well be the new celebrity chef on the block.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rendering duck fat

I love duck and everything about it.

Whenever I make duck, I try to buy a whole bird and quarter it for use. I'm not doing this as a cost saver. Rather, I'm buying a whole bird to collect the massive amount of excess fat these little guys have and render it for later use.

How to render duck fat.

Take the excess fat you've collected and rough chop into smaller pieces. Inch squares are fine.

Put the fat into a pot that is big enough to hold it and an equal amount of water. Bring this up to a simmer, and keep there for about 60-90 minutes. Remove from heat and strain the liquid into a bowl, through a fine mesh strainer, and place in the fridge. While in the fridge, the rendered fat will rise to the top and solidify. Once fully cooled, the fat will come out in solid chunks, leaving a gelatinous layer beneath it. I usually discard this layer.

Store in an air tight contain in the fridge. Your duck fat should last for months.

RECIPE: Chip Chop

This is an Alton Brown recipe that I make from time to time. I highly recommend trying it out.

Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves 1 person


  1. 1 12 oz bag potato chips, salt and vinegar
  2. 1 egg
  3. 2 tsp water
  4. 1 rib pork chop, 1 to 1.5 inch thick, bone on
  5. flour, seasoned
  6. shortening OR canola oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

  2. Put the chips in a zip top bag, seal and roughly crush them. Don’t go for a uniform meal, just beat them up: you want a contrast of size and shape.

  3. Transfer the chips to a pie pan. Beat the egg together with 2 tsp of water and place the mixture in a second pie pan.

  4. Place the chop in a third pie pan and dredge with seasoned flour. Shake off any excess flour and coat the chop in the egg mixture.

  5. Drain briefly, then transfer the chop to the potato chip pan. Press on the pieces so that the chop is completely coated. Place on a rack and let the chop rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

  6. In the meantime, in a cast iron skillet or an electric skillet, heat enough shortening to come halfway up the side of the chop to 350 degrees F.

  7. Cook the chop for 1 minute on each side or until golden brown. Transfer to the a rack set over a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 27 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature hits 145 degrees F.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The importance of reading (and trying) recipes

Recipes are a learning tool.

I didn't attend culinary school and haven't much formal training in cooking. Most of the techniques I have learned were taught to me through reading and then trying someone's recipe.

Challenge yourself by reworking recipes.

Reworking recipes is a fantastic exercise that has helped me build confidence in culinary improvisation. I'll do such things as ingredient substitutions or building my own dish by cherry picking elements from a few recipes.

When reworking recipes, experiment and don't be afraid to fail when doing it.

Thanks to a failed dish, my wife and I have eaten cereal for dinner on more than one occasion. At the time, it's pretty frustrating. You spend 2 hours prepping and cooking only to be rewarded with a bowl of Golden Grahams and a sink full of dishes. However, in the long run, I've learned something extremely valuable. I've learned why something didn't work.

Homemade potato chips

I have never met anyone who doesn't like potato chips. I don't think I ever will.

For most, filling a potato chip craving means buying a bag from the store and eating. There are a variety of tasty flavors to choose from, my personal favorite being salt and vinegar.

Unfortunately, many store bought items just can't match the flavor of their homemade counterparts. This is true for potato chips. The homemade variety is really tasty, and even more addictive than store bought.

Before you go down the road of making your own chips, you should invest in a decent deep fryer. It is possible to use a cast iron skillet or some sort of pot to fry your chips in, but controlling the heat of the oil is pretty difficult. The deep fryer you purchase should have, at a minimum, temperature control and a basket for frying in. I'm pretty happy with my fryer - Waring Pro Stainless Steel Deep Fryer.

Now on to the chip making!

Pour peanut oil into your fryer and heat to 350 degrees.

For your chips, use a floury potato such as an Idaho Russet. I'd recommend frying one potato per person.

Peel your potato with a peeler and discard the peels. Now many recipes would call for making chips using a mandolin. I, however, like to stick with the peeler. Using the same motion you used to peel the potato, start peeling off ribbons of potato. Try to make these ribbons as long as possible. Peel as much as you can without peeling your fingers.

Grab a handful of potato ribbons and drop into the oil. You'll want to stir the chips around for 5 to 10 seconds with metal tongs so they don't stick together.

Fry your chips until golden brown. Please note: the first couple of batches in new oil won't brown up as much as you'd expect.

Once done, remove from the oil and sprinkle with kosher salt immediately (while the chips are still wet). To switch it up a little, you could also try sprinkling with Parmesan cheese (the powdery processed kind).

BTW, you can do the same recipe with sweet potatoes. These are also seriously good.