Why not right?! I just made a pie two days ago as well… more on that soon… But this bad boy, I’ve been meaning to share for a while, so here it is! Banana bread may seem like a winter thing, but who says I can’t enjoy it in summer? Dude, when I crave, I crave– Plus I made this for my best friend, Jess– Its her fave, and consequently, the first thing I ever cooked for her. Ah, nostalgia… You’d think we were a couple… ha! Kidding! Somehow, I think her lovely fiance´ would fight me ….
In any case, check it out
Becky’s tropical-ish Banana Bread
1 3/4 C AP flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 C brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 smallish very ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 C canola oil
1/2 cup shredded [toasted] coconut
1/4 C toasted and roughly chopped macadamia nuts
Preheat oven to 350, and grease a loaf pan with butter, and set aside. Mix dry, separately mix wet (milk, oil, eggs, bananas). Combine and stir gently, just until its all combined. Don’t over mix or it will turn out a tough loaf. Fold in coconut and nuts. Pour into prepared greased pan, and sprinkle a little extra toasted coconut and macadamias, on top.
Bake for about an hour, plus or minus 15 minutes, until its golden brown, and a wooden skewer inserted into the thickest part, comes out clean.
Allow to cool on a rack, for 10 minutes, then turn out of pan to cool completely.
Enjoy sliced, with a little honey, or just by itself. Tasty!! Enjoy
And we’re in the coooouuuntry!!! Yeehaw! You’d think it would be a complete dream come true for me! Horses, cowboys and GORDON RAMSAY, OH MY!!
Its undoubtedly going to be another whirlwind of an adventure. In the last couple weeks, I have been progressively portrayed as the deceptive, self righteous villain… So. Not. True. Be that as it may, it is what it is. And what it is, is malarkey. The power of what is not shown, is as powerful, if not more so, than what is shown. Make sense? In other words– If 10 people don’t jump off a bridge, but one does. And they only show me not jumping– then I’ll look like the lone wolf– Where in reality, its simply a trick of the eye, if you will…
All in all, I am not saying this to try and plead a case, or ‘explain myself.’ I am simply presenting the facts, in such a way that some may not have thought about before. I adore and deeply respect every one of my MASTERCHEF cast-mates– and wish them all glowing bright futures. I would never disrespect someone now, for the sake of ratings, twitter followers, or god forbid, ‘likes.’ Its simply ludicrous to me to begin with. Social media in and of itself is a powerful tool, but one that is FREQUENTLY misused and abused. However…that’s a rant for another day.
Things that were said on the show are just that…ON THE SHOW. After all, its a cooking competition for a quarter of a million dollars. I was stressed, confused, competitive, and overall experiencing so much stimulus from a million different directions, it was all I could do not to scream, pass out on camera–followed by some sort of delightedly attractive puking on myself…. Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic (you know me…) but really, its pretty much that weird to me. Every single day, I woke up and prayed that every person in that kitchen would do amazing things, take pride in themselves, and have fun. I thanked god for each one of them. Because when its all said and done, those people are my family. No matter how many people I make vomit, how many ethnic asses I kiss, or how many tears I shed on another peers shoulder. I will always have a special relationship with all of them. Because its hard as sh** to cook in that kitchen, and for those judges. I don’t care who you are, or what you think you know– you would struggle too. Not only with your cooking, but with yourself– finding who you are, and who you want to be. I learned more about life and myself in my time on Masterchef–than I have in the last decade. True story folks.
ON FOX 8PM CENTRAL TIME | 9PM PACIFIC TIME
Okay, watch MASTERCHEF on FOX tonight!!!!! It’s going to be fun as always– I’m sure I’ll make an ass of myself again (big surprise… I am a huge spaz people… and YES, I really really am ALWAYS that energetic. Those producers couldn’t hold me still if they had a gun to my head) and hopefully cook/fight my way into the next episode–but truthfully, every day is a mystery– no doubt those judges are chomping at the bit to massacre a new home cook and send them packing…Please god don’t be me
Love and APPRECIATE YOU ALL!!!!!!!
FOLLOW ME PEEPS: @MC3Becky
Facebook: Masterchef Becky Becky Reams cooks
Well you know what today is!!! Masterchef Monday, perhaps one of the only reasons why I look forward to Monday’s… well, actually, yes. The only reason. Tonight’s episode is going to be interesting, as always… and by interesting, I mean highly entertaining on your part, and most likely painful and stressful on my part… You see, I happily and masochistically endure anything culinarily torturous by Gordan Ramsay’s hand– if it means getting to follow my dream… not to mention my spastic moments make for great TV… or so they tell me. On FOX at 8 CT and 9 PT !!!
Which reminds me, while we’re on the subject… YES, I am definitely, 110% , always that energetic. I am always excited, for anything, because the entire Masterchef experience is a phenomenal, surreal, and overall amazing freaking thing! Nothing like I would ever imagine myself doing in a million years. I am from Kansas, not exactly where that stars are born… So when you see my jaw drop, me covering my mouth in surprise, an eye roll, me falling on the floor…whatever– Yes, that is just me. No acting, no overly exaggerated dramatic encore. I’m just… a. big. dork. Plus, if you were there, trust me, you’d do the same thing. Have you SEEN the crap they’ve thrown at us so far??? Plus, its like you’re constantly at the edge of your proverbial boos block… teetering on the edge, waiting anxiously at what they could possibly throw at you next, to be even MORE nuts, MORE difficult, MORE outrageous. So yeah, I was nearing cardiac arrest for at least half my time spent in the Masterchef Kitchen.
Phew, glad I got that of my chest.
And might I add, I am absolutely blown away at the amount of people who are following me on twitter and Facebook, and offering me support, humor, pictures, shout outs, ALL OF IT! I friggin love it!!!!!!! Truly! And I try to respond to everyone I can! I appreciate every one of you– Despite what people may think they see of me on television, I am actually quite a modest person. With numerous, countless insecurities, like anyone else. You think I don’t hear myself on TV, or see my backside and think ‘Oh gaaaaaah, great I’m so glad that’s on national television…[highly sarcastic]….. Eesh, its tough sometimes! I feel as though my self competitiveness, and my desire to be the best I can be, gets confused on TV. Of course I am intense, but like I’ve said before, its only because I am so damn passionate. Seriously. I never wanted to be on TV, to be on TV. I just want to cook or a living. I want people to eat my food. I want to work in a hot ass kitchen. I want to design menus with weird unpronounceable ingredients that I’ve studied and sourced and experimented with for weeks. I just want to be around food, in any capacity… and I want to be damn good at it.
So tonight, you know what you’re going to see??? AGAIN, something crazy, and I didn’t think they could beat offal, or whole rabbits… but they DID! UNI!!!!!
Check out the videos for awesome SNEAK PEEKS!
Y’all are going to enjoy it. Hope you watch, I’ll be live tweeting, WEST COAST as always, so please drop me a line, and I’d love to answer any questions you have, or just say HI! I love jokes and hello’s.
Okay, one last time, TONIGHT, on FOX at 8 PM CT or 9 PM PT!!! See you then!
Follow me on Twitter at @MC3Becky
Some things we have become so accustomed to buying, we never think to make it ourselves. Yogurt, hot sauce, protein bars, wool sweaters… Well, in reality, you can indeed make all these things on your own. With just a little ambition, and perhaps some planning– you would be surprised what all you can make on your own, and much more healthily to boot.
Cheese is a prime example of this idea. Not necessarily all cheeses, as many cheeses vary depending on dozens of factors– everything from type of milk, to whey, to aging, region, temperature, etc etc… Ricotta however is the perfect guinea pig to help you break into cheese-making at home. Its all about using high quality products, and just being patient. You heat some milk and cream, salt–add acid– then it curdles. Like magic! Let it hang out for a few hours– then let it drain. That’s it. Seriously. You could be the most ADD person in the world, and probably still manage to be a successful ricotta maker. I’m the perfect example.
Don’t use low-fat or…shudder…fat-free milk. Not when making ricotta, the lack of flavor is so evident, its just sad.
10 C Pasteurized whole milk
6 C Heavy cream
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1/2 tsp teaspoon salt + more to taste
Rinse the inside of the pot you intend to use with cold water (this helps prevent the milk from scorching). Place cream and milk in large, heavy pot on medium heat. Add salt and stir briefly. Allow to heat up slowly, stirring occasionally. As the milk/cream mixture comes up to temperature tiny bubbles will begin to appear on the surface, around the edges of the pot– that is a good sign that your cream is about up to temperature. You want it to reach 180-185 degrees, near scalding temperature, just before it comes to a boil. Be sure to use a candy thermometer, to keep an eye on the temperature (yes, it really does matter)
When it reaches the correct temperature, take the pot off, add the vinegar and stir gently for one minute. Add salt. Don’t stir too aggressively, because you want the big curds that begin forming, to stay intact– not get all broken up. Cover with a dry clean towel and let the mixture just hang out, un-disturbed for a couple of hours. When the ricotta has rested for a few hours, pour it all into one, (really big) or several (as I did ) cheesecloth lined colanders, set over a deep bowl. Let it drain for +/- two hours, depending on how wet or dry you want the final product to be. Then just toss the drained whey liquid, and lightly wring the ricotta (if needed) then store it in a big container, sealed tightly, in your fridge. OR eat it all asap.
This stuff is so dang delicious, and it can be used in so many ways! I used it in a salad I made for a private dinner I catered. I served it alongside golden tomatoes, with Thai basil oil, thin baguette crisps, rich, aged reduced balsamic, and some smoked sea salt…. It was divine. Or stuff it into some dates, or figs, roast with agave. Eat with a spoon, with balsamic, or use as a spread for sandwiches, pita, pizzas… literally anything. And I must say, the fresh cheese, still slightly warm, is unbelievably flavorful. Be sure to season it. If it’s under-seasoned, its a travesty. Let the flavor really come out. Don’t skimp on salt people!!! If you learn nothing else from this entire post, its to SEASON YOUR FOOD! Every. Single. Time.
Last Friday, I was honored to cook dinner for a special private dinner, organized by the lovely Toni Purry. A wonderful woman, with a huge heart, and [luckily] an adventurous palette. The special dinner was for 18 people, at a beautiful estate up in the Pacific Palisades area, called Tuscali Mountain Inn. Stunning location, beautiful views, and a great kitchen to work in– bonus points for sure!
As my first ever catering/private chef job of this caliber I was a bit anxious–but moreover ridiculously excited. Not to mention I had complete creative control over everything from menu concept and design, to what proteins to use, where to source my ingredients, everything. Which, if you know me at all, you know I love to be in control. Kinda a type-A-OCD-perfectionist type… ahem. Anyway– I did three amuse bouche tray pass bites, then 5 courses, + a take away edible gift. Delightful! It was so fun, and so amazing!! Nearly everything went to plan [nearly]. Aside for my forgetting my ice cream maker base, and having to hand churn my ice cream–yes, you heard that correctly, guerrilla cookery– Everything went swimmingly well. After two solid days of prep–and dozens of farmers market and grocery store runs, I think I had all my bases covered.
I had one sous chef to help me with cooking and plating on location– My dear friend and Masterchef cohort, Felix Fang. She was absolutely essential to the evenings success, and I was so thrilled she was able to help out. We worked like a well oiled machine (again, minus the ice cream debacle, and a couple caramel mishaps…) BUT hakunamatata, it didn’t matter we made it work!
The diners all seemed more than happy with the courses, not to mention my servers reassuring me upon their every return, with clean plates no less, that people were ecstatic about the food. My neurotic overly complicated, self doubting self– was sweating bullets the whole time. What if they don’t like the flavors? What if its not hot enough? What if the garnish falls over, what if the sauce breaks? What if the vegetarian options aren’t unique enough? What if we’re taking too long between courses????
My brain was working on overdrive. Simply, I wanted everything to be perfect. PER-FECT. Period. So I’m sure in the midst of service, around course 3, the servers [and Felix for that matter] probably wanted to punch me in my slightly-dictator-like, bossy, scrambled, controlling, anxious head.
But, they didn’t. Everyone was so amazing, I can’t even put into words. I can probably be a bit of a bear to work with sometimes, only because I’m not always 100% sweet, and thoughtful, and understanding in the kitchen. I just want things to be done the way they’re supposed to be done. Fast, perfect, and my way. So if its not happening, I make sure to correct the situation. This means I am not always the warmest cook in the kitchen. I’m not mean, The food is just my number one priority, that’s all. The diner’s experience, the food–that’s all I care about. I’ll console with you after service. Just don’t expect me to vent with you at that moment, and hug it out, not going to happen, just move.– We’ll hug later. Now that said– I was working with great people, and they put up with all my craziness, and did their job, and we rocked it.
Here was my menu — Best. Feeling. Ever.
Pork saam | miso caramel | chili | kimchi
Duck confit tot | umi | preserved cherry | ginger scallion
Focaccia | spring onion
Did I mention there were 2 vegans and 3 vegetarians? Yeah, true story. So I had some pretty clever substitutes for these fine people. Golden beets, sweet yams, vegan chorizo, and maitake mushrooms all made appearances, in lieu of the meaty alter egos… And no cream was used anywhere in the menu (except for dessert). Ah, the magic of the Vitamix– That thing works wonders in the realm of quickly purring and emulsifying. Plus it makes tami-ing the sauces and purees so much easier and faster. Lifesaver. Just goes to show, you really don’t always need a ton of cream and butter to make food taste delicious. You just have to take the time to develop the flavor.
Toni, she is a gem. Seriously, a great GREAT lady. I mean, c’mon, she hired me, so she knows a thing or two… HA! Just joking, but seriously, the dinner looked absolutely stunning, thanks to her and the amazing Wenda Evans event planner, from Always Perpekto, who is also one of the raddest people I’ve ever met. Hilarious and incredibly sweet.
If you’re interested in chatting about my private chef services, please feel free to email me with any questions, queries, anything! I love to feed people, and I’d be delighted to help you make your next event not just great, but extraordinary.
Well, better late than never, right? I guess I’m a bit of a late bloomer, as far as getting this recipe and pictures up online– #fail me. I could rail off a zillion [in my mind] viable excuses, but that’s quite boring and no one cares anyway. So, inso-facto–here it is. My Masterchef audition dish…
If you’ve been out of the loop, or otherwise somehow cutoff from all things entertainment, or reality… reality TV that is, then you may have missed it…shame on you… I am competing on season three of the celebrated amateur cooking competition TV show... MASTERCHEF, on FOX. I totally just sounded like a broadcaster saying that…ew. But yeah, Cool, right??!! I am still, every single day I think about it, in complete awe of what an experience this has been. Having the opportunity to show the world something that is so deeply ingrained in my soul, is a true gift and blessing. Food and cooking is something that (as many of you have already heard be yammer on about…) a passion of mine. PASSION. Seriously, life changingly-flip-my-world-upside-down-passionate about cooking. I can easily spend hours thinking about menus, flavor pairings, new equipment to checkout, what produce will be at the the perfect peak of its season. I will spend more money on food and groceries in one month, than you probably do in half a year. I will easily drop hundreds of dollars at a restaurant, just to experience ta dish that I have heard about online, or in the paper–or just because its created my a chef I admire. Eating for me is not only enjoyment, but research, and, love, and, education, and exploration. Every time I eat something new, or create something I think that is innovative–I get a major high. Cooking is absolutely my mania and my path in life. I love to cook so vehemently, its probably borderline obsession… I know I was created to feed people. Its fun, and new,and probably a little weird but amazing every single time I do it. I will never tire of the excited, surprised, and even sometimes ecstatic look on people face when I am lucky enough to feed someone something that they find truuuuuly delicious. That is the best. The absolute BEST! And that one split second is what makes it ALL worth while for me. All the money, all the effort, all the hours (even days) that are labored, to create one dish. That one moment of enjoyment and true gastronomic bliss for my diner– That’s was I thrive on. I frigging love it.
SO, after that extremely long-winded synopsis… Now you know. This is it. This is me, and how I’m living my life right now–chasing my dream, one delicious puree´at a time…
This dish, I’m sharing with you today, is the dish I created and cooked for the MASTERCHEF judges, during our first week. All 100 of us had to create one ‘signature’ dish in one hour– then present it to the judges to try, and they would vote yes of no for us. Three judges–you need two yes’s to get the dream–the coveted APRON! Well, this was it– my one moment to prove myself. Am I proud of myself? Yes. Did I get all three yes’s? NO. Where there tears? Hell yes. It was intense to say the least. The LEAST. The judges: Gordon Ramsay, a legend in the food world and notorious hot head, but extremely passionate chef, probably more so than any person I’ve ever met in my entire life. Joe Bastianich, son of the legendary Italian cuisine queen, Lidia Bastianish, he’s perhaps one of the most celebrated winemakers in all the world, with more restaurants and vineyards than I have hairs on my head– The ‘death starer’ as I like to call him, yet incredibly direct and ultimately fair– albeit dramatic and intimidating. And finally, Graham Elliot, owner of 3 amazing Chicago restaurants, youngest chef EVER to be named best new chef in America, and personally, my mentor and biggest inspiration. The guy is a beast and a genius. Period. I admire him so much and his style of cooking is remarkable– someone I aspire to be like.
After making a lovely hot mess of flying garlic, and spattering chopped mustard greens all over the place–I present my dish. Did it look exactly like the picture? Sort of…pretty close. But I’d be delusional if I were to say it looked exactly the same–however, this was the intention… Remember, I was stressed out of my gourd, and sweating like a whore in church. Its hard to plate something perfectly and beautifully, when your hands are shaking so hard, M J Fox would have to help you. All in all, the review wasn’t bad. I think they all liked it, they were just giving me a really hard time, thinking I wasn’t as passionate about cooking as I am. Well guys, I AM. This is me for real, and I was born to be a cook. Period. Joe was the first to give me the yes. THANKS! Then Gordon said he thought I needed another year…(I disagree, obviously) so it was down to Graham. With tears streaming down my red, puffy face, I confided to them, that this is truly my dream, and that there is so much love in my heart for food, I know there’s no way I could fail, if he’d just gibe me the opportunity… Removing his glasses, he looks down and grabs the apron. Without a word, I look at him, not breathing, and praying so loudly in my head, I couldn’t hear anything else in the room. He motions me to come up to the stage… At this point, I’m full on weeping. Such a spaz. He tells me that giving me the apron, I have to prove Gordon wrong… I say something to the effect of “Hell yes I will!!!” And from there, I screamed thank you one last time, as I full on sprinted all the way back through the double doors, and into my friends outstretched arms. Greatest moment of my life. I was so happy, I couldn’t even speak. Just smiles, tears, and bouncy jumping. I’ve never ran so fast in 5 inch heels in all my life.
And so it began. My journey toward the ultimate prize. The title of MASTERCHEF.
Damn, that was long–okay peeps, now you’re caught up on my Masterchef Audition–since none of it was on TV… ha.
Enjoy the recipe below.
Pan fried Loup de Mer | caramelized onion | roasted sweet potato puree´| mustard greens
1 whole Loup de mer(wolf of the sea, in Italian its otherwise known as Branzino
gutted, cleaned, scaled and filets removed from either side (you’ll only be using one, obviously, for one portion)
Approx 1 T of each, whole coriander, white peppercorns, fennel seeds, dehydrated orange peel, red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp each of cardamom, brown mustard seeds, black sesame seeds
1 tsp flake sea salt
olive oil, butter
1 sweet potato (med-large)
½ c cream
1-2 T butter
1 ½ – 2 c veal demi glace / or just a good quality (if not homemade) stock, if you con’t find the demi
½ c sherry
1 large brown or yellow onion
1 T honey
1 cup fresh mustard greens
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
Toast all spices in dry pan 5 minutes, stirring. Remove, cool, and grind in mortar pestle. Slice onion into rings, or half moons, and add to hot skillet with olive oil. Sauté and cook for 20 minutes, stirring often near the end, to slowly caramelize. After 10 minutes, season with salt and cover, or partially cover, to continue cooking and help prevent excessive browning, or burning. Add honey with two minutes left to cook. Stir often, then reduce heat to very low, cover at set aside. Heat skillet with pancetta, render, then add shallots, and saute´a few minutes. De-glaze with sherry–Reduce slightly, and add veal demi– cook 20-30 minutes simmering, to reduce by 1/2. Strain and keep warm. Do not salt until the end, if necessary, but taste first. Mine was seasoned enough–it can become too salty quickly, so be careful. Dice potato, and add to med-high saucepan, with a little oil, and butter, let caramelize and color for 8-10 minutes, shaking the pan to make sure no one side gets too dark. Then add some liquid (water) and quickly re-cover with the lid, so it steams, to finish cooking. Remove, strain and return to warm pan. Add 1-2 T butter and cream. Season with salt. Puree with immersion blender–until very veeeeeeery smooth. If there are still chunks, pass through a tami, or chinois. Set aside. Season fish filet with the spice mixture. Season with additional salt on skin side. Score fish skin with 5-6 knife strokes, through skin only. In medium hot pan, add olive oil. Add fish, skin side down. If it starts to curl, just have patience, it will relax down, once the temperature of the pan goes down a bit. Allow to cook 4 minutes, then turn the heat up to just a hair under full-on high… Cook about another minute on skin side, until you can see the side of the flesh turn to white from opaque, and just a touch of opaque flesh remains on the top side. Flip over (skin should be crispy, but not blackened–yuck). Immediately, squeeze a bit of lemon in the side of the pan, and spoon baste for about 15 seconds, to get that wonderful rich cooked lemon essence over the fish. Immediately removed from pan, to a paper towel to cool lightly.
Toss washed and dried mustard greens in a hot skillet with a 1 T of olive oil, sauteed with a clove of garlic, thinly sliced, and a big pinch of red pepper flakes, season with salt. Toss for one minute, add a couple good gratings of fresh lemon zest. When nearly wilted, remove.
On a long-ish rectangular plate–make long spoon drizzle of the demi glace sauce. Not too much, its powerful–and it should be somewhat thin–not heavy and thick. Place a quenelle of the puree´ in center, caramelized onions beside that, in a thin but neat manner. Mound the mustard greens beside/kinda on top of onions. Place the fish, skin side up, at an angle on top. Garnish with a few more lemon zest strands.
Dunzo. Hope you like it. Pretty tasty, and very me. Its a combo of soulful, but modern, with flavors I love, and ingredients that were fresh, and beautiful and in season at the time.
Please be sure to watch and cheer me on, on FOX MASTERCHEF, it airs at 8 CT or 9PM PT, MONDAY AND TUESDAY night– Yes, that’s correct twice a week–because its twice as nice. !! jokes… I need to stop…anyway, its on TONIGHT friends!!!! Please please pleeeeeeease watch, this episode is going to be absolutely insane. We’re cooking for America’s US Marines… WOW!! And I’m always live tweeting too… Follow me at @MC3Becky and on Facebook at facebook.com/MC3becky !!!! Thank you ALLLLL so much for reading and your amazing support and listening to my bizarre ramblings and terrible jokes.
The story goes something like this: I eat real-life ramen, I am in love with rich, delicious real-life ramen– I want to eat real-life ramen at home, all the time– I buy a book to learn all about it. Enter David Chang and Momofuku. I read. I cook for two days. I feast. Mission accomplished.
This is not a 30 minute meal. This is an undertaking for the serious ramen-loving perhaps slightly OCD, exploratory, fearless individual. I.e.: Me. Also worth noting, since it does take some time, it doesn’t hurt to be unemployed, or otherwise have plenty of time to sit at home, smelling the amazing, intoxicating, porky aromas, drooling, tapping ones foot, etc. Again: Me. The concepts of traditional Ramen are absolutely nothing resembling the plastic wrapped, eerily artificial, dormitory prerequisite fuel, for which most people ignorantly associate with the term ‘ramen.’ Real ramen is a beautiful and complex composition of broth, noodles, meat (one or more varieties) picked something, nori, and usually an egg and perhaps some other vegetable, like braised greens, or whatever fresh vegetable is in season. Now, having never made real Ramen at home before, I knew I had some serious studying to do. The variations on Ramen are much like the secretive variations that Italian grammas have for their pomodoro. OR the differences in subtle seasonings that differentiate winning and losing pit BBQ sauces in the south. Its all about technique, quality of product, slight differences in quantity of ingredients, cook time, heat temperature, the timing and order of ingredients…and the list goes oooooooooooon……See what I’m getting at? There are endless permutations for the ‘right’ recipe for making ramen. Ab-solute-ly endless. Not to mention the importance of not just one component, but all components. The noodles, the broth, the broth seasoning, tare´, the garnishes, the pickled element, the egg… The pork belly. Wow. Then, rubbed with salt and sugar, and let sit to cure for 24 hours in the fridge Its all about the meat. And bones… After the bones roasted in the oven. The malliard effect is crucial. Caramelization = Flavor The shitakes, after they flavored the broth, they’re nice and plump and succulent– perfect for going into the light soy and vinegar pickling liquid. Shitake pickles are deeeee-licious The tare´ is absolutely essential. Its the seasoning for your broth. That’s where all your salt is. And delicious chicken fat. Look at all the gelatin that develops, naturally!! Amazing!
I turned to what I considered the authority. David Chang. His noodle making empire started with the one and only Momofuku, which is synonymous with hip new york food-coolness. Not only that, but the dude is kind of a gangster, and a helluva nice guy. So I dove, head first, into the Momofuku Cookbook. Yep, start to finish– I made his Ramen (or my rendition of it anyway). Broth, pork belly, tare´, pickles… all except the noodles [wince] I bought the noodles from a fairly reliable, if not delightfully shady Asian market, in downtown LA. 3 days later, I had done it. Quite delicious I must say. And how intoxicating the smell. Let me tell you, as those pork and chicken bones are roasting along in the oven… or simmering in a pot of shitake and kombu infused stock. Pork goodness absolutely permeates every facet of my home, filling the air with rich, homemade, aromatic heaven. That doesn’t really even make sense.. I don’t care, you get the point.
So, in retrospect, I’m happy that I made it. I’m happy I leaned the process, and can now work off that, making changes here and there as my own palette dictates. I’m happy I now have backup stores of delicious ramen broth in my freezer for another day. I’m happy to be discovering and learning new techniques and flavor profiles all the time. Life is good
And do yourself a favor– go out to a real ramen shop. Have yourself a big ass bowl of their tonkotsu ramen, or if you’re a true lover, their shinsen gumi tonkotsu ramen. It will change your life. You’ll instantly understand my love affair. If you’re in LA, these places are pretty legit. Tsujita, yamadaya, or the raved and written about Daikokuya The broth from start to finish. The color and textural change is amazing. Not to mention the flavor! That’s what happens with you cook liquid with bones, and delicious meats for nearly 2 days! And look at that filmy, murky-ness. Now that’s when you know its good.
And of course one last massive thanks to David Chang. There’s no recipe today peeps. Buy Momofuku, its a pretty bardass read. If nothing else, its rather hilarious, and an honest look into what its really like to follow your food dream, open some restaurant[s] and deal with all the ups, downs, and bullshit that’s associated with committing your life to cooking.
Live on, eat on my friends. CLICK on any picture to see it larger, for all you food porn fanatics out there…
I don’t know if its the onset of summer [finally] or my recent sugar cravings, but I have been obsessed with ice cream lately. Not that I’m not always up for a great scoop, but lately, I’ve been making more ice cream at home. Ice cream is by far one of my faaaaaavorite things. Definitely in the top three for my favorite desserts. Ice cream is also infinitely customizable, which only adds to its allure. You basically have a base, then to that, you can adjust sweetness, and play with zillions of different flavors, or flavor combinations. Not to mention, you can then add other stuff to it– Be that caramel (as I’ve done here) or top it with brittle, or toffee, or mix in cookie pieces, fudge, ricotta, herbs, just about anything. Anything. You see why I love it so much? And, once you perfect your creme anglaise (base) its super easy to make at home. I use this Cuisinart ice cream maker, with the removable freezer bowl. Its works great for me, and it’s very affordable. There are lots of other options out there, and someday I’ll upgrade to one of these fancy schmancy more commercial models… but for now mine works quite well. I highly recommend getting one, its a fairly small investment, for a fairly big payoff. I had both cardamom and ginger in my kitchen already, so that’s what I did this time. I also served it with some bay salted caramel, that I had leftover from these sweet lovelies.
Ginger Cardamom Ice Cream Inspired by one of the many amazing ice cream recipes from The Sweet Life, by Kate Zuckerman
2 C milk
2 C cream
1 C sugar
approx 2 T grated fresh ginger
6 cardamom pods, toasted, then coarsely ground
8 egg yolks
1 whole egg
approx 1/2 tsp flake kosher salt
Heat milk, cream, ginger, cardamom, and half the sugar, over medium heat on the stove. Once the sugar is dissolved, and the milk/cream is scalded, turn off the heat, and cover to steep with the flavorings for 20-30 minutes (or as long as you have time, up to an hour would produce a more intensely flavored finished product). Meanwhile, whisk eggs together with the rest of the sugar. Slowly stream the beaten egg mixture back into the warm cream, stirring constantly. Return to medium heat adn stir until thick, and the custard coats the back of a spoon. Pass the custard through a chinois, or mesh sieve, into a glass bowl, sitting in an ice bath. Discard the solids left in the sieve. Stir the mixture, over the ice bath, until very well chilled. Alternatively, if you have time, simply put the custard in the fridge, a couple hours or over night, until its well chilled. I simply don’t have the patience for that; therefore, I do the ice bath method. Patience is a virtue… whatever, I want my ice cream nooooooow… Once its chilled, churn it in your ice cream maker 30ish minutes, or until thick and creamy, then scoop it out into a plastic releasable container, and pop it in the freezer to firm up. About 45 minutes to an hour should suffice, for a soft set, amazingly delicious, complex and creeeeeamy dessert.
I scream, you scream…blah blah blah enjoy
People hear the word liver, or pate´, or offal– And one of two things happen. #1 : they grimace, shun in fear, as if liver were a deathly plague that could quickly infect their respiratory system, rendering them defenseless… or #2 : their eyes roll back slightly, their head drops to the side, they grin and exude any variety of ooooooo yummmmmmy noises, obviously understanding the many sexy, and luxurious qualities of the product. I, obviously, belong in the latter group. Liver is something that I had little interaction with as a child. My mom, apparently not much of a fan, except on the rare occasion my dad would coax her into frying him up some liver and onions, undeniably against her will. Now, in my adult life, where I luckily get to choose my own fate for my diet, I am looooooving any variety of livers– It was actually (And I’m so ashamed to admit this [gulp]…but… I just had foie gras for the first time within the last year. I know!!! I can’t believe I’d been missing out all this time! What an idiot! I thought it was too expensive, or too fatty, or blah blah blah… Lame ass excuses. Its chef gold, and frankly delicious in the most gluttonous way. Its depressing that in such a short time, it will be BANNED in California. Thanks Arnold. What a crock. People have no idea, that most (if not ALL of the foie prepared in restaurants comes from sustainable, and duck/goose-friendly farms. People just loooove to throw their hands up in the air about anything that will get them noticed. Who cares if they know what the hell they’re talking about, right?! I mean, we’re in LA, no one reeeeaaally listens to anyone anyway, So eff it. Sheesh!!! Okay, rant over, sorry folks. If you want more info on all this, I suggest you check out artisan farmers or read this article from EaterLA. Judge for yourself…
Okay, so back to my lovely chicken liver recipes we’re discussing today– I have somewhat recently become infatuated with pate´, and as such have begun playing with different recipes and techniques for preparing it. Now, as a non-classically french trained person (which..ahem…isn’t such a bad thing), I only have knowledge based on my readings and trial and error. I wanted to try and create a single chicken liver mousse, and use in in several applications, to play around with how it pairs with various other, perhaps unorthodox (again, according to pierre frenchy frencherson) ingredients. The pate´ itself I prepared with organic chicken livers, shallot, a bit of garlic, thyme, Madeira, white wine, kosher salt, olive oil, butter– Once finished, I pureed it, and passed it through a chinois to get a smoother texture. Chicken liver pate´ is, undeniably on the rich side, luxurious, unctuous, and alluring. As such, it benefits greatly (in fact begs for) crunch, and a tangy or sour element. I love it simply on toasted buttered bread with pickled anything. Today I also wanted to try it in other applications.
My finished products were: In a salad– Shaved celery | avocado | chives | olive oil | fried baguette | A reinterpretation of my favorite– Butter basted bread crouton | apple & berry mostarda | lemongrass and peppercorn pickled shallots | tendrils A new kind of stuffed pepper– Piquillo peppers | pistachio & lemon | mint | jalapeno
Overall, they were all delicious. Very different. The jalapeno and mint with pistachio may have been the biggest surprise, in a great way. I intend on following up with this flavor pairing, more testing to refine the presentation I think. Don’t be scared of liver. And don’t be scared to make pate´ at home. Truly, its not a difficult procedure– not to mention its outrageously cheaper than buying questionable prepackaged canned or jarred pate´ for your next party… Make it yourself, you won’t be sorry. If you have a skillet, a food pro and a knife, you’re good to go. Seriously.
Bittersweet Chocolate Souffles | Bay leaf rye whiskey caramel
Sometimes you just need dessert for dinner.
This was my best effort at breaking in my spanking new KitchenAid Stand Mixer. I can see this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
What is LUNCH ? Well, quite frankly, it’s a visual exploration of tasty, simple, pure food. That’s it. Nothing crazy. Nothing complicated. Nothing lengthy and drawn out. Just a video. Something relaxing, pretty and hopefully inspiring for you to cook for yourself at home. Not to get too hung up on complicated, ‘fast’ or ‘easy’ recipes. You know what is easiest, and fastest? No, not a 30-minute-meals cookbook. Not a drive-through. And no, nothing that comes from a deep freeze… Its a few unadulterated ingredients, some fresh produce, perhaps a little cheese, or a simple piece of chicken, or fish. When all else fails, K.I.S.S. [that's right, keep it simple stupid] and you can’t fail, I promise.
So today is the introduction. The premiere. The first of what will be a a series of videos. The series is called LUNCH. All about 2 minutes in length. No directions. No instructions. No difficult procedures, or bizarre ingredients. Just watch, and enjoy.
Today’s LUNCH | Spinach salad, with scallion vinaigrette and piave vecchio Enjoy
It’s no mystery that many a seasoned chefs and food know-it-all’s may turn their respectively well seasoned noses up at such a device as the humble slow cooker. Ah yes, the counter-space hogging contraction screams housewife, lame, technique lacking, amateur…Well I say unto them, hogwash!! These little bad-boys give you a serious edge int he cooking department. Its like your ringer in the game, your invisible sous chef, your secret weapon! Yes, its true, I perhaps seem a bit overenthusiastic in my praise for such a simple (and by no means new) kitchen appliance- But dang it, its crazy not to have one. Ashamed as I am, I only within the last year finally purchased one and cannot get over how easy and fun they are. Yes its horrifying, I have been cooking all these years without such a clutch appliance. The horror… the HORROR…!!! (literary reference probably unneeded, but how could I resist..??) Okay, back on topic. There are 4 main reason so bu a slow cooker. Really only 2, but I’ll elaborate just for you. .1. They are surprisingly inexpensive. Sure, you can get one that will put you back several hundred dollars, and look like a Russian space station sitting next to your toaster– but who needs their slow cooker to detonate a nuclear missile into space anyway? I mean, mine has like two buttons, and it works just fine.
.2. Its essentially the slowest most perfect braising machine, which requires ZERO action on your part after loading it up, and hitting start.
.3. Its creates the beautiful depth of flavor that you only get from long oven braises, or stove-top braises, or simmers, or roasts… And you can do it while you sleep, with no electric sucking oven!
.4. They. ARE. EASY. Like, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, easy. And you can make huge meals on the cheap (again, Housewives cheap) because inexpensive tough cuts of meat are no match to the 4-8 hour cook time you’re about to put them through.
You put some stuff in, add some liquid, start it. Go. Come back, add some fresh herbs and citrus perhaps, of jalapenos, or whatever, and dinner is served. Or breakfast in my case. Because I do it over night, and when I wake up, its all I can do to haul my sleepy butt into the kitchen, and start eating straight from the cooking pot. Yeah, that’s how much willpower I have, its just too much of an inconvenience to get a plate. Plates are for suckers. Or people with kids, spouses, relatives…boyfriends… Um, okay moving on.
My latest creation was BBQ pork. Now, I’ve made BBQ pork before, the real way. And I gotta say, yeah, it was batter. BUT–that also required an 8 hour jaunt in my smoker, a fair amount of mesquite wood, very little sleep, and a lovely hate letter from my upstairs neighbor, declaring her fear for her life due to the ‘billowing black smoke.’ Excuse me madam, if that was ‘billowing’ then those cigarette-smoking kids in alley must be slowing putting you in your deathbed… Ahem. Grouch- SO, in conclusion, the slow cooker is a nifty alternative that will satiate your hankering form some soulful ‘que, AND keep your neighbors happily ignorant to your cunning cookery. Like magic. For this braised pork loin recipe– I will say, it is important to sear your meat in a big skillet first, and saute the aromatics in the rendered droppings, all before adding to the pot. Doing some initial cooking this way, ahead of time, gives you the caramelization that the slow cooker can’t really,. Plus it provides textural contrast. A little stove-top cooking first, then you’re home free. Doing the onions So tender and unctuous. Plus after you skim off any excess fat (or not, your gluttonous choice) The pork is quite lean.
Kansas City Style (of course!) BBQ Pork Loin (typically butt is better, but the loin was cheap, so I just ran with it. I’m a rebel that way. Use whatever cut you want)
3-4 lb pork cut- no bone, with a large fat side. Don’t remove all of it, just trimmed of sinew and little membranes red pepper flakes – 1 T or to taste beef stock – 2-3 cups several dashes Worcestershire several dashes liquid smoke 1/2 cup-ish apple cider vinegar 1/2-1 cup your favorite BBQ sauce. Please lord, actually seek out a good product. This is not the place to cut corners and buy generic. Or if you do, don’t tell me. Seriously. 1 jalapeno sliced 1 large, or 2 medium onions, sliced BBQ seasoning premixed rub, or a combo of cumin, cayenne, black pepper, ground coriander, oregano, smoked paprika, salt & pepper. (I used a blend I love, from back home…)
Rub meat liberally with seasoning. Get aggressive, massage that baby goooood. In a hot pan, add olive oil, and sear meat really well, all around. Remove and set aside. Add more oil to the pan if necessary and add onion. Brown and caramelize, coking for about 5-10 minutes. Add a bit of salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes. Once they are caramelized, slightly, and getting soft, remove from heat. Put half the onions in the bottom of the slow cooker. Place the meat on top of that. Add the rest of the onions and the jalapenos. Mix all the remaining ingredients together (the BBQ sauce, the cider vinegar, the Worcestershire, the liquid smoke– and pour into the slow cooker. Add a cup or two more chicken stock, if the liquid level is below half full. You want the liquids to come at least half way up the side of the cooking bowl– to prevent burning. Put on the lid, and set it to low for 6-8 hours, or high for 3-5 hours. Voila!!!!!! Go party, sleep, shop, whatever you want. Come back, and dish up. I think I ate mine with fork, in a huge bowl and that is all… Actually, probably with some brioche, or any other soft soak-up-all-the-juices bread… But you can get fancy ad serve it with some lovely garlic mashed potatoes, parsnip puree, grilled asparagus (which is just coming into season here in CA)…whatever you want. Also, any leftovers are to DIE for in a spicy pork chili.. as per the way my mom always uses it. Mmmmmm Enjoy y’all! And long live the ‘Que