Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bacon-infused Old Fashioned Cocktail

I recently had a similar cocktail at the Ravenous Pig in Orlando, Florida (wonderful experience there). I found several recipes for bacon-infused bourbon online, but decided to try it with rye as I prefer that spirit for Old Fashioned cocktails.



I picked a happy medium of the recipes I found for the amount of bacon drippings to use (from 1 oz. fat to 750 ml liquor, to 1 cup fat to 2 cups liquor {at Restaurant August}). I used about 1/4 cup of my homemade bacon (using the MC cure) drippings that I had saved in the refrigerator with 750 ml Old Overholt Straight Rye whiskey.



You  add the liquor to the melted fat and agitate the jar frequently over 6 hours, warming as needed to keep the fat liquid; then freeze overnight to solidify the fat for removal.



The recipe for the infusion and cocktail that I found on the New York Magazine site called for maple syrup which was also listed as an ingredient in the Ravenous Pig menu. I was so happy I already had some maple syrup on hand.



The Ravenous Pig used the maple glazed bacon strip garnish. I wanted to use that idea, but I didn’t want to take 20 minutes to cook up just a couple of slices of my homemade bacon so I (gasp!) used my “emergency freezer bacon” – Hormel Microwave Ready bacon that I keep in the freezer for bacon emergencies (anyway, it’s still BACON). This was very easy to do and I think the cocktail is very good.

My First Nomiku Recipe: Deep Fried Egg Yolks

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Deep Fried Egg Yolks (1)

I received my Kickstarter reward Nomiku immersion circulator last week, the night before I was leaving for vacation. I didn’t let myself even open the box because I was afraid of getting sucked into trying it when I really needed to get to sleep.

Being the egg yolk fan that I am, I’ve been anxious to try the recipe for Deep Fried Egg Yolks that I saw in the web version primer kindly provided by the founders for the backers to look at while waiting for their unit to ship.


Deep Fried Egg Yolks (2)

The unit seemed to keep a stable temperature as specified and the yolks came out perfect (though I popped one, being too vigorous when pinching off a chalaza). I was able to rescue it by proceeding quickly to the breading and frying.


Deep Fried Egg Yolks (4)

Served the yolks with homemade bacon and hash browns fried in duck fat. I’m very pleased with the result and the Nomiku.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Duck-Fat Powder for Popcorn


THE perfect popcorn seasoning? At least it’s the best I’ve ever tasted.

It was finally cold enough to light a fire last weekend, and I love popcorn and hot chocolate by the fire. I had a quarter tub of rendered duck fat from D’Artagnan in the fridge and some tapioca maltodextrin in my pantry and thought, “Eureka! I can make duck-fat powder for my popcorn.” I decided to search online for some relevant recipes to get an idea of the ratio (since I was sitting in my office and didn’t feel like going to my cookbook shelf to check MC). Much to my chagrin, I found that Scott Heimendinger of Seattle Food Geek and MC's Director of Applied Research had posted a recipe for just that. I’m sure I must have seen his post in the past; and here I thought I had had a genius idea…


It’s a very quick and easy modernist cuisine technique with the addition of a tiny bit of cornstarch to prevent clumping and some popcorn salt. I popped 1/3 cup of popcorn in about 3 tablespoons of duck fat, then tossed it with the duck-fat powder. Oh my! It was so good, I may serve it at my next party. My husband skeptically deigned to try some; he went through the rest of the bowl like a wood-chipper. In fact, it was so wonderful, and since it used half of my small bag of tapioca maltodextrin, I immediately ordered a one pound tub of it to keep on hand.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

“B” Dinner: Buffalo Wings, Blue Cheese Dip, Broccoli Soup

I recently purchased

and finally gave in and bought a pressure cooker.

I love this set since I couldn’t decide which size to buy. This comes with a 4 and 8 quart pot, trivet and steamer basket, a glass lid in addition to the pressure lid so it’s not a single purpose item, two pressure settings, and it works on my induction burner.


Tried the much lauded (from Modernist Cuisine) @ Home version of the Caramelized Carrot Soup and brown chicken stock last weekend to christen the pressure cooker.


I strained the stock first through a colander, and then through a 100 micron mesh bag.



Very tasty and wonderful body. I used it 50:50 with water in the carrot soup because I didn’t want to search for carrot juice.



I see what all the fuss is about. The soup was wonderful.  And I wish I’d bought that pressure cooker set last year when I got MC.


Yesterday I was indulging in my usual Saturday morning food blog surfing and followed a link on to a Food Lab article on Korean Fried Chicken by Kenji. I had been tempted by the crispy wings in MC@H, but I don’t have the sous vide capacity to make very many at once, and if I make wings (and have to share with my husband), I want a lot.

The Korean Wings post lead me to Kenji’s Food Lab article on The Ultimate Extra-Crispy Double Fried Confit Buffalo Wings. This recipe uses four pounds of wings – now that’s more like it.



I used the oven method to confit the wings; I like the unattended cooking aspect of it. Even though it’s not from MC@H, it does have the same spirit.



With all this impromptu cooking, conceived that morning, I didn’t want to burden my husband who was shopping for me on his way home by adding all the ingredients needed for the MC@H Buffalo sauce. I went with my standard sauce of half butter and half Crystal Hot Sauce.



I did feel I could impose on him enough to find some blue cheese and milk so I could make the Blue Cheese Sauce. He brought home some lovely Stilton.



The Caramelized Carrot Soup was so good, I was anxious to try the Broccoli-Gruyere Soup (especially since I had broccoli, gruyere, and the MC@H brown chicken stock  in the fridge already).


I didn’t have hazelnuts for the garnish, so I used roasted-salted pumpkin seeds with the thyme. My husband and I loved it. It’s more olive toned than Gordon Ramsey’s bright green broccoli soup. I may cut down on the pressure cooking time next try to see if I can keep a better color.


Since the MC@H Blue Cheese Sauce is heat stable with the sodium citrate, I warmed a portion of the sauce to use in my whipper and try it in addition to the chilled sauce. I think I prefer the contrast of the cold sauce with the hot wings.


(Sorry about the messy plating, by this time my husband and I were so hungry, we just put the food on the plate and I took one quick photo.)

Either way, the Blue Cheese Sauce is great. Well worth making rather than using store-bought or standard home-made dressing. Intense blue cheese flavor. The wings were as Kenji promised; ultra-crispy and kept their crispiness even with standard Buffalo sauce.

I will be making all of these again, and hopefully frequently.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Modernist Cuisine | Tomato Spheres with Basil Oil

For my first shot at spherification, I thought I'd try the summery take on familiar Insalata Caprese with Tomato Water with Basil Oil served in mozzarella cups. I originally wanted to try to make balsamic caviar, but decided that would be too ambitious for a first attempt.
No centrifuge at my house. Luckily found a pointer to McMaster-Carr 100 micron filter bags somewhere in the egullet forums a few weeks ago. The output is not clear as in the centrifuged version, but at least I get to try it.

Tomato water made from my BIL's homegrown tomatoes

Basil Oil

The day before  I used Algin and Calcic from the
for the tomato water and bath, and made the basil oil. I planned to use a 2 1/4 tsp. yeast measuring spoon for the spheres (wanted a bit smaller bite than 1 tablespoon), and molded Ciliegine mozzarella cut in half and softened in hot water on the back of it to hold the spheres for service.
Mise   Tomato water, measuring spoon, small syringe for trial with 18g needle containing basil oil, Calcic bath is out of photo to left, and water rinses to right. Slotted spoon is in my hand as I forgot to put it down to take the photo.
I made 4 miserable looking blobs – none decent enough to even try to inject the basil oil -  then quietly gave up and quickly put everything away in the refrigerator. Time to step back and relax. Company expected soon for the 4th, don’t push it.

On vacation this week, quiet day at home, time to try again.
Not very spherical but the basil inclusion is fairly nice and round.

IMG_1000000171Much better, though the basil oil is wonky. I almost like it better this way, doesn't look so much like an eyeball.
I'll practice a bit more when my husband gets home this evening so he can try one.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Modernist Cuisine Mac & Cheese | Make Your Own “Top Shelf” Processed Cheese Block

MC Mac & Cheese04062011_13
I’ve been waiting like a 6 year old for Christmas for my copy of Modernist Cuisine. Thanks to the wonderful Chris Amirault on eGullet, I was able to make the Modernist Cuisine Mac & Cheese while waiting for my copy of the opus (which I’ve finally received the shipping email notification on). The underlying theme of this recipe is to create your own processed cheese that will be “break proof” (you can even boil it and it won’t separate into globs of cheese and fat) but made from high quality cheese rather than unripe scraps, etc. Imagine having a homemade processed block of cheese in your freezer that will melt and be as stable as Velveeta, but made with a fine aged Cheddar and Gouda. You need to have a couple of “chemicals” on hand; but they are ingredients that have been used in certain areas of the world for hundreds, if not thousands of years. It’s just recently that we have them available in a shelf stable, convenient form. When I did a medical school rotation in Scotland (many years ago), the wonderful 80 year old woman that befriended me made me a traditional island pudding that had been made for centuries from carrageenan in seaweed that she harvested, dried, and processed herself. So, you can’t get away with saying this is made with mad scientist chemicals – it’s actually old school, many Americans just aren’t familiar with the wonderful properties of these ingredients. As Chris Hennes on eGullet so eruditely put it:
“No, this isn't some kind of play on words, or a joke-recipe, or some kind of fascinating modernist creation. It's just macaroni and cheese. This recipe is a clear demonstration that while you can use modernist ingredients to create some really crazy stuff, you can also apply them to simply take a classic dish and make it better. And believe me when I say it: this version of mac and cheese is so vastly, clearly superior to anything I've ever had it is mind boggling.
There are two keys to the dish, both related to problems with the original: the first is that when you make a cheese sauce with a béchamel base, you have to use a LOT of béchamel, and there is a limit to how much cheese you can add before it breaks. This winds up diluting the cheese flavor, and is part of the reason I would never consider making a traditional mac and cheese with a really great cheese: its subtlety would simply be lost, and you'd gain nothing over using a simpler cheese. The second key is that not only does béchamel dilute the cheese flavor purely by volume, it also has poor "flavor release" compared to, say, carrageenan: the book spends a great deal of time talking about this sort of thing, and it's very helpful for understanding why these techniques work as well as they do.
So, the modernist version of the dish does away with the béchamel base: instead, you make a small amount of a solution of beer, water,
sodium citrate (to emulsify the cheese) and carrageenan (the thicken the sauce). You then melt a huge quantity of excellent cheese into it (I used Cabot clothbound cheddar and Roomano Pradera Gouda), in effect making your own processed cheese block. You chill it down until you literally have a block of processed cheese more or less the consistency of Velveeta, and then you shred it. The pasta is cooked in just enough water for it to absorb, and then the shredded cheese product is stirred in. You wind up with a mac and cheese the same texture as if you had used Velveeta: perfectly, flawlessly smooth. Except it tastes incredibly intensely like the best cheeses in the world! Perhaps you have gathered here that I rather liked the stuff. If this is "Modernist" then consider me modernified.”
When I read this, I was hooked! Unfortunately, when I was shopping for the cheese for this recipe, Whole Foods was having a bad cheese day; my result was good, but not transcendent. The Cabot clothbound Cheddar isn’t available until Friday, and I need to search for a good, aged Gouda. Anyway, the results were still phenomenal.

MC Mac & Cheese04062011_01
I found the Sodium Citrate and Iota Carrageenan on I already had a precision scale for my natural perfume work.

MC Mac & Cheese04062011_02

MC Mac & Cheese04062011_03
Uniodized, please.

MC Mac & Cheese04062011_05
These are decent, but could be improved on.

MC Mac & Cheese04062011_06
About 140 g each cheese.

MC Mac & Cheese04062011_07
Wheat beer plus (not shown) 100g water.

MC Mac & Cheese04062011_08
Melted like a dream.

MC Mac & Cheese04062011_09
Looks just like Velveeta, but smells divine.

MC Mac & Cheese04062011_10
Wrapped up to freeze to aid in grating.

MC Mac & Cheese04062011_11
For two servings; cooked for 7 min. in 300 g water and 2.4 g salt. With this “low water” pasta method, you don’t drain the pasta, but the small amount of pasta water left in the pot when the pasta is al dente is used to make the sauce.

MC Mac & Cheese04062011_12
Roughly 1/2 the block of processed cheese grated. Even though I pretreated my box grater with Pam (perish the thought), I still made a streaky mess. I think next time (as I read on the forum topic), I’ll just cube the cheese. I like a cheese wire for soft cheese such as this, and I think it will work well. The processed cheese melts so beautifully, you could almost throw a huge chunk in there and have it turn out well.

MC Mac & Cheese04062011_13
I served this with the wheat beer used to make the sauce in a frosted mug. Once your processed cheese in made, this mac & cheese is nearly as convenient as the blue box. By the time you boil the water and cook your pasta (maybe 10 min. total depending on your cooktop); you can have your cheese grated or cubed, and your plates warmed. I’ve lain awake at night thinking of all the ways to use this “break proof” processed cheese: nearly instant cheese sauce for vegetables, fool-proof fondue, bow-down-and-worship-me Rotel cheese dip! (When I was growing up, my mother always cooked from scratch. I’ve never tasted boxed mac & cheese, Hamburger Helper, etc. I never thought Velveeta would cross my lips until an old grade school friend from Louisiana made me try Velveeta-Rotel dip on a visit during my college days) I can’t wait to bring this to a party and see the stunned reaction.
Whole Foods is supposed to carry Cabot clothbound cheddar on Friday, I imagine I’ll be there the minute they open. I may even add a soupçon of dry mustard and cayenne to my next batch. I have a premonition that my signature processed cheese will be a staple in my freezer for the rest of my days.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bacon Jam and Sous Vide Egg Yolk Sandwich

Bacon Jam & Egg Sand03092011_03

I love egg yolks on toast, but find rubbery egg whites a crime against nature. I used to make Eggs Mollet in my Chef’s Choice egg cooker and carefully (and frequently unsuccessfully)  try peel off the whites for a spreadable egg yolk “curd” for my bacon and egg sandwich.


Bacon Jam & Egg Sand03092011_02

Since I bought my Sous Vide Supreme, I have learned to cook eggs at 64C for 1 hour to produce eggs that can be denuded of the (nasty, jiggly) white; leaving a yolk that is the consistency of lemon curd that can be spread on a slice of toast to make the perfect bacon and egg yolk sandwich.  I usually make this with strips of my home-cured bacon, but I was very pleased with the bacon jam version.


Bacon Jam & Egg Sand03092011_03

I don’t have the vocabulary to describe how wonderful this was with fresh ground pepper, Maldon sea salt and Lurpak butter on white toast.