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.