Sunday, December 13, 2009

We Don't Knead Bread Book Club


written by Mei Chin

(Re)consider the loaf. This is what Jim Lahey asks us to do, over and over again, in his new book: My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method. Recipes based around his no-knead bread, first made famous in Mark Bittman’s “The Minimalist” column in The New York Times
in 2006, definitively prove that anyone, anyone, can make a good loaf of bread at home. All it takes, he writes, is “about 5 minutes of actual labor, followed by 12 to 18 hours in which the bread rises, developing structure and flavor on autopilot, and then another short rising time, and, finally, the brief baking in a covered pot.” Simple, indeed.

Lahey takes us through his career as a baker, starting with his collegiate days as an art student, making his first loaf as a gift for his girlfriend. Noting the similarities between sculpture and baking, Lahey discovered a passion that would take him to Italy and back, and left him understanding what bread can mean, and what a good loaf could possibly be. Eventually, while working on a request from Chef Cesare Casella, of the Italian Culinary Academy, for bread made in the style of ancient Rome, Lahey improvised his now famous recipe, and has made it ever since.

Recipes in My Bread are accessible and well-written for both neophytes and experienced bakers. All measurements are given in measured and weighted amounts, with clear instructions and pictures that demonstrate each step. Besides Lahey’s basic loaf, there are also sweet and savory breads, a section on pizza, and an homage to the perfect sandwich.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

...Hot Chocolate by Any Other Name Would(n't) Taste As Sweet


written and photographed by Rebekah Peppler

Rich, creamy and impossibly decadent, hot chocolate has lived up to its name as a drink fit for gods, warriors and kings for millennium. That is until America (okay, and Britain) got its sticky fingers all over it.
While I grew up sipping my fair share instant hot cocoa made popular by brands like Nestlé and Swiss Miss, the distinction between hot cocoa and hot chocolate is much more than one word. It's a varied history, rife with centuries of sweet, cocoa bean-laden roots.

Making its entrée into civilization around 1000 B.C., cocoa was first harvested by the Olmecs and made into a liquid by their better-known successors the Mayans, who then shared it with the Aztecs. The Aztecs, prodigious people as they were, bestowed it with the title Theobroma or "food of the gods", spiced it with chili powder, honey and vanilla and served it lukewarm to give strength to their warriors.

When the conquistadors returned to Spain with their plunder of cocoa they replaced the Aztec's spices with sugar, the warriors with the upper class, served it hot and kept it a secret for nearly a century. After word got out about the potation, hot chocolate spread rapidly amidst the high societies of Europe, picking up a proclivity for milk in Britain and maintaining its elitist status. However, in 1828 a Dutch chemist named Coenraad Van Houten invented the cocoa press, making cocoa powder easier to dissolve in liquid, more affordable and thus accessible to the masses. Nonetheless, the process, aptly known as Dutching, starkly diminished the quality of the beverage. Europe's elite chose to stick with the pricier original, and unequivocally tastier, hot chocolate, while Britain, and soon enough America, opted for the less expensive, more convenient cocoa powder.

In America the terms "hot chocolate" and "hot cocoa" were quickly deemed so interchanged that the high-class appeal of the hot chocolate was lost and, as evidenced today, hot cocoa became an overly sweet drink marketed for kids.


Fortunately, authentic hot chocolate is coming back in favor and the distinction between it and its cocoa cousin is being more readily acknowledged. Those in the (chocolate) know visit Jacques Torres and MarieBelle in New York, Vosges Haut-Chocolat in Chicago and Flour Bakery + Café in Boston to indulge in the true essence of European hot chocolate. Or, you can easily make it in the comfort of your own home, reverting back to a time before that pesky Dutchmen's invention and America's inane marketing scheme. A time when hot chocolate was a drink fit for the gods, the warriors, the upper echelon of society.

So, sit back, take a sip. Welcome to your kingdom.


Authentic Hot Chocolate (not to be mistaken for hot cocoa)

serves 2

¾ cup whole milk

¼ cup heavy cream

2 ounces high quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 ounces high quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Place chocolate in heat proof bowl and set aside. Heat milk, cream and salt in a saucepan just to the boiling point. Turn off the heat and pour 1/2 of the mixture over the chocolate and allow to sit for one minute. Whisk, starting from the center, until the chocolate is completely dissolved. Add back to the sauce pan and whisk to combine with the remaining milk mixture. Stir in the vanilla extract and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Reheat gently over low heat and serve with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and a few chocolate shavings.
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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Comfort Me FRANNY!


written by Anthony Ramos

As much as I love to cook at home I find dining out equally as enjoyable. Sharing food with friends and family at the communal table is comforting and rewarding.
Our hip Park Slope friends invited us to meet them at Franny’s on Flatbush Ave for dinner. The restaurant was unfamiliar to me – and being somewhat all things food snobbish – my initial reaction to the restaurant’s name conjured up unflattering images.

We arrived a little early and the line of patrons that ran outside the door surprised me, especially for a Monday night! We edged our way in to get our name on the ubiquitous list. The airy space was filled with gorgeous scents of garlic, basil, tomatoes and baking bread. Looking at the menu the fare is simple, Italian, pizza, a few pastas, uncomplicated appetizers and salumi. The concise menu reminded me of the few days I spent in Rome and Florence where unadorned cafes served some of the best food I’ve ever had.


Back out on the sidewalk, waiting for Beau and MaryKathryn to arrive, Marc whispered to me and told me that Maggie Gyllenhaal was also waiting for a table with her husband, actor Peter Saarsgard and their young daughter. Fellow Brooklynites, I figured, just out for a casual dinner with their friends – just like us. Like good stalwart New Yorkers no one flinched at the celebrity sightings and it was business as usual.

With the arrival of our friends, we immediately ordered cocktails, wines and some food to start. The Crostino of wood-roasted pancetta and herb butter and the Fried eggplant with cherry tomato and Parmigiano Reggiano that arrived from the open kitchen were deceptively simple, constructed of just a few ingredients. The crostino of Italian bacon and melted herb butter on thickly grilled bread was rustic and savory.

We choose the Rigotonicini with pork sausage, rapini and Provolone piccante and a brick oven pizza made with Buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, red pepper and yes, more sausage. The pizza had that wonderful crispy char from baking on hot stone in the oven. It reminded me of the pizza I had in Rome, so I closed my eyes and imagined hearing Vespas sputtering around cobble-stoned streets. The pasta was perfect, really al dente the way I like it and the wilted rapini and piquant sauce flavored with sharp Provolone were enticing.

It just proves that the best quality ingredients in the right hands can create a soul satisfying experience. As for the name…I’d forgotten about those unflattering images after sharing a bottle of complex, earthy Sicilian wine.
photo credit: Vanessa Vichit-Vadakan

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Escoffier was a Hustler" - Anthony Bourdain

written by Jason Greenberg

Listening to Anthony Bourdain speak is like running through a field of land mines. Okay maybe just a field of sound bites. He rattles off one-liners in such quick succession that you’re sure he had to have prepared them beforehand. Part journalist (he prefers storyteller), part chef, part writer and part comedian, he
has become not only the face of The Travel Channel, but also one of the most recognizable personalities in the food industry.

Bourdain was in town recently to take part in a Times Talks interview session—an event in conjunction with the Food Network’s NYC Wine and Food Festival. His interviewer was none other than former New York Times restaurant critic, Frank Bruni. Most of the questions and conversation centered on Bourdain’s television show, No Reservations. But one should always expect Bourdain to veer onto other food-related topics. His opinions on certain celebrity chefs are widely known, but lately he has been critical of beloved chef Alice Waters too. “She scares me,” he said, adding his own strikingly visual description of Waters as “Pol Pot in a muumuu.” The crowd certainly got a kick out of that. Although some, including Bruni, were slightly taken aback. Bourdain took issue with Waters’ appearance on 60 Minutes and her constant preaching on the nation’s eating habits. “The message is good, she’s just the wrong person to deliver it,” he said.

Bourdain did admit that sometimes he goes too far and occasionally regrets the blatant honesty he is known for. He recalled a time that he made disparaging comments about Chef Jamie Oliver. He later found out that Oliver had suffered from dyslexia as a child, and that Kitchen Confidential had been one of the first books he'd ever read—that he had been a hero of sorts to him. Bourdain has since apologized and the two had a beer.

The topic of the Food Network also frequently comes up in conversation with Bourdain. “It’s a Food Network world, I just live in it,” he told Bruni. Does he believe that a chef’s personality and on-air presence can be determining factors in the success of their restaurants or their career in general? Yes and no. There are some chefs, such as Eric Ripert, whom he believes should never have to give another interview because his food speaks for itself. Bourdain does, however, admit that there is a bit of hustling that is inevitable, even historical in the food world. “Escoffier was a hustler,” he said. “With the book deals and restaurants.”

After Bruni was done with his questions, it was the audience’s turn. Unfortunately, most of the questions were more chances to praise Bourdain than actual questions. But a few led to Bourdain to share more of his philosophies and insights. A few asked about the obesity epidemic to which he responded, “All I can say is stop eating at the king, the
Colonel and the clown.”
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spicy, Flaky and Smoky: Aleppo Pepper

written by Mei Chin

I am not a spice lover by nature. My parents don’t stomach hot food terribly well, but it was somewhere in the late 90s when my mother introduced red pepper flakes to our larder. But even from the beginning, it was never enough. Discovery, circa 1997? I love hot pepper enough to make the pizza guy’s eyes bulge out when I order a slice.

But that kind of heat (the red pepper flake kind) is a straight shot, a one-two punch. Aleppo pepper, a fruity, sultry pepper from Syria, is not that kind of pepper. Aleppo pepper is the dried, ground skin of peppers of the same name, is mixed with with olive oil and a little salt, and then set to ferment in the sun. It’s spicy and flaky and smoky all at once; the heat starts out mild, but then blooms in the throat, revealing fruitiness and smoke. Aleppo pepper is also clever at hiding itself in dishes where you don’t expect heat, only to reveal itself after the second, or third bite. It is completely delicious, and utterly addicting.

Rated at a 3-4 on the Scoville heat scale, Aleppo isn’t the hottest pepper around, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a pepper for when subtlety is called for, rather than a hammer over the head. It would even be good, sprinkled with abandon, on top of a pizza slice. Don’t think I haven’t tried it.


Photo: The Nibble
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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Oh Hello Apple Pie and Cheddar Brisee

Written and Photographed by Rebekah Peppler

Let’s get this right out in the open. I’m from Wisconsin. Born and raised on brats, beer and cheddar cheese, I can hold my own at a -20˚F Packer game, possess intricate know-how in order to navigate the rowdy aisles of a Brewer’s game without spilling any choice beverages and can boast of growing up witha foam cheese-head and chunk of authentic Lambeau turf in the downstairs freezer.
So, when it came time for the first apple pie of the year and I found myself back in my home state, I wanted to honor it in only the best of ways. What are the best of ways for a Wisconsinite? With cheese, cheddar cheese.

Cheddar has long been the classic foil to apples, traditionally served on the side of apple pie, its sweet-savory combination balances perfectly on the tongue. But when leaving it up to the diner proves too cumbersome, cut out the middleman and bake it directly into the crust. It makes this timeless combination even easier, plus there’s the added bonus of a warm home inundated with the robust aroma of toasted cheddar cheese and sweet apple compote.

And if you can, get your hands on a vigorously sharp Wisconsin cheddar and make me – and my home state – proud.

Apple Pie Tartlettes with Cheddar Brisee
Serves 6

For the Cheddar Brisee
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
pinch salt
I/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 – 4 Tbsp ice cold water
¾ cup sharp Wisconsin cheddar

1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and cut in butter until lentil sized pieces form.
2. Add water and mix just till the dough comes together.
3. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill.
4. When well chilled, roll out and line six 4” tartlette shells.

For the Apple Compote

6 medium apples (I used a mixture of Paula Red and Zestar)
½ cup vanilla sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
generous pinch of salt
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup water, plus more if needed

1. Core and chop apples into ½ inch pieces. Toss in fresh lemon juice. (I leave the skin on to impart a gorgeous ruby color and enhance texture).
2. Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover with a parchment round, turn down the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender and compote is thickened.
3. Line a sheet pan with plastic wrap allowing excess to hang over side; spread compote onto sheet pan and cover gently with excess wrap. Allow compote to cool completely.

To Assemble and Bake
1. Preheat over to 400˚F.
2. Prick the chilled tart shell with a fork, fill with cooled compote.
3. Bake 10-15 minutes until crust is browned.
4. Serve warm or at room temperature with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

French Culinary Restaurant Review: Je me souviens (I remember) L'Ecole

Written by Anthony Ramos

With fond memories of my culinary alma matter, I stole away a Friday afternoon to have a cozy lunch at L’Ecole – the restaurant at The French Culinary Institute in SoHo. It was wonderful to be back in the neighborhood, but strange not to head straight to the kitchen, instead being led to a table for two.
The restaurant was buzzing with activity as I imagined the kitchen was too. It is astonishing to think about the shear number of people that must interact and work together to just please one guest. From expediters to senior chefs to culinary students at different stations, from waiters to hosts to dishwashers and bussers. A tightly manufactured piece of machinery where the weakest cog can easily bring down the house. All of this crossed my mind even before the bread came to the table.

After ordering cocktails, Marc and I took a serious look at the menu. The seasonal lunch fare, prepared by FCI students, features three courses. After some wheeling and dealing (“if you order the tartare I will get the cavatelli, and then we can try both”) we decided to start off with the Arctic char tartare with walnuts, Stilton blue and Yorkshire pudding, and the Cavatelli with rock shrimp, fava beans and ricotta salata. The char tartare (say that fast three times) was silky and tasted like the sea but we both agreed the Stilton could have had a stronger presence. As for the cavatelli (the pasta nemesis from my own FCI final), it was well balanced and had a good array of flavors, perfect for a summer lunch.

We were then eager to move on to our main courses: Seared duck breast and braised leg with fingerling potatoes and sour cherry sauce for Marc, and a pan-roasted lamb loin with goat cheese polenta, asparagus, figs and lamb jus for me. I reminisced about the duck and lamb before it even approached the table – thinking about my own experience preparing similar dishes for L’Ecole as a student not so long ago. When our entrées arrived my lamb had a gorgeous pool of lamb jus. I was immediately reminded of the wondrous and deeply flavored sauces I learned to make as a student.

To say my lunch was satisfying and nostalgic would be an understatement. Let’s just say it brought me back to a joyful time in my life, confident in where I had come from as a chef.
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Monday, August 24, 2009

How Did they Discover Coffee from a Bean?


Written by Andrea Scalici

I don’t know if it’s my inquisitive nature or my obvious love of food but I often find myself pondering the origins of some of my favorite, can’t live without, treats. Like coffee for example; who would have thought that simply roasting some beans would turn into this amazing black elixir I couldn’t start my day without? And so began my quest to finally uncover such answers...
We start in Ethiopia around the 15th century. Legend has it that a goat herder came upon a lively group of “dancing goats” chewing on bright red berries from a bush. He decided to try to berries for himself, immediately enjoying the exhilaration. The man ran with the berries to a nearby monastery and showed them to an Islamic holy man, who in turn, disapproved of their use and threw them into his fire. The "Legend of Dancing Goats" goes on to describe the enticing, billowing aroma that came out of the fire where the beans were swiftly rescued from the flames, ground up, and dissolved in hot water – producing the world’s first cup of coffee.

The story then moves throughout Arabia, where qahwa beans were roasted and brewed similar to today, Persia, Turkey, and northern Africa. From the Muslim world, kahve spread to Italy and the rest of Europe, Indonesia, and the Americas. The first European caffè house opened in Italy in 1645.

Coffee has since seen many advances and reformations. One I have to wonder about is the world's most expensive variety, Kopi Luwak, named for the Indonesian word coffee and its "processor", the Asian Palm Civet.
These cat/raccoon-like animals ingest the red coffee cherries containing the fruit and seed. The inner bean is not digested, but a unique combination of enzymes in the stomach break down the proteins that give coffee its bitter taste. The beans are defecated, still covered in some inner layers of the berry, washed, and given a light roast (so as to not destroy the complex flavors that develop through the process). The most pronounced characteristic of Kopi Luwak is a marked reduction in bitterness. How did anyone think to do this?! It is said that these omnivores tend to pick the ripest and sweetest fruit, thus providing brewers with a natural selection for the best coffee beans. But still?! Is there anything left to discover about coffee? I have to wonder...

In today’s world, these magic beans are a vital cash crop for many Third World countries where coffee is the primary export. Though the process hasn’t changed very much relatively speaking, the culture certainly has. On any given day in America you can choose regular or decaf, bold or medium, and au lait or light and sweet. You could even attend a cupping or coffee tasting to explore different regions’ distinctions. And on any given day, you can find me with my billowing aromatic, piping hot cup in my hand, complete with a little cream.

Stay tuned for the upcoming installments that explore the origins of popcorn, bagels, and more!
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Seared Jumbo Scallops, Grilled Calamari, Swordfish Kebobs...

Written by Tracey Ceurvels

When you walk through the open doors to this ground-level restaurant you might think you’re somewhere far more exotic than Brooklyn. But with the buses, cars and taxis whizzing down Fulton Street, there is no mistaking that you’re in Fort Greene.
Welcome to Aqualis Grill, the neighborhood’s newest addition to its ever-growing culinary scene, which serves Mediterranean food (with mostly Greek influences). The dining room is minimal yet warm and inviting with a tin ceiling, exposed brick and plants. There was once an Italian restaurant here (some of the basic elements are intact), but the space has been pleasantly revamped to suit owner Gorian Papa’s sensibilities. There’s an open kitchen where you can watch chef John Tsakanis, formerly of Kellari Taverna, make the restaurant’s specialty; fresh fish—Mediterranean sea bass, red snapper or royal dorado—picked that morning from Hunt’s Point then grilled whole, simply, with olive oil. The food here is clean, fresh and straightforward. Some of the highlights include the octopus appetizer ($10), grilled calamari with lemon saffron vinaigrette ($10), swordfish kebob with escarole ($19), the cod with spinach and roasted golden beets ($18) and the jumbo scallops, pan roasted with a white bean salad ($18). You must come here for the seafood, but if you’re feeling carnivorous, there are juicy lamb chops ($21) and a crisp and tender roast chicken ($16). There is also a cute bar where you can enjoy an appetizer or dinner, but on my visit, no alcohol (the liquor license still hadn’t arrived but hopefully it will soon). To top it all off, dessert here is a single option; a classic Greek dish of homemade baklava that’s served with yogurt topped with sour cherries. With its unique flair and bright flavors, Aqualis Grill is a welcome newcomer to the neighborhood. Read more!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chocolate Anyone?

written by Deepa Chander

When I think about the most expensive chocolate dessert in the world, I picture it sitting proud on a plate, somewhere in the middle of an exotic resort being served by tuxeod clad gentleman, eating it while sipping the perfect champagne.But surprisingly, this is one dessert that I don't have to travel far to find, just hop on the subway and get to Serendipity 3, right here in New York City. Deemed the world's most expensive chocolate dessert, this lavish and luxurious item sells at a whopping $25,000. The Frozen Haute Chocolate is made from a blend of 28 cocoas from around the world and is served in a goblet lined with edible gold. It is topped with whipped cream, more gold and a side of Madeline au Truffle, which itself sells for $2,600 a pound. And for the "cherry on top", the dessert is plated with an 18k gold and diamond bracelet resting on the base of the goblet, and a gold spoon with white and chocolate diamonds as souvenirs. In this age of financial downfall, this may seem like a bit much. I mean, who in the world can afford to pay $25,000 for dessert? Probably just the filthy rich and famous, but then again this is New York where you have to think ahead all the time on the culinary scene. Coming up with unique and bizarre food is part of the process and, for some customers, part of the appeal. There are many other unique items made from chocolate that seem to attract crowds like chocolate spas to relax your mind and body at the Hotel Hershey in Pennsylvania, or chocolate flavored toothpaste - cause..well, why not? I guess the point is the excitement of paying an exuberant amount of money on dessert (and jewelry). Is it any good? Who cares? After shelling out $25, 000 for it, I doubt I would complain.

PS: This dessert is just a version of their popular frozen hot chocolate, created by owner Stephen Bruce.
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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cherry Stained Photography

written and photographed by Rebekah Peppler

Is it just me or have the cherries never been better then right here right now? Firm, juicy and sweet as the heavens, these amethyst phenoenons demand a hot summer day, a seat on a concrete curb and a surfeit of garnet-stained hands and lips. A few weeks ago, when my eyes proved too big for my stomach and cherries threatened to overtake the house, I reached for my favorite sweet tart dough recipe, doctored it up with a bit of cardamom, a touch of almond and let those crimson delights do all the work. Let's just say that tart never made it to sunset.

Since – as a rule – I don’t go a night without dessert, I switched out the filling for the probably the easiest custard known to man, dolloped it with lightly sweetened whipped cream and sat back as the sky turned from day to night, my lips and hands perfectly matching the cherry-red sky.


Cherry-Cardamom Tart
Serves 8-10

For Cardamom Sucrée Crust
For one 9” tart, six 3” tartlettes … and a bit extra for a rainy day
• 125 g powdered sugar
• 250 g butter; unsalted
• 3 eggs
• 500 g cake flour
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp almond extract
• 1 tsp cardamom; freshly ground
Cream together butter and sugar until lightened and doubled in volume. Add eggs and almond extract gradually, mixing to combine after each addition. Sift together cake flour, baking powder and cardamom. Add all at once and mix just to combine. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill till firm.
For Almond Cream
• 125 g butter
• 125 g powdered sugar
• 125 g almond flour
• 3 eggs
• 1 tsp almond extract
• 20 g pastry cream powder (25 g cornstarch can be substituted)

Cream together butter, sugar and almond flour. Add eggs and almond extract gradually until completely combined. Add the pastry cream powder and mix tocombine.

For Tart
Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Roll out the sucrée and line a 9-inch tart shell, chill for at least 30 minutes. Dock the bottom of the shell and place an even layer of almond cream into the unbaked tart shell. Line with pitted Bing cherries and bake 40-50 minutes until the crust is browned and almond cream is set. Allow to cool.
Custard Tartlets with Sweet Cherries
Makes six 3-inch tartlettes
• 100 g vanilla sugar
• 2 eggs
• 50 ml heavy cream
• 125 ml milk
• ¾ tsp cardamom; freshly ground
• ¾ tsp vanilla extract
• ¼ tsp almond extract

• Cardamom-Sucrée
• Bing cherries; pitted
• Crème Chantilly

Line six tartlette molds with cardamom sucrée and chill. Dock the bottom of the tartlettes with a fork, fill with baking weights and blind bake till lightly browned. When cooled, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the heavy cream, whole milk, cardamom and extracts until incorporated. Strain custard, fill tart shells with pitted cherries and fill with custard. Bake 300˚ for 20-25 minutes or until custard is set. Cool and serve with crème chantilly.

For the Crème Chantilly
• 100 g heavy whipping cream
• 25 g powdered sugar
• ½ tsp vanilla extract

Whip heavy cream to a soft peak, add in sugar and vanilla and whip to medium peak.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cali: The Cottage Eatery

written by Martine Boyer

Snugly nestled in the corner of a strip mall parking lot, the Cottage Eatery is a delectable reason to venture into tiny Tiburon, a small seaside town, in the Marin Headlands, no more than 15 minutes outside of
San Francisco.
Envisioning a cottage by the sea, the location was a disappointment quickly forgotten once we stepped inside the softly lit room. Run by Edward Carew and Jennifer Rebman, a husband and wife team, the year-old Cottage Eatery offers a stylish an inventive menu, created from locally sourced ingredients.

We were welcomed warmly, seated immediately, and quickly charmed by our rustic surroundings. Our informal yet informed server turned out to be Chef Carew’s wife and partner, Jennifer.

What followed was a two-hour progression of ooh’s and aaah’s. Lightly marinated Monterey Bay sardines, quickly followed by braised tripe served piping hot. These were a delicious start to our eventual six course meal. Our next starter, seared foie gras, a creamy combination of layered flavors, was one of the highlights of the evening. Unable to resist, we ordered two main dishes, the spaghetti dish, which belied the simplicity of its name by leaving us wanting more, and the Duroc suckling pig, perfectly cooked and armed with crackling skin and melt in your mouth tender meat.

Finally, dessert was an unpretentious peach tart. Effortlessly wowing us, with flaky crust and warm sweet peach flavor, it was a delicious complement to the velvety vanilla ice cream accompaniment.

We left reluctantly, but satiated, and planned our return to the cottage by the parking lot. A worthwhile incentive to cross the Golden Gate Bridge.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ribbed

written by Anthony Ramos
Memories linger from my 4th of July holiday in Michigan and interfere with my “back to work” reality. Lazy days at our lake house are now replaced with the daily grind that is NYC.Happily over the long weekend I was able to cook casual meals for us to enjoy al fresco.

We all had a hankering for ribs, so I reached for my iPhone to reference some recipes on BigOven – my latest app obsession. List in hand we headed to a supermarket. I loaded up on all the necessary spices and ingredients to satisfy our current craving.
Back at the homestead, I mixed together a dry rub of smoked paprika, garlic, chili and onion powder, cayenne and white pepper, salt, and sugar. I generously applied the dry rub to the meaty ribs and let them relax in the refrigerator for two hours.

After kicking back on the pontoon boat for a leisure putt-putt around the lake I returned to preheat the oven to 300 degrees and to start making the saucy glaze. Equal parts of cider vinegar, brown sugar and Dijon mustard are slowly heated in a saucepan and reduced to a thick syrupy sauce. Taste testing along the way, I added more brown sugar to balance the acidity of the vinegar.

With two racks of ribs in the oven I basted them every half hour for the next three hours. The house was filled with the scent of aromatic spices and the zing of cider vinegar.

To keep my stomach distracted and my head occupied I focused on building the evening’s bonfire. S’mores are traditionally on the dessert menu and there’s really nothing like a fire-toasted marshmallow, melted chocolate and graham cracker treat.

Every visit to the oven door was in anticipation of dinner. Fresh corn on the cob was prepped for the grill with silks and husk removed. Each cob was nestled in a foil blanket with pats of butter, salt and cracked black pepper. With the grill heating up I removed the ribs from the oven and placed them on the grill with ears of corn outlining the two beautiful racks. Basting once more helped the ribs attain a crispy caramelization and I rushed them to a serving platter. The ears of corn were sweet, buttery and the kernels were slightly charred and meltingly tender.

And the ribs,… meaty, succulent, sweet, spicy, smoky, and fall off the bone perfect accompanied by sticky fingers and smiles. Memories like this will just have to sustain us until we return.
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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reader Discretion Advised

written by Andrea Scalici
In the Land of the Free where we eat what we please, it is hard to imagine using more of a product than the same ol’ thigh, breast, or wing. But all over the world, cutting up a fish or animal and using every single part is common practice.. While the varieties run the gamut, I have broken it down so it’s easier to stomach. Blood, Brains, Body, and Booze. (Reader discretion advised…)

BLOOD

In places like Hungary, Trinidad, Sweden, China, and all over Europe, pig’s blood is used for dishes such as blood and eggs, blood pudding – much like rice pudding –, blood dumplings, jellied blood, and of course, blood sausage (the only food my brother doesn’t like), all respectively. Blood sausage is known and Boudin in France and Blutwurst in Germany so be sure to know what you are ordering.

BRAINS

Not only used for thinking, but also for nourishment, who woulda thought?! Right here in the U.S. of A. dishes like squirrel brain grace tables in the South. Other places in the world enjoy calf’s brains, or tete de veau, in France; sheep’s head, called smalahove, in Sweden; and cow brains, made into “tacos sesos”, in Mexico.

BODY

This is where it gets interesting, seeing exactly how consumers get the most if their meat. Monkey toes in Indonesia for example, deep-fried and eaten off the bone like our version of chicken wings. “Borewors” from South Africa are sheep, pig, and cow intestines stuffed with meat and off cuts, much like our version of sausage. Have the BBQ on? Why not try skewered rat like in Thailand. Got a smoker in your house? How about smoked bat like in Indonesia. If those aren’t for you maybe you would rather try dried bugs or lizards like in Beijing or Hong Kong? A little closer to home of course is the cow’s foot, usually jellied in Poland and called “nozki” or “p’tcha” in the Jewish religion. If that wasn’t enough use of your cow, you could always use the lungs too like they do in Malaysia and the Philippians. I am starting to feel like we are being very wasteful here!

BOOZE

Last but certainly not least are the many wondrous things our human race does with the art of fermentation. Though definitely not as…well, interesting, as the foods listed above, these liquors certainly break the mold. If you are, like me, a big fan of artichokes, try “Cynar” from Italy, a bitter liqueur made from artichokes. (There also exists a non-alcoholic artichoke tea from Vietnam). “Kvass”, from Russia is for beer lovers and is a beer-like beverage made by fermenting old bread in water. And from Greece, “Retsina” takes a different twist on white wine by adding pine resin. The story goes that the church imposed taxes on wines not altered in an attempt to discourage drinking. But as these things go, the people developed a taste for the cheap stuff!

Bon appetit

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Lucky No.7

written by Anthony Ramos
Each time we walk through the doors at No. 7 Restaurant we wonder to ourselves – why do we go any place else? The restaurant, perched right above the Lafayette subway station, is located at 7 Greene Ave in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. Fort Greene is home to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, known to locals as “BAM” and to a diverse mixture of people. The neighborhood exudes a bohemian, earthy, liberal air – no wonder French Culinary Institute Alum, Chef Tyler Kord, has dug his heels into this eclectic enclave.

My partner, Marc, and I settled into one of the tables in the back of the restaurant guided by a chic but approachable hostess. The room is filled with culinary hipsters, first dates, flirty gay couples, and the like.

I love that point in the evening during dinner service where you can feel the electricity and excitement in the air – it’s usually when the house is packed, the kitchen is running like a well-oiled machine and the wait staff never misses a beat. Everyone falls into this mesmerizing groove of sorts – having worked back of the house I feel that nervous thrill as dishes are being knocked out one by one and the intensity of the environment fuels every drop of adrenaline in your body. A feeling I miss from working at L’Ecole – the restaurant at FCI.

As we settle in with a cocktail, we peruse the concise menu sitting in anticipation to listen to the specials of the day. The wait staff is friendly, confident and sexy and our waiter tempts our palates with the chef’s daily selection.

We started with a snapper sashimi over Galia melon dressed with a spicy peanut, jalapeno and cilantro sauce. Each bite was savored and the various flavor notes were absolutely harmonious.

For main entrées we had the boneless pork chop that was slowly braised in a ginger broth then seared on the grill – served over Sardinian pasta called fregola the juicy chop delivered savory bites. I love their crispy breaded chicken, it is incredibly moist, rolled into a cylindrical shape – it’s a must have! The contemporary American cuisine has hints of Korean influence with pickled vegetables and kimchi pierogies.

Sitting comfortably in our seats my eyes wander to check out the bustling bar scene and the busy yet tiny exhibition kitchen. No. 7 is the kind of restaurant I would love to own someday, it’s cozy, sophisticated and always a welcoming place to dine.

The night winded down, I sip an after dinner coffee, and slide further into my chair. My body almost limp from feeding off the adrenaline rush, sated we saunter into the night.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sex, Food, and Photography.

written and photographed by Rebekah Peppler
As you read, please enjoy my current fetishes throughout…
Giada, Nigella and Rachael are all doing it, heck even Thomas Keller is doing it. It glistens, it envelops, it’s like velvet on the tongue. Are we talking about the same thing here?


The phrase “food porn” sauntered into the spotlight via Frederick Kaufman’s aptly titled article, “Debbie does salad Read Full Article Here: the Food Network at the frontiers of pornography.” Originally published in 2005 by Harper’s Magazine, the term quickly vaulted into our vocabulary through the likes of Anthony Bourdain and has definitively, and lasciviously, stuck.

In Kaufman’s piece he works with a photographer (who based much of her career in the porn industry) to compare the striking parallels between porn films and Food Network shows. Especially startling is the analysis of camera techniques. Imagine Giada with her beguiling smile and trademark low-cut top squeezing a lemon – close-up on the curvaceous, dripping lemon, then Giada, back to the lemon – you get the picture.



Besides television’s seductive presentation of food, there’s the good old-fashioned photography. Not that we’re complaining. Who doesn’t love a beautiful shot of food? Whose lips do not part slightly while peering at the perfect composed covers of Saveur, Gourmet, Food & Wine and Bon Appetit?

A still of freshly-made pasta coaxed into shapely tortellini or a close-up of a juicy burger, cheese dripping off the perfectly formed patty onto its unfailingly plump bun. These shots are products of an ideal trifecta of light, focus and composition. Since food porn is a delight to sit back and enjoy as well as actively participate in (as I do on an markedly frequent basis) here’s a few starter tips:

1. Lighting is key. More precisely, natural lighting is key. Think of the sexiest times of day and use those as your ideal times to shoot. Morning’s hazy sun, slinking through the shades or early evening’s sultry shadow creeping into to steal the day away are both perfect moments to capture your creation on film.


2. Focus on something special in your piece. Isn’t it true that the small – sometimes lacy – details make all the difference? Whether it be the tip of that perfect berry atop your tartlette or the ripple of molten chocolate ganache languidly making it’s way down the edge of that triple chocolate layer cake, spotlight that special something and narrow your focus to get up close and personal.


3. Compose your piece to bring your viewer right in there with you. Take a bite out of that vivacious red velvet cupcake, leave just a few crumbs of a cookie lingering on the plate. Let your viewer feel like they could use their finger to swipe up the leftovers or finish what you started. Leave something to the imagination (just because it’s – food – porn doesn’t mean it can’t be a bit classy right?) Crop out the end of that croissant, remove a basket of overflowing tomatoes from the table full of them. Leave it up to the viewer to fill in the gaps – you know they want to.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

All the Hype about Marlow and Sons...

by Rebekah Peppler
All the hype Marlow and Sons has been receiving these past few months is one reason to visit the Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based gourmet store-cum-restaurant. The other is their amazingly honest, down-to-earth food, which changes according to season and the availability from local producers.The oysters are guaranteed to be fresh and briny, plucked straight from icy east coast waters and at $2.75 each, they’re worth every slurping mouthful. The menu includes ever-rotating-with-the-seasons crostini, soup, salad, panini, pasta, brick chicken, and fish, as well as a well-edited selection of cheeses and cured meats.

One of the most satisfying dishes during a past visit was a creamy, locally-made Salvatore Bklyn Ricotta crostini, drizzled with honey, thyme and mint, and topped with a generous dollop of poached rhubarb.

And, while the service is a gamble, dessert is a sure fire hit - the words "chocolate-caramel tart" are all that are needed to get a decadently rich, sea-salt enhanced slice of heaven. One of the best ways I've found to end a night out.

81 Broadway
Williamsburg Brooklyn 11211
(718) 384-1441
www.marlowandsons.com
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Doin’ the Charleston

by Anthony Ramos
I love New York, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I just need to escape the city. So, I made plans to go to Charleston, SC – a place I’ve been wanting to visit for many years after listening to natives speak so lovingly about their home. I was ready to explore the city and most importantly dine on low country cuisine.We arrived in the afternoon and we parked ourselves at Pearlz Oyster Bar on East Bay Street and sampled oysters while drinking cold martinis. Sitting at the front bar, we were perfectly perched to enjoy the parade of Charlestonians and tourists alike as they passed by. The oysters were silky, briny, salty and fresh. The addition of a little mignonette or cocktail sauce complemented the plump treats.

I’m always open to recommendations so when a local suggested Jestine's Kitchen – a quirky unpretentious restaurant on Meeting Street - I rushed over. It serves the kind of comfort food you would expect in the South; crispy fried chicken, mac n’ cheese, collard greens, and more. I just couldn’t pass up these favorites and finished my soulful dinner with a peach and berry cobbler... delicious!
But I really wasn’t going to be satisfied until I had shrimp and grits, and I was lucky to enjoy them at Virginia’s on King. The shrimp sat atop creamy grits mixed with smoky sausage. I savored every bite and daydreamed about making the same dish back home with my own variation on the theme.

Low country cuisine well suits the laid back gentility of this city where the air is perfumed with the scent of delicate jasmine flowers. The architecture and lush gardens are a wonderful canvas for any visitor to enjoy while dining or walking off a grand meal. We spent languid days shopping, eating and sightseeing. Tall palmettos swayed in the breeze and mornings were spent on the loggia with freshly brewed coffee and toasted sweet black bread.

We were lucky to spend our downtime at the Joseph Aiken Mansion and sleep in one of the oversized bedrooms in “the big house”. Built in the Greek Revival style in the late 1840's the stately mansion took us back to a time when proper manners and good family names were de rigeur.

My memories of Charleston and its food will linger with me like the sweet scent of jasmine hanging on the breeze.
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What Seasons Tastes Like

by Andrea Scalici


Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall Seasonal Eating...  

What tastes like Spring
Vegetables like artichoke, spinach, kale, watercress, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, new potatoes, onion, rhubarb, bamboo shoots and asparagus, garnished with bountiful parsley. A great drink to enjoy outside, mojitos are back with fresh mint to wash down that big bowl of guacamole. We can also enjoy the beginnings of fruit harvests for strawberries, great to replace the end of blood oranges. On the protein side of things, nothing says Easter like Spring Lamb but it’s also great to fire up the pot for the last of the mussels or the incoming crabs. Now is also the time to experiment with grouse, and hare, or maybe some salty sardines.

Summer Grilling
The fresh produce really explodes onto the scene from June to August with all the varieties of crisp beans, sweet Summer peas, buttery chanterelles, and earthy eggplant, peppers, Swiss chard and turnips. Accompanying dinner every night can be a bright salad of lettuce or arugula, cucumbers and tomatoes, all ingredient at their peak to refresh us in these hot months. My favorite fruits find the stands again, like sweet and tart cherries, juicy nectarines, exotic mangos, dark plums, cool melons, and all the brightly flavored berries hitting their strides. And of course, it wouldn’t be summer without corn on the cob! Pair it all up with lamb chops, salmon, soft shall crabs, bass, trout, tuna, John Dory, or late summer lobster on the grill. Or make a Southern-style dish of crayfish and orka. Don’t forget to serve everything with fragrant and colorful basil, a staple in the summertime.

Autumn Beauty
In that time when the leaves are changing and the sun seems to be golden all day with the light of dusk, we can start to see the change in our dinner plates too. Fall tastes like pumpkin for sure, but also like chestnut, fig, sweet potato, squash, beet, mushroom, and apples, pears, and cranberries. Fall also brings back the months with R's in them which means oyster season (and clams)! If that weren’t enough, big game hunting goes into full swing, with deer, elk and moose in the spotlight.

Cozy Winter Warmers
I know for me, the only thing that can warm my weary winter bones is comfort food, slow cooked with rich flavors, like stews featuring seasonal carrot, turnip, daikon, parsnip and rutabaga. Other great sides to a nice roast may be brussels sprouts sautéed with shallots, braised red cabbage, beetroot, sunchoke, or potato leek soup. This is also the time of year for great citrus and winter pears. Duck and goose are the tradition winter players on the main stage with great seafood options like sea bass, scallops, Pacific yellowtail, Pacific cod, halibut, monkfish, skate, mussels and the wondrous treat that is Stone Crab.

But for now, we can put the cold weather behind us and those ingredients on a shelf, and get outside to buy vibrant fruits and vegetables to last us all season long. Nothing tastes more like Spring than fresh produce.

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FeedBack to F.C.I from Y.O.U

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"A Day with Andy & Eggs"

by Zach Field

Pop Art is arguably one of the most revolutionary art movements of the twentieth century. Aiming to deflate and re-establish a societal order that had begun to sink in to lethargy, the work the leaders of this school
were able to generate were greeted, initially, with great aversion and their paintings seen as a malign to the medium. Andy Warhol was among these few who spent the majority of his life as an artist with his creativity and integrity in constant question. His art was absurd and the materials he juxtaposed were rarely harmonious to the layman’s eye. In time, Warhol’s work began to gain recognition. The everyday objects he was able to graft together were granted admission as art and his carouse of the mundane was lauded and much looked after. Like most of his great contemporaries, Andy Warhol understood the essence of creativity. He knew how to make light of the world around him and masterpieces by celebrating the daily subjects that surrounded him. In one quick brush stroke the ordinary was exalted and everyday items, like the Campbell soup can, brought to life, and copied in color creating work our culture now recognizes as iconic.

Similarly, a good chef understands that the purest dishes are derived from the simplest ingredients. Using a product as commonplace as an egg, it seemed only appropriate to tackle this project with the abstract idea of making sense of the two; correlating a connection between the importance of surprise and whimsy in both art, and food. One needn’t be rapt in the works of Warhol; the Pop movement didn’t lend itself to that the way The Ashcan School, or even Fauvism did. A large body of Andy Warhol’s work was product oriented, the way my menu was solely product driven. As a chef, and a person, I am interested in the irreverent and preternatural connection between art and nostalgia, the pallet and the mind. The egg is one of the most basic and widely know types of food, and sources of protein, on the planet. It is bold, elegant and perfect in design both inside and out. We all have our own associations of what it is (Easy? Boring? Comfort food?) And it’s those exact archetypes I’m looking to address and eradicate in my dishes. Each course is egg based and in addition to delighting the diner, I want to encourage them to try new things—or rather, to see old thing in a light that’s new. To be open to the kinds of food their parents never served them. It’s about enticing someone with the familiar and leaving them sated and content for having experienced something new.

I like plates that toy with texture and whatever existing ideas you may have about the dishes ingredients. I also like a beverage that enhances those very playful textures and completes the journey, the alchemy, that only a well made meal can incite. Take the Curried Egg Salad for example; I felt with all that is taking place with the flavors of the dish, why no finish things off with a nice 2003 NEETHLINGSHOF GEWüRZTRAMINER, from South Africa; a spicy wine with off dry flavors and zesty finish.

People have very different ideas about what eggs represent in their minds, our kitchens, and our collective culture as a whole. Often times Eggs aren’t even acknowledged after 9a.m. If I am able to incorporate my given product in to an entire menu while I educate, entertain, and gratify my diner, I’ve done my job as a chef.
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Ricotta & Chive Scrambled Eggs

Yield: Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

16 large eggs

3 oz chopped fresh chives

2 teaspoon fleur de sel or coarse kosher

salt to taste

4 oz butter

2 cup fresh ricotta cheese*

16 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick slices whole

grain bread or 8 whole grain baguette

slices, lightly toasted and buttered

 

Whole chives (optional)

1 cantaloupe melon

1 box fresh blueberries

1 box fresh strawberry

Preparation:

Whisk eggs, chopped chives, and 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel in medium bowl until well blended. Melt butter in heavy medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. When foam subsides, add eggs and stir with heatproof silicone spatula until eggs are almost cooked but still runny in parts, tilting skillet and stirring with spatula to allow uncooked portion to flow underneath, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add ricotta and stir just until incorporated but clumps of cheese are still visible. Arrange 2 toasts or 4 baguette slices on each of 2 plates. Spoon scrambled eggs atop toasts. Sprinkle with more fleur de sel and pepper. Garnish with whole chives, if desired.

Fruit/Melon Salad: Arrange sliced strawberry’s and blueberries with a wedge of Cantelope at the top of the plate.

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Curried Egg Salad w/Grilled Asparagus


Yield: Makes 8 servings

Note: Use any type of onion you like here, I've done this version of egg salad using yellow, white, and in this version I had a tiny red one on hand, so I grabbed for that.

10 good quality eggs
12 oz teaspoons curry powder (your favorite)
6 oz tablespoons plain yogurt
salt to taste
2 small onion, chopped
2 medium apple, chopped
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 small bunch of chives, minced
Asparagus
2 pounds fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces shaved parmigiano reggiano
1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Grapes:
1 bunch of concord

Preparation:
First off, you need to boil the eggs properly (the key to good egg salad!). Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by a 1/2-inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil. Now turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for exactly seven minutes. Have a big bowl of ice water ready and when the eggs are done cooking and place them in the ice bath for three minutes or so - long enough to stop the cooking.

While the eggs are boiling and cooling, combine the yogurt, curry powder and salt in a tiny bowl. Set aside.

Crack and peel each egg, and place in a medium mixing bowl. Add the curried yogurt, onions, apple, pecans, and chives. Now mash with a fork. Don't overdo it, you want the egg mixture to have some texture. If you need to add a bit more plain yogurt to moisten up the mixture a bit, go for it a bit at a time. taste and add more salt if needed. Enjoy as-is, or served wrapped in lettuce.

Preheat grill for high heat. Lightly coat the asparagus spears with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or to desired tenderness sprinkle parmigiano over top with sliced lemon

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Korean Style Steak and Eggs


Yield: Makes 8 servings

Steak:
1/2 cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)*
4 tablespoons finely grated cored peeled Granny Smith
apple
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion (white and
pale green parts)
2 tablespoon (scant) Korean hot pepper paste
2 tablespoon (scant) minced peeled fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
3 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
7-8 -ounce pieces skirt steak
Kimchi rice:
4 cups water
2 cup sushi rice (or other short-grain rice)
2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon canola oil
3 cups Napa cabbage kimchi, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
8 quail eggs
Chopped green onions

How to find it:
Korean hot pepper paste (gochu jang or kochujang) is made with pureed fermented soybeans (miso) and hot chiles. Kimchi is a spicy and pungent fermented vegetable mixture; this recipe calls for the version made with Napa cabbage. Both can be found at Korean markets and online at koamart.com.

Preparation:
Steaks
Whisk first 10 ingredients in bowl. Add steaks. Cover; chill overnight.

For Kimchi rice:
Bring 2 cups water to boil in small saucepan. Add rice and 1 teaspoon salt. Return to boil; reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until water is absorbed, about 18 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill steaks until slightly charred but still pink in center, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to plate. Let stand 5 minutes. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add kimchi and vinegar. Stir until heated. Fold in rice.

Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm. Heat 1-teaspoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Crack eggs into skillet, being careful not to break yolk. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until whites are set, about 3 minutes. Divide kimchi rice among 8 plates. Slice steaks thinly across grain; arrange over rice. Top each with egg; sprinkle with green onions and serve.
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Chocolate Eggnog & Fig

Yield: 8

Ingredients:

8 eggs

3 cups chocolate milk

2 cups milk

1 cup cream

1 cup Kahlua liqueur (or delicious, freshly

brewed strong coffee)

1 cup dark rum

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ground

3/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ground

pinch cinnamon, ground (as garnish)

pinch chocolate, grated (as garnish)

Preparation:

In a large saucepan over a medium heat, pour the milk and chocolate milk. Heat the milks, but DO NOT BOIL. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and brown sugar until they are well combined and of a reasonably thick consistency.

When the milk mixture is hot (but not boiling!), add approximately half of it to the bowl containing the beaten eggs and brown sugar. Whisk well. Pour all of the egg, sugar & milk mixture back into the large saucepan. Reduce heat to low.

Slowly and gently, add in the Kahlua liqueur/ coffee, and then the cream. Stir continuously until the mixture has thickened enough to be able to coat the back of a spoon. Remember not to ever allow the mixture to boil. Remove the eggnog from the low heat. Stir in the dark rum, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled (at least 3 hours).

To serve, ladle the eggnog into individual glasses, and garnish with a little grated chocolate or ground cinnamon.

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