Monday, November 30, 2009

Top Chef Tattoo Tuesday

Finally the waitresses get some chef love...

DSS - Thanksgiving - Day 6

Still have some of that wonderful turkey left so I decided to whip up some enchiladas. After some consultation with my culinary godmother, I went with Diana Kennedy's Enchiladas Sencillas recipe and just added my leftover turkey to the filling of onions and cheese.
Enchiladas Sencillas

Serves 6.

Sour Cream:
1/2 pint heavy cream
2 tablespoons buttermilk

1/2 cup peanut oil
12 freshly made corn tortillas
2 onions, finely chopped
1 cup grated Chihuahua cheese

Tomato Sauce:
1 pound tomatoes (broiled until blackened on the outside)
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 fresh serrano chiles
2 tablespoons peanut or safflower oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Sour Cream: Mix together heavy cream and buttermilk to make sour cream; set mixture in warm place until it is set, (about 6 hours).

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Blend tomatoes, blackened skin, core, and all, garlic and peppers. Heat the oil and fry the sauce for about 5 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened. Add the salt; set aside to cool a little. Stir in sour cream and heat through gently. Don't let it boil or it will curdle!

Enchiladas: Heat the oil and fry the tortillas one by one, without letting them become crisp. Dip the tortillas into the warm tomato sauce to lightly cover them. Fill with the onions and cheese. Roll the filled tortillas up loosely and set them side by side in an ovenproof dish. Cover the enchiladas with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with cheese and onion. Heat in the oven for no more than 10 minutes.
Serve immediately.

I like this recipe a lot because you're making a very rustic and smoky tomato sauce. It packs a lot of flavor for such a simple preparation. However next time, I will go with store bought sour cream. 6 hours is a long time to wait for sour cream. One last addition is the addition of a little cilantro to the filling. It tastes wonderful. The turkey soaks up that spicy, smoky tomato sauce and the cheese takes just a bit of the heat off the peppers to give you a nicely balanced, simple dish.
Heritage Turkey, the bird that just keeps on giving.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

DSS - Thanksgiving - Day 5

Leftovers. No Thanksgiving holiday is complete until you start trying to figure out what to do with all that turkey you roasted. The choices of leftover turkey dishes are endless. Turkey tetrazzini, turkey pot pie, hot turkey sandwiches, turkey a la king and turkey with rice. For my first leftover dish I decided to try making a Hot Brown.
The history of the Hot Brown is found in the past of the Brown Hotel in Louisville Kentucky. Like all great food legends, this one was born from an effort to please the desires of it's customers. Back in the '20's the Brown would sponsor a dinner dance. Those of you well versed in night life activities know that after a hard night of dancing and imbibing, sustenance is needed to recharge or recover from said activities. Apparently the Brown's patrons grew tired of the ham and eggs the kitchen offered up so Chef Fred Schmidt came up with a hot open faced turkey sandwich they called the Hot Brown. (You can find the history and recipe here) It was a huge hit and another legendary American food dish was born. To build your own Hot Brown you start with a couple of slices of Texas Toast with the crusts cut off. You're going to need that thickness from Texas Toast because it's got to hold up to your sauce. Add a layer of turkey on top of your toast, slice a couple of tomatoes and set them off to the side of your bread. Next you need to make your Mornay sauce. A Mornay is simply a Béchamel sauce to which you add grated cheese. When I went to check out the Google Images for a Hot Brown, it looks like more often than not, cheddar or American cheese is used but I'm following the hotel's recipe which calls for Pecorino Romano cheese. I did deviate from the recipe by using half heavy cream and half whole milk for the sauce. One quart of heavy cream is a whole lot of fat for one serving of sandwich. Once your sauce is bubbly and hot and all your cheese has melted into the sauce, you liberally smother your toast and turkey. Add one last sprinkling of cheese on top of your sandwich and pop it under the broiler. Once it's warm and your cheese has melted, take it out, sprinkle the top with paprika and parsley and add your crossed slices of bacon and serve while still bubbling.

I won't kid you, this is a heart attack on a plate. I only used half the amount of sauce and that was still plenty. Still it tastes fantastic and the flavors are so divergent from your just finished Thanksgiving Day meals that you won't feel like you're eating leftover turkey yet again. However those of you on Lipitor or Crestor, perhaps you should give this sandwich a pass. It's that decadent.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

DSS - Thanksgiving - Day 4

When it comes to Thanksgiving Turkey do you like your breading in or out of the Bird?
I'm totally into stuffing my bird full of goodness, no bacteria scares me.
Are you crazy, I'd rather be safe than sorry and give my family stovetop stuffing.
I just order a double meat pizza and call it good. free polls

Friday, November 27, 2009

DSS - Thanksgiving - Day 3

Working the day after Thanksgiving is not the happiest time for some of us. Especially if you're one of those Black Friday shopping enthusiasts. I am not. I'm more than happy to avoid that crazy madness. But if I have to work, I at least want my co-workers and I to have some tasty food to knosh on while we're hard at it.My free range, heritage turkey was incredibly delicious. I brined the bird the night before resulting in a juicy, tender and flavorful turkey. The dark meat on the legs wasn't dried out and tough, the breast meat was so good it almost converted me from a dark meat fan to a white meat fan. I can't wait to use the leftovers in some other dishes...dishes that won't need a lot of ingredients masking the dry breast meat. My union carpenters also gave it the Hearty Men Seal of Approval. One more note on cooking the turkey, I followed a method from the folks at Cook's Illustrated which calls for cooking it at high heat and flipping the bird every 15 minutes 4 times. I would happily do all of these tricks and methods again to reproduce that succulent goodness.My Wild Rice Pilaf with Cranberries and Pecans wasn't nearly as popular as the mashed potatoes. I knew that was going to happen but being the good sports that my co-workers are, they at least tried it. It helps when you train them on all the sweet goody experiments that they trust you enough to try something different. I love this dish. It's from Martha Stewart's Thanksgiving issue of her magazine. The only thing I didn't do was add the flat leaf parsley which might have added another layer of flavor but with the toasty pecans and plump, sweet cranberries and golden raisins, I didn't think it needed it. Another great thing about this dish is that if you substitute vegetable stock for the turkey stock I used, you could easily convert this to a wonderful hearty vegetarian side dish. Plus it's so easy to make and store ahead of time. This one goes into my side dish rotation.Cranberries are one of the few truly seasonal fruits. You can only get fresh ones now and happily for me now is the time to enjoy my favorite cranberry recipe, Cranberry Sauce with Port and Tangerines from Epicurious. If you like your cranberries jellied and decorated with can ridge indentations, this is probably not the recipe for you. Tart cranberries dancing in ruby port with a hint of sweetness and a brightness provided by the tangerines. I'm mixing into my oatmeal tomorrow morning. Take advantage of the fresh cranberries while you can.The not very fancy but certainly nap inducing lunch spread. Normally if I'm having Thanksgiving with my family back east, my mother would have added a side dish of sauerkraut. A throwback to my German immigrant heritage. She also makes a light lunch Oyster Stew and pops a few plump Chesapeake Bay oysters into the turkey stuffing.Since I was doing all the savory dishes, my co-worker Tina, came through with two apple crumb pies. Thanks Tina, pie for everyone!

Karmic Kitchen 2009 Thanks - Thankful that I have a job and can work on Black Friday during one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression.

We're thankful you have a job too because dog food's not cheap! Can we have some turkey?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

DSS - Thanksgiving - Day 2

So pretty.

My stock pot was hopping all day.

Hmmmm cranberries.
Martha's Wild Rice and Fruit side.

Day Two Dishes:
Stuffing & Dressing
Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry Relish
Wild Rice & Fruit
Two Huge Pots of Turkey Stock

Dirty Dishes Left to Clean Status:
Not bad.

Karmic Kitchen 2009 Thanks - The day is done and everything that was planned was accomplished.

DSS - Thanksgiving - Day 2

Now that the bird is safely nestled in it's warm oven, time to fill in the details of my Fed Ex'ed bird.
I'm not the biggest fan of big traditional turkeys by themselves. I'm more fond of the whole meal. Turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries and if you must, something green. That's what I look forward to. I'm a dark meat girl so the typical broad breasted white grocery store turkey doesn't appeal much to me.I wanted something with a little more flavor, something more traditional. Luckily I didn't have to go very far. Heritage Farms is the marketing and sales arm for small farmers across the country selling heritage turkeys, poultry and pork. Thanks to Frank Reese and his Kansas Good Shepherd Ranch heritage turkey breeds like the Standard Bronze, Narragansett, Beltsville Small Whites and Bourbon Red Turkeys are thriving. They are bred to withstand living outdoors and can reproduce naturally (something that's been bred out of the standard domestic broad breasted white turkey).They are free to range for natural parts of their diets and never are fed antibiotics or animal byproducts. They are also not cheap because they're not bred to be cheap. They take longer to reach marketability and reflect the true cost of small family farming as opposed to giant factory farms. As for the taste? Let you know later on today.Don't forget to visit our DSSer's taking part in our Dim Sum Sunday Thanksgiving Extravaganza. Moi over at Bite the Apple has started out her day trying to subdue her sweet tooth, either that or totally yank it out of her head and Dani at Gardening Under the Florida Sun is blowing me away by her family making their own cornucopia!! Make sure to visit and check out their blogs and prepared to be amazed and hungry.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

DSS - Thanksgiving - Day 1

(Is she making the world's largest baked potato for Thanksgiving dinner???)

Houston, the bird has landed.

Karmic Kitchen 2009 Thanks
I am thankful that Fed Ex saw fit to finally deliver my turkey...only a day late.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dim Sum Sunday - Thanksgiving

Don't forget this Thursday to Sunday is our Thanksgiving Dim Sum Sunday. Show us your favs, the dish you always refuse to eat, or even the one dish there's never enough of. Share your goodness with us. Extra credit to anyone who tries their hand at a Tubaconducken. Just make sure you stock up on bacon first.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Top Chef Tattoo Tuesday

All the horseshoes and rabbit's feet tattoos couldn't bring enough luck to keep this chef stay in the game.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why I cook

Aunty Belle over at the The Front Porch, asked me to make something from Dorrie Greenspan's beautiful book, Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme. I accepted her request because I like to challenge myself. The recipe she chose was, for this book, most likely fairly simple. A warm Chocolate Raspberry Tart. Made from bittersweet chocolate with raspberries baked into the filling, it sounded like a winner. Made by Pierre or Dorrie, I'm sure it is a winner. My first time making it? A leetle rough around the edges.
OK, first let's talk about my mistakes. Rolled my Pâte Sucrée too thin. What was I thinking trying to put whipped cream on a warm tart? Stupid. A little too much butter on my tart pan. I'm not even sure it needed it with the smooth surface. Now, I image googled this particular recipe after I was done to see if the surface of my tart matched how it was supposed to turn out. Not much luck there. I'll have to ask Aunty for what the book's version looked like but I'm just not happy with my results. If you'd like to give it a shot, the recipe for Warm Chocolate Raspberry Tart can be found here. But this is why I cook. To me, I failed with the results (it just looks bad) but I really want to know what I did wrong and try it again. How does it taste? I'm not much of a bittersweet chocolate fan. It's a wee grainy. Crust is good. I imagine if I had been serving this to guests I would have thrown a lot of raspberries on top with a quick sprinkling of powdered sugar and gave it a go.
So, I'd love to hear what you think? How do your cooking failures make you feel?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

You Say Ballotine and I say Terrine

I was wondering, way back during Episode 4, what sort of amazing challenges were in store for the chefs who reached the final five of the competition. You see, Episode 4 was the Daniel Boulud, snails, Joël Robuchon, and classical French sauces episode. A great episode to be sure but I wondered why this great episode happened so early in the season. Now we know why. Bocuse d'Or.
First, a bit of history on the Bocuse d'Or. It's a culinary competition pitting the best of the world's chefs using classical French Cuisine. The competition is not that old, the first was held in 1987. The event is held every two years in Lyons, France. France has won the Bocuse six times, Norway four times, Luxembourg and Sweden have won one each. Americans have not even sniffed a Bronze Bocuse, only coming as close as sixth. A team consists of two chefs, a lead chef and an assistant chef who must be under the age of 22 at the time of competition. They have five and a half hours to prepare their two dishes, meat and fish, in front of a live audience. It's about precision, technique, presentation and taste. It is not for the faint of culinary heart.

Back at the condo, our chefs prepare themselves for their last Quickfire in Vegas. Eli reveals that he's playing to win...not so much for himself but for Richard Blaise. For some reason, Eli believes that Season Four's title of Top Chef was unjustly taken from Richard, going so far as to quote the great movie line from the Princess Bride, "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.". What Eli doesn't seem to realize is that Richard choked during the big game. This can only mean one thing (Dun-Dun-Dunnnnnn) Loser's edit. Still it's not all doom and gloom because Jennifer gives us a Condo parting gift...

...Tank Top Tease!!! (thanks to whoever was following Jen around with the camera)

Our chefs arrive at the kitchen to find Padma wearing her tallest black heels.Because there's nothing a beautiful woman loves more than towering at least a full head over a short man.Standing in Padma's slim shade is Gavin Kaysen, the Rodney Dangerfield of the Culinary World. He was in the 2007 Bocuse D'or but had the misfortune of having a French dishwasher mistakenly eat two of his side dishes and ended up placing 14th. Again in 2007, as a contestant on The Next Iron Chef, he was eliminated for having an under seasoned dish but did not reveal until later that his food had been improperly stored by the tech crew, resulting in it soaking in an ice bath and leaching out all it's flavor. Will Gavin find respect and a little love from Top Chef?Maybe. Padma certainly looks like she's about to tuck him into her pocket. Gavin goes on to describe the chicken Ballotine he made in 2007, leaving out the part about the French Dishwasher's Snack (the name of my next cookbook or band, I can't decide) and how it's a protein, inside a protein, inside another protein. So the Quickfire is to make a version of Gavin's dish, a Ballotine, in ninety minutes. Immediately, the Asshat Voltaggio veers off the track into doing exactly what he wants to do, totally ignoring the whole spirit of the episode which is about fundamentals and precision.BRILLIANT! Jennifer, who needs a win desperately, begins to worry me when she starts to sound like the Ghost of Robin past by explaining that she's never made a ballotine before but at least chooses to make a ballotine from seafood which is in her comfort zone. Apparently Michael has already crowned himself Top Chef and has skipped ahead and also made himself a Judge.BRILLIANT! Finally the ninety minutes is up and the Protein-fest begins.Eli, who I doubt has made a ballotine before, makes a good choice of Scotch Egg. No one spits it out.Michael's Poultry Terrine Chicken with Turkey & Bacon Mousseline is up next.Jennifer finally finds her mojo again with a beautiful Calamari Steak, Scallops, Salmon, Shiitake, Shiso with Rice Noodle Salad which earns a warm "Welcome back." comment from Padma.
Bryan gives us a beautiful Rack of Lamb & Merguez Sausage Wrapped in Caul Fat. He also has sauces of carrot, curry yogurt, roasted pepper coulis and date and fig puree.Kevin sticks to his Juggernaut strategy of drawing on his deep Southern heritage and reinvents Cormeal-Fried Fillet of Catfish with Scallop & Shrimp.Now for the long and the short of all the dishes. Kevin gets a little grief for having dry catfish but it's Michael's terrine that gets called out for being (drumroll please....) a terrine and not a ballotine.BRILLIANT! Maybe the accumulated tattoo ink in his body is causing Michael a bit of short term memory loss....
Of course the winner is the one person Michael claimed had nothing left to show.No immunity or gold big money chip but she does receive an extra 30 minutes she can use for the Elimination Challenge. If we're lucky, she'll model that tank top again.

Up next: Mini Bocuse

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Juggernaut Continues

A Gentle Reminder

Tom thought this dish failed in every way...
...but this dish was good enough to serve to 175 guests of Las Vegas's elite.
The Crack must be mighty fine in Las Vegas.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How do you feed Hungry Women?

Padma, after a long night at the Craps Table and not a Hardee's within 20 miles, makes a phone call to Room Service.The chefs, amazed at Padma's ability to eat at the drop of a fork, must make breakfast in thirty minutes for Padma and her guest, Nigella Lawson.Now this isn't the first time on Top Chef that the contestants have made Padma breakfast. She wasn't in bed and she was alone, gently waking Season 3's chefs as they slept.
Apparently touching the chefs was traumatic enough that this time Padma would be in bed and the chefs would be fully dressed. Still 30 minutes with anything in the hotel pantry? Should have been a piece of cake for all the chefs. But for all that time, equipment and food, the output was pretty uninspiring. Robin and Eli are the first pair to serve, Robin with blintzes and Eli with a Fried Egg Reuben Benedict with Thousand Island Hollandaise Sauce.Robin gets absolutely no feedback on her dish and Eli gets the "it's a great hangover dish" from Nigella. Frankly neither one is hitting my breakfast spot and I love breakfast.

Back in the kitchen, Michael has his big bitch panties on, complaining about how messy Robin left the station he gets to work on. Let me break out the Karmic Kitchen harmonica for a little rendition of the "Nobody here Gives a Crap" Blues. Can you tell which Voltaggio brother I favor? On the other side, Kevin is whipping up the smart choice of meat and eggs, while Michael decides to well char his bitch panties. Thank you Jennifer for keeping us from seeing what a Room Service Fire Drill looks like.Kevin gives us Steak and Soft Scrambled Eggs with Creme Fraiche, Aged Cheddar, and Green Onion. Hello! Michael decides to go international with Huevos Cubana with Banana Puree, Rice, Bacon, Arugula Salad. This one I'm not sure about with that Banana Puree. Again very little feed back from our Ravenous Room Service Wenches.

Our last pair, Jennifer and Bryan get cracking. I can't believe it, Jennifer is doing the classic Shit on a Shingle or Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast, beloved by Armed Forces around the world.She even used the classic Meat in a Jar. Once you were done with the contents, you could use the jar as a juice glass. Yes, Jennifer hit on one of my guilty pleasures. And she's serving it to Padma and Nigella. Bryan on the other hand, has gone a little more refined with his King crab, polenta and four minute egg.Nigella looks a little confused at Jennifer's offering. You know why? Because a typical English breakfast looks like this...Yes, that's baked beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and at least two kinds of breakfast meat on the plate. According to British there's even more what with the fried black pudding and brown sauce (a great glutinous concoction of molasses, vinegar and oriental spices). So I don't want to see any aghast faces from Ms. Lawson at a little SOS. Save it for Bryan's dish.Jen's SoS gets no love or hate and Bryan's 4 Minute Egg with Vanilla Beurre Fondue, crab, Asparagus Spears and Corn Polenta is ruined for Nigella by the overpowering abundance of vanilla. I'm upset because no one thought to plop a greasy fried egg on top of a couple of strips of bacon on top of a huge greasy cheeseburger with loads of Ketchup and let Padma re-enact her recent Product Pimpage while lying in bed. Now that my friends, is Breakfast in Bed.With our judges dressed and hopefully fully sated, time to deliver the results of the Quickfire. For the top two Kevin and Eli are called out with Eli taking the prize for his head slapping sauerkraut breakfast. On the bottom is Robin, yet again, for her blintzes and Bryan, who probably would have won this had he not tried to pair vanilla with King Crab. Which is too bad because had he won, his recipe would have gone into Top Chef's second cookbook...Top Chef Quickfires (in stores NOW). Still it's not $10,000 which would have bought a lot of Axe Shampoo for Eli's crispy hair.His only hope now is that the Axe Shampoo Pig finds him instead.