Friday, November 26, 2010

Puree of Garlic Potatoes

All of my travel, expense reports, and projects are done for the year. I can finally sit back and relax. I suppose I could wax poetic on mashed potatoes. I could bore you with the history of, different preparations of, and overall goodness of the potato.

I love mashed potatoes.

The pat of butter is totally unnecessary - leave it off. I messed up this picture by making it the focal point.

Puree of Garlic Potatoes
by Thomas Keller for Ad Hoc at Home
  • 4 pounds large Yukon potatoes, about 2 inches in diameter
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 C heavy cream
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick; 4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/4 C Garlic Confit see post here
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp minced chives
1. Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover by at least 2 inches of cold water. Season the water with about 1/4 C of salt and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

2. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a very gentl
e simmer, and cook for about 20 minutes, until tender enough to puree. Drain the potatoes in a colander and let them steam to evaporate excess water for 1 to 2 minutes. Then quickly peel them.

3. Meanwhile, heat the cream in a heavy saucepan; keep warm.

4. Set a food mill fitted with a medium blade over a pot. Add about one-quarter of the potatoes, top with 2 pieces of butter and one-quarter of the garlic, and puree. Repeat with the remaining potatoes, butter, and garlic in 3 batches. (The potatoes can be pureed up to 3 hours ahead and held at room temperature.)

5. To serve, warm the potatoes in a saucepan over medium heat. As they heat, whip the cream into the potatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the chives, and top with a spoonful of butter.

Garlic Confit

I can't say enough great things about Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home cookbook. I would, in a heartbeat, recommend this as a shower gift. Paired with a basic arsenal of cooking equipment, someone who knows absolutely nothing about cooking (okay, maybe absolutely nothing), but anyone with internet access and a desire to learn can make simple and delicious food with very little effort. (The internet is priceless for answering stupid little questions not written into recipes.)

This garlic confit and oil recipe yields garlic cloves that are ever-so-soft and ready to be mashed into anything that needs a jolt of das garlic. This is so simple...well...a cave man could do it.

I will say that if you don't really need a whole cup confited garlic, and want to halve or quarter the recipe - you can. Simply set your oven to 225 and use whatever little bowl you want a totally cover the cloves with oil - this allows you to use less oil and less garlic. Cook the garlic cloves for the 40 minutes outlined in the recipe only . The problem with using the partial recipe over the burner is that you'll probably end up using more oil than you need to. You also run the risk of not being able to control the temperature of the oil because there is so little of it.

Garlic Confit and Oil

Garlic Confit and Oil
by Thomas Keller from Ad Hoc at Home
  • 1 C peeled garlic cloves
  • About 2 C canola oil
1. Cut off and discard the root ends of the garlic cloves. Put the cloves in a small saucepan and add enough oil to cover them by about 1 inch - none of the garlic cloves should be poking through the oil.

2. Set the saucepan on a diffuser over medium-low heat. The garlic should cook gently: very small bubbles will come up through the oil, but the bubbles should not break the surface; adjust the heat as necessary and/or move the pan to one side of the diffuser if it is cooking too quickly. Cook the garlic for about 40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the cloves are completely tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the garlic to cool in the oil.

3. Refrigerate the garlic in covered container, submerged in the oil, for up to 1 week.

Maple Pan-Roasted Baby Carrots

The Carrot Top Bouquet

We picked up these crazy ass carrots last week at the North Union Farmers Market at Shaker Square. As far as carrots go, we have a tendency to float around to some of the different vendors. While there are specific people we go to for specific things, produce for the most part seems to be a bit of a moving target.

I don't remember the name of the farm, but he's the guy that also sells bison meat along with a variety of vegetables. Even this deep into November I've seen some stuff that is The Chef's Garden quality, which I find to be pretty remarkable. At any rate, I saw these carrots and knew they'd make for some interesting pictures.

The Cut

The outside is a deep purple just like a beet, but the color only goes toward the middle of the carrot about an 1/8th of an inch - the rest is orange. I don' t know the name of carrot variety but I'll find out when I talk to the guy this weekend. As one might expect, they were a fairly sweet carrot that browned up quite noticeably when roasted.

While this recipe calls for baby carrots, these were a little too big. Rolling and cutting them ensured they would cook all the way through. Visually I think they were much more appealing cut than left whole. I didn't realize it until after I made the recipe that this was written by Dan Barber of Blue Hill. He's certainly one who tries not to let his cooking get in the way of good product.

A printable version of this recipe can be found here at the Fine Cooking site.

The Finished Product
(I photographed these things a bunch of different ways and they looked black every time.)

Maple Pan-Roasted Baby Carrots
by Dan Barber

1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. carrots with their tops on, preferably baby carrots, peeled and stems trimmed to about 1/2 inch

1 Tbs. pure maple syrup

1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt; more as needed

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper; more as needed
Tip: To cut a large carrot into 6 baby-carrot-size pieces, slice the carrot in half crosswise; then halve the narrower bottom end and quarter the wider stem end.

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

2. In a large (12-inch) ovenproof skillet or sauté pan, heat the oil over high heat (the oil shouldn’t smoke but should crackle when you add the carrots). Add the carrots and cook, stirring frequently, until they blister and turn golden brown in spots, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Add the maple syrup, salt, and pepper and toss well to coat the carrots. Remove from the heat.
Spread the carrots evenly in the skillet and transfer it to the hot oven.

3. Roast until the carrots are tender, browned in spots, and just a little shriveled, 12 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

The Farewell to Fall

Maple Cream Filled Macarons

This month's MacTweet challenge was to create a macaron that was inspired by what fall means to me. While I could (and do) eat various maple treats all year round, the fall is truly the time of year that invokes my strongest cravings for this flavor. I made a basic macaron and filled it with an intense maple buttercream. It reminded me of a maple glazed donut. I reccently traveled to Philadelphia and picked up a jar of Maple extract at Fante's Kitchen Wares Shop. I found their product to be excellent - the scent was so strong that I could smell it before I took the cap off! I can't wait to try using it in more recipes.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Turkey & Sweet Potato Hash

As far as holidays go, Thanksgiving is by far and away my favorite in terms of food. Give me a smoked turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and a bevy of desserts and I'm set. Follow that with a day off, endless football, leftovers, followed by the weekend, Ohio State/Michigan, more leftovers, followed by another day of football, and more leftovers (with all of the previously mentioned events being washed down with seasonal beer), and you have one hell of an awesome holiday.

So how does one spend the night before Thanksgiving? At our house we made up a holiday called "Thanksgiving Eve". This unofficial holiday is for those who have to go to a restaurant on Thanksgiving Day.

The short story is that my sister, who is a nurse and was supposed to host the dinner, had a scheduling snafu at work and couldn't hold it at her house. I totally understand her situation, and by no means am I complaining about going to a restaurant for the holiday. We'll go and have fun, but it isn't going to yield much in the way of excess food.

This is why we're celebrating Thanksgiving Eve. If one is to wash down leftovers with seasonal beer, one needs a dinner that will produce said leftovers.

Without going into great detail, Thanksgiving Eve is going to yield much turkey. If you look at the news stands, all of the magazines are rife with articles about what to make for the big Thanksgiving holiday. What you don't see a lot of, are recipes that tell you what to do with all of that leftover turkey you have afterward - after all, a person can only eat so many turkey sandwiches.

Triptophanic sandwiches be damned.

This recipe is one that doesn't require bread or mayo (thank god). Both of us like having this for an after Thanksgiving (or even after Thanksgiving Eve) dinner. What I like is that it's one or two clicks removed from being too Thanksgiving-y, yet still firmly rooted in autumn. You'll be doing yourself a favor if you use a really smoky, high quality bacon in this dish. Here is a printable version of the recipe at

Turkey & Sweet Potato Hash
by Allison Ehri Kreitler
  • 3 oz. bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/3-inch-wide pieces (about 3 slices)
  • 1 small yellow onion, small diced
  • 2 cups medium-small-diced (about 1/3 inch) sweet potatoes (1 medium potato)
  • 1 cup leftover turkey broth or low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 cups leftover white and dark roasted turkey meat with skin, roughly chopped
  • 1 heaping Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbs. maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper; more to taste
  • A few dashes Tabasco or other hot sauce; more to taste
  • Kosher salt
Cook the bacon in a 10-inch skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a medium bowl. Pour off and discard all but 1 Tbs. fat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, broth, and butter to the onions. Simmer, uncovered, until the sweet potatoes are just barely tender, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile mix the turkey, parsley, maple syrup, rosemary, pepper, and Tabasco with the bacon.

When the potatoes are barely tender, add the turkey mixture to the skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, firmly patting the hash down and then occasionally flipping, scraping the bottom of the pan with a metal spatula and patting down again, until the broth has completely evaporated and the hash is nicely browned, about 8 minutes (reduce the heat if the hash is browning too quickly). Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Great Pumpkin

The Great Pumpkin Sundae

I broke tradition last week when I traveled to Philadelphia and ate dessert at the BEST ice cream shop in the United States, the Franklin Fountain. You see, I'm addicted to their Maple Walnut ice cream waffle sandwich (topped with whipped cream, of course). I get it every time I go there. However, when we visited this past summer, the manager told us about their "Great Pumpkin Sundae." He described it as Pumpkin ice cream, salted pecans, caramel sauce, whipped cream and malt powder and it was only available in the Fall. He made it sound so good that for a brief moment I wished that I was transported from 90 degree, sweltering Philly weather into the crisp, chilled autumn air just so I could have that sundae.

Well, I was lucky enough to get to The Franklin Fountain this October and I had to try the Great Pumpkin Sundae. In a word, fantastic! When I returned home I immediately went to work on re-creating their masterpiece...I'm still toying with finding the best Pumpkin Pie ice cream recipe. While there, I did snag a jar of their Caramel Sauce (along with 3 jars of Peanut Butter sauce for use on other sundaes). I made my own salted pecans and whipped cream (absent from this photo)and topped it off with the malt powder. This combo is great and tops plain old pumpkin pie any day. Thank you Franklin Fountain for spoiling me!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Zilla is a Thrilla!

I think as a child everyone has an image in their head as to what communion tastes like. The Catholics believe it is body of Christ.

The body of Christ?!?!? Well, if that's the case it's got to taste good, right?

Wrong. If I was served bread like that at a restaurant - it would be sent back. Who came up with the recipe? Better yet, who said, "That's it. That's the master recipe, dude! Every Sunday for the rest of your life - right there!"

Obviously the whole thing can be a bit confusing for a youngster. The bread doesn't actually taste like bread. And the idea of taking a Christ, popping him in your mouth, and then chewing on him can be a bit unsettling.

So what did I think it tasted like? As a casual observer one can see that the host is this light and airy sort of disk. In fact, there really isn't much taste to it all. *Darn!*

It took me until my thirty-eighth year to finally figure out what I thought the body of Christ should taste like - the chicharrones from Ryan Farr at 4505 Meats!

I had heard rave reviews about the 'Zilla Dog at the 4505 Meats stand at the Ferry Building Farmers Market. Since it is my duty to hunt such things down, I slapped my money down and walked away marveling at how I was going to attack this beast.

The 'Zilla is a Thrilla

The 'Zilla Dog consists of an uncured bacon filled hot dog, topped with kimchi, money sauce, and the body of Christlike 4505 chicharrones. Let me start with the hot dog. I'd be interested in trying the dog on its own just because the deliciousness of the other elements overshadowed it. The kimchi was not the rough cut clumsy stuff you typically see people serving - the rendition served here is cut into thin strips similar to that of a cole slaw. Thankfully they utilized the leafier parts of the cabbage which didn't take up a lot of space. The money sauce I lost the notes on what was in it, but it's very complimentary to the whole creation.

....and then there's the chicharrrrrrrrrrrrrrrones. (You damn well better be rolling your tongue when you say it, too.)

Big woop, dude, thy're pork rinds. So what?

If you order pork rinds, chicharrones, cranklins, whatever you want to call them, they're typically dusted with some sort of spice and then served. (They're also usually very obnoxious in size.) Like the kimchi, these were cut into a scalable size relative to the hot dog (one inch strips that were no longer than maybe three inches ) -very bite sized and easily eaten. But the flavor of these were unlike any I'd had before. It was a very subtle combination of sugar and seasoning. They hit your tongue and then seemingly melted away.

After finishing the dog I made a beeline for the individual bags of porky deliciousness and savored them one at a time. As I sat and watched the stroller tide roll into the market and gum up the foot traffic, I thought, "Damn, now this is what communion should taste like!"

Bag Full O Pork Skin

If you're coming to San Francisco make sure you check the website to see what classes he's offering. I missed a sausage making class by two days that would've been awesome to go to. The farmers market is only on Thursday and Saturday, so make sure you set aside one of those days for lunch plans.

If you'd like to buy some of the 4505 chicharrones or even the hot dogs, Bi Rite Market sells them.

4505 Meats
1 Ferry Bldg
San Francisco, CA 94111

4505 Meats on Urbanspoon

Bi Rite Market
3639 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94110

Monday, November 8, 2010

Native Clevelander Andrew Carmellini

Ask most people around here to name a native Clevelander who has won both a James Beard award as well as made a headline appearance on Iron Chef, and most will tell you Michael Symon - which would be correct. But if you asked them to name the second one they might not know who you were talking about. I can't say that I'd blame them since he hasn't worked in this town in quite a while. This person is, of course, Andrew Carmellini.

I'm not going to go into too much detail, since I've raved a few times before about this guy. He heads up the venerable Locanda Verde in NYC and wrote a cookbook aptly named Urban Italian. I've attached a really well done article that goes out to all Padua alumni (my wife). It's a very well written article with references to Dante Boccuzzi, some Cleveland restaurants, and in one of the photos is Shaker's own Karen DeMasco (Craft of Baking and creator of the unbelievably awesome Maple Budino).

If you haven't picked up Urban Italian, I suggest it even if you just read the stories. There's a tale that involves the Italian countryside, mushrooms, and prostitutes that is priceless. Besides telling a good story, AC can write the hell out of a recipe. I made these pork chops a few years ago and just love them.

I have to say that I'm very excited about the news of the new restaurant opening next month (The Dutch), as well as the upcoming cookbook (American Flavor).

I know it's hard, but try not to hate on him for the Yankees cap (one of the pictures in the article).

Click here for the article

Monday, November 1, 2010

San Francisco Joe

Make sure to check here for more San Francisco posts

A post about Joe Montana? Not quite (although Regina did see him shopping a Whole Foods in SF).

No, this is actually about my morning vacation coffee hunt - San Francisco Edition.

I drink two cups of coffee a day. By cups I'm not referring to measuring cups, but two separate acts of either buying or making coffee. So when I'm on vacay there's a fairly high probability that I'm going to sample a decent variety of the area's coffee shops.

Like most junkies of the java, I need a quick hit to get me started in the morning. Often times I find myself pounding the pavement for my coffee crack unbathed and disheveled.

While we were staying at the Le Petit Auberge, the Blue Bottle Cafe down at the Mint St location was really the only place I was interested in going. If you haven't been, you've got to stop in just to see the elaborate coffee making stuff they have at that location. Monday through Friday morning lines can be excruciatingly long.

I felt their cappuccino was better than their drip coffee relative to other high end coffee houses. The staff is very focused on what they're doing and seems aloof to the fact that people want things to move faster. Any gripe will more than likely fall on deaf ears. "It takes as long as it takes", seems to be the order of the day. I only went to Mint St. on the weekend and lines were certainly much shorter in the morning.

Blue Bottle Cafe
66 Mint St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 495-3394

Blue Bottle Cafe on Urbanspoon

If you want long lines on the weekend just head down to the outlet down at the Ferry Building. I was in line for what was easily 20-30 minutes. If you simply want a coffee I would encourage you to go to one of the kiosks around the building. If not, be prepared to wait a while. The outpost inside the Ferry Building actually has two counters and the lines are still monster. The Mint St. location (if it's on your way to the market) is a better bet on the weekends (I think).

Blue Bottle Coffee
1 Ferry Bldg
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 983-8000

Blue Bottle Coffee on Urbanspoon

The hipster-centric Four Barrel Coffee down in Mission gets a lot love from local coffee heads. I found the staff friendlier than Blue Bottle. I only went here once but found the drip coffee to be comparable to Blue Bottle. Was there a noticeable difference between the two? If there is, I didn't notice. The interior of the space is a made of rough hewn wood and industrial steel, with a music volume and selection that sets a great vibe.

Four Barrel Coffee
375 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 252-0800

Four Barrel Coffee on Urbanspoon

When we moved to the Parker Guest House over on Church St, I decided to give Philz Coffee a shot. As you walk into the store you're not really sure where the line starts or how exactly to pay. After sitting back and watching for a few minutes, it becomes obvious that you have to go to the counter where the baristas are. After getting over the initial shock of all the different coffees and the price ($3.50 I think), I was walked through the process by barista.

She made the drip coffee right there in front of me and when finished asked if it suited my taste. Judging by her question I'm guessing Philz will either redo it or somehow adjust the taste. I had the Tesora which reminded me a lot of the Corsica blend from La Colombe in Philadelphia. The pleasing chocolatey flavor never left that slight bitter charred flavor at the back of your tongue that you seem to get with so many of these higher end coffees. This particular blend seemed to match the comfortable familiarity you felt just being in the store itself.

The staff here is by far the friendliest of everywhere I went. The girl at the bakery counter saw I had just been to Dynamo Donut and had a three minute conversation about their infamous Monte Cristo (the sandwich not the cigar) doughnut. She's heard about it, but never actually had one because they're always out of them by the time she gets off of work.

The interior is classic coffee house. A large, well used seating area sits off to the left of the entrance. The coffee making area and bakery case are to the right. There's something about Philz that makes you feel comfortable. Maybe it's the lack of hipsters. Maybe it's the friendly staff. While the prices are all on the high side, they all seem to be in the same ballpark.

While I didn't have any bad experiences at any of these coffee shops, I thought Philz was bar far the best tasting and friendliest service. I don't need someone to act like my best friend when ordering a cup of coffee, but the experience is greatly enhanced when you're able to have a sincere exchange with the person behind the counter. Philz Coffee was the hands down winner for me. If 24th St is not near where you are, there are also locations in the Castro, SOMA, and City Hall.

Philz Coffee
3101 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 282-9155

Philz Coffee on Urbanspoon