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eG Foodblog: mkayahara (2010) - Confessions of a culinary tinker


mkayahara
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One more post for tonight...

I don't imagine that it's possible for a person to write an eGullet foodblog without wanting to do something at least halfway impressive, and I'm no exception. So I've planned a small dinner for Sunday evening (not Saturday, because I have an ill-timed meeting all day that day). I started preparations for it tonight, by making an ice cream base. The last time I made this particular flavour of ice cream, I overcooked the custard. Plus, I've only had my immersion circulator for a few weeks. So why not cook the custard sous vide?

I don't have a chamber vacuum sealer, so I manually pulsed and sealed the blended base in my Foodsaver, then put it in the circulator at 82C for an hour. By all appearances, it worked well: good texture, no trace of eggy flavour. I'm maturing it in the fridge overnight, then I'll churn it in the morning.

sv ice cream base.jpg

I decided to make myself a cocktail tonight. For no particular reason, I've been on a whisk(e)y kick lately, and I've been working my way to the bottom of a bottle of sweet vermouth. So I decided to make myself a Bobby Burns, using Drambuie in place of the Benedictine I would usually use. When I was in university, my preferred drink was a Rusty Nail, so this was a nice reminder of that, with a little added interest from the vermouth. I'm surprised there's no bitters called for in this, though; I think a dash or two of Peychaud's or Angostura could be quite a nice touch.

The big problem with stirred whisky drinks is that they all look the same in the photos.

Bobby Burns.jpg

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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That sounds good; I'll have to try that next time I have squash! I imagine miso and butter would be great with squash. Any particular type of miso? I'm assuming white?

Actually, I don't use white misos, since I like to balance out the sweet that naturally occurs from the squash and give it a bit of smoky depth. I use regular or dark miso if I have it.

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That sounds good; I'll have to try that next time I have squash! I imagine miso and butter would be great with squash. Any particular type of miso? I'm assuming white?

Actually, I don't use white misos, since I like to balance out the sweet that naturally occurs from the squash and give it a bit of smoky depth. I use regular or dark miso if I have it.

Good to know. I use more white miso than any other kind, but this will give me an excuse to pick up some good darker miso next time I'm in Toronto.

Just to illustrate my point upthread about being able to make anything taste "Japanese" by adding the right condiments, I made this for lunch today:

Hotdog.jpg

Kwinter's hot dog topped with okonomiyaki sauce, Kewpie mayo, ao-noriko and bonito flakes. It was pretty good! A little pickled ginger might've been nice.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Just to illustrate my point upthread about being able to make anything taste "Japanese" by adding the right condiments, I made this for lunch today:

....

Kwinter's hot dog topped with okonomiyaki sauce, Kewpie mayo, ao-noriko and bonito flakes. It was pretty good! A little pickled ginger might've been nice.

You are in good company. Here in Vancouver Japadog is a big hit.

Cheers,

Anne

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The last time I made this particular flavour of ice cream, I overcooked the custard. Plus, I've only had my immersion circulator for a few weeks. So why not cook the custard sous vide?

What is this particular flavour? Vanilla or something more exotic? I admit I've had no interest in immersion circulators but you seem to use them often. Is it a daily-use piece of equipment for you?

What's on for dinner tonight?

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What is this particular flavour? Vanilla or something more exotic? I admit I've had no interest in immersion circulators but you seem to use them often. Is it a daily-use piece of equipment for you?

It's cinnamon ice cream; I'm not quite sure why I didn't say that! I've only had the immersion circulator for a little while, so it's still a novelty for me. I don't use it daily, but I'm trying to work it into regular rotation - and see how it can best be put to use in my kitchen - in order to justify the price tag. I've done steaks and so forth with it, but so far my favourites have been the long-time, low-temperature items like brisket.

What's on for dinner tonight?

I just got home, and just put on a pot of water for pasta. It's going to be carbonara!

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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And carbonara it was! My carbonara is a very stipped down version, just pasta, pancetta or bacon, eggs, cheese and butter, plus a light dusting of black pepper over the top. No cream, no peas. The trick, of course, is waiting long enough after the pancetta and pasta come off the heat before adding the eggs, so that they're cooked, but not cooked so hard that they curdle. I think I did pretty well tonight.

Carbonara.jpg

I say it a lot, because it's true: my life improved immeasurably when I stopped insisting on fully cooked eggs. :biggrin:

As you may have noticed, I haven't been feeling much of an impulse to make dessert this week. And it's been driving the hubby crazy. So we went out to our local market and bought some desserts for tonight. I chose a chocolate and pistachio mousse thing, mostly because it was pretty, and because I like pistachios.

Pistachio.jpg

The chocolate beads on top are chocolate-coated crisped rice. The whole thing is not bad, but not great, either. Typically, I prefer very simple, not-too-sweet desserts (ice cream, pie, custards) or composed desserts. I'm not really much of a cake guy, though pastry may be the next thing I try to learn more about. Anyone have any advice on textbooks? I've been eying the FCI's Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts, but haven't pulled the trigger yet.

I think it's just about time for a Manhattan...

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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And do you have ready access to pancetta in Guelph?

Surprisingly, Guelph has a sizable Italian population, so pancetta is easy to come by, as are a lot of other Italian ingredients. I've even seen cardoons here! I also cure my own bacon - though I've fallen behind on that, so I'm out at the moment - so I often use my own. I haven't tried proper pancetta yet, though.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I'm jealous. I'm a long way from Italian cured meats.

I say it a lot, because it's true: my life improved immeasurably when I stopped insisting on fully cooked eggs.

Mine too! What kind of eggs do you use? Regular supermarket ones?

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I'm not really much of a cake guy, though pastry may be the next thing I try to learn more about. Anyone have any advice on textbooks? I've been eying the FCI's Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts, but haven't pulled the trigger yet.

I asked the very same question not long in this thread here. I wouldn't hesitate to get that book, it's fantastically detailed. Love your Japanese dog, I'm so making that next time.

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Well, unfortunately, I'm in a meeting all day today, so there won't be much cooking or blogging going on. I'm not sure what's going to happen for dinner tonight; normally Saturday would call for a more time-consuming dish (I'm starting to get a hankering for lamb shanks), but this might end up being one of those days where an emergency trip to the pub is called for...

I'm jealous. I'm a long way from Italian cured meats.

I say it a lot, because it's true: my life improved immeasurably when I stopped insisting on fully cooked eggs.

Mine too! What kind of eggs do you use? Regular supermarket ones?

I always insist on at least free-run eggs, and the ones I'm using at the moment are certified organic. When I can get myself out to the farmers' market (which runs Saturdays from 7-noon), I'll usually buy eggs there, but I find the quality is pretty variable.

I'm not really much of a cake guy, though pastry may be the next thing I try to learn more about. Anyone have any advice on textbooks? I've been eying the FCI's Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts, but haven't pulled the trigger yet.

I asked the very same question not long in this thread here. I wouldn't hesitate to get that book, it's fantastically detailed. Love your Japanese dog, I'm so making that next time.

Thanks, Prawncrackers. Sounds like that might be the book to get! Glad you liked the Japanese hot dog.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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OK, so I know I said "emergency pub trip" this morning, but when I wrote that, I forgot that we had these little beauties in the fridge:

Oysters.jpg

A whole box of PEI oysters! So we had a couple dozen, on the half shell. They weren't the absolute freshest I've ever had: that honour would go to the ones I ate in Malpeque Harbour. These were still plenty good. I generally prefer my oysters naked, but we had them with a little bit of lemon and some fresh grated horseradish tonight. My husband kept saying throughout the meal that we don't do this often enough. He's right.

As a side, we served fries:

Fries.jpg

Until recently, I have never been happy with any fries I've made at home. Then I found out about the Robuchon method. This is the third time I've made them this way - all within the span of a month - and I've been thrilled with them every time.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Lovely! I had a plate of Malpeque oysters when I was in Charlottetown this past summer, and they are briny perfection. Who carries PEI oysters in Guelph - do you have a Sobeys? :biggrin:

Sadly, we don't have a Sobeys here; I bought them at Zehr's. (A major supermarket chain, for those of you not familiar with it.) What's funny is that the "packed for" label on them lists the name of a local fishmonger, Caudle's Catch. Their products are usually good, but they're about a 40-minute or hour's drive away, so we don't make it there very often. In any case, I figure if they're the ones supplying the local supermarket, the product can't be bad. And it wasn't!

What a perfect simple and satisfying meal. I love that you did the fries up yourself- how would you describe the texture?

These ones were not as good as other I've had in the past, where the texture was perfect (to me) French-fry texture: crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside. Tonight's were a little bit dry on the inside, but this bag of potatoes has been mediocre across the board, so I figure that's the problem. Indeed, my working theory is that the dry matter and sugar content of the potatoes is a greater limiting factor on great fries than the technique used to make them!

Edit: Oh, I nearly forgot to mention! We also had a lovely little Muscadet with it, which made it an even nicer simple meal.

And now, a little teaser for dinner tomorrow night. Any guesses as to what they are?

Teaser.jpg

Edited by mkayahara (log)

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Today while I was out, my husband started preparing this year's batch of fruitcake. Among other things, this meant that he opened a bottle of port.

There are two cocktails that I indelibly associate with Christmas: one is the Stinger. (Ever see The Bishop's Wife?) The other is the Coffee Cocktail, mostly because Christmas is the only time of year we can count on having port in the house. (I use 2 oz. of port in the cocktail, rather than the 1 oz. listed in CocktailDB. I just noticed that CocktailDB lists a variation with apple brandy, though. I'm going to have to try that next!)

I love the many members of the Flip family, whether Sherry, or Whiskey, or even Cynar. But to me, the Coffee Cocktail is King.

Coffee.jpg

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I'm having trouble placing what would have that great orange brown color... can you use sodium alginate with cocktails?

You can, in fact, but that's not what this is. :biggrin:

Ikura!! Please tell me you are you going to do kaiseki style multi course Japanese meal, please.

I'd love to be able to do that. One of the biggest highlights of my trip to Japan in May was dinner at Roan Kikunoi. I have the restaurant's cookbook, so I could even conceivably do a kaiseki meal... except that access to ingredients is extremely difficult in Guelph, especially things like a variety of fresh fish. Maybe one day I'll be able to do it, and if I do, you can be sure I'll write it up on here!

Had time for a slightly more leisurely breakfast this morning, so I made pancakes and bacon. The bacon was home-cured with maple syrup, and smoked on my gas grill over hickory chips. It was the best smoking job I've ever done with my setup; the ambient temperature that day was pretty low, so it got to sit on the grill for a longer time than usual before the core temperature got too high.

Pancakes.jpg

Edited by mkayahara (log)

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Dinner is now done, and I would say it was a success! Here's a rundown of what I made.

We started with some oysters with assorted garnishes: the teaser photo I posted last night was of red wine vinegar "pearls" made with agar. I mixed them with some minced shallots and cracked peppercorns for a take on mignonette. The other two oysters had, respectively, a few drops of BenRiach single malt Scotch whisky and a green tea "air" made with lecithin.

Oysters.jpg

Next, we had a Caesar Salad. I was pleased that it only took my guests a minute to piece this one together.

Caesar.jpg

It's a Caesar cocktail, reinterpreted as an appetizer. Worcestershire sauce spattered on the plate, then a strip of tomato juice gelled with agar and locust bean gum, some chilled clams that had been steamed in white wine (garnished with celery leaves and, in one case, a strip of dried tomato), horseradish mayo, cherry tomatoes, one of which was marinated in vodka, and a celery seed tuile. Oh, and there's also some Tabasco sauce under the strip of gelled tomato juice. All the flavours really came together on this plate, except for the horseradish mayo - the horseradish flavour really wasn't pronounced enough.

The next course was a straight-up dish from Sam Mason: pork belly with miso butterscotch and whiskey barigoule. I got the recipe from Art Culinaire magazine, and I have to say that it was every bit as good as when I had it at Tailor.

Pork belly.jpg

I followed that with a "one-bite cheese course": some Bleu bénédictin cheese, a piece of dried fig, a toasted almond and a sheet of LBV port film. The film was made with port and Ultra-Tex 3; I wanted something with a crispy, glass-like texture. It wasn't bad, but wasn't exactly what I'd been hoping for either, so there's still some work to be done here.

Cheese.jpg

And, dessert. When viewing this photo, please keep in mind that I'm really not much of a pastry guy. In particular, I can't quenelle ice cream to save my life.

Individual tarte tatin, cinnamon ice cream, apple pâte de fruit, cinnamon fluid gel. The fluid gel was my first time working with gellan, and I'm not quite sure it came out how it should have. Still, it tasted really good, which is the most important thing.

Tarte tatin.jpg

And that was dinner! If anyone has any questions, I'm happy to answer them.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Next, we had a Caesar Salad. I was pleased that it only took my guests a minute to piece this one together.

It's a Caesar cocktail, reinterpreted as an appetizer.

I like that kind of puzzle on the plate. Have you done other such successful reinterpretations?

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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That whole meal looks wonderful... I really like the idea of the individual vinegar pearls adding another textural element to the oyster!

Very handsome pork belly as well- I just cooked some for the first time last week, but I just did a brine + roast. I'm planning on trying it again soon with a method more like yours (assuming that there's some pink salt in your brine, and then you cooked it sous vide!)

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