Our favorite pan for many cooking tasks right now is one that John has owned for about 25 years. It is stainless with a copper core and it is our go to pan for vegetables that we want browned such as sweet potatoes and Brussel sprouts, scallops, pancakes... For some reason it was on an inconvenient shelf for a few years but we were happy to recently rediscover it! This morning I am taking it to cook sweet potato pancakes on for a Sugar Class (which is about little to no sugar).
Six of us had dinner at our house on Friday night– it was hot outside we dined under a ceiling fan– I cooked nearly everything on the outdoor wood burning grill to keep the inside temperature down– grabbed ingredients at the Penn Quarter Farmers market in about 5 minutes and later figured out what went with what– lots of small dishes driven by the herbs in my garden and ingredients– so much good food to choose from this time of year including first corn okra and apricots of the season– had food on the table when friends arrived so there would be no jumping up and down just a relaxed visit... For me, a perfect summer night!
Dinner: Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms, Tomato with Peach and Basil, Corn with Leek Sorrel and Okra, Giant White Lima Beans with Green Tomatoes and Garlic Chives, Baby Collards with New Potato and Rosemary, Rhubarb Ketchup, Small Cucumbers with Salad Burnet and Mint, Eggplant with Beets Beet Greens and Onion, Maiitake Mushrooms, Spelt Bread
Dessert: Macadamia Coconut Macaroons, Tiny Lavender Cakes with Rose and Pistachio, Gooseberries, Black Raspberries, Watermelon, Apricot, Coconut Cream, Bittersweet Chocolate
(Tissot) Cremant du Jura Brut, (Henri Jouan) Bourgogne Pase-Tout-Grain 2009
Magical getaway last week to Austin included a nomadic Home Restaurant with a menu influenced by Texas ingredients. There is a wonderfully large amount of food being grown within the Austin city limits. Huge thanks to our host as well as Stephanie and Kim (also dinner guests) of the breathtaking Rain Lily Farm for memorable herbs including French Anise Seeds which from now on will be a constant in my DC garden, Sebastian of Countryside Farm for the Wild Hog and Rabbit, Antonelli's Cheese Shop who had an experimental cheese from our favorite Jasper Hill Farm, and Casey the Chef from Justines who cooked with me and helped me gather stellar ingredients for the meal.
Already looking forward to the next!
PASSING (tastes from the kitchen): Black Eyed Peas with Oregano, Roasted Rabbit with Rhubarb Ketchup, Corn and Lime and Garlic Chive, Brussel Sprout with Ginger, Fig Basil and Balsamic, Roasted Eggplant with Small Celery
Turbot with Leek, Armenian Cucumber and Grainy Mustard (24 hour bread)
Arugula with Morel, Porcini, Shallot and Red Wine Vinegar (buckwheat herb bread)
Wild Hog with Basil Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Green Tomatoes, Okra, and Spicy Cabbage (olive oil spelt bread)
Washed Moses Cheese and Walnut Cracker
Zucchini Olive Oil Cake with White Peaches, Blackberries and Anise Cream
Small Bites: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Macadamia Cookie, Chocolate Cake with Fresh Mint, Salty Rosemary Walnut Biscotti, Lavender Cake Rose Icing and Pistachio
Take Home: Warm Fig and Chocolate Bread
John just came back from Louisiana with a roux spoon made of cypress. I had never seen one before– the story goes that a cabinetmaker, Greg Arceneaux, noticed that when he made a specific type of chair, scraps of wood were formed in the perfect shape of a spoon that would help facilitate the making of roux. We do not generally use roux in our cooking but to me it is the perfect mashed potato spoon– the sharp edge helps dislodge the potatoes that stick to the pot. Right now with basil in season I am sure it will be put to good use making lots of basil mashed potatoes. Also I am really excited to know about Greg Arceneaux's work which is based in the traditions of Louisiana Acadian and Creole furniture.
For as long as I have known him I have heard John talk about a dish that he ate in the UK more than 2 decades ago prepared by Marco Pierre White. Yesterday he cooked a dish that was loosely based on that dish and a recipe by Pierre Koffmann. There were many steps including careful butchering, a 24 hour stock and slow cooking the stuffed pigs foot. He filled the pigs trotter with olive oil mashed potatoes, it looked fantastic and I am told it was delicious.
We like to serve eggs at Home Restaurants, two of our favorites are from Path Valley Cooperative and Whitmore Farms. We wanted to try some variations with a thermometer, a pot of water, and our new stove which allows us to regulate the cooking temperature on the low end, for example we can hold a pot of water at 140 degrees. Sous vide without the machines– Image 1. Sous vide in plastic wrap, 7 minutes at 190 degrees
Image 2. Sous vide in shell, 55 minutes 143 degrees
Image 3. Traditional medium boiled egg, 7 minutes, 212 degrees
I am very sceptical of the additives used in so called, modernist cuisine. However since I use baking powder and baking soda all the time, which were once considered new, I do not want to outright reject all "modernist" ingredients. Sodium alginate is actually made from seaweed and I use seaweed often in cooking.
We have decided to do a few experiments for our own culinary growth... Our first attempt yesterday was an adaptation of Ferran Adria's famous Potato Foam Spherification Gnocchi. Not bad for a first attempt! It was fun and exciting to see the dish come together and to see how these new to us ingredients work. The texture of the gnocchi was very interesting. On the other hand my favorite part of the dish may have been the roasted potato skins we prepared for the broth... This is what we did–
2 cups kombu dashi or other vegetable broth, 450 grams of potatoes, grapeseed oil, 350 grams water (cooking potato water), 5 grams of sodium alginate, 5 grams calcium carbonate, 1000 grams rinsing water, 1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, fresh sorrel
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Peel potatoes with a knife reserving thick potato skins for roasting.
Place potato skins on a sheet tray, season with grapeseed oil, salt and pepper and roast until edges are browned, add to dashi, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Strain broth, discard potato skins (or eat them) and return broth to a pot and set aside.
In a medium pot add potatoes and cooking water and cook until potatoes are soft.
Drain the potatoes reserving 350 grams of cooking liquid. Place warm cooking liquid in a blender, blend on low and slowly add sodium alginate. Mix until smooth, about 2 minutes, add potatoes and blend until smooth, approximately 2 additional 2 minutes. Add olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
In a 9" x 12" flat bottom dish add 1000 grams of water and calcium carbonate, stir to dissolve.
Slowly discharge potato contents into calcium bath making a long snake shape. Cut immediately with scissors into 3/4 inch gnocchis. Let sit for 2 1/2 minutes until outer casing slightly hardens. Rinse gently and thoroughly in warm water to wash off the bitter calcium bath.
Fill bowls with hot broth and gently top with hot gnocchi. Garnish with sorrel and serve immediately.
Photo Kate Headley
At open Home Restaurants it is a joy to bring people together to share a meal and enjoy conversation with other guests they have just met. Consistently we have found that guests who choose to dine with us are open to the experience and make fast friends with the other diners. Last night was no exception, conversation was steady, intense and animated. When guests left many exchanged contact information and I guess that many conversations will continue long past the duration of the dinner– We had a good night! Thanks to everyone who joined us last night.
White Sturgeon Caviar, Sweet Potato/ Celery, Celery Root, Celery Seed/ Shad Roe, Sorrel/ Flat Iron, Caramelized Onion/ Oregon Black Truffle, Potato/ Parsnip, Fermented Grains, Chives/ Radish, Parsley, Sesame
(Ch. L'Eperonniere) Rose de Loire 2010Bay Leaf Lemon Vodka Cocktail
Guinea Hen, Dashi, Leek, Carrot, Giant White Lima Beams, Crinkle Cress– 48 Hour Farm Bread (La Sauvageonne) Coteaux du Languedoc "Les Ruffes" 2009
Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Pickled Baby Turnip, Pickled Baby Beet, Black Rice, Pea Shoots, Black Walnuts– Spelt Olive Oil Bread (Thevenet) St. Veran 'Clos de l'Ermitage' V.V. 2009
Rockfish, Salsify, Scorzonera, Rhubarb, Baby Kale– Cornmeal Herb Roll (Jean Marc Pillot) Bourgogne Rouge 'Les Grands Terres' 2008
Rush Creek Reserve Cheese and Cracker
Sauterne Olive Oil Cake, Mandarin Oranges, Frozen Sesame and Dates (Eudald) 'Familia' Brut Cava NV
Cookies: Black Tea Savi Seed Oatmeal Crisps, Cornmeal Rosemary Walnut Drops, Chocolate Cake with Hickory Nuts and Coconut, Salty Macadamia Nut Chocolate Biscotti
Take Home: Chocolate, Fig and Red Walnut Bread
One of the important numbers in my phone is for "Firewood Joe". He brings us wood for our Grillery. We use it as our second oven– at Home Restaurants at least one passing bite and one of the seated courses is cooked over wood. Joe's wood is fabulous to cook with, it burns easily and evenly. He claims it has to do with the even splitting of logs, the hardwood varieties and the seasoning of the wood (meaning that moisture has evaporated)– a process that takes about 2 years. And then there is the flavor that comes from the type of wood– Joe delivers a mix of maple, oak, apple and cherry woods– the result is a deep yet mellow smoky flavor that enhances but does not overpower the ingredients.
We recently started getting caviar from California... initially we were skeptical since traditionally the only caviar we served was from wild sturgeon of the Caspian or Black Seas. However wild sturgeon, once plentiful in many places in the world are now threatened by overfishing, loss of habitat and pollution. In fact, the sturgeon of the Caspian Sea are nearly extinct. In response sturgeon are now farmed raised in many parts of the world, some farms are sustainable and others are not. The California caviar from the Sacramento area we are getting is said to come from a perfected sustainable aquaculture environment. The taste and texture are of this Osetra-like caviar is phenomenal. We served the caviar with a long time favorite pairing of ours, roasted salsify. In the past we have topped it with creme fraiche but this time with fermented grains and wild chives from our neighbors front yard.
One of the early signs of spring is finding rhubarb at the market... Served the relish in this photo with a lamb burger, took the left overs and made a ketchup to serve with a black rice and white lima bean burger, anxious to make a rhubarb and banana dessert (one of my favorite combinations)– maybe tonight!
Someone from last weeks cooking class organized a group for a cooking class yesterday which included both adults and off from school kids... We are having fun with these classes and are open to doing more of them in the future. We baked bread, made spreads and then enjoyed eating our labors... Special requests included bread sticks and chocolate bread. Below is a bread stick recipe, we made them a little too thick yesterday I think the key is to roll them as thin as a pencil.
Rosemary Bread Sticks
2 teaspoons fresh compressed yeast
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup whole wheat flour (substituting this for 00 flour would result in a lighter breadstick but I like the whole wheat for both taste and nutrition reasons)
1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary, could substitute other herbs, seeds, minced garlic...
In a medium sized bowl combine the yeast, water and oil. Mix in the flours, salt and rosemary and knead until dough is very smooth.
Prepare a baking pan by spraying with oil and sprinkling with cornmeal. Roll out long thin bread sticks and cook in a 375 degree oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Eat hot or very crispy at room temperature.
Garlic, Port and Armagnac Puree
Mashed Potato and Black Truffle on Roasted Potato
Vin de Paille Broth with Chive
Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onion
Pickled China Rose, Black Spanish and Watermelon Radishes
(Ch. Les Valentines) Cotes du Provence ROSE Estate 2010, Bay Leaf Vodka Martini
Root Vegetable Salad: Chiogga, White and Red Ace Beets on Baby Arugula and Savi Seed Dressing– Tendersweet, Sugarsnax and Sweetness Carrots on Baby Blue Kale and Sesame Dressing– Gold Ball, Scarlet Queen and Purple Top Turnips on Pea Shoots and Poppy Seed Dressing
(Tenuta Roveglia) Lugana Superiore Vigne di Catullo 2010
Leek and Wood Grilled Salsify Stew with White Lima Beans and Sorrel
(Cheveau) Saint Amour 'En Rontey' 2009
Napa Cabbage filled with Yellow Oyster Mushrooms, Savoy Cabbage filled with Shiitake, Green Cabbage filled with Button Mushrooms, on Celery Root Puree with Roasted Chanterelle and Black Walnuts
(Triacca) Sassella Valtenllina Superiore 2008
Grain and Nut Yogurt Cheese on Walnut Cracker
Frozen Pistachio on Chocolate Cake with Thick Chocolate Sauce, Roasted Pistachios and Cocoa Nibs
(Moutard) Champagne 'Cuvee 6 Cepages' 2004
Bites: Coconut Almond Macaroons, Salty Rosemary Walnut Biscotti, Mini Carrot Olive Oil Cake
Take Home: Sesame Coated Bread