Sunday, October 27, 2013

Our Cod is an awesome Cod

Waterzooi: the Belgian bouillabaise.

While this was leek-ier than I intended--note to self: recipes probably do not intuit that you're buying massive farmers market leeks when they call for "three leeks"--it was also incredibly good. The soup is traditionally thickened with heavy cream and egg yolks. I slimmed it down a bit by going for olive oil instead of butter and just a little whole milk and egg.

Professional chef I am not. It took awhile to messily
julienne all these vegetables... and the unpictured leeks.

Best paired with a local Hudson Valley dry cider!
I slimmed it down for the wallet by buying on-sale cod instead of the halibut or mixed seafood traditionally used in the dish. The stew was definitely less rich than a waterzooi should be, I suppose, but it got the point across. I still put in saffron, so it still counts as fancy! Other reasons to use the cheap fish: dropping $15 on many, many apples at the Greenmarket. Crazy? Maybe.

I bought enough for a dense, moist apple cake based on a recipe from the Talk About Good Louisiana Junior League cookbook*...

Hard not to eat off the crispy top before even turning out
the cake. Sort of wish I'd glazed it with honey, too.

Warm, moist, spicy delicious.

So. Much. Chopping.
..and still have enough for my newly annual apple tasting. I'm holding myself back to two or three apples a day, so here's the progress so far (with quarters for size reference).

Ashby: Meh. The thick, tart skin was the best part, but the flesh was rubbery and the taste not all that distinct from a Golden Delicious.

Baldwin: Aside from being quite pretty, this one had an interesting, creamy undertone with hints of melon.

Black Twig: Generic, but not in a bad way. It was... an apple, but as fresh and apple-y an apple as you could ever wish for. Unfortunately, it looks like a Mackintosh, which puts me off because those are mushy and gross.

Winter Banana: I've mentioned these before, and they were just as delicious this time around.

*Nope, not kidding whatsoever.

Friday, October 25, 2013

One year without an accident

This is a fascinating case. This is a heartbreaking case. Read them both!

It's been a year since a gigantic hurricane munched its way through Manhattan. Imagine that! In commemoration, I am going to turn on my heat and cook a meal using all that delightfully uninterrupted electricity.

I've got a little pasta conundrum. Rolling out fresh pasta is an exhausting chore, one for which I would appreciate some mechanical assistance. Unfortunately, the KitchenAid stand mixer pasta attachment is very expensive, but a cheap twenty-to-thirty-dollar pasta roller takes up more room than we have. Time to put some muscle in it.

These pappardelle are not thin enough. Fortunately, they're still tasty with roasted shaved brussels sprouts, anchovy and garlic oil, shaved pecorino, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

I'm a glutton for punishment, sooo... ravioli next week?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Thank you for smoking

My mother is a nurse in a low-acuity PACU in Colorado. Hospitals, like happy families, are all alike--for instance, all nurses' lounges accumulate little treats on the desk that, unless clearly labeled, are assumed to be fair game. So it was not unusual that Mom, upon seeing some gum in a cute little package on a desk at the nurses' station, took out two pieces and chowed down. It was unusual that she shortly thereafter became tremulous, diaphoretic, tachycardic, nauseated, lightheaded... and discovered the gum was nicotine gum. She got so sick she had to end her shift early and, after a period of significant discomfort, crash in a recovery chair (per my copy of Goldfrank's*, nicotine causes a biphasic reaction with first activating, then sedating symptoms). Her supportive care consisted of supine positioning, sleep, and ginger ale. Go on, laugh; I certainly did, at least as soon as she assured me she was fine.

Speaking of terrible things that can happen to your lungs, I searched for a picture of "currant jelly sputum" online and got this little guy:

Armadillos may carry leprosy, but Klebsiella? Not to my knowledge. A quick click explained everything.

And speaking of what not to do: do not use the last of your cultured butter to make hollandaise sauce. It will taste like delicious fresh buttermilk, but it will not go well on youcrêpes with goat cheese, capers, and crispy kale chiffonade.

Before you criticize me for not folding the crêpes into neat triangles comme on fait en France, please note that in the background was another cooking crêpe and rapidly cooling hollandaise. Nevertheless, I wish I'd done this as a savory mille-crêpe filled with whipped goat cheese instead of pastry cream. Next time!

Also, before next time, I'm shelling out for an offset spatula.

*Despite the fact that I ultimately chose neurology, the authors of this textbook remain some of the clinicians I admire the most. Toxicologists are very smart and have lots of fun with what they do while also being very good at it.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

American as.

As regular readers of this blog (read: my in-laws) may or may not be aware, I. Love. Fruit, apples most of all! Conveniently, next weekend is Applepalooza, to which I was clued in by tonight's fantastic cider tasting, courtesy of the NYSoM Food and Wine Club. A witty and intelligent "drink nerd" named David talked us through five ciders, from a very sour Sarasola Sagardoa to the caramel sweet Eden ice cider (made like ice wine). I learned so much, and now I desperately want to try making one of my beloved whiskey sours with a dry or off-dry cider (local or Spanish). Alternatively, I want to drink lots of the Eden, or use it to make a caramel sauce to go over an apple and blue cheese galette. Would aficionados consider that a waste of fine cider?

After the tasting, I bibilously brought half a glass of an off-dry, sour cider upstairs to incidentally pair with tonight's dinner of tortilla.

No, not that kind. This kind:

I actually like my tortilla to be lighter on the eggs than the traditional. This recipe manages to be substantial with anything from 4 to 6 eggs. Chorizo (or Field Roast (TM) brand vegetarian chorizo) is amazing in this, with a little less oil and a little more parsley.

1.5 lbs russet or baby red potatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
2 small Spanish onions, sliced thinly.
olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
4-6 eggs

Heat a good amount of olive oil in a heavy skillet. Toss the potatoes in the hot oil, cover, and let cook for 5 minutes; toss, cover, and let cook for 5 more minutes. Repeat until the slices have been uniformly cooked until tender, but with some bite (e.g. not quite fully cooked) in the hot oil. Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and add the onions. Cook just until they begin to soften. In a springform pan (or in the drained skillet), concentrically place 2 layers of potato slices. Salt, pepper, and paprika liberally. Evenly spread the onions and parsley on top of that, spice again, and pour over the beaten eggs (optional: reserve some of the egg to pour over the top just before baking ends). Layer the remainder of the potatoes, and spice again. Bake in a 375 F oven for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked and crispy, pouring the reserved eggs over the top in the last 3 minutes of cooking if desired.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Also newsflash

Orange-flavored psyllium husk + vanilla-flavored protein powder + fat-free Greek yogurt doesn't taste like a Creamsicle either.

More like a Creamsicle than the death liquid from a couple days ago, I guess.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Orange-flavored psyllium husk + vanilla-flavored whey protein powder does not taste like a Creamsicle. It tastes like evil. That is all.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pulaski > Crusher

There was that little bump in the road with Dr. Pulaski at first refusing to acknowledge Data as a sentient Starfleet officer equal to any flesh-and-blood sentient Starfleet officer. Otherwise, she smokes Dr. Crusher in every way: she can recite Klingon literature from memory, demonstrates her knowledge of technology-independent medical care in the second-season episode "Contagion," and has a snarky sense of humor that dovetails neatly with her firm-but-caring bedside manner. And, in a little human touch, she's afraid of the transporter. That beats out noblebright, tap-dancing Beverly in every way, in my opinion.

The important stuff being out of the way, I can keep talking about butter.

I've written about brioche before, but that brioche did not incorporate homemade buttermilk and cultured butter. This one does, which makes it strictly better. I was brainstorming things to make from the approximately 1 kilo of dough this recipe yielded. Brioche buns stuffed with caramelized onions and sage, brioche pain perdu, brioche cinnamon rolls, brioche crostini... brioche crostini!

Remember the whole "sorry" thing? I'm very sorry that I didn't smoke my own salmon for this. Andy told me to shut up and make more crostini.

Brioche salmon things

I used this recipe for the dough, except with fresh buttermilk instead of the whole milk, a little over 6 oz of salted cultured butter, and a little less salt. The dough will taste very sugary; while the end product is not as sweet, you may want to reduce the sugar if you know you'll be using the bread for a savory recipe.

To bake: generously butter the cups of a muffin tin. Remove the dough from the fridge and gently deflate it. Fill each muffin cup half to two-thirds of the way to the top with dough, working quickly while it's cool and malleable. Allow to rise in a not-too-warm place until the dough just crests the top of the cups.

Preheat the oven to 425 F. About 5 minutes before baking, brush the tops of the brioches with egg yolk beaten with a little buttermilk or melted butter; just before you put them in the oven, brush them again. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, or until the tops are a deep golden brown. Remove from the tin and cool completely before using as below.

Cut the mini brioches into 1-inch-thick slices, reserving the domed tops for bread pudding (or snacking). If you like, brush the tops of the slices with butter and broil until golden brown and crispy. Slice the cucumber into quarter-inch slices and pat dry. Lay a cucumber slice on each brioche slice. Pipe on some fat-free Greek yogurt or other thick yogurt (or sour cream, or crème fraîche, or slightly softened cream cheese, but I personally think that's way too rich) and sprinkle liberally with chives. Top with a rosette of smoked salmon, lox, or sushi-grade raw salmon, and finish it off with a fine grating of lemon zest and some cracked black pepper. If using raw salmon, also add a sprinkling of coarse sea salt. Other options: using fresh dill instead of (or in addition to ) the chives; add on chopped smoked or raw almonds for crunch.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


I apologize frequently. Very frequently. Things I have apologized for in the past 24 hours or so include:

1. Someone running into me
2. Not having exact change for a sandwich
3. Not knowing Andy's favorite dessert category wasn't cookies and making him dozens of cookies over the years instead of "dense cakes."

That third one is particularly rich (ba-dum *tsssss*). Seriously, though, I've been putting together pastries and cookies and pies to the deliberate exclusion of cake, and then the other shoe drops. Time to make cake after cake after cake in penance! Or I could make everything but cake, including more pastries and cookies and biscuits. But wait, I have an excuse!

Despite the advice of this book, I like to make butter. With butter, ricotta, and other mild dairy products, the labor is worth the pure, fresh flavor of the resulting product. One day, when I'm an attending and my loans are paid off*, I will buy fancy local milk and make butter and ricotta and clotted cream that will have that grassy, sunshiney flavor of quality dairy.

Until then, though, I'm using Fairway's conveniently on-sale heavy cream and Greek yogurt to make cultured butter. Technically, cultured butter uses fermented cream**, but I took the hasty American route and mixed the cream and yogurt, then left it for about 24 hours in a warm-ish corner of my apartment before whipping it, draining off the amazingly delicious fresh buttermilk, and washing, salting, and pressing the final product.

I used the butter and fresh buttermilk to make biscuits, and then I used more of the butter to make galettes bretonnes. These very simple butter cookies are made in--surprise, surprise--Bretagne, using the region's traditional salted butter. Nothing coming out of a miniscule galley kitchen could possibly measure up to beurre en Bretagne, which is one of the most delicious things I've ever tasted. Nevertheless, I deemed my product acceptably rich and tangy for use in these cookies, whose sole purpose is to show off the flavor of the butter with which they are made.

Galettes bretonnes
250 g cake or pastry flour
100 g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
140 g cultured butter (or 100 g regular butter + 20 g sour cream), very cold
1 egg
for glazing: 1 egg or 3 tbsp melted butter
sea salt for sprinkling

Mix together the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or food processor, crumb the butter with the dry ingredients. Add egg and mix. If the dough does not quite stick together, drizzle in buttermilk or sour cream, for a maximum of about 1 tablespoon. Chill the dough for 2 hours, or until very firm.

Working in small batches, roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut using a biscuit or cookie cutter; traditionally, these cookies are pressed, but who (except my in-laws) has a cookie press lying around the house? Prick with a fork all over and brush with whichever glaze you choose. Bake at 375 F for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

There's still half a pound of butter left. Butter-poached vegetables, anyone?

*Did you know that in Canada, med school costs between $3,000 and $22,000 a year, and fourth-year (or third-year, in the case of three-year programs) students receive a small stipend from the Ministry of Health?
**a.k.a. crème fraîche or smetana or viili or leben or amasi or... basically, many world cultures have intriguing varieties of fermented dairy. Maybe one day I'll have a chance to try kumis.