As I cannot eat onions myself, one might ask what I was doing preparing Roasted Cipollini Onions as my contribution to dinner Sunday night. Why, the ease of the recipe, of course! Except it took three of us (four if you count Sophie) an hour to peel the four pounds of onions the recipe called for. Blanching the onions makes them easy to peel, my ass.
Apparently they were amazing though. The sauce was a combo of dry red wine, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, and rosemary sprigs. I'll bet that would go good with some other roasted veggies.
Biography shamelessly stolen from Jessica's Biscuit's e-newsletter:
Escoffier was born on October 28, 1846. At the age of 13, his father took him to Nice where he apprenticed with his uncle's restaurant, thus beginning a culinary career that spanned 62 years.
His culinary career included many of the great restaurants of Paris, including Le Petit Moulin Rouge and the restaurant at the Hotel Ritz. He was involved in both the cuisine and the management end of restaurants at the Savoy Hotel in London and the Carlton in London.
Accomplishments include: researching the development and techniques of canning and preserving foods; revolutionizing and modernizing the restaurant menu, the art of cooking and the organization of the professional kitchen; developing the first a la Carte menu; simplifying the art of cooking by getting rid of ostentatious food displays and reducing the number of courses served; emphasizing the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients and lighter sauces; and publishing many books on the art of French Cuisine. He is also the inventor of a famous French dessert, Peche Melba (Peach Melba), named after a famous Austrian singer.
Throughout his career, Escoffier wrote a number of books, many of which continue to be considered important today. Some of his best-known works include "Le Guide Culinaire" (1903), "Le Livre des Menus" (1912) and "Ma Cuisine" (1934).
During his long and illustrious career, Escoffier was bestowed with many honors from the French government and many other private and public organizations. The honors due Escoffier can be summed up by a quote from Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II when he told Escoffier, "I am the Emperor of Germany, but you are the emperor of chefs."
I had every intention of cooking for friends this weekend, but the best of intentions..... seem to lead to really good food on the home front. After a really stressy week, a bunch of cooking was what i needed to recenter myself. The menus were all over the board - complete cultural fusion across the weekend. Let me know if you want any of the specific recipes!
brunch: buttermilk biscuits with butter, honey, and apricot butter
dinner (oh so late, dearie me): boeuf a la bourguignonne. I used the recipe from cook's illustrated rather than from dear Julia, but i edited the CI one a bit. I was meant to serve it with some blue lake beans, but failed to remember them at the late hour, so we made do with the tasty tasty sauce, beef, mushrooms, and mashed potatoes. And a nice glass of '96 Navarro Pinot Noir.
brunch: chorizo, tofu, and zucchini scramble with buttermilk biscuits & honey.
dinner: After seeing Spirited Away, we made our way to the Japanese grocery next door to the Kabuki, intent on some onigiri. Dinner was miso soup & an assortment of maki, along with a few "ohmygodeatthemfastbeforetheyfallapart" salmon onigiri. Sake and Orion beer rounded out the menu. Asian pears for desesrt. (And later, some ice cream with fudge sauce we found in the fridge. Eating early at 5:30pm opens you up to a world of desserts.)
Southern. French. Mexican-hippy fusion. Japanese. All good food, centering me at home. I failed to make the large batch of caramel corn that i wanted to send to Andy tomorrow morning - maybe tomorrow night!
Yep, here's Russell with another Danger Dinner. This time around I wanted to do something with our coconut rice recipe — one of the yummiest side dishes we eat around here, almost a meal in itself. I figured some chicken curry would be a good companion dish.
The coconut rice bakes for 18 minutes after some initial stovetop work, which makes it (a) good to help warm up the living room on chilly days and (b) clears off the range for other cooking. After it went in the oven, I started working on my curry. I cooked up some chicken, some thinly sliced bits of carrot, some red bell pepper, and some bamboo shoots. To this I added cubed tofu, a couple of teaspoons of yellow curry paste (Thai Kitchen brand, highly concentrated stuff, use with caution), some chicken stock, the rest of the can of coconut milk opened for the rice, some Thai fish sauce, and a few teaspoons of sugar, and simmered it all togther for a while. When the coconut rice came out, I shoveled a couple ladlesful into a bowl, scooped some of the curry over it, and served.
The result was pretty good, better than "just edible", but I made a tactical error putting the curry together. I should have sauteéd the dry ingredients in a frying pan rather than saucepans; meriko explained to me that the confines of a deep pan tends to retain moisture, steaming your food instead of browning it. Furthermore, the wet ingredients would have tended to boil off, leaving a thicker sauce behind instead of the watery thing I had.
The flavor of the curry was a bit on the bland side (except for heat); a better caramelization of the chicken, carrot, and pepper might have improved it; meriko also suggested more fish sauce (the fishy flavor of it hit me hard when I first put it in the pot, but it mellows and blends rapidly with everything else) and fresh basil (which, dammit, we had in the frig, slowly wilting, I saw it earlier today and tried to remind myself to use it!). On the bright side, the coconut rice is sooooo good, I could have just served the tofu, raw, on top of it, and it would have been edible, so any failings of the curry didn't ruin the meal, and maybe next time I can make it a bit better.
That's all the time we have tonight on Danger Dinner! Tune in next week for another exciting adventure!
I made Audrey's biscuits yesterday. I used butter, instead of shortening, because I am lazy and butter is easier to measure. I realized, half way through, that I don't have a rolling pin, so the biscuits were hideous looking hand patted things (I have no patience for patting when biscuits are coming).
We cut them in half, topped them with (natch) more butter and honey for a true Southern biscuit. Scrambled eggs on the side were much less important, but filled out the meal.
I forgot how easy these are. And how addictive.
Use a lot of extra flour for kneading/rolling them (1/4 cup I'd say) since this is a very wet dough. Don't skimp on the rolling. Roll more. And again. It's good for you.
Audrey's biscuit recipe
2 cups flour
3 teasp baking powder
1/2 teasp. salt
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cups milk
put dry ingredients together, cut in the shortening
til like coarse crumbs. a long tined fork is good for
this. add milk all at once, stir quickly with a fork
til dough follows fork around the bowl. turn onto a
lightly floured surface, knead gently 10 to 12 strokes
pat it flat and cut with a glass dipped in flour (or
use a biscuit cutter) bake on ungreased pan at 450 for
12 to 15 minutes.
Serves 1. Maybe 2, if they're really really cute and you love them.
Mail from Bob Klein, of Oliveto restaurant.
We are about to leave for our truffle trip. Here's a press release on our truffle dinners. Call for reservations at 510-547-5356
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Oliveto Restaurant Forecasts "Truffle Intemperance" at Annual Dinners
Heavy Rains Result in Banner Harvest of Italian White Truffles
Oliveto Truffle Dinners Scheduled for November 12 - 15
OAKLAND, Calif. (October 2002) - According to co-owner Bob Klein, Oliveto Restaurant, the celebrated showcase for chef Paul Bertolli's James Beard Award-winning fare, always takes on a special glow during the annual Italian White Truffle Dinners. Perhaps it's the overwhelming aroma of the "tartufo bianco" combined with Bertolli's magnificent menu pairings, or, as some believe, the pheromones in the air, but whatever it is, Klein expects it could jump off the chart this year.
"Our sources throughout Northern Italy are reporting that truffles are both plentiful and cheap, and the quality is superb. Prices have plummeted," reported Klein. "As with truffles any year, this is a situation that can change day-to-day. More prolonged heavy rains, for instance, could make it impossible for the dogs and soak the truffles. But we're off to a very good start."
The price drop makes it possible for Chef Bertolli to offer dishes less practical when truffles are $3,000 per pound. Among the dishes planned for this year's White Truffle Dinners are: Spit-roasted Farm Hen with Truffles stuffed under the skin, Tartufati (yeast buns slathered with truffle butter), Truffled Pigeon Risotto, Poached Truffled Sausages, Wild Mushrooms roasted in coals with White Truffles, and Truffed Endive Fonduta of Parmigiano.
Klein has made the annual trek to the Italian countryside - often accompanied by Bertolli or co-owner Maggie Klein -- to confer, negotiate, and hunt with his circle of confidantes among the tartufai who drop everything around this time of year to take up their real passion: truffle hunting.
There is a maxim that a good truffle year means a bad wine year, noted Klein, and while the heavy rains that have fallen in the late summer may have played hob with Italy's grape harvest, truffle fanciers have reason to celebrate.
"The one nagging drawback to the full, unencumbered enjoyment of truffles in recent years has been the cost," said Klein. "There's always that little sting that goes with eating 'the world's most expensive delicacy.' But with the sting abated, I think we're going to see some memorable evenings here at Oliveto during the Truffle Dinners."
In order to assure the finest and freshest truffles for Oliveto's kitchen, Klein and Bertolli for several years have journeyed to Italy's prime white truffle fields - principally the mixed forests of oak, poplar, and other compatible trees in Piedmont, Romagna, Umbria and Tuscany - in search of the rare tuber magnatum pico.
"Freshness is the key to enjoying the remarkable perfume of white truffles," said Bertolli. "Bob and I have found that the only reliable way to provide this heady experience to Oliveto's tables is to bring the truffles back ourselves."
White truffles are generally served raw, shaved over food, and diners at Oliveto pay by the gram according to the amount consumed. According to Chef Bertolli, truffles are best paired with dishes rich enough to stand up to the truffle's pungent aroma, but uncomplicated enough not to distract from the truffle experience.
Oliveto is located at Oakland's Rockridge Market Hall at 5655 College Avenue. The restaurant offers lunch and dinner seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m.. to 9:00 p.m. The full restaurant menu is available in the Cafe during lunch and throughout the evening hours. For reservations please call (510) 547-5356. Major credit cards are accepted and parking is available in the Market Hall lot.
Heather gave me a copy of The Fourth Star this September. I reviewed it over on litwank. Someday i hope to review a meal at the restaurant itself - Rosencrans over at The Morning News has done just that. He tells a great story, complete with chef-look-alike-mixups and actually getting to meet our man Daniel himself. Go check it out.
I just happened to reread this fabulous interview from our local weekly paper
up here in see-yattle. this might be one of my favorite bits of writing (or
talking, I guess) about food, period. The woman being interviewed works
for a place that makes what they call "hand-forged" donuts.
Sabrina the Donut Diva
Top Pot, 609 Summit Ave E, 323-7841
What do you think of Krispy Kreme?
"Listen, I'm from the South. It's hard to understand this doughnut-starved culture driving all the way out to Issaquah for, well... a co-worker drove out there, waited in line, and brought me back a doughnut that was, uh, okay. A little too sweet. Ho-hum. In Houston, we have Shipley's. They make these raised doughnuts, served hot, that melt in your mouth. You can't even taste flour--it's all grease and sugar. Folks in the South have a different take on frying things, you know; they're not afraid of a little fat."
You also make crullers--where are those from?
"Crullers are more East Coast-style--I think the first time I heard about a cruller was in a John Cheever novel. They have a crisper outside--a little crunch in your doughnut."
Do you find doughnuts sexy, like I do?
"I think of them more as sophisticated, understated, 'classy'--they look good, and they know it. A quiet confidence--if that is sexy."
What brought you to doughnuts?
"I went to pastry school and worked as a baker, which I loved. Then, in a panic, I took a 'real' job at a software company, and was real economically stable for four years--but I knew exactly what would happen every day for the rest of my life, so I left. I'd never made doughnuts before, but I have a deep affection for them, an understanding."
How do you make doughnuts? Is it an automated machine with a conveyer belt?
"Oh, no! Everything is done by hand: I fill up the extruder with mixed batter (it's wet, like cake batter) at just the right temperature: 78 degrees--"
--wait. The EXTRUDER?
"Yes, fun to say and fun to do: I put different fixtures on it to form different styles, crank its arm, and it plops the batter out into the hot grease, doughnut-shaped. I fry the doughnuts for a minute on each side, flipping them over and scooping them out by hand. We drain them, and when they're cooled, I dip them by hand."
You have my dream job: You get to work with a giant, shiny deep fryer, and you make many people very, very happy.
"Oh, yeah? I work midnight to six a.m."
"[Once,] I was walking home from a long night at work when a silver Mercedes drove past, slowed down, and backed up. The tinted window rolled down and this older man, obviously a well-to-do, high-class dude, said to me, 'You make the doughnuts, don't you?!' in this kind of awed voice. 'You do very good work,' he said solemnly, and drove off."
Interview by Rachel Kessler
I read part of mko's recommended "julie/julia project" and was vastly
amused by the following lines:
"Then I attacked the artichokes. The artichokes fought back, but the
benefits of evolution could not save these specimens."
I don't know what it is about fighting artichokes that I so adore, but
there it is. Hi everyone... and I'll try to get culinary on your asses soon.
Just in from the Millennium mailing lists:
Autumn harvests on local farms translate to rich, colorful, & hearty menus in time to warm hearts on chilly winter evenings. For those who missed our spring cooking class, here is your chance to brush up on your culinary skills just in time for the holiday season. Geared towards Vegans, Gourmets, Creative Cooks, and everyone in between, this interactive and hands-on class will have you slicing and dicing your way through Autumn-inspired preview recipes from our next cookbook; demos, tips, shortcuts, techniques, questions, answers, and plenty of eating and drinking complete your Millennium education.
This is a rare opportunity to pick the brains of Millennium's irreverent chef, Eric Tucker, Sous-Chef, Bruce Enloe, and Pastry Chef, Amy Pearce. So, dust off your favorite chef‚s knife, grab your sense of adventure and jump into the kitchen for a weekend-long Tête-à-Tête with the local veggie virtuosos of Millennium Restaurant! Copies of the new recipes, doggy bags, and plenty of great info are yours to take with you. Celebrate the season with us!
Date: Saturday, November 16th and Sunday, November 17th, 2002
Time: 10 am to 3 p.m. (3 hours of cooking plus time to wine & dine)
Location: The Savoy Hotel
580 Geary Street, between Taylor & Jones
San Francisco, California
Directions and Parking information
Also, accommodations can be arranged at a special rate.
Price: $160 includes 2-day cooking instruction, 2 three-course gourmet vegan meals, beverages, wine and beer pairings, and inspiration for joyous holiday cooking!
oh. my. god.
Tonight i killed my first lobsters. (Thank you, anne!) Full menu and report to follow later, but the lobster for now:
We killed them with a swift chef's knife through the brainstem, just between the eyes, and then bisected the heads. We followed with a full bisection; if you were lucky, you had a chick lobster, full of coral. We packed the bodies with butter, and threw them on a medium-fire grill. Served with more melted butter, they were fantastic. Feeding Carol a thumb-sized piece of coral dipped in melted butter may have been even better than eating them myself.
I hate winter, but fall is great. Fall means good clothes and London and APPLES. Tonight I took a slice of country levain bread, spread mayo and Dijon mustard on it, topped it with arugula, turkey breast, slices of Pink Lady apple, Havarti cheese. A few minutes broiling in the toaster oven until the cheese bubbles, and yum! Just beware the turkey grog.
Wow. So, amusingly enough, i think i ate more Japanese food on the plane flights than i did in Japan.
Maybe that's not fair - it's just that both nights i was in Tokyo, we were taken out to business dinners - with the reservations made and menus chosen for us. Don't get me wrong - the food was fantastic - but both nights they were exquisite, fancy, many-course Chinese banquets! Kinda wacky. ;)
I managed to eat Japanese-style breakfasts - my favorite dish being the seaweed, bean, and edamame salad. I loved the piles of cold cucumbers, and the clear soups i drank. And just to be a little silly, i consumed tasty croissants alongside the rice porridge.
Lunch one day was a blitzkreig, 15 minute jaunt through a weird little bakery. I found some buns filled with pork, and with some sort of a rillete. They were fine. Wednesday we picked up bento boxes and onigiri in Shinjuku station and ate them on the JR Narita Express on the way to the airport.
Flying business class has definite perks - the food being one of them. They came out with a menu for each flight - names like Alice Waters, Bradley Ogden, and Wolfgang Puck as consultants on the back. You could choose a Western-style meal or a Japanese one... i (predictably) had the Japanese meal both times. On the way out, my lunch menu was:
A selection of sushi
Kobachi Dish: Rice wine-marinated calmiari accented by wasabi mayonnaise, presented with flying fish roe on a bed of radish sprouts, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, julienned jicama and leaf lettce
Hassun Dish: Grilled chicken topped with carrot paste, accompanied by cauliflower with seared dengaku miso, sweet simmered herring, code roe egg cake, and griled shishito pepper filled with cream cheese.
Simmered Dish: Japanese-style stewed beef with potatoes and carrots
Entree: Stewed Chicken complemented by assorted mushrooms, offered with taro and mizuna in miso.
Soup: Miso soup with wakame seaweek and tofu
Accompanied by steamed rice and assortment of seasonal pickles.
You get the idea.
Next time, i hope to reap the benefits of Forrest's month in Japan, and actually find myself some yakitori, noodles, and other tasty Japanese morsels while i'm on the island.
Carrie forwarded this on to the gastronome list. I think Russell, Carrie & i are going. You should come, too! Keep in mind that no, this isn't me training for the Marathon - the athletic one is that nice girl Jennifer, mentioned below.
A DINNER FOR A REASON!
My Friends, My Family, My Partners in Crime...
As you probably know, I have been training for the Honolulu Marathon in December, and raising money for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. I Thank all of you for your support through our previous events such as our speed dating events.
We are now doing our last event: A Gala Dinner at the California Culinary Academy at 425 Polk Street (near the Civic Center) on November 12.
This event will be our last fundraising effort, and - if everything goes per our plans, we will raise $10,000 for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation in one evening. Just like every other non-profit in this horrible economy, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation is hurting for cash, and your tax deductible donation will help them continue their services to the local community.
I would like to formally invite you to you a semi-formal dinner at the California Culinary Academy. The dinner will be prepared by the famous chefs of tomorrow. We are currently getting both wine and entertainment donated to the event, and a silent auction will follow. This will be a fabulous evening, and a great opportunity for you to meet new friends.
The details of the dinner are:
Tuesday, November 12
6 PM to 10 PM
$50 Donation to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation
If you are interested in purchasing a ticket, you can email email@example.com for further details. We can take cash, check or even credit card.
Do you know anyone who would be interested in attending our gala dinner? Would your company be interested in buying a table? (A table consists of 10 seats). I need help in getting the world out- please help me by helping to sell tickets to this event to the wonderful people that you know.
Do you want to help our event, but cannot afford a ticket to the event? We need lots of help, and I would be the most grateful person in the world if you volunteer. Email me if this is something that you would be interested in.
Two queries here!
What's important in a chopping block? I'm looking for one for our kitchen island, and I have no idea what factors to consider. What kind of woods should they be made out of, does size matter (just kidding) and how should I treat it when I have one? Mineral oil?
Also -- to go with it -- I just got a BB&B 20% off coupon and we were thinking about splurging on some knives soon. I have one Wustof Grand Prix chef's knife that I like, but I'd love to hear what other people like in a knife!
You really must read the entry in Nigella Lawson's, How To Be A Domestic Goddess, Baking And The Art of Comfort Cooking. Furthermore, you must follow the instructions and use your best bittersweet chocolate.
1 cup soft unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces best bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
9X5 inch loaf pan
preheat the oven to 375 put in a baking sheet in case of sticky drips
later, and grease and line the loaf pan.
(I just used flour since I didn't have any parchment paper). The lining is
important as this is a very damp cake: use parchment or one of those loaf
pan shaped liners.
Cream the butter and sugar, either with a wooden spoon or with an electric
hand help mixer, then add the eggs and vanilla, beating in well. Next fold
in the melted and now slightly cooled chocolate, taking care to blend well
but being careful not to overbeat. You want the ingredients combined: you
don't want a light airy mass. Then gently add the flour, to which you've
added the baking soda, alternately spoon by spoon, with the boiling water
until you have a smooth and fairly liquid batter. Pour into the lined loaf
pan, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 and continue to
cook for another 15 minutes. The cake will still be a bit squidgey inside,
so an inserted cake tester or skewer won't come out completely clean.
Place the loaf pan on a rack, and leave to get completely cold before
turning it out. Don't worry if it sinks in the middle: indeed, it will do
so because it's suck a dense damp cake.
Makes 8-10 slices
I have been on a kick of reading cookbooks. Eventhough I am unemployed I have purchased at least 5 new cookbooks this summer alone. My housemate looks at me like I am a real freak, and for what, reading a cookbook from cover to cover.
So far I have two favorites, the first one made me want to be Italian, to travel to Italy and speak the language. I wished to trade in my little jewish grandma for a little Italian grandma. The book is called, In Nonna's Kitchen: Recipes and Traditions from Italy's Grandmothers, by Carol Field. This cookbook has Biographical information about the various grandmothers whose recipes have gone into the book. Lots of fun.
The second one I just picked up and started reading, is, How to Be a Domestic Goddess, Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking, by Nigella Lawson. There are so many things in there to try.
Over this past week I have made two recipes from How to Be a Domestic Goddess, Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking. The first was there Finnish Rye Bread.
I have never been good with baking breads, but this one was simple and came out surprisingly well.
1 1/2 cups rye flour
2 cups white bread flour
1 package rapid rise yeast
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/3 cups warm water
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
put the dry ingredients into a bowl and slowly add the water, mixing with your handds or a wooden spoon, until you've got a messy but vaguely cohesive lump of dough. Add a tablespoon full of melted butter and mix just to incorporate it. Start kneading, either by hand or with a doug hook, until the dough comes together smoothly to form a dense ball, adding more water or flour ( use the white flour if more is needed) as necessary.
Use some more of the melted butter to grease a bowl and turn the dough ball in it so that the top is oily (and wont therefore dry out), then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a cold plave overnight, or for an hour or so someplace warm.
When the dough's doubled in size punch it down. Giving a few good kneads, and then form into a round loaf. Set the loaf on a baking sheet, cover with a tea towel, and leave to get puffy for about 30 minutes, during which time preheat the oven to 375F. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until the loaf is cooked through. It should sound hollow when you rap it on its underside, and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Brush with the remaining tablespoon of melted butter and leave on a wire rack to cool.
Well I left my loaf of bread to rise for a few hours in a warm place, punched it down kneaded it, waited an hour or so for it to get puffy again and baked it. It smelled wonderful while it cooked. When I took it out and brushed it with butter I nearly dove in. why brush the butter when I can dip the hot bread into it. I let it cool enough to handle and cut a piece off. I was disappointed, the dough was moist and felt undercooked. I hoped it was just that it was hot.
I let it cool completely and put it in a plastic ziplock bag. This afternoon I took it out, sliced off a piece and put it in the toaster oven. It was wonderful, a light but dense bread. What I truely consider a country bread. I heated mine up, but a little butter on it, and opened a can of Shari Anne's Organic Tomato and Garlic soup. heaven....
When we were crawling for dessert a few weeks back, we stumbled (almost literally, in my case) on a teeny restuarant called Limon. They serve Peruvian food (as billed) with a California edge (as i gleaned from the menu). It was bright and smelled lovely - i vowed we would come back and try it sometime soon. Have any of you been?
SFGate had this to say:
Limon: At Limon, fusion cuisine means combining traditional Peruvian recipes with California ingredients. Headed by chef Martin Castillo, Limon brings together the experience of various members of the Castillo family who collectively have worked at Aqua, Rubicon, Mecca, Sol y Luna and ThirstyBear. The space is stylish and spare, with walls painted lime green, chartreuse and orange. Tables and chairs have a retro-modern look. The short menu, which will be tweaked over time, starts with items like papa a la huancaina, tender slices of potato bathed in a cool, creamy sauce with a kick of spice. In the mejillones appetizer, mussels come in a wine sauce enriched with pancetta, saffron and coconut cream. Rotisserie chicken is a house specialty, or choose from entrees like a fat pork chop on a savory bed of cabbage and potatoes sauteed with bacon or halibut in a spicy, tomato-y sauce loaded with fresh shellfish. Some items aren't always available, and so far there is no dessert menu. Instead, diners are offered a bowl of tropical fruit ice cream on the house. 3316 17th St. (between Valencia and Mission), San Francisco; (415) 252-0918. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday. Beer and wine. Reservations and credit cards accepted. Starters, $4.75-$12.25; entrees, $4.75- $14.95. -- SF Chronicle (8/02)
Potsticker/wonton type dumplings and I have a colorful history. In the past, it's been pretty hit-and-miss as far as how well the potstickers tended to stay together during the cooking process. After many years of winging it with my own variations on potstickers, I decided to try a recipe out of one of my new birthday presents: Wonton Soup with Noodles from Terry Durack's Noodle book. Even with all my veggie substitutions (and not having a few ingredients on hand), the results were fabulous!
5 oz. shrimp, minced and 5 oz. ground pork [or firm tofu, minced]
2 tablespoons pork or bacon fat, minced [skip this for veggie]
4 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and minced [I also added enoki]
4 water chestnuts [I used firm white onion for crunch]
2 green onions
1 sm. egg white
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. fresh egg noodles
1 package wonton wrappers
1 tsp cornstarch mixed in 1 tablespoon water
8 cups chicken stock [or veggie stock]
2 slices ginger, peeled [I doubled this]
3 oz choi sum (flowering cabbage) [I ignored this]
[I also added a slug of shiitake broth concentrate for extra flavor punch]
Combine the dumpling mixture and chill. Cook and drain the noodles. Assemble the wontons. Heat the stock with the ginger slices. In a separate pot of boiling water, boil a handful of wontons at a time for 4 or 5 minutes until the bob to the surface, fully cooked. Divide the broth (remove the ginger slices!), noodles, and wontons between the serving bowls. Recipe says it serves 4 - or two large single servings for a hearty meal.
Consider me converted to the Noodle book! Bon appetite!
The NYT on the French Laundry. Maybe not the most interesting thing in the article, but the strangest piece of synergy for me?
"The atmosphere of near silence in the French Laundry kitchen has often been noted. Yet that hardly conveys a level of concentration that probably wouldn't feel out of place at Livermore lab."
Other linkage: My review of our dinner at the French Laundry.
meriko's made me tan tan noodles (aka dan dan noodles) several times — tasty fat noodles in a rich peanut sauce — and tonight I made them for the second time. The basic recipe is in Terry Durack's Noodle cookbook, but tonight it was Danger Noodle: No measuring, and a very loose attitude toward the printed ingredient list. So that's what you get from me, hope that's okay, here we go.
First I put water on to boil while I worked on the sauce. I started with some peanut oil in a saute pan, with just a little additional touch of sesame oil for additional flavor. I chopped up a couple of shallots and a couple of cloves of garlic and threw them, plus a handful of sesame seeds, over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, then added half a pound of ground turkey. By the book you should toast the sesame seeds in the pan until they start to brown before adding the oil. Tofu or ground pork would be fine too. Salt, pepper, and five-spice. Fresh ginger, grated, would be good, but I didn't have any.
Next add lots of peanut butter. The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of either sesame paste or peanut butter — we haven't tried the sesame paste route yet — but I think I used about twice that much. Meat or veg stock goes in to dissolve the peanut butter; keep adding it as needed. The sauce needs to be pretty thick to stick the meaty/tofu bits to the noodles, but add a lot of stock at the beginning to get the peanut butter mixed in.
Ideally you're going to season this to be a bit sweet, tangy, and as spicy-hot as you like it. For the sweet, you can use mirin (sweet cooking sake) or plain ol' sugar; I probably oversweetened. Recipe calls for two teaspoons sugar. For tangy, chinese black vinegar is probably best, but I ran out and added a little balsamic vinegar and some champagne vinegar. Recipe calls for one tablespoon, but keep adding it until it balances the sweet. I didn't add enough and the sweet dominated. I should have used some worcestershire sauce, too; if you have some asian fishie sauce, that works. Soy sauce and white vinegar would probably do in a pinch. For spicy-hot, I used Thai sriracha chili sauce, a squirt in the sauce and the bottle brought to table for individual seasoning — meriko likes hers far spicier than I do. The recipe calls for chili oil, but whatever you have for heat will work fine, whole chilis, chili powder, transuranic oxides.
At some point in there you throw your noodles in the boiling water. I used about 6 ounces of dry wide-flat udon and cooked 8 minutes; this was just enough for the two of us. Obviously fresh noodles weigh more and take far less cooking time. We've found frozen fresh udon at asian markets which has the chew of fresh but keeps in the freezer forever.
Get the sauce to the right consistency by alternately adding stock and/or water and cooking over medium heat. You're looking for something a bit thicker than a thick italian tomato sauce in consistency. The peanut butter and sugar will keep it plenty thick. Drain and rinse the noodles, dish it up in a wide bowl, apply the sauce generously. If the sauce is thick enough the chunky bits won't all fall off the noodles.
The recipe suggests blanched bean sprouts and chopped green onions for garnish; we usually don't bother.