Egg ‘Souffle’ Sous Vide with Bacon and Kale

Read my post on seasonal Deconstructed Egg Cooked Sous Vide.

Classic French Onion Soup

This page has moved.  Read my Classic French Onion Soup Recipe.

Momofuku Style Marinated Hanger Steak

David Change from Momofuku is one of my favorite young chefs.  His korean-american cuisine is real genius.  His steamed pork buns are heavenly.  I picked up a hanger steak on sale at the local co-op.  Here is my take on his marinated hanger steak reprinted from his book.

Hanger Steak:

2 cups sweet apple cider (the original recipe calls for apple juice)
½ cup soy sauce
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 to 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

I let it marinade for two days.  Then I cooked the steak ghetto sous vide in the marinade using a big pot of hot water at 120 F.  I finished it on the grill to give it a sear.

I served the steak with the scallion-ginger dressing described the recipe, which added a nice spicy and refreshing note to the dish.  It was somewhat reminiscent of the ginger salad dressing used in many sushi restaurants when combined with the lettuce.

It was my first attempt at cooking sous vide and I was really impressed by the results.

Ribollita: Italian kale soup

This page has moved.  Read my Recipe for Ribollita Italian Kale Soup.

Fall Apple Cider Cocktail night

The leaves are changing, it’s a bit chilly and the wind has nippy bite.   It must be apple season.  I’ve been resisting, but it’s becoming clear as the produce available at the farmers market changes.  The tomatoes, corn, and fresh herbs are being replaced by pumpkins, squash, apples, hearty greens, and root vegetables.

Today I succomb and gave my self to it, buying a big gallon of sweet cider.  After a long day of studying for my AI exam, I am looking forward to curling up on my couch with a warming glass.  Of course, the cider will be really special if it is accompanied by a wee dram.   So I set out to look for a good accoutrement to the cider.

I’m always a fan of anything involving applejack, a traditional American beverage.  I am holding out for the hard to find bonded stuff.  To go with cider, a good complements are bourbon, rum, or even sweet and hard cider-on-cider action.  Here are a few ideas I gathered from the web.

Hot Buttered Cider

Stone Fence
Green Street, they serve a version of bourbon and cider called the Stone Fence: Old Fitzgerald 1849 bourbon, sweet cider (probably pasteurized), and Angostura bitters over ice with a lemon wheel for garnish.

Mulled Cider Cocktail
It makes a spiced cider syrup that is added to cava.   Instead of cava, what about adding it to hard sparkling cider?

What could go better with apples (and cider) than bacon.  So, my ideas is to do a cider cocktail with a bacon infused bourbon.

I followed the recipe from PDT for a bacon infused bourbon.  (A butter and vanilla infused rum also sounds amazing.The result of infusing the bourbon with bacon is a rich, smoky flavor that somewhat reminds me of a peaty scotch.

Adaptation of a Stone Fence
2 oz bacon infused bourbon
1 oz sweet apple cider
a few dashes of Angostura bitters (an orange/spice flavoring)

The sweetness of the cider is a nice complement to the smokiness of the bourbon.  Krystle likes it warm, but I prefer it slightly chilled.

Lastly, here a few of my “buying” notes on bourbons that could be suitable.  Avoid the “too popular” choices like Jim bean, Marker’s Mark.  These are popular but spend more on marketing than their product.  Instead favor lesser known brands where you are paying for the product.  Here are a few I found from around the web that garnered good reviews:

1) Elijah Craig 12-Year
2) Eagle Rare 10-Year
3) Buffalo Trace (for example, Charter 101, W.L. Weller 12-Year-Old Bourbon)
4) Evan Williams Single Barrel (any year…  althought ppl say to get the 10 yr)
5) Old Fitzgeralds 1849
6) Others include: Ancient Ancient Age (not a typo), table: W.L. Weller/Elmer T. Lee/Bulleit

Cheers!

Pantry Pasta: Fettucine with Tomatoes and White Beans Topped with Ham Chips

This recipe is not about the freshest ingredients.  It is about scraping the bottom of the fridge and the pantry to create a simple and hearty meal after a long day bike riding on the Norwottuck rail trail.

I haven’t been grocery shopping properly for almost two weeks.  When I looked into our fridge for dinner the it was really sad.  There was Frank’s hot sauce, mustard, beer, cucumbers, and a few indistinguishable items lurking in the corners.  I turned to the pantry for rescue.  Luckily, we had a pack of fettucine and a can of beans. There were also a few tins of whole tomatoes that had been there for at least 6 months.  With this meager base, I scrounged through the far corners of the fridge to find a few odd items to spice it up.  I found a pieces of sliced ham leftover from sandwiches and an old hard dried out rind of Parmesan.  Here is the result,

Fettucine in Red Sauce with Ham Chips and White Beans
Here are the basic ingredients for the pasta and sauce:

  • 1 lb Italian dried Fettucine (or other pasta)
  • 2 28 oz cans of whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
  • 2 medium red onions, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of  garlic, smashed
  • 1 chile de arbol, broken (or red pepper flake)
  • 1 C red wine (I used a Spanish Rioja)
  • 1 Tbsp dried California Basil (or a handful of fresh, chopped)
  • 1 Tsp Greek oregano
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp good vinegar (I used a good white wine vinegar)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt, Pepper

Separately, here are the pantry and fridge additions that can be substituted for whatever is on hand.  In this case I had,

  • 3 slices of uncured sliced ham, chopped
  • 1 or more Parmesan rinds
  • 1 12 oz can of Cannellini beans

Red Tomato Sauce
First, I started the sauce by sweating the onions, garlic, and chile pepper in olive oil.  I deglazed the pan with the red wine and reduced until it was mostly evaporated.  I added the two cans of tomatoes, dried herbs, and parmesan rind and reduced the heat to simmer.  If you have fresh herbs, omit the dried herbs and add the fresh herbs at the end of cooking.

Ham Chips
Lacking bacon or pancetta, I turned to the sad looking sandwich meat for flavor and texture.  I sauteed the ham in olive oil until very brown and crispy.  I removed them for later and then deglazed the pan with water and reduced the meaty goodness until it was a few tablespoons.  This was added to the tomato sauce for body and flavor.  I could go on about the beautiful results of the Maillard reaction, but that’s another post.

I drained the beans and rinsed them.  To get more flavor into the anemic looking beans, I tossed them with the vinegar and olive oil to marinate.

Pasta
I cooked the pasta in well salted water (it tastes like the ocean) until not quite al dente.  I drained it, reserving a bit of cooking liquid for the sauce.  I finished cooking the pasta in the tomato sauce to let it absorb the flavors and tossed in the beans with their marinade.

I topped the pasta with a few last meager shavings from the Parmesan rind, the crispy ham chips, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Walla!  A relatively simple dish that can be made with virtually nothing in the fridge.  And the best part is that we have plenty of leftovers for lunch.

I really like this dish.  I think the parmesan rind adds richness and complexity to the tomato sauce.  The simple sandwich meat was amazingly delicious and crispy as a topping for the pasta.

But, tomorrow it is time to go grocery shopping!

A Gourmet Guide to Barcelona

Helpful Notes
First, a few helpful pointers to avoid disappointment.  Most places are closed on Sundays.  There are a few cafes open, but they mostly cater to tourists.  Consider getting out of Barcelona on a Sunday and pack a picnic on the beach or grabbing something on the go while visiting Tarragona, Montserrat, or somewhere up the coast.   Second, some places are closed or have shorter hours on Monday as well.  The best time in Barcelona is Teusday through Saturday.  Lastly, most places are closed August.  La Boqueria and the markets are ghost towns.

Gourmet Walking Tour

If you want to spend a few hours taking in the gastronomic sights of Barcelona, a good introduction is to roughly follow the route of the Gourmet Walking Tour.  You can’t eat everywhere, but mix in various shops.  My favourites from the tour

  • La Boqueria for breakfast, lunch, or supplies for a picnic
  • Escriba for the best chocolate croissant in Barcelona
  • Carrer de Petritxol for a stop at a Granja La Pallaresa or Dulcinea for hot chocolate and a pastry
  • Xurreria – for churros
  • Caelum – a perfect stop for tea, chocolate, and a delectable cake or chocolate snack
  • Oroliquido – for the best olive oils and sherry vinegars
  • Mercat Santa Caterina – for lunch at La Torna, a stop at Olisoliva, or a kiosk for Jamon

Desayuno (Breakfast)

Breakfast in Spain starts late, from 9-10am and generally comes in two forms.  The first, is generally a coffee (caffe) and small snack, a “mini” sandwich de tortilla (or jamon) or a pastry like a xuxo or ensaimada.  The second is a hearty and filling meal, for example a stew of beans and sausage or seafood a la plancha.  Typically, the big meal is accompanied by a generous quantity of red wine or cava.  Here are some of my picks for breakfast:

Bar Pinotxo – The best cortado, xuxo, ensaimada, or a larger plate of the day.

Xuxo at Bar Pinotxo
Tapas24 – Patatas Fritas con Huevos y Jamon


Escriba – Coffee or Hot chocolate and the best chocolate croissant, recommended by Ferran Adria.

Almuerzo (Lunch)

Lunch in Spain is typically a sit down multi-course meal that starts around 1:30-2:30pm and lasts until 3 or 3:30pm.  If you see people eating before that, stay away because it’s for tourists.  You may also do an earlier “brunch” on a Saturday, but this is less typical.  There is a Catalan tradition on weekends “Fer el Vermut“, a snack before lunch.

  • Lunch (or brunch) at a kiosk in La Boqueria.  My favorites are El Quim for chipirones con Huevos (Baby octopus with eggs),  Bar Pinotxo for a special of the day and some red wine or cava.  I’ve also been told good things about kiosk Universal.chipirones con huevos
  • Cova Fumada – A typical local place in Barcenoleta.
  • Picnic stop at one of the markets above and buy 100 grams of Jamon, 200 grams of manchego (or other cheese), a baguette, and a bottle of red wine.  Eat it in the Citudella parc, Parc Guell, or the Grec Parc near Montjuic.
  • Consider Alkimia for an unforgettable and leisurely high-end lunch near the Sagrada Familia.  The next two options are cheaper alternatives also near the Sagrada.
  • La Paradeta for cheap seafood (closed Mondays).  It has three locations in Barcelona and one in Sitges.
  • Origen 99.9% – A small chain focusing on local Catalan cuisine.  The quality varies by location, but it offers a reasonable value for lunch.  It has outposts near the Sagrada Familia, Santa Maria del Mar church, and Universidad metro.
  • Cafe Viena is the local fast food and one of the few decent places on Las Ramblas.  It serves burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches.  It was made famous by Mark Bittman in the NY Times, laying claim that the flauta d’ibéric d.o. jabugo is “the best sandwich”.  It’s not even close to the best in Barcelona, but it is tasty and relatively inexpensive.

Lunch largely depends on your plans for the day, but I would recommend taking a leisurely lunch somewhere with a menu del dia.  Go with one that it is off the main tourist streets or squares.  Typical meals should cost between 10-15 euros and include wine or water.

Snack

  • Xurros from a Xurrerria – The quality can be hit and miss.
  • A macaroon or pastry from Bubo (near Santa Caterina del Mar church)
  • Olives or anchoas and “una caña” (a beer) on a terrace.  Moritz is the best local beer brewed in Barcelona.  They have a stronger and darker “epidor” if you can find it.

For wine, consider one of the several locations of Vila Viniteca and pick up some local cava from Penedes, or a red wine from Priorat or other local DOC.

Cena (Dinner)

In Spain dinner is a smaller meal because many people have a big sit down meal at lunch time.  Dinner also starts late, from around 9pm and goes until 11 or midnight.  I don’t recommend eating before that unless it is for tapas which run a bit earlier, from around 7-10pm.  A few suggestions:

  • See my previous posts on tapas restaurants and fine dining.
  • Bacoa, a tiny place behind the Mercat Santa Caterina serving some of the best burgers in Barcelona.   Have the “Bacoa” which comes with manchego, onion jam, and bacon.
  • Pizza – there are several great Italian restaurants in BCN if you want a break from Spanish food.  For example, Bella Napoli is famous for its pizzas and its sea urchin pasta.  Another good choice is Ravalo for cheap thin crust pizzas.
  • For super-cheap or late night eats, stop at one of the ubiquitous Frankfurter joints, like “Otto Stylt” for a Hamburgesa Completa, a Frankfurter, and some fries.

Dessert

  • Bubo for a pastry
  • Gelato in Gracia.  See the Gelato guide.  My favorite is Gelateria Cafeteria Italiana for the dark chocolate.
  • Crema Catalana  or Tarte Crema Catalana from a local shop with dinner