Monday, March 23, 2015

The RG Sandwich -- Homemade Rye, Smoked Ricotta, etc.

Recently I gave my neighbor RG, who was house-bound after an operation, a container of Salvatore's smoked ricotta, a wonderful product that I have written about before, and a loaf of natural levain country rye bread that I made, courtesy of Chad Robertson's iconic Tartine Bread.

An RG sandwich: homemade country rye, smoked ricotta, smoked salmon, etc.
Starting with these ingredients, RG created a beautiful open-faced sandwich, which I have more or less duplicated myself:

1. Spread a generous amount of smoked ricotta on a slice of homemade country rye bread (RG uses Rubschlager Rye-Ola Black Rye if, as is usually the case, homemade rye bread is not available).

2. Add a generous amount of best quality olive oil (RG uses Castellina in Chianti, I used Sicilian that I buy at Eataly).

3. Add a few thin slices of Bermuda onion (I used red onion).
4. Add a slice of smoked Scottish salmon. (I added a grind of black pepper to finish.)

5. Voilà!

This is one fine sandwich: creative use of great ingredients. Thanks, RG.

Bobby Jay

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Tom Kerridge's Slow-Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Pommes Boulangères

Recently I made slow-roasted lamb shoulder with pommes boulangères for the second time. This dish, courtesy of Tom Kerridge's Proper Pub Food TV show, is extremely easy to prepare and really delivers amazing lamb flavor. Mr. Kerridge is the owner chef of the world's only pub to be awarded two Michelin stars and, as he says, he is all about simplicity and great ingredients.

Slow-roasted leg of lamb with pommes boulangères and green beans
While Mr. Kerridge advises you to leave this alone for the full five hours (or so) of cooking time, I removed a fair amount of liquid every so often starting after three hours so that the potatoes would crisp better. So a bit less simple than written but not much. And a pretty spectacular result.

I preceded the lamb with a radish, mushroom and arugula salad with pumpkin seed oil vinaigrette, sprouts, pumpkin seeds and parmesan shavings, inspired by Grüner in Portland.

Radish, mushroom and arugula salad with pumpkin seed vinaigrette
 We finished with a rosemary polenta olive oil cake, served with Cowgirl Creamery crème fraîche and rosemary syrup, a dessert designed to take advantage of the shipment of amazingly fragrant rosemary delivered by our friend S from Galveston.

If you like lamb, try this recipe.

Bobby Jay

Monday, March 16, 2015

Asia Week Macaro(o)ns

It's Asia Week in New York, which means that J is having a magnificent show of contemporary and modern Japanese ceramics. To keep her many clients satiated, I typically make macarons, those finicky but heavenly French meringue cookies with cream or ganache fillings. This year I made matcha (Japanese green tea) macarons filled with white chocolate ganache, one of J's and her clients' favorites. I employed a new (for me) technique this time, using Italian meringue, which involves adding hot sugar syrup to mounted egg whites, rather than French meringue, which includes only powdered sugar. While the Italian meringue is more difficult to create, it is easier to work with and bakes more predictably than the more brittle French meringue.

Matcha macarons with white chocolate ganache
When the macaron supply became exhausted, I baked a batch of matcha and coconut macarOOns, simple confections made of coconut, sugar, a little flour (not all recipes have this, which is why people serve them for Passover), and egg whites. Here I added a bit of matcha powder to half the batter to achieve the two-part effect. (Thanks to Stephanie Le's excellent iamafoodblog for the concept.)

Matcha and coconut macaroons
While not as elegant as macarons, macaroons are easy to make and fun to eat.

Bobby Jay

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Paris - Organic Chocolate Mousse

I like chocolate mousse, but J does not. I'm not sure how that's possible, but there it is. As a result, I never make it, despite having many many recipes in French cookbooks, magazine cuttings and internet posts.

One of my guilty pleasures in Paris, especially when I'm here alone, is the organic dark chocolate mousse that can be found at Monoprix and at bio (health food) stores. The amazing thing, for a store-bought product, is the list of ingredients: chocolate (42%), eggs, butter. That's it, no preservative, thickener, gelling agent, stabilizer. Well, perhaps the most amazing things are really the taste and texture, which are excellent and quite adult. (The mousse is so thick that it's actually hard to clean your spoon, either with your mouth or in the sink.) Or maybe I just become a child again when I eat them.

Ready-made chocolate mousses, left from bio store, right from Monoprix
When in Paris, go to a supermarket and buy one to keep in your mini-fridge in case of emergency.

Bobby Jay