Monday, August 19, 2013

Thom Yum (Chicken)

I was given a copy of Chef McDang's terrific book on Thai cookery ( by Chef David Gilbert . Combine that with the arrival of my Satay grill (ordered from here ) and a Thai feast was in order. Of course it was all experimental, so we weren't sure how any of it was going to turn out. We invited the neighbors (Guinea and Pig) over for the experiment. It turns out that the most impressive dish on the menu was the simplest. It took 7 minutes start to finish and used minimal ingredients This recipe is almost straight from Chef McDang's Principles of Thai Cookery, but I substituted chicken for the prawns - since I can't eat shellfish.


6 cups water
1 stalk lemon grass - cut into short strips and bruised
5 kaffir lime leaves (preferably fresh)
3 silver dollar sized slices of galanga (sometimes called blue ginger)
4 bruised Thai chilis (left whole, but with the stalks removed)
1/4 cup fish sauce
Juice of 3 Persian limes (or 6 Key limes)
1 chicken breast cut into 1/2" cubes (slightly smaller is better)


Bring the water to the boil. Add the lemon grass, kaffir lime, galanga, chilis and leave to infuse for a minute or so. Add the fish sauce and then the lime juice until the desired degree of sourness is achieved. Simmer for a few more seconds. Add the chicken pieces and turn the heat off. Allow the heat of the broth to cook the chicken. To serve, spoon into small, hot bowls. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Caesar Salad - Kind Of

I wanted to make an elegant looking, but somewhat deconstructed Caesar salad for a fancy party at hour house. We were saying thank you to a friend who came in from out of town to teach a class for Madame, and he, his wife and the others are all rather intense foodies. So, we had to be on form.
Thanks to Julie Collins for the Photograph

The main ingredients in a traditional Caesar salad are Romaine, garlic, egg, oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano, croutons, salt and pepper. Since anchovies are major components of Worcestershire sauce, I don't use them when making a Caesar salad.
This salad had all of the above but in a rather different way.


8 1 3/4" bread rounds (thinly sliced rounds)
1t (very rough measurement) garlic oil
8 quail eggs + 1 quail egg yolk to be warmed in the lemon juice.
Romaine leaves from the heartof the romaine.
1 t (again rough measure) lemon oil - lemon zest steeped in oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
2 T olive oil (doesn't have to be EV)
2T high quality olive oil (preferably EV)
2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Romano cheese


Brush the bread rounds with garlic oil, place them in muffin tins, pressed down to make an indentation in a muffin pan. Bake in a 400F oven for about 6 minutes, checking to make sure they don't burn. The length of time depends on the bread. Turn them out of the tin, return to the oven for a further 3 minutes to brown. Allow them to cool to room temperature. This can be done well in advance.
Put a little salt and pepper in the base of each round and break a quail egg into the ound.

Thanks to Julie Collins for the photograph
Put a few drops of garlic oil on top of each egg to protect the surface from the hot oven. Bake the quail egg croutons for 3-4 minutes until the egg is almost set.
Make the dressing using the lemon juice, quail egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce and oils.  Assemble the salad, placing a few drops of lemon oil on the plate and sprinkling the pepper. As you can see from the picture, we served the dressing "on the side" in a pipette, so people could dress the salad themselves.
This was served with a 2002 Gravonia from the Rioja valley. The grape is 100% Viura (something we don't see often). Bone dry, minerally, complements the lushness of the egg crouton perfectly.

Blueberry Semifreddo

This recipe is adapted from one that I saw in Fine Cooking Magazine. I have made it a couple of times and it is absolutely delicious. It isn't hard to make, but it does use a few bowls! It was the perfect end to an energetic, loud, boisterous dinner with friends at the end of July.
The date is important because we had recently been blueberry picking (yes Virginia, blueberries do grow in Texas) at the delightful BlueBerry Hill farm in Edom. So we had lots of blueberries, some home made blueberry peach ginger jam. We used a blackberry liqueur called creme de mure, but cassis would work equally well. You want a fruity liqueur in this dish since the other flavors are a bit bland.
The dish is made in several parts and then assembled and frozen. When unmolded it looked like this.
Thanks to Julie Collins for the picture


1 cup blueberries
2/3 cups sugar (divided use)
1/4 cup blueberry jam
1T balsamic vinegar
5 egg yolks
1/4 cup fruity liqueur (creme de cassis or creme de mure)
very small pinch of salt
2 egg whites
pinch cream of tartar
1 1/2 ups heavy whipping cream (very cold)
1/4 cup blueberry jam
1T balsamic vinegar


Place the utensils for whipping the cream into the freezer.
Warm the blueberries with 2T sugar and the tiny pinch of salt until the juice runs out of the berries. Strain the juices and immediately chill the juice in the fridge. Similarly with the blueberry jam/balsamic vinegar mixture, warm it to gently, strain the juice and chill./. These are used at 2 different stages.
Make a zabaglione with the 5 egg yolks, half the remaining sugar, and the fruity liqueur. This involves setting a water bath on the stove and bringing to a simmer. Place the sugar, fruity liqueur, egg yolks  into a non reactive, heatproof bowl and mix to break up the yolks. Place the bowl above the simmering water (taking care to ensure that the base of the bowl doesn't touch the water), whisk the egg yolks until light and fluffy. The whisk will leave tracks in the mixture when it is done. Then add the chilled blueberry juice and whisk to incorporate. Remove the mixture to an ice bath.
Wash, clean and dry the beaters. You are about to make meringue, so the beaters and bowl must be very clean with no traces of fat. I wipe the bowl and beaters with a little vinegar to degrease them before making meringue since there will be a little acid required anyway. The bowl and the eggs need to be at room temperature to start with.
Whisk the eggs lightly until just foamy. Add the cream of tartar and whisk some more until the eggs start to look quite white. Add the rest of the sugar, whisk more and then place the bowl over the simmering water. Whisk for at least 5 minutes - until the egg whites show stiff peaks. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whisk until the mixture is room temperature. Cool the egg mixture.
Whip the cream until just past the floppy stage. Don't overwhip.  Chill.
Using cling wrap, make a sling along the long sides of 2lb loaf pan.
Fold the egg whites into the zabaglione in three additions. Fold the cream into the egg mixture, gently only working long enough so that no white streaks remain. Add the chilled jam/vinegar liquid on top of the mixture and swirl with a couple of strokes. Don't mix more than that or you will lose the effect. Place the mixture into the prepared bread pan. Fold the cling wrap over the top to seal, and freeze until set. This will depend on your freezer, but at least 6 hours, preferably more. When I make it, I give it 24 hours.
To serve, unmold the loaf onto a suitably sized plate, remove the cling wrap, decorate (or not) as you wish.
We served this with a Pedro Ximenez 1985 La Bodega sweet sherry