Monday, May 2, 2011


Yesterday, I went to the Asian market and picked up a dragonfruit. Why? Because it was pretty and I was curious. :P I sliced into it today, and I'd like to share my impressions with you here.

Texture: The flesh is firm, without too much juice. This is not a fruit where you're licking your fingers! The small black seeds are edible, and crunch between your teeth.

Taste: Not overly sweet. There's a hint of cucumber almost in there, or maybe a faint grassiness. However, there is some sweetness; this hits you first, followed by the "fresh" aftertaste.

Appearance: Absolutely GORGEOUS. The outside is bright fuschia, with the spikes shading from yellow to green. Inside, the flesh is light grey and opaque, dotted throughout with the tiny seeds.

And now, pictures!

The outside

Sliced open
Diced and ready for consumption in its own shell!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blood-Orange Crostatas

I'm an avid reader of TheKitchn, and recently, they posted a recipe for blood-orange crostatas. I'd spotted these lovely gems at my local Trader Joe's, so I figured I'd give the recipe a whirl.

The Cast of Characters: Sugar, Flour, Salt, Brown Sugar, Oranges, Blood Oranges, Vanilla, Mascarpone Cheese, and (not pictured) butter. Not margarine, BUTTER.

Cube 1 stick of butter, and add it to 1.5 cups of flour, and 1/2 tsp of salt. I don't have a food processor, so I used a fork. :)

Here's what it should look like. I know it doesn't look much like dough at this point, me. It will. 

See? What'd I tell ya? (This is after working it with my hands, btw.)

Now, take your mascarpone, add 1/4 tsp vanilla, and 2 tbsp sugar. Try not to lick the mascarpone container completely clean, and fail miserably. I know I did.

This is what it looks like after mixing. If you have a mixer with a whisk attachment, you can use that. 

I formed the dough into a log, and cut off pieces to form into individual pastries.

The doughball, flattened and rolled out. Apologies for the blurriness!

Mmmmmmascarpone dollop right in the center.

On top of that, lay a few slices of blood and regular orange.

Fold the edges up, then brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with brown (or raw) sugar. Pop onto a greased baking sheet, and into the oven for 35-40 minutes at 400*

Et voila! The finished product! The front-and-center one has brown sugar, while the other two do not.

 **NOTE** The original recipe has a couple of variations, such as adding almond extract, and using demerara sugar. I substituted the brown sugar, and did half with, half without.

These are great for brunch, as a snack, etc. I like mine with a bit of vanilla ice cream, or just plain. The blood oranges aren't as sweet as their more common counterparts, which I think adds a nice balance.


Friday, February 11, 2011

All Things Ducky And Delicious

OK, so I know I promised in the last post I was going to profile the Duck Pizza I made, but first I think I should at least start with the basics of roasting the duck, rendering the fat, and making the broth, as they are the basis for a lot of the other recipes to follow.

Firstly, get yourself a duck. I find mine at the local Asian market, which has ALL SORTS of awesome spices, cheap produce, and cuts of meat and seafood that you won't really find anywhere else. For example, where else can you find beef hearts and pig's tongue? I've never had either of those cuts, and I'm not sure that I have the stomach (har har) to try them. But anyhoo, back to Donald and Daffy. ;)

When you get your duck home and thawed (either overnight in the fridge or soaking in a cold-water bath in the sink), unwrap him and pull out the giblets and neck. Now, the neck can be given to your favorite canine friend as a treat to keep him out of the kitchen while you prepare the bird, or you can save it and the giblets for stock. Next, remove any pinfeathers that may be on the carcass. Usually tweezers work better than fingers in this case.

Once the bird has been devolved of any further feathers, rub him inside and out with spices (I like to use Chinese Allspice, but that's not a hard-and-fast rule). Stuff the cavity with quartered oranges and rosemary, then baste all over with hoisin sauce. Pop him into a 350-degree oven, and try not to drool for the 3-4 hours it takes for the bird to roast.

One thing I highly recommend, by the way, is to use a roasting rack. This bird will give off a LOT of fat, and we don't want the bottom to be uh, braised while the top is roasted. ;)

Once the bird is done, pull him out and LET HIM REST for a good 15-20 minutes on a cutting board. This will allow the meat to finish cooking, and pull some of the juices back into the meat. You may or may not want to let him rest depends on how hungry you are, and how willing you are to risk singed fingertips. ;)

Unfortunately, I don't have any action shots of me tearing apart the carcass, and honestly, I really don't have a "method". I just sort of go at it and slice till I have all the meat off the bones. I'll generally start by breaking off the wings and legs, slicing the breast, and then sort of working from there. One of the nice things about being the chef is that you can sample the absolutely GLORIOUSLY crispy skin and succulent meat. Seriously, I have NO idea why people stick to dry, bland turkey for holiday is where it's at!!

Now what to do with all the wonderful fat and bones? The fat's easy; just strain it through a coffee filter or paper towel, and toss it in the fridge. It'll solidify, and keep for months. It's especially good when used on potatoes, or to make kale chips (more on those later).

For the broth, I like to just toss all the bones, neck, and giblets into a big stock pot with some water, herbs and spices, (rosemary, parsley, salt and pepper usually), along with some veggies (onion, carrots, fennel, celery, whatever), and then let it simmer for about 3-4 hours. Once the stock is done, I can freeze it and use it as a substitute for chicken stock, or as a base for curry, cassoulet, etc.

I'd say for a $20 bird, I got my money's worth. ;)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ceviche and Duck!

OK, so I'd have to say the ceviche was a rousing success. It was actually stupideasy to make...I chopped up half of a tomato, some red onion, cilantro, half a jalapeno minus the seeds, and the sea bass, and combined it with both some fresh-squeezed and bottled lime juice.

After letting everything get happy for about two hours (the minimum recommended time), I definitely noticed a difference in the visual texture of the fish; it was more flaky and definitely less opaque. Now, generally I'm not a fan of cooked fish, but I don't really consider "soaking in citric acid" to be cooking. Yes, there's a change in texture and flavor, but there's also no overwhelming fish smell, nor taste.

Apologies for the lack of pictures...I don't have a proper camera, and my cellphone doesn't really do the food justice. :(

Next up, I roast a duck and make stock, render fat, and make Duck Pizza!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tasting Notes: Crispin Hard Cider-Artisinal Reserve Landsdowne

Tonight, I decreed, was a beer, pizza, and Netflix night. While I went low-brow with the pizza, hitting my local Papa John's, I went a bit more highbrow with the beverage, opting for a Crispin Hard Cider Landsdowne. Upon first sip, the first thing I noticed was that this is far, far superior to Woodchuck. There's no rush of "OMGSUGAR", and no sticky-sweet mouthfeel afterwards. Dark amber in color, the flavor of molasses really comes through in both the nose and the dry finish. Mouthfeel is clean. Definitely worth a taste, IMO.

Tomorrow, I try my hand at making ceviche with Chilean sea bass! :D

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Intro Post

This blog will mainly be to chronicle my forays into cooking. I've always been good at baking (thank you Mimi!), but frankly, the im-preciseness of cooking scared me a bit. I've grown to love *good* food over the years, and for a while, made a damned good sous chef. ;) However, I've recently started to branch out on my own, and will share my recipes, tips, triumphs, and failures here. To kick things off, I'm going to start with a few morsels:

--NOTHING gives you a rich flavor like real butter. Margarine, while a "substitute", will NOT give you the same flavor as honest-to-goodness butter.

--I am a carnivore. If you are vegetarian or vegan, I may not mock you a la Anthony Bourdain, but we may not be the best of friends.

--Sushi is <3.

--Personal food heroes include Alton Brown, Anthony Bourdain, and Ree Drummond.

--I could spend an obscene amount of time and money in Wegman's

--I don't understand molecular gastronomy. If I want a steak, I want a freakin' STEAK...not some "beef reduction in agar-agar gel". WTF people?

--More to come as I think of it. Feel free to sound off in the comments! :)