Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Jellyfish are my Favorite
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Can't Go Wrong with Basil, Tomatoes, and Cheese
This pizza begs for the grill, to be eaten al fresco and paired with one of my top 3 favorite wines of all time: 2006 Rombauer Zinfandel.
Fresh Basil Tomato & Mozzarella Pizza
makes 2 small rectangular pizzas
semolina pizza dough (1/2 recipe), divided into two portions
1/4 cup basil pesto, recipe follows
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped into small dice
1 ball fresh mozzarella, chopped as thinly as possible
olive oil spray and cornmeal for dusting the pizza peel
Basil Pesto (nut-less)
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbs parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
Place the basil, garlic, and parmesan cheese in a blender. Pulse a few times until starting to combine. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream until a paste has formed.
Place a pizza stone on your grill and heat to 475-500 degrees.
Meanwhile, spray a pizza peel with olive oil spray and dust liberally with cornmeal. Flour a clean dry work surface and knead, stretch, and roll the first piece of dough to desired thickness and size. Place on the pizza peel, then repeat with the second ball of dough. Spoon pesto onto each piece of dough and spread thinly with a spoon. Sprinkle with chopped tomatoes, and scatter the rounds of mozzarella on top.
Transfer from the pizza peel to the grill and close the lid. Turn off the direct heat beneath and grill for about 10 minutes. If you need to turn the heat back on to maintain the temperature, do so on low so as not to burn the bottom of the pizza. You want it brown, not black.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Another Evening with Joel Robuchon
The chef de cuisine had the night off, so we got to see the chef de partie in charge. The intricate dance between him, the three cooks (including two women!) on the line, and three servers/runners, was seamless and fascinating to watch. Everything was calm and organized. The chef de partie had the enchanting heavy accent and slight bark of a Frenchman, but his care and friendliness came across when he personally came over to ask how things were.
Presented on a porous stone (pumice? volcanic?) in a tiny egg cup, the two bites brought groans of delight from both of us.
Les Legumes Mediterranean vegetables with layered with buffalo mozzarella
This pretty tower of zucchini, tomato, and eggplant was fresh and liberally seasoned with salt and pepper to bring out the flavors. The dabs of pesto in the corners were brilliant with the vegetables. Despite the special buffalo mozzarella- don't get me wrong, the cheese was phenomenal- it was overshadowed by the flavor of the tomato and eggplant.
The only langoustines I'd had previously were frozen tails from Trader Joe's. They were good, but uncomparable to this whole, tender langoustine lightly fried in a bit of dough.
Next, we shared an additional course to our dinner, chosen from the small plates menu: a poached egg over buttered brioche with asparagus, mushrooms, and a bit of prosciutto. The foam on top of the egg was milky and salty-sweet. I really liked the egg, but the spring asparagus was so fresh. I always forget how much I love it, so seldom is it available.
We had two options for our third and main course, and per usual we picked opposites. We watched the chefs with anticipation as we saw both dishes being prepared and plated for us. Ray had the filet de boef, cooked perfectly medium rare with a light glaze and served with a tiny pot of mashed potatoes.
For me, Scottish salmon with lemon, capers, tomato jam, and crispy won tons. The fish was moist and tender with a crispy flavorful skin and just the right amount of capers and concentrated tomato.
I also received a little pot of mashed potatoes. A liberal amount of butter and cream in here, so really, really good.
After this, a well-timed pause allowed us to enjoy some of our wine and digest a little before our last courses. I forgot the noisy casino was right behind us- sitting in one of Joel Robuchon's restaurants feels like another world.
I love cheese, but I'm not a huge fan of the course; any room in my tummy should be saved for dessert. I did taste each of them, and unfortunately I don't remember the names. The far left cheese is a Brillat Savarin and the far right is a soft mild goat's milk. The middle cheese was my favorite and I cannot remember what it was at all!
Each was nice, but Ray the cheese connoisseur made a good point: they were too similar- the course should have had some variation with a hard cheese and even a blue.
With the cheese came a plate of breads: a plain sweet batard, a walnut raisin, and a hazelnut bread. My favorite was the hazelnut on top, it was positively studded with toasted nuts.
For the final dessert course, we had two choices.
For Ray~ Glaces et Sorbet
l to r: vanilla bean ice cream, strawberry sorbet, pistachio and creme fraiche ice cream, raspberry sorbet
For me~ Les Tartes! The pastry chef's choice of traditional tarts.
l to r: chocolate ganache, meyer lemon, strawberry, chocolate caramel, sweet cheese, burnt cinnamon-sugar
We tasted each other's, but happily preferred our own so we didn't have to share too much :-)
With dinner, we had a half-bottle of Rex Hill Pinot Noir, a familiar wine from Oregon that paired well with everything we ate (especially the cheese course). An unexpected gift on the house, we were presented with this chilled dessert wine from Australia to toast our anniversary.
The one good food shot that night was of my selections from the famous candy cart (after the 16 courses!)
Monday, July 13, 2009
At Mandalay Bay
This trip isn't the Las Vegas stereotype you know and love (or hate). Our agenda:
1. Swimming and lazing by the pool (I'm told it's the best in the city)
2. Reading and finishing The Help by Kathryn Stockett
3. At least one Miami Vice for me :-)
4. the Shark Reef Aquarium
5. anniversary dinner at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Heirloom Bean Salad
1 cup scarlet runner beans or other large heirloom variety
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup broccoli-carrot slaw, steamed and chopped coarsely
drizzle basil oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt to taste
Put the beans in a small pot, cover with water and allow to soak overnight. In the morning, pour out and recover the beans with fresh water. Sprinkle some salt in the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and summer for about 45 minutes, stirring and checking occasionally to see how they are doing. The cooking time will vary by the type of bean you use. Mine took about 45 minutes. Drain the beans and place in a bowl. Add the cherry tomatoes, steamed slaw, drizzle basil oil, and dijon mustard. Add the carmelized onion (or chopped scallions if you want to substitute the original for the substitute :-) and toss together. Add salt to taste if it's needed. Serve the bean salad on its own or as a component in a larger leafy salad.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Banana Soft Serve
Food chemistry. Awesome. I still can't believe this was a bunch of frozen bananas.
Light and fluffy, this recipe is definitely educational and will make you do a double-take.
Reading food blogs is useful, let me tell you!
A bunch of frozen bananas dumped into a food processor and blended for five minutes.
Presto chango, you'll never guess that's all you're eating. We had small bowls with some strawberry freezer jam and some nuked chocolate chips.
The question I'm left with this evening? Will it work for other frozen fruits? . . . . :-)
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Everyone Loves a Good Crumble
4th of July Strawberry Crumble
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
3 Tbs light brown sugar
3 Tbs regular sugar
zest from a lemon
6 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
about 6 cups strawberries (fresh or frozen and slightly thawed), hulled and quartered
juice from a lemon
2-3 Tbs sugar
3 Tbs cornstarch
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, toss the strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Scrape into an 8x8 baking dish (I used an oval baking dish because I'm traveling with it and it will fit better in a paper bag) and smooth the top.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugars, and lemon zest. Add 1/3 of the melted butter and mix into the dry ingredients. Add another 1/3 of the butter and stir again, and finally the last 1/3. There should be large and small clumps.
Cover the fruit evenly with the topping. Place the dish on a baking sheet (optional, but a good idea in case of any leakage) and bake for about 50 minutes, until the topping is folden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Cool on a rack.
As you can see, my filling bubbled up quite a bunch. I'm hoping the crumble top survived and it still tastes good. Just looking at it, the topping method for the peach crumble seems superior, with more crunch and body after baking. I'll be back with that update!
Delicious! The amount of lemon juice/sugar was spot on, and the crumble topping was nice (still think the version for the peaches is better, will make that next time). A scoop of vanilla ice cream is mandatory.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Hamburger or Hot Dog Buns
8 large or 12 regular sized
1 cup lukewarm water
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs yeast
Put all ingredients in a bread machine and set for the dough cycle. When the cycle ends, turn out on a floured work surface. Knead and separate into 8-12 even pieces of dough. Shape into logs for hot dog buns or flat rounds for hamburger buns. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rise for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degree Fahrenheit. Whisk one egg and a splash of water in a small bowl. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on a rack before slicing and serving.