Sunday, November 2, 2014

Gluten-Free Deconstructed Apple Pie - Distractions

I wrote a whole thing apologizing for skipping three weeks and noticed a trend in this young blog's life. I tend to start each post with an apology for not posting enough (this in itself some form of apology). I will try to do that less but the reason I do is simple; if my time isn't spent in the kitchen then I assume somewhere deep down inside that said time has been wasted, and this time around I wasted a lot of it.

The hydra that is planning two Thanksgivings scared me near to the point of canceling and I avoided my kitchen for anything more complex than frozen pizzas. I lost sight of the fun of it and had to remind myself of the reasons for doing it.

So I thought about why. Why do it? It's a personal question with a different answer for everyone. Me? It's that moment when I take my apron off and walk around a plate looking at what I've spent my time on. It's that reminder each time that only two years ago I couldn't do any of this, and of the hundreds of things I screwed up to get that plate right, and thinking of how to do it better.

I marvel at the creation of food, from a cup of tea to a full course meal, sometimes with paralyzing jealousy of those more talented than I. Checking that ego and committing to a menu isn't always easy and that's what happened the last three weeks. I panicked when I questioned my ideas and wondered if they were worth trying. I needed time to realize the only way I'll know if they are is to make them.

Thanksgiving isn't getting any farther away. So let's get started.

Special Equipment
Drum sieve
Food Processor, plus a small food chopper/grinder if you have one
Silicone baking mat

Deconstructed Apple Pie

Making something is fun but breaking something is better. In my mediation on my notes I found a theme gelling among the bullet points and adopted it as an unofficial title for Thanksgiving. My message this year is this; "play with your food."

Think about a steaming slice of apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream right now. I bet your cheeks twitched to smile. Young, old, and in between apple pie just makes you feel good.

So how in the world could you make one of the most universally positive desserts more fun? You get your hands dirty that's how.

There are four parts to any good apple pie: the crust, the filling, the topping, and the ice cream. I turned each of those into its bar food equivalent. Pie crust "chips," apple pie "salsa," cinnamon graham "bacon," creme Anglaise "sour cream." In other words I "Guy Fieri'd" them and somehow avoided dying a little inside.

Creme Anglaise

This is the exact same recipe as the vanilla ice cream that's been on here cut off right before freezing. I halved it since I don't need a giant tub of creme when it's only a finishing detail. Even this borders on far too much.

1 C whole milk
1 C heavy cream
82g sugar + 4 Tbsp, divided as shown
1 Tbsp vanilla paste
~75g egg yolks (eggs are never the size you need them to be, just get close to 75g)
tiny pinch of salt

Heat milk, cream, 82g sugar to just below a simmer. Whisk eggs and 4 Tbsp sugar in medium bowl until thick. Gently and gradually whisk the hot cream into eggs to temper (be extremely careful - a smaller batch only decreases the already small temperature window to curdle the eggs. Strain the mixture through the drum sieve into a clean sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until thick enough to coat back of wood spoon. Strain through chinois into ice bath. Stir in salt. Cool in bath then chill in air-tight container at least overnight.

Graham Crumble

Pretty much exactly the same as the one from the Frozen S'Mores but with cinnamon sugar thus a thousand times better.

9 gluten free graham crackers
6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
4-5 Tbsp cinnamon sugar

Heat oven to 375. Pulse crackers in processor to coarse crumble. Add butter and cinnamon sugar to incorporate. Spread in even layer in very small pan. Bake until fragrant and slightly dried and crumbly. Let cool and store in air-tight container at room temperature.

Pie Crust Chips

I tried frying some first. Don't do that. It looked like something out a science fiction movie when they disintegrated in the oil and vanished in front of my eyes. I felt like an evil madman, and not a cool one. One that murdered innocent and delicious pie crust. It was a dark moment in my kitchen.

2 1/2 C gluten-free all-purpose flour, or standard AP flour if gluten is not a concern
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
10 Tbsp butter, chilled 1/2" pieces
1/3 C solid vegetable shortening, chilled
ice water
whole milk - to brush chips
cinnamon sugar for dusting

Combine flour, sugar, and salt in food processor. Pulse in butter and shortening to form a coarse meal. Add 6 Tbsp of ice water and combine, adding more water in very small increments until a moist shaggy dough forms. Turn dough out onto clean surface and gather into a smooth, moist, malleable ball that doesn't crack when gently kneaded, moistening with water and dusting with flour as needed. Flatten dough into a rough, thick disc, wrap in plastic and chill 2 hours - 2 days.

Preheat oven 375. Allow dough to soften slightly. Roll out 1/4" thick. Cut shapes and arrange them on a baking pan lined with a silicone baking mat. Brush each with a little whole milk and dust them liberally with cinnamon sugar. Bake on middle rack until browning and firm. Cool on a rack. Store chips in air-tight container at room temperature.

Apple Salsa

Everyone will tell you they know exactly the best apples for apple pie. Well I tried them all and they're all wrong. The best combination is 50/50 Golden Delicious and Granny Smiths. Goldens, like the dog, are sweet. Grannies, like an old lady waiting at the deli counter, are tart and sour. Sweet and tart - Wonka figured it out years ago and it's a good formula. The Goldens also keep the mix from being too dry since Grannies don't bring a lot of juice to the table. This is getting weird and I can't fit much more of my foot in my mouth so I'll just shut up and tell you how to make it now.

2 Golden Delicious apples
2 Granny Smith apples
1/2 C + 2 Tbsp sugar, plus more to taste
2 - 3 Tbsp cinnamon, plus more to taste
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Peel the apples and cut them into pieces no smaller than 1/2" and combine them with all the other ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, covering occasionally, tasting frequently, and adding sugar and cinnamon to taste as needed, until the apples are soft and a thick syrup forms. You'll see the syrup start pulling between apples as you stir the mixture. When the apples are soft but not mushy and the syrup is good and thick remove it from the pan and cool slightly in a bowl.


Honestly plate it however you like. Who am I to tell you how to plate something built on the idea of breaking food? Just make sure the apples are warm and the creme nice and cold. And use your hands! This first time I put some filling in a bowl and arranged the chips like a turkey's fan and drizzled some creme over it all. With some practice I think I can make it look even more like a turkey just in time for the big day.

That wasn't all I did this weekend. I have another dessert waiting to be written up that I'll post later this week. It has a lot of chocolate in it. The clock's officially ticking now so expect more frequent posts between now and Thanksgiving.

It's good to be back.

Stay hungry.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Marbled Potato Pavé - Expect the Unexpected

The Thanksgiving work has begun and before I get to the good stuff this upcoming weekend (dessert obviously) I started easy and got the first side out of the way. Last week I briefly touched on the "fun" tone I'm going for for Thanksgiving and the pavé is as good a place as any to start. 

My greatest enjoyment in cooking is the unexpected and using traditional techniques to create something that excites from the moment you see it. I've never been able to draw or paint, never picked up an instrument, never really did anything artistic until I learned to cook so I take that very seriously. If it doesn't look equally as good as it tastes then it's not ready for the big time.

All of which means no mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving. 

Oh and I think I'm getting the hang of this finally! I mean look at all those pictures! 

Special Equipment
Mandoline slicer

Marbled Potato Pavé

Pavé in French means paver and these little bricks incorporate some of the very best of French cooking; dairy, dairy, and a little more dairy. Creamy, buttery, garlicky, savory, I have your attention yet?

The best part is they're not hard to make. In fact they're a dream for a full holiday spread. The majority of the preparation can be done a full two days early and they are very filling so you won't need to make a whole lot. They also beg to be customized so this won't be the last you see of them.

Some notes on quantities here. There...aren't any. I wasn't kidding when I said it was easy.

heavy cream
Russet potatoes, peeled
sweet potatoes, peeled
unsalted butter, ~5 Tbsp softened
thyme, chopped
garlic, minced
chives, minced
canola oil for frying

Preheat oven to 350F. Fill a large bowl with heavy cream, season with salt and pepper. Using a mandolin slice potatoes lengthwise 1/16" thick adding them to the cream as you slice, tossing them occasionally. 
Stir it up
Brush a 3" deep pan with some of the softened butter, line with parchment paper leaving a long overhang. Brush the parchment paper with the remaining softened butter, season with salt and pepper.

Trim the potatoes to fit solid, even layers in the pan. Begin with 2 "sheets" of Russet potato on the bottom, dot with thin pieces of butter, season with thyme, salt, and pepper. Alternate with sweet potato slices, butter, thyme, salt, and pepper and continue until the pan is full.
Do a better job at "even layers" than me.
Fold the parchment over the potatoes, cover tightly with foil. Bake ~1 hour 50 minutes until very tender. Remove from oven, cool 20 minutes. Uncover and place a piece of cardboard, foam, anything rigid you can cut to fit into the pan, then weigh it down evenly with whatever you've got on hand. Cool it like this until room temp
I am Italian so I used my perpetual surplus of tomatoes.
Wrap the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 hours to 2 days to set and firm potatoes. 

Showtime! Preheat oven 250F. Remove the potatoes from the pan, trim the edges, and slice into squares. Heat some canola oil in a skillet at medium-high. Brown cut sides of squares first then quickly brown the top and bottom of the squares. They're tougher than they look so you shouldn't need to baby them too much in the pan or worry about them falling apart. Place the cooked squares on a plate in the oven for ~15 minutes to finish warming through.
They're going to smell good. Control yourself.
My kind of monument.
Arrange the squares on a platter, top each with a small amount of salted butter and sprinkle with chives.
I'll take my check now Land O Lakes...

Crispy outside, smooth inside. Like a truffle! A garlicky, buttery truffle.

That's pavé. I told you it was simple. Next week it's apples all weekend. So many that I'm considering splitting the post in two at the least. Stick around, I'm just getting started this season.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"Peanut Butter & Jelly" - Forward Thinking/The Best Time of Year

Been a little while I know. I skipped a week to plan ahead. Thanksgiving is coming and those who know me know that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. With two full spreads in the works I'll be busy for the next nine weeks testing dish after dish and putting all of the results here.

It's been bugging me that I haven't officially posted the PBT&J I made two weeks ago but between planning Thanksgiving and attempting to live a life outside of the kitchen slightly more than usual it continually slipped my mind. There's my confession, now let me cleanse that sin.

Here's the thing about making candy; it's awful. But it's also a blast. Candy is more temperature sensitive than an old lady in the freezer section of the supermarket. A difference of a few degrees will create entirely different things. There is almost no wiggle room. And since I'm still mostly terrible at documenting my work, cook by sight and smell often, and write everything from memory this may take more than one try to get the results I got. I attribute this pair of treats as much to luck as skill.

As always credit where it's due: Thomas Keller has been instrumental in taking my game to a level I didn't even know it could go and really helped me find my "voice." If you're interested in cooking and looking to be better he's well worth checking out. This pairing is often served at The French Laundry as a little subversive (get used to that adjective) treat at the end of the meal. It's hands on, pretty, and a nice reminder that no matter how high and mighty people get about food the first thing it should always be is fun.

Special Equipment
Food processor

Peanut Butter Truffles

If nothing else these little jerks will test every ounce of your patience. On paper they're relatively easy to make but when it's time to get dirty and form them it can be tough. Despite their outward appearance of frailty as you roll and coat them know that they're tougher than they look, and they will look like a hot mess. Just act like you haven't screwed up as badly as you think you have while making them and you'll be fine. Now that I've talked you out of making them let me tell you that they are delicious. If you get them right they're better than a Reese's.

Don't use Hershey's. It tastes awful and disobeys all universal laws of candy making. Ghirardelli should be your minimum standard for chocolate. Use all natural peanut butter as well. Skippy makes a pretty good one that I like to use.

4 oz milk chocolate, chopped
1 lb natural peanut butter
1/4 C sugar
2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature chunks
16 oz 60% cacao chocolate, chopped
unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

Melt the milk chocolate in a double-boiler until smooth, remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Process the peanut butter, sugar, and salt to combine. Add the chocolate, process to combine well. Scrape sides and bottom of mixing bowl, add the butter, process to combine until smooth and thinner than before. Transfer filling to clean bowl, chill ~2 hours until firm, stirring once or twice. **Filling can be covered and chilled up to 1 week.**

Shape chilled dough into ~1" mostly round balls, place on parchment lined tray, chill at least 1 hour until very firm.

Heat ~2/3 of the 60% chocolate in a small, deep pot on double-boiler to 134F, remove from heat and stir in remaining chocolate to melt, cool to 84F. Return to heat, stirring constantly, until 90F. Remove from heat. Using a skewer, gently dip chilled peanut-butter balls into chocolate one at a time and return them to the parchment lined tray. Once all have been dipped repeat the process. Chill truffles to set. **Truffles can be chilled for several days.**

Before serving lightly sift with cocoa powder.

They weren't all that pretty.

Grape Jellies

So much to learn from such a little thing! Temperature control, balancing acidity to work with pectin, cold plate testing, dealing with and adapting to failure. Who said candy isn't good for you? If done correctly you'll have beautifully smooth and firm jellies with a deep rich color that melt in your mouth. If you screw up you'll have fresh homemade jelly, which isn't too bad a consolation prize. I'm just a beacon of hope today, eh?

Juicing grapes is a misery so look for 100% organic grape juice. It can't have a single additive or be from concentrate since anything but pure juice may not play nice with the pectin. Apple pectin powder can be hard to find in a supermarket but supplement stores like GNC usually stock it. Pectin is actually pretty neat, it's basically the fibrous junk left behind when fruits are pressed for juice and sometimes used as a stabilizer in place of gelatin. But unlike gelatin it's not all the same. In this case apple pectin requires a certain level of acidity to activate which is why the lemon juice is necessary. Thomas Keller neglects to mention all of this so I'm glad I read as much about making jelly as I did before starting.

2 C organic unsweetened Concord grape juice
2 1/4 C + 3 1/2 Tbsp sugar, divided as such
1/2 C light corn syrup
2 Tbsp apple pectin powder
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

Place a glass or porcelain dish in the freezer.

Line a 9"x13" baking pan or casserole with plastic wrap leaving some overhang to grip later.

Combine 3 1/2 Tbsp sugar with apple pectin in medium bowl, set aside.

Combine juice, 2 1/4 C sugar, and corn syrup in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking gently to dissolve sugar. Simmer gently until completely combined and clear. It will be too dark to be "clear" in that sense of the word. The entire mixture will just look...cleaner than it did at any point before. Whisk half of the hot liquid into the sugar/pectin until dissolved and no lumps remain, return to pan. Add lemon juice. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly, until 219F. Maintain that temperature +/- a degree as best as you can and cook until noticeably thickened with pretty heavy resistance to the whisk. Spoon a small amount onto the chilled plate. The jelly is ready when it firms quickly and doesn't slide around the plate. Pour into plastic lined pan and spread into smooth even layer. Sit uncovered at room temperature on a cooling rack ~3 hours until fully set and completely cool (not even remotely warm).

Gently remove jelly from pan with plastic overhang. Cut into desired shapes, tossing each one in sugar to cover completely (they will be super sticky). Best served immediately after coating with sugar but will stay lightly covered at room temperature for several hours. If the sugar has faded by then just toss them with some more to get them looking good again.

Like little rubies.

Moments after coating.

This was taken about an hour after the first coating and the sugar has already visibly faded.

And that's the PBT&J. I hope you enjoyed reading it and hope even more that you try making it. I've got one more special meal planned for the 2014 New York Rangers Puck Drop and then it's all Thanksgiving up to and after November 29th. I'll probably take an hour or two off on the 30th before getting right back at it for Christmas.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

New American BBQ - Dual Plating

I promised some barbecue last week and here it is. Now technically none of this is barbecued since that would mean cooking low and slow. This, technically speaking, is grilling. But really who cares? I sure don't. Whether you call it barbecue or grilling anything cooked over an open flame will always taste terrific.

The menu I made uses the last of my favorite summer produce in order to send off the season as the fall, otherwise known as the best cooking season of the year, starts to roll in. Here's what I've got:

I've listed everything as it would appear on a menu but by no means should it be prepared in that order. I did mine like so: 
Sunday; cupcakes - sherbet - pound cake - marinate steak. 
Monday; corn relish - potato chips - broccolini - grill steak - whip cream (right before dessert).

Teriyaki-Ginger Flank Steak; Charred Broccolini, Corn Relish
Sweet Potato Chips
Cherry Sherbet; Lemon Pound Cake Crumble, Whipped Cream

As I was working with the finished food I also came up with two ways to plate it all thus the "dual plating" in the title. 

With regard to pictures I still find myself struggling to remember to actually document the entire process and not just the good parts (the end). This particular menu required going between several moving parts all at once to get the food on the table for my family in time so photo ops came less frequently than I was anticipating. This cooking stuff is easier for me than the blogging part but I'm learning.

So in the words of The Joker "here...we...go."

This assuages some guilt for the underwhelming amount of pictures.

Special Equipment
Charcoal or propane grill
Kitchen Aid stand mixer with ice cream bowl attachment
Food processor
Mandoline slicer
Dutch over or deep fryer
Chinois/cone strainer

Teriyaki-Ginger Flank Steak

Step one for any sort of dish with meat is buy good meat. As I post more and more dishes I'll go into detail for specific types of meat. In this case - grilling flank steak - look for cuts about an inch thick as evenly around as possible with a healthy amount of marbling but not thick hard fat. Also buy USDA graded meat. It drives me nuts when I see people buying up ungraded supermarket meat unaware that that pretty bright red piece of meat with no fat in it is about as bad as beef gets. If none of this makes sense please read up on USDA grading and what makes good meat good. More people are doing it wrong than there are doing it right. With that rant out of the way (sorry about that) let's get back to it. 

Flank steak
Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce & Marinade
Kikkoman Low Sodium Soy Sauce
Ginger root, about 6 medium to large 1/4" thick slices
6 Garlic cloves, sliced
Black pepper

Season steak with fresh ground pepper and place it in a resealable plastic bag. Distribute the ginger and garlic evenly on the steak. Fill the bag with teriyaki and soy sauce using about 3 Tbsp of soy sauce for every cup of teriyaki until the steak is mostly covered. Marinate the steak, turning the bag occasionally, 6-24 hours. 

Heat grill for both high (400F) direct and indirect cooking, which means leave an area of the grill without coals or a lit burner. Remove the steak from the bag and clean off any ginger and garlic on it. Grill over high heat until browned - about 3-5 minutes per side. Move to the cooler side of the grill and cook until desired doneness - 10 minutes for medium-medium well. 

Allow meat to rest 2-3 minutes. Slice thinly across the grain and serve.

Charred Broccolini with Garlic Oil

1 bunch of broccolini, stems trimmed
4 garlic cloves, roughly minced
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp black pepper

Simmer olive oil, black pepper, and half of minced garlic seasoned until garlic begins to shrink. Strain into heat-proof container, reserve cooked garlic. Boil broccolini until bright green and crisp tender, drain and mix with oil and garlic. Grill over high heat until smoking and just beginning to char. Remove from grill and serve or place in oven at 200F to keep warm.

Charred Corn Relish

Man I can't say enough about this little dish inspired by Bobby Flay. It's as easy as it is versatile. Feel free to add a charred minced jalapeno for a little heat. I omit it here since I'm the only person in my family who likes heat. 

2 ears of corn
vegetable oil
5-7 basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp chives, finely chopped
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar

Boil corn in salted water until just tender, drain and cool. Brush lightly with vegetable oil, season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat until charred around. Don't char the whole ear, leave some spots clean. Slice corn into bowl, mix with remaining ingredients, rest 15 minutes. Serve at room temperature. 

Sweet Potato Chips

The trick to these is trying not to eat all of them before it comes time to plate.

1 large sweet potato, peeled and sliced 1/8" thin
vegetable oil for frying
kosher salt

Heat oil in Dutch oven or deep fryer to 325F. Fry potatoes in small batches, turning occasionally to avoid air pockets, until deep golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Season with salt.

Plating Dinner

Arrange sliced steak on platter, top with broccolini, garnish with corn relish and chips.

Family Style
Or fill the chips with small pieces of steak, corn relish, and broccolini florets.

Fancy Pants Style

Cherry Sherbet with Lemon Pound Cake and Whipped Cream

If summer were a dish this would be a strong candidate to represent it. The only thing missing is a splash of bourbon which I plan to remedy with the leftovers this week.

680g cherries
juice of 2 lemons
1C sugar, finely ground in food processor
2 Tbsp raw orange blossom honey
1C fat free milk
1 1/2 Tbsp heavy cream

Cook cherries and lemon juice in large saucepan until warm, soft, and beginning to burst. Puree until smooth with a little pulp. Mix in remaining ingredients. Chill in freezer until very cold. Process in ice cream maker and freeze to harden. 

Pound Cake:
1 1/2C cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4C sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
2 Tbsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp lemon juice
16 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and hot

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease loaf pan with a tiny bit of the melted butter then dust it with flour. 

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Process sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest and juice in food processor to combine. Add hot butter to running processor in a steady stream to incorporate. Pour mixture in mixer bowl fitted with whisk attachment.  Sift flour in in 3 batches, whisking each to combine and scraping sides of bowl between each batch, until no lumps remain. Pour batter into loaf pan, smooth top, tap pan on towel several times to force out air bubbles. Bake 50-60 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a wood skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack. 

Whipped Cream:
2C heavy cream
4 1/2 tsp confectioners sugar
2 tsp vanilla paste

Whisk ingredients with mixer at medium speed until stiff enough to hold shape.


Fill a glass with sorbet, top with cake and whipped cream. 

I'm all about looks and this still wasn't worth it.
Make sure it's wide mouthed glass. I tried it with a wine glass and while it looked real pretty (in person) I ended up just doing this with it:

Business time.

So long summer, you've been very educational but it's time to start saying goodbye to light and refreshing and start getting into some "stick to your ribs" cooking. Hoodie weather looms on the horizon (as the forecast calls for 90's this week) bringing football and hockey in tow and there's no better venue for a home cook to show off than at a pot-luck. Might be high time to start practicing this week.

**To be honest this is all going much better than I expected it to. I find myself more motivated to cook than I usually am, which is a freakish level to begin with. I'm more comfortable in the kitchen than anywhere else and things come very easily for me there (except making rice - it's my kryptonite) so being bad at something in that setting, in this case documenting my process, is a welcome struggle. I've found that it's also improved my thought process in that I'm far more calculating when I prepare throughout the week instead of flying by the seat of pants in the supermarket every Friday afternoon. I've become efficient enough to start a back catalog of rainy day posts which are already hard to sit on. All in all I must say that I'm enjoying this exercise and I hope you are too. **

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Frozen S'more

Something I've learned in my life is that the one thing more popular than S'mores is the idea of S'mores. I've seen it more times than I can count; someone brings the ingredients, that intrepid individual maybe even gets a few made, but before long everyone is forgoing the toasting and just snacking on grahams, marshmallows, and chocolate. Let's face it after cramming your face full of BBQ and beer they're a hassle, which is a shame because they are, in all their simplicity, perfect. 

So, still riding this frozen treat wave I've been on all summer, I set out to further simplify the S'more with an incredibly convoluted heard me. Anyway, I did sticks last time and chocolate cookies are just tops so here to kick off the send off of the summer BBQ season is the Frozen S'more Sandwich. 

Quick disclaimer for those of you who don't follow my exploits on Instagram (@nickwoost hint hint) I can in fact cook things (quite ably I might add) other than frozen treats. This won't be a "dessert blog" so to speak but dessert is my favorite course and I've been killing ice cream lately so I wanted one more before moving on to a different course that way I can really let everyone down next week.

Special Equipment
Metric kitchen scale
Glass or enamel casserole dish
Kitchen Aid stand mixer & Kitchen Aid ice cream bowl add-on or any ice cream make
Tamis/Drum Sieve
Chinois/Cone Strainer
2.5 - 3" round cookie cutter - I used a mason jar lid
Silpat silicone baking mats
Small food chopper or food processor 

Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream

The similarities between this and the vanilla ice cream are no accident. That vanilla recipe is somewhat of a golden rule to follow for making ice cream. It's just a matter of finding what to remove and replace. In this case 175 grams of marshmallow for 1 cup of milk. However this recipe is more complicated than last week. The initial stage of the custard has 3 highly temperature sensitive processes going on at once so be sure to have everything ready, otherwise known as mise en place, to facilitate a more fluid transition between steps.

175g mini marshmallows
150g egg yolks
166g raw sugar
1 Cup whole milk
2 Cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla paste
heavy pinch of salt

Broil marshmallows in casserole dish at 350, stirring each time the top begins to brown, until the entire mixture is an even golden brown. As the mixture begins to appear mostly browned begin warming the milk, cream, and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat to just below a simmer. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl to thicken. Remove the marshmallow from the oven and give it a stir. Pour the hot milk/cream into a spouted container and gently whisk it into the eggs to temper them (remember not to go too fast to avoid curdling the yolks). Strain the egg-cream mixture through the tamis into a larger saucepan. Add the marshmallow paste. There may be hard clumps of toasted marshmallow initially, they will dissolve for the most part. Cook the custard gently over medium heat, stirring briskly to break up the marshmallow, until steaming and thick enough to coat a wooden spoon (remember the finger trail test). Strain the custard through the chinois into an ice bath, stir in a heavy pinch of salt, and cool until warm. Chill 7-24 hours (this custard is so front loaded with sugar that there are no complex flavors like vanilla that need to bloom overnight). 

Process in an ice cream machine and spread in a pan lined heavily with plastic wrap. Wrap it all 
up and press it mostly even. Freeze until hard enough to cut out with a cookie cutter.

It doesn't need to be perfectly smooth, that would be impossible.

Triple Chocolate Cookies

I'm wandering in the Guy Fieri zone with these and if the results weren't so delicious I'd hate myself a lot more. The marshmallow ice cream is potent so I wanted a cookie rich enough to not get buried under it. Cocoa powder and two types of chocolate did the job. Just make a dentist appointment now and save yourself the trouble.

A quick note on chocolate: Splurge. Chocolate in all its forms is one of those things that improves with how much you spend. I listed the brands I used and all are readily available and don't cost too much but exist toward the higher end of the spectrum.

190g all purpose flour
48g Valrhona unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
2.3g baking soda
3g kosher salt
134g dark brown sugar
104g sugar
12g unsulfered molasses
167g unsalted butter, room temperature
60g eggs
110g Ghiradelli 70% chocolate, chopped roughly into 3/8" pcs
110g Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips

Sift flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda into a large bowl, whisk in salt. Stir sugars and molasses together in a small bowl. Strain chocolate chunks to remove tiny pieces, mix chunks with the chips. 

Cream butter in stand mixer with paddle at medium-low until soft peaks just begin to form. Mix in the sugar/molasses until fluffy, scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Add eggs at low to just combine, scrape bowl. Add flour mix in 2 batches at low, scraping bowl each time. Add chocolate and pulse to combine. Scrape and stir by hand one final time. Chill dough 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with Silpats. Spoon rough ~1" balls spaced 2" apart onto sheets. Bake 14-16 minutes. The cookies are so dark and so gooey you won't be able to tell by sight or a toothpick test that they are done. At around the 15 minute mark you will however smell it start to take on a smokey aroma. Just trust yourself, when they smell done they're done. Cool cookies in pan on a wire rack 7 minutes then directly on rack completely. 


Graham Crumble
9 graham crackers, broken up
5 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 Tbsp sugar

Heat oven to 350.

Chop crackers in chopper until mostly fine. Add butter and sugar and process to incorporate. Pour evenly into small pan. Bake 15-18 minutes until browned and fragrant. Let cool. Pound into mostly fine crumble in plastic bag, return to small baking pan for assembly.


Select two cookies of similar size. Cut out an ice cream round and gently form it onto one cookie. Place the second on top. Sprinkle the graham crumble along the rim. 

House it.

That's two entries! I have a new personal best. I wasn't planning on doing this until next weekend but the whole thing came together so easily that I saw no reason not to share it tonight. For those of you that read it thanks for coming back for seconds.

Labor Day Weekend this week so I'm looking to get back to where I cut my teeth in cooking with some BBQ.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Superstar Bar - Small Beginnings

A food blog! Yes! Because the internet is clamoring for one more of those! I have been asked many times how I do what I do (especially for this first dish) so I'm going to try sharing it all this way. In the event that I actually commit to this I will do my best to keep future posts as creative as this first one and improve my process of documenting the work to show a lot more detail than two poor quality pictures of the final product. So bear with this first slipshod post and remember that big things can have small beginnings.

Four weeks ago I made a promise. I would revive a dessert extinct for over a decade. A callback to childhood days of chasing the ice cream man and hoping against hope that you get The Undertaker. I'm talking about the best frozen treat there is, was, and ever will be; The WWE Superstar Bar.

Easy enough right? Just go buy some ice cream, some cookies, and some chocolate and slap it all together. Uh-uh brother. These had to be as home and hand made as everything else I do. Each component also had to be good enough to stand on its own. So after about four gallons of ice cream and more cookies than I can remember here are the results:

The recipes are in the order they should be performed on this schedule to yield 4 bars;
Day 1-custard, Day 2-freeze ice cream & bake cookies, Day 3-assembly w/ chocolate

Before I begin I must give credit where it's due:
The ice cream and cookies were inspired by Thomas Keller and modified by me to fit my purposes.
I created multi-layered stencils from art found at

Special Equipment:
Metric kitchen scale
Kitchen Aid stand mixer & Kitchen Aid ice cream bowl add-on or any ice cream maker
Tamis/Drum Sieve
Chinois/Cone Strainer
Approximately 5" x 3" oval shaped metal cookie cutter
Silpat silicone baking mats
Americolor Gourmet Writer Pens
Wooden popsicle sticks ~5" long
Thermapen or an accurate candy thermometer with a very sensitive tip

French Vanilla Ice Cream:
2 Cups whole milk
2 Cups heavy cream
1/2 Cup + 6 Tbsp sugar - divided in those increments
1.5 Tbsp vanilla paste
150g egg yolks
pinch of kosher salt
Mix cream, milk, 1/2C sugar, and vanilla in medium saucepan. Heat, stirring frequently to dissolve sugar, over medium heat to just below a simmer; a skin will form, steam will rise, and the liquid will just begin to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat to steep uncovered.
Separate eggs and whisk the yolks with 6Tbsp sugar in a large heat resistant bowl until slightly thickened (the whisk will leave a trail). Return the milk mix to the stove, heat at medium until a good amount of steam rises, stirring constantly. Pour the liquid into a spouted container. Here's where it can all go wrong in an instant. VERY slowly (almost a trickle) add the hot liquid to the eggs, whisking constantly, to temper the yolks. Going too quickly will curdle the eggs and the mixture will be inedible Once all the liquid is in strain the mixture into a clean saucepan. Have a two bowl ice bath ready at this point. Cook the egg-milk mixture gently over medium heat, stirring and scraping the bottom constantly with a wooden spoon, until steam rises and the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon (you'll know when you can run a finger down it and leave a very clean, crisp trail). Strain the custard through the chinois directly into the ice bath, stir in a pinch of salt, cool until luke warm. Chill the mixture at least 12 but no longer than 24 hours. This allows the flavors to develop. The cream is also known as creme Anglaise and is delicious spooned warm or chilled over fresh berries and pastries.

Process the custard in an ice cream machine, spread the soft serve in a pan lined heavily and evenly with plastic wrap - enough to wrap it all up - into a 1" thick "brick." Wrap it all up and gently press the plastic onto the ice cream to even it all out. Freeze 24 hours.

Shortbread Cookies:
180g unsalted butter, 1 Tbsp chunks - room temp
90g sugar
2g kosher salt
7-8g vanilla paste (tricky to find - Sur la Table and gourmet stores stock it)
270g all-purpose flour
Cream butter in stand mixer on medium w/ paddle until smooth, mix in sugar and salt to combine. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl, mix in vanilla on low/stir. Add flour in 2 batches, mixing each to combine on low, scrape shaggy dough around bowl and onto clean surface. Bring together by hand into approx 5" square, wrap in plastic, chill about 10-15 minutes to firm. Pound and roll 1/4" thick, cut out cookies, bake at 350 until very light golden brown. Cool on racks. Once cooled decorate with stencils and pens. Keep in an airtight container.

Remove the ice cream sheet, unwrap it, and cut out the filling using the same cutter from the cookies. Place these on the back of the cookies, pressing gently with a flat surface, then gently insert a stick into the ice cream being careful not to break the ice cream. Freeze on parchment (prevents ink seeping off) at least 12 hours.

Tempered Chocolate:
230g 60-65% cacao bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Heat 2/3 of the chocolate in a double boiler to 131-136F (melting). Remove from heat, add remaining chocolate and submerge it, wait. After a few minutes stir to melt all chocolate. Rest until 82-84F (crystal) then reheat to 88-90F (working). Spread a thin layer on the back of each bar. Work quickly it will freeze almost instantly. Freeze the completed bars at least 3 hours before serving.

Overall these are not difficult to make. They do however require lots of planning, preparation, and time. It's a great project to improve some key skills, especially fine temperature management, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking to become a better cook.