A large form sous vide project I am currently working on, and will post about in depth in a couple of weeks, got posted to Lifehacker today (I got scooped on my own build). Somebody found my Flickr set on the project and it has gotten a lot of coverage today - which is very cool - but it isn't done!.
Here is a link to the build photos so far, I am adding new ones as I complete steps in the project. The full article and documentation on the project will come as soon as I complete the build and testing.
Hack a Day Story - Nov 9th 2011: Kitchen hacks: What would you cook if you had a Sous-Vide this large?
LifeHacker Story - Nov 10th 2011: This 16-Gallon Sous-Vide Water Oven Is Perfect for Huge Holiday Meals
A pâté de campagne is a traditional country terrine, a rustic preparation, slightly more refined than a pâté grandmère mainly in that it uses only a small amount of liver. In a pâté campagne liver is used as a seasoning device rather than a dominant flavor. In the past I have always used a recipe for a more or less traditional styled pâté de campagne from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. Thier recipe is made up of ground pork and chicken or pork liver, but I wanted to try to make a variation that offered a richer flavor profile - with a game like character, and this recipe made a successful step in that direction.
The mushrooms bring out the earthiness in the duck and lamb. Morels would be a wonderful alternative to the porcini's I used in this recipe, but I couldn't find any this weekend. In either case I prefer to used dried mushrooms, the grind breaks them into the perfect size and I find that their flavor permeates the pâté in a way that fresh mushrooms don't offer.
The duck and duck fat brought a much finer texture to the pâté that I found to be very appealing as well as creating a earthier and more robust character. The liver flavor in this recipe wasn't as strong as it might have been, If you enjoy a strong liver flavor in your pâté you might consider adding an additional 50 to 100 grams of duck liver. The stronger flavored meats in this pâté make the liver a bit more background than in a pâté made with pork (especially commercially produced domestic pork in the US - which I find to be a bit less flavorful than heirloom pork like berkshire, which is far preferable for this kind of preparation).
Some great news on the gardening/brewing front, at least 9 out of 10 of our hops plants lived through the winter. I have to admit being pleasantly surprised. We had some very cold days this winter -44 fahrenheit according to our outdoor thermometer, and even in the photos I have uploaded you can see frost heave in the hops bed.
We planted 5 varieties of hop rhizomes last year, and were very lucky getting a reasonable batch of hops for brewing in our first year from two of the varieties. I am pleased to see that all of the varieties have survived, though one plant hasn't yet broken the surface - we will have to see if it catches up later, or if it is a casualty.
Today's recipe has become one of my flagship deserts - a deep, dark, rich chile and cocoa experience. The delicate addition of finely ground, carefully selected ancho and New Mexico chiles to this sinfully flourless chocolate cake creates a culinary tryst of surpising complexity and history.
I have named the cake for a very old Aztec drink served almost exclusively to royalty. Sophie and Michael Coe, note the drink in thier book The True History of Chocolate: "Universally popular throughout Mesoamerica was the addition to the drink of chile, dried and ground to a powder. The Molina vocabulary [the first Nahuatl-Spanish dictionary] calls the drink chilcacahuatl."
You will love this cake if you take care in creating it.
As I write this the snow is drifting down, the wind blowing, its cold and wet outside. It has been snowing all week, a thick wet snow that only lasts until about 10 AM each day before the sun melts it off. Tonight we are expecting 3 inches, which might stick around a bit longer, but all of this is great news. Spring is here!
Saturday I was planning a fishing trip down in Colorado, where spring is farther along. A fishing buddy, Tom and I were going to try and fish the Cache la Poudre River up in the canyon north of Fort Collins, but A fresh snowfall, a cold and fever, and a spouses migraine cancelled the trip. The fact is that the river might be too high to fish as well, and facing all of this, and no one to go with I ended up staying home.
For the trip fare I had been planning on making a lunch that my buddy and I could eat in the canyon. Eating well when out fishing is, in my opinion, an incredible pleasure, and my plan was to make a couple of shooter's sandwiches to make our day complete - with or without successful fishing.
I ended up making two different versions of carne asada tacos, with one main difference in the recipes (see recipe below). In the second recipe I added a 1/4 cup of medium heat New Mexico red chile powder.
Once a week is steak night at our house. Both my wife and I realy enjoy tri-tip and flank, both of which are a bit toothier than some more expensive cuts, but both offer great flavor, marinate well, and when cooked properly are a fantastic value.
One of my favorite ways to cook both of these cuts is Sous Vide. Cooking using this method is nothing new to the foodie community, and last year the introduction of the SousVide Supreme made affordable sous vide cooking available to the home cook. I was happy to be an early adopter of this gadget, and honestly after using it for over a year now, I am a really big fan.
At my daughters school they make a big deal about Saint Patty's Day. They tell the children that Leprechauns visit the school while the kids are out playing, and hide chocolate coins around the classroom. Fiona, my daughter, has been entirely unsure what to think about all of this, she is clearly excited about the chocolate, but inquired quite seriously recently about the existence of Leprechauns. "Tell me the truth daddy... Are leprechauns real?"
Oddly enough, I was fearful of telling her that they were not - mostly because at least in my mind, the next question would be about Santa, and at 4 I couldn't bear her thinking that Santa isn't real.
What came out of my mouth after assuring her that they were real... I have no excuse, except that it was funny..?
"Sure they are Fiona! In fact, Saint Patty's day is the one day of the year that we are allowed to hunt Leprechauns!"
Fiona didn't believe a word of it, and went straight home to tell my wife just how horrible Daddy was - teasing her that I was going to hunt Leprechauns, and even worse, make Leprechaun Sausage! My wife to her credit, thought all of this was very funny.
Now I should back up and explain that there is a lot of talk, especially lately, about hunting around the house. Many of our friends hunt and I have been shopping for a rifle and a shotgun. We have also been cooking a lot of game recently, and Fiona has expressed a sincere interest in "learning to hunt with Daddy" when she grows up.
Every year since moving to Wyoming now nearly 4 years ago our family spends 10 days of late Spring at Jackson Lake, in Grand Tetons National Park here Wyoming. Late Spring in Wyoming being the end of June and beginning of July.
Spring is a fickle dame in Wyoming, especially in the higher altitudes. Perusing Facebook over the last couple of weeks, I see more and more comments from friends living around the country talking up Spring. And lets face it, it's "Spring break", even here, where currently it is in the low 30's and snow drifts and ice packs abound.
Spring here in Laramie, doesn't necessarily resemble the season familiar to most. It's cold, though far less cold than last month - when we had several days below -30. The snow is heavy and wet in spring, and persistent, generally through mid June. It seems as thought summer will never arrive, and when it finally does, fall is already in the air.
This cold, and slow moving Spring here in Wyoming is also when I, and many like me in these parts, start thinking about fishing.
I recently joined food52 an online "cooks" community that is run out of New York City by Amanda Hesser(prolific cookbook author and NYTimes food writer) and Merrill Stubs (also a NYTimes food writer and Le Cordon Bleu Chef).
Food52 is a wonderful (however New York City'esqe) cooking and food community, which sponsors weekly recipe contests. As of today I have submitted 2 recipes to food52 contests. Frankly the competition is pretty tough, there are a lot of very good cooks in the community, and I am possibly the only member from Wyoming - which is pretty decidedly not New York City'esqe!
All that is not to say that I don't feel like I fit in. I have spent my time in big cities, and I am a big believer that rural cooking is anything but pedestrian - especially since with a little looking we can find almost anything we need in Laramie, and frankly we have seasonal access to ingredients like fresh wild trout, elk, antelope, deer, and wild duck that city folk pay dearly for, if they can get it at all.
This weeks recipe contest at food52 is "Your Best Recipe with Fresh Ricotta". Winning recipes are published in upcoming cookbooks published by Amanda and Merrill. I submitted my recipe for Meyer Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blackberry & Sage Butter Topping . If you think the recipe sounds good, jump on over to my entry, and give me a "like" or a comment! Then, try the recipe out for a slow Sunday morning breakfast or brunch - you won't be sorry, these pancakes are wonderful
Of all the recipes that I have this one is by far the most requested. Its easy to make, and when done with good ingredients is really hard to beat. Its great by itself, as tacos with slaw, or over rice.
I "discovered" the dish this recipe is based on when Naomi and I stopped for dinner in the small town of Cuba, New Mexico on our way to Albuquerque from Chaco Canyon. We stumbled onto the most unbelievable appetizer, 6 shrimp, sauteed with piñon in an rich, slightly sweetened chile oil. After a period of trail and error I came up with a recipe that takes its inspiration from the flavors in that dish, but has been built to serve as a stunning main dish, perfect for a dinner party. A simple combination of shrimp, piñon nuts (pine nuts) honey, olive oil, New Mexico chile powder and cream, this dish can be an extraordinary experience. Save your very best chile powders and olive oil for this recipe, as it offers a chance to truly showcase the complexities and richness of your finest ingredients.
I have been looking for a good high alitude cinnamon roll recipe for a quite sometime. I finally worked out this one after a couple of tries. The rolls are huge, none of us ate more than half a roll. The recipe is set up to make 12 rolls, this time around I did 8 with the same recipe, and they were great.
I admit that I have a Cinnabon problem. Not one that I indulge very often as we don't have one in Laramie - and in fact, I don't even know if there are any in Wyoming. My solution was to come up with a recipe that was just as good, and I think these are it - that said, they take a very long time to make!
Recipe After Jump
So I have a copy of Diana Kennedy's newest book "Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy" on the way to my Wyoming casa. Anyone who knows me well knows that Mexican Cuisine, and in particulaly Oaxacan cuisine has a very special spot in my heart. I very much look forward to reading and reviewing the book (all 492 pages of it).
I am particularly interested in reading her recipe(s) on mole(s) from the region. I am a die hard fan of Rick Bayless's Oaxacan black mole, but I am excited to find some other variations.
I will post photos, and more once I have the book, but for now, here is an interview with the author.