Friday, April 29, 2011

A Royal Wedding

I didn't get caught up into the whole royal wedding frenzy until yesterday. I knew I was going to bake something for the event and then I figured I could probably rig the big screen TV in our reception area at work to stream the event. Yesterday I went about figuring out when the whole she-bang was going to commence and was faced the realization that it was going to be an early morning affair...

Cut to my alarm going off at 5:30am this morning (after Kris woke me up at 4:30am thinking we had overslept....) and me frosting two cakes all the while trying to catch the first glimpse of THE dress. And while I'm not usually one to get excited for such things, it really was fun to watch such pageantry with 1 billion other people.

Princess Kate Paper Doll is kinda awesome

So why two cakes? Well one of my colleagues passed along a newsletter with a recipe for Prince William's famous groom's cake AND she happened to win a couple giant chocolate easter eggs last week, the remnants of which were still laying around the office. And I had pretty much already decided to make a Victoria Sponge cake since an old colleague from a job in London had passed her recipe along and I still hadn't tried it. Also- I saw someone decorate the top with berries to look like the Union Jack and that is just too freaking cute to pass up.

Prince William's Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Adapted from The Daily Candy
Makes enough for at least 15 people

For the cake
  • 1 box graham crackers
  • ¼ cup raisins (or more!!)
  • ¼ cup nuts, chopped (or more!)
  • 5 oz. dark chocolate
  • 5 oz. milk chocolate
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 14-oz. can condensed milk
For the frosting
  • 5 oz. dark chocolate
  • 2 tbls. butter
  • 1 tsp. milk

Start by breaking all the graham crackers into bite size pieces and putting them all in a large metal bowl. Then for good measure take a wooden spoon and smash that into the graham crackers a few times to really break everything down. Add the raisins and nuts and mix.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk chocolate, dark chocolate, butter and condensed milk, stirring frequently until melted and combined. Add the chocolate mixture to the graham cracker mixture and mix very well. The original recipe has you put the "cake batter" into a 11" X 3" lasagna dish covered with wax paper, but I think this would look much better in a cake pan or two. Whatever receptacle you choose, just be sure to first lay down a layer of wax paper. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

For the frosting, melt the remaining chocolate and milk in a small saucepan, stirring constantly until mostly melted, add the butter and continue stirring off the heat until combined. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting over and around the cake. Serve in small slices- this thing is like a giant candy bar.

Victoria Sponge Cake (a l'Americaine)
Adapted from a friend's recipe
Makes enough for about 8 people

For the cake
  • 8 oz. butter, softened
  • 8 oz. sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 8. oz self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 4 tbsp berry jam (or more to taste)
For the frosting
  • 1/2 bar of cream cheese
  • 4 oz. butter, softened
  • 1-2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • About 5 strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter and paper two 8" cake pans.

In a large bowl combine the butter, sugar, eggs, flour and baking powder. Mix well (I did this by hand and it was a cinch). Divide the batter between the two cake pans and spread the batter out evenly.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for about 10 minutes before flipping them. Allow to cool completely before spreading the jam between the two cake layers, making sure to level the cakes if needed.

For the frosting, combine the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mix and beat for about 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time until you are happy with the taste and texture. Add the vanilla once you are satisfied.

Spread the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake and decorate the top with berries. If doing the Union Jack, it's easiest to start with the strawberry halves and work outwards in sections.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lemon Pound Cake with Strawberry Coulis

To my boyfriend's family, Easter is a big deal. They all get together for a huge pot luck worthy of Christmas and just enjoy each other's company. There is an easter egg hunt where you can rack up some serious dough (especially if you find the gold or silver eggs). There is a grand prize winner. There are little girls in new easter dresses and little boys with new toys to keep them occupied.

I counted 1 dessert for every 2 people: Cherry Cheesecake, Double Chocolate Chip Cookies, Poppyseed Pound Cake, Coconut Cake, Vanilla Cupcakes, Chocolate Cupcakes, Turtles, Black Bottomed Pie Carrot Cake Cupcakes and the one I brought: Lemon Pound Cake with Strawberry Coulis.

Now I'm not going to pretend that my dessert was the best one of the bunch (shockingly, I didn't manage to try them all) but there was a buzz about the Lemon Pound Cake- people were asking for the recipe and I was assured that the accompanying strawberry sauce was good on pretty much every dessert.

And I'm not even that big a fan of pound cake- I just think it's too heavy and cloying- but this pound cake it surprisingly light, deeply lemony and not too sweet. And I should know- I've made it twice in one week.

Lemon Pound Cake
Adapted from the Boyajian website (and from the side of their box of Citrus Oils)

  • 11/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 21/2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs, beaten well
  • 3 tsp pure lemon oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the lemon oil and eggs and mix until combined. Add the sour cream, flour, baking soda and salt and mix very well. Grease a large bundt pan very well (I like Pam Baking). Place the batter in the bundt pan and cook for about 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool for at least 20 minutes before trying to flip it.

Strawberry Coulis
Adapted from

  • 16oz frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbls lemon juice
In a medium saucepan combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Make sure to stir every once and a while. Let the mixture cool a little and then either puree the mixture with a handheld blender or transfer the mixture to a blender. For an extra smooth coulis, pass the blended sauce through a fine mesh strainer or chinois. Keeps in an airtight container for about a week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Peanut Butter Truffles

The last dish I made for my extravagant (and at this point, super long) dinner was peanut butter truffles. I figured I could make this in advance and they would be the first finished dish and the least of my worries. Through no fault of their own, this did not happen. I just didn't time everything correctly and found myself coating these in chocolate the day before when I should have been preparing for a night out at the drive-in movie theatre.

But the truffles were assembled and coated in chocolate (albeit, quite sloppily) and they were well worth the extra planning. I'm not a devoted chocolate lover, but these were pretty great. The filling is sweet and salty, and the cocoa powder coating adds just a little bit of initial bitterness which plays well off the (really thick) chocolate coating.

Why yes, I did set the table with a flower theme. It's spring after all.

Peanut Butter Truffles
Adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook
Makes about 3 dozen

  • 4oz milk chocolate
  • 1 pound natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 12 tbl unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 pound bittersweet or milk chocolate
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Chop the milk chocolate into medium chunks and place in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Microwave for another 30 seconds and stir again. Repeat until the chocolate is melted. In a food processor combine the peanut butter, sugar, salt and softened butter. Blitz until smooth and airy. Add the chocolate and blitz again until smooth. Refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour.

Once the peanut butter filling is thoroughly chilled and you are ready to shape the truffles, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop the filling into balls using an ice cream scoop or just use a spoon and shape the filling with your hands. Place the balls on the baking sheet and freeze until the next step.

Melt the remaining 1 pound of chocolate in a bain marie and if you wanted to have shiny chocolate, make sure it is tempered. If you want help with this, check out the link here. If you're like me and don't really care, melt the chocolate and just try to cover the truffles before the chocolate cools too much. Since you end up coating them with cocoa powder, it doesn't really matter if your chocolate blooms. The best method I found to coat the truffles with the melted chocolate was to place the truffle filling on a fork over the chocolate bowl and spoon the chocolate over the fork. This was my first venture into truffle making and although my truffles came out a little rustic, I wouldn't let that detour you from trying these. Really quite excellent.

Keep refrigerated in an airtight container.

Don't worry mom, the champagne glasses made it back to the china cabinet safe and sound!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake with Strawberry Sorbet & Creme Fraiche Sauce

I love this desert. Thats' kinda all I have to say about it. 

OK I can probably muster up a few more words: fruity, buttery, tangy, cold & hot. Awesome. Does awesome work for you? because it works for me. The amount of work involved was really pretty minimal but the pay-off was huge. Just so frigging tasty!

I used the leftover creme fraiche sauce on top of a bowl of leftover strawberry sorbet. Then on top of a bowl of fresh strawberries. Then I just ate it by the spoon. Seriously addictive stuff.

Strawberry Shortcake with Strawberry Sorbet & Creme Fraiche Sauce
Adapted from the French Laundry Cookbook
Makes enough for 6 people 

  • 3/4 cup chopped strawberries
  • powdered sugar
To assemble:
Spoon some of the creme fraiche sauce onto a plate. Cut a biscuit in half and place the bottom half on top of the creme fraiche sauce. Top with some chopped strawberries ( as many as you can pile!). On top of the strawberries, add a quenelle of the strawberry sorbet ( or, you know, a scoop). Top the whole thing off with the top of the biscuit and dust on some powdered sugar. 

Buttermilk Biscuits
Make about 12 biscuits 
Thomas Keller's original recipe has you combine the cold butter by hand but I find that a food processor is quicker and ensures that the butter stays cold. 
  • 2 cups cake flour 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled 
  • 11/2 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet that has been doubled up with another cookie sheet so you have one on top of the other. 

In a food processor combine the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda and chunks of butter. Pulse as few times as possible to break down the butter so that the mixture looks like sand. 

Pour the mixture either onto your counter top or large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the buttermilk, gently folding it into the mixture with a wooden spoon. The mixture will not come together entirely but once the milk has been incorporated, roll (or just form) the dough into a rectangle of about 1/2 inch thick. Cut out the biscuits with a 2.5 inch round cutter. 

Bake in oven for 15-18 minutes or until they have risen and the tops are golden. 

Strawberry Sorbet
You're gonna have extra and it's gonna be great.

  • 2.5 pounds strawberries
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
Wash, hull and cut your strawberries in half. In a blender combine the strawberries, honey and sugar. Blitz until very smooth. I was surprised that Thomas Keller doesn't make you strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve- but he doesn't so- yay! Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker as per the manufacturer's instructions. 

Creme Fraiche Sauce
So delicious and easy to make. Eat the extra (if you have any) drizzled over any kind of berries. 
  • 3/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 tbl plus 1.5 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 vanilla bean
Combine the creme fraiche and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Meanwhile take your 1/4 vanilla bean and slice it in half. Using a knife, scrape the caviar inside the bean into the sauce along with the bean itself. Bring to a simmer and keep warm to serve. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Halibut with Braised Cabbage & Mustard Sauce

Like making 5 dishes out of the French Laundry Cookbook wasn't enough of a challenge, I decided that the best dish to make as the main course would be fish. I don't even really like fish. But I became a much more open-minded eater after spending 3 months in India where choice wasn't often an option in terms of what we ate that day. I can probably say that I will now happily eat shrimp, lobster and the occasional oyster but mostly when someone else makes it for me. Turning 26 was a reason to start cooking sea food for myself.

Not even knowing what Skate was, I settled on making Spotted Skate Wing with Braised Cabbage & Mustard Sauce, figuring that cabbage and mustard sauce could mask any unpleasant fishiness. Which is true unless you buy spoiled Skate Wing! Crap-on-a-stick that stuff stinks! And the worse part was that it smelled FINE until Kris went to take his FIRST BITE! So we actually, touched, cooked and plated this crap onto a sauce and cabbage. Guys, this stuff almost made it into my mouth!

Trying to be wise about buying and cooking fish for the first time, I took a good sniff at the fish counter before making my purchase and it smelled fine. Apparently a fishy smell is the first sign of a bad fishmonger. Maybe I couldn't smell anything fishy because the fish was almost all frozen. First clue? Fine, call me naive. I just don't know. The skate wing even smelled fine at my house while it was defrosting. But when Kris speared his fork into the side of the skate and pulled out a piece of flesh we were engulfed by a STRONG smell of ammonia. I could NOT believe that such a chemical smell was coming out of something natural. Maybe the skate was mistakenly dropped in a bucket of ammonia? THAT'S THE ONLY EXPLANATION!!. Maybe not... but this was the one mishap (some may say disaster) of the meal. Luckily, in anticipation of NOT finding skate wing, I had already bought some lovely halibut from Whole Foods and it saved the day.

You ready to see this? I've got some mustard sauce prep for you and that's about it.

I'm pretty sure that the mustard sauce "broke" because the butter never really emulsified with anything else- but come to think of it, the only other liquid in this sauce was 1 tablespoon of cream. and about 2 teaspoons of mustard versus 10 tablespoons of butter.

See? It just looks like melted butter with some spices whisked in. It tasted fine! In fact, the veggies we cooked in the butter before straining the sauce were delicious on their own!

The cabbage was a pretty straight forward braised cabbage recipe. Chop, sear, combine and bake for a few hours. I'm not even going to show you a picture of the skate wing disaster just in case in makes my stomach turn. Here is the hero of the day: Halibut!

I had never cooked halibut either but this was much more familiar. The fish smelled good going into the pan and coming out. It was flaky and gorgeous.

The mustard sauce was really tasty, but you can't argue with mustard and butter. The cabbage was earthy and sweet with some creaminess. I would definitely make that cabbage again. The mustard powder was easy to make and added an extra fun bonus on the plate if you wanted to punch up the flavor of a bite or two.

Overall? An eventual fish success!

Halibut with Braised Cabbage & Mustard Sauce
Serves 6

To assemble:
Pool some of the mustard sauce onto a plate. Top with about 1/4 cup braised cabbage and top with a piece of halibut. Carefully arrange 3 rays of mustard powder at the edge of the plate radiating from the fish like the SUN.

Braised Cabbage
Makes about 1 & 1/2 cup of braised cabbage.

  • 3/4 pound Red Cabbage
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tbl butter (or duck fat!)
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup finely grated granny smith apple
  • 1/4 cup veal or veggie stock
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 cup grated Russet potato

Chop the cabbage into 1/4 ribbons, making sure to remove the large white core and ribs. In a large bowl combine the cabbage with the red wine and let it rest, covered, in the fridge overnight.

The following day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large dutch oven and melt the butter. Add the red onion and toss for a few minutes until slightly softened. Add the cabbage and red wine mixture, letting it cook for another few minutes. Add the apple and veggie stock and combine. Cover and place in the oven for about 2 hours or until most of the moisture is evaporated. Add in the honey and potato and combine well. If needed, add about 1/4 cup more water or veggie stock. Return to the oven for 30-45 minutes or until the cabbage and potato are soft.

Can be stored in the fridge for 5 days.

Mustard Sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped leek
  • 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 3 tbl chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup veal stock
  • 1 tbl heavy cream
  • 10 tbl butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp grainy mustard
  • 1 tbl Brunoise
  • 2 tsp minced chives
Start off by browning the chopped leeks, mushrooms and carrots in a bit of canola oil in a saucepan. Next add your veal stock (of if you're me- veggie stock) and cook the mixture down on low heat to just a few tablespoons. You should have a thick glace. While whisking the mixture, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, adding each tablespoon of butter after the first one has fully melted. Once the butter is fully incorporated, strain it into a new saucepan. Whisk in the mustards and add the brunoise and chives. Keep the sauce warm until the plating.

Or if you're feeling lucky, you can get Spotted Skate Wing....
  • 1 1/2 pounds halibut
  • flour for dusting
Cut your fish into pieces about 2" x 3" or about 3oz per portion. Lightly dust each piece in flour. Heat about 1/8" of canola oil in a saute pan until quite hot. Dust the excess flour off your fish and place it skin side down (if you have skin) for a about 2-3 minutes. Baste the fish with the oil. Salt and pepper the top. Flip the fish to "kiss" the other side. Remove from pan and plate immediately.

Mustard Powder
  • 1 tbl black mustard seeds
  • 1 tbl yellow mustard seeds
Combine yellow and black mustard seeds in a spice grinder and grind! If you don't have a very precise or consistent grinder, trying gently shaking it up and down while carefully and strategically holding the grinder while it grinds. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Salad of Haricots Verts, Tomato Tartare & Chive Oil

Do you know how excited I am to have found a recipe that makes March tomatoes edible?! DO YOU?! I knew from the title that this dish was my going to be my thing. I am a huge tomato fan. Just love em. But I cannot stand a bad one. I won't buy anything but cherry tomatoes at the grocery store, waiting for summer to buy heirlooms and Roma tomatoes at the farmer's market. My opinion is that people who say they don't like tomatoes just haven't had a ripe one. OR they haven't had Tomato Confit. Guys- you're in for a treat.

This here is the already prepared Tomato Conft ready to be chopped into tomato tartare which you mix with some chives, shallots, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper.

The other key component is the green beans (or Haricots Verts) in a creamy red wine vinegar sauce. Tasty indeed. You whip some heavy cream over an ice bowl until slightly thickened and then add the vinegar, salt & pepper.


Ok, so I don't have many pictures of the prep involved but lemme tell you this: making the chive oil in the blender and tomato powder in the microwave (for 50 minutes) at the same time, made me think I was going to blow the house up. The cookbook doesn't warn you that you're pretty guaranteed to light the parchment paper on fire and have to anxiously watch and wait for it to die down. I watched the tomato pulp cook in the microwave for a full 15 minutes STRAIGHT before doing something else, so afraid I was of the occasional flame getting out of control.

Admiring my handy-work.

But the tomato powder and the chive oil were both well worth the effort. I maybe wouldn't recommend doing them both at the same time.

A tomato skeptic licks his plate clean.

Do I even have to tell you this was a success?? I too would have licked my plate clean, but this was my second serving (perk of cooking a meal meant for 6 for 2 people!!) and I was out of tomato tartare and hot damn, I love tomato tartare.

Salad of Haricots Verts, Tomato Tartare & Chive Oil
Adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook
The tomato confit can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for 5 days. The Chive oil can also be stored in the fridge for several days.

  • Tomato Tartare (recipe follows)
  • Chive Oil (recipe follows)
  • 6oz Green Beans (or Haricots Verts)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 & 1/2 cups Frisee lettuce
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Tomato Powder (recipe follows)

When ready to assemble:
Blanch the green beans in boiling water for a few minutes but making sure they retain their snap. In a bowl set over an ice bath, whip the heavy cream until slightly thickened. Slowly mix in the vinegar and add salt & pepper to taste. Add some of the cream mixture to the green beans and coat evenly. Add more cream if necessary. Place a 2.5" mold on your serving plate and pipe a circle of chive oil around the inside. Add about 4 tsp of tomato tartare on top of the oil, using the back of a spoon to even out the mixture in the ring mold. Remove the mold. Carefully place about 1/4 cup of greens beans on top of the tomato tartare. Dress the frisee with some olive oil, salt & pepper. Grab a small bunch of frisee and twirl it in your palm to create a bundle. Place the frisee bundle on top of the green beans. Carefully spoon a line of tomato powder on the plate and sprinkle the top of the salad with some more tomato powder.

Tomato Tartare

  • 1/2 cup Tomato Confit (recipe follows)
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp minced shallot
  • 1 tsp minced chives
  • 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Finely chop the tomato confit and mix in the shallots, chives and vinegar. Refrigerate until ready to plate.

Tomato Confit
For 1/2 cup tomato confit you need about 6 tomatoes. Can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days
  • Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Thyme sprigs
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Start by peeling the tomatoes: bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut a shallow X into the bottom of each tomato. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water until the skins start to peel back. Remove with a skimmer and place in an ice bath. Peel tomatoes completely. Cut into quarters by cutting through the stem. Remove the pulp (but reserve for tomato powder) leaving you with a sort of petal.

Place a silpat on a sturdy baking sheet. Lightly drizzle some olive oil over the silpat and sprinkle on some salt & pepper. Lay out the tomato petals, with the inside of the tomato facing down, and drizzle some more olive oil over top, finishing off with some more salt & pepper and a sprig of thyme on each petal. Bake in oven for about 2 hours or until the tomatoes are almost dried out but still retain some of their juice. Remove the thyme and scrap everything else into a Tupperware to store in the fridge.

Chive Oil
Should be stored in the fridge
  • 1 cup of chives (or one standard packet)
  • 1 cup canola oil
Chop the chives into 1 inch pieces. Place the chives in a fine mesh strainer and run under hot water for 2 minutes to remove any taste of chlorophyll. Place half of the chives into a blender and barely cover with canola oil. Turn the blender to medium for 1 minute then on high for 2 minutes. Add half of the remaining chives and blend on high for another 2 minutes, scrapping down if necessary. Add remaining chives and blend on high for 2 more minutes. Strain the mixture into a container and let sit in the fridge over night to intensify the color.

The following day, drap some doubled-over cheesecloth over a small bowl and secure the cheesecloth to the base of the bowl with a rubber band. Pour the oil over the cheesecloth and let it sit out until the oil strains through. Store the oil in a squeeze bottle and discard the rest.

Tomato Powder
Store in a airtight container

  • Tomato pulp (leftover from making tomato confit)
Finely chop the tomato pulp. I mean, really chop it as finely as possible. Place the pulp in a kitchen towel and wring out as much liquid as possible. Again, really try to wring out as much liquid as you can muster. Scatter the pulp onto some parchment paper, evenly spreading it around. Place the whole thing in your microwave and cook on LOW for 30-50 minutes. The time will vary based on how much liquid is in your tomatoes.

Be warned: most people who have attempted this have ended up with burnt/ flaming parchment paper. Although my parchment paper did flame, it never caught on fire. I got the occasional flare up (accompanied by a frightening electric fire sound) which freaked the be-jesus out of me, but I kept my feet planted in front of the microwave and my eyes zeroed in on the paper for about 10 straight minutes to make sure nothing actually caught on fire. The flame-ups progressively died down and for the last 20 minutes there weren't any at all. So my advice to you: know your microwave. If you can't or don't know how to set your machine to LOW, I would not attempt this preparation. Otherwise, try it out but keep a watchful eye (and ear) for the first 10-20 minutes.

Once the tomato pulp is completely dried out, powder it in a spice grinder. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bacon & Eggs

 This past weekend was my birthday and as my friend Anna would say- I'm now in her box.. I guess I'm still technically in my mid-twenties, but I've passed the half-way point. I wonder at what age I'll start worrying about being old. Not yet it seems! I think I struck a perfect balance between grown-up and childish fun this weekend. Saturday night was spent with the boyfriend at the Drive-In for a triple feature. We saw Rango, Source Code & The Adjustment Bureau (B, C+, B-) and made it all the way to the National Anthem at the very end. Well done us. The grown-up part of my weekend was cooking 5 courses out of The French Laundry Cookbook. The boyfriend got me the Thomas Keller box set for Christmas and it includes The French Laundry Cookbook and Ad-Hoc at Home. I figured I would cook out of the Ad-Hock cookbook (and I'm pretty sure we used his recipe for Fried Chicken when my friend Jeremy and I cooked Fried Chicken and Waffles for his birthday) but the French Laundry Cookbook was intimidating. It was going to be a coffee table book. It had beautiful pictures and some great stories, but I never really planned on cooking from it. But then I started reading the back catalog on Carol's blog: The French Laundry at Home and all of a sudden the recipes seemed feasible. Don't get me wrong, they have a lot of steps and recipes within-recipes but everything was super do-able, especially if you plan ahead. For 3 days I cooked after work every night to prepare for this meal but it was well worth it. This is some of the best food I have ever prepared and I will definitely be adding some of these dishes to my permanent rotation.

For the next few days I''m going to be posting the dishes we prepared along with adapted recipes and some photos. I want to record this meal because it was truly phenomenal. First Off: Bacon & Eggs

A few fays ahead, Kris made a brunoise which is finely chopped carrots, turnips and leeks. On the day I blanched the brunoise for about 30 seconds.

Here are some lovely quail eggs I got for cheaper than cheap- $1.48 at an Asian grocery store. 

Not so cheap Bacon ($9- what?!) But VERY TASTY bacon

"Using a serrated knife, cut through half of the quail egg at the fat end of the egg." This was much easier written then done, Mr. Keller. The first one went: cut-cut-crack-splat.

Once poached (in at least 6 inches of water) transfer the quail eggs to an ice bath, then using scissors, cut the tails off. This is when I was hoping I hadn't overcooked the little suckers. There is nothing worse than overcooked egg yolks. BLECH.

 And then you do something funny- you reheat the poached eggs in some butter with 2 tsp of Brunoise. 

To plate- add one poached egg with sauce (AKA: BUTTER) to each spoon and top with a shard of fried bacon.

Try to eat something besides Quail Eggs & Bacon for the rest of the day. We re-filled this baby twice. 
And I still have some quail eggs and bacon in the fridge! If my brother is lucky, he might get to sample this one tonight. 

Bacon & Eggs
The poached eggs can be stored in an ice bath in the fridge for 2 days. 

  • 10 Quail Eggs (+ extra in case of breakage)
  • 2 tbls white wine vinegar
  • 1-2 slices of the best Bacon you can get
  • 2 tsp Brunoise (All finely chopped: 1 part carrot, 1 part turnip, 1/2 part leek)
  • 3 tblsp Butter
  • Salt & Pepper
Thomas Keller offers this advice for cracking open the quail eggs: rest the egg on its side on a dish towel and with a serrated knife, carefully cut through half of the shell before breaking it off. Make sure to cut through the bigger end of the egg so that the yoke will easily come out. Stand the cut quail eggs in their carton until ready to use.

Bring  a pot of water to a simmer making sure the water is at least 6 inches deep. Add the white wine vinegar. Slowly tip the quail egg over so the yolk slides into the water. Let the egg poach for about 2 minutes or until the eggs whites have turned white. Retrieve with a slotted spoon and place into an ice bath. 

Fry the bacon until crispy. Let drain on paper towels. Break into shards. 

In a small saucepan slowly melt the butter and add the poached eggs to reheat. Add the brunoise and cook for a few more minutes. Season to taste. 

To assemble: on a spoon place one poached quail eggs with some butter and brunoise and top with a shard of bacon. 

We are fans.