martes, 1 de diciembre de 2009

Xmas Dessert

For more than a year now, I had been obsessing about Dulce de Frijol. While I have tasted azuki paste and my parents told me about sweets made from beans or garbanzo, it wasn't until last year's Culinary Symposium that it stuck. I didn't get a chance to do much with the lingering idea for a good long while. I even wento to the Second Culinary Symposium...

Luckily for me, the same presenter was on this year, and he showed the same clip. This year, I recorded the clip and later I took note of the recipe. So now I had the information needed to tackle my obsession. What I didn't have was a purpose other than pure curiosity. Then I read this. Author Haalo talks about interchangeable ingredients. So instead of azuki, our pinto bean paste went in. Some people relate wontons with tortillas (and why not), but the look of fried wontons reminds me a lot of Buñuelos, a typical dessert for the holiday season.

Buñuelos are usually served with a syrup made with piloncillo and accompanied by some hot drink such as atole, champurrado or hot chocolate. We simply decided to add some heat to the syrup by putting a bit of chipotle in there.

Other elements in the dish are chipotle crumble and vanilla Ice Cream. This dessert made with playing with regional flavors will be available for Holiday Dinners this season.

jueves, 26 de noviembre de 2009


I really can't complain. This has been a very eventful year. Of course that the events leading up to this actually started since last year when I had the chance to join the team at Buké. Things have been crazy since then, we've cruised (or dragged ourselves) through some very bad times like the whole H1N1 flu craze, a couple of holidays and overall a slow economy. While we're not at all where we'd like to be, I'd like to think we're well on our way.

Personally, this job has landed me a few interesting opportunities, such as participating in the "Cocinero del Año" semifinal, taped an episode for a web-based show (which hasn't aired because suppposedly it's going to go on TV) and had a couple of press mentions.

One of the best things that have happened this year was being invited to be a part of the "Cocina de Autor" cookbook. The project was born as a charitable project for the Mano Amiga Foundation, who give out scholarships for elementary education. Mano Amiga managed to gather some of the biggest names in the Culinary Industy in Mexico like Thierry Blouet, Enrique Olvera, Paulina Abascal and Guillermo Gonzalez and other very important chefs from Monterrey like Antonio Marquez, Adrián Herrera, Mima Gonzalez, Alberto Sentíes and others. I am really blessed to have my name on the cover among theirs and as it's the day for it, Thanks are in order to all of those who have allowed me to have such luck.

I guess I'm a published author now too... cool!

lunes, 26 de octubre de 2009

OMG GMO! or requiem for corn.

Just this last week, Mexican Government approved 15 out of 35 permits that will enable GMO corn planting. The beneficiaries of such permits are Monsanto and Dow AgroScience. This news has been received in a couple different ways. On one hand Greenpeace has strongly objected to this, arguing that SAGARPA (Secretary of Agriculture) is ignoring international agreements and advice from experts in the field. On the other hand, mainstream press personalities have expressed their approval of the motion. Their argument: that this will improve the yield of our fields, enabling a sort of "Argicultural Revolution".

I for one, find the move appalling. I believe that the press is missing on some big issues such as quality of the produced food, and where the revenue from that nasty corn is going. It's definitely not going into the poor journeyman's pocket. And that is where all the problem spawns. For a good deal of our history, we have had a history of exploiting the people tending to our fields. And it has been the greed of the people buying dirt cheap products from them that has led to the ruined state our fields are in. Take Vanilla, for example. Veracruz is the home of Vanilla, and for decades, Papantla vanilla was regarded as the best available. Seeing that their product was in demand, sellers (not the growers) entice extract producers to start messing with the product. Buyers notice and demand for our vanilla spirals down, resulting in being perhaps third-string option. Gladly, as with Coffee, responsible growing and movements like Fair Trade have started their rescue of Vanilla.

With corn, however, the outlook is definitely stark. I had the chance of meeting Diana Kennedy, recently. She asks: how can a country as rich as ours embrace a crap product like Maseca? We've just embraced worse. Lots of mexicans don't know what nixtamal tastes like. Now, I am reminded of David Patterson when I feel we're en route to forget corn.

The only word I can think of to describe what's going on right now is shameful. Eight years ago, when I was in France, you could see the strength of the anti-GMO shift. Producers were proudly boasting: Non-GMO in their labels. We seem to be bidding them welcome.

Need more? How about watching Michael Ruhlman and Dan Barber at Chautauqua. Mr. Ruhlman goes, as Mr. Patterson earlier, into detail about why the corn produced by the mass industries is wrong, even explaining how it affects the rest of the food chain. Chances are, you already read Michael Ruhlman's Blog but as I said earlier: if you don't, start doing so.

Finally, a big Thank You to Donna Turner Ruhlman for kindly letting me use her "Ear of Corn" picture. See more of her amazing work at

martes, 20 de octubre de 2009

Pics from the job

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Taking pictures onsite is challenging, to say the least. Lighgting in kitchens isn't quite adequate for good photography. However, I have been trying to get some better pictures into this blog.

Here's a sampling of some pictures taken of both dishes from our menu and others created for our wine tasting events.

martes, 13 de octubre de 2009

Cocinero del Año Menu

Last september I participated in the local semifinal of the Cocinero del Año contest. It was my first contest and I learned a lot about what needs to be improved for following attempts (meaning I didn't do that good).

Here's the menu I prepared:

Appetizer 1:
Smoked Salmon and Xiqueño Mole Tostada

Appetizer 2:
Escabeche Carrot Cappucchino and Pig Trotter Croquette

First Course:
Salt-Cured Nopal and Confit Tomato Salad.

Red Snapper with Beet Mole, Cacahuazintle Corn Raviolo, Oyster Mushrooms and Cilantro Pesto

Chocolate and Corn Millefeuille, Garapiñado Ice Cream, Coffee Sauce.

Maybe next year!

sábado, 10 de octubre de 2009

2nd CANIRAC Culinary Symposium

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Last year the State's Restaurant Chamber (CANIRAC) organized a culinary symposium focused on the "rescue and preservation of Northeastern Mexico's cuisine". Many of us were surprised to see that the seemingly simple cuisine of the northeast isn't shabby at all. True that we don't have the culinary complexity or popularity of the central and southern regions. But it's still worth taking a look into.

Last Wednesday, CANIRAC hosted their second edition of the symposium, and again, there was a fair share of great information to chew on.

The event kicked off with the early day being mostly about conferences, starting with Dr. Glafiro Alanís, from the State University's Faculty of Biology. His conference was a presentation of the edible plants available in Nuevo León, some of which were unknown to many of the assistants.

Eduardo Alvarado, host of the show "Reportajes de Alvarado" presented a recap of some of the show's moments highlighting the people of the state and their traditional foods. Asado de Puerco, Sweet Bean Paste, Beef Cortadillo and many other regional specialties were highlighted in them. After his presentation, CANIRAC presented Mr. Alvarado with a special recognition for the show's labor in the rescue and preservation of local culinary traditions.

Nina Mayagoitia, from Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma came up next and after a brief talk, gave way to Sommelier Humberto Falcón. Humberto talked about the company's premium brand: Bohemia, the characteristics of the different varieties, proper service for each and even pairing tips.

After a Short break, consultant Miguel Espejel took the stage and briefly gave us some pointers on Restaurant Marketing.

For the second part of the Symposium, we moved to the Museum of the Northeast's terrace for the cooking demos. Unfortunately, it was a bit hot last week so both Speaker Chefs and attendees were in a bit of an uncomfortable situation. The good part of this was that the demos were both entertaining and illustrating and more than made up for the weather.

First up, Saltillo's Juan Ramón Cárdenas shared one of his passions: Pecans. Being native of the region, pecans make up a pretty important part of our cuisine, particularly in the sweet side of it. Chef Cárdenas told us about how the Tlaxcaltecan women, finding themselves lacking avocado leaves to cook with, took upon the pecan tree for substitutes and proceeded to make a Pecan Tree leaf green mole. It was served over some pork rib carnitas... delicious! He also shared a quick way to make "Queso de Nuez", a local candy similar to Marzipan.

Chef Abdiel Cervantes was up next. Chef Cervantes has dedicated himself to promoting Mexico's culinary heritage both locally and internationally. He spoke to the many culinary students in the audience about the importance of discovering and mastering the local tradition. He also prepared a Prickly Pear Ceviche and a "Cactus Flan" flavored with saffron and served with a poblano sauce.

Last but definitely not least, Chefs Alberto Sentíes and Adrián Herrera took the stage and prepared a three course menu using flowers as ingredients. This was definitely one of the highlights of the day, as their contrasting culinary styles meshed together in some quite interesting dishes.

I was forgetting, there was one last, surprise demo held by Chef Rodolfo Onofre on fruit carving, unfortunately it was getting late and I had to go back to the restaurant to our regular Wednesday wine tasting.

Congratulations to CANIRAC and all the speakers for this second Symposium, our region definitely needs more efforts like this one.

martes, 6 de octubre de 2009

Introducing: TGRBT #1

After recently hosting a round of TGRWT, blogger Aidan Brooks comes up with a really interesting idea: They really go badly together, inspired by a recent Masterchef episode...

Worth a read if not a shot!

martes, 8 de septiembre de 2009

TGRWT 19 Tomato and Black Tea announcement

While we're still expecting the news from Trig, the announcement for the next round of TGRWT is already out!

Pablo, from Medellitin is our host this time and his choice of ingredients are: Tomato and Black Tea. His words are the best to say what this is all about:
But, maybe, just maybe, you can use this to get your creative juices going, and find your way back into your poor, neglected kitchen. I wanted to choose common ingredients that were familiar, seasonal and could still be exciting for people to riff on. I also wanted to choose things that would let our vegetarian/vegan friends contribute.

So there we have it... Let's cook!

miércoles, 2 de septiembre de 2009

Mexican menu in the works

Mexican Independence Day is just around the corner. So we're taking a shot at making our first multi-course menu for the whole restaurant. We're thinking of doing a 5 course menu, details about service are still to be decided. Heck, the whole menu is still to be decided. But here's a sneak peek:

Griddled Jalapeño Panela
Roasted Pumpkin seeds
Margarita Serrano Vinaigrette

Green Pozole
Chicken Confit
Radish Salad

Bacon fat plancha Shrimp
Frijoles Puercos
Cotija Frico

Braised Short Rib
Nixtamal Gnocchi
Corn Purée
Colorado Chile Sauce

Vanilla Panna Cotta
Tamarind Gel
Peanut Praline Sauce
Coffee Ice

I'm still working on this. When it's done, I'll try to re-post here and at the restaurant's blog.

P.S. A note of credit: Thanks to the Ideas in food twitter feed for the gnocchi.

domingo, 23 de agosto de 2009

TGRWT #18: Plum and Blue cheese.

So as I'd announced previously, TGRWT #18 is being hosted this time by Aidan Brooks. As usual, I had a bunch of ideas as to what to do in this round. But thanks to the extra push by Mr. Brooks, I decided to tackle dessert.

I had ideas swimming around for a while, but it wasn't until I received a dinner invitation that the planning process really got started. The ingredient list was there: Plums (Pluots), Blue Cheese, some nut and something bacon.

We have an awesome bread puveyor that had brought over some samples of pecan bread. Since it wasn't quite fresh (Frozen) I decided to use it to make French Toast. This made me think of adding spices to the mix, but since we were going to taste this with Sparkling Riesling Icewine, I decided to skip on them. I also refrained from making a candied bacon crisp and opted to make Bacon fat Pecans (just like making butter pecans). Finally, I had to skip on adding some blue cheese crumbs because I didn't have the time.

For the pluots, I used part of them fresh and made a gastrique-like sauce with the rest. I didn't cook it too long to keep the wonderful flavor of the plum.

Here's what it ended up looking like:

Pecan Bread French Toast, Danish Blue Ice Cream, Pluots fresh and gastrique, Bacon Fat Pecans

Taste wise, the flavors were pretty much spot on as I had imagined. I had thought that the Ice Cream could be too sweet and overpowering, but it when placed in the context of the whole dish, it was balanced out with the sweet tartness of the gastrique. I would've liked a bit more presence of the salty element (pecans or the crumble, perhaps). While the dessert was pretty good on it's own. The Pilliteri ended up being even sweeter and overpowered the whole dish. Still it was a very good way to end our sunday Meal.

miércoles, 5 de agosto de 2009

Morelia Tour

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Earlier this year, my wife and I took off to Morelia for a weekend. We had a great time visiting that beautiful city. Michoacan is an amazing state full of incredible places and lots of very interesting food. Pictures of the sights are on our Facebook, but I got all the ones of the Food.

Particularly memorable were the all the sorts of tamales: Corundas, Uchepos and Wheat tamal as well as the awesome Black Zapote Sorbet.

jueves, 30 de julio de 2009

TGRWT #18: Plum and Blue cheese.

It's back! Although I don't know why I get so excited seeing how I am really a terrible blogger and I've participated in little of these awesome events. Still, they're tons of fun and it helps getting the thinking hats on. Sooo...

As we all surely know by now, TGRWT is a blogging event created by Marin Lersch over at Khymos. Using the principle of aroma pairing, we're challenged to create dishes incorporating ingredients that are seemingly an odd match, but that should go well together because of common aroma compounds.

This round is being hosted by Aidan Brooks. To make things even more fun, Aidan is challenging us to go the extra mile with an optional competition. Be sure to scroll all the way down when you read his post to get the scoop!

My only regret is that I didn't get to see good Pluots this year...

lunes, 13 de julio de 2009

What people want.

While creating the dessert section of our menu, my two principles were to try to be true to the ingredients of the Mediterranean region, and to be different to what everyone else is doing (Thanks to the restaurant Chains, stuff like Hot Apple Pie and Brownie, both a la mode is everyewhere). It was a matter of testing, but we finally settled on the following choices:

Our version of Manchego and Membrillo: Olive Oil and Quince Paste Cake, Young Manchego, Artisanal Quince Paste.

Goat Cheese Flan, Orange Sauce, Dates, Pistacchio Crumble

Yoghurt Panna Cotta, Honey Stewed Peaches

Lavender Chocolate Mousse, Apple Granité, Apple Rollup

Citrus Espuma, Citrus Caramel, Pistacchio Joconde, Chamomille Gel

Pear Tarte Tatin, Port Wine Sorbet.

For our lunch menu, we also added a Black Pepper Ice Cream, Strawberry ALmond Chutney and Crumble.

After a mere four months of operation, changes are due. There will be a new dessert and we're getting our Ice Creams outsourced and getting rid of the Port Sorbet (Mainly because of production issues). Our new dessert has been conceived by listening to what people want. Unfortunately, people want what every other place in town is offering: Brownie A la Mode.

Since this is business, after all, we're making them the darned thing. But not quite. The brownie part is being replaced with a Almond and Cocoa Financier. We're buying a wonderful Burnt Caramel Ice Cream to go with it, and finishing the dessert with some Candied Orange Peel.

It will be available sometime this week.

martes, 7 de julio de 2009

Microwave Crisping

Foodplayer Linda's last post on crispy asparagus sparked an interest into making crispy vegetables with a different technique than that used in pastry (simple syrup + oven). Two things stand out for me in her experiment, apart from the obvious, exciting result: first, finding a better way to use our microwave oven, and second, the fact that replicating the technique seems doable within almost any kitchen.

After asking her about other experiments with other vegetables, she let me know that she has gotten good results out of mushrooms and she's got a list of others to try. We have a dish at the restaurant that, while it sells like crazy, I've always felt that it needs something to give it a bit more of a visual impact. So the thought of crisping zucchini came to mind.

I took some zucchini bits left over from some prep and since it was too short to slice lengthwise, sliced it into rounds. Prepped my salted water and blanched them. I laid the zucchini rounds on paper towels and transfered to parchment. In comes snag #1. The dehydration process. Our oven's lowest temp setting is 220°F. So instead of the 30 minutes at 100°F they were there for 15 minutes. Snag #2 came from a huge human error. I was pulled into a meeting and couldn't keep watch over my experiment. When I came out of the meeting I found my rounds perhaps a bit too dry or they were too thinly sliced as many were sticking to the parchment or too fragile to handle.

Still I managed to get some into the microwave. Before I had my zucchini ready, I microwaved some of our soft apple glass with pretty decent results. Testing on the glass allowed me to notice that perhaps tossing stuff into the microwave at full power wasn't too wise. Plinio advised to reduce power. Which led to a bunch of trial and error tests to get the right power and time. It also reminded me of David Arnold's microwave power woes and to think about how the oven being non-linear could affect the result.

Unfortunately, I didn't feel like finishing pastry's mise en place with my testing and I didn't quite like my zucchini slices. So results obtained so far are mixed. Initially it feels like a wafer. It's paper thin and somewhat crispy. Once inside the mouth it loses the texture and becomes chewy. Taste, however, is very good. Although I'm thinking of seasoning them slightly. Perhaps with curry...

martes, 2 de junio de 2009

Adventures w/Activa (Not too proud)

I had been saving my Activa samples for... I don't know exactly what. I had been toying with the idea of rolling up some marinated arrachera (skirt), a meat that's practically a staple in barbecues around here. And cooking it like a roast. 

However, I haven't had much time to do much fun, now that I have a space to play, I don't dedicate my time or budget to things that aren't part of the restaurant operation. So the Activa sat in my freezer. 

Just recently a friend of mine called me to ask for some of it. So the Activa came out of retirement. I let him have some of the GS as well as the regular GM. I still have to check with him how his meals worked out. I also noticed that I had been given two samples of both, so I was left with some spares without really knowing what to do with them. 

The opportunity presented itself in a shameful fashion. A batch of braised pork shank was cooked a bit too long and the meat was falling off the bone. Usually this is a good sign, but this one was impossible to handle. Out came the Activa. 

I made a RM Slurry, brushed it on the meat and reassembled the shanks in the best way possible. Wrapped it tightly in film and left them in the refrigerator so set. 

Today we got the first order for a shank. It worked perfectly. Not the proudest example of how to use the Activa, but our first test with it. 

viernes, 29 de mayo de 2009

Milk and Sugar

I've always wanted to take the flavors of childhood and tweak them into something more apt to be served in a restaurant. I've never really gotten around to doing it, however. I have reinterpreted things like Reese's cups or a cake that was very popular about ten years ago (Chocolate cake with a flan layer on top) with relative success as far as the clients' enjoyment of the desserts. 

Growing up in urban areas of northern Mexico makes for pretty lousy food memories, as far as traditional eats are concerned. Having parents that were born elsewhere doesn't help either as far as my exposure to what the local sweets are. However, I did get to know a few of the sweets of the region. Like Jamoncillos, Cocadas and the most famous "sweet" of the region: Pan de Pulque. 

Jamoncillos and Cocadas share two ingredients that could be considered staples in pretty much every region of Mexico: Milk and Sugar. Wherever you go in Mexico you're bound to find sweets based on custards, curdled milk or more commonly caramelized milk. On a more modern note, condensed milk has also made a place for itself in the sweet pantry of our kitchens. 

In the 2003 movie "Politiki Kouzina" (A touch of Spice), the main character reflects on milk and sugar. He mentions having seen many seniors walking around with boxes of sweets based on these ingredients, which are, ironically, the first flavors we taste. 

One very popular sweet combination, and one that many Mexicans have eaten regardless of their region is the Galletas Marías and Cajeta. The former being a very popular biscuit, the latter, our version of Dulce de Leche (made from goat's milk). 

Taking that idea and this one from Linda, I wonder how people would react to a new, elegant version of the childhood staple. How about Galletas Marías and Lemon?? 

jueves, 21 de mayo de 2009

Menu Changes

Due to event logistics, the menu has changed for tonight. It is now as follows:

Bohemia Clásica
Tuna Tartare "montado", citrus dressing, soy caramel.

Bohemia Obscura
Seared Beef Filet "Montado" Red Onion Compote.

MariaTinto Celeste Blanco Sauvignon Blanc
Olive Oil confit Salmon, Meyer Lemon, Grilled Zucchini, Pine Nut

Adobe Guadalupe Gabriel
Duck Confit, Arúgula, Red Onion, Berry Vinaigrette.

Adobe Guadalupe Kerubiel
Beef Filet Tartare, Pimentón de la Vera, Roast Garlic, Chocolate.

martes, 19 de mayo de 2009

Beer and Wine Tasting at Buké

Tru Miller, from Adobe Guadalupe, Humberto Falcón and Cervecería Cuauhtémoc are coming to Buké. We're having a 30 pax beer and wine tasting. 

This is what I've come up with so far: 

Bohemia Clásica: 
Tuna Tartar "Montadito", Citrus-Honey dressing, Soy Caramel. 

Bohemia Obscura: 
Beef Filet "Montadito", Red Onion Compote,

CelesteBlanco Sauvignon Blanc: 
Seared Salmon, Grilled Zucchini, Citrus, Pine nut. (I had come up with a bolder match, but perhaps I'd need a longer menu).

Adobe Guadalupe Gabriel:
Pork Loin, Coffe-Cocoa soil, Berry Chutney

Adobe Guadalupe Kerubiel:
Beef Filet, Chocolate-Wine Sauce. Beet Confit.

It's in the works so it might end up changing.

lunes, 27 de abril de 2009

Swine Flu Panic

Bread Aisle
Originally uploaded by cookiejesus
The city's deserted. Movie theaters are closed. Restaurants are empty (Rumor has it we're going to be closed. . Concerts and plays are cancelling and rescheduling. Schools are closed for a week and a half. People are all walking around with their mouths covered and some even are wearing gloves.

But what really got me was going to the supermarket. People are really stocking up on some basics. Milk, toilet paper, water and bread aisles are ravaged,. Lines are long as hell, but orderly, still.

Me, I picked up a six pack for me and a fashion magazine for my wife (she works in a school, still no date for going back to work)...

lunes, 20 de abril de 2009

Too much?

Gagnaire's totally synthetic dish

Perhaps, I'd say. 

miércoles, 15 de abril de 2009

Bacon Torches

Popsci has an interesting piece on using bacon (actually prosciutto) to make a thermal lance and cut up a steel pan. While it may not be my favorite way of consuming prosciutto, it's still an interesting read.

martes, 14 de abril de 2009

Duck in Rose Petal Sauce (Sort of TGRWT #16)

I didn't get to make an entry for TGRWT #16, which was about chicken and rose. All I did was translate a recipe from a book.

Last weekend, I got the chance to dine at El Sacromonte, in Guadalajara and had a couple of dishes that incorporated Rose Petals.

First up were the Quesadillas with rose petals and strawberry aioli. They weren't really as good as they may sound. The rose petal was overpowered by the strawberries and the aioli didn't resemble anything but a jam or a coulis. 

On the other hand. We did get the roast duck in rose petal sauce. Since it was such a huge dish, my wife and I shared. She got the leg and I got the breast. The sauce was really good, nicely sweet and it went really well with the duck. My only problem is that the duck was a tad dry. I believe my wife got the better end of this issue.

miércoles, 1 de abril de 2009

What's in a name?

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy.
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face. O, be some other name
Belonging to a man.
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.I
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for thy name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

Because we've all heard of this by now

jueves, 19 de marzo de 2009

Quail in Rose Petal Sauce (Translation)

TGRWT #16 is about chicken and roses. I had mentioned a recipe from "Like Water for Chocolate". I looked up the recipe and here’s the translation. The recipe came from here.

6 Quails
12 Roses (Red, preferrably)
12 Almonds, toasted
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
2 Drops Rose Esence
2 Tablespoons anise
2 Tablespoons Honey
2 Cloves of Garlic
Salt and Pepper

Carefully separate the rose petals. Grind them in a mortar with the anise. Cook the almonds in water and purée them. Mince the garlic and sweat them in butter. Add the almond purée, honey, rose petal mixture and salt. If necesary, add the cornstarch to adjust thickness. Add the rose esence.

Place the quails in the sauce and simmer them for a maximum of ten minutes so they'll take the flavor.

According to the book, they're to be served in a platter with a whole rose in the center and petals scattered around.

 Might be worth a try…

lunes, 9 de marzo de 2009

TGRWT #16: Chicken and Rose

Markus from Supernova Condensate is the host for round #16 of TGRWT. As you all probably know by now, TGRWT is a blogging event where we're challenged to come up with dishes that combine ingredients that may not seem like a good match, but should match according to their OAV's. 

It may sound a little complicated, but once you get past the previous ideas you may have about ingredients going together with others, it can be quite fun. 

For this round, Markus is inviting us to combine Chicken and Rose.  As he states, rose is an ingredient that is used fairly often in Middle Eastern and Oriental cuisines. Mexican cuisine also has a few recipes using roses. Some of them made famous by Laura Esquivel's Book: Like Water for Chocolate

So there you go, stop by Markus' blog to get the details on how to join in this time. Deadline is April 1st!

lunes, 2 de marzo de 2009

TGRWT #15 - Dark Chocolate and Smoked Salmon

As usual, I'm a bit late with my posting. However, this time it's really because we've been very busy as of lately. Deadlines for the restaurant's opening are approaching and we're all on fifth gear to get things ready on time. 

Off the bat, I had thought of making something involving mole. However this idea quickly got scratched because one of the contributions had mole in it, so back to the drawing board. I felt that this combination really called for the ingredients to be left pretty much alone. But some of us can't really do that. So I had to go and complicate things a little bit. 

One of my favorite pastry blogs, Cannelle et Vanille just posted a recipe to the latest daring bakers challenge. Funny, it was just what I had been thinking about. Flourless cake and Ice cream. You could say that this post would fit both TGRWT and Daring Bakers...

So here it is: Smoked Salmon and Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches. 

First up: The flourless cake. 

I had been thinking about flourless cake for the restaurant. We have a mousse dessert that needed something texturally different. For this idea, I initially considered the double chocolate cookie from demolition desserts. But when I saw Aran's recipe, I decided to try it. It is good. The valentino's texture is really nice and dense and the taste is quite intense (we used dark chocolate of unspecified percentage).

The Ice Cream:
For the ice cream, we used a pretty straightforward custard recipe. We infused the smoked salmon in milk. Cooked it like a Creme Anglaise, then while churning we added bits of extra salmon. I ended up piping the Ice Cream into cilinders with a valentino bottom, topped it with another piece of valentino. Overall, there was about 75g of salmon in 500ml of liquid (50g in the infusion and the rest folded into the ice cream).

While it was hardening, we tested the ice cream on it's own. It was quite good. Tasting really sweet and creamy at first then yielding to the smoked salmon taste. A bit later, when it was colder. We tasted it again. The flavors were a bit more integrated, and the feeling of it was strangely reminiscent of the sensation of eating smoked salmon and cream cheese, only sweet. I could eat a lot of this. I believe it'd be a hard sell because of the psychological block that the idea would propose. 

Tasting them together, the combination was very GOOD! The only problem is that the valentino was a bit too thin for the amount of Ice Cream. The cooks, one of the owners tasted it and they were all captivated. I don't know if the'yd order it from a menu.

I'll save one for my wife to taste tomorrow when she gets back...

domingo, 1 de marzo de 2009

TGRWT #15 Round-up

The fifteenth round of TGRWT invited us to pair dark chocolate and smoked salmon. While it may have initially come off as a completely weird match, it seems to have given good results along the contributions. Hopefully, some of the participants will like to add this combination into their repertoires.

Here are the contributions:

Travis used some Tim Tam biscuits to give this combination an Australian twist on his Black Forest Salmon skewers. Apparently, the flavor and texture of his creation was a success since he barely managed to snap a picture of the last two.  You can read his post here.

Grant, from Charlie Weis and the Chocolate Factory created Smoked Salmon Cigars with Dark Chocolate Mole. Again, the flavors combined in a very pleasing manner. Grant's recipe can be found here.
Erik from Fooducation  joined this TGRWT with his Smoked salmon-goat's cheese-chocolate ganache-tortilla roll-ups .  Read his post here.

Markus, from Supernova Condensate also joined the cooking with his Hot Chocolate Salmon Pancakes, which seem to have left him thinking about adding chocolate to his salmon breakfast toast. Apparently, they were so good, that the pictures couldn't be taken.

Josh, from Silk Experience decided to put the flavor combination to the test on his Oscars Party and he created a black sesame cracker topped with a sriracha ricotta, smoked salmon, ginger syrup and shaved chocolate.  Sounds quite good and it looks good too. Click here for the post.

Alex, from Cooking Sideways also put the flavor combination to the test creating a Spinach and Aubergine Salad with Dark Chocolate and Smoked Salmon Dressing for a romantic dinner. He highly recommends it. Picture will come later. 

Daniel, from What's Cookin', Good Lookin' also took advantage of a social event to play with the Dark Chocolate and Smoked Salmon Combo. Daniel approached the ingredients just as they are in making his Chocolox. These bites were all eaten by his collaborators, so again, the flavor combination was good, albeit a bit too strong on the chocolate. The story's here.

Yannik and his friend Robert created two dishes for TGRWT. Robert made an Salmon Praline with Sauce à L'Orange for appetizer and Yannik made a dessert: Dark Chocolate Brownie with Smoked Salmon Honey Topping and Mango Dill Sauce. Check their dishes out at Yannick's Blog.

From Portugal, Ana sent her recipe for a Smoked Salmon Millefeuille with Chocolate Sauce and Pepper Caviar. The recipe's at Céu da Boca, her blog and it's worth a look. The dish is beautiful.

Rob, from The Curious Blogquat, and host to the previous round of TGRWT decided to try both sweet and savory versions of Hot Chocolate with Salmon Marshmallow. Rob's customers seem to have enjoyed samplings of this, and it appears that enjoy they did. Read about it.

Papin, from Flavor Alchemy, and host to round #7 created a Smoked Salmon Salad with Chocolate Dressing that looks quite interesting. It's over at his blog.

Martin, who practically needs no introduction to TGRWT people, also contributed to this round with his Smoked Salmon in Cocoa Gel with Lime

Finally, I would be a terrible host if I didn't join into the fray. So I made Ice Cream Sandwiches... I'll put the pictures up sometime later because, quite frankly, they were awful... But they did taste nice. 

Thanks everyone who participated in this edition of TGRWT, to Martin for allowing me to be the host and, well, if anyone's still reading after this long post... thank you too.

Stay tuned for Round 16!

Addendum (23/03/09)
I casually found this Entry from Aitorevolution. It's all in Spanish, but it's worth a look.

jueves, 26 de febrero de 2009

Goat Cheese Flan

Goat Cheese Flan
Originally uploaded by cookiejesus
Here's the recipe for a piece I wrote on Sugar Savvy:

Goat Cheese Flan with Orange Purée and Pistacchio Crumble

Goat Cheese Flan:
100g. Condensed Sweetened Milk
100g. Goat Cheese
200g. Evaporated Milk
80g. Heavy Cream
4 Eggs.

Blend all the ingredients. Pour into molds, cook at 175°C until set.

Orange Purée:
Cut one orange in eight parts. Simmer in simple syrup along with a branch of rosemary. Blend while adjusting the consistency and taste with the syrup, pass through a fine mesh sieve. Reserve.

Pistacchio Crumbs:
Equal Parts Ground Pistacchio, Flour, Butter and Sugar. Mix until it resembles a coarse sand. Bake at 150°C until dry and just slightly golden.

sábado, 21 de febrero de 2009

TGRWT #15 Dark Chocolate and Smoked Salmon by Travis

Travis from Australia has sent in his submission for this edition of TGRWT. Since he hasn't got a blog of his own, I'm uploading his submission here.

Not wanting to over-complicate things, and in the midst of party planning, I decided to make a salmon and dark chocolate canapé - and, since I live in Australia, I thought I'd give it an auzzie twist.

We have a biscuit here which is gaining in notoriety - it's called a tim-tam, and is basically 2 layers of chocolate biscuit, with a chocolate-cream filling, and then coated in a layer of chocolate..

I bought a variation on this one - which was a black-forest style, containing a dark, sweet cherry centre.

I also picked up a beautiful tray of sliced, smoked Tasmanian salmon, which is very lucky to have survived long enough to make it to the next step!

At home, in my mad-science lab of a kitchen, I merrily chopped a tim tam in two, and then cut a square of soft cheddar to roughly the same size.

I sandwiched the salmon and cheddar between the two biscuits, skewered them with a long wooden stick, and then cut the shape into rounds with an apple corer.

Now - on to the important bit... The taste! Oh. My. God. So GOOD!

The first sense one gets is of the biscuit, as you crunch through it. The dark chocolate clings to your tongue a bit - with bittersweet intensity, but then gives way to the soft, buttery texture of the salmon, and it's delicate smoky-fishy flavour.

The cheddar added a more complicated salty note, that really helped to round out the whole experience. I was utterly delighted, and proceeded to make several more. Unfortunately, all but two were harmed before I could take any photos..

This flavour combo is lovely, and my only regret is the finish on my little 'nibblies' - I think I'll try to turn them into petite fours next time, using chocolate biscuit, a small amount of cherry jelly / jam, cheddar and smoked salmon, and then dipping it all into melted dark chocolate.

It's not exactly 'cookery' - but it certainly is a quick way to get this flavour pairing into your mouth ;)

martes, 3 de febrero de 2009

TGRWT #15 Dark Chocolate and Smoked Salmon

Martin, from Khymos is letting me host round 15 of "They go really well together" or TGRWT. If you don't know TGRWT, it's the food blogging event that has us put together seemingly strange pairs of ingredients that share a certain number of chemical components, thus, making them "compatible".

After spending whatever free time I had trying to come up with some flavor pairing that would be interesting to work with. Thanks to the foodpairing website, I've come up with a couple of ingredients that might be interesting to play with: Dark Chocolate and Smoked Salmon. Since we're in a bit of a rush, and I'm not much of a chemist, I'll leave the Chemistry for later.

Here's how to participate in this event:

  1. Prepare a dish that combines dark chocolate and smoked salmon.
  2. Write a entry in your blog by March first with TGRWT #15 in the subject and make sure to include a link to the header of this post for trackback links. Readers will probably be particularily interested in how the flavour pairing worked out, so make an attempt at describing it.
  3. Deadline for submissions is March first. A round-up will be posted by me here some days later with pictures.
  4. Please send me an email at jrnavlag (at) gmail (dot) com with the following details: Your name, URL of blog and URL of the TGRWT #15 post and a picture for your entry in the round-up.
  5. If you don’t have a blog, email me your recipe, name and location and I’ll be glad to include it in the final round-up.
Have fun!

Hans Beck

Photo AFP

German carpenter Hans Beck passed away last January 30th. I have many memories from my childhood of playing with his most famous creation: Playmobil figures. Somewhere in my parent's house there's still a big Playmobil pirate ship tucked away.

I stopped seeing playmobil toys for a while until I went to France. I found myself face to face with a great childhood memory. Now I know that they are still here in toy stores... and I still love them.

Thanks Mr. Beck. Rest in Peace.

miércoles, 28 de enero de 2009

Butterscotch Panna Cotta

I don't really know where or when I first tasted butterscotch. Being relatively close to the U.S. Border, it's not strange that I had a share of exposure to the American culture. Cable TV and American Schooling helped. Regardless, it was a flavor that had long ago fallen into oblivion in my mind. Until a few years back, when I tried one recipe. Then again it went into oblivion.

It wasn't until Shuna posted her recipe, that butterscotch came back into the scene. Added to that, the constant mention that the Bacon, Apple, Butterscotch and Thyme dish at Alinea has been getting, and I found myself wanting to try the combination.

The first time I tried this idea, It went in a totally different direction, serving a small amount of butterscotch in a glass with crumbled, crispy bacon on top and a skewered sauteed apple sticking out of the glass.

The second time around, I went for a simpler presentation, while also letting the bacon show. Next time I make it, perhaps I'll try David Lebovitz's candied bacon and unmolding the Panna Cotta.

The Panna Cotta recipe:
250ml. Butterscotch
500ml. Heavy Cream
6g Gelatin sheets

Bloom the gelatin sheets in cold water. Mix the Butterscotch and Heavy cream and bring to a boil. Add the gelatin and dissolve. Pour into molds and set.

The apple puree was pretty simple. It was just apples sauteed in bacon fat along with some sugar and thyme.

The panna cotta in itself is rich and good, the bacon goes along marvelously, I just have to find a way to better balance the flavors.

martes, 27 de enero de 2009

Happy Chinese New Year... sort of.

Spaghetti Lunghi
Originally uploaded by cookiejesus
So it was the Chinese New Year yesterday and my wife and I were hungry. We were at the grocery store considering picking up something quick and simple. Then I saw the pack of Spaghetti Lunghi. Without any fact checking, as it seems to be the thing to do these days. We picked it up along with some heavy cream, as we had a few ingredients at home.

We set up a big pot of water and while it was ready I cut and rendered some bacon. I didn't even let it get nice and crispy before I added a generous splash of Marsala. Then cheese was added to the mix: Winsconsin blue, some herbed goat 's and cream cheese for texture. Some heavy cream, salt and pepper. I let that sit while the pasta cooked.

When the pasta was ready, it went into the pan, along with some of its nice water. Heated and stirred the whole thing together and finished with a sprinkling of Parmesan.

Along with a nice Riesling (it's what we had at hand), we toasted our Chinese New Year with our "long noodles".

jueves, 22 de enero de 2009

Polenta Cups with Boston-Style Beans

I made this for a recent cooking meeting. We wanted corn and beans to be involved, since they're staples in Mexican gastronomy. I recalled a recipe from a book I was lent once for polenta cups and decided to fill them up with Boston-style beans, which I've wanted to try for a long time.

Polenta Cups (From Party Bites)
1 stick plus 4 tbsps butter
3/4 cups cream cheese
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons polenta
a pinch of sea salt crystals

Cream butter and cheese together. Combine the flour, polenta and salt. Add gradually to the creamed butter and cream cheese until a dough forms. Break balls and press into mini muffin pans. Bake until golden (about 20 minutes). I made half the recipe and got 24 small cups from this.

I don't really have a recipe for the beans. I used approximately a pound of beans, a quarter of an onion, a couple ounces of bacon and about a quarter of a cup of muscovado (I couldn't find molasses). Ketchup and Worcestershire sauce were added to taste. I also stewed them instead of the traditional baking.

Finally, the candied jalapeños were a much quicker version than what should've been. I just simmered a jalapeño julienne in simple syrup until they were traslucent. Sort of what you'd do for candied orange peel, except that I didn't allow for the repetitive drying and simmering in syrup.

To serve, I just filled the cups with the beans, added a sprinke of sea salt, a dollop of sour cream and finished with the jalapeños.

Pictures will have to wait until I get my bluetooth thingy since I only managed a nasty cellphone pic.

P.S. Incidentally, when I searched the recipe up in the book, it turns out they filled their version with beans as well, a black bean chili that looks quite interesting as well.

martes, 6 de enero de 2009

TGRWT #14 Malt and Soy Sauce

It's on again! This edition of TGRWT is being hosted by Rob at The Curious Blogquat. The ingredients this time are, as previously stated. Malt and Soy Sauce. Any form of malt will do for this so because of the difficulty that some ingredients may present, I'll use beer. A bunch of ideas are coming. I just hope to make the time in order to actually get to cook something.

Deadline's February the 1st. Get cookin'!