I love those moments when you’re noodling around in the kitchen and combine a few ingredients on a whim, stumbling upon a new-to-you creation that is perfect for the task at hand. A few weeks ago I was testing recipes for a lemon tarts and was trying to come up with something tasty to serve on the side. I considered straight whipped cream, but wanted something a little thicker; I also tossed around the idea of a cream cheese icing, but that was a little too thick for this particular pastry. After digging through the refrigerator a bit, I found a half-used tub of mascarpone cheese that needed to be used in the next few days. I scanned the top shelf of the fridge and noticed a bottle of my beloved Strauss whipping cream – the best in the Bay Area, if you ask me – and thought, “How come I’ve never added mascarpone to whipped cream before?” [Read more...]
- Esterházy Rostélyos: A Hearty Hungarian Beef Recipe -
Recently, my dear friends Johanna and Andre flew off to Budapest, a place where they spend as much time as humanly possible. Though neither is actually Hungarian, Andre was raised in the area and Johanna is a fervent Hungarophile. Of course, a perfect sendoff had to involve some sort of Hungarian cooking.
I’d never actually cooked a Hungarian meal before, so to give them a proper viszontlátásra, I thought I’d give it a try. Perusing Johanna’s myriad Hungarian cookbooks was a little overwhelming; while all of the recipes are in English, all of the titles are in Hungarian and the lack of headnotes made it tough to figure out what I was getting myself into. But I’m a sucker for a culinary challenge – yup, the longer the recipe, the more excited I get – so the idea of making a recipe with a dubious outcome actually turned me on. Yeah yeah, I should look into that.
In Hungary, rostélyos is a family of dishes that involve thinly-cut steaks in a number of possible formations. The steaks can be braised, fried, stuffed, or rolled, and cooked with a series of different ingredients. The cut of beef you use is flexible – I used sirloin, though a butterfly or skirt steak would work well, as long as it’s not too fatty or too dry. If you’re not rolling your steaks, you could even use a bone-in cut, like a T-bone. The key is to pound your steaks very thin with a meat tenderizer, which will allows them to easily absorb the flavorings in the recipe.
This particular Hungarian beef recipe, esterházy rostélyos, is modified from The Cuisine of Hungary, by George Lang. It’s an incredibly rich, savory dish that originally called for a quarter pound of lard and even more cream. I lightened it up a bit (yes, this is actually the low-fat version. Heh) by swapping out some ingredients, but the end result is relatively authentic, according to Hungarophiles Johanna and Andrea – thinly-pounded sirloin steaks, braised in a savory-sweet sauce of sour cream, onions, sweet root vegetables, pork sausage and mustard. My first bite almost caused me to bounce out of my seat, and for the first time in a very long while I thought, “OMG, this is the best thing I’ve ever cooked in my life.” Even though I’m prone to hyperbole and the occasional gratuitous superlative, I wasn’t exaggerating this time. [Read more...]
This weekend, Oakland’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension hosted their annual Oakland Greek Festival. A celebration of all things Greek, the festival is a haven for Mediterranean food lovers – especially if you’re a fan of the lamby-lamb: think lamb kabobs, lamb chops, 3-pound open-faced lamb sandwiches, and a whole lamb on a spit. Clearly, if you’re at all squeamish about meat, this isn’t the place for you (sorry, vegan contingent!).
Besides the lamby-bits, there were also a wide variety of non-meaty treat. Grilled haloumi squares, honey-dipped pastry dumplings, some of the best spanakopita, and a flaming cheese dish called saganaki (seriously — stand back when they set it on fire). For those who love to cook, Saturday and Sunday were filled with countless Greek cooking demonstrations.
Friday I hit up the festival’s opening day, with my much-missed Canon 7D w/ 24-70mm 2.8 in tow (I couldn’t bring it with me to Europe because of space constraints). It was a perfect spring day of food and sunshine. Seriously, I love my life. [Read more...]
A few weeks ago, I shared my experience with Baillardran, a chain a shops in France that specialize in mass-produced canelés de Bordeaux. Since then, I’ve gotten many emails asking for the recipe that came with the copper cannelé molds I bought that day. I hunted all over the internet to find a copy of the recipe to link to, but it was nowhere to be found. After a quick call to one of the Baillardran shops, I was told that they didn’t have a problem with me posting the recipe – so, here it is in all of its glory.
Chocolate bread pudding is a wonder cure for any number of emotional ailments. Loneliness? Anxiety? Seasonal affective disorder? Check, check, and check. After spending this winter in the wilds of outer Cape Cod (Wellfleet, Mass, to be exact), I shook hands with all of these lovely feelings at one point or another, and the only thing that saved me was the fact that I had a huge kitchen at my disposal. After roasting countless chickens – my usual depression balm – I turned to my grandma’s favorite way out of an emotional hole: dessert.
This recipe is based on a bread pudding dish I posted a while back. I had almost all the necessary ingredients, but no marzipan; but while rifling through the cupboard, I found a huge bag of Valrhona chocolate chunks. What’s a sad, sad panda to do? Improvise, of course. [Read more...]
A few weeks ago I shared my chocolate peanut butter ganache recipe, which I’ve been dreaming about ever since. I’ve got all sorts of idea of what I can do with this heavenly sauce, but being the ice cream fiend I am (I get it from my father), I just had to pour this luscious melding of chocolate and peanut butter over a hot fudge sundae recipe. I mean, come on. How could I not?
While I was in Paris, visiting every bakery I could get my hands on, I was determined to get my hands of some cannelés. I’d never seen any in the Bay Area and I was intrigued by these little cake-like treats, which are cooked in very expensive copper molds (yes, you can buy silicon molds, but they don’t caramelize the outer shell of the pastry). Sure, they’re not gluten-free, but at some point I’d like to attempt to develop a gluten-free cannelé recipe – which meant I’d have to try one first-hand.