Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Popular Culture Dinner

Oh my.  I've been so horribly bad about updating.

No..  truth be told, I've been horribly bad about actually cooking or baking or doing anything that would be blogworthy here.

Any news on the culinary side for me?  Not a ton.  But a few things.

I've discovered that the Pacific North West, or at least the Seattle area has discovered New Mexico Hatch green chile.  Yum. :-)   It doesn't tend to run as hot as I can get it back home, but at least I don't need to get it shipped in anymore if I'm just craving the good ol' flavor.  :-)

I found a nice 9-cup KitchenAid food processor on clearance recently, and am happy to finally have a better way to make things like pesto and what not. :-)  I've used my little 1-cup chopper to do things in the past, but it's a pain in the butt.  This instead is relatively compact and gives me what I need.  I recently used it to shred up some zucchini to make some bread, and also sliced other squash and things for dinner.  I'm enjoying it a lot and trying to make good use of it.

Another thing that has finally made it on my radar is the interesting fun of gluten-free cooking and baking.  So far, I'm less than impressed on the whole from the foodie perspective, but I do appreciate that it is possible to make reasonably tasting goods without gluten.  I've decided that given the variety I've both tried and had, that for one, there is no universal flour mix for everything.  Some things definitely work better than others.  But I think it will be an interesting challenge to see what does work out, and to maybe design certain combinations for specific things. Not as convenient as a do-it-all mix, but I'm all about taste here, so I think I'll forego the convenience in the name of flavor and texture.

As to Pop Culture Dinner Hour?  I'm a huge movie fan, and it has come up more than once recently that it would be interesting to make various dishes talked about on movies or perhaps certain TV series as well.  As such, I've been making a list.

Dilled Veal Balls with Squash Fritters finished with Tansy cakes with Peppermint Cream.  (though tansy being toxic, I'm less inclined to include it in the final recipe.) - A Knights Tale

Cinnamon Chicken - a la Almanzo Wilder via Little House in the Prarie

Liver and Fava Beans - chicken, I'm thinking. :-)   - The Silence of the Lambs

There will be lots more.  There are lots of interesting options.  And from Julie and Julia, just because we're talking about Julia Childs of course, there will be some boeuf bourguignon. :-)

I'll report back as I go.  We'll see what other interesting options I can come up with as well.  Should be good fun. :-)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Perhaps I'd call them Eggs Cumberbatch. :-)

In the history of my kitchen learning, it seems the basic sauces have been last to come around. Not for lack of particular interest or fear or anything like that. Mostly that I just haven't come to them yet.

Recently, I opted to try Hollandaise sauce in response to a fantastic Eggs Benedict I tried at the Flat Iron Grill here in Issaquah.  They make a crab-cake Benedict with an ancho hollandaise sauce, and it was to die for!  I decided that I had to have a go at it, and made a worthy replica.

The basics to a Hollandaise aren't too difficult, though there seems to be a few permutations that vary how the final product will turn out.

The basic idea is that you're building an emulsion between the egg yolk and the butter, which involves low heat, and a lot of whisking.

Even the butter is up for debate.  Some choosing cubed butter in the hot yolk/water mixture and others prefer either whole melted butter or clarified butter.  The melted butter, one way or another seems easiest, and whole versus clarified seemed to produce a richer flavor.

The big things to keep in mind are that if the eggs overheat, you'll scramble them.  And if you don't whisk well, your emulsion will break.  Remember to keep whisking through the entire process. It not only keeps the emulsion going, but it adds in air, which makes it light and wonderful.

I was craving eggs Benedict this morning, and opted to tweak it a little.  My love isn't fond of soft eggs, so I opted to fry hers over-hard.  I love a good runny yolk, but rather than break out the saucepan to poach mine, I just fried mine over-easy.  I suppose I could have just overcooked hers while I poached mine.  I may try that next time.

Ham wasn't really what I had in mind, so I picked up some smoked salmon to lay under my eggs.  The saltiness is just what the doctor ordered, and the only thing, in hindsight, I forgot to add was a sprinkle of capers.  The beauty of thinking beyond your current dish is that not only can you plan to fix your mistakes, but you can also think of new permutations of flavors and tweaks to the existing flavors.

With those thoughts in mind, I think I'll call it Eggs Cumberbatch.  Much like regular eggs Benedict, but with a little bit more class. :-)