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Shaya

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Everything posted by Shaya

  1. Have sourced all sorts of asian sauces sans MSG or artificial colors or flavors. For fish sauce, it's Squid Brand (mine is the third one down the page). The ingredients are anchovy extract, water and salt.
  2. Shaya

    Creating Tasting Menus

    Oh my goodness gfron1, this is an incredible endeavor. I am so impressed with the sheer magnitude of this dinner, let alone you are also cooking in the restaurant...bravo! I would love to taste the pate, the ravioli, those booze-infused oyster mushrooms, and that bean cracker, my goodness, whatever made you think of doing that one?
  3. Shaya

    Dinner! 2008

    Thanks, Kim and C. sapidus. Nice to see you again too. Daniel, if only I was just a cab ride away from those heavenly pork buns...necessity is the mother of doing it yourself! Tonight we had some really nice burgers courtesy of beef from the Farmer's Market. Homemade Buns from Peter Reinhart's Breadbaker's Apprentice Burgers with Shitakes and Cheddar, Super Crispy Yukon Gold Fries Actually my sweetie had his burger stuffed and topped with stilton The other night I had a nice cut of beef that needed to be cooked...I was craving a good dark beer, so I settled on French style of stew with dumplings, and cooked the whole in a lovely Festbock. It was amazing. The dumplings were incredibly light and fluffy. This came from my Mom's old copy of Great Dinners From Life. I'm sure some of you remember this series from a few decades ago. Carbonades a la Flamande Glazed Carrots I added a dash of maple syrup, delicious.
  4. Shaya

    All About Osso Buco

    I have made Osso Buco many times, but I only endeaver to do so when I find a very high-quality veal. The difference in the meat is in the way it is raised. Some are fed mother's milk only, and are very young when they are brought to market. This leads to a very pale meat, which will also be very tender because the animals receive very little or no exercise. Keeping the calves indoors also contributes to their light color. Other calves are fed grain, or are allowed to roam, or to be outdoors, all of which will make the meat darker. This is not to say you always want the veal to be pale, but in general this is what I look for. The exception is the purveyer at my Farmer's Market whose veal is on the darker side, even though it is milk fed, and they tell me that this is because their veal is brought to martet at a little older age. This is a photo of the finest meat I've found, which I made in Montreal at my Mom's place, with milk-fed veal from the Charlevoix region. The final product is still dark, even though the meat was initially very pale, so I'm not sure you can tell the original tone just by looking at the cooked product. Texture will also play a role.
  5. Welcome back, Chufi. This is a great report so far. I know what you mean about being a bit afraid of the desert. I never had that feeling until I had that "call" to go to the desert on Colombia, and had no idea what I was in for. We got onto a bus leading to the Guajira, and when the bus broke down, it left us in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but vultures soaring overhead. On the other hand, there is a peace and beauty to be found amongst the cacti and sand dunes. Sedona is really beautiful, I was there 6 years ago. Did you find the Grand Canyon was overrun with tourism and tourists? If so, did that detract from the awe of the place?
  6. Shaya

    Dinner! 2008

    It's been awhile... Loving all the fresh fish on this page, Daniel. Prawncrackers you've been cooking some lovely food lately. C Sapidus, great to see you are still cooking gorgeous stuff. David Ross your food always looks so great. Here are David Chang's Pork Buns that I made this weekend for a friend's birthday. They were every bit as good as expcted. The dough is amazing. Lovingly raised pork from the farmer's market.
  7. Shaya

    Perfecting Gnocchi

    Freezing gnocchi is no problem. Just make sure you use a heavy-duty ziplock baggie so they don't pick up any flavors or freezer burn. I have pulled them from the freezer after three months with no change in texture. Tips for when it's time to cook them: 1. Use a huge pot of well-salted water and make sure it is at a furious boil...the temperature of the water will drop dramatically when you add the frozen gnocchi. 2. Give them a quick but gentle stir once they hit the water, and get that water boiling again as fast as possible, even if it means holding a lid over the top until the boil returns. This will keep them from sticking to the bottom and to each other. 3. Then turn the heat down slightly so that the boil is not so vigorous so that as they soften they do not break. Let them boil one to two minutes after they float, so that the inside can cook properly, but taste one to be sure. Remove with a spider or strainer and add directly to your sauce. Have fun.
  8. Yes doctortim, these agnolotti shapes can be rather elusive. I remember trying and trying a few years ago, with little success, but then one day it just clicked. The key is not to overthink it, just do as he says. Fold the pasta sheet over the filling, press to seal, cut off excess, then cut through each " mound" to separate. One adjustment I made is to pipe little portions of filling rather than one long tube; I find it easier to keep a clean cut that way. ← I think that's what it is, piping out a long tube does not work for me at all. To press to seal between the mounds of filling as well? ← Exactly. I press and seal between each mound, then with the sealed edge facing away from me, I run my pastry wheel between each mound.
  9. Thanks for the kind comments all. I loved doing it and look forward to doing it again, and I've been asked that next time we have more meat! Yes doctortim, these agnolotti shapes can be rather elusive. I remember trying and trying a few years ago, with little success, but then one day it just clicked. The key is not to overthink it, just do as he says. Fold the pasta sheet over the filling, press to seal, cut off excess, then cut through each " mound" to separate. One adjustment I made is to pipe little portions of filling rather than one long tube; I find it easier to keep a clean cut that way.
  10. Thanks Peter. I get quail eggs at the little Asian grocer on Queen Street, Ca Hoa.
  11. Of course we started by serving a silver tray filled with spoons with the "bacon and eggs" - quail eggs with brunoise in butter; I guess in all the excitement I forgot to take a photo; everyone had two of these. Served these with a Norman Hardie pinot gris from Ontario, not pictured. Fava Bean Agnolotti - this was incredibly creamy and tasty, perfect textures coming together; I heard one of the guests exclaim that she could go home now! This was served with the unoaked Norman Hardie Chardonnay. "Macaroni and Cheese" - phenomonal; everyone agreed they had never had lobster that tasted so sweet and succulent; they loved the orzo and the coral oil and the parm crisp too. We had this with the lightly oaked Norman Hardie Chardonnay. Whipped Brie en Feuillete - the port drizzle was so beloved I ended up bringing the squeeze bottle to the table so everyone could have a little more. We served the Loire Muscadet with the brie. Lemon Sabayon Tart with Pine Nut Crust - they ate every last crumb and drank every drop of the German Riesling Kabinett. This was probably the best wine pairing of the meal. "Mignardises" - Cognac Filled Chocolate which we served with coffee
  12. Here is the lineup of wines, all of which were selected by my sweetie: We started with the Silverado Merlot, which we had brought back from Napa. Knowing it was going to be an all-white wine meal, we wanted to offer our red-loving guests something to warm their hearts when they arrived. It was very well received. Then onto a pink champagne that was recommended by the sommelier at our local specialty wine shop. Although it was beautiful to look at, my husband and I agreed it was not very interesting as far as champagnes go, particularly for the price - over $60 for the bottle. However, it was romantic, and went really well with the gougeres. Pink Champagne Ah yes, the gougeres. You may recall I made the batter on Thursday. I re-beat it in the mixer on Saturday, then piped and baked them. They rose nicely, but as soon as I opened the oven to give the pans a turn, they fell flat, and never did recover. Oh well. Was it a mistake to open the oven? Or is it possible that the weight of the gruyere on their tops was too great and caused them to fall? In any case, they were gobbled and people just thought they were a type of "scone" . Gougeres After this course the guests were seated at the table for the rest of the meal.
  13. Saturday, the day of the party, I went to the farmer's market in search of some mache to serve alongside the whipped brie. Alas, mache season is long gone. I bought some pea shoots and some mesclun that was freshly picked and somewhat baby, once I picked through it. It would have to do. Sure enough when I tasted the pea shoots I realized they were over-mature, far too tough to serve, so I decided to go with the mesclun mix alone. I did spend a bit of time on this detail as I knew many of my guests would be awaiting a "salad" course after the line of rich, cheesy, creamy textures in the preceding courses. I also picked up these gorgeous peonies from the market. I was very happy to find them. Not only are they gorgeous flowers, and my favorite color, but my Mom always had peonies in the house for my birthday since June is the perfect month for them. Later one of the guests would bring me this gorgeous collection of locally picked flowers. I then typed up a menu and made a copy to put at each place setting. I then made the Parmesan Crisps. They turned out perfectly, not bitter, nice and lacy and crispy. I followed Keller's instructions to the letter. The last time I made them, just by ad-libbing, they were far too thick and overcooked. It never ceased to amaze me, throughout this process, just how precise the directions are in this book. Parmesan Crisps for "Macaroni and Cheese" With most of the cooking prep work out of the way, it was time for the all-important: send the kids over to grandma's for the night, and get the table set. Stemware and glassware had to be gathered, counted and polished - this is always my husband's domain. As soon as my helper arrived, I had her help me with the beurre monte. She was enthralled with the process. I then checked on the curry emulsion that I had made two days earlier; it was perfect. I left it to my helper to tend to these two sauces for the night, and she really kept a close eye on them. I also walked her through the various pots and tupperwares - all of which I had labeled, and I had also mapped out the usage for each of my burners so she would know what to put where while we were eating. It was my goal to spend as much time with the guests as possible. And overall I was quite successful. On with the meal!
  14. I am happy to be back on cyberspace and have just uploaded the software I need so I can show some photos from the dinner. Thank you for your patience. In all I spent about 7-8 hours in the kitchen that first day of prep, including two in the evening with my husband prepping the lobster. So far that makes 10 hours. The following day (Friday) I was with the kids and got absolutely nothing done until after they were in bed, in all about 1 1/2 hours in the kitchen. First I reduced some port down from two cups to 1/4 cup; this would become the drizzle on the plate with the whipped brie. I also poached the quail eggs. It was an interesting exercise, trying to cut open the tops of those little guys, to make an opening large enough for the egg to slip out undamaged, but not so large as to lose some of the precious liquid egg. They were easy to poach, and after they rested in an ice bath I trimmed off the edges so they were nice and smooth. Raw Quail Eggs Poached Untrimmed Quail Eggs
  15. I am so sorry to leave you egulleters hanging. Unbelievably our computer's hard drive went up in smoke on Monday morning. It is at the repair shop now and hopefully they will be able to retrieve my files and I will be up and running with a full report this weekend. Just to let you know briefly...the dinner was incredible, a big success and a lot of fun. I have lots of photos and descriptions, to be continued...
  16. "Macarone and Cheese" Prep The master at work: Blanching the Lobsters - total of two minutes in a pot of water that has been boiled Claws then go in for five more minutes Glorious Lobster Meat - Bodies and Claws My husband bought two females and two males. One of the females had a glorious roe...although it took us awhile to figure it out. The are two slimy green parts to a lobster; one is the tomaley, the other, a darker green, is the roe. We had a perfect example hanging out of the tail of one of the females, but didn't realize it at first. I knew from a Julia Child episode from childhood that when the roe is "cooked" it turns from a nasty-green to a beautiful red. So I threw some of the green substance onto the frying pan and voila, it turned perfectly red. The roe goes into a blender on low speed with some hot canola oil for 20 minutes (!) with the goal of producing a Coral Oil. Ideally the friction from the blender helps the green color convert to red. Since I don't have a blender I used the cuisinart and the hand immersion blender, but after 10 minutes I started to worry about the color, which just kept going darker and darker green. Raw Roe So I put the oil and roe onto the pan for a few moments of heat, got my nice red color, and continued to process so that the color and flavor infused into the oil. The result: gorgeous red oil. I did not follow the French Laundry tradition of straining the oil 20 times, but I did strain it 6 or 7 times to get it as clear as possible. Coral Oil And what about those knuckles, you might ask? Well by 11pm it was time for the cooks to have dinner, so we tested the beurre montee method and heated them up; had them alongside some tuna sashimi my husband had picked up at the seafood counter. Dinner for the Cooks Next I will take a moment to discuss the creamy lobster broth that is made from the bodies and legs.
  17. Yesterday was extremely productive. I spent a few hours doing some preparation during the day, and last night my husband and I worked on the lobsters, coral oil and lobster broth. I also contacted our old babysitter (who is actually young, in her twenties...) and she is free to help me with service and dishewashing for the night of the party. She has been working as a waitress for the past 2 years, so I think she will work out really well. I am very happy about this development. Here are some photos of the progress so far. I started off working on the Lemon Sabayon Tart. The recipe was very straight forward and the lemon cream tasted amazing when it was done. I was grateful that I didn't have to whisk in quite as much butter as I had when I made Pierre Herme's Tarte au Citron! I also made the honeyed mascarpone cream but will monitor its freshness tomorrow, just in case... Whisking butter into Sabayon Assembled Tart Browned Tart Next onto Brunoise for the bacon and eggs. Since I have no mandoline I did it all by hand, which was fairly easy, only time consuming. Here is the Brie being prepped to be whipped in the mixer: I also made the curry emulsion for the agnolotti, which is really smooth and silky, lovely. My only question is that I don't think there is enough of it to coat all the agnolotti. I made 72 and made 1.5 times the recipe for the sauce. I was going to divide the 72 between the guests and the waitress (8 each) but now I am thinking either I need to make another batch or serve fewer pieces per guest. Has anyone else run into this problem? I made the batter for the gougere, it's still in the fridge, which I don't think is doing it any good. I baked off two last night and one puffed up nicely but one did not. I put them into an airtight container overnight, and this morning they were completely soggy. We have a lot of humidity where I live, so I think pre-baking and reheated is not a good idea. Today I may bring the batter up to room temperature, put it back into the mixer, pipe it and freeze as alanamoana originally suggested. I only hope they will puff up if baked from the freezer. More to come on the lobster prep - what a gorgeous preparation Thomas Keller outlines. Even my husband, who has been dealing with dissecting lobster for much of his adult life, was impressed with the details of this process.
  18. Thanks ErikaK. I thought of baking the gougeres ahead and reheating. I am wavering now on which make-ahead method would work better. I have the batter all made and waiting in the fridge until I feel comfortable one way or the other. Good advice for the cheese. Did you have any trouble forming the quenelles? It seems to me it would be easier done if the cheese was chilled?
  19. Oops. I just finished making the mascarpone cream and packed it away in the fridge. Thanks for the heads up, I'll makes sure to give it the taste test Sat morning just in case. Have you tried to make the gougeres batter ahead of time and freeze it?
  20. So the house is empty for a few hours, and I'm ready to go. I have a long list, I'll see how much of it I can get through and will report back later. I had a moment of wondering whether the pinenuts should be toasted for the pine-nut crust, but I've rationalized that there is no need as they will get "toasted" so to speak when the crust gets baked.
  21. Thanks for all the advice. So you are sure that the gougeres will bake just fine from the freezer? I'm good on the orzo front, it's the only component of the whole menu that I'm totally comfortable with, as you have guessed. The parm crisps do make me nervous. I've experienced them bitter as well, and really did not enjoy them. I've almost thought of substituting the pommes maxims, but I'll make the crisps tomorrow and see how they hold up the following 2 days. As for my sous chefs, they will be around to help mom with the prep, but they will be disappointed to learn they will not be at the table for the main event.
  22. Those are gorgeous photos, Swede. thanks for the vote of confidence. I have to recognize that the guests can wait for their next course. My husband will be good about keeping them entertained and keeping their wine glasses full. I hope I can at least get to sit down and eat each course with the guests...
  23. Thanks Chufi. I really would like to have a helper. I don't think I'm going to find anyone who will be able to watch the food while I eat, or even who will be able to plate with me, but just to have someone looking after dirty dishes would be a big help. I saw the blog you are referring to, it is remarkable. I think I had it in the back of my mind when I came up with this menu.
  24. Thanks Daniel. That's good advice from someone who's become a pro at cooking for entertaining purposes; I need a fair amount of beurre montee for this menu and it's something I haven't play with much before. I'm aiming to have good photos to show you all, of course!
  25. I wanted to do something special to mark my birthday this year. The actual day was two weeks ago but this weekend I have three couples coming over to extend the celebrations with me. I was originally going to serve a multi-course Italian menu, which is right up my alley and has become second nature over the past two or three years. Then for father's day we made an amazing meal featuring lobster - it was cut up still live, pan-roasted and flambeed with cognac. This got me thinking about changing my menu for the dinner. Here is the lobster dinner from the other night: Lobster is very popular in my neck of the woods, but it is most often served boiled, which leaves the meat tasty but tough. There is something about cooking lobster very gently that brings out the best in its texture. My husband and I first experienced this at the French Laundry, where we had it poached in butter. Even though we had both been eating lobster for all our lives, we realized we had never truly enjoyed it as much as we did that day. I would love to share this with a few close friends. So I turned to my as-yet-unused copy of the French Laundry Cookbook and came up with a menu that I would like to serve for my birthday dinner. It is a bit ambitious, to be sure, but my husband will deal with dissecting the lobsters, which in itself is very time-consuming. One of the guests is a friend who has cooked with me many times before. We produced a 15-dish tapas party in February, over the course of 2 days of cooking. She is ready to help me prep on the last day, and also to help plate. I have also thought of getting someone to come and do the dishes as we go along because I usually find myself rinsing dishes while tending to the following course. Any advice on this? My kids are home from school this week so I don't have oodles of free time but I do have a few hours alone on Thursday and I have the next three evenings. So here is my menu, and I would love any comments from people who have been through the process before. My biggest questions relate to what can I prep in advance to minimize work on the actual day/night. Thanks for all your input! Canapes: Gruyere Cheese Gougeres p. 48 - can I prepare the batter on Thursday and pipe and bake Saturday evening? Bacon and Eggs p. 18 - eggs and brunoise can be poached well in advance - beurre monte - how far in advance of service can I prep this (hours, minutes...)? First Course Fava Bean Agnolotti with Curry Emulsion p.80 - I made the agnolotti last night, they are cooling their heels in the freezer; I think I have to boil these last minute, but I can do that while people are milling about with canapes and cocktails - how far in advance can I prepare the curry emulsion? Can I make it Thursday and reheat Saturday night or will it break and not heat up nicely? Fish "Macaroni and Cheese" Butter Poached Lobster with Creamy Lobster Broth p.132 - lobster, lobster broth, coral oil will be prepped Thursday night - Parmesan crisps can supposedly be held in a container for two days - has anyone had any success in doing this? The one time I made them they lost their luster after they cooled down - beurre monte - same question as before, how far in advance can this be made? - I plan to cook the orzo earlier in the day and hold it in the lobster broth until service (but probably in the fridge as the broth contains cream) Cheese Whipped Brie de Meaux en Feuillete p.238 - brie will be whipped and refrigerated on Thursday - port reduction also on Thursday - when would the baguette toasts best be made...is Friday night ok? - can I plate in advance and hold in the fridge? Dessert Lemon Sabayon Pinenut Tart with Honeyed Mascarpone p.294 - tart crust and filling will be made and baked Thursday, into the fridge until service - can I make the mascarpone cream Thursday and hold it in the fridge?
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