Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Birthday Cake

My sister had her birthday party the other day, and I jumped at the opportunity to bake a cake. As of yet, my escapades into the world of pastry have been minimal, mainly because there is too much science involved, and you are left with little room to deviate from the recipe. I however, love to bake occasionally, and (though this doesn't count) have had stints with two women in the field; Aunt Jemima and Betty Crocker. Though I do enjoy to bake on occasion, there are only two possible reasons why I may have greased up the old cake pans for my sister; I'm a good big brother, or money. I'll leave that to your imagination.

I searched in George Perrier's Le-Bec Fin cookbook for cake recipes and found one for flourless chocolate. I then found a recipe for buttercream icing in some other miscellaneous cookbook. I made my first ever buttercream icing by whipping some egg whites with sugar that had been heated and some other junk. I chilled this until I was ready to use.

To make the cake I first melted some semisweet chocolate and butter together in a double boiler. When cooled to room temperature, I incorporated this into a mixture of beaten egg yolks and sugar, and then mixed all of that into a mixture of beaten egg whites and sugar. I divided it into 3, buttered, 8-inch cake pans and baked at 300 for an hour.

All in all, it was a very simple recipe that yielded delicious results. This cake is for chocolate purists, faint of heart steer clear. Since I was making this for a bunch of 7th graders, I added the buttercream icing, mellowing out the chocolate flavor and adding some sweetness. The verdict? I thought it was delicious. Definitely an accomplishment for me as a pastry chef. Even the kids liked it!

Monday, June 23, 2008

All Natural

Doesn't that look good? Both the egg and mixed greens are from farmers I found in Rittenhouse Square.

The egg is fried in bacon fat, and the salad has a bacon fat vinaigrette which I made simply in the blender with some mustard, champagne vinegar, salt, pepper, and bacon fat, drizzling the bacon fat in at the end to form an emulsion.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Berries and Cream

Is there a better combination?

Watch this for more on berries and cream, unless you are a fully mature individual.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Told You!

I'm hoping this article will be a wake up call to plenty a parent.

Clearly Whole Foods isn't the be all end all for great, local, organic food. Go to your farmer's markets, develop relationships with local fishmongers and butchers, and you will definitely be better off.

Impress your friends with pasta?

Before you click out of this blog, thinking you've heard it all before, believing that great pasta is a feat only the most elite Italian restaurants can achieve, read on, this is no scam. This pasta of which I speak, if made correctly, is soo good, I estimate a 50% decrease in Bertolli consumption in the next year. My friends and family rave about it, and this is what I serve to my Italian grandmother when I want to impress. I will probably serve this to my parents when asking them for a car. Based on my professional experience, and countless controlled experiments (no animal testing), I've determined that there is a 95% chance this is the best pasta will ever make. I just hope you have a pasta maker.

This recipe is from the French Laundry Cookbook but you can get it online here. The recipe on the website involves making agnolotti (stuffed pasta) but I usually make spaghetti. Follow the same directions as on the website for making the dough but roll the pasta out a little bit thicker and pass it through the spaghetti setting on your machine. For the first time, I recommend simply eating the pasta with some good butter or olive oil. This will allow you to really get a sense for the pasta's great, rich flavor, which is a result of the high egg to flour ratio.

I mixed the wet ingredients in a well of flour until it began to pull away from the table. I then used my handy dandy dough scraper to cut the remaining flour into the dough. Eventually, it all came together and I began to knead it, not pretzel style though, rather, press the dough forward with the heels of your hands. I did this for quite a while, and upon completion, decided I wouldn't have to lift weights for a week. I allowed the dough to rest while I arranged my mise en place.

I rolled the dough out then put it in a pot of heavily salted boiling water for slightly less than two minutes. Meanwhile, I put my multitasking skills to use, cooking an egg sunny side up, reducing some creme fraiche, and rendering some bacon lardons all at the same time! Even the coffee pot that rarely leaves the back burner was forced to vacate. I put the pasta in the reducing creme fraiche, then spooned in some of the pasta water, tossing this with the other ingredients rapidly to form an emulsion (thank you Osteria), I threw in the bacon and added some freshly grated Parmesan. I then transferred this to a plate and put the fried egg on top. It was one, big, heaping platter, just for mom (I think I needed a ride to my friend's house).

Take my advice. Make it. Enjoy.


Ok, school is over, finals are done, and things have settled down. I will be trying my best to make up for the minimal posting over the past few weeks. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Top Chef

Hey, don't read this if you don't want to know who won.

This was quite the finale. The cheftestants chose from 3 chefs, each with a different set of proteins. They would then cook with these chefs. Stephanie wisely chose Eric Ripert (I swear he's in 90% of this site's posts) or the "Ripper" as Grub Street calls him, my main man Richard chose Dan Barber, the chef at Blue Hill in New York (really intellectual chef), and Lisa chose April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig. It was quite interesting watching Eric Ripert, a chef who now does frequent the kitchen, work. I liked it even more when Steph thought she had caught him doing something wrong. There was the slightest glimpse of a little Eric Ripert drama on Top Chef.

It was rather funny hearing Lisa's interpretation of her "bonding" with April, compared to mine. Lisa really thought they were getting close. To me it just seemed like the directors showed a few scenes where April was asking her questions. But I don't really know now do I?

Surprisingly, Stephanie and Eric were quite flustered, yet Lisa was grillin and chillin throughout the competition. Even more surprisingly, she put out some great food for the judges (not that I would've been able to tell by looking at it). Richard clearly choked, and said so at the end, realizing his imminent defeat. I really think he could have pulled this off, and I was disappointed that he didn't really show off what he could do. At one point I was extremely scared for a moment that the rules of gravity would subside, the earth would turn upside down, and Lisa would win Top Chef. Anyway, I quickly looked past those fears and Stephanie won. Woohoo! Can't wait till next season.

Oh and, if you happen to be a Bravo producer, I'll bake you brownies if you can get me on Top Chef Junior.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Top Chef Junior


Read this. Seriously, read it right now then come back here.

Done? Ok.

I am so frikin excited about that and you can be sure I will try as hard as I can to get on that show. Training starts tomorrow. Now I'm going to watch the Top Chef season finale, and pray that my boy Richard can pull out the W. Post on that coming tomorrow. Oh and I'm really banking on Padma being the host for TCJ.

Monday, June 9, 2008

3 Bells in Bucks!

The Bucks county restaurant Rouget, recently received a coveted 3 Bells from Craig LaBan. Pretty impressive for a restaurant out in Bucks. Just one more week till finals are over. I promise I'll stop sending you other articles and start making lots of original stuff!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

New Blog by Eric Ripert!

Eric Ripert has a new blog, Avec Eric! Check out the snapper video. How do you think I learned to determine doneness?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Phili Restaurant Scene

With so many exciting new restaurants just opening up or opening in the near future (10 Arts, Distrito, Table 31 etc.), the future looks bright for an already flourishing Philly Dining Scene.

Check out this interview with the Chef of 10 Arts Eric Ripert (which I still need to finish the review for) and this article about Jose Garces' new Mexican Restaurant, Distrito, both via Phoodie.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

I'm Still A Kid!

Listen, it's really unfortunate that I have to say this, but this week, and maybe a lil next week, I'm gonna be a little slow with the posts.

It's my last two weeks of school and the work is really being heaped on me. This week, all the big projects are due, and next week is finals week. After that though, is summer, and that means more eating out, more cooking, and more posts! So I hope you will understand and stay tuned.

Until next time