Thursday, June 26, 2014

Flat Iron: The Greatest Steak You Never Tasted

As far as I know the anatomy of steer hasn't changed much in the last few years (last time I checked they still have four legs and a head), and yet new cuts of beef keep cropping up, especially from the super-flavorful, but often tough, chuck. The chuck, or shoulder, of a large steer or heifer can be huge (over 100 pounds) and because it contains several large muscle groups which can be divided into a myriad of salable steaks, roasts, stewing cubes, and ground beef it shouldn't be surprising when unheard-of chuck cuts pop up.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Slow Down and Relax Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken and Corn
Photograph by A. Schloss

If you have ever tried to convince yourself that "black and crusty" is exactly how you like your chicken, then you know first-hand the ambiguous art of cooking over an open flame. Cooking outdoors without the high-tech benefits of thermostats and heavy gauge saucepans requires greater vigilance and knowledge than anything demanded from indoor cooking, but there's an easy way to tilt the odds in your favor - indirect grilling. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Waxing Delicious

Beeswax Pastilles Fertilizing a Pool of Honey
Photograph by A. Schloss
Did I dream it? The lip slick was sticky - consomme gone too far. It's a smoked beet, right? I know the waiter said "beet and wax," I think he did. No way! The flavor is a waft of honey and something vaguely buttery. The blanket draping my tongue is silk, at least as light and warm as silk. 

Bitterman and I were eating at Atera, and he agrees it was a beet. But now as I look back at the menu we were handed after the meal (21 courses, 29 dishes, 5 hours in the saddle) I can find no mention of beets. I suspect we ate mere words - "beeswax" turned into "beets and wax" in our addled gustatory brains. But that's how the whole meal went. We hardly knew what we ate as we dined on pure sensation.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Salted Caramel Crispies

Crispie Salted Caramels
Photograph by A. Schloss

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If only I could! I know, the unadorned original back-of-the-box recipe for Rice Krispies® Treats (hereto after known as RKT) is perfection, and there are too many asinine embellishments already in circulation. Changing out the cereal, adding PNB, or plopping melted caramel and fleur de sel on top are all well and good, but they're superficial changes at best. I was after transformation, a process shift, tinkering with the very DNA of the RKT by re-engineering its structure from the inside out. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Slow Baked Moroccan Red Lentil Soup

Moroccan Red Lentil Soup
Photograph by A. Schloss
I can't stop thinking about food. Constantly tasting and cajoling ingredients in my mind, obsessively revisiting already finished recipes, imagining how they might be made better, or simpler, or easier, more exotic or more up-to-date. This riff on a recipe for Moroccan Red Lentil Soup that first appeared in Art of the Slow Cooker is none of those things. It is simply a way to make an intoxicating vegan slow cooker soup without a slow cooker.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Slow Baked Wild Mushroom Soup

Mushroom Barley Soup Ready to Go into the Oven
Photograph by A. Schloss
Slow cookers are unrivaled for soup. So in Cooking Slow, a book that includes lots of slow cooker techniques and recipes, but emphasizes slow cooking on the range and in the oven, I didn't include many soup recipes (the index lists only four). For the remainder of this winter I mean to fill the gap. Any soup that can be made in a  slow cooker can also be cooked in a low oven (200°F/95°C). Just bring everything to a simmer on top of the stove, cover the pot and throw it in a preheated oven. Return 5 to 8 hours later and dine.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pot Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

Pot Roasted Chicken and Vegetables
Photograph by A. Schloss

Chicken roasted with vegetables—nothing is more delicious, or easier, but pulling off this classic as a slow roast is bit more complicated. It is literally impossible to overcook the bird, which is exactly the way most roast chickens go astray. The wrinkle lies with the vegetables: root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, potatoes - the vegs that taste especially yummy roasted around a chicken) will never get done at the low temperature that’s ideal for roasting chicken. So when slow roasting a chicken with potatoes, or onions, or parsnips, or carrots it is common to blanch them or fry them briefly to soften their tough fibers before throwing them in the roasting pan. But not if you think young. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Effortless Mac and Cheese with A Little Added Effort

Mac and cheese almost ready for the oven
Photograph by A. Schloss

Throwing dinner into a warm oven and walking away is such a seductively convenient form of cooking that it is tempting to interpret its ease as culinary virtue. And in many ways it is. If making cooking effortless is a way of making home cooked meals more plentiful I am all for it. The recipe I created for One-Pot Mac and Cheese on page 49 of Cooking Slow is a prime example.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Pork and Beans

Pork Shoulder Slow Cooked with Limas
Photograph by A. Schloss
I started this blog with a basic definition:"Cooking is a balance between temperature and time." This is the post to prove it. Here we have two recipes, both for pork shoulder slow cooked with beans. The first is pot roasted at 175°F/80°C, the second just 15°F/8°C higher, still at a moderately low 190°F/88°C. The textural differences between the two are dramatic. Not all slow cooking is created equal.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Beets Roasted on Coffee Beans

Red and Golden Beets on Coffee Beans before Roasting
Photograph by A. Schloss
It appeared mysteriously spartan on the menu at Coi, Daniel Patterson’s ashram for food in San Francisco’s North Beach: “Carrots/Coffee.” What did it mean? It turned out to be genius—sweet, smoky, and earthy genius. Pencil-thin carrots were baked on a bed of coffee beans that warm gently, releasing their oils. This unexpected dish celebrated all the advantages of slow cooking: the coffee fumes gradually infuse the vegetable, creating an ephemeral sensation of something roasted that one can identify as “coffee” only after the tongue whispers to the brain. The carrots appear pristine, freshly harvested, with none of the raggy bloat that plagues the surface of boiled carrots, and yet their interior yields  as if they had simmered softly for hours .

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sous Vide Fillet Mignon

Sous Vide Fillet Roast with Wild Mushroom Ragout
Photograph by A. Schloss
One of the cruel limitations of slow roasting is that ovens just won't go low enough. The numbers on dial thermostats stop at 200°F/100°C and most digitals won't sink below 170°F/75°C (a few graciously condescend to descend to 150°F/65°C). These temperatures are fine for roasting any tough cut of mammal, any bird, or vegetable, or fatty fish. But for delicate proteins, especially super expensive items, like beef tenderloin, wild king salmon, or foie gras a few excess degrees result in instant ruination, and that's too big a cost to bear.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Honey Baked Beans

Honey Baked Beans and Bacon-wrapped Franks, Eat Up!
Photograph by A. Schloss

Baked beans come from an age when cooking food all day (or for several days) over a low fire was commonplace. There was no sautéed boneless chicken breast or food processor pesto to speed up meal prep, and because the cooks who baked those beans were planting crops while dinner simmered, an untended pot of baking beans was the very essence of convenience cuisine.

Roasted Peppers

Charred Jalapenos
Photograph by A. Schloss
I know this doesn't seem like much of a post. It is representative of the occasional need to tell you how to do something perfunctory and basic to gain something else that will immeasurably improve your life. There was a similar post for Clementine Compote last week, and  Oven-Dried Tomatoes a few weeks before that. Having a few roasted peppers in the fridge makes whipping up soup, or salsa, or salad, or chili, or tacos, or an omelette filling, or a bruschetta spread, or a steak au poivre practically effortless.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Clementine Kalamata Pudding in Rosemary Caramel

Clementine Kalamata Steamed Pudding
Photograph by A. Schloss
This new age take on an Old World dessert is completely my fault. I made it up, tested it to the nth degree, and stand behind its unashamed sweet and savory idiosyncrasies. It is constructed like a traditional sticky toffee steamed pudding with salty olives and candied clementine taking the candied dates' role, honey and rosemary stepping in for the toffee sauce, and silken chestnut flour playing the supporting starchy role typically taken by a wheat flour-based pudding mixture. The totality is earthy and cosmopolitan.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Slow Cooked Clementine Compote

Sugared Clementines
Photograph by A. Schloss

I love this stuff.  It was the first thing I ever made in a slow cooker and I continue  to stock my pantry with it every year when clementines come into season. As the fruit slowly simmers sugared juices emerge and fragrant bitter oils from the peel melt and mingle into a bittersweet condiment, creamy with a minimum of fat, aromatic without a trace of herb, and completely addictive (only shame will keep you from consuming the entire batch in a single sitting). I usually serve it with toast at breakfast, as I would orange marmalade, but I’ve also been known to go at it with a spoon late at night.