Sunday, June 21, 2015
Sunday, September 28, 2014
The caveat, of course, is killing the lobster first.
Wine: As Dr. K says, “I’ve been enjoying this recipe with Oregon Pinot Noirs.” The dentist knows he’s talking about.
Sunday, August 31, 2014
|Buttery corn kernels on their way to becoming "creamed".|
After the credits rolled at the end of the movie (thanks to Food and Wine magazine for the screening), Mr. Colicchio graciously answered a few questions. I wanted to know how he liked the movie. “It’s a fun movie,” he said. “It was really important for Jon to get the food right, and I think he did. The food is a great part of the film, you know.”
And then he kept talking, but not just about the food. Colicchio is a dad of three sons—ages 21, 5 and 3. What he loved about the film, he told me, was seeing the relationship between the chef and his son. “When I was a much younger chef, when my 21-year-old was little, there was a lot of time I didn’t get to spend with him,” Mr. Coliccho explained. “And so the story between the father and the son, to me, was really special. It brought a lot of memories back and it’s time you can’t make up.”
In Mr. Colicchio’s first cookbook, Think Like a Chef (Clarkson Potter, 2000), his version of Creamless Creamed Corn is a “modern interpretation” of the creamed corn he loved as a kid. In Craft of Cooking: Notes and Recipes from a Restaurant Kitchen (Clarkson Potter, 2003), he writes: “This is my son, Dante’s, favorite summer dish at Craft, and it’s not hard to figure out why; the white corn, already sweet to begin with, is served in a ‘cream’ derived naturally from puréed corn, further intensifying the corn flavor.”
There was the movie and the lost time between father and son. Then there was the father-and-son shared love of the creamless creamed corn.
When I got home I looked into my vegetable bin and wondered—what bit part could my three ears of week-old corn play? This corn well on its way to becoming cornbread? But behind the taffeta husks were still-juicy kernels. I shucked, sliced kernels off the cobs and made the corn “milk” by pureeing kernels in a blender with a little water. At the stove I sautéed diced onion in butter—adding salt and pepper at every turn, like a chef—and left the heat on low so the onions would become tender, translucent, slowly without browning. The sharp onion muted into a buttery aroma. Ten minutes, that’s all it takes, suggested the recipe.
I added the remaining corn kernels to the buttery onions and kept the flame low.
Patience. Cooking pulls you into a reality sphere, where time slows to the present and all you have to do is show up. You think all might be lost with week-old corn, but it isn’t. Relief came from Mr. Colicchio’s recipe in Craft: “Unlike corn on the cob, which is best eaten straight from the field, corn that is a day or tow old may work even better here, since some of the natural sugars will have converted to starch, allowing for thicker cream.”
After squeezing all the liquid from the puréed corn kernels, I poured the pale yellow corn “milk” into a makeshift double boiler and heated it until it clung to the back of a spoon just like the consistency of heavy cream, the way Mr. Colicchio said it would thicken. “Wow!” “Insane” and “Holy Molly!” I caught myself saying out loud as I stirred the “milk” into a heavy-cream thickness. Mother Nature is never too late.
When I added the thickened “milk” to the corn-onion mixture and stirred, it became creamy like risotto. Instead of using tarragon as the recipe instructed I improvised with weeks-old thyme that had dried and sat crumbled in the bottom of my vegetable bin. I used what I had on hand. The corn tasted of summer even at its end.
“The second time around with my 3-year-old and 5-year-old, I spend more time with them,” said Mr. Colicchio, “because I’m a little more established in my career. I’m not going in the restaurant at 8 in the morning and leaving at 1 o’clock the next morning anymore.”
The father-and-son angle? “I thought that was a great story,” Mr. Coloicchio said. “But, the food scenes were just awesome.”
Creamless Cream Corn from Mr. Colicchio’s Craft of Cooking
Mr. Colicchio has his own description of this dish—his son, “Dante’s, favorite summer dish at Craft.” I have offered it here verbatim with permission from his publicists.
10 ears of white corn
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons roughly chopped fresh tarragon
Shuck half of the corn and remove the kernels from the husks[sic]. Place the corn in a blender and discard the cobs and husks. Purée the corn with 1/3 cup water. Press the purée through a fine sieve and reserve.
Shuck the remaining corn, cut the kernels from the cobs, and reserve. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, salt, and pepper and cook until the onion begins to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the reserved corn, salt, and ½ cup of water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is almost tender, about 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, transfer the strained corn purée [sic] [the intention, I believe, is to transfer the corn “milk” that was extracted from the purée] into a double boiler set over barely simmering water. Cook gently, stirring frequently, until the liquid thickens to the consistency of heavy cream, about 3 minutes. Season the purée with salt and pepper. Remove the corn and onion mixture from the heat and stir in the corn cream. Add the tarragon and adjust the seasoning if necessary with salt and pepper.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
|Kellerman Cranberry Sauce Photo by Naomi Kooker|
Sunday, February 26, 2012
I took my three nephews - David, Michael and Tommy - when there were small to Boston's legendary Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe in the South End. I had just moved out of the apartment I shared with my husband, soon to be Ex. Charlie's was an oasis, and it was a way to thank my nephews for having come to my place to help pack boxes and hang out.
At Charlie's we shared some precious moments over pancakes (griddlecakes in their lexicon) and serendipity broke out when a famous Red Sox player walked in. You can read the whole post in Where Hash Rules, a delicious narrative about the people - past and present - surrounding this iconic diner, which opened in 1927.
I often bribe my nephews with food. So, when they came to help their city-living aunt pack boxes to move, I rewarded them with breakfast at Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe. Now, picture three brothers—ages 12, 10 and 9-ish—from the ‘burbs in the South End for the first time. Even looking for parking was exciting.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
If there’s anyone who knows how to make exceptional hot chocolate, it’s master pastry chef Jacques Torres—Mr. Chocolate himself.
A few years ago I took my teenage nephews (all three of them) on a Christmas jaunt to New York City. The weekend included a Knicks vs. Bulls game at Madison Square Garden; dinner at Blue Smoke; a stroll down 7th Avenue in Brooklyn (We stayed with a friend there); and a pit stop at Jacques Torres Chocolate in DUMBO before hitting the highway home to Boston.
The last stop made the most lasting impression. The hot chocolate was how I recalled it at Angelina in Paris (sorry, M. Torres, if you find the comparison unfavorable). For an impressionable American, taken there by a Parisian, it was a culinary “Aha!” moment: thick silky creamy chocolate—not cocoa—poured from a pitcher with a bowl of whipped cream to do with what I wanted. It was heaven.
The chocolat chaud at M. Torres’ cozy shop “down under the Brooklyn Bridge” brought me back to Paris and opened my nephews’ eyes to what good chocolate could do if you let it. Truth is, they were so taken aback by its richness they couldn’t finish it. Me? I happily drank the leftovers and zinged eastbound on Interstate 278 toward home.
M. Torres graciously spoke to PressureKooker, recently, imparting the three most important elements in making great hot chocolate:
1. Use good chocolate. “The quality of chocolate is very important,” he says in a lovely French accent. “Do not use cocoa powder—cocoa is a byproduct of chocolate. …It’s not a finished product.” (He special orders chocolate from Belcolade in Belgium.)
2. Boil the milk twice. While there’s no need for cream or anything richer than milk, M. Torres does recommend boiling the milk twice: once before you add the chocolate, then again after you’ve added the chocolate.
3. "Forget the marshmallows—I love marshmallows, but not in hot chocolate,” he says. “I think people put in marshmallows because they’re too lazy to make whipped cream. …Not Chantilly. Chantilly has sugar.” In fact, he prefers unsweetened whipped cream, softly whipped. “The cold cream on the top, once it starts to melt and the hot chocolate, together it’s heaven.”
Heavenly Hot Chocolate for Two
Time: About 5 to 10 minutes to make the whipped cream; five minutes to make the hot chocolate
12 ounces whole milk
4 heaping tablespoons good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (for this recipe, I used Ghirardelli, 60 % cacao bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 pinch kosher salt
1 pint whole cream, lightly whipped by hand with a whisk
In a medium-sized, thick-bottom saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high heat until it softly comes to a boil.
Once the milk gets frothy, remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate, whisking quickly until it’s completely melted.
Put the mixture back on the heat and slowly bring to a soft boil. Keep whisking. Add the sugar, water and salt. Whisk for a minute while softly boiling.
Remove saucepan from heat. Pour hot chocolate into pre-warmed mugs (a good way to keep the chocolate hot). Top with whipped cream. Serve immediately, savor slowly.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
There’s nothing like the wafting smell of browning butter, the sizzle of placing your egg-soaked bread in the pan and smelling the mix of cinnamon and warmth as you await your French toast. The first time I made French toast as a kid I confused the process with pancakes. I loved both, and at home would alternate between the two for Saturday breakfast. OK, my mom was really the one who made them.
For the record, my mom has never called me dumbass.
We scrapped the pan-toast (which to this day might be a bigger hit than chicken and waffles, but we never tried it), and got going on the French part: beating the eggs, adding a dollop of milk, a sprinkle of cinnamon and frying it up. I’m sure it was fine.
Fast forward to high school when I waited tables at a rustic resort in Maine during the summer. Our cook was a groovy dude, Carey. And, for the record, I had a bad crush on Carey. He wore fringed suede boots, touted a thick beard and said “man” a lot. At dinner he and the sous chef fired up white Russians once the mis en place was complete—smart. It didn’t hurt he was a graduate of the CIA. I just didn’t know why someone would hire a spy to cook at a resort.
Then Carey blew my mind. To make French toast he whisked some eggs, added cream, and sprinkled in cinnamon. But he didn’t stop there. He shaved in some fresh nutmeg, a pinch of sugar, a few grains of salt, a dash of vanilla, then, true to his line-cooking expertise, added a healthy tablespoon of rum. That was the closest I was going to get to loving Carey. I’ve always made it the same way since, often without the rum.
Carey’s Sunday French Toast
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon cream or half and half, or whole milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 shaves of fresh nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pinch salt
6 slices regular bread, white or whole wheat
Real maple syrup
Whisk all the ingredients, except butter, bread and syrup, together in a shallow bowl.
Over medium-high heat, heat up enough butter to coat the bottom of a large skillet. Once the butter is lightly browned (you can smell it’s nuttiness), soak each piece of bread in the egg mixture and, two at a time, lay them in the skillet to cook. Turn down the heat to medium so you do not burn the bread. Once each side is cooked well, about 2 minutes each, turn them over. You may want to turn them over again to brown each side evenly.
Serve with butter and real maple syrup.
HOSPITALITY NOTE: One way to keep it all warm: warm the plates (provided they are oven proof) in about 150-degree oven. Heat the syrup.