Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cooking Escoffier: Purée de Pois (Split Pea Soup)

If you told me years ago that I would make a split pea soup and that I would actually like the end product, I would've been more than skeptical. My father used to make split pea soup a lot when I was a child and I absolutely loathed it. I don't know if it was the taste, texture, or the color, but I refused to eat it either way. Luckily, Escoffier's version of the recipe has erased my childhood apprehension for this classic soup.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pizza Margherita

So I was watching reruns of Bourdain's No Reservations a few days ago when I saw something interesting. Tony sits down for a Neopolitan pizza and starts to recant all of these rules that one must follow while making pizza in Naples. These aren't just any old tips, tricks, rules or otherwise. These are actual rules. There are restrictions on ingredients, technique, oven temperature, and even the exact dimensions of the pizza. Furthermore, your business has to be inspected by an organization known as the "Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana" just to earn the right to say you're making pizza! Here is a list of their rules that I found on Wikipedia:
  • Neapolitan pizza dough consists of wheat flour (type 0 or 00, or a mixture of both), natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer's yeast, salt and water.
  • Only San Marzano tomatoes are used for sauce.
  • The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer.
  • After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other machine, and may be no more than 3 millimetres (0.12 in) thick.
  • The pizza must be baked for 60–90 seconds in a 485 °C (905 °F) stone oven with an oak-wood fire.
  • There are three official variants: 
    • Pizza Marinara:  made with tomato, garlic, oregano and extra virgin olive oil, 
    • Pizza Margherita: made with tomato, sliced mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil, 
    • Pizza Margherita Extra made with tomato, buffalo mozzarella from Campania in fillets, basil and extra virgin olive oil.
After looking at those rules you know that most of them aren't achievable unless you have access to a special oven and special ingredients. All the same though, I try my best to follow the rules stipulated by the AVPN.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pine Nut and Artichoke "Schmear"

The schmear is in the middle.
This one kind of came out of nowhere yesterday while I was making Pommes Duchesse. I knew I was going to make the potatoes with the leftover cut of strip we had, but that was about it. Later on I made a "schmear" of artichokes and toasted pine nuts using cream cheese, and I finished with a little diluted meat glaze that I had in the fridge. In the end we were all pretty happy with what was for dinner, albeit a very light dinner.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cooking Escoffier: Pommes de Terre Duchesse

Beef Bourguignon with a layer of Pommes Duchesse
A few days ago I found my copy of Le Guide Culinaire covered in a light haze of pollen in the extra bedroom. This alerted me two things that I have been doing wrong lately. First, I have't cooked from Escoffier's masterpiece in over a month. That is a problem since I was determined to really get into his work once I got it in the mail. (It wasn't cheap either.) Secondly, I really need to close the windows in this house. Cheaping out on air conditioning is filling my house with pollen and as we all know, allergies don't mix well with pollen. Anyway, after I dusted my book off I leafed through the pages looking for my next Escoffier experience. I decided that cooking something complicated was out of the question, so went with a classic potato recipe that Escoffier uses to compose many of his hearty meat dishes.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Making Quick Iced Coffee

As we gently waltz into the months of Summer the usual hot coffee is becoming a non-option as we walk out the door to work or to run errands. Myself, I almost always have my coffee cold all year round. I see how that doesn't make sense during the Winter and such, but whatever. The fact is a boiling hot cup of coffee during hot and humid weather makes even less sense to me, so I am going to share my method of making a quick cup or two of iced coffee.
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