Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Italian Flat Beans

This dish also came about because of the weekly farmer's market. One of the stands I always like to visit is run by a farm up in Lincoln University. Later in the summer they start selling italian flat beans. These beans are huge and flat but the pod is still edible. To me they taste more buttery than string beans. There's also a huge variety of heirloom tomatoes at the market. My favorite one was the zebra tomato, sadly shown gutted here in a bed of basil:
Putting these two together made an awesome combination. The recipe was something akin to this one but from the evidence below, it appears that I decided to drown the dish in Parmigiano.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Apricot Tart

Towards the end of August, the Sunday farmer's market at our co-op had some delicious fresh apricots. I love to eat apricots by themselves but I never can resist looking up what I can bake with new goodies. I found a recipe for an apricot tart that got rave reviews. The result was delicious. If you ever get fresh apricots, try this tart. The crust seems to get a bit soggy after the first day. All the better to share with friends... or just eat it all yourself in one day and no, I did not do that, you can't prove it!

You want to eat this.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tango Element Sunday

Class 1 Chicho/Juana
moving in different directions
- leading follower to go one way while leader goes another
- basic elements: follower straight back South while leader goes diagonal to SE, bring follower SE and leader back sacada, both going back step with elasticity, into a turn, into a leg wrap gancho, into leading her behind and stopping her on the front step of molinete, then bringing her back behind and meeting her.

Class 3 Chicho/Juana
- from side step sandwich, back colgada to a side colgada then back step for leader (front for follower)
- front step for follower on right foot, leader steps past her foot behind her leg, into a forward colgada to a side turned pivot colgada
- sending the follower behind (making sure she grabs the shoulder) to a back colgada behind the leader
- forward ocho to a half turn, leader hold on to follower's arms and leads a front colgada. Follower should stay with leader when she is facing forward.

Tango Element Saturday

Class 1 Arce/Montes
- Ex. 1 walking in a circular motion, thinking enveloping partners both cross system and parallel
- Ex. 2 leading a follower's half molinete circularly on both sides both cross and parallel
The main idea is to keep the turning feeling, not "turn, walk, turn, walk"

Class 2 Sidrid/Yanick

Class 3 Chicho/Juana

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tango Element Friday

Spent a good chunk of the day hanging out by the pool, sunbathing, taking quick dips, working on the paper, taking a trip to the sauna, working, taking a dip, repeat... It was great! I think I get way more work done this way.

Class 1 Chicho/Juana
1 We worked on leaders gancho. Leading the follower to a forward open step and the leader stepping back at the same time in a line with the follower's feet. Leader keeps upper body turned to follower but rotates hips away to make the gancho easier.
2 Now a follower's gancho. From a forward cross, send the follower away and release her right hand. Use a rebound to keep the follower from collecting. Follower should be holding on to leader's elbow with her left hand. Then leader changes weight to right leg and brings follower back for a rotational gancho.
3. Leader gancho. From back crosses, lead follower to a side step that is almost behind the leader. Position hips away from the follower for the gancho.

Then the sequence was 1, 3, 2. But the main take away from this class is that the couple is dancing as a UNIT so the leader needs to know and be acutely aware of where all the legs, bodies, arms, etc of the UNIT are in space. If the leader feels that two of the legs of the unit are not in a comofortable place for a gancho then a gancho should not be attempted.

The thing that really impresses me about Chicho is his Zen-like approach to dancing. When he comes around to help people he really just takes his time to feel what it's like dancing with them and moving with them, trying tiny baby step by baby step, playing with the follower, seeing how any small body movement is interpreted by the follower's body. He doesn't just come over and wham bam the sequence and to show that of course it can be done. He takes all the time in the world. He suggested in one class that people who are practicing or trying to learn something new in tango to ask themselves 10 questions and try to answer those 10 questions before coming to him for help. It's not that he doesn't want to help, but that it takes time to understand how two bodies work together, especially if they are not already familiar with each other, and that you should take time to understand how this particular dancing unit works together.

The classes I've taken with Chicho are perhaps my favorite so far. He builds each class in such a simple easy way that makes hard material easy to understand. He also impresses me with how deeply he thinks about tango. I feel like he's taken apart the dance, focused on various pieces, put them back together in a completely different way, taken it apart again, and so forth. He's like an engineer or a scientist! The main thing is that he is constantly creating, not just recreating. He's writing the word, not just following the word.

Class 2 Arce/Montes
Changing dynamics - playing with time, distance, length
1. Slowing down a step way down with a feeling of lift and then a rebound back in "normal" time.
2. Leader's little steps while keeping follower stepping normal sized steps. In this exercise, it was leaders stepping double time and surrounding the follower to lead her to an ocho cortado. Leader takes steps A-G, follower A-C.
3. Playing with height in boleos, either spiraling up or down. We did a spiral down boleo to a pasada.

Class 3
1. Leading follower to a cross behind (not a back volcada). Then leading the followers weight shift then into a volcada, using elastic compression in the embrace to rebound the follower out. Stopping the follower on two feet using right arm (left hand has been released), then bringing her back in for a follower 180 pivot, keeping the hand low and giving her the pivot with the hand. The hand also stops her pivot. Follower is facing away from leader, in the crook of the arm Then one step together and the leader takes an extra step to lead a side volcada into a forward step for the follower away from the leader. Then rebound back in to face leader and immediately to another forward volcada.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Tango Element Thursday

In sunny Baltimore! I'm not kidding. It was a dreary drizzly day when I left Delaware and the sun was just peeking out when I got into the hotel. The Tremont is amazing! It's a tiny narrow hotel but with 37 floors. The hallway looks like it was made for dwarves (of the Snow White variety). Surprisingly, the rooms are large, there's a hang out nook, a kitchenette, a walkin closet that leads to the bathroom and the little toiletries are soooo cute! There are two huge windows looking over Baltimore and let the sun in. Hung out by the tiny outdoor pool for a bit and went for a quick dip gazing up at the towering hotel windows and the whitewashed wall hung with geraniums of the apartment next door. Met a beautiful girl from Norway on the elevator ride back to my room. Then off to the first classes with Sebastien Arce & Mariana Montes and Chicho & Juana.

Class 1 with Arce/Montes
- worked on taking advantage of torsion instead of initiating torsion. We walked in close embrace in circles both ways around the clock. Then learned how important it is how we place our foot on the ground because it determines the length of our steps. We moved on to movements where the leader and follower take turns orbiting each other, focusing on the surrounding each other and paying attention to rythm and timing.
- the first step is going clockwise. First leader surrounds, then follower surrounds in a half molinete, during this time the leader has changed feet and as the follower takes the forward step, he goes for her back foot and surrounds again which leads to a whooshy feeling of a turn before the leader takes a back step and follower takes a forward step together.
- then we did it on the other side but ended in a opened embrace that somehow turned into a circle around the follower that ended in a leader's back sacada.

Class 2 with Chicho/Juana
- we did an exercise where the followers did forward and back ochos/crosses with the leader changing her dircection once in a while. The change should happen when her hips have pivoted as far as they can
- then we worked exclusively with forward boleos. The leaders trying to make the mark clear and slighly more apparent. The followers keeping their supporting leg flexed and letting the free leg come up and down again at the end of the pivot and not while you're turning. I kept tightening up my thighs which made the boleo hard to do so Juana came over and told me to relax the legs and gave me an enlightening demo of how it's done. Think elephant trunk swinging and wrapping around a tree.
- we switched directions and worked on back boleos. the main thing here is to let the free leg fully go instead of keeping the boleo below the knee. So instead of keeping the legs together and just bending the knee, let the thighs relax and really open up the legs.
- what we were building up to is a colgada boleo where the circular nature is formed parallel to the floor in the follower's body rather than perpendicular to the floor around the follower's body and the idea of rebound is important. Basically the follower has to have a good grip on the leader to be able to receive the boleo.

Btw, whole world, I'm in love with Juana. She is so gracious and just had an amused smile during the whole class and had really great insights into the material. She seemed to have fun and was comfortable coming around to help everyone. She didn't get frustrated with leaders who were having trouble. She just kept laughing and encouranging them and helping them get the feeling in their body. All the teachers have been excellent so far. They are working their butt off! They come around and help everyone and are eager to explain the material clearly so that we can understand. Mariana is an outstanding dancer. She has such control of her body with a superb balance of tension/control with relaxed ability to follow improvisation and changes in dynamics. Sebastian is so precise and you don't realize how complex his dancing is until you're analyzing the details of those "simple" five steps he just did and you can't for the life of you figure it out. Chicho is just, um, legendary. I really don't need to say any of this since they already have their following for good reason but I just am super impressed so far.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ideas from Cabritos and Cochon

Eating at Cabritos in NYC was a mixed experience. The place is funky and cute but also loud and dark. The wait service was mediocre. The goat was good but such a small serving and only came with some shredded cabbage, a few tortillas, a yogurt sauce (boring) and a chili sauce (too smoky and distracted from the goat). The best thing I had there was the pork belly taco: pork belly BBQ'ed in a tamarind sauce with jicama, radish and mache greens on top. Yum. I must learn how to make this taco.

It was a bit expensive: two drinks, two tacos and the goat came to $60. You can get two 4 course tasting dinners at Cochon (on Passyunk in Philly) for the same price (well, on certain days at least)! When my friend and I went, we got the following:

1. Chicken liver pate with bacon mousse on crostini topped with mache, tiny chopped tomatoes and onions, miniature slices of pickles (genius, btw).

2. Frisee salad with (seemingly deep fried) crispy pork fat, an over easy egg, pork sausages and a yummy dressing. Did it also have potatoes? I can't remember. This would be a perfect breakfast. We thought this was the entree so we were surprised when this came up...

3. Suckling pig topped with mache, tomatoes, frisee, and an aoli sauce over a bed of lentils du Puy. So rich. The aoli might have been too much.

4. Banana chocolate cake with raspberry coulis. The coulis was amazing - almost a pure reduction of raspberries with no added sugar and the cake so light and moist. Neither too chocolately or banana-y.

The tasting menu is changing all the time so I'll definitely have to go back.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mascarpone Raspberry Ice Cream

Mascarpone Ice Cream (Makes about 1 1/2 quarts)

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
16 oz mascarpone
1 cup cream or half & half
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in the mascarpone until the mixture is smooth and airy.
Blend in the cream, milk and salt with a whisk. Refrigerate overnight. Meanwhile make raspberry sauce.
Freeze the mix using an ice cream machine. Pour raspberry sauce in at the very last and swirl around. Pack into a freezable air tight container and let sit in freezer until sufficiently hard.

Raspberry Sauce
1 cup raspberries
1/4 cup sugar

Bring to a boil and simmer 5 mins. Let cool in fridge overnight.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Black Forest Cake

It's the beginning of the birthday season in my research group. We used to have a clump around April (miss you Korhan and Anoop!) but now they all seem to be in February. Our fearless leader ordered a cake but I couldn't resist making one too. But since we were already expecting a full size one, I made a mini 4" cake.

I decided on German Black Forest Cake because one of the birthday gals is of German heritage and it also has alcohol which is a plus (especially for a cake to be consumed mid-day).

For the cake I used a Wacky Cake recipe:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
4 T cocoa powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
1 T cider vinegar
6 T vegetable oil
1 c water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter and flour the sides of two 4" springforms and line bottom with parchment paper.
Sift flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cocoa together into a bowl. Whisk vanilla, vinegar, oil and water together in another bowl. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.
Fill pans until halfway full. There will be batter left over (which is perfect for 4 cupcakes).
Bake until tooth pick inserted comes out clean (maybe about 25 minutes). Let cool completely.

Kirsch Cherries
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
3 T kirsch
1/3 cup dried cherries (I use Montmorency ones from TJ's)

In a small saucepan, dissolve sugar into water over medium high. Bring to a boil. Add dried cherries and turn heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes then remove from heat. Stir in kirsch and let steep for 10 minutes.

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream (minus 2 T if you are making ganache)
1 T kirsch
3 T powdered sugar

Whip cream to soft peaks. Add kirsch and sugar. Whip until incorporated.

2 T heavy cream
1/4 c chopped chocolate (I used Green&Black's 70%)

Heat cream in microwave until hot (15-25 seconds). Pour over chopped chocolate. Wait a minute then mix until smooth.

Chocolate shavings:
Place a bar of chocolate in the microwave and heat until slightly warm but nowhere near melting. Scrape shavings from edge of chocolate bar with a vegetable peeler.

Level cakes. Put first layer down. Brush top with cherry kirsch syrup. Spread with ganache. Top with soaked cherries. Place second layer on and repeat. Frost with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Stuffed Peppers and Sauteed Fennel

Pics here. Words to come. X my heart.

Lemon Sabayon Pine Nut Tart and Rosemary Bread

Why would I be making these delicious things when I'm in the middle of grant writing? Well, it was for supper club! Anything for the creation of food that will soon be in my mouth. mmm.

So I made the rosemary bread from "Amy's Breads" and the Lemon Sabayon Tart with Pine Nut Crust from French Laundry. The rosemary bread is delicious. I think I've posted it before but when I made it this time I subbed 1/2 cup of high gluten bread flour for the original whole wheat and I think it made the bread moist and chewy while maintaining the crustiness. Great with evoo and balsamic.

I enjoyed making the Lemon Tart. It was quite easy although the Sabayon took a while. But I got to use my new awesome foot long whisk made out of piano wires that I bought from the C-town resto supply store. I have to admit, though, that I have no arm strength and could barely manage that big whisk after the first 10 seconds. So maybe next time it'll be the hand beater...

People loved the bread and liked the tart. Some complained that they could not taste the pine nuts. I decided this was because they did not know what pine nuts taste like because the crust is very distinctly pine nutty. The sabayon was smooth and so tart. Lovely.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happily a Verrine

I've been putting in long hours at school these days, lab work, writing, lab work, blog reading, writing, writing, writing...

When I get home, it's hard to get motivated to cook too much. But I know that if I make some verrines and leave them in the fridge, I'll wake up in the morning ready for forage for breakfast and find a beautiful delicious this waiting for me:
It would make you smile, no? It's a great way to start the day feeling tres pampered. Verrines are enticingly easy to make. Just layer ingredients you may have on hand. In one I used a berry gelee topped with vanilla yogurt topped with macerated strawberries and pistachios in a blood orange syrup. Delicious.

I made another verrine this morning to share with my advisor. Yes, we have work meetings on Sunday mornings - doesn't everyone? This one started with yogurt gelee which could use some improvement. Then it was topped by mixed berry compote. Then came the layer that made me think,"I'm a fucking genius.": yogurt mousse made with agar. I think I might finally have gotten the way to use agar to make mousse. Of course it took a half hour of searching on the internet and quite a few people have made mousse with agar so really I guess I'm not so much a genius. Damn.

Verrine #1

Berry Gelee
handful of blueberries
handful of strawberries cut up
handful of raspberries
2 spoons of sugar
1 spoon of lemon juice
1/2 t agar powder

Puree berries. Add berry puree, sugar and lemon juice together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for a few minutes. Sprinkle in agar and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Pour into bottom of small glasses. Let cool and set up. Pour some vanilla yogurt on top and chill.

Strawberry Mix:
1/2 cup strawberries diced
1/4 cup ground pistachios
2 t sugar

Mix together and let sit. Distribute over yogurt.

Blood Orange Syrup can be found here Drizzle over top of strawberries.

Verrine #2
Layer 1: sweetened yogurt
Layer 2: berry compote (same as berry gelee just without agar added)
Layer 3: yogurt mousse
1/4 c heavy cream
1/4 c powdered sugar
3/4 c yogurt
1/2 t agar
4 T water

Dissolve agar in water in a small pan. Whip yogurt in a bowl until smooth and slightly fluffy. Whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Whip in powdered sugar. Be careful not to overwhip. Boil agar mixture for 3 minutes stirring to dissolve the agar fully. While whisking slowly pour the agar mix into the yogurt. Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream until incorporated. Fold in rest of whipped cream.

Layer 4: fresh sliced strawberries

Here's the yogurt mousse:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pear (Quince) Frangipane Tarts

When I get all stressed after 10 hours of research, lab work, or procrastinating, I like to bake. So last night I looked at what I had in the fridge and found two quinces that I had bought in Flushing over New Years that were crying out to be eaten in some delicious form. Last fall I had made quince tarts out of quinces I salvaged from under a neighbors quince bush and they were good so tart it was. I used this recipe from Tartlette and it was easy, fast and delicious. I have to make frangipane more often! I admit I used frozen puff pastry from Trader Joe's but they make their puff pastry with butter so it's pretty darn tasty.

The tartlettes scared me when they were in the oven because the frangipane melted off to the sides and it looked like I was baking pancakes:

However, it wasn't really a big deal because one the tarts cooled, I chopped off the extra frangipane and was left with cute little tarts that looked like this:

I had at least 1 cup of frangipane leftover from making six little tarts. I cut two more pears in half, poached them, sliced and fanned to make one big "just pear" tart. This one I sprinkled some chopped pistachios on which was delicous and gave the tart more depth.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Plum Apple Pecan Tart

During the summer, I was making tarts left and right using an easy olive oil crust that I had found on several blogs. After making it the first time, I didn't measure anymore or use an exact recipe however La Tartine Gourmand has a great one for starters. The ground almonds can be exchanged for another type of nut. I've use pecans and walnuts successfully. Put the fruit in the middle, drizzle some honey or maple syrup over the fruit, fold over the edges and bake until golden. They came out delicious and the crust was flaky. Any combination fruits would work but I really loved apple and plum tarts.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pecan Caramel and Pistacchio Cranberry Macaron Balloons

Pecan Macarons with Caramel Pecan Filling

Oh, macarons, why, why? I made another batch of macarons this weekend by measuring by weight, sifting, proper (I think) folding and nice piping. I let them dry then popped them in the oven. They grew feet and were happy like little children playing next to the bonfire. But when I took them out of the oven, I found that they had huge air pockets and sticky fallen insides. Even though my last batch was finicky in a totally different (wrinkled shell) way, they didn't have air pockets.

After extensive research I think this may have been due to the oven temperature (too low - I knew I should have taken out those baking tiles!) and maybe me not baking them for long enough. I don't know. I can only eat these macarons with my eyes closed so I don't see the gigantic hole the middle of the shells. They still taste great. I'm just gonna pretend that this is a 'variation' of macaron, the balloon macaron, which is widely received in the smaller states such as Delaware and Rhode Island.

Pistachio Macarons with Pistachio Cranberry White Chocolate Ganache

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Seitan, Peppers and Onions

I made this with the Seitan Chorizo but I think it would be better with a more subdued flavored seitan.

Seitan and Peppers

1 T veggie oil suitable for high temperatures
1/2 lb seitan sliced thin
1 t minced ginger
2 cloves garlic minced
lotsa freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t salt

2 T oil
2 onions wedged
2 sweet peppers sliced

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup veggie broth
1 t sugar (or two mini scoops stevia)

1 t cornstarch dissolved in 2 T water

1. Heat oil over med heat. Throw in seitan, ginger and garlic. Fry, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes. Add black pepper. Add some more. Add salt. Stir and sautee until browned. Remove seitan from pan.

2. Add 2 T of oil to pan and heat over med-high to high. Throw in onions and peppers. Give the veggies a stir then let them sit for a bit to get nice and brown on one side. Stir and let sit. Repeat until onions are about cooked through.

3. Add in the soy sauce, broth and sugar. Give it a few stirs and then turn the heat down to low.

4. Add in the cornstarch slurry and keep stirring until the sauce thickens.

I've been really bad at taking pictures of my food BEFORE I eat it these days. But here's a picture from my phone. Just pretend I wrote this back in 2001 when digital cameras were still new...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Seitan Chorizo

I used Kittee's Basic Gluten Log as a the "bones" for the chorizo, except I halved it even though she said not to because I only had a cup and a half of vital wheat gluten.

1 onion sliced thin
1 T olive oil
pinch salt

1 t oregano
1 t freshly ground cumin (I did mine in a mortar with a pestle, a pestle I tell you!!!)
1 t sugar or 1 mini scoop of stevia (the scoop should come in your stevia bottle)
1/2 t chili powder
1 dried red chili crushed (I used a guajillo chile and crushed fine with my mortar and pestle)

2 gloves garlic minced or microplaned
1 T barbeque sauce
3/4 c water
1 T apple cider vinegar

1.5 c vital wheat gluten
1.5 T chickpea flour
1 T nutritional yeast
1 t instant tapioca

1 guajillo chile crushed

1. Over medium heat sautee onion and salt in olive oil until it is caramelized. Stir frequently while sauteeing.

2. While you're caramelizing the onion, measure out all your spices in a small bowl. Measure out your liquids in another container. Measure out your dry into a large bowl.

3. When the onions are done, chop them finely and add them to your liquids.

4. Mix your spices into your dry. Add the liquids and mix with a spoon until incorporated. Shape the gluten into a log about 2.5 inches in diameter. If you want the outside to have a brown color, rub the crushed guajillo pepper evenly all over the log.

5. Roll the log up in foil and secure the ends by twisting (as if you were wrapping a hard candy).

6. Place 2 cups of water in a pot and add a steam basket. Put foil wrapped gluten onto steamer. Bring to boil. Steam for 1 hour (maybe over medium heat?). Be sure to check that the water does not all evaporate during the cooking or else you will have burnt pot. Yum.

Notes: This was very tasty. The texture is unlike any seitan I've made before. Not chewy or rubbery at all. Very soft and biteable. As for rubbing the pepper on the outside of the seitan, it makes a great color but also stains everything red so you may want to leave that out.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A mighty Poire D'Eve attempt

My roommate D's birthday was this weekend and I wanted to make her a special cake so I thought of this beautiful concoction that Tartlette posted a while ago. It's a Poire D'Eve, a crispy chocolate feuillantine layer topped by a caramel mousse layer topped by a poached pear bavarian cream layer topped by a pear syrup "glass". It looked light and beautiful.

I started the night before, making the feuillantine and the caramel mousse. Both were delicious and I almost ate all the caramel mousse right away but I exercised great restraint and put it in the fridge instead.

In the morning I made the bavarian cream but used agar agar instead of gelatin. It wasn't the easiest substitution since the two are very different. Next time I think I would boil some agar agar in water to make sure it is completely dissolved and then put 3-4 tablespoons of the liquid into the creme anglaise. Also, you have to be careful with agar since it starts setting earlier than jello. I would keep stirring the agar'ed creme anglaise until it's cooled. Then whip in 1/3 of the whipped cream before folding the rest in.

When I brought out the mold to add the bavarian cream, I noticed that there was caramel liquid leaking out. Maybe I didn't whip the cream stiff enough?

When using agar agar for the mirror, I found it best to simmer the syrup and agar for 10 minutes then keep stirring it until it cools down to just slightly warmer than finger temperature. If you wait longer than that to pour it, it will be too thick and chunky as evidenced by my mirror.

Here's it is before unmolding:

It was quite pretty unmolded but I definitely didn't have a chance to take a picture. Also, I think the bavarian cream and the mousse were too soft so it was hard to cut nice slices. Maybe the cake has to be sliced frozen? Or it could be the agar agar. I think the agar has to be incorporated before it cools down otherwise it doesn't really gel the mixture, just makes clumps of gelled mixture in the whipped cream. I'll try to make a small 4" version of this with gelatin to see what the consistency should be and then see if I can recreate it with agar.

Also D made some pretty awesome matcha cupcakes with pomegranate cream cheese frosting: