Sunday, October 30, 2011

The French Laundry!!

I had dinner there!  It fluctuated from a near-disaster to fantastic.  Even though I knew it was tacky and not becoming of a $____ dinner, I took pictures of each course.  And I will post about it, with pictures, soon (although be warned: they are crappy pictures taken with my iphone and/or blackberry in a dark restaurant... so they are lacking in quality a bit).

It has inspired me to cook more.  But then my 70-hour workweeks as of late have been a bit un-inspiring on the cooking front.  So, we'll see when I do another dinner.  At the very least, I still have at least 6 recipes to blog about, so maybe i'll catch up on that.

Or maybe i'll aim to get a night with 8 hours of sleep.  Either would be satisfying.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Caesar Salad

Let me start by apologizing for the fact that I absolutely cannot spell the word 'caesar.'  I have to look it up every time.  So I plan on covering my bases in this post by spelling it every way possible (I suppose spellcheck would be the other solution, but that just sounds so time-intensive).

With that out of the way... lets talk ceasar salad!  I'm a little ambivalent about certain modern molecular gastronomy-type foods, and when I read the recipe for the caeser salad, that's what I thought I was getting.  Weird stuff disguising as my beloved ceaser salad.  Oh, and I *do* love ceasar salad.  And my brother in law and his wife were coming for dinner, so I thought there was absolutely no way in hell that I would get them to even try a custard-looking thing that was supposed to taste like cheese, since they are quite possibly the pickiest eaters in the world.  But... it was surprisingly good.  So good that even the picky people ate it.  So good that angry toddler ate THREE custards as part of lunch the next day!

The caesar dressing was not my favorite - it was more 'vinegary,' less of a 'creamy' dressing.  I think that only a vinegar-based dressing would work with this dish due to the rick nature of the custard, though.  I ended up throwing the dressing out later on (despite best intentions to eat the massive amount of leftover dressing I had), so if I ever made this again, I would definitely find a way to cut the dressing recipe.


See these anchovies?  Salt packed!  I only got these (or, more accurately, was able to track them down at a market 5 blocks away from my work) thanks to Chowhound.  I love the internet.

There are lots of and lots of measuring to do, so I did a true mis, rather than my half-assed mis of usual:

Basically, you puree everything except the oil and egg yolks together...

Then beat the egg yolks into the mixture....

Slowly drizzle in oil....

And, ta-da, dressing!

(and lets talk about how fabulously that emulsified.  Patience is key here)

Next up: Parmesean custard.  Parmesan is another word I can't spell right (and before people start judging: I may be college, and even law-school educated, and I did go to an excellent law school, but I have much more important things to do with my time - like watching t.v. - than worrying about spelling!)  Because I can't spell it, and because it's waaaayy too long of a word anyways, henceforth on this blgo it will be "parm."  I made this the night before dinner; it has to chill at least 2 hours anyways, so its a great thing to do well beforehand.

The mis:

I heated up the cream and milk, and "infused" the dairy mixture with parm by letting it sit, covered, for 45 minutes.

By parm didn't quite melt all the way, and I thought it was supposed to (its still unclear), so I heated the mixture up a teensy bit and whisked the hell out of out.  Then I whisked the eggs and yolk:

And whisked in some cream mixture.  Note the black pepper - even though I have 20 kinds of fancy salt, I somehow always forget to buy white pepper (and by 'forget,' I mean that I have a subconscious refusal to buy it so I never do)

I poured it into some fantastic silicon fluted molds that I bought on amazon (they are brioche molds):

And baked in a water bath

About a half hour before people were coming over for dinner, I made some baguette croutons, chiffonaded some romaine and tossed it with the dressing, and shaved some parm.  I put a little extra because: (1) I knew picky eaters would at least eat the lettuce/dressing; and (2) I had a ridiculous amount of dressing and lettuce.  I think I also unearthed some balsamic glaze from somewhere and put a pretty dot of it on the plate.  I also think that I burned the balsamic when I made the glaze, and having it sit in the fridge really brought that out.  But still... look how pretty it is!

The best part of this was that I was able to do all of it before people got here, so I just brought it out when I was ready to serve the first course (and it gave me a little more time to work on the second course right before people were coming over).

Overall, I really like it, but I don't know that it made enough of an impression to go on my 'repeats' list. I'm about halfway through the book now, so we'll see!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dinner 8: Back from the Land of the Blog-lost

That title?  Is a complete lie.  I actually made this well before I moved (for my husband's birthday... in June!)

But since i've done menus in advance for all of my other posts, here is the menu:

Starter: "Caesar Salad:" Parmigiano-Reggiano Custards with Romaine Lettuce, Anchovy Dressing, and Parmesan Crisps
First: Hearts of Palm with Puree of Marrow Beans and Field Greens
(yes, I realize this was two salads, but I also had two picky eaters, and thought salads might go over better)
Main: "Macaroni and Cheese:" Butter poached lobster with creamy lobster broth and mascarpone-enriched orzo
Dessert: Chocolate Fondant with Coffee Cream and Chocolate Dentelles

The fantastic thing about this was that I was able to make two entire courses beforehand (other than assembly)... and that I got to use a BLOWTORCH when cooking.  You have no idea how I excited I was about that... but you will soon!