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Toby

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Posts posted by Toby

  1. If you flip through the Coleman Andrews or Fred Plotkin books on Riviera cuisine, it's remarkable how similar the cuisines are, dishes often just seperated by a name. There is even an Italian equivelent for Bouillabaise, the name of which is escaping me for the moment.

    Do you mean buridda, which Plotkin compares to bourride? He also has a Ligurian recipe for a fish soup called ciuppin, a much simpler version of San Francisco cioppino.

  2. Steve, how do you make your socca?  I usually use Joanna Weir's recipe and it comes out good -- other recipes have been a disaster.  I like it very hot out of the oven with fresh ricotta cheese; sometimes with a little stew of cooked chickpeas, swiss chard and a little tomato sauce.

    It is interesting to see Socca with chickpea stew as the Bengali way is to serve the gram flour pancake with Gugni ( chickpeas cooked with chilli and a little tamarind )

    S

    Yes, I like using the same ingredient in different forms in a meal.

    And then there's panisse (or panelle), which is made something like polenta and then left to set, cut into shapes and fried.

  3. Steve, how do you make your socca? I usually use Joanna Weir's recipe and it comes out good -- other recipes have been a disaster. I like it very hot out of the oven with fresh ricotta cheese; sometimes with a little stew of cooked chickpeas, swiss chard and a little tomato sauce.

  4. Buttermilk Chocolate Fudge Cake

    Initially posted by Toby. Re-posted by Sandra Levine, with the quote, "Here's a recipe that I made a couple of weeks ago. It's a recipe that Toby posted. Even though I overbaked it, it was still delicious."

    • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
    • 8 oz unsalted butter, softened
    • 1-3/4 c packed dark brown sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1-1/2 c all purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/8 tsp salt
    • 1 c buttermilk, at room temperature

    Beat butter till light and fluffy. Beat in brown sugar at high speed, till well blended and light, about 8 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time and then the chocolate and vanilla.

    Sift together the dry ingredients and then beat 1/3 of them into the chocolate mixture. Add 1/3 of the buttermilk. Repeat 2 more times. Scrape batter into buttered and floured 10" springform pan.

    Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 1 hr. and 10 minutes.

    Really good with ganache and whipped cream.

    Keywords: Dessert, Chocolate, Easy, American

    ( RG160 )

  5. But, every now and then, we get both food and good writing together: cause for celebration.

    From a book review, by me, that will appear in Saveur next month:

    Food writing, like any writing, is best when expertise and talent collide.

    "Better red than expert." -- Mao Tse Tung.

    Now, Mao meant good politics trumped expertise, but of course, good politics would have sprung from having a good heart -- empathy, curiousity, fairness, and openness (= doing the right thing). So, in terms of food writing (and cooking) without that element of soulfulness, you may be left with technical perfection and lots of information, but not much connection to our true hungers.

  6. I got the pork belly in a Chinese butcher shop. It's pretty easy to cut out the few bones that might be on the bottom. Sometimes the butcher will remove the rind for you; otherwise, it's not that hard to do.

    Leaving the pork belly in 2-inch pieces because of my blister and then pounding and shredding them when they were cooked worked pretty well. I think the rillettes are more delicate tasting when cut into smaller shreds before cooking, but it was really much easier just cutting into large cubes.

  7. Ever since I read & saw pictures of the recent NY Bread Event thread, I've been dreaming of Toby's Pork Belly Rillettes. 

    How does one make rillettes? 

    Toby and others, would you be willing to share your recipe and technique?  I would love to try this.

    Thanks.

    When I went to buy the pork belly, the Chinese butcher also had some nice looking duck legs, so I decided to make both pork rillettes and duck rillettes. I had a lot of leaf lard in the freezer and set to work mincing up the lard for the duck rillettes on the night before the bread event. Two pounds into the lard, I worked up a nasty blister on the base of the inside of my index finger. Since my pork rillettes recipe involves cutting up 3 or 4 lbs. of pork belly into matchstick-sized pieces, and it really hurt to use a knife, I decided to make rillauds (or rillots, rillons), cubes of pork belly cooked much the same as you cook rillettes. When they were done, they looked unattractive (and also would have needed to be heated up at the party, something I didn't want to have to do), so I decided to turn them into rillettes anyway. I pounded them up and then tore them apart with forks, just the way I would have done with the matchstick-sized pieces, and then mixed some of the fat they'd cooked in into them. Since we were eating them the next day, I didn't pack them into jars and pour a lot more of the lard they'd cooked in over them -- that was done originally to preserve them for lengthy periods of time. The consistency was a little too dry, but at that point I was so larded and buttered out -- pounds of lard and butter in the breads I baked, that I just couldn't look at any more lard again.

    Here's the rillette recipe that I usually make, adapted from Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking:

    3 lbs. pork belly, rind and bones removed -- rubbed all over with kosher or sea salt and left overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, rinse the pork, dry it and cut it into thick matchstick-sized pieces and put into an earthenware pot with 1-1/2 leaf lard, cut into small pieces, several cloves of peeled, crushed garlic, some thyme and parsley sprigs, black pepper and a big soup ladle of water. Cover the pot and cook in a 275 degree oven for 4 or 5 hours, until the meat is very soft and completely covered with its fat. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper -- David says rillettes are "insipid if not properly seasoned."

    Pour the contents of the pan through a sieve into a big bowl, letting the fat drip through. Remove the garlic and herbs if you can. When well drained, first pound the meat and then with two forks pull the meat apart until it's in fine shreds -- you don't want a paste. Pour some of the fat back into the meat, taste again for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper to your taste and pile into glazed earthenware jars. Pour more fat over the rillettes if you want to keep them for any length of time, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

    --

  8. With the pizzle came little square pastries (looked like hamentuschen to me, but that may not be the Egyptian term), the pastry made with fat from the offal, a spicy stuffing in the center.

    The little square pastries were wonderful; I think Ali said the fat was used in both the pastry and the stuffing -- was it the fat from the udder?

  9. Information on the third wine (which was donated by Charles Smith after the wonderful DiFara meal) -- it was a Rivera's Rupicolo 2001, from Puglia (but not all the way down south), aged in stainless steel containers, not oak barrels. Unfortunately, I was so almost comatose by that point in the meal, that I can't comment intelligently about it, other than that it tasted good. Maybe Wilfrid can add something.

  10. To return to Ali's cooking, this was my second meal there, both composed of innards and extremities. He manages to make hearty, rustic cooking somehow delicate, retaining the textural integrity of the main ingredient while pairing it with really lovely and complementary textures and flavors. His cooking is not oddities for oddities sake but real artistry in which the best of each ingredient is brought forward.

    My favorites last night were the veal cheeks served (and eaten) in layers of the perfectly stewed, falling apart meat, small tender red beans and white rice with the crunchy vinaigrette that contained the veal lips and other things; the brains; and the cup of calves' foot, rice and bread (I can't remember the Arabic name for this -- if anyone does??), totally comforting on a raw, freezing night. The veal tongue was also delicious, as were the brains; and the yogurt cheese was incredible. Sweetbreads also were excellent with great hot pepper sauce.

    My only wish is that he would somehow structure the menu so that the featured course of the evening, in this case the cow udder, were not served last, when you've just about eaten yourself into a coma.

    And Wilfrid, that wasn't Elvis.

    Thanks again to egullet's outer boroughs ethnics specialist for organizing this wonderful meal.

  11. However, there is no doubt that such overcooking destroys many of the flavors and tastes that are in the meat.  The end result is a less than optimum taste.  That is "wrong" if your goal is to get the best taste from what you are eating.  Just to make sure, we're not talking morally wrong here.  We're talking "mistaken, erronious, incorrect."

    Isn't it wrong from a gustatory point of view if someone dumps 100g of salt on top of a dish, obliterating any taste that the food might have?

    Isn't there a more or less codified body of instructions in French cuisine (and other cuisines, as well) on how to cook things so that they will taste "right"? -- that is, to get the best taste out of the ingredients. I understand that this can be relative in relation to cultural norms, but within each cultural group, aren't there some at least rough guidelines on how best to cook something that has been worked out through trial and error over time?

    edit: If this is so, then can't we look at the people who've worked out these guidelines for some guidance as to what is right or wrong in achieving the best results for a particular ingredient?

  12. Another good meal at Dim Sum GoGo, rather similar to my last meal there, but with some additions. We started with duck soup with inoki and Chinese mushrooms served with a small, slightly sweet, roll. The soup was very tasty and had lots of slivered roast (I think) duck and mushrooms in it. Along with the soup, we had the wonderful succulent duck dumplings, nicely flavored shrimp balls, and bean curd skin with pork and vegetables (these were slightly too sweet this time). We then tried one of the appetizers, cold thin slices of pork with sesame jelly fish salad, which was better, but slightly mysterious -- surrounding the jelly fish salad, there were rolled up thin slices that tasted like daikon radish and possibly, from the color, some kind of ham.

    For main courses, we had the shrimp with fresh soy beans and smoked Chinese bacon, the conch and cuttlefish casserole with rice noodles and the roast chicken with fried garlic stems. This was the first time I'd tried the chicken and it was quite good -- covered in what looked like fried bread crumbs, but were really the garlic stems. The chicken was very slightly dry, but very tasty.

    I really like DSGG -- each dish has its own taste; there are no gloppy brown sauces on anything I've ever tried on the menu.

  13. Somehow, I don't think you'd have wanted to be friends with this person. He also liked frozen creamed spinach in a pouch.

    And he wouldn't eat in any restaurant that he hadn't eaten in previously.

  14. Well, it was my friend who liked the tough beef. And the problem for me was how to cook for him, because I liked to cook for him (on an abstract level, anyway), but found it a great big waste of good meat and no fun at all. This person's palate, in general, was very dulled.

  15. Toby, I knew that we were in agreement  :smile:   We are also both right   :biggrin:  Appreciation of food is a matter of individual taste above all else.

    Yes, but that brings us back to the question of palates -- we've had several threads about how sense of taste actually works; the most informative for the discussion of consensus of taste was the one g.johnson started about the three kinds of tasters. According to that theory, beyond educating or habituating a palate (for instance, getting accustomed to saltier or spicier foods) there was the element of an actual physiological response to various tastes that differed among the three types of tasters, where the super tasters were going to recognize tastes (sometimes unpleasant) that the rest of us just don't taste. As I remember, most people were in the mid-range of tasters, and so I suppose that among the mid-range there is some kind of consensus.

    As for individual taste, I had a friend who only liked beef extremely well done, dried out, tough, leathery, what a big waste, right? He was wrong.

  16. If you just talk about the difference between eating the peach in it's unmanipulated natural state and doing something to that peach (no matter how simple or complex), than the doing something has immediately added complexity. Whether what you did to the peach is an improvement or not depends on your skill, imagination, quality of other ingredients, palate, place.

    The first half is quite right, Toby. So we are all agreed on what "complexity" really means.

    The second half might be right, but you have missed one important option from your list. "Whether what you did to the peach is an improvement or not" also depends on whether or not the person who is going to eat the more complex peach thinks it's an improvement.

    The only way I, as a cook, can judge whether what I've cooked tastes good or not is if it tastes good to my palate. Much as I like to cook for other people, and enjoy any pleasure they derive from my cooking, I really don't want to (and don't have to, and don't even know if I could) cook in a way that will please someone else's palate but not mine. I suppose I could do it, but then I wouldn't like it. I find this can be a big problem with something as simple as salt and how mine or others' palates are calibrated to saltiness.

    So to get back to the original question of this thread, sometimes I don't like a restaurant's cooking because, while I may recognize that the ingredients, techniques are excellent, I just don't like the same tastes as the chef.

  17. But you've moved the argument away from comparing the perfect uncooked peach to a peach dessert. If you just talk about the difference between eating the peach in it's unmanipulated natural state and doing something to that peach (no matter how simple or complex), than the doing something has immediately added complexity. (In comparison to a raw peach, a peach pie is very complex.) Whether what you did to the peach is an improvement or not depends on your skill, imagination, quality of other ingredients, palate, place. We're all inspired to cook by the desire to taste what that added complexity does to the original ingredient. To get back to the original question in this thread, if the cooking and/or combining (complexity) is delicious, than I'm happy; if done poorly, then I'm not.

  18. That's a great quote from a great writer, Toby. The pie in question also fits into the simple/good box, as does so much of Fisher's subject.

    Actually, I just love that story and all the talking about peaches reminded me of it.

    But, peach pie is less simple than a plain peach. You have the contrast of the juiciness and smoothness of the peach with the buttery, flaky/crumbliness of the pastry crust, and then the contrast (same but different) of the cold cream, with its different quality of richness/fattiness than the butter (or lard) of the crust. And the cream mixes in with the juices from the peaches and the changes the texture of parts of the crust.

  19. All this talking about peaches, in the middle of this cold winter, has reminded me of one of my favorite passages from MFK Fisher (in The Gastronomical Me), where she writes about one of the best meals she ever had, when she was a child.

    "I forgot what we ate, except for the end of the meal. It was a big round peach pie, still warm from Old Mary's oven and the ride over the desert. It was deep, with lots of juice, and bursting with ripe peaches picked that noon. Royal Albertas, Father said they were. The crust was the most perfect I have ever tasted, except perhaps once upstairs at Simpson's in London, on a hot plum tart. And there was a quart Mason jar, the old-fashioned bluish kind like Mexican glass, full of cream. It was still cold. ... Father cut the pie in three pieces and put them on white soup plates in front of us, and then spooned out the thick cream. ... And we ate the whole pie, and all the cream ... and then drove on sleepily toward Los Angeles, and none of us said anything about it for many years, but it was one of the best meals we ever ate."

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