Friday, November 02, 2007
I've eaten at The Herbfarm several times, and meals there are always memorable. I loved standing at the counter where they plate the courses to talk to the chef about what he was doing (that kept me from drinking too much of the great wines Ron Zimmerman serves). Chef's last night there was last weekend, and he's getting ready to open his own place in Seattle, hopefully by the middle of next year. He does already have a name picked out: "Poppy," after his mother.
Anyway, the theme in this class was local and seasonal -- and around here that means lots of wild mushrooms and crab, among other things. Chef had some beautiful matsutake mushrooms, a huge cauliflower mushroom, immaculate porcinis, and the usual chanterelles and other fungi. He made a crab flan with a roasted slice of matsutake and greens that was delicate and delicious.
A great demo was making strudel dough for a lentil and goat cheese strudel. It actually looks like I can do it, and I plan to give it a try. And the strudel was good, I think that filling would be really good doing vegetables farcis, too.
This wild mushroom and farro risotto, I swear, had $100 worth of mushrooms in it. I don't think I'd had farro before, which is a pretty ancient grain. It's nutty flavor and chewiness was a good match for all those 'shrooms.
We ended the class with a fresh huckleberry cobbler with rose geranium ice cream. And espresso. I get so excited when I get to watch someone with Traunfeld's passion work. It was very inspiring. Definitely looking forward to his new place!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Cooking the apples is interesting, in that you have to take a couple of leaps of faith: first that the skillet you've just put a stick of butter, a cup of sugar, and six sliced apples can really hold it all. It did - barely at first, then just right as the apples cooked down. Then also faith that boiling all this stuff on high heat isn't going to create a burnt sugar mess. It didn't. As you can see, it turned out beautifully! I did not do the concentric layout of the apple slices -- I didn't see any like that when I was in Paris, and you can get more apples in if you let them settle themselves into position.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Made puff pastry shells, and a "real" Bearnaise sauce out of Peterson's Sauces. Moistened the crab meat with a little sauce, put it on the shell, topped with poached eggs, sauce all over, asparagus on the side. Yum...a little Champagne never hurts, either...
The Bearnaise was the challenging part, as I had to whisk the egg yolks and 1T water per yolk over simmering water until it turned into a very thick foam (a sabayon). The nice thing about doing the sabayon, though, is that you don't have to worry about the sauce breaking when you put in the clarified butter, so you don't have to dribble it in, just pour in slowly and stir gently with the whisk off heat. Then add the seasoning reduction and salt to taste. I'm glad it turned out well.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I did find a recipe for a milk bread, and for once I had milk. It was a simple recipe, really, and even without taking any shortcuts I had hamburger buns before 4pm:
Beautiful fine crumb, not chewy but robust enough to stand up to a burger and all the trimmings. Yippee!!!
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Monday, September 03, 2007
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
They make a really pretty display, don't they? I tasted them and all have different flavor profiles, acid, sugar, and "tomatoey-ness" are pretty distinct. The ones that look orange, in the bottom left, are my favorites. They are really varigated orange, red and yellow. These are going to be served with a side of a vinaigrette made with fresh basil oil and sherry vinegar. But I think I'm just going to have them with a pinch of fleur de sel.
I ended up using the basil oil to make a basil lemon mayonnaise to go with the tomatoes, and it was absolutely perfect with them (if I do say so myself). Put two egg yolks, juice and zest of one lemon, and a big pinch of salt in the blender, then dribble in about 1 cup of basil oil while the blender runs. Taste for seasoning. (The basil oil was one cup of loosely packed basil blended with about a cup of olive oil (not EVOO) and strained.)
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
Thursday, May 31, 2007
First, we visited Joel Durand, one of the best chocolatiers in France. Apparently quite a privilege and very interesting.
We start with Joel demonstrating how to chop chocolate to make the filling for truffles, then we try it ourselves. Finally, after making the truffle centers, we get to use his enrobing machine to make them beautifully coated. Way cool!
The next excursion is to a boulangerie to learn about bread and cookies. I require remedial training in shaping navettes.
This guy can really move! And we got to carry away the loaves we made ourselves.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Friday, May 18, 2007
The venue for this was interesting as it was over at the Seattle Art Institute, so it was a session for the culinary students there. Everyone except me was attired in chef jackets, and I felt very under dressed!
Chef Gabriel used one half of the pig to show off the anatomy and demonstrate taking it apart, then let some of the students work on the other half.
Chef removed the hams with the sirloins attached to do Serrano-style hams, sort of like prosciutto but Spanish. Also of course the pork bellies (seen above with the loin still attached) will make beautiful bacon. After all was said and done, there were about 25 pounds of bones for stock, and about six pounds of other "usable trim" including ears and tail (also for the stock).
Finally all of the pieces got vacuum-bagged, so they can be frozen and then get processed when Chef returns from France next month. Oh, yeah, I'm going to France too...see next blog entry for a little about this imminent adventure!
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
I love dried cherries and chocolate, so the bread pudding couldn't go wrong in my book.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
We made lots of good things -- lamb kebabs, eggplant koresh (an eggplant and chicken stew), rice with favas and dill, rice pudding, peppers stuffed with rice and beef, walnut and feta spread, pistachio soup. We grilled the lamb over charcoal, and it was wonderful -- marinated in lime, saffron, and onions.
The eggplant koresh (photo at right) was an interesting preparation. First you saute a lot of onions, then add chicken and garlic and get it all nice and golden. Then while you simmer that with pureed tomatoes and spices, you fry quartered eggplant that you've first brushed with egg while so it doesn't absorb as much butter (because remember, you're using ghee, not olive oil). Then it all goes into the oven for a while. I really liked it, but I'd probably use chicken thighs instead of breasts if I make it, since I think that would be a little richer in flavor. The limes for garnish and flavor are a really nice touch.
In this picture of the rice "polow" (pilau or pilaf) you can see bits of the nice golden crust that forms at the bottom of the pot. In Persian cooking, this is the best part :)
Overall the class was pretty intense in terms of the menu -- many of the recipes had quite a bit of prep work, then they needed 45 minutes in an oven or on the stove. The lamb needed prep, then marinating time, then grilling. Once we sat down to dinner, I felt like I'd been running for a couple of hours. But as usual, it was a "good" tired. Some of the dishes didn't have quite the seasoning complexity of Indian or Moroccan food, but others (like the stuffing for the peppers) had all of that and more. So maybe in some ways there is more variety in seasoning intensity than what I've encountered in those other cuisines. But of course I've only had a limited exposure to all of these rich and ancient traditional cuisines, so I'm arriving at conclusions from a less-than-fully-informed basis. Oh, darn, that sounds like I need to do more research :)
Monday, April 30, 2007
First, I brined the chops in my usual 1/4 c salt, 1/4 c sugar, 1 qt. water solution for an hour.
While they brined, I made the stuffing mixture: about 2T each minced onion and minced celery, four leaves of fresh sage, chiffonade, sauteed in a little butter. Stirred in about 2 T of dried breadcrumbs and eight slices of Canadian bacon, minced. A little salt and pepper and set aside to cool.
Then cut nice big pockets in the pork chops and filled them up with the cooled stuffing.
Browned them for about 4 minutes/side and put them in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes while we sauteed some romaine and finished a mushroom cream sauce for the chops. Not a bad dinner for making it up at the market!