Thursday, April 29, 2010

Peach-Blackberry Pie

Back last summer, we did a peach-freezing experiment.  According to Cook's Illustrated, the best way to keep peaches is to slice them, and mix with a little sugar and some "fruit fresh" (ascorbic acid), then bag and freeze.  Blackberries, which were amazing last year, are best frozen individually spread out on a tray and then bagged once frozen.  We finally decided to use them and those techniques worked out great.  The peaches smelled like late summer.  Emily then worked her pie-making magic on what has got to be the best fruit pie combination ever conceived.  Even better than strawberry-rhubarb or blueberry-cranberry.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring Lamb

A strange winter has given way to a strange spring, one that has left me unsure of how to react.  One way is to make a spring lamb.  This leg of lamb comes by way of friends at a Virgina farm, and such a nice gift of top quality lamb needed to be passed on and shared - so we had some invited guests.

I chose a Jaime Oliver recipe to make - a weeping boneless roast leg of lamb done in a yogurt-mint marinade.  I started with the whole hind quarter and spent a good half hour or so breaking it down and cleaning it up, trying not to waste the slightest bit.  Then it went in with the marinade and sat in the fridge for a full day before it was ready to roast.  With some ad hoc meat-tying technique the whole thing stayed together and was cooked medium rare on top of a mix of roast winter vegetables.  You absolutely don't want to over cook lamb, especially when you will have leftovers to reheat.  I stabbed the roast in about ten places to make sure we were somewhere close to 135 degrees all around before declaring it done.

It was absolutely delicious.  You can find the recipe here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


In my world, dumplings are king.  Martha Stewart even confesses to having these as one of her favorite foods.  I made these from her recipe, which she recently published since they are meatless and therefore good for lent.  But really, any sort of dumpling recipe is going to attract my attention.

I made two kinds of pierogi: potato and cabbage, and I stuck with the brown butter sauce, using as little as possible, but just enough for flavor.  As with any dumpling, they take a lot of time to roll, stuff, fill, and cook, but in my mind it is quite worth it.  The cabbage ones won out for flavor in the end.  Martha has you use a grinder to process the cabbage, but since I don't have one of those, I had to grate and chop, which left some of the leafy consistency intact.  I have heard that others eat these with our cream and sauerkraut.  As for me, I was trying to replicate some of the great pierogi I had at my friend Chris's wedding in New Jersey.  If I will ever get there I think I might need to do some additional field research.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ramen Study No. 1

Here are the results of stage one of building a good ramen broth - something that advances well beyond the chicken broth stage.  Guided by David Chang's Momofuku cookbook, I tried a few key elements.  I started with the cooking liquid created when rehydrating dried shitake mushrooms.  Second, I added some chunks of onion, and finally briefly infused the broth with katsuo-bushi, or dried bonito flakes.  The bonito really gives it more of a smoky quality than any kind of fishy taste.  At this stage, I had a very flavorful broth, but not a very colorful soup.  But I was hungry so I added noodles and ate it all.  Other elements, like konbu and pork, will have to wait for Study No. 2.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Brunch Season Continues

Indeed brunch season continues year round.  We seem to be entering a difficult time of year - the asparagus is starting to sprout, but the rest of the produce section continues to lack inspiration.  Winter vegetables are done with, but the spring is not quite here yet.  This brunch's four elements:
  • Tomatillo-Poblano-Cheddar Scrambled eggs on Home Made English Muffins
  • Tomato, Hearts of Palm, and Mixed Green Salad with Orange Vinagrette
  • Fresh Pineapple
  • Banana Chocolate Upside Down Cake
 And sparkling limeade from Trader Joe's to drink.  You must come try Emily's english muffins.