March 31, 2014
With beef prices up 80% (chuck roast) over the last few years, my family has been eating a lot more alternatives. So I was excited to try this new recipe (May/June 2014), even though it is still too early for grilling. The recipe uses 2 pork tenderloins (ubiquitously sold in packages of two) to create 4 steaks. The steaks are then pounded flat, soaked in a marinade and grilled for about 15 minutes. Half the marinade is used as the base for a delicious sauce. The sauce is perfect; very bright, flavorful and balanced. My execution of the grilling portion of the recipe was slightly flawed (as I will describe below). But even with my shortcomings, the results were amazing. A perfect 5-star recipe. This is the top 2014 recipe (so far).
Grilled pork with a perfect sauce
Issues / Comment:
- The instructions to cut tenderloins crosswise weren’t completely clear to me. I almost cut them lengthwise, but that didn’t make sense to me. The idea is to cut the tenderloins so that they are half the total length. You want short, fat steaks, not long skinny ones.
- As I mentioned above, I had a few grilling issues. First, it was raining heavily as I headed out to my grill. So instead of grilling uncovered in Step 6, I grill with the steaks covered (so I didn’t need to move to the cooler side of the grill). Second, I had run out of briquettes and had to use only lump charcoal. Because lump charcoal burns hotter it should not have been a problem, but I allowed it too much time to ignite and lost some of it’s charring power. Instead of attaining the desired 140-degrees, I ended up with 155-degrees. But still, these were minor blemishes which were completely covered up by the strength of the sauce. I cannot emphasize enough how perfectly conceived is this sauce.
- My supermarket sells 10 different flavors of enhanced pork tenderloins for $9, which I have never cooked and never will. In contrast they stock very few un-enhanced pork. My guess is that it has to do with profit-margins.
- If you are using a gas grill, Chris Kimball says to turn all burners to high heat, cover, and pre-heat for 15 minutes. When cooking leave only the primary burner on.
Rating: 5 stars.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Low/Medium.
Start time 4:15 PM. Ready at 6:00 PM.
Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare the meal today are given below:
2 (1-pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed
2 limes; zested and squeezed
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons fish sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Flake sea salt (or Kosher Salt)
- Trim tenderloins and remove silver-skin. Use sharp knife to cut both tenderloins in half crosswise which will create 4 individual, half-length steaks. Use a meat pounded to flatten each half to 3/4″ thickness. Cut 1/8”-deep slits spaced 1/2″ apart in crosshatch pattern on both sides of all the steaks.
- In a large bowl, whisk together lime zest and juice from 2 limes (1 tablespoon grated lime zest plus 1/4 cup juice), 4 garlic cloves garlic, 4 teaspoons honey, 2 teaspoons fish sauce, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. While whisking, slowly drizzle 1/2 cup vegetable oil into lime mixture until it slightly thickens and becomes smooth.
- Measure out 1/2 cup lime mixture into small, microwavable bowl, and whisk in 4 teaspoons mayonnaise; set aside sauce.
- Add steaks to the large bowl with remaining marinade and toss thoroughly to coat. Empty steaks and marinade into large, gallon-sized zip-lock bag. Press out as much air as possible, then seal the bag. Let steaks stand at room temperature for 45 minutes.
- For your charcoal grill, fully open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). After about 20 minutes when top coals become partly covered with ash, empty evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and completely open top vent. Allow grill to pre-heat for 5 minutes, then clean and oil cooking grate. (especially important as this was my grills first use in 2014)
- Remove steaks from bag, but do NOT pat dry. Cook, uncovered, over hot-side of grill for 3 to 4 minutes until becomes well-browned. Flip and cook continue cooking the second side for another 3 to 4 minutes until becomes well-browned. Move steaks to the cooler side of the grill, arranging so that the wider end of each steak facing hotter part of grill. Cover grill and cook for 3 to 8 minutes longer (remove steaks as their internal temperature reaches 140 degrees).
- Allow steaks to rest on a carving for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile microwave sauce for 15 to 30 seconds until warm, and stir in chopped cilantro.
- Slice steaks against grain into 1/2″ thick slices. Drizzle with half the sauce, and sprinkle with sea salt. Passing the remaining sauce separately.
First BBQ of the season
March 28, 2014
While Chris Kimball has a tendency to claim every one of his recipes is the best ever, I nevertheless wanted to investigate his latest claim that this recipe will render “perfect” poached chicken breasts. I remember he tried a something technique about 2 years ago (see here). The bottom-line is a little better than 2 years ago; the chicken is perfectly cooked and moist. His new technique use a vegetable steam to elevate the chicken from the hot pans bottom helps cook the chicken even more evenly. But my main complaint is the same as before. I care more about better flavor than perfect texture, and the lack of any carmalization whatsoever leaves a lackluster result. I paired the chicken with a delicious Cumin-Cilantro Yogurt Sauce; he also has a warm tomato-ginger vinaigrette; but leaving all the flavoring to the sauce makes this recipe just 3-1/2 stars. Still perfectly enjoyable, but coming up short.
Tasted better than the cell phone photo appears
I think that this recipe would be better if you quickly browned the chicken in a skillet before poaching. You can later use that same skillet to make your sauce, and use the sauteing of the shallot to build even more flavor.
Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Ready at 6:15 PM.
Chris Kimball’s original chicken recipe is here, and the sauce recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare them are given below:
Perfect Poached Chicken Breasts
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6- to 8-ounce each)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons sugar
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- Trim chicken breasts, cover with plastic wrap and use a meat pounder to gently pound the thick ends until measures 3/4″ thick.
- Add 4 quarts water to Dutch oven, adding 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup salt, 2 tablespoons sugar. Whisk until salt and sugar are dissolved. Peel and smash garlic and add to pot.
- Put steamer basket into Dutch oven, which will prevent the chicken from touching to hot bottom. Submerge chicken with skin-side up, arranging so as to not overlap the chicken. Allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Place Dutch oven over medium burner, occasionally stirring liquid to ensure even heating, for 15 to 20 minutes until the water measures 175-degrees. Remove your pot from burner, cover, and allow to sit for 18 to 22 minutes until the chicken registers 160-degrees.
- Allow chicken to rest of a cutting board for 5 minutes, covered tightly with aluminum foil.
- Meanwhile make your sauce according to the recipe below.
- After resting, slice chicken on bias into 1/4″-thick slices, set onto serving platter, cover with sauce, and serve.
Cumin-Cilantro Yogurt Sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon lime juice
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Mince shallot and garlic. Chop 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro.
- Place a small skillet over medium burner, and heat 1 tablespoon olive oil until it begins to shimmer.
- Saute shallot for 2 minutes, then add in minced garlic, cumin, and red pepper flakes and continue sauteing for 30 more seconds.
- Remove pan from heat and whisk in yogurt, water, lime juice, and another 1 tablespoon oil.
- Adjust salt and pepper according to your taste.
- Cover to keep warm until ready to serve, but stir in cilantro just prior to serving.
March 21, 2014
When I first read that Chris Kimball had a recipe for grilled cheese sandwiches, I thought he had gone off the deep end. Next he’ll be telling me the best method for pouring a bowl of breakfast cereal. But then I watched the episode of America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) where they interviewed people who were obviously just as skeptical as I was about using a recipe for grilled cheese sandwiches. Per the recipe, I found cheddar that was aged for one year (heading the advice to avoid cheddar aged for longer; as it won’t melt well). Of course the Brie was easier to track down. While the recipe doesn’t take much more time, ATK claimed 5 extra minutes, it does make a considerably mess (food processor, bowl, sheet pan and wire rack). I was not expecting these grilled cheese to have a classic flavor profile, but I was slightly disappointed that it failed to impress me. The flavors were different, but not necessarily better. The shallot and wine seemed a bit out-of-place. I liked the more expensive cheese, but the cheese slightly separated and oozed out too much. 3-1/2 stars.
Much ado about nothing
Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $6 for 4 sandwiches.
How much work? Low/Medium
How big of a mess? Medium.
Started: 1pm. Ready: 1:45pm.
Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I cooked it today are given below:
7-oz cheddar cheese (aged up to 1 year)
2-oz Brie cheese
2 tablespoons dry white wine or vermouth
1/2 shallot (4 teaspoons minced)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
8 slices hearty white sandwich bread
- Either leave your cheddar and butter out on counter-top until it reaches room temperature or microwave for 30 seconds. Cut cheddar into 24 equal pieces. Cut away and discard rind from Brie. Mince your shallot.
- Add cheddar cubes, Brie and wine into food processor and process for about 25 seconds until forms a smooth paste. Add minced shallot and pulse 3 to 5 times until combined.
- Use a rubber spatula to combine the butter and mustard in small bowl.
- Line your counter-top with 18″ of parchment or wax paper. Evenly spread mustard/butter over 1 side of all 8 slices of bread.
- Flip 4 of the slices so that the buttered side faces down, and use your spatula/knife to evenly spread the cheese over the 4 slices. Close your sandwiches with the remaining 4 slices of bread.
- Place a 12″ non-stick skillet over medium burner and pre-heat for 2 minutes. You can test by flicking drops of water into pan and they should sizzle.
- Reduce burner to medium-low, and cook 2 or 3 sandwiches at a time. Cook for 6 to 9 minutes, occasionally moving the sandwiches to ensure they brown evenly. Flip sandwiches and brown for another 6 to 9 minutes.
- Remove sandwiches from skillet and allow to sit for 2 minutes before serving. The first sandwiches can be held in a 200-degree oven on a wire rack set in a baking sheet.
Process cheese into paste
I was able to cook 3 at a time
March 15, 2014
I’ve been making ice cream cakes for my sons’ birthdays for the past 4 years. Each year I learn something new, and this post represents my cumulative knowledge. This year I incorporated cookie dough into the cake, not only including chunks of cookie dough into the ice cream, but also including an entire layer of solid cookie dough sandwiched between two layers of ice cream. The theory of the cake was genius, lol, but the theory turned out to be better than the execution. I now realize that regular cookie dough turns much too hard when frozen. This post does not contain the secret to retained dough-like consistency at ice cream temperatures. I suspect it is a combination of, (1) reducing the flour, (2) adding heavy cream, (3) switching some of the butter for oil. I will keep you posted when I find the answer.
Cookie Dough Ice Cream Cake
While the details are below in the recipe section, I also wanted to give a high-level overview to help plan the multi-day project. A two-level cake takes at least 3-to-4 days, and a three-level cake takes between 6-to-7 days. This is because most modern home ice cream machines require 2-to-3 days between batches. The sleeve needs to freeze-solid, which recharges the machines ability to freeze the custard into ice cream.
- Day #1, is certainly the longest day, requiring about 3 hours. First make the cookie dough, and pat out into a thick 9″-to-10″ disk; wrap in plastic and refrigerate. After washing your bowls, make the first batch of ice cream. Prepare you custard and while it is chilling, use a rolling-pin to flatten your cookie dough, then invert your springform pan and press down to mark the required shape, and cut using a paring knife. Freeze the cookie dough disk, and break the trimmings into small chunks; freezing the chunks as well. Process the custard in your ice cream machine, adding half the frozen cookie dough chunks in the last 5 minutes of processing.
- Day #3 also takes about 3 hours, but requires much less work. This is just a straight ice cream day. Prepare you custard, chill it down, process, adding the frozen cookie dough chunks in the last 5 minutes of processing.
- Day #4 or 5. Frost the cake using 1 bottle of Magic Shell.
Lessons learned about making ice cream cakes:
- The secret to making spectacular ice cream is two-fold: (1) reduce the amount of water as much as possible; e.g. only egg yolks, never egg whites, and (2) increase the fat content. That’s the “secret” of Haagan-Dazs. Really, it’s no secret. Just look at the nutritional information on the side of the package; 18 grams of fat per 1/2 cup serving, compared to an industry standard closer to 7 to 8 grams.
- Leave your cake uncovered in the freezer for no more that 2 minutes. Any longer and you run the risk of ice particles marring your week-long project. The plastic wrap should be right up against the cake with as little air as possible between the cake and plastic wrap. By the way, the more you open your freezer door the more moisture will enter your freezer and the more protection your cake will need.
- Complete the illusion of a real cake by making a slight dome of the final layer.
- Use a spring-form pan to shape the cake. Layering each batch of ice cream by lightly pressing into an even layer. Run a paring knife along the sides to make it easier to remove.
- If you plan to move the cake from the spring-form-pan-disk, then put a disc of parchment at the bottom of the pan before the first layer of ice cream. I put the disk in this time. but ended up keeping in on the spring-form-pan-disk.
- While the cake cost me just $10, that’s because quarts of heavy cream went on sale for 1/2 price. I was able to buy 1/2 gallon of heavy cream for just $4.80 of which I used 1-1/2 quarts for this cake.
- I topped the cake with Magic Shell to simulate the icing. Next time I want to work out an improved version that will provide a nicer finish. Plus the magic shell is rather expensive ($5.50 for two bottles) and the finished coating is too thin.
- If using Magic Shell be sure to warm and shake exceptionally well. The trick to applying icing to the sides is to hold your rubber spatula against the side of the cake, squeeze a little Magic Shell between the cake and the spatula and work it upwards to form an even coating. It takes a little practice.
- As written, Chris Kimball’s instructions require 1 large and 3 medium mixing bowls. I’ve reworked the logistics of making the chocolate ice cream because I only have 1 large and 1 medium mixing bowl; the small bowl in step 4 can be any small bowl.
Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
How much work? Medium
How big of a mess? Large but spread over many days.
Started: Monday. Ready: Saturday.
2-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (11-1/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1-3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3-3/4 ounces)
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5-1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1-1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (8 ounces)
- To reduce the risk of salmonella, bring a pan of water up to a boil. Add cold eggs to boiling water for a scant 30 seconds.
- Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
- Add 14 tablespoons butter to large heatproof bowl and melt/soften in microwave for 1m25s.
- Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and the extra yolk, then whisk for 30 seconds until smooth until no limps of sugar remain. Allow mixture to sit for 3 minutes, then whisk again for another 30 seconds. Repeat the resting/whisking two times more.
- Use a wooden spoon to combine flour mixture for 1 minute until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips ensuring that no pockets of flour remain.
- Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes so that dough becomes stiffer.
- Empty dough out onto a large cutting board. Use a rolling-pin to flatten into a large 10″-to-11″ circle. Overturn your springform pan and push into cookie dough, which will mark the correct circumference. Use a paring knife to cut away the extra dough, leaving a perfect circle.
- Use a large knife to separate the dough from the cutting board. Break the cookie dough trimmings into at least 40 pieces.
- Cover both disk and trimmings with plastic wrap and freeze until ready to use.
Cut to correct size
Use overturned cake pan to cut to correct size
Roll out cookie dough
Chocolate Cookie Dough Ice Cream (Layer 1):
8-oz dark chocolate
1-1/4 cups whole milk (10 oz)
1-1/2 cups heavy cream (11-1/2 oz)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Prepare a large bowl of ice water; to be used as an ice bath after removing from stove-top in step 8. Put your springform pan into the freezer. If you don’t want to serve the final cake on the bottom disk of your springform pan, then cut a piece of parchment and line the bottom of your pan.
- Put a medium heat-proof bowl over a pan of nearly-simmering water. Break your chocolate into large chunks and melt completely while occasionally stirring. Allow to partially cool.
- Add milk, heavy cream, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar to medium saucepan. Warm over medium heat for 5 minutes until the mixture reaches 160°; stir occasionally to ensure that the sugar completely dissolves. Remove pan from heat until Step 6 to prevent the milk from boiling.
- Meanwhile in a small bowl, beat the yolks together with 1/4 cup sugar. Add the eggs to the melted chocolate and mix until well combined.
- Temper the yolks by whisking in 1/2 cup of the warmed milk/cream. Then whisk in a second 1/2 cup to further temper.
- Add the milk/yolk/chocolate mixture back in with the milk in the saucepan. Cook over medium burner until the mixture reaches180°; stir constantly with heat-proof spatula. Cooking too long will scramble your eggs.
- While the mixture heats up, wash your medium bowl and place it in ice batch, and get your strainer handy.
- When the mixture reaches 180°, immediately strain your mixture into the medium bowl. The ice batch will allow the mixture to cool to room temperature quickly; stirring occasionally will help it cool. Add vanilla extract, cover, and freeze for 1 hour. Be sure the mixture is below 38°.
- Add mix into the ice cream machine’s canister. Churn for 35 minutes, or per manufacturer’s instruction. With about 5 minutes remaining, add half your froze cookie dough chunks so that they become evenly distributed.
- Empty finished ice cream in springform pan. Scrape out as much as possible using a rubber spatula. Work to evenly smooth out ice cream. Cover with plastic wrap and use the bottom of a metal 1-cup measuring cup to work into a smooth, even layer.
- Add frozen cookie dough disk on top of ice cream. Cover with a clean sheet of plastic wrap and gently press dough into ice cream. Freeze for 3 days until ready to add the next layer.
Two layers down, one to go
Cookie Dough Ice Cream:
2 Cup heavy cream (1 pint)
1-1/2 whole milk
1/2 cup ground coffee or espresso beans.
1-1/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
2 teaspoon vanilla.
- Prepare a large bowl of ice water; to be used as an ice bath after removing cream from stove-top.
- Add heavy cream, milk, coffee grounds and 1 cup sugar to medium saucepan. Warm over medium heat for 5 minutes until the mixture reaches 160°; stir occasionally to ensure that the sugar completely dissolves. Temporarily remove pan from heat to prevent the milk from boiling.
- Meanwhile in a small bowl, beat the yolks together with 1/4 cup sugar. Be sure not to let the egg yolks and sugar sit for any length of time; after 5 minutes the combination will get hard. Temper the yolks by whisking in 1/2 cup of the 160° cream. Then whisk in a second 1/2 cup to further temper.
- Add the yolk mixture back in with the cream/coffee in the saucepan. Cook over medium burner until the mixture reaches180°; stir constantly with heat-proof spatula. Cooking too long will scramble your eggs.
- While the mixture heats up, wash your medium bowl and place it in ice batch, and get your strainer handy.
- When the mixture reaches 180°, immediately strain your mixture into the medium bowl. Wash the strainer and then strain the mixture two more times to remove as much of the grounds as possible.
- The ice batch will allow the mixture to cool to room temperature quickly; stirring occasionally will help it cool. Add vanilla extract, cover, refrigerate for 3 hours. Alternatively freeze for 1 hour; just be sure it’s below 40°.
- Add mix into the ice cream machine’s canister. Churn for 30 minutes or how ever long your ice cream machine recommends. If this were not part of a cake recipe, while ice cream churns, I would normally pre-freeze a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and the ice cream’s final container/bowl.
- Empty into spring-form pan (or spread in thin, even layer of pre-chilled baking sheet). Cover with plastic wrap, making sure to leave as little air as possible, and freeze for 2 to 2-1/2 hours before serving.
There is a layer of cookie dough between the chocolate and coffee
March 8, 2014
I was preparing a big French meal for my son’s 15th Birthday Party, and came across this recipe for gougères. They are a classic French cheese puff. I didn’t use the traditional $18/lb Gruyère, instead opted for a $5/lb Jarlsberg. While I have never even heard of them before, so wasn’t sure how they are supposed to taste, they turned out delicious and kept my guests satisfied while the kids ate their dinner. 4-stars.
Serve while still warm
- If not using immediately, transfer paste to medium bowl, press sheet of plastic wrap that has been sprayed lightly with non-stick cooking spray directly on surface, and store at room temperature for up to 2 hours.)
- After cooling, Gougères can be stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Or you can freeze them in zip-lock bag for up to 1 month. However, they are best served warm, so crisp room-temperature gougères in 300-degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes; or crisp frozen gougères for 8 to 10 minutes.
- I didn’t have a plain tip; only a star-tip for making churros. But I was able to smooth them out using the back of a wet spoon technique in Step 7. If you don’t have a piping bag, you can use about 1 tablespoon of dough for each gougère , dropping the dough from a spoon onto baking sheet.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Dinner time 6:00 PM.
Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared them today are given below:
2 large eggs, plus 1 extra egg white
6 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (2 1/2 ounces), sifted
3 ounces Gruyère, Emmentaler, or Swiss cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
Pinch cayenne pepper
- Allow butter to soften on the counter-top and cut into 10 pieces. In a Pyrex measuring cup, use a fork to beat eggs and whites. Discard any extra beyond 1/2 cup. Set aside. Spray large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray, then line with parchment paper; set aside for Step 7.
- Add water, butter, milk, and salt to small saucepan set over medium burner. Stir a few times while it is coming up to a boil; about 5 minutes. By the time it reaches a full boil the butter should be melted; immediately remove the pan from heat and use a heat-proof spatula to stir in the flour.
- Turn down the burner to low, and cook for 3 minutes; constantly stirring using a smearing motion. The mixture will become shiny; like wet sand; and small beads of fat should appear on the bottom of the pan. The temperature of the paste will be between 175-and-180 degrees.
- Immediately empty the paste into the bowl of a food processor and process for 10 seconds with the feed tube open; which will slightly cool the mixture. With the food processor running, gradually pour the eggs through the open feed tube in a steady stream. After you’ve added all the eggs, use a spatula to scrape down the sides and add shredded cheese and your pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Process for 30 seconds. You should be left with a thick, sticky paste.
- Put a 1/2″ plain tip on a large pastry bag. Fold down the top about 1/3 of the way to form a cuff. Add the paste as far down into the pastry bag as you can. Unfold the cuff, lay it flat on the counter-top and push the paste towards the tip.
- Twist the top of the bag to pipe the paste onto parchment-lined baking sheet into 15 to 16 two-inch mounds. Dip the back of a spoon in cold water to even and smooth the mounds.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 425-degrees, then (without opening the oven door) reduce to 375-degrees. Continue baking for 12 to 14 minutes, until they become golden brown.
- Remove from oven and use a paring knife to cut a 3/4″ slit into the side of each puff. This will release any steam.
- Turn off the oven, return puffs to oven, and prop the door open using a wooden spoon. Allow to sit in warm oven for 10 minutes, before moving to a wire rack. Serve while still warm.
Forms a shiny paste