Monday, May 28, 2012

Lemon Sabayon Tart with Honeyed Mascarpone Cream

It’s tart week on Reddit’s 52 weeks of cooking challenge, and once again I’m turning to Thomas Keller. This recipe comes from the French Laundry cookbook; it’s the only one I’ve actually completed to the letter. The only modification I’ve made to the recipe is to swap out a cup of pine nuts for almonds – mostly due to the price of pine nuts, but I have to admit I like the way the crust tastes with the two types of nuts.

For the Crust (yields three 9 inch crusts; freeze the extras, since you can’t really use 1/3 of an egg)

1 cup pine nuts
1 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
16 tablespoons (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the pine nuts in almonds in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the sugar and flour and pulse until the nuts are finally ground. Place the mixture in a mixing bowl. Add the softened butter, the egg, and the vanilla extract and mix to incorporate, either with the paddle attachment of a stand mixture, or by hand. Divide into 3 pieces (11 ounces each), wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least ten minutes before using. Freeze the extras.

Generously butter and flour a 9 inch tart pan, and refrigerate. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the chilled dough in the tart pan and press to fill the pan evenly, working the dough into the sides of the pan. Place a piece of foil on top of the dough and weigh down with a pound of pinto beans/pie weights. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pie weights, and bake for 10-15 minutes more, until the crust is golden brown. Let cool while you make the filling.

Filling (for one tart)

2 large eggs, cold
2 large egg yolks, cold
¾ cup sugar
½ cup fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

In a medium sauce pan, bring 1 ½ inches of water to a boil. In a bowl slightly larger than the diameter of the pan, whisk the eggs, yolks, and sugar for about a minute, until smooth. Place the bowl over the pot, and whisk the mixture while turning the bowl for even heating. After about 2 minutes, once the eggs are foamy and thickened, add 1/3 of the lemon juice. Whisk for 2 minutes, then add another 1/3 of the lemon juice. Whisk for two minutes more, then add rest of the lemon juice. Whisk for – you guessed it- 2 minutes. The mixture should be thickened, light in color, and the whisk should leave a trail at the bottom of the bowl. This all should take approximately 8-10 minutes.

Turn the heat off, but leave the bowl over the water and whisk in the butter one piece at a time. The sabayon may loosen, but it will thicken as it cools. Pour the sabayon into the tart shell, and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Preheat your broiler, and place the tart underneath. Leave the door open and carefully watch the tart. The top will brown in about 30 seconds; rotate as needed for even browning. Remove and let cool for at least an hour. Can be served cold or at room temperature, along with honeyed mascarpone cream.

Honeyed Mascarpone Cream:

½ cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon honey

In a bowl set over ice, whip the cream until it’s frothy. Add the mascarpone and honey and continue to whisk for 2 minutes, until the cream is thickened; I cheated and used a hand mixer for about a minute. Keep refrigerated.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Duck Roulades with Blackberry Gastrique and Duck Cracklings

Something about duck just screams French to me. I took the roulades from the French Laundry cookbook, and got the gastrique recipe from
I don’t usually cook specifically French food, but I’ve been exposed to various techniques of French cooking when making, say, mac and cheese using a b├ęchamel. Gastrique is something new to me and I thought the flavor was really interesting; it’s like a fruity tasting sweet and sour sauce, and somehow works well with duck.

Roulades (for 1 serving):

1 duck breast
1 large leaf of swiss chard or savoy cabbage
Salt and pepper
Ground allspice

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the chard/cabbage leaf for 3-4 minutes, until tender and remove to an ice water bath to stop cooking. Dry with paper towels. Remove the skin from the duck breast (don’t even think about tossing it – we’ll be rendering fat and making cracklings with it), and season with salt/pepper/allspice.

Lay a large piece of saran wrap lengthwise on a flat surface, and place the chard/cabbage leaf in the center. Roll the duck breast lengthwise (aka hot dog style), and place the breast on the chard/cabbage. Trim the chard so it’s more or less a rectangle, the width of the duck, and wide enough to wrap around the breast once. Wrap the chard around the breast, then wrap the plastic around the chard. Twist the ends of the plastic wrap in opposite directions, so the plastic becomes taught around the chard and helps make a perfect cylinder. Tie the ends of the plastic wrap together, and refrigerate for an hour or two (or more).

When it’s getting to be about dinner time, bring a pot of water to 190°F, and add the roulade (still in the plastic). Be sure to adjust the heat as needed to keep the temp at 190, and cook for 6-7 minutes for medium rare, 7-8 minutes for medium. Remove the roulade and let rest for 2-3 minutes before cutting.

Blackberry Gastrique

½ cup sugar
2 Tbsp water
½ cup Red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Red Wine
2/3 Cup fresh blackberries
2 sprigs thyme
Salt and pepper

Add the sugar and water to a small saucepan over medium heat. Don’t stir the mixture, but rotate the pan around occasionally to evenly cook the mixture until is becomes a blonde caramel color, about 5 minutes Add the red wine vinegar, and cook for 3 minutes longer. Add the red wine, and cook for 2-3 minutes longer, until the mixture starts to become syrupy. Add the blackberries and thyme, and continue to cook until the blackberries start to break down, another few minutes. The sauce should be sort of syrupy when it’s done. Remove the pan from heat, and season with salt and pepper to taste. You can make this ahead and refrigerate the sauce, reheating before serving.

Duck Cracklings:

Remember the skin from the duck breast? Cut it into a few pieces, approximately 1 inch each, and place in a cold pan. Turn the heat to medium, and cook the skin for about 8 minutes, flipping as needed, until crispy. Take a coffee filter and place it in a pyrex measuring cup/other container and pour the rendered fat through. Refrigerate, and use judiciously to make everything awesome.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Scallop Ceviche on Rice Crackers

I recently purchased the Eleven Madison Park cookbook, and my god, is it the porniest of food porn. The rice puffs/rice crackers/whatever you want to call them featured here are from the hors d’oeuvre section of the book. The book serves them with seared hamachi, but I was in the mood to make ceviche, so there you go. This recipe utilizes acetate sheets, which I think you can buy in a craft store. I did it without them, which yielded a yellower cracker than the fancy picture in the book. Also, this was my first time properly deep frying something, and I didn't burn my apartment to the ground. So I got that going for me.

Rice crackers (yields 8):
1 cup sushi rice
2 cups water
4 cups canola oil
Acetate sheets (optional)

Preheat oven to 175°F. Salt the water and bring to a boil in a sauce pan. Add the rice and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Turn off heat and allow the rice to steam for 5 minutes. Place a silicone baking mat (you can probably use parchment paper instead) on a sheet pan and pour the rice in the middle. Place an acetate sheet over top (I used parchment paper instead), and use a rolling pin to flatten the rice to about 1/8" thick. Remove the acetate/parchment and place the rice in the oven for two hours, until dry. Break the rice into 8 pieces or so.

In a medium pot, bring the oil up to 395°F. Deep fry the rice pieces until they turn white and puff. Mine didn’t turn white – probably since I didn’t use the acetate sheets. I found frying the rice for about a minute got it nice and crispy. Season with salt while the crisps are still warm.

½ pound scallops, cut into pieces
2 medium tomatoes, deseeded and diced
2 jalapenos, deseeded, deveined, and diced
2 radishes, diced
1 shallot, diced
½ cucumber, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup lime juice
½ cup orange juice
Handful each of parsley and cilantro, chopped

Chopping practice. Cut what needs to be cut, and combine everything except the herbs in a bowl. Allow the fish to marinade in the citrus for an hour so it can cook. Add the herbs and season with salt. Place a slice of avocado on a cooled rice cracker and add a dollop of ceviche to serve.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Arepas de Domino

This week's 52 Weeks of Cooking challenge  was to use 5 ingredients or less in a dish. I decided to try my hand at arepas, the biscuit-y corn cakes popular in Venezuela and Colombia. The inspiration comes from a food truck, Philly Delicias, which opened up about a block from my office back in January. My arepas didn't turn out as good as theirs, but what can you expect from a first try?

Ingredients (makes 6 arepas):

2 cups, masarepa (aka masa de arepa - PAN and Goya are two popular brands, I found both white and yellow corn varieties in my grocery store's ethnic aisle)
2.5 cups warm water
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Black beans, prepared (1 15 oz. can, or equivalent)
Bacon fat
Cotija cheese

Start by preheating your oven to 400F. In a large bowl, combine the masarepa and salt, mix, and then pour in the warm water. Mix the ingredients together with your hands, until a mass of dough is formed. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes. Shape the dough into 6 discs, roughly hamburger sized. Heat a large skillet over medium for a few minutes, then add a layer of canola oil and saute the arepas until they start to get some color, about 5 minutes a side (you may need to do this in two batches - don't crowd the arepas in the pan). Transfer the arepas to a baking sheet (use a paper towel to sop up excess oil), and place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the arepas make a hollow sound when you tap on them.

While the arepas are baking, heat a frying pan over medium, add a spoonful (or you know, more) bacon fat, and saute the beans for about 5 minutes. Once the arepas are cooked through, split them down the center, fill with beans and top with cheese.