salad with shrimp





Dressing:

• Anchovy smashed into side of bowl
• Egg yolk
• Lemon juice
• Dijon style mustard
• S/P
• Olive oil drizzled and whisked in

The shrimp was not actually boiled. The shrimp is frozen and large. It was peeled while still partially frozen and dumped into boiling water and removed from the heat immediately. Being still frozen, it lowered the water temperature to below boiling. Removed from water before it was fully cooked through. Chopped. The chopped pieces were returned to the hot water just to the point of a change to their internal color. Since they were chopped pieces it was easy to observe this. It took only a minute, possibly less. They were removed as soon as the inside turned white from opaque.

I have this thing about not overcooking seafood. I'm a maniac about it. A lot of people where I live object to this. They consider shrimp undercooked if it doesn't bounce off the table. Of course they're wrong, but there's absolutely no telling them otherwise. This is a point of frustration for me. [Anecdote here.]

fruit salad








gyros breakfast


Well, here we have it, four present obsessions at once. New American breakfast featuring an absence of grain, nineteenth in a series; thin slices of meatloaf with pretensions of being gyros and doing a darn good job of it too; Hollandaise sauce just for fun of it and in imitation of eggs Benedict instead of the expected tzatziki, and made with a portion of coconut oil in place butter and with a touch of Worcestershire aaaand properly capitalized in due respect to Holland, pfffft; with a poached egg on top. POW! A party right there.

Poached eggs take a bit of technique. I am now sufficiently confident to show it.

I think the trick is both vinegar and salt. I've found vinegar itself doesn't hold the white together, neither does salt by itself. but both together, BAM ! Dayidiz: albumen cohesion. Oddly, I have only expensive vinegars. Using a tiny shallow pan conserves vinegar. I'm cheap that way.


Man, oh man, sometimes my camera acts up and refuses to do anything. It always freaks me out because there's no clear reason for it and no reliable fix. I noticed something too: it always happens right at the worst possible moment -- right when I'm trying to take a picture.


Butter mixed with coconut oil and heated to melting. Slowly drizzled into egg yolk plus flavorings while whisking. Poured too fast. Failed to thicken. Doesn't really matter because it's to be heated to 145℉ / 65℃ whereupon it thickens like ... thickens like ... pudding! Tangy, eggy, Worcestershire-y pudding.




I really ought to take the bite off these raw onions. I don't know what's wrong with me. All I have to do is rinse them or zap them a few seconds in the microwave, but I never do. Now I have the most obnoxious onion breath. Hang on.


* brushes teeth *


There. Better.



baked oysters with tomato




Breadcrumbs mixed with Parmigiano Reggiano. As always, use real Parmigiano from Parma. If you're inclined to use the imitation stuff in the green cylinder then just stop reading right now. You would be considered unteachable and I cannot help you.

If I had spinach I would have used it. Alas, for I am forlornly spinachless. I thought diced Roma tomatoes would be pretty good, but they're not. My bad. My next batch will have spinach/cream/garlic. This just doesn't cut it. Nice try, but no cigar.

* I used lemon juice directly on the oysters and lemon zest mixed with the breadcrumbs.
* Dry Italian seasoning mixed with the topping.
* A few drops Worcestershire directly on each oyster following a few drops of lemon.
* Diced tomato plus diced onion following the drops
* Dry topping on top of tomato/onion.
* Insufficiently salty. I thought the Parmigiano would be enough salt but it wasn't.
* It needed something so at the table I added drops of Sriracha (Asian version of Tabasco) but even that didn't help much.
* I didn't have enough rock salt to steady the oysters. Thought I had a whole box but it was over half empty.
* Baked at 350℉ / 175℃ for 20 minutes. They were barely cooked. I would say, perfectly cooked.

What I learned: I'm a terrible oyster shucker. Those little bastards are hard to open. I didn't come out of it completely unscathed either. Had to bash one open with a hammer. Used a knife and a heavy flat-head screwdriver for leverage, then cut the abductor muscle. I think I lost a good deal of the oyster liquor by my clumsy fumbling and by the need to remove shell fragments chipped by my inexpert oyster opening. This is not a task for the faint-hearted or for easy-bleeders for that matter.

I gotta up my game.

Mind, I'm not complaining here, just describing. I did devour this whole pile, which I'm certain qualifies me as a proper pig.



rice, gyros meatloaf, poached egg


This is my latest obsession; poached egg on everything. Poached egg on my bread, poached egg on handmade pasta, poached egg on popcorn kernel polenta, poached egg on meatloaf, poached egg on rice. Poached egg here, poached there, poached egg every dadgum where. Today's poached egg was particularly well-behaved.

Simmering water covering a few inches of a low fry pan. A few tablespoons vinegar into the water. An egg cracked into a ramekin. The egg gently dumped at once into the center of the pan. It held together so beautifully today, and that's not always the case.

Did I ever tell you the story of one of my Magnalite pans? True story: Magnalite went out of business through honoring their 100 year warranty without contention. People turned in pans for every little thing even when the problem was their own fault. Like mine. I left the pan on the burner on HIGH then became distracted. The thing was red hot when I realized I nearly burned down the whole building. Warped the bottom of the pan. Now there's a little bowl shape on the bottom of the exceedingly heavy near cast-iron pan. The pan no longer fits flatly on a burner, but that indentation does come in handy for things like poached egg.

This lamb/pork/beef mixture is too much like meatloaf. The last batch was too dry and insufficiently adhesive. It's a texture thing. The flavor is spot on but the texture is wrong. My next attempt will be different. I intend to process the meats with a slicer and use meatloaf adhesion techniques, except with thinly sliced meat. If that appears to not work, then I'll process further using the bottom chopping blade, but careful not to over process. Then compress. No stacked slices, no grinding. Then see what happens.

Gravy whipped out in a separate pan, at this point rather boring.

* butter brought to nutty brown.
* equal part A/P flour cooked in the butter until browned
* S/P + garlic powder + prepared Vindaloo curry + cayenne pepper all in scant amount
* chicken broth whisked in and added in continuous stream until desired viscosity attained with corrections as it boils. I should have added wine, or at least saki or something, beer, anything, I mean, it's always right there.

bûche de février










See what I did there? Bûche de noel, except it's February, on account of it not being Christmas. February log.


Cop out. This is boxed cake and prepared frosting. Hey, it's an experiment, okay?

Meringue mushrooms piped out onto a Silpat covered baking sheet. Baked at 250℉ / 120℃ for about an hour and a half.

Meringue.
* 3 egg whites whipped to stiff peaks with
* 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
* 1/3 cup cane sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla

The mushroom caps are squished out rather flatly, the stems pulled up rather tall. Just do best you can manage. Press down the peaks with a wet finger, should peaks form which they probably will. Otherwise your mushrooms will have pointed peaks and that's just wrong! Kidding. Actually, you can cut off the peaks of the stems once they're sufficiently dried in order to create a flat surface for the ganache glue to adhere to the bottom of the cap.

Smear ganache or plain ol' melted chocolate onto the bottoms of the caps like mushroom gills, and onto the top of the stems and glue together. Position upside down to help the chocolate set. Mind, the chocolate is merely melted, not tempered, so the bond will not be as strong but it'll suffice for this. Incidentally, these little vanilla meringue mushrooms with spots of chocolate are oddly delicious, in a cotton candy sort of way. Kids would really dig 'em. I recommend making extras just in case you goof. Plus they're fun.

Ganache.

* 1/4 cup chocolate chips
* 1/6 or so cup milk. Cream would be better but I don't have any of that right now.
* Zap for 20 or so seconds until the milk foams. Stir. At first it looks hopeless, but keep stirring until all the milk (or cream) is incorporated. It takes a little while for it to complete. If it's too thin, then add a little more chocolate chips while it's still warm. The chocolate need only be a few degrees warmer than body temperature for this to work so don't overdo it with the zapping. Zap, of course means microwave. If you don't have one of those, then a few seconds on the stovetop should do it. Just enough to get the liquid warmer than your body, which should be about 100℉ / 38℃ or a little bit more. This is the thing about chocolate; it's a gentle art.

The real cake for this sort of thing is a Génoise or another type of sponge cake, and the real frosting is a buttercream, but I didn't bother with that because I'm not trying to impress anybody I just wanted to try my hand at meringue mushrooms and to see if I could come close. This is what I learned: I need to get a few larger platters. I have a few that are silver but they're a pain in the butt. I have about eight inches of extra rolled cake that didn't fit on my platter. I also learned this boxed cake is a little bit too tender. I need something sturdier. Also, those meringue mushrooms don't last forever. I have no idea how to protect them for anywhere longer than, say, a day. But all in all, in'nit it purdy?

Dust the finished mushrooms with cocoa once they're stuck to the log.

You know, this is probably neat-0 for little kids but honestly I cannot see any improvement over regular stacked cake. It'll probably be a bother to transport, cut, serve, store, etc. Maybe something with an ice cream or jelly center would be interesting. Too, meringue cookies baked with a little flour and chopped nuts and tipped with chocolate would be even better than these mushrooms, which after half a dozen or so become a bit cloying.


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