Thursday, April 26, 2012

Confessions Of A Foodie...

When I totaled up my foodie moments from this week, I was astonished at just how many I’ve had.

20 to be exact and it’s only Thursday!

Bon Appetit!

Discovered Two New White Wines I Love
I stray from the same- old- same- old and try at least one new wine every week.
Bonus week: Score two!

Lunch at Soulwich in Evanston
It’s been called a bahn mi on steroids but there is massive flavor in this HUGE sandwich which was two meals for me. I did the Pork Indonesian Ginger BBQ with Pear juice, Sesame Oil, Fresh Ginger, Garlic and Soy Sauce. My only complaint? Too many carrots.

Lucky Tab from Heaven on Seven…not to mention a bowl of killer gumbo.
If you don’t walk away from this restaurant loving the Gumbo, you had better at least get a tab like this one. Time to run over to the corner store and play Powerball.

Short Trip to Chocolate Lovers Corner in Chicago.
Chestnut & Pearson. Temptation any which way you turn.

Meringued In Highwood
Tried so many recipes but so much easier just to buy at The Gourmet Frog…a Froggy’s kitchen in Highwood.
Breakfast at Tweet’s... As Seen On My iphone
When asked by NBC News anchor Brian Williams about a camera recommendation, Annie Leibovitz, the famous portrait photographer ,made an unexpected recommendation: the iPhone. I used it in a pinch today because I forget my camera battery.

Bunuelos At Maxwell Street
From the Blue Churro Truck at Maxwell Street Market. A perfect mid-morning treat…with a little sugar on it!

Had a Julia and Jacques Moment
I get lost in this 1999 cookbook where techniques are a long, hard study but so worth the results.

Florentines From Tag’s Bakery
Flawless buttery caramel, almonds and dark, dark chocolate. Hello Indulgence…Goodbye Self Control!

Baked Sue Zemanick’s Cobbler
New Orleans Gautreaus chef Sue Zemanick made this easy cobbler that is deliciously full of fresh fruits. I cooked it just a bit too long so watch your cooking time. It went from almost done to overdone in a matter of minutes.

2 pints strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 pint blueberries
1 cup sugar – divided
1 tbsp cornstarch
¾ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 egg
¼ cup milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a bowl combine berries, 1/3 cup plus 2 tsp sugar and cornstarch. Let sit 10 minutes.

In another bowl, mix flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder, and salt.

In a third bowl, stir egg, milk, vanilla and butter. Add dry ingredients. Stir well.

Place six 6-oz ramekins on a baking sheet. Divide fruit evenly and top with a few spoonfuls of batter.

Bake 25-30 minutes, until tops are golden brown.
A Layer of Olive Relish
My dad loved olive relish.It’s a base for salami and cheese and adds an interesting layer of flavor to ordinary hors d'oeuvres.

30 Minute Lamb Osso Buco
My new pressure cooker by Fagor is the best cooking investment I’ve made all year. I loved this recipe bursting with fresh vegetables and the lamb tastes more like I slow cooked it for hours in the oven.

4 lamb shanks
½ cup flour
1 TBSP olive oil
2 slices bacon, diced
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz. can tomatoes, diced and drained
3 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tsp grated orange zest
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 TBSP tomato paste
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 cup beef stock
½ cup red wine

Place flour in large plastic bag. Flour Shanks. Shake off excess.

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add bacon and cook 30 seconds. Add lamb shanks and brown. Remove and set aside.

Add onions, fennel, red pepper, carrots, celery and garlic and cook about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients to pot and place lamb shank on top.

Place lid on cooker and bring to high pressure, then lower heat and cook 30-35 minutes. Release pressure and serve.

Serve over polenta or mashed potatoes.

My Sweet Foodie Moment: An Ice Cream Sundae
Your favorite toffee can make any treat turn into an lasting obsession.

Gardening Class at Williams Sonoma
Confession: I have a brown thumb.
Let’s see if anything from this gardening class sticks. If I have plants popping up in a week or so, I’ll attempt to grow some herbs and vegetables of my own this summer.

Cheese Cake from Patisserie P
Peter Yuen is the upshot from the Four Seasons and Hotel Sofitel Chicago. His Asian & French pastries are on my normal Argyle route when I am shopping for Asian food. Beyond amazing.

Slow Cooked the Perfect Pork Shoulder
To me, Pork shoulder is the perfect cut. I’ve cooked it a hundred ways and this method is by far the easiest and one of the most inviting. Coat with sugar, salt and pepper and pop it in the oven for 6 hours. It will come out perfect every time.

Do not cover as it creates the most sublime outer crust.

3-4 pound pork shoulder
1 Tbsp sugar per pound of pork
1/2 Tbsp kosher salt per pound of pork
a few pinches of ground black pepper

Prepare the pork the night before: rub with sugar, salt and pepper. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator over-night.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F - this is a low and slow method of cooking and totally worth it!
Place pork in a roasting pan and put in the oven. Do not cover.
Cook for 6 hours.
When it's finished cooking, let stand for 30 minutes and then pull, or shred, with two forks
Mixed Not One, Not Two But Three New Classic Margaritas
Got to get a jump on summer!

I was told when I made this first recipe to note how the cocktail smells before I shake it. I would learn to make Margaritas by the smell. I thought they were crazy but when I took a whiff, I knew exactly what they were talking about. This had the scent of a great Margarita and it was.

I really like the taste of the simple syrup – which I made myself – and the agave syrup. I used a little less agave syrup in the second recipe and it was perfect.

The third recipe came about when I was out of limes and the combination of the one lime I had along with a lemon and a little orange liqueur resulted in my new favorite summer drink.

You don’t need Triple Sec for a perfect Margarita.
Ok – I said it!

The New Classic Margarita
1 1/2 oz Tequila
1 1/2 oz fresh Lime Juice
1 oz Simple Syrup (equal parts of sugar and water microwaved for 15 seconds)
3 dashes Orange Bitters
Kosher salt or sea salt for the rim

Rub the rim of an old fashioned glass with an edge of a lime slice and kosher or sea salt to salt the rim. Add one or two large cubes into the glass.
Combine tequila, lime juice, simple syrup, and bitters in an ice filled shaker.

Shake vigorously for 15 seconds, then strain into the salted glass.
Agave Margarita
Kosher Salt
2 lime slices
¼ cup tequila
2 TBSP. agave syrup (I used half because I like my Margaritas on the sour side)
2 TBSP fresh lime juice

Salt rim of glass.

Combine tequila, agave syrup and juice in a cocktail shaker (I actually use a small Mason Jar). Fill with ice and shake well.

Tequila Salud
¼ cup tequila
1 tbsp agave syrup
Juice of one lemon
Juice of one lime
Splash of Patron orange liqueur

Put all in a shaker jar with ice. Shake and pour in a salted glass.

Simmered Pho Broth
This is a work in progress. I’m trying to achieve the same depth and rich flavor of Inovasi’s… which is this week’s favorite addiction.

Progress:
-I use beef bones
-I brown the bones in a 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes
-I pack the bones in the stockpot and cover with cold water.
-Bring the stock to a simmer and cook for about 24 hours.
-About 15-30 minutes before the stock is ready to serve, I add a handful of shallots that have been peeled roasted until completely black and 6" of peeled, ginger that has also been roasted on the gas burner until black
-4-6 star anise, 3 cardamom, 4 clove, 12 peppercorns
-About 5 minutes before the soup is done I add fish sauce  to taste


Made a Lemon-Yogurt Icebox Tart With Cream Cheese Crust
I loved when my mom made her famous Lemon Ice Box pie. This variation was really wonderful with the greek yogurt, lemon curd and cream cheese crust.

2 1/2 cups (12.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (optional, leave out if making a savory pie)
8 ounces cold cream cheese
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
2-4 teaspoons cold water

Makes 2 crusts

Pour the flour, salt, and sugar (if using) into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Cut the cold cream cheese and cold butter into large pieces and sprinkle them over the flour. Toss a bit with your fingers to coat the pieces with flour.

Give the flour, butter, and cream cheese 10-12 one-second pulses. The result should look like large shaggy crumbs.

Remove the lid and sprinkle the vinegar and two teaspoons of the cold water over the dough. Replace the lid and process continuously for 3-5 seconds until you see the dough just starting to come together. It should still look a bit crumbly with visible flour and visible streaks of fat. When you pinch some in your fist, it should easily hold together. If it doesn't, sprinkle another two teaspoons of water over the top and process again.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface and divide it into two equal parts. Gather each mound of dough and press it into a flat 1-inch thick disk or square, depending on the shape of the pan you will be using. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or overnight.

Tear off two large pieces of wax paper. Unwrap one of the pieces of dough and set it in the center of a piece of wax paper. Lay the other piece on top. Working from the middle of the dough out, begin rolling the dough into a thin crust. The dough will be tough to roll at first but then will gradually become more malleable as it becomes thinner. Rotate the dough and flip it to the other side a few times as you roll. Peel back the wax paper occasionally and sprinkle the dough with a little flour to make sure it doesn't start to stick.
When the crust is 1/8-1/4 inch thick, it is ready. Peel back the top layer of wax paper and gently invert the crust over your pan. Peel off the second piece of wax paper. If the crust cracks, overlap the two pieces slightly and pinch them together.

It's fine to bake the pie right away, but if you have time, chill it in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes before putting it in the oven. This chilling time helps the dough keep its shape better in the oven and tends to make a flakier crust.

I cook this at 375-degrees for about 40-50 minutes or until the crust is golden.
Lemon-Yogurt Icebox Tart
Makes one 9-inch tart


1/2 recipe Cream Cheese Pie Crust
2 cups Greek yogurt
2/3 cup lemon curd
2 tablespoons honey (or more, depending on tartness of curd)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1 1/2 tablespoons water
Whipped cream
Citrus slices or berries (optional, for garnish)


About two hours before assembling tart, roll or press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan and fully bake according to recipe instructions. Let cool on a cooling rack for at least one hour, until room temperature.

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon curd, honey and vanilla. Taste and add more honey, if needed. Put the water and gelatin in a small microwave-safe measuring cup and let sit for 5 minutes. Microwave for 10-15 seconds, stirring once or twice, until the gelatin is dissolved. Thoroughly whisk dissolved gelatin into the yogurt mixture and pour into the tart shell.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or preferably overnight. Garnish with fresh whipped cream and sliced citrus or berries before serving.

Bought A Cow
I debated for a long time and finally hauled him home this week. Sometimes, foodies just need to indulge and this was a total splurge moment for me. I haven’t splurged for 20 months or more…the sum total of my foodie experiences this week so I figured it was time.

Oh, sorry…My cow is the painting that is now a textbook fit over my chef’s table in my kitchen. If I don’t give him a name soon, I can’t look him straight in the eye when I make Boeuf Bourguignon. Stay Tuned!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Breakfast At Maxwell Street Market

University of Chicago: My Streets, My Eats

My Streets, My Eats was a half day seminar at the University of Chicago Law School on street vendors. Experts from all over the country discussed the opportunities and laws that govern street vendors today.

From shared kitchens to the 2008 impact of Kogi BBQ on the food truck revolution to the twitter trucks of today, social media has been a huge game changer.
Trying to get the outdated vendor laws changed in Chicago is a balance of policy and politics. Just ask Alderman Willie Cochran from the 20th ward who is an advocate for mobile food truck reform.
The history and assessment of the food climate in both New York and LA made you appreciate what community builders local street vendors are. Sean Basinski backed that up as founder and director of the Street Food Project and a street vendor himself, having sold burritos from a push cart at the corner of 52nd and Park in NYC.
Dr. John Garger, a national expert on the economic impact of the street vendor, brought a lot of great insights to the discussion and I will continue to follow his work. Someone that I thought would simply rattle off statistics was actually really exciting to listen to.
Also great input from Justine Large, chef de cuisine at Big Star, Greg Kettles, Deputy Council for Los Angeles and founder of Open Air Market Network, Samm Patrichos, operator of Spice Smart Mobile Foods, Gabriel Wiesen, who founded Chicago’s first mobile gourmet food truck and Heather Shouse, author of Trucks: Dispatched and Recipes from the Best Kitchen on Wheels, Senior Food and Drink correspondent for Time Out Chicago and Chicago reporter for Food and Wine Magazine.
Everyone brought an interesting dynamic to the program and there was not a lightweight in the bunch.
My love affair with street food goes back to Guadalajara when I was in my early twenties. I began eating off the street for two reasons- I discovered that the food was good but also very cheap – a critical issue for a student.
The stands I ate at cooked everything fresh so the food experience was always high-quality. They were also super clean. Soon, I discovered a string of 7 food carts – one for each day of the week.
The thing I loved most about the street vendors is that they taught me how to cook. Every day I got a free lesson on how to prepare Mexican food. I studied their techniques and to this day some of the best Mexican food I make came from lessons    I learned in the street.
I support street vendors because they make an enormous contribution to the cultural and economic fabric of a city. Just look at Maxwell Street Market.
I went down again this morning just to remind myself that some of the most authentic and delicious Mexican comes from the food vendors at this market.
The market bears out the deep connection that Mexican families have when going from church to the market every Sunday. The social aspect of the market is by far the most significant element of all along with the food.
My relationship with the vendors at the Maxwell Street Market was casual at best until recently. Now that they have seen my photos and videos and realize that I am just trying to tell their story, they have let me in.
I am also a frequent diner at XOCO and Frontera Grill. The bean-to-cup chocolate is genius and cannot be duplicated anywhere. The Jicama Street Snack: Jicama, cucumber, pineapple, fresh lime, and crushed guajillo chile is a recipe I have tried to make at home but just doesn’t taste the same.
Whenever I need a fix, I head to one restaurant or the other depending on my appetite that day. Rick Bayless has established his brand as the best there is when it comes to classic Mexican and I buy in because of the quality of his food.
I’ve never thought of Maxwell Street as being competition for XOCO or Frontera Grill and I am sure that Bayless doesn’t either. It’s just a different type of food experience. It really gets down to how much I am willing to spend that day and what I’m in the mood to eat.
So what’s the City of Chicago’s position on changing what apparently are the worst street food laws in the country?
Mayor Emanuel says he is committed to reform so all eyes on him.
I would hate to have to book a flight to LA just to get the experience. Have you seen the cost of flights these days?
Stay tuned and Bon Appetit!

Chicago's Street Vendors

Friday, April 13, 2012

Smoking Pork Shoulder

I wanted to switch things up from a traditional Easter dinner and smoke pork. 
 
I ordered a new smoker which was delivered the Wednesday before Easter so it was perfect timing.
Since it was the first time I had used a smoker in awhile, I checked it every hour. It did increase my cooking time but for some reason, I felt the need to. I wanted to make this perfect the first time out.

I put it in brine liquid and then in the refrigerator for 48 hours. I cooked it on the smoker and pulled it off 8 hours later when it reached an internal temperature of 170 degrees.

This pork shoulder was so amazing slow cooked over charcoal, apple juice and mesquite.
My secret ingredient?The guys at Real Urban BBQ. The week before Easter they gave me the 101 on how to do a smoke and what ingredients to use.

Anytime I’ve got a cooking challenge and don’t trust my gut, I ask an expert. Anyone considered one is flattered to help.

Will they give you their top secret recipes? That's another challenge!

Bon Appetit!

Smoked Blue Cheese and Bacon Potato Salad

This salad is one of my new favorites and a great stand-in for traditional potato salad. It is really the best potato salad recipe that I have found in a long time.
I was low on mayonnaise and was too lazy to make some. Besides, I don’t like a recipe swimming in dressing, especially when the potatoes had such a great flavor coming right off the smoker.
Always use high quality, local ingredients in your dishes. In this case, the Organic Becker Lane bacon was a real compliment to the smoky flavor of the potatoes. In fact, it was the flavor.
Topped with a little blue cheese, this recipe will be a favorite side for Sunday BBQ’s this summer.
Bon Appetit!
3 pounds baby red potatoes, cut in half
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
Dressing:
1 Cup Mayonnaise
¼ Cup White Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Topping:
½ red onion, thinly sliced
Blue Cheese, crumbled
6-8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. 
Put the potatoes in a single layer in center of a large piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring foil up and seal the edges making a large packet. 
Grill potatoes at least 30 minutes on each side. Remove packet. Open packet and let potatoes cool 10 minutes.
Whisk together ingredients for the dressing. Add dressing to potatoes (I used just half) tossing gently to coat. 
Stir in onion, blue cheese, and bacon.

A Little of This - A Little of That

I never thought that I could learn to make a recipe to taste – a little of this and a little of that – but Cole Slaw is an easy way to learn the skill and the more practice I get, the better this recipe tastes.
Bon Appetit! 
Cole Slaw
1 large head of cabbage, finely shredded
Dressing:
Sugar
Cider Vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Dry Mustard
Celery Seed
Grate Cole Slaw. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and sugar to taste. Add a little dry mustard, celery seed and salt and pepper – again to taste.
Pour over cabbage and refrigerate.
Make 8 to 10 servings.

The High Price of Cupcakes

Williams-Sonoma came out with a premium cupcake mix and yes, when I looked in the box, that’s all that was in there was the mix.
It says that their cakes have the very best ingredients, starting with America’s finest organic flour, sourced from small family farms and custom-milled by a company dating back to 1856.
Would that inspire you to pay $14.95 for a cupcake mix, $19.95 for the frosting with a $5.00 discount if you buy both? You do the math – that’s about $2.50 per cupcake. Although you pay that for a good cupcake Molly’s or Sprinkles, somehow $30.00 for raw ingredients seems excessive…especially since you still have to add the butter, milk and eggs.
I was curious so I took the leap and tried them today.
The cakes were moist and light but the frosting?
Save yourself $14.95 because it did not taste like butter cream at all. When you say butter, you’ve got to taste like butter.
Bon Appetit!
Easy, Classic Buttercream Frosting
1 cup unsalted FRENCH butter, softened
3-4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes.

If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.

Spring Tomato Salad

Beautiful, multi-colored, ripe tomatoes are so good, I could eat them with a little salt and they would be a perfect side for any meal.

This salad by Jamie Oliver adds a little olive oil and balsamic with a pinch of dried oregano to lightly compliment the hearty taste of BBQ.
2 1/4 pounds mixed ripe tomatoes, different shapes and colors
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A good pinch dried oregano
Red wine or balsamic vinegar 
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and grated
1 fresh red chile, seeded and chopped

Depending on the size of your tomatoes, slice some in half, some into quarters and others into uneven chunks.
Put the tomatoes into a colander and season with a good pinch of sea salt.

Give them a toss, season again and give a couple more tosses. The salt won't be drawn into the tomatoes; instead it will draw any excess moisture out. Leave the tomatoes in the colander on top of a bowl to stand for around 15 minutes, then discard any juice that has come out of them.
Transfer the tomatoes to a large bowl and sprinkle over the oregano.
Make a dressing using 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil, the garlic and a chili.

Perfecting The Butter Cookie


When I read the essay by Dorie Greenspan -The Perfection of Butter Cookies- in the April/May 2012 issue of Fine Cooking and saw the ingredients, I was encouraged. This recipe looked a lot like my grandmothers. Of course, that’s what I thought 73 times before this and every one of them were not quite the cookie I remembered. Maybe it was just a fleeting memory of my childhood past.

I did remember that grandma’s recipe had 3 key ingredients: butter, vanilla and confectioners’ sugar.

Butter:
After all this time, I really needed this recipe to work so I bought, at the author’s suggestion, the best butter I could find: French Beurre D’ Isigny. Once you’ve had good, French butter, you’ll never go back again.

The butter is the essential ingredient that makes these cookies melt-in-your-mouth. Standard american butter just doesn’t cut it although I’m sure that’s what my grandma used…or did she make her own butter?

Vanilla:
I love to read Al Goetze’s (Chief Spice Buyer at McCormick) Field Reports as he journeys to exotic destinations in search of spices. I’ve already decided in my next life, I’m going to have his job.
In this report on vanilla, he writes something I didn’t know - how vanilla beans are cured. After you read this, you will have a new appreciation for just how long it takes to get them to perfect:

“Equally important as proper growing of vanilla beans is how they are cured to bring out their full flavor. Curing is a manual process that began in the early 1900s. The mature green beans are picked and, within a short period of time, placed in boiling water for three minutes to arrest growth. Then, they are sweated in burlap-wrapped piles or wooden boxes for three days, which continues the curing process. After that, the beans are sun dried for two to three months, during which time the farmers bring the beans outside each morning and spread them on pieces of burlap to soak up the sun’s direct rays. Each afternoon, the beans are wrapped and returned inside for the night. The final stage is allowing the beans to further cure in wax-lined wooden boxes, which brings out their full flavor. The end result is a rich, dark brown, moist, and pliable bean that is loaded with aroma and flavor.”

The addition of the vanilla beans in the sugar made for an easy method to flavor the sugar before you add it to the mix.

Confectioner’s Sugar:
It’s more common to see Confectioner’s sugar in cookie icing than in cookie dough so this was the one ingredient that I did remember.

Confectioner's sugar is actually granulated sugar which has been mechanically ground into a very fine powder.

So, has the ultimate butter cookie recipe been perfected?

Ask me later. I’ve only polished off my first half dozen.

Bon Appetit!

Butter Cookies
2 soft, plump vanilla beans
1/3 cup granulated sugar
8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, preferably high-fat European-style, softened
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1-1/3 oz. (1/3 cup) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 large egg yolks
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
Sanding sugar, white or colored

Tip: Once you’ve scraped the pulp from the vanilla beans, stash the pods in a canister of sugar to make vanilla-sugar.

Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape the seed pulp into a small bowl; add the granulated sugar. Using your fingers, rub them together until blended.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, mix the butter on low speed until smooth and creamy (you don’t want it to get light and fluffy), about 1 minute; mix in the salt.

Add the vanilla sugar and the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl as needed.

Add 1 egg yolk and mix for 1 minute. Still on low speed, mix in the flour just until blended; the dough will be soft.

Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead it gently a few times. Divide it in half and shape each half into a 9-inch log. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. I refrigerated it overnight.

Position oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking liners.

Sprinkle about 1/2 cup sanding sugar onto a piece of waxed paper. Combine the remaining egg yolk with a splash of water in a small bowl and whisk with a fork. Brush each log with the egg wash and roll it in the sanding sugar until evenly coated. Trim the ends of the logs if they’re ragged. Using a knife, cut the dough into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Put them on the baking sheets, leaving about 2-inches between rounds.

Bake the cookies, rotating and swapping the baking sheets’ positions halfway through, until the cookies are brown around the edges and golden on the bottom, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool on the sheets for 5minutes; then carefully transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before serving.
Sablés shouldn’t be eaten warm; they need to cool so that their texture will set properly.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cooking The Perfect Steak

I always thought that the BBQ grill was the one essential tool for cooking a great steak.

Ask me today after cooking one of the BEST STEAKS EVER and I will tell you that I can be convinced to give up my Weber for a cast iron pan…at least when it comes to steaks and chops.
This recipe is a significant find for all of my friends in the city who are apartment dwellers and have nothing but their oven to reply on to get them through a dinner party.
I was so impressed with this cooking method that I tried both a steak and a pork chop today just to be sure. The results were amazing!
The recipe is from Prime Steakhouse in Las Vegas and was featured on the cover of Saveur’s April issue. I loved the issue which focused on the culinary landscape in Las Vegas.
Don’t try and cook this recipe if you’ve had a glass of wine or two. This cooks at such high heat it demands your undivided attention.

Also make sure your steak is 2” thick. My butcher was out and all I could find was 1” so I had to adjust the cooking time accordingly. It was also the reason I cooked the 2” pork chop today. It cooked beautifully in 5 minutes on my stovetop and 7 minutes in my oven.
This method is so simple and my Le Creuset grill pan was the charm in the mix once again.
Like anyone who has a celebrated recipe find, if I wake up in the morning and find this is all a dream, pinch me and haul out the BBQ.

Bon Appetit!

1 2” thick porterhouse steak

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

2 tsbp. Canola oil

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

6 sprigs thyme

1 lemon

Season steak with salt and pepper and let sit 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 500 degrees.
Heat a cast iron skillet on high. Add canola oil and when the pan almost smokes, add the steak and cook 5 minutes.
Flip the steak and place in the oven for 7-10 minutes longer.
Note: Watch your cooking time carefully. I determined the perfect cooking time for my oven was 5 minutes on the stovetop and 7 minutes in the oven. Get the timing down to a science.
Pour off the pan drippings and return to the stovetop. Melt butter. Add thyme and lemon and brown for about 4 minutes.
Serve butter and lemon over the steak.