Saturday, May 21, 2011

More playing with eggs

When Madame is away, I like to experiment in the kitchen. It keeps me out of trouble, and endlessly entertained. Mostly by failed experiments.

Eggs are a great source for amusement - they are cheap, versatile, tasty (when I don't screw them up too badly), and small enough that you can simple experiments. I also do eat the failures - all though in this case I think I would have preferred not to.
I very much like eggs cooked in their shells for a long time over low temperature. Typically  in the 147-148F range. This is sometimes mistakenly called sous vide - it isn't because there is no vacuum involved. Just cooked for a long time in a water bath. As an aside - try putting raw eggs into a vacuum bag....
One royal pain when dealing with eggs like this was peeling them whole. It takes a long time, as it is quite finicky and therefore delays presentation - unless you do them, peel them and then hold them at temp.

I am a home cook, and like things "a la minute" as opposed to being held - again general statement, some things hold really well, but some don't!

So with all that preamble, I thought it would be interesting to try removing the shell before cooking, and still leaving the egg whole. Acid does that pretty well - so into a vinegar bath went the egg.
It takes about 18 hours for the shell to be removed entirely, leaving a little bouncy sack of eggness. So far so good.

Into the water bath at 148 for 45 minutes. It seemed that all was well - the little sac held together beautifully. Quite encouraging, I thought.

And then I pierced it...

As you can see, nice firm  cooked white and slightly oozy yolks. Just the effect I was hoping for. Straight from water bath to table, stick with knife point, et voila.

However, all is not as rosy as I had hoped. The membrane was tough - like sausage casing tough. So very unappetizing. The egg had absorbed too much vinegar flavor, so wasn't very tasty. Didn't have the lovely silky eggy flavor.  It would have been more at home on English chips!

I guess I will have to find another experiment :-(

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Seabirdskitchen, NTTV and the Dallas Arboretum

Last Saturday, Madame asked me if I would help the NTTV students during their photo-shoot at the Dallas Arboretum. What visit to a beautiful outdoor spot is complete without a picnic? So with a little creativity we came up with some recipes and a demonstration. The recipes are posted here, and I will update links when the video is available.
The first dish is an adaptation of Jamie Oliver's peppers stuffed with tomatoes recipe from the Jamie at home show. I have done it before and the recipe can be found here. For the shoot, I omitted the pancetta.
You always want to have fried chicken at a picnic too, but I don't like the mess frying makes in the kitchen so was looking for a baked alternative. That recipe is repeated below. Potato salad? Of course - with a two step dressing. And finally a dessert - apple bars with a dollop of ice cream. All of the dishes can be made at home and taken to the picnic with you.
I wanted to make sure there was as little mayonnaise and dairy as possible - after all it gets hot here in Texas and proper refrigeration is crucial to ensuring that people don't get sick.

Baked (fried) Chicken - Total Cost $14, Serves 8

8 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
2 c buttermilk
1T dried orgegano
1T hot sauce (eg Tabasco)
2 c breadcrumbs (I used panko)
2T grated parmesan
2T finely chopped parsley

Mix together the buttermilk, oregano, hot sauce to make a marinade. Add a little salt. Place the chicken into the buttermilk and leave to coat in the fridge for at least an hour - and up to 12.
Just before taking the chicken out of the refrigerator, turn the oven to 375 and place a rackn in the center.
Mix together the bread breadcrumbs, parmesan and parsley. Take each piece of chicken out of the marinade, shake the excess off, and roll it in the breadcrumb mixture, coating all sides evenly. Lay the chicken pieces skin side up on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes - until the crumbs are evenly browned.

Potato Salad- Total Cost $6, Serves 8
3 pound(s) (medium) red-skinned potatoes cut into 1-inch chunks
1/3 cup(s) (distilled)  apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon(s) grape seed oil
2 teaspoon(s)  spicy mustard r Dijon style if that's what you have
2  teaspoon(s) kossalt
1/2 teaspoon(s) black pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup whole milk
2 small celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 green onions, minced
A sprinking of paprika to finish

Put the potatoes and a generous couple of pinches of salt into cold water in a saucepot. Bring to a simmer until the potatoes are just tender.
Meanwhile make the vinaigrette by whisking together the cider vinegar, oil and mustard.
When cooked, drain the potatoes thoroughly and then coat with the vinaigrette while still hot. Allow the potatoes to cool.
Mix the salt, pepper, mayonaise and whole milk together in a bowl, ensuring that the mayonnaise is thoroughly incorporated.
Mix the celery and green onions into the cooled potatoes, pour over the mayonnaise mixture and combine gently.
Serve in a pretty bowl with some paprika sprinkled on top for color

Apple Bars - Total Cost $17, 36 bars

1 stick butter (slightly softened - not melted)
1 cup walnuts, chopped roughly
1 stick butter
2 cup flour
1 cup light brown sugar
2T vanilla
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon

4 lbs Granny Smith apples peeled, cored and chopped into 1/3" chunks
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark, OK)
2t cinnamon
1/2t all spice
2T corn starch
3T lemon juice

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch table salt
1 1/2 sticks butter (hard, still cold from fridge), cut in small pieces

First, make the topping by combining the ingredients with your hands until they make a cohesive ball. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate.

In a large skillet add the applles, sugar, raisins and spices. Cook gently over a low flame until all the liquid has evaporated. You will need to stir occasionally. The apples will retain their texture.

Meanwhile, make and bake the crust. Mix the flour, sugar, and salt, then rub the butter in until the mixture looks sandy. The butter pieces want to be small enough to be invisible on their own. You could use a pastry blender if you prefer, or a couple of short pulses in the food processor.

Lay the crust mixture evenly in a greased 15x10 jelly roll pan, and press it down using the bottom of a glass to compact it and make sure it is even.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes - until the crust is light golden brown. It may form cracks at the surface - do not worry.

When the crust has nearly finished baking, mix the lemon juice and cornstarch together and pour over the hot apples (off heat). stir to allow to thicken.

Take the out of the oven, and while still hot cover evenly with the hot filling. Crumble the refrigerated topping evenly over the filling. Press down lightly, and bake uncovered for around 40 minutes in the 350 oven.

When cooked, remove the pan from the oven, and allow to cool completely. When cool cut the bars while still in the pan.

Serve topped with a spoonful of ice cream (if desired). They are also pretty good plain