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(The menu below was altered from the published menu to reflect what was available at the time of dining.  I forgot to take a photo of the actual menu, so I bet this isn’t 100% accurate since I’m doing it from memory.)

NEW YEAR’S EVE 2015

First

Kampachi Crudo
fennel, orange, olive, fried quinoa

Duck Confit and Sausage
sweet potato, lentils, pistachio

Grilled Mushroom Salad
potato, marjoram, egg yolk caramel

Seared Foie Gras Skillet ($12 supplement)
black pepper gougeres, gooseberries, whipped honey

Second

Cauliflower and Black Truffle Soup
thyme oil, parmesan, salsify

Salt-Roasted Beets
aged goat cheese, hazelnut, rye cracker

Baby Greens and Chicories
avocado, pinenut, grapefruit

Lobster Bisque ($10 supplement)
crab cake, coconut, basil

Main

Potato and Herb Gnocchi
brown butter, chestnut, parmesan

Seared Scallops
parsnip, brussels, pomegranate

Roasted Duck Breast
fennel, spiced carrots, dried fruit jus

40-day Dry Aged Bone-in Sirloin Steak ($15 supplement)
potato mille fuielle, black trumpets, bordelaise

Dessert

beeramisu

Indian Pudding
port, cornmeal, fig

Chocolate Mousse Trifle
hazelnut, brown butter cream, praline

hot apple cider
armagnac, fig, warm spices

might i?
tiki-style rum cocktail

czech & balance 
slivovitz, lillet blanc, burnt orange

church
gin, aperol, lemon

paper plane
bourbon, nonino amaro, lemon

pisticci cocktail
lucano amaro, privateer rum, sweet vermouth

thaw in the straw
bourbon, honey, lemon, ginger beer

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The crudo.  The person who ate this liked the fried quinoa best.

Continue Reading »

A Story of Star-crossed Lovers

Sort of.

Ok, not really.  But this is a story about some carbon steel skillets that I really wanted, only to realize that they’re not quite the right fit for me.

For almost a year now, I’ve been on the hunt for a carbon steel pan.  However, I had trouble deciding on one.  Cooks Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen champions for the Matfer Bourgeat, but in doing so caused many Matfer Bourgeat pans to sell out.  At the time of this post, the largest Matfer Bourgeat is priced over $200 on the Amazon Marketplace because it’s nearly impossible to find until the manufacturer releases more.

To be honest, there aren’t a lot of reviews on carbon steel skillets.  In general, it feels like the internet embraces cast iron skillets.  I got excited when my other favorite food company/website, ChefSteps, gave Darto pans a thumbs-up.

Darto is an Argentinian company.  I bemoaned the fact that shipping was going to cost more than one pan.  Earlier this December, they offered free international shipping for a minimum order of $150.  I found a friend who expressed interested and we shared an order.

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I bought the 20cm and the 27cm for myself.  They are beautiful!  They are made from a single sheet of metal which means that there are no bolts where the handle meets the body of the pan.

So, the pros:

  • construction
  • price (well, before shipping costs to the US)
  • handle stayed cooler than I thought it would
  • carbon steel has a wonderfully smooth surface (which is why I wanted it)

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The cons?

One con, and one con only.  The 27cm is really difficult to use for my smaller stature.  I’m not even 5’3″.  The handle of the 27cm pan was too tall, and too long.  The only way I could comfortable hold it was to brace my arm against the length of the handle.  That’s not the right way to hold a pan.  If it had a helper handle, I could probably over look the issue.  Sadly, it doesn’t.

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The 20cm is smaller all around, so I can use it more easily.

In sum, the search for a carbon steel skillet continues.

Reference Links

https://www.chefsteps.com/forum/posts/carbon-steel-pan-comparison

http://www.darto.org/us/

Deacon Giles was fully operational and open on weekends to the public at the end of October, but I didn’t have a chance to visit them again until today.  Everything looked great.  I could not be happier for founders Ian and Jesse.

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There were glasses on the table with aromatic samples of the herbs and spices that went into the gin.  I’m not sure if I can remember them all, but I remember: juniper, lemon peel, orange peel, cardamom pods, angelica root, rosehips, and mace.

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Above:  The “Chief Alchemist” pouring tasting samples to guests.

Deacon Giles rum and gin are slowly making their way into Greater Boston.  So far, they have a decent distribution around the North Shore area.

If you ever visit Salem, MA, I highly recommend visiting the distillery too!

Reference Link:
http://www.deacongiles.com/

A weekend dinner in pictures

I was in Dutchess County, New York, this past weekend.  Do you know what that means?

Dinner at Another Fork in the Road!

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Our menu for the evening – but the chicken under a brick had been replaced by fried chicken.  And now that I think about it, I think the kimchi brussel sprouts were unavailable.  I think it was more of a kimchi sauce that was on the plate.  Something had been sold out – maybe the rabbit meatballs?

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The cauliflower appetizer.  I only tasted a little bit of it because I am anti-cilantro, but what I tasted of it was very good.

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The kale and mussel toast.  OMG!  So good!

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The scallops platter was not mine, but I think it was the best of the entrees at our table.  I think I’m probably biased toward any plate with perfectly cooked scallops.

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The fried chicken was superb!  The sauce was spicy and very red, so I think it might have had gochujang in it.  The scallion pancake was a floppy disappointment though.  I guess I can’t have it all.

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The duck and soba soup was mine.  The broth and the duck were delicious.  Yes, that is cilantro you see.  Yes, I picked it all off.  In my defense, cilantro was not mentioned in the menu description for this dish.  The soba noodles were oddly a little bitter?  I wonder if they had been dressed in sauce before being added to the soup.

If for some weird reason you’re in Red Hook, NY, or elsewhere in Dutchess County, I still recommend having a meal here.

Reference Link:
https://www.facebook.com/anotherforkintheroad/

I have mixed feelings about 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter Meehan and the editors of Lucky Peach.  At first I was super excited for this cookbook.  It was going to go on my Christmas List**, but instead I got the chance to review it through Blogging for Books.  In general, I’m a fan of Lucky Peach magazine but I’m not totally sure that this book adds enough value to my cooking style.

9780804187794

The good? The recipes are varied.  Some are traditional, some more Asian American traditional.  And, some of the recipes have the wacky Lucky Peach/David Chang flair like Pesto Ramen or Spicy Mushroom Ragu.

On the to-do list:

Soy Sauce Kimchi
Dollar Dumplings
Com Tam Breakfast (pork sausage with rice and eggs)
Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake)
Scallion pancake
Pad See Ew (Thai noodle dish)
Spicy Mushroom Ragu
Jumuk Bap (rice balls with meat)
Sticky Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaves
Miso Claypot Chicken (no claypot)
Egg Custard Tarts

There are a few other recipes I want to try, but the ones listed above are the ones I actually see myself cooking sooner rather than later.

For this review, I picked something easy to try out.  In fact, I pretty much had all the ingredients.  I present:  The Odd Flavor Sauce.

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There’s actually nothing really “odd” about it.  The name hails from its inspiration, a recipe in Irene Kuo’s The Key to Chinese Cooking.  I chose to make it with almond butter and regular black peppercorns but I don’t think either of those ingredients vastly altered the recipe.

In short, it’s an all purpose Asian sauce.  It’s Chinese in influence, but that’s mostly because the ginger-scallion flavors are dominant.  I served it with plain broccoli, and a pork tenderloin that had been simply roasted with salt and pepper.  I wanted to know what the sauce tasted like without too much “outside influence.”

It’s good.  It’s solid.  It’s also nothing I would rave about.  It’s a simple enough recipe to have in my cooking repertoire but it’s nothing I would brag about.  I’ll have to try out a couple more recipes and see if that’s the case with the rest of the book.

The bad?  Honestly, my only negative comment on the book is that I can’t stand the kitschy photographs.  I get that it’s being all cute and 1970s revivalist.  For the most part, I can overlook it.  Ugh, but the picture for the Kimchi Pancake is an orange-tinged pancake against a bright orange background.  It hurts my eyes a bit.  I love kimchi pancakes but this particular image from the book does not whet my appetite.

Do I regret having this book on my shelf?  No.  But between this book and my other recent cookbook, Donburi, Donburi impresses me more.

Reference Links:

http://luckypeach.com/recipes/lucky-peach-odd-flavor-sauce/

http://luckypeach.com/recipes/mushroom-ragu/

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/250844/lucky-peach-presents-101-easy-asian-recipes-by-peter-meehan-and-the-editors-of-lucky-peach/

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/62092/peter-meehan/

 

Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post.

 

** = Instead, The Food Lab cookbook is on my Christmas List.  Whee!~

Milk tea mornings

Alternate title = “Am I the only one who does this?”

So, most of the time, my drink of choice is genmai-cha (Japanese green tea with toasted rice) or mugi-cha (roasted barley tea).  No sweetener, no milk.  Unadulterated tea.  Even when I do drink black teas, I still tend to drink them plain.  I’m very fond of drinking Irish Breakfast or Orange Pekoe black.

Now, I have nothing against milk teas.  In fact, I love hitting up a Taiwanese styled tea shop on occasion for sweet milk tea.  (No boba though, it’s too filling.)  (And I don’t go too often.  Even when requesting reduced sugar, it’s still a lot of calories.)  It’s more than I seldom satisfied with any milk tea that I prepare at home.  I know a few people so love black tea with sweetened condensed milk, but there’s something in the mouth-feel texture I don’t like.  If just milk is added, it just dilutes the tea flavor.  I’ve tried heating the milk and letting it be part of the steeping, but it feels like such a hassle.

A couple of months ago, I realized that I had an opened bag of dry milk that was going to go bad if I didn’t use it up.  (I couldn’t even remember which recipe I had originally used it for.)  It led to much searching on the internet for ideas for use, which eventually led me to this:

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I like this combo so much so that I used up the bag, and then went and bought a new bag of dry milk.  Right now, It’s part of my weekend morning routine**.  (Mornings of national holidays also apply.)  I think I use about 2 teaspoons per cup of black tea, but that’s just my preference.

How do you like your tea?

** = oh, I should pack up some and bring it to work

There are things we want, and there are things we need.  Donabe by Naoko Moore and Kyle Connaughton was definitely the former.  I won’t lie.  When I picked it up, I expected to treat it more like a coffee table book but I think I completely underestimated it.

Why did I want this book?  A handful of years ago, I read Naoko Moore’s blog regularly.  I don’t even remember how I found it.  But I did, and I’d dream about buying a donabe (particularly the rice cooker donabe) to make all sorts of Japanese inspired recipes.

You might be asking what is a donabe?  It’s the Japanese word for clay pot.

And now, you might be asking if I ever bought one?  Um, no.  To be fair, I never bought one because most of them are not recommended for an electric stove… of which  I have.  D’oh!

But still, I enjoyed Moore’s blog even though I rarely used any of the recipes she posted.

Oh.  Maybe I do know how I found her blog.  I learned to make shio koji and I think I was researching for more background information.

https://awesomesauceeats.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/mystery-experiment-part-2-of-2/

Moore use shio koji a lot.  She even included a recipe for it in her new cookbook.

Right, back to the cookbook.

Donabe-owner or not, I think I’m going to have to cook a lot of these recipes.  I think most of it should be ok for normal pots and pans.  The exceptions to this are the recipes meant for the rice cooker donabe and the donabe smoker.  But I imagine that the rice cooker donabe recipes can be made in an electric rice cooker.  I’ll have to experiment.  I don’t have a smoker though, so those recipes are unlikely to ever see the light of day in my kitchen.   

Thankfully, there are a lot of soup recipes (I love a good nabe) and steamed recipes.  These should all be ok to make in my kitchen.  So, things on the to do list (besides more shio koji)?

  • Kyoto-style saikyo miso hot pot
  • Chicken hot pot
  • Duck and tofu hot pot (well, minus the tofu because I’m allergic)
  • Chicken meatballs in hot sesame miso broth
  • Simmered pork shoulder
  • Salmon chowder with miso soy-milk broth (I plan on using whole milk)
  • Pork and vegetable miso soup (maybe mostly because I love watching Shinya Shokudo)
  • Steamed yellowtail shabu-shabu (looks very simple and delicious)
  • Steamed enoki mushrooms wrapped in beef
  • Green tea seam cake
  • Steamed-fried salmon and vegetables in miso sauce

Obviously, it looks I’m going to get a lot more use out of this book than I originally anticipated.

While most of the recipes are Japanese, there are also some recipes with Chinese or Western influences.

Oh, and the pictures are really lovely.  I get hungry just looking at them.  At the end of the day, I’m really quite pleased to own a copy of Donabe.  Maybe one day, I’ll get around to buying that rice cooker donabe for myself.

(Haha, but right now I really want a nice carbon steel skillet.  That might be a story for another day.)

(^_^)b

Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post.

Reference Links

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/239329/donabe-by-naoko-takei-moore-and-kyle-connaughton/

http://naokomoore.com/

http://toirokitchen.com/

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