Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Paris - Back to Quatrehomme for Cheese

I arrived in Paris yesterday, and went to my favorite open air market - Avenue du Président Wilson - this morning. Despite the many temptations, I resisted the urge to buy cheese (well, except an Italian peppered pecorino and some mini-scamorzas) because I planned to go to Marie Quatrehomme's fabulous cheese shop on Rue de Sèvre in the afternoon. How I love this shop, which I have written up before!

Since I am alone, I only bought four cheeses (and probably won't finish any of them), but they still make an impressive haul: a coeur, a slice of mont d'or suisse, a slice of fourme d'ambert and a langres.

Langres, coeur, fourme d'ambert, vacherin from Quatrehomme

Bobby Jay

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ostrich -- A Great Beef Substitute

J can't digest beef, although she can eat lamb, pork and even veal. Over the years I have tried to find substitutes but the closest I have come was duck breast, which has a steak-y quality and is otherwise a pretty versatile, readily available meat.

Several years ago, J went to the Golden Door spa, where she had an ostrich burger, which she said was almost indistinguishable from a lean beef burger. I did some research and it turns out that ostrich, despite its rich, meaty flavor and color, is very low in fat and cholesterol, close to white meat chicken.

I followed up by getting some ostrich steaks and ground ostrich through internet sources, and we enjoyed it. In the last couple of years, Roaming Acres Farm has been selling ostrich at various open-air markets in New York City, so it is no struggle to find it.

Ostrich steak au poivre
The trick to cooking ostrich is to keep it rare. If you go to medium rare, it gets tough and tastes like well-done beef, pretty terrible. I have recently discovered the perfect way to assure that the ostrich is cooked to, but not beyond, the perfect temperature: the sous vide machine. I cook vacuum packed ostrich steaks in the sous vide bath at 127° fahrenheit for about four hours, then cool it in an ice bath and let it rest in the refrigerator. When you want to finish it, place it in a smoking hot skillet or under a hot broiler for one minute per side; it will char on the outside without exceeding 127°.

Last night I make ostrich steak au poivre, using a recipe for steak from Emeril Lagasse, of all people. Fa - bu - lous!

Thumbs up for ostrich and also for sous vide cooking.

Bobby Jay

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Clotilde's Flourless Orange Ginger Cake

I recently was asked to bring dessert for a party of 20, but warned that one of the guests has celiac disease and as a result is absolutely gluten-intolerant.

The obvious (probably too obvious, these days) answer was flourless chocolate cake. However, while looking through my very extensive recipe file for the perfect example, I came upon a recipe for a flourless orange ginger cake (gateau à l'orange et au gingembre) from Clotilde Dussoulier's wonderful blog, Chocolate and Zucchini. I made two, and they were a huge hit: moist and flavorful, with more than a hint of bitterness from the orange peel (you boil oranges for two hours, then puree them to form the foundation of the cake). I have made it again more recently to equal raves: everyone who tries this cake wants the recipe. So here's the link to it.

Clotilde's Flourless Orange Ginger Cake
Bobby Jay

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ottolenghi Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za'atar and Lemon

I have previously written about the great cookbook, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, in several posts. It is exciting and interesting and worth reading for it's wonderful recipes but also just for inspiration. Last night we had guests and I made one of my favorite dishes from the book, Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za'atar and Lemon, a dish that's easy to prepare but with an exotic Middle Eastern spice profile that sets it apart: typical of Ottolenghi's recipes.

Ottolenghi's Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za'atar and Lemon
I own Ottolenghi's other cookbooks, Plenty (vegetarian) and Jerusalem, but haven't really gone through them because there's so much left to try in the first one. However, last night's dinner has inspired me to read the newer books and get to the next Ottolenghi level.

Bobby Jay

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tarte Tatin

There is nothing like a classic tarte tatin (upside-down apple tart), and today I set out to make a classic one, following the recipe of the Confrérie des Lichonneux de Tarte Tatin, the official society of tarte tatin lovers.

This recipe calls for buttering the pan with a huge amount of butter, covering with sugar and then arranging quartered apples on top and cooking over a hot burner until the sugar caramelizes and turns a dark brown. Well, I burned the sugar and after a lot of cursing decided to try again by making a caramel in a new pan and using the already very cooked apples, finally adding a pâte brisée crust (the official recipe calls for puff pastry but I prefer ordinary tart dough) and baking for 30 minutes.

The result was the best tarte tatin I've ever made, dark and crusty with rich caramel. Lesson learned.

Bobby Jay