Category Archives: Eating In

Roasted Chicken Ramen Broth

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Roasted Chicken Ramen Broth

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Even though spring is (supposedly) around the corner, its been pretty frigid.  There was a blizzard of sorts here on the Northeast the other day.

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…of sorts.

What better way to warm up than a steaming bowl of soup? I was craving ramen the other day, and so I decided to try my hand at making a deep rich broth to pair with some noodles, Law and Order SVU reruns, and throw blankets.

I’ve never made ramen before, so I was a bit nervous. Everybody and their mother is making amazing ramen these days.  Would mine hold up?  I promise you, this is simple. Scary simple.  And full of flavor.  Two of my favorite things.

Ingredients:

I chicken, cut into 8 pieces

NOTE: you can buy this at the grocery store already cut up or have your butcher do it for you, or do it yourself.  Either way, we are looking for some chicken bones and trim here.

1 bunch scallions, trim reserved and whites/ greens thinly sliced for garnish

1 knob ginger, sliced (you can keep the skin on)

7 cloves garlic, smashed

3T sesame oil

soy sauce, mirin, and hoisin sauce- about 1/4 C each, to taste.

1 stalk lemongrass, bruised

4 C chicken stock

2 C water

Directions:

Trim the chicken and reserve trim meat and bones.  Whisk together soy sauce, mirin, and hoisin to taste and set on the side.

Heat sesame oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat and add chicken bones and trim, searing to get a deep brown, roasty color on all sides.  Add ginger, garlic, and scallion trim and sweat until fragrant, about a minute or two.  Add soy sauce mixture and scrape up any chicken bits that may have stuck to the bottom and cook until a bit syrupy.  Add chicken stock and water and lemongrass stalk and bring to a simmer and let reduce and flavors concentrate, about one hour.

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Strain and enjoy!

For some possible garnish, Here are some ideas:

Noodles; Lo-mein from the Asian section at the supermarket, ramen noodles for about 50 cents from any corner store, leftover cooked rice or microwave dumplings are great ideas also.

Veggies! The more the merrier, in my opinion.  I like pickled  any pickled veggie for the nice tang, radishes, arugula, kale, carrots, mushrooms.

Extra seasonings like Gochujang, Sriracha, scallions, and cilantro.

I love a poached egg as well, but who doesn’t?

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Seriously, who doesn’t?

Happy Slurping!

-L

 

 

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Adventures in Breadbaking

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Adventures in Breadbaking

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For the holidays, I have been given the best gift ever, and have a full week off from work. That’s right.  Monday to Sunday.  After years of going and going in this industry, a little time to rest is an amazing thing. Since I get bored easily, though, I decided to cook up a storm, try harder home cooking methods, and finally try tackling a project that has intimidated me as a cook: home sourdough bread baking. Using natural yeasts, of course.  I gave it my best efforts this week, and here are some things I learned:

For even more bread baking,  here is a great article from Bon Appetit on the subject.

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Tools of the trade

A good starter takes time and good ingredients:

One of my closest friends is a baker, so I am already at a huge advantage here.  Her pastries are divine, especially for someone that was trained classically savory (we studied together at culinary school).

“Always start your sour the night before, Lana, ” she pretty much yelled at me on Monday. “Don’t worry, we’ll make it together.”

Starters, or pre-ferments, are essential here.  A mix of flour and water that pulls yeast from the air, that lets the bread rise when baking.  A starter can be kept and maintained for years, as long as it is fed consistently.

She gave me the formula that I would be using this week for my starter:

12 oz water (by weight)

6 oz rye flour (organic)

6 oz bread flour

Apparently rye flour is very good at pulling yeast microbes from the air, even better than bread flour.  My friend found this information out by staging with one of the best bakers I know personally, so I think that’s an incredibly useful factoid.

She mixed it together and told me to add 6 oz each water and bread flour every 12 hours.  Further investigation on my part made me want to make this a full sour starter, so I adapted the recipe.

12 hours after the initial starter, I added 6 oz each of water and bread flour, then let the starter sit in a warm spot with a paper towel between the container and lid, for about 18 hours.

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Little bubbles of activity in the initial sour

On Day 3, I experimented using some of the sour (more on that later) for making bread. I took 8 oz each of the initial sour, bread flour, and water by weight, and mixed it together.  I tossed the rest.  At this point, it should smell like alcohol and fermentation; this is a good sign that the right bacteria has begun to eat the natural sugars in the flour.

On Day 4, feed your starter 8 oz each of water and flour, and let sit.

Day 5: your sour should be fully developed and fermenty and lovely.  Mix 8 oz of sour (discard the rest) with 16 oz of water and 24 oz of flour (rye or bread). Let sit one more day at room temperature, then you can add to the fridge; slow down process and feed 8 and 8 oz flour and water every three weeks to maintain.  You can use part of the starter at any point to make more sourdough at this point.

At this point I am still in the baby stages of my own starter, so I can only guess if I can maintain mine for some time.  Only time will tell. My friend warned me, “It’s like having a child!” and I’m inclined to take her seriously.

Now on to the main event: The Breadbaking process 

I woke up relatively early to a starter that had doubled in size, smelled like ferment and alcohol, and was bubbling happily.  So I was excited to try using it in making delicious, homemade bread.  Here’s how my day went:

I scaled down my recipe a bit, since I was only tying to make one boule (round loaf).

I added about 2 lb of bread flour to 1/2 lb of the pre-ferment, and about 1 lb 9 oz water. Mix with a stand mixer with the dough attachment for about 3 minutes on medium speed, then rest. Add salt and a tablespoon of water and mix until dough is smooth, about 2 minutes.  Then let rest at room temperature for about an hour.

After this point, it all gets very formulaic.  You want to slap your dough, and fold it in on itself so the gluten develops properly, and then let it rest for about an hour, and then do it again, but only letting the dough rest for 20 minutes the second time.

Basically, you cannot stress out the dough.  That’s the important thing here.

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I really hope he’s not panicking

Once the dough has rested for the second time, you want to pre shape and proof.  To make it easier on myself, I decided to do a boule shape; it’s large, round,  doesn’t require as much shaping practice as a skilled baker, and fits in a dutch oven beautifully.  Amazing.

One last thing I learned: Don’t have the tools? Get creative.

Who has a proofer in home nowadays (or ever)? Hardly any young cook, especially those that I know.  But the want to learn is out there, believe me.  So the only thing we can do is get creative.  Proofing bread is essential to the process; a humid environment is key to this.  So I like to shower with my food.  That’s right.  I set the bowl in the bathroom while showering; the steam released by my shower proofs the bread and helps it expand and become light and airy.

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Proofing near the shower–notice the toothpaste in the background

In that same vein, I don’t have a steamer in my traditional oven. But steaming bread is also essential to creating that light, airy texture. There are two ways to beat this: Use a stone, either fireplace or pizza, in a preheated oven.  When you add the bread, throw ice on the stone to release steam for the baking process. Open oven in last 15 minutes to create golden crust.

Also don’t forget to score your bread–helps release any pent-up steam.  I clearly need to practice my designs. Less is more.

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“artistic” slashes

Or you can use a dutch oven, covered, in the oven, to bake bread.  Uncover bread for last 15 minutes to create golden crust.

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Yay.

Final Results 

In the end, I had a pretty flat loaf.  I think I tripped up a bit with adding salt too early, and proofing a bit too soon as well.  It still tasted good, and my family was impressed with my efforts. I was too.  I t was a full day event, including resting times, proofing times, and my time spent studying up on the subject. So much was learned, most so that bread baking can elude even the best of us, so I shouldn’t feel bad that I at least produced something I can be proud of.

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…Maybe too proud of.

I also saved some starter, so ill be trying to make another loaf probably in the next couple of days, especially since I still have some time off and now I’m kinda (dough) hooked (sorry for the dad jokes, I can’t help myself sometimes). I’m definitely inspired to continue exploring this incredibly interesting niche in the cooking world.

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-L

 

 

Recipe:Stuffed Squash Blossoms

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This summer, I finally decided to tackle something that I have been either too busy, or too afraid to tackle: My very own garden.  I know it sounds silly, but I have dreamed of growing my own food for some time now.  I have to say, it has certainly been a learning experience.  What to grow, and how to grow it, and how to protect it from the environment around it is still something I am learning, and probably will be for seasons to come.

One thing my garden has been very bountiful in giving me is squash blossoms.  While my plants are hit or miss, and have produced some delicious summer squash varieties, I think my favorite thing to collect are the beautiful, golden–yellow flowers that are delicious and earthy in every way.

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This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy the blossoms: stuffed with fresh cheese and deep–fried, lightly salted, and eaten with sparkling wine.

Deep Fried Squash Blossoms

6-12 squash blossoms

2 C vegetable or other neutral, high heat oil

For the filling:

1 C ricotta (I used goat’s milk, but cow’s milk is also perfect)

2 Tbsp heavy cream

1 tbsp chopped chives

zest of 1 lemon

lemon juice, salt, pepper to taste

 

For the batter:

6 oz AP flour

3 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp salt

200 ml seltzer water

Method:

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, until bubbling, around 350 degrees F.

Whisk ingredients for batter together and set aside

mix filling ingredients, mixing together until a smooth paste forms.  fill into a pastry bag, or a ziplock bag.  Cut the tip off the pastry bag or a corner off the ziplock bag, so you are able to pipe the filling into the blossom. Try not to overfill, and close each petal around the filling so it forms a nice little pocket.

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Drop each blossom into the batter and directly into the hot oil, frying only a few at a time, about 3 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and enjoy!

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This is an amazing summer treat!

-L

 

Baking Christmas Pies

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  I don’t know about you, but 2015 flew by.  I know, i know, the old adage is that with every year time seems to move by quicker, but it is scary how that statement actually rings true.  I wish I could go back to my days when it seemed nap time would take forever to be over…but I digress, as this is not a post for reminiscence, but for looking forward to the holiday season.

I recently took a baking class at culinary school, and was not dissapointed.  My teacher, a man who could give Santa a run for his money not only in looks but in joyous personality- was also a certified master baker, and was kind enough to share some tidbits of wisdom with my class which come in handy for the holidays, including how to make pie from scratch.  It’s a lot easier than one would think- I remember before entering culinary school how I would think that it was easier just to buy store-made dough and add the filling myself- but the extra effort is well worth it.

I promise, baking your own pie from scratch will most likely impress friends and family much more than the actual effort needed to make these things. You might not even need to leave your house to obtain these ingredients. Don’t believe me? Check this out:

Pie Dough can be broken down into a simple 3-2-1:

3 lbs flour (cake flour is awesome, but AP will do as well)

2 lbs fat (butter for most standard pies, but lard or other animal fat will work for meat pies)

1 lb water by weight (don’t worry about breaking out the scale for this one: there is an old saying “a pint is a pound the world around” which chefs swear by. In other words, a pound of water is 2 cups, or a pint).

1 oz salt, as needed

This ratio will work if you scale it up or down.  Not sure how much to make? I’ve got another formula to make your life easier:

You will need about 1 oz of dough for every inch in diameter of your pie tin.

So a 9 in diameter pie tin uses about 9 oz, or a little over a half pound, of dough. (I promise, the fanciness that surrounds chefs is all formula memorization and application in the proper circumstances).

Method:

So once you have your dough ingredients, all you have to do is mix them.  For a flakier crust, cut the butter cold into manageable cubes and let mix with the flour in a stand mixer until the mixture has combined into small pebble-like portions.

Then add the water, ice cold, and mix for another 6 seconds.  Seriously, don’t over mix this, or you will have tougher dough than anticipated.

Let this dough chill in the fridge for at least an hour. 

Roll the pie dough out to a 1/4 in thickness, and drape over pie tin. Then add the filling.

My favorite pie to make for the holiday season? 

 Berry pies. Easy, simple, and delicious, using fresh or frozen berries is appropriate. Another simple ratio to remember, this time for the filling:

1.5 lbs berries, fresh or frozen

1 lb sugar 

1 oz cornstarch

Feel free to add fun flavor combos.. For instance, I love to put thinly sliced lemon with my blueberry pies, or elderflower syrup with strawberries. 

You can throw a top piece of dough on your pie to keep the berries in.There will be a lot. 

  
I like to egg wash my dough and sprinkle a little turbanado sugar on top. Bake your pie in the oven at 375 for an hour, or until golden brown. The pie will drop fruit juice, so I would cook on a tray with some parchment paper underneath. 

Take out your pie and let chill before slicing and serving. Then gobble that thing up before your family members get at it. 

  
Happy Holidays!

-L

Recipe: Easy Salmon Tartare

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Recently, I came into some possession of salmon belly trim (trim is usually pretty awesome and cheap ya know), and I hate wasted food. I decided to make something real quick, easy, and perfect for the (finally) warming weather. The diced trim was just mixed with whatever I had on hand at home- just simply dressed with some mustard, oil,capers, and fresh herbs. Since the fish is kept raw, it’s important to use very fresh fish. Also, tartare just sounds inherently fancy, so if you’re cooking for more than one- or even just one, as I made this for myself and still felt pretty fancy- it’s sure to impress.

Yields about a cup, which is a perfect size for a few as an app or a decent sized snack if you’re me (the aforementioned “just one”).

Ingredients
Salmon belly trim, very fresh, about 1/2 lb, trimmed of skin, pin bones picked, and diced into small pieces [$5]
Note: try and keep the salmon cold as you’re cutting, it makes it easier to cut!
Parsley, about 3 tbsp, rough chop
Lemon zest, 1 tbsp
Stone ground mustard 1 tbsp
Handful or so of capers, chopped,
Dill, handful, picked.
Olive oil, salt, pepper to taste.

Directions
Mix all ingredients except dill in a bowl to taste. The condiments should be added a little at a time, so the fish isn’t overpowered. Finish with more olive oil and dill. Serve with crackers and enjoy!

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Also, Game of Thrones starts tomorrow guys. National sibling day was yesterday. Coincidence?

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I think not.
-L

Riesling Poached Pears

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Now, I’m no baker, but I love dessert. It seems like a meal isn’t complete without a little something sweet at the end. Eventually I want to learn how to make a chocolate tart, soufflé, or something else that’s sweet and fancy, but that’s a question for my friends in the baking program at school.
In the meantime, this is a great dessert for those who want something quick, tasty, and maybe even a little boozy? Booze is a natural pairing with dessert (or any course), and these pears, poached lightly in Riesling, are an utterly scrumptious way to end a meal. I made these for my mother’s birthday, and she loved them, and we decided to save the leftover poaching liquid to use this spring experimenting with cocktails. See, everybody wins.

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Ingredients
1 bottle sweet Riesling [i used some wine I got for $5 at Trader Joe’s]
2 cups sugar [$2]
1 lemon [$1]
5 pears [$5]

Directions
Peel and core the pears using a peeler and melon baller, respectively. Add wine to a pot with lemon peel, the sugar, and enough water to cover the pears. Bring to a simmer and add the pears to the liquid.
The pears should be covered with parchment paper or a lid that will ensure they do not float in the liquid. They must be submerged. I used a lid that was a little smaller than the opening of the pot so it could sit snugly on top of the pears and push them slightly down.
Poach the pears until tender, about 30-40 minutes. Test done ness with a knife inserted into the flesh.
When the pears are tender, let cool slightly in the liquid. Pears can be stored in the poaching liquid until ready to serve, or for up to a few weeks. They only increase in flavor.
When ready to serve, cut pears in half and take a 1/2 cup of the poaching liquid in a saucepan and reduce to a syrup. Top pears with the syrup and whipped cream, if desired.

Enjoy!
-L

Some Favorites for the Holidays

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My favorite holiday is tomorrow.
Yes, it’s thanksgiving. I don’t think anyone is surprised. I know it has some pretty sketchy roots, but I just love the idea of a holiday that celebrates eating and drinking. I’m also off from school for a few days, giving me time to relax and restore a little. I’m quite happy.
A friend asked me last week if I would be writing about thanksgiving, and while I have been so busy I haven’t had much time to cook outside of school (see previous post), I’m always on the lookout for cool holiday recipes. I’ve found a few from some of my favorite blogs. Thought I’d share.
So I love turkey, but sometimes cooking a whole bird can be a little much, if you’re not having a big gathering, or turkey can be easy to overcook. When I have my first thanksgiving away from home, I’ll probably make something like this instead:

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That’s a turkey roulade from No Spoon Necessary , and I think it’s a great way to have turkey and stuffing but save on time and wasting product (I feel like the turkey usually sits in the fridge til Christmas).
I love potatoes, and Jody Adams (of Rialto and Trade in Boston) does them serious justice in her blog, The Garum Factory. The blog is shot by her husband and features incredible striking shots of food. These potatoes are sliced thin and baked with onions and topped with cheese.

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Thanksgiving is anything without cranberry sauce. I found this incredible recipe on Chocolate and Marrow that uses Pinot Noir, which just happens to be my favorite wine. Coincidence? I think not.

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The holidays would be just another day without something sweet to finish the meal. I couldn’t decide between pumpkin cheesecake bars from Serena Bakes Simply from Scratch and butterscotch pudding from Chocolate and Marrow, so here’s both.

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Don’t forget something to wash it all down. Thanks, BuzzFeed.

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These recipes can inspire for some delicious additions to this years table, or just upgrade classic recipes.
Happy Holidays!
-L