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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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.

Thursday
Apr052012

Inappropriate Easter Cocktails

Every Easter I channel my frustration with my fundamentalist upbringing and ultra-conservative parochial schooling by hosting a Burn-In-Hell Easter brunch. The food is always something that redeems the theme, which might leave something to be desired with those who are devout.  Any good brunch involves good drinks, and lots of them.  A couple of years ago, when soliciting ideas from friends for the right cocktails to go with inappropriate foods like Fallen Angel hair pasta, the Cheeses of Nazareth, etc. someone showed up with the makings for Rusty Nails. What’s better for an inappropriate Easter theme than a good old-fashioned Rusty Nail or two?

For those who aren’t ready to hit the hard stuff *quite* that hard in the morning, we balance it out with Bloody Mary Magdalenes.

Try these recipes for your own party—I guarantee they will satisfy. But if you laughed at this, you’re going to hell too.

I’ll post the Easter Brunch recipes this weekend, after we get a chance to test and photograph the results.

Rusty Nails

INGREDIENTS

2 ounces Scotch

1 ounce Drambuie

INSTRUCTIONS

Pour the Scotch and Drambuie over ice in a heavy old-fashioned glass, and stir.

Bloody Mary Magdalenes

INGREDIENTS

4 cups tomato juice

Juice of 2 large lemons

3 to 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

3 heaping tablespoons prepared horseradish

3 cloves garlic, passed through a garlic press

1 Tablespoon coarsely ground pepper

1 tsp hot sauce (Tabasco doesn’t pack the kick we like, so we opt for hotter sauces)

1 ½ tsp celery seeds

Unflavored vodka, to taste (for us, to taste is a LOT)

Lemon wedges, for serving

Celery sticks, pickled asparagus and hot pickled green beans for serving and munching

INSTRUCTIONS

Place tomato juice in a large container with a tight-fitting lid. Add lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, garlic, pepper, celery seeds, and hot sauce; shake vigorously. Taste, and adjust for seasoning; the mixture should be quite spicy.

Pour 1-2 parts vodka and 3 parts Bloody Mary mix over ice in a shaker. Shake well. Pour into glasses. Squeeze a wedge of lemon over drink (do not subsequently stir or shake drink), discard used wedge. Garnish with a large stick of celery (reserve extra stalks for munching), pickled green beans and asparagus and a large lemon wedge.

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