Who's the Baketard?

Why Baketard? Love to cook, hate to bake. Despite having gone to cooking school and working in some top kitchens, I never learned the baking side of things. I'm building my baking and photography skills, while sharing recipes that rock my world in the mean time.

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Wednesday
Jun062012

First Base Taquitos

“Tongue? GROSS!”

Seriously, this is the reaction some of my friends had when I told them what I was making this weekend. These are people who consider themselves very sophisticated eaters, game for anything. Seriously? Tongue is your line in the sand? Please—I know all of you and I KNOW you’ve had worse things in your mouth. I remember some of the trolls you used to date. Do you?

Besides, tongue is only first base. Wait'll you try my Home Run Sticky Buns.

We just got back to Seattle after a long, indulgent, much-needed vacation.  It was one of those great trips where we both had enough time to recharge our batteries and regain much-needed perspective, away from the daily stresses and frenzy of our lives. I managed to hold onto that vacation glow for about four days. After that, it was back into the whirlwind of work, friends and a catering gig I’d agreed to do months ago. Jetlag, meet two days of cooking.

Our clients wanted Mexican. We did this for them last year, and it was a success. The problem is, my catering partner and I do this as a hobby thing because it’s fun. We’ve both got some restaurant experience, we’re both good home cooks, and we’ve both graduated from culinary school…but we both have day jobs. Cooking is our passion. Catering is a fun thing to do every now and then to remind us why we’re home cooks and not professionals. "Ow, my feet! What do you mean we have to do our own dishes? Get your fat ass out of my counter space". Although we have a blast trashing a kitchen and each other for two days, it really is a lot of work. If you’re not a pro and try to do this, you probably end up like we do: Enjoying yourself but spending too much of your budget on (retail) food costs, making too much quantity, and doing too many complicated, expensive dishes like you would serve at home. Guilty, guilty annnnnnd….guilty.

All that said, we did better this time and the food rocked. At least, they acted like they were thrilled, but to be fair they had asked me to make some mean margaritas and they were REALLY mean. Abusive. My margaritas were hitters, and our diners were drunk.

We still made too much. We still spent too much on it. We could probably be more efficient. But that shit was delicious.

Back to the tongue—One of my favorite recipes is Rick Bayless’ Beef Tongue and Chorizo Tacos. He cooked this dish as one of his challenges on Top Chef Masters during the street food challenge in the first season. As someone who likes the taste of tongue (too easy—just don’t) I had to try it. Tongue is delicious, beefy, and tender when braised or boiled long enough. Ok, maybe that last sentence doesn't make it sound appealing, but it is. Really, it is. I find it slightly sweet, which really goes with all of the other flavors going on in this dish. We were blown away the first time we tried it, and since then I’ve adapted it to make my version of taquitos for parties. The tortillas are run through some warm oil to soften them enough to be pliable for rolling ahead of time. Enough oil remains in them to crisp up nicely in a blasting hot oven without being deep fried (as taquitos often are).  It’s a nice thing to have assembled and ready to throw in the oven before people show up. It’s also fun to let your guests eat them and discover how good they are before you tell them what’s inside.

By the way, this is the rest of our catering menu from the weekend. If any of the recipes look appealing, let me know and I’ll post them.

Appetizers

  • Chips, Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, Hot Chile Salsa, Mild Jalapeño Salsa
  • Beef Tongue, Potato and Chorizo Taquitos with Tomatillo Guacamole and Pickled Onions
  • Roasted Pepper Sopitos with Smokey Tomato Jalapeno Sauce 

Buffet:

  • Goat Cheese-Almond Chile Rellenos with Apricot Sauce
  • Tacos (2 types) - Al Pastor with Roasted Pineapple-Serrano Salsa, and Butternut squash with Greens and Vegetarian (snore) Mole
  • Caesar Salad
  • Mexican Rice
  • Refried Black Beans with Toasted Avocado Leaves

 Dessert:

Enjoy, and let me know if you decide to give my tongue a ride.

Beef Tongue, Chorizo and Potato Taquitos with Tomatillo Guacamole

Adapted from Rick Bayless

Makes 25 Tacos

INGREDIENTS

TAQUITOS

1 medium cow tongue, rinsed

1 pound bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 pound white onions, diced

1 pound chorizo, casing removed

1.75 pounds creamy boiling potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces

Queso anejo or cotija and cilantro (for garnish)

TOMATILLO GUACAMOLE

1 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed and quartered

2 Serrano chiles, stemmed

5 avocados, flesh scooped from skins

1 bunches cilantro, chopped, plus extra for garnish

1 large white onions, finely diced

1 large red onions, thinly sliced

25 4 1/2-inch corn tortillas

DIRECTIONS

TACOS

  1. Simmer tongue in salted water until tender (typically 3-4 hours), then cool, peel and clean cartilage, chop remainder into 1/4 inch cubes.
  2. Fry bacon until crispy, remove from pan and drain. Add onions to fat and caramelize.
  3. Separately, cook chorizo until cooked through and browned.
  4. Separately boil potatoes in salted water, drain and roughly chop into small (1/4 inch) bits. Add potatoes and chorizo to onions and cook until crusty like hash browns.
  5. Separately brown tongue in a little fat until crispy. Combine with potato-chorizo mixture. Season with salt.
  6. This filling can be made a day ahead.

GUACAMOLE

  1. Puree tomatillos and Serranos, mix into avocados, along with cilantro and onions. Sprinkle with salt.
  2. Cover red onion with very cold water. Salt generously. Let stand 10 minutes and drain.
  3. Heat about ½ inch oil in a pan (only until warm. You don’t want it so hot it starts frying) and slide tortilla into oil until softened and bubbling slightly, about 20 seconds..
  4. Remove tortilla and dab one side with paper towels. Fill the dry side with some of the tongue mixture, rolling to make a cigar shape. Place on a baking sheet, seam side down.
  5. When all of your taquitos are assembled, place the baking sheet in a 425 degree oven until golden and crispy, about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Top with guacamole, onion, queso anejo or cotija and cilantro.

 

Sunday
Apr292012

Ramacche (Prosciutto and Cheese Fritters)

I don’t think it’s a mystery to anyone how much of  a Giorgio Locatelli fanboy I am. Of my hoardish cookbook collection, his original book Made in Italy: Food and Stories remains my #1 desert-island book, and the one I most heartily recommend. I love how he writes. I love that the recipes are surprisingly simple for the most part, and convey restaurant-quality results while being targeted to the home cook. He has 8 pages on making the perfect risotto, and after reading it, you will never make risotto the same way again. (I wrote about his stuffed cabbage and nettle risotto last year. That nettle risotto is the first thing we make when the weeds hit the Farmers’ Market in the Spring.)

This past fall, his latest book, Made in Sicily came out. I was so anxious to get it in my greedy hands, I bribed a colleague in the UK (it was released there first) to buy it and shlep it to Spain with her, where we were meeting for a business trip. I could barely remember to greet her cordially before ripping it from her hands.

This book is brilliant.  As with his previous books, the recipes are clear, straightforward and unpretentious. He gives you enough of an overview of the region and ingredients for you to absorb some of the hows and whys behind the cuisine, and builds anticipation where you just have to try making the dish. I thought caponata was a ubiquitous Sicilian staple. I had no idea there were so many seasonal varieties (he provides recipes for 5 different variations, including a Christmas version).

The recipe I decided to try first was his recipe for Ramacche, which are prosciutto and cheese fritters. Giorgio’s balls are crispy on the outside, creamy and salty on the inside. They practically explode with flavor once you pop them into your mouth.

……

What? You guys are sick.

Ramacche

Prosciutto and Cheese Fritters

Serves 4

30g unsalted butter

a small pinch of salt

150g plain flour, plus more as needed

3 large eggs

150g prosciutto crudo, diced

100g caciocavallo or pecorino cheese, grated

2 tsp parsley and garlic*

sunflower oil for deep frying

*For the parsley and garlic, crush 1 clove garlic on a cutting board with the flat of your knife to make a paste. Add about 4 handfuls of flat leaf parsley and chop through the parsley and garlic to intermingle the flavors.

Put the butter and salt into a pan with 220ml of water and bring to the boil, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Put the pan back on the heat and work the mixture continuously with the spoon until it comes together in a solid ball of dough. Take off the heat again and let it cool, then put the dough into a food mixer with a paddle, add the eggs one by one and mix until they are all incorporated.

Add the prosciutto, cheese and the parsley and garlic, and continue to mix. The dough will be quite soft.

Heat several centimeters of oil in a pan (make sure the oil comes no higher than a third or the way up). It should be 180 degrees Celsius (355 degrees Farenheit). If you don’t have a thermometer, test that the oil is hot enough by dropping in a little bit of the dough. If it sizzles, the dough is ready.

Moisten a dessert spoon with water, then scoop out little mounds of dough, slide them carefully into the oil and let them fry gently for about two minutes, turning them so they are golden on both sides, and reducing the heat if they start to brown too quickly. Remove the ramacche with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper, and serve hot.

 

Wednesday
Apr182012

Chile Jam - The World's Greatest Condiment

Do you ever play the "What If" game with your friends? What if you had to lose one of your senses? Which would you give up? What if you could have passionate sex with any celebrity? Who would it be? If you could have dinner with any three famous people, dead or alive, who would they be and why? My favorite bar game called "No Option" is a riff on this game: You pick any three people in the bar, and your friends have to say who they would have sex with and why. It's called "No Option" because they can't say, "Death". You play, you answer the question and tell us WHY. Death is no option.

In my circle of food-obsessed gluttons, this game tends to quickly turn to all things culinary. If you could have only have three cookbooks, what would they be? (For me, It's Giorgio Locatelli's Made In Italy, Jerry Traunfeld's Herbfarm Cookbook, and Teage Ezard's Lotus – Asian Flavours). If you could only have one condiment for the rest of your life, what would it be?  For me, it used to be ketchup. As my palate and culinary skills grew, aioli nosed its way into the lead. Then I discovered Chile Jam. Chile Jam is a traditional thai recipe, and there are as many variations as there are for rustic curries. I've tried every chile jam recipe I can get my hands on. For my tastes none of them touch this one by Christine Manfield, an Aussie chef whose cookbooks are inspirational, inspiring and invariably put out amazing recipes that always work. (You may recognize her name, as she just won the IACP award for her newest book, Tasting India .)

Best.  Condiment.  Ever.

I’ve done in huge batches a few times. Typically, I double the recipe because it takes time, and for the investment I'd rather make a ton of it so it will last.  The first time I used serranos instead of the red birds eye chillies, because they didn’t have them at the asian market that particular day.  I also added a bit more palm sugar, which rounds out the heat more IMHO.  The second batch was with the hot thai birds eye chillies, and it is REALLY hot.  Still good, but much more punch than the first batch.  Just be forewarned.

This has depth of flavor you won't get from most condiments, because it cooks for 12 hours (sometimes I cook it up to 18 hours). The chile heat blast blends in with the sweetness of the caramelized onions and palm sugar. The tamarind adds a great tang to the mix and rounds the flavors out completely. It's a time investment, but the active time isn't too much. You just have to remember to stir it every hour or so.

I put this into any recipe calling for chile sauce, Sriracha, or just needing a kick. It's the perfect accessory for a fried egg sandwich, tossed with sautéed vegetables and one of my personal favorites — an addition to fried rice.

I've typed the recipe as it's listed in the book, which is from Australia. This is how they spell chiles down under. Don't beat me up for spelling!

If you make this, please tell me what you think. I'm certain you won't be disappointed. 

By the way, I'm curious what your favorite "What If" categories are. Share, people!

Chilli Jam:

Ingredients:

1.5 kg large red chillies, chopped

300 g red birds eye chillies, chopped

8 large brown onions, chopped

15 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 litre vegetable oil

300 ml Tamarind liquid

125 g palm sugar, divided

Blend chillies, onion, garlic and oil to a smooth paste in a food processor.  Cook paste in a wide, heave based pan over low heat until dark red – this will take up to 12 hours of continuous slow cooking and occasional stirring.  Stir in tamarind liquid and palm sugar and cook very slowly for 2 hours.  Spoon into jars, then cover with a film of oil and seal.  Refrigerate for up to 3 months.

Chile Jam ingredients at the beginning of the simmer.

Chile Jam after 12 hours, ready to put into jars.

Friday
Apr132012

Grilled Asparagus with Hazelnut Aioli and Pinot Noir Syrup

With the weather hitting 70-degrees this week (What? In Seattle? Are you insane?), teasing us with the summer we’re unlikely to get until the middle of July, I’m sick of this winter comfort food bullshit. I want morels, asparagus, outdoor drunken barbecues…and a pony. 

One of my favorite grill recipes (and absolutely my favorite asparagus recipe) is this one. Smoky grilled asparagus, rich and creamy hazelnut aioli and a tart, sweet pinot syrup. There are a million variations on this recipe today, but this is the one to which I always return.  

Yes, there are a couple of sub-recipes. Wah. They're EASY. Everything can be done well in advance, making this a perfect add to the menu when your drunk ass decides to go outside, take a chance on the sun sticking around for a few more minutes, and fire up the grill. (You can do it in a grill pan too, but that’s just douchey.)

You’re gonna love this one!

BTW, Thanks to Jackie Baisa for delaying the shoveling of asparagus into her yawning maw long enough to take the pretty pictures for me!

Grilled Asparagus with Hazelnut Aioli and Pinot Noir Syrup

Ingredients:

2 bunches asparagus, stems snapped to where tender and cleaned

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt to taste

Hazelnut Aioli (recipe follows)

Pinot Noir Syrup (recipe follows)

Preparation:

Toss asparagus in olive oil and salt to taste.  Place on well-heated grill and cook until just tender, about 3-6 minutes, depending on heat.  Place in serving bowl or individual plates.  Drizzle with Hazelnut Aioli and Pinot Noir Syrup.

For the Hazelnut Aioli:

1 shallot, minced

1 Tbsp whole grain mustard

1 Tbsp lemon juice

3 Tbsp sherry vinegar

2 oz hazelnut oil

3 oz olive oil

Salt, to taste

Hazelnuts, toasted, finely chopped, to taste

Vinaigrette will easily emulsify, so this may be made in a food processor or vigorously by hand.  Finish the sauce with finely chopped toasted hazelnuts, saving some to put over the top of asparagus when plated.

For the Pinot Noir Syrup:

1 bottle Pinot Noir, or your favorite red varietal (Note: I used my favorite local Syrah, and it was superb)

5 Tbsp sugar, preferably organic

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt sugar.  When sugar begins to turn golden, add wine.  Cook down on medium heat until syrupy.  This should take 10 minutes or so, depending on heat.  Turn sauce down when it begins to thicken because it goes very quickly from that point on.  Let cool and reserve.  This is good indefinitely.  Do not refrigerate.

 

Monday
Apr092012

Porchetta

Everyone has their Easter traditions. For us, it’s a Heathen Brunch with a combination of good food and questionable taste with regard to the themes surrounding the foods on the table. This year, I threw away the traditional ham idea and instead worked on making my first Porchetta. Porchetta is an Italian skin-on pork belly, generally wrapped around something else – sometimes a pork tenderloin, other times sausage or another savory filling. I was thrilled to see that Tasting Table published the Porchetta recipe from Olympic Provisions in Portland a couple of weeks ago. If you’ve never been to Olympic Provisions, you’re missing out. Their charcuterie is brilliant, and they have a small restaurant setup, where you can dive into more meat than you can possibly consume. This dish is one of my favorites from their repertoire, and it turned out great.

I made minimal substitutions and modifications to this recipe— First, I scored the skin to make it crispier.  Also, when I sliced and seared it Easter Morning, I simmered the maple syrup used for brushing with a few cinnamon sticks and some star anise to add a little more character. Finally, the belly I procured was only about 8lbs, so I didn’t bother cutting it into two roasts. Besides, with the sausage stuffing it’s a feat to roll the damned thing and I didn’t want to do it twice!

The measurements here are a combination of Imperial and metric, and it’s good to use a scale for the sausage prep.

Enjoy. This dish will send everyone running back for more.

Italian Sausage-Stuffed Porchetta

Executive Chef Erin Williams 

Olympic Provisions - Portland, Ore., USA

Yield: 20 servings

Cold water, 1 gal

Kosher salt, 1 C

Sugar, 1/2 C

Pork belly, 10- to 12-Lb  1 each

Olive oil, as needed

Italian sausage  4 Lb (Recipe Below)

Maple syrup (optional)  as needed

Sea salt as needed

Eggs, as needed

Toast, as needed

Instructions:

1. Combine water, salt and sugar. Submerge belly in brine, top with a weight so it stays submerged and refrigerate 24 hours.

2. Remove belly from brine, pat dry, then halve belly crosswise. For each porchetta roast, turn belly skin-side down. Pack 2 pounds sausage down middle of each belly half lengthwise and roll up tightly to form a log. Tie with butcher’s twine. Sear porchetta in olive oil until brown on all sides. Roast in a rotisserie or 375-degree F oven until internal temperature registers 135 degrees F, about 2 hours. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight.

3. To serve, slice porchetta crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Heat olive oil in a cast-iron pan. Brown porchetta on both sides until crispy and thoroughly warmed through. Glaze with maple syrup (if using), season with sea salt, and serve with eggs and toast.

 

Hey, I want some!

ITALIAN SAUSAGE     

Executive Chef Erin Williams 

Olympic Provisions - Portland, Ore., USA

Yield: 2 kg

Pork shoulder, cubed, 1360 4/5 g

Pork fatback, cubed, 583 1/5 g

Sea salt, fine, 29 1/5 g

Freshly ground black pepper, 9.7 g

Fennel seed, ground, 5 4/5 g

Chili flakes, ground, 4.9 g

Garlic, minced, 3.9 g

Oregano, dried, 3.9 g

Coriander, ground, 9.7 g

Instructions:

1. Combine pork and fatback with salt and spices and marinate overnight. Grind mixture with a coarse-grind die, transfer to a mixer fitted with paddle attachment and mix for 1 to 2 minutes until mixture feels tacky. Refrigerate until needed.

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