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Vicious Wadd

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  1. After eyeing the locked case of black truffles at my local Wegman's for 2 years ($999 per lb. was damned intimidating). I finally took the plunge and bought a couple small ones last weekend. All told, they set me back $20. Not bad, considering a couple of servings of meat and fish can easily cost a much or more. I experimented with them in a couple ways I will share in a moment; but first, I have some truffle 101 questions I thought you could help me with: 1. Is Wegmans a good place to buy these things? 2. How do you determine how "fresh" a truffle is? 3. How long will they keep? 4. What should a good/fresh truffle taste like? 5. What does an old/ stale truffle taste like? 6. Is $999 per lb. the going rate? 7. Do I need to clean them before I use them? If so, how? 8. How many shavings should you put in per serving? And now my experiments: Experiment #1: After getting the truffles home, I put them in a small tupperware with 5 eggs. After sitting overnight, I scrambled the eggs the next morning for breakfast in a double boiler. Results: Yum. Though subtle, you could detect the truffle flavor on the "finish" (to borrow a wine term) of the eggs, along the back and sides of the tongue. Experiment #2: Took said tupperware (now free of eggs) and put one stick of butter in with the truffles (wrapping removed, of course). Let sit overnight. Results: Truffle aroma had, in fact, permeated butter. All set for experiment #3... Experiment #3(a): Mushroom risotto. I used the truffle-infused butter, as well as some white truffle oil, in the final dish. After plating, I used a truffle shaver to shave slices of fresh truffle on top. Results: Not what I expected. Until the truffles were exposed to the moisture and heat of the risotto, they tasted a bit bland and wood-chippy. So contrary to the instructions in the risotto recipe, the truffles would have been better added to the dish before plating, allowed to steam a bit, and then served. Experiment #3(b): Ate some of the fresh truffle shavings while I was dressing the risotto. Results: "Hmmmm.... (chew, chew) 1,000 bucks a pound for a pair of used gym socks? I could have dug those out of the laundry for free! And are these supposed to be THIS dry? (picking up another slice) Okay, am I tasting "earthy," or is it more like... musty? Note to self: seek help on egullet ASAP." Thanks in advance for your replies and assistance! - VD
  2. I've certainly tried my fair share of recipes for the first time on guests. Mostly family though, where the consequences are not so horrible if they fall flat. That said, if there is one rule I try to adhere to, it's not to experiment too far outside my comfort zone. For example, if I tried a recipe for braised short ribs I've never had before -- but the ingredients looked good/made sense to me -- I would go for it becasue I've made so things like it, I would know where not to screw up and/or could make adjustments around it. Conversely, I would never try serving something to guests I have absolutely no experience with: Like sea urchin. Or spit roasting a whole pig. I'd have to have some degree of hands-on before I'd be willing to take the plunge with guests.
  3. Vicious Wadd


    Do your recipes have to be original? If not, there's a great braised rabbit dish in the first Inn at Little Washington cookbook. The key to keeping the rabbit moist was to remove the loins and cook them seperately: Basically, the thighs and saddle were braised in apple cider. The loins were given a quick sear, then finished in a hot oven until just done. You could do a another braise using a similar method with the loins in what I like to call puttanesca ingredients: pitted black olives, tomatoes, onions and capers. (I'd leave out the olives and capers until about 15-20 minutes prior to completion.) Garnish with a little flat leaf parley. Good luck and let us know how things turn out!
  4. I'll echo what chrisamirault said -- great on mashed taters and risotto (a classic). I've also found it's great drizzled over grilled beef, lamb or game right before serving. Not bad drizzled over poached eggs either (eggs have a affinity for truffles). Lastly, it's a winner drizzled into most mushroom-based dishes as the earthiness of both ingredients play off one another beautifully: For a nice and easy appetizer, try a crostini made with sauteed wild mushrooms, fontina and a drizzle of the truffle oil. Mmm Mmm Mmm Toasty!
  5. Hey, next time I'm in Charlotte, I'll be sure to do that! I'm not with Staunton Grocery, but the mention of the name piqued my interest. I just googled them and their menu looks pretty good! Based on experiences with my game consomme, and a duck consomme I had at Inn at Little Washington last year, it would seem any type of game could work well as consomme. At Inn at LW, they served the duck consomme between courses in a demitasse / espresso-sized mug and it was one of the most memorable parts of the meal. It was one of those really cold March evenings we get in Virginia, and when you tasted the hot consomme, it just fired on all cylinders. I told my wife it would be the perfect comfort food after shoveling snow or skiing. Looking at your menu, a game/duck consomme could work as an au jus with the grilled leg of lamb or Long Island duck. You could also do some sort of creative twist on the whole coffee cup thing I mentioned earlier: "Coffee and Donuts," which would consist of a small mug of game/duck consomme with a gougere (or 2) on the side. Maybe even pipe something in the gougere. That would make an interesting appetizer. Heck, I may do that myself! Best, - VW
  6. ChefBV: So will you be offering some new consommes at Nobles?
  7. Yet another confirmation of the Morimoto method! Next time, I will be sure to try this. wallchef: Did you add the whipped egg whites to the broth while it was cold, or did you warm it first?
  8. The conversation makes me wonder if anyone uses egg whites to clarify stocks used for glaces or concentrated jus. My stocks tend to get a bit clouded during the straining process All the stuff that accumulates at the bottom of the stockpot roars through the coarse chinois, and in a heartbeat clouds up the stock. I suppose if ladeled the liquid stock off of the sediment the problem would be avoided, but there's so much of it down there, and it harbors so much stock, that I hate to throw it out. So I've wondered about clarifying with egg whites/other protein after defating. I've never made a consomme, so I don't know how much flavor is lost and if it would be worth it. ← Personally, I wouldn't consomme-ify (how's that for butchering French?) a bone stock. Considering I usually reduce part of a batch of stock into demi glace -- and sometimes glace de viande, my main concern is defatting. Therefore, a little cloudiness is okay, since I'm using the end product for sauces, soups, gravies, etc.
  9. Tony: Thanks for the info on this, it was very helpful. I do have one question though: I was under the impression the base was typically a meat broth, not a bone-based stock, per se. I would fear a stock with a high gelatin content be a bit too viscous/unctuous as a consomme -- sort of like hyper-clarified demi glace.
  10. Egg yolks freeze quite well, and I use the yolks leftover from stock clarification and other egg white uses (cocktails, etc.) in fresh pasta. ← Good to know. Thanks for the tip!
  11. Why he used whipped egg whites is anyone's guess. In my own recent consomme experiment (see below). I recall Peterson said you had to whip the egg whites into the broth so they were well integrated into the liquid. Reading between the lines, that tells me you can't just dump them in and expect the raft to work its magic properly. Morimoto may have gotten a head start on the egg whites by whipping them, thus breaking their surface tension, BEFORE they were added to the broth to promote more efficient coagulation (???) Coincidentally, I just made a consomme a couple weekends ago. It was used for a game meat broth that was mostly venison hindquarter with some goose meat/carcass thrown in (as well as the usual assortment of aromatics). If you'll allow me to bore you with a few details... I consulted James Peterson's "Glorious French Food," before proceeding. He recommended a couple of different options, including the addtion of ground meat -- which, he stated, lent addtional flavor to the consomme. In addtion, he recommended including the egg shell with the egg whites -- especially if you were making the consomme with egg whites alone. Frankly, the game broth was so flavorful, I saw no need to add more meat. In addition, I couldn't bring myself to throw out nearly 1/2 a dozen egg yolks, so I opted to go with a 100% pure eggwhite product from Egg Beaters. After an inital strain, chilling and defating, I restrained the broth into a stock pot, rewarmed it, and whisked in the whole carton of egg white product for 1-2 minutes (per Peterson). Once the broth came to a soft boil, I adjusted the heat to a brisk simmer and moved the pot to one side of the flame. After about 10 minutes, the raft began to coagulate and the impurities began to attach to the egg proteins. At the 20 minute mark, I carefully pushed the raft aside and carefully stirred the pot to dislodge any coagulated egg from the sides (again, per Peterson) after 40-45 minutes total, I removed the raft and strained the broth. (In retrospect, I should have let it simmer a bit longer). My final straining involved pouring the broth through a coffee filter (one I do NOT use for coffee, BTW). The final consomme was strikingly clear, almost like coffee or dark tea, and the flavor was fabulous. I was going to use this for stews, gravies, etc., but it's so darned good, I froze it and will use it between courses for my next dinner party. Overall, a very neat culinary experiment!
  12. I've made something similar with smoked chicken that is topped with poached eggs with a chipotle hollandaise. I've got a pic I would love to post, but I don't know how.
  13. Apart from the typical Thanksgiving fare, about the only time I use sweet potatoes is as a component to a pan of roasted root vegetables. Anyone have any novel uses for this tuber? I've got one I tried over Xmas vacation, I thought I would share to get the thread started. Sweet Potato Brûlée: Serves 4-6 (great with grilled lamb/game/beef; or -- you guessed it -- as a side to roast turkey) Ingredients: 2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed, skins left on 1-2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder (or to taste) 1/4 heavy cream S&P to taste. Equipment: 4-6 ramkeins Heat-proof mixing bowl Ricer Whisk Spatula Pierce sweet potatoes all over with the tip of a knife. Microwave on high power 8-10 minutes, flipping over once, half-way through the cooking cycle. Allow to cool enough to handle, but do not let potatoes get cold. Peel skins off potatoes and pass through a ricer into a heat-proof mixing bowl. Heat the cream and add to potatoes. Mix well. Add five-spice powder, 1 tsp at a time and adjust to taste -- a little goes a long way. Add S&P to taste. Cover bowl with saran and set over a bowl of simmering water until ready for plating. To serve, scoop potato mixture into ramekins all the way to the top and smooth tops with back of spatula. Sprinkle sugar on top (I used brown sugar, but I think granulated may work better) as if you're preparing a creme brûlée and blast sugar with a torch until caramelized. Serve immediately.
  14. I purchased a Fagor a couple of years ago. I probably use it every few weeks, mostly in the winter. I've had good success making risotto. But I think where it really pays dividends is with stews. Brown the stew meat in the cooker just like a regular pot and then add your veggies, herbs, stock and a bottle of good stout, and you've got a nice hearty stew in 20-25 minutes. (If I add frozen peas, I just stir those in after the stew is finished and let stand a few minutes.) I also like to use it to quick-braise meats. A pork loin mixed with some tomatoes, onions, spices, etc. is great out of the pressure cooker and can be shredded for soft tacos or served over some steamed rice. One more thing: I try to avoid using very fatty cuts of meat, as the inability to skim during cooking, mixed with the fact the pressure cooker is heating above the standard boling point, means the fats are going to emulsify into the cooking liquid. Once the lid is off, there not much you're going to be able to do clarify it.
  15. Vicious Wadd

    Pizza Sauce

    Similarly, Mario Batali has a pretty serviceable and simple marinara from his book "Simple Italian Food: Recipes from My Two Villages." It uses canned tomatoes and fresh basil. I don't recall that it cooks that long, so it's quick and easy to whip up a batch. With the exception of the butter, it sounds like they follow a similar approach.
  16. Vicious Wadd

    Wondra Flour

    Jacques Pepin used Wondra on an episode of "Fast Food, My Way." As has already been touted here, he liked it for frying and mentioned that it does not seize if added directly to hot liquids or gravies.
  17. Vicious Wadd

    Dinner! 2007

    Sorry, I missed this! The liquid is equal parts, honey, bourbon, water and butter. The recipe is courtesy of one of my members, and I use 1/4 cup of each and toss in a saute pan until the liquid is basically reduced and the carrots are glazed. ← Thanks Marlene!
  18. Vicious Wadd

    Dinner! 2007

    The carrots look perfect! How did you glaze them? Looks like you got great caramelization. Did you add any sugar or honey to the braising liquid?
  19. This looks interesting. And the inclusion of some other wet ingredients may help offset the ricotta's tendency to be dry: http://world.std.com/~kcl/Rricottapie.html
  20. ← You raise an interesting point. Ironically, the organic / local influence may be working from the 'burbs in. Take, for example, the use of local / organic ingredients at the Inn at Little Washington and (the now defunct) Four and Twenty Blackbirds. Since those restaurants are amidst the cows, vineyards and fields, I think the local-thing worked at a level that you see in Napa and Sonoma. I think that influence is creeping in toward the city. I also think of my local farmer's market (In Burke, VA) and have noticed that patronage continues to grow each year.
  21. From what I've seen: - Foams - Local, organic produce - Domestic, artisnal cheeses - Peruvian chicken restaurants - Papusas - More pho restaurants - More integration between restaurants/food service and wine shops - Weight Watchers-friendly menus (total points) What seems to be passe: - Martini bars - Cigar bars/clubs - Atkins-friendly menus (total net carbs)
  22. Here are some more off the top of my head: Nuts of some sort (toasted walnuts and pecans are a classic) Nutella Raspberries (or a raspberry sauce/puree) Sliced bananas (may be an issue with browning) Shortbread crumbles
  23. Good thread. Here are a few tips and tricks I've picked up over the years: - Save the aforementioned thick rubber bands to hold compression tongs closed. They won't fight with every other utensil in the drawer. - Buy a cheap paint brush to clean your coffee grinder. Buy another for your spice grinder (and keep the separate!) - Don't waste you money on one of those stainless steel onion / garlic hand deodorizers. Wipe them in your stainless steel sink. Viola, no smell. - Freeze stock in ice cube containers. Store the cubes in a ziplock bag for when you need just a bit. - Season meats on a platter in your sink. No salt / pepper / spice to clean off the counter. - Freeze a seive before final straining of a cooled stock. The tiny fat particles will stick to the mesh. - Use a rubber jar opener pad as a garlic skin remover (much cheaper than one of those specialized rubber tubes). - Use the end of compression tongs as a juicer (you'll notice it's the same basic shape). - Use a teaspoon to seed and de-rib jalapenos.
  24. Cucumber and radicchio slaw: Peel, split lengthwise and seed the cucumbers. Julienne into fine slices. Sprinkle with 2 tsp. Kosher salt, toss and let drain in a colander for about 30 minutes. Pat dry. Whip up a slaw dressing with mayo, sour cream, dill seed, S&P. Add some acid (lemon juice is good) if it needs brightness. Toss cucumbers in dressing. Add some shredded radicchio for color. Makes for an interesting diversion from standard cabbage-based slaw. Nice topping for sandwiches, pitas and burgers too.
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