Sunday, March 30, 2014

Vietnamese Cooking Lesson

I had a lovely Vietnamese cooking lesson today at New York's Institute of Culinary Education (ICE). We made eight dishes, the ones pictured below plus a wonderful bánh mì sandwich and shrimp and pork summer rolls.

Here are pictures of the final dishes:

Asparagus and crab soup - Sup Man Tay Cua
Cucumber and shrimp salad - Goi Dua Chuot
Catfish simmered in caramel sauce - Ca Kho
Chicken stir-fried with lemongrass and chile - Ga Xao Xa Ot
Shrimp simmered in caramel salt - Tom Kho
Banana, tapioca pearl and coconut sweet soup - Che Chuoi
All of the dishes were really good! They really captured the elegance and balance of well-prepared Vietnamese cuisine. I worked with a partner on the bánh mì and the catfish in caramel sauce.

Highly recommended.

Bobby Jay

Monday, March 17, 2014

Food in Black & White

As part of Asia Week New York, J is having a fabulous exhibition at her gallery, entitled "Japan in Black & White."

So I made some black and white food items for the opening party and to have around for customers coming to the gallery to enjoy the exhibition.

I made a black bean cumin dip, to be eaten with white corn chips, and a Tuscan white bean dip, to be eaten with blue (nearly black) corn chips.

For desserts, about 150 of my favorite very dark chocolate "World Peace" cookies, invented by Dorie Greenspan . . .

. . . and white macarons with dark chocolate ganache from Pierre Hermé's recipe.

Later in the week, we had some Japanese ceramics collectors for dinner and I followed through on the theme, with some tapenade and mustard palmiers . . .

. . . and cauliflower soup (with a few drops of hazelnut oil) served in black bowls made by the talented  Hanako Nakazato.

A nice inspiration.

Bobby Jay

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Do try this at home: from a Paris class to my New York table

I don't often run home from Paris and cook one of the items I learned to cook at Atelier des Chefs, but I so enjoyed this dish that I did exactly that.

Mousse de chou-fleur, coeur de persil, gambas au piment d'Espelette (cauliflower mousse with parsley sauce and shrimp with Espelette pepper) has a great texture (it's really a foam dispensed from a siphon), taste and appearance, even better when I used Japanese ceramic cups rather than the cheap verrines provided at the school. The slightly bitter parsley ties together the very different tastes of the cauliflower and the shrimp, making for a nice little party in your mouth.

Mousse de chou-fleur, coeur de persil, gambas au piment d'Espelette
Bobby Jay 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Paris - Cooking Lesson: Classics

I had a fun cooking lesson at Ateliers des Chefs today where we made a three-course meal consisting of some classic French dishes.

First up: a Potage Saint-Germain (split pea soup) with sautéed foie gras, croutons and chervil. Really rich but velvety and delightful. The foie gras and the pea soup made a perfect mélange.

Potage Saint-Germain with sautéed foie gras
Next, Butter-basted roasted Saint Pierre (John Dory) with truffled Puy lentils. I love lentils but I would have preferred potatoes for this dish. The lentils were so assertive that they muddied the flavor of the fish a bit.

Butter-basted roasted Saint Pierre with Puy lentils
Finally, a traditional Grand Marnier soufflé, which was not gorgeous but had a perfect smooth texture with only a hint of the famed liqueur.

Sushi dinner tonight, fortunately; no more fat.

Bobby Jay

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Paris - 2014 Salon de l'Agriculture

If it's the beginning of March, it's time for the Salon International de l'Agriculture in Paris. So I went for the third time today, with a new friend who had never been before. We both loved it!

We started by admiring the dozens of breeds of horses on display . . .

Horses (no, that's not a super giant Schnauzer) at the Salon d'Ag
. . . and then moved on to the pavilion where foods from all regions of France and its possessions are available for tasting and purchase. This year I was austere, and only had a sandwich of foie gras and Espelette pepper, half a paper cone of Bayonne ham, a coupe of Champagne and a glass of Armagnac. Of course, there were many, many foods to ogle and photograph, and we did the tour of all the principal regions.

Alsacian cheeses, conserves and sausages
I bought lightly this year, too, just 2 small jars of foie gras, a bottle of Bas Armagnac, 4 linen torchons (dish towels) and Corsican sausage.

Then downstairs to admire more horses, cows, sheep, goats and pigs of all varieties. They are perfectly kept and cared for, and there is virtually no bad odor in the massive exhibition hall. Here are some of my favorites.

Happy cows, sheep, goat and pig at the Salon de l'Agriculture
My friend, not an Easterner, observed that the Salon d'Ag is like a state fair in the US but with good food. Indeed, there was not a corn dog to be found (although there was cotton candy (barbe à papa), which French kids seem to love).

French food would not be as good as it is without the country's wonderful agriculture, which is still alive and kicking, literally.

Bobby Jay