Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's Been a Long Time

It sure has been a long time since I put anything on here.  I've been very busy with school, getting a new job, and lots of eating.  Anyway, we are both semi-sick, so I wanted to make some chicken soup to make us better.  I had a chicken carcass laying around the house (don't we all?) from some Tarragon Chicken that I recently made, so I figured I could make it from scratch.  I've never made chicken soup before, let alone from scratch, so I kind of winged it...and it turned out awesome.  I like my chicken soup extra peppery, so if you don't, then cut back the pepper.  Also, tonight we are going to go to the best bar in the world, The Aviary (955 W. Fulton), so I can get the gin Rooibos tea drink to make myself even less sick.  Here is the recipe for the soup.  For the chicken stock portion, you don't have to worry about peeling any of the veggies or finely dicing them since they all get strained out in the end.

Chicken Stock
1 chicken carcass, chopped into 8 pieces
1 onion, halved
3 carrots, larged diced
3 stalks celery, larged diced
5 cloves garlic, smashed, skin on
1 turnip, quartered
1 parsnip, large diced
7 sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
1 tspn parsley leaves
1/2 tspn black pepper
olive oil

1.  Film the bottom of a large pot with olive oil and heat it over medium high heat until hot.  Put the chicken carcass pieces in the pot and let them brown, then flip them.  Skip this step if the carcass came from a roasted, as opposed to raw, chicken.

2.  Toss all the other ingredients into the pot and cover with cold water by about an inch and a half .  Bring up to a strong simmer, then lower heat to maintain at a bare simmer.

3.  Let it cook and reduce for 5 hours, skimming the scum that rises to the top.

4.  After 5 hours, it should have reduced by about 1/4 and turned to a deep amber color.  Strain the stock into another pot and heat up again to a simmer.  If it is cloudy, drop 2 egg whites into it and let them rise to the top, then skim them out.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

5.  There will be a layer of fat on the top.  Carefully skim it off and throw it away.  In the end you will have about a quart and a half of stock.

Chicken Soup
1.5 quarts of chicken stock
2 chicken breasts, browned on outside, cubed (can still be uncooked in center)
3 carrots, peeled and finely diced
3 stalks celery, finely diced
leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme
5 drops Thai fish sauce
2 cups rigatoni, cooked (or whatever other noodle you want)
1/2 tspn white wine vinegar
kosher salt
pepper, lots of pepper

1.  Bring stock to a simmer.  Put the chicken breast in the stock to finish cooking for about 10 minutes.
2.  After 4 minutes of the chicken cooking, add in the carrots, celery, and fish sauce.
3.  After 10 minutes taste the soup.  It will definitely need salt since you have not put in any yet, so salt to taste.  There is also very little acidity, so add the white wine vinegar.  I also love very peppery soup, so I add lots of pepper, you can add less if you want.
4.  Taste again and balance with salt, pepper, and vinegar if necessary.
5.  Put half of the noodles in each bowl.  Pour the soup over the noodles...Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The First Big Dinner Trial Run

I'm back after a long absence that included 3 law school finals, enough caffiene to kill an elephant, a Mad Men party, and a jump into Lake Michigan on New Year's Day.  On Saturday, I'm cooking a 6 course dinner for 14 people in Elmhurst, so I needed to begin practicing.  The first two courses that I tested were 1. Flavors of Frosty the Snowman and 2. Venison (steak in the trial run), charcoal, beets, pomegranate.  Frosty had too much tobacco flavor so next time I will use less of that and probably add in a bit of sugar to round out the harshness of the tobacco.  The charcoal was very sand-like and unpleasant to eat texture-wise, so I'll have to come up with a solution for that.  I've been thinking about fireplace soot or maybe just scrapping it all together and going with cocao powder.  I think I spend an unusual amount of time worrying if I'm going to poison myself with something that I cook.  Is that normal for people?

Here were the recipes for the dishes I practiced:

Flavors of Frosty
Corn Ice Cream
1.5 cups corn kernels
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
1 tbsp sugar
4 egg yolks, beaten and in a separate bowl
1 tbsp butter
kosher salt

1.  In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Once melted and hot, add corn kernels, a pinch of salt and a little pepper
2.  Toss corn around in the butter and saute for 3-4 minutes until corn is hot and cooked through.
3.  Pour in the milk and cream, and add the sugar.  Stir to dissolve sugar.  Lower  heat to low.
4.  Pour about 1/3 of the cream mixture into the egg yolks and whisk for a minute to temper the eggs
5.  Add the egg mixture back to the sauce pan and stir with a wooden spoon until thickened to the point that you can draw a line on the back of the spoon with your finger.  About 3-4 minutes.
6.  Pour cream into a cooled metal bowl, cover and refrigerate for a few hours until the cream is the texture of custard.
7.  Pour custard into an ice cream machine and churn until it looks like ice cream.  Scrape the ice cream into a bowl and put the bowl in the freezer for 8 hours to harden and let the flavors come together.

Tobacco Cream
2 grams tobacco from a cigar
1 cup cream
1 cup milk

1.  Put all ingredients together in a sauce pan
2.  Bring to a boil over medium heat
3.  Remove from heat and cover.  Let tobacco steep for about an hour.
4.  Strain the tobacco out and keep warm

To assemble:  Spoon some ice cream into the bottom of a bowl.  Heat the tobacco cream (I'd use less tobacco next time, but its up to you) until hot.  Top the ice cream with shredded carrots (I'm going to attempt to make a carrot top hat out of caramel when I actually serve it).  Pour the hot tobacco cream over the top of it so the ice cream begins to melt, just like Frosty the Snowman.

Steak, Charcoal, Beets, Pomegranate
2 steaks, fat trimmed
some bamboo charcoal, ground to powder in a spice grinder (I'd use something else since this was sandy)
3 beets, juiced, 1/2 cup of the juice in 2 separate cups
3 beets, quartered
1 cup pomegranate juice
beef stock
red wine vinegar
8 tbsp butter
lemon juice
canola oil

1.  Salt and pepper each steak.  Heat canola oil over high heat.  Add each steak for 1 minute on each side, just to caramelize, then set them aside.
2.  Meanwhile, heat 1/2 cup of beet juice over medium heat and reduce until it is 2-3 tbsp.  Add a few drops of red wine vinegar, a few drops of lemon juice, and whisk in 3 tbsp butter.  Keep warm and reserve.
3.  Put the pomegranate juice in another sauce pan and heat over medium heat.  Pour in 1/4 cup of beef stock and about 1/2 tbsp sugar.  Bring to a boil and reduce to medium-low.  Reduce pomegranate juice mixture by 1/2.  Whisk in 5 tbsp butter one piece at a time.  Keep warm and reserved.
4.  For the beet pudding, put the other 1/2 cup of beet juice in a blender.  Turn on low and sprinkle in about a tbsp of sugar.  Turn blender up to high and sprinkle in some Ultra Tex 3 until it is the desired consistency.
5.  While all of this is going on, preheat oven to 450.  Salt and pepper beet quarters, and put them in the oven for 15 minutes until cooked through.
6.  Coat all sides of the beef in the charcoal powder (or whatever you are using).  Remove the beets from the oven and replace with the charcoal beef for about 5 minutes until medium-rare.

To assemble:  Place beef in center of plate.  Place a spoon of beet juice in the front and streak across the plate with a paint brush.  Place a dollop of beet pudding in one of the corners.  Put the roasted beet quarters on one side of the meat.  Spoon a line of pomegranate reduction across the plate.